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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Storm Moves through Country; President Obama Meets with House Democrats; Hillary Clinton versus Media Hypocrites?; Olympic Speed Skater Suit Controversy; Russian President Visits U.S. House
Aired February 14, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, HOST: Happening now, travel danger and delays on busy highways and at major airports -- an epic winter storm is causing chaos. And now, even more paralyzing snow is on the way.
Plus, Hillary Clinton versus the media -- CNN examines previously unseen documents that expose her angry reaction to negative coverage.
And Olympic uproar -- U.S. speed skaters are blaming their poor performance on the racing suits that were supposed to give them an advantage. We'll have the latest from Sochi.
Wolf Blitzer is off.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Well, one of the most miserable winters in memory is getting even worse. A new snowstorm is moving through the Midwest and headed to the snowed under Northeast. At least 16 people have died in this snowpocalypse that's hammered a third of the nation. Many roads are perilous. A massive 100 car pileup that shut down the Pennsylvania Turnpike for hours appears to have been weather-related.
We're also seeing more gridlock at airports. More than 13,000 flights have been canceled in the U.S. this week, including hundreds more today.
We have team coverage of the extreme weather and this travel chaos.
First to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, who's joining us live now from Reagan National Airport, outside of Washington.
What's it like there -- Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, if this line is any indication, you can see how bad it has been. Yesterday was the single worst day for air travel yet this season. So today, all of this is the hangover.
SERFATY (voice-over): This is what the day after looks like. The wake of this storm for travelers just brutal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been bumped about, this will be about the second or third time.
I'm trying to quit counting.
SERFATY: More than 6,500 flights were canceled Thursday, over 1100 flights today.
DON DILLMAN: That's what was necessary because this storm was so broad and impacted so many key cities. And so that's really why those numbers get so big.
SERFATY: Add to that thousands of delays. Patience wore thin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our original flight was earlier this morning and it was delayed, and still is, apparently. But they won't let us get a ticket because our connecting flight in Philadelphia is probably going to be rescheduled. So we're in a line to actually talk to an agent.
SERFATY: From Charlotte and Newark, hit with the most cancellations, to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC, thousands are still stranded today, with no idea when they could get home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The circumstances are not preferred, but they are what they are. And I'll tell you what, this is, to a certain extent, deluxe accommodations for the circumstances I'm dealing with right now.
SERFATY: As the sun came up this morning, airports were still working to clear snow from the runways and airlines still working to clear boards like this.
DILLMAN: The biggest sin that you can have on a big event like this is take a -- let a one day event become a two day event or a two day event become a three day event when the weather doesn't really drive that.
SERFATY: Passengers who spent the night at the airport are still waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took time off from work. I'm going out to San Francisco for Valentine's Day. And it's pretty much over with.
SERFATY: One thing flying freely, anger on social media. One irate passenger Tweeted, quote, "Stop canceling flights, Philly airport."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm supposed to officiate my sister's wedding. And so it's a -- and it was a small wedding, but still, it was like incredibly emotional not to be able to be there.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SERFATY: And so much of that frustration is because this winter has already been so bad for travelers. And it's cost them big, nearly $3 billion this season alone -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Sunlen Serfaty for us at National Airport.
Now, let's get a weather and travel forecast with CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers.
He's in our Severe Weather Center -- Chad, why are so many airports still so backed up?
We heard Sunlen calling it the hangover.
CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it is, because all the pilots that are there may not be with the equipment that they need to fly. Pilots are assigned and classified and qualified on certain planes. A if a DC-9 is sitting there and you've got an MD-88 pilot there, they can't fly those two planes. It's -- it all goes back to where the pilots needed to be and why they didn't get there. They didn't get to where they wanted to be because the flight that was supposed to take them to Atlanta didn't go to Atlanta.
So now there's a plane there, but there's no one to fly it.
There are 6,400 planes in the sky. Don't get me wrong. There are 28,000 flights on a regular day, about 2,000 -- or even less than that -- canceled today. So we're still flying more than 90 percent of the flights on this board right now.
But because we had so many planes that were canceled and so many people that were supposed to be on those planes and so many planes that only have three empty seats on any given day, if you can imagine a million people trying to get to that one or those three seats and then the next three seats and the next three seats, it takes a very long time. It doesn't matter how many planes you have in the sky, it really just takes forever to -- if you have a 95 percent full plane and you just lost the 95 percent full plane, all of a sudden, you're not going anywhere. It's going to take a long time to get all those people back on the next planes.
Cincinnati is seeing some snow now. Indianapolis is seeing some snow, all the way back, with rain showers now into parts of Kentucky.
This is the forecast you were talking about, this snowstorm that's still coming. It is all the way back -- eventually all the way even into New York City. But I do believe that the heaviest snow with this is going to be Boston. It's going to be all the way on up into parts of New England and also into Nova Scotia.
This is not what I would consider a major storm.
Plus, it's hitting on a Saturday. So that's some good news there, as the storm goes on by. Here comes -- here comes the snow through New York City. A couple of snow showers here into parts of Pennsylvania. But there's your bull's eye. That's a foot of snow for the Cape, a foot of snow right there, all the way to Chatham. The heaviest snowfall stays away from New York City this time -- Brianna.
KEILAR: We'll take it on the weekend, though, Chad Myers.
Thank you so much.
And now to that 100 car pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the traffic jam that's is still going on. It's been going on for hours and hours now.
CNN's Margaret Conley is on the Turnpike right outside of Philadelphia.
What's the latest -- Margaret?
MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it's been a chaotic scene since 8:00 this morning. We were actually caught up in it. We were heading east on the Turnpike here from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and there was a mass pileup.
We learned later that there were 20 separate accidents at least that contributed to this pileup. It was very difficult for emergency vehicles to get up through the traffic to try to get those people out that were injured, because this turnpike has very few exit and on ramps.
We do know that 30 people, at least, were injured, five of them seriously. We just came back from the hospital where those five patients were taken. We heard that one person was admitted unconscious, but he has since regained unconsciousness. And we have some sound here from another accident victim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I started watching cars pile up ahead of me. I came to a complete stop. And then I looked in my rearview mirror and there was a big Moyer truck right behind me. And he wasn't -- he was trying to stop, but he was sliding. And he slammed right into the back of me, which then made me slam into the car in front of me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONLEY: Now, I just got off the phone with another hospital victim who was recently discharged. He said what he saw -- all he saw were brake lights. And then he saw a wall of cars. He said his head hit the steering wheel and now the left side of his body is feeling numb. He's a bit shaken up. But he says that he's going to be OK.
The one thing, he had a positive outlook. He did say that everyone around was pitching in and trying to help. He had to climb out of the back of his car, because his car door was smashed in so hard, he couldn't open it. The trunk of his car was totally smashed in, as well, so he couldn't move the car. But everyone was pitching in.
We also heard that there was a woman that was handing out sandwiches to other people who were stuck in traffic. So that's the positive thing that has come out of this, if there is anything. We do know that an investigation is on the way right now. They've removed the cars from the scene to a separate location. They're going to track how many cars were involved and what the actual cause of this accident was through the weekend -- Brianna.
KEILAR: So scary, Margaret, but good to see a lot of people checking on their neighbors there on the road.
Margaret Conley for us.
And next, President Obama gives a pep talk to House Democrats, but lets Joe Biden throw out the red meat.
And U.S. speed skaters make it official -- they want to get rid of the racing suits that they believe are slowing them down. CNN's Rachel Nichols will have the latest from Sochi.
KEILAR: President Obama is taking something of a victory lap, I guess you could say. At a meeting with House Democrats today, he praised his party for sticking it out on the debt ceiling fight and touted his administration's new ObamaCare enrollment numbers.
CNN's Athena Jones is at the White House with more on this.
What did we hear from him -- Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the speech today by the president was part pep rally and part a recap of the policy proposals that he spelled out in his State of the Union Address last month.
As you mentioned, he celebrated the fact that Congress passed this bill to raise the debt ceiling this week. And he praised Democrats for sticking together on that issue and also for staying united in the face of all of these Republican attempts -- repeated Republican attempts to weaken ObamaCare.
Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I just want to thank all of you for hanging in there tough on an issue that, I think, 10 years from now, five years from now, we're going to look back and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Now, the president pointed to a positive enrollment numbers this week, saying it showed his administration had, quote, "Slightly exceeded its targets for January."
In January, 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance on the state and federal exchanges and that brings the total since October to 3.1 million people. He touched on a couple more topics.
The president called on Democrats to keep fighting to raise the minimum wage and he also said they should keep fighting to pass a bill that would overhaul the country's immigration system. He wants to see that done before the midterm elections in November. We know that House speaker, John Boehner, would prefer to tackle that issue after the midterm elections. And the president also brought up immigration reform in that interview today with Univision on the radio.
He said that he believes it will get done before his presidency is over, immigration reform, but he'd like to get it done today. I'm sorry this year, I should say -- Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This year. And some people might say he might have as much of a chance this year as he were getting it done today, Athena. But you know, it's interesting, because if the president was kind of cheerleading in trying to make Democrats feel a little better, some of whom are certainly concerned in this midterm election year. It was Vice President Biden who was really the attack dog today. What did he say?
JONES: That's right. And it's not that unusual to have someone else besides the president, especially a vice president, Vice President Biden who delivered the red meat. And so, he spoke to the same group, these House Democrats, a couple of hours before the president. He shucked a much more partisan tone. He said that the democrats should keep aggressively pushing their agenda.
And like no time before, now is the first time in a long time that middle class Americans have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Democrat's policy, ideas. And he says it's divisions in the Republican Party that are blocking progress. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There isn't a Republican Party. I wish there were. I wish there was a Republican Party. I wish there was one person who could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise, and know when you got up from that table it was done. That's what political parties -- that's what Nancy's able to do.
That's what the president is able to commit to. But there is -- all you had to do is look at the response of the state of the union, whether three or four. No, I'm not being facetious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Jones: And so, there you heard some pretty strong words there from the vice president and it will be interesting to see if that's a theme we hear from a lot more from the president and from others in the administration, sort of speaking plainly about what they see going on in the Republican Party -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Athena Jones, thank you so much.
And coming up, federal judges across the country are overturning state's bands on same-sex marriage. We will show you how some states are fighting back.
And some speed skaters are blaming their poor performances on their uniforms, but Under Armour is fighting back.
KEILAR: New Mexico, and Kentucky, Oklahoma, and New Jersey across the country, federal judges are striking down state same-sex marriage bans and creating a messy patch work of marriage laws. And you can now add Virginia to that list. Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, has the details of that case.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The challenge to Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was brought by two men who were denied a marriage license.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are no different than anybody else out here. We just want the opportunity to be recognized the same way everyone else is and to have the same benefits that married couples have now.
JOHNS: And two Virginia women whose marriage was formalized in California but is not being recognized in the commonwealth.
MARY TOWNLEY, PLAINTIFF: As parents, we want the best for our daughter and we know that it would mean a lot to her if our family was treated just like every other family. We want that for all Virginians no matter who they are and who they love.
JOHNS: The ruling by federal judge, Arenda Wright Allen, an appointee of President Obama, confronts a question unanswered by the Supreme Court, whether the constitution guarantees equal protection for same-sex marriage. Allen writes, "The declaration of independence declares that all men are created equal. Surely, this means all of us."
In Kentucky this week, a federal judge ruled the state must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states but did not address Kentucky's own same-sex marriage ban. Seventeen states recognize same-sex marriage, six other states that restricted are in flux, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia.
In flux because of recent federal court rulings or politicians who have refused to enforce the restrictions. The newly sworn in governor and attorney general of Virginia, both Democrats, are among them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marriage is a fundamental right protected by the United States constitution.
JOHNS (on-camera): It's an issue most likely to be decided right here at the United States Supreme Court. Virginia is in focus because the case for marriage equality there was argued by two Washington super lawyers, Ted Olsen and David Boies.
(voice-over) They recently challenged and won a California same- sex marriage case before the Supreme Court. Their opponents say the courts are overstepping their bounds.
BRIAN BROWN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORG FOR MARRIAGE: There is not a due process or equal protection right to redefine the very nature of what marriage is. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
JOHNS: Opponents of same-sex marriage are fighting back, even pushing laws to protect those who object to making wedding cakes for gay couples. State lawmakers in Kansas have drafted a bill that would protect people who refuse goods and services to same-sex couples.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
KEILAR: Virginia has banned same-sex marriages since 2006 and as Joe Johns reported, many residents, they are outraged that a federal judge has overturned a law they passed by 57 percent at the ballot box.
And joining me now, Mark Herring, Virginia attorney general as well as CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. First question to you, attorney general, and I want for you to address some of the criticism that has come from some folks in Virginia when it comes to this ruling. Some people are saying, hey, we voted for this, we went, you know, we cast our ballots, and now, our will is being ignored. What do you say to that criticism?
MARK HERRING, (D) VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, the ruling is a victory for equality in Virginia. It's a ruling for the constitution. And, you know, when I decided a few weeks ago that in presenting the state's legal position, I had concluded after a thorough and rigorous review that Virginia's ban on marriage for same- sex couples violated the 14th Amendment, equal protection and due process clauses.
And, you know, I took an oath to support both the United States and Virginia constitutions. And as we all are taught at a very young age, when there's a conflict between the two, the U.S. Constitution prevails. It is the supreme law of the land.
KEILAR: And certainly, this is something that we're seeing other states do, including more conservative states that you might not expect this to happen there. What is your expectation here? Do you think that this will go all the way to the Supreme Court?
HERRING: You know, I don't know whether this particular case will be the one that the Supreme Court decides to take or whether it will be one of the other ones from Oklahoma or Utah or another state. But certainly, it's one that the Supreme Court is going to need to rule on definitively and we're seeing the legal landscape change very quickly, following the Windsor and Proposition 8 cases decided.
During the summer last year, a round of cases were filed following that in a number of states. This is one of them. And it's one that ultimately it's going to have to be decided by the court.
KEILAR: No. And to that point, I want to bring in Jeff Toobin, because I know this is something you've been following, Jeff.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it really is remarkable. The law usually doesn't move very quickly. But since June, when the Windsor case was decided, which struck down the defense of Marriage Act, three states have declared -- three federal judges in three states have declared that same-sex marriage is required on to the constitution, in Virginia, as we've heard, and in Utah, and in Oklahoma.
And two more states, Kentucky and Ohio, judges there have said those states which don't have same-sex marriage have to honor marriages that were conducted in states that do have same-sex marriage. That is lightning change. There are 46 cases pending in 25 states. So, the legal landscape on this subject is changing very, very quickly.
KEILAR: And what do you think about that, attorney general, when you look at the fact that no federal judge has ruled in favor? The trend appears to be what we're seeing -- the trend is what we're seeing and what we've just seen in Virginia.
HERRING: Well, it's consistent with the analysis that I made when I first came into office knowing this case was pending, knowing it was going to be one of the first decisions we made. And the landscape is changing, but the principles behind it are principles that have existed for a long, long time in this country, the equality of right principle.
You know, that's the principle and one of the reasons why I felt it was important to present the commonwealth position the way I did was because of Virginia's unique history on some key landmark civil rights decisions where Virginia argued on the wrong side of Brown versus board of education on school's desegregation, argued on the wrong side of the loving versus Virginia interracial marriage ban, argued on the wrong side of allowing female cadets admission to state- supported Virginia military institute.
And so, you know, the principle behind this is the same. It's the equality of right principle. What is changing very rapidly is people's perception as well as the court's perception of how that equality principle applies to same-sex marriages.
KEILAR: And Jeff, you've been following all of these cases. I know you may have a question for the attorney general.
TOOBIN: Well, I guess the question is, when do you think the Supreme Court will get this? Obviously, I think you're right that the Supreme Court will take up this issue, but no appellate courts yet have addressed it. When do you think? What year? This year, next year, the following year the Supreme Court will get the case?
HERRING: It's difficult to predict. I suspect probably sometime next year. What I think will happen in this case -- and first of all, it's important for people to know that in addition to Judge Allen Wright ruling that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, she also granted an injunction, but issued a stay. So, Virginia's ban will remain in force pending the appeal. The legal arguments have all been argued orally.
They've been presented in written briefs at the district court level. So, when it gets up to the fourth circuit court of appeals, I feel confident and we're certainly going to work towards this to get an agreement for an accelerated briefing schedule, because the arguments have all been made. I don't expect they will change dramatically in the circuit court. And so, we're going to work toward getting expeditious and an appellate review as possible.
KEILAR: All right. Attorney general of Virginia, Mark Herring, thanks for being with us. And also to Jeff Toobin, our senior legal analyst.
HERRING: Thank you for inviting me.
KEILAR: Now, next, Hillary Clinton talks about having a tough skin, but documents examined by CNN capture a moment in history when she railed against hypocrites.
And did their racing suits drag them down or was it something else, perhaps? We'll have a live report from Sochi on the controversy surrounding the U.S. Olympic speed skating team.
KEILAR: We are getting new glimpses into Hillary Clinton's love/hate relationship with the news media as she weighs a 2016 presidential bid.
CNN has examined previously unseen documents that shed new light on Clinton's response to negative coverage when she was first lady. And just yesterday, Clinton spoke publicly about hanging tough under fire.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the best pieces of advice that I've ever heard from anyone is Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1920s who said that, you know, women in politics or in public roles should grow skin like a rhinoceros.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton offered some of her own leadership advice to women this week at a conference in New York City.
CLINTON: There's an old, you know, saying that your critics can be your best friends if you listen to them and learn from them but don't get dragged down by them.
KEILAR: Her comments come as new documents reveal Clinton has held a great distrust of the media from before her time as first lady. Clinton calls the press complete hypocrites, according to diary entries from her close confidante Diane Blair.
"They say they want the truth, want power to be transparent but in fact they prefer backstage manipulation of Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Bess Truman, Rosalynn Carter," Blair recounts Clinton saying.
Carl Bernstein wrote a biography of Hillary Clinton. Shortly after her husband's 1992 win, Hillary received this advice about dealing with reporters from First Lady Barbara Bush.
CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE": Beware of this crowd, you don't want to have anything to do with them. And if you are going to be quoted, say it loud and clear and make sure you say it damn loud that they're not to be trusted. And Hillary said to Barbara Bush, I've already had some experience with that. And I know that already.
KEILAR: In the White House, the Clintons squared off against the press over the firing of White House travel office employees, investigations into White House counsel Vince Foster's suicide, the list went on.
BERNSTEIN: Clintons felt they were being attacked over health care, over this so-called scandal in Whitewater, and in face they really hadn't done anything wrong, in -- in Whitewater but they sure had handled it badly, and once again this pattern of non-candor was established.
KEILAR: Especially for Hillary Clinton who was more guarded than her husband. In January 1995, after two years in the White House, she told her friend that she did not know how history could be written on Bill Clinton's presidency with media reports being so wrong.
Diane Blair wrote, "She said there was hardly a news story that she couldn't totally refute."
KEILAR: And our chief political analyst Gloria Borger joining us now.
I mean, we sort of looked there at Hillary Clinton, her days in Arkansas, her time in the White House as first lady.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
KEILAR: Do you think that she's done a lot to sort of rebuild her image since then and also separate herself from her husband?
BORGER: Look, she had an unsuccessful presidential campaign in which she was the prohibitive favorite and she lost to Barack Obama, and that was obviously hurtful. I would argue she was a hugely successful senator and a very successful secretary of state. Even after all of the Benghazi controversy over half the people in this country see her as a successful secretary of state.
If she runs, she's going to run on her experience of a lifetime, which is what she talked about in her last presidential bid. But people will look at her differently because she has truly sort of separated her achievements from those of Bill Clinton who, by the way, is also going to be very hurtful to her this time if she runs because he's a lot more popular than he ever was. Right?
KEILAR: And certainly -- yes, and the time in the State Department, I think, was sort of her reset for the poor management of her campaign that she got -- came under so much fire.
BORGER: Right. You know, and also, one other thing about Hillary Clinton, when she first became secretary of state, people were saying, oh, how could Barack Obama appoint her? She would never be a member of the team of rivals and it turned out that she was a team player and we'll see what she writes about her in memoir that's coming out this summer but she was a team player and people who love Barack Obama and didn't like Hillary Clinton, they are now going to work for Hillary Clinton.
BORGER: Because they respected the way she behaved when she was on her former opponent's team and that's not a small thing.
KEILAR: No. And she was so -- she was so influential.
KEILAR: And so now, as everyone is wondering, is she going to run, is she not going to run? I mean, is she sort of damned if she does and damned if she doesn't when she speaks publicly?
BORGER: Right. Look, she dominates the headlines. Even when she doesn't have anything to do with the making of the headlines. I mean, you were talking about her friend, Mrs. Blair's diaries which, of course, Hillary Clinton didn't write but these are private conversations that were dredged up from decades ago and she is still in the headlines and we're still talking about how she feels about the press.
In many ways, a lot of us grew up looking at Hillary. We feel like we know her because we watched her in the White House or we watched her as a senator, we watched her run for the presidency. We watched her as secretary of state. So everybody comes to her with a certain bias that they already have because they think they know her.
I think her challenge is difficult. It's to reintroduce herself as who she is really comfortable being. I think you saw that when she was secretary of state and I think she's got to sort of figure out a way to do that and to say, look, you know, I am a candidate who understands the way this country needs to move and change.
KEILAR: Yes. To capitalize on her experience without seeming like, you know, kind of --
BORGER: She's 10 generations ago.
KEILAR: So that point --
KEILAR: You know, one of the stories that was written when President Obama was elected was you had John McCain who was of a different generation.
KEILAR: And that voters were ready for someone of a new generation. Hillary Clinton is a baby boomer. And if she does run --
KEILAR: -- she'll be running against younger folks, maybe.
KEILAR: Chris Christie maybe not, Rand Paul. We're looking at Marco Rubio.
KEILAR: Paul Ryan. These guys are of a different generation. Will that work against her, do you think?
BORGER: You know what, she's a woman and sometimes it takes women a lot longer to get to the place that men get to a little bit earlier in life.
BORGER: And so I think -- I don't think -- I don't think it would be held against her and also, by the way, I think there's this question about Republicans saying Barack Obama did not have enough experience to be president of the United States, his tenure as president has proven that. Well, it's been hard for them to turn around and say, but by the way, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, who are newbies in the Senate, just like Barack Obama was, should then get the nomination because then they can't make that argument anymore and -- you know, it's a little bit difficult for them.
So, you know, I think the fact that it's taken Hillary Clinton longer to get to where she is as a woman --
KEILAR: Yes. Also -- BORGER: Fine.
KEILAR: We have longevity, right? This is one of the advantages of being a woman, I would say.
BORGER: Right. Right. And yes -- and we change with the times.
KEILAR: All right. Gloria Borger, thanks so much.
BORGER: Thanks, Brianna.
KEILAR: Now we have pictures right now of President Obama's plane, Air Force One, of course landing in Fresno, if we can pull that up. He is going to be out west talking about the terrible drought conditions in the area plaguing area farmers. A lot of people conserving water.
It's something that we are going to be following and you see Air Force One landing there in Fresno, California, in the Central Valley.
And we are also awaiting a verdict in a closely watched case being called the loud music trial. This has a Florida man facing a murder charge. The jury continuing to deliberate. The case has attracted national attention since the beginning. There are parallels here to the killing of Trayvon Martin and that trial of George Zimmerman. Similar overtones here of race and self-defense.
In this case, Michael Dunn claimed that he was acting in self- defense when he fired on an SUV with four teenagers inside after confronting them about the loud music they were playing. Well, Dunn said that he saw one of the teens grabbing a gun. So Dunn fired 10 shots. Three of them hit 17-year-old Jordan Davis who died. No gun was ever found in the teen's car. No gun. Dunn was charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
And just ahead, we've got the latest from Sochi where there's a battle brewing over the U.S. speed skaters' uniforms. That's right. Could they be to blame for a disappointing showing?
And Vladimir Putin paid a surprise visit to Team USA. This is really interesting. You want to stick around for this. Find out what -- why the Russian president was at the USA House.
KEILAR: You are looking at live pictures of Air Force One in Fresno. President Obama descending. He is there talking about the drought. He'll be announcing federal aid. In addition, he'll be meeting in a sort of rare West Coast visit with Jordan's King Abdullah and then he'll be spending the weekend -- we don't know, probably golfing. Not a whole lot on his schedule. You see him there greeting local dignitaries as he begins these few days on the West Coast.
And also, the U.S. speed skating team has yet to even medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. And frustrated team members are beginning to blame their suits. Their outfits, their uniforms for their disappointing performances. But Under Armour, the maker of those suits, is defending themselves.
Joining me now, Rachel Nichols, the host of "UNGUARDED" here on CNN. She's with us from Sochi, Russia, where she has been covering the games.
And this speed skating story, Rachel, is one that I've been following all day. The speed skating -- U.S. speed skating now responding to the uniform controversy saying, "We're working with our athletes, coaches, trainers and equipment partners to figure out what we can do to produce better results for Team USA through the completion of the Winter Olympic Games."
So it kind of makes you think that a change will be made. What do you expect?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, "UNGUARDED": Well, the executive director has confirmed a couple of reports saying that they have applied to the IOC to have the option to change back to their old suits. Now that doesn't mean that they're going to. The team has to vote on it and apparently different skaters have different opinions about just how much of a difference these suits have made both in the pro and the con column.
The issue is the vent on the back. This was supposed to be a big new innovation. Some vents toward the back to allow heat to escape and should make you faster. But some of the skaters as if this is creating some drag. And when you have a competition that's decided in hundredths of a second even a little bit of drag can make a difference.
Now The U.S. Speed Skating Association doesn't want to upset one of its sponsors. Remember, this isn't the NFL. They don't sell a bunch of tickets for these guys. They really depend on their sponsors to get their athletes to the games. So they've come out and said all the right things about Under Armour, and if they do switch back to their old suits, those are going to be Under Armour suits as well.
And the bottom line is, are these vents really making a difference or is this in the athletes' heads or does it really matter? Because if you don't have confidence in your suit when you start your race, you may have lost it before you've even gone around. So it's one of those things they've got to figure out what is most important. But bottom line, they're not getting the results that they expected here.
There are two number one -- world number ones in the thousand meter on both the men's and women's side, finished eighth and seventh place respectively.
KEILAR: Yes. So far behind the leader. Much farther behind the leader than they would have expected to. And it's always interesting to kind of see how maybe foreign policy collides a little bit with sport when you're looking at the Olympics, Rachel.
One of the things -- one of the headlines today is that Russian President Vladimir Putin actually met with Team USA. What can you tell us about this fascinating visit?
NICHOLS: This is a lot of fun. U.S. -- Team USA has a little house. They call it USA House on the Olympic park grounds. It's just a place for American athletes to come, relax, hang out with their families, meet up with friends, that sort of thing. And on Thursday USA House got a message from the Russians that Vladimir Putin wanted to come visit. So what do you say when Vladimir Putin wants to come visit? You say yes, especially if you're in Russia.
Not only did the security team descend on them, apparently he has some sort of official taster because someone came in from his security detail and tasted the red and white wine and beer and water that was going to be offered to him. I guess the red wine is what passed muster because that's what he had today when he came to visit.
He was, much to the amusement of much of the athletes, met with the president of the USOC and was basically asking people if they were having a good time. He seemed very concerned that everyone's accommodations was up to snuff. When one woman shouted as he was walking by --
NICHOLS: Wow, these Olympics are beautiful, he ran back to shake her hand, he was so happy. So we know a little bit now, have some insight into what's been important to him.
KEILAR: Yes. This is a big deal for Vladimir Putin, and he wants to make sure it goes off without a hitch.
Rachel Nichols, thanks so much for joining us from Sochi.
KEILAR: Now a quick look at the medal count. The U.S. is currently tied for first place with Norway, 13 medals apiece, followed closely behind by the Netherlands and Russia who are tied with 12 each, pretty close there.
Now coming up, the Justice Department has given banks the green light to deal in pot. We will explain that.
And a mysterious fireball burning across the sky. What's behind this crazy video.
KEILAR: The Defense Department has released the names of two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Specialist John Pelham, age 22 of Portland, Oregon, and Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Skelt, 41 of York, Florida. They were shot Wednesday by two men wearing Afghan military uniforms. These so-called insider attacks have killed dozens of U.S. and NATO soldiers over the last 13 years.
Well, banks are allowed to provide financial services to state licensed marijuana businesses. The Justice Department now says banks may not be prosecuted for dealing with pot dispenser, so long as the dispenser doesn't violate federal law in specific areas like selling to children or in states where pot is not legal.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington state, but the federal government classifies pot as among the most dangerous substances.
Alexander Hamilton is being hailed as, quote, "undeniably one of our greatest presidents by the start-up Groupon. Unfortunately for Groupon and Hamilton the founding father never held a higher office than secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton is featured on the $10 bill. No word yet from Groupon on whether the whole thing was just a joke.
Now one of the country's richest men is in hot water again for more controversial comments. Venture capitalist Tom Perkins said that Americans who pay more in taxes should get more votes. He later said, quote, "I intended to be outrageous."
Perkins stirred up controversy last month when he published a letter in "The Wall Street Journal" saying the rich who were under an assault similar to the Nazi attacks on Jews. Perkins' net worth is reportedly $8 billion.
And take a look at this. A man in Maine shot this 2 1/2-minute video of a mysterious fireball streaking across the sky. His video has gained thousands of views as the Internet tried to determine just what this thing was. The answer finally came from an astronomer at the University of Southern Maine. It is space junk. That's right a piece of a satellite breaking off and falling to earth.
Happening now, new subpoenas. The probe into Chris Christie's bridge scandal is growing wider and we're learning new details about the people lawmakers are demanding testify. Was there a cover story?
Deadly stockpile. A disturbing update on the chemical weapons Syria was supposed to give up. How many is the regime still holding on to?