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Elizabeth Warren: "I Am Not Running For President"; Biden 2016: Will It Happen?; Inside The Real "Alpha House"; Mega Musicians Are Now "Franchise Players"

Aired December 4, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Politics Lead. One sure fire way to get the 2016 rumor mill turning is to promise you're not running for president. In a news conference today in Massachusetts, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren did just that saying, quote, "I pledge to serve out my term. I'm not running for president. I am working as hard as I can to be the best possible senator I can be."

Let's bring in our panel, columnist for "Bloomberg View," Margaret Carlson, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro, and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, Senator Barack Obama once said --


TAPPER: He wasn't running for president. I believe he went back on the show and said he was now thinking about it.

BORGER: Yes, except she did use the word pledge, which is -- and you know, she did sign this letter with the other women, Democratic senators urging Hillary Clinton to run. That was one step and then she used the word pledge, and I think that's a hard thing to get out of. Now should Hillary Clinton decide not to run, there is a large opening, people want a woman -- I think pledge is tough a word to go back on.

TAPPER: Margaret, if you remove Hillary Clinton from the equation. She is second after Vice President Biden. A lot of people out there have never heard of her. What's the appeal? Why do people like her?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Because she fight the banks, she said that financial meltdown there was a culprit and they didn't pay. You paid, the little guy paid. She had a -- there was 100 pictures of her on the "New Republic" cover. Do you remember that and I think we knew that she was becoming famous, but there is that element where she is the only one that made it her business to come take on the banks.

TAPPER: And I have to say, again, we're talking about 2016 and we're not talking about Joe Biden and this is the thing that I've just been noticing with pundits and Democrats for years. ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: At least this week we saw him. We have not seen him be active on Syria. We haven't seen him be active on Iran --

TAPPER: He is out there doing stuff. He is in China right now.

NAVARRO: Every time we see him he sticks his foot in his mouth.

BORGER: I believe Biden would be a very serious contender if Hillary Clinton decides not to run. I think it's hard for a vice president, and --

TAPPER: Here is a piece of polling, Clinton 63 percent, Biden 12 percent, Warren 7 and Cuomo 5. That is a huge drop off to the incumbent vice president, 63 to 12. Let's talk about the sound of Joe Biden, what he said in Japan. Headlines are mostly about this comment he made to Japanese women, there is a more serious issue going on. This is what the vice president said to some women in Japan who were at their job.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Do your husbands like you working full-time?


TAPPER: A lot of Republicans say if a Republican said that the GOP war on women would be out there again, fair call?

NAVARRO: First of all, that part is true. But look, it's Joe Biden. We have all gotten accustomed to this. It's like crazy Uncle Joe at the Thanksgiving table that says things that make you chuckle, cringe, sometimes they're OK. We're used to it. We know this Joe Biden being Joe Biden.

CARLSON: I think Governor Christie broadens the range of things you can say and get away with. Joe Biden has never said anything really looms that I recall. He just blunders. He blurts things out. You know, Obama had the experience where Joe decided that his policy on gay marriage was going to change.

NAVARRO: I think like Christie, they're both very genuine in two different ways.

CARLSON: And we started talking about it more and more seriously if Hillary gets out --

BORGER: He just spent five-and-a-half hours with the president of China. I don't know who was doing most of the talking during that meeting, but that's important, five-and-a-half hour meeting. A dinner -- you know this is where Joe Biden's experience on Foreign Relations Committee, former chairman comes in.

He has a personal relationship with this guy, so yes, he does say something like that. By the way, we're always complaining that our politicians are not candid. So you get a guy who is not candid and we complain about his candor.

NAVARRO: We are only talking about the blunder. We're not talking about what might have occurred in those meeting.

TAPPER: Yes. We did cover it earlier, and we going to cover it more with Jon Huntsman. But I take your point, that's also kind of my argument is that he is a serious guy, but these gaffs get in the way.

While we're talking about candor, let's talk about Bill Clinton and comments he made a few decades ago. He said this about experimenting while a student in England decades ago.


BIDEN: I experimented with marijuana a few times, and I didn't like it, I didn't inhale.


TAPPER: So he again tried to clarify the comments, 20 years later, when asked by, I believe, Jorge Ramos.


BIDEN: I never denied that I used marijuana. I told the truth, I thought it was funny.


TAPPER: So this one doobie or whatever is haunting the president, former President Clinton for more than four decades now. Marijuana is now legal in states in this country, should the media just let this go?

NAVARRO: Yes, by the time 2016 rolls round, we're all going to claiming to have inhaled or not. It's going to be legal everywhere so --

BORGER: We'll all be high for that election.

CARLSON: I'm surprised he was at all defensive about it. Let it go.

TAPPER: One last thing, I want to bring in the sound from Vice President Cheney who was asked about this feud between his daughters, listen.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We, you know, we are surprised when there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook. It was always launched in the family because that is our preference.


BORGER: Doesn't he sound like the godfather. We like to deal with it in the family. This is clearly embarrassing for him. He is to the left of Liz Cheney on gay marriage.

CARLSON: The attacks were --

TAPPER: He supports Mary on the issue, but --

CARLSON: Politics is the business we have chosen.

TAPPER: Another godfather reference, I appreciate it. Ana, Margaret, Gloria, thank you so much. Coming up next, a frat house in the heart of Capitol Hill, the guys living in it are some of the most powerful members of Congress.

We are getting a tour of the real Alpha house so who sleeps on the couch.

Plus, he hasn't had a new album in 20 years. Can Billy Joel still fill Madison Square Garden indefinitely?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other political news, this is a true story. Four congressmen were picked to live in a house. What happens when politicians stop being polite and start getting real? It sounds kind of like the latest instalment of MTV's "The Real World."

But the Amazon series, "Alpha House" is a web only show inspired by the unique living arrangements of four members of Congress now down to three. The series on Amazon Prime is nothing like their lives, but it doesn't mean they don't enjoy their fair share of made for TV moments. CNN chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, took an inclusive tour of the real "Alpha House."


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paint peeling off of the walls, sheets covering the windows, broken blinds, a mangled chair covered up with a wood board, an ancient stove with a giant hole and yes, that's underwear in the living room. What looks and feels like the most run down frat house on campus is actually the Capitol Hill home of some of the most powerful men in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Omega House.

BASH (on camera): I love what you've done with the place.


BASH (voice-over): Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer, the second and third ranking Senate Democrats live here together Their landlord and third roommate is Democratic Congressman George Miller. The house is so legendary it inspired a new TV series, "Alpha House" except the Senate roommates in the show are Republicans.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We want to say they are nothing like us. Don't even begin to think so. BASH (on camera): When people see this house, they are going to know because in the show it's a little bit nicer.

(voice-over): Miller, the owner, started taking in tenants more than 30 years ago. The house has not been updated since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stopped buying LPs. The same exact records are there now as the day I moved in, in 1982.

BASH (on camera): The best part about it is the products -- this is a cassette player.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my medicine cabinet here.

BASH: I didn't know you were a metrosexual.

(voice-over): Schumer's stuff is thrown all over the living room.

(on camera): Seriously, this is where you sleep every night?


BASH: And you wake up to Barack Obama starring you in the face?


BASH: Senator Durbin did out you a little bit, he said this is the most you ever made your bed. Thank you -- and the blinds are particularly beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy can see the weather. It's a special effect.

BASH (voice-over): The phone is still plugged in, but has not worked in years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 547-2513. I still remember the number.

BASH (on camera): You don't use the phone, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is always saving money.

BASH (voice-over): Their couch was a money saver too.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: My son wanted to throw that away. He put it out in the trash and it had to be 14 years old, but it's better than anything we have.

BASH: Their refrigerator, well, it's a scary sight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a lethal weapon.

BASH: No wonder they have a problem with rats.

DURBIN: The rats may have done that.

BASH (voice-over): How many did you have? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a dream two nights ago that the rats were --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought they were in the Senate, I didn't know they came to the house.

BASH (on camera): What wear is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben Franklin gave that to us.

BASH: Since this is not a kitchen fit for cooking, the congressional roommates take the easy route, cold cereal. They buy it in bulk.

(voice-over): The fictitious lawmakers in Alpha House have breakfast together, watch sports at night not so much here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I come in about midnight from my office usually and then --

BASH: An opening scene of "Alpha House" shows a bowl of flag pins on the counter. This is what they have on their counter --

(on camera): Screws and a random pill and a pen in case you need one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's modern art.

BASH (voice-over): It's hard to believe such prominent politicians live in these conditions -- but they're only in Washington about three nights a week.

(on camera): What makes it work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your friends. We love it. It's home.


TAPPER: So Dana, I did this story about six years ago for ABC and I don't think they have changed anything. Miller's room is actually OK.

BASH: I didn't go up there.

TAPPER: But I think people would be very surprised to see how they live, particularly Schumer.

BASH: Exactly. Now, you know, the flip side is that a lot of people look at politicians and think they live like kings. Some do, but they don't. That is an understatement.

TAPPER: So when I did it, Durbin had killed a rat and he said it on TV and he got an angry letter from PETA.

BASH: That doesn't surprise me. So I'm sure the angry letters are coming. So people who are his descendants because they make fun of him too.

TAPPER: Thank you.

BASH: It works for them.

TAPPER: Coming up, who knew that saying grace could be so profitable? We'll tell you why the late American painter, Norman Rockwell is suddenly back in the headlines.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Pop Culture Lead now, what does Billy Joel have in common with the New York Knicks? Well, for starters neither is expected to win the NBA championship this year, but even more Joel is now officially a New York City franchise. He has signed on to play a concert at Madison Square Garden once a month indefinitely. It's all part of a growing trend where big name artists stop going on the road and let the road come to them.


TAPPER (voice-over): Beth Medler, Celine Dion, Elton, and Cher, once they happen in Vegas, they often stay in Vegas. It's called a residency. Casinos pay big bucks to secure exclusive rights to a performer for weeks even years. In turn, the headliners get to build the show of their dreams complete with all the Vegas pop and plumage money can buy.

Tuesday night sin city pulled out all of the stops for its newest recruit, Britney Spears. Starting on the 27th, Spears will perform for two years at Planet Hollywood, nearly 100 shows total for a reported $30 million.

KURT MELIEN, VP ENTERTAINMENT, CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT: We're always looking for top entertainment. The value is having big name artists in the city, at our property - you know, promoting the hotel and the casino.

TAPPER: Kurt Melien, the vice president of Caesars Entertainment helped negotiate the deal.

MELIEN: The residency business is great for tourism for these cities because people are making a specific choice to choose Vegas over another city or destination because they want to see their favorite act.

TAPPER: OK, so Spears has the strip, but it isn't great for everybody. Billy Joel is more of an east coast guy. He played at Madison Square Garden 46 times.

BILLY JOEL: It never gets old.

TAPPER: Now the piano man will make it a monthly tradition for as long as his tickets keeps selling.

JOEL: A month at the Garden as long there is a demand means more opportunities to connect with music fans and to provide a unique and memorable show every night.

TAPPER: New audiences without the hassle of new cities is a big draw for musicians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We kind of look at the audience and we get their energy and people come from all over the world to see it.

TAPPER: In 2008, Donny and Marie Osmond settled in Las Vegas where they marked 50 years in showbizness. Cher celebrated her fourth decade on stage by getting off the road.

CHER: I retired from having to just haul myself all over the world.

TAPPER: She like other big names opted for the coliseum at Caesars instead.

MELIEN: It's a lot of work and time to spend nights in a hotel room away from your families.

TAPPER: It's a safe bet for promoters too if they play their cards right. Elton John's first show was so successful Caesars invited him back for a second stint. Karlos Santana show sales were so nice he also did it twice, first at Planet Hollywood then at the Hard Rock Cafe.

But the undisputed queen of Vegas success is Celine Dion. Her original five-year residency earned $400 million. Her second show began in 2011 and has just been extended to 2019. Billy Joel sold out his first four shows already.


TAPPER: Britney Spears in Vegas, what could go wrong? Billy Joel's first show rolls out in January.

The tragic death of Paul Walker has put the latest instalment of his blockbuster movie franchise on hold. Universal Picture says it's shutting down production of "Fast & Furious 7" indefinitely. Walker starred in all but one of the six previous films and shot scenes for the latest one.

The 40-year-old actor was killed over the weekend when the car he was riding slammed into a light pole and burst into flames. The driver was also killed. An autopsy released today shows both men suffered from traumatic injuries and severe burns.

In 1951, Norman Rockwell got $3,500 check for his painting "Saying Grace." Today the original painting fetched $46 million at auction. "Saying Grace" is one of several Rockwell works sold today by the family of his long-time art director. The paintings were on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum for more than 20 years.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also at @theleadcnn. Also check out our show page at for video, blogs, extras. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Wolf Blitzer comes right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake, thank you. Happening now, police withheld 911 recordings from the Newtown school massacre. They are released sparking for the devastated families and controversy about whether or not the audio should ever be heard. What impact will the audio have on the community and why release them now?

Arctic blast, tens of millions of Americans are about to see temperatures plummet by 60 degrees or more in a matter of hours. Sub- zero temperatures, snow, and ice hitting cities not necessarily used to the cold. Where is this severe weather now and could it be heading toward you.

Will there be criminal charges in that deadly New York train derailment? Do prosecutors go after the engineer even after he broke down, reportedly filled with remorse? I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.