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AMERICAN MORNING

President Changes Speech Date to Accommodate Republican Debate; Homes Flooded in Wake of hurricane Irene; Fires Rage uncontrolled in Texas and Oklahoma; Farmers at Carolina Affected By Hurricane Irene; Airlifts to Vermont, Obama to New Jersey; Obama Backs Down; Venus Williams Out of U.S. Open; Gadhafi's Son: "My Father is Fine"; Schumer: Turn Over Lockerbie Bomber; Aruba Suspect Remaining in Custody; Santorum on Same Sex Marriage; The Safest Drivers; Little Girls Kidnap Baby Goat; Obama Reschedules His Jobs Speech; Both Political Parties Move in Opposite Directions as Obama Polls Numbers Fall; New 9/11 Commission Reports Says Lingering Security Gaps in U.S.; AT&T Mobile Traffic Up 8,000 Percent

Aired September 1, 2011 - 06:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The showdown is over. President Obama backing down from House Speaker John Boehner, agreeing to reschedule a big jobs speech next week. We are live in Washington asking the question, does this make the president look weak?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And days after Hurricane Irene, people are finding what's left of their lives under piles of mud. Some cut off corners of New England are finally this morning getting some help.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: In Texas and Oklahoma, things are burning. High winds fueling massive wildfires in two states, suffering from historic drought conditions.

COSTELLO: And Venus Williams withdraws from the U.S. Open saying she is too sick to continue playing. The latest on her condition on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: And good morning. It's Thursday, September 1st. August is behind us, thank goodness. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING.

VELSHI: Yes. A lot of people are not going to remember August well.

Let's get to the big story this morning, the president of the United States versus the speaker of the House of Representatives. In the end the president backed down, agreeing to push his big jobs speech next week from Wednesday to Thursday night.

We will have more on that in a moment, but first, the White House isn't going to like this. A new CNN-ORC poll says two out of three Americans now disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy, down 11 points since February. The approval rating is down 11 points since February. And that's not all. When asked how things are going in the country today, 73 percent say badly. Brianna Keilar joins us live from the White House. Brianna, some people think the president looks weak from backing down on the jobs speech. I have to tell you, my impression was not so much weak is why did they decide to look for that fight, scheduling speech on the night when there was a Republican debate? What is your sense of it?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ali, I think the bigger question, sort of getting to what you said was, you know, logistically if they are not even on the same page, how is it that they can be, House Republicans and the White House, on the same page sort of in good faith trying to figure out something on an issue that is affecting millions of Americans, and that is -- of course, is jobs.

The White House really had the option of two days here because of the Congressional schedule. They had Wednesday -- and neither day was good. Wednesday you have got the Republican date. Thursday, which is now the day that President Obama will be make thing address, is the season kickoff for the NFL. We are talking Saints versus the Packers. This is a pretty big game to contend against. Pregame begins at 7:30 p.m. The game starts at 8:30 p.m. eastern on Thursday. So obviously that's not really a good option either.

But what you have here is still a disagreement over just how much the White House consulted with House Republicans even though the White House has changed the date. The White House saying they did consult with House Republicans, House Republicans saying no, they didn't. Already from the get-go here disagreement, Ali.

VELSHI: Already not quite sure how she will divide up her Thursday night. She mentioned the same thing you did. It is going to be a good game.

COSTELLO: Two TVs right? You're watching both.

VELSHI: In case Carol decides she is not watching, can you give her some sense of what the president is likely to say in his jobs speech Thursday night? Not to suggest that Carol is not going to watch.

KEILAR: OK, Carol had better watch because there's a lot of stuff we don't know, and the White House is playing this pretty close to the vest. We had some general ideas that we learned from senior administration officials, and also some stuff the president has been outlining for some time now.

The big one you will see -- tax relief, payroll tax extension, and also extending it to employers so that they can have more money and do hiring. Perhaps a tax cut if they just flat out have new hires. You get a tax break and if you have new hires.

Assistance for the long-term unemployed, which you guys know there are so many millions of Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year. And then also we heard the president talk a lot about infrastructure spending in trying to get some construction going, rebuilding railways and rebuilding roads, and also putting construction workers back to work doing those kinds of things.

VELSHI: And some will say we have done all of this stuff. I suppose the scope and force of this is going to be of some consequence.

ROMANS: We've done $862 billion worth of that already. People will say we have already done all this to a degree we have never spent in this country before, and we still have a 9.1 unemployment rate.

VELSHI: Which is why --

KEILAR: And you certainly have some -- yes, some Republicans who are very early coming out against infrastructure spending and also some of the president's other ideas.

COSTELLO: Brianna, I guess my contention is that -- don't the American people just want to hear a plan? I mean, what -- I mean, I know it's important what's in the plan. But I think people just want some kind of plan so that they have some kind of hope.

KEILAR: They want something. I mean, they are tremendously worried. That's why I think when you look at this kind of back and forth tiff that went on yesterday this is not something that inspires confidence. When you are someone who is really concerned, either about how you are going get work, you don't have a job or you are worried about losing your job.

VELSHI: All right, Brianna, Christine and I will be watching it on Thursday night.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: It is like all that, we don't have to watch any of that stuff. There is TiVo, baby.

VELSHI: CNN will have special live coverage of President Obama's address next Thursday night, September 8, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. So the question for you this morning, is president Obama's jobs plan DOA before it is even unveiled? It's not exactly off to a fantastic start. The president has already had to postpone the unveiling of this plan by 24 hours to avoid a clash with Republicans.

As a "Washington Post" op-ed put it, "This sums up the image problems that Obama has faced since the start of his term. If the White House has spent months working to appear above the partisan fray, as they insist they have, then pulling a blatantly partisan stunt like this torpedoes all of that PR work."

And don't think that Republicans running for president didn't pile it on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Does this show maybe a little insecurity on the part of the president? Either, a, he wants to distract the American people so they don't watch it, or, b, he doesn't want the American people to hear what the next president of the United States is going to say about the president's job plan.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Whether you think that's fair or not, it may resonate more than this statement we bought from the White House. Quote, "The president is welcoming the opportunity to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday so our nation's leaders can focus 100 percent of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people."

So the talk back question today -- is President Obama's jobs plan DOA before it's even unveiled? Facebook.com/AmericanMorning, Facebook.com/AmericanMorning. I will read your comments later this hour.

ROMANS: All right, it was another dark night for close to two million people. Days after hurricane Irene knocked out power, the floodwaters have started to recede this morning, revealing the muddy, awful mark that Irene left behind in New Jersey. Some of the 1,700 people who left their homes are now returning to see the damage.

And President Obama will travel to Paterson, New Jersey, this weekend to see for himself. Some flood victims returning home in Vermont, meanwhile are going to find their houses aren't there anymore. Water surged down the mountains and into these towns. The governor there saying it is the worst flooding in 100 years. Crews are now patching up some roads, creating all new roads in some cases to get supplies to hundreds ever stranded people in Vermont they haven't been able to get in or out since Sunday. Food supplies are now a major problem in parts of New England.

Our Susan Candiotti is live in little falls, New Jersey, where high water is keeping thousands of people from returning home, and for some when they return home, Susan, it is a boat they have to use to survey the damage. What are they finding?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Well, it is simply a mess, if they can get in there at all. Just over my shoulder about 50 yards in that direction is the Passaic River. And you can see it has obviously overflowed the banks.

The water here is about six inches lower than it was in the same spot last night, but it is still nearly five feet above the flood stage. This is a parking lot for a business back there. You can see they obviously cannot reopen because they are surrounded by water. Here is an abandoned pay phone station. And walking over closer to here, Christine, we see a stop sign. So this marks the beginning of a street that leads back to a neighborhood where, again, the only access in and out is by boat. We hitched a ride.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (on camera): It is now called "Lake Passaic." I'm seeing what are probably the tops of fences leading up to the front door. That's not a house on stilts. That is a garage that's underwater.

They stayed around, that house? Lost the car. Oh, a classic mustang lost.

You have gone through this time and again. Why do you and other people still live here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do? You can't sell the house. You can't give them away down here.

CANDIOTTI: Here is a sign over here that has a double meaning now, "road closed a few hundred feet ahead, local traffic only." At this point it is local boat traffic only.

We are about to start school, your senior year in high school coming up in a week. What's going through your head?

LAURA SHAKIRI, HOME FLOODED: How am I going to prepare for school? My clothes, everything is stuck at home. I don't know how I will get them. Everything is closed to go shopping. Mall is down. I don't know where to go.

CANDIOTTI: All have you is a suitcase you were able to run out with?

LAURA SHAKIRI: Yes. Five pants, five shirts, that's it. That's all I have. And school starts in one week.

CANDIOTTI: You probably won't be the only one.

LAURA SHAKIRI: There are plenty of them. I have so many friends that live on this street.

CANDIOTTI: Is this the first time you are seeing it?

SAM SHAKIRI, HOME FLOODED: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: How do you even begin to think about the cleanup that's involved here? What's going through your head?

SAM SHAKIRI: I don't want to think about that right now. As long as we are safe that's good. That's the main thing is to be safe. Then the cleanup comes next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: And you know the river's current is still very strong. That's why authorities don't want to have people trying to wander back there or use even a kayak, because if you tip over and you don't know what you are doing, you could be in -- pardon the expression -- deep trouble in more than one -- more than one way. Christine, back to you. Certainly a lot of cleanup lies ahead here.

ROMANS: I know. And Susan, you see a beautiful day out. School should be starting. But you are going home in a flat-bottom boat just to see what your house looks like. It is just a real tough way to see it. Thanks so much, Susan.

CANDIOTTI: Exactly.

VELSHI: And hurricane Irene has uncovered more cracks in the Washington monument. The National Park Service says repair crews found puddles near the top of the monument and in the stairs after the storm, which means they missed some holes. Inspectors originally found four cracks after the East Coast earthquake.

So the monument remains closed during repairs. But engineers say it is structurally sound.

And look at this dramatic new surveillance video from a Virginia high school hit by last week's earthquake. This is what teachers and stuns at Luisa County high school faced when ground began to shake. Ceilings and walls caved in, everyone rushing out of the classrooms. The county says the school building suffered $57 million in damage.

Meantime just two hours ago another aftershock in Virginia. This one a 3.4 magnitude located about 36 miles northwest of Richmond. So far no reports that that hurricane or that earthquake has done any damage.

COSTELLO: Happening right now, fire crews in Texas and in Oklahoma resume the fight against wildfires that have destroyed dozens of homes in the two states and put hundreds of others at risk. High winds and severe drought conditions are feeding the flames. One of the most intense fires is burning in the town of Possum Kingdom Lake. That's about 50 miles from Dallas. That's where CNN's Jim Spellman is. Have the winds died down, Jim?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, right now the winds are pretty calm and it's much cooler than it was yesterday. The mornings are really the time when they hope to make ground against this fire. Yesterday they did. They thought they had it fairly well in control. About midday the winds pick up. It got through about 105 degrees. And it is such perfect conditions for the fire to spread that it got away from fire crews yesterday.

Here are 39 homes destroyed in this sort of resort community here, a lot of second homes. This drought here is just so epic as 90 percent of Texas under serious drought conditions here. And we are seeing fires break out in other areas of the state, expanding now to Oklahoma City area, threatening populated suburb of Edmond. And that's the real problem. When these fires meet up with perfect conditions, hot, dry winds, drought conditions in populated areas, it takes just a spark for a fire to get going. That's what they are dealing with now in Oklahoma City today. There and here and other places across the state, they will try to do what they can to get these under control as quickly as they can, Carol. But with these drought conditions, new fires can break out literally at any moment. Carol?

COSTELLO: Jim Spellman reporting live for us from Texas, must 50 miles outside of Dallas, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, it's 12 minutes past the hour.

(WEATHER BREAK)

VELSHI: Still to come this morning, agriculture shock. Hurricane Irene could not have happened at a worse time for farmers, crops under water from the Carolinas all the way up to the Canadian border. Can they recover? And are there going to be vegetables and fruits you have to do without this fall?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is here and I'll talk to him right after this break.

ROMANS: Plus, why Venus Williams is out of the U.S. open even though she did not lose a match.

COSTELLO: And the kid who made this awesome hockey shot now out with 50 grand because a little switcheroo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: We lost the farm. That's something we heard a lot from North Carolina all the way up through New England after hurricane Irene. Fields were totally under water. Crops total loss in some cases. We don't know how much the damage with will cost farmers or actually cause all of us down the line. When it costs farmers it affects all of us. Joining us is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Secretary Vilsack, good to see you. You come from farming country. We don't necessarily associate a lot of places we have seen hit by the hurricane as farming country. But lots of crops there, lot of cotton, lot of tobacco, lot of corn, lots of tomatoes. What have you seen as you gone out and seen the devastation?

TOM VILSACK, U.S. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: Well, I had an opportunity to take a look at fields in North Carolina. I have never seen anything like it. The corn was just totally destroyed. Tobacco hit hard. Cotton hit hard. We are still going to wait and see how it affects the soybeans. As you mentioned tomatoes in some of the vegetables underground we won't know for a while what the impact will be. But it is very clear that farmers in North Carolina, Virginia, along the east coast, suffered pretty significant losses.

VELSHI: For a lot of reasons, whether it is weather or demand in other places, in the world, we convenient a lot of prices go up. Prices for food, grains and things in like that. Is it your sense, I know you know a lot about these things, you're sense that this event putting aside the damage done to farmers and local communities which we will talk about in second is enough to start to affect prices that people across the country pay?

VILSACK: I don't think that you are going to see significant increases in prices. We have such a diverse agriculture in the United States. And we have so many I can acres planted in so many different crops. I don't think this will affect much of anything. It my have some small impact on corn because supplies are tight. But I don't see any significant increase.

VELSHI: OK. Let's talk about the people affected because obviously, we keep seeing these pictures. But we are worried about the impact on those farmers. You have a lot of programs that help people who have uninsured crops and livestock. At the same time we have been having these conversations this week, including with Craig Fugate from FEMA about the questions about whether there is enough money available. Are your programs funded well enough?

VILSACK: They are. They are part of the farm bill. They are already authorized and appropriated. So, the farmers aren't going to have to worry about waiting for Congress to determine whether there will be offsets. This is something that can be done and should be done. I like to think of our department sort of the Good Samaritan department. We are there to help. We don't ask for something in return. We are there to help farm families going through a very difficult time.

VELSHI: And of course, just to broaden the discussion a little bit because you, you know, there has been so much going on with farmers in the country in the last year or so. What's the state of agriculture and crops across country?

VILSACK: Well, it's the bright spot in the economy. We are going to see record income levels for farmers this year. We are also going to see a record level of exports. Farmers have become extraordinarily productive. It is a story that's untold in the United States. These hard working families have produced so much that we are able to meet our own domestic needs and able to export well from the United States. It is a prescription frankly for the rest of the economy.

VELSHI: All right, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, always good to see you. Thanks for coming by.

COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, Venus Williams out of the U.S. open. A surprise announcement that has the tennis star sitting on the sidelines. We will tell you why.

ROMANS: And did it happen again? Could it happen again? One apple employee pretty nervous about right now.

COSTELLO: Come on.

VELSHI: Yes. It's a good start.

ROMANS: Pro-type and a pitcher of beer. What do they have in common? I'm going to tell you more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Minding your business this morning. Awful August is over in the markets. U.S. markets closed slightly higher yesterday. Oh, but the month was not pretty. The Dow lost for about 4 1/2 percent. The S&P 500 fell nearly six percent in the month. The Nasdaq lost the most. It dropped 6 1/2 percent in the month of August.

Coming up today, economists are forecasting 405,000 unemployment claims filed for first time last week, now level above 400. Four hundred thousand that signal it is jobs market is still weak. The big August jobs report, that comes out tomorrow, the economists tell CNN money they expect unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 9.1 percent.

Right now U.S. stock futures are trading lower ahead of the opening bell. Of course, the jobs report today, tomorrow, big jobs report will be the real definitive factor for the week. The department of justice filing an antitrust lawsuit to block the merger of at&t and t-mobile. Filing the lawsuit yesterday claiming the $39 billion deal is going to kill competition in the arena. This zeal could affect every cell phone user in the U.S. because prices, according to the government, would go up if this merger goes through.

And Apple reportedly losing, yes, losing, its unreleased iphone upgrade yet again cnet is reporting that an Apple employee lost or misplaced an iphone five at bar in San Francisco in July. Last we are there was a similar incident when the iphone four before it hit the stores.

Don't forget the latest news about your money check out CNN.com. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: It's about 30 minutes past the hour, good morning to you. Here are your top stories.

Days after Hurricane Irene brought the water, cut off corners of Vermont are finally getting some help. Airdrops were being made to several towns.

The National Guard bringing supplies to other communities on patched-up roads and President Obama will travel to Patterson, New Jersey, on Sunday where the waters in the streets were over 15 feet high.

ROMANS: President Obama is backing down agreeing to reschedule his big jobs announcement next week. The president wanted to deliver his address to Congress on Wednesday. The same night Republicans are holding a debate. The president decided on move the speech to Thursday night, which happens also to be the same night as the NFL opener.

VELSHI: There's only one Williams sister left at the U.S. Open. Two-time champion Venus Williams has withdrawn from the tournament before playing her second round match.

As she says, she has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and fatigue. William's ailment is Shogren's Syndrome. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Atlanta to explain to us what this is.

Good morning, Elizabeth. What are we talking about here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ali. Shogren syndrome is something that a lot of people haven't heard of, which in a way is strange because it affects 4 million Americans. Nine out 10 of them are women.

It is an autoimmune disorder and most of time it manifests itself in terms of having really dry eyes and dry mouth. I don't just mean like, you know, feeling a little bit dry. I mean, that it is really quite extreme.

Now fatigue and muscle pain or joint pain, which is something that Williams mentioned. That's a little bit less common, but those two definitely are symptoms of the disease. Now there is a really important distinction between two different kinds of the Shogren syndrome.

I will tell you about both of them. We don't know what she has. One, it is secondary to something like lupus or other autoimmune diseases. You get the Shogren's because you have lupus or something like that. Other times you just get Shogren's in and of itself. We don't know which one she says.

VELSHI: Elizabeth, what is the treatment for Shogren's disease?

COHEN: Well, unfortunately there's no way to get rid of it. Once you have it, you have it and so all doctors can do is treat the symptoms. So for example, for the dry eyes and mouth, there's different kinds of solutions you can drink or there are drops you can put in your eyes.

If the disease gets really, really bad, it can affect your internal organs like your kidneys and then they have to give you immune suppression drugs, which is really a big deal. It does not appear at all like she is in that situation.

For something like joint pain, they can give her, you know, anti-inflammatory drugs. For the fatigue, you know, that can be really hard to treat.

VELSHI: Can be treated in people, but what about her career?

COHEN: You know, it is very difficult to say with affect this disease will have on her career, Ali and the reason for that is that we don't know if she just has Shogren's or if she has Shogren's as a result of having another disease.

You know, it probably -- it sounds like it is not going to be debilitating, but for these elite athletes, there's really a fine line here. She may function fine as a person, but she may not have what it takes to compete at the level that she's used to competing at. Really only time will tell.

COSTELLO: Elizabeth, this is Carol. It is just so sad because she's so physically fit. We don't know how long she has been playing with this condition. She may have had hit before. So this possibly -- I mean, this possibly is not a career ender.

COHEN: Right. You know, you make an excellent point. It takes years sometimes to get this diagnosis. People have this disease sometimes for like seven years before somebody one realizes that they have it.

In fact, in her statement, she does say I am thankful to finally have a diagnosis. So it does sound like she's had it for quite a while. She has been playing with it for quite a while.

So we will have to see how it continues. Maybe now that they know what it is, they can actually, you know, treat her and hopefully she will feel some of these symptoms less severely.

COSTELLO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks. So sad because she is so exciting to watch playing tennis.

ROMANS: Absolutely. There's something about the Williams sisters - their entire story, their ferocity on the court, the way -- lot of people say -- when are they going to retire? When is Venus going to retire? You know, hopefully this will not be a precursor to their retirement.

COSTELLO: I hope not. A defiant message from the son of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. Yes, another one, speaking to a Syrian television station, Saif Al Islam Gadhafi called on Libyans to, quote, "clean the country from those gangsters."

He also said his father is fine and he's drinking tea and coffee with his family though he didn't reveal where exactly the fugitive dictator is doing that.

Earlier in morning, the Algerian foreign minister denied Gadhafi is in their country. So we know that for sure.

ROMANS: It is -- law makers in this country including New York Senator Charles Schumer are threatening the rebel leadership with an ultimatum. Turn over convicted Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi or risk losing further support from the U.S.

Over the weekend, our Nic Robertson found Al Megrahi in Tripoli lying in a bed, according to his family, in a coma and near death. There are still some law makers that would like him turned over still. VELSHI: A judge in Aruba ruling that authorities can hold Gary Giordano for another 60 days. He's suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner. The two traveled from Maryland to Aruba together. Giordano claimed Gardner was swept out to sea while they were snorkelling last month.

COSTELLO: Same-sex marriage front and center on Piers Morgan. GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum defending his views and he slammed Piers Morgan for questioning him about being a bigot. Here is what Santorum said to Piers and then to a group of students after the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SANTORUM, (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I think just because we disagree on public policy, which is what the -- debate has been about which is marriage, doesn't mean that it is bigotry.

Piers Morgan called me a bigot because I believe what the Catholic Church teaches with respect to homosexuality, I'm a bigot. So now I'm a bigot because I believe what the bible teaches. Now 2,000 years of teaching and moral theology now bigoted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: In all fairness Piers did not call Santorum a bigot but said we live in a different era and views about moment sexuality have certainly changed.

VELSHI: That was their point of disagreement where Piers said, I'm also Catholic and I think these views should evolve. Rick Santorum says I don't think that's true. But that was the extent of it in the interview. So if you didn't watch the interview, you just watched that second part, you may think it was a different interview.

COSTELLO: It is online. You can still catch it.

VELSHI: If you want to avoid an accident -- who really does want to avoid an accident, head to Fort Collins, Colorado, for the second year all state determined it has that safest drivers. Boise, Idaho, Lincoln, Nebraska, Chandler, Arizona, Huntsville, Alabama, round out the top five. By the way, people who live in D.C. said to be the worst drivers.

ROMANS: All these places are places when you grow up learn how to drive, long distances --

VELSHI: Start when you're 11. You're changing the carburetor when you are 12.

ROMANS: Changing the tire by the time --

VELSHI: You know your car well.

COSTELLO: So much more traffic there. ROMANS: A 1-year-old goat, a goat, yes, named Gabby, she is safe and sound back on the farm this morning in Minnesota after two little girls, 5 and 7-year-olds kidnapped that goat named Gabby.

A woman called 911 and told the police that the kids were walking down a busy street in footie pajamas with a goat on a leash. When the cops caught up to them, the girls folded under questioning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, they really conspired. They brought the leash with them to the park because they had every intent of bringing home a pet goat. When questioned, they said the goat has been living in a closet. Then they said their mom knew but their dad probably didn't know and they thought it was better if we kept it on the down low and didn't tell their dad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The sisters apparently saw the goat earlier in the day at a birthday party, put together their evil little scheme to go get it. The goat went back and the girls were sent home, 5 and 7. That's so cute.

COSTELLO: You wouldn't punish the kids for doing this?

ROMANS: After I laughed for four hours.

VELSHI: They didn't make stew out it. They were just keeping the goat.

COSTELLO: I think --

VELSHI: I hope -- I don't know about the goat being in the closet.

COSTELLO: They were saving the goat from abuse.

Still to come this morning, just as President Obama was preparing for a jobs offensive, he's forced to retreat and reschedule his big speech. We are going to talk about that.

VELSHI: And the 9/11 Commission out with a disturbing new report that says the U.S. still has large security gaps, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks when it comes to fighting terrorism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: It is 41 minutes past the hour. The president's big prime time speech on jobs will be a week from tonight. Forget about agreeing on the jobs plan, the president and speaker of the House couldn't even agree on the date for the speech.

The day the president wanted to speak to Congress was also the day a Republican presidential debate was to take place. So the White House agreed to reschedule and now the president will compete with the NFL's season opener.

Michele Bachmann said the president was being insecure. Some Democrats say Republicans were being childish. Joining me now is Ron Brownstein, our resident grownup, he's CNN's senior political analyst. Thanks for being here.

Surprise, surprise, part is an bickering. President hasn't even unveiled his jobs plan yet and -- then -- you know, the two parties can't even agree on a day to do this. I guess it is -- makes a bigger question, is this jobs plan already in trouble?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, obviously we don't know what it is. I think compared to the magnitude of the actual issue that we are talking about here with this -- incredible sustained period of unemployment and not a lot of optimism with the jobs report on Friday what it is going to show, this dispute is really, you know, secondary in trivial.

But it is, I think, emblematic of where we are. We are live through the highest level of party line vote in Congress since the 19th century. The parties are having enormous difficulty agreeing on anything as this kind of sadly demonstrates even before the actual substance of the plan comes forward.

COSTELLO: So will the president and Congress realize that the American people aren't so happy with this partisan bickering, what will it take -- what will it take, Ron to stop it?

BROWNSTEIN: It is a really good question. Because -- you know, the dynamic we are seeing is unusual where both parties are simultaneously declining in steam and we should say not only both parties in Washington, but pretty much all institutions in American society whether it is business, finance, media.

Public confidence is flickering in our leadership class as we endure what's been the longest, I think, sustained downturn since the depression. Right now, you know, it is very difficult to get out of this cycle. There are internal forces in both parties that pushed them through the hard partisan line and make it harder to compromise.

Right now most politicians feel they have more to fear from compromise than from, you know, being too -- more likely to get punished by voters in their own party than they are by swing voters or moderate voters for not compromising enough.

COSTELLO: Even President Obama because he was trying to be the grownup in all of this. He was trying to rise above this and then his people schedule a speech on the same day as the Republican debate.

BROWNSTEIN: It is interesting. The president is the one that has probably the most different calculus because he is the one that has to speak to the whole country and it is very hard to get elected president without winning the majority of independent voters. There is not a consistent ideological majority for either party at this point. And really the balance of power is held by voters who are probably less ideological than the activist on either side, but really want to see results. And right now they're not seeing a lot of results out of Washington and as a result, we've had a very volatile politics.

I mean, swinging from the Republicans in '04 to the Democrats in '06 and '08 to the Republicans in 2010. Democrats president looking right now with very difficult polls numbers for 2012 that we'll have the kind of sustained advantage for one side as we saw, for example, after the New Deal.

So right now, I think both parties are looking at a very contingent and fragile hold on public opinion, which would argue for trying to come together on things like a jobs plan but, in practice, they are moving in the other direction.

COSTELLO: OK. The president is going to hold a big speech before a joint session of Congress on September 8. He will go up supposedly against the start of the NFL season, Green Bay against New Orleans. In the end, does it really matter? The president is holding a joint session of Congress so he can look lawmakers in the eye and says -- and say, look, this is the plan. These are some of the things you can do you now. I dare you do to do it. So does it matter if a lot of the American public tunes in to this speech?

BROWNSTEIN: As Richard Newstat (ph) famously said, the power of the presidency is the power to persuade. Ultimately, that is the trump card of the president, the ability to move public opinion. And they're -- this president has a need to reengage the public. As I said, he is looking at very -- the lowest approval ratings of his presidency. Tremendous pessimism about where the economy is going, enormous anxiety about the direction of the country. He has to convince the country to give him another hearing at this point.

He risks many Americans tuning him out and feeling this may be a well-meaning guy but his agenda simply hasn't worked. So in this speech, he probably has to do two things at once. He has to both be specific and incremental enough with ideas that may get through a very polarized, as we've been discussing, Congress. But he also has to have, at least part of the speech, be bold enough that the country says, well, yes, maybe this is something big enough and new enough and creative enough to make a difference.

COSTELLO: We will see September 8.

Ron Brownstein, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Still to come this morning, "Romans' Numeral." It's back. The number is 8,000, as in 8,000 percent. What is at 8,000 percent?

VELSHI,: Gold! No.

ROMANS: It is not your paycheck. It's not gold. It's not your 401K. Check your phone.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: It's not gold?

ROMANS: AMERICAN MORNING, back in a minute.

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ROMANS: A lot going on this morning. Here is what you need to know to start your day.

President Obama visiting Paterson, New Jersey, on Sunday. That city hit hard after Hurricane Irene flooded out with more than 15 feet of water. Cleanup is only starting now after the water slowly begins to recede across the northeast.

Crews are battling to contain wildfires in Texas, wildfires that have already burned dozens of homes and are threatening hundreds more. Strong winds and severe drought are also fueling brush fires in Oklahoma City. The smoke forced a major interstate there to shut down.

For the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, an entire month has gone by without a single American military casualty. About 48,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq.

President Obama rescheduling his big jobs speech next month. He wanted to deliver it on Wednesday. That's the same night Republicans are holding a debate. Speaker John Boehner objected. Now the address has been moved to Thursday night, same as opening night of the NFL.

Bad news for the family of a kid who hit a miracle $50,000 hockey shot. Remember this? Whoa! It happened at a charity hockey event in Minnesota last month. 11-year-old Nate Smith nailed an 84-foot shot from center ice through a hole barely big enough for the puck to fit into, but he traded places with his twin brother who had the winning ravel ticket, so the company that insured the event has decided they won't get anything! But they will donate 20 grand to Minnesota youth hockey instead. Whoa.

You're caught up on today's headlines. The kid still got the great shot.

AMERICAN MORNING, back in 60 seconds.

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VELSHI: The 9/11 Commission has released a new reporter warning of serious lingering security gaps in the fight against terrorism. The report highlights nine recommendations that the commission made in 2004 that the government has essentially ignored. The commission members are not holding back with their criticism.

Chris Lawrence joins us live from the Pentagon this morning.

Tell us about the story, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Ali, if this was a report card, the U.S. government would get a passing grade, but wouldn't come close to getting an "A" in national security. In fact, one of the members of this commission who looked at this asked the question, if it takes the government another 10 years to implement these recommendations, how in the world are they going to stay ahead of the terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The 9/11 Commission's new progress report says 10 years later, some emergency responders still can't communicate by radio in a crisis. Some cops can't talk to firefighters who can't talk to EMTS.

THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: They died because of the even on 9/11. They died because of that in Katrina. And they will die in the future unless this particular problem is not solved.

LAWRENCE: The report gave a thumb's down to the airport's new whole-body scanners, saying they failed to detect some explosives hidden within the body.

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Our conclusion is that despite of 10 years of working on the problem, the detection system still falls short in critical ways.

LAWRENCE: The report did credit the government for better screening passengers before they get on planes and doubling its spending on intelligence.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you look at the number of recommendations the commission made and the number that have been filled, it's a high percentage.

LAWRENCE: But the commission issued its original list in 2004 and, of the 41 shortcomings, nine have still not been addressed.

CARNEY: Which doesn't mean we don't constantly look for ways to improve.

LAWRENCE: But that improvement will have to come in an economic environment where every dollar counts.

JAMES THOMPSON, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER & FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: The question should be not how much is this, but is this worth paying for? Is this good security? Is this the best we can get?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: The commission says a stronger, more powerful director of national intelligence could cut through a lot of the bureaucracy that has really plagued this whole problem over the last six or seven years, and so help keep costs down. The commission also says the U.S. should implement some sort of national security I.D. system and go to a sort of national entry and exit system for travel that would rely on biometrics for the most part -- Ali?

VELSHI: All, of course, all of those things are fraught with difficulties, given discussions about civil liberty and people who don't like that sort of information, so we will have to see where this goes.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

VELSHI: Chris, good to see you. Thanks so much.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

COSTELLO: We asked you to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question this morning: Is President Obama's jobs plan DOA before it's even unveiled?

This from Nate. "Blaming the Republicans for Obama's inability to bring change is a narrow-minded pin-the-blame game. The American people screamed for Republicans and Democrats to work together. And when Obama bumps the schedule a day at the request of Boehner, a small glimmer of them working together, America screams weakness? What gives"?

This from Doris. "Once again, it was the president that had to be the adult in the room instead of getting into partisan wrangling with the Teapublicans over a stupid date. I don't believe the majority of Americans who have their eyes and hears and open don't see that it's these Tea people who have hijacked the Republicans. If the people in Washington were there to do what their constituents voted them in to do, then, no, the president's proposal would not be DOA."

And this from Joe. "It's not DOA. It's was dead two years and a half years ago when we spent $867 billion on these same failed ideas. The shovel-ready make-work jobs never materialize. Government cannot create long-term jobs. Only the private sector can. Unless Obama realizes that, he's about to be among the 9.2 percent unemployed."

Keep the conversation going, Facebook.com/Americanmorning.

VELSHI: I got good news for that last guy. The unemployment rate is down to 9.1 already.

(LAUGHTER)

So, see? Don't be so negative!

COSTELLO: Oh, God.

VELSHI: Things are turning around as we speak.

COSTELLO: Oh, man.

ROMANS: Time for this morning's "Romans' Numeral."

VELSHI: Oh, I know the answer to this one.

ROMANS: You do? It has to do with --

(CROSSTALK)

COSTELLO: You got it wrong already.

VELSHI: What is up -- what's your number?

ROMANS: What is up 8,000 percent over the last four years?

VELSHI: I said gold. You said no.

ROMANS: It's not gold. It's not your 401K. It certainly is not your paycheck. It's the growth in AT&T's Mobile data traffic the past four years.

COSTELLO: Oh.

VELSHI: Oh.

ROMANS: There you go. Think about how you're using the phone now --

VELSHI: OK.

ROMANS: -- more differently over the past four years. 8,000 percent growth.

VELSHI: That's amazing.

ROMANS: That's why AT&T wants to buy T-Mobile. It's why they need --

VELSHI: This is --

ROMANS: There you go.

VELSHI: That's very interesting.

ROMANS: There you go.

VELSHI: By the way, before anybody starts tweeting me --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: -- I knew it wasn't gold.

(LAUGHTER)

I was just trying to mix it up a little bit.

COSTELLO: Sure!

ROMANS: All right, (INAUDIBLE). VELSHI: All right, coming up next hour, it's liquid candy. A new study says half of America drinks a soda every day and that is not really keeping the doctor away. 56 minutes after the hour.

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