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NEW DAY

"Very Late In The Game"; U.S. Backs Japan Against China; Massive Eight-Alarm Fire In Boston; Major Public Health Alert; Bear Attack In Florida; Record Cyber Monday Sales; Selling Obamacare; Health Scare at 30,000 Feet; Cornyn Slams Administration

Aired December 3, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The train was traveling at approximately 82 miles per hour as it went into a 30-mile-an-hour curve.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: New details this morning. The train that derailed in New York was traveling way too fast. But why? Brake failure or operator error?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Vice President Biden in Asia at this hour landing right in the middle of an air space standoff between the U.S. and China. Can he stop the escalation?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking overnight. A surfer off the coast of Hawaii attacked and killed by a shark. Attacks there on the rise sharply three times the usual. What's behind the rise?

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: All right, everybody. Good morning. It is just Tuesday. Everybody's getting mixed up on the days, not me, though, not me.

BOLDUAN: Oh, I am, that's for sure.

CUOMO: We want to show you pictures live of the scene of that train derailment in the Bronx, New York. They're still working there. A lot of it is about the federal investigation. Now, the trains have been put back on the track. The track is being restored. But, new questions all about speed. Nearly triple the speed limit, that train was going, as it came around the curve where it, of course, went off the track.

So let's bring in CNN's Rene Marsh joining us this morning from Washington. She has the very latest. What do we know, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we now know how fast this train was going, but we still don't know why. And this morning, investigators have more questions for a man who may have the answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARSH (voice-over): NTSB investigators continue searching for clues this morning and questioning train engineer, William Rockefeller, for a second day in hopes of learning why this Metro North Train was going so fast.

WEENER: From the event recorders shows that the train was traveling at approximately 82 miles per hour as it went into a 30 mile-an-hour curve.

MARSH: That's nearly three times the speed limit for this curving stretch of track. The train's speed is even higher than the maximum speed of 70 miles per hour in the straight away north of the crash site. Deepening the mystery, the NTSB says the train inexplicably went from 60 to 82 miles per hour in 2 minutes before hitting the curve and jumping the tracks.

SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: For a train to be going 82 miles an hour around that curve is just a frightening thought.

MARSH: Mechanical problem or human error? It's still too early to tell. Investigators say the train made nine stops before jumping the tracks and there were no reports of brake problems. According to a law enforcement official, Rockefeller said he tried to brake, but the train didn't stop. The 20-year railroad veteran appeared coherent another official said, results of drug and alcohol tests are not yet known. The NTSB will also look at whether fatigue was a factor.

EARL WEENER, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We will be developing what we call a 72-hour time line so that we have a good understanding of what sort of activities preceded this accident.

MARSH: Sources tell CNN Rockefeller's phone records have been subpoenaed but based on a preliminary review, it's not believed the engineer was on his phone at the time of the derailment that killed four, among them, Jim Lovell who was commuting to work on Sunday morning.

FINN LOVELL, FATHER KILLED IN TRAIN CRASH: My dad was not a victim. He was a loving father, great dad, best friend, uncle. I am so proud and blessed that I was able to call him my father.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Well, the NTSB says there's no indication of sabotage. They are reviewing surveillance video from a nearby bridge for more clues on what went wrong. Meantime, we have some live pictures. As you can see the work continues today on repairing the tracks and getting life back to normal, along the Metro North bus -- Metro North line. We should tell you, Kate, bus service continues around the accident site today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Rene, thanks so much for the update this morning.

Looking overseas now, Vice President Biden now playing peacemaker during his week-long tour of Asia. He's meeting with leaders in Japan and China amid a growing rift between the two. In Tokyo, Monday Biden urged the countries to lower tensions over a disputed air space.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with more. How did the U.S. get caught up in this, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, you know, Kate, Biden's trip was supposed to be all about trade and the economy. Now in fact it's all about the Chinese military.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden with one eye towards a possible 2016 bid is getting the chance to flex his international muscle power in Asia.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The United States has an interest in the lowering of tensions in this vital region. As I believe all the countries in Northeast Asia share that same interest with us.

STARR: Biden, in crisis manager mode, arrived in Tokyo as the region confronts a power grab by Beijing. China declared it now controls a vast portion of the air space over the East China Sea and remote islands that both China and Japan claim. Biden will bluntly ask the Chinese leaders their military intentions when he stops in China next. U.S. officials worry China's ultimate aim is a confrontation with Japan.

BIDEN: We, the United States, are deeply concerned. By the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, this action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.

STARR: China is demanding aircraft flying through the zone file flight plans and maintain radio contact. While some U.S. commercial airliners are complying, U.S. military aircraft will not. And the Obama administration is making clear it rejects China's declaration of the air defense identification zone.

JEN PSAKI, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This is a NOAA acceptance of China's requirements.

STARR: The U.S. insists it will continue flying military aircraft through the Chinese zone and has begun a long-plan deployment of advance P8 reconnaissance aircraft to Japan that can carry torpedoes, missiles, bombs and mines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now the U.S. is already calling on China not to establish yet another restriction zone and Biden arrives in Beijing on Wednesday to talk to Chinese leaders about all of this -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Barbara, thank you for that.

Let's take a look at your other headlines, beginning with breaking news. Firefighters are battling a massive eight-alarm fire in Boston. The fire engulfing a five-story commercial building in South Boston's innovation district. It was reportedly -- the building was reportedly being renovated. There are some reports that the fire got so intense, crews were ordered out of the building. No word on whether anyone was inside when the fire broke out. So far, no reports of injuries.

New this morning, a public health alert in Hongkong, the first human case of a new type of bird flu has been reported there after killing dozens in China. The 36-year-old woman visited China last month and had contact with poultry there. Hongkong has suspended imports of live poultry from three Chinese farms and authorities will visit local farms to ensure quality control.

A passionate appeal to President Obama from Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor jailed in Cuba for the past four years, in a letter to be delivered to the White House today, Gross writes he fears his country has abandoned him and wants the president to personally intervene in his case.

Gross was sentenced to 15 years for his work with the U.S. program that distributed communications equipment to Jewish groups in Cuba. The State Department called for his immediate release Monday.

A Florida woman recovering this morning after she was attacked by a bear near her home. The woman told officials she was walking her dog around her neighborhood in Longwood when the black bear attacked her. The woman got away and was able to run to a neighbor's house and eventually taken to an area hospital. She was treated for serious injuries.

Online shoppers you spent a record amount of money on Cyber Monday. Sales are expected to hit the $2 billion mark. Overall Cyber Monday sales were up at least 17.5 percent. That number could actually shift higher. Those mobile devices, yes, you were shopping on your cell, accounted for more than 29 percent of the online shopping traffic, a huge increase over last year.

In the meantime, major retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart are stretching those Cyber Monday deals throughout the entire week. That means if you see somebody in their cubicle with their mobile phone out they're probably online shopping.

BOLDUAN: You just need to keep believing that they're working.

PEREIRA: Yes, exactly.

BOLDUAN: Don't tell the boss.

PEREIRA: Candy Crush or Walmart.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is the new normal.

PEREIRA: It truly is.

CUOMO: Which is why taxes become an issue. We'll talk about that later in the show. Indra Petersons loves taxes.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Shopping to taxes, you just took me from here to there.

CUOMO: She used to work with the IRS before getting into weather.

PETERSONS: I'm not listening. Just painful right now. Let's talk about what's going on in the southeast. Still talking about a wave of energy, cloudy, light showers. Not a big deal into the southeast. Temperatures look at this, they're amazing. We're still talking about temperatures into the 70s through Atlanta, especially by tomorrow in through Boston. You are still talking about temperatures right where they should, maybe a hint above normal.

But we know all of this is going to be changing thanks to a system out west. Talk about snow. Yes, we're talking about anywhere from Wisconsin all the way back through Colorado. Look at all these winter weather advisories. We know there is a change in store for us out on the east, of course as the system finally makes its way east. For today, 1 to 2 feet of snow, extending farther in through Colorado and Minnesota.

We'll be looking at that as well. You can see the system diving farther south and east. As again, it progresses farther to the east, we'll be talking about not only more chances for snow spreading east but cold air. These temperatures going to really be diving down. The big concern here, of course, going to be where it's warm into the southeast.

We'll have rain on the backside of that system. We'll still be talking about snow. That's going to be towards the end of the week from New York back through Texas. It's that middle zone, that transition zone where we have the wintry mix, freezing rain that will be causing problems about Thursday and Friday. This looks to be Illinois back again through Dallas.

Remember just a week ago all the travel concerns we've had through Dallas when they last time had that freezing rain. The temperatures across the country, the 50s, the south looks good, into the 70s. This is now. As we get to the weekend, that drops significantly down to about a good 30, 40 degrees below normal.

BALDWIN: Put it back on the Tuesday map. We'll leave it there.

PETERSONS: I don't have backwards. Sorry.

BALDWIN: We'll work on that. That's next generation. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY", a big push for Obamacare being rolled out today as the administration says the problems with the web site are seemingly in the past. What's the White House plan? We'll tell it to you.

BOLDUAN: And a health scare at 30,000 feet, passengers on a flight to Phoenix warned to get checked for tuberculosis. They're now asking how did a sick man get on a plane in the first place? We'll have the latest on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". Is the cure for Obamacare just some good PR? Well, the White House may think so because they're launching a three-week campaign today that will try to refocus the public on the benefits of Obamacare. An official tells CNN the president will kick off the effort this afternoon at the White House itself.

Senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar is there with details. So what's the pitch, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the pitch, this is what President Obama will be addressing today, Chris, is focusing on the good things that Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act as the administration has gone back to calling it, the positive effects it's had on real Americans. But, you know, there's still a lot of focus on the website. We understood yesterday that the expectation from the administration was 50,000 people would be able to access the site.

That would be the capacity at one time. Well, it turned out actually yesterday that it was somewhere in the 30,000 to 40,000 range when the web site started becoming unavailable to some people so not quite meeting that goal. We do understand there were 800,000 visits to the web site yesterday. So there certainly is a lot of interest.

Even though the White House or the administration has met this deadline, which has been somewhat vague and was self-imposed, the fact is the web site just isn't quite there yet. There's still a lot of work to be done and the White House is acknowledging that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think that we're not done with the work that needs to be done on that website. But we have, I think, passed an important milestone when it comes to making it work effectively for the vast majority of users.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, the insurance companies still, at this point, warning that while there may be some front-end issues that are resolved, meaning you go on the web site, it's going to be a lot easier to use, there are so-called back-end issues as they call them that are still a problem. That means while some people have gone through the enrollment process, think they are insured and have completed the whole process, it may turn out that actually they aren't.

So insurance companies say they're particularly worried that for some people who aren't double checking and making sure that they are insured that what could happen is they maybe get sick sometime in the new year, go to a doctor and find out they're not insured. There are still a lot of problems that need to be resolved at this point.

But President Obama really trying here today, this afternoon, to try to pitch a little bit to try to get past some of the bigger problems on the web site and remind people about the program instead of just the web site -- Kate and Chris. BOLDUAN: All right, we'll see. What impact the new pitch to the public will have. Brianna, thanks so much for that.

We're going to talk about a major scare for some passengers on a Phoenix-bound plane now. There are concerns they may have been exposed to tuberculosis after paramedics when on plane removed a fellow flyer who reportedly has the disease. How did he get on board in the first place? You know many passengers are asking that.

CNN's Casey Wian is live in Phoenix. He's been looking into the latest in this very scary situation in the sky, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate.

By the time that passenger's doctor notified authorities that he might have TB and by the time those health authorities notified the TSA, the passenger was already on an airplane. Needless to say, other passengers very worried.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN (voice-over): For Dean Davidson, a routine flight from Austin, Texas, to Phoenix Saturday is now a waiting game, after potentially being exposed to tuberculosis on the plane. Once his U.S. airways flight landed, the pilot announced there was a health emergency on board and the airline was preparing a gate to accommodate a sick passenger.

DEAN DAVIDSON, PASSENGER: While this was occurring, the flight attendant approached us, she had a mask in her hands, to cover your nose with, and she approached the man. He was about mid-cabin I would say, to my left, a window seat, a slightly built man and told him to put the mask on.

WIAN: As emergency personnel waited at the gate, the passenger was escorted off the plane.

DAVIDSON: Immediately, a fireman came aboard. And he said that a person on a no-fly list had somehow managed to get aboard. This person had tuberculosis, that we had been exposed during the entire course of the flight, that we needed to consult with our physicians immediately and be tested in three months.

WIAN: The Centers for Disease Control and county officials in Arizona and Texas say the man was put on the no-fly list while his flight was in the air, after his doctor notified authorities that he was suspected of having TB. They're still waiting for definitive test results and say even if the passenger has TB, there's little risk to other passengers because the flight was short and reportedly he was not coughing.

Still, Davidson says he's frustrated and worried about I what he calls a lack of information from health officials and U.S. Airways.

(on camera): The Maricopa County health department says at this point they're not recommending that anybody needs to get tested? DAVIDSON: Really.

WIAN: Does that surprise you?

DAVIDSON: It really surprises me. It's the first I've heard this.

WIAN (voice-over): If all this sounds familiar, you may remember the case of Atlantan Andrew Speaker who in 2007 caused an international uproar when he flew to Europe, then Canada, despite the fact that he'd been diagnosed with an even more dangerous drug-resistant strain of TB.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Now, in this case, health officials here in Phoenix say they're actually more concerned than passengers on that flight may have been exposed to the flu rather than the slight chance that they may have contracted TB -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Casey, thanks so much for that.

CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY", the new way to deal in Washington -- accused other side of lying too much. A Republican senator says the White House has taken lying to a whole new level. Is that fair? We'll discuss in political gut check.

BOLDUAN: And then tragedy off the coast of Hawaii. A fisherman attacked and killed by a shark. The number of attacks there is rising sharply. So, what's behind the increase?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome become to "NEW DAY".

Let's get going with our political gut check in the morning.

Now that the health care Web site is working for the majority of users, the Obama administration is launching a three-week push to remind Americans about the benefits of Obamacare. So, can they change the conversation around the president's signature domestic achievement?

And also this, a senior Republican senator is calling out the White House and this is how. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I think the current administration has taken lying to a new level.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about all of it with John Avlon, CNN political analyst and executive editor of "The Daily Beast", joining us here.

Let's talk about John Cornyn in just a second. I want to get your take on the new push by the White House. Three weeks, every day, they're going to have a new message, coming from the White House or somewhere else, touting the benefits of the law. They did this leading up to the launch of the law. We know what happened.

So, is this going to work? What are they going -- what are they going to accomplish?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the Obamacare advent calendar. I saw earlier this morning, someone mailed one to Berman and it's good. So we're going to stick with it.

Look, what they're trying to do is change the narrative. I mean, one of the fascinating facts about the signature law, it's been terribly explained from the get-go. It's been a communications failure, and a lot of folks have fixated on the negative, essentially the Republicans have won that spin war.

So here's an attempt by the administration to start making a positive case. Best day would have been three months ago, three years ago, this is probably better than nothing. But this is defense, make no mistake about it.

BOLDUAN: The polls have shown he's taken a hit.

AVLON: Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: So, the spin war has been winning against him. I guess it only makes sense that he fights that spin warhead on.

AVLON: Because people actually don't really know what's in the bill. That's a failure of the administration. But need to try to correct it. Otherwise, you're defined by your political enemies. And that's always a losing strategy.

BOLDUAN: So, let's talk about John Cornyn.

CUOMO: That's actually an interesting point for segue because --

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's true.

So, John Cornyn, number two Republican in the Senate, he was tying the Benghazi controversy to Obamacare and talking about how the White House has taking lying to a whole new level. This comes on the heels of him tweeting after the interim deal with Iran was announced. What he tweeted? He tweeted, "Amazing that the White House -- what the White House will do to distract attention from Obamacare."

AVLON: Man, I mean, that was --

BOLDUAN: I mean, he's known to be critical but --

AVLON: Here's the thing, that John Cornyn is essentially a reasonable guy. He runs the Republican Senatorial Committee. He has been at war with the Tea Party. The Tea Party has criticized him intensely for not being extreme enough and backing, quote-unquote, "establishment candidates."

Look, this statement is outrageous for at least two different reasons, revealing for two reasons. First of all, lying to a whole new level? It's not that he's admitting that the presidents lie and people in Washington lie. That's not really a news flash.

It's the historical, the willful historical ignorance of saying something like that, when you live through Watergate, as a man like John Cornyn did, to show just no historical memory, to immediately elevate for partisan purposes the Obama administration of the worst lying in presidential history is ignorant, and therefore, it's offensive talking down to the American people.

Second thing is this, for Republicans right now, if they're trying to win a Republican primary, they're rewarded for being responsible. They are not rewarded for being responsible. So, you throw little red meat. You say things like they are taking lying to a whole new level or saying an Iran deal is distracting from Obamacare.

In his heart, John Cornyn probably knows these things aren't true. What's sad is he thinks they're politically important to protect his right flank in a primary against the Ted Cruzes of the U.S. Senate.

CUOMO: Ironically, they'll hurt him in the primary.

AVLON: You think?

CUOMO: Because the more you whip up the anger on the fringe of that party the more it's going to work against Cornyn, because he's seen as a moderate, he's seen as somebody who doesn't embrace those Tea Party values to their satisfaction. So, the more he makes that the level of play, the more it will hurt him.

AVLON: I hear what you're saying, he, of course, is trying to inoculate himself. He's trying to say, see, look, I can be just as inflammatory as you, I can be just as unhinged as you, I am one of you. At that point --

BOLDUAN: Republicans have been doing this for all of the cycles since the Tea Party came about and before.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. And it is a profound point.

Usually when you're aspiring to higher office, especially the presidency, we saw in 2012, you're rewarded for being responsible. But when we're in a cycle where you think the smart thing is to be irresponsible and inflammatory, that's revealing and it's really, really pathetic and sad and dangerous.

CUOMO: But he did use the right word. I think it's funny that he didn't say lying is wrong. We should never lie. He said, "They took it to a new level", which reflects his perspective being down there in D.C.

But he also used a word that I think is important here when he was discussing whether or not -- what we're doing, what our focus is, distraction is the word he used. And that's the perfect word, because they are completely distracted by Obamacare.

It's a problem. They have to fix it. They're not working on the fix. They're working on the distraction. They're not working on debt, they're not working on the debt ceiling, they're not working on immigration. They're working on this one little fight.

And I really it more and more that we watch it, it's out of convenience for both sides. For both sides, the Democrats going on a three-week campaign tour for Obamacare instead of just dealing with the hard legislative work they need to do down there right now?

I'll take that trade.

AVLON: Well, that's the thing. To avoid a shutdown --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'll take the trade. I'll take the trade. I'll take Obamacare if I'm a Democrat down there in Washington, I take the problems with Obamacare over negotiating with you as a Republican about the debt ceiling. I take it.

I think I'm on better ground. You know why? Because the health care system as it exists in this country, as anybody knows, stinks. If you can't be better than that with Obamacare, you're going to get out thereof anyway.

AVLON: But if everything is a negative cycle, all politics is simply about attacking the other guy and not figuring out a way to solve --

BOLDUAN: What breaks the cycle, though? I mean, there's no answer to it, I can't find.

CUOMO: Better ideas. You and I will be running, I'll be doing this game, you're going to have an idea that resonates with the voters. You're going to win.

BOLDUAN: In the primary?

CUOMO: Maybe not in the primary in certain places.

AVLON: And also, everyone in Washington is buying this idea that it's just one more election, man, one more election, will break the fever of partisanship and get things done when you give my team unified control. That's not living the reality. Let me tell you --

BOLDUAN: We can fix it all if we've got everything.

AVLON: We have a shutdown looming, folks. Let's not forget that.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

AVLON: So, we actually have a deadline to get something done and people to come together in Washington. Otherwise, we're going through all of this again.

BOLDUAN: Bah humbug, John.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: The voters usually end up coming to the right place. That's what usually saves it. If you look back, if you look at elections overtime, it's usually the people that wind up turning these things around. You'll see it.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks. Great to see you.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I know, John Avlon. We should get a picture of John's head on the little Grinch.

AVLON: I'm the Grinch?

CUOMO: No.

BOLDUAN: You're a political Grinch but we still love you. Your heart --

CUOMO: I'll give you Martha May with the big gun that shoots --

BOLDUAN: Michaela?

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at the headlines. Let's turn to that and stay out of this conversation.

Our headlines start with a live look at the scene of Sunday's deadly train derailment in New York. You can see the train cars have been removed. Crews are working to piece the track back together now.

We have learned that the train was going 82 miles an hour as it came off the tracks. That's almost three times the 30 mile-an-hour limit for the curve where the train derailed. Officials also say the engineer slammed on the brakes just seconds before the accident.

Vice President Joe Biden walking a fine line during his trip to Asia. He'll meet with Japan's prime minister today before heading to China tomorrow. Biden is trying to calm tensions between rival nations after Beijing announced an air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea. He said if tensions escalate, the U.S. will follow treaty obligations and back Japan.

Newly released surveillance video shows the moment "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker's Porsche slammed into a tree and burst into flames.