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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Could A Clinton Run Harm Obama?; Alabama's Agony, Auburn's Ecstasy

Aired December 2, 2013 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I want to turn to an issue that's big right now in the realm of technology. Obviously, you are a pioneer in this field. Last night, Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company Amazon is working on a drone delivery system. He calls it Octocopter I think and he says Octocopter will be delivering books to your doorstep in a relatively short period of time.

Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF BEZOS, CEO, AMAZON: Could it be, you know, four, five years? I think so. It will work and it will happen, and it's going to be a lot of fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Five years until Octocopter drops off the book you ordered. Is that realistic?

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT CO-FOUNDER: Well, books of course are going electronic and Jeff, through Amazon, has been one of the leaders on that. So, with something like books, you can get literally at the speed of light. Physical products delivered by drone, I would say he's probably on the optimistic or perhaps even the overoptimistic end of that.

But you know, it's great that people have dreams like that. If we can make the cost of delivery easier, then it's not just books. It's getting health supplies out to people in tough places. Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize in positive ways to help society.

BERMAN: Was this a dream, though, or an advertising gimmick? I mean, he has Amazon in the news now right on Cyber Monday and for the holiday shopping week when, as you say, it may be overoptimistic, to say the least, to suggest that drones can be dropping off your package at your door in the next five years.

GATES: Well, tech pioneers dream big dreams. And you know, I think he's allowed to have a vision there and you know, it would be great if we can come anywhere close to that for a lot of products.

BERMAN: Bill Gates, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate you coming from the White House. Coming up next for us, his life was cut tragically short. Now his last work is in limbo. Will the franchise that Paul Walker leaves behind now continue without him?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD, everyone. Time now for the Pop Lead.

He was famous for an unnerving need for speed. But an eyewitness says "Fast and Furious" franchise star Paul Walker was not drag racing when the Porsche he was riding slammed into a light pole and burst into flames on Saturday. The 40-year-old movie star was killed along with his -- with the driver and racing partner, Roger Rodas. Despite that report, L.A. County investigators say that speed was a factor and are still pursuing the possibility that another car veered in front of the Porsche and caused the crash. An autopsy will be performed tomorrow. Another possible clue, tire skidmarks on the asphalt near the crash site, perhaps suggesting that a car was doing doughnut spins.

This news all hitting Hollywood hard. Walker was in the middle of filming the seventh installment of the "Fast and Furious" movies and it's unclear if production will continue. But now the actor's fans could be left mourning both the man and the hugely popular character that he played.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): It's the kind of plot twist no one wants to believe. A star pulled from the story far too soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing. We tried. We went through five (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: As the reality of Paul Walker's death settles over Hollywood, questions surrounding his fictional fate begin. Walker was best known for his work in the billion dollar "Fast and Furious" franchise. The actor was killed in a car crash Saturday, just one day before filming was set to resume after taking a Thanksgiving break.

RAMIN SETOODEH, FILM EDITOR, VARIETY: Right now, we're in a limbo period where Universal needs to decide what to do and how to put the pieces together now that they've lost one of their stars.

BERMAN: For now, production has been postponed. But in show business, of course, they say the show must go on. The question is, how?

SETOODEH: We have seen situations where cast members die and studios have to resort to doing things like going into CGI and using special effects. They're going to have to figure out a respectful way to explain his character's absence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what's going to happen with the film right now. I mean, we're almost done with the film but we're not even thinking about that. We're just thinking about him right now, his family. BERMAN: Heath ledger was posthumously awarded an Oscar for his role in "The Dark Knight," which hit theaters just six months after the actor's sudden death. But when Ledger accidentally overdosed in 2008, his next film, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," was still in production. To complete that film, not one but three of Ledger's contemporaries, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law, stepped into versions of his character.

With so much money at stake, it's not surprising that studios strive to complete productions. Oliver Reed's character in "Gladiator" was originally supposed to survive the blockbuster's gory plot. However, when the actor suffered a heart attack before his final scenes, producers used a body double to reflect his character's demise.

SETOODEH: It's not easy to just stop production on a film if a star dies in the middle of the film, because you've already invested in a crew, you've already invested in scripts, in the budget. You have millions of dollars invested into a film, so you can't just pull back and say we're not going to do the movie anymore.

BERMAN: Sadly, the unfortunate and often sudden need for plot changes happened with the big screen and on TV. When "Glee"'s Cory Monteith died in July at age 31, the tribute show captured the emotion of his still grieving cast mates, including his real life love, Lea Michelle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEA MICHELE, ACTOR (singing): There's a place for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: As Paul Walker's fans mourn, the destroyed red Porsche at the crash scene is reminiscent of another involving an actor gone too early. James Dean, most famous for his leading role in "Rebel Without a Cause" was killed in his silver Porsche in 1955, just one day after wrapping the film "Giant."

On his verified Twitter account, Walker described himself as an outdoorsman, ocean addict and adrenaline junkie who does some acting on the side. He leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter.

Other news, a tense turf war ratcheting up between China and Japan. Enter into this nasty conflict, vice president Joe Biden. What role will he play in Asia's air battle? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD, everyone. Turning to the World Lead, let's hope he's got enough cash in his wallet for the trip or at least some travelers checks. Vice president Joe Biden has arrived in Japan for the first leg of his tour through Asia, and this comes right in the middle of rising tensions in the region after China seized a bigger air space over the East China Sea last month. Both Japan and the U.S. have flown planes right through the zone that China is now claiming, but they haven't given Beijing the heads-up that it demanded. China has responded by scrambling fighter jets in the region. The vice president will travel to China during this trip, and U.S. officials say he will raise concerns about the air defense zone and push for more dialogue to ease the tensions.

Coming up on THE LEAD, they went from rivals to besties. But if Hillary Clinton does decide to run in 2016, will her friendship with the president be over?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: They went from fierce opponents to fast friends, from hypothetical 3:00 a.m. phone calls to you hang up, no, you hang up. At least on camera, that is. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I consider Hillary a strong friend.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I mean, very warm, close -- I think there's a sense of understanding that sometimes doesn't even take words.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Doesn't even take words. So telepathy aside, can the bond between President Obama and the former secretary of state survive if she makes a run for office, or would a candidate Clinton inadvertently turn the current president into a lame duck before his time?

And then there's this bigger meta-question. Is the specter of a run doing that already? Let's bring in our political panel, CNN political contributor and Republican strategist, Kevin Madden, co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" Van Jones and associate editor for "The Hill," A.B. Stoddard.

Van, I want to start with you here. If Hillary runs, how many times can we start a sentence with those words, if Hillary runs, how complicated is her relationship with the president? Does she need to run with him in the primary but against him in a general election?

VAN JONES, CO-HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Well, I mean, basically, you got to look at her as a very strange woman. She has two husbands. One's name is Bill. The other's name is Barack. She can't divorce either one of them. She's going to have to hug them, warts and all, and run with them. If she turns against this president at any point before she has this thing wrapped up, the base is not going to have it. This president has come back from the dead 57 times. He will be back, but she cannot get away from him any more than she can from Bill Clinton.

BERMAN: Complicated. All right, A.B., I'm not going to follow up on the two husband metaphor. That was Van Jones, CNN, ladies and gentlemen. That's all his. But A.B., there's a provocative piece in "Politico" today with a quote from our friend, Alex Castellanos, who says that Hillary Clinton is the life raft on Obama's sinking ship.

Alex is talking about the now. He says that Democrats who want to split from the president even now can look somewhat to Hillary Clinton for safe harbor. Do you see that happening, Democrats in a way distancing themselves from the president and trying to move to her now?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": Well, she's not making many public statements. She's really only come out and said some things to back him up on Syria. You know what her husband did at a critical moment right after the news broke that the president sort of knew people were not going to be able in the self-insured market to keep the policies that they like, even though they have been told by the president that they could.

Bill Clinton said he should honor that promise while his wife was somewhere staying silent. So in the years to come, what you'll see is probably the former president, Bill Clinton, doing a lot of the dirty work to provide that separation and distance.

At what point is she going to give, you know, Senate Democrats running in red states up for re-election in '14 or '16 cover, you know, she's going to have to go out there. She'll either agree that the policies are not popular with their constituents and need revisiting or she has to back up the president. I think that's going to be challenging for her. I think she's more likely to stay quiet.

BERMAN: Kevin, on the subject of cover, A.B. just brought it up there, the comments from Bill Clinton about Obamacare, when the former president said the current president should honor its commitment to allow people to keep their health care plans. Let's play it once more, just for feeling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So I personally believe even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they've got.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Does this give the secretary of state the cover that she needs from the Obamacare situation right now?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, you know, I think that one of the big problems -- I think, look, Bill Clinton is the best strategist that the Democrats have right now so I think he was essentially acknowledging the risks that many Democrats face right now, being so closely associated with some of the mistakes of Obamacare.

But in reality, I think that A.B. has a really good point, which is that he is actually going to be somebody who helps drive the wedge between President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but I also think that Van has a good point in the sense that there's really not a whole lot that can be done to really separate the two, and it could become a very -- a big problem if Hillary looks like she's trying to run away from Obama in a Democratic primary.

BERMAN: So everyone is right, but I'm not going to stop that here. I want to play a clip of something Rush Limbaugh has said, which is getting a lot of attention. He is talking about Pope Francis and Pope Francis' comments about capitalism. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You know, Rush Limbaugh is not running for office, but there are a lot of Republican Catholics who one day could be, Kevin. Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, among others. Do you expect any of them to have anything but glowing words to say about Pope Francis?

MADDEN: Well, look, I don't know what their personal relationship is with their church, how each individually going to handle it, but I will say this. Anybody who has followed Pope Francis, they recognize that he doesn't make these remarks as a politician. He doesn't make them as an economist. He makes them as a pastor. He's the leader of the Catholic Church.

Having worked for Mitt Romney who also had questions about his faith and how he handled it in the public spear, one of the things that he always reminded people was that he's not running for pastor in chief. He was running for commander in chief. His religion, his faith, has to be reflected in how he lives his life. That's a much more important approach for the folks in the political arena to take.

BERMAN: Kevin Madden, A.B. Stoddard, Van Jones, thanks so much for being with us on this Monday. Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us next on THE LEAD, we'll be right back. No, a rookie in the NBA is making millions but thanks to his mother, he's not able to spend any of it. That's our Sports Lead and it's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to the Sports Lead, everyone. It is pretty obvious what the Sports Lead is. It is hard to ignore what many people are calling the greatest college football game ever played. Auburn's stunning, really unheard of walk-off win over its bitter rival, number one, Alabama, formerly number one, Alabama.

You get a true sense of the agony and the ecstasy through the play by play guys. They probably think they've seen it all and they probably pretty much did, until this weekend. First, here's the play as the Crimson Tide's broadcasters saw it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELI GOLD, ALABAMA FOOTBALL RADIO ANNOUNCER: It's 57 yards to win the iron bowl. He spots it, kick on the way. It's got length. It is sailing. It is short. It is grabbed about eight yards deep in the end zone, brought back to the near side. Run down the near sideline. There's nobody there for Alabama. Auburn's going to win. Auburn is going to win the iron bowl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So that sounded stunned but pretty stoic. Now, listen to the Auburn guys call it. Same play, whole different ball game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD BRAMBLETT, AUBURN FOOTBALL RADIO ANNOUNCER: It's 56-yarder. It's got -- no. Does not have the length and Chris Davis takes it at the back of the end zone. He'll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45, there goes Davis!

Davis is going to run it all the way back! Auburn is going to win the football game! Auburn's going to win the football game! He ran the missed field goal back. He ran it back 109 yards! They're not going to keep them off the field tonight! Holy cow!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That's the sound of popping blood vessels from a sports announcer. I have seen that like 20 times and I still can't believe it, the missed field goal that became the miracle end to the iron bowl for the ages.

Make sure to check out our show page @cnn.com/thelead for video, blogs and extras. That's all for THE LEAD today. I'm John Berman filling in for Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.