Return to Transcripts main page
Obama Bullish on the Economy; U.S. Military Raises Alert Level on North Korea Threat; Florida's Pilot Factory Program, a Quick Ticket to the Cockpit; Gay Soldier Pushes for Policy Change; New Burris Audiotapes Discusses Senate Seat; U.S. Raises Alert Level; GM in China; Retired U.S. Warship Gets New Life as Artificial Reef; Legal Odd Couple
Aired May 28, 2009 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. We're so glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. It is Thursday, May 28. I'm Alina Cho. Kiran Chetry has the morning off. She's feeling a bit under the weather.
You're feeling a bit under the weather.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're fighting through because John Roberts is nowhere to be found. He's taking some well deserved time off.
CHO: He's left the building.
MARCIANO: Yes, he's left the building. We've got a lot of stuff going on for you this morning. We begin with breaking news.
A serious jolt to the Caribbean. A powerful 7.1 earthquake hit off the coast of Honduras within the past two hours. A tsunami watch, local tsunami watch has been issued for Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. So far, there have been no reports of any damage or injuries.
There are other big stories that we're trying to break down for you in the next 15 minutes including a big thumbs up for the U.S. economy.
President Obama declaring the country is back from the brink of economic disaster and Americans are calmer and more confident about the future. What the economic booster shot could mean for your money and your future.
And this morning, an exclusive report into the questions that run through our minds every time we fly -- how competent is the crew? Are they trained to deal with an emergency? This morning we uncover so- called pilot mill and how getting a quick ticket to the cockpit is putting your safety at risk.
CHO: But we begin with developing news and two major stories about your money including the future of General Motors. GM is expected to file for bankruptcy any day now. That would clear the way for the Obama administration to take the helm at GM, an overhaul plan funded in large part by your tax dollars.
But first, overseas markets in Asia up this morning just hours after President Obama gave what might be his most optimistic outlook on the economy since taking office. The president made his remarks late last night during a fundraising appearance in Los Angeles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, all across California and all across this country, there are millions of people who've lost their job or are worrying about losing their job. There are millions of folks who have lost their homes or are worried about losing their homes. There are millions of people who don't have health care or they are awakened up in the middle of the night worried what would happen if their child ended up getting sick.
We've got a lot of work left to do. And so, although when you look at the economy right now, I think it's safe to say that we have stepped back from the brink, that there is some calm that didn't exist before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Christine Romans joins me now.
So the president saying we're back from the brink. Consumer confidence is up, the best numbers since September. But that only means that we think we're going to feel better later. We don't necessarily feel great now.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The situation here is that the panic has subsided. And for six months after Lehman Brothers went down and we saw what was happening last fall, we had all this concern about what was happening in the financial system. There was panic.
People are making decisions now based on information. And that's why you're seeing consumer confidence moving higher, a surprising jump in consumer confidence this week mostly because people expect they're going to feel better down the road. They don't necessarily feel better right now, but they think that they're going to be able to feel better down the road.
The economy will stop -- likely stop shrinking sometime in the second half of the year. That's at least the assessment from a Blue Ribbon panel of economists at the National Association of Business Economics. Also, the fed chief has said this and others. So the president is sort of taking the glimmers of hope idea that he put forward a couple of months ago and moving it forward a little bit saying now there's calm.
CHO: But if we expect to feel better, I mean, that could translate into a real upturn in the economy, couldn't it down the line?
ROMANS: It can. Confidence is something that's very hard to measure. When you start to feel better, then people start making decisions.
And look at it this way. For a long time, it was the bunker mentality. People paid their car note, for food, and then mortgage. That was it. Now they're saying I need a lawn mower. My lawn mower broke at summer. I have to buy a lawn mower.
My kid outgrew his shoes. I have to buy new shoes. People are starting to feel confident enough to step forward and make needed purchases, but they're not going over the edge. And frankly, they can't get the credit on their credit cards to spend money they don't have.
ROMANS: So there's still a new thrift here in America.
CHO: People are sick of feeling bad, really.
ROMANS: That's exactly right.
MARCIANO: We just want to feel better. We want to have some hope down the road.
ROMANS: That's exactly right.
CHO: Give us some hope, Christine.
ROMANS: That's exactly -- no, the dust has settled and there's calm. The president said that others have said it as well. So it's a new phase in this crisis.
MARCIANO: Meanwhile, GM, Chrysler having their issues.
MARCIANO: It seems like filing for bankruptcy all but inevitable.
CHO: Tell me.
ROMANS: Yes. It's an incredibly important story for literally hundreds of thousands of people in this country. And so, we're talking about calm and stepping back from the brink of the general economy. For many people at GM, that is not what they're feeling today.
We're looking toward a reorganization. This would not be a liquidation of GM. This would be a reorganization. You have fewer brands. The company is already moving in this way, really slicing down what it offers. More job cuts likely. Plant closures, the UAW and the Canadian Auto Workers have already agreed to big cuts and they may have to lose their overseas operations.
We're already seeing, folks, GM workers, hourly workers were paid yesterday. Salary workers get paid today. That's early. That's a few days early. That's a sign they're paying their workers before they file for bankruptcy.
CHO: Yes. They're being called to call an 800 number on Friday before they report to work.
ROMANS: That's right, to find out if they need to even show up on Friday.
ROMANS: Right. So long...
CHO: Christine Romans, thanks.
MARCIANO: Thanks, Christine.
We're also following developing news overseas. U.S. and South Korean militaries are on heightened alert this morning after North Korea bode (ph) its nuclear chest (ph). The changing of the threat level to the highest since October 2006. And it all follows reports we first brought you right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
U.S. officials telling CNN the North appears to be preparing to restart generators at the nuclear plant used to make bomb-grade plutonium. All this playing out as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues strong language to warn the communist regime it will face consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It has ignored the international community. It has aggravated the obligations it entered into through the Six-party talks, and it continues to act in a provocative and belligerent manner towards the neighbors. There are consequences to such actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: This morning we're tapping into the global resources of CNN to bring you complete coverage of this escalating crisis over North Korea. CNN's Pauline Chiou is live in Seoul, South Korea.
And, Pauline, what are you hearing about the increase in the military alert level in that region this morning?
PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rob, the increased level means that South Korean and U.S. forces are going to increase their surveillance of the demilitarized zone, or the DMZ, and along the coast. They're also going to watch for activity, as you mentioned, at the Yongbyon complex. And they have the help of the U.S. government.
The Pentagon sent has already sent a surveillance plane to the area to collect air samples. Those samples are headed to a lab in D.C. to see if Monday's test was indeed a nuclear test.
And Rob, South Korea is stepping up the pressure. On Tuesday, they signed up as a full member of the Proliferation Security Initiative. This is a multinational initiative led by the U.S. that allows a 94 or 95-member nation to stop any ships or airplane suspected of carrying illegal weapons or missile technology. And it was this move, Rob, that North Korea called tantamount to a declaration of war.
MARCIANO: Well, Pauline, we're hearing about all these military threats. Obviously, the launching of missiles is a scary thought. You're in Seoul every day. What are ordinary people on the street saying about all this saber-rattling?
CHIOU: Well, the answer might surprise you. When you ask South Koreans if they're worried about North Korea, they say yes, they're worried but they're not surprised. In fact, the story that they have more of an emotional connection to this week is the death of their former late president, President Roh Moo-hyun. And you can see his picture over my shoulder.
He committed suicide last weekend by jumping off a cliff off a mountain near his home. And he was in the middle of a corruption investigation. And South Koreans are stunned and shocked.
Throughout this week, hundreds of thousands have been coming to makeshift memorials like the one where I am right now. And in fact, South Koreans say they are less worried about North Korea and more offended by North Korea because over the weekend North Korea had sent their condolences to South Korea. And then on Monday they went ahead with this nuclear test. So many people here feel that was a two-faced gesture -- Rob.
MARCIANO: Certainly, lots of things happening in South Korea regardless of what's happening to the North.
Pauline Chiou live for us in Seoul. Thank you, Pauline.
CHO: Also new this morning, the Taliban in Pakistan is claiming responsibility for Wednesday's suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. At least 27 people were killed, 250 others wounded when a van packed with explosives destroyed a building housing police and intelligence agency offices. A Taliban spokesman says it was revenge for the government's military offensive against insurgents in the Swat Valley.
Fidel Castro criticizing former Vice President Dick Cheney for defending harsh interrogation techniques used against terror suspects. In an essay posted on the government Web site, Castro said methods like waterboarding should never be used to extract information. Castro's comments come just one week after the former vice president said the Bush administration's anti-terror policies saved thousands of innocent lives.
Up next, a CNN exclusive -- if you fly a lot or have a loved one who does, we have an eye-opening story you don't want to miss about a number of pilots coming out of so-called pilot mills and heading straight for the controls of your next flight.
Nine minutes after the hour.
CHO: Eleven minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
Play Powerball? Listen up.
Millions and millions of tickets sold, but only one ticket matched all the numbers in last night's Powerball drawing. The ticket worth more than $232 million was sold, drum roll, in South Dakota. A dozen other players came awfully close to the big money matching five of the six winning numbers, and each of those tickets is worth at least $200,000. Not bad for a consolation prize. The winning numbers by the way are 5-6-12-16-21. And the Powerball, 7.
A proposal to legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients squeaked through the Illinois Senate and is now headed for the state House. If approved, the bill would allow patients with diseases like cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis to grow and use marijuana to alleviate chronic pain and nausea when other treatments have failed. Critics argue allowing medical marijuana will make it harder for police to enforce other drug laws.
And a big toy merger in the news this morning. Toys R Us announcing it has acquired FAO Schwarz, one of the country's oldest toy retailers. Toys R Us will operate FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City and a second store at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The toy retailer filed for bankruptcy protection twice in 2003. FAO's Web site and catalog will continue to use the company's name -- Rob.
MARCIANO: Alina, if you fly a lot, it's a subject most of you would rather not think about -- the qualifications of your pilot and crew. And one thing all pilots have in common is the responsibility for your life. But in an exclusive report you'll see only here on CNN, we're learning not all pilots get the same training. In fact, many are being fast tracked to the cockpit putting your safety in jeopardy.
Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifty dead near Buffalo when a Colgan Air crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary finding indicates Captain Marvin Renslow responded incorrectly to a stall warning. Two pilots dead near Jefferson City, Missouri after taking a Pinnacle airplane on a joyride up to 41,000 feet. The NTSB blamed the pilot's unprofessional behavior and poor airmanship.
And five dead when an experienced private pilot crashed into another plane above Deerfield Beach, Florida.
All these fatal crashes within the past six years share a common link -- the pilots all trained at the Gulfstream Training Academy in Fort Lauderdale.
CAPTAIN JACK CASEY, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SAFETY OPERATING SYSTEM: The one thing that ties them all together is poor airmanship. You cannot build sophisticated airline pilot skills on top of a soft foundation.
CHERNOFF: Gulfstream Training Academy is widely criticized among veteran pilots as a pilot factory, a program that quickly trains students and then sends them out to work for commercial airlines including its affiliate, Gulfstream International Airlines. It's a quick ticket into the cockpit.
Airline pilots who are not in the military typically gain experience over several years as flight instructors in small private planes. But for aspiring commercial pilots who have just 250 hours of experience and $30,000 tuition, Gulfstream Training Academy speeds the process.
Students study for three months and then serve as first officers on Continental connection flights in Florida and the Bahamas operated by Gulfstream International Airlines. Students get 250 hours of on- the-job training. Compare that to the traditional minimum of 1,500 flight time most major airlines require.
PAT MOORE, COMMERCIAL PILOT: I don't know how they can justify that. When I get on an airplane, I expect a fully qualified crew.
CHERNOFF: Continental Airlines told CNN, "We expect our partners to adhere to the highest safety standards."
Gulfstream told CNN it was not prepared to appear on camera but said, "Gulfstream does an outstanding job training commercial pilots and it has done so for nearly two decades. Every U.S. commercial carrier has pilots who've received their training here."
(on camera): As good as the training may be at Gulfstream, veteran pilots say there is no substitute for experience. They say anyone stepping into the cockpit of a commercial plane should have significant flying time, far more than many students at Gulfstream.
(voice-over): Even so, flight schools like Gulfstream have been gaining popularity as more pilots try to accelerate their careers. But long-time pilots warn their career path is not one to be rushed because a speedy path to the cockpit may compromise safety.
MOORE: We're talking about lives here. This is not, gee, I like flying airplanes. I think it's cool. This is, if I make a mistake and I'm not trained properly or my crew is not trained properly, people can be injured or die.
CHERNOFF: Tragically, that has happened in some cases and veteran pilots say they believe it is no coincidence that the people involved in those accidents, the pilots involved attended the academy -- Rob, Alina.
MARCIANO: You know, Allan, we're looking at an industry where the pilots are making less and less money which may create, you know, qualifications that are low. It can only hope I suppose that the airlines do proper vetting and look at the resumes and hire qualified pilots.
CHERNOFF: Rob, indeed, a lot of veterans say that is one of the major problems right now. Airlines are so concerned with cost cutting that the people in the cockpit are making very little money. You have young people with very low experience and they say that can majorly (ph) be a problem.
MARCIANO: You've seen it first here at AMERICAN MORNING, a CNN exclusive. Thank you, Allan Chernoff in Miami - Alina.
CHO: Well, you met him right here on AMERICAN MORNING. Lieutenant Dan Choi has been out front trying to change the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military. Now, he wants to deliver his message directly to the president.
And newly released audiotape seemed to suggest the man who replaced President Obama in the Senate may have tried to buy his appointment. But Roland Burris says those FBI wiretaps prove he's innocent. You're going to hear the tapes.
Seventeen minutes after the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There were some protesters out here. I was -- I could hear them vaguely. One of them started to chant, "Obama, keep your promise." And I thought, that's fair. I don't know which promise he was talking about. But I thought to myself, you know, I like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: We know what promise that they were talking about. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
It turns out that some of those demonstrators President Obama heard in Los Angeles were demanding that he make good on a campaign promise to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Now you met the gay soldier who's leading the movement for change right here on AMERICAN MORNING, and as CNN's Ted Rowlands tell us, he was trying to get some face time with the president.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rob and Alina, many people who are against the military's policy on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" are hoping that this man and his story will lead eventually to gays being able to serve.
LT. DAN CHOI, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: Full equality now. Full equality now.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Lieutenant Dan Choi stood across the street from the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel with dozens of others trying to get the attention of President Obama who was inside. Choi is fast becoming the new voice for gay soldiers since publicly coming out in March.
CHOI: (Speaking in foreign language) Translation -- I am gay.
ROWLANDS: Lieutenant Choi graduated from West Point in 2003 with a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. He served as an Army interpreter in Iraq. The military recently started discharge proceedings against Choi who now serves in the National Guard. But in the past few weeks, Choi has been rallying to push for change.
CHOI: It is time to tell. It is time to stand. It is time to fight. It is time to march. It is time to love. I'm not asking anymore. I am telling.
ROWLANDS: Choi says he's disappointed that President Obama has acted on a campaign promise to change "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But with two wars and other problems facing the country, many say now isn't the time to deal with this issue.
(on camera): You buy that argument that this isn't the right time to change policy?
CHOI: Absolutely baseless argument. We're in two wars right now. We're kicking out soldiers that are capable. This is a time to retain them, not fire them.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Some believe Lieutenant Choi could help force Washington to act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's the right guy at the right time telling the right story because it's a story of truth and power.
ROWLANDS: At one point, Choi stood in the street saluting in the direction of the commander in chief. He says he'd like to stay in the military if "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is changed.
ROWLANDS: Lieutenant Choi was unable to meet with President Obama but he says he's hoping that Washington and the rest of the country gets the message that he and many others will continue this fight until the law has changed -- Rob, Alina.
CHO: Ted Rowlands, thank you.
MARCIANO: Meanwhile, a call for Illinois Senator Roland Burris to resign are growing. Audiotapes suggesting Burris may have had a quid pro quo deal with then-Governor Rod Blagojevich for President Obama's Senate seat. Hear what Burris is saying on an FBI wiretap.
And Republicans gearing up for their fight against President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court. And this morning, Judge Sonia Sotomayor's own words may be their best weapon. More on that.
Plus, some of what our viewers are saying about the judge on our show. Hotline 877-MY-AMFIX.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TONI, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): It's a wonderful pick for America. I think people who think she's being picked just because she's Puerto Rican, it's a shame. She's highly qualified.
LAWRENCE, MICHIGAN (via telephone): I've watched her in court. And she is just a nasty, mean spirited person who's far more interested in showing everybody how brilliant she is at the expense of the attorneys and the clients that they represent than she is in dispensing justice.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
We're hearing FBI audiotapes this morning linked to the alleged selling of President Obama's Senate seat. The scandal has already claimed the political career of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the accused mastermind, and continues to threaten the man who replaced the president in the Senate.
Carol Costello is live in Washington this morning following this never-ending story.
Good morning, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. It's never ending, but it sure is interesting. Rob, these tapes aren't exactly a smoking gun, but they don't exactly clear up lingering questions about the transfer of the president's Senate seat either.
They were released as part of an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. On one end is Senator Roland Burris, then a former Illinois attorney general. On the other end is Rob Blagojevich, brother of then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Got it? They have very similar names.
Burris is pressing for the Senate seat. Blagojevich is pressing for a campaign donation. Burris says he's in a dilemma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RONALD BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.
ROB BLAGOJEVICH, BROTHER OF FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.
BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people say, oh, Burris is doing a fundraiser, and then Rod and I both are going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me, you know, what was that all about, Roland?
I mean, so, Rob, I'm in a, I'm in a dilemma right now wanting to help the governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Dilemma, that's what he calls it. A dilemma.
Burris says he might be able to put a contribution in the name of his law partner because the partner is "not looking for an appointment" and ends the conversation by promising to personally do something.
You might remember that Burris failed twice under oath to mention that he discussed the seat with Blagojevich or his people. He eventually did admit to it. And late last night, he said the tape proves nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURRIS: My whole thing was seeking (ph) to placate the governor's brother. After I hung up that phone, after I said that, it dawned on me then that I couldn't give a check. It would not be right for me to do that. And guess what? I didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Governor Blagojevich, of course, was removed from office earlier this year. He still faces up to 20 years in prison on corruption charges.
Burris has apparently made few friends in the Senate including the senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin. Durbin has actually asked Burris to resign in the past and says he will not support him if he runs for the seat next year. Burris says he will make up his mind about that in the next month. Of course, we'll keep watching.
MARCIANO: Yes, we will. It's interesting to say the least.
COSTELLO: It's like a sad soap opera, isn't it? MARCIANO: But we love it. Thank you, Carol Costello live for us this morning.
It's a half past the hour. Checking now on our top stories.
New developments and a no nonsense warning in the North Korean crisis. U.S. and South Korean militaries raising their alert level saying they fear a "grave threat." It's the highest level that's been seen since October 2006 when North Korea tested its first nuclear bomb. The heightened alert comes just one day after a U.N. -- U.S. official tells CNN the north is stepping up activity at its nuclear complex.
And U.S. military officials say coalition troops have killed 29 insurgents during a battle in eastern Afghanistan. Reports say the troops were targeting a suspected foreign fighter camp near the border with Pakistan. Officials say at least six of the insurgents detonated suicide vests during the attack. (OFF-MIKE) was wounded in that assault.
And President Obama's national security adviser slamming former Vice President Dick Cheney for saying America is less safe under the new administration. Yesterday, retired Marine General James Jones said the U.S. is not only safe but will become increasingly secure. He pointed to increases in defense spending, efforts to wind down the war in Iraq while building up the war in Afghanistan and repairing America's image overseas.
CHO: Thirty-one minutes after the hour.
This morning, some Republicans are wasting no time ripping into President Obama's Supreme Court pick. Their anger aimed at Sonia Sotomayor's own words and rulings which they say make her a racist. Yesterday, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a, quote, "horrible choice" and accused her of being a, quote, "reverse racist."
This morning, we're putting their claims to the truth-o-meter. Joining me now Bill Adair, the founder and editor of the Pulitzer prize-winning PolitiFact.com.
In fact, you're normally in D.C. but you're here to accept that Pulitzer. So, congratulations.
BILL ADAIR, EDITOR, POLITIFACT.COM: Thank you very much.
CHO: First time a Web site has been honored in that way.
ADAIR: Yes. Great to be here.
CHO: OK. So let's get to it now.
Obviously, no shortage of critics. Everyone, from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter to Newt Gingrich, really spent the last couple of days going after Judge Sotomayor for making this statement during a lecture in 2001. I want to put it up there on the screen.
I quote, "I would hope that a wise Latino woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion as a judge than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Now, the counselor to the Judicial Confirmation Network also said in a statement, "Judge Sotomayor thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench."
Now, this isn't something that we often hear. So is it true?
ADAIR: Well, no. We gave it a half true on our Truth-O-Meter on PolitiFact. And the key word there is ought to. In her criticism, she says that Sotomayor's statement says that sex, race and ethnicity ought to affect. And if you look at the full statement that she made, that's really not what she said.
What she said is that somebody brings personal experiences to a decision in the court. But it's really not correct that she believes it ought to. So that one gets a half true on our Truth-O-Meter.
CHO: Got it. Let's move on now.
You know, who can forget when President Obama really introduced Sonia Sotomayor to the American public in the East Room of the White House. Not a dry eye in the room when she talked about her personal story, but the president also spoke about her wealth of experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Walking in the door, she would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: All right. So President Obama says she has more experience, more varied experience. That's a bold statement. So is it true? You say it's technically true.
ADAIR: It's technically true. We gave it a half true also on the Truth-O-Meter. Technically it's true in that she has one more year of experience as a district court and appellate court judge.
And the trickier part is when you get to the "more varied" question. That's really a matter of opinion. She's had more time on the district court than the other justices have. But it's not like she's head and shoulders above the rest, which is the impression you might get from his statement.
So, we gave that one a half true. She's really roughly the same as the other justices.
CHO: Got it.
Clearly, the GOP is going to try to use Sonia Sotomayor's own words against her. Let's listen to what she said in 2005 at a panel discussion at Duke University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: The Court of Appeals is where policy is made and I know -- and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law. I know. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Now the RNC admittedly remaining neutral on this. They put out a talking points memo that said Judge Sotomayor has said "that policy is made on the U.S. Court of Appeals," echoing what she said at Duke.
You know, many legal analysts including our Jeff Toobin call her a tough target, but is there an opening here? What does the Truth-O- Meter say on this?
ADAIR: Well, we gave the RNC's criticism another half true. Not a lot of variety this week. And the reason is that, when you look at it in context, what she's saying is that -- she's explaining the difference between a district court and appellate court in the context of what -- where the students might serve as clerks.
She's really not saying what RNC is suggesting, that at the appellate level is where you can be an activist judge nor is she advocating being an activist judge.
So that one too gets a half true on our Truth-O-Meter.
CHO: Activist judge. Those are scary words for some people, particularly when you're talking about confirmation hearings.
Bill Adair, glad to see you in New York. I'll talk to you when you settle.
ADAIR: Thanks for having me.
MARCIANO: Alina, a retired U.S. warship now swimming with the fishes. We'll show and tell you why the ship was sunk and on purpose.
Thirty-five minutes after the hour.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Must be the music to keep this road warrior on the go. TOM JOYNER, RADIO PERSONALITY: This is the hardest working man in radio. I'm "the Fly Jock," Tom Joyner.
This one is from the TJMS.
The caller wins $1,000.
Fifteen before the hour.
You're the tenth caller.
Play on, play on, play on.
I'm syndicated in more than 115 markets around the country and I travel to two or three markets every week. So I travel a lot.
The secret to keeping a schedule and flying all the time is drink a lot of water. I take food with me. I have a chef and he makes dinners. I eat right, exercise, and I'm married to a fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner. And she's the food police.
I have mastered the power nap, and be sound asleep in those 30 minutes. In fact, I'm sleeping right now as I talk to you.
I have all my clothes in the closet just laid out and all I have to do is grab them and put them in the bag.
This one and this one.
With a nice suit, I'm there.
Donna, I'm going to leave you! This time, I mean it.
MARCIANO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 40 minutes after the hour.
The newest tourist attraction in the Florida Keys is now sitting at the bottom of the ocean. A mothballed military ship sunk for its final mission to serve as an artificial reef.
CNN's Jeanne Moos has the explosive story.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prepare for that sinking sensation.
It's not so much the 44 explosive charges that make an impression, it's watching a former troop carrier sink lower and lower and lower -- until the stern of the Vandenberg disappeared, sort of makes you say the same four-letter word over and over again.
JOE WEATHERBY, REEF MAKERS: That's pretty cool, huh.
It was a pretty cool experience.
It's pretty cool.
MOOS: The holes they cut in the ship made it sink right side up in just under two minutes.
(on camera): Took less time for the Vandenberg to sink than it took for a storm to sink the ship in "The Little Mermaid."
(voice-over): It will be better for the fish.
The Vandenberg used to track space shots and missiles. Now it will be a habitat for marine life off Key West. It's the second biggest artificial reef in the world, meant to attract divers and tourism dollars. The biggest artificial reef is an aircraft carrier sunk off Pensacola, Florida.
Spectators paid from $75 to $300 to watch the Vandenberg go down.
(on camera): The sinking was delayed for about 20 minutes. They had to wait for a sea turtle to swim out of the danger zone.
And speaking of danger, the Vandenberg had a previous starring role in the 1995 film, "Virus." It was cast as a Russian scientific vessel attacked by robotic aliens.
It's a little sad to see the last of a ship go under.
WEATHERBY: It's a wonder to behold.
MOOS: Joe Weatherby described sinking the ship as surgery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This brain is still alive.
MOOS: In the movie "Virus," the ship ends up getting blown up. But they didn't really blow it up. Good thing, because there would have been no ship to blow up this time.
Swim with the fishes, Vandenberg.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CHO: Can you imagine -- 17,500-ton ship?
MARCIANO: No. Now just a nice little mansion for a bunch of fish -- and divers.
CHO: Another way of putting it. All right. General Motors apparently on a one-way street to bankruptcy. And now the classically American car company has set its sights on China. Why GM is vying to become the number one car maker in a communist country.
Forty-three minutes after the hour.
CHO: Forty-six minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
A live look at Manchester, New Hampshire, thanks to our friends at WMUR, home of the presidential debate. Forty-six degrees going up to 55. Not so bad, Rob. Keep those umbrellas handy, though. Showers apparently are in the forecast.
Forty-six minutes past -- Reynolds Wolf at the weather -- thank you very much. Sitting in.
Reynolds Wolf at the Weather Center in Atlanta.
MARCIANO: All right. On to GM's bankruptcy. It appears imminent at this time. But the key to the company's future, post Chapter 11, could lie in communist China.
We'll tell you why. It's 48 minutes after the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": President Barack Obama is in Las Vegas. So if things go off the table, General Motors just might make it. You know what I mean?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Whatever it takes, right?
Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
GM is on the fast track for bankruptcy here in the U.S. But the once mighty automaker may have a brighter future halfway around the world in communist China.
Our Jim Acosta now with the story you're seeing first here on AMERICAN MORNING.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: For all its problems, General Motors can speak Chinese. GM is now vying to become the number one car maker in the communist country. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader warns GM is on its way to saying good-bye U.S.A., and Ni Hao or hello, China.
RALPH NADER, CONSUMER ADVOCATE: Where's our self respect as a nation?
ACOSTA: After taking billions in bailout money and announcing thousands of layoffs, GM has plans to ramp up production in China to build cars for U.S. consumers. This recently amended agreement between the United Autoworkers Union and GM says both parties discussed the company's plan to import certain vehicles from China.
Nader says, a GM in bankruptcy would allow the carmaker to shift its China plans into overdrive.
NADER: Do we really want to have United States of America export its auto industry paid for by the taxpayer and unemployed workers to a dictatorship in a country like China?
ACOSTA: And the cars GM is building in China like the Chevy Spark are the very vehicles President Obama would like to see stay in the U.S.
OBAMA: The path I'm laying out today is our best chance to make sure that the cars of the future are built where they've always been built -- in Detroit and across the Midwest.
ACOSTA: Industry analysts say GM is simply focusing on what's working.
CHRIS ISIDORE, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: The main thing that GM plants in China are shipping to the U.S. are not cars, it's money. That there are profits being made in China by GM's operations, which are being used to support the company here.
ACOSTA: Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown wants to slam on the brakes.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: That cannot be part of the restructuring of this company. Their business plan cannot include more outsourcing of jobs, while taking U.S. tax dollars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The compact car that people could count on.
ACOSTA: After fighting for seat belts in GM products decades ago, Nader is concerned about the safety of Chinese cars.
NADER: It's very much of a concern. There's been contaminated fish, contaminated food.
ACOSTA: But he's more worried about the future of the American autoworker.
NADER: We'll look back on this bankruptcy as a death star that has emerged to empty out jobs in communities all over the country.
ACOSTA: As a concession to its unions, GM has agreed to keep open one U.S. plant it had slated to close to build some of the cars it's already making in China. Estimates vary as to how many cars GM wants to import from its Chinese factories. The company did not respond to our request for a comment - Rob.
MARCIANO: Jim Acosta live for us in Washington, D.C.
Thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: You bet.
CHO: They opposed each other in Bush versus Gore in 2000, but now lawyers for George W. Bush and Al Gore are teaming up.
Why this powerful legal odd couple is partnering and suing the state of California.
Fifty-four minutes after the hour.
CHO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
They've been dubbed the legal odd couple. Two power house lawyers who faced off in the fight for the 2000 presidential election are now teaming up. Jason Carroll now with the details of their unlikely alliance. And they're going after the state of California.
Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alina.
Yes, a lot of people are scratching their heads on this one. It's definitely an alliance that some say is a strange one. They are two men who used to fight each other, now brought together by the Constitution and the battle over same-sex marriage.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're the odd couple in the debate on same-sex marriage. Renown attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.
DAVID BOIES, ATTORNEY: Ted and I, as everybody knows, have been on different sides in court and political issues.
TED OLSON, ATTORNEY: I cannot think of a way to succeed with this case that's better capable of doing that than to have David Boies on the team.
CARROLL: Huh? The same team. The last time these two shared the spotlight, they were on opposing teams, during the hotly contested recount in the 2000 presidential election.
BOIES: Being up here on the platform with Ted Olson and all these lights makes me want to urge everybody to count every vote.
CARROLL: Boies argued on behalf of Vice President Al Gore.
BOIES: The Bush lawyers and the Bush team have made a variety of attacks on the courts.
CARROLL: Olson represented then presidential candidate George W. Bush.
OLSON: We have a presidential election which has been thrown into chaos.
CARROLL: One might expect Boies who has represented the likes of liberal heavyweights such as filmmaker Michael Moore to argue in support of gay marriage. But why would a conservative, former solicitor general from the Bush administration take up the cause and ask a former foe to join him.
OLSON: This case is about the equal rights guaranteed to every American under the United States Constitution.
CARROLL: Olson and Boies filed a lawsuit on behalf of two California same-sex couples. Their argument, the state of California giving same-sex couples domestic partnership, instead of full marriage violates equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th amendment.
BOIES: The Constitution guarantees that everyone deserves the equal rights that every human being is entitled to.
CARROLL: Whether their case gets to the Supreme Court is still in question. But legal analysts say the unlikely legal duo make a formidable pair.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROF. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW: If two people know how best to frame a case to the Supreme Court, it would be these two lawyers who have been there all too often.
CARROLL: So Olson and Boies are holding press conferences, joint appearances on CNN's "LARRY KING" and "AC360," both saying together they will not fail.
OLSON: We are convinced that we will prevail in the federal courts all the way up to and including the United States Supreme Court.
CARROLL: Well, some legal analysts say it is not uncommon for the Supreme Court to leave these types of divisive issues to the states or a lower court to resolve. Even so, as you heard there, Olson and Boies are determined to be heard and determined to win.
CHO: Jason Carroll, thank you.
CARROLL: You are very welcome.