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FDA Gives Green Light on Human Stem Cell Trial; Economy Tops Obama's Agenda; Obama Drops in on the Press; Hillary Clinton's Rock Star Welcome at the State Department; A Look at President Obama's First 100 Hours; Merrill Lynch CEO Out; Interview with Madeleine Albright

Aired January 23, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're coming up on a minute before the top of the hour. A look at the top stories. And reports this morning that New York Governor David Paterson will pick Upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat. There she is pictured there.

Paterson is expected to make this announcement -- scheduled to do it actually at noon Eastern today. Gillibrand is a relative unknown to most New Yorkers, but has close ties to Senator Clinton. She actually worked on her 2000 campaign for Senate. Today's announcement comes a little more than 24 hours after Caroline Kennedy, once widely considered to be the front-runner for that Senate seat, abruptly ended her bid.

Well, this morning the first order of business for President Obama is the economy. He'll huddle with top Republicans and Democrats at the White House to push his economic recovery plan. The president is also scheduled to meet with Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner.

A new view of the miracle on the Hudson this morning. Fresh video capturing those dramatic moments right after US Airways flight 1549 made that emergency landing a week ago. You can see the door swing open and the inflatable ramps pop out as the first few passengers file out on to the wings. All 155 people made it out alive. Crews are expected to raise the plane's second engine from the river later this morning.

And breaking news in the medical world this morning. The FDA giving the green light to one U.S. company for human trials using stem cells on spinal patients.

Embryonic stem cells. The study is the first of its kind and could be a huge step in stem cell research. Trials could begin as early as this summer and senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is tracking this one for us. She joins us live from Atlanta this morning.

So Elizabeth, put this in perspective for us. How big of a deal is this?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Kiran, this is a very big deal. Human embryonic stem cells -- those are stem cells that are taken from human embryos hold promise to treat all sorts of diseases. This is the first time that they're going to try out these stem cells to help sick human beings. They've used them in animals for years, but this will be the first time in the United States and probably in the world that they're going to try them out in sick human beings.

Now, take a look at some of the video that we're going to show you. We're going to show you video from the actual lab, the Geron Corporation we shot there in 2007. This is the actual lab where they make these stem cells. Again, they come from human embryos and they show promise in treating all sorts of diseases from spinal cord injuries to diabetes -- Kiran.

CHETRY: So what are they going to do exactly with the stem cells?

COHEN: What they're going to do is they're going to find around ten people who have some kind of a spinal cord injury, let's say a car accident, and they're unable to walk. They're going to take these embryonic stem cells. They're going to treat them in the lab in a certain way and use them to see if they can possibly help these people and also if they're safe to use. They want to make sure that using these embryonic stem cells doesn't actually hurt these people. Hopefully they will help these people to walk again.

CHETRY: And also, of course, we've followed a huge moral debate surrounding the use of embryonic stem cell research. Where did they get these embryos?

COHEN: Where they got these embryos is from fertility labs, Kiran. We're all familiar with this. A couple can't have children the natural way, they go into a lab and they make embryos. Well often they don't use all those embryos that they make and some of them sit in frozen and liquid nitrogen for years and years. So they go to these fertility clinics, they get these embryos and to put bluntly, they have to destroy these embryos in order to turn them into a stem cell treatment. And that's, of course, where the controversy comes in, and that is why this research has been relatively slow over the years. A lot of people object to it.

CHETRY: All right. Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, turning to our other top story this morning, the struggling economy, priority number one for President Obama. This morning, meetings with congressional leaders to push that estimated $825 billion stimulus plan. He is also expected to meet with his economic wingman, Timothy Geithner. Right now the Senate planning to vote on his confirmation as treasury secretary on Monday. And in a move to show that the administration is very serious about the current economic crisis, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed that the president will now receive a daily briefing on the economy, just like his daily brief on intelligence.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As the country is in the midst of an economic crisis and an economic emergency, he felt it was important that each day he receive the most up-to-date information as it relates to the economy.


ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House for us this morning. And Suzanne, behind the scenes, the president truly putting a spotlight on the economy, and wanting the American people to know that he's on the job.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's actually trying to show that he's doing things differently here at this White House and one of the things you mentioned is that economic daily briefing that is going to take place every day. And essentially he's going to take a look at the numbers, the unemployment numbers, the jobs numbers. And just like the intelligence security briefing, he wants to see what is a threat to the economy, how do they fix it, and where do they go from here?

He's also going to be meeting with the bipartisan leadership, members of Congress here at the White House later today to try to push through that $825 billion economic stimulus package. Really wants to see something on his desk within weeks, but that's going to be a tough sell for him.

We also know that he's meeting with the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. They're going to be going over those budget numbers. All of this, John, in an effort to show the American people that, look, this is priority number one, that he's on top of it and he's got the latest information. He's just got to figure out how to fix all of this.

ROBERTS: And the president also made a surprise visit to the briefing room yesterday, and then walked around in the press room, those little tiny cubicles, where people sit with their shoulders jammed up against each other and toiling away during the day.

MALVEAUX: He was kind of surprised.


MALVEAUX: He was kind of surprised to see our digs actually, but they're a lot better than they used to be. But yes, he bounced into the press briefing room and it was kind of chaotic, actually.

You know, a lot of the people, photographers who hadn't had a chance to see him before, some reporters, they all gathered around him. He was shaking hands.

He went back to the break room and saw the snack machine, said "you guys got to eat a lot better than this." And then he was talking to one of our photographers, Burt Bernham (ph), who actually -- he said, "you know, I feel kind of sorry for you guys. You know, you're always, you know, on your knees. You're lugging this gear around."

So there was a lot of joking back and forth. Very lighthearted until a moment when one reporter decided to give him kind of a tough question. It was over a controversy over one of his picks in the Defense Department, and his role as a lobbyist. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how do you reconcile Mr. Lynn?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, see, hold on a second, guys. I came down here to visit. I didn't come down here --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have strict lobbying rules. Lynn is a lobbyist, sir.

OBAMA: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry, guys. We'll --

OBAMA: This is what happens. I can't end up visiting you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here.


MALVEAUX: So John, President Obama said, you know, there will be a press conference and he'll answer some questions, so that's what we're counting on. We're like OK, we're going to hold him to that. We're going to see how many press conferences he's actually going to give.

I had a chance to see him very briefly yesterday. I was in the upper press office and he was headed to Gibbs' office to congratulate him for his first briefing, and he just kind of whisked by, you know. One of the aides up there, I didn't see him, said oh, you know, Gibbs is on a conference call and Obama joked and said, you know, "I'm the president. I can do whatever I want." And everybody just kind of started laughing a little bit and he went into Gibbs' office, said congratulations and then just shot off and was back to the Oval Office. So he's around. He's actually making himself available.


MALVEAUX: We'll see how long that lasts.

ROBERTS: Well, sort of available, you know, for a social visit at least. I mean, Jonathan Martin wasn't exactly grilling him on that.

I remember back in the Clinton administration, President Clinton would come down to the press room from time to time and he would sit around and he would have discussions with the correspondents there.

MALVEAUX: I remember, too, when President Clinton on Air Force One used to come back to the portion where we would sit and he would talk so long for hours that people would pretend they were asleep just to like, you know, make him go away, make him go away.

MALVEAUX: Exactly. We never had that with President Bush.

ROBERTS: Mr. President, are you done yet? We'd really like to get a nap before we wake up.


ROBERTS: All right.

MALVEAUX: We'll see if that happens on Air Force One with President Obama.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much, Suzanne.

CHETRY: That's one strategy, right? You talk, you talk, you talk so much that no one cares anymore what you're saying.

ROBERTS: Please, leave. We'd like to get some sleep. There's only three hours left in this flight.

Senator John McCain making it clear that he's interested in supporting and working with President Obama. In his first interview since the inauguration, the president's former campaign rival told CNN's Larry King that despite the rough campaign he has developed a good relationship with the president.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Have you really become friendly with the president?


KING: Because I know that you were in the Senate sometimes you had your moments.

MCCAIN: But we work together on a number of issues, but it's hard to say that you are friends with a president of the United States. I think that I had a good relationship with President Reagan. I think I had a good relationship with President Bush, both President Bushes. But you know, what I believe is that I have established a relationship with the president that we can work together. And I think that's about what you expect in a relationship with the president of the United States.


ROBERTS: And Senator McCain also told Larry King that he and his former running mate, Sarah Palin, remain "very close" despite the post-election battles between their advisers. He also said that he looks forward to seeing Governor Palin in a week or so.

CHETRY: All right, well surrounded by smart people, stressing smart power, it's the new focus on diplomacy, front and center as Hillary Clinton takes over as the secretary of state. Clinton's new staff gave her a rock star welcome. She worked the crowd like it was one of her old political rallies.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I want you to give me the best advice you can. I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate. And the kind of dialogue that will make us better.


CHETRY: CNN's Jill Dougherty was at that welcoming ceremony. She joins us live from Washington. A little behind-the-scenes color on what it was like to be in the room as Secretary Clinton took center stage.

Hi, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. Well, you know, we were on the balcony behind Secretary Clinton as she came in and there were a thousand people looking down on them in this entrance hall where the flags are. I'm sure you've seen that scene and it was incredible, taking pictures, people snapping with their cell phones, et cetera.

There is a rock star quality. There have been others, you know, think of Colin Powell, but this is a big deal for the State Department, and she was saying the things that the staff here really want to hear, because these are people who have been demoralized, actually. They're responsible at the State Department for the image of the United States, and when you have things like Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib and everything, plus resources that have been taken from the State Department, she needed to give them a pep talk and she said what they wanted to hear.

Also, she said that she's going to be pulling back some of the responsibilities that used to be under the State Department traditionally, but then were pushed over into the Defense Department, things like development. And she's making it clear she wants those back, and these are the people who are going to carry that out, Kiran.

The economy, of course, President Obama's priority right now. So how much is that huge pressing need going to impact how much Secretary Clinton takes the helm in terms of foreign affairs?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, the economy actually will be used by the State Department as part of the overall look at how the foreign policy of the United States is carried out, because the economy has big political implications as well. So that's one thing that Hillary Clinton has been talking about, and then the other thing that would be very interesting to watch is all of these heavy-hitters in foreign policy who are in the government, in the administration, people like the vice president, the defense secretary, the national security adviser, and the two special envoys, special envoy and representative, George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, who have both been named just yesterday to these positions as special envoys. And they also have a long history, a lot of experience in the area, so there will be quite a few people with a lot of big portfolios, talking to the president about where the U.S. should take its foreign policy.

CHETRY: All right. Jill Dougherty for us. One programming note, coming up a little later in the show, in just about 15 minutes, we're going to be speaking with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

ROBERTS: President Obama promised to get to work fast, tackling a heavy agenda in the first 100 days, but the president's team is fighting off a huge chunk of work in just the first 100 hours. Is it too much, too fast?

And from the moment he announced he was a candidate, the threats against Barack Obama have grown and grown. Ahead, an in-depth look at the daunting task of keeping number 44 safe.

It's 12 minutes after the hour.



CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": President Obama signed the order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. That's big, closing it down. And in the spirit of ending torture, Obama also ended the "New Kids on the Block" tour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. President Barack Obama promising to move swiftly, tackling the slew of critical issues, first and foremost, of course, the economy. But the new president's first few days have been fast and furious on a number of different fronts and some people are already raising caution flags. Jim Acosta is on that story for us this morning -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, better lace up your running shoes. The expectations were that Barack Obama would move pretty fast in his first 100 days, but nobody mentioned the first 100 hours.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Less than 100 hours into the job, President Obama is off to the races, signing executive orders at a furious pace.

OBAMA: Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.

ACOSTA: He's broken in his economic team and selected new hot spot envoys for the Middle East and Afghanistan. He's even had an oath of office do-over after the first one was flubbed at the inaugural.

GIBBS: I was there, but far easier to get tickets for this one.

ACOSTA: Democrat leaders are also sprinting, urging Congress to work quickly on an economic stimulus package.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't think we can go fast enough.

ACOSTA: But there are calls to slow down. Government watchdogs have launched the Web site demanding that lawmakers read the plan's fine print. Some Republicans are also asking what's the rush on issues from Guantanamo...

JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Do we bring into our borders? Do we release them back into the battlefield.

ACOSTA: ... to the approval of treasury secretary nominee Tim Geithner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In previous years, nominees that had made less serious errors in their taxes than this nominee have been forced to withdraw.

JOE LOCKHART, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right now, they could push anything through, and it looks like they're trying to push everything through.

ACOSTA: Clinton administration press secretary Joe Lockhart says there's good reason for all the urgency.

(on camera): Is there a danger in doing too much too fast?

LOCKHART: I think there's a danger in looking like you don't have a plan, but they've been very deliberate here in setting these things up into issue areas, and I think they are able to move on multiple fronts.

ACOSTA (voice-over): "Mad" magazine captured the frenetic Obama pace with its cover "The First 100 Minutes." But as senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told me before the inauguration, there's one thing that won't happen overnight, fixing the economy.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR OBAMA ADVISER: We're talking about years to turn around some really profound economic problems here.


ACOSTA: The president has added a new daily economic briefing to his already busy schedule. The idea is to keep President Obama up to speed with an economic emergency that's changing quickly -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Jim Acosta for us this morning, thanks so much.

Well, as his company was going under, one bank bigwig spent more than $1 million redecorating? Wait until you hear what he paid for a pair of chairs and for a commode on legs.

And inside Air Force One, wait until you see how much a president can still accomplish in midair, even President Obama seems impressed.

It's seventeen and a half minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: We're excited for Fridays. No booze yet but a little bit of Red Bull to keep you guys going for your weekend. There you go.

ROBERTS: That would be product placement.

CHETRY: Oh, it could be any generic energy drink. It happens to be Red Bull today.

Christine Romans joins us now. Hello, we got some outrage today for sure.


Well, if you look at John Thain, the Merrill Lynch CEO is out. You remember Merrill Lynch? The company was in so much trouble that Bank of America had to buy it. He's out now and it's messy.

There is now an investigation into secret last-minute bonuses handed out to Merrill employees even as that company was hemorrhaging money. And Wall Street is buzzing with reports that Thain redecorated his office at Merrill Lynch last year with $1.2 million -- $1.2 million for an office, even as he was laying off thousands of worker there.

Wall street yesterday riveted to a report on CNBC that he hired a famous interior designer and paid $87,000 for a rug, pair of chairs, a commode on wheels -- not on a commode on wheels but like a side table thing called a commode. Some of these things, oh, my God, in an office.

ROBERTS: Not a toilet on wheels?

ROMANS: Not a toilet on wheels. (INAUDIBLE), no, but it's some kind of a fancy side table.

Anyway, all of this as Merrill lynch is absorbed by Bank of America. Bank of America forced to borrow $20 billion from taxpayers to just survive. A Bank of America spokesman says that the office redecorating report occurred before the bank bought Merrill and before, of course, taxpayer money was poured into there. But seriously, a lot of buzz yesterday about all of this.

2008 bonuses at Merrill paid out early and in secret, according to a New York official who said they're investigating that, and John Thain is out.

This is a guy who was brought into the New York Stock Exchange, remember?

CHETRY: To fix things, right?

ROMANS: To fix things after Dick Grasso there was under just an awful lot of controversy for a $100 million pay package. He was seen as Mr. Fix-it and then according to the CNBC report he was personally signing off on these very expensive things at Merrill Lynch to redecorate his office even as they were firing thousands of workers.

CHETRY: Can you go on a virtual shopping spree to see how long it takes you to spend $1.2 million on an office? It's mind boggling.

ROMANS: It sounds like if you have one of these designers they can do it quite quickly. You know, but we're right back into, you know, Dennis --

Remember Dennis Kozlowski (ph). Remember all --

CHETRY: Ice sculptures look like nothing.

ROMANS: I know, I know.

ROBERTS: You know, when you think about the effect on taxpayers on all of this. I'm reminded of that line from "Liar, Liar" where Jim Carrey goes to get his car in the pound and he says, "I'm just going to bend over and take it up the tailpipe."

ROMANS: Do you want to know what's really sad about this? It's that $1.2 million is nothing compared with how much money has been sunk into all of these banks. I mean, it's just a little drop in the bucket.

ROBERTS: Incredible.


ROBERTS: Madeleine Albright was there when Hillary Clinton got her wild State Department welcome, and she is with us live this morning. What she says Clinton should brace herself for.

And new threats against President Obama. From the love fest on inauguration day to the rise and hate speak against him. What's being done to protect the new president.

It's 23 minutes after the hour.



CLINTON: I want you to give me the best advice you can. I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue that will make us better.


CHETRY: Well, Hillary Clinton addressing the foreign service crowd during her first day as secretary of state. Clinton also told state employees to think outside the box and that she welcomes discussions and dialogue. So what kind of new approach will she bring to the State Department?

For more on this right now, I'm joined by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright in Washington.

Madam Secretary, great to see you.


CHETRY: Certainly as you know full well, a lot of challenges are going to be on the desk of Secretary of State Clinton. What do you think she needs to make her first priority?

ALBRIGHT: Well, she has an awful lot to do and she has to, in fact, move on diplomatic front. As she pointed out, diplomacy is the major tool to be used by our government, and she's going to pay attention, obviously, to the Middle East and to the Afghanistan/Pakistan issue, even though she's got really very strong and terrific envoys. But she also has to make sure that the State Department has the resources. She talked about that, and bringing back a lot of power to the State Department. And so she's got a big job, but you can tell from that time yesterday that she is very enthusiastic and prepared to work very, very hard with a very good team of people.

CHETRY: It's very interesting when you talk about what type of -- what type of reputation and what type of stature the United States has on the world stage right now. Haven't times changed, if you will, about the U.S. being the main superpower? You know, we've had this situation going on right now with Gaza and Israel. It's been Egypt that's been helping broker peace there, for example.

And another situation, dealing with North Korea, it's six-nation talks headed up by Japan and in some cases China. So where does the United States stand? Is it an old notion that we are the leaders of world diplomacy?

ALBRIGHT: You know, the interesting thing is, I think we need to be leaders of world diplomacy, but there is nothing about that that means we have to do everything alone. In fact, it is very important to have partners and other countries working with you on it, and I think the combination of American leadership, in partnership with countries both in the Middle East and obviously in the Korean issue, everywhere, because you do need that kind of multilateral approach.

But what I think happened here is that the United States was trying to do everything by itself, or not paying attention to certain areas, and so what you're going to see is a combination of American leadership in partnership with other countries.

CHETRY: You know, it's also interesting, one of the things Barack Obama has said is closing Guantanamo Bay which is a contentious issue, will be within a year, is one of the number one priorities in the administration. There is reporting today from the "Associated Press" as well as others of this former Guantanamo Bay detainee who now claims to be the deputy leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch, really underscoring the potential complications in carrying out this executive order. Where do you stand on how Guantanamo Bay should be handled?

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I had said many times that one of the first signals to show that America was going to act differently and to restore confidence in our leadership and our reputation, was to close Guantanamo, and so I'm very glad that the president issued that order yesterday. But also I'm very glad that he did it in such a way of saying that it would be within a year, that a lot of the aspects of it had to be reviewed, and the question is, how they are reviewed by also following the rule of law, and due process, and giving an example of how Americans deal with these kinds of issues. But everybody that's talked about it understands the complications, and from what I heard, President Obama say yesterday, he's going to be doing it in a very careful, deliberate way, to protect security, as well as the civil liberties and the reputation of the United States.

CHETRY: Right, but what do you do, though, in these types of situations? I mean, apparently this individual also went through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists and now is claiming to once again be joining al-Qaeda. I mean, is that something the United States cannot worry about too much that we just have to, you know, put the symbolism of closing Guantanamo bay ahead of those concerns?

ALBRIGHT: No, and I think what's very important is that the way the president said it. He balanced that issue. I don't know enough about that specific case and obviously, that is of concern, but I think that we have to figure out a way that we don't undermine our own legal system, and our reputation at the same time, protect our security, and I think President Obama both in his inaugural speech and yesterday made very clear that there would be a very careful approach to this.

CHETRY: A lot of work ahead for Senator Hillary Clinton. I mean now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as you know full well. Thanks so much for joining us madam secretary. Great to talk to you.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you, it's a great, new time.


ROBERTS: Thirty-one minutes after the hour now. And breaking news this morning, reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was shown in a series of photographs on state-run North Korean television. He's rarely been seen since a reported stroke back in August and Kim was noticeably thinner in the photos. The pictures show him meeting with a Chinese official but there is no way to determine when the photographs were actually taken.

Day four of the Obama administration and since inauguration day, two things have steadily increased for the new president, the threats against him and the security surrounding him. Our Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is live for us in Washington this morning. Hi, Jeanne. JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Since last summer people have been arrested for threatening President Obama in Colorado, Tennessee and just last week in Wisconsin. The Secret Service won't comment on the volume of threats but others will tell you, it is high.


MESERVE (voice-over): During the inauguration, security around President Obama was unprecedented. Expect that to continue.

The fact that he's an African-American, the fact that we're at war. The fact that the economy is pretty poor. You're right. All of those things come together to create a very, very tense environment for the Secret Service.

MESERVE: A bulletin issued earlier this month by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said Mr. Obama has been the focus of voluminous threat-related reporting since announcing his candidacy, and the number of threat reports has increased since his election. The Web sites and chat rooms of white supremacists have seized with hate.

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: The idea of a black man in the White House is an utter anathema. They think this represents the sort of stealing of the nation, of the nation which they imagined as having been created as a kind of Christian, white entity.

MESERVE: The FBI says it is watching the chatter, looking for threats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've been very, very aggressive in looking at the potential of any white supremacy or domestic terrorism group to take some sort of action.

MESERVE: But the dangers to President Obama are not all homegrown. In November, Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman Al Zawahiri, accused Mr. Obama of standing with the enemies of Islam. In his inaugural speech, President Obama extended a hand to moderates in the Middle East.

OBAMA: To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

MESERVE: His first phone calls were to leaders in the region. But some analysts believe President Obama's efforts to co-opt extremists may inflame them and provoke them to action against him.

The outpouring of emotion for the Obama presidency may make him a target of another group, the psychologically dangerous. John Hinckley, for instance, who shot President Reagan, was mentally ill.


MESERVE: And people who plot on their own so-called lone wolves are the most difficult for law enforcement to detect, because they often don't share their plans with anyone -- John.

ROBERTS: And they often get themselves into areas as Hinckley did, where they're not supposed to be, without being noticed. And I know they have since the Reagan shooting really tightened up security around the president, but as you said, the lone wolf scenario. That's a very tricky one to deal with. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Jeanne, thanks so much.

CHETRY: On board Air Force One, inside the jet with the president. We're going to see what happens when he meets his pilot, an in-depth look at Obama, inside of Air Force One. 34 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: We have extraordinary images this morning from inside of the real Air Force One, taking on Barack Obama's first trip before he even took the oath. Randi Kaye gives us a rare look at life inside the so-called bubble.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, call it good timing. While the "National Geographic" was filming a documentary on Air Force One, Barack Obama needed to catch flight.

KAYE (voice-over): It's as tall as six-story building and longer than a hockey rink. It's also President Barack Obama's newest means of transportation. Air Force One.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. Nice to meet you.

OBAMA: Good to see you. You're the pilot of Air Force One?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. It will be my privilege to fly for you.

OBAMA: You know, I got to see you central cast, you're exactly what I want to pilot Air Force One to look like.

KAYE: That's Mr. Obama stepping inside the plane for the first time. He was flying from Chicago to Washington before the inauguration. "National Geographic's" documentary about Air Force One captured the moment.

He was as excited as his staff, who had already boarded the plane, and were sort of like kids in a candy shop in a sense.

KAYE (on camera): The documentary focuses on Air Force One, who and what it takes to move the president around the world. Obama's flight took place in the final days of shooting. So the film crew witnessed the on board transition, too. Every new president gets a new pilot.

KAYE (voice-over): Colonel Mark Tillman flew President Bush on Air Force One for eight years.

COL. MARK TILLMAN, AIR FORCE ONE PILOT: He has the ability to run the country from Air Force one so he has everything that's available in the White House is available to him at 45,000 feet.

KAYE: Including a gourmet meal, though Obama stuck with the basics.

OBAMA: See how you guys do. Make it medium well, by all means, and cheddar cheese if you have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got cheddar cheese, we have it.

OBAMA: Cheddar cheese and I think some --


OBAMA: That's fine and lettuce and tomato, and salad or some vegetables or something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. No, fries, anything like that.

OBAMA: I'll still take the fries.


KAYE: Will President Obama be able to exercise on board?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No basketball court, but he'll have the ability to ride a bike or something small within his office, that's for sure.

KAYE: An hour and a half later, when Obama touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, he said his good-byes to the crew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could sort of feel this sort of air of awe. I think even in him, because he was very quiet as he walked out and his face kind of got very quiet.

KAYE: A rare moment of peace, perhaps, to soak up the wonder of it all. You can see the full documentary "On Board Air Force One" on the "National Geographic" channel Sunday at 8:00 p.m. -- John, Kiran?


ROBERTS: Randi Kaye for us this morning. Is he cheeseburger and fries president? Didn't we have one of those already? I thought so.

The Obamas just moved into the White House. But what do they leave behind? Chicago neighbors is what. What was it like to live right across the street from the future first family.

And big disappointment for high-tech Team Obama. The White House isn't quite wired for 2009. Twenty-eight fireplaces but no Mac computers. It's 40 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Forty-three minutes after the hour. A lot of biographies will be written about President Barack Obama but one potential author, six-year-old Zenin Miller brings a unique perspective to the game. You see, he lives across the street from the Obama's home in Hyde Park in Chicago and he decided to document his experiences from the Secret Service to the traffic snafus to what it's like to live next door to the Obamas. In a self-published book, "Hi, it's me, Zenin!, Barack Obama's kid neighbor," Zenin and his mother, Jacqui, join me now from Chicago. Hey, good morning to both of you.

Zenin, tell me first of all. Hey, Zenin, over here. Look at the camera, Zenin. There we go.



ROBERTS: What was it like to live across the street from, I guess, then-Senator Obama, now President Obama?

Z. MILLER: It's very good, so we can be protected. So we won't get any bad guys in our house and try to shoot Obama or their kids.

ROBERTS: Right. How old were you when he moved in, and did you ever get a chance to talk to him?


ROBERTS: So what did you say to him?

Z. MILLER: Welcome to the neighborhood.

ROBERTS: You said welcome to the neighborhood?


ROBERTS: And was he a nice guy? Was he easy to talk to?


ROBERTS: Excellent. Hey, Mom, what was it like living across the street? I know that you actually work in a clinic that was one of the ones that Michelle Obama spearheaded at the University of Chicago Medical Center. What were they like as neighbors?

J. MILLER: They were very good neighbors, very kind neighbors. They made sure that the people in the neighborhood were aware of everything that was happening, the Secret Service were great. They were kind. They were normal, everyday people, before all of this came, and I think they still remain very normal people.

ROBERTS: Hey, Zenin, I heard that you took your camera out, you took lots of pictures?

Z. MILLER: Yes. ROBERTS: What was it like dealing with the Secret Service? Because they were all over the place, those guys. What was it like?

Z. MILLER: It was like, it was like a bunch of people like around us.

ROBERTS: Uh-huh.

Z. MILLER: Like a bunch of kids around us.

ROBERTS: Oh really? So they were pretty good to you. They never bothered you about taking pictures, or anything like that?


ROBERTS: All right.

Z. MILLER: But you can't walk the street and take pictures, only when you just go by our windows so you can only take pictures from that angle.

ROBERTS: I see. And Jackie, how did he get the idea of doing this book? I mean, that's a pretty unique idea?

J. MILLER: Well he started taking pictures of his play dates and his friends wanted to come over, once President Barack Obama decided he was running for presidency, and then he put it together, and because in their schools, they put together the things that they do on a day-to-day basis and talk about it. So he put it together, so that he could actually help children that are less fortunate than he is.

ROBERTS: We should say that the proceeds from any sales of this book are going to go to disadvantaged children. You had this idea, too, before President Obama issued his national call to action.

J. MILLER: Absolutely. We've done this for a very long time.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, Zenin and Jackie, it's good to see you this morning. Congratulations on the book. We hope you get it published soon. And it's great work you're doing, donating those proceeds to disadvantage children. You want to be president when you grow up, Zenin?


ROBERTS: All right. You got a real chance.

J. MILLER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thanks, folks, for being with us this morning.

Forty-six minutes after the hour.


CHETRY (voice-over): Computer trouble for high-tech Team Obama. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are all kind of obstacles in their way, things that block them that didn't block them during the campaign.

CHETRY: New technology issues in the Obama White House. Yes, we crash? You're watching the Most News in the Morning.



CHETRY: Welcome back. It's 49 minutes past the hour. We're going to get a check right now of extreme weather around the country. Our Reynolds Wolf is live for us right now in Atlanta. You guys are in a deep freeze, huh?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, pretty chilly here this morning. But the place that is really cold is in parts of Florida, Kiran. In fact you've got in the Orlando area, temperatures mainly into the 30s, as far south as Tampa. A little bit warmer into the 50s, Jacksonville at 38.

The big issue that we have with the freeze warnings there in effect for a good part of central Florida would happen to be in the orange groves where you have all these produce, the farmers are really in a tough time, keeping things above freezing. Although you've got above freezing in the downtown areas, I can tell you in the outlying areas in some five to ten degrees cool so they're going to have some issues.

Could see some issues later on today in parts of, say Texas, back into Arkansas and maybe even into northern Louisiana. A chance of thunderstorms there. Heavy snowfall in portions of the Rockies, some places perhaps up to a foot. And the rain continues for parts of central and southern California. The high Sierras are going to be dealing with some snowfall with high temperatures. In San Francisco 55 degrees, 45 in Portland, 17 in Billings.

Bitter cold conditions continue for Minneapolis. With the high temperatures going to 16 with the wind chill temperatures subzero as we make our way into the weekend. 50 in D.C. and 38 in Boston. High in New York, Kiran, 43. Not a bad day at all for the Big Apple. Let's send it back to you.

CHETRY: We'll take it. We're happy to see 40s after what we were in last week. Thanks so much.

WOLF: No question.

CHETRY: Fifty minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Rude awakening at the White House for high tech team Obama like from going to using an Xbox back to an Atari.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are all kind of obstacles in their way. ROBERTS: Plus, enough talk.

OBAMA: Sasha and Malia, you have earned the new puppy that is coming with us to the White House.

ROBERTS: Battle of the first dogs. They are here live. OK, puppies, let's see what you got. You're watching the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: Some of the most popular videos right now on Sex for sale with a price tag of $3.8 million. That's the highest bid in an auction for a California 22-year-old's virginity. The woman who goes by the name Natalie Dillon set up the contest through a legal brothel in Nevada. Yes, some people will sell anything.

Million-dollar office makeover. Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain resigned on Thursday. But a new report from CNBC says he spent more than $1.2 million sprucing up his office as the company was crumbling. His purchases include an $87,000 area rug and $28,000 curtains.

CHETRY: Wow. Well, as a candidate, Barack Obama harnessed the power of the interpret to reach out to his supporters from Flicker, to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, a fusion of online outreach in the Obama campaign was a game changer. So can President Obama usher in the era of the White House version 2.0?

Our Carol Costello is live for us this morning. It was so funny. They were talking about just the shock. They can't send messages and they can't logon and access outside e-mail accounts. They were thinking they were in a time warp when staff got there.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the dark ages technologically in the White House. It is President Obama's dream though to have this wired White House where he can sit in front of his computer and hear directly from the people. If you think in this technological age, though, it should be a cinch, you'd be wrong.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It's coming really. A totally wired White House that will enable President Obama to use blog, wikis, even YouTube to talk with us. The problem is it won't be easy.

NICHOLAS THOMPSON, "WIRED" MAGAZINE: A lot of people don't realize there are all kinds of obstacles in their way, things that blocked them that didn't block them during the campaign.

COSTELLO: Like a technophobic federal government that want to take Obama's BlackBerry away for security reasons.

ROBERT GATES, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has a BlackBerry. He feels it's a way of keeping in touch with folks, a way of doing it outside instead of getting stuck in a bubble.

OBAMA: This is our moment.

COSTELLO: And during his campaign, he managed to do that times ten by using the Web effectively to reach out to potential voters. Problem is, as an Obama insider told "The Washington Post," moving into the White House is like going from an Xbox to an Atari. The federal government isn't exactly technologically up-to-date. That's not the only issue. Posting anything online is dicey.

THOMPSON: Let's just say that Obama decided that during the health care debates they would put the meeting notes from all of the conversations online. Great idea, right? It will help America understand health care. But there's a problem. What if, say, somebody makes an off-color joke at one of those meetings? Then suddenly the whole health care debate becomes about that joke.

COSTELLO: Sort of like the infamous snowman YouTuber did during the primary debates. And then there is the issue of control. President Obama found that out after he posted his first YouTube address online as president-elect.

OBAMA: To address America's own economic crisis.

COSTELLO: He garnered online responses like "he is a sheep" and "hidden UFOs technologies will solve our problems for the entire planet" which effectively ended any kind of reasoned debate.


COSTELLO: You got to wonder, would that really be useful? Of course, all of these problems can be solved. It's America, right? But it will take time. Maybe even a few years. But the President has hired some smart people to get it done. One problem has already been solved. The Blackberry problem. There are reports that the president will get a $3,000 smart phone dubbed the BarackBerry even though it's not made by Blackberry but the cool thing about this phone, the Smart phone, it's spy proof, Kiran.

It's capable of encrypting voice conversations and handling classified documents and, frankly, it's pretty cool. I was hoping we would have a picture up where we could show it to you. Maybe we do, I don't know but it's really cool. The president can still use his blackberry by the way, but he can only send messages to his closest advisers and a few friends, but the Smart phone, that is really cool.

CHETRY: $3,000 though, I guess we're not buying it any time soon.

COSTELLO: No, not us but the federal government - well, actually our tax dollars will be buying it for Barack Obama.

CHETRY: I got you. The BarackBerry. Love it. All right. Carol, thanks so much.