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Cold Weather Hits Parts of U.S.; President Announces Themes for State of the Union Address; Interview with Congressman Steve King; Creigh Deeds Opens Up About Son

Aired January 28, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hear what else he says he'll do without Congress in his big speech tonight. The fallout has already begun. We're live in Washington.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Discovery of Biblical proportions. This tablet, the blueprint for Noah's ark, does this change everything we believe about the Biblical tale? The man who helped crack the code joins us live.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, January 28th, 7:00 in the east. I'm coming to you live from Capitol Hill, the belly of the beast. This is where President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight. We will have a preview for you of what's going on happen tonight. But let's head to Kate in New York for a look at the cold that is crushing us here, there, and everywhere.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So many are enduring it, the epic, unstoppable cold. Half of the U.S. dealing with the latest arctic blast leaving the Midwest are snow and subzero temperatures. Now it's also pushing south. Winter storm watches are stretching from the Gulf coast to the Virginias, the cold so dangerous that school systems from Texas to Florida are shut down today. Covering it all, of course, let's begin with Ted Rowlands in Minneapolis dealing with the bone- chilling, 40 below zero conditions overnight. I am so sorry, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Good morning, Kate. It is freezing. We're about 15 below zero right now. It is another excruciating day in what has been an absolutely brutal winter.


ROWLANDS: Millions waking up this morning to dangerous subzero temperatures in the double digits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really cold and getting colder.

ROWLANDS: This new blast of frigid arctic air bringing the coldest temps this winter and wreaking havoc yet again for air travelers, more than 2,000 flights canceled on Tuesday. From the Midwest to the southeast schools and government offices are closed again as bitter cold air plunges wind-chills to 40 below in some states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like winter has been forever, and I don't even know if we're in the middle of winter yet.

ROWLANDS: Chicago preparing for a historic deep freeze, subzero temps that will struggle to rise above zero for another day could have the windy city in the lowest stretch of cold since 1983, forcing schools across the state to closed for a second day, and commuter trains to slow down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just reduces the stress on the rails to operate a little bit slower. It's kind of a precaution.

ROWLANDS: The brutal cold near record breaking territory. Since October Iowa is experiencing the ninth coldest winter in over 100 years, cold creating a significant propane shortage across the Midwest.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R) WISCONSIN: We continue to have an exceptionally cold winter.

ROWLANDS: Wisconsin, the latest to declare an energy emergency as thousands fear not being able to heat their homes. Adding to the misery, blinding whiteout conditions in the northern plains. Wind gusts reaching up to 60 miles per hour blew cars right off the road. In central Minnesota, the howling wind caused massive snow drifts higher than this SUV.

The National Weather Service says much of the country will be shivering with temps up to 30 degrees below normal through Wednesday.


ROWLANDS: And 51 days, Kate, until spring. It seems like an awfully long time.

BOLDUAN: I am marking my calendar right now, Ted. I know you are as well. Thank you.

So probably the biggest concern in parts of the deep south, freezing rain and ice. A state of emergency already declared in Louisiana. Some school districts closing through Thursday in preparation of this. Meteorologist Chad Myers picks up the coverage from New Orleans this morning. Good morning, again, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. It sounds a little silly to say the school districts are closed. It's 32 degrees. But they are closed because they don't want children on buses on icy streets. This is going to get dangerous from Houston to Louisiana all the way to Georgia. The ice storm of 2014 is on its way. The cold air is getting here. It's still 40 right now, but it will be 30 later on today, and then it will rain.

Not only raining here -- Houston, Fort Myers, all the way back to the east coast, that's where the rain will be. But if you get just far enough north, it's going to be raining and 30 or 31. That's the icy event. And 2,600 flights already canceled. All the very large school districts already closed today because they don't want kids to be on buses with this kind of ice.

I'm standing on the trolley tracks here. This should be where the streetcar comes. They are canceled because they're afraid the power's going to go out and the streetcars will be stuck right where they are with no power. They're trying to run buses. They don't how long that's going to last because this place will be a skating rink in just a few hours. Please stay inside if you can. Don't try to travel. The airports are a mess.

BOLDUAN: So many folks hunkering down where you are, and beyond, Chad. Thank you so much for that. So tens of millions of people in the deep south dealing with the kind of bitter cold they rarely see. It's so rare it's being called a once in a generation storm. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is of course tracking it all. So what's it looking like right now, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Chad was just talking about all the ice and snow expected in New Orleans. But take a look, it's not just New Orleans. Look at the entire area of the gulf states here. We're going to be talking about the threat of ice and then eventually some snow. That threat spreads even further. We start seeing it coming in towards the Carolinas there. We're talking about half an inch of ice can be seen, and as much as five inches of snow into the south, hard to believe.

And it's not even the only story. Of course, the dangerous temperatures are still out there. This is the warmest it's expected to get today. The best it's going to be like today in Chicago is 12 below, these single digits even into the northeast. But the big question everyone has been asking, speaking of the northeast, what is expected this weekend? A little thing called the Super Bowl. You may have heard of it. It looks like for now looking at a storm system making its way in on Saturday. It is expected to clear out. This is very far in advance. But by Sunday it looks like cloudy conditions and temperatures barely above the freezing mark at 34 degrees. Let's hope it stays that way or maybe warms up a tad. It would feel a lot better, guys.

BOLDUAN: Warms up a tad would be a good idea.

PETERSONS: Or a lot more.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra. Let's get back to Chris in Washington where for once we're not talking about the weather there. We're talking about the big even tonight, Chris.

CUOMO: Absolutely. It is cold here, though, I will tell you that much. The question is how much of a chill will surround the president when he gives his big speech tonight. This very well could be a defining moment. The State of the Union could be the president's last best chance to do anything meaningful. Why? Because they're entering into the election cycle. Once that happens we know how the politicians freeze up.

So overnight CNN learned the president plans to announce a big move. He's going to raise the minimum wage himself, an executive order to raise the minimum to $10.10. Now comes the small print -- the wage will be raised in stages and only for new contract federal workers, and of course the president will need Congress to raise it for all workers, teeing up again the importance of tonight's state of the union address, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. That's the issue. It's expected to be a central theme.

Let's bring in senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar. We have heard the message from the president before in a State of the Union address, but this time is his last time to get it done.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is really pivotal today, Chris. It shows you sort of what he's facing as he's talking about going around Congress in some way tonight. You said it, this is increasing the minimum wage for federal contract employees, and only those new contracts. So it shows you the odds that he is facing as he addresses Americans and a divided Congress to want.


KEILAR: President Obama pushing forward in his bid to close the gap between rich and poor. He'll tell lawmakers tonight he's not waiting on them to raise the minimum wage at least for Americans working on government projects. His executive action will force any company signing a new contract with the feds to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour, almost $3 more than the current federal minimum wage. Janitors and construction workers all seeing a boost in pay according to the White House. It was just one vow from last year's State of the Union.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

KEILAR: That didn't get transaction in the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Remember that passionate call for a vote on new gun laws?

OBAMA: The families of Newtown deserve a vote.

KEILAR: It failed, and the push for an immigration overhaul.

OBAMA: Now's the time to do it.

KEILAR: Stalled on Capitol Hill. Now Obama wants action, and with the clock ticking on his second term, he's ready to tell Congress to get on board or step aside.

OBAMA: I'm also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.

KEILAR: Executive actions rallying businesses, colleges, and local leaders to the cause, and developing programs that don't require Congressional approval, all part of Obama's plan to bypass Congress. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's an American citizen. And it stands to reason that he might be frustrated with Congress since most American citizens are.


KEILAR: So what is not in the speech? That is also important as well. Not a whole lot of foreign policy, as we understand it, despite the fact that there is a civil war raging in Syria and an unraveling situation in Iraq. Chris, we do expect President Obama to address the situation in Iran with a message for Congress to not put new sanctions in place while this tentative nuclear deal takes hold. But really, he's going to be focusing on domestic policy and the economy tonight.

CUOMO: Brianna, we're looking forward to that. And of course the real story will be the outcome of this speech. Let's get some reaction here from Republican Representative from Iowa, Steve King. Representative, thanks for coming on NEW DAY.

REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: You are a little bit the face of the resistance going into tonight. When you hear that the president says, I couldn't get $9 done with your help. I'm going to go to $10, and I'm going to do it myself, and I hope that will incentivize you to come along with me and do the right thing for workers, does this provide incentive to you?

KING: It provides incentive to step up and defend the constitution. This is the president who is a former adjunct professor of teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He knows better, and he gave a speech to the high school here in Washington D.C. here a couple years ago that made it clear to them he knows better. He has limitations. His job is to keep his oath of office and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. It's Congress's job to pass the laws. He knows that, and we need to take our oath seriously and defend the constitution.

CUOMO: So are you saying that his using an executive order to extend the federal contract workers is an abuse of power?

KING: I think it's a constitutional violation. We have a minimum wage. Congress has set it. For the president to simply declare I'm going to change this law that Congress has passed is unconstitutional. He's outside the bounds of his article two limitations. He knows that it takes a couple years to get this thing to work and actually have any effect. This threat that the president's going to run the government with an ink pen and executive orders, we've never had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office.

CUOMO: Bill Clinton signed a lot more executive orders that President Obama has. If you want to stay with your line of reasoning, it could be a little bit of a dangerous game. How invested are you in this, representative, because if he really is abusing his constitutional powers, some would say that grounds for action against the president, maybe even an impeachable offense. KING: I've stayed away from that word although it does come to me in the streets of America consistently. I think instead this Congress should law out the violations that the president has had, and there are many. It goes through the immigration piece, No Child Left Behind, welfare to work. Obamacare itself is probably the clearest one. When the president extended the employer mandate for a year, it's clearly unconstitutional, because the law says the employer mandate shall commence in each month after December of 2013. And so we need to lay that all out. I think we need to bring a resolution to the floor and say so and restrain this president from his extra- constitutional behavior.

CUOMO: So to be very clear, you believe that the best way for you to do your job right now is to basically resist President Obama every way you can.

KING: When somebody asked me the other day, what do you agree with the president on, I just turned that back around and say, what does he agree with me on? I don't think he's very bipartisan. He's the most leftist president we've ever seen. And now he's waving his ink pen at us, saying Congress, you shall perform. But in fact when the president issued his order that extended the employer mandate, and Congress said we're going to pass legislation to conform to your unconstitutional activities, he said if it gets to my desk, I will veto it. He doesn't even want Congress to conform to his extra- constitutional activity.

CUOMO: On the minimum wage, though, you know a lot of members of your party are in favor of the minimum wage. There is something troubling about the fact that the minimum wage keeps someone below the poverty line. I'm sure you can recognize that.

KING: I've been there.

CUOMO: There's just something about it almost visceral, it's not even political, when our set minimum wage keeps someone below the line of poverty, you have a problem. Agreed?

KING: I would say this. It's a low percentage of people that work under minimum wage.

CUOMO: It's a growing number.

KING: But it's entry level. It teaches a work ethic.

CUOMO: That's the assumption that it's all young kids. It's only 20 percent teenagers these days, Congressman. You know this stuff. You know a lot of families are getting by, 46 percent of their family income, minimum wage income.

KING: Here's the other side of that equation, though, and that is wherever you raise the minimum wage, you necessarily cost jobs because some employers will decide I can't afford that any longer. You can't drive into a gas station any longer and get someone that will wash your windshield, check your oil, and fill your tank. The minimum wage is the government interfering between the relationship between the employer and the employee.

CUOMO: So you think there should be no minimum wage?

KING: I think we should have left the minimum wage alone and just let it drift away and let the economy grow the way it can.

CUOMO: Some people haven't gotten in real dollars, adjusted for inflation, a raise in 20 years. How can you believe that you're going to support the American dream when families are getting stifled that way?

KING: I have been an employee. I've worked at minimum wage. I've been an employer for 28 years. We've never paid minimum wage. You want to bid for the best employees that you can get, and you want to sustain them over a long period of time because you're invested in their skill levels.

And if you let people -- if you don't have that incentive for people to move up, when they go in and take a minimum wage job, they look out and think, "I need to make more money. I need to develop my skills. I'm going to have to either market those skills to some other employer, go back and get an education."

It's -- if you can legislate a minimum wage, and this Congress can decide what that number should be, then you could also, by the same logic, legislate a living wage. And if you can legislate a living wage, you could also legislate prosperity.

Some place up that scale, people drop off. They drop off all the way up that scale. I'd rather have more Americans working, not less. There are 100 million Americans today of working age who are simply not in the work force. We need to get them working. Raising the minimum wage goes backwards on us on that task.

CUOMO: But you are aware, going into tonight's speech, that at least half of your party and certainly a majority of the American people believe that extending unemployment benefits, dealing with the minimum wage are important to them. You do know that, right?

KING: What I know is, the president will give a speech that's designed to divide Republicans against each other and unify Democrats against Republicans. That he will do. He (inaudible) signal from Hawaii when he was on his Christmas vacation, chastise Congress for leaving town to go see our families over Christmas.

And then he gave the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits and comprehensive immigration reform speech, all of that. Those are the three items that I can think of that unify Democrats and divide Republicans. It is clear political strategy that the president has chosen these items to drive for the 2014 legislative agenda.

CUOMO: At the end of the day, it's got to be about compromise, though, doesn't it, Representative? I mean, that's what the dome represents. You're all there in it together. You've got to find a way to make it work. KING: Well, I'd say to the president, "Come our way. Show us what you're willing to do. Come across the aisle." And listen carefully. Because the president is going to have to draw a fine line here. He's going to want to spend some time beating up on Republicans, being critical of Republicans, and at the same time, he needs Republican cooperation. Because the House is the blocking agent for the president's agenda.

CUOMO: That's certainly been the case. And we know that you have your reservations. Hopefully, you can find a way forward because Americans need it.

Representative King, appreciate you taking the opportunity as always.

KING: Thanks for having me on this morning, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

So you can see that CNN's very serious about our coverage, of course. We are because it's a very important moment for you, and we're going to cover the "State of the Union" like nobody else. Our special coverage of the "State of the Union" address will start tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Let's get back to New York and Michaela. Mick.

PEREIRA: All right, thanks so much, Chris.

Let's take a look at your headlines at this hour.

The NSA and its British counterpart are reportedly using Angry Birds, and other so-called "leaky apps" to gather personal information. These revelations, provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden to the "The New York Times," "The Guardian," and "ProPublica". Also on the surveillance font, tech companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo are now able to disclose how many snooping requests they receive from the federal government.

Hillary Clinton says the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi is the single biggest regret she has from her four-year stint as secretary of state. In a speech in New Orleans, former first lady said choices were made based on imperfect information, calling the death of four Americans a terrible tragedy. Clinton is writing a memoir about her time as America's top diplomat. It is due out this summer.

The search continues for criminals caught on tape driving a stolen car into a Georgia gun store and making off with about $40,000 in firearms. The store owner says the thieves left some guns in the car. And authorities are looking at those for fingerprints and DNA. It is believed the guns may be headed for a black market in the states with tougher gun laws like Maryland, New York, even Connecticut.

Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer and activist who used his music for change has died.


PETE SEEGER, MUSICIAN (singing): Where have all the flowers gone?

PEREIRA (voice-over): Songs like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "This Land is Your Land," and "If I Had a Hammer" were certainly anthems for a generation of Americans. Seeger was blacklisted back in the 1950s but never stopped singing nor encouraging people to find their voice, both musically and politically, right to the end.


(on-camera): Pete Seeger was 94 years old.

And prepare to have your breath taken away. Take a look at these dazzling images of northern lights. The Aurora Borealis photos were snapped over the weekend by a ranger in Alaska's Denali National Park. The sky filled with brilliant green and bands of red, really a light show from mother nature. It lasted barely an hour, ended just before midnight on Saturday. A real treat if you're ever able to catch those in person. And it's hard to photograph too, so whoever was taking those pictures knew what they were doing.

BOLDUAN: Never seen it --

PEREIRA: Gorgeous.

BOLDUAN: That's wonderful.

We're going to take a break. But coming up next on NEW DAY, an emotional sit-down. Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, he talks about the heart-wrenching moments his son attacked him and then took his own life and the mental illness that was behind it all. The interview you would have to hear coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's still difficult, understandably so, for Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds to come to grips with the fact that his son, Gus, is gone. The young man took his own life two months ago after attacking his father with a knife. Incredibly, Creigh Deeds survives. Now, the law maker says the system failed Gus, his son.

CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with Deeds reliving the moments he lost his son and what he wants to do about it.


SEN. CREIGH DEEDS, (D)-VA: I turned my back, and I took it twice in the back.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: He stabbed you twice in the back?

DEEDS: Yeah, yeah.

COOPER: Did you know instantly what was happening? DEEDS: No, I had no idea. No idea. I mean, you know, when I turned around I could see that he had something in his hand that was coming at me, but I didn't really -- I had no idea what was coming at me. It was in his left hand. 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, when I -- I said, "Gus, I love you so much. Don't make this any worse than it is." He just kept stabbing.

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, that I didn't need to die after all. Or he thought from the amount of blood that he'd already done some damage.

And the first blow to my back was pretty, you know, close to a spot where he could have drawn a lot of blood. And the second one punctured a lung. You know, so I like to think at some point in that attack, the old Gus came back. I like to -- I like to think that.

COOPER: Because he certainly wasn't himself when he started.

DEEDS: No, he wasn't himself.

COOPER: That's not your son.

DEEDS: No. I mean, whatever took my son -- well, you know, the bipolar disorder, the schizophrenia, whatever mental illness there was, took my son and worsened in the last few months.

Because he wasn't on medication. He wasn't keeping appointments. And there was very little I could do to turn that around. And I'd done everything I could the day before. I'd taken him to the -- it's not like, you know, he's my son, so I can automatically enroll him in a hospital somewhere. He's an adult. Everything I'd done the day before, we -- we tried -- we'd been rejected. My son was allowed to suffer. And --

COOPER: And he was suffering for a long time.

DEEDS: He was suffering for a long, long time. I mean, that -- at least he's at peace now, but it's a price to pay.

COOPER: So, you know, I think -- I always feel like if somebody has cancer, somebody who's suffering from, you know, leukemia --

DEEDS: That's it. I mean --

COOPER: People need help.

DEEDS: There's real disparity in this country between mental illness and what we consider as physical illness. And physical illness, we treat. Mental illness, we hide behind -- we sweep it under the rug.

COOPER: There's still such a stigma about it. People --

DEEDS: They don't talk about it. They're embarrassed about it. People that are mentally ill, they don't want to be considered ill people. They have mental illness in their family oftentimes, want to look the other way and pretend it will go away.

People -- a lot of people in my own situation would say, "Well, Gus will grow out of it. He'll work -- it'll work out just fine. Gus will be all right" because he had so much ability. But, you know, the problem is, he needed treatment. He needed medication.

COOPER: It's also in society, it seems like, seen as -- as like a defect as opposed to something that has taken your son. I mean, it's not -- people don't view cancer as, "Oh, that person is guilty or they've something wrong or they're weak." Whereas mental illness, there's still that belief.

DEEDS: It -- it -- yeah. There is. And that -- that's too bad.

COOPER: You know, one of the things that I think that's so horrible about suicide is that, at least for me, I often get stuck thinking about how, in my case, my brother ended his life as opposed to how he lived his life. And I'm wondering if you -- do you think about that?

DEEDS: You know, I do. And you know, people have been so kind to me. They reach out. And, you know, they don't understand sometimes that I got to be left alone, focus on the good things.

You know, but these pictures and the Facebook page set up for Gus, there's so many good pictures. There's on so many good memories. And that's what I have to focus on.

You know, I'm determined that Gus not be remembered just for his illness or what ended his life. That's nothing. He was such a good boy, a good man. He had a good heart. He loved people.

Gus -- I ran for state office twice and neither time I won, but Gus was kind of a constant on both those campaigns. He nicknamed all the kids that worked for me. He loved those kids. They loved him. He'd entertain them with the banjo or the harmonica. He's just so full of love. And I'm determined that he not be remembered by the end of his life.


BOLDUAN: So painful so watch.

PEREIRA: Anguish in his voice.

BOLDUAN: And you wonder -- it makes you wonder why speak out when you know it is so painful. And he said, like he said right there over and over again, he does not want his son remembered for how he died. And he's now fighting to fix a system that failed his son, failed his family.

PEREIRA: There's a lot of families that are suffering under the same issue.

BOLDUAN: Just like that.

PEREIRA: And it's so hard to separate the illness from the child or the person you love. You can feel his grief. And we're so proud of him for taking that moment to talk with Anderson, who clearly could relate to him about his own loss.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and we all should be able to.

We're going to send it back to Chris in Washington with much more coverage. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Coming up here on NEW DAY, the president is dropping the hammer on the minimum wage, passing an increase himself through executive order. What other surprises are in store? We'll tell you.