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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Israeli Cabinet Meeting About Egyptian Proposal For Ceasefire; United Air Boeing 777 Forced To Land on Tiny Pacific Island; Cleveland Revival?; CNN Launches Theme Parks Investigation

Aired July 14, 2014 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In other national news, a frightening flight for the 335 passengers and 13 crews heading from Hawaii to Guam. United Airlines Boeing 777 was forced to land on a tiny island in the pacific. And when I say tiny, I mean 2.4 square miles. The issue was described as an electrical odor, a smell. One passenger said she detected it before the plane took off.

Tom Foreman is here with the latest.

Tom, were there other warning signs there would be problems with this plane beyond this aroma?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a big delay before they took off. They were looking into the idea what might have gone on there. But the question is how much weight do you put on that in the big picture? Arguably maybe it's OK to take off. But then when you divert, what does that tell you?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): The evening flight from Honolulu to Guam took off three hours late to the soar over some of the most desolate waters on the planet. But passengers say halfway to their destination, a strong odor filled the jet.

KAREN VON MERVELDT GUEVARA, PASSENGER: We could smell chemical smell like burned wire or heated wire burned insulation, something like that. And that was wafting through the cabin.

FOREMAN: Some passengers say the stench nearly gagged them and tensions rose rapidly as the crew made the decision to divert to the tiny island of midway, riding out turbulence and at one point suddenly dropping 40 feet.

GUEVARA: I think after that drop it got really silent in the cabin. People prayed. I mean, we all prayed. I prayed.

FOREMAN: A nail biting hour later, touchdown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to step on land.

FOREMAN: The airline now says the problem was an equipment cooling fan, not necessary for flight.

KEITH WOLZINGER, THE SPECTRUM GROUP: There's the regular one and a backup fan. So if the primary one fails, the backup will kick in automatically.

FOREMAN: But Keith Wolzinger who flies 777s like the one in question says especially over so much open water, caution is critical.

WOLZINGER: Well, if you're not sure what the problem is, the first rule is to divert, get the airplane on the ground and worry about it later.

FOREMAN: The passengers spent seven hours on the island with few services, mostly hanging out in a gymnasium. And when another plane finally arrived, cheering for the end of their long nerve-racking journey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: We're told by the airline officials this sort of thing is not really that rare. However, in the wake of Malaysia air and all the concerns people have and the fact they're over big ocean water with not many options where to go, obviously a lot of people concerned and would like to know that they all steps were taken before takeoff.

TAPPER: With the three-hour delay, it is suspicious.

FOREMAN: Yes, a long time.

TAPPER: Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

And some developments with the Costa Concordia cruise ship which you may recall ran a ground and eventually sunk off the coast of Italy in 2012 killing 32 people, this is how Italians and spectators became used to seeing the ship, on its side half submerge in the water.

But now two and a half years after the accident, crews have gotten it to float up right as they prepare to tow it 150 miles to northern Italy to be scrapped. It likely won't arrive for about two weeks. Sadly one person in the wreck has never been found. Waiter, Russell Ribolo (ph), was last seen helping passengers' board rescue boats. Searchers are hoping that with the ship finally above water, they may be able to find his remains to bring closure to his family.

Coming up on THE LEAD, you can almost hear the narrator's baritone right now.

Rand Paul an isolationist.

Rick Perry getting an early jump on making this 2016 campaign ads. So, how is the Kentucky senator responding? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The politics lead now. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky proving he's not

afraid to hit a guy with glasses, at least politically that is. The war of words got more personal today between the senator and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Both men are high on list of rumored Republican candidates for president right now. Neither is holding back in what is in all likelihood early sparring in the prize fight for the nomination. Here's the uppercut the governor uploaded yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I disagree with Senator Paul's representation of what America should be doing and when you read his op-ed "the Wall Street Journal", he talks about basically what I consider to be isolationist policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Isolationist. Boom! Here's the right cross Paul through back at Perry on Politico.com. Today, quote "apparently his new glasses haven't altered his perception of the world or allowed him to see it will any more clearly." This (INAUDIBLE).

Let's get a play by play of the pummeling with our panel, national political staff writer for the Atlantic Molly Ball and national political correspondent for "The New York Times" Jonathan Martin.

Jon, before we get to who is winning the soul of the Republican Party, what's the thing about the glasses? What's Rand Paul asking, probably taking a little ding at Rick Perry's new glasses?

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Governor Perry has got some new lenses. And I guess Senator Paul who by trade is an ophthalmologist couldn't help himself. It does seem to be a little bit personal, though.

TAPPER: There seems to be something suggested there about the glasses. I don't know what exactly.

Hipster-ish at a minimum, right?

TAPPER: Perhaps, that's what it is.

Molly, let me -- let's listen to some sound from Dick Cheney, the former vice president who weighed in on the fight with the Politico's Mike Allen this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said I didn't want to get into the endorsing or criticizing any candidate. I did express the view that I think isolationism is crazy. Anybody who went through 9/11 who thinks we can retreat behind our oceans and we'll be safe and secure is, I'm sorry, but they're out to lunch.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: We're having the former vice president on the show tomorrow. We're seeing a lot of him these days. He is really -- he wants to play in this battle for the Republican Party's soul on foreign policy.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL STAFF REPORTER, ATLANTA: Yes. Well, you know, the Republican Party still has never resolved these tensions internally over Iraq. You know, obviously, a lot off Republicans I think a majority now believe the war in Iraq was a bad idea. And Rand Paul really believes that he has a winning argument when he goes to the base of the Republican Party and says that they should turn against that type of a foreign policy.

But figures like Dick Cheney and Dick Cheney in particular are never going to stop defending those decisions that they made. You know, I think the fact that Dick Cheney disagrees with Rand Paul on foreign policy is the least surprising thing that you can think of. But the fact that Rick Perry does is a little bit more surprising. And I think we see him starting to carve out a sort of establishment niche in advance of the 2016 primary here.

TAPPER: I want to turn to some comments made by the attorney general Eric Holder who gave an interview to ABC News Pierre Thomas and said this when asked about a comment he said saying he and the president were sometimes treated differently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It seems to me that this president has been treated differently than others. There's a certain racial component to this for some people. I don't think this is a main driver but for some, there is a racial animus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: These are things that President Obama does not say. Eric Holder seems to be -- has license to say them?

MARTIN: Well, in some ways he is saying the things that Obama perhaps thinks that isn't comfortable saying publicly at least.

TAPPER: As president?

MARTIN: As president. I don't think it's not terribly shocking that there are some folks in this country who have problems with President Obama over race.

TAPPER: No, not at all. And it's pretty factual. It's true.

MARTIN: Of course it is. But it is striking to see Holder go out actually say that bluntly especially given the fact that during the first term, the Obama high command was so sensitive about Holder being off the reservation and to speaking too bluntly. Now second term, not running for re-election anymore, go for it.

TAPPER: One last note is that Hillary Clinton is going to be doing the daily show which, of course, is all just part of her book tour, Molly.

BALL: Of course. Well, and this is what every politician does when they're striving to show that they're loose and relatable and maybe a little bit fun and sort of a man of the people.

TAPPER: Or woman of the people.

BALL: Woman of the people play, of course, using that generically. But it is funny how, you know, Hillary has started doing these candidate type things. And there was some point at which the fulcrum switched from we don't know if she's running for president to, of course, she is, look what she's doing.

TAPPER: Don't you think she is running -- I mean, seriously, do you have any doubt in your mind?

BALL: Nobody seems to have doubt now. But when was the moment that that became the conventional wisdom, right? It sure happened without anybody noticing sometime in the last several months.

MARTIN: She's taking every step that would suggest she is and if not, Democrats have a serious problem.

TAPPER: All right, Jonathan Martin and Molly Ball, thank you so much.

We have some breaking news in our world lead. The Israeli cabinet is throwing together an emergency meeting in the middle of the spiraling conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Let's get back to Wolf Blitzer, host of "the SITUATION ROOM." He is live in Jerusalem.

Wolf, what are they meeting about?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: They are meeting about the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire in the Israelis clearly, Jake, are taking it very seriously. They think it's a serious proposal put forward by the Egyptians for an immediate cease fire between Israel and Hamas. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet will meet first thing tomorrow morning to review the specifics, but they wouldn't be calling this emergency meeting, the special meeting of the cabinet if they weren't taking it seriously.

This is a pretty encouraging sign at least from the Israeli perspective that they're willing to consider this Egyptian proposal which calls for cessation of Hamas rockets and missiles coming into Israel, a cessation of ground attacks going against Hamas in Gaza, be would take effect as early as tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. Greenwich meantime. But the Israeli cabinet will meet early first thing tomorrow morning to consider this Egyptian proposal.

I know it is being taken very seriously, by the way, Jake, because at right at the top of the hour in "the SITUATION ROOM," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief spokesman Mark Regev was supposed to be my guest. He unfortunately had to cancel. The Israelis aren't ready to speak publicly about these Egyptian proposals. He, of course, knew that would be my first question, what do you think of the proposal. So the Israelis are going into asylum's mode right now until their cabinet meets tomorrow morning to determine whether or not to accept these Egyptian proposals. But they are taking him very seriously which is an encouraging sign. My suspicion is so far, more or less, the Israelis like what the Egyptians are proposing.

TAPPER: Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. And of course, we'll have much more from Wolf at the top of the hour. Thank you so much.

Coming up on THE LEAD, if it's good enough for Lebron and the Republican National Committee, we should probably stop calling it the mistake on the lake but basketball aside, why King James return means big things for Cleveland. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Money Lead now. It has been 50 years and, to be frank, a few moon landings since Cleveland last held a ticker tape parade celebrating any sort of championship. And that's hardly the worst part. The collapse of industrial America, automakers, big steel, the city has been suffering for some time with too high unemployment, a brain drain. But Clevelanders now suddenly have a little bit more to hope for these days. The return of King James may symbolize much more than just one athlete changing jerseys.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): It turns out the Drew Carey show was right all along Cleveland rocks.

If you're keeping score at home, the city named after General Moses Cleveland is winning and winning big. That could mean big bucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. We got cartwheels down the street.

TAPPER: After a stint in the slightly more glamorous Miami, basketball's best, Lebron James is coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers because, he says, he missed his hard scrabble hometown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be the first time we get a championship in over 50 years.

TAPPER: Along with that championship ring, could Cleveland also get a shiny new economy?

DAN ROSENNECK, SPORTS EDITOR, "THE ECONOMIST": For the basketball team that Cleveland Cavaliers getting Lebron is a gigantic windfall.

TAPPER: Dan Rosenneck is the sports editor at "The Economist."

ROSENNECK: Lebron is very big business and basketball is very big business. Cleveland is a pretty big town. And the economy is as big as the economy of the country of Hungary so trying to find the impact of one player is a needle in a haystack.

TAPPER: The Cavs are not only the sports team in town getting a morale boost. Johnny Football now calls Cleveland home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main thing in my life is football and trying to be as good a quarterback as possible.

TAPPER: The beleaguered Browns snagged Johnny Manziel in the NFL draft instantly making Cleveland one of the most exciting football cities to watch this fall. The big sports news last week came on the heels of a massive political win for the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're thrilled to stand here today to say that Cleveland will host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

SEN. BOB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Cleveland's on upswing just like the Republican Party needs to be. I think it makes it a more inclusive convention almost by location.

TAPPER: If these hopeful predictions prove true, it will be welcome news for the town perhaps best known for its river catching fire. It wasn't so long ago after all that this spoof tourism video by local comedian, Mike Polk, Jr. rang all too true in the city that haters call the mistake by the lake.

NED HILL, ECONOMIST: This is a wonderful week where Cleveland's overnight sensation 30 years in the making.

TAPPER: Ned Hill is an economist who says the billion dollars Cleveland has invested over the past 30 years is finally paying off.

HILL: Being in a position so that we're actually competitive for the convention, which we weren't ten years ago is a marker of progress.

TAPPER: Between those convention balloons, Lebron and Johnny, it's looking like a big win for a city fighting its way back.

Coming up next, it's the time of year when theme parks are packed, which is why every parent is going to want to hear the troubling topic of our latest CNN special investigation. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Buried Lead now. A six-month CNN investigation finds that sexual predators are getting hired at some of America's best known theme parks. It's a story airing tonight on "AC360." CNN investigative correspondent, Kyra Phillips joins us now for more. Kyra, what did you discover?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I'll tell you what I discovered and that's employees at these famous theme parks, you know, they're around our children. You have absolutely no idea how perverse they are. We're talking about men who work the rides, they operate a security guards, even performers.

And they're being arrested for sex crimes against our children. You're actually going to hear from some of them in our story, as well. Now, to be clear. None of these cases, Jake, involved guests, teenagers, kids visiting the parks. However, child advocates tell us this is still a tremendous threat.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, he is known nationally for these aggressive sex stings. That's how we discovered this pattern of theme park arrests. Here's just a taste of had his passion to take down these child sex predators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: I talked to a number of these men. They said it's entrapment. I was totally setup.

SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: What else are they going to say? Get on national news and say I'm a pervert? I'm a child predator? I seek sex with him little boys? No, they're not going to say that. When they tell you that, look them in the eye and say you're a liar. What you really are is a pervert, a sexual pervert and a child predator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So what is the answer? How do you keep these predators from being hired in the first place?

PHILLIPS: That's a great question. Ongoing and intense background checks for sure and these parks say they are doing that, Jake, with all their power. However, there could be more. That brings our story right in there, as well. It's prompting action on Capitol Hill. We'll have that for you, as well on "AC360" tonight at 8:00.

TAPPER: You pointed out none of these crimes involved guests visiting the parks.

PHILLIPS: That's correct. Most of the cases occurred outside the parks except for a couple of these men arrested for downloading child porn at work. However experts we spoke with tell us it doesn't matter where these crimes took place, the threat is still there -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kyra, the full investigation airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern on "AC360" only on CNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" live from Jerusalem -- Mr. Blitzer.