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Storm Grounds Thousands of Flights; Cruz Takes on Gay Marriage; Six Medal Events Today In Sochi

Aired February 14, 2014 - 06:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is looking at that.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Snowplows on the runways instead of planes. This week's winter storm battering the East Coast led to the worst single day of air travel this winter. More than 6,500 flights were canceled Thursday, according to a flight- tracking Web site, making it one of the first worst air travel days in recent years.

A February 2011 snowstorm beat this one out, so did Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We brought tickets and our flight just got canceled. Now, we just have to wait and wait and wait.

MARSH: The delays leaving frustrated passengers stranded at airports all over, from New York's LaGuardia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got three kids, 5, 8, 9. And so, they're crying because they were excited about seeing their grandparents.

MARSH: To Charlotte International, Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson and Philadelphia International Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been bumped about -- this will be the second or third time.

MARSH: Now, airlines are trying to dig out in the face of a big holiday weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were scheduled to get out of Philadelphia today, you probably can't get rebooked until Sunday or Monday.

MARSH: Crews still busy de icing planes and trying to get the runways ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to get rid of that slush. You don't want an airplane sliding off the runway.

MARSH: And it's not just the East Coast impacted. The cancellations could have impact on nationwide travel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have a flight crew originating out of the east coast or connecting through any of those hubs, it could impact a flight as far away as Phoenix.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom line, it's a mess. Make sure you call your provider before you try to get to the airport.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines right now. New this morning, reunions between families divided between North and South Korea, they will go ahead as planned this month. Word came after the second meeting this week between the two countries. In the meantime, Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with China's foreign minister to discuss Beijing's influence with North Korea. Kerry is hoping will help calm the North's behavior.

Happening today, President Obama heading to Palm Springs, California, for a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan. The two leaders will discuss Middle East peace and the civil war in Syria. The president is also planning to spend time in the Fresno area to meet with community leaders about California's ongoing drought.

The body of a missing world traveler has been found in the woods behind a home in south Texas. Leanne Bearden and her husband spent 22 months traveling the world when she went for a walk last month. It's unclear how she died. Texas officials are now waiting for an autopsy to release a cause of death. Bearden's family obviously says they miss her greatly.

Breaking overnight, a federal criminal investigation now underway after massive amounts of coal ash spilled into a North Carolina river, tainting the water supply. Duke Energy officials say enough coal ash to fill 32 Olympic-sized swimming pools spilled from its power plant into the Dan River when a dam pipe broke. The utility says as much as 27 million gallons of waist water also reached the river.

Check out this very odd takedown caught on tape. So, he's a would-be burglar who got trapped inside a jewelry store that he broke in to and was trying to rob. Couldn't smash through the bullet proof front door, though. What's interesting, the police couldn't do it for the same reason. Nobody could get in, get out.

So, the suspect, as you saw, get back to a smoke break, and just kind of waited, police arrested him when the store manager arrived and unlocked the door.


PEREIRA: He got in, couldn't get out, police couldn't get in to get him, so he just chilled.

BOLDUAN: How did he get in?

PEREIRA: He probably broke in through the roof or a window or something.

BOLDUAN: A dumb criminal and the police probably need to work on their capabilities. Talk to me.

PEREIRA: American luger.

BOLDUAN: They need the American bobsledder.

PEREIRA: The bobsledder, not the luger. My bad. I got misleading sports confused.

BOLDUAN: You know not to play. Don't play like that.

CHIRS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, they got him. He deserves (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY: bucking a wave of court decisions striking down gay marriage laws, Republican Senator Ted Cruz is taking up the cause in Congress, defending the right of states to regulate marriage. We're going to debate it with the political experts.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

New this morning, a federal judge striking down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. This is the latest case, an important case among dozens being argued in federal courts following last year's landmark Supreme Court decisions. But as Southern states seem to be chipping away at such bans, a new challenge is arising with conservative senators taking the issue head on this week, including Senator Ted Cruz right there.

Let's talk about this. Let's bring in Marc Lamont Hill on the left. He's a CNN political commentator and host of "Huff Post Live". And in Washington this morning, Kevin Madden, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.

Good morning you guys.



BOLDUAN: So, Kevin, let me start with you on this. We have another major court decision with regard to same-sex marriage. Virginia overturning a ban on same-sex marriage in that state.

This is important -- the legal battle is far from over, but let's talk about the near term political implications. Does this show you that this is becoming more and more of a problem issue for Republicans?

MADDEN: I don't think is a problem issue. The trend line though is clearly is with the court decisions and some of the battles have taken place in states. Clearly, we are seeing gay marriage support for it has been on the rise.

So, it's very important debate that folks are having within the party. I mean, you have seen a number of Republicans come out and make the conservative case for recognition of gay marriage. So I do think it's something that's going to continue as a debate in the party. And as we see now with Ted Cruz, up on Capitol Hill as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Let's talk about Ted Cruz in a second. But, Mark, kind of counter intuitive thought on this. I mean, Democrats obviously by and large, support same sex marriage. But when you look at -- let's talk about some Democrats who are in tough reelection battles in conservative states. This might put them in a tough spot.

HILL: It could put them in a tough spot, and this is the unique challenge to gay marriage poses for Democratic candidates and Republican candidates because again, if you're in a state where the opposite is happening, where the tide is shifting, like in a place like Virginia, you seem like you're against --

BOLDUAN: Mary Landrieu herself has acknowledged that. She personally supports same sex marriage, but she knows where her state is on this. That's tough.

HILL: It's extremely tough and you have to make a decision that's ethical on the one hand, but also pragmatic on the other. And the politicians on the tough spot, they're normally known for not doing the pragmatic thing. So they're wrestling with this constantly. But the public time for gay marriage has doubled since 1996. That makes the case a bit easier.

But again, to Kevin's point, Ted Cruz positions himself very awkwardly, when you're driving ahead for a small basis, moving against public sentiment and public policy.

And, Kevin, what do you make of this latest move by Ted Cruz? He is taking on -- essentially, what Ted Cruz is doing is he's moving forward with a bill that would give -- effectively give the definition of marriage to the states. He says this is a states' rights issue. And that's a conservative cause that is argued in various topics we discuss.

But, clearly, we can all acknowledge and Ted Cruz would probably acknowledge as well that this is going nowhere in a democratically controlled Senate. Why is he taking this on?

MADDEN: Well, I think two things.

First, it's the policy and the second part is the politics. I think on the policy part of it, this is essentially a reaction to what many conservatives and social conservatives see as an overreach by the federal government, with the announcement that the Department of Justice had the other day, that they were going to recognize same-sex marriage even in states where marriage is defined along more traditional terms, or limited to just a man or a woman. So I think you have that is the policy reaction here. And then I think there's the politics of it. Essential conservatives are -- social conservatives are looking for a voice inside the legislative process on this debate and Ted Cruz is now stepping up. And I think Ted Cruz sees this as an opportunity to become a social conservative champion because I think he has put together a pretty strong profile as an economic conservative champion in other debates.

BOLDUAN: But, Marc, does this seem like a case that maybe a more moderate Republican would argue what is good for Ted Cruz, which gets headlines for Ted Cruz may not be good for Republicans?

When you look -- as you were mentioning, when you look at the polls, the trend line is showing that more and more Americans are supportive of same-sex marriages and same sex rights.

HILL: Oh, absolutely, because again, if he's position himself as the face of the party, and he's moving against public tide and public sentiment, it makes Republicans look once again like they are out of step with the American people. And that's what's happening to Ted Cruz.

BOLDUAN: So, what can Republicans do about it? It seems that history is showing, the short history with Ted Cruz is not much.

HILL: There's not much you can do with him threatening another filibuster, whether it's this, whether it's what happened a few months. Ted Cruz seems to be uncontrollable by the Republican Party, when we look at some of the latest poll numbers for 2016, where he's again, you know, bucking for position, he seems to be moving in the wrong detection there too. He's going on 9 percent, as opposed to someone like a Mike Huckabee, who hasn't been a major force in the last few years, but is moving up largely because people are dissatisfied with folk like Ted Cruz, who don't seem viable anymore because they're not willing to play ball.

BOLDUAN: But it also seems, Kevin, you can have the final note on this, that we are seeing at least the latest example with the debt ceiling of Senate Republicans standing up to Ted Cruz on his threat and saying we just cannot play this game.

MADDEN: Yes. Well, I would disagree that the party is defined by any one person. I think there are a lot of voices within the party.

But clearly, some simple fact that we're talking about is Ted Cruz does have an ability to sort of drive a lot of headlines and get a lot of attention. So, I think that is something that the Senate conference and I think they'll continue to -- they'll continue to see as a challenge.

But, you know, ultimately, this is a bill that's probably not going to go far, but the debate we can be sure will probably continue.

BOLDUAN: And as long as it's a healthy debate and a good debate, it's a debate to be had.

Kevin, Marc, great to see you guys. HILL: Good to see you.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.


CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to go live to Sochi to see if the Team USA can up its medal count. We've got skiing and figure skating. two big events today. So, we'll check in with it all.



CUOMO: The word haunted often comes up in these situations. Do you find yourself haunted by memories of that night?


CUOMO: Because?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know.

CUOMO: Are you a killer?

ZIMMERMAN: I have killed, yes.


CUOMO: All right. So, those are two big pieces of sound from an interview that we've been waiting for here. The trials, we're watching, the Dunn trial now becomes even more relevant because of what happened with that man, George Zimmerman, and of course, the victim in that case, Trayvon Martin.

So, we had the opportunity sit down with George Zimmerman and go through all the big questions, because, you know, this is one of those stories that deals with a lot of misconception. There were just some wrong reporting early on, and it means so much because the issues involved both at trial and external to the trial about community relations and what justice is.

That it's important to hear from the man at the center of it. And he had more than I expected him to have about what the issues involved are, how he's perceived, what life is like for him.

PEREIRA: It's going to be a very interesting conversation.

CUOMO: So, it was provocative, and he gave us a lot of time. He wanted to deal with everything there given that there is still a federal investigation going on. So, the details about that night. But it wasn't about retrying the case. We have a verdict. We know what that is, what it means, how it goes forward, what motivates him. That's really what went into this, and we will air it here on Tuesday on NEW DAY. That's when we'll start it, and I'm sure we'll then give you throughout the day, but if you want to see the main part of it, that's the day to watch, Tuesday, here on NEW DAY.

BOLDUAN: Excellent --


PEREIRA: All right let's talk Olympics. Action well underway in Sochi. Bit of a spoiler alert, we have some early results coming in. If you don't want to hear, back away from your TV or at least cover your ears for a minute. We're following American favorites, Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, taking on the super combined this morning. Both of them have a whole lot of ground to make up after struggling in the downhill portion.

Figure skating all so on the agenda. A devastating injury to hometown favorite there. Rachel Nichols is live in Sochi with more. A lot of people can't believe Plushchenko is out.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS: Yes, Michaela. And Jeremy Abbott, the four-time U.S. champ also had a rough night, took a nasty fall on the ice, clutching (ph) his ribs. Lot of people thought they need to bring a stretcher out for him. Not only did he get up, but he finished his routine. And he had to do most of it really by improv because his music had continued on and he had to get it some required jumps.

Now, his scores, not so good, but he certainly won over the hearts and minds of the Russian crowds that were cheering for him like crazy. Another great moment in this action-packed and, well, very warm winter Olympics.


NICHOLS (voice-over): Spectators are basking in the 60-degree race here in Sochi, but that isn't all that's been heating up. In the hockey arena, team USA's fiery opener against Slovakia was almost a shutout. The Americans dominating on the ice for a 7-1 win, making what was supposed to be a fierce face-off look more like a scrimmage round.

The American's power house performance was certainly a show of strength to Russia as the two rivals prepare for this weekend much anticipated showdown. But at the figure skating rink, it was a heartbreaking injury to Russian legend, Evgeni Plushenko, that left the arena stunned. Before his home crowd, the 31-year-old fell during a practice triple axel resulting in pain he says felt like a knife in his back.

The four-time Olympic medalist bowed out of the men's short program, then announced his retirement, ending his career before the event even began. But his curtain calls at the stage for the elegant, Yuzuru Hanyua, a 19-year-old from Japan, and a competition littered with falls. The rising star soared, landing each jaw-dropping jump, spin, and twist. His scores shattering the Olympic world record. Up in the mountains, sirens and a scare. This track worker was airlifted to a local hospital after being struck by a bobsled. Russian officials say the worker broke both legs but is stable after surgery. They're investigating why he was on the truck after an alarm did go off warning of oncoming sleds. And on the slopes, yet another injury with a story, but this time, it only underscored triumph.

Polish athlete, Justyna Kowalczyk, fractured her foot last month, yet skied past the pain in the 10 kilometer classic. After crossing the finish line, she collapsed, breaking down, crying, not tears of agony but of joy and the glory of grabbing gold.


NICHOLS (on-camera): One more note about that 10K. These women are not used to usually racing in 60-degree, 65-degree weather. One of the Norwegian competitors was asked about wearing a short sleeved competition suit. She said basically, "I would have let them -- if I could have race naked, I would have if they would have let me. That's how hot I was."

And the temperatures also affecting the men's combined event that's going on right now. They had to move the downhill portion to the earlier part of the morning, cooler temperatures. They also had to shorten the downhill course because the snow was so mushy at the bottom. And that only takes away a competitive advantage for a guy like Bode Miller. That's why he's not doing well. He's really upset about that, so we're seeing warm weather effect this Olympic.

PEREIRA: Who knew weather would be such a storyline in Sochi. Also, we know that you had a chance to sit down with one of the most decorated female snowboarders in the history, Kelly Clark. Tell us about that.

NICHOLS: Yes. You know, it's so interesting. It's been the story of this Olympic Games from an American perspective, right? This extreme sports, this outside sports becoming our U.S. team story and the U.S. not really doing that well in the more traditional sports. So, Kelly just medaled in her third straight Olympics. She has fantastic perspective on how her sport has gone from this rogue outsider in the corridor to being really the main success story of these games. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's so successful, because it's really relatable. It's something that people watch and people are able to go out on the weekends and do with their families.

NICHOLS: The fact your sport has become associated with what the Americans are good at the Olympics, what do you think when you hear that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that's what we should be known for. Snowboarding is of the most amazing sports out there. There's a culture, there's a community, there's creativity. There's room for individuality. It's such a unique sport that I think it should be on the forefront of our culture.


NICHOLS: So, her take is that this created element of all these extreme sports really speaks to the American character. We should be good at this stuff. And that she, of course, thinks it's fantastic that that's becoming what we're known for in the winter games.

PEREIRA: We certainly do love relatable. Rachel, some great stuff for us from Sochi. Really, really appreciate it. Thanks so much. We'll be watching.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, the storm continues to punish and the race is on to restore power and normal life for 100 million people. We're going to show you the worst and the timing for when it gets better and there is news about what comes next. Yes, it ain't over.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And still no verdict for the man who shot and killed a teenager this all following an argument over loud music. Was it self-defense or murder? We'll talk with Michael Dunn's defense attorney live.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, February 14th. Happy Valentine's Day at this seven o'clock hour in the east. We're going to start out with our news blast that is the most news you can get anywhere. Let's go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More damage, more power outage in this storm than during Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conditions to deteriorate very rapidly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The worst single day of air travel this winter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know why we're not in there (ph) right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've just been waiting online.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first full day of deliberation ended without a verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Strong enough to fall 3,500 feet and live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American's power house performance was certainly a show of strength to Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: It is Valentine's Day, but there is no love for some 100 million people affected by the catastrophic storms. A relentless nor'easter dumping more ice and snow on the east coast this hour. Parts of Maryland digging out from about two feet. The forecast this weekend calling for even more.

Sixteen deaths reported. Here in New York, Thursday, a pregnant woman killed by a snowplow that accidentally backed over her in a grocery store parking lot. Doctors were able to save her baby. The Big Apple received a few more inches early this morning on top of a foot that's already fallen.

BOLDUAN: And look at this video out of Boston. A CNN iReporter captured two men giving it their all to try to get a driver out of a snowy spot. Eventually, it works. Boston will get a brief respite from the snow and freezing rain before the storm picks up once again tomorrow.

PEREIRA: In Connecticut, whiteout conditions on the road, speaking for hazardous driving conditions. (INAUDIBLE) what they could, but Mother Nature, she was persistent. Check out the scene in new haven. Heavy blanket coating the ground more than a foot of snow across Southern Connecticut.