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Interview with Tulsi Gabbard; Gabbard: Air Strikes Will "Put Us in a More Dangerous Situation"; Casey Kasem's Son Speaks Out

Aired June 17, 2014 - 08:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, time for the five things you need to know for your new day.

At number one, more severe weather is possible today in tornado- ravaged Nebraska and other parts of the upper Midwest. Monday's deadly tornadoes leveled more than half of the town of Pilger, Nebraska. We should point out if you'd like to help the tornado victims, go to

President Obama is mulling options for combating ISIS in Iraq after meeting with national security officials. Hundreds of American troops are in the region for security as concerns grow that militants may have infiltrated Baghdad.

Team USA now turning its attention on Portugal after beating Ghana 2-1 in their opening match in the World Cup in Brazil. John Brooks' header in the 86th minute of the match secured that victory.

General Motors has recalled an additional 3.4 million vehicles for a second ignition switch problem linked to eight crashes and six injuries. More than 20 million GM vehicles have already been recalled this year.

Tonight Hillary Clinton will discuss her new memoir, "Hard Choices" at a CNN town hall hosted by our Christiane Amanpour. That's at 5:00 p.m. and again at 9:00 eastern right here on CNN.

We do update those five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest.

All right, Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Michaela.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, President Obama and his national security team are weighing options what to do about Iraq and how to deal with the militant uprising there. We're gonna be talking with one of two female combat veterans in the House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii coming to join us.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Plus you're not going to want to miss our exclusive interview with the son of broadcasting legend Casey Kasem. We have Mike Kasem joining us to talk about his dad coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Once again, as the crisis in Iraq continues to escalate, there are big questions about whether the United States should intervene; 275 U.S. troops have already been deployed to Iraq to help boost security for U.S. personnel there and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

But let's discuss the path forward with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran, currently a military police captain with the Army National Guard, and is one of two female combat veterans in the House, also serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congresswoman, it's great to see you.

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D-HI): Good morning.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming in.

You clearly, as we -- as we put here, have a very unique perspective. You were there. You were on the ground. You oppose U.S. air strikes in this situation. Why?

GABBARD: First of all, we have to understand what our objective is as the United States. As a member of Congress, as a soldier, as a veteran, my foremost concern and priority is how do we keep the American people safe.

When you look at the air strikes that are being proposed that the Shia-led government is asking for, this not only will do nothing to keep the American people safe, but I think it will actually put us in a more dangerous situation because it will force us to take sides in what is a very dangerous, religious civil war.

We've got to keep focused on those who are threatening the United States, whether it's al Qaeda or ISIS or other factions. We can use our resources in a very targeted way, in a very strategic and clear- headed way to address those threats directly. But getting involved in this religious civil war that's been going on for generations will not accomplish that.

CUOMO: Frustrating for you, as somebody who was deployed to the region, 2004, to see the politicians shirking the responsibility of figuring out what to do now and building consensus, by playing the blame game of how we got here, especially when they're not telling the truth.

GABBARD: It's very painful, honestly, because I was there in 2005. I worked in a medical unit, part of the 29th brigade combat team from Hawaii. We had over close to 3,000 troops who were there, many of whom were tasked with training the Iraqi police, training the Iraqi army and the military. And to see the footage of these Iraqi soldiers literally shedding

their uniforms, watching our humvees rolling down the street, it is hard to take because a lot of my friends didn't come home. And to think that there is a consideration even of us going back in, of us getting involved once again in something that we can't solve -- and I think that's something that we've got to understand.

Is we've got to understand what's happening on the ground and that the Iraqi people have to own their future. They've gotta make this decision about forming a unity government or doing what they need to do to stop these -- stop the war and stop the war and stop the killing. Only they can do that.

BOLDUAN: What you're hearing from some Iraqi officials on the ground is that the Iraqi people can't have that decision with ISIS going further and further, gaining ground, taking over more and more cities. Chairman Mike Rodgers, he was on our show earlier, and he had said that this isn't necessarily a Sunni versus Shia problem.

This is about al Qaeda. We've got to go in to stop al Qaeda because they -- ISIS a real threat to the American public. Why do you not think it's a threat to the American public?

GABBARD: Well, I -- Isis a threat. Al Qaeda is a threat. And those are threats that we can and should address in a very strategic and precise way. We've got the greatest military in the world.

BOLDUAN: How do you do it?

GABBARD: And we can do that.

BOLDUAN: How do you do it?

GABBARD: Well, we look at where they're operating, whether it be in Iraq, or whether it be in Syria or in other countries and use our unconventional special forces to do these precision attacks on those who are threatening us directly.

When you look at ISIS that is now working with the Sunni Iraqis to go against the Shia-led government that's aligned with Iran, this is not a clear and clean-cut case of saying, well, we can just go in and bomb the bad guys.

Ultimately, by getting involved in this, we will be taking sides in the Sunni versus Shia battles that are ongoing. And it will further cause us harm when we look at what's in the best interest of keeping the American people safe.

CUOMO: And you could make the same argument, well, if you want to go after people who are an al Qaeda extension, go after Boko Haram. You know, I mean, they're just as animicable (ph) to the United States as this group.

GABBARD: Which is exactly the point, that we can't afford to be the policeman of the world. We can't afford to go in and think that we can be a so-called stabilizing force in all the places that you have these Islamic insurgents and terrorists acting up, which is why we need to keep our resources very focused on keeping the American people safe and taking out these threats before they are a threat here to us at home.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your -- get your take, because you're opposed to air strikes, but it does not sound like you're saying hands off, turn our back on Iraq, turn our back on this crisis with ISIS and walk away. That's not what you're saying?

GABBARD: That's right. I'm saying that if we understand that our priority is to keep the American people safe, then we have to understand who actually is -- is creating that threat and where.

BOLDUAN: Which may need personnel on the ground, may need special forces on the ground?

GABBARD: If we look at -- if we look at ISIS, if we look at al Qaeda, whether it be in Iraq or Afghanistan, in north Africa, in Pakistan, in many of these other countries, there are ways for us to take very strategic, precise actions to eliminate those threats. That does not include dropping bombs on some of these urban populations and some of the things that are being proposed here that would not reach that objective.

BOLDUAN: Has the White House sought your advice on this? Because you offer a unique perspective. You've been there. You also know the politics at play here.

GABBARD: No. There are a lot of people who have been voicing their concerns I think on this issue. I feel a responsibility to share my own personal perspective, having served there, and bringing that -- that conversation to the table.

We've heard from the White House about things that they're considering, keeping us in the loop about the different angles that they're looking at. And I feel that I owe it to my brothers and sisters who lost their lives there and who didn't come home to be a voice for them.


CUOMO: Especially when a big part of the criticism of what we do in the exit of Afghanistan is that there's not enough thought being given to who will stay behind to fight this war, to do the fighting and shed the blood on the ground there. And you understand that cost, and you give voice to that Congressman Gabbard, so thank you very much for weighing in on NEW DAY.

GABBARD: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. It's great to see you.

GABBARD: Good to see you.

CUOMO: We'll keep you in the loop of what happens going forward once the discussion hopefully gets more productive. Thanks for being here. We're going to take a little break on NEW DAY. When we come back, we

all know the famous voice. There was only one Casey Kasem, but nobody loved this man more than his kids. Our next guest was his son. There he is. Mike Kasem is going to join us to tell us who Casey Kasem really was and what was going on with the family that we all saw play out in really tough fashion recently. Stay with us.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Radio legend Casey Kasem's final days were sadly overshadowed by this public family turmoil but his legacy could never be overshadowed by anything other than just the love that people had for him. Fans will remember him as America's voice.

Our next guest, however, remembers him in the most important way, as dad. Casey Kasem's son Mike joins us now in a NEW DAY exclusive. Mike, we are sorry for your loss but thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY.

MIKE KASEM, SON OF CASEY KASEM: Yes, well thank you for your condolences, I appreciate it. I want to say good morning to you, but I think it kind of feels like it's still night. I was watching the USA play soccer and screaming. I lost my voice and all of a sudden I'm here in the studio.

CUOMO: It's good. It's good to put some joy in your life right now. I know it's a tough time for the family.

KASEM: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: And I just have to say, you've got some strong genes in that family. You look just like your father, and that is a compliment. He was a handsome man. He's got a beautiful family.

KASEM: Well, thank you very much. Thank you very much. If I only had as much talent as him, I'd be doing all right.

CUOMO: I'm sure he would say differently. I'm sure he thought his kids were all better than he. Tell us about who he was as a dad.

KASEM: He was just a dad who was always there for you, never missed a beat. He was probably the most working man in Hollywood at one point, you know. Basically the Ryan Seacrest of, you know, 20, 30, 40 years ago, 50, 60 years ago. He's been around a long time.

And he still found time to come to school, you know, when we were getting in trouble or come to school when we needed help, to meet the teachers. This man just cared so much about his family, his friends, people around him. He put them first. They were his priority.

CUOMO: Talk to us --

KASEM: Not his work, which is actually -- CUOMO: Well, that's the point. Talk to us about how for all the

greatness that we know, which is about his work, what made him great to you is what we don't know.

KASEM: Yes. I mean it's just -- the amazing thing is, you know, you've got this radio persona and you grow up, you're listening to him on Sunday morning and you're hearing this voice and it connects with you. And you don't know, OK, well, is this the radio persona and is he a different person outside of radio at home. And the answer is no. I mean he really, really could connect with anybody anywhere.

I mean he would just tell us, you know, just random stories about his friends and, you know, his career and he sounded the same, you know. And he put so much passion and so much depth into everything he says. I mean I once watched him proofread a long distance dedication, and while he was proofreading a long distance dedication, he started crying.

And I've subbed in for him on the Top 40 and I proofread the long distance dedications. It didn't hit me the same way as it hit him, so that's what made him special and that's what made him able to convey with such kind of a heartfelt conveyance, I suppose.

CUOMO: And for the family in those final days, obviously this was a tough illness that he had, you know, families who have to face it, it's horrible to see someone you love and remember one way become so different at the end. But was the family able to come around him and be there with him and give him that sense of love that we all wish for our parents as they leave this world?

KASEM: Yes. I mean, you know, the amazing thing is two years ago I thought, OK, I'm never going to see my dad again. My stepmom just will not let us see him and that's it. And so I kind of knew that, so I said my good-byes. My dad was looking at me. He was in a bit of a confused state, but he could understand what I was saying. And he just put my hand down as I was trying to touch him and have that genuine moment with him and he's like what are you talking about? He couldn't really communicate with me in so many words, but it was just -- it was unbelievable how he really -- he didn't understand what I was saying and I really felt this is the last time.

And so I have to give my sister, Kerri, so much credit. You've probably been seeing everything that's been going on in the news and reporting about it, but I just didn't have that fight in me. So I signed a contract with Jean to be able to see my dad, which was going to be a couple hours a year. I mean it was pathetic. But I was OK with that. OK, fine. I'll see him and spend that time with him, at least I get to see him. And she, well, breached the contract.

And so that's when Kerri just said, you know what, enough of this. We've got to see our dad. Somebody needs to be around him and care for him. And we didn't know --

CUOMO: Mike, can you help us -- can you help us here just quickly. I don't want to get into your family's business. We've been as careful as we can be in reporting this because every family is vulnerable to it.

KASEM: Yes. Thank you.

CUOMO: But what was going on here?

KASEM: Well, you know, a lot of people -- you know, I read comments and they say it's just bickering. You know, it's bickering, the two sides are bickering.

It's not bickering. We're not bickering. It's just one side will not let us see our father. We, for the life of us, cannot figure it out. OK, if you hate us, fine, I get it, but that's not a reason to stop us from seeing our dad. I don't care how much I hate you, I'm not going to get in the way of you and your loved ones and your family. That's a separate issue, right?

So it's just mind boggling. People would ask me and I don't have an answer, I just don't have an answer. So it's not bickering. It's just we're going to do whatever we can to be with our dad whom we love, and we don't care about, you know, the press and everything that's covering this, it's part of it, it's going to happen. He's a public figure.

CUOMO: Well, I'm sorry that part had to play out especially in his final days like this.


CUOMO: But now for you it's about remembering who he was and figuring out what will be difficult because of the enormity of his impact on culture how to remember him for the rest of us. Any plans for a memorial, anything that we should be looking forward to?

KASEM: Yes. We're going to have a private memorial. You know, there's been so much going on in the press and we feel that, look, we love our dad and there's so many people who have been around him for 60-plus years. I think this needs to be a private and emotional time for us all to reflect and remember.

And you know, I sat in the hospital with him for the last nine days of his life. I flew out from Singapore where I work and I went to Seattle. I sat in the hospital with him and right by his bedside almost 24/7. I had to eat so I'd leave to go eat but then I'd come right back to his bedside.

And then I was like, OK, I need to make a memoriam, a video, you know, and start putting montages together. That was the most emotional, difficult thing I've ever done in my life. I opened up my laptop and started working on it and it was so difficult.

CUOMO: I can only imagine. But thank God for the memories and the love and the bond that you had.


KASEM: Yes. I mean the bond was so deep and he loved everybody, all of his children, his wife. He loved -- he just loved everybody around him and that's why he was so well-respected. I mean this is a guy who would never, never walk by a person asking for an autograph. Always gave people the time of day; would always talk to people if they wanted to talk.

CUOMO: Well, allow me to say, Mike --

KASEM: I mean he's a humanitarian.

CUOMO: -- we loved him for what he was and it's great to hear that that's who he was, not just what he was.

KASEM: It was for sure.

CUOMO: And because you look just like him and you sound like him, I'm going to thank you on behalf of Casey Kasem and the whole family. Thank you for what you let us share of your father and good luck to you healing going forward. And let us know if we can help with anything you want to do to remember him once you deal with it on the family side.

Mike Kasem, thank you so much.

All right, Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, the U.S. took on and beat rival Ghana in a stunning world cup opener, but can Team USA go all the way? What do you think? That's ahead.


BOLDUAN: Thank you for joining us. Time now for "NEWSROOM" with Ana Cabrera, in for Carol Costello this morning. Hi Ana.