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Senator Cruz Speaks on Senate Floor Against Obamacare; Iranian President Speaks to U.N. General Assembly; Attack on Kenyan Mall Ended; Zero Tolerance Gone Too Far?

Aired September 25, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, September 25th, 7:00 in the east. We are watching some high political drama playing out this morning. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas still at it. This is a live look at the Senate floor. He spent the night right there on the senator floor railing against funding the president's health care law as part of a deal to keep the government from shutting down. This all started right before 3:00 yesterday afternoon.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Technically this isn't a filibuster, right, because Cruz doesn't have enough -- there's not enough process going on. He doesn't have enough votes to stop the bill that will keep the government and Obamacare defunded. So the question is, what's going on here? Normally you might dismiss a situation like this, but the shutdown is looming. The stakes are high. Let's go live to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House monitoring the situation. Good morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The Cruz-a-thon is still Cruz-ing. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been talking for more than 16 hours now in his effort to defund Obamacare. He's had some occasional help along the way with other like-minded senators stepping in to give him the occasional break. But the president is also getting a helping hand from some big guns as he makes sure his signature law is up and running.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: From Washington, it was the late show with Ted Cruz as the Republican senator seized control of the Senate floor --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The senator from Texas.

ACOSTA: -- to delivers a marathon speech hour --

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

ACOSTA: -- after hour.

CRUZ: Let me read some tweets. ACOSTA: Tearing into Obamacare, a law he wants to take down once and for all in exchange for funding the government.

CRUZ: The American people are frustrated because their elected officials don't listen.

ACOSTA: At times --

CRUZ: I love this story, so I'm going it read it to you.

ACOSTA: -- veering off subject.

CRUZ: I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.

ACOSTA: But up in New York, President Obama was putting on a show of his own, appearing with Bill and Hillary Clinton to make one in a series of upcoming sales pitches on his health care law.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts and so forth have been trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.

ACOSTA: But Obamacare faces a key test. In less than one week, on October 1st, new online marketplaces open for business across the country, giving the uninsured their first shot at buying into health care plans.

OBAMA: What we want to make sure of is that everybody in every category, every age group, understands why health insurance is important, understands why they should sign up.

ACOSTA: But Cruz and some other Republicans say they'll only vote for a measure that averts a government shutdown if it also defunds Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defund Obamacare!

ACOSTA: The problem for the Tea Party Texan, Senate Republican leaders have all but abandoned Cruz's failing quest.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I just don't happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare. All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded, and none of us want that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now it will start to get complicated later today, Chris and Kate. I just finished talking by e-mail with a top Senate Republican aide who said that later today Senator Cruz from a procedural standpoint will have to give up the Senate floor. At that point Senate Democratic leaders will be able to start moving this legislation out of the Senate.

But Texas Senator Ted Cruz has the ability now to slow this process down. He can call for more debate, and all of this could stretch into the weekend, which means, guys, that if this doesn't pass the Senate and get out of the Senate and go back to the House until late Saturday or perhaps even on Sunday, this is going to take this fight over this temporary spending bill and Obamacare right up to the edge of a government shutdown. So this could be a very long weekend for lawmakers up on Capitol Hill.

BOLDUAN: As usual, it looks like it will go right down to the wire.

CRUZ: Yes, that's right.

BOLDUAN: Jim Acosta, thanks so much. We'll talk to you in a bit.

So Iran poses no threat to the world. That is according to the country's newly elected president, making his debut at the U.N. General Assembly where, of course, President Obama also spoke yesterday. Both speaking about new opportunities for progress on Iran's nuclear program. But is it all just talk? Senior national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here with more on that. That's the question that no one can answer at this moment.

JIM SCUITTO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. Our Christiane Amanpour of course pressed the Iranian president on this meeting that wasn't, and his answer was they considered it seriously, crucially they had a green light from Tehran, but diplomacy takes time, he says, and this wasn't the right time. So that meeting we'd been waiting for, the first between an American and Iranian president in more than 30 years, will have to wait for another time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCUITTO: The historic handshake didn't materialize. President Obama was ready, say White House officials, but President Rouhani was not. Still, from the safer distance of the podium, both leaders called for a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and Iran, even using nearly the exact same phrase to describe a new basis for relations.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

SCUITTO: "Iron seeks constructive engagement with other countries," said the Iranian president, "based on mutual respect and common interest."

President Rouhani also spoke exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: I would like to say to American people, I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.

SCUITTO: In an ambitious move -- OBAMA: I am directing John Kerry --

SCUITTO: -- Obama publicly directed Secretary of State John Kerry, seated in the audience not far from his Iranian counterpart, to immediately pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran, though he cautioned the U.S. must know Iran is serious.

OBAMA: To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.

SCUITTO: What might the U.S. need to see in any potential deal? The disclosure of all of Iran's nuclear sites, a reduction in the number of centrifuges, and a cap on uranium enrichment levels at no more than five percent, well below the 90 percent threshold to make a nuclear weapon. Many Iran observers are skeptical that's possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we should trust Rouhani. I think we should test Rouhani. And I think that's where the Obama administration is, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCUITTO: Reporter: It may very well have been domestic politics in Iran that kept the Iranian president from doing this. He faces stiff opposition from hard-liners to this outreach to the U.S., much as President Obama faces opposition here for accepting this outreach. But all is not lost. There's another important meeting this Thursday between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif. That's where the meat and potatoes of this relationship is. They're going to be talking about a nuclear deal.

Even without this handshake, when we think of where we were two weeks ago or last year in the U.S.-Iranian relationship, we're in a much better place today that I don't think many people would have expected.

BOLDUAN: That's a really good point. And that analyst put it really well, don't trust Rouhani, test Rouhani.

SCUITTO: Absolutely, trust but verify.

BOLDUAN: There you go. We'll say it over and over again. Great to see you.

Next hour we talk with Christiane Amanpour. She spoke exclusively with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani. You don't want to miss that.

CUOMO: So the big question is how are these overtures being perceived in Iran? For that part of the story, let's go to Reza Sayah. He's live in Iran. Reza, good morning.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Let me put it this way, many Iranians are having a love with their new president, Hassan Rouhani. They love his mannerisms and conciliatory tone. They see this as an opportunity to improve relations with the U.S. and the west. Certainly you still have the hardliners, the anti- U.S. hawks who are concerned, but the mood here is dominated by optimism.

We haven't spoken to a single Iranian who told us they don't want U.S.-Iran relations to improve. If that happens, it's the Iranian people who will gain the most. Remember, this is one of the most cultured, educated and sophisticated populations in the region, but they suffered for years under these economic sanctions that have let the high cost of living, inflation, unemployment, travel restrictions. They want all of that to go away and they see this as a golden opportunity by improving relations with Washington. The key is the nuclear program, can they hammer out an agreement? The world will be watching. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Reza, great to see you. Thank you so much.

So three days of mourning is under way in Kenya following that bloody four-day slaughter at a Nairobi mall. The siege left at least 61 people dead. Kenya's president says his country is bloodied but unbowed, and insists the al Shabaab terrorists who stormed the building last Saturday have been shamed and defeated. And now we have new images of the suspects inside the mall. CNN international correspondent Arwa Damon has more for us live in Nairobi. Good morning, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, SENIOR CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. We have new information on exactly how it was that these militants were able to carry out that horrific terrorist plot at the Westgate mall just down the road here, and also dramatic new video of how one family managed to escape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: The four-day standoff finally coming to an end on Tuesday after Kenyan forces swept through the partially collapsed mall, searching for victims presumably buried beneath the rubble and clearing each floor of attackers, five of them found dead.

CNN has learned that the fire the militant set on Monday was an escape attempt, the gunmen hoping to create a smoke screen. Two of them drove out from the parking lot, a senior government official says they forced them back in. Among the terrorists, reports of a white woman who Kenyan government officials say may have been killed early on in the siege, leading to speculation that it could be Samantha Lewthwaite, a British mother, fugitive, and suspected terrorist, the infamous "White Widow," impossible to confirm until forensic examination is complete.

CNN has also learned that during the siege, the terrorist did not respond to negotiation efforts, a senior government official saying they weren't interested in hostage-taking, only killing. "The New York Times" is reporting that the plot to attack Nairobi's Westgate mall was crafted weeks or possibly months in advance by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

We're also getting a closer look at those terrifying moments inside the mall during the massacre. This woman huddling with two children, hiding away from the gunman is one of the defining images of this massacre. Now we are seeing the daring rescue when plain-clothed police officers escort the trio to safety.

The British tabloid "The Sun" is reporting that this four-year-old boy identified as Elliott Pryor stood up to the gunmen saying "You're a bad guy" after they shot his mother, his heroic act surprisingly allowing the militant to let the family leave. But the ordeal for this country is far from over.

UHURU KENYATTA, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: We have ashamed and defeated our attackers. These cowards will meet justice as will their accomplices and patrons wherever they are.

DAMON: Many still searching for their missing loved ones, and so many questions remain unanswered.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: Now, the Kenyan authorities are saying that they have detained 11 suspects who were possibly part of the support team, although they're not ruling out that they may have been involved in the attack itself, those detentions happening both at the airport and within the city itself. Additionally, a lot of the unanswered questions, there might be clues as to what took place still underneath the rubble. That's what authorities are saying. Forensic teams on the ground right now, along with security teams as well at this stage. Kate, Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, Arwa, thank you so much for that update.

CUOMO: All right, a lot of news developing. So let's get over to Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we want to tell you about a manhunt that's continuing now for a Nevada teenager police say killed his mother and brother and lived with the bodies for a few days before running off. Police are looking for Adrian Navarro Canales. Police found the victims Friday after multiple phone calls from relatives who couldn't get in touch with them. Authorities on the Mexico border have also been alerted.

He needs to go and now, that's what members of two activist groups in Montana are saying about the judge who sentenced a former teacher to just 30 days in jail for the rape of a 14-year-old student. That girl ended up killing herself. Activist groups collecting 140,000 signatures, filing a formal complaint to get him removed from the bench. The former teacher, Stacey Rambold, is set to get out of prison tomorrow as an appeal challenging his sentence as illegal is pending.

A new California law is giving teenagers a chance to erase their past. The "eraser button" law allows minors to ask companies to delete videos and pictures they posted of themselves. Advocates say the content shouldn't have to remain online where it could be held against someone applying for college or a job. But some argue since the content is the shared, forwarded, and downloaded endlessly, the law is practically useless.

Another new California law makes the paparazzi keep their distance from children. It increases the punishment for harassing them, taking photos and video without their parent's consent. If a photographer is convicted of harassing a child of someone famous they could spend up to a year in jail and be fined up to $30,000 for a third offense.

I just need you to know how much I love the Muppets. I'm crazy about them. They will soon go on display at the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington. The family of Muppets creator, Jim Henson, donating more than 20 original puppets and props to the Smithsonian. Kermit was already there. Soon though, he'll be joined by some of his famous friends: Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, the Swedish Chef, and from Sesame Street, Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover and The Count. I can't even pick my favorite because I love them all so much.

CUOMO: Who's your favorite? No, you can't be like that. Get off the fence.

PEREIRA: I love Kermit because, "It's Not Easy Being Green," hello story of my life as a child. I also love Big Bird and The Grouch, I had days.

BOLDUAN: The Grouch? I mean every child --

CUOMO: The Grouch makes sense.

BOLDUAN: You have to love Elmo because it has captivated every child in America. I mean, they love Elmo.

CUOMO: Petersons, is there a scientist Muppet?

PEREIRA: Beaker!

BOLDUAN: We were terrified of Muppets?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It was of The Cookie Monster. I don't know what it is. We talked about this. It was in my room, there was a C above my bed. It freaked me out.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PETERSONS: I loved Oscar The Grouch.

PEREIRA: He lives in a garbage can.

PETERSONS: Yeah, I don't know. What are we going to do with him? So cute, right?

I want to talk about the weather, starting with the west coast because I want to show you how unusual it is out in the west. Notice Boise, average temperature 75. They're expecting only a high of 55. Same thing with Salt Lake City, ten degrees below normal. Not the story quite yet. We are getting there. Notice the radar starting to see a hint of pink on the radar. We're talking about what? Yes, snow. And this is so early but there's a storm out of the pacific northwest that is expected to drop, yes, 1 to 2 feet of snow today from Idaho, Montana, even in through Wyoming. This is early, guys. That's going to be the story for them, snowy and cold.

Meanwhile, look at the east coast. This is very atypical. We're the ones getting the heat while they're freezing. We're talking about temperatures in the 70s today. D.C. Is gorgeous. We're actually going to be expecting 77 degrees in the region, and then you go to the southeast. This is the rain totals for just the last two days. Ft. Myers over 5 inches of rain, wish I could say that was the end of it but the stationary front is still in place. Meanwhile, another cold front making its way into play. So the big question for all y'all is what do you want, cold and snowy, rain in the southeast or 70s here?

BOLDUAN: Fall in D.C., I'll tell you, beautiful. Fall day, nothing to compare to it.

Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Coming up on New Day, have we gone too far when simply playing with a toy gun off school property -- remember that, toy gun, off school property -- gets kids suspended? We take a look at a contentious issue.

BOLDUAN: Also contentious, the shutdown showdown continues in Washington. Senator Ted Cruz is still at it. Senator Marco Rubio, still giving hum a hand to give him a little down time. Going to give you much more coming from The Hill, in a bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Has zero tolerance gone too far? Parents of two suspended 13-year-old Virginia boys, well they say it has. They say their sons fired toy hung -- air soft guns in one of their front yards -- private property - and for that, they and a third friend involved were slapped with year-long suspicions, but the middle school says there's much more to the story. There's much more going on here than just that. "EARLY START" co-anchor Zoraida Sambolin has more on the story.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CO-ANCHOR, "EARLY START": A lot more, actually. The parents of Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark say their sons were playing on private property, but the boys' principal argues they were just feet from a school bus -- from a bus stop that is -- when they fired these air soft guns. Now the 7th graders fear their records will be tarnished.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: At least two Virginia Beach seventh graders won't be attending class this morning after being suspended for shooting toy pellet guns, not at school, but near their school's bus stop. Their parents outraged at the punishment, argue the boys were on private property. Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Cark, speaking exclusively to Piers Morgan last night saying it's just a toy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an air soft gun. It's meant for shooting at the target and that's what we were doing.

SAMBOLIN: On Tuesday, the school district disciplinary committee unanimously voted to suspend the boys for the remainder of the school year for possession, handling, and use of a firearm. Listen closely to the 911 call that prompted the school's investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Virginia Beach 911. Where's the emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were two children, I thought they were playing. There was a white child and a black child. The white child appeared to have a gun that he was chasing the child with.

SAMBOLIN: At first she's unsure if it's a dangerous situation or kids at play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALEI don't know if it was a toy, I don't know if they were playing. I don't know anything. It did not look like they were playing.

SAMBOLIN: The school's principal launched the investigation, finding the children were firing pellet guns at each other and at people near the bus stop. It also says that a child was ten feet from the bus stop running away and was still hit. That finding led to Khalid's suspension and recommended expulsion.

KHALID CARABALLO, SUSPENDED FOR USING AIR SOFT GUN: We were in our yard. This had nothing to do with school.

SAMBOLIN: In a statement to CNN, Virginia Beach School Board says,

"The students in question were witnessed taking aim at other students, not just on private property, but in the streets of their neighborhood as well. All while awaiting the arrival of their school bus."

According to Khalid, all shots fired took place with other children who were playing with him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So we do know one of the boys has had a history of disciplinary issues in the past but we don't know the details behind that. At least one of the students, Khalid Caraballo, has been placed in an alternative school, and in a statement to CNN, the school board says it will consider his return in the second semester provided that he shows evidence of good behavior, regular attendance, and academic progress.

So the question here is did they overstep their boundaries because this did happen on private property? I asked you as a lawyer, in fact, would the parents have a case if they say this is our private property. You cannot step in here.

CUOMO: I think they have a case. It's subjective. It varies by jurisdiction, but schools are very picky about what they choose to enforce off-campus. We were talking, often online bullying isn't addressed by schools because they say it didn't happen at school.

Here they are extending their reach as far as they can. They're backing it up by making a case of this being the aggregate, right? This being a group of activities. I think the family definitely has a case. Whether they win or not, it gets fuzzy, but I think there's a bigger policy argument involved. It is it because it was a gun or is it because there's a pattern of behavior with the kid? I think that's what will trigger, no pun intended, people's emotions on this.

SAMBOLIN: No, right. You have some of the people in the neighborhood saying when we see these kids running around with the guns, we're really worried because they can't tell if it's a toy gun a real gun. And so, it really raises a lot of other questions. I will say this one thing. I love the way the mother handled this. She's very angry at her son because she did not give him permission to use that gun. She said I bought it, but he did not have permission, but this issue should stay at home. She wants him back at school and learning where he should be.

CUOMO: She bought it but he didn't have permission.

SAMBOLIN: He did not have permission. He's supposed to ask for permission when he wants to use it, and he did not. He just took it without her permission. She said he is facing some issues at home over this to begin with. They take exception that the school got involved.

BOLDUAN: This isn't one of those where is the parent scenarios? She is there.

SAMBOLIN: No. She is very supportive (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sure.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Obamacare is approaching an important milestone next week. What does that mean? It means President Obama is pulling out his explainer-in-chief, Former President Bill Clinton. We'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, closing arguments from the defense today in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. If AEG Live loses, the concert promoter may have to pay out very big bucks to the Jackson Family. We'll have an update on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira. BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It is Wednesday, September 25th. Let's get straight to Michaela for the top news right now.

PEREIRA: All right, here's are your headlines. Secretary of State John Kerry expected to meet his Iranian counterpart today. This would be the highest level direct meeting between the U.S. and Iran since the late 1970s. President Obama wants Kerry to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran. Both Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck conciliatory tones at the U.N. yesterday, though they did not meet face-to-face.