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Obama Changes His Obamacare Promise; Election Day Heats Up for New Jersey and Virginia Races; Michele Knight Speaks Out

Aired November 5, 2013 - 11:00   ET




BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really like that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn't changed since the law has passed.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Keep it if? If? Wait, what happened to keep it, period?

Also coming up this hour, a lesson in survival, a lesson in strength, Michelle Knight is talking about her decade of torment and torture inside that Cleveland "house of horrors."

And it is election day 2013. We're going to run down today's big races that could have a huge impact on the direction of the United States of America.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Welcome. It is Tuesday, November 5th, election day. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW. Good to have you with us.

You have heard this one over and over again, right? If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.

Last night, though, that presidential promise got a wee bit of a tweak.

Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is live at the White House. Some might say it's a bit of semantics.

But you know what, Brianna, that tweak is really loud, and it's echoing across the country right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Ashleigh. Last night President Obama added a huge caveat to that statement.

Listen for the "if" in his sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: If you had or have one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really like that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn't changed isn't the law has passed.


KEILAR: If it hasn't changed since the law has passed, key new words there, Ashleigh.

A White House official insisting the president hasn't changed his tune, that he was just shorthanding there what was in the law, what has always been in the law.

But the thing is, Ashleigh, the law says that these old plans can be grandfathered in.

But what you're seeing is insurers not wanting to maintain an old group of these grandfathered-in plans, so a lot of people have been getting cancellations, and that's the reality that the White House and President Obama are now dealing with.

BANFIELD: Which is so bizarre, Brianna, because I've got to be honest with you.

When you think back over the last few years to the number of appearances and speeches that have been given that have been so emphatic, you've got to wonder, how could anyone have known that there'd be this strange, grandfathering problem?

Have a listen real quickly, Brianna, to the way it's been depicted over the last few years.


OBAMA: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor under the reform proposals that we put forward. If you like your private health insurance, you can keep it.

If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor too.

We will keep this promise to the American people, if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period.

If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan.

If you've got health insurance and you like your doctor and you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.

If you like your plan, you can keep your doctor. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.


BANFIELD: I can say it by rote just from hearing the news clips.

But, Brianna, it's like they didn't know the grandfathering was actually step-grandfathering.

How did that big detail get missed?

KEILAR: Well, I also think one of the bigger problems, one of the problems for the White House has been that this is such an issue.

I think they may have thought that some people would get cancellations, and they would be able to then turn to, what,, the federal exchange, and find an alternative plan that would meet their needs and these cancellations wouldn't be something that may upset them as much.

But as you can see, Ashleigh, that Web site is a mess, so a lot of people haven't been able to find an alternative.

I think you can say the White House is sort of -- the president, really, is transitioning now to the reality of what is going on here, but the White House is really loathe to admit it.

BANFIELD: Yeah, it's the kind of momentum that you just do not want.

Brianna Keilar, live for us, thank you, on the North Lawn.

And joining me now, live from Washington, D.C., is Wolf Blitzer.

Wolf, what a difference a few weeks can make. It's almost as though the Democrats are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory coming out of the government shutdown.

What's the deal now? Do they stay on message or do they go mea culpa?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": What they've got to do, first of all, they've got to fix that Web site and they're having enormous problems with it right now.

Every night this week from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Eastern, and that's -- remember, that's 10:00 p.m. out on the West Coast, they've got to shut down the Web site to work on it.

Now, they're saying for the vast majority of Americans, vast majority, not all, the vast majority, I don't know what vast majority means, it will be fixed by the end of November. We shall see.

But a lot of folks, they have been terminated with their health insurance. They have to have a new policy in place by December 15th. They have to pay the premiums in order to make sure that they're covered by January 1st when their current policies lapse.

And they don't want to be in a period from January 1st to February 1st or March or April where they have no health insurance. And if that Web site isn't working, they're going to be in deep, deep trouble. And there are a lot of nervous people out there, so you're absolutely right. The White House has good reason to be in major damage control right now. And they know it. They're under no illusions.

If this Web site would have been ready to go October 1st as they thought it might be, even though there were a lot of indications it wasn't going to be ready, then it would be a different story right now.

But clearly, it was a mess from the beginning, and they're paying an enormous price for that right now.

In the end, it might work out. Six months from now, a year from now, two years from now, maybe Americans will all have better health insurance at lower cost.

But right now, it looks gloomy for so many people out there.

BANFIELD: Wolf Blitzer, live for us in D.C., thank you for that.

I'm also joined now by CNN political commentators Will Cain and Marc Lamont Hill, and let the fireworks begin.

Will, I feel like I was ripping you a new one for making such a big deal of a bad Web site when it was just the site and not the plan that was the issue.

And now I feel like I'm almost just delivering this to you to shoot fish in a barrel.

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, all right, you just teed it up for me. It's time for me to spike it.

Look, again, I've said this from day one. The American people don't need people like me to come out and hold the megaphone. The problems with Obamacare are becoming self-evident to everyone.

I will say this, Ashleigh, the conversation you had with Brianna a little earlier, you talked about how could they not have known. How could they not have known about this grandfathering provision that makes the president's statement, "If you you're your healthcare plan, you can keep it, period," makes it false.

They did know. It was not a mistake. It was a lie. You cannot portray this in any other way. It was a lie. It was intended --

BANFIELD: That's pretty strident language to say --

CAIN: But it's true.

BANFIELD: -- to say it was a lie. How do you know that?

CAIN: Because it was put in place for two reasons, two calculated reasons they needed.

Number one, it was designed to destroy the individual healthcare market because they needed those people to go into the Obamacare exchanges.

Why did they need people to go in there? Number one, they thought it was better. They thought Obamacare provided better plans than those that were available on the individual market.

Two, they needed those young healthy people, those people that aren't sick, that do not have preexisting conditions --

BANFIELD: I hear all that.

But, you know what, for you to say -- maybe I'm a bit of a Pollyanna.

CAIN: Ashleigh, it's fault.

BANFIELD: Let me get Marc Lamont Hill on here.

Look, Marc, this is disastrous. The Web site was very problematic. This is a very big problem, because there are real people getting those real notices.

Why on Earth isn't the president coming out instead of tweaking the language, saying, you know, maybe this was an oversight, maybe this is a problem, but you're going to get great healthcare, you're going to get plans that are better than they were before, and we're going to help you do all this, and p.s., no major American policy's ever been launched without some glitches and problems?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he did say that with regard to the Web site. The president has been very clear in saying Obamacare's not the Web site.

He championed and expressed all the sort of high points of Obamacare in terms of people being covered, people getting access to health care who couldn't get it before.

He did that with the Web site, but with this grandfathering provision, it's a little more messy. He doesn't want to say --

BANFIELD: A little? Marc?

HILL: It's a lot more messy. I can see the point. Again, it's not defensible.

I think what happened was they have a very -- as Will said, they had a very clear idea of what they meant by it.

But I think as they went on the campaign trail advocating for this, they were getting so much resistance that the language became more slick, it became more glib and they felt very comfortable saying, look, you don't have to change your plan.

Now, the reason why I think this isn't the worst thing in the world, the reason why I completely disagrees with Will's premise that this somehow proves that Obamacare doesn't work, is because it actually does work.

The problem isn't that it doesn't work. The problem is that people have to make changes that, as the president said, they're scared of.

The people who are getting cancellation notices will have access to better plans, cheaper plans, oftentimes, and certainly plans that give them reasonable levels of consumer protection. That's a good thing.

CAIN: You know, I actually -- if I --

BANFIELD: Real quickly, last comment. Very quickly.

CAIN: We agreed. That is Obamacare working. That's not why it's not stridency for stridency's sake that I make the statement that it's a lie.

It was intended for this purpose. It was sold under a different language. That is an untruth.

BANFIELD: I don't like when you're saying it's a lie when you were not there devising that policy.

CAIN: I can hear truth. I can hear falsehoods.

BANFIELD: In a court of law, you would be run out of the room.

Listen, both of you, thank you. Will Cain --

CAIN: You will be apologizing to me again in another week, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I did not apologize to you.

HILL: He plays fast and loose with the facts here. You've got to watch this guy.

BANFIELD: I love you. All right, thanks, guy.

Right now, by the way, on Capitol Hill, as if there weren't enough yelling and screaming on Capitol Hill, a Senate committee is actually holding a hearing on Obamacare and the problems with the rollout.

The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Marilyn Tavenner, is currently testifying. We're going to keep an eye on that for you and bring you all of the details on that.

And, you know what, I do. I do think I actually did apologize. I did apologize to him. All right, so I'm going to roll that back.

OK, election day, lots of other politics to talk about, many people watching this guy, New Jersey's Chris Christie. He's quite the star.

Could this governor be really rolling out the stepping stones to the White House in two years?


BANFIELD: In America, there is just no such thing as a small election.

You don't have to live in New Jersey or Virginia where the voters are choosing governors there today, or in southwest Alabama where the Republicans are choosing a nominee to fill a congressional seat, to actually feel the impact of the choices those voters are making.

Yeah, it affects all of us, because those dots you see on the map are major cities from Seattle to Miami to Boston, choosing their mayors today.

For New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, re-election is about as close to a sure thing as politics can offer you.

And that's not counting the New York mayor's race. I look to say "shooting fish in a barrel," so I'll just say that.

And it may just be a dress rehearsal for Chris Christie to a really, really big election that's three years from now.

CNN's Erin McPike has that.


CROWD: Christie! Christie!

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is headed for a landslide victory to re-election. Another step on the way to what many say is an inevitable presidential run in 2016.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: America is going to be watching New Jersey.

MCPIKE: The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows him doubling his lead over his opponent, State Senator Barbara Buono. The National Democratic Party gave up on her months ago.

CHRISTIE: The whole country is watching. They're dispirited about the way government works. They look at the mess in Washington, D.C.

MCPIKE: Christie is road testing that anti-Washington message as he openly considers what's next for him.

CHRISTIE: I can do this job and also deal with my future. And that's exactly what I will do.

MCPIKE: Next year, Christie will run the Republican Governor's Association, a fund-raising organization other prominent Republican governors have used to develop a national base as they gear up for a presidential bid, like Mitt Romney did.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris could easily become our nominee and save our party and help get this nation on the right track again.


MCPIKE: Now, Ashleigh, just within the last hour, Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, came here to this polling station and cast their votes for governor. An then when he came outside, he was greeted by a huge scrum of reporters. This is a little bit of inside baseball, but that's of course because everyone is watching to see what he does as he gets ready for a likely presidential bid in 2016.

I asked him, is this the last time we'll see you vote for yourself? And he said I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to vote for myself again. I wanted to get it right, so I took a little extra time in the voting booth. Well, maybe a little coy, but we'll see if our Jake Tapper can get a little more out of him in his exclusive interview with him today on "THE LEAD" at 4PM. Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Looking forward to that. Erin McPike, thank you. And it's always great to be able to watch those pictures live as they go in there to presumably vote for themselves. Erin, thanks for that.

Compared to New Jersey, the Virginia race is a bit of a nail-biter. Still, the Democrat Terry McAuliffe has established himself as the front runner against the state's Republican attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, and the Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis.

So, what about all of that? Why does that matter to you, if you are states and states away? My colleague Dana Bash joins me from D.C., with the answer to that burning question. And isn't it really this? Where are we at as a nation when it comes to how we're choosing our people and how polarized we've become?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And Virginia really is a tell- tale state when it comes to answering that question. You remember four years ago in 2009 it was sort of the canary in the coal mine for the Tea Party movement. The Republican Bob McDonnell won there and that really did, politically, get the ball rolling for the next year in 2010 when Republicans swept and retook the House of Representatives.

But now the question is whether that's completely turned on its head, Ashleigh. Because the whole issue there was sort of big government, anger at Washington, and concern about what then was still the Obamacare bill becoming law. Now, the Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli has at least in the past couple of weeks been sort of trying to recapture that as people are more concerned now that Obamacare is the law of the land and concerned about the way it's being implemented. He hasn't been doing that much good with that because the Democrat has been able to paint him as an extremist in a way that wasn't possible four years ago because of anger at Washington.

BANFIELD: And you don't often see Terry McAuliffe, and I'm just talking figuratively here, without a Clinton at his side. Has that been a big factor in that race?

BASH: It is. You know, when you talk about 2016 looking ahead, Terry McAuliffe is about as close to the Clintons as any politician or political operative has -- could be over the past decades. They were very aggressive in being there for him fundraising, in campaigning for him. And looking ahead to a potential Hillary Clinton run, the fact that Terry McAuliffe does look like he's ahead in the polls, if he does in fact pull this off, this could be a feather in her cap, not to mention a very important ally in a purple state that has helped elect Barack Obama the first and second term in a pretty surprising way. It could potentially help her as well if she does in fact throw her hat in the ring.

BANFIELD: And like we say, there are no small elections in this country. Let's hope that's the case in midterms. Dana Bash, thank you. Good to see you.

I want to remind our viewers to turn into CNN for all of your election coverage, and all of the results will be live throughout the evening, giving that to you.

Just ahead, I know you know this story, but you may not know it in in- depth. She was chained to a pole, she was tied like a fish. Michele Knight is now sharing her living hell inside the house of Ariel Castro. That's coming next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. She was kidnapped at age 21, lured into a car with promises of a ride. And that was just the beginning of Michele Knight's horrific nearly 11 year ordeal at the hands of Ariel Castro.

Martin Savidge gives us a preview now of her interview with Dr. Phil as she gives disturbing detail after detail about what went on in that house of horrors in Cleveland.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michele Knight says she was lured into Cleveland's so-called "House of Horrors" by Ariel Castro, telling Dr. Phil about the moment she realized she was his prisoner.

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": Did you fight him at that time?

MICHELE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: At that time, no, because I was shocked.

MCGRAW: You panicked, just froze?

KNIGHT: Yes, and the only thing I could do was cry, begging him to let me go back to my son --

MCGRAW: What did you say to him?

KNIGHT: I said, please don't do this to me and he said, again, he can't take me back and then he throws money at me.

MCGRAW: What was the significance of him throwing money at you?

KNIGHT: He was obsessed with prostitutes, and he thought I was a 13- year-old prostitute. When he found out my real age he got mad. SAVIDGE: It is the first time that Knight has spoken in detail about the decade of rape, deprivation and torture she suffered inside Castro's home. What happened in the home was known from police reports, but hear Knight recount it herself is almost unbearable.

MCGRAW: What did he tie you up with?

KNIGHT: One of those orange extension cords. I was tied up like a fish, an ornament on the wall. That's the only way I can describe it. I was hanging like this. My feet and I was tied by my neck and my arms with an extension cord going like that.

MCGRAW: My God, so he tied your hands and feet and also around your neck and hung you?

SAVIDGE: Noticeably absent from the interview were Knight's co- captives, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. Together, those two have decided to speak out in the form of a book, slated to come out next year.Knight was also the only one to speak at Castro's sentencing in August.

Dr. Phil talked to Anderson Cooper on "AC 360."

MCGRAW: She said she was referred to as the unbreakable one. She fought him every step of the way. She would fight back. She would challenge him. She would argue with him and she would pay the price for it.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


BANFIELD: He had the means and he had the opportunity, but the motive of the man who fired six or more rifle shots in a crowded New Jersey mall last night, doesn't seem to be murder. Investigators say Richard Shoop walked in just before closing time dressed in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet and started firing rounds into a storefront and an escalator, and then an elevator, and the ceiling. One witness said it was like a horror movie.

But in the end, no one has hit and no one has hurt. But six hours later, police did find something. They found his body in a remote corner of that sprawling mall complex. And he was dead from a self- inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The police did continue to search the mall for clues and for terrified bystanders who might still be hiding. That went on well into the daylight hours.

The NFL and others are wondering just what is happening inside the Miami Dolphins' locker room. One player has quit and another is suspended. Is this something much worse than bullying? Is this hazing? Is this something maybe much worse? We're live in Miami, next.