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Death Toll Rising In Ukraine; Crisis In Venezuela; Billions In Funding For Nuclear Power; "Hot Pockets" Recall; Nugent: Obama Is "Subhuman Mongrel"; George P. Bush Running For Office; Ice Dancers Open Up To CNN; Sixers Special Signing

Aired February 19, 2014 - 07:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's half past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines. Ukraine's capitol city is smoldering this morning. Showing you some live pictures of smoke rising in Kiev. More than two dozen people have now been killed in violent anti-government protests. Ukraine's Russian-backed president is now banning all protests and he says he'll use all means necessary to restore order. French and Polish leaders have now called for sanctions against Ukraine.

To Venezuela where opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez is expected to appear in court this morning after he surrendered to government security forces. He is facing charges of murder and conspiracy in connection with recent violence. Tens of thousands of anti-government protestors have been in the street demanding the resignation of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. There have also been large demonstrations supporting the regime.

New this morning, the Energy Department is set to approve billions of dollars in loans to build the first nuclear power plant in the U.S. in decades. The Associated Press reports $6.5 billion in federal dollars will be put into the $14 billion project in Georgia. It's considered a test of whether plans can be built without delays and cost overruns that plagued construction back in the 1970s.

Nestle is voluntarily recalling two of its hot pocket products, the Philly Steak and Croissant Crust Philly Steak varieties. The company says the products may contain meat from Rancho Feeding Corporation, which is recalling nearly 9 million pounds of beef that regulators say came from diseased and unsound animals. So far, no illnesses have been reported.

Check this out. A couple of brazen thieves smashed their car into a gas station in Texas, all for some beer. It happened Tuesday near Houston. The surveillance video shows the two masked men backing into the front door, smashing through the glass. Within seconds, they grabbed an 18-pack of beer before getting back into their car and speeding off.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Stupid is as stupid does.

This morning, anger over a candidate's rally because Ted Nugent was a part of it, the controversial rocker was the star attraction at the rally for Texas gubernatorial candidate, Greg Abbot, and Nugent did not disappoint. He called President Obama a subhuman mongrel, all right. Even with an ugly game of politics, there's got to be a line somewhere and this must have crossed it.

So let's discuss. We have two of our favorite CNN political commentators here to break this down, Ana Navarro on the right and Paul Begala on the left. Good to have you both. One of the reasons we love you is because you're not talking heads. You've actually worked in politics. You actually know people.

So let's step aside from Nugent just for a moment because that should be a no brainer or least I hope it is, Ana, and let's talk about the new George Bush, George P. Bush. This guy looks good. He sounds good. He's Hispanic. He's white. He's talking the right thing. He is getting into politics now. Tell me about this guy.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know him personally.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He looks good. He sounds good. He is good.

CUOMO: What do you got, Ana. I don't want to hear from Paul.

NAVARRO: I've known George P. since he was a kid. P as we call him. He is, as we heard, Jeb's boy. I know they are incredibly proud of him. He's really done this by himself. When you are Jeb Bush's son, you don't get anything on a silver platter. I think all his children will tell you that. He started by working in a very rough and poor area in Miami as public school teacher. That was his professional career.

He's moved on. He moved to Texas. He fell in love with a Texan and it turns out he felt Texan through and through. Paul could talk about his Texan roots and he's doing this in a really refreshing way. He's going all over the place in Texas on that bus tour with his own agenda.

I'm very proud of him. And let me remind people in Texas, early voting as begun in Texas. It began yesterday. So I hope that if you're Republican, you go out there and you support George P. Bush.

CUOMO: And he's not working it on the name, right, because it got real estate roots so obviously the Texas Land Commission, that's what they deal with, is real estate transactions. So he's going to have a record walking into it even though he is still a young man. All right, so that's the good news for the Republicans.

Here's the bad news, really, really, Ana? Ted Nugent, he calls the president a subhuman mongrel and you're going to keep him out on the campaign trail? I know it's an ugly game. I know the line moves all the time more than the red line in Syria. But come on, isn't this too much?

NAVARRO: Look, I think there is nothing difficult or hard about condemning the things that Ted Nugent has said. I find them really unacceptable. I think that is no way to refer to any human being, much less somebody who is holding the office of the president of the United States. If not for respect for the person, respect for the office as he is all of our presidents.

That being said, Chris, this happens in politics. I'll tell you. Bill Maher, for example, who was somebody that the "Super PAC" that Paul was helping to run, he said some very, very vial things about people, about women, people like Sarah Palin, like Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. He donated a million bucks to that PAC to help support President Obama.

What did President Obama, what did his spokesperson say then? We don't condone what he said, but we are not the arbiters of everything that anybody says in the public policy or politics arena.

CUOMO: I think pointing at the other side here is the wrong tactic. They suck too? This is no good when you're calling the president of the United States a subhuman mongrel.

NAVARRO: Be fair here. I'm not just pointing at the other side. I'm saying that what he said is wrong, that I don't condone it that I condemn it. There is nothing difficult about saying that those words should not be used about any human much less the president of the United States.

CUOMO: I grant you that. I grant you that.

NAVARRO: But I'm also saying that this happens and you know, politicians are not usually held responsible for what some of the entertainers mostly who say outrageous things and are supporting them say. This was not said at the rally. It was said months before, as I understand it.

And this was about the second amendment, so do I like it? Not a bit. Do I think Greg Abbott should come out and say I don't condone and I condemn that use of language about the president of the United States? Absolutely. Do I think this reflects on Greg Abbott? No, and I don't think --

CUOMO: See, that's the part I don't get. Paul, get in here. How does it not reflect on Abbott when the guy said it and you still bring him out there?

BEGALA: Right. When you put him at a Greg Abbott rally, then Abbott is endorsing -- obviously Mr. Nugent is endorsing Greg Abbott. Good for him. By the way, it's important. In fact, it does apply to washed up rock 'n' rollers, the first year of the Carter presidency. No talent bozo. He has a right, even to be that offensive.

It's Greg Abbott's responsibility I think to not put him in front of a sign that says Abbott for governor. That's the problem for Greg Abbott is that he is really appealing to I think the worst of my beloved Texas. There are a lot of great Texas musicians Abbott could travel around with. He does not need this loser.

CUOMO: Got to change the game. I mean, I hear what Ana is saying about Bill Maher, that you know, he can some objectionable things, at some point, don't we have to change the game here? Doesn't there have to be a new standard of decency? What we are seeing in Washington, it's all about blame. It's all about negativity is a proxy for insight. Now we're going to explain this away? Too much.

NAVARRO: Absolutely. I think we have to change the civil discourse. I think we have to change the way we talk to each other and the anger that is displayed in politics and begin from there and also in the media. You know, I just don't think that we can discuss serious issues. And the issue getting lost here is the discussion over the second amendment and where Greg Abbott stands where Wendy Davis stands on these issues.

Do I think Greg Abbott needed to bring out Ted Nugent? No. He's going to win the primary. He's got to start thinking about the general election against Wendy Davis, which is slightly closer though he's still leading by a comfortable margin. But absolutely I agree with you. We have got to be careful. We have got to be civil with each other.

CUOMO: Go ahead, Paul, give me a last word.

BEGALA: Let me defend my friend, Bill Maher from whom I proudly took a million dollars for the "super PAC" I advised. I think it was a huge difference between a self-professed potty mouth comic in his act using bad language even some language that I strongly disapprove of. I don't think people should talk particularly about women the way that Ana remind us that Sarah Palin was commented about.

But that's an act. It's a comic and he's a potty-mouth economic on a network that I think CNN is affiliated with, HBO, where they encouraged bad language. Very different -- by the way, he never appeared at an Obama rally. In fact, David Axelrod, the president's chief advisor wouldn't even go on Bill's show.

I did. I probably do. I hope I go again. I like Bill, but there's a difference then between Ted Nugent, who know you are going to get and putting him at a rally with Greg Abbott's logo behind him. You know what he's going to say. I think if you're a smart politician, I'm sure you always want support from wherever you get it, but I wouldn't put him up there with my logo up there and my guy.

CUOMO: Paul, Ana, thank you very much --

NAVARRO: By the way, Paul, I was on Bill Maher's show with David Axelrod the week after the election. Can we just -- with we just -- you know, the three of us stop making excuses for whether they're on HBO or whether they're on a stage for what Ted Nugent or Bill Maher says. Let's stop making excuses. It is unacceptable the way that --

CUOMO: I hear you. We'll start --

NAVARRO: -- about President Obama.

BEGALA: There's no false equivalency here. Ted Nugent is nothing like Bill Maher. CUOMO: I hate that phrase false equivalency, by the way. I get beat up about that from the left all the time. We'll start with us. You both made excuses for you guys. Let's stop here right here today and I'll do my best to keep you honest on it. Thank you, Ana Navarro. Thank you, Paul Begala, always a pleasure -- Kate.

NAVARRO: Thank you, Chris Cuomo.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the dynamic ice dancing team that has captivated the world on the biggest sports stage. How much work really goes into those gold medal performances? They're going to tell us coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Gold medal winners, Meryl Davis and Charlie White wowed the world at the Olympics. But what may surprise you is that the ice dancing pair, they've been skating together for almost 20 years at this point. They sat down with our Rachel Nichols to tell their stories. Rachel is live in Sochi with that. So long time to be skating together, Rachel.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. They showed their two moms giving each other a huge hug after they finished their gold medal winning performance. You know, all the moms out there I'm sure can imagine all the hours of practices those two moms had to sit in the rink and watch their kids over 17 years of working together. But it all paid off and they were charming when they chatted with us. Take a look.


NICHOLS: I know you guys visualize every part of your routine, every moment. Did you visualize after you win a gold medal?

MERYL DAVIS, ICE DANCING GOLD MEDALIST: No, absolutely not. Charlie and I have been saying we were so well prepared for the programs, so well for what it was we were going to do on the ice. But kind of the aftermath of our performances was very new, uncharted territory for us and we're just kind of taking it one step at a time and as athletes, we've really planned so much of our lives that we're just trying to enjoy this moment.

NICHOLS: Most people can't imagine working one on one with the same person for 17 years.

DAVIS: Yes, it's a really unique relationship. We have a hard time comparing it to anything else. I think that, as I said, we had a really great foundation from the start. Then from that foundation getting to grow up together and experience so much of our lives together has really only enhanced that foundation that we started with.

NICHOLS: Visa has this great commercial that shows video of you guys as kids. It's amazing. The story is you were so shy as a kid you couldn't really look at him and that your coach had to put a sticker on your forehead?

CHARLIE WHITE, ICE DANCING GOLD MEDALIST: That's right. We were both very shy kids.

NICHOLS: You were 8, 9 years old, right?

WHITE: But we loved what we did and we wanted to do anything we could to improve. So I put it right on my forehead so she didn't have to concentrate looking at my eyes. She could focus on that.

DAVIS: Didn't actually have to --


NICHOLS: That's important when you're 9 years old.

DAVIS: I grew out of that not so quickly, but eventually.

NICHOLS: You've had this amazing rivalry with the Canadian champions. They won the gold medal in Vancouver. You won the silver. Flip-flop here. It's gone back and forth, and that you guys have pushed each other. What has that been like over the past four years?

WHITE: It's really helped us as a team. I think having such amazing skaters and our close rivals training with us. You know, we see them in practice every day. They're so talented. We always felt like we could never take a day off.


NICHOLS: Guys, I love that sticker story. Chris, if you ever have trouble getting Kate to look you in the eye, maybe stick a sticker on your forehead and you really kind of come together.

BOLDUAN: You just stole my idea. I thought that would be great. We're going to put a sticker right in the middle of his forehead and then we'll actually look at him.

CUOMO: And what would it say, the sticker.

BOLDUAN: Well, depends on my mood.

CUOMO: That's right. Just say her name. If it has her name she will stare at it all day long.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Rachel. What a wonderful story. They are two wonderful people. Just great, gold for them.

CUOMO: Really a life long relationship they've had.

BOLDUAN: It's 17 years they have been skating together.

CUOMO: Not only did they nail the gold but the best ever.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a very special signing by the Philadelphia 76ers, this is when sport is about something even greater. NBA team so determined when a young man aboard was so special. We'll tell you the story.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Basketball fans might tell you the most significant acquisition that the 76ers ever made was Julius Irving a.k.a. Dr. J. Well, even the doctor would have to say he's been eclipsed by the latest acquisition. The NBA team just signed 18- year-old Kevin Grow, who has downs syndrome. He has a celebratory contract. He has the team something truly special. Nischelle Turner is here with the story.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Let me set this one up for. So many little boys have dreams of playing in the NBA. But this is a story of a dream come true for one of the most deserving young men ever.


ANNOUNCER: Number 33, Kevin!

TURNER: Meet the new break out star of the Philadelphia 76ers. Already a fan favorite and the center of the team huddle. His name is Kevin Grow. Before he was free agent, the 18-year-old with down syndrome was already a star player. For four years, Kevin was the manager of the Bensalem High School basketball team.

The 2 minutes remaining in the final game of the season, Kevin coach took him off the bench and put him in the game. He scored four 3- pointers knocking in this buzzer beater. After the play went viral, it was only a matter of time before the pros came calling. The Sixers signed Kevin to a ceremonial two-day contract with the team.

BRETT BROWN, HEAD COACH, PHILADELPHIA SIXERS: I know you can shoot, but you can play defense too?


BROWN: I say we give him a three-day contract.

TURNER: Kevin hit the court for team practice, sporting his new custom jersey, scoring extra points with fans and family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joy and love that he brings is just incredible.


TURNER: If that doesn't make you smile there's something wrong. The viral video got more than a half million hits. His mother said most kids do want to be professional athletes, but when you have child with a disability, what really are the chances of that happening? So she said allowing Kevin to be a part of this meant so much to him and also showed is that they can just simply dream big and not let the disability stop it.

BOLDUAN: I love this story. It should mean so much to everyone around him, everyone on that team, any fan, anyone who is touched by it.

TURNER: We were saying kid's got a shot.

CUOMO: There is no question. If they shoot threes he's not going to come in last on that team. He's got a good shot.

TURNER: Go Kevin.

CUOMO: That was great.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Nischelle. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to take you inside the jury room on the trial we've been talking so much about the loud music jury trial. Juror number four speaking out. Why she believes Michael Dunn should have been convicted of murder.