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Cantor Beaten in Primary; Oregon School Shooting; Crisis in Iraq; Bergdahl Trade Deal

Aired June 11, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, June 11th. 8:00 in the east. Brooke Baldwin here this morning, in for Kate. Thank you for being with us.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you. You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Making it a good morning.

So, I guess you could say David over Goliath in a Virginia primary times 1,000. The man on your left, David Brat, economics professor, a little-known tea partier, brought down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. One of the most powerful Republicans there is. Brat hammered Cantor in the polls and specifically on the issue of immigration reform. A stance that had many conservatives thinking Cantor was not conservative enough. This is now huge. We're covering all the fallout beginning with CNN chief correspondent Dana Bash live in Washington.

What will it mean, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let's just look at what happened. Not only was it an upset, Chris, it was a landslide. David Brat got 56 percent of the vote. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, just 44 percent. So this is a town here in Washington that's still numb from shock. No one saw this coming.


DAVID BRAT (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The reason we won this campaign is -- there's just one reason. And that's because dollars do not vote. You do.

BASH (voice-over): An upset shaking Washington and rattling incumbent Republicans to their core. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor losing his primary to a little-known conservative challenger, economics professor David Brat.

ERIC CANTOR (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It's disappointing, sure. But I believe in this country. I believe there's opportunity around the next corner for all of us.

BASH: The number two Republican in the House was widely considered and preparing to be the next speaker of the House, following John Boehner.

BRAT: Hi, I'm David Brat, and I'm running for the United States Congress.

BASH: Even Brat himself told CNN he didn't think he could pull off a win with a war chest of only $300,000 compared to Cantor's $5 million. But Cantor learned firsthand that money doesn't buy enthusiasm and the grassroots in his Virginia district were determined to take the establishment Republican down.

BRAT: Eric Cantor is trying to buy this election with corporate cash from Los Angeles to New York. He's acting as a conservative in public, while working behind the scenes to deliver open boarders for large corporations.

BASH: Brat's main case against Cantor was support for legal status for illegal immigrant children, the so-called dreamers, and his public pledge to help the president in doing so.

CANTOR: It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who are brought to this country as children and who know no other home.

BASH: Cantor is considered one of the most conservative members of the House GOP leadership, but he had been thinking like a party leader, trying to broaden the GOP's appeal. After the government shutdown that divided House Republicans, CNN learned he admonished his rank and file to unite.

BASH (on camera): You addressed your caucus and basically said, come on, guys, we have to stop eating our own.

CANTOR: Well, I think the message that I was about was saying, look, the differences that may exist between us pale in comparison to the differences that we have with the president and his policies.


BASH: And that clearly was not a message that resonated at all in his district. Now, Cantor can technically still try to run for a seat as a write-in candidate, but I'm told that's highly unlikely that he's going to take that road. Now an open question is whether he's going to step down immediately as a majority leader or stay in leadership through the end of the year. I'm also told that fellow leaders are certainly hoping he stays to avoid a big internal battle for his job, just as Republicans are trying to unite ahead of November's election.


CUOMO: Dana, you've got so much good reporting, I'll have to ask you to stick around so we can talk about this some more. Let's bring in Gloria Borger, CNN's chief political analyst, as well.

It's good to have you both.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. CUOMO: We're focusing very heavily right now on what this means for Cantor and the party. But let's look a little bit more specifically at Boehner and the president. Democrats are smiling. I don't know why. What does this mean for Boehner? He'd been trying to figure out how to deal with the Tea Party, Gloria. He had been using Cantor for that. Now what?

BORGER: Yes, Cantor was his go-to guy for the Tea Party. Ironically, you know, let's not forget, Cantor was one of the most conservative members of the House leadership. I think what this means for Boehner probably is that he's going to stick around a little bit longer. There was talk about him leaving, but there is no natural successor at this particular point. So maybe Boehner hangs around.

Over in the White House, I don't think they're celebrating as much as they would have you think because what this also means is that immigration reform is probably going nowhere fast. And by the way, there's a poll out this morning that shows ironically that most of the people in Boehner's entire district support some form of immigration reform. But the people who came out to the polls and voted against him, the base of the party, did not. And that was a real problem for him.

But let me take one step back further and talk about the future of the Republican Party here. And I think they're kind of at the proverbial fork in the road. They can either be a congressional party and win these congressional seats by going further to the right, or they can become a presidential party in which you have to move to the middle. And if you look at Lindsey Graham last night, who is very conservative, South Carolina, won a hotly contested primary with over 50 percent of the vote and he supports immigration reform. What did he do? He actually showed up in his district and he ran and he talked about how the party needs to think of its future nationally and broaden itself.

BALDWIN: Well, let me ask - let me jump in and just ask, in terms of national repercussions and also since you mentioned the "p" word, presidential, let's go there and talk 2016.

Dana, to you. Not only on the state of the Republican Party, and I hear Gloria saying, listen, the Obama White House should not entirely be celebrating right now. But let's look ahead, a, how this could impact perhaps a Hillary Clinton bid specifically on immigration reform, and, b, just Republicans overall. Dana.

BASH: Well, when you're thinking about Republicans overall in 2016, that's a very important sector of the Republican Party to look at. The reason is because just like in primaries in the congressional district, Republican presidential candidates need those same hard-core Republican primary voters to get out for them. So, you know, it is entirely possible that - I mean already you're not seeing very many potential Republican presidential candidates embrace some controversial things among the Republican base, like immigration reform.

Jeb Bush, who's, you know, unclear if he's even going to run, is probably the only one who has gone that far. But it is, if it's even possible, going to potentially make all of that -- those Republicans move even further to the right. The only thing that I will say to potentially counter that is that, in Republican presidential years, many more kinds of Republicans get out and vote. It's not just the hard core base, which is pretty clear that's what happened. And again, just going back to whose fault it is, it's -- Eric Cantor did not get his more traditional -

BORGER: Right.

BASH: Republicans out to vote for him that he had in the past. And he was complacent. He was hear in Washington all day yesterday on primary day.

BALDWIN: Right, he was on the House floor.

BORGER: Can I - and can I just say that --

BALDWIN: Right. Go ahead, Gloria. Jump in.

BORGER: That he is an openly ambitious fellow. Nothing wrong with that. But he - but lots of people saw him as the heir apparent to John Boehner. And I was talking to one Republican last night who said to me, Gloria, look, measuring the drapes is never a good political strategy. So the people back home sort of figured he was looking beyond them already and that's one of the perils of being a leader.

CUOMO: Hold on a second here. Brooke clued me in to something earlier that I think is worth some speculation, trying to figure out the how this happened part. I like that money didn't win the election. I can't believe that that is the rule going forward, though, unfortunately.

BASH: No, it's not.


CUOMO: So we know there was 12 percent turnout.

BALDWIN: Turnout.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: That's very low. We also know - or at least I know now because Brooke reminded me, that it's an open primary, which means anybody could vote. Is there any suggestion that Democrats motivated to come out and even though they'd be voting for a tea partier, tried to do a little bit of an assassination here politically on the majority leader?

BORGER: I don't think we know the answer to that yet.

BASH: We don't know. Yes.

BORGER: And I would doubt - I would - I would kind of doubt it. I mean I think the people - I could tell you who did not come out. And the people who did not come out are the sort of establishment Republicans who might have supported Eric Cantor but never felt the need to come out but they figured it was a done deal, right?

BASH: Yes. And the -- I was just in Mississippi, where you obviously have another Republican primary.

BORGER: Right.

BASH: And there you had the flipside. It's an open primary there as well but you had Democrats coming out and supporting the incumbent because they thought that he was going to be better for them and their lives. So they were voting more for themselves and less strategically for their party.

But I just want to make one other point maybe in Eric Cantor's defense.


BASH: Yes, he made - he made the big mistake that politicians just keep making and we're not really sure why but they don't tend to their constituents, they don't tend to their districts or states. But he was also thinking big picture. He was thinking like a party leader. Yes, he was conservative, but he tried very hard to broaden the party, to broaden the appeal -

BORGER: Right.

BASH: To try to get to women, to try to, you know, get to the Latino voters, which is why he supported that version of the so-called Dream Act. And, you know, that bit him. So I think that that really does speak to still the divide within the Republican Party. And going back to Gloria's point, the question of whether or not they're going to just stay the majority in the House, potentially the Senate, and forget the White House because they don't have a national appeal.


BORGER: You can't win a White House this way. You just, you know, you can't do it.


BORGER: You've got to find a place somewhere in the middle where those independent voters are. And so if you're just going to go to your bases on either side, it doesn't work.

BALDWIN: No drape measuring. That's the other takeaway.

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger and Dana Bash, thank you both so much for joining us this morning on NEW DAY from Washington.

Let's talk about this, though. Another round in a vicious cycle of shooting. And a high school in Oregon leaves a freshman dead and prompts renewed calls for gun control. Reynolds High School, near Portland, was the scene of carnage where a 14-year-old was shot and killed in a locker room and a teacher was injured but is expected to survive. The latest violence, speaking of Washington, has President Obama riled up.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There's no advanced developed country on earth that would put up with this.


BALDWIN: Let's take you there this morning to Troutdale, Oregon. Sara Sidner is joining us.

Sara, good morning.


You know, Brooke, the students here were looking forward to a summer break. It was just a couple of days before school was out and there was a big commencement ceremony and then they have to deal with both fear and ultimately tragedy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Reynolds High School. There are shots fired in the locker room. At least one person down.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tragedy struck this Oregon school just days before the start of summer vacation. Shots ringing out at Reynolds High School just before first period classes began.

CARA IKEBE (ph), STUDENT: We heard Mr. Dixon come over the intercom and say, you know, this is not a drill. We need to go into lockdown right now.

SIDNER: Nearly 3,000 students attend this school. Those who were here hunkered down in their classrooms with the doors locked and the lights shut off. Outside, police say a lone gunman, armed with a rifle, entered the school's gymnasium building and shot and killed freshman Emilio Hoffman. A teacher and coach, Todd Rispler, was grazed by a bullet, but he is expected to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was carrying a gun running after one of our teachers, our P.E. teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was this blood spot on his back by his - on his white shirt.

SIDNER: SWAT teams swarmed the campus, locating the shooter's body in a bathroom. Moments of the chaos inside captured on police radio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): We need the robot inside. We've got a suspect down on the toilet but we cannot see him. SIDNER: Sources tell CNN, the unidentified gunman likely died from a

self-inflicted wound. Parents anxiously waited for hours to be reunited with their children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sure he's OK, but, you know, until you hear that - until you hear the final word, you always have the thought.

SIDNER: Last night, students and parents came together to mourn the young life lost.

SAVANNAH ROWE, VICTIM'S FRIEND: If you got to know him, he was just sweet and always was there for you if you needed someone to talk to.

SIDNER: A community struggling to cope with the aftermath of another school shooting.


SIDNER: And that shooting happened just here in the gymnasium that you see over my right shoulder.

I do want to mention this. The sheriff's department saying yesterday that as they were going through students things, they found another handgun. It had nothing to do with the shooting. But, certainly, a chilling detail.

Brooke and Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I'll take it here. That is a very chilling detail, Sara. Thanks for the latest there. Our thoughts are certainly with the students and the families and that community.

We head overseas now. Crisis in Iraq. A big part of that nation right now under siege by Sunni militants. This morning they're heading south, threatening Baghdad as Iraqi forces move to secure the capital. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is tracking developments, and there are many of them, from Doha, Qatar.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the latest this morning, Michaela, we're hearing the Iraqi prime minister has called for a court-martial of all the commanders, Iraqi government forces commanders, who deserted their posts around Mosul. These are U.S.-trained Iraqi military commanders. They left behind things like U.S.-made (INAUDIBLE) Humvees. Vital military equipment. They fled their posts. That's what made the battle so short.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): After just five days of fighting, terrorists now control large swaths of Iraq's second largest city. Power, water and phone lines have been cut in parts of Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, where the al Qaeda splinter group ISIS has seized the important transportation and administration hub. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calling it "a humanitarian

crisis," and asking parliament to declare a state of emergency, calling on men to volunteer to fight. The speaker of Iraq's parliament urging the U.S. to "play a role in supporting Iraq against the terrorist attack" and asking for urgent relief for the displaced by the international community. The voice of a refugee in this video pleading, God help us, as half a million Iraqis have already fled the city.

JOHN KIRBY, U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT PRESS SECRETARY: We're certainly in touch with Iraqi leadership as much as possible. But, ultimately, this is - this is for the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government to deal with.

ROBERTSON: The fight proving too much for the U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers. Some reportedly discarding their uniforms, abandoning their military armed vehicles and weapons, leaving it all to a terrorist group considered more ruthless and brutal than al Qaeda. ISIS gaining more power and control in a city once held as a successful example of U.S. counter insurgency, only two and a half years after American boots left Iraqi soil.


ROBERTSON: And ISIS now on the verge of taking control of the town of Bagi (ph), 100 miles south of Mosul. That is a key, strategic gain for them. It stops the government resupplying the troops and trying to - with their own troops and trying to retake the town of Mosul. What is required is political compromise by the prime minister, Nuri al- Maliki. Something he has shown in this very heated, sectarian situation in Iraq. Something he has proven incapable of over the past number of months, even years.

Back to you, Brooke and Chris.

BALDWIN: Yes, and that's the biggest fear. Nic Robertson, thank you.

I was just talking to Bobby Goesh (ph), "Time" magazine's world editor. He said, listen, if this is what's happening in Iraq after U.S. troops pulled out a couple of years ago, what could happen in Afghanistan? That's the fear.

CUOMO: More of the same.


CUOMO: I mean, you know, and it's got to be part of the new reality that Americans are ready for.

BALDWIN: Right. Right.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, all kinds of bickering over the Bowe Bergdahl swap. Was it a good idea? Was it a horrible idea? How do you balance it all? We will talk to someone who actually worked, helped negotiate this deal a couple of years ago to bring Bowe Bergdahl home before the Taliban walked away. CUOMO: And, is it the beginning of the end for teacher tenure?

Everybody wants to figure out performance. Well, this California judge tosses out the idea of tenure, says it's unconstitutional. So what does it mean for your kids? We're going to debate it right here on NEW DAY. Stay with us, please.


BALDWIN: And welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel heads to Capitol Hill. He is set to defend the transfer that freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for those five Taliban detainees. And, listen, you've heard from a lot of members in Congress. They are skeptical -- and maybe that's putting it nicely for some of these folks -- saying that the deal could truly put America at risk. So let's talk to someone now with some pretty unique insight. He is Marc Grossman, a former U.S. special representative to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he originally negotiated a preliminary version of this deal back in 2011.

Mr. Ambassador, good morning.

MARC GROSSMAN, FMR. U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: Thank you, Brooke. Thank you for having me this morning.

BALDWIN: Let's talk specifics in your involvement in that possible deal in 2011. What did that involve?

GROSSMAN: We have to go back, I think. Context here is important. In February of 2011, when I took on the responsibility after Dick Holbrook died, after being the special representative of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Secretary Clinton asked us to test the proposition that the Taliban might be ready to have some kind of conversation with the government of Afghanistan about the future of Afghanistan. And we were put into contact with a Taliban representative by a member of a third country. And we negotiated with them for some months, until March of 2012, when they walked away.

And our arrangement was to try to bring kind of a larger context to all of this, to have the Taliban disassociate themselves from international terrorism, to open an office in Qatar where Afghans could talk to other Afghans about the future of Afghanistan, and very importantly, to try to get Sergeant Bergdahl back. He was always very much on our minds. And I'm sorry this didn't work out. I thought the Taliban missed a big chance in the spring of 2012 by walking away.

BALDWIN: So, as you point out, the context is important, but the major similarity here, we're talking about those five same Guantanamo detainees, those five members of the Taliban. But it would have been different. Instead of us just taking the five and sending them to Doha, it would have been almost a trial basis where three would have gone, correct, been monitored for 60 days. And if they behaved, the other two would have been released, correct?

GROSSMAN: Well, if we'd been able to make an arrangement, that's true. This administration, I think, was faced with a different time, a different law, different requirements. I think as (ph) all you can see from the press, they've got this video early in January, which was very disturbing to them. And the other thing was, that by the time the Taliban had walked away from our arrangement in the middle of 2012, U.S. force numbers were also going down in Afghanistan.

And one of the things that I learned in all the years that I had the privilege of being the U.S. diplomat, diplomacy's got to be backed by force. And so as those numbers went down, I think the administration was faced with a different challenge. They wanted to save Bergdahl. They wanted to get him home. And so they made this arrangement.

BALDWIN: You know, Mr. Ambassador, a lot has been made from these different members of Congress who have been very vocal, very frustrated that they were not in the loop, if I may, as per the law, 30 days, not given the heads up as to what would be happening. You briefed some members of Congress back in 2011 I believe is when you did some of those briefings. How did they react to the possibility of the swap back then? I see the smile.

GROSSMAN: Well, you're - yes, you're - I mean you're right, we briefed the Congress very extensively at the end of 2011 and the end of 2012. And many, I'd say the majority of the people, they were opposed and they made it -

BALDWIN: They were?

GROSSMAN: Absolutely, they made it clear to us that they didn't think that this was the right thing to do. We debated and we debated. Our view was, and the president's view and the secretary of state and the instructions that I received was that if I could make this arrangement, that it was worth it. But no question that there was a lot of opposition at the time. And so anybody who knew they were going ahead with this, as I'm sure my successors did, knew this was going to be very controversial, and that's how it's turned out to be. On the other hand, Sergeant Bergdahl's home and I think that's an important point.

BALDWIN: Absolutely he's home and we wish him well as he's still in Landstuhl, Germany, recovering.


BALDWIN: But the other piece of this puzzle, as, you know, the controversy is, here you have these five members of the Taliban, some very high end members of the Taliban, released in Doha. And after a year, they are free to do what they want. And, you know, we even heard from the president speaking from Warsaw, Poland, recently, acknowledging the fact that some of these men may go back and fight with the bad guys. Talked to Adam Schiff, Congressman Adam Schiff, this morning and he said, you know, obviously they did the best they could. He too has those worries after the one year when those conditions are up. How fearful are you that they could go back with the Taliban?

GROSSMAN: Well, I think it's very important, as Congressman Schiff said, and also Secretary Kerry said, that we keep the pressure on the Qataris to maintain this arrangement. But I think as Congressman Schiff said, and others have noted, the Qataris want to play on the world stage and so this is a very important test to them.

And, Brooke, if you'd allow me to make one other point, which is, let's look out a year. Now, I don't know what's -

BALDWIN: Let's - exactly.

GROSSMAN: I don't know what's going to happen. I'm skeptical too. But what if, a year from now, the Taliban, when they all get together, wherever they get together, what do they see? They see a successful election in Afghanistan and a new president. They see a signed bilateral security agreement with the United States. They see 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, at least through 2015. They see the Afghan national security forces prepared to fight. And I think Afghans will fight for what they've achieved since 2003. And so, a year from now, they may look out, look at the circumstances and say, we can't win this militarily. Let's try a peace process again. I can't guarantee that that would happen, but we ought to hope in our minds to that as well.

BALDWIN: Yes, let's hope for that, Marc Grossman. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for your perspective. A pretty unique perspective having dealt with this a couple of years ago. Thank you so much for joining me from Washington.

GROSSMAN: Thank you for having me. Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Chris, to you.

CUOMO: All right, Brooke, let's take a quick break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, Angelina Jolie's new mission. You know her as an actress. Well now she's talking to Christiane Amanpour about helping victims of sexual assault.