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Election Roundup; MacNeill Murder Trial; Kmart Under Fire

Aired November 6, 2013 - 04:30   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And Toronto's embattled mayor finally coming clean, admitting he smoked crack during a drunken stupor. That doesn't mean he's about to step down. Amazing.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is the talker. This is all we've been talking about this morning.

MARQUEZ: I -- we're going to (INAUDIBLE) in Toronto this week and talk about him more, I think.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. We're really glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez in for the lovely and talented John Berman.


MARQUEZ: It is 30 minutes past the hour. He is lovely and talented.

SAMBOLIN: I agree. Totally.

MARQUEZ: Come on. John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: It's a shock you're saying it.


MARQUEZ: All right. Election Day 2013 is in the books. Let's take a look now at some of the key races and initiatives on the ballots across the country.

Martin Walsh narrowly edged out fellow Democrat John Conley to become Boston's new mayor. He takes over for outgoing mayor, Thomas Menino.

Voters in at least six of 11 rural Colorado counties voting down a proposal to secede from the state. Results are still being tallied.

And Portland, Maine, voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana, making it the first East Coast city to do so. Very, very interesting.

We now go to CNN political director Mark Preston live in Washington.

Mark, what does last night's election, all these ballots say about what's going on out there? MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it says that there's a lot of interesting things going on across the country, not just the elections in Virginia and New Jersey, and of course New York City.

But let's start about what's going on with the Republican Party, Miguel, down in Alabama. We were looking at a congressional runoff race between a Tea Partier versus an establishment Republican. This was a very close race down there. We're looking at it because there was such a battle within the GOP about the direction of the party and what the influence that the Tea Party has over it.

However, the establishment Republican won. And for many Republicans here in Washington they're very happy because had the Tea Partier won this runoff, he would have likely won the general election. And he is a birther. So can you imagine that, having somebody come to Congress saying that President Obama was not born in the United States -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Well, that win in Alabama, combined with Cuccinelli's loss in Virginia, seems to indicate that the Tea Party may be on the ropes? Is that the right way to read that?

PRESTON: You know, I think you can look at it like a seesaw, sometimes they're up, sometimes they're down. They've been down for a little bit. We saw them come -- rise up a little bit certainly with the government shutdown and the rise of Ted Cruz and how he was able to shut the government down for 16 days over his opposition to Obamacare.

I don't think they're dead yet. And I do think that they will continue to rise again. But certainly if you're an establishment Republican you're very happy with these results in Mobile, Alabama.

MARQUEZ: Did the establishment really go after these campaigns? Do they really want the establishment candidate in Alabama to win? Was there a pretty tough inter-Republican fight down there?

PRESTON: There was, Miguel. In fact, we saw a lot of money come out of Washington, D.C., certainly from business interests that went in to help the establishment candidate win. A former state senator who had run for governor but to win that race, that money was certainly influential in helping defeat the Tea Party candidate Dean Young down there.

MARQUEZ: Ballot initiatives across the country. Colorado has an interesting one. It kind of went two ways. They voted to tax marijuana. But not to raise taxes for schools. What did all that mean?

PRESTON: Well, it shows that we're certainly in a whole new world order, Miguel. Where you live in California, marijuana, while it is for medical purposes, it very much is just legal. You get a license and it's accepted. In Colorado, of course, we've seen the explosion of legalized marijuana out there. And what we saw is that voters out there decided to put a 25 percent tax on the sale of marijuana. And that money is going to raise about $70 million. That $70 million is going to go to school construction. In many ways kind of reminds you of what the lottery was established for in many states. To help school construction. Marijuana has certainly gone into the mainstream.

MARQUEZ: Yes. I was fascinated that Portland, Maine, is the first East Coast city to approve recreational use. So if it's successful, do you see other states? Are we going to see a lot more legalization of marijuana and pot across the country?

PRESTON: Well, I can't imagine that we don't see it. And as you said, Portland passing the referendum last night to decriminalize the possession of 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana certainly is a big victory for advocates of it.

What they hope to do, it seems, is now that they have the city having passed this ordinance, they're going to try to pass it within the state. So certainly, you know, we will see that continue to build up in Maine and I'm sure you're going to see it in other states. No question.

MARQUEZ: Another thing, in Colorado, that famously purple state, now getting bluer and bluer by the day, it seems. But several counties wanted to secede from the state. It doesn't look like it's going well for them. I think that that's coming as a surprise to folks there, yes?

PRESTON: Yes, it is. But, you know, this is one of those -- one of those silly things I think that we see in politics. The fact is, we're not going to have a 51st state. The last state to secede actually from the union was in 1863. I certainly wasn't born then. And I know you and Zoraida were not.

In fact, could you imagine that we would have a 51st state? But, you know, what it does show is that there's a lot of anger across the country and, you know, the country is very much divided. We are a divided country. And what we've seen in Colorado, they're angry over gun rights, they think that Colorado is certainly becoming a little bit more liberal. And they're upset over the cost of energy. So a very local issue, but certainly an angry sentiment across the country.

MARQUEZ: From the silly to the serious, Mark Preston, thank you very much.

PRESTON: Thank you, sir.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Let's stay on politics, shall we? It was never in doubt. Governor Chris Christie cruised to re-election Tuesday in New Jersey routing his little known opponent by more than 20 points. The win vaults him to the front ranks of a posing presidential contenders for 2016. And exit polls reveal a strong showing among solidly Democratic leaning demographics, such as women, young people, African-Americans and Hispanics. MARQUEZ: And in an about-face this morning for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. He said he didn't smoke crack but now he's admitting for the first time that he did. He said it happened about a year ago when he was in a drunken stupor and, of course, he's apologizing.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I embarrassed everyone in the city. And I will be forever sorry.


MARQUEZ: Well, despite growing pressure on Ford to resign, he says he was elected to do the job. And that's what he's going to continue to do. And his poll numbers seem to be going only --



SAMBOLIN: Interesting.

All right. Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. Admission of guilt from Senator Rand Paul this morning over accusations of plagiarism. The Kentucky Republican took personal responsibility for failing to properly source material in speeches and some of his published writings. He says that the oversights were caused by staff providing him with background materials that were not properly footnoted.

MARQUEZ: And lawmakers in Illinois giving the green light to gay marriage. After a year of intense lobbying by both sides, the state is now the 15th in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. President Obama applauded the move in his home state saying, "Our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

Governor Pat Quinn says he'll sign the bill. It will take effect June 1st.

SAMBOLIN: So if you happen to be traveling today, let's get a quick check of the forecast.

MARQUEZ: And I will be.

SAMBOLIN: With me -- you're leaving me?

MARQUEZ: Back to lovely L.A.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to miss you. I'm going to miss you.

Let's check the weather for you, right?

MARQUEZ: Yes, fine. Chad?


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, guys. D.C. metro, some fog, Pittsburgh same story. We're going to see some winds in St. Louis and Detroit. Really windy still across parts of Florida, Dallas and Seattle, some gusty winds, some low clouds, also Seattle and Portland. Some afternoon showers.

I know this looks like a mess. But in fact, really short delays almost everywhere there. So I'm not a real big travel ugly day.

Warm air across parts of the East Coast. Rain showers -- there they are -- all the way from Canada, right on back down into Texas, Ontario, Quebec get wet again.

The cold air is kind of coming into the west. Warming air up a little bit in the east. 70 for Atlanta today, 51 in Denver. It doesn't make it to 40 degrees in Minneapolis today.

Back to you.

MARQUEZ: Senor Myers, thank you very much.

Utah prosecutors are wrapping up their case against Dr. Martin MacNeill who is accused of murdering his wife to be with his mistress. Among their final witnesses, three prison inmates who served time with MacNeill and said the doctor revealed details of his wife's death but stopped short of admitting he killed her.

CNN's Jean Casarez is covering the trial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he have a nickname?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Now do you know why he had that nickname?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he say he was a doctor.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In shackles under heavy guard, with their identities hidden, three inmates who served time with Martin MacNeill told the court he confessed to killing his wife without actually saying it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doc, they say you murdered your wife. And he was like, no, I didn't murder my wife. If I did, they don't have any evidence so, you know, you know, and I was like, But, Doc, they said that you murder -- he was like, na-ah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, they told me that you -- that you killed your wife. And he said that if -- if that was true -- if they could prove that, do you think I'd be sitting here talking with you? So I said, well, did you do it? He said best trial.

CASAREZ: MacNeill was sentenced in 2009 to four years at Texarkana federal prison in Texas for an identity theft convicton. His fellow prisoners saying MacNeill got along well with other inmates, helped them with their medical issues, and regularly worked out with them in the yard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I was like, whoa, Doc, you know, you -- you know, you're talking ill of the dead, you know what I'm saying? And he was like, he just got this look on his face like he didn't want to talk about it anymore and walked off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to be crude but when you say B of a life, what do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He called her a bitch.

CASAREZ: At the inmate's request they were not shown on camera for their own safety, telling jurors they were scared because snitches face certain retribution when they return to prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the 14 years almost that I've locked up, I -- I seen snitches get killed. I've seen snitches get stabbed. I've seen snitches get isolated. I've seen snitches get raped, you know, all type of stuff.

CASAREZ: Prosecutors say Dr. MacNeill killed his wife of 30 years by drowning her in the family bathtub after plowing her with a potent mix of prescription drugs. All, they say, so he could marry his mistress Gypsy Willis.

On cross-examination, the defense argued that the inmates were making up their stories, lying for the purposes of having their sentences reduced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. MacNeill never told you that he killed his wife, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never told me he killed his wife.

CASAREZ: The prisoners said they took a liking to the doctor during his time with them in prison and so they had no animosity toward him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I've never had a problem with doc.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any problem with him now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have a problem with him now. You know, I really hope he didn't do it, to be honest.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, Provo, Utah.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Jean.

Forty-two minutes past the hour, we are hearing more disturbing details from Michelle Knight about her 11-year kidnapping ordeal at the hands of Ariel Castro. Knight speaking out to Dr. Phil. She said she was treated like an animal by her abductor, constantly chained to a pole.


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL SHOW": You just laid on the concrete floor in the dark?

MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: Well, it was kind of like being like this, because I couldn't lay down. Because the pole would hold me up.

MCGRAW: Because of the chain around your neck?


MCGRAW: Were you able to sleep some?

KNIGHT: No, I just mainly passed out from the chain being around my neck.


SAMBOLIN: This really just takes your breath away, doesn't it?

MARQUEZ: So disturbing.

SAMBOLIN: Incredible. More from that interview coming up in the next half our of EARLY START.

MARQUEZ: An emotional apology this morning from the parents of Jose Reyes. He's the seventh grader at Sparks Middle School in Nevada who shot two students and killed a teacher before turning the gun on himself two weeks ago. Jose Emiliano Reyes saying they did not know their 12-year-old son was upset about conditions at the school.


JOSE REYES, FATHER OF SCHOOL SHOOTER: My wife and I want to express our sincere condolence to Mr. Landsberry's wife and family. We want to express our sympathy for the injured boys and their families. We are sorry for all this happening and grief, that this incident has caused.


MARQUEZ: So sad. Services for Michael Lansberry, the teacher who was killed, were held over the weekend. Both students injured in the shooting have been released from the hospital.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, thinking of buying a house but you can't come up with a big enough down payment? You just got a break.

MARQUEZ: I need it.

SAMBOLIN: Why you may not need that cash after all, Miguel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is "Money Time." And Maribel Aber is here for us this morning. And missing is Miguel Marquez because he excused himself, Maribel, to go to the little incursed room.



SAMBOLIN: In his words. Anyway, what do you have for us this morning?

ABER: Well, you know, I like talking about holidays. I like talking about shopping. We're only 48 days until Christmas, by the way.

SAMBOLIN: You the woman who shop a year in advance? Yes.

ABER: Yes. Yes. Well, let's talk about what's got folks a little bit upset, though. Kmart shoppers and many others are not pleased with the retailer's Thanksgiving and Black Friday schedules. Kmart announced that it will stay open for 41 hours straight starting at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. No gobble, gobble, gobble. Hundreds of Kmart customers took to social media and threatened to boycott the store if they didn't change the decision.

So they want Kmart employees to be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

SAMBOLIN: That's nice.

ABER: You know, people called the decision heartless, they called it greedy, shameful and disgusting.

All right, I've got --

SAMBOLIN: Any word from Kmart on that end?

ABER: No word on Kmart on that one so far.


ABER: So yes. Well, good news, though, for home buyers who don't have a lot of cash on hand. Banks are now offering loans with down payments of just 5 percent. Banks including T.D. Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have moved away from much higher down payments. After the housing bubble burst, buyers really needed as much as 20 percent down or they had to turn to the Federal Housing Administration for a low down payment loan.

SAMBOLIN: That's some great news.

ABER: So that's a change.


ABER: A great news actually. And finally here, I love to talk food. We're always talking about brownies and snacks, right?

SAMBOLIN: Did you bring some?

ABER: Not this time. Next time for sure. Well, let's talk burgers. The burger wars are heating up again. Burger King says its Big King will become a permanent part of its menu. The Big King competes head to head with McDonald's Big Mac.

The Big King was introduced briefly in 1997, but now it looks and tastes a lot more like a Big Mac. According to the "Wall Street Journal" the two burgers are even similar in calorie count. The Big King has 510 calories.


ABER: The Big Mac has 550. McDonald's reacted to the new burger by saying, "We're focused on our business and our customers."

And you know what, Zoraida, I'm a little bit sad that Miguel is not here right now because we have this East Coast/West Coast thing going on back there. Because we have those shake ShackBurgers here. And I think on their side, they have, what, In and Out? We got to do a taste test.

SAMBOLIN: That would be a great idea. I'm in for that.

ABER: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you.

All right. He's back.

MARQUEZ: I'm back.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, Miguel, can you come and join us because we're going to have a conversation about burgers.

MARQUEZ: In and Out wins?


SAMBOLIN: In and Out wins?

ABER: We've got the full time.

MARQUEZ: Astro Burger, Fat Burger, we have them all in Los Angeles, California.

ABER: I don't know. We got to go head-to-head. Got to go head-to- head.

MARQUEZ: The burger capital of the world.

SAMBOLIN: I would have thought that you would have a healthier version of the burger. That thing has 550 calories and -- that was a lot. MARQUEZ: I was -- I was at In and Out today and the burger was -- I think it was burger and fries was about -- and a shake, 1500 calories or something?

ABER: And not worth it.

MARQUEZ: Yes. I had two.

ABER: All right.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you for chiming in. Thanks for coming back.

MARQUEZ: You're very welcome.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Coming up, we have the "Bleacher Report." Rapper Jay-Z in hot water. Why Major League Baseball is now investigating the rapper turns sports agent.


SAMBOLIN: So for the first time since being suspended by the Miami Dolphins for allegedly bullying a teammate, Richie Incognito addressed the scandal.

MARQUEZ: We want to hear this.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we do. Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." We are dying to hear what he had to say.

ANDY SCHOLES, THEBLEACHERREPORT.COM: Hey, good morning, guys. Well, Incognito remains -- remains away from the Dolphins while the NFL investigates accusations of harassment and misconduct toward teammate Jonathan Martin. Now he's remained quiet on the allegations against him. But yesterday, WSB in Channel 7 in South Florida caught up with Incognito in a parking lot and got his first comments on the scandal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richie, how are you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you have to say about (INAUDIBLE) around?

INCOGNITO: You know, I'm just trying to weather the storm right now, and this will pass.


SCHOLES: Now many were wondering why incognito has not been cut by the Dolphins, well, this may be part of the reason. According to the "Sun-Sentinel," Incognito was asked by Dolphins coaches to toughen up Martin last spring after Martin missed a voluntary workout. According to a source, incognito took it too far. And the dolphins have not commented to CNN regarding that claim at this time.

And one of the top stories in the lineup section of today, Jay-Z may be in hot quarter with Major League Baseball and for being a little too generous. The players association is investigating whether Jay-Z violated a rule by giving his client Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano a $34,000 gold watch for his birthday. Now Cano posted a pic of the watch on his Instagram. Agents, they're allowed only to give gifts up to $500 to their clients.

The Boston Red Sox took out an ad in the St. Louise dispatch to thank -- the cardinals organization and their fan base for the warm Midwestern welcome they received during the world series. A very classy move by the team. The Red Sox ended the ad by saying they look forward to seeing the Cardinals in the World Series again next October.

All right, guys, this next story is why I have my bodyguards keep my fans at arm's length. According to "USA Today," Ryan Lochte suffered a torn MCL and sprained ACL, when an overzealous teenage girl in Florida ran into on the street and attempted to jump into his arms.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious.


SCHOLES: Both of them fell. Lochte, of course, hurt his knee. The 11-time medalist is going to have to take some time off. The guy, he is expected to make a full recovery in the next Summer Olympics isn't for some time.

SAMBOLIN: That is one excited young girl.


MARQUEZ: I hope she was wearing a go pro because I want to see that video.


SCHOLES: You want her angle?


SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you --

MARQUEZ: All right.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Andy.

MARQUEZ: Coming up an apology from Mitt Romney. Why the former presidential candidate had to tell Chris Christie he's sorry.


SAMBOLIN: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies later today before the Senate Finance Committee. So last week, she told members of the House that she was sorry for the Obamacare Web site debacle. She is expected to face a slightly more welcoming committee today. It's a detailed progress that hasn't made to get up and running again. Normally.

MARQUEZ: A lot of question to come.


MARQUEZ: Governor Chris Christie revealed on CNN Tuesday that Mitt Romney apologized for leaked information that made its way into a tell-all book about the 2012 campaign. Christie slammed the Romney team for a complete violation of trust, much like someone leaving their cell phone on.

SAMBOLIN: I -- am terribly sorry. Please forgive me.

MARQUEZ: The book "Double Down" reveals Romney's team didn't pick him as running mate because his background was littered with political landmines.

SAMBOLIN: I have to tell you my phone is on silent. I have no idea what --

MARQUEZ: Let's call him back right now.

EARLY START continues right now.


MARQUEZ: Love it.

Landslide victories in New Jersey and New York. Plus a Nail biting finish in a major swing state. What last night's election results mean for you.

SAMBOLIN: President Obama's approval rating is nearing an all-time low.