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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

"We Have To Get Beyond Being Anti-Obama"; The Quack Pack Is Back; A-Rod Hires "Most Hates Lawyer In NYC"; IOC To Gay Winter Olympians: Ice Your Anger; '72 Dolphins Finally Invited To White House

Aired August 14, 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: In our Money Lead -- do you have a favorite Coca-Cola slogan? The first one from 1886 was quick and to the point, "Drink Coca-Cola." They got off track in the '20s and '30s with lines like "Pure as sunlight', and "Ice cold sunshine". Who want to know what sunshine tastes like? And why would it be cold?

But since then, Coke has turned their successful product and marketing into a worldwide brand, a behemoth. Their latest ad isn't about how refreshing Coke tastes, but defending the safety of their product and raising questions like what is aspartame?

Did I pronounce that correctly, Erin McPike? She's here to explain why did Coke do this ad?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, that's not the way it's pronounced.

TAPPER: How is it pronounced?

MCPIKE: Aspertame.

TAPPER: Aspertame. I'm sorry.

MCPIKE: And Coke would actually say that this has been going on often. And I talked to some of the people involved in this advertising push today, and they said they've never really talked about aspartame before -- at least when responding to it, they will. But it's only when they're forced to. And this is their first team to get really proactive about this before it becomes a bigger problem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: Coca-Cola may not be smiling right now.

SINGER: Have a Coke and a smile.

MCPIKE: The iconic American soda company is on the defensive with a new ad campaign launching today to assure consumers that diet soda with artificial sweeteners like aspartame is safe.

DAN BAUM, DBC PR+NEW MEDIA: Here you have perhaps the most epic brand in the world, but they have a problem. Their product is now known as unhealthy. MCPIKE: Sales are down across the board as consumers seek alternatives to sugary drinks. Even diet drinks are taking a hit.

BAUM: Coke is getting squeezed from two different sides right now. One is from a public relations battle, where you have a public that's saying, hey, soda is not healthy. And the other competitors -- start- ups as well as established brands -- are innovating and introducing new soft drinks every single day.

MCPIKE: So they're working on a little brand management, a brand built in part by decades of memorable ads.

BAUM: I think you can choose many different ads, from "Have a Coke and smile" to Mean Joe Green.

(SINGING)

MCPIKE: You've seen plenty of polar bears. More recently this vivid chase across the desert sand. When Coke's arch rival Pepsi came on strong in the '80s, well, you remember what happened.

BILL COSBY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Attention Pepsi drinkers.

MCPIKE: New Coke, a flop that embarrassed the longtime leader and ceded some ground to the competition. Now, one of the world's most recognizable brands is being threatened again.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: If we are serious about fighting obesity, we have to be honest about what causes it.

MCPIKE: It's not just the sugar. It's the war on super-sizing and Big Gulps. And now, studies showing diet drinks don't help people lose weight and may just make you crave sugar.

So Coke's taking charge, telling CNN, "We created this print ad to address their concerns and to reassure them that these are safe, quality ingredients that people can feel good about."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: Now, Coke has tried a number of marketing measures to get ahead of some of the negative commentary, like this, the mini-cans. Now, this has the calorie count on the front of it, 90 calories. "Open a little happiness" was their advertising push for that one.

TAPPER: And this is Coca-Cola, not diet Coke.

MCPIKE: That's Coca-Cola. Ninety calories right here. So have a Coke and smile, J.T.

TAPPER: No, thank you, not a big drinker. Appreciate it, though, Erin McPike.

So, is this latest ad for Coke a smart move? And how do people feel about the Coca-Cola brand today? Let's bring in Barbara Lippert. She's the media critic for mediapost.com and an expert on advertising. Barbara, thanks for being here. Let's put up this ad again. You see a mother and daughter sharing a Coke with the headline, "Quality products you can always feel good about," and then it's the sort of mini article explaining how artificial sweeteners like aspartame are safe. Would you call this an effective ad?

BARBARA LIPPERT, MEDIA CRITIC, MEDIAPOST.COM: Well, it's aspartame. No --

TAPPER: Aspertame! I keeping messing it up. I'm sorry.

LIPPERT: But aren't there times in your life when you just want to get down with your mom and get real about aspartame?

(LAUGHTER)

LIPPERT: I mean, this ad is just so awkward-looking. You saw all the fantastic productions they've had over the years. Really wonderful advertising that's sparked Americans' imaginations and told great stories about refreshment and happiness.

So, this looks like something you get in health class in eighth grade that was covering up something they didn't want to talk about, like menstruation or something. It looks like it's more for asbestos than Coke.

(LAUGHTER)

LIPPERT: And they're getting ahead - they're managing a crisis I didn't know they were having. I mean, I know they were lobbying against Bloomberg's rule about the two-liter stuff, but nobody was mentioning aspartame. And nobody even knows how to pronounce it. So, why - I think if you were a Diet Coke drinker, you weren't worried about it. If you were worried about it, this ad is not going to persuade you.

So, I just can't -

TAPPER: It's confounding, I agree.

LIPPERT: They're the new tobacco. Here they are policing themselves ahead of something, I don't know what.

TAPPER: But this is also what's confounding about it, Barbara. It's just a print ad, and it's only being published in Atlanta and Chicago. So, is this like a trial balloon? They want to see what the reaction is?

LIPPERT: Yes, it's really more of a political ad, I guess, and it's -- you know, there could be so many reasons they're doing it. Maybe some bottlers complained, who knows what's going on in distribution, they're global.

Look, Coca-Cola is not a big evil empire. It's just a giant, American global brand, and they care about the health of their bottom line and their stock price. So -- they don't particularly care about the health of what's going in, but if they think people want them to look authentic and transparent, they will. But this was a real hand-fisted way to do it.

TAPPER: The Coca-Cola brand, though, it's American as apple pie. But do you think that people feel any differently today than they did about it 40 or 50 years ago?

LIPPERT: I do. And Coca-Cola has been very smart. I mean, they have made their portfolio huge. They have over 650 different brands, and 180 of them are low or no calories, so they have certainly gone into the sports drinks and the waters and the vitamin waters and the teas. They have all that, but they still have to keep this brand alive.

TAPPER: All right. Barbara Lipper, thank you so much.

LIPPER: Thank you.

TAPPER: So profits took a dip, and everybody started asking if Apple's best days were behind it? Maybe those questions were a touch hasty. Shares rose above the $500 mark today, which Apple hasn't hit since January.

Much of the credit is going to billionaire hedge fund manager Carl Icahn. He shared this on Twitter yesterday. Quote: "We currently have a large position in Apple. We believe the company to be extremely undervalued. Spoke to Tim Cook today. More to come," unquote. He followed that up today with this: "Glad to know one of my tweets can be worth $17 billion. You're welcome, Apple!" Apple stock still has a ways to go to have it reaches the all-time peak price, just over $700 per share.

Coming up on THE LEAD, Hillary Clinton is getting a new office. Could it become the nerve center of her potential 2016 bid?

And he'd had the coolest hair in Washington since Abe Lincoln. Is this "Duck Dynasty" star really considering a run for Congress? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now it's time for The Politics Lead. She's already joined the family business, what does Hillary Clinton's bigger role in the newly named Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation mean for her possible political ambitions? According to "The New York Times," potentially a lot. The paper is reporting that the former secretary of state and her staff are moving into the foundation's headquarters in Manhattan at the sprawling philanthropic organization known for its noble ambitions, powerful corporate connections and rollercoaster finances, quote, "will become the nerve center of Hillary Rodham Cliton's increasingly public life.

The foundation could also serve as a base for her to hone in on issues and to build up a stable of trusted staff who could form the core of a political campaign." Unquote. But the Times and also Politico, which broke the story originally raised many questions about how efficiency - how efficiently the foundation is being run. And several ethical concerns.

Here to talk about all of it, former adviser to Clinton's 2008 run, Tracy Sefl, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and former senior economic adviser to John McCain Carly Fiorina, and White House correspondent for Yahoo! News, Olivier Knox.

So, Tracy, the paper lays it out this way. Quote, "For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion deficits for several years, despite vast amount of money flowing in."

This has got to be a concern for the Clintons that there are these fairly negative stories in the Times and Politico about the foundation that Secretary Clinton is now becoming part of.

TRACY SEFL, DEMOCRATIC COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Well, with the renaming of the foundation and the other changes that are taking place, it's a positive sign for what happens moving forward. That's really what --

TAPPER: So she's not necessarily associated with the chaos of the past?

SEFL: I think when you look at what the foundation is doing, they have five major program areas, eight massive initiatives, they're working all over the world with several hundred people on staff. It's important that any organization like that be carefully audited, be closely governed. And that's exactly what they're going to be doing. I commend them for taking those steps.

TAPPER: Carly, surely, there are potential problems here, I mean, for Secretary Clinton, if she chooses to run?

CARLY FIORINA, FORMER CEO OF HEWLETT-PACKARD: Sure there are, but I think on balance it's a positive thing, actually. It's certainly been a positive thing for President Clinton. Obviously, there are some management issues there that will have to be dealt with. But the Clinton Global Initiative does a lot of good work around the world.

TAPPER: Amazing work. Absolutely, of course.

FIORINA: I do think the vulnerabilities will be with the corporate partnerships, sadly. Corporations are doing great work with CGI, but I think she may bet asked about some of those relationships as she goes forward.

TAPPER: And what exactly would those questions be to a pesky reporter with Yahoo! who just happens to be covering her on the campaign trail and want to know about these corporate partnerships and her work with the Clinton Global Initiative? OLIVIER KNOX, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Sure. Where does the foundation end and the back-and-forth trading of influence begin? It seems like they're cleaning house, definitely. Now, are they cleaning house to burnish Bill Clinton's reputation and legacy, or are they creating a kind of ideas lab for a possible Hillary 2016 run? I think it's a little bit early to say. But it certainly looks like they're cleaning house completely.

TAPPER: We should note, as has been noted about by Carly, the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation do lots of amazing work in terms of trying to help with the health of people around the globe, and we don't mean to take away from that. And their altruistic work --

SEFL: And also they'll be moving into new offices in the Time Life building. That means hundreds of journalists will be there, too.

TAPPER: Lucky them!

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: I want to go to another topic. Newt Gingrich is our co-host for CNN's CROSSFIRE, which is relaunching next month. He chided his own party today, telling RNC chairman Reince Priebus at a meeting in Boston, quote, "We have to get beyond being anti-Obama and we have to reconvince people that you can have hope in America." He also did not rule out a 2016 bid for the White House.

Carly, is he right? Does the GOP need to bring more ideas to the table? The criticism from Gingrich and others, is it's too much anti- Obama and not enough here is our proposal for health care?

FIORINA: Well, first, I would say this is not exactly a new point that Newt is making. Secondly, I also have publicly said that, for example, the Republicans have missed an opportunity to provide an alternative to Obamacare instead of just saying we want to repeal it.

But I do think that one of the vulnerabilities that Newt has is he tends to major on being the skunk at the picnic and so one would wonder why he hasn't perhaps proposed an alternative to Obamacare. He's had a lot of time to do it.

TAPPER: Tracy?

TRACY SEFL, FORMER ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Well, the comparison that I was thinking about, a few years into the George W. Bush administration, Democrats and other like-minded people founded the Center for American Progress, a place to incubate ideas and policy solutions and action. What are the Republicans doing besides giving speeches and writing books?

TAPPER: Olivier, why aren't the Republicans coming forward with alternative health care plans, the way that Gingrich and others and Ms. Fiorina proposed?

KNOX: Well, first of all, I think this is the advice of the man who won the speakership after the 1994 elections when the Republicans had the contract with America, and a person who lost the speakership in '98, when the Republicans basically were the "let's impeach Clinton" party. So I think the personal background here is very important.

Republicans will tell you that they absolutely have been proposing kind of proposals throughout the debate over Obamacare. They get very testy when they say you're talking about death panels and not about proposing your own thing. But that effort has lagged a bit recently and the party especially in the House has moved much more to a repeal without the replace.

TAPPER: Of course, there has been legislation here and there. But is there one cohesive health care bill that Republicans in the House, forget the Senate, Republicans in the House are behind?

KNOX: There's one embryonic bill that basically keeps all the good stuff from Obamacare and its slightly controversial stuff, but it's not clear that that has a future, either.

TAPPER: All right, Carly, Tracy and Olivier, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Remember CNN's "CROSSFIRE" returns to CNN, September 16th at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Coming, waterfowl of the Potomac beware. This "Duck Dynasty" star is not ruling out a run for Congress.

And later, can Obama fix this Nixon diss? We'll explain what we're talking about after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. Now it's time for the Pop Culture Lead. Tonight is the premiere of season 4 of A & E's "Duck Dynasty," a show enjoying success that has some entertainment executives and critics in New York City and Los Angeles scratching their heads and the programmers of A & E laughing all the way to the bank.

Last season's finale of the reality show featuring the Robertsons, Phil, Kaye, Willie, Jeff, Uncle Psy and the gang, they have shaggy beards and flowing witticisms. That show was the most watched show in the cable network's history with ratings that any broadcast network executive would covet, meaning millions of dollars for A & E. Break out your camouflage gear. It's time to go hunting for an explanation for the "Duck Dynasty" phenomenon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say cheese, everybody.

TAPPER (voice-over): Come listen to my story about the Robertsons clan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My idea of happiness is killing things. TAPPER: Multimillionaires Commander Duckcall businessmen. They star in a reality show on the channel A&E by kind of mocking pro-retaliates on behalf of (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do marry a yuppie girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a low tech man in a high tech world.

TAPPER: "Duck Dynasty" that is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody happy, happy, happy.

TAPPER: Fifty years ago, the Beverly Hill Billies endeared America to the idea of a back country clan sticking to their roots after striking it rich. But the Clampetts could never have imagined a dynasty like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you shooting at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water snakes.

TAPPER: "Duck Dynasty" broke records last season, with nearly 10 million viewers tuning in for the finale. By the way, that's more than 700 times the population of the family's hometown of West Monroe, Louisiana.

BRIAN LOWRY, TV CRITIC, VARIETY: The show is a very effective sitcom. They managed to create a patina of authenticity around a show that is very carefully shaped into a very familiar sitcom format.

TAPPER: And unlike the Clampetts, not only are the Robertsons real people, but they still live in their hometown. One official tour invites visitors to duck into the city of Monroe and follow the beards. Now the famously unkempt facial hair has become a star of its own. I even felt bare when I met Willie Robertson at the White House Correspondents Dinner this year.

Luckily the show is so popular, there's an app for that, the "Duck Dynasty" Beard Booth. There is a dark side to this bayou business. Many in Hollywood's more traditional scripted TV comedies and drama see "Duck Dynasty" as a threat and an example of how TV entertainment is being dumped down to the lowest common denominator.

LOWRY: What we're seeing is there are all kinds of viewers watching some of these shows for different reasons. Some watch them because they relate to the characters, and some people watch it to feel superior to the characters. The truth is for A & E's purposes, it doesn't matter why they watch, just as long as they keep doing it.

TAPPER: Fans however argue it's not the beards or the camouflage that make the show attractive to its core audience. It's the Clampett style clean humor and values.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to learn about a hard day's work. It's a new concept for y'all. WILL ROBERTSON, "DUCK DYNASTY": You don't feel bad watching it. It's about family values and pulls people together. That's what people tell me, and it's funny.

TAPPER: So wholesome family man of faith from the south with rock star popularity, you say? Cue political party smelling a winner. And yes, the Twitter-verse is echoing with calls for the Duck commander CEO to fill the congressional seat being left vacant this year by Louisiana Representative Rodney Alexander.

ROBERTSON: I'm kind of busy right now.

TAPPER: But in his appearance on Fox News Tuesday, Willie Robertson did not seem all that interested --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly what we need to take the duck men in power to the next level.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And now "Deadline Hollywood" reports that the Robertson clan has successfully negotiated a 400 percent to 500 percent raise for this season, earning more than $200,000 an episode, though of course, that will be divided up among the nine adults and 11 children who comprise the family.

Coming up, he has already lost the love of most baseball fans, now A- Rod is getting slam for a reported new addition to his legal team. That's next in our Sports Lead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Sports Lead. The "New York Post," once called him the devil's advocate. That's Attorney Joe Tacopina. He is the man who's defended accused rapists, cop killers, domestic abusers and Natalie Holloway suspect Joran Vandersloot. Now according to "New York Post," he is defending public enemy number one in Major League Baseball, I'm referring, of course, to A-Rod.

Alex Rodriguez has reportedly added the big time criminal lawyer to his defense team as he appeals his 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball over his ties with CD Florida drug clinic that supplied performance enhancing drugs.

Don't ask/don't tell, you thought it was dead, but apparently it's alive and well, and living at the International Olympic Committee. Officials are telling gay athletes to basically stay in the closet during the Winter Games in Russia and to keep quiet about Russia's anti-gay law. They say the games are no place for political statements.

Any Olympian who wears a rainbow flag, pin or speaks out against the oppressive law could get punished by the IOC, and yes, they could get thrown in jail, too. The law bans what it calls, quote, "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors." They are the only undefeated team in NFL history and they never miss an opportunity to remind you of that. Now they are finally going to the White House. President Obama will host the 1972 Dolphins next week more than 40 years after they went a perfect 17-0. The Dolphins did not get to go to the White House after their perfect season because Nixon was jowls deep in the Watergate scandal at that time.

That's it for me. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you now over to Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching THE LEAD.