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New Polls Show Christie Drop; Obama To Meet Pope Francis; Russians Hunt "Black Widow" Terrorists; Antarctic-Stranded Scientists Finally Reach Australia; "Super Bowl Indicator" for Stock Market

Aired January 21, 2014 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just past the bottom of the hour, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

It is a unique partnership, pairing two people on very different sides of the political spectrum.

But Bill Clinton and the man he defeated in that 1992 presidential election, George H. W. Bush, have formed a very tight bond since leaving the White House.

And now in this new interview with C-SPAN, Barbara Bush talks about why she thinks her husband and Clinton are so close.


BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: My husband, Bill Clinton and I have become great friends.

I think that he thinks of George a little bit like the father he didn't have. And he's very loving to him. And I really appreciate that.

I love Bill Clinton. Maybe not his politics, but I love Bill Clinton.


BALDWIN: Clinton and Bush have teamed up to work on humanitarian issues over the past decade.

One was "Time's" person of the year in 2012 and the other in 2013. Now we're learning the two will meet and the world will be watching. What will President Obama and the pope talk about? The top three potential conversation topics here, coming up next.

Plus, remember the people stranded in Antarctica over Christmas and new year's? Well, minutes ago, the ship that rescued them has finally reached land. We're live from the dock with more of their long and dramatic voyage.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Governor.


BALDWIN: That was the scene in Trenton, New Jersey, today, Governor Chris Christie taking the oath of office for the second term.

How's this for a question today? What are the chances Chris Christie completes this full term?

Keep in mind Chris Christie has huge ambitions. Should he run for the White House and win, he would be inaugurated three years from yesterday. That's best case for Chris Christie.

Worst case, of course, is the fact that he could be drummed out of Trenton in scandal.

Take a look at this, rotten news for Chris Christie, a poll released shortly after noon today. The question, Would Christie make a good president? And you see the number on the top. Thirty-five percent answered yes.

But keep in mind, that is actually down 15 points from November when that scandal involving alleged political payback erupted in Christie's backyard.

More numbers for you. Look at this. A separate national poll, also new today, finds that nearly six in 10 Americans, 58 percent, do not believe Christie that he did not know his aides were plotting those traffic jams last summer on that George Washington Bridge, apparently to punish an enemy.

Jake Tapper, host of "THE LEAD," joins me live from Trenton. And, Jake, today, zero mention of scandal in the governor's speech, pretty high-minded stuff for the most part.

Let's take a quick listen.


CHRISTIE: We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes that the media pundits put us in.

We have to be willing to reach out to others who look or speak differently than us.

We have to be willing to personally reach out a helping hand to a neighbor or friend, suffering from drug addiction or depression or the dignity stripping loss of a job.


BALDWIN: So that was part of his speech.

Let me just show one more poll here, really reflecting the damage from the scandal.

Fifty percent of those questioned, this is by Quinnipiac University, say the scandal hurt Christie, and now he loses a head-on match with Hillary Clinton by eight points, whereas before the scandal, it was pretty much a dead heat.

So now all of this news, Jake Tapper, on a pretty important day for this man, not the news he wanted.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": No. It hasn't been the news he wanted. It hasn't been the last couple weeks hasn't gone the way he's wanted at all.

What he wanted, what he was hoping for, for this month, would be a month where he can show the nation taking center stage in a national way who he is and the image that he wanted to portray of somebody who was bipartisan, who got things done here in a blue state with a Democratic state senate and the Democratic legislature.

And, of course, everything that has been undercut by these accusations of potential corruption, according to the mayor of Hoboken, political vengeance. Everything that has gone against what he's been pitching himself as.

He was pitching himself as the Republican who can win over independents and some Democrats, and that was the case in his re- election in November.

But now you see his unfavorable ratings skyrocketing among those groups, doubling in a year.

Not the kind of month he wanted, no.

BALDWIN: So in a word, no. And now that we have the new poll numbers out, we've had first the subpoenas served.

Here's what I'm wondering. Do you think it has to get worse for him before it gets better?

TAPPER: Well, I definitely don't think that this is over, because obviously, we have the subpoenas. There's going to be testimony before this joint state assembly committee investigating the matter.

And to be frank, the governor needs to come out and talk more about other allegations that have come forward.

He gave that very long press conference after the "Bridgegate" scandal happened on the day that he fired two top aides who seem to be implicated in those emails and text messages that were released.

But since then, there have been other accusations from the mayor of Hoboken and others, other questions, and he needs to talk about that. And I think one of Chris Christie's greatest strengths has been his ability to talk candidly and bluntly. That's what's got him as far as he's gotten. And we haven't really seen that since that press conference a couple weeks ago, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Jake Tapper, we'll see you in Trenton for your show live at the top of the hour. Try to stay warm there, my friend.

Meantime, President Obama and Pope Francis, they have scheduled their very first face-to-face meeting. President Obama travels to Europe at the end of March with a stop at the Vatican on March 27th.

The president is said to be looking forward to discussing their shared commitment in fighting inequality, and that's a big issue for this pope.

A papal emissary today told the financial elite at the Davos Economic Summit to "ensure humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.

Virtually all recent presidents -- we dug through these old pictures -- they have met with the pope, often more than once.

Jimmy Carter meeting with John Paul II, this was back in 1980. Ronald Reagan and John Paul held one of their meetings in Miami in 1987. And President Obama did meet with Pope Benedict a couple years ago, July of '09.

Daniel Burke joins me now. He is the co-editor of the CNN Belief Blog.

And, goodness, what a fun trip to get to cover and to be a fly on the wall. What do you think they'll discuss?

DANIEL BURKE, CO-EDITOR, CNN BELIEF BLOG: Well, we polled a bunch of our top Catholic sources and top political sources. Time and time again, three big topics came up.

President Obama has called Pope Francis a "soulful messenger" on this topic. He's quoted him on a speech on income inequality.

Number two, people say the peace in the Middle East, and particularly in Syria. As we know, John Kerry is working on hammering out a permanent peace solution between Israel and Palestinians.

A papal endorsement of that peace deal would be a huge game-changer, people say. The pope is expected, of course, to visit the Holy Land himself in May.

And number three is an area where you might find some disagreement between Pope Francis and President Obama, and that's the ObamaCare's controversial contraceptive mandate.

Now, the bishops and other church groups are fiercely fighting that in court, and in the realm of public opinion.

The Vatican's new secretary of state brought that up with John Kerry at a meeting last week and we can expect that to be on the agenda again, the meeting between President Obama and Pope Francis. BALDWIN: You know, it's obvious to realize that of course the president's meeting with Pope Benedict will be different from the current pope, the very different popes.

When you think of Pope Francis, he's known to be -- he's a little unpredictable, this man. He embraced the man with the facial deformity. He invited the homeless man to his birthday party.

What should President Obama be prepared for?

BURKE: Well, you know, Pope Francis has certainly kept me on my toes as a member of the media.

BALDWIN: And we appreciate that. It's fun to cover.

BURKE: He's really fun to cover. If I was President Obama, I would say expect the unexpected.

People have described him as fairly feisty, so I would expect him to get down to the weeds, really talk about nuts and bolts stuff with Obama, maybe press him on issues like releasing the debt for countries in the developing world.

So it's really tough to predict, but I think that this pope really wants to talk about substantial stuff and not just have a ceremonial meeting.

BALDWIN: Daniel Burke, we'll be looking for it march 27th there at the Vatican.

Some more breaking news for you, at this hour, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife charged in a scandal involving money, involving gifts.

Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns. Joe, we know now former, but by a couple weeks.


We've now got a couple sources confirming that the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, and his wife Maureen have been indicted on charges of accepting illegal gifts.

Now, those charges were filed in Richmond, Virginia, just today. This past summer, Bob McDonnell had said he intended to ride out his days as governor, which he did, but there was a swirl of controversy surrounding him and his family. It wasn't easy.

The prosecutors were picking apart all of these questions about gifts, $150,000 in gifts and loans, other things of value from a guy named Johnny Williams, who was the CEO of a dietary supplement company that was called Star Scientific.

These alleged gifts also included $15,000 paid to a former chef at Virginia's executive mansion named Todd Schneider to cater the wedding of a McDonnell daughter. Schneider came under investigation by the state police for taking food from the mansion and ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of embezzlement.

That wasn't the beginning of his problems. A whole host of questions involving him and his wife apparently have now ended up in an indictment, and we are at this stage still looking to see the language and what specifically is charged with, but we do know it involves an allegation of accepting illegal gifts, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I know you'll be working it tonight. We'll look for information here on the now former governor of Virginia and wife indicted. Joe, thank you very much.

Coming up next, the Super Bowl, all of two weeks away, and guess what. The winner may indicate how well the stock market will do this year. We'll explain that.

Plus, they were stranded in Antarctica for weeks, and minutes ago, that ship that rescued them reached land.

Live pictures from Australia right now, we're live at the dock with more on their long and dramatic voyage.


BALDWIN: As thousands of Americans prepare to head to Russia for the Winter Games, officials in the Olympic city of Sochi are hunting potential terrorists.

Take a look. This is them. These are the so-called "Black Widows," part of Russia's extremist female terrorist group.

Oftentimes, they're seeking to avenge the deaths of their husbands, and wanted flyers are now being passed out, scattered across hotels in and around Sochi.

Christiane Amanpour set down with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and asked him about security, specifically at the Olympic Winter Games.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me start by asking you about the Sochi Olympics.

This is a moment of great pride for Russia, great anticipation for the world's athletes.

And yet you have a major security threat, a major security alert that your government and security forces have stated.

Can you tell me what you know about this threat? How dangerous is it?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER (via translator): On public events, there are always some threats, not only in this country but also in others.

In this country, they have some specific nature and consequences. Definitely we are aware of that and we will take that into account during the Olympics.

I'm referring to the mobilization, build-up of police forces, and we want -- policemen will watch the process of the games.


BALDWIN: You heard Medvedev repeat this message from Russia, basically saying, we've got this.

But in the event Russia cannot handle the security situation, the U.S. now has this evacuation plan that includes warships in the Black Sea to get Americans out.

Some special first steps about to get under way, remember those passengers stuck in the ice at the South Pole? They are now on board this ship docked in Hobart, Australia.

Minutes to go, they are about to touch land for the very first time in weeks.

You remember back on the second of this month, this chopper rescued them from this research vessel and brought them to the Aurora Australis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The helicopter is here to take us home. Thanks, everyone.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, live from the dock, Samantha Brett from Sky News Australia.

And, Samantha, I cannot believe they've been at sea this entire time. Have you seen them yet?

SAMANTHA BRETT, SKY NEWS REPORTER: Brooke, we have seen sign of them. They're very excited. They arrived here in Hobart to sunny skies and warm weather.

They have been tweeting, actually, saying that they are loving the weather, of course. They've been in Antarctica in freezing conditions.

They actually got on the Russian vessel on the 28th of November and they have been at sea that entire time.

They did run into trouble on Christmas Eve, as you said. They were then stuck in thick ice and treacherous conditions and they had to wait eight days to be rescued by a helicopter which was on board a Chinese ice breaker, which was in the vicinity. That was after three failed rescue attempts from ice breakers from France, China, and even the Aurora Australis, which is behind me, couldn't even break through that thick ice.

So, that helicopter rescue mission was a grueling mission. It took seven hours and they had to ferry twelve passengers at a time onto the Aurora Australis.

It has steadily been making its way here to Hobart for the past two weeks, and, yes, relief finally for these passengers.

And we will meet them in a couple of hours when they finally get off the vessel.


BALDWIN: We see all of the camera crews readying for the big picture when they finally hit land.

Samantha Brett for us in Australia, Samantha, thank you very much.

Do you have a pick for Super Bowl? Because the winner could be an indication of how the stock market will perform this year.

The unique trend that is 80 percent accurate, next.


BALDWIN: In case you're just joining us, I just wanted to update breaking news out of Texas, because three bodies, a body of a man and two small children were found in a home at the Fort Hood Army base.

Investigators are not releasing a lot of information at this point in time, but they do say there is no more threat.

Again, bodies found at this Fort Hood Army base at this location, working to get more information, stay tuned to CNN for that.

Question for you, what is a perfect March Madness bracket worth? How about $1 billion?

Apparently Warren Buffett thinks so, at least. He's teamed up with the founder of Quicken Loans to offer fans a shot at becoming a billionaire, and the offer is this.

If you fill out a flawless NCAA men's basketball March Madness bracket, you get the billion bucks. You're wondering your chances of filling out the perfect bracket? It is 1-in-9.2 quintrillion. A lot of zeroes there, quintrillion.

Now, the odds of guessing the Super Bowl winner is a little bit better, one in two. The Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, February 2nd at Met Life's stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

But you might want to be careful about which team you root for, because it could actually affect your retirement portfolio. You heard me right, your retirement.

CNN's Alison Kosik is live for us at the New York Stock Exchange, giggling over this, and I'm wondering, football, my money, football, I don't get it.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, some may say, look, this is a big stretch, but there is this longstanding tradition of sorts on Wall Street. It's called the "Super Bowl Indicator." Ever hear of it?


KOSIK: It's all about which team wins. So basically, here's how it goes. The Dow will post an annual gain if the NFC team wins. This year, it's the Seattle Seahawks.

So you may want to root for them. Wall Street loves stuff like this. There's a lot of predictors that Wall Street goes about.

There's the January barometer which says the first month of the year will predict what house stocks do for the year, sell in May and go away, which means the market doesn't do well during the summer, on and on and on.

So bottom line here, if you believe in this stuff, go for the Seattle Seahawks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I can hear Bronco fans just grumbling and saying, this can't be true.

I imagine the theory has been tested. How often does it actually happen?

KOSIK: OK, so here's the thing. It's right about 80 percent of the time.

But be careful here. Analysts say, look, it may just be a coincidence. It could be random.

Really, think about it. The biggest implication for your portfolio is how the economy is doing.

So, you know, these days that really depends on what the Fed is doing, what the stimulus program as well. It depends on those economic indicators that we report on, you know, the hard data, but it's fun to talk about it anyway, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Super bowl indicator, who would have thunk?

Alison Kosik, thank you.

And, before I let you go, this is video you just -- I have to show you, because you just don't see this often.

You see this skier trigger the avalanche that buries him. Here it comes. I just got butterflies. Skier Lance Light had a camera attached to his helmet. That's why we can actually see what we're seeing here.

They saw the new-fallen snowfall hadn't had time to compact, hence the avalanche. He's OK, but we get video from him, instead. Pretty cool stuff.

Hey, thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Brooke Baldwin. I will see you back here tomorrow.

And now for "THE LEAD," we go Jake Tapper, live in Trenton, New Jersey. Jake?