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Obama Versus Romney And Putin; The Search For Landslide Survivors; Families Accuse Airline Of Cutting Back Help

Aired March 26, 2014 - 07:30   ET

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


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": Two reporters who know this president well. Let's watch the president answer. John Karl from ABC asked the question. If you call on John Call, you're going to get this kind of a question. Here's the president's answer when it comes to what he think about Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: With respect to Mr. Romney's assertion that Russia's our number one geopolitical foe, they don't pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So you guys know how this process works. Number one, that's a big jarring at the end. Number one -- part of it is, they're at this nuclear security summit. They were running around doing table top exercises if God forbid something like this happens. So that's why that's on the president's mind. But to the point, they knew if they called on John Karl, they were going to get a tough question about the criticism back home. He bites his lip before he answers. He looks down a little bit. He's kind of thinking, how far do I want to go here in going back at Mitt Romney?

MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": We've both gotten that look too.

PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You much more than me.

TALEV: He's like, thank you very much for that question. He's trying to figure out if he wants to make it a rehash of the 2012 election or does he want to say eyes on the prize. Is he just trying to make this whole thing go away? A lot running through his head at this time.

BAKER: He tries to diminish Mitt Romney and Russia. It's not that big a deal in effect is what he's saying, just as he's saying Mitt Romney was wrong. In the end, he's trying -- trying to address the criticism back home that he's been weak. He's been naive, misjudged Vladimir Putin and he's trying to push back on that. He's trying to say, look, there's bigger things going on in the world. Let's watch the bigger picture. KING: Watch is as this plays out, you have both the president overseas. Michelle Obama is overseas. The deadline for enrolment in Obamacare is approaching in a few days. Now they're going after moms to try to pressure young people to sign up including the actor, Jonah Hill's mom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON FELDSTEIN, JONAH HILL'S MOM: Seriously, do you want your mother to have a nervous breakdown? You need to have health insurance. It's not too much to ask in my opinion.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We nag you because we love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Sasha and Malia's mom at the end there. Look, they've been clever here. Trying to do everything they can. Some people think it's beneath the presidency. But I would call using every new media you possibly can. The question is for all this smart marketing and pushing, are they going to get there? Will they get to the enrolment numbers they need?

TALEV: Well, if they keep delaying it long enough. They'll get pretty close to the numbers, the split between old sick people who cost a lot of money and young healthy people is still very much in doubt. This latest slide is like a push. It's not like a huge loophole. The way some of these other loopholes has been.

BAKER: If you're Jonah Hill, call your mother. The idea is to attract a generation of people who are not sitting around listening to CNN every day as they should. They feel invincible and they need somebody to nudge them in a way that the other wives wouldn't actually go.

KING: I mentioned the first lady was overseas. The White House was very clear, before Michelle Obama's trip, with the two daughters and her mother, that this was not a political trip. They are going to China on spring break. They were showing the image of generations of family kind of reaching out to the Chinese actually. Now several times, two or three, she has raised some issues.

Listen to this. This is Michelle Obama speaking yesterday. There are laws in America that allow discrimination against black people like me. Over time, ordinary citizens decided that those laws were unfair. Subtle, but important in a country like China that persecutes minorities.

BAKER: It's interesting too. You know, for five years, they've kind of down played, frankly, the historic nature of their presence in the White House. It was so inspiring to the world in 2008 and 2009. Hasn't been the main focus, to hear her speak in those terms again reminds you of the potential power they do have, particularly in a country like China.

KING: And she's handled it I would say quite well, not a parse in statement, that you don't get the Chinese mad at you in advance. You come over with a soft message. She gently raised it. However, I would say the Chinese have been interesting. Chinese television has not shown those remarks. In their long speech at the Peking University, they did put the full transcript. They did not edit that, which she has a few wax on human rights on the internet.

TALEV: It's really interesting. It's also interesting the way the White House said the trip where she did not take a traveling press pool from the United States. What it really is, sort of down play the idea that it's a political trip and get the reporters that are a foreign correspondent in China. Not a U.S. politics is what Mrs. Obama doing in perspective.

KING: What a shift now to what I'll call sometimes politicians say the darnedest things. Bruce Braley is a Democrat. He is running for the Senate. He is a member of the United States House. He is running statewide now. He wants to be the next Democratic senator for the state of Iowa. A tracker catches him as he in1u89 insults the state's senior Republican senator and more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: To put this in stark contrast, if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who's been literally fighting toward reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate Judiciary Committee, or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practice law serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In a word, I think it's called pandering. You're raising money from trial lawyers. You are essentially saying I would be your guy in the Senate. I will fight efforts to have lawsuit reform, but you insult your senior senator. To me, the image, he's standing next to this fancy bar cart telling the people of Iowa you have this dumb hick lawyer in the Senate.

TALEV: The trifecta, right. It's like the Mitt Romney video all over again. It's a bad day for Bruce Braley.

KING: Is it enough to put those seats -- most people think it's sort of the out liar. Is that enough. When House candidates run stayed wide, sometimes they make mistakes, is that enough to put that in play?

BAKER: It's like football. He's the only Democrat. He doesn't have a competition in the primary. The Republicans have three candidates running. He has a lot of time to get over it, but it's not a helpful thing.

KING: All right, we got to get back to New York. Peter, thanks for coming in and Margaret. But as we get back to New York. Mr. Berman and your partners there, I don't know how your brackets are doing. Mine is doing quite miserably. You know, in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell had a brief moment showing Duke celebrating a national championship. So he's in trouble for that. He had to apologize. Showing you the video here.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Hash tag, fail.

KING: Yes, however, his Democratic opponent who has criticized him saying he is out of touch on this. She picked Wichita State to beat Kansas and her bracket then has Florida beating Louisville. No, our politics is local. Even if you think your teams are going to lose. You are running for Senate, pick the Kentucky team.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president picked swing states doing the brackets back during campaigns. It's simple politics, John.

KING: We don't have to worry about that here.

PEREIRA: Clearly we all have.

All right, next up on NEW DAY, a potential breakthrough in the hunt for Flight 370. A big field of objects has been spotted in the ocean by satellites. We'll have the very latest on that.

BERMAN: Plus the desperate search for the missing after the devastating landslide in Washington State. We will speak to a family member looking for his father next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The search is continuing this morning for survivors in the catastrophic landslide in Washington State. We know as many as 24 people are dead, 170 people are still unaccounted for. One of those missing is Steven Neal. He was in the area when the landslide hit. His son, Ryan Neal joins us this morning.

Ryan, first of all, we want to tell you that we are sending our best wishes to you and your family. We want to know how you are doing this morning and how's your family doing?

RYAN NEAL, FATHER MISSING IN LANDSLIDE: They're -- they're doing as well as they can given the situation. Everybody's being very strong and being there for each other. You know, we're feeling everybody's thoughts and prayers.

PEREIRA: We understand from emergency officials that among the people missing are not just residents but people that were in the area working. Tell us what your father was doing there. We understand he's not a resident of that town where it hit.

NEAL: No. My parents live in Darrington, Washington, and my father is a plumber. He was installing a hot water tank for a lady who had just purchased a house in the area. He was working with a friend of his, Bill, who is also missing.

PEREIRA: Did you know that Bill and Steven were working that day or did you find that out later? NEAL: We knew that they were working in that area. He lets us know where he's going to be and his expected time to be home. So we knew when we heard that the mudslide was in that area, that he was close to it in or in it.

PEREIRA: How did you get an indication that something bad had happened?

NEAL: I was actually at work and I received a call from my wife and she informed me on the situation. And so after that, it was just making sure that nobody else that we knew was in there and checking on the rest of the family. Then trying to coordinate efforts to find my father.

PEREIRA: You talked about Bill and your dad, Steve, his partner, Bill. You talk about the folks you know. We understand these are really tight-knit community. How's the community dealing with this? It has such an impact on such a tight-knit community.

NEAL: Darrington has always pulled together in times of need. I can tell you from being up visiting my mother just while I was there, we had people stopping by, giving her hugs. People dropping by with food and just checking to see if they need anything. It's really nice how -- how the people have really pulled together to make sure that she's taken care of in her time of need.

PEREIRA: Isn't that when community most counts? Give us an idea of what authorities are telling you. Are they giving you regular updates and briefings?

NEAL: We're getting the same briefings that everybody else is getting, the same information that's going out across the news is the same thing we're getting from the town hall meetings and local officials. So really, we don't know anything more than you guys do.

PEREIRA: As a resident of the area, were you at all concerned about the landslide possibility or potential in the area?

NEAL: There was a previous landslide that had diverted the river. We knew that it was a landslide area. Some officials had come out, surveyed the area and reinforced it. But just the magnitude of this landslide, there really wasn't much that they were going to do to hold it back. As far as I know, they were monitoring the potential for the landslide, but nobody really knew that this was going to happen like this.

PEREIRA: It comes as a shock to so many people. Tell us a little bit more about your dad, Steve.

NEAL: My dad's just a caring person, has a very strong faith and a strong belief that you need to do what's right. And I know that if -- even if he's in trouble and there's any glimmer of hope, he's going to be doing everything he can to keep the people around him alive and safe and well. He's always put others before himself. And so we're -- we're just keeping faith and hope in his ability to survive. He was a survival enthusiast. He did enjoy trying to find ways to survive in extreme conditions. Hopefully those -- those skills are serving him well.

PEREIRA: He's got a good son. Ryan, we appreciate you telling us a little bit about your dad. We add our hope to yours that your dad and his partner, Bill, will be wrong the survivors. Send our best wishes to the community there as they struggle to deal with this disaster.

NEAL: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Our hearts go out to that family and all those families that they are dealing with this right now and the unknown that they are facing.

PEREIRA: That's the unknown and I was thinking about the connection to the Malaysian situation, those families. The agonizing wait. These families in Washington State, the agonizing wait, it's torture.

BERMAN: Right, next up for us on NEW DAY, back to Flight 370. Crews wrapping up another day of searching for that plane. Even with the new satellite images that are raising some hope, families still frustrated with the response from Malaysia. We'll hear from one of them right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. There is breaking news this morning, 120 pieces of possible debris, objects spotted by satellite over the Indian Ocean. It's unclear though if they belong to Flight 370. The longer the search, the more painful the experience for families of 239 passengers and crew on the flight. They, in fact, are now accusing the airline of cutting back on personnel and not keeping their promises to care for the families.

Pauline Chiou joins us from Beijing and for the first time live she has an interview with a family member in Beijing -- Pauline.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, I want to introduce you to Steven Wang. He's from Beijing. He lives here. His mother, a retired chemistry teacher, is on the flight. Steve and I have been talking the past couple of days off camera. Steve, now you're ready to give your message to the world. Initially you didn't want to do media interviews, but now you've become so frustrated with what's going on. What exactly are you asking for on this day, day 18 as we wrap up this day?

STEVEN WANG, MOTHER WAS ON FLIGHT: Well, me and most of the relatives here are seeking for the truth, the truth about what happened to the plane and the truth about where it was. That's what we want.

CHIOU: Why don't you believe the data and the answers from the Malaysian government? Because you have said time and time again that you believe the Malaysian government is actually hiding something.

WANG: Yes.

CHIOU: Why do you believe that? WANG: Well, because the conclusion is just by a theory, just by analysis from the satellite data. There are no direct evidence that shows that they saw some of the things from the plane, nothing found. So I don't believe any such kind of conclusion.

CHIOU: Now the data from the satellite company and from the U.K. aviation authority has been collected and the Malaysian authorities have taken that into account. And when you take into account also the amount of fuel that the plane would have had at that point, they're saying the logical conclusion is that it was in this part of the southern corridor in the southern third Indian Ocean. Why is that not good enough for you?

WANG: Because it is still a theory. It is just still an analysis. No one have seen anything, and they just said where it should be, where it might be, and it should turn back or it should -- and they said that it is based on the basically speed for the whole theory, but if the plane tried to hide, I don't believe it.

CHIOU: The families have been having these meetings with the high level delegation from Malaysia. You've asked very, very technical questions, even questions about the civilian radar and military radar.

WANG: Yes. Yes.

CHIOU: Have you asked the question about after 1:00 a.m., when the civilian radar lost contact with the plane and after 2:00 a.m. with military radar losing contact, have you asked the question about whether or not the civilian radar team passed on their information to the military radar team? And what have they said to the families?

WANG: Well, what they said is I think ridiculous because they said we are -- first they said we are in the same office so we lose contact from the civil radar, they said we noticed the military so that they -- they could help us. And after that they said, we are in the same building so it take time for us to notice the military side. Well, from the beginning it was ridiculous. They gave different answers several times. And they also said that we -- and last they confirmed that we have the tracking on the military radar from the beginning but they didn't do anything.

CHIOU: Let's talk about your level of hope. A few days ago when you and I talked you had said that you're realistic, but at the same time you feel that most families are sort of 80 percent ready for bad news, 20 percent hoping for good news still. Today what do you think in terms of hope?

WANG: To me I think it might be 5 percent that there is still hope and -- but most of the families don't believe that it might be bad news. Most of the families still think that there will be hope.

CHIOU: When you say 5 percent hope for yourself, hope for what?

WANG: Yes. That it was still maybe negotiating by the hijacker and the government or something like that and they're just -- they're just talking with some of the hijackers or something like that, that they're still negotiating. If they make a deal, maybe our family back.

CHIOU: OK, so you still have a sliver of hope in a very convoluted way, you're hoping that this was a hijacking situation?

WANG: Yes. Yes. There is no evidence that shows that it is not a hijacking.

CHIOU: OK, Steve, thank you so much for your time. I know it's been a really emotional and exhausting 18 days. We really appreciate it. So Michaela, I can tell you that initially these relatives were very, very reticent and hesitant to speak with the media, but now they're so frustrated that they've turned grief into action and now they've come together. They've formed a committee. You saw that protest yesterday in front of the Malaysian Embassy. They're trying to speak with one voice and get the information out.

PEREIRA: We should point that out. If any of you were noticing the t-shirt that Steven was wearing, pray for those on MH-370, pray for their safe return. Pauline Chiou, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Next up on NEW DAY, much more on the breaking news out of Perth in the search for Flight 370. More objects spotted by satellite. Could they be from the plane? We will bring you the very latest coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)