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AMERICAN MORNING

Focus on South Carolina; Calling a Truce; Clinton, Obama Ease Race Fight; Merrill Gets Boost; Oil Price Warning; Missing on Mount Hood

Aired January 15, 2008 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Start 'em up. Voters take to the polls in Michigan. The most politics in the morning is on the road. Our team taking on the issues that matter most.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't go into church or into the grocery store without meeting somebody who is having a hard time.

CHETRY: Plus, a fragile truce.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We share the same goals.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are family.

CHETRY: Can they really get along? We're live from Michigan and New York on this special election edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome. It is January 15th. It is Tuesday, primary day in Michigan. This is a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry in New York. Hi, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Roberts live from Michigan. You don't have a sense when you are outside of Michigan of just how tough it is until you come to a place like this, the National Coney Island Diner and talk to folks. Just about everybody we've m met here is laid off, has been laid off, is either leaving the state. One fellow here has been in charge of laying off people and is really upset about it. It's a real indication of how tough things are here in Michigan and how important to them this primary election is.

The polls are now open. It's primary day. The republicans are battling out. The democrats not competing here because they are protesting Michigan moving up its primary day earlier than the February 5th date set by the Democratic National Committee. We're just north of Detroit in Mccomb County which is famous as the home of the original Reagan democrats, often bellwether when it comes to electing a president.

For all the talk across the nation about Iraq and immigration the economy is the issue here. You see, Michigan has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the nation at 7.4%. Mitt Romney counting on his native state to rev up his expensive campaign that's so far gotten off to a slow start. We'll be talking one on one with him about his plan to bring Michigan back.

Just across the street, the General Motors Technical Center, the auto industry, as well as the economy on the ropes here, both big issues for voters. This morning, CNN's Ali Velshi and Gerri Willis are here focusing on the economic slump and we've got two hometown boys with us as well. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is looking at health care issues important to Michigan voters and Chris Lawrence, who was born and raised in Detroit, spent some time with families here talking about what issues matter to them most. We'll be hearing from them throughout the course of this hour. But right now, back to New York and here's Kiran.

CHETRY: You might notice something missing there, John. It's the democratic candidates not in Michigan today. They are actually Michigan moved up its primary. That was against what the DNC okayed and so now the only top-tier candidate on the ballot for the candidates in Michigan is Hillary Clinton. Instead, they are focused on South Carolina. And the talk now is the apparent truce between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, toning down some of that rhetoric over race. African-Americans made up nearly half of the voters four years ago in South Carolina.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is live in Charleston. What are both sides saying about this so-called truce between the camps?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. We'll see if that truce actually lasts. I've been talking to insiders from both camps. And they really say they feel this issue of race has gotten out of control. That they have called this kind of informal truce that happened late last night. They figured that this is really something this tit-for-tat, this war of words was diminishing both of the candidates and ultimately that it would hurt the Democratic Party. It would hurt both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In this last round in the war of words, it was the former B.E.T. founder, CEO Bob Johnson who seemed to allude to the acknowledged drug use of Barack Obama as a young man. He then seemed to step back from those comments. I talked to him last night about this. He essentially said he stands by his words. He spoke separate from the Clinton campaign, but he also said it brings up this issue of what is off limits when it comes to looking at the distinctions, looking at these two candidates. That is what these two camps are talking about. Certainly, they have decided that race is off limits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I may disagree with Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We're all democrats. We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights. We all believe that regardless of race or gender, that people should have equal opportunity.

CLINTON: We may differ on minor matters, but when it comes to what is really important, we are family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: I thought it was really interesting hearing Reverend Al Sharpton on the show earlier saying he wants to hear the meat, the substance, the steak, not the sizzle talking about the issues. It's going to be really interesting to talk to South Carolina voters and see whether or not this really made that much of a difference, an impression on them or whether or not they'll be listening to the words of the policies, the plans that really matter to folks. Whether it's health care or education, getting a good job, those types of things. We'll see how long this truce lasts, Kiran.

CHETRY: It is interesting. Sharpton went on to say he felt that the Clintons' comments were a bit politicized. He also called it old news. We'll see if that's the case. As we said, South Carolina is a state with a sizable African-American population. What are the campaigns doing there to try to get African-American voters to vote for them?

MALVEAUX: Certainly, they've been here on the ground for quite some time for months on end. We saw and we attended the rally, the huge rally with Obama and Oprah Winfrey, obviously trying to get not only the black vote but also whites as well. It's pretty much a 50/50 split here. There are already some really interesting things happening. We're seeing divisions among older voters, younger voters. But really they have been working the churches. They've been working the salons. They've been working the malls trying to get really key endorsements but also trying to reach out to those new young voters, as we know, worked well in the past for Obama. We'll see whether or not that voter turnout, the operations from both those camps is going to pay off here. And we can't forget John Edwards who has been also working very, very hard here to make sure that his candidacy remains a viable one. And this is a key state for him as well. Kiran?

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.

And as we were talking, Suzanne and I just now, we were talking about the Reverend Al Sharpton's comments about the Obama/Clinton feud. In the last hour, he told me it's a distraction from what he and he believes voters, really want to hear from the candidates.

REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I think the real point is that Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards are all running to fill Lyndon Johnson's shoes, not Dr. King. And what I want to hear is how will they do that? Where is their great society or John Kennedy's new frontier? What will they do about racial disparity? What will they do about the gap in income? What will they do specifically about the criminal justice system's gap? And I think that we've got to bring this from the truce that I'm glad to hear to now the content of how will you complement the 21st century civil rights movement.

CHETRY: Reverend Sharpton would not criticize Clinton's comments and says he has yet to back a candidate. John?

ROBERTS: Breaking news this morning, Kiran, about Citigroup. Talk of job cuts and more mortgage debt write-offs. Ali Velshi joins me with more on that and a little clarification from information we had earlier.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The numbers are huge. We're looking at a write-down at Citigroup of about $18 billion. We're looking at a loss of close to $10 billion. And we're looking at a cut in the dividend of $41 billion. We had a slightly higher -- 41%, I'm sorry. I am so used to these billion dollars. We had an earlier report of a higher write-down number. It's a mathematical thing whether it's a loss or write-down. For most people, you're not accountants out there. The point here is that it's huge. We thought we were done with this. Now these numbers have come out that show Citigroup is still in trouble from loan losses and from these mortgages sold into the investment market that were supposed to be great investments all the way down the line and when the underlying mortgage holder wasn't able to pay those bills, that's where the investment banks are paying the price for this. A big cash infusion as well for Citigroup. $12.5 billion. Some by investment arms of overseas countries.

Also, Merrill Lynch, $6.6 billion investment announced this morning, also by other countries. The Kuwaiti Investment Authority is one of those countries investing in Merrill Lynch.

So this problem that we've been reporting on for a long time, again, don't worry about the details. The big picture here is that companies and banks in America are still reeling from all of this. A point you made earlier, the fact is these overseas investment companies are willing to continue to invest in U.S. banks which means in the long term, they see them as a good investment. If you are investing in the banks, that's something to think about.

ROBERTS: Whether it's 18 or $22 billion, there's a lot of money between the two. Is the more important figure perhaps not the idea they are cutting the dividend by 41%? This is one of those stocks you buy not because it will accrue a lot but because you get the solid dividend.

VELSHI: Many people invest in the shares of Citibank directly. Many people invest in them through their IRA or 401(k). That dividend cut is a very big deal. Many people, particularly those as they get older, who invest in stocks because they return a dividend. When a cut like this comes, you can see pressure on the stock. People are going to say, we need something safer.

ROBERTS: A lot of people take that in retirement as income. Ali Velshi, thanks very much for that. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Guys, thanks.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Iraq right now arriving overnight. She's meeting with Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki saying the reconciliation is moving along "quite remarkably," pointing to a new law that allows for former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to reclaim government jobs or pensions.

And President Bush this morning speaking from Saudi Arabia wanting the Saudis to use some of their influence at next month's oil meeting to bring down the price of oil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. GEORGE BUSH, UNITED STATES: Oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy. And that, I would hope as OPEC considers different production that they understand that if they are one of the biggest consumers, the economy suffers. It will mean less oil and gas sold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Apparently a response, according to the Associated Press. Saudi's oil minister said that Saudi Arabia will raise oil production only when the market justifies it saying "our interest is to keep oil supplies matching demand with minimum volatility in the oil market."

There's some growing concern for two climbers who may be missing on Mt. Hood in Oregon. They did not return as planned from a climb yesterday. And it's a blizzard on the mountain right now. Their families say the men have not been answering their cell phone and have no idea whether or not they are safe. Search and rescue teams are now being put together to look for them.

Rob Marciano is here in New York. He's tracking extreme weather for us as well. That's a tough situation when you are deal with getting up on a mountain, knowing there's a possibility of a blizzard and then becoming stuck.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know it's deja vu all over again. This happened last December where three hikers, climbers, went missing there and unfortunately, the end result was not good for those. So hopefully it will be a different scenario. The weather looks good for Oregon as they continue that search today for sure.

Big time snow across the northeast. Not so much here in New York but certainly parts of northern New England. Look at the snow totals. Impressive amounts. Lambert Lake, these are out of Maine 16 inches, Ellsworth, 13.8 and Bangor, 12.3 inches. So a foot of snow there. A foot of snow in spots in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts. Boston got about seven inches in Boston proper in Logan. You go inland and get higher amounts, of course.

Let's show you what's going on in the great lakes; 20s, teens and cold air moving in from the north. We do have some snow, a snow advisory out for eastern, lower parts of Michigan. If you are going out to the polls today, be aware of that.

Also, watching a system developing across the south that will bring potentially some ice across parts of the Carolinas and north Georgia. Speaking of ice, do we have time for this quick shot of this sun dog? All right. Maybe in the next half an hour.

CHETRY: I want that shot to be shown because I want you to tell us what a sun dog is. That was a really cool shot.

MARCIANO: Maybe in a half an hour.

CHETRY: Can you draw me a picture?

MARCIANO: This would be an ice crystal. This would be your compact. It would reflect how sun is refracted. Maybe your lipstick. This could be a cylindrical -- this is absolutely -- John Roberts leaves and this place is an absolute disaster.

CHETRY: It's very girlie. We don't normally have as much lipstick on the set.

MARCIANO: Well, that's mine, actually.

CHETRY: One is for me, one is for Rob. I'm not saying anything. All right. We'll show the sun dog picture for you in a couple of minutes. Thanks, Rob.

Still ahead, actor Dennis Quaid talking to the media for the first time about the health care involving his infant twins. He's going to tell you why he says that Cedars-Sinai really dropped the ball and possibly put his children's lives at risk and did not tell his wife and him the truth about what was going on.

Also, a blockbuster new study that affects millions of Americans. There were new questions about a popular cholesterol drug. Does it really do what it's supposed to? We're paging Dr. Gupta. He has the answers next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife are speaking out publicly for the first time since their twin babies had a major health scare. Their twins were given an overdose of a blood thinner heparin. They're OK now but Quaid says Cedars-Sinai Hospital didn't tell him about the overdose, even when he called to check on the children. The Quaids are not suing the hospital but they feel betrayed that information about their children's condition was leaked to the media.

And a stunning new study out this morning about a popular cholesterol drug. We're paging Dr. Gupta for more on Vytorin. What are we talking about here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Vytorin is a combination of Zocor, which is a statin drug and Zetia, another medication to reduce cholesterol. There's a lot of hope behind this. You've probably seen the ads on television because it works in two ways. Statins block the production of cholesterol in the liver and Zetia blocks the absorption from the intestines. But the stunning part is it seemed to have no significant different effect on overall plaque growth in the arteries. Specifically the corroded arteries. Does it actually reduce plaque? Relatively small study and a couple of caveats here. All those patients they were talking about had hereditary problem with cholesterol. So very high levels of cholesterol. Two, they were already treated with a statin drug as well. So not the best group to study but still some interesting findings. ROBERTS: We should point out to some people may not be familiar with it that plaque is that artery clogging deposit that gets in there and can block arteries, lead to heart attack, stroke or whatever. So what should people do who are on Vytorin? Should they stop taking it? Talk to your doctor?

GUPTA: The bigger question here ultimately for the average person is, is this medication going to prevent me from having a heart attack or stroke down the line. The answer is, we don't know the answer to that question right now. We know it's good at lowering cholesterol. Not so good at stopping plaque formation. Larger studies will need to be done in terms of figuring out, does it still prevent heart attacks and stroke. Don't just stop it. Never stop any medication cold turkey. Talk to your doctor about whether just a statin medication like Zocor or Lipitor or Crestor may be a better option. These statin medications seem to do something else besides just lowering cholesterol. They may reduce inflammation in the blood stream that can cause some of this plaque. That's something they'll study.

ROBERTS: The overall effect would be reduced when you have these drugs in combination.

GUPTA: You would think it would be reversed. That's why we do studies. We were surprised by the answers.

ROBERTS: Thankfully we have you looking out for us out there. Sanjay, thanks. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's the subject on the minds of most voters in Michigan. The economy. What can be done to stop the state's downward economic spiral? Gerri Willis will be joining us with a look at the middle class meltdown.

Also, it's supposed to be a place for friends, but it's attracting a lot of sexual predators as well. Myspace. Now there is a new effort being launched in most states to try to crack down. Will it work? Sunny Hostin is going to join us to break it down in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, better late than never? Maybe not. Britney Spears showing up for a crucial child custody hearing, missing the chance to persuade a judge to restore her rights to visit her two young sons. She arrived at the courthouse yesterday amid a slew of paparazzi, of course. Then she got back into her car and left because of the flurry of activity out there and then later left again without entering the building. Eyewitnesses say she shouted, I'm scared. I'm going in the car. Ex-husband Kevin Federline now retains sole legal custody and physical custody of the two boys indefinitely. There's another hearing scheduled for February 19th.

And Sunny Hostin, by the way, our legal analyst, joins us to talk about it. It seems like a circus every time. Aren't there alternative plans that can be made in these types of situations where this type of testimony can be heard maybe from a video conference?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, of course. There are ways that a defendant or plaintiff or any party can go through the courthouse through the back door. But what's interesting here is what I think everyone is forgetting is the standard for taking care of these custody cases. What is in the best interest of the child? What is in the best interest of these two children? Right now, this judge found it's in the best interest for them not to have any contact with their mother. I think what's been very interesting to me at least is Kevin Federline said that what is in the best interest of these is that they are parented by both. I'm hoping that's where this will go because that's the legal standard here no one seems to be talking about.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Another case that got our attention. We've been talking about it over the past few months is Myspace coming to an agreement with attorneys general of 49 different states to enact new ways to try to protect children from online predators. Will this work? Is this practical? And what exactly are they trying to do?

HOSTIN: I think what they really are trying to do is protect children and I think it is a step in the right direction. The protection of children is my passion. I spent a lot of my career doing that. And what I think a lot of parents don't know and a lot of viewers don't know is Myspace has been the beginning and end for child predators. We're seeing pornography crimes take place. Harassment, online threats and you know we've covered cyberbulling and identity theft and Myspace has been sort of the ground for that. I think it's certainly a step in the right direction.

What's incredibly important is that now sex offender data is going to be merged. But I have to say, why not, Kiran? Why not allow only 18-year-olds to be on Myspace? Let them sign on. Pay $1, pay $2. Use a credit card, much like pornography websites. I'm not saying pornography websites and Myspace are the same but much like pornography websites are monitored, I don't see why you can't go that far with Myspace. That's why the Texas attorney general said I'm not sign on. This has not gone far enough. Again, I think it's a step in the right direction because we're seeing crimes committed on Myspace and predators on Myspace but let's go a little bit further.

CHETRY: So you think no one under the age of 18 should even be allowed to be on Myspace?

HOSTIN: I don't think so. Why can't kid do what kids usually do, meet each in school, call, call on the telephone. Set up a play date. 14 years old is the minimum age for Myspace. I remember being 14. It may have been a long time ago, but 14 years old is pretty young to be social networking on a website.

CHETRY: All we did was burn up the phone lines before the days of call waiting, right?

HOSTIN: Sneaking under the bed, under the covers trying to make phone calls.

CHETRY: Have times changed. Sunny Hostin, thank you.

HOSTIN: My pleasure.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: All right, Kiran. Here's a big question for you today. How do you amass millions of dollars on a salary of just $11 an hour? We're going to talk to a man who did just that. Then what did he do? Gave most of the money away.

And inside the issues on the minds of many Michigan voters, many still out of work after being laid off from the auto industry. Do they think any of the candidates can help them out? Our Chris Lawrence joins us with that just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Sun comes up late here in Michigan in the far western side of the eastern time zone, through much of the winter it doesn't come up at all. Those slate gray skies, that's what you see over the city of Detroit this morning. Looking across the Detroit River. You can see, some snow on the ground, thanks to our friends at WDIV in Detroit for providing that picture for us. And back inside here at the National Coney Island Diner. Coney Island, a very popular brand here in --

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Chili dogs.

ROBERTS: John Roberts here along with Chris Lawrence as we bring you a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING from Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit. It is primary day here, Tuesday, the 15th of January. Thanks for being with us. Hey, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: I was just laughing. I saw big brother just turned his little brother's head, hey look at the camera on national TV, buddy.

Boy, 27 degrees out there where you are, John. Feels like 16, though. But I'm sure that's not going to stop people from going out to the polls. They are used to it, right?

ROBERTS: It's just a little dusting of snow. Yes, I mean, you are from this part of the country. You know that it's the middle of January. It's going to be cold. You prepare for it.

CHETRY: Exactly.

All right. Well, I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York. By the way, let's get you caught up on some other stories. New this morning and some severe financial fallout from the mortgage crisis in this country. And a sign that it could be far from over. Citigroup delivering some of the worst quarterly results in the company's history reporting nearly a $10 billion loss. The nation's largest bank also announced a bigger than expected write-down of more than $18 billion and a 40 percent cut in the company's dividend. Also, Merrill Lynch receiving $6.6 billion from overseas investors. As help coming from three investment funds based in Japan, Korea and Kuwait. Now all three will be passive investors only, meaning they have no control.

Last month, Merrill-Lynch sold a $5 billion stake to a Singapore fund and a $1.2 billion stake to an American fund. Merrill-Lynch has lost billions in the mortgage market.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Iraq right now. She arrived overnight, meeting with prime minister Nuri Al Maliki and saying that a reconciliation is moving along, "quite remarkably," pointing to a new benchmark law the U.S. had pushed for which allows thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to reclaim government jobs or pension.

And President Bush speaking this morning from Saudi Arabia warning Iran there would be serious consequences if they tried to hit a U.S. ship. Iranian speed boats you may remember swarmed around U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf that was back on January 6th. Then the President called on OPEC to cut the price of oil warning oil producers that expensive oil will slow the U.S. economy and in turn lower demand. John.

ROBERTS: Kiran, voters want to know why they should give their support to candidates tonight in Michigan as they go to the polls. Congressional correspondent Dana Bash sat down with Senator John McCain. He won the Michigan primary back in 2000. How is he going to do this year? Well, he says he's got more business experience than Mitt Romney does. Especially in Michigan where the auto industry is king.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Senator, first question is, if there's a voter out there who is voting on the economy here in Michigan, and sees Mitt Romney as somebody who says he's Mr. Fix-it. He's the CEO. He gets how to deal with the economy, what is your argument to that voter why they should vote for you and not Mitt Romney?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For many years, I've been in the commerce committee. I was the chairman of the committee. I had a very close working relationship with the automotive industry. I've worked for R&D tax credits to make them permanent. I've worked for innovation and advances in technology for the automotive industry. I'm totally optimistic about their ability to lead the world. I will continue my efforts that have been to help the automotive industry and make sure that they have a level playing field. I am optimistic about the ability to create jobs. And I know they can do it. And I can have that long record of support.

BASH: Do you feel now on the eve of the Michigan primary, that the way you felt on the eve of New Hampshire when you won?

MCCAIN: No, the crowds are very big. And they are very enthusiastic. So I am encouraged by that. But I think this is going to be a very close election. I think it's going to be closer than it was in New Hampshire. But I think here in Michigan, the negative attacks by Governor Romney didn't work in New Hampshire against me. He didn't work in Iowa against Huckabee, and I don't think it's going to work here in Michigan or in South Carolina, wherever he continues negative attacks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Thanks to recent CNN polls found only two points separate John McCain from Mitt Romney. Romney just about two points ahead of him. 28 percent to 26 percent. CNN's Dana Bash with Senator John McCain from yesterday. Many former auto workers are still looking for jobs. Do they think that one of the candidates has the ability to turn things around. They are certainly making the case that each one of them is capable of doing that. Chris Lawrence joins me now. And he's a local, grew up just around the corner from Warren, Michigan, in Detroit. So, you got a great local perspective on it. What did you find?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: They are skeptical. A lot of people are very skeptical thinking they don't know if any one person is going to be able to turn around things here. But they to have some very high expectations. Not only on the economic side, but specifics. They want to know, these candidates all come to Michigan saying, they are the ones who can cure Michigan's ills, but they want to know exactly what their plan is to fix the problems here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Unemployment was up. Mortgages went into meltdown. And the building blocks of one small business crumbled.

BILL CAVERLY, UNEMPLOYED CONTRACTOR: There's no work. For what I did.

LAWRENCE: Bill Caverly hasn't worked since his construction company went under last year. It was a business he had taken over from his dad.

CAVERLY: You can't go into church or into the grocery store without meeting somebody who just extends tax cuts for the middle class.

LAWRENCE: Bill says Michigan needs a president with business experience, not someone who just extends tax cuts for the middle class.

BILL CAVERLY, UNEMPLOYED CONTRACTOR: I'd rather have the tax cuts for business because if you give a business a tax cut, you are going to go ahead and they're going to hire people.

LAWRENCE: And he wants a candidate to explain how they'll cut spending to pay for it.

CAVERLY: I just heard it from Mitt Romney on the TV. He was talking about change. He's going to stop spending. I don't know how one guy can do it unless they give the president a line-item veto.

LAWRENCE: Only Mike Huckabee favors going that far. So many people have lost their jobs and left town. Pews sit empty at First Baptist Church in Sterling Heights. John Sansoterra is a painting contractor who says he competes with companies that hire illegal immigrant workers. A problem made worse by the bad economy.

JOHN SANSOTERRA, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: Even builders or maybe other painting companies that were, you know, above board kind of feel like they have to go this direction in order to stay afloat.

LAWRENCE: He disagrees with John McCain's support for a guest worker program. Economically, John likes Mitt Romney's promise to help the auto industry. And Rudy Giuliani's plan to reduce corporate taxes. But neither will get his vote in the primary because he wants to elect a true social conservative.

SANSOTERRA: Granted the temptation is there of what can help me economically. What can, you know, maybe be better. But for us, the social comes first.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: You know, it shows you even a state like Michigan that it's so dominated by jobs and the economy. There is no one issue that you can just blanket the entire state with and hope to attract everyone.

ROBERTS: So many things in this state are tied to the auto industry.

LAWRENCE: Yes. I mean, you take a look at John. He had a painting contracting business. He used to get a lot of his work from painting these factories. You know, companies would come in, build a new factory. He got a lot of his work that way. When the automakers go down, the subsidiaries and suppliers don't build as many factories. His painting business suffers. Almost everything here is in some way, shape or form six degrees of separation from the automobile industry.

ROBERTS: We are just across the street from the GM Tech Center. Of course, GM, Ford and Chrysler all have big facilities down the street here. Literally, every person in this diner today somehow has a connection to the auto industry, whether it be in insurance, whether it be somehow in manufacturing, working directly for them. It shows you how pervasive that is and how important it is to try to turn things around with that industry.

LAWRENCE: You know, my grandfather worked for Ford. We were a Ford family. There was a loyalty that cut both ways. And we and a lot of other people in our family worked for suppliers. You just don't have that loyalty anymore on either side. And it's hurting.

ROBERTS: Chris, great perspective on the story this morning. And as only a local could tell us. Appreciate it. Thanks, Chris.

We'll be covering the candidates all day long. If you are away from your television set, you can watch it on your computer. Head to cnn.com/live. We'll have all the coverage for you today. And our primetime coverage of the returns begins tonight with a special edition of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" called "Independents day." That comes your way at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, John.

Well, interstate 4 in central Florida closed again this morning. The Florida Highway Patrol shut the road down due to poor visibility caused by smoke last week. Last week, there was this 70-car pile-up on i-4 because of that fog and smoke combination there. You see pictures of it in Polk County. It ended up taking the lives of four people. Again, more than 70 cars, including a bunch of tractor trailers, involved in that smash-up. They warned earlier in the week that if the same type of conditions prevailed in that area, they were going to preemptively close it down. And it looks like that happened again, to prevent another tragedy like the one we saw last week, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, ANCHOR: Well, be it smoke or fog. You know when you're driving through fog and you see the headlights as they glow or if you look at the moon has that halo look, atmospheric optics.

CHETRY: That's what it is.

MARCIANO: Well, in that whole realm. I want to show folks something about atmospheric optics. Out of Minnesota, we had an i- reporter send us this video. The sun on the center of your screen, on the very left edge of your screen, that's what we like to call a sun dog or a perihelia. They can happen on either side of the sun. It's from ice crystals that are just kind of floating around there and the sun's rays refract through those ice crystals and reflect it back to you.

CHETRY: It's almost as if saying there's two suns.

MARCIANO: Many times there can be three. And also, many times there can be a halo. About 22 degrees and you can just see it all the way around the sun. So think of your little compact here. Think of your head as the sun.

CHETRY: OK.

MARCIANO: OK. And this compact Has some ice crystals and your radiance refractured the ice crystals.

CHETRY: That is so sweet. Did you use that in dating? Some of your come-ones.

MARCIANO: Old tricks.

CHETRY: You are out to dinner with someone and you say, think of your head as the sun.

MARCIANO: Never worked in college. I don't think it's going to work now. Let's get some weather now and show you what's happening in the rest of the country. We do have a number of weather scenarios shaping up. Snow advisory in the Michigan area, just an inch or two. Shouldn't be too bad. We do have cold air that is coming down. That will be the main weather player, I think, over the next several days. This arctic blast which will be cold enough certainly for not only ice crystals at the higher levels of the atmosphere but potentially falling to the ground. So, we'll keep an eye on that situation as we go on through time.

CHETRY: All right. If you see one, take a picture. Send it to us.

MARCIANO: Definitely. We love that stuff. It's kind of weather geek out here.

CHETRY: You love to get those weather related i-reports. Rob, thank you.

Well, he's a self-made millionaire with a very big generous streak. He never finished high school. He never made more than $11 an hour. But he's been able to donate millions. We're going to hear how he did it and why he's sharing his riches, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Also, it's on the minds of most voters in Michigan - the economy. What can be done to stop the state's downward economic spiral? Gerri Willis is up next with the look at the middle class meltdown, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 44 minutes now after the hour. The economy here in Michigan has been in a downward spiral for more than a decade. The middle class especially feeling the squeeze. Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis joins us now. Just how bad is it, Gerri?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: It's very bad, indeed. As we've been saying, 150,000 jobs in the auto industry have been lost in the last decade alone. That's 60 percent of the total. That's very hard to replace. And, of course if you want to replace them, you have to go out and attract and retain new industry. That's a very high hurdle, John.

ROBERTS: And why is it such a high hurdle?

WILLIS: Everybody in the country is competing for the same employers. There are people in every city, in every state who are dedicated to economic development. They are looking for the same headquarters to come to their area and get to compete with those people.

ROBERTS: And here, you are not only competing with another state but you're competing with another country, just across the Detroit River where they don't have any health care costs.

WILLIS: That's right. Exactly. You know, here in Detroit, there's been a lot of action taken. You wouldn't even recognize the downtown compared to several years ago. They've brought in hotels. They've brought in casinos. There's been a lot of action, but there needs to be more, John.

ROBERTS: So, how soon can Michiganders expect that some of this more may come?

WILLIS: Well, it's going to take a long time. One economist told me this is a lost decade for Michigan. Just think about that. Years and years of problems. We're even seeing it in the housing industry. $39,000 is the median price of a house in Detroit. Can you imagine that?

ROBERTS: Unbelievable. Well, certainly a high bar for these candidates to meet. And a lot of people will be making very judicious decisions about who to cast their vote for. Gerri Willis, as always, good to see you. Thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins just minutes away now. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead this morning. Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN, ANCHOR: Hi there, John. That's right. Politics in the NEWSROOM rundown this morning. As you might imagine, Michigan voters are at the polls today. But their choices are limited. We'll explain why.

And the sheriff plans an update shortly on the manhunt for marine corporal Cesar Laurean. He is accused of killing a pregnant marine from Camp Lejeune.

And a pair of blockbuster cholesterol drugs may have no real benefits. New findings about Zetia and Vytorin.

Also, Congress zeros in on major league baseball and steroids today. You're in the NEWSROOM, top of the hour, right here on CNN. John.

ROBERTS: Heidi, we'll see you then. Thanks very much. Kiran.

CHETRY: Still ahead, he's the million-dollar man. He's a factory worker. He says he never made more than 11 bucks an hour, but he managed to save millions only to give it all away. We're going to meet this very special person and talk to him live. Just ahead.

Also, they call it the one-state recession. And it might be spreading. What do voters want to hear from candidates when it comes to economic issues? We're going to find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: And we're back at the National Coney Island Diner this morning with a couple of voters who will be playing in the republican primary today. This is Dave. He is the owner of a construction firm and Vince Ranelli over here. Vince, let's go to you first because you are undecided. Tell me a little bit about your economic situation. What's going on with your company?

VINCE RANELLI, OWNER, GOLDEN WINDOWS AND MIRRORS: Well, we had approximately 50 people working for us last year and for the last 20 years. And we've lost 35 people in this market.

ROBERTS: You had to lay them off yourself?

RANELLI: Yes, sir.

ROBERTS: How tough was that?

RANELLI: It's disheartening. These are people that built my company, and we were together into this. Now I got to lay them off. Not because of the way they work. They are qualified. They are good people. It's because immigrant labor has come over here. They worked here for nine months. They take the job at less money. They take it sometimes for less money than my health care costs.

ROBERTS: What does that mean for you? Immigration is the big issue with you?

RANELLI: Immigration, health care. I mean, it's right across the board. Sometimes I can't even make the products here as inexpensive as I can than buying it from China.

ROBERTS: Dave Dolley over here not completely undecided. Leaning toward Mitt Romney. You're the owner of a company. You had to lay off your two sons?

DAVE DOLLEY, OWNER, DOLLEY AND SONS CONSTRUCTION: Right. They worked for me. I have three boys. The one left my company and then I had to lay off the other two. I have the same problems as Vince does. The immigration is a big problem. They are undercutting our work. They are coming in working for less than minimum wage and also the health care is another issue, too.

ROBERTS: So, what is it about Romney that is drawing you toward him.

DOLLEY: Well, he speaks of immigration reform quite a bit and he's going to work at it. And that's what I want to see. Also, he has spoke of working on Michigan, getting the car industry back where it's supposed to be. And that's important to me.

ROBERTS: Vince, who are you thinking about voting for today?

RANELLI: McCain and Huckabee. I'm a little bit undecided.

I like McCain just because I think he's a straight shooter. I think the man is really out for the American people and that's what I think we need right now.

ROBERTS: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us this morning. Good luck in the future with your businesses. Hope against hope that something comes back and allows you to hire those people back and you, back with family. Dave, thanks very much. Vince, good to see you.

Let's go back to New York. Here's Kiran.

CHETRY: Well you know, this next guest we're going to talk to doesn't own a phone. He doesn't own a television set. He never finished high school. He says he never made more than $11 an hour. Yet, he is a self-made millionaire and now he is giving it away. So how did he do it? Well, Paul Navone is in front of one of the schools that just got a portion of that windfall. Thanks to him. Paul, thanks for being with us this morning.

PAUL NAVONE, DONATED MILLIONS ON $11 AN HOUR: Good morning to you. It's a pleasure being here.

CHETRY: Well, we're glad to have you on the show. Tell us first of all about the $2 million donations you are making. $1 million to one school and $1 million to a college prep school. Why did you decide to give your money to those two schools?

NAVONE: Well, it got to the point that it took me a while to get to this point. And to distribute this money, I had consideration for various issues that I felt that were important. And I discussed them with my financial assistant and my stock broker, Mr. Doug Smithson. And we went over a variety of facilities that we could have donated to, and they were all interesting. And we whittled it down to two. And I donated one half of my wealth to the prep in Richland, New Jersey, and the other half to Cumberland County College.

CHETRY: Let me ask you a quick question, Paul. Because you said you worked your whole entire life. You are 78 years old right now. You've been retired for 12 years. And you never made more than $11 an hour. How were you able to save $2 million?

NAVONE: Well, I saved money but right on, early on, right after I went into the workforce, I worked for - my model all along was, I'll work for the money, and then I want to that money to work for me. I was very fortunate in getting my stock brokers at that time from the very beginning until this day. I've had four different ones. And each one did better than the one prior. So the one I'm with now, I have been with - we have been together, I should say, for over 20 years. I work for the money. I turn it over to him. And he does the wise investing.

CHETRY: Now, Paul, let me ask you this. So do you save every penny or do you also spend some of the money? What do you like to do?

NAVONE: No, no. Well, along with my work, my factory job, I had invested in house rentals in Millville where I lived and in Atlantic City. So what I made on those house rentals, I lived on that and practically saved every cent of my wages from the factory. And all this money in turn was working for me.

CHETRY: Now you also say that --

NAVONE: And accumulating. CHETRY: You also say that you're a life-long bachelor and you believe that gave you a little bit less stress and a little more money to save.

NAVONE: Pardon?

CHETRY: That you're a life-long bachelor. And because of that, you were able to have a little bit less stress in your life and be able to save a little bit money.

NAVONE: Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. Yes.

CHETRY: How about it? And you don't own a television. So what do you do for fun?

NAVONE: No. What do I do for fun? I keep myself busy. I go to McDonald's and I go to the mall. And in the summertime, I go to the beach. I just go to the flea markets. Anywhere I feel like going. I don't have to account to anyone. And when I walk out the door, I do what I want to do and go back when I am finished.

CHETRY: Well, good for you. You are a fine example of being able to not only save money and be frugal but then be able to share the wealth with others. I'm sure Cumberland Community College and St. Augustine College certainly appreciate that. Paul, thanks for talking to us this morning. We appreciate it.

NAVONE: It's been my pleasure. Thank you very much.

CHETRY: All right, take care.

Meanwhile, when we come back, a final check of this morning's quick vote.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: A final check of this morning's quick vote question. We asked because of the news story that came out today saying the FDA has said it is safe to eat meat from a cloned animal, would you do it? 35 percent of you say yes. But a whopping 65 percent saying even if you do get the all clear, you're not going to do it. To all of you who voted, thanks so much. And we'll be back here again tomorrow.

Let's head out to Michigan where John has the entire crew. I'm a little lonely out here. It's just Rob. It's Rob and my lipstick and Rob is using it.

ROBERTS: It's very crowded here as you can see. There's barely room in the screen for everybody here, Kiran. Sanjay really perked up his ears there when you talked about that quick vote question. The number of people who wouldn't eat cloned meat.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no cloned meat here as far as we know.

ROBERTS: Well, as far as we know. Not in Michigan. They haven't posted it yet. Thanks to the team here in Michigan. Ali Velshi, Gerri Willis, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Chris Lawrence. Thanks all for being here. Chris and I are on our way to Las Vegas. We'll see you there tomorrow. We're hitting all the battleground states - Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, California. Every day, all the way through super Tuesday.

And don't forget our special coverage tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. with Lou Dobbs and a special "Independents Day" as we await the Michigan returns. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. The good news is I get Ali, Gerri and Sanjay back tomorrow with me. And of course, we'll be watching, following all the latest from the campaign trail. CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins begins right now.

COLLINS: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hi, there everybody. I'm Heidi Collins, watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Tuesday morning. Here's what's on the rundown for January 15th.

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