Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
2016 Hopefuls in the Spotlight; The U.S. Will Help Syria's Rebels; Could Leaker Defect To China?
Aired June 14, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSICA YELLIN, HOST: And happening now, he has been slammed by Republicans for praising President Obama. Now, Chris Christie skips a conservative gathering to take the stage with another top Democrat, Bill Clinton. We'll go there live.
One moment they were cheering the Miami Heat at a waterside bar. The next moment, this loaded dock collapsed, throwing 100 people into the water. Now we have new video of the terror and the chaos.
And the White House says it will provide military support to Syria's rebels. I've just learned some new details about that aid.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Jessica Yellin.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The biggest names expected to run in 2016 are in the spotlight tonight, all for a very different reasons.
Hillary Clinton tells us where she's headed and what she's doing. She's ending her break to return to the domestic issue that first defined her career, early childhood education.
Jeb Bush sticks his foot in it on immigration.
Marco Rubio tilts to the right, potentially at the cost of his center.
And right now, Chris Christie prepares to show up with Bill Clinton. That's the second big Democrat he's cozied up to in a month. And, by the way, he's passing up a big conservative gathering to do it.
Let's get more now from CNN's Erin McPike, who's at the gathering with Bill Clinton and Chris Christie in Chicago right now -- and, Erin, are they due to take the stage?
I think it's supposed to happen any minute.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, that's right. Any minute now, we're watching to see when that's going to happen.
But what we really would love to see, of course, is Chris Christie on the stage with Hillary Clinton. Can't say whether that's going to be happening. We know Hillary Clinton has been backstage with Chelsea Clinton all day. But it should be interesting, because they'll be talking about leadership and collaboration. So Chris Christie talking about collaborating with another Democrat. And that's Bill Clinton. And, of course, he could be facing off against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
So it should be a very interesting picture on the stage in just a few minutes -- Jessica.
YELLIN: All right. Well, this is an all star gathering happening there in Chicago. We've got an all star gathering of our own right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
You like my segue?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
YELLIN: We're bringing in people who need no introduction, CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, and chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
We always say that and then do the introduction anyway.
All right, so Chris Christie and President -- former President Bill Clinton, opposite sides of the political spectrum, very similar political personalities. But, John, you know, Chris Christie took all this flack for hanging out with President Obama, hugging a Democrat.
Why do think he's now showing up on stage with Bill Clinton?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're reading this backwards. He's moving toward the conservatives. Bill Clinton is a more moderate Democrat, right?
So he's starting to slowly make his way back to the conservatives.
Look, Chris Christie does things as he wants to do them. Chris Christie doesn't mind that the conservative base yells at him and criticizes him. If he's going to have to -- if he runs for president, he's going to have to go to the Faith and Freedom Forum and goes to those events like he skipped today.
However, people want to forget about this. Yes, he's ahead by 30 or 40, or 80 points, but he's on the ballot this year in a very blue state of New Jersey. It helps him back home to be with Bill Clinton.
YELLIN: But, Candy, he's going to win New Jersey.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, you run the election that's right in front of you.
KING: Right. Yes.
CROWLEY: You know, it's like you service the show here...
CROWLEY: -- that's right ahead of you and you worry about the next one. He's running for election as New Jersey governor. He wants to run up the score.
YELLIN: But he's going to win in New Jersey. We know that.
CROWLEY: Well, yes, but he wants to run up the score. And, you know, he wants a big victory. So -- and we know that. And the fact is, you know, John, as we all know, that when it gets to the primary, we are going to have a discussion.
Will they go for the candidate who's the most conservative or the one who can win and pull over those Independent votes?
YELLIN: So he's wooing the center, basically?
YELLIN: All right. Let's play this sound bite from today. Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, did go to that Faith and Freedom Coalition today that Chris Christie blew off. Let's listen to how he stuck his foot in it.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Immigrants create far more businesses than native born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile and they love families. And they're more in -- they have more intact families. And they bring a younger population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: OK. That was hugely indelicate, immigrants are more fertile?
Not well phrased. But, Candy, actually, on the policy substance, he had a meaningful point to make.
CROWLEY: Yes. His point was whites now have a negative, but non- Hispanic whites in the U.S. now have a negative birthrate. That is, more whites -- non-Hispanic whites -- are dying than are being birthed. Now, someone has to fuel an economy here. You have to have people to fuel the economy. And what he was -- the point he was making was we need immigration because the economy has to move. And he pointed out who was starting businesses, who was having babies
YELLIN: -- more Hispanics.
YELLIN: -- Hispanics are giving birth at a higher rate. CROWLEY: Well, but the Asian population is also growing even at a faster rate than the Hispanic community. So his point just was that we need -- that the future of this economy lies with immigration, those who are here already.
YELLIN: And, John, is he ready to run in the Twitter age?
YELLIN: I mean you can't say things like that...
KING: Well -- YELLIN: -- and survive as a candidate.
KING: -- just like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush is Jeb Bush. I just had an e-mail exchange with the governor, the former governor. I asked him. I said, you know, a lot of people are taking shots at you. And here's what he said. "So, John, is it not true that immigrants have higher fertility rates? Hope you have a great weekend."
YELLIN: But that's not what he said. He should have said then higher fertility rates. He said immigrants are more fertile...
KING: Are more fertile.
YELLIN: It's a crucial misstatement...
CROWLEY: Except for...
CROWLEY: -- go on the Web site and you look at the Census Bureau, it talks about fertility.
CROWLEY: And I get it. I understand it. And, yes, but the most you can say is, you know, a clumsy wording. And that when Republicans who are -- the Republican Party, not Jeb Bush -- but when the Republican Party is seen as anti-immigrant, as unfriendly to people who aren't...
CROWLEY: -- old white men, you've got be really careful what you say.
CROWLEY: And that's why he's taking the heat.
YELLIN: Right. So, OK, somebody else who made news today, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He made the point that -- he said, you know, he's for immigration reform. And we know this. But he is against gay marriage. And he's also said that if there is a gay amendment to the immigration bill allowing immigrants who have gay partners to come into the U.S., he's not going to be for that. And he also does not think that there should be special laws allowing -- barring immig -- letting gay couples have rights, special rights.
CROWLEY: A couple of things here. The Supreme Court may take this out of his hands...
CROWLEY: -- and he won't have the argue it anymore. I mean and that's, honestly, on the Democratic and the Republican side, they're waiting for that DOMA ruling...
CROWLEY: -- which will then say, hey, you know, federal benefits have to be given, you know, to those where it's -- where marriage is recognized. And that's the federal. So there's that.
YELLIN: A smart position for him, though?
Because he is to the center on immigration...
YELLIN: -- but moving to the right on gay issues?
KING: Well, that is his position, number one. Number two, he's already alienated the conservative base by being for a path to citizenship in this immigration bill. So what he's trying to say to conservatives is this is where I am on immigration. I believe the policy is good. I believe the politics is right for our party. But here, here.
This is also a test, though -- this is not just a test of Marco Rubio. The -- all -- conservatives have been voting against -- the people in Group of Eight, which he is in -- some of the Republicans have been voting against amendments they support in practice because they say in full, they will doom the bill.
Now, are Democrats going to join Marco Rubio and vote against Senator Leahy's amendment because, as Marco Rubio says, it would kill the bill?
CROWLEY: And Leahy knows that.
CROWLEY: And that's why they're all sitting around...
CROWLEY: -- hoping that the Supreme Court helps them out.
YELLIN: We all know -- we're all waiting for that Supreme Court decision.
KING: It's this wacky game of chess about this immigration bill. And this is why they -- you know, you have these comprehensive bills. It's a train that might leave the station, so everybody wants to hook their cause to it. So everyone is going to have a proposal, I want this...
KING: -- I want this, I want this.
YELLIN: But the thing he did today that was surprising, also, is that he said he does not think it should be illegal to fire someone because they're gay.
Is that out of the mainstream?
CROWLEY: That's -- that's about ENDA, which the Employment Non- Discrimination Act, which has been written -- which has been around since 1990 something or other, has only had two votes, I think. It never gets out of Capitol Hill. It may be something whose time has come.
But there remains 34 states where it is legal...
KING: It's still legal.
CROWLEY: -- to fire someone who is gay or lesbian or transgendered. This would stop that.
I'm -- when I read the transcript of this, I'm not altogether sure he knew where this was going.
CROWLEY: Sometimes you read transcripts and you think...
YELLIN: -- runaway train.
CROWLEY: He might not have known what this was.
KING: Just connecting some dots.
CROWLEY: I think he's probably against it, but I'm not sure...
CROWLEY: -- he... (CROSSTALK)
CROWLEY: -- he totally got what he was talking about.
YELLIN: Well, we are standing by to see Bill Clinton and Chris Christie take the stage. So we're going to check in with that when it happens. We'll see if they talk about 2016 or their mutual diet plans.
You know, they're both now obsessed with their...
YELLIN: -- diets, so thanks to both of you...
YELLIN: -- for being on and talking politics.
And coming up next, new details on the type of military aid the U.S. now plans to give Syria's rebels.
But is it enough to make a difference?
And ahead, scary new video of a deck collapse that threw a hundred restaurant customers into Florida's Biscayne Bay.
YELLIN: And I'm learning new developments now about the Obama administration's plans to help rebels in Syria, now that the White House has declared the Assad regime has crossed the president's red line by using chemical weapons.
Officials tell me the U.S. plans to provide small arms, ammunition and possibly anti-tank weapons to Syrian rebels. But the administration is not spelling out details because it's all being done in secret, as part of a covert operation run through the CIA.
So what is the White House saying about this effort?
Let's turn now to CNN White House correspondent, Dan Lothian -- hi, Dan.
You have more reporting there from the White House, though I know they are being tight-lipped.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are being very tight-lipped. But the objective, at least according to the White House, is to make the opposition as strong as possible inside Syria, to improve the capabilities, but also to put more pressure on president Assad to step aside.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LOTHIAN (voice-over): The internal debate on the administration's response hasn't always been unanimous. Multiple sources tell CNN the president and national security advisor, Tom Donilon, favored a more cautious approach. Secretary of State John Kerry and incoming national security adviser, Susan Rice, pushed for more intervention.
The timing to act now, say aides, was driven by intelligence assessments and proof that chemical weapons were used.
But some critics aren't convinced, calling the decision to arm the rebels a mistake.
DOUG BANDOW, SENIOR FELLOW, CATO INSTITUTE: What he's taking is a half step that's actually rather dangerous. It commits the U.S., it commits U.S. prestige, but it's probably not going to change the balance of power there.
LOTHIAN: The White House seems confident this assistance will not only help the rebels, but put more pressure on Assad.
As for the no-fly zone, as was established in Libya, aides say that it's more difficult, dangerous and costly, in part because of Syria's air defense system.
But Republican Senator John McCain doesn't agree, saying this on CNN's "THE LEAD."
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Unless we take out Bashar al-Assad's air assets and establish a safe zone, it will not change the favorable conditions on the battlefield for Bashar Al-Assad.
LOTHIAN: And while many options remain on the table, boots on the ground is not one of them.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We certainly don't think it's in our national interests to introduce U.S. troops.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LOTHIAN: Now White House aides have been the ones briefing reporters over the last couple of days. But Senator John McCain and others are asking why the president himself has now -- not come out and explained the actions to the American people, just like he did in Libya. He says that the American people deserve this.
White house top aide here, Ben Rhodes, said that the president over the next several days will have several opportunities to do that as he heads to the G8 in Germany -- Jessica.
YELLIN: I know. We'll look for that. It was bizarre that the president was speaking publicly yesterday at the same time the White House was privately briefing reporters about crossing the red line. Curious, Dan, now that the administration has made this late decision to provide new aid to Syrian rebels, are they able to get the support to the rebels in time to make a difference? LOTHIAN: You know, that is such a good question, because even the White House will admit that there've been hiccups along the way in trying to get other supplies to the rebels, but they believe that over the last several months, six months, in fact, that the pipeline has gotten much better. And so, now they're saying that they're quite confident that this kind of military assistance can get to the rebels in time.
YELLIN: OK. Well, we'll see. Thanks so much, Dan. Dan Lothian reporting from the White House.
Coming up now, new concerns that the NSA leaker could defect to China or another country. Why officials here are worried?
And then, new video of the dock collapse at a bayside restaurant in Florida sent 100 customers plunging into the water. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
YELLIN: Attorney general, Eric Holder, today called the leaks about U.S. surveillance programs extremely damaging and vowed that the leaker will be held accountable. Holder is meeting counterparts in Europe where concerns are being raised about the U.S. snooping. Back home, there are fresh concerns that the NSA's leaker, Edward Snowden, could defect to China. That comes after he told a Hong Kong newspaper he'll any fight extradition attempts.
CNNs Brian Todd is here with the latest. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jessica, given the information that he allegedly gave to the "Guardian" about U.S., about NSA monitoring, plus the other classified information that he says he had access to and the fact that his exact whereabouts are a mystery right now, there is growing concern here in Washington that Edward Snowden may fall into a rival's hands.
TODD (on-camera): Top U.S. officials are now openly worried. Will Edward Snowden defect?
REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Does he have a relationship with a foreign government and is there more to the story?
Clearly, there is -- we're going to make sure that there's a thorough scrub of what he is -- what his China connections are.
TODD: A former senior NSA official and the former CIA officer told me the Chinese government has likely at least made contact with Edward Snowden. One analyst says over the past few days, it's looked more and more like someone is shaping Snowden's behavior, possibly the "Guardian" newspaper, maybe the Chinese.
So, what kind of information does he have? To hear him brag about it to the "Guardian," besides the NSA's telephone surveillance and internet monitoring programs --
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: I had access to, you know, the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence committee and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station we have, what their missions are and so forth.
TODD: Senior U.S. officials say they doubt Snowden really has all that information. Snowden has said his intent was not to harm the U.S., but former CIA officer, Robert Baer says there's no doubt he's being closely watched.
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: You and I cannot hide in Hong Kong. It's impossible. Chine intelligence has that place riddled with sources people, cooperative police, the rest of it. It's impossible to hide in Hong Kong.
TODD: Baer says because of that, there's little chance the CIA could capture Snowden through some secret rendition or other method even if they wanted to. Snowden told a Hong Kong newspaper that the U.S. government has been hacking into computers in China for years. if Snowden were to defect, what would the Chinese want most from him?
JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: What the Chinese don't have is they don't have a knowledge of where we've been successful, whose phone has been hacked, whose computer has been hacked. They don't know that. And so, if he can tell them places, specific places that have been hacked, they can go and close off the source.
TODD: We called and e-mailed the Chinese embassy in Washington asking if their government has made contact with Snowden, and if he wanted asylum, would they grant it. They didn't respond.
TODD (on-camera): So, U.S. officials in Washington still monitoring the situation and trying to figure out where Edward Snowden is, and of course, monitoring what systems he might have knowledge of that the U.S. may have hacked into in China, what military officials they might targeted in China, and if he's going to give it to the Chinese, Jessica.
YELLIN: I love that you e-mailed the Chinese embassy, because I'm sure they didn't respond, but I'm sure the NSA monitor that maybe the DOJ --
YELLIN: -- holder or something. How about other U.S. rivals? Is there any reason to believe he would go to Iran or Russia or that they'd accept him if he tried?
TODD: Those are real concerns among U.S. officials because everyone wants to get their hands on this guy, and an Iranian official (INAUDIBLE) told me this is, quote, "a ridiculous idea" and not even worth an answer, but that's -- you know, that's just what they're saying.
However, an official at the Russian embassy here reiterated what Vladimir Putin's spokesman said a few days ago that if he wants asylum in Russia, they would consider it. I mean, it's pretty much a signal, if you want to come here, we'll take your information. A lot of people want to get their hands on him
YELLIN: Interesting. He should have gone there maybe --
TODD: Maybe. Maybe.
YELLIN: Oh, well. All right. Thanks so much, Brian Todd.
And coming up, Chelsea Clinton is in the spotlight with her parents, and she sits down for a rare interview with the newest member of our family, the CNN family, Michaela Pereira.
And up next, we have new video of the terrifying moments when the dock of a water-side restaurant collapsed throwing 100 people into the bay.
YELLIN: Happening now --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN (voice-over): A night out at a restaurant bar turns to horror when the deck collapses, plunging 100 people into the water. We have new cell phone video captured just seconds after it happened.
Plus, Chelsea Clinton joins her parents on the global stage, and she's speaking out in a rare interview with the newest member of the CNN family, Michaela Pereira.
And a bombshell split details on billionaire media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, shocker. He's filing for divorce.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jessica Yellin. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN (on-camera): A pool of chairs, pretty much all that's left of a Florida restaurant bar deck after it collapsed, plunging 100 Miami Heat fans into the bay. Dozens had to be treated, three of whom were critically injured. CNNs John Zarrella has the latest.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cell phone video is dark. It was taken just seconds after the deck at Shuckers Bar and Grill collapsed into Miami's Biscayne Bay. There is urgency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up, please!
ZARRELLA: Flashlights scanned the water looking for victims. People move partially submerged tables and chairs, looking for anyone who might be buried beneath the debris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is everybody out?
ZARRELLA: It was just before 10:00 p.m. The deck was filled. Many were there to watch their hometown, Miami Heat, in game four of the NBA championship. Suddenly, no warning and the deck beneath them began collapsing.
TOM TUCKWELL, WITNESS: I was maybe six feet from the deck when it collapsed. All I can describe it as is like 1,000 people standing up at the same time. It was a peculiar just roar of noise. And by the time I turned around, in a split second, where there was once people, I mean, 50 to 100 people may be at least, there was nothing.
ZARRELLA: Dozens of people had gone into the water. Within minutes, helicopters were overhead. Divers were in the bay. Fire rescue personnel were triaging victims. The bay is shallow where the deck collapsed. That may have saved people from drowning. While there were two dozen injuries, no one died. When you see in the daylight what's left of the deck, clearly it could have been so much worse.
By mid-morning, inspectors were documenting the scene along with structural engineers on boats looking for potential failure points, looking for a cause. Stress failure, overcrowding, structural deterioration, salt water corrosion. On CNN's newsroom, Attorney Danny Zavalo (ph) said the owners will likely be held accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to liability, these land owners are under a duty. If you're spending money at their establishment to inspect the premises, even defects that are not visible to the naked eye, and if they could have been discovered with a reasonable inspection, any land owner is going to be on the hook.
ZARRELLA: Owners may have a duty, but there's nothing to compel them. We spoke with Florida building officials. They tell us there's no requirement that a deck or dock be re-inspected after it's built, unless, it's modified. If someone complains, an inspector might come out, but not always. With water-side restaurant decks about as common as beach sand in Florida, an inspector policy might be a good idea.
John Zarrella, CNN, North Bay Village.
YELLIN: Well, that is shocking. And joining us now on the phone is Chris Volz. He was at the bar last night just feet from where the deck gave way.
Chris, it's a remarkable story. Will you tell us where you were when this happened, presumably, you were watching the game, you had a few beers and then what happened?
CHRIS VOLZ, WITNESSED DECK COLLAPSE: Well, we were sitting there, watching the Heat coming back and everybody was getting a little bit more excited, and we all were just sitting there, cheering, and then all of a sudden we just heard this whoosh, and this big bang. I -- I describe it as like a train, like hitting -- I thought -- at first, I thought it was a boat hitting the dock or something.
And then when I turn around there was nobody there and you're like stunned for a second. And then you walk over and then we start, everybody started running to get over there to help people. You can -- as you can see this video that you have on right now is actually shot by my friend that was sitting right next to me. He started shooting video, we're pulling people out. It was just -- it was crazy.
Women crying, had a lot of blood on their faces, and lots of cuts, lots of -- lots of shocks, I mean -- and anybody -- a lot of people just stood around just shocked.
YELLIN: And what did you hear at the time? Did you hear yelling, shouting, crying?
VOLZ: Well, a little bit of everything. So I think, I mean, you know, everybody was trying to help and, you know, the people were trying to scramble up the sides. It kind of fell in in the middle of the deck, so it was kind of a V-shape and everybody was knee-deep up to their waists and knee-deep right in the middle of the deck where -- where it used to be, actually, and then people were crawling up the sides on each side. And everybody was just trying to help. People were crying, people were shocked, people were -- you know, there was, you know, a couple of kids that were very close.
There was actually one man as you can see that was right next to the actual desk holding a toddler, and he actually was probably a foot in front of where the deck fell. I mean I think everybody was kind of shocked and helping people out.
YELLIN: How deep was -- how deep is the water and how hard was it to get people out?
VOLZ: It was probably about a good -- I would say in between six to 10 feet in places where it fell. The water was fine, like I said. In the middle of where the -- of the deck was the V-shape was probably close to about maybe waist-high water. And then to get to the other side, they had to kind of crawl and, you know, the deck is wet. People were slipping, falling.
And you know, you're grabbing -- you're grabbing one arm to pull them up, and the other person is grabbing the other one, so I mean, the one good thing was -- good to see was that everybody jumped, you know, into help mode. Everybody was grabbing and helping, and it was good to see that that was the response from everybody.
YELLIN: Yes. You know, I was shocked to hear in this report that there is no requirement for these decks to be inspected. I'm curious, is this a place that you go to often? And does it seem like it is well kept up? Did they take good care of that deck? Or did it seem to be in pretty bad shape?
VOLZ: Well, I have been going there for years. I worked for many years just down the street at one of the local TV stations, WVSN, here in Miami and so -- that's a place that we all go. It's close to work. We always went down there for happy hour after work, you know, have a couple of drinks, go home, you know, a lot of social time.
So we've been there many a times, and we don't sit at the deck, we just sit around the bar. But I've always thought the -- the deck always was pretty nice pretty much most of the time. But I -- there were complaints, I know a few friends of mine have gone there and a few friends of mine that have actually worked there have complained that you're walking on it, sometimes it sagged, and they were a little worried, and this has gone on for a few years.
But, I mean, I was never worried about it. I would never thought that it would get to a point where it would break and fall in like that. I mean that's -- that doesn't go through your head, you would think that it's well inspected and it's safe. I mean, that's what businesses are supposed to do, so you kind of rely on that that it's was going to happen.
YELLIN: Of course. Well, what a bizarre experience. And thank you for all the work you did to save people, and thank you for sharing your experience with us. We are glad you're safe.
VOLZ: Well, thank you, Jessica.
YELLIN: OK. Thank you. Chris Volz.
And when we come back, she is center stage with her parents this week. Now Chelsea Clinton is speaking out in a rare interview with the newest member of the CNN family.
And billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch's sudden split from his wife. Details on the bombshell divorce plan just ahead.
YELLIN: And live right now in Chicago is Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative where he is going to be introducing any moment Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. The two of them will be talking about disaster relief.
Chris Christie recently appearing with President Barack Obama, and now soon on the stage with another top Democrat, Bill Clinton.
BILL CLINTON, CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE: We had tornadoes as far north as Massachusetts and New York City last year. So we need to give more thought to the responsibilities of leadership and how the plan for what happens after the disaster.
Mayor Bloomberg, as I mentioned once earlier in the conference, just last week revealed the $20 billion plan to try to make New York City resilient in the face of what is almost certainly going to be rising water levels in the years ahead.
It is a big challenge. Governor Christie received an enormous amount of publicity, entirely well deserved for the passionate advocacy for the people of New Jersey and the work he did in the immediate aftermath of Sandy.
Now there are no cameras there. But there are a lot of people still in trouble, and he is still doing that work. And so that's what I want all of you to think about, because many of you live in communities that are vulnerable to one or another kind of natural disaster, and we need to think about what happens when the worst is over, and you have to plan for tomorrow.
So please join me in welcoming the governor of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie.
So, even as effective as you are, and as I once was, we couldn't stop the Big East from dissolving?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No.
CLINTON: And so that's -- after you get rid of this resilience thing, I want you to figure out how television revenues from football games can stop the -- short of dissolving the greatest basketball conference in American history, and it was really sad.
CHRISTIE: What are we going to do next spring is the next question?
CLINTON: Watch a lot of television.
CLINTON: First, thank you for coming.
CHRISTIE: My pleasure.
CLINTON: Thank you for bringing your family. Your wife and son are here somewhere.
CLINTON: Somewhere. Where are they? Stand up.
The Christie's son is a student at Princeton where he plays baseball, so he is OK with the Big East dissolving.
So once you got through that terrible emergency period and all of the gripping pictures of everybody showing up and all of that, what did you do next? What have you done from the time to this day -- from the time that the emergency ended to this day about your -- the places that were devastated and the places that remain vulnerable?
CHRISTIE: Well, you know, it's hard for me now as I look back on it to pinpoint when the emergency ended. You know, it's when you get into the immediate aftermath of this type of situation, you know, our view was the first thing you had to do was to try to return people to normalcy, and we defined normalcy in five ways.
Get their power back on. Get the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants back working again so they have clean water. Get the gas stations reopen, get the state highways reopen and get their kids back in school. So we knew that if we got those five things done, there are probably 90 percent of the state would be back to a sense of normalcy.
And so I would gauge it from there, and then about three weeks out, we had most of that under control. So as you move forward from there, what you realize is that, this is going to be a year's long enterprise. It's -- with Sandy, in New Jersey alone, 365,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed, 365,000.
So what you're looking at then is how to get people a sense of hope and also do it in a smart way. So the first thing we did was sit down with the mayors in the most affected towns and said we want you to begin to think about, because in New Jersey, it's very a home rule state, so they control the local zoning and ordinance -- ordinances and so they had to be full partners.
So we bring the mayors in and I met with a lot of them one-on-one, and say, I want you to have an honest conversation with your residents. We're willing to ask the federal government to partner with us on a buy-out program to buy-out homes and properties that really should no longer be standing because they've been so perpetually flooded over time. But I'm not going the force people out. So I want you to start having that conversation.
And then, in the places that don't want to sell out, how are we going to protect it? And we came up with nothing novel, but three ways really to go about protecting them. First in the Jersey Shore communities, not all of our shore communities had Army Corps of Engineer designed dune systems, and there is a lot of debate about this in New Jersey. It has been over the years, are they worth it or aren't they, Sandy settled that score.
In these towns that had Army Corps of Engineer designed dune systems, the damage was minimal, in the ones that didn't, the damage was complete. And so now there is no longer a debate in New Jersey about whether we should have them as a safety precaution. So that is number one.
And I pitched very hard to President Obama that that was one of the things that had to be included in the aid package. The ability to complete the dune system along the entire 130-mile-long Atlantic coast of New Jersey and the Congress agreed. And we have the money now to do that. And that's what we're working on right now to do that.
Second is that you had to deal with the ordinances in towns regarding the building code. And worked with the state to now deal with using better materials and more resilient type of standards, because what we saw in New Jersey was in a town like Mantoloking, which is an older town, had a lot of big beautiful homes on the ocean that were built in the 1950s, in the 1960s.
They look beautiful. They looked beautiful. But they could not stand up to the storm. And Mantoloking, one of the towns that would slip the most because it had no dunes and very old homes under old codes, so we need to bring those codes up in every town to deal with the new reality, which is our homes have to be much hardened if they're going to be in these areas. So you need to do that.
Third, you have to work with FEMA on the flood maps and the updating of the flood maps, and then see how much you have to raise existing houses. And I think what you're going to see in the New Jersey Shore if any of you have been there, when you come back another couple of years, is that most homes within a four or five-block area of the ocean will be now on stilts.
Will be on pillars to -- you know, permit the water if it comes to run underneath and not create structural damage. And so all these conversations, though, had to be had at the local level in our state, because New Jerseyans have a tradition of being fiercely home rule, don't like these things imposed from the state-downward, and will fight brutally to prevent it.
So my job as governor was to go to these towns and convince them that this is something they need to do, and so far with some exceptions, so far, we've been successful. So that's part of what we had to do to deal with the homeowner side of things is to let people know that this is a new world and a different world we're dealing with.
And if you want to live here, if you don't want to buy or sell out, this is what you've got to do to make the next time a storm comes to have the physical damage to property and the risk to human life be significantly less than it was on October 29th.
CLINTON: And how many people took the option --
YELLIN: Bill Clinton and Chris Christie there talking about mitigating future storm disasters, and we will continue to monitor that discussion there in Chicago between those two political mega stars.
And when we come back, she is center stage with her parents this week, now Chelsea Clinton is speaking out in a rare interview with the newest member of the CNN family.
YELLIN: We're monitoring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie live on stage in Chicago talking to Bill Clinton. But Chelsea Clinton is also front and center this week at what is now the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
This is a photo Hillary just tweeted of the two of them together backstage. Chelsea sat down in a rare interview with the newest member of the CNN family, Michaela Pereira.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN'S NEW DAY: A lot of folks are speculating by the tweets coming from your mother's account lately that this could mean something for a political future. You have -- you have campaigned with her, you've worked hard before. How would you feel about going out and campaigning for her?
CHELSEA CLINTON, CLINTON FOUNDATION: I'll support my mom in whatever she does. I mean, this goes back to the some things in life are complicated and some aren't. I mean, she's my mom, and I'm just unabashedly, unapologetically biased towards her because I just think she's just awesome in every way, but also, as a young American and as a young woman and as someone who now is thinking about having her own family, she exemplifies and supports and advocates for so much of what I believe in.
I'm thrilled that right now she's decided to join the Clinton Foundation. I can't wait to work with her into the future, and I will support whatever she does in the foundation or beyond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: And joining us now is Michaela Pereira, the host of CNN's new morning show, "NEW DAY."
Michaela, welcome, and wow, what a get. Chelsea Clinton never speaks. You've landed her. Impressive, I've got to say.
PEREIRA: Thank you very much, Jessica. It's a real pleasure to be with you. Yes, it was pretty exciting to get a chance to fly to Chicago, my first assignment with CNN, sit down with Chelsea and have a chance to talk to her about her aspirations, her hopes, the work that she's doing with the foundation, and certainly evading the question when I asked her about her mom in 2016.
YELLIN: She really did. So I've got to ask you, she's skilled at avoiding questions about her mom's political aspirations, but did you get a sense from her body language at all which way you think her mom is leaning?
PEREIRA: You know, it's interesting, because she said, look, I'm unapologetically a supporter of my mother's, there's nothing she can do wrong in my -- in my eyes, I'll support anything she does. And what she said was in the foundation and beyond. It's that beyond that's always going to leave the big question mark for a lot of people. So, to me, it feels as though there could be a gear-up for something.
YELLIN: I know. We're all expecting it. As they say, though, in her own tweet, Hillary Clinton said "TBD," so --
YELLIN: They are leaving the door wide open.
PEREIRA: Exactly. YELLIN: All right. I want to ask you about Monday morning, your show starts. You've got to be getting used to the early morning wake-up calls. What are you most looking forward to about your first show?
PEREIRA: Well, Jessica, being an L.A. girl, you know, nine years doing mornings, I'm very accustomed to the early hours. I'll be going to bed really early to get a good night's sleep, because I have to be on my toes for that Kate Bolduan and Chris Cuomo. The two of them teaming up against me, I don't stand a chance.
I'm really excited about the whole thing finally coming together. We've been doing a lot behind the scenes for months now and finally just to get a chance to do the show live, I couldn't be more thrilled.
YELLIN: Well, I have been watching you for years because I'm from Los Angeles, West Side girl. Go, West Side.
PEREIRA: All right.
YELLIN: And -- so I know you're a rock star and I'm looking forward to watching.
PEREIRA: That's very kind of you, Jessica. Thanks for letting me come on and speak with you today.
YELLIN: OK. Look forward to Monday.
PEREIRA: Me, too.
YELLIN: And as you just heard, the countdown has begun for the start of CNN's all-new morning show, "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo will be joined by our SITUATION ROOM alum Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira starting Monday morning at 6:00 Eastern.
Watch them weekday mornings right here on CNN.
And just ahead, how hackers can disable the medical devices that keep millions of people alive.
And media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the force behind FOX News, is suddenly splitting from his third wife in what could be another billion-dollar divorce.
YELLIN: CNN will be debuting the film "GIRL RISING" this weekend. It shares stories of girls trying to get an education.
Joining us now is CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. As you know, she is the host of "AMANPOUR" on CNN International.
Christiane, it's an important and an interesting film. Will you tell us about it and why it's so important to you?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will. I helped launch it and it was colleagues and friends of mine who put it together. And it is about girls, 10 or so, who are exemplified from all sorts of different countries around the world, and it's about their striving to get an education. Because like we all know, it's only education that can empower girls or boys out of poverty and into a real sort of functioning member of society, and they know that.
And it's really very tragic. The figures are something like 35 million girls are out of education right now, don't have access to any education around the world. Either they are forced into early marriages or they, you know, spend their lives doing what amounts to slave labor. And we have seen and the world has seen that when women, girls are fully empowered and there's parity and they have, you know, equal opportunity to contribute to society, well, then the whole society rises.
And this is called "GIRL RISING," and it has this knock-on effect that every extra year of primary or secondary education increases an individual, a girl's ability to earn and the earning power.
YELLIN: They're also wonderful stories and it's a fascinating watch. Thanks so much, Christiane Amanpour, joining us.
And that's it for me. THE SITUATION ROOM continues now with Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Jessica.
Happening now, how hackers can harm you. A chilling new warning that certain life-saving medical devices are vulnerable to cyber attackers.
Plus, desperate measures as Colorado's most destructive fire keeps raging. We'll talk to a man who took matters into his own hands and saved his home.