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Polar Vortex Freezes Part of U.S.; Liz Cheney Quits Senate Race; Montana's Schweitzer May Run for Presidency; Supreme Court Halts Utah Gay Marriage; Janet Yellen Set to Become First Female Chair of Fed; Rodman Goes to North Korea; BCS Championship Tonight; Jerry Coleman Dead

Aired January 6, 2014 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Bone-chilling cold doesn't come even close to describing, I know, what many of you would feel if you stepped outside your door right now. Look at this. Look. Just -- you can feel the freeze. This is Lake Michigan. This is a time-lapse showing the effects of this thing that we're calling a polar vortex.

This is our weather-nerdy phrase of the day, polar vortex. This is a swirling mass of air described as an arctic cyclone.

The temperature there this morning, colder than the South Pole.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Chicago for us where, Ted, let me just tell you. Wow, look at the wind in those flags behind you. It's 12below right now.

How are you feeling, my friend?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm feeling a little chilly, Brooke. It is 12-below, but you look at the flags and the wind chill drops down to 25 below zero, very unsafe.

Normally in Chicago on Michigan Avenue, the bridge would be packed with people walking up and down. You see a couple of brave souls who are out and about, but for the most part everyone is inside. A lot of folks told their employees to stay home.

It's not just uncomfortable, but dangerous. Frostbite can set in depending how cold you ever. This is about what they are talking. Ten to 15 minutes exposed skin can suffer frostbite.

We were over at Cook County hospital today, talked to a doctor there. They are seeing patients come in, and they say, the bottom line is, it's serious stuff.


ROWLANDS: Is it potentially pretty dangerous frostbite? What's the worst case scenario? What happens to the body when it gets that cold in your appendages? DR. MICHELLE SERGE, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, COOK COUNTY HOSPITAL: You can actually lose parts of your tissue, so it could eventually have to be amputated.

Parts of your tissue can actually die, so you will have to have pieces removed or surgically taken out or amputated.


ROWLANDS: So, Brooke, bottom line is get inside if you are outside, if you are anywhere in the Midwest unless you have to be outside.

Emergency workers, those types of folks, are just bundling up and dealing with it. But for the most part, everyone else should try to limit their exposure because it's cold.

BALDWIN: Are we safe to assume the classes are -- schools are closed where you are again tomorrow?

ROWLANDS: Yes. Throughout the Midwest and, just announced within the last half hour, Chicago public schools again will be closed tomorrow.

BALDWIN: OK, Ted Rowlands, hop back in that satellite truck, you and your crew. Our thanks to you for braving it for us. And we will watch more of you on "THE LEAD," coming up at the top of the hour.

First on CNN, Liz Cheney has quit the race for that Senate seat in Wyoming after setting up turmoil within the Republican Party and within her own family, which, of course, includes the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Liz Cheney is not giving specifics, but her withdrawal statement cites what she calls, and I'm quoting her now, "serious health issues" within her family.

Her decision to mound a primary challenge to GOP stalwart Mike Enzi angered a lot of Republicans. She also had a public tiff concerning gay marriage with her lesbian sister, Mary.

And, if you've checked out Politico, Politico today reporting that Hillary Clinton held a campaign strategy session last summer with three Democratic consultants. It is the only such meeting known to have happened and yet another indication that she wants to succeed President Obama.

Also today, CNN has confirmed that a Super PAC purportedly formed to urge Clinton to run has rented a list of contacts from Clinton's failed bid for president in 2008.

A Clinton spokesman says any decision to run is a long way off.

Should Clinton run, a lot of folks believe she would be a cinch for her party's nomination, but there is another Democrat who is making a bit of noise about running himself.

Here he is, Brian Schweitzer, the former two-term governor of Montana. Governor Schweitzer, so, so great to have you on. Welcome, sir.


BALDWIN: As you mull this possibility of running, let me just begin with this. Do you pretty much take it for granted that Hillary Clinton will run?

SCHWEITZER: No, I take her absolutely at her word.

Those of who you haven't run for office, you don't know how intensely personal it is when you jump off the cliff without air parachute.

You have to make sure that your family's behind you. You have to make sure that you've got the fire in your belly.

Getting into these things where anybody can say anything they want about you, whether it's true or not, you have to be ready, and you have to cinch yourself into that saddle and hold on tight.

Now, when she said she hasn't decided, I think you should believe her and you ought to believe me when I say I haven't decided.

BALDWIN: All right, but, you know, we're still talking to you for a reason, and let's play the "if" game, Governor.

If you were to run against Hillary Clinton, my question would be, would you run to her left or would you offer yourself up as a more conservative choice for Democrats?

SCHWEITZER: They say that governors have records to run on and people who have been legislators have talked about things.

And, of course, I probably would talk about my record in Montana where, during eight years, eight consecutive years, I had the largest budget surplus in history, cut more taxes than any governor in history, invested more new money in education.

And the result was we increased the adult population with a college degree at the fastest rate in the country by far.

BALDWIN: I hear you answering the question, Governor, on your record, but I asked you, would you be left or right of Hillary Clinton? Can you answer that one?

SCHWEITZER: Probably both.

I don't know exactly where she might stand on some issues, but I have been critical of this administration for still being in Afghanistan.

And now we have people saying we have to go back into Iraq to get al Qaeda.

BALDWIN: John Kerry is saying no, no, no. He's saying we're not --

SCHWEITZER: Al Qaeda wasn't even in Iraq when we attacked the first time. They are there because we created a vacuum. So what we need is leadership that first says to us, look, we are not going to get in every war, everywhere around the world. We're not going to be in perpetual war.

We need leadership that tell us how are we going to be energy independent, how are we going have a cleaner and greener energy future.


SCHWEITZER: How are we going to invest in education so every family can afford to go to college? Let's listen to what people have to say.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's say, as we're listening to you, let's say you get elected president and what does that mean?

That mean you inherit ObamaCare. Would you, Governor, would you tweak it? Would you overhaul it? Would you shoot for a single payer system that I know a lot of Democrats want?

SCHWEITZER: Is it an overhaul if you take the engine and the transmission out of a pick up and put brand-new ones in? Because that's what it needs.

This bill, it's called ObamaCare. It wasn't written by Obama. This was written by the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies.

It is transferring your tax dollars to insurance companies and it assures pharmaceutical companies that they can continue to sell medicine for three times what they charge everywhere else.

Our problem was we pay too much for health care and we were not getting a good result.

Why don't we attack those costs? We have five times as many procedures in the United States as everywhere else around the world.

Twenty percent of our healthcare dollars go to our insurance companies now, and now we want to give them more?

Listen, we can make our healthcare system more efficient and less costly, but you don't do it by giving more money to the insurance companies.

BALDWIN: Brian Schweitzer, good luck flying, if you are, flying back home to Montana and getting out of New York City.

SCHWEITZER: It's not even cold yet, folks.

BALDWIN: I know you are laughing at all of us. I know it.

Brian Schweitzer, thank you very much, Governor, so, so much for your time.

In just a couple of hours, the U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Janet Yellen as a the next chair of the U.S. Reserve. And we have some pretty fascinating tidbits about her past that may reveal what kind of person she is, including -- come on -- we've got to go all the way back to high school.

Did you know she was the editor of her high school newspaper and she was the valedictorian and that led to a particularly unique article. We will explain that.

And when is an apology not an apology? Actor Shia LaBeouf getting a lot of criticism for his latest tweets.

Hear what he is saying that has many, many people fired up.

Stay here.


BALDWIN: If you are following this, you know that the Shia LaBeouf plagiarism drama is getting stranger by the day.

The actor admitted last month to ripping off another author's work for a short film he did.

He posted a slew of tweets to apologize, including a Gucci Mane- inspired reference to a street drug, and he even hired an airplane to write an apology in the sky.

So, is he being sincere? Is he being sarcastic? That's the question.

LaBeouf isn't offering, actually, much of an explanation for his bizarre behavior.

CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner has details from New York. Nischelle?


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Last month, Shia LaBeouf admitted to ripping off another actor's work for a short film and he posted more than two dozen tweets apologizing to the original author.

While the first seemed sincere and included statements like this where he said, "I was moved by his piece of work and I knew it would make a poignant and relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it."

He continued to apologize by plagiarizing other people's apologies. His tweets have copied apologies from Tiger Woods, Mark Zuckerberg, director Lars von Trier, former defense secretary Robert McNamara, and, most recently, actress Lena Dunham and rapper Gucci Mane.

Some people are calling this a case of performance art, or a parody, an opinion LaBeouf seems to be encouraging by retweeting links to the stories that make that case. And the performance took another turn last week when he had a sky- writer do an apology to the original author. He then tweeted out a photo of that apology written in the sky.

The text that accompanied the picture offered the definitions for the word "cloud," including "to make less clear or transparent."

Perhaps his clearest tweet may have been this one from New Year's Eve where he said, "You have my apologies for offending you for thinking I was being serious instead of accurately realizing I was mocking you."

Of course, that line comes from Eric Erickson of

So, given the online confusion he is still spreading, there is unlike to be clarity or originality from Shia LaBeouf any time soon.

Nischelle Turner, CNN, New York.


BALDWIN: Nischelle, thank you.

Coming up, the NBA wants to go global, but probably did not have this ambassador in mind, you know, Dennis Rodman, taking a team of former NBA players to North Korea.

We now know who is going with him. You will recognize some of the names. We'll talk about the bunch coming up.

Plus, taking a look at the history of a woman who will soon be making decisions that impact your pocketbook, my pocket book.

We're learning about a unique dilemma that faced Janet Yellen way back in high school, and how she solved it may say a thing or two about the soon-to-be chair of the Federal Reserve.


BALDWIN: News today from the Supreme Court, they stepped in today, formally blocked same-sex marriage in Utah.

This is one of many cases that is filtering now through the federal courts as we speak and could eventually shape what marriage looks like from coast to coast.

Jake Tapper is with me now from Washington, host of "THE LEAD," and question number one that I had was, for the last couple of weeks, all these same-sex couples have been getting married, where does that stand?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": We don't know right now.

The attorney general of Utah put out a statement saying, "Utah's office of attorney general is carefully evaluating the legal status of the marriages that were performed since the district court's decision and will not rush to a decision that impacts Utah citizens so personally."

So right now they are studying the issue. And you are right. There are literally hundreds of same-sex couples that got married in Utah after that decision. And their fate as legally married couples hangs in the balance.

BALDWIN: Hangs in the balance. And, of course, the next big question, where does this go next within the judicial system?

Jake Tapper, we will be watching you to tackle that and more on "THE LEAD" in 13 minutes here on CNN. Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me move along and talk about Janet Yellen, because Janet Yellen will soon hold the unofficial title of the most powerful woman in the world.

Janet Yellen, just a couple hours from now, all signs point to her getting confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new chair of the Federal Reserve.

Yellen will be the first woman to hold the post in its 100-year history. This is obviously a huge deal. She replaces Ben Bernanke, takes over efforts to stimulate the economy, reduce unemployment.

CNN personal finance and business correspondent Zain Asher joins me. And I love this little nugget that was found today.

We talk about -- I feel like so much of what a person is, ultimately, you have to go back to where they were in high school.


BALDWIN: And this is fascinating about how she had to interview herself for the paper. Explain.

ASHER: Janet Yellen right is about to crack probably the highest glass ceiling in America.

But looking at her high school years, she was both valedictorian and the editor of the school newspaper.

Now her high school had (inaudible) whereby the editor of the paper would have to interview the valedictorian.

And since Janet Yellen held both titles, she ended up interviewing herself.

BALDWIN: Hello, Janet Yellen, how do you feel about this?

Well --

ASHER: Yeah, basically. Basically.

So, it's interesting to look at, because you sort of get a sense of how she views herself and a sense of how she really feels about herself.

She does not shy away from sort of promoting herself, from sort of listing her accolades. She describes herself -- this is sort of tongue-in-cheek, but I'm quoting. She says -- she describes herself as "a versatile, attractive and talented senior."

And I think this is interesting in professional settings, Brooke, women sometimes have a hard time promoting themselves.

And in an area like economics where you have to be able to argue, you've got to be able to sort of stand your ground and defend your policies, you need that confidence and that strength of character.

I actually reached out to a woman who went to Yale with Janet Yellen. And I asked her, what was this woman like? What was she like as a person?

She said to me that, even on campus, even back then, you said the name Janet Yellen on campus, everybody knew who you were talking about.


ASHER: I know. So, she had a professor, Nobel laureate James Tobin, and Tobin named Janet Yellen his t.a. And that role was so highly coveted that she sort of became a mini-celebrity on campus.

And then now, you look at the rest of her resume, from vice chair to sort of heading this Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, professor at Harvard, you name it.

If you were going to create the perfect training school for the head of the Federal Reserve, I think Janet Yellen would definitely be it.

BALDWIN: Hopefully, as she breaks this proverbial glass ceiling, she'll be helping other women up as we all need to be doing, helping the other women, bring them up.

Zain Asher, thank you very much.

Coming up next, Dennis Rodman, he goes to North Korea, again, but this time he took his former NBA buddies with him. And it's quite a squad, let me tell you.

Plus, the incredible story behind this picture and who this person is.


BALDWIN: A man who disappeared on New Year's Day has been found alive and his mother is calling this a miracle.

A photographer just happened to be walking by, snapped this photograph of Nicholas Simmons trying to stay warm on a heating grate in Washington, D.C.

His mother and friends in upstate New York recognized him in the newspaper, found out where the photo was snapped. The family staked out the location for hours on Sunday and Simmons showed up and was reunited with his family.

We have pictures now of Dennis Rodman arriving today in north Korea. There he is.

As we said, he's taking a team of former ball players to help Kim Jong-un celebrate his birthday.

Rodman and Kim, you know the deal. They have got this Bizarro friendship going.

And Kim, by the way, turns 31 on Wednesday, birthday coming up.

So, having recently executed his uncle, who was considered his father figure, just keep that in mind, background, Kim's dictator include a nuclear weapon and 60 percent of his people exists on communist rations of dry corn and rice.

Dennis Rodman, on the other hand, reportedly dined pretty well at his last soiree in North Korea.

He maintains no agenda here, none at all, just basketball and his friendship with the dictator, Kim.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm going over there, do my thing, try to interact with him on that form of love for sports.

He loves sports. I like the guy. The guy's awesome to me. And that's about it. No more.


BALDWIN: With us now from Shelter Island, New York, sports columnist and NBA analyst Peter Vecsey. Peter, welcome.

PETER VECSEY, SPORTS COLUMNIST: Thank you very much for having me.

BALDWIN: We want to talk about the band of NBA players in a minute. Dennis Rodman, do you think he the gets the fact that the cross dressing, tattoos, does he get the fact that Kim Jong-un doesn't even let his own people do these things?

VECSEY: Probably doesn't enter his mind. He's always been a strange guy. He is what he is on the court and off the court.

Who wouldn't want the most decorated player with the tats and the body rings and he's probably ripped up as well, who wouldn't want him representing the United States.

BALDWIN: Right, right.

Peter, let me take you through some of all stars, Cliff Robinson, Kenny Anderson had a DUI last spring, lost a coaching job for it. Craig sued the NBA for blackballing him.

Here's my question to you. Why go to North Korea? What's in it for these guys?

BALDWIN: We all know what's in it. It's a payday. I'm sure that's the bottom line here. I don't think they would be going just to see the 38 parallel.

Some people would like to see that. I think it's pretty obvious, money.

BALDWIN: How much money, do we have any clue?

VECSEY: No, I don't know how much. All these guys that you mentioned probably need it. I know for sure some of them do. They haven't had many paydays.

As you mentioned about Kenny, he and I went to the same high school in Queens, had the same coach. Very proud of Kenny.

He just got let go, as you said, because of the DUI. It wasn't his first.

These guys are hurting in many ways. They want to get in the spotlight again, also.

BALDWIN: They are in the spotlight. We're talking about it.

Who is paying them? Is it Dennis Rodman? Come to North Korea and I'll give you some money?

VECSEY: It's the bookmaker that's putting the money behind it. What is it, Patty something, took their name off this whole thing, but he's still living up to his financial obligations.

So, he's footing the bill or his company is footing the bill, I'm sure.

The good news is, no Madonna on this trip.

BALDWIN: No Madonna on this trip.

We'll be watching for the photo op. Peter Vecsey, thank you very much.

It is the game for all the marbles. Just a couple of hours from now, number one ranked Florida State will take on number two Auburn in this year's college football championship game.

It has been dubbed "Dominance Versus Destiny." Florida State has dominated each of its opponents while Auburn has used a couple miraculous endings -- easy for me to say -- to eke out some big wins.

Neither team was ranked very high when the season started and because of that fans may be able to cash in if they predict their team's success. Joe Carter from CNN Sports is covering the game for us. And, Joe, betting on a long shot may actually pay off for some of these fans, right?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS: Yeah, exactly, Brooke.

Let me explain the story here. Basically, at the beginning of this college football season, nobody thought that the Auburn Tigers would be playing for the national championship because of how poorly they finished last season.

So Las Vegas several sports books gave them crazy odds. It was a 1,000-to-one odds of them winning the national title.

So these Las Vegas sports books said that they sold 14 tickets ranging in about a $10 bet to about a $100 bet for them to win a national championship, so that basically means that whoever had those tickets out there could win anywhere from $10,000 if they win tonight to $100,000 on a $10 to $100 bet, which is crazy when you think about it.

And Florida State, the number one team in the country, they do come in tonight as the heavy favorite, a 10-point favorite and all that.

So there are a few Auburn Tiger fans out there right now very much wanting to see their team win tonight, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, and then what about ticket prices? You think of a championship game, you think that the ticket price should be huge, but I'm hearing it's surprisingly low, right?

CARTER: Yeah, and I don't want to make it out that there's no interest in this game.

It's because of the size of stadium and the distance of travel, basically. You're looking at about 2,000-miles-plus for each school to get here to Pasadena.

And, also, the Rose Bowl is 93,000 people here, whereas last year in Miami, it's about 75,000, 76,000.

So ticket prices ranging from about $300 to $800, whereas last year, they were going for about $1,500 a ticket.

So, if you're in the Pasadena area and you want to take in the game, you can get a pretty decent ticket.

BALDWIN: Come on by! Come on down to Pasadena.

Joe Carter, enjoy it. Enjoy the game. Thank you so much.

And before I let you go, I just wanted to remember Jerry Coleman today, a Hall of Fame baseball announcer with the San Diego Padres.

He was the 1949 Rookie of the Year, won four World Series titles with the New York Yankees. Along the way, Coleman flew 120 air combat missions in both World War II and Korea, the only Major Leaguer ever to see combat in two wars, baseball star, Hall of Fame broadcaster, American war hero.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.