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Union Representative: Engineer "Nodding Off" Before Crash; Official: North Korea Upgrading Launch Site; ; Bob Dylan Inciting Hate?; Authorities Probing Paul Walker Car Crash; President Obama: Health Law is "Here to Stay"; Interview with Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Republican Congressman Devin Nunes

Aired December 3, 2013 - 19:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: OUT FRONT next, speed, sleep, and the search for why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's every indication that he would have had time to get full, restorative sleep. That's correct.

TAPPER: Plus, Bob Dylan wrote songs of peace, so why is he being accused of inciting hatred?

And Obamacare, back from the dead?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I need to you spread word about the law, about its protections, about how folks can sign up.

TAPPER: Can the Affordable Care Act be saved? Let's go OUTFRONT.


TAPPER: Hello, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, CNN is learning that the engineer involve in the deadly train derailment in New York was, quote, "nodding off and caught himself too late," unquote, to prevent the deadly crash. That's according to union representative, Anthony Bottalico who has been meeting with the engineer, William Rockefeller Jr. since the accident.

According to investigators, Rockefeller passed the breathalizer test, but told them he was, quote, "in a daze" and doesn't know, quote, "what happened" in the moments leading up to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said there was no problem with the brakes.

Four people were killed and at least 67 others were injured. Some of them severely when the commuter train entered a sharp turn going 82 miles an hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone. Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT tonight at the crash site with the latest.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Human error, William Billy Rockefeller's daze, increasingly the probable cause. His union representative saying he was nodding off and caught himself too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is extremely distraught over it and he feels for the families. I don't believe that in my opinion, anybody could ever make Billy feel worse than he is making himself feel today. So Billy feels terrible whether it was his fault or not his fault.

ROBERTSON: Having eliminated a number of possible causes including signal failure, the focus of the investigation increasingly falling upon William Rockefeller Jr., the train's engineer.

EARL WEENER, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD MEMBER: The operations group continued interviewing the members of the crew today including the engineer whose interview is currently underway.

ROBERTSON: In the minutes after the derailment according to a senior law enforcement source, Rockefeller told first responders, going along and I'm in a daze. I don't know what happened. The NTSB says the ten-year veteran driver's hours were routine.

(on camera): You said that he was on the second day of a five-day shift that he had started at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. What time did he finish the shift prior to that?

WEENER: I don't know the specific time he finish the shift, but the day was a typical nine-hour day. And these days were routine days.

ROBERTSON: So he would have had sufficient time to get a full night's sleep.

WEENER: There is every indication that he would have had time to get full restorative sleep. That's correct.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Rockefeller's union rep said the engineer is cooperating fully.

ANTHONY BOTTALICO, ASSOCIATION OF COMMUTER RAIL EMPLOYEES: Rockefeller is a strong man and I think it takes a strong man to come down and be honest. That's what Billy is doing.

ROBERTSON: On the question of the brakes, Rockefeller had claimed they didn't work at the time of crash.

WEENER: We've determined that the Metro North Mechanical Department performed a proper brake test prior to the accident train leaving the station and there were no anomalies noted. Based on these data, there is no indication the brake systems were not functioning properly.

ROBERTSON: The facts, 82 miles per hour on a 30-mile-per-hour curve. The apparent late braking 5 seconds before the train fully came to rest, disturbing.

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: The numbers are starting. I mean, it's shocking and inexcusable. The question is why they were so high. ROBERTSON: What is known, Rockefeller passed a breathalyzer and had not been using his cell phone in the minutes before the crash. His employers, the MTA, saying he is innocent until his disciplinary hearing has concluded. For now, he is out of service. Not being paid.


TAPPER: Nic, any idea when investigators may officially declare the cause of this crash?

ROBERTSON: Jake, it could be as much as a year. Typically that's how long it takes investigators. There will probably be some more preliminary findings along the way, but that's what we hear. It could be as long as a year -- Jake.

TAPPER: And Nic, something we all learned about you today. You know what it is like the personally survive a train wreck? You survived a crash very similar to this one back in 1984. Describe for us what it was like.

ROBERTSON: There are surprising similarities to me, knowing the details we have now. The train I was on was an overnight sleeper. I was in a tiny carriage, which perhaps addresses some of the questions about seatbelts on trains. I didn't have -- I had only a small distance to fall. The train was going too fast. I could feel it.

We were trying to go, the driver was trying to go 90 miles an hour around a 50-mile-an-hour limit curve. The carriage I was in came off the track. It tumbled, it rumbled, it felt like it was going on forever. When it came to a stop, the window that I had had at the side was now in the ceiling. The carriage had turned on its side. I could see us very, very close to a building. We had smashed into a building next to the track.

It was a very tough experience at the time I broke my wrist. But I think looking back on it, we were lucky. There were no fatalities. No fatalities because the front carriages that came off, people had only a small distance to fall in their sleeping compartments unlike being in a carriage full of seats where you could have tumbled the length of the carriage. That's perhaps what saved us on that train -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much. I want to bring in Joel Zaritsky. He was sitting in the fourth car of this train when it derailed on Sunday and he is one of the lucky survivors who escaped with only minor injuries.

Joel, we're glad you're OK. A report that the train operator told investigators that he was dazed and doesn't know what happened ahead of the crash. What's your reaction to this news?

JOEL ZARITSKY, TRAIN WRECK SURVIVOR: Well, to me, there is an applied contract when you get on the train. That train is going to operate with the utmost safety to get from point A to point B. And if that safety was disregarded, I'm going to be very, very angry. TAPPER: Investigators say there were no problems with the brakes prior to the crash. They're still interviewing the engineer trying to determine if he was conscious the entire time. How do you respond to the way investigators are going about the process of looking into what happened?

ZARITSKY: Well, I think it is an implemental process to come to what happened. I'm sure it going to take a lot of time. At this point, it going to take time for the survivors to heal, for the families to heal from what happened, it was absolutely horrific.

TAPPER: Tell us what you went through.

ZARITSKY: Well, I was in the fourth car on the right side of the train. And it was a very comfortable ride. Made all the stops and right past Teri Town, New York, I started to doze off because it was such a comfortable ride. And I was awoken when the train actually felt it was going off the tracks going to very similar if you've been in an airplane to have severe turbulence.

It jostles right off and being on the right side, it tilted to the right to the point that I could see the gravel and the ground whizzing past my head just a couple feet. The car bounced to the right, bounced to the left. It kept rolling back and forth until I was smashed into the left side of the train on the wall.

TAPPER: Horrific. We're glad you're OK.

ZARITSKY: Thank you.

TAPPER: The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said today in a radio interview this accident was about speed and not equipment failure or track problems. The governor has dialled back those comments a bit. From your perspective, what happened as the train made that sharp turn? Was it speed that was the problem?

ZARITSKY: Well, I didn't realize we were in the curve at that time. And I had taken that train many, many times. When you do go across that curve, you go at a crawl. And as it was whizzing past my head, even then said to myself, we are going extremely fast. And we were. It wasn't until we actually were rescued that we realized that had been the hair pin curve that caused the crash.

TAPPER: Obviously some of the preliminary accounts we've heard from this engineer. We're not sure what he said since he hasn't made the comments publicly yet. But the train was going 82 miles an hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone. He initially seemed to say that the brakes were not working although investigators have said the brakes had nothing to do with it. Did you notice any attempt to stop the train before you entered that turn and it came off the rails?

ZARITSKY: No. I'm a very light sleeper. Any time the brakes would go on, even when we were making stops, I would get right awake and I was not awoken until we went off the tracks. At no point did I hear those brakes going on. TAPPER: And what do you make of the union representative in Nic's report earlier? Tonight who said, that Mr. Rockefeller, the engineer, it looks as though he has come forward and accepted responsibility and accepted blame and been honest about this. Obviously you went through was horrific and those who lost loved ones, I can't even imagine they're going through. Is there something there about somebody saying, I spaced out. This was my fault.

ZARITSKY: Too many lives at stake. Too many lives affected. I was at a dental convention today and people who were on that train came up to me. They recognized me from being on that train. And they said to me, I'll never go on a train again. That's terrible. That's a terrible way to live. The fear and the trauma that people saw and you've got to deal with that and live with that for the rest of your life.

TAPPER: All right, Joel Zaritsky, thank you so much. And again we're glad that you're OK.

ZARITSKY: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Still to come, disturbing reports out of North Korea. What a U.S. official told CNN today about North Korea's missile launch sites.

Plus, Bob Dylan accused of inciting hate? We'll tell you what he said and why it made so many people so angry.

And shocking new video of actor, Paul Walker's, final moments.


TAPPER: A developing story out of North Korea tonight. A U.S. official believes the nation is now upgrading one of its missile launch sites to handle larger rockets. It's the latest in a string of startling headlines from North Korea. The country has now detained two American citizens and we're hearing reports that the leader, Kim Jong-Un, has sacked his uncle from a high powered military post.

To add to this circus environment, Dennis Rodman is heading back there later this month. That's according to Haden Power who sponsors Rodman's trips to North Korea. Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT tonight. Barbara, lots to talk about. Let's start with the most starting headline, North Korea is upgrading its missile launch site. How serious should we take this news?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is difficult to assess. There's not a lot of visibility. There is, however, commercial satellite imagery first published by a web site with the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies. This is a satellite launch facility at a place, if you look on the right-hand side, in September, no roof on this site.

Just weeks later, by mid-November, about two months later, the roof is on. You see pavement has been poured, all kinds of progress at this site. This is a site that the U.S. believes the North Koreans will use to launch larger, more capable missiles. That's always a worry -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Barbara, this all comes in the context of Kim Jong-Un and his attempts to rule that country and rule as himself. And part of that are these reports that Kim Jong-Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, that he's been purged from his position. And earlier today I spoke -- earlier today I spoke with the former assistant secretary of state, Chris Hill, and we talked about this.


CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It's clear that at the beginning of the Kim Jong-Un rule where he had Jang Song Thaek at his side the whole time. It's sort of opened up a question whether Kim Jong-Un was really in charge. And one thing we know about this boy king is that he very much wants to show he is in charge.


TAPPER: So possibly that could explain the rest of these -- aggressive actions out of North Korea, right, Barbara?

STARR: Well, that's what U.S. officials think. They think most of the developments they are about Kim Jong-Un trying to be in charge. The big concern right now, Merrill Newman and Kenneth Bae, being held by the North Koreans, certainly with Kim's assent, with his agreement. What is it going to take to get him to agree to send those Americans back home? That's the big question on the table tonight -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

Is Bob Dylan a hater? The legendary singer has been charged in France with inciting hatred, of all things. It's all over the comments he made to "Rolling Stone" magazine a year ago. He said, quote, "If you've got a slave master or clan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."

An organization representing Croatians in France pressed charges against Dylan, but the organization's lawyer told CNN today that his clients would be willing to drop the charges if Dylan publicly apologizes.

So is Bob Dylan in any real legal danger?

Karen Greenberg is the director of the Center on National Security of Florida University Law School.

Karen, thanks for being here. Of course, Americans immediately think freedom of speech but different country, different laws. Is Bob Dylan in any real legal jeopardy in France?

KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR OF CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY, FLORIDA LAW SCHOOL: Probably not. I mean, you're right. The United States protects speech including hate speech, which I don't think this is, although the French seem to think otherwise more than any other country in the world. He said it in "Rolling Stone" magazine. It's hard to imagine a suit that could be brought. But in fact it is true. Hate speech is not protected in Europe as it is here. And in fact the European laws against hate speech are tied to the context of the post-holocaust where they associate hate speech with the violent crimes that were done against Jews and others. So it's a very different context.

But here it's a ludicrous type of charge. Hate speech is protected. There are very few and rare exceptions to it. The Supreme Court has upheld a very high bar for hate speech being protected in the United States. So in a way, it is kind of a ridiculous event, I think.

TAPPER: I mean, I think, Karen, what's so shocking about this is that -- you know, this isn't Eminem. I mean, Bob Dylan is a poet.


TAPPER: An Artist, he performed at Martin Luther King's march on Washington. He is known as a man of social consciousness.

What would make this group go after him? Are they legitimately offended?

GREENBERG: You know, I actually think that is a really interesting question. It is almost like they wanted to find something to go after and they were looking for something. And whether it has to do with Bob Dylan or with the United States generally, it is disrespectful of many things. And one of them as you -- as you said, is who Bob Dylan actually is and what he stands for and his embrace of freedoms of all sorts.

And the other thing about it is that the content of his quote is very true. It takes a long time for people and societies to get over harms that have done to them. And that's basically what he was saying. And so it's really a lot of fanfare about very thin and nonexistent legal U.S. ground about an issue where I think he was trying to say something rather profound and interesting.

TAPPER: All right. Karen Greenberg, thank you so much.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still to come, the Pentagon has a new deputy. She has a connection to Tom Cruise. We'll tell you what it is, next.

A surprising admission from Pope Francis. How he earned his living before he became a priest.

Plus, the latest from the Paul Walker crash investigation. New video of the actor's final moments.


TAPPER: CNN has obtained new surveillance footage that shows the moment of Paul Walker's deadly car crash. You can see it here. A plume of dust and smoke rising as the car careens off the road and into a light pole. Here's a different angle from a different security camera shortly after the crash. You can then see the smoke from the crash that killed Walker along with his racing team partner who authorities believe was the one driving the car.

We've also just learned that the autopsy for the "Fast and Furious" actor has been completed but the results have been placed on security hold, pending the crash investigation.

Nischelle Turner has more details on the crash.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fast cars and high octane driving. The keys of the "Fast and Furious" franchise. And possibly the cause of death for one of its own stars.

Investigators say they believe the fiery crash that killed Paul Walker and a friend on Saturday involved a single speeding car. His "Fast and Furious" co-star Vin Diesel visited the crash site Monday night. He addressed a crowd gathered at the memorial.

VIN DIESEL, CO-STAR: Thank you for coming down here and showing that angel up in heaven how much you appreciated him. Thank you.


TURNER: "OMG Insider" obtained this surveillance video showing the moment the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by Walker's racing team partner Roger Rodas, slammed into a light pole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have confirmed two DOA.

TURNER: The L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigated and ruled out a tip that the crash may have been the result of a street race. An eyewitness backs up that conclusion.

JIM TORP, PAUL WALKER'S FRIEND/CRASH WITNESS: When they passed us, there were no other cars around them at all. And there was only one car and we were listening for it. And when they -- you know, when they hit it a little bit, you can hear their exhaust. There's only one car.

TURNER: The pavement where the crash occurred is scorched with skid marks, though it's unclear if those were left by the car Walker was riding in. And law enforcement sources say the oval-like street has a reputation for being popular with fast drivers.

Walker himself spoke about the kind of dangerous driving depicted in the "Fast and Furious" back in 2001.

PAUL WALKER, ACTOR: There's nothing to be worse than 120-mile-an-hour blowout on a surface street, you know, with pedestrians lining up and down. You know, it's just -- it's just common sense. It's just not worth the risk factor.

I'm in St. Mary's Hospital. I've got a baby on a ventilator who needs a rescue team.

TURNER: Walker's new movie "Hours" will open as planned on December 13th. He'd been working on the seventh installment of the "Fast and Furious" series at the time of his death. The future of that film now in question. But this ominous scene has been leaked online showing Walker at a funeral.

TYRESE GIBSON, ACTOR: Promise me, bro. No more funerals.

WALKER: Just one more.


TURNER: And "USA Today" is reporting that -- that production on the "Fast and Furious Seven" was suspended on Monday, and Tuesday, Universal Pictures did tell CNN that they were trying to decide what to do with the release of the film that's slated right now for July 11th, trying to decide right now if they will delay that release of the film.

And, Jake, you also talk about that security hold that has been placed on the findings of the autopsy of Roger Rodas and Paul Walker. Keep in mind, sometimes the authorities in Los Angeles have done this before. They did this in the case of Michael Jackson. They also placed a security hold on the autopsy of Whitney Houston.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you, Nischelle. Appreciate it.

Paul Walker's was not the only notable death this week. Edward "Babe" Heffron passed away on December 1st. Born in south Philly in 1923 Heffron worked in a New Jersey shipyard before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. During World War II he was a member of Easy Company, one of the most revered companies in the history of the U.S. Army which inspired the book and miniseries, "Band of Brothers."

Known for his wonderful sense of humor, Heffron will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched. Edward "Babe" Heffron was a true American hero and we celebrate his life tonight.

Still to come, President Obama goes on the offense to save Obamacare.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got good ideas? Bring them to me. Let's go. But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president.


TAPPER: But will it be enough?

Plus, will she or won't she? Former President Bill Clinton discusses his wife's political ambitions. And Billy Joel signs a historic deal. How you can be part of it. Coming up next.



TAPPER: Obamacare back from the dead?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got good ideas? Bring them to me. Let's go. But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president.

TAPPER: President Obama's effort to save the Affordable Care Act. Will Obamacare be given a fair second chance?


TAPPER: We cut through what the pundits saying and look for clear answers to this important question.

But, first, here some other developing stories we're following. Too early to be thinking about 2016? Former President Bill Clinton thinks so.

CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos Lopez asked Clinton the question on the minds of many. A hint? It involves his wife.


JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL: Is Mrs. Clinton running for president?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I don't know. And I think, and she believes, that the country should spend at least another year working very hard on the problems we have. We have very serious challenges in America.


TAPPER: Clinton was also asked about whether he would support Vice President Biden if he runs.


CLINTON: Well, if he runs and he's the nominee, I'll try to help him win. I think the world of him.


TAPPER: A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that if Clinton, Hillary Clinton does not run, Biden would be the initial favorite for the Democratic nominee.

Long before Pope Francis became the world's most powerful Catholic, he reminded parishioners he was once just like us. He too held odd jobs just trying to get by in his youth. The pope -- get this -- was a night club bouncer, booting unsavory characters from the velvet rope line. Certainly a change from his open arm approach today.

The pontiff also worked at a chemical laboratory and as leader of the Jesuit community, he woke at 5:30 in the morning to do the priests' laundry. At the very least, you can say Pope Francis paid his dues.

A regular booking at New York's Madison Square Garden? Not a bad gig. Billy Joel just signed a deal, the first of its kind by a singer, to perform at the garden once a month. The 64-year-old is a big draw in the Empire State having performed dozens of shows at MSG, including 12 consecutive sold-out shows. He even has a banner in the arena.

In a statement, Joel says he's played all over the world, but there is no place like home. The series kicks off in January. And the first four shows which were already planned are sold out.

The Pentagon has a new number, too. And not only is Christine Fox the first woman to be pointed to be deputy secretary of defense, she has a former claim to fame in the '80s blockbuster "Top Gun". She is the real life Charlie. Here she is played by Kelly McGillis, of course.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you think I'm reckless. When I fly, I'll have you know my crew and my plane come first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm going on finish my sentence, Lieutenant.


TAPPER: Now, I'm sure the filmmakers were taking a little creative license with the Tom Cruise romance, but we do know that Fox was assigned as the civilian for the fighter weapons school known as Top Gun in the 1980s. Fast forward to say, her receive life boss, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says she is a brilliant defense thinker and proven manager. Fox is replacing Ashton Carter until a permanent replacement is found.

The Obamacare publicity tour. Today, the president launched the three-week PR blitz to tout the benefits of his signature legislation.


OBAMA: I need to you spread the word about the law, about its benefits, about its protections, about how folks can sign up, tell your friends, tell your family, do not let the initial problems with the Web site discourage you, because it's working better now and it's just going to keep on working better over time.


TAPPER: Republicans are not buying this sales pitch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This bill is fundamentally flawed. It's causing people to lose the doctor of their choice, causing them on lose their health plan and if that isn't enough, they're having to pay much higher prices at the same time.


TAPPER: So, how does this fight end?

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, and CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

Congressman Gutierrez and Congressman Nunes, thanks so much for being here.

Dana, you, of course, as well.

Mr. Gutierrez, how can Americans who want health insurance, who need health insurance, trust what the president is saying, given all the rollout problems that there have been. We're initially told that these are the problems, that just too many people trying to logon. Obviously, the problems were much deeper than that.


TAPPER: How can they take it at face value, OK, everything now is OK?

GUTIERREZ: Well, the fact is that people are enrolling like never before. A million people visited the site yesterday. It didn't crash. It's working. People are signing up.

I went on as I shared with you earlier today, I've signed it. I've got to pick a plan. I'll do that by Monday as required by the law.

TAPPER: Is that the first time you tried it?

GUTIERREZ: Yes. It was the first time I tried. Now, I just tried it. Now, it's the D.C., it's not the federal. It's the D.C. plan.

In my state of Illinois, we're going out and we're advertising and we're telling people and people are signing up. Lots of people have signed up for the Medicaid portion of it. And about six out of 10 of those that don't have health care are going to get a subsidy and they're going to sign up and they're going to be much better.

Look, I understand the rollout was less than perfect. That's not what we do as legislators. That's the executive branch of government. They have done a much better job and they should have checked it out.

But now that we're here, just because the computer didn't work, we're not going to stop prenatal care. We're not going to stop immunizations. And you know something, my 25-year-old daughter who is at LSU -- hi, Jessica, a shout-out to you -- she's got health care. They dropped her when she reached the age of 22.

So, you know, look. It is working for a lot of people and there's lots to be done.

TAPPER: Congressman Nunes, I'm sure you have a response to that.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, look, Luis and I, we agree on a lot of thing, but this is not one of them. I just don't think fundamentally that this plan is going to work.

If we just go back and we look. We have a $100 trillion deficit in both Medicare and Medicaid. This was before Obamacare.

What does Obamacare do? It took money from Medicare, which is already broke and then added a bunch of new people to Medicaid, just as Luis said.

So, now, we have more people go on Medicaid. The states have to pick up those costs and the states like my state of California and Illinois, they're both broke already.

TAPPER: The states have to pick up 10 percent of the costs in a few years of Medicaid.


TAPPER: It's not -- I mean, the federal government is paying most of it.

NUNES: Up front.

TAPPER: Right.

NUNES: Which is part of the reason why the administration now has delayed the enrollment. They say they expanded the enrolment until after the 2014 elections, because next year, people are going to pay much higher prices than what they're paying this year.

So, I just think long term, we submitted a plan. The president talks about a plan that he is open to plans, we submitted a plan. Myself, Paul Ryan, Senator Burr, Senator Coburn, we introduced a bill before Obamacare was introduced. He never even responded to that.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, one of the things that I think is pretty cool about this booking, I'm not just saying this. You are two of the most candid people on Capitol Hill and that says a lot, because a lot of candid people up there.

So let's just assume for the sake of argument that what you say is true and that you're going to keep believing that what you believe. But you're also a practical politician. You know in your heart of hearts that nothing is going to change until the president -- or as long as the president is in office, right?

NUNES: Well, look, I take president at his word. The president says we have good ideas. We sent him a letter four years ago. That deal is still there. If he'd like to take, we could take our plan, let people sign up for the Republican plan. Let people sign up for his plan. BASH: But it's called Obamacare for better or worse. You know, the White House is now going back and forth about whether or not that was a great idea to call that it, but it is. He's not going to change it unless the bottom really falls out, right?

NUNES: But here's the problem, though -- he can't go on national television today and say send me your plan. We sent him a plan four years ago and then he won't accept our plan.

TAPPER: And in fact, let's play that sound, because he did issue a challenge to Republicans today. Let's play that.


OBAMA: I've always said, I will work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively. You got good ideas? Bring them to me. Let's go. But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president.


TAPPER: OK. So, you presented a different health care proposal four years ago. Do you have a proposal to improve the law that exists right now?

NUNES: Well, it's a totally different concept. So, if the president wanted to take us -- if he took us up on our offer, I'm not saying -- I'm speaking totally out of turn here. But if they want to take our bill and endorse and it pass it, you basically have two separate health care plans out there. You have Obamacare and you have this free market approach that I would like to try and many Republican would like to try.

GUTIERREZ: It is a free market approach. I went on the Web site. There were a dozen different plans that were there. I tried to pick one as close to the one that the federal government has provided me. And I just wanted to state that, you know, members of Congress, all 435 of us, we have the same health care that the IRS agent has, the guy at Social Security.

We have the same --

TAPPER: In the federal exchange, you can go on and you can pick your plan among --

GUTIERREZ: What I'm trying to say, for the last 21 years, I have been afforded quality health care, government sponsored health care, $450 a month I pay. That's been my contribution. I pay the same contribution that any other federal employee.

And all I'm trying to say, if we are in the federal government, shouldn't we give the same opportunity to everyone else that we provide and serve?

TAPPER: Surely, you acknowledge that there are problems beyond the Web site, right?

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. I do not think that you can have a plan such as this without making changes to the --

BASH: So, what should change?

GUTIERREZ: Look, I think that we should -- I think we should examine it. I think we should take ideas.

I don't have any specific ideas that I brought here tonight. But I think as the American people come forward, as we begin to look at it -- look, it's not about not changing it. We're not going on eliminate it. It is the law of the land.

But let's just look at something. Come on, guys. Almost 50 million people have no health care, indigent, emergency care. People were dying because they didn't have access to health care.

We're changing that radically in America and that kind of radical change is going to have by the nature of how huge it is, some glitches. Let's fix those and let's have an alternative. I would love to hear Devin's plan. Maybe tomorrow we'll have a chance to discuss them.

Can I say one other thing? That's part of the problem as you guys very well know. Nobody wants to talk to anybody. Everybody wants the best position and everybody wants the political decision so they can use it in the next election. I think we can -- I can admit that nothing --

BASH: So, you're going to meet tomorrow and sit down and talk and exchange ideas?

GUITERREZ: Devin and I talk all the time. Can I just say something? We have a wonderful cordial relationship and too many times, that might hurt them back home. You know? All of a sudden, his opponents say as he friend of Luis.

But isn't that a shame in Washington, D.C., you have to be careful to say something kind about a Republican colleague?

TAPPER: Do you think you two theoretically could draft a health care bill, a separate health care bill that could get through Republican House and the Democrat Senate?

NUNES: Look, unless the president embraces our plan, it doesn't matter what Luis and I agree on.

TAPPER: OK, but theoretically.

NUNES: We have -- theoretically, we have plan and continue to have a plan that covers every American. It just does it in a different way.

What they tried to do, what the Democrats tried to do with Obamacare is they tried to nationalize. They basically tried to create a Medicare for all approach. And that is fundamentally flawed approach because Medicare and Medicaid today are $100 trillion in debt.

GUTIERREZ: But at the same time, we did go out to the private sector. I'm not going to join a government sponsored health care come Monday. I'm going --


GUTIERREZ: I'm going to have a private sponsored plan.

BASH: You've gone on the Web site. Are you going to pay more or less than you're paying now?

GUTIERREZ: As a member of Congress, in my salary, I'm going to pay more when I gain access to that. I should have the same health care that we had, as every other federal employee.

But look, here's one of the things that I understand about this. I talked to my daughter today. And I said, babe, you're going to be on the health care plan. You might want to go on there and see what LSU offers you. And we want -- as a family, we might want to do this. I think those are decisions that everybody is going to be making.

And then, she said sure, dad, you're going to pay a little more because you make a lot more than other people in America make. She is absolutely right.

TAPPER: Congressman Nunes, I'm going on give you the last word.

NUNES: Well, I just say this, this is the reality. Just today, I received a letter from a big employer in my district, 3,000 employees. He gives 100 percent coverage for not only those 3,000 employees but 3,500 dependents. No deductible. Nothing.

He -- all those people January 1st are going to lose their plan. That's the reality that I have to live in. Now, I'm going to have 6,500 people in my district with no health care. And now, they're going to try to go on to the Covered California Web site and they're going to basically then be on Medicaid, which the doctors in my area already don't want to see Medicaid patients.

So, this is the ongoing problem that I think is going to occur. There's going to be more and more Americans losing their health care and I just think it was unnecessary. I hope the president actually does want to work with us.

TAPPER: We appreciate the candid conversation.

Dana Bash, Congressman Nunes, Congressman Gutierrez, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

NUNES: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, a new idea that could help save the homeless from the streets forever.


TAPPER: If you passed a homeless man on the street, would you give him a dollar? Some spare change? Or would you just keep on walking? One computer programmer -- well, he had a different idea. Instead of money, he gave one homeless man a laptop, and the chance to turn his life around.

My friend Bill Weir has the story.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Patrick, the kind of driven computer wiz who starts companies in college. He came to New York hoping to meet someone in tech that would buy his ideas and change his life. He just didn't know it would be the homeless guy on the walk to work.

PATRICK MCCONLOGUE, SOFTWARE ENGINEER: He has something about him. I remember thinking on my head, huh, who this is guy? And --

WEIR: What do you mean he had something about him?

MCCONLOGUE: He had found boat chains, these old, like, boat chain pieces and he was benching these as I was walking, and it was half tragic, like half very sad and half like this guy is not done.

WEIR (voice-over): He was so fired up by this stranger's drive, he rushed back to his desk and blog out a plan he called "Finding the unjustly homeless and teaching them to code."

He would approach the man the next day and offer either $100, no strings attached, or a cheap laptop, three textbooks on java script and an hour a day teaching him how to write computer programs.

When that blog hit the Web, critics pounced, calling him clueless, and morally suspect, his idea, degrading and horrible.

(on camera): People compared you to the villains in trading places.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't I know you two guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step inside. Nice and warm in here.

WEIR (voice-over): "Will Patrick's so-called journeyman hacker get a job? No," snared "New York" magazine. "Will there will be a laptop for sale on 58th Street tomorrow? Probably."

(on camera): So, then, you had to make this proposition.


WEIR: To the chain-lifting homeless guy.


WEIR: What was that like?

MCCONLOGUE: He was very charming the minute I walked up like, "Hey." I was like, "Hi. I'm Patrick." He's like, "I'm Leo."

WEIR (voice-over): This is Leo. As a kid, he was obsessed with science, astronomy, chemistry, physics. But then he fell in with the wrong crowd, became a father too soon and two years ago first lost his job and then his home.

(on camera): This guy Patrick walks up.


WEIR: And says can I talk to you?


WEIR: What goes through your head?

GRAND: Whoa.

WEIR: What did you think he wanted?

GRAND: I didn't believe anything. You got the wrong guy.


GRAND: No, he just said, hey, I have something strange but I'm pushing an offer and instantly, I just said, in my mind, door number two.

WEIR (voice-over): And then, the stranger actually showed up with an actual laptop, and those lessons turned into an obsession. He would write code for hours, for days on the banks of the Hudson or in a corner nook in Patrick's office. At night, Patrick would go home and Leo would go back outside. Shelters aren't his thing, which seem fine until winter blew in.

(on camera): How do you stay warm on the really bitter nights?

GRAND: You go to the train station.

WEIR: Yes.

GRAND: Like tons of blankets.

MCCONLOGUE: It's getting really cold and I keep telling him this. He's like I'm good, man, let's keep going.

WEIR (voice-over): Patrick just wanted to get him employed and housed ASAP. But Leo had other priorities.

(on camera): What did you want to do with this information he was teaching you?

GRAND: Make the world a better place.

WEIR (voice-over): See, he's a passionate environmentalist. His heroes are scientists that brave the rugged outdoors. BRAND: This is what life is supposed to be like.

WEIR (on camera): Coming outside?

GRAND: Yes, I want to be around plants and trees. I want to breathe as much oxygen as possible.

WEIR (voice-over): Since he's really worried about a changing climate, he decided to use his skills to create a carbon cutting app called Trees for Cars.

GRAND: And it shows you exactly where you are at and where you want to go. These would be riders in the same area who want to ride with you.

WEIR (on camera): OK.

(voice-over): All tech startups have snags but Trees for Cars stalled when Leo was arrested for sleeping on a bench and police took the computer as evidence.

(on camera): No hard feelings?

GRAND: No hard feelings. I know it sounds strange. I've got a lot of respect for authority.

WEIR (voice-over): That's when another guardian angel entered his life. Her name is Logan and she's been following the journeyman saga on Facebook. When she heard about the arrest, she took time off from her job at Google, flew cross country and gave him a computer of her own. She thinks this friendship could inspire a new kind of mentorship for countless other Leos, because let's face it, if Patrick was teaching Leo English, few would care, but coding is the language of a new American dream.

LOGAN URY, GOOGLE: At the end of the day, you didn't go to college but you write efficient and elegant code, that's what an engineer. Remember that cartoon, it's like on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.

WEIR (on camera): No one knows you're a dog. Yes.

If you make money off this app, are you going to go get an apartment? Are you going to do?

GRAND: Of course, Chump Plaza Hotel.

WEIR (voice-over): Well, if he doesn't make it to the plaza, he has friends like city workers looking out for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why I tell guys, don't judge no one. You never know what a person went through. They start judging. They don't know this guy. Like you say, he's a genius.

WEIR (on camera): Yes.

(voice-over): And then there is his infectious inner peace, all the money in Silicon Valley just can't buy.

How do you manage to keep such a positive attitude?

GRAND: Faith, prayer, it works. Try it.

WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, New York.


TAPPER: Leo's car pulling app should be available on the Apple and Android store next week and he's already working on Trees for Cars 2.

We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Tomorrow on THE LEAD at 4:00 Eastern, an insider's look at what some say is an alarmingly aggressive behavior by China.

"AC360" starts right now.


Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, breaking news, we now may know what sent a train off the tracks and four people to their deaths. The answer may lie with the engineer, not the equipment.

Also tonight, what's it like the wheel of the car that Paul Walker died in. Six hundred horsepower, hair trigger steering. Was it all too much to handle?

Also tonight, look at this -- they thought this was a dead man's hand after two and a half days at the bottom of 90 feet of ocean, why wouldn't it be? Instead, it was the hand (ph) to survive, a man alive after all that time that deep in the water. His story begin shown for the first time tonight. It's extraordinary.