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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Truce Declared in Ukraine; New Possible Shoe Bomb Threat; Interview with Lori St. Pierre; Juror: Jury Yelled, Cursed At Each Other Over Disagreements During Deliberations; Texas GOP Candidate For Governor Dodges Questions About Campaigning With Musician Ted Nugent
Aired February 19, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Two big breaking stories tonight. New intelligence involving threats to air travel and a potential, potential break in fighting that has turned the center of Ukraine's capital Kiev into a fiery battle ground.
Take a look at these pictures that we just got.
Incredible images from the front lines in Independence Square. As I said, it's new video taken shortly before Ukraine's president announced the truce just after midnight local time.
Now the State Department calling it a glimmer of hope. But it remains to be seen whether it will actually take. There have been other hopeful moments that have evaporated with talks giving way to confrontation. And finally yesterday security forces moving in. And of course scenes like this.
Now fighting has left more than two dozen police and protesters dead, sparking tough warnings from NATO and President Obama and fears that a vital buffer between Russia and the West is coming apart at the seams.
Nick Paton Walsh has been following developments in Kiev, he joins us now.
Nick, there's this talk of a truce from the Ukrainian president. What's the latest there tonight? And what are the chances the truce is actually real?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point the truce is basically been the president saying he wants one, he's agreed one with the opposition and they want to talk about ending bloodshed. The opposition saying they'd like a cease-fire, too, and hope his concerns about that are genuine. But behind me that's not being reflected on what's happening on the street.
The reason I keep looking off to my left here is we keep seeing columns of riot police moving towards the square. It's hard to tell if it's a shift change but it's quite a large number moving now at the moment. They're also singing the Ukrainian national anthem here. And since we've heard of this truce we've seen, as I say, no change. We've seen fireworks fired at the police by the protesters. Molotov cocktails thrown as well. No sense of tension dissipating, although there seems to be this -- in the corridors of power, discussion at trying to find some sort of deal -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Nick, the strategic positions the Ukrainian military, senior U.S. Defense official told CNN the Ukrainian forces have moved into defensive postures around bases and weapons depots in recent hours. That would certainly seem to point to concerns about protesters taking things to a whole new level.
WALSH: Possibly. It may be perhaps the U.S. trying to say they weren't moving into aggressive positions. They weren't about to join the fight here. Ukrainian officials have been saying that the army won't get involved here. But there was a really troubling moment today where the head of the army was suddenly given a new job.
Now that's not what you do as president of Ukraine or any country if you want to look like you're fully in control of your military or your security services. So questions about precisely why that happened. Speculation, did he not want to do something he was ordered to do or did he want to do something and told not to do it?
So issues, too, about the warning we immediately got after that from the head of security services, saying that an anti-terror operation was required across the nation.
Tensions still high here, Anderson, despite these talks potentially being in the offing.
COOPER: Nick, just out of curiosity, that music that you were talking about, is that being piped in or is that actually people singing in the square?
WALSH: That's people on the stage to keep protesters buoyed up. I mean, it's cold, it's damp down there. Conditions worsening by the day. There's a stage obscured from where I am standing by the thick black smoke of burning tires. We've had a mass conducted there. We hear speeches from the fragmented leadership of this protest. And now we're hearing for the third or fourth time the national anthem.
Doesn't normally mean anything specific, but it sometimes points to moments where the crowd feels a need of particular rallying. It's very hard to tell when the police move around, they fluctuate in numbers, whether we're seeing preparation for something or simply just police shifts changing now. But no dissipation and the standoff behind me at all being going on all night.
COOPER: How much impact does the West actually have on this? I mean, we heard from President Obama earlier and the head of NATO warning the Ukrainian government to show restraint.
WALSH: I don't think that Yanukovych wants to find himself an international exile or facing the difficulty getting a visa to go anywhere further east in Poland -- sorry, west in Poland, but I think it's important not to overestimate how much he would care at this point. He's very much back against the wall, supporters coming from Moscow but financially and politically as well. As is always, really, being the case.
I'm sure he wants to court public opinion globally, and of course Moscow doesn't want itself during the middle of the Sochi games seen to be pushing things too far. But threats of sanctions are still threats. We haven't actually got a concrete plan. And a visa ban on 20 Ukrainian officials isn't exactly going to change what's happening behind me.
We've got key European foreign ministers coming in tomorrow. French, German, and Polish. That may calm things. But still, as I say, everything's staying as it was during the day behind me -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Nick, we're going to check back with you a little bit later on in this hour for a look at how Ukraine's political meltdown, how it could trigger a whole series of consequences for Europe and the United States.
But I want to turn to a more direct potential threat now. Intelligence suggesting that terror groups have been working on a new shoe bomb design and a warning to airlines from the Department of Homeland Security encompassing that and a number of potential threats.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has details. He joins us now.
So, I mean, obviously officials have been worried about shoe bombs for more than 10 years now. We all know about Richard Reid. This seems to be new, though. It's not just shoes.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's new first of all based on new intelligence that terror groups are working on a new way to smuggle explosives onto a plane in a shoe bomb. So a new adaptation of that old method that we've known about since Richard Reid.
But as you say yes, it also extends to cosmetics and liquids. And there's some information about the cities that it might apply to. Some 25 cities with direct flights to the U.S., a wide group, as diverse as Johannesburg, London, some cities in the Middle East, including Cairo.
Now I am told that -- the threat is not specific or credible enough to warrant a broader response from intelligence agencies here. This particular warning coming from the Department of Homeland Security, which has the lowest bar for putting out a warning like this. And that makes sense. That's its job to get out information about threats to the homeland as widely as possible.
But just to be clear, this threat not specific or credible enough to get all of our counter-terror agencies working on a direct response to it.
COOPER: So for those of us who might have to travel or have travel plans, you know, including airplane flight, does this mean longer screening processes? SCIUTTO: It does mean some new measures. It's going to be things like extra swabs maybe as you get to the plane. Those swabs they use to test for explosive residue on your bags or on your clothes, that kind of thing. But not a full phalanx, you know, you can imagine, of new guards and new kinds of security measures.
And remember, of course, we already have to take off our shoes when we're going on a plane if that's what they're looking for specifically. I mean, this really does show the difficulty of dealing with threats like this because they're getting a lot of information. It's not always specific and credible. So they have to kind of gauge their response on a sliding -- their response on a sliding scale. So his response, they're going to add some new measures for particular flights but they're not going to raise it to the highest level here.
So I think if you're planning to travel to the U.S., you know, the intelligence officials I talk to say no one should be panicking here but this is just an abundance of caution getting the information out there to airlines.
COOPER: Right. I want to bring in former White House Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend. She currently sits on the DHS NCI External Advisory Boards.
You've been there, Fran, when threats like this come in. Why go public with this? I mean -- does that surprise you?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's interesting. As you talk to folks inside the law enforcement community and the homeland security community, they say they've been watching this, right? We've heard about al Qaeda and its affiliates, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, looking to develop new bomb techniques and methods to get past our screening procedures.
You saw the computer bomb and the underwear bomb. This has been sort of a recurring theme. This has been growing over the last several weeks. We heard the threat about -- in the toothpaste tubes. So they've been looking at what are these methods they're looking at to smuggle explosives on to a plane.
I think this was really DHS who was responsible, the parent agency of the Transportation Security Administration. They saw this, they decided because that's their responsibility, as Jim suggests, they wanted to get this to the airlines and make them aware.
This isn't the kind of threat warning that we typically see, which is an inner agency FBI and DHS that put out a written warning when they do believe it's specific and credible. This is DHS talking to the airlines about screening because they see this sort of growing body of intelligence to them.
COOPER: I mean, presumably this is something they (INAUDIBLE) have been working on for more than 10 years.
TOWNSEND: That's right. And so when you talk to folks, Anderson, you get -- you've heard this before. We see increased traffic, increased chatter, and we're concerned that they may have been able to develop to make a smaller, compact version of an explosive that they can get past our screeners.
COOPER: Wow. All right. Fran, appreciate the update. Jim Sciutto as well.
Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper, tweet using #ac360.
Just ahead tonight, President Obama warning Ukrainian leaders as we mentioned not to cross a line which sounds a lot like his warning to Syria. We know how that's turned out.
We'll talk about questions of presidential credibility and go back to Kiev.
Also tonight, his killer painted him as a dangerous thug. Those who knew him say that couldn't be further from the truth. The Jordan Davis that they knew and loved and why a jury could not reach a murder verdict in his killing. A juror speaks out. We're going to talk to Jordan's aunt when we continue.
COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, a truce declared in Ukraine but not really being seen, not yet at least, on the ground in Kiev. It comes after another ugly day in the capital's Independence Square.
Some new video of the fighting from earlier this evening, a battle that began when government forces moved in on protesters last night, sparking a day and two nights of violence on the ground and a sharp warning from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.
We've said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and we'll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing that along with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Some preliminary steps have already come to pass. The State Department tonight saying it's going to bar 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government and others responsible for the crackdown from entering the country. The first sanctions in a crisis threatening to tear a major piece of Europe apart.
COOPER (voice-over): Scenes of a city descending into chaos. Kiev's Independence Square, a fiery battleground between police and protesters. The fighting at times has looked Medieval. This protester's legs caught fire as others desperately stamp out the flames. In the square, protesters fashion more sophisticated weapons.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a whole row of effectively what is homemade artillery. These pipes, they use gas to propel fireworks attached to Molotov cocktails to get more distance and bigger bang.
COOPER: Watch as this armored personnel carrier advances toward the protesters' front lines and set ablaze with what looks like Molotov cocktails.
This protester is about to be shot. It's unclear if he survived. We do know at least 26 people have been killed in the clashes, and hundreds more have been hospitalized according to Ukraine's Health Ministry.
Off the square, protesters even stormed the party headquarters for the Ukrainian president and protests have now spread to at least three other cities across the country. Earlier, Wednesday, an aggressive move by the Ukrainian government labeling the protesters terrorists. It's a familiar refrain from bloody revolts in Syria and across the Middle East.
The Ukrainian government further defended its stance against the thousands in Independence Square, saying they, not authorities, began the violence.
LEONID KOZHARA, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: There's a strong instruction to the police not to use offensive means against the protesters.
COOPER: President Obama condemned the violence.
OBAMA: We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way.
COOPER: Late tonight, a bit of hope. The Ukrainian president along with leaders of Ukraine's top three opposition parties declaring a truce and the start of negotiations for peace.
But this is not the first time we've seen this. Just days ago, talks evolved into the bloodshed of the last two days. A hope now that this time, somehow, things will be different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now. Let's go back to Nick Paton Walsh in Kiev and bring in former longtime CNN correspondent Jill Dougherty. She's currently at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Also senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us.
So, Nick, we spoke to you at the beginning of the program. In terms of the activity where you are, at least some of which still appears quite dangerous, is there any sense of this talk of a truce, is this calming things at all?
WALSH: Right now I'm seeing fireworks going off right behind me fired directly at what seems to be police positions down there. So no sense of peace here at all, frankly.
I mean, the real question, Anderson, is exactly what talks could result in peace. Yanukovych, his resignation is a main desire of most protesters and opposition leaders here. He doesn't seem to want to go anywhere at this point -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Nick, are people able who are in the square -- protesters, are they able to get back and forth or are they stuck there? Are they completely surrounded?
WALSH: No, they can come and go. Down further road away from here it's possible to get in and out. We don't know what sanction they might face by police if they move away from this area, if they're perhaps arrested or picked up at all. It's along the sides to my left here where the police have very firm lines.
They've been pushing in, laying waste actually, to much of the ground there. It's burned away. Half of the square now you can see from up here in daylight is pretty much burned rubble and damaged debris. The protest pushed back into a corner but also now expanding down side streets.
No matter what the police do, they're not actually denting its will despite eroding the space it has in the central square -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Jim, we heard what President Obama had to say earlier today. Is the White House actually -- I mean, is there anything they're actually going to do about Ukraine to -- or just is it talk at this point?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think that remains to be seen. The administration at this point according to a senior administration official that I talked to has not laid out exactly what consequences would be in store for Ukraine if this violence were to continue. But as soon as the president said don't cross a line, Ukraine, you know, be careful if you cross a line.
That invited comparisons immediately to the situation in Syria when President Obama warned -the regime of Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons. When Assad used those weapons the president got to the edge of using military action but he pulled back and chose a diplomatic path.
So it's a question as to follow through with the Obama White House as to what it would do with Ukraine. At this point it looks like only sanctions but just how far those sanctions would go -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jill, what about Vladimir Putin? I mean, what -- how big a role if any he's playing in all of this?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He's playing a very important role in a sense that Russia is -- ACOSTA: Well, the White House --
COOPER: Go ahead, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: Sorry. He's playing an important role because after all Russia is trying to exert its influence in Ukraine, keep it in the fold, not allow it to move economically and politically toward Western Europe. And that is his goal right now. I mean, as they look at this, they see a lot of their interests, Russian interests and Vladimir Putin's interest, in keeping Ukraine as part of some type of union. But right now the country is really torn in half politically.
And what will remain after all of this is really questionable. I mean, the economy, Anderson, is in dire straits. And this is going to make it much, much worse.
COOPER: Well, Jill, you talked about the country being torn in half. Is it possible the Ukraine could actually end up divided, splitting apart?
DOUGHERTY: You know, some people actually talk about that. Of course a lot of people talk about it with dread. But you do have that geographic -- you know, it's really a division between west and east in Ukraine. The people in the east basically aligned more with Moscow, people in the west -- this is a broad generalization, but in a way it is true. So some have actually thought that perhaps it might be a terrible thing to think about, but it might happen.
Nobody wants that. But right now, I think, you know, as Obama looks at this, his main issue really in that warning, I think, was to say don't send in the army. You know, we're talking short term, what can you do to stop the fighting? The long term is really the problem. Even if they come to some type of truce, is that really going to solve the overall long-lasting problems in Ukraine? Probably not.
COOPER: And so, Nick, at this point the army is what, still on the bases? Were the police -- the forces we've been seeing attacking protesters, those are just police?
WALSH: Yes, at this point it is riot police, the feared Berkut riot police. When we drove from the airport we saw the (INAUDIBLE) signs. I've seen the military so far, which were a couple of military trucks erecting a very ad hoc checkpoint on the way and you could easily drive around. We're not seeing them in the base.
The troubling thing at this point, Anderson, is the fact that the chief of the army was suddenly given a new job today by President Viktor Yanukovych. Not the kind of message you want to give out in the middle of a crisis like this when you're depending on your military and securities. No one was quite sure what went on there. Did he refuse to do something or did he ask to do something that Yanukovych didn't like? But still confusing signals at the top -- Anderson. COOPER: And, Nick, this is about more than the economy, I mean, about whether or not to link it to the West or link it to Russia at this point. It seems like it's kind of gone beyond that.
WALSH: I mean, like Jill was saying, this is a country that's split in two just simply geographically. The west of it seen, you know, neighbors like Poland, have an economic transformation in the past decade. The east still economically industrially tied to Russia.
This has been going on for over a decade. But it's different this time around than when it was in 2004 when everyone thought the Orange Revolution here, similar protests but not violent, had dragged the country west.
This is different because frankly back then in 2004, George Bersch was trying to fuel that move, was actually leading the charge trying to push many of the countries around Russia in a more Western direction with those colored revolutions we saw back then.
That's not happening now. The E.U. isn't really wanting to get that involved financially. The U.S. on the sidelines. This is homegrown. It's people angry at a decade of promises not fulfilled, seeing increased corruption they say around them, seeing the rest of the world moving forward. But as one Russian writer said, you know, everywhere else in the world wakes up to a fresh day, we always wake up to yesterday.
COOPER: Yes. Nick Paton Walsh, Jim Acosta, Jill Dougherty, good to have you on the program. Thank you.
For more on the story, you can go to CNN.com of course.
And up next one of the jurors in Michael Dunn's trial speaks publicly about the jury's inability to reach a decision on the top charge, first-degree murder. And Jordan Davis's aunt tells us what kind of young man he was.
Also a candidate for governor in Texas takes heat for campaigning with Ted Nugent, the musician who called President Obama a subhuman mongrel. More on that ahead.
COOPER: Tonight a juror in the Michael Dunn trial is speaking out about why they deadlocked in the most serious charge, first-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
As you know, the Florida teen was gunned down in a convenience store parking lot. An argument over loud music set things in motion.
In an interview with ABC's "Nightline" juror number four described just how heated deliberations got inside that jury room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were reports there was yelling heard coming from the deliberation room.
VALERIE, JUROR #4 MICHAEL DUNN MURDER TRIAL: Yes, there was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that about? You did some of the yelling.
VALERIE: Yes. Yes. At one point we were all trying to get our point across.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scream?
VALERIE: Oh, yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Profanity?
VALERIE: Oh, yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were passionate about their position.
VALERIE: Oh, yes, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Juror number four also said the 12 men and women in that room were deeply divided almost from the moment they began deliberating with most of the jurors in her camp believing that Dunn was guilty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Michael Dunn got away with murder?
VALERIE: At this point, I do, myself personally, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all first took your first poll on guilt or innocence on the murder of Jordan Davis, what was the vote?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten people thinking he was guilty?
VALERIE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And two said --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jordan Davis's parents who will likely watch this interview, what would you say to them?
VALERIE: I would say I am sorry, of course. Nothing will bring back their son. I hope that they feel that we didn't do them a disservice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The jury deliberating nearly 30 hours, the final vote count on the first-degree murder charge 9-3. According to juror number four, those three holdouts were convinced that Dunn acted in self- defense.
Now prosecutors are seeking a new trial. The family of Jordan Davis say they want justice. They're not giving up their fight.
Lori St. Pierre's is Jordan's aunt. They were close. They spent summers together. She joins us tonight.
Lori, what's your reaction to what the juror said? I mean, is it at all comforting to know that they struggled over reaching a verdict?
LORI ST. PIERRE, JORDAN DAVIS' AUNT: It's very comforting to know that, that in the 30 hours that they were deliberating that there was a struggle. And -- I don't know how else I can put it. You know, it's just very good to know. They did their job. They worked hard.
COOPER: The juror said that she didn't want to do a disservice to Jordan's parents.
ST. PIERRE: Yes.
COOPER: Do you feel the jury did a disservice by not finding Dunn guilty of murder?
ST. PIERRE: No, I don't. When you look at it, you know, with everything with court and everything and then 30 hours of deliberation, perhaps I could say that if they deliberated for an hour or two hours. But 30 hours I really do believe they did the best they could.
COOPER: The juror said that she felt like Michael Dunn got away with murder. That's got to be tough for you to hear.
ST. PIERRE: It's very tough. It's very tough to hear that. I know he attempted murder on those three -- on the boys. I know my nephew. She feels he got away with murder. He's going to be retried. So I don't feel I can say that he got away with it. He's going to be retried and he'll never walk out of prison again.
COOPER: Are you confident in a retrial? Do you have faith that justice will be done?
ST. PIERRE: I'm very confident. Our God is the final judge and jury and we trust him in all things. And I'm very confident that whatever the outcome, it will be the Lord's will.
COOPER: I know Jordan was close to you, close to your family, used to spend summers, holidays at your house.
ST. PIERRE: Yes.
COOPER: I don't want this man to define who your nephew was. Can you just tell us about Jordan, what you want people to know about him, remember about him?
ST. PIERRE: Well, one thing is there's been so much emphasis to the type of music that was played in the car. Well, Jordan listened to every type of music. Jordan loved dancing. He loved to make up dances. Jordan was a goof ball. He was always laughing and joking. He would even play just dance with my daughter. He just loved life and loved everyone, typical teenager, just a wonderful, wonderful kid, wouldn't hurt anybody. Places that we used to frequent all the time out here are so different now when we go because Jordan's not there.
COOPER: I'm so sorry, Lori, for your loss and the words sound so hollow, but I think a lot of people are thinking about you and thinking about your family and just wish you the best.
ST. PIERRE: Yes, thank you so much.
COOPER: Well, up next, outspoken musician, Ted Nugent, a vocal gun rights supporter who called President Obama a subhuman mongrel hits the campaign trail for a candidate for governor in Texas sparking more controversies.
COOPER: The leading Republican candidate for governor in Texas is taking some heat for campaigning alongside musician, Ted Nugent. Greg Abbott's campaign is brushing off the criticism. Here's Nugent introducing Abbott as a friend and blood brother at a campaign, but when we tried to ask him about Nugent's participation, Abbot and his aides didn't want to talk about it. They dodged the questions. We'll have more on that in a moment.
Ted Nugent, of course, is a strong supporter of the right to own a gun, and he is highly critical of those who support gun control especially President Obama. But the words he's used to describe the president are hateful and inflammatory. Listen to what he called Mr. Obama at a gun show last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN, SUPPORTER OF GUN RIGHTS: A Chicago communist- raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A subhuman mongrel. Nugent went on to call the president treasonous and a gangster who should be in jail. He also said that anyone who is not a member of the National Rifle Association is an enemy. We should point out the man he is supporting Greg Abbot is in law enforcement. He is the Texas attorney general.
Now for the past two days, we've extended an invitation to Mr. Abbott to come on the program. He's declined citing scheduling issues. So understanding his busy schedule, our Ed Lavandera went to him. Ed, what happened today?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we found Greg Abbott at a small restaurant in the town of Tyler, Texas, in East Texas, where he was making a campaign stop this morning. That's where we tried to ask him about his appearance with Ted Nugent yesterday here in the Dallas area.
We got off one question but then things turned a little tense. We'll show more of that, but this is how the interview started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's funny how reactive the Davis campaign is to this. It shows that he's driven a wedge and exposed the fraud that they've displayed on second amendment-based issues. And so Ted Nugent was a way to expose Wendy Davis for her flip-flopping on gun-related issues.
LAVANDERA: But this is Texas. Finding someone who is pro-guns is not that hard. Why does it have to be Ted Nugent?
ABBOTT: What was the question?
LAVANDERA: That was the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: So then Greg Abbott started answering some other questions from a small handful of reporters there. We were told it would be a media event so other reporters asked some questions. I tried to come back to the issue of Ted Nugent. That's when it got really tense. It ended up with the campaign communication director standing between me and Greg Abbott, getting in front of our camera. Watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Mr. Abbott, you could have found a lot of people to talk about gun rights.
ABBOTT: Thank you so much.
LAVANDERA: Mr. Abbott --
ABBOTT: I appreciate it.
LAVANDERA: You could have found a lot of people to talk about gun rights. This is not a press conference. You know that's not a press conference. One question is not a press conference. We said specifically what we wanted to talk about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You asked the question. Everybody asked a question.
LAVANDERA: That's not a press conference. You know full well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: It was interesting, the communications director, Anderson, went on to accuse me of ambushing him. I pointed out to him later on that he was the one that stepped between our camera and Greg Abbot. So we kind of left it there at that point.
COOPER: Obviously they're dodging the question, dodging you. We asked him to come on the program. He declined. Does Abbott or anyone from his campaign say why they just won't answer the questions?
LAVANDERA: Well, this is the question I think that kind of still lingers. Is Greg Abbott going to continue at some point campaigning with Ted Nugent? Will he disavow or criticize in stronger terms the comments that Ted Nugent has made? We tried one last time before he left that campaign stop to ask those questions. This is how it all ended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Mr. Abbott, will you give as you chance to clarify on Ted Nugent? Why would you associate yourself with someone who describes a sitting president as a subhuman mongrel? Has described female politicians in vile ways? Will you use him again in a campaign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: And that was it, Anderson. So Greg Abbott simply saying at this point they used Ted Nugent as a way of pointing out what they believe is Wendy Davis' flip-flopping on gun issues. And clearly they want this issue to go away. They were not happy we were asking these questions today.
COOPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, appreciate it. Thanks.
Let's get to the true politics of the story. We are joined by chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and political commentator, Ana Navarro, who is a Republican strategist.
Calling the president of the United States a subhuman mongrel and gangster just last month, should Republican candidates like Greg Abbott, I mean, should they be hanging out with this guy?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He said that he did not know that Ted Nugent had made these remarks.
COOPER: But he knows now.
NAVARRO: I think it is not hard -- he does now. I think the right thing to do frankly is for him to condemn and disavow these remarks. It's not a hard thing to do. We really should all be able to speak civilly, to campaign civilly and not resort to this kind of language. It is true that this was not said by Greg Abbott, this was said by Ted Nugent.
He did not know that he had said these things before, but when you're dealing with somebody like Ted Nugent, you know that it's likely that he has said very controversial, outrageous things. The right thing to do is to say, look, I'm not an arbiter of what Ted Nugent says.
I'm not responsible. He's endorsing me. I'm not endorsing him. But I disavow and condemn these remarks because they're just inappropriate. It's inappropriate way to talk about the president of the United States or any human.
COOPER: He's obviously not doing that because it sells tickets, not literally sells tickets, but it gets people in the door to his events, gets him attention. It plays to the hard core base.
NAVARRO: But it's also, you know, Anderson, it's also turned into an unforced political error. The Texas primary election is March 4th. Greg Abbott practically has no primary. He's going to coast to victory in those primaries. He's going to be thinking about the general and I think this puts him in a tougher position when it comes to the general. He has a comfortable lead. He can't afford many of these typed of unforced errors.
COOPER: Gloria, someone made the comparison to Bill Maher and something he said about Sarah Palin calling her a word we can't repeat on the program and going to donate to a "Super Pac" that supported President Obama. Is that a fair comparison?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it isn't. First of all, let me say and I agree with Anna on this, you've got to clean up the civil discourse on both sides. That's kind of a priority goes without saying. But I don't think it's like Bill Maher because Bill Maher was not out there standing on a stage campaigning for a candidate.
He is somebody who's donated his money on behalf of a candidate, but that's what he is allowed to do as an American citizen. He wasn't a surrogate for a candidate. He wasn't on the campaign trail. So I think it's a very different situation, because Abbott, as you just saw, is standing on the same stage with Nugent.
COOPER: Ana, I mean, the Obama campaign, I remember their response, they said, about when Bill Maher said this thing about the donation, they said, quote, "That they can't be the arbiter of every statement that everybody makes in the policy and political arena." I mean, it sounds similar to what Greg Abbott basically said.
NAVARRO: That's right. When I used those words a little earlier, it's because I had read that quote that was said not by President Obama, but by his spokesperson, Jay Carney, in relation to Bill Maher. The bottom line is that we should be fair on how we cover this on both parties and this should not be acceptable by either party.
I think that, you know, I do believe that Greg Abbott may not have known that when he said that that Ted Nugent had said these remarks, but somebody should have vetted him. Because if the Democrats were able to do awful research and come up with this in no time, certainly the people working for Greg Abbott should have known that this existed, should not have been surprised.
And again I go back to telling you this was unnecessary politically. If you were telling me that Greg Abbott was in a very close election where he should be taking a huge risk, something that's going to haunt him in the general in order to win the far right, then that makes sense. But at this point, the race he's running in Texas it makes no sense. COOPER: Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: It's not that hard to say, I stand with Ted Nugent on the second amendment, I'm offended by his language. End of story.
COOPER: All right, Ana, thanks very much. Gloria Borger as well, thanks.
Well, it's been exceptionally cold and snowy in the northeast, obviously the Midwest this winter. Warmer weather is on the way this week. Could it bring flooding and tornadoes with it, we have the latest from Chad Myers next.
COOPER: Warmer temperatures are on the way for the northeast and the Midwest, which may sound like good news obviously given how cold and snowy it's been this winter. There is a downside. All that melting snow and ice could bring some flash flooding. Meteorologist, Chad Myers, is live in the CNN Weather Center. So what do you know, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Temperatures like we haven't seen in many months. Now, Anderson, 33 in Green Bay, 37 Chicago, all warm enough to melt, even 36 Minneapolis, 36 in Duluth. There's a lot of snow on the ground. This graphic here where you the pinks and the purples up here, that is a foot of snow or more on the ground. That is going to start to melt.
Not only will it start to melt, but we'll also get some rain on top of that making it melt even faster. Look at the temperatures at this hour right now in Texas, 78 Del Rio, 72 Austin, and 69 Dallas. There's no snow down there, but this is the warm air that's going to work its way up into our forecast even for the northeast.
But when you have warm and you have cold -- and there'll be a cold front because there always is behind a warm front. If you get a low pressure, you have a warm and a cold side. You will get the potential for severe weather, 72 degrees for tomorrow in Nashville, same in charlotte, 70 in Raleigh and 61 in St. Louis.
When you get that to go like that and you get snow on one side, cold weather on the other, you get blizzard warnings here, but also down across where the snow is going to melt very quickly, flood watches as well. So we could see an awful lot of flooding coming here.
Here's how it works out for tonight. Some severe weather, but tomorrow's a bigger day. Also as we get into Friday that severe weather moves off to the east. There's the low we talk about. This is the warm side, this is the snowy side. So Minneapolis, you're above freezing now but don't get used to it. That goes away rather quickly -- Anderson.
COOPER: So a cold front then follows.
MYERS: Of course, now, this is a -- we'll call this one a cool front because it isn't insane. There's another one that comes through next Thursday, Anderson, that's going to make this thing look like a warm front. It's going to be so frigid. This is going to be 30 degrees below normal all across the east from the Rockies to the Northeast.
MYERS: Now that for you that means a morning low below zero next Thursday and Friday. This is still a week away, but all of a sudden it starts to melt, things are looking good. You know, down here paper whites are starting to pop up. Then bam, temperatures are going to be way below freezing.
COOPER: Yikes, all right, better get a winter coat. Chad, thank you very much.
Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we are following. Susan Hendricks is here with the 360 Bulletin -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in Venezuela, a show of support for jailed opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, a day after he surrendered to authorities. The government blames him for the deaths tied to anti-government street protest that have erupted in violence. A fifth person died today.
Two American security officers have been found dead on the Maersk Alabama container ship. The same vessel targeted in 2009 by Somali pirates off the east coast of Africa. The men, both former Navy SEALs were found in a cabin while the ship was at Fort Victoria in the Indian Ocean. No word on how they died.
Facebook has acquired Whatsapp for $19 billion with more than 450 million users and a million more joining each day. Whatsapp is considered the most popular messaging app for smartphones.
Take a look at 19-year-old Nate McCool, the world's strongest teen. He lifted a combined weight of 2,073 pounds at a power lifting event. That included dead lifting 800 pounds, squatting 772 pounds, and bench pressing more than 509 pounds. Anderson, it adds up to a ton. He doesn't look like a teenager, does he?
COOPER: He could snap my neck like this like a little twig.
HENDRICKS: Mine as well.
COOPER: All right, Susan, thanks very much. Congratulations to him.
Coming up a guy breaks into a police car in broad daylight on a crowded side walk, and Darth Vader was there. "The Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight we're taking you to a galaxy far, far away namely Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard to be exact where in broad daylight a guy smashed the windows of an LAPD patrol car right there, you might notice, Darth Vader was also there.
Mr. Vader just stood there watching his this guy force his way into the police car, steal a laptop and walk over to test it out at a kiosk. When you think about it makes sense. Darth Vader is a master of the dark side, a villain, so why would he actually stop a crime?
It's not like he could sneak up on the guy, poke him with a plastic light saber. That would totally give him away. On the other hand, surely Superman would take action or at least stand there while the guy got arrested by real crime fighters. He's more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings and so on. So why wouldn't Superman get involved?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the whole thing. It's not my job to jump in the middle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. So this is the part of Hollywood Boulevard where the costume characters hang out. If you've seen the documentary "Confessions of a Superhero" you know they're not there to jump in the middle of sketchy situations, there to take photos with tourists for tips. There's a very strict unwritten code of conduct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just remember, superheroes don't smoke. It's an image.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ghost rider.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Ghost Rider doesn't smoke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's made of fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But still, he doesn't smoke cigarettes. You'll never see Ghost Rider smoking a cigarette walking down the street. It's just not proper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I want 30 seconds of my life back. On the day in question, Superman may not have swooped in, but he did give the local news a pretty detailed account of what happened when the guy got arrested.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So his face was on Susan Lucci's star.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when they actually started take him down back here. But like I was saying earlier, he was resisting arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a three-star pursuit then.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually it's a good line up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: His face was on Susan Lucci's star. Here's the problem. I've always said this. Don't send Superman to do what is clearly a job for Letterman. Remember the electric company?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stronger than silent e, able to leap capital t in a single bound. It's a word, it's a plan, it's Letterman! Taking a w from his chest, he covers up the d-r and turns the dragon back a wagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So if Letterman was there, he could have turned the alleged vandal into an alleged sandal. Letterman would not stand there like some inaction hero on "The Ridiculist."
That does it for us. We'll see you one hour from now, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, another edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.