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Effects Of Medical Marijuana; Big Business Of Retracing Lincoln's Final Hours. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 15, 2015 - 16:30   ET



He said that ISIS continues to advance from all sides, getting closer to the city center. He said that, so far, around 10 Iraqi security forces killed, 100 wounded. But he put it, quite simply, if they do not get reinforcements at this stage, the entire city will very soon be under ISIS control, a source of great frustration for Essawi (ph) and other commanders we have been speaking to battling in Ramadi has been this lack of, it would seem, government reinforcements.

They want troops and they want to see more Iraqi and coalition airstrikes. They fail to understand why it is that these airstrikes have not materialized, especially before ISIS was able to make such a significant advance into the city of Ramadi, Jake.

TAPPER: Arwa Damon live in Baghdad, be safe, please. Thank you so much.

In our politics lead, he's not even officially running, but he's still saying he will beat Hillary Clinton and that he'd be a better president than Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, defiant as he heads to New Hampshire. Is he going to jump into the race? That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead today, "I will beat Hillary Clinton," not me. That defiant statement, however, came from perhaps the most blunt candidate on the campaign trail, New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie. He said that in New Hampshire today, where he is launching perhaps a presidential campaign comeback tour of sorts, going after not only Hillary Clinton, but taking a couple of shots at former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as well.

Now, Christie might have been written off by pundits after Bridgegate caused some donors to flee and some poll numbers to plummet. But he is out there hosting a town hall, glad-handing, trying to drum up support for a possible White House bid.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is live for us in the great Granite State of New Hampshire.

Joe, national polls find Christie right now at the bottom of the pack. How's he planning to overcome that lack of voter support in a very crowded field?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, for one thing, it's about New Hampshire. This is a state that's been known to give second chances to politicians. It's about town halls. He sees himself as flourishing in this format, did one today here in Londonderry.

And it's also I think very much about truth-telling. He's been talking today about Social Security and Medicare, the third trail of American politics, trying to be very bold.


JOHNS (voice-over): Governor Chris Christie is still making waves.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I saw -- read somewhere that Secretary Clinton said she wants to -- she intends to raise $2.5 billion for her campaign, but she wants to then get the corrupting money out of politics. It's classic, right? It's classic politician- speak.

JOHNS: And he's still brash, making bold predictions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you about Mrs. Clinton's campaign. Can you beat her, Chris Christie?

CHRISTIE: If I run, I will beat her.

JOHNS: And taking on potential Republican rival Jeb Bush.

CHRISTIE: If I decide to run for president, you can conclude that it's because I believe I would be a better candidate for our party and a better president than Jeb Bush or anybody else who is deciding to run.

JOHNS: With national polls putting him at 7 percent in the Republican field, Christie is hoping to turn around his political fortunes. His strategy for a comeback? The town hall venue that has served him well in New Jersey, where he's done more than 130 such events.

But parts of his New Jersey record have followed him to the Granite State, namely the Bridgegate controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they told me you were coming here, I went down and made sure -- personally made sure that the bridges were...


CHRISTIE: Oh, see? I heard there were a lot of wise guys at this diner this morning, so that was good. Which direction is the bridge? I will make sure...


JOHNS: He says he wishes he could have a do-over on the bridge controversy, but he can't. A federal prosecutor is looking into the case. CNN's been told no charges will be brought against Christie. But the fate of his two aides is unclear.

Christie partially blames Bridgegate on his trusting nature and tendency to delegate responsibilities.

CHRISTIE: I delegate enormous authority to my staff.

JOHNS: But now, while testing the waters, Christie wants to talk about big ideas, including a proposal to means-test Social Security recipients based on income.

CHRISTIE: Politicians don't want to talk about it because, like you said, it creates heartburn in some people. Well, you know what? These problems create heartburn in people.


JOHNS: How long is it going to take him to decide whether to get into this race? He told this audience today at the town hall it would be around the end of the spring or early June -- Jake.

TAPPER: Joe Johns in the great state of New Hampshire, thank you so much.

Joining us to talk about the race for 2016 and some other matters is "New York Times" op-ed columnist David Brooks. He's author of the new book titled "The Road to Character."

David, thanks so much for being here.

I want to get to your book in a second, but questions about character are going to be a major factor in determining who becomes the next president. Let me start with Governor Christie. Can he come back, do you think? Is there a path for him to the nomination?


One of the things that you notice when you watch Christie is, early in his race, I guess he campaigned on brashness. And he was going to be tough, straight-talking. Now he's so afraid of being overbearing, he has a tendency sometimes to be underbearing and just not his true self.

So he ends up muddled. He is going to have some way to be durable. He has to be the kind of dinner party guest you want to stay for two-and-a-half-hours, rather than just like 90 minutes. He has got to find a way to be brash, but not on your nerves. And I don't think he's quite found that yet. TAPPER: He did say to Laura Ingraham, as you heard, that if he

runs, you can conclude that he thinks he'd make a better president than Jeb Bush or anyone else and he also said Bush's foreign policy speech gave no insight into what Bush wants to do.


This is the strongest I have heard a Republican come out against any other potential Republican rival at this stage. What's the strategy here?


Well, he clearly has decided that Bush is vapid, I guess, would be the crude term. And I do think that's Governor Bush's vulnerability. When you look at the candidates now, my view is, all you have to do is look at the stuff, who's got stuff, like a pitcher has stuff in spring training.

And we have some show tremendous quality. I think we have seen Marco Rubio show intellectual creativity. We have shown Walker have a great personal story, the confrontation he had in Wisconsin. And so those are the two guys who are really overperforming.

I have seen Governor Bush a few times and his out-of-practice- ness shows. And it shows in terms of vagueness. Sometimes he's outstanding, sometimes just mediocre. And I think Governor Christie is hitting him on that. He's just out of practice.

TAPPER: Christie says if he runs, he will beat Hillary. But as you know and you have written about at length, the demographics are very tough for the Republican Party. Do you think any of these Republicans can beat her?

BROOKS: Yes, there's no question it's stacked against them because every growing group in the country is a Democratic group. If the electorate of the future was made up of 68-year-old white men from Florida, the Republican Party would be doing awesome. But it's not.

But in the near term, there are a couple things helping the Republicans. First, the graying of the electorate is helping counterbalance the browning of the electorate. As people get older, they get a little more Republican.

Second, the white working-class is now shifting overwhelmingly in the Republican direction. You're seeing a lot of states with heavy immigrant populations, like Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, they're not going Democrat the way a lot of us thought. They're turning Republican. So at least in the near term, I do think the Republican nominee, whoever that happens to be, starts out on a level playing field.

Over the long term, much better news for the Democrats.

TAPPER: Let's talk about your book, which is really very interesting and very personal. It's focused on, in your view, how society is far too focused on resume and career, not enough people are focused on character and being called to make the world a better place.

Do you see any of the candidates on the Republican or Democratic side exemplifying the virtue that you talk about, you write about in your book?

BROOKS: We spend a lot of time around politicians. I would say in general, I think most of them are in it for the right reason.

They are genuinely good people. They want to do public service. Their life is just not that glamorous, that they do it just for ego or just for self-interest. But they're in a miserable system. And the way it's miserable is it hollows them out inside because they are their product they're selling.

So they become sort of the ultra version of the culture of the big me, that I'm promoting and I'm branding myself. I'm trying to make you like me. And what I think a lot of them lack, which was not true even 50 years ago and certainly not true with a great president like Abraham Lincoln, was an internal voice, an internal compass.

I think they come with that. But the system bleaches it out of them. And so what I'm looking for sometimes in a candidate, they have to do the talking points, we all know that, but do they have an honest internal compass? That's hard for all of us and especially hard for them.

TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, you have a chapter, maybe my favorite chapter, on President Eisenhower. You say he embodies self- conquest in the sense that he was able to face down his weaknesses, his temper and his anger.

He worked on them and he fought them. Do you see anyone in the ranks of these candidates with that kind of self-awareness about their faults?

BROOKS: Yes, I think we want to see two things in a candidate. First, are they willing to not win for the sake of their own integrity?

I have a friend who hires a lot of people. And he asks them in part of the interview process, name a time you told the truth and it hurt you. We want to see our candidates do that.

Second, and as for these presidential candidates, as the campaign goes on, we will see if they're capable of that. I think it's very important they are. Second, have they tasted failure and humiliation and bounced back? As I look over this field, I see a lot of candidates who actually haven't.

Ted Cruz, Rubio, they haven't tasted it. With Hillary Clinton, we actually do know she's faced adversity and bounced back. Some of the Republicans, we will see. I just would emphasize that we emphasize the policy matters and we emphasize a lot of the things in a presidential campaign. In every presidency I have covered, character is really destiny.

And we have to look at the candidates for their own integrity, as much as anything else.

TAPPER: David Brooks, it's a great book. And we wish you the best of luck with it. Thanks for being here.

BROOKS: Thanks so much, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, changing opinions on medical marijuana, the growing support to legalize the substance, despite not knowing the risks that marijuana may have long down the road.

Plus, 150 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the fascination with him, with his death, with the conspiracy, it's all become big business -- how retracing Abe's final hours has become a moneymaker for some.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In national headlines today, a brand new survey shows this country's very rapidly changing attitude towards marijuana. In a Pew Research survey, 53 percent of the American public now says weed should be legal.

Yet an earlier poll shows almost seven in 10 say alcohol is more harmful to their health than pot and nearly half of those surveyed have tried marijuana. Almost half of the country has legalized marijuana at this point in terms of states.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been investigating medical marijuana for three years now. He's documenting a veteran who's been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder who tried to commit suicide. The veteran later turned to medical marijuana as a last resort.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How much does it concern you that there's not a lot of science behind this, it hasn't really been studied at least not in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he wasn't doing this, the fear is he wouldn't be here. If there are some side effects we have to deal with down the road that haven't been studied yet, I figure we'll take that when it comes. But for now, the children and I have our husband and father with us.


TAPPER: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now. Sanjay, thanks for joining us. Should this patient be worried that doctors know very little about the benefits of medical marijuana?

GUPTA: Well, you know, part of the reason we wanted to show that clip, Jake, is because that is the reality for a lot of folks. The answer to your question is, yes.

[16:50:10] But keep in mind, when you look at the story of a veteran like Sean Kernen, high-functioning guy, banker, four children, he's married. This whole life and he has these terrible symptoms of posttraumatic stress, nothing's worked for him, Jake.

He's gone through all the medications that the doctors prescribed for him. Not only do they not work, he overdosed, nearly died from trying to get better.

So, yes, we need more research. They need to figure out what strains, what doses. For him, it's a lot of trial and error right now. That's been the point all along. These things should be studied like any other medicine would be studied.

TAPPER: But as you note, weed cannot be used for clinical use. So how can researchers get their hands on marijuana to study it as you suggest?

GUPTA: Well, there are federal mandates, federal laws that if a study gets approved, then you can get marijuana from one federal farm in Mississippi, interestingly, it's in the middle of the campus of Ole Miss University, the one federally funded farm in the country.

But for non-federally approved studies, studies done at the state level, as you know, Jake, there are 23 states that allow medical marijuana to be grown and sold. Some of those states could make the marijuana there available for study.

But it's fragmented. It's hard. You've got the one federally approved farm that may not make enough marijuana. So it's really just very scattered right now -- Jake.

TAPPER: This is the third hour of your weed trilogy. You're a true expert on this now. What surprised you the most in filming this one?

GUPTA: You know, the first time we did this a few years ago now, Jake, I mean, no one would really sit down and talk to us. Government officials at these various agencies which have to approve these studies, they weren't talking. Patients were very reluctant to talk.

You know, over the last few years now, you've seen a change. You just talked about that. You've seen obviously public perception, over 50 percent. Now you have a majority for the first time in 40 years saying, we think that this is something that's worth considering, three-quarters of the country says it should be immediately made available for medicinal purposes.

Now, senators will talk to us. Heads of all the agencies will talk to us, patients will talk to us. The president of the United States will talk to us. So I think we described this as a revolution, a scientific revolution.

And I think what surprised us is you just see signs of it everywhere, there's been more studies now approved in the last 12 months, Jake, than in the 12 years previous. TAPPER: Wow.

GUPTA: That's what a revolution looks like.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you. You can watch "Weed 3, The Marijuana Revolution. It premiers Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

When we come back, we'll take a step back in time.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Money Lead now, the big business of Abe Lincoln? Today marks 150 years since the death of our country's 16th president and the tourists have descended upon Washington, D.C. to experience the assassination all over again.

Some memorials today help similar one would imagine to those on April 15th, 1865. History buffs crowding Ford's Theater, the spot where Lincoln was shot. The venue kept its doors shut for more than a century after the assassination.

But now it's once again home to live performances and hosting visitors looking for connections to such a powerful moment in American history.


TAPPER (voice-over): This morning the bells of Washington, D.C. tolled to remember Lincoln. It was 150 years ago when this nation lost President Abraham Lincoln to an assassin's bullet. The man who held the union together and freed the slaves still captivates us. His legacy drives sales, books, movies.


TAPPER: Even spoofs. Decades later, the silk has worn, but his hat remains instantly recognizable. Thousands of tourists are flocking here to get a glimpse of where it all happened in Washington, D.C.'s Ford's Theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people don't realize that it was John Wilkes Booth and a handful of his colleagues and friends -- they were going to kill the president, the vice president, secretary of state and really -- their concept was take down the entire union government and hopefully the south would rise again.

TAPPER: Today Ford's Theater is equal parts playhouse, museum and shrine. Paul Titro (ph) is the director and something of a historian. We asked him how the assassin got so close to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor of the time. Imagine if Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp went after the president. TAPPER: The president's valet actually let Booth into the president's box. Booth squeezed the trigger on this pistol and shot Lincoln in the back of the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the bloody knife that he had cut Major Ralph's bone. He held that up when he landed on stage and yelled six (inaudible), which of course is that's always the tyrant. That's the actual knife.

TAPPER: Lincoln was taken across the street to the Peterson house. He never regained consciousness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the bloody pillow where his head was laid that night and he fought for his life throughout that whole evening.

TAPPER: Lincoln died the next morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does every presidential candidate running, why does every president wrap themselves in Abraham Lincoln because he still matters -- everyone wants to follow in his footsteps.

TAPPER: Lincoln's words and ideas and memories still hold and form us and shape us and likely will for the next 150 years, as well.


TAPPER: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.