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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  September 8, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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hello, everyone. don lemon here. top of the hour. you're in the cnn newsroom. we begin with the big week ahead. congress returns to washington divided. many members still unsold on the president's plan for a military strike in syria as we look at live pictures from the capitol. their constituents want a no vote. the white house chief of staff dennis mcdonough took to the sunday shows making the case. >> this is not iraq or afghanistan. this is not libya or an extended air campaign. this is something targeted, limited and effective so as to underscore he should not think he can get away with this again. >> secretary of state john kerry met with arab league ministers in paris today. he says saudi arabia approved international military intervention in syria.
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other key regional support uncertain though. kerry emphasized urgency. >> some of the other countries that weren't certain whether they could but might have wanted to, wanted to go home and consult with their leaders in order to get decisions, but everybody understood the decisions need to be made within the next 24 hours. >> so the obama administration is pushing forward with this intense lobbying efforts on capitol hill, but it's been very tough going for the administration. chairman of the house intelligence committee says the odds are actually getting longer for the president. >> i think it's very clear he lost support in the last week. again, it's difficult to try to make a decision if you don't have access to the classified information. >> our pentagon correspondent is barbara starr stand buying with more on the white house lobbying efforts. it's going to take a big effort. what do they have planned this week? >> well, on this sunday night,
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it is already under way. the vice president joe biden meeting with key senators to talk to them, try and do a little political influencing for a military strategy in syria. then it gets even busier starting tomorrow. let's take a look at a couple of things here. the house members will view those very graphic, very disturbing videos on monday. the senators will see them on wednesday. the push will continue. president obama on monday will speak and do interviews with all of the key news networks including our own wolf blitzer, trying to push his case on a tuesday. he will talk to the nation about all of this. you've already seen today key white house officials out on the sunday talk shows. look for the administration over the next 48 hours to really try and seize the agenda and deliver their message that they believe military action is the only way to go. it will be very tough going.
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>> this just into cnn here. it is saying a senate leadership aide tells cnn president obama will go to capitol hill on tuesday to make his case for military action on syria to senate democrats. that is he knows he has a tough sell. >> he's got a tough sell all over capitol hill with democrats and republicans. pentagon officials here also making the case. perhaps if we look at some of the numbers we've been tallying on the congressional votes. let's start looking for the senate side. 25 yes votes, 23 no votes, 52 undecided. a long way to go. when you cross over to the house side, tougher going for the white house. 25 yes, 143 no, 256 undecided.
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you see the unknowns there, as well. i think the numbers lay it out very clearly. the administration from the white house to here at the pentagon to the state department has a very long way to go on this. >> one house democrat told candy crowley this morning that the president might as well drop his request before congress. tell us about that. >> well, this was democratic congressman mcgovern from massachusetts opposed to military action, not yet convinced. doesn't think it's going to work. have a listen to what he had to say. >> if i was the president, i would withdraw my request. i don't believe the support is there in congress. people view war as a last resort. i don't think people think we are at that point. i would step back a little bit. we have other issues to deal with congress dome stink and
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international. if asking me for my advice, i would say withdraw. >> one of the themes you keep hearing, democrats and republicans all over town is that the administration needs to make the case for military action. what is the military goal? what is the military strategy in syria and what do you do the day after lobbying the cruise missiles or the bonds hit syria? what happens next. that seems to be one of the key things many members of congress are still looking for answers on. >> barbara starr, thank you. i want to bring in a member of congress who has been very vocal in her opposition to any u.s. military action in syria. that is janice hahn from california and joins me from los angeles. thank you for joining us. i want to get your take on this. we are just getting in that the senate leadership aide tells cnn the president will go to capitol hill on tuesday and make his case to senate democrats. what does that tell you,
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congresswoman? >> it tells me that the president feels very strong ly about his take on this whole situation in syria. he believes very strongly that we as the moral leader of the world need to take this action against assad to make sure that these chemical weapons are never used again. we've all been in our districts for the last couple of weeks and i don't know about my colleagues, but i heard loud and clear from my constituents, they absolutely do not want us to get involved in this civil war. >> you've been very clear you feel military action against the assad government wrong, yes? >> i have been in the no column from the very beginning. i went to church this morning and prayed about it. i still feel like this is not the right course of action for us to take.
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>> after you were on yesterday, there were two analysts -- i think they took umbrage in this is not the way my constituents want me to vote. it wasn't like a facebook page, i have this many likes. that as a leader you should have some sort of moral imperative to guide you. you were here to defend yourself. how do you respond to that? >> my family has been in politics a long time in los angeles. we very much believe we are elected to represent the people. i am to give voice to the over half a million people i represent in my congressional district. that's the way it works. just as the president should not make this decision, and he's not, divorced from congress or the american people, i don't think congress members should make this decision divorced from their own constituency.
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that's how it works. that's how democracy works. i think this show of democracy right now as the world watches is actually very important to show this is how a mature democracy acts in the face of a very difficult international decision. >> do you propose an alternative to military strikes in syria? >> for me, i think we as the united states should take this moral leadership. should take this energy, should take everything we know about bringing people together and take it to the international community. i know people say all the time the u.n. is a joke, but this is what the united nations exists for. is for situations like this where there is a bad actor in the international community. i'd like to see us take the evidence when it's all in, show
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it to the other countries so that everybody sees it the same way and see if we can't find another way to hold this regime accountable for using these chemical weapons. we don't have the international support right now for a military strike. so i'm hopeful that if congress turns the president down, he'll work hard aer on finding an alternative. >> janice hahn, thank you. appreciate you joining us here on cnn. >> thanks, don. tuesday night president obama takes his case for u.s. action against syria to the american people. he will address the nation from the white house. you can see and hear the president live 9:00 eastern here on cnn. before the president addresses the nation, he is sitting down with wolf blitzer. you can see that tomorrow 6:00 eastern on "the situation room." syria's president is waiting for an air strike and giving interviews to western media. later, the president of the
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naacp with a surprising announcement. ben jealous talks about why he is resigning. [ male announcer ] don't miss red lobster's endless shrimp. it's as much as you like, any way you like. try classic garlic shrimp scampi and more. only $15.99, offer ends soon. so come in and sea food differently. now, try seven lunch choices for $7.99. sandwiches, salads and more.
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of what would follow. >> obviously, that they were prepared as they could be for a strike. he said they would be suggested they would be among people that are aligned with him, some kind of retaliation if a strike was made that that would be, that he would not talk about any kind of nature of the response. he had a message to the american people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the middle east and in wars and conflicts in the middle east. the results had not been good. >> president obama has said regime change is not his goal and any intervention in syria. is that plausible given horrific crimes president assad is accused of? lieutenant colonel rick francona, you spent three years in syria at the u.s. embassy in damascus. do you think assad must go? >> oh, absolutely.
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he's done so much to that country. i think he's gone too far down the road. there's been too much bloodshed for anybody to let this go. there needs to be a syria without assad in the future. >> if he does not get congressional support to strike, will it hurt him politically, do you think? will he somehow hurt america's credibility? >> if we don't strike syria, i think our credibility is on the line in the middle east. in the middle east, it's more about perception than the reality. it's how we look there. i can tell you by reading the syrian press, watching some of the reporting coming out of the middle east that while it looks very good to the west and to us, for the president to go to congress and seek the authorization, that makes us look strong. it makes us a reluctant warrior and doing things deliberately. in the middle east, however, it is perceived as weakness.
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syrian headlines were the american retreat has begun in the face of our glorious president bashir al assad. it's a different perception on both sides of the ocean here. >> colonel, secretary of state john kerry says saudi arabia will back military intervention in syria. what is the answer to getting more allies onboard? >> backing us is one thing, but participating is something else it. expect the saudis to back us and to support us morally, but i doubt they really bring much to the table militarily. more importantly, there are other allies in the region that could help us, specifically turkey. there is a huge nato air base in southern turkey, very close on the syrian border. that would be an ideal place to station and launch american aircraft from. that would be the kind of support we need. moral support? it's nice, but it doesn't bring anything to the table. >> thank you, colonel. disturbing videos of
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aftermath of apparent sarin gas attack in syria. is the white house trying to get the media in doing its work convincing the american people a u.s. assault is necessary? we'll discuss that next.
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the question of u.s. involvement in syria headed to the halls of congress in just a matter of hours. let's talk about this with our regulars. anna navarro is a republican strategist and here in new york
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city with me is l.j. granderson, a cnn commentator. good to see both of you. congress officially gathers in washington at 2:00 tomorrow, but a key republican who supports the president on syria says the administration is actually losing support and he says the white house has credibility problems that go beyond the current crisis. >> part of the problem was, they started today or last week. they really needed to start two years ago on this process and really haven't done it. they don't have strong relationships in congress. this tells you the relationship with congress. it's not great. susan rice to brief congress on the year anniversary of benghazi. and they are trying to win votes. the credibility gap there is huge. >> okay, guys. cnn is just learning that president obama is going to go to capitol hill on tuesday and make his case to senate
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democrats. anna, he's got his work cut out for him. the president is going over to capitol hill. >> he needs to, don. this is not looking good. i think they lost a lot of momentum. there's over 100 congress people that have already announced they are no votes. he needs to win it. he needs to get his democrat base back onboard. he needs to play the loyalty card. he needs to make the case himself. i think this issue on susan rice, frankly, is petty. at this point she is the national security advisor. se is talking on behalf of the president of the united states. i think that's her role. frankly, the one that must change hearts and minds of congress and the american people is president barack obama. >> l.j., the representatives said the credibility here goes beyond just this syria crisis. what do you make? do you agree it goes beyond the syria crisis and there is a
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credibility problem? >> i think that this entire conversation, the messaging of all of this has been bad in most part. i agree it should have happened two years ago. when he was saying things that this guy needs to go, assad needs to no. he should have been educating the american people and working with congress about why he felt that way. last year when we knew there were chemical weapons being used, that conversation should have happened. at this point what he is doing now is scrambling for the most part. it makes the messaging even more clouded. i agree with ana. he lost a lot of momentum. perhaps he should have called congress to come back to d.c. when he first addressed the american people. now it seems he's behind the 8-ball. >> there is an issue with your microphone so we'll share it here. you saw those terrible videos, those videos that came out yesterday. retired general david petraeus issuing a statement backing the
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president. the president speaks with wolf blitzer on primetime monday night and speaks to the american people tuesday night. this is a fall-scale pr offensive. is it going to work? >> no, it's not. i feel as if the initial messaging was off to begin. with it should not have been about the u.s.'s interests. it should have been about this international law that has been violated. he should appease, appeal to international leaders about defending this international law. the american people are war-weary. if you engage the international community and talk about the importance of defending this international law, then you come back home and say this is what we need to do as part of the international community. the messaging is backwards and i feel that is why this is largely ineffective. >> let's talk about those graphic videos. cnn obtained yesterday those
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videos. some critics are saying the white house is trying to get the media to do its work, influence public opinion airing these horrific videos. do you agree with that? >> no. i think it's outreach 101. i think it makes all the sense in the world to put out these videos if they are trying to remind the american people and congress just how horrible these images are and what exactly we are talking about. part of why momentum has been lost, the last ten days, every time we are talking about syria, it's i a politician giving a speech or testifying in front of a hearing. let's go back to remembering why we are doing this in the first place. i agree with l.z. a lot of what is happening right now, there is a lot of frustration on the hill, particularly by some of the members asking this administration for two years to do something on syria. to give support to the rebel. there is a feeling this president boxed himself in with
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the red line comment and is now trying to check off a box. he has got to change that perception. the only way president obama can change that perception is by saying why we're doing this, how we're coulding it, what we hope to achieve and just being determined and resolute about the action in syria. >> how do you see this playing out? a split in congress, a double defeat in the house and the senate? then what? >> i think we have to figure out whether or not there is going to be a double defeat. i tell you -- >> we keep saying this. a lot of people i'm talking to average everyday americans say this isn't about the president. this is about syria. too much emphasis on the president making his case or what have you. is this about the syrian people, the assad regime, and is it being framed the wrong way that it's about president obama?
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>> yeah. it goes back to some of the points i made last week. this isn't a win or victory for president obama, but whether or not how the u.s. wants to be perceived internationally. our credibility internationally. i want to go back to how this is going to play out in congress. we need to pay attention to who is up for re-election in the 2014 mid-term election. there are a lot of vulnerable democrats who do not want to do anything to further upset their constituents. just as the congresswoman from california talking about the voices from her constituents, that is going to play into how this vote is going to come down. no one wants to go back home in the 2014 election having gone against the will of the people they need votes for. unfortunately, that is going to impact how this plays. >> talking about congresswoman janice hahn. thank you we are out of time. i appreciate you, ana and l.z. what would u.s. military action
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in syria mean for the rest of the middle east? how does iran, lebanon even israel fare here? we talk to two remark ababl men. >> it's human nature to invest. it's really hard. >> he's using the talents of 1/2 million online members to do it. >> quirk, you are now a quirky inventer. >> and saul griffith, inventer, scientists and winner of the macarthur genius award. >> sometimes you think, i have the idea, now i have to do it. >> griffith and his team are revolutionizing robotics, creating a new field of soft machines. >> when fully pressurized, it can lift a human at arm's length.
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in a rare interview with u.s. media, syrian president assad is denying he had anything to do with the chemical weapons attack. he pointed the finger at syrian rebels. >> he did, however, say that if in fact we do have them, and i'm not going to say yes or no sh, y are in centralized control and no one else has access to them.
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he suggested that perhaps the rebels had something to do with it. he basically says there has been no evidence that i used chemical weapons. >> so nations are divided over whether military action is needed in response to these alleged chemical attacks in syria. what is obama's stance say about america's place in the world? joining me from washington now, mideast analyst and co-author of "going to tehran" hillary mann lebret. you're a former state department official, you interviewed al assad and his father. what is the world impact if the u.s. does strike syria? >> well, there's been a lot of talk about how potentially syria's allies like iran, hezbollah and lebanon could counterattack, retaliate against the united states. that is true. the greater strategic problem for the united states is after
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invading iraq, afghanistan, libya, each one of them less and less effectively with more and more blow back, we are now in the position, i think, that if we attack syria with what president obama has planned, it will show the world that u.s. might, our political power and our economic power are seriously on the decline. >> you said if we do decide to strike or don't? >> if we do. there is no victory. there is no military victory. it will be a failure. even president obama is not claiming there is a military solution to this that he is proposing. he is saying there just needs to be a message sent, punishment. nobody out there claims, puts forward there is a victory. what this shows the world is after afghanistan, after iraq, after lib yashg the united states is less and less able, less capable of pulling off what it says it needs to pull off militarily, politically and economically. >> it sounds like you're saying,
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i don't want to put words in your mouth, american intervention will be sort of the last end for u.s. influence in the middle east. and why is that? >> yes. i think this could be the nail in the coffin for american influence in the middle east. we have seen a precipitous decline in u.s. influence over the past decade. we squandered so much, so fast, historians will look back and be stupefied that we have used our military force unconstrained to go into countries we don't understand trying to force political outcomes that time and time again were shown are not possible. we couldn't do it in afghanistan. we couldn't do it in iraq or libya. we keep trying. each time we try, we come out weaker. i'm afraid and concerned that our attempt to do it yet again in syria will be the last nail in that coffin. >> you heard the president earlier in the summer talking
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about benghazi and other things. he called them made-up crisis, right? this particular crisis seems to be of his own doing. you said the words stupefied. are you stupefied somehow the president has gotten himself here? >> unfortunately, both libya and syria were self-inflicted errors by president obama. in both cases, for libya he said right away, gadhafi must go. same thing for assad in syria. assad has to go. so much so when gadhafi was trying to negotiate with others in africa we squashed that. assad has been willing with the syrians, with the iranians, with others we demonized to have some political way forward and we quashed it. the most recent thing, we quashed this u.n. investigation to see who is responsible for this apparent chemical attack on the ground? it doesn't seem we are interested in actually finding out objective reality. we are interested in forcing a political outcome with our military force.
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something we have now seen over and over again is not working. >> hillary mann leverett, thank you very much. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> the president of the naacp is resigning. ben jealous joins us live since making that announcement a couple hours ago. also, a chef giving back to his community, his food trucks serving up second chances.
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in days after 9/11, a photo of firefighters raising a flag became a symbol of national unity. "the flag" investigates the mystery of what happened to the ground zero flag and explores the deep emotion surrounding the american flag itself. >> let's just consider what old
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glory is. >> it stirs a different sense in all of us. i think there's one meaning of the flag, but many interpretations. each of us can have a personal connection with that symbol. >> we're not a country based on religion or ethnicity or even cultural heritage. we're a country based on ideas and a philosophy, and that's what that flag is. >> it makes us all feel united. it makes us feel like we're bigger than just ourselves. >> it's not until we're challenged that we reach back at what makes us americans and what that is and what the symbol is is the flag. >> to follow the journey of the ground zero flag, watch the cnn film "the flag" tonight 9:00
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eastern here on cnn. immediately after, the director of the program is going to join me to talk about new leads in the search for the flag. that happens at 10:30 eastern here on cnn. a chef and his food truck are changing lives in a city with its share of struggling residents. we expect chefs to serve up good meals, but for this chef, that's a start. tom foreman has this week's "american journey." >> reporter: of all the food trucks working the streets of atlanta, few draw customers as quickly as ford fries. no wonder, he is the star chef behind some of the best restaurants, and this latest passion is not just another business. >> i never really wanted to have a food truck for a business. it's too hard work. to go back and serve the city was just something i had a fashion of doing. >> reporter: every meal sold here provides the money for two or three served for free here.
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this is the nonprofit city of refuge, a center to help some of the city's neediest residents with housing, health care, education and of course, meals. >> on a daily basis we have 200 residents that live on campus, another 100, 150 will come on campus each day to receive the services we provide. >> reporter: it is also a job training center in which people who are struggling learn all the skills needed to work in the restaurant industry and how to put their lives on a positive track. >> i learn basically everything you could learn about cooking. and i've learned also a lot of managerial type of skills and i've learned how to be a better person. >> she pays attention, gets it right the first time. that's why she is here with us today. >> is it working? >> step right up. >> the program claims a 100% success rate in placing its graduates in jobs, restaurants, catering companies and at least for a time, in the tasty truck
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that helps make it all possible. >> tom foreman, cnn. >> thank you, tom, for making me hungry. the president of the naacp with a surprising announcement this afternoon. ben jealous resigning. he joins me live to tell me why.
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as we told you last hour, the president and ceo of the naacp is stepping down. ben jealous will leave december 31st to spend more time with his family. he joins me live. we hear that, i want to spend time with my family all the time. sometimes usually means someone got kicked out. i'm just being honest. i just saw you a week ago, you were very happy and i wondered why. and? >> there you go. my chair asked me when i called her, is there somebody who is
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luring you away. i said yes, there is. his name is jack and her name is morgan. my son is 14 months, my daughter is 7 1/2. my father has been a leader in the feminist movement in california 40 years. when i was 2 and my sister was 7, he took off two years to really spend with me and my sister and help raise us. even though he and i often had a cat's cradle relationship with him being very driven and me, as well, we've shared a strong bond because we had that time together when i was so young. so this just seems like the opportune time. i told my daughter 4 1/2 years ago when she said when are you coming back, daddy? give me five years. i explained how important this organization was. our family belonged for five generations. i had an important role to take it to the next level. having done that, there was no excuse to not keep that promise to my daughter. >> we talked about that when i
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interviewed you. it was about four, five years ago. when you first became leader during that time. you mentioned jack and morgan. i met morgan. jack wasn't around then. you better mention your wife or you'll be in trouble. >> i'm the only civil rights leader when the supreme court decisions came down had to watch his wife on cnn to get the talking points and then go on after her. yes, i have a very serious wife lea. jack was an aspiration then and is now. >> let's talk serious stuff. the biggest civil rights challenges still remaining? >> we are in a real fight on voting rights. it's likely to be a generational battle because it's being waged against us by people fully cognizant in 2043 this country becomes a majority people of color. they are trying to hold on to the old order as possible. i would not have stepped down if i wasn't confident that the
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leadership of john lewis and nancy pelosi and eric cantor is all going to add up to us getting the re-authorization of section -- excuse me, the restoration of section iv. i also wouldn't be leaving if the naacp across the country wasn't rising to the challenges of this day so effectively. just last year, five miles from here up in maryland, in one year we played a critical role abolishing the death penalty, passing sensible gun safety reforms, passing the dream act, expanding voting rights and passing marriage equality. our folks are doing great work like that across the country. the national law office now, we doubled the revenues in five years from about $23 million in
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2007 to $46 million in 2012. we have expanded our grassroots donor base about eight times up here from 60,000 to 132,000. it just seemed like the right time. >> there is taped programming after this. there is no more show. i have to run. what are you going to do next if you can do it very quickly for me? >> sure. i plan on teaching and really investing my time in training the next generation of people who will lead this country. >> short answer. thank you. good luck to you. ben jealous, president and ceo of the naacp, soon to be the former. he is stepping down december 31st. first television interview since announcing that. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> it's back, the nfl, back on the field and one of the league's biggest stars seem to get better with age.
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we are talking week one plus the u.s. open.
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the nfl is back with all of the stars, spectacle, the controversy we have come to expect. terence moore is back with us, he is a sports contributor to and columnist for give me three things to look for in the new nfl season. >> there's going to be a lot of whining for players and coaches over all these new rule changes involving tackling in particular and hitting in general. that's because nobody understands what this is all about. specifically, they're very confusing and they're a result of the fact the nfl is panicking over all these lawsuits involving concussion. number two, the nfl has been around since 1920. this will be the most competitive year ever. there are at least 12 teams out
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of the 32 with a legitimate chance, not only of making the super bowl, but winning the super bowl. number three, this involves where you're at right now, your new hometown of new york city, throughout this year every hour on the hour will be getting a new york weather report because the super bowl is in new york in february. there are already reports that it's going to be a major snowstorm for that super bowl. >> you know, there's new york and then there is everywhere else. new yorkers go, you mean there's a whole other world out there beyond the boroughs here? one of the most hyped up-and-coming star is robert griffin iii. what should we expect from him this season? >> there is nobody that can live up to this hype including rg3. right now people are looking at this young kid as being sort of a combination of superman and the holy trinity, okay? let's start with this.
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there is dr. james andrews, a noted surgeon who has been around for a billion years. dr. andrews never said anything about his clients, but he has said about rg3, he is concerned about how the redskins are going to use him this year. even if he were 100%, there is nobody that can live up to this hype. he's in washington, d.c., with one of the most rabid fan bases there is. he could be a big disappointment because of all the people expecting too much. >> so i want to talk about your early super bowl prediction. you said it's going to be in new york. did we get a preview with peyton manning's performance thursday night? i was so happy as a man of a certain age, what is like, yes, us old guys, we can do it. >> when the guy throws seven touchdowns against the defending super bowl champions, you've got to like denver's chances of winning the afc. nfc, i go with the 49ers simply
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because they were so close of being there last year. they've got fewer weaknesses of any team in the national football league. go with denver and san francisco in the super bowl. always go with the quarterback. kaepernick is good. john elway is great. go with denver as the new world champions. >> peyton manning, all i'll say. i love it. time on the planet wisdom. that's the best. >> that's exactly right. if he had gray hair, i would go with that. >> is there hair up there? >> a little bit. >> thank you, sir. a day at the festival ends in horror after a ride stops suddenly sending kids hurtling to the ground. details ahead. what's important to you?er] at humana, our medicare agents sit down with you and ask. hanging out with this guy. he's just the love of my life. [ male announcer ] getting to know you is how we help you choose the humana medicare plan that works best for you. mi familia. ♪ [ male announcer ] we want to help you achieve your best health,
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>>. >> congress gets back to work officially tomorrow. house and senate members jumping into one main issue and that's syria. president obama wants their authorization to launch military strikes. he'll go to capitol hill tuesday to talk to senate democrats. don't miss the president's interview with wolf blitzer tomorrow 6:00 p.m. eastern on "the situation room." in connecticut, an accident on a swing ride left 13 children injured, two seriously. the ride lost power and threw the children to the ground. one witness says he heard a big boom then a whole bunch of screaming. i'm don lemon.
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