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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Terrorists Seize Major Iraq Cities; Official: Bergdahl to be Transferred to U.S. "Very Soon"; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California; Interview with Congressman Peter King of New York; Cantor Loss Rocks Republican Party
Aired June 11, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, breaking news. A stunning victory for al Qaeda today.
Plus, one of the biggest political upsets of all time. How did an unknown professor from Virginia take down the House majority leader?
And Paula Deen's comeback after using the N-word. This is her savviest business move yet.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news -- a stunning and deadly defeat in Iraq, and victory for al Qaeda. Al Qaeda-inspired militants from the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria have launched one of their most daring assaults, seizing a major city.
This time, Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the city overrun just a day after insurgents took control of Iraq's second biggest city, Mosul. Hundreds of thousands of residents are running from their homes. Police have been laying down their arms, trying to change into civilian clothes, all in an effort to escape the worst carnage to strike Iraq in nearly a decade.
CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.
Jim, this is stunning to imagine when you think about the time, the money, the lives that were spent on Iraq, Iraqi and American. Where do things stand tonight?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is stunning. It's alarming, and particularly how quickly it has deteriorated. These are major cities. Mosul goes first, the second largest city in the country. Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown. Beiji, this is a city with a major oil refinery, and they're getting closer to the capital, Baghdad. And one of the big disappointments for U.S. officials, Iraqi
officials is that the Iraqi security forces that the U.S. has been training at great expense for a number of years and really is the core of the U.S. strategy when it left Iraq was to leave the country's security in their hands, they have not performed. As you mentioned, deserting, clearly not up at this stage to fighting back against these militants who you'll remember are even more radical than al Qaeda.
Now, U.S. response so far limited to military support. You know, in terms of training, supplying arms to Iraqi forces. They say they are considering other option. But I tell you, Erin, those options will not include American boots on the ground.
BURNETT: Jim Sciutto, thank you very much, just a disturbing and deeply depressing development there in Iraq as they approach Baghdad.
We are following breaking news out of the Pentagon tonight. We're learning the final travel plans to bring Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl back to the United States.
An official says the transfer from a military hospital in Germany to one in San Antonio, Texas, could be incredibly soon, possibly just a day or two away. News of Bergdahl's recovery comes as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel went before Congress and aggressively was forced to defend the swap of five Taliban detainees for Bergdahl.
Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT with more on a shocking revelation about Bergdahl's history in the military.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has confirmed Bowe Bergdahl served for less than a month in the coast guard before later joining the army. Military sources would only call it an administrative discharge.
Tonight, his friends tell "The Washington Post" Bergdahl left the coast guard because he was psychologically troubled. CNN has not independently confirmed those accounts.
But journals and e-mails friends gave to "The Post", "The Post" says appear to paint a picture of a fragile young man trying to maintain mental stability. Bergdahl apparently writing at one point, "I've spent a lot of my life thinking blackness was all I had in front of me."
STARR: On Capitol Hill today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel angrily defended why Bergdahl is still in the hospital 12 days after being released from five years in Taliban captivity.
REP. JEFF MILLER (R), FLORIDA: You're trying to tell me that he is being held in Landstuhl, Germany, because of his medical condition?
CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Congressman, I hope you're not implying anything other than that. The fact --
MILLER: I'm just asking the question, Mr. Secretary.
HAGEL: I'm going to give you an answer. I don't like the implication.
MILLER: Answer it. Answer it.
STARR: Hagel offering one mea culpa to Congress.
HAGEL: We could have done a better job. We could have done a better job of keeping you informed.
STARR: And defending against accusations about why Congress wasn't informed of the trade.
HAGEL: By the way, I never said that I don't trust congress. That's your words.
REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: Yes, you did. Yes, you have over and over.
CONAWAY: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Secretary.
HAGEL: Congressman --
STARR: Hagel revealing the administration's intelligence concluded the five Taliban, some tied to al Qaeda, don't pose a direct threat to the U.S.
HAGEL: Their focus would almost certainly be on Taliban efforts inside Afghanistan. Not the homeland of the United States.
STARR: But there was a moment suggesting everyone take a deep breath.
REP. JACK SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: And I would just ask us to think for a moment how we would be responding if Bowe Bergdahl was our son. I really fear for his return to this country with the kind of rhetoric that is being spewed in this very room.
STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
BURNETT: And Congressman Jackie Speier of California, you just heard her there expressing her concern about what is being said to describe Bergdahl, is OUTFRONT.
And good to have you with us, Congresswoman.
When you said you fear what might happen to him hen he comes back to the United States, what did you mean? SPEIER: I'm very concerned that there will be efforts to try him
in the court of public discussion as opposed to giving him all of the opportunities, all of the due process that he deserves and very much the health care. It's medical, it's psychological. He's been in captivity for five years. He appears to have been fragile even before then. We need to establish a little compassion here.
BURNETT: It's obviously an important word, and I think meaningful when you said what if it was our son, you know, make people think about it that way.
But, of course, you know, there are soldiers who said they served with Bergdahl. They have come forward. They called him a deserter. There are some who say that some of their sons, they believe lost their lives looking for Bergdahl. Do you -- don't you think they've had a right to say all these things?
SPEIER: I think that we are a country in which everyone is innocent until proven guilty for starters. I think that the jury is still out in terms of whether or not anyone, any military member lost their life in anticipation of locating Sergeant Bergdahl.
And I think that we really need to take a step back and recognize that we have one very strong commitment, and that is to bring every single service member home. And that's what we're doing with Bowe Bergdahl. And we are -- have to give him the time and the space to recover.
BURNETT: CNN has learned, Congresswoman, that Bergdahl served less than a month in the Coast Guard, and then he joined the Army. And according to "The Washington Post," he left the Coast Guard because he was psychologically troubled, used the word fragile. If that's true, how is it that someone who would be struggling psychologically and only served a month in another branch of the Armed Forces be able to actually join the Army?
SPEIER: I think that goes back to what was happening in 2008. There were many, many people that were allowed to join the military that had records that under other circumstances would have prevented them as being unfit, whether it was having sexual assault background or having been convicted of some minor offense.
Under normal circumstances, they would not have been allowed to become members of the military. So, in this case, his situation was such that I think they waived him in.
BURNETT: Congresswoman, I was just in Doha the day before yesterday. Everyone I spoke to there had no concern about the Taliban living there among them. They didn't present this in an anti-American way, but they had absolutely no problem with it.
Secretary Hagel said that those five detainees are not a threat to the United States. But obviously there have been some in national security who said they are. Your colleague, Senator Joe Manchin, among them. He says he is concerned that they could be back in a position to do harm to Americans. Was this deal worth it? SPEIER: I think when we take -- if we start weighing whether or
not it's valuable to bring back one of our soldiers that has been held in captivity, who has been a POW --
BURNETT: Even if these five cost more American lives in the future?
SPEIER: Well, I think what we've got to make sure, and that's what a classified briefing is going to provide us, which we haven't had yet is what steps are being taken to make sure that doesn't happen.
BURNETT: All right, well, Congresswoman, thank you very much for taking the time tonight.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BURNETT: Congresswoman Jackie Speier saying it was much too early to rush to judge, defending Bowe Bergdahl.
Still to come, is gun violence really the norm? President Obama used those words. But we investigated. Do the numbers back that claim up?
Plus, Paula Deen's comeback. It is now complete? A year after her N-word scandal, she has her sights set on an entirely new network.
And every elevator passenger's worst nightmare coming true for this man. Tonight, if this happened to you, what to do.
BURNETT: Tonight, new details on the deadly at an Oregon high school. Police identifying the gunman as 15-year-old Jared Padgett. He was a student at the school.
Officials say Padgett arrived on campus with an AR-15 rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, knives, and a brown paper bag filled with nine loaded magazines. A teacher struck by the shooter was able to run away and initiate the school lockdown that likely saved countless lives, an act of heroism.
This is the latest in a long string of shootings in recent weeks. President Obama says it's becoming the norm. He threw out some very specific numbers. But just how common is this?
David Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): May 23rd, a man kills three with a knife, shoots and kills three more, and wounds 13 near a college campus in Santa Barbara, California. A grieving father makes an emotional plea. RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF SANTA BARBARA SHOOTING VICTIM: When
will enough people say stop this madness? We don't have to live like this! Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, not one more.
MATTINGLY: And yet, in less than three weeks, two more school shootings in the U.S. and three more dead. Since December 2012 when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, there have been 15 similar incidents. That's an average of one every five weeks, shootings on school property or targeting students, teachers, or administrators.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The country has to do some soul-searching about this. This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me.
MATTINGLY: One group every town for gun safety reports 74 incidents of gun violence of all sorts at or around American colleges since Newtown.
JOHN FEINELATT, EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY: What we see is that Newtown, which we once thought was an exception is becoming the norm. And I think that what we are understanding is that it could happen to anybody.
MATTINGLY: A recent report by a law enforcement training group found that the number of mass shootings in general, or active shooter events increased from an average of about five a year prior to 2009 to 15 in 2013. The FBI described the findings as part of the growing evidence that citizens must have in sight on how to respond.
TERRY NICHOLS, FBI: The chances of them happening are very low in probability. However, they're extremely high consequence, meaning if it does happen in your community, if it happens in any community, the consequences are very high. People -- lives are lost. Children are murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help, help!
MATTINGLY: That's why you see training like this becoming more common. Teachers learning how to defend their classrooms. An ongoing and growing sense of vulnerability possibly made possibly made worse by anguished by seemingly futile demands of not one more.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: As he said, increasingly futile demands for not one more.
OUTFRONT tonight CNN'S John Avlon.
Futile is the right word that David used because whatever you think about guns, most Americans whether they're for having guns, have guns themselves or don't believe in things like background checks, things like, that which politically is not happening. JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. Erin, look. Right
after the Newtown shooting, we saw this debate this the Senate. We talked about it a lot at that time. A poll showed that 91 percent of Americans supported a background check that would simply check commercial sales for mental illness or criminal record. Pretty common sense stuff.
Ninety percent of Americans don't agree on anything. And even then we couldn't get a basic bipartisan bill through congress. It got filibustered. Forty Republicans and five Democrats opposed. So if question is if not in the wake of that tragedy, with the steady drift drift, do we get desensitized or at some point do we demand we do something about it because it is totally within our power to do that. That is not infringing on the second amendment.
BURNETT: And the fact is the rate of the events has accelerated since then which shocks people. I mean, Joe Manchin obviously took this issue on background checks, very pro guns, but was able to get Democrats on board. I asked him last night. Now we're here. Are you going to bring this back before the Senate again? Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (R), WEST VIRGINIA: If we can't pass this, my goodness, I don't know what it's going to take to pass something today. But the bottom line is can it come back up? Do we have five more votes? Will five people basically look at what is happening in America today thinking that we can take common sense approaches and not really take away anyone's rights.
BURNETT: And are you going to try to get those five votes now?
MANCHIN: We've been talking and trying all along. We have never given up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. He has never given up. But it didn't sound to me as if this was yes, this is my moment. It sounded to me like a guy who is exasperated.
AVLON: It sounds like a guy who is on Capitol Hill in election year and looking at nothing but gridlock. I mean, look, you know, these faces were gutless wonders in the face of Newtown. They were intimidated by the gun lobby and convinced to ignore the will of 91 percent of the American people.
So unless those folks have a change of heart or all of the sudden this starts affecting them in a personal way that causes them to get the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, we're not going to see a sea change in this. But the American people's attitude on this hasn't changed. You know, this is not something that infringes on the second amendment. This is something that Scalia, Justice Scalia, even laid out.
BURNETT: This is the NRA supported itself.
AVLON: Exactly, in the past. We have regressed on this issue and put ourselves in a straitjacket, an ideological straitjacket that says we cannot pass reasonable gun legislation. Joe Manchin went to Pat Toomey, Republican to pass that bill. And Pat Toomey admitted when he asked said why did it passed, he said the big part of it was too many folks on the my side of the isle, the Republican side of the aisle, just didn't want to do anything that President Obama backed. So that poisonous polarization directly leads to this impasse while the death toll keeps piling up.
BURNETT: John Avlon, thank you.
And talking than poisonous situation, while it just got a lot worse. Because one of the biggest political upsets of all time is one of the biggest stories tonight. An unknown college professor taking down the house majority leader. How did he do it?
And then Paula Deen's big move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guess who has gone digital, you all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Paula Deen making a huge money play after coming under fire for admitting to saying the n-word. Today the chef announcing she was launching her own channel online. In the video promoting the Paula Deen network, Deen shows off her new kitchen and reiterates her love of southern cooking. That brings us to our number tonight, 24. That's how many Krispy Kreme donuts are in the recipe for bread pudding.
And here is the thing. It's so delicious, it's worth it. Anyway, if you want the butter rum sauce to go with it, you need among other things a pound of confectioner sugar, and probably a cream to lift your butt off the sofa. Will recipes like this make Deen richer than ever?
Marisa Guthrie is a television editor for the Hollywood reporter.
All right. All jokes aside, o mean, she went through this issue with the n-word. People thought that her career was over. Then they said well, it's just going to be a niche audience. But now she is coming out with this whole online digital channel. As she said, you're going see all of me. How smart is the move?
MARISA GUTHRIE, TELEVISION EDITOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I think it was her only alternative actually. Because someone who had the kind of fall she had, they're not going to get another television platform. All of her sponsors deserted her. I think this is a smart play for her and the only play for her. BURNETT: Can she make a lot of money doing this? You find your
own sponsors. Now you have subscriptions, right? But I'm thinking of people who lost all their advertisers. Glenn Beck, for other reasons. So he left FOX News. No he is at the blaze and making boatloads of money.
GUTHRIE: Well, Glenn Beck has a radio show, 120 million listeners. Paula, it will be interesting to see if Paula Deen can get her friends, which is a much smaller fan base than Glenn Beck and the casual cooking viewer to pay some sort of monthly subscription fee. I'm not sure that she is going to be making boatloads, but beck made about 40 million in his first year.
BURNETT: I mean, but that's an incredible amount of money, even if she only made a faction of that, we're talking about an incredible amount of money.
GUTHRIE: It is. But there is a lot of cooking content on television. She doesn't have the kind of rabid following that some of these other personalities who have launched internet ventures have.
GUTHRIE: So, it will be an interesting test to see if someone who is more in sort of the lifestyle milieu can actually convert this into people phoning up x number of dollars every month for her.
BURNETT: So, let me just play a quick and I'll tell everyone our audio on this is very low. But you got to listen to her describe what she is going to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: They are going to see all of me where in a network program, you have 22 minutes. There is really no editing, and what they're going to see, more of my family, more of my friends. I'm hoping to bring many of my fans here in the kitchen with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was an interview with "the Wall Street Journal" Lee Hawkins. I mean, that was -- but that is -- she is trying to bring in her family, her sons. I mean, kind of -- if it works, it's really smart.
GUTHRIE: Yes. She is trying to make it more of a reality show, showing the behind the scenes, the Paula Deen family, the Paula Deen empire. She has to do that, because you have to have more content than a couple of cooking shows if you're going to charge people a monthly fee.
BURNETT: I'm fascinated to see how it goes.
All right Marisa, thank you very much. We appreciate it. And still OUTFRONT, a political earthquake rocks the GOP. One
Republican congressman fears they're becoming the party of Ted Cruz. He is OUTFRONT next.
Plus, who is Dave Brat, and how much of his victory does he owe to a dukes of hazzard star? Cooter is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: A stunning political upset for the House majority leader last night, followed by a stunning announcement today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Now, while I intend to serve out my term as a member of Congress in the seventh district of Virginia, effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader. It is with great humility that I do so, knowing the tremendous honor it has been to hold this position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Eric Cantor outraised and outspent his virtually unknown Tea Party challenger that nobody thought would win. This was just a Republican congressional primary. But Cantor lost.
So, what does this mean for the future of the GOP?
Joining me now, Republican Congressman Peter King.
Congressman, I mean, this is a pretty shocking story. This has got to -- I mean, did this just shock you when you heard it?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It shocked me. It shocked everyone. I'm sure it shocked Eric, too. This really came out of nowhere.
I've been in politics for a long time. But I don't think anyone sensed this coming. And it just shows how unpredictable the business is and how often politics does not always have a happy ending.
BURNETT: Do you think his step do you think from the position of house majority leader on July 31st is the right move?
KING: I think it is. Eric realized, first of all, it is a legislative agenda for the next two months and it's important that Eric manage that and get through various bills that he has already lined up. But for us to be effective going into the fall campaign, I think it is important to have it a permanent leader in there. So, I give Eric credit. He did it voluntarily, entirely on his own. I think he felt it was better for the party, for him to finish up the business that is on the table right now.
And then as we go into, you know, Labor Day and the campaign, to have a new majority leader.
BURNETT: So, do you think it's time to throw in the towel and put in the most conservative person you can possibly find in the House, since that's what the election seemed to show?
KING: No, I don't think so. I think we have to wait for the full analysis. But this is one district. We can also look at Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell won big. We can look out in Idaho when Mike Simpson beat back a challenger by a large majority.
So, again, it's a mixed. I would say that one of the problems is when you're a leader such as Eric was, part of his job is to travel all over the country. And that keeps you out of your district.
BURNETT: All right. So you're being very diplomatic here. But this morning you said you can't allow Eric's defeat to allow the Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over the party. All right?
And Ted and Rand I'm sure are out there celebrating right now. Here is Senator Cruz earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The voters of Virginia have spoken loudly. And I think they have expressed a sentiment that is present across the country, which is that people are frustrated. They're frustrated with politicians in Washington in both parties who aren't listening to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. What he said there is absolutely true, right? I mean, that's a frustration that people have. How are you going to stop a Ted Cruz and a Rand Paul from rising in power now?
KING: Well, first of all, by showing that Ted Cruz, for instance, is a fraud. Last year, he induced the Congress to shut down the government, and after they did it, he couldn't deliver at all. Basically, he said if the House shut down the government, he would be able to deliver in the Senate the ending of Obamacare. He knew from the beginning this was a fraud yet he went ahead and did it.
To me, he is dangerous to the party as Rand Paul. We have someone running around saying he is afraid that the CIA is going to be killing people in Starbucks with drones. I mean, this is -- this is not the type of leadership we need.
The Republican Party, you talk about frustration, our numbers never went lower than after Ted Cruz led the shutdown last fall. He is the worst thing that can happen to the Republican Party.
People are frustrated. These are tough times. They need honest answer, honest leadership, not the medicine man type tactics of Ted Cruz.
BURNETT: But how are you going to stop him? KING: Well, I'm appearing with you tonight. What more can I
ask? I'm curious. I mean, I think it's important for Republicans to go out and go public, go on the media and not be intimidated by these guys, and stand up to them. I'm in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, as are most Republicans and most Republicans in the House.
And we can't allow ourselves to be intimidated by people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul who want to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
BURNETT: And when you say in that tradition, am I right in translating part of what you're saying is that means you compromise, that means you do a debt deal, if you don't like the premise. But you still do some kind of a deal. That you work with the other side.
KING: You have to. I mean, basically, when you fight for your principles as hard as you can. But the American people have elected a Republican House and a Democratic Senate. Our job is to govern.
And Ronald Reagan, he certainly made compromises. He compromised with Tip O'Neill when he had to. But at the end of Ronald Reagan's eight years, the country had moved significantly in the conservative direction.
You're never going to get 100 percent. You have to be realistic and you have to be honest with the American people. What the American people are really frustrated with is false promises, and nobody makes more false promises than Ted Cruz.
BURNETT: All right. Before we go, everyone is saying part of the reason Eric Cantor lost was because he was willing to compromise on immigration reform, specifically, an issue that makes a lot of people's eyes glaze over, but there may be no more important one for this country and for economic recovery. Does the loss of Eric Cantor based on immigration reform mean that that is completely dead?
KING: I think it certainly right now is on the back burner in the short-term. But also look at Lindsey Graham's race in South Carolina. He was much more aggressive on immigration reform than Eric was, and Lindsey won very big. Again, I think it could have been unique circumstances in Eric's district.
BURNETT: All right. We're going to talk about some of those circumstances with a Democratic, try to get Democrats to vote in this and whether that's a role, coming up. Thank you very much, Congressman King. Always good to talk to you.
KING: Erin, thank you.
BURNETT: I want to bring in Dana Bash, our political commentator -- of course, our chief Capitol Hill correspondent, along with political commentator and radio host Ben Ferguson, and the communications director for the Republican National Committee, Sean Spicer. Sean, I want to start with you, given what Peter King just said.
So, you have Peter King coming out and saying Ted Cruz is a fraud. You have -- this is what is going on in your party. Anger, nasty words. It's not a good conversation for the GOP.
SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I think we are a party that is growing and on the move. And we've got room for people like Peter King and people like Ted Cruz. I think the only way we're going to continue to grow as a party is if we have a lot of voices in the party that continue to reach out to different elements of Americans that are frustrated with what is going on in Washington, they want to grow the economy, that want to reduce the debt.
The one thing I would point out to you, Erin, and thing is important to sometimes take a step back and say, where are we?
SPICER: And it's this. I think regardless of what happened last night, it's a Republican district that will be held by a Republican. And we by all estimations right now we sit at 233 seats in the House of Representatives. The NRCC, our sister committee that is in charge, announced the drive for 245. We think we can get as many as 245 seats. And in the Senate, we're on the verge of taking that over from the Democrats.
So, with all the talk today about Eric Cantor, at the end of the day, we look at where we're headed as a party. It's growing in the House. It's growing in the Senate.
And I think that's a very positive sign for the party. So I would just argue that yes, there are some intraparty struggles that happen from time to time. But as Peter King pointed out correctly, this is one district. And I think we have to look at every district and say what was the specific deal, what were the specific instances within that. But look at the party as a large and we're continuing to grow our numbers in the House and the Senate.
BURNETT: Dana, what is interesting, though, Eric Cantor for a lot of people was not considered to be a moderate. All right. Eric Cantor was somebody who had flirted with the Tea Party a lot.
So, now, Eric Cantor is too moderate for -- to remain in Congress. It's a pretty incredible statement in some ways. And Peter King coming out and calling Ted Cruz a fraud is not the kind of thing we are used to hearing. This shows a level of frustration and anger on Capitol Hill that is new.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And look, I mean, Sean knows this. Democrats generally at least elected officials don't call each other frauds. They have divisions within their party, but they don't go that far.
Now, I know Sean will say this is a good thing because there is an active debate in the Republican Party. But it does speak to the big challenge. You said it, Erin. Eric Cantor is no liberal. He is no
moderate. He is really conservative, and for a very long time, up until maybe, you know, five minutes ago, he was really the liaison effectively between the leadership and the Tea Party. He was one of the people who tried to stop John Boehner from making a deal, a big fiscal deal, which I know you were really focused on because he was worried about what it would do to the right wing of the party.
So, it is very, very difficult. It's not just that. There is so much more, particularly the whole question of politics 101, going home.
BURNETT: Ben, does this mean the rise of the Tea Party is now a big story again? Because it was the death of the Tea Party a few months ago.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. But Ted Cruz didn't win last night. You had a guy that won against Eric Cantor. And the reason why he won is because Eric Cantor became too obsessed with being the next speaker of the House. And he forgot the core of being connected with your district.
And they didn't like the way they were being treated by him. He had a lot of staffers around him and a lot of people in the district that were very arrogant. They were very cocky. They were very condescending to any new member of Congress, especially hard-core conservatives. And that's why he lost his seat.
I mean, look at Peter King a moment ago. He didn't learn a darn thing from last night, which tells you why guys like him now are starting to lose control. It's because even when people are saying you're not paying attention to us, they come on TV and they mock their own colleagues. And that's why they're losing control of the base.
The Republican Party is growing. It's just Tea Party guys that are coming in. And these guys are going out.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, Sean, part of the reason they're mocking their -- the conservatives that are out there in their base is that in order to govern, you have to pass laws. And thanks in part to some in the Tea Party, laws aren't getting passed.
SPICER: Well, look, David Brat won last night, and he made it very clear that he campaigned as a Republican on Republican principles. That he had some Tea Party support. But he didn't think it was major groups coming in.
I think to Ben's point, he's right. It's getting back to your district, representing them. I think that there is frustration on both sides with what is and is not happening in Washington. That's going to be a big issue.
But I will say this. I don't mean to be off topic. But last night, one of the things that got overlooked, you want to talk about problems, I think we are growing. That's a fact. You look in Nevada, for example, a state that is a swing state controlled by the Majority Leader Harry Reid. None of the above won the Democratic primary there.
So, if I were a party coming out today, as the Democrats, and you look at some of the things that happened on their side that have been overshadowed today, the Democratic nominee for governor was none of the above. They actually have a choice there in Nevada. And that's who won the top spot in the Democratic nomination.
SPICER: So I sit back today and look and say, OK, who would I rather have that problem with? I think we're in a good spot. I'm more concerned about what is going on their side.
BURNETT: All right. Well, of course, that's your job to spin it like that as opposed to talking like the big divides on your side. So, a good effort there.
But, Dana, you were at Eric Cantor's press conference today. And you had an exchange and I want to play a little bit of that, and then elaborate on that. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: You personally, I'm sure you've done some reflecting in the past 24 hours. Do you think that maybe you spent too much time here with your job as leader tending to your rank and file and not tending to your constituents back home?
CANTOR: You know, I was in my district every week. So, there is a balance between holding a leadership position and serving constituents at home. But never was there a day did I not put the constituents of the seventh district of Virginia first, and I will continue to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Ben, what is the bottom line for the Tea Party?
FERGUSON: Yes. Well, the Tea Party needs to keep doing exactly what they're doing -- smile, grin, get grassroots out there, and go after any state that they feel someone is not paying attention in their district. And Eric Cantor is proof that you didn't even need money. The guy only had $200,000.
I mean, the article that summed it up for me was you had Eric Cantor spend almost $200,000 at two dinners at steak houses. And this guy's entire campaign was funded with $200,000. That should be the total story is that's how out of touch you are.
And Eric Cantor may have slept in his bed at his house in the district, but he didn't humble himself and go talk to the people that were disgruntled. He didn't go to the Kiwanis meetings. He didn't meet with the Tea Party people. He didn't meet with people who were upset with him, because he thought he was better than they were.
And they sent him packing. Everyone should take notice today like Peter King. If they don't, they're going to be in trouble too.
BASH: The one thing I will say to -- the one thing that I will say to that, just talking to Eric Cantor and his people today, is in his defense, he would argue it's not that he felt he was better than they were. It's that he had another big job here, which -- I mean, the irony of all ironies is that he wasn't down in his district on primary day. He was here in the capital, maybe it was a mistake. One of the things he was doing in the Washington area is having a fundraiser for other members of Congress.
He spent a lot of time doing the things you need to do as a leader, and that includes helping other members while in his backyard didn't do enough.
BURNETT: Thanks to all three of you.
And the question is, who took down Eric Cantor? Was it really rabid conservatives or, well, Democrats?
Plus, the guy dubbed the hot professor with a glowing hotness rating. Who is this new congressman?
And the most frightening elevator ride ever. Jeanne Moos explains what to do if it happens to you.
BURNETT: Now, let's check with Anderson with a look at what is coming up in a few minutes on "AC360".
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.
Yes, the president -- President Obama calls it a humanitarian crisis and not a crisis happening somewhere far away, a crisis here in the United States, children flooding across our southern border, fleeing what they say are violent conditions in their home countries in Central America, often being sent by their families. We send Gary Tuchman to the boarder to investigate.
Tonight, this report on how U.S. immigration officials are trying to deal with this huge influx of children. You might be surprised at where these kids wind up in places often very far from the border.
Also ahead tonight, keeping them honest. My interview with a Texas lawmaker who endorses a controversial so-called therapy known as reparative therapy, or gay conversion therapy, therapy that claims to turn gay people straight. It's a big claim, there is no scientific evidence it works. Now, the Texas GOP -- they've endorsed the practice.
Also, my conversation with the mother and sister of Joseph Wilcox, the hero of the shooting rampage in Las Vegas, the man who tried to stop the shooters in the Wal-Mart and lost his life doing so.
Those stories, and tonight's "Ridiculist", and a lot more at the top of the hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Anderson. Sounds great.
David versus Goliath. A little known professor defeats the second most powerful Republican in the House. Many are asking today, who is Dave Brat, the man who handed Eric Cantor the stunning defeat? Well, Joe Johns found out.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The surprise of the year in American politics was pulled off by a guy who did not expect to win.
DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is the happiest moment obviously of my life.
JOHNS: He was as unprepared for victory as he was for the tough questions. When asked about arming the rebels in Syria, this is how he responded.
BRAT: I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspect.
JOHNS: Following that sudden stumble, the candidate's two-person paid staff reversed plans for an afternoon news conference, saying instead they would issue a statement.
It was a chilly welcome to national politics for a college economics professor who has never held office. He teaches at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, the same school where his Democratic opponent is on the faculty. He will face Jack Trammell in the fall election.
His fundraising was dwarfed by Eric Cantor's. The majority leader raised and spent $5 million. Brat, only $200,000. That's about the same amount Cantor's campaign spent in steak houses according to "The New York Times."
What may have helped most was Cantor himself whose disconnect from the district led to his downfall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly wasn't very impressed.
JOHNS: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little too extremist, close minded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's kind of a lose-lose situation. I'm happy that Cantor lost. I'm not sure how happy about the guy that won.
JOHNS: While voters are still getting to know Dave Brat, some of his students have already weighed in. On a Web site called ratemyprofessors.com, he was rated with a glowing red chili pepper for good looks. One even called him "eye candy".
Joe Johns, CNN, Glen Allen, Virginia.
BURNETT: OK. At least one Democrat is claiming victory in Cantor's defeat, Cooter from the "Dukes of Hazzard". You heard me right, Ben Jones who starred in '80s sitcom is a former congressman from Georgia. He also ran for Congress in Virginia against Cantor in 2008. He lost that race but this year, he sent an open letter urging Democrats, independents and libertarians to cast a vote in Virginia's primary because it is an open primary.
He wrote, "Under Cantor's majority leadership, the Congress has sunk to its lowest standing in history. This is not a laughing matter. It's a national crisis. Eric Cantor should not be rewarded with another term."
The former congressman joins me now.
Good to have you with us, sir. Appreciate you're taking the time.
So, let me just ask you -- a little more than 10 percent of the electorate voted. I mean, this was -- you could basically, you had to pay people to go to the polls. Brat, 36,000 votes. Cantor, 29,000. Do you think your message helped Brat win?
BEN "COOTER" JONES, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Yes, this was -- what defeated Eric Cantor was hubris. You know, the great (INAUDIBLE), hubris. He got above his raisin. He got too big for his britches and treated a Republican candidate, an earnest and sincere guy like David Brat as if he was a radical Democrat leftist or something.
And it was -- it brought him down. I think people looked at him and said, you know, we -- he's been on the job too long. But it was a coalition. David Brat gets all the credit for taking it on. Yes, amazing, amazing thing that he did.
BURNETT: I mean, I'm curious though because people are trying to determine is this a sign of the rise of the far right or is it something else? And, you know --
JONES: Erin, this was a coalition. I said that. Everybody was -- the Republican Party, mainstream Republicans, if such exists, moderate Republicans, independents, libertarians, Tea Party, everybody got in there and just got rid of this guy.
It was an open primary, but it was to the general election. Whoever won that election was going to be the congressman. So, Democrat had to get over there. It's legal to do so. It's their right to do so and help out.
BURNETT: I should note turnout was higher in the Republican precincts. So, it's unclear who exactly voted. But before we go, let me ask you this -- you were in Congress at
a time when people worked together. Now, that's become a dirty word. And by bringing someone even further to the right, you may have fewer laws out of Washington. Is that really a win?
JONES: No. I think that's a silly, silly statement really, Erin. Come on. These people are polarized, obviously. The system is broken. It's gone. It's not representing the American people. It represents a coalition of special interests on the left and a coalition and special interests on the right, and they think they know everything there is and is pulling this country apart.
And nobody in the news media, not this program, not any of the networks, any of the talking heads, the pundits, the pollsters, the people in the national committees or the parties, nobody gave this guy a chance. This was a victory for the people.
And as a hopeful sign that maybe people can work together and create a way to move this country ahead.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Ben "Cooter" Jones joining us there, former congressman from Georgia, who had run against Eric Cantor.
Still to come, it's every elevator passenger's worst nightmare. And Jeanne Moos is next.
BURNETT: It's ever elevator passenger's worst nightmare. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elevators may lift our bodies, but not our spirits.
Doors seem like jaws, unexplained noises.
Worry us, we freak out at the idea of being trapped like the Manhattan office worker who spent almost two days sleeping on a floor and relieving himself by prying open the doors as we he waited to be discovered.
But nothing is more terrifying at what happened to this man in Chile, as the doors closed and opened and the elevator started to zoom upwards. He desperately started pushing buttons. The elevator shot up 31 floors in 15 seconds and then it hit. Chilean media report Jose Vergara Acebedo (ph) was in the hospital with serious leg and head injuries. Could they have been less serious?
(on camera): What goes through your mind when you see that video with the doors opened whizzing up?
DENNIS OLSON, ELEVATOR AND ESCALATOR EXPERT: One, you have had a catastrophic failure. Two, you need to prepare for it. MOOS (voice-over): Dennis Olson has been in the elevator
business for 30 years, as a repairman, inspector and consultant -- the perfect man to answer the question people are posing online. "What am I supposed to do if I was in that situation?" "My first thought would be to lay down flat. Would it help much?"
OLSON: Get yourself in a seated, kind of a tucked position. Cover your head, get in the far back corner of this thing.
MOOS (on camera): You basically assume the crash position as you would in an airplane staying as far away from the door as possible.
(voice-over): Protecting yourself from the dropped ceiling that disintegrated on impact.
(on camera): I saw some people speculating that maybe you could time some jump for when you hit.
OLSON: It's not going to help you.
MOOS: Most of us imagine an elevator plummeting down rather than skyrocketing up.
(voice-over): But free fall up is as likely as down, though both are very rare.
OLSON: I cannot emphasize highly enough, stay in the elevator, wait for safety personnel to come get you.
MOOS: Don't even think about pulling a Tom Cruise, wait for that fireman's leg to dangle down. In the event of free fall --
OLSON: I'm going to get in the corner and curl up.
MOOS: Pretty much do what they used to tell kids to do in case of atomic bomb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bomb. Duck and cover.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Terrifying. Anderson starts now.