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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Interview With Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; Congressman Busted For Cocaine Possession; Obamacare Enrollment Successes?; Virginia State Senator Stabbed in Home; Lincoln Snub?
Aired November 19, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OUTFRONT" next, a conservative U.S. Congressman busted for cocaine.
Plus, George Zimmerman free again, despite new allegations.
And a Virginia state senator stabbed repeatedly in his own home. His son found dead at the scene.
Let's go "OUTFRONT."
And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. "OUTFRONT" tonight, we begin with the breaking news: a congressman busted for cocaine.
Florida Congressman Trey Radel arrested for, quote, "unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally possessing cocaine." The freshman will appear in court tomorrow. He faces misdemeanor charges and up to 180 days in prison.
Dana Bash is OUTFRONT with the latest. And Dana, what more can you tell us about this?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the congressman himself release a statement apologizing for letting his constituents and his family down and he also announce that had he is an alcoholic. I want to read part of his statement.
He said I struggle with the disease of alcoholism and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.
He said it is a blessing in disguise because this is forcing him to get treatment. I should note that he hasn't voted at all this week. Not since Friday. One of his colleagues, a fellow freshman told our producer earlier this week that he's been trying to call Radel to offer him support but cannot reach him.
BURNETT: Wow. I know that it is not a name probably familiar to a lot of people watching, Dana. Obviously you know him, but I understand as he is a colorful character.
BASH: He certainly is. Look, he is, as you said, he is a House freshman. He is not somebody who people know, but he is sort of one of those in the newer mold of members of Congress because he is 37. He is somebody who is trying to be different than the elder statesman and he has been pushing the envelope for Republicans as well. In fact, he did an interview. Forgive me, not an interview.
He wrote an online piece where he said, he is a hip hop conservative and the way he describe it is that he said, there you see it. Congressman Trey Radel, why I'm a hip hop conservative and he said the public enemy has some conservative messages. He said fight the power is something that he sees as a quite conservative message that will read that to get a sense of it.
The other thing is that he may not be well known, but he really gravitated toward those of us who covered him, especially those of us who work in TV news because he used to be a TV reporter before he ran for Congress.
BURNETT: All right, Dana, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Our second story OUTFRONT is the good news about Obamacare. You say, wait, did I hear you right? You said good news? I did say good news because I know that you've heard the bad news. We all know about the horrific very bad, very terrible web site that is not functioning. We know about the poor sign-up numbers, we know about the cancellation notices, but there is another side.
According to the "Los Angeles Times," quote, a number states that use their own systems, meaning the online systems are on track to hit enrolment targets because of the sharp increase in November according to state officials. So just moments ago, I spoke to the U.S. senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul. A staunch Obamacare opponent and I asked about the report because it is near and dear to his heart.
BURNETT: One of the states that they say is outpacing enrolment estimates is actually Kentucky, obviously your state. And they say the Kentucky demographics that have come out have shown 41 percent of the people who have sign up on the state-run web site were under the age of 35. That's above the magic number, 40 percent means Obamacare can work in terms of the young. And obviously Kentucky seems to be exceeding that. That's pretty impressive. Are you going to say Kentucky is a success story for Obamacare?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: What I would say is that what is extraordinary about Kentucky situation is that 40 times more people have been canceled than have signed up, 280,000 people have had their insurance canceled under Obama care and 7,000 have signed up. So the number being canceled dwarfs the number actually signing up. So no, if that's a success, I hesitate to see a failure.
BURNETT: And look, I understand your point. Of course, someone might say, once the web site is working, you'll get some of those people to sign up or the plans that will be offered are better. And I know those are fair conversations and discussions we can have. At least I have to get you on the record. If young people are signing up in Kentucky, and you're getting that there, that opens the door to Obamacare succeeding, right? You have to acknowledge that. PAUL: Maybe. The thing is if you have 280,000 people canceled, a lot of them were young people. What is going to happen is the expense was less for people that are being canceled. Their policies are being canceled because they're less expensive than Obamacare. So they're going to be asked to sign up for Obamacare and I don't think they will because their premiums are going to rise. The most important statistic is, 40 times more people are being canceled in Kentucky than are actually signing up.
BURNETT: Those people though, right? Over time will have some sort of health care, some of them can pay the penalty. You're totally right.
PAUL: Well, maybe, maybe. The thing is they'll to have choose something. They're being canceled because they have something less expensive and President Obama wants them to buy one of his four plans which are more expensive.
BURNETT: But will have better care.
PAUL: Maybe. I mean, if you're a 24-year-old guy, you really don't care if you have dental care for your kids if you don't have any kids or pregnancy coverage for a wife if you're not married or infertility coverage if you're not married. So it gets better, but it is more expensive and it may not be what you want. It doesn't apply to you. It applies to somebody else.
BURNETT: As a doctor, are not you concerned about the fact that a lot of people say, I'm going on buy what I want and I want to buy bare bones. But then something happens to them that they don't expect and they expect the system paid for by other people who have insurance, by taxpayers, to come in and bail them out, right, via the emergency room or some other sort of care.
And as a doctor, doesn't that frustrate you? Isn't the whole point to make everybody pay in so you don't have people who think, I don't want this but then free load off the system when they need it?
PAUL: Well, I'm for more freedom of choice and less coercion. Obamacare coerces you to buy certain products. I'm for letting people buy any product they want. And I will tell when you people could buy anything they wanted, that the problem, there are 15 percent of our public that was uninsured. A third of them were young, healthy people who made between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. They were not buying it because it was expensive.
So they had money and now it is more expensive. So really, a third of our problem of the uninsured was due to the expense and we're now making it more expensive. So I think we've actually made the problem worse. So I really don't see a big upside to this. With all the cancellations, I see young people losing their insurance and being forced to buy something they don't want that is more expensive. That is coercion. That's not freedom.
BURNETT: Is there a way for someone like to you say, especially given your expertise, that you can try to make this better? You were an early supporter of the defund Obamacare effort obviously. You championed the government shutdown in order to do so. I want to play for what you the president said about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One of the problems we've had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure. That makes, I think, the kind of process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine tuning the law more challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He has a point there. The point you're raising about the young people is straight to it. Couldn't you say one way to make them sign up would be the raise the penalty so if the penalties rise, it makes more send for them to sign up for the health care. Then you're helping making this thing work instead of advocating for its failure.
PAUL: Yes, but listen to your words, Erin, make people, mandate, coerce, I'm for more freedom of choice where individuals can buy what they want, what they can afford to buy. I'm not for mandates. I'm not for telling people what they can buy and really it's antithetical to everything we stand for as a country. And that's why this has never been about health care. It is about freedom of choice.
The president wants to you pick only from his four choices. If you choose something else, he will call it a name like substandard, but it is what you chose to buy because it is what could you afford and it is what you wanted. He wants to you buy something that you may not need or want.
BURNETT: Look, I see your point. I come back to this point, which is people say they want freedom of choice. I don't want to pay for it. When something happens to them, they expect to get the care paid for by somebody. That's part of the reason our coast are so high to begin with.
PAUL: Yes, I don't think anybody should expect to get something for free and people should pay. When I was a physician and people could not pay, some of them paid on instalments, some of them paid a little bit over time. Some of them never paid me and that does happen. But I think physicians and hospitals have dealt with this since the beginning of time and it isn't perfect.
I'm not saying the old system was perfect either. What I would have done was expand competition and make prices more elastic. Let prices go up and down and have cheaper policies with higher deductibles because then competition would bring prices down.
BURNETT: And of course deductibles are a big issue. A lot of these deductibles are very high on these plans being offered. But when you talk about being for freedom and not liking words like force and mandate, it brings me to a question, what is a conservative? I think it's an important question because you're vying against a lot of people who maybe running in 2016 including yourself. Here are two of your possible opponents this week talking about how they're really conservatives.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Some Republicans say because I got 61 percent of the vote in New Jersey, he must not be conservative because how can a conservative win those? This is completely crazy to me.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I'm a conservative and I'm a practicing one.
BURNETT: I'm a practicing one. That sounds like a religion. Of course, you know Jeb Bush is in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said people should be able to marry whoever they want to marry. Do those two gentlemen fit your definition of a conservative?
PAUL: You know, I don't think any one person gets on decide what is or is not conservative. On the case of the New Jersey governor, I think embracing Obamacare, expanding Medicaid in his state is very expensive and not fiscally conservative. Many Republican governors did resist expanding and accepting Obamacare in their states. I would say that fact, I would say, would lead you toward making the conclusion that it is not a very conservative proposal.
BURNETT: All right and our thanks to Senator Rand Paul. Please we look forward to your feedback on that interview.
Still to come, a Virginia lawmaker stab over and over again fighting for his life tonight. A man who knew the victim and his alleged attacker is OUTFRONT tonight.
Plus a Department of Homeland Security employee was found to be running a black supremacist web site. This was only four months ago. Why is Uncle Sam and you the taxpayer still paying him his salary? This is no joke.
And another strange turn in the Rob Ford saga, a big move surrounding the Toronto mayor still OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT tonight, a black supremacist employee of the Department of Homeland Security who was placed on leave three months ago for calling for mass murder of white people, yes. That's true. It turns out he still has a job. He still has a job at the DHS. The employee admits that he ran the site you're looking at here, "War On the Horizon," calling for a racial war. So why on earth is he still collecting a paycheck paid for by our tax dollars? Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ayo Kimathi or as he calls himself, the irritated genius, still at it. Still on the Internet condemning whites, gays, Jews, Asians, anyone who doesn't measure up to his Black Nationalist views.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYO KIMATHI: That's how we going to put a foot in this cracker's ass --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: And he is still an employee of the Department of Homeland Security three months after the agency publicly acknowledged his Web site, calling for widespread racial violence. He declined our request for an interview. But on YouTube, even he seemed surprised he was not let go as soon as his employers found out.
KIMATHI: I always remind myself, they know who you are, they know what you're doing. Don't forget that.
FOREMAN: He is not the only one wondering how he has kept his $115,000 a year job.
HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHER POVERTY LAW CENTER: This is a guy who runs a Web site that call for mass murder of whites and for war on the horizon.
FOREMAN: The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Kimathi of hate speech, and officials there are baffled that he remains on the federal payroll. He has been on administrative leave since August but that just means he has collected nearly $38,000 for doing nothing.
BEIRICH: The fact of the matter is that his views are the kind that the Department of Homeland Security should be tracking. They should not be employing him or paying him.
FOREMAN: The department says little about the matter, confirming only that he remainS an employee of immigration and customs enforcement or ICE and noting "ICE does not condone any type of hateful rhetoric or advocacy of violence...accusations of misconduct are investigated thoroughly, and if substantiated, appropriate action is taken."
Before he was put on leave, Kimathi was less diplomatic, saying he works for the devil but oddly adding --
KIMATHI: It's like a fun job. I am not just pushing paper. I'm going in there, having a sit down and saying, okay, how do I help these people that need to be help?
FOREMAN: He called it a fun job. Some government watchdog groups say look, federal employee is just complicated and it takes time. Kimathi has suggested maybe he is still employed because maybe the feds want to keep an eye on him.
But Erin, considering how routinely he savages people and promotes violence, taking on everyone from Trayvon Martin's parents to President Obama, it is really hard to imagine how Homeland Security could not be keeping an eye on him.
BURNETT: On all points, it is impossible to disagree with you and pretty outrageous to imagine. Oh, it is worth keeping you almost $116,000 so we can keep an eye on you for that. All right. Thanks very much to Tom Foreman for the incredible report there.
Still to come, despite new allegations of gun violence, George Zimmerman was released. A special report.
Plus, did President Obama snub Abraham Lincoln? You know, he man that he invoked so often when he was running for office. Why was the president a no-show at Gettysburg today?
And the FAA making a change. Some pilots may be forced to undergo extra screening? We'll be back.
BURNETT: Our fourth story OUTFRONT, George Zimmerman free on bond. The former neighborhood watchman arraigned on domestic violence charges today, four months after being acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin. He was charged with aggravated assault and criminal mischief. But the judge agreed to release him on a $9,000 bond with a number of restrictions.
David Mattingly is in Sanford, Florida, obviously covered the Trayvon Martin case from start to finish. He was there in that room with George Zimmerman, and he is OUTFRONT with the story.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New accusations against George Zimmerman suggest this is not the first time his girlfriend feared for her safety. A state prosecutor told the court, Samantha Scheibe says Zimmerman choked her during an argument a week-and-a-half ago. That Zimmerman talked about suicide. Not reported to police, it caught his public defenders off guard.
JEFF DOWDY, PUBLIC DEFENDER: And that was the first I heard about it, too. So I was surprised myself.
MATTINGLY: Samantha Scheibe's mother tells CNN, "My daughter is doing good and she's in a safe place" after her alarming 911 call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SAMANTHA SCHEIBE, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND: He just broke my glass table. Hye just broke my sunglasses. And you put your gun in my freaking face and told me to get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out. So, this is not your house.
MATTINGLY: Investigators say Zimmerman had been living with Scheibe since August. His mother said the two had known each other 11 years. A judge now says he has to stay away from her.
JUDGE: No contact means not by person, not by phone, not by mail, not by fax, blog, tweet, through Facebook, no contact at all.
MATTINGLY: Zimmerman is not even allowed to go back to his girlfriend's house to collect his belongings. Someone will have to do that for him. His attorney said deputies took away multiple guns belonging to Zimmerman. He is not allowed to have a gun or leave the state while out on bond. He will wear a tracking device again just like did he before he was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.
Declared indigent, Zimmerman claims to be $2.5 million in debt, homeless, unemployed with only $144 to his name.
DOWDY: He is upset. I mean he is calm but he's upset. He wants to go home.
MATTINGLY: Never arrested on domestic charges, Zimmerman traded restraining orders with a former girlfriend in 2005. In September, he was detained after his soon to be ex-wife accused him of smashing her iPad after a fight. No charges were filed. This time, Zimmerman blames everything on his girlfriend. And made sure his story was recorded in his own call to 911.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMMERMAN (on the phone): She just started smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me. Throwing it outside. Throwing it out of her room. Throwing it all over the house. He broke a glass table because she threw something on it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Shortly before Zimmerman was released from jail today, another twist. He was served, Erin, with divorce papers.
BURNETT: Served with divorce papers. What about the girlfriend? I mean, I'm just looking at her there. I know that Zimmerman said he has known her a long time, Samantha Scheibe, but what more do we know about her and the rumor that I've heard that she was pregnant with his child?
MATTINGLY: Well, not just a rumor. We actually heard George Zimmerman say it in his 911 call that she was pregnant. And then we heard from deputies that she told them that she wasn't. We tried to get to the bottom of it today. Her mother didn't respond to those questions when we contacted her. George Zimmerman himself didn't respond to the questions when he walked out of jail.
BURNETT: Wow. I heard there at the end, you talk about he has $144 to his name. You've seen him in both cases. Obviously, we all remember how heavy he got during the Trayvon Martin case. How did he look today?
MATTINGLY: Well, he's lost weight noticeably. He, of course, has of course got a lot more facial hair now. But his demeanor was relatively the same that we observed while he was in the courtroom. He stood there. He listened. He answered only when he needed to. The only difference, it might have had something to do with the thermostat in the jail, he was sweating.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, David Mattingly.
Still to come, a Virginia lawmaker stabbed in his own home in a bizarre and horrific tale. He is fighting for his life. His son is dead. The mental health crisis.
Plus, more strange behavior swirling around Rob Ford and the huge announcement surrounding his television show that we told you about last night.
And at least 16 dead from massive flooding. The most rain seen in centuries. We'll show you the dramatic video next, and exactly where this happened.
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. At least 16 people are dead tonight after a cyclone ravaged the Italian island of Sardinia, playground for billionaires, including Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin. The amount of rain the island usually gets in six months came down in 12 hours.
The bridge that you're looking at right there reportedly collapsed as a policeman was driving through. People have not seen rain like this on the Italian island for centuries. Just think about this for one second, if you would. Seventeen inches of rain in 90 minutes. Stunning! That's what New York, for example, gets in five months.
The FAA has announced it's giving extra attention to overweight pilots and air traffic controllers before it's willing to certify them. According to the FAA's top medical doctor, obstructed sleep apnea is almost universal in obese people. The FAA, of course, doesn't want its most crucial workers getting sleepy on the job. Pilots and controllers with a body mass index over 40, and a neck circumference of 17 inches or more will be evaluated by a special sleep therapist.
And U.S. authorities have just busted what they believe what they believe is, wait for this, a North Korean meth ring. Five men have been arrested in Thailand in connection to the ring. They're being extradited to the United States. Investigators say they were tracking methamphetamine and other drugs from North Korea.
And the matter apparently part of a broader investigation involving former soldiers, including Joseph Hunter, a former U.S. Army sniper nicknamed Rambo, who allegedly had a murder for hire scheme in the works.
And gay rights supporters outraged after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy was given an award for being a champion of justice and equality. This after Cathy said last year he was supportive of the biblical definition of the family unit. The comments prompted protests and boycotts. You probably remember that. In a statement, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta says the award recognized Chick-fil-A's significant financial contributions but still supports equal rights for all.
And, "Ford Nation" the TV show of the crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother that we showed you last night was canceled tonight, the day after it debuted. The network behind the program Sun News Network didn't cite Ford's recent indiscretions as the reason but said the show required too much time and production to keep on the air.
Don't worry. If the last couple weeks is any indication, the real life Rob Ford was much better than the stayed Rob Ford you saw on that screen, anyway.
And now, our fifth story OUTFRONT, a horrible story out of Virginia. A state senator brutally stabbed in his home. His son now dead from an apparent suicide.
Creigh Deeds was found with multiple stab wounds to his head and torso. Investigators believe his son Austin, who is called Gus, stabbed him and then turned a gun on himself.
OUTFRONT, we begin with the story and Chris Lawrence.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police found a chilling scene after an early morning 911 call.
CORINNE GELLER, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON: Deeds was stabbed multiple times about the head and upper torso. Deeds was able to leave the scene on foot. As he was coming down the hill of his residents towards Route 42, he encountered a cousin who lives nearby.
LAWRENCE: Creigh Deeds was airlifted to a Charlottesville hospital where they say he was able to speak with them. Inside the rural Virginia home, deputies found the senator's 24-year-old son Gus suffering from a gunshot wound. He died at the scene. Police say there was an altercation.
GELLER: Based on the evidence we have, we are looking into there as an attempted murder and suicide. Now, this is not an absolute determination because it is still very much of an ongoing investigation.
LAWRENCE: His son Gus was often seen at his side on the campaign trail. Gus was a music major at the College of William and Mary. But officials say in the last month, he left the school. "The Richmond Times Dispatch" is reporting that Gus Deeds was sent for a mental health evaluation under an emergency custody order.
But the paper cites a source saying he was released Monday because no bed was available.
Creigh Deeds is well-known in Virginia politics. In his unsuccessful bid to be governor in 2009, he garnered a presidential endorsement.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I look at the way he conducts himself and his campaign, speaking truth to power but always doing it in a way that reminds us that we have to bring people together instead of driving them apart.
LAWRENCE: One bright spot in all of this. Creigh Deeds has been upgraded to fair condition from critical. As for his son, the facility where Gus Deeds was allegedly released from yesterday said they will not confirm that he was brought there under an emergency custody order. But they do say even if someone is brought there, they cannot be held there any longer than six hours.
CNN reach out to Virginia officials to get a better explanation and they tell us that the availability of beds for these emergency consultations is, quote, "tight". But in normal circumstances, because they are calling hospitals all across the area, normally it is possible and likely that someone does get a bed -- Erin.
BURNETT: Chris Lawrence, thank you very much. It's sobering.
And OUTFRONT is Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen. He has known Creigh Deeds for more than 15 years.
Senator Petersen, thank you for taking the time tonight.
Let me just ask you this. You've known Creigh for more than 15 years. How concerned was he about Gus?
CHAP PETERSEN (D), VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR: Well, Erin, first of all thank you for having me on this evening. And I know that as a father, he had a lot of concerns about his son. Just issues involving dropping out of school and things of that nature. I know that it was a topic of great concern to him.
BURNETT: And I know that obviously Gus Deeds had recently dropped out of William and Mary, the college there. Did Creigh ever talk to you about that?
PETERSEN: Yes, I think again, we were lucky that we were friends and we had a friendship outside the state Senate. Again, I just know he had been concerned about his son's situation. And, yes, that was something on his mind.
BURNETT: And did he feel he had solutions? I mean, you know, when we hear these stories -- I have to be honest with you, Senator -- sometimes, it's just so shocking. According to reports, Gus was released after a mental health evaluation on Monday because there were no psychiatric beds that could be found.
I mean, it sounds like Creigh had tried to help his son and sort of run up against wall after wall after wall. Did you get that impression that he felt like I'm trying to get help for a child with mental health problems but I'm not able to do it. PETERSEN: Yes. I would tell you, Erin, I don't know the details about the psychiatric bed. I do know that Creigh was living in Mill Springs, which is a rural part of Virginia, on the very far western part of the state. And I know he was living with his son. The two of them were living together and that was a conscious choice, as I understood, to try to help his son get back on his feet, to get some stability in his life.
And I just know that Creigh had made a commitment to his son in that way. And again, I hadn't talk to him specifically about it in the last few months. But I just know it weighed on him as a father. And that's why as shocking as these events are today, it does sort of -- the pieces come into place now that we know more about the history.
BURNETT: And was Creigh close to Gus? I know you're talking about as a father, he wanted to live with him, to help him because there weren't other options. But were they close as father/son?
PETERSEN: Yes. One of the memories I have of Creigh and Gus was them traveling the state together. I think back to Creigh's run for attorney general in 2005 and that's with we became friends. We had been friends but we knew each other even better. I was campaigning that same year.
And Gus was his driver. They traveled together. Creigh tried to make time for him to travel together and he was a teenage boy, or maybe Gus, 15, 16 years old at that time. I just remember he had a big mop of curly hair and there was a very affectionate relationship. And that's how I remember them.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to you, State Senator Petersen.
Well, still to come, did President Obama snub Abraham Lincoln? Why did the president skip the Gettysburg ceremony today on this crucial anniversary? Even though he says late at night, he goes to a special room in the White House when his wife and daughters have gone to sleep to think about the Gettysburg address.
And the U.S. government launches an investigation into an American car company. Why are its cars catching on fire?
BURNETT: And we are back to tonight's "Outer Circle."
First to Beirut where suicide bombers outside the Iranian embassy killed 23, injuring nearly 150 people. I asked Nick Paton Walsh why the embassy was the target.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I'm standing just down the road from where those two blasts detonated about 9:00 this morning outside the Iranian embassy. We're now hearing from the Lebanese army. There were two suicide bombers, one on a scooter, the other in a jeep detonating those devices. Some suggesting guards opened fire at them as they approached the gate.
Well, I'm standing in a Hezbollah stronghold here of the Lebanese political group, Hezbollah. And the group that claimed responsibility, the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, quite clear in that they were targeting the Iranian embassy and trying to get Hezbollah fighting alongside the Syrian regime to stop that assistance in the Syrian conflict.
But many concerns, the tactic today, a suicide bombing people have not seen at all for decades here in Lebanon. And this is another sign the violence in Syria is spilling over into Lebanon -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And I want to go to Tokyo now where thousands lined the streets today. No joke. I mean, you say, what would they do that for?
Because Caroline Kennedy, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, went through in a horse drawn carriage.
Kennedy's first trip to the Imperial Palace was part of an elaborate procession marking the official start of her duties.
Kyung Lah is there and I asked her about the pomp and circumstance for Caroline.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, what you are seeing here, all these people who are lining this street here in Tokyo, this is highly unusual. They are here just to catch a glimpse of Caroline Kennedy become the U.S. ambassador in the eyes of Japan.
Now, Caroline Kennedy arrived here at the Imperial Palace, pull in a horse drawn carriage, traveling through streets of Tokyo. She arrived at the Imperial Palace for a formal ceremony where she presented her credentials to the emperor of Japan. Ambassador Kennedy made a short statement after the formalities.
CAROLINE KENNEDY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN: Eager to begin work as ambassador. So it was a wonderful ceremony. And I'm honored to represent my country.
LAH: The Japanese, at least the ones who have shown up here, appear to be relatively unconcerned about Kennedy's lack of diplomatic experience, despite pressing issues in this region like North Korea, China, as well as the global economy. They say what has brought them out here and what they are most impressed with, with their new ambassador is her star power -- Erin.
BURNETT: Star power counts for something. Thanks to Kyung.
Now, let's check in with Wolf who is filling in for Anderson on "AC360", a star himself.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Thanks very much, Erin.
We're keeping them honest ahead on "360". A CNN investigation that is literally life and death. America's military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at some U.S. veterans hospitals. What's worse, the V.A. knows all about its problems and has done almost nothing. Drew Griffin is keeping them honest.
Also, Anderson's candid interview with Magic Johnson. The basketball legend opening up about learning he was HIV positive and more recently, was loving support for his gay son. It's all at the top of the hour, and a lot more -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Wolf. We're looking forward to that and we'll see in just a few moments.
And now our sixth story OUTFRONT: Did President Obama snub Abraham Lincoln?
Thousands gathering today in Gettysburg to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's iconic 272-word address. There was one very notable no show, the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
The White House blamed a scheduling issue. But when reporters pressed asking what's more important than the Gettysburg anniversary in American history, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer responded on Twitter saying, quote, "Oh, I don't know. There's this whole Web site thing that someone suggested might destroy the Dem Party."
OUTFRONT tonight, former DNC chairman and former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, and RNC communications director, Sean Spicer.
OK, I'm excited about this conversation.
Governor Dean, let me start with you.
Something happened a few moments ago that I don't know if you know about. I want to ask but this tweet. The president is not writing the code for the Obamacare site. Pennsylvania is close. Why that snarky response from the White House?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I have no idea why the response to the White House, but you guys don't have enough to do if this is the lead story or important story on CNN. But for heaven's sakes, the president idolizes Abraham Lincoln. He put his cabinet together thinking about Abraham Lincoln.
To have a discussion about why he did not go on this particular day, I think we should let the president be in charge of his schedule rather than television reporters than don't have enough to do.
BURNETT: All right. Let me ask this to you then, because he obviously is feeling the pressure from this conversation because if he weren't, he wouldn't have done what he just did, which is put out a handwritten letter saying after Michelle and the kids to go sleep, he goes down to a room where Abe Lincoln used to hang out and he thinks about and, you know, pontificates about Abraham Lincoln and other things like.
Why would he -- he writes, and I'll quote to you, Governor Dean. "I linger on these few words that have helped define our American experiment. A new nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
We obviously wanted to talk about it. Why not go there today? I mean, forget TV reporter, politically would not it have been smart? Switch the conversation, put yourself in the shadow of Abe Lincoln. Get rid of this whole Obamacare thing.
DEAN: You know, the president has a job and it is to be president of the United States. Who are we to question what his choices are in his schedule? He does have a few things distracting him. I will stay that the Web site is probably something he is worried about.
I agree he doesn't write the code. But the day of a president is pretty full and there may have been a great many things. What about the NSA which appears to be out of control? Lots and lots of problems.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, it would be great if he talked some of them publicly a little more than he has, Sean.
SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think the issue is that, look, he's had time for 10 fundraisers. He was golfing last weekend and I'm not begrudging on that.
But the notion that all these things take paramount to going in and celebrating this day seem a little silly. If the White House is going to make light of it, then they cannot make light of it. Put the statement out and have time for fundraisers and golf and everything else and then claim we're busy with everything else.
It just -- it doesn't add up and I think that they've got to get their stories straight. They've gone from having the president not in the loop on all these various issues, "The A.P." reporting, monitor -- the Department of Justice monitoring some of these reporters, the NSA and then the Web site. He doesn't either know what's going on or the staff isn't informing him and then Pfeiffer sort of making light of the fact that there are so many things to be doing.
And as the governor pointed out, and I would agree, this president has embraced Lincoln from announcing, choosing where he was going to announce his presidency.
BURNETT: Yes, in Springfield, yes.
SPICER: To the route he took on Washington to the Bible. So, to suddenly act like today is another day on the calendar is a little ridiculous as well. DEAN: Well, you know, we don't know. For all we know he was discussing a serious national security issue. Maybe he was putting the finishing touches on either blowing up or signing the Iran detail. I mean, presidents do a lot of really important thing and I think Abraham Lincoln is an iconic figure in American history and it is possible that there's something else was distracting the president, and I think we ought to give him some leeway on that.
BURNETT: All right. One thing, Governor Dean, that we know the president did was attend the "Wall Street Journal" CEO Summit will that's what he did. And he talked about the Obamacare Web site problem, and here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think that we probably underestimated the complexities of building out a website that need to work the way it should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: "We probably underestimated the complexities." He went to say, "We probably -- we underestimated what we probably needed to do on the front end was to blow up how we procure for IT."
Now, Governor Dean, all I have to say is this. He has come out and apologized again and again, right? You've got to give the guy credit for that. Why use the word "probably"? Why not just say, I know we underestimated, I know we need to redo how we do IT contracts, why say probably?
DEAN: Well, I don't think there's a lot of difference. Look, IT rollouts are tough. And I this one was screwed up. I've seen a lot of them that are screwed up. Electronic medical records, we did that tax department up here.
My role on IT is, it takes twice as long as they said they were going to do it, and it costs twice as much, and often, you have to do it twice. So, this is not the first rollout that's been screwed.
DEAN: Well, the problem is this is certainly an IT rollout that's very, very public. That's the problem.
SPICER: But with all due respect, Governor, the problem isn't the Web site. And I know the default keeps going back to the rollout, and IT and procurement. The fact of the matter is, frankly Republicans were right, we warned everyone about this. When you go to take over 1/6 of the American economy and say we're taking over the health care system, you're going to have a major problem. It is not just rolling out a Web site that you try to build on Go Daddy and hope it all goes right.
Wolf was just teased for the package he's doing in Anderson where he talks about all the problems and the backlogs in the V.A. system. This is not about a Web site. It's about taking over government having government take over health care and not acknowledging that there's going to be massive problems. They acknowledged today that 30 percent to 40 percent of the site is still not done, they can't get the silly shopping cart to work that any Amazon Web site would have, because this is not an easy deal. They are trying to take over too much and government is doing what government should not be doing.
BURNETT: In part the president's acknowledged. But Governor Dean, that's why I get to the issue of the word "probably", because "probably" sounds like someone who doesn't really fully want to admit that they messed up. You know, I messed up is different that I'd probably messed up.
DEAN: I disagree. First of all, this is not a government takeover of health care. This is Romneycare. And, frankly, we wouldn't be having a federal exchange with 30 states and if Republicans had one ounce of willingness to cooperate with all of this. This has nothing to do with the fundamental problems of Obamacare. This has to do with the big Web site problem.
Yes, the Obama administration makes the mistakes, they most certainly did. The contractor makes the mistakes, they most certainly did. It would have been nice after this bill passed if the Republicans have been responsible with their own people and done their best to make this thing work, because it can work and it worked in Massachusetts, and 98.5 percent of Massachusetts citizens have health insurance. This is the same system.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate it.
DEAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: We look forward to your feedback.
And now, bad news for Tesla Motors. It's now the target of a federal investigation because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today it's launching an investigation into why two of the company's model S vehicles have caught fire this year. According to reports, the fires begun when the battery casing cracked up. It's just the latest PR nightmare for Tesla, which once a company that could do no wrong.
Last week, actor George Clooney got involved, telling "Esquire" magazine, "I was one of the first cats with a Tesla but I'm telling you I've been on the side of the road for awhile in that thing, and I said to them, look, guys, why am I always stuck on the side of the f- ing road."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was upset with that and responded to Clooney on Twitter with, "In other news, George Clooney reports that iPhone 1 had a bug back in 2007."
It's a little different than the car blowing up. But, anyway, Tesla is not only relying on snarky tweets. The company is changing its warranty to cover damage done to fire, even if due to driver error. And according again to Elon Musk, "Either our belief in the safety of our cars is correct and this our car is correct and this is a minor cost or we are wrong, in which case the right thing is, is for Tesla to bear the cost, not the buyer."
That brings to tonight's number: 35 percent, which is how much Tesla's shares have sunk since the high at the end of September. If Elon Musk isn't worried about what's happening, obviously, investors are. For the year though, this stock is still through the moon.
We're going to take a brief break. Still to come, "Hunger Games" is back and the money enormous.
BURNETT: The first film in the "Hunger Games" trilogy brought in $690 million. And apparently, some of you have bought your tickets a month ago for the next one. In just a couple of days, the sequel "Catching Fire" is going to do even better than that by all measures, supposedly.
Our Nischelle Turner spoke to Jennifer Lawrence about the money and power behind the deal.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Number one was big. This one is probably going to be even bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who does she think she is? She has to be eliminated.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: It's a wonderful story. The trilogy is full of that, because there's so many different levels why, and the cruelty of the capital to kind of intensifies in the second one.
Well, I won't go to Whole Foods the day it's coming out.
LAWRENCE: No, I literally the day the movie was released, I had no idea I was like famous. I don't actually think I knew the movie came out that day, the worst experience of my life. So, I will not go to Whole Foods --
TURNER: What happened? That's hilarious.
LAWRENCE: Whole Foods had to call the police and I had to go down the cargo elevator and I was crying. It was really sad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Geez. Whole Foods maybe so happy.
LAWRENCE: Yes, I saw my ex-boyfriend there and he is like house your life? I was like really bad.
TURNER (voice-over): Life's pretty good now, though. The first film made almost $700 million worldwide and Lawrence is now an Oscar winner. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner for best actress was "Silver Lining's" Jennifer Lawrence.
TURNER: One of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
LAWRENCE: I have such -- no, it's really such a wonderful life that it's great. I think I would have died in an office or just me personally because I remember being in school, I still remember that, having -- just being able to travel and the freedom and being able to be creative every day, it's such a blessing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think these games are going to be different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 75th Hunger Games.
BURNETT: So are you going? Let us know.
"AC360" starts now.