Return to Transcripts main page


Christie Wins New Jersey; McAuliffe Wins Virginia; De Blasio Wins NYC; Voters Decide Various Locals Issues; Sebelius Appears Before Senate Finance Committee; New Mayor for NYC; De Blasio on Stop and Frisk; Mayor Rob Ford Admits to Smoking Crack

Aired November 6, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Late night nail-biters and outright landslides. Are 2013's hottest racers a precursor for 2014? And is one in particular a practice run for 2016?

Also ahead, so he is finally admitting to it, to smoking crack. But the mayor of North America's fourth largest city is not just refusing to resign, he's insisting, he'll run for re-election.

And her story -- the horrors that she endured in that house in Cleveland will simply break your heart; more this hour from Michelle Knight about overcoming a decade of torment and outright torture.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Wednesday, November the 6th and welcome to "LEGAL VIEW". For a bunch of off year races that went pretty much as expected, it sure feels like some political forces have shifted. The three most prominent winners from yesterday's state and local elections are two Democrats and a Republican, a Republican whom a lot of Democrats rather like.

He's Chris Christie of the very, very blue state of New Jersey, who crushed his Democratic challenger to win a second term as Garden State governor.

CNN's Athena Jones has our report.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christie put his audience on notice.


JONES: And those listening in Washington as well.

CHRISTIE: I did not seek a second term to do small things. I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it.

JONES: Christie defeated State Senator Barbara Buono, his reelection in a traditionally blue state fueling more speculation that Christie will make a presidential run in 2016.

CHRISTIE: And I want to promise you tonight, I will not let anyone, anything, any particularly party, any governmental entity, or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission. JONES: Making clear his mission is to ensure that everyone in his state fully recovers from Superstorm Sandy.

Christie drew criticism in the wake of the storm from some Republicans for working alongside President Obama.

Those same critics also question will Christie is conservative enough.

Christie said he has no plans to stop working across the aisle if it helps him meet his goals.

CHRISTIE: We stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first, to put working together first, to fight for what you believe in, yet still stand by your principles and get something done for the people who elected you.

JONES: In the battleground state of Virginia, a very different picture, Democrats scoring a big victory in a bruising governor's race.

Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe beat the Tea Party favorite Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by less than 60,000 votes.

GOVERNOR-ELECT TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I know that has been a hard-fought race. I think every single person in Virginia is glad that the TV ads are now over.

JONES: Obama won the traditionally Republican state in both 2008 and 2012. If Hillary Clinton decided to run, McAuliffe will be a big ally to help her carry the state.

And voters elected new mayors in several cities. Bill de Blasio becomes the first Democratic elected to lead New York City in more than two decades.

MAYOR-ELECT BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: Make no mistake, the people of this city have chosen a progressive path.


BANFIELD: All right, Athena Jones for us, thank you for that.

I did say those forces were shifting. But secession? That one is just going to have to wait, at least for now anyway.

Voters in 11 counties in Colorado are split, shall we say, on a nonbinding measure to breakaway from the rest of that state.

Last we heard five of the counties were leaning yes, six of them leaning no, and that final tally is not in yet. Stay tuned.

But I do have this for you out of Colorado. That state did approve two new taxes on that marijuana that they legalized last year.

A 10 percent sales tax will pay for pot-related law enforcement. A 15 percent excise tax could be used to build schools. By the way, Portland, Maine and three cities in Michigan voted yesterday to legalize recreational pot use.

And voters in Houston may well have4 signed the death warrant for the once mighty Astrodome. They voted down a $200 million bond issue that would have converted the long-abandoned sports venue to a convention center.

So here's the sad part, sports fans, demolition almost certainly awaited. And you just know we're going to cover that.

So what have the 2013 elections actually taught us? How about this? A lot.

Our chief political correspondent and "State of the Union" anchor Candy Crowley does not sleep. You were up late last night. You're up early this morning.

Just start with the biggest headline, and I like to say it's Chris Christie because he just tends to suck up an image on every TV screen. Is it the biggest headline?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly for Republicans it's the biggest headline, because 2016 for Chris Christie starts today.

He has always been a headline guy. Now he --

BANFIELD: Certainly.

CROWLEY: Yeah. Exactly. But you knew it, in fact, before that.

But now he's got the proof in the pudding. He's got -- he can point to the numbers of minorities that he drew to his side, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, which helped crush Cuccinelli, the other Republican running, this one in Virginia, for governor. He lost.

I do think the message is not quite as clear in Virginia and then we have the Alabama runoff where a more mainstream, establishment Republican won against a tea partier.

The last I looked at the numbers in Virginia, Cuccinelli turned out a good portion of his base, and at one point last night he was winning more Republican votes and independent votes than Mitt Romney did.

BANFIELD: So a lot of people are saying that critics of ObamaCare are seizing on the Cuccinelli -McAuliffe race and saying, look, McAuliffe had a big lead and that narrowed, but quick, just as soon as all the disasters really started to get headlines and traction.

Should I read into that, or should I see it for what it was in the last couple of weeks? Or is this what 2014's going to be about, ObamaCare?

CROWLEY: I think it's going to be about two competing storylines. The Democrats are all about what Terry McAuliffe ran on. These people are extreme. They shut down the government. They are on the far, far right. And he sort of pinned the government shutdown on Cuccinelli, which is very potent, particularly in northern Virginia, which has a huge amount of government workers.

So there's that storyline for Democrats. The Republicans are extreme. They shut down everything. All they can say is no. You need a Democratic house.

But if you're a Republican, you're going, these people gave you ObamaCare, so you might want to vote them out.

BANFIELD: All that's fascinating, but in the end what Jake Tapper got out of Chris Christie yesterday was about the argument versus the election. You can win an argument or you can win an election.

With Chris Christie, I can see that. He's great at that. He's great at the electability factor.

With everybody else out there, are they going to see that and say, you know what? It's time to get elected. It's time to stop just fighting the arguments and it's time to get elected.

CROWLEY: True. But it almost always comes down to that. If you look back over Republican nominees, a Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, John McCain, these were not Tea Party types, quite the contrary.

They had a big choice with Mitt Romney. There were Tea Party types in that race. But the Republican Party in the end went with Mitt Romney.

Now, you're going to hear the conservatives in the Tea Party go, See? And it never worked.

BANFIELD: And we held our noses and it didn't work.

CROWLEY: Right, and it didn't work. But they say that most of the time. Because, in the end, I think Republicans and Democrats go for who can win. Let's put our guy in the White House. We'll argue with him later. Let's get him in the White House.

BANFIELD: There is something to be said about populism. I've got to be honest. There's something to be said. Not too many people follow this cable news story every single day.


BANFIELD: They go out to the ballot boxes.

By the way, you are going to be very busy this weekend, so don't go anywhere.

CROWLEY: I won't. Just home.

BANFIELD: That's the tease that I want to make sure everybody sticks around and watches Candy Crowley, every Sunday morning, in fact, "State of the Union," starts at 9:00 Eastern. It's how I start my Sunday, and I force my kids to watch as well.

CROWLEY: Oh, I'm sorry.

BANFIELD: They're 6 and 8.

CROWLEY: I'll call them.

BANFIELD: Candy, thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

BANFIELD: Great work last night and, obviously, early this morning, as well.

Before we move on, I've got a word of advice from Chris Christie to President Obama, vis-a-vis ObamaCare and the flap over keeping your insurance.

The governor, as I mentioned earlier, spoke exclusively to CNN to our colleague, Jake Tapper, on board the campaign bus. It was a great ride, an even better interview.

Have a listen.


CHRISTIE: Here's what my suggestion would be to him, don't be so cute. And when you make a mistake, admit.

And listen, if it was a mistake in 2009, if he was mistaken in 2009, 2010 in his understanding of how the law would operate, then just admit it to people.


BANFIELD: All right, just a quick break from the machinations of elections to the machinations of government that's still going on right now.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius back on Capitol Hill. You might call this round two on ObamaCare. This time she's answering the tough questions before the Senate finance committee.

Our Joe Johns is watching that live signal for us. He's live in Washington for us, as well.

Is this as scathing and blistering as last week? Because that was some nail-biting three and a half hours of hearing last week.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it start the out a little rough, and I could say, yeah, this is a rugged appearance on the hot seat for Kathleen Sebelius.

And when you mention the finance committee, you have to put the word "powerful" there, because it is a very powerful committee on Capitol Hill.

Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican of Utah, really zeroing in on what is a huge issue right now, whether the Web site has the proper security and privacy controls, though in some ways there's a danger of this dialogue beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record, especially when you compare it to the testimony of CMS Chief Marilyn Tavenner.

Thirty-thousand-foot question, whether the administration ought to have considered taking the whole Web site offline and making all the fixes.

Listen to this.


SENATOR MAX BAUCUS, CHAIRMAN, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: Many people think that the site should be shut down until it's totally fixed, and asked that question, why just keep limping along? Why not shut it down until -- and put it together the way it should be put together?

Many have pointed out that your one-off fixes tend to have unintended consequences down the road, that is, in some other part of the system, no end-to-end running of the whole system, after all of the fixes have been made.

And people ask, why hasn't that happened? Pointing out also that every day when there's a story that somebody didn't get on, get a blank page or there's a security problem, that's a bad media campaign. It's negative. It hurts him. It doesn't help you.

Why not have one bad story, you're shut down, and fix it all and then everything is working and beginning however long it takes, several weeks, a month, who knows, and then look back on that date it's up and running and working well?

You indicated that delays health care for a lot of people and that's -- and I appreciate that, but one more time, why not just get it done right?

I've got this little -- I have a series of rules in my office. I won't go through them all, but one of them is, do it now.

And the second rule is, do it right the first time. Why not shut down and do it right?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE SECRETARY: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm relying on the advice of not only the inside team and contractors, but a lot of the outside experts who have come in to take a look at the system.

And they did a number of things along the way. They did a series of diagnostics, looked at entire system, and determined at the outset that is fixable, that it isn't fatally flawed, which was the initial report out of many people. Secondly, we have asked that question a number of times, would it just be helpful to take the whole system down than make fixes along the way?

We've been advised that that actually doesn't help, that it is better to do routine upgrades, some of which are hot patches which can be done while the system is fully running.

Others are better to be done in the maintenance period between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. when the user experience is pretty low, and we actually take it down for periods of time.

But given the fact that the various fixes, particularly the functionality fixes, the codes, have to be written in batches, it's been advised that you don't gain much from just taking the whole system down/


JOHNS: Sebelius also said the site is improving every day. She said a month ago viewing and filtering health plans took minutes. Today, it takes seconds.


BANFIELD: All right, Joe Johns watching for us on Capitol Hill, live, thank you, sir.

You know, there was a time, think way back, when you may not have recognized the name Giuliani, maybe not even so much Bloomberg, but when you become the mayor of New York, you become a household name.

And the man on the screen who won this election last night is your new household celebrity, Bill de Blasio.

What does he mean? What's he about? How'd he win? It's all coming up, next.


BANFIELD: New York's got a brand new mayor-elect this morning, his name is Bill De Blasio. The man who quoted Charles Dickens in his campaign speeches is the new face of The Big Apple. And he won in, I think you can call this, a landslide.

Take a look at those numbers. How often do you see that? Seventy- three to 24 percent against his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota. And equality was a big core of his acceptance speech, and his campaign. Take a listen to what happened last night.


BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK MAYOR-ELECT: When we call on the wealthiest among us to pay just a little more in taxes to fund universal pre-k and afterschool programs --


DE BLASIO: -- we aren't threatening anyone's success. We are asking those who have done very well to ensure that every child has the same opportunity to do just as well as they have.


DE BLASIO: That's how we all rise together.


BANFIELD: I want to bring in national correspondent Deb Feyerick who is live in New York. Deb, there was a real significant core of his campaign that featured his family. They are a bi-racial family, and the kids, the wife, everybody played into this race significantly. Can you tell our national audience how that sort of played out?

DEB FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. What was so fascinating and what's so unique about this first family of New York City is the fact that they are biracial. You've got a white mayor, you've got his African-American wife, his biracial children. The turning point that many will tell you is an ad featuring his 16-year- old son Dante, and in that ad you were just mesmerized by this retro style hairdo that really drew you in, and then realize that his father was actually running for mayor.

And as a matter of fact, that fro, as it were, launched a Twitter hashtag called #fromentum. A lighthearted, but really a lot of people began to identify with him. Also the daughter, the daughter Chiara, you always see her with sort of a garland of flowers on her head, and the wife Chirlane McCray she's a poet, she once identified as lesbian. Bill De Blasio has really talked her up about being his soul mate, his best friend. And undoubtedly she'll be his chief adviser. Here is what she had to say about her husband last night.


CHIRLANE MCCRAY, WIFE OF BILL DE BLASIO: It's wonderful to see New Yorkers beginning to know the Bill De Blasio that Chiara, and Dante, and I love so much. Bill is strong, strong enough to fight for what's right, but smart enough to listen and understand the point of view of others. He will lead this city with courage and empathy and vision. I know that because I know him.



FEYERICK: And so you really see De Blasio identifying himself through his family, who he's very, very proud of. They were a major asset on the campaign trail. But more then that, they gave really gave Bill De Blasio instant credibility on major policy issues, Ashleigh, like the controversial stop and frisk for example.

BANFIELD: Ah Ha! I knew you were going to bring that up. And for those who maybe don't know the significance of this controversy, this court case in New York, the stop and frisk policy, the touted successes, those who say it's just racist, what is Bill De Blasio going to do?

FEYERICK: Well, Bill De Blasio, effectively, is going to get rid of it. He -- one of his ads featured he and his wife talking about how they would prepare their son in the event that he were stopped by police officers for essentially just walking down street treat is with this stop and frisk policy, which many in minority communities see as inherently racist because it does target an overwhelming number of Latinos and African Americans. Here is what he had to say last night.


DE BLASIO: Public safety is a prerequisite for the thriving neighborhoods that create opportunity in this city. And so is respect for civil liberties.


DE BLASIO: The two are not mutually ex-exclusive. In fact, we must have both.


FEYERICK: And so it's interesting, you know, New York City crime is down 75 percent. Some worry that getting rid of stop and frisk possibly could lead to an uptick. But again, all of that to be determined. Everybody getting use to the new mayor.

BANFIELD: Mayor De Blasio. Get used to it. Not just in New York, but all across the nation.

Deb Feyerick, thank you for that. I want to bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. I just had a conversation with you last week about the merits of the court case moving through the appellate process. There's not much use in us talking about that, anymore, is there?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANLAYST: Right. Because stop and frisk, the very controversial police policy under Mayor Bloomberg, is now going to end. And the lawsuit is basically moot at this point. One of the key platforms of Bill De Blasio's run for mayor was he is going to end stop and frisk as it was conducted by the Bloomberg administration.

BANFIELD: That's really powerful. When his son Dante, he said - he holds his son next to him, and says are you going to stop and frisk my kid?

TOOBIN: Right.

BANFIELD: It's very powerful to the people who live here, and across America.

TOOBIN: And the great question about stop and frisk is how much is it just a form of harassment of African Americans. It was at least originally very much concentrated in minority communities. And how much is it responsible for the incredible decline of crime that New York City has had? We have had 12 years of Mayor Giuliani, 12 years of Michael Bloomberg, and we have had historic unprecedented declines in crime. And the great question is, if you get rid of this tactic, will the crime come back up?

BANFIELD: And I've got to ask you, politically speaking, Bill De Blasio says income inequality has got to stop. I'M going to tax the rich over $500,000. Their taxes are going up. I just heard Mayor Bloomberg on Fareed Zakaris's program saying those are our money bags. You tax those people, they're going to leave Manhattan. You need to incentivize them here. They need to pay for the programs in this city.

TOOBIN: That's right. And that's why even in the excerpt we heard, one of the things De Blasio has been saying once it's been clear that he was going to win, and it's been clear for some time, is we're only going to increase taxes a little bit. So there will be no reason for people who are wealthy, who are buying these 10, 20, $50 million condos, they're not going to leave New York City because they have to pay a tiny bit more in taxes. And in return, we can get universal pre-kindergarten for kids in New York. That's his argument, and that's his argument and he's got to make it in Albany too. He doesn't control taxes in New York City. He has to get the New York state legislature. And they're not as liberal as he is. And that's going to be a very big challenge for the new mayor.

BANFIELD: Great to hear from you on all this, and in fact our Jake Tapper, who gets all these great exclusives is going to be talking about this as well. You can hear from New York's current Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's got that mantle for at least a couple more months. He's going to join Jake Tapper on "THE LEAD" today at 4:00 eastern. Make sure you tune in for that.

Almost wish I was talking about another mayor's election. One in Toronto. Toronto is one of the largest cities in north America, the fourth largest. Just look at that banner, everybody. The mayor smoked crack. That's not an opinion anymore. He's admitted it. So he's not stepping down. No way. He's not just not step be down, he says, I hope y'all re-elect me. More on that coming up right after the break.


BANFIELD: It's one of those stories I'm having a tough time actually telling. Because after denying using the drug for weeks, Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, is now admitting that, yes, in fact, he did smoke crack cocaine. And yes, that is the country I'm from. So, there's that.

He's insisting that he is not an addict, and he is vowing to run for re-election next year. He's not stepping down. His confession is not drowning out the calls for him to do just that, resign. Here is what Toronto city council member Jaye Robinson had to stay just a short while ago on CNN.


JAYE ROBINSON, TORONTO CITY COUNCILLOR: I was on executive committee when he asked him to step aside and deal with his personal issues. I was removed from the committee, and we're very worried that this is harming the city's reputation. This is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city, a terrific city to live, work, and play in. And we feel it's really affecting our image internationally.


BANFIELD: More now on this story from CNN's Paula Newton.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: These allegations are ridiculous.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After month's of bold- faced denials --

FORD: I did not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.

NEWTON: Toronto mayor Rob Ford's confession was as riveting as it was blunt.

FORD: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But no -- do I -- am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors probably approximately about a year ago.

NEWTON: And there it was the. The sordid truth that this mayor could no longer outrun. Months of secret police surveillance of Ford was made public last week, in connection with the arrest of the mayor's friend and part-time driver.