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Americans Voting in Key Races; Mall Shooting in New Jersey; Tarmac Fire in Canada; Snowden's NSA Leaks Continue; Toronto Mayor Admits Smoking Crack

Aired November 5, 2013 - 12:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, we're learning more about the New Jersey mall shooter. We'll hear from someone who was inside the mall during his shooting spree.

Hello, everyone. This is AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Hala Gorani. I'm in for Suzanne Malveaux, and Michael Holmes is off today.

Welcome, once again, everyone. Well, today is Election Day across the United States. Some very key races we're going to be looking at in many states and cities around the country. Voters are casting ballots to pick mayors and governors and also decide some pretty important ballot initiatives. We'll get to those in a moment.

Now, as I mentioned, some key races are taking place. They could offer clues to the presidential contest in 2016 and also the next congressional election. CNN's covering the latest with our best political players and we want to check in now with chief national correspondent John King in Virginia.

It looks like we could be seeing a major sea change if liberal Democrat Terry McAuliffe wins, becoming governor. Let's first start with Virginia before moving on to New Jersey, John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, a fascinating race in the sense of two candidates, both parties would admit perhaps not the premier players that they would like on this stage. But remember, you had a Democratic governor of Virginia, then another Democratic governor, right now a Republican governor. President Obama carried this state twice. Democrats want a Democratic victory tonight to try to make the case Virginia is shifting from a one-time red state, becoming a blue state.

Now, fascinating issues at play in this race. The very same issues that will be at play next year in the midterm elections and likely in the 2016 presidential campaign, as well -- the government shutdown, the tactics of the Tea Party and the president's health care plan.

Here's one thing to watch tonight in Virginia. Do a majority of the voters oppose Obamacare? Do they have disagreements with the president's health care plan and yet, at the same time, do they elect a Democratic governor? Do they reject a Republican candidate who's among the first attorneys general to challenge it? If that happens, Hala, watch for Republicans to have a painful lesson about whether their candidate was too far to the right, especially in a state that is shifting more toward a moderate purple state.

GORANI: Right. And we mentioned 2016. Terry McAuliffe, of course, very close to the Clintons. Could be seen perhaps as sort of what could it mean for the possible Hillary Clinton run in 2016 if it indeed does happen.

And another key race is New Jersey. Now we're expecting Chris Christie, the star of the GOP right now, to sail to re-election. What could that mean for his future political ambitions within the GOP?

KING: Well, he's already said it's inevitable that people will start talking about him as the 2016 presidential contender. So what does he want to do, Hala? He's actually hoping that he can contrast his win with what he expects to be a Republican loss in the state of Virginia. What Chris Christie wants to say is, here I won big in a blue state. A state Republicans haven't carried for president since George H.W. Bush. You have to go back to 1988 for Republicans carrying New Jersey in a presidential election.

Watch this for Chris Christie. How does he do among independents? How does he do among African-Americans? Can he tell Republican primary voters, look, like George W. Bush, I can expand the base. I can win Latino votes. Republicans know they lost big in 2008 and 2012 because they not only overwhelmingly lost the African-American vote, they got killed among Latino voters and they also had a significant gender gap, especially among college educated women. So, look deeply today. If Christie wins big, as we expect, look behind the numbers to see if he can tell Republicans, look at me, I can do what McCain and Romney couldn't.

GORANI: All right, it's going to be very interesting in clues today as to how things move forward in future elections and, of course, 2016. We'll be watching you, John King, and the rest of our team in Washington and across the country.

Our Jake Tapper is in New Jersey today, in fact, following Governor Chris Christie. He just spoke with him about Christie being Christie. Let's listen to what Christie had to say about being a conservative.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think of yourself as a conservative? Do you think of yourself as a moderate? How - how --

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I'm a conservative. And, you know, I've governed as a conservative of this state. And I think that's what's lead to some people disagree with me in our city because it's generally a left of center state. But I think that the difference has been, I haven't tried to hide it or mask it as something different. I just tell people, this is who I am.


GORANI: All right. That message expected to work, at least according to the latest polls for Chris Christie. And you can see Jake's full interview with the New Jersey governor at 4:00 p.m. on "The Lead" right here on CNN. Stay tuned.

She is already apologized for the ridiculous roll-out of the Obamacare website. Now, the top official for Medicare and Medicaid is back on Capitol Hill today. This time, Marilyn Tavenner is answering a Senate panel. Lawmakers are slamming the Obama administration for the website failures and also cancellation notices reaching millions of people who buy individual insurance policies. Listen.


SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: So the president promised you can -- if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. But, in fact, the plan cancels millions of individual policies. And for millions of others, employers are dropping insurance programs as they discover the added cost of Obamacare.

For these Americans, the new promise is, if you want health care, go find it on the website that the administration says won't be working properly until the end of November. That's an unwelcome Christmas present. Only two weeks to shop for and buy new insurance policy by December 15 so that you're covered next year when Obamacare outlaws your policy.


GORANI: Tavenner says the Obamacare website now can process five registrants per second. She's restating the administration line that the health care website will be working properly by the end of this month.

Now to a bizarre tragedy we reported on CNN yesterday evening. Police say a 20-year-old man went on a shooting rampage at a shopping mall in New Jersey. Now, amazingly, nobody was hit in the hail of gunfire. Police say the shooter killed himself in an obscure part of Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in the end. He had no history of violence and no known motive, so still plenty of questions out there. Thousands of people were in the mall at the time of the shooting, including Samantha Saleh and several of her family members. Samantha joins me now by phone. She's in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.

Samantha, tell us where you were when all of this happened.

SAMANTHA SALEH, NEW JERSEY MALL SHOOTING WITNESS (via telephone): We were actually minutes in - before that in Nordstrom and then headed out towards the Apple store. So we were in the Apple store when we heard the gunshots go off.

GORANI: Where were you in relation to the shooter?

SALEH: Well, from what I've heard some other people who had seen him, they said that he was coming from Nordstrom, walking towards Macy's. And if you're not familiar with the mall, the Apple store is in the middle, in between those two stores. So he was heading towards us, because we heard the gunshots. It was very clear and very loud that they were, you know, around the store that we were at.

GORANI: So it was very near. So you didn't see the shooter, but heard the shooting?

SALEH: No, we did not see him. We heard it very clear. We heard the first three gunshots go off. And at that time, we didn't know whether it was, you know, something that fell or, you know, or something that kind of backfired. We all kind of stood. They closed the door and then we heard an additional three gunshots and that's when we knew that they were gunshots. And everybody started screaming and we ran towards the back of the store trying to find exits to evacuate.

GORANI: Right. And so you knew - so you're saying right away - and this happens often with people who witness or at least hear shooting, you don't realize right away it's a shooting. But when you do, what did you do right away?

SALEH: Oh, we just - we just started -- everybody screamed and we kind of just wanted to evacuate, trying to find an exit, you know, and one of the - actually the workers wasn't even letting us out and then, you know, it wasn't for another worker that had to come in and say, open the door and let us out. It was - you know he was just in a survival mode at that moment -

GORANI: Right.

SALEH: And just wanted to like leave and just be outside because we -- I just -- we just had a - we just thought that he was coming towards the store because we heard the gunshots so loud and clear.

GORANI: Samantha, I just wanted to tell our viewers that we're seeing a picture of you and your two children there as well. Thanks very much for joining us, Samantha Saleh, who heard the gunshots at that mall in New Jersey. Thankfully nobody was wounded or killed as a result of that bizarre incident, as we were saying, that young man believed to have opened fire in this shopping mall. Samantha Saleh, thanks.

In Denver, what started out as a big scare with two teens spotted carrying guns into a middle school, well, it appears to have been nothing more than an attempted burglary. Police say two 15-year-olds broke into the building armed with what appeared to be BB guns and ransacked several rooms before being taken into custody. A witness saw the boys entering the building at 10:00 p.m. local time and no students were in the building at the time.

Coming up, do stay with us on CNN. A dramatic scene caught on tape. The people scrambling to get out of that. A plane filling up with smoke. Wouldn't you? They all ran for their lives after a luggage conveyer belt caught on fire. We're live from Canada with the very latest.

Then, smugglers are helping jihadi fighters sneak into Syria. Our exclusive report follows the route they take from an airport in Turkey right to the Syrian border and into the country. Plus, we'll hear from one would be jihadist looking forward to his mission.

You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GORANI: Well, a scary scene in Canada. Fire sweeps across the tarmac and that triggered an emergency exit. These are some incredible images as people had to scramble out of a plane on the tarmac in Montreal. Paula Newton is in Canada.

Tell us, first off, before what the cause is thought to be of all of this. Have there been any injuries? Anyone hurt on the plane as a result?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I just got off the phone with an investigator from the Transportation Safety Board here in Canada, and he did confirm what he knows (INAUDIBLE) minor (INAUDIBLE) may have been more. (INAUDIBLE) as traveled down those shoots as you can see in the video, Hala, (INAUDIBLE). He confirmed as well that they are trying to figure out what (INAUDIBLE) engine of the (INAUDIBLE) conveyer belt. (INAUDIBLE) this flight was (INAUDIBLE) from Casablanca. They were deplaning people, as well as off-loading luggage. At that point, the -- it overheated. That vehicle attached to the conveyer belt for the luggage overheated and that started that incredibly dangerous fire.

And I don't have to remind anyone about how dangerous fire is on a tarmac like that. That is what triggered that emergency evacuation. At issue here, beyond what caused that fire and explosion from that vehicle, who ordered the evacuation and how was it carried out.

Now, Hala, he confirmed for me that this is the procedure. That when you see a fire like that on the tarmac, you are supposed to immediately evacuate the aircraft. What they want to know is how this happened and how that might have led to some of the injuries as the crew were trying to get people to deplane as quickly as possible.

GORANI: And do we know if the injured were on board? Was it smoke? Was it something related to the fire? Was it on the tarmac? Or do we not have those --

NEWTON: It was definitely (ph) - they were treated for smoke inhalation (INAUDIBLE) a very scary (INAUDIBLE) and minor injuries, though, Hala, seem to (INAUDIBLE) down those shoots and --

GORANI: All right, Paula, we're having issues hearing you there, but we got the gist of it and you see essentially some of those dramatic images showing the fire, the very heavy smoke. Three minor injuries. Investigators still working on determining a cause - a cause behind what happened there in Montreal.

And coming up, we have a lot more here on AROUND THE WORLD. They criticized the U.S. for spying on world leaders, but it turns out Brazil was doing the same according to reports. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


GORANI: Well, really a matter of days after the U.S. government was forced to defend itself for spying on friends and allies, there are new revelations and reports about spy programs carried out by Great Britain and Brazil.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden now show that Britain's surveillance agency is operating a network of electronic spy posts in Germany in Berlin, not far from the seat of power.

And just a month after Brazil's leader spoke at the U.N., criticizing the U.S. for spying on her, the Brazilian government now admits it spied on the U.S. and some of its interests.

Christiane Amanpour joins me now, live from New York.

All right, so, I suppose you have the president of Brazil complaining, delaying a trip to Washington and now, this comes out.

So, now what?


The Brazilian intelligence service has admitted some of these spying allegations. They say that it was in the past, that it was against, apparently, Russian and Iranian diplomats there, also some business development with the United States there. But they're saying that it pales in comparison to their complaints over the widespread NSA dragnet.

Now, the U.S. can't seem to get away from this controversy. Today, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about it directly, point blank, by reporters in Poland when he made a stop there. He skirted the question of whether they were actually, the U.S., spying on Polish leaders, but he repeated what the Obama administration is saying, and that is they're conducting a big review of this. He, again, reiterating what he said in the past, that a lot of this espionage, a lot of this dragnet, he said, had overreached.

And in the meantime, of course, as we know, the U.S., the White House, the Obama administration, is trying to figure out ways of reining in some of the espionage. We're not sure how that's going to revolve around the NSA and how they're going to come together to do that, but there is obviously a huge political fallout that continues over all of this, Hala.

GORANI: But I suppose the question is, does it really harm relations between countries?

And we can also talk about Great Britain's reported spy program and outposts in Berlin in Germany. Is that something that countries know about each other and this is just embarrassing because it's being made public, or do you think this is coming as a surprise to some leaders?

AMAPOUR: I think maybe a little bit of both, but in general, most people are not surprised that spying happens. Many have been surprised about the extent of it, the breadth of it, the actual people and personnel who are actually spied on. You know, the U.S. and Britain have a very close relationship in this regard, intelligence, as does the U.S. with the other English-speaking nations.

And we spoke with German foreign minister last week, and I asked him point blank, is this going to harm relations? And he said, well, you know, you don't find terrorists by spying on our leaders. That was a pointed reference to the reports of Angela Merkel's phone being tapped.

But when I asked him, would the U.S./E.U. free trade agreement, a very important agreement that's being worked out, would that be hampered? He said we really don't want that to be the case. We are strong allies of the United States. This is a very, very important agreement.

But you can be sure that many, many American business leaders have been complaining to the White House and to Congress and to, I guess, the intelligence services that this could harm billions and billions of dollars of American business overseas and that is an area where that is going to have an impact on policy makers.

GORANI: And one of the questions out there I think ordinary people hearing, wonder, what is the point, really, of spying on friends if it's not economic espionage in order to get the upper hand in things like trade negotiations for instance?

AMANPOUR: This is something that's gone on for a long, long time. I mean, I keep going back to where the story first broke in its latest iteration, Madeleine Albright saying, look -- and she was the former U.S. secretary of state -- when I ambassador to the U.N., I know that the French spied on me and tapped my phone.

So, a lot of this does happen. I think that most people understand that it happens, but ordinary people have not been aware of the massive extent of it.

And I think again, you can go to the extent of it and the particular areas that are being looked at. For instance, it was widely reported yesterday, in fact, Google chairman Eric Schmidt spoke to CNN, and he said this is a massive overreach by the NSA.

We all understand, these are his words, that you have to go after counterterrorism efforts, but, and he said, that in order to get details on 300 people, you don't have to get every single phone record of 320 million people. So it's sort of putting into perspective the extent of it and what worries so many people. There isn't much news as to whether the U.S. is really going to reign in the huge metadata dragnet.

Right now, they say they have to keep doing it because it could take years for technology to progress to a point where they can be maybe more subjective about what they go after.

GORANI: Right. And this is -- we're talking about foreign leaders, of course, separate from the reports of the NSA and its mega data collection of millions and millions of phone calls and other communications services, potentially.

Thanks very much, our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour in New York.

President Obama and Vice President Biden are meeting with business leaders this hour to talk about immigration reform.

They're trying to get them on board with their plan to create a path to citizenship for nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., a contentious issue nobody -- it's not easy to find agreement on it and, we'll have a debate, next.

Stay with us on CNN.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone.

A bit of breaking news, you'll remember the Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, who repeatedly denied having smoked crack cocaine. Well, today, he has come out and admitted that he did indeed, at one point, smoke crack cocaine. This happened at a press -- press remarks that were aired on Canadian television.

Police said a few days ago that they had video of Rob Ford that appeared to show that he was smoking out of a pipe. At the time, he didn't admit to having smoked crack. He said he wanted that video released. This was a few days ago. He said that on a radio show. Well, today, he has come out and admitted, the Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, admitting to having smoked crack-cocaine. We haven't seen the video. It's in the possession of the police, unclear what impact this will have on his political career.

President Obama and Vice President Biden are meeting with business leaders at the White House to talk about immigration reform. The president has been pushing to put immigration back on the agenda. A Senate bill passed earlier this year that had little hope of passing the Republican-controlled House, it creates a path to citizenship for nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., something most Republicans oppose.