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Never Too Old to Graduate; Flesh-Eating Bacteria Attacks Woman; Shelling, Raids and Shooting in Syria; "Avengers" to Top $1 Billion; Candidate's High School Actions
Aired May 13, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Top of the hour here we're going to begin with this President Barack Obama gave churches plenty of material for sermons today. Black churches in particular are having issues with his support for same-sex marriage -- some black churches I should say and some pastors are backing the President. Others are pulling their support altogether.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. EMMETT BURNS, RISING SUN BAPTIST CHURCH: I love the President, but I cannot support what he's got started.
REV. DR. WALLACE CHARLES SMITH: We've got some larger challenges that we've got in trouble with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Republicans made their position clear today. RNC Chair Reince Priebus told NBC that he doesn't think same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, but some renowned black leaders like the Reverend Joseph Lowery disagrees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JOSEPH LOWERY, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: You can marry without the church.
LOWERY: You can marry without religion.
LOWERY: Spiritual of course within the context of the faith, we do marry, but -- but it's a civil issue. And you can marry and divorce without the church.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You should know that Reverend Lowery along with the Reverend Al Sharpton and others sent President Obama in a open letter supporting his stance on same-sex marriage.
Congress is getting involved in the prostitution scandal that has caused nine Secret Service employees to lose their job. The Homeland National Security will hold a hearing on May 23rd. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan will testify along with acting Inspector General Charles Edwards. Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman tells CNN he wants some answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (I), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY: Is the Inspector General satisfied with the investigation of what happened in Cartagena that the Secret Service did?
Secondly, were there indications before the Colombian scandal of behavior by Secret Service agents off duty on assignment? There should have been a warning that this was coming.
And then third, what are you going to do, Director Sullivan, to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The scandal erupted last month just before President Obama's trip to the summit of the America's in Colombia.
The CEO's of Yahoo was caught patting his resume and now he is out of the job. Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson left the company today. He only got the post in January. Thompson's official bio stated that he held two degrees in both accounting and computer science, but it turns out his only degree is in accounting. An activist shareholder group called Third Point, uncovered the discrepancy just over a week ago.
Now I want to go to Northern Mexico where police have found 49 bodies left along a highway. Some were decapitated and dismembered, believed to be done to conceal their identities. Police say this is not an attack on civilians but violence between violent drug cartels.
A cease fire that doesn't seem to be working forces Syrians to flee Syrians to flee for safety. CNN's Anderson Cooper has a rare look inside a refugee camp just across the Syrian border.
How far back into a politicians past is fair game? High school? Apparently it's -- it is when it comes to Mitt Romney.
LEMON: There's almost no way any parent can even imagine this, watching as a flesh-eating bacteria ravages your child. It is a reality for the Copeland family as they watch 24-year-old Amy put up with the fight of her life tonight. Her life and their own turned completely upside down just twelve days ago. That's when Amy and some of her friends went to the little -- Tallapoosa River about 50 miles outside of Atlanta and Amy was on a homemade zip line when it snapped and she gashed her leg. And -- and that's when a violent bacteria enter her body.
Since then she has lost a leg and part of her abdomen to the tissue- destroying bacteria. And joining me now to talk about this is Amy's father, his name is Andy Copeland. Thank you, sir. How are you doing?
ANDY COPELAND, FATHER OF FLESH-EATING VICTIM: Actually, we're holding up very well here.
LEMON: Yes. You've been writing about this and we know you have been by Amy's side throughout this horrific ordeal. So you're holding up. How is she doing?
COPELAND: You know, she's amazingly resilient. We -- we dos see her, she actually does communicate with us through a series of head shakes and nods. We just basically kind of have to also do a little bit lip reading. So she's actually holding up very well. She of course, is medicated throughout the -- throughout this period. And you know occasionally she would remember things, sometimes she won't. But I think that's just the process of the medication.
LEMON: Ok. So she lost a leg, part of her abdomen. She is fighting. You said she's medicated. And she -- and just to breathe is really hard for her. But because of this bacteria, she may also lose her hands and her remaining foot, but she doesn't know that yet and you're not telling her?
COPELAND: Well, you know, no, we haven't. Probably if we were to tell her, she would probably forget it by the time she woke up the next day. I understand, you know, that -- in fact, I believe when the time comes, it will be revealed. I really am leaving to the experts here, leaning on the experts to let them make the determination for when the time is right.
COPELAND: But -- and there will -- there are some good therapy here through. They have a psychiatrist on staff, there's good support groups and I have every confidence that Amy will be able to overcome this.
LEMON: Yes and at this point it's really not necessary. Why even add that extra degree of burden on her? She's already in pain.
LEMON: You -- you've been chronicling your daughter's fight with posts on line and you're coming down to what you are calling "Amy Day".
LEMON: Tell us about it.
COPELAND: Well, I believe Amy Day is the day that we get to hear Amy speak. To me Amy Day is the day that they pull the -- the tube out of her -- out of her chest and -- and basically she is allowed to breathe on her own.
When her lungs are fully repaired and healed, I think that's just a day that we can all join together and rejoice because that's really the first step toward -- I think what I would -- I would call full recovery.
There still are obstacles that remain. She will still probably remain on dialysis for a while, and the kidneys are the last thing to recover is my understanding. But -- but her lungs healing is just the major step for us and it's something we want to rejoice about. And I told her the other night when -- when you're -- when they pull this thing out, we're going to celebrate that day forever for the rest of your life.
And we're going to call it Amy Day and it's going to be a day that -- it's going to be like a birthday. Because I believe that it's a -- it's the day that my daughter was delivered from this -- this horrible, horrible disease.
LEMON: Mr. Copeland, we are -- our thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and with Amy. Thank you for joining us, ok?
COPELAND: Thank you.
In other news now CNN's Anderson Cooper is on the Turkish-Syrian border. He spent the day in two refugee camps and described the despair he heard in the voices of those who fled the violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many people you talk to and refugees feel that -- that they have been forgotten by the international community, that -- that not enough attention has been paid to what -- to what's happening in Syria.
And you know, you go to these camps and just about everybody, every family has lost some members of their family. They show you pictures and the bodies of their children who were killed in demonstrations or killed in the fighting. It's obviously a really disturbing and difficult thing to witness and you they are just hoping that that attention continues to be paid and tensions grows on -- on the situation inside Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Monday night, CNN's Anderson Cooper reports live from the Middle East on the turmoil in Syria. Make sure you watch AC360 live from the Syrian border with Turkey. CNN Monday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
We need a hero and we have several to choose from. "The Avengers" going where no movie has gone before; it has raked in a record amount of cash. You won't believe it. We'll tell you, though.
LEMON: No hammer, no shield and certainly no Hulk could stop "The Avenger" team from breaking box office records this weekend.
Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and the rest of the gang are on track to break a massive record. "The Avengers" is slated to top -- get this -- $1 billion in sales worldwide this weekend. That's billion -- "b" with a b. The super hero flick had the highest box office debut of all time. Now it's time to start planning the sequel. And that is a lot of dough.
Bush, Clinton, Obama -- they all had admittedly questionable moments in their past, but should something a presidential candidate did in high school matter 50 years later?
But first this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDA BUTTS, CNN Hero of the Week: Josh went to spend the night with friends. I had no clue that they were coming to Bird Lake. Right about here is where Josh was, where the raft capsized, and he went down. It's very hard for me to believe that just like that, my son had drowned and he was gone.
My father, he instilled in us the fear of water, so I in turn didn't take my son around water. Children don't have to drown.
My name is Wanda Butts. I save lives by providing swimming lessons and water safety skills.
African-American children are three times more likely to drown than white children.
That's why we started the Josh Project (ph) to educate families about the importance of being water safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a ring buoy, throw it right at a victim.
BUTTS: Many parents, they don't know how to swim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was afraid of the water. He was the first in our family to learn how to swim. And he's come a long way, from not liking water in his face to getting ducked under.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you like it? All right.
BUTTS: I'm so happy to see that so many of them have learned how to swim.
Good job. That's one life we saved.
It takes me back to Josh and how the tragedy was turned into triumph and it makes me happy.
CROWD: Josh Project.
BUTTS: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Plenty of issues could be considered deal breakers when it comes to voting for a president: their stance on the economy, religion, education. But just how relevant are presidential candidates' actions in high school? Jason Carroll takes a look.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitt Romney, like candidates before him, finds himself in hot water for something that took place far in his past. He says he doesn't remember the incident, but acknowledges he was not a perfect teenager.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did some stupid things when I was in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.
CARROLL: The apology, coming after the "Washington Post" broke the story of Romney's antics decades ago when he and his friends are alleged to have pinned down another student who was presumed to be gay and cut off his hair while the boy cried.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't think anybody is going to blame him, you know, for something that happened in high school in the '60s. But his response was very weaseley (ph), and it fits into suspicion that people have of him.
CARROLL: Romney is certainly not the first presidential candidate cited for, shall we say, youthful indiscretions.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were times where I, you know, got into drinking and experimented with drugs.
CARROLL: President Obama told this classroom about his drug use and also talked about it in his autobiography "Dreams of My Father". President Bill Clinton acknowledged his own marijuana use while studying at Oxford at this debate.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and I never tried it again.
CARROLL: For former President George W. Bush, the issue was excessive drinking in his college years. Later Bush admitted to being arrested for DUI when he was 30 years old. He overcame the incident by saying he quit drinking and was born again.
JULIAN ZELIZER, PRICETON: Bush used those stories to his advantages by saying he had progressed. He had evolved and he had redeemed himself.
CARROLL: Should a presidential candidate like Romney be judged for bullying another student in high school? Should that have any bearing on his moral guidance now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't subscribe to the philosophy of, you know, boys will be boys or in high school we all do wild things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bullying is a very (inaudible) issue, but I don't think what someone does in high school forms him as an adult. You have to have the whole total of the personality.
ZELIZER: Many people are very forgiving. We forget the electorate is human. And they know bullies who've turned out to be ok. They know people who they used drugs in their youth but were fine, upstanding citizens when they're older.
CARROLL (on camera): The bottom line for candidate often boils down to how they handle the situation. If other incidents arise, it could end up dogging the candidate, but more often than not, voters just seem to forgive and forget.
Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
LEMON: All right. Let's talk more politics right now. We're going to talk about that story as well and this one. "Newsweek" calling the President, the nation's "first gay president". But a week ago, he was still evolving, so what happened?
I want to bring in now Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, Maria Cardona; and Crystal Wright, the editor of conservativeblackchick.com.
Ok. Crystal, before we talk about that magazine cover. What do you make -- do you think 50 years ago, should someone be judged by that?
CRYSTAL WRIGHT, EDITOR, CONSERVATIVEBLACKCHICK.COM: By their high school years?
WRIGHT: No. I mean it was 50 years ago. Romney was how old? And I think it's all too curious that the people who accused him of this hazing are all Democrats. We don't really know the circumstance around it, but I mean like I said before, what's next? We're going to go back in utero on people?
LEMON: Good. Short answer -- that's a good short answer. The thing is, I'm not sure it's just Democrats because a lot of people are --
WRIGHT: Come on.
WRIGHT: Well, then, in the article it was Democrats.
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So I don't think that this is going to be a defining moment for Romney, but it is suspicious the way that he answered the question. And I do think that it adds to something about Romney in terms of lacking principle, lacking courage.
You know, this is an incident that, frankly --
LEMON: All right. I wanted a short answer. Short answers --
WRIGHT: Come on.
LEMON: Short answers -- we have a lot to get to. So once I get the point, I hate to cut you off, people say I cut people off, but once I get the point, there is no need to belabor it so that's why I jump in.
CARDONA: Got it.
LEMON: All right. So I understand what you're saying and I think you do make a good point when you say his answer. There was something a little odd about his answer.
Wait -- you don't remember that incident? Ok. I don't care what you did, but if you're going to answer it, answer it in a way that you seem to own it.
LEMON: Not that you are (inaudible) not sure.
LEMON: Ok. So Crystal, last week you were here with Goldie Taylor and you said this about President Obama. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: I think the reason why President Obama is not taking a position is we know that most black Americans who voted, 95 percent of them voted for President Obama in 2008 --
WRIGHT: -- most black Americans do not support same-sex marriage, most Hispanics and Latinos do not. The country, even moderate Democrats are divided on this topic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ok, Crystal? I think he heard you. So what do you say now?
WRIGHT: You know it's great that the President finally made a decision after three and a half years of evolving. It's kind of like am I pregnant or am I not pregnant? So he came out for same-sex marriage, but I think it was a wring mistake because 60 percent of African-Americans oppose it compared to 41 percent. Like I said before they voted overwhelming for him and they're rethinking their choice.
And many Hispanics -- Maria will have a different poll for this -- don't -- you know, Proposition 8 was put on the ballot in California. It was Hispanics and blacks who were really responsible for putting it over the edge and banning same-sex marriage in California.
LEMON: You know what; there is some disagreement about that, Crystal, whether or not it was blacks. I'm not sure about Latinos. That may have been over-reported. Anyway again --
WRIGHT: I think it was about 60 percent Latinos voted in California.
LEMON: Maria, is this going to hurt him? What's going to be more important, do you think, to black and Latino voters? Being a good Christian -- and I pose this question with an "or" -- supporting the first African-American President of the United States?
CARDON: Well, I actually think Don, it's going to be the economy. And because it's going to be the economy, they're going to support the person that they believe has the best economic policies. And guess what; so far we've seen that they believe that person is Barack Obama. And that's not going to change.
I do believe that for African-Americans, and I've seen a lot of folks and one just on your program, Don, a pastor basically saying, a reverend, that this is not something that he believes that black Americans will take away their support from this President, even though they might disagree with him on this issue.
Latinos are the same. In fact, a poll shows that Latinos overwhelmingly support equality of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. But again, the economy is the number one issue.
LEMON: Crystal, did you hear --
WRIGHT: But equality is not the same as going to a poll and voting for same-sex marriage. What we know is when 30 states have put it on the ballot, guess what; every time the American people, you know, which includes Hispanics and black Americans and white Americans vote it down. They vote against same-sex marriage. It doesn't matter what the President thinks.
CARDONA: That's very different than -- perception --
LEMON: Listen -- I've got less than 30 seconds in the show so, you guys have to stop. Thank you. I'm not sure though that that's going to stop anyone from going to the polls and voting.
WRIGHT: Many black Americans are saying they're not going -- they're going to stay at home, Don.
LEMON: Crystal that's not going to stop them.
WRIGHT: That's not true.
LEMON: That is not going to stop them. Trust me --
CARDON: They're never going to stay at home.
LEMON: -- that won't stop them.
WRIGHT: Well, we'll see.
LEMON: I don't know if he's going to win, but that won't stop black people from voting. Thank you, guys. We'll see you next time. Great conversation.
CARDONA: Thank you Don.
LEMON: I'm Don Lemon, CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here at 10:00 p.m. Bye.