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Obamacare Fresh Attacks; Mexican Candidate Scandal; Tom Hanks to Star in a Play

Aired March 23, 2013 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Three years ago President Obama signed his health care bill into law after surviving court challenges. The law is under a fresh round of attacks from Republicans. In a minute we'll go to Washington and hear how the Republicans are trying to get the law repealed.

And a political scandal in Mexico. A conservative candidate is accused of having a steamy past in Las Vegas.

A storm is pounding Colorado right now with heavy snow and heavy winds. It has made travel nearly impossible in some areas and dangerous in others. One huge pileup north of Denver has closed down part of Interstate 25. I-70 from Denver to Kansas is closed to drivers. Casey Wian is in Colorado Springs. What a nightmare it is. However, it looks really placid and calm - fairly calm behind you.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. It's not bad where we are now right now in Colorado Springs, but I can tell you south of here it is absolutely miserable. And was absolutely miserable earlier today. Interstate 25 which you mentioned is closed north of Denver is also a closed because of multiple pile-ups, spinouts on the highway. It is expected to be closed between five and seven hours.

Now we were in the middle of all of that earlier today. We were actually going to check out a lead on another story that we have been working on - the murder of the state's prison department director. And we were not able to get to our ultimate destination because the weather was so bad. Take a look at what we went through a little bit earlier today.

We are at a rest stop off interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado. We are in the middle of a very serious storm. You could see the flags over here just being whipped by the wind. The snow is blowing very dramatically. It really hurts your face just to be standing out here in the snow. Over here you can see - or you can't see Interstate 25. Normally the speed limit on the interstate is 75 miles per hour. You can see this vehicle goes by us. He's going much slower. You can also see on the other side of the interstate vehicles heading south at a very slow rate of speed. Perhaps 30 miles an hour or so. For the past 20 miles that we have been driving, we've seen a succession of accidents. Multi-car pileups, spinouts, traffic backed up for a half mile or so heading south because of the accidents. We couldn't even pull over to shoot pictures of what happened because it was just too dangerous. A very, very serious winter-type storm has hit Colorado in early spring.

Now we saw probably at least a dozen of those accidents according to state officials though there have not been any fatalities, at least as of a half hour or so ago. That's a good thing. But really a mess on the roads here throughout Colorado. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Casey Wian, thanks so much. A treacherous weather there.

All right. So the Brunswick, Georgia, mother who said a teenage boy shot and killed her 13-month-old baby spoke out a short time ago. This is the message she had for the suspected shooter.


SHERRY WEST, MOTHER: That I hate you and I don't forgive you. And that you killed an innocent human life and that I hope you die for it.


WHITFIELD: Two teenage boys are charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Sherry West's baby. West said the boys approached her demanding money Thursday morning. When she told she didn't have any, she said the older suspect shot De'Marquise Elkins shot her in the leg and then walked over and shot her baby in the face. A 911 call made that day was released to us just a short time ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It appears that her baby's been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Listen to me, ma'am. Is the baby breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. The baby is in a stroller. I just came out the door. She's trying to get the baby out now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Hold on. Did you hear any shots in the area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, the baby is shot.


WHITFIELD: De'Marquise's aunt says her nephew was at her house at the time of the incident. Police are still looking for a gun.

More questions after an ex-con was killed in a shootout by Texas Police Thursday. Authorities are investigating whether he could be linked to three different murders in two states. Investigators are looking into whether Evan Ebel could have been involved in the murder of Colorado's top prison chief Thursday morning. There could also be a connection to the murder of a pizza delivery worker in Denver and a Texas prosecutor killed in January. Evidence also connects Ebel to the killings of at least those people. They are investigating right now.

All right. It has been three years since President Obama signed his health care bill into law. The law has survived several challenges, even one in the U.S. Supreme Court. But as Jim Acosta explains that doesn't mean the fight is over.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, Republicans tried once again to repel the president's healthcare law dubbed by supporters and detractors as ObamaCare. The latest GOP senator to take a shot at undoing the law says he's not giving up.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Three years after President Obama signed health care reform into law, Republican opponents are still treating it like a disease that needs to be cured.

SEN. TEO CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Obamacare is hurting young people, it's hurting seniors, it's hurting Hispanics, it's hurting African- Americans.

ACOSTA: Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz is the latest lawmaker to propose eliminating Obamacare. Like all other repeal attempts it failed.

CRUZ: I intend to keep trying to repeal Obamacare and to fight for pro-growth policies every single day.

ACOSTA: Cruz tells CNN the law will put the economy in critical condition.

CRUZ: The economy is not growing. And implementing Obamacare now raises a very real possibility that we will push this nation into a recession. And so I'm trying to make the case -

ACOSTA: You're saying the president's health care law will cause a recession.

CRUZ: It could very well cause a recession.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: We have had more than 35 separate votes in Congress about that. We have always upheld the Affordable Care Act.

ACOSTA: Democrats argue Republicans should just stop, noting the law has not only survived a challenge to the Supreme Court but also former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will repeal Obamacare and I will stop it in its tracks on day one.

ACOSTA: The GOP budget that passed the Republican-controlled House also includes a repeal of Obamacare. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann warned the healthcare law is a killer.

REP. MICHELLE BACHMANN: Let's repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let's not do that.

ACOSTA: But it seems it's the law that can't be killed almost like the legislative equivalent of Kenny from "South Park."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god! They killed Kenny!

ACOSTA: But some Republicans outside of Washington have a different take. A slew of high profile GOP governors recently accepted the law's massive expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor into their states. The law's defenders say other popular provisions go into effect next year such as the ban on insurers discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. And new insurance exchanges market places where people can shop for coverage. The White House says the repealers ignore that.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That seems at some point to be time not well spent. The president believes it's important to expand health insurance coverage to the millions of Americans who will be covered because of the Affordable Care Act.


ACOSTA: But the law is not entirely popular with Democrats. Several senators from the president's own party joined Republicans to vote to repeal a tax on medical devices that was tucked into the law. But the vote was symbolic and nonbinding, much like the rest of the attempts to repeal Obamacare. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Jim Acosta on Capitol Hill.

All right. Straight ahead, she's running for office in Mexico but racy photos of here are sparking more than just people's interest.


WHITFIELD: The past might have come back to haunt a political candidate in Mexico. Her opponents say she was an escort in Las Vegas. Our senior Latin affairs editor Rafael Romo says she's fighting for her political life now.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Fredricka, as you can imagine, this is a national scandal in Mexico especially because the candidate was trying to run for office under the banner of the most conservative party in the country. But Giselle Arellano says it's all a big misunderstanding and part of a plot of her political enemies to derail her candidacy.


GISELLE ARELLANO: (speaking in a foreign language)

ROMO (voice-over): She's an aspiring Mexican politician and entrepreneur. 33-year-old Giselle Arellano has become a celebrity almost overnight in her country, but not the way she'd like to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are watching sinners and saints TV!

ROMO: Right after she launched her campaign for a seat in her state's congress these pictures of Arellano began appearing on social media. She said she posed for the lingerie photos as a favor to a friend promoting a party. Her rivals alleged she worked as an escort in Las Vegas, something she categorically denies.

ARELLANO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): There has been a lot of speculation about my past on social networks, and in the media. I'm here before you because I have nothing to hide. My conscience is clear. I'm at peace with god.

ROMO: Her critics also claimed that her company, Black Rose Concierge services, offers more than just concert tickets and restaurant reservations.

ARELLANO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Black Rose Concierge Service provides services to tourists in Vegas. There is nothing more to say. People have been misinterpreting this.

ROMO: Arellano is running for a seat in Zecalecas under the banner of the Conservative Action Party. And she appears to have support from voters, especially women.

ALEJANDRA DE AVILA, ZECALECAS, MEXICO RESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That he who is without sin should cast the first stone. I'm not going to judge. I think people should pay attention to her abilities and talents. If she has what it takes I think it would be good to have her in the party.

ROMO: Arellano insists she does have what it takes as a successful businesswoman who speaks five languages.

ARELLANO: (Speaking in foreign language).


ROMO: But her party has now abandoned Arellano saying she did not have, "an honest means of living." A few days ago she sued alleging gender discrimination and slander. The businesswoman says other political parties have come knocking on her door to offer a platform. But for now she said she wants to focus on fighting the battle within her own party. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.

You love him on the big screen. But now Tom Hanks is returning to the stage.


BRIAN RUSSELL, ZEPHYR TECHNOLOGY CORP.: We are going to put this device on Sanjay and so we measure the heart rate and respiration rate and what we call the physiology. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This weekend on "The Next List," how wireless health care could change your life.

DR. LESLIE SAXON, USC KACK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It is a very much more sophisticated way to assess somebody's fitness real time and allow them to create a plan around their fitness.

NICK SWISHER, CLEVELAND INDIANA: Everything is getting more and more precise. It can help you to either elongate your career, or make it the best it can be.

SAXON: I'm continually interested and fascinated by how much athletes, patients, everybody wants their own data.

GUPTA: Meet Dr. Leslie Saxon this Sunday on "The Next List."



WHITFIELD: Tom Hanks is stepping off the screen and onto the stage for a new role. The actor is preparing for his Broadway debut in the Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy." Hanks plays a New York City tabloid columnist in the 80s. Our own Piers Morgan sat down with Hanks to discuss his role, life and love.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: You have not done a play since 1981.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: The last official play I did was in 1981 in Hayward, California. I was a guest artist for my alma mater, Chabot Junior College. We don't call it - I don't call it community college. It's a junior college, my friend, (INAUDIBLE) college. And we did "Charlie's Aunt" and was directed by an old teacher (INAUDIBLE) Herb Kennedy. I think we sold out 1,500 seats every night.

MORGAN: So on a scale of one to 100, how nervous are you right now?


MORGAN: A few days from opening night and you haven't had to come and wow critics or an audience in a play for a very long time, 32 years.

HANKS: True, but it's a life of (INAUDIBLE). I would say nervousness is not nearly the term. What do you call it when you wake up at 5:00 in the morning with your eyes wide open thinking - do I have the lines in scene 110 down? When Laura comes out on the bed am I supposed to come - that's where the nerves hit me about 5:00 in the morning.

MORGAN: Why are you taking what some perceive to be a gamble? You don't need to do this. You're a huge movie star. You can roll out two great films a year. You're status as King Tom of Hollywood.

HANKS: You haven't been on my P.R. camp lately, have you. You haven't part of that. We haven't exactly knocked them out. Well, primarily it's just a great pleasure and the joy of doing it. It's the best - it's the second best job in the world next to being a muck raking tabloid journalist. I understand that o be the best job in the world but I will leave that to you.

I must say you got to move a lot of boulders in order to be able to take eight months out of your life in order to do it. My kids are gone, you know. My wife's working, you know. Not that much is expected of me. So off we go.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love in your life?

HANKS: Once. With Rita. Well, look as a young man and (INAUDIBLE) my family was a diffused one in which it seems though everybody could just kind of like tag up and leave when things got a little tough which is not exactly the concept of long-lasting love. I mean I didn't suffer any brand of abuse or anything like that. We were scattered. And we were tight in our way. But I'm not -- it's no joke. It's naive to say that it took me until I met my wife, Rita, until I figured out, oh, that's how wonderful it is to make a permanent connection.

MORGAN: Is there a secret, you're in an industry that is riddled with marriage breakups, remarriage and so on. You have avoided that.

HANKS: Well, quite frankly, that's your job to cover them, Piers. You know, let's not take away your bread and butter. You know what? We get that all the time but I have to tell you all of my friends have been married for years. I understand that. I get that. But I think if you went to Davenport, Iowa or the suburbs of Dallas, I think every other, 50 percent of the marriages fail. I don't think it's part and parcel too.

MORGAN: Is there a secret?

HANKS: I think finding the right person. And I would say, you know, taking care of each other.


WHITFIELD: And you can watch "Piers Morgan" live weeknights at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. All right. If you don't want to take your chances with a March madness bracket, how about Powerball? Tonight may be your night to win big.

But first when traveling to other cities and countries, the best way to get a taste of the place is through the local food. CNN's I-report has teamed up with "Travel and Leisure" magazine to get a global list of 100 places to eat like a local. Here is CNN's Sumnima Udas with a sample of Indian food from New Delhi.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hello. I'm Sumnima Udas in New Delhi. And when I want to eat like a local I come to (INAUDIBLE) Delhi, it's one of the most crowded areas in the city. You got to come in one of these.

Delhi is all about street food and (INAUDIBLE) which literally means a narrow street that sells (INAUDIBLE) will sell these round flatbreads stuffed with all kinds of ingredients. It's a local favorite. What I love about this place is just the madness of it all. You really feel like you're in the middle of all of this action. It doesn't get more authentic than this.

So there are apparently 45 different types of (INAUDIBLE) here. I'm going to order the one with chilies, one of the most popular dishes here.

Thank you.

Here is my food. For less than a dollar you can get an entire meal. So he's Manish Sharman, he's the owner of this place. Tell me, what makes this place so special?

MANISH SHARMA, RESTAURANT OWNER: It was started, was started by one of my forefathers in 1872 and there were 16 shops here but now four shops are left here.

UDAS: The cooking style is the same for the past hundred years?

SHARMA: Yes. This is the same process since 1872.

UDAS: How many people come here every day?

SHARMA: About a thousand or 1500 people come here and enjoy the (INAUDIBLE).

UDAS: So I'm completely full but the whole point is not to stuff yourself with (INAUDIBLE) because this whole street is full of all kinds of delicacies. For instance, this place they sell some of the best (INAUDIBLE) in town which is essentially yogurt with water. So those places in the guide look, that's OK for tourists but (INAUDIBLE) Delhi, if you want to eat like a local.


WHITFIELD: Oh gosh, sign me up. I'm ready to go. Go to and click 100 places to eat like a local, to see which I-reporters and restaurants made the final list.


WHITFIELD: The south is being hit with thunderstorms and heavy rain and this was the scene in Birmingham earlier today. As you can see flood waters are reaching cars in the bumpers. Meteorologists say more bad weather is on the way with straight line winds and hail expected.

A budget proposal has passed the U.S. Senate. This one was approved at 5:00 in the morning by a razor thin margin of 50 to 49 after a marathon overnight session, fittingly called the Vote-A-Rama. They went through 101 amendments. The vote went largely along party lines except for the four Democrats who voted against it. But the bill is expected to get knocked down in the House.

Here is a look at what's trending online.

A flash of light streaked across the sky last night from Virginia to Maine. NASA said it was a meteor. It was one yard in diameter, that's the size of an exercise ball.

If you are wondering who would replace Jimmy Fallon if he takes the "Tonight Show" spot from Jay Leno, the "New York Post" says NBC could choose SNL's Seth Myers. CNN did reach out to NBC. Still no comment.

And if your luck isn't going so great for your March madness brackets you might want to test your luck on tonight's Powerball lottery. The jackpot for tonight's drawing is now a whopping $320 million.

All right. That's going to do it for me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield and the CNN NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon but first keep it right here, "SANJAY GUPTA MD" with supermodel Niki Taylor.