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U.S. Warship Heads to Black Sea; Rick Perry Wows at CPAC; Political Resurrection of Chris Christie

Aired March 7, 2014 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Russians are cementing their hold on the Crimean peninsula. Several navy vessels are trapped out of service. In Moscow, the parliament gave their support to lawmakers that want to split from Ukraine and join Russia. They will vote, remember, in nine days from now

Retired Army General James "Spider" Marks with us right now. He's a CNN military analyst.

Spider, NATO's secretary-general just told us the alliance can help Ukraine modernize and strengthen their armed forces. Ukraine not a member of NATO. Their military is no match for Russia's military. What is NATO trying to do? What's the strategy?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't know that NATO is explicitly recruiting Ukraine. What NATO has is a strong vested interest in that area. They offer to help the Ukraine and modernize the force and bring it into the 21st century in interoperability, and working as a member of a coalition, a bunch of different nations working together, which the rest of NATO does as a matter of routine. That's something Ukraine needs to consider. NATO is wise to continue to offer it.

BERMAN: Spider, we just learned moments ago the Ukrainians now saying the Russians have 30,000 troops in Crimea. What I don't know is how many of those troops were based in Crimea anyway as part of the Black Sea. 30,000 Russian troops on that peninsula. That seems like an awful lot.

MARKS: What you need to focus in on is not just 30,000 in Crimea but for forces from Russia that have not gone into Ukraine. Point I'm making is Putin has from the outset demonstrated an almost laser-like focus. He has reinforced success in Crimea. If he would have wanted to take Crimea, he would have done that by surprise and with mass and with an overload of forces last week. I can guarantee you, he is probably not going to go for the larger part of it. He is reinforcing what he has in Crimea and that's what's most important. Ukraine needs to figure out what their next steps look like with Crimea not as a full member of Ukraine. It is an outrage. There are political autonomy issues. I get that. What we're looking at is that Crimea is going to become some part of a larger rush qua that's going to be determined illegitimately with this referendum coming up. I think that's a fait accompli. BERMAN: You are being the voice of calm here saying the Russian military is showing restraint. I'll let you be the voice of calm once again. The "USS Truxton" heading to the Black Sea. It is part of a deployment scheduled before the crisis. Is anything ever retuned when you are dealing with a crisis like this?

MARKS: Oh, of course not. No, no, no. Conditions are entirely different. Look. This destroyer deployment and destroyers don't go by themselves. It might be the "Truxton" that you see. If somebody was to do something untoward and to put at risk that crew and that ship. The conditions are entirely different now. Crimea now essentially belongs to Russia. A lot of forces in Crimea. The international community is paying attention to this. This deployment was determined to be underway weeks, if not months, ago. Of course, conditions are different. You have to exercise some extreme caution. It is absolutely within the variety of the United States and all members to can assess international waters, which is what the Black Sea is.

BERMAN: You said exercise extreme caution. What kind of orders do you think the commander of that vessel and the other troops are under right now? Behave calmly. Don't do anything provocative. What have they been told to do?

MARKS: Behave calmly is not an order in the military. It is a good stab on your part. The issue is forced protection is rule number one. If the "Truxton" or the crew of the "Truxton" is at risk at any moment and the commander on board that ship has the authority to determine that level of threat, he has ever authorization to engage to protect his ship, not to advance any additional missions, but to protect what he has. It is very tense. These sailors have been trained for years in terms of how to do this. They know what they are doing. It is a matter of being able to assess and see the environment.

BERMAN: Thanks for setting me straight, Spider, on military terminology.

MARKS: I'm here to help, John, here to help.

BERMAN: Not every day you get dressed down by a military general so there are worse things.

I appreciate it, Spider.

MARKS: No, no, not at all.

Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Ahead AT THIS HOUR, a woman sits in her garage for six years. Why? Because she is dead. How is it that no one knew, no neighbor, no family? Is this really possible? That's next.


BERMAN: Time for our "Hot Flash" stories.

Ashleigh Banfield, from CNN's "Legal View" is here this afternoon.


BERMAN: We brought you here because you have a lot to say.


Interpret that as you will.


BERMAN: Interpret that as you will.

We are going too view a shocking story out of Michigan, the body of a woman found in her car. Authorities believe she had been sitting there in the garage for six years dead. Maybe more than six years. Apparently, her bills were getting paid through her online bill pay. Her neighbor cut her grass for her but apparently never checked on her. She was known to travel a lot. People did not think much of it, we are told, when they didn't see her. But six years is a long time to be in a garage and have no one notice.

BANFIELD: You think.

What I find strange is that they actually did a welfare check on her. Police came to the house. You have heard of these things. They come to check and see that everything is OK. Apparently, this he didn't seem to think it was a problem there was no answer at the house. They didn't do anything more thorough than that.

The other thing I find really troubling. Does she have in he friends? Was there not one friend in her life or family member that might have thought, I haven't heard from her in a while?

BERMAN: It's incredible. As you said on many levels, how could someone go missing for six years and have no one connected to them who would check on them in some way?

BANFIELD: This is sort of a weird medical phenomenon. She is found in the back seat of her car in her garage. Her skin was completely intact. She didn't decompose.

BERMAN: She had automatic bill pay that went on and on. No one noticed she wasn't paying her bills.

BANFIELD: It works until your bank account dries up and then they come check on you for real.

BERMAN: And on the subject of money, a story out of Vegas. A gambler loses $5,000. He is suing the casino. He says he shouldn't have to pay the debt because he was drunk, very drunk, so drunk he blacked out. He says the casino should have stopped serving him booze when they saw how drunk he was. You know legal stuff. Does that make any sense to you?

BANFIELD: I'm going to go on the record right off the bat saying the casino is not talking because they know they are involved in litigation. I can't get the full story from the casino.

But I know this. They have the video all over the place in every casino. I think there will be a tale of the tape. It will make its way into the courtroom if they ever see a courtroom or if it decided to settle. I have a tough time with a drunk argument for just about everything.

BERMAN: I don't think I have ever seen one where somebody gets one back from the casino.

BANFIELD: It is very rare.

BERMAN: How do you spell respect? President Obama had some trouble with it at an event with Aretha Franklin.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her.



BERMAN: Ashleigh, liberal media bias. Had this been Dan Quayle, would we be making a much bigger deal out of this than we are?

BANFIELD: I was thinking he was crazy like a FOX, wanted to show us off. If you ask me how I spell respect, B-E-R-M-A-N.

BERMAN: I get hot flashes when people spell. I can't spell.

BANFIELD: I am bad with the math. I will not do any live math.

BERMAN: Ashleigh Banfield, great to have you here.

"Legal View" starts at the top of the hour. Stick around for that.

Plus, we have a lot of good stuff coming up. If you have any thoughts about the gambler or the woman in her garage, send us a tweet. Our Twitter handle is @thishour.

In Los Angeles, public schools, almost one in five students drops out before graduation. This week's "CNN Hero" is helping teenage girls find their voice and change her future through writing. Meet Keren Taylor.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I blossom with each pen mark.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I found myself in the words.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Every girl has a story to tell.

KEREN TAYLOR, CNN HERO: Some of our girls are facing some of the greatest challenges teenagers are ever facing, pregnancy, incarceration, violence in their family and at school. Those girls need a mentor. They need to be inspired about their own voice.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Life in the light can be so bright. Nothing can be so pure.

TAYLOR: Writing and self-expression can give them a tool for moving forward.

Say something that nobody else has said before, because you have your own way of saying things.

We match underserved girls with professional women writers for mentoring and workshops.

I want to match you, Krista, with Christie.

The moment you ask a young person, tell me about something you are passionate about, the writing and the ideas just flow.

You know you are going to read today.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I was kind of scare. I am really quiet. I keep to myself. She is so excited and enthusiastic about writing. I absolutely love her.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Writing gave me that position in life like I'm a girl and I have a story to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Their senses are deluded by the sparkly things that cross their eyes.

TAYLOR: You have a lot of good stuff here. What I would like to hear more is about you.

To give a girl tools to be able to be positive and thrive and rise above whatever challenges she is facing.



BERMAN: That is making such a difference. Everybody has a hero. Maybe yours can be a "CNN Hero." Tell us about them at

Ahead for us AT THIS HOUR, talk about political resurrection. You will not believe who just set off a huge wave of 2016 presidential buzz. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Big news out of the big conservative conference just outside Washington, CPAC. Remember Rick Perry, the governor of Texas? He did not have such an easy go of it when he was running for president in 2012, but just a short while ago, he set this conference on fire. Let's listen. RICK PERRY, (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: Get out of the health care business! Get out of the education business! Stop hammering industry! Let the sleeping giant of American enterprise create prosperity again!


PERRY: My fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is upon you. It belongs to you!


BERMAN: All right. That place was going nuts, as you can see. The other big story that's been coming out of CPAC is something of a request for a political resurrection from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who, in his speech, took some swipes at, well, the media. Let's listen.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: We have to stop letting the media define who we are and what we stand for. Because when we talk about what we're for, no matter what state we're in, our ideas win.


BERMAN: All right. I want to bring in our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Ryan Stelter.

Dana, let me start with you here. Rick Perry, wow, that was something huh?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was something. I was here, he was in the room. It was quite a speech and quite a response that he got from the crowd. Particularly since it was the very first speech of the day, and usually it takes some time to get the crowd going. I said in a tweet that the crowd here didn't need coffee, the way he was getting them going. And look, he knows how to give a speech like that. You've probably seen it before, John. You've been on the road and covering campaigns and in which he has been a part. And that was the guy who many Republicans, most Republicans, were expecting to show up in 2012. That's why there was so much buzz around him back then. And there was a lot of disappointment that in the series of many, many debates that Republicans had, he not only didn't do that, but he fumbled a lot, particularly on the issue that he was just talking about in that sound bite you ran, which is the concept of the ideas coming from the states, the policies coming from the states, and that governing should really come from the states. Remember when he was trying to say that departments should be abolished and couldn't remember the second or third. So that was really what that was about, a very different thing.

And I have to share something quickly. Our Peter Hamby just ran into Governor Perry in the hallway and said I hope this speech here let's people look at me and give me a second chance and quickly caught himself. And I said, if it is in fact I decide to run.

BERMAN: No kidding. It's clear Rick Perry thinks he's a better candidate than 2012. A lot of Republicans from Texas and elsewhere think he is a better candidate and it's clear he is considering a run.

BASH: Yeah.

BERMAN: Brian Stelter, let's talk about the other future possible presidential candidate in 2016. Chris Christie, what do you do when times are tough? You take a swipe at the media. Brian, you cover the media. What do you make of this?

BRIAN STELTER, HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Yes, and he did so very effectively. He mentioned the media more than almost any other speaker yesterday at the conference. There does seem to be this sense -- I don't know how well it can be documented with data. But at least anecdotally, a sense of a comeback for Chris Christie among his fans, among a conservative group.

And I think George Will brought that up very interestingly on FOX News earlier this week. Let's play the bite where George will is talking about MSNBC and Chris Christie.


GEORGE WILL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: MSNBC has been a great benefit to Christie. MSNBC has at most a one-track mind and it has been just obsessed with him. And my enemy's enemy is my friend so a lot of people are warming up to him.


STETLER: There is obviously a lot more reporting to come about Chris Christie and the various scandals in New Jersey. But that point is very important, I think. That if you rally against the media, and in particular against MSNBC, you're going to score a lot of opponents with conservatives.

BERMAN: It should be noted Chris Christie has a lot of friends in the media too, that gave him awfully nice coverage. So in some cases, biting the hand that feeds him.

STETLER: And by the way, a whole lot of reporters at CPAC covering the conference, even though there's lots of media criticism that comes out of these gatherings, there is also a ton of coverage of it.

BERMAN: We can take a few punches.

Dana, there's another story again just coming out over the last few minutes about this conference and another big speaker, Paul Ryan. Explain to me what happened and why he's now apologizing for something he said.

BASH: That's right. It's certainly an unfortunate incident for Paul Ryan, who gave quite a moving speech. I was here, listening to it yesterday, talking about in this part of the speech about the concept of the people, even children want to do things for themselves. A Republican ideal, from his perspective, and talked about a story that he said that was related to him from the secretary of children and welfare back in his home state of Wisconsin. That a boy was coming to school, he was getting government assisted lunch. But he wanted a brown paper bag like everybody else, because it shows that their parents or at least somebody cares about them. It turns out that that story is something that was in a book several years ago, and that it is something that Paul Ryan threw -- he himself has posted on his Facebook, apologizing for saying he did not realize that. That this is actually something that this official in Wisconsin had relayed to him at a congressional hearing last year and didn't realize that it wasn't in fact something that apparently happened but was from a book. It's unfortunate, because this isn't the first time something like this has happened to Paul Ryan. You remember during the 2012 campaign, there were issues with questions about a marathon time he ran and other things like that. It was really given the fact that he gave a -- like I said, I was here, a very powerful and moving speech about this, and also just ideas in general, something that is clouding that big-time now.

BERMAN: All right. Dana Bash, Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

Paul Ryan did put that statement on Facebook for everyone to see. You'll have much of more on Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" this Sunday, 11:00 a.m. eastern, 8:00 a.m. pacific time.

In our final thought, an interesting tribute, a tribute to a man who made a huge contribution to baseball without ever hitting a pitch or stealing a base. It came in the operating room. What did he do? He invented a type of surgery. Dr. Frank Job died yesterday in Santa Monica at the age of 88. He was an orthopedic surgeon who pioneered what we now know as Tommy John surgery. Tommy John was a famous and very successful pitcher. It looked like his career was over after he had a serious elbow injury, a ligament in his throwing arm snapped in 1974. But Dr. Job, this man, took a chance, and performed a ligament transplant, took a ligament from his forearm, put it in his elbow, and a year later, Tommy John came back as good as new. In some cases, even better. John pitched 14 more years. More than 1,000 major league players have had that surgery over the years. This doctor you're looking at right now has made such, such a difference. A tribute to him and what a legacy he leaves behind.

That's all for us right now AT THIS HOUR.

"Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right after this.