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California Wildfire Destroys Homes Near Santa Barbara; Hillary Clinton Eyed as Secretary of State; G-20 Summit Meets in Washington; Republicans Debate on Future of Party

Aired November 14, 2008 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news. A wildfire threatening mansions in the California hills including Oprah's. Flames burning down homes and blowing up cars in a hideout for the rich and famous.

Plus, Clinton's consolation prize. Reports that the president- elect may make nice.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Shame on you, Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: By making his formal rival...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: But she's talking like she's Annie Oakley.

ROBERTS: ... madam secretary on this AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Well, that is the big question of the day. Will Annie Oakley be the secretary of state?

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: You forget some of those jabs that play back and forth during the campaign.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes.

CHETRY: It could be very interesting.

ROBERTS: The old primary campaign left us with so many sound bites to mind these days.

Hey, welcome to the show. John Roberts together with Kiran Chetry. It's Friday. It's the 14th of November. Glad you're with us this morning.

CHETRY: And we start with breaking news this morning. An out of control wildfire spreading right now in the hills near Santa Barbara, California. And some multimillion dollar mansions burned to the ground overnight in the tiny exclusive town of Montecito, areas described as a hideout for the rich and famous. In fact, Oprah's 42- acre estate is nearby. It's also where President Kennedy had his honeymoon. One homeowner said it "looked like lava coming down a volcano."

Firefighters say 2,500 people were ordered to get out, and at least a thousand homes are still in danger.

Right now, investors around the world taking advantage of bargains it seems. Both Japan and Hong Kong closing up more than two percent in their markets. In Europe, the markets are in strong territory. And today's rally comes after the Dow surged 552 points yesterday. That snapped a three-day losing streak and it translates to around a $700 billion boost in market value.

In Alaska, election officials still have 30,000 ballots to count before declaring a winner in that state's Senate race. Recently convicted Senator Ted Stevens has fallen behind his Democratic rival Mark Begich. Begich, who was behind by 3,000 votes, is now up more than 800 as that counting continues.

ROBERTS: Well, to the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. And breaking news involving a key position in President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet.

Sources tell CNN that Senator Hillary Clinton is under consideration to carry out the new president's foreign policy agenda as secretary of state. The prominent Democrat remains a popular figure on the world stage since her days as first lady, but would she be interested in the job? When asked on Monday if she would consider a post in the Obama administration, she left the door open.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live for us in Chicago this morning. State Department correspondent Zain Verjee is live in Washington.

Let's begin with Suzanne. And, Suzanne, lots of rumors out there. What are you hearing behind-the-scenes?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John despite that Annie Oakley comment that you showed there, there are sources that are close to the transition team who do say that Hillary Clinton, her name is being considered as a possible secretary of state. Now people who I talked to who are close to Clinton on the Clinton side, well, they say that yes, she is aware of all of the buzz but that she has not been approached, to their knowledge not been approached by the Obama team about this particular post.

And you have to remember here, of course, one of her spokespersons saying that all the speculation is up to the Obama people to address this. And you remember back when she was considered perhaps a candidate for the vice president spot, that never happened. So this is something that obviously people are looking at very closely but they're still being very cautious here in the early stages. And there are other possibilities, very strong candidates that folks are talking about, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, of course, as well as Senator John Kerry.

ROBERTS: And, Suzanne, it's kind of interesting and almost odd that we're hearing about Hillary Clinton potentially being named today. Some news organizations were saying because earlier in the week, we heard that they weren't going to be making any other major announcements. So anything else expected from the transition team today?

MALVEAUX: Well, they're crossing the T's, dotting the i's because there are some positions that have been talking about, we've been talking about since last week or so that are pretty much have been in the works.

We know that Robert Gibbs, he's the communications director for the campaign, very much on the top of the list for press secretary. That's a real possibility. We'll get that announcement or confirmation today.

Another possibility is the chief strategist, David Axelrod of the campaign. A loyalist, a close friend of Obama, and here in Chicago, likely to follow him to Washington as his chief adviser. So those are some of announcements we expect could roll out as early as later this afternoon, John.

ROBERTS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us. It would be fascinating if they chose Senator Clinton because we all remember the comments that she made about his policy on Iran. Was it dangerous and naive?

MALVEAUX: That's right. And also, too, some folks are scratching their heads and said, you know, remember when the Obama team was painting as the first lady who was just drinking tea with some of these world leaders, that she really wasn't doing much. Or when she was ducking bullets in Bosnia that never really happened. So all of those things coming to mind again and trying to square the other two candidates, Kerry and Richardson, how would all of that work? It's something a lot of people are talking about this morning, John.

ROBERTS: Ah, the intrigue continues. Suzanne, thanks very much. We'll see you again soon.

CHETRY: Yes. Some say that choosing Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state would go a long way to healing those wounds after the bruising primary battle. But we've talked about where the two repeatedly clashed over international issues.

CNN's Zain Verjee is in Washington for us. You know, as first lady, as we've just been talking about, Clinton traveled all over the world. How would she be received by world leaders as secretary of state?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, the fact of the matter is that she is a huge celebrity worldwide. There is a perception of the Clintons as extremely popular and the perception too of the world in happier and safer times under her husband Bill Clinton. There's also a massive reservoir of goodwill because of the Clinton foundation, various projects, doing some pretty good stuff in countries around the word. So Senator Clinton, where she could become secretary of state, could bask in a lot of that -- Kiran. CHETRY: Yes. What about the top issues for secretary of state? What would she have to deal with first?

VERJEE: Wow. There's some pretty, you know, difficult issues that the secretary of state is going to have to get her head around. I mean, you got two wars that she's going to be walking into. Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear challenges posed by North Korea and Iran, the Israeli Palestinian crisis.

So the next secretary of state and the administration has really going to have to prioritize which of the world challenges do they want to deal with first, because there is a huge amount of expectation as you can imagine around the world, but there is a huge amount of goodwill too. So they can capitalize on that for a while.

One key issue, Kiran, is the financial crisis. I mean, if the pillars are shaky and unstable here at home, it's going to be very difficult for the secretary of state to go out and do foreign policy. It could be slowed down.

CHETRY: Very interesting. All right. We'll follow this throughout the day.

Zain Verjee for us this morning. Thanks.

Well, right now, Republicans are focusing on the future of their party. And in a gathering of Republican governors in Miami yesterday, Sarah Palin was there and in her first speech since the election said that the party should stay engaged and reach out to the new administration.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: We are united, and we understand what it's going to take to get this economy back on the right track, national security issues, immigration issues, education reform, health care reform, those issues that we deal with every day in our states. We want to reach out to the new administration and offer our assistance, our support, offer solutions that I think will be sought by the new administration and by Congress and we're here to help.


CHETRY: That press conference was supposed to last about 20 minutes, but it ended abruptly after only four questions, in part, apparently, because of the awkward staging. Several GOP governors told CNN they felt uncomfortable because they were lined up behind Palin on the stage -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes. That was kind of surprising because she was supposed to do that by herself at first.

Also new this morning, bombshell accusations that the FAA covered up safety threats at one of the country's busiest airports, Dallas- Fort Worth. The Transportation Department is accusing the FAA of intentionally misclassifying 62 cases of planes flying too close together between 2005 and 2007.

Investigators say the agency was trying to protect their traffic controllers responsible for the close calls. It's the second time that the FAA has been accused of covering up safety violations at DFW since 2004.

Well, this morning we finally know what triggered that deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis back in 2007. A brand new government report shows that the metal plates holding the I-35 W bridge together were too small, and they came under enormous strain after contractors stockpiled nearly 300 tons of construction equipment on top of it at the same time motor vehicles were driving by. Thirteen people were killed when the bridge eventually collapsed during rush hour in the Mississippi River.

The percentage of Americans who smoke plunging to its lowest level on record. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 20 percent of the population lights up now. That's about 43.4 million Americans. The CDC attributes the decline to higher taxes, more drugs to help people kick the habit, and an increase in smoking bans. But despite the decrease, officials say deaths related to cigarette are still increasing.

And, Kiran, isn't it great these days to go into a restaurant and not have people smoking?

CHETRY: It's wonderful.

ROBERTS: Food tastes so much better these days.

CHETRY: Exactly, when you can actually breathe instead of choking on it. Thanks, John.

We have breaking news right now. A massive fire destroying homes in the hills near Santa Barbara. The flames are on the move in the same time where Oprah has a massive estate. We're live on the ground with an up-to-the minute update next.

Also, our other breaking story. Senator Hillary Clinton may be up for the secretary of state position in the new Obama administration. With so many ex-Clinton officials leading the transition, could she be a perfect fit?

It's nine minutes after the hour.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROBERTS: Breaking this morning "like lava coming down a volcano." That's how one homeowner described a wildfire. It erupted in the hills near Santa Barbara, California. Some multimillion dollar mansions being swallowed by flames.

Oprah Winfrey's home is in one of the many in the town. It's where she held a fundraised for Barack Obama back in September. Our Chris Lawrence is live nearby in Santa Barbara. And, Chris, from your vantage point there, you can certainly see the flames looking up against the tops of the hills there.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, John. And you mentioned Oprah Winfrey. She's got a $50 million mansion here in this area. Michael Douglas, actor Rob Lowe, just some of the other celebrities who also have called this area home.

As far as I can tell, all of their homes are fine this morning, but there are so many other families who have absolutely nothing to come back to. Right now, right this minute the winds have died down somewhat, but the thing is, it's too late.

Take a look behind me. That is a home sitting on top of the hill. It's completely burned down to the ground. And I can tell you with my own eyes, I saw dozens -- dozens of homes just like it burning literally to the ground.

This was an incredibly powerful fire. It's almost like a firestorm in just that it hit right after sundown about 6:00 and literally within three or four hours you just saw these homes just completely engulf. And when you look at this area, some of these homes are more like estates in that they have a lot of property in between them and it really speaks to the force of that wind that it was able to push those embers great distances to really destroy these homes.

We spoke with the fire captain who described what it was like to be near that fire and just the frustration in not being able to stop it.


CAPTAIN TOM HIMMELRICH, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRE DEPT: A lot of the brush and the trees and stuff are right up next to the structures. And this one happened so fast that nobody had any advance warning at all. So, you know, really not much some people get to do or the homeowners can do in this case.


LAWRENCE: Why did it burn so fast so strongly? Well, this area hasn't had a significant fire in about 30 years. That's a lot of time for a lot of fuel to build up -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Chris Lawrence for us just outside Santa Barbara. Chris, thanks so much for that.

CHETRY: It's 14 minutes after the hour. Our Rob Marciano is off today. Reynolds Wolf is here. He's in the weather center in Atlanta for us.

And you're getting a look as well on the satellite radar of what's going on where Chris is. Is it going to be any better for them today as they try to fight these flames? REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Kiran, I don't think so. You know, you heard Chris talk about it being a lot of time since the last fire, say some 38 years or so and he's talking about a fuel building. What he's referring to is the chaparrals starting at the grasses. A lot of foliage there to burn.

You're seeing the video right here. Again, just an amazing sight. Some of these areas well over a thousand degrees Fahrenheit as it just continues to roar. This is referred to as the Tea Fire, called the Tea Fire.

Now, Cal fire designates these fires by name so that the firefighters can keep track of them, usually named after -- it could be a structure or a creek, a geographical feature. I can tell you the geographical features in terms of weather in this area are going to be rough.

As I mentioned, we have these red flag warnings that are going to be in effect. Come back to me for just a moment if you can. You'll notice low humidity. Check this out.

Winds anywhere from say 40 to 50 miles an hour. But, 50 to 70 mile-per-hour gusts can be expected in those mountain passes through Saturday.

Ladies and gentlemen, those are winds that are basically tropical storm force that are going to be pushing right through these hills. So certainly a rough time to say the least.

Very quickly around the rest of the nation, we do have other weather to talk about. We're seeing some scattered showers in parts of the northeast. I would say from Portland South to Logan Airport in Boston, you may have some delays.

Same story at both airports back over Detroit. Chicago, you may have a little bit of a wait there and same story in Kansas City and into St. Louis.

Kiran, that is the latest we got for you. We got the rain. We got fire. It's a busy morning in the weather department. Back to you.

CHETRY: All right. And we'll check in with you throughout the morning as well. Reynolds, thanks.

WOLF: You bet.

ROBERTS: Fifteen and a half minutes now after the hour.

Left behind. Parents drive cross country to abandon their troubled teens before the law that makes it legal expires.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've all raised teenagers and they can be a challenge, but you don't abandon them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Boy, a terrific song. That song really just really tells us what we've been going through.

We're down 400 points. Now we're up 500 points. The Dow is still a rollercoaster.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is my market technical term for what happened yesterday? Crazy. It was the wildest day, a 900-point range on the day for the Dow.

It was down so sharply people were, you know, reaching for the Maalox. And then suddenly, it rallied sharply at the very end and was up 552 points. So $700 billion of market value added to stocks yesterday on one of the wildest rides, if not the wildest ride I've ever seen in my career of watching the stock market.

The Dow up 552 points. The Nasdaq up 97. The S&P 500 up 58. It was just incredible.

And the president was just steps away from where the Dow Jones is calculated now at the New York Stock Exchange. He was at Federal Hall and he was trying to sort of retake the moral authority on American style capitalism. It goes hand-in-hand with democracy.

We've been trying to spread it around the world for some time. We have a long history of this being the cornerstone of our foreign policy, and it's been humbled frankly over the past few months.

The president before this weekend emergency summit of G-20 leaders at the White House, standing up before the cameras and adoring audience, frankly, and saying, look, you know, "We do it better than anybody else and we're going to continue to push our style of free market capitalism." Listen to what he said.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The record is unmistakable. If you seek economic growth, if you seek opportunity, if you seek social justice and human dignity, the free market system is the way to go.


ROMANS: And then he went on to say, "It would be a terrible mistake to let a few months undermine or undo 60 years of progress."

Now, the president-elect, Barack Obama, will not be at this big meeting at the White House this weekend. The president-elect, of course, I mean, his team have said from the beginning that there's one president at a time. But a lot of people who watch these sorts of things, he's going to have former Congressman Jim Leach and secretary of state, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright represent him. But he is keeping his distance on this big meeting.

We don't know what they're going to -- if there will be any concrete measures that come out of it. A lot of agreement that there should be some more, big fiscal stimulus from all these countries. So we'll see if there's something that comes out of it.

ROBERTS: And we're certainly hearing a lot from foreign leaders that anything big is going to have to wait until Obama.

ROMANS: That's exactly right.

ROBERT: He's not inaugurated so --

ROMANS: That's right.

ROBERTS: We'll see what happens. Christine, thanks.

Breaking news this morning. Hillary Clinton emerging as a candidate. Possible one for the State Department. The role that she could play as the nation's top diplomat and whether she would take the job.

And a reminder, still time to vote for CNN's "Hero of the Year." Head to, read their stories and then make your pick online. And join Anderson Cooper on thanksgiving night when we reveal the big winner.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I refuse to believe it's over. In fact, you know, we've been doing this so long I cannot remember a time I was not covering this election. So we still on weekends, I still get members of the best political team on television. We get them over to my house and, you know, we sit around and we talk about polls that don't really exist and --


CHETRY: There's our own Anderson Cooper talking about his election withdrawal to Jay Leno.

There's still huge beltway buzz, of course, to talk about this morning with word that Senator Hillary Clinton is under consideration to be the next secretary of state in an Obama administration. Now while there are no confirmations, there are no denials either and that can be very telling in Washington.

Joining me now to talk more about this is "Washington Post" reporter and CNN political contributor Dana Milbank. Thanks for being with us this morning, Dana.

DANA MILBANK, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Kiran. CHETRY: So what do you make of this? Because the buzz is that she is a potential contender and there is some reporting that an announcement could come as early as today.

MILBANK: Yes. Well, it makes complete sense, you know, that maybe Obama was concerned about her charge that he wouldn't be the one to answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. Now, Hillary can do it for him. She can take that emergency phone call.

And it's on the one hand kind of shocking that this would occur, but it would be very much following in the pattern that we've seen lately with the whole sort of gaggle of Clinton appointees who have gone into exile these last eight years are all showing up again. It's perhaps a bit of a surprise to a lot of the people who voted for Obama, but it's definitely a sort of a reemergence of the democratic establishment. It would just be the cap (ph) of that.

CHETRY: Hey, you were -- you're right. You were joking when we were talking in the break about the reconstituting the monarchy. But really, I mean, you're right. Barack Obama ran on a message of change doing things differently and having new voices in there. Could this possibly undermine that?

MILBANK: Well, he's got a lot of starry-eyed supporters out there who thought he's going to just change the way everything is done in this town. I think if anything, it's an encouraging sign that he realizes that you just don't bring in revolutionaries and change everything overnight. You bring in smart people who have done this before who know how to do it. So that's what he's doing.

I mean, he's taking a bit of a political gamble here. But you know, you've seen these polls showing these expectations that are just extraordinarily high for him. I have no idea how he can possibly satisfy the wishes of his supporters.

CHETRY: This will be interesting, though, to see this no modern secretary of state has gone on to become president. And we look back at it and we're talking pre-civil war. Does this mean that Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions are over?

MILBANK: Well, it may be. I mean, it may be any way because, you know, she's really not going to be able to do this again for eight years. Then she's approaching sort of McCain age there. But, certainly, this may be more challenging for her than just returning to the Senate where it does not look like she was in line for a major committee chairmanship. So she was looking at more of the same and this is a very exciting thing.

Now, she actually gets to be secretary of state. In fact, her husband is sort of acting as a shadow secretary of state for these last several years. She'll probably get to do the real thing.

CHETRY: Yes. So quickly, how would that factor in? How would the ex-president factor, Bill Clinton factor into this?

MILBANK: Well, he's got a lot of entanglements. Raised a lot of money from places around the world that aren't necessarily in line with how U.S. policies are being executed. That is perhaps the main obstacle to her being named secretary of state. They have to figure out a way to kind of keep his foreign travels and entanglements under wraps.

CHETRY: Right. Hey, before we let you go, I want to ask you, did you get a chance to see that rather bizarre, as it was described by some in the press conference yesterday at the Republican Governors Association?

Sarah Palin and then all of the other Republican governors sort of behind her as she was answering questions in this impromptu press conference. Some of them said it made them look like she was the de facto leader of their party. What's going on with that?

MILBANK: It was -- I think it's their own fault. It was her press conference. They all decided to show up as a show of support and wound up looking like props. So the election may be over but we still have Sarah Palin around. Everybody is grateful for that.

The governors may have been a bit sore about that, but I noticed on the Republican governors agenda for the afternoon, they had a day of beauty with pedicures and massages. So I expect Haley Barbour had, you know, cucumbers on his eyes and some sort of wrap going around.

CHETRY: You know, men can benefit from pedicures as well. I'll tell you what.

MILBANK: Absolutely. So I'm sure everything is fine now.

CHETRY: Dana Milbank, great to talk to you this morning. Thanks.

MILBANK: Thanks, Kiran.

ROBERTS: It's 29 minutes after the hour. Breaking news this morning.

An out of control wildfire spreading right now in the hills near Santa Barbara, California. The flames destroyed dozens of homes, including some multimillion dollar mansions in the tiny town of Montecito.

Many celebrity estates are in the town including Oprah's 42-acre spread called the Promised Land. Firefighters say 2,500 people were ordered to get out of the area and at least a thousand homes are in danger.

A dormitory at Virginia Tech is back open this morning. Police locked down the residence hall yesterday after reports of gunfire. Police searched every room but say the noise came from a nail gun at a nearby construction site. The scare was the first time that the university used its new text message alert system after a gunman killed 32 people there last year.

And Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, posed for photos with Dick and Lynne Cheney outside of what will be the Biden's new home in Washington. Biden says he has been inside the mansion before at the Naval Observatory, but after commuting from Delaware for decades by train, this will be the first time that he has ever lived in Washington.

Well, the GOP is trying to find out why it's losing the fastest growing group in the American population, Latinos. Many Hispanic voters who flipped to Barack Obama on Election Day say, Republicans have to tone down the rhetoric, especially on one critical issue. AMERICAN MORNING's Jason Carroll joins us now.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you. That issue, obviously, immigration. Looking for a change in policy. The Latinos voted in record numbers during the election. They helped Barack Obama in key battleground states. Now Republicans have to work on how to win those votes back.


CARROLL (voice-over): Republican governors at their convention are looking inward and outward, asking those in the party which voters they should have done a better job at reaching out to during the campaign.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: We didn't get the Hispanic vote. That really hurt.

CARROLL: They lost the vote of people like George Herrera, who had voted Republican until now.

GEORGE HERRERA, HERRERA-CRISTINA GROUP, LTD.: I am, you know, a little disgusted with this party going to a real neo-conservative mindset.

CARROLL: Herrera says he like many Latinos felt Republicans were on the wrong side of issues such as the economy and immigration. Herrera criticized Senator John McCain for backing away from his own immigration reform bill.

HERRERA: I think he was very disingenuousness in dealing with the issue with the Hispanic community. And, you know, don't insult our intelligence.

CARROLL: Similar sentiments from Latinos in Los Angeles, turned off by GOP anti-immigration rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a big deal for me to go with the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really -- I don't like they treat our people.

CARROLL: Political experts warn Republicans had better listen.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Immigration, unfortunately, was probably the torpedo that sank the ship.

CARROLL: Latino votes helped Democrats flip battleground states of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida. Florida's Republican governor told CNN's Wolf Blitzer his party needs to do more.

GOV. CHARLES CRIST (R), FLORIDA: We need to reach out to all people and include everyone, and include them at the table.

CARROLL: But how? Cuban-American community leader Jorge Mas Santos says don't take them for granted.

JORGE MAS SANTOS, CUBAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION: Our community is traditionally a Republican community, but when there's a candidate that speaks not only to our needs, they can receive the support of the Cuban-American community.

CARROLL: Other expert advice, support pro-immigration policies and shift influence within the party coming from the right.

ANTONIO GONZALEZ, WILLIAM C. VELASQUEZ INSTITUTE: If you're going to be successful among Latinos, Republicans have to move towards the center.


ROBERTS: Well, the problem with moving to the center is many people who make up the Republican base are firmly to the right. So, how do you move without alienating them? The GOP will have to use these next few years to find some answers.

ROBERTS: You know, and a lot of people are talking about in terms of this rebuilding and consolidation of the Republican Party moving even further to the right.


ROBERTS: So, right may not be right. I don't know.

CARROLL: They've got some problems there. They've got to work out.

ROBERTS: Definitely. Absolutely. Jason, thanks for that.

CHETRY: You know, speaking of problems this morning, the auto industry is on the brink of financial ruin. And they are begging for your tax dollars. So, what happens if Washington doesn't help out Detroit's big three?

And word of his pregnancy stunned the world. Now, the so-called pregnant man is about to spark a second worldwide media frenzy. You can probably guess why. We'll have details. It's 33 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: There's some growing signs this morning that Democrats may not have enough votes in the Senate to pass an immediate bailout of the auto industry. And executives for Detroit's big three say that they are barely holding on. So, how did they end up in such bad shape? And do they deserve your tax dollars? Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, GM is desperate for a bailout. The company has been burning through cash and could soon fail to pay bills without some help.


CHERNOFF: New Jersey caddie dealer Craig Pldetner believes Americans have to lend money to General Motors because millions of jobs are at stake.

CRAIG PLDETNER, TOWNE CADILLAC: It's a temporary loan to get ourselves back on our feet so we can get this market motivated. Sell more vehicles.

CHERNOFF: But a few miles away, Congressman Scott Garrett argues a taxpayer bailout would simply throw good money after bad.

REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: They are simply going to simply burn through this money at a rapid pace and they could very likely -- they'll be coming back to Congress once again.

CHERNOFF: Opponents of the bailout say GM is a bloated company that failed to change with the times, relying too much on selling gas guzzlers. Paying autoworkers more than foreign carmakers paid and granting generous retirements packages, when they could feel afford them. So they questioned, why should taxpayers have to pay for management mistakes?

GARRETT: Well, the taxpayer is asking where does it end?

CHERNOFF: You don't see that.

GARRETT: I don't see an end.

CHERNOFF: The fact is GM is restructuring to save billions in expenses. It's cutting manufacturing capacity, reducing inventories of raw materials, and plans to have an independent trust fund retiree health benefits. But the full cost savings won't be in place until the end of next year.

KENNETH ELIAS, KELLER & ASSOCIATES: The problem with General Motors has been that it's always been a day late, a dollar short.

CHERNOFF: Can GM survive? Auto experts say yes but not without federal loans -- billions this year and probably billions more next year. And they say GM still needs radical restructuring to shrink the company.

ELIAS: They need to cut brand and refocus on a couple core brands like, for example, Chevrolet and Cadillac, and cut a lot of fluff out. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: The sooner the economy picks up, the better chance GM has of recovery. The problem is the economic slump is turning out to be far worse than GM had anticipated making a turn around even with a federal bailout that much more difficult.



ROBERTS: Left behind. Parents drive cross country to abandon their troubled teens before the law that makes it legal expires.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've all raise teenagers and they can be a challenge, but you don't abandon them.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 41-1/2 minutes after the hour. Let's fast forward to stories that will be making news later on today. President Bush welcomes world leaders to Washington for a Global Economic Summit. The event kicks off with a dinner tonight. Then, over the weekend, the top 20 leaders of developing countries will begin talks and try to reverse the financial crisis.

Just before 8:00 Eastern tonight, the space shuttle "Endeavour" will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle and its seven astronauts are headed to the International Space Station with some supplies to expand the space station's living quarters for bigger crews. They're also adding a second bathroom, little on sweet thing, with a two-person Jacuzzi. Two sleeping compartments and upgrading the kitchen. They have been waiting for that Viking stove for a long time now.

Gasoline prices, by the way, dropping more than two cents overnight. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular, $2.15 a gallon. Since September, oil prices have plunged more than 44 percent.


CHETRY: Well, having a teenager in the house can be tough. But for some parents it's so difficult that it becomes just too much to take. Our Ed Lavandera found some desperate parents taking drastic measures.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, since Nebraska's safe haven law went into effect about four months ago, it's created a disturbing trend, parents dropping off not newborn babies, but in most cases troubled teenagers.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): It happened again Thursday.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A boy age 14 and a girl age 17.

LAVANDERA: A mother left her two teenage children in this Omaha hospital. It's happened 33 times since July. Parents taking advantage of the no age limit loophole in Nebraska's Safe Haven Law. A Georgia mother who drove her teenage son here said she was desperate to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: You may have a great life and you may have great kids and be grateful for that, you know. And just don't knock the parents that end up dropping their child off there.

LAVANDERA: The Safe Haven Law was designed to protect infants, but almost all of the children left so far are over the age of 10. Nebraska's governor says an age limit must be established immediately.

GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN (R), NEBRASKA: Please don't bring your teenager to Nebraska. It's not appropriate. And think what you're saying. You know, we've all raised teenagers. They can be a challenge. But you don't abandon them.

LAVANDERA: So Nebraska lawmakers are gathering for a special session to change the law. Most appear ready to establish a three day age limit but some are pushing for a limit closer to 30 days.

TODD LANDRY, NEBRASKA HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: The real purpose of this special session, I believe, is to make sure we get back to that intent of protecting newborns and infants. I think three days is the right amount of time.

LAVANDERA: There's a sense here that something must be done quickly to stop the flow of troubled teens left on the state's door steps. Five children were brought from other states. In one of those cases, a father flew his son into Nebraska from Miami, and then left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you've seen is an extraordinary cry for help from people across the country. That shocked me. But we can't -- Nebraska can't afford to take care of all of them.


LAVANDERA: Nebraska lawmakers will start special session today to add the age limit to the Safe Haven Law. But that will take at least a week. And many state officials are worried that parents from across the country will race here to leave their children.

John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Ed Lavandera for us this morning. Ed, thanks so much. Remember the transgender man who gave birth? Well, he is making headlines again. Our Jeanne Moos takes a look at the pending announcement as only she can. It's 45 minutes after the hour.

CHETRY: Election depression.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking down the signs the other day was like taking down the Christmas decorations.


CHETRY: Crazy for the campaign. Helping loved ones with election withdrawal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went from breathing, living, talking, nothing but politics. And now it's been kind of went down to nothing.


CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Well, you remember the pregnant transgender man. It was a worldwide sensation when he announced he was pregnant. Well, it seems that he, too, wants another baby. Just four months after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, he's eating for two again. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The pregnant man is pregnant again.



MOOS: Yes.


MOOS (voice-over): Listen to the gasp. Barbara Walters has announced it on "The View."

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": The pregnant man...

MOOS: Pregnant, pause.

WALTERS: pregnant again.


MOOS: Thomas Beatie, formerly Tracy Beatie, is the subject of a Barbara Walters special. And what's especially hard is knowing what to call it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remember the pregnant man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The so-called pregnant man.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you're probably saying it's a man who had a baby. Bull shizzle, it's a woman.

MOOS: Beatie was born female, but always identified as male. Kept his internal reproductive organs so he can have children, but took male hormones and had his breasts removed.

Up in CNN's make up room, minds were made up. I got complaints about the media calling Beatie a man.

(on camera): You have a beef with the pregnant man. What's the problem?

ERIN GORT, CNN MAKE-UP ARTIST: Where's the beef, just kidding. You can wear a fur coat and crap in the litter box but that doesn't make you a cat.

MOOS (voice-over): Meow. No wonder Barbara's special is called "What is a Man, What is a Woman." Nothing about cats.


MOOS: Maybe his wife injected him with donor's sperm 4-1/2 months after their daughter was born, comes the scoop that baby is pregnant again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It's kind of weird for me, right? What's going on, man?

BEATIE: I used my female reproductive organs to become a father.

WALTERS: Aren't you trying to have it both ways?

BEATIE: Well, first of all, what would be wrong with that? I'm not trying to change people's mind. I'm just asking them to open them.

MOOS: Easier said than done. He's been the subject of a cutting cartoon, depicting befuddled doctors. He's inspired YouTube spoofs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women should not be drinking while they're pregnant, but I'm a man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a man is going to get a gut, you're going to do it the old fashion way -- beer, nachos.

MOOS: Beatie told ABC he's been reading a picture book to his daughter -- "Mr. Seahorse." It's about how male seahorses carry their offspring until birth.

(on camera): Mr. Seahorse wiggled and twisted this way and that. At last, the babies tumbled from Mr. Seahorse's pouch and swam away.

(voice-over): A second baby is scheduled to tumble from Mr. Beatie's pouch in June.

(on camera): Is it a boy? Is it a girl? No, not the baby, the one having the baby.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ROBERTS: Breaking news. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State? After all these two have been through...


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We are on the same team.


ROBERTS: Big buzz over his former rival's possible new role.

Plus, Obama for sale.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your hottest seller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hold button.


ROBERTS: Earrings, t-shirts, deadheads for Obama? They say, face it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it has Obama on it, it will sell.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." They are being called "Obamagelicals," a new breed of evangelical voters concerned about poverty, health care and the environment. They voted for Barack Obama.

David Brody is a CNN political contributor. He's also senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, and he's live from Washington this morning. Well, David, if we take a look at the results of the election, Barack Obama increased the percentage that Democratic Party got in evangelical -- at least voters who identify themselves as Evangelicals, 24 percent, depending on which poll you believe. It's up anywhere between 3 and 5 percent over what John Kerry got in 2004. Perhaps, more importantly, though, he raised the margins among evangelical voters by 14 percent in Colorado, when he captured 32 percent of young Evangelicals.

How significant is that? Is this an indication that the Republican Party's lock on evangelical voters is beginning to weaken a bit?

DAVID BRODY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, John, I think it's pretty significant. I mean, look at North Carolina. Take North Carolina, for example. Obama's Evangelicals turned out. McCain's was down about 3, 4 percent. And then, of course, North Carolina was a state in the balance for a while and eventually went to Obama.

So, I mean, that's the type of impact an Obama had in this election as it relates to Evangelicals because he was able to increase his evangelical turnout.

Look, I think, when it comes to the GOP, it's not so much about those conservative Evangelicals. They're still with the GOP, if you will. But it's all about now the broader discussion and that is really the key point here. As to which way this evangelical discussion is going to go in the future, is it going to be on abortion or marriages? It's going to be broader than that. And that's where those "Obamagelicals" come into play.

ROBERTS: So, what's the difference between an "Obamagelical" and a traditional evangelical voter?

BRODY: I tell you, it sounds like something out of a Schwarzenegger movie - an "Obamagelical." I can't even pronounce it. It's like nine, 94 syllables.

ROBERTS: It's the "Obamagelicals." They're out there.

BRODY: The "Obamagelicals." Look, I mean, I think that the difference is that the "Obamagelicals," if you will, want to have a broader discussion about what faith means when it comes to public policy and that is the key, John.

In other words, the traditional, if you will, Evangelicals, want to talk more about abortion and marriage, but also they believe that the Bible is the inherent word of God, the literal word of God.

These "Obamagelicals," if you look inside the numbers, there's a survey out there done by beliefnet, where they talk about 58 percent of these "Obamagelicals" actually don't believe it's the literal word of God, every single word in the Bible. And that seems to be the difference between these two different groups.

And what's also interesting here, John, is the halls of power now, you know, the Doctor Dobson's and the Tony Perkins and others, you know, they're not going to have a role in an Obama administration. But the Jim Wallis' with Sojourners, Faith in Public Life, some of the Matthew 25 Network, these folks are now going to have more of a say in shaping what comes out of this evangelical movement and that's a concern, especially on the far right.

ROBERTS: So, these differences in the interpretation of the Bible, over abortion, over gay rights, how do these differences exist? Is it social influences, is it Church teaching? What is it?

BRODY: Well, that's a -- you know, that's great question. And it's something that's going to go much deeper. I mean, I think, you'll get different answers from different people. I think at the end of the day, there's this -- I'll be honest with you, there's the bewilderment on the right side of this equation for people to say, how can you call yourself an evangelical if you're OK with the abortion issue, as being pro-choice and if you're OK with gay civil unions. There's a lot of head scratching on the right.

So, I think, part of the problem here, John, is when we talk about Evangelicals, you know, how are actual Evangelicals described, does it mean that you believe in every single word in the Bible or is it a little broader than that. I think what you're seeing with the "Obamagelicals: is that it's a broader definition and not a literal definition of the Bible. And it's confusing.

ROBERTS: So, is this trend expected to increase and might that play in Democrats' favor in 2010, 2012?

BRODY: I don't think there's any question about, that it's probably going to increase. And the reason it's going to increase is that Barack Obama is seen somewhat especially in these circles as friendly to religion. He's not a soapbox. He'll be able to talk about these issues. And going back to the halls of power, a lot of these groups are going to be able to have more of an influence, if you will, in public policy as it relates to Washington.

So, the challenge is going to be for the focus on the families and the family researchers -- research council is to get their views and opinions out there in a very saturated and tough environment for them in the next couple of years.

ROBERTS: All right. Fascinating stuff this morning. David Brody, thanks so much. Good to see you. Have a great weekend.

BRODY: Thanks, John. You, too.