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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Horrific Sports Injury; To Japan With Love; Feds Investigating Murder of Texas D.A.; Apple Says Sorry to China; Tensions On The Rise On Korean Peninsula; Responding To North Korean Threats; Chinese Version Of "Iron Man 3"; Big Night For Cable TV

Aired April 1, 2013 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The injury that pained us all.

I'm Jake Tapper, and this is THE LEAD.

The sports lead. Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware suffers one of the most gruesome sports injury in recent memory live on national TV. Joe Theismann joins us with memories of his own career-ending injury and his advice for Kevin.

The world lead. From the U.S. to Japan with love. A member of American royalty gets primed for a post that is sure to please our ally to the east, but could it also signal the rebirth of a political dynasty?

Plus, our national lead. Does someone have a hit list of law enforcement officials? Prosecutors across the state of Texas on alert after a DA and his wife are found dead just two months after his deputy is murdered. We will have the latest on the investigation from a former FBI official.

We begin with the sports lead and the moment when millions of people sitting in front of their TV sets let out an audible gasp. We're blurring out the graphic injury, but you don't have to see the leg snap or the bone break through. Take a look at the players on the Louisville bench. Their reaction says it all.

Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware's injury during yesterday's elite eight showdown with Duke instantly went down as one of the most horrific in sports history. Somehow Ware's teammates were able to pull it together, turn a close game into a blowout, and punch their ticket to the Final Four. They will be playing in pain and with a purpose in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH: I don't think any of us with what we had to witness could have overcome it if it wasn't for Kevin Ware 12 times saying to the guys, "I will be fine, win the game."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Louisville says Ware underwent successful surgery last night on his broken leg. The school even tweeted a photo of him today already up and moving on crutches. Last night one of his teammates posted this picture on Instagram of Ware in his hospital bed holding the NCAA regional trophy.

While head coach Rick Pitino says he will play again, Ware's future is still unclear.

This sounds all too familiar for one professional athlete, former Washington redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Back in November 1985 during a "Monday Night Football" game with O.J. Simpson sitting in the broadcaster's booth, Theismann was tackled by Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Theismann's leg snapping as he describes it like a breadstick, it ended Theismann's career.

And Joe Theismann joins me on the phone fresh off an airplane to Los Angeles.

I guess you were besieged quite a bit. Most of the country wants to know your reaction to this story.

JOE THEISMANN, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: Yes, it's a little bit crazy to have to sort of relive something that happened almost 30 years ago.

But, thankfully, it looks like Kevin's going to be OK and that's the most important thing.

TAPPER: When you were watching the game last night, what was your immediate reaction? Did you think of your own injury?

THEISMANN: Oh, I got chills. I did, right away. Any time I ever see something like that,it's just -- you know, you turn your head away, and then I was real curious to see what the coverage was going to look like, how they were going to handle the injury.

But as soon as he went down and everybody knew what was going on, it just started bringing back and conjuring up memories of what I went through some 28 years ago.

TAPPER: What did you go through? How soon after your injury did you realize the extent of it?

THEISMANN: Well, you knew right away because of the way everybody -- you just -- the way everybody reacted. But I heard the break. It sounded like two muzzled gunshots over my left shoulder.

So what had happened, the pain is instantaneous and excruciating. Then all of a sudden the body is such an incredible, magnificent machine, from the knee down my leg was completely numb. And then I was aware of everybody around me, and never really went into shock. I don't believe I did.

I turned to Bubba Tyer, our trainer, and said, look, call my mom and dad and tell them I'm OK. That was the first words out of my mouth. And then different things happened around me, and it was just one of those experiences that I just -- I can close my eyes today and lay down and smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel everything that happened that particular night.

TAPPER: You reached out to Kevin. What did you tell him?

THEISMANN: Well, we just -- we have texted so far. I think he's traveling to Atlanta after the surgery yesterday, so I'm going to give him a couple of days to sort of settle in and get his family a chance to settle in. Then I will reach out to him and tell him if there's anything I can do from a support standpoint. I'm more than happy to help in any way I possibly can.

But I shot him a text basically saying the same thing, I'm here for you, whatever you need, let me know. He texted back and said thanks. He had a lot more things on his mind than anybody, especially what Louisville is doing. His contribution to the team, where they're positioned in the NCAA, going to the Final Four, and you know, all the excitement and everything that goes with it.

And the fact that he was able to be able to communicate with his teammates as they were coming off -- as he was coming off the court tells me that he was very aware of everything going around him. And that's great, to have that kind of awareness. I also believe they put a rod in, which I think will allow him to keep the length of his leg.

We didn't rod mine many years ago, and as a consequence my leg is about three-eights-of-an-inch shorter. I have had residual effects from that over time. But I think he's going to be back. And we're just going to see him one of the great comeback stories of next year.

TAPPER: When you say your leg is three-eights-of-an-inch shorter, obviously your injury ended your career as a professional football player. How much has it impacted the rest of your life?

THEISMANN: Well, it ended my career, and that certainly impacted it.

Also it -- you know, it doesn't allow me to do things that I would like to do physically. I'm limited in what I can do as far as activities go. I'm now starting to feel the effects in my knee and my ankle and my back, just the wear and tear of time on that particular right side of my body because of the way the leg -- the way the leg is.

TAPPER: If this injury keeps Kevin out of, say, reaching the NBA, what advice would you give him about life after sports? He's obviously dedicated so much of his life to basketball.

THEISMANN: Well, first of all, I really believe that he will be back and able to play.

You know, we have seen guys --Tim Krumrie, who played with the Cincinnati Bengals, broke his leg in a Super Bowl and came back and played. Napoleon McCallum, I believe, has broken his and come back. All these guys have had rods. So, I believe 100 percent he is going to come back.

But I would say this to any athlete, whether you're injured or not, is make sure you get an education. That is paramount. And Kevin's case is a classic example. You can lose your physical abilities. If you're a young lady, you can lose the talent that you have to possibly physically get you places. But one thing no one can ever take away from you is your education.

And as far as I'm concerned, you know, the most important thing is he comes back, he gets his degree, he goes on with his life. But I really believe -- I think that's going to be a secondary factor when it comes to him. He's so young. I was 35. He's in his early 20s. We have seen what happened with Adrian Peterson and the progress that we hear about with Robert Griffin III.

These young athletes today, the advances that we have made in treatments and in the way the athletes are rehabilitated is so different than it was 30 years ago.

TAPPER: What do you say to parents who watched the game last night, who saw your injury in 1985 and think, I am not letting this happen to my kid, my kid is not going to do sports that seriously?

THEISMANN: Well, I think it would be an injustice to the kids, to be perfectly honest with you.

I think sports teaches you so many of life's skills. It teaches you to be disciplined. It teaches you work ethic. In society today, we talk about obesity. It allows you to exercise. It allows you to take authority from someone that's not a parent. Parents want kids to clean up a room and they give you a hem and a haw and all kinds of a thousand excuses.

If a coach tells you after you have missed a block or not something right, coach tells you to run 100 yards or run gassers, you go do that. So you have an authority figure there that I think teaches disciplines as well. You know, accidents are going to happen, whether kids are riding on bicycles or skateboards or participating in any kind of activity. It's just a part of life.

I wouldn't let something that happened to Kevin or something that happened to me -- I would be very, very saddened if a parent just looked at those things and said, oh, I'm not going to allow my child to participate in sports because of that.

TAPPER: Lastly, what do you think he's going through right now? Is he going through a woe is me kind of feeling? Is that what you went through at this point 30 years ago?

THEISMANN: No. No. Things are so crazy still right now. He just had the surgery last night. I'm sure he's -- the doctors are taking care of him. His family is there. He will be traveling over the next couple of days and headed for Atlanta to be with Louisville, with his team.

And, by the way, too, you really have to admire the job Pitino did in the face of this tremendous accident, the way his teammates responded, the way they came back in the second half and just totally dominated everything. And, you know, that's all part of it. But I think right now what he's going through is just sort of dealing with a little bit of emotion of not being able to be a part of the team right away. And in the next few days, he will settle into a routine and become the biggest cheerleader that Louisville has ever had.

TAPPER: Well, the latest reports seem to indicate that this injury will not end Kevin Ware's career. We wish him the best.

Thank you, Joe Theismann, for talking to us today.

THEISMANN: You're welcome, Jake. Take care.

TAPPER: And just moments ago, Kevin Ware gave his first comments since suffering that gruesome injury, telling "The New York Daily News" that -- quote -- "This is a minor setback for a major comeback."

A true American hero helped start the baseball season in the nation's capital this afternoon. Former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha threw out the first pitch at Nats Park. In February, Romesha became just the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient to have served in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan for his actions during one of the worst ground attacks of the Afghanistan war, the Taliban attack on Combat Outpost Keating in October 2009.

For more on Romesha and the attack, we did an hour-long special on his valor which we have just reposted at our blog, CNN.com/THELEAD.

In our national lead, law and justice officials in Texas and Colorado killed in cold blood. Are the cases related? The race to find out who's responsible before another attack.

And coming up in our political lead, does President Obama still have game? Today , he tried again and again and again to make a shot. His rough day on the court in front of the cameras. Does this symbolize why the White House has been locking press cameras out of so many official events?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Investigators will not or cannot yet say for sure what led to the murders of a Texas district attorney and his wife over the weekend. The chilling case along with the murder of an assistant D.A. in the same county a couple of months back stirred fears that public officials in Texas are being targeted.

Now, state and local authorities are on high alert. And we've learned the feds are helping with the investigation.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has the story from Kaufman County, Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who's next? It's the question gripping Kaufman County, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very, very scared, and it's really hard to imagine something like this happening in your neighborhood.

LAVANDERA: Courthouse security has been beefed up in the Kaufman town square and law enforcement officers say special security measures are being taken to protect other elected officials. There seem to be few leads and no suspects in the hunt to find the killers of prosecutors Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland, along with his wife Cynthia.

The uncertainty of what might happen next is chilling.

Texas Governor Rick Perry talked about the threats.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: This I think is a clear concern to individuals who are in public life, particularly those who deal with some very mean and vicious individuals, whether they're white supremacy groups or whether they're the drug cartels we have.

LAVANDERA (on camera): This is the courthouse where Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland would come to work. We've spoken with law enforcement analysts who have taken a closer look at all the details we know about their murders. And they all say the same thing, that they're struck by the simplicity of the attacks on those two men, Mark Hasse killed around the corner here as he was walking to work at the courthouse. McLelland killed inside his home. That this suggests that these men were followed, studied in some way, and that they killed them in their areas where they felt most at ease, most comfortable, part of their daily routine.

(voice-over): A lot of attention has focused on the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. State police issued a warning four months ago that the white supremacist group was actively planning to retaliate against officials who had targeted the prison gang's leadership.

But before he was lead, district attorney Mike McLelland downplayed the angle in the murder investigation of his fellow prosecutor Mark Hasse. In an e-mail to WFAA-TV, McLelland said Hasse had received no threats from a prison gang and his work on Aryan Brotherhood cases was minimal.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Kaufman County, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Ed, thank you. Still unknown, who killed Mike McLelland and his wife.

We're now joined by CNN contributor and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.

Tom, thanks for joining us.

You've been talking to your sources.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Jake. TAPPER: There are several federal agencies involved in this investigation, including the FBI. Does anybody have any serious leads at this point?

FUENTES: No, not yet, Jake. And I think the important factor here is that the -- especially the last part of the last piece, Kaufman County district attorney's office, both McLelland and Hasse, did have minimal involvement in the most recent task force that investigated the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

That case was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the indictments returned last November of 35 people in Houston, Texas. And, really, that was a federal task force, state and local task force with ATF, FBI, Marshals, DEA, Department of Homeland Security, Texas Department of Public Safety, a number of county sheriffs offices. And to help the federal prosecutors there were a couple of counties which did provide some assistance to it.

So the question there is, and had what sources of mine are basically wondering, if it was Aryan Brotherhood of Texas retaliating, why would Hasse come up number one on a list when there's literally hundreds of people involved in that case, and of those hundreds, most of them more involved than he would have been?

As far as the killing of McLelland, that we don't know. If you have some psychopath kill Hasse for whatever reason -- it could be any number of things, personal or professional -- the district attorney making comments, calling the killer a scum and coming out of his hole and we're going to get you, that may have just been poking a stick in the eye of an evil person who retaliated.

TAPPER: Tom, authorities in Texas are on high alert, many district attorneys and staffs are receiving escorts or protection. Houston's district attorney has been put under 24-hour surveillance. How long can they keep that kind of protection up?

FUENTES: I don't think very long. And as I just mentioned, you're talking hundreds of people involved in this investigation, not just prosecutors but the actual investigators themselves, who would outnumber the prosecutors, frankly. So I think that's a very difficult task to keep that going very long.

TAPPER: All right. Former assistant FBI director Tom Fuentes, thank you so much.

Now to more national news. In the case of James Holmes, the decision has been made by prosecutors, quote, "justice is deaf." Those powerful words put an end to speculation over whether the Colorado movie theater suspect would be allowed to plead guilty in exchange for his life. Attorneys for Holmes made the plea last week, but the Arapahoe County district attorney says his decided to reject the deal after consulting with hundreds of victims and family members.

Holmes faces 166 counts of murder and attempted murder for a shooting spree that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. Horrors like the mass shooting in Aurora brought attention to the effort to create a gun you can download and print in your home. Now, it looks as if that is hitting a major snag. A note posted on the 3D gun Web site, defensedistributed.com says it was seized by the feds.

Last week. we talked to the man behind it. Twenty-five-year-old Cody Wilson, who was named one of "Wired" magazine's 15 most dangerous people in the world. He told us had his goal was to have a fully downloadable gun using 3D printing technology by the end of this month. And he said he had a federal license to do it.

Coming up in our "Money Lead", Apple is apologizing to a heck of a lot of people. What did they do to make CEO Tim Cook admit they screwed up?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: "The Money Lead." We're used to hearing stories about Apple products being assembled in China. This next one is about iPhones coming apart in China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is now apologizing to China after state media there accused Apple of shoddy customer service and second-rate repairs. Cook promised to revamp repair policies for both iPhones and iPads in China, which is the second-largest market for Apple after the U.S.

It's being called the decision that could save a lot of lives across a developing world. India's Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the drug company Novartis to patent a new version of its cancer drug called Gleevec. The decision means generic drug makers can continue to sell cheaper copies of the drug in India, at around one-tenth of the brand name price.

The big Western drug companies say the decision could force them to cut back on expensive research and development for new drugs, something the generics do not have to worry about.

You don't see them out on the street much, but apparently, Tesla's luxury electric cars are selling very well. Shares for Tesla jumped 22 percent today after the company reported that after years in the red, they're finally turning a profit. No wonder, there's a backlog of 15,000 orders for the Tesla Model S. The price tag? About 70,000 bucks. That's a lot of green.

"The New York Times" has created a software program to find haiku that occur naturally in its own newspaper, adhering to the construct of five syllables, then seven syllables, then five.

For today's #tag you're it, write you're own haiku about anything in today's news. Here's mine: the old gray lady is now searching for haiku in her own body.

Tweet your best @TheLeadCNN, use the #newshaiku.

Coming up next, some people go to church. Some people go to brunch. But not a lot of people spend Easter Sunday on the job, that is unless they work for Marco Rubio. The senator's office sent out a press release shortly after 8:00 a.m. Sunday saying there's still no deal on the immigration bill. That's coming up ahead on our "Politics Lead".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

"The World Lead": A Pacific power prepares to experience the lure and legacy of Camelot. How a high-profile post abroad could help Caroline Kennedy ease her way to the forefront of American politics.

"The Politics Lead": The same-sex marriage debate gives the Republican Party just what it did not need -- more infighting. As social conservatives draw a line in the sand, could this set the stage for a midterm battle for the ages?

And the Pop Culture Lead. An American superhero now made in China for China. Iron Man 3 gets a Far East remix as Hollywood butters up to its global audience.

The Politics Lead. There's a deal. Or there isn't a deal. The Gang of 8 reportedly has a draft for the immigration reform bill, but one important political power player in the group is saying not so fast. Senator Marco Rubio's office released a statement Easter morning saying reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature. So why is Rubio hitting the brakes?

Here to talk about it, Jackie Kucinich, political reporter for "USA Today," Emily Miller, senior opinion editor for "The Washington Times" and Democratic strategist Morris Reed. We know bringing in new Latina voters is critical to the Republicans' plan for victory, so why is Rubio slowing things down, Emily?

EMILY MILLER, SENIOR OPINION EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": Conservatives hear amnesty and they panic. The first thing everyone says is, secure the borer, and no one has shown how we're securing the borders. So now all this talk about how people are coming with visas, how we're going to move through citizenship, now it's just way too premature. And nothing's happened publicly; it's been all behind closed doors.

TAPPER: And is that the problem, there hasn't really been enough talk about what conservatives say what they're most focused on?

JACKIE KUCINICH, POLITICAL REPORTER, USA TODAY: We have several conservative senators. Senator Leahy sent a letter last week saying we need to open this up, we need to stop doing this behind closed doors and start working this stuff out in public. And yes, there are a lot of different things that aren't resolved yet with this legislation that they're going to have to hammer out in the next couple days.

So saying Rubio's comments aren't surprising when you have things like is there going to be a border security option tied to a citizenship path? There's some disagreement over that still. So, there's a lot to be done before this can be called a done deal.

TAPPER: A lot of this came after a New York Times report and politico and others reported that big labor and the Chamber of Commerce had settled on a deal when it came to undocumented workers or low-wage workers coming into this country. Do you think that the people who are in favor of there being a deal are getting a little bit ahead of their skis? Like they're not -- the votes aren't there yet, but they're so excited to wrap this up that maybe they got out there a little too quickly?

MORRIS REID, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BGR GROUP: Well, big labor and the Chamber of Commerce don't have a vote. They don't decide anything on Capitol Hill. I know they don't sometimes they don't understand that. The problem for Republicans is they don't know who's on first, who's on second, on third (INAUDIBLE) base. They're just very concerned and scared because the far right is starting to say, wait, slow down, we're not exactly happy. Which means in the midterm election, they may have problems.

For the Democrats, we sometimes get ahead of ourselves. But look, the fact is this is going to happen, whether Republicans like it, Democrats like it, labor, Chamber of Commerce. Something is going to get done because no politician can look at the Hispanic community in the face in the next election and say, we didn't get anything done.

TAPPER: Let's go to the next topic. There's a war going on in the Republican Party right now, something of a war - that might be overstating the case, war. But between the libertarians and the social conservatives. Rick Santorum told Politico other the weekend, look, the Republican Party is not going to change. We're not the Libertarian Party. We're the Republican Party. This comment after more and more Republicans have been coming out in favor of same-sex marriage or at least in talking about how the issue should be downplayed. Karl Rove even said it would be possible that the Republican presidential nominee or presidential candidate would be pro-same sex marriage in 2016.

Are social conservatives, do they need to flex their muscles a little bit? Are the Rand Pauls of the world getting too much airtime?

MILLER: Well, Rand Paul still is pro-life, and he is a conservative. And I think conservatives are concerned, yes, there is a battle over where the Republican Party is going next after losing two national elections in a row. And where it goes next and there's discussion. But this is always going to be a party that is pro-life, that is not for gay marriage. I don't see that changing in the near future.

TAPPER: Do you think that's true? I don't think anybody would dispute the pro-life thing, but what about the pro same-sex marriage thing? It seem like there are more, increasingly, Republicans talking about how the party should at least not talk about it as much, if not embrace it?

KUCINICH: But then you have people like Rick Santorum that say the absolute opposite, that these are our principles and we should talk about them all the time. So, there is that disconnect, and this is what is going to make it hard for some Republicans to come out in support of gay marriage -- no pun intended -- because it is tough within certain facets of the party to accept this. And so it's going to make midterms hard, it's going to make 2016 hard.

REID: There's principle and there's stupidity. This is borderline stupidity. This is going to happen. These guys need to be on the right side of history.

The problem with the Republican Party is too many people are putting their fingers in the air and watching where the wind is blowing. Then you have the guys on the far right that are screaming bloody murder. They need to just really rally around the fact that this is going to happen. They need to really rally around the fact that don't have an answer, they don't have a solution or a question -- I said the other day, there's action and deeds. Right now, there's a lot of lip talk going on. People judge you by your actions and deeds. And every time you have someone like Rick Santorum who gets up there and says -- he's not a leader, not elected to anything, he needs to shut up and let the people on the Hill do their job.

MILLER: Well, the people on the Hill, Republicans on the Hill, do not support overturning DOMA. They do not support the Supreme Court doing that or the Supreme Court overturning Proposition 8. They believe marriage is between a man and woman. You heard Boehner say that last week overtly.

So, I don't see anything changing on Capitol Hill, and I don't see any (INAUDIBLE) the party changing. The only thing I think -- Ed Gillespie said yesterday on one of the Sunday shows, perhaps we'll stop having in the Republican party platform acall for constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage.

TAPPER: But that's not changing the position --

KUCINICH: But the problem is, they don't have a problem getting white evangelicals to vote forge them. I mean, 79 percent voted for Romney, 79 percent voted for George W. Bush. I mean, they don't have that problem. They need to expand this.

TAPPER: All right, I hear the music in my ear. That means I have to put an end to this. Jackie Kucinich, Emily Miller, Morris Reid, thank you so much.

The only living child of former president John F. Kennedy is getting a new job, and it means she's moving. We'll tell you why she's going, and President Obama's connection to her. That's next in our World Lead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The World Lead. If it's a superstar the Japanese want, well then it's a superstar they will get. A source tells CNN that Caroline Kennedy is being vetted to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan. It's a high-profile gig considered by many to be a thank-you for her support of President Obama. Her support during the 2008 primaries, especially, when she helped convince her then-uncle - her uncle, then-senator Ted Kennedy, to come on board. That was considered critical in helping to defeat the Hillary Clinton campaign at the time. And let's be honest, she has the name recognition that the Japanese have come to expect.

THE LEAD'S Erin McPike is here with more. Erin, this is not the first time the administration has turned to the Kennedy clan for an ambassadorship.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENTL: That's true. Joe Kennedy Sr., Caroline's grandfather, was the ambassador to the UK under FDR. So there's that. But also the Japanese connection comes in because her uncle, RFK, was attorney general under her father, JFK. And he sent RFK to Japan in 1962 to repair the tensions between Tokyo and Washington at that time.

Now, Jake, I will tell you that the White House did caution us today that she hasn't been officially nominated yet, and they vet a lot of different people for a lot of different things all of the time. But we can say that Caroline Kennedy has been priming herself for a bigger role for the past couple of years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JACKIE KENNEDY, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Caroline was born.

MCPIKE: She was America's daughter with an early flair for poetry. She even named her famous pony Macaroni. The White House was her playground.

But tragedy struck Camelot. After her father's assassination and a very public childhood, Caroline Kennedy stayed out of the spotlight. She married an artist and they had three children, maintaining a quiet life in New York. She joined boards of charities and raised money for what she champions, like literacy.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On board the plane was believed to be John F. Kennedy Jr.

MCPIKE: But after the death of her brother, John Jr. in a plane crash, she became the last link to her father's legacy. Almost a decade later, she found her voice. In 2008, a dashing young first- term senator was running for president. For many, Barack Obama was reminiscent of JFK from almost 50 years before.

CAROLINE KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF JFK: Fortunately, there's one candidate who offers that same sense of hope and inspiration -

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KENNEDY: -- and I am proud to endorse Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States.

MCPIKE: A year later, she was ready for a political role of her own. KENNEDY: I'd be honored to be considered.

MCPIKE: Openly lobbying for an appointment to the Senate seat that opened up when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.

KENNEDY: I would be an unconventional choice. I haven't followed the traditional path. But I think I bring a lifetime of experience to this. In my family, you know, public service is really, you know, the greatest honor that anyone can have.

MCPIKE: Critics were loud, nasty and plentiful. Kennedy ended up backing off, and Kirsten Gillibrand got the seat instead. Eight months later, Ted Kennedy died, leaving a gaping hole in the Senate. The Kennedys were fading from political prominence. And it would be a few years before a cousin, Joe Jr., went to Washington to serve in the House. But Caroline kept going, straight into 2012.

KENNEDY: Barack Obama is the kind of leader my father wrote about in "Profiles in Courage." He doesn't just do what's easy. He does what's hard. He does what's right.

MCPIKE: And now, the president who evokes memories of her father is officially bringing her into the political fold in her own right. If he taps her officially, Caroline Kennedy will be the first woman to hold the U.S. post in Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: And, Jake, she's in Kansas city tomorrow night promoting her tenth book. So in Kansas City they can ask her about it there.

TAPPER: All right, I'm sure she'll be grilled. Thank you, Erin McPike.

Right now, things are heating up in the Korean Peninsula. We've learned this afternoon the U.S. Navy is sending at least one warship and a sea-based platform closer to the North Korean coastline and amping up their presence in South Korea with stealth bombers.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, joins me now to talk about this breaking news story that the Defense Department has said that the taunts from Kim Jong-un are nothing more than war mongering rhetoric, Richard, but I don't know if national security officials behind closed doors are considering this all just to be rhetoric. How serious do you take what's going on in North Korea right now?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, Jake, I think it's most likely to be rhetoric or to use the real word bluster. On the other hand, there's probably a 10 percent chance that it's not. And that's the reason you see things like B-2 aircraft and now ships heading toward the region. It's a way of signaling to North Koreans, it's a way of signaling the Chinese that we take this talk and these threats seriously. It's also a way of reassuring our allies, both in Seoul as well as in Tokyo. TAPPER: Last week on this program, the former secretary of defense, William Cohen, said that if the most likeliest thing that would happen -- the most likely thing that would happen if there were a military confrontation, some sort of shelling by North Korea of South Korea, then ultimately South Korea would respond and the U.S. would respond. Then he said, ultimately that would result in the destruction of the north. Kim Jong-Un must know that so why is he doing what he's doing?

HAASS: Well, he's trying to consolidate his position. He is, what, 28, 29 years old? There's obviously some skepticism about him. He has four stars on his shoulder. That doesn't make you a serious general. It's more out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

So I think, you know, he's trying to gain attention and gain strength at home. The problem for him is, had what does he do to declare victory? Can he get away with simply rhetoric or does he need to do something? If as you suggest he does do something, this time the South Koreans will not turn the other cheek. They will respond.

And then the question is, can you keep it at that or do you then enter a situation where it essentially escalates, bringing in the United States? And I would simply say, if I were representing the administration, I would pass the message privately both to China, which is North Korea's most important benefactor and to North Korea.

That if this escalates to war this will be the last war in the Korean Peninsula because the United States would not stop until all of Korea is unified under the south. Hopefully that would deter them from starting anything in the first place.

TAPPER: And lastly, let's talk about the role that China could play in getting this guy under wraps. Both Moscow and Beijing are telling Kim Jong-Un to cool it. Would sanctions be enough to put his ego in check?

HAASS: Well, what the Chinese can do is more than sanctions. Probably two-thirds of the fuel and goods transiting in and out of North Korea go across Chinese territory. If suddenly the border guards there, the customs officials, developed a case of the flu and the borders were shut down for a couple of days, I think North Korea would get the message loud and clear.

The Chinese, however, are often reluctant often to use all their influence because they're scared of undermining their traditional ally. But they're key, quite honestly. What happens in Beijing is at least as important, if not more important, than what happens in Pyongyang.

TAPPER: And lastly, Richard, a report out today says the United States and South Korea are beefing up their cyber war readiness, either to hit North Korea or to defend against an attack. Would that be more effective than troops, as far as deterrent goes?

HAASS: I'm not sure it's more effective, but certainly it's one of the ways that if the North Koreans do something we can hurt them or conceivably send a message to China. So it's part of the arsenal now.

It's quite interesting, Jake. This is the brave new world of contemporary warfare. We have the traditional tools of war but cyber has entered into it. North Korea, what happens on the peninsula could actually turn out to be both a dangerous and interesting case study.

TAPPER: All right, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, thanks for joining us.

Now Wolf Blitzer is here with a preview of "THE SITUATION ROOM," the show that comes on right after this one. It looks like it is going to come on in 12 minutes.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's 12 minutes exactly. You're not going to be late, right?

TAPPER: I turn it on every time.

BLITZER: No, but you won't go over your allotted time.

TAPPER: I don't think I have yet.

BLITZER: You have always given me a few extra seconds.

TAPPER: You owe me a few. I'll collect later.

BLITZER: Let's talk about our lead at 5:00. There's movement happening right now on two critical issues, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. We're going in depth on both of those, right at the top of the hour.

Later in the hour, we'll speak with Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. He's on the border right now between the United States and Mexico so we're going to be -- James Inhofe we're going to be talking to about what's going on. Will he filibuster some of this stuff coming up?

The answer is yes, but we'll have to figure out had what he's going to do. Also in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern Hour we're going to go in depth on that sports injury that you did at the top of your show, a horrific injury. We've got an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in these injuries. We'll go through it.

TAPPER: All right, it looks good. I'll look forward to watching. Thank you, Wolf.

Hollywood blockbusters in China, sure, but with a twist? Plot changes, deleted scenes, new characters, all to appeal to a Chinese audience. How do they do it and why? Our "Pop Lead" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The pop culture lead, news flash, China is kind of a big deal. So much of so Hollywood is making a special version of a blockbuster movie just for China. Marvel Studios announced plans to release two versions of "Iron Man 3," one for the U.S. and one for China.

It signals an increasing willingness among movie makers to bend over backwards to appeal to the global market.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): "Iron Man 3," Hollywood's superhero based on the Marvel comic book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do about these attacks?

TAPPER: "Malibu Mansion." "Air Force One." It's as American as it gets, but this blockbuster is tweaking its tone appeal to Chinese audiences, too. They're making a second version just for them.

China is now the world's second largest movie market behind the U.S., passing Japan last year with nearly $3 billion in box office revenue, and Hollywood is taking notice, relying on experts like Rob Cain for guidance.

ROBERT CAIN, PRESIDENT, PACIFIC BRIDGE PICTURES: I really encourage filmmakers here in Hollywood and the rest of the United States to think about China and really to go after it. It's such a big, growing market that if all you did was make movies for the Chinese audience you could do very well in the next few years.

TAPPER: According to Marvel, the Chinese version of "Iron Man 3" will include new footage featuring one of China's top actresses and they'll put a larger emphasis on Chinese elements in the film. Make no mistake, the process of tailoring for international crowds can be daunting.

CAIN: There's censorship and there's also checks for suitability for the Chinese market. They're very sensitive about things like political stories, crime. They want to make china look good on film.

TAPPER: But studios see dollar signs in the differences. In "Red Dawn" released last year, this invading army was originally Chinese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not your enemies.

TAPPER: But the enemy was later changed, frame by frame, to be North Korean. This Chinatown battle scene from "Men In Black: III" was cut entirely from the version released in China.

Even Brad Pitt's upcoming zombie thriller "World War Z" had to tailor its script to fit. At first, the film's un-dead epidemic originated in China, but that plot point had to be changed because, as we all know now, China is actually where American blockbusters are coming back to life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And "Iron Man 3" opens in theatres on May 3rd. A record setting night for three hit shows, "Game Of Thrones," "The Bible" and "The Walking Dead." More than 12 million people tuned into the season finale of "The Walking Dead" on AMC.

But everyone is talking about the sleeper hit of the Easter season "The Bible," that miniseries finale scored more than 11 million viewers, despite going up against another heavy hitter, HBO's "Game of Thrones," that fantasy drama pulled in 4.4 million viewers.

Coming up -- was there a little part of you that heard about a new bacon mouth wash and thought, man, that sounds good? Not me. I definitely did not think that. On this April Fool's, we take a look at the fake news that made headlines. That's our "Buried Lead," and that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Our "Buried Lead," if you visited the internet at any point today you were probably the target of an April Fools' day prank, ranging from the amusing to outrageous, Twitter announcing a consonant-only plan after all no vowels means more time for tweets.

We hope none of you got excited about booking a ticket on the world's first glass-bottom plane, how Virgin Airlines tried to fool an April Fools' Day fast one. Speaking of April Fool's pranks, they are everywhere on the web today.

Remember this 3D gun making web site defensedistributed.com that was supposedly seized by the feds today? Well, it wasn't. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency just now tells us it was a hoax, one of the many on this April Fools' Day.

Hashtag you're it, we asked you to send us your best haikus about today's news. The top poet is crazy Princeton mom tells girls to marry her son. Girls are like no thanks.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching THE LEAD. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer starts now.