Return to Transcripts main page


Mystery of Flight 370; Interview with Tony Blinken

Aired March 23, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Fear and wondering in the West, as Russian troops move aggressively toward the Eastern Ukraine border.

Turmoil and frustration inside the mystery of Malaysian Flight 370.

"All right, good night," and then Malaysian Flight 370 was gone. Sixteen days missing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is increasing hope, no more than hope, that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen.


CROWLEY: Man against nature in one of the world's most hostile pieces of ocean territory. We look at the challenge of the deep end of the stormy southern part of the Indian Ocean, with its high seas and powerful currents.

Plus, how in the world does a 777 disappear in an era of GPS?

And Putin pushes...


SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, this is obviously a very worrying and fragile situation.


CROWLEY: The U.S.-Russian relationship sours considerably over Crimea.

What now for U.S. priorities dependent on Russian input -- restraining Iran's nuclear weapons, stopping the slaughter in Syria.

Then, the fourth anniversary of ObamaCare -- the deadline for signup approaches amid election season. Our political panel looks at the nexus between the two.


Good morning.

I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Malaysia's transport minister says French satellite images show potential objects in the search corridor of the Southern Indian Ocean. No word yet on when those images were taken. Eight planes, including the U.S. Navy's P-8 Poseidon, were involved in today's search. A wooden pallet and strapping belts were spotted, but there's no evidence the debris is from the missing jetliner.

Planes now returning to their base in Perth, Australia after finding no signs of Flight 370.

The search area now nearly 23,000 square miles. That Poseidon crew said conditions were terrible today, with low cloud ceilings and poor visibility.

We want to turn now to CNN's Andrew Stevens.

He's is in Perth, Australia.

So how bad the weather and how can they actually operate if they didn't see anything?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The weather is bad. And worse is expected to come, Candy. The reports we've been getting back is what you've been saying -- low cloud, drizzle, high winds, high seas. None of these make it any easier at all to search, because you've got to think about these planes. They've got to get down low, too.

A lot of this is now relying on visual sightings of the objects in the sea. So they've got to get down low. It is very, very tough.

We spoke to Lieutenant Adam Samps (ph) a couple of hours ago about the conditions that they're experiencing on that P-8 in these deep southern latitudes.

This is what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wave action, the winds, the waters can be rough. The ceilings are low. The weather is extreme. You know, whenever you get close to the poles near the north or south, you deal with some pretty extreme weather conditions.


STEVENS: Washing machine conditions is one quote we've been hearing today, Candy. And, as I say, the conditions are expected to get worse over the next couple of days. There is a cyclone hovering in the area. But the search goes on. A full crew and complement of planes out there today. And they say they're going to back out there tomorrow.

CROWLEY: So, Andrew, give us the latest on the search and what they've found. I'm semi-intrigued, I guess, by a wooden pallet and strapping belts. But a lot of people say, look, don't make too much of it.

STEVENS: Yes. The wooden pallet could be associated with the plane. No one is leaking anything at the moment, Candy. But certainly, these wooden pallets are used on planes. Frustratingly, it was spotted yesterday, more than 24 hours ago, by a corporate jet, observers on that jet. A sophisticated plane was sent to the scene. And they've been at the scene again today, haven't found anything.

We now, though, we've got three separate satellite images -- the Australians, as we know, followed two days later by the Chinese. And now the French and sent the Malaysians images which talks about potential objects in the area.

Frustratingly, we don't know whereabouts the French pictures are taken, where it relates to the other objects we've been seeing from the Australians and the Chinese. But if it is close, it's just building and building evidence. And that's why the Australian prime minister is saying, you know, there is a little bit of hope that we may be moving closer to solving this mystery.

But at the moment, it is still very much a mystery.

CROWLEY: Andrew Stevens from Perth for us.

Thanks so much.

We want to go now

To Lieutenant David Levy. He's a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet.

He joins me by phone now aboard the USS Blue Ridge in the South China Sea.

Lieutenant, thank you for being here for us.

The Poseidon crew, I know, is back.

Have you heard from them and -- or did they find anything today?

LIET. DAVID LEVY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. NAVY SEVENTH FLEET: Candy, thank you for having me.

We have no reports of anything significant found from their mission. They went on their mission this morning. It was about a nine, 10 hour mission total. That includes the time spent transiting to and from the search area. And they returned earlier this evening with reports of nothing significant at this time.

CROWLEY: And is there a limit to what kind of conditions these planes will fly into?

It sounds dreadful. And no way around it, because the search area is where they have to go.

Is it a possibility that the weather could get so severe, coming up, that the plane simply can't go for any of the search missions?

LEVY: Yes, that's always a possibility. The safety of the crew and the aircraft is always a priority. But, also, these planes are built for all weather conditions. Even when the weather is bad, you know, we don't give up the search, and especially the radar search. We can switch to visual. And we simply adjust and conduct a smarter search.

CROWLEY: And do you know anything giving the Malaysian government hydrophones?

Is that going to happen?

LEVY: No. I have no reports of anything at the time of -- any hydrophones or anything being delivered to the Malaysians at this time.

CROWLEY: OK. Lieutenant David Levy, thank you for joining us.

Continue to have a safe journey.

LEVY: All right. Thank you, Candy.

Thanks for having me.

CROWLEY: The Flight 370 mystery calls into question whether airliners should be equipped with the best technology to keep track of planes.

Joining me now, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Meehan, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, aviation journalist Steven Trimbell, and Captain John Cassidy, vice president of the Airline Pilots Association.

So I'm going to start from the premise that there is technology available that would know where, at least, some part of this plane is right now, were it on the plane, is that correct?

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, there is technology. But the scope of what we're looking at right now, talking about oceans, most of the technology is not directed to be able to do the kind of oversight in oceans that you might do over continental areas. And, of course, the third factor is, even if you have technology, if you have people who are participating in it or not participating in it, you may be able to change the ability for that technology to deliver, you know, the information that it needs to deliver.

CROWLEY: So when you look at what you think -- you think a pilot -- what you think planes need on board -- let's just forget the costs for a minute.

What would pilots like to see on board that could help track things should something go amiss?

CAPT. SEAN CASSIDY, VICE PRESIDENT, AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION: Well, what we really want to see are advanced ways that we can communicate and navigate and also work with our air transport and traffic management facilities all around the world. Now Congressman Meehan, fortunately, works on the aviation subcommittee and is involved in a project that we're heavily involved in, called NexGen. And NexGen, when broadly applied worldwide, will create an infrastructure which would actually give us the ability to very, very accurately track the movement of airplanes all over the world.

CROWLEY: And there's also been talk, Steven -- and I know you know this issue inside and out -- of why aren't there cameras in the cockpit?

Why is a pilot able to turn off something that is sending out data?

So what has been the -- those seem fairly simple to do. It's not the high cost kind of thing.

STEVEN TRIMBELL, AVIATION JOURNALIST: Well, there is a potential high cost of streaming live data, especially video, from the cockpit. But I mean the real issue in this case was the -- all the systems that are on board the aircraft already stopped transmitting. And I think what the regulators will do afterwards -- after this -- is look at this and figure out how to foolproof some of those systems so that the transponder can't just stop working, the ACARS miss -- data messaging system can't stop working. And that would help us a lot.

CROWLEY: So sort of a pilot-proof...


CROWLEY: -- equipment?

TRIMBELL: The pilot has to have some authority to turn off the electrical systems in case they malfunction or overheat. But there's a -- there's a way, perhaps, you could put a small backup battery, embed that in some of these systems.

You could also cre -- install additional systems that do more to help us narrow the search area when something like this happens.

CROWLEY: Well, how about a battery inside the data boxes that lasts more than 30 days?

That doesn't seem like a high cost out there sort of thing to do.

Why has that not happened?

MEEHAN: Well, that certainly is -- things that I think, as we move into the future, they're talking about 90 day batteries that may be able to give off signals, but also the potential that there would be streaming that would be targeted to be normal until there's an anomaly, at which point in time, as soon as a plane goes off the charted course, it would start to give you a significantly more information. This is the kind of thing that's capable to be done through satellite technology, but we're not there yet in the form of utilizing it in that way.

CROWLEY: And the other thing that I learned so, the other thing that I learned and we relearn these things when we have these unfortunate tragedies happen and that is that the flight recording of what's going -- what's being said inside the cockpit actually only picks up the final two hours before landing or crash. What about constant? What would be wrong with that?

CASSIDY: Well, it's a baseline standard, and having the ability to have continuously revolving loop of recordings will probably give you most of the information that you need to obtain if you're going to be doing an accident investigation. And kind of shifting towards what Steven was describing before, I think you have to put things in perspective. Right now there's probably upwards of about 50,000 commercial flights airborne right now. 99.99 percent of those flights are being operated very professionally by those flight deck crews.

And I think that we -- what we need to do is strike a balance between need to obtain important data regarding the performance of the aircraft but also give the pilot the ability to do the job they are tasked with and you always have to have the ability to isolate sort of assistance on the airplane.

I think once we get to the root of what happens with this Malaysian flight I think we'll have more clarity on what that balance is.

CROWLEY: Congressman, as you look at the authority in congress and your committee and elsewhere, what could you reasonably do that you think would at least help or add to the body of information that is available should a plane crash or disappear. What can you do now and would you like to do it now?

MEEHAN: Well, the first thing to start looking for global standards. What we're doing here in the United States isn't necessarily followed around the world. The ability to create the kind of buy in in which airlines would be required to put together the technology that would match the satellite capacity. But of course that's great expense and we're talking about asking for this kind of responsibility to be shared across the world.

We do this here in the United States. And we're on the cutting- edge with the growth towards Nexgen. But when we're out in the middle of oceans, there's a lot of questions about expense and value for, you know, that particular kind of technology being used when as was stated 99.99 percent of the time you're not getting any information.

CROWLEY: Isn't there an argument -- go ahead, because you wanted to say something.

CASSIDY: Well, there is a system called triggered transmission that only broadcasts when the aircraft is doing something it's not supposed to be doing or there's some big malfunction on the aircraft. That reduces the concern about the cost of continuous live transmissions. When you add that with the satellite tracking that may come about with this Nexgen, air traffic control monitorization, that would definitely help us never have to worry about something like this happening again, you would like to think anyway.

CROWLEY: I want to thank you all, but before I go congressman, I want to take advantage of your seat on the homeland committee and ask you about the relationship as concerns this flight between the Malaysian government and the U.S. government. Is there enough cooperation going on?

MEEHAN: Well, frankly, I wish it was better. The reports that I'm getting are frustration. We're invited in only a little bit. We have legats there from the FBI and State Department, very small to the extent we're asked. And, you know, there are concerns. There are the Chinese worried the other day about information that they are getting. They produced the satellite reports.

So I think across the board people are looking for more in the way of openness from the Malaysian government in terms of sharing the information they have in a timely manner.

CROWLEY: Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, thank you for joining us. Captain Sean Cassidy really appreciate your time as well. Steven Trimbell, we'll come back. I know you're the expert on all this, so we appreciate your input.

Searching for a needle in a haystack, a former navy diver and an ocean expert on the challenges of finding flight 370. That's next.


CROWLEY: In the search for Flight 370, ultimately nothing will be more important in the investigation than this noise.

That, believe it or not, is the ping from the plane's black boxes. Searchers once they find where the debris field is, if there is one, will be listening for that noise under water.

We are now past the halfway mark of the 30 day battery life of those flight data recorders.

Joining me now, Bobbie Scholley, retired Navy captain and diver and Maxim van Norden, an ocean expert who teaches hydrographic science at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Mr. Van Norden, thank you for joining us. We've heard a lot today from our reporters on the scene and from others about the conditions in the search area, sort of the southern part of the Indian Ocean. Tell me about that area in terms of the currents, the winds.

What are these searchers up against?

MAXIM VAN NORDEN, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: Well, they are up against some very tremendous challenges. The prevailing depths of that area is about 4,000 meters, and so the pressures at those depths around 6,000 pounds per square inch and there's very few equipment that can actually operate at those depths.

They have to also backtrack; if they find any debris they have to backtrack about 16 days, I guess, to where they think the plane might have entered the water if that's what happened. So, you're talking about hundreds of miles that debris might have drifted in the currents and in the weather of the southern Indian Ocean.

So those are some tremendous challenges. Then they have to really determine from, if they can get the pinger reception, to localize that area because ocean searches are tremendously slow, and the areas have to be highly localized as to where to conduct the searches.

Just to give you an example or a perspective on this, probably the vehicle of choice for an ocean search at those depths would be the Remus 6000. And the Remus can only do about four knots, about five miles an hour. So...

CROWLEY: Slow, slow, slow.

VAN NORDEN: It's a tremendously slow business. Yes, it is.

CROWLEY: Yes, yes.

Bobbie, let me ask you. If you're searching for something in these conditions, let's say you spot something, how do they even -- what do they do with that information?

Do you let it continue to drift? Do you send a ship and it somehow picks it up? It just seems so hostile.

CAPT. BOBBIE SCHOLLEY, U.S. NAVY (RET.): Well, if they do spot something and determine that it is aircraft debris, you would send a ship, one of the ships that are out there, to go and recover it.

And if it was aircraft debris that would be fabulous and you're going to take it and you're going to immediately send that information to the investigators to determine what piece it was and that sort of thing and then you're going to take that and work backwards.

You're going to get the experts to tell you the local prevailing currents and wind that's happened, and you're going to look at the size of that aircraft debris and determine how fast it would have drifted and that sort of thing and work your way backwards.

CROWLEY: And, Maxim, let me ask you, are the currents in this particular search area, which are actually quite large, but generally are the currents in this area strong enough to move heavy parts of this plane, or is it only the sort of the surface debris or just under the surface debris that's moving?

VAN NORDEN: Well, I'm not really sure anybody really knows all the answers to that question because so many things that are on the surface, depending on how much they stick out of the water, will move differently. Some would be like carried by the wind like a sail, for instance, and others very little be affected by the wind. When I looked at the model, and the Navy has models for all these areas, you know, the prevailing currents are probably around one knot or less, but even so after 16 days you're talking about hundreds of miles of drift there.

CROWLEY: Bobbie, if you -- given these conditions, both the natural conditions and now the weather, fall and winter are coming in this region, is there a point where you say, you know, we have to stop this for now?

Or we know enough and we can leave the debris that we know is down there without recovering it?

SCHOLLEY: Well, you have to look at the seasonal conditions. As they enter into the winter months, you might get to a point where you have to say the surface search has got to stop for the safety of the ships. There's a point where you cannot leave those ships out there.

If we are entering into a hurricane season or the winter storm season, you might have to pull those surface ships out of there. That's a call that the coordinators are going to have to look at for the safety of the surface ships.

The aircraft might be able to continue to do a surface search and you might have to make the call to delay the search until the seasonal conditions change. That's a call that they made for the Air France.

CROWLEY: Which you were involved in the recovery event.

SCHOLLEY: Well, I was involved in the TWA recovery. But in the Air France when they made that decision twice, they did know that the aircraft was on the bottom in Air France. We don't know that for sure in this case until we see a piece of debris. Then you can still go back even though you don't have a confirmation on surface debris in this case.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Maxim, because I want to show our audience a radar-style time lapse. And it's actually, by the way, I thought it was very cool, it's about wave heights around the world.

There's very deep red colors off the southern coast of Australia. I'm assuming indicating that the surf is very rough and high and what does that -- give me an idea of how high the swells are, how high the waves are in this area.

VAN NORDEN: Well, I don't -- I can't see the same things that you're seeing.

CROWLEY: It's very red.



VAN NORDEN: And, of course, that's fairly seasonal. I believe they are entering their fall season and also fairly rough season weather wise. All I can say that's a tremendous impact on the operations in that area, and so it would be very difficult for that.

And if they ever get to the point of trying to do an underwater search, of course, that would affect trying to launch and recover these AUVs to try to do any kind of searches.

CROWLEY: Maxim Van Norden, our ocean expert from the University of South Mississippi and Bobbie Scholley, retired Navy captain and diver.

Thank you both so much.

Coming up in the noon hour of STATE OF THE UNION, we'll talk with a former Red Cross minister about how the families of those aboard Malaysia Flight 370 are coping with grief and unanswered questions.


CROWLEY (voice-over): President Obama leaves tonight for emergency meetings with allies in Europe. Up next we speak with his deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken.


CROWLEY: Joining me, White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken.

Before we talk about the crisis in Crimea I wanted to just get a quick update from you. You were on here a couple of weeks ago; I asked you if you saw any terrorist element to the vanishing of this Malaysian flight. At the time everything was kind of open.

What do you know now? I know the FBI does have the flight simulator that was in the pilot's home and they are looking at this.

Can you update us?

BLINKEN: Candy, first of all, our hearts go out the families of the loved ones who are living with this terrible uncertainty and we feel for them every day. The president has made this a priority. We put every asset we have available to help the Malaysians try and get to the facts.

So we have the FBI working on it, the NTSB; we have, as you know, a P-8 survey plane trying to find out what happened.

But the bottom line is this. We need to get the facts, but we can't get ahead of the facts. And we do not know yet what happened to the plane, why it happened. We're working on it. And this is something that we're on every day in cooperation with Malaysians and with many other countries in the region.

CROWLEY: Do you know something that is not public? When you say we don't know what happened, we don't know how it happened, does that mean publicly you don't know that or it really is like across the board all question marks? BLINKEN: Publicly or privately we don't know. We're chasing down every theory, we're looking at facts as they develop. But, again, the bottom line is we can't get ahead of the facts.

And so this is what's -- the one encouraging thing, I would say, if there's anything encouraging in a tragedy like this is you have countries working together in ways that they haven't before. Not just the Malaysians, but we have the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Australians, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, all working in the same direction, which is to get to the bottom of what happened.

CROWLEY: Is there a prevailing theory?

BLINKEN: There's no prevailing theory.


Let me move to Ukraine's eastern border where we've seen Russian troops along their western border amassing with some suggestion that they might move into different Ukrainian territory. It looks maybe as though they are trying to establish some sort of land way to get to Crimea.

What is the extent of your fear that that's exactly what they are doing?

Candy, it's deeply concerning to see the Russian troop buildup along the border. It creates the potential for incidents, for instability. It's likely that what they are trying to do is intimidate the Ukrainians. It's possible that they are preparing to move in.

But here's what we're doing. The president this week will be in Europe, gathering the leaders of the G7 countries, the major industrial countries in the world, the European Union, NATO, China and others.

And what we've seen the president do in recent weeks and what we'll see him do this week is bring the world together in support of Ukraine, to isolate Russia for its actions against Ukraine and to reassure our partners in NATO and in Europe.

CROWLEY: I want to play you just a little bit of what the president and others have said as this crisis began to build, sort of starting first before Russia went into Crimea and then ask you something on the other side.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Intervention would, in our judgment, be a very, very grave mistake.

OBAMA: No country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked.

We're making clear that there are consequences for their actions.

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It will have consequences and it already has.


CROWLEY: OK. When last I checked, the Russian stock market was up from the beginning of the week. The ruble was a little bit stronger than from the beginning of the week where it had tumbled both the week before.

The fact of the matter is, despite all of this and the sanctions you put in place, the guy in Crimea is Putin. He's pretty much claimed it as his own. And now we're talking about, OK, don't go in anyplace else.

So what is there to really stop this guy, because I don't think he really cares if his friends don't have access to their money.

I mean, doesn't Putin care about Putin and what hurts Putin?

BLINKEN: Candy, this is exactly already a real cost from Putin and in Russia and the economy. Let's look at what's happened.

As a result of the actions that Putin has taken and as a result of mobilizing the international community to isolate Russia for those actions, we've seen action. The stock market go down significantly including this week. We've seen the ruble get to an all-time low.

And we seen investors who are looking at Russia sitting on the fence because they are looking for three things. They are looking for stability. They are looking to see if the country makes good on its international agreements and they're looking to see if that country is integrated with the world economy.

All three of those areas, Putin has sowed tremendous doubts and we have accentuated those doubts by the actions we've taken.

So this has had a real hit. But beyond that --


CROWLEY: Yet he's in Crimea and his troops are now along the border sort of threatening, as you say, Ukraine in a different place. So it doesn't seem to have -- I get that the economy, but I don't think Putin went to bed worried about where his next meal was coming from or whether he'd have housing or any of that.

BLINKEN: Actually, the compact that President Putin has with his people is if you remain politically compliant, I'll deliver growth for you. That growth has stagnated even before this crisis. And everything that's happened since, as a result of the efforts we've made, to isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine has only made that worse. And what we're seeing every single day is Russia getting more and more isolated and its economy taking a bigger and bigger hit.

We had the finance minister of Russia worrying out loud in public about the hit that the economy was taking. We have the leader of the Association of Entrepreneurs, basically the oligarchs' club, saying I'm really worried about investment drying up. This is having an impact on Russia. This has to get Putin to think twice.

CROWLEY: I'm running short of time. I just need a quick answer to this because I want to ask you about U.S.-Russian relations in general. Are you going to give Ukraine military aid?

BLINKEN: So we're looking at every request that we're getting from the Ukrainians. We're studying --


CROWLEY: You said that for a couple of weeks. So have you decided that it should have military aid?

BLINKEN: All of that is under review. Let me say two things about that.

First, what we're focused on is making sure that we can act in the areas that we can be the most immediately effective, and that involves supporting Ukraine economically and indeed we'd like to get this loan guarantee done. Congress is coming back. We hope it'll pass the loan guarantee and IMF coda (ph) reform.

Second, we're working as I said to make sure that there's a cost exacted of Russia and indeed that it feels the pressure. That's what we're working on. And when it comes to military assistance we're looking at it. The facts are these. Even if assistance were to go to Ukraine that's very unlikely to change Russia's calculus or prevent an invasion.

CROWLEY: Many, many more troops, it's just that, you know, it seems like Ukraine might like a little more weaponry.

But let me move you on, because I do want to ask you about the overarching relationship between the U.S. and Russia. We have needed them in Syria; three years ago the president said Bashar al-Assad has to go.

This summer Bashar al-Assad is running for re-election. Iran is running out of time for the U.S. and Iran to come to some sort of deal on its nuclear ambitions. Russia has been seen as key to all of that. They're already -- so the assumption that that all falls apart now.

BLINKEN: Well, look, Candy, Russia in each of these areas is not acting because it wants to do a favor to us. It's acting out of self- interest. And so we have had cooperation from Russia on Iran, as you said, on Afghanistan, on the New START treaty and to a lesser extent on Syria, at least it's been focused on the chemical weapons. In each of these areas Russia is acting out of its perceived self-interest. That interest hasn't changed. And so in that sense it's likely that the cooperation will continue. CROWLEY: Likely but you're not for sure. There's been no sort of heavy duty things going on since Crimea happened.

BLINKEN: We haven't seen a pull back in that cooperation. In fact, we've had -- our teams are working together on Iran, in the negotiations. That's continuing.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much (INAUDIBLE) we appreciate it.

When we return, the deadline to sign up for Obamacare at the end of this month and the entire administration is out and about trying to run up the score.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bigger number we bank, the more certain we know we'll turn this back no matter what happens in the congress.


CROWLEY: What the numbers on March 31st mean for numbers on Election Day November 4th. Our panel is next.


CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, Neera Tanden, she is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." And CNN's "CROSSFIRE" host, Newt Gingrich. It is good to see you all on the anniversary of Obamacare. Four years now since it was passed. And I want to just -- because I want to start out with you Newt, play you a little something from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I believe that it's a winner and by the way, it's called the Affordable Care Act. It's called the Affordable Care Act.


CROWLEY: So, big success?

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: (INAUDIBLE) out in the last 24 hours on sticker shock in a variety of states. I think that they can call at any time affordable care act all they want to. It cost the Democrats, the House in 2010, it will cost them the Senate in 2014. Probably cost them the presidency in 2016. It's a huge overreach by the federal government which cannot deliver on what it promised.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think it is delivering. When you say it can't deliver it has 5 million people signed up on the federal exchanges as we speak. So I think saying it can't deliver is really wrong. And the issue here is that this law is being implemented right now. People are signing up and you're seeing some push back. Scott Brown this week goes into a person's home, starts railing against Affordable Care Act. A Republican legislator and the Republican legislator tells him to his face it's been a success, I've saved money from it. They are seeing people push back now against the attacks on the bill because there's 5 million people benefited from it.

CROWLEY: See (ph) the truth is, Susan, there is truth in both of these because it really depends who you are, you know, how much you're paying, what those factors are. And I guess the question is where does the weight of this go?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": You know, I think it also depends on what your timetable is. I mean (INAUDIBLE) right that over the long term this will be seen a success, that worked, that delivered health care to a lot of people who didn't have it. But I think in the short term you have to say that (INAUDIBLE) it's toxic that we saw that in the special Florida House race. It was a damaging thing for the Democratic candidate who lost. To (ph) before (ph) you see those Democratic candidates in the key Senate races in 2014 trying to really hedge their bet on it. So, it seems to me this is a tough issue. Democrats own it. Of course, Nancy Pelosi is going to come out and embrace it because what's her option. You look at 2014 (INAUDIBLE). You look at 2016 I think it's harder to know where we'll be then. Maybe at that point it will be closer to (INAUDIBLE) --

TANDEN: In 2012 people ran hundreds of millions of dollars against the Affordable Care Act. Democrats expanded the Senate base on this (ph). I think the issue that's really pushing an election is the economy and I think Democrats have to defend the Affordable Care Act and talk about fixes where they need to be fixed. But the truth is that facts on the ground are changing because over the last few months we had more and more people covered.

CROWLEY: The question is, of course, whether they eventually paid for their insurance. We have so few facts to kind of figure out what's going on.

TANDEN: Actually we do have facts. 85 percent have already paid for their coverage. All of these issues (INAUDIBLE).

CROWLEY: Do you know who they are? Are they young? Are they invincible? Are they --


CROWLEY: The White House is and you have to admit has not been that great at giving us these figures.

TANDEN: We'll have all of these figures out months ahead of the election. And I think you'll see that people are signing up. We have a large number of young people according to many studies. There's not going to be an increase. But we won't know anything about it being a negative or positive until all the numbers are out and there's people have another week to sign up. I hope they do. (INAUDIBLE) really well.

GINGRICH: A couple of realities. This is a country of about 315 million people. 5 million signed up. 310 million people outside of the system for a variety of reasons.

TANDEN: They have insurance. 85 percent of Americans have insurance today.

GINGRICH: My only point is you...


...the fact is you have not significantly decreased the number of people without insurance because you have people transferring from one kind of another insurance to another kind insurance --

TANDEN: That's not true. We're seeing the lowest rate of uninsurance. There's data out. Rates of uninsurance are declining for the first time in decades.

GINGRICH: A huge number of the younger people are saying, this is not a good buy, I am not going to sign up. I mean our data --

TANDEN: Higher rates in Massachusetts of young people signing up.

GINGRICH: I think Florida was an early indicator. I don't know of a single senator in a tough re-election race, is running around saying, Nancy Pelosi is right. All of them are finding some excuse to explain why they would change Obamacare in some form or another. I think that's going to increase, not decrease.

CROWLEY: I have to move you on to another subject, and that is 2016. But in a kind of different way.

First of all, I want to show you a selfie which includes both Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Jimmy Kimmel and the cast of "thousands." they were all together over the weekend for one of the Clinton global -- Clinton Global Initiative and something that Hillary Clinton said caught my eye. She was talking about persevering and here's what she said.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Too many people think somehow if they don't get what they've worked for right away, that either they have failed or it wasn't meant to be, or, you know, they give up because they can't bear the energy and the disappointment of going on.


CROWLEY: She went on to talk about how, in fact, you can learn from losing and you learn many good things. And Bill lost an election when he was governor and now he's back. So let's read these tea leaves. GINGRICH: First lady, senator, Secretary Clinton is very famous for being famous and as long as she can continue to be famous, she will be famous. Now, you're in the middle of a mess in Russia, her reset button by the way was mistranslated and actually (ph) said (ph) in Russian overcharge and had apparently been taken from a Jacuzzi or swimming pool at a Geneva hotel -- the point is this (INAUDIBLE) start laughing, the fact is as secretary of state she reset our relationship with Russia so well that you currently have the occupation of Crimea and the potential occupation of Ukraine. So Secretary Clinton on substance, the morning this race becomes about substance, she will start losing support literally overnight.

TANDEN: That's a great prediction but just on Russia I would remind Newt that who attacked Hillary Clinton for supporting democracy activists 2011, made a vicious attack? Putin himself. He attacked Hillary because she was a critic of his policies. Years after the reset. And it actually called him for what he was, which is a person who was acting (INAUDIBLE).

CROWLEY: Susan, I would love to hear your comment on Hillary Clinton but I would more love for you to tell me about the "USA Today" poll that's coming out tomorrow. Let me tell you what shocked me in the numbers and that is, when people were asked what a priority for Congress should, should be blocking bad laws, 51 percent of the Democrats said yes, block bad laws and 54 percent of Republicans said block bad laws which seems for me a recipe for nothing ever happening on Capitol Hill and may explain it.

PAGE: That's right. This is a fourth of four surveys we've taken with the bipartisan policy center over the past year. We've seen a big shift in attitudes for what Congress should do. A majority now say, block bad laws. We also find Americans more likely to say, it's a good thing that we have this big political divide in America. Still not a majority, but twice as many now as a year ago say that's a good thing. That says to me that this is becoming the new norm, this polarized state of American politics, people see as inevitable. It also says the argument against Republicans in congress, they are obstructionist is going to have less power in November than we thought perhaps it would because that's what many Americans are now saying they actually want.

CROWLEY: It does seem to me, it says about the elections, throw out all the incumbents, it's not going to happen, but it never does. Newt Gingrich, Susan Page, Neera Tanden, thank you all for joining us. Coming up at the top of the hour, Russia's annexation of Crimea and what it means for U.S./Russian relations. Plus the latest on the search for missing Malaysian flight 370. We'll be right back.


CROWLEY: Before we leave I had a chance recently to sit down and talk with singer Fergie Duhamel. She was in Washington highlighting a global initiative to combat violence against women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STACY "FERGIE" DUHAMEL, AVON GLOBAL AMBASSADOR: When I heard that one in three women is affected by gender-based violence in her lifetime it was shocking to me and it just goes to show there are a lot of things that we don't know and a lot of women who are afraid to speak out. And it's great to encourage women to speak out about it and get some help.


CROWLEY: You can find out more about the project with the Black Eyed Peas singer on our website at Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. If you missed any part of today's show find us on iTunes, search STATE OF THE UNION.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," is next.