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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

More GOP Candidates Throw Their Hats into 2016 Presidential Ring; Bizarre Rumor That U.S. Military Plotting Invasion of Texas Spreads Like Wildfire; Governor Abbott Accused of Playing into Invasion Theories; Facebook Executive's Husband Killed in Treadmill Accident. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 5, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:05] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, today, I ask you again, do you think there are enough Republicans running? Still not enough? OK. Fine.

Today, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee heard your call. Huck, who won the Iowa caucuses back in 2008, announced his candidacy to thunderous applause from supporters in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas. Hope, of course, was the hallmark of Huckabee's 30-minute speech, where the one-time Baptist pastor laid out his critique of the Obama administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were promised hope, but it was just talk. And now we need the kind of change that really could get America from hope to higher ground.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Thanks to both of you for being here.

Dana, let me start with you.

How does Huckabee entering the race impact the other Republican candidates, if at all?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I certainly think it's going to be quite a different impact than it was eight years ago when he ran.

But there's no question that he brings a different kind of feel and vibe to this race. I mean, you covered him along with me back in 2007-2008. He can connect with voters and give a speech, frankly, like no one else can. Marco Rubio is very good at giving that soaring oratory. Mike Huckabee, as you saw today, can really connect on a very different level. He was -- he's a former pastor and a former radio host. We know he

spent a lot of years at FOX News in between his two runs. And that ability to turn a phrase and to use his words in a way that people can understand is really unique.

TAPPER: And that works in Iowa, when you can connect to voters in small rooms.

But, Jeff, as you and I covered back then in 2007-2008, Huckabee was not able to convert his big win in Iowa to anything more. Is he prepared to do something differently this time around?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think he is.

I mean, one, his win came a bit of a surprise even to him back then. They were not preparing for this. He was not necessarily a novelty candidate, but his win kind of propelled him, but then it sort of ended. But now I think he knows what it's like to organize, and perhaps more than anything else, he's been a candidate before. So, that's the best training to run for president, when you have done it before.

People in Iowa still are connected to him, as Dana said, because he's been on in their living rooms for eight years now. So, I think he starts off on a pretty strong footing there. The question is, can he raise the money? And it's not just Iowa.

But one thing that he believes is in his favor is the so-called SEC primary, that ring of Southern states after those first four states. He could do very well there. So, I think Republicans are smart to not rule him out, because he's very-well connected to these voters.

BASH: And, Jake, if I could just add one more thing to that -- and those are excellent points -- and that is, we can't forget that in the field of a dozen people, maybe more, he's the only one who has actually won a presidential primary contest, not just Iowa back in 2008, but he did end up winning several others, I think eight total by the end of the day, by the time he actually dropped out in 2008.

And there's a lot to be said for that. The field is very different. There are a lot more people playing on the right, where he will be, appealing to evangelicals, appealing to homeschoolers, the populist vote in places like Iowa. But the fact that he's done it is certainly something that we can't rule out as obviously a big plus.

TAPPER: Let's turn to another candidate who once lived in Arkansas, Hillary Clinton.

Jeff, a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll finds that 42 percent of Americans have a negative view of the former secretary of state. This compares with 36 percent in March. Is her camp worried about this and how does it stack up against the other possible candidates?

ZELENY: I think they're somewhat worried about it. She's been taking so much incoming in this first month of her campaign. So many questions have been asked about her.

We thought that, oh, everything had been already out there. Well, that's definitely not true. She's going through it all again and some new things we're finding out. So, they're slightly worried about this, but they believe that it's -- it was going to happen at some point. She was going to sort of come back down to earth and be a politician.

And that's what she is here. So, I think that they are not all that concerned going forward because she still does match head to head. She's better than every Republican in the field at this point. The question, though, is, will Republicans be able to Mitt Romney her, essentially what Barack Obama did in 2012, define her early and then will that hurt her for the rest of the time?

So, if the trust erosion continues, that is a worry. But if it's just a short time thing, I think that most of them feel OK about it.

TAPPER: And the DNC, Dana, announced today that they're going to hold six primary debates. The announcement drew the ire of some potential candidate .

BASH: It did.

TAPPER: What's the problem?

BASH: The problem is that the people who are barely registering in the polls on the Democratic side, they want more free airtime, and they want more time to prove that they can go head to head with Hillary Clinton on a debate stage.

They don't think six is enough. On the flip side, if you're Hillary Clinton, six is way too many. So, so the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, which is trying to govern this, is trying to kind of strike a balance.

[16:35:06]

The big question is whether or not the DNC is going to be able to continue to govern this. And they have that they have changed the rules as opposed to years past to make sure that if people who are running for president, you know, kind of go off and do debates elsewhere in places that aren't sanctioned debates, then they will get punished.

We will see if they have kind of the power to do that. The Republicans, by the way, are going to be facing the same exact problem when they announce their debates. And they have to hold them.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Tomorrow on THE LEAD, join us for a one-on-one conversation with the newly announced presidential candidate former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee right here on CNN beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, 1:00 p.m. Pacific. Turning to our money lead, cash and campaigns, the two certainly go

hand in hand. And much is being made about the personal wealth of the Republican and Democratic candidates right now for president in 2016. But just who are the richest and who are the poorest potential nominees?

CNN's Tom Foreman joins us now with a full accounting on that part of the story.

Tom, by most people's standards, they're all fairly wealthy, right?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely right.

Huckabee is just the latest person to jump into this contest which once again is shaping up as a race for mostly millionaires.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): It sounded like another chorus from Lunchmoney Lewis' hit song when former President Bill Clinton was asked if he's going to keep taking six-figure checks for making speeches and told NBC, sure.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got to pay our bills.

FOREMAN: In the field of announced candidates for 2016, his wife, Hillary, is one of the richest. She has an estimated net worth of more than $15 million, even as she positions herself as a champion of the working class.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.

FOREMAN: On the Republican side, the only other woman, Carly Fiorina, is estimated to have more than four times as much. The former CEO off Hewlett-Packard is believed to be worth $80 million. Ben Carson may be a world-renowned neurosurgeon and author, but he's quick to say he did not grow up in luxury.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Typical tenement, large multifamily dwelling, boarded-up windows and doors, sirens, gangs, murders.

FOREMAN: And the just announced Mike Huckabee plays down his wealth too.

HUCKABEE: I grew up blue-color, not blue-blood.

FOREMAN: The other Republicans, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have far less, with Marco Rubio bringing up the rear, racking up less than a half-million dollars to his name.

But the poorest candidate is the independent.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We don't have an endless amount of time. I have got to get back.

FOREMAN: Bernie Sanders, who has just over $330,000 and a lot of concern about big money in politics.

SANDERS: We now have a political situation where billionaires are literally able to buy elections and candidates. Let's not kid ourselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: The bottom line is, based on our best estimates here, if you ask eight average Americans to earn as much money as these people have in the bank, it would take them somewhere around 300 years, Jake, long past the 2016 election. That's for sure.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Coming up next: Texas under invasion by the U.S. military? The governor seems to be taking it seriously enough to order state Guard troops to keep watch.

Plus, how did a 47-year-old tech CEO die while working out on a treadmill? What authorities are now saying about the shocking and tragic death of Facebook -- Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg's husband coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:58]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In other national news today, they say everything is bigger in Texas, and that apparently includes imaginations. Have you heard this bizarre rumor that the U.S. military is secretly plotting an invasion of the Lone Star State? Some folks in that state have seemingly been shaking in their rawhide boots ever since word got out about an upcoming military training exercise in Texas called Jade Helm 15.

The name of it probably isn't helping matters. Some fringe conservative Web sites have been pushing the idea that these U.S. training operations are possibly just a cover, claiming that special forces are fixing to mess with Texas in the form of a hostile takeover, martial law even. There's even a Texas Ranger on the case, "Walker, Texas Ranger," that is, also known as Chuck Norris.

In a new column for the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily, Norris writes -- quote -- "If you haven't heard about Operation Jade Helm 15, you need to."

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon.

Barbara, this may sound like a joke, but the governor of Texas is not exactly treating it like one.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Not a joke at all, Jake Tapper.

Governor Abbott of Texas says he and Texas respect the military troops, but make no mistake, he wants his people to keep an eye on what they are doing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: By directing the state Guard to monitor the operations, we will allow...

STARR (voice-over): Don't mess with Texas is Republican Governor Greg Abbott's message to the Pentagon. Abbott called out his state Guard to keep an eye on U.S. special operations forces. The governor says he wants to make sure Texans' constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed during an upcoming military war game called Jade Helm 15; 1,200 personnel Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Air Force troops will train across seven states this summer.

Do Texans really have to worry their own freedom is at risk?

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Texas, there's no Texas takeover. The United States government already controls Texas.

(LAUGHTER)

STARR: Stewart even broadcast a tense Texas town hall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a preparation for martial law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what you say.

STARR: The site has led the internet buzz insisting it's all a plan for the Army to wage war on Americans, publishing a military PowerPoint slide showing Texas as red enemy territory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've hardly ever heard of something joint like this unless they are actually planning an invasion.

STARR: Republican presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, says, he understands Texans' worries.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think part of the reason is we have seen for six years a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens, and that produces fear.

STARR: Chuck Norris, one-time walker Texas ranger TV actor says on the conservative web site "World Net Daily," what's under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Help 15 back in Washington. Governor Abbott now says all he meant to do was his state militia so coordinate with the Pentagon.

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We've been provided assurances that there is nothing for the public to worry about. STARR: But now Democrats are calling on Abbott to apologize to the military. A former Texas Republican state lawmaker says the governor went too far.

TODD SMITH, FORMER TEXAS LAWMAKER: And I just, as a patriotic American do not believe that it is appropriate or necessary to use state resources to protect me from the American military.

STARR: The White House trying to stay out of the governor's fray.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have no idea what he's thinking. I might have an idea of what he's thinking, but I'm not going to -- I appreciate the opportunity, though.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now I have to tell you, Jake, one of the governor's staffers told me a short time ago that people needed to understand the reason the governor took the step of calling out the state militia is he was getting so many questions from the people of Texas, who had worries about this.

And he wanted to reassure them that his people are keeping an eye on it, coordinating everything and then everything will be fine. I have to tell you, Pentagon officials are a little puzzled by all of this.

Of course, they say no plan to take over Texas, no invasion, no marshal law, but they also make a very serious point. Across this country in many places there is a divide between the military and civilian society.

And what Texas has done here, one of the Pentagon officials told me may just be aggravating all of that. Not what they want to see -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thank you so much. Let's bring in former Texas lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, a Republican. Sir, thanks so much for joining us. What exactly are your former constituents worried about here?

DAVID DEWHURST (R), FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: Well, Jake, I think you've got some paranoia, which is based upon legitimate concerns by my fellow Texans, my myself and a lot of Americans about the trustworthiness and the competence of President Obama.

But let's not project that on to our military. Jake, I'm a veteran myself. I served as an office near the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.

I saw the ugly reaction when our veterans were coming back after putting their lives at risk and how many too many Americans treated them. We need to be saying thank you to all of our veterans. We got your back.

This is no, this is no conspiracy. As a matter of fact, just last week I was with a group of Texans at months ago was invited up to Fort Brag.

I had a chance to meet and talk with hundreds of Special Forces officers, enlisted people even the commanding general, Major General Rogers. They were flabbergasted by what was happening in Texas.

TAPPER: Do you think it was a mistake by Governor Abbott, your fellow Republican, to order the Texas State Guard to monitor what our own soldiers are doing in your state? It seems to suggest a mistrust of our military for the governor to do that.

DEWHURST: I don't see it that way. I've known our new Governor Greg Abbott for 20-plus years. He's a friend of mine. He loves the United States military as much as I love the United States military.

I think he was basically saying, I've listened to my constituents. I understand they're concerned and everything is going to be OK. Texas, I believe, as a veteran myself, that we've always welcomed folks that come in to Texas to train.

For heaven's sakes, in the state of North Carolina where Fort Brag and the Special Forces are, they run ten state-wide exercises each year. People of North Carolina love them. They don't even think about it.

TAPPER: Former State Representative Todd Smith, again a fellow Republican sent a scathing letter to Abbott, he accused him of quote, "pandering to idiots."

[16:50:08] Is Governor Abbott pandering to idiots?

DEWHURST: No. I think Governor Abbott was simply listening to his constituents. I think this was fueled by talk show hosts, talk show hosts that are more interested in their ratings than telling the truth.

And so all I try to do with my editorial and talking every day to people is to remind that we've had training exercises going through Texas since we were first formed as a republic and now as a state.

And that Texans love the military. We support the military. If I've got any message, it's to all of our active duty and our veterans to say that in Texas we appreciate you. We got your back and God bless you for your service.

TAPPER: Well, that's nice of you to say. But in Texas, now the state guard, the Texas State Guard doesn't have their back, they're keeping an eye on them.

And I wonder if you're concerned as the Pentagon officials, who spoke with our Barbara Starr, are concerned that this is further creating a chasm between civilians and our brave men and women and their families, who sacrifice so much for us.

DEWHURST: That's the last thing in the world which we want to do in Texas. I think Governor Abbott clarified his comments just today or yesterday. After all, he was at the national day of prayer yesterday. He prayed for our troops. He certainly wants to make sure that we're coordinated. In Texas I know that Governor Abbott loves the United States military as much as I do.

And what this is all about is some paranoia, some of it based upon legitimate concerns we have about the trustworthiness and the competence of this president.

But for heaven's sakes, let's not project that onto our military, these men and women are putting themselves voluntarily in harm's way every day some place in the world. God bless them.

TAPPER: All right, former lieutenant governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

Coming up next, a 47-year-old tech millionaire dies suddenly while on vacation. Now authorities are saying he apparently fell off the treadmill as he was exercising. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:56:34]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other national news, the shocking and tragic death of Dave Goldberg, the husband in a Silicon Valley power couple is getting reaction from even President Obama.

Goldberg was married to Facebook executive and billionaire Sheryl Sandburg. Through her book, "Lean In And More." Sandburg's name is synonymous with powerful women trying to manage a work-life balance.

Goldberg who was just 47 years old, died in a freak accident last Friday while vacationing in Mexico. Local authorities say he fell off a treadmill while exercising.

Today an invite only crowd attended the funeral for this former Yahoo music exec turned entrepreneur. CNN's Samuel Burke joins me now. Samuel, so many questions about Goldberg's death.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, the details of how Dave Goldberg spent his final hours laying on a gym floor and there's still so much mystery behind exactly what hotel this happened at. But at the end of the day, there is no mystery, no confusion about the incredible legacy he left behind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURKE (voice-over): How does a seemingly healthy 47-year-old millionaire die in a treadmill accident? That's the question family and friends of David Goldberg are asking today.

DAVID GOLDBEG, CEO SURVEY MONKEY: We are a company that was valued at well over a billion dollars a year and a half ago, but decided not to go public. BURKE: Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg seen here at a tech conference last year, was found on Friday while his family vacationed in Punta Minta, Mexico. What happened?

Mexican officials say Goldberg was using the treadmill when he apparently fell and hit his head. He was found later still alive and was taken to the hospital on the country's west coast where he later died. Exercise related injuries are shockingly common. Just search YouTube for treadmill accidents.

In 2014, there were more than 24,000 treadmill accidents seen in hospital emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And there were 30 treadmill related deaths from 2003 to 2012. Goldberg's death has rocked Silicon Valley, an area he knew incredibly well.

DAVE GOLDMAN, CNN MONEY TECHNOLOGY EDITOR: Dave Goldberg got his start at Launch Music, which was a startup that he helped found. He then sold that to Yahoo! and was the president of Yahoo! Music for a long time. After he left Yahoo!, he went to become the CEO of Survey Monkey.

BURKE: Even the Walt Disney Company bumped up its quarterly earnings reports before the opening bell so Disney execs could attend the services to honor Goldberg. Sheryl Sandberg sits on the board of Disney.

Today mourners gathered at a private memorial at Stanford University to celebrate his life. His brother, Robert Goldberg posted this memorial on his Facebook page.

No words can express the depth of loss we feel, but we want his children to learn how much he meant to all of you. After her book rocketed to success earlier this year, Sheryl Sandberg posted this tribute to her husband on Facebook.

I wrote and lean in that the most important decision a woman makes is if she has a life partner and who that life partner will be. The best decision I ever made was to marry Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURKE: And Jake, for the first time since her husband died on Friday, Sheryl Sandberg, has made her first public comment on Facebook, of course.

The White House Facebook page where the first family had posted their condolences, she wrote, "Thank you President Obama for this beautiful tribute and for your friendship to our family. David Goldberg admired you for your leadership, passion, and your deep love of sports.

TAPPER: All right, Samuel, thanks so much. And our thoughts and prayers go out to Sheryl Sandberg and her family.

That's if for THE LEAD. I'm turning you over to Wolf Blitzer, in "THESITUATION ROOM."

Wolf?