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PIERS MORGAN LIVE

Interview with Senator Manchin; Analysis with E.D. Hill, Star Jones; Search for Missing Teen

Aired October 17, 2013 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, back in business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE PEZZETI, FEMA WORKER: It is highly unfortunate that it happened in the first place, but it's good to be back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: From parks to memorials and yes, panda cams, the government finally reopens, but the cost and consequences and all that anger will last. Let's listen to the president today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So what does this (inaudible) say about your elected officials? Straight talk from Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Joe Manchin. Also, who's in charge of the GOP anyway? I'll take that up in "Battleground America" with Anthony Weiner, Ben Ferguson, and Ross Douthat. And more fireworks later with Star Jones and E.D. Hill. Plus where is Avonte, a desperate search for an autistic teen who vanished from his school. Is the security officer to blame? Avonte's mother joins me live.

The Big Story, the reopening of the government. Joining me now, Senator Joe Manchin. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. Welcome to you, Senator. You're exhausted. How are you feeling after all this?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: I drove to West Virginia today, Piers, so I'm feeling very good right now.

MORGAN: When do you come back to West Virginia, what are you saying to all your constituents and to the people of West Virginia? Many of them must be just completely exasperated with what's been happening in Washington. How do you try and explain it? What kind of pledges can you give going forward?

MANCHIN: First of all, they tell me how bad things looked on what they've seeing. And they all know me and I know them. And said, "If you think it's ugly from where you're sitting, you ought to be sitting in my seat watching it happen."

And we're not use to this. In West Virginia we don't do business this way. We try to identify our problem, bring people together, put our state ahead of our politics and work through it. That's what we always did when I was a governor. We did it when I've been in legislator. So it's always about my state is first.

Well, this is about our country. And why they're playing such high stakes poker, Piers, is beyond me. This is all self inflicted by dysfunctional congress is not putting this country or the people they represent. I know ideologically, they believe very strong on what they believe in. This is not the place for it. This is about the finances of our country. How much can we spend? Can we get a budget together? Can we get ourselves out of debt? This is the things we should be really working on.

MORGAN: Let's put a little clip for President Obama today. He's been talking about the settlement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: How the Democrats completely blame us in all this? Was there another way of handling it that could've avoided perhaps the shutdown? I mean, what is your view if you were being this passionate about it?

MANCHIN: Piers, the only thing I can tell you is without trying to find some (inaudible) or whatever some words that would describe it. But when you jump into a pigpen, everybody comes out with a little bit of stink on them.

And the bottom line is that anyone thinks they were walked away from this or one side won and one side lost, we all lost. The American people lost. I think it was - a figure was given today of $24 billion. The economy that we lost in your economy and it's lethargic to begin with. That's not coming back.

So how anybody can take, any gratifications of pleasure of thinking we did better than they did. We've all outperformed so poorly. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves and that's what I have said. We should've never gotten to this. There's no need to have a shutdown of government.

And my colleagues and friends on the republican side, I think played it wrong. Basically the democrats agreed to the number that was asked of $986 billion. That should have been a major reason and the major win in order to keep the government open.

The debt ceiling, we should never get up to the eve (ph) of the debt ceiling and hope people are in suspense (ph). And now thinking that the full faith in credit were never going to go in default nor should we, especially voluntarily, and that's would I have railed against us. I said, "My goodness, to think we might go down this again" and that's why there was a group of 14 of us. Piers, it's basically seven democrats and seven republicans to began over a week ago saying "This is ridiculous. We've got to come together" and we stayed together.

And that template that you have right now is the one that we've worked on. It's the one that was voted on. And it says you will go back. The budget conference (ph) hasn't met for four years. Start doing your job. See if you can unravel and see if we can get back to some ...

MORGAN: But here's a problem.

MANCHIN: ... new order of business if you will.

MORGAN: There's the problem, Senator, is that you sound eminently reasonable and your actions endorsed the fact that you tried to get through this and ultimately have been successful as some of the republicans you've been dealing with. Mitch McConnell today was very reasonable with what he said. He said, "There will be not another shutdown." This is all fine. But you guys aren't the problem. The problem is Senator Ted Cruz who has his gander (ph) up, he's got a popular vote now. He's massively more famous when he was two weeks ago. He's getting loads of money pouring in and he's the darling of the Tea Party. And he today is saying "Well, let's not too hasty" because he thinks that getting the shutdown was good business for Ted Cruz Incorporated. What are you going to do about this young renegade who doesn't really care about being reasonable?

MANCHIN: Well, I know Ted. I like Ted. I get along fine with Ted. I worked -- reach out to everybody. And, I think that we can sit down and talk. We have to. You can't just discount one person or any group of people that you can't govern from the fringes. You've seen this come together and come to the middle.

You and your family, you run own individual life. You run businesses from the middle not for the fringes of the right or the left. With that being said, I think if we can set and just, you know, really factor in on what we're dealing with which is a finances. Let's get a budget. I've been a big supporter of the Bowles-Simpson plan. It's been bipartisan from day one. It has grown in brand if you will. It looks it reformed. It looks it's spending and looks like at revenue.

And you've got to have a confidence - the American people have to have confidence, we have a fair tax system that we have a reform and the ways of (inaudible) use in our entitlement program if you will and then basically, our spending. Absolutely, all this has to be looked at.

MORGAN: What about unleashing your new attack dog, Cory Booker? What about putting him on Cruz point man to point man?

MANCHIN: Cory is going to be welcome (ph) edition. We're eagerly waiting Cory's arrival next -- the week when we come back. And, I think he will be a really a great edition. He's been an executive. He's (won) a town. He knows he has to work with both sides. He has a bottom line that he has to meet. He can't continue to put hardship on his people. There's a balance.

All of us who've come to the executive roles understand that. And we have an awful lot of good legislators with a lot of experience. Now we've got to use this for the betterment of our country. Piers, we just cannot continue what you've just seen. This was the ugliest show on earth today that you saw unravel the last week or two. That should never repeat itself in the American political spectrum.

MORGAN: Senator Joe Manchin, it's a breath of fresh air talking to you. You are a rare voice of reason in a sea of complete insanity. So, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MANCHIN: Thank you, Piers. I grew up with a good that's been balanced. West Virginia is a beautiful place. Come and visit.

MORGAN: I will happily do that. Thank you very much indeed.

MANCHIN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Joining me now is Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and host of the CNN's Crossfire. Welcome back to you. Newt, I want to read to you that quote back from Joe Manchin. It's a great quote. "When you jump into a pigpen, everyone comes out with a little stink on them will lost." Is that your take on the whole thing?

NEWT GINGRICH, HOST, CNN CROSSFIRE: Sure. Look, I don't think anybody is a big winner out of this. The House Republicans lost the fight they were in the middle of. The senate proved that it can only act at the last possible second. The president proved that he was incapable of bringing people together and getting anything done without a crisis.

I don't think anybody comes out of this stronger or better or healthier. And I don't sense the depth of rethinking that we need. You know, Senator Manchin is a great example of one of the great problems in this town. He's individually terrific.

Most of the senators who are individually very smart and very experienced, most of the House members are very smart and very experienced. The president is very smart. Yet somehow we have been invented a system which reduces them collectively the dramatically less than the sum of the individuals. Now that's -- there's really something wrong when you have a sort of anti-team as the model which you're trying to run the country.

MORGAN: Let's get to Ted Cruz, because you've been run in the middle of the shutdown in the mid '90's, we discussed this many times. He clearly is a still of dissenting voice saying on what (inaudible) another shutdown, what else (inaudible). But we're going to get to January and Ted Cruz may well try this again. How can he be stopped and how dangerous and how potentially powerful is he as a rival faction to moderate (ph) republicans?

GINGRICH: Well, I don't think he is particularly dangerous unless the American people find his message accurate. You know, as we get beyond this week, and people begin to realize the scale of the disaster of ObamaCare and they begin to realize the degree to which the websites don't work -- there are now people coming out and saying they may never work, you may have to literally start all over again. As people begin to realize that prices are going to go up not down, their choices of doctors are going to be limited not wider, the country is going to demand change.

If the president listens to the country, if the establishment listens to the country, Ted Cruz won't be very important. But if they just run over the American people, he'll gain power every week because he'll express the frustration of people. It's not Ted Cruz. It's the American people who are the source of the real power for this.

MORGAN: Can he be stopped though? If we get to January and 95 percent of republicans totally agree it would be ridiculous to another shutdown, could he still ...

GINGRICH: That won't happen.

MORGAN: ... could he still work the system to force one?

GINGRICH: No. One or two or three members even in the senate can cause noise and they can cause nuisance but they can't cause a shutdown. I mean, this was a fight in which the House Republican Party -- at least 90 or 95percent of it was committed as a unit and you had one of the three constitutional parts of how we make law engage. This was not an act of a hand full of individuals. And, I think that that is very unlikely to happen again.

Steve King who's Congressman who's conservative as Ted Cruz said to us on "Crossfire" the other night, he did not think that could happen again in this congress as he put it. It takes an enormous amount of energy for a fight like that and you can only do it once and that's over. So my guess is that they will model through. I think what you have to look at is a much more fundamental question. We need to break out of this Washington model. I mean, this is a system that isn't working, and it's not working in the bureaucracy, it's not working in the congress, it's not working with the presidency.

And, you're going to now see the budget committees come together for the first time in four years and we're expectedly to magically produce something by the 13th of December. I don't quite know how that's going to happen because all the habits of the city right now are exactly backwards. And they're more likely to lead to gridlock than they are to lead the solutions.

MORGAN: Let's try in this on a happy note, Mr. Speaker, because I want to show you a live shot of the Panda Cam -- you're a big animal lover. You were distraught as I was that the Panda Cam was close for business. There we are. That is the live Panda Cam. The pandas are alive and well and we can see them again in their natural habitat. Just give me your -- finally, your reaction to this breaking news.

GINGRICH: It's a wonderful reminder. My granddaughter has a baby panda and she carries around a doll that she got at the Atlanta Zoo years ago which she calls, creatively, "Panda". It's a wonderful reminder that there's life beyond politics and there's life beyond the (inaudible) all through up and this (ph). And I hope every visitor who comes here will find time to visit the National Zoo as well as Mount Vernon. We'll get history and natural history all in one visit.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich, well said. Love to speak to you again. Thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Good to see you.

MORGAN: What's next for republicans and the nation? Battleground America is coming up here live with Anthony Weiner, Ross Douthat, and Ben Ferguson, a trio of real power panelists.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy. We don't know yet the full scope of the damage but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama today on the Real loser in shutdown. Showed the U.S (ph) economy (inaudible) that damage is still unknown but on Capitol Hill, both party is now bracing for the backlash. Joining me now, Anthony Weiner, former congressman from New York, Ross Douthat, CNN political commentator, and Op-Ed columnist in New York Times, Ben Ferguson, (inaudible) just leave it there, shall we (ph) with him. Anthony Weiner, welcome back.

ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN (D) NEW YORK: Thank you.

MORGAN: How (inaudible) are you?

WEINER: It's nice to be here.

MORGAN: You were just boasting to me in the break that you were congressman for 12 years and there was no government shutdown in that period.

WEINER: That's exactly right. I was really ...

MORGAN: You're anti-shutdown congressman.

WEINER: I was the glue that held the place together more or less.

MORGAN: So what do you make of this? Why did it come to this and how do we avoid happening all over again in January? WEINER: Well, unfortunately I don't see a dynamic that it changes all that much. I mean, you've got two group of republicans one is the Tea Party faithful who think this was fine, who thought this was the right thing to do all along who are boasting out that they made progress. And then, you've got the more sensuous (ph) or moderate republicans who are concerned about primaries. And remember, as soon as this deadline lapses, it's going to be primary season in places like Pennsylvania and California.

As long concern, there's not much difference until the republicans developed a sense of what it is they're for not just what it is they're against, I think we're going to keep having this problem, because there's a large number of -- at least as an important number of republicans who stopping things from happening is an important imperative, so they think they had a good couple of weeks.

MORGAN: Ross Douthat, you're a conservative who has a bit of a problem as always. You don't like the way the republicans have behaved. Explain that.

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST NEW YOR TIMES: Well, I mean, I think that you can see in the end game pretty much what most observers, conservative and liberal predicted from the beginning which was that the House Republicans went into this with completely implausible goals and no discernible strategy for achieving them. And the government was shut down for three weeks, and the Republican Party's approval ratings went down, and the democrats made no concession, and the republicans gave up. And it's pretty hard to imagine any scenario in which it wouldn't have played out this way and frankly I think what you've heard in the aftermath from House Republicans is a fair amount of justifiable embarrassment over how this all played out.

And I think that Former Congressman Weiner's point, I'm skeptical that anything like this specifically is going to happen again in the next year or so. You had Speaker Gingrich on talking about Steve King saying, "We're not going to get up for this kind of fight again." I think that in general, I would expect a sort of internal republican politics to play themselves out maybe in primary campaigns but not so much in another push for a shutdown in Washington.

MORGAN: All right. Ben Ferguson, you're shaking your...

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

MORGAN: ... head in fury as usual. Why?

FERGUSON: Well, I mean, there's two things here that makes me laugh. One, Congressman Weiner's comments that the republicans don't know what they're for. Anthony, I know you've been on vacation, but are you kidding me? The whole entire thing has been about defunding ObamaCare. That's what they're in favor of. That's what the Tea Party got elected to do. Surely, out of this whole government shutdown, you and others understand exactly what it is that the Tea Party and Conservatives were in favor of. And the second issue here is this, to imply that somehow this had no positive at all for at least moving the idea that ObamaCare is not working forward, I think would be naive. People are now talking about it.

And I would say that Mitch McConnell's and the moderates out there, that John Boehner's that, they're trying to act like somehow this was beneath them, they had a total history of failure over the last five years against the Obama Administration. This is the first fight that even was decent by Republicans and Conservatives.

So I don't think this was some horrible failed day for them. I think they said, "We're tired of losing all the time with John McCain leading."

MORGAN: Right.

FERGUSION: And so, the younger guys ...

MORGAN: With respect ...

FERGUSON: ... coming together and said, "We're going to try."

MORGAN: With respect, Ben. They did lose again and they caused the American economy $24 billion, so quite a high price to pay.

FERGUSON: Well, you also ...

MORGAN: Quite a high price to pay for them to talk about ObamaCare when they could have been talking about it anyway without shutting down the government.

FERGUSON: Yes, but ...

MORGAN: Andy Wiener. Ben Ferguson has laid down the (currency). You're talking complete nonsense. What do you want to say to this?

WEINER: No. Look, I think that he actually made my point. You can't say, "Here's what we're in favor of, undoing something that someone else did." Look, it's hard to discern any real difference from campaign 2012. You know, when we had similar conversations, other Republicans have learned their lessons. They have to calibrate.

What I was referring to is simply saying we're against something and voting 46 times to try to defund it or stop it or end it doesn't count in my book as being forced something in Washington. If you are forced some solution to the health care crisis, we have an affordability and availability of health care, then OK. That's being forced, something you sit down at the table. You try to navigate those differences.

But I don't think that they've found -- the scaffolding of a party can't just be, "I'm against anything that Obama does." I just don't think that resonates with the American people.

DOUTHAT: Well, it's -- although, I mean ... FERGUSON: When you were there for 12 years ...

DOUTHAT: ... in fairness ...

FERGUSON: Let me say that, when you were there for 12 years, Anthony, could you sit down with Republicans and have a dialogue and a conversation with them? And when Bush was in office, you actually had Democrats that could go to the White House and have a conversation.

The other issue here is the President of United States of America has never passed a budget, that is a massive problem, and he refuses to negotiate on anything. And you can't -- hold on -- you can't say that's a Republican's fault because he had the House and the Senate all to himself for two years, and you guys still, when you were there, never passed a budget. That's kind of embarrassing if you ask me.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Ross, hold your anger. I can see you agitated. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, the floor will be yours, Ross Douthat ...

DOUTHAT: I appreciate it.

MORGAN: ... followed by Anthony Weiner. So this will be a process I'm going to go through after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: The Battle of America, my fiery guest, Anthony Weiner, Ross Douthat, and Ben Ferguson. Tell me, Ross, you've been simmering away for a couple of minutes there.

DOUTHAT: I've calmed myself. I'm very relaxed here.

MORGAN: I don't want to hear that, c'mon.

DOUTHAT: I'm going to be a peacemaker.

MORGAN: (inaudible) with Ben at least.

DOUTHAT: I'm going to agree with both Ben and Anthony. I think Anthony is absolutely right that the shutdown ended up being a debacle for Republicans. But I think Ben is right to argue that, right now, it's possible that just being against ObamaCare, ideally, without the anchor of a government shutdown dragging them down, might turn out to be a pretty compelling message for Republicans because it really is remarkable.

And I think people will start to recognize it a bit more now that we're no longer talking about Washington politics, just how completely the Obama, White House seems to have botched not just sort of the general rollout their most important program but the very basic web architecture that enables people to buy health insurance at all.

So this a serious problem. And Democrats right now know it's a serious problem. And this is why, if it continues to be a problem, we probably won't be talking about the shutdown in three months time.

MORGAN: Right. Anthony Weiner, let's turn to 2016 for a moment, because you obviously have good connections with Hillary Clinton. She's expected to run. I know it's quite sure who the GOP might put up against if she is the nominee for the Democrats.

Where do you look at the sort of runners and writers here? Who do you think the Democrat should fear most? Is it Chris Christie or is it actually potentially someone like Ted Cruz?

WEINER: Well, I see no reason why this dynamic won't play out in the primary context. I mean I think that it's hard to say otherwise, but Ted Cruz lost the primary -- this first primary, right? It was his tactical thing. Republicans basically -- we put them in a corner.

And then I looked at the numbers within the Republican Party and among the favorites that choose people in Iowa, and he's doing great. So this is kind of -- look, I think the Republican Party -- and this is -- I'm not the first to say this, is in the midst of this identity crisis that I thought ended in 2012.

MORGAN: Right.

WEINER: And it clearly didn't. So, to some degree, this is just -- I'd be very concerned. I'm only an institutional Republican and I know that we eventually have to take some (migration), that we have to have our own ideas, that we can't just say no to all forms of revenues no matter where they are.

You know, I'm concerned that my party is going to be stuck doing this same Kabuki dance for a while now. So as far as -- I mean I'm ...

FERGUSON: I'm glad you're not a Republican.

WEINER: Well, they clearly took the advice from me.

FERGUSON: I don't think so.

MORGAN: Ben Ferguson, let me ask you this.

FERGUSON: Yes.

MORGAN: The big question is going to be, if this kind of civil war rumbles on in the Republican Party, which way are you going to go? Because we've been down this road before with Sarah Palin, she was the queen of the Tea Party. Not potentially, you might argue, the brightest (banner) in the toolbox.

Now, you've got with Ted Cruz, the king of the Tea Party, who according to Alan Dershowitz (inaudible) the other night, one of the brightest students he ever had at Harvard, could be a different cattle or fish when it comes to fighting elections ...

FERGUSON: Yes.

MORGAN: Could he win ...

FERGUSON: Well ...

MORGAN: ... an election for the Republicans? And if so, does he deserve more support about it getting right now?

FERGUSON: Well, I think if you look at Ted Cruz and what he could have. He's a brilliant mind. He's an incredible debater. Those are two things that a lot of other Tea Party people that have been push to the front, he would beat them and trump them on those levels.

And so, I think he's got a very good shot in 2016. But when you look at the Republican Party right now, as Anthony described it, there's one thing I actually agree with him on, the John McCains of the Republican Party are done. They're going to be that has beens. They're over. They're holding on for dear lives. Don't try to tell people they're important. They're still the guys from the ideas and they're not.

And I think Ted Cruz is proof of that. Mitch McConnell and John McCain, those years, they -- I hope they enjoyed it because they're not going to be leading this party for the next ten years.

And so, there is a fight right now for the new leadership. But I don't think it's a bad thing. I actually think it's a positive thing because, when the other guys have been in charge, we're getting our brains to beat them, every single election, and they haven't done very well so...

MORGAN: Yeah, OK. Let me get Ross on this because -- I mean there is a third point. You all watch Ted Cruz in action and you see a smart guy, very passionate, very good speaking, good debater. I mean I thought he was a Democrat up against too. I would be pretty concerned actually about his ...

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, I think I'll be concerned he could galvanize people.

DOUTHAT: I think -- no, I think Ted Cruz can absolutely galvanize people. And I think if you look at his, you know, (inaudible) just release the big poll of Republicans and he had something like 74 percent approval ratings among Republicans who identify as -- identify with the Tea Party.

His approval ratings with the rest of the party were pretty terrible and his approval rating for the country as a whole are approaching pretty ugly territory for someone who's only been on the national stage for a year.

I think if you look at Cruz right now, his entire political strategy has been geared towards mobilization, right, towards becoming the standard barrier for the Tea Party and winning the Iowa caucuses, and basically, sort of clearing the field to take on Chris Christie. And I think that's the dynamic you're looking at in 2016. If Cruz can clear out other conservatives from the field early, get rid of Rand Paul, get rid of Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and sort of just take on Christie head to head, he has an outside chance winning the nomination.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: Well, I'm just curios. Was there no lesson learned from 2012 in the Republican Party? Was there no lesson learned about (inaudible)? I mean -- and if the lesson that you came away with ...

(CROSSTALK)

Let me just finish ...

FERGUSON: 2012 -- let me say this. 2012, he learned that Mitt Romney is a terrible candidate.

WEINER: I know.

(CROSSTALK)

DOUTHAT: In spite of all of the problems with Mitt Romney, he actually ran ahead of a lot of conservative Republicans, senate candidates, and senate races. So it's not enough to just say, "The problem was Mitt Romney."

There actually is a Republican Party wide problem that actually requires -- and here, I'll, you know, split the difference again. It requires synthesis, right? It requires a civil war but then it requires the winner to reunite the party because you can't have a party without a base.

MORGAN: Yeah.

DOUTHAT: And you can't have a party without a model.

MORGAN: (inaudible) I have ...

DOUTHAT: The question is who can do that?

MORGAN: I have to wrap it up there. A great debate. Anthony Weiner, Ben Ferguson, and Ross Douthat, thank you all very much.

DOUTHAT: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming next, the (finding) search for an autistic teenager missing in New York. We're scouring the city for the disabled boy who disappeared almost two weeks ago. His mother joins me live. Coming next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight, the desperate search for missing autistic boy New York. Avonte Oquendo was last scene walking out his of school in Queens last October the 4th. Thousands have joined in the search for the 14-year-old. That's all live, with Avonte's mother in a moment.

Firstly, here's Don Lemon, my (friend) and colleague with more on the search for Avonte.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Inch by inch, street corner by street corner, seemingly everyone in New York City looking for missing 14- year-old, Avonte Oquendo.

VANESSA FONTAINE, MOTHER OF AVONTE OQUENDO: Hi, Avonte. It's mom (inaudible) Avonte.

LEMON: In Queens, near the school where the autistic boy was last scene two weeks ago, search vans broadcast his mother's voice in hopes he may recognize it and come through them.

How did you come up with that message?

FONTAINE: That is something that I tell him when he threw something in school. I always say, "Hi, Avonte," because I want him to get the response, "Hi, mom." So sometimes he tells me, "Hi, mom."

LEMON: This surveillance video, the last anyone has scene of Avonte. He can't communicate verbally. Investigators say that after approaching a security guard who didn't allow him to exit the school, Avonte found an unmonitored side door and vanished.

FONTAINE: He's not supposed to be running through the pools without supervision. He's not supposed to be running, walk out the door, and you're not stopping him.

LEMON: New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, does not believe the security guard is at fault.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: We see actually the security guard on film and also statements by the security agent and other people that we believe that there wasn't any wrong doing at (inaudible).

LEMON: A source close to the investigation tells CNN, searchers are concentrating on a five-block area around the school with particular focus on a marshy land fill, thinking cameras don't show the child going into the neighborhood so he may have headed towards the water. But Avonte's father believes he's elsewhere.

DANIEL OQUENDO, FATHER OF AVONTE OQUENDO: So I look at as part of their job to do that. But I'm pretty sure he's not there. He didn't like -- he didn't have kind of (inaudible) towards water, large bodies of water. He wasn't about that.

LEMON: Water, (anonymous) fear for these parents. For now, they're keeping positive, trying to find one young boy among millions. One family with an entire city behind them.

Don Lemon, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And joining me now is Avonte's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, and the family's attorney, David Perecman. Welcome to you both.

It's every parent's nightmare, Vanessa, and obviously, we -- as desperate to try and get your son back. Do you believe in your heart after all this time that he's still alive?

FONTAINE: Yes, I do.

MORGAN: What do you think has happened to him? What do you feel in your gut?

FONTAINE: I feel that someone has him and holding him because there's not a surveillance tape around that shows him at all in a train station, out walking in the street, anywhere.

MORGAN: He loves the subway. And so, that's why you've been recording these messages for the subway.

If he was down there, with all the attention that is now received, do you believe that he would've been discovered now, is that's why you feel he must have been taken against his will?

FONTAINE: Yes.

MORGAN: Let's listen again to the message. This is the message you can hear on the subway in New York in relation to Avonte.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FONTAINE: Hi, Avonte, it's mom. Come to the flashing lights, Avonte. Hi, Avonte, it's mom. Come to the flashing lights, Avonte.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Do you believe Vanessa that the school was negligent?

FONTAINE: Yes.

MORGAN: They should never let him out of the school, it should have been impossible?

FONTAINE: Yes.

MORGAN: I suppose the other side of that argument is he's 14- years old, he's -- although he has a mind more of a seven or eight year old he is 14, he is tall boy. He may have given the security the slip. He was clearly caught (inaudible). I mean, do you think that could have happened?

FONTAINE: Even though he's 14, it shouldn't matter. No one should be, you know, allowed to run around the hallways in school and the security guard should have questioned him, and if he didn't answer she should have just get out from her sit and said, "Come here." And caught someone because at that time he wasn't supposed to be out of the school.

MORGAN: David, what is your view of the legal position of the school here? It sounds complicated because we're trying to integrate Avonte into the mainstream of the school and now this has happened (inaudible) disaster for everybody.

DAVID PERECMAN: Before I do anything else, you know, there's been a lot of talk about that and I'll answer that. I wanted to thank the police department, and the entire community, and members of the press who are getting his name out there, getting his picture out there, the efforts are unprecedented and heroic (ph).

MORGAN: And the social media has been extraordinary, I mean people are tweeting about it and just trying to find him.

PERECMAN: It's incredible. As far as the legal aspects of it, there is a whole bunch of things. There's a big picture and the big picture in my mind is I don't understand how this happens to a special needs child unless there is something in there that failed the family. This on a more detailed basis and understand we're only dealing with limited information because they don't tell us everything out front. He got off a line where he was being transitioned from class apparently, so somebody must have not been watching. They know from his IEP programs that he runs and he runs off during transitioning so they're aware of it.

So, he gets away. He gets downstairs. He's confronted apparently by a security guard. He gets passed that as you said gives them the slip, goes down the hall, goes out the door, that is not alarmed, that is now alarmed, and this is the worst part of it all. They took the -- not the police, it took the board of education, the school officials a full 45 minutes at a bare (ph) minimum to call the police. And that time period may have been ...

MORGAN: Absolutely crucial. Vanessa, if by any chance he's able to watch this interview either now or when is replayed perhaps tomorrow or somebody who was holding him as you believe is watching you, what would your message be first to Avonte and then to perhaps somebody who maybe holding him?

FONTAINE: My message to my son is, that I love him and we'll going to find him, you'll come home to your family. And for anyone who has him please be kind and to let him go, bring him, you know, to somewhere. I don't care if it's a fast food restaurant, a fire department, police station, just, you know, drop him there, you know.

MORGAN: I want to give a final details anyone watching who maybe able to help here. He was last seen wearing a gray stripe shirt with black jeans and black snickers. He's five foot, three inches tall, weighs a 125 pounds. If you have any information call the NYPD's Crime Service Hotline 800-577-TIPS, T-I-P-S or you can text to 274637 brackets CRIMES then enter TIP577. Mrs. Fontaine thank you very, very much.

FONTAINE: thank you.

MORGAN: I wish you all very best (inaudible) and let's pray that your boy comes back to you.

FONTAINE: Thanks.

PERECMAN: Thanks again.

MORGAN: Coming up the most powerful man in Washington when it comes to compromise they blew it, but this time the women stay the lead, Star Jones and E.D. Hill way in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Women lead the way to react (ph) in the government, no temper tensions, no bickering, just the willingness to compromise and get stuff done. It begs your question, a women better negotiators of men. I want to talk about that a lot more tonight with Star Jones, attorney and spokesperson of the National Association of Professional Women, and E.D. Hill, a Conservative Analyst, and author, "I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Parent". Wow, tough.

E.D. HILL, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST, AUTHOR, I'M NOT YOUR FRIEND, I'M YOUR PARENT: I think just like my mother actually.

MORGAN: So, Star Jones would it (ph) been better off to kick all the men out of the rooms here in Washington and let the women trash (ph) it out or is that just a terrible cliche that actually (inaudible) wouldn't have actually made any difference?

STAR JONES, ATTORNEY, SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: Well, actually we did make a difference. It's interesting that of the 13 senators that put the bipartisan agreement together half were indeed women when women only comprise 20 percent of the senate, we have 20 sits out of a 100. So, it's clear that the women took the lead in this situation. I think pretty much universally everybody has talked about just how Susan Collins, she did a move like I call it the (inaudible) or get off the pop move she rolled in to the senate floor and said, "Listen, this is a plan that I'm putting for. If you got something better come with it (ph) and if you don't let's get on the stick." And I thought that was very admirable, courageous leadership is what the women showed.

MORGAN: Right. I mean, E.D. Hill I presume you would agree in principle with that..

HILL: No, no, no. I don't at all.

MORGAN: Oh you wouldn't?

HILL: I think you're totally sexist. I think it's ridiculous this day and age to be sitting there saying, a woman just because she's a -- just because she's a woman or a man, just because he's a man, can do anything better. But if you look at the people who have also been sighted as the obstructionist in congress, those happen to be some women too. So, I think you can find it, you find good people and you find bad people anywhere you go.

JONES: But in this situation this women stepped up. I mean, the men have the opportunity to step up. These women chose to step up.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: ... there are other women out there was (ph) being as obstructive as the obstructive men and that is true, some of them were.

JONES: Yeah, but not on the leadership side. And that's the point. We don't have as many women on the leadership side that could actually step into that place.

MORGAN: Is that a good point? If they were more women actually running the show because there really are. If they were, would that help in the final negotiation stage of this process? (Inaudible).

HILL: I think Nancy Pelosi is pretty senior. I think Nancy Pelosi is up there. I think Michele Bachmann has got a pretty strong voice. And if you're a person who feels that there are people in there, there are sort of gumming up the works, I would say that that on both sides you could point to those to women. You know, maybe you support them, maybe you don't. But they certainly were taking the more strident (ph) positions. Yes. You definitely had some great women in there, but I should think -- I think they're great human beings, they're great Americans.

JONES: Well, I agree that they're great human beings, but we also have to agree if the women have not stood up, we would not be in this position. I mean we can go back and forth if you want that the guys are just as good as the women and we negotiate the same way, I do think that -- I disagree with that. I mean I see it across the board all the time when it comes to women.

All I do everyday is sit with powerful women. That's my job.

MORGAN: And all women is instinctive (inaudible) you think less testosterone field?

JONES: Well, there's no question. There's absolutely no question.

MORGAN: Mr. Ted Cruz also nailed chest beating. I must win the old thoughts.

JONES: Well, that's because we don't engage in that time-honored sport of whose is bigger. That's not a big deal to me.

My big deal...

HILL: I tell you what?

JONES: Let me hear what you got to say.

HILL: A kid on the opposing football team hits my son, I am ready to go bust his butt because it makes me that mad. So I don't thin that women are any weaker or mild, or anything. Do it for common sense. JONES: Yes.

HILL: Yes. And I think that is simply because the fact of the matter is for a long time, we've been running the houses. We've been running these budgets.

MORGAN: Let me (inaudible) a little bit. Women tend to be ...

HILL: We've been doing those...

MORGAN: It has to be more practical.

JONES: I agree. I do agree with that.

MORGAN: Well, you're saying that the have a lion share of the practicality of the household, right?

JONES: You have to be pragmatic.

HILL: Yes.

JONES: You have to have negotiating skills. You have to be willing to compromise. You have to walk into the room with the attitude of, how do I make this work rather than this won't work. And I think that's something that we do much better.

HILL: We also have to deal with the kids, you know. You've got to discipline. You've got to be the firm one. You've got to be the one who's the peace maker between fighting siblings. We get all the skill set every second of our lives. So, I do think that there are some unique qualities that women just by nature do possess because of...

JONES: Did you see that?

HILL: ... how we've been.

JONES: We can disagree without, being disagreeable, and we actually care.

MORGAN: Exactly. (Inaudible) because I guess two men have started away, this discussion started with you leaping up is a bad sexes. It would have very quickly become a chest beating argument where they were both be determined to win. You've actually reached interesting point of consensus, which in itself is quite eliminating.

Let's take a break. As we come back, I'll talk about the 2016 race because -- and they will be at the end of all that.

The first ever female president of the United States. Then we'll really find out won't we? If you're better at this game than we are.

JONES: We sure, can be worst.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. This is CNN.

MORGAN: 16 days the world watching Washington, had a temper tension (inaudible) upset and save today. Both pointing out that most of the (inaudible) women. I'm back now with Star Jones and E.D. Hill.

About a little discussion in the (inaudible) because you both have a Texan connection.

HILL: Yes.

MORGAN: You studied law there, you come from there. What you make of Ted Cruz down in Texas?

HILL: I don't think Kay Bailey Hutchison knows who is calming down the fight. That's for sure.

JONES: I know, good Lord.

HILL: I think she'd (inaudible) sitting on that seat if she had. I think that Ted Cruz is there for Ted Cruz. Now, you know, there are plenty of people thinking that's the right direction to take the country.

The way I look at folks and I have supported people I disagree with and I did agree with. But I like to know where you stand, but I think that's for a lot of Texans come from. You can tell me something, I may, you know, say, "You're (inaudible)? You're brilliant." Whatever it is, as long as I really believe that that's what you think, like, Ron Paul, there are a lot folks...

MORGAN: Do you not believe that Ted Cruz is sincere?

HILL: I think that Ted Cruz is very focus on Ted Cruz.

JONES: Right.

MORGAN: (Inaudible).

JONES: Ted Cruz is all about Ted Cruz right now, and what he's doing...

MORGAN: But awful politician win...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Yeah.

MORGAN: 99 percent.

JONES: When you call them politicians, I would refer them to be elected officials.

MORGANL: Right.

JONES: They forget that you're supposed to have the dual brain. If you're going to leave then you have to govern. MORGAN: Right.

JONES: And Ted Cruz is not about governing right now. He's about getting in the leadership position so he can set himself up for 2016. It maybe fine for him. It might be fine for the people that like him. But it's not fine for the country.

MORGAN: What about (inaudible) because the point about Ted Cruz is he's made ObamaCare his great bet in the world (ph) his going to go out, right? And he might be right, his instinct might be right that ObamaCare is potentially a disaster for the Democrats under president. The system simply doesn't seem to work very well and he may...

HILL: And I agree with him on that.

MORGAN: Throughout all this nonsense of the last two weeks have hit on the great vulnerability.

HILL: I am not saying that he is wrong on a lot of these issues. It's the way that he's going to about doing it that I disagree with. However, that said, I know a lot of people in Texas who absolutely love him, feel that he is the strong champion, the man of principles that they don't find in Washington. They find him -- you know, they find him to be something who's very fresh.

JONES: But don't you also see that is the extreme position right now? We were talking in the break about how the country is moving to the middle.

MORGAN: Right.

JONES: You can't be extreme on the right or extreme on the left because you can't find compromise in those two positions. And then Ted Cruz, though he may stand his own mortal space. That's not the morality of a country.

HILL: It may not be.

JONES: And it doesn't benefit the United States of America. It's something that didn't work.

MORGAN: Ladies, I have to leave it there. A fascinating debate. Thank you very, very much Star Jones and E.D. Hill. That's all for us tonight. AC 360 Later. Starts with Anderson Cooper right now.