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Speaker Drama Drags On; Football Faces Decline in Popularity; Marvin Lewis is Interviewed about the NFL Resuming Play; Bomb Cyclone Slams California. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 08:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A congressman and has been outspoken about McCarthy's impact on the Republican Party during his time on the January 6th committee.

We're happy to have you. Good morning to you. And welcome to - to - to the family, as they say.

There's so much to talk to you about, but I just want to get that - them invoking civil rights leaders. You know, times change, right, but is it just theater at this point and why even do it?

ADAM KINZINGER, CN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think everybody can benefit -- by the way, it's great to be here. It's good to be part of the team. But now back to business.

Everybody can benefit from like staying away from the race issue, getting this done, because there's - it's a really divided time right now. I mean both from kind of invoking, you know, Frederick Douglass and saying he wouldn't be anything but a Republican, I'll tell you, the Republican Party's a little different now than it was when he was in. And, secondarily, hearing the groans in the background too was kind of, to me, a little like jarring. I didn't - I can't see the visual of it, but this idea that - you know, look, Byron Donalds, I don't know much about him. He's a second term member of Congress. He's obviously in the Freedom Caucus. I don't know the dynamics in there. But I don't think it's beneficial to go after anyway.

The times have changed. There are some members of Congress that are Republicans that I think hold the mantle of people like Abraham Lincoln, and there are some that - that aren't. And I think these 20 out there that are doing their best to tear down government - and, frankly, some of those have been trying to tear down government since they've been in Congress -- is not a great example of Lincoln Republicanism.

LEMON: But just -

KINZINGER: A guy who fought to preserve it.

LEMON: Just one more thing, though. The Republicans bringing up race, while simultaneously saying race should not be a factor in politics and identity politics should not be - you know, there's not a place for it, it just strikes of hypocrisy to me.

KINZINGER: Well, yes. I mean, look, I think you're a great person to be able to say, how does that impact you personally? And I think the idea that, hey, we're going to put him up. Now we're going to invoke race. Look, if you're blind to race, and it's content of character, then you need to stand up and say, hey, Byron Donalds, he's the best man for the job, and here's why. This is after having put up Jim Jordan and everybody else.

Look, right now all the freedom - I call them the freedom club. All they're trying to do right now is to extract as much as they can from Kevin McCarthy. And they'll extract it all. And they'll probably put somebody different up eventually. It's all a game to them and, unfortunately, there's real consequences to this.

LEMON: Why do you call it freedom club instead of caucus?

KINZINGER: Yes, it's just a club. I mean, look, they - they've always pretend to be this caucus. They all sit together on the House floor. They kind of protect each other so no one can go into their little group. It's right by that -- you know where the president comes in for the State of the Union? If you look off just to the left, that little area, they all sit there with like Matt Gaetz and everybody. It's a - it's a club.

And, honestly, here's the interesting thing, I've seen a few members of this club try to distance themselves from this effort because there are a few that are supporting Kevin McCarthy. There's got to be a point at which hey have an internal discussion and say, is this really what we want to be?

You may see - and I think this is kind of the positive of what's going on right now, if there is one, which I think there can be, people are starting to see this now in the public. When I would go out in the past and try to explain the dynamics within the party, nobody would care and it would be tough to explain. Now you can see it. And the club, what they're trying to do is, it's destructive.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I worry a little bit that, you know, folks are waking up this morning and hearing the same - it's like the same headlines. It's like "Groundhog Day" again, right, like, still no speaker, but not understanding the consequences for them at home.

So, can we talk about a big one? You sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. These -- all the House members cannot get intelligence briefings this morning. What does that actually mean for this country?

KINZINGER: Right. Well, it's serious. I mean, look, I don't think a few days of not finding a speaker is really the end of the world because, keep in mind, there are governments like parliaments that can go months without forming a government. The problem right now, though, is, the House, in its current form. So it's called like Sindi (ph), I think, or whatever the Latin term is, it exists for only one reason, to elect a speaker. It can do nothing else but elect a speaker. That is the only existence. That's why you see vote after vote after vote. Either you adjourn or you come in and you vote for speaker. That's the only options. That includes things like coming in and getting briefings. That includes things like having discussion about, you know, the next round of aid to Ukraine. So, a few days we can handle. I'd say even a few weeks we can handle. If this thing goes on, it starts to have real, dangerous impacts.

HARLOW: Can you talk - I mean if you were a Republican in Congress now, like you just were, this would be you.

LEMON: Like a day ago, right, or something.

HARLOW: Like a day ago, right? He's like, hallelujah, happy to be on your team now, guys. But it would be you. What does it tell you about how Republicans will govern? This is this like brilliant question I think Kaitlan's been asking every Republican that we've had on the past few days. What does it tell you?

KINZINGER: It's a great question because what this tells me, this is going to be a really rough year.


So, when we had big majorities as Republicans, we had a really hard time passing conservative legislation because the freedom club would come in and say, it needs to be more conservative. It doesn't matter what the original legislation was, they would always move the goalpost. You're seeing that in these negotiations with Kevin McCarthy.

What I truly worry about, besides the internal dynamics, I worry about this debt limit. All the debt limit is, it's like saying, hey, here's your credit card bill. Are you going to pay it or not? You don't save money by not paying your credit card bill.

I don't know how Kevin McCarthy, after the promises he makes, after he says only one person can vacate the chair, by the way, that is weakening, not just the party, it weakens the country. And so I have to ask fellow Republicans, you know, are you going to - what are you going to prioritize here. But getting to that debt limit, everything else, yes, it's going to be messy, government's messy. The debt limit's a thing that can have a massive impact.


KINZINGER: Look back at 2011, by the way. Look at what the stock market did when we approached the debt limit. I think it dropped a couple thousand points.

HARLOW: It did. You're totally right.

LEMON: I - yes. I thought there were a lot - I think there are - I want your opinion on this because I tend to think that, in this moment people are over indexing the former president. The media, people in government. And, look, this is party of one. "New York Magazine" has Trump just sort of sitting there at a table.

When he put out on his social media platform, you know, everybody stand or everybody gather together and vote for Kevin McCarthy. I think Kevin -- correct me if I'm wrong, he like lost a vote.

What does this say about the political influence, the waning political influence of the former president? Is it really a party of one for him do you believe at this point?

KINZINGER: Not -- I don't think yet.

Here's -- to put it on my kind of -- view the science of what's going on hat. I think Trump may be fading as an influence. He still has serious influence. And I think to diminish him is dangerous.

But Trumpism - Trumpism has taken hold in the party and it's being learned by people. And so Donald Trump may not be an issue, but this idea of now the way to be a good Republican is to own the libs, is to say angry things, to say outrageous things, to yell, right, that, to me, is - you know, as a Republican myself, it's kind of disheartening to watch, obviously, because that's not the Republican I am. But I worry that even as Trump fades, which he is, that Trumpism takes hold.

At the same time, though, I don't want to be totally dark. I do think there are some signs of optimism here. And the question will be, are there members of Congress right now, which I would be in this position four days ago if I was still there, is, you know, as he -- as McCarthy starts giving concessions - and, again, look, have no doubt, he will give any concession it takes to become speaker. That's what these 20 people know. Any concession - he'll make them all chairman. It doesn't matter. Ultimately that's what he'll get to. The question is, when do the moderates or kind of the normal Republicans start to get off the band wagon. If you've declared yourself only Kevin, you have no negotiating power. If you haven't, you can start talking to Democrats about a consensus candidate or talking about a different candidate within the GOP.

LEMON: Listen, since you're going to be doing this television thing, there are time cues and people are -- people at home go, why did you cut him off, why did you, whatever? Because the producers are saying rap, right?

HARLOW: Why are you blaming the control room?

LEMON: But - no, I'm just saying, because we - we have to - we've got to go. But I've got to ask you, I don't think it should be taken lightly that you said Kevin McCarthy will give every concession which weaken the speakership, which means what to government, which means what to our country and the people at home who are watching right now?

HARLOW: In 30 seconds, Congressman.

LEMON: Yes. In less.

KINZINGER: All right, in 30 seconds. I'm showing you behind the scene. You're showing me behind the scenes in the - in the media business.

Look, the bottom line, it means that every concession he gives can create chaos. If one person can call to vacate the chair of the speakership, you know Matt Gaetz is going to do that every day because he gets attention. So it creates chaos. It takes away the strength of the speakership. That's what it means to the American people. And I think, again, the biggest concern is Ukraine and the debt limit.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Well, there you go, he did it in 30 seconds.

HARLOW: I want to talk about the debt ceiling every day.

LEMON: Let's do it.

HARLOW: No one else wants to talk about it. So, you can come on here and talk to me about it.

Congressman, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Welcome to CNN. We are - we are so glad to have you.

KINZINGER: All right. You bet. Thank you.

LEMON: NFL players are understandably on edge heading into the weekend's matches after Damar Hamlin's collapse. Former Cincinnati Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis joins us to discuss. That's straight ahead.

And this morning's number is 14. Harry Enten here to explain.




AARON RODGERS, QUARTERBACK, GREEN BY PACKERS: There's one thread that connects all of us, right? And it's that we know that we are the modern day gladiators, right? We are providing entertainment for the masses and doing something we love, but we're also putting our bodies and our future health on the line.


LEMON: Well, that was Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers talking about how shocked he was by Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest mid game. With so many safety concerns, is America's most- watched sport losing its allure?

Harry Enten, good morning, with today's number.

I'd be shocked to -- if it is because -

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So, let's take a look.

This morning's number is - and we're going to look at high school football participation rate. And we can see that it's down, in fact, 14 percent from 2001 to 2021, after decades of consistency.

So, what exactly is going on here? Well, let's take a look here and give you an indication, Don.

You're right, football is still king among the fall sports. Look at that, 974,000 players versus just 436,000 in soccer, 231,000 in cross country. But the trend line is interesting here because you see football is down 14 percent. Soccer is up 16 percent. Cross country is up 10 percent.

Why is it that football may be seeing somewhat of a decline in the high school participation rates? It comes down, in my mind, to safety concerns. So, this was asked among parents in a previous poll by the Associated Press.


Don't feel comfortable letting your child play given safety concerns. Look at this number for football, 44 percent - 44 percent. That's way more than the other top sports. Baseball at 11 percent, soccer at 10 percent, basketball at 9 percent, track and field at 8 percent. So, it does seem that safety concerns are driving some parents from keeping their kids playing.

But, Don, you know, the favorite sport to watch in America, it's still football. Among all adults, 36 percent. That's well ahead of basketball at 12 percent, baseball at 11 percent, soccer at 8 percent. But look at those younger people, right, those younger adults, football still has the advantage at 28 percent, but basketball is far closer at 17 percent.

So, look, football is still king, but there may be, as sort of the millennials and the gen-zs start growing up, it may lose some of its grip.

LEMON: I think - and football probably has reached its peak.


LEMON: Right. How high can it go?


LEMON: I mean the other sports are at a smaller level, so there's only room for them to grow.

ENTEN: That may be the case.

LEMON: So there's - yes, there's a lot in there too.


LEMON: Thank you, Harry. I appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Poppy.

HARLOW: So as of now, as we were talking about earlier in the show, NFL games will be played this weekend. We haven't heard any differently. The Bills are still set to face off against the Patriots Sunday. How will players do that? How will they actually handle it going on the field after what we all witnessed?

Former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis joins us.

Good morning, Coach. Thank you.

And just, as I was saying in the break, all of our thoughts are with all you guys who are so connected to the league because you experience this in a way that we don't.

So, how do you - how -- should games be played this weekend?

MARVIN LEWIS, FORMER CINCINNATI BENGALS HEAD COACH: Well, that's a big question. I think the NFL is going to push forward. I think, obviously, as all the players came back to their team headquarters, whether it was on Tuesday or Wednesday, I think the teams had access to professionals because we, as coaches, aren't professionals to help deal with this. They communicated with their team leaders if they had a leadership group, their captains, et cetera, to really talk about this and have open communication about this. And I think that's very, very important because they did see one of their brothers on the field be resuscitated on the field. And - and that's not normal. You know, we see catastrophic injuries all the time that happen on the field, but never to this extent.

LEMON: So, Coach, you know this from coaching. When something gets in your head, right, like, it's hard to get it out. We talked about Aaron Rodgers in the other segment. He said - he said that it really -- watching Damar, and this is him saying, it really f-ed him up. That's what he said.

So then how do you mentally prepare for this because you know the possibilities. But once you actually see it happen and then realize, well, man, it could be me, I'm wondering if football players, if that's top of mind and if they take that on to the field with them?

LEWIS: I - I -- Don, I think -- I can't imagine there's not going to be some that don't take it onto the field. I think that's it. That's why I think this time, this week, this open communication, expressing their thoughts, their feelings, that's half of the (INAUDIBLE) so that they get this out, they get - you know, come to some sort of resolution in their minds to push forward on this. They know the inherent dangers in this, but, obviously, this was one that was in front of everyone.

HARLOW: What about players that just can't bring themselves to play? If the games go on as normal this weekend, what should the NFL do, in your mind, Coach, for those folks? Should they be given more grace than perhaps the rules provide for?

LEWIS: Yes, I think that's probably something that the commission and Troy Vincent and so forth are considering. And I'm sure a number of head coaches are having to deal with that.

HARLOW: What do you think? What would you ask as head coach? What would you want for your guys?

LEWIS: I would think you -- yes, I would think you have to. There's no question about it. There's got to be some grace given. You get to this point in the season, a lot of times guys are dealing with certain injuries and so forth. And you, internally, as your club, give grace to a guy, to give him the time to get back and heal. This isn't a physical injury as much as it is a mental injury. And so they're - you know, just like they did with Covid, there may be some changes maybe done to rostering and so forth for this weekend. But, again, that's really, you know, out of - you know, way above me.

LEMON: Listen, I don't know what - what happens next. Well, you can kind of - you know, this will fade. Hopefully Damar will be fine, right, and then people will get back to playing the game and, you know, it will make its way off of the front page and the lead story. But that doesn't mean that they can't make the game safer. But to make it absolutely safe, according to Bomani Jones, who you know was on the program earlier in the week, he said, that's like trying to make a safe cigarette.


It's just not possible. So, do we even know what happens next?

LEWIS: Well, I think one of the things -- this was a cardiac issue. So, again, these guys are given extensive physicals. And maybe, you know, there's a deeper dive done and so forth. And if there's anything there, they continue to look further and make sure. And maybe it's a yearly thing, not just when they're coming into the league and entering, maybe there's a deeper dive all the time because this was, obviously -- there may have been something underlying, which we don't know yet, but maybe that's one of the things that comes out of this. I know that's going to be important to look at. And I'm sure it's going to be extensively looked at.


Hey, Coach, before I let you go, would you let your -- if you had young kids or kids that were, you know, of age now to play football, would you advise them to?

LEWIS: I have a grandson that's six years old and he's dying to play flag football. And I would say yes. I think it's still the greatest team sport going. Teaches you so much about working together, the competitiveness, the conditioning part of it and so forth that you can't get anything else. It's 11 people working together in order to be successful. And I think that's very, very important. It shows you a lot about life. Everybody comes from different backgrounds, but they come together pointed towards one goal.

LEMON: Coach, thank you. We appreciate your perspective. You be well.

LEWIS: Thank you. My pleasure. HARLOW: He was great.


HARLOW: All right, just ahead, really powerful hurricane force winds are downing trees and power lines. A child was killed. Thousands are in the dark this morning. It's happening in San Francisco. We'll take you live there.


HARLOW: There is an actual bomb cyclone - that's actually what it's called - lashing California with heavy rain, hurricane force winds right now. A toddler died as a result. First responders say the child was killed when a redwood tree fell on the family's home in Sonoma County. Oh. Forecasters say the deadly storm is far from over.

Stephanie Elam joins us live in San Francisco this morning.

Steph, good morning.


And we have seen a call for a state of emergency by the governor of California, also the city of Oakland, as well as all of these different municipalities are working to fix up after the storm has really come through the San Francisco area. We have seen downed trees. In fact, a tree fell on a car as it was moving in San Francisco yesterday. Crews getting out there. Luckily, that family unscathed that was inside of that video.

But we've seen other video too of a gas station being blown over. The closer you were to the ocean, the higher those wind gusts.


Those hurricane force wind gusts really affecting a lot of these different parts of the coastline here. And now, at this point, you can see, it's a lot calmer out here now. We have more rain that is expected to make its way in here. But, right now in Los Angeles County, that's where we're seeing the brunt of the storm making its impact. And that means they're very concerned about mudslides in places where there have been wildfires because that soil has been loosened up.

So, still very much a concern about flooding for much of the state. We still have a lot of power outages. And the worst is not over, especially since another storm system is moving in Friday night.


HARLOW: Stephanie, thank you.

LEMON: Crazy weather that's been happening all over the place.

HARLOW: Deadly. A toddler died. Stephanie, thank you.

Let's close it out.

Kaitlan, will you be here tomorrow with us?

LEMON: I say no.


LEMON: My prediction is no.

COLLINS: Is that your bet, Don?

LEMON: Yes. I don't think so.

COLLINS: I mean -

LEMON: I think - I think that it just -- they just keep counting until Kevin McCarthy really has nothing else to give, you know?

COLLINS: Yes. And the thing to watch for now is, do they actually vote when they get back together at noon because one of the concerns Kevin McCarthy had last night was that if he was not going to be making any forward momentum, actually gaining any support, he didn't want them to hold a vote.

He just arrived here on Capitol Hill a few moments ago. He saw our colleague, Lauren Fox. She asked him - he said he was feeling about that. That they are working to find a solution. But he didn't say whether or not he has the 218 votes that he needs.

And Warren Davidson, that we were talking to earlier, who he nominated Kevin McCarthy yesterday on the floor, and even he said he doesn't ultimately think McCarthy will get to 218. SO, we'll see. Mick Mulvaney says he thinks he's going to stay in there for now. He says his resolve in strong. Whether or not that remains the case in a few hours from now, that remains to be seen, Don and Poppy.

LEMON: The question is, though, Kaitlan, what's the - what is the alternative to Kevin McCarthy? You can say -- you know, you have the people that say only Kevin, only Kevin. And the people say, no way Kevin, no Kevin. But then what is the alternative? And in order to get to the alternative - right, this is why I'm predicting you're not going to be here tomorrow -- you're going to have to vote again on who that alternative is and then everyone will have to come to a consensus about that. So, who knows.

COLLINS: And, you know, one thing -- one thing also to watch, does that alternative agree to all of the concessions that Kevin McCarthy has made?

LEMON: Right.

COLLINS: Is that something they're willing to do?

LEMON: It starts the process over from the beginning, right?

COLLINS: It might. I don't - there's so many unknowns here. It's remarkable. We've been saying that every day. But it's truer now than ever.

LEMON: What is - do you have something?

HARLOW: No, no, no, I just think - marveling at your interviews. They've been so great. You're like, that Warren Davidson conversation was like stunning to listen to. You hear him say maybe - like, maybe Kevin can't pull this off, and there comes a point when you've got to step aside.

LEMON: Well, Zinke was the one for me because Zinke is also saying that this is embarrassing and that, at some point, you've got to do something.

COLLINS: Yes, Zinke saying basically the fact that this is happening out in front - you know, Republicans, yesterday, Don and Poppy, were touting that saying this is how democracy works. But the fact that it's all out in the open he says he believes is embarrassing, is actually hurting them.


Thank you, Kaitlan. We'll see you tomorrow on TV, not necessarily in New York.

COLLINS: Yes. Maybe.

HARLOW: Thank you.

And thanks, all of you, for being with us. We'll have a big day, I'm sure, again tomorrow.

CNN "NEWSROOM" is after this.

LEMON: Have a great day.