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Would Romney Win 2012 Redo?; Congress Struggles With Border Bill; VA Reform Deal Expected; Ebola Virus Infects Two Americans; OSU Band Leader Fired

Aired July 28, 2014 - 07:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's get to INSIDE POLITICS now on NEW DAY with Jake Tapper in for John King this morning. Morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": Good morning, Kate. Good morning, John. I'm sitting here with Julie Pace of the "Associated Press" and Jackie Kucinich of "The Washington Post" and I have to say one of the things I thought was most interesting over the weekend, there was a lot of talk about the CNN poll showing what would happen if the election of 2012 were held now. It indicates better showing for Mr. Romney than I think he got in 2012.

He would win, would clean Obama's spot, 53 percent to 44 percent. Probably shouldn't put too much stock in polls like this after a president's sixth year. It does seem to suggest why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is using a different Obama when it comes to trying to motivate Democratic voters, get them to the polls in November. Take a look.

That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Michelle Obama thing. Can we show that?


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to the midterm elections this November, we need you to be as passionate and as hungry as you were back in 2008 and 2012. In fact, you need to be even more passionate and more hungry to get Democrats elected to Congress because these elections will be even harder and even closer than those presidential elections.


TAPPER: Usually when I think of Michelle Obama talking about hunger, she's not talking about hunger for elections. This is using their biggest star.

JULIE PACE, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Absolutely. The main takeaway from the poll you showed isn't necessarily how great Romney is. It's how the public feels about the president. Michelle Obama remains popular with the American public. She keeps enough of a distance from the daily political battles, she has some credibility also when she does choose to chime in. You'll see Democrats using her more and more in the next couple months before the midterms.

TAPPER: She has waded in politics a little bit on the school lunch programs, it doesn't seem like that has sullied her approval ratings as all.

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Not only is she a popular First Lady, she's one of the most popular First Lady. There is this great piece by Andrew Cornhad of the Pew Research Center that shows that she's maintained about two-thirds of the American people like her. So putting her out there and she's particularly popular with Democrats in the midterm election where it's all about turnout is probably a good call on their part.

TAPPER: We shouldn't mention President Obama's unpopularity without noting that, of course, he is still, though, he is very unpopular, half is unpopular as Congress. The new House majority whip, Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana was put on the hot seat on Sunday when it came to the question of whether or not Republicans in Congress would do something about this huge immigration crisis at the border before they break for the August district work period or vacation at the end of this week. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will Congress delay its recess?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress is here working right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking a question, sir. Will you delay? You're not willing to commit to delay your recess?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not even on recess, Chris. We're here right now and ready to work. We're going to do our job this week. If the president wants to sit back and continue to point fingers at other people. He's the president of the United States, he could solve this problem today. He's been AWOL on it.


TAPPER: This immigration crisis, Jackie, how big a deal is this for House Republicans? Do they need to pass something his week in order to make it look as though they're trying to solve this huge humanitarian crisis?

KUCINICH: They do. It doesn't mean that they will. There is a unanimous agreement on the proposal that was put forward last week by Congresswoman Kay Granger, the Republican plan to deal with this was put forward last week. They can only lose like 16 votes because they're not expected to get a lot of Democratic votes on this.

They're worried about what happens. If they don't have something and they go home because their constituents during town halls probably when they're out and about are going to give it to them. Republicans and Democratic constituents want to see something done on this. If they leave Washington before that happens, look out. TAPPER: The White House was pressing for something like $5 billion to help solve this problem immediately. There was talk in Congress of rescinding this law that President Bush had signed in 2008, which would give Central American children an opportunity to stay in the country and wait until a court heard their case for their illegal immigration to make a plea, before being sent back as opposed to what happens to Mexican children and Canadian children. Although I don't know if any Canadian children are crossing the border. Does it look like that's going to happen even?

PACE: This is a really tricky part of a broader problem and that's that the White House has sent mixed messages on this. At first they said we definitely want changes to the 2008 law. Then what you saw what happened is that immigration advocates and Democrats started pushing back on that.

You saw the White House pull back a bit. Now they've basically thrown this matter to Diane Feinstein, who is one of the authors of the 2008 bill and said, OK, maybe you deal with it and then maybe we can bring Democrats together. So you have not only Democrats versus Republicans on this, but you have a bit of White House versus Democrats, which always complicates the matter even further.

TAPPER: We should point out that 2008 law was passed to help combat sex trafficking among Central American children. Realistically speaking, do you think anything is going to be done this week by Congress on this crisis at the border?

PACE: We all have been around long enough to know that when Congress wants to do something, they can act quickly. It is difficult to see how they're going to get something done by the end of the week. This obviously isn't the only thing on Congress's plate before this recess. So I think it's Monday right now. As of now, I think it probably looks unlikely but you never know.

TAPPER: Jackie, you were talking about how these town hall meetings of the members of Congress are facing in August could be as bad as the ones that many of them faced Democrats mainly, after the health care law was being debated in 2009, 2010. Do you think it's easier for members of Congress to balk on this as tough as those town hall meetings might be though? I mean, it's easier to take heat in some ways than to pass a very complicated and difficult law perhaps.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. We also could see House Republicans pass something and point fingers at the Senate because the Senate is having -- Harry Reid is having trouble getting his bill through the Senate because he can't get some of the vulnerable Democrats to vote for it. He's not getting a lot of Republican buy-in. It might be -- not only is it easier, it might be what they have to do. They might have to pass something that's OK with Republicans.

TAPPER: We should talk about one glimmer of hope when it comes to congressional efforts to find compromise. That's been there's been a lot of back and forth between the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee about this bill. Both the House and Senate have passed separate bills to reform the VA. A lot of back and forth between the Senator Bernie Sanders independent from Vermont and Republican in the House, Jeff Miller of Florida. Now it looks as though they have achieve some sort of compromise.

PACE: It looks like there might be some progress on this front. A compromise that would basically approve emergency funding for more than 20 veterans hospitals. It would allow some veterans in the system to seek care outside of the VA system. This is one of the issues where there's been tremendous outreach and concern on both sides, but a real struggle to find a solution. This looks like the possible opening.

KUCINICH: No one has to help veterans. It still has to get the pass -- the compromise bill has to get past the House and the Senate. You're absolutely right, Julie, there is some progress on this issue.

TAPPER: Has the main problem been the funding, how much it goes, whether it's $5 billion or $15 billion?

KUCINICH: How it's implemented because you can't just throw money at this problem. The devil is in the details. Not to be cliche, but it's true.

TAPPER: One other interesting thing over the weekend, "The New York Times" coming out in favor of legalizing marijuana. Maureen Dowd when she ate that marijuana-infused chocolate bar and hit under her covers, I thought that was an argument against marijuana legalization to a degree but apparently not.

PACE: This is an interesting debate and we've seen it playing out in a handful of states. But I think that in terms of social issues, this is going to be one of the next social issues that's really going to be something that's debated at the national level.

KUCINICH: And also it has to do with prison reform, how many people are incarcerated for these minor drug offenses. And that also goes back to money. So, yes, it's absolutely a social issue, but it's beyond that in terms of what's going on with America's prison system.

TAPPER: All right, Julie Pace, Jackie Kucinich, thanks so much. John, Michaela, Kate, back to you in New York.

BOLDUAN: All right, thanks so much, Jake.

Coming up next in NEW DAY, two Americans working in Africa test positive for the deadly Ebola virus. How did it happen? And what do you need to know to stay safe? We are going to talk to a doctor when we get back.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus Ohio state's band leader fired after a two-month investigation uncovered serious issues with that program. His attorney joins us live to talk about these allegations. That's coming up.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY, two Americans working in West Africa have contracted the deadly Ebola virus. They were there helping people combat the disease that has already killed more than 700 people, sickened hundreds of others. So could the virus make it across the Atlantic? That's the concern.

We want to discuss it with Alexander Van Tulleken, a senior fellow at Fordham University. You said it's OK to call you Dr. Zan. Is that all right?


PEREIRA: OK, so let's talk about this. It's a concern when we hear about American health care workers getting sickened. Particularly of concern, these are two people that have been on the ground in Liberia, they've been there since October 2013. They take the utmost precautions in keeping themselves from getting infected. What went wrong?

TULLEKEN: This is a really, really difficult place to work on this virus because they would have been wearing double gloves masked with eye protection, thick suits --

PEREIRA: And then they go through a whole decontamination process.

TULLEKEN: Exactly. But the virus, it's a catchable virus. It's not that contagious, but they're working in the middle of the epidemic with patients who are very, very high viral loads.

PEREIRA: It is not unusual for doctors when in these areas that have these deadly viruses, it's not unheard of for them to get sickened.

TULLEKEN: I've worked in lots of these places. Actually we don't worry about it that much most of the time.

PEREIRA: You can't, I suppose.

TULLEKEN: Usually if you're a well-nourished westerner, you're not vulnerable to a lot of these infections. This one is particularly unpleasant. It's striking that four health care workers are dead in this epidemic and now we have two ex-patriots as well.

PEREIRA: Lapse in safety gear or is it just the question of numbers. If you're around it for that long of a time --

TULLEKEN: It's the risk of doing business. These two organizations are exceptionally professional. They're the only two organizations working there. They've got great deal of experience. So I don't think we can say -- I look at these two -- the two people that are infected, I don't think they've been incompetent. I don't think they've made mistakes. I'm not easily impressed. These guys are heroes.

PEREIRA: They really are. We need to point out that they are going in the heart of the problem and working to make the situation better. The one woman, a missionary with a Christian aid group, she's apparently gravely ill, but in isolation. Her husband is being monitored. So far he hasn't shown any side effects.

Let's talk about this doctor, though, Dr. Brandtly. He said, he is said to have noticed he had symptoms and put himself in isolation. Doctors make some of the worst patients, don't you?

TULLEKEN: It's striking to me he's done this. I mean, usually if you're working in Africa you have a low-grade sickness lots of the times. There are infections and things going on all the time. You're not worried about major illnesses. You don't feel well. The fact he quickly diagnosed himself, alerted his colleagues, and put himself in isolation is very impressive.

PEREIRA: It's key, isn't it? Because I understand while this is fatal, the survival rate is much better if it's early treated. What would the treatment look like?

TULLEKEN: The treatment -- so we don't have a vaccine and we don't have any drugs that work on it at the moment. The treatment is entirely what we call supportive care. The most important aspect is fluid replacement. It's a disease that among other things affects your blood vessels, keeping up the intravascular volume so you can keep blood circulating, that's the most important thing. Dealing with clotting problems is the other thing.

PEREIRA: We don't have to worry about it here in the states. You want us to care about it. How can we do that?

TULLEKEN: I think it's really important. This is not a disease that's going to start killing people in New York because it's too dangerous and too deadly. So by the time, you're contagious, you're very sick. It's easy to avoid people with Ebola. It's not going to sweep through New York, but we do have to care about this because we have to care about epidemic disease.

We've seen other epidemic diseases here. In general, the global infrastructure for dealing with this needs to be improved. The World Health Organization, the community of U.N. agencies and international NGOs, the CDC, all need to work together. This is the kind of epidemic we should be able to get hold of.

PEREIRA: Dr. Zan, always a pleasure to have you here. It's really important to understand this, not have our hand over the panic button but aware of it. All right, Kate, send it over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela. Coming up next on NEW DAY, millions of you have seen the clips online. If you have not -- even if you haven't seen them in person. The half-time routines will knock your socks off when you see the Ohio State marching band in action. Now the Ohio State's marching band director is off the job. Why? We'll speak with his attorney about the scandal that cost him big time.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. The Ohio State marching band arguably the most famous marching band in the country. Videos of their amazing performances, they get millions of hits online every year. Now the band director out of a job after a school report found reports of raunchy nicknames, alcohol abuse, and sexually suggestive stunts.

School investigators say that Jonathan Waters ignored the issues, even feeding into the problem. The question now, can he clear his name? We're going to speak with Waters' attorney in just a moment. But first, look at the story.


BERMAN (voice-over): He's credited with catapulting the Ohio State marching band into the national spotlight, but the man behind this much beloved band is out of a job. On Thursday, Ohio State University announced the firing of its band director, Jonathan Waters, for allowing an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the band.

MICHAEL V. DRAKE, PRESIDENT, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Even one instance of harassment or hazing or assault is one too many. Though we're not alone among campuses across America facing these serious issues, this is our home and our responsibility.

BERMAN: An internal investigation uncovered a deep rooted sexualized culture with secret traditions spanning decades, including an annual midnight practice in which band members marched wearing only underwear. The report makes accusations about other examples of hazing.

New band members were given sexually explicit nicknames and at times were commanded to perform tricks like simulating sex acts. Waters' firing now casts a shadow over the best band in the land who shot into the spotlight after this video of their tribute to Michael Jackson went viral. The band's synchronized formation and innovative routines viewed by millions online.

JONATHAN WATERS, OSU BAND DIRECTOR: The great question I'm always asked is what's next and that's part of the great creative process around here.

BERMAN: Waters' entire tenure is now under scrutiny. An audio recording released by Ohio State on Sunday appears to capture the now ousted director berating a student who contradicted him during practice.

WATERS: You ever do that again, after we have given you a direct order and you're done! Do you understand?

BERMAN: Waters has declined to comment, but his attorney says he plans to defend his name.


BERMAN: We are now joined by that attorney, David Axelrod, the attorney for Jonathan Waters. Thanks so much for being with us. This report issued by Ohio State concluded that your client knew or reasonably should have known about sexual harassment that created a hostile environment. How do you respond? David, can you hear me? David, can you hear me? Right. David Axelrod, the attorney for --


BERMAN: OK. Let me ask the question one more time. The report by Ohio State University concluded your client knew or reasonably should have known about sexual harassment that created a hostile environment. How do you respond to that charge?

AXELROD: Well, the report is deeply flawed. Out of 225 band members, over an eight-week period, 60 days, Ohio State University managed to interview exactly four, including the person who made the complaint and three people to whom she referred the university. Out of thousands and thousands of local alumni, the university managed to interview over 60 days only five.

The report does not accurately portray the atmosphere at the band is deeply flawed and is result oriented. It should be no surprise to anyone that with that sort of a sample, that sort of a skewed sample, the report does not accurately portray anything and cannot be relied on for the facts.

BERMAN: All right, you called it a skewed sample here. Let's talk about the songs, raunchy songs is Exhibit B in the report here. Exhibit A was this rookie midterm, this exam, which asks these band members all sorts of really raunchy questions. The midnight romp where they march on the field in just their underwear. Are you saying your client didn't know this was going on? You're saying the support was so skewed, that they made the facts up?

AXELROD: Well, there are parts of the report that I can't agree with or disagree with because I had no opportunity to investigate. Jonathan was fired Wednesday morning and we were handed the report after he was fired. The 92 page report, I might add. He was given an ultimatum to either quit or be fired by 5:00 p.m.

As you can imagine, that was a pretty busy day. I don't really know about whether a lot of those things did happen or didn't happen. But I can tell you however that Jonathan inherited an entrenched culture that had been around for decades and decades.

It had been around for decades before Jonathan became the band director and even before he was a member of the band. Jonathan did everything he possibly could within the short time allowed to end those practices.

BERMAN: He was the assistant -- he was the assistant band director right before he was the band director. He played in the band before he was the assistant band director where he was the band director. He's been around this for a long, long time. The question is, if this behavior was happening, does he approve or not?

AXELROD: He certainly doesn't approve of inappropriate behavior and did everything he possibly could to end it. You know, he experienced inappropriate behavior as a rookie band member himself. He was deeply affected by it and that's why as band director he did everything he could to stop anything inappropriate.

BERMAN: Does he wish he had done more?

AXELROD: Well, you know, what he wishes is that he had had time to finish the job. He was the band director for 21 months. He became interim director in October 2012. He became band director in February 2013. These practices have been around for decades and decades.

BERMAN: Again, I understand they have been around for decades. He had been part of them, though, he graduated in 2000, played in the band, then the assistant band director and as you say, for the last two years or so, the band director himself. If the band director says don't march on the field in your underwear, would the band march on the field in their underwear?

AXELROD: Ultimately he did say that and they did not march on the field in their underwear. You know, that's something that -- even in that area of the report couldn't get it right. Now, again, I haven't had an opportunity to investigate. But yesterday a young woman came forward who was a band member and she explained that the midnight romp was a welcoming -- it was a welcoming practice.

It was to bring new people in the band, not mandatory, no one who didn't want to participate have to participate. If you didn't want to march in your underwear, you didn't have to. She wore a tank top and gym shorts when she marched into it. I've gotten e-mail after e-mail from former band members saying exactly the same thing.

BERMAN: There are been a lot of people coming out in support of the band director, but there also had been those who came forward and said they saw things and heard things that they wish they didn't over the years. David Axelrod, thank you so much for being with us representing your client, Jonathan Waters, the now fired band director for Ohio State University. Appreciate your time.

AXELROD: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, John.

We're now at the top of the hour, everyone. We want to get back to our top story this morning. Possible progress, I guess, depending on where you view it, in the search for peace in the Middle East. A top Israeli official telling us that Israel has slowed its operation only firing on Gaza after being fired upon.