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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Texas Murders Have Residents On Edge; Budget Bashing; Pope Vows "Action" Against Sex Abuse

Aired April 5, 2013 - 19:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, living in fear. Weeks after a district attorney and his wife are murdered, there are no new leads, and a community is on edge.

Plus, everyone is bashing President Obama's new budget plan including the president.

And new tensions in North Korea as the country loads up a second missile that has the range to strike an American territory. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Hello. I'm Jake Tapper. Erin Burnett has the night off. OUTFRONT tonight, fear and anxiety in Texas. No new leads, no new suspects, and no end to the uneasiness in Kaufman County, Texas, over who gunned down their district attorney and his wife.

A shaken community mourned the loss of Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, today, as the couple was laid to rest. Their murders are part of a troubling trend across this country, a spike of violence against law enforcement officials.

McClelland's assistant D.A., Mark Hasse, was killed two months ago. His killer remains at large. Colorado's prison chief was murdered in his home last month. The man suspected in his death was killed in a shootout by the police.

But authorities are still looking for a member of a white supremacist group that might have been involved and a West Virginia sheriff was shot to death as he sat in his car eating lunch on Wednesday.

His alleged killer is in the hospital after being shot by police. OUTFRONT tonight, George Howell is in Kaufman, Texas, with the latest on this small community that is very much on edge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wreaths on store fronts and in front of the courthouse. A community now in morning as the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife were buried Friday. The couple shot nearly one week ago in a brazen attack inside their own home with no new leads in the case and so many unanswered questions, residents here are on edge. BILL VICKERS, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: I've got a rifle that I keep loaded in our bedroom now. Just because, you know, just to be prepared if something, you know, happens at our house.

HOWELL (on camera): And that's different as of this week?

MELANI VICKERS, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: Yes, very much so. I mean, we were talking about it the other day. He said I'm going to go get the gun and go ahead and load it because you don't know what's going to happen.

HOWELL (voice-over): Until the killer or killers are caught, people worry about what could happen next. The private funeral for Mike and Cynthia McLelland makes the second time in two months that people have come together to bury a county prosecutor.

McLelland's Deputy D.A. Mark Hasse was shot and killed in broad daylight walking to the courthouse in January and though, it's still unclear whether the cases are connected, law enforcement is stepping up its presence.

Some public officials are even requesting around the clock security as Texas Governor Rick Perry explains to Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Are you beefing up security for other law enforcement personnel in Texas including yourself?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Well, obviously, the prosecutors in the state of Texas and all people who are elected officials, we ask them to always pay attention to their surroundings, to be cognizant of their security needs. If there are individuals who are requesting beefing up, if you will, of security, we will address that each situation by itself.

HOWELL: The day before McLelland was killed, even he was concerned about security. This video obtained by CBS News shows McLelland checking out an antique gun at a local gun store. The store owner tells CNN he wasn't there to buy a gun for himself, but was worried about security for his colleagues.

O'NEIL KIDWILL, STORE OWNER: He was in there Friday asking about what he should get his co-workers as self protection. I recommended the .38 Smith and Wesson snubnose and perhaps a bullet proof vest.

HOWELL (on camera): So he was concerned?

KIDWILL: He was concerned for them. For himself, he was at ease.

HOWELL (voice-over): And it's his concern for others that people best remember this tough talking Texas prosecutor, a dedicated steward of the law who stood up for what he believed to be right regardless of the risks. For OUTFRONT, George Howell, Kaufman, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Our thanks to George for that report. Now I want to bring in Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood. He was good friends with District Attorney Mike McLelland. Judge Wood, thanks you for being with us this evening.

I know they held a funeral today for your friends, the McLellands. It must be in addition to being heartbreaking. It must be frustrating that there are no real leads in the investigation right now. Is it?

JUDGE BRUCE WOOD, KAUFMAN COUNTY: Well, I know the law enforcement groups are working extremely hard to find who did this. And this includes national state and local law enforcement and I'm really not advised on where the investigation is at this point. But I do know and I feel very secure that every effort that possibly can be made is being defined who did these heinous acts.

TAPPER: So, sir, by now we've seen the video of Mike McLelland in the gun shop and we hear he was shopping for his co-workers. You heard that in the report just now because he was concerned about their safety. Is that characteristic of McLelland? Is he the kind of man who was not worried so much about himself but worried about others?

WOOD: Absolutely. Mike was -- what you see on Mike or what you've watched over the last few weeks and especially this last week during the interviews that he's given, he is a very up front guy. He was in the military for many years. That was his life. He was a major.

And that was his operating style, but he was a fellow that was bigger than life. And he wanted to make sure that whoever did a crime was punished and I do know he was very concerned about his staff and was always looking for ways especially after Mark Hasse was killed, he really ramped that up and looking for ways to make sure that his staff could be protected.

TAPPER: There still is this aura of fear in Kaufman County. There was a bomb threat last night at the public visitation for the McLellands before they were laid to rest. Today, police had to search the grounds and the surrounding area before the funeral. Wolf Blitzer talked to Governor Perry about beefing up security and here's what Governor Perry had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: I'm comfortable that the Department of Public Safety and the security that they provide is adequate for myself and my family, and for the legislators, and the other individuals in the state who they provide security for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, sir, as a judge in the community, you are receiving additional security? Are you confident that you and other members of law enforcement are getting everything you need in terms of protection? WOOD: I certainly am. I feel very secure. I believe the other elected officials and other positions in the county that might be in harm's way, I know other protection is being provided. And I feel very safe.

We're all very cautious. Nobody wants to put themselves in harm's way and we're all more cognizant of what happened and really watching ourselves and we have very capable people taking care of all of us.

TAPPER: Another example of the unease in Texas tonight, security has been ordered for a Dallas County criminal court judge after family photos were taken out of the frames from the judge's bench over the weekend. Is this just the new normal for people in your profession, especially in Texas these days?

WOOD: Well, I certainly hope not. We've had these several instances in our country over the last few weeks and certainly what's happened here in my county and Kaufman County is nothing that we ever experienced. Whatever happened in Dallas County I saw the report on that, I'm not sure of the details of that.

But I hope it's not the new normal in our country. And if it is, it's something that has rapidly needs to be squelched and whoever are doing these kinds of acts, they certainly need to be found and punished as quickly as possible.

TAPPER: All right, Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood, thanks so much for joining us this evening.

WOOD: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Still to come, Republicans and Democrats finally agree on something. President Obama's budget plan is not the right plan. And the president, he thinks so, too.

Plus, Pope Francis calls for decisive action in the fight against child abuse. but is it just talk?

And a decorated Iraq war veteran said he has lost the will to live. He will tell us why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Our second story, OUTFRONT, budget bashing. It looks like nobody is wildly enthusiastic about President Obama's new budget plan including President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The offer that president made to Speaker Boehner, which is incorporated in the president's budget is not the president's ideal approach to our budget challenges.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: For once everyone in Washington agrees. Of course, the plan includes tax hikes, which Republicans call a nonstarter. The president is also calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which many progressives call a nonstarter. They call it far worse names than that actually.

So does this new proposal stand a chance or is it just a colossal waste of time? OUTFRONT tonight, Hugh Hewitt, host of the nationally syndicated "Hugh Hewitt Radio Show" and Jim Kessler, the senior vice president and a co-founder of Third Way.

Both of them, friends of mine, I'm excited to you have here. Thank you so much for being here. Jim, I'll start with you. The president's plan will be released in full next week. It's a few months late, but we won't begrudge him for that.

So we don't have all the details, but parts are similar to the final compromise that the president offered House Speaker John Boehner when they were negotiating before the budget talks fell apart.

House Speaker John Boehner, nonetheless, slammed the proposal today saying, quote, "If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to shore up the programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That's no way to lead and move the country forward."

So, Jim, tell me, why do you think President Obama is making this pitch? Why is he going back down the same road that as we know led to stalemate the last time around?

JIM KESSLER, CO-FOUNDER OF THIRD WAY: Thanks, Jake. I feel very lonely in this town because I actually think it's a very, very good budget. And actually when I go back to last 20 or 30 years, I cannot recall any president in any era putting forth a budget that actually reached more to the middle and did not speak to his base.

I think that's very significant. And, look, will they be able to reach a budget deal? Who knows? But this was a serious attempt at a first negotiating position and I think the president deserves some credit.

TAPPER: Hugh, President Obama angered the left by proposing in this budget what is called chained CPI, basically, that's an inflation formula that would reduce the cost of living payments for Social Security and other social programs.

The liberal group moveon.org issued a statement calling this proposal unconscionable saying, quote, "Millions of Moveon members did not work night and day to put President Obama in office so that he could propose policies that would hurt some of our most vulnerable people.

Earlier today on my show "THE LEAD," I spoke with Gene Sperling. He is the director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy. And here's what he told me about chained CPI. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE SPERLING, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY: One of the things that Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell have said were necessary to break the gridlock, they asked for is this change in the CPI and the president has been willing to agree to that as part of an overall agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, Hugh, the president put something on the table that his own base hates. They say it's a show of good faith. Should Boehner and McConnell now try to meet the president half way?

HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "HUGH HEWITT SHOW": Absolutely not. The chained CPI is a given. I think everyone who has been studying the Social Security and Medicare mess for a long time understands there are some basic steps that have to happen. Whether or not moveon.org ever cracks open an economics text.

I'll tell you what the problem with this budget is. It increases uncertainty at a very time that we are laboring under a sum of all fears economy. That jobs report today, it's such a bad jobs report and it reflects the fact the president won't move on Keystone. The EPA is a regulatory Vesuvius of all sorts of new and costly proposals.

We got the endangered species act running out of control and locking up development in the west. We've got all sorts of things. The Obamacare health care exchanges got postponed for two years. The president continues to posture as the economy stalls out.

I'm sure Jim would agree. The jobs number today, 88,000 jobs created was very underperforming what even pessimistic people thought was going to happen. The president's got to get serious. He has to come back to Washington, get off the campaign trail and go to work on a real budget with real solutions because he's killing the economy.

KESSLER: Well, Jake, that sounds like a campaign speech. Look, I think that there are a lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans who could be accused of, you know, seeing unicorns dancing across the prairie and saying we're not going to budge a single inch, not a penny to cut benefits on entitlements. That what is some Democrats say and not a penny more in taxes.

That's what a lot of Republicans say. Look, we just can't do this anymore. I mean this is -- we've reached a point where these positions are completely untenable. You know, I just want to say one thing about the Obama coalition that got him elected. The majority of them are self identified moderates.

They're actually not self identified liberals and for moderates out there, this bill, this budget plan looks pretty good. And, yes, not everyone's going to get exactly what they want. That's what needs to happen right now to move the country forward.

TAPPER: Hugh, I'll let you have the last word. HEWITT: That's just not true. That's just not true about moderates. Moderates understand that the tax hikes the president got out of the Congress at the beginning of the year have already injured the economy. They understand we can't raise more taxes. They understand Obamacare is a complete and utter failure thus far.

KESSLER: But they elected him again.

HEWITT: They did elect him again. He's a great politician. He is a great politician, but he has to govern now.

KESSLER: Moderates are intelligent and they know what they're doing.

HEWITT: Jim, the moderates are not with this bucket. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Hugh Hewitt and Jim Kessler, thanks so much. We really appreciate you being here.

Still to come, Pope Francis vows to punish pedophile priests, but it is just talk?

Plus, President Obama apologizes for comments he made about California's attorney general that some people called sexist. Did the president cross the line?

And almost two months after cop killer Christopher Dorner was killed, the LAPD announces a major decision about that $1 million reward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Our third story, OUTFRONT, Pope Francis takes on the sex abuse scandal in the major announcement today. Pope Francis is calling for, quote, "Decisive action in the fight against child sex abuse in the Catholic Church." He also made a point to say that guilty priests would be punished. But is it all just talk?

OUTFRONT tonight, Father Edward Beck, host of the "Sunday Mass," and CNN contributor. Father Beck, nice to make your acquaintance not on Twitter, but face-to-face as it were.

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

TAPPER: So I have a question for you. An organization for those who have been abused by priests released a statement today saying, quote, "Big deal. Actions speak louder than words." One of the first actions Pope Francis took was to visit perhaps the most high profile, corrupt free lay on the planet, Cardinal Bernard Law.

Now as you know, Father Law has been accused of covering up sex abuse. Is this reason to doubt, I know he is infallible, but is this reason to doubt Pope Francis?

BECK: Well, Jake, you know, I can understand, I guess, some of the cynicism, but let's look at the facts of this. He's been pope for three weeks. Not three months. Not three years. Three weeks. Symbolically, what has he done?

Even with regards to just the youth, we all heard about he went to a prison. He didn't go to an adult prison. He went to a youth prison. He washed the feet of adolescents. Now that's a symbol, yes, of service but also of reconciliation.

Then we saw that image in St. Peter's Square. He lifted up that disabled young man, embraced him, blessed him, young man, Dominic. These are symbolic gestures, first of all, toward the youth. So we can't miss that.

Then today he calls in the head of the CDF, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who is basically the sex crimes prosecutor and says, you know what? I'm going to make the bishop's counsels, congregations mark decisively and determinately with sex abuse as the issue.

So these, I think, for three weeks I mean, they're remarkable. It's not just talk. It is gesture and action as well.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, I take your point. And just for those of you at home who don't recall exactly when he washed the feet of the youth at that detention center, there were females' whose feet he washed, which upset some traditionalists. There were Muslims and other non- Christians whose feet he washed.

It was absolutely a very moving gesture to millions of people. But the issue with Cardinal Law, I think is one that bothers a lot of people because this is somebody that, you know, even his own successor has criticized him.

BECK: Well, he went to a church, traditionally popes pray in front of a shrine there. That is where Cardinal Law is. So he met with him and talked with him. It wasn't that he's giving him approval for what he did.

He's not going to ignore a fellow cardinal that he is going to visit. We should not take that symbolically that he is somehow patting him on the back as if just say good job. He simply met with a cardinal. It's not that unusual.

TAPPER: Fair enough. You also think it's significant that the first Latin American pope sees the sex abuse scandal as a priority. That's because this hasn't been really much of a scandal in Latin America, right?

BECK: That's true. So you have a Latin American pope now who within the first three weeks of his papacy says I'm making this a priority. You'll remember that there were members of the Roman Chorea who even said this is an American problem.

And, of course, they've been disabused of that notion. But for someone who it didn't affect much in Latin America yet, that may still unfold. But for him to realize it's a worldwide problem. This is not an American problem. That is important, I think. TAPPER: All right, Father Edward Beck, we're going to have to have you on my show, "THE LEAD," which is on at 4:00. I look forward to that. Thank you so much for joining us.

BECK: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still to come, North Korea moves a second missile in range of an American territory. The White House would not be surprised if a launch is next.

Plus, President Obama criticized for being sexist? We'll tell you what he said about California's attorney general.

And another top official at Rutgers loses his job due to the basketball scandal and now there is a lawsuit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. We'll start the second half of our show with stories we care about where we focus on our own reporting from the frontlines.

Rutgers University athletic director Tim Pernetti has resigned. He was criticized for not immediately firing the men's basketball coach Mike Rice after seeing video of Rice shoving and verbally abusing players during practice. Crisis communications expert Eric Desenhaul (ph) tells us Pernetti's departure is justifiable. He says the administration should have anticipated that suspending and fining Rice would not be enough of a punishment for his actions.

Meanwhile, a former team official has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the university. Eric Murdock alleges Rutgers fired him after he reported the Rice's actions to university officials.

Some disappointing news on the economy today. The U.S. added only 88,000 jobs in March, 100,000 fewer than economists were expecting and not enough to keep up with population growth.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent. But that is primarily because people dropped out of the labor market. Economists we spoke to say the report was weak across the board.

Six people have now died in China's bird flu outbreak. China's state-run news agency reports authorities have killed more than 20,000 birds from a live poultry market in Shanghai in order to combat the flu strain. Dr. Ian Lipkin (ph), an expert on outbreaks, told us that killing birds like this has been effective in the past and this is an excellent start towards controlling exposure.

An OUTFRONT update on the controversy surrounding the million dollar reward for cop killer Christopher Dorner. The former LAPD officer led authorities on a massive manhunt after he killed four people in a vendetta against the police department. During the manhunt, police offered a $1 million reward for tips leading to his capture. Several people said they deserve the money, since their calls led authorities to Dorner who died after a standoff.

Tonight, the LAPD tells us a panel of three retired judges will decide who, if anyone, will get that reward.

It has been 610 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? The FAA is postponing some of the spending cuts. It announced today will delay closing 149 air traffic control towers until June 15th. The towers were supposed to start closing on Sunday.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT: an ominous warning from North Korea. North Korea has advised foreign diplomats in Pyongyang to evacuate staff by April 10th, quote, "in the event of conflict." And U.S. officials tell CNN that North Korea has two medium ranged missiles loaded on to mobile launchers on that country's east coast.

At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration is prepared for a possible missile launch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're monitoring this situation closely and we would not be surprised to see them take such an action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: OUTFRONT tonight, Nick Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.

Gordon, I'm going to start with you.

Two missiles loaded on mobile launchers, what do you think is North Korea's next move and when do you suspect that will happen?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Well, my favorite date for the launch of these missiles would be April 14th for a couple reasons. Secretary of State Kerry will be if Tokyo. And if the north core evens are going to get them over Ginza, then, clearly this would humiliate the United States. It would intimidate Japan. If you're in North Korea, there is nothing better than that.

Also, you've got to remember that April 15th is the 101st anniversary of the birth of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung. I think that a lot of these events that we've seen from Dennis Rodman to today have been stage-managed for this one big celebration for the North Korean regime.

TAPPER: And as you suggest, of course, the North Koreans are very much into anniversaries.

Gordon, one more for you. Jay Carney says the administration wouldn't be surprised by launch. Do you think the Obama administration is prepared for a launch?

CHANG: Well, they're as prepared as they could be. You know, we have a missile defense system which is somewhat reliable. You know, I think that we could have a better missile defense system, but that's going to take years to develop.

The Obama administration has done everything it can possibly can, but it's going to be insufficient given the circumstances.

TAPPER: Nick, the British foreign office said in a written statement about that warning from Pyongyang, quote, "We're consulting international partners about these developments. No decisions have been taken. And we have no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy."

If you were in their shoes, would you withdraw? And if not, when would be the right time?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think every country has to use its best judgment. You know, what may be hang here is the North Korean regime is trying to intimidate and pressure a lot of allies of the United States into saying things and doing things that look like panic.

And I think the Obama administration handled this very effectively. They've been firm. They've showed that we have much greater military power -- we the South Koreans and Japanese than do the North Koreans. But they haven't overreacted. I think that really is the right answer here.

What has to happen now is that China needs to get involved. China has as much influence as anybody does on North Korea. They've taken a backseat. They're not leaning. They've tried to say that people on both sides should calm emotions when it's only North Korea that's making the provocations.

It's an interesting example of how China is very weak, very passive and not a very good report card on China's vaunted rise to global power when they're not playing an important role here.

TAPPER: Nick, as I mentioned, Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to China, South Korea and Japan next week. Do you think this trip is the right move right now?

And after Nick, Gordon, jump in.

BURNS: It certainly is. You know, Secretary Kerry made the first trip to Europe and the Middle East. It's very important that he signal U.S. interests in Asia. We have an alliance system with Japan, South Korea and Australia. It's arguably an economic and strategic and military terms the most important part of the world now.

So it's absolutely right thing to do for Secretary Kerry to go there. And obviously, he'll have to have important conversations, especially with the Chinese on what they can do to help us with the North Korean situation.

TAPPER: Gordon?

CHANG: Yes. We need conversations. But they got to be really tough ones because the Chinese have been selling, for instance, mobile missile launchers to the North Koreans which help them increase their capacity to wage nuclear war. You know, talk to the Chinese but apply some pressure, because what we've been doing over the course of decades really has not worked.

And I'm afraid that Secretary Kerry by going to Beijing is really feeding the Chinese sense of self-importance which is already inflated. I think that we need to have a new approach to the Chinese, because, clearly, with the North Koreans and Chinese working together, this is not a good situation.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Burns and Gordon Chang, thank you so much.

CHANG: Thank you.

TAPPER: Days after the 9/11 attacks, 22-year-old Tomas Young was motivated to enlist in the U.S. Army, as were so many young men and women. Three years later, while serving in Iraq, a bullet severed Young's spine, paralyzing him. The shooting turned Young into one of the most vocal critics of the war.

But now, after nine years and a number of medical setbacks, his body failed has him. And Tomas Young said he lost the will to live.

Martin Savidge has the tragic story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moment after he was shot, Tomas Young tried to pick up his rifle. When his arms wouldn't move, he realized it was bad.

TOMAS YOUNG, IRAQ WAR VETERANS: I knew something was terribly wrong. I screamed, take me out. Somebody kill me.

SAVIDGE: Instead, doctors saved him and sent him home, paralyzed. Now, the soldier once willing to lay down his life for his country only wants to lay down and die.

YOUNG: I watch my body deteriorate.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

(CHEERS)

SAVIDGE: Young enlisted just days after 9/11, wanting to fight those who attacked America.

CATHY SMITH, MOM: I was nothing but proud. My son was going to go defend our country. SAVIDGE: But instead of Afghanistan, in 2004, Young found himself in Iraq, a nation that did nothing against the U.S. And on just his fifth day, the bullet severed his spine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is.

SAVIDGE: From his wheelchair, he became an outspoken critic of the U.S. presence in Iraq.

YOUNG: It bothers to see how he is handling the war but the problems we face don't seem to get through to them. They don't seem to care, because they don't have any personal investment in the war.

SAVIDGE: By 2007, his life was a documentary called "Body of War." But that sniper's bullet continued to take its toll. In 2008, a blood clot travelled to his lung affecting his brain.

SMITH: When he woke up from coma, he had lost the ability to speak.

SAVIDGE: Since then, Tomas' life has been on a downward slide. He seldom leaves his bed, can't swallow food, a tube feeds his stomach.

Last year, his colon was removed, now he wears a colostomy bag. His bed sores penetrate to the bone. He takes more than 30 pills a day.

YOUNG: Every so often they have to increase the dose because the pain starts to get worse.

CLAUDIA CUELLER, WIFE: This is a roller coaster. I mean this has been impossible journey. Much harder for him than it is for me, but I have to simply bear witness which is very hard.

SAVIDGE: His wife Claudia says it's not that Tomas wants to stop living. He just wants to stop suffering.

Unable to swallow pills, unable to pull a trigger, unwilling to implicate anyone else, Tomas plans to starve himself to death.

SMITH: I support his decision.

SAVIDGE: And the woman who gave him life understands.

SMITH: A lot of what Tomas was and who Tomas was is gone now anyway. I've already mourned that. So I'll just pick up the pieces. Sympathy.

SAVIDGE: But not everyone agrees with his choice. Since announcing his decision, some of those religiously opposed to it had literally beat a path to his door to try to stop him.

CUELLER: They feel like they have the right to impose their view on our unique human lives and situations. SAVIDGE: Young has still to choose an exact date when he will start to carry out his plan. But with so many gravely wounded vets returning home from back to back wars, he is certain he won't be the only one looking to find the right day to die.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Kansas City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Now let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "A.C. 360."

You probably heard the hanging with Mr. Cooper joke a million times. So, I'm not going to make it, Anderson. What's --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my God, I never heard that. That's crazy. Because there used to be a show, "Hanging with Mr. Cooper."

TAPPER: So when viewers hang with Anderson Cooper -- I didn't even do it right. When viewers hang with Mr. Cooper --

COOPER: Keep it going.

TAPPER: When viewers hang with Mr. Cooper later today, what will they be treated to?

COOPER: Well, let me tell there, Mr. Tapper.

Ahead on the program, my exclusive interview with Christina Foreman. She's the daughter of Mike and Cynthia McLelland, the Texas district attorney and his wife who were murdered in their home. Christina says people need to follow in her parents' footsteps and not let fear keep them from doing the right thing, an important message she wants you to hear.

Also remarkable look at what life is really like in North Korea. That's what the dictators Kim Jung Un wants you to believe the country is like, full of adoring citizens. Tonight, though, on this program, a side of North Korea that almost no one hears about -- tens of thousands of people, probably more than 100,000 doing hard labor in prison camps, essentially concentration camps. And it's not just people accused of crimes against the state. It's their children, it's their parents, three generations of punishment, entire families locked away over multiple generations until they die.

Tonight, my interview with a man who was actually born in one of the most toughest camps, Camp 14, and managed to escape to tell the story of all those left behind.

Those stories and also tonight's "RidicuList" and a lot more at the top of the hour -- Jake. TAPPER: Sounds great. I'll be watching. Thanks so much, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks.

TAPPER: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: a compliment or crossing the line. What do you think?

President Obama is getting some heat for his comments about California Attorney General Kamala Harris in a fundraiser last night. The president said, quote, "She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough. She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general," unquote.

The president went on to say, quote, "It's true, come on."

Well, some called the comments inappropriate. Others said they were just plain sexist. Others saying, lighten up.

But, still, less than 12 hours later --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: He called her to apologize for the distraction created by his comments and, you know, they are old friends and good friends. And he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: OUTFRONT tonight: Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, Ana Navarro, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, and political comedian Dean Obeidallah.

Thank you one and all for being here.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Ana, I'm going to start with you. I'm going to start you because I have this incredibly unscientific Internet poll that I'm going to read to you that says that 72 percent of our blog readers say the president's comments were not offensive. Ana, you disagree?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They were inappropriate. And proof that they were inappropriate, Jake, is the fact that the president called Kamala Harris and apologized. If he hadn't thought they were inappropriate, he wouldn't have done that.

I got a feeling that when he got home, Michelle told him, you know what, Barack? That was inappropriate. And he knows. Look, every woman in America knows -- I mean, professional woman in America particularly, knows that we get talked about when it comes to our hair, our makeup, our jewelry, our clothes, our weight, I mean, you name it.

And women want equality. What does equality mean? You get treated like the men. You're getting judged on your qualifications. You're getting judged on your merits. You're getting judged on your resume.

And I think he understood. He put his foot in his mouth. You know what? As Mitt Romney taught us, or a waiter taught Mitt Romney instead, anything you say behind closed doors, even in a fundraiser, can and will be used against you.

CARDONA: Jake, but you know what?

TAPPER: Go ahead.

CARDONA: This is clearly become completely overblown. Yes, there is a time for things. There is a place for things.

And I can guarantee you President Obama will never make a comment like this again. But you have to look at the context. The context is that they were very good friends. They are very close.

And the fact of the matter is that he did start with her qualifications and how good she was as an attorney general. By the way, you also have to look at context in terms of the person saying it, his or her record. If this had been a politician who was awful on women's issues, then I would say, yes, it was sexist and it was offensive.

But what was the first thing President Obama did when he walked into office legislatively? He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. He's somebody who has fought for women's issues his whole life. But I'm glad he apologized.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: I can say one thing, first of all? This is the best looking panel by far ever. Jake, you're the best looking one. Why? Because you're the host and I'm sucking up to you. If it's Wolf Blitzer, I'd say the same thing.

But you know what? Ana like very much, but, Ana, if he just said you're the best attorney general because you're the hottest one in the country, that would be wrong, I would be on your side.

But in this case, he talked about their talents. And secondly, they're old friends. I mean, are we in the situation now in this country where friends cannot compliment each other on their looks?

NAVARRO: Yes, we are in that situation, dean.

OBEIDALLAH: We're friends. I can't say you look great?

NAVARRO: I'll tell you why, because you're not president.

OBEIDALLAH: If I'm president, I can't say that, though? I lose that right?

NAVARRO: You know why. Look, whether we like it or not, when you are a politician, particularly when you are the highest ranked politician in the land, you have to be politically correct. That's why it's called politically correct.

So --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Let's get you guys. Let's get this panel to weigh in on this comment from Mitt Romney back in 2009 on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anyone who picks up "TIME" magazine this week and sees the 100 most influential people will see two Republicans in that magazine. They'll see Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Is that helpful, hurtful, indifferent?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was that the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people? I'm not sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBEIDALLAH: Sexist. Horrible. Horrible. Terrible.

TAPPER: Mitt Romney making a joke there, was it the most beautiful people or the most influential, I'm not sure. He was criticized at the time by some for suggesting that Governor Palin should be on a most beautiful. Look, I can't interpret that joke. I don't even know what he was trying to say.

NAVARRO: Mitt Romney's jokes were never lent themselves to interpretation.

TAPPER: I guess, Maria, the question for you is, I understand that you also bring to this a question about what are the politics of the person making the remark.

CARDONA: Correct.

TAPPER: And if the person is in your view, pro-woman, in your view, then you --

CARDONA: He gets a little more leeway.

OBEIDALLAH: Politicians can't say anything.

TAPPER: So, is that really fair?

CARDONA: I do think it's fair, Jake, because you have to look, again, context is everything.

But I'll say what Mitt Romney just said really doesn't bother me. I mean, I agree with Ana that he was never the best joke teller out there at all, but you know what, what he said I think was just completely innocent and a lot of people would say that Sarah Palin is very attractive. I think she's very attractive. There's nothing wrong with that. I do agree with Ana that we are living in a hypersensitive, completely over the top, politically correct society and President Obama does need to think about that, and that is why he apologized. There happen to be some liberal women who cringed when he said that and some did take offense which is why it was right that he apologized. But I still believe it's completely overblown.

OBEIDALLAH: What if the attorney general said President Obama's my friend and he's the best-looking president in history of this country? Would anyone be offended by that? I certainly would not. I would love compliments.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: She didn't say it because she knew it was inappropriate.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I just want -- we have to take a closer. I just want to tell you, one time I went to a dinner and Governor Jennifer Granholm was there and she gave a speech. It was a joking speech. She said that Governor Palin ruined things for her demographic, hot governors. And I thought that was a funny comment but it was at herself.

In any case, thank you so much, all of you, for being with us tonight.

OUTFRONT next fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg tells Erin about her new project.

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TAPPER: Defying the gender trap. For many women outside the U.S., danger lurks at every turn. One in three women in her lifetime will be beaten, raped or abused. It's a stunning statistic.

The women who rise above these challenges deserve our attention and appreciation and tonight, fashion designer Dianne Von Furstenberg is honoring two such heroes, Andeisha Farid and Sunitha Krishnan, at the fourth annual DVF Awards, Erin spoke with them earlier this week.

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ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT ANCHOR (voice-over): Be the woman you want to be. That has been Diane von Furstenberg's mantra from the moment she shook up the fashion world with her wrap dress in 1974. Working women had been wearing boxy suits and basically trying to look like men, but the wrap dress changed everything, becoming a feminine symbol of power and independence for generations of women.

Decades later, von Furstenberg is empowering women in a totally different way, the DVF Awards. Von Furstenberg created the DVF awards three years ago to recognize strong and courageous women around the world. DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, FASHION DESIGNER: I really got to meet all these incredible women, you know, who not only have the strength to fight and the courage to survive, but then they have the leadership to inspire.

BURNETT: Some of the women are famous, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: This is some of the most important work being done anywhere in the world.

BURNETT: And some of the women are simply inspiring.

Sunitha Krishnan is one of those women. At the age of 15, she was raped in India by eight men. She was abandoned on railroad tracks, left to die. Her intestines found outside her body.

SUNITHA KRISHNAN, CHIEF FUNCTIONARY, PRAJWALA: One of the things I faced as a survivor of gang rape myself was the absolute ostracizing and stigma. It is not very correct to depend on others for emotional support. You need to see the power inside you.

BURNETT: Now, Sunitha helps other women who have gone through unspeakable tragedies. She's rescued more than 4,600 women and children from sex trafficking brothels and has made it her life's work to help women and young girls who are abused.

Andeisha Farid is also remarkable. As a child she moved from one refugee camp to another. She couldn't even find water, all outside her home country of Afghanistan. She now works with children in Afghanistan and Pakistan whose lives have been torn apart by never- ending war. In Afghanistan alone, more than 600,000 children sleep on the streets and Andeisha is trying to help as many as she can, providing shelter and most important, giving them an education.

ANDEISHA FARID, FOUNDER, AFCECO: The $50,000 we will receive from the DVF award, that will go directly to the girls' education, we will send more girls to school this year, so it continues their education to graduate from high school and go to university.

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TAPPER: And "A.C. 360" starts right now.