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Hillary Clinton's Future; Kenya Terror Attack

Aired September 23, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Welcome to "AC360 Later."

Thanks for joining us. A lot to talk about tonight, a possible government shutdown, Hillary Clinton and a possible run with the presidency.

But we start with breaking news on the Nairobi Kenyan attack. "PBS NewsHour" is reporting that the Kenyan foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, told them that two or three Americans are among the gunmen who massacred at least 62 people inside the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.

According to PBS, Mohamed reportedly described the American gunmen as young men, about 18-to 19-years-old of Somali or Arab origin from Minnesota and Missouri. A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN they're aware of Kenyan foreign minister's comment, but said U.S. officials do not have enough information to verify if Americans were in fact involved in the attack.

The standoff has now entered its fourth day.

At the table with me tonight, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, chief national correspondent John King, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who is also a fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics, and joining us tonight is Jessica Buchanan, author of "Impossible Odds," her harrowing memoir of being kidnapped, held hostage by Somali gunmen for three months, and then rescued by a Navy SEAL team.

Also right now, I want to bring in CNN's Nima Elbagir in Nairobi who has been covering this from the start.

Nima, what is the latest right now? This is still going on, correct?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson, this is still an ongoing operation.

We have just seen some movement, armored personnel carriers back and forth from the road leading out to Westgate the shopping center. The Kenyan government conservative to maintain that this is the endgame, that they are in control of all floors of the shopping center, but at the same time they acknowledge there are still hostages inside there with the hostage takers which slightly belies the veracity -- or the thoroughness of that statement, because even if you are indeed in control of every single floor, then how exactly are the hostage takers still in control of the people that remain inside?

But it does feel like there is some resolution coming forward. They seem to have broadened their operations here. The 10 suspects taken into custody they are still being questioned tonight. And we are hearing that the operation is continuing. They are continuing to secure all their borders, airports, ports, all of the border crossing and they feel they will be apprehending many more people attempting to escape quite soon.

COOPER: Nima, you were saying 10 suspects taken into custody. Were those people taken at the mall or elsewhere in Nairobi?

ELBAGIR: Well, six, they haven't been clear where they were taken. They definitely weren't taken here at the mall, but perhaps neighborhoods throughout Nairobi.

But interestingly -- and this I think gives you a sense of the international scope of this operation -- four were apprehended at Nairobi International Airport attempting to get flights out of the country. The Kenyan Interior Ministry say they are suspected of direct involvement in this operation and they are currently being questioned.

COOPER: All right, Nima, thanks very much.

Jessica, you lived in Nairobi. You have spent time in this mall. I have been in this mall. It's a huge complex.

JESSICA BUCHANAN, AUTHOR: it is. It's very huge and tons of stores, lots of restaurants. Always very crowded. Lots of people, lots of kids.

COOPER: Christiane, this was obviously timed for maximum impact on a Saturday when families would be there.


It's just so horrendous. We have covered so many horrible things, but to think that ordinary people, men, women and children are going shopping on a weekend, you know, blacks, whites, Muslims, not Muslims. It's really a terrible thing and you just see these Al- Shabab people who have been pushed back quite significantly in their own homeland, Somalia, and are lashing out, either regrouping in some way, in a strong way or in a desperate move to be relevant and to be able to recruit. It's very, very perturbing because it's not just Somalia and Kenya. It's not just the Horn of Africa.

It's also obviously al Qaeda franchises all over...


COOPER: Right. We have seen Boko Haram in Nairobi on the west coast.

AMANPOUR: And then what happened in Mali. They have been put on the back foot after the French intervened. But there is this whole resurgence if not of al Qaeda proper, then these al Qaeda franchises all over the place.

COOPER: And also, John, what is interesting again is the American connection to all of this. We have seen a number of Americans mostly of Somali descent born originally in Somalia but grew up here in the United States, came here often at a very young age, becoming radicalized and going back and fighting for Al-Shabab.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Three to four dozen known and identified by U.S. counterterrorism officials and they worry that the number could be a little bit higher than that. Many of them from Somali-American communities throughout the United States.

Oddly, just a coincidence, I ran into a Somali-American at the airport flying up from D.C. today and she was going home to Minnesota to see her mother and she says this really troubles their community because they're proud and they're Americans and they love their country. They love their state and they say it's been tough for them.

And so the challenge for the administration is these are young Americans with passports. The administration does not believe Al- Shabab is capable of doing this here. Doesn't mean they don't go back and double check and triple check when something like this happens and they don't look at small security when something like this happens. But they don't believe they're as organized to project force like this here in the United States, but they do then go back with intelligence sources and cooperation with these foreign governments.

They have been involved in supporting the operations in Somalia and helping the Kenyan government and other governments try to deal with Al-Shabab. You go back and run your lists, where are they? If there are 36, 42, whatever number of Americans you have, where do you know where they are in the world? How do you track them? It's one of the reasons we have controversies about NSA and wiretapping and intelligence gathering in this country.

COOPER: First American killed in a suicide attack who actually set off a suicide attack was a Somali-American who went back and fought for Al-Shabab and blew himself up?

KING: Right. And you had the incident just very recently where there was an American who had some political disagreement with the leadership of the group and apparently he was killed for trying to leave the group or trying to fracture from the group or fight internally with the group. So this is not a new thing. And I think this kind of incident, to Christiane's point about a shopping mall, Americans morphed their definition of terrorism after 9/11.

It became about these huge events, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and a plane falling from the sky into a field in Pennsylvania. This is sort of the old school traditional definition of terrorism.

(CROSSTALK) ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: When I turned on the TV on Saturday morning early and I first saw breaking news and Westgate Mall, the name in English, my heart sank. I thought, of course. I assumed immediately it was in the United States.

This is such a sharp reminder that terrorism is a global problem. That's why what happens over there matters here, because it doesn't stay over there. And it's exactly what you just said. I can't think of anything that's more relaxing or more ordinary than going to a shopping mall.

AMANPOUR: This one, as we know, and as Nima has so heroically been reporting, and all our CNN folks, it has touched many of the officials. The foreign minister, who you were quoting earlier, one of her daughter's friends was killed.

COOPER: Kenyatta had a nephew there.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes. Even some people at CNN have relatives out there or friends and people they know.

Be interesting to know if I could just ask Nima a quick question. Nima, it's Christiane. You heard what the foreign minister, Ambassador Mohamed said, that she believed two or three of the gunmen are American. Do you have actual independent confirmation of that? Because we don't quite have it down. We just want to know whether there is actual evidence of that and how would she know that?

ELBAGIR: Well, our understanding is that they do have eyes in there. We don't want to get into many details, because obviously it's an ongoing operation, but they do have access to be able to see some of these people inside the mall.

And they're also going on a lot of the descriptions, the eyewitnesses that have been coming out that were held by the hostages and that spoke to the hostages and from the accents that they're hearing. You spoke about independent confirmation. We don't have independent confirmation, but this is something that Al-Shabab have been crowing about online, that they claim there are three Americans in there, one Brit, one Canadian and one Finn.

It does tally a lot with what Al-Shabab has always been very good at, which is targeting the Somali diaspora abroad. They have been very good at creating videos that somehow speak to these young men who in often cases feel quite disenfranchised far away from home. They create this sense of heroism, this complete twisted sense of being God's warrior, come home and you will find your calling here.

That's what they are better at than any other al Qaeda franchise. That is what they are really trying to drive home, that this time we have been able to get your people to come here. How do you know next time it will not be our people in your homes?

And although you say that the American government doesn't feel this could necessarily happen at home, but they are worried enough to pour millions of dollars into the international effort to get Somalia back on its feet, because they know without Somalia being stable, Al- Shabab will be continue to be a threat.

COOPER: That's why Kenya is being targeted, because Kenya has been involved in that. Kenya has troops in Somalia, as Ethiopia did before, which is what motivated a lot of Somali-Americans of those dozens who went over. They were being told by people, some people in their community that it was Ethiopians invading -- Ethiopian Christians invading a Muslim country.

Nima, I'm curious about the impact this is having in Nairobi. Because obviously one of the things that separates terrorism from just criminal activity, besides the methods, is the intent. And the intent is to sow terror, to make a political statement and to make an actual statement.

When we saw the Mumbai attacks, which are similar in the level of technical sophistication required, a handful of gunmen able to really bring in the Mumbai case an entire city to a halt for several days, does that have the same impact in Nairobi? Is the entire city, the entire country of Kenya watching this?

ELBAGIR: I think what drove the Kenyan intervention and the Kenyan involvement in the African Union force in Somalia in the first place was how much of what was going on in Somalia was bleeding across the borders into Kenya, grenade attacks, low-level stuff, nothing as big as this, but it was hitting the tourist trade.

People here have got used to living their lives slightly looking over their shoulders. Any time we go into any of the shopping malls like Westgate or any of the hotels, we are used to being searched and we're used to a certain level of vigilance.

So what has been interesting is the Kenyans have gone, all right, this is horrifying and this is a lot more than we're used to, but we have already decided this is the price we are willing to pay. We have already decided we are going to come together as a community.

And as Christiane was saying, when it's someone all the way up the ladder to the president, his nephew and his nephew's fiancee, and they had only been engaged a week, which is utterly horrifying, you kind of feel they are able to come together around this.

COOPER: Nima, we will take a break and we will have more on this after the break.

You can join our roundtable tonight. Tweet me @AndersonCooper.

Just ahead, terrorism analyst Peter Bergen joins us to look more at the American connection to Al-Shabab and other things. We will be right back.


COOPER: Hey. Welcome back. If you're just joining us, there is breaking news tonight.

The "PBS NewsHour" reporting that the Kenyan foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, told them that two or three Americans, young men about 18 to 91 years old, are among the gunmen who have killed at least 62 people in an upscale Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall.

A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN they are ware of Mohamed's comment, but do have enough information to verify if Americans are in fact involved. The terrorist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. It's affiliated with al Qaeda.

Christiane Amanpour, John King, and Ana Navarro are back at the table with me, also Jessica Buchanan who was held captive by gunmen in Somalia for 91 days.

Jessica, when you were held captive, it wasn't by Al-Shabab, but they would threaten you, the gunmen who were holding you for money would threaten you that they were going to sell you to Al-Shabab.

BUCHANAN: Absolutely. I think that was the worst outcome that would come out of the whole ordeal was that we felt and we believed that if they did sell us to Al-Shabab or if Al-Shabab actually came in captured us from the group that was holding us there would be very little chance of survival.

And, I mean, on day 93, when the Navy SEALs did come in and rescue me, I had no way of knowing that somebody was actually coming in to save me. And my first thought was this is Al-Shabab and they are coming to get me And I'm never going to...


BUCHANAN: Well, the guys that held me kept me alive for 93 days because they wanted money. They were asking for a very large ransom. It was nothing but money to them.

But with Al-Shabab, I think most of the time from what I have heard and my opinion is that it's not about money. It's more about a statement.

KING: There are still some hostages apparently at this mall, so they're on day two, going into day three.

COOPER: Day four now.

KING: Day four now. It sounds like a demented question, but what is the difference between day four and day 90, 91? Is there a difference?

BUCHANAN: I think day four you are still trying to figure out what's going on, who's got you. This is where I was in my day four.

You're still trying to learn who is in control, who do they answer to. Am I going to get food water? Am I going to get any food? Day 91, 93, you realize you're in it for the long haul and that if your chances are survival -- if you are going to make it through this then you have to change your perspective.

Right now, I think for me day four thinking back it was all just about just getting through minute to minute.


COOPER: It's also different because this is an active gunfight. They are being used as human shields from some reports.


COOPER: And there is the very real feeling that, you know, these gunmen are very willing to die.

AMANPOUR: And being executed at point-blank range.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: How did they treat you?

They weren't Al-Shabab. They were obviously in it for the money like a lot of the Somali pirates. How did they treat you? Did they give you food? Did they treat you properly?


AMANPOUR: Did they assault you?

BUCHANAN: There was very harsh treatment. We lived outside for the entire 93 days.

We were never taken into any buildings. We just -- we sat outside under trees during the day and slept out in the open at night, very aggressive and the problem with the guys that were holding us, they were addicted to khat, and they were chewing this leaf that made them high.


COOPER: It's basically a twig. It's an amphetamine-like twig. And by end of the day, they are very wired.

BUCHANAN: They're wired, they're paranoid and they're trigger- happy. So you don't know if you're going to be shot.


NAVARRO: How many cases like yours are there like a year?

BUCHANAN: I don't know.


AMANPOUR: One of the unfortunate things about all this is actually the United States and the African Union had a bit of a success story in Somalia.

After years of when we first started covering it, a completely failed state, absolute anarchy, a total mess, you were in it at that time. They have started and now finished pushing them back out of the capital and there's a president who is recognized by the U.S.

COOPER: And it was really the famine in 2011 -- I was there in Mogadishu -- which started it, because Al-Shabab refused to allow aid workers in to feed people in the areas that were in control.

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, do you see this as a sign of strength by Al-Shabab or is this a sign of weakness, the fact that this is about all they can mange to do, holding civilians and killing women and children in a mall?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's really a sign of weakness.

If they really wanted to make a statement, their enemy is the Kenyan military. And they would have attacked a military base in Kenya and they don't have those capabilities, as you and Christiane and the panel have just been discussing. This is a group that has really been defeated militarily by not only the Kenyans, but other African Union troops.

They controlled much of southern Somalia two or three years ago. They don't now. They controlled the capital of Mogadishu. This is a group that is on the wane, not on the rise. This attack may be an effort to show they still have some skin in the game.

COOPER: And so for those in the United States who, A., haven't really heard about this group and are concerned about this happening in the United States or in Europe or elsewhere, has Al-Shabab shown a capability to operate internationally beyond East Africa?

BERGEN: You know, they did try and kill -- somebody associated with Shabab tried to kill the Danish cartoonist in Denmark who had done the offensive cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and they broke into his house and luckily the cartoonist had a safe room. So they have shown some interest in attacks in the West, but that wasn't successful.

Their previous attacks, big attacks have been in Uganda where they killed 70 people in 2010. So, it has been mostly been confined to Africa.

AMANPOUR: I think what is obviously something that is really important now with all these world leaders here in New York, they're talking about all of this. President Obama met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the U.N. today. He has Boko Haram.

COOPER: President of Nigeria.

AMANPOUR: President of Nigeria. What did I say?


AMANPOUR: Yes, president of Nigeria. Sorry.


COOPER: I just love his name, Goodluck Jonathan. I think it's the coolest name.

AMANPOUR: It's so great.


AMANPOUR: But they have such a problem there with their al Qaeda affiliate.

Just give us a little sense right now of how strong the African, North African version of al Qaeda is right now, Peter.

BERGEN: I think it depends where you are.

Nigeria, it's not good to be a Christian in northern Nigeria and being near Boko Haram a cell. They have attacked a lot of churches. But they haven't attacked outside of Nigeria itself.

In Mali, the French army basically defeated the al Qaeda affiliate in Mali at the beginning of this year. It sort of waxes and wanes. You will recall the attack on the Algerian gas facility by an affiliate al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. So it depends. But overall I would say that there -- in most cases these groups are not doing particularly well. Most people in any part of the world don't want to live under some sort of Taliban-style rule, which is what these groups are generally offering.

COOPER: Peter, it has been able to recruit a number of Americans mostly of Somali descent. I believe there was an American convert to Islam also who at least tried to go over there. I think he was apprehended in Kenya.

Who are the people who have been recruited and how have they been recruited?

BERGEN: A lot of them come from a neighborhood in Minneapolis, Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. It's one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, average income $17,000, 20 percent unemployment rate. And, you know, I think the pitch is, you know, as you have said it at the beginning of the show, that a Christian army has invaded from Ethiopia.

You can have a really exciting time, you know, that it's part of a sort of experience of brotherhood and it's for the religion and that's appealing. And so most of these folks have come from Minnesota, but they have also been recruited from places like Seattle and Alabama and Maryland and other places around the United States.

It's probably the most attractive affiliate of al Qaeda for Americans right now. In fact, 15 Americans have died fighting with Al-Shabab, four of them, as many as four of them as suicide bombers, which makes this report that we heard on Twitter now from the Kenyan foreign minister sound pretty plausible. COOPER: The fact that Al-Shabab was tweeting about the attack, Twitter then shut it down and then another site sprung up that was allegedly associated with them, do you think it's likely, Peter, that an attack of this style could happen, would happen in the United States, not necessarily from Al-Shabab, but a Mumbai-style attack like this? Because it does seem relatively not all that technically savvy or required a huge amount of training.

BERGEN: Yes. We have seen attacks like in Aurora, Colorado, in a movie theater, but if they had shouted Allahu akbar in the middle of it, it would have been -- it was a big news story. It would have been a seismic news story.

The fact is it's relatively easy to do. But luckily the people motivated by al Qaeda's ideology don't really have the capacity to the these kinds of attacks in the United States. They did of course do an attack in Boston which killed four. But overall there aren't many takers in the United States for this ideology and they are not organized in a group capable of doing this kind of an attack.

NAVARRO: Peter, if I can ask you, what happens next? This is going to end at some point. We don't know how, we don't know when, but it will end. What does the international, what does the United States, what does Kenya have to do, can do, should do?

BERGEN: Well, it's a good question, but I think the way this will end unfortunately is that all the hostages will be killed and all the hostage takers will be killed. And then presumably Kenya has a pretty motivation to go and finally excavate this group, which they have been pretty successful at.

They took a major port in south of Somalia in 2011 that was controlled by Al-Shabab. There will be a pretty strong revenge motivation here.

COOPER: Jessica, just in the minute that we have left, as someone who lived in Nairobi, are you concerned about the impact on Kenya tourism?

BUCHANAN: Of course I'm concerned.

But I just -- I feel that Nairobi in general is a pretty safe place. It's a family posting. I lived there for -- off and on for seven years. And the things that happened to me didn't happen in Nairobi. And so I think the Kenyan people are lovely, amazing, strong and I think they will band together and they will come out of this.

I was there during the post-election violence and I saw the progression and how they struggled after, but they maintained integrity and moved on. And I think that they will -- I think they will overcome this.

COOPER: Jessica, appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.

We got to take a quick break.

Peter Bergen as well, thank you.

Up next, the panel, the threat of a government shutdown here in the United States. Only one week left in this fiscal year and then the federal government runs out of money. What is going to happen? We will talk about that ahead.


COOPER: Getting a lot of tweets from you about the idea of Hillary Clinton running in 2016. We will talk about that a little bit later on tonight.

One week from tomorrow, though, October 1, the federal government's new fiscal year begins. It shuts down without funding. So far, there is none. House Republicans passed a bill that keeps the government functioning, but cuts off money for Obamacare. It's not going to pass the Senate controlled by Democrats.

But here's what one of the bill's chief proponents in the Senate, Ted Cruz, told our Dana Bash today on Capitol Hill.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think every one of us, Republicans and Democrats, should get back home, should listen to our constituents, should ask them, what are the challenges you are facing?

Because I will tell you what you find out. When you ask your constituents, what are the problems you are facing, over and over again, the answer that comes back is, Obamacare is killing jobs, it's taking away my health insurance, is driving up my premiums, is causing small businesses to shrink, to go out of business.

And if we listen to the American people, that should be our priorities.


AMANPOUR: We are back with Christiane Amanpour, John King, Ana Navarro. Joining us is Alex Seitz-Wald, political reporter at "The National Journal."

Good to have you here.


COOPER: Do you believe that that is true, that when people go back, when congressmen, Republicans, Democrats, go back, talk to people, that's what their number one problem is?

SEITZ-WALD: Well, I don't know which American people Ted Cruz is listening to, because there's a CNBC poll out today that showed by an almost 3-1 margin that Americans don't want to shut down the government to defund Obamacare. They don't like the law, still.

And that's what Ted Cruz is tapping into. They don't like the law, still, and that's what Ted Cruz is tapping into, but they don't want to defund it. They don't want to shut down the government.

So Ted Cruz is really out on a limb here, and he's expecting the American people to rise up behind him, but they're just not there.

KING: The American people can walk and chew gum. Many of our politicians can't. But to Alex's point, there are a lot of concerns about Obama care.

Now, some liberals don't think it goes far enough. They're not happy with it in that way. Other people as they begin to deal with it are -- as they read the headlines. So it's being implemented. Some parts are being delayed. They are getting concerned.

They read a story today saying maybe their premiums will go down, but they'll have fewer choices. Of course, that concerns them.

But to Alex's point, they don't think you shut down the whole enterprise of the government to deal with it. And many Republicans would argue -- and I'm interested in our Republican perspective here -- this is why we have elections. Right? Mitt Romney wasn't shy -- now a lot of us didn't think he meant it -- but Romney wasn't shy in the last election about saying, "Elect me. I'll get rid of Obama care." He lost. He lost pretty convincingly.

And so the Supreme Court upheld the law.

So most Republicans will say, "Let's have it out in 2014. Let's have it out in 2016 and let's try other ways to change the law," to change things you don't like. But to shut down the government over it, most Republicans view as a fool's errand that will hurt the party at a time it is actually poised, heading into 2014, to doing quite well.

NAVARRO: That's exactly why -- that's exactly so many Republicans are against it. Because if you want to fix Obama care or repeal it or fix it or change it, the best way to do it is to elect more Republicans. And the political cost of a government shutdown is really going to affect any -- any possibility of electing more Republicans.

KING: Cruz gets most of the headlines right now, but your friend Marco Rubio is with him in this -- in this...

NAVARRO: I knew you were -- I knew you were going there.

KING: But why?

NAVARRO: Why is he with him?

KING: I understand the principled opposition to Obama care. But Cruz is new to elective politics. Marco Rubio is the speaker of the House, a legislative body in a very competition state like Florida. He knows you don't always get your way in government. Why do you shut down the government to get your way?

NAVARRO: Listen, I don't agree with all my friends on everything. I don't agree with Marco Rubio on this. It's not the first thing I disagree with him on. He'll be the first to tell you that.

But I think that the difference between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz is that Marco Rubio hasn't on a national tour, trying to put pressure on Congress, trying to put pressure on other members, calling anybody who's not in favor of it the Defeatist Caucus. And just the -- you know, feeding into this fraction of the party.

So it's his position, but he's not going out there and being a slash-and-burn Republican.

AMANPOUR: It is actually extraordinary. Because, I mean, we all remember when Newt Gingrich did this in the '90s, and it ricocheted terribly badly on them. And being through this before, when I was...

COOPER: Which he denies, by the way. He says it didn't hurt the Republicans.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think it did.

COOPER: Most -- a lot of -- most observers did. I just spoke to him the other day...


AMANPOUR: How many times can we have this and maintain...

KING: From his historian's perspective, and Newt, whatever you're thinking, does know history, his point is, essentially, that the Democrats did get the House back for a little bit not long after that. But now the Republicans are back.

And so if you look at the arc of history after 40 years of Democratic rule before Newt Gingrich came for the speakership, the Republicans have done pretty well in the last 15 or 20 years. And that's true; that's a fact. Did it hurt their image in the short term? Ninety-five, '96, you bet it did. Would Bob Dole tell you running a very uphill race anyway against Bill Clinton, it didn't help very much.

NAVARRO: Back then, Republicans were united. You know, in that tactic. Today, we're not. Most Republicans are against the government shutdown, despite what Nancy Pelosi may have told Candy Crowley on Sunday.

So you know, the difference is that we are airing out our dirty laundry, airing out these differences and, frankly, I think, turning it into a spectacle for everybody to see. I don't think that's the way to grow a party. It's not the way to become the dominant party.

COOPER: There's a research poll from September 19 to 22. The question is who's more to blame if an agreement is not reached? Republicans, 39; Obama administration, 36; both, 17; neither, 2; 6 say they don't know. So I mean, it seems -- it's 39 but kind of evenly split. KING: That tells you how weak the president is right now, in the sense that it's a pretty even split. Independents have left the president.

To Alex's point, a lot of Americans are skeptical or don't like Obama care or aren't sure what it's going to do to them. So they're worried about it. So right now you have relative parity.

However -- however, Americans don't want the government shut down over this.

So if the Republicans shut it down over this, then you have a singular personality and a pretty good communicator, whether you like or dislike the president. He has the bully pulpit of the presidency. And if you go back to the Gingrich experiment, Bill Clinton won that debate, in part, because a president speaks with one voice. When you have a Republican party that will be in a circular firing squad.

So while you have parity in the polls right now, relatively, I don't know anybody who's smart about politics -- Democrat, Republican or in the middle -- who say that if this happens, the president wins.

AMANPOUR: What does this say -- what does this say to the country, to the people who are watching, about even being able to fix so many of the problems that need to be fixed right now, so many big issues? Year after year, month after month, we have to talk about this dysfunction in Washington. People around the world look at this, and they just can't believe it. And here we go again.

NAVARRO: That's why Congress has approval ratings that are 11, 12 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than reporters.

SEITZ-WALD: As much as the American people are not in love with the president, they dislike then Congress even less. I mean, 10 percent approval ratings here. And, you know, so even if they have questions about Obama care, even if they're not totally happy with the president, if the government shuts down, I think it's pretty clear that they'll blame Republicans. All the polling is suggesting that.

NAVARRO: And that's the sad thing and the ironic thing. Because really, Obama care was turning into a very big problem for not only President Obama but also Democrats. It's every day that we hear, whether it's the Mayo Clinic or whether it's Sea World. Or you know, one more business that's taking people off the insurance rolls or taking them off...

SEITZ-WALD: Instead of trying to fix it, they're just...

NAVARRO: We are giving Obama the escape out.


NAVARRO: We are giving the solution. Instead of now focusing on the problems with Obama care, everybody's focused on the civil war in the Republican Party.

KING: But are the people who are making this an issue and forcing this issue, can you answer my question, put them in two schools? No. 2, very safe members, relatively new members of Congress and the Republican Party, Tea Party movement, Tea Party light movement. They'll go home to districts the president lost by 15, 20, 25 points.

So the only thing they worry about back home is the primary challenge. So they're going to go right, right, right. And then on the Senate side, where you have your Cruz and your Rubio and your Rand Paul. Funny, aren't those three guys who are doing the most right now to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, where maybe they're willing to suffer in the middle and on the left right now, but they're going -- they want to go deep...

NAVARRO: But Rand Paul in the middle of this -- Rand Paul in the middle of this has struck a much more compromising tone. He is looking as the compromiser in chief right now.

SEITZ-WALD: He says you shouldn't have to shut down the government.

NAVARRO: Exactly.

SEITZ-WALD: The big irony in this whole thing is if the government shuts down, Obama care survives. The Marines don't get paid. The Social Security checks don't go out. But Obama care, the money has already been allocated. A few government workers will not make it, but the program will continue, despite their best efforts.

COOPER: We'll take a quick break. Coming up, will Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016? I think we're going to be asking this question a lot up until 2016. What she says, though, in a new interview on what her husband is saying and what our panel thinks, ahead.


COOPER: Props out of the White House. Hillary Clinton telling "New York" magazine in a new interview that she's not in any hurry to make a decision about running for president in 2016. She called it a serious decision that shouldn't be made lightly, that she'll continue to weigh a variety of factors. Former President Clinton was asked whether his wife's -- about his wife's priorities today on "CBS This Morning." Listen.


CHARLIE ROSE, "CBS THIS MORNING": Do you think she'd rather be today -- she can do both -- president or a grandmother?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you ask her, I think she'd say grandmother. But I have found it best not to discuss that issue.

ROSE: Sounds like Chelsea may have influenced you.

CLINTON: I'm just trying to -- my goal is to live to be a grandfather. The rest is out of my hands.


NAVARRO: And I think they'd make fine grandparents.

COOPER: I like that he -- I like that he almost spit up his water there.

AMANPOUR: What a question.

COOPER: I know.

AMANPOUR: Of course, she's going to be president.

NAVARRO: Do you think she was drinking water like we are? I can't believe we're here at 10 p.m. at night, drinking water.

KING: Most candidates are not running until they run. She's running until -- unless and until she doesn't run. She's moving around. She's going to be very visible this week. She does have the luxury, because she is, by leaps and bounds -- I think the polling shows her ahead by 5,000 points, you know, among over Democrats, including the vice president.

COOPER: Let's take a look at that polling, actually.

KING: My math isn't so good. Do we have that poll? It's almost 5,000 points, whatever it is.

COOPER: Choice for nominee, Clinton, 65 percent.

KING: That's the political equivalent of 5,000 points.

NAVARRO: This is not the first time we've seen Hillary leading by 5,000 points.

KING: And if it the first -- and it would be interesting to watch her put together a team. We already see people talking about this. I know you have that Begala guy standing by. He knows a lot about this.

The most fascinating thing to me is Charlie Rose asking the question. If you look at what's happening in the changing of the Clinton Foundation, not just in the name -- the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. There is the "New York" magazine article. There's also an article about Doug Band, who used to be corresponding guy in "The New Republic" that is very unfavorable.

You see here the not-so-hidden hand of Chelsea, who I first met in the Arkansas governor's mansion way back in the day when she was, you know, young and she was cute with her curly hair and her braces. She has now grown up to be a force in this family.

And you can see things happening now that are clearly designed that, if my mother runs, what do I need to do? What -- what things could hurt her in 2015 and 2016 that we can deal with today?

COOPER: And you think Chelsea Clinton is behind all of that?

KING: I know Chelsea Clinton is behind it, because I know people who are in the Clinton world, like the Begala guy that you've got standing by, I think.

And it is fascinating to watch. She was this cute, shy, unassuming kid who was overwhelmed at being in the White House, and now she has grown up. Capital "G," capital "U."

COOPER: Let's bring in Paul Begala, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist. He's joining us on the phone.

Is the hidden hand of Chelsea Clinton behind all of this, Paul Begala?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via phone): I don't know. I hate to disagree with King. But she...

KING: He knows.

COOPER: You do know. "I don't know" means "I don't want to talk about it."

BEGALA: But it is, I think, noteworthy that her name is now on the door at the foundation. This is an accomplished woman. I'm with John. I mean, I knew her when she was a sixth grader. She was a 12- year-old and a pretty bright one at that.

But now she's an accomplished woman; she's worked in finance. She's worked in consulting, and now she's going to -- I think have a strong hand leading this. And I think it's terrific.

NAVARRO: OK. But the question here is about Hillary 2016 not Chelsea 2050. That will be George B. Bush versus Chelsea. So...

COOPER: Do you think she's running?

NAVARRO: You know, some days I wake up thinking yes; some days I wake up thinking no. But the bottom line is, like you've said, like Paul has said, she's got the luxury of time.

But also, Anderson, this is good for business. Let's face it, keeping her name out there, the speculation. She's going to write a book. She's got, you know, speaking gigs. She's got all sorts of things going on where being a possible potential candidate, a presumed nominee, is good for business.

COOPER: That's the same reason Sarah Palin is even talking about possibly running for Senate.

NAVARRO: Is she again?

AMANPOUR: I love that: Is she again? This is going to be "is she again" for the next three years. Every time there's an article; every time there's a speech; every time Chelsea makes a decision, every time there's something it's going to be "and is Hillary going to run?"

NAVARRO: It's not going to be three years, because...

AMANPOUR: OK, two. OK, one.

NAVARRO: It's going to be one and a half. What's going to end up happening is she's going to get a lot of pressure.

AMANPOUR: She is already.

NAVARRO: From other potential candidates who are....

AMANPOUR: Let's be very serious. Women want to see her run. Women believe it's time for a woman to be president. And I think that...

COOPER: Has Benghazi -- has that hurt her run?

KING: I think there's no question. You know, on Washington and Capitol Hill. There's no question that Republicans think that that's their first -- you know, you want to be president. You want to be the CEO. You're going to have to deal with terrorism. Well, on your watch this happened and that there were a lot of warning signs.

And I do think, look, she manhandled -- forgive me if it sounds sexist -- but she manhandled the Republicans when she went up on Congress.

NAVARRO: Hate tweet him, please, people. Hate tweet him.

KING: And dealt with this issue. And the Republicans privately concede that point, which is why if they have her back up, they're going to do their homework first and proceed.

But is it a legitimate to ask more about the warning signs and, if it didn't reach her level, who under her? Of course it is. Is it enough to derail her from the Democratic nomination? I think not. And then who do the Republicans nominate?

SEITZ-WALD: Yes, I completely agree. And generalizing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Benghazi right now, certainly trying to make that an issue, you know, going forward.

But it's one blotch on an otherwise untarnished, mostly, resume. You know, when she left the secretary of state, she had sky-high approval ratings, most popular Democrat in the country. It's one blotch. And it's terrible. It's a tragic incident, but I don't think it's really going to hurt her.

NAVARRO: Now the Republicans would tell you there's a lot more than one blotch in, you know, the Clinton history. She's going to be -- If she runs she's going to be a formidable candidate. But look, we just...

SEITZ-WALD: But it's all in the past. It's a known quantity.

NAVARRO: No, it's not all in the past. We are just scratching at the surface of what's going on with Doug Band and Teneo. Remember those two names. You're going to hear a lot about...

COOPER: For those who haven't read that "New Republic" article, who haven't been following...

KING: Doug Band started as an intern in the Clinton White House. He because his body guy, essentially, the guy who put the speech on the podium. If you're waiting for a presidential event, and you see some guy walk in with a two-minute warning, he drops the speech. He's carrying the bag.

If you look at -- you go online and look at Bill Clinton at world events in the final days of his presidency and then in the post- presidency, you see this guy. You'll see this comic (ph) guy running. He was the body guy.

The implication is that he turned his role as a top assistant to the president at the Clinton Global Initiative and he helped design the Clinton Global Initiative. And Bill Clinton gives him a lot of credit for that. That he then sort of traded in on his access and he's part of an investment firm now and that he sort of went out and said, you know, "Be with me, because I can deliver Bill Clinton," he sort of cashed in on the Clinton name.

NAVARRO: Doug Band is the equivalent of Huma Abedin for Bill Clinton. And it is not by coincidence that the company that we have heard about where Huma Abedin, when she came back from maternity leave, she got a consulting agreement with the State Department and then was able to go consult for a private company. Well, it was the same company we were just talking about.

COOPER: Paul, at this point, what do you think: A, do you think this Doug Band issue is something that's going to have legs that could hurt Hillary Clinton down the road? And also, what do you think the main, you know, factors will be for her to decide?

BEGALA: First, the answer to A is easy. No.

We're three years and two months away from the election. If anybody thinks -- this week, even tonight, look at your burner (ph) tonight, there's an ongoing terrorist attack in Nairobi. We're seven days away from a government shutdown. We may default on our credit for the first time in two centuries. The American middle class is under siege. And we really -- anybody -- any sentient being thinks in three years, people are going to say, "I'm concerned about Doug Band and Huma Abedin, honey. Let's go cast our vote based on Doug Band and Huma Abedin."

I know them both. I'm biased. Doug Band came into Bill Clinton's life and took over his life when he left the White House, and President Clinton's favorability was dropping precipitously because of very controversial pardons. Doug rebuilt him. And anybody who loves Bill Clinton owes Doug Band a huge debt. And I have no problem with the fact that he's going into business with his friends and friends he met through the Clintons. Who are you supposed to go into business with? Enemies?

NAVARRO: Neither does Bill Clinton, as Bill Clinton told Charlie Rose today in that interview you quote a piece of.

But Hillary has been out of politics now for four and a half years. The most un-political post you can have in government is being secretary of state. And I think that what we're seeing here is that, if she gets back into politics, she's going to getting back as Mother Teresa. She's going to get back into the cesspool of politics, and the scrutiny and all the bad things that come with it are going to come right back.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Paul Begala, thank you for calling in. I appreciate it.

Just ahead, some other stories that caught our panel's eye today that maybe you haven't heard about. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. We're here with Alex Seitz-Wald, Christiane Amanpour, John King and Ana Navarro. This is when we ask our panelists to pick a story that they want to talk about that maybe didn't get a lot of coverage today.

Christiane, what's your big story? You have a big interview.

AMANPOUR: I do have a big interview tomorrow with President Rouhani, the Iranian president, who's just arrived in New York for the U.N. G.A. He's tweeted a picture of himself driving into New York.

COOPER: He did a selfie. Didn't he?

AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, I think it was the driver, personally. But -- it didn't look like a selfie to me.

But you know, there's been so many tweets. But the real issue is they all say this is the time to strike a deal with the United States over the nuclear program. My view is if the U.S. can do a deal with Syria over chemical weapons, it can surely do a deal with a much more important country over nuclear weapons.

KING: If only his citizens could see his tweets.

AMANPOUR: Well, for a little brief moment...

COOPER: What's your story?

AMANPOUR: He promised to not end censorship.

NAVARRO: I want to go back to the pope's interview last week. Because you did discuss it here. But of course, Andrew took it all for himself. And I think we missed the part about the women. Because you know, there was so much attention given to the abortion remarks and to the remarks about gays. But he said some very interesting things about the role of the women and finding a bigger role for women in the church.

COOPER: We're going to put it on the screen.

NAVARRO: I want to read you one line, because I love this line too much for me not to read it on the air. He said, "The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions." Now tell me that's not a line. I say listen to the pope.

COOPER: Alex Seitz-Wald.

SEITZ-WALD: Obama has got to worry about not just Republicans but liberals coming up in the fiscal fight. The left is emboldened. They killed Larry Summers. They opposed him on Syria, on the NSA, on entitlements. They feel neglected by the White House. They think they're, you know, standing up for his true progressive idealism, but it's another issue that he's got to keep on his mind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And very briefly, you've got to...

KING: I'm going out of character for me as the father of a 2- year-old and a 20-year-old. Mick Jagger, apparently, is going to be a great-grandfather.


AMANPOUR: A great-grandfather.

KING: A great-grandfather.

COOPER: Is it true?

KING: He's going to take the great-grandchild on tour in his last 10 years.

COOPER: All right. We're out of time. Thanks to our panel. That does it for this edition of "AC 360 LATER."

Thanks for watching. See you back here tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Thanks for joining us.