Return to Transcripts main page


7.1 Million In Obamacare; Paul Ryan's Budget Utopia; Scott Brown's New Home State; Mystery Of Flight 370; Landslide Crews Face Toxic Conditions

Aired April 2, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": A lot driving our day inside politics. We're going to start with Obamacare. 7 point plus million enrolled in the program. Now what for the politics? Joining me to share their reporting and their insights, Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg News, Scott Conroy of RealClearPolitics.

Let's start with the president. You're with the president yesterday and it's hard not to call this a victory lap.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's helping people from coast to coast. All of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people or undermine the law or trial to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I got to admit, I don't get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?


KING: His spirits there are up. He's fully embracing. It's his law. Is there any belief that other Democrats will start bragging like that?

JULIANNA GOLDMAN, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": I think the giddiness that you saw from the president and the chief of staff came to the briefing room with donuts. You know it was a special day at the White House yesterday. I think that giddiness extends to the president's legacy. I don't necessarily think it extends as to how they view Democrats fortunes come November.

Look, they are saying that the 7 million gets them to withdraw, but Republicans are going to be pouring millions and millions of dollars into ads against incumbents who voted for Obamacare. They are still in a world of hurt. So the big question for the White House is how do they now pivot? Do they need to keep playing defense when it come to the Affordable Care Act or can they try and change the narrative to focus more on economic and public issue?

KING: The president hits the road to try that today. But to that point, does this put any pressure on Republicans to be different in their argument. Here's a tweet from Ted Cruz yesterday. Of course, he is one of the Armageddon guys the president would say. He says dancing in the end zone while millions of Americans hurt. Obamacare wasn't working last year and it's not now. We need full repeal.

Cruz is in the repeal camp, Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, a potential 2016 prospect, he's going to release today his repeal and replace plan. What is the debate within the Republican Party about whether to just criticize it or if you criticize it you have to say here's what we do?

SCOTT CONROY, "REAL CLEAR POLITICS": I think we're moving more towards here's what we do. If you look at our "Real Clear Politics" polling average on the health care issue it's still well underwater. There is on ABC/"Washington Post" poll that showed it about even. But the average over the course of the month says it's underwater. So we'll see if those numbers move or not, but Republicans still think it's a good issue for them to run on.

KING: And here's proof of that, I just want to show our viewers a picture. Senate Democrats had a news conference to brag like the president to say these are great numbers. We told you so. Look at the pictures here. You might not recognize these faces. These are members of the Senate leadership mostly. They are the more liberal members of the Senate. None of them are from a red state or a purple state. None of them are on the ballot this year. So that's still the problem, right? Getting the vulnerable. Getting the Marie Landriues, the Mark Bagetts, the people in the tough states to say, this is great.

GOLDMAN: That's right. And you're not going to see them standing up there at press conferences touting the Affordable Care Act probably. It's easier now to say let's work to fix something that's working to tweak it as opposed to fix something that's broken. You're still going to be hearing probably this needs to be fixed message coming from those vulnerable Democrats.

KING: But do they feel a bit stronger now?

CONROY: Yes, I mean, I think Democrats were looking for anything to get excited about, heading into November and this gives them something.

KING: When we had the disastrous rollout, there were a lot of people in this town even some Democrats privately saying Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary could go. She's the former governor of Kansas. She might be quick on her heels saying there's no place like home and may be going home. Listen here. She had a conversation. The next open enrollment period is in November, after the election. Listen.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Absolutely. This is the most satisfying work I've ever done.


KING: Does the president want her to stay or is this more of a case in an election year if she left and you had to nominate a replacement, you would give the Senate a platform to have another health care debate.

GOLDMAN: Those are issues in consideration right now. Kathleen Sebelius was at the president's event in the Rose Garden yesterday. They have been supportive of her early on after the disastrous roll out. In October when she did an interview that didn't go so well here on CNN. The president called her to tell her look, we're sticking with you and call her with words of support.

KING: Loyalty helps.


KING: Let's move on. The Paul Ryan budget. We talked about Paul Ryan yesterday in the context he wants to be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He did release his last budget as the House Budget Committee chairman yesterday and Democrats think this could give them an opening. Let's look at some of the particulars.

They want to get to a balance budget eventually, the House Republicans do. It cuts $5.1 trillion over a decade. Balances by 2024. The big thing Democrats think is they can take advantage of the changes, both spending cuts and then changes in the Medicare program to give you the right to opt out of Medicare. Do the Democrats really think they can seize on that this year?

CONROY: Yes, the Democrats were happy to run on the Ryan budget in 2012. They are going to be happy to run on it again. One thing that's kind of interesting that a lot of people haven't been talking about so far is that yesterday, when the budget came out, a lot of these Tea Party groups really came out and criticized it as well.

It speaks to me about how Ryan has been perceived more and more as part of the party establishment. You had Sarah Palin come out yesterday and called it a joke. She is still an important figure when it comes to Republican primary politics so that's just something else to watch.

KING: Not conservative enough.

GOLDMAN: But even more than the Medicare argument, I think Democrats see a stronger argument when it comes to taxes. In the Ryan budget, he lowers taxes for top income earners, increases for middle class Americans, cuts benefits and so Democrats think that was what the more potent argument actually in 2012 that exposed -- that vulnerability is when it comes to values.

That's the contrast they're looking to seize on heading into November. They think the giddiness of the affordable care act yesterday extended to the Ryan budget as well because this gives the values contrast that they can then pivot away from Obamacare.

KING: We'll see if Democrats can shift the dynamic on that debate. Let's close with this one, former Senator Scott Brown, remember he won that big election in Massachusetts. Now he's exploring running for a Senate seat after losing in Massachusetts. He is exploring running in New Hampshire. He came back to the Senate yesterday. He went to the Republican luncheon. Standing ovation in the Republican luncheon. Listen to the Democratic Leader Harry Reid welcoming Scott Brown back to the Hill.


SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm sure you've all heard this before, but Senator Mikulski said last week in the caucus, that the constitution guarantees every state two senators, but the constitution does not guarantee every senator two states.


KING: Leader Reid there trying to put the carpet banger on Scott Brown. Why does he get so under the Democrat skin?

CONROY: Well, I mean, I don't think that -- obviously the carpet bagger is in charge that they can make. Why does he get under their skin? I don't know. He's good at putting himself in front of a camera and being that kind of celebrity politician. He didn't do such a good job out of the gates. He was asked by the AP about the cargo bagger thing and his response was leaning to the fact of whatever.

But I mean, as you know, I'm not sure how much this sticks. New Hampshire in some ways is almost like an extension of Massachusetts. He's well known in the state. He's had a home in there for a while. Almost everyone in New Hampshire is covered by the Boston media market. So I don't know how much that's really going to stick in the end.

KING: He hasn't completely said he's running yet. He says he's exploring right now. We'll see. Julianna, Scott, thanks for coming in.

As we go back to New York, I just want to remind you guys. I know you were celebrating with me the Red Sox being at the White House. Chris Cuomo, if you got a chance to be next to the president, would you take a selfie?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. I tried to take one the last time I interviewed him. Three men with ear pieces attacked me. They treated me like you did, John, when you threw me over your shoulder --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: What? I clearly missed something.

CUOMO: When we were doing the story about the reporter who was threatened by the congressman and he said I'm going to throw you over the balcony. John said it would look like this and he threw me over his shoulder.

BOLDUAN: Proof John King is stronger than Chris Cuomo.

KING: No, no, I wouldn't say that.

BOLDUAN: I think there's always time for a good selfie maybe not when the president is right there. But if he's game, it's pretty priceless. KING: I'm glad we had to have those pictures as part of this Red Sox nation.

BOLDUAN: I love you, John. See you later.

All right, we're going to take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, still no verified wreckage found of Flight 370 in the vast South Indian Ocean. But how could a plane simply disappear from radar. A look at how technology has seemed so far to fail Flight 370.

And also ahead, the grim search for landslide victims gets even more dangerous. Crews are now also having to worry about toxic chemicals in their search. We're going to take you inside.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The search for Flight 370 has taught us a lot about technology that is in place right now. More importantly, what didn't seem to be working both on the plane and around it, all the support systems that we thought would start helping to pick up this plane hasn't happened yet.

We even had a U.S. naval base in the area. The famed Diego Garcia supposedly renowned for its capabilities. It didn't pick up the plane even though it kind of flew right passed this. Here to walk through how this plane could have disappeared is a former advisor to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, lieutenant colonel in the British military, Mr. Michael Kay.

Michael, thank you for being here. Let's retrace the steps and you can help us understand how this was able to happen and not be picked up, which is kind of the riddle of this situation. We keep trying to prove what didn't happen.


CUOMO: So we know with the first marker here, this is where the plane made what we believe is the ill-fated turn, right?

KAY: Absolutely. Got airborne from Kuala Lumpur. We've got to look at what we know, Chris, at the moment. We know at 1:07, the ACARs went off. We know at 1:19, there was this communication saying, all right, good night, and then at 1:21 is the key bit. That's when the transponder was turned off. The transponder as we know is vital. It gives position. So we know it's last position. It gives squawk, 2157. We know from yesterday what the transcript said and we know it was at flight level three-five-zero, around 35,000 feet.

So this is unequivocal data, but it's the last unequivocal data that we have. The question starts to arise, Ho Chi Minh 120.9. We know that they were told to go to Ho Chi Minh at 120.9. They didn't go. What was the emergency protocols of Vietnamese radar at that point? Who were they contacting?

There was a distress cell. It has a radio to get in touch with the cockpit and you can talk to other aircraft in the corridors. What conversations went on with military radar? How did military radar know, Malaysian military, Indonesian military, why weren't they spiked to look for something?

CUOMO: Now could it be that none of it happened?

KAY: It could be none of it happened. I could be a lot of it happened. What radar was Malaysia looking at? We've heard all this conversation. When the aircraft tracked west, it went down to 12,000 feet and took a left-hand turn. It went up to 45,000 --

CUOMO: As it makes this turn left to here --

KAY: Absolutely. Westbound. Westbound.

CUOMO: And then that gets picked up how?

KAY: OK. So we then go back to the Inmarsat analysis. What these guys have done is very clever. They've never had to do this before. As we know, they came up with a southern arc and northern arc, which is fine. Speed equals distance over time type data from sending the ping back. The clever bit is how they've looked at the Doppler shift and correlated it with the southern versus the northern.

What they did was they looked at other tracks on aircraft in the northern corridor and went, doesn't match those, matches tracks of aircraft in the southern and that's why they are going with southern. But what we need to do is corroborate that evidence. As we know, the search has been going on in the south for a long time now.

CUOMO: Right. Why is that? Because it got picked up by something as it started to move south, right? Not radar but something else.

KAY: Well, what they did was the Inmarsat guys basically looked at the correlation mapping and looked at the aircraft that were in the southern sector and it matched that. That's why they've said it has gone south. There are assumptions now on how far south it actually traveled. We've seen it's kind of moving northwards. But what was the fuel load, what was the altitude, what was the speed, did it dump fuel. We don't know. This is why we're having so many problems tracking the aircraft.

CUOMO: Why so many unknowns. I may be standing on it. But Diego Garcia is just one element here. It's the U.S. surveillance outpost there. It supposed to be so powerful. Yes, it's supposed to be looking up into space. But the plane basically goes right near it. Nobody sees it. All of what I've been calling these snoopy sovereigns. India doesn't see anything. Indonesia here sees nothing. How did all of these places that have surveillance capabilities not pick up this big jet?

KAY: It's the million-dollar question. Those questions you're can go asking are the questions that are still unknown.

CUOMO: What is the chance that somebody picked up and they're just not saying it? KAY: It's a great question. I wouldn't like to speculate on that, however, we need to ask the question and we need to get an answer, yes or no. You rightly pointed out. There's a huge radar station here. Why hasn't that picked anything up? As it tracked south, Diego Garcia, there are limits. At 200 miles, it will drop off. It wasn't looking for it. It looks for intercontinental missiles. So all the unknown questions as we see this search area tracking back up north and becoming more and more frustrating. We need to keep prodding the authorities to get those answers.

CUOMO: They are important for two reasons. One, it would be great to know if there is other information and because if there isn't extra information, it explains why it's so frustrating and why the area keeps the shift because they're working off very little data.

KAY: Absolutely, Chris. What we need to do is we need to corroborate why we are looking in the south and we need to eliminate data as to why we shouldn't be looking in the north. If we can keep progressing through the investigation using that concept, then I think the authorities and the families will be content that this investigation is thorough and it's going in the right direction. At the moment, there are still people asking the question, why didn't it go north? I can't say it didn't through the analysis that we've got.

CUOMO: From what we know so far. Michael Kay, thank you. Very helpful. Appreciate it -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, search teams in rural Washington State have now more than mud to be worrying about. The catastrophic and deadly landslide is full of toxic chemicals we're now learning. We're going to take you inside this dangerous dig.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Search crews will once again begin the difficult work of sifting through the debris from the devastating landslide in Washington State. The death toll has risen to 28. The number of people still missing is 20. The desperate search through the muck and the mud nearly 80 feet deep in some places has now been handicapped by toxic and treacherous conditions and that is putting rescuers at risk. CNN's Ana Cabrera has more.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is ground zero of the Washington landslide. Our first look at the destruction up close. Debris piled up to 80 feet high in some spots. Tires, twisted cables, large appliances and uprooted trees, the only decipherable objects in the mangled mess. The images don't fully capture the devastation. This neighborhood was mutilated by the enormous force and power of land and water that ripped through this valley.

LT. RICHARD BURKE, BELLEYUR WASHINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: Our family's just gotten bigger. We've kind of adopted the town of Oso and maybe they've adopted us.

CABRERA: A week and a half after the disaster the driving force remains finding victims. Nearly two dozen people are still missing.

(on camera): Would you be able to find all the victims?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to try. I mean, that's the crystal ball question.

CABRERA: The debris field is full of a toxic sludge, a combination of human waste, chemicals from households as well as propane tanks, oil and gas making the search effort extremely dangerous.

(voice-over): Every person, animal and thing that comes out of here has to be decontaminated. Workers are forced to wait for some areas to dry out before investigating. Pumps have helped to clear some of the water where search dogs have picked up human scent. Sunshine today gave search teams the upper hand in what's inevitably a recovery mission.

(on camera): All of this heavy equipment is helping to clear the debris off the road to provide more access for rescuers. But the debris is staying put until hand crews can come and go through these piles to pull belongings for family members who lost everything.

(voice-over): Two American flags fly among the men and women working here. One, recovered from the debris, hangs in reference for lives lost. Another flag at half-staff on a lone tree left standing in the slide zone. A source of strength and a symbol of hope for better days ahead. Ana Cabrera, CNN, Arlington, Washington.


CUOMO: We will stay on the story out there because as we keep telling you, the need is great. We're going to take a break right now on "EW DAY. When we come back, investigators have not ruled out foul play in the search for Flight 370 but why? A high tech search and criminal investigation intersecting. Is this about what is known or simply guessing at what is unknown?

BOLDUAN: We're also following the latest out of Chile. Part of the country under a state of emergency right now after a powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit overnight. We'll take you live to Santiago, Chile.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expect about another 8.8, 8.9 earthquake here sometime in the future.


CUOMO: Breaking overnight, a massive earthquake rocks Chile. Thousands fleeing to safety. A tsunami warning stretching to Hawaii. And new questions, is the big one coming.

BOLDUAN: Also breaking overnight, we may never know. Malaysian investigators now acknowledging they may never find Flight 370 or what caused it to vanish.

PEREIRA: Happening today, GM's CEO set for another round of tough questions. This time in the hot seat in the Senate. Is her apology enough for families who say they loved ones due to vehicle defect?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.