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Team Bus Crash Investigated; Discussing Sex and Rape in Light of Steubenville Case; GOP's Plan to Fix the Party; "Big Dance" Storm Warning

Aired March 18, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

While a college campus mourns investigators are looking for clues into the crash of a team bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The coach of the Seton Hill women's lacrosse team and the bus driver are dead.

Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti has more for you.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two days after the crash, a mystery. With no other vehicle involved, why would a bus driver suddenly swerve off the Pennsylvania Turnpike with 22 college athletes and coaches aboard?

(voice over): A Sunday night service remembering victims of Saturday's bus crash that killed both the driver and women's Lacrosse team head coach Kristina Quigley. The 30-year-old mother of one was six months pregnant.

MIKE BIDDLE, SETON HILL ATHLETE: It's just horrible especially for her husband and people who knew here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a small child.

BIDDLE: Yes her kid especially is never going to see his mom again so it's pretty hard.

CANDIOTTI: Seton Hill's campus near Pittsburgh is stunned. The other 21 people aboard the bus survived with injuries including 19 players and two coaches. Investigators are examining the team's charter bus for any possible mechanical problems. An autopsy is scheduled today on the 61-year-old bus driver for any medical explanations.

CODY HERALD, SETON HILL STUDENT: Everyone is devastated by the losses and it seems like we're all just coming together, you know, as a school.

CANDIOTTI: Authorities say there was a mix of snow and rain when the bus swerved off the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Carlisle, jumped a guard rail and went about 70 yards before slamming head-on into a tree. The force peeling away the front left side of the bus. The death of the lacrosse coach is hitting the campus hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone was saying did you guys here? Did you guys hear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just devastating because you never think it's going to happen to you and then it does.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Federal authorities tell CNN the bus company involved Malacker (ph) has a satisfactory safety rating.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


COSTELLO: Checking other "Top Stories" this morning. Too old, too white, too insular to win national contests -- that's just some of the findings from a new report released this morning by Republicans. It follows the second straight loss in a presidential election. The 100- page report details hundreds of fixes including many to mend relationships with Hispanic and African-Americans. The Republican Party will spend $10 million to rebrand, refocus and reach out to minority voters.

Two inmates back in custody and two more people have been placed under arrest after a brazen prison break in Canada. Two men posed as tourist and commandeered a helicopter from a Canadian tour company and then like a scene out of a James Bond movie the chopper flew over a prison, lowered ropes to two waiting inmates and off they went. But within several hours all four were captured.

Residents of an Indiana neighborhood have not been allowed back home after a corporate jet slammed into several homes in South Bend. The plane was carrying four people when it crashed into a row of homes. Two people onboard the plane were killed. The other two people onboard that plane were injured along with one person on the ground. All utilities have been shut off over concerns of a possible gas leak.

Coming up next for Republicans, the wait is finally over. The party releasing that much anticipated autopsy. We'll break down the findings with our "Talk Back" panel.


COSTELLO: We want to take a closer look at the rape trial in Steubenville, Ohio, now. Two high school football players -- stars in a small Rust Belt town convicted of raping a drunk teenager.

The boys cried as they were sentenced to juvenile detention for at least a year but the girl she likely faces years of pain and torment. Images and crude comments on her sexual assault were plastered all over the Internet. It was the crowning cruelty in a case that questions the cultures of social media and the idol worship of high school sports stars.

Last hour we heard from Jeff Gardere a clinical psychologist and Katie Hanna a rape crisis counselor. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL & FORENSIC PSCHOLOGIST: And here we had a town that has a football mentality where these players are treated as if they are demigods and therefore they can get away with a lot of appalling behavior so something led up to this. And then you have to look at the gang mentality that night. There were other teenagers who are involved who had taken who had gotten immunity, who had taken pictures of her so people were egging each other on toward this very inappropriate, horrific and sexually violating behavior.

COSTELLO: Katie I want to read you something that the Attorney General, Mike Dewine said. He said that "Rape is not recreational activity we as a society have an obligation to do more to educate our young people about rape. They need to know it is a horrible crime of violence and it's simply not OK." It seems sad to me that he thinks that we actually have to educate our young men about what rape is.

KATIE HANNA, OHIO ALLIANCE TO END SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Yes and rape is the kind that happens in every community every day all across the country, across Ohio, across the world.

And we have to remember how we got here. We got here because not only was she raped she was also objectified over social media, she was blamed and she continues to be re-victimized over social media. It wasn't her fault. And we need to really focus on the offenders and we have to address these prevention issues because victim blaming will never end sexual violence. We have to address this through prevention.

COSTELLO: What should parents tell their sons?

HANNA: I think --


GARDERE: Well parents need to teach -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

HANNA: Oh, that's OK. I think that parents need to have conversations with their teens about healthy relationships, about consent, and we also need to echo that in schools and football teams on the fields, peers need to be challenging each other and talking about these issues. You know sitting in that courtroom and hearing teen after teen not do anything, there was so much people that could have intervened that night and there are so many people that could have intervened after the fact over social media.

We have to support survivors. Because what happened in this case is why so many survivors don't come forward. She said herself that she was worried she was going to get blamed for what happened. And in order for us to be able to move forward and to heal, we need to believe survivors.


COSTELLO: Ohio's Attorney General is calling for a grand jury to take another look at the case to make sure the truth has been fully exposed.

We'll be right back.



DENNIS PERKINS, FOOD WRITER, "METRO PULSE": My name is Dennis Perkins. I'm a food writer from "Metro Pulse". We are in the old city part of Knoxville and where we're going to go to Boyd's Jig & Reel.

How are you doing? Is it kilt night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. Well actually tonight is not kilt night but our staff is always wearing kilts.

PERKINS: It sounds good to me. I didn't bring my kilt, can I stay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You certainly can. Everyone is welcome.

PERKINS: All of the cuisine is based on Scottish food. So a lot of the Scottish, the traditional dishes are -- tend to be their most popular. I think what I'm going to do is I'll have Scotch egg and macaroni pie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've done a little study of the Scotland area, the region, what drawn in that area and what they like to eat and what's their favorite. It's done a lot in two steps, either braising and stewing and in this procedure we're doing a fry and a bake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you go. You have a yummy Scotch egg ready to eat. Our mac pie is mac noodles and shredded cheese and take a puff pastry and sprinkle bacon all over and it's your finished product. Mac pie with bacon.

PERKINS: You know the great thing about this place is you do not have to have good manners. I like the Scotch egg because it has my three favorite food groups, it's sausage, it's egg and it's deep fried. And I'm just going to dig into this. This is comfort food deluxe. Just imagine you were in Scotland having this. This would make your day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really friendly and the food is just out of sight.



COSTELLO: It's time now to "Talk Back".

800 conference calls, 36,000 surveys and more than 3,000 listening sessions. Put it all together and you've got one great big report for the Republicans. Officials are calling it an autopsy. It covers everything from Republican messaging to candidates in an attempt to move the party forward. The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, announced the findings this morning.


REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There's no one reason we lost. Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren't inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. And our primary and debate process needed improvement.


COSTELLO: Needs improvement is one way to put it. When asked to describe the party, focus groups used the words "scary", "narrow- minded", "out-of-touch" and a group of "stuffy old men". Ouch.

A $10 million minority outreach is part of Priebus' plan. How do you do that without changing the party's core beliefs? Well, in part you get involved in minority communities and kind of massage the messaging.

Example, if you talk to NAACP like Mitt Romney did in 2012, you don't exactly do this.


MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find and that includes Obamacare and I'm going to work to reform and save --


COSTELLO: Joining me now, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro. Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: Nice to have you with us. Ana, I want to go back to that event at the NAACP in 2012. With this new --

NAVARRO: Why, Carol?

COSTELLO: I was intrigued with the new massaging of the message.

NAVARRO: I thought we were friends.

COSTELLO: I'm sorry. I have to ask you this. How could Mitt Romney have better put that and make the audience a little more receptive to what he had to say?

NAVARRO: Carol, Mitt Romney who? Look, he's yesterday's news. He's not the candidate anymore. He himself has acknowledged that there were a bunch of mistakes made by his campaign. He's not the one setting policy. He's not the one setting the tone for the Republican party now.

You know, I think what we should talk about is what the RNC did today. They appointed some very no nonsense pragmatic people including our colleague Ari Fleischer from CNN and also Sally Bradshaw among them to take a hard, harsh honest look at everything we did wrong.

It was a bunch of things. They've had, you know, the wherewithal to admit it and put a plan together. It's a start. Is it the magic formula? The silver bullet to start winning elections? No. It's more than ever done before.

It's an acceptance and an acknowledgment of some of the very grave mistakes that were made and it's what the RNC can do. The RNC can't pass laws. They don't craft policy. They do party building. I think what they're doing right now is very important and very refreshing and it's good for voting groups. I think the best thing that can happen to Hispanic or African-Americans or women or young people, any voting group in America is to have two strong healthy parties courting them and competing for their vote.


COSTELLO: And that's what I was going to put to you, Robert. It's better for the country when we have two strong political parties.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

Right now only 31 percent of voters identify themselves as Republican and that's a problem for all of us. Some of the things that RNC suggested is that Republicans embrace immigration reform because Hispanics think you don't want us here. Why should we listen to you anyway? The other thing is they should put people in minority communities so that Republican leaders can get to know these people so that when things are said that aren't quite right, that these Republican leaders can go to those communities and say that's not how we all feel. Those are good things, right?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely, carol. As you know I've been elected to the Democratic National Committee for 12 years. I'm a proud democrat. Let me tell you, the country is stronger when we have a more viable Republican party reaching the mainstream of America and in fact my party is stronger when we have a more viable Republican party.

And I give Ana a lot of credit because she has made great efforts as a Republican leader by signing a statement recognizing marriage equality and helping to move her party in that direction.

The problem though is that Chairman Priebus who has made this exhaustive effort to try to move the party forward can't do it just by messaging. It has to be by recognizing a fundamental need to change public policy. You can cut debates back from 20 to 10, you can change the calendar. But as long as you have candidates engaging in the hateful divisive rhetoric we heard from people like Herman Cain and Rick Perry and certainly Donald Trump and others amongst others, it's going to continue to isolate the Republican Party. The point simply is they are trying to get a facelift when in fact, this party needs an organ transplant.

COSTELLO: Ana, I would like to ask you about that. I asked an official involved in this RNC study whether Republicans would for example Donald Trump and his birther stuff.

I asked him will people like Donald Trump no longer be welcome in the party and he said in essence, no. That doesn't mean that. Should it?

NAVARRO: No. Look, I cannot tell you just how stupid it was everything that Donald Trump said at his CPAC speech last week was condensed 15 minutes of sheer stupidity I heard in a long time. That doesn't mean he or anybody else should be excluded from the Republican Party. That's not how you build a big tent party.

What we have to be is tolerant of each other. Yes, look, you know, I'm a big tent Republican and I can tell you Donald Trump makes me take a deep breath and it tests my notion and my belief in a big tent Republican party. But that's what being a big tent party is about. There's got to be room for people who are pro-traditional marriage and pro-gay marriage. There's got to be people -- room for people who are pro-immigration reform and not. There's got to be --

ZIMMERMAN: There's got to be zero tolerance --

But Ana there's got to be a zero tolerance for hate-mongering, for homophobia and that's the challenge for your party. You can't stop candidates from saying ugly, stupid things. What's intolerable is when you see congressional Republican leadership tolerate it.

Look the other way when Rush Limbaugh engages in his behavior or try to excuse that kind of conduct. There has to be standards and that I think is going to be critical to building the big tent picture you are talking about.

NAVARRO: I agree with you, Robert. I think that when something stupid is said Republicans have to come out strongly against it.

Thanks to both of you. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: The streaking Miami Heat had to share the sports headlines in town with a school known more for its football team. The University of Miami Hurricanes punched their ticket to the dance by winning the ACC tournament. They'd already won the conference regular season title.

John Zarrella is in Miami. You're one lucky guy.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Carol, this is a football town but it's not really a football town right anymore. Miami Heat 22 straight wins. They play their arch rival to Boston, Boston Celtics, tonight and Miami Hurricanes. What a Cinderella story. No one ever expected Miami -- not outside the program -- to win the ACC regular season, to win the tournament, and to get a number two seed in the NCAA tournament playing the University of Pacific on Friday. Uncharted territory.

Cinderella arrived at the dance really early in the form of the University of Miami Hurricanes. No question about that. No one expected the kind of performance they put on this year. But as a team filled with seniors, five seniors and Shane Larkin who happens to be son of Barry Larkin, the hall of fame short stop who played so many years with the Cincinnati Reds -- Carol.

COSTELLO: That's awesome.

ZARRELLA: Yes. Great stories down here.

COSTELLO: I love Barry Larkin. I want to focus on the Miami Heat although I am from near Cleveland and Lebron James and all that stuff. They are pretty amazing. What's the atmosphere like in the city?

ZARRELLA: Well, you know, the last few days they've been on the road; but of course you can't buy a ticket for almost any price to a heat home game. They've got a couple more road games ahead of them before they come home. That Boston game tonight, if they win it -- and Boston of course is the arch rival, the villain -- and if they win that, it will be 23 straight and they will own sole possession of the second longest winning streak in NBA history. They tied the Houston Rockets now. It's the L.A. Lakers '71-'72 team that has that 33-game consecutive streak that's probably way out of reach for anybody.

COSTELLO: You never know. You never know, John Zarrella.

JERROD: All right. Thanks so much.


COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do appreciate it. CNN continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.