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Mother and Daughter Rescued After 92 Hours; Tens Of Thousands Homeless After Devastating Quake; McConnell On Scott Medicare, Social Security Plan: "It's Just A Bad Idea"; KFILE: DeSantis Backed Privatizing Social Security & Medicare. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 10, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: But there are moments of hope, a human chain of rescuers pulling a family of six out on stretchers, all rescued after 102 hours buried beneath the rubble in Turkey. And there are signs of life. A woman waving her hand as crews pull her and her daughter out from under a collapsed building after being stuck for 92 hours.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spent the morning on the ground getting a first-hand look at the devastation.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Behind me, you can see that the excavations have really moved into trying to produce the rubble. We have still seen glimmers of hope at an helipad just outside a field hospital here in Antakya. Some extraordinary images as helicopters now part of the machinery of government that is quite palpable here.

Now, Turkish Naval helicopters coming in sometimes a frequency of 20 minutes and filling up with survivors brought in ambulances at a great rate.


KING: On top of the death and destruction is a growing humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands people now in -- they are homeless in the freezing cold with little food, water and medicine. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh went to a camp that is now housing displaced survivors.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you can see behind me, you've got these piles of clothes, shoes, blankets, and we've been seeing children, mothers, fathers coming through and just looking through these piles trying to find shoes that fit for their kids, warm clothes, blankets. And then on the other side here, you've got the Turkish military distributing basic food parcels.


KING: For information about how you can help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, please go to

Back to a big debate here in Washington right now and a Republican family feud that proves President Biden has the GOP's attention. In the State of the Union address and in two days of post-speech travel, the President has highlighted a plan espoused by the Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott.

The Scott plan would sunset all federal programs every five years unless Congress votes to reauthorize them. President Biden says that's proof Republicans are a threat to Social Security and to Medicare. But listen to the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell push Senator Scott to the fringe.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: The Rick Scott plan, it is not the Republican plan and that's the view of the Speaker of the House as well. I mean, it's just a bad idea. I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own re-election in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any other state in America.


KING: Our great reporters back to the table. You can say I disagree with his plan, or you can say that which is essentially it's a bad idea. And Mitch McConnell almost wishing allowed Senator Scott, a Republican has a tough campaign.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Yes, that's called bad blood, you know? And I think it's interesting, I was in the State of the Union on Tuesday, and we've been talking with Republicans accusing President Biden of lying about what Republicans have floated, and then all the receipts that have posted in the day since including the Rick Scott plan, which is still on the internet. It has not changed.

And he has said he wants to sunset legislation, including Social Security and Medicare, and it's not popular, it doesn't pull well. Republicans know that. That's why they're going after the messenger at first, but McConnell is one of the few who's willing to say, yes, there's a member who said that I don't agree. I think it's a bad idea.

KING: And Rick Scott, to your point, he has said that he -- you know, he has no plans, that he would vote to reauthorize them. But Biden is correct when he says if you sunset them, you at least open the possibility that they get changed or not reauthorized. Rick Scott, you would think would say, you know, I'll change my plan. I'll put in there not Social Security and Medicare. That's not what I meant.

Instead, what he's trying to do is raise money off the fight. First with President Biden, now with Mitch McConnell. "Mitch McConnell just removed me from a Senate committee for challenging him for Republican leader. This is what happens when you challenge leadership in Washington. Maybe they'll take away my parking spot, next? Can I count on you for your support?" So on the one hand, fighting with your leader seems crazy. On the other hand, in today's politics, we've learned from other people, Trump among them, if you can establish a niche, you might not be president, you might not be Republican leader, but you can raise a lot of money.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, two things. The inside nitpicky back and forth of this is sort of fun to watch because if anyone who's watched Senator McConnell for a long time knows that he never says anything randomly or toss off. So this is witnessing someone hang someone else out to dry full stop. That's what this is.

And also, conveniently scapegoating to say, we all weren't thinking this. It was this one guy, everyone go chase that ball of yarn over there. The greater question here is also watching President Biden put Republicans on the defensive about an economic and kitchen table issue. So you can have Ron DeSantis out there talking about being woke, X, Y and Z, but Biden has firmly put himself in a column before the American people saying, I care about what happens to you, money, safety net issues and not bother with a culture wars.


KING: You make a great point about DeSantis. The President just had a meeting with the nation's governors at the White House. Ron DeSantis did not show up. But the President's making this issue about the Scott plan, he's traveling the country. Our KFILE team did some fantastic reporting on Ron DeSantis' history when he was in the House of Representatives.

He did back a plan to replace Medicare with a government subsidized private plans. And he told the local newspaper back then he backs the same thing for Social Security. And he said it's unsustainable for seniors to retire in their late 60s. Not only will Joe Biden make an issue of this, Phil, if Ron DeSantis runs, Donald Trump will and already has.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So this is the key point here. This has been an ideological battle for decades. I mean, '04, '05 of question privatization of Social Security, which really kind of created the roadmap for democratic activism to kill anything related to these issues that Republicans brought up.

Every Republican before Donald Trump supported changes to Social Security and Medicare, if not eliminating them altogether. There are votes after votes after votes on the House floor, under Speaker Boehner, on the Paul Ryan plan.

CORNISH: At the early Freedom Caucus.

MATTINGLY: The early Freedom Caucus and so these receipts, which you've seen in the President, as he was saying, gleefully read off at his rallies in the wake of the State of the Union, exist to eternity to some degree for all of these Republicans. I don't think that's why the State of the Union was so critical for the President on this issue itself.

He's been talking about Rick Scott's plan since April of last year. Like three weeks after it came out, he started talking about it in a rally. Democrats would say, we don't really -- nobody knows who Rick Scott is, why are you so focused on this? Now everybody knows the plan and everybody knows who it is.

30 million people who watch Plus, whoever's watching and streaming, thank you -- they know this is elevated to a level where it is a national conversation. That's exactly where the White House wants it to be, especially because they have the --

KING: It's where the White House wants it to be if you're a good government person out there thinking, wait, Social Security and Medicare do have solvency issues they have to be dealt with. That's usually done with a bipartisan commission.

What all this means is we're going to go through at least one more presidential election before anybody is going to have that conversation because they're both locked in on the politics now. So we'll have to wait for that.

Up next for us, some brand new CNN exclusive reporting. CNN learning now details about how the United States came to better understand how China uses those spy balloons and how that then led to a different. And what the intelligence community says it's a better way of tracking them.



KING: We want to bring you a CNN exclusive now. New details on how the U.S. intelligence community is now tracking China's fleet of spy balloons. Sources tell CNN the method was developed within the past year from lessons learned after a Chinese balloon crossed into U.S. airspace during President Biden's first year in office.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is here, she's breaking this reporting. So essentially, this is lessons learned in a new tracking way?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: In a way. So this balloon went over the U.S. territory in kind of the first year of the Biden administration. And at that point, they realized, wow, we don't really have a consistent way of tracking these balloons. And so, at that point, what they were able to do, they were able to collect signals from that particular balloon and put them through the intelligence community's holdings, essentially, and see where they had popped up in the past.

So it was a very technical method that they use there. But they did discover it only in the last year. And that has allowed them to not only discover where those balloons have popped up in the past over the continental United States or elsewhere in the world, but also has given them the capability to track them in real time. So this is a really useful tool that they have now to see where these balloons are, how big the fleet is. And of course, whether these balloons are crossing over any particularly sensitive areas.

And I should note that this method is pretty important because without it, it's really difficult to track these balloons, which flight very high as high as 300,000 feet in some cases and are very slow moving. So it's very easy for radar, for example, to -- for them to evade, for example, radar detection.

KING: And so then you see the questions being asked by members of Congress of both parties, I assume they'll get more pointed now. If you have a tracking method that you have worked on and perfected or made better in the past year, why was the most recent balloon then allowed to enter U.S. airspace if you were tracking it?

BERTRAND: They made a decision, a strategic decision here. They believe that because of the paths that they have tracked in the past that these balloons have taken, that this balloon in particular was unlikely to go anywhere particularly sensitive. They thought it was kind of just going to go around the edges of the continental U.S. that it wasn't really going to, of course, enter Montana, which was a surprise, I think, to everyone.

And so they wanted to watch it and see where it was going to go. And whether importantly, they could collect intelligence on it. They did not view these balloons, just in general as a potential national security threat to the United States. So they figured, look, the risk to civilians on the ground, if we shoot this down, is high. The potential intelligence value of these balloons is also high. So let's just wait see where it goes. And if we can shoot it down over the ocean, let's do that.

KING: And so, because of this new tracking method, they now believe if this happened at least three times during the Trump presidency, they ran the signals back through with what they learned. Do they have any understanding of what intelligence China may have gleaned from those?

BERTRAND: Not at this point. They just know that these were undetected during the Trump administration. So I think because they understand where are these balloons went over the United States, they probably understand what they might have been able to see. But at this point, we just don't have the answer to that.

KING: One of the many lingering questions. Fantastic reporting. Natasha, thank you very much.

A live look now as we go to break, that state farm stadium. Glendale, Arizona, the site of Super Bowl 57.


A big Eagles fan, the First Lady Jill Biden. She's going. The President will be one of the 100 million or so watching on television. With an audience that large in a re-election campaign looming, why is the President likely passing then, on the traditional pregame interview?


KING: Guacamole and ice cream. President Biden says they are on his snack list on Super Bowl Sunday. A pregame interview, though, does not appear to be part of his plan. Fox is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year. So Fox News would handle the traditional pregame sit down with the President. But President Biden is expected not to do that interview despite an audience that would number in the millions.

Our great reporters are back with us. Phil Mattingly, this is your beat. I get it. I get it. There's a contentious relationship between the Democratic White House and the Fox News Channel. But it's potentially 100 million people watch the Super Bowl. So assumed the pregame show could still be tens of millions.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And to be clear, I laughed because the dynamics, internal dynamics of decision making related to TV interviews, it's not something that I feel like I should or do spend a lot of time on, but I think you hit on the key point there.

KING: Been there.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's a lot of politics I care deeply about. This is not in that lane. But I do think it's reflective of two things. One, the relationship that President and this White House, in particular, more than White House and the President has with Fox News. That's not new.

The Obama administration grappled with how to deal with Fox over the course of the entirety of their eight years, with different kinds of strategies, having different ideas of what to do. But I think the second point, and what I'm trying to figure out right now is it's a short interview, it's a pretty quick interview.

The audience -- Savannah Guthrie had some -- when she did this, had some great lines about how do you balance like the -- a light interview with people who want to watch sports. And --

KING: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- so you're going to get different questions, interesting questions, humanizing questions as well, with a massive audience, right, before you're about to announce your re-election campaign. And what was the cost benefit to just say, you know what? Absolutely not. And not only know, we're going to make -- we're going to turn this into a battle with this network. And I don't have a good answer for it right now. I'm sure we'll find out pretty soon.

CORNISH: So there's no indication, they're going to do an interview just elsewhere with another network?

MATTINGLY: Not I've heard, no. I mean, there's no -- Fox is the Super Bowl interview.


MATTINGLY: He's done two interviews this week. I think they're going to point that out --

CORNISH: And it is fascinating. I was doing some research into this and 82 of the top 100 live events on television last year were football games.

KING: Right.

CORNISH: It is the predominant sort of draw for any kind of life.

MATTINGLY: And he's a fan.


MATTINGLY: And his wife is it's going to be at the game.

KING: Yes.

MATTINGLY: It's just an interesting thing.

KING: So it comes across, you know, again, they're very smart people around the President. It comes across to me just hit the surface, quick, missed opportunity. But Donald Trump didn't do it in, I think, 2018 with NBC. He wouldn't sit down with Lester Holt.

MITCHELL: Yes. I think it's clear that the White House has made a calculation that Biden doesn't need it that badly, you know? So that -- they put a line in the sand saying, if you want us to do it, here's what we want. We want to talk to one of the black reporters affiliated with Fox News, not the reporter of your choosing.

And I think the White House decided if they say no, that's OK. Biden had to his State of the Union this week. He's had some big high- profile wins. I think they decided if so be it, will do without it.

KING: Yes, I'm a dinosaur but in my view, the White House or any politician should not get to pick who interviews them. If you get the interview, you get, you know, we want to interview you sir, ma'am. And you decide who he says. That's me, I'm a little old school. Let's get to the fun stuff.

The First Lady as you mentioned, huge Eagles fan she will be there. President's not going. He says he'll be home and he has the menu.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know what the First Lady's doing for the Super Bowl. But what are you doing for the Super Bowl?



BIDEN: No. Man, we have a guacamole, exactly right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice cream maybe?

BIDEN: Ice cream. Chocolate chip ice cream afterwards.



CORNISH: Nice, nice. I mean, first of all, it's super sweet that there's going to be a football game during this Rihanna concert, which I'm very (INAUDIBLE). I think that's going to be one of the most, you know, sort of really throwing a bone to people who are interested in the sport.

KING: All place.

CORNISH: Like, you know, that's the thing. It is a communal event in an era when there's very little mono culture. And it's still significant in that one.

MATTINGLY: I would just note that while guacamole straight to ice cream doesn't sound like a great combination. Nobody makes good eating choices on Superbowl Sunday. And frankly, if you are making good eating choices on Superbowl Sunday, I question your American exceptionalism. And so, for those who are marking the potential combination of those two things, I see you're doing it wrong.

MITCHELL: Apparently this group what, pizza with ranch is a big thing.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Well for me --

KING: That's Midwest Mattingly, that's Midwest Mattingly. There'll be -- I have 26th graders coming to my House for the Super Bowl, if you want to stop by.

MATTINGLY: I'm so sorry.


KING: Yes. Phil will be right here with his pizza ranch on Monday. And you should check out Audie's latest podcasts. You should check it out. Anyway, the podcast, "The Assignment", but this week's topic, not the Rihanna concert, the Super Bowl. You can listen to it wherever you get your podcast.

Up next, will she or won't she? You will want to hear Kyrsten Sinema's answer to questions about whether she'll run for re-election in 2024.



KING: Topping our political radar today, President Biden welcomes the Brazilian President Lula da Silva to the White House this afternoon. Lula defeated the conservative former President Bolsonaro who called himself of course the Trump of the tropics. Both countries framing today's meeting as a renewal of an important friendship.

The D.C. police arresting a man for attacking Democratic Congresswoman Angie Craig. Kendrick Hamlin now charged with assaulting. The Minnesota Democrat in her apartment elevator. She threw hot coffee on the attacker to fend him off. And she suffered some bruises but off her office says she is otherwise OK. The Vice President among those who call to check in on her.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema playing her cards close to the vest. The Arizona independent refuses to say whether she'll run for re-election in 2024.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have not yet announced that you are going to run for re-election.

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I), ARIZONA: I won't be doing that today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you could change your mind.



KING: Democratic Senator John Fetterman's office says he did not suffer another stroke. But the Pennsylvania Democrats still in the hospital, that after feeling lightheaded Wednesday. Fetterman's team says the center is being monitored just in case for signs of a seizure, but so far, there are none.

Appreciate your time today and all week on Inside Politics. Hope to see you on Monday. Have a nice weekend. Abby Phillip picks up our coverage right now.