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Weiner News Conference At 5 P.M. ET; Who Does The Royal Baby Look Like?

Aired July 23, 2013 - 16:30   ET


ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, what's your bet?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I like Arthur. Or, you know, my off-beat bet is Irving.

MCPIKE: Irving?

BERMAN: King Irving. He'd be the first, right? King Irving the First.

MCPIKE: I'm still taking Spencer as the middle name. But I haven't placed any money on it. So we've got to do that after the show.

BERMAN: Diana's maiden name. I think it would be nice if there were a little twist. George, Edward, James, a little boring to me.

MCPIKE: Here's one other bet that I like. People are saying it's 1,000 to 1 that he'll play premier league football.

BERMAN: Very good. Like to see that. Beckham would be so pleased. Erin McPike, thank you so much. Great to see you here.

So only in London can a baby bump lead to a tourism bump. Some travel agents say they saw an uptick in royal baby fever leading up to the final weeks of Kate's pregnancy. But now that the future king has arrived, the city's top tourist attractions are getting ready to deliver, finally. Check this tweet out sent out by the tourism Web site VisitBritain. It invites people to celebrate the birth of the royal baby by checking out some of Will and Kate's favorite hangouts. And that's not all. Hotels in London are hosting special royal baby- themed tea parties. That sounds like a blast. There's a luxury suite at the Grosner (ph) Hotel which has been transformed into a royal palace nursery.

And if you fly Virgin Atlantic and happen to be the third in line for your flight, you get the royal treatment at the airline's upper class clubhouse. They are so cheeky at Virgin.

Joining us now to talk about all this is Catherine Rampell, an economics reporter for "The New York Times." And Catherine, you say the tourism impact itself might be minimal, but there are other ways the economy there can really capitalize after all this baby hysteria.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, the most likely culprit in this situation would probably be retail sales. You have a lot of commemorative bibs and shot glasses and T-shirts and things like that that people might be more likely to spend their money on. There is some risk that's spending that just won't happen elsewhere, but at least those types of stores could see a little bump in activity.

BERMAN: In the U.S., we're used to these ad campaigns for states. New York's got Andrew Cuomo. You see the states - you know, Michigan has Jeff Daniels. This has been like a big giant advertisement for the U.K. that I think has got to top all others. You have Will and Kate, you have a baby. Does this help them in that sense?

RAMPELL: Yes. I mean, you were talking about tourism earlier, and there's probably some little lift right now. Probably not the same kind of lift that you might have seen around the time of the royal wedding, when there was a lot more formal pageantry in the streets and particular events for people to go to. So I don't know if we'll see something near term. But this is free advertising for London, for England. The next time people are planning a vacation, maybe those places will be top of mind when they're thinking of where to go. Hey, that looks like a fun place to be. People are celebrating in the streets, I want to be part of that fun, even if it's six months from now or something along those lines.

BERMAN: What about down size? Any productivity drops, people being glued to their televisions or following Twitter all days the past few days?

RAMPELL: That's very possible. Certainly every year in the United States when we have March Madness, I get bombarded with e-mails from different analysts saying organ, oh, productivity is going to be down because people are glued to their TVs and they're too fixated on what's happening in basketball, they're not getting their work done. You could see something similar happen in the U.K. in terms of maybe people toasting to the royal baby during the day. If that happens, I'm not sure it's going to have any measurable impact on GDP.

But on the other hand, one advantage in terms of economic activity going for the country this time around as opposed to during the royal wedding and during the Diamond Jubilee is that people didn't is a day off from work. So in those previous celebrations, people actually didn't go to the office, they didn't get their work done, that can actually weigh on the economy. This time around, people are at work and they're presumably still buying some of those commemorative items. So if anything, there might be a positive impact.

BERMAN: They're at work, just not exactly doing their jobs at work.

RAMPELL: Right. Well -

BERMAN: Different kind of lack of productivity.


BERMAN: Catherine Rampell, thank you so much. Great to see you there.

RAMPELL: Thank you. BERMAN: This is a tough transition, but I'll just do it. Coming up, our Politics Lead. Anthony Weiner is the gift that keeps on giving to late-night comedians. He told us that more dirt might come out about him, and boy, did it ever come out today. He has called a press conference. What is he going to say?

And a different transition. Does he have Kate's eyes, William's nose, Diana's smile, Charles' ears? Who does Baby Cambridge look like most?


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. The Politics Lead. By day, a hard- working New York Democrat; by night, well, let's just call him Carlos Danger. That's allegedly the sexting nom de plume of New York mayoral candidate and Internet aficionado, Anthony Weiner. The Web site The Dirty just published screen grabs of what they allege are sexually explicit online chats with a woman who is absolutely, positively not Anthony Weiner's wife. And this is the kicker. According to the Web site, the conversations took place after Weiner's spectacular fall from grace back in 2011.

CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger join me now. Dana, let's start with you. The timeline is crucial, and also the words that Anthony Weiner is using now to explain it. Absolutely crucial.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very crucial, and he's parsing them very, very carefully. Let's just start with the big thing, and that is that he is admitting that some sexually explicit exchanges that were posted on the Internet today are true. In fact, he is actually going to have a press conference in about 20 minutes to discuss this, we assume, and some other things. But that is really the key issue.

Of course, he resigned from Congress in June of 2011, a little more than two years ago after admitting he sent lewd pictures to himself to women on Twitter and elsewhere. When he launched his race for mayor, which he's engaged in right now, he warned that some pictures and texts may still come out, and that's exactly what's happened. But the key question that, John, you just alluded to is - could really make or break his mayoral race, not to mention his marriage -- is whether he engaged in this behavior after he left Congress when he vowed to be a changed man.

Now the Web site, as we mentioned, is called Dirty (sic). It claims the exchanges which include texts and photos did take place after he left Congress, July of 2012, about a year ago. But it's important to note that we at CNN have not independently verified that. We've put multiple calls and e-mails into Weiner's campaign to ask that question. They went unanswered.

But he did issue a lengthy statement, which we've been mentioning. It's apologetic but very, very cryptic, especially on the issue of timing. Let's just read it. This is what he said today. "I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have. As I have said in the past, these things that I did wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress." This is key. He said "extended past my resignation from Congress." We don't know exactly what that means exactly. "While some things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me. I have apologized to Huma" his wife, "and am grateful that he has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness. I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption that this has caused. As my wife and I have said, we are focused and moving forward."

Now John, what is kind of eerily familiar is that this is how his congressional office handled the scandal two years ago. They put out a very carefully worded statement, and didn't answer questions about the questions that the statement raised, like the timing of this, which is very important.

BERMAN: He says some things are true, some things are not. He says his problems with his wife extended past the time he resigned in Congress. You know, I know categorical denials. This is not a categorical denial. Can he survive this, Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we'll find out pretty soon. Look, I think this is a problem. He's asked for a second chance from the voters. He said that in "The New York Times" piece not too long ago before he announced his candidacy, "I want a second chance." Voters very often are willing to give you a second chance, but they don't want to give you a second second chance. And they don't like when you're playing with them, when you're fooling with them, when you're parsing words.

I mean, the presumption was that once he resigned from the Congress, he acknowledged he had a problem and that he went to rehab and that he was working on it. If this person is telling the truth, these texts occurred almost a year after he left the Congress. So, the timeline could not be more important. And that's what we have to hear from Anthony Weiner.

BASH: Yes. And remember, if you look at what's going on in the mayor's race, he's doing really well, depending on what poll you read.

BORGER: He's down.

BASH: He's down a little bit, but considering where he came from just two years ago, he's doing remarkably well. Maybe some of that is name I.D. --

BERMAN: Competitive, at least. There's a "New York Times" magazine profile, a big one that he did. And this is what he said about redemption in it. He said, "I want to ask people to give me a second chance. I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down and with people who put faith in me and who wanted to support. I think to some degree, I do want to say to them, give me another chance." That's the second chance you're talking about.

BORGER: Right. He's going to have to ask again today for another one. And that's -- that's a problem. You know, voters are very forgiving. Talk about political redemption. Eliot Spitzer is asking for political redemption, by the way, in New York also. And I think this is going to be very difficult for Weiner to explain.

The key to this, of course, is his wife. How does Huma Abedin react, his wife? Is she standing by him? Is this -- are these things she knew about and forgave him for?

BERMAN: Is this the first time she's heard about this or not? Because the last time around, she didn't know.

BASH: She didn't know. And we should also, for people who don't know, Huma Abedin is not just Anthony Weiner's wife. She is somebody who's very politically savvy. She is Hillary Clinton's -- probably her most important confidante and adviser and has been for a long time. Still is, even after leaving office.

BERMAN: I should say this press conference is coming up. And having gone through this once with Anthony Weiner in the past, those are extremely, colorful things to watch. So this should be very interesting coming up in an hour. Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, thank you so much.

And as we should say, that news coverage coming up at the top of the hour. We will be covering that for you when it begins.

Meanwhile, coming up on THE LEAD right now, Anthony Weiner warned us we could see more naughty texts and pics. Now that they're here, what impact will they have on the comeback bid? What does it mean for politics in New York and around the country?

Plus - transition -- the royal baby cooing continues. We know he has hair like his father's, but does the royal baby's resemblance to Prince William end there? We're going to examine first baby photos to see if its mother or dad is winning the genetic battle. Stay with us.


BERMAN: The politics lead. When your name is Anthony Weiner, why would you even need a dirty synonym for an online sex chat? Weiner is admitting that new explicit online chats have surfaced right in the middle of his bid to become New York City's next mayor. Anthony Weiner will be speaking to the press at the top of the hour. We will bring that to you. We will follow every second of it the minute it happens.

In the meantime, let's bring in our panel to talk about this, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, Cornell Belcher, national editor of the "Cook Political Report," and my friend, Amy Walter, and CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Kevin Madden.

Kevin, let me start with you. As someone who has worked with a lot of politicians, we've all seen our share of scandals. Can Anthony Weiner survive this? What is the key to surviving this if that's what he wants to do? KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't believe he can survive this. I always believed Christine Quinn stood a better chance of eventually becoming the next Democratic nominee for mayor. But Weiner's path to winning this election was making the election not about his transgressions, but instead about the people of New York and what he could do to help their lives. And this in an incredible way, an extraordinary way complicates that. He can never have that conversation now. This is no longer a campaign. This is a public therapy session and that is not good for Anthony Weiner or the voters.

BERMAN: He did say, Amy, that more texts and pictures would come out. He tried to inoculate himself from this, but somehow with the timeline here, this becomes different.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": And Kevin is exactly right. It now becomes a story about him. He becomes more of a punch line than he already was, as does most of New York City. Sorry about that, New York City voter. But that's really going to be the number one question at this press conference is, first of all, was this after you had come and resigned and supposedly had all these discussions with your wife and is it still happening and how do we know if it's not? Do we trust you?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, as someone who has been around politics a long time and also someone who was part time did work for Mayor Barry back in the day, I think you're right, he has a high hurdle to get over because it's just creepy. However, the idea of redemption is big. We saw that with Sanford down in South Carolina. I wouldn't be surprised if he does stay in the race and he does make a run at it. I think his hurdle for getting there is tougher now, but it also has a lot to do with the weakness of the field or the strength of that field. Don't count him out quite yet I would say.

WALTER: The weakness is definitely there, the weakness of the field. But just how many shots at redemption do you get? I think voters give you one shot at redemption.

MADDEN: It's not new information either. It's creepy but we've been creeped out before by this information.

BERMAN: The key is the timeline. If it fits into that period before he asked for redemption, maybe he'll get the pass. If it happened after --

MADDEN: I don't believe that's the case now. I think the fact is that there's a voter out there, the persuadable voter that Anthony Weiner needed to win here is no longer interested in Anthony Weiner's redemption. They're interested in their job, their health care, their city services and this opens up a huge opportunity for Christine Quinn and others that are in this race that are the top candidates to just -- to take those voters that Anthony Weiner once have a chance at --

BERMAN: And Cornell, you're an expert on this, what will they do over the next few days as other candidates just to into hiding. BELCHER: Well, the first things you want to do is when your opponent is imploding is not get in the way of your opponent imploding. So I think they're going to step back and let him implode. We will see over the next couple of days -- once we thought he was one of the most gifted politicians in New York. We're going to find out over the next couple of days discussed how gifted he is.

MADDEN: Cornell is right, if your opponent is going to jump off a cliff, do not push him.

BERMAN: Let me ask you about another political reclamation project from scandal in New York City, Eliot Spitzer. What does Eliot Spitzer do right now?

WALTER: Well, he's doing the classic. When you're unpopular, make something else even less popular than you are, right. You've seen his new ad where he talks about I did bad things, I apologize. But what's even worse, Wall Street. You hate them more than you hate me so I'm just going to focus on that.

BERMAN: Let's take a look at that because it is very interesting. We have a clip.


ELIOT SPITZER: Look, I failed big time. I hurt a lot of people. When you dig yourself a hole, you can either lie in it the rest of your life or do something positive.


BERMAN: It's not just about Eliot Spitzer now, it says so much more.

BELCHER: But I think it's a brilliant ad. He's contrite, he apologizes and immediately pivots to what do you hate more than -- or who has negatives higher than Spitzer right now? Probably even Weiner right now? Wall Street and these big corporations raking over people and he says I'm a tough guy, I've done it before, I'll do it again. I got to tell you I think that's a good ad.

MADDEN: I'm a partisan Republican and I thought it was a very effective ad. At first it opens up, it almost sounds like the otter speech from "Animal House," which is he blames everybody but himself. But he does the flip side of what Weiner did. At the end he makes it all about the voters. He makes it all about what he's going to do for them. In the end, it was a pretty effective ad.

BERMAN: All right, Kevin Madden and Cornell, thank you so much. Amy Walter, great to see you here. Note to our viewers, Anthony Weiner will be speaking to the press at the top of the hour. We will be monitoring that for you when it begins.

Coming up now on THE LEAD, the new prince might be stealing all the headlines, but a couple of other famous babies made their debut Monday as well. We'll tell you who they are and how they may be maybe not quite as famous. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper who will be so sorry he missed this next discussion. It is time for the most vital part of the royal baby story. We need to talk about who he looks like more, mom or dad. Let's bring back Victoria Arbiter. She's the CNN royal commentator and journalist and the daughter of Queen Elizabeth's former press secretary.

All right, Victoria, break it down for me. The hair, what can we tell about the hair color? Can we even tell what color it is and what it means?

VICTORIA ARBITER, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's kind of hard to get a really good look at it, but it looks like it's pretty fair, maybe as William and Harry's may have been when they were small. There's a lot of talk about whether it will be ginger because of the Spencer genes. I think Kate had light hair when she was small, too so 50/50 still.

BERMAN: Now that face, that slightly grumpy-ish face right there. Who do you think it looks more like, William or Kate?

ARBITER: Well, I guess the scrunched up face looks like William when he was a little boy and he was getting upset with the "Togrofers" as he used to call them.

BERMAN: How about Queen Elizabeth? Do you see any Queen Elizabeth in that face?

ARBITER: Yes. I do. I see a resemblance between 87-year-old with all due respect.

BERMAN: How about the ears? A lot of people are wondering will he have the ears of Prince Charles, any grandparent influence there?

ARBITER: I guess William is probably hoping not. William and Harry managed to avoid Charles' ears. John, you're getting me in so much trouble.

BERMAN: We'll end on a happy note. The baby really looked healthy, looked like the perfect baby and the parents looked astoundingly good for only having had a baby 24 hours ago, didn't they?

ARBITER: They really did. Any mother who can walk out of hospital after just having a ten-hour labor just yesterday and can look like that is really quite something. Yes, she had the benefit of her hairdresser. They looked so calm and happy, like they were enjoying the moment. There's no sense of the pressure of that deluge of press that is facing them opposite so job well done.

BERMAN: All right, Victoria Arbiter, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

ARBITER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Now time for our "Buried Lead," one story that isn't getting enough attention. Believe it or not, there were actually babies born into this world yesterday whose arrival were not quite as celebrated with bells and a 62-gun salute. One of them is Hollywood royalty. A publicist for Penelope Cruz confirms the actress gave birth to a baby daughter. She was with her husband, actor, Javier Bardem, at her side. Congratulations to them.

And a political powerhouse also welcomed a new addition to the family. Mitt Romney revealed that he is a grandfather again for the 22nd time. Tweeting this picture with a caption, our Josh and Gen also had a new baby boy yesterday and Romney and I feel totally blessed. Congratulations to the Romneys.

That is all for THE LEAD. I'm John Berman. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Hi, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much.