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GOP Candidates Try to Impress Voters in Las Vegas Debate; CNN Hero Fulfills Promise to Help Those in Need

Aired October 20, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: It`s Thursday. I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News. You know how this goes. Ten minutes, no commercials, headlines from around the globe. We start today on the campaign trail.

Each Republican candidate is trying to convince voters that he or she should be the party`s presidential nominee.

On Tuesday, seven of them faced off during a debate in Las Vegas. You haven`t heard about debates among Democrats, because President Obama is expected to get his party`s nomination, and no other Democrats are running against him.


AZUZ (voice-over): But the Republican candidates, they want to stand out. They`re taking part in these debates and getting ready for primary season, which starts early next year. Nevada holds one of the nation`s first primaries, and it hosted this week`s debate.



AZUZ: Taxes, illegal immigration, the economy, health care, all of those came up. And things got tense between the candidates when they took aim at each other`s plans. Jim Acosta wraps up the event.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m speaking. I`m speaking. I`m speaking.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: . were you -- your newspaper -- the newspaper.

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds.

PERRY: Time for you to.

ROMNEY: This is the way the rules work here, is that I get 60 seconds.

PERRY: Well, no, but the American people.

ROMNEY: . and then you get -- and then you get 30 seconds to respond. Right?

PERRY: And they.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): It was a Wild West shootout on the Las Vegas Strip. And at time, it felt like Rick Perry`s last stand, with an urgent strategy to take down Mitt Romney.


PERRY: . because you hired illegals in your home, and you knew for it -- about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you`re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Romney wasn`t laughing for long.

PERRY: . working.

ROMNEY: Are you just going to keep talking?

This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Civil discourse was out the window. This was the first GOP debate to get personal.

ROMNEY: . we hired a lawn -- a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there.

You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become President of the United States, you got to let both people speak. So.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Unlike past debates, the night was also Romney`s first real test as a frontrunner, as the candidates took aim at his health care plan in Massachusetts. Rick Santorum pointed out some of Romney`s own advisers help draft President Obama`s health care law.

RICK SANTORUM (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: . you just don`t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing ObamaCare. You are -- you are -- your plan was the basis for ObamaCare. Your consultants helped Obama craft ObamaCare.

ACOSTA (voice-over): At issue, Newt Gingrich says, is the individual mandate in both RomneyCare and ObamaCare.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: . there`s a lot of big government behind RomneyCare. Not as much as ObamaCare, but a heck of a lot more than your campaign is admitting.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Romney responded he got the idea from Gingrich.

ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you. You did support an individual mandate.

GINGRICH: Yes, sir.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Rising Republican star, Herman Cain, also found himself on the defensive over his 9-9-9 plan. Independent studies have found the plan`s individual, business and national sales taxes, all set at 9 percent, would raise taxes on millions of Americans.

PERRY: Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don`t have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. It`s not going to fly.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Romney pointed out a new national sales tax would be combined with existing state sales taxes.

ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax, and in addition pay the 9 percent tax?

CAIN: Governor Romney, you`re doing the same thing that they`re doing. You`re mixing apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: I`m going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I`ve got to pay both taxes.

ACOSTA (voice-over): For Perry, it was night to take a campaign full of lemons and make lemonade, giving Republicans a bitter taste of a more combative campaign to come.

PERRY: And you get to ask the questions, and I get to answer like I want to. But.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this legit? When a government takes austerity measures, it`s looking for ways to increase spending.

Not legit. Austerity measures are used to reduce how much money a government spends.


AZUZ: The government of Greece has taken austerity measures. It`s considering taking more. And many of the country`s citizens are angry about it. Over the past months, there have been protests and strikes, and the latest one is going on right now.


AZUZ (voice-over): Protesters hope a two-day strike will shut down parts of the country. Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Athens yesterday. It all started out peacefully, but some of the protesters ended up fighting with police. More than a dozen people were hurt.

And the problem is, Greece has a huge debt. Other countries and organizations have offered to help by giving bailouts. But in order for Greece to get the money, it has to show it`s trying to reduce its debt, and that means austerity measures, like cutting jobs and salaries.


AZUZ: Moving across the Atlantic Ocean to Central America, heavy rains and floods are taking a tool on five countries in the region. More than 90 people have been killed so far.


AZUZ (voice-over): El Salvador was hit the hardest. Around 35,000 people have had to leave their homes because of this flooding. Over the last week or so, parts of the country have gotten up to 55 inches of rain. That is three times more than the average amount that El Salvador usually sees in October.

Guatemala is also getting hammered by this severe weather. About 7,000 people in that country have been sent to shelters. Certain kinds of illnesses, especially ones that involve trouble breathing, are starting to spread at those shelters.


AZUZ: There are folks out there making headlines by helping others. They`re CNN Heroes. And this year`s top 10 will be honored during a special program later on this year.

Today, you`re going to meet Sal Dimiceli. He got his first job when he was 12 years old to help out his family, and he promised that if he ever became successful, he would help other people in need.


SAL DIMICELI, CNN HERO: When I go through suburbia America, or the small towns, everybody`s trying to hold their head up with pride.

You`ve been looking for work?


DIMICELI: OK. I know it`s tough in a recession.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went and sold all my jewelry yesterday.

DIMICELI: These people behind closed doors, they tell their neighbors they`re fine. They`d soon go in the house and starve.

How much you owe Lee (ph) right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gas bill? I owe about $800.

DIMICELI: I find this situation is getting worse. They need food. They need help with their utilities. And this is 2011 in America? We should be helping each other.

I`m Sal Dimiceli, and my mission is to help my fellow Americans who have fallen on hard times.

In a week, I`ll receive 20 to 30 letters.

"Me and my family are in desperate need of help and do not want to become homeless."

I want to verify it`s genuine, and I want to get to them as quickly as possible because I know right now it`s tough for everybody. But we`ll be here for you. We`ll help you out.

I tell them how I grew up in poverty and how I understand.

Here`s $100 for gas.

I help people with necessities of daily life, and at the same time, I get them together to do a budget, so they can continue to survive.

I brought this for you, so you can go get your wedding band back.


DIMICELI: I want them to feel free of that pain.



DIMICELI: I want them to feel the compassion that we`re trying to share with them, to wrap our arms around them and say, come on, I have a little extra strength I want to share with you, and let`s get you back on your feet.


AZUZ: If you found Sal`s story really meaningful, you might want to vote for him as the CNN Hero of the Year. Here`s where you can do that: You scroll down the page until you see the Heroes bin right here on the left side of your screen.

Teachers, also, this is where you can find our free CNN Heroes curriculum guide.

One more thing while we`re talking online, students, we`re looking for your pumpkin carving iReports. Again, you see our website. This is where you can send us your iReport. The only thing is, you have to be at least 13 years old. Go ahead, take a picture of your creative pumpkin carving and show us what you came up with as Halloween approaches.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Mr. Berry and Mr. Pierangeli`s U.S. history class at Schalick High School in Pittsgrove, New Jersey.

Which of these shots was once illegal in college basketball? Was it the layup, slam dunk, three-point shot or free throw? Three seconds on the clock, go.

From 1967 to 1976, it was against the rules to dunk in college basketball. That`s your answer and that`s a slam dunk Shoutout.


AZUZ: Well, thankfully, officials reversed that decision, so we have today`s "Before We Go" segment.


AZUZ (voice-over): This a YouTube video of a slam dunk contest in New York. And this guy just dunked on him mom. That is one confident player, one trusting mom, and it better get some 10s from the judges.

The mom agreed to take part, although she couldn`t watch what was happening. Everyone`s always trying to improve his game, take it to the next level.


AZUZ: But what you just witnessed was a generational leap, plus to get his mom to take part, he probably had to jump through a few hoops.

That`s all for CNN Student News today. I got a little one-on-one business I need to take care of.