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Senate Finance Committee Passes Health Care Bill; Interview With Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Aired October 13, 2009 - 17:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

And we're coming to you today from Florida International University.


SANCHEZ: Happy to be here.


SANCHEZ: The big news story, though, the big news story on this day is obviously going to be coming out of Washington, D.C. It appears that the Senate Finance Committee has approved of this bill.

Brianna Keilar is standing by right now to bring us up to date.

What have they actually passed? I think the American people are going to look at this, Brianna, and say, what is this going to mean to me? What is it going to cost me?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this particular bill, Rick, is really unique compared to the other four bills that Congress is mulling over. This one cost $829 billion. That's significant because it's under that $900 billion mark that President Obama put out there.

And, also, it is deficit-neutral, meaning -- and, actually, what we understand is that it will reduce the deficit over 10 years. It also includes not that government-run insurance plan, but instead nonprofit health cooperatives.

So, that's very significant, because all of the other plans include that so-called public option. And this does include an individual mandate, saying to Americans, you have to purchase insurance or pay a penalty if you're not going to do it.

It also includes subsidies to help low-income and middle-class Americans purchase that insurance, although there is some controversy and concern about whether it makes insurance affordable enough for people, Rick. And that's certainly a question that keeps being asked -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, one of the problems that some people are going to have with this that possibly are the other side of the aisle is, they're going to ask themselves, isn't this really what the insurance companies wanted? Hasn't the Senate Finance Committee essentially given the insurance companies what they were wanting from the very beginning, especially by leaving out the public option?

KEILAR: No, and insurance companies, as you know, recently put out a report that said this is going to increase premiums, really a first major salvo against this very plan here, which is in fact the most conservative plan before Congress, something interesting there, Rick.

But, yes, there are people -- for instance, even the AARP said yesterday that this is really a dream for insurance companies, because it -- according to the numbers that have been crunched on this bill, 94 percent of Americans would be insured. And that's 20-odd million more customers for insurance companies. So, it depends on who you talk to, but, certainly, on one side, many Democrats, many liberal Democrats, feel that this is a giveaway.

SANCHEZ: Well, you know, you're absolutely right and I'm sure a lot of people watching this newscast right now are probably scratching their heads saying, if the insurance companies really were a part of the problem, and they're really happy about this bill, can this bill really be a solution to the problem?

But let's leave that aside and let me ask you about partisan politics. Who voted for what? We were told that at one point this was really split down the middle. Republicans were going to go one way. Democrats are going to go the other way? Did it turn out that way? Or did any of the Republicans cross over?

KEILAR: It almost did, Rick. One Republican, lone Republican, Olympia Snowe, a centrist Republican from Maine, voted with Democrats on this. And she was the only one to vote with Democrats.

This was the hope of the Democratic chairman of this committee, Max Baucus, that they could get this one Republican, because it was clear that she might be the only one.

Now, that said, she said, is this a perfect bill, no? Do I want to see more changes to make this more to my liking? Yes.

And she made it clear that as there of course are even more votes, because this is just a key committee vote, Rick -- there are votes on the full Senate floor -- there are going to be votes in the House -- and Senator Snowe made it clear that if this bill moves away from what her liking is, or doesn't move toward what her liking is, which would obviously be a more conservative bill, then she is holding sort of out that option of voting no here in the future.

SANCHEZ: Brianna Keilar, thank you so much for that report. We will be catching back up with you as we continue to follow this story. I understand that Senator Max Baucus, as well as Nancy Pelosi, are both going to be coming on during this hour. And they're going to be talking to us as well.

In the meantime, we're switching that shot. We're going to Bill Nelson, the senior senator from the state of Florida.

FIU would give a round welcome to Bill Nelson the senior senator from the state of Florida. He's joining us now live.


SANCHEZ: Senator, how did you vote and why did you vote that way?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: I voted for it because it's the right thing to do.

It's -- we can't tolerate this situation where people can't afford health insurance. And that's if they're lucky enough to be able to get it. And, so, the whole attempt at this health care reform, health insurance reform is to make health care available and affordable. And I was so pleased with Olympia Snowe of Maine that she...


SANCHEZ: Senator, I'm just going to interrupt you.


SANCHEZ: I'm just going to interrupt you, if I can, for just a moment, because a lot of people are wondering, why not the public option? There was a recent "New York Times" report that seemed to indicate that something like 65 percent of Americans were for the public option, in other words, the government getting involved in some way, shape or fashion.

And, yet, your committee resoundingly voted it down. I know that you split your vote. You voted for it one time and you voted against it a second time. Tell the American people why it is that you or your committee believes that the public option is not a viable option to reform health care?

NELSON: Well, I think public option is a viable option, and it should be in the legislation, and I think we have got a decent chance, once it gets to the floor, of making it a part.

It is and the version I voted for on public option is to put a government-funded insurance company operating under the same rules as all the other insurance companies, so that you keep them honest and keep their rates low.

And this is for about a quarter of the insured population that is going to be in this health insurance exchange getting new insurance that don't otherwise have insurance now or that they can't afford it. And I think you will see it added.


SANCHEZ: Isn't this really, Senator, a very conservative principle? I, as an American, do not want to pick up the tab for 47 million people in this country who are uninsured. So, a way of making sure that I don't pick up the tab is to tax them for it. If you live in the United States, you should pay for health insurance.

The public option provides that. It seems to me to be as conservative a principle as there is. Why, then, are conservatives consistently voting against this?

NELSON: Because the insurance industry is against it, Rick. That's as simple as I can put it.

And you put your finger on a major part of the overall problem, is that all the uninsured population, which is basically about 20 percent of the population, they get health care, and they get it at the most expensive place, which is the emergency room. And guess who pays for it? All the rest of us do.

About $1,000 of our own health insurance premiums per year, we are paying for the folks that don't have health insurance. And that's what this bill is trying to straighten out.

SANCHEZ: My thanks to you, sir, the senior senator from the state of Florida, Bill Nelson. We thank him for coming on and joining us today...


NELSON: Thanks, Rick. Thank you.


SANCHEZ: ... from the newest and the -- the newest star on the education system here at the state of Florida, Florida International University.

By the way, coming up, I know we're going to have Max Baucus. He's going to be coming out and talking in just a little bit. We're also going to have Nancy Pelosi.

But let me tell you who else we're going to be talking to in just a little bit, Isiah Thomas, the newest member of Florida International University, the president of Florida International University, the esteemed Dr. Mark Rosenberg.


SANCHEZ: And formerly with the University of Miami and the Cleveland Browns, and now with FIU, Pete Garcia.


SANCHEZ: Question for the audience, question for the audience. Can you all hear me?

How many people here believe -- how many people here believe that Rush Limbaugh should have the right to buy a football team in the NFL.



SANCHEZ: How many people here believe that players who are chosen by the team that Rush Limbaugh owns should have the right not to play for him?


SANCHEZ: That's an interesting question, one we're going to examine in just a little bit.

Coming up, Rush Limbaugh, he is now setting us straight on a remark that's been wildly publicized about what he has said in the past. Pardon me for speaking so loud.

We are live at Florida International University. We will be right back.



SANCHEZ: And I welcome you back to Florida International University in beautiful Miami, where it is generally hot and humid pretty much every single day of the year.

The interesting part about the public debate on health care is that just because it seems that the Senate Finance Committee has passed one bill, as you just heard Senator, senior Senator from Florida Bill Nelson describe, it doesn't mean that that is the final version of this bill.

There's a lot of people, including students here at Florida International University, who have some very distinct opinions about what this bill should actually look like and what purpose it should serve.

Joining us now is our own guest.

Lisha (ph), you got somebody in the audience?

Pontz (ph), what do you got?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) I'm about to graduate.

SANCHEZ: Can we hear him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to graduate in a year-and-a-half. And, honestly, I don't exactly if I'm going to get out of college and have health care. My dad right now is working about two or three jobs.

And that's my general concern. Am I going to have health care when I get to my dad's age? Am I going to have health care when I get to my grandfather's age? That's my general concern right now. SANCHEZ: One of FIU's brightest, as a matter of fact. Thanks for the comments. We appreciate what's going on.

All right, we're going to have to make a little bit of time so that we can get Nancy Pelosi and Max Baucus in here. So, let's try and get another break in.

I'm checking your tweets. I see you're still sending us messages on Facebook and MySpace as well. And we're going to get to those in just a little bit.

But let me tell you what we're going to do when we come back. You see that guy over there? That's Isiah Thomas. He is no doubt a sports legend. He is accomplished both in the NBA. He's in the Hall of Fame. He has owned a team. He has managed a team. And now he has set his sights on something brand-new.

He doesn't usually tell his story, but he's telling it today to us when we come back.


SANCHEZ: And I'm welcome you back to once again Florida International University, where today the students are all pumped up. We're going to be talking a lot about all the things that are going on here.

By the way, program note, just one of the reasons we're in Miami, tonight, Soledad O'Brien and I are going to be unveiling the -- part of "Latino in America." We will be doing so just a little north of here in Broward County, as a matter of fact. That should be about 7:00 tonight.

But, in the meantime, I want to introduce you to somebody right now. He's not the kind of person who has been jumping up and down to do a lot of media interviews. As a matter of fact, he's a very private individual. He also happens to be arguably one of the best NBA players ever. He went on to be a coach. He went on to be part of administration. And some would argue he had a bit of a fall in New York City, getting skewered by the tabs there, which happens a lot in New York City.

I would like you to meet Isiah Thomas, joining us now live here.

Coach, how are you?


SANCHEZ: I think you can tell from the reception that people here are happy to have you.

You're working as the head basketball coach at Florida International University. I just talked to "USA Today." They're doing a cover story on you that comes out on Friday. And you're doing this for free. You're not charging. Why?

ISIAH THOMAS, FIU MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: The game has been very good to me. And this is my way of giving back to the game.

When I was a kid growing up, there was somebody, there was some person that grabbed me by the hand and said, hey, this game can be great for you. It can take you all around the world. You can meet kings and queens and dine with presidents and meet people from all walks of life.

And I'm going to take this out...


SANCHEZ: Yes, go ahead. You can take that out.

Is this redemption for you because of the hassles you had in New York City, the skewering you got from the media over there? You want to say, this is who I really am; it's not that guy you read about in the papers?

THOMAS: I think part of celebrity, as we see right now, you're going to have your good moments and you're going to have your bad moments.

And anyone who's a public figure, regardless of age, race or whatever industry that you're in right now, celebrity brings some -- some type of gossip along with it. And our job is to fight that and continue to be the people that we really are. And...


SANCHEZ: Were you wrong, though? Was there a part of what they were talking about which you would look back on and say, I got to man up; I screwed up?

THOMAS: No, the thing that they were talking about in terms of my character, the way I have treated people and the way I have conducted myself, I have always said that that was totally false and that was totally wrong.

Now, the losing that took place in New York, that's on me. We had bad seasons. I made some -- some questionable trades. And if I had to do some things over again on the basketball side, I would. The way I have always conducted myself and presented myself, I never would change that.

SANCHEZ: I'm hearing that you are at FIU, which has not ever been known as a basketball powerhouse, you're showing up in living rooms all over America and talking young students and their parents into letting their kids come and play here, kids who normally would go to places like University of North Carolina, Michigan.

That's a pretty phenomenal story for a guy who's working for free.

THOMAS: Well, as I said, the game's been good to me, and this is my way of giving back. And what we're presenting kids with is an opportunity to come to an emerging university, a place that's very diverse, have a great education, have a great sports education, and learn from, you know, some of -- myself and a couple of my friends that will stop by.

And a lot of these kids, not only do they want to get to the NBA, but they also want to grow and be men. And we're challenging them, and we're giving them the opportunity to grow and be men and to become educated, because basketball may not work out for you. And if it doesn't work out for you, my job is to make sure that you're really prepared for the real world.

SANCHEZ: Well, it seems -- I mean, everything that's now being written about you is so positive. People are saying, look what this guy's doing at FIU.

For the people out there who perhaps don't read the sports journals, this is what's being said. Was there ever a doubt in you gentlemen's mind, President Mark Rosenberg, athletic director Pete Garcia, about hiring Isiah Thomas? And, if so, what was it?

MARK ROSENBERG, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Rick, there's no doubt in our mind. Our team president, Maidique, and the provost did their diligence. They knew that Isiah Thomas, what he stands for. They knew his integrity, and they made the right decision.

SANCHEZ: What is he going to mean to the university? What's he going to mean for this basketball program, Pete?

PETE GARCIA, FIU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: This has been known as a football town. And Isiah is changing that single-handedly. And the only thing that I'm surprised -- and I knew he could do it -- I didn't think he would do it this fast.

SANCHEZ: How long before you take these guys to the dance?

THOMAS: Well, our goal is to be a top 25 program, and to do it very quickly.


SANCHEZ: One year?

THOMAS: I don't know. There's no timetable on winning. There's only commitment. And you do have my commitment that I will do everything I can to take us to the top.

SANCHEZ: Isiah Thomas, FIU basketball coach, my thanks to you.


SANCHEZ: One of the reasons we're down here is we're talking about the changing face of America in many ways. And it's also reflected in the changing faces of sports. In the past, you would never be able to play football, for example, someplace like the University of Alabama if you were an African-American. And now we're seeing Hispanics break into college athletics as well. In fact, here's an example of it.


MARIO CRISTOBAL, FIU HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: All day, right? Big one for you. Let's get ready to roll.


SANCHEZ: That is Mario Cristobal. When we come back, I will introduce you to him. He is one of the few Division I head football coaches who is not only a minority, but he's also Hispanic, as is the man who hired him, their story from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when we come back from FIU.


SANCHEZ: And I welcome you back.

We're live at Florida International University. Rush Limbaugh been getting a lot of heat lately. Some people are saying it's not fair at all. All he has said is he wants to own a NFL franchise, the Saint Louis Rams. Much of the criticism has come from some NFL players, who are actually saying we're not willing to play for someone like that because he has been divisive.

But one of the quotes that has been attributed to Rush Limbaugh is the one about him saying that: "Slavery built the South, and I'm not saying that we should bring it back. I'm just saying that it had it merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."

Among the news organizations that reported that yesterday was our show at 3:00. Limbaugh's response to this is -- and I -- we want to be fair to Rush -- he says: "We have gone back. We have looked at everything else, and there is not even an inkling that any of the words in that quote are accurate. It's outrageous."

So, Rush Limbaugh is denying that that quote has come from him. Obviously, that does not take away the fact that there are other quotes who have been attributed to Rush Limbaugh which many people in the African-American community and many other minority communities do find offensive.

Nonetheless, it is a major controversy, not only in sports, but it's also entered the news arena, when members of the NFL Players Association came out yesterday and said they, too, were going to tell the commissioner that he should not allow Rush Limbaugh to own a team.

Isiah Thomas, you have been involved in administration. Should Rush Limbaugh, despite what people think of him, be allowed to have an NFL franchise, if he so chooses to buy one?

THOMAS: Can you do me a favor? I didn't get a chance to hear or see the quote. Can I -- can someone say it to me or repeat it to me again?

SANCHEZ: Outside a quote, Rush Limbaugh's being criticized in the African-American community. Many people, including players, are saying they're not comfortable working for him because he's had a divisive past.

Do you, as someone who's in sports, think that everyone should have the right to have a football team if they so choose, or Dr. Rosenberg, someone who's also been involved in the business of sports, or Pete Garcia, who worked with the Cleveland Browns?

GARCIA: I think, Rick, I will tell you this much. In a society that we live, with freedom of choice, he has the right to buy a football team. The players will have a right in free agency not to play for him.

And the only thing I see where it's going to be real negative for him is, you have Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins, who incorporates the Williams sisters, Marc Anthony. He's incorporating the community.

Do the players want to play for somebody like Stephen Ross when it comes down to it, or Rush Limbaugh? They're going to have that choice.

SANCHEZ: So, it's up to him to decide. It's a P.R. nightmare for him, if that's the way it works out.

All right, let's do this. When we come back, you're going to actually see the tape of Florida International University's football team on the field against the Crimson Tide of Alabama. We were there. We took our cameras. It's quite a story.

And the kid who escaped from Fidel Castro's Cuba would end up being one of the big dogs at Florida International University -- their stories when we come back. Stay right there.

We are at FIU.



SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

This is "Conexion." We're connecting you now to something that's going on here in south Florida, something special.

It's a brand new state university for the most part, at least compared to some of the other schools in the state, that's really making its way into people's attention down here and all over the country. Florida International University, who's about to have some 40,000 students on campus, may now play Division I football. And recently they went to Alabama, Tuscaloosa, to play the Crimson Tide, and so did CNN's cameras.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): There may be no bigger atmosphere for athletics than Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where they especially love their football. And what's not to love? Consistently, Alabama is one of the top 10 teams in the country. But it wasn't always that black and white.

Throughout the 1960s, Alabama was as much a bastion of segregation and sports as it was in politics.

FMR. ALABAMA GOV. GEORGE WALLACE: Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.

SANCHEZ: Athletes of color were forbidden from playing with whites, regardless of their skill.

By 1970, pro football, baseball, basketball had been integrated, as were most northern colleges. But the University of Alabama remained one of the last strongholds of segregation in sports. It had yet to put a black player on the field, though they did have one black recruit who wasn't yet eligible to play.

The watershed moment for Alabama was the embarrassment of this game in 1970, when USC, whose team was a third black, came into Tuscaloosa and so thoroughly beat the Crimson Tide in their own home that the need to change became painfully obvious. USC out-rushed Alabama 485-32, and every single touchdown was scored by a black player. That game defined college football integration in the South, and sports in America would never be the same.

Fast forward almost four decades and enter another team breaking barriers. These are the Golden Panthers of Florida International University, a newer school without Alabama's storied sports history and with a roster that includes names like Gonzales, Ramirez and Carabalo (ph), looking to take on the behemoth of college football, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

(on camera): They're expecting something like 98,000 people here. If may be one percent of them thought that FIU had a good chance of winning this game, you would be doing pretty well. But you know what? These kids, they believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to get yourself ready to play today. Let's go.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): While minority athletes of all stripes and colors have now found their place in college athletics, the coaching and administration remain largely the same. According to "USA Today," men of color account for only 7.5 percent of all Division I head coaches. There are 120 football programs, but only nine of them have minorities has head coaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking good, 5. Looking good.

SANCHEZ: FIU's Mario Cristobal is a rare breed. He's the first Cuban-American head football coach. A former all-American-turned- football-player himself. He brings his hardscrabble squad into Tuscaloosa knowing the odds are against him. Again.

MARIO CRISTOBAL, FIU HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: That's it. Get loose all day, right? Big one for you. Let's get ready to roll.

SANCHEZ: But Cristobal is not the only Hispanic surname on the FIU staff. Athletic director Pete Garcia was born in Cuba. He's credited with helping bring the University of Miami Hurricanes to prominence and served as vice president of the Cleveland Browns.

PETE GARCIA, FIU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: We've only played one half, obviously, but our coaches have done a great job of (INAUDIBLE).

SANCHEZ: For both men who've overcome insurmountable odds to get here, the real challenge on this day is on the field. And for three quarters, their team met that challenge.


SANCHEZ: Stunned, after a 96-yard kickoff return by T.Y. Hilton (ph), Alabama fans were even more shocked when FIU took a 14-13 lead before the half. For Cristobal and his players, it was about respect.

CRISTOBAL: Knock somebody out. Knock somebody out. All right? All you got. Let's go. Go play ball. Come on.

SANCHEZ: Alabama would go on to win the game and avoid what would have been a devastating upset, but Cristobal's team had made its point. They had done what few expected. They played and stayed with the big boys of college football. In fact, they led the number four team in the country and played even with them for a full three quarters.


SANCHEZ: And there you go. The FIU Golden Panthers playing against the Crimson Tide.

Pretty good stuff, huh?


SANCHEZ: When we come back, two of the men who made that possible, the president, Mark Rosenberg, and the athletic director who you just saw in that presentation moments ago, Pete Garcia.

Stay with us from FIU. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: All right. Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez at FIU.

Boy, we're getting a lot of comments on the questions about Rush Limbaugh. As a matter of fact, I'm looking at my quarter (ph) board here, and you can see we've got two up right now. Can you get those there?

We've got, "Rush has a right like everyone else. Players don't get to choose their owners, boss after contract signed."

Then let's go down to this one here. It says, "Rush would have his ugly brand of politics spill onto the football field, pass time into a political joke."

Well, it's interesting. I mean, there's a lot of reactions out there. Obviously, this is one of the stories that we're going to be following for you.

When we come back, talking to Pete Garcia and talking to Mark Rosenberg and Isiah Thomas about this university, and talking specifically about the changing faces of sports.

Also, I should add the fact that there's somebody here who makes me very proud, because he happens to be somebody who goes to this university, has been helping out with the football program -- my son, Ricky Sanchez.

I have never shown you on TV, son. Say hi.

There you go. Oh, my God, did I just embarrass my son on national television.

Stay with us. We're going to be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to Florida International University.

Yes, you can get excited once again.


All right. One of the reasons that we're here -- and this is important -- is CNN is unveiling -- tonight we're going to be screening part of "LATINO IN AMERICA." "LATINO IN AMERICA" is a very important issue for us at CNN. It's really a way of shining a light on a community so that we all can, I suppose, get to know each other a little bit better.

You could make the argument that this is a particular time that we're living through right now where there's a lot of people in this country whether they're ideologically on the left or right, or Hispanic or African-American or white or whatever, to have a difficult time understanding each other. That is all that it aims to do. Here's what these people are, here's what they stand for, here's what they believe in.

Joining me now, here's someone I want to bring in, Pete Garcia, Athletic Director of Florida International University. In the end, does it matter that you are Hispanic? PETE GARCIA, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Not at all. You just better get the job done. In this country, it's all about get an opportunity, take advantage of it. But in the end, you've got to get the job done.

SANCHEZ: So, are we right to celebrate? You're a university professor now. Pardon me, a university president now, you've been a provost president, professor, everything. Why do you, if you can why does it matter to hire a Hispanic or an African-American?

ROSENBERG: Rick, we always try to hire the best people. In this community, we're very pleased that we can hire the best people, and they reflect to our population is, and our population, our demographics, our students are looking for role models. I have two excellent role models sitting right next to me, I'm very proud of that.

SANCHEZ: You would have hired these two guys in a New York minute, as they say, no matter what then, right?

ROSENBERG: They're competitive. No matter where they go, they're competitive.

SANCHEZ: The fact that you and Mario Cristobal, there's never probably been a Division I school in the history of United States with those positions being held by Hispanics, does that mean anything? We just do a four-minute report on it. Should it mean anything?

GARCIA: No, we have got an opportunity. FIU is a school, I think that's 70 percent minorities. They give opportunities, but I can point back to in the end, we're very fortunate to be in this country, our parents were fortunate to be allowed in this country. And you got to take advantage of what this country does. It's still the best country in the world and that's why everybody wants to live here because you're given an opportunity.

SANCHEZ: You know, it's interesting when you look at what's going on though, there is a change in sports, there is a change in the country. I mean, the fact that we're seeing Gonzalezes, Garcias and Sanchezs in positions of influence, whether it's in sports, media or politics, is that a good thing, necessarily?

ROSENBERG: Rick, it's very important. Our country, our demographics, our population is rapidly diversifying and it's very important that opportunities can be have wherever that population is. FIU stands for opportunity, and you can see that here in mix of our students and we were proud of that mix.

SANCHEZ: Yes, this Florida International University, if there's one place in the country where we need to see it, it's probably here, it's the name sake of it. But some people are watching us right now and they would argue, it's good, and it shows America's changing, but do we need -- do we need to celebrate it? Because if we're going to celebrate African-American month or Hispanic American month, as I watched last night on the Dolphin game. Then don't we need White American month or white non Hispanic month? How do you avoid that argument?

ROSENBERG: It's very important to celebrate success wherever we find it in this country and you can go to many communities that don't have Hispanics or African-Americans where success needs to be celebrated, where it needs to be enjoyed. We do that down here, we're a very diverse population, and we celebrate not just the presence of African-American or Hispanics but anybody who's successful, anybody who sets high goals and achieves them.

SANCHEZ: How do you explain that in the NFL only 7.5 percent of the head coaches are African-American, while 65 of the players are African-American? How can you explain that, can you?

GARCIA: Explain it, but you can tell it African-American coach of the NFL, starting with Tony Dungy, and the coach of Pipe Dealers (ph) very successful. So, when giving the opportunity, they have succeeded.

SANCHEZ: So, the reason is?

GARCIA: The reason is maybe not as much as there will be in the future, because you are right, times are changing, and these people, Tony Dungys of the world have proven their success. So, everybody is successful, you saw it on "Monday Night Football" last night with a quarterback named Sanchez. Very successful.

SANCHEZ: That's a very good last name. Sanchez, good last name?

Mark Sanchez? Final point.

Final point.

ISAIAH THOMAS, FIU MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: Sports has always been the place where diversity works, and it's always been the place where society has come to level the playing field. And I think through sports whether it be baseball, football or basketball, even during the civil rights movement, sports has always been the place where the playing field is level. As long as we can keep the playing field level, everyone gets a chance.

Isaiah Thomas, Mark Rosenberg and Mr. Garcia, Pedro Garcia, we're going to come right back with more from Florida International University looking at Latin America. Stay right there.


SANCHEZ: And welcome back to Florida International University. I'm Rick Sanchez. I should let you know that "LATINO IN AMERICA" will be premiering soon, it's happening October 21st and 22nd actually, it will be at 9:00. It will also going to be simulcast in Espanol so you'll be able to see it on the lacka lakha lacka channel as well as the regular channels, as all my friends call it in Georgia.

A couple of quick comments. The comments continue to came up on the conversation we had moments ago. I want to share some of those with you.

This is on Twitter, Orly, if you can move in on these. To celebrate any heritage is to make aware of their history. "Far too often people misjudge others based on prejudice. Celebrate it."

And then this one says, "Every day, this is the question I asked about why would we celebrate African-American or Latino-American at not celebrate the white non-Hispanic Americans? Everyday is white American month, that's the political operation (ph) or bruises around the U.S. and hate crimes, they hate what they ain't."

Well, those are two distinct comments, obviously different people are weighing in on this, and they will continue to share their comments. We'll going to be right back in just a little bit with more, including what's going on for the Obama Administration in Latin America. We'll be touching on places like Honduras, for example.

Stay with us, we're going to be right back from sunny south Florida where last night the Dolphins beat the Jets.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Look at these great students here. Young minds, the future of America, Florida International. Let me give me a shot of these students who have come out here from Florida International University. This is really nice. Yes. This is the guys who will make things up when the rest of us were gone.

All right, here we go he's been a college professor, his been a senate director, a dean, a vice provost. He is not just recently in fact been taking over by not going to like the choice of words there, as the new president of Florida International University.

I want to bring him into the conversation because he is in many ways an expert not just in administration but also in foreign policy, especially when it comes to Latin America, and it's one of the hot spots right now for the Obama Administration. As you heard us on this newscast, we've interviewed Oscar Arias, we interviewed Micheletti, the president of Honduras and then the other president of Honduras, Zelaya, we interviewed as well on this show.

So, let me bring Dr. Mark Rosenberg into this conversation now. Mr. President, do you think the Obama Administration needs to take a harder stand on either putting Zelaya in power or giving more credence to the Micheletti government in Honduras?

ROSENBERG: The Obama administration needs to take a hard stand on making sure there's a free and democratic election in Honduras in one month. That's where they need to be focused.

SANCHEZ: Is Oscar Arias the right guy to be negotiating this thing, the president and Nobel Prize winner of Costa Rica?

ROSENBERG: He's done it before. He's been very successful. He negotiated Central America peace in the '80s. He's the right person.

SANCHEZ: Does it -- was Hillary Clinton wrong when our secretary of state came out and essentially said that this was a lawless coup in Latin America? I'm not sure if she used the word lawless but the word coup was certainly used. Was that a mistake for the Obama Administration to step in so quickly and make that determination?

ROSENBERG: This clearly was a coup. It was extra- constitutional and it shouldn't have occurred this way, and so I think she was right in calling it what it was.

SANCHEZ: But when I spoke to president Micheletti he told me that it is constitutional because their constitution says when the head of state violates the constitution, the Supreme Court can pull him out of there.

ROSENBERG: Well, the reality is there are norms in Latin America that every Latin American country is working towards and to have somebody abruptly pulled out of the presidential system is outside of the framework of law that most of us understand for democracies.

SANCHEZ: Final question, do you pinch yourself now knowing that you're the president of the newest and perhaps one of the most exciting universities in the university system, Florida International University, down here in Florida?

ROSENBERG: Yes, it's an honor because of two things. First of all, we have incredible students. We have students who are determined to succeed and second of all we have a faculty who will going to find a way to give them the best education they can. So it's an honor to be here, Rick, just an honor.

SANCHEZ: Nice to be here, Pete Garcia, thanks for being with us. Isaiah Thomas, you got to get out on the basketball court, right?

THOMAS: Yes, I do. That guy standing behind you is my center.

SANCHEZ: And he's a Rhodes scholar, right?

THOMAS: That's right, that's right.

SANCHEZ: That's fantastic.

THOMAS: That's the model.

SANCHEZ: Good to have you.

We'll give the last 30 seconds to you guys, but we start by this young lady who is on what, the swimming team? On the volleyball team. Can you say coming up next Wolf Blitzer.

Coming up next. Wolf Blitzer.

There you go, from FIU, we're live. Thanks for being with us.