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The State Of The Union Tonight; Deep Freeze Hits Nation; House and Senate Reach Farm, Food Stamp Bill Agreement; Creigh Deeds Speaks Out

Aired January 28, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Forty million of you are waking up to the very same thing today, snow, sleet, ice and cold, cold, cold. You will not believe where this infuriating weather is heading next. Here's a hint, they're not used to it, not at all. Indra Petersons explains why this storm is so darn dangerous.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The president just hours away from a high-stakes speech to reset the political clock, the state of the union. What will he say? Well, we will tell you hours before he even says it.

ROMANS: And breaking news overnight, the loss of a music legend.

BERMAN: Sucks.


BERMAN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS (on-camera): I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour. It could be a very bad day, a bay from Texas to the Carolinas from the Deep South all the way to Minnesota. This cold, the cold has hammered the Midwest now moving south. It's bringing snow, ice, and rain with it.

Warnings are up across the region, shutting schools from Minnesota to Houston. That's right, Houston, canceling thousands of flights at some of the nation's busiest airports this morning.

BERMAN: You see the icy mix part right there? That's the Deep South where it says icy mix. Up in the Midwest, Chicago can't get a break, and many drivers in Illinois are being told stay off the roads. Conditions are still bad after snow and ice and wind left a lot of the highways there in the northern part of the state slick and dangerous. In Chicago, in most suburbs, schools closed. And people are only going out if they have to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like winter has been forever and we're just -- I don't even know if we're in the middle of winter yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really cold and getting colder. I'm getting tired of this weather. I need to move to Florida or Vegas.



BERMAN: That guy can barely move his face.

ROMANS: Temperatures in Ohio not very high today. The wind there is still blowing. In Cleveland with snow falling, the mercury way below zero. Some communities are actually saying they are running out of salt now to take care of streets and sidewalks.

BERMAN: And here's the thing that is surprising about this, this cold is heading south, way south, as far as Southeastern Louisiana. That part of the state is under a winter storm warning, getting ready for snow and sleet and freezing rain. It is set to start falling this morning. You pair that with the single-digit temperatures, and the roads may freeze up. That could make the driving situation there treacherous.

ROMANS: How hard is it to get snow tires in Southeastern Louisiana?

BERMAN: You know, it's a great question.

ROMANS: Parts of Texas may be dealing with an ice storm, so crews in the Houston area scrambling to spray down the roads just days after they were socked with ice. Many schools there are closed and very busy airports this morning. Hundreds, hundreds of flights have been grounded. Passengers say last night they got the notice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our flight was scheduled for 7:15 tomorrow morning, and we got a notice about an hour and a half ago that it was canceled.


BERMAN: All right. Indra Petersons has been tracking the storm. And Indra, you promised us this would end soon. Is that still the case?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It does get better tomorrow, but not necessarily today. I gave you 48 hours, right? I didn't say it would be great. I just said it's better. But let's play a little game of eeny-meeny-miney-moe. Where do we want to be this morning? Kind of a tough call, right? We hear in Detroit, feels like 27 below right now, Chicago 28 below. It gets even worse once you get turn (ph) to Minnesota.

It looks like Fargo right now 37 below. Suddenly, New York City at zero with the wind chill looks so much better, but here's the problem. You go, OK, it's the morning hours. We know this. It's going to get better by the afternoon, right? Yes, not so much. I mean, take a look at what it's going to feel like at the highest point of the day. Chicago, the best you're going to feel is about 12 below today. Indianapolis, five below, even Bismarck looking at three below.

So, this is the problem, and yet, it's not even the big story of the day. The story is that the cold air's going all the way down even into the Deep South. I mean, take a look at these temperatures, below freezing and right along the coastline just above freezing. Why does that matter? Because right in between, you transition from first some icing conditions and then into snow.

Two things that the south cannot handle, they're not accustomed to. So, notice as we go towards noon today, I mean, look at all around the gulf pretty much you're talking about this threat. And then even over the overnight tomorrow, starting to spread into the Carolinas, still lasting in through tomorrow morning.

What are the amounts we're talking about? Well, the hardest hit is really going to be right around Wilmington where they could get a half an inch of icing. That takes down those power lines, but again, we're even talking about New Orleans seeing some snow. Of course, heavier amounts again overnight tonight in through tomorrow in through the Carolinas, ice, snow. I don't think they even know what these words are, but unfortunately --

ROMANS: And when you look at those temperatures, it's almost like looking at America's map through a fun house mirror.


ROMANS: Everything is so exaggerated.

PETERSONS: Has to be wrong. Has to.

ROMANS: Has to be wrong, but it isn't.

PETERSONS: Not so much.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Indra.


BERMAN: Hear that? That means this morning, President Obama is putting the finishing touches on his state of the union address. It is set to be delivered this evening before Congress and the entire nation. The words, you can bet they will likely be optimistic, focusing on jobs and the economy. The president is expected to propose actions that he can take without Congressional approval, executive action. He says he will use the pen.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is here this morning to break this all down for us. Paul, this speech has got to be very, very important for this president. He is looking at approval ratings scarcely seen by any president. And by that, I mean very, very bad. What does he need out of this speech?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, and here's another reason why this is such an important speech, John and Christine. Remember, after this year, President Obama really becomes a lame duck after the midterm elections with the emphasis then moving to the 2016 presidential elections, unless, the Democrats win back the House of Representatives in November, and that's a long-shot.

So, yes. How about those poll numbers you just mentioned? Let's take a look. Here's our CNN poll of polls. We took the latest eight national surveys. We averaged them all together. Here's what you get, an approval rating of 43 percent with 51 percent giving President Obama a thumbs down on the job he's doing at the White House. Take a look at this. How has it gone over the last year?

One year ago, as the president was getting inaugurated for the second time, right after that re-election victory, look at that, very good numbers. But after a number of controversies in 2013, you saw those numbers really dip down to basically all-time lows for the president. A very, very slight rebound over the last two months, now at 43-51. One more number I want to share with you. Go to this one. How does it compare to his most recent two-term predecessors as they started the sixth year of their presidency?

Look at that. George W. Bush, exactly same number, 43 percent back in 2006, but Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, much more -- much higher approval ratings as they started their sixth year in the White House -- guys.

ROMANS: So, Paul, you know, you've got over the past five years, you've got a stock market that's tripled. You've got a recovery that almost all of it has gone to the top one percent. That's over the past five years. This focus of income inequality that under this administration, not because of this, but during the time of this administration, the rich have gotten richer and everyone else feels left behind. How hard will he hit on this subject and what's he going to say about fixing it?

STEINHAUSER: You know, that's very interesting that you brought that up because that's one of the things I'm looking for tonight. We've heard a lot about income inequality from the president and from Congressional Democrats over the last couple of months. So, take a listen tonight what specific steps does he announce when it comes to trying to erase that income inequality.

A couple of other things out there I want to hear from the president. What does he say about health care, the new health care law, Obamacare, whatever you want to call it? Really, a very rough rollout last year. So, what does the president say now about where things go from here? Immigration and gun control, two other things that the president really pushed in his last state of the union address, didn't get either of those.

What will he say now? House Republicans may want to actually play ball on immigration, so how hard does he press them? And then, I guess, the tone of the speech. Is he going to be taking a tough stance against Republicans, trying to help Congressional Democrats as we move towards these midterm elections or is he going to be more accommodating, maybe looking to try to get things done in 2014 as he thinks about his legacy -- guys. BERMAN: He's called this a year of action. He wants this to be a year of action. He has said he has a pen and he is ready to sign executive orders, take executive action here. Paul, what kinds of things can he do without Congress, and how is this viewed by the general population as a whole?

STEINHAUSER: We've seen this from presidents in the past, even George W. Bush in the last two years he was in the White House. I guess, you call it small ball in a way. That's really what you can do with executive orders. What do Americans think? An ABC/"Washington Post" poll just out a couple of days ago. Take a look at this.

A slight majority said they support presidents using executive actions to basically bypass Congress. As you can imagine, guys, there was a big partisan divide there. Democrats said, yes, we support it. Republicans said no. Of course, they're outside of the White House right now.

BERMAN: You know, a lot of the things the president will push hard tonight, have that slim majority, but it just goes to show how divided this country is right now. Paul Steinhauser in Washington for us, thank you so much. Great to see you this morning.

And we should remind you, CNN is the very best place to watch the state of the union address. We'll have complete coverage and analysis right here starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern with the music. Wolf Blitzer will be dancing, too.

ROMANS: A warning for you this morning if you're a fan of Angry Birds. The NSA and its British counterpart are reportedly using the Android version of that app and others to gather information about your age, location, even sexual orientation. The details contained in documents from NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, given to "The New York Times," "The Guardian," and "Propublica."

The NSA insists it does not profile Americans but is focused instead on foreign threats. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has reached a deal with some of the nation's biggest tech firms to let them disclose just how often the government asks them for information about users, but the government can block that disclosure from becoming public for two years.

BERMAN: Some are rejoicing, others angry this morning now that the House and Senate have reached common ground over a new farm and food stamp bill. The plan would cut food stamps by about one percent, about $800 million, which is actually far less than many Republicans in the House wanted, but it's more than Democrats in the Senate say that they want.

It would also cut some direct payments to farmers, shifting that money to crop insurance programs instead.

ROMANS: European markets recovering from three days of sharp selling. Mining and bank stocks helping lift those markets higher. Asian markets stabilizing as well. That's a relief. It looks like the U.S. markets could have a mixed open here in New York trading. 9:30 eastern time is when the Dow opens. The futures indicate the Dow headed higher. NASDAQ opening lower, maybe?

Watching apple shares. We're going to get two readings on the state of the economy ahead of President Obama's state of the union message tonight, the latest reading on home prices and consumer confidence, too, out later this morning.

And federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, sits down for his final meeting as fed chairman at the treasury department today. Janet Yellen takes over the post February 1st. Probably have NASDAQ. I think NASDAQ'S probably indicated lower because big, big losses for Apple overnight on its disappointing earnings reports. So, we'll have all that for you in about ten more minutes. I'll give you a full rundown of what we're expecting today.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-one minutes after the hour right now. And breaking overnight, I think this is the news that we all saw first thing when we woke up. The world of music, really America as a whole, is mourning the death of a music legend, Pete Seeger. Pete Seeger was a singer, a songwriter. He's an activist. He spent seven decades performing protest rallies and special events, really helped bring folk music into the forefront in this country.

You can see him singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for President Obama's first inauguration. Some of his most famous songs that he wrote, "If I Had A Hammer," "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" Just a few of the many, many songs he leaves us. Pete Seeger was 94.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, convicted months ago of killing her boyfriend, but Jodi Arias is still costing the taxpayers millions. We'll explain right after the break.



ROMANS (voice-over): Welcome back. Forty-five minutes past the hour.

A North Carolina police officer facing manslaughter charges this morning now that a grand jury has indicted Randall Kerrick (ph) in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell (ph). Ferrell was apparently seeking help after a car crash when Kerrick fired 12 shots at the former college football player. It was the second grand jury to hear the case in under a week. The first declined to indict him.

BERMAN (voice-over): In just a few hours, a nun will learn whether she will spend what could be the rest of her life behind bars. Eighty-three-year-old Sister Megan Rice (ph) is one of three catholic peace activists convicted of sabotage after breaking into and vandalizing a Tennessee nuclear weapons plant last year. The activists call America's stockpile of nuclear weapons immoral and illegal. The government has recommended sentences of six to nine years.

ROMANS: Charges this morning for one of the biggest players in bitcoin. Charles Shrem's accused of money laundering. He founded a popular a website called Bit Instant where the virtual currency could be bought with U.S. dollars. Prosecutors say he schemed to sell bitcoins to users of a notorious and now defunct black market website called Silk Road that trafficked in illegal goods.

BERMAN: We're finding out more this morning about just how much the Jodi Arias legal defense will cost Arizona taxpayers, more than $2 million, and that's rising. And this doesn't even include the cost of prosecuting her for the murder of her former boyfriend. She was convicted last year, but jurors could not agree on a sentence, so a new penalty trial is scheduled for March 17th. Arias then could face the death penalty.


BERMAN (on-camera): Want to look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY" right now. Kate Bolduan joins us. Good morning, Kate.

ROMANS: Hi, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys! We're, of course, going to be previewing the president's state of the union address, big night tonight for him. Chris is live on Capitol Hill in Washington. He's going to be talking with White House senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and also Republican congressman. Both will have clearly different takes on what to expect from the president's speech and also what the fallout could be from his comments.

And then, we're going to take you live to the Midwest and the south where the story continues to be the weather. It's expected to get pounded by a monster winter storm. This could be the worst storm to hit parts of the Deep South in decades, if you can believe it. Schools are already closed. Thousands of flights are canceled. And we have everything that you need to know, albeit our helpful hint will be, our tip will be stay home and don't leave.

BERMAN: And turn on your TV and watch us. (INAUDIBLE) to go outside and find out for yourself.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: All right. Kate, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Coming up, we've got a heartbreaking story of survival for you by a Virginia state senator attacked by his own son, his own son who then killed himself. The good he hopes that can come from this tragedy, next.


ROMANS: This morning, Trey Radel is waking up just a citizen and not a congressman anymore. The Republican has resigned his South Florida seat just weeks after returning to work following a cocaine bust. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Radel wrote he cannot effectively serve his district, a change from his earlier promise that he would spend the next year trying to regain the trust of the voters. A special election is being planned to replace him. BERMAN: We're hearing this morning from a Virginia State senator attacked and nearly killed by his own son in his own home. Creigh Deeds is detailing what happened to him when his son, Gus, went after him with a knife last November, stabbing his father multiple times before turning a gun on himself. It is heartbreaking, folks.

And Deeds tells Anderson Cooper his son was mentally ill and needed help, but the system failed him. The night of the attack, he knew there would be a confrontation, but nothing like what happened.


CREIGH DEEDS, VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR: I turned around, I could see that he had something in his hand that was coming at me, but I didn't really -- you know, I had no idea what was coming. It was in his left hand, nothing coming -- I couldn't tell, you know, I thought it was a screwdriver. I had no idea what it was, and he just kept coming at me with stuff. And I said, "what's going on?"

And that's, you know, I said, "Gus, I love you so much. Don't make this any worse than it is." He just kept stabbing. And I think he either knew that I was disabled enough that I couldn't interfere with whatever else he wanted to do, he decided at some point, maybe after I said that I loved him, he decided that I didn't need to die after all.


BERMAN: I've got to say that's just heartbreaking. This was an unbelievable interview. Creigh Deeds is now pushing to change the rules in Virginia to help make it easier for those who need psychiatric help to get into a hospital.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, the shine is off the Apple this morning. Even though many of you are buying iPads and iPhones, some are saying it's time for a change. That story of "Money Time" next.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time" this Tuesday morning.

Stocks in Europe, I'm happy to report, rebounding. There were three pretty ugly days of selling there. It looks like to be a mixed opening for U.S. markets here. You've got the Dow. Dow futures right now up. NASDAQ down, in part, I think, because of Apple. So, we'll watch NASDAQ. Looks like that's going to be held back, but you could see a little bit of rebound here. It's earnings season. That's when companies release their quarterly report cards, you get to see, you know, look under the hood.

Ford, we'll hear from Ford later today, Pfizer as well. Apple sets an iPhone record, but selling 51 million iPhones still wasn't enough. Imagine, you sell a record number of your products and investors go, eh, they wanted more. And now, Apple's stock is reeling. It's down 6.5 percent in premarket trading.


ROMANS: You probably have this one in your 401(k) and you're probably getting hit on it. The world wants cheap phones. The world wants bigger screens. There's a lot of concern about what Apple can do next. Sales last quarter in key markets show Apple has a much smaller piece of the pie. That's the red there. Sales for Apple actually fell one percent year over year here in North America.

But in China, sales soared, up 29 percent long before Apple's long- awaited deal with China Mobile came true. We'll also be looking to see if this company's going to have a new product this year. This is what everyone -- iPad, 2010 was the last time they had a new product launch. Tim Cook, the CEO, says the next thing they launch is not something you will see. Maybe mobile wallet? Who knows? So, we'll see. It'll be this year, probably.

"Princeton Review" is out with the year's best college values. Topping the list for universities, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, New College of Florida in Sarasota, University of Virginia, North Carolina State University, and University of Michigan Ann Arbor. The best value public schools are all located in the south. The best value private schools are all in the northeast.

That list includes Williams College, Harvard, Swarthmore, Yale, and Princeton. Something interesting they found, too. If you are a great student, great grades, really well rounded, don't worry about paying for these schools, because there's a lot of financial aid for these schools if you are the top-performing student. Middle of the road student, that's where you get nailed.

BERMAN: At the top, a lot of these schools are in this applying (ph) and there is money there to help out.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. That's it for us. Thank you so much for joining us. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news, is the president going to raise the minimum wage himself without Congress? Breaking new details on what he plans to say in tonight's state of the union address. We're live in Washington.

BOLDUAN: State of emergency. The Deep South bracing for its worst winter storm in decades. Ice and snow set to cripple the region as the Midwest and east get slammed with more record lows.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Folk hero. Breaking overnight, the father of American folk music has passed away. We remember Pete Seeger, the man, the music, the mission.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It's Tuesday, January 28th, six o'clock in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo coming to you live from Capitol Hill. We're here at the belly of the beast, because tonight, the president's going to deliver his state of the union address.