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Obama Turning The Corner?; Candidate Shoots Drone In Ad; Flight 370 Families Demanding Answers; More Than 100 Dead In Ferry Disaster

Aired April 22, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JUANA SUMMERS, "POLITICO": They are, I think, very optimistic these numbers will go up and that the president will not be a drag on his party. But the question is just how much better do things get, what happens perhaps and this tour to Asia he's about to embark on. (inaudible) help out those Democrats in vulnerable states who are trying to weigh the decision on whether or not it's smarter to cling closer to this president or perhaps distance themselves.

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": And the last time we went through this, Robert, in the six-year context, the second-term president, the six-year each midterm they call it, George W. Bush, he was at about 38 percent. He could not move the numbers. The Iraq war, unpopularity was going up. Bush could not move the number. This president has some foreign policy trips that they're hoping the unemployment rate finally sinks in with voters in the country. They hope by September-October health care is more palatable anyway.

Maybe it won't be perfect. When you look at the map, one of the president's problems is we look at a national number, 42.4 percent. The big Senate races are in places where he's already at a disadvantage, right? Arkansas, Louisiana, places he lost twice.

ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's right. I think the president has had some positive news with the Obamacare and new enrollment numbers. The question is, that may be helping his numbers inch up a bit here nationally. But in those red states how is that helping Democrats especially those vulnerable Democrats? I'm not see that really a major boost even if the president goes up three points, five points. Is that going to really help Mark Beggets or Mary Landrieu, I'm not so sure.

KING: Let's keep an eye on it though. It is inching up a little bit. We'll see. If it inches up a bit more he may start getting a few more invitations in states that are marginal. Not the deep red states, but the more marginal states.

Let's look at another of the big issues. We talked about this a bit into last weekend and throughout the weekend, the Keystone pipeline. The president has decided the administration has decided to delay a final ruling on whether to approve the rest of the Keystone pipeline project. Karl Rove was George W. Bush's architect, now a contributor at Fox News. He says the president here is pandering to the base and pandering to big environmentalists who are donating millions of dollars to the Democratic Party says the president's decision was stupid. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Of course, it was about politics. It's all about politics. The president is concerned about the enthusiasm of Democratic voters going into the 2014 mid-term elections. He doesn't want to do anything that's going to depress that turnout.


KING: Is that what this is all about, that's all it is, not about policy, not about weighing your choices, it's about keeping the Democratic base happy so they vote in November?

SUMMERS: I don't think it's fair to say us all about politics. If you're a vulnerable oil state Democrat, the best news you could get is delay the decision, kick the can down the road past November to create that window. If you're a Mary Landrieu in New Orleans or if you're a senator not making a decision on the Keystone pipeline. It's a double-edged sword here. I think Karl Rove did kind of refer to and allude to in his comments.

KING: Help me though on the inside politics part of that, Robert. If you're Mark or Mary from energy states you want the Keystone pipeline approved. So is it bad for you politically that the president said wait, hit the pause button until after the election, most likely, or does it maybe in a contrarian way help you because now you get to kick the president?

COSTA: I'm leaning in that direction. Case study in Democratic constituencies, labor unions want the pipeline. The environmentalists don't. And I think the president recognizes he needs the base to come out, nose environmentalists come out. If you are a Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, she slams the White House. Creates distance between her and the president.

KING: We have drones now a factor in the midterm elections. Drones are a big issue in national security, a lot of court cases pushing the administration to release more information about them. This one has been kicking around the conservative blogosphere for a week. We have a Montana House candidate, Matt Rosendale, he doesn't think the government should be using drones or, in his words, spying on its citizens. This is pretty provocative.


MATT ROSENDALE, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, MONTANA: This is how I look from a government drone and this is what I think about it.


KING: Some of the most provocative ads involve guns it seems in our politics lately. What does it say, Robert, that you -- we've had Rand Paul on the early presidential primary making a name by going after surveillance and drones saying this is your government. Your government is doing this and firing a weapon. ACOSTA: It's amazing. When I'm out on the campaign trail, they're looking more at Rand Paul's decisions and policies rather than the Republican national committee. Rand Paul, position on NSA and drones, he's setting a new paradigm for the GOP candidates.

KING: You get attention. I often go back to Susanna Martinez when run for governor of New Mexico, a few cycles back, she was out shooting guns, a candidate shooting Obamacare, putting the health care law out there in front of him and shooting that. Does it get your votes?

SUMMERS: I think in some small pockets. The issue of drones have been big on the news. FAA announced the first drone test this week as well. It's galvanized a lot of people who are concerned not only about privacy and these civilian drones, unmanned aerial vehicles that are not armed, but those on the other side concerned the government is over reaching the use of the armed drones that are used at the Pentagon.

KING: Big part of this year's debate and next presidential debate. Robert, haven't seen you in a few days. A piece you wrote last week about Mitt Romney's re-emergence. He played last week his add for Mike Simpson in that Idaho race. He's about to have his big annual retreat. Coming to that retreat, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul jumps out at me. Here's the guy of who came to power as Tea Party guy. More and more he is trying to hug the establishment.

ACOSTA: And going really inside politics. I spoke with Rand Paul's people. He's meeting with Romney's finance chairman this Friday in Boston and mapping out all the relationships at Romney's retreat. He mows more than Christie and Ryan and others going, he needs to build these donor relationships now so when he runs in 2016, should he get close to the nomination they're behind him.

KING: Ever seen a guy who he lost the last election. A lot of Republicans were mad the day after. Now he seems to be a big brand.

SUMMERS: He is. He is a big brand. I think Mitt Romney you're seeing him step into that role of elder party states man defining who he wants to be for years to come. He doesn't want to be a candidate that fades away into irrelevancy. He wants to leave a mark. I think you see that by these state-by-state endorses and the retreat where you're going to have every presidential hopeful to kiss the ring.

KING: He also invited Peyton Manning.

SUMMERS: Peyton Manning 2016?

KING: Go back to you guys in New York. He's not going to run for anything in New England again. If he's inviting Peyton Manning to the Utah retreat, not Tom Brady, no.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think Peyton Manning should be invited to everything.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Of course you do. BOLDUAN: I'm very unbiased.

KING: Who is your girl?

BOLDUAN: Exactly. He'll always be a Colt to me. Thanks, John.

CUOMO: But he isn't.

BOLDUAN: But he is.

CUOMO: He's a Bronco.

BOLDUAN: But he is.

CUOMO: But he isn't.

BOLDUAN: We will fight about this in the break.

CUOMO: When you look at the uniform, the answer may bite you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the desperate search continues for Flight370. Families seem to be nearing their breaking point. Furious with Malaysian officials. They believe have repeatedly held back information. We're going to speak to a family member of one of the American victims coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. More disappointment for families of the missing passengers of Flight 370 after Malaysian officials postponed a long awaited meeting. Relatives are desperately looking for answers to a list of questions. Some technical, some pretty simple, surrounding the investigation. Sarah Bajc is one of those pressing for an answers. She is partner of Philip Wood, an American on board Flight 370.

She is joining us now live from Beijing. Sarah, thank you very much once again for coming in to speak with us. As the days pass, it seems these briefings for family members have become more and more frustrating. In your writings I sense that must trace as well. What is your biggest frustration?

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD, AMERICAN ON BOARD MH-730: The briefings have become more like a stand-up comedy routine, you know, black comedy or maybe Gallo's comedy. Our frustration is that there is no information given. The only thing that the Malaysian government has released so far has been opinions basically. So they've not released a single piece of data. And the families have basically lost their patience with it. So we've been busily organizing ourselves. We've been up to almost 200 total family members combined together between the Chinese families, Malaysian families, and families from other countries such as Australia and India and, of course, the United States. And we're going to start to put a lot more political and perhaps even legal pressure on the government to release data for third-party assessment.

BOLDUAN: At this point do you think you want to or need to pursue legal action to get answers?

BAJC: We don't feel we have a whole lot of other choices because we're certainly not getting any answers without it. Now, the general perception within the family group, nobody is interested in compensation lawsuits, and we're really quite sick of being hassled by attorneys trying to get us to sign on to earn millions of dollars. That's got to stop. We really do need advice in how to pressure Malaysian Airlines to open up what should be exposed information in a criminal investigation.

BOLDUAN: In a way that I don't think I've ever seen before or anyone has seen before, the sense of despair and disappointment is so obvious and palpable, can you describe the roller coaster of what it is like for families to go into these briefings? You're a very reasonable person asking questions and getting nothing in return.

BAJC: Not only do we not get any information but we actually get distraction and lack of respect. I mean, the way that the families have been treated, especially these last couple of weeks, is completely disrespectful. And it just aggravates an already very painful situation, effort Chinese families that are here that have such limited access to information. You know, the Chinese government blocks a lot of access to international news and other types of communication.

So even amongst our families group, we're all pretty sophisticated people, we have to use like four or five different means of communication to bypass the Chinese blocking and then the language barriers and everything else. It's actually complicated organization.

BOLDUAN: In a situation that shouldn't be complicated to get simple answers.

BAJC: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: One thing that has been brought up maybe in the past day or so is the issue of issuing death certificates. Have you been contacted, have you been asked about such a timeline, when you would think it would be appropriate to do so?

BAJC: No. Actually the non-Malaysian, non-Chinese family members have not been contacted at all as far as I'm aware. So in talking with the Australian families and the Indian families and, of course, Philip's family, none of us has been contacted. At the Malaysian briefing they did say that they wanted to get things in order so that paperwork could be processed including perhaps death certificates. They didn't say they were going to be issuing them.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of that? Because I know that you and many other family members of those that are missing want to see evidence one way or the other before you are comfortable saying what happened to your loved one. What do you think of this approach that they're making?

BAJC: Well, this is the second time they're doing it. I mean, the first time they did it was on March 24th when they basically said, OK, it's conclusive, we're sure the plane is in the ocean here. And of course within days that was proven to be wrong or at least not proven, but they restated their position and started looking someplace else.

Now they're trying to put our family members in coffins again. I mean, there's not the slightest bit of evidence that this flight has even crashed. There's no wreckage. There's no sightings. There's nothing at all that could be deemed to be actual fact. It's only conjecture at this point.

And so that's why the family members are trying to go back to square one to, to day one, and we want the Malaysian government to open up the data that should have been opened up within days of the investigation starting to a third-party, independent, yet still confidential group who is qualified to assess the data.

The air traffic control audio that should be public record. The radar for both civilian and military, the engine pings, not the analysis of the engine pings, but the actual raw data including from as much as ten days before the flight so it can be looked at for anomalies.

BOLDUAN: As far as the search that is under way right now on its tenth mission. They've come up with nothing in this search area. They're now talking about long-term plans, what the process would be if the search continued as far out as July. If this search does not pan out, if it's for some reason called off, what then for the families? What then for you?

BAJC: Well, we'll keep going back to wanting to start over with the investigation. You know, what they're doing now, searching in the ocean, is like continuing to try to bail out a boat when the hole in the bat hasn't even been found yet. They're just treating a symptom. They're not going back to the cause and it's absolutely astounding to me that they haven't been willing to release that data.

What is so confidential about the data sets that a third-party set of people couldn't come in and make new calculations on them because, clearly, the calculations they've been making so far are wrong. They're obviously wrong because the plane has not been found there. So, you know, once bitten, twice shy. We want to go back and have a little more control put into the situation.

BOLDUAN: You are going to keep the pressure on and hopefully continue to come on and talk with us about the process and the answers you guys are seeking. Sarah, thank you very much as always for your time -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, let's take a little break here. Coming up on NEW DAY, the ferry disaster in South Korea is raising new questions about U.S. ferries. Could this happen here? Would the outcome be the same? We have answers from someone who knows, coming up.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Two more crew members of that South Korean ferry have now been arrested bringing the total to nine and more than 100 people have now been confirmed to have lost their lives in the disaster. Nearly 200 more people are still feared to be in that ship's hull. Leading to questions about safety and training on passenger ferries worldwide including here in the United States where millions ride here each.

We brought in Captain Patrick Little. He is a retired captain with the U.S. Coast Guard and a former commanding officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Marines Safety Center. Captain, I'm not putting you on the spot about prognosticating what happened here, but you know the rules and regulations, what's supposed to be done, that's what we want to get out this morning.

Beginning with abandoning the ship as a captain and crew, one of the big points of criticism here. The captain made it off while people were still stuck on board. What are the rules and then what are the ethics involved?

CAPTAIN PATRICK LITTLE, U.S. COAST GUARD (RETIRED): In general from a ship design and operation point of view, it's long been a principle that the ship is its own best lifeboat. So in general, you want to stay with the ship, and there's a great deal of effort put into designing and building ships so that they're redundant. So that if something happens, if there's some flooding, if there's a fire or other sort of emergency, the ship can stay afloat and people can stay on it.

So that's generally rule number one. You know, obviously -- obviously, if it were me in charge, and I don't want to speak for the person, the people involved, but generally, the rule is that the captain is the last person to go down. So that would be the ethical consideration in that regard.

CUOMO: Well, and is it just an ethical consideration because he's being charged with it in Korea, and we've seen it before. Is there a law that the captain must stay on board until everybody else is off?

LITTLE: I'm not familiar with what the local laws would be in Korea. So you'd have to get into that, and I don't think that -- I'm not aware that that is normally regulated. That's a code of ethics. That's a code of professionalism. It goes back to being a leader, a person being in charge or a person being responsible. You've got people under your care, and you generally want to make sure that everybody's taken care of in an emergency situation.

CUOMO: Another piece of new information that came out this morning is that there's a claim from the crew that this ship has had problems with listing in the past. Have you ever heard of anything like that? A vessel this size that has trouble with listing?

LITTLE: Specifically, no. You know, ships are very large and complex entities. This is several hundred feet long. During the course of a ship's life, you know, people bring on material, they bring off material. You might have design and construction changes, and if the weights that are added and taken off aren't done in a very even way, you could end up with a residual list, but that would be something you would notice at the pier. It's not typically common for a ship to be listing to some degree during operation, but it could happen. I mean, that's something that the crew will manage. You try to manage, you know, the list which is the side to side attitude of the ship, and the trim which is the fore and aft attitude of the ship during course of operation.

CUOMO: So the main concern for folks back here in the U.S. is while we don't have a lot of 13-hour ferry voyages in the United States, a lot of people take ferries. Do you feel the captains and crews are adequately trained? They do evacuation simulations. We make sure ours have life-saving equipment so something like this will be managed as well as possible?

LITTLE: I had the fortune over my time in the coast guard to work with the ferry industry as a member of the coast guard through all aspects of design, construction and operation, and I also had the opportunity to work with many of the professionals that run the ferries all the way from the cruise to the owners to the industry association, the passenger vessel association, and I'm very confident that everybody that's involved in operating, running ferries, you know, the entire system.

There's a lot -- there's a high degree of care and attention to detail, and effort put in to doing it right, doing things the right way, and ensuring that, you know, passenger safety is paramount, and I think if you look at the record of the United States ferry industry, you'd see that it's -- it's outstanding. I mean, they've done a really, really good job. The coast guard industry, and the mariners. It really takes all parts of that group to keep things running smoothly, and the record is excellent.

CUOMO: All right, Captain, we appreciate that because obviously people are going to look at this and think about what happens the next time they get on a ferry, and so many Americans do. Appreciate it this morning -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the teen stowaway who defied death and evaded airport security. How did he survive and how did he get past hundreds of security cameras, airport police and grounds crews?