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Interview with Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy; Interview with Stephen Barton; Interview with Carolyn McCarthy

Aired December 16, 2012 - 12:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Good afternoon for this special edition of State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley also in Newtown, Connecticut. Just moments ago Connecticut police wrapped up a news conference. They said there has been misinformation about the shooting investigation on social media website, including claims of quotes from the gunman.

This morning, Connecticut's Governor told CNN the gunman got into the school literally by using his assault weapon to shoot his own entrance into the building. Connecticut's medical examiner says the semiautomatic rifle found at the scene Friday was the primary weapon in the massacre.

President Obama will be here in Newtown in a few hours to thank first responders and meet with the victims' families. He also will speak at an interfaith memorial vigil at 7:00 pm Eastern.

Joining me now, two Connecticut lawmakers Senator Richard Blumenthal and congressman and senator-elect Chris Murphy whose congressional district includes Newtown.

So let me start just with the past couple days for you all. I know you have talked to some of these families who understandably don't want to be out in public except for when they choose to. We did see one father go out.

Can you tell us as silly as this may seem how are they doing, how are they holding up? What's sustaining them at this point?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: I don't think that one word or one sentence or one description will fit all of them. They are as diverse probably as they are human beings. But I can tell you this community has demonstrated its strength and resilience and resolve in coming together. We were just at a church service this morning, which was so moving in its statement of grief but also coming together and bonding and staying strong.

I don't think I will ever forget the cries of grief and pain that I saw at the firehouse on that day and as a parent, as a person just the unspeakable sadness that pervades this town still and will go on for quite some time.

CROWLEY: Congressman you said that you're -- and soon to be senator elect -- we said this is part of your district and people have asked me to describe it. I said if you ever had a train set that ran around your Christmas tree, the village inside it would be Newtown. It just is that kind of a village.

So you must know people here who must be deeply affected, the most directly affected and what are you taking from them and what do they need?

REP. CHRIS MURPHY, D-CONN.: You know, this is the quintessential idyllic New England community -- small town, prides itself on its closeness. There's a Labor Day parade here that happens that the whole state comes to, the biggest in the area, every community group and every school has a float in it. And the closeness of this town makes this grieving even worse, because everyone knows one of the young little boys or girls that was killed or one of the adults.

But I frankly think it will be one of the things that actually lets this community heal, because there's a closeness, because everyone is so tight knit I think that you're seeing these acts of humanity just sort of pouring and spilling over in the last few days, that's going to continue here after the lights leave. And the closeness of the community hurts so much, but I think it's also going to help us heal.

CROWLEY: It does, to have people who understand what you're going through because they're kind of going through the same thing even if they're not directly involved the parents of the children or relatives of the adults who died.

I just want to tell our listeners, we're looking at some live pictures now of what's going on around Newtown and, of course, there will be the vigil tonight with the president. When you look at this from the point of view of the congressman that represents the district or the senator who represents the state, do you feel a sense of helplessness like what can I do? Because in effect, the one thing that would help, you can't do?

BLUMENTHAL: The sense of helplessness is very real, but at the same time, I'm hearing from people here in Newtown, particularly people in law enforcement, you know, I come to this issue and this place with a career in law enforcement 30 years as a federal prosecutor, United States attorney, as well as state attorney general for 20 years and my colleagues in law enforcement say to me you have to do something about assault weapons, high capacity magazines, both very instrumental in this crime. And so there is a sense of helplessness but also a sense of mission that citizens on the streets, in the churches, are saying to me, we need to do something. It is a call to action.

CROWLEY: And do you feel that same call to action? Because we've had a lot of these. I mean there was a young girl that died in Tucson in the Gabby Giffords shooting, there were a lot of people that died, but there was a 9-year-old I think that died in that. We had a baby that was killed in the Aurora theater. And this is sort of horrific beyond imagination because there's so many young people. But we've heard this before. And there is -- you know, there are already people saying wait a minute, can we just not do anything just as a knee-jerk reaction, we need to think this through.

MURPHY: I mean, the tipping point on these issues whether it's taking on assault weapons or providing more comprehensive mental health or addressing the sort of culture of violence that prompts somebody to do something like this, frankly the tipping point should have happened a long time ago. But if this is the tipping point, then we're going to go down to Washington and prompt a conversation that's long overdue.

You know, a young man grabbed us in his church we were in sobbing saying, don't let this happen again. And I think our job here is to not set expectations too high, right. This is complicated. And so we can't solve it with legislation. But there are certainly going to be lessons learned.

CROWLEY: And isn't that in the end sort of the balance you have to take, in that a person without a history, a criminal record or mental health record of any sort, that would suggest some kind of violent tendencies, can get guns. Some of the strictest gun laws in the country are here in Connecticut and these guns so far we know were purchased legally.

There is a limit to what anybody can do to stop this sort of thing?

BLUMENTHAL: We are never going to be able to take guns out of the hands of every deranged person, but we can do something. And I think there is renewed focus on this issue. I think that this incident, horrific and horrible as it is, almost unspeakable in its inhumanity and cruelty, will spur and transform the national discussion about it and perhaps lead to more action and at the very least perhaps doing something about the high capacity magazines.

CROWLEY: And for our viewers those are the things you can attach to an adult weapon and they just fire off 100 rounds in just a minuscule amount of time. They just do enormous damage. A lot of them jam, as we saw in Aurora, did not happen this time, that's what he used apparently was this high-capacity magazine.

So one of the things you all think could be done is a ban or a limitation of some sort on these high-capacity magazines.

What about an assault weapons ban?

MURPHY: Listen, I think it's clear that nobody needs to have ammunition that dispenses 30 rounds in a number of seconds. But it's also clear that nobody that has deep-seated mental health issues should be in a waiting line to get services.

And so I think for us, you know, right now our focus is on the victims and helping people grieve here. We don't even have the full police reports to understand exactly what happened inside but once we do, I think there are going to be -- I hope some pretty easy policy lessons that can finally, finally start to bring us together.

CROWLEY: And what about just briefly in the minute or so we have left, what about school security? In Connecticut, is a relook under way? Because in the end, a doorbell or a pass, yes, will -- somebody -- I mean that's just not going to work, clearly.

And so what is the answer? Is the answer to have policemen at the doors of elementary schools? Is that going too far? But would anything go too far if it would have stopped this?

BLUMENTHAL: I think there will be a time, at least for us, sitting in Newtown in the midst of this grief and sadness, to be more specific about what we can do, what we should do as a nation. My colleagues are calling from all over the country literally to not only wish us well, but say we need to do something.

And I think all of those specifics will await a time when maybe we can give it the sensible, thoughtful, hopefully effective attention it deserves.

CROWLEY: And just as a final question, do you hear that from people who formally thought we don't need more laws, we need to enforce the ones we have? Has there been a change of thought?

MURPHY: Yes, I think it's way too early. I mean, right here, to be honest, you know, there are people who are coming up to us and saying make sure this doesn't happen again, but that's rare. Most people right now are just simply trying to deal with the tragedy.

And so, you know, the families here I think want us to make sure that they have everything they need. The community has everything we need. And we'll figure out where this community wants us to go from a policy standpoint in the coming days.

CROWLEY: Senator-elect Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you both for being here. Not a part of public service that is anything you look forward to. Thanks for being here.

When we return, a survivor of the Aurora shooting on guns and grieving.




CROWLEY (voice-over): Those are live pictures from Newtown, Connecticut, in fact, this scene, the people have changed, but the scene has not. Getting into this town, getting to the site of where so many vigils have been held -- and it's a small town -- the traffic into Newtown has been amazing. There are more people here than are in the town; clearly they are coming from so many places to try to kind of find a central point where they literally can come to say I'm sorry, come to say I feel this disaster, that it was to the people in the town.

So it's a kind of scene you see everywhere and have seen continually, morning and early this morning when we drove in late last night and early this morning, cars backed up just trying to get into this town.


CROWLEY: So that is the scene now as we await, of course, this evening, the president will be here and you will see even larger crowds.

Right now, I want to introduce you to someone, Stephen Barton. He just wanted to see the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie. What happened that night was worse than any horror on the screen.


STEPHEN BARTON, AURORA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: This past summer in a movie theater in Colorado, I was shot, Shot in the face and neck. But I was lucky. In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won't be so lucky. Because they'll be murdered with guns in the next president's term, enough to fill over 200 theaters.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Stephen Barton, as you may have figured out, is now working for an anti-gun group, it's the Group of Mayors against Illegal Guns. He joins me now.

Stephen, nice to see you again.



CROWLEY: We met earlier this year, I think, when you were in at CNN in Washington.

I -- we've been talking about gun control, but I want to talk to you as someone who's been through this experience and we should tell our viewers that you live 10 minutes from here.

BARTON: That's right.

CROWLEY: So not only were you at the Aurora theater, hitchhiking across the country, as recall --

BARTON: Bicycling, yes.

CROWLEY: Bicycling across the country in aurora, but you live 10 minutes from here.


CROWLEY: So you must have had some real flashbacks.

BARTON: Oh, absolutely. And be even now I'm discovering personal connections to the elementary school, just people I know who either were working there, or who knew people who have been killed, and it's -- I never would have thought in a thousand years that this community, this small community, right down the road from where I grew up, would be affected by gun violence in this way. CROWLEY: Tell me what's helped you?

BARTON: Honestly my family and my friends. You know, I had a strong support system, continue to have a strong support system surrounding me. And they're really there to take care of me when things like this happen, frankly.

CROWLEY: And this was only in July, so it's not as though we're talking years ago.


CROWLEY: What do you -- do you still work on? What do you still struggle with? And I ask because your experience, obviously, you know, (inaudible) people who might not have been -- you know, the families of the killed, you survived.

BARTON: Yes. CROWLEY: Obviously and so that, obviously, your parents know that you are here, but there are now parents and sisters and brothers and, you know, all of that struggling with this. So it might be helpful if we knew, like, what do you struggle with now and how do you deal with that?

BARTON: I just struggle to sometimes, you know, just feel safe publicly. You know, and at the movies or now I guess at school, I don't know. It's a slow process of healing that you have to go through and it's continuous and, at least for me personally; it's going to last for a long time.

CROWLEY: And so how old are you?

BARTON: I'm 22 -- 23, just turned 23.


CROWLEY: Twenty-two, and it's movie theaters, schools, seem like scary places?

BARTON: In some sense sometimes, yes. I'm slowly coming to terms with that and working on that, but for a long time, I just didn't want to be near a movie theater.

CROWLEY: And so your work, I know you do the work with the mayor's group that wants to ban guns and work for some more gun control.


CROWLEY: Do you sense that the time is now and didn't you sense that maybe after Aurora as well?

BARTON: I certainly hope so after Aurora, that the time is right for this conversation. But I mean now --

CROWLEY: But it didn't happen then. I'm wondering if you think -- BARTON: Well, I -- given the president's remarks, he's talked about this before after Aurora, after Tucson, that we needed a meaningful conversation, but I think his emotions really revealed the extent to which this has affected him personally.

And right now, we need more than anything else, presidential leadership on this issue. So I can't believe that 20 children will have been killed in vain and that no conversation will come out of this. It's just too horrifying, too shocking to not provoke some discussion.

CROWLEY: Stephen Barton, thank you for coming by.

BARTON: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Appreciate seeing you again. Up next, false reports about the Newtown shooting cropping up on social media websites.




CROWLEY: As we have reported at the top of the hour, Connecticut state police say there has been misinformation about the shooting investigation on social media websites, including claims of quotes from the gunman.


LT. J. PAUL VANCE, CONN. STATE POLICE: One thing that's becoming somewhat of a concern and that is misinformation being posted on social media sites. There has been misinformation coming from people posing as the shooter in this case, posing using other IDs, mimicking this crime and crime scene, and criminal activity that took place in this community.


CROWLEY: I want to bring in Howard Kurtz; he is host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." I mean, you know, Howie, it's a brave new world out there and I'm not sure how you control this part of it. This is social media; you can go anywhere, anonymously. You can cover your fingerprints, as it were.

What is the best way, do you think, to go about stopping this sort of thing or is there no way?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Well, you can't stop it because social media, it can be a force for good or evil. it's a rough neighborhood out there at times.

I was stunned, Candy, to hear the lieutenant say that people were impersonating the shooter on Facebook. I mean, in this horrible situation that has just torn at the heartstrings of the country, it just seems to me unspeakably cruel to do this kind of thing.

And yet, although the state police official said that somebody -- that people may be prosecuted for this, did a little quick research and it's not so clear. You can be prosecuted for cyber-stalking, defamation, making threats online, harassing people online or causing someone reasonable distress. I'm not sure what the motive here would be or how you would frame any kind of indictment.

CROWLEY: The thing is, there's a lot of unspeakable cruelty that goes on on the Web. I mean, we have cyber-bullying, people saying nasty things about, you know, all kinds of circumstances that would require, I think, a more humane approach to it.

And in the end is this one of those things that you think I see we could go with, you know, it's like, I don't know, crying fire in a crowded theater, that there's some way the law could go with this?

KURTZ: Right. I suppose in egregious cases, law enforcement -- law enforcement could find ways to prosecute people for using false identities. Although, lots of people, for example, have Twitter screen names that are not real.

There's a challenge here for consumers of this stuff and there's also a challenge for journalists who live on Twitter these days, who consult Facebook, not to repeat this information either online or on the air, without double-checking it because you can get in a lot of trouble taking it as on faith.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And I imagine at some level this also interferes with the investigation if they're chasing down rabbit holes.

So, listen, Howie Kurtz, thank you so much, "RELIABLE SOURCES," we will see you again soon.

KURTZ: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: We want to go now to our Dana Bash in Washington. She has a check of today's headlines.


BASH: Thanks, Candy.

Well, a Democratic source tells CNN that the White House believes that John Boehner, the Speaker John Boehner's first-ever offer to increase tax rates on the wealthiest Americans is, quote, "insufficient," but the White House does think it represents progress. On Friday Boehner offered to raise tax rates starting with incomes of $1 million.

CNN is also told that, in return, Boehner asked for significant spending cuts and some specifics, like raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BASH (voice-over): The State Department is expected to receive a highly anticipated report tomorrow from an independent adviser review board which has been investigating what went wrong in September's deadly attack in Benghazi.

Congress will receive the report at a closed hearing on Wednesday.


BASH: The State Department is also expected to present recommendations on improving security at U.S. embassies.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not testify at this week's congressional hearings about that Benghazi report as originally planned.

BASH: That's because she is recovering from a concussion. Clinton sustained the injury after she fainted during a bout with a stomach flu. She's being monitored by doctors who recommended that she take the week off.

President Obama appears ready to nominate Senator John Kerry as Hillary Clinton's successor. A Democrat who spoke with CNN tells us that Kerry announcement could come as early as this week. Kerry is currently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Many of his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for him and he's likely to easily win confirmation as secretary of state.

Those are your headlines. Now back to Candy Crowley in Newtown. Candy?

CROWLEY: Thanks, Dana.

Coming up, 20 years ago, she learned firsthand about gun violence.


REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY, D-N.Y.: I came into Congress because a tragedy had happened to my family and to others on the Long Island Railroad. And when my son was learning how to talk again, you know, he asked me how this could happen. I didn't have an answer. And that's when I started to look into the gun violence in this country.


CROWLEY: Now, New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is determined to make sure the president stands behind his call for meaningful change on gun control.


CROWLEY: Since the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007, there have been 19 of what the FBI classifies as mass shootings in the United States. What there hasn't been is what President Obama is now calling for, meaningful change in the gun laws.

Joining me now is New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.

Congresswoman McCarthy, thank you so much. I must say when I listened to the president -- on Friday, I believe it was -- I didn't hear him talk about new laws. I heard him talk about meaningful change. Do you think, have you talked to the president, and do you think he will now push what you're wanting to do, vis-a-vis gun laws?

MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, I know that the president could be talking from the bully pulpit. Certainly we can hopefully work together on passing some legislation that has certainly been introduced every year.

But what the president can do is an executive order to tighten up some of the laws that are still already out there. "The New York Times" released a report yesterday and this morning that basically was talking about a bill that was passed in 2008, right after Virginia Tech, that was a bill that I got passed through the House, through the Senate, and President Bush signed that.

But the problem with that is that there has never been enough money there to have all the courts -- anybody that's been adjudicated through the courts, whether for any crime that would already basically not allow someone to own a gun, to be put into the NIX system, the instant background check system.

So that's something he can do. The heavy lifting is going to have to come from Congress and it will, but if he is willing to use the bully pulpit, he can actually help us.

President Clinton did that. It was a tough struggle, but he got it through. And for some reason -- and I personally feel because it was so many children involved, the attitudes of the American people are little bit different than they were before Friday.

CROWLEY: So, and by it, I believe you mean the -- an assault weapons ban, is that what you're talking about, that the president would get behind that, which expired probably more than 10 years ago?

MCCARTHY: Yes. That expired in the year 2004. I know Senator Feinstein has been working on a new assault weapons bill. She's been working on it for a while.


MCCARTHY: With the intention of most likely introducing it over the first of the year when we go into a new session. And we're going to be working with her on that.

But the 208 bill that was passed, is the NIX Improvement Act. And basically what that does is go to the courts because we found when people that were adjudicated to be mentally ill, and that happened with the Virginia Tech shooting, that the records never went into the instant background check. But it would cover anyone -- domestic violence, felonies; he could do something big on that right away. And then like I said, we would have to work together.

CROWLEY: Right. And as -- in fact, Senator Feinstein said this morning she would introduce an assault weapons ban bill and, in fact, try to cut down on some of the large capacity magazines that can shoot 30, 40, 100 rounds of ammunition in 30 seconds or something, but let me -- let me go back, because you're right; the Virginia Tech shooter did, in fact, have a mental health history that, had he been be in the records, it might have halted him from getting the guns.

But there have been other cases -- in Tucson, for instance -- and so far as we know, at least, in this case, there's no mental health background. So in the end, that might help, but it might not have prevented this. And it might not have prevented what went on in Tucson.

And with that in mind, I wanted to play you something that the former Education Secretary, Bill Bennett, said this morning, talking about security around schools.


BILL BENNETT, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing.

The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. Has to be someone who's trained, has to be someone who's responsible, but, my God, if you can prevent this kind of thing.


CROWLEY: So, Congresswoman, what about that, because that's the push from the other side, that they were just completely defenseless inside this school.

What would you think about something like that that Bill Bennett is talking about?

MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, going back again after the Virginia Tech legislation was put into Leave No Child Behind which basically I authored, and that was to prepare the schools -- and by the way the school at Connecticut did everything right and they did. They had the lockdown.

But people have to understand we cannot save every life. There's no law that could do that. And as far as having more guns, we have more guns in this country than any other civilized nation.

It has to be looked at holistically. We have to look at mental health, we have to look at those signs that led up to the other shootings. And now we're seeing that people talking about this particular shooter also had signs. So I mean it's a combination of things that we can do on the social level. We can ask people, and certainly children have been trained, especially high school kids, you know, if you see a classmate that is acting strange or teachers seeing someone that might be anti- social, to make sure that that young person gets some help.

We don't have the answer for every single situation. That should not prevent us for the bigger picture, when you look at an awful lot of these killers that were mentally ill, the signs were there, but unfortunately nobody picked up for them.

CROWLEY: (Inaudible).




CROWLEY (voice-over): You are looking at some live pictures of downtown, if there is such a thing in a town as small as this, Newtown, Connecticut. Balloons, teddy bears, notes that would break your heart. Flowers, anything you can imagine that people could bring, mixed in with Christmas decorations.

There is this dissonance here with this season of joy and these horrific mass killings of 20 children, six adults, inside that school. So it makes the mix, it's just heartbreaking. This has gone on since the day, really, of those killings. To get into Newtown at this point, is quite a feat.

We have had some guests coming to this special edition of STATE OF THE UNION who got out and walked because of the traffic coming into this town, people just wanting to do anything, bring something to say to the people of this flattened town, we care, we know you're suffering.

Of course tonight the president is going to be here and kind of speak for the nation of the grief that so many people feel that are not directly connected to this tragedy.

And the investigation, it goes on, as far as we know and as far as we were told just an hour ago; in fact, they are still in the school, they are still at various sites in this investigation. I spoke with Connecticut's governor earlier this morning.


CROWLEY: Governor, thank you for joining us here. Let me just first ask you about the state of the investigation. What do we now know and where are we in the investigation?

MALLOY: Well, you know, first and foremost, that's a -- state police is handling that investigation. I think we know everything that is most important. We know that there was a single shooter and that shooter is dead. We know that he was a troubled individual and that he went to the school with a number of weapons, which he used on his victims and ultimately used on himself.

You know, some of this other stuff will play out over a period of time. I'm sure we'll come to know more about him, his problems and his family. You know, but these things move on. This investigation will tell us those things, but, you know, I don't have a whole lot more than that. CROWLEY: So tell me, let me go back to a couple things you just said. The first is the weaponry. So far as you know, were these weapons legally obtained by the mother, which we're led to believe they were her weapons?

MALLOY: Well, the mother purchased them. They have the patina of legal purchases. There's always a question was she purchasing them for herself, which in that case -- in which case that was legal. If she was purchasing them for another individual, her son, then there's a question about that purchase.


CROWLEY: Do we know anything that indicates that?

MALLOY: The other thing is this assault weapon. Connecticut has a pretty aggressive law -- probably of the 50 states, I think we're ranked fourth most aggressive in trying to limit access to these kinds of weapons.

But what happens in the absence of a Brady bill, in the absence of federal legislation, people use descriptive terms to try to get around the limitations that are built into our statutes here in Connecticut or might otherwise not happen if we had federal legislation on this issue.

These are assault weapons. You don't -- you don't hunt deer with these things. And I think that's the question that a lot of people are going to have to resolve in their own minds. Where should this line -- where should this line get drawn?

CROWLEY: So as I understand what you're saying, there was a semi-assault weapon here but not necessarily one that's banned by Connecticut, which does have a state law banning certain kinds of assault weapons?

MALLOY: Well, but that then begs the question, was this a weapon that should have been banned and because of how the manufacturer decided to describe it got around that law?

CROWLEY: So let me go back to a couple things that you said. The first is, is there anything that leads you to believe she might have purchased them for her son, or is that just here are the possibilities?

MALLOY: Here are the possibilities. They're living together. They're in the home. And he ends up with the guns, so there may be any number of explanations.

CROWLEY: They're looking into that. The other issue described him as troubled, which clearly we know from what he did. But is there other evidence as they've gone in about -- troubled how?

MALLOY: You know, clearly, he was troubled. And you have to be deranged to carry out this kind of crime. You know, I'm not in a position that I should be talking about someone else's family. That information will come out in due course, but this was -- this was clearly a troubled person.

CROWLEY: Is there evidence that he was mentally disabled in some way?

MALLOY: Well, there's evidence that he was mentally disabled by the acts that he committed. One doesn't shoot their mother --

CROWLEY: Sure. But nothing behind that that you're finding in the investigation thus far?

MALLOY: There are -- as has been attested to already by family members and others in the newspapers, this was a troubled individual.

CROWLEY: OK. And as far as the guns are concerned, do they come out of the home? Is that where they -- were they secured in the home?

MALLOY: Yes, that's our belief.

CROWLEY: OK. So let me move you on to your role now. There always comes this point where the investigation is ongoing. This incredible grief these families must be and are suffering is going on. What do you do now?

MALLOY: You know, Candy, I was with the vast majority of the families Friday morning, and ultimately I had to break it to all of the folks who were assembled at the firehouse that their children or their loved one, in the case of the adults, were not coming home. And that's an exercise that I will live with for the rest of my life. It's not something you're prepared for, and you go on.


MALLOY: But, you know, listen, I'm the governor of the state of Connecticut. We have a job to do. We have to protect people. We have to help people recover. We have to move on and get children back to school as quickly as possible in the broader system and hopefully these children at this school back to school -- a school as quickly as possible.

CROWLEY: OK. To make sure I understood you correctly, you're the one that initially had to tell the families gathered in that room what many of them feared or since some of them might have already known at a very gut level, you were the one that finalized for them?


CROWLEY: Tell me about that moment.

MALLOY: It's a very difficult thing to do. You know, these parents had been gathered for a number of hours clinging to hope. News reports were swirling around them outside the building. And someone had to decide how to handle that situation.

And ultimately it fell upon me to do that. And you know, you can never be prepared for that. To tell 18 or 20 folks or actually families that their loved one would not be returning to them, that day or in the future, is a tough assignment.

CROWLEY: Governor, I want to thank you for your time this morning.

MALLOY: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Up next, reaching out from the Oval Office to help a nation mourn.



CROWLEY: This evening the president will be in Newtown to meet privately with families of the victims and to speak at a public interfaith vigil. The need for a president to put words to a collective grief is a familiar part of the rhythm of tragedies that tear open the soul of this nation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Challenger now heading downrange.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us for the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it.

In the face of death, let us honor life.

You got to help us here. Take care of yourselves and your families first. Take care of the school next. But remember you can help America heal and in so doing you will speed the process of healing for yourselves.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat, but they have failed. Our country is strong.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who died here, those who saved lives here, they helped me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that's entirely up to us.


OBAMA: And I believe that, for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.