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Snowstorm Delays Valentine's Day Deliveries; Massive Crash Shuts Pennsylvania Turnpike; Jury Resumes Talks in "Loud Music" Trial; Obama Speaks at House DEMs Conference

Aired February 14, 2014 - 10:30   ET



DAVID SHOVER, KARIN'S FLORIST, VIENNA, VIRGINIA: This is actually the Super Bowl for florists. So with the weather it just adds another -- another element that we have to deal with.

CARLOS FALCON, FLOWER TRUCK DRIVER: In Virginia, we had a delivery where the snow had covered all the area and we couldn't identify the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asking them to kind of cooperate with us. We don't have any control over the weather.


COSTELLO: One florist tells "The Washington Post" that because of delayed delivery, some people may not get their flowers until Sunday. So he's calling it Valentine's Day weekend. That's the spirit.

I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: All right back to the breaking news on the Pennsylvania turnpike where dozens and dozens of cars are involved in at least two massive pile ups. This is Bucks County, Pennsylvania, this is kind of where this is but this goes on for miles and miles.

CNN's Margaret Conley is on the phone she is stuck in the middle of this. Tell us more Margaret.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, chaotic is how the State Trooper that we talked to here described the scene. We are on the Pennsylvania turnpike headed east towards New Jersey. There are three accident areas. We are now by exit 343. The accident area here is near exit 350 from the state trooper he says there are at least 12-20 vehicles involved. There are no fatalities at this time but there are many injuries in that first accident area.

The second area is westbound between exit 351 and 343. Two to three cars involved there. There are injuries but they are not life threatening at this time. As far as we know the third area is about 10-15 miles behind us. And there was a Med-evac helicopter that pulled out one person. There is that one injury is not life threatening.

Where we are we understand we're going to be sitting here for about three to four hours. And we have been here for one hour at least already. We've seen ambulances heading in the opposite direction and ahead of us there are official cars that have tried to squeeze by.

Right now we're watching a couple cars actually pull out in the opposite direction on the highway where we are. And cars behind us are actually trying to turn around to get out of this area -- Carol.

COSTELLO: It surprised me when we talked last that you say the police are saying this was not because of slippery roads. I just talked to someone from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. He said, basically, the accidents were caused when three or four tractor trailers jackknifed suddenly. He said it was just irresponsible drivers driving too fast.

CONLEY: Yes. That's right you know we've seen so much weather here over the last couple of days causing all these power outages in some of the hardest hit areas in the country. The sun is out today. A lot of the ice has melted down. We did see some ice on the roads early this morning.

But around 8:00 is when this accident occurred. And the State Trooper is saying, no, this is not weather related. He says, like you were saying, that people are just driving irresponsibly. They are traveling too fast or they are following too close.

COSTELLO: All right so I guess the warning should go out avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike at least for the next several hours.


COSTELLO: Margaret Conley thanks so much.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: In Jacksonville, Florida, there is a trial going on. As you know Michael Dunn is on trial for killing a teenager, he says in self-defense. The jury has been deliberating his case for a few days now. They've asked the judge to see key pieces of evidence. The judge has refused the request in at least one respect but he's granted other requests.

Ashleigh Banfield has also been following this trial. Let's head to New York and check in with her. Good morning Ashleigh.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Carol. We are over 13 hours of deliberations. And look a lot of people will say, don't read into the tea leaves, don't say hung jury. It is only 13 hours. I would tend to agree a lot of times in a lot of cases. But this case had only a week of testimony we are not talking about the five-month Phil Specter first degree murder trial. Anyway we're talking about a case that had very few days in the evidentiary case of this case. And so I'm actually quite surprised they are deliberating this long. That said, it's Friday. And Friday is often verdict's day and if it's not verdict's day, Fridays can be hung jury day.

So I think that we probably will get some kind of movement of some sort. This is a sequestered jury they don't want to be there any longer than they have to but they also work Saturday. So maybe it's the -- it's the Friday before the Saturday.

But one thing I do find really interesting is that they have a lot of material to go over from the judge, 40 pages of verdict form and then, of course, the jury instructions were I think up in the dozens and dozens of somewhere around 80 pages if I remember correctly.

And then they have made some requests of this court as well. One in particular that was denied it was a very visual request. We want the dummy. In fact the way they worded it, we want the dummy with the sticks. The dummy with the sticks if of course the mannequin with the doweling but they weren't allowed to get it because as you can see the defense attorney showing them what the M.E. had to say. That's what you call a demonstrative piece of evidence. It's not actually entered into evidence.

Juries are only allowed to take actual entries -- real evidentiary entries back with them. So funny enough they actually disputed this for a while. The judge came up on the bench and said you we've got some case law? It's like a precedent on this and it's just up to you all if you both agree and they didn't both agree. So that doweling and dummies didn't go back into the -- into the jury room.

But this many hours, I don't think this bodes well in terms of the trial itself. I think this could be possibly a hung jury. Certainly, there is a lot of discussion going on.

We'll see.

COSTELLO: Ashleigh Banfield, many thanks.

We'll be right back.



COSTELLO: All right President Obama is speaking right now at a conference for House Democrats in Maryland. You are looking at live pictures of the President. Now remember some Democrats are up for re- election. And they have been wary about being tied to the President, especially those from areas where the president's healthcare law is highly unpopular.

Let's listen to the president's remarks.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Debbie Wasserman Schultz is putting in more miles than just about anybody I know. And all of you it is great to see you.

We just saw each other at the White House fairly recently. So I'm not going to give a long speech here. I want to spend most of my time answering some more questions. But let me just make a couple of observations since we saw each other.

First of all, I stated in our State of the Union that the single most important thing we have to do, not just as a party but as a country, is to make sure there is opportunity for every single person, that we are focused every single day in this town or in Washington on making sure if you are willing to work hard and take responsibility, that you can get ahead. It doesn't matter where you live, what circumstances you were born into, what you look like, who you love, you should be able to make it here in America.

As I said at the State of the Union, I want to work with Congress to make that happen. I am not going to wait, because there is too much to do. And America does not believe in standing still. America insists on going forward.

We laid out some very specific ways that we can move the country forward, breaking them down into a few categories. Number one: creating more good jobs that pay good wages. Number two: making sure that folks are trained to fill those good jobs. Number three: making sure our kids have the best education in the world. And number four: making sure that hard work pays off. That people aren't poor if they are working full-time. That they have some semblance of retirement security and they can count on health care if heaven forbid, something happens to them.

And already, just in the last couple of weeks, we have put forward a range of executive actions that are going to make a difference. So yesterday, for example, I had a chance to be with a group of minimum wage workers for federal contractors. These are folks who are washing dishes or cleaning clothes on our military bases and facilities.

And sometimes the debates on Capitol Hill get so abstract and to be next to folks, average age, by the way, 35. These aren't teenagers -- these are folks who are looking after families and trying to raise kids, and to see what it would mean to them for us to have a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour and how much relief that would give them. And how committed they were to the American dream and getting ahead and just hoping somebody was standing up for them.

It reminded me of why I'm a Democrat. And it reminded me of why I'm so proud of this caucus, because you are standing up on behalf of them. So we signed the executive order. These folks are going to get a raise. What I said yesterday is that now it's time for Congress to act because America deserves a raise.

I pointed out yesterday as I pointed out at the State of the Union, that the majority of low wage workers are women, which is why we are going to keep on pushing to make sure that we have equal pay for equal work and we sensible family policies. Because as I said at the State of the Union when women succeed, America succeeds. I still believe that. We have traveled to manufacturing plants up in Wisconsin to talk about how we can continue to accelerate and advance manufacturing and technology in this country. We have some great possibilities to create hubs that keep us on the cutting edge. We signed executive orders to advance the kind of job training that is going to help people get trained for jobs that actually exist and link up businesses with our community colleges. We have already, through executive action, set up a new retirement account, My RA, that allows folks to get a start retirement, because a whole lot of people don't have 401(k)s to save.

Across the board, we're moving. But, as I said at the State of the Union, I want to repeat today, we can get a whole lot more done if we've got Congress working with us. And this caucus has shown time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline.

I was just talking to Nancy before I came out here. The fact that we are no longer going to see, I believe, anybody try to hold our government hostage and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to contract policy concessions. The fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit is just one example of why when you guys are unified, you guys stick together, this country is better off. I could not be more thankful and more appreciative and prouder of what you are doing.

A couple more points. Number one, you have seen reports over the last couple of days that we actually slightly exceeded our targets for ACA signups and enrollments this past month, in the month of January. We now have well over 3.5 million people who have signed up and are getting insurance through the marketplace for the first time. That does not count the close to seven million folks who have signed up for Medicaid because of a law that you passed or the three million young people who are staying on their parents plans.

We are starting to see data (inaudible) that that the uninsured rate is coming down. We are going to keep on pushing on this to make sure that here in America, everybody can enjoy the kind of financial security and peace of mind that good quality health insurance provides. And I just want to say thank you for all of you hanging in there tough on an issue that I think ten years from now, five years from now, we are going to look back and say, this was a monumental achievement. It could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.

And finally, there are some big things that we have to do that I cannot do through executive action where we have to get Congress and where the American people are on our side. A federal minimum wage law is one of them. Another, though, is making sure that we have a smart immigration policy in this country that grows our economy, gets people out of the shadows, makes sure that our businesses are thriving. That's got to be a top priority. We are going to have to keep working on that.

And I believe frankly that there are folks on the other side of the aisle who genuinely want to see this done but they are worried and they are scared about the political blow back. Look, everybody here is an elected official. We can all appreciate the maneuverings that take place, particularly in an election year.

But when it comes to immigration reform, we have to remind ourselves that there are people behind the statistics; that there are lives that are being impacted. That punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people. It hurts our economy. It hurts families.

And part of what I would like to think makes us Democrats is not simply some abstract ideological set of beliefs but the fact that we're reminded every single day that we're here to help a whole bunch of folks out there, our neighbors, our friends, our communities, who are struggling still and need our help. They are counting on us.

The good thing is, they have got some outstanding members of Congress who are willing to fight for them regardless of the political cost, starting with your leader, Nancy Pelosi. I am grateful for you and I'm looking forward to making sure that this year we keep on making progress even if we continue to get a little resistance from the other side.

The American people know that we could be breaking out if Washington gets its act together and it's important for us to lead that process. All right.

Thank you very much. All right. Thank you. Thank you. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would ask that the media would please leave and our friends in the media --

COSTELLO: Apparently, the President is going to take questions from the Democratic lawmakers not in the presence of the media so we won't get to hear that part of the program. But you heard the President talk about income equality, the minimum wage and immigration.

Joining us now to talk more about what the President said: CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta and CNN's national political reporter, Peter Hamby.

Good morning gentlemen --


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi. So Jim, let's start with you. Why did the President choose to go there and then speak?

ACOSTA: Well, you know, at least before they kicked us out, they referred to us as the friends in the media. So, you know, we can be grateful for that, Carol. But you know, the president is not on the ballot this year. He is not running for re-election. But his name might as well be.

And so, that's why you heard the President at this House Democratic retreat over in Maryland sort of package these Democratic ideas for the upcoming mid-term elections talking about raising the minimum wage, saying America deserves a raise; talking about immigration reform -- these are issues that the democratic party feels that the American people are on their side. So they're going to keep pushing these issues.

Interesting that the President also sort of took a victory lap there on the debt ceiling bill; he got what he wanted out of that. He got a clean debt ceiling bill. But, you know, this was very much according to White House officials about the President's agenda for the coming year, an opportunity agenda as they call it. He is going to be using those executive actions when Congress won't go along with him. So no surprise that the President talked about that as well.

But he really left it to the Vice President -- and interesting to point out what Vice President Joe Biden said earlier this morning at the same retreat Carol because he really ripped into Republicans. Sounded a little bit like a guy who's thinking about running for president. Here's a little bit of what the Vice President had to say.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There isn't a Republican Party. I wish there were. I wish there was a Republican Party. I wish there was one person you could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise and know when you got up from that table, it was done. That's what political parties -- that's what Nancy is able to do. That's what the president is able to commit to.


ACOSTA: So interesting to hear the vice president pull out the partisan knives at the same retreat earlier this morning.

And Carol, you were mentioning at the top of all of this that there are some candidates on the ballot this election who don't necessarily want the President out there with him campaigning. We did hear that from a Democratic source last week when he was speaking to that Democratic Senate retreat that he is offering to stay out of those places where he may not be helpful. So it will be interesting to find out if he basically says the same thing again at the retreat in Maryland.

But also want to point out though that the DCCC is saying that the President is going to be doing a lot of campaign fund-raisers. So if they don't want him out there on the stump, they do want him raising money -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Peter, a quick question for you, what kinds of questions will lawmakers ask of the President?

HAMBY: These house retreats are for, you know, messaging points, talking points. They want to know how, you know, they should talk about and frame these issues as they go out on the campaign trail. You know, I am interested to see how -- I mean once we talk to house members after this meeting what sort of things leak out because Democrats are not confident at all that they are going to take back the House this year. They are pretty clear-eyed both in public and private that reclaiming the house is pretty much not an option this fall.

So I want to -- I'm anxious to hear how optimistic the President is in talking to House members about that, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Peter Hamby, Jim Acosta -- many thanks.

And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

@THIS HOUR with Berman and Michaela after a break.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: A rich venture capitalist says if you don't pay taxes, you shouldn't get to vote. And those who paid the most taxes, the wealthy should get the most votes.

MICHAEL PEREIRA, CNN HOST: Having sex a little less lately? Seems like a personal question. Maybe you are asking your husband to do many household chores. This is a controversial study. We are going to try to get to the bottom of it on Valentine's Day.

BERMAN: Hello, everyone, I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. So glad to have you with us. @THISHOUR, those stories and more.

BERMAN: This is the winter that just keeps on giving in a bad, bad way.