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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  January 28, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PST

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good to have you here. >> good to be here. >> back tomorrow? >> yes, i am and suzanne back after that. she is covering state of the union. >> brianna keilar up next with "cnn newsroom." -- captions by vitac -- right now, president obama announces he'll go it alone to launch one of his priorities. but republicans say not so fast. they're not going to sit back and get trampled. and right now, heroes, activis activists, "duck dynasty" cast members get ready to attend the state of the union as special guests. will this sideshow overshadow the speech. and a storm hitting new orleans, birmingham and charleston. officials are warning drivers to stay off the roads. hi there, i'm brianna keilar in washington in for wolf blitzer.
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he said he wouldn't wait for congress to get things done. now president obama says he'll take executive action to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. the announcement comes just hours before the president delivers his state of the union speech tonight. he'll be facing americans who are worried about where the country is headed. in a new nbc news "wall street journal" poll, only 31% say the country is better off since president obama took office. a combined 68% say it's either worse off or in the same place. and tonight he'll try to reassure americans by focusing on issues like the wage gap. president obama pushing forward in his bid to close the gap between rich and poor. he'll tell lawmakers tonight, he's not waiting on them to raise the minimum wage. at least for americans working on government projects. his executive action will force any company signing a new contract with the feds to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour.
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almost $3 more than the current federal minimum wage. janitors and construction workers all seeing a boost in pay, according to the white house. it was just one voua from last year's state of the union. >> raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. >> reporter: that didn't get traction in the republican-controlled house of representatives. remember that passionate call for a vote on new gun laws? >> the families of newtown deserve a vote. >> reporter: it failed. and the push for an immigration overhaul? >> now is the time to do it. now is the time to get it done. >> reporter: stalled on capitol hill. now obama wants action, and with the clock ticking on his second term, he's ready to tell congress to get on board, or step aside. >> i'm also going to act on my own if congress is deadlocked. >> reporter: executive actions, rallying businesses, colleges and local leaders to the cause. and developing programs that don't require congressional approval. all part of obama's plan to
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bypass congress. >> he's an american citizen. and it stands to reason that he might be frustrated with congress. since most american citizens are. >> reporter: now, the president's speech tonight follows a difficult and frustrating year. he hopes certainly this is a chance to reboot and to move forward. let's bring in our chief political analyst, gloria borger, to talk about this. so gloria, we look at our latest cnn poll of polls. the president's job approval rating down from 52% a year ago, now 44%. now does that affect him going into tonight? >> look, he's not popular, and the congress is even less popular. and remember, he came into office saying to the -- to americans, he was going to change the way washington works. remember that, brianna? >> yep. >> now he's kind of admitting, okay, i couldn't change the way washington works, so i'm going to work around washington. okay? and i'm going to do, through executive order some things that i would like to get done, whether it's on the minimum wage
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for federal workers, as you point out, or maybe some climate change issues that he can do through regulation. but he's sort of taking the public's side against the congress, if you will, because he knows that's one area he may actually have some traction. >> so let's talk about this decision, this executive action that's going to be a huge part of his speech tonight, raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers. these are under new federal contracts. let's talk about what house speaker john boehner told reporters. he said, quote, this idea that he's just going to go it alone. i have to remind him, we do have a constitution, and the congress writes the laws, and the president's job is to execute the laws faithfully, and if he tries to ignore this, he's going to run into a brick wall. boehner went on to say, we're just not going to sit here and let the president trample all over us. is the president trampling all over congress? >> brianna, he's doing what presidents have done before him, including republican presidents, like ronald reagan, who did more
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executive orders than the president has done to this date. so look, presidents have the power to use executive action. he can't legislate immigration reform through an executive ord order, for example. but he can change some regulations. so what he's saying is, i'm going to go down that track, and i'm going to try and do what i can do, but i'm also going to try and get some things done in the congress. and, you know, i think he's playing an outside game, but then he's got to try and figure out how to play an inside game to get a few things done. so it's a very difficult needle to thread here, brianna. >> that's right. because he is going to say tonight, there are some things, perhaps immigration he wants to work through congress on. but let's talk about the thing we're going to hear over and over. opportunity, opportunity tonight. he'll be talking about the middle class. we'll also, i expect, to hear this from the republican rebuttal or rebuttals. how important is this issue for the future of both parties, opportunities for the middle
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class? >> it's very important. and i think that what you're going to hear the president talk about is less this income inequality we have been hearing so much about, which sounds a little academic to a lot of people. but it's mobility. one thing people can really grab on to here is that the poor are not rising to the middle class. and rather than portray it as a fight between the middle class and the wealthy and the poor and the wealthy, i think the teurn the president might take and we'll have to wait until tonight to hear it, he wants to increase the opportunity for economic mobility for people who are at the bottom of the ladder to climb up the ladder. because there have been some recent studies done, one that was done by harvard, which actually shows that in the last generation, people have not been anymore able to climb from the bottom rungs of the ladder to the middle or the top rungs of the ladder. that's in a generation like 50
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years here. and that's a problem, i think, we'll hear him talk about tonight. >> yeah. and that's why the buzz word is "opportunity" this evening. gloria borger, see you tonight. now, it is a state of the union tradition, of course, to invite special guests to sit in the first lady's box during the speech. this year's honorees include mary barra, the first female ceo of general motors, antoinette tuft, a bookkeeper who talked down a school shooter. christian avila and jason collins, the nba's first openly gay player. and jeff bauman. and gary bird from moore, oklahoma, the site of a very devastating tornado. be sure to watch cnn's special coverage of the president's state of the union address tonight starting at 7:00 eastern. i will see you then. 140 million people are under
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winter advisories right now, bracing for an onslaught of snow and ice, a storm that probably wouldn't make northerners blink an eye. but this storm is taking aim at the deep south, where resources to battle such weather are few. our chad myers is in new orleans. chad, who is getting the worst of this right now? >> reporter: you know, east texas just north of us here, lafayette, up to about baton rouge and across into mississippi, montgomery, and it's even snowing in atlanta. i have a tower cam from atlanta. my wife lives with me. eight niles north in a high-rise and says she can't see downtown at all now, because the snow is now thick enough it's just blocking visibility. and so that's what we're seeing here in atlanta. this right here is 33 and rain. in about one hour, it's going to be 32. 31 and rain. so what would be a beautiful sight here to show you the trolly, the street cars going up and down, one named desire, maybe not. they're shut down, because the power up here -- we desire the
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street cars today. the power up here probably will go down today, and so therefore, that trolly, that street car, would come to a dead stop with nowhere to go. no power. so they have turned that off. they said no, we're going to run buses instead. and so that's what we have here, buses going up and down the trolly tracks. brianna, i was born in buffalo. i was raised in nebraska. and when i put a hat on, it now is cold. because for all morning long, it was like, okay, 40, 45, it's fine. it's not that anymore. it's sleeting, it's snowing, the rain is coming down, and this water on the ground is about to freeze. >> well, chad, i grew up in southern california, so i can definitely commiserate with all of the folks in warmer clims who don't know what to do with this. tell us about the forecast and what we should be expecting are really across the board. >> reporter: what has happened now, that cold air that's really been bottled up in canada, has come down to the deep south. and a storm, a small one, but
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still a storm coming out of the gulf of mexico. it will put down one half inch of ice right down here where i'm standing in the next three to four hours. by 8:00, we won't be able to walk around here, because there is not a salt truck anywhere around here. they said there is salt -- the ocean, the gulf of mexico not that far away, just throw some saltwater on it. doesn't work that way. they can't get all their bridges salted at one time, because essentially where i'm standing is below sea level. a lot of this town, a lot of the highways, all on bridges, going over bayous, going over lakes. 55 miles of i-10 right now shut down because of that, and the forecast is -- what you see is what you get, and it's only going to get worse, at least for the next 6, 12, and carolinas, 18 more hours of what you see right now. >> that's right. bridges freeze first. so i think it's time to stay inside and bring those board games out. chad myers, thank you. harry reid weighing in on the upcoming state of the union. up next, cnn's exclusive interview with the senate
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well, in the end, a lot of what the president wants to get done will hinge on congress and our chief congressional correspondent, dana bash, is joining me now from capitol hill to talk about this. or i should say, she's here in washington. just moments ago, she sat down for an exclusive interview with senate majority leader harry reid. i know he has the state of the union on his mind. he's also thinking a lot about 2014. >> absolutely. look, the president is going to come here to talk to congress about what he wants to do and
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the remaining yearses of his term. but so much is going to hinge on what happens here in the united states senate in the next year. and nobody has more to lose when it comes to that personally than senator harry reid, because he is the senate majority leader. it is no secret, you know this brianna, you covered the president, that his popularity has dipped a lot. it was never very good in some of the red states where democrats are the most vulnerable, and poses the most potential for republicans to take over the senate. i asked harry reid about that and whether or not he would encourage democrats to have the president keep their distance and he doubled down. he did not say no. listen to this. >> any time the president of the united states appears supporting a candidate, it helps. we -- ronald reagan hurt me by coming to the state all of the time. barack obama is personally a very popular guy. and people love this man, they love his family. of course, with what the
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republicans have been doing, trying to denigrate him with what's happened with a rollout of obamacare, things -- even this week, his numbers are going up again. >> so you would encourage some of your most vulnerable senate democratic candidates to invite president obama to appear with them? >> yes, and they will. >> and brianna, there is actually going to be a meeting at the building you covered, the white house, to discuss this very thing reid divulged to us later this week to discuss just exactly where the president will go. maybe you're going to actually have a surprise trip to the red, red state of arkansas, maybe even go to the red, red state of alaska, if harry reid has anything to do with it. obviously going to be fascinated to see what those senators think of what reid is recommending. >> and the fascinating thing about this, dana, it's -- this is completely counter to conventional thinking. you would almost like put money on the president not going to arkansas, for instance. do you really think that some of these vulnerable democrats in louisiana, in arkansas, in
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alaska, are they going to want help from president obama, really, other than when it comes to fund-raising? >> i was just going to say, they'll take his money, they're already getting the money he's helping raise. maybe the best way to answer that for now is to tell the story that you covered in north carolina. that the president went to north carolina, and senator kay hagan decided to stay here in washington and not go down and be with the president. you can bet, and you know this, because we have seen it, that if the president would be beneficial to her, help her, she would have been there in a heartbeat, because that day there wasn't anything huge going on that she had to be here in washington for, at least when it comes to her main job, which is voting. >> yeah, she wasn't exactly a tie breaker on a vote or anything that day. dana bash, thanks so much. great interview. you can see dana's full interview with harry reid tonight during our special coverage of the state of the union. that starts at 7:00 p.m. and still ahead, the curse of the response to the state of the
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union. several republicans have seen their stock drop in the wake of their state of the union rebuttal. but will this year be different, with host of republicans fighting for air time. up next, "crossfire" hosts. we asked people a question, how much money do you think you'll need when you retire? then we gave each person a ribbon to show how many years that amount might last. i was trying to, like, pull it a little further. [ woman ] got me to 70 years old. i'm going to have to rethink this thing. it's hard to imagine how much we'll need for a retirement that could last 30 years or more. so maybe we need to approach things differently, if we want to be ready for a longer retirement. ♪ mayo? corn dogs? you are so outta here! aah! [ female announcer ] the complete balanced nutrition of great-tasting ensure. 24 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and 9 grams of protein.
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in tonight's state of the union address, president obama will lay out his agenda for the next year and beyond. the speech is steeped in history, but it's changed quite a bit over the decades. from a report on the health and well-being of the nation, to a sort of wish list for the administration. joining me now to talk about it, two of the hosts of cnn's "crossfire," stephanie cutter and se cupp. some people look at the state of union, they want how effective a president can be.
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has it lost its relevance, do you think? >> well, you know, there's not a whole lot of suspense in the state of the union. for one, it's not a magical decree. it's not as if whatever the president says in the state of the union is going to happen the next year, as the last state of the union proved. so the intrigue isn't over what he's going to say because it has direct implication over what's going to happen. people tune in, especially i would imagine, democrats running in 2014, tune in to see what they're going to have to own and disown of the president. especially in election year. but honestly, i mean, unless queen latifaha marries people tonight, it's not going to have the same kind of effect as some of the other, you know, big tune-in night television shows have. >> that would be certainly, i think, something to see. what do you think, stephanie? how much can the president really accomplish here? >> well, i think that, you know, i've worked on more than a half dozen of these speeches. and we're forgetting one very
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important point. that he's not speaking to the people in the room, he's not speaking to people like us. he's speaking to people who are watching his speech on living rooms -- in living rooms, couches across the country. it's an unfiltered way for the president to get his message out. and his agenda out. and frankly, for a president, it's priceless. >> and so to that point, where you say he's not speaking to the people in the room, i almost wonder sometimes if some of the members of congress, they feel like almost pawns in the state of the union game. to that point, some of the special guests that we're seeing that they are inviting, you've got the ft. lee mayor of brid bridgegate fame, one of the stars of "duck dynasty," the father of one of the men killed in benghazi. what do you think about that, stephanie? is it a bit of a circus, or is this a major political event, or is this just part of the new flavor that comes with it? >> well, i think that members are trying to get their piece of coverage a little bit more than
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we used to have to face. so, you know, it's getting a little bit -- to be a little more circus-like atmosphere. but i think the american people aren't really focused on that. i really think they're focused about what the president is going to lay out tonight, what he's going to say to them about the state of our union, and he will give an update on the state of our union and lay out where he thinks we need to go. in terms of rebuilding the economy from the middle-out. we have come a long way. and if we work together, we can rebuild that middle class. >> to you, se, i want to talk a little bit about the republican response. republicans, they have a lot, certainly, to choose from this year. you've got congresswoman cathy mcmorris rodgers, giving the official response. senator mike lee has the tea party response. rand paul gave the tea party response before. he's now just giving his own rand paul response. do you think -- is this a problem at all, because it highlights in a way there are so many voices coming out of the republican party, and also if -- in a way, it's hard to be heard
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when you're competing with a president. how does -- how do republicans really kind of push a message forward when there are so many? >> well, the idea that a multitude of voices and a diversity of opinion would be a bad thing or a problem is -- is kind of silly. you know, republicans are often criticized, especially by democrats, for not having a lot of diversity. and it's our intellectual diversity that we continually spotlight, and the fact that we have four different opinions, four different responses, all coming from the same party, reaching different kinds of conservative voters, is -- is a lucky thing, is a wonderful thing. and i hope all four of them do a great job tonight. >> i will call that choose your own gop adventure then, i think, when it comes to the rebuttals. i want to ask you, this is something that's pretty fascinating for a lot of people. they look at the lineup for not just republicans, but also democrats, as well, over the past several years.
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look at republicans. marco rubio, mitch daniels, paul ryan, bob mcdonnell, bobby jindal, certainly some of them have sunk more than others. i'm not saying they all have. but you sort of have in a way i think some people look and they say, oh, there's a bit of a curse, you know, even if it's someone who is sort of held up, like marco rubio is really a potential, i think, gop front runner. he's come certainly to have some political difficulties, bob mcdonnell. he's just in the doldrums right now. kathleen sebelius gave the last democratic response. what do you think, stephanie? is there a curse? is there something to it? >> no, i don't think there is a curse. there has been plenty of people who have gone on to be plenty successful, who have given the response. and i worked with tim kaine on his and now he's a leading senator. i think that to the extent that you think marco rubio has problems, it has nothing to do with his state of the union
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response, or the -- >> drinking the water. >> drinking the water. it was, you know -- he handled that well. i think his problem comes from not figuring out where he fits in the republican party. trying to work on bipartisan immigration reform. and then switching back to the far right wing of the party. i think that's where his problems come from. we know where mcdonnell's problems come from. mitch daniels was a successful republican governor. so no, i don't think that there's a -- i think it's an honor to be able to give the response to the president's state of the union speech. i think the one thing that is consistent in these speeches is no matter who the president is, is difficult to have the stature that the president has, when he's giving his speech. whoever gives that response looks a little bit smaller, just because you're up against the president of the united states. >> it is hard to compete on the -- against the bully pulpit. stephanie cutter, se cupp, thanks to both of you for joining us. we'll be seeing a lot of you on this very busy day.
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we have more state of the union coverage ahead. next, just getting 80,000 people into the super bowl is a big enough job. wait until you hear about the security measures that will make it even tougher.
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well, we are learning new details about stepped-up security for the super bowl. security at metlife stadium, transit stations and airports
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will be staffed by federal agencies, including homeland security along with local police. seat cushions, food, drinks, merchandise, will all be x-rayed. and evan perez joining us now with more on this massive security effort. so evan, what is homeland security saying about all of these stepped-up measures? >> reporter: well, brianna, they're telling me they're adding hundreds of people up in new jersey and new york to specifically target the train stations for people going from new york and stations in new jersey to metlife stadium. a special interest is the train that runs to metlife stadium, a few yards away from the entrance to the stadium. ask so that's a big concern. one of the things they're going to do on super bowl sunday, 100% baggage check for everybody who is going from that junction into metlife stadium. we have a list of other security procedures they're going to be rolling out, beginning tomorrow.
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they're going to be adding more air marshals, radiological detection teams. people working in train stations, doing more baggage checks, random checks of baggage. they're going to be adding some more screenings, more lanes at the airport. this is also to help people get in and out of the new york region for the big game. and there's also a crackdown on sex trafficking and prostitution, which is a big problem around the big events like this. both the fbi and the nypd say they're doing this, about 200 people already have been rounded up by the nypd in the last few days, focusing on this problem, brianna. >> so broad security measures there. and also, evan, this is a huge metropolitan area. what kind of special challenges does that pose? >> well, the biggest thing is this is unlike other super bowls that are held in warmer climates. this is a transit-focused area.
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so people aren't going to be able to park nearby the stadium. they're going to to be on transit. it creates a lot more problems for screening people to get into the stadium. and obviously the weather this weekend is going to be dreadful, going to be very cold. so you can imagine even more trouble trying to get people screened wearing big, heavy coats and all of the extra gear they're going to be carrying, which is always a big security risk and a big security concern for federal officials and the local officials that are working this game, brianna. >> that's right. take your patience with you. it's going to be a fun time. people just need to relax and get ready for the wait. evan perez, thanks. let's take a look at the markets. there you can see the dow. it is up about 88 points right now. three sessions of downward pressure from overseas markets eased up. wall street waiting on any news out of this week's federal reserve meeting, the last one for outgoing boss ben bernanke. one very big bump in the road,
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apple stock, taking a hammering, dropping 7% after the company reported quarterly earnings. the company said it had record sales for the iphone, including booming sales in china. but here's the problem. wall street analysts were expecting apple to sell 57 million iphones. the company it actually sold 51 million. and that was enough to make some investors sell. hillary clinton admits, she doesn't drive. she hasn't been behind the wheel in almost two decades. could it affect her political future, or is she still in the fast lane? we'll have that next. ♪ ♪
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in a speech earlier this month, president obama said he wanted to get more done without congress. well now the white house is
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announcing the president will sign an executive order, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for employees working under new federal contracts. he'll talk about it in tonight's state of the union speech. and joining me to carry on since i'm struggling to talk are cnn political commentators, hillary rosen and kevin madden. let's talk about this new abc washington post poll that shows a slight majority of executive orders, 52% supporting the president by passing congress while 46% oppose it. does he run a risk if you have more than a majority of americans saying yeah, go by congress and the fact that so many americans are annoyed with congress. >> not all executive orders are the same. i think the big risk here is that, you know, a central premise the president ran on when he ran for president in 2008 was that he could bring people together and he could change washington.
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by going around congress and by just starting to govern with executive -- with only his executive authority, it says that essentially he's failed to live up to the -- to his central promise that he made when he was a candidate. that he was going to be able to bring people together. so i think that is something that is -- is a risk. another risk is that this type of activity will engendr a little more rancor and partisanship on capitol hill. and that doesn't help congress, but it also doesn't help president. when people look to washington and they see more of the same, more partisanship, they judge congress harshly and the president. >> let me ask you about this, hillary. we should be fair when we look at the tally of executive orders and the first five years in the last three presidents, you can see that president obama is actually quite far behind his immediate predecessors. to you, hillary, on what issues does the president need to reach out to congress in his speech tonight, and when you're talking about, for instance, immigration, does it really help
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to go around congress in this way? does it affect those issues? >> well, first of all, i think the american people care more about results than they do about the process. that's why you see a majority favoring the president, taking executive authority when he can. and i think that for the president, you know, people just expect the president to work every day on their behalf. however that happens. and so sometimes that's going to mean he can pull the levers at the federal government, and give 2 million workers a raise, because they're working for federal contractors when congress refuses to give the other 11 million americans a raise by increasing the minimum wage. so those are things he's going to do. but there's still a lot he does need congress for. the republicans are, i think -- may try and use this as an excuse not to do things they were going to resist doing anyway. and they ought to increase minimum wage for everyone. they ought to change the
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immigration laws. america wants immigration reform. so they can do things on education. -- work together on education, college affordability, housing and mortgage assistance. a lot of things that the president needs congress for. i don't think it's going to be a flip off to congress. what he's going to say is let's focus on the fact we've got to give the american people some reasons for optimism and opportunity here. >> and while i have you both here, i want to ask you about something. i want to switch gears a little bit, literally, and talk about hillary clinton. she gave the keynote address at the national association of car dealers convention yesterday. and during her speech, she admitted that she hasn't driven a car since 1996. you have some who are likening this to george h.w. bush in 1992, being surprised at how a
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price scanner worked at the grocery store. and hillary, to be fair, we heard president obama, right, in 2007 talk about the price of arugula at whole foods, which doesn't connect with a lot of americans. what do you think, kevin? does it make her -- does she run the risk? you have both advised candidates. does she run the risk of seeming out of touch here, or does she have an excuse, because she has a secret service detail, and maybe they don't want her to drive? >> well, i think some people are jealous. some people don't like to drive. i would love to be chauffeured around, especially when i have my three screaming boys in the back seat. i wish i didn't have to drive a car. but look, you know, for a lot of american people, for a lot of the american people, there's a cost pressure associated with the economy when it comes to owning a car, pumping gas, you know, just getting the tires changed. and so she is sort of insulated from that cost pressure now. so there's maybe a bit of a relatability problem. but i will say that i don't think we should make too much of
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this. is it a challenge? sure. there's a whole bunch of other challenges that hillary clinton faces that are much larger than just this one, though. >> yeah. and i imagine you would agree with that, right, hillary? i said, hey, you know, she generally speaking has had a secret security detail a lot of times, especially back when she was the first lady. you're not allowed to drive -- >> and that's what you want. you want the secret service to make those decisions. you don't want other folks to. and so you sure don't want it to be political fodder when people are talking about safety and security. but, you know, the -- the interesting thing is that so many republicans are talking about her driving today. and that's probably because one of the other things she talked about yesterday was something that republicans don't want to hear, which is a thoughtful and sincere regret, an explanation about benghazi, you know, my final point on this is, sometimes you want to look at the group that you're talking to, going to the automobile
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dealers. you might want to come up with a funnier story than you haven't actually used their product for the last -- >> that's a good point. >> it is kind of ironic. >> yeah, definitely. and cliff, final point to you because of what hillary brings up, kevin. when hillary clinton talked about benghazi and that being her greatest regret, what happened in benghazi, she said. does she address some of the questions? does she inoculate herself moving forward? >> no. no. it's an inadequate response. it is an issue that's going to continue to come up in any perspective 2016 campaign. but i think the thing we have to remember about that issue, people on the left have made up their mind where they are on benghazi and people on the right have made up their mind. the bigger question is whether or not it's an issue that mobilizes people for or against hillary in the middle. that we don't know. as we get closer to 2016, we'll probably find out. >> and we will certainly be revisiting this topic with both of you. kevin madden, hillary rosen,
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thanks to both of you. >> great to be with you. >> thanks for being on. >> you bet. still ahead, mastering the art of the speech. tonight's state of the union address is both an opportunity as well as a challenge. can the president take advantage of this forum? and while he's making his speech, can you make it memorable and meaningful? [ male announcer ] need help keeping your digestive balance in sync? try align. it's the number one ge recommended probiotic that helps maintain digestive balance. ♪ stay in the groove with align. the day building a play set begins with a surprise twinge of back pain... and a choice. take up to 4 advil in a day or 2 aleve for all day relief. [ male announcer ] that's handy. ♪
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will help create jobs and grow our economy. >> last summer, the senate passed a huge overhaul package with bipartisan support. it looked promising, but then it hit the house and there it remains. republicans republicans not satisfied with how this reform would deal with the millions of people who came here and remain here illegally and documented. it is not dead, but definitely stalled. >> tonight's state of the union speech will be filled with pomp and pageantry. it represents a major opportunity and a major challenge. our candie crowley explains. >> reporter: the world will little note nor long remember what we say here. that was not true what lincoln said it about his gettysburg address. it is true about most state of the union speeches, which is not to say they're nothing. they are a moment on the grandest pulpit of all.
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and in primetime maybe. >> the president of the united states. >> they're priceless. in terms of being able to communicate your message and your agenda. >> reporter: these speeches have become the product of a cast of thousands and a nightmare for speech writers. government agencies weigh in on programs they want mentioned to elevate their status. state department and pentagon types usually shortchange, push for more word count. political operatives shake out troublesome verbiage. we are told the president, a wordsmith in his own right, is heavily involved in writing and editing. a key to success is knowing your audience, and that is not these people, lawmakers in the house chamber. they're pretty much window dressing. cnn commentator stephanie cutter watched the process during the clinton and obama years. >> whoever is standing up clapping, that's great. whoever's refusing to clap, that's great, too. >> fellow americans. >> you're not talking to people in the room. you're talking to people sitting on their couches at home. >> reporter: also helpful, if
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not too kitchy, props. president reagan once brought along 43 pounds worth of federal budget. >> talking about the need to shrink budget. it was a very vivid demonstration. >> reporter: except for historians and the occasionally curious, state of the union speeches, as lincoln said, are not long remembered, but certain phrases endure, capturing a moment in time. lyndon baines johnson, january 8th, 1964. >> this administration, today, here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in america. >> reporter: richard nixon, january 30th, 1974. >> one year of watergate is enough. >> reporter: bill clinton, january 23rd, 1996. >> the era of big government is over. >> reporter: and george w. bush, january 29th, 2002. >> states like these and their terrorist allies constitute an
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axis of evil. >> reporter: they're like mile markers in a nation's history. be assured as they write in, they're arguing, wondering and probably betting on what words will capture the moment of january 28th, 2014. we asked former presidential candidate rick santorum, a republican, what he thinks president obama should say. >> i made a bunch of mistakes and i'm here to say we need to correct them. >> reporter: delete. candie crowley, cnn, washington. >> be sure to watch cnn's special coverage of the president's state of the union address tonight starting at 7:00 eastern. when russell wilson steps on the field to quarterback the seattle seahawks in this weekend's super bowl, he'll bring with him a story of perseverance and personal tragedy. heard in his own words next. the day building a play set begins with a surprise twinge of back pain... and a choice. take up to 4 advil in a day or 2 aleve for all day relief.
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be a two-sport star. i had all these dreams. i wanted to one day -- once sports was all over, i wanted to be a ceo of some business and do all these things. and so for me, a lot of that's come true so far. my dad was always one to push me in the right direction. never too much where he would run me into the ground or anything like that. it was always to uplift me and encourage me to be great. my dad used to always tell me, don't be afraid to excel. don't be afraid to be great. so those things just matter to me. just being able to change people's lives and be one of the best. with my dad passing away in 2010, you know, a hard moment in my life, but i also knew that he was right there with a huge smile on his face, smiling from ear to ear. and he was watching every game. he's in the playoffs. he's sitting there on the 50 yard line. he's got the best seat in the house. being a 5'11" quarterback, not too many people think you play in the national football league. i knew my height doesn't define
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my skill set. i want to be the uncommon one. i think it's cool that i'm only 5'11" playing in the national football league. there's so many other kids that have the talent and hopefully i can help open up doors for them too as well. >> well, legendary folk singer pete seager has passed awaeger . ♪ >> you know that voice. his career spanned more than 70 years, including this performance at president obama's first inauguration. seeger's grandson says that he died of natural causes in a new york hospital yesterday. he is best known for hits like "turn turn turn" and "if i had a hammer." seeger was also known for his activism. he was a longtime supporter and credited for popularizing "we shall overcome." he was 94. be sure to watch cnn's special coverage of the president's
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state of the union address. that will be tonight starting at 7:00 eastern. and that is it for me. thank you so much for watching. "newsroom" continues right now with don lemon. hello, everyone. don lemon here. crazy day. i'm in for brooke baldwin. so stand by. fasten your seat belts when it comes to the weather. the midwest, northeast might be used to it, but much of the deep south is about to get slammed with a winter cold snap it hasn't seen in decades. we're talking a big swath of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. i've been talking to my friends in atlanta and they're freaking out right now. louisiana, mississippi, alabama, all under states of emergency. birmingham, atlanta, and yes, new orleans. right in the storm's path. first we're going to go to meteorologist jennifer grey. she is live in downtown, atlanta, where it's already snowing. it's so weird when it snows in atlanta. everything comes to a halt. i hear there's a huge traffic ss