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What Will President Obama Do About Iraq?; Pro-Russian Insurgents in Ukraine Shoot Down Plane, Kill 49; Bergdahl's Reintegration Treatment; A Look at Team USA

Aired June 14, 2014 - 06:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will not be sending U.S. Troops back into combat in Iraq.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R ), ARIZONA: The joint chief of staff has done nothing but admit ways for us not to be engaged or involvement - or involved or stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reintegration of Sergeant Bergdahl is a comprehensive process. There was no set time line through any phase of reintegration.





CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, it's 6:00 on a Saturday. And already, what a morning it has been. We are so glad that you are with us. I'm Christi Paul.


This is "NEW DAY Saturday." This is decision time that we are starting this morning with Iraq. President Obama this morning is trying to determine what to do to stop Islamist militants from overrunning Baghdad and creating a feared new Islamic state.

PAUL: Yeah, right now fighters belonging to the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS as it's more likely known, they are on the march toward the Iraqi capital. ISIS has already grabbed control of a pretty big swath - swath of territory in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria, which broke this down on a map so you can get a good gauge of this yourself. You see those areas here in red? That's just how close they are to Baghdad. Now, the fallen territory includes Iraq's second largest city (INAUDIBLE) Mosul.

BLACKWELL: Half a million people have fled for their lives from the militants even as Iraqi helicopters take aim at the ISIS targets. Now, it's feared hundreds have died in the fighting. A U.S. official tells CNN the aircraft carrier the George H.W. Bush will - to the Persian Gulf for possible - and that's the decision that President Obama has to make. Will there be air strikes? If so, they will taken off from the George H.W. Bush.

PAUL: Yeah, President Obama says all military options are actually on the table. However, there's one thing he says the U.S. will not do.


OBAMA: We will not be sending U.S. troops back in the combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq security forces and I will be reviewing those options in the days ahead.


PAUL: So, let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who's in Baghdad.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, Nic first, what is the situation like there now? We know that ISIS fighters are moving in that direction. Tell us what you are seeing.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Security has been increased in the city. That's what we are being told. And we certainly saw a lot of check points as we've driven from the airport this morning. Interestingly, though, you don't -- there is a sense the city is a little bit on edge and there is a sense that people are concerned. But at the same time, you are not seeing an outright nervousness. But there is a concern about what's happening outside the city. And while there are Sunni fighters to the north of the city, I mean everyone in this city knows that just to the west in al-Anbar province, as close or even closer, if you will, in those fights that are taking place north of the city is still a Sunni stronghold, if you will. The town of Fallujah fell to the ISIS fighters about six months ago. That's barely half an hour's drive or so away from Baghdad. So, there is a real concern about what can happen and the desire to do something about it to help protect the city.

PAUL: Nic, I had heard that there are hundreds of Shia volunteers allegedly joining the Iraqi army. I'm wondering and that these are actually former Shia militias. How adroit or equipped are they for a fight?

ROBERTSON: These -- yeah, they are. Some of them Muqtada al-Sadr, who -- a sheer cleric, quite some religious heritage and standing here who, for a long time had, when U.S. troops were here, had a militia very efficient, effective and quite well cohesive and trained militia. He'd stood them down a couple of years ago. They have been stood back up. They are back in the fight, we are told they are being affected. Very interestingly and very tellingly for the situation Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Who is the most senior religious figure in this country for Shias? Told people at prayers on Friday, they should volunteer for these militias, that they should step forward, protect their country and the national interests. They also went on to say that this should be -- the numbers should be controlled by the Army. But there's certainly every indication that these militias are being formed, are getting into the fight and, of course, on the other side of the line, with the Sunni fighters, that only ups their level of anger and desire to win, if you will.

PAUL: All right. Nic Robertson, so appreciate the live report there from Baghdad. Do stay safe and thank you.

Now, there are still Americans in Iraq we should point out, caught in the middle of this violence. (INAUDIBLE) Tony was a contractor in a military base near Baghdad that has been airlifted out of that area. Now, for security reasons he wanted to be only identified by his first name. Anderson Cooper spoke to him. Here is what he said.


TONY, CONTRACTOR: Our local national security forces, they pretty much had dropped their weapons and walked off. They are not directly - (INAUDIBBLE) they thought they didn't (INAUDIBLE). But if it wasn't for the villages on ore perimeters, we might not be talking right now. As the villagers stood up and they helped out the Iraqi army tremendously. They can be very smart and they can be very fast. And they can be very threatening. When the U.S. forces were here. Obviously, we put up a resistance. And it was a lot easier because they are not organized that well. They will - they do have a big force and they do have a lot of fire power, but they are not too organized. So, they will push back and hard. And if they don't get resistance, they are going to keep going.


PAUL: That was a U.S. contractor again talking about the organization of the ISIS fighters there in Iraq right now.

BLACKWELL: So, let's take a look now at where these fighters are, where they had been. We have got a map here for you. This is, of course, Iraq and Syria, then here's the geopolitical border. But as we know, ISIS isn't a group that respects the geopolitical borders. You could see this red area. This is where they have advanced or have some operational presence. It starts all the way over here in the northwest city of Aleppo in Syria. And over the past few months, they have advanced southeast, taken over Mosul, we've known over the past couple of weeks, Baiji, now fighting in Tikrit. Fallujah as well, and you see there just miles here from Baghdad. The question is, will they get inside and be able to overtake the capital? Let's have the conversation this morning as the violence escalates. We know that the White House is weighing possible military options including air strikes. As we said, the George H.W. Bush is moving into the Persian Gulf. And some lawmakers like Republican Senator John McCain calling for the swift and decisive action by the president. Now, to start, just to start here, McCain wants the president to clean House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who specifically should the president fire, from your perspective?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R ) ARIZONA: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, number one. The national security adviser, number two, who should probably spend time with her family on Sundays. I would certainly have all of her deputies national security advisers gone as well. Kerry and Hagel were not there when some of these most crucial decisions were taken, but I don't have a lot of confidence in their performance, either.


BLACKWELL: Senator McCain has been critical of the administration for failing to make a deal with Iraq that would have left residual forces in the country to help maintain stability after the exit several years ago. Let's dig in deeper now with Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Robert Maginnis. Colonel, good to have you with us. Let me get your reaction to what you just heard from Senator McCain. First, the suggestion that he cleans House and his national security advisers and also air strikes. What do you think?

LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, air strikes might be very helpful, of course, Maliki has asked for those, Victor. And, interestingly, even the Iranians who are supporting Maliki say look, get the U.S. to help in that regard. You know, the people were fighting. Abu Baghdadi, an Iraqi that runs the ISIS, is not sophisticated. He's using technicals (ph) with machine guns and large caliber weapons of war. They tend to cluster and that makes a great target for air cover. But we'll have to wait and see. Now, regard to what Mr. McCain said, you know, the president chooses who he wants to advise him. If he wants the current team, then the president should have the current team. Certainly, there's a lot of skepticism about some of the things that perhaps Miss Rice has said over the last few months and years. Vis-a-Vis Benghazi or even the current crisis, but that's up to the president. He's got to make that call.

BLACKWELL: You know, one of the more interesting elements of this is that senior administration official tells CNN that they were shocked by how quickly ISIS developed and advanced. Now we know from Wall Street Journal's reporting, that there was this meeting in Saudi Arabia with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Arab country officials, in which they discussed ISIS and that it would be growing. But it appeared that there was no preparation for that. What is your reaction to that?

MAGINNIS: Well, keep in mind, our intelligence community works 24/7. They monitor what's going on in Aleppo and Syria, all the way across the entire region. I'm sure that in the national security adviser has been receiving daily updates from the CIA and other intelligence sources. They should know exactly what's happening on the ground. You know, what happened in Mosul - and what's happened in Tikrit and Fallujah and certainly, on the outskirts of Baghdad today, is not a secret. They've known for some time. But keep in mind, Victor, you know, the world is a pretty chaotic place today. There's a lot going on. You can only pay attention in detail to a few things at the same time. This is just one of those that is really -- popped to the surface and is very threatening to all of us. BLACKWELL: With the context of the advancements that ISIS has made

over the past several months and, of course, most recently of the past several days, are you confident that they will or will not be able to overtake Baghdad?

MAGINNIS: No, I don't think that, you know, if Maliki gets the help, he's called for the Iranians, especially Soleimani, who runs the Quds Force. And the Revolutionary Guard. They visited this week in Baghdad. They have people in Najaf and Karbala and they are advising the Iraqis. The militias, as Nic indicated, the Ayatollah Sistani's called for the militias to activate. Sadr has called on the Mahdi Army to come back into fruition. They will defend Baghdad. But the civil war will continue and keep in mind, you know, they have really renamed this group from the ISIS to include the term Levant at the end. In other words, what Abu Baghdadi did, the overall leader of ISIS-ISIL, is saying that he wants the entire region, he wants the Khalifat, he wants an Islamic state based upon Sharia law. And they have made great strides thus far. Will they get through Baghdad? I don't think so, but I would not totally rule it out unless forces like the U.S. and even the Iranians and Saudis back away from supplying these resources to these people.

BLACKWELL: Yep. All right. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis. Good to have you this morning. Thanks for your insight.

MAGINNIS: Thanks, Victor.


PAUL: All right, we are also talking this morning about a deadly attack in Ukraine now. 49 people are dead and pro-Russian rebels may be to blame. We are going to head live to Moscow with you. Plus, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl back in the U.S. His medical team says he's making progress. We are in Texas with you with the latest on his condition and what comes next.


BLACKWELL: This morning, 49 people are dead in Ukraine after the plane they were flying in was shot down by pro-Russian insurgents using anti-aircraft machine guns.

This happened near the city of Lugansk.

PAUL: And videos posted to YouTube claim to show the deadly scene. You can see those bright lights. That's allegedly an explosion as the plane is shot down. In addition to those 49 people on board, the plane was carrying military supplies as well. Now, this may be the single deadliest incident since the country erupted in the chaos earlier this year. Here's some more video for you. Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces have been struggling to control the country. While CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow now. What have you learned, Matthew, about that explosion?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean it does seem that it took place, the Ukrainian Defense Minister have come out and offered their condolences to these 49 passengers and crews that are on board. It was a member of the parachute regimen as well as nine crew members who were killed in this crass. It came into land at the Lugansk airport. It was shot out of the sky essentially by pro-Russia separatist rebels on the outskirts of the - So, a big tragedy there. The Ukraine Defense Ministry saying it was cynically and treacherously shot out of the sky.

It all comes within the context of what the Ukrainian government say is an anti-terrorist campaign operation in the east of the country to crack down on the insurgency there. There's been a number of very worrying development sort of taken place in eastern Ukraine over the course of the past 24-36 hours or so. You see that plane being shot out of the sky. But also, another incident 24 hours before where Ukrainian authorities are accusing Russia of allowing three tanks and other armored vehicles this well to cross from western Russia ,across the border to aid the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Now, the Kremlin denies that. But the State Department and the U.S. is going to involved as well. Saying that they also believe that these tanks came from Russia. If that's true, it could be another major escalation in this Ukrainian crisis, Christie.

BLACKWELL: All right, Matthew Chance in Moscow for us. Matthew, thank you so much.

PAUL: A former POW Bowe Bergdahl just spent his first full night on American soil. After five years as the Taliban prisoner. We're going to get the latest on his mental and physical condition and ask the question a lot of people are wondering, why were his parents not there to greet him when the plane landed?

BLACKWELL: And they are crossing the border, 5,000 Central American mothers and their children trying to make it to the U.S. But what's waiting for them once they get here?


PAUL: Well, the last American prisoner of war is back on U.S. soil after spending five years as a Taliban captive. Of course, we are talking about Bowe Bergdahl who just spent his first full night in San Antonio. And doctors say, you know, he's walking, he's eating, he's speaking English, which are important first steps, particularly as he is getting used to all these new freedoms.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, but this is one element that is interesting. Bergdahl has no clue about the controversy surrounding his release. Also, he's not asked to see his parents yet. Ed Lavandera is at Brook Army Medical Center with more on the former POW's mental and physical health.

ED LAVANDERA,CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, Bowe Bergdahl will continue his reintegration treatment here at this Army facility in San Antonio, Texas. But the medical experts here say it's not clear how long it will take for Sergeant Bergdahl to reintegrate back into regular society.


LAVANDERA: Almost two weeks after his Taliban captors handed him over to a U.S. Special Forces team in Afghanistan, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl set foot in the United States for the first time in five years. In the middle of the night, he walked off a military plane surrounded by his medical and psychology teams.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During his stay here, Sergeant Bergdahl will participate in reintegration, a process that will aim to equip Sergeant Bergdahl with the necessary tools to regain appropriate levels of physical and emotional stability.

LAVANDERA: Military officials spearheading Bergdahl's reintegration process, say the 28-year-old soldier is speaking English and starting to make the basic choices that he's been denied for so long like picking what he wants to eat. Peanut butter sandwiches are a favorite. But Bergdahl still has not chosen to speak with his parents. Bob and Jenny Bergdahl have not made the trip to San Antonio yet to reunite with their son. Military officials say it's all up to Bowe Bergdahl to make the phone call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over all, though, it is a choice to make that - when, where, and who they want to integrate with socially And the family understands that process is point and time.

LAVANDERA: Sergeant Bergdahl is still unaware of the controversy surrounding his capture and release. He's in a hospital-style room with no television. And military officials say there's no time line for when he will be told about what's happened in the last five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we give them a sense of, particularly, in control, we expose them more and more to events and environments that's happened around them. So, yes, at some point and time, you will be exposed to the media increased to him, what's going on in the world. But again, during the past five years he's had no exposure. We want to gradually titrate that to expose it to him.

LAVANDERA: In writings, Bowe Bergdahl left before he was captured, he appears like a young man struggling at times to make sense of the world around him. "The Washington Post" reported that in a journal entry, Bowe wrote of himself, "A wolf, mutt, hound dog. I have been called these from my childhood. But what good am I? My existence is that of exile, to live on the fringes of this world. The medical team around Bowe Bergdahl says he is a unique case and has lots to overcome. There's no time line for how long he'll be kept in San Antonio or when he's walk back out into everyday life


LAVANDERA: Bowe Bergdahl's parents did release a statement asking people to respect their privacy, but also are saying, they wouldn't be announcing their travel plans to San Antonio or announcing when that reunion with their son would take place. Victor and Christi, back to you. BLACKWELL: All right. Ed Lavandera reporting for us. Thank you, Ed.

PAUL: This image just jolts you when you really think about it. We are talking about thousands of unaccompanied children and then moms with infants, with babies, traveling for days to reach the U.S. We are taking you to the border to show you what happens once they are here and why it is that they are so desperate to leave Central America.

BLACKWELL: And some really good news for folks in Los Angeles. Michaela Pereira's Instagram account is just a celebration.

PAUL: Can we just say congratulations to Michaela?

BLACKWELL: Yes, absolutely. The Kings are Stanley Cup champions. We'll show you that dramatic game winner. That's next.


PAUL: 29 minutes past the hour. I hope the alarm didn't wake you up today and you could just get to, you know, wake up on your own. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: That's the way. I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start with five things you need to know for your new day. First, 49 people are dead. Insurgents shot down a military plane in Ukraine. Officials in the country say pro-Russian rebels used anti-aircraft machine guns to bring down the transport plane. What you are looking at here is video reportedly of explosion after the plane hit the ground. It's likely the deadliest incident yet as government forces face off against pro- Russian rebels.

PAUL: Number two, Islamist militants are pushing toward Baghdad right now. They've already seized Iraq's second largest city Mosul. President Obama says no American combat troops, however, will go back into Iraq. He does say other options are on the table, which could include possible air strikes.

BLACKWELL: Well, we also know and this is number three, the gas prices may go up this summer because of that conflict in Iraq, if it continues. Oil futures are at their highest level since September of last year. And if that keeps up, it can translate into jumps of more than 20 cents for gallon at the pump.

PAUL: Number four, whooping cough hits epidemic levels in California. We are talking about 800 cases reported in just the past two weeks. Obviously, it's highly contagious, but it's sometimes fatal, too. And babies and toddlers are the most vulnerable. Public health officials are reminding, all of you out there, make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

BLACKWELL: And what is it, 3:30 on the West Coast? People are still celebrating in the streets of Los Angeles. L.A. Kings, they are Stanley Cup champions after a thrilling double overtime victory before this crowd just went crazy at the game five. Alec Martinez slapped in the game winner sending the New York rangers back to New York. PAUL: Looking at -- yeah, yeah.

BLACKWELL: The Kings is a new NHL dynasty in the making. This is their second championship in three years.

PAUL: Congratulations to them and to all of the fans who are still cheering with glasses full, I'm sure.

BLACKWELL: Yes, big red cups.

PAUL: So, we want to talk about something really serious here. It is such -- it's just a sad story all the way around any way you think of it. Thousands upon thousands of unoccupied - unaccompanied, I should say, children and moms with infants and babies are traveling by bus, by foot, whatever means necessary just to reach the U.S. border. And immigration officials are struggling to manage the exodus from Central America now.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, a lot of the migrants say their home countries are just so dangerous and that they are trying to leave because of the violence. But getting to the U.S. is just the start of this journey. Gary Tuchman is along the border in Arizona. Gary, good morning.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the influx of children crossing from here in Mexico over the border to the north is continuing. The reason it's happening is complex.


TUCHMAN: They came without their parents. Children from Honduras traveling into Guatemala, then Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande and just now arriving in Texas. This girl says she made the dangerous journey ...


TUCHMAN: Because she wants to see her parents in Austin. Another child saying -- that the journey was frightening. Unaccompanied children crossing the Mexican border isn't new. What's different now, though, is that the numbers have dramatically increased and almost all of them are coming not from Mexico, but from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know that once they get to the station, we are going to give them paperwork and they are going to be able to be set free into the United States.

TUCHMAN: But it's a bit more complicated than that. Each child's family background of the U.S. is investigated before they can be set free. So, what's being done is the hundreds and hundreds of children who have arrived since Memorial Day are being transported to the U.S. border patrol station in Nogales, Arizona where they are temporarily living. This picture from a local radio station shows many children sleeping with thermal blankets, many of them are then being transferred to military facilities in California, Texas and Oklahoma while their family ties get examined. White House senior administration officials say they are working as efficiently and as effectively as possible. But what happens when they find out the child has no family here in the United States? Will that child stay here or the child be sent back? At this point, it's not clear.

Officially, removal proceedings are initiated for all of the children. But when minors come from countries not contiguous to the U.S. the law doesn't allow expedited returns to where they came from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing people in the hundreds turning themselves in daily.

TUCHMAN: Also arriving across the border in huge numbers, mothers and their small children. Ruth Gonzalez is from Guatemala. She left her country on her daughter Aurarie's (ph) first birthday on May 30th, arriving to Arizona 11 days later. She gave her life savings to a coyote to make the journey.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH). How much money did you pay?


TUCHMAN: $6,000.

(voice over): Mothers with their children are treated differently than unaccompanied children. Proof that many other mothers who also took buses hike through the desert for days, are dropped off by the border patrol at the Tucson, Arizona Greyhound station. And surprisingly to many, are told they can travel to their family members and stay in the U.S. for now, provided they register after they arrive where their families are. These mothers had never left Guatemala before. They don't speak English. And now, they are navigating multiday bus trips to various points of the U.S. with almost no idea what direction they are traveling and how far they are traveling.

In the nation that is far larger than many of them knew. Ruth is going to Washington, D.C., to be with her brother. She left her parents behind. She says her baby has been vomiting.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH) Hard to smile?


TUCHMAN (voice over): She says it's very much difficult to smile. And she's very sad. So, why has she done this? All the immigrants we talk to say the same thing. They say they are scared to stay in their home countries.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH)


TUCHMAN (voice over): A lot of violence and Ruth says she doesn't want her daughter growing up with the violence. The U.S. government doesn't give them any necessities when they are dropped off at the bus station. Charity groups are there to offer that assistance. Ruth declares she is happy to be here. And then the Greyhound bus arrives. The first stop will be El Paso. Then there will be two more stops. And after 80 hours of traveling, she and her baby will be in Washington. Living with her brother in limbo in America.


TUCHMAN: It's well known among Central Americans that children and mothers with children are treated more leniently when they get to the United States. And that, combined with the violence is a major reason why we don't expect for there to be any drop off of children coming over the border soon. Victor, Christi?

PAUL: Gary Tuchman, thank you so much. Now, the American dream is short lived for some of the Central American children who try to flee their home country. Just about 12 hours ago, we've learned buses full of children, even some mothers with infants arrived back in Honduras.

BLACKWELL: We are going to talk this morning about the political bombshell that everyone in Washington is still talking about. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor defeated in his party primary. Of course how this changes the GOP leadership. But we are going to talk about some of the nuances, the finer points here also the effect on Democrats and the president.


PAUL: All right. Let's talk some politics this morning. Something that has never, ever happened before. The House Majority Leader defeated in his primary race. Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia knocked out of Congress by Dave Brat, an unknown college professor or little known, I should say, college professor and political novice.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, this is triggering shockwaves in the GOP, actually all of Washington. Conservatives excited about replacing Cantor. Let's bring in our panel, Jason Johnson, HLN contributor, a political science professor at Hiram College in Cleveland. I was hoping you would be here with us in Atlanta. But we are glad you are up anyway. We have got Amy Kremer here, a former chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. Good morning to you both. Amy, I want to start with you. You know, I follow you on Twitter. And your Tweets, I wait for them especially. I retweeted this one. Let's put this up. So the Tea Party is dead, huh? This is from the 10, after we knew that Cantor was going to lose, this one also, "I have always said that the strength of the Tea Party movement is on a local level. This victory is the proof in the pudding, but, another person you think is Laura Ingraham from Fox News who actually went out and campaigned for Brat. She says that the National Tea Party had nothing to do with Brat's win. Here's a quote from her, "Not one major Tea Party organization came out and endorse Brat, supported Brat in any meaningful way. We had a difficult time getting the Tea Party groups and Brat connected. Basically told them you don't have a chance, they wrote him off. The question is this, why does or how does the Tea Party have any basis to claim this win?

AMY KREMER, FMR. CHAIRWOMAN TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Well, first of all, the Tea Party, there are national groups, but the strength of the movement is on a local level. It's the work that's done on the ground. Without the groups across the country and the people on the local level, the major - the national groups would have no role, what would they do?

BLACKWELL: But he didn't run as the Tea Party candidate.

KREMER: Well, the thing is, when you say Tea Party, Tea Party is all about fiscal responsibility, limited government and free market. And so, anybody can be, claim the label of Tea Party or use the label of Tea Party. A lot of people are Tea Party and they don't even want to use that label. You know, so it's about the issues. He is a conservative. He ran on conservative principles and values and that's how he won. But it was the people in his district that in that district that did the hard work. It's boots on the ground. Passion. Fire in the belly. And that can't be bought.

PAUL: You know, it was interesting via one of the trending hashtags on Twitter that night was #fully class.


PAUL: Everybody just was watching and they couldn't believe it. So, Jason, I think one of the first questions for a lot of people were Cantor is defeated, what does this mean for immigration reform. What do you think?

JASON JOHNSON, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, immigration reform was already dead. Because nobody really wants to do anything before the midterm. They want to work on this afterwards. And I think a lot of this is going to be people figuring out, what does this mean locally? Look, I don't think the National Tea Party can really claim any credit for this. This is like Wayne Gretzky saying he had something to do with the championship last night.


JOHNSON: No. You didn't have anything to really do with this. And I think this is a simple matter of Eric Cantor wearing out his welcome in the local community, pushing people around too much and not being connected. And a local guy took the position, a college professor, which is something I'm happy to hear about.


BLACKWELL: So, what does this mean for the president then?

JOHNSON: Well, I think for the president, look -- He's got plenty of problems as it is. You know, Barack Obama's approval ratings have been just mired in the low 40s. You've got a Democrat, an incumbent Democrat who might now be losing in the Senate. Barack Obama's primary concern right now is flying around the country and trying to shore up what he can in the U.S. Senate. I don't think immigration reform was ever going to be something that was seriously on the table this year. But I do think the GOP will have a plan by 2016. Because they will need young voters and they will need Latino voters to at least look at them if they have any chance of beating Hillary Clinton.

PAUL: So, Amy, I want to go to you next. Because it seems the path is clear for Kevin McCarthy now as some are saying to get Cantor's job. How important do you think is it for a Republican, you know, a red state Republican as leader in the GOP, someone more in tune with grassroots, necessarily, to get a win?

KREMER: Well, I think that, first of all, I wouldn't say Kevin McCarthy's path is clear. Raul Larbrador from Idaho just announced yesterday that he's going to make a run for that leadership position. Which I think would be fantastic. Why not have the entire party - or the entire caucus represented?

BLACKWELL: Do you think he has the support?

KREMER: Absolutely.


KREMER: And the thing is, outside influences have never really had any impact on the leadership elections inside the caucuses and both the Senate and the House. But I think it's time the American people step up and engage in that process. Well, Speaker Boehner, there was almost a coup last - this Congress, you know, for his leadership position. And I believe that Raul Labrador could take this. He absolutely could. We need conservatives. Kevin McCarthy is more of the same. He is part of the same leadership team. Why not bring -- Is Washington not getting the idea of what's going on in America? That's the problem. They are so removed from reality. They are clueless about what's going on, they need to get outside of the Beltway.

BLACKWELL: Amy, I know you are adamantly opposed to anything that approaches amnesty as we had that conversation about immigration. But do you think there can be something? Something can be done this upcoming session?

KREMER: Well, this is the thing. As everybody talks about amnesty, I do believe we need immigration reform. I don't believe that right now is the time to do it. When you talk about amnesty, you are talking about giving people a clear pathway to citizenship. These people that are already here that have broken the law, what about the people still waiting in line. And the millions of people would have waited in line already. Yes, I think we need to come together on immigration reform. And Marco Rubio did that. When he was part of the Gang of Eight. But he has even stepped back and said now it's not the time for comprehensive immigration. This is the thing. The bottom line is, we can't do anything about immigration until we secure our borders. And our borders are not secure. This administration is not enforcing the laws that we have on the books now, why would they enforce new laws?

PAUL: Jason Johnson, last thoughts?

JOHNSON: I'm going to say this, Eric Cantor learned a very, very valuable lesson. All politics are local. And everyone can talk about this national issues like immigration and health care reform, but what this really boils down to, is if you want to keep your district, any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, you have got to hang out. You can't just show up all the time with your entourage. Let people see you in - every once in a while. And if you don't do that, you will lose any position that you have, it doesn't necessarily have to do with national issues, it's connecting locally.

BLACKWELL: Jason Johnson, I think we can all agree on that.


BLACKWELL: Thank you very much Jason Johnson and Amy Kremer. Good to see both of you, as always.

KREMER: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, guys.

So, here is a question for you. How bad is it looking, really, for team USA in the World Cup? Apparently, even their head coach is saying winning is unrealistic.

BLACKWELL: When a coach says that --

PAUL: What?

BLACKWELL: Come on! Where's my ...

PAUL: At least give them some hope, people.


BLACKWELL: I like that open. You can let that one just run.

PAUL: That will get you going. "Dancing with the Stars" music there.

BLACKWELL: Very nice. You know, if the U.S. National men soccer team wins the World Cup, some could say at least figuratively that they cheated death.

PAUL: Well, they are up against arguably the toughest teams in the world. The so-called group of death, as it's called, Germany, Portugal and Ghana. That's the same team, by the way, that knocked them out of the tournament in 2010.

BLACKWELL: So, as the team makes the final preps for their opening match on Monday, CNN International Lara Baldesarra has your premier or your primer, you premier.

PAUL: All right, your primer.

BLACKWELL: It's eight minutes to seven on the West - on the East Coast now.

PAUL: It's been a buy morning already.

BLACKWELL: Let's just go to Lara in Brazil. LARA BALDESARRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, let's just get this out of

the way right now, the USA, they are going to struggle. And that's not because they are a poor team. It's not because they are undeserving of a World Cup spot, it's because they are in the group of death, which is the most difficult group for teams to play their way out of to then survive in the World Cup. All of the teams in this group are very strong. So, what is it then that makes the USA team the team that they are?


BALDESARRA: Well, let's start at the top with the coach Jorgan Klinsmann. He likes to describe the core of his squad as the spine. So, we'll call him the brain. Klinsmann is a World Cup winner with Germany, a team he also coached in the world cup. He's German by birth, not American. So he doesn't really always have the traditional positive American outlook.

JORGAN KLINSMANN: For us now talking about winning a World Cup, you know, is just -- it's just not realistic. First, we have got to make it through the group. So, let's stay with our feet on the ground and say that's- let's get that group first done and then - and then the sky is the limit.

BALDESARRA: You see? Not very traditional, but kind of honest. The USA isn't the favorite to let the most coveted soccer trophy in the world. In fact, their odds are 101. But that doesn't mean they are not in Brazil to actually win. The 23 players that are on the squad, they've dreamt of playing on the grandest - of soccer since they were kids.

MICHAEL BRADLEY: For one month every four years, the world stops, everybody is watching. And to have the opportunity to represent our country, to wear our colors, there's nothing else like it.

CLINT DEMPSEY: It's a dream come true. As a kid, I used to watch the World Cup on TV and pray about hopefully one day being able to play on that stage in front of crowds like that doing something that I love.

BALDESARRA: Both Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey are part of the spine of this team. They are two of just six players who have actually played in a World Cup before. Bradley is easier the best American midfielder of his generation who truly carried the USA out of their group four years ago. Dempsey, he is the heart of this team, the captain. And he's the guy that gave up a lucrative dream career in Europe to play in MLS because he wanted to raise his kids in America. Meanwhile, the 17 other players include youngsters ready to make their breakthrough like Erin Johanson, the 23-year-old who was born in Alabama and raised in Iceland and really caused a major uproar when he chose to play for the country of his birth over Iceland. And then there's also players who thought that their dream of playing in the World Cup was over until Klinsmann gave them a shot. Kyle Beckerman who is now 32 years old was one of those guys. His goal has always been to play on the U.S. World Cup squad. In fact, he used to leave notes for his mom as a kid and sign them, Kyle Beckerman, USA, number 15. And now, he's signing autographs that way. This is the good players that are truly a mix of young and old, of experienced and inexperienced and even of place of birth with five of the players on this roster, not actually born in the USA, but all of them will be wearing the red, white and blue with pride as they play here in Brazil and they represent their country in the greatest sporting spectacle on earth.


PAUL: Lara, as always, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: A retired couple's dreams, they go up in flames and this is literal. Their dream home that they've been wishing for for sometime, or at least what's left of it, set ablaze on purpose. We'll explain why.

PAUL: And hey, did you know? Take a look at your screen here for a second.


PAUL: Did you know? Ten things you might not have known about us. Victor's is ...

BLACKWELL: Number five.

PAUL: Right here.

BLACKWELL: Back in 2007, I had a laparoscopic gastric banding. And yeah, that guy on the left, that is me.

PAUL: I needed clarification of that.


PAUL: I did. I was - what, who is that?

BLACKWELL: We each have a list of ten things you did not know about us. Go to the "NEW DAY" blog for more.


BLACKWELL: So, this is a huge heart break. A couple from the Lone Star state in Texas, they spent nearly $1 million buying their dream home. A 4,000 square foot mansion only to see this.

PAUL: Oh, my gosh!


PAUL: Built on a bluff. If that scene wasn't bad enough, look at this one. The land where the house was still standing was deemed too unstable for bulldozers. So, the whole thing was burned down. And the couple says their insurance likely will not cover any of it. Are you kidding?

BLACKWELL: That's a shame there.

PAUL: Oh, we are so sorry to hear that.