tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN February 17, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
let's go out to dinner. so i think the media maybe blows it up a little bit. >> i'm glad we tried to grab some perspective. brandon, thanks very much. i'm brooke baldwin. i'm out of time. turning things over to jake tapper, "the lead" starts right now. when george washington, the father of our country, reflected on our country, he thought some people may get great tire deals on my birthday. and today's juiciest political drama is not here in washington, it's in kentucky. the state's two senators are putting those differences aside, or at least pretending to, as one of them is fighting for his political life. if the top republican is not
safe this year, then who is? the water in west virginia is safe to drink after a nasty chemical spilled into the supply. but today, yet another alarming sign forced an elementary school there to shut down. is the water safe or not, people? and the sports lead, an interview that everyone is talking about. nbc asks and asks and asks, bode miller about his brother who just died a few months ago until finally the skier broke down in tears. did nbc go too far? good afternoon, everybody. control of the u.s. senate is up for grabs. republicans feel good in louisiana, arkansas, north carolina but before republicans can face off before vulnerable democrats, they are going to have to get through their own
primaries and in these contests we do see a battle going on for the sole of the republican party. as establishment incumbents try to stave off tea party challengers. perhaps nowhere is that fight more vicious than in the bluegrass state of kentucky. the united kentucky tea party voted on the debt ceiling and called for mcconnell to drop out of the race so, they say, conservatives can rally around bevin. mcconnell is not going to do that. he was elected to the senate 30 years ago and he was trying to shore up tea party support by appearing with his fellow rand paul, a star of the tea party. mcconnell took every opportunity to mention mr. paul. >> please to be here with colleague senator paul under senator paul's bill which i'm proud to be a co-sponsor of. we have senator paul's very
creative idea. senator paul's freedom zone's act. >> i'm getting the feeling that rand paul was there. you may recall when rand paul ran for office four years ago, it was only after paul won that primary that mcconnell threw his support behind him. paul has endorsed mcconnell even though paul may be more attuned to mcconnell's tea party views. >> you know, things are complicated with regard to endorsements but i would say, one, because he asked me and, two, he asked me when he did not have an opponent and, three, i'm also somebody who believes in bringing people together. >> things are complicated, rand paul says. it's complicated. perhaps more fitting for a facebook relationship status update than an endorsement. joining me now is joe arnold, political editor at our
affiliate has in kentucky. does mcconnell need rand paul to vouch for his credentials? >> there's no doubt that he's been seen as an essential player here in kentucky. don't forget, mcconnell originally endorsed his opponent in 2010 but they have merged as a mutually beneficial relationship here two years ago rand paul vouching for mcconnell at the state capital. there's no doubt that mcconnell cease paul as an essential part of his campaign. >> and the united kentucky tea party demanded that mcconnell drop out of the race but how strong is that sentiment and how weak is mcconnell? >> well, of course we'll have to find out once the primary comes. mcconnell has a healthy sizeable
lead against the local businessman, the investor who's challenging him here. however, mcconnell is taking nothing for granted in the process. i think anyone -- most observers would be shocked if mcconnell loses that primary. the alison grimes'campaign has said that mcconnell is helping for the weakening in the fall. >> you were covering the campaign of alison grimes today as she was out on the field. can a democrat win in kentucky? >> there's no question about that. keep in mind, kentucky has a democratic governor. the state certainly has been trending more conservative and more republican. mitch mcconnell is the godfather of the modern republican party here in kentucky and he's very vulnerable. this is a very interesting candidate here in alison grimes as someone much more difficult to beat up on as far as negative
advertising. she's 35 years old and has only been in office for two years. as a result, some of the recent candidates in recent pasts against mcconnell have had a longer life and record to beat up on. there's no question about her unknown status here is going to be very fertile ground for mcconnell's famous campaign operation to define here. >> joe arnold, thank you so much. >> thanks, jake. >> so let's talk about how complicated things are for republicans. let's bring in dana milbank and ross columnist for "the new york times." ross, this seems to be a microcosm for the fight that the republicans have been having for years now. it doesn't look like matt bevin is ready to defeat mcconnell.
>> i think kentucky -- i think this race is less of a microcosm in terms of where the republicans are now compared to two years ago. i think it's more of a unique case where you have an unusually strong potential democratic challenger. you have mcnonkell, a high-profile leader, leader of the republican party in the senate and so on. but there are not as many races across the country that are likely to shape up as tea party challengers toppling old bulls of the republican party this time around. >> steve stockman in texas is -- >> we are paying a lot of attention to bevin. >> mcconnell's people are worried about bevin. they are not happy about this. >> they are foolish if they are not worried about it because if you look at the last couple of
cycles, a guy has been way down and -- >> bennett, lugar. >> right. it looks as if -- and i've said it before -- that the tea party fever has broken here. so the dynamic is still there that somebody could rise up but the tea party doesn't seem to have the same power that they used to and we see it here in the capital with bill after bill we're seeing a much more marginalized -- >> in a sense, although they are more marginal because in a sense they have gone more mainstream, right? mcconnell is standing -- that is the bigger story in a sense. you played the clip of mcconnell citing my good friend rand paul over and over again and clearly the energy in the party in certain ways is with the previous tea party ways. figures like cruz, paul, mike lee, who has emerged as kind of policy guy for sort of potential
republican reformers and to a certain extent, marco rubio. now in terms of the primaries, we're sort of into steve stockman. >> i want to say that overall the republicans feel good about the odds of taking the senate back. >> sure. i think they phonfound a way to co-op. the reason the republicans are being looking strong, certainly in the house and even likely in the senate now is because they are a bit more unified. but more than that because of the democrats' weakness. >> mcconnell's weak polling against bevi in is an outlier. the under lying factor is as long as the president's approval rating is in the low 40s, republicans should be able to win the senate. historically, out party senate votes track very well with presidential approval ratings.
that may change but right now that's the more important factor. >> republicans also feel good because over the weekend a very conservative candidate opted not to run making that race more competitive. >> if you think about it, if it wasn't for them to knock off front-runner republicans, they would already control the senate. in indiana they should have had these seats and lost it because they didn't go with the mainstream candidate. they seem to be losing that now. >> great to see you guys. coming up on "the lead," too extreme for even al qaeda. their brutality knows no bounds. the shocking footage from syria's war within a war. plus, at the olympics, it's
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now as the group is being forced out of certain areas, our own arwa damon and her team have gone in to see the devastation in isis' wake. we should warn you, some of the images in this exclusive report -- well, they are very disturbing. >> reporter: this grave has been dug up before. the bodies are identified, reburied in the same spot. in video filmed at the time, gruesome images of the corpses. it's among many graves unearthed from radical fighters who once were their allies. now, weeks later, a family hopes f for close sur. >> we found a shoe and a foot and a jacket. she's with her neighbor, mohammed. it's his two younger brothers that are missing. one might be here.
we just went out to ghetto mate toes and sugar, mohammed recalls, still disbelieving. and his wife wanted sox for their kids. >> that's the jacket. >> reporter: it's the same jacket, mohammed says. the site is next to a former prison run by isis. its walls lined with bullet holes. some from clashes, others we are told from executions. mass isis fighters as seen in this video use fear to rule. anyone caught filming them killed. this was the main isis checkpoint and as part of their terror tactics, eyewitnesss were telling us that they would leave the bodies executed at the checkpoint so that every single car coming through would be forced to slow down and could
not ignore that brutal message. isis is a group so merciless that even al qaeda has distanced itself from it. this man is telling us that isis had beheaded bun of the key commanders here and came in early in the morning when the market was really busy and placed his head on top of the garbage heap. it was in that very same spot. and they turned around and told everybody that that would be the fate of anyone who dare to speak out against them. their harsh and tolerable rule caused other groups to launch an offensive against them earlier this year. so we had to leave the fronts with the regime, abu jamal says.
but isis still looms large in syria, consolidating its forces and posing its reign of terror. in this video filmed after the day we met mohammed, he realized it's not two but three of his brothers murdered by isis. he thought one of them was in jail. arwa damon, in syria. >> the peace talks ended on a sour note in geneva, plenty of finger pointing. secretary kerry laid it all on assad. >> they have refused to open up one moment of discussion legitimately about a transition government and it is very clear that bashar al assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith. >> this isn't, of course, just
about some minor fighting far away and out of sight. the united nation says there are millions of refugees and although the death toll is not updated anymore, a pro opposition group says more than 7,000 children have died. cnn cannot independently confirm those numbers. let's bring in gail, a senior fellow with the council on foreign relations program and our own jim sciutto. let's start with the reaction to arwa's piece. it's just devastating. >> it is. it's just incredible and it's incredible reporting. inaction would lead to syria today becoming 1980s afghanistan on the mediterranean where foreign fighters would retrin and use wa they learned. the children are the ones who pay the price. you have 1.1 million children refugees and about half of those, three-quarters to half are under the age of 12. >> and we're seeing this huge
destabilizing impact on the rest of the region. we saw president obama meeting with the king of jordan. jim, john kerry not only criticized assad, he krcriticiz russia. he used the term enabling by saying, quote, russia is always being urged to make more of an effort to resolve the syrian conflict. we have done everything we promised. they don't seem to actually want to stop. >> this is the trouble with policy. urging the russians and seyrian to be good actors. that kept the assad regime in power and saved them from military strikes from the u.s. assad feels emboldened and thinks that he can survive. when you have a policy that's
dependent on them doing things that you want them to do that they don't want to do, that's a real problem. you have to wonder where the u.s. leverage is. >> gail, i want to show this tweet. i believe it was arwa who tweeted a syrian reverend few je refugee walking in the desert. he was finally reunited with his family. you've talked to aide workers on the ground there. how bad is it? >> it's epic. aide workers can come nowhere near meeting the efforts of those needed on the ground. it is just swamping. >> 25% of lebanon is a syrian refugee. you look at what that means. 80% of the syrian refugees are children out of school. you've had arne duncan on before and he talks about the connection between undereducated
children and violence and this is definitely something that is not going away. and there's no way right now for these humanitarian community to meet it. the u.n. gained only 60% of its budget for last year. nobody knows where that money is going to come from. >> it was -- kerry seemed to be hinting that he wants to do more and we know from last year's debate that he wanted more of a muscular intervention. what can president obama and others do? >> i agree with you because i've heard that from secretary kerry as well. the options on the table are options that have been eliminated or they have been very reluctant to activate. covert actions, military air strikes, this kind of thing. that's a problem. those involve risks which the administration to this point has not been willing to take, whether it's risks to american lives or that weapons get in the wrong hands. trouble s. those weapons are
already in there. you have "the wall street journal" report last week that the saudis are going to send shoulder fire missiles. what are you left with? the administration gave us a background briefing on friday and they are talking about a u.n. resolution but they admit that it will not have sanctions or military action attacked to it. so where is the teeth? who is going to follow that resolution? >> tragic story and it looks like it's only going to continue to get more tragic. gayle, thanks. > according to a u.s. official, officials were talking to students at a local university about traveling abroad and they were speaking to students without the venezuela's permission. the timing is odd. secretary kerry r secretary kerry released a statement concerned about the protests organized by students
about a rise in inflation and a rise in crime rates. eight u.s. diplomats have been expelled from the maduro government since he took office last year. it's been 39 days since chemicals were spilled into a west virginia river but students got sent home today after the distinctive smell reappeared. when will the water finally be safe to drink. plus, get your brackets ready. who is the best of the first ladies? that's next on "the lead."
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. many of america's first ladies have a legacy that lasts well beyond their years in the white house and in many cases have approval ratings that their presidential husband bees can only dream of. but of all of the first ladies to occupy the first wing, who takes top honors?
our own erin mcpike takes a look at the contenders. >> reporter: the competition was fierce with new contenders vying for spots held by long-time favorites while one star outshone them all. yes, c-span and siena college released the american first ladies. 39 first ladies were rated in ten categories, including public image. >> how do you do? >> value the president, being her own woman -- >> i've done the best i can to lead my life. >> reporter: and, of course, value to the country. for the fifth time since the survey began in 1982, ella floor roosevelt clenched the top spot. here at the memorial in washington, d.c., the only first
lady to be included in her husband's monument, her membership in the first american delegation to the united nations. roosevelt famously advised wives on the campaign trail to lean back in the parade car so everybody could see the president but after 12 years in the white house, she was as much of a star as her husband. >> eleanor roosevelt made it politically and socially relevant in a way that nobody had ever done before and we still remember her for that reason. >> reporter: the current first lady, michelle obama, is already ranking high on the list, placing fifth overall. she swept the competition in her ability to manage family life while in office. >> my most important title is still mom in chief. >> though it is not at all unusual for a first lady to be very, very popular and this helps explain why the role has grown so much.
presidents are increasing polarized. the first ladies rise above politics. >> reporter: but fashion's favorite first lady is, of course, jackie o., whose treasured art and furniture she took pains to preserve. >> thank you so much. >> reporter: the sixth place finisher may soon run to be a category of her own, the former secretary of state and senator hillary clinton was deemed the easiest to imagine as president. >> she isn't benefiting from whatever other first lady in this poll is benefiting from, that he is, the loss of partisan polarization. she just finished up as secretary of state in a very polarized it environment. >> reporter: the place as last place was given to pierce, even referred to as death's head in the white house which may have
contributed to keeping her from the head of the list. so this may be a little unfortunately and sad, but jane was married to our 14th president and historians often deem him the worst president of all time. >> the four. very sad. jane, death's head? >> you may have noticed that laura bush was not in that story and she was ranked 12th and that's because historians say she didn't do that much while in the white house. >> historians are tough. erin mcpike, thank you. bode miller takes the bronze medal. did the interviewer go too far? our sports lead is next.
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we really have to talk about something that happened at the olympics over the weekend. 36-year-old bode miller winning bronze at yesterday's super-g event was emotional. his younger brother chilly died at the age of 29. bode thought they'd be at the events together. christin cooper asked miller repeatedly and some say she went too far. >> reporter: i know you wanted to be here with chilly, really experiencing these games. and how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him and was it for him? >> um, i mean, i don't know if it's really for him but i wanted to come here and i don't know, i guess make myself proud but -- >> when you're looking up at the
sky at the start, we see there and it just looks like you're talking to somebody, what's going on there? >> the big debate that continued online and in the newspaper and on cable and news stations today, did cooper push bode miller too far? let's bring in senior media correspondent. i want to read some of the harsh reviews that nbc got. they say that cooper lacked the sensitivity to know when enough is enough. the associated press called it tone deaf and cruel. i won't even bother going into what twitter had to say. what did you think? >> i don't think viewers gained anything from all of her probing and that should be the standard that is used. we were only able to use a portion of the clip because nbc has all of these rules about what you can show from their broadcast. there were a couple of other questions before that one where he started to bring up his brother in vague terms. then she followed up, as it's
understandable that she would follow up like that. but to go to that last question, talking about him looking up in the sky when he had already been tearing up, i think it goes back to the question, did interviewers gain much from that questioning? i don't think they did. >> one, it did seem to me -- and i'm not judging this -- but it did seem to me that she was trying to get him to be emotional. and, two -- >> trying to get him to cry, right. >> and, two, i think there are a lot of people in our world, television news, who probably said she did exactly what she should have done because those emotional moments are what viewers want to he sue. i'm not saying that i agree with that but people in our business say that. >> people were calling the reporter heartless. i don't think the reporter is ultimately responsible here. i think i kind of agree with what bode miller said afterwards. he retweeted someone who said this. it wasn't her fault. it was the fault of the nbc olympic producers.
she was being told what to ask. anchors like to blame the producers behind the scenes. but i think this is right. they were creating a story line unless with what the reporter was specifically asking. she was -- she was told to probe in that way. >> nbc released a statement defending the interview saying our intent was to convey the emotion na bode miller was feeling after he won his bronze medal. it was our judgment that the answers were a necessary part of the story. we're gratified that bode has been publicly supportive of christin cooper -- this isn't the first time that they brought up a sensitive topic to provoke a response from an athlete. >> no, it sounds silly to say this. death is a theme of olympic games when they are on nbc. it's brought of repeatedly as are other public stories.
i think the olympics are dramatic enough without conjuring up death itself. the poor performance of some u.s. athletes is dramatic enough and there's already enough story lines about that. i don't think you always have to probe further the way we saw last night. >> i think it's clear that there was a desire to make him cry and it worked and that's what people are reacting to. brian, thank you so much. we appreciate it. >> thanks. coming up on "the lead," more than a month after a chemical spilled on the river, how can water that is too nauseating to smell be safe enough to drink? we'll pose that to the question of the mayor of charleston, west virginia. ♪
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welcome back to "the lead," i'm jake tapper. "the national lead now." it was half a day for students in north charleston, west virginia. and it was not because of george washington's birthday. teachers at the school reported today smelling that infamous licorice-like odor. that smell was enough to send
students home for the day today after complaints of headaches. the chemical spill left 300,000 without access to clean water. government authorities have been arguing that the water is safe for drinking despite real fear in the community. the national guard is retesting the water at that school. charleston mayor danny jones joins me from charleston, west virginia. mr. mayor, good to see you. you say you're drinking out of the tap at your house but senator rockefeller, senator from west virginia, said i wouldn't pay drink that party if you paid me. are you the only official that trusts the taps? >> no. i think that most people drink bottled water because that's what they drink. my refrigerator is full of it. but i drink fountain drinks and make my coffee with tap party and when i'm out in the restaurant i drink fountain
drinks for coffee that i'm sure is made with tap water. i think in most places the water is okay. but it seems like in the past couple of weeks it's been schools that this -- that it is manifested that smell that has surfaced again and -- >> is there a reason for that, mr. mayor? is there a supply to the schools that would mean it's going to the schools and not other houses or businesses? >> not that i know of. and it's -- it's very odd because if there's been -- if there had been reports in the neighborhood up woodward drive where grandview elementary is, i haven't heard about them. i'm not saying they are not there. we keep hoping this will end but maybe it hasn't. >> mr. mayor, i just have to say -- >> we hope it does some time. >> it's terrifying as a parent i
can't even believe that i'm hearing this days after health officials have said and environmental officials have said we think it's okay to drink. the cdc says the chemical is in trace amounts. the licorice keep ts coming back and the places where we send our children, doesn't this make you angry? >> i'm a little perplexed about it and i have a 5-year-old and 7-year-old in those schools myself. so i am obviously very concerned about it. i think this is under the state jurisdiction. i think it falls under the state to make sure this situation because it spreads to nine counties makes it go away. and the state is doing some testing. i don't think it's enough. and tomorrow night when our counsel meeting -- when we go into -- when my council meets in
the city of charleston, i'm going to ask them to fund some testing in the city of charleston with our own funds from the city of charleston. we're going to go into hotels and into some people's homes and it's going to be significant because our brand has been damaged by this and we need to get to the bottom of it. >> all right, mr. mayor. we appreciate it. thank you. best of lucks to your kids. wolf blitzer is here with a preview in "the situation room." you were at the all-star game. you were narrowly beat out by john wall. >> just a little bit. he won the slam. it was very impressive. i had a great time. >> what did he have that you didn't? >> he had the ability to do that kind of -- >> the skill. >> i have no skill whatsoever but he did a great job. >> who do you have on the show? >> we have charles barkley he was at the white house. he sat down for a one-on-one with the president of the united
states. saw him there at the nba game. there we are. we're going to ask him, what was it like inside the white house with the president. >> he was one of my heroes. very exciting. coming up on "the lead," whoever thought that the talk show was the audition to take over johnny carson. a new era starts tonight. that's next. [ male announcer ] this is the story of the dusty basement at 1406 35th street the old dining table at 25th and hoffman. ...and the little room above the strip mall
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years. >> represided over the most transformative events in history. >> i am joining with you today. >> reporter: martin luther king's "i have a dream" speech. vietnam protests. so it's hard to believe that this 19-feet high, 175 ton abraham lincoln, one of the most recognizable memorials in all of the world never almost existed because of congressional gridlock over government spending. when you hear about people talking about government as a swamp, it's not just a metaphor. over a century ago, right where i'm standing it was a swamp, a place to even dump dead bodies. now, to build this would cost $3 million. it doesn't sound like a lot in tod today's terms but back then it was the most expensive in history. >> joe cannon called it a swamp and he didn't understand how he
could have a presidential memorial out here. >> reporter: it took almost a decade, five failed votes in congress to approve the site. >> the designer, who was henry bacon, came up with this idea of putting this thing on an elevated kind of hill on pile-ones 60 feet in the air and that's when the temple of the memorial actually begins. >> reporter: finally, in february 1914, 100 years ago this month, construction began and took eight years to complete. >> it's an epic memorial in that it is not only speaks to this huge american experience that is -- that was so important in our history. >> reporter: but the lincoln memorial is not just iconic because it commemorates history, it's a place where history is made, the place for political protests. that all started in 1939 with a concert by opera singer mare yan anderson.
♪ >> she had been scheduled to sing at the daughters of the american revolution but when it was warned that the audience who be segregated, she refused to do so. it was a concert but it was a protest and people knew it. prayer pilgrimage was organized by martin luther king. >> there was a huge event here which was very celebratory but draws on the same edition. >> reporter: while the memorial itself is a tribute to lincoln from his famous speeches to his hands, one clenched for strength and the other open for compassion, it's the perch that lincoln provides for americans to protest and celebrate. >> this has become the place that american people really feel
attached to it. >> and in the pop culture lead, join me for a brief walk in time to 1998. ♪ thank you mike and ike ♪ thank you candy corn >> after watching that sketch 15 years ago, how many of you thought i bet that guy would go on to host "the tonight show"? jimmy fallon officially takes over of the program and he's pulling out the big guns. the debut includes will smith and a performance by u2. conan o'brien sent out this supportive tweet "as the only
man alive who's hosted "the tonight show" and "late night," i want to congratulate jimmy fallon. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to wolf blitzer. mr. blitzer? >> jake, thanks very much. crimes against humanity. the united nations issuing a truly shocking report about abuses by north korea's leaders. a group in syria that is even too brutal for al qaeda. and fake websites groups after a republican decoy tricked people giving money to the gop. and george zimmerman speaks out. chris cuomo talks about is had interview with the man who thought trayvon martin. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."