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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
George W. Bush Out with New Ad Supporting Jeb; Florida: 12 People in 5 Counties Contracted Zika Virus; Experimental Tests May Have Detected CTE In Living; Prosecutor: Suspect Helped Plan Murder, Dispose Body. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 4, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TRENT SPINER, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER: The only thing to consider is that in 2008, there are now 30 percent, 30 percent of the state is different from what it looked like in 2008.
[16:30:02] So, the list that a lot of these pollsters have, even if they're using random dials, just not accurate.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Right to Rise, which is a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, has a new ad that features George W. Bush. Let's take a listen to a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RIGHT TO RISE PAC)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Jeb will unite our country. He knows how to bring the world together against terror and he knows when tough measures must be taken. Experience and judgment count in the oval office. Jeb Bush is a leader who will keep our country safe.
AD NARRATOR: Jeb Bush --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPINER: Now, Trent, President Bush lost the New Hampshire primary in 2000. He won the state later that year against Al Gore, but then he lost New Hampshire in 2004 against John Kerry. Will this ad resonate with Republican voters?
SPINER: Well, I don't know if it will, to be honest with you, in New Hampshire. But I will tell you this, that Right to Rise PAC has spent an incredible amount of money. In my own house, I'm an undeclared voter right here in New Hampshire. The Right to Rise PAC has spent probably hundreds of dollars sending me mailers.
Last night, I got a mailer and it looked like a handwritten note from Barbara Bush. Then I realized that my fiancee got the same note and it was a Right to Rise mailer. But they have sent so much mail, it's incredible.
TAPPER: So, on paper, Clinton has the uphill battle in New Hampshire. One of the reasons is because Bernie Sanders is from neighboring Vermont, so people in your state know him, have known him for decades, but Clinton did win the New Hampshire primary in 2008.
Do you think that she has a shot to win it all this time or is it just about getting close?
SPINER: Right. I don't -- I think that these polls you're seeing with the 20 percent margin, I don't think they're right. I think the Clintons, not just Hillary Clinton but Bill Clinton have incredible connection to New Hampshire and the Clinton campaign has, they have a -- they were out very early with a serious ground game.
So, I think that you're going to see that number really shrink. And Hillary might actually beat Bernie here in New Hampshire.
And Donald Trump is modulating his campaign tone. He's doing a lot more retail politics. He's not attacking his opponents. Do you think that he's still favored there or is it really anybody's game?
SPINER: You know, it really is anybody's game.
And the other thing on the Republican side, I think that what you're seeing is there might be a couple of winners. Yes, Donald Trump might come in first place, but there might be two, three, four tickets out of New Hampshire. So the thing we're really going to be looking at is who some of those establishment candidates are who come close to Trump or Ted Cruz.
TAPPER: Trent Spiner, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
SPINER: Thank you.
In our national lead, a public health emergency declared in the state of Florida after a spike of cases of the Zika virus. Is this just the tip of the iceberg? That story next.
[16:37:19] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
There is something of a global panic over the mysterious Zika virus. That panic is now spreading within the U.S. Just hours ago, the state of Florida expanded a public health emergency after the number of Zika cases went from nine to 12 within one day, fueling the fear so many unknowns.
Health officials still have not determined how the virus might be linked to babies born with unusually small heads. And scarier still, a staggering 80 percent of those infected do not know they have Zika because they exhibit no symptoms.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is vowing to take any action necessary to stop the spread of this virus. But with so many unanswered questions, does anyone even know the best course of action.
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Alina Machado.
Alina, you're at our bureau in Miami, one of the regions affected by Zika. What do we know about how these 12 people contracted the virus? ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we know none of the
cases in Florida involve pregnant women, which is a good thing. We also know the 12 people infected got the virus while traveling abroad. Four of the cases are right here in Miami-Dade County. The rest are in Broward, Hillsboro, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties.
And at this point, there is no indication that mosquitoes here in Florida or anywhere else in the United States are transmitting Zika.
But state and local governments are working to get ahead of the virus. They want to make sure that the appropriate resources are in place in case we see an outbreak, and that's why a public health emergency has been declared in the five Florida counties affected.
Here's what the Florida governor has to say about the response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: We're going to get ahead of this. We're going to make sure our residents are safe, our visitors are safe. We're going to do everything we can to take care of everybody in our state. It's the right thing to do, always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACHADO: Now, the state of Florida is also asking the CDC for additional testing kits. They want 1,000 Zika antibody tests. Those tests can tell if someone has had Zika in the past. They also want 4,000 more kits to test active cases.
By the way, the mosquito that typically carries Zika is commonly found in Florida and there are already mosquito control plans in place throughout the state, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Alina, how concerned are officials about the possibility that the virus could go beyond Florida and be transmitted to people in other states?
MACHADO: There's definitely concern nationwide, at least 13 states plus the District of Columbia have confirmed Zika cases, again, all among returning travelers. And federal health officials expect to see travel-related cases eventually in every state.
They also expect to see some locally transmitted cases. What they don't think we'll see here is the same widespread outbreak that they're seeing in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
[16:40:05] And that's based on what they have seen with two other viruses that are also transmitted by the same type of mosquito, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Alina Machado in Miami, thanks so much.
In our sports lead, a potential breakthrough in the deadly brain disease affecting so many NFL players. Can it now be detected in living players? Plus, brand new polls out of New Hampshire, has the leaderboard
changed in that state since the Iowa caucuses? We'll find out in just minutes.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Our sports lead now: just as the nation gears up for Super Bowl 50, yet another former NFL player is found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. Doctors have concluded legendary quarterback Ken Stabler had CTE at the time of his death in July, but the disease has never before been diagnosed in anyone still living. That was thought to have been impossible.
But now, an autopsy has confirmed experimental tests that detected CTE in former linebacker Fred McNeill when he was alive, making McNeill potentially the first person in the world to be diagnosed before death.
Let's bring in CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more on this. Sanjay, you got a chance to sit down exclusively with the McNeill family. What did they have to say?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was quite an insight into what life is like inside a home when someone suffers from CTE. Jake, we hear the headlines often, but don't oftentimes see the real personal part of this. And also this technology, what might it mean if we can diagnose this disease while people are still living. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The night before he passed, he was watching Monday night football, and he had his UCLA slippers under his bed. He loved the game and he was proud of what he did.
GUPTA (voice-over): Even to the very end of his life, former Minnesota Vikings linebacker, Fred McNeill loved football.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a monster. He was a monster indeed, all over the field, first one to the ball.
GUPTA: Despite how much of his life football later took from him.
TIA MCNEILL, FRED MCNEILL'S WIFE: Fred did everything, he played ball, went to law school, prepared for life after football. We had the kids. You know, it was a good life.
GUPTA: McNeill played in two Super Bowls, it was really no ordinary player. His sons say no ordinary man.
FRED JR. MCNEILL, FRED MCNEILL'S SON: He was the best friend of ours. Our first best friend. He was Superman.
TIA MCNEILL: And then it changed.
GUPTA: It changed. CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy entered their lives. Of course, at the time, they had no idea what was happening.
GAVIN MCNEIL, FRED MCNEIL'S SON: I remember we were playing basketball, me and him. We kind of got into an argument while playing and he started getting aggressive with me.
FRED JR. MCNEIL: There was maybe two moments where he lost it and punched holes in the walls. It was like, wow.
GUPTA: CTE can hit hard and fast. McNeill, just in his 40s, lost his job as a lawyer, filed for bankruptcy, lost the home.
GAVIN MCNEILL: I had a conversation with my mom and I was like, I think something is going on. He needs to go see a doctor or therapist, something, to figure out what it is.
GUPTA: "It" is something I noticed myself when I first met Fred back in 2010.
(on camera): Just talking I can tell that it's a little bit difficult for him. Do you remember my name?
FRED MCNEILL, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Sanjay.
GUPTA: You got it.
FRED MCNEILL: Right. Good.
GUPTA: Rage, memory loss, depression. Did your father have all three of those?
FRED JR. MCNEILL: Definitely, definitely, yes. That was another point of worry for us because there was times when he would talk about ending it and we were like no way. This is not -- this is not our dad.
GUPTA (voice-over): But it was their dad. A different dad and it was easy to be angry with him. After all, they didn't know he had CTE. It couldn't be diagnosed until after his death.
(on camera): You also made the decision to have Fred's brain donated after he passed away.
TIA MCNEILL: Well, I had made the decision early on but yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing I want to show you is this.
GUPTA (voice-over): And now for the first time she is seeing her husband's brain and exactly what football did to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The blotches you are seeing is a protein we see in CTE. GUPTA: Dr. Bennett Omalu recently made famous when Will Smith portrayed him in the movie "Concussion." You can see how CTE ravaged McNeill's brain. But perhaps even more remarkable, the doctor tells us he already knew Fred McNeill had CTE before he died. How? Using a PET scan technology that he helped develop and partly owns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the red areas is identifying the (inaudible) in his brain.
GUPTA: If it is true, Fred McNeill would be the first person in the world to have his CTE diagnosed while still alive and then confirmed with an autopsy after his death.
TIA MCNEILL: It explains a lot because I am seeing a lot of that -- the tau protein.
GUPTA: But it is early, too early. Just 14 NFL players, including Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, have been examined using this technology. Only McNeill's diagnosis has been confirmed. The question is will the tests be able to distinguish CTE from other dementias, like Alzheimer's.
TIA MCNEILL: Fred played in the first ten years of the league, so this is what Super Bowl 50 is coming, OK. So I know there's a huge number of players and families between, you know, that point and now when Fred first started playing that are going to be experiencing this.
[16:50:04]And it's important to have information for them to get help and support.
GUPTA: Just a remarkable and candid family, Jake. A couple of points really quickly. You know, there's something known as selection bias. A lot of the people having this testing done, donating their brains, are people who are worried that they might have CTE.
That's in part a selection bias. Also, Jake, it raises this question. Would you want to have a test done if there was nothing you could do about the results? There is no particular treatment, certainly no cure for this as things stand now -- Jake.
TAPPER: Wow. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: Thank you.
TAPPER: A female Virginia Tech student in court today charged with being an accessory in the murder of a 13-year-old girl. The prosecutor is finally saying why this young woman allegedly got involved in the grisly killing. Stay with us.
[16:55:20] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The National Lead now, as a family holds a funeral this hour for a 13-year-old girl stabbed to death, prosecutors say two Virginia Tech students had a sick plot to kill her.
Nicole Lovell's body was found this past Saturday in a wooded area right across the state line in North Carolina. Just hours before today's funeral Nicole's family learned a judge denied bond for Natalie Keepers.
Prosecutors say Keepers and classmate, David Eisenhauer planned the murder and that Keepers was, quote, "excited to be part of something secretive and special."
CNN's Martin Savidge is following this tragic case. Prosecutors revealed a lot about Keepers in her bond hearing today -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they did. I mean, up until now the authorities there in Virginia haven't really said a whole lot. Of course, we knew it was tragic enough.
You had a 13-year-old child that had been murdered and apparently horribly so. You had two promising Virginia Tech students somehow involved. Well, today in this hearing, we began to connect the dots, at least the prosecution did.
What they presented for Natalie Keepers wasn't that she was just someone who helped dispose of the body after the fact. No, the prosecution is alleging that she was in this plot to kill this child up to her neck.
In fact that she helped figure out the way they would kill her, by slashing her throat. That they scoped out where she lived and also scoped out together David Eisenhauer, the co-conspirator, where she would die.
It is just hard to believe that this former NASA intern, this woman who was going to be such a promising aerospace engineer like her father, is now in jail for the murder of this child.
She apparently also went to the store to buy a shovel to dispose of the body. And again, according to the prosecution, after the deed was done rode around with the body in the back of the car she was in while they went to get cleaning supplies to mask what they had done.
TAPPER: And, Martin, did prosecutors shed any light on how Keepers knew the seventh grade girl or anything about her relationship with the suspected killer, David Eisenhauer?
SAVIDGE: The prosecutors maintain that Keepers never knew the victim. At least never met her, I should say, but did apparently handle her body after her death. And then what is the relationship between Eisenhauer and Keepers? We don't really know.
They're not boyfriend/girlfriend. The family says that's not the case and prosecutors say that's not the case. Somehow, though, they connected there at Virginia Tech and it was a bond that apparently was so strong that they would even conspire for murder.
Meanwhile, Eisenhauer is thought to have an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl that they somehow met online. It was the girl allegedly going to go forward and reveal that relationship publicly that caused Eisenhauer to go over the edge, according, again, to authorities.
TAPPER: And, Martin, quickly if you could, is there any reason, any motive given or is this just some sick thing they wanted to see if they could get away with murder?
SAVIDGE: Motive is the one thing that was not brought up in the courtroom nor has it been brought up by the authorities here. We don't really know. We don't know why Keepers would throw in with Eisenhauer and why would Eisenhauer feel so threatened that his only outcome he thought was to murder a 13-year-old girl. We don't know.
TAPPER: It's a horrible story. Martin Savidge, thanks so much.
He's the young CEO, the internet dubbed the Pharma bro known for jacking up the price of AIDS medicine 5,500 percent and also for, well, never shutting up.
Well, today for the first time in seemingly forever, he was silent after pleading the fifth in front of a House committee. But his smirky smugness said enough to annoy Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it pronounced Shkreli?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, there you can answer some questions. That one didn't incriminate you. I just want to make sure you understand, you are welcome to answer questions and not all of your answers are going to subject you to incrimination. You understand that, don't you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I'm sure there are many ailing individuals out there who might like to remove Shkreli's smile with the business end of a shovel. After the hearing Shkreli wasn't silent on Twitter.
He posted a rant including a tweet that said, quote, "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government." Of course, they don't represent the government, they are the government. Maybe we'll send Shkreli a civics book, $750.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper, tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We'll be live in beautiful Hanover, New Hampshire, tomorrow. But until then I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, shake up, our new poll just --