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NEW DAY

Israel Launches Missile Test; Obama Making Case Against Syria; Interview with Senator Lindsey Graham; The "Worm" Returns to North Korea; Diana Nyad's Epic Challenge

Aired September 3, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is a regional conflict. This is not a conflict that's confined to just Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Face-to-face, the president meeting with congressional leaders just hours from now as his national security team faces questioning in the Senate. Is he any closer to making a deal to strike Syria?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Never too old, the inspiring words from Diana Nyad, her dream finally realized, making that brutal 112-mile swim 35 years after her first attempt. We hear from her this morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, Dennis Rodman back in North Korea. His controversial friendship with Kim Jong-Un now put to the test. Will he try to free the American held captive there?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If something really is important to your heart, you look and see what's inside yourself and you find a way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's Tuesday, September 3rd, 8:00 in the east. A lot coming up this hour, the White House continues flooding the zone, as they are saying, pushing for a strike in Syria. The president meeting with more key congressional leaders to make his case today. We're talking exclusively with one of the most influential lawmakers on this right now, Senator Lindsey Graham who met with President Obama yesterday.

CUOMO: Meantime, Israel ratcheting up tensions, launching experimental missile into the Mediterranean Sea. Here's the question, did the U.S. know about it? Were they involved? We're live at the Pentagon with late developments on that.

PEREIRA: Plus, NASCAR, a contact sport? It is the slap felt around the sport's world. Wow, driver's girlfriend smacks his opponent and it's all caught on camera.

BOLDUAN: All right. But, first up this hour -- new this morning, Israel's defense ministry confirming it launched an anchor target missile over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the region on edge this morning.

We're covering the story as only CNN can. Let's get first to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joining us with what this all means. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate.

It was the Israeli Defense Ministry that made the announcement it conducted a joint missile test with the U.S. Department of Defense, part of their arrow antiballistic missiles system from a base in central Israel, firing a target missile, a test missile if you will, out into the Mediterranean, all picked up by Russian radar and really causing the world to take a deep breath, wondering if hostilities had broken out.

The U.S. military responding very quickly saying, there was no offensive or defensive action by the U.S. military, that this was a test. But look, this is an area where you have the Russian military, the U.S. military, the Syrians, the Turks, and the Israelis. In the eastern med, everyone's teeth are on edge -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Barbara, it's interesting -- how will this play now for the president as he goes to this reluctant Congress. Thanks for the reporting this morning.

We know that that's what the president is doing. He's trying to convince lawmakers to attack Syria. The president will brief House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House today.

He's also going to meet with key House and Senate committee leaders, all in the spirit of trying to come to some consensus here.

Now, on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs chairman, General Martin Dempsey, will testify at the first public hearing on authorization in the Senate.

Also today, the U.N. Security Council gets briefed on chemical weapons inspections in Syria. That is a key discussion that's going to be had.

Let's start our coverage off with Brianna Keilar at the White House. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. With two of Congress's most prominent hawks now apparently on the side of President Obama, White House officials that I have spoken with are feeling positive about their chances of hammering out an agreement that would authorize the use of force when it comes to Syria. They do admit, though, there's still a whole lot of convincing to do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): 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 that 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 more.

KEILAR: Congress has key demands, a limited strike and no boots on the ground. The White House will continue to make the case with them today, behind closed doors in 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 BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Certainly the mood at the district that 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 much 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: The White House this past weekend sent to Congress a draft of a resolution that would authorize force in Syria, and with lawmakers seeking to make changes, White House officials said that's what we anticipated. One said we didn't expect Congress to just rubber stamp it -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Brianna, thank you so much for that. One person that's received a preview of the administration's argument is Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina and key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's just joining us exclusively live this morning.

Senator, it is great to see you. Busy travel schedule for you up to Washington and back down to South Carolina.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes.

BOLDUAN: You went into the meeting with President Obama yesterday skeptical and critical of the plan that he was laying out. You wanted to see a larger strategy from him.

How did the president respond to your criticisms? And in the simplest terms possible, how did he convince you?

GRAHAM: Well, at the end of the day, the American people are just really don't know what we're doing, and I went into the meeting and said, Mr. President, what am I supposed to tell people in South Carolina?

A military strike with a purpose. I don't -- I'm not asking for an open-ended military engagement to replace the regime. I know he's not going to do that.

But here's where we left it, the past is the past. We got to go forward. To me, there is the beginning of a strategy that might work. The idea of a military strike to degrade Assad's delivery systems when it comes to chemical weapons would have a beneficial effect on the overall battlefield situation.

A real effort to upgrade the modern opposition in terms of weapons and training, getting the regional players more involved like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab States, and particularly Turkey, by marginalizing the al Qaeda members, al Qaeda groups inside of Syria. That to me is a strategy that might sell to Congress, a military strike to degrade Assad's overall capability and upgrading of the moderate opposition in a regional approach, where the regional players start providing assets, including money and training and support for the opposition.

BOLDUAN: Now let's game this out. John McCain in the last hour, he made the case that this is already a larger --

GRAHAM: That's right.

BOLDUAN: -- a bigger regional conflict, not just about Syria. So, if the U.S. goes in, what does the U.S. do if Assad digs in, if Iran or Hezbollah retaliates and this becomes a whole lot more than the American people bargain for?

GRAHAM: Well, I think the American people have to understand if this war goes another year, here's what's likely to happen. There will be tens of thousands of al Qaeda in Syria. There will be a toppling of the king of Jordan, the last moderate voice in the region, a close ally to us and Israel. He'll be gone in a year because of the refugee problem. The chemical weapons will be loose and in the hands of Hezbollah and may come our way.

So, the idea that Iran is watching every move we make in Syria, if we get Syria wrong, if we show a weakness here regarding Assad's chemical weapons utilization, you're almost ensuring a war between Israel and Iran over their nuclear program and we'll surely get drawn into that.

So, the American people, if you're worried about the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon, as I am, the last card to play to stop that is how we handle Syria.

BOLDUAN: I know one of the concerns that you've had is getting -- the U.S. actually getting arms to the rebels. One of the concerns all along is who are we actually going to be giving these arms to when they make it into Syria. Do we really know who we're dealing with? Do we really know who we'd be dealing with if Assad is toppled and who would take over? How do you deal with that question on a very real level?

GRAHAM: Well, number one, we know this, the vacuum created by this war going on for two years has allowed al Qaeda Al Nusra, al Qaeda affiliates to come into Syria and do battle against the Alawite Shiites. They're there not because they're part of Syria. They're there because they're part of a religious war.

Most Syrians aren't interested in replacing a dictator called Assad only to be governed by al Qaeda. So, I've been in the Mideast, and I really find it quite frankly astonishing for anybody to suggest that the Syrian people are al Qaeda sympathizers. But you got two wars now.

If you've done what Senator McCain and I said two years ago, there would not have been thousands of al Qaeda members in Syria. Assad would have been gone a long time ago and we'd be moving forward. But if this war goes on a year from now, you'll have tens of thousands of al Qaeda.

What will happen, once Assad goes, and it's important he does, because if he stays in power, that's a huge blow to our national security interests. You got to fight the al Qaeda groups in Syria. The Syrians will take care of al Qaeda with our help. That's the good news. You don't need any boots on the ground.

BOLDUAN: So, the most immediate question at hand, Senator, should the president go without the approval of Congress?

GRAHAM: Well, this is about the most mismanaged situation I've ever seen since World War II when they were trying to control the Nazis. I just -- this is bizarre, we're going, we're not going, we don't need Congress, yes, we do.

Put yourself in the shoes of average member of Congress. The public doesn't understand our strategy, so I'm trying, along with Senator McCain, to make sure we get Syria as right as possible, given the really bad options. So, I hope the president will address the American people, not just Lindsey and John, and talk about -- does it matter if Assad is in power a year from now? Are the Iranians really watching what we're doing, and it would it matter if they got a nuclear weapon? If we lose the king of Jordan, does it matter at all?

There's a lot at stake in Syria and the president, above all others, needs to up his game, Kate. If he doesn't engage and persuade the American people, this vote is going to be too close to call right now. And if we lost this vote, oh, my god, I can only imagine how it would make us look throughout the world.

But if we have a weak response, or just check the block response, that's just as bad. So the president needs to up his game. I'm willing to help if I can see a strategy that will protect our nation to stop this war from spreading in the Mideast. And most importantly, let Iran know we're not going to let them get a nuclear weapon without a struggle, without a fight.

Israel will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon without a fight. If we get Syria right, maybe we can avoid a war between Israel and Iran, which we would surely get dragged into.

BOLDUAN: So, no matter if a no-vote from Congress how that would make the United States look abroad, should the president, then, go in anyway without the authorization from Congress? What do you think?

GRAHAM: I think any commander in chief has to -- well, I don't know what he will do. I don't what he -- you know why we're doing it the way we are, but here's what I would say to the American people, the commander-in-chief has the responsibility unlike any member of Congress. If the commander in chief decided that after drawing a red line on chemical weapons that he had to act and that this war has a regional consequence, it could take down the king of Jordan, and it really is a test run for stopping the Iranian nuclear program, he has to make that decision as commander in chief, and I could understand why he would go forward without Congress.

But to my fellow members of Congress, I know this is a tough vote and we've got plenty of differences with the president on the Republican side. Let's see if we can come up with a strategy that has a chance of working, a military strike to degrade Assad, upgrading the rebel opposition forces, regional players help carrying some of the burden makes sense to me. This is all bad options, but that option, to me, has a chance of working.

And if we fail in Syria, if we fail to stand up for the right thing and to send the right messages, the whole region's going to go down in flames and I've been saying that for two years. The worst is yet to come. If we don't get this right, Kate, the worst is yet to come.

BOLDUAN: Wow, that is an ominous warning. Senator, I know you and the president have had many a difference in the years past, but looks like he's going to need you this time around. We'll talk to you very soon. Thank you so much for your time this morning.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

GRAHAM: We're going to have much more coverage and debate coming up with two of the hosts of "CROSSFIRE," Van Jones and Newt Gingrich. You don't want to miss it -- Chris.

CUOMO: Let's take a look at the weather here. A whole new meaning to Labor Day for millions along the East Coast, getting through the holiday weekend unscathed proved to be a labor for many as rains battered the Eastern Seaboard.

So, let's get to meteorologist Indra Petersons with more on the extreme Labor Day weather.

What were we seeing?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, unfortunately, no one wants to see that heavy rain, especially on Labor Day.

We actually saw record-breaking rain in Philadelphia, two inches of rain. Providence, Rhode Island, three inches of rainfall. When you get that much rain in a short period of time, unfortunately, it means flash flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

PETERSONS (voice-over): For these New England residents Labor Day was anything but fun in the sun. In Cranston, Rhode Island, a fast moving flash flood water logged this entire neighborhood.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water was this high at my door -- 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 6 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 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 of them 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: And 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: 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.

PETERSONS: But 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 huddles together to stay dry and wait out the rain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS (on camera): Well, that same cold that's responsible for all that wet weather is on the movie, especially in the northeast and mid-Atlantic you see making its way offshore. Bad news if you're in the southeast. It's moving, but ever so slowly. Once again, we' re going to be talking about rain all the way through the end of the week -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much, Indra.

CUOMO: All right. We got the weather. There's a lot of other news going on, so let's right to Michaela -- Mick.

PEREIRA: All right. Good morning to you, guys. And good morning to everyone at home.

Supporters of ousted Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, calling for mass protesting today in Cairo. It has been two months since the army seized control of Egypt and removed the country's democratically- elected leader. More than 900 people, mostly Islamist, Morsi supporters, have been killed since that military takeover.

Japan plans to spend upwards of half a billion dollars to try and stop the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant. That plant has been crippled since the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Much of the money will go towards freezing the ground so that contaminated water cannot flow out of the plant. Thousands of gallons of radioactive liquid has already escaped a storage tank there.

Fire crews are reporting remarkable progress fighting the rim fire near Yosemite National Park in California. That fire now 70 percent contained. Just yesterday, it was less than half under control. But the blaze does continue to grow. It is feeding on dry timber and brush in the area. The fire is so far consumed more than 235,000 acres.

All right. Alligator hunters in Mississippi bringing in some gators a record-breaking proportion. Check this one out. Saturday, this team caught a 13-foot five-inch long gator, 723 pounds, heaviest ever captured in the state. Oh, wait, two hours later, though, Dustin Brockman's (ph) hunting party pulled in another gator, this one over 13 feet, weighed 727 pounds. They just keep upping the alligator ante. Alligator season ends in Mississippi on September 9th, so they've got a few more days to catch some of the big ones.

BOLDUAN: Doesn't even look real.

PEREIRA: I know. They're like prehistoric proportions.

CUOMO: swamp dragon.

PEREIRA: Is that what they are?

CUOMO: -- they call them sometimes.

PEREIRA: Do you fear them?

CUOMO: I do.

PEREIRA: You should.

CUOMO: I fear them very much.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Taking that one seriously.

From gators to worms, shall we? That was the stupidest transition I've ever made.

(CROSSTALK)

The worm returns. Dennis Rodman is back in the news, because he is back in North Korea this morning. The former NBA great says he's just visiting his old pal, Kim Jong-Un on a basketball diplomacy tour. So, what really is going on? Let's get straight to David McKenzie live in Beijing this morning. So, David, what are you hearing? What exactly Dennis Rodman is hoping to achieve with this trip?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's calling it basketball diplomacy, Kate. And that basketball bad boy is heading over to Pyongyang. He raised more than a few eyebrows earlier this year when he called the dictator there an "awesome kid." He's over there now and we'll have to see whether he has a surprise up his sleeve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA STAR: Just want to go over there to meet with my friend, Kim.

MCKENZIE: That's Kim Jong-Un, North Korean dictator. Former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, is returning to North Korea for the second time this year, boarding a flight from Beijing early Tuesday morning.

RODMAN: Just wanted to fly to keep the communication gap going and try to help -- you know, try to start a new basketball league over there and stuff like that. MCKENZIE: Rodman first met Kim Jong-Un in February. That trip was arranged by Advise Media for its HBO documentary series. The former NBA star was criticized back then for saying he loved Kim Jong-Un despite his long record of human rights abuses.

RODMAN: He's a good guy to me. Guess what, he's my friend. Guess what, I don't condone what he does, but as a person to person, he's my friend.

MCKENZIE: This time, there's speculation he may use his basketball diplomacy skills to try and free American, Kenneth Bay, a missionary who's being imprisoned in North Korea since late last year, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. This was Rodman just last week.

RODMAN: I would definitely ask -- I'll just ask it in a way where I say what is, why is this guy held hostage here? I could say that like that and then try to soften it up that way and then if I actually got him loose, and I'm just saying this out of the blue, I would be the most powerful guy in the world.

MCKENZIE: But today, he told Reuters freeing Bay is not on his agenda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE (on-camera): So, the U.S. special envoy tried to get into North Korea. Just last week, he was turned away by authorities. Kenneth Bay, apparently, is very sick, according to his family. Just whether Dennis Rodman will achieve anything, we'll have to wait and see. But, you know, when he's concerned, you can't really predict what's going to happen -- Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: Yes. To say the least, when it comes to Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un, you cannot predict what will happen next. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Diana Nyad does it. The 64-year young, strong, and successful endurance swimmer finally made it from Cuba to Florida, her fifth try a success. You're going to hear from her and our Dr. Sanjay Gupta about exactly what she overcame coming up.

BOLDUAN: And also, coming up, the slap NASCAR fans are still buzzing about this morning as the driver speaking out saying his jaw was dislocated. Why the girlfriend of one driver approached another driver and slapped him straight across the face on camera?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Such an amazing story. Diana Nyad has made history becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without any protective shark cage. We spoke with her about her incredible feat earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA NYAD, LONG DISTANCE SWIMMER: Kate, I've been right here in Key West, as you all know, four times before, once when I was young in my 20s, and three more times now in my 60s not having made it. And you know, everybody likes to tell me or they did the last few years, it's the journey, it's not the destination, it's all the self-discovery and, you know, the wonderful team.

I agree, but I'll tell you something, this time, 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 salt water exposure. I sound a little funny, the inside of my mouth, but other than that, all of the emotional high is wiping out any physical problem there is.

BOLDUAN: Yes. The victory sure tastes. I can only imagine how sweet it tastes. So, why? How did you succeed this team? 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 do Guam, find another nicer stretch, but Cuba was in my heart.

BOLDUAN: 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, you know, checking the E.R.A.s of baseball pitchers every day. They're human beings who are 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 look into me to say, hell no, I'm not old. When I'm 90, I'll get in a rocking chair and look at the sunset.

But, look how my friends who are in their 60s 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 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.

(LAUGHTER) NYAD: Never going to be seasick again.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

NYAD: See how happy I look?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: But she said, she's still going to be out there swimming. She is more fish than human sometimes you have to think. Let's go now to CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, you've been following Nyad's story all along the way. You're in Key West. You spoke with her last night.

What do you make of this amazing feat and all the physical challenges that she has faced and failed to overcome so many times and then really hitting it finally this time?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the physical challenges are just remarkable. I mean, anyone can see that. At 64 years old, she swam nearly 55 hours. I mean, one doctor put it to me that, essentially, she's in a race against her own body, because she has to take in enough hydration, nutrition, just to be able to complete the swim, and that's an almost impossible to do.

So, she's almost in a way digesting her own body to get this done. But I'll tell you, Kate, you sort of hit on this and you see it from her spirits speaking to her, this is about a dream 35 years in the making. I mean, we all have dreams that maybe we've let go at some point in our lives, maybe we didn't realize that we've let go, and then you meet someone like Diana Nyad and all these long lost dreams are suddenly reinvigorated.

And maybe it inspires a lot of people to do things that they had thought that, you know, no longer were a possibility for them. Again, 64 years old, my mom was calling me yesterday, my kids were calling me, I mean, she's inspiring to all generations. BOLDUAN: She absolutely is. And you know, after her fourth attempt, she had said maybe it can't be done, but you followed her all along the way, what is it about her? She just had that ability to just keep the hope alive. Did anyone around her ever think that maybe she really couldn't do it?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, the people around her that was the closest to her even thought that maybe she couldn't do it. I mean, one of the people that's really been with her since the beginning even thought that this was -- this last attempt was something that maybe she wasn't even going to participate in. So, yes, there was a lot of doubt. And in fact, I would go so far to say the only person who really kept the vigil on this was Diana herself.

I mean, four attempts is a lot. Remember, the first was when she was in her late 20s. So, you know, now she's in her mid-60s. How could this be possible? How could she actually do this, and then she does it. It's really remarkable. As she said to you, Kate, she had some things in her favor, the water temperature, the currents.

There wasn't a big storm coming through. She used the protective gear against the jellyfish, which had hindered her in the past. But still, despite all that, it was just that find a way. Push Cuba back, reach for Florida. Push Cuba back, reach for Florida.

BOLDUAN: I mean, let's be honest, the conditions could have been more than perfect. I could have had not only a face mask, more -- you know, an entire body mask and there's no way -- I know you're a good swimmer, but no way you or I could have made this swim. That woman is just remarkable in her determination and true grit to pull this off.

GUPTA: Yes. That mental stamina. I mean, there's something to be learned there. You're right, I couldn't do it. A lot of people obviously -- most people could not do it, but the mental stamina, there is a lesson in there for all of us.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Well, thank you so much, Sanjay. We'll talk to you soon. Reminder to our viewers, do not forget to tune in to "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." airing weekends right here on CNN Saturday 4:30 eastern and Sunday 7:30 Eastern. You want to see much more of this.