Return to Transcripts main page


Cruz's Talking Wont' Change the Law; How Obamacare will Affect You; Workplace Shooting in New York; Workplace Shooting on Long Island; Iranian President Rouhani Speaks

Aired September 25, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Sara Sidner. Suzanne Malveaux is off today.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you, Sara.

I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks, everyone, for your company.

Well, the man who would not stop talking, Senator Ted Cruz, well, he might have to stop soon. He's about to wind down because of Senate rules, apparently, 21 hours after he began.

SIDNER: The Texas Republican, a Tea Party darling, pulled an all- nighter, blasting Obamacare at times with almost no one in the chamber. The bold freshman senator is trying to stall the Senate from taking out the part of the House spending bill that pulls funding from Obamacare. He has just an hour left before -- no, actually less, a few minutes before -- he's been cut off. All right, it looks like the prayer is happening now. So he has been cut off. And then the procedural vote is supposed to happen at 1:00. So in an hour. So it looks like finally after 20 plus hour, he's finally quiet.

HOLMES: Yes. They're doing the prayer now to start off the session, and that's what stopped him. Let's listen in for a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As reverberated with a marathon of speaking. Help us to remember to direct our thoughts and words toward your throne in continuous prayer for our nation. You have challenged us to pray without ceasing.

HOLMES: All right, we'll leave it there. The prayer underway there in the Senate to start off the session. And a lot of those who have been listening to Senator Cruz for the last 21 hours or so are saying that their prayers have been answered.

SIDNER: Finally. It has been a pretty wacky time inside of the Senate, that's for sure.

HOLMES: exactly.

SIDNER: Let's talk about who Ted Cruz is actually. He's a freshman Republican senator, elected last year in Texas with huge Tea Party grass roots. He's got that backing. Of course, the 42-year-old was elected on the promise to shrink government, especially the new health care legislation. Cruz was the youngest solicitor general of Texas and argued cases before the Supreme Court. He got his start at Princeton as head of the debate team, then honed his debating skills at Harvard Law School. Cruz has hinted at a possible presidential run in 2016.

HOLMES: Yes. This talk of the town, boy, the talk of the town is the right word for it, too, and he's been called a fraud and a whacko and that's by some of his own Republican colleagues.

SIDNER: Right.

HOLMES: Let's have a look at some of the highlights, if that's the right word.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.

Most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington. Who cares? What the American people care about is their own lives.

On a Saturday or Sunday morning, when your dad's making pancake, it is very cool when he can like flip them and make them - you know, make them do a flip high in the air and catch him. He also, I will credit my father, he invented, this wasn't for the restaurant but he did it anyway, he invented green eggs and ham.

I don't believe there's been a day on this Senate floor that I haven't worn my argument boots. I took the coward's way out. And so went and purchased some black tennis shoes.

I am not in my argument boots and I'll confess, I really do feel embarrassed by that.

Some people dismiss, oh, single payer, this is designed to go there. You know, that's just crazy, tinfoil hat-wearing stuff. You know, there's an old saying, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

If you will forgive me, I want to take the opportunity to read two bedtime story to my girls.

I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam I am.

Note folks in the gallery who just waved. I'm not sure if they have their -- they do have their electronics. Well, if you tweet, it may end up here and I may have the chance to read it.

I want to point out just a few words of wisdom from "Duck Dynasty." Red neck rule number one, most things can be fixed with duct tape and extension cords.

I will say standing here after 14 hour, standing on your own feet, there's sometimes some pain, sometimes some fatigue that is involved. But you know what? There's far more pain involved in rolling over. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: So we heard "The Cat in the Hat," we heard about tinfoil hats, we heard about red neck rules from "Duck Dynasty."

HOLMES: Nazi appeasement. I mean this ran the gamut, didn't it?

SIDNER: It definitely was a rant. But no matter what Cruz does, he will not have the votes to push this spending bill that defunds Obamacare through the Senate.

HOLMES: Nope. Without some kind of bill, though, we are less than a week away from a potential U.S. government shutdown, or at least partial shutdown. One that promises to damage an already fragile economy.

SIDNER: Our Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill with more on the political wrangling going on at the moment.

Dana, first of all, why doesn't Cruz have a shot at getting the bill with the Obamacare amendment through?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because so many of his fellow Republicans are not going to vote with him in this initial, procedural vote, but more importantly, the Senate is run by Democrats. They have the votes. And they have enough votes to block defunding Obamacare.

But I just want to point out one quick thing, which I know we had at the bottom of our screen and have it now. Just moments ago, right before you came on the air, Ted Cruz sat down in his seat for the first time in more than 21 hours. So he ended his long run of standing on his feet. Now, technically, technically, he didn't have to do that. The Senate majority leader, who's on the floor now, his office says that he could have had another hour up until this vote that we're going to see at the top of the hour but he, you know, decided that this is his time when the Senate reset, when you saw the prayer and the pledge and so forth, so he sat down. So that was definitely a moment of theatre in this long evening of theatre that we have seen all night long.

You played a lot of - Michael and Sara, you played a lot of the perhaps off beat comments that he made, but he did spend a lot of time talking about why he thinks, on its merits, Obamacare is the wrong way to go for this country. And he had help from maybe seven or eight fellow Republicans. Most of them that -- young Turks, in his words, that he used. Some of the old gray beards came down.

But that sort of brings me to the real answer to your question, which is, many people who are his Republican colleagues think that this is a fool's errand (ph) because the Democrats run the Senate, because they are ultimately not going to have the votes to defund Obamacare while funding the government, and that they are going to risk a government shutdown and Republicans will get blamed. That is the reason why he is really pushing up against the grain here and it is why when we see this vote at the top of the hour, it is likely to be very lopsided against Ted Cruz's wishes.

HOLMES: Yes, theater indeed, Dana. And in many minds, theatre of the absurd. And a lot of people saying makes a mockery of the process, especially when, you know, what's going to happen next is a foregone conclusion. I mean, really, what's the point?

BASH: The point is that we're talking about it. The point is that he was able to get leading on Twitter, trending on Twitter, "make D.C. listen," which was his hash tag, that he is able to reach his supporters who supported him to get into the Senate and may support him for higher ambition that he and some of his other colleagues have. That is really the key point. And others argue that, yes, this was a predetermined timeline, that we're going to see these series of votes. But you know what, that's why the founders created the Senate. It is supposed to be the place where people can talk and talk and talk and we saw it.

HOLMES: All right, Dana, thanks so much. Dana Bash there on Capitol Hill.

SIDNER: Well, there's a lot of confusion about the new health insurance legislation. President Obama says it will begin to fix an ailing health care system.

HOLMES: And Republicans, of course, hate the plan, but what is it really mean for regular folks? Christine Romans joins us now from New York.

And, you know, Christine, I think we're getting a better idea now of that all important issue of cost.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Absolutely. And the cost for the uninsured and people who currently don't have health insurance through their employer, we're finally getting more information. These health care exchanges opened for enrollment on Tuesday. We're getting a look now at the price tags that are going to go along with the gold, silver and bronze plans for insurance coverage. These are price tags the president thinks you're going to be happy with.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When people look and see that they can get high quality, affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they're going to sign up.


ROMANS: For less than your cell phone bill. That is the key here. And for a majority of people who are uninsured, they could get coverage for $100 or less. So, let me show it to you.

Today, for the first time, the federal government giving us hard numbers. The headline, $328. Health and Human Services says it's the national average premium for a silver plan. That's before subsidies. And that is 60 percent less than the Congressional Budget Office projected. So, cheaper than they had thought it would be. That number is just an average, though. A lot depends on where you live, how old you are, the size of your family. So let me give you a couple of examples that come from HHS. They show this example.

A single 27-year-old in Texas making $25,000 a year would pay $83 a month for the lowest bronze plan. That's the basic entry level plan. Why only 83? Because they would get subsidies because of the pay level of $25,000 a year. Upgrading that coverage to silver will cost them $145 a month.

Let's look at another example. A family of four, also in Texas, making $50,000 a year would pay $57 a month for the bronze plan and then $282 a month for silver, also after subsidies. Now, the White House says most people who are uninsured today will be able to find those policies for $100 or less a month, again, after their subsidies.

And for all of you out there trying to figure out, what is it going to cost to me, you will know for sure next week when enrollment begins on October 1st, you guys.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

SIDNER: All right.

HOLMES: You can jump online and find out.

Christine Romans breaking it down for us. Thanks, Christine. Good to see you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SIDNER: Well, it's been three decades since the leaders of the United States and Iran have met face to face and so far President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani have not come together. Why the handshake hasn't happened.

Plus, CNN talks with the newly elected Iranian president to see if he's willing to make amends with the United States.


PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: I would like to say to American people, I bring peace.


SIDNER: Plus, an about face of sorts for Iran's leadership. President Rouhani acknowledges the Holocaust. Something his predecessors said never happened.

HOLMES: Also coming up here on AROUND THE WORLD, Pope Benedict XVI says he never tried to cover things up. That's the now retired pope. Why he's responding to criticism over his handling of the catholic priest sex abuse scandal.

That and a lot more still to come. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HOLMES: We've been monitoring some information coming to us out of Garden City, New York. A shooting apparently having taken place. Two people shot. Conditions unknown. Susan Candiotti is on the phone now.

Susan, what else have you been able to find out?


We're out here in the vicinity of where that shooting happened. Police are telling me that it appears to be a workplace shooting involving a man who's a former employee, who walked into his former business and then opened fire, hitting two employees. We do not know what kind of company this is. We do not know the conditions of the two employees who were shot allegedly by the man who used to work there. Don't know what kind of a gun. Don't know how many shots were fired. But then the suspect, police say, fled the scene in a white SUV described as a Honda with New York plates.

Now, protectively, police have shut down a huge shopping mall called Roosevelt Field Mall, which is in the vicinity of where the shooting took place. Again, they're doing this as a precaution. Actually not letting anyone in or out, both employees and customers, until they're able to revolve what happened here.


SIDNER: It looks like - and we're just showing some live pictures from a helicopter and they're showing - there's apparently a school nearby. There were some kids outside playing. And I'm sure there are concerns there, especially after this mall attack in Kenya. How many officers are out there? I mean are we talking about a huge number of people considering what was going on in Kenya and the fear that there could be, for example, copy cats in this situation?

CANDIOTTI: It's just -- it does not -- there does not appear to be any connection to the shopping mall, which is in the vicinity right now. Again, this is a man described by police as a former employee who ran into this business and started shooting people. The mall is in the area, but is not believed to be connected to the shooting at this time.

But, of course, as a precaution, it's not surprising that, with 275 stores and a huge parking lot and the like, they're asking people to stay in, not go in, not go out.

And they have police cars posted at the entrances to the shopping mall's huge parking lot to prevent people from going in or trying to get into that area.

And, of course, any schools in the area have also been warned to be on guard because this man did flee the scene, is considered to be armed and dangerous.


HOLMES: All right, Susan Candiotti, thanks so much, there on the spot.

Just repeating, two people apparently shot at a workplace. There's a lockdown at a local mall, but out of an abundance of caution, apparently.

We're continuing to monitor developments, bring you any updates as we get them.

All right, we're going to take a short break now on AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back, though. Plenty more to come.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

New York City, the United Nations, well, it must be the second day of the annual General Assembly.

SIDNER: All right, we're going to go live, pictures now from the podium.

On the schedule for later today, the leaders of Italy, Serbia and Spain will speak, as well as many more.

The stage will hold presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, practically all day, every day until next Tuesday.

President Obama spoke yesterday, so did the presidents of Brazil, France and Iran.

HOLMES: It is a never-ending list and a new one just came up there.

It was the Iranian president's interview with our own Christiane Amanpour that got more people talking than anything he said on the United Nations' stage, actually.

President Hassan Rouhani broke wide widely from his predecessor, the always entertaining but rarely accurate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and did acknowledge that the Holocaust actually happened.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): That any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable.

Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn. The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference whether that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim.


SIDNER: Our international chief correspondent Christiane Amanpour is with us now from New York. We're glad to have you here.

I have to ask you a question. We heard the word "moderate" many, many, many times.

But this is a real change from what Ahmadinejad used to say about the Holocaust. Were you surprised to hear President Hassan Rouhani acknowledge the Holocaust did happen?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wasn't surprised. I was hoping that he would say what he thought about it, and let's see what the Iranian president, the new Iranian president, has to say about it because what Ahmadinejad did was by his reprehensible Holocaust-denying and anti-Semitism in public was create a massive backlash, obviously amongst the world Jews, obviously amongst many, many people around the world, and created an incredibly bad reputation, worse reputation, for Iran and for the Iranian people.

So I was very interested to know whether this was something that was going to be continued under this new president, so I'm pleased, as a human being, that he actually acknowledged historical facts.

I think beyond that, also, he did something quite extraordinary. He didn't even mention the word, Israel, in his U.N. speech. Ahmadinejad used to rail against it all the time.

He actually quoted from the Torah, and said to me how much they respect the Torah, the holy book, the Prophet Moses, and I think he was genuinely trying to make up for the very bad relationship over the last eight years.

But on other issues, such as the nuclear issue. from the podium, he promised that Iran wasn't building and wouldn't build a nuclear weapon. Obviously, all Iranian leaders have that. The issue is of a lack of confidence for the rest of the world, so I tried to push him on where these new negotiations might go.

He himself was a former chief nuclear negotiator, so he wasn't going to negotiate with me on television.

But he did say that perhaps the Arak heavy-water facility in Iran, which many people are very worried about, they think perhaps that could be used to extract plutonium and create a second route towards a military weapon if Iran decided to do that, perhaps that could be on the table, the actual bringing that facility online in this regard. So, I thought that was interesting.

And he spoke about a lot of things, including the relationship with the United States. And I asked him why didn't he meet with President Obama.


ROUHANI (via translator): There were some talks about it, in fact, to perhaps arrange for a meeting between President Obama and myself, so that given the opportunity, we can talk with each other, and preparation for the work was done a bit as well. The United States declared its interest in having such a meeting and, in principle, could have, under certain circumstances, allowed it to happen, but I believe we didn't have sufficient time to really coordinate the meeting.

But speaking of the ice-breaking that you mentioned, it's already beginning to break because the environment is changing and that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of relations between the people of Iran and the rest of the world.


AMANPOUR: And he is actually right. The people of Iran by a vast majority for years and years and years have wanted relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world, normal relations.

But here now is an opportunity because, for the first time in a long time, it appears this president has the backing of the person who holds all the political cards, which is the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

He told me that he has authority from Khamenei to negotiate, even to talk directly to the United States, whether it's between him and President Obama or whether it's between their foreign ministers, who are going to be talking directly for the first time. That will happen I believe this week, tomorrow, regarding the nuclear issue and other issues.

So, there is a window of opportunity, but as he said, diplomacy is a two-way street and they have to compromise, and they hope the West will as well. We'll see how it goes.

HOLMES: And, of course, you know, he's only able to talk like that while he does have the support of the supreme leader.

I'm curious. What do you think he needs to take back to Iran for this to be successful? Because the rapprochement mood, if you like, can be a short-term thing if nothing comes of it.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's exactly right. These moderates are often swept away, like Khatami was, if there's nothing to show for it. You're absolutely right.

And obviously, the West demands, needs, requires confidence-building measures so that the Iranian nuclear program is utterly transparent.

The West and President Obama has even said they should have access to a civilian nuclear program, but that they can never be allowed to make a weapon.

They say they're not going to, so the issue is total transparency on the Iranian side and other methodologies regarding their enrichment level, regarding centrifuges, and again, regarding this heavy-water plutonium plant. From their side, they, of course, want sanctions lifted. And it is going to be a very heavy lift to get them lifted because a lot of them have been put on by the U.S. Congress. There are obviously U.N. sanctions. There are also E.U. sanctions.

So that's going to be a slow and painful, painstaking process, and the compromises on both sides again to be very, very, very painful for both sides for their bases.

So, they both sides express a willingness, but are both sides and is the United States and the West ready to actually do the kind of thing that they might not want to do, and that is lift sanctions, or at least start some kind of what the Iranian call proportional reciprocity?

SIDNER: And I think people are wondering if this is really just going to be a change in tone or a real change in substance. Everybody will be watching that.

Great interview and we look forward to seeing the full interview.

HOLMES: Also, great interview, yes. We look forward to seeing the full interview.

And also you spoke to President Hollande of France as well, which we'll also see.

So, thanks very much, Christiane, good "get" as we say in the business.

Coming up, Pope Benedict XVI -- yeah, the XVI -- he says he never tried to cover things up.

Why he's responding to criticism over his handling of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal, we'll have that and more when we come back.