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Obama Presses Kenya on Critical Issues; GOP Lawmakers Fight to Repeal Obamacare; Turkey Bombs ISIS, Arrests Terror Targets. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 26, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Alex Rodriguez just hit three home runs last night. The crowd's going crazy, right?

We know he was using substances of -- to enhance his game, right? Performance-enhancers. And Kobe Bryant had some issues in the past. People have forgiven him.

So, that's our question: should fans forgive and forget the bad decisions made by stars. Use #NewDayCNN, or leave us a comment on Facebook. We're going to use your comments in the next hour.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Coy, thank you.


WIRE: All right.


PAUL: President Barack Obama, continuing his tour of Kenya, pushing its leader to tighten counterterrorism practices, fight corruption, and expand gay rights.

BLACKWELL: Plus, a rare Sunday session for the Senate. And there is some controversy. GOP lawmakers trying to use a must-pass highway bill to repeal Obamacare, again.

PAUL: And Turkey continuing its assault on terror, bombarding ISIS positions in northern Iraq, rounding more than 600 suspected militants. We're taking you there live for the latest on the anti- terrorism operation.

So glad to have you with us this morning, as always. Good morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to start a Sunday with you.

And we're beginning with the president's visit to Kenya. Just moments ago, he was at a civil society event, before he's heading off to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. That happens next hour.

Earlier this morning, hundreds gathered to hear him speak at a Nairobi Arena. He talked about U.S./Kenya ties, terrorism, corruption. He covered a lot in about 45 minutes.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here in Kenya, it's time to change habits and decisively break that cycle, because corruption holds back every aspect of economic and civil life. It's an anchor that weighs you down and prevents you from achieving what you could. If you need to pay a bribe and hire somebody's brother, who is not very good and doesn't come to work, in order to start a business -- well, that's going to create less jobs for everybody.


BLACKWELL: CNN's White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is traveling with the president. She is in Nairobi.

Michelle, the president covered so much in 45 minutes.


BLACKWELL: He didn't mince words. I mean, he really went to the issues there with the Kenya people.

KOSINSKI: Right. What he wanted to do is highlight and applaud all of the progress that Kenya has showed. But he also wanted to highlight these problems.

And he went into great detail. I mean, on the subject of corruption, you mentioned there, he said that it cost Kenya 250,000 jobs a year. He really hammered that point home. But also on inclusiveness, and democracy that represents everybody, really getting fired up when he talked about oppression of women.



OBAMA: Around the world, there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions treating women and girls as second-class citizens, those are bad traditions. They need to change.


KOSINSKI: He said things like forcing children into marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, sexual assault. He said these things have no place in civilized society. No place in the 21st century. And he used a lot of analogies, too.

First, sports analogies, saying, well, you know, here we are in a sports arena. If you had a team but only half of that team was allowed to play, referring to women being half of society, not allowed to participate. He said that's stupid. And it makes no sense. He also compared traditions having to change, to the way the U.S. is

changing its use of the Confederate flag.

So, definitely getting a lot in there, and terrorism was a big point he wanted to hit on. That's one of the major themes of this trip, not just to Kenya but also following on to Ethiopia. Saying the U.S. stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Kenya in fighting terror, as long as it takes -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Michelle Kosinski for us in Nairobi -- thank you.

PAUL: Back in the U.S., on Capitol Hill, a rare Sunday vote is expected in the Senate. Lawmakers have a week to extend funding to repair crumbling roads and bridges, and because it's seen as must-pass legislation, it is viewed by many, as a way to carry unrelated amendments forward.

[07:05:00] National correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joins us live from Washington.

Good morning, Sunlen.


It's a tangle over those unrelated amendments that has really created a very abnormal dynamic in the Senate, which really sets the stage potentially for some fireworks this afternoon.

This all started on Friday when Republican Senator Ted Cruz, he lashed out at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, a member of his own party, accusing him of lying. Now, Cruz says McConnell that he would not cut a deal which would allow a vote to reauthorize the Export- Import Bank, which is wrapped up in this highway bill. That's not something that conservatives like Cruz are against, and McConnell appears to have cleared the path for it.

Here's a moment of anger that Cruz had directed at Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a direct question. I asked the majority leader in front of all of the Republican senators, the majority leader was visibly angry with me, that I would ask such a question. And the majority leader looked at me and said there is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal. Like St. Peter, he repeated it three times. I cannot believe he would tell a flat out lie.


SERFATY: It's very rare to see this sort of personal attack in the Senate, and may have violated some Senate decorum rules. Now, McConnell, we have not hear from him yet. He's been silent on

this issue. So, potentially, we could hear from him today for the first time.

Now, Ted Cruz, of course, is running for president. And he's already raising money off of this spat, saying in a fund-raising e-mail, quote, "We've been betrayed by the Senate majority leader", and asking, Christi, for campaign donation.

PAUL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: He's got a pretty big donation to the PAC, about, what, $15 million. We'll talk about that later.

But like pretty much all of the Republican candidates, Ted Cruz has languished in the shadow of Donald Trump. But Cruz's fiery attack now puts him back into the spotlight.

Here's the question: is Cruz the candidate now trying to play a Trump card in a way, out-Trump Trump?

Let's talk to our guest about this, Lisa Boothe, a Republican strategist, and senior director of the Black Rock Group. Marc Lamont Hill is host of "Huff Post Live" and CNN political commentator. Also, a professor at Morehouse College.

Good to have both of you with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: So, Lisa, let's go to Cruz. Then, we'll get to Chris Christie. Cruz, this goes farther than he's gone before in opposing his party there in the chamber. Does this work for him in 2016 politics?

BOOTHE: Well, look, I think there's some genuine frustration there. And here, look, I think this speaks to the dysfunction in Congress and what Americans find so frustrating about Congress, is the fact that something so unrelated, such as the Export-Import Bank, could make it into this legislation about the highway trust fund.

And I think from conservatives, first and foremost, there's two sources of frustration here. One is over the Export-Import Bank, which conservatives see as a corporate giveaway. And the second is over the highway trust fund, because a highway trust fund, spending continues to outpace --

BLACKWELL: But, Lisa --

BOOTHE: -- the income money, and the revenue. So, I think there's a source of frustration with both of those aspects.

BLACKWELL: This comes, though, from Ted Cruz, who has tried to shove Obamacare into many, many things. So, to talk about what's germane to the topic or germane to the bill, he seems like the wrong spokesperson. BOOTHE: Well, Victor, I think his frustration is over the Export-

Import Bank, and the same frustrations that many conservatives across the country share, also with the highway trust fund bill, because what we've seen with the highway trust fund bill, is spending continues to outpace revenue, and there's no structural changes in this bail bill. Once again, Congress is asking for a bailout with the highway structural bill.

Until you address those structural changes, until you address we're going to continue to see this problem. And I think there's a larger source of frustration with both the Export-Import Bank and the highway trust fund as a hole.

BLACKWELL: Marc, let's talk about 2016. I mean, it appears that even for Ted Cruz, who has opposed his party there in the chamber many times, aggressively, that this is the effect of Trump on the rest of the race and coming down to the wire on trying to make that first debate.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's absolutely true. I mean, one thing Ted Cruz has masterfully done, even if it's not the most ethical thing, is kind of hanging in the bushes while Donald Trump goes on a tour of absurd statements.

He hasn't come out and censored Trump, many of the Republicans had, because he assumes that Trump is going to wing out, and the activist wing of the Republican Party, that voting base will be his if Trump isn't there. That's his natural base and his natural connection. So, he's sort of tried to stay out of the way.

But what he has seen is Trump is lasting longer than many people expected. Christie is going to have the same challenge for a different reason.

[07:10:00] And as result, he has to say something or do something to make the top ten. So, now, he's going after folks. But he's not doing it Trump style, per se, because Trump doesn't just throw flames at the Republican Party, he also goes after particular specters of American people, a voting base, he's much more ad hominem.

While saying Mitch McConnell didn't tell the truth is somewhat of ad hominem, he's still getting, as Lisa said, a bigger frustration of the party. And so, he's trying to be the conscience of the GOP, he's trying to be the conscience of the Senate.

And even though he probably violated Rule 19 of decorum, he's trying to get into this base. I think it can work for him. It may get him into the top 10, but still in the third tier of candidates, for sure.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about another candidate trying to get into that top 10, Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, showing some fire on the campaign trail, as he has this exchange with a voter over his gun rights record. Let's listen to a bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State gun right groups from here in Iowa to Minnesota, even to Georgia, have sent out some e-mails recently saying that you're very anti-gun, when it comes to second amendment. So, my question is, how are you going to -- New Jersey gun owners into thinking that you'll be anything other than a President Michael Bloomberg if you become successful?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because it's not true. So, let's start with that. The answer is New Jersey have a lot of really difficult gun laws? Yes. They were all signed before I became governor.

And I'm still waiting for one fact, one fact from you about me being anti-gun. Give me one. One fact.

Got one?

By the way, I vetoed the state ID system. You're wrong about that, too.


BLACKWELL: Lisa, this is the "tell it like it is" candidate, right? That's his slogan. Is this the right tone in the wake of Charleston? In the wake of Chattanooga? In the wake of Lafayette? Is this the right tone for this topic?

BOOTHE: Well, I think there's frustration there and there should be. Look, as someone who's worked on campaigns for over seven years, now, there's a lot of misinformation out there about your candidate. So, I think this is the job of the candidate. This is the job of someone like Chris Christie, who is making a presidential run, is to set the record straight. That's what he is doing.

HILL: I disagree.

BOOTHE: The individuals in the audience who brought up the questions, questioned governor Christie's record, seemed to not have the facts straight. So, it's Governor Chris Christie's job, as he did, to set the record straight and say, hey, these laws that you're talking about were signed into law, prior to me even being governor. So, that's his job, is to set the record straight.

BLACKWELL: Of course, tone matters here. Mark, finish it up.

HILL: Yes. I was going to say, every candidate has inaccurate claims made about their record and they correct them. Chris Christie somehow manages to look like a bully when he does it.

He had every right to correct people on his gun record. I don't think he's being completely honest about his stance on guns. But he has done it in a way that doesn't reinforce the narrative about him, which is that he's a bully, that he's vindictive, that he's mean-spirited. Post bridge-gate, we need a warmer and fuzzier Chris Christie, if he wants to just make it into the top ten but ultimately make into a competitive race here. BLACKWELL: Well, Chris Christie said he will say things that will

make his supporters cringe. And again, he's a tell-it-like-it-is candidate. And I guess that's what he did in Iowa.

Marc Lamont Hill and Lisa Boothe, thank you both.

HILL: Pleasure.

BOOTHE: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Also, coming up later this morning on CNN, we'll have new insight into the race for 2016. New CNN polling out from both the Republican and Democratic presidential races. It starts with "INSIDE POLITICS" at 8:30, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Meanwhile, candlelight vigils are scheduled for tonight, for the victims of the Louisiana theater shooting. Remembrances coming, of course, as some of those shot are still in the hospital. We have the latest and a live report for you.

Plus, look at the plumes of black smoke here. Yep. That the looming over Las Vegas. We'll tell you what happened.


[07:17:27] PAUL: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

As of this morning, three victims of the Lafayette theater shooting are still in the hospital. And we know that one is in serious condition.

This comes, of course, as Mayci Breaux's family is preparing to lay the 21-year-old to rest. She was one of the two victims killed in that attack. She was at the theater with a boyfriend, in fact, and planned on beginning radiology school in just a few days. So, a very tough day for her family.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is live in Lafayette with the very latest.

Ryan, good morning to you. And what have you learned this morning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, good morning to you. Yes, the focus here today in Lafayette is on the recovery. They've had a couple of days to absorb the awful tragedy that happened here at the theater behind me. And the focus now is on the victims and mourning the lives lost.

As you mentioned, three people still in the hospital. One of those victims still in serious condition. There are two other victims in good condition, and the feeling is that all three of these patients are improving, which is bringing some relief to the folks here in Lafayette.

And as I mentioned, that recovery process is under way. When you drive around town, now, you see the #lafayettestrong, outside many of the businesses in this community, as they come together to remember the lives lost.

Downtown, Jillian Johnson, who ran a boutique called Red Arrow, that's become a memorial. People living flowers and notes in her memory.

You mentioned, Mayci Breaux's funeral, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, that's in Franklin, which is north -- east of her, near the Mississippi border. Her visitation will actually take place today.

Jillian Johnson will also be laid to rest on Monday. That will happen here in Lafayette.

But already, there have been many candlelight vigils and prayer services throughout this community. In fact, many of the churches in this town, staying open around the clock for people that want to come and pray and mourn the victims lost. There's also a local art center that is organizing an interactive art display in honor of the victims.

So, many different ways that the people in this community are coming together. And there's a hope that they can get back to some sort of normalcy. A corporal with the Lafayette Police Department told me the goal is to wrap up the investigation here at the grand theater by sometime tomorrow.

They want people to head back to the movies, to get back to their normal lives. So, this community can come back together and get back on track as soon as possible. The tentative date is Monday. But that depends on the progress of the investigation Christi.

PAUL: Today, sure.

[07:20:00]OK. Ryan nobles, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Another shark attack. But this one, not off the Carolina coast. The a diver Down Under's deadline encounter with the shark that happened right in front of his daughter.

Plus, fans of the worst team in baseball, well, they have a reason to cheer now. A pitcher throws his way into the history books. That's next.


BLACKWELL: Time, now, 23 minutes after the hour.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a raging fire that broke out at the five-star Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.

PAUL: Here's what we know. It engulfed the 14th floor pool deck. Look at this. Thick smoke billowing out into the Vegas strip there. Two people did suffer smoke inhalation. The hotel was evacuated. The firefighters put the flames out.

BLACKWELL: Next door to California, northern California to be specific, a wildfire threatening hundreds of homes there. This is Nevada county. About 45 minutes northeast of Sacramento. Officials say the fire is moving very quickly, 4,000 acres have now gone up in smoke.

The blaze is in a rugged area. Fire engines can't really reach them. So, crews are being airlifted over that area to drop off water and retardant. Some have to walk to the fire.

PAUL: Listen to this -- a diver has died after being attacked by a shark in front of his daughter off the coast of Australia. The pair apparently collecting scallops when the attack happened. It's not known what type of shark is responsible for this, but police are setting up patrol boats through that area and then warning people to stay out of the water.

[07:25:01] BLACKWELL: Even teams having a tough time have a good day every once in a while, and this was a day for the Philadelphia Phillies. Pitcher Cole Hamels pitched a no-hitter yesterday against the Chicago Cubs, struck out 13, leading the Phillies to a 5-0 victory, also the first time a no-hitter against the Cubs pitched by a Phillies pitcher, in 50 years.

PAUL: Nice to have something -- find that little glimmer, that little good news there. It's all we need.

Turkey is taking major strides in the war on ISIS. New terrorists, new air strikes. Is their renewed action against the militants working? We have a live report for you coming up.



OBAMA: That goes without saying. I love you back. I do.


BLACKWELL: The president getting and giving back some love in Kenya this morning. He spoke to hundreds there at a Nairobi sports arena. He addressed corruption. Later this morning, he will leave Kenya and head to Ethiopia before returning home to the U.S. on Tuesday.

The Senate is planning a rare Sunday session. Lawmakers are set to debate a highway funding bill with the weak to go until the program expires. Now, this session comes after Senator Ted Cruz accused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of, in his words, flat out lying.

Cruz's tirade on the floor there was triggered when he believed that McDonnell had blocked several amendments that Cruz and other Republicans wanted attached to a highway funding bill.

PAUL: Now, there's violence in southern Turkey. This morning, a car bomb exploded.