Return to Transcripts main page


White House And Congress Hoping to Rescue the Sinking Economy; Is it Fred Thompson's Last Stand?; Bobby Fischer Has Died; Could a Deal With the Directors Help End the Writers' Strike?

Aired January 18, 2008 - 08:00   ET




BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: A fiscal stimulus package should be implemented quickly.


ROBERTS: The urgent plan today to jumpstart the economy. What it means for you wallet?

Plan from the trail.



MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not enough just to cut taxes. You've got to cut the spending that goes along with it.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I propose a tax rebate of $35 billion.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want a moratorium for 90 days on home foreclosures.


ROBERTS: We're asking the candidates live from South Carolina, with the "Most Politics in the Morning."

Plus, all in the family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud of her.


ROBERTS: Hollywood's next generation, ready for their close-ups. Live from Sundance with young stars on the rise, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us on this Friday, the 18th of January. I'm John Roberts live in Columbia, South Carolina.

Good morning, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good to see you. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York.

And we begin with what's been the talk along the campaign trail as well as right here on Wall Street. News about your financial future. Right now, the White House and Congress are putting together a package of tax breaks and incentives that would hopefully rescue the sinking economy. The president speaking about it today and CNN's Brianna Keilar is following developments from the White House this morning.

Good morning, Brianna.


The White House says President Bush will be talking about principles, not specifics of what he thinks a good economic stimulus package would be. That's just going to be about -- just before noon Eastern Time. Now, one thing that we know he will not really be pushing. And that's making his tax cuts permanent as part of this economic stimulus package.

Counselor to the president, Ed Gillespie, saying a short time ago, that the White House will pursue that effort separately. But today really all about the economy for President Bush. He'll also be making another statement later this afternoon about the economy, the White House trying to show that they know Americans are feeling the pinch and they're doing something about it -- Kiran?

CHETRY: And some of the Democrats, they were not thrilled the president's laying out this plan today?

KEILAR: That's right. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as well as other Democrats and Republicans from The Hill, they had a conference call yesterday with President Bush, and after that call, Harry Reid put out a statement basically saying he was disappointed the president is going to lay out his own approach instead of waiting to put out a unified plan with Republicans and Democrats.

But one source did tell us, Democrats they aren't happy with this, but it's also not a deal-breaker for them. And again, the White House stressing the president will be talking more in generalities than specifics, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Brianna Keilar live for us at the White House this morning. Thanks.

Hey, John. ROBERTS: Hey, Kiran. All this after another awful day for money, 300 point plunge on Wall Street. Our Stephanie Elam in for Ali Velshi. She's got more on that.

Stephanie, how are things looking today?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like we might actually be rebounding a bit, John, but we still have to find another verb to say that things were really bad yesterday.

Trounced, slapped, beaten down, because the DOW lost 307 points. So put this on perspective. It lost nearly 2.5 percent. NASDAQ off 2 percent yesterday. The S&P fell nearly 3 percent. It's biggest drop in months for all three of this major averages. The S&P, 15th month low. And for the DOW, it lost 8.3 percent of its value so far this year. That pretty much wipes out what we saw last year. And it also puts it at a ten-month low there.

Also, the DOW down 14.5 percent from its highs that we saw back in November. So it's putting it closer to the bear market range there. Let's take a look at also what fed into this. We had Merrill Lynch coming out with our weakest quarterly report ever. We also had some weak economic data that came in, regionally, the Phili Fed.

And on top of that, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke was testifying before Congress and he made it clear where he stands on things. He says the economy is not in a recession yet, but it is definitely slowing down. And with that in mind, he said the economy needs a quick but temporary stimulus to get it back on its feet.

Now, if you're wondering how well could that really help us out here? This did happen before. This is not the first time we've seen a stimulus package. In 2001, Americans got one and let's take a look at what happened then. Americans got either $300 if they are single. Families got $600 and 20 percent to 40 percent of those checks were spent within days. Consumers actually saved one-third of that money and two-thirds of the rebate entered the economy within two quarters.

So, John, obviously the big idea here is to get the American consumer back out there putting money back into the economy. Businesses can keep on spending and hopefully get the economy churning again at a faster pace -- John?

ROBERTS: It's interesting to note, though, Stephanie, how many of those people would actually put some of that money into savings, versus how many did it back in 2001. Stephanie Elam for us this morning. Stephanie, thanks.

And here's Kiran.

CHETRY: Right now, we're going to check in with Alina Cho for some of the other headlines making news this morning including breaking news now on world famous, world renowned chess player.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kiran. Good morning. Good morning again, everybody. More now on the breaking news we told you about in the past hour. Bobby Fischer, the former chess champion, who ultimately renounced his U.S. citizenship, has died.

A spokesman says Fischer died in Iceland, that's the country he moved to in 2005. No word yet on a cause of death. Fischer ducked out of the public spotlight after beating a Soviet rival back 1972. You can see what he looked like years ago. The win made him a cold war icon but he became more famous for his numerous anti-American and anti-Semitic comments. Bobby Fischer was 64 years old.

A Canadian who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan will learn his fate today. His name is Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill Americans and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction on Americans. Now, he pleaded guilty way back in 2002, but the records were only unsealed last might. A judge will sentence him today. Prosecutors are recommending life in prison.

We have new developments this morning in the investigation of that deadly tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. Court documents obtained by the "San Francisco Chronicle" revealed one of the two surviving victims Paul Dhaliwal, admitted he was drunk and taunted the tiger before it escaped.

This is a reversal change in story. Police say he was yelling and waving while standing on a railing near the edge of the tiger moat. 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. was killed in the Christmas Day attack. Dhaliwal and his brother Kulbir were seriously injured.

Could a deal with the directors help end the writers strike? That's the big question. The Directors Guild of America has cut a deal with the Hollywood Studios over residuals for programs shown on the Internet. Of course, this has been a major sticking point in the writers strike. The Writers Guild says it will now take a close look at the director's deal.

And listen to this one. A winning Powerball ticket worth $97 -- yes, $97 million was sold in an area that could definitely use the cash. We're talking about a suburb of hurricane ravaged New Orleans. Now, the ticket was sold at a gas station in Metairie. That's in Jefferson Parish. Nobody has come forward yet to claim the prize just yet, but the owner of the Shell Station says, well, his store caters mainly to locals.

We'll have to wait and see. The gas station, by the way, will get $25,000. And whoever won can take the payout over 29 years or take a one-time $48 million lump sum. Always take the lump sum, but anyway.

CHETRY: When was it sold?

CHO: The drawing was Wednesday night.

CHETRY: OK, so they still have time.

CHO: They still have -- they have 180 days. That's right. ELAM: You know how many people buy them and then chuck them in the back of the car and never look at them and lose them.

CHO: Well, the lottery official says always sign the back. Good advice. So hopefully somebody will come forward and we'll have some news.

CHETRY: They say that on your library card too. Thanks.

Rob Marciano in our weather update desk tracking extreme weather for us in the northeast today. Hello, Rob.


CHETRY: And right now, we're going to go over to John. You know, John, I was looking at those wind chills up in Winnipeg, in Regina, Canada negative 38, negative 40. Can you even go outside?

ROBERTS: You can go outside, but you can't stay out there very long. And that's the reason my family actually is from Winnipeg or as we like to call it, Winterpeg. Hey, important news this morning for millions of people who take aspirin to lower their risk for heart disease. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent, is here with us this morning. And what's this new study telling us?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it interesting. First of all, you have a 36 percent of the population takes aspirin. And the goal is to try and ward off heart disease or strokes and it gives you a blood thinning effect. But something started to emerge. Despite the fact that people are on aspirin should have this protected benefit, there were certain segments of the population that were still getting heart attacks or still having strokes.

And these researchers from the British Medical Journal actually looked at 20 different studies and found out by looking at 3,000 patients that there's something known as aspirin resistance. This has been talk about before, because the first study really point out how prevalent this is. About quarter of the people that are taking this.

And what that translates to is that you have a four times higher chance of actually having a heart attack or stroke as opposed to someone who doesn't have this resistance. So that's very interesting. You're taking this, thinking it's protecting you. And about one out of four people are getting no protection at all.

ROBERTS: So how do you know if you're aspirin-resistant before it's too late and if somebody can discover that they're aspirin- resistant, what do they do about it?

GUPTA: So what aspirin does in the body basically? It sort of takes these things that are called platelets that cause blood clots and sort of inhibits them a little bit. To makes them less likely to stick together. That's a good thing because those clots are going to be the real culprit. Somewhere in there, it doesn't seem to work and exactly how to test for that resistance is a little bit controversial. I mean, there's one sort of blood test but it's not perfect. There's a urine test as well but sometimes it doesn't give you enough information. So it's a little bit hard to know right now. That's something our researchers are working on right now, to try and figure out how to basically come up with a better test for this.

ROBERTS: And is there anything else that people can do to try to lower their risk of heart attack if they are resistant to aspirin?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, there's two sorts of avenues. One is you just get more aspirin. It's a more a dose-related phenomenon, where you can get more aspirin so it somehow overcome.


GUPTA: Right. Or you go in a totally different direction and give another medication all together, like Plavix for example or some other blood thinner. What the American Heart Association says, right now, standard recommendations, if you're at risk for heart disease, take an aspirin a day. That's what they're saying. For men over the age of 45 and women over the age of age. If you have chest pain or uncontrolled chest pain, you may want to add a second blood thinning medication as well.

My guess, John, out of all this we're probably going to have some updated recommendations, maybe even involving, as you pointed out, aspirin-resistant test of some sort.

ROBERTS: Interesting. Sanjay, thanks for that -- Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Well, is it Fred's last stand? We're going to be going back to South Carolina and back on the campaign trail where Fred Thompson will be trying to stage a comeback. We're going to ask him what he needs to do to win and what issue he's talking about that are resonating with the voters. We'll be speaking with him live just ahead.

Also, ham, grits, biscuits with gravy. The folks in the south are not the only one who knows how to live. We want to know what you're favorite bad for you breakfast is. E-mail us, We're going to read some of them ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Red tape may keep millions of illegal immigrants from voting for president. Your "Quick Hits" now. Lawmakers grilled ahead of the nation's immigration agency about a backlog of applications. Last year, the United States received almost 1.5 million citizenship applications, but they likely won't be approved until next year, after the election. One congressman compared the procedures to that of a third world country.

It was a $90 million mistake. That's what the Homeland Security Department is admitting this morning about an anti-terror information network that it now has to replace. It was built to help local state and federal government share sensitive information over the Internet. A DHS memo written last year says many of the 100 web portals that make up the network are redundant and actually getting in the way.

And more Homeland Security criticism over those toxic FEMA trailer. Remember them? They were bought for Hurricane Katrina? The government now offering a full refund to people who bought them. The fed's purchased to 145,000 trailers in no bid deals after Hurricane Katrina began to sell them off, sometimes only getting 40 cents on the dollar for them. And now buying them back at full cost. Sales were suspended in July last year over for formaldehyde fears. Doctor says it's been link to cancer and can cause respiratory problems as well.

We're back to the campaign trail here in South Carolina and the fight for the evangelical vote. Mike Huckabee is hoping for a repeat of his Iowa victory where he wrote a wave of conservative support to his only victory so far. But recently, he came under fire for suggesting that the constitution should be amended so that it was quote, "In God's standards." I asked him about that comment earlier on AMERICAN MORNING.


MIKE HUCKABEE, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The constitution, the genius and the brilliance of it was that it was intended to be amended. That's why African-Americans are considered people, because we amended the constitution. As we needed to, to make sure that we ended slavery. We amended the constitution so women could vote. There were a lot of amendments including the first one, which gives me the right to worship or you the right to speak out and have free speech. The second amendment, which gives us the right to bear arms.

Those are all changes to the original constitution. My point was that the constitution was a document. It's a living, breathing document written in order that it could be changed. The scriptures, however, were not written so that we would change them to adapt them to ever-changing cultural norms.


ROBERTS: Well, back in 2000, evangelical vote made up one-third of the vote here in South Carolina and there is a lot at stake here. Since 1980, every candidate who went on to win the Republican nomination first won here in the Palmetto State. The Nevada caucuses are tomorrow as well and nine precincts will be in casinos as the federal judge ruled that workers can hold caucus there. The State Teachers Union backing Hillary Clinton had filed the lawsuit protesting those sites after the Culinary Union endorsed Barack Obama.

Well, Clinton supporter Robert Johnson says he is sorry about a speech that he made last Sunday where he alluded to Barack Obama's past drug use. Johnson, who's the founder of Black Entertainment Television, explained what happened on the "SITUATION ROOM" yesterday.


ROBERT JOHNSON, FOUNDER, BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION: Sometimes in campaigns you get carried away in your zeal to support your candidate and you say things that are inappropriate and not proper for a campaign that should be based on the issues, and that's why I issued this personal apology to Senator Obama.


ROBERTS: Well, we haven't heard from the candidate about it, but Johnson says Obama did accept his apology -- Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, thanks, John. Well, we've been asking all morning for people to fess up about your favorite bad for you breakfast. Our Veronica De La Cruz has been reading your e-mails. Now, I know what John's is. But it's better to show it in the video that we'll show you a little bit later. You know mine.


CHETRY: I like scrapple but corned beef hash with two eggs over easy.

DE LA CRUZ: That definitely is mine. And I love that there's this great Raspberry French toast in Atlanta, fine biscuit that I'm addicted to. But you know we have heard everything this morning. Scrapple, biscuits and gravy, grits, pop tarts.

But for Greg Graham Davis (ph) in Madison, Wisconsin, he says that he loves a good steak, medium rare, eggs over easy, crispy hash browns with chess and onions, hot biscuits with country sausage, gravy, coffee and of course, get this Kiran, a large Bloody Mary with all the fixings, including a light beer chaser.

CHETRY: A man after my own heart. I'm taken but I got a lot of single friends for you, Greg. That's my kind of breakfast.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Let's see if Latasha Redixon (ph) can top that. She likes country fried steak with white country gravy, cheese egg, cheese grits with bacon and pancakes on the side with loads of butter and syrup.

Jeffrey Knight (ph) eats oven-fried bacon strips, succulent scrambled eggs made with heavy whipping cream, decadent Santa Fe hash brown potatoes covered in ketchup. I'm a ketchup fan too, so.

CHETRY: We have to make a new cookbook. An AMERICAN MORNING cooking with some of this in it.

DE LA CRUZ: You're absolutely right. And check this out. This is from Aaron in Orange Park. He keeps it simple. He keeps it short. He says that he loves last night's pizza. Definitely I'm guilty of that one.

Of course, you can keep sending us your e-mail at So, what are you saying John's favorite, and then Sanjay's favorite too? People want to know.

CHETRY: Well, you know, Sanjay, of course.

DE LA CRUZ: The good doctor. CHETRY: Right. It would just be two percent milk instead of skim in his cereal. He's so good. We'll have to show you John's a little bit later. But did you notice the difference when you live down in Atlanta? Did you eat more?

DE LA CRUZ: Oh yes. A lot of country fried steaks. But you know, the sausage, gravy biscuits, all that stuff are really big. And grits, for the first time, I had grits. And you've got to introduce me to scrapple because today is the first day that I've ever heard of scrapple.

CHETRY: (INAUDIBLE) with some of the best so we'll get you a plate. Guaranteed. Thanks, Veronica.

Well, today the president will outline a new economic incentive plan. Former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers is going to be joining us after the break to talk about the stimulus plan that was done back in 2001. How did that work and can that be translated to what we're dealing with here in 2008 and will you find more money in your pocket sooner? Will you spend it, if do you? We're going to talk about all those things when Larry Summers joins us in just a moment.


CHETRY: Well, President Bush is expected to lay out his plan to help revive the economy. In fact, he's going to be speaking at the White House about three hours from now. You know, last hour we talked to the president's counselor Ed Gillespie about some of the specifics.


ED GILLESPIE, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: What the president is going to highlight is the fact that any package that we agree on with Congress and bipartisan plan should be timely, should have an immediate impact on the economy, should have a direct effect, should be simple, should be broad based and should be big enough to have a positive impact on a very big economy.


CHETRY: Well, former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers joins us now from Boston to talk more about this. And you were around when we did a stimulus package back in 2001. In your opinion, do they work?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I think they can make a difference, and I think it is very important right now given the deteriorating situation of our economy, I think it will tend to mitigate recession pressures. It will lead to a more rapid ultimate expansion and I think it's very important insurance against what is a problematic situation, becoming an extremely serious situation. That could happen.

We've got the possibility. I wouldn't predict it, but we've got the possibility of a situation where problems in the real economy cause credit problems. Those, then, cause more problems in the real economy, and the whole thing cycles downwards. I think that taking out insurance against that with fiscal stimulus is a very prudent thing to do.

CHETRY: You've also said that lawmakers need to sign this within two months in order for it to really have the maximum effect. How realistic is that? Given that there is, you know, back and forth, we're in a primary campaign season?

SUMMERS: I don't know. It will depend on both sides willingness to focus on the key principles. Principles not unlike the principles Mr. Gillespie spoke about. I put it this way. To work fiscal stimulus needs to be timely, needs to happen soon, needs to be targeted. It needs to go to people who are going to spend it.

That means particularly those who rely on refund. Those who are receiving benefits. Those whose incomes have been hurt by the downturn and it needs to be temporary so that nobody gets the idea we're blowing the budget in the long run. Timely, targeted and temporary. I there is a growing agreement on these principles, and there's no reason why this can't happen quickly.

CHETRY: All right. You know, there's a couple of specifics I want to get to. It's been reported from people who, I guess, have some knowledge of exactly what we're talking about with the proposals. That individuals could get up to $800 back. That families could get as much as $1,600 back.

We're also talking about temporarily eliminating people who pay taxes on the bottom tax rate, which is now 10 percent. In this time, when there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and there seems to be a credit crisis, as we're talking about, how do you guarantee people are actually going to spend that money?

SUMMERS: Well, I think, you've got a lot of people who are facing that -- facing that credit crunch. People who are not buying -- not buying medicines because they've got to meet their mortgage payment. People who are not able to buy school supplies for their kids, if the winter's cold, because they've got to heat their house. I think if you give those people some relief, you can be pretty confident that it's going to be spent. It's harder for people to borrow against their houses, which is a traditional thing people do in the downturn, precisely because of the credit crunch.

So, ironically, the consequence of credit crunch is that you can be a little less certain about what monetary policy's going to do and you can probably be a little more certain about what fiscal policy is going to do, which is why I and many other economists have urged that we need to have a package that's got multiple parts to respond to our problems. The Federal Reserve has a role and fiscal policy has a role as well.

CHETRY: All right. Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary and professor at Harvard University, thanks for joining us this morning.

SUMMERS: Glad to be with you.

CHETRY: We asked people about this today as well with our "Quick Vote" question. If the government's economic stimulus plan included some advance tax rebates, what would you do with the extra money? Well, so far it stayed pretty much the same this morning. 15 percent of you saying you'd spend it, 25 percent saying save it and 60 percent saying you would use it to pay off debt.

You can still weigh in and cast your vote at We'll continue to tally your votes throughout the morning -- John?

ROBERTS: Well, you're watching the "Most Politics in the Morning." Kiran, is it South Carolina or bust for Fred Thompson. We will ask the former senator about his chances and what he would do to point the economy in the right direction, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: There's a shot this morning from Columbia, South Carolina. You can see the CNN Election Express. Boy, they must have big parking spaces outside of the Lizard's Thicket Restaurant. That's where John is this morning. Because that's a big bus. It's Friday, January 18th. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York.

Hey, John.

ROBERTS: Hey, good morning to you, Kiran. I'm John Roberts live from the Lizard's Thicket here in Columbia, South Carolina.

We're here this morning looking ahead to the Republican primary in South Carolina. It could be do or die for Fred Thompson. And he'll be joining us coming up in the next couple of minutes. So, keep it right here, Kiran.

CHETRY: It should be an exciting race in South Carolina.

We want to bring you up to day with some other headlines this morning as well. And word this morning that former chess champ, Bobby Fischer, has died. His spokesman said Fischer died in Iceland. He moved there in 2005, after renouncing his U.S. citizenship. He ducked out of the public spotlight in '72, defeated a rival from the Soviet Union and became an icon of the Cold War but he then later became infamous for anti-American and anti-Semitic comments. Bobby Fischer was 64 years old.

Should be CIA be allowed to keep a secret? Well, that's what a federal judge in New York is trying to decide right now. He says the agency violated a court order when it destroyed those al Qaeda interrogation tapes back in 2005. The judge may ask officials who saw the tapes to talk. The American Civil Liberties Union has asked that judge to fine the CIA in contempt of court for failing to preserve those tapes.

Some concern this morning over a missing computer disc that contains personal information of more than 600,000 people. The disc included social security numbers for customers of JC Penney and 100 other retailers. The company handling the data says there's no sign that the disc was stolen but they will pay for credit monitoring if anyone is affected -- John.

ROBERTS: It could be the moment of truth for the Fred Thompson campaign. He is banking on South Carolina, and the Republican party faithful to rev up his campaign. He is expected to be in a fight for the evangelical vote with Mike Huckabee. Joining us now from South Carolina is former Senator Fred Thompson.

Senator, good to see you. I want to start off this morning by playing a little excerpt from something that happened...


ROBERTS: ...yesterday. Go ahead.

THOMPSON: Every moment is a moment of truth in the Thompson campaign.

ROBERTS: All right. We're glad to hear that. Let's play this particular moment of truth, just as were you speaking, Ben Bernanke was on the television screen behind you talking about his support for an economic stimulus package. Let's take a listen to how that unfolded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as we sit here, you know, we can take a look at the monitor and Chairman Bernanke is talking right now. I would imagine you would probably say that the economy perhaps is the most important issue that's facing us?

THOMPSON: Yes. That's right, but you know, you could probably get a "Law & Order" rerun on TNT there if you wanted to switch that around a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know if you want to do that? Chairman Bernanke is from South Carolina.

THOMPSON: Looks a little boring to me. I don't care.


ROBERTS: Senator Thompson, you were just joking a little bit there but did seem to be dismissive of the idea, at least of an economic --

THOMPSON: No, John. We - you sit there and you take an hour's worth of tape, of course, and we have a little fun every once in a while. Sometimes you guys pick that out and have a little fun with it yourselves. That's fine. Now, you want to talk about the issue? We went ahead and talk about the issue--

ROBERTS: You seem to be dismissive about this idea of a package.

THOMPSON: No, I was not being dismissive. You know better than that. We had a little fun, a little humor from time to time, things come up and I poke fun at it including myself, and you guys pick it out, you know and leave it lying out there. We proceeded to talk about the economy, and talk about stimulus package, which I've been talking about for two or three days. If this is your highlight event it's your highlight event. Would you like me to talk about the...

ROBERTS: No. The question I was trying to ask you, Senator, is, you don't seem to have a lot of faith in a stimulus package.

THOMPSON: Well - well, that's not totally accurate either. We've had extensive discussions over the last two or three days. I'm not sure what part of that you're talking about, but I can relate to what I think about it and what it looks like to me. I've been talking about the fact that it's part of a bigger picture, that we need to make sure we know what we're talking about before we rush in and increase the debt.

That we should not load this package up like a Christmas tree, like we often do. That if we can target it to those who will put the money back into the economy, that is something we need to seriously consider. And I think that now the Bush administration, as I understand it, is considering a package of about $150 billion. There's not much detail to it yet. I would hope it would be more in the form of tax rebates or fewer withholdings in terms of income taxes and put it more directly into the economy.

I think that a child tax credit increase of about $500 for about year, would also do the trick. I think those are the things that you'd have to look at, but everybody on the Hill and everybody in Washington wants to rush willie nillie you know, at some of these packages that will cost billions and billions of dollars. We need to make sure that we're targeting them in the right way.

ROBERTS: Would you be open to some sort of rebate, the type of which the President is talking about? I think he's talking about $800 for individuals, $1,600 for married couples with an income threshold on that as well?

THOMPSON: It seems to me to be in the neighborhood. I have suggested over the last couple of days that perhaps we take the ten percent tax rate and do away with that for a year. And that with the increased child tax credit would put somewhere in the neighborhood of those amounts into people's pockets. I don't know if that's precisely what he's talking about or not, but that would be a clean and easy way to do that, I think.

ROBERTS: Senator Thompson, you have been very critical of Mike Huckabee here in South Carolina, and many of his policies, issues that he's been talking about. Here's how he responded to those criticisms yesterday.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everyday there's some Washington insider coming to South Carolina telling you why you shouldn't vote for me. It's always interesting to me that people in Washington think they have all the answers but they sure haven't solved a lot of the problems they've been dealing with for years. My attitude is if they were going to fix it they should have done it. And since they haven't, the last thing that we need is another I'm going to the White House and being president.


ROBERTS: Senator, what do you say that idea that you're just another member of Washington's old guard who can't get anything done.

THOMPSON: I don't think he was talking about me, John. I don't think he was talking about me. Well -- and he certainly -- it certainly didn't have any anything to do with the fact that he was liberal on illegal immigration, that he's changed his minds on early issues every time he gets pressure, whether signing the no-tax pledge or receiving the NEA endorsement, any of those things.

You know, that he would take us in a direction that's more liberal economic and foreign policies to the extent that he has any foreign policy. He never addresses those. His answer so far apparently has been push/pull. And now we're seeing what we saw in Iowa, with the Huckabee campaign and Huckabee supporters now are coming out with these push polls, totally distorting everybody's record and telling outright falsehoods about various people under the guise of someone else.

So it's -- it's a pity that someone who claims to be operating at a different level, and have a different set of values is stooping to this in the final days of the campaign, but I guess that's what we have to learn to get used to out of that campaign.

ROBERTS: Well, we should just point out, too, that Mike Huckabee says his campaign, at least has nothing to do with the allegations of push polling. Senator Fred Thompson, good luck tomorrow in the primary. Thanks for ...

THOMPSON: Funny - one of his supporters -- and it happens state after state, it's just a coincidence.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much for joining us today. Good luck tomorrow.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We'll see you again -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, just how tough is it to be president of the United States? As you can see, campaigning isn't easy, is it? Look at presidents before and after they were in office. The physical toll it can take. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a closer look. Also, the coldest air of the season on its way for one part of the country and more southern snow could be on the horizon. Our Rob Marciano has your extreme weather forecast coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Let' take a look right now at some of the pictures out of North Carolina. The south getting some snow. Unusual for many of the cities that saw the white stuff on the ground and for North Carolina, at least the central part of the state, they could see even more this weekend. How about it.

Well, now they have some practice, right Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Now, they're all warmed up especially the warm-up act there. Good morning, Kiran.

And this is what's left over of that storm that's heading across the northeast and seeing a wintry mix north of the I-95 corridor. So this is pretty much going to be heading out to sea. The next story is going to be the big time chill in the air. Right now, it's nine in Chicago. It's minus 11 in Fargo, minus 18 in Winnipeg. These are the actual temperatures.

Run the map, talk about wind chill. These are the forecast wind chills -- 5:00 Saturday afternoon game time, Green Bay, minus 21. That's what it will feel like against your bare skin. You know those offensive linemen are going to be going bare skinned on the arms for sure. Minus 14 is what it will feel like in Chicago. Boy, in this cold air, it's dropping down to the south. It's going to take in a good chunk of the U.S., probably a good three quarters of it.

Tens across the North, not including wind chills -- 20s across the mid south and 30s across the deep south on Sunday. Now, the deal here is we got some moisture, much like the last storm that came through the south that's going to be meeting up with this cold air. The precipitation forecast shows much of the moisture heading across the deep south, if it sneaks up to the north and meet that cold air, timing is everything here. We'll talk about snow and from Birmingham to Atlanta, up through Charlotte, right now it looks like Birmingham is under a winter storm watch for a potential of seeing a couple inches of snow there.

Atlanta, it's really a touch and go situation, certainly north of Atlanta will see some snow. But here in Atlanta proper, likely rain changing over to a wet snow. But, again, maybe enough to get everybody excited about the prospect at least of having a little bit of the white stuff down across the deep south. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: We're excited for you, too. All right. Rob, thanks -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, we have all seen how Presidents age while in office. But now there's evidence of the physical toll they go through, and the effect that it has on their health. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now with a look.

We all talk about how we watched these Presidents age. I was wondering if it's just because they're in a sweet spot where human beings do start to show the signs of aging.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: True but consider a couple of things which I thought interesting. They get executive level health care, arguably, some of the best health care anywhere in the world. Yet, two-thirds of our presidents failed to reach their normal life expectancy.

ROBERTS: Two thirds? Really?

GUPTA: It's interesting. And why exactly is that? They're getting all this executive health care? Well, it may have something to do with the stress of the job.


GUPTA (voice-over): In 1952, on the television show "Quiz Kids," presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson asked a group of children if they'd want to be president of the United States.


HARVEY: Well, I don't think - no, I don't think. Frankly, I don't think so, because if you're president you have to have, like you said, he has a lot of worries.

GUPTA: Harvey may have been on to something. As being president may not only be the toughest job in the world, but also the most stressful. Why?

CAPRICIA MARSHALL, FORMER SOCIAL SECRETARY: The constant demand, and from everyone and everywhere.

GUPTA: Capricia Marshall spent eight years in the White House as social secretary during the Clinton administration.

MARSHALL: It's not just the issues that we're dealing with in our country or within the White House walls. It's issues that are occurring across the globe.

GUPTA: Many of our leaders were seriously ill while in office. Besides cardiovascular illness and stroke, just in the last century, U.S. presidents have suffered from high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, respiratory illness, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, prostate disease, Addison's disease, Grave's disease, pneumonia, ileitis and obesity. Dr. Gerald Post, an expert in political psychology says the toll of the job can be seen in their faces.

DR. GERALD POST, POLITICAL PSYCHOLOGY EXPERT: The pictures of the president and how he ages from the day of inauguration show a really disproportionate amount of aging in response to that stress.

GUPTA: So, do you still think you want this job?

STEVENSON: So, Brenda, would you like to be president? Don't you think it's time -

BRENDA: I haven't made up my mind yet.


GUPTA: Well, you know, it might interest Brenda to know, wherever she may be today that in fact we've learned a lot about stress and its direct affect scientifically on our cardiovascular health. And John, six out of seven former presidents have actually died from cardiovascular illness despite of their health care.

ROBERTS: So, do you have to have some sort of special physical ability to be able to be president. I mean, Franklin Roosevelt was a victim of Polio and he served almost four terms.

GUPTA: He did. And you know, it's funny, Woodrow Wilson used to say maybe we should consider having athletes, someone with an athletic physique as presidents. But you know, I think how much have we really asked about that? I mean, you do a lot of interviews with candidates, how much do we ask about that and as well as their psychological health in the sense they can withstand some of the stress. It's interesting. We ask a lot of question, but these two things are obviously very important as well.

ROBERTS: I tell you, one guy who is in really good shape is President Bush. You get out there on a mountain bike with him, and he will beat you into the weeds.

GUPTA: And he talks about how that helps him relieve some of his stress as well. People have had different strategies. Cocktail hours certainly relieve stress as well. Everyone has their own strategy but it is an important factor.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, that's interesting stuff. Thanks very much -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, CNN "NEWSROOM" just minutes away. Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. But you know, we've been asking about favorite breakfasts, we've been focusing on some of the hearty breakfast from the south.

How about you, Tony?


CHETRY: Right.

HARRIS: From about seven on, yes. About age seven on, Cap'n Crunch. That's it. That's where it begins - well in the south, maybe some grits, too. There you go. Good to see you, Kiran, and good Friday to you everyone.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, let's get you started with a conversation about your money. How about a fat tax rebate check in your mailbox? The president talks of plans to boost the economy today. Live coverage. Unbelievable cruelty in Hawaii. Have you been following this story? A man tosses a toddler from a pedestrian overpass in to oncoming traffic. And a big yellow traffic sign. Drivers can't miss. A shoplifter's punishment earns him cold stares outside Buffalo. Election eve in South Carolina and Nevada. A political preview in the NEWSROOM, top of the hour on CNN.

Kiran, back to you. Have a great weekend.

CHETRY: You, too, Tony. Thanks.

And meanwhile, identical twins with identical perfect test scores. We're going to tell you about the brothers who aced their college entrance exam. What's next? Coming up.


LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Lola Ogunnaike in Park City, Utah, where the 24th annual Sundance Film Festival is under way. We'll introduce you to three second generation actors who are following in their father's footsteps. You may be surprise to find out who they are. That and more coming up next.



CHETRY: Thousands of movers and shakers are all headed to Park City, Utah, right now for the Sundance Film festival. And Lola Ogunnaike is one of them. She's been checking out the scene and talking with Hollywood's next generation.

The sons and daughters of stars now coming of age, Lola.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year, Kiran. 124 films from 34 countries will be featured here and three of those films actually feature the children of famous actors.


OGUNNAIKE (voice-over): Amy Redford is stepping out of her father's shadow and into her own limelight. Redford is making her directorial debut a Sundance with "The Guitar," a light-hearted drama about a young woman who discovers she has only two months to live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending money like there's no tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no tomorrow. All my tomorrows are yesterday.

AMY REDFORD, DIRECTOR, "THE GUITAR": It felt like I was at home. I mean, stepping into the shoes and directing felt like I had finally, you know, found my calling.

OGUNNAIKE: Shooting a low-budget film in just 21 days in New York was a challenge for the first time director and at times, she even turned to her Oscar-winning director father for advice.

REDFORD: If I was in pinch, you know, I would call, if I was struggling with something. I think really a lot of it has to do with trusting yourself. OGUNNAIKE: Jason Ritter, son of the late John Ritter is making his third appearance at Sundance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So you don't think I'm sexy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like your face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's not your face I like the most either.

OGUNNAIKE: He produces and stars in "Good Dick," a modern romance set in a video store. Ritter says being the child of a famous actor has its benefits, but also has its drawbacks.

JASON RITTER, ACTOR: I've gone into a couple auditions for comedies and have them be like, "your dad was the best comedian ever, and everything that came out of his mouth was comic gold" and all this stuff. OK. Now go. Let's see, what you got. And I'm like - ah, you know.

OGUNNAIKE: Collin Hanks, a talent in his own right with several films under his belt joins his famous father Tom and the cast of the great "Buck Howard." For the man behind who has been the force behind Sundance for more than two decades, having his daughter's film premiere here is specially gratifying.

ROBERT REDFORD: For me, just having her here on her own ticket. I mean, she's done this herself. This is her independent work. She's put this together and I'm proud of her.


OGUNNAIKE:: Now, surprisingly, Robert Redford has none seen his daughter's film yet. He will see it this evening at the "The Guitar"'s premiere, like everyone else. When I spoke with Amy yesterday, she said she was incredibly nervous to have her father see the film. But you know what Kiran, she doesn't have anything to worry about. I saw the film a few days ago. And it's actually pretty good.

CHETRY: Sounds good. Lola, thanks so much. Have a blast out there and give us all the scoop when you get back.


CHETRY: And right now, a quick look at what CNN "NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. Will you get a tax rebate? President Bush talks of plans to boost the economy today. The Dow off nearly 14 percent from its record high. A man tosses a toddler from an overpass into traffic. New information about the fatal tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. And actress Lindsay Lohan checking in soon - at the morgue? NEWSROOM just minutes away at the top of the hour, on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: They are identical twins with identical perfect scores in a key college entrance exam. Brian and Ross Devol of Bellevue, Nebraska, each scored a perfect 36 on the A.C.T. Now, they're waiting to see which one will be valedictorian of their class.


ROSS DEVOL, TWIN WITH PERFECT ACT SCORE: I'm not sure I would try as hard if I was competing with somebody for the valedictorian position. So far, I got a few B's here and there but so far still all A's.

ROBERTS: Well, the twins have met the governor and right now their classmates are hounding them for help on the test. Only one in about 4,000 students get a perfect score on the A.C.Ts so you can imagine the odds of identical twins doing that.


Time now for a final look at our quick vote question this morning. We've have been asking you all morning if the government's economic stimulus plan included an advance tax rebate, what would you do with the extra money? Seventeen percent of you said that you'll spend it, 25 percent say that you'd save it and 58 percent think you'd use it to pay off debt. I guess people are tired of carrying all that debt. Thanks to all of you who voted -- Kiran.

CHETY: All right, John. Thanks so much. A reminder to let everyone know, you can catch up on the day's politics tonight at the CNN Election Center. I'll be with Anderson Cooper. Actually, you'll be with Anderson Cooper and I'll be watching you from home tonight, 8:00 Eastern -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. And head to our web page at to find more of the most politics in the morning. You can follow our road trips, and see interviews with the candidates and all about the behind-the-scenes action. The address is Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. That's it for us from South Carolina but I'll see you tonight on the Election Center -- Kiran.