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Tea Party Wants McConnell Out; Impact Your World; Fallon's "Tonight Show" Debut; The Winningest Snowboarder Ever

Aired February 18, 2014 - 08:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Half past the hour. Welcome back. Time for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Two passengers and three crew members hospitalized overnight after their United Airlines flight hit severe and sudden turbulence on its landing approach into Billings, Montana.

Another winter storm is lined up to hit the Northeast this morning. Some areas expecting to see several inches of snow in what is already being viewed as one of the snowiest winters on record.

The U.S. and five other world powers kicking off nuclear negotiations with Iran this morning in Vienna. Both sides sounding skeptical that a long term agreement can indeed be reached.

The creator of that wildly popular game Candy Crush is going public. British based King Entertainment Digital Entertainment filing its initial public offering to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

And at number five, a spoiler alert for the Olympic games. Five medals already handed out today with two more to go. The U.S. has now won a medal every day of the games. The men's skiing half pipe final is this afternoon.

Always updating those five things to know. So be sure to go to for the very latest.



Is the Senate's top Republican in trouble? A Kentucky Tea Party group is calling on Senator Mitch McConnell to drop out of his re-election bid. The reason, his vote last week to raise the debt ceiling. McConnell is facing a potentially tough primary battle, so he's seeking help from an unlikely ally. CNN's Dana Bash is live in Washington with the very latest.

Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Well, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell firmly believes he would be majority leader now, meaning Republicans would have control of the Senate, had a series of electable Republicans not been taken out by conservative candidates in the last two elections. Now, that is why Mitch McConnell himself, now that he's facing a challenge from all sides, is enlisting his junior senator, with conservative credentials, for help.


BASH (voice-over): Two senators from the same state and the same party sharing a stage shouldn't be remarkable, but it is with Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Of course I'm pleased to be here with my colleague, Senator Paul, who does a fabulous job representing our state every day in the United States Senate.

BASH: This day of joint appearances in Eastern Kentucky was planned last month. But after what happened last week in the Senate, the timing couldn't be better for McConnell to appear with a Tea Party favorite like Paul.

McConnell angered his own GOP base by providing a pivotal vote to break a filibuster waged by Senator Ted Cruz on raising the debt ceiling.

MCCONNELL: My job is to protect the country when I can and to step up and lead in those occasions when it's required. That's what I did.

BASH: But the Senate Republican leader, up for re-election this year, wants to keep his job. And though his campaign aides say they're most worried about beating Democrat Alison Grimes in November. McConnell first has to win the spring GOP primary. After all, McConnell thinks he'd be majority leader now had other Republicans take conservative challenges more seriously.

MCCONNELL: I couldn't be prouder to call him my colleague, Senator Rand Paul.

BASH: Gushing about Rand Paul is smart politics for McConnell.

MCCONNELL: The junior senator from Kentucky is a national figure already, deeply involved in the national debate about the direction of this country.

BASH: Paul went out of his way to reciprocate.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: So I think we all really should understand that we are very privileged to have Senator McConnell.

Thank you.

BASH: Hard to believe, only a few years ago, Paul considered McConnell GOP establishment, part of the problem with Republicans, and McConnell endorsed Paul's GOP opponent. But before you buy into a bromance, watch the body language here, warm words but no back slapping.


BASH: Now, despite their rocky start, McConnell and Rand Paul have formed more of an alliance inside the Senate than many people realize and that's extended to McConnell's re-election campaign. The man running it is Rand Paul's nephew, Jesse Benton. He's the same operative who helped Rand Paul get elected in Kentucky. Also the one who ran Ron Paul's presidential race.

Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: Yes, many encounters with Jesse over the years, that's for sure.

BASH: Haven't we all.

BOLDUAN: He's keeping busy.

All right, Dana, thank you so much.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How about a little "Impact Your World." Dr. Jim Withers spends his days and nights on the streets of Pittsburgh in a makeshift clinic to help the homeless. Amazing work. Take a look.


CUOMO (voice-over): For more than 20 years, Dr. Jim Withers has spent his days like this.

DR. JIM WITHERS, OPERATION SAFETY NET: You guys going to stay here or use the shelter?

CUOMO: Operation Safety Net is looking for patients.

WITHERS: Do you want a bottle of water?

We've seen people out here with all kinds of things that should never be on the streets. Catheters and tubes coming out of them.

Hey, you, Safety Net.

CUOMO: Working in these conditions is rarely easy, but Dr. Jim Withers says turning his back on the homeless in Pittsburgh was never an option.

WITHERS: There were some times when I was kind of scared. I had a guy point a shotgun at me and I had a guy threat to cut my throat. But once you get to know people and they become real to you, it's hard to forget them.

I dropped you off some firewood.

CUOMO: On days like this when temperatures are below freezing, the stakes are especially high. WITHERS: When it gets below 15, somewhere in that range, everybody's at risk. So we do extra patrols. Sometimes you sense when a person is giving up and I found that that is a pretty strong predictor about who might not make it.

CUOMO: Withers says the payoff has been worth it. That's why he founded the Street Medicine Institute to bring his vision to cities across the world.

WITHERS: I think there's just a sense that if we weren't doing this, there would be no one there for them. And it gives an incredible amount of meaning to everyday work. I wouldn't give it up for anything.


CUOMO: Jim Withers says what makes him different is that he decided to make a difference.

BOLDUAN: It's all just a - it's a decision.

CUOMO: Right. What makes him different is that he decided to make a difference. It's a really important message to take to heart. I know I have.


Coming up next on NEW DAY, Jimmy Fallon officially taking the reins at "The Tonight Show." We take a look at some of the most memorable moments from his big debut.

CUOMO: Plus, what a treat for us this morning. She's part of the U.S. snowboarding dream team. Kelly Clark back from Sochi. One of her first stops, right here in the studio. Look at that though.


PEREIRA: That's some moments from Jimmy Fallon's debut on "Tonight Show" hosting, of course, for the very first time.

Back in New York City, the star studded premiere is already getting some really rave reviews. Jimmy's first guesses were Will Smith, as you saw, U2. Also a surprising freight (ph) of cameos stealing the show, Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, even talk show rival Stephen Colbert stopped by.

Let's discuss it all. Christopher John Farley, editor of "The Wall Street Journal's" Speakeasy Blog.

Good morning. What kind of grade would you give his debut show?

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, EDITOR, "WALL STREET JOURNAL'S" SPEAKEASY BLOG: Well, I would give it probably a B. I think that he's got some work to do. I mean, come on, we're making a lot out of this -

BOLDUAN: Yes. FARLEY: But he's on basically a half hour early. I mean because of the Olympics he's pushed back to 12:00.


FARLEY: So it's not that big a deal.


FARLEY: And he didn't change that much. I mean he's got a desk. He's got guests. He's got a band. He's got a monologue. It's the same show people have always done on "The Tonight Show." The difference is, he's a little more sincere than, you know, you bring his parents (ph) there. He's talked about his family.

PEREIRA: He's got that Fallon charm.

FARLEY: He does have some charm. I think having -- the fact that he relocated to New York City is different than being out on the West Coast where "The Tonight Show" had been for years in Burbank. That's different. But because (INAUDIBLE) things, like going to a -- it's not much of a difference between going to a Starbucks in LA and going to a Starbucks in New York. I mean the barista is different -

PEREIRA: Wow, interesting.

CUOMO: Starbucks is - Starbucks is good coffee, though.

FARLEY: It's good coffee.

CUOMO: So why do you have to mess with the wheel in order to just, you know, change how people perceive how he does it? Does he really have to change the meaning of the show?

FARLEY: Well, here's why, because the show has been number one in dominance for years, obviously with Leno in command. But, you know, the median age under Leno of the view was 58 years old. Advertisers are looking for viewers who are about a decade younger than that.

And Fallon's viewership at his slot was around 50 years old. So he still has to work through to attract younger viewers. He tried to do a middle ground here. He had some bands that were - acts that were cool but yet appealed to older viewers. I mean U2, Will Smith, they're not young acts but they're terrifically entertaining and popular acts. And so we'll see whether he can bring in that mass audience and also lower the bar in terms of the age as well.

BOLDUAN: Definitely had people laughing, though at certain -- we've been laughing as we've been seeing the clips throughout the morning. Where do you - where do you think he should improve? How do you make the -- what changes do you think the audience wants to see?

FARLEY: Well, he's got to figure out where "The Tonight Show" fits in in the age of viral video. I mean people these days get their comedy a la carte. You know, they get it tweeted at them. They get it on their Facebook page. They get little small bits on the internet somewhere. But "The Tonight Show" says, hey you've got to have this whole, huge, six course meal.


FARLEY: And people just want to see what the best bits are the next day. They maybe don't want to stay up that late.

BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) effect on "The Tonight Show."

FARLEY: Yes. Or the key and peele effect, you know -


FARLEY: Of pick your poison here. And on this show he had the evolution of - evolution of hip-hop dancing. That's a little viral bit - bits that I'm sure they hope, you know, get spreaded on the internet. He's done that before. We'll see whether he can do more of that, bits that people will pass around the next day and say, hey, did you see what happened on Fallon last night.

PEREIRA: It's interesting because he is -- he considers himself sort of a student of Johnny Carson, who's considered one of the greatest, right? And - but things have really changed since then. You just recounted a lot of that, of all the changes that we've seen and what the audience now demands. But one thing is - that we've heard some pushback, and you even mentioned it too, is his interviewing skills. That's something -- that takes a little bit to get rhythm going, doesn't it?

FARLEY: It takes a little bit to get rhythm. And as you know, on this show, you know, (INAUDIBLE) do such a great job, but it takes training, it takes discipline, it takes a -

PEREIRA: Comfort level too.

FARLEY: It takes a little bit of an edge too because Jimmy Fallon wants to come across as a nice guy. To really get a good interview, you've got to push people. You've got --

CUOMO: Comparison is relevant. Who pushes in late night television?

FARLEY: Who pushes? You know, sometimes Letterman will.


FARLEY: Sometimes Letterman will say things that make people uncomfortable because he just doesn't care anymore.


CUOMO: (INAUDIBLE). I mean even like, you know, the court gesture himself, Jon Stewart, when he gets a heavy in the chair next to him, he's either making jokes or he's nodding his head yes, yes, yes. I don't know that the bar will be that high for Jimmy Fallon to be the countability (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

FARLEY: No, but it will be nice to now and again see him do something real on TV, have a real moment with someone, have someone express some real emotions or say something they haven't said on a million other talk shows.

PEREIRA: Christopher Farley, always good to have you here and have your voice on our show.

FARLEY: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Thank you.

CUOMO: Smart and looking good too. I like that look. I wanted to go with it. They said I couldn't pull it off.

Coming up on NEW DAY, she is the winningest snowboarder of all time, just captured the bronze, Kelly Clark, live in the studio. Look at that. It just doesn't get any better. What's next? Forget about what's next, what's now? Look how great she looks.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Very exciting -- we're going to meet Olympian Kelly Clark in a moment. You know what we have to do to do that -- head to the couch. Come on, let's go.


BOLDUAN: It's pretty heavy.

PEREIRA: Yes, it's really--

CUOMO: All right. So she's a three-time Olympic medalist --

PEREIRA: Three times.

CUOMO: -- winningest snowboarder of all time. Think of that.

PEREIRA: She's upside down.

CUOMO: And you know, she can have another Olympic (inaudible), by the way, not even in her thirties, you know, come one.

Joining us now, Kelly Clark, took home the bronze in the women's halfpipe in Sochi. Great to have you. Do me a favor. In terms of some context here, you got in when the sport was really starting to get going. What has been cooler for you? Your personal rise, all the winning; or seeing what's happened with the sport as it's gone along with you?

KELLY CLARK, OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER: It's been amazing. You know, I always say I started snowboarding before it was cool. There was no X games, there was no Olympics. And when I was 14 years old, I had one of those moments where I watched the first time -- snowboarding wasn't even in the game so I said "This is what I want to do with my life." Four years later I won Olympian gold in Salt Lake. And I've been here ever since.

So 12 years, 30 years old, four Olympic experiences -- It's jut been one of the great privileges of my life.

BOLDUAN: Another medal under your belt. How does this Olympic experience compared to Olympics past for you?

CLARK: They're all different to be hones. I've essentially grown up through the games. Every four years I can see how I've grown as a person and as an athlete. And it's been incredible I think. You know, I always say, the medals are amazing but it's what they represent to the person that calls them their own that gives them value. And for me, you know, I think perhaps 12 years after the first time I climbed on the Olympic podium, this one has the most value because I know how hard I had to work for it.

PEREIRA: So talk about that, because you've got countless victories to your name and you talk about all of these Olympic games you've been to. That fire in your belly, what is it now? Is it that you want to prove yourself as a 30-year-old you can still do this? Is that sort of old for snowboarding?

CLARK: That's what they say. They say 30 is a lot --

BOLDUAN: I don't believe it though.

PEREIRA: We don't like they.

BOLDUAN: They can stay sitting on their couch if that's what they're saying.

PEREIRA: So what is it that -- what do you think it is, the fire in your belly now as you look forward?

CLARK: I think snowboarding is an amazing sport because you never arrive. You know, you are never going to be the best. However many medals you have, how ever many contests you've won, it's always changing. And you know, after 15 years competing, I have to change and progress and be challenged daily. And I think that's why I love it so much and that's why I can be so motivated after 15 years of competition.

BOLDUAN: The tricks are just changing every year. And you're still pulling out new moves every Olympics.

CLARK: The run I did in Salt Lake wouldn't make the finals today.

BOLDUAN: Amazing.


CUOMO: Really? So does that mean -- do you think you're better today -- like if you were to compete against the Kelly of 12 years ago, who wins?

CLARK: I win.

CUOMO: So it's not just -- it's not just about age and durability, it's about skill and knowing what to do to score. CLARK: Yes, I think experience does go a long way. Right now it really is smarter, not harder training for me. I do have to take more rest days. I do have to put in more effort on the fitness side of things. But I'm still able to, you know, not only maintain but I'm still able to lead this sport at 30 years old which is amazing.

PEREIRA: So talk about that looking forward because you're hoping for another Olympics. How do you train? If you don't know how far the sport is going to go -- how do you -- you have to have a sort of predictive quality in how you train.

CLARK: You know I think it's interesting with snowboarding. We don't know how to train a snowboarder. We know how to train baseball players. There's a lot of data, there's a lot of research.


CLARK: But for us, we're transitioning from being more of a lifestyle sport to actually more of a sport that's physically demanding. And so I'm kind of on the forefront of that experimenting getting as strong as I can to be injury free as I can and to enable myself to push myself.

PEREIRA: No easy task in Sochi this. There's been a lot of injuries, you know, plagues the games.

CLARK: Yes, it was a difficult games, you know, I think it was --

BOLDUAN: Is this a hard halfpipe?

CLARK: It was challenging to ride. But I think at the end of the day, the reality is that it's an outdoor winter sport. And that is part of it.


PEREIRA: Look at that smile. It hasn't left her face.

CUOMO: What do you want the kids to know? The sport's taking off, it's a big rage. Can't get my kids away from it -- what's the message you want to send out to them?

CLARK: I would say keep it fun. You know, I think you have to have a good idea of who you are apart from what you do, regardless of your profession. Get that sense of significance and pursue your dreams because nothing is impossible.

BOLDUAN: And it's still fun for you after all this time. All the medals you've won -- still fun to have --

CLARK: It never gets old. It's always a privilege.

PEREIRA: Look at that.


BOLDUAN: We're privileged to have you here. Thank you so much for coming in.

CLARK: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: It's so great to see you. I love the Olympics.

All good stuff if that's not enough good stuff for you -- coming up, a mom who used technology to change her son's life. The good stuff -- more of the good stuff when we come back.


CUOMO: All right. It's time for the good stuff. Today's edition little intersection of kindness and technology. Here's the story. Nine-year-old Matthew Shields, he was born a little different than his friends.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you just have the thumb?

MATTHEW SHIELDS: And little itty-bit nubs.


CUOMO: That's been never an issue until this year, when guess what -- bullying reared its ugly head.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He started coming home with his hand in his shirt.


CUOMO: Can you believe that kids would be bullying someone like this? Well, they were. Well guess what -- his mom discovered robo hand, a mechanical hand you can print out and make using a 3D printer.

BOLDUAN: How about that? Oh my God.

CUOMO: Yes. A family friend came to the rescue finding the plans on the Internet commandeering the public library's 3D printer and they made it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty cool to be able to say you gave a kid a hand. You gave a kid the ability to grasp something and let him high five or hand shake.


CUOMO: They printed it out.

BOLDUAN: That awesome.

CUOMO: Matthew can now curl his new fingers and he says it has made all the difference.


SHIELDS: I actually have fingers. I didn't know what it felt like until now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been a huge blessing. It changed the conversation from "what happened to your hand" to "oh my gosh, that's so awesome". That's huge when you're nine.


BOLDUAN: That's true.

PEREIRA: Now he's a cool kid.

CUOMO: I have fingers, he says.

PEREIRA: Yes, he has fingers.

CUOMO: That's great. And the lesson to everybody, just being different doesn't make you less than. He is now the coolest kid.

PEREIRA: He is now the coolest kid.

BOLDUAN: Must see moment --


PEREIRA: OK. Winter, blah, blah, blah is making us all crazy. I believe somebody has found how you can make the best of it. Watch her, (inaudible) on frozen trampoline. So that happened. But then the dog comes and laughs at her.

You've got to find a way to break out of the winter blues. She did it, made everybody laugh. We appreciate it. She's just fine.

BOLDUAN: Sorry. She's fine. She's got a little snow up her shirt.

CUOMO: She's got. She's doing that walk. She's doing that ice in the hinny walk.

PEREIRA: You've been there.

BOLDUAN: I have no idea what --

CUOMO: A lot of news this morning. Let's get to the "NEWSROOM" and Carol Costello. And that is not the person who was featured in the video.

PEREIRA: That was Carol -- was that you girl?



COSTELLO: No, I can't top that.