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World Marks 70 Years Since D-Day Invasion; Student Guard Being Hailed as Hero; Surprising Revelations in Hillary Clinton's New Book

Aired June 6, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, June 6th, this morning, the world remembers the day the tide turned in World War II. World leaders, hundreds of veterans commemorating 70 years since D-Day, the allied invasion of western Europe on the beaches of Normandy, France.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're covering events throughout the morning, but we're also following other big news of the day, including a deadly shooting on the campus of Seattle College and the release of new excerpts from Hillary Clinton's upcoming book.

But let's first turn back to President Obama who earlier this morning reflected on D-day during a special ceremony at the American cemetery there surrounded by veterans of that longest day. He honored the 4,500 allied troops who lost their lives in the invasion.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERCA: We don't just commemorate victory as proud of that victory as we are. We don't just honor sacrifice. As grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at this moment of maximum peril. We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.

But it was here on these shores that the time was turned in that common struggle for freedom. What more powerful manifestation of America's commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they had never met. We say it now as if it couldn't be any other way.

The world had never seen anything like it and when the war was won, we claimed no spoils of victory. We helped Europe rebuild. We claimed no land other than the earth where we buried those who gave their lives under our flag and where we station those who still serve under it.

But America's claim, our commitment to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being, that claim is written in the blood on these beaches and it will endure for eternity. Omaha, Normandy, this was democracy's beachhead and our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shake the security and well being of all posterity. Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men. We are only on this earth for a moment in time. And few of us have parents and grandparents to tell us about what the veterans of D-Day did here 70 years ago. As I was landing on Marine 1, I told my staff, I don't think there's a time that I miss my grandfather more, where I'd be more happy to have him here than -- than this day.

So we have to tell their stories for them. We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they were prepared to die for. We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it.

May God bless our veterans and all who serve with them, including those who rest here in eternal peace and may god bless all who serve today for the peace and security of the world. May God bless the people of France and may God bless the United States of America.

CUOMO: President Obama spending most of the time in his speech talking about what happened there because the significance of that day, June 6, 1944, still carries us in very real ways to where we are today.

For some more perspective, let's bring in Kenneth C. Davis. He's the author of "Don't Know Much About History Among Many Other Books and They Don't Know Much About Series." We also have chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. She's joining us from the landing area on D-Day and Michelle Kosinski who is at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

Ken Davis, the Americans led the way in this invasion. That's part of the significance. The heaviest loss is there. When we're listening to the president, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the numbers involved. But when you look at the scale, the numbers don't even tell the story, do they?

KENNETH C. DAVIS, AUTHOR, "DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY": It's true. There were so many men and the losses, every one of them precious. We saw several presidents speaking there of course. President Lincoln 150 years ago saying that we should remember that these dead shall not have died in vain. That's what this day is about, remembering that the sacrifice was for something so much bigger than these men, what Eisenhower himself called the great crusade to liberate Europe.

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in Michelle Kosinski who is on the ground traveling with President Obama on his European tour. We have been looking at a live picture, I believe, Michelle of President Obama and French President Francois Hollande heading back to the helicopters, to head off to the diplomatic lunch. Give us a sense of what it was like to be on the ground that moment to everyone stood to applaud the veterans there.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You mention the magnitude of this. We're surrounded by it. You see all of these crosses, row upon row, all the way out to the water, 9,000 dead here. It's more than the soldiers fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan together. You're right. It's not about numbers or relating it to something in the modern day.

You look at the faces of those soldiers surrounding President Obama. I think the part of the speech that you played was the most powerful in words, talking about the struggle for human freedom and dignity, written in blood on these beaches that will endure. But the most rousing part was when he asked the veterans around him to stand if they could and people applauded and he said, you sacrificed so that we might be free.

Listening to the words of the speech, it's tough for many here to not be choked up by that. At first, not trying to make his lofty statements or trying to equate it to modern days, but really talking about the visceral today tails and what these young some engineers were feeling at the time. Still very stoic, keeping it together.

We know over the years in interviewing them, you talk to them one-on- one and that emotion of that day is still very much present. In many cases, even more powerful in their later years than it was earlier on.

BOLDUAN: And Christiane, let's bring you in as well. We talk about the enormity of the day and significance of the day, but you also see the presidents heading off to their diplomatic lunch, which says the work is not over yet. This has been a significant and important trip for President Obama in meeting with G7 leaders.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. He is now leaving and he's going to come over here eventually this afternoon with all the other world leaders, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, representatives of all the nations that were in World War II including Germany obviously and including Vladimir Putin.

And that brings us to the today crises that President Obama has been connecting to what happened 70 years ago because we do face right now for the first time since the collapse of communism, a real possibility of a war break out in Europe. And they are determined to try to get Vladimir Putin to pull back, to stop the advances on Ukraine.

I think President Obama's speech was one of the best ones in recent. Let's such a good speech maker. He spends so much time meeting and greeting and shaking hands with those people that really choke all of us up, the sacrifice that those men made 70 years ago is beyond almost human imagination to even compute what they went through.

He called Normandy democracy's beachhead and he called these beaches from Utah all the way up, those five beaches that were critical on D- Day. He said that this was that tiny sliver of sand on which the entire course of human history hung. The entire course of our history would have been completely different if these people had not succeeded that day and if General Eisenhower hadn't taken that massive gamble.

Today, we have beautiful weather here. The terrible weather in the beginning of June. They gave him a 36-hour window to make the operation and he took that gamble. He risked everything. If you haven't as a commander, who knew what would have happened next. Remember, as President Obama takes off to come over here, 10,000 people died that first day, Chris, 10,000 people died, were wounded or went missing.

CUOMO: It is something that bears remembering. No small irony that you had back in 1944, Russia, such a key ally on the eastern front. For the U.S. today, an adversary. Germany, the obvious enemy then. Now a huge ally for President Obama in creating peace and pressure on Russia.

That brings us back to you, Mr. Davis, in looking at the historical significance. We all say D-Day. It's so interesting to me that a phrase that means nothing, it's just a designation of time, has come to mean everything in defining not just that moment, but who America is. We were really born in a way from our leading that charge.

DAVIS: It's very true when you think about the fact that the war had been going on since late 1939, the United States was not involved obviously until Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. And then it's the might of America coming onto the world stage in a way that it hadn't been before in its history.

Roosevelt said we would become the arson of democracy and that was proven on D-Day. When the Germans wake up and see 5,000 ships coming towards them. That was the American arsenal of democracy. Those are, again, just the numb numbers. The first thing I keep coming back to when I hear the president or anyone speaking about the men, it's a reminder that these were kids for the most part.

BOLDUAN: Children.

DAVIS: The average age in World War II was 24, but by the time of D- Day, teenagers were serving. So these were really kids coming ashore in the most horrific of circumstances. The most ironic is that of Vladimir Putin. They were fighting the Germans on the eastern front in numbers that are beyond our imaging.

We talk about the losses on D-Day. Millions, tens of millions of Soviets and Soviet civilian Russians died in the world. People reduced to cannibalism. That was the horror of war that too many Americans don't have a sense of what --

CUOMO: Just as we were shaped as a world leader on that day, part of the deep Russian psyche is born of the tremendous losses of that desperation for survival.

DAVIS: You're completely right. That's why it's so important to understand history. We have to see without excusing anything that the Russian view of what happened 70 years ago shapes what they are doing today. And that's an important piece of understanding what history is in terms of connecting to the present.

BOLDUAN: Kenneth, thank you so much. You're going to be with us throughout the show. We're going to commemorate today's events. Christiane will be there as well. Christiane, thank you so much. Michele Kosinski traveling with the president as well.

Let's turn back to other news we're watching here at home while we continue to watch the news overseas, a student guard is being called a hero this morning after he tackled and subdued a gunman who opened fire at a Christian university in Seattle. One student was killed, three others were injured.

Investigators say the suspect is not a student though, and are trying to determine why all this happened, why he started shooting. Dan Simon is live for us in Seattle with the latest. Dan, what more are we learning about this?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. At this point, authorities say they cannot determine a connection between the alleged shooter and the university or any of his victims. So why he came to this particular home behind me remains a mystery. Thanks to a very quick-thinking student, this tragedy could have been a whole lot worse.


SIMON (voice-over): It's happened once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard a shot. We thought it was an experiment at first, but then we heard screaming.

SIMON: This time, a school shooting hitting Seattle Pacific University in Washington State.

CAPT. CHRIS FOWLER, SEATTLE POLICE DEPT.: We had a young male enter the hall on the Seattle Pacific University campus. Was armed with a shotgun.

SIMON: It was just around 3:20 in the afternoon when the first calls came in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw blood on the carpet, bullet shells, blood splatters on the wall.

SIMON: Police responding to reports that a man, later identified as Aaron Ybarra, was firing a shotgun at students. Police say he was also carrying a knife. One of the professors inside the campus's science building, the site of the shooting, witnessing it all.

KEVIN BOLDING, PROFESSOR AT SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY: I heard a shot, looked outside, and I saw a man laying face down on the ground with another man -- another man holding a shotgun over him.

SIMON: The shooter injuring four and killing one before police detained him. One of the victims, a 19-year-old male, died shortly after arriving at the hospital. The one female shot now recovering from a five-hour surgery in intensive care.

Ian Bishop was at the scene.

IAN BISHOP, STUDENT AT SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY: We were just trying to reassure her that everything was going to be OK, you know, she's gonna live, most of all.

SIMON: Police say the shooter's rampage ended thanks to the bravery of a few students. The first who stepped in, senior engineering student, Jon Meis, a volunteer at the security desk.

CAPT. CHRIS FOWLER, SEATTLE POLICE DEPT.: A student monitor was able to stop the individual at that point, pepper sprayed that person, then got them to the ground.

SIMON: Students left reeling just a week before their final exams.

ED MURRARY, MAYOR OF SEATTLE: So today should have been a day of celebration at the end of the school year here at Seattle Pacific University; instead it's a day of tragedy and of loss.


SIMON (on-camera): Well, it is another heartbreaking situation. But everyone is so thankful that that student had the presence of mind to grab his pepper spray and immobilize the suspect. Who knows how many lives he saved? We'll say his name one more time: Jon Meis. That is the person, Michaela who everyone is calling a hero. We'll send it back to you.

PEREIRA: He absolutely is. The death toll could have been much higher. I'm sure there's still a lot of mourning going on for the ones that are injured and the one that died. Our thoughts are with the Seattle area right now. Thanks if that report, Dan.

Let's give you a look at more of your headlines right now.

Breaking night, North Korea has announced that it has detained another American. North state run news agency identified the man as Jeffrey Edward Fowle. He was reportedly detained in mid May after allegedly leaving a Bible in a hotel where he'd been staying. There are now believed to be three Americans being held in North Korea, including Kenneth Bae, a missionary sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Also break over night, a man hunt over; 24-year-old suspect in a deadly shooting rampage in Canada has finally been taken into custody. Justin Bourque is accused of committing one of the worst mass shootings in Royal Canadian Mounted Police history. He has been -- had been spotted several times following Wednesday's killing spree, but managed to elude capture for nearly two days. He is accused of killing three police officers and injuring two others in New Brunswick.

New details about the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl proof of life video that was shown to senators by the Obama administration. Senator Tom Coburn, a physician, says he is convinced the soldier was drugged in that video.

In the meantime, U.S. officials have told CNN that Bergdahl may have tried to escape at least twice during his five years in captivity as a Taliban prisoner. Military investigators are hoping to learn more when they're able to speak directly with Bergdahl. He is still, of course, recovering at a hospital in Germany. They did give an update, Barbara Starr telling us yesterday that he is able to speak, and he is more actively involved in his medical care. So this is going to take time. BOLDUAN: Yet to speak with his family. That's a --

PEREIRA: Want to do that very carefully and slowly too.

CUOMO: And AS often the case now, we're trying to get information from all sides as it comes out, but people are racing to conclusions about how he disappeared, about how he was captured, about what this all means, whether it was a good deal. Need a lot more information, especially from that young man and his family as it comes out.

Let's take a quick break here on NEW DAY. So what can we learn about Hillary Clinton from her new book? Experts are trickling out in the well orchestrated rollout plan for this. Would she have made the Bowe Bergdahl swap?

Plus, her biggest regret in her time in politics. What is it? You'll learn right ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. There are some surprising revelations from Hillary Clinton in her book, "Hard Choices". Now, it's not out yet. It comes out next week, but these excerpts are being trickled out, you know, a very good way of kind of teasing us all about it. In there, we see Clinton talking about her relationship with President Obama, her concerns about negotiating for Bowe Bergdahl.

That matters, so let's talk about that with our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar.

What do you make of the Bowe Bergdahl references in the book?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is actually fascinating, Chris, because this happened -- this was written before, obviously, the transfer was secured. So I think she's being careful, obviously knowing that something could change.

But it also reveals where she stands on the issue. And for Hillary Clinton, all of this is a delicate balance between driving the sales of books and keeping herself well positioned for a possible presidential run. If she throws her hat into the ring she'll need to distance herself from some of President Obama's decisions, and this book may provide the road map to her message.


KEILAR (voice-over): In her much-anticipated memoir, first obtained by CBS News, Hillary Clinton details her role in negotiations to secure Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ): That's not how war works.

KEILAR: The controversy surrounding his release in exchange for five top Taliban leaders likely does not surprise her. She writes, "I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war."

Clinton's starkest difference of opinion with President Obama is on Syria's civil war. She says she pushed him to arm moderate rebels, but he disagreed. "No one likes to lose a debate, including me," she says, "but this was the president's call, and I respected his deliberations and decision."

Clinton offers her strongest mea culpa yet: voting in 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq, a vote that cost her liberal support in 2008. "I wasn't alone in getting it wrong, but I still got it wrong, plain and simple," she writes.

She speaks warmly of her relationship with Obama, which grew out of a bitter primary battle.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: You're likable enough, Hillary.


KEILAR: She describes their first meeting after she dropped out of the race. "We stared at each other like two teenagers on an awkward first date," she says, "taking a few sips of chardonnay Both Barack and I and our staffs had long lists of grievances. It was time to clear the air."

But she didn't go to bat for Obama right away --

MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin.

KEILAR: -- describing a request from his campaign to knock Sarah Palin when Republican candidate John McCain picked her as his running mate. "I was not going to attack Palin just for being a woman appealing for support from other women. I didn't think it made political sense, and it didn't feel right, so I said no," perhaps an appeal to women voters who will be extremely important to Clinton should she run for president.


KEILAR (on-camera): And as you read these excerpts, you really can't ignore how this book rollout is just key for positioning her for a possible presidential run. And not just the substance of what she says in this book, but even the logistics of this. From the messaging, there is a surrogate operations. There's even a war room around this book rollout, and it looks very much like a campaign, guys.

BOLDUAN: And so it begins, or already has begun, and we're just seeing it right now.

Brianna, stay with us.

Let's bring in Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and editorial director at "The National Journal" to discuss.

Ron, I want to get your take, as Brianna really laid it out pretty perfectly in -- in that piece. Her position, or kind of her thoughts on the release of Bowe Bergdahl, what would be involved in any kind of an exchange. We know from reporting from Elise Labott -- from our Elise Labott, that she wanted to push for a tougher deal, if you will, that she was skeptical of an exchange early on. We don't really get a sense yet, though, it seems a little muddy, if she would have backed this deal, right?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I -- and I'm, you know, not sure we're going to know. She made -- presented as a hypothetical. I'm really struck by the kind of bookending that the book offers.

On the one hand, she does the mea culpa on Iraq that the Democratic party essentially I think by now demands of its nominee. On the other hand, she says she would have been more hawkish in terms of intervening in Syria and, as you said, cutting potentially a tougher deal on this.

And it's kind of an indication of where she is going to be, I think, in 2016 on a lot of issues, not clearly trying to be pinned down on the left or the right of the party, and maybe revising -- reviving some of the centrism and third-way thinking of her husband in the 1990s.

CUOMO: So Ron, are we falling victim here to kind of being tantalized by the substance of what's coming out in this book and missing the strategy of it? For example, her putting out why she didn't intervene with Palin once she was out of the race herself personally. Do you think this is a convenient rewriting of history for her? Because as I'm sure you know at the time, the Obama campaign felt she didn't want to get involved because she didn't want to help him, nothing about whether to play the gender card or not. What's your take?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, I think there are some interesting revelations. But if what CBS has produced are the most dramatic discoveries in the book, it's more a tremor than an earthquake in terms of her 2016 presidential campaign.

I don't see a lot in what they put out yet that is going to be front and center. I think much more front and center is going to be whether she can convince people she can produce better economic outcomes than they've seen in the Obama years.

But having said that, I think you're right. I mean, a lot of this is I think foreshadowing of kind of not so much of the way she will attack specific issues, but the broader way that she will present herself to the electorate. And I think it is very much as a seasoned centrist manager.

And I do think that in terms of the book, what's probably more important is defending her record of managing the State Department than the policy choices she made. This is really about, in many ways, the 3:00 a.m. phone call ad from 2008 and ensuring that she can still use that she can still use that argument in 2016.

BOLDUAN: And speaking of 2016, let's look back, Brianna, just to 2008 and that election. It's interesting it's being -- her vote on -- her Iraq war vote, the way she lays it out very plain and simply, as she says very clearly, "I wasn't alone in getting it wrong, but I still got it wrong, plain and simple." That's further than she was ever prepared to go when campaigning back in '08.

KEILAR: That's right. I think she was very fearful in 2008 of being a flip-flopper, of saying she was for the war before she was against the war, something that got John Kerry in trouble very much back in 2004. You'll even remember that ad. So she was afraid of doing that.

She would be very measured about it, saying that if she'd known more, obviously her decision would be different. She said that President Bush overused the authority he was given, but she never came out like this. And I think this is her just kind of cleaning that up. And it's certainly much stronger than we've heard her say before.

CUOMO: I am just haunted by the obvious question. Why would you be doing any of this if you weren't running for president? And I get that the tension, the anxiety, is kind of what drives the news cycle, so we're kind of -- we're caught in the media.

I am just haunted by the obvious question. Why would you be doing any of this if you weren't running for president?