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Boehner: GOP Should Support Gay Candidates; Fighting Fat With Faith; Nelson Mandela Has Died

Aired December 5, 2013 - 16:30   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another interesting thing, and I actually heard this with Eric Cantor this morning, is that they are being encouraged not just to talk as politicians, but to talk as fathers and as husbands and to humanize themselves when they're talking to voters.

TAPPER: You also spoke to Speaker Boehner about gay candidates running. Congressman -- Republican Congressman Randy Forbes has said the Republican election House, the NRCC apparatus, should not be helping gay Republican candidates. And we reached to Forbes for comment. What have you heard about this issue today?

BASH: Well, Congressman Forbes does not have the support of the leadership on this. I asked Speaker Boehner if he supports the party giving money to openly gay Republican candidates, one in California, one in Massachusetts and he had a two-word answer, I do. He's trying to put that to rest and move on.

Our understanding is that is exactly what's happening. In the case of the candidate from Massachusetts, he came very close, Jake, beating the Democrat last time around. He had a lot of support, a lot of money from the Republican Party nationally and he is going to as well this year.

TAPPER: That's right. I should have been more precise, openly gay Republican candidates. Thank you so much. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.

Coming up, fighting fat with faith. One of the country's most famous pastors, Rick Warren, joins me live to show us how strengthening the soul can save your body.

And in sports, with the Heisman Trophy within reach, charges of sexual assault just dropped for a rising college star. Did his fame affect the case one way or the other? Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In national news, one of this country's most famous pastors was right in the middle of baptizing more than 800 people into the Christian faith and as he lifted each body out of the water, he says he couldn't help thinking wow, everybody is fat.

But Pastor Rick Warren, already the author of the hugely popular book "The Purpose-Driven Life" was not blinded by the plank in his own eye. He knew he had a health problem, too. So with the help of some experts, he came up with the Daniel plan, 40 days to a healthier life, a road map to better living through five key factors, faith, food, fitness, focus and friends.

Pastor Rick Warren and Dr. Mark Hyman join me now. Good to see you, gentlemen. Pastor, this book is about community as a source of strength, but so much of our community is based around food especially this time of year. How do you work around that?

RICK WARREN, PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Well, we have to redefine what community's all about. It's about relationships. It's not about the food itself and actually, community can be a positive force or negative force and what we're doing is trying to use it in the right way. We have all of these efforts in our culture to get us to eat the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way, and we just thought well, maybe we could use community to support each other. Study after study has shown, and mark, you can talk about this, has shown we actually change better in community.

DR. MARK HYMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE DANIEL PLAN": Absolutely, absolutely. The science shows that the way we change behavior is by working together in groups. That's what the science shows, for all sorts of conditions, diabetes and so forth. So the Daniel Plan, we had 12,000 people lose a quarter of a million pounds in a year and they did it together. Those who did it together lost twice as much weight as those who did it alone and got twice as healthy.

It wasn't a weight loss program. It was about the science of creating health. The weight loss was a side effect. They supported each other, they helped each other, they cooked together, they shopped together, and they exercised together. They were there when they had issues and troubles and struggles to support each other and get back on track. That's the power of community. The community was the medicine.

TAPPER: I know you want people to get the book, but how does this relate to Daniel from the bible?

WARREN: Well, Daniel was a young Jewish leader who, during the captivity of the Jewish nation taken to Babylon, he was being tutored by the Babylonian king and one of the perks of being in the king's house is you got to eat all his fine foods, the rich sauces and things like that, and Daniel said I'm not going to eat what's popular I'm going to eat what's healthy.

He challenged the king to a contest and said tell you what, you eat all your junk food and I'll eat the healthy food and we'll see if it makes a difference. He and his friends at the end of the contest, you could see such a difference in their countenance. They were far healthier in the radiance of their faces. The king had to admit you're right, let's go your way. So he won the contest.

We named the program after him. It's not a diet. It's the Daniel Plan because as Mark pointed out, it involves far more than just food. It involves fitness and friends and faith and your focus, five different areas. We're far more than what we eat. Sometimes it's what eats you that brings you down.

TAPPER: This diet was working really, really well for you. I saw you last year and there was a lot less of you. Then you had a tragedy earlier this year which I'm sorry to bring up, your son committed suicide. I'm very sorry for your loss, as you know.

WARREN: First let me say, Jake, thank you for your own personal note and your condolences. I want to thank everyone who is watching who sent prayers and condolences. It has been the most difficult year of my life. You don't get over something like that. You get through it.

And 2013, in the Daniel Plan, when we started it, by 2013 I had lost 65 pounds toward my goal of 90 pound loss. Then I had kind of a triple whammy against me. One, I had back surgery, back problems, and I had to be involved in -- I had to go to the hospital and I couldn't exercise for four months. Then my son died, I didn't sleep for six months.

Then people were bringing me all these foods so I actually gained 35 pounds back. Now, as soon as I kind of got through that grieving time, I went back on the Daniel Plan, I've lost 30 of the 35 and am back on the way down again. I'm going to be the first guy to prove that this thing works twice and it works effectively, and actually, it's a good example that, you know, setbacks are part of the recovery.

TAPPER: Dr. Hyman, that's kind of the point I was making earlier, which is all of these people bringing food to Pastor Rick and to his wife, food provides comfort, it's all part of community. We live in a society where food, especially not celery and carrots, is considered a way to nurture and heal people.

HYMAN: But how are we nurturing people by giving them junk that makes them feel lousy and feel tired and have no energy to do the things they want to do in life? The Daniel Plan is about abundance, about thriving. How do we create thriving people, thriving community members. It's by eating food that makes you feel good, by taking away the junk and putting in the good stuff by doing it together.

We redefine abundance, redefine the understanding about what is it that we want food to do to us. It's delicious. It's fantastic, great food that tastes good that is not deprivation in any way. There's no restriction of calories, no limiting of anything, but the things that aren't really food, the processed junk that's making us fat and sick.

TAPPER: I only have a minute left. I want to ask you one quick question, Pastor Rick, which is your son suffered from a borderline personality disorder. He was able to get hold of a gun that he got online. You've said that you think he would have -- you don't support a law that would have prevented him from being able to get that gun because he would have found a way to kill himself no matter what.

But I was talking to a doctor who said the truth of the matter is suicide attempts not with guns are far less successful, 2 percent, 3 percent when it comes to overdosing on pills as opposed to guns. They are usually successful. Is there not some logic in people who have emotional problems not being able to get guns because of this tragedy? WARREN: Absolutely I am in support of the fact that no mentally ill person should be able to get a gun. I'm grateful for the fact that actually in California, we have some of the most strict gun control laws in the nation, and I'm sure that kept Matthew alive because for years, he tried to get a gun, but the bottom line is, even when it is illegal in the nation where or state where it's extremely strict, you can always find somebody who is unethical who going to eventually sell it to you, and that's what happened.

So we have to hit this issue on multiple issues. We have to deal with the violence in our society and the fact that we are raising kids on shoot them ups and games that are involving killing people, we have to change the way we think about mental illness since the Reagan administration, the number of psychiatric beds has gone down by ten times, and we have to deal with gun issues and make it harder for these guns to get into the hands of people who should not have these guns.

TAPPER: Dr. Hyman and Pastor Rick, thank you so much. The book is "The Daniel Plan, 40 Days to a Healthier Life." You can also visit>

We are going right now to some breaking news with Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake, thanks very much. We are expecting South African broadcasting television to be making a statement. There he is, the president of South Africa on the health of Nelson Mandela. Let's listen in.

Yes, we obviously are interested in the health of the 95-year-old former president of South Africa, and this statement is from the president of South Africa. It's on South African television. Of course there's been a lot of concern about Nelson Mandela's health, how he's doing.

He's been ill now for at least a year back and forth. He's 95 years old. He was president of South Africa after serving more than 25 years in prison because of his battle against apartheid. I think he is about to speak.

JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA: Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Mandela, the founding president of our Democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th of December, 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.

His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them, we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.

Our thoughts are with his wife, his former wife, with his children, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and the entire family. Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside him over the course of a lifetime of struggle. Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who more than any other came to embody their sense of a common nation.

Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Nelson Mandela as their own and who saw his cause as their cause. This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him, we saw so much of ourselves.

Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we going to bid him farewell, our beloved son going to be accorded a state funeral. I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half mast until after the funeral.

As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that he personified. Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family. As we gather wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which he fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another. Let us commit ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage to build a united, non- racial, non-sexist, Democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Let us express each in our own way the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity. That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow, yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.

A determination to live as he has lived, to strive as he has strived, and to not rest until we have realized his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world. We will always love you, may your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa. I thank you.

TAPPER: Tragic news for the world. South African President Jacob Zuma announcing the death of former South African president and much more than that, the man who fought for freedom in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who died at 95.

I want to bring in Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg. Robyn, this has been a day that many of us have been expecting for some time, he's 95, has had health problems, but truly a devastating loss not just for the people of South Africa but for mankind.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Just think, this is a man at the age of 95 who has finally succumbed and it's a man who never succumbed, who never gave up against the unrelenting apartheid machine that put him in jail for 27 years. He came out of prison and he led this country into democracy. He still continued to persevere, never giving up, even in retirement.

He kept on fighting, fighting for those causes, those charities that were so close to his heart, and there was always a sense of stubbornness and resilience about him. People always called him a stubborn old man, saying father going to always be with us.

There's a sense now the inevitability that he's gone, that for once, he's given up and you know, he's given up to the march of time, to the inevitable -- to the inevitable that people were expecting here in South Africa. He has been so ill, he has been very grave. We know the family has been preparing particularly for this in the last 48 hours. It's not a surprise.

We know he's been on a ventilator for the last six months. He's had dialysis for failed kidneys. We know his heart wasn't that strong. All of these things played into a concern, but I think South Africans who see him and still feel for him as the father of their nation felt that he would never go.

So I think there's going to be a lot of soul searching in this nation tonight and it's midnight. This is a piece of news a lot of people might not hear. It going to take a few hours before this news reaches the far corners of this country.

TAPPER: Robyn, what do we know about his last moments and what exactly was the cause of death?

CURNOW: We haven't had any detail on the last moments. We know that he was at home and that the bedroom, he was being treated in the last few months, was like an intensive care unit. We know, though, that his room overlooked his garden. It didn't overlook the road where all the journalists were camped out. There was a sense that this bedroom was peaceful even though it was a very sterile environment and that he had 24 hour medical care, military doctors and nurses looking after him.

We also know that he really has taken a turn for the worst, particularly in the last 24 to 48 hours, and in the last two, three weeks, we have also had indications that his body was starting to reject the antibiotics that had been treating him particularly over the last year for this lung infection, and it got to the point I think the doctors had been expecting it where his body just literally became resistant to every antibiotic, every drug that they could throw at it.

I mean, they have really tried to deal with it, tried to give him some sense of peace and calm, and they have tried to ease his pain, but there came a point and I think it was in the last two or three weeks where there was a realization that perhaps these drugs, these antibiotics, no matter how strong they were, were not working.

And of course, if you speak to doctors who deal with elderly people, particularly a frail man on a ventilator with failed kidneys, you know, they say that what starts to happen is that septicemia sets in and your organs slowly start to fail. So this is what we can imagine has happened over the past few weeks.

There haven't been any official updates. We've had absolutely no indication except for, you know, a sense that things were moving ahead and there was this inevitability coming from those close to him. TAPPER: I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer here in Washington, D.C. to cover more of Mandela's death, truly a remarkable figure, Wolf, handing it over to you.