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NEW DAY

Mall Siege Enters Day 4; Ted Cruz is Focused on Defunding Obamacare; Critical Test for Obama at U.N.; Married People More Likely To Beat Cancer; Santorum On Shutdown Showdown

Aired September 24, 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)

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I'm not going to reciprocate. If they want to insult me, they can knock themselves out.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you know I didn't make it out of there alive? How did you know?

(MUSIC)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 24th, 8:00 in the East.

Coming up in this hour: threat of a government shutdown. Republicans and Democrats are fighting. That's not unusual. But Republicans are also fighting each other. And with six days to go, some are asking if their stalemate will cost the country and their own party.

Former senator and presidential Rick Santorum is joining us live to discuss that and much more.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the legal wrangling over the girl we once knew as Baby Veronica may be finally over. She's back with her adoptive parents after a case that tested the parents' resolve and the law.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We just told you, but I really think it bears repeating, JT bringing sexy back to NEW DAY. He's talking to our Nischelle Turner about his new film, where he gets his motivation to keep trying new things, always staying relevant. BOLDUAN: First up this hour, though, sustained gunfire heard today at a mall in Kenya where three Kenyan defense force soldiers were killed while taking part in that rescue operation there. Government security officials say the situation involving al Shabaab gunman at Nairobi's Westgate mall is very near the end, they say. Bomb squads are now busy removing devices that have been set up around the mall.

CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is live on the ground there in Nairobi.

What's the latest, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, throughout the morning, and especially in the last hour, we've been hearing more small explosions, followed by brief spurts of gunfire as Kenyan security forces tried to go through and conduct this final sweep throughout the Westgate Mall, just down the street over to the right, trying to bring the situation here fully under control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)\

DAMON (voice-over): The Kenyan government now says it has regained control of the Westgate Mall, but it's still unclear if all of the hostages have been freed after a three-day standoff with Islamist militants. This morning, we're learning more about the attackers who launched the deadly siege. Three have been killed, the exact number of gunmen that remain inside, still unknown.

Kenya's foreign minister told PBS' "NewsHour" that two or three of the militants are young Americans who appear to be of Somali or Arab origin. The State Department is looking into these reports.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Where's the helmet?

(GUNFIRE)

DAMON: Sporadic bursts of gunfire rang out behind our crew on Monday. Plumes of dark spoke rose above the upscale mall after Kenyan authorities say al Shabaab militants set a fire inside the building. This as survivors share their harrowing stories.

Nick Handler was at a cafe at the mall taking care of his almost 2- year-old daughter as his pregnant wife shopped on another floor when --

NICK HANDLER, AMERICAN SURVIVOR OF MALL MASSACRE: Heard a loud explosion or blast followed by some gunshots. I just reached over, grabbed my daughter and just ran out the front door of that cafe as fast as I could without looking back.

DAMON: Handler and his daughter hid in a storage room for three hours before safely reuniting with his wife. The Red Cross says that at least 65 people are unaccounted for or missing. Among them, Janet (INAUDIBLE) husband, she cradles her granddaughter and clings to hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the love of my life. KAMAL KAUR, TRIED TO SAVE CHILDREN DURING MALL MASSACRE: I had about 30, 35 kids with me including two of my own. I was trying to protect them, telling them get down, get down.

DAMON: Kamal Kaur dried desperately to save the children on a cooking show on the roof of the mall on the day of attack.

KAUR: I saw something whiz by my son's head just like that. It bounced from the wall and hit the little boy over here, the poor boy. I tried to put my hand there to stop the bleeding. I don't know what I was doing. I don't know what I was doing but I couldn't save him.

DAMON: Local radio personalities, Alim (ph) and Seema Manji were hosting that cooking show.

SEEMA MANJI, SHOT DURING MALL MASSACRE: I got shot here. I had so much blood everywhere. I thought she was dead and I was holding a dead baby.

DAMON: But the storm of emotions they and so many others here are going through is still so raw.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: And it will be for some time. Our thanks to Arwa Damon.

We want to bring in Dorcas Mwangi. She was trapped in the mall for four hours during the attacks. She said she had to hide under a pile of suitcases and luggage while hearing constant gunfire. We want to hear her story.

Dorcas, can you hear us?

DORCAS MWANGI, SURVIVED KENYA MALL ATTACK: Yes. Yes, I can.

CUOMO: Are you okay? Any injuries suffered when you tried to make it out?

MWANGI: No. I got out without a scratch.

CUOMO: So, tell us, what was it like being inside there? When did you realize what was going on? What was it like with the passing hours? Tell us.

MWANGI: Well, I was in Nakumatt, which is a big store here, equivalent to Walmart in the U.S. It started off with a blackout and the lights came back on. And after that, I heard a loud noise after that. I couldn't quite make out what it was, I thought it was an earthquake.

But having looked around, the building was still. I then heard a series of gunshots. And at this time is when everyone ran. I can't even tell you what directions people ran in. Everyone was running. I ran back into the supermarket called Nakumatt and it was crazy. I can't really remember seeing people run, because I was concerned about running myself to safety. So, I eventually ran upstairs by the suitcases by the suitcases. And that's where I hid.

CUOMO: Now, we understand that there's something that was going on while you were there, that you kept hearing gun shot after gunshot with a pause in between. And somebody told you what they thought was happening.

MWANGI: Yes.

CUOMO: What were you told those gunshots were about?

MWANGI: Well, in the midst of all the chaos, I was actually able to contact my mother, who contacted the rest of my family. They were texting me what was going on. My dad was with the police and my brother was also not too far away.

My brother sent me a Muslim prayer. He was informed by a casualty in hospital that they were shooting non-Muslims. They were shooting those that did not know the Shahad prayer. My brother sent me that prayer to memorize, which I did.

Yes, continuous shots did stop for a moment. I was hearing shots after shots every moment. That kind of synchronized with what I was hearing, which is they were shooting non-Muslims, they're questioning people. And if you were found out to be a non-Muslim, you were shot.

So it did synchronize with what I was being told.

CUOMO: How did you get the strength to overcome your fear and try to escape when you knew that there were gunmen there, you knew people were telling you, if you try to escape, they'll shoot you. How did you overcome that and how did you get out?

MWANGI: It's taking a step with faith. I was praying the whole time. So, I believed that, you know, if I got out, I would be rescued.

I was also texting my father at that time and I asked him whether it was actually true, that the policemen did secure a rescue way from Nakumatt. He told me that it was true and I should follow the Nakumatt employee who told us of the exit.

So, yes, it was taking a step of faith.

CUOMO: Well, luckily, you made it out. As you know, the situation is still ongoing. So, as terrible as it was, you are one of the lucky ones.

Dorcas Mwangi, thank you so much. I'm glad your safe. Hopefully, it ends safely for so many who are still stuck inside. Thank you very much for joining us this morning.

MWANGI: No problem.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Let's move now to the latest on a potential shutdown of the federal government here in Washington, just six days away now. Senator Ted Cruz, he is taking center stage in the drama.

The Texas Republican is standing firm on defunding Obamacare. But Cruz's stance is costing him support within his own party.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash spoke with Cruz. She's on Capitol Hill this morning.

Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is costing him support. But that support Ted Cruz never wanted and, in fact, the whole reason he is in the Senate is because the 42-year-old won a Republican contest in Texas last year with the help of Tea Party supporters, who want him to be a senator not who legislates by negotiating, but by sticking to principle. And that's exactly what he's doing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The way Ted Cruz sees it --

CRUZ: Obamacare is a disaster.

BASH: He is simply keeping a campaign promise -- do whatever it takes to destroy Obamacare.

CRUZ: That should be our priorities. Not simply continuing business as usual in Washington.

BASH: Cruz's scorched earth strategy, tying defunding Obamacare to a must pass bill is enflaming many fellow Republicans, who think if this causes a federal shutdown, they're going to get burned.

Republican Peter King called him a fraud.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: The issues are too important. They're too serious, they require real conservative solutions, not cheap headline-hunting schemes.

BASH: In the Democratic-led Senate, the votes are not there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cruz, no.

BASH: Some of Cruz's Republican colleagues are so miffed it has gotten personal.

Bob Corker tweeted, "I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton," the schools Cruz graduated from, "But I can count."

(on camera): They don't like what you're doing. They don't like what you're putting them through. These are fellow Republicans.

CRUZ: Well, you know, individual politicians can choose to say whatever they want. They can launch whatever personal insults they want. I would note in the House, that the Republicans, including those who have criticized me, voted to defund Obamacare. And in the Senate, I think the votes are very fluid.

BASH (voice-over): To be sure, among many grassroots conservatives, Cruz is a hero. But in the Senate, when on relationships, he has rubbed GOP veterans the wrong way. McCain called him a whacko bird and Cruz is now embracing that.

CRUZ: If they want to insult me, they can knock themselves out. My focus is on the substance of stopping Obamacare. Why? Because it's hurting the American people.

BASH: Now, he's warning Senate Republicans, support his filibuster.

CRUZ: Any senator who votes for closure on this bill is voting to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare with just 51 votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But that is not persuading even his own party leaders. The top two Republican leaders who are already saying that they're not going to support Cruz's filibuster. What that means in practical terms is that Senate Democrats will be able to get the votes to pass a bill, keeping the government open without defunding Obamacare.

The question is how long Cruz is going to let this play out. He has the tools, Chris, to do so until Sunday, one day before the deadline and this goes back to the House, which is led by Republicans, and it's going to be up to them, likely, to prevent a government shutdown.

CUOMO: All right. Dana, and one big question is where the senator's confidence comes from, in terms of his belief that the people want him to fight Obamacare. The way he's doing it certainly upsetting the party.

And just ahead, Kate is going to talk to former senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum and we'll get his take on the shutdown.

BOLDUAN: Another critical test for the president this week. He'll deliver his fifth speech before the United Nations General Assembly today, to focus on two key and pressing foreign policy issues, Iran and Syria.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us here with much more on that.

So, what are you hearing about the president's speech today? It's always dissected, word for word.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is. From talking to administration officials the last 24 hours, they say three big themes in the president's speech at the United Nations General Assembly today, peace in the Middle East, Iran's nuclear program and Syria's chemical weapons program.

Administration officials say diplomatic activity on all of these fronts, not only Syria, but Iran, could result in what one aide called extraordinary successes for the U.S. Aides to the president cautioned the recent potential breakthroughs on Syria's chemical weapons and maybe Iran's nuclear program were only made possible by the pressure applied by the U.S. on both countries and one top White House official stressed again that Iran has to prove it is serious about dealing with international concerns over its nuclear program.

And they note the big development, that Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting with Iran's foreign minister. That meeting is now scheduled for Thursday, and expect the president to touch on some of the setbacks to the Arab Spring.

Now, you've also been talking about Kenya, administration officials also say the president will likely spend time on the terrorist attack on the mall in Kenya. The president, as you heard yesterday, offered his sympathies to the victims. But aides say the administration is concerned about that kind of terrorism being on the rise in Africa.

BOLDUAN: And on the issue of Iran, what are you hearing about the potential that President Obama will meet with President Rouhani? I mean, these things don't happen by chance.

ACOSTA: No, they don't. And actually, they were asked that yesterday. Could this just happen by happenstance? They said no, these sorts of things don't happen by happenstance.

But what they are saying is, we checked with them this morning -- nothing is on the schedule as of now.

BOLDUAN: It's the official word.

ACOSTA: But I talk to senior White House -- a senior administration official earlier this morning who basically said the White House has left the door open to some kind of face-to-face meeting with Rouhani. So, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens -- if it happens in the hallway, where, you know, aides to both presidents usher them together so they can have this handshake.

And think how extraordinary this is. A president has not met with the president of Iran since the 1970s, since the shah and Jimmy Carter before the Iran hostage crisis. If this happens today, it will be huge and will be historic.

BOLDUAN: What does it mean after that? That is a big question.

ACOSTA: That is the big question. Where does it go from here? Absolutely. You bet.

BOLDUAN: Jim, great to see you.

ACOSTA: Great to see you as well.

BOLDUAN: All right. A lot of news developing at this hour. So, let's get right to Michaela -- Mick.

PEREIRA: In fact, we have some breaking news. Just in to CNN, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Pakistan, the quake hitting southeast Pakistan. Right now, no word on damage nor casualties. But we will monitor and bring you any new information as we get it.

A young girl is back with her adoptive parents, the apparent end of a long-running custody and bitter dispute. The girl once known as Baby Veronica was handed over last night after a ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

After her adoption, the little girl was returned to her father, thanks to a law promoting the stability of Indian tribes. But now, the trial is back with Matt and Melanie Copobianco. We'll have much more on this ongoing story coming up later this hour.

Two men now under arrest for last week shootings in a park in Chicago that wounded 13 people, but police don't believe either of them was actually the one that pulled the trigger. Detectives will only say that suspects, (INAUDIBLE) and Brian Champ (ph) allegedly played significant roles in the shooting/

They're facing attempted murder charges. You'll recall a three-year- old boy was wounded in that attack, which Chicago police believe was gang related.

The U.S. naval caught unaware as senior naval official says Navy Yard gunman, Aaron Alexis, 2004 arrest for shooting out a vehicle's tires came to light after last week's massacre. The senior navy official says a personnel report used to determine security clearance didn't mention a gun, only that Alexis had deflated the tires on a construction worker's vehicle.

As you recall, Alexis opened fire at a Navy Yard last week, killing 12 people. Eight people were wounded.

Being married may be the best way to beat cancer. Researchers in Boston report married people with cancer are 20 percent less likely to die from the disease than those who are single, widowed, separated, or divorced. That holds true for all types of cancer. Scientists who conducted the study conclude the real secret to surviving cancer may be social support.

Here's the question. How do you stand out in a crowd? Well, Joel Salter ran the whole quad city's annual marathon in Moline, Illinois, backwards. Oh, and add to that, he juggled the entire time. 26.2 miles, nearly six hours later, making him what you would call an extreme juggler.

See that, what I did there, Kate?

CUOMO: That was good.

PEREIRA: He said doing this was on his bucket list. So, he checked that off. Done. He's also did a triathlon while juggling. My question is, how does one swim and ride a bicycle, part of the triathlon, while juggling? So, I think he only ran --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And, he has two extra arms. PEREIRA: And he could swim on his back and juggle. I'm just offering you options here.

BOLDUAN: We're impressed regardless of how he pulled it off.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Unicycle is much stronger --

BOLDUAN: Unicycle is not easy.

CUOMO: And the juggling world.

PEREIRA: Oh, and you have people in the juggling world?

CUOMO: Yes. I know a guy.

PEREIRA: You know a guy.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. Is that cheating, Carter (ph), easier?

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Good question, right? Yes. Juggle and give us the forecast.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. No way.

(LAUGHTER)

PETERSONS: Nope, not even going to happen right now. We're definitely talking about just cold weather. And if that is all we're talking about, we are in good shape across the country. Northeast pretty mild as you're waking up this morning, a lot of 40s, even some 50s are out there. But even on the upside today, it is still going to be rebounding. We're going to be talking about average temperatures by the afternoon.

A lot of 70s are still going to be with us. New York City looking for 72, Boston only about 67, but D.C. looking for 75 degrees. So, pretty nice out there. And just take a look across the country, I mean, pretty dry. The only real big story -- it's probably going to make headlines overnight tonight is our first real system that's bringing, yes, snow.

We're looking at snow across the cascades and the Northern Rockies and not just a little hit. Not like that inch. We're talking about a couple feet above 7,000 feet. And I do not want to be talking about snow just yet. I thought we just started fall, guys. And what is wrong here?

BOLDUAN: Summer ends, and now, we're talking snow. That's just the way it is, right?

PETERSONS: Wrong and more wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I don't know. You're in a little bit of a seasonal disorder.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You have to be more at one with changing of seasons. There's a scientist.

PETERSONS: Working on it.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Keep working on it.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the clock is ticking just six days before the government comes to a screeching halt. Will Democrats and Republicans find some way to come together and avoid a government shutdown? We're going to talk to a former GOP president candidate, Rick Santorum. Talk about Obamacare, the looming shutdown, but also this, he has a bit of a career change you'll want to know about. Taking on movies.

CUOMO: Politics is feeling like bad stuff, so we're going to give you some good stuff. Get ready to meet an extraordinary young man, a Dairy Queen manager steps up, does the right thing when someone swipes a blind customer's money. What? It happened. But wait until you hear what he did. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. We are just six days away from a government shutdown if Congress cannot come together and reach an agreement on what's known as the continuing resolution or plain and simply, just to keep the government up and running.

Joining us now to talk about a little bit about this, the former senator from Pennsylvania, 2012 presidential candidate, and now, Rick Santorum has a new role, CEO of a movie studio. Many questions about that one since you clearly have too much free time.

RICK SANTORUM, FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Seven kids and just sort of hanging out.

BOLDUAN: Just sort of hanging out. I want to get to that, but let's talk about first the latest crisis coming out of Washington. You're a senator. You know how this stuff works. You know better than anybody. What do you think of this approach that has been championed by Senator Ted Cruz, tying funding the government with defunding Obamacare?

SANTORUM: Yes. I guess my feeling is I would be with Ted Cruz in the sense that what happens in Washington, D.C. is everybody sort of just sort of muddles together and tries to sort of work things out. And, when you have a president and a Senate controlled by one party, that means generally speaking if you want more limited government, it's going to be a bad deal. Unless someone can plant a flag and say, no, we're going to pull this discussion this way a little bit and not just do business as usual. And I think that's what Ted, Mike Lee and others have done. And I think that's a good thing. You know, we're -- it's too soon to tell whether the strategy has worked or not.

Will it move the debate this way? But I think that's really, ultimately, what I think Ted is trying to accomplish. And I think he certainly is pulling out all the bullets to get it done.

BOLDUAN: Then, what's your advice to your party? Because what people are seeing -- often, the inter-party fights are in private, but it's very public. Fellow Republicans coming out and saying Ted Cruz is putting them in a bad spot. He's out of control and he's way over the line.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Is it worth it standing on principle when you know, in reality, this is going nowhere --

SANTORUM: I can say I've been accused of putting my party in a bad spot repeatedly when I was in the Senate, and sometimes, you have to do that. You have to make people uncomfortable, because people do get too comfortable in sort of cutting the deal. You know, I'm all for compromise. But compromising on more of what people want to do to grow government is a bad compromise.

Compromising on doing, you know, a little bit less, of shrinking government, is a good compromise and that's what we're trying to move to, trying to do something to limit the impact of Obamacare on this country. And I think that's what everybody is focused on and that's a good thing.

BOLDUAN: And Republicans all do agree they do want to eliminate or limit Obamacare --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: How much they're willing to fight is the real question.

BOLDUAN: When you got the two options, though, people affected by government shutdown or giving funding for Obamacare, how do you choose --

SANTORUM: Nothing happens in Washington without brinkmanship. I mean, that's just the way it works. I mean, it's not a very pretty thing, but that's how a policy is made. You have to have, you know -- you have to have --

BOLDUAN: So, you shut down the government?

SANTORUM: You have to have stops. You have to have, you know, you have to have, some threat out there. Otherwise, nobody takes you seriously.

BOLDUAN: Taking him seriously now --

SANTORUM: They are.

BOLDUAN: -- for the right reason?

SANTORUM: We'll see. I mean, look, I mean, you're asking me to make a decision on something that we haven't seen play out yet. And I think, you know, we'll wait and see how they handle it going down the stretch.

BOLDUAN: You're absolutely right about that. Real quick, I want to ask you. The president is in New York, addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Do you think that he should meet with the president of Iran?

SANTORUM: The president of the United States should never meet with someone who's not the president of their country. The leader of the Iran is the mullahs in charge, is the Ayatollah. He is the leader of -- this guy is a puppet that they put up. The president of the United States should not meet with a puppet. That diminishes the presidency and diminishes the United States even further. So --

BOLDUAN: So, no hope there?

SANTORUM: No way he should be meeting with this fraud as far as I'm concerned.

BOLDUAN: Strong statement. A very strange but awkward term, but I do want to ask you about this career that you have picked up. So, why are you taking on movies? You started a production company, Echo Light Studios.

SANTORUM: Echo Light Studios.

BOLDUAN: Too much free time?

SANTORUM: No. One of the things I found in politics is that the culture has a huge impact on Washington, D.C. and the country is going. And certainly, that is clearly the case. I mean, and so, what we've done is form a company that is going to make inspirational films about hope and about optimism. Certainly, something we need a lot of. And the first film that we're coming out with is a film called "The Christmas Candle."

We're going to be releasing it theoretically in November 22nd. We're really excited. It's based on a book by Max Lucado who's a best- selling author.

BOLDUAN: And Susan Boyle is in this movie.

SANTORUM: And Susan Boyle. Yes. The singer, she actually sings a beautiful original song. It's a Christmas song. How about a Christmas movie for Christmas time. A novel idea.

BOLDUAN: It doesn't happen often these days. SANTORUM: You know what, it actually does not. We're actually the only movie out this season that's actually going to have some Christmas theme to it. So, we're really excited. We think we got a great cast. Samantha Barks who's from "Les Miserables."

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Movie exec, former presidential candidate, former senator, will we have a current presidential candidate in the future, senator?

SANTORUM: Well, let's -- you know, right now, I'm focused on making sure that we provide, you know, really good, quality, family entertainment, and you know, we sort of wait and see how it goes from there. But I'm excited about our opportunity here. I think we've got a great film. And, you know, we've got some really interesting things to come.

BOLDUAN: I will be waiting here along with our viewers to see. Senator Santorum, great to see you.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very, very much. And hello to your family.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, a bitter custody battle between a biological father and adoptive parents. So, who will care for the Cherokee girl known as Baby Veronica? We'll tell you.

Also, talk about bittersweet. A Dairy Queen manager puts the freeze on a heartless customer. But where is his reward? We'll tell you, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)