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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Changes to Food-Nutrition Labels; Brewer Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill; Hillary Responds to Question About White House Run; Uprisings in Venezuela; Michelle Obama Speaks

Aired February 27, 2014 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The way you eat, what you eat and what you know about it, changing @ THIS HOUR, a big announcement that would revolutionize your diet.

So what does Joe know? The surprising report that people in Joe Biden's inner circle think that Hillary Clinton will not run for president.

Recognition has its upside, its downside and you may say its backside, Pippa Middleton with words you will never forget about the look you will never forget.

Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. Michaela is on the road today.

It is 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m. out West, those stories and more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

And, right now, at the White House, you're looking at live pictures. This is where the first lady, Michelle Obama, any minute from now, will be announcing major changes to food-nutrition labels.

These are changes that the government hopes will make it a lot easier for you to read those labels and make healthy choices.

And in just a moment, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will show us how serving sizes and calorie counts are getting a complete and total overhaul.

Elsewhere at the White House, a wary eye this morning on Russia, as it deploys its military to Ukraine's doorstep. Dozens of gunmen today seized a parliament building in Ukraine's southern region and raised a Russian flag. You can see it there.

Ukrainians are bitterly torn between old ties to Moscow and a future more closely aligned with the United States and also the West.

A Russian warship has docked in Havana in Cuba. It's reportedly armed with guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Now, Russian warships have visited Cuba in the past. Last summer, there were two. But unlike the previous visit, Cuban authorities have not explained this ship's mission.

South Korea says the North has fired four, short-range missiles into the sea. It's not clear if this has anything to do with the South Korean and U.S. military exercises that are going on.

Pyongyang has complained about the drills. No word if the missiles were aimed toward the area where those drills are happening.

Arizona's governor says no to the controversial religious freedom bill that would have allowed businesses to close their doors to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. Here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated.

The bill is broadly worded and could result in negative consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, several other states are considering similar bills, including Georgia, Idaho, Missouri and Ohio.

This Texas Republican state senator who is against same-sex marriage sent out a tweet, hours before Governor Brewer vetoed the bill. Dan Patrick said -- look at this -- "Marriage equals one man and one man. Enough of these activist judges," he wrote.

He soon realized his mistake, and he retweeted, "Marriage equals one man and one woman."

His spokesman says Patrick did not personally send the tweets, also adds that no one will be fired for the mis-tweet, as it were.

But @ THIS HOUR, the big announcement is at the White House. If you're the kind of person who's constantly reading food labels when you go to the grocery store, this news may change your life, for real.

The FDA is proposing the first upgrade to nutrition labels in 20 years. The government wants to change what a serving size is and making it easier and make it make more sense when you read those calorie counts.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Vani Hari from FoodBabe.com join me right now. And, first, Sanjay, I'm hoping you'll give us a show-and-tell to explain exactly how these food labels are changing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So I wanted to show you that, and also remind you that in 1990, as you mentioned, when the food labels became mandatory, before that there voluntary. So, this is a big shift, as you point out, John.

But basically, the way to characterize this is the information that people are really looking for when they do look at these labels, they want to emphasize those things, things that they think are going to be very pertinent to one's health.

So, take a look, currently and the proposed one. This is not done yet, but this is proposed. The first thing you probably see right away, calories jumps out at you, 230. That's a number that people want.

There's also other things people really want to make sure people to get quickly. Added sugar is something because that is a thing we've talked more and more about and its impact on health, and also things like Vitamin D. Many Americans are deficient invite Vitamin D.

But overall, it's to make things a bit easier to read. Also, John, you look at these numbers and you look at the number, you think, Oh, this isn't not so bad. And then you look closely later on, you say, Well, it's eight servings in this one little thing.

They want to sort of address that issue as well. If someone is going to eat an entire thing at one sitting, for example, potato chips, they want to make sure that you get the not only the per-serving information, but the whole package, knowing that if you're going to eat the whole package, you should have that information, John.

BERMAN: They are taking the math out of it. I think a lot of people have looked at these food labels and tried to do the math in their head to figure out how many calories they're eating. You just can't get there. These seems to make a lot more sense.

So, Vani, do you think this will change the way we all eat?

VAN HARI, CREATOR, FOODBABE.COM: I really don't, unfortunately.

I think it adds another layer of transparency, especially the add sugar guideline, because things like oatmeal, pasta sauce and yogurt, things that you think are healthy, do have a lot of added sugar, so it's going to be nice to see that on the label.

But what we need to do as a nation is actually address the ingredients in our food supply, and the thousands of ingredients that the FDA has allowed in our food supply for several decades but are not reviewing.

And a lot of these and chemical ingredients are banned in different countries and linked to these issues that we're facing as a nation, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity.

So, Americans really need to move away from looking at the calorie count and really looking at the ingredients they are purchasing.

For example, one of the things we do not know in this country is whether our food has been genetically engineered.

Over 60 countries have this right, and we as U.S. citizens deserve that right, as well.

So, we need to learn more about the food that we're putting in our body.

BERMAN: Sanjay, Vani is talking about the added sugar, which will now be listed on these labels, at least that's in the proposal.

Explain exactly what that means and what you think when we see that number, when we see it. GUPTA: Well, it's interesting, because a lot of people don't know, for example, how much sugar is too much.

And to Vani's point, there's a lot more information they could potentially provide but part of the problem is people get overwhelmed with this information, so they are trying to simplify this.

But with regard to added sugar, they want to make sure that what is actually sugar that has been added into this as opposed to just sugar that is just part of the food itself.

For example, fruit has a certain amount of sugar in it, but doesn't have added sugar in it.

Some people want to take it even a step further, John, and say, How much sugar is that as compared to how much you should be taking in any given day.

And what you find is that a single serving of many different foods, you will actually see 200 percent, 300 percent of what you should be taking.

So it's an extra beat. It brings your conscious mind on track for another minute to really figure out what you're eating.

BERMAN: Vani, this comes during what is really a big week in nutrition. We learned just yesterday from this study that the obesity rates -- oh, we just lost Vani, but I'll ask you, Sanjay.

Obesity rates among kids, two to five, have dropped in a big way over the last 10 years.

This is the fourth anniversary of the Let's Move campaign. Are we having a moment here? Is this a tipping point in American health, do you think?

GUPTA: John, I've been doing this job for 12 years. I never get to report good news when it comes to obesity, so, yeah, this is probably the first time where we're seeing some definitive, consistent, reliable numbers that show that we've actually made some improvement.

So, yeah, I think it is a bit of a pivot point, and all these things that we talk about, regarding, you know, the amount of time that children should be playing, nutritional advice, and the labeling and all this, probably makes some impact.

I'll give you one small example. They have labeling in fast-food restaurants, John. I know you're a frequenter of fast-food restaurants.

I don't know how many people actually read the labels in those places, but for the people who do, they find that it can actually -- about 10 to 20 calories or so, you'll order less per meal when looking at those labels.

That may not be that much, but it could make a difference. BERMAN: I was at an airport with Sanjay, and Sanjay eats only eats healthy things. And I went to the fast-food place.

I got every kind of sausage fast-food available, over about a 20 minute period, so he has seen me do it.

Sanjay, thank you very much.

When the first lady makes the announcement, that's coming up any minute, we will bring it to you live.

In the meantime, ahead @ THIS HOUR, Hillary Clinton hits the swing states. It sure looks like a campaign, but the shocking new report that says key advisers to Joe Biden do not believe that Hillary Clinton will run.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: In Washington @ THIS HOUR, a birthday celebration, the tea party movement turns five today, and supporters are holding a big bash.

Speakers include Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Michele Bachmann, all Republicans lawmakers in tea party favorites.

Now, this movement has been a force in American politics and really looks to shake up the Republican primary season here in 2014.

As for 2016, on the Democratic side, there are two people making really interesting news today. No, neither Hillary Clinton nor Joe Biden actually announced whether they were running for president or not.

However, the vice president gave a revealing -- you might say surprising revealing -- interview to "Politico" that raises big questions.

And Hillary Clinton is out on the road, or is it the trail, with events that sure look like a campaign.

In Miami yesterday, Mrs. Clinton was asked, now that she had been out of the government for more than a year and had time to ponder her next move, what did that "TBD" you see in her Twitter bio stand for?

Take a listen to her rely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I'd really like to. But I have no characters left. I will certainly ponder that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: No characters left? A likely story.

Let's bring in Ana Navarro, a CNN political commentator, former Republican strategist, and Glenn Thrush, senior writer at "Politico Magazine."

Ana, I want to start with you. You were at the Hillary Clinton event in Miami.

Now, I know you are a Republican strategist and are not likely to vote for Hillary under any circumstances.

But I'm wondering, to your trained political ears, did it sound like she's a candidate?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Actually, it didn't, John. I left there feeling that she was really no better a candidate in 2012 -- you know, in 2014 than she was in 2008.

This was, to put it in context, a paid speech where the crowd was very sympathetic towards her. It was moderated by Donna Shalala, who's the U.M. president, but also a long life-friend of Hillary Clinton.

She got asked four questions that had been hand-picked and filtered by Donna Shalala. The press was nowhere around, nowhere near her, and it was a very protected environment.

This is very far from what a town hall in New Hampshire, Iowa, or any of the early primary states look like. And, frankly, I was struck sitting there by how measured, how cautious she was and the fact that she doesn't connect with young people nearly to the same level that her husband did or that Barack Obama does. They would have had that room vibrating. I found it quite uninspirational.

BERMAN: Interesting to hear that. And that may play into what we're going to hear from Glenn Thrush. Because, Glenn, you wrote an article which went up in "Politico" overnight, a really, really interesting profile of Joe Biden. He sat down with him, interviewed him on an Amtrak train.

And you heard about this retreat that was attended by all sorts of Joe Biden insiders. And they went to this retreat and the people with Joe Biden came out saying this. You wrote this. "The others at the Biden retreat came away feeling that Clinton would ultimately decide not to run." But insiders telling you they believed Biden -- that Hillary Clinton would decide not to run. Do they really feel that way or is it wishful thinking, do you think, Glenn?

GLENN THRUSH, SENIOR WRITER, "POLITICO": You know, it's funny, since I wrote that, I've gotten a couple of e-mails asking me if there was there a lot of smoke present in that particular room and what kind of smoke that might have been.

But I really do think there is a sense that both Biden and his team have. And this comes from Biden's personal interactions with then secretary of State Clinton. Those two had a standing breakfast every Tuesday in Biden's residence, and sources close to Biden told me that Hillary often talked about this marble -- this white marble prism of the White House and how reluctant she was to go through the same kind of ordeal that she endured in 2008. It's the same kind of thing that Ana quickly picked up in Hillary's performance down there in Florida. Look, you know, this is going to be a really tough decision for Clinton. I really don't think she's made up her mind, but I also think that the Biden folks are, to some extent, telling themselves what they want to hear.

BERMAN: And Ana, at this event last night, you were particularly perplexed by be a answer that Mrs. Clinton gave about Venezuela. Let's listen to that right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Venezuela is a difficult situation because it is a country that is not being well governed, and it's a democracy. No one would argue that it isn't, but a democracy doesn't just mean an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You had an issue with that, Ana?

NAVARRO: Well, I would -- yeah, listen, I would argue that it's not a democracy, and I think a lot of people in Venezuela today, certainly all those hundreds of thousands of protesters would argue that it's not a democracy. Let's remember that Nicolas Maduro was Hugo Chavez's vice president. Hugo Chavez gets re-elected while he's in the midst of cancer treatment, never even swears in, dies a little bit later.

So this was a complete violation of the constitution. Maduro stays in, then Maduro goes up for election, gets elected by 1 percent in an election that was fraught with irregularities and fraud.

But what really surprised me was Donna Shalala served this up to her as a softball by saying to her, "There's a lot of Venezuelan students here." And again, she was very cautious and measured in what she said. I almost got the feeling she didn't want to get ahead of the Obama administration.

At no point did she express solidarity with the students that are marching in Venezuela. At no point did she recognize or acknowledge the 16 people that have been killed by Maduro in the last two weeks. At no point did she condemn that violence and the killings by the Maduro government or ask for that to stop. I was very surprised that she missed an opportunity to hit it out of the ballpark in front of that audience in Miami.

BERMAN: Again, let me add that Ana is, of course, a Republican strategist, You might get different response from some of the Democrats who were no doubt in the audience there. But, Glenn, I want to turn to you finally about Joe Biden again --

THRUSH: I want to hear more of Ana.

BERMAN: In that interview with Joe Biden and talking to Biden's advisers, you picked up some signs to me that almost read as a bit of trash talking about Hillary Clinton.

You write that Biden has been telling friends that he thinks he's the most qualified, and you say that's a clear reference to Clinton, according to three of them that you spoke to. Is that trash talking?

THRUSH: No. I don't think it's trash talking. I think Biden honestly believes that he's as equipped as Hillary Clinton to be president. You know, they clashed on some foreign policy issues. And one of the interesting elements here is, anybody who is going to challenge Hillary, if anyone decides to challenge Hillary, is going to have to come at her from the left. And Biden views himself as more of a progressive candidate than Hillary Clinton. There's no doubt about that. That's what he's told people.

In fact, one of the interesting revelations that I came across was that Biden thinks of himself as being fundamentally more progressive than President Obama. So to a certain extent, I think that Biden really believes in his heart of hearts that he's just as qualified as Hillary, although he doesn't have the infrastructure, the money, or the people.

BERMAN: You said flat out say he told you that he thinks he is more populous than President Obama, which is --

THRUSH: Right.

BERMAN: -- very, very interesting.

All right, Glenn Thrush, Ana Navarro, great to have you here @ THIS HOUR. Appreciate you both being here.

NAVARRO: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Please come back often.

THRUSH: Take care.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, listen up, men, your biological clocks are ticking. This is an alarming new study showing that older fathers were more likely to have children with autism and other conditions. We will talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about this study next.

And you can't look away. Try. Try. You can't. You can't look away. But wait until you hear what Pippa Middleton now says about the dress that rocked an empire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back. You can see here the first lady, Michelle Obama, approaching the podium at the White House, about to make a big announcement on changes to food labeling. Let's listen.

(BEGIN LIVE COVERAGE)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to start by thanking Chenise (ph) for that very kind introduction and for her wonderful remarks. Let me just say, Chenise, when we heard in the back that you were a grandmother, everybody was like, "Really? She's a grandmother?" We thought you were a teenager.

(LAUGHTER)

Really. See what eating healthy does?

(LAUGHTER)

But it's great to have you here. Thank you so much for working so hard to keep your family in shape and healthy. We're very proud of you, very proud of you.

I also want to thank Secretary Sebelius and Commissioner Hamburg for their outstanding leadership as well as your entire teams; it takes a whole lot of people to get all of this done, and we are grateful for you all, your leadership, and for their efforts. Thank you so much for being here today.

(APPLAUSE)

And we are also joined by one of my dear friends and a fabulous advocate, Rachel Ray. Rachel, where -- Rachel, there you are!

(APPLAUSE)

Rachel Ray, who has done so much work for Let's Move. Yes. Thank you, Rachel. We're going to do something fun shortly, right? You ready? All right, I'll wear my flat shoes for you.

(LAUGHTER)

And, of course, I want to thank all of you, the parents, the advocates, the industry leaders who worked so hard to make this day possible. Congratulations. This is a good day. It's a great announcement.

And back when we first launched Let's Move four years ago, all of us here today were driven by a simple belief that parents deserve to have the information they need to make healthy choices for their kids.

And this isn't a particularly radical idea. In fact, it seems pretty obvious, but the truth is that too often it's nearly impossible to get the most basic facts about the food we buy for our families.

For example, how many of you have, at some point in your life, made a statement that you were going to eat better? Maybe you wanted to lose a little weight. Maybe you wanted to improve your family's nutrition. Maybe there were health issues in your family that required you to watch what you ate.

Whatever the reason, you resolved to read those labels and only buy foods that you believed that would be good for you and your kids. So you marched into the supermarket. You picked up a can or box of something. You squinted at that little, tiny label, and you were totally and utterly lost. So there you stood alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the little precious time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered and wonder, "Is this too much sugar in this product? It's 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good or bad thing?"

(LAUGHTER)

"And how on earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings?" This stream of questions and worries running through your head when all you really wanted to know was, "Should I be eating this or not? Is this good for my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how much of if should I be eating?"

But unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated. And you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy.

And that's a familiar scenario for far too many families and parents trying to do the right thing for their kids, and it's simply not acceptable. As consumers and as parents, we have a right to understand what's in the food we're feeding our families because that's really the only way that we can make informed choices, by having clear, accurate information. And ultimately, that's what today's announcement is all about.

As you've heard today, for the first time since the nutrition label was developed two decades ago, we are overhauling these labels to make them easier to read and understand. And this is a major undertaking involving folks from across the country, from the FDA to the food industry to advocates throughout communities in this country.

Because a lot has changed in the past 20 years. Just consider all of the new information we've learned about nutrition and healthy eating during that time period, not to mention, this label appears on roughly 700,000 products.

But in the end, our guiding principle here is simple, that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into a grocery store, pick an item off the shelf and tell whether it's good for your family. To achieve this goal --

(END LIVE COVERAGE)

BERMAN: All right, we're listening to the first lady, Michelle Obama, talking about proposed NEW changes to the food labeling. These changes are going to be including changing things from how many calories are in a serving size to how many calories are in the package. There's also going to be listings for added sugars. There's also going to be more realistic serving sizes. These are very big changes for anyone who looks at food labels, and the first lady is making it clear, this is so these are easier to read and understand and she says make healthy choices.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been listening to this with me. And Sanjay, she said something which I thought was very funny. She said we go into the store, we look at these labels, and we wonder, "Is 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or bad thing?" GUPTA: Right, and I'm not even sure I know the answer to that. I'm a doctor who pays attention to this sort of thing. It's interesting. I mean, they're complicated, and I think it's like calculus for a lot of people. They would as soon have somebody do that for them.

But it's interesting, when you look at these labels, there's two things that sort of jump out. One, I think it's going to be easier to read. You can take a look there. And the numbers that you really want to know, you see quickly. Calories, 230. Calories from fat, calories from something else, and you have to do the math. How many calories is in this?

But also the other thing, John, is interesting is you see a little bit more of a reflection of the way Americans eat. Right? So if you take a look at a carton of ice cream, some of those cartons of ice cream would say 12 servings in this little carton of ice cream, but we know that really people can eat that in four or five servings. So let's just be honest about what a serving is in America today and show that.

Now, this is proposed, John. This is not done. So there's a 90-day open comment period on this, and you can be sure that both citizen advocate groups as well as the food industry are still going to weigh in on this.

BERMAN: The key is, you know, show many calories are in this package that I'm really about to eat, not some serving size that was made up by somebody 20 years ago. It's making it easier to understand.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. And of course, do not forget to make an appointment with Sanjay every weekend for Sanjay Gupta M.D. Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and Sunday at 7:30 in the morning. That, of course, right here on CNN. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, so he's got three years left in his term, but hear what advisers say the president might do after he is president and how it could change millions of lives.

Plus, the soldier who dodged the salute and the selfie that has set off has set off an investigation and an internet firestorm. Stay with us.

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