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Police Hopeful Killer "Contained" in Perimeter; Tourists Flee Tunisia; David Sweat on the Run as Cops Kill Richard Matt; Report: Activist Takes Down Confederate Flag in South Carolina; Huge Turnout Expected at LGBT Pride Activities. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 27, 2015 - 07:00   ET



[07:01:02] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news this morning is coming in from Upstate New York. A tight perimeter for escaped convict David Sweat and teams are in hot pursuit as his partner in crime is killed by police.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Tourists in Tunisia now leaving a seaside resort this morning. ISIS says it's behind the deadly attack. The question is, are they really? We are learning new details about the gunman and his background.

BLACKWELL: And the White House, you see here, all the same colors, same-sex couples are taking vows. 2016 just got a big shake-up.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: We are always so grateful to have you company with us. Thank you for sharing your day with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

We're starting this morning with that breaking news on the desperate manhunt going on in Upstate New York for escaped killer David Sweat. Police are now from the air and the ground tracking Sweat with helicopters, ATVs and search dogs, at least they are trying to track him down.

PAUL: That's a good point. Law enforcement officials hopeful they have him contained, trapped inside a perimeter manned by more than a thousand officers. And this is near where Matt was killed.

Polo Sandoval is live in Malone, New York, tracking the search for us.

Polo, what are you seeing this morning, Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it has been just a tireless search the last three weeks. For the people really of these tiny towns and the ones who live in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains, they are at least partially relieved this morning, knowing that one of these very dangerous individuals is no longer a threat.

Now, the focus shifting to David Sweat and exactly where he could be. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)



SANDOVAL (voice-over): After three weeks on the run, escaped killer Richard Matt was shot and killed near Malone, New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: You never want to see anyone lose their life, but I would remind people that Mr. Matt was an escaped murderer from a state prison. Mr. Matt killed two people who we know about.

SANDOVAL: Police narrowed in on a cabin in the surrounding woods after receiving a tip from the driver of a recreational vehicle who reported hearing gunshots and later realized his camper was hit.

JOSEPH D'AMICO, NEW YORK STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: We discovered the smell of gun powder and realized a weapon had been fired. As we were doing the ground search in the area, there was movement detected by officers on the ground. What they believe to be coughs. A tactical team from Customs and Border Protection met up with Matt in the woods, challenged him, and he was shot dead by Border Patrol at that time. We recovered a 20-gauge shotgun.

SANDOVAL: Now, the focus of the manhunt is on David Sweat, who is set to be in the contained in the area, though there's been no actual sighting. Police is now using helicopters and vehicles with infrared spotting technology.

Residents remain on edge.

REPORTER: How have you been feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anxiety through the roof and I'm on medicine! It's been awful. I can't sleep. Then darkness hits. I'm wondering where they are, what they are doing, how they got out.


SANDOVAL: Just so many questions for the families who called this place home here. The ones who chose to stay behind last night locked their doors, kept their lights on, because the reality here, Christi and Victor, this individual is very dangerous. You recall, he was serving time for shooting a sheriff's deputy 22 times in 2002. So, officers working under the theory he is armed and possibly still in the area, David Sweat is.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Polo, stay with us, if you would, please, because we want to focus in on this hunt with Tom Fuentes who we're bringing back, CNN law enforcement and former director of the FBI. And Rick Schwein, he's a former FBI special agent, led the hunt for Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.

So, Rick, I want to start with you. As you hunted for Eric Rudolph who hid in the wood those five years, how does this alone change the search dynamic in this case, do you think?

[07:05:09] RICHARD SCHWEIN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I think it changes it literally. When you're alone, you're not relying, you're not pushed on by a coconspirator, you have a lot different perspective of how you're going to hide, how you're going to evade.

Of course, the Rudolph case and I was the last in a long line of front line supervisors. I just happened to be there when Jeff Bushnell caught him digging in a dumpster behind a Save A Lot in North Carolina.

And in that particular case, it went for a very, very long time. It went on for every five years. And it went through several different phases. You've got these long periods of relatively inactive punctuated by moments of chaos when you had either a credible or confirmed sighting. You're seeing a similar dynamic in this manhunt.

PAUL: OK. Tom, the thing that's changes from last night is the sun is up now. And overnight, we know d I think they had brought in special lighting to try to find him. How does that help them at this point, besides the obvious, the fact it's light and they have better vision?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Christi, normally, overnight you would stop and you don't want your officers ambushed by Sweat so they would have that perimeter and pretty much stay in place and freeze it and rely on the helicopters with infrared scanners to try to find movement in the woods, and not really try do door-to-door searches. It would be even more dangerous for the officers, than it already is in the woods and daylight.

The search lights that were brought in were not brought in to look for him. Those lights were available in case he ended up in a building as a barricaded subject or a subject with hostages. If they had him actually confined in a structure, then they would train the lights on that structure. They can't move those lights through the woods to do any kind of searching and it would affect the night vision capability of the officers in the woods. It would blind them.

So, those lights were not used for that purpose. But daylight changes everything. Now when it gets bright enough, then they can try to have that circle become ever increasingly smaller, the concentric circles they have for a perimeter to tighten the noose and resume door-to-door searches of every cabin, every shed, every house to see if he has found a shelter in a building.

PAUL: OK. Polo, I want to ask you a question. This is something I think might be a bit confusing at this point. So they found Richard Matt. He was armed. He was shot. Was there any point where they had a sighting of David Sweat?

SANDOVAL: You know, that's a very critical question here, Christi. Yesterday, we heard from investigators who confirmed that they don't have an actual sighting of him. So, as a result, they don't have any evidence that suggested he is here. There is also no evidence that suggested that he left here. So, being that they did find a separate set of tracks near or at least

in and around the shooting area yesterday where Richard Matt was shot and killed, police are working under that theory that they could belong to David Sweat, but, again, very important here is that there is nothing to confirm his exact location.

So, being that they don't have that evidence that is leading them elsewhere to Canada or across into Vermont, or potentially even southward of Mexico, they are going to be focusing their search efforts on this area here and this stretch of the Adirondacks that is the most promising lead that they have at this point.

PAUL: They so far. OK. Polo Sandoval, Tom Fuentes, Rick Schwein Jr., we appreciate all of you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Plus, another breaking story this morning we're following. Tourists now leaving by the busload from seaside resort just 24 hours after a deadly attack. And this morning, we are learning more about the man allegedly responsible.

Dangerous waters also. Two shark attacks off the coast of the Carolinas. Why is this happening? And is it safe to swim?


[07:12:21] BLACKWELL: All right. Just in to CNN. Take a look at this flag you see here, the Confederate flag at the capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. We talked about this, this morning.

Well, this morning, it has come down. It's been taken down. Not by the legislature, but an activist who calls herself "Bree" we are told climb the flag pole and removed the Confederate flag about 45 minutes ago, so that would be 6:30 or so Eastern Time.

Bree, again, as she is known was reportedly arrested. The flag was taken from her. However, it has not been hoisted atop that flag pole yet.

Now, Fitzgibbon Media is reporting this. Columbia police would not comment and this woman has not been processed yet, so that's why they are not commenting. But we should say that Fitzgibbon Media is a company reportedly doing work for the Black Lives Matter movement. So we are following this story and we will have more as it becomes available.

But again, the headline here again is the Confederate flag there on the statehouse grounds has been taken down in Columbia, South Carolina, by an activist.

We are following the three deadly terror attacks in Kuwait, France, Tunisia. Now, in Kuwait, security forces have tracked down the car used to drop off the suicide bomber who attacked the Shiite mosque. They are still looking for the driver. At least 27 people were killed in the blast, 227 others were wounded. ISIS is claiming responsibility for that attack. PAUL: And let's talk about Tunisia because we are getting some new

details about the gunman who attacked at that beach resort. The gunman was born, we understand, in 1992, had a masters degree in electronics and known -- on was not known I should say be affiliated with any terror group and his passport didn't have any sign of foreign travel.

Remember, ISIS is claiming responsibility for the attack and posted a photo of the alleged attacker but this is the thing, witnesses say they cannot be certain that is the gunman they saw at the shooting scene. The attacker killed 38 people and wounded 36 others.

CNN's Becky Anderson is there.

And, Becky, help clarify something. Do I understand that this suspect was also experienced in tourism in some capacity?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You're absolutely right, Christi. It's believed that if, indeed, the head shot we are talking about is this young man apparently born in 1992 was indeed the suspect shot dead here after killing 38 people, if it was him, then it appears that he worked for sometime in the entertainment industry here in this town which may be the reason that he seemed to know the way through and the choreography of this hotel behind me.

[07:15:13] And the four to six-minute shooting spree happened down through the lobby, as you see it here. Down on the beach, he then came back up through the lobby and out to this car park area. And this morning, Christi, they were still washing that tarmac down. I mean, absolutely horrendous. Horror visited this hotel yesterday.

And you also pointed out something which is incredibly important. If, indeed, this is the suspect and the passport that the authorities are now holding was his, it was issued in 2013 and it shows no sign of foreign travel which would suggest he hadn't been trained, for example, in Libya where, in the past, suspects who have been involved in terror here in Tunisia have been trained or, indeed, in Iraq on or in Syria.

You know, there are more than 3,000 youngsters who have left this country to fight for militant groups, including ISIS across this region, but they don't have to be trained in country, of course. Social media these days informing these kids. Very high unemployment in this country and the economy really in very bad shape.

The tourism industry makes up some 15 percent of this country's economy. This town alone has some 100 hotels one hopes this isn't the nail in the coffin for the Tunisian tourism industry. But quite frankly, when the sort of horror we have seen waged here happens, the Western tourists is a soft target for these groups and I was informed ideology are not going to want to come back, going forward -- Christi.

PAUL: Yes, Becky. You made a great point. I heard one analysts say, there's 40 percent unemployment in Tunisia, and that's why there are so many thousands of these young men who may be joining ISIS. Thank you so much, Becky, Anderson. We appreciate it. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring in CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Michael Weiss, CNN contributor and co-author of the book "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror."

Michael, first start with just the timing.

Is it just a coincidence that these three attacks happened on Friday, or is there some belief in the community that there is a connection here?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think a hell of a coincidence. You have three attacks in the space of a few hours on three continents. The Pentagon came out yesterday and said we have no evidence to suggest these attacks have been coordinated, but they do follow, as you reported before, a recent Ramadan sermon by Abu- Muhammad al-Adnani, who is the spokesman of ISIS who said that now is the time, the holy month to Ramadan, to rain fire down on the Kufar.

So, they do this every year, by the way. There is nothing extraordinary about this. There's another element, though, that I would stress. Recently in northern Syria, ISIS has been faring quite poorly. They lost the town of Tal Abyad, about 19 days ago or 15 days ago. They then lost a military base in their possession and they lost another town. This was to a combined Free Syrian Army Kurdish YPG militia forces.

Right after those losses, they waged the first terrorist attack in Kobani. Now, everyone remembers Kobani as the border down in northern Syria, the gateway to Turkey. There was an intense six-month siege there. They were driven out primarily because of U.S. air power.

The fact they could get back in Kobani and the way they did it, by the way, dressing as Kurdish militiamen and as Free Syrian Army officers, trying to drive a wedge between an already tenuous alliance between Arab and Kurds suggest, you know, a very high level of sophistication and cleverness.

ISIS pays close attention to the geopolitics involving the campaign against ISIS. They know that the American proxies on the ground from Syria to Iraq don't get along with each other. They know that it's very easy to try and sow paranoia and skepticism and mutual enmity between them.

So, I think, look, misdirection is one of the greatest assets ISIS has at its disposal.

Look over here, where we are winning but don't look over here where we are losing, and these attacks indicate that.

BLACKWELL: Let's take that to the Lieutenant General Hertling. There has been a lot of discussion of the ebb and flow of the territory in which ISIS purview in Syria and Iraq. But now, especially with this attack in Kuwait, how do this change the response from the U.S.? LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It doesn't just yet,

victor. And I agree with Michael, to a degree. I do think these three attacks were somewhat serendipitous and coincidental. They weren't planned altogether. Let's hit three different locations. I think the attack in Kuwait was certainly a planned attack.

[07:15:01] The other two were calls to jihad. And think what we're seeing is a combination of everything that happens in the terrorism world is now being attributed to ISIS. And that's -- they're very different styles of attacks, very different styles of approaches, but there are a lot of wannabe jihadists out there who will connect themselves to the ideology of ISIS, and I think that's what we're seeing across the board.

BLACKWELL: All right. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Michael Weiss, thank you so much.

We've got some breaking news coming in this morning. We'll get to in just a moment.

Actually, let's hand it to Christi now?

PAUL: Well, breaking news on the manhunt. Police hopeful that they have escaped killer David Sweat contained. We're going to go back live in the search perimeter in a moment.

Also, you know you have your Fourth of July plans. Well, one week, from that holiday, a new warning now about terrorism here in the U.S. What you need to be on the lookout for. We are back in a moment.


PAUL: We want to share some breaking news with you this morning, as we are getting some new information.

Hearing an activist has climbed the flag pole in Columbia, South Carolina, at the state capital and removed the Confederate flag of her own accord. Take a look at this picture we're getting in here. She calls herself Bree and it happened about -- just about an hour ago.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 6:30 local time, Eastern Time here. Bree, again, that is the name we have been given, was arrested. The flag has been taken from her but it's not replaced. This is coming from Fitzgibbon Media. They're reporting this.

Now, again, as you look at these photos that we have online courtesy of the Sparrow Project, they tweeted those out. You see video here now of this happening.

[07:25:03] This is happening as the funerals of the nine victims of that terror attack a week ago are happening. There are comments that are being posted online but we are still working to find out exactly the sourcing of some of this information about who this person is, who was there, how and why this was organized.

But there has been, as we know this ongoing conversation about the flag, the legislature voted to allow themselves to take up the issue of taking the flag down after the Fourth of July holiday, but we are hearing that's activists have said they cannot wait, especially as these funerals are happening across the state.

PAUL: Yes. So, we see, obviously, this is what was happening a short while ago, an hour ago, as the flag was taken down by an activist.

As we get more information, we will bring it to you, because we are also watching very closely what is happening with the manhunt in New York. Hundreds of searchers right now are searching for escaped convict David Sweat. Investigators say they are still on the right trail. We have a live report from inside the perimeter for you next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, what clues could help bring this search for a quick end? And what could be, you know, the next phase of life in prison for David Sweat? We will answer those questions ahead.


PAUL: Mortgage rates inched up this week. Here is your look.


[07:30:14] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one guy down.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A rush of resources right now. The breaking news this morning, in Upstate New York, a community there on high alert. The hunt for escaped killer David Sweat now focused on that area. Police are hopeful that they will be right on Sweat's heels, but they admit they have not been able to lay eyes on him yet.

Actually seeing David Sweat is part of the problem. The area where they are searching is incredibly dense with trees. You can see the vegetation there. At one point during the search, officers were following two set of footprints, although I'd still like to know how in this terrain you can discern a footprint.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We will ask that question to a law enforcement official.

But when Richard Matt was gunned down, there was no sign of Sweat.

Polo Sandoval is live in Malone.

Polo, I know you're checking around kind of seeing what is happening there. Is the daylight now helping in the search? We assume that it is. POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That certainly what law enforcement

officials help and as they intensify their presence. You look in the distance here at the base of the Adirondacks, you could actually see just several state vehicles and state police have been driving up and down the roads that seem to carve through this very rural landscape. There's a few cabins out here, a lot of places to hide.

So, as a result, while there is no physical evidence to confirm that David Sweat is still in this region, you are still seeing a major law enforcement presence here.

Now, for the people who live in these communities and the shadow of the Adirondacks, there seems to be at least partial relief knowing that one of these two very dangerous individuals is no longer a threat. But now, guys, the focus really does remain on David Sweat, where he could be. They are fairly confident that he is armed and extremely dangerous. Keep in mind, he was serving time for shooting and killing a sheriff's deputy in 2002. So, officials do expect him to put up a fight if they do encounter him.

BLACKWELL: Yes, armed and dangerous and important variable here -- desperate. We will talk about that, too.

Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

PAUL: All right. Let's talk to CNN law enforcement analyst and retired NYPD detective Harry Houck, as well retired sergeant who worked at Clinton correctional facility, Jeff Dumas.

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

Harry, I want to start with you.


PAUL: And let's talk about the two sets of footprints that they found. How on earth do you find these two sets, of course, one being where Richard Matt was in that vicinity, but how do you deduce that was, indeed, the footprint of David Sweat?

HOUCK: Well, I'll tell you, I'm not an expert tracker, but the fact that there is probably some areas there that are pretty muddy where they can track footprints. Now, maybe at one of the houses, there's a pair of shoes that are missing that may be Sweat had had you on and they already compared the shoes to Matt, so they know, they saw this other track from another shoe and they believe Sweat is wearing that shoe. And that is why they are tracking him through the mud in that area there.

But I think these guys might have split up because I'm astounded that Sweat has escaped capture as of last night. There is a possibility that I think that also they might have had a tip between both of them and decided -- listen, I've been with you for 21 days. We got nowhere. Let's split up and that might have happened also. PAUL: So, Jeff, since you had worked at Clinton correctional

facility, I heard Lyle Mitchell's attorney, he, of course, is the husband of Joyce Mitchell who is charged with aiding them in their escape. But Peter Dumas had said that Lyle believes they had more help in the prison to get out than the people that we have seen charged thus far.

Help us understand that prison, and do you believe the same thing, that there are still possibly some more eminent arrests here?

JEFF DUMAS, RETIRED SGT. CLINTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: I don't know if there is going to be more arrests. I can't say that for sure.

However, reading the statement that officer gene palmer gave to the state police, he said -- he admitted that he brought in paint brushes and paint. He admitted to bringing in the screwdriver and a small pair of pliers to work on the electrical boxes.

Those items did not help these inmates escape. Those items did not cut through the back of a cell. They did not cut into that big pipe that you saw with the little sticky note. So, there has to be more answers coming up as to how they did this.

[07:35:01] And hopefully, we can get Sweat alive so we can find out exactly what happened, if he'll ever tell.

PAUL: OK. So, Jeff, that is my question. Since you know these prisoners, this man, obviously, very dangerous, very malodorous, do you think we would get any answers from him even if he is captured?

DUMAS: I can't tell the future, but --

PAUL: Do they talk? Do they normally talk?

DUMAS: Yes. When we captured Morgan and Veil (ph) when they escaped in 2003 they were more than happy to gloat they escaped and this is how we did it and this is what we did. Each and every day, they went and told us exactly what happened after we captured them.

If he has -- if Sweat has the same type of ego, then he's going to want to, you know, hey, this is what I did and this is what I accomplished, and he is going to gloat about it. So that's what they are going to do.

PAUL: All right. Harry Houck, we appreciate you being with us. I know we're going to talk to you next hour.

Jeff Dumas, thank you so much for your insight as well.

DUMAS: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Sure.

BLACKWELL: The White House taking on a new look. A rainbow of colors here as a result of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Of course, a hot topic around the country, no more than the campaign trail as the highest judges may have just shaped the direction of the 2016 presidential race. Our political analysts weigh in coming up.


[07:40:25] PAUL: More now breaking news this morning out of South Carolina. Take a look at the latest pictures we are getting in. An activist you're seeing there climbing the flag pole in Columbia, the state capital, and removing the Confederate flag. All we know she calls herself Bree and this happened a little over an hour ago.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So, Bree was arrested. The flag was taken away from here but has not been replaced. Has not been put back up at the top of that flag pole.

This is come from Fitzgibbon Media, is reporting this, which is a group that we understand is doing some work for the Black Lives Matter movement.

We've got on the phone with us, State Senator Marlon Kimpson who is a member of the state legislature there in South Carolina.

Do you have me, Senator Kimpson?

STATE SENATOR MARLON KIMPSON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA (via telephone): I'm here. Yes, sir.

BLACKWELL: OK. First question here, your reaction to this activist going to the top of the flag pole and taking down the Confederate flag.

KIMPSON: Well, let me say this. We are a state of laws. We have to have laws so that we have order.

The only statutory authority, that's the power of the state legislature to remove the flag by two-thirds. In addition, there is a provision which allows the governor to remove the flag in the case of maintenance. Neither scenario has occurred today, so that it's important for all of our activists, all of our citizens to make sure we maintain order. I, as much as anybody else, would like to see the flag come down.

BLACKWELL: Well, then let me ask you --

KIMPSON: But there is a process.

BLACKWELL: The governor, Nikki Haley, there said through her spokesperson she does not have the legal authority to take down the flag, that it will have to go through the legislative process. Some believe that's not exactly the case, but we know the legislation will take that up after the Fourth of July holiday.

But now that the flag is down and not placed atop of that pole, do you believe it should be put back up until the legislature takes the vote?

KIMPSON: Yes. And here is why. We are a state of laws. I'm a lawyer. I have to respect the law. If the activists want to do something, let them legally do it. We are

all encouraging them to use their First Amendment rights, but we have to maintain order, and there is a process which allows us to legally take down the flag.

I would like to see the flag come down. I've been an advocate to take the flag down, but we must make sure we follow the law. This can set a dangerous precedent if we don't, and so we will be working undeterred and focused on removing the flag but we will do so legally.

Now, the governor does have the power -- there is a provision to do it, but the -- my understanding of what happened today, it was an activist, not the governor.

BLACKWELL: This was an activist who climbed to the top of that pole. As I'm reading the responses from people who are on Twitter and Facebook, they say that this was a law that was broken and they are calling this woman a criminal.

State Senator Marlon Kimpson, I thank you so much for joining us.

We will continue the conversation throughout the morning, including if there will likely be a vote by the legislature there to take down the Confederate flag. Now that this has happened, what will be the response of the police there in the capital? I mean, will we see a situation in which there will be a guard standing in front of the Confederate flag?

PAUL: Right, right.

BLACKWELL: To protect it.

We'll have that conversation as we move throughout the morning.

PAUL: Right. But thank you so much to the senator.


PAUL: Also, boy, we see the White House in a way we never have before.

BLACKWELL: Yes, a lot of colors there.

PAUL: Overnight, if you missed it, some changing colors and same-sex couples taking vows. 2016 just got a big shake-up. We're going to talk about it.


[07:48:40] PAUL: Forty-eight minutes past the hour.

And coast-to-coast, there are LGBT pride celebrations and parades in cities across the country this weekend. We could see record-setting turnouts in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, as well as other cities, following yesterday's landmark ruling by the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Now, the White House joined the celebration overnight. If you missed it, take a look. Lit up in rainbow colors there.

CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty has more for us.



SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Celebrations across the country continued into the evening. Hailing the nation's highest court making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts, when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.


SERFATY: But on the 2016 campaign trail, the issue is far from over.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land.


CLINTON: Equality triumphed. America triumphed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pronounce you wife and wife.

[07:50:01] SERFATY: Among the Republican presidential hopefuls, unity in their opposition to the ruling.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think this is something that should be decided by the people of each state and not imposed upon them by a group of lawyers sitting in black robes at the U.S. Supreme Court.

SERFATY: But division on how the Republican Party should move forward. The conservative firebrands among the pack indicating they'll use the ruling as a rallying cry, some promising to push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today's decision was a travesty. It was not constitutional. It was five unelected lawyers imposing their own radical views on this nation.

SERFATY: But others like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Lindsey Graham striking a conciliatory tone saying in essence, let's move on.

Jeb Bush saying, quote, "Good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial as a country, we protect religious freedom and the right of conscious and also not discriminate."

Expect many Republicans to emphasize the phrase "religious liberty", vowing to protect people's religious beliefs.


SERFATY: And this is a delicate dance that many of the Republican candidates find themselves in now. They want to appeal to their conservative base, which is very opposed to same sex marriage.

But they're also very mindful about the general election and needing to appeal to a broader group of voters, especially the younger Republican voters, the majority of whom want same-sex marriage to be legal -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring in CNN political commentator Maria Cardona. Also, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson.


BLACKWELL: Good to have both of you with us.


BLACKWELL: Does this really become as we talk about the decision from the Supreme Court, does this become one of the key points of the 2016 race or are people going to, as they often do, vote their pocket?

Let's start with you, Maria.

CARDONA: I think it will become one only because Republicans have chosen many of them have chosen for this to be a focal point for them. A rallying cry as we heard for them to gather the most extreme, the most conservative voters and to get them to come out to the polls for them during the Republican primary.

But I think what this also demonstrates is the problem that they're going to have going into the general election. I really believe the Republican Party and these candidates, specifically, are at a cross roads, Victor, whether to look to where this country is going.

The progress it has made on inclusion, on equality, to make sure there is no discrimination against the LGBT community because yesterday's decision wasn't the end. There's still a lot of laws out there that allow for discrimination against the LGBT community.

So, what voters are going to look at, especially in the general election are where are the parties going. Are they going forward or going to progress or bring us back to a place where there is discrimination and where people do not feel included?

BLACKWELL: Well, Ben, S.E. Cupp was on this network yesterday, making a pretty emotional appeal to Republicans to support the right to same- sex couples to marry or risk becoming relics. What's your view? I mean, is this going to - go ahead.

(CROSSTALK) FERGUSON: I think you've got to divide in the GOP.

Obviously, this is a generational issue. Many younger people who say they're conservative or GOP members. Republicans say they're in favor of same-sex marriage. There's a lot of people who are older who are saying absolutely not. A lot will depend on the individual candidate and also their perspective. A lot of the candidates that are governors, you're going to hear them talk about a state's rights issue.

This is going to become a political issue because of those states rights. Should states have the right to decide which law they want in their state? Or should the Supreme Court be able to coming in and trump them, even after the voters in those states have gone to the polls.

I think other candidates who will say, we've already seen them from Jeb Bush and Kasich and others. We could agree to disagree, let's kind of move on. Much bigger issues in this election coming up that we're going to deal with.

So, if you're Ted Cruz's campaign, this is going to be a prominent issue. A lot of it depends on where you are and your strategy moving forward.

BLACKWELL: Ben, speaking of moving on. That's the call from the White House after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare for the second time. But we're hearing from house speaker John Boehner and other Republicans that they are not done with their challenges of Obamacare.

Is this going to be after so many votes to repeal to rephrase to be fruitful?

FERGUSON: I think for many of the candidates, yes. I think this is going to be one of the top three issues of this presidential election, especially on the GOP side. There are quite a few Americans that are still not happy with Obamacare as it continues to roll out. When you see these penalties, which is a tax, get higher each year.

[07:55:02] You're going to see more people that are not going to like Obamacare and going to want it to be reformed and/or repealed. So, I think, yes, this is going to be a major campaign issue for all the GOP candidates. It's going to be a rallying cry because a lot of people say this is not what I signed up for and there needs to be reform.


CARDONA: I disagree. I think it will be a campaign issue for Republicans and they will try to continue to make it one, but I think it's a losing one, because when you have millions and millions of people who have been able to get health care coverage through Obamacare and then you have a party that wants to take that coverage away -- because let's remember, Republicans have not offered anything that would replace Obamacare.

FERGUSON: Some have. CARDONA: I think the American people -- the American people are at a place where the majority of them want to keep Obama care. They don't want to repeal Obamacare. You have a Republican Party who has now voted, what, 66 times to repeal it, I think the American people again are going to look at the contrast of a party who wants to move forward, who wants to progress and give the American people health care coverage where they haven't before, versus a Republican party who wants to take them back in time to a time where people didn't have health care and they offer no, nothing in return. So, I think that's a contest that frankly Democrats will win.

BLACKWELL: Thirty seconds, Ben.

FERGUSON: But, Maria, one key thing here. You're going to see any of the presidential candidates on the GOP side. They know they're going to have to offer up something to not have to worry about exactly what you just heard. You guys have no ideas. You are going to see many of these candidates, especially come the general election give a very clear plan of what they would replace Obamacare with. There has some things that Republicans --

BLACKWELL: Where has that plan been? There has been repeal and recall plans for years. Where has that plan been?

CARDONA: Exactly.

FERGUSON: Well, there's several different plans. I mean, you have certain group in the Tea Party movement that say they have a certain way to want to do it. You have others who have been around Boehner who say they want to repeal certain aspects of it. You have the medical tax, for example, on medical devises has been a mass massive debate in conversations.

So, there's a lot of people that try to go in and say, these are the things we want to take out immediately and there have been no compromise from the Democratic Party or this White House even when they admit themselves, yes, there are some flaws. But they haven't fixed their own flaws yet either.


BLACKWELL: We have a call up there.

CARDONA: No consensus on the Republican side.

BLACKWELL: Maria, Ben, thank you so much. It definitely has been a landmark week for the president.

CARDONA: For the American people, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Maria Cardona and Ben Ferguson, thank you both.

CARDONA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Next of your NEW DAY after a break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)