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Medical Plane Crashes; Obama Honoring Clinton; Interview with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas; Lawmaker Busted For Cocaine

Aired November 20, 2013 - 08:00   ET



PILOT: We have an engine failure.

Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: an emergency medical plane crashes off the coast of Florida. The frantic search for those on board as we hear the pilots' mayday calls. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A prominent politician stabbed by his own son in the hospital this morning as we learn more about the son's battle with mental illness.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Hero of the year. CNN's annual celebration of those who make our world a better place, we have the winner live this morning, America's a much more beautiful place thanks to him.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

It's Wednesday, November 20th, 8:00 in the East.

And we are following breaking news this morning: a frantic search and rescue mission underway off the coast of Florida. Two of the people aboard a medical flight that crashed into the ocean overnight are missing. Two bodies have been recovered from the Atlantic.

CNN's John Zarrella is following developments live in Ft. Lauderdale.

What do we know now, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the Coast Guard is telling us they're still searching. The search area is now 20 square miles, onboard that learjet were two pilots, a doctor and a nurse. It was about 8:15 last night. They had just brought a patient in, dropped that patient off from Mexico and were leaving Ft. Lauderdale International Airport when the pilot aid he had a problem.


AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL: You going back to Ft. Lauderdale.

PILOT: We have an engine failure.

AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL: Maintain 4,000 and turn left heading 330.

PILOT: It's not possible. We're going to do a 180. Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.


ZARRELLA: The Coast Guard says it will continue to search throughout this afternoon and reevaluate the system during a briefing this morning. They also told us that they have recovered about 1,000 pounds of the plane's debris, those planes average about 10,000 pounds, and that no piece was larger than six foot by six foot -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That tells you something, and the search continues this morning.

John, thank you so much.

Now, let's turn to the White House where President Obama will be honoring his predecessor, Bill Clinton, with the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. The two will pay tribute to JFK, 50 years after his assassination. This face-to-face likely to draw a lot of attention on the relationship between the two men, the fact that the relationship has been particularly complicated lately.

CNN's Jim Acosta is live at the White House for us this morning.

Hey, Jim.


The president will be honoring some American legends today and as you mentioned spending a lot of time with former President Bill Clinton one week after the former president appeared to criticize Mr. Obama on the health care rollout, and all of this comes as the president just can't seem to escape headache after headache over Obamacare.


ACOSTA (voice-over): All eyes will be on the body language between President Obama and Bill Clinton as both men will be sharing two big stages today. At the White House, Mr. Obama will award Clinton the Presidential Medal of Freedom before they make their way to Arlington National Cemetery to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: So I personally believe --

ACOSTA: All of that face time, just one week after Clinton called on the president to keep his health care promise.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

CLINTON: Even if it takes changing the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.

ACOSTA: The president remains in Obama damage control mode, conceding at a "Wall Street Journal" event packed with top CEOs that his signature achievement could use a makeover.

OBAMA: We're going to have to obviously remarket and rebrand. And that will be challenging in this political environment.

ACOSTA: But as CNN reported, his latest PR challenge actually started right at the White House --

OBAMA: I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford in Washington state.

ACOSTA: -- when he cited Jessica Sanford, a single mom from Washington state an Obamacare success story.

Just days after that presidential shout-out, Sanford learned her state's health exchange made a mistake calculating her Obamacare tax credit.

JESSICA SANFORD, UNINSURED: I don't trust the system at all here in Washington state.

ACOSTA: Now she says she can't afford the plans available in her state.

SANFORD: I wanted to be the poster child of how it did work out. That makes me really sad that it has to be the negative instead of the positive.

ACOSTA: Contacted by CNN, the CEO of Washington state's health exchange released a statement saying, the program "would like to sincerely apologize to Jessica Sanford and all those affected in Washington state by this error."

But the state and the White House say there's nothing they can do.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're certainly as sorry as we can be that Jessica is one of the folks affected by this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I want to you pretend I'm not.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: But there is one bit of good news for Jessica Sanford's story. She told us yesterday evening her son is now eligible for Medicaid. So while she will be uninsured, her son will be getting some health insurance. So that is good news for her.

But her story, guys, attracted a lot of attention. She says she received phone calls from officials at the White House and at the governor's office in Washington state. They were offering to do any help that they could for her situation, but they did not offer any concrete solutions -- guys.

CUOMO: All right. JIM, thank you for the reporting. Appreciate it.

I want to bring in Senator Ted Cruz.

Now, though, just a freshman senator, the Texan has become a central figure in the efforts to end Obamacare. You may remember his 21-hour anti-Obamacare speech. He has built up a slew of critic, many in his own party, and devoted supporters as well. The senator says he's just doing his job.

The Republican senator joins us now exclusively from Washington, D.C.

Senator, thank you for joining us on "NEW DAY" this morning.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Good morning. It's good to join you.

CUOMO: Of course, we're going to talk Obamacare. Of course, we're going to talk about what your brothers and sisters in D.C. will do to forward the budget and debt work that we need done here in America.

But, first, let's go abroad. The situation in Iran, specifically the fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini, very important to you. Quickly, tell us why and what are you asking for?

CRUZ: Well, Pastor Saeed Abedini is an American. He was born in Iran but he and his wife and two small children live in Idaho. And a little over a year ago, he was back in Iran, building an orphanage. And he was sentenced to the Evin Prison, which is a horrible, horrible prison.

Two weeks ago, Iran transferred him to an even worse prison, a prison called Rajai Shahr. It's their death row prison. It's where they put the very worst people. They did it on the 34th anniversary of the date that Iran took Americans hostage. It's what they called "Death to America Day".

And Pastor Abedini right now is suffering torture and imprisonment simply for preaching his faith. It's wrong, and a bipartisan group of senators have called on President Obama to continue pressuring Iran to release Pastor Abedini. President Obama raised it once with Iran's president, but we believe the president needs to keep raising it. It's unacceptable for an American to be thrown in prison just for preaching his Christian faith.

CUOMO: And the issue then becomes, where do you make it as a priority? Of course, it's terrible. Robert Levinson we know -- we believe is held by them. We believe there's former military held by them. These are terrible, they have to change.

But don't you also have to think about where you use it in leverage of such a delicate discussion?

CRUZ: Well, I think it is highly relevant to the spin we're hearing, that this new president in Iran is a, quote, "so-called moderate" because he uses Twitter and is trying to communicate with the media. When you transfer an American pastor to a hellhole of a prison on the anniversary of their "Death to America Day", that is meant to be a thumb in the eye.

Just the same, Iran's supreme leader this week said that Israel should cease to exist, that its leaders are subhuman. These are not moderate positions. These are extreme positions.

And I think it's a mistake for our State Department to negotiate with them without understanding that they remain radical. They remain convinced that Israel is the "Little Satan", the United States is the "Great Satan", and their attempt to acquire nuclear weapons capability is extraordinarily dangerous. And we've got to do everything we can to prevent it.

CUOMO: Senator, another diplomacy issue abroad that you've weighed in on -- the Afghan government, an allegation that President Obama had agreed to write a letter of apology as part of moving forward there, that has then been denied by Susan Rice, the national security adviser. She says that's not going to happen.

Your thoughts?

CRUZ: Well, I think we need -- our foreign policy needs to consistently defend U.S. interests, and I think it is a mistake for the administration to be too quick to apologize, and to the extent they are not doing so here, that's the right thing. But I think the pattern of giving repeated apologies has not been a good one for America.

CUOMO: Where do you see a pattern of apologies?

CRUZ: Well, we saw it beginning at the very outset of the administration, when the president went on a tour across the world, apologizing to different nations for American foreign policy interests. And I think that was insufficiently recognizing the incredible blood and treasure and sacrifice that America has given for the freedom of countries throughout this world.

CUOMO: All right. So, now, let's come back home, shall we?

CRUZ: Yes.

CUOMO: Obamacare, the rollout is a fiasco. You say you believe you feel vindicated because to you this proves that you were right about the law, correct? CRUZ: Well, the people who I think are vindicated are the millions of Americans all across this country who spoke up and who said this law isn't working. It is a disaster, and we've seen in recent weeks that what all those millions of Americans were predicting, all of that and more is coming to pass. Already over 5 million Americans have lost their insurance because of Obamacare.

And, you know, three and a half years ago, reasonable minds perhaps could have differed on whether Obamacare would work. Today, that's not possible. In my view, coming together to stop Obamacare is the essence of pragmatism because it is self-evident this isn't working. Nobody's defending it.

And the reasonable common sense thing to do is simply to start over and to say this is killing jobs, and over 5 million people are losing their health insurance, premiums skyrocketing across the country. This isn't working, let's start over.

CUOMO: How can we say it's not working when it isn't implemented yet? How can you say premiums are skyrocketing when they haven't put the plans into effect yet? You're being a little dangerous with how much political spin you put on something that's so central to the well being of so many families?

CRUZ: Well, I appreciate the adjective you tossed my way.

You know, John Adams famously said facts are stubborn things. Here are some facts: about 100,000 people have signed up and gotten new insurance under Obamacare. About 5 million people have lost their insurance because of Obamacare. Those are facts, and those are real people that can't be spun away.

You know, when I go back to Texas, I travel the state and I see people all the time who come up to me, men and women across Texas, and they grab me by the shoulder and they're afraid. They say, "Ted, you know, I just lost my health insurance. I got a child with diabetes. I'm scared. Please stop this from happening."

Those are real facts.

CUOMO: What do you say to them, Senator? When they say, "Please help me", what is the fix that you offer them? I looked at the list of bills that you've sponsored. There's not one that offers a solution to the current problems with health care except to get rid of the existing law. Is that enough?

CRUZ: Well, that's the only solution that will work. All of these Band-Aid fixes that the president is pushing, the congressional Democrats are pushing won't fix the problem. Every one of those bills, they have great titles, like "if you like your plan you can really, really, really keep them", but if they were passed into law, it wouldn't fix the problem for the 5 million people who have lost their health insurance, they wouldn't get it back.

The way to get -- CUOMO: You don't think you have a responsibility as a U.S. senator to do better than that in terms of offering a solution for what to do next?

CRUZ: Well, I -- I appreciate your trying to lecture me in the morning. Thank you for that.

CUOMO: No, not all, Senator. I'm worried, the same as you. Anybody who looks at the situation has worries. Families need health insurance.

CRUZ: So, if you're worried, did you speak out for the 5 million people who lost your insurance?

CUOMO: Absolutely. We've been covering it doggedly. We've been covering it doggedly and you know that I'm sure you watch the show. The problem is I don't have the power to fix it; you do. That's what a U.S. senator does, is you sponsor law. You know this. It's not a lecture, it's a concern.

I'm asking, what are you going to do about it?

CRUZ: Well, and I share that concern and have every day been working to highlight the millions of people who have lost their job because of Obamacare, the millions of people who have been forced into part-time work, there are single moms, there are young people, Hispanics, African-Americans, people struggling who are now on part-time work. You can't feed your kids with 29 hours a week. There's over 5 million people who have lost their health insurance.

And the way to fix that is to stop this broken law. It was broken at the outset, and all of the bills that have been proposed by the Democrats, they're designed to be political Band-Aids. Their effort is to cover their political rear ends, not to fix the problem. And the common sense reasonable thing to say is this thing isn't working.

Now, in addition to that, you want a positive, affirmative solution? You know, the single best thing we can do is expand competition. Let people purchase health insurance across state lines. If you want to expand access, what you want to do is increase choices and drive down cost.

What Obamacare does is decreases choices and drives up cost. It doesn't make sense, and it isn't working.

CUOMO: And how does that --

CRUZ: I'd like to see something that empowers consumers, not Washington bureaucrats.

CUOMO: And I think those are strong ideas that need to be developed as plans. We haven't really heard them in a great way. That's what people are waiting for, what are the better ideas, but you do also have to think, how do you deal with the problems of the system as it existed before, pre-existing conditions, caps on service, slow walking of claims, that the insurers had too much power. That was a big part of what this law was about, not to mention the 20 plus million uninsured people. You can't forget about all that, senator, can you?

CRUZ: I am not remotely forgetting about that, but the tradeoff in this plan was in order to cover roughly 15 million to 20 million people who don't have insurance, which is about a third of the population that doesn't have insurance. What Obamacare does is it jeopardizes the health care of 200 million Americans who do have health insurance and it's a tradeoff that Obamacare made that -- you know, the five million who've lost their health insurance is just the first shoe to drop.

The next shoe to drop is going to come and it's coming now that more and more people are going to discover they can't keep their doctors. Texas oncology, one of the largest oncology providers in Texas just announced it's not going to participate in Obamacare. I have friends who are cancer survivors, who have discovered they can't keep going to their doctors.

The next shoe to drop is small businesses and small plans are going to begin canceling plans in large numbers, and after that, you're going to see premiums this spring go up dramatically because so few people are signing up and the final shoe to drop is there are roughly 140 million Americans in large plans by employer-provided health care and up to 100 million of them may lose their health care because of Obamacare. I think that's unacceptable.

CUOMO: And that's why we need solutions and what I want to ask you here before I let you go to get back to the work in Washington, Senator, is going forward, are you willing to work together with other members of Congress to find solutions instead of shutting down the government, to help find laws that fix debt, that deal with fiscal crises we have coming, that deal with health care. Will you do more than just fight and oppose?

CRUZ: Let's be very clear from day one. I've been willing to work with anyone, Republicans or Democrats. I don't think we should have shut down the government. The reason there was a government shutdown is President Obama and the Democrats refused to negotiate, refused to compromise, refused to do anything about the millions of people being hurt from Obamacare and let me give you an example of working together that is before the Senate just today.

I am a co-sponsor with New York's Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, of an amendment to change how sexual assault is prosecuted in the military. Sexual assault has been a terrible crisis in the military. Our military commanders have worked hard to fix it, and yet, it has persisted. Senator Gillibrand has proposed changing the way sexual assault cases are prosecuted so there's a decision to prosecute would be made by an impartial military prosecutor.

I'm a co-sponsor with her and we're working hard to build a bipartisan coalition so that we can make sure the men and women of our military are protected and safe and not victims of violence at home. Their job, their responsibility in what they step forward to do is to protect our nation.

CUOMO: That is great. And as you know, the members of that constituency wish it hadn't taken this long, but it's great to see the bipartisanship. Is this your green eggs and ham moment, perhaps, Senator where you've now tried it and it turns out that you like it? You like working with members from the other side and you can get to work on finding solutions instead of just opposing Obamacare and helping with debt relief?

CRUZ: See, you're starting with the premise that I've just opposed Obamacare. I am happy to work with everyone. My top priority in office is restoring economic growth bringing back jobs and the reason is simple.

That's the top priority of 26 million Texans and I'm happy to work with anyone to do that, throughout the Obamacare fight, throughout the shutdown, I was reaching out to Democrats saying let's work together to provide meaningful relief for the millions of people who are being hurt because of Obamacare, and what President Obama and the Democrats said is we will not negotiate, we will not compromise.

In fact, President Obama invited all of the Senate Republicans over to the White House in the middle of the shutdown. We all sat there. He called us in a room and said, 'I called you over here to tell you I'm not going to negotiate; I'm not going to compromise on anything.' That's not reasonable. That's not how you get anything done. I think it is clear and I wish they would stop being partisan in how they approach that.

CUOMO: That is clear, but certainly, that is the wish for both sides. We all know that the shutdown didn't work. It punished families unfairly. I know you know that. Hopefully, we don't see a repeat of it. I appreciate you coming on the show this morning, senator.

CRUZ: It's good to be with you.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", a terrible tragedy unfolding in Virginia that we're following very closely. A politician stabbed in the head and in the neck. His attacker, they believe, his son, who then killed himself. What happened and could it have been prevented? We'll be right back.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to "NEW DAY" on this Wednesday. We'll give you a look at your top stories now beginning with breaking news.


PEREIRA (voice-over): The state of Missouri has executed White supremacist serial killer, Joseph Paul Franklin. This execution comes after the U.S. Supreme Court this morning denied a stay of execution. Franklin targeted Blacks and Jews and is blamed for killing 22 people between 1977 and 1980 in an attempt to start a race war. Franklin also shot civil rights leader, Vernon Jordan and "Hustler" magazine publisher, Larry Flint, paralyzing him.

It is arraignment day for Florida congressman, Trey Radel. He says he is profoundly sorry after getting busted for cocaine possession. The freshman Republican could wind up behind bars for six months. In a written statement, the 37-year-old Radel blamed his struggle with alcoholism on his, quote, "extremely irresponsible choice."

George Zimmerman now out of jail, posting $9,000 bail in connection with a domestic dispute in which his girlfriend alleges he pointed a shotgun at her head. A judge barred him from having a gun or leaving the state. He was also ordered to stay away from Samantha Scheibe and to wear an electronic monitoring device. Scheibe claims Zimmerman recently tried to choke her.

Early estimates put the damage from Sunday's Midwestern tornadoes at a billion dollars. The most extensive damage was in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. The weather system included two of the most powerful November twisters that far north for more than a century. The powerful storms devastated towns in minutes. The death toll stands at eight.

All right. You're about to see golfing legend, Chichi Rodriguez taking one below the belt. Chichi was giving a few pointers to some NFL stars -- channel reality show, "The Big Break." Watch what happens, though, when he tries to hit -- yeah, right in the gurn as Chris, and that's a technical term, boomerangs back at him, hits him in the area that Cuomo calls.


PEREIRA: He shook it off. He's fine. Went on with the show.

CUOMO (voice-over): He needed to draw the sword. He used to draw his putter as a sword and pretended he needed to draw sooner there.

PEREIRA: No, didn't do it.


PEREIRA (on-camera): So, there you go. Those are your headlines. Let's talk weather --

CUOMO (on-camera): Got hit in the Chichis.



PEREIRA: Indra, what's going on out there? Please tell us we have some milder weather coming our way.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's mild up until the weekend which makes it a lot worse. I don't know. I don't like a weekend rain out, especially a lot colder. But that will be the story. So, enjoy the next three days. We're talking about temperatures maybe five to ten degrees below normal but actually warming up each day through Friday.

Now that from the northeast, even kind of extending down to the south. Now, what's going on in the Pacific Northwest, though, will eventually make its way east by the end of the weekend and we're all going to be feeling a pretty good change out there. So, what is going on out west? About a foot of snow into the sierras today.

Also notice, looks like Wyoming and Colorado, definitely large amounts of snow, all things are huge chunk of moisture, really extending all the way from Hawaii into California. But normally, when you think about pacific moisture, it's pretty warm out there. It's actually combining with some cold fronts and that's the reason we're talking about, not only cool air but some rain moving across the country.

Notice, here's one low is going to bring you some flooding concerns into the southwest. Here comes the cold air that will produce by today and even especially through tomorrow some heavy rain into the Midwest. This guy will come our way by the weekend and it's also going to bring with it temperatures a good 20 degrees below normal. So, a tough weekend, enjoy today.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Indra.


CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY", a mix of optimism and tough talk coming out of nuclear talks with Iran. Here's the question, is the U.S. rushing to a deal? What are we getting out of this? We're going to talk to a top adviser from the White House.