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Dems Weigh Benghazi Boycott; Police: Victims Shot In Tennis Star's Mansion; Daring Rescue From Subway Tracks

Aired May 9, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": Perhaps inevitable in the world we live in, Molly. Maybe the Democrats would do the same thing if they were in power. We don't know. We know Democrats in the past have raised money off things as they are trying to say we are investigating. But if you want to have legitimate congressional oversight and I'm a big fan, have too much versus too little. I think that was one of the lessons of weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq war.

Let's have a lot of congressional oversight. No matter who is president, no matter which party controls Congress. But can they now say this select committee, does it a huge opening for Democrats to say it's not credible. They are using this as a fundraising to turn their base not to find information.

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": Absolutely. This is exactly the story that Democrats would like us to be talking about, right, instead of talking about the facts, instead of talking about an investigation that seems serious and that is unearthing new information, we're talking about how political it is. It's very difficult for Republicans because, you know, they do want this to look like a legitimate investigation, but their base loves this issue. Their base really eats it up.

There is a lot of advantage for them to be gained from their base from it. So -- and for Democrats it's a difficult situation as well. You talk about them deciding whether to participate. It's a really tough decision for them. Are they going to legitimize this versus are they going to give Republicans an unopposed forum where there's no moderating voice.

KING: I think that's the decision in the end, are you there to say, wait a minute or do you just let them have it. We'll watch. We'll get that decision today. Here's a question, I want to raise. We are six months to the election. Are we seeing some evidence that maybe some Democrats think the Obama brand is not quite as toxic as they had previously thought? It's a question.

We knew the president was in Arkansas just early this week. It was for disaster relief. You see the tornado damage there. The president over his shoulder, Mark Pryor, vulnerable Democratic senator. Kay Hagan, the senator for North Carolina is now embracing the Medicaid expansion, key part of Obamacare. Everyone thought that health care law would be toxic. And Michelle Obama is off to Louisiana. She's going to deliver a commencement address, but that also appears separately with Mary Landrieu, another vulnerable Democratic senator. A few isolated incidences or are Democrats starting to rethink, you know what, he's with us anyway, we might as well stand with him.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: They are dipping a toe on the water. I think right now these are isolated incidents and they are very specific instances so for Arkansas there was damage. You have a senator who is showing up looking like he's doing his job. The commencement address is very specific thing and Michelle Obama's numbers are pretty good. Her numbers are better than her husband's.

But I think it is too soon to say whether Democrats are wholesale turning around, but we are in this moment where things seemed to be edging back a bit for Democrats. They certainly think so. Internally their numbers tell them that they are doing better.

KING: And so they test this, I assume. The president pops up in Arkansas. You're right. It was a disaster, presidential moment, not a campaign moment. I'm sure they look at the data and they see what happens, right?

BALL: We've seen vulnerable Democrats in previous cycles try this strategy of running with the president instead of away from him. Harry Reid in 2010 decided he was going to need to get out his base more than he needed to distance himself. Even though Obama was obviously not popular in 2010. Mark warner in 2012 in Virginia decided that the best strategy for him was to diffuse the Republican's attack.

All Republicans really had to campaign on was that guy -- not Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, we are seeing that guy is basically the same as Obama. He said, you're right, I like the guy. Now what do you got? And that ended up working for him because the Republicans didn't have anything else. So I think we maybe seeing more Democrats try that strategy.

KING: Just a footnote to that, we were just talking before we came on the air. We are not sure there is any political message here, but the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, did ask, as Michelle Obama goes out to Louisiana, who is the most admired first lady, Barbara Bush on top actually tied with Hillary Clinton at 27 percent. Michelle Obama at 24 percent. Laura Bush at 17 percent.

Not sure there's any great political meaning in that, but it is a little poll number for you to digest this morning. The president is out in California. He will have an event near Stanford University today to push his alternative energy, his climate change agenda. Whatever your views on the issues, I want to show you this. This is pretty cool. The White House is using this as a PR tactic.

Look. Not new video but that's installing solar panels on top of the White House. I love these time-lapse videos to show you how projects play out. Now let's move on to some big money. I want your colleague at "Politico," Ken Bogle reporting this morning. The Koch brothers are going to put $125 million from those two gentleman right there into the campaign this year.

They've already spent 30 something million on TV ads, but they want to apparently the effort here is to learn the lessons where the Democrats have beat them in the past. Do some data, turnout. How significant is that chunk of money when you're talking about these key Senate races in the balance?

HABERMAN: That's very significant. This is a fantastic story by my colleague. This money could really make a difference. When you're just floating money into TV ads at a certain point it all starts to balance out. Not completely but essentially people can level the playing field that way. Data is something that the Koch brothers have been looking at for a while, since 2012.

They really felt like they got defeated. This is obviously across the party. Republicans all believe this was a problem, but they have been trying to create their own system. If they can do it effectively and funnel the money correctly, it could make a big difference.

KING: In a 50/50 race, almost more important to the TV ads, right. If on Election Day you find those people grab them by the ear and turn them out.

BALL: Absolutely, although I think that the TV piece of this is really interesting as well. The messaging that they're talking about, trying to soften the image, this kind of hilarious, especially for Democrats line that like we realize that Americans really like the idea of helping the poor and the weak. So we've got to have that be our message coming from the Koch brothers, I think there are a lot of Democrats spitting out their coffee when they read that.

KING: The former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, his new book is about to come out. It's called "stress test" talks about his time at the Treasury Department, but he also talks about a moment the Associated Press got a copy of the book where in 2010 he is trying to get out of dodge. He is trying to convince the president to let him leave the cabinet. He suggests, Maggie, how about Hillary Clinton, she's doing a great job at foggy bottom, why don't you make her the new James Baker, I guess, be treasury secretary and secretary of state?

HABERMAN: That doesn't seem to fit in with her plans or anyone's plans. I think at the end of the day, despite problems at the State Department during her tenure, I think Hillary Clinton will be happier that she was where she was. You are more firmly tethered to the economy.

KING: You can imagine her running for president, people saying sign my dollar with your signature on it?

BALL: There is this hilarious undercurrent in the Geithner story. Where he keeps trying to get out and they keep pulling him back in and he claims at least that he wanted to be liberated from his cabinet post, but they just wouldn't let him.

KING: Thank you, Maggie and Molly, for coming in. As we go back to New York, Seth Myers, he has been our favorite this week, I think. Listen to him here talking about some recent security lapses at the White House.


SETH MYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": For the second time in three days the White House has gone into lockdown after somebody threw an object over the fence. And finally today, President Obama took away, Joe Biden's Frisbee.


KING: Great ultimate Frisbee player, Joe Biden.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: He is a sporty man, but I don't think that was a problem.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I always saw him as more of a hackie sacker.

BOLDUAN: Hackie sacker.

CUOMO: Hackie Sack, when was the last time you said that word?

KING: He is the scrappy kid from Scranton, he can do it all.

BOLDUAN: That's right. Scrappy. Thanks, John.

CUOMO: Have a good weekend, my friend.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a family of four is found dead when a former tennis pro's home goes up in flames, but it wasn't the fire that killed them. We're going to take you inside a very troubling investigation.

BOLDUAN: And some amazing video, a last-second potentially life- saving grab. A quick thinking detective pulls a man to safety just as he was about to jump on the subway tracks. That detective is going to be joining us live.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Disturbing developments at that fire at a Florida mansion owned by former tennis star, James Blake. Now Blake was not present, but police now say all four victims found at the scene had been shot. Now new surveillance video is raising questions about the father of the family who was renting the home. CNN's Alina Machado is in Miami with more. Alina, what do we know?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, authorities say they found small commercial type fireworks scattered throughout the home and it now looks like they're taking a closer look at what the father did in the days leading up to this fire.


UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: My God. This is so bad. I was walking my dog and the house just exploded.

MACHADO (voice-over): It was this frantic call for help early Wednesday morning that alerted police that something was horribly wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK. Do you see flames and smoke?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: The house is engulfed in flames, ma'am.

MACHADO: Inside this Florida mansion that is owned by tennis great, James Blake authorities found four people dead. Two adults in a room and two teens in two separate rooms, all had been shot. Authorities say Darren and Kimberly Campbell lived in the house with their two children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): Colin, my grandson, was a pretty good ballplayer, and his dad was very active in his support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Son, was really good friends with him. He hasn't done anything wrong ever and the daughter she was beautiful. The parents were great people. It's just so bad that this happened.

MACHADO: The Campbells had been renting the 5800-square foot house from Blake for the past two years. This exclusive Tampa area gated community is known for its mansions and celebrity residents including New York Yankees greats, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Police say fireworks were found throughout the home and in this surveillance video obtained by CNN, you can see a man believed to be Darren Campbell inside a phantom fireworks store in Tampa on Sunday buying about $600 worth of fireworks. He walks out of the store with one cart, an employee seems to help him out with a second.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can also confirm that he purchased several gas cans at a local home improvement store that same day. A firearm was recovered in the residence that was registered to Mr. Campbell.


MACHADO: The Hillsboro County Sheriff's Office would not elaborate on what they believe may have happened or on a possible motive. But they are also saying they are not searching for a suspect at this time -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Alina, thank you very much. It's such a horrible story, thank you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, incredible surveillance video to show you. A detective saves a man just as he was about to jump on the subway tracks. The detective who made that life-saving grab joins us live to describe the incredible rescue.

But first on this Sunday's "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain takes a sleigh ride of all things on the grounds of a Russian imperial palace and comes up with some royal and revolutionary ideas. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": What would I be doing on my outing if I were a czar, looking for some cool ox to impress?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hunting, no. Enjoying life.

BOURDAIN: All right, picking up some good speed here.


BOURDAIN: Some have suggested that Russia is, after all this time, coming full circle. A tiny, tiny minority in possession of nearly unlimited power and wealth. Idea of running up the steps of disavowing royals. I can easily see myself doing that. Doesn't take much convincing. I would hurl them all to see tomorrow.



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I want to show you some video that's likely to make your heart sob. This surveillance footage shows a man attempting to jump off a subway platform being pulled back at the very last second. The man who saved him is a Boston transit officer. He's here with us this morning.

Here is Detective Sean Conway with MBTA Transit Police joins us exclusively right now. First of all, what a fright to see that. Sean, thanks so much for joining us today. You were in the area chasing down a suspect in a crime when this all happened. How did you know there was trouble?

DETECTIVE SEAN CONWAY, STOPPED MAN FROM JUMPING ONTO TRAIN TRACKS: I was on a different platform when I heard commotion on a different platform. I thought some other officers were dealing with somebody, so I made my way to assist them. When I saw he was alone, I made my way to that platform just to deal with the disturbance.

PEREIRA: Now the disturbance was a man that was distraught. We don't know what his frame of mind was. We understand he might have been drinking out of a bottle at the same time. I know this was a danger for you, too, Detective. You could have gone in that pit. How did you make a decision to react?

CONWAY: When I approached him, I identified myself as a police officer. He began to drink quickly from an alcohol bottle, and he was looking towards the pit. He started to make his way towards the pit. I just reached out and grabbed him.

PEREIRA: Thank goodness you grabbed him by the wrist. If you had missed or slipped or if he had fallen out or pulled you in, it could have ended very differently.

CONWAY: Yes, when I made the decision to grab him, I just committed to pulling as hard as I could and also committed to making sure neither of us went into the pit. PEREIRA: Well, you managed to do that. You pushed him to the side, got him on the ground, held him there. Did either of you say anything at that point?

CONWAY: No. I was just trying to get him away from the pit and get him in handcuffs and get him some help.

PEREIRA: Now you guys are trained for a whole lot. You've got to get those instincts up. You got to be quick thinking. Are you trained for anything quite like this?

CONWAY: I don't think so, ma'am. It's just a right place at the right time and a little bit of luck.

PEREIRA: I also know that law enforcement guys generally don't like to be in the spotlight. You don't like to have the attention. I know you're pretty uncomfortable talking about it. But you know you are being hailed a hero.

CONWAY: Well, I'm much more comfortable on the platform than I am here right now, that's for sure.

PEREIRA: Well, that's definitely where we want you is where you can take care of folks make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. Do we know anything more about this guy, if he is OK, what happened to him after he was taken away from there?

CONWAY: I inquired yesterday at the hospital. Last I heard he was still there under observation.

PEREIRA: Detective Sean Conway, my man, you have just changed a life because you were in the right place at the right time, your quick thinking and quick actions certainly saved a life. We can't thank you enough for doing that and for joining us here on NEW DAY today. Thank you, Sir.

CONWAY: Thank you, ma'am.

PEREIRA: Keep up the great work.

CONWAY: All right, thank you.

PEREIRA: OK, Kate, Chris. I still can't believe the timing of that.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Thanks, Michaela.

CUOMO: The more heroic they are, the more quiet and understated they are. You tried, Mich. He just wants to do his job.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Republicans launching another investigation looking into the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Will Democrats join or boycott it? We'll go live to Capitol Hill at the top of the hour.

CUOMO: And CNN out front again on a story we brought you first. Fresh accusations of wrongdoing at the VA, where veterans were left to die as hospital cook its books? Could that be true? We'll bring you the latest straight ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation would not be necessary had the Obama administration come clean.


CUOMO: Decision time as Republicans force another investigation into the attack in Benghazi, Democrats will meet in just one hour to decide whether to boycott it or take the situation head on. We're going live to Capitol Hill.

BOLDUAN: Outrage at the VA. A new twist in a CNN investigation now putting even tougher questions to the secretary of Veterans Affairs. Did a VA hospital cook the books as veterans risked their lives waiting for care?

PEREIRA: Twin brothers defend their religious beliefs after losing their jobs at HGTV before they even go on air. Was it justified or political correctness gone too far?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Friday, May 9th, 8:00 in the east. In less than an hour, House Democrats may be facing a tough debate among themselves. Should they join Republicans into a probe in the attacks in Benghazi or should they boycott? The House voted Thursday largely along party lines to form a special committee to investigate what happened in Benghazi that led to the deaths of four Americans. CNN's Dana Bash is live on Capitol Hill. Why is this meeting so important?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's so important because they are truly undecided about how they're going to go just on the substance of this. Democrats insist there's no there, there. Four committees in the House have already done extensive investigations into what happened, what went wrong, what caused the death of four Americans in Benghazi and whether or not there was a coverup and there's no need for this select committee and it is all political.

So given that backdrop of how Democrats feel, the decision is whether or not to go in and be part of the process or to boycott it and not be a part of it to make it clear that it is just a political circus. Those are the decisions, very tough political decisions they'll make in the next hour or two.

BOLDUAN: So then what are you hearing from your sources about what's happening behind the scenes? I'm sure negotiations are going on, trying to get more equity on the panel if they want to be on the panel. What are you hearing?

BASH: That's really the key, Kate. We've heard a lot about the ratio, the split is going to be seven Republicans, five Democrats. That's not so much of an issue for Democrats if they do participate. It is whether or not they have access to the witnesses, real access to the witnesses and whether or not Democrats have a say in the subpoenas that go out to witnesses.

They expect it to be all about Hillary Clinton. They expect in the Republican perspective to be about sort of painting what happened at the State Department under her -- when she was secretary of state as something that went wrong and it was a failure of leadership. So that's what Democrats are focusing on and that's why they want to be very much a part of the process.

I'm told from multiple Democratic sources, if it was two days ago when this happened, the chances are that they would boycott. Now there are discussions with the Republican leadership behind the scenes about giving a nod in some way to Democrats to make sure they have access. That is making many of those who were opposed to participating think twice and say, you know what? Maybe we do need to be in the room.

BOLDUAN: I know what we are forced to cover, a little bit of political theater. You do call it out when it happens.