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How Should the Republican Party Change?; Is it Safe to be Pro Same-Sex Marriage?; New Biblical Movie in the Works; Iraq: 10 Years Later

Aired March 19, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: "Political Buzz" is your rapid fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three topics, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing with us today, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. Welcome to you both.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you for having me.


COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. After Republicans released their much anticipated autopsy, at last one prominent Republican has a problem with the findings, his name would be Rush Limbaugh.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW": The Republicans are just totally bamboozled right now and they are entirely lacking in confidence. Which is what happens to every political party after an election in which they think they got shellacked. They think they got landslided (sic) and they didn't. They think they've got to re-brand and it's all predicted. They got to reach out to minorities, moderate their tone here and moderate their tone there, and that's not at all what they've got to do. The Republican party lost because it's not conservative. It didn't get its base out in the 2012 election.


COSTELLO: Rush seems to be putting the blame on Mitt Romney who suddenly became a severe conservative after being a moderate Republican. Let's tale a look at some of the true conservatives who were in the running for president in 2012. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry. All three made an appearance at CPAC. The influential conservative gathering, we believe these are true conservatives. Our question today though, would any of those true conservatives - Santorum, Gingrich, or Perry - really have beaten Barack Obama? Amy?

KREMER: Carol, I don't think anybody would beat Barack Obama. He's a pop culture icon, and he's captain to that generation that all they care about is pop culture. When Rush is talking about people being conservative, he's actually not talking about social issues I don't think. I think he's talking about somebody that's fiscally conservative. And while I come from a red state and I didn't think Mitt Romney's conservative for me, he is for his state. It's all relative. That's what he's talking about.


CARDONA: I agree with Amy. I don't think that any of the other candidates would have beaten President Obama. Now, I do agree with Rush that I think the reason -- one of the reasons why conservatives didn't come out is because Mitt Romney was not a principled conservative. He wasn't principled period. But as a Democrat, I hope to God that the Republican party listens to Rush Limbaugh's advice and go more to the right. Because the problem was they was so out of mainstream and Mitt Romney was not convincing anybody that was not the case.

COSTELLO: All right. On to question number two. Hillary Clinton taking a stand for same-sex marriage.


HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage.


COSTELLO: Hillary Clinton's change of heart comes a few weeks after her husband said that the Supreme Court should overturn Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law. And it's not just the Clintons - Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, and other prominent Republicans also expressing their support for same-sex marriage publicly. Same-sex marriage has suddenly become a hot topic in a good way. Why not? A new "Washington Post" poll shows a record number of Americans, 58 percent, now back same-sex marriage. The "Post" noting that just three years ago, opponents of the issue outnumbered supporters. Our question, is it now politically safe to support same- sex marriage? Maria?

CARDONA: I think it depends on what party you are, and what state are you're from. Clearly we've seen many Republicans still do not support same-sex marriage. It certainly is the case that the American people are there and the American people are the ones who are leading politicians, including some Democrats. SO, while it is safer, that doesn't necessarily mean that every single leader will come out in support of same-sex marriage, even though it's the right thing to do.


KREMER: Well, Carol, I would say that we are seeing people go that way, politicians coming out in support of it. It's an individual's choice whether or not they support it. Quite honestly, the 14th amendment gives us all equal rights. Nowhere in the constitution does it mention marriage. No one has a constitutional right to marriage. Actually, I think the government needs to get out of it, and put it back in the churches, let it be dealt with there. Let marriage be dealt with there, and we won't have this problem.

COSTELLO: Onto the final buzz question. Color me (ph) tired of budget problems in Washington. First White House tours are suspended due to forced spending cuts, and now the Easter Egg Roll could be in jeopardy if Congress can't reach a deal to fund the government. I mean, come on. Is nothing sacred in Washington? The White House warning that the 135th edition of the event is subject to cancellation due to the funding uncertainty, including the possibility of a government shutdown. But the White House says for now, it's planning to proceed with the Easter Egg Roll which is scheduled to take place April 1st. No joke. Oh. The question, what steps should Washington take to save the Easter Egg Roll. Why are we talking about this, Amy?

KREMER: One thing, we could do is we could stop sending money to these foreign governments of these countries that hate us. That would save a lot of money right there. And it would pay for many Easter Egg Rolls in the years to come. But if Washington lived within their means and balanced their budget and didn't spend more than they brought in, we wouldn't have this problem.


CARDONA: I think that President Obama needs to gather all of the leaders in the House and in the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, and take them to Camp David, and not let them go until they come up with a deal and if they can't come up with a deal before the White House Easter Egg Eoll, Carol, they need to sign up for who is going to be the Easter Bunny, which hour, and who will administer the Easter Egg Roll to those kids.

COSTELLO: Like that.

KREMER: All sorts of Easter bunnies.

COSTELLO: Amy Kremer, Maria Cardona, thank you for playing today.


COSTELLO: There's a new movie in the works about Moses. And you will never guess who could be tapped to play Moses. You know, the guy who parted the Red Sea, led his people out of Egypt? We'll tell you next. [ female announcer ] are you sensitive to dairy? then you'll love lactose-free lactaid it's 100 percent


COSTELLO: We have a new pope, and Hollywood is casting a new Moses. The world is safe. Although you may never guess who could be the new recipient of the ten commandments. We'll ask A.J. Hammer in New York to do it for us. Good morning.

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. The internet abuzz with reports that Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale is considering trading in his superhero cape for a holy robe. According to reports, the "Dark Knight" star is in early talks to take the lead role as Moses. This would be for the biblical epic "Exodus," which is currently being developed at Fox. The movie will tell the Old Testament story of how Abraham's famous descendent led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, back to the promised land. Reps for Bale have not responded to our request for confirmation that he'll be taking on the role of Moses, yet Carol, but "Prometheus" director Ridley Scott has confirmed that he will direct the project.

COSTELLO: I can't imagine Christian Bale as Moses. He has a temper, but maybe Moses did too. I don't know. I don't think so, though, A.J. Hammer, thank you. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Today as we mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion into Iraq, we learn that violence is once again on the rise. Today at least 48 people died and many more we're wounded; a string of bombings and shootings rippled through the mostly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad. There were simultaneous attacks, 17 car bombs, seven roadside bombs and two shootings. It's a lot different, that Iraq, 10 years ago.

Scenes like that were familiar ten years ago. U.S. warplanes bombing Iraqi targets. Martin Savidge was in Iraq a decade ago -- a lot has changed.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When you are embedded, you get close to war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting hot, let's go.

SAVIDGE: You also get close to the war fighters. I was with the First Battalion 7th Marines. And 10 years later I'm out to find the men of Cat Team Red. The last time I saw Tony Riddle, he was leading a team of Marines and too young to buy a beer. Now he's 31 and out of the corps. His home is decorated with war mementos, including commendations for valor.

(on camera): I think I remember this event. It stands out, because I could have gotten killed in that ambush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, go, guards.

SAVIDGE: We have better memories. His daughter Kala was born while we were in Iraq. Now she's nearly 10. But Tony's marriage a casualty of war and relationships since haven't fared much better.

TONY RIDDLE, MARINE: The same Tony that went over there didn't return at all.

SAVIDGE: He struggles with PTSD and is still bothered by memories, like the two Iraqi girls killed by an artillery strike Tony called in to protect his Marines.

That stuff still haunts you?

RIDDLE: Bad. I have nightmares of that particular one a lot; and in -- in the dreams they are asking why?

SAVIDGE: Frustrated with the Veterans Administration, Tony went to college and will soon have a degree in psychology which he plans to use to help vets.

RIDDLE: I've been there, I've seen it, I know exactly what you're dealing with.

SAVIDE: Next stop was Aspen, Colorado where on a ski lift I caught up with Casey Owens.

CASEY OWENS, MARINE: I can't be more happier than to look out here and just be like, gosh, you know, God gave me a gift.

SAVIDGE: Casey moved here right after he started skiing, which was right after an Iraqi land mine claimed both legs on his second deployment.

Can you ski down --

OWENS: Oh yes.

SAVIDGE: Really.

OWENS: This is one of my favorite -- this is one of my favorite runs just coming underneath the Gondola.

SAVIDGE: He also runs and competes in a number of sports. He's an inspiration to a lot of folks and will tell you without hesitation life is good.

OWENS: I have my bad days and good days, but when I'm having my good days, it's I definitely know I'm lucky to be alive and to experience this, you know? I got to, at age 22, lead men into combat and for a Marine, that's the greatest honor.

SAVIDGE: For the real bad days, Harold, his special needs dog, calms his panic attacks and wakes him from nightmares. They are inseparable.

My last stop was a beer garden in Bakersfield, California, where I to Evan Morgan play a song he wrote about the war.

EVAN MORGAN, MARINE: Yes, today I was in a combat zone --

SAVIDGE: Casey had been the first casualty for Cat Team Red. Six months later, it was Evan's turn, an IED blast.

MORGAN: I remember being pulled out of the vehicle and being laid on the ground.

SAVIDGE: Both men suffered similar injuries, but Evan was also left half blind. He dreaded the conversation with his then-fiancee from his hospital bed.

MORGAN: I said, you know, if you want to -- not leave, but you know, if you want to kind of move on, then you can. I would understand.

SAVIDGE: Jillian told him it wasn't his legs she'd fallen in love with. They married in the hospital chapel and today have two kids. Life's not perfect, but Evan knows it's not bad either.

MORGAN: I'm always thinking that there's someone out there in the world that has it worse than me and there's someone out there who's doing better than me, and I try to keep that in mind day to day, and try to live my life accordingly?

SAVIDGE: And you're ok with that?

MORGAN: Yes. Yes, I'm ok with it. I'm happy.

SAVIDGE: A decade after we all went to war, it would be wrong to say that Tony, Casey and Evan are at peace, but deep inside themselves, they have managed to at least call a truce.


COSTELLO: Martin Savage joins us now. And oh, such a touching piece. It does, it brings tears to your eyes.

SAVIDGE: It does to me too, to watch it.

COSTELLO: Do they think it was worth it?

SAVIDGE: You know, it's a difficult conversation. And I had that with -- with all three. They all, first off, say they're proud to be Marines, and very proud they served their country in Iraq.

Tony does not believe that the war was worth it, not the loss of American lives nearly 5,000; not the loss of Iraqi lives, tens of thousands; and given the way that country is now.

Casey is exactly the opposite. He says, yes, it was worth it, and he is convinced that he helped take down a very bad regime.

And then Evan, he's on the fence. And he says that protectively, he doesn't like to think about it a lot, because then he does begin to think it could have been a waste. And of course, for him, that means the sacrifice of the loss of his friends, the sacrifice he made. He just doesn't want to go there. He doesn't want to think about it.

COSTELLO: Yes, well, at least they seem to be living, you know, productive --


SAVIDGE: A very good life, yes.

COSTELLO: -- good lives.

SAVIDGE: And you know what, it was wonderful to see them. It really, really was.

COSTELLO: Thanks for a great story. Thank you so much, Martin Savidge.

COSTELLO: For our "Talk Back" question today, actually, "What did we learn from the Iraq war?" or tweet me @carolCNN. Your responses, next.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question today, "What did we learn from the Iraq war?"

This from Gale, "It has proved the theory that wars are not about human rights, safety, or anything but greed."

This from Bill, "As long as we have a militarized economy, they'll find a war to start or start one of their own, and we'll never get those lives or that money back."

This from Penelope, "We learned that our resources were better spent in Afghanistan."

And from Michael, "Hoping we learn to keep our noses out of other country's business, unless they threaten to attack or do attack the United States."

Please, keep the conversation going. We have great responses to this question and it's so important, so or tweet me @carolCNN.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break.


COSTELLO: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, sex, lies, and videotape. Breaking overnight: new details about Senator Robert Menendez and claims he paid for hookers in the Caribbean.


SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW YORK: So the bottom line is all of those smears are absolutely false.


COSTELLO: Plus, codeine and cough syrup, a dangerous combination.

COSTELLO: A combo hot in the hip hop community, and it may have sent rapper Little Wayne to the hospital. Are your kids using it too?

And how about a marijuana dinner cruise?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But without doubt, I think it plays a role and has a part in the future of tourism.


COSTELLO: Is pot tourism the way for cash-strapped states to make money? You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we begin this hour with breaking news. Seven Marines were killed in an explosion during a Marine training exercise. It happened late last night in western Nevada. Let's head straight to the Pentagon and our correspondent there, Barbara Starr.