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Southwest Passenger Who Tried to Save Victim Speaks; CNN: Many Republicans not Ready to Back Trump's 2020 Bid. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2018 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

The breaking news, in just a few moments, we will hear from one of the passengers who was on Southwest Flight 1380. One of the heroic passengers, Firefighter Andrew Needum helped pull the victim Jennifer Riordan from the window of that plane and was part of the group of people who tried so desperately to save her life. We'll bring you this news conference as soon as it happens from his firehouse in Celina, Texas.

First, this morning, dozens of Republican lawmakers struggling to answer a very straightforward question, will you support Donald Trump in the 2020 election? The president has already declared he will be running for re-election, yet members this morning of Congress refusing to give a straight yes or no about whether they will endorse him.

Our Manu Raju chasing these members down, asking the difficult question that really honestly shouldn't be difficult at all. Manu, what did you hear?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. A wide array of House and Senate Republicans are simply saying they're not ready to endorse the president yet, really a reflection of the tenuous relationship the president has with his own party on Capitol Hill. Now, member after member have said they have to wait, too early to decide whether to endorse him or they're not even quite sure that he's going to run, even though the president has made explicitly clear that he's running, he's hired a campaign staff, he's raising money and he's more than ready to run for re-election. But when you ask members of Congress if that means they're going to support him, they say otherwise.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: It could be a completely different world by 2020. We have a 2018 election first. So, you know, listen, I understand the kind of got you question you're engaging here, but it is way too early to even be talking about it.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I have no idea who is going to run for president in 2020. And I'm not about to say who I will support for that. So we have no idea who is going to run. Whether the president runs again or not I think is very questionable, candidly.


CORKER: I don't know. Why would he?


RAJU: But the president said that he is running, even as there are some other people who are suggesting they may run against him. There are possible primary challengers that could emerge, Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, the outgoing senator has left the idea open, John Kasich, the Ohio governor. Republicans say that they don't think there is actually room for a primary challenge to be successful, but if there was a primary challenge, it could be make things difficult for the president.

Historically in the last three times that have been a primary challenger against a sitting president, the president has won their primary, but ultimately lost the general election. But nevertheless, John, a lot of these Republicans are not certain if they'll get behind a rival. And one thing they say is watch the midterm elections. If the Republicans lose big, perhaps some of these Republicans will start to endorse a primary challenge to the president. John?

BERMAN: Really interesting, not just to listen to the answers they gave you, but to look at their body language. How uncomfortable they were even discussing it right now, again, should be a very basic easy question to answer. Manu Raju, impressive that you thought to ask it. Thanks so much for being with us.

RAJU: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: New developments surrounding Michael Cohen, the president's personal lawyer and sometimes fixer. We learned overnight that a different lawyer for the president has had conversations with the president, warning him that Michael Cohen could flip. This comes as the president refuses to rule out firing Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, trying to push out the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Our Kaitlan Collins, live in Florida, near where the president is staying. Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, John it was a yes or no question really that was posed to the president yesterday -

BERMAN: I hate to interrupt you. Kaitlan, I hate to interrupt you. I want to go to Celina, Texas, right now. We're going to listen to Firefighter Andrew Needum right now who was on that Southwest Flight.

ANDREW NEEDUM, FIREFIGHTER WHO TRIED TO SAVE SOUTHWEST FLIGHT 1380 VICTIM: They need to be back to their friends, some normalcy, so they're there. But, you know, we have all the glory to God, just being here right now. The ability to speak before you all, God put me in this position for a reason. He gave me this platform and forever grateful for that. [10:05:00] There was a family that lost a loved one. And I feel for her family, I feel for her two kids, her husband, the community that she lived in. I can't imagine what they're going through. But I'm thankful that my family is here. We're standing strong. Some emotional ups and downs, but God is good and he's carrying us through.

The events that took place on that flight are -- they are what they are. God created a servant heart in me and I felt a calling to get up and do something, stand up and act. I'm no different than any other firefighter in this country. For some reason, whatever reason that is, it was me that day.

But I work with some great guys that would have no doubt have done the same thing and just grateful to be here, in this position. I'm grateful for the city of Celina and the community, this Fire Department (INAUDIBLE). They have all stood with me through this - has reached out to me. A lot of folks have reached out to me and there is a lot of love that has been sent my way and forever grateful for that. There's no way I can repay any of that to -- that we have been blessed with over the last few days. So I guess this time I'll take questions if you have them.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the situation, how things went during that fatal moment?

ANDREW: It was a terrible thing that happened and someone lost their life. But we took off from LaGuardia, no issues, smooth takeoff and got in the air. I was informed somewhere around 32,000 feet, something like that. And I heard a loud pop, as we all did. Flight attendants were in the aisle, the row behind me, and I believe they had started to ask for drink orders. And when the pop occurred, when the engine failed, and I immediately looked to them in the aisle, turned back around and oxygen mask had been deployed. My father was sitting next to me and my son next to my father against the window. And put mine on and helped my dad and my son with theirs. I guess dad already had my son taken care of. So didn't really help out much there, looked across the aisle to find my wife and my mom and my daughter on the other side. They had their mask on.

And immediately behind my wife was a young female traveling alone, and she had a 6-month-old child sitting in her lap. There were some issues with them getting their mask on. Couple of times I got up from my seat and helped her try to get that -- the mask on herself as well as her child. Sat back down and looked across the aisle to my wife after we heard some commotion in the rear of the plane. And I looked at her eyes and she basically gave me the approval to go back there. In fact I think she may have told me to go.

[10:10:00] Anyways, at that time is when I went to the rear of the plane. And what took place back there I'm going to leave out of respect for her family. I'm going to leave that alone. But I never was -- I never was in fear of my life. I'm sure my family could speak otherwise. But I'm trained for emergency situations. And that's just exactly what it was. And felt moved to act. And as well as other people on that plane. Tammie Jo, the pilot, professional, professional in all aspects. And her crew, amazing job. Southwest is a great company, and they took really good care of us. No question in my mind as to who I'll be flying with again. But they really took care of us and Tim McGinty, he was my big guy, had my back. Nurse Peggy, she's a special lady. Tyler, I'll butcher his last name, you know who you are, he and his wife were on a return flight from their honeymoon, and he helped out tremendously. There were others.

People aboard that plane, God put people on that plane for a reason. And, you know, that's -- everybody acted, and everybody stood strong. But we finally made it to the ground, I guess, and just thankful, you know. Again, my heart goes out to Jennifer and her family. Can't imagine what they're going through. So -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) when you talk about people (INAUDIBLE)

ANDREW: I really don't. I don't know. We never know. May never know why that reason is. God put us on that plane for a reason, don't know why. He gave us this platform today, just our prayer that his glory shine through this.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) I'm sure there is mixed emotion, but can you walk us through what is on your heart right now?

STEPHANIE NEEDUM, SOUTHWEST 1380 PASSENGER: I'm really proud of him. This is a calling that he has. And he did amazing.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) that nod you gave him, what is that nod?

ANDREW: It was a nod, it is in her eyes. I can see it in her eyes when -

QUESTION: When you did that nod, did you say, you know, I don't know what's going on there, but (INAUDIBLE) can you explain (INAUDIBLE)

STEPHANIE: I never really feared for my personal kids. Their grandparents both had them. I did have my hands on my daughter. I was concerned about the sweet little girl behind me who was with her mom and just I can't imagine how scared she was. I do feel like God has called us all to do special things and Andrew's is to serve other people. And I knew that God had him on there. I don't know that I said anything to him.

[10:15:02] ANDREW: I don't think so.

STEPHANIE: I just knew that at that moment that someone else needed him much more than we did. And that's what his calling is to help. And that's what he did.

QUESTION: Since this happened, have you gotten closer? Seems like you guys are a very close family, but have you even gotten closer with not just your father and all, but the children? Tell us about that.

ANDREW: Yes, there is a special bond in this community, Celina and this Fire Department. I think we have all grown from the circumstance, but even with the people on board the plane, been in contact with them. And, you know, we're still healing. And this isn't over. As far as the healing goes. But we know we're not alone. And so, like I said earlier, we're standing here strong, and just know that God's in control. And we'll move forward.

QUESTION: One last question from me, any message directly to the family that you want to send condolences or something?

ANDREW: Like I said earlier, she had two kids, a loving husband, and a community around her that loved her. My heart is broken for them. And I just pray that they find comfort, they find healing whatever that may be or however they seek it. But time will heal.

QUESTION: Can you describe what was the feeling on the plane? Was it calm? Were the people moving around, talking to people? Can you kind of describe the scene on the plane?

ANDREW: Yes, like I said earlier, you know, people were placed on that plane for a reason. And there was people helping others throughout the plane, throughout the plane. No doubt. And I felt calm. I knew that Tammie Jo had it under control. So that allowed me to do me and others to do what we did. So I think overall I think it was calm, yes.



QUESTION: Going back in time for a moment, what were you doing that morning when you were traveling to New York for a trip?

ANDREW: We were in New York on a family vacation, visiting my aunt of my wife's, and her daughter. And it was my parents' 39th wedding anniversary. And so we went up there to celebrate with them. Stephanie and I had some other things that have occurred here recently in our lives that it was time to get away. And so that's where we chose to go for our destination as a family.

QUESTION: What was leading up to that morning?

ANDREW: Leading up to which morning?

QUESTION: The morning of the flight.

ANDREW: Well, anybody with two kids and somewhat early flight, it can be hectic and that's what it was. It was hectic. But, yes, I mean, we had -- we got through, was it TSA security and making it for the flight. Yes, no, it was good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Previous, probably I believe our last two days in New York City, where I believe we were focused on fire and rescue, amazing time. We visited -- Andrew had the opportunity to visit and talk with firemen in two different stations. He visited 9/11 memorial and the other memorial on Riverside Drive and the fire museum.

[10:20:03] Andrew and Stephanie both were reading firemen books that they have purchased. It was -- when I look back as a mom, it was all in preparation for what happened on the plane. Of course, you had no idea, but God just used that -- those times to where both of their hearts were in on fire and rescue. And so when the event happened, a mom and a dad responded. Stephanie was helping the mom behind us with her baby. Tommy and I had the children. My focus was directly on Ellie, his was directly on Colton. And they were free, I felt, to respond to other needs on the plane. And they did it very well. And Tommy and I both are very proud of them, for what they did. And the children did very well too.

QUESTION: How old are your kids?

ANDREW: Do you want to disclose that?



Colton is 8 and Ellie is 5. They'll be turning 9 and 6 next month so -

QUESTION: How are they doing? You said they're back in school today?

ANDREW: Yes, they are. Friends heal. And so that's -- as a mother and a father and we made that decision to go ahead and put them back in school today. And they were excited this morning. And but they -- no doubt, they were shaken. But they're strong. They're very strong.

QUESTION: What do you (INAUDIBLE) the community, across the nation, to support you and the firefighters? What can people do to help you and other families, support, whatever that looks like?

ANDREW: I have got a strong community here. And -- yes. Prayer. Prayer and thousands have been praying already. And those prayers have been felt. And, yes.

QUESTION: Tammie Jo and crew, their actions, did you have interaction with Tammie Jo after the flight?

ANDREW: Yes, I walked to the front of the plane after some time and Tim and I were standing there and Tammie Jo and, first officer -- what's -- I think his name was Daniel, I believe, I can't remember, I apologize if I'm incorrect in that. We just had a brief interaction. She wanted to get back and see the passengers of the plane. So basically she just came out and said she was captain and she got on back to the rest of the people in the cabin that needed her much more than I did.

STEPHANIE: She made it a point to stop and talk to every passenger and interacted with every single passenger to check to see if they were all right. She took the time to stop and talk to our daughter. And she was very good to her and they had small talk about the oxygen masks, which as a 5-year-old that is what she was most interested in. And she reassured her that in her 32 years of flying that her oxygen masks had never come down. So she kind of told our daughter that she was special, to try to make it a positive. She just -- she comforted everybody. She did. She did an amazing -- she is an amazing person. QUESTION: Could you tell the people where the seat belts -- with everything that was happening, how did the plane -- was it bouncing, tilting, seat belts?

ANDREW: Sure -- I don't know if the seat belt light had been taken off at that point. I don't believe so. So everybody was belted in that I saw. And so, yes, I mean, like I said, takeoff was smooth.

[10:25:04] After the engine malfunctioned, then it was a little turbulent. But my understanding they brought us down to about 10,000 feet almost immediately and so there was -- you can only imagine the experience that was. But I think all and all, it was smooth. There was some shaking of the plane, but nothing that was too bad.

BERMAN: Wonderful, remarkable person you've been listening to. Andrew Needum, a firefighter from Celina, Texas, hailed as hero by pretty much everyone around the country the last few days as he tried to save the life of Jennifer Riordan on Southwest Flight 1380. But at this press conference, he pretty much refused to talk about anything he did, instead he talked about the family of Jennifer Riordan and how he feels for them and talked about everything everyone else did on that plane, a wonderful and needed combination of bravery and humility right there.

Polo Sandoval in Philadelphia for us where that plane ultimately did land. Polo, it was really refreshing to hear someone like that in these times.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite the emotional moment there unfolding in a small Texas town firehouse there, John. Clearly adds perspective now and just paints a clear picture of what took place in that Boeing 737 on Tuesday morning as we hear from Andrew Needum. We also heard that that was not his first attempt to try to help somebody on that plane. We also heard from him that he noticed another woman with a young child in her lap struggling to try to use that breathing mask on her child was having problems.

He then sprang into action to help her, he then returned to her seat and that's when he heard that loud commotion a few rows back which we now know was that situation with the damaged window and Jennifer Riordan that was essentially being sucked out of the plane. That's when he looked at his wife, sprang into action, and then with the help of another gentleman then finally was able to pull her back into that plane. So clearly does give us a better understanding of the tensed and horrific moments that played out. But yet you hear from this gentleman in Texas right now and saying he was never in fear for his life. He was trained for emergencies. And that's exactly what that was on Tuesday, John.

BERMAN: I had a friend from Texas text me during that news conference and note I have one word to describe that man, Texan.

All right, Polo Sandoval in Philadelphia for us, listening to that. Much more ahead. We'll be right back.