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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Are Young People Enrolling In Obamacare?; Obamacare And The Coming Elections; Running To Protect The President; Holding On To What We Got

Aired November 22, 2013 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In Politics News, more tweaks, patches and straight up changes to the beleaguered rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats not so long ago were quick to describe as settled law before you had to sign up by December 15th in order to have a health insurance policy beginning on January 1st.

The Obama administration today pushed that sign-up deadline back to December 23rd. That's also pushing back the start of the next open enrollment period from October 15th, 2014 to November 15th, 2014, which is conveniently after the midterm elections. The numbers for the first month of Obama care enrollments were dismal, especially through the federal healthcare.gov web site.

And the president's critics were quick to call it President Obama's waterloo although it might be more accurate to call it his water world, a pricey fiasco that has so far left millions unsatisfied. I want to bring in our own Tom Foreman, a huge fan of the movie "Water World." Tom, much of the Obama care model hinges on mandating that younger, healthier people get into the insurance system. Is that happening?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, from the beginning, we have known that no matter how many people sign up for Obamacare, a substantial number have to be as you say, young and healthy. They have to put more money into the insurance pool than they take out, and the data we have so far suggests that part of the equation is not particularly going very well.

We only have detailed information from five states right now, but let's take a look. California, which has seen a big surge this week in the number of people establishing accounts, about 10,000 a day, is nonetheless only seeing about 23 percent of that young healthy demographic.

Washington State up here, same thing, 23 percent, Kentucky, touted as one of the most successful state programs, has only 19 percent in the young healthy category. Connecticut has the same percentage and Maryland has 27 percent. So far, there's not one state out there that's showing a robust response by the young, healthy, Jake those folks who are so much need.

TAPPER: As you point out, that's only a few states. Do we have any idea how that fits into the bigger picture, all 50 states and the District of Columbia?

FOREMAN: Yes, because we are getting a clearer sense of the bigger picture. First, the Congressional Budget Office established this idea that you would need seven million people in the program by March for this thing to really work. Right now, so far in terms of people who have actually signed up for an insurance policy, that goal is a long way off.

They are only at about 3 percent down here. That target group has now completed the process so this is really quite small. It's not necessarily dreadful, though. Because it was expected that early sign-ups would go very slowly and would ramp up later on and the very web site problems you have talked about a great deal on this show and all our other shows, have certainly contributed to the slow response.

Maybe there will be a big surge later, but let's go back to this question of the young. On that front, this is actually more important than the total number. Of this number, there's a target of 38 percent that needs to be reached for the math of all this to work. You have to have 38 percent of the people here young and healthy.

And right now, if you take all the states and you average it out, you are at only 21.6 percent. Jake, these are the numbers that the White House has to look at very closely because even if you get four million signed up or 12 million signed up, if this number does not work out, you got a problem.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks. Let's bring in our political panel. Editor in chief of "The Hotline" for "National Journal," Josh Kraushaar, CNN chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, these are not good numbers. As Barbie once said, math is hard, but these are not good numbers. Do you think going into the midterm elections, which were starting to be looked at right now, any issue will mean as much as Obamacare and whether it's working or not?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. There's no issue that's going to touch it. Obviously, it's the issue particularly since so far, it's not working. Republicans are going to focus on it and I think that there is a secondary issue now, which is abuse of power, which is going to be a part of their campaign litany because of the whole nuclear option thing.

TAPPER: From the Republicans accusing Democrats.

BORGER: Accusing Democrats of abuse of power. What the Obamacare plays into is this notion of the government doesn't work. And we're right about the size of government, say the Republicans, and this president is somebody who believes the government can solve all our problems and we know that's not the case and you shouldn't trust the government with your health care and these Democrats can't be trusted because they're abusing their majority.

TAPPER: Josh, is there any empirical evidence that Obamacare will hurt a candidate? We saw very contradictory and mixed results in Virginia with the governor's race. How do you think it's going to affect the races and is there any evidence to prove it will go one way or the other?

JOSH KRAUSHAAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE," "NATIONAL JOURNAL": It should have a very significant impact on the Senate landscape, which is being fought in these red conservative states. Mary Landrieu's poll numbers, she's under water in her approval rating for a poll that just came out today. She could possibly lose to a Republican even though she's looked in very good shape a month or two ago.

Al Franken came out for an individual mandate bill this afternoon because he looked like he was in pretty good shape in a blue state like Minnesota, but his poll numbers have taken a plunge. Any Democrat in a swing state, especially those in the red states, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, they will have to really be concerned about their political future and when they start distancing themselves a little more from the health care law.

TAPPER: Dana, yesterday we did the show from Capitol Hill and Senator Dan Coats, Republican from Indiana, said that he thought the whole thing, the whole filibuster reform and all that, bringing it down from 51 votes for the president's nominees, that was all just trying to change the subject. And the truth of the matter is, I don't hear anybody talking about it today.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in part because the Senate's gone for two weeks, which I think Democrats may be lucky about but --

TAPPER: They do still have mouths.

BASH: They have mouths and they somehow know how to find the microphone, wherever they are. But to your point, you're right that they're not talking about it right now. We'll see what happens, the ramifications when you get to big legislation, if they actually bring up legislation, much less bills to fund the government but sort of their basic function.

I think the point that he was making and you all are making about Obamacare is key, because as much as Republicans are angry and calling it a power grab and Washington run amok, they -- the biggest message that they have is that they're trying to change the subject from Obamacare and they want to keep the subject on Obamacare for the reasons you all just said.

BORGER: By the way, they want to change the subject from the shutdown because the shutdown over defunding Obamacare didn't exactly do well for them. So they were down, now they're up, and they want to talk about the problems that the president has had with Obamacare rather than this notion of defunding without replacing. That's what the Democrats are going to be talking about is OK, you want to get rid of it, could you kind of tell us exactly what you want to replace it with?

TAPPER: I thought that after the election, there would be a big move potentially for immigration reform. We haven't really seen it. A few days ago, I thought that Speaker Boehner had basically killed it with a stake through its heart, but then he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The American people are skeptical of big comprehensive bills and frankly, they should be. The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That sounds more optimistic than the last comment he had made about this. It sounds like they might actually try to do something.

KRAUSHAAR: It seems like he was throwing an olive branch out just like the president did this week but boy, he has such a conservative caucus. You talk to any of the folks who gave him such a hard time with the government shutdown, gave him a hard time on immigration before, I just don't see the votes being there. I don't think Republicans want to have this divisive fight over immigration internally when they have the health care issue.

BASH: That's why he threw it out because the president did throw out an olive branch. How can a Republican speaker whose party lost so big in the last election not say at least that he's trying, at least say he is trying? We know they're not going to do it this year, next year, election year, probably not. But you said we didn't see a lot of movement. We actually did see movement in the Senate.

TAPPER: In the Senate we did, right.

BASH: And -- and look what happened. Marco Rubio got completely trounced by the base and attacked by the base, because of the fact that he pushed it.

BORGER: Here's where the big government argument comes in because if you want to say OK, we have to secure the border first, who's going to secure the border, government. Do you trust government to do it? Not so much.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, great sound effect. Thank you so much.

When we come back, he ran toward the car as Jackie Kennedy famously crawled on to the back of the limousine. For years, this Secret Service agent felt guilty for not doing more. So what ultimately gave him some peace? We'll hear directly from him.

Plus, one musician tries to make the world happy with a music video that lasts an entire day. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. There are so many iconic images from that horrific period that began 50 years ago today with that crack of an assassin's rifle, John F. Kennedy Jr.'s heart wrenching salute at his father's casket, LBJ being sworn in on Air Force One next to Mrs. Kennedy still wearing her blood-stained suit and then of course, this one, behind me, the suddenly tragically widowed Jackie Kennedy and a Secret Service agent scrambling to protect her.

Earlier this week, I had the rare honor of moderating a panel at the Newseum with that agent, Clint Hill, the man who that day ran towards the target. I want you to meet him. Here he is explaining to me what happened when he first heard the shots.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLINT HILL, SECRET SERVICE AGENT FOR KENNEDY MOTORCADE: I got on the back of the car by myself and on Mrs. Kennedy. Well, I grabbed a hold of the hand hold, had my foot up on the rear bumper platform and the driver hit the gas. When he did that, I came off and slipped, and I had to run two or three more steps before I could get back up there. In that time frame, Mrs. Kennedy came up on the trunk. She was trying to grab some of that material that came out of the president's head.

She was trying to pull it back. She didn't even realize I was there. So I got a hold of her and put her in the back seat and when I did that, the president's body fell farther to his left with his head in her lap, and the right side of his face was up, but I could see his eyes were fixed and I could see through that hole in his skull.

Most of that brain matter was gone in that area. So I assumed it was a fatal wound. I turned and I gave a thumbs down to the other agents to let them know how serious it was.

TAPPER: It's obviously still very close to the surface for you. I'm wondering if the emotion you feel, if you forgive me for even prying into this, if the emotion you feel is because of the tragedy of the day, because of guilt, which I do not think you should feel, or because of the trauma of the event or just a combination of everything.

HILL: I didn't really think about it too much because I was so busy for a number of years until they gave me a desk job. Then I had a chance to think and that's when it really started to get to me. I had the sense that we had a responsibility to protect the president that day and we failed. There isn't any question about that because he was dead. And I felt a sense of guilt because of all the agents working that day I was the only one who had a chance to do anything.

The way everything developed, the way all the other agents were positioned, I was the only one who had a chance to get to the car or do anything, and I couldn't get there fast enough. And it really ate at me and bothered me a great deal. I finally just pretty much lived in my basement with a big bottle of scotch and a bunch of secrets for about six years.

Finally, a doctor came to me and said you've got a choice to make, live or die, because you're in the dying process. So I quit all of that, started to get back in shape and by 1990, I went back to Dallas. I walked the streets of Dealey Plaza, Houston Street, went up into the Texas School Book Depository, went up to the sixth floor, looked out the window, checked all the angles, the weather, everything I could think of.

I finally came to the realization that he had all the advantages that day. We didn't have any and I did everything I could. I couldn't have done any more than I did.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: You can watch the film "The Assassination Of President Kennedy" tonight at 10:00 p.m. on CNN.

Coming up next, she was a relatively unknown actress when she landed the role of a lifetime. Now critics are raving about Jennifer Lawrence' performance in the "Hunger Games" sequel. Our Pop Culture Lead coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Pop Culture Lead now, let the games begin at the Box Office, "Catching Fire," the much anticipated sequel to the "Hunger Games" movie opened in theatres last night. It's on pace to clobber the competition this weekend, already raking in an estimated $25 million. That's not really a surprise, given the recent trend in Hollywood where movies like "The Hunger Games" are quenching the appetite of a very loyal audience, teenagers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many dwarfs in my dining room as it is.

TAPPER: Hobbits, wizards, vampires, and arrow-wielding heroines. It seems the odds are ever in their favor at the Box Office. The "Hunger Games" franchise launches its second film at target audiences this weekend. Odds are it will be a bull's eye, but these supernatural and fantasy worlds aren't in and of themselves thought to be the recipe for success.

The strategy for winning the Hollywood games is to focus on Y.A. books, as in young adult novels. Step one, take a popular one. Trilogies preferred where teens overcome hardships. Step two, cast the film with naturally smoldering young talent. Step three, watch the money roll in.

BEN FRITZ, STAFF WRITER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": The great thing about a teenage is when she or he loves something, they go all in. The hunger games fans they see the movie two, three, four times. They buy the DVD on the first day. They watch it online. They tell friends about it.

TAPPER: Need proof beyond the "Hunger Games" template? Well, take a look at "Harry Potter," "Twilight" or nearly everything that Peter Jackson has ever directed. But as with any money making plan, the challenge is in the execution so to speak.

FRITZ: We're still talking about the movie business where there are more flops than hits and even in this genre there have been plenty of movies that didn't work and then for the sequels, you know, when you've had one success, you can't let people down or they will turn away. They have too many other options.

TAPPER: Authors' imaginations after all don't have budget constraints, but making this arena for the big screen cost around $140 million. After all, Hogwarts wasn't built in a day. These projects are not just an investment of money, but of time as well. From first book to final curtain call, "Harry Potter" took 14 years. Filming "Lord of the Rings" lasted more than a decade. So in some cases, actors are dedicating half their lives to a single story line as are fans.

FRITZ: People who are Harry Potter fans, by the end you saw people who were in college who felt they had grown up with Harry Potter and were maybe 12 when he was 12 and now are about 20 when he's 20.

TAPPER: Diehard or newbie, fan frenzy never gets old for film executives. All combined, Harry, Bella and others have earned movie studios more than $11 billion in their young lives. And that doesn't include this weekend's bounty. So horror flicks, Rom-comes and Indy films, give it your best shot. For this game, victory favors the young.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: The first installment in the "Hunger Games" franchise earned more than $150 million in its opening weekend alone. That's the third largest opening of any movie in the U.S.

In 1983, Michael Jackson revolutionized music videos with his epic 13-minute mini movie for the song "Thriller." Fast forward, 30 years later, one hip-hop star has upped the ante. The new video for the song "Happy" is not only 24 hours long, but its innovative nature goes far beyond watching a guy turn into a werewolf.

Happy is an interactive video that lets you click through to different lip-synced scenes. It took about 400 people performing the 4-minute song to account for the 24 hours of nonstop happiness. The video also includes cameos from celebrities like Steve Carell, Jimmy Kimmel and a few like so many others find the song infectious. You'll find it on the soundtrack for "Despicable Me 2."

Of course, there are those rock and roll purists who appreciate a simpler time when videos came on TV and special effects meant lighting, lighting something on fire. You will be happy to know the 1986 Bon Jovi hit "Living on a Prayer" has experienced a sudden resurgence on the charts. The song returned to our pop culture lexicon after this video featuring some guy singing his heart out to the tune at a Celtics game went viral thanks to the renewed interest, "Living on a Prayer" is now at 25 on the Billboard charts thanks to this guy.

Adding to the weirdness, the dancing Celtics fan video has been around for four years, but for some reason, it picked up steam in recent weeks. That's something to do with the Celtics picking up steam. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer.