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Obama Dubs Himself "The Bear"; "Why Don't You Become Legal?"; Movies, Now With Smell-O-Vision

Aired June 27, 2014 - 16:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. And now the Politics Lead, his poll numbers are in the basement. Chaos is erupting in the Middle East and the gridlock on Capitol Hill right now makes Manhattan rush hour look like a walk in the park. The White House is facing attacks on all fronts. As President Obama's second term wanes on, his critics are already dubbing him a lame duck.

So today more than five years into his presidency, the commander in chief is back on the trail trying to get himself associated with a completely different kind of power animal. Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta joins us now. Jim, there's the Yogi bear, Smoky bear, even the Care bears but Obama the bear?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. We should point out the National Zoo is actually a few miles up the road. There is a self-described bear in captivity here at the White House that's feeling the urge to break out of his cage.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Lost in the political wilderness for months --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm finding lately that I just want to say what's on my mind. So let me -- can't be routine.

ACOSTA: It's fair to say President Obama is doing more than working through some cabin fever these days.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The bear is loose.

ACOSTA: Now these presidential bear sightings happen every week. But this creature of Washington is hungering for more than coffee runs and fast food. As he told a town hall in Minnesota.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm like a caged bear and every once in an awhile I break loose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My God, it's a bear.

ACOSTA: Unlike the actual bear that tried to escape to the Minnesota woods, Mr. Obama wants to reconnect with the voters outside the White House fence and beyond the beltway noise. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Critics and the cynics in Washington, they've written me off more times than I can count.

ACOSTA: Now the White House is making these getaways part of his schedule having the president spend more time with everyday Americans. This week, it was Rebekah Erler's turn. She is a Minnesota mom who wrote a letter to the president about her struggles making ends meet.

REBEKAH ERLER, MINNESOTA MOTHER: I got a chance to start a conversation about what a lot of the people I know are going through.

ACOSTA: With the president's poll numbers approaching record lows, after bearish stories from Obamacare to the VA., Democratic strategists say the looser the better.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's an election year. So there's no question that the president will visit not just those important states but those not so important districts. So I'm sure that there's a little bit of politics in all of this.

ACOSTA: No surprise with the midterm election bat with Republicans under way, is the claws are coming out.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: They don't do anything except block me, and call me names.

ACOSTA: The president prefers the bear and aides say he's out to convince Americans that Washington can be more than the circus where he's not the popular exhibit he once was.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don't want you to ever forget that and I don't want you to be cynical. Cynicism is popular these days, but hope's better.


ACOSTA: And we should point out that President Obama is not the first occupant of the White House to see this place as a cage. Harry Truman once famously referred to the White House as a glamorous prison. Don't be caught off guard, White House aides say if the president is back on the road breaking loose from the fences. He's going to getting in touch with other Americans about their issues later on this summer -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That feels like the campaign trail again. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta at the White House.

I want to bring in our political panel now, politics editor for "Roll Call," Shirla Center and Washington Bureau chief for "Time" magazine, Michael Scherer. Thank you for joining us.

So does he have a chance? It's two and a half years into a difficult time. He's got foreign policy crisis and uncooperative Congress. Can he sell this bear nickname, or is he more likely to keep the lame duck albatross around his neck? SHIRLA CENTER, POLITICS EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": I think the next six months will be centered on the midterm elections. So nothing's going to get done in Congress. We've looked at the calendar at "Roll Call," I think they are in town for maybe a few days before August recess.

There's really not much of an opportunity to do much anyway. In terms of his personal life, we see him going around the country going to these diners, he's doing the same thing in D.C. He's stopping at every fast casual restaurant on Connecticut Avenue.

SCIUTTO: He looks happier.

CENTER: He does.

SCIUTTO: But after those six months, is this going to get him any sort of credibility or public support that he can leverage into getting stuff done?

MICHAEL SCHERER, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Barring some big upset in the coming election, he'll have a worse Congress than he does now. He's sort of a lame duck dressing up like a bear right now. They need a story line. They're going to do fundraisers around the country. There's no legislation moving. It's a fun story line. He says I've done my last campaign, but I have one more campaign. Here is the next campaign to be a regular person.

SCIUTTO: You've told us we've swallowed the White House story line.

SCHERER: No, we tell the White House story line. It's part of our job.

SCIUTTO: I want to turn to a more difficult race and political issue. This is the Mississippi race, one of the ugliest of the primary season just took a tragic turn. A Mississippi Tea Party leader accused being one of the men behind a photograph taken of Thad Cochran's wife in a nursing home, just committed suicide.

Tea Party Challenger Chris McDaniel who lost that race very close posted on his Facebook page, regardless of recent allegations made against his character, Mark Mayfield was a fine Christian man always respectful and kind, one of the most polite and humble men I've ever met. McDaniel's still threatening a legal challenge. Listen to what he had to say.


CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: The 35,000 to 40,000 Democrats jumped in this race and apparently tried to decide it. They have their own primary. We have ours. What we're looking for right now is irregularities. We've found hundreds and we're going to keep looking.


SCIUTTO: Shirla, have we not seen the last of this ugly race? CENTER: Maybe in terms of Chris McDaniel talking about it. He doesn't need 100. He needs to find 7,000. He's wasting a lot of his own political capital. When you drag a race on like this, you ruin any chances of perhaps running for Senate again. Thad Cochran is not going to be a U.S. senator forever and ever and Chris McDaniel is a young guy.

SCIUTTO: Did we learn anything positive from this race? Is there a lasting victory, Michael, you had the Republican Party in a rare instance granted a desperate circumstance reaching out to African- Americans? Senator Cochran had reached out to them, built relationships before. Is there something to bid on here or was this is purely politics on his part.

SCHERER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce would say yes, they very proud of his victory. There's a lot of people waiting in the establishment over something that he can wave the flag over. They've taken a lot of beatings in recent years and this was a case in which you had an old school politician appropriator, someone who is made his name taking federal deficit dollars and sending it to Mississippi with some Democratic help, which was for the most part legal.

McDaniel is complaining about Democrats crossing over. As long as you intend to vote in the general election for the person you voted for in the primaries, perfectly legal for Democratic crossovers.

SCIUTTO: It's been interesting for us because McDaniel supporters have been using Dana Bash's reports as evidence that African-American Democrats wrongly took part in this election. She interviewed African-American voter who's voted for Cochran why they did. You know, is there wrong with that?

CENTER: Legally no. Not at all. Under Mississippi law, it's an open primary as Michael just said. I think the national party is going to very quickly if they haven't become already become very frustrated with Chris McDaniel essentially saying mostly African-American voters cannot vote in the Republican Party primary. That's a hard thing for a party trying to expand its diversity reach right now.

SCIUTTO: Going back to the president before we finish up, you have John Boehner still threatening this lawsuit against the president, Michael. Chances?

SCHERER: Of him actually filing a lawsuit?

SCIUTTO: What's the point really?

SCHERER: It's really hard to get one of these lawsuits to come to a conclusion. The courts like giving standing to Congress. We don't know what the lawsuit is though. It's possible e finds some technicality. It's clear to the court in the recess appointment case he's willing to take up some of these issues. It's not clear at all that he's going to be able to.

SCIUTTO: More political showing in Washington. Thanks very, Michael Scherer. When we come back, he was sent to live in the U.S. age of 12 and hasn't seen his mother since. The man who is challenging the U.S. Government for tearing families apart. What's his message to be President Obama. Plus, millions of Americans put aside work myself included to watch the U.S.-Germany World Cup game. How much people watched in the end?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Time now for the Buried Lead. Stories we think aren't getting enough attention. We've been reporting on the thousands of undocumented children being sent by their Central American families to cross the border into the U.S. alone. Now, President Obama is sending their parents this message.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our message absolutely is don't send your children unaccompanied on trains or through a bunch of smugglers. That is our direct message to the families in Central America. Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.


SCIUTTO: Now, the uncertain future of these children highlights the complications and difficulties of America's immigration policies. And a new CNN film called "Documented" explores it through the journey of a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas who outed himself as an undocumented American in a 2011 essay. Since then he's been talking to others about what he calls America's broken immigration system.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was brought here when I was 12. I didn't know it. My grandparents were American citizens didn't tell me. So I've been here. I've been paying taxes since I was 18. I just want to be able as you said to get legal and get in the back I've line somewhere.


SCIUTTO: Jose Antonio Vargas joins us now from New York. Jose, thanks so much for coming on. We appreciate it.

JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, DIRECTOR/WRITER, "DOCUMENTED": Thank you so much for having me.

SCIUTTO: I just want to begin with a basic question. You're sitting here talking to us now. You outed yourself as an undocumented worker three years ago. Yet, you're still in the U.S. You haven't been sent back to the Philippines, your home country. How is that still possible today?

VARGAS: I have no idea. I have no idea why I haven't gotten deported. Actually I called the government myself. I called ICE and asked them are you going to deport me, why and why not? Why haven't I heard from you? Just the fact that every day, undocumented immigrants like me are getting detained and deported, and yet, here I am talking to you and I just made a film about to air on CNN on Sunday night.

SCIUTTO: It's incredible.

VARGAS: We're done hiding. And I think the question that's important -- are you playing a clip of the film?

SCIUTTO: That's just onside. On that thought, I wanted to ask you this. You heard the president's comments.


SCIUTTO: In that ABC interview saying do not send your children here alone. You were a child who was sent here on your own to live with your grandparents.

VARGAS: I was sent with a smuggler. I didn't know and then I found out four years later it was a smuggler. Yes.

SCIUTTO: So what did you think when you heard the president's warning?

VARGAS: Look, we have a political crisis in Washington, D.C., right? This is so bad that the Republicans, House Republicans say that we can't get immigration reform. No, because they don't trust the president to enforce the law. And this is the same president who has deported nearly 2 million people in five years.

President Obama is enforcing the law, but that's kind of the political stand still that we find ourselves in. I think what's happening, this humanitarian crisis with unaccompanied minors is reminding us that the humanitarian crisis is happening with 11 million of us who are here illegally, who go to school and contribute and pay social security and taxes here.

And yet, this level of urgency is not something that we see. This is what I asked in the film and what I'm asking every elected official in Washington, D.C. What do you want to do with me exactly?

SCIUTTO: It's a bake question still.

VARGAS: What do you want to do with all of us? We can't all baby-sit your kids and mow your lawns and serve your drinks or is that what you want us to do?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, there's a moment in the film that documents you losing your only government issued I.D., your driver's license after coming out as undocumented. The Philippine Embassy gives you a passport but no visa. You try boarding a plane. Let's look at this for a moment as to how you managed to do that.

How did the system fail to not catch you in that moment?

VARGAS: I have no idea. All I know is since I was a kid, you know, because I don't look like, quote/unquote, an illegal because I don't look when people think undocumented are illegal, they think Latino and Mexican and brown as if there's something wrong with being Mexican. All these years I've been able to pass, right, and for me, it's a matter of kind of using this privilege that I have to make sure that we're really asking the hard, tough questions. And that we insist on a conversation. As far as I'm concerned, I'm an American. I'm just waiting for my own country to recognize it.

SCIUTTO: You're right. Hard questions still yet to be answered. Thanks very much to Jose Antonio Vargas. Remember you can watch the CNN Film "Documented" this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. When we come back today -- one company has decided to introduce a whole new dimension. Next, the 4D movie experience possibly coming to a theater near you. Plus, there's even a leg tickler. We'll explain next.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Now the Pop Lead. Typically, if you smell something or you're hit with something in a movie theater, you're wondering why the people behind you brought their kid to such a grown- up movie like "Transformers." But now that's just another part of the movie going experience, the theaters hope will give them the edge over your recliner and flat screen at home.

Stephanie Elam was one of the very first people in the country to get the 4D movie experience and she joins us now. So Stephanie, what's the Fourth D?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Fourth D taking you to the next dimension, Jim, is about feeling everything. You might want to be forewarned. You might be dodging some bullets that aren't actually coming for you.


ELAM (voice-over): With 4D, it's not just about watching the action. It's about feeling it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I usually go to sleep in the movies. Gosh, not that one.

ELAM: As movies face ever increasing competition to snag eyeballs, one company is betting it can lure people into theaters with the fourth dimension. Korean company CJ 4D Plex is opening the first American 4D theater here in Los Angeles. The technology isn't new. In 2009, "Avatar" was the first major picture viewed by audiences in 4D. Just not here in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of people have been waiting to see if 4 DX would work in America.

ELAM (on camera): What can the chairs do?

YOUNG CHOI, 4DX DIRECTOR: Obviously the motion chair, the back shaker and leg tickler.

ELAM: That's the official term for it?

CHOI: That's good for the horror movies. Creep you out. ELAM (voice-over): If that's not enough, there's more effects in and around the chairs like mist, rain, wind, strobe lights, even scents and bubbles. But the company may have an uphill battle.

STEFFIN CALINOUM, 4D MOVIEGOER: It's not family oriented. It's something you would go with your friends.

ELAM: While last year's total Box Office jumped 1 percent in the U.S., 3-D receipts went the other direction, dropping a percent even though Hollywood's 45 3-D releases were nine more than the year before. So many American movie theater owners are hesitant to take on 4D until they see how this theater does.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MOVIE ANALYST: What they're going to require is for audiences to get on the 4D bandwagon. If that watches on, then it goes from being a gimmick to a trend and potentially a habit of movie going.

ELAM: With an upcharge of $8 a ticket, consumers could end up paying around $25 a pop to see a 3D movie with 4D effects.

ALEX ORELLANA, 4D MOVIEGOER: Being a father and having, you know, a wife and two kids can get to be a very expensive investment.

ANGELA KILLOREN, CJ 40 PLEX: Absolutely not. We do our job in choosing movies that would work well. It's not like we're doing something constantly like a ride. We pull back, let the story take over. When there's exciting moments, the 4D gets going and you know, the adrenaline is rushing.

ELAM: Only time will tell if moviegoers will be rushing back for more.


ELAM: And there are many of these theaters around the world. It's been hardest to get into the U.S., but they're hoping that they're productive with them. A lot of us have seen these kind of rides at amusement parks. It's very different when each movie is programmed specifically for this technology.

SCIUTTO: Have they been testing this out? There's a lot going on, surprising people, the leg tickler. How do they get people from getting motion sick?

ELAM: Yes, that thing is kind of scary, that leg tickler. The sickness issue is a real one. They've done movies where they work with the studios and decide that was too much for anyone to sit through. So they tone it down. You may feel a light vibration when flying in a helicopter over something. So you feel it but it's not too much because the last thing they want to do is turn people off. They want people to come to the theaters and spend money.

SCIUTTO: We'll have to try that in the news business. Thanks very much, 4D news. In the Sports Lead, soccer, you in America have flirted for years. Sometimes we ignore you because we know how crazy that drives you. Now we're in a full blown love affair. "Variety" is reporting more than 14 million people watched the World Cup match between the U.S. and Germany on ESPN and Univision.

Now it was the smallest audience for all of America's World Cup games so far, but massive for the middle of what was a workday. Germany won but the U.S. still advanced. The Germans have taken their gloating to infinity and beyond. German astronaut, Alexander Girsst tweeted these photos from space after shaving the heads of two Americans on the space station who clearly lost a bet on Team USA.

Follow me on Twitter @jimsciutto, that's all one word and the show on the leadcnn. I'm going to turn you over to Wolf Blitzer who is in as always "THE SITUATION ROOM.