Return to Transcripts main page


300 Homes Threatened in California Wildfire; Boat with Migrants Capsizes Off Libya; Does Clinton Need Another Democratic Candidate? Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2015 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:08] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, everybody, for starting your morning with us.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


JOHNS: Running from the flames. Hundreds of homes threatened by a wildfire in drought stricken southern California.

PAUL: And Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton. Would less attention be on her if she wasn't the only Democratic presidential candidate?

ANNOUNCER: This is breaking news.

PAUL: We are always so grateful to have your company in the morning. Thank you for being with us. I'm Christi Paul.

JOHNS: And I'm Joe Johns, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: So good to have you with us here again, even though you got that 2:00 a.m. wake up.

JOHNS: It's all good.

PAUL: Yes.

Hey, listen, we have to get you some breaking news out of southern California this hour. More than 300 firefighters are racing to battle a raging brushfire there.

JOHNS: Now, this fire broke out around 6:00 last night near Corona, California, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, and it already forced evacuations of 300 families.


RESIDENT: I'm quite scared for my family, and don't know what I need to do, if I need to get back and start planning evacuations, or what?

RESIDENT: There's some new housing developments. If it goes further the other direction, there's a lot of new housing.


PAUL: All right. So, 14 crews are on the screen, we understand right now.

Captain Mike Mohler at the Riverside Fire Department is joining us by phone.

We understand that, you know, since 6:00 a.m. when things were seeming to take shape, this is 13 and 14 hours in, and already 300 acres? What has changed in the last couple of hours?

CAPT. MIKE MOHLER, RIVERSIDE COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): Well, fortunately, Mother Nature overnight has been on our side. We have seen humidity levels come up to 90 percent, and the wind has dissipated. So, fire fighters have made some good progress overnight. But we still have a lot of open fire line to go with only 15 percent containment.

PAUL: You know, that a woman was just talking about a new development that's going up. So, it sounds as though there are homes that would be just frames that would be -- would go up very quickly. How close is the fire to that development?

MOHLER: It's approximately half a mile away from that development. Fortunately, the fire is burning away from that area, but we have crews in structure defense protecting those properties.

PAUL: And, of course, the drought is something we have been watching over the last couple of years even in California. How does that affect the way you fight this fire?

MOHLER: Well, this area hasn't burned in decades. It's actually a basin for a dam that hasn't seen waters in years. So, it's been very difficult due to the drought. These fuels are in critical level. So, it makes a recipe for explosive fire growth.

PAUL: And you mentioned 300 firefighters, but it was 300 homes that were in danger as well and evacuations. Where are those people going?

MOHLER: There is an evacuation center in the city of Norco called the Riley Gymnasium and that's being staffed by Red Cross. But we are happy to report that the street area in the city of Corona, we have lifted the evacuation partially, so some residents are being able to go home as we speak.

PAUL: So, Captain, really quickly, when we started the show a couple hours ago, it was 15 percent contained. Are you confident you will be able to make progress, and what is the containment number now?

MOHLER: Well, we're still at 300 acres, 15 percent containment. But I can tell you, overnight I'm sure that containment is going to go up, along with the acreage, and that's something we'll hear when the operations come in off the line.

PAUL: All righty. Well, Captain Mike Mohler, thank you for giving us the update.

Certainly, our thoughts are with you and all the families out there and your crews as they're doing some really important work. Best of luck.

MOHLER: Thank you.

JOHNS: So, Ivan Cabrera joining us now.

If I heard him right, there is some ground that has not seen water in years? I mean, that's like unthinkable in parts of the East Coast.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, we are talking about areas that don't get into the fires, and they are because we are talking about the exceptional drought in California. He mentioned a couple things here that are helping the firefighting efforts, and humidity has gone up, that happens through the overnight, the temperatures also go down, that has also happen.

But the inverse will occur throughout the day today, and I think we will have higher temperatures as we get the warming there, but the humidity is going to crash by later this afternoon, and that's not going to help. So, hopefully, they got good containment overnight, and hopefully they can update the 15 percent, which is the latest we have in those 200 structures that have been threatened from 300 acres that have now burned across the area.

Here is the moisture trying to come in. It's not going to make it. We have the moisture in place because of the overnight temperatures that go down, go close to the due point as we get that high relative humidity.

[08:05:01] That's very helpful. But by later this afternoon we will get the humidity numbers right back to 25 and then reverse that through the overnight.

So, I think the progress mainly will be through the overnight hours because by the time we get into the afternoon, not only will we have temperatures in the 80s, but the winds will gust from 20 to 25 miles per hour as we see on our graphic here by the time we get into the afternoon. And then the fire itself creating its own wind, and that creates erratic situations for the firefighters here. Hilly terrain, that's an issue and that's a hindrance to get it under control quickly.

But we are not talking about 50-mile-per-hour winds that will take things out of control and we are not talking about conditions where there are temperatures in the 90s here.

Yes, wish we could get water on here, but that's not going to happen. We are technically in the dry season in California, so no rain over the next few days.

PAUL: All righty. Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much.

JOHNS: Breaking news off the coast of Libya. Rescue crews are raising to save hundreds of people after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya. We're told as many as 700 people were onboard the boat.

Let's bring in Barbie Nadeau, bureau chief for "The Daily Beast" our correspondent. What do we know about the accident?

BARBIE NADEAU, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, we know that the SOS came at 11:30 local time lat night. The ship was in trouble then. They called the Italian coast, which alerted the closest nearest merchant vessel in the area. When that merchant vessel as we understand, from the supervisors, got close to the ship, people panic, all went to one side of the boat and that's what caused it to capsize and the water was cold and it was dark, and the chances of survival are slim.

And by the time the rest of the authorities got there was very few people survived, and we are understand 50 people are making their way on a rescue vessel, and they will be interviewed, of course, to find out the dynamics of the human trafficking and all of that, and what really led to this disaster.

JOHNS: Right. There was another migrant ship that capsized a few days ago. As the U.N. or any other NGO tried to come in with some fix for this problem of people taking this dangerous crossing to get out of the Africa conflict zone?

NADEAU: Well, you know, the European Union has been talking about this for a very long time. They got a meeting set up in May to present an agenda, but this has to be stopped in Libya or Sub-Saharan Africa, and some of them have been on the move for weeks if not longer to try and get to the ports in Libya.

There is a well-oiled machine with the human traffickers, first by land and then by sea, and they feel the need for these desperate people who just want to get to Europe at all costs. Many of the people that do make it say they are well worth the risk, and they are leaving a much more difficult situation, so even risking their lives is better than saying in Sub-Saharan Africa in many ways -- Joe.

JOHNS: So, typically, you have a lot of people up top at the ship, but people in the hold would be the people who would be more exposed to danger were it to list, I would assume?

NADEAU: That's right. Even the pricing structure by the human traffickers, based on whether -- you know, some of the fishing vessels, people are crammed into what used to be the frozen live tank compartments in the bottom of the shape. Those are the cheaper tickets. People that want to be out on the upper deck, which is the prime space pay a little more for that service.

But those are the people, you know, in this particular case that probably are the ones that survive, and the people jam packed into the hauls of the ships have no way to get out, and one could imagine the panic you think you have if your ship is going under anyway. You see someone that's there to rescue you, try to get to the boat and it's all over at that point.

JOHNS: Unthinkable. Thank you so much for that, Barbie Nadeau. We will be following that closely.

PAUL: So, we all know it. You have seen the ad. Hillary Clinton is running for president. But a lot of people are asking this question, is the spotlight too bright on the former secretary of state? Does she need a Democratic challenger to be successful in the White House?


[08:13:20] JOHNS: Hillary Clinton set to make a big stop in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire tomorrow. This comes right after several of her top GOP rivals took shots at the only 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. During the final day of the Republican summit, they mocked her highly criticized trip to Chipotle, and her use of personal e-mail accounts.

Now, joining us is political columnist for "The Daily Beast", Patricia Murphy.

So, Patricia, Hillary Clinton doesn't have any Democratic candidates to compete with so far. And I suppose the first question is, do you think she needs challenger?

PATRICIA MURPHY, THE DAILY BEAST: I think most people think she needs a challenger. I think any campaign knows that the best way to get better at campaigning, by having a real robust campaign, especially Hillary Clinton and her past campaigns has been better and at her best against a real challenge.

So, in 2000, she really rose to the occasion with Rick Lazio. She was in 2008, she was super rusty until she got to New Hampshire, and had her back up against the wall, and was really doing hard core retail campaigning, and she is not going to have that moment in 2016. That's become very clear. That's not going to happen for her.

So, Democrats, I think about it like spring training. They would like to see her have a little of practice before she gets to the general election, and that's probably not going to happen for her.

JOHNS: You know, you talk to people at the dinner parties in Washington, and there are people that say she is not a very good campaigner, she has a glass jaw if she gets hit with a good political punch, the whole organization sort of folds.

[08:15:00] Do you think that's something that can be solved just by mixing it up with one candidate, or is it more about Hillary Clinton?

MURPHY: Well, I think Hillary Clinton -- I think it's personal to her. She is not Bill Clinton. Retail campaigning has never been her strong suit. She has been the policy person and the strategy person but never really great in large groups, especially.

That's why her campaign has her out there with small groups in areas that she has been good at before, when she has been able to be emotional, to not seem like she's on the defensive, when she's able to just have one-on-one conversations with people. That's a little bit artificial and a little bit staged and that's not going to be able to last forever, to the benefit of not having an opponent, you will win the primary anyway.

But how good of a candidate are you going to be, and how good can she be without getting a lot of real hard core practice before she really needs to?

JOHNS: OK, so let's go to the Cheryl Rios question.


MURPHY: Yes, let's.

JOHNS: Yes, exactly.

CNN interview, a female CEO named Cheryl Rios. So, listen to what she said about having a female president.


NADIA BELCHIK, CNN: We have had people like Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, who very successfully run countries.


BELCHIK: So what about those women?

RIOS: I am not saying that people can't -- every woman should aspire to be as great as she can be, and build businesses and do amazing things and be a doctor and lawyer, and I by no means said I don't support women, and I was speaking of one particular position and if a woman wants a run for it, go ahead, it doesn't mean I have to support that.

I am not changing my comment in reference to Hillary, and I would never vote for Hillary. I personally would not be voting for a female. I do not believe in that position, in my personal opinion, should be a female.


JOHNS: OK. So, if you hear that, and now probably not a lot of people are willing to express that sentiment on national television, but the question remains whether that sentiment still exist out there in the populace?

MURPHY: There is a good bit of polling now that shows that sentiment really does not exist in the populist. Pretty much, 85 to 90 percent said, yes, we are ready for a female president, and are they ready for Hillary Clinton to be their president? That's what it's all about.

But most Americans don't agree with that sentiment at all, and there's a growing body of scientific research that says women are not inferior because of their biology. They're actually better than men at leading because of their biology. So, I think that the idea that a woman can't be or shouldn't be president and is not capable to be president is both antiquated and not widely held. Apparently not by me if I can share that opinion.

JOHNS: Patricia Murphy with the "Daily Beast" -- thank you so much. Great to see you.

MURPHY: Great to see you, thanks.

PAUL: Thanks, Tricia.

OK, a majority of Americans say they are in favor of legalizing pot. Next, my conversation with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on why he is so passionate about getting medical marijuana legalized in America.


[08:21:59] PAUL: Twenty-one minutes past the hour, and so good to see you.

You know, a majority of Americans polled said they favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical reasons. Well, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explore the subject tonight at 9:00 Eastern on "Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution." Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought I would be smoking weed in the hospital.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is San Francisco General, an academic teaching hospital that because of Dr. Abrams has a stash of marijuana in their pharmacy. It is stored next to all the other medications.

And Abrams is using it to see if it can relieve chronic pain in patients with a rare blood disorder.

Janellea (ph) is a painter, and she was born with sickle cell anemia, and has been in pain for as long as she can remember. She says marijuana makes her nearly pain free.

GUPTA (on camera): How long after you smoke do you have a relief of your pain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instantly. It's, like, instantly.

GUPTA: A couple of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a couple minutes after you feel the relief of pain.


PAUL: Sanjay shared why he is so passionate about legalizing medical marijuana specifically. Listen to this.


GUPTA: We know there are accepted medical uses of marijuana, and I think what made it more person for me there's lots of data showing this, and what made it more personal for me, there are people out there that it's the only thing that works for them, and I think it just changes the whole thing, and almost became a question of how it would be immoral to not provide something that could benefit somebody when nothing else has worked.

PAUL: What specific medical benefits have you seen that really struck you?

GUPTA: Well, there are a lot of stories, and I should say behind every story is a lot of other people who this person represents, but, you know, I saw this little girl Charlotte Figi, and she was having 300 seizures a week. She tried everything, seven different generations of medications. They even wanted to start formulating veterinary medications for her because nothing was working, and then they decided to try cannabis, and it was really hard because it was still at that time, they live in the great wild west, even in Colorado, no one had rally done it before, and they found a non-psycho active oil, and not smoking it, and they give it to her, she is now having one to two seizures a month compared to 300 a week.

Again, she's emblematic of so many other children out there. But can you imagine if it was illegal, she would be having 300 seizures a week. She's now -- I met her, she's guiding me around, introducing me to her friends. It was unbelievable to see the impact it has had on her.


[08:25:00] PAUL: It's really a fascinating conversation. The premiere of "Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution." It airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You don't want to miss it.

PAUL: And immediately following "Weed 3" at 9:00, "High Profits," an eight-part series about two business-minded visionaries with plans to franchise recreational marijuana, airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Again, you can catch all of these starting tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.


JOHNS: Now, here is a look at other stories developing this morning. French customs officers have seized more than two tons of cocaine from a sailboat. One Venezuelan and two Spanish nationals were arrested on the raid off the coast of Martinique in the Caribbean. The value of the cocaine seized is estimated at more than $105 million.

PAUL: And then a charter bus carrying University of Connecticut students to Boston caught fire on a ramp to the Massachusetts turnpike. Look at this. No one was injured thankfully, but some of the students are blaming the driver for not stopping when the bus started having mechanical issues. The cause of the fire, of course, is under investigation now.

JOHNS: That looks terrible.

PAUL: I know. Thank goodness they got out all right.

Hey, we are always so grateful to have you spend the morning with us. So, thank you. We hope you make good memories today.


PAUL: Thank you to you for sticking around.

JOHNS: Thank you to you, this has been a blast.

PAUL: Oh, I'm glad you think so.