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Seniors Fret Over Washington Inaction; Problems Still Plague Obamacare Site; Sen. Marco Rubio Speaks at the Values Voter Summit; U.S. to be Top Oil Producer

Aired October 11, 2013 - 10:30   ET


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, and every one of the seniors that I've talked with yesterday, all expressed the same thing. They were embarrassed by what's going on in Washington and that they said that that really gives the rest of the world a pretty bad image of the United States.

And one woman told me this morning, John and she said, part of the problem with the entitlement programs is that all of these people, the elderly are just living too long these days. So they do have a sense of humor.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John it's really interesting to hear from these seniors they've been around a while --


BERMAN: -- they've seen a lot of that in politics over the course of their lives. But they've never seen anything like this.


BERMAN: John Zarrella for us in Plantation, Florida.

ZARRELLA: No, that's exactly what they said.

BERMAN: It's so interesting right? Great to see you this morning and great to hear that insight. I appreciate it my friend.

So it cost at least $90 million to set up the Obamacare Web site and still users across the country are having trouble logging on and staying on

CNN pressed the administration's point man on why the glitches were not corrected before last week's big rollout.

Our Brian Todd has the story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since virtually the moment it came online, the Obamacare signup Web site has been beset with glitches. People not being able to log on and getting booted off. So we pressed the administration's point man on all this, David Simas. DAVID SIMAS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: So folks are working 24/7 to address and to isolate and to fix problems. People are going through and others aren't and it's not acceptable which is why they are working across the clock, both with hardware and with software.

TODD: But many argue you had several months to get it booted up and to really perfect it. Why then still so many problems?

SIMAS: So we went through a testing period and doing the testing period to identify problems to create a punch list. Fix those things, the President said from the beginning, with a site like this, of course there are going to be glitches. But let's understand why there was the initial problem. We had 250,000 concurrent users at one time. I mean just for perspective, in a given month has five million unique visitors. This in the first three days had 8.6 million unique visitors which speak to the demand.

TODD: How much did it cost to pay the contractor to set up this web site?

SIMAS: So I'll refer you back to CMS and HHS for those numbers.

TODD: Was it in the -- was it over to $100 million?

SIMAS: Brian I just refer you to them for the numbers.


We haven't been able to get hard numbers from those agencies but according to a Government Accountability Report issued over the summer, they paid nearly $90 million through March of this year. They've obviously paid more since then.

And then there's the potential cyber security threat. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers says with all the personal information, like your Social Security number, tax information and other data you'll have to put into this healthcare database --

(on camera): It's a magnet for hackers he says. What about the cyber security?

SIMAS: Built with the highest security standards. That's what this Web site was built upon.

TODD: Simas says to all of those who've been frustrated by the Web site and are about to give up, keep on going back, call the help center and understand there's a six-month period to sign up.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Brian Todd for that.

Still to come: some of the biggest names in the Republican Party speaking at a conservative summit. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio at the microphone. We'll listen in next.


BERMAN: So the biggest names in the Republican Party and some possible 2016 presidential contenders, they are all speaking at a conservative summit in Washington. Right now you're looking at Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Let's listen to what the Senator has to say.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: As our leaders have to stop ignoring the impact that culture is having on our nation. Now let me tell you the reaction I get to that from some. Some say that this is nothing more than an effort to impose mine, or your, or anybody's religious values on others. This is not about imposing values because these values don't work unless you really believe them.

And I've also been lectured as many as of you have, about how we need to stop talking about social issues if we want to win elections. But if we're serious about saving the American dream, we can't stop talking about these issues, we can't stop talking about the importance of our values and our culture.

We can't stop talking about them because the moral well-being of our people is directly linked to their economic well-being. But today --


BERMAN: All right that's Senator Marco Rubio right there speaking to the Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council in Washington right now.

Let's talk a little bit about Marco Rubio being there along with some of the other big names in Republican politics.

We're joined by John Avlon, CNN political analyst, also at the "Daily Beast".

John, that's Senator Marco Rubio talking. He's talking about culture and the economy.


BERMAN: We heard Senator Ted Cruz railing on D.C., a little bit before. Senator Rand Paul talking about religion. That's quite a roster of people who may or may not be interested in running for president in 2016. So what are they doing there today?

AVLON: What they're doing is, you know, the Value Voters Summit is the sort of one-stop shop for politicians in Washington to go speak directly to faith-based activists. And if you're running the Republican Party, you're thinking about running for president you've got to check this box. And see you've got people here talking even more than the shutdown politics, are almost a sideline. Instead they're focusing on issues of faith, issues of social conservatism. Moral issues as you just heard Senator Rubio saying.

And Rubio in particular is an interesting spot. He's lost some credibility with folks on the far right for actually trying to work on an immigration reform solution. And folks like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, in particular, have really run his right flank and got the activists a lot more excited.

So this speech in particular is really interesting for Marco Rubio's presidential possible prospect.

BERMAN: And then there is Paul Ryan also who is right at the epicenter right now of the budget stalemate, the debt ceiling talks. Paul Ryan may be reaching across to President Obama trying to work a way through this right now. What does Paul Ryan risk with this crowd, the Value Voters crowd?

AVLON: I mean, look, you know, this -- this is the Catch 22 where the Republican Party find themselves at the moment. You know with their popularity at a historic low for any -- any political party since polling has been invented basically, the base is more riled up and more powerful, more influential than ever before however. And so you see this divide within the Republican Party. You can say Tea Party versus the establishment. You can say it's social conservatives versus economic conservatives.

But when folks try to reach across the aisle to govern as Paul Ryan did, in the op-ed on the "Wall Street Journal" this week trying to offer a pathway out of the stalemate, the shutdown, with the debt ceiling looming. They come under immediate fire from these professional conservative activists who have disproportionate power in their party.

And so here is the real challenge, going to a venue like the Value Voters Summit and actually speaking probably not about economics, probably about social issues, about the values they share but without getting booed by this crowd because the activists are angry and they will turn on any candidate they feel is a RINO who is reaching across the aisle to work with President Obama. That is the firing offense for a lot of these far right activists.

BERMAN: Now Senator Ted Cruz, we heard a big part of his speech earlier on. He was heckled a little bit by an immigration group. I think we have some video of that. But John, our Peter Hamby a terrific political reporter has been at the Value Voters Summit. He's been talking to people there including Tony Perkins the head of Family Research Council.

Tony Perkins called Senator Ted Cruz a de facto leader of the Republican Party right now. Is that a fair -- a fair estimate? Is Ted Cruz a leader in the Republican Party? Is this going to continue now beyond this shutdown debate? AVLON: It is. I think Ted Cruz is a de facto leader of one wing of the Republican Party. You know, we sometimes overuse the term GOP civil war. But there is a deep division beneath the Republican Party today. You look at the folks who might run for president in 2016 and you see the people who professionally cater to the base -- Ted Cruz, you see Rand Paul, you see Marco Rubio trying to navigate those difficult waters; possibly Chris Christie on the other side of the ledger.

There is a deep divide between folks who are interested in governing which means reaching out and finding solutions. And people who are much more interested in grandstanding about ideological purity, about planting that flag and playing to their base. That divide is deep. It is resulting in actually senators like Ted Cruz raising money to run -- to run candidates against incumbent Republicans. So there's a lot of bad blood.

And in these fissures, beneath the Republican Party right now, there's no question that Ted Cruz in less than one year has emerged as a leader of that wing of the Republican Party.

BERMAN: And John Avlon, before I let you go, you're one of the smarter people I know. You're also a sports fan, I want you to put odds on a possibility of a deal happening, at least on the debt ceiling, maybe on the government shutdown, a deal happening in the next few days. Is the optimism we heard overnight, is that enough to carry this through, do you think?

AVLON: I -- you know, looking at Washington today, whenever you hope for a deal and I am an optimist, but it's always that you know it's hope over experience. They have found a way to screw things up in Washington at the last minute no matter what powerful winds are blowing in the direction of change. People realize, even the Tea Party activists yesterday acknowledged that a debt ceiling would be disastrous to them politically as well as to the country economically.

But we are still not at that finish line. Serious concessions need to be made. I think we're looking at least a couple of days. But let's keep hope alive because we don't have much else at the moment.

BERMAN: And they can still screw this up. Thank you for this hopeful message. John Avlon, always great to see you, appreciate it.

Still to come for us the U.S. is about to be the world's top oil producer. But what we really want to know is what that means for gas prices? We'll find out if they could go lower. Fingers crossed.


BERMAN: Checking some of the top stories this hour.

The federal government will continue to fund death benefits for military families. This after President Obama signed a bill on a issue that had become a flash point in the shutdown debate. Before the measure passed, the White House had finalized a plan for a private charity to cover the costs -- benefits during the shutdown. Edward Snowden reportedly raised red flags at the CIA as far back as 2009, four years before he leaked classified NSA documents. According to the "The New York Times", CIA officials suspected Snowden was trying to break into classified computer files while he was working as a technician in Geneva. Those concerns apparently never made it to the NSA.

The family of a Georgia teenager found dead at a gym wants the local U.S. attorney to release surveillance video that could show what happened. Attorneys for Kendrick Johnson's relatives say they think the 17-year-old was murdered. Federal prosecutor Michael Moore is reviewing the case. He did not respond directly to requests for that video.

Another biker is due in a New York courtroom today in connection with that assault on an SUV driver. 37-year-old Reginald Chance is charged with first degree assault and gang assault. In the meantime a grand jury has indicted biker Robert Sims. No word yet on the charges there but he is accused of stomping on the SUV driver. Five others also face charges in that melee.

A scary moment for an Atlanta man caught on surveillance video. CNN affiliate WSB reports a suspect approached Brad Edmonds and demanded the keys to his 2011 Mercedes.


BRAD EDMONDS, CARJACKING VICTIM: I was thinking about getting a hold of my gun somehow, but I might not be here telling the story had I done that.


BERMAN: Edmonds did go inside to get his keys. And when he did, a camera over the front door got a clear shot of the suspect. Police are now investigating.

So when you think of top oil producing countries, there's probably names like Iran, Saudi Arabia. But a new study shows that the U.S., the United States, is about to be number one. Now before you start chanting "USA", let's get a little bit of a reality check here.

Alison Kosik is live at the New York Stock Exchange. The question is, Alison, what does it actually mean for Americans and American drivers?

ALISON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is the question. I hate to be the one to throw cold water on this but here's the reality John.

You know, more production, it's not necessarily going to mean lower gas prices. We know that when we see that price of gas, when we pull our car up to the station, a lot of that price is based on what the price of oil is. And oil is traded on the open market.

So when it comes to production, we are just one little, itty-bitty drop in a big sea of oil. You look at Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mexico -- many countries out there produce oil. So what goes on in other countries, that factors into the price as well.

Here's a positive to leave you with. This should help compensate for any disruptions in production elsewhere or if OPEC decides to cutback on oil -- John.

BERMAN: We're talking about the U.S. becoming the number producer. How soon are we talking about this happening?

KOSIK: Well, you know what; the U.S. could become the world's biggest oil producer as soon as next year. But here's the caveat: it would be the biggest producer of non-OPEC countries. So Saudi Arabia would still be number one.

But look at this, you know, we're neck in neck with Russia. Both of us produce about 10 million barrels of oil a day. But Russia's production has actually been staying at one level. To give you a comparison, you look at the U.S. -- U.S. oil production is actually booming. And a big reason for that is because we've got better technology, improving technology, which makes getting oil -- which makes producing oil a lot easier.

We're getting it out of shale rock, which is known as fracking. But the big question with fracking is will it last? Is that really a permanent boom and it really depends on oil prices being high enough to make fracking worth it because fracking is so expensive.

Public support for fracking, that also factors in as well. There's a recent Pew study showing that 49 percent of people are opposed to fracking. That's actually up from 38 percent in March. So you know, you've got this public support -- public sort of -- a lot of people are against fracking. That's also putting pressure on fracking as well.

It really depends on a lot of factors. It may not last and wind up impacting production negatively for the U.S. -- John.

BERMAN: Quickly Alison, what's the market doing right now?

KOSIK: Market is holding its own. It is flat right now. You know what's happening is you're seeing a Wall Street rally yesterday -- more than 300 points. But now it's sort of a watch and wait and waiting for Washington, not just to talk the talk but to walk the walk.

All this talk is happening. Wall Street is waiting for action. And that's why you're seeing a lot of caution play out today after seeing that huge rally yesterday -- John.

BERMAN: Wait and see. All right Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange -- great to see you. Thanks so much.

Coming up for us next, the state fair of Texas offers concerts, rides, food, and oh, yes, a border war. The Rivalry Express Bus is in Dallas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: The Rivalry Express Bus is on the fourth stop of its nationwide tour -- the Red River rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. Carlos Diaz joins us now live from Dallas, Texas with more on this. Hey Carlos

CARLOS DIAZ, CNN SPORTS: John it is one of the best settings if you will for college football. It is the Oklahoma Sooners taking on the Texas Longhorns and the setting is unique because they play at the Cotton Bowl at the State Fair of Texas.

They've been doing it this way since 1929. 92,000 fans pack the Cotton Bowl every year. And you've got to see the video from the State Fair. Of course, it's amazing.

And it's more than just the border war that goes on. It has that unique backdrop and a new and improved Big Tex will be there to greet the Longhorns and the Sooners as they get ready for their big game. The old Big Tex burned down last year. They got a brand new one for this year.

And you can't have the fair without food. You've got to try the fried lemonade, the fried ribs and even fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which are my favorite.

Turning to the football from last night, you know how Peyton Manning is having an absolutely amazing season so far? Well, his brother Eli is having the exact opposite. He's having a terrible year. Eli was picked off in the Giants' first two drives last night in Chicago. The second one was taken back 48 yards the other way for a touchdown by Tim Jennings. Ely finished the night with three interceptions. He now has 15 this season. The Bears beat the Giants, 27-21.

And they say big time players show up in the big games. And that's exactly what we saw last night from the Tigers/A's Justin Verlander. Detroit and Oakland playing the decisive game five in their division series, Verlander had a no-hitter through six innings. He would end up striking out ten in eight scoreless innings. The Tigers win 3-0. They advance to take on the Red Sox in the ALC.

And tonight on TBCS you've got to see the Dodgers taking on the Cardinals in the NLCS. What a great time of year -- John. You've got playoff baseball, you got great football games, you got everything all going on at one time. Rivalry Express needs to have some more big screens (ph) I think. John back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Lay it on -- lay it on the line for us Carlos. First of all, who do you like in the Red River rivalry, Texas - Oklahoma? and who do you like tonight in game one of the NLCS?

DIAZ: I'm going to have to go with the Dodgers in game one. I like their momentum. And as far as the Red River rivalry goes, I'm going to have to pick -- oh, you didn't hear that? I'm sorry. Was my audio cut off?

I'm not going to pick a winner because I'm here and I don't want to get persecuted by Texas and Oklahoma fans. BERMAN: That's right.

DIAZ: So I'm not going to pick a winner, ok.

I'm not going to pick Oklahoma to win, they're favored by 14. Ok, I'm going to pick Oklahoma to win. Oklahoma is going to win this thing. That's where I'm going with. There you go.

BERMAN: I was going to say you are a wise journalist, but now I think you're actually maybe a little bit brave and foolhardy. All right. Carlos -- thank you so much for being with us.

DIAZ: Good point.

BERMAN: Really appreciate it.

Thanks everyone for watching us today. NEWSROOM is done.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield, up next.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Your turn, Senate Republicans. Just minutes from now, you're going to get your chance to either build on a remarkable meeting last night between House Republicans and the President or go ahead and just blow all that up.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, and it is October the 11th. It's Friday. Welcome to "Legal View".

What is remarkable about the President's meeting with House GOP leaders is this -- and are you watching -- nobody, nobody ran right to a camera afterward to complain about nothing going on. Quite the opposite -- instead, back on Capitol Hill, the Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee said this, "We are all working together now."

And you can say "Kumbaya" while I read that again, "We are all working together now." It is remarkable.

To be really clear about all this there's still no agreement on anything. No paperworks. There is no solution to the partial government shutdown -- nothing in paper.