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AMERICAN MORNING

New Poll: Perry Widens Lead; Interview with Herman Cain; Report: France Nuclear Plant Explosion; Hockey Team Crash Survivor Dies; Gadhafi Son Flees Libya; GOP Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman Interviewed; A Nation Remembers; Rare Interview with Marc Jacobs

Aired September 12, 2011 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight is the night.

I'm Ali Velshi, in Tampa for the huge CNN Tea Party debate.

The Tea Party says it will choose the next president. And what happens on this stage could make all the difference.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Also, world markets tumble.

I'm Carol Costello.

From Europe to Asia, the markets are being knocked down by more concerns about Greece. And here in the United States, it's starting to look like your portfolio could take a hit today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans.

In just a few hours, President Obama makes one more pitch for his jobs plan. But will it be enough to get it through Congress? And will it really create jobs? Details on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(MUSIC)

COSTELLO: Oh, good morning to you. Happy Monday. It is September 12th.

ROMANS: It is. I'm Christine Romans.

Ali Velshi joins us from the Florida state fair grounds in Tampa.

I can't even spit it out, Ali. You're going to have so much fun tonight at the Tea Party debate.

VELSHI: It is. A lot of excitement in the air tonight. We're live at the Florida state fair grounds, as you said, Christine. It is the site of tonight's big CNN Tea Party debate.

Now, this could be an early turning point in the race for the Republican nomination, and it may be the last chance for who we thought was one of the Tea Party favorites, Michele Bachmann, to get back off the sidelines. Many analysts are already calling this a two- person race between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Now the debate is going to take place tonight live in Tampa. The only place you can see it is on CNN tonight at 8:00 Eastern. Now, a new CNN/ORC poll released just a couple of hours ago shows that Rick Perry is way out in front right now.

Jim Acosta has been following this closely. He joins us now.

Jim, any way you parse this poll, whether it's amongst -- whether it's taken nationally, amongst Republicans and Republican- leaning voters, or among Tea Party supporters, Rick Perry way out in front.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.

But his chief rival at this point, Mitt Romney, may have gotten a little bit of a boost this morning. This is news just coming in this morning. The Romney campaign has announced that Tim Pawlenty, who recently dropped out of the ray race, is endorsing Mitt Romney. So, a good development for the former Massachusetts governor.

But, you're right, this new CNN/ORC poll shows that this race is really boiling down to Rick Perry and whoever can catch up.

VELSHI: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Texas Governor Rick Perry has ditched his cowboy boots for running shoes, staying far ahead of the Republican pack. The latest CNN/ORC poll finds Perry way out in front with 30 percent, the nearest rival, Mitt Romney, at 18 percent.

With the rest of the field looking to play catch up, the CNN Tea Party debate in Florida could be a Social Security smack-down in a state where the program is crucial to seniors.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you are paying into a program that's going to be there.

ACOSTA: After Perry doubled down on his call for an overhaul of Social Security at the last debate, Romney pounced.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The governor says, look, states ought to be able to opt out of Social Security. Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security.

ACOSTA: On CNN's "JK, USA," Michele Bachmann piled on.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think is that America needs to keep its promise to senior citizens. I talk with them all the time. I love senior citizens.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You usually don't start a presidential campaign by setting grandma's hair on fire, but that's what Rick Perry did when he not only called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, he implied he might undo it if he could go back 70 years.

ACOSTA: That kind of clash could make the debate another road sign, indicating where the GOP is headed, toward more conservative Tea Party candidates like Perry or more moderate contenders like Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor stepped up his courtship of Tea Partiers only after his numbers started sagging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a member of the Tea Party?

ROMNEY: I don't think you carry cards in the Tea Party.

ACOSTA: Some Republicans are saying there's good reason for caution. Perry's doubts about climate change might appeal to Tea Party voters.

PERRY: Just because scientists have stood up and said here ever the facts, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.

ACOSTA: But centrists like Jon Huntsman worry those views could alienate independent voters and cost Republicans the White House.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: But make no mistake, Ali, the big shocker in this CNN/ORC poll this morning is Michele Bachmann.

VELSHI: Yes.

ACOSTA: At 4 percent.

VELSHI: Whether it's amongst Tea Party supporters or the larger Republican field, she is at 4 percent.

ACOSTA: That's right. And she just won the Iowa straw poll a month ago. And look here her campaign is now.

But this debate that's happening tonight really could play into her hands. Tea Party activists are going to be able to ask questions. These are her people.

They are also the people of folks like Herman Cain, who is going to be on in just a few moments --

VELSHI: Yes.

ACOSTA: -- who is also a big Tea Party favorite. It could be trouble brewing for folks like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. They are late-comers to the Tea Party bus.

VELSHI: We're going to be talking to Jon Huntsman a little later on. I didn't really think I'd ever hear Galileo cited in a Republican presidential debate.

ACOSTA: And the campaign is young.

VELSHI: It just gets interesting.

All right. Thank you, So much for that.

A short time ago, Amy Kremer, who is the president of the Tea Party Express, joined us here. She made it clear that they are a political force that could make or break a candidate this time around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY KREMER, CHAIR, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: We are going to choose the next Republican nominee. We are not going to accept what the Republican Party hands us. And what people need to understand is we are not here to send a Republican to Washington. We want to send a conservative to Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Amy Kremer said people in the Tea Party express are laser-focused on one thing right now: the economy. More specifically, jobs.

And joining us right now is one of the candidates who will try to convince the Tea Party tonight, 2012 presidential candidate, Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, welcome. Thank you for being here.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Ali. My pleasure.

VELSHI: You are -- have been a consistent force in this race. Your numbers low, but consistent.

CAIN: Yes.

VELSHI: There have been polls that have indicated that the people who like you really like you.

CAIN: They love me.

VELSHI: They love you.

CAIN: Because they love my message. That's the difference.

VELSHI: But you need more than 5 percent to love you.

CAIN: And we will get it. You know, the polls are fine. But, you know, like you indicated earlier, Michele Bachmann was the flavor of the week a few weeks ago.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: Now, Rick Perry is the flavor of the week. My supporters -- they are consistent, and they don't defect. So, we are going to continue to move up. And the more people find out about my nine-nine- nine economic growth and jobs plan, the more they are going to be attracted to what I'm talking about, because that is a difference maker.

VELSHI: Give me the short pitch on that.

CAIN: Short pitch on that is: throw out the existing tax code and replace it with a structure that imposes a 9 percent tax on corporate profits.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: And 9 percent tax on personal income, and 9 percent national sales tax. That eliminates the payroll tax. It eliminates the death tax. And it also eliminates the capital gains tax. And it eliminates all of the other taxes that muddle up the thing.

VELSHI: But that depends on everybody paying it. I think we'd all love to pay lower taxes. But a lot of people in this country don't pay taxes.

CAIN: That's right. A lot of people in this country don't pay taxes and the people that are at the very lowest, they still are not going to be hit that hard, because, remember, it's three components. They only have to worry about that one.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: This way, we expand the base and we bring in revenue that we don't get now in order to generate it. And now, the good news is, once you put that structure in, not only is revenue neutral, it then provides certainty to the business community which is what's holding this economy back.

VELSHI: We are one of the few countries that doesn't have a value added national sales tax. A lot of people have suggested that as an idea.

Let me ask you something else. The Tea Party --

CAIN: Yes?

VELSHI: -- there be a lot of people watching this debate who are not Tea Party members or not Tea Party followers. To them, it's noise and it's politics.

You said some time ago something that was interesting. You said of those who have said that the Tea Party has racist elements -- you said, no one would know it better in this race than you. And I believe that. That you would know if there was racism.

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: Do we have the sound of that we can just play?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I would know racism if I saw it. I do not see it, nor have I experienced it, in the Tea Party movement. It is just an attempt to discourage people from participating in a movement that many people are still in denial on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Now, we'd like to put this all behind us and get on to the issue of jobs. But I have been at a couple of Tea Party rallies where I have seen those placards of President Obama with a bone through his nose and a loincloth, and things that are definitely overtly racist. So, I'd believe you more if you didn't say you have never seen it. That it doesn't exist in the movement.

CAIN: It doesn't exist in the movement. You may have seen an isolated case of those kinds of things.

VELSHI: We have seen them in a number of places.

CAIN: Right. You've seen those. But what I'm saying is, those are isolated, Ali. I started speaking at Tea Party rallies in 2009, April 15th, 2009, before it was cool.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: The Tea Party people have three objectives. Amy talked about it this morning. You may have seen those. As long as you keep showing them, some people will think that represents it.

It does not represent them. It does not represent them.

VELSHI: OK. Fair enough.

CAIN: It does not represent the majority of the people that are part of this.

VELSHI: Let me broaden it out then. How do you, when the issue is going to be the economy and jobs in particular, how do Tea Partiers generally muddle through that noise, a lot of the social issues that do not attract fiscal conservatives? How do you muddle through that and get things like the nine-nine-nine? Get things like Jon Huntsman's jobs plan, which he is trying to put out that was endorsed by the "Wall Street Journal"? Get things like the 59-point plan that Mitt Romney put out?

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: How do you get the discussion there and not have it taken back to these issues that seem ugly to some Americans?

CAIN: With all due respect, Ali, you guys are doing that.

VELSHI: We do it because our cameras find something and something happens.

CAIN: All right.

VELSHI: We didn't draw the posters.

CAIN: No, no, no. But you keep replaying the poster. I was just at a Tea Party event up in Pennsylvania this last weekend. No posters. No racial overtones.

You want to know why? People like Amy Kremer and people like Jenny Beth Martin and other leaders of the Tea Party movement have said cease and desist, and they did. So, you don't see that stuff anymore. That stuff is way old.

If you go to another Tea Party event, bring it to my attention, because I do not see it. They don't do that stuff anymore.

VELSHI: All right. Are you -- one of the things that happened in the last several months, which maybe the Tea Party will come to regret over time, is the remarkable emphasis that was put on the debt ceiling debate --

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: -- as opposed to the concentration on jobs. What if we had seen that kind of passion, that kind of energy, that kind of deadline, that kind of rhetoric, devoted to solving the jobs problem?

CAIN: The emphasis on not raising the debt ceiling, I agree with not raising the debt ceiling. Here's why, because if you continue to raise it, it's never going to stop. Secondly, we don't have a revenue problem in Washington, D.C. We have a spending problem.

VELSHI: But then why do you want to fix the tax code?

CAIN: Because --

VELSH: Why do you want to do the nine-nine-nine if we don't have revenue problem? That's a solution to a revenue problem.

CAIN: I want to not only get the same amount of revenue that we have now, but I want to boost that revenue. We need to boost the economy. And the biggest thing that's going to do --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Was that an admission that we have a bit of a revenue problem if you are saying you want to boost the revenue?

CAIN: No, it's not. We have a spending problem. Spending has increased exponentially in the last 30 months.

Revenue was just fine. It hasn't increased. Why? Because the engine of economic growth is the business sector. And there has been no fuel put in the engine.

That's what we need to do. That's what my nine-nine-nine plan would do.

VELSHI: Are you getting a boost at it tonight you think?

CAIN: Yes, I am going to get a boost at it tonight.

VELSHI: All right. We're going to --

CAIN: You want to know why? Let me tell you why -- because Herman Cain is still the only problem solver, nonpolitician in the group. And the American people are saying, we want somebody other than a politician.

VELSHI: We're going to look forward to watching you tonight. Thanks for coming and talking to us.

CAIN: It's a pleasure, Ali. Love it.

VELSHI: All right. Don't go anywhere, 8:30 Eastern, we're going to speak to fellow Republican candidate Jon Huntsman right here.

You're watching a special split edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

Let's take you back to New York for Christine and Carol standing by.

ROMANS: Thanks, Ali.

We want to bring you up to speed on some breaking news right now. An explosion has been reported at a processing center for nuclear waste in southern France. "Reuters" is reporting one person was killed. Four people were injured. This is according to France's nuclear safety watchdog. Local police say there's no risk of radiation contamination at this point.

The Marcoule nuclear plant does not include any reactors. We're told the explosion took place near a furnace. And you know, of course, France relies on nuclear energy for 78 percent of its energy needs.

Also looking at the markets, global marks were already down. France's stock market average was already down 4 percent before this happens. Down 5 percent now. So, adding to an already very jittery situation. We'll continue to follow that there.

COSTELLO: We certainly will.

Still ahead, the global selloff that began Friday continues this morning. We'll check the damage so far in today's market sink.

ROMANS: And the struggle to save Bank of America, the largest bank of the United States, going into crisis mode after reporting an astounding loss.

COSTELLO: And forget "Jeopardy." IBM is finally putting its Watson supercomputer out into the working world. Watson's new job is still ahead.

It's 13 minutes past the hour.

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ROMANS: There you go. Washington, D.C., partly cloudy, 68 degrees. Later, we were expecting a high of 85 in the nation's capital, Carol.

COSTELLO: Looks pretty there today. Finally, an end to the rain. Now, it's your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning. Will Rick Perry's stance on Social Security hurt his presidential campaign? How important is the issue of Social Security in a presidential campaign?

Let me rephrase that. How importantly are elderly voters in, say, Florida, to winning a presidential election? Really important. You hear about Social Security in tonight's CNN Tea Party debate now that Rick Perry's called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: But although economists say Social Security needs fixing, Social Security has enough money to pay full retiree benefits for the next 25 years and 77 percent of benefits for 60 years after that. Even Republican guru, Karl Rove, says that Perry's Ponzi remarks are out of line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: They're toxic in a general election environment, and they're also toxic in a Republican primary. If you say Social Security is a failure and ought to be replaced by a state- level program, then, people are going to say, what do you mean by that? And make a judgment based on your answer to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: But other conservatives like CNN contributor, Erick Erickson, are applauding Perry's straight talk. Social Security is sick, he says. And besides, in 2010, while running in Wisconsin, then candidate Ron Johnson campaigned aggressively on Social Security being a Ponzi scheme, and guess what, he beaten Russ Feingold. So, the talk back question today, will Rick Perry's stance on Social Security hurt his campaign? Facebook.com/americanmorning. Facebook.com/americanmorning. I'll read your comments later this hour.

ROMANS: And you can imagine this morning, Carol, if the opinion pages are still buzzing about Governor Perry's controversial statements about Social Security. Here's your morning opinion. Members of the "USA Today" editorial board, they called Perry's views on Social Security both curious and troubling. Writing, "Social Security is most certainly not a Ponzi scheme."

In the same paper, Perry himself has written an opinion piece defending his beliefs, writing, quote, "For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security. We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we're to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come." Now, although, Perry contends that lawmakers need to fix the problems, the presidential hopeful not offering any indication yet as to how he would actually enact reform.

The "Wall Street Journal" editorial board calling attention to this and his failure to produce any solutions for the program, writing, quote -- this is the journal writing -- "the problem with his hot rhetoric is that it can turn off many voters before they even get a chance to listen to his reform proposals, assuming, he eventually offers some.

COSTELLO: I think his feet will be put to the fire in tonight's debate.

ROMANS: He's right on the fact that the status quo -- you can't tell a 20-year-old that the status quo is going to be the same for them. Right. But I think most 20-year-olds know that, and they're waiting to figure out what exactly the programs --

COSTELLO: Well, as a 25-year-old, I was told that Social Security wouldn't be there when I retired, and it most likely will be there when I retire. So, it's difficult to know who to believe, because Social Security has been this punching bag for decades.

ROMANS: Right. And people use it for fear mongering and the like, but we know -- we have -- they have reformed -- they have studied it and reformed it in the past, made small changes that have meant big changes for the program for how long it can last. So, just get it done, guys. That's all we're asking. Let's fix it.

COSTELLO: It's simple like that.

ROMANS: Easy.

COSTELLO: Layoffs could be coming soon to the largest bank in the United States. How you might be affected. It's 21 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 24 minutes after the hour. "Minding Your Business" this morning. Right now, U.S. stock futures are trading sharply lower. World markets saw a huge selloff overnight as fears about Europe's debt problems grow. More buzz this weekend that Greece could default on its debt despite all the financial help it's gotten from the other EU countries.

Next hour, we're expected to learn more about Bank of America's big restructuring plan, which according to the "Wall Street Journal," could include up to 40,000 layoffs. The bank is also reportedly planning to close a number of branches as a way to increase the profit.

This morning, President Obama will announce he is sending his $447 billion jobs plan to Congress today. He'll make that announcement in the Rose Garden surrounded by teachers, veterans, and small business owners. Republicans promise to consider the president's plan.

Remember Watson, the IBM supercomputer, that humiliated the world's best "Jeopardy" players on national TV? Guess what? Watson's got a new job. Wellpoint, one of the largest health insurers in the country, plans to use IBM's Watson to diagnose medical problems and authorize treatments for its 34 million members.

The thriller "Contagion" starring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet dominating the box office this weekend. The film raked in $23 million ticket sales in its opening weekend. "The Help" was second place.

Up next, Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, joins us live. His fight to stay alive in this race may all come down to tonight. How this former Utah governor and President Obama's first ambassador to China, how he plans to stand out. AMERICAN MORNING is back right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ROMANS: Just about half past the hour, breaking news to tell you about now. An explosion reported at a processing center for nuclear waste in Southern France. Reuters is reporting one person was killed, four people injured. That's according to France's nuclear safety watch dog. Local police say there is no risk of radiation contamination. The Markul Nuclear Plant does not include any reactors, and we're told the explosion took place near a furnace.

COSTELLO: Right. The only member of a Russian hockey team to survive last week's plane crash has now also died. The crash in Russia has now killed 44 people, including 37 players, coaches, and staff. The only other person to survive, a flight crew member was reportedly moved out of intensive care at the Moscow hospital.

ROMANS: One of Moammar Gadhafi's sons has now fled Libya and has arrived in Niger. Niger's justice minister says that Saadi Gadhafi was accompanied by eight former Libyan officials and was accepted on humanitarian grounds. Earlier this month Saadi Gadhafi says he had not seen his father or brother Saif al Islam for two months. They are of course both wanted by the international criminal court for crimes against humanity. The national September 11 memorial will open to the public for the first time today. It's still of course an active construction site at ground zero, so visitors will need reserve passes well in advance to be allowed in. The 9/11 memorial museum is set to open at ground zero a year from now.

A brand-new CNN-ORC poll shows that Texas governor Rick Perry is way ahead of the GOP field now, Perry polling at 30 percent nationwide, easily beating Mitt Romney at 18 percent. But the candidates will chip away at Perry's comments on Social Security tonight at the CNN/Tea Party debate in Tampa.

ROMANS: And now let's head to Ali Velshi, who is in Tampa ahead of that debate. Good morning, Ali.

VELSHI: Good morning to both of you. We are live at the Florida state fairgrounds, the site of tonight's big CNN/Tea Party debate. Our next guest has said that Florida is make-or-break for his campaign. Former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is joining me now. Good morning, sir. Welcome.

JON HUNTSMAN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ali, good to see you. It's a pleasure.

VELSHI: Take a look at the polls. Why are you there? You have been an executive of a state, a very successful executive of a state from a business perspective. You have gone over and worked in China, which is our, you know, probably the most important country to the United States in the next 10 or 15 years. And you're polling in a place that doesn't seem to make sense for an electorate that thinks the economy is a number one issue. What do you think the issue is?

HUNTSMAN: The issue is the economy. The issue is whether or not we're going to be able to come together as a nation. We watched the 10-year anniversary last night. A lot of Americans had tears as they watched that play out. We came together after a national tragedy. I'm here to tell you we're going to have to come together again to fix this economy. That's what this is about.

These are early days, Ali, and we have been in this for about two months. We are just beginning to introduce ourselves to the American people. And as we do, they will see we bring together the elements of success -- private sector experience, having been a successful governor when we were number one in job creation in this country, best managed state in America.

But third, and perhaps just as important, I have worked overseas four times. I have been an ambassador three times. We live in a competitive marketplace. I understand what are competitor nations are doing to prepare for the rest of the 21st century. We too must step up and prepare.

VELSHI: OK, so let's go back to your experience in Utah, which has helped you develop a plan that got endorsed by the "Wall Street Journal." Ultimately, what we need answers on, and maybe the Tea Party audience doesn't need them as clearly as the rest of the country do because there are specific issues with this audience -- what do we do to create jobs? What is the thing? What is the role government can play? Because what we've heard a lot of from your opponents is that the government needs to get out of the way. It's a little more complicated than that.

HUNTSMAN: Well, we've got to create a framework, an environment that speaks to competitiveness. If you talk to businesses big and small, and I do every day as we journey around the country, they tell you the same thing -- there needs to be predictability and transparency in the system. They need to know where the marketplace is going to be in terms of regulation and tax policy three to five years from now.

VELSHI: That's not the same as saying that there doesn't need to be regulation and regulation just ends in the way of business.

HUNTSMAN: It depends what kind of regulation you're talking about. We have to repeal Obamacare, not because that's good political speak but you talk to the people who should be standing behind it and defending it, and they are the first ones to say $1 trillion dropped on this economy when we can least afford it, a new bureaucracy created, an unconstitutional mandate.

VELSHI: And you know that it has at this point had no effect on costs or jobs.

HUNTSMAN: Well, when you talk to small business folks and they anticipate 2014 and beyond, they say we are not going to hire, we're not going to deploy capital expenditures in the marketplace because there's too much in the way of an unknown environment out there.

So you combine Obamacare with Dodd-Frank, for example, on the financial services reform side, you have the makings for a very uncertain marketplace. So you have to clear the clutter and roll out a tax policy that speaks to 21st century competitiveness.

Now, I've rolled out an idea that takes all the deductions and the loopholes and wipes them clean. On the corporate side, it takes corporate welfare and subsidies and wipes it clean. It allows us to lower the rate and broaden the base.

VELSHI: Which other countries have done successfully. And that seems to be a logical place to go. But Americans I think need to hear that it's hand in hand. You eliminate -- if you want lower taxes on businesses, businesses have to pay taxes.

HUNTSMAN: You got to pay for it. And you have to raise that revenue so you can reinvest back into the tax code.

And we forget, the last time we had major tax reform was under Reagan in 1986. We haven't done a whole lot since. We forget that major competitive countries of the world have gone through tax reform, they've cleaned up the marketplace, they are ready for the 21st century. All the while we are sitting and thinking 25 percent of the world's GDP, that's good enough to carry us through the rest of the century. And I'm here to tell you it isn't. VELSHI: You had a very strong progressive record on energy, which has gotten a little tainted by your new report. You seem to have gone over to a side a little bit that suggests that regulation on the environment is this boogeyman that some of your competitors say it is. In fact, Michele Bachmann would like to do away with the EPA. Does that make sense in this world where we do have to think about the environment?

HUNTSMAN: Well, you've got to maintain clean air and clean water. But when you get to the point, Ali, when you can't build a manufacturing plant, you get to the point where build a nuclear power plant becomes next to impossible, you get to a point where we haven't built a refinery in this country for 25 to 30 years, you have to say there's significant overreach. And for us to get our percentage of GDP from manufacturing, up north of 10 percent, back to where when I was born in 1960 it was 25 percent, I mean, we can do a whole lot better than what we're doing.

VELSHI: But you lived in China. Are we really going to compete with China in manufacturing?

HUNTSMAN: Of course.

VELSHI: Are we really going to manufacture more goods?

HUNTSMAN: We're always going to be a step ahead in terms of industry development and innovation. So the industries of tomorrow, we're going to own. Whether they are health sciences or energy or personalized medicine, they are all going to be born here in the United States. And we take them to a certain level of success once they become commoditized. There will always be a country that can step up and do it a little cheaper and a little faster.

So we have to keep that innovative spirit alive and well in this country, or we lose. We forget sometimes that some other countries coming up -- I have lived in some of these countries, are learning how to innovate and educate the next generation in ways that suggest critical thinking, innovative skills, entrepreneurship, things they never did in the past.

So we not only do we have to innovate with the best of them, but we have to create a marketplace that is conducive to manufacturing, so not only innovate but we manufacture too.

VELSHI: Let me ask you about energy. You are a believer that energy can create more jobs in this country. How do we do that? How do we deal with the fact that we consume far more than we produce in this country? Our energy mix is a little out of whack. What's your suggestion?

HUNTSMAN: Well, we've got all kinds of options we can choose from domestically here. Just take natural gas for example. If you start phasing natural gas into the transportation fleet, and just start with the 18 wheeler, the big rig fleet, into power generation, and into manufacturing, where it's maybe 19 percent or 20 percent today, this is 500,000 jobs over the next five years. So says T. Boone Pickens, with whom I have had this conversation. And that's a lot better than this heroin-like addiction that we have to foreign oil, 60 percent of which comes from Canada, which is ok. But from other parts of the world, dangerous, unpredictable corners of the world where there's been a massive transfer of wealth.

I say for the most creative, optimistic, can-do people in the world, we can figure this one out. We just need some presidential leadership to stand behind the bully pulpit and say the time is right for us to move towards energy independence, and here's how to make it happen.

VELSHI: Jon Huntsman, we look forward to seeing you tonight.

HUNTSMAN: Ali, great to see you.

VELSHI: Good to see you.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you.

VELSHI: Don't miss it tonight, the CNN Tea Party debate live from Tampa, Florida, the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Wolf Blitzer will moderate it. It is tonight at 8:00 eastern. Let's send it back to New York, Carol and Christine.

ROMANS: Fascinating interview.

COSTELLO: Yes.

Coming up next, 9/11 air scares. In two separate incidents fighter planes were scrambled and bomb squads called in. We have new details on that suspicious activity.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: Yes. It's 38 minutes past the hour.

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COSTELLO: It's 41 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

Even though the 9/11 memorial services went off without incident, security as you can see there remains tight here in New York City and also in Washington, D.C. Investigators are continuing their search for those terrorists who might be planning these car bomb attacks. Sources telling CNN they are still following up on credible but unconfirmed leads about as many as three potential attackers who could be trying to use vehicle bombs to strike. Authorities say there is no evidence an actual terrorist operation is underway. But you have all these road blocks here in New York City, and they are looking.

ROMANS: And emotions are raw and nerves are frayed. And officials are saying there's no link to terrorism with some incidents yesterday even though fighter jets had to be scrambled to escort two commercial airliners into airports in New York and Detroit yesterday. A Los Angeles to New York American Airlines flight had to be escorted after three passengers made repeated trips to the bathroom. A pair of fighters shadowed a Denver to Detroit Frontier Airlines flight after two people were, quote, "spending an extraordinarily long time in a bathroom." All the passengers were eventually released.

COSTELLO: If you're wondering what those passengers were doing in the bathroom, we'll leave that to your imagination because it's probably pretty darned accurate at this moment.

Painful memory, proud moments, a more than a few tears marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

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(APPLAUSE)

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COSTELLO: President Obama and the first lady attending four memorial services yesterday. The final one at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the president focusing on the bravery and resolve of those who died 10 years ago and those who have been forced to carry on without them.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear. The rescue workers who rushed to the scene, the firefighters who charged up the stairs, the passengers who stormed the cockpit, these patriots define the very nature of courage.

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COSTELLO: It is hard to imagine 10 years have passed. The pain and the heartache rushing back so vividly for millions of Americans. At sporting events and memorial services at the Pentagon in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at ground zero, emotions were raw as Americans put aside their differences and united in their grief.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gerard A. Barbara.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my father, Sean Edward Bowman Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Firefighter Gary Richard Box (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Joseph Blackwell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my dad, Michael Bats (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will always love you. And as you always said, daddy, we got your back. God bless New York City, and god bless America. (SINGING)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Although words cannot ease the pain of these losses, paying tribute by recalling not just the horror of that day but the heroism as well can hopefully give you some comfort and stiffen the resolve of this nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still the freest, most blessed nation in this treasured world. And we will long honor that role with the memory and guidance of 40 Good Shepherds.

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ROMANS: Good morning, New York City. It is fair, 68; a beautiful, crisp, early September day. Mostly sunny and later 82.

COSTELLO: Oh I can't wait to get outside; 82 degrees and sunny. Life is good.

ROMANS: This is football weather, you know. And it's crisp in the morning and warm again in the sun.

COSTELLO: Right, it's awesome.

It is fashion week in New York City. And you know what that means. Fashionistas are everywhere clamoring to get a peek at the latest spring 2012 trends -- I can't even say it -- 2012 trends walking the runway.

ROMANS: You're looking at two girls who have never been in a chair at a fashion show. But I'm telling you, I know someone who has, and it's our Alina Cho.

The fashion world has a reputation for being fickle. There's one American designer who has nominated -- or dominated the scene for going on two decades now. Things are only looking up from here.

CNN's Alina Cho sat down with fashion legend Marc Jacobs for a rare exclusive interview.

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ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You see his name everywhere. The creative genius behind a half billion dollar empire, the creative director of Louis Vuitton.

MARC JACOBS, FASHION DESIGNER: We have to see the shape of the pocket.

CHO: At 48, Marc Jacobs has won nearly every award in fashion, including the industry's highest for Lifetime Achievement just this year.

(on camera): It's an incredible validation from the industry.

JACOBS: Yes but a Lifetime is also something that feels very final, and I certainly don't feel like my lifetime is over. And I certainly hope it isn't over. In fact, I hope it's only halfway started.

CHO (voice-over): He may be right. The biggest rumor off the runway is word that Marc Jacobs is in line for one of the most coveted jobs in design: creative director of famed French fashion house, Christian Dior.

JACOBS: Yes. It would be an honor. I mean there is no question that the two great couture houses in Paris are Chanel and Dior. I think it would be very hard thing to turn down.

CHO: Dior has been without a designer since the company fired John Galliano early this year for making anti-Semitic comments.

Jacobs says he doesn't think about the future. His focus is on the present.

(on camera): One day at a time, one hour at a time.

JACOBS: Yes. One minute at a time, one second at a time.

CHO: An obsession that started at 15, a stock boy at a hot New York City boutique. Overnight, he was selling his own designs and then designing for Perry Ellis. In the early '90s, he started his own label and created a sensation when he reinterpreted grunge for the runway. Marc Jacobs had arrived.

JACOBS: I instinctively react to things that stimulate me. And --

(CROSSTALK)

CHO (on camera): Such as?

JACOBS: -- that -- that's -- well, I mean it could be anything. Things that have affected me in the past couple of months, the weather has affected me.

CHO: Amy Winehouse?

JACOBS: The death of Amy Winehouse and moving into my new place.

Yes, yes.

CHO (voice-over): A perfectionist.

JACOBS: So we should mock up the size. Yes. And put a pocket.

CHO: Famous for working right up until show time. JACOBS: To me, it doesn't really matter. If it -- if it's a day before the show or a week before the show, if it's before the show, it's before the show.

CHO: A former drug addict with 33 tattoos, and a certain fondness for skirts.

JACOBS: I like wearing skirts. I like wearing kilts. I started like a few years ago. I moved from kilts into pencil skirts. Like -- I wear now mostly Prada pencil skirts. I like to do the things that make me feel good and that make me feel happy that don't hurt other people.

CHO: A man who on and off the runway has done it his way. And yet is never satisfied.

JACOBS: I'm always nervous. I'm a total nervous wreck, all the time or most of the time. I'm very, you know, I'm always questioning my choices. And I'm always relooking --

(CROSSTALK)

CHO (on camera): You are.

JACOBS: -- at things. Yes but I -- and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't think that's a negative thing.

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CHO: And come to think of it. It is the mark of a great designer. But Jacobs well, he takes it to another level. Recently, when Hurricane Irene blew through New York, few on his design team could make it in to work and so he lost several days. So what did he do? He simply changed the date of his show from Monday to Thursday as only Marc Jacobs can.

And we talked about this earlier; 250 some-odd shows during fashion week. It is so tightly scheduled; for Marc Jacobs to change the date of his show is a very, very big deal. Everybody in the fashion world talking about it, everybody is changing their schedules as a result.

ROMANS: It shows his status.

CHO: Yes, exactly.

ROMANS: So you tell me, were you wearing Marc Jacobs when you interviewed Marc Jacobs?

CHO: I was. I was wearing Marc Jacobs. I thought it would sort of make things a little easier when he started talking so and he did notice. He notices everything.

ROMANS: And he's an -- he is an elusive get in terms of interview, though. CHO: He is, you know, I mean, I rarely get nervous, I was a little nervous interviewing him. But you know what, he's a wonderful guy. He's a great guy. And he is extraordinarily creative and successful.

Carol and I were talking about this. For him to stay at the top for so long in fashion is not easy, and he has done it.

COSTELLO: I always like to tweet people like that and say, hey, Marc, what do you think of my Banana Republic sweater? Do you like it?

CHO: I think it's great. I think it's great.

COSTELLO: I'm sure he would love it too.

CHO: He would.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

COSTELLO: Coming up tomorrow morning, the world of men's fashion. Believe it or not, men's wear is growing at a faster than women's wear. It's already a $53 billion business and that's just in the United States alone.

So why the suddenly popularity boost? Alina will ask that question to men's wear mogul Tommy Hilfiger, Hilfiger.

CHO: Hilfiger.

ROMANS: That's right.

COSTELLO: I'm hopeless.

That's tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING. See you at the sale rack.

ROMANS: All right. We're giving you an inside look into fashion and design all week from Carl Lagerfeld to Rachel Zoe. It's CNN's Alina Cho is sitting down with the most influential designers, stylist, editors. It all culminates Miss Alina's big special on September 17 at 2:30 p.m. "Fashion Backstage Path". We won't miss it.

COSTELLO: Yes definitely so.

Coming up next, our "Talk Back" question of the morning, "Will Rick Perry's stance on Social Security hurt his campaign?" I have your responses ready to go.

Its 55 minutes past the hour.

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ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We are here in Tampa. There you see it, the CNN Express. We're at the Florida State Grounds where the Tea Party Republican debate is going to take place tonight. Eight candidates are going to be involved in this.

And the field is starting to gel. We're starting to see what's happening. Brand-new polling from CNN/ORC polling puts Rick Perry far in the lead when you look at those supporters who consider themselves Tea Party supporters. If you broaden it out to the broader Republican field, voters who identify with Republicans, or leaning Republican, well, his lead is not as great over Mitt Romney.

But tonight is going to be a night for Rick Perry to see if he can keep that lead. It's all eyes on Rick Perry. Mitt Romney trying to make himself the candidate; re-establish himself as a front-runner. Michele Bachmann trying to reignite her campaign; she is placing far behind the pack. And of course the other candidates trying to make a real impression on a broad swath of voters.

You can see it tonight, the TEA PARTY DEBATE, live from Tampa, Florida, the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Wolf Blitzer will moderate. On at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Back to New York with Carol and Christine.

COSTELLO: Ok. We didn't get back to your "Talk Back" questions but -- I'm really sorry -- but thank you. Continue the conversation; Facebook.com/Americanmorning.

ROMANS: All right. That's going to do it for us today. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips starts right now. Good morning Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Good morning you guys. Thanks so much.