Return to Transcripts main page


The Fight For Crimea; Christie Woos Conservatives At CPAC

Aired March 7, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: On edge in Ukraine. Crimea moves closer to a vote on joining Russia permanently, and Russia is indicating it will go along if Crimea votes that way. The president calling Vladimir Putin again, asking for negotiations, but can diplomacy bring a peaceful resolution before it's too late?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A warm welcome and a warning from New Jersey governor to conservatives. It's time for a change of attitude. But, do conservatives want to hear that from him? We will break down Chris Christie's big speech and what it means for 2016.

ROMANS: Saved by a school bus driver.

BERMAN: Oh, wow!

ROMANS: What he did to help a group of special needs students when smoke and flames break out on their way to school. Terrifying.

BERMAN: Look at that picture.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty-two minutes past the hour.

Let's bring you up to speed, the latest developments on the crisis in Ukraine. A referendum by Crimean lawmakers to split from Ukraine and join Russia, it is triggering outrage from the west. Still, Crimeans will vote on that measure in nine days, and now this, this just in. The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament says that Moscow will support and welcome those results.

Those results that President Obama declared a violation of international law even before they happen, urging President Vladimir Putin of Russia to negotiate directly with Ukraine. That happened during a one-hour phone conversation with the Russian president. That's the second time they've spoken in just days. Very long conversations that as far as we can tell have not yielded any sign of agreement.

And right now, the navy destroyer "USS Truxtun" is heading for the Black Sea. U.S. military officials say it is part of a routine deployment. It was planned before the Crimean crisis. However, the fact that it is happening while all this is going on just adds to a significance. Let's get the latest now from Phil Black live in Moscow. Phil, we understand that a delegation from Crimea, a pro- Russian delegation, is in Moscow for meetings with Russian officials.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. It's a delegation from Crimea's parliament. They're meeting with leading figures in Russia's parliament, and they've received a very warm welcome, almost a hero's welcome, with a great deal of applause. Russian politicians have praised them for their courage and their fortitude.

The Russians have been speaking of the delight and the pride they say they felt when they heard what they say was the joyous news that Crimea would be voting with a referendum to join the Russian federation. And these Russian parliamentarians have promised to honor the results of this referendum, what they say will be the democratically expressed wishes of the Crimean people by officially recognizing that result within days of the referendum's results being known.

And a key point, one politician said this morning that this will not change, that even international sanctions will not alter Russia's view in all of this. And Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, was also defiant last night on the phone with President Obama, again, making the point that he believes Russia is acting in full compliance with international law, just responding to requests for help and that the government in Kiev is illegitimate.

Today, President Putin is in Sochi again, just weeks after he was there to welcome the world for the Olympic Games. He's doing it again today, this time, for the Paralympic games. He'll be at the opening ceremony in just a few hours. And the latest from there, we're hearing, is that Ukrainian athletes will be participating in these Paralympic games, John.

BERMAN: They had been considering a boycott. Phil Black in Moscow. Again, so ironic that Russia coming out inside -- on the side of self- determination in favor, peculiar and ironic, the United States coming out against the right to self-determination in Crimea. Phil Black, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, insists his crackdown on protesters is justified. In an exclusive interview with CNNs Christiane Amanpour, Maduro said those calling for his resignation are a minority, and he claims the U.S. would take the same actions he does if it was dealing with what he called a revolution. We should say this translation provided by his office.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): What would the U.S. will do if tiny group would say they're going to generate a revolution or a revolt to change the constitutional government of the U.S.? I guess, the state would react and resort to the tools to restore order and peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Meantime, a group of U.N. human rights experts are now voicing concern over the allegations protesters have been attacked, beaten, and tortured. The country's top prosecutor says that the 1,300 people arrested in those protests, fewer than 100 are still in custody.

BERMAN: A sex crimes investigation is now under way involving an army colonel who trained sex crimes prosecutors.

Listen to that again. A sex crimes investigation is now under way involving an army colonel who trains sex crimes prosecutors. Lieutenant colonel Joseph Morse (ph) has now been removed from his job. CNN has learned he's accused of groping a female lawyer at a conference back in 2011. Morse receives nearly two dozen special victims prosecutors who are responsible for sex crimes, domestic violence, and child abuse cases.

ROMANS: Republican congressman Darrell Issa, now says he's sorry for cutting off the microphone of a top Democrat at a hearing on Wednesday. Issa chairs the House Oversight Committee got into a heated argument with ranking member, Elijah Cummings, during a hearing over the IRS allegedly targeting conservative groups. Now, Issa has phoned his colleague and apologized, and Cummings says he has accepted.

BERMAN: All right. It is nearly the weekend. That is fantastic news.


BERMAN: Will it be a good, sunny weekend? We're counting on Indra Petersons for that forecast.

ROMANS: Hey, Indra.

BERMAN: Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I would say for this time of year, yes.


PETERSONS: Does that count, right, a little caveat in there?


PETERSONS: Very easy cheesy (ph). Look at the country. We know where it's warm, out west, mild a little bit farther west. When you go east, this is where the cold air starting kind of creeping again, but look at the southeast. It looks so nice as we start off our weekend. Just keep in mind, as we go forward, you are going to see that cold air kind of creeping a little bit farther to the south. You will start to see this little wave, but this is what's most important. It's the takeaway.

By the time we start next week, instead of saying another blast of cold air is moving in, not so much. Jet stream lifting up. Temperatures are really going to be rebounding. It's going to feel pretty good out there. As far as today, what are going to be watching for? Kind of the hotspot right around the piedmont. Notice the wintry mix, also a little bit of snow out in the higher elevations.

Well, this low is going to continue that in the morning. Maybe D.C. seeing that morning commute with a little bit of that wintry mix, but the low goes offshore. That's all we need to know. Things are improving, guys. And then, of course, the temperatures look so good into the southeast. Keep in mind. Northeast, by the way, they are going well up as well. Midwest, temperatures going up for just about a day. That's good, right? Forty's, 50s, have you heard that in a while?

BERMAN: Very good. Very good. Thank you so much.

PETERSONS: Aha. Anytime.

ROMANS: All right. Stocks at record highs ahead of the jobs report due out at 8:30. Asian markets ending the week higher. Stocks in Europe a little weak so far. And in the early going, it looks like stocks here will open mixed. This has been a wild week for the markets, two days of record highs for the S&P, yet, major concerns over the Ukraine/Russia crisis. An average investor might be wondering, what do you do?


SAM STOVALL, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, S&P CAPITAL IQ: The best thing that investors can do are three things. First off, develop a portfolio of well-balanced investments. Rebalance that on an annual basis and then ignore. Ignore the volatility within that portfolio, but also ignore people like me that you see on TV every day talking about buy, sell, based on the market going higher or lower, or in a sense, don't allow your emotions to get the better of your portfolio.


BERMAN: Listen to me but ignore me.

ROMANS: Ignore him, except don't ignore that part about how you have to ignore. Look, that's pretty sage advice for your personal finances from a market historian. And I'm telling you, a lot of people are saying this bull market's going to keep running. They say don't think just because it's five years old that it's just going to somehow shut off. But we'll see later today if, I guess, the birthday candles on this five-year-old will get blown out by the jobs report or not.

BERMAN: 8:30.

ROMANS: You got it.

BERMAN: All right.

ROMANS: Eastern time. BERMAN: A Minnesota school bus driver being called a hero this morning and for good reason. He did the right thing, possibly saving some lives. Alfred Lewis (ph) was driving four special needs students near Minneapolis on Thursday morning when a heater on the bus began to smoke. Look at this. So, he pulled over and got the kids, including two in wheelchairs and a nurse off the bus just as the heater burst into flames. You can see the situation there.


INSPECTOR MARK BRULEY, BROOKLYN PARK POLICE: He did exactly the right thing, and that is, you know, take things serious. When you smell smoke, you know, do the right thing, pull over, you know, get everybody off the bus or out of the vehicle. That's exactly what he did.


BERMAN: Lewis tried to put out the flames even with a fire extinguisher but was not able to do that because the fire was so out of hand at that point. Luckily, everyone did get away safely. Another bus quickly arrived to take the students to school.

ROMANS: Quite a story.

All right. Chris Christie making quite the impression in front of a group of conservatives who, you know, haven't been shy about expressing their distrust of New Jersey's governor. What he said and what it means for 2016, that's next.


BERMAN: Conservatives gathered again today at the annual political action conference, CPAC, set to hear from Rick Perry and Rand Paul, but many are still thinking about Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor came out swinging in a speech, a highly anticipated speech Thursday. What did he do? He attacked the media and President Obama, and of course, received a warm welcome for both of those things.

Now, this crowd, though, in the past, has doubted the governor's conservative credentials. We're going to talk about this, because it is key, crucial to Chris Christie's future.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now from Washington.

ROMANS: Hey, Paul.

BERMAN: Paul, you know, what were some of the highlights of the governor's speech?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. Well, let's talk about that welcome right off the bat. Some people did stand and applaud. I wouldn't call it a standing ovation, a very warm welcome. He was well received by this crowd, the largest conference of conservatives each year. You're right, though.

Remember last year, he wasn't even invited to this conference because his policies weren't deemed conservative enough, this after the New Jersey governor praised President Obama standing right next to him over the federal government's response to superstorm Sandy. But hey, that was then, this is now. Remember, Chris Christie in the spotlight the last two months, being attacked in the media because of the bridge controversy.

And, you know, while conservatives may not love Christie, they like the mainstream media even less. You know the old saying, an enemy of my enemy is my friend? As you mentioned, New Jersey governor definitely touted his conservative credentials to the crowd, his anti- abortion credentials as well in his speech to the crowd.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: And when they said it could never be done, now twice, twice for the first time since Roe versus Wade, New Jersey has elected a pro-life 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.


STEINHAUSER: And check this picture out. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, came well-armed, I guess you could say, to CPAC. There he is giving a rifle to retiring senator, Tom Coburn, for an NRA courage award. Listen, McConnell not a favorite of those on the right, I think you could say. He's up for re-election this year. He faces a conservative primary challenger, maybe holding a rifle helps his image a little bit -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: Who's on deck, Paul, today? Another who's who list of speakers.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. We had a bunch of potential GOP 2016'ers yesterday. We got some more today. Let's start with Rick Perry, the former -- current Texas governor who's thinking about running again, Mike Huckabee, remember he ran in 2008, Rick Santorum ran last time around, and the new superstar on the right, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Of course, tomorrow, you got the results of that straw poll. Much watched, much analyzed, but really, is it a true barometer of what will happen two years from now? Stay tuned.


BERMAN: -- George Allen can tell us all about the --


BERMAN: All right. Paul Steinhauser, great to have you up early with us. ROMANS: Thanks, Paul.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan joins us this Friday morning. Hi, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning, guys. Happy Friday. We're going to be following, continuing as you guys have, some breaking developments in Ukraine. President Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone for an hour about the crisis, but of course, the question is, did it accomplish anything or do they continue to just be talking past each other?

We're going to be live across the region covering the situation, which just continues to escalate. And we're also going to break it down with experts, including the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and our own Fareed Zakaria, of course, to get his take and insights on this.

And then you've got to hear this one. This is kind of like maybe today's version of the up-skirting story that we had yesterday? A California man says he drank way too much at a casino. It happens. That he blacked out. And then he woke up only to realize that he had gambled away some half a million bucks at a casino.

He's now suing the casino saying that they should have cut him off. Does he have a case or is this just a very expensive case of sour grapes? I don't know.

BERMAN: this was not me. Just to be clear.

ROMANS: This is a case of fermented grapes, not sour grapes.



BOLDUAN: But we love fermented grapes. We don't love losing half a million bucks.


ROMANS: Wow! That's cool. I can't wait to hear about that story. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Oh, yes. Talk about a hangover. Thanks, guys.


BERMAN: Look forward to it.

All right. Coming up for us, two marines now off the job after a deadly, deadly accident. We'll have that story when we come back.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Good morning. Two marines, a captain and a master sergeant, have now been relieved of duty, disciplined after an explosion that left four fellow marines dead during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton. The investigation to that accident last year said the explosion was probably the result of a dropped or kicked grenade as the marines gathered up unexploded ordinates. The two marines disciplined were in charge of that exercise.

This morning, we're seeing the impact of those tough, new, state abortion restrictions in Texas. Two more Texas abortion clinics are closing their doors because they say no hospital would give their doctors admitting privileges as required. Backers say the rules crackdown on dangerous, substandard care. Opponents say they're designed to shutter these clinics. In 2011, there were 44 such facilities in Texas. By September, that number is expected to drop to six.

New details this morning about a jailhouse fight involving former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez already charged with first-degree murder in a shooting death that took place last year. Now, a Massachusetts sheriff is pressing for misdemeanor assault and battery charges saying Hernandez punched another inmate. It will be up to a magistrate to decide if Hernandez will be charged with a crime.

Happening today in California, state lawmaker plans to unveil his bill banning orca shows at SeaWorld. Assemblyman Richard Bloom says it's a reaction to CNN films' "Blackfish" saying the creatures are, quote, "too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives." SeaWorld is not commenting.

Coming up, a wild day for a man who insisted he's not the father of bitcoin. A car chase, speculation landing the media at his doorstep. That story, bizarre story in "Money Time," next.


ROMANS: Happy Friday. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time."

Happy birthday, bull market. Almost five years old. And the S&P 500 right here at record highs. Not even a Russian bear can blow out the birthday candles, but today, it could all change with a jobs report at 8:30 a.m. eastern time. U.S. Futures flat right now. European stocks lower today. Asian markets had a very good week. Tokyo ended up.

Here's the jobs forecast, a 150,000 new jobs created. That's the consensus of economists surveyed by CNN Money. The harsh winter probably putting a hiring in a deep freeze. The jobless rate likely held steady at 6.6 percent.

Bank of America launching a new checking account to prevent its customers from overdrawing funds and getting hit with fees. It's for chronic overdraft people, people who get chronic overdraft fees. The safe balance account will stop customers from taking out more than they have in their account at the ATM or while paying their bills online or while using debit cards at places like retailers and restaurants.

You've got to pay for it, though. Here's the deal, you pay 60 bucks a year so that you don't overdraw, right? But when you compare that with the average $225 a year customers are currently paying in overdraft fees, it may be worth it. A lot of personal finance experts say, hey, just turn off the overdraft protection, you know, and then your card doesn't work when you try to take it out. But that's interesting, interesting product from Bank of America.

And a growing mystery this morning surrounding the identity of the creator of bitcoin. "Newsweek" just published a piece about Satoshi Nakamoto, the man considered the founder of the digital currency and that has created a frenzy. Yesterday, news reporters, I'm not kidding, there was a car chase through the streets of Los Angeles, following this man, Nakamoto.

The 64-year-old now denies he is the founder of bitcoin. Fascinating article by "Newsweek," and it sparked a car chase, a car chase in L.A.

"NEW DAY" starts now.