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Interview With Democratic Presidential Candidate Lincoln Chafee; Report: Head Of Al Qaeda In Yemen Killed; Congressional Campaign Accuser Lied To FBI; Teens Lose Limbs In North Carolina Shark Attack. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 15, 2015 - 16:30   ET


[16:30:30] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: John Ellis Bush, also known as Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, former governor of Florida, announcing that he is running for president of the United States, trying to do something that has not been done before, three presidents in history with the same last name.

Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent, in the room there at Miami-Dade College.

And, Dana, he took two direct shots at President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but there were some veiled references to his Republican challengers when he took on Washington, D.C., saying, we're not going to clean up the mess by electing the people who either helped create it or have proven incapable of fixing it, Dana.


There was no question that there was a lot of focus, maybe not-so- veiled references, not just it's Democrats, but to many the senators running.

Excuse me. One thing I wanted to point out that might have been hard to tell by watching this speech live is what happened when he was introducing his mother, and he kind of stopped and talked about immigration.

Off to the side, there was a group of protesters who got in. Clearly, they were dreamers, people protesting immigration laws, and specifically the laws governing children who come here not of their own volition. And he stopped.

And he went off-script and he addressed them specifically. And he said, you know, this is -- when I'm president, I will deal with this issue, not by executive order, which, of course, is what President Obama has done, but by legislation.

I think that was a very telling moment in two ways. One is just in style, that he addressed it head on, and he stopped his speech, even at the point when he was introducing his mother, but also in terms of substance. This is an issue, immigration, where he is different from many of his competitors in the Republican Party field.

You know, he's not entirely clear on the fact that he wants to do citizenship. He hasn't said that, but he is very aggressive in saying that he wants to deal with the problem of 11 million illegal undocumented workers in this country. And so the fact that he stopped and addressed it, I think, will be a moment that will be remembered -- Jake.

TAPPER: Dana, Dana Bash, thank you so much.

Let's bring in bring in CNN political commentators Dan Pfeiffer, who formerly worked at the Obama White House, and S.E. Cupp, a conservative commentator.

I want to get your takes.

Let me start with you, S.E., as the Republican on the panel. What was your take? How did you think he did?


I had been saying for quite some time that what was missing from the Jeb Bush pre-campaign campaign was seeing that fire in the belly, seeing that he wanted it, seeing that he could be as passionate as someone like Marco Rubio or Scott Walker.

And I saw sharp elbows in this speech. He said Obama has been catering to the pampered elites. He said Obama has been more interested in being a history maker than a peacemaker, phoning in a foreign policy, a glorified tourist going to Havana. His speechwriters were not trying to paint a happy warrior.


This is a guy who is willing, apparently, to take on the previous administration with some pretty sharp words. And, as Dana mentioned, that immigration moment, which I think could have been very fraught for Jeb Bush, given his position within the party, was a gift to him, an opportunity to sort of point out the failures of the current administration to deal with immigration reform in a meaningful way.

And, again, it really showed that fire in the belly. He waited very calmly, and then sort of off the cuff said, and, by the way, the next president is going to deal with that so that that problem is solved. It was a really, I thought, great moment for him and probably one they couldn't have scripted any better.

TAPPER: Dan, obviously, you disagree with Jeb Bush and many of the things he said, especially about your former boss, President Obama, but in a purely political analyst level, how do you think he did? Do you think people at Clinton H.Q. are watching and thinking, this guy is going to be tough?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think S.E. is right. He delivered a better speech than he's delivered to date. He showed energy. He showed fire in the belly. And that's good.

I saw two problems. One is that there is clearly -- it was two speeches merged together. The latter half, where he spoke in Spanish and talked about his family, was the joyful, inclusive conservatism that he has talked about in the past, and the first half, where he took veiled shots at his opponents, less veiled shots at the president and Secretary Clinton, is the speech that he had to give because the first six months of his campaign have knocked him off the clear front- runner status.

So, I think, all in all, a better day than I would have expected for Jeb Bush, but he has got a lot of work in front of him.

TAPPER: S.E., Governor Bush touting himself as something of a Washington outsider, saying that when he was in Tallahassee, the capital, Florida, he wasn't just another member of the club. Of course, this is a man whose grandfather was Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush, his father former president, his brother former president.

Can he really credibly make that argument that he's an outsider?

CUPP: Yes, it's a tough sell. He talks about being not just a former governor, but a reform governor, who took on the sort of establishment, and talked about the things that he's done in Florida, that he had done in Florida to really change circumstances for real Americans, for average people.

He tied Baltimore, recent events in Baltimore to the decisions he made as a governor on public education. And so I think he's trying to prove that he's an outsider by saying, here, I was on the ground, I was in the trenches. Here's what I did for Floridians, whether it job creation or school, education reform. I have been slogging it out, when the current folks that are running are either in Washington or have been part of the problem, unable to fix the problem, as he put it, in the past.

TAPPER: Dan, of all the Republican candidates right now, who do you think would be the toughest one for Hillary to beat, assuming she gets the nomination?

PFEIFFER: I think, on paper, it would be Marco Rubio. I think he has -- he looks like the future. He speaks to the future.

And I think -- always think the best campaign strategy is when you're running change vs. more of the same. And Marco Rubio would do that. Scott Walker would also do it. I think Jeb Bush would probably be one of the worst nominees Republicans could have, because if you're having a battle of dynasties, the Clinton dynasty is going to beat the Bush dynasty every time.

TAPPER: Right, the House Clinton vs. the House Bush, "Game of Thrones."

Dan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

There is now officially a Bush and a Clinton in the race for the White House, as Dan just mentioned. But with a long campaign ahead, are voters ready to anoint political royalty on either side?

One of Hillary Clinton's Democratic competitors will be here to weigh in coming up next.



TAPPER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Also in our politics lead today, former Governor Jeb Bush, Republican royalty, just announcing his bid for the Oval Office. But, as Governor Bush was unveiling his campaign, the other political royal seeking the Oval Office, Hillary Clinton, was hitting the trail in New Hampshire today.

Let's talk to one of her competitors.

Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee is a former governor and senator from Rhode Island.

Thanks so much for joining us, Governor Lincoln. Appreciate it.

Secretary Clinton, when she led the State Department, sided with President Obama on this controversial trade deal that failed in the House on Friday because Democrats opposed it. But candidate Clinton is saying the president should listen to the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi. What is your take on Clinton's evolution on the trade deal?

LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this is another example of Secretary Clinton doing her calculations before she takes a position.

And, as you said, she worked with President Obama in crafting the legislation, but now in crunch time, when the -- especially all the unions are opposed to it, she just doesn't have the courage to come out and take a position, and now just saying, support what Nancy Pelosi says.

My question would be to her, did you and Nancy Pelosi talk prior to Congresswoman Pelosi taking that position? Because I know Secretary Clinton needs that union support. And so I wondered if she talked to Nancy Pelosi before Congresswoman Pelosi took that position.

TAPPER: Governor Chafee, what's your path to the Democratic nomination here?

CHAFEE: I don't think Secretary Clinton is going to prevail.

It's just going to be a succession of charges against her, ethical charges, her position on the war. I just think it's going to catch up with her.

And then you're left with Governor O'Malley, Senator Sanders, Senator -- former Governor Chafee, and possibly Jim Webb. And I will take my chances in that scenario.

TAPPER: In 2002, you voted against going to war with Iraq. You were a Republican at the point, at that point, so that was a very unusual vote. You have just pointed it out, that Hillary Clinton voted for it. Let's talk about Iraq 2015, though. What's your strategy to stop ISIS?

CHAFEE: Well, this is a mistake we got into a Republican mistake that we got into. There were no weapons of mass destruction and so I think it's very, very important that the Democratic Party have a nominee that opposed the war because that's a big political advantage we have in combatting the Republicans going into 2016.

So how to fix it, certainly we need to strengthen our alliances, and do this in a multilateral way, it is a chaotic mess over there, it's a Republican chaotic mess, and so we need a Democrats nominee that opposed the war, as we look ahead to fixing it.

It's cost us $6 trillion this war. Think how much better we could have spent that money, and of course 4,000 dead Americans. It's a tremendous tragedy. To fix it I think we need someone in the beginning who opposed it.

That's the person would be better to strengthen those alliances appeared move forward, working with the Saudis, the Turks, even the Iranians, Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians, Europeans, Russians, that's how we're going to fix it.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Lincoln Chafee, thank you so much for spending time with us today. We appreciate it.

Coming up, we're just now learning new details on a suspected deadly U.S. drone strike that might have taken out of the one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. That story is next.


[16:50:39] TAPPER: We have some breaking news in our World Lead today, reports that the head of al Qaeda in Yemen, long considered one of the biggest threats to the U.S. national security, has been killed.

Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Barbara, what exactly do we know about this man, Nasir Al-Wuhayshi's reported death?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, right now, the U.S. is not confirming anything, but Yemeni officials, and a number of social media sites that are usually very reliable about al Qaeda information are saying that Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in Yemen has been killed in a suspected drone strike.

To be clear, the U.S. is not confirming that, but if Wuhayshi is dead, this is a significant blow to what the U.S. has long considered the most violent threatening element of al Qaeda in Yemen. They have vowed to attack the United States.

Their master bombmaker, a man named Al-Asiri, not being caught, still alive by all accounts. If Wuhayshi is dead, what about him? Will he try again to reach out? They are said to be responsible for the Christmas day bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner in 2009.

Said to be response for the bombs that are set to look like printer cartridges on board airliners. They have a very long record of being able and trying to reach out and attack the United States.

So if Wuhayshi is dead, a significant blow to the organization, he's responsible for targeting and financing, but the question right now is what about their bomb maker -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr, as you point out, a lot of talk about ISIS, but a lot of national security officials in the United States still think AQAP in Yemen the bigger threat to the homeland right now. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

Coming up, two teenagers attacked by sharks just minutes apart on the same stretch of a beach in North Carolina, one expert telling it's very likely the same shark went after both teens. So why have the officials not closed that beach? We will go to that beach live, next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now we bring you an update on the story we brought you last fall about sexual harassment allegations against the profile congressional candidate. In October, a former staffer to Carl Demayo accused the San Diego Republican of sexually harassing him. Both men are gay.

Demayo denied the charges and he said they were the cover story of a troubled former staffer who broke into his campaign after being fired. CNN investigative correspondent, Chris Frates, joins us with the latest twist in the saga -- Chris.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, on Friday Todd Bosnich pled guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to federal investigators, but not about the sexual harassment allegations.

Last June, Bosnich told the FBI that he had received an anonymous e- mail threatening to end his political career if he didn't stop accusing Demayo of harassment. He told those investigators he thought Demayo or someone on his campaign sent that e-mail.

But prosecutors said Bosnich wrote the e-mail and sent it to himself. On Friday Bosnich admitted he lied to the FBI about the e-mail. CNN did not report on the threatening e-mail in its original story focusing instead on Bosnich's charges of sexual harassment and Demayo's counter charges of burglary.

Prosecutors in this latest case did not determine whether the sexual harassment or burglary allegations were true, but in the e-mail to CNN this afternoon, Bosnich says he stands by his story that Demayo harassed him.

And the Demayo spokesman said in part, quote, "Mr. Bosnich can say whatever he wants, but in the end, he's a felon and an admitted liar." Now after CNN story aired last fall, another former male staffer publicly accused Demayo of sexual harassment, which the Demayo campaign called a lie -- Jake.

TAPPER: Chris Frates, thanks for the update on that story.

Our National Lead now, two teenagers are recovering after separate brutal shark attacks at the same North Carolina beach, both lost arms. Despite the two attacks getting bitten by a shark, of course, is not all that uncommon.

According to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of National History, there were only 72 attacks worldwide last year. Three people died. Tom Foreman is in Oak Island, North Carolina with the latest -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. People here are recovering as well. Plenty of people have been on the beach throughout the day, but I've seen nobody more than ankle deep in the water. In fact one of the families who saw this, a short while ago yesterday, they said they were standing right here when the attack occur.

They said as this girl came walking silently out of the water in the first attack clearly having undergone a tremendous trauma. She never made a sound. Everyone on the beach was creaming, but quickly calmed down and went to work.

And many of them believed that saved her life there, but nonetheless, many people here utterly stunned, and just getting through today and hoping there is no more word of sharks in these waters -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over right now to Brianna Keilar who is sitting in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.