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Deadly Flooding in Texas; Report: Biden Almost God Bumped; Republicans: "We Told You So"

Aired November 1, 2013 - 05:00   ET



UNIDENTIIFIED FEMALE: A lot of times, that we're flooded, it doesn't look like it's going to be forever. But today, the river is in the front yard and the entire neighborhood.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Deadly flooding swallowing neighborhoods in Texas. Streets, cars, homes are all under water. The storm is still going strong.

Our Indra Petersons is tracking the latest forecast.


JONATHAN MARTIN, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: He thought it was sort of his due diligence as chief of staff to at least explore the possibility, Anderson, of what Hillary on the ticket would mean for President Obama in 2012.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The political bombshell that everyone is talking about this morning. The explosive new report revealing there was talk of dumping Vice President Biden for Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for K.J. is coming!


PEREIRA: And the new investigation launched into the mysterious death of a teenager who was found inside a rolled-up mat in his high school gymnasium.

BERMAN: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. Happy Friday! Happy November.

PEREIRA: Yes, it's a first day of November. I'm Michaela Pereira, in for Zoraida. It is the first day. I can hardly believe it.

It is 5:00 in the East.

BERMAN: It feels like just yesterday, it was October. I love saying that. Every month, I say that. That's my favorite joke.

We begin this morning with developing news overnight, deadly, ferocious flooding in central Texas.

More than a thousand homes evacuated, heavy rain sending creeks and rivers over their banks and into communities already devastated by a punishing drought -- awful, awful conditions there. At least two people were killed overnight, plenty of pictures. Dramatic rescues, some by helicopter. They were playing out in neighborhood after neighborhood.


BARBARA SMITHERMAN, HOUSE FLOODED: My dogs kept making noise and I thought, shhh, a couple times and then I heard dripping, and so I got up and, you know, the carpet is wet and it just got worse and worse and worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water came too fast. There wouldn't be time to get the people out of their houses. The water was so bad. And it's (INAUDIBLE)


BERMAN: It came so fast.

The National Weather Service reports up to 14 inches of rain fell in some communities southwest of Austin, 14 inches. Emergency crews in the area responding to more than 100 rescue calls and one of the men killed was swept right out of his car by the raging floodwaters, just simply treacherous conditions there.

The question now is where does that storm go next and how much more rain can we expect?

Indra Petersons with the latest.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, unfortunately, it's not just the rain. It's also the wind. I actually wanted to take you back in time to show you.

Notice how many wind reports. This is the system that moved through yesterday and kicked through the area as we put this forward in time. Look at all of these reports of damage as the system made its way to the east. So, that's what we're going to continue to watch today, is what happens as the system continues to moves east. It showed you the wind reports.

Well, today, as the system is farther east we will look at the advisories for the potential of strong winds into the Northeast and mid-Atlantic today. So, that's going to be the concern there. We're talking about winds even as high as 60 miles per hour. And again, as the system continues to progress in the East, you'll notice rain down to the Southeast.

So we are looking at much the entire Eastern Seaboard, looking to the threat of rain, anywhere from about one to three inches possible. But notice, we have severe thunderstorm watches out there, so we are looking for still the threat for heavier thunderstorms embedded within the system that makes its way across today.

Rainfall amounts not as high as what we showed you in Texas. Just about one to two inches, higher amounts concentrated farther to the South, closer to the gulf, you're getting more of that moisture source there.

But again, the big story through the weekend is not only the storm but look at the temperatures we are expecting in this chain. Boston, 70, today, beautiful. Notice by Sunday, the high goes to 45 degrees. New York City on Sunday, our high is 48.

So we are looking to a cold front making its way through, definitely a huge drop as this springtime air gets out of here that's associated with the storm --

BERMAN: That's a high of 48 in New York, a high of 45.

PEREIRA: Let's not discuss the low.


BERMAN: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PEREIRA: Talking a look at the news now.

There was talk of a change to the 2012 ticket, possibly swapping Vice President Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton. That according to "The New York Times" reporting on a new book, "Double Down," written by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Top Obama advisers reportedly researched whether the former first lady could boost the president's re-election chances.

Here is "New York Times" reporter, Jonathan Martin last night on "AC360".


MARTIN: It was serious enough that it was intentionally polled and focused group. Campaigns don't spend the kind of money on polling and focus groups unless they are seriously exploring something. It was only known by a half dozen of the top Obama senior advisers.


PEREIRA: Martin says Vice President Biden didn't even know the president's top advisers were considering replacing him.

Another revelation in that book, Mitt Romney strongly considered Chris Christie as his vice president candidate before ultimately settling on Paul Ryan.

Big bombshells, and juicy details, absolutely.


BERMAN: It comes out next week, excited to read that one.

A big "I told you so" from the GOP this morning, with more and more Americans getting dropped by their insurance carriers because of Obamacare. Republicans have been quick to point out that they predicted this exact scenario back in 2010, even before that, when the president was making a lot of promises that so far have not panned out.

Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Boehner.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March 2010, then-Minority Leader John Boehner came to the floor as Democrats were poised to pass Obamacare. He issued this warning.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), THEN-MINORITY LEADER: Look at this bill. Ask yourself do you really believe that if you like the health plan that you have that you can keep it? No, you can't.

BASH: It's just one example of a Republican effort before the health care bill became law of the land, to push back on this presidential sales pitch.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period.


OBAMA: No one will take it away, no matter what.

BASH: That was the summer of 2009, during the heat of the health care legislative battle. So was this weekly GOP address.

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: On the stump, the president regularly tells Americans that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. But if you read the bill, that just isn't so. For starters within five years, every health care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage, one that your current plan might not match even if you like it.

BASH: Fast forward three years, that's exactly what's happening. Insurance companies are dropping Americans all across the country from their health plans, many because policies don't have coverage now required under Obamacare.

Democrats trying to calm concerned constituents call it a good thing.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: If we don't enforce this policy, insurance companies can continue offering flimsy coverage that disappears when people actually need it and no one should want that. BASH: The HHS secretary struggled to explain some current plans are no longer available because they are bad for consumers and no longer legal.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Many women are charged 50 percent more than men. That will be illegal.

BASH: The problem? That's not what people expected when they heard this over and over.

OBAMA: If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

BASH (on camera): While Republicans are eager to say I told you so, privately Democrats are increasingly frustrated and regretful that they let Americans with expectations that didn't pan out. In fact, this week, the number two House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, said they have been, quote, "more precise" in explaining that people may not be able to keep their current plans if they don't meet new mandatory coverage.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


PEREIRA: Big tech companies are calling for new laws to stop intelligence agencies like the NSA from hacking into their data centers. In a letter sent to Senate leaders Thursday, Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL all demanding greater transparency in surveillance programs. They're urging lawmakers to pass reforms that could give greater protection to privacy with more oversight and accountability.

BERMAN: The prime minister of Iraq set to meet with President Obama at the White House today. Nouri al-Maliki will be asking for help to fight a wave of terrorism that's sweeping across his country, attacks by al Qaeda killing 7,000 Iraqi citizens so far this year. It's an awful development. The prime minster wants Apache helicopters and better access to U.S. intelligence, warning if terrorists succeed in destabilizing Iraq, it will be a disaster, he says for the world.

PEREIRA: CNN has learned CIA security officers will now testify behind closed doors. At a house hearing on Benghazi, they are expected to provide greater details about the terror attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya last year. Members of Congress dissatisfied with the investigation so far have been trying to get access to the security officers. They will appear before law makes the week of November 11th.

BERMAN: The Israel government refusing to confirm whether they attacked a facility on Thursday. U.S. officials say the target was likely an advanced Russian missile system that Israeli feared was headed toward the Lebanon-based extremist group, Hezbollah. The air strike is believed to be the fifth conducted by Israeli inside Syria this morning. The Israeli government has not acknowledged any of the attacks.

PEREIRA: Controversy this morning over comments made by the father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. In a newly released video, the left-leaning news organization "Mother Jones" highlights a clip of Rafael Cruz calling the United States a Christian nation, telling the crowd, we need to send Barack Obama back to Kenya. Listen.


RAFAEL CRUZ, SEN. TED CRUZ'S FATHER: We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I'd like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia.



PEREIRA: Spokesperson for the senator declines CNN's offer to respond to those comments, and said -- pointing us to a statement given by "Mother Jones" that said, quote, "These selective quotes taken out of context, mischaracterized the substance of Pastor Cruz's message. Like many Americans, he feels America is on the wrong track", adding that Pastor Cruz does not speak for the senator.

BERMAN: There are Democrats in "Mother Jones" will point, though, that Pastor Cruz does actually campaign for the senator --

PEREIRA: Actively.

BERMAN: And speaks on his behalf, and did so throughout his election. And actually, he has a following of his own.

PEREIRA: A bit of a rock star in the movement.

BERMAN: A big rock star.

All right. Eleven minutes after the hour right now.

And, coming up, a surprising turnaround in a mysterious death.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time, what we need are people with facts and knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Johnson's death to present those to us.


BERMAN: Months after police called this death an accident, a new investigation launched into how a teenage boy ended up dead in his high school gymnasium.

PEREIRA: And retailers slashing prices ahead of schedule this holiday season. Why is Black Friday arriving so early this year, John Berman?

BERMAN: Way early. Like today!

Plus, it is time for your morning rhyme. Michaela is so good with this. PEREIRA: One and done.

BERMAN: Tweet us with your own original verse. It can be about anything, #earlystart, #morningrhyme. We will read the best ones on the air in our next half hour.

You are putting me to shame, my friend.

PEREIRA: One and done, baby.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The mysterious death of a Georgia teen is getting a federal review. U.S. prosecutors said Thursday they will investigate the death of Kendrick Johnson. The 17-year-old was found dead in January. He was found rolled up inside a gym mat in his high school gymnasium.

Local police called it a freak accident but his parents, they believe it was murder.

CNN's Victor Blackwell reports.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Huddled around a portable television on a south Georgia street corner where they staged an eight-month sit-in, the family of Kendrick Johnson watched the announcement they've been waiting for.

MICHAEL MOORE, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: I'm of the opinion my office will conduct a formal review of the facts and investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!

BLACKWELL: It's the second big victory for Kendrick's family. On Wednesday, a judge ordered Lowndes County sheriff's office to hand over its full investigative file, including the surveillance video from inside the gym where Kendrick died.

Barbara English is Kendrick's grandmother.

BARBARA ENGLISH, KENDRICK JOHNSON'S GRANDMOTHER: I'm so happy and I know we trust in the Lord and we hadn't been down here rallying for 32 weeks for nothing.

BLACKWELL: U.S. Attorney Michael Moore has called in the FBI to assist his office in the investigation and to get answers to several basic questions in the teen's January death.

MOORE: First, what was the cause of Mr. Johnson's death? Second, was Mr. Johnson's death the result of a crime? Third, if Mr. Johnson's death was the result of a crime, who committed that crime? BLACKWELL: Kendrick's parents never believed the local sheriff's explanation that Kendrick suffocated after squeezing his 19-inch shoulders into the 14 1/2-inch rolled gym mat to reach for a shoe in the middle of a school day.

Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson and their attorneys spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer moments after the announcement.

KENNETH JOHNSON, KENDRICK'S FATHER: I believe indeed that he was murdered.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have any idea who may have murdered him?

K. JOHNSON: No, I don't. That's what we want to get down to the truth.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FAMILY ATTORNEY: The only question we want to know is why are they covering up for whoever killed their son.

BLACKWELL: Questions about the sheriff's investigation have made the Johnson's suspicion, including why these shoes found yards from Kendrick's body were not collected as evidence and how this bloodstain ended up on this wall in the gym and why investigators never found whose blood it was.

And questions have also lingered about the state's autopsy. The official cause of death was positional asphyxia, Kendrick was suffocated by his own body weight. But a second autopsy paid for by the Johnson's found that Kendrick died from blunt force trauma, a blow to the neck.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Justice!

BLACKWELL: Hundreds have rallied for months for answers and Moore says he's received calls from many of the Johnson supporters.

MOORE: I appreciate the depth of those concerns, but at this time, what we need are people with facts and knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Johnson's death to present those to us.

BLACKWELL: In a statement to CNN, the attorney for Lowndes County sheriff's department writes in part, "While Sheriff Pine has every confidence that his office's investigation was handled with the necessary diligence to assure that all leads were examined and exhausted, he welcomes the U.S. Attorney's further review of the case."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for K.J. is coming!

BLACKWELL: Kendrick's family is grateful for the investigation but they call it a stepping stone. They say their push for answers will continue.

ENGLISH: Got to continue to fight on until justice is done for K.J.

BLACKWELL: Victor Blackwell, CNN, Macon, Georgia.


BERMAN: And our thanks to Victor for that report. Let's tip our hat to Victor right now who is doing tenacious reporting on this story, pushing for answers for weeks and weeks. He's doing a terrific job.

PEREIRA: Hopefully, Kendrick's family can get some elements of closure.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

I'm glad they're at least looking it a little bit more.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Eighteen minutes after the hour.

And got a shocking political scandal brewing. A big city mayor caught on tape smoking crack.

PEREIRA: Toronto.

BERMAN: Police apparently have the video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford doing that, smoking crack. The rumors have been swirling for a while. Ford has defiantly denied them. Thursday, he vowed not to step down.


ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: I have no reason to resign. I'm going to go back to return my phone calls and I'm going to be out doing what the people elected me to do and not spend taxpayers money and run a great government that we've been running for the last few years.


BERMAN: Police say the video was recovered during a drug and gang related raid. The revelation has thrown Canada's biggest city into turmoil. Still, the chief of police said there's nothing to warrant criminal charges but he did add, "As a citizen of the city, I'm disappointed."

Answer for Canada, Michaela.

PEREIRA: This has been going on so much time and so much controversy and so much intrigue, people have died, there were photos, there was video of the mayor, you know, seen smoking crack or something. It's been quite a controversy there in Toronto and for the nation. It's not necessarily a point of pride for many Canadians.

Moving on to other news, the United Airlines flight was diverted Thursday after an undisclosed threat. Forty-seven people aboard the plane that was bound -- that was going from San Francisco to San Antonio, but it was forced to make an emergency landing in Phoenix.

That plane was then taken to an isolated part of the airport. They did a search and no dangerous materials were found on board but the bomb squad and police dogs were brought in to search the plane. Again, nothing found. The jet was allowed to go on its way.

BERMAN: So, Wal-Mart not waiting for Cyber Monday this year. The retail giant is getting a one month head-start on the holiday shopping season, offering deep discounts and deals online starting when? Today!

PEREIRA: My anxiety level just increased rapidly.

BERMAN: The sale apparently includes 42-inch LED TVs for 299 bucks. It's on my list. Ten-inch tablets for under 50 bucks. This year, there are 6 fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

PEREIRA: Further, you're making me anxious.

BERMAN: They are slashing their prices everything. I think every day should be named cyber Friday. Happy Black Friday.

PEREIRA: What is Wednesday?

BERMAN: Wicked Wednesday. Taunting Tuesday.

PEREIRA: Taunting Tuesday.

BERMAN: Throwback Thursdays.

PEREIRA: I like it. Can you rename the week?

BERMAN: Every day of the week.

PEREIRA: Every day, it's happening here.

BERMAN: Before we do that, coming up next -- a nail biting game between the Bengals and the Dolphins. You will never guess who won this game. I can't because I simply don't know.

Joe Carter does and he will tell us who came out on top on "The Bleacher Report", coming up next.


BERMAN: So, get this. The Miami Dolphins may have saved their season last night, the entire thing. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime. Wow, and get this, it was on a walk-off safety.

I now have to see this.

Joe Carter with "The Bleacher Report". Hey, Joe.


What do you expect? The normal football game, this is Halloween night.

But I want to show this first, because on any other night, this would be he highlight of the game.

Cincinnati running back Giovani Bernard, he ties the game on a crazy long run. Now, this run goes in the books at 35 yards, but he actually run for more than 100 yards to get the score. Sweet play, yes.

But this play is the one that steals the show in overtime.

The Dolphins won the game on a rare walk off safety and Cameron Wake takes down Andy Dalton, and for just the third time in NFL history, a game would end on and overtime safety. Miami wins 22-20.

And as a franchise, the Dolphins are a perfect 6-0 when they play on Halloween night.

Only two games into the NBA season and already the Clippers Chris Paul put up a record setting night. He's the first player in NBA history to score 42 points, dished out 15 assists, and record six steals.

Now, LeBron James is on the only other player to put up 40 and 15 in a game. It's the six steals that puts CP3 in a class by himself.

Now, the Clippers could go on to win their first game in the season, beating Golden State by 11 points.

You know, we look forward to payday. I love payday. But I don't think we look forward to as much as Kobe Bryant will wake up this morning and he'll see a deposit in his bank account for $24 million! He may be injured but he still gets paid. Yes, his contract calls for a balloon payment of 80 percent of his salary up front. Now, the remaining $6 million of his $30 million deal will be paid out over the course of the season.

But how about that for guaranteed money? He's not even playing and you get $24 million up front.

PEREIRA: Where is the motivation? Although he doesn't need it. This man is unequal to the game but there is no motivation there.

BERMAN: You see anything about the games, and I'm thinking, who is his agent? I got to get that number!

PEREIRA: You want to call?

BERMAN: That's good!

PEREIRA: Joe Carter, always a delight. Thanks so much for that.

CARTER: Thanks, guys.

PEREIRA: Coming up the NSA accused of spying on U.S. citizens and world leaders and now, the Vatican?

BERMAN: The Vatican?

PEREIRA: The Vatican. A shocking new report, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)