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China Wants "De-Americanized" World; Reid, McConnell Share "Optimism" On Deal; GOP Outlines Its Demands For A Deal; White House Meeting Postponed; Americans Frustrated With Washington; Race Car Driver: Never Give Up

Aired October 14, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. We know that China owns a lot of the U.S. debt. How would, heaven forbid this happens, we are hoping for this compromise still to be worked out this week, but if a default were to happen, how does that affect China?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, that's the interesting and rather sardonic part about this because, yes, they have got $1.2 trillion worth of U.S. government securities, so they are to some extent in the same leaky boat as everybody else.

And to mix my metaphors beautifully, I'm not sure why if you're in a leaky boat, it behooves you to start throwing bricks if you're living in a glass house since they would be affected. I mean, they are principal people who will be affected by any doubt in this.

On a more serious point, the Chinese have decided quietly and privately, they will tell you, they want it sorted out. The Russians will privately tell you they are sick and tired of these sorts of shenanigans coming out of the United States. And the Europeans will privately tell you, well, at least it's not them getting the difficult side of being lectured, but really, this is no way to run a country.

BALDWIN: I think some Americans are sick of the shenanigans as well. Richard Quest, thank you very much.

Speaking of congress, I want to show you a fascinating moment, just moments ago on the Senate floor. We saw the two leaders of each party with a history of bad blood, showing optimism. Roll it.


SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Constructive good-faith negotiations continue between the Republican leader and me. I'm very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week. To reopen the government, pay the nation's bills and begin long-term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing. I deeply appreciate my friend from the minority leader for his diligent efforts to come to an agreement. The Republican leader and I will keep members informed as negotiations continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican leader?

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Let me just echo the remarks of my good friend, the majority leader. We've had an opportunity over the last couple days to have some very constructive exchanges and views on how to move forward. Those discussions continue, and I share his optimism that we're going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.


BALDWIN: So this was big news moments ago, hearing the optimism from both sides. Both political parties, but Dana bash, our chief congressional correspondent, has some pretty incredible sources on Capitol Hill. Dana Bash, you now have some actual nuggets when it comes to a deal. Tell me.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you what Republicans appear to be asking for in these negotiations. When I say Republicans, I mean Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader. This is according to a Republican source who is familiar with these discussions.

What he is asking, first of all, with regard to opening up the government, a bill to fund the government through the holidays so that everybody isn't here on Christmas and New Years, but doing so at current levels so it would apparently and effectively keep the sequester in place, which would be a get for Republicans.

But not through next year, which is something that Democrats are saying, we're not going to do that because when you start in the middle of January, "The Sequester" -- or the forced spending cuts go deeper. That's the first on reopening the government.

Second, on the debt ceiling, what Republicans are really pushing Democrats on is to increase the debt ceiling for a shorter period of time. You know, Democrats would like to do it all the way through next year, through the next election. Republicans have said, no. We want to do an even shorter timeframe.

So this Republican source I was talking to is saying they're pushing Democrats to do maybe even about the same length of time as this bill to fund the government. Democrats, of course, are going to push for more time. That's a big part of the discussions I'm told going on right now, the date for the debt ceiling increase.

And then lastly, what Republicans are still not giving up on is some kind of change to Obamacare. Even if it's very, very minor, this Republican source said that what they're pushing for is income verification for people getting federal subsidies for Obamacare in order to get their health insurance. That is something that Republicans have been pushing for.

It's pretty much a bipartisan idea, but of course, the whole question is whether or not the president and Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, will allow that to happen as part of this deal. Whether or not they will as a Democratic source said to me, allow this to be held as ransom for opening the government and making sure the U.S. doesn't default. That's what the Democrats sources I'm talking to, saying that's what Republicans want, but we're not necessarily going to give it to them. So that appears to be another part of the sticking point and lastly, the fourth thing that this Republican source told me was the Republicans are still pushing for some kind of repeal of some kind of tax that has to do with Obamacare.

Maybe it's not the medical device tax that has been so widely discussed that has bipartisan support to repeal. Maybe it's something else, but again, that's another thing you see on the screen, another thing that Democratic sources, senior sources who are involved in these talks say they're really pushing hard on not giving in. Republicans may want this, but Democrats are saying, no. So we'll see how this goes.

BALDWIN: This is what you're getting from a Republican source with regard to potential, you know, perspective from Republicans as we know, there are two sides to every story, and Democrats want a little something different. We'll see where they meet in between. Dana Bash, thank you very much. Because we know they will be meeting, congressional leadership with the president and vice president at the top of the hour.

Meantime, what about this relationship? Much ado has been made about this bad blood between the two leaders of the Senate. Here they are, on the left, Harry Reid and on the right, Mitch McConnell. Is it true? They're the ones helping broker the deal. We're going to delve deep into the relationship between these two Senate leaders on the other side of the break. You're watching CNN's special live coverage from Washington.


BALDWIN: Back to Washington. I really want to hone in on these two men front and center this hour. These are two of Washington's true deal makers. You have Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. They have known each other for decades, but here's the "but," they don't exactly get along, at least they haven't always.

This past summer, in fact, McConnell said Reid could be the "worst Senate leader ever." That's an actual quote. But when asked today about friction between these two men, Reid said, quote, "That is greatly exaggerated." Senator McConnell and I have worked together for more than 30 years very closely since we have been whips so no problem.

No problem, he says. CNN political director, Mark Preston is in Washington. Mark, you have covered these two men for a long, long time. What's the story? Do they get along and whether they do or not, will that affect them brokering a deal?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Brooke, in many ways it doesn't really matter how they feel about each other personally when we have reached this point in the negotiations. It's been put into their court. They're the ones who have to craft a deal. Obviously, we have seen the White House and House Republican leadership unable to do so, so as we often see many times, the United States senate is the one who has to kind of fix things in the very end.

You do have two leaders who had similar career tracks and they do have a relationship based on mistrust, but despite that, there is hope. We heard that just a short time ago. We also heard it from one of their colleagues yesterday on the Senate floor. Let's hear what Senator Barbara Boxer had to say about the relationship.


SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid have been around here a long time. They've had their ups and downs and sideways and everything else like everybody in their relationships here, but I think they know the moment of history is calling them, and I put my faith in that. And I hope I'm right.


PRESTON: And there you have Barbara Boxer just yesterday talking about the relationship that isn't always been very strong between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, but really, Brooke, this comes down to pragmatism over ideology. They are both Washington insiders. I know that's a dirty word and our viewers hate that word, but that's what it takes to get deals done in Washington, D.C. And you're hearing from and looking at two of the biggest deal makers in the nation's capital.

BALDWIN: So as they're hopefully working together, we saw them on the Senate floor, both expressing optimism, both agreeing with one another, let me just ask you, where does the personal -- I don't know if animosity is too strong a word, but this dislike, where does that come from?

PRESTON: You know, oftentimes and we certainly have seen it in the Senate between these two gentlemen is it comes down to re-elections. We saw back in 2010, Mitch McConnell had the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of Senate Republicans, try to help defeat Harry Reid. Harry Reid did not like that. He took that as an affront.

Now we're seeing that again as Harry Reid is trying to help defeat Senator Mitch McConnell. Oftentimes you don't see leaders do that to one another, but we have seen that with these two men. So it becomes very personal when you put it all on the table -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Mark Preston, thank you very much.

As the president gets ready to meet with those two men and also Leader Pelosi and Speaker Boehner, we're asking you, asking Americans, what do you think of this bitter fight? Stephanie Elam live in Los Angeles. Stephanie, what are you hearing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the national parks are closed, so some people are taking their fall vacations and ended up here in Hollywood. I'll tell you what they have to say about the government shutdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: All right, we have now gotten news here at CNN. As we have been reporting this meeting to happen at 3:00 at the White House in the oval office with the president, with the vice president, with congressional leadership, we have now learned, let me be precise, this is from the White House Press Office, that this 3:00 p.m. meeting has been postponed.

This is what we're hearing from the White House. The meeting with the bipartisan leadership has been postponed, but this is the key, the why. To allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress toward a solution that raises the debt limit and reopening the government. So postponed, not canceled, postponed, so the Senate can continue negotiating and hopefully coming to some sort of resolution, something that the president could like and sign off on.

Americans, meantime, are getting fed up with this back and forth over this government shutdown. Many of them are just tired of the toll it's taking on their lives each and every day. CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles with some real talk that these Americans have for our leaders in Washington. Stephanie, what are you hearing?

ELAM: Well, Brooke, I have to say, we are here in the middle of Hollywood, and we were talking to some people here today who are frustrated, who think that this has gone on way too long, and we found one couple who was planning to go visit the Smithsonian, but they decided that would probably be a bad idea, so instead, they made their way down here to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay area. And take a listen to what they told me about how they feel about this entire government shutdown situation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's an attempt by the right to run the course of the country when they weren't elected to do so this time around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems really stupid to be playing with the value of the money. Our money is the reserve currency in the world, and if we shake the world's confidence in the dollar, we're doing ourselves a huge disservice.


ELAM: And that's a sentiment I have heard a lot of, that the government, the world I should say, is becoming so much smaller here that what our government does plays bigger around the globe. So because of that, we need to be more concerned about how we look and how this affects our money. I have heard that from several people here, but Brooke, a lot of people just very frustrated this has gone on so long and not feeling like their voices are being heard or they're being respected as Americans.

BALDWIN: There could be some hope here, Stephanie Elam. Let me take you from California back to Washington. Even though we have now learned from the White House that this meeting that would have taken place 15 minutes ago, here he is, Jim Acosta. Jim, you were reporting it would have taken place. It's now postponed. Maybe this is a good thing because the White House realizes there's something getting done in the Senate today.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Yes. I think it's a good thing and I think the White House has said that in its note warning folks about this postponement. Basically they want to allow the Senate leaders to continue working. They feel like there is progress going on. You heard the president say that earlier today when he made the stop at the D.C. food pantry.

I want to tell you bouncing off what Dana and folks on Capitol Hill have been reporting in the last hour or so, the White House appears to be reacting positively, Brooke, to what is coming out of the Hill right now. Talked to a white house official who said that at this point, what they're seeking is essentially the deal that is coming out of Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell's meetings, to some extent. I don't want to say, yes, they're going to take it lock, stock, and barrel.

But what they're saying at this point is they want to get the longest debt ceiling increase they possibly can at this point and the shortest term continuing resolution to reopen the government. Why is that important? They want to go back, as you probably heard from Dana Bash over the last couple hours, and work on that "Sequester," the second round of "The Sequester's" forced budget cuts kicked in January of 2014.

A short-term continuing resolution, while it would put the government basically on the precipice of another potential shutdown in a couple months, would also give them a chance to start working, negotiating back and forth between Democrats and Republicans on some kind of deal that might, to the satisfaction of both parties, soften the effects of the sequester.

Because not only are Democrats complaining about it and what it does to programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education and so on, there are a lot of Republicans who don't like "The Sequester's" effects on the Defense Department programs. So they feel like there is something to work on there.

As for Obamacare, some of these Obamacare provisions that may be coming out of the Reid/McConnell deal, the White House at this point is sort of taking a wait and see posture. They said we want to see what comes out of the Senate. I did talk to a White House official who said, no, no, we're still not doing concessions for a debt ceiling increase.

But when it comes to the continuing resolution, we can look at some of the other measures as part of the process, and if not part of the C.R. that reopens the government, then the process that comes afterwards, once the budget gets announced and once they start appointing lawmakers to start working on a larger budget deal then those conversations can get started there, but it seems like the wheels are finally turning -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: As the wheels turn just quickly since I have you, since this meeting has been postponed? Do we have a date and time yet because that deadline hasn't moved?

ACOSTA: No, not at this time. I believe somebody from our Capitol Hill unit, Deidre Walsh, may be reporting right now that John Boehner's office is saying not yet. They don't know of a new time yet, but I think the reason why we have want heard a whole lot coming out of the White House over the weekend and the reason why you haven't heard so much out of Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell over the last 24 to 48 hours besides the brief statements is that they want, you know, loose lips sink ships.

You don't want to start launching broadsides at one another because the temptation is always there with both of these warring parties right now, but I think the absence of all that means that there's progress.

BALDWIN: Good, we'll take the silence because work is happening. Jim Acosta, thank you, at the White House.

So when both sides meet, whenever that happens, one of the questions we wanted to ask is what role will the vice president play here after weeks of being conspicuous, being silent? Stay right here. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.


BALDWIN: And we would be counting down to that White House meeting that was to take place in 5 minutes from now, but we have now learned from the White House specifically that that meeting has been postponed so the Senate leaders can continue work, hopefully on a deal, and we have also learned, our congressional teams have gotten some new details, some new nuggets here, specifically from what the Republicans want as it pertains to a possible deal.

We will get that for you. But all of this, keep in mind the deadline, that debt ceiling deadline that remains the same, midnight, Wednesday, as we go into early, early Thursday morning. That hasn't moved. We'll get you back to that.

But NASCAR driver Brian Vickers raced into charlotte over the weekend. He's lucky to be behind the wheel at all because it wasn't too long ago that he nearly died from blood clots. This experience inspired him to talk up a new cause. Joe Carter explains in this "Impact Your World."


JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the start of the 2010 NASCAR season, Brian vickers was a driver to watch and then his world stopped.

BRIAN VICKERS, NASCAR DRIVER: I just couldn't breathe. Every single breath became so painful, I couldn't stand it. I said, I have to do something.

CARTER: Vickers had blood clots in his left leg, lungs, and fingers. Doctors also found a hole in his heart, prompting surgery. VICKERS: I think at first, your reaction is sorting through, am I going to be OK? Then what about what you love to do? And that's racing. You know, as the doctor put it, you take the risk of dying from another clot or potentially an internal injury and bleeding to death, being on blood thinners.

CARTER: Vickers was eventually cleared by doctors and did come back.

VICKERS: I wasn't sure if I would ever race again, period, much less to get back to this level in a winning car.

CARTER: Vickers sees his second chance as a chance to help others. He supports "Clot Connect." A foundation started by one of his doctors.

VICKERS: I have helped and tried to support as often as I can along the way, putting them on the race car and donating money and time. I will say through the ups and downs I kept my eyes open and said, OK, this sucks, but what can I learn from it? The truth is I probably grew more as a person through the negative experiences than through the positive.