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Condoleezza Rice: "Not in My DNA" to Run in 2015; Interesting Characters at Idaho's Gubernatorial Debate; Wildfires Rage in California; 34-Year-Old Woman Arrested for Posing as High School Sophomore

Aired May 16, 2014 - 07:30   ET

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


MANU RAJU, POLITICO: This reminds you of the way the White House dealt with the whole health care rollout, Kathleen Sebelius. This is a huge problem, people are calling for her to resign ,and what do they do? They said we'll try to get to the bottom of this, we'll fix this. And a few months later, when things were sort of smoothed over, she quietly stepped aside. Maybe we'll see the same thing here with Shinseki. After they do their own investigation, when this dies down, maybe he will step aside then.

JOHN KING, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS': But this is going to come up in just about every debate.

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And Benghazi is one thing but this actually has some real traction I think with people. I mean, we're looking at more than a decade of war now. People's war weariness is affecting the president's calculations on foreign policy and how heavily to invest in some of the issues like Russia and Ukraine and Crimea.

And this is the legacy of what happens at home after all of these years of war. It's an entrenched bureaucracy. It's complicated processes (ph), expensive and difficult to help people who come home, however old they are, whether they're recently returned or veterans of previous wars. This is a real problem.

KING: And so how does the White House handle this, as you have more Republican candidates turning to the Democrats in debate saying, "Do you stand by Secretary Shinseki? Do you stand by the president?" Do they just try to play this out? You can't produce -- the bureaucracy at the VA and a lot of this predates this president. Let's be clear about this. A lot of this predates him. But you can't change it overnight. So how do they deal with the political issue?

RAJU: They have to look like they're actually moving very quickly trying to get to the bottom of it, launching an investigation, which is -- you started to hear some of that yesterday in Capitol Hill. But, remember, the mid-term environment is a reflection of the mood of the president. I mean, if the president is seen as highly unpopular, this episode certainly will make him less popular, that's going to be a huge problem come November. That's how the White House, you know, may actually lead to them actually doing something about Shinseki if things certainly get worse here. KING: The competence (ph) question comes up. Let's move on to sort of a 2016 question. Condoleezza Rice doing an interview. She's talking about 2016. She's talking about one of her favorites, she served under George W. Bush. She said Jeb Bush would be a fabulous candidate for the Republican Party. She's asked again about, well, no matter who the Republican nominee is, would you consider being the vice presidential candidate? Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: That's still running for office and I think it's just not in my DNA. Look, we're going to have a lot of great people who will run for office. I think Jeb would be fantastic. I think there are several others who are considering it who would be outstanding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's just not in my DNA. Do we believe her?

TALEV: I actually do. No, I really do. I think like everybody says, well, I haven't -- I'm not thinking about that at this time. But I really think she's not thinking about it, but I do think what we're hearing her say about Jeb is just another indication of sort of establishment Republicans beginning to rally really around him. If he's wobbling, if he's really seriously considering it, to tell him, you know, we want you to do this.

KING: If he's wobbly. That's an interesting way to put it. So the -- she served under George H.W. Bush, she served under Ronald Reagan. She obviously served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under George W. Bush. What if Jeb said I'll run if you run with me?

(LAUGHTER)

RAJU: That would be an interesting question. But I think you will see the right wing of the party really recoil at that given her squishiness on a lot of social issues, abortion. That would cause an outrage from the right of the party. It would be hard to see how she would get through a convention.

TALEVE: It could complicate him. I mean, if that were the scenario, it could complicate his candidacy, too, since he's going to be seen as soft on a lot of issues.

KING: And yet she comes up so often in conversations about the Republican Party's demographic issue, whether it's the gender gap, whether it's non-white voters, Latinos, Asians in the last election turned away. Why does Condoleezza Rice factor in to these conversations. Is it because she's California, let's do it?

TALEV: It's all of the above. She's a very interesting, accomplished woman who is sort of an interesting combination of different pieces. But she also owns a lot of the legacy of George W. Bush's presidency.

RAJU: But she also speaks to the demographic problem with the Republican Party. She could potentially fill that gap.

KING: It's just not in my DNA. I'll take her at that.

I'm going to hold this up. It might be hard to see. Normally when you have a big gubernatorial debate, right, your state's going to elect a governor, usually it makes big front page news. It's down here on the corner -- I'll lift it up, down here in the corner, of the "Idaho Statesman". It says, "Theater of the absurd."

Why does the gubernatorial debate end up way down here? They're almost embarrassed to put it on the front page? Well, because you have the incumbent, they had the leading challenger, Idaho Public Television invited two other guys. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to jail for home-schooling. And my kids turned out pretty good. I had four sons that made pro-rodeo cowboys and one daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like political correctness. Can I say this? It sucks. It's bondage. You have your choice, folks. A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy. Take your pick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I want to take those guys on the road. You know, I've done a few debates in my day. Some have gone well, some not so well. I want to take those guys on the road.

(CROSSTALK)

TALEV: And it's like the worst indictment. And what is that Jack cellar? I want to go to Fat Jack's Cellar, I think that's a story.

KING: You want to go there? Political correctness is bondage?

RAJU: You don't really hear that saying many -- many candidates saying that. I'm not sure if that's a winning message.

KING: You don't?

TALEV: If debates were like that, everybody would watch debates.

RAJU: The ratings would be through the roof.

KING: Yes. yes. OK. Margaret, Manu, thanks for coming in. We'll take these guys on the road, too. Let's go to our debates.

As we end tonight, a little bit of funny here. Jimmy Fallon, remember Condi Rice says Jeb should run? Listen to Jimmy here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Yesterday, Chris Christie said that he thinks it would be fun to run against Jeb Bush for the Republican presidential nomination. Well, Jeb Bush said it would be fun just to watch Chris Christie run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Oh, he needed a little humor on a Friday morning. Who's more funny, THE candidates in Idaho, Chris and Kate, or Jimmy Fallon?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was going to say, Jimmy Fallon should have just taken his whole script from that debate and run that as his opening monologue.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Fallon can do better than fat jokes. Those have gotten old about Christie. But I've got to tell you, it's so funny how real people confuse politics. You know, you're used to everybody being so tanned. You see actual real people, people like this exists.

BOLDUAN: A guy with a beard, what?

CUOMO: Yes.

KING: Beware who you invite to your debate or to your morning show.

BOLDUAN: That's true. That's why we keep you in Washington, John.

KING: Happy Friday.

BOLDUAN: Happy Friday.

CUOMO: What was that?

BOLDUAN: That was his attempt to salute me and also knock me in the head.

CUOMO: Oh, that was good. I like it.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the latest on those wildfires raging this morning in southern California. Thousands have been driven from their homes, including one woman who had only minutes, she said, so get away from the approaching flames.

CUOMO: Plus, you have to take a look at this picture. This woman is in jail. She's accused of faking her identity. She's 34 years old and police say she posed as a high school sophomore. But wait until you hear why she did it. You got hear this story. Straight ahead.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Something bad is happening right now. Wildfires are raging through southern California. One person already dead. So many homes destroyed. Some 10,000 acres have just been scorched.

This is going on near San Diego. Thousands have been forced to evacuate, including Alisha Eckson (ph), who had to quickly run from her home in San Marcos along with her family. She's lived there for 14 years, says she has never seen anything like this before. Is that right, Alisha? Thank you for joining us. Thank god you're safe. This time is different how?

ALISHA ECKSON (PH), ESCAPED FIRE IN SAN MARCOS: Thank you.

Yes. You know, Wednesday we had just been at swim lessons in Carlsbad. We were watching the news, and just looking at their situation there. And, you know, by late afternoon, here we are in San Marcos, you know, a good five to ten miles away from the Carlsbad fires and just being at home with our kids. Everybody was just getting home from school. And we started to see black smoke billowing up over the mountains.

So we literally grabbed all of our kids and our dog and hopped in the car and we evacuated very quickly. So we didn't have a lot of time to grab things; we just got in the car. We ended up getting bottlenecked on craven and it was just complete gridlocked for a while. It was a long time getting out of San Marcos and those flames were moving so quickly, and there was a lot of smoke. It was really scary seeing that come up over our neighborhood.

CUOMO: This wasn't a planned or staggered evacuation. You pretty much made a run for it. So did many people in the community so you got into a bottleneck situation to get away. What do you know about the status of your home?

ECKSON (PH): Our home is fine. The initial fire, which was on the west side of Twin Oaks Valley Road, which is the side of the road that we live on, was contained by -- I think it was by the middle of the night Wednesday. The fields behind our homes were contained.

You know, the winds are shifting back and forth and so it's kind of hard to predict. But at that point it seems like the winds started to move east, and unfortunately for this side of Twin Oaks Valley Road, they've lost some homes and this is where a lot of the damage has been.

CUOMO: Now, we're getting this idea of why this one is unusual, that it's such a combination of elements at play at once -- the extreme heat, the extreme drought, the shifting winds, not having ordinary marine layer. But then you get in this other variable of whether or not it was intentional. Do you people in the community believe that someone must have started these?

ECKSON (PH): This was a topic of conversation before that reached the media. I was actually really surprised to hear that that did reach the media as we were collectively sharing ideas about what might have gone on. We were definitely -- I mean, it's really hard to imagine that these nine fires, it might be more, but the last -- the last time that I knew it was nine. I mean, that's -- that's -- yes, it just -- it doesn't seem like those would be nine natural fires. But I don't know. I could be wrong. But people are definitely talking about whether or not this could be arson, you know. It's just all word of mouth, but --

CUOMO: What's the chance that fires shift --

ECKSON (PH): I don't know. I hope not. CUOMO: What's the chance that fires shift back to where you are?

ECKSON (PH): If the Santa Anas are coming down to a close, it's pretty rare, from what I understand, to have a westerly wind in San Diego. We always have wind off of the coast blowing east. So, you know, that's going to be unfortunate for counties in the east. So the likelihood of getting another fire, I don't know.

You know, honestly, I feel like there's not -- I feel like -- ifs there's fires being started, and I hope that's not the case, there's no way to predict where you're safe. Does that make sense?

CUOMO: Absolutely it makes sense, because you don't know where they're going to light the fire.

ECKSON (PH): That's a little bit of the feeling. And if I could just kind of paint the picture -- when you get evacuated from San Marcos, usually your options are Escondido, Carlsbad. But what was effectively happening was that fires are breaking out all over.

So we evacuated the first night to my parents' house. And then my parents were evacuated. So we're kind of getting bumped around. We're really hoping that things are coming now to a close. But, as it were, there's just this circle of fires throughout the county. So you kind of feel like your only safety would be to hop town completely.

CUOMO: So you're back home, but still on edge?

ECKSON (PH): Not yet. Our whole area has been evacuated. Our neighborhood has lived through some pretty apocalyptic fires in the last ten years. We've seen some really bad fires. In fact, a couple of the areas that have burned were areas that completely burned ten years ago.

So what ended up happening in our neighborhood is a lot of the neighbors ended upcoming back. We left so quickly that a lot of people wanted to come back once our side settled down a little bit. So once our area was contained, a lot of the neighbors kind of snuck back into the neighborhood because there were so many road closures. But if you live there you know a route to get back in, so a lot of us were coming back into the neighborhood so that we could sit in our own living rooms, watch the news. And we could see the flames and the smoke from our -- from our home, so we could go outside and keep check of everything.

So a lot of people were going back and there was a lot of conversation there just amongst neighbors and lots of people on bicycles going around and, anyway, yes, that's kind of the picture. As of now, it's just really smoky. Lots of ash. Our eyes are watering. And it's kind of hard to breathe. We're hoping that that ocean wind comes in and hopefully they will be able to get control of these fires.

CUOMO: Indra Petersons, our meteorologist, says that some marine layer should be coming in; it should be helpful. We hope that happens today and into the overnight. But, you know, be careful when you go back into the area. If the authorities think it's still evacuated, you know, they don't have the same contingency plans to get there and be there for you guys if you get into harm's way. So be careful about when you go back in and who you tell that you're going.

ECKSON (PH): That's a good point. Yes, you're right.

CUOMO: But be safe. The best to you and your family, Alisha (ph). Thank you for joining us. Let us know if anything else happens, OK?

ECKSON (PH): Thanks so much. Take care.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, take a look at this. Which one of these girls is a high school student? Take a look. Actually they're the same person. And that 34-year-old is now in jail. 34 years old accused of posing as a 15-year-old sophomore. Bizarre story coming out of Texas. We have the details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Very strange story for you this morning coming out of Texas. A 34-year-old woman is behind bars accused of posing as a 15 year old and enrolling as a high school sophomore. Students, faculty and the Good Samaritan who took her in, they are shocked, left asking the same question you are: why oh why?

Rosa Flores is here with more of the details. Why, oh why?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the question. And this is straight out of a Hollywood script. You've got an adult who poses as someone else and gets away with it for a little while until the police get involved.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (voice-over): Charity Johnson claims she was 15 years old, posing as a high school sophomore in east Texas. But police say she is actually 34 and they have charged her with giving false or fictitious information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything she was doing, it was all planned.

FLORES: The Facebook pictures, the good grades and the supposed back story.

TAMICA LINCOLN, TOOK CHARITY IN: Being abused by her biological father, then he passed away. And her biological mother's dead.

FLORES: The double life. She allegedly pretended to be a sweet teenager, but now she's behind bars.

LINCOLN: I sympathized with her and invited her into my home.

FLORES: Psychologists say those who impersonate younger people put minors at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The danger is ever present that you may manipulate these much younger people, that you can take advantage of them.

FLORES: In 2012, 24-year-old Carissa Hads was arrested for posing as a 17-year-old boy online and sparking a relationship with a 15-year- old girl. High school basketball star or international impersonator? This 22-year-old man was arrested after passing as a 16-year-old high school student from Haiti. Both pleaded guilty and were arrested.

In this latest case of adult turned high school student, school officials say Charity has been enrolled since October.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (on camera): So how does a Good Samaritan fall victim to something like this? Tamica Lincoln tells CNN that she actually met Charity Johnson at a fast food restaurant and asked Charity Johnson, actually, guys, asked her about her church, asked her about going to her church. And then asked her about moving into her house? And of course we know the rest of the story.

BOLDUAN: Talk about taking advantage.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: But it's also sad when somebody does something out of the kindness of the heart to help and --

BOLDUAN: That's right. We don't really yet know the full story. It's really hard --

PEREIRA: Why?

FLORES: The motive as to why would she do that?

CUOMO: That could be something sad too. I covered the story about the young man you had in there, went to Paramin (ph) High School His story was interesting, also was told through a church. The church took him in. The pastor wound up making him part of his family and they would later learn he was not just from Haiti, but that he had been here and had just left home. His mother just said he just left. And he decided he wanted to restart his life.

PEREIRA: Reinvent himself.

CUOMO: Wanted to go back to high school because he hadn't achieved what he had wanted. And he went back to do it again.

FLORES: Important how they prey on people's faith. Interesting.

BOLDUAN: Shouldn't have to ask for their birth certificate if you want to help somebody out, right? Thanks so much, Rosa.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, it is a desperate fight near San Diego. Eight fires at least scorching ten thousands of acres. Just thousands of acres, let's say. Dawn breaks now. So how is the fight coming? Who is still at risk? What has happened? We're going to have the latest and we're going to speak with the men after the amazing video we have been showing you this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)