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Olympic Terror Threat; Joe Biden Talks Government and Elections; School In Session Despite Smell; New Homeland Security Chief Speaks

Aired February 7, 2014 - 08:00   ET




SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: People going to the Olympics should be careful. They should watch their backs.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Let the games begin. The Olympic opening ceremony now just hours away, Sochi making last minute preparations as American authorities place new security restrictions on flyers going into Russia. What we know now about threat.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: NEW DAY exclusive. Will Joe run? Vice President Joe Biden, one on one, his strongest answer yet on whether he'll go for it in 2016. And does he think immigration reform can be saved?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The long good-bye. Jay Leno's raw and tearful good-bye from "The Tonight Show", surrounded by a host of stars. Music, laughter and so much more. Two of his long time colleagues join us live.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

It's 8:00 in the East.

The Sochi Winter Games are about to get under way officially, just as new terror threats emerge. We're now three hours from the start of opening ceremonies. The lavish start kicks off the most expensive and the most frightening Olympic Games in history. The latest concern: toothpaste terror. The TSA now banning liquids, gels and aerosol cans on carry-on luggage on all flights between the U.S. and Russia.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Sochi right now following all the latest developments.

Nick, I know you've been talking about how tickets are still for sale for the opening ceremonies. Are you seeing a lot of people walking around due to all the concerns?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's not a lot of bustle. We went down the venues a few hours ago. Not that many people, particularly, a lack of international fans.

I talked to one American tour operator who says that at the moment, I've got more family members of athletes coming with me than I do fans at all. In fact, five times as many, quite the wrong proportion. He also said he had 1,000 tickets allocated for American fans that simply weren't being bought, $200,000 worth, in fact.

As he just said, it recently is still possible to buy those opening ceremony tickets, 1,500 bucks a piece, though, just three hours before the games. Quite possibly, this isn't the full picture, of course, because we don't know what the final numbers. And the U.S. embassy says potentially 10,000 but still those security warnings could be having an impact on American attendance here.


WALSH (voice-over): The competition in Sochi already under way, snowboard slope-style qualifying runs, and team figure skating making their debut on Thursday, ahead of tonight's highly-anticipated opening ceremony.

While the eyes of the world will be on the games, terrorism fears have made many here on edge.

On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration announced it is banning all liquids, gels, aerosols and powders on carry-on luggage on flights between the United States and Russia. These restrictions follow a warning from the Department of Homeland Security earlier this week, that terrorists could be targeting the Olympic Games, with explosive components hidden in toothpaste tubes, explosive materials small enough to conceal but powerful enough to blow a car door off like this.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It was a legitimate source that gave the information. That doesn't mean it will happen. Something to be taken very seriously by our country, by the Russians and by a number of other countries who are also involved in this.

WALSH: President Obama reiterating Thursday night that the U.S. is in constant contact with Russian security forces.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues and have put a lot of resources into it.

WALSH: Russian officials say they have 37,000 police and security officers on the street in and around the Sochi venues.

FEINSTEIN: I think people going to the Olympics should be careful. I think they should watch their backs. I think they should stay out of crowds if they can.

WALSH: U.S. Olympic athletes say they aren't letting the terror threats overshadow their dreams for a medal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our job here is to focus on what we can control and what we can do, and that's how we're going to perform at our first Olympic.


WALSH: Now putting all that security worry aside, we are just over three hours away from the opening ceremony which half the world's population will be watching. One interesting fact there's been a lot of criticism of Russia for its anti-gay stance, homophobia over the past few years.

But we are going to see in that opening ceremony a group called Tattoo who sprung to prominence here and globally through a music video in which it was a pretty pronounced lesbian kiss. So, perhaps that's the Kremlin, or the organizers way of trying to be gay friendly despite all that criticism. We'll see how that turns out.

PEREIRA: Yes, we will. We'll certainly be watching and keep our eyes peeled for that.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for that.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines now.

Stiff fines were reportedly imposed against dozens of foreign companies and individuals for allegedly evading U.S. sanctions on Iran. The report on "The New York Times" says it's the most extensive enforcement since an interim agreement with Iran took effect last month, aimed at dismantling Tehran's nuclear program. Those penalties are to include restrictions on doing business in the U.S. and seizure of property on American soil.

New developments in the search for that missing police reserve, Captain Kevin Quick. Searchers in Virginia say they discovered a body but it is important to note the investigation is ongoing. Those remains have not yet been identified. Quick was last seen a week ago.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power in Pennsylvania. That is nearly three days after a massive snow and ice storm. The White House declaring a state of disaster in five Pennsylvania counties. Utility crews are busy scrambling to restore service.

They say most customers should be back online by tonight but a few unlucky few could be without power or heat into the weekend. Hopefully, they have good relationships with their neighbors. "Star Trek" legend Leonard Nimoy announced he's been diagnosed with a lung disease. The 82-year-old Nimoy revealed that he is suffering from chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease, after pictures of him in a wheel chair with an oxygen mask circulated on the Internet. Nimoy tweeted, quote, "I quit smoking 30 years ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says quit now."

Officials in Hawaii claim this is a sign of trouble. Yes. That's a crosswalk at main intersections, two of them and have been painted over to say aloha. Now, look, it may not seem like a big deal.

Local officials insist, though, it is an act of vandalism. They believe it could potentially put pedestrians at risk. What are your thoughts?

Go to NEW DAY on Twitter. Tell us what you think. Is it a sign of aloha in the Aloha State or is it danger lurking beneath your feet?


CUOMO: I'm having punched to my head it cost as couple thousand dollars to fix.

PEREIRA: Well, we didn't talk about that. We're just talking about danger and no danger.


CUOMO: I don't think it's a danger.

BOLDUAN: Switzerland on this one.

PEREIRA: What about Switzerland?


PEREIRA: Somebody ask you.


BOLDUAN: Now to a NEW DAY exclusive. Will he or won't he run for president in 2016? In our one on one interview, Vice President Joe Biden goes, I would say the furthest he's gone yet in talking about his decision. The wide ranging conversation took place on board one of Amtrak's newly minted electric locomotives that Biden sees as an engine to help drive the economy and create jobs.

Listen to it.


BOLDUAN: Vice President Biden, thank you so much for taking the time.


BOLDUAN: In a train nonetheless.

BIDEN: Spent half my life in one of these cars.

BOLDUAN: It's like your home.

BIDEN: Like my home. That's right, 8,000 round trips.

BOLDUAN: God, who knew.

BIDEN: It adds up.

BOLDUAN: It sure does.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk about the task force. The president has tasked you --


BOLDUAN: -- to lead the task force to review the federal jobs training programs. Now, you know Americans are rightly skeptical of hearing about another task force coming out of Washington. You led task forces in the past where there really having been no major changes that have come from it. How will this task force -- how will this one be different?

BIDEN: Well, some of the stuff we did, major change came out of the Recovery Act and a whole range of other things. But here's the deal -- there's much more than a task force. It's about how do we create wider avenues to the middle class.

The income inequity is profound. The middle class are shrinking. And it started off with a couple of things -- there are right now 100,000 high tech manufacturing jobs in America, that are going unfilled for lack of skills.

There's another group of people or long are term unemployed who are qualified but we can't get them hired, we're working with major corporations saying change your HR policies, instead of just taking anybody who has been out for six months and throw them aside agree you'll hire a certain percentage of the long term unemployed. So, that's what we're working on. What's the best way to get most people to work in good jobs you can raise a middle class family.

BOLDUAN: Another thing that would have a big impact potentially on the economy is immigration reform.

BIDEN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: I you know have been very optimistic saying you think immigration reform can to be done and they can be done this year.

Speaker Boehner is just now saying that he thinks any action on immigration reform is unlikely this year. Saying why he says? Because House Republicans don't trust the president. He even said they don't trust the president to enforce our laws.

So, is this over?

BIDEN: No. Look, the thing we have going for us is the vast majority of the American people support reform, vast majority of Republicans support immigration reform. And if you allowed a vote tomorrow on the Senate bill that passed a significant portion of Republicans and all of Democrats would vote for it.

He's getting understandably, not a criticism, a great deal of pressure from the right that wants no part of this. I think he'll work his way through this. I still think we can get this done. It doesn't take much time.

BOLDUAN: If it doesn't take much time and if it does come your way you could be looking at a bill that allows for legal status but doesn't offer a pathway to citizenship. The president did not say definitively one way or another in an interview with CNN. Would you support a bill that falls short of a pathway to citizenship, if it came your way?

BIDEN: That is clearly not our preference. Any bill that passes out of the House has to go through a conference committee with the Senate, which passed overwhelmingly a pathway to citizenship. Dual status in America, legal but not citizens is a bad idea.

BOLDUAN: Is there a principle you need to stand for one way or the other? I know you don't like to judge legislation before you guys, of course, but --

BIDEN: Let's be straight what the president said. You see the way the hard right responds to anything the president says. So, the president is being very smart. He's saying, what passed we support, see what you guys pass and then we'll respond -- because what you don't want to do is create more problems for John Boehner in being able to bring this up.

BOLDUAN: It's going to change the dynamic, though. That was last year. This year is all the same.

BIDEN: There's an election. The overwhelming majority of the American people -- overwhelming majority Republicans, overwhelming majority of the American business community saying this is essential to get done.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about the election. This is important. You served 36 years in the Senate.

BIDEN: I did.

BOLDUAN: What do you say to your fellow senate Democrats who made it pretty clear they don't want the president anywhere near their state this election cycle, and he jokingly kind of said, OK, I'll stay out of it.

But what do you say to them?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, that's not universally true. In the states, we lost -- in the states where we lost the presidential race, that may be the case. I know I've been invited to go into well over 128 races so far.

And so, there's some places the president is considerably more popular than I am but there's some places where I can go in and the president can't. There's some places where it makes no sense for me to go in and the president to go in.

So, look, the reason why, Kate, I'm truly optimistic about this year's races no matter what the polls say, one thing they say, on every major issue, the public agrees between 51 percent and 70 percent with the position of the president of the United States and Democratic Party. You give me a chance to have all the issues my way, or have popularity at the moment I'll take the issues. That's what's going to win.

BOLDUAN: It's very likely still a divided Congress. But --

BIDEN: No, no, I'm not suggesting you won't have a divided Congress. But in terms of the prospects of Democrats running for Congress, incumbents in the Senate, I think we are the best shape we can be because the American public agrees with us on the issues.

BOLDUAN: Can I ask you one final question about Corvettes?

BIDEN: Sure you can. Now you hit my sweet spot.

BOLDUAN: I know it's sweet spot. What can I say?

You had a lot of fun earlier this week speaking to the UAW.

BIDEN: I did.

BOLDUAN: Talking about Corvette, talking about going zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds.


BIDEN: There's a lot of reasons to run for president. But there's one overwhelming reason not to run for president. I like to get that Z06 from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds.


BIDEN: That's right, man.

BOLDUAN: That was the one reason you said you would not run for president. Other than Corvettes, give me another good reason why you shouldn't run.

BIDEN: I can't.


BIDEN: There may be reasons I don't run but there's no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.

BOLDUAN: Do you have a timetable?

BIDEN: Probably the realistically a year this summer.

BOLDUAN: Is Dr. Biden onboard?

BIDEN: When I ran the first time, Jill didn't want to run again. Second time, she came to me and said, you got to run. The reason she wanted me to run? Because she was convinced if I ran, we'd end the war in Iran and have a sounders foreign policy. And she was convinced that if I ran, I would work like hell to make sure the middle class got a fighting chance.

For me, the decision to run or not run is going to be determined by me as to whatever am I the best qualified person to focus on the two things I've spent my whole life on -- give ordinary people a fighting chance to make it and a sound foreign policy that's based on national interest of the United States, where we not only are known for the power of our military, but the power of our example.

I think the future for this country, I know, people think I'm too optimistic, but it is incredible -- so much just within our grasp. It doesn't mean I'm the only guy that can do it, but if no one else I think can and I think I can, then I will. If I don't I won't.

BOLDUAN: Sound like a man you are seriously considering it. Thank you so much, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: Thank you. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Sounds like a man who is ready to fight for it, too. You got the sense when I'm standing there, he's like leaning in. He's still very passionate about it, and he is looking. He wants a fighting chance. Today, I would say he wants to be president.


CUOMO: Well, he should. You got it out of him.


CUOMO: If I were you, you got the long and strong on that statement. I thought it was so interesting what he didn't say, not a single mention of Hillary Clinton.


CUOMO: Which would have made a lot of sense for him to say. And, I know, I'm probably going out there too much with this, but the car thing, I know he likes cars. But, Hillary Clinton, haven't driven since 1990 whatever, she says, right? He says, I'm a regular guy and I love these things. We want to elect the best of u, but we want the us part too that relatability. Just wondering.

BOLDUAN: That is part of Joe Biden's shtick, not in a bad way. That is part of his charm. And I also thought it was very interesting his conversation about immigration making it very clear that neither he nor the president are going to get out there while they would prefer a pathway to citizenship. They're not going to say one way definitively because they're going to have to deal with whatever comes -- they do want to get them.

CUOMO: We got out there, though. And you see how he slept on KB's hand shake. He thought he was just --

PEREIRA: I know.

CUOMO: She was like what? you see how like -- yes -- like a crab claw. I respected that.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the smell of licorice. Oh, that's really good when it's coming from candy, but it's really bad when it's coming from your tap water. The problems in West Virginia don't seem over. Kids, are they being forced to return to school even though there's still health concern about the water. What is going on? We'll tell you.


CUOMO: Welcome back. There is a problem in West Virginia, say parents, and it isn't going away. Fears of poisoned water from a chemical spill live on after schools decided to not cancel class despite a bad smell coming from the water. Students were let out early the last few days because of the foul odor, but officials decided to bring the students back again today despite the odor. They say the air and water are safe.

Parents say they're not sure since traces of the chemical remain. Alexandra Field is here with more. What's the situation?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, concerns about this licorice smell in the water concern arose again when school districts tried to flush out their water systems to get rid of some water discoloration following a water main break, but the return of the smell is deeply disturbing some people in the community that is already on edge about the safety of their water supply following a chemical spill just last month.


FIELD (voice-over): Today, Charleston, West Virginia is back on heightened alert after another water scare caused five local schools to cancel classes Thursday. The National Guard now testing water samples from the schools after students and faculty complained of an overpowering licorice smell.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Smell like a blueberry, rotten berries, rotten apples.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could smell it when I went in. So, I am happy that they're sending the kids home.

FIELD: The lingering odor wafting through schools nearly a month after a chemical spill here at Freedom Industries storage facility. The chemical used to clean coal, MCHM, leaking into the Elk River, tainting the city's water supply to more than a quarter million people. The FBI continuing their criminal probe at the site of the spill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water situation is awful. Somebody has got to do something.

FIELD: The odor so strong a student and teacher went to the hospital. One complaining of burning eyes, the other fainting from the smell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't create this problem. We're only responding to when the issues arise. But the safety of our children always come first.

FIELD: Three weeks ago, CNN conducted an independent tap water test in Charleston for HDHM. The results showed the remaining trace levels of the chemical to be well below what the CDC deems to be a safe level. The local water company test showing non-detectable levels. Their spokeswoman adding, quote, "an odor by no means represents a health risk." Still, the level of concern remains high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know what's going to happen, what's going on with the water, how it's going to affect us.


FIELD (on-camera): Some parents are so concerned about the return of this, Chris, Kate. They're actually talking about, you know, whether they should take their kids out of the schools, whether they should leave Charleston all together. Superintendent of the school district says that they respect the fact that parents have some fears.

They say that they're calling on a response team that would be available to address some of these concerns as they continue to arise. We'll have to wait and see really, though, if that's enough to satisfy these parents.

BOLDUAN: I mean, you can understand these parents don't know who to trust at this point. They've had so many problems with their water in the last month. Now, something else.

FIELD: They're being told by the water company that the levels in the water are safe, that it's able to be used. But even when we were down there a month ago, people were saying, you know, we're going wait. We're not necessarily going to just turn on the taps because someone tells us that we can -- use bottled water. You know, it's a personal decision for people to sort of feel out what they trust at this point.

CUOMO: And what they say is safe now, if you can smell something, you know there's something there. And are you only going to learn later, also known as too late that there could have been a health impact from this. It needs attention. They have to do better than this. FIELD: Again, the water being tested. They are saying that it's safe. But yes, you raise a good point that that's what people are really thinking about down there.

BOLDUAN: OK. Thank you so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the January jobs report due out in just a few minutes. Will we see a rebound from December? Our experts are standing by to break down the numbers for us.

CUOMO: And, we're going to take a nice long look at Jay Leno's emotional goodbye from "The Tonight Show." Here's a taste.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I don't like good- byes. NBC does. I don't care. I don't care.



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. A Friday edition.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Less than three hours to the Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi. New terror threats prompting the TSA to ban liquids and gels in carry-on bags on flights between Russia and the U.S.

A private funeral service will be held today for, actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Some of Hollywood's finest attended his wake in New York City, including actresses, Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, and Michelle Williams.

The retired police captain charged with gunning down a fellow movie theater patron back in court today. A judge will rule on whether 71- year-old Curtis Reeves will be allowed to post bail.

Today, the first major address by the nation's new homeland security secretary, Jay Johnson, the first African-American to hold the post. He's expected to outline his 2014 priorities.

And at numero cinco, dogs will be showing their chops in this weekend's agility course at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Mixed breed dogs had been banned more than a century ago because there was equal standard by which to judge them. So, mutts are welcome.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We're always updating the five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest -- guys.

CUOMO: All right. Mich, we are awaiting the first jobs report of 2014. We have Christine Romans standing by waiting for the numbers. We also want to bring in John Challenger, the CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas Incorporated. Great name. A workplace consulting firm.

John, as we await the numbers, let me ask you a question. When we look at the situation right now, one in six men that you could say are in the prime of their lives are not involved in the workplace right now. How do we explain it? How do we fix it?

JOHN CHALLENGER, CEO, CHALLENGER, GRAY & CHRISTMAS INC.: Well, two- thirds of those, you know, are not counted as unemployed because they stopped looking and then another 40 percent of the ones who are unemployed have been out of work for more than six months. And so, what happens is, the longer you're out of work when you are looking, the tougher it is.

Now, you might look at these numbers also and say this is a good sign that there are more women who are the primary wage earners. This story might have been written the other way around that more men in their, you know, prime working age from what it used to be thought of are now the person taking care of the children at home. So, this number has been dropping, not just in the last year, but over the last two decades.

CUOMO: Well, that's interesting, Christine. What's your take on that? Because I don't -- I take john's point. He understands the issue better than I, obviously. But I see it the other way which is this is a sign of weakness in the economy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a sign that there are some of those people would like to be working and are not. There needs to be more jobs.