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No Touchdowns During Shutdown; Eight Killed In Bus Crash In Tennessee; Tom Clancy Dies At 66

Aired October 2, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live on Capitol Hill.

We all heard him say he will not negotiate with the Republicans on demands, but it turns out he's okay with having them over to the White House to talk about it. In less than an hour, the president will meet with speaker John Boehner and congressional leaders at the White House to discuss the shutdown and looming debate over the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, our own Joe Johns is in Boehner's backyard, Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Skyline Chili, to hear what Boehner's constituents think of this standoff.

Joe, the latest CNN polling has Boehner's favorability down to 33 percent nationally. Now, he's a member of Congress, he doesn't have to worry about the national polls. But what are they saying about him back home?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Honestly, Jake, he does come from possibly the most Republican district in the state of Ohio, so that says a lot. His family used to own a bar and restaurant over on Vine Street here, and we went there this morning and talked to the breakfast bunch that comes every day. They really weren't that worried about the shutdown, although they do say they're concerned about government spending.

We went over to his district proper in the Westchester area, and people were a little bit more exorcised about the government shutdown. But their criticism is not just for the speaker of the House but also for the Congress as well as the Democratic president. Listen.


IRENE BOEBINGER, BOEHNER CONSTITUENT: When John Boehner lived here, he gave the message that he was completely for the people, for the citizens of the country. Since he's been in Washington, I don't know, sometimes it seems like he goes completely in the other direction, sometimes he stays with us. But most of the time he goes for -- he just can't make up his mind what he wants, and the government can't make up their mind what they want. It's like the Hatfields and McCoys fighting with each other all the time. Get your act together.

JIM BRIGGER, BOEHNER CONSTITUENT: The government is way too big, and we have to reduce the size of the government. So, however you want to take that, you take it that way.


JOHNS: So what are people here really worried about? Well, take a look at the front page of "The Cincinnati Inquirer." It does say shut down, but what it's referring to is the Cincinnati Reds' season ending after being beat 6-2 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jake?

TAPPER: Ah, the important things. Joe Johns in Cincinnati, thank you so much.

Publicly, the war of words between the president and the speaker has been piercing and personal. In an op-ed in "USA Today," the speaker is pegging the blame for the shutdown, quote, on the president's "scorched-earth policy of refusing to negotiate." And moments ago, an interview on CNBC, the president handed the shutdown hot potato right back to the speaker.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party and have purposely kept my rhetoric down. I think I'm pretty well known for being a calm guy. Sometimes people think I'm too calm. And -- am I exasperated? Absolutely, I'm exasperated because this is entirely unnecessary.


TAPPER: When the cameras go off in one hour and these two men meet behind the political cover of closed White House doors, could something actually get done? That's the big question.

And let's bring in our panel. Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the Obama campaign Ben Labolt, former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, and political reporter for Yahoo! News, Chris Moody.

So Ben, I'll start with you. You heard Congressman Roskam, who knows Obama from Illinois, saying he thinks ultimately President Obama, if it is a big deal about opening up the government and raising the debt ceiling and a whole bunch of other things, that there might be room for negotiating, he doesn't believe President Obama wouldn't.

BEN LABOLT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, the president's not going to participate in government by ransom. I expect him to have one demand today when he sits down with Republican leadership, which is to say put a funding bill on the floor, a clean funding bill to fund the government for the next two months. Once you pass that bill, then let's return to regular order.

We can have budget negotiations. The House Republicans have refused to appoint members to a conference committee 18 times that would have that negotiation. The president has been willing all along to have that negotiation. But he's got going to overturn the results of the presidential election. He's not going to participate in government by ransom. TAPPER: Carly.

CARLY FIORINA, CHAIRMAN, GOOD 360: You know, if President Obama had wanted to avoid a government shutdown, then he should have negotiated. He should have had the meeting he's having today two or three months ago. Everybody could see this train wreck coming.

I actually feel badly for John Boehner. I think this is Ted Cruz and President Obama's shutdown. I think Ted Cruz's tactics were wrong. There's no honor in charging a hill that you know you can't take, only casualties. Although Ted Cruz maybe got name recognition and money along the way --

LABOLT: He's the new leader of the Republican Party.

FIORINA: But President Obama -- I don't think so. But President Obama wanted this shutdown. And Ted Cruz played right into his hands. And the thing is, you and I have talked about negotiating before. If you want to negotiate with someone, you have to empower them.

President Obama has done everything possible to disempower the reasonable people that he's trying to negotiate with, and he's done everything possible to say -- I was amazed to hear him say I've kept my rhetoric down. My goodness, he's been on campaign-style speeches for the last three months saying over and over again I will not negotiate, I will not negotiate, I will not negotiate. When you say that, you empower the flamethrowers.

LABOLT: There was a time to defund and delay Obamacare, and that was during the 2012 election when Governor Romney and the Republican Party made that argument. It was defeated in the polls.

FIORINA: I actually -- I actually agree with that. That's why I started by saying -- I think saying we're going to defund Obamacare is a way to deal with ongoing continuing resolution was a totally flawed tactic. I do think that some of the positions that the Republicans have put forward -- let's delay the individual mandate, let's make sure that Congress doesn't get the same kinds of exemptions that other people are asking for, these things make sense.

But I come back to the original thing. President Obama looks strongest when he is standing up saying, I will not negotiate with Republicans, and he has looked very weak the last several months. I think he wanted this, and that's why he decided to have a meeting today, not two weeks ago.

CHRIS MOODY, POLITICAL REPORTER, YAHOO! NEWS: At least publicly, this is not a negotiation that we're talking about. Boehner has come out and said we're not going to budge on this, and Obama and Jay Carney have said he's not going to negotiate behind closed doors. That might be a little different.

But I think the most frustrating part about this is the reason we're having a shutdown is not because there's no votes in the House. The votes to fund the government are in the House right now. They're just not holding the vote. And I think that's going to be very frustrating and even infuriating to a lot of people that see that and say well, it's there. Why are we closing down monuments and not funding NIA?

TAPPER: I think enough Americans don't understand necessarily is that most Republicans in the Senate and the House don't want to be doing this right now.

FIORINA: That's why I called it Ted Cruz's shutdown as well as President Obama's. But here's --

TAPPER: But they are afraid. They are afraid of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.

FIORINA: Well, look. Here's the thing. If you look at the polls --

TAPPER: Is that not a fact?


LABOLT: Boehner follows Cruz, McConnell follows Paul. That's the reality of the Republican Party.


FIORINA: John Boehner, the reason I said he has a very difficult task -- John Boehner is trying to hold a caucus together --

TAPPER: Right.

FIORINA: And yes, there are elements of his caucus that are much more extreme than other elements in the caucus.

The thing that I am disappointed by, frankly, with the Republican caucus, if you look at the data, if you look at the polls, the American people say don't shut the government down. However, 70 percent of the American people say let's have a discussion about spending.


FIORINA: -- along with the debt ceiling. So, that's the time for the fight.

MOODY: Repealing Obamacare or defunding it shouldn't be part of a CR negotiation.

FIORINA: I actually agree with that. I think there are pieces -- if it had been me, I would have taken it on a piece-part basis. Let's talk about the individual mandate. Let's talk about the medical device tax. Let's talk about the exemption that Congress gets. And by the way, good try, we're not worried about congressional aides. We're talking about senators and Congressmen who want the exemption or the head of the IRS who says thank you very much, I like my health care, I don't want to go to Obamacare. That's what makes Americans crazy.

TAPPER: I get that absolutely. Ben, I want to ask you a question about this overall negotiation between President Obama and Speaker Boehner because they did try a couple times, and it didn't work. And you can point fingers -- you easily point fingers at both men, really. President Obama moved the goal posts once; some senators did when it came to the amount of revenue, the amount of taxes. And it wasn't clear that Boehner had that votes to begin with. He didn't return President Obama's phone call, et cetera.

Has President Obama given up entirely on wanting to negotiate or feeling he can negotiate with Republicans on the House?

LABOLT: Well, I think that the White House has been absolutely clear that in regular order, in a budget process, they are happy to negotiate. But what we can't do is manufacture a series of crises that put the middle class at risk and that put our economy at risk. And what Republicans have done again and again is gin up these crises -- take a look at the 800,000 people out of work. Take a look at the impact on the market. And we are two weeks away from not meeting our financial obligations. What kind of message will that send to the world?

FIORINA: What I find so amazing about that response is regular order. How long did it take the Democrats to ever pass a budget? The point is this president has actually been unwilling to negotiate during regular order about a whole set of things.

MOODY: Republicans have passed a budget.

TAPPER: In March, right.

MOODY: There's been denials of (INAUDIBLE). And Republicans will say well, that's just because we don't want to go to the table if we don't think we can reach an agreement. They want to have that assurance. But Republicans were hounding Democrats to pass a budget, and now it's kind of flipped to go to conference on that. I mean, it just goes round and round here.

TAPPER: To be continued. Thank you so much. Carly Fiorina, Ben Labolt, Chris Moody. I appreciate it.

Coming up next: first the National Zoo, now your favorite pastime. Forget catching the Navy/Air Force game this weekend or the Army game, for that matter. Not even football is safe from Washington's axe.

Plus, he wrote works of fiction that some said inspired terrorists. A critique he vehemently denied. We're looking back at Tom Clancy's most memorable work ahead.


TAPPER: They're preparing to fight for our country and some of them get to spend a little time on the football field as well -- until now, another casualty of the government shutdown, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm live on Capitol Hill right now in case you can't tell. The "Sports Lead" right now, we're learning every day that there are no limits to the things the federal government can run, and that includes apparently college football. The much-anticipated rivalry game between the Air Force and Naval Academies is in limbo for now all because of, you guessed it, the shutdown.

It's actually impacting all military teams that's because some of them have staffers who have been furloughed. The Air Force says travel for all athletics teams is canceled until further notice.

Joining me now live from New York is "Bleacher Report's" lead NFL writer, Mike Freeman. Mike, thanks so much for being here. What kind of reaction are you hearing from the teams and their coaches about their games possibly being cancelled?

MIKE FREEMAN, LEAD NFL WRITER, "BLEACHER REPORT": Well, in general, this is great disappointment, almost sadness. To a lot of these guys this is one of the more important things they do while they're at the academies. They love football. Football means a lot to them. It really helps them become in a lot of ways better men just as going to these academies help them become better men.

Football helps then also. There's just great sort of sadness, almost stunning aspect to this, because if you look at the Air Force/Navy rivalry in particular, that's been going on for four decades, a long time. The academies have played football through wars, through some of America's worst catastrophes, and now this may not happen, unprecedented, a general state of shock.

TAPPER: The last shutdown in '95-96, that went on for a few weeks. If this one goes on for a few week, would it mean these team's seasons are pretty much scrapped?

FREEMAN: What they're saying right now is they're talking about postponing games, trying to reschedule games, but, Jake, the real practical matter is that the season would be basically over. They probably wouldn't play football again. It would be really to a lot of these guys just very, very depressing.

And, look, to some people will just say it's just football, but to a lot of these guys it's very important. So, there's no question this is important to a lot of these guys. I do think if this continues for a few weeks I don't know if we'll see football at the academies again.

TAPPER: Now, of course we've talked on this show and other shows on CNN about some of the other effects of this shutdown, people who are hoping for clinical trials from the National Institutes of Health, unable to enter them, risks in a few weeks of people who need -- women and baby who is need -- the women, infants and children nutrition program. I know that football seems not that important compared to life or death issues and health issues.


TAPPER: Why is it so important to these young men and I guess, women, as well in terms of people supporting the teams?

FREEMAN: Well, one is financial. There's mms of dollars at stake with some of these games. That's not a lot of -- that's a lot of money to a lot of these guys and so the financial part of it. But years ago, I talked to Roger Staubach, who's a very famous football player, played for the Dallas Cowboys, went to the Naval Academy. He talked about how much playing at Navy and being a part of that experience meant to him.

To these guys, while it is just football to some degree, it really does spawn a lot of the competition, a lot of camaraderie between these academies, and it really does make them, a lot of them feel, the players I've spoken to, into better people. And to me that's pretty important and to them it's pretty important.

TAPPER: Lastly, is there any chance that the teams could get some help from the conferences or private funders to keep the seasons going?

FREEMAN: There's a chance of that, but a very small one. If anything, it would be something that would -- if it went on for a couple of weeks maybe you could help the academies with one game, particularly Air Force, but for the most part the academies are on their own. They don't get financial help then their season is probably over.

TAPPER: Mike Freeman, thank you so much.

Still ahead on THE LEAD, the U.K. had Ian Fleming and James Bond, the U.S. had Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan. Clancy left us, but Jack Ryan will live on. We're looking back at a remarkable career next.


TAPPER: Books so readable, movies so watchable and quotable, video games so playable. That's just part of Tom Clancy's legacy. Our "Pop Culture Lead" is coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Some breaking news out of Tennessee, eight people are dead in a horrific crash on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County. Investigators say the bus blew its left front tire and then flew across the center median into oncoming traffic. It clipped an SUV and then slammed into a tractor-trailer. Fourteen people were also injured in the crash. CNN will, of course, have more on this story as it comes out.

Turning now to the "Pop Culture Lead," the death of a literary giant of our time, Tom Clancy, the former insurance salesman was too nearsighted for a military career, but his vision of cold war tensions, military intrigue, hardware, tactics, the wars on drugs and terror, well, that vision was so focused, so fastidious, even top Pentagon brass wondered if they were reading fact or fiction.

They were reading fiction, not thrilling training manuals on steroids. Clancy's 17 "New York Times" best sellers are tough to put down. They inspired blockbuster movies that are tough to turn off and video games that begged to be played over and over.


TAPPER (voice-over): National security was Tom Clancy's muse. His first novel was the breakout best-selling "Hunt For Red October."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sail into history.

TAPPER: And that formula of a twisting thriller ending in American military success was one he employed again and again. Clancy won acclaim for his attention to detail with military equipment and weapons, but his success came with some criticism too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bomb is in play!

TAPPER: Clancy's fictional terror plots sometimes became all too real, such as in 1994 when he imagined a plane crashing into the U.S. capitol.

TOM CLANCY: One of functions of artist is to warn people what's possible and dangerous out there.

TAPPER: Clancy pushed back against the idea he was any sort of terrorist inspiration in a 2002 interview with CNN.

CLANCY: I really don't think Osama Bin Laden woke up one morning and said I think I'm going to attack the west. I'm going to read a Clancy book and find out how to do it best. I don't think so.

TAPPER: Clancy's novels were beloved by the U.S. military and other readers because they helped change a media narrative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at Tom Clancy's career, it really takes off in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan as president.

TAPPER: Paul Farhi is a media reporter for "The Washington Post."

PAUL FARHI, MEDIA REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This is the post- Vietnam era. There is a sense that we want to revive the military. We want to celebrate the military after the Vietnam War and Clancy's novels are perfectly attuned to that time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to go to Vietnam. I'll die there if I have to.

TAPPER: That was a major shift from films like "Born On The Fourth Of July," where returning Vietnam veterans were treated as anything but heroes. Clancy's push for military and CIA heroism, plus using Ronald Reagan as a frequent unnamed character made him a hero on the political right.

FARHI: Tom Clancy always was identified as a conservative, so I think readers kind of knew where he was coming from and knew where the story was coming from. But, I mean, it kind of transcended liberal or conservative. It became Americana. It became patriotic.


TAPPER: Tom Clancy fans have a chance to make his last work a bestseller too. His novel "Commands Authority" is due out in December. He died last night at the age of 66.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll be back at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 on the west coast for a special CNN report this evening "Shutdown Showdown." I now turn you over to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf.