Return to Transcripts main page


FDA OK's Stem-Cell Use in Humans; Obama Meets with Republican Congressional Leaders on Economic Plan; N.Y. Governor Picks Senate Replacement

Aired January 23, 2009 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It's 57 and a half minutes after the hour.

Breaking this morning a milestone in science in something sure to spark a new morality debate in Washington. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first use of embryonic stem cells in humans. A biotech company in California says it has permission to perform some tests on 10 patients with spinal-cord injuries. The company say it will use stem cells approved for research during the Bush administration and the decision has nothing to do with the Obama administration and its expected changes to federal stem cell policy.

Right now, President Obama tackling one of the most daunting tasks on his to-do list: rescuing the economy. This morning bipartisan meetings with congressional leaders to push his economic recovery plan. He is also scheduled to meet with his future top money man, Timothy Geithner. The president also insisting on a daily economic briefing prepared with the same professionalism and research as his daily intelligence briefing.

And CNN confirming now that New York's Governor David Paterson will pick upstate Congressman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill out Hillary Clinton's vacated senate seat. Paterson is scheduled to make his announcement at noon Eastern. Gillibrand is a relatively unknown to most New Yorkers but has close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She worked on Clinton's 2000 campaign for her Senate seat.

Plus, day two today for Secretary Clinton. She is telling excited staffers that it's a new era of diplomacy in the Obama administration. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, her husband's secretary of state Madeleine Albright talked about Clinton's priorities.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: As she pointed out diplomacy is the major tool to be used by our government and she is 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.


ROBERTS: Albright also said it's important for the United States to be a leader in world affairs but that we cannot do it alone.

Plus some breaking medical news this morning. The FDA giving a green light to one U.S. company Geron for human trials using embryonic stem cells on spinal cord patients. It is the first study of its kind, it could be a major scientific leap. What about the ethics of it all?

Joining me for more on this is Dr. Art Kaplan. He is the chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's medical ethics department, also joining us this morning our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. We will talk about how big a deal this is.

Dr. Caplan, first of all, to the ethics of this. As we mentioned, these were stem cell lines that were derived before President Bush's announcement in August of 2001 putting a ban on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, and this is only a phase one trial to determine safety. So can you sort of walk us through the ethics of all of this?

DR. ART CAPLAN, FOCUSES ON TRANSPLANTATION RESEARCH ETHICS: Well, first, John, you've got a situation where some people are going to say they oppose any use of embryos, even with private funding which is what this is, a start-up company that raised the money to do it. You do have to destroy embryos to get these stem cell lines growing so that's controversial.

The company says, look, we use spare embryos. These are left over from clinics where people went to get in-vitro fertilization; it's going to be destroyed anyway. Most Americans have come to the position on this that using leftover, unwanted, or surplus embryos does seem to make ethical sense. One other key ethical issue, you got to have permission of the couple that made the embryo. People will be looking to make sure did they got permission for these embryos to be use, to derive these stem cells.


CAPLAN: A lot of expectations here in terms of, you know, is this going to work. But as you pointed out, right, we've just had a safety study right now. Not looking for any cures, not looking for any real benefit to the first subject.

ROBERTS: Although they are all looking for secondary effects, the company says.

Elizabeth, from a scientific standpoint, why is this such a big deal?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's such a big deal because in this country and probably in the world, they've never tried out these human embryonic stem cells on sick human beings. We've made paralyzed mice walked, and we've work on rats, but we haven't worked on human beings in this country. And so it's going to be really interesting to see if it works, because there's one camp of people that says stem cells can treat anything -- diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, you name it.

And there's another camp that says maybe we've oversold the promise of this -- of this technology. And so it will be interesting to see whether or not it works. A lot of pressure, I would imagine, on Geron since they are really the first.

ROBERTS: Yes. And Dr. Caplan, going forward just in terms of the development of the science, you know, President Bush put that federal ban on embryonic stem cell -- federal funding for embryonic stem cell research as we've mentioned back in August of 2001. But since then, there had been incredible developments using stem cells derived from adult cells. So what about the whole idea with this line of research with embryonic stem cells?

CAPLAN: Well, it's interesting. Two points. As Elizabeth said, you've got huge expectations here. This is a small company that spent a lot of its own money to get this going. Their investors are going to be looking to see whether they get some success. But again, this is a baby step. You're just trying to get the cells in to see whether you can get them in and stay there without side effects.

In terms of alternatives, they are using this treatment to try and help somebody with spinal cord injury. That's one of the toughest things to get adult stem cells to cover for, to develop into. It's no accident that they went to this particular disease. There have been some rat and mice studies that look promising. So in this area, it's not that you couldn't find alternatives. Some people say you can, but it's very tough to really produce spinal cord cells. So I suspect that's why we're seeing this as the first real human trial.

ROBERTS: It will be fascinating to watch the results of this experiment. Dr. Art Caplan and Elizabeth Cohen, thanks.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, right now, President Obama is wasting no time confronting an economy in crisis. This morning, he's going to be receiving a daily briefing on the economy just like his intelligence briefing. And that was just one of the details that came out of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs first daily briefing.

Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House, and also joining me now is CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno.

Good to see both of you this morning.

So, Suzanne, Robert Gibbs in his first press briefing yesterday. The room was packed. There was a lot of excitement. What can you tell us about exactly what happened? Did he live up to the expectations?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Those expectations are huge, Kiran. There about 150 people who were packed in that little tiny briefing room. It was standing room only. You know, it's interesting, because I think overall he did pretty well. There was a -- he went on for about 50 minutes or so. It's pretty long for a press briefing but, obviously, it's his first. Out of the gate, he did make a misstep. We had just had a briefing that was on background with an administration official. It means you can't use his name. First thing that Robert Gibbs did is slipped up and actually mention the guy's name. It was not something that came out later, but a lot of us noticed it right away. But that's kind of a common mistake.

There were a couple of things that he kind of dodged. Some issues, dodged some questions. One was on Osama Bin Laden whether or not he would be treated with or without torture, and a question about one of the defense picks, whether or not, you know, being a lobbyist, if that counter -- contradicted some of the things that the administration has said that they're going to work on.

But overall, he seemed to take it in stride. He seemed pretty relaxed and seemed to be having fun with it a little bit. And I do know that the president was pleased. I happened to be in the press briefing room when President Obama walked into his office, and I heard him say, congratulations, congratulations, man.

CHETRY: All right. And I want to ask you, Frank, because what makes the successful performance maybe different, whether you're the reporter wanting your questions answered and whether you're the White House wanting to keep your message going. Is that going to change given the culture of transparency that Barack Obama has tried to say his administration will usher in.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, maybe a little bit, but not very much. I mean, you say what constitutes success. I think for the briefer surviving constitutes success.

Because, I mean, imagine, you're walking into a room, as Suzanne said, of 150 people and certainly I've been there through several presidencies, and the dynamic is basically the same. And that's a room full of reporters both trying to get information and trying to get you. You know? And these are folks who have -- are completely read up to the minute covering any number of topics. You could have a reporter from some far off corner of the world who wants to know what the president is going to do with a relation regarding their prime minister or something. And so, what Gibbs has to do is he has to navigate all of that.

CHETRY: Right.

SESNO: I mean, there were some moments yesterday that were kind of boilerplate. They sounded a little bit like the campaign, but he'll settle into a routine.

CHETRY: And Suzanne, after the Gibbs briefing, President Obama did come down for a couple of minutes unannounced to visit with the reporters. And at that time he seemed to get a little irritated when one reporter from the Politico asked him about his choice for deputy defense secretary. What happened with that exchange?

MALVEAUX: You know, it's one of those things where the president is trying to create a situation where he can establish a relationship, build relationships, be relaxed with reporters. I mean, we spent a lot of time with him on the campaign, and there's some folks who don't know him who are covering the White House and he's just meeting for the first time. So he wants to kind of put them at ease a little bit.

Reporters on the other end, too, want to get a sense of who is this guy? You know, who is this man? Beyond the person who isn't on camera necessarily. So he got a question about a news -- kind of a news tidbit, and, yes, he wanted to put that aside and said, look, you know, we'll do a press conference, I'll answer those questions. So, Kiran, you know, we're all asking when that press conference is actually going to happen now because we always have questions. We always want to know. But there are those moments where you are with the president and it's a totally different feeling when the cameras aren't there, if it's off the record or a background kind of thing, you can settle into a rhythm and you get a sense of who is this person? It's one of the advantages of covering him on the campaign.

CHETRY: All right. And also, Frank, Hillary Clinton, of course, taking charge of the State Department yesterday, introducing two special envoys. George Mitchell who will oversee the Arab-Israeli issue and then Richard Holbrooke, who will handle Pakistan, Afghanistan and others. And then you also have Joe Biden, the vice president, with strong foreign policy experience. Is Secretary Clinton going to have to do more negotiating with her own colleagues than she is abroad?

SESNO: Special envoy within the administration? I think this is going to resolve principally around relationships and, right now, the relationships look fairly strong. You know? There was a great rivalry between the Rumsfeld and the Powell State Departments, and they were fully at war at times with one another. That's not the case, for example, with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates over at Defense.

And Holbrooke and Mitchell and Clinton and Biden, these people all know one another. They are a team that in some cases has worked together in other places, and they're certainly going to work together here. The circumstances are different. They have to be very careful that they don't end up with rival power centers. But this is really built upon both relationships and reporting structures. It's a management challenge as much as anything else.

And point of fact, there's a very strong and very high profile and very top-tier endorsement of the kind of smart power, smart diplomacy that Barack Obama ran on, talked about and which people in the diplomatic community have been screaming for years.

CHETRY: All right, Frank Sesno, as well as Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.

SESNO: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Well, first, Fidel Castro praise President Obama, but now he is predicting he won't be around to see if Obama wins a second term. Is he hinting something about his health? We will go to Havana for the very latest. And battle for the first dog. The Obamas narrowing down their choice to two breeds, but which one will make the better pet. We've got one of each here for you to make the comparison. May the best first dog win. Paws up. It's nine minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: If you have always wanted to make that trip to the Vatican but you couldn't swing a ticket to Rome, especially in this economy, well, now, you can just go online. The Vatican has its own YouTube channel. You can get short messages and updates from Pope Benedict XVI. They're in four languages -- English, Spanish, German and Italian.

Just in this morning. Argentine -- Argentinean television, rather, showing the first pictures of Fidel Castro that the world hasn't seen in two months. Our international desk is working on getting those into CNN. We'll show them to you just as soon as we get them.

The ailing communist leader is also doing some writing these days, and he's hinting that he may not live to see the end of President Obama's term. Here's CNN's Morgan Neill from Havana, Cuba.


MORGAN NEILL, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Just one day after Argentina's president said that she met with the ailing Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president has written an essay dealing with his own mortality.

In an essay published first on Cuban state Web site, Fidel Castro writes about the U.S. presidential inauguration, saying that Barack Obama has become a living symbol of the American dream. Now, Fidel Castro goes on to write that he's fine. He says that he's been following current events closely, but does not expect to be able to do so in four years when Barack Obama's first presidential term comes to an end.

Fidel Castro hasn't made a public appearance in more than 2 1/2 years, and rumors about his health began to circulate when, between December 15th and just Wednesday of this week, he hadn't written an essay of this type. But his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro dismissed those rumors saying he's fine and Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, appeared to back that up, saying that she met with him, and when she did so, he looked fine.

Morgan Neill, CNN, Havana.


CHETRY: Morgan, thanks.

Still ahead -- what kind of hours can we expect President Obama to put in every day at the White House? Inside, the new president's work day and how his style compares to former presidents Clinton and Bush.

Plus, cashing in on the recession. Since when did bad times become a marketing tool? Before you rush out to buy, Gerri Willis shows us what to look for. It's 14 minutes after the hour.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's back to basics. And the basics are good. Protect them. Put them in good hands.


CHETRY: Well, that was a new commercial from Allstate appealing to consumers by talking about the company's history. Allstate's logic is, we made it through the Great Depression, so you can trust us to help you and us make it through the current recession.

But not all marketing campaigns are as subtle. CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here with more, where -- you know, no one's pretending any more that times are not tough and so it's very interesting to see how some companies are trying to use that to their advantage.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, this is marketer's favorite tool of this economy, that you have fear of the recession and they are going to play on it. Another creative effort comes from Hyundai Motors. They want you to buy a car in this awful environment. Listen to this new ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy any new Hyundai, and if in the next year, you lose your income, we'll let you return it.


WILLIS: That's right. So, you buy a new Hyundai, you lose your job, you get to take the car back and make no more payments. Sounds too good to be true. Let's look at the details.

First off, this offer is only available for 12 months after you buy the car. Reality is, you have to pay at least two payments, two monthly payments. So there's really a 10-month window where you can return that car. Now the good news, of course, is that the company will forgive negative equity. That is, when you turn it back in, if the car isn't worth what you owe on it, they'll make up the difference up to $7,500, which makes a very big difference indeed.

But they're the ones who are going to decide if you can actually cash this thing in. If your claim is legitimate, if you actually lost your job, you have to prove it to them. Interesting campaign.

And they're not the only ones out there. Insurers, car companies, there's also credit card issuers out there who are making their own decisions in the marketplace and also appealing to you on the basis of what's going on in the market.

Check this out. A letter to a consumer from a credit card issuer who says this -- "If life takes an unexpected turn, will you be prepared?" Does that appeal to your fear? It does to mine. You only pay 89 cents per $100 of your ending monthly balance for what? For credit card insurance that will make the payments for you. Essentially make you whole. You don't have to worry about it.

How much does this cost on an average $9,000 balance? You're going to pay 80 bucks a month for the privilege. That's a whole lot of dough. Kiran, I got to tell you. This is one of those offers out there that I think most consumer advocates have lots of questions about. Why would you pay more for your credit card debt? Why not just pay the credit card debt itself and not for insurance?

CHETRY: You know, as you tell us all the time, the devil is in the details. Something may sound great. When you read the fine print, it might not be so good for you.

WILLIS: Yes, you definitely need to check these offers out. Read the fine print. See how it applies to you. Make sure you understand all the ins and outs. You know, cross those t's, dot those I's, because at the end of the day, a lot of these offers simply aren't worth it.

CHETRY: I know. Thanks so much, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.


ROBERTS: He was freed from the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Now he resurfaces in Yemen as the head of al Qaeda in that country. What, if anything, could it mean to Barack Obama's first executive order? We'll explain.

And what kind of hours can we expect the president to put in everyday? Obama's working style and how it compares to presidents before him. We'll show you. It's 20 minutes after the hour.



JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts. Does anyone --

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Oh, boom! Hey! Hey, everybody, we're all going to get sworn in! I'm all right. Don't -- nobody worry about me.

Yes, where we didn't know Dick, we may already know Joe too well -- where Cheney was this.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: If you only knew the power of the dark side!

STEWART: Biden seems to be a little more this.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I can't breathe in this thing!


STEWART: By the way, in case anybody was wondering what Barack Obama's shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) face looks like, there you go.


ROBERTS: Well, this morning, CNN confirming New York's Governor David Paterson will pick up State Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Senator Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat. The decision was made nearly 24 hours after Caroline Kennedy took herself out of the running.

With more on this, let's bring in our political panel. Pamela Gentry is BET's political analyst. She's here in New York. And CNN contributor Stephen Hayes is a senior writer at the "Weekly Standard" in Washington.

So, Pamela, what are we thinking of Kirsten Gillibrand here to replace Hillary Clinton?

PAMELA GENTRY, BET POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it shows the Democratic Party is going more toward to progressive again. This is a more conservative part of the Democratic Party, but she has a great relationship with Hillary Clinton, was someone who worked with her during her campaign. So I think that it does show that Democrats are going to be a little bit more in the center. I don't think that they're leaning very far to the -- to the left.

ROBERTS: All right. Yes, she is a friend of Hillary Clinton. As you said, worked on her 2000 campaign. Steven, she is also a blue dog Democrat. She opposes gun control. In fact, Congresswoman Caroline McCarthy, whose husband, as we all know, was killed in that Long Island railroad massacre back in the 1990s, won't even attend the announcement today because of that record. Could she present some problems potentially for Democrats and in particular Barack Obama with some of her views?

STEPHEN HAYES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think she could. She could challenge him. Unlikely probably that she would do that as a freshman. I think freshman usually like to get their feet wet, so to speak, and get accustomed to the Senate before they start making too many waves. But I think it's fascinating he went with, a, somebody upstate and, b, somebody close to Hillary Clinton.

You remember early in the process when there was first rumors that he was going to pick Caroline Kennedy, this was taken as an affront to Hillary Clinton. Now it seems that he has come sort of full circle, come all the way back, and is in fact taking somebody who is close to Hillary.

ROBERTS: Right. Yes, just yesterday, Pamela, at the State Department, Hillary Clinton arrived to a thunderous applause. The likes of which, I don't recall seeing since Colin Powell walked in that door. I mean, every incoming secretary of state certainly gets a good reception, but that reception was just beyond anything that I've seen in recent years.

GENTRY: It was very surprising, but it's interesting. I've heard the Department of Agriculture secretary showed up in a similar thing but it was announced and he was just standing out shaking hands. This administration appears that they want to really make the rank and file feel like they are there. That they are going to be, you know, the quote you've been showing all night of I'm really interested in hearing your opinion, talk to me, give me your feedback.

I think this is clearly one of the first times that you see that Hillary Clinton is really taking a lead from President Obama, because he has been doing the same thing.

ROBERTS: Steven, how much do you expect that she is going to change American foreign policy?

HAYES: I actually think there is much -- much more likely to see continuity between the second term of the Bush administration, which I think moderated and became far more outreaching than we are to see dramatic changes, especially if she is going to be continuing what Barack Obama has said he was going to do on the campaign trail.

ROBERTS: All right. Steven Hayes and Pamela Gentry, it's good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

GENTRY: Thank you.

HAYES: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Sorry, we want to know what you think the Obama administration should accomplish in its first year. Tell us by sending in an iReport. Just go to

CHETRY: I couldn't have said it better myself.

Well, it's 26 minutes after the hour -- 27 now. And we have breaking news this morning. Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was shown in a series of photographs on North Korea's state-run television. He is rarely been seen since a reported stroke in August. Kim was noticeably thinner in these photos. The pictures show him eating with a Chinese official. The only question is there is really no way to verify when they were taken.

President Obama and top lawmakers are going to be meeting later today to talk about the president's economic stimulus package. Right now, it has an estimated price tag of $825 billion. That number, though, is likely to rise. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also calling for Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass the stimulus. So far, the House Committee has passed $275 billion in tax cuts.

Well, were you among the millions who heard the classical quartet including famed cello's Yo-Yo Ma on President Obama's inauguration day? Well, you actually heard a recording. In the freezing temperatures stringed instruments cannot hold a tune. Only those within earshot could actually hear the real music.

And we returned to breaking news now. The former detainee at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay turns up in Yemen as the head of that country's branch of al Qaeda. So what will this mean for President Obama's plans to shut the prison down? Barbara Starr joins us live from the Pentagon for more.

This is an example of what people have warned about in terms of the worst case scenario when some of these prisoners are let go and they go back right to potentially terror again.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Kiran. A U.S. counterterrorism official confirming to CNN this morning, a story first reported in "The New York Times," that this man, a Saudi national, his name is Sayid Ali al-Shuri (ph), did get released from Guantanamo Bay in November of '07, went back to Saudi Arabia, now has turned up in Yemen as a top deputy to the al Qaeda movement in Yemen and is believed to be associated with attacks against the U.S. embassy in Yemen.

So this now underscores the dilemma, the problem, the challenge in this whole policy about Guantanamo Bay. There's no question, after yesterday, that President Obama is absolutely determined to shut it down. But this raises the question, again, what about the people that are released that may then return to the so-called battlefield, if you will?

In fact, the Pentagon recently estimated that more than 60 detainees that had been released from Guantanamo Bay are either suspected or confirmed in the Pentagon's view as having returned to the war on terror -- Kiran.

CHETRY: You know, and it's so interesting when you read a little bit more about the situation that apparently under questioning. He said that all he wanted to do was to return to Riyadh to be with his family, to work at a furniture store. And then also that he apparently underwent just rehabilitation program for people who were former al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. So what does that say about how you -- whether or not, or what government can do around the globe to assure that these people are really going to be on the straight and narrow after their release?

STARR: Well, you know, a number of the countries especially in the Middle East, Persian Gulf region that have taken these detainees back have these so-called rehabilitation programs. They try, they say, to keep a very close eye on these people and put them through some programs to get them away from their militant views.

But do they really have a success rate? No one really knows. And now the question is that some European countries are saying they might be willing to take some of these people released from Guantanamo bay. But the people that are released, how long? How close will these governments really keep an eye on them? And once they pass through these rehabilitation programs and are back in their communities, what happens then? Kiran?

CHETRY: Yes. That's the central challenge of this whole issue. Barbara Starr for us this morning, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

ROBERTS: Thirty-one minutes now after the hour. Time to fast forward to see what stories will be making news later on today. Multiple democratic sources confirming to CNN that New York Governor David Paterson will name U.S. Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. A press conference scheduled for noon today.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to have surgery later on today because of a tractor-related accident. Gates said he tore a biceps tendon trying to attach a snow blade onto his tractor.

Outgoing deputy secretary of defense Gordon England (ph) will be the acting defense secretary while Gates undergoes surgery. And investigators here in New York think that they have found the missing engine from US Airways Flight 1549, which landed in the Hudson River last week. They are going to try to retrieve it at 8:45 Eastern today. And that's what will be making news later on today.

He promised his girls a dog for the White House, and they've now narrowed it down to two breeds. They're both here, the dogs that is. So which pup would you pick? We'll find out.


CHETRY (voice-over): President Obama's work day. Workaholic? Nine to 5 or something in between?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Between two events, went upstairs to have dinner with them, and I think that obviously means a lot to him as a father.

CHETRY: Obama's White House schedule. Is a president's work ever done? You're watching the Most News in the Morning.



KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kyung Lah. I'm in Tokyo sniffing out greenhouse gases from space. Japan launched a rocket containing the world's first greenhouse gas monitoring satellite. The Ebuki satellite. Ebuki means face, will do something never done before. The satellite will orbit the earth and thanks to a high precision censor and 56,000 monitoring sites, the satellite will be able to measure greenhouse gases from nearly every spot on the planet's surface. Scientists hope that space age technology will help preserve the future and fight global warming -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: That's fascinating stuff. Thirty-five minutes past the hour. How cool is that, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Literally cool. Almost Florida cool. You know? It doesn't seem really fit. You know, cold weather in Florida but that situation this morning where in fact parts of central Florida are dealing with freeze warnings at this time. Temperatures are getting above that for the time being. Say, for example, in Orlando, you got about 42 degrees but just to the southwest along the I-4 corridor in places like Lakeland, you're going to have temperatures around 32 degrees or so.

So right near that point. Let's go from one extreme to the other from the ice to the fire. Yesterday in Texas, we gave up some wildfires to get some video to share with you. And that video of those grass fires as of last night, only 20 percent contained. You can see smoke where as far as the eye can see. Some of the flames were estimated at 20 feet.

The cows certainly can smell it, trying to go to cover. And you see the water. The water certainly again is the number one thing to battle the blaze. And speaking of water and speaking of moisture, we see plenty of it as we go back to the weather computer forming in parts, of say, back towards Texas. We could see some scattered showers but really into the Rockies and into the Great Basin in California but it's going to be a raining situation but in the high elevations, we're talking about some snow.

Some places over a foot of snow especially into the mountains of Colorado and back into the north central Rockies. Talking temperatures for a moment. For the West Coast, it should be a pleasant day for you in San Francisco. If you don't mind the rain, 55 degrees the high and Kansas City 39 and New York with 43. That's the story. Let's send it right back to you in New York.

CHETRY: Reynolds, thanks.

ROBERTS: Remember that 3:00 a.m. phone ad? Well Barack Obama may still be awake to answer it. Sources say that his sleeping habits are, "a clean break from the Bush administration" but does it matter what time a president punches the clock? Our Jason Carroll joins us now. It's kind of a 24/7 job.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And we all understand having to work long hours during crisis mode, right? But what happens when you're not in crisis mode? Long hours at the White House according to historians does not guarantee success.

Some of the most effective presidents took time away. Dwight Eisenhower, for example, usually ended his day in time for dinner. Historians say it's about working smarter, not longer.


CARROLL (voice-over): Clinton worked so late. His staff called it Clinton standard time. Carter, too, the compulsive workaholic but historians say Reagan worked fewer hours but was more effective. Then there is George W. Bush. The First Lady joked about his early hours.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later.

CARROLL: What about our new commander in chief?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has always been something of a night owl, going back to his college days.

CARROLL: So if you're on Obama's staff, listen up. Expect long, long hours. But you might get a break here or there.

GIBBS: I know yesterday, between two events, he went upstairs to have dinner with them and I think that, obviously, means a lot to him as a father.

CARROLL: Obama team, take note. Some insight from past presidential staffers. Ed Rollins worked under Nixon, Ford and Reagan.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Nixon didn't like to work with staff. He liked to work long hours. Reagan was a great decision maker. Reagan had a greater ability. Look at the options, make the decision, move on and go to bed at 8:00 and sleep well.

CARROLL: Paul Begala remembers trying to convince Clinton to take a vacation during his first year in office.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, sir, if you don't take a vacation, people are going to think you're weird. And he didn't miss a beat, Paul, I am weird. I love this job and I don't want to take a break. So sometimes for the staff, I found myself, for example, substituting caffeine for sleep.

CARROLL: Even when a president keeps fewer hours like George W., that doesn't mean White House staff can.

MARY MATALIN, FMR. BUSH ADMINISTRATION STAFFER: The forgetting to eat, the inability to get to the restroom, the having to dry your hair by opening your window on the way in to work, that was my blow dryer. Forget panty hose that don't have runs in them. All of those little civil touches of life, just get lost.

CARROLL: Historians say even the greatest of president like FDR took time out for leisure and they say long hours do not always equal success.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: For every failed president like Bush who had the limited work day, you have one that's become considered highly successful like Ronald Reagan in history.


CARROLL: Presidential historians' best advice -- find people you can trust and surround yourself with them and know when it's time to take a break, step back, and evaluate it. If you look at one of the most effective presidents of the past century, Teddy Roosevelt. This was a man who had lots of energy. He was always seen laughing and smiling. Surrounded himself with children, surrounded himself with like lots of animals. And according to historians, he was one of the most well-adjusted presidents, as well as being one of the most effective.

ROBERTS: I tell you, I covered Bill Clinton for 18 months, and nobody can burn it like him. We were in Florence, Italy one night and we got the call about 8:30, 9:00 at night, the president decided he wants to fly the Sofia-Bulgaria tonight. We arrived at midnight and proceeded to sit in a restaurant as he had dinner with his closest staff. We got out of there by 3:30 in the morning.

CARROLL: So he worked the long hours and you guys did. But it doesn't necessarily mean success.

ROBERTS: Yes. True. Jason, thanks so much for the fascinating look at that. Kiran.

CHETRY: It means delicious food, though, apparently.

Well, everything here is going to the dogs. They are awfully cute dogs. We just want an excuse to play this song. We got the two breeds that the Obamas are considering for first dog right here in this studio, which pup should he pick? We're going to tell you when we come back. We got the Portuguese water dog and the labradoodle! We'll be right back.



CHETRY: Or today, the better question might be who left the dogs in? President Obama is going to be making many important decisions in the days to come but perhaps one of the most widely anticipated is over the future first dog. So we are going to hear what he said first and then introduce you to these two guys in an exclusive interview with ABC's "This Week."


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They seem to have narrowed it down to a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.


CHETRY: All right. We have with us and to tell us about both of these breeds is the director and founder of "Animal Fair" Magazine, Wendy Diamond, one of her favorite guests. And she brings JJ. And this is JJ right here. He is the labradoodle. And Izzy over here, who she is holding, is the Portuguese water dog.

Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: So the reason we are talking about these breeds in general is the allergies of Malia, right.

DIAMOND: First of all, what people have to understand, it depends on the person. When you say a hypoallergenic dog, it does not mean it's completely allergy-free.

CHETRY: I got you.

DIAMOND: Every dog has a little bit of the allergen in their dander and saliva. It's just the amount. So people who get dogs and want to have hypoallergenic dogs should actually spend time with the specific breed.

CHETRY: Oh, figuring out what works for them. But the one thing that you will notice about of all -- let me give JJ a little treat here -- is that it's different than a regular dog. This is almost like poodles or a Maltese?


CHETRY: There's all different type of fur.

DIAMOND: Right. What it is a (INAUDIBLE)

DIAMOND: Basically, the allergen in the saliva and also in the skin is also what makes people allergic.

CHETRY: All right. Let's talk about the different breeds. This is the Portuguese water dog. What are they known for.

DIAMOND: First of all, both these breeds are so much fun. They have so much energy.

CHETRY: We've noticed that part.

DIAMOND: They need a lot of attention. When the Obamas get this dog, the dog that they choose, they're going to have to understand that both of these breeds have so much energy. It's not like walking them once a day.

CHETRY: I got you.

DIAMOND: They have to walk them three times a day. These are the most loveable dogs. First of all, the Portuguese water dog is you know, Ted Kennedy has two. He has Sonny and Splash, Portuguese water dogs, so they are very political dogs. They are also easy to train. Both these dogs are so loyal. They love children. So when he looked at choosing the dog, he picked two amazing breeds. Both of these breeds are so much fun. They are very loyal.

CHETRY: The labradoodles are extremely popular right now. What sets them apart?

DIAMOND: Well, what sets them apart is they are a cross between a labrador which is like one of the sweetest, sweetest breed, and the poodle. The poodle is a very intellectual dog.

CHETRY: Right.

DIAMOND: Actually, dogs are bipartisan. I mean, they don't care what is going on. CHETRY: They love you either way.

DIAMOND: They love you either way.

CHETRY: Right. You know what they are both interested in right now is your Maltese sitting over there.

DIAMOND: I feel personally that Obama -- you know these dogs are so much fun.

CHETRY: They are adorable.

DIAMOND: These aren't dogs that you can just leave alone. These dogs absolutely want to play all the time. I think Malia would love a lap dog.

CHETRY: A lap dog.

DIAMOND: Yes, this is a lap dog. But you know, Obama was most fond of little dogs. So I think personally my bet he is going to get a labradoodle.

CHETRY: We will see. One quick question, he had talked about ideally being able to pick from a shelter.


CHETRY: But these unlikely shelter --

DIAMOND: These are the two rarest breeds you can find in a shelter. These are the most popular, you know, people that want a Portuguese water dog or a labradoodle tend to be, you know, these are the dogs you'll never find in the shelters. I mean, these are well- researched dogs. When you get one of these dogs, you absolutely love to breed. They are very much -- labradoodle has only been around since 1989. It's not recognized by the AKC, so there are not a lot of labradoodles out there.

CHETRY: I got you.

DIAMOND: And so the Portuguese water dog, is more likely. But I'm telling you, people who get Portuguese water dogs love them.

CHETRY: All right. Well, they are both very adorable and so are you lucky, we're not trying to leave you out. You didn't make it in the mix right now. Goodbye, Barney, who is the Scottish terrier in the White House.

DIAMOND: One thing you have to know, these dogs will never bite anyone.

CHETRY: Unless they are taking the treat aggressively but they are not biting. It's just that they are hungry. What do you think, John? If you had to pick one of these two?

ROBERTS: Well you know I like labradors but the labradoodle is a little too Island of Dr. Moreau. I'll do the Portuguese water dog.

DIAMOND: Hey, buddy.

CHETRY: All right. Wendy, thanks.

DIAMOND: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Who is actually making money in this recession? While so many companies are laying people off, some are actually swimming in cash. We'll tell you who. There is a hint. It's 48 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Baseball cheerleader tryouts. No. Not the slim pretty women. Big, not-so-pretty guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do to keep the bulk up? A lot of cheeseburgers?

ROBERTS: So what is it going to take for our John Zarrella to get picked? Lose the (INAUDIBLE) T-shirt and go with the flow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going freestyle here.

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



CONAN O'BRIEN, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN," HOST: Experts just announced -- just a few hours ago, they announced it was a flock of geese that caused that plane to land in Hudson River last week. Not only that, experts say it was a flock of seagulls that caused the '80s to suck.


ROBERTS: Everybody knows that. This morning two financial powerhouses, Microsoft and Google, are joining the long list of companies hit by the financial crisis that some companies are managing to do more than just eke out a living. Alina Cho has been looking into this for us. And she joins us this morning. Hi, ya.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, good morning. Good morning again, everybody. You know you brought the headlines. The worst recession in decades. The Dow tanking so it may surprise you there are actually some companies that are not only thriving but practically minting money.


CHO: Wal-Mart. Campbell's soup. McDonald's. The Dow may be down but these household names are up. Way up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty cheap. You can get a lot of food for five bucks here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard out here in a recession. Everybody is hoping it gets better, but who knows.

CHO: With unemployment up, spending is down and everyone these days is looking for a deal and that means Wal-Mart and McDonald's, often the butt of jokes, have the last laugh. They are the only two companies in the Dow whose share prices rose in 2008.

In the third quarter, McDonald's profits were up 11 percent.

DANA TELSEY, CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER, TELSEY ADVISORY GROUP: The companies that are doing well in this environment are companies whose brand names are well recognized who are for good value for the money.

CHO: Take Campbell's soup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In tough economic times, you know, people do turn to the familiar.

CHO: Like chicken noodle and tomato. Sales of condensed soup are up 14 percent.

We're seeing a return in a certain sense to comfort foods, casseroles are huge. The number one search term on our Web site right now is Crock-Pot.

CHO: Campbell is using the downturn in the economy as a marketing opportunity, taking a cue from McDonald's, calling its soup selection the original dollar menu and it's not just soup. Spam is surging. And so is Kraft foods Mac and Cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid. Frugal chic.

TELSEY: Part of what drives consumer spending is the feel good factor. And if everyone's friends and neighbors don't have the same level of dollars to spend this year than they did last year, it doesn't make anyone feel good to be that different from someone else.

CHO: And the outlook is good. Analysts say comfort companies should do well in 2009 because bargain shopping is not just in, it may be here to stay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As with everybody, we're waiting for those big sales and checking out the clearance racks and taking our time.


CHO: In fact, one analyst said it's the worst of times for restaurants but the best of times for McDonald's. Listen to this, the company sales have actually increased for 55 straight months and in Campbell's case, all you have to do is take a look at the stock. Take a look at this chart here. The company's shares are down by about eight percent over last year, but compared to the Dow, it is outperforming the Dow which is down around 30 percent.

It's really incredible. One woman we talked to John said to go to a sit-down place and leave a tip is just not feasible anymore. You know fast food is not only fast, but it's cheap.

ROBERTS: Yes. And you never see a tip jar at McDonald's.

CHO: No, you don't. That is something that you don't see.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Well does a CNN correspondent have what it takes to you audition for a baseball cheerleading squad? The real question is does he really want to be picked for this team? It's the man-atees and our John Zarrella is giving it a go. The old college try, I guess you could say. 54 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: All right. Well, spring is just a few months away. In Florida though, they are getting ready for baseball spring training. And while teams are looking for ways to get an edge on the field, our John Zarrella sizes up the heavy competition for the first all-male dance team in the majors.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 100 young women used every move they had. Auditioning to be one of the coveted Florida Marlins Mermaids. They dance at the baseball team's home games. While, hard to believe, this day, their tryout wasn't the biggest attraction. Meet the Manatee Wannabes. Last season, the baseball team decided hey, it's only fair if got toned athletic women dancing, why not a bunch of rotund men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unchartered waters last year. We didn't know what the crowd reaction was going to be and it was amazing.

ZARRELLA: So amazing the guys will get more than free food this year. They will get also paid 40 bucks a game. Most of last season's squad came to the audition, tiny, bulldozer, Mr. Mantastic.

ZARRELLA: Have you been working on the stomach and everything else all the off-season?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been training and I got to keep it maintained.

ZARRELLA: Newcomers, too. Perhaps just a few hot dogs away from stardom.

JAMES MINGIONE, MANATEES HOPEFUL: It was my dream to make it to the major leagues so I guess this is as close as being in the majors as I'll probably get.

ZARRELLA: With the emphasis on personality, anybody can make this team. Even me. With a little practice. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8! I might need a few tips. Let's check with last year's mermaids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, stick your belly out.

ZARRELLA: And eating habits? What do you do to keep the bulk up? A lot of cheeseburgers?

NELSON CLARK "TINY": No. I go to my grandmother's house and eat sweet potato pie.

ZARRELLA: And now, it's time.

Got a dry run. A lot of competition.


ZARRELLA: This is all freestyle here? At the end of the day, everyone made the team, except me. I broke a basic rule. If you can see your feet, you can't compete. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


ROBERTS: John did all right but the problem was is that John just kind of didn't have that sass and that swing, not like the guys who work with us.

CHETRY: We have our own crew tryouts. Remember if you can see your feet, you can't compete. Why don't you guys give it your best stuff. We'll see -

ROBERTS: Here you go. Petey, Ed and Phil.

CHETRY: That's not bad!

ROBERTS: There we go!

CHETRY: Actually, you guys are the slimmer ones on the team but hey look at the moves.

ROBERTS: Look at Pete there on the right, he's got the moves. He has got those liquid hips.

CHETRY: And you know what the scariest part, the guy in the middle, Ed, he's our brain trust, he drives this ship. But you know what, he knows how to let loose as well. Love it. You guys are great. Manatees. Some of the finest you'll ever find.

ROBERTS: I can just see them swinging loosely, can you. Absolutely. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here, bright and early on Monday morning. Have a great weekend.

CHETRY: Certainly feels like a Friday around here. Right now, here is CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.