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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

The Politics Of Forgiveness; Obama Takes A Pay Cut; Chopper Crashes In Miami-Dade; The Cell Phone Turns 40; Ware Speaks About Horrific Injury; Abuse Backlash

Aired April 3, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds. Zero emissions. Top speed, 125 miles per hour. All without a drop of gasoline. This is clearly not your father's electric car. This is the Tesla Model S. And beginning today, you can have one starting at less $500 a month. At least that's according to my next guest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Elon Musk, the billionaire who is personally backing this deal for the Tesla Model S, which can cost north of $70,000. Elon, welcome. I want to get to your creative financing in a second. But first, the big news: you're finally making money with this car. Your company posted its first profit this quarter since going public in 2010. Would you have been able to do this without the $465 million in loans you got from the Obama administration?

ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: I think we probably could have succeeded without the loan. But I think the loan allowed us to get here faster than would otherwise have been the case. So, it had a catalytic effect. But that was always the intent of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, was to accelerate the advent of advanced transportation. And I think it's had that effect, and we've been paying off the loan and I think so far, so good.

TAPPER: You've been talking about $500 a month financing plan. Now, some are questioning how realistic that is because you include in this math fuel cost -- cheaper fuel cost, obviously -- government incentives, a shorter commute. And when you factor in billable hours, that's part of the math. And I've read that this is actually more like $1,200 a month if you take away the creative math. "The Atlantic" called the financing claim "brilliant, paradoxical, and ultimately crazy." What do you say to that?

MUSK: I think - I think first of all, people were clicking on the wrong set of options. In fact, some of the confusion and why some people don't get it is partly due to a mistake that we made, which is when we first released the site, it actually defaulted to the most expensive version of the car apart from the performance. And so, in order to get to $500 worth the expensive version of the car, you need to factor in time savings and whatnot. You can get down to $500 just by factoring in savings from gasoline, tax incentives and tax deductions. TAPPER: You sent a letter asking Tesla fans to rally this morning to fight auto dealers who trying to keep your cars out of Texas. What is going on? How much difficulty are you having with traditional car dealers and manufacturers?

MUSK : We actually have good relationships with manufacturers. On the dealer side, we do have a lot of battles in some states because the approach we want to take is to be able to sell direct and not have the deal group be a kind of middleman that effectively increases the cost to the customer and makes the relationship negative. That's a crazy thing.

If you go - if you buy a car, it should be a wonderful experience. And that's what we're trying to achieve at Tesla. And it's also very important for us to be able to convey the message of why going electric is better. And if you're a car dealer and you're selling six different brands that are all gasoline, you can't talk up why why electric is better because you essentially - you have a conflict of interest.

So we needed a clean, pure approach. Low cost, great customer experience in the purchase process, and where we can really tap the advantages of electric.

TAPPER: So lastly, Elon, tell our viewers if they buy a Tesla Model S, how and where do they charge it? And how often and how frequently do they have to charge it?

MUSK: In the standard version of the Model S, there's over 200 miles of range, EPA rated. And the bigger one just turned (ph) 65 miles range. And so you only really need to charge it after you traveled that sort of distance. And you can charge it anywhere. You can plug it anywhere because the charge is built into the car. So, you can plug it into a 110, a 220 bolt outlet, anything.

And then for long distance travel, you can use the Tesla super charger network, which we're ramping up rapidly. And it's already present throughout California and Nevada. And you can actually travel from Boston to Virginia in it right now on the East Coast. And the Tesla Super Charger system is the most powerful charger in the world. And it allows you to recharge about three hours of driving in 30 minutes, which is about the right inflection point. It means that you can start a road trip at 9 a.m. By noon you want to stop, have lunch, maybe go to the restroom, grab a cup of coffee, and be on your way. Meanwhile, your car has been charging. And all that takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

TAPPER: All right. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, thank you so much. And continued success.

MUSK: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: It turns out investors were not wowed by Musk's new leasing deal. Stock for Tesla dropped eight percent today on the news. But the company is still up 20 percent from last year.

True love can make a man do strange things, like lie and cheat and run off to Argentina without telling anyone. But will voters see a love story or a disgraced politician that can't be trusted. What is the difference between Mark Sanford and Bill Clinton? Our political panel weighs in on the return of Governor Sanford next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The Politics Lead: what's the standard in 2013? Can you cheat on your wife and expect to be forgiven by the voters? Four years after his highly publicized affair, former governor mark Sanford thinks so. The former governor cleared another hurdle on his run for redemption last night, clinching the Republican nomination for the congressional seat he previously held for three terms. His Argentinean fiancee was by his side. Earlier in the show, he told me why he thinks he's still fit to serve in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SANFORD, GOP CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think there are too many people in politics who think that they know it all. And I think they project this whole image of perfection. The perfect family, the perfect person, the perfect this. The reality is none of us are perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So do affairs even matter anymore in politics? It's a big question. Here to talk about it, Kevin Madden, former senior adviser to Mitt Romney. Mo Elleithee, former senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton. And Ron Brownstein, CNN political analyst.

Ron, first of all, just the practical politics of this. Republicans are worried about this seat. They're worried he will not be able to keep it.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they are. And his answer to you is about as good a response and a formulation that you can have in his situation. And voters have shown pretty prominently in the case of Bill Clinton and in others that they are willing to forgive or look past this imperfection of this sort. But having said all that, the specifics of the case make it a big hill to climb. And I think Republicans are concerned, at least temporarily. You get back to 2014, whatever happens in the special election, they would be favored to regain this seat.

TAPPER: Kevin, you worked for Mitt Romney. And I hate to bring up bad memories for you. But do you recall who won the South Carolina Republican primary?

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO MITT ROMNEY: Newt Gingrich by about three point.s

GINGRICH: Newt Gingrich. Somebody, if you compare personal lives, Mitt Romney versus Newt Gingrich ... MADDEN: Yes. Well, look, there are -- like in sports, there are comeback stories. And I think in politics, there are comeback stories. I think the bigger challenge is a redemption story as an electoral message is one that's about you. And I think right now, voters with the anxieties that they're facing, whether it's their pressures - the cost of living at home -- they want this election to be about them. So, I think for Mark Sanford to be successful here, he has to get away from this redemption message and make this about an economic growth message, about the voters and what they're worried about.

TAPPER: Moe, you worked for then-senator Hillary Clinton. She had a different role in a different scandal. Are voters willing to - well, they obviously are. But is there a difference between how Mark Sanford is handling it versus how Bill Clinton handled his versus Anthony Weiner versus David Vitter? They all seem to have done different paths. Are there any rules? What would you advise mark Sanford if you were working for him today?

MO ELLEITHEE, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESMAN, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: It's got to be about trust. Ultimately, that's what it's got to be about. It's not just - I mean, I agree with you to some extent, Kevin that there has to be somewhat of an economic message. But ultimately, voters are looking at who they trust. And here's a guy who has a very famous indiscretion. But voters oftentimes get past the indiscretion.

But not only that. He abused taxpayer funding to pay for that indiscretion. He lied to people in a very blatant, out-in-the-open way. He has to figure out how to regain trust. I also think that there's -- his opponent matters in this.

BROWNSTEIN: It matters that he's running against a woman.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: This is the first - unfortunately, this is the first all- male panel we've had on the show. But -- I wish we did have a woman. But the idea that women voters are going to be more turned off by this than male voters, does that ever show itself in polls? I remember women voters liking Bill Clinton.

BROWNSTEIN: No - I mean, I would be surprised if that's the driving force. But it's just more of the contrast of running against a woman forces this kind of into the voters minds almost everyday. It kind of makes it more salient, more relevant. I mean, just today, she put out a press release basically saying he was belittling her. And that is the kind of thing that it kind of opens up --

ELLEITHEE: I mean, he's talking about her as a famous comedian's sister. Not mentioning that she's an accomplished businesswoman. An accomplished executive at Clemson University in her own right. That kind of thing can get him into even hotter water.

MADDEN: And that's why it can't be the central message that he has here. It can't be about him. And I think this goes to Mo's point. Which is the way to the voters' feelings of trust? And I think voters will trust Mark Sanford and they'll send him to Washington if they know that they can trust him with their taxpayer dollars. And that's why he has to make this an economic argument. It has to be about economic growth, and it has to be about voters' anxieties in this current economic state.

BROWNSTEIN: I have a question for you. If he does win, does he get primaried in 2014?

MADDEN: I think so. I mean, look. If you're going to have, about what? They have 17 different people down there? Someone down there is going to think, well, if I get him one-on-one, I can beat him.

TAPPER: Let me just briefly take it to one more topic, which is the White House announced today President Obama was going to give 5 percent of his income to the treasury because in the tough times we all have to feel pain. This is obviously a symbolic gesture more than anything else.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think it makes sense for him to do, but they are still struggling to find a way to crystallize "The Sequester" and make it into the threat they were hoping that Americans would see it as.

The airports I think was probably their best, you know, the idea of really long lines getting on planes, that doesn't seem to have emerged yet. But they are still struggling to find a way to make the case against "The Sequester" they were hoping to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of these gestures they look like pageantry. People don't want pageantry right now. What they want is action. So I think if the president or Republicans can make concrete -- take concrete steps toward reforming the way the spending and the deficit problems are affecting Washington or affecting states with "The Sequester," that's a better political play.

TAPPER: Mo, I'll let you have the last word.

ELLEITHEE: It's a little built of a race right now, right. People are going to eventually feel the price of "The Sequester." Look just across the river into Virginia, you know, people there are already beginning to feel the effects of "The Sequester."

So to Kevin's point, the Republicans are going to change the way things are done before people start feeling it because if people are feeling first then I think they are in for a world of hurt.

TAPPER: I want to bring in our neighbor right now. I don't know if you're familiar with this guy. He's the Mr. Roper of The Lead. His name is Wolf Blitzer. You're much more handsome.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Excellent panel.

TAPPER: You like this?

BLITZER: Very good lucking, smart. TAPPER: It's not a barbershop quintet.

BLITZER: They're going to want to stick around and watch "THE SITUATION ROOM." Because we have a lot of news, including the latest of what's going on in North Korea right now. The former secretary of state, Madeline Albright, she has actually been to North Korea during the Clinton administration.

She went there and she met with Kim Jong-Il, the father of the current young leader, and you know what she brought him as a gift? A basketball signed by Michael Jordan. It's cherished in Pyongyang and that's why one of the reasons Dennis Rodman was so welcomed there.

We're going to talk about what's going on right now. Madeline Albright, Ted Turner, the founder of our network, he's going to be joining us. There's a new book about him. He has some thoughts about a whole range of issues.

If you know Ted Turner, you know, he has thoughts on that. And we'll have live coverage of the president's speech on guns in Denver. That's coming up at the top of the hour.

TAPPER: I hear music. I have to rudely cut you off, but I appreciate you stopping by. We'll definitely watch "THE SITUATION ROOM."

BLITZER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Our "Pop Lead," remember the good old days when kids talked instead of texted and people made plans before they left the house? It's the 40th birthday of the cell phone today. We will look back at its evolution. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: This just in to CNN, a helicopter lying on the ground in flames after plunging from the sky in Miami-Dade County in Florida. Details are sketchy at the moment. We're told that two people were on board this helicopter, but we have no reports of injuries yet. No word yet either on what caused the crash. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you up to date.

But now it is time for our "Pop Culture Lead," happy birthday, cell phones, 40 looks good on you. The invention that was once awkward and bulky has only gotten sleeker, slimmer and more refined with age just like myself.

We should all be so lucky. THE LEAD's Erin McPike is here with a look at the evolution of man's new best friend. Erin, cell phones are more than a decade older than you. That upsets me. But tell me more about this anniversary.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you recognize this old thing?

TAPPER: I used to see things like that on "The X Files." MCPIKE: Your generation would see this as Gordon Gecko's cell phone, but my generation would see it as Zach Morris' cell phone. But either way for both of us, cell phones has come a long way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE (voice-over): Cell phones, they are already over the hill. Maybe you've been using one for 15 years or even 20. But a Motorola engineer named Martin Cooper made the first mobile call way back in 1973.

(on camera): Do you ever think that they would be as ubiquitous as they are today?

MARTIN COOPER, CELL PHONE INNOVATOR (via telephone): Well, we knew even in 1973 that someday everybody would have a cell phone. We used to tell the joke that some day when you were born you would be assigned a cell phone number and if you didn't have a phone you died.

MCPIKE (voice-over): He made that first ever call from a Dyno Tech prototype. Ten years later, the first commercial phone call was made to Alexander Grahambell's nephew. In 1996, the first flip phone, Motorola's Star Tech and in 2007, Apple revolutionized the market with the iPhone.

Along the way, there were car phones, once so revolutionary and now so obsolete and in many cases against the law. But it inspired the cellular telephone. The average American caught a glimpse of a heavier version in '80s by watching everyone from Gordon Gecko.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care where or how you get it. Just get it.

MCPIKE: To Zach Morris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong with me? I got laryngitis plus nasal drip.

MCPIKE: In the '90s, cell phones took off and got way more user friendly. They also shrank way down in size.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn off my phone? Turn off my phone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earth to Matilda. This phone is as much a part of me as --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what? Can we just cut it out with all the earth tos, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not actually saying this is the earth calling you, Matilda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I got that. MCPIKE: These days, new types of cell phones are constantly coming into the market that let users access the internet, play music even watch movies. Now Apple is about to introduce the iPhone 6. As of last year, six billion cell phones were in use throughout the world and cell phone service is rapidly spreading throughout developing countries.

COOPER: Twenty years from now, it's going to be much simpler than today's phone. You're going to have a phone in your earrings or behind your ear or imbedded under your skin so you can make phone calls just by thinking about what you want to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: And so Jake, Marty Cooper is 84 years old. He's had more than 100 different cell phones. He says he will get another in the next month or two. I've had five. This is my fifth. You are a lot hipper than I am with your iPhone.

TAPPER: I have an iPhone 5 and I thought I was cool, but now I'm -- your report says there's going to be an iPhone 6.

MCPIKE: Some time in the next few months there's speculation.

TAPPER: This is going to be obsolete. That's my thing. Thank you, Erin McPike.

His coach cried. His teammates collapsed to the floor, but what was it like for Kevin Ware himself? The moment his leg broke in that Louisville-Duke game. He will tell us one-on-one in our "Sports Lead," and that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The "Sports Lead," you don't need to go out and buy an inspirational book of you watched the past four days of Kevin Ware's life unfold. The nation watched him suffer a sickening broken leg during the Louisville-Duke game on Sunday night. Now he is back with the team and today, he talked about it for the first time since the injury to our own Rachel Nichols.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN WARE, INJURED LEG IN MARCH MADNESS GAME: This is a big game. We're on a big stage right now. So my first instinct was I can't start crying. I can't do this right now. I'm just thinking in my head, what can I do?

I'm like I got to win this game. I'm going to be good. Coach starts calling the guys over there. They kind of got it together and they made me proud. They beat Duke by 22 and you know, we still got another goal to accomplish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The next step for Ware may be a trip to Atlanta for the final four, but he needs to get a doctor's clearance first to ride the bus with his team. On the less inspirational athletic story front, Rutgers University today fired men's basketball coach Mike Rice no more than a day after a video was aired of him acting like a bigoted lunatic.

Today Rice also came out to give a too little, too late apology. The footage first shown on ESPN shows Rice grabbing, shoving, kicking players, hitting basketballs at them and as you heard slinging gay slurs calling a player a fairy and a more offensive word that starts with an "f."

That does it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I leave you now in the able hands of Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Tomorrow, a sneak peek on "Madmen" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jake. Happening now, breaking news, North Korea says its armed forces have the go ahead for a nuclear strike on the United States.

Families of Newtown victims open like never before despite the incomprehensible loss, they refused to let tragedy define them discovering the good that can come from unthinkable evil. A "People" magazine exclusive that you will see first right here on --