Return to Transcripts main page


President Opens Up About His Father, Drugs And Race; Supreme Court Secretly Recorded

Aired February 27, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, the president gets personal about race in America talking about growing up without a father, getting high and the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Jordan's mother joins us live.

Plus the former head of the CIA warns Vladimir Putin may be on the verge of going to the extreme. Will he use military force? We have the interview.

And Greg Abbott finally responds to our interview with Ted Nugent. Will the Texas gubernatorial candidate ever campaign with Nugent, again? He answered. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, President Obama on race. The president launching an initiative, one that's very personal to him, about young men of color. Something very rare happened today as the president was speaking. He actually talked about growing up without a father figure.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn't have a dad in the house and I was angry about it, even though I didn't necessarily realize it at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn't always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses.

After I was finished the guy sitting next to me said, are you talking about you? I said, yes. And the point was I could see myself in these young men and the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving.


BURNETT: The new initiative that the president is launching is called "My Brother's Keeper." There is going to be foundations and businesses that have now pledged to donate about $200 million over five years to aid young men of color. We are going to much more on that amount of money and whether it's significant or not with Tavis Smily in a few minutes.

But Don Lemon was in the room as the president spoke. Don, what more did he say? What was the feeling? He doesn't usually doesn't get so personal. I mean, he's usually rather insulated and rather removed. This was a very different man we saw today.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: He's been criticized at times and it was a very different man we saw today. Very emotional man. He was very candid. And many said, you know what, it's about time. Today, quite frankly, many in black America will say that Barack Obama became the black president today. He became a president who is African-American, obviously, but he became the person that many people wanted him to be.

Many of those who criticized him. What they wanted to hear from him. They wanted him to say so much for so long about how to help young men of color. He was a person to do it and today he did it. And as I stood here not too long ago with Magic Johnson, the famous Magic Johnson, he really put it into perspective. He said it felt like we were in church today. It did.

You knew sitting in that room or standing in that room that history was being made. That there was something that was going to be different about this particular initiative, not only from the president, but from the people who were sitting in the room. Trayvon Martin's family, among them, and Jordan Davis' family, as well.

BURNETT: And, Don, before you go, interesting. Back in 2012, "Black Enterprise" magazine interviewed the president. At that time, he said, quote, "I'm not the president of Black America. I'm the president of the United States of America." Do you think that because he's finishing out his second term, he finally feels that he can embrace that and do you think, what do you think about the fact that at that time he was so hesitant to be defined that way?

LEMON: I think that he can embrace it and I think that, you know, that was the moment in the skin he was living in, right. That he felt that I must be the president of all of America and he is. But he can be the president of black America and be the president of all America. He can be the president of white America and be the president of all America because at certain points in certain times, people need to be helped. Some of us need help at any particular time.

Like the banking industry needed help at a particular time. That didn't make him the president of the banking industry. Like the auto industry needed help at some point, that didn't make him the president of the auto industry. But people evolve and the president has evolved, I believe, and now he feels a certain freedom now that he is in his second term and he's thinking about legacy here.

BURNETT: Don Lemon, thank you very much. Don is going to have a special program tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. "My Brother's Keeper" a special on this initiative.

The president's initiative comes two years ago to the week that Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old teen was gunned down by George Zimmerman. A number of parallels were drawn today between that case and another unarmed black teen named Jordan Davis who was shot and killed for playing his music too loud by a white man. The president addressed both cases today and both boys by name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT OBAMA: In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, with all the emotions controversy that it sparked, I spoke about the need to bolster and reinforce our young men. And give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them. I'm grateful that Trayvon's parents, Sabrina and Tracy are here along with Jordan Davis' parents, Lucy and Ron.


BURNETT: All right, we've been covering the Davis case very closely on the show and joining me now is Jordan's mom. You were referred to by name as we just heard there. What was it like in that room?

LUCIA MCBATH, MOTHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: There was electricity and people were so excited and so encouraged and just hanging on every word. Looking for something positive and hopeful. And I think they really received that today.

BURNETT: And, Lucy, did you get a chance to talk to the president? How did you end up in that room? Did you talk to him personally about your son?

MCBATH: No, we have not, but we know that he's aware of our case, our trial and our son.

BURNETT: And let me ask you, you know, you've talked about your son. I mean, I know you had home schooled him. You spent a lot of time working with him and you said, look, he went through a tough time. He struggled in school and moved to be with his dad as he was going through that tough time. Do you think the initiative you heard about today would have helped him?

MCBATH: Absolutely. How could it not? Any initiative, any funding, any help given to help young black males, not just black males, but all young men of color to help them become as successful as they could possibly be, help them to really find their hopes and their dreams help them to become all that they're destined to be. How could you not be encouraged by that? And I think I was able to do that with Jordan personally by home schooling him but so excited about the initiative for other men of color.

BURNETT: Lucy, I wanted to play for you something else the president said today in that room with you. This was a moment that, of course, the entire country now remembers. This was the president when he said that the unforgettable words about Trayvon Martin.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: But, obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they're right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Do you feel, Lucy, you know, Don was talking a moment ago who was there in the room, talking about how, you know, there had been a frustration among many in the African-American community that the president hadn't directly addressed some of these issues in a front and center way until now. Did you share that frustration? Do you think things have changed?

MCBATH: I definitely would not say that it had not been anything that he had considered before. I think that President Obama has always been very candid in letting the country know that he is the president for all citizens. Not just black and not just white, but I think in light of everything that has really particularly been happening with young men of color and particularly within the last few years. I think that he has found that, you know, it's time now that he bring this to the forefront, bring this to light and these are initiatives and things that have to be spoken about and have to be dealt with.

BURNETT: Now, Lucy, I know earlier this week -- I want to read it to you and to the viewers. At 13 I learned whole streets were prohibited to me and ways of speaking, laughing and walking made me a target that because within the relative piece of America great violence, institutional, interpersonal, marks the black experience. I think these talks that we have with our sons, how to address the police, how not to be intimidating to white people. You have lost your son. Did you ever think, did you ever have to have these conversations with him?

MCBATH: I've had many conversations with Jordan at many times about understanding the way the world really is. I would have to encourage him that, you know, Jordan, you have every right to exist. You have every right to be who you are. You should not have to act differently, you should not have to dress differently and you should not have to pretend to be someone or anybody you're not. You're valued exactly the way that you are. Don't ever let anyone deter you from being who you believe you can be.

So, certainly, we've had many kinds of discussions like that. Many kinds of discussions where I had to explain to him, you know, there may be certain people in the community or in the world that don't necessarily like you because you are a young, black male. But you hold your head high and know that you have value, no matter what.

BURNETT: Lucy, thank you very much.

Thank you. Lucy McBath, Jordan Davis' mother.

Does he think the president's plan to help young men go far enough?

The justices like you've never seen them before, ever.

New documents released in the Chris Christie scandal. A rabbi now involved.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now is a face very well known to many of you. Tavis Smiley, he is the host of PBS' "Tavis Smiley" with very strong opinions on the president's program "My Brother's Keeper." Tavis, I guess, let's start off with the amount here. The president says, this is going to be significant initiative, $200 million. Is that a lot? Is that a little? I mean, what do you think?

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST, "TAVIS SMILEY" ON PBS: There are a lot of these foundations that have been doing this work for a long time. The Kasey Foundation, the California Endowment, Kellogg, I've worked with many of these foundations over the years so I know the good work that they do and my sense is that they would be doing this work whether presidents have stepped up six years in his presidency or not.

But I know they appreciate and I certainly appreciate having a presidential partner and doing this kind of work. So $200 million is a drop in the bucket quite frankly given what black men are up against. I'll take it any day of the week as opposed to nothing.

BURNETT: So what do you make of some of the people visibly at this announcement? Let's just take for example Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, obviously former chief of the president, you would expect him to be there. But Michael Bloomberg might have been a little bit more surprising.

SMILEY: Yes. I tweeted earlier that I was surprised Emmanuel and Bloomberg were so prominently featured in part because this is respectfully the same Michael Bloomberg that didn't put stop and frisk on the books, but aggressively defend stop and frisk. This is the same Rahm Emanuel in Chicago closing down schools. I just think the time is out for political correctness. Let's tell the truth.

You can't put stop and frisk on the one hand and then be "My Brother's Keeper" on the other hand. You can't close down schools on the one hand and be "My Brother's Keeper" on the other hand. Time-out for political correctness. How about my brother's employer, not my brother's keeper. How about jobs with a living wage. These young black and brown boys, young men want the same thing every other American wants, a job with a living wage, but no real talk about that.

BURNETT: So, there's 6.7 million young men, according to the census, who are black under the age of 21. As you point out, this program is for men of color, so also directed at Hispanics, but in terms of black men specifically. The 6.7 million of them and the president spoke about the specific challenges that those men face. Here he is, Tavis.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: As a black student, you are far less likely than a white student to be able to read proficiently by the time you're in fourth grade. By the time you reach high school, you're far more likely to have been suspended or expelled. There's a higher chance you'll end up in the criminal justice system. And a far higher chance that you are the victim of a violent crime. And the worst part is, we become numb to these statistics. We're not surprised by them. We take them as the norm.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: All right, look, he's right, Tavis, but what is this going to do about it. When I read the fact sheet about this initiative. The initiative itself sounds great, but they are talking about an online portal that they're going to create and a new public web site that is going to assess better statistics on young men of color. It was unclear to me exactly what they're going to do to change what he just said.

SMILEY: Well, it's unclear to a lot of us, I think, because the deliverables are not abundantly clear and not easy to follow, number one. Number two, I was trying to suggest earlier, philanthropy is not justice. Charity is not justice. How do we get at rebelling in and respecting the humanity and dignity of these young men, number two? Number three, the president recited these facts and he is right. We recited these things time and time again.

But here's the bottom line, the value in this country of a black life does not have the same weight as a white life where these black boys are concerned. If the stats that the president cited today, if these were stats concerning white males in America, we would have addressed this issue as a nation long before Barack Obama a long time ago and, secondly, it couldn't have taken him six years to get to this if these numbers were the same --

BURNETT: Why is he doing it now?

SMILEY: That's a question for the president to answer. A lot of people believe this has something to do with legacy building and I'm not so put off by that per se because I would rather him do something than not do something. He and the first lady wants to work on these kind of issues. He would be the greatest ambassador these kind of issues could have. But it can't be just about legacy building, but the humanity and dignity and we have to do more than just try to match foundations with corporations. That's a good start, but there's a long way to go here.

BURNETT: All right, Tavis Smiley, thank you very much. Really appreciate your perspective.

SMILEY: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: We are going to have much more on the president's announcement tonight on the CNN program, "My Brother's Keeper," a Don Lemon special tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Please tune in.

Well, ahead, Ted Nugent told me this week he's a changed man. So will the Texas candidate for governor ever campaign with Nugent again? Well, guess what, we went out today and we got Greg Abbot to talk.

Plus, something you've never seen before what a hidden camera reveals inside the Supreme Court.

Jeanne Moos and I discover mutt bombing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: The first time ever video from inside the Supreme Court while the court was in session. It's impossible for me to say how special this is. Looking at the back of people's heads. Looks like we are in church. This was part of a planned protest by a group supporting campaign finance reform. But we don't know how they got the camera into the court.

Because here's the fact, in a modern year of 2014, no electronic devices have ever been permitted in the court's public session. All spectators and members of the media are screened. At the end of the video, a protester stands up, interrupts the court and is escorted out by security. They did this on purpose. I'm making this point.

But here's the thing, there are only two known pictures of the court in session, both taken by still cameras smuggled inside the chamber. Joining me now is CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. I am making a big deal of this. I remember sitting in that court, I was a student at the time.

It was an incredible moment, you are not allowed to take anything in to photograph it. There has been a lot of people who say this is completely and utterly inappropriate in the transparent country like the United States of America and the justices have kept the cameras out. What do you think of this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'm baffled because I've been in the court many times and even the news media has to walk through metal detectors. We're not allowed to bring electronics in. Everybody passes through those metal detectors. So something happened here. There was a lapse and the Supreme Court has said they're investigating and that's certainly what it looks like in there. But I certainly never expected anyone to be able to smuggle a camera in there.

BURNETT: I guess that's pretty frightening to the point you are making. How could it even have happened? If that happened what else could get in. Should cameras be allowed in?

TOOBIN: I completely believe that cameras should be allowed in the courtrooms. You know, there are perhaps good arguments against cameras in trials. You have witnesses, you have jurors that might be intimidated and none of those apply at the Supreme Court and these are the most important issues in our legal system that are being debated there. The justices simply don't want it. I think the main reason is they don't want Jon Stewart to make fun of them.

They don't wanted to have, you know, clips appear on the "Daily Show" and that is not a good reason as far as I'm concerned. You know, they do release audio at the end of the week when they have arguments. I'd be willing to bet that there will be live audio streamed on the web at some point in the next few years. But I think events like today by these knuckleheads make video even less likely because the justices don't want any part of it.

BURNETT: Interesting you call them knuckleheads and then I think about the world and I think, it just may not even be possible to even stop it. We'll see, it is pretty incredible. Jeff Toobin, thank you.

Well, OUTFRONT next, newly released documents in the Chris Christie investigation. A rabbi now part of the scandal.

Plus, a blunt assessment from the former head of the CIA.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very clear that NSA's policy masters have pulled them back. They're less aggressive than they have been in the past.



BURNETT: Vladimir Putin beating the war drum less than a week after the Olympic Games. The Russian president mobilizing forces preparing to crack down on the former soviet state of Ukraine.

Today, Russian fighter jets dispatched to patrol the borders, nearly 150,000 Russian troops are now in military exercises in that region. Russia says it will respect the territorial of the Ukraine but them invading before and a clear show of force as a message of the United States.

Shortly before this show I sat down with the former chief of the NSA and the CIA. General Michael Hayden. He's also a principal of the Chertoff group and I asked him what this means to the U.S. and Russia?


GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: As important as Ukraine is to us, it's absolutely critical to Putin and his broader, greater Russian federation. Secretary Kerry has said some things today. He said, you know, this isn't a resumption of the Cold War, this is not a zero sum game, this could be win/win.

And that's noble and, gee, I wish it were so. But this is not win/win for Vladimir Putin, OK? Vladimir Putin he views this as zero- sum. Now, should that affect our behavior? I don't know.

But we really have to appreciate that for him this is a zero sum game. He's not looking for a win/win scenario. It is, not my words, but they are wonderful words. It was a description of how the Europeans are trying to deal with the Ukrainian crisis two, three weeks ago, and the observation was they brought a baguette to a knife fight.

And we need to be very much aware after the -- to the extremes that Putin might go to because his perception of this isn't win/win. His perception is win/lose.

BURNETT: Extremes are military confrontation. HAYDEN: One would hope he doesn't do that. He is going to play hard ball over a long period of time because a Ukraine outside of his orbit and firmly in the Western camp is probably unacceptable to him. So, now, what's the correct -- Secretary Kerry really believes in win/win. What is the acceptable, political status of the Ukraine going forward?

BURNETT: Does the U.S. allow that? Does the U.S. say -- I mean, is the United States going to decide, we don't care? It stays next to Vladimir Putin and military intervenes, and going to let it go? Or is the USA say, no, and say, well, that means military intervention on the table from the U.S. side?

HAYDEN: For the decade or so after the fall of the Soviet Union, American diplomacy and other elements of the American state, not just the state but the American people, were very active in the post-Soviet states. For the last seven or eight years, we are less present in that area. More of these states are moving back into an orbit that's controlled by the Russian Federation and many people actually would rather be more allied with the West, are complaining about our lack of presence there.

So, that's a great question that you ask. How much is the president and how much is the administration willing to put their personal energy, their personal prestige, their political prestige for a robust policy in that part of the world?

BURNETT: Sounds like you're saying they probably won't. But the question of should is a significant one -- to allow an entire, you know, the Iron Curtain, the Cold War, the --

HAYDEN: A standing goal of American diplomacy since Bush 41 in 1991 was a Europe whole, free and at peace. All right?

We're now approaching the last chapter of that. Can we pull that off? Can we make Ukraine part of Europe, a Europe that is whole and at peace?

BURNETT: So, some intelligence officials are talking about the, quote-unquote, "warning time." If he were to do something militarily, that is an incredibly short window and the United States wouldn't have enough time to move, even diplomatically --

HAYDEN: Right, right.

BURNETT: -- that that window is so short.

So, let me ask you this, because you obviously know this not just from an intelligence perspective, but also from the entire side of the story, how hampered is American intelligence at this point by the NSA? Are we hampered in getting crucial information that could affect a situation of war?

HAYDEN: Look, those guys out there at the fort, they know the mission, they're focused and they really are. You know, I was talking to the folks who know this better than I, people still in government and we used to ask, what are your priorities?

And traditional priority is counterterrorism, counter-persuasion, cyber defense and you'd list that. Right now, the single most time- consuming element of the NSA workforce is the Snowden damage assessment and responding to all these accusatory and prosecutorial stories that continue to appear in the press. So --

BURNETT: So, they're not playing defense and circling the west. They're not --

HAYDEN: Well, they're good guys, they're working hard, but they're human beings, too. And this is the distraction, the Snowden events. So, they've got to focus, they've got to focus on the mission.

BURNETT: Is the NSA now -- I mean, obviously, there are going there be some changes coming forth. They're going to be doing a little bit less or doing things differently. Are they cataloguing fewer calls, are they gathering less information that they used to? Are they already because of the Snowden situation getting less information and having less of a chance to intercept the next -- I'm not just talking about Putin here, obviously. But I'm talking about a terrorist event.

HAYDEN: Look, collecting intelligence is actually a servant of policy. And policy makers want information but they also want you to require the information in a way that doesn't create greater risk, political diplomatic risk for them.

Erin, as you suggest, it's very clear that NSA's policy masters have pulled them back. They're less aggressive than they have been in the past.

Now, this is not that exceptional. I had political guidance, too, under the Bush administration. There are some things I could do -- frankly, I wanted to do that they said, nah, let's pull back from that, let's not do that.

I think there's a lot more of that now, that pendulum has gone this way. Now, we'll get surprised, we'll miss a few things and that pendulum is going to swing back in the direction of being more aggressive.

BURNETT: But you think we will miss a few things. That's the key thing I just heard you say.

HAYDEN: Yes. Of course, we will.


BURNETT: Yes. Of course, we will. Interesting comments there by General Hayden.

Well, there are newly released documents today raising more questions about the scandal surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. According to the previously redacted documents, David Wildstein, then a top executive at the Port Authority, sent a photo of a New Jersey rabbi to Bridget Anne Kelly, who was a top aide to Christie. Of course, she's been fired by now.

You say, wait a minute, wait a minute, why? Well, along with the photo, a note came saying, quote, "He has officially pissed me off." Kelly's response, quote, "Clearly." And "We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?" Wildstein replies, "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed."

All right. Here's why this is important. Six days earlier, "Kelly is the one who sent the now infamous e-mail to Wildstein saying, quote, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee". That is what set off the lane closings of the George Washington Bridge and this entire scandal.

Joining me now, Steve Adubato, political analyst.



BURNETT: I mean, this shows this was not a one-time thing. This shows this was an ongoing thing. You would make light about. You would joke about and you could have done it many times.

ADUBATO: Yes. Look, it is embarrassing. It's humiliating and the part that really gets me and should get any person who cares about people who are put in powerful positions, whether you're the deputy chief of staff or you're the point person at the Port Authority, which is a huge agency responsible for how you get across the bridge.

BURNETT: Very powerful position and the busiest bridge in the United States.

ADUBATO: You're around like that with those text messages, you're putting people at risk, you're putting innocent people at risk, you're talking about this rabbi -- God knows why they're doing that, for political reasons.

But it's like -- first of all, you're doing it on behalf of the governor. You are using the governor's name. You're using the governor's influence. You're using the influence of the Port Authority and I don't know what they're planning to do or not do, but they're threatening to do those things.

It is incredibly irresponsible and childish, but the thing that scares me, what if they actually did those things. That's bad stuff.

BURNETT: It's very bad stuff. And here's the thing -- let's just assume because at this point, this is the only thing you can assume, because at this point, we know can do is assume. The governor knew nothing.

But yet, these are the people he surrounded himself by and they thought that this was OK. So, this was someone acting completely out of school or was this a symbol of a culture and a kind of leadership that this governor puts forth because that really is ultimately the question that matters for whether he'll be the next president?

ADUBATO: It matters for a lot of reasons, not just for the 2016 race to my point. First of all, the governor has acknowledged responsible for what these screwballs are doing back and forth. And that was before we saw this stuff.

BURNETT: Right, and he fired them.

ADUBATO: Fired them. But here's my view. I actually don't think it is enough. I respect the governor, I believe the governor, I don't think he knew about this stuff.

But that does not advocate from a question of leadership what you're responsible for. You're responsible for these people. I think more people need to go. I think more heads need to roll and I frankly don't think you need to wait until the entire investigation ends and I'll tell you why. There are certain people like David Sampson, I don't think you need to wait. It's not even a criminal matter.

I argue when the chairman of the Port Authority is going back and forth with the executive director and putting out a text message that says, hey, that's the guy leaking information to the press. What's really going on with him? We have to get that.

My argument is, you have a question of leadership, of confidence there and with the chairman of the port authority and the executive director going back and forth. I think David Sampson is in big trouble and the governor needs to say that. I know he's loyal to him, but sometimes loyalty is a problem.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Steve Adubato, as the story continues.

Tonight, CNN giving you a backstage pass, by the way, to Hollywood's biggest night. You have plans for that probably? In the new CNN film "And The Oscar Goes To", it features never before scene backstage footage from the award show, as well as interviews with some of the world's biggest stars. Here's a peek.


BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: First images of the Oscars I had was a black and white television set in Long Beach, Long Island, in the '50s. Bob Hope was the host.

BOB HOPE, ACTOR: Thank you very much. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to chance of a lifetime.

CRYSTAL: I've got to go to sleep, somewhere around sound effects, some things never change. And I'd get up in the morning and in my cereal bowl before school would be a list of who had won.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: I was a kid and here was the people that had already been huge, big, massive stars for 20, 30 years. I mean, even Bob Hope had been Bob Hope since 1932.

CHER: I always thought he was going to be the host. It never occurred to me that there'd be anybody else.

PHIL ALDEN ROBINSON: I just thought that was the height of sophisticated humor, was Bob Hope at the Oscars.

HOPE: (INAUDIBLE) handsome, proud here tonight, but there's an undercurrent of nervousness. The whole thing is like a big maternity ward. Everybody is expecting.


NARRATOR: Oscar traditions didn't invent them selves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a lot of new faces, especially on the old faces.


BURNETT: "And The Oscar Goes To" airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

Ahead, Greg Abbott responds to my interview with Ted Nugent. Nugent says he's a changed man. Everybody has been trying to get Abbott to answer the question. Will he campaign with Nugent again? Today, an answer OUTFRONT.

And Jeanne Moos explains mutt bombing.


BURNETT: So, Ted Nugent said he's going to change his ways, but is the Republican Party finally willing to do the same thing when it comes to Ted Nugent. After calling President Obama a, quote, "subhuman mongrel" on Monday finally told me, he says he's changed.


TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: Live on ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT, CNN, Ted Nugent remember the Alamo, (AUDIO GAP) 24th, 2014. I'm not going to call people names anymore.

BURNETT: I think that to me -- I mean, I know, to me, I know you're trying to make slightly light of this, but to me, these things aren't light at all, because in the country that you talk --

NUGENT: No, I'm not making light. Very serious. Very serious. I agree.


BURNETT: -- create more polarization is a horrible thing to do.

NUGENT: You're right, my children, my brothers, my sister and my wonderful wife Shaman have told me that over and over.

And I think at the tender age of 65, I think you're absolutely correct. Instead of using terms like subhuman mongrel, I'm going to get right to the meat of the matter where our president is the liar, he lies about you can keep your doctor, period, over and over again. He lies about Benghazi, he's lying about the IRS. So, I won't call names anymore. I'm going to get right down to the nitty-gritty and identify the criminal behavior by the people abusing power in the United States government.

So, I take your advice to heart, Erin.


BURNETT: All right, joining me now is Ed Lavandera.

Ed, Nugent's comments about the president came to light while he was campaigning as we all now know, with the gubernatorial candidate for Texas, Greg Abbott, the front runner of the Republican.

And until now, Abbott has been -- I mean, pretty silent about Nugent. Let's just be honest. He hasn't wanted to talk about it, but you found him today.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the questions have been pestering him as I think a lot of people in the state of Texas have seen. We tried to ask him these very questions last week and we were blocked by a campaign aide from doing so.

But, today, we caught up with him at a campaign event in Fort Worth and it's a much different tone and we asked him specifically about Nugent's apology and whether or not we would see Nugent again with him on the campaign trail and today, Greg Abbott answered.


GREG ABBOTT (R), CANDIDATE FOR TEXAS GOVERNOR: I have been speaking about this for weeks now and, of course, they bring it up to the distract from the fact that I'm here in Fort Worth, in Wendy Davis' background, and I'm here talking about real issues that matter to Texas. Wendy keeps want to bring up Wendy Davis. But you know what, that doesn't relieve our traffic problems, it doesn't educate a single child, it doesn't create a single job.

As for what Ted Nugent said, I'll tell you what I've said repeatedly ever since then. I think what he said was wrong. I think he was wrong to say it. I think he was right to apologize for it.

And I think that I agree with his position that for him to clean up his language and, you know, raise the elevation of political rhetoric. And I think he's committed to do that.

LAVANDERA: Will he join you on campaign trail again?

ABBOTT: There's no plans to do that. There's no plans, no plans to do that.

REPORTER: You have no plans to campaign with him again?

ABBOTT: We don't have any plans to campaign with him.


LAVANDERA: Now the catch here, Erin, there is only a few days left in this primary election day here is next week. So, it seems like the door might be slightly open and we'll see if that changes as we head into the rest of the election year and heading into November -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you. Ed as we said, catching up there with Greg Abbott.

Joining me now is Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Sean, good to have you with us.

Let me just ask you this. You know, Abbott there, as you know, when he was talking to reporters and Ed Lavandera found him, he said there are on the campaign issue, will he campaign with Ted Nugent, there's no plans to do that. No, we don't have any plans to campaign with him.

I mean, that's a pretty direct answer, but it's -- I'm just never going to campaign with this guy again, I learned my lesson.

Why won't he go that far?

SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'm sort of stunned about how obsessed there has been about Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent is a hard conservative who speaks to a good number of people that follow him. He's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. E's a strong supporter of conservation. He has a huge following.

People especially in Texas and other places in the West where his following is obviously would like to have their support. He has said some things he admits were wrong, Greg Abbott admits are wrong.

I mean, I'm a little baffled by the week-long controversy over some comments that were made in the sense that you look on the Democratic side, Senator Harry Reid called President Bush a liar. One of their candidates called our candidate Adolf Hitler. Vice President Biden called Tea Party Republicans terrorists.

And yet, there was no similar outrage about whether they were going to continue to campaign with Harry Reid or the vice president. And yet -- so it's almost a total double standard in the media when it comes to people on the right who equally say -- let me be very clear. I don't think that level of discourse has a place. I think we can have significant policy differences between the parties.

BURNETT: OK, and --

SPICER: But that doesn't mean -- for some reason when guys on the right say something, it takes days and weeks of media coverage. When folks on the left do it, it's sort of fodder. Harry Reid on the floor -- BURNETT: By the way, I see your point. These people say these things. And I'm going to agree with you. They're horrible they shouldn't be said. Ted Nugent raised the point that Bill Mauer also used the C-word, in his case to refer to Sarah Palin, and Ted Nugent referred to Hillary Clinton. Both of them were vulgar and disgusting and should never be used ever, OK? So, that is my belief.

But it does seem to me that when you have words like that consistently coming out of someone's mouth, you said it yourself, he has a huge following and he's very powerful. All right? That's why people want to be seen with him.

And yet when someone says that, the only way to get them to stop would be other Republicans saying, you know what, it's not worth it to us. We don't think this is right.

So, instead of saying, well, Democrats do this, what about answering the direct question of, why can't Republicans, including the ones we called, Abbott, Perry, Cruz, Cornyn, Stockman, Gohmert, Poe, Hensarling, none of them have agreed to comment to us on this issue.

SPICER: That's not true. I mean, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, I've read all their comments where they disagreed --

BURNETT: Rand Paul did and very aggressively so without being asked, came out in Twitter and said it was inappropriate.

SPICER: Right, and Ted Cruz was asked about it and said similar things.

BURNETT: But he didn't say he wouldn't campaign with him again. He didn't say I'm not going to be associated with him.


BURNETT: He didn't say that's a problem but I'm not going to go out with that person again.

SPICER: First of all, he used words that I agree, you agree, everybody agrees and frankly Ted Nugent said I'm not going to use those name calling word anymore. He agrees. Suddenly the standard is no one can ever be seen with Ted Nugent again? I think his language was unacceptable.

BURNETT: He called him a liar and a racist the next day.

SPICER: Right. And Harry Reid called President Bush a liar over and over again. And nobody ever asked Democrats why they would stop campaigning with Harry Reid or whether they had to apologize.

It's somehow acceptable on the left. And frankly, again I'll be clear, all of it is -- I think that there is no need to get into personal name-calling when we have significant policy differences that can be debated, and I think frankly on our side I'd rather get into that. But there is this standard where when they say it on their side, no one seems to ask the same question. Why aren't people asking, why are you campaigning with Harry Reid? Just yesterday on the Senate floor he said that everybody who has a problem with Obamacare, Erin, everyone who has a problem with Obamacare is a liar. So, if you have a problem, you're a liar.

BURNETT: I hear your point, Sean. Unfortunately, we're out of time. But I hear your point about that.

But I also think that you guys have to directly answer the question instead of saying they do it, too. Or he called someone names, too.

Anyway, next, Jeanne moos and I experience mutt bombing.


BURNETT: So it's the modern day personal portrait. A selfie. But these close-ups, look at this handsome man and beautiful woman. Ryan Buckley and Rebecca Samuels, amazing producers.

Selfie has become part of a canine craze. They didn't just take a picture of themselves, they mutt bombed you.

And it's taking the internet by storm. Yes, for real.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Introducing Ethan, the poster boy for muttbombing for what?


MOOS: Good name, huh?

SANS: Yes. It's been great. We trademarked it and everything.

MOOS: It's a new way to get people to adopt pets. A marketing agency called the Dieste Inc., working with the adoption nonprofit, Dallas Pets Alive, is selecting fun selfies from Instagram and PhotoShopping in dogs that need homes. They really started getting attention when they mutt bombed celebrities ranging from Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus to morning talk show co-host Kathie Lee and Hoda, mutt bombed by a mutt named Chance.

But so far, Ethan is the star.

SANS: He mutt bombed Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon had Instagramed a selfie after Harrison Ford pierced Fallon's ear. Really.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Harrison Ford just pierced my ears you guys. This is great.

MOOS: Dallas Pets Alive muttbombed Fallon with Ethan, wearing his own photoshop earing and a caption, "Dude check us out. We're like fluffy feather-piercing bros. I'm Ethan and I'm #muttbombing you in hopes of finding a home."

Well, so far --

SANS: No word from Jimmy Fallon.

MOOS: But Ethan quickly attracted two applicants who want to adopt him.

It's not just stars like Ellen and Ryan Gosling getting muttbombed. Food blogger John Boerger Instagramed out this selfie on horseback. In a couple of days, it came back.

JOHN BOERGER, FOOD BLOGGER: I looked and I was like, oh, there's a dog on that horse.

MOOS: The dog is named Royce. And John says he can't adopt a pet right now, he loves the way they're using social media.

BOERGER: Get tired of the thousands of sad pictures of dogs in kennels. Doing it this way makes it kind of cute and then it makes it funny.

MOOS (on camera): The idea isn't so much for the person who gets muttbombed to necessarily adopt a pet.

(voice-over): But rather for the photo to be shared, to spread the word from a dog reflected in sunglasses to a pup doing the doggy paddle underwater. Dallas Pets Alive said mutt-bombing increased their web traffic 700 percent the first week, and they soon had 10 applications for adoptions.

(on camera): Photo bomb this, why don't you?

(voice-over): Ethan answered with a question. Does CNN stand for "canine news network"? Ethan's not just a looker --

SANS: He's a licker.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

(on camera): He will lick anything, won't he?


MOOS (voice-over): -- New York.


BURNETT: Not just a looker but a licker.

Thanks for watching. Anderson's next.