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President Obama Unveils Budget Plan; Apparent Murder-Suicide in New York; Fix My Flight: Travel By Train Versus Plane; Libyan Opposition Forces Call On NATO For Increased Airstrikes; TSA Criticized For Patting Down Six-Year-Old; Eric Cantor Dismisses Donald Trump Potential Presidential Bid

Aired April 13, 2011 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Busy day. President Obama jumping into the fiery debate over the nation's massive debt and how to fix it. The president has laid out his plan just in the last hour. His goal here is to reduce it by $4 trillion. That is the big number, big headline here, within the next 12 years. So, how does the president plan to do that? Through what he calls shared sacrifice.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.

A serious plan doesn't require us to balance our budget overnight. In fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again we need a phased-in approach. But it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now. Above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road.


BALDWIN: OK. So here are the four main points of President Obama's plan.

Hold down domestic spending, cut defense spending, reducing Medicare/Medicaid costs, while making both programs stronger, and making the tax code simpler while ending the Bush era tax cuts for couples who make more than $250,000 each and every year.

But the last point, that is a toughie. Republicans are fiercely opposed to raising taxes. They are calling tax hikes a nonstarter.

I want to go to straight to the White House, to Ed Henry.

Ed, I know you listened to every single word, appreciated the line, he wants to use a scalpel and not a machete to cut spending. So let's start with the big number that the president presented, number, $4 trillion. And I want you to compare that to the number we heard from Congressman Ryan shortly ago, the $6 trillion, and also the tax issue, if you can highlight the differences there.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the big-picture number in terms of the deficit reduction, Paul Ryan, the chief Republican on budget matters in the House, wants a lot more deficit reduction, as you said, $2 trillion more in a shorter amount of time.

The big difference among many, but probably the biggest one the president highlighted was Medicare, that Paul Ryan largely wants to turn it into vouchers, privatize it, give people the money to go out and purchase the health care. And the president says that is the wrong way to go. He made clear that he wants to in his words protect senior citizens.

And so they will have a big, big battle largely on the future of Medicare. I think that's one of the biggest differences. On taxes, the president drew this huge line in the sand, which is not new really because it goes back to the 2008 campaign that he said that he would only want to raise taxes on people making over $250,000 a year.

But what is interesting to me and what Republicans are already pointing out already is, while the president is saying we have got to increase these taxes on the rich, he had a chance to do that in December and did not do it. He kept the current Bush tax rates in place, infuriating his liberal base.

And so will people on the Hill think those words will ring hollow, because all of a sudden, he needs the revenue, the money that would come from raising taxes on the rich? He had a chance to do it in December and didn't do it, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Well, Ed, you mentioned the word battle and really it is a battle on both sides, right? You have the liberals. They don't want these deep spending cuts. You have the conservatives who say, hang on a second, we don't want be raising taxes.

So also keeping in mind that we are heading into an election season, does the president risk alienating his base and would the president even fully implement this $4 trillion number?

HENRY: Well, that is the big question, because, frankly, there are not a whole lot of specifics. You mentioned sort of the big picture. The president was saying, look, we need to act boldly, we need to stop kicking the can down the road. Hallelujah. I think there are a lot of people around the country who think both -- leaders in both parties here in Washington need to step up, have some guts to make those tough decisions.

But then in the next breath, the president is saying, we have got to protect seniors, we have got to protect the middle class, I don't want to hurt education, I don't want to hurt clean energy programs.

But once you start carving out all those priorities and saying, don't cut there, where will you cut? Who is going to feel the pain if you don't want to hurt these various people? And so obviously, the devil will be in the details, Brooke.

BALDWIN: In terms of implementing this, the president called for a fancy way of saying this bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. Essentially, folks from both the House and the Senate, both sides of the political aisle, they hammer out this thing essentially arriving at the legislative framework, right? What if they can't even compromise?

HENRY: Well, then we have got a stalemate and then that is obviously a big problem for the country, not just a political fight here in Washington.

I think the most important point to underscore there is the fact that the president for the first time had sort of a road map, not just about the various programs, but how to get to a deal and for the first time had some sort of a deadline.

He said, number one, Vice President Biden is heading to the Hill in early May to be the lead negotiator here to try work it out and he said he wants a deal by the end of June. That sounds awfully ambitious where we are right now, but maybe with the presidential leadership, which his critics have said he has not shown on the deficit reduction issue, maybe now if he does step up and engage the country and say we need to do this by the end of June, maybe he will force Congress' hand.

But late June is coming up pretty quickly and that is very, very ambitious. But that's what presidents try to do in both parties. They try to lay out that deadline, hammer this public message and try to force Congress' hand. We will see.

John Boehner has had a pretty strong hand in these previous budget negotiations in forcing this president to put more spending cuts and no tax increases on the table so far. And so we will see whether or not that end of June deadline is really met, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Well, I think we will be watching. I think Americans will be watching as well, end of June, mighty ambitious indeed.

Ed Henry, thank you so much.


BALDWIN: Mentioned John Boehner.

Let's head over to Capitol Hill for some reaction from Congress.

Dana Bash is there. She's our senior congressional correspondent.

And, Dana, if I may just pull back for a moment, we just went through this massive, massive battle over just making sure the government stays funded through September, which we're finally reaching this 11th hour compromise and now we are talking reducing the nation's deficit in a decade, maybe 12 years, a little bit bigger of a fight. How is that going to work? DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little bigger. That is a great understatement, Brooke.

Look, there's no question about it that this is going to be a gargantuan, gargantuan fight and we already are seeing the outlines of it. We are already seeing both sides of this battle. But how is that going to work? The question is whether or not there is some sliver of hope that they could thread the needle down the middle and whether or not you can take the lines in the sand from the president let's just say on Medicare Medicaid and even tax cuts and Republicans on the same issues and try to find some middle ground.

As they have kind of been lobbying back forth, there has been some effort already, even before the vice president comes up here in May, that has been going on for months and months here. Six senators have been in a room meeting many times a week trying to figure out that middle ground, trying to figure out that sweet spot.

I just interviewed the Senate Budget chairman, Kent Conrad, who is one -- he's a Democrat -- one of those six senators. He said he is not sure if they can come up with something. He says he is hopeful that they keep working on it. But that could be that area where at least could -- it could be a building point for bringing these two sides together, but it is -- I mean, you said it.

Just look at the fight over billions of dollars. We're talking about trillions and major, major changes to very important issues that people really -- that really hit home.

BALDWIN: Well, Dana, when you talk taxes, people, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, their ears perk up a bit. And what about the notion possibly, dare I say the word compromise, of just simply simplifying the tax code? How might that go down for both Republicans and Democrats?

BALDWIN: That is one of things that this group of senators is actually talking about, maybe not so much -- maybe simplifying it a little bit, but also just kind of doing away with the fight over whether or not the Bush tax cuts will be raised or not by just lowering all tax rates and by sort of dealing with that by having tax cut expenditures.

You have heard the president talking about this, doing away with the mortgage reductions, other things, to kind of balance it out. It is possible, but tax reform has been talked about, Brooke, for years and years here in Washington. And it's very hard to do.

But if there is really a stomach to actually do something, not just for people to talk about it, but to actually do something, that could be one area where there possibly could be agreement.

BALDWIN: What about this whole other issue, Dana, which is the debt ceiling? I know there was a closed door meeting this morning, right, and they addressed something the president did not do at least publicly today. Are the Republicans at all willing to budge? Would they be willing to raise it at all, because we're hitting that -- we are coming close to July here?

BASH: They are willing to raise the debt ceiling, absolutely. Either it's House Speaker John Boehner on the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell. They both say that they understand that defaulting would be terrible.

But they want conditions. What those conditions are going to be, that is something that Republicans have not even decided amongst themselves. We have heard them talking about spending caps. We have heard them talking about a balanced budget amendment, which could be a tough sell, to say the least, spending cuts.

So they have not decided amongst themselves. Now, I will tell you that the House speaker responded to a question at a press conference earlier today by a reporter asking if in that meeting the president suggested that he was open to doing something on the debt ceiling with conditions. The speaker responded yes.

Some other sources on the Democratic side are suggesting that it was not that explicit, what the president said, but that is something that they will have to come to compromise on very, very soon, because we are talking about May 16 that the treasury secretary says that the U.S. government, the Treasury, will bump up against that debt limit.

And they possible could have some wiggle room to the second week in July, but it is not a lot of time that they really have to figure that out. That really is -- we are talking about global issues. We're talking about big, big things, based on the president's speech. But the next real fight, the nitty-gritty fight, in the trenches is going to be that.

BALDWIN: May, June, July, Dana Bash, they will be here before we all know it. And we will all be watching those deadlines. You have got a busy summer ahead of you, Ms. senior congressional correspondent. Dana, thank you.

And I just want to remind Republicans are getting ready to respond to the president's speech there on the Hill. We will have that. We will bring that to you live as soon as we see them step up behind a podium.

And now take a look at this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was having difficulty speaking, of course, and just was repeating about the car being in the water with his mom and siblings.


BALDWIN: What a story this is. A 10-year-old boy is the only child of four to escape a sinking van. He says his mother had driven into the Hudson River. What he did when he got out and other new details from this horrific story next.


BALDWIN: A tragic apparent murder-suicide story out of Newburgh, New York, today.

Police say a clearly distraught woman, Lashanda Armstrong, mother of four, intentionally drove her minivan into the Hudson River. Her kids were inside. Her oldest son, a 10-year-old boy, is the only survivor.

Lashaun says he escaped by essentially climbing through a window he able to roll down before the van sunk.


CHIEF MICHAEL FERRARA, NEWBURGH, N.Y. POLICE: The investigation has revealed that all the children were inside the vehicle when it entered the water, but the 10-year-old child managed to escape.

It appears that from the investigation he managed to hit the power windows opened up one of the windows and climbed out of the vehicle before the vehicle sunk. Information gathered thus far indicates that Lashanda Armstrong intentionally drove the vehicle into the river. The City of Newburgh Police are still investigating as we speak today.


BALDWIN: Deb Feyerick live in Newburgh for me on the latest on the investigation.

And, Deb, first, with this 10-year-old boy, I cannot even begin to comprehend the emotional scars, but do you have any update on how he is physically, number one, and, number two, how long did it actually take to find the van that sunk in the river?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 10-year-old boy, we are told, is with his aunt. His aunt, grief-stricken, came down here actually to the water to see where this tragic accident occurred.

Without the eyewitness account of this child, Lashaun Armstrong, well, this whole family would have been MIA, according to police. They would have been missing. The vehicle was found about 25 yards offshore submerged under eight feet of water. It was hidden. It took divers and helicopters more than an hour to locate the vehicle and then pull it from the water.

Right now he is in stable condition with his aunt, but we are told that when he managed to swim to the shoreline, and a passerby saw him and brought him to the fire station. That is why they were able to mobilize so quickly to at least find the van, but all those children in that car, along with the mom, who was apparently distraught, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I know it is still so early in these kinds of stories, but what if anything are you learning about this mother? And also fact that we keeping hearing the phrase domestic dispute, some sort of domestic dispute before this mother took off with her children in the van, what do you know about that?

FEYERICK: Well, police are looking into that right now.

Apparently there was a call was made to 911 by a relative, saying that there was a domestic dispute incident at the home of this family, but when police arrived, nobody was at home. It is within the timeline. Moments later, that is when the 10-year-old showed up at the fire department.

We do know a couple of things. The first is that apparently she did pick up her children early from day care. That is uncharacteristic. Also, according to the day care's director, apparently the mom looked out of sorts, just looked kind of out of it, also uncharacteristic.

The landlord says he had been called to the apartment twice in six months to change the locks. And the aunt who was here moments ago basically said that nobody should judge her niece, that, in fact, nobody knows what she was going through, what she went through, again, 25 years old three children, 5, 2, and 11 months old, including the 10-year-old, the only survivor that little boy -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Seeing the images of that teddy bear just floating in the water, it takes your breath away. Deb Feyerick in Newburgh, I appreciate it.

And we are staying on the story through next hour. In fact, next hour, I will be speaking with the fire chief from Newburgh. I will ask him what it was like to be at the firehouse when that 10-year-old boy showed up sopping wet asking for help. And apparently this fire chief says he has dealt with many deaths before, but the situation is like nothing he has ever seen in his career. That is coming up.

But, first, listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever was targeting these individuals was doing it because of their business. And so that is why I said we don't have somebody running around Suffolk County with blood dripping from a knife.


BALDWIN: Here is another one out of New York, a lot of questions here. Police on Long Island, they are trying to reassure people they should not be terrified if you live in the area, as the search continues for a possible serial killer. We will tell you where the search has now moved.

Plus, there is a lot of bickering over the budget, but nothing seems to be getting done at least thus far in Washington. Who will pay for it in next year's election? Will it be President Obama? Will it be the Republicans? We will tackle that question next.


BALDWIN: You heard it right here on CNN just this past hour, President Obama laying out his plan to cut spending and tackle America's debt.

It is obviously a very delicate dance for any president, striking a balance on one side with spending cuts and on the other raising revenue, which, of course, requires rolling back those Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. So says President Obama. But GOP leaders again making it very crystal clear today any tax increases are off the table, period.

So what do we do now?

For more, we turn to Jessica Yellin in Washington.

And Jessica, is all of this back and forth, you know, pointless posturing from either side here or are we getting in a substantive debate on the deficit?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, look, the timing of this was political for the president.

Democrats wanted to let the Republicans propose their budget reforms first, so in contrast, the president's proposals would seem less upsetting to his own Democratic base. And certainly some of the president's remarks were highly political. For example, the president took dead aim at House Republican Paul Ryan's budget, which would dramatically change Medicare and exact deep cuts in social programs.

Here, I pulled one piece of the speech that sounded like a campaign speech to me. Listen.


OBAMA: This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan's own budget director said there's nothing serious or courageous about this plan.

There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don't think there's anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don't have any clout on Capitol Hill.

That's not a vision of the America I know.


YELLIN: That is what they call in politics drawing a contrast with the opposition.

But I do want to emphasize this, Brooke. Both sides are really talking about meaningful change to cut the debt. So, we're entering a political season. Yes, everything is done through a political lens, but both sides are proposing real reforms.

BALDWIN: Well, let's -- to follow your phrase, let's continue to draw the contrast. I want you to go through some of the key differences between what we heard today from President Obama and what we heard just days ago from the Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.


I will highlight some of the bigger pieces, the bigger examples. So, one example, the Republican budget proposed by Paul Ryan would alter Medicare, so the government would no longer pay part of nearly any doctor's visit that a retiree takes. So that would mean less coverage by Medicare.

And Republicans and Democrats disagree about how much less. The president's plan would not do that at all. Instead, the White House says it would look for savings in other ways in Medicare, for example, reining in prescription drug costs.

OK, on the flip side is something that you pointed out. Republicans, their budget would cut taxes for the wealthiest and for corporations, which they say will simulate growth. The president's proposal would let the Bush tax breaks expire for the wealthiest and end many corporate tax rates. Those are just some basic examples, but that speaks to a stark difference in philosophies about how the government should work.

BALDWIN: So how do you think that both of these plans, Jess, how do you think they sitting back at home with constituents of both Republicans and Democrats and also with the party base?

YELLIN: I don't even have to guess in this day and age. I already know, because our in-boxes have been filled with commentary.

Already on the left, some progressive groups are howling. Ultra- progressives do not want any change to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. So, what I just held up is an e-mail from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. And already they say that their mailing list has gotten 88,000 Democrats to pledge that they will not donate a penny to the Obama campaign if the president -- quote -- "cuts" Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, as Dana has reported on other side, some Republicans are not pleased with the idea of Republicans changing health care entitlements either, Medicare, Medicaid, because that does not sit well with voters.

And then don't forget that Tea Party groups, they want more cuts than anyone has even discussed. So, there many unhappy constituencies, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I love it, click of the mouse, and instant gratification. Got the response. Very nice, Jessica Yellin. You are very good. Thank you very much there in Washington. And coming but here, how young is too young? Parents, think about this one. You have a 6-year-old girl gets a pretty invasive pat-down at the airport. Her parents and others out there, perhaps some of you, they are outraged over this story. We will share some of that video with you, see what this pat-down entails and hear from her parents. That is ahead.

Also, he was rushed to the hospital just yesterday. We reported on this. Today, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his sons are being held for questioning by the new Egyptian government. We will tell you why next.


BALDWIN: A couple of stories unfolding right now, including the fact that we are learning even more about the search for what very much so may become the Long Island serial killer. Here is what we know. Today, dive teams, they joined in the hunt for more bodies, more clues.

Also, aircraft equipped with high-resolution cameras, they are going to be flying over the area over the course of the next couple of days. Police say there are at least 10 victims. That is the latest number. They're asking anyone with any sort of information here, any tips, come forward.

By the way, CNN, we will be taking a closer look at this very story. Watch this special. It is airing Saturday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Also, Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, they are being held for questioning today. Mubarak is being questioned at a hospital because state TV reports he suffered -- quote, unquote -- "a nervous breakdown," other sources saying Mubarak had suffered a heart attack.

We're told his condition is stable. Meantime, his sons are at a prison in Cairo. Prosecutors are questioning all three about the killing of protesters during all those anti-government demonstrations some weeks ago. Mubarak is also under investigation for corruption allegations.

Big, big changes today at several U.S. airports. Here is the heads-up. Moments ago, the FAA announced it is placing additional air traffic controllers 27 different control towers all across the country all on midnight shifts. These towers are only staffed with one controller during that time.

Keep in mind, they are doing this because this is coming just after an incident just this morning at Reno's airport. Apparently, a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill patient was trying to land. The flight did land safely. And that controller has been suspended.

And changes could be on the way for those invasive airport pat- downs as well. We have some new video of a 6-year-old girl. She is getting a pat-down. Some people say, hey, it is the right thing to do. Others are none too thrilled when they saw the video. We will hear from the parents. We will share the video with you. You make up your mind.

Also, we're getting some new information Libya, where NATO has been criticized for not doing enough to help the rebels there. We will take you live to Libya coming up.


BALDWIN: Some people are calling this video we are about to call you outrageous and ludicrous, but TSA is saying that we are doing our job. You watch and you be the judge. All of the uproar is over this Internet video. You see the woman in the blue is the TSA agent who is patting down the six-year-old at New Orleans airport last week.

The little girl if you listen to the audio, you can hear her protesting and you can also hear the agent explaining that she is going through the pat-down process, mom is standing nearby. The TSA says that there was some sort of problem during the girl's body scan, and either way, people seem to be split over whether this is necessary.


MARJORIE ESMAN, ACLU: A child who is audibly complaining, "I don't want to do this" should at the very least have been given some privacy.

DERIONNE POLLARD, AIR TRAVELER: I think that we spend a lot more time getting ourselves inflamed over things that are not necessary. That took all of what, 20 seconds to get done. You know, suck it up. It is a part of travel right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given these times they do have to do that because some people do use their children in a way that is horrible.


BALDWIN: Well, here is what the TSA has to say as it reviewed the incident, it determined that the officer followed proper current screening procedures and says it is looking at additional ways to focus the resources to move behind a one-size-fits-all system to improve security.

But this video has angered the chairman of the oversight and government reform subcommittee on national security. Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz says he will be introducing legislation later this week that would require parental supervision of the pat- down of any child.

CNN's Sandra Endo is part of our "Fix My Flight" series.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Riding the rails or flying the skies -- this is not a race, but a test in satisfaction. We are taking a day trip from Washington D.C. to New York City. And the good thing about the northeast corridor is passengers can take the train or the plane to get there. And on this leg we are taking Amtrak.

The ticket to ride gets you on board, and you choose your seat. There's a cafe car if you are hungry, and free Wi-Fi if you need it and a quiet car for some peace.

ENDO (on camera): Why do you choose the train rather than a plane?

CYNTHIA O'CONNER, PREFERS TAKING THE TRAIN: The first year I moved to D.C. from New York City, I did the plane and I ended up on the tarmac for hours on end. I like the fact that the trains aren't late. They are dependable.

ENDO: While traveling by train takes longer, passengers say they don't want to pay more taxes to create high speed rail. Travelers say the benefits of riding versus flying are enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is cheaper, but a lot more convenient, because I can arrive at the station five minutes before the train leaves instead of an hour or hour and a half early.

ENDO: Many train riders say they like how comfortable the ride is and how big the seats and the space they get. There is more than three feet from the seat in front of them. And electronic devices are welcomed to stay on. You can walk around or not, but just remember your stop.

ENDO (on camera): All right, here is the final destination just under three hours later, and we are here in the big apple. I'm here at LaGuardia airport and we will go from New York back to the nation's capital. I want to fly on a Delta shuttle and here is the security line. And still, those shoes have to come off.

MARYANN O'BRIEN, PREFERS FLYING: It is really quick and really convenient. No complaints.

ENDO (voice-over): Unlike most flights, arrive early or late and changing your shuttle flight is free of charge, but frequent flyers say that there is some unpredictability.

BRIAN CHRISTIANSEN, PREFERS FLYING: Well, it is variable based on the weather, based on the traffic, and just about any other factor that can take anywhere from an hour to three hours.

ENDO (on camera): And what about if you have an important phone call?

CHRISTIANSEN: Well, that is one of the downsides.

Reporter: It's you me-time.

CHRISTIANSEN: Yes. ENDO: On flights there are overhead bins, smaller seats, but one perk on this flight, free beer. We are here an hour and 15 minutes after takeoff, so it may come down to distance and even if you have an option.


BALDWIN: Sandra Endo is racking up the miles. There she is at Washington station. And look, a lot of people enjoy the trains, and a lot of people enjoy the planes, but not every airport offers the option, and I love the excel express, but we can't all hop on it. What about the high-speed rail, what do passengers say about that if it is created?

ENDO: Well, Brooke, good question, because we are getting up on rush hour soon, and this train car will be packed with riders. And riding the rails is so popular that Amtrak says it is on par for another record-breaking year in ridership. Nearly 29 million people rode the rails last year alone and that is one of President Obama's initiatives. He wants to spend nearly $50 billion, Brooke, in investing in high-speed rail projects across the country.

But when you ask local state officials and taxpayers at certain states, they want to use that money for other initiatives. So clearly, it is a matter of priorities, but here in Washington, it seems to work out, and the best of both worlds really for a lot of the travelers trying to get places and get around the for the east corridor.

BALDWIN: I know you were lucky there in Washington, D.C., and Boston and New York and elsewhere. But beyond the free beer or the Wi-Fi or the me-time, and what are passengers is saying is the biggest difference or lure of flying versus hopping on a train?

ENDO: Well, Brooke, ever since we have done this story, we have gotten amazing feedback. It is like a war out there. People are diehard one way or another -- planes or trains all of the way. And people have a strong preference. You can talk to a lot of the riders here, and they like that there is no security and you can hop on board and they are not having to take off their shoes and getting the baggage checked by screeners. And on the plane, though, people say, hey, look, we get there faster, so it really depends on the comfort level what you like better.

ENDO: Sandra Endo, great piece. Thank you very much, live from Union station.

And staying in Washington and taking it to Capitol Hill and the budget battle we will go to that in a moment where Republicans are ready to respond to the president's speech a short time ago.

First, A J. Crew ad, is a mom painting her son's toenails a bright pink color. Is she asking for her son to be confused and maybe later bullied in the schoolyard? Hold that thought. That is trending. Be right back.


BALDWIN: OK. Two words, pink polish. That is what has a lot of you talking today and why it is our trending story for this hour, in fact, specifically, pink toenail polish. All of this hoopla is over this J. Crew clothing ad, and take a look, not anything too ordinary, but you are zooming in and you see the boy's toenails are a shade of pink.

This shows this woman, his mother, painting the pink toenail polish on his boy. The accompanying caption reads "Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

So the ad there from J. Crew was e-mailed to customers last week and has ruffled a lot of feathers and people say, look, this is harmless mother/son toenail painting, but others claim it is gender bending and crossing the line. The conservative group Media Research Center went so far to claim to ad was, quote, "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children," end quote.

The mother featured in this ad is actually J. Crew's creative director Jenna Lyons with her son Beckett, and the company is not offering comment on the line. We called them and they called a non- story. So with that we move on.

Have you seen this? This is new video of Libya. That is NATO blowing up a Libyan government tank, and it is not the only one destroyed in the last two days. So is it helping rebels take control of a key city there? We will take you there live next.

Also, Republicans are getting ready to respond to President Obama's speech on Capitol Hill. I will speak live to Senator John Barrasso, Republican, Wyoming who has choice words for the president. Stay right there.


BALDWIN: Now, I want to talk about Libya where the rebellion is increasingly becoming the battle for the one key city. You have heard about the city before, Misrata, and the situation there is nothing short of desperate. And there have a growing call for NATO to in fact do more there.

I want to bring in Reza Sayah, and talk about the stronghold of Benghazi, and Reza, how close to Misrata and what about the NATO air strikes after this criticism?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, a couple of days ago British and French officials to do more, and it seems they have been doing more in the last couple of days in terms of the air strikes. The airstrikes are in Misrata and despite that, we are continuing to hear about a dire situation there, and opposition officials saying more fighting and more Gadhafi forces turning their tanks towards civilian targets and an official told us that several more people were killed today, although he didn't have a specific number. Yesterday, a doctor told CNN ten people killed, 20 people injured in more fierce fighting there.

It is not clear what the NATO air strikes hit today in and around Misrata, but last week NATO did talk about the challenges they faced in Misrata as they came out to say that Gadhafi forces are using human shields to place their weapon next to homes and places of worship, and you can see the challenge that NATO is facing, because it is tough to hit these targets with warplanes.

Another thing to keep your eyes on the opposition is saying that fishing trawlers filled with medical equipment and doctors left Benghazi and left to the port, which is the only lifeline for the injured people there, and now the fishing trawlers could be facing Gadhafi forces at sea.

An opposition official telling CNN that the Gadhafi forces are using their own trawlers to head to the ports, and these trawlers are equipped with rocket launchers in an apparent mission to harass and impede these boats by the opposition looking to go there to help. We haven't independently verified this, Brooke, but if it is indeed true, more trouble for Misrata.

BALDWIN: Well, we saw firsthand how horrendous the hospital situation is thanks to Fred Pleitgen and his group getting inside there, and they need that mission, clearly, that boat. Let me ask you about the summit in Qatar near Libya, and it is about the Moussa Koussa who shows up to meet Moussa Koussa shows up. Do you even know if they've met yet?

SAYAH: No. We've just left the news conference by an opposition leader and he said there was no meeting between Moussa Koussa and opposition officials. He apparently went there with the plan to meet with the opposition, but the opposition told us, look, he doesn't represent a government. He is part of Gadhafi's inner circle.

But opposition officials suggested don't rule out a meeting between the opposition and Moussa Koussa. If he comes to us with a written statement about what he can offer, maybe, then maybe we will meet with him.

BALDWIN: If it was the opposition saying, we don't want to meet with you, is it Moussa Koussa that orchestrated the would have been meeting?

SAYAH: I'm sorry. I didn't hear your question.

BALDWIN: I'm curious, if the opposition doesn't meet with the foreign minister, was it Moussa Koussa who orchestrated the meeting to begin with, or was it a third party?

SAYAH: No. There was no meeting between Moussa Koussa. This was Arab and western leaders meeting with opposition officials to see where this is all headed, the opposition looking to ask for more funding for their efforts, for weapons. Moussa Koussa was a solo effort on this part and he was rejected.

BALDWIN: Thank you for the clarification. Reza, my thanks to you.

Next, the horrifying moments when a tsunami hit. We have this disturbing new video. It shows the impact of the waves in Japan and you can see the people running for their lives. That's coming up.

Also, I'm going to talk le with a local fire chief from this town where a mother and her three kids were found dead in a river. Find out what happened moments before that horrific discovery.

But up next, Republicans are gearing up, getting ready to respond to the president's speech today on the deficit, waiting for them to arrive on Capitol Hill. Chat with Wolf Blitzer, help us break it down, get his impressions of the president's speech, coming up.


BALDWIN: There is something new, disturbing, it's hard to watch. This is tsunami video that's been uploaded to YouTube. It's how powerful the tsunami was in Japan. Take a look.


BALDWIN: Look at those people running for their lives, yet another perspective of this horrific day. The comment left by the poster of this video, "This is a very shocking video. Please be aware, it will upset you. I personally lost my house and my cat to the tsunami. By watching this, you will not understand the feelings of the victims, but I wanted someone to understand what has happened so I wanted to show it to the public." Look at that person running away, two people there.

The earthquake and tsunami are responsible for more than 13,000 deaths. Keep in mind more than 15,000 people in Japan are still missing.

And now for our "CNN Equals Politics" update. Let's go to Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Wolf, what did you think of the president's speech? Was this his opening position for bargaining?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Yes. This was definitely the opening bargaining position. It's going to be a protracted negotiation over the coming weeks and months. They are going to get some sort of deal going and to raise the debt ceiling. That's going to come up because the consequences of not doing that could be enormous.

The president laid out where he wants to go and he wants a combination of spending cuts, $4 trillion total spending plus tax increases eliminating the tax cuts that were given to the wealthiest Americans during the Bush administration. He says he wants those to go back to the rates that existed during the Clinton administration.

In other words, the 39 percent highest income tax rate for those families making more than $250,000 a year, going back up to 39 percent, which is what it was during the Clinton administration from the 35 percent, 36 percent right now. So he wants a combination of some spending cuts and tax increases.

The Republicans, as you know, Brooke, say no new taxes. No tax increases. They have got their own plan. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the house budget committee came out with his plan last week. So there's some serious differences there. So we're going to see where these negotiations go.

I suspect these recommendations coming from the Senate side, three Senate Democrats, three Senate Republicans, the so-called gang of six, they are going to come up in the coming days with their own proposals. They could be significant because it's not just the Democratic vision as the president has or a Republican vision which Paul Ryan has. This is a by partisan vision which is similar to Erskine Bowles-Alan Simpson presidential review panel that came out with in December. Both sides may be able to compromise on it.

One other interesting political note that I saw, Eric Cantor, the number two Republicans in the House of Representatives, he was on CNN's "American Morning" earlier today, he took a little hit over at one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump. He didn't think Trump was really serious about the 2012 presidential campaign. He said Trump is not necessarily the best candidate for the Republicans. "I don't think he is really serious when we launch a campaign launched on the birther issue," when he did that. So Eric Cantor taking a swipe at Donald Trump.

If I know Donald Trump, and I do know Donald Trump, I've interviewed him on many occasions over the years, if he hasn't, he will, momentarily probably, swipe right back at Eric Cantor, because when Donald Trump he gets a hit, he hits right back. I suspect it's going to happen pretty soon.

BALDWIN: And that's what makes politics sort of fun, isn't it?

BLITZER: Did you look at the video yet of you know who?

BALDWIN: I know you know who and I have not. I am on it.

BLITZER: Let me know what you think when she danced to Cee Lo Green.

BALDWIN: I will. Thank you.

We'll get another political update in half an hour.