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Reflecting On A Leader; Ice Storm Spreads Across U.S.; No Arrest For Jameis Winston; National Christmas Tree Lighting Tonight; Remembering Nelson Mandela

Aired December 6, 2013 - 07:30   ET


REP. CHARLIE RANGEL, (D)-NY: We said it was no deduction. Dan Marsonkowski (ph) was the chairman. And we signed that as an effort to stop apartheid and it passed. And I never thought I would ever see Nelson Mandela. When I saw him and people introduced me, he says, yes, I know him.

They were trying to push me, saying he had the Rangel amendment, you know. And he says, no, not the Rangel amendment. I thought, my God, here we go. He says, no, the white South Africans call that the bloody Rangel amendment and he said, I would suggest you get a --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: There's that sense of humor.

RANGEL: Yes. He was a big giant. He was so warm, like a bear that would hug you and you fell apart no matter who you were or where you were.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman, we have to say thank you for sharing these very personal stories of your time and your memories of Nelson Mandela. We thank you, Donna Brazile, as well, sharing your recollections and photograph. John King with wonderful mementos from that time as well. Thank you to the three of you for sharing these significant memories you have of a great leader.

BOLDUAN: Fun to celebrate that life.

PEREIRA: Isn't it?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is. It is. We'll take a break now. On the one hand we're celebrating the passing of this great man, but of course, back home we're also bracing because we are encountering very dangerous weather. When we come back we'll be talking to you about that. You know what's going on now. You're looking at it on the screen. The storm is moving, dangerous conditions, especially because of ice. Where is it going? Where to expect the worst? What to do? We'll tell you when we come back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. We want to look at another major story affecting millions of you today, the dangerous ice storm blanketing most of the United States. Freezing rain, widespread power outages expected from Texas to Kentucky. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is live in Memphis, Tennessee, tracking it all where people have been really preparing and stocking up for what they are just waiting for to come.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I don't know if you can see what's behind me, but we are talking about the line of storms having just moved into the area. Some of the heavy rain is starting to fall. Here's a sight I would like to keep. The power is on. You see the lights here behind me, but the threat that the power goes out, getting ice, that could mean power outages in this area for about a week or so.

Let's take a look at what we've seen already from this storm as the cold air has been diving farther to the south. We've seen these impacts stretching from Indiana all the way back through Texas. Where you see the circles on the map, that is storm reports, reports of freezing rain. We have already seen in those overnight hours.

Keep in mind, yes, right here in Memphis, we have a threat of a Category 3 ice storm possible. Also just north of us in Arkansas, catastrophic ice storm, Category 5, the potential is there, meaning power could be gone for weeks, a scary thought.

PEREIRA: All right, we'll be watching this, Indra. Thank you so much for that. I want to update you on the other stories that are making news.

President Obama says the troubled rollout of Obamacare should not reflect poorly on his management style. Speaking with MSNBC, Obama said the website is working smoothly now. He encouraged Americans to sign up for coverage.

Vice President Biden's Asia tour is winding down this morning. His last stop is in South Korea where he met with the president and again, like in Japan and China, the conversation was dominated by tensions over China's new air defense identification zone. Biden reiterating Washington firmly objects to the move made by Beijing.

An 18-year-old is now facing charges after officials say he stole a piece of the car that crash the and killed actor Paul Walker and another man last week. Jameson Witty allegedly took a piece of the car from a flatbed tow truck. He also posted this picture online showing the car piece along comments confirming what he had done.

No charges for Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in connection with an alleged sexual assault in 2012. Prosecutors say a key factor, the accuser's recollection of events. Winston issued a statement Thursday thanking family, friends, coaches and teammates for standing by him during a difficult time.

The national Christmas tree will dazzle Washington, D.C. this evening. President Obama and the first family will officially light the tree during the 91st annual holiday ceremony. It will be hosted by actress, Jay Lynch, of "Glee" fame and will feature performances by several stars including Mariah Carey and Aretha Franklin. If you can't attend, don't worry, they'll stream it live online. We are officially in the spirit, people.

CUOMO: Yes. Once the trees get lit, it's on. BOLDUAN: It's on.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break here on "NEW DAY". When we come back, people in South Africa are gathering in celebration and, of course, sorrow remembering Nelson Mandela. We are going to talk with the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, about the leader and what it going to mean going forward.


NELSON MANDELA: The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom be. God bless Africa.


CUOMO: U2's Bono one of many admirers that called Nelson Mandela a friend.

Welcome back to this special edition of "NEW DAY". In South Africa, they are mourning the father of a nation. Crowds are coming together outside the Mandela home all night long in a scene overflowing with both sadness and joy for a native son who became a global icon of peace and reconciliation. For reaction, let's bring in Richard Stengel. I almost called you the former British Prime Minister. You are important!




CUOMO: But I must keep some perspective. Listen, it's great to have you here. Of course you wrote the great biography on Nelson Mandela. And it's so instructive of him as a man.

I want to start with a point that we have to be careful not to misunderstand. Nelson Mandela is known for his ability to reconcile, to forgive. But that doesn't mean that he didn't feel anger, he didn't feel bitterness. It's what he decided to do with those feelings. Is that a fair assessment?

STENGEL: That's very true, Chris. And people would always say to me -- because I spent so much time with him -- I can't believe that he doesn't feel anger in his heart, he doesn't feel any bitterness. And I would always smile to myself because he did. He felt it deeply; he felt it profoundly. His life was taken away from him. His family was taken away from him.

But he understood and he learned in prison that he had to hide that anger; he had to hide that bitterness. The only way he could become a successful president and leader of South Africa was to reconcile people, was to forgive the people who imprisoned him and make sure that white South Africans did not see that he was out for vengeance. Because remember, when he came out of prison, nobody really knew what he would be like. No one had seen him in 27 years. And the ANC was a radical revolutionary organization. It was a socialist organization. And people needed to see this is a modern man. He understands women. He understands the rights of minorities. In this case, the rights of minorities in South Africa were whites.

BOLDUAN: You -- he's going to be buried in the place where he was born where he spent his childhood. You spent quite a lot of time with him there. What was that like for you?

STENGEL: You know, I did -- one of the first trips I took with him was to the Tranksai where he grew up. And you'll be sympathetic to this. He was an incredibly early riser. He could have been the host a morning show.

BOLDUAN: What a great host!

STENGEL: He'd say, 'Come and meet; we'll take a walk tomorrow morning before our interview.' So I said, 'What time should I be there?' "4:30 a.m." So we would walk in the hills around the town and the house where he grew up. And he was so imbued with that. And when he spoke in his area and speaking Xhosa, which is natural language, he was a different person, and he was even more full of life, even more joyful.

And one of the great things that he achieved was he managed to reconcile that traditional tribal situation in South Africa with the revolutionary moment of the ANC and with white South Africans. That was another amazing triumph of his.

PEREIRA: How perfectly appropriate that his homecoming will be in that place that he found so tranquil and peaceful.

I want to talk to you about this time in prison. Did you get a sense there was a defining moment that that shift happened for him? In prison, men are broken. He wasn't broken.

STENGEL: Yes. I mean, it's the -- whatever the psychologists said, the same fire that melts the butter hardens the egg. It hardened him. It didn't melt him. And one of the things about him that people don't realize is that the man who went to prison was a different man than the man who came out.

PEREIRA: He was hot headed, wasn't he?

STENGEL: Hot headed, tempestuous, you know, easily upset. And prison steeled him. Prison was the crucible that really made him. And it made him -- as I wrote in that piece, I used to ask him all the time, Madiba, what was different about you when you came out than when you came in?

And he hated that question. He wasn't very introspective. And then one day he said to me, 'I came out mature.' Very rare, a mature man.

BOLDUAN: (inaudible) he said it to more than just you, why he is adamant that 'I am not a saint'. He said that often.

STENGEL: Right, again, I think there's a lesson for all of us. Because he wasn't a saint. And what he was was -- and he was proud to call himself this -- he was a politician; he was a politician that managed to bridge these unbridgeable divides, and he was very pragmatic. He had one unyielding, undeviating principle, which was freedom for his people. Everything else was a tactic, and everything else helped him achieve that goal.

CUOMO: Do you remember in 1990, all of the T-shirts and the posters, Amandla Manela (ph). I was saying it, Kate, earlier. I thought that was his nickname.


You know? At that age when he was here, power to the people.


CUOMO: And one of the frustrations now is, he had obviously slowed down and changed. He was not the power figure that he had become. But he is gone now, and now there is a vacuum. The question becomes how do you harness the message because it was so much more important to the man than just the man. What do you think is the lesson that has to be pulled out of this for people so that the message doesn't die with the man?

STENGEL: Well, I think the lesson is that you have to be able to reconcile with your rivals and your enemies and that the things that actually bring you together are much greater than what divides you. And the challenge for South Africa now is not to fetishize him -- I mean, but to use what he's done to make that nation grow and continue to expand and evolve. And I do think South Africa is in a little bit of a perilous situation now. And I think if people are very backward looking and go, 'Oh my God, he's gone. How can we survive?'

CUOMO: Here, too, Rich.

STENGEL: Well, here --

CUOMO: You know, it's a message that should resonate everywhere.

PEREIRA: The world over.

STENGEL: But I do think he -- people understand that message, in some ways almost better here than they do there. Because there he is a father figure. And so people still are enthralled that, how can we still live when he is gone? And they certainly can. And I think it's a challenge for the ANC there. It's a challenge for Jacob Zuma to be able to learn the lessons and move on.

BOLDUAN: We've been hearing a lot of really wonderful personal stories. We talk about the global impact, but the personal stories the people have with the man, the figure, the father. What was your first impression of him upon meeting him when you started your journey with him? STENGEL: Yeah, you know, I had a very funny first meeting with him. Because I was walking with him on Long Walk to Freedom. And he came out of prison, he was unsophisticated about things. Famous -- he told me about when they first held sound mikes over him, he moved his head back like this. He thought it was a weapon. He didn't know what it was.

And so, after our first meeting, when I said to him, you know, we'll have to have many, many meetings like this. He said, 'My God, I don't have time for that.' And I sort of stormed out. And I thought, 'My God, this whole project is over with'. But when I apologized to him afterwards, he -- I said, 'I have been very brusk with you.' He said, 'If you thought you were brusk with me, you are a very gentle young man, indeed.'


And so, of course, I mean, he'd been in prison for 27 years. So he was just a lovely person to be around. He was sunny, and he was a happy warrior. And it was -- it's very hard to be out of his presence once you've been with him for a long time.

PEREIRA: I want you to talk more a little bit about this, that notion you talked of the practical politician, great ideas, a freedom fighter, but on a very practical politician, great ideas, a freedom fighter. But on a very practical level, in terms of the freedoms and rights that he wanted for his people, some of the trash pickup, a breakfast that morning for a young boy that he encountered.

STENGEL: Yes, well, in fact, he -- when I was with him early in the morning and he'd run into young people -- he loved children. He loved babies. And any time he saw a young boy or young girl, his first question was, 'And what did you have for breakfast today?'

He was very concerned. He was a practical politician. He wanted to deliver those services. But the other reason that he wasn't a saint is we compare him to Gandhi. We compare him to Martin Luther King. He always said to me, 'Those men believed in non-violence as a principle. For me, non-violence was a tactic.' And that is a very different person. He started the armed wing of the ANC.

CUOMO: Right. Started as a fighter. I think it magnifies the importance of the message, which is why I wanted you to give us perspective on it, Rick, because if you believe he is someone who is just better than we are, you know, he just didn't feel the anger and hostility and bitterness that I would, or you would, then that's one type of person. But when you know he did feel every bit as much, he had that fierceness in him, it's what he did with it, I think it magnifies the message.

STENGEL: Oh, absolutely. And one of the things I've written about is this sense of fear. There were so many times when we were talking and he would say to me, "I was terrified. I was afraid". And I thought, "here's Nelson Mandela telling me he was afraid and terrified. I said how could that be? And he once said to me, "It would be irrational not to have been terrified." And, in fact, I was on a plane ride with him once, where the -- one of the engines went out, and I was a little nervous about it, and I looked at him, and he just was reading the newspaper like nothing happened. And when we got on the ground about a half an hour later he turned to me and he said, "Man, you know, I was terrified."


CUOMO: It's not what you feel. It's what you do with it.

STENGEL: Exactly and for politicians, you have to hide some of that because you have to bridge over it. You have to triumph over it, and he did.

PEREIRA: The powerful message is that is because he, too, was flawed as we are. We too can make a change, maybe not with the power and authority that he did, but we can make a difference, right?

CUOMO: Absolutely.


CUOMO: And you too, as well, my friend. Thank you for sharing the perspective.

STENGEL: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: A reminder to you, Rick Stengel is not just the former prime minister of Britain.


He was the former managing editor of "Time Magazine". He also is the co-author of Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom". And he wrote, "Mandela's Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage". Important reads especially now. Thank you for joining us.

STENGEL: Thank you.

We'll take a break here on "NEW DAY". When we come back, insight into Nelson Mandela's legacy from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Stay with us.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, much more on the death of Nelson Mandela. We'll have former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joining us, Wolf Blitzer, Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria, all coming up with personal remembrances and perspective on a truly great man and his message. Stay with us.


CUOMO: This morning, deadly storm, the worst ice storm in decades is hitting millions at this hour.


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


CUOMO: Power lines down and if you're not getting ice you're likely getting the brutal cold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best thing to do is stay home today.


CUOMO: We're live across the storm zone tracking it all.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a man who fought for freedom and changed the world. His nation and millions across the globe remember Nelson Mandela this morning.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.


BOLDUAN: We're live in South Africa and we talk to those who knew him well.