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NEW DAY

White House Seeks Congressional Approval on Military Strike against Syria; Flash Floods Hit Parts of U.S.; Liz Cheney Criticized by Sister for Stance on Gay Marriage; Elementary School Principal Arrested for Murder; Interview with Diana Nyad

Aired September 3, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, clear the air. Be decisive, be firm about why it matters to us as a nation to get Syria right.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Under pressure. Congressional leaders heading to the White House this morning while Secretaries Kerry and Hagel set to be grilled on Capitol Hill. We talked to two of the president's toughest critics live.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Never give up, Diana Nyad's inspiring journey, a dream 35 years in the making now fulfilled. The 112-mile swim few thought she could pull off. She joins us live this morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Blockbuster deal. Microsoft makes a huge purchase gobbling up the cell phone giant, Nokia. The smartphone wars now about to really heat up. What it means for you?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within seconds, the entire bottom floor was completely flooded. I could barely get out because the water was rushing in so fast.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom!

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, September 3rd, 7:00 in the East.

Coming up at this hour, President Obama is doing everything he can to sell Congress on a military strike against Syria. Two powerhouse Republicans could be key to getting it done and they're going to join us live, Senator John McCain, and next hour, an exclusive interview with South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham.

BOLDUAN: And then it's Cheney versus Cheney it appears. The former vice presidents' daughters engaging in a very public feud. We're going to tell you about the very personal issue that has Mary and Liz Cheney going toe-to-toe.

PEREIRA: And, you loved the book, now, they're making of a movie, wait until you hear who's playing the two leading roles in the new "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie. We might be giving a little sneak peek by the people on the screen. We'll talk about whether they're the right choice or not.

BOLDUAN: Everyone will have an opinion on that.

CUOMO: All right. We're going to begin with what's going on in Washington. The Obama administration making a full court press trying to convince lawmakers that a military strike on Syria over the use chemical weapons is necessary. Today, the president meets with House leaders John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi.

John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Now, Syrian president Bashar Assad is warning that a U.S. strike would launch a regional war sparking, quote, "chaos and extremism." And today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will give a briefing to the U.N. Security Council on the situation in Syria. A lot going on. We'll take to you Beirut in just a moment, but let's begin in Washington where Brianna Keilar is live at the White House. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning to you. And with two of Congress's most prominent hawks now at least tentatively on the side of President Obama, I'll tell you, White House officials I've spoken with feel positively about the prospects of hammering out an agreement with Congress that would allow a military strike on Syria. They do admit, though, that there's still a lot of convincing to do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Two key Republicans voicing new optimism about President Obama's plans in Syria after a meeting in the Oval Office. Senator John McCain, the president's former rival, now a key ally in the fight to get Congress on board for military action.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We want to work to make that resolution something a majority of the members of both houses can support.

KEILAR: But it's not going to be an easy road.

MCCAIN: We still have significant concerns.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We don't want endless war. KEILAR: Congress has key demands -- a limited strike and no boots on the ground. The White House will continue to make the case today, behind closed doors with two briefings and in public. Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and President Obama hosting a new round of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers. House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and 12 other key members of Congress, the White House hoping to articulate a clear strategy to avoid a defeat on Capitol Hill.

REP. MICHAEL C. BURGESS, (R) TEXAS: Certainly the mood in the district I represent is do not do this.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D) VIRGINIA: I think we're going to need to take a good, hard look at the wording.

KEILAR: Some of them may soon be lobbied from a different direction. Russia, a friend of the Syrian government, says it will send some of its representatives to meet with members of Congress, and Russia is still questioning if chemical weapons were even used. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying there's nothing concrete, no names, and no proof.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: This weekend the White House sent a draft of a resolution to Congress that would authorize the use of force in Syria, but with Congress anticipated to make those changes, the White House or officials I'm speaking with say that is what they expected. One official said we didn't expect Congress to just rubber stamp this. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Brianna, thank you for starting us off this morning.

Let's move now to the region. Syrian president Bashar al Assad is warning that a regional war could break out if the U.S. launches an attack on his country. Assad telling a French newspaper that the Middle East is a powder keg. Let's go live now to CNN's Arwa Damon in Beirut for us this morning. Arwa, what else is Assad saying this morning?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is all coming out in a French newspaper. He also spoke directly to the French people, saying that there would be retaliation against French interests if they were involved in a missile strike.

When we speak about the broader geopolitics of the region, as you were saying, they're warning the Middle East is a powder keg. A missile launch or a strike against Syria would cause that to explode, potentially causing an all-out civil war in the region. But a lot of people will tell you that that is where we already are at this stage.

And while we have this intensifying rhetoric on all sides, the U.N. announcing today that 2 million Syrians are now refugees, another 4.25 million internally displaced. These are families. These are people who have lost their homes, and in many cases their loved ones, and even more cases their dignity as well. The U.N. and other organizations do not have the funding to be able to provide for them, host countries are unable to handle the influx.

And so while on the one hand the global community has failed to unite when it comes to dealing with Syria, there's really no justification for not being able to help those who are most vulnerable, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It makes you wonder what intervention would mean for the refugees. Arwa, thank you so much.

Coming up, we'll have much more coverage tackling every angle of the Syria issue. Just ahead Senator John McCain will be joining us, and later we'll talk exclusively with Senator Lindsey Graham, two key senators in this debate. And we're also going to hear from the hosts of "Crossfire," Van Jones and Newt Gingrich.

CUOMO: Let's turn to the wild weather. Mother Nature wrecking holiday plans for many people up and down the east coast. Labor Day storms caused flash flooding in several states and led to at least one death from a lightning strike. Indra Petersons following all that for us. Where do we go from here, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We had heavy rain yesterday. We saw about two inches in Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island, three inches of rain. Those are both records, and unfortunately when you get that much rain in a short period of time you always have a concern for flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My neighbor's door blew off the hinges and was blocking the door right here.

PETERSONS: For these New England residents Labor Day was anything but fun in the sun. In Cranston, Rhode Island, a fast moving flash flood flooded this entire neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within seconds the entire bottom floor was completely flooded. I could barely get out because the water was rushing in this fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water was this high at my patio door and started coming in like a river.

PETERSONS: Firefighters had to rescue at least 30 people by boat. Two separate apartment buildings were flooded by the water. The six- foot wall of water caused the floor of one unit to collapse into the basement. In south Florida a lightning strike killed one man and injured two others. Authorities say that the men tried to hide underneath the tractor trailer when it was hit by lightning.

JANET SUAREZ, TRIED TO HELP LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS: We went outside and all three were on the ground. One of them is deceased. According to rescue, he was taking his last gasp. There was nothing I could do. PETERSONS: In Philadelphia the downpour drenched shoppers' dinner plans. Water rescue units arrived at the scene of this BJ's wholesale club where flash flood waters had filled cars with a foot of water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my groceries in but the shopping cart started floating away. Right now my car won't start, it's dead. It was up to the seats because you can see in my coffee cup holder it's still full of water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are currently under a rain delay --

PETERSONS: The wet weather didn't wash away the spirits of tennis fans after a five-hour rain delay at the U.S. Open. And at Yankee stadium, die-hard fans huddled together to stay dry and wait out the rain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: There you can see the cold front responsible for this finally making its way offshore into the northeast, but unfortunately in the southeast once again it's expected to last day after day so all the way through Friday, still rain in that forecast there.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Indra. We'll talk more about that in the coming hours. Thank you very much.

Let's move to a little bit of cellphone news, very big news being made in the cellphone space, Microsoft getting into the game, kind of taking on Apple and Google. Zain Asher is here to break this down for us. Zain, Microsoft kind of getting into this fight, but what are they actually doing?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They desperately want to be more relevant in the mobile business. They only have four percent of the market share right now. And they don't just want to be considered as a software company. They want to be more than that. But also the most important thing here is how do they compete with Google and Apple, that is really the big question.

BOLDUAN: And in doing that they're purchasing part of Nokia.

ASHER: Exactly, for $7.2 billion. And the key question is, how do they compete? November offer better service, somehow more innovative products, possibly could be cheaper prices for consumers. I want to mention that one thing they have to be up against is people are very sort of brand loyal when it comes to their mobile phone.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point.

ASHER: It's like how do they get people to switch? You already have 50 percent of all Americans have smartphones, so they have to have a good excuse to want to switch.

BOLDUAN: Those people also want to pay less for their smartphones.

ASHER: Exactly. BOLDUAN: Competition could mean lower prices?

ASHER: People have more choice and it could even cheaper prices.

BOLDUAN: It could be, all right, cheaper prices is a good thing to talk about. Thank you so much, Zain.

CUOMO: Just one of the stories we're covering this morning. A lot of news at this hour. Let's get to Michaela for the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's begin with Egypt. We could see massive protests in Egypt today. A group known as the National Coalition for Legitimacy has called for a million people to take over the streets. They want ousted president Mohamed Morsi returned to powers. The demonstrations are two months since Morsi was removed from office in early July.

That huge wildfire that's been burning in and around Yosemite National Park for the past two week is now 70 percent contained. That blaze has consumed more than 368 square miles and is the fourth largest blaze in California's history. Fire crews getting a helping hand from Mother Nature on Monday with cooler temperatures and rain in some areas.

The White House may release new information about the scope of the government's electronic surveillance operations. This is an effort to prevent Google and Microsoft from releasing their own reports. But the companies are going ahead with a lawsuit for the right to reveal the information themselves. And new revelations that AT&T has a huge data base that collects billions of electronic details on telephone calls made by Americans. The "New York Times" says federal and local investigators can reportedly subpoena the information for use in investigations.

Dozens of injuries reported in eastern Japan after a tornado ripped through Koshigaya about 14 miles north of Tokyo. We're told the twister damaged or destroyed 110 homes, brought down utility poles, overturned cars. A warehouse was lifted off its foundation and sent flying into other buildings. Seven girls were injured when the roof was torn off a middle school gymnasium, shattering its windows.

Australian trick show artists have done it again, breaking their own record with a shot toss from 321 feet, five inches in Rotterdam. And don't think this is the first shot. It took them 90 minutes to pull it off. Kyle Neville nailed this bucket on his 62nd try, 62nd. So they sat there for 90 minutes over and over and over. They have confirmation from a local government official, and that information will be submitted for verification at Guinness World Records.

CUOMO: Was that off the glass?

BOLDUAN: No, I don't believe it was.

CUOMO: Was it a swish?

BOLDUAN: That's what it looked like. PEREIRA: The one they finally nailed was a swish.

CUOMO: I wonder if he called it.

BOLDUAN: Like a Babe Ruth moment.

PEREIRA: After 61 you're like, I'm not calling it. This is it.

CUOMO: You wind up on international news if you pull something like that off.

Another story for you this morning, a political family feud is brewing over same-sex marriage. One of Dick Cheney's daughters is lashing out at her own sister. Liz Cheney is running for a Senate seat in Wyoming. Now her younger sister is taking her to task, saying she is dead wrong about same-sex marriage. Let's bring in CNN's Athena Jones in Washington with the latest. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It's rare that you see a fight within a political family become so public, and the Cheney family has usually presented such a united front. Not now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: They're the daughters of one of the nation's most controversial political figures now engaged in a public feud. Liz Cheney's known as a vocal critic of President Obama.

LIZ CHENEY, U.S. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: He's launched a war on our religious freedom.

ASHER: Former vice president Dick Cheney's eldest daughter rocked the boat this summer by launching a primary challenge against Wyoming's senior senator Republican Mike Enzi. Now she's in a war of words with her own sister, Mary, who is openly lesbian. "I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage" said Liz Cheney Friday in a campaign statement. She was responding to what her advisers called a deceptive poll, asking voters if they were aware she supports abortion and promotes gay marriage. Over the weekend, Mary Cheney reportedly fired back on Facebook.

"For the record I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage. Freedom means freedom for everyone," wrote Cheney, who married her long-time partner last year and has two children.

The Enzi campaign has denied it was behind the poll that's causing the furor, but the daughter versus daughter episode puts their father back in the spotlight. He was at times reluctant to talk about same-sex marriage when he was vice president, but once out of office he said this.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JONES: Same-sex marriage is still a tricky issue for Republicans. While the majority of American supports same-sex marriage, only a minority of Republicans do. Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: It seems that tricky situation is playing out within one family. Thank you so much, we'll talk to you soon.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Senator John McCain live, he says a vote against U.S. military strikes in Syria would be catastrophic. But can the Republican hawk help the president convince Congress and the American people to take the next step?

CUOMO: And the woman who has become an inspiration to millions, Diana Nyad made history swimming without a cage between Cuba and Florida. You need the cage because of all the sharks. We'll talk to her live about her incredible feat next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A shocking arrest in California. A beloved elementary school principal suspected in the murder of her own husband. Leslie Chance is scheduled to be arraigned today after her husband was found dead this weekend. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Los Angeles taking a look at this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUAL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning, elementary school principal Leslie Chance, accused of murdering her husband, headed to court this afternoon. It is a crime shocking this community.

KEN CHICHESTER, KERN CO. ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDANT: It's very hard to believe. Several of the people I talked to their first response was they got the wrong person this time. It is out of character and very hard to believe.

MARQUEZ: Chance was arrested after her husband, Todd Chance, was found shot multiple times, his body dumped in an almond orchard, his car found in a residential area 20 miles away.

RAY PRUITT, KERN COUNTY SHERRIF'S OFFICE: We do believe she is the person who drove that vehicle to that neighborhood and left it in that neighborhood and walked away from the vehicle.

MARQUEZ: Leslie Chance was principal at Fairview Elementary for three years, and with the district since 1997. A murder charge the last thing parents, students, and colleagues would ever have guessed.

CHICHESTER: Well-liked as far as I know, no complaints, hard-working, pretty quiet, well-respected, professional.

MARQUEZ: With school just back in session last week, the school year starting off with tragedy and concern for parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a principal of school kids and to commit murder, now what are the kids going to thing? MARQUEZ: Officials insist the school is safe and are urging parents to talk to their kids about the serious allegations made against someone they know and trust.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Wow. All right, Miguel, thanks so much for bringing us that story.

CUOMO: We'll take a quick break here on NEW DAY. When we come back senator John McCain says a vote against U.S. military strikes in Syria would be catastrophic, but can the Republican help convince Congress to take the next step? He's going to join us live and make his case.

BOLDUAN: Also joining us live is Diana Nyad, she is in the record books as the first person to swim without a cage between Cuba and Florida. We'll talk with her about her amazing accomplishment coming up.

CUOMO: Looking good.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Diana Nyad has just entered the history books. The 64-year-old become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without any protective cage. It was her fifth and we'll see probably final attempt, and it took her 53 hours to do it. Diana Nyad thankfully is here live in the flesh to join us talking to us from Key West.

Diana I have to tell you, we were talking about it this morning, you must have slept like a baby last night. How are you feeling this morning?

DIANA NYAD, FIRST TO SWIM FROM CUBA TO FLORIDA WITHOUT A SHARK CAGE: You know, I did. Kate, I've been right here in Key West as you all know four times before, once when I was young in my 20's, and three more times now in my 60's, not having made it, and you know, everybody likes to tell me, or they did the last few years, but it's the journey. It's not the destination. It's all the self-discovery and the wonderful team and I agree, but I'll tell you something, this time, the journey, the destination really brought me into a state of euphoria, so yes I'm a little beat up. My face I've got lacerations from the saltwater exposure, I sound real funny the inside of my mouth, other than that, all of the emotional high is wiping out any physical problem there is.

BOLDUAN: The victory sure tastes, I can only imagine how sweet it tastes. So, why -- how did you succeed this time? This is your fifth attempt, after so many setbacks. What was the difference this time?

NYAD: Well number one, I think anybody who goes out there, it's a treacherous stretch of water. You know, so much of my team the last couple years said to me, I know you can break this world record. You can do more than 100 miles, but not this stretch. This stretch is impossible. Swimmers have been trying since 1950 and no one's ever made it across.

Go do the Maldives, go to Guam, find another nicer stretch, but Cuba was in my heart and when I look at the map, that's what spoke to my imagination. So I didn't want to give up on it. This time I got lucky. I mean the waves were tough. The jellyfish mask that I'm so lucky to have made me take in a lot of saltwater, I was very sick, but the Gulf Stream was my friend and usually it's not. Usually you're out there going in circles, going east of the Bahamas. This time the Gulf Stream went north, right where I was going.

BOLDUAN: The conditions were right, but it takes more than just conditions for a human being to be able to make that trek, that is true grit and determination that you made it through. What are you thinking, what are you saying to yourself? What are you doing during these 53 hours that you're in the water trying to make it across?

NYAD: Yes, you know, it's a very isolating experience, even though I have 35 people around me loving, working like a machine, the kayakers with their shark devices, the shark divers at night in with me in the water patrolling, the biggest jellyfish expert, the number one jellyfish expert in the world, Dr. Angel Janigahara with me, literally in the water scooping up jellyfish, putting in cleans (ph) on my face.

I've got a team. Bonnie my head handler, my soul, getting me somehow through the tough moments, but I'm also isolated, alone, eyes covered, ears covered, with your own thoughts for a lot of hours so when you're feeling good and you're cruising through the daylight hours, you're singing Neil Young songs to yourself and counting in French and German and Spanish and just passing the time and you know, sort of metronomic ways, but when you're suffering, and I have to say that through the nights, I had two nights of full suffering this time with the mask, with the saltwater.

Now you're not thinking of anything. You're just coping and surviving and your team is somehow helping you make it through. Every 15 minutes, every hour let's not give up.

BOLDUAN: Your success and the journey even though we know that the result and the victory is so much sweeter has captured the country -- has captivated a nation as people have been almost swimming right with you at every moment. So what is your message after all of this, after you've really hit the pinnacle, you've done it?

NYAD: You know, Kate, I think the message I carry and the reason so many people are attracted to this story is that it has nothing to do with sport. It really doesn't. The people who follow me aren't sports hounds checking the E.R.As of baseball pitchers every day. They're human beings who're dealing with their own heartaches and their own obstacles in life, and they want to know how to get through and I think I'm a person who represents, A, you never give up, you find a way, if something really is important to your heart, you look and see what's inside yourself and you find a way.

I'm also 64, and a lot of this country are baby boomers and I think people are looking to me to say hell no, I'm not old. When I'm 90 I'll get in a rocking chair, look at the sunset, but look how my friends who are in their 60's are vibrant at their intellectual peak and I'm proving that you can even be at your physical peak at this age. So I carry a lot of messages with me that aren't about, hey, go out and break athletic world records, you know?

BOLDUAN: They're all good messages that you carry, that's for sure. I know everyone's wondering this question, what's next for you?

NYAD: I am through with the ocean. Never going to be seasick again. See how happy I look?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

NYAD: I really didn't come back, I didn't swim for 30 years and I didn't come back to become a marathon swimmer again. I just had this dream of Cuba, and so it's done. The dream has been realized, but as a swimmer, I had made a pool, I shouldn't say I made it, the company that builds the Olympic pools these days are called Mersa and they built a pool for me we're going to install in New York City in October, October 8th through the 10th.

I 'm going to swim for 48 hours in a lane and next to me will be all kinds of notable New Yorkers, the public at large, and we're going to raise money for those poor people who lost their homes To Hurricane Sandy. Then we're going to take that pool to the Boston marathon at the anniversary of that, that terror attack and we're going to swim there to help those people recover for what they're going through. Then we're going to go to Moore, Oklahoma and do the same thing for those people who are going to be decades rebuilding their lives.