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"He Belongs to the Ages"; Big Ice Storm; Economists Are Optimistic; American Teacher Killed In Libya; Remembering Nelson Mandela

Aired December 6, 2013 - 06:30   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Obama visited South Africa this summer, Mandela was so ill, the two were unable to meet.

Still, Mandela's inspiration played large during the president's trip. President Obama returned to Robben Island, the prison where Mandela known as Madiba spent 18 years but this time he brought his entire family.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was something different about bringing my children and Malia is now 15. Sasha is 12. And seeing them stand within the walls that once surrounded Nelson Mandela, I knew this was an experience that they would never forget. I knew that they now appreciated a little bit more the sacrifices that Madiba and others had made for freedom.

KEILAR: Soon after the leader's death was announced, Obama said he could not imagine his life without Mandela's example.

OBAMA: We have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will ever share time with on this Earth.

He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.


KEILAR: President Obama repeating the words there that were said of Abraham Lincoln after he passed away.

And, Chris and Kate, we do know that President Obama will be heading to South Africa to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. We would expect as well that other former presidents would do the same thing, just because of the iconic nature of this moment. But we don't know the details of that. So, we're standing by to figure out exactly when the president will be heading to Africa.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, thank you so much for that from the north lawn this morning.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Just to be honest, there are very few who stand as alone as leaders as Nelson Mandela does. It makes perfect sense that that's being reflected by the honor being paid to him. BOLDUAN: You see that in the reactions that have poured in from across the world.

CUOMO: So we're going to be following this throughout, because as word spreads of his passing there's going to be more celebration, there's going to be more reaction. We'll bring it to you.

We are also tracking the dangerous ice storm that's hitting much of this country. You can see the wintry mix already falling in Dallas. Power is out. Flights are being canceled and pre-canceled. We're live in the storm zone with what you need to know.

BOLDUAN: And it is Friday, which means the jobs report is coming out this morning. Early predictions are looking good. Why is that still making some investors nervous? Christine Romans is here. We'll fill you in.


CUOMO: All right. That says is right there. We're tracking the storm across the country. It was snow, now ice. Very dangerous, very tough on power lines, tough on roads. We're covering it as it moves across the country. Want to let you know where it's going and what it might be like this weekend.

So Indra Petersons is in Memphis, Tennessee. That's a hard impact area right now as the storm continues to move. She's tracking it from there.

Indra, what do you see?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like it's going to be definitely be a tough weekend as two systems move through the same region, impacting them with catastrophic ice storms. Excuse me.

So we're talking about here in Memphis, temperatures above freezing. The line of storms has not moved in the area just yet. Take a look at the radar. That's not been the case overnight as this ice storm started to make its way across the country.

We've already seen reports of ice from Indiana, stretching all the way back even in through Texas. Farther to north around Indiana and southern Illinois they've seen about a quarter inch of ice. But it's just around Arkansas and Tennessee where we're seeing some of the bigger impacts, seeing over an inch of ice already reported.

So let's talk about this. There is an ice index, the National Weather Service, this is the first year they're doing it. Right here in Memphis, they are talking about this being a category 3.

That means we could see power potentially out for about a week with these impacts, with half an inch to three-quarter inch of ice. Just north of us, around Jonesboro, Arkansas, they're calling this catastrophic, level 5, the highest level of an ice storm. So, that's the system. They're already seeing that freezing rain that is moving into this region. And this is what I want to point out to you. There is actually a marathon, a St. Jude's marathon in Memphis tomorrow morning. It has not been canceled at this point in time. There's 20,000 people expected to move in and out of this city. So, just imagine the danger of these people commuting in and out with the dangerous ice storm under way -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Indra, thank you so much. We'll be back with you throughout the show.

Let's talk about the jobs report. It's scheduled to be released this morning. And economists are optimistic on what we're going to be seeing. But that's really only part of the story.

Christine Romans is here with more on that.


You know, we're going to -- let's talk about the jobs report in a minute. But we've had these strong economic signals. And, you know, your economy is three things. It's jobs, investments and housing. We think of it as the three corners of the triangle. You need all of those for your personal finances and for your -- to grow your wealth.

Recently, we've seen economic growth strong. That was the report yesterday. Small businesses, they seem to be hiring more than the big businesses are by the way. And auto sales have been up. So, you have the signals that are showing the economy doing a little bit better.

BOLDUAN: And when you're talking about the economy doing a little bit better, let's talk specifically about housing. You say there's good news there.

ROMANS: Right. So, that's one part -- very important part of your finance triangle. Three percent home growth is what Zillow was forecasting.

And mortgage rates -- as the economy has been improving, Kate, mortgage has been moving up, 4.46 percent. That's not necessarily bad to see mortgage rates moving up. Why? It says the banks might start writing more loans next year, as mortgage rates rise, first time home buyers might have a chance to get in the market.

BOLDUAN: But, historically, they're still very low.

ROMANS: Very low, absolutely. Anything under 5 percent is still very low.

BOLDUAN: So, you've got good news. But then let's talk about investments.

Why is the stock market still stalling?

ROMANS: That's interesting. Five down days for stocks over the past week. But your 401(k) is up double digits this year, no question. And you have seen really good -- really good stock market gains this year.

But as the economy starts to improve, the Fed could start to pull back on that stimulus and that's one reason you're seeing the stock market start to question whether it can keep going.

CUOMO: So, you've got good news all around, the jobs report coming out. They're optimistic it could be --

ROMANS: A hundred eighty-three thousand, probably.

CUOMO: But you're not completely sold on that.

ROMANS: I'm not sold on it and here's why, because there's always an asterisk to any kind of jobs growth that we've had. Look, you have low-wage jobs a big part of the comeback and the recovery, lower wage jobs that we lost in the recession.

And look at this -- over the past three years, and this is the president's income inequality push, right, over the past three years, 95 percent of household income gains have gone to the top 1 percent. So the average Joe isn't feeling the recovery just yet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's what we've been talking quite a lot about and will continue to be. The jobs report IS coming out in about two hours from now. We'll be back to talk about that.

Thanks, Christine.


CUOMO: All right. Let's take a break right now. When we come back, an American, a teacher, gunned down in Benghazi. Was his murder a message?


CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

The U.S. government and one man's family want answers. After an American teacher was killed on the streets of Benghazi.

Ronald Thomas Smith was in Libya teaching chemistry. He was killed in a drive-by shooting while out jogging. There are indications it could be a revenge attack from al Qaeda.

CNN's Nic Robertson has the story for you.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ronnie Smith, a chemistry teacher at an international school in Benghazi, gunned down while exercising in the volatile Libyan City. Smith's killing, not far from the former American consulate where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed almost 15 months ago.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: At this point, we don't have very much information to share about who is responsible for how it happened or why. But we certainly do expect the Libyans to investigate.

ROBERTSON: Smith may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of random violence that took three other lives in Benghazi Thursday, as the country is caught up in rising militia violence. And although no claim of responsibility yet, less than a week before the shooting, al Qaeda's American spokesman told Libyans to attack American interests.

In the 17-minute audio message in Arabic, Adam Gadahn said "rise up and have vengeance against America for arresting Abu Anas al-Libi. He was arrested by U.S. Special Forces in the capital Tripoli two months ago. He was wanted in connection with the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, echoes here of a similar threat against Americans in Libya by al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri just days before the Stevens killing.

Impossible to know why Smith was killed, but a look at his Twitter account shows the world has lost not just a dedicated American teacher but a keen whit, too. This from his account Wednesday, "People always hate the cool kids, for clarification, we're the cool kids." Much loved and already missed by his students and friends alike. Smith leaves behind a wife and a young son.

Nic Robertson, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Nic, thank you so much for that.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", we're going to continue to talk more about on the passing of Nelson Mandela, the life and the legacy of the man that the world will remember today. And we're going to talk to the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa who knew Mandela well. He's going to join us with his personal reflections on legacy of a leader, he says, changed the world.


CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". Nelson Mandela was an international icon, a larger than life leader who went from a South African prison cell to the presidency. He was known as a hands-on politician who many remember as thoughtful and kind.

Let's get some perspective. Joining us now is Delano Lewis, the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa who, of course, worked with Nelson Mandela. Ambassador, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: Let's start with the personal. You're going to meet with Nelson Mandela. You're in a rush. You leave your family in the car. You go inside to take care of business first. You realize as your family is in the car and he tells you -- LEWIS: Well, he says, "how is the family?" And I said, "The family is fine. As a matter of fact, my wife and sister-in-law and two grandsons are in the car." And he said, "in the car?" He said, "bring them in." So he came, he asked for them to come in and we were in the foyer of his office in his home and he met my grandsons, my sister-in-law and my spouse. And, it was just a wonderful, wonderful time.

CUOMO: And I think a beautiful corollary on that story that gives a sense of how Nelson Mandela knew who he was, knew what he represented. Is it true that he said to you, bring your family in, let them know that Nelson Mandela thinks that you are an important man?

LEWIS: Yes. He was very, very gracious. He looked at my grandsons, one was 11 and one was 13, and they first time had visited South Africa. And he looked at him and he said, "Do you know that your grandfather is a very important man?" And I just couldn't handle it. I said, "Nelson Mandela is saying I'm an important man?" He says, "yes, he's the United States ambassador to South Africa."

CUOMO: And of course, when it came from him, not only did it mean a lot, but it was also about what it was motivated by. It wasn't being pompous, of course. It was his sense of purpose. And that's something I want to ask you for, some perspective on. We hear about his gentility, his amazing ability to forgive.

But talk about the fire within this man, the forcefulness, the passion, the fierceness that he brought to what he thought was right.

LEWIS: Yes. It was an exciting time. I mean, it's a miracle that Nelson Mandela was the one who led us out of apartheid in South Africa, because he was the one who said I'm not going to treat the Whites as they treated us. He says we're all one, South Africa. We're all South Africans. And that was the greatest miracle that ever happened.

But his commitment was strong. If you looked and talked to him, he always talked about others in the movement. He never accepted the credit. Every time I was in his presence and I would say to him how much I admired him and all the great things that he did and accomplished, he says, "No, it was not me. I was not alone. There were many, many others."

But the other important principle was that he believed in inclusion. When I was there, he was working on the crisis in Burundi. And there were some 16 political parties involved. And he said we must bring them all to the table. And that's what he lived, his politics, his life was one of inclusion.

CUOMO: It's interesting. You know, he had said one man cannot unite a country, one man did not unite a country, obviously speaking to what you say about his recognizing the strength of the collective. But, you know, as we remembering him, tell me what you think about this, the idea that it's not that he didn't feel anger, that he didn't feel bitterness, it's what he decided to do with those things. Did you appreciate the distinction there when you were around him? LEWIS: Yes. He just believed in South Africa and he believed in racial equality. And he believed that all people in South Africa should unite and be as one. So, the commitment was there. But he was a very strong and fierce fighter as we all know. He spent his life fighting that system, which was denigrating to people of color in South Africa. But his commitment was one of one South Africa, and that was just the miracle.

CUOMO: You know, as so many look at him now as larger than life, how special for you and your family to know that Nelson Mandela told them and told you that he recognized your worth and your value as a leader as well? That's a beautiful memory for you to have as well as having worked with this person.

LEWIS: Absolutely. It's a strong memory. I was honored to be the United States ambassador to South Africa. But obviously, at the time of Nelson Mandela, it was absolutely an unbelievable time for us. And I must say that when I paid my farewell visit to President Mandela, I'd asked his assistant if I could bring several books, I have four sons and their families, "can I bring those books and ask him to sign an autograph those books for my family?"

And he did each one of them. Not only did he sign it, he wanted us to know about the family. He loved family and he loved South Africa.

CUOMO: Thank you so much for sharing with us this morning, Mr. Ambassador. We appreciate it.

LEWIS: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris. Coming up next on "NEW DAY", millions are bracing for an ice storm that is likely to bring one of America's biggest cities, Dallas, to a standstill. The dangerous weather already making a mess there. What you need to know at the top of the hour.

And of course, we will also be talking much more about Nelson Mandela this morning. We'll talk with the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who says the iconic leader brought out the best in people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nelson Mandela really taught us all, it's much more powerful and useful to forgive. And the importance of teaching others about the goodness of humanity.




CUOMO (voice-over): This morning, a celebration of a true hero.

The world reacts to the death of Nelson Mandela.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nelson Mandela was not just a hero of our time but a hero of all time.

CUOMO: An amazing outpouring of love and respect. We are live in South Africa and beyond, talking to those who knew the man well.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Plus, a monster ice storm hitting millions at this hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It real slick roads -- stop, you slide.

BOLDUAN: It may be the worst in decades, thousands already without power, millions more could be without for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the sixth time I've had to stop and get the ice off of there.

BOLDUAN: The accidents are piling up and it's just getting started. We're live across the storm zone.

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


CUOMO (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome back to "NEW DAY". It's Friday, December 6th, seven o'clock in the east. Two major stories for you this morning. We're going to get to the major winter storm that's brewing in the south. It's already canceling flights and making a mess of roads.

BOLDUAN: But first, of course, the world is mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, passing away last night at the age of 95. If the reaction following his death proves anything, his life was long, but his legacy will last forever.