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The Lead with Jake Tapper

New Healthy Heart Guidelines; Interview With Sarah Palin

Aired November 12, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Bill Clinton's right about Barack Obama, says our guest, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. He was right back in 2008, she says.

Meanwhile, the former president is giving the current president another headache about Obamacare.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The national lead, some breaking news. Are you taking statins to lower your cholesterol? Maybe you should. The American Heart Association just released new advice that could change everything you think you know about fighting the artery clogger.

The world lead. The effort is massive. Relief is there on the ground, but the wreckage from the super typhoon in the Philippines is so widespread, relief may not get there in time for those who need it most.

And our politics lead, Bill Clinton calling out President Obama for telling people if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. And could it be Sarah Palin siding with Bill Clinton on something? The former vice presidential nominee goes full on mama grizzly on everything from what she describes as the war on Christmas to Governor Chris Christie's weight to the moment she became born -again and what she said God helped her survive -- some surprising moments from our sit-down.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin with breaking news in our national lead. It's being called a tectonic shift in the way cholesterol is treated in this country, a country which, as you know, never met a food that it couldn't improve by wrapping bacon around it.

Right now, this hour, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists are releasing new guidelines that could mean a new prescription in your very near future. The report advises that more Americans, we're talking tens of millions, should be taking statins to reduce their cholesterol levels.

Are you confused about good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol? You know what the difference is? Well, apparently, that doesn't matter much anymore.

I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, what makes these new guidelines so monumental? Sanjay Gupta, can you hear me? All right. We're obviously having some problems with Sanjay. We will come back to him in a second.

Now we will turn to the world lead.

If you approach Saint Paul's Hospital in the typhoon-devastated city of Tacloban in the Philippines, you will see a hand-drawn sign that reads, no admissions, no supplies, a blunt on-target summation of the desperate situation throughout the country. Cargo flights are arriving. Hundreds of tons of supplies are waiting.

But conditions on the ground are keeping help out of some of the most affected areas. Debris is blocking many roads and there is no power, no communication and no clean drinking water sources in wide swathes of the country. Another storm swept through exponentially less severe, but certainly not helping matters.

Currently, there are 250 U.S. service members on the ground in the Philippines and more help is coming from America. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier and several other Navy ships are on their way. Meanwhile, the State Department now confirms that two American citizens are among the dead, though the State Department has not released their names.

However, in what counts as good news, relatively speaking, the president of the Philippines says the death toll is likely lower than initial estimates, probably closer to 2,500.

Our own Anderson Cooper, host of "A.C. 360," is on the ground in Tacloban and he joins us now.

Anderson, you have seen first-hand the difficulties in getting this relief out. Tell us what you're seeing.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is a miserable, miserable situation here, and it does not seem to be getting better day by day.

We are now entering the fifth day since this storm hit here in Tacloban, and I can tell you, just -- we're at the airport now or what's left of the airport. There are hundreds of people here who have been sitting all night, just -- they have nowhere else to go. If you walk three blocks in that direction, you will find people sleeping in makeshift huts, basically, or sleeping out in the exposed rain close to the bodies of their loved ones which nobody has picked up because there is nobody here to pick them up.

You would expect perhaps to see maybe a feeding center that had been set up five days after the storm. We haven't seen that, certainly not in this area. Some food is being brought to people here at the airport, some water being distributed, but it is very, very difficult conditions for the people here on the ground, and it's not clear how much longer it can continue like this.

Something has got to give. There is hope that the airport will at some point be opened by the U.S. Marines to operate on 24-hour basis. That has not yet happened yet. There was a lot of talk about that yesterday. That has not occurred. We have been here all night. No flights were coming in once night came.

It is a very desperate situation, among the most -- among the most desperate I have seen in covering disasters over the last couple years, Jake.

TAPPER: Anderson, where are the relief workers and where are the people looking for help? And how can they not be brought together?

COOPER: Well, there are certainly a lot of people who would like help. I was out yesterday just walking neighborhoods nearby here.

It's very hard to get a vehicle, so you just walk around -- and found a handful of people right away. Everybody we talked to has lost somebody and is literally searching for somebody, one woman searching for three of her children. Another woman has already found three of her children dead. She's looking for the other three. Her husband is dead. She pointed me to their bodies.

But there's nobody helping. We did see a volunteer group of firemen who were out collecting bodies. They had body bags they were putting people into them and taking them off in an ambulance. But that's a drop in the bucket. And as to the question of where is the bigger relief effort, I'm not exactly clear.

It could be happening in some other place, but this is the airport in Tacloban and you would think, if you would see it anywhere, this would be the main staging ground. There -- certainly, Philippine military are on the ground here, some trucks have gone out.

But I was in Japan right after the tsunami there two years ago, and you know, within a day or two, you had Japanese defense forces going out, carving up cities into grids and going out on foot, looking for people, looking through, walking through the wreckage. We have not seen that here in any kind of large-scale operation.

TAPPER: Anderson, with your vast expertise covering these types of disasters, what's your message for U.S. or international policy-makers whose job it is to bring supplies and relief to the suffering people of the Philippines, from your vantage point? What do they need to know and what do they need do?

COOPER: Well, certainly, U.S. military personnel are here on the ground. There's a group of Marines. They have set up operation. The Marines have checked out the airport. I know that that is under way and that cannot come soon enough.

But, you know, as for who exactly is in charge of the Philippines side of this operation, that is not really clear. I'm just surprised that I haven't -- I expected -- on this day five, I thought I had maybe gotten here very late, that things would be well in hand. It does not seem like that. People are desperate. People do not have anyplace for shelter.

It is very difficult for people to get food. Neighbors are helping out neighbors. Water is in short supply. It is a very, very bad situation here.

TAPPER: All right, Anderson Cooper, thank you so much. Stay safe. We know everybody will be watching "A.C. 360" later tonight.

Now back to the breaking national lead. The new reports that recommend statins for millions more Americans to cut their cholesterol are coming out this hour, these reports.

I want to bring back our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, sorry about the technical difficulties before.


TAPPER: What makes these new guidelines so monumental?

GUPTA: Well, as you mentioned, Jake, this is a huge shift, sort of in the way we think about cholesterol and probably heart disease overall.

Obviously, a continued focus on trying to prevent these problems in the first place, but also this idea that, look, we have a better idea of what -- how heart disease develops and should more people be on statin medications. It's interesting, a lot of people know their numbers, so to speak. They know what constitutes bad cholesterol. You want your total cholesterol below 200, your HDL, which is your good cholesterol, above 60, LDL below 100.

Now, I throw those numbers at you because a lot of people know these numbers, but as you pointed out, they're not that relevant anymore in this new sort of paradigm. Instead, they're looking at just some specific risk factors and saying you take a statin if you have diabetes, period. That's it. If you have evidence of heart disease, doesn't matter what your cholesterol is, you take a statin.

If you have a bad cholesterol over 190, that's usually in people who have congenitally high cholesterol, they take a statin and also this final thing, this 10-year risk. If your chance of developing heart disease over 10 years is over 7.5 percent, you take a statin.

So this is a big difference not only in how many people will take statins, but in the way the medical establishment sort of approaches this whole thing as well.

TAPPER: Sanjay, explain this 10-year heart disease risk score. What is that and how is it factored, how is it figured out?

GUPTA: This is a -- this sort of a little bit more of a potpourri. This involves a few different types of risk factors, including things like blood pressure and family history.

There was a study known as the Framingham Heart Study. You may have heard of this. It was one of the largest heart studies that made some links between cholesterol and heart disease. This takes in several different factors and then calculates a risk. Your doctor can do it for you. Eventually, the American Heart Association will have a calculator on their Web site as part of this whole thing so you can just put in your own numbers and your own history and blood pressure and figure out what your risk actually is.

TAPPER: Sanjay, some experts have said that these new recommendations from -- that are out just this hour, just in the last nine minutes, could double the number of Americans taking statins. Is that safe? What are the side effects?

GUPTA: I think, first of all, it's accurate, that if you looked at this and looked at how many people would now qualify, it could be double. It go from around 35 million closer to 70 million. Is it safe? It's a good question.

Even as a doc, I'm very -- I ask a lot of questions before prescribing medications. There are side effects from these medications. You can have muscle aches, which may sound like a small thing, but they may be profound. People may not exercise or be as active anymore. They can cause liver problems and people have to have their liver evaluated from time to time if they're on these medications.

But there's almost a larger question here, Jake, and it's about the role of interventions overall. If I went to the doctor and said, look, am I going to live longer as a result of taking a statin under these new guidelines, that's a harder question to answer. While it may decrease the amount of heart disease, decrease the number of heart attacks and strokes, all very important, the outcome of longevity of life is a little less proven. So that's something that the debate goes back and forth on.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with big health news, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD, we will go back to the Philippines, where worried families are still searching for loved ones. I will talk to one rescue worker about the struggle to get food and water to those who need it most.

But, first, she will never vote for her, but Sarah Palin is happy to commiserate with Hillary Clinton about sexist media coverage of her.

Plus, the moment Sarah Palin became born-again. My sit-down interview with the former governor of Alaska is next.


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

Now it's time for the politics lead.

She has a new book out about the meaning of Christmas, or at least what it means to her. And I could say something here, like, Sarah Palin is back, but the truth is, as you and I know, the former Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate never really left. I sat down with Governor Palin just a short time ago, earlier today. And with all the talk about elephants in the room, to steal a phrase from "TIME" magazine, I had to ask for her unvarnished take on 2016.


TAPPER: So I know you're not -- you wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran for president. But I remember in '08, after you got the nod, you talked about the unfair media treatment, that Hillary Clinton got when she was running for president. SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Yes.

TAPPER: And you probably feel like you got some of that unfair media treatment, as well. Sexism -- what -- if there's any woman out there thinking of running for president, what can she expect?

PALIN: She can expect that sexism, but you overcome it, you know? You ignore it. You do thicken your skin and you march forth with your message, your priorities, your agenda that you believe is right for America.

Yes, Hillary Clinton was mistreated when I came to appearances, when it came to wardrobe, you know, petty, superficial things that the men don't ever seem to hear much about, but a woman candidate will.

TAPPER: Governor Christie hears about his appearance.

PALIN: Oh, that's because it's been extreme, OK? So it's hard to -- it's hard for some people not to comment on it.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, I'll never forget Bill Clinton saying, about Barack Obama and his story, his agenda, you know, that it was the biggest fairy tale he'd ever seen. And he was right, because Barack Obama was not qualified. He was not prepared.

And that -- the manifestation of that today, the problems that we see left and right in our economy.

TAPPER: You obviously feel very passionate about these issues. Why are you not in office anymore? Why don't you run for Senate?

There's a Senate seat coming up.

PALIN: Oh, my goodness, because there are millions and millions of good Americans who have the ability and -- and desire to serve and, you know, I want to help find those people and help propel them into positions of leadership.

But I --

TAPPER: Don't you think you could have more of an influence?

PALIN: I don't -- I am one to know that you don't need a title and you don't need a position to make a difference.

TAPPER: Obviously, the Republican Party is going through a -- a debate right now about where its soul is.


TAPPER: I saw an article over the weekend, Senator John McCain, your friend and former running mate, talking about how some people were urging him to run for president again in 2016. It doesn't sound like he's necessarily interested in it, but -- but, he is talking about how the government shutdown, in his view, was a mistake and how there are some people who think he could help right the ship.

If it weren't for your relationship with him, I can't help but think that you would -- that he -- he personifies things that you don't like.

PALIN: Well, Senator McCain and I have never been shy about expressing the fact that we agree to disagree on some issues. You know, I have respect for his service, not only to our country in the military, but, in the Senate. And, will never bad-mouth Senator McCain. I have no desire to. I have no -- there's no need for me to do so.

TAPPER: I don't want you to and I admire your loyalty to him. I guess I'm just saying the divide right now between the establishment Republicans, who want to compromise, who want to do deals, whether it's immigration reform, whether it's the budget, John McCain is hated by a lot of the people who love you.

PALIN: Well, I want the Republican Party, kind of that leadership of the machine of the party, to really stiffen its spine and not be squishy on some of these issues, because it's a time in America when we're on a path towards bankruptcy, we can't afford to be squishy on issues.

Unless common sense conservatives get together and vote in leaders who understand how important it is to defend our republic and, protect the Constitution.

TAPPER: Leaders like -- like Ted Cruz. You -- you've spoken very --

PALIN: I absolutely am on team Ted Cruz and Senator Mike Lee, Rand Paul, these guys who they're -- the -- they're merely fulfilling their campaign promises.

People had to focus on what Obamacare really entailed, because Ted Cruz had the guts to stand up on the Senate floor and say, look, this is bad for our country. This will bankrupt our country. It's taking over one sixth of our economy and it's stripping our freedoms.

And I'm thankful that he did what he did and I disagree with those who say that it was a mistake for our senators to stand up and fight for America -- again, just fulfilling their campaign promises.

TAPPER: Mitch McConnell has said no more government shutdowns. He didn't think it was a smart idea.

If you were advising Senate Republicans, would you encourage them to do a --

PALIN: What shutdown? What shutdown?

It was a --

TAPPER: Partial shutdown.

PALIN: -- 17-day slim down -- no, a 16-day slim down of about 17 percent of the government. We need to rein in government.

And when is the time, finally, for people to open their eyes and for the media to -- to open its eyes?

What is the time and the magic number, when it comes to debt, when it comes to this trajectory of government growth, for people to say, we do need to start slimming this thing down?

TAPPER: So, you obviously feel very passionate about the national debt. The other day, you gave a speech in which you compared it to slavery.

PALIN: To slavery. Yes.

And that's not a racist thing to do, by the way, which I know somebody is going to claim it is.

TAPPER: Don't you ever fear that by using hyperbole like that -- obviously, you don't literally mean it's like slavery, which cost millions of people their lives and there was rape and torture. You're using it as a metaphor.

But don't you ever worry that by using that kind of language, you -- you risk obscuring the point you're trying to make?

PALIN: There is another definition of slavery and that is being beholden to some kind of master that is not of your choosing. And, yes, the national debt will be like slavery when the note comes due.

TAPPER: So you're not -- you're not work -- I mean I'm -- I'm taking it as a no, but you're not -- you're not concerned about the language --

PALIN: I'm not one to be politically correct, evidently.


PALIN: And, no, I don't -- I don't worry about things like that, because no matter what I say, no matter what a lot of conservatives say, they're, you know, they'll be targeted and distractions will be attempted to be made to take the listener and the viewers' mind off what the point is, by pointing out, oh, she said the word slavery in a speech, and, I did say the word slavery, because I want to make a point.

TAPPER: You can understand why African-Americans or others might be offended by it, though? PALIN: I -- I can if they choose to misinterpret what it is that I'm saying. And, again, you know, I'm sure if we open up the dictionary, we could prove that with semantics that are various, we can prove that there is a definition of slavery that absolutely fits the bill there, when I'm talking about a bankrupt country that will owe somebody something down the line if we don't change things that is, we will be shackled. We will be enslaved to those who we owe.


TAPPER: When we come back, she's always been open about her faith but there's one specific moment in Sarah Palin's life that stands out. The moment she became born again. And she will share that story. And also open up about her daughter Bristol's life as a teen mom. All of that's next as my interview with Sarah Palin continues.