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Interview with Rep. Jack Kingston; Poor Students Work for Lunch; Duck Dynasty Suspension; One on one with Violet Palmer

Aired December 20, 2013 - 08:30   ET


REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: You know, this was recorded by a Democrat tracker. It was a public meeting. My Democrat opponent hires somebody to follow me around and record everything I say and turn things into politics.

And again, it's a sad situation that in America you just can't have an honest, open discussion anymore. In fact, the Democrats already sent out a fund-raising letter about this. Now, how are we going to change the status quo if we can't have discussions about sensitive issues, or quasi-sensitive issues, and without all the hyperbole that we always get trapped into in modern era.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. No question. But as you know, congressman, neither party has cornered the market on cheap tricks, OK -


CUOMO: So that's not a fruitful discussion. Let me ask you though, because you are saying free lunch in here. Forget about who recorded it. Let's get to what was recorded. Are - were -- are you saying that you weren't talking about kids who get free lunches? That that wasn't mentioned at all?

KINGSTON: Well, I think I could have clarified that a lot better, because I have children, I have four children, and I have raised them doing chores around the household. I did work around the house. I'm sure you did as well. And - and so --

CUOMO: Sure. It's -- but it's the kids getting free lunches part that created a hair trigger here. It's not that kids should work. We all know that. Any parent knows that you can't get kids to do anything these days. It's getting harder and harder. It's certainly an important value. But what it seems like here, because you mentioned the administrative problem and all that, is that you were talking about the kids who get the free lunches.

KINGSTON: Well, you know, let me give my critics their due on that. But let me also say, return to it, this was a discussion about the work ethic in America and I think all kids of all socioeconomic brackets could prosper and learn a lot by having some sort of chores wherever there's an opportunity.

And again, started out, the whole discussion with how many of you, when you were 14 or 15 years old had jobs in which you learned something that you still apply to your day-to-day life. And again, public discussion, this wasn't anything in a back room. This wasn't a policy statement. This was a discussion. And it seems like you can't even have that in America anymore.

CUOMO: I understand it. I understand what your frustration would be with that, assuming that you don't believe that the kids, in order to get the free lunch, need to work for it.

KINGSTON: No. Listen, those kids don't want to be there. Their parents probably don't want them to be there. My experience is with most people in poverty, they want a job.

CUOMO: That's right.

KINGSTON: And as a member of Congress, I've worked hard to make sure that the economy grows so that everybody can get a job. And so, absolutely, this is not targeted to any one group. It would be very helpful for kids in any socioeconomic group to do chores and learn the work ethic. But, you know, those kids aren't there because of any fault of their own and I never suggested that they were. But, you know, again, I mean, in politics today, it's very hard to have that discussion.

CUOMO: Well, look, they're all -- we have a lot of important discussions to have, so that's why we had you come on here at NEW DAY to clarify the position and just to let you exit on the summary of this that all kids, you believe, could benefit from this. You're not targeting kids who get free lunches. You're not targeting poor kids and saying they should have to work off the meals. It's about all kids and what you think society can benefit from, true?

KINGSTON: Absolutely, Chris. I need you to be my front man. You've done a good job of summarizing it. But that is the way I feel. And it's just so frustrating, you can't even have a discussion without any -

CUOMO: Right.

KINGSTON: So - but, you know, all kids can benefit from it. It would be good. We do not want to pick on any kids in any socioeconomic class.

CUOMO: Beautiful. Congressman, appreciate you coming on to clarify. Everybody knows we need you down there in D.C. to help pull us together because we are straining to hold on to each other in America right now. So thank you for clarifying.

KINGSTON: Thanks a lot, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Best for the holidays to you and your family.

KINGSTON: You, too.

CUOMO: Kate.


Coming up next on NEW DAY, the "Duck Dynasty" family is standing by their patriarch, Phil Robertson, and now the show's future seems to be up in the air. "Crossfire" co-host S.E. Cupp, she knows the family. So what does she think on this scandal? She's going to weigh in on this and much more.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

The "Duck Dynasty" controversy is heating up. The reality show stars seem to be threatening they won't return to the series without their patriarch, Phil Robertson. Now, you'll remember, he was suspended from the show after making comments many consider homophobic and racially insensitive. The issue has become a political lightening rod as well with several conservatives coming to his defense. Let's discuss, shall we, and bring in CNN "Crossfire" co-host S.E. Cupp. She knows the family well. She knows politics well.

So this situation is an extension of both, isn't it? It's good to have you here. Happy holidays to you and yours.

S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Thanks, you too.

CUOMO: So, what's your take on the situation?

CUPP: Well, listen, I know this family pretty well. Better than most people. You will not find a more generous, compassionate group of people. I disagree staunchly with Phil's position on gay rights. I'm a supporter of gay rights. And I've always disagreed with Phil on this.

But, at the same time, it's a little surprising to see the kind of controversy over these statements when this is a guy who's a devout evangelical Christian, who quotes scripture on his show. It's not surprising that he would hue to the biblical scriptural interpretation of this issue in public.

CUOMO: So does he even have a position or is this his faith? You know what I'm saying, the distinction? Like this -- this is what I think versus this is what I believe as my faith.

CUPP: He is a - you know, from how I know him and spending time with him, he is a very literal person.

CUOMO: So that's what it is. This is what it says. This is what it is.

BOLDUAN: He describes himself as a Bible beater. He is very proud to talk about this.

CUPP: He is very literal when it comes to the Bible and quotes scripture. I mean I'm in a duck blind with him and he's quoting scripture. So this is just part of his life. It is his every day. He lives and breathes this. And I'm not in a position to judge his faith, but this is what he believes. And for A&E to spend him over this seems a little hypocritical. This is a network that has made a lot of money off of the fact that this is a Christian family who espouses Christian values. That's what makes them popular. And suddenly when that Christian message turns controversial, they want nothing to do with it. It seems bizarre.

BOLDUAN: What do you think of the quick reaction, not only from A&E, but kind of all around?

CUPP: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Is this P.C. gone too far when someone who -- you should not be surprised that Phil Robertson feels this way.

CUPP: Yes. Well, again, I disagree with Phil.


CUPP: And I understand if A&E, as a private corporation, wants to disagree with Phil and maybe release a statement saying these statements, sentiments are not shared by A&E, I get that. But, look, I know a lot of people in our business who are actually far more intolerant of Christian values publicly.

I have a good friend and colleague who used to work here, someone I like a lot, who said once publicly on air, if a parent teaches their kids the Bible story, the creation story, they should be charged with child abuse. I think that's pretty intolerant. So the intolerance gets spread around. This doesn't, to me, feel all that surprising. He's a Christian guy. This is what he believes.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Given what you know about him and the fact that you know and he -- you actually have talked to him about the fact that you have a differing opinion.

CUPP: Yes.

PEREIRA: Were you surprised when, a, you read it, and then -- the article, and were you surprised or do you know that he saw it full face what was coming? Do you know what I mean? Because he's firm in his beliefs. Do you think he anticipated this?

CUPP: He is, and -- he wouldn't - he wouldn't hide this.


CUPP: So this is not a case, I don't think, and I wasn't there, but I don't think this was a case where someone got him comfortable and got him to say something he wouldn't say in public.

PEREIRA: Like goosed (ph) him in a way, kind of, right.

CUPP: These are his beliefs.


CUPP: He's not a shy guy about his beliefs. And it doesn't take much to get him to open up.


CUPP: He spreads the word. This is a mission of his.

CUOMO: He's a proselytizer.

CUPP: So - he really is. I think he thinks that that's part of - part of his duty. So, I don't think there was any sort of goosing him, as you say. I think he's more than willing to talk about this and just have the opportunity.

CUOMO: No, it's important to get the perspective. People, as you lay out, people are going to judge what he said whether they find it offensive or not.

CUPP: Yes.

CUOMO: But it's good to know where he's coming from in terms of judging what the intent was.

CUPP: Again, these are really good people.


CUPP: These are people - I mean, you know, Willie, his son, has an adopted minority son. I mean, these are good people who are part of a community, who give charitably, you know.

PEREIRA: So how does that square with you because you have a very different opinion.

CUPP: I do.

PEREIRA: Does that -- does that bug you, you know what I mean, personally, or do you just sort of say --

CUPP: Well, yes, we -- we disagree.

PEREIRA: Agree to disagree.

BOLDUAN: That's the whole point of "Crossfire."

CUPP: We disagree. That's OK. That's OK.


CUPP: You know, that doesn't bother me.

BOLDUAN: S.E., you filled in for Piers Morgan.

CUPP: Yes.

BOLDUAN: And you - yes you did and you interviewed Glenn Beck.

CUPP: Yes. BOLDUAN: And it will be airing this evening. As part of the interview -- we want to run a couple sound bites. But as part of the interview, you guys talked about "Duck Dynasty" and more.

CUPP: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Listen to this.


GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: Look at what we're doing. This week we are debating a "Duck Dynasty" comment -

CUPP: Right.

BECK: And whether or not Santa Claus is white or black.

CUPP: Are we too sensitive? Are those not debates that we should be having?

BECK: Is that a serious question?

CUPP: It's an attempt at a serious question.


BOLDUAN: You didn't even believe it as you were asking it, did you?

CUOMO: You've got to work on that fake curiosity that we have a lot (ph) to learn.

CUPP: This is why people love Glenn. But this why people love Glenn. I mean he -- he's funny. He says it how he means it. He's controversial. I asked him about some of the controversial things that he's said in the past and if he regrets anything. He gave a very interesting answer. We covered a lot in this hour-long interview.


CUPP: It was - it was interesting.

CUOMO: Now, one of the things obviously that Beck has influence over are people's political thoughts.

CUPP: Yes.

CUOMO: You know, who matters, who doesn't, who's towing the right line.

CUPP: Yes.

CUOMO: Chris Christie, now, look, out of the box, if you didn't know Beck, you might think, well, you must like this guy.


CUOMO: He kind of kicks the system back. But that's not the truth at all, is it? Let's get the words from him and then we'll get your take.


BECK: Libertarianism is the future.

CUPP: Yes.

BECK: And that is, everybody be cool to each other, everybody live responsibly, and live free.

CUPP: Well, that sounds really good, but let me ask you about -

BECK: (INAUDIBLE) you don't believe (INAUDIBLE) -

CUPP: Well, I mean, no, let me ask - let me ask you about the real world. Chris Christie is the real world.

BECK: That is the real world.

CUPP: No, Chris Christie is almost certainly -

BECK: No, Chris Christie is a fat nightmare.


BOLDUAN: There you go, Glenn Beck.

CUPP: Does not parse words. It's interesting because Glenn seems to - Glenn abstains from the political process, a pox on both houses, right, which makes him a very honest critic. But for those of us who work within the political process and would like to make it better, that's a little frustrating. So I asked him, you know, the election's tomorrow, you can vote Hillary Clinton or Chris Christie. Who do you choose? What do you tell people to do? His answer on that was also very interesting.

CUOMO: He drank a cup of Kool-Aid.

CUPP: No. Never. Never.

PEREIRA: He'd end up with a Kool-Aid mustache.

CUPP: Never.

BOLDUAN: He drinks the Kool-Aid.

Great to see you, S.E.

CUPP: Thanks. Thanks.

PEREIRA: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: It's nice to meet somebody who is an established partisan who wants to make the situation better. On that alone it's great to have you here.

CUPP: I'm trying. That's what we're doing on "Crossfire," trying to - we're trying to mend faces.

CUOMO: That's good. Thank you.

PEREIRA: We love it.

BOLDUAN: One debate at a time.

CUPP: Yes.

CUOMO: And be sure to watch S.E. Cupp hosting "Piers Morgan Live" tonight when she interviews Glenn Beck, of course, we just teed it up for you. It's at 9:00 Eastern.

PEREIRA: Go girl.

Coming up on NEW DAY, she broke barriers, now she's just one of the boys. My interview with the NBA's only female referee. Violet Palmer is up next.


CUOMO: All right, Michaela got to speak with the only female ref in the NBA. But you know what, there's just something that's not right about it for her, so let's get to the couch. Besides I have a yearning for a little "Anchorman 2".


PEREIRA: Never gets old.

Hey I want to show you this. She is the only working female referee in the NBA. Violet Palmer has been doing it for 17 years. Know this though she is much more than just a symbol. Palmer is among the elite refs in the league showing the way for other women and showing the fellows how it's done.

I got a chance to go one on one with her.


PEREIRA (voice over): Colossal, elite athletes -- they're the men of the NBA. But look closely, all those men are answering to this woman.

VIOLET PALMER, NBA REFEREE: No, sir, foul first.

PEREIRA: Simply put, Violet Palmer is a pioneer. Simply put, Violet Palmer is a pioneer -- the only female referee working in the NBA today officiating games since 1997.

I caught up with her recently at Madison Square Garden in New York City which for her was just another day at the office. (on camera): Being on a floor in a situation like this is very different than game night, isn't it?

PALMER: Absolutely. I feel like superwoman. You know how superwoman -- or I should say, take that back, Wonderwoman, you know how Wonderwoman would be nicely dressed. She's (inaudible), she's beautiful. She has all her stuff on and then as soon as something happens she does the whole spin.

PEREIRA: You give a spin?

PALMER: I don't spin but mentally I'm spinning, I take it all off, I put the uniform on, and it's work. It's about business.

PEREIRA (voice over): Violet stands 5'8" among the towering players whose fate she helps decide, but she exudes a sense of confidence that's larger than life.

PALMER: I'm good. How are you?


PEREIRA: And says it helps that she has a thick skin.

PALMER: I know. I know.

They may say some personal things. I used to wear my hair long and they go oh your pony tail is too tight or you need glasses. I still know that being on the court when I'm doing my job it's not personal.

PEREIRA: The Compton, California, native discovered her love of sport in grade school, the only girl on her little league team. She went on to play basketball in junior high and high school earning her a full athletic scholarship to California Polytechnic State University where she helped her team two NCAA division two women's championships.

(on camera): Do you have the respect of the guys because of that -- because you played the game and you know the game and you love the game as well.

PALMER: I think it comes full circle, I think guys respect hard work.

PEREIRA: You have to keep up with them. And you also have to get in their faces at times.

PALMER: Absolutely. You know, I have a little young fellow come out, I say "Oh, wait, young fellow, I got a lot more years of service than you. Check yourself."

PEREIRA (voice over): She began officiating high school and college level games to earn some extra money and as a way to stay close to her beloved sport.

PALMER: Here we go.

PEREIRA: The NBA took notice. She still remembers her very first pro game.

(on camera): You show up in 1997-'98, you're the only woman on this floor.

PALMER: Any negative thing you think of, they've thrown it at me. You're not going to make it. Why are you here? Go back to WNBA. Players and coach coaches are not going to accept you. And of course, it's like wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

PEREIRA (voice over): but they did accept her. And today she's on the road with these guys 22 days a month. Gazing down at the court she says she hopes more women will join her rank.

(on camera): You're going to 17th season.


PEREIRA: You're one of the only ones in the NBA. You're the only female.

PALMER: So far.

PEREIRA: Why do you think it's taken them so long?

PALMER: You know, the bar is really high. The bar is high.

PEREIRA: The bar is high.

PALMER: But I can honestly say we have two women right now that are in our training program and they are awesome.

PEREIRA: What do you think the secret is?

PALMER: For all women, we can do anything we want. We just have to have the opportunity to now show that we can do the job. You give me a shot, you give me a little chance to put my little, you know how you crack the door, I just kicked it wide open.


PEREIRA: Very, very cool lady to talk to but she lets all of that drop when she gets on the floor. She sticks to a really, really strict fitness and diet regime. She and all the other refs watch hours upon hours of footage to watch these games to stay in mental peak form. I mean she's bad. She's bad.

CUOMO: By that you mean she's good.

PEREIRA: Yes. I've been chasing that interview for many years so it was a real delight. Thanks to CNN for letting me do that.

BOLDUAN: You know what we always say you look forward to then day when it's not a headline when a woman's doing something like this.


BOLDUAN: But until then she's a good person to be talking about.

PEREIRA: She really is.

CUOMO: It also depends on the woman also. She played the game at a very high level. She understands the game. And that matters too. PEREIRA: And they guys respect her for that.

BOLDUAN: Thanks Michaela. That was good.

CUOMO: Good one -- good insight.

Coming up, the amazing moment a young man overcame the odds and achieved a dream that many do not. "The Good Stuff", coming up. Haven't seen one like it, I guarantee you.


CUOMO: We are young. Every day, feel it.

Time for "The Good Stuff". Today's edition, 20-year-old Rion Holcombe. Rion has Down's syndrome. But he doesn't let that hold him back. A point he made here as part of his video application to college.

Clemson University knows that far too many people like Rion get left out of the college experience. So they've actually designed a program for students like him and just the other day Rion got a letter from Clemson. Watch the reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: pleased to inform you of your acceptance in the Clemson Life Program to the fall of 2014 beginning August 17th, 2014.

BRIAN HOLCOMBE: They said yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said yes. What do you say?



CUOMO: Look at his sweatshirt says college. Congratulations, Rion, a college education is "The Good Stuff" and you are going to get it.

BOLDUAN: He is so stunned.

CUOMO: Of course he is, and so are so many who are going to hear the story because why? When you think Down's syndrome you think limitations. But now you see that limits are only what you make them and Rion has proven that on a very grand scale. Congratulations, my man.

PEREIRA: That is good.

BOLDUAN: Way to go Clemson for a program like that.

CUOMO: "The Good Stuff", there you have it.

BOLDUAN: Great stuff.

PEREIRA: How about that for a Friday?

CUOMO: A lot of news as well so let's get you over to the "NEWSROOM" -- Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much. Have a great weekend.

BOLDUAN: You too.

COSTELLO: "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us. We begin this morning with breaking news.

A sizzling new report on the U.S. economy just out. America's GDP, the gross domestic product grew at a rate of 4.1 percent -- that is the fastest rate in two years.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to tell us what it means. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. This is even stronger than the government first predicted and stronger than many economists thought, that means in July, August and September you had the strongest economic growth in more than two years, 4.1 percent.

We have been muddling along, Carol, at about 2 percent economic growth which is really nothing to write home about, for some time now. 4 percent growth rate, 4.1 percent growth rate is something that shows an improvement in the economy.

But did it last into the fourth quarter? Already economists saying maybe some of this could be taken back a little bit in the fourth quarter because this strength of the economy in part was because of retailers stocking their shelves getting ready for the holiday season. We'll have to see how much of that really -- product really moved. That's the trend, Carol.