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Bergdahl Backlash Surprised White House; Karl Rove Group Won't Back Senator; Hometown Cancels Bergdahl Rally; Obama's Workout Caught On Video

Aired June 5, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": That's pretty personal there bringing John Kerry into the debate and his Vietnam experience. How could the White House not have anticipated the record? It is part of the public record. The whole five years of what to do about Bowe Bergdahl whether to stage a raid to get him and whether to bring him back and exchange prisoners for him is always part of the conversation that he walked off the base is what his fellow servicemen reported.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, "ROLL CALL": Right. Look. It's taking page out of the George W. Bush playbook. You raise this idea of patriotism. Well, you know, are you really patriotic if you're questioning what the soldier has done for our country regardless of the facts don't let it get tried in the newspapers.

KING: Jonathan, now they are in a huge debate at the White House, Lindsey Graham even going as far as saying, yes, this is going to complicate, you know, President Obama still wants to close down Gitmo. That is a 2008 campaign promise. He is saying now that if he tries to release any other prisoners or do anything with the -- that some on the right will talk about impeaching him.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't know if we are going to get that far, but it is reflection of just how polarized we are now politically. I do think it's an indication of some of the Obama and White House problems in the second term. If you look at the trip to Afghanistan, for example, a feel-good moment. It's mocked by the fact that they accidentally released the name of a station chief for us and then this seemingly a feel good.

KING: Big Rose Garden ceremony.

MARTIN: Saturday weekend story. Then there is more to come now. But it turns out, 2012 "Rolling Stone" did a big piece about this story so it's not like these were new facts that somehow we didn't know that, yes, in the fact, there were questionable circumstances about why he was a POW.

BELLANTONI: When senators came out of their briefing yesterday they were very unhappy the way their questions were responded to. You know, Mark Kirk from Illinois was particularly frustrated saying they told us they would get back to us.

KING: Democrats and Republicans think this White House has disdained for Congress and said we will come to the briefing and check the box and did that. So that will continue as well. There's also been a lot of questions though about some politicians who had then and now moments, if you will.

When the news first leaked more than half a dozen politicians quickly wanted to be involved in the conversation and used social media and say welcome home and a great day for America and think about the political ramifications, maybe their political stats and gave up to the some details.

Let's focus on one of them because he is also involved in another issue at the moment. A runoff. Thad Cochran the Republican senator from Mississippi. His Tea Party challenger got more votes than him in the primary, but they are on a run off because nobody cracked 50 percent. Thad Cochran initially tweeted, "Welcome home, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The grateful America thanks you for your service."

That was then pulled down. Deleted. Sorry, folks. You can pull them down, but you can't make them go away! And then three days, 13 hours ago, he tweeted this, "Details of President Obama's Taliban prisoner exchange and propensity to ignore the law raise serious national security questions."

Number one, you can't have it both ways. You just can't. Sorry and, number two, this is just another fundamental misstep by a 36-year Senate incumbent, 40-year congressional incumbent, who said himself he didn't really want to run and he keeps making mistakes.

BELLANTONI: And gives ammunition to the McDaniel campaign, which feels new energy coming out on top by a little bit of votes. We have new reporting at "Roll Call" this morning and Kyle is looking at what the strategy is for the Cochran campaign. Not just him but all of his allies. Haley Barbour fighting for this and really going at what has this senator done for Mississippi?

They are starting a new campaign, especially down on the gulf coast where he underperformed on Tuesday night to try to say, this is where his hometown connections are and they are going aggressively after McDaniel.

KING: It is so hard to get a broader base of voters to turn out in a runoff. It's hard enough in the primary.

BELLANTONI: In the middle of the summer.

KING: So the Tea Party crowd think they have got him so they have energy and they are coming. That is the thing. Jonathan, a race where a lot of races came in. Crossroads of the Karl Rove organization did they with -- made a donation for another super PAC there saying we are pulling out and not involved in this primary any more.

A key member of establishment one of the groups helping out there. He called this a drive-by shooting. A public drive-by shooting by crossroads. Will those groups now go after McDaniel knowing that the price could be, if he wins, that they help the Democrats in November? MARTIN: That is the big question looming over this runoff. Which of the groups on both sides play, how aggressively do they play? The fact crossroads did that yesterday didn't tweak other members of the Republican establishment and seen this unnecessary in the moment, in the hours after the primary.

What I am fascinated by in Mississippi was my reporting yesterday is it's very clear that the Cochran campaign will turn this into a mini- general election and they are now saying we don't care if you're black or white. The comment in Mississippi speaks volumes because that state is 37 percent African-Americans and they are going to openly seek Democratic and independent votes now because frankly it could be the only way Cochran finds a way back.

BELLANTONI: Absolutely.

MARTIN: So I think you're going to see a much broader campaign, more unapologetic campaign talking about yes, earmarks and pork and that might be the only path he has to survive. It's a narrow one, but what else can he do, John?

BELLANTONI: In a general election this is not a strong Democratic state by any means. Childress might be able to come close in a comeback bid if McDaniel is a nominee, but this is an unlikely --

MARTIN: One fast note. If you voted in a Democratic primary, though, you cannot participate in a Republican runoff. That narrows that pool of voters down.

KING: Let's move on to the Hillary Clinton role out. Did you know she wrote a book? It's "Hard Choices." For the 16th time in her political career, in her husband's political career, she's on the cover of "People" magazine. A new little bit every day from Hillary Clinton. One of the favorite items is quoted in "Playbook" from "Politico" saying her staff recently met with "The New York Times." They griped about the paper's coverage arguing that Clinton has left public office and should not be subjected to such harsh scrutiny? What planet do they live?

MARTIN: Obviously, Hillary Clinton and all figures in the public arena and who seek public office should --

KING: That would be one thing if she retreated but writing a book and giving paid speeches and out there every day and made stories she wanted a tougher deal when it came to Bowe Bergdahl and then say, don't be so harsh on your coverage?

BELLANTONI: This is interesting for me having covered the 2008 campaign. It's a very feminine personal family-oriented rollout. They are strategically talking about Hillary Clinton as a mother, Hillary Clinton as a future grandmother. Hillary Clinton as this warm presence. They know one of the mistakes they made in 2008 so why talk to the "The New York Times" unless it's a feature section to talk about of the warm wonderful things she is doing as opposed to scrutiny of her record. KING: I will button it up there and stop. Jonathan and Christina, thanks for coming this morning. Back to you guys in New York. I think if you're Hillary Clinton and you don't want so much daily press coverage maybe you should not do so many daily events. Just a thought.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: John, come on! Such a novel idea!

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Such a novel assumption that she doesn't want the attention.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the controversy over Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's release has reached his hometown in Idaho. A major celebration now cancelled. But is the growing outrage warranted? We are going to talk to a family friend of the Bergdahl's.

CUOMO: Another video that's become very important to see. The president working out in Poland. Was there a security breach? No. The next question is, how is he looking? What do you think? Do you know what he is doing? Is he working out the right way? Our commander-in-chief is he going to hurt himself or helping himself? We are going with the man who invented P-90-X, Tony Horton. Nobody knows better than he does. He is going to breakdown the video for us. Don't make the same mistakes!


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The controversy surrounding the Bowe Bergdahl swap has now hit his hometown. Officials in Hailey, Idaho have cancelled a rally celebrating his freedom because there are all these questions about whether they could handle the capacity of people who would support and also protest. What would the protest be about?

Well, there is this controversy about whether or not Bergdahl was a deserter or just a captive and whether or not releasing five Taliban is just too much. Bergdahl has been caught in the center of all of that. Nobody knows it better than his family and friends.

Joining us from Idaho is one of his friends, Sherry Horton. Sherry, it's good to see you again. I'm sorry about it being under these circumstances of controversy. The good news is you have seen your friend for the first time in years. You know he is alive. How does he look to you?

SHERRY HORTON, FRIEND OF BOWE BERGDAHL: Not as healthy as I would like to believe or like to say he looks to some other people, but it's nice to see him walking and talking and being on his own.

CUOMO: Those who love him and are worried about him, is there some relief in what they are hearing about how the reintegration and treatment processes are going?

SHERRY HORTON: You know, I'm hearing the same thing you guys are hearing. I haven't talked to anybody and I'm not sure where he is in that process of his, you know, rehabilitation.

CUOMO: Well, you know all too well what is going on in your hometown, though. What do you make of this?


CUOMO: At first the crowds will be too big, we can't handle it and now it's because who are in those crowds also. What do you know?

SHERRY HORTON: Well, we have gotten -- not we personally, but from what I've heard, the city of Hailey itself has gotten not positive e- mails that are actually a little bit threatening and because of that in our small police force and the way that our valley works, it doesn't seem to be a very good idea to have this rally just because for the safety of the residents of Hailey.

CUOMO: What do you make of your friend being caught in the center of what is certainly a political struggle and is now kind of bleeding into this larger outrage?

SHERRY HORTON: You know, it's kind of crazy. We knew there was going to be some backlash five years ago when this all happened. I don't know if we all expected this backlash to be as big as it has gotten but, you know, we neither is going to be a part of it. Nobody knew the circumstances surrounding how he got off base and everything. So we were prepared for a little bit, but I think this is a little bit bigger than what we thought we were going to get into.

CUOMO: What do you want to say to people who are extending it beyond Bowe to his parents and looking at his dad with a beard and say you're not trying to sympathize and relate to the people who took your son. You're some type of a religious extremist. What do you say to them?

SHERRY HORTON: Nobody knows what they have had to go through. The parents were very private people who lived far off the grid when this all happened and they have had to, you know, do a lot of stuff. They have had to talk to a lot of senators, a lot of politicians in the last five years to make sure that Bowe was in their mind and in the forefront and making sure that this -- that Bowe did get to come home so nobody can really understand what it takes to go from being super private to being super public. I think they are doing the best job that they can.

CUOMO: There has been so much reporting now and the best information we have is that where Bowe Bergdahl was, was a really ugly situation. There was a lot of fighting and a lot of soldiers were struggling with being there. There was suicide and stress. What do you think the chances are that the suggestion that Bowe walked off or was having some type of doubts and left are true?

SHERRY HORTON: Well, you know, I talked about this a couple of days ago. There was a lot of things that happened right before this did. There was the, you know, the running over of the child in Afghanistan that he witnessed. You know, I don't know what his thought process was. I do know that there was a lot of horrific things that he saw and did -- or not did but a lot of things he saw right before this all happened. So, you know, in his unit, there was a lot of bad, so I don't know if that played a part in what happened and, you know, until he can talk to us and let us know, we just don't know what happened.

CUOMO: Even if it were true that he deserted, would it matter to you?

SHERRY HORTON: It doesn't. And to be, you know, as I've said before, he walked off base technical according to the Army, that's all it takes to be a deserter, and so there -- there's a little debate about that. But there has to be a reason behind it everything that has happened and I can't wait to hear his explanation.

CUOMO: Neither can we. Sherry, thank you very much for bearing with us and dealing with the situation --

SHERRY HORTON: No problem.

CUOMO: -- in your hometown. We look forward to checking in with you again.

SHERRY HORTON: OK. No problem. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, coming up next on NEW DAY, a rare video of President Obama exercising in Poland. It's been leaked out and put to some fun music. Is his workout up to par? There should not be a political debate about this. We will ask the fitness expert, Tony Horton of P-90x fame for his opinion.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Probably wouldn't work out to this song, but we're exposing his workout secrets. Check it out, the commander-in-chief pumping iron at a Marriott gym in Warsaw, Poland. That video secretly posted to Facebook by a fellow gym user. It shows the president lifting weights, doing some squats, using the elliptical machine. The Secret Service says the recording was not a security breach.

We have a more pressing question for you, how does the president's workout routine measure up? We're going to expert, Tony Horton, he is the creator of P90x. The famous home fitness system. No scrub is he. Look at those muscles bulging in Santa Monica, California. I knew I'd get a flex.

TONY HORTON, CREATOR OF P90X: I can't help myself. What can I tell you?

PEREIRA: First off, how is the president doing? He looks pretty good to us. We all agree he looks pretty fit.

TONY HORTON: I got to give him good props. He's traveling halfway around the world and managing to get a half hour in before going to bed. Some of those moves like kind of familiar, especially the one where he's lunging and doing the curl. That's p90x, I believe.

PEREIRA: Do you feel his form is good? What is he doing right?

TONY HORTON: Well, it looks like a big shoulder day for the president. I see bent over flies, military presses. In general his form is pretty good. He's wincing a lot. I'm a little worried about that. I think he needs to breathe a little more.

PEREIRA: Don't we all?

TONY HORTON: Limited range of motion on those military presses so he might have a shoulder impingement. I'm thrilled our president shows up to Poland and ends up doing a workout as opposed to grabbing a scotch and a cigarette.

CUOMO: You're right, in a country having a hard time getting off the couch, here he is halfway around the world and probably setting the exact right example. Some of the guys are trying to sweat the president saying, he's not lifting any real weights. Let's assume he's using 15 or 20, doing lateral raises, 25s or so. He's no Tony Horton, but that's no joke.

TONY HORTON: You know, he's moving, so I don't think the president is going to be entering a body building contest any time soon.

PEREIRA: Let's defend him. He's a 52-year-old man. Let's keep that in mind.

TONY HORTON: As 50-year-olds, you know, we are still pushing the envelope a little bit. I think the great thing about it is he's moving to kind of set his time, his clock. That's what exercising is a great thing for, gets the brain active. Obviously he's got a lot going on. He wants to stay sharp, so the physical movement really is more about the brain as it is the physical part.

BOLDUAN: You've worked with high-profile clients, Paul Ryan, you've worked with him before. He's known to be in pretty unbelievable shape. What are the considerations that you think --

TONY HORTON: There you are.

BOLDUAN: What are the considerations in working with a high-profile client? Are you surprised they did not shut down the gym for the president to work out?

TONY HORTON: I think it's pretty commendable. He was in there like anybody else and working out with other people, and obviously, as you say, there was no security breach. There's a lot of celebrities where they have to shut down the whole hotel to exercise. He's a regular guy, just in there doing his thing.

PEREIRA: He's really in the zone, too, which is what I really appreciate.

BOLDUAN: He's got music going there as well.

PEREIRA: I want to know what's on his iPod. Overall, what kind of grade would you give the president on his workout? TONY HORTON: I'd have to give him a solid B plus, maybe an A minus. I think on those bent over shoulder flies, I'm a little worried about his lower back. In general he's doing pretty well. He's smart selecting weights that are the right one for him so he doesn't get hurt.

CUOMO: If he had no sleeves you'd give him a higher grade like you and your boy, Paul Ryan?

TONY HORTON: Well, you know he's not Putin, thank God, not walking around with his shirt off.

BOLDUAN: Who is in better shape? You have to pick a side, Paul Ryan or Barack Obama.

TONY HORTON: There we go. That's what I want to do is lose half my fan base right here. I would say that both are doing pretty well. Paul Ryan is gung-ho all the way. Congressman Shot as well. The president and the first lady are walking the walk. I'm sure Nixon and Carter weren't doing that.

PEREIRA: Tony, it has been awesome having you with us. You're up bright and early, but I would not expect anything less from a trainer in California. Appreciate you making time for us.

TONY HORTON: I've already done my run. Are you kidding me?

PEREIRA: He already got his sweat on this morning. Looking good, Tony. Thanks for joining us. It's been fun.

TONY HORTON: Thanks, you guys.

PEREIRA: Drop and give me 20.

CUOMO: I can give you 20.

BOLDUAN: OK, here we go.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY -- that's a wager I'll win -- we have new details on the release of Bowe Bergdahl. A key senator tells NEW DAY how the sergeant looked in a secret video before his release. Remember, this is all about it being urgent circumstances that they had to get him right now. Was it enough to justify the five-for-one trade?