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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Gingrich Picks Up Key Endorsement; Crunch Time for Holiday Travelers; Theology of Twitter

Aired November 27, 2011 - 08:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning to you all on this November 27th.

This is a big travel day for you all -- or a lot of you at least.

It is 8:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in Chicago, 5:00 a.m. in L.A. -- wherever you may be, we are glad are you right here.

We do have a business travel day. We'll talk about that plenty. And a big storm system is actually going to cause problems for you.

But it's also a big morning in politics. Listen to this. Word we are just getting that could further boost Newt Gingrich's still surging campaign.

The influential New Hampshire "Union Leader" newspaper has now endorsed the former speaker. They have thrown their support behind him now for the Republican nomination for president. They have put out their endorsement in today's paper.

Let me read you a bit from it. And it says, and I quote, "Republican voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. That candidate is Newt Gingrich." New Hampshire, as you know, holds the first in the nation primary. That's happening a week after the Iowa caucus.

So, Gingrich who has seen his campaign surge over the past several weeks actually is now picking up an influential endorsement. He has moved up in the polls in New Hampshire as we know, going up to the double digits.

But, still, it has been Mitt Romney who has been surging and had at least 40 percent in a number of the polls. So, he's way ahead in polls but now, Gingrich who has become a front-runner could now really start to surge after this influential endorsement.

Our Rachel Streitfeld covers all things New Hampshire for us. She is on the line now.

Rachel, I'm trying to give our viewers the best perspective as possible -- these newspaper endorsements come and go. This one carries some weight. RACHEL STREITFELD, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER (via telephone): Sure, you are right, T.J. This is the biggest newspaper in New Hampshire. It is closely watched both locally and on a national scale obviously.

The paper says Newt Gingrich is not the perfect candidate, but as you said, they said that he is the best candidate to get the job done. And this certainly helps Newt Gingrich solidify some support that we've started to see as an alternative to Mitt Romney.

The endorsement is also interesting because Mitt Romney has been a long-time front runner in this state. He was governor of Massachusetts which was nearby, he has a summer home in New Hampshire. So it's also notable to look to who this endorsement does not go to.

HOLMES: And, Rachel, in their endorsement, it seems they are admitting -- of course, we know this is not a perfect candidate and we shouldn't be looking for a perfect candidate. What do you make out of some of what they're saying that it almost in some ways sounds like we know we don't have maybe the greatest crop or the perfect candidate that we might all like, but Gingrich is the way to go?

STREITFELD: Well, you know, the editorial also takes aim at the media and says that this race has been focused on a lot of bluff and silliness and minor miscues by candidates. But they say Newt Gingrich has the best chance based on both his for a thinking strategy is what they call it, and then the leadership that he showed in Washington in the past -- which is something we've heard Gingrich talk about when he makes trips here, that he knows Washington. He's the best person to come in and, you know, get to work quickly and change it up.

HOLMES: And the historical perspective, we're starting to get some. But even though this can be influential and can help a campaign surge, they don't necessarily always pick the person who eventually goes on to become president. So some historical perspective, if you can, here. Last time around, you said they skipped over Romney, so they pick McCain last time. We know how that worked out, but still it helped McCain's campaign.

So, again, just historically how big of a deal has this endorsement been for a lot of these candidates?

STREITFELD: You're right about what you're saying. This is known as a very conservative editorial page and so sometimes they choose people, you know, based on ideology and electability is not their only number one perspective. So they chose Steve Forbes and he placed third in the primary here.

So, you are right to look in the past. They did choose John McCain and he went on to win New Hampshire four years ago. But they're saying that -- yes, I mean, conservative ideals are an important thing for this paper -- this editorial page. You are right.

HOLMES: All right. Rachel Streitfeld, we appreciate you hopping on the line for us. But an important morning once again for Newt Gingrich who has been surging in the polls as we have seen over the past few weeks. He did have that slip-up last week -- or a lot of people called a slip-up in the CNN debate in which he talk about what some of his fellow Republicans candidates say he was soft on illegal immigrants and even advocated for amnesty. He says, of course, that's not what he was advocating for. Just advocating for treating people humanely who have been in this country a long time and have roots in this country.

But still a lot of people looking at that as maybe a way he would possibly slip up. But now, this endorsement, which is a key endorsement that does carry weight locally there in New Hampshire and it will carry weight nationally as well, "The New Hampshire Union Leader," the largest paper in New Hampshire -- of course, the state with the first primary of this Republican nominating season -- has now endorsed Newt Gingrich for president. We will be talking about this more throughout the morning -- again endorsing Gingrich for the Republican nomination.

We're five minutes past the hour now.

And again, this is a big travel day. We'll get back to that now.

You got to grandma's house. Now, you need to get back home -- tomorrow and today, considered two of the busiest travel days of the year. But just in time for this travel, a big storm in the eastern half of the country. It is and that could complicate -- it will complicate things for a lot of folks.

George Howell is at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

It's probably starting to get a little busier. You can probably notice that. It will get busier. But so far, so good? Is that the word still?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., each hour we want to give you a snapshot, a look at what's happening here at the world's busiest airport. And so far, as you mentioned, so good. People getting through the airport with no major problems, though some weather moving through the area shortly and that could change the situation here.

However, we want to give you some perspective here. I covered this story Wednesday. At this hour today, things are busier now than they were at the same time Wednesday. So we're seeing more people out here.

And also want to give you a look at what passengers are facing inside. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: First, I want to look at big boards here where you can see that the flights are on time, no major delays to speak of here at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. But take a look at the lines here. The crowds and lines are building here just outside the Delta check-in area. Though we did speak to some people here who say the way to get ahead of these crowds is to check in early. Scott and Maryann Lyle (ph) right here.

So, tell me, you guys are flying to Baltimore, you say. How has it been so far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been just great. I had no problems. Of course, we plan ahead, check in early, take the trains to the airport -- do everything we need to do to ensure that there are no hiccups. So it's been great.

HOWELL: When you see what's around you right now though, are you surprised on a day like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, actually I am. I was expecting the airport to be more crowded. So, this is a pleasant surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been here and it's taken a few hours, OK? So it's been quick at times and other times have been slow. So, hopefully, we can get through this quickly. We're hoping that it is going to be quick and easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see people moving quickly now. So --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we're excited about getting home and getting out of here.

HOWELL: Thank you. Thanks for taking a minute with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

HOWELL: And you can see right now for yourself, these security lines definitely growing in the last hour. But people are moving through quite quickly here at the world's busiest airport. No major delays that we can speak of at this hour. But certainly weather moving into the Atlanta area and that situation could change for people who come a little later through the day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Also, to give awful look at what's happening, we took a check at the FAA Web site and didn't find any delays to speak of. Also on Twitter, looking for grumblings of delays -- no grumblings.

But by our own Bonnie Schneider tweeting with a hashtag, airport delays possible in the South and Midwest, hashtag, have patience.

So that's a look at what's happening right now. Clearly, weather could change the situation for many travelers today.

HOLMES: All right. George, thank you.

And let me turn to Ms. Hashtag herself right now, Bonnie Schneider is in studio.

I don't know. A lot of people are following and keeping up with meteorologists right now because you all are giving them info.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just want to keep everybody calm after the crazy Black Friday.

HOLMES: Everybody calm? Should they be calm now?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think so. You know, as George has been reporting, the traffic is building. But so far, we don't have delays according to the FAA. However, it's still very early in the morning across the country.

We are likely to see delays due to whether this afternoon in cities like Atlanta, even though the volume is increasing, the clouds will lower and that will lower visibility. We're anticipating that for today.

Detroit is already windy and wet out there. So, look for delays to possibly pop up. Chicago, also another trouble spot for today. Incidentally if you are headed to Chicago, if you've been maybe in a warmer destination, the temperatures are really plummeting and have gotten much colder there and it will be even colder there tomorrow.

Cincinnati, Memphis, St. Louis and Little Rock -- and here's something even more interesting I think. Snow showers are in the forecast possibly for Memphis and Little Rock. It is a possibility we may not see it but it is something we are monitoring for tonight on into Monday night and Tuesday.

Here's a look at this weather mess. You can see some wintry conditions building in to parts of Arkansas and Missouri. We've been monitoring this very carefully.

Here's the reason why. The temperatures are falling. Behind the cold front, it's 44 degrees in Memphis as that cold air starts to surge in.

But here in Atlanta, it's already 61. So, we're really seeing a change over as we go through. And the reason why, of course, is not only the cold front but low pressure building in the Ohio Valley will pull down that colder air and as that cold air wraps around, you see all this white for Tuesday morning. Notice how far south it goes, just north of Atlanta. So the mountains of north Georgia may see some snow showers mixing in early Tuesday morning, late on Monday.

I think you will see the snowflakes falling likely towards Tennessee but in terms of shoveling out, I don't think this will be a problem. A lot of this will just possibly stick towards grassy areas.

Highs today will be nice and warm ahead of the front, in Florida in the 80s. Very mild, incredibly warm as well into cities like Boston, 63 degrees. You know, it's really an incredibly warm month of November so far. Another day like that for today and another one yet for tomorrow for New York and Boston.

The rain though is on the way and, of course, that is impacting so many places for those of you that are driving. Another important note to make, as we've been talking about airport delays: Most people travel by car for today. Keep your eyes to the conditions on the roads because in cities like St. Louis and in Memphis you may see that change over at times. It may start off as rain and it may change over to something like freezing rain or sleet. So, just give yourself extra time to get where you are going.

I did that hashtag on Twitter: have patience. I think that holds true for drivers as well.

HOLMES: All right. Bonnie Schneider, thank you so much for the forecast and for tweeting things out as well.

We're 11 minutes past the hour.

Weather is not going to get in the way, though, for millions of Americans who plan to do their shopping online tomorrow. You know this phenomenon that's come up in the past five years or so, Cyber Monday. It kicks off the online holiday shopping season. Some analysts are predicting $1.2 billion in sales just on Monday.

But where are you supposed to be going to find that best deal?

Listen to Katie Linendoll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE LINDENDOLL, TECH EXPERT: I think there is a lot of opportunities out there. Just to give you some of the sites I am keeping my eye on, first off, cybermonday.com. It's a great site to aggregate a number of the ads, a number of the deals. It's a subsidiary of shop.org, a really great site to look at, to make sure that you are staying in touch with everything that's going to be on sale.

Also if you are really into a big brand, what I recommend doing is going on to their Facebook page and hitting that "like" button because now more than ever, online retailers are using social media sites to make sure they are rewarding their loyal fans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: All right. Twelve minutes past the hour now.

You heard the story, another developing story this weekend: three U.S. students jailed in Egypt. They are now finally out of jail and finally home. We'll show you the arrival and you will hear from one of them that I talk to.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Now, a quarter past the hour on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

And those three American students arrested in Egypt are now all back home in the U.S. The last of them arrived just a few hours ago. All three of those arrivals, oh, yes, looked about like that. They had family members greeting them. The students were accused, as you know, of throwing Molotov cocktails during anti-government protests in Tahrir Square.

Here's how a couple of them described their feelings now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

LUKE GATES, STUDENT ARRESTED IN EGYPT: It's really nice. It's really a good feeling. I'm glad to be with my family. I want to go home and have Thanksgiving.

GREG PORTER, STUDENT ARRESTED IN EGYPT: I'm just so thankful to be back and would love to be in Philadelphia right now.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HOLMES: Now, the last to get home was Derrik Sweeney.

Look at this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

HOLMES: It's mom, family there, giving him a hug when he got there.

But I got a chance to talk to the young man and his mom. They've had time to take this all in and they have some new perspective on what he just went through. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Were you at all actively involved in the protest throwing any type of projectile, whether it was a rock or a Molotov cocktail?

DERRIK SWEENEY, STUDENT ARRESTED IN EGYPT: No, not at all. That was entirely fabricated. We didn't throw rocks or Molotov cocktails or do anything to harm anyone or anything.

HOLMES: Now why were you arrested then? Who came up to you, how did the arrest go down?

D. SWEENEY: Well, actually the police had just -- we were right near a large crowd -- apparently, near the interior minister and the police had just shot something into the crowd and we all sprinted away.

As we were trying to re-gather ourselves, we found the three of us Americans found each other and then someone came in plain clothes saying that they would take us to a safe place and help us out. Next thing we know, we were getting hit.

HOLMES: A safe place and you said getting hit. Who was hitting you?

D. SWEENEY: Well, these plainclothes people. The first night, we got hit in the face and the back of the neck a number of times.

HOLMES: Again, who was hitting -- were these police officers? Military? You said plainclothes.

D. SWEENEY: I heard -- I believe police. They were certainly working with police. They were able to walk around the place where the protesters weren't. Either police or a (INAUDIBLE) -- like a neighborhood council sort of vigilante working with the police.

HOLMES: And remind us, where were you held and how long were you held?

D. SWEENEY: Well, initially, we were in one building. I personally believe it was near the -- it was in the ministry of the interior, though we haven't gotten any confirmation about the first building. After that, we went to one police station and then another. We went to the attorney general and so several police stations.

HOLMES: What was your reaction when they pulled this stuff out and said you all were in possession of this stuff and you were out there throwing Molotov cocktails?

D. SWEENEY: That moment right there when they brought it out and there were cops and people with guns standing before us was the scariest moment of my life. I didn't know if I was going to survive and I actually fainted. The only time I recall fainting in my life.

HOLMES: And, Joy, let me bring you back in. Yes. You're happy, you're excited. You put your arms around him, hug him, happy to have your son.

But as a mother, does something kick in as well? And you say -- at some point have you ever said to him, "What in the world were you doing?"

J. SWEENEY, DERRIK'S MOTHER: Have I said that to him yet? No.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: You want to say it no?

J. SWEENEY: I think he knows -- you know what? That's one of the things about this child of mine, he is so bright and he knows darn good and well that that is the biggest question on everyone's mind, what in the world were you doing? And like he said, you know, he wanted to go see politics in action. He wanted to go see democracy being demonstrated.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And Derrik says he is not going to be going back to Egypt any time soon.

We're at 20 minutes past the hour.

And as many as half a million Christians waiting in the bitter cold, what in the world are they waiting for? A chance to see or touch a holy relic. We'll take you there in this morning's "passport." That's next.

You stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Twenty-three minutes past the hour now.

And Occupy L.A. protesters have until midnight tonight to leave camp.

Also a psychic helping in the search for a missing baby.

And a jobless man gets busy with chainsaws.

Let's go cross-country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Cops close in on Occupy L.A., breaking down tents. The crowds face a deadline of midnight tonight to get out. The mayor says he supports their message of economic justice but says the camp has to be shut down for health and safety reasons.

A new search for baby Lisa is under way in Missouri. This time, the leads come from a psychic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She dreamed that there was a well and some metal back in here. We found the metal back here and, of course, our well.

HOLMES: The volunteers call police after finding the well.

A man in Washington state turns to wood carving after getting laid off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a good job.

HOLMES: His works now so good he's back on his feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel like this miracle just happened.

HOLMES: And now the official international "Chainsaw King".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

Let's say good morning once again to Nadia Bilchik with our morning passport.

Why are half a million people waiting out in the cold?

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: They are waiting to see the belt, which is one of the sacred relics, the belt of the Virgin Mother. And this is at the Christ the Savior Cathedral and literally as you said, hundreds and thousands of people, up to half a million, have lined up between Thursday and today just to catch a glimpse of this holy relic.

Now, it's interesting because you see that there they are and it is sub-zero temperatures. They're taking a look.

Now what you are seeing is them touching it but because there were so many crowds they've eventually elevated the silver box so people can just catch a glimpse of it.

But the belt is usually housed in the Vatopedi monastery in Mount Athos, in Greece. And it hasn't left Mount Athos in Greece for 200 years.

So, this is the first time it's come to Russia and it was several cities in Russia that came to Moscow on Thursday. And between Thursday and Sunday, they say up to half a million people have lined up.

HOLMES: Why? If it hasn't left for 200 years, why is it on tour now?

BILCHIK: Well, that's interesting. It's on tour now, some say that it is showing really good relations between the Greeks and the Russians. And there's also another theory, that there is a huge decline in population in Russia and the belt is supposed to bring fertility. So, the belt is supposed to heal had all ails, it's the belt of fertility.

So, people who are lining up to see this relic, one gentleman said there's a reason they are there. They are either ill -- so a lot of elderly, about 87 people were taken to hospital -- and many people would like to get pregnant. There were some pregnant women.

But the idea is this belt is so holy by just looking at it, our touching it, your ails will be cured.

HOLMES: Is it going on tour anywhere else, or this is just Russia?

BILCHIK: It seems that after Moscow, it will go back to Greece. But what's also ironic is the monastery in Greece is a male-only monastery and women can never see it. Also ironic, just a couple of meters from this cathedral, the Christ the Savior Cathedral is another piece of the same belt that's housed there permanently, and yet this has caused such a huge influx of people to visit.

But this cathedral in the 1930s was destroyed by the Soviet government so the fact that it has been rebuilt also shows the increased popularity in Russian orthodoxy.

HOLMES: That is very interesting. And again, today is the last day for it.

BILCHIK: Today is that last day at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, a revival of Russian orthodoxy, and the sacred relic that many believe will bring fertility and increased population in Russia, declining population rate. So --

HOLMES: We shall se over the next couple of years.

Nadia Bilchik, thank you so much. Another "Morning Passport."

We're at 27 minutes past the hour. We're going to turn to our "Faces of Faith" segment in just a moment. And today, we are talking about tweeting -- during the sermon. However, you do have your pastor's blessing.

Stay with us for that. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, we're at the bottom of the hour on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Welcome back to you all.

Let me give you a look at some of the stories making headlines. After a week of violent clashes, Egypt heading to the polls; those elections begin there on Monday. A live look now at Cairo's Tahrir Square, things had settled down a bit but some of our correspondents still telling us they do have pockets of violence here and there. The death toll from the violence this past week has now reached 42, at least 33 of those in Cairo. More than 3,200 people also wounded.

Also one of the three American students arrested in Egypt says they were hit repeatedly just after their arrest. All three are back in the U.S. now. They were accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during those anti-government protests in Tahrir Square.

Also the man convicted of assassinating Senator Robert Kennedy wants a new trial. Attorneys for Sirhan Sirhan have filed court papers saying, he should be freed from prison or granted a new trial based on evidence of his innocence. The papers say he was a victim of mind control to act as a diversion for the real killer.

Well, we're just past the bottom of the hour now. We need to turn back to politics. And Newt Gingrich has picked up a pretty big endorsement for this primary season. It was just a short time ago that the influential "New Hampshire Union Leader" newspaper threw their support behind the former House Speaker for the Republican nomination for president.

There you are seeing the front of the paper there, "The Union Leader" isn't afraid to buck the trend here. Take a look at some of the past -- the usual front runners in 2008; they took a chance on John McCain, also took a chance on Ronald Reagan in 1980.

But how big of a deal is this really? Patricia Murphy is back with me.

PATRICIA MURPHY, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Back.

HOLMES: We called her and turned that car around to get her back when we got this news. You know, some perspective here. "Union Leader," influential, don't have the best track record of picking winners necessarily though.

MURPHY: Don't have the best track record in addition to picking Reagan and John McCain, they also picked Steve Forbes.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Yes.

MURPHY: Who obviously did not go all the way, Pat Buchanan did not go all the way. It gets you a lot of attention. It doesn't get you across the finish line. But the timing here is crucial for Newt Gingrich. Last hour we were saying this whole next news cycle this week is going to be about conservative's reaction Newt Gingrich and his immigration policies and a lot of his other policies that conservatives don't like very much.

This is the beginning of the conservative establishment basically saying we know we don't agree with you on everything but we're with you. So it's a big deal for Newt Gingrich.

HOLMES: A big deal for him. Is it also a big deal for Mitt Romney?

MURPHY: Yes. Because if you read this endorsement and everybody should, it is fascinating.

HOLMES: Yes.

MURPHY: This is as much about Newt Gingrich as it is about Mitt Romney and when you read through it they specifically say we are looking for a conservative of courage and convictions. Newt Gingrich is that person. And then they go on to say we would rather endorse somebody we don't always agree with than endorse somebody who tells us what they think we want to hear.

That is talking about Mitt Romney. That's saying you have changed positions too much on us. We don't know who you are. We at least know who Newt Gingrich is. So it is as much for Newt Gingrich as it is very specifically against Mitt Romney.

HOLMES: Ok even though it might not propel him to the nomination, can it at least propel him in the state of New Hampshire?

MURPHY: It can help him in the state of New Hampshire. And he needs a lot of help.

HOLMES: Yes.

MURPHY: Mitt Romney is dominating there right now, he's more than 30 points ahead of Newt Gingrich in the polls there. So Newt Gingrich needs a lot of help. It's -- right now it's Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is actually tied with Ron Paul at just 14 percent so he needs a lot of help. It helps him in that state. It also is going to help him in some other states, in Iowa where conservatives are looking for some direction. Who can we get behind? Who is a real conservative? It's going to help him pretty much nationwide and it's going to help him this week in particular when he wants to continue his momentum.

HOLMES: Ok, and again a slap in the face maybe to Mitt Romney but this can this now become a story line and finally begin to bring down Romney's national poll numbers because the news cycle shows wait, there is a secret meeting in Iowa, they're trying to find anybody but Romney.

Now, here he is leading in the polls in New Hampshire, putting all of his energy and money up there and now the biggest paper's endorsing this other guy. Can this become now the theme of the campaign everybody's looking for somebody else?

MURPHY: This has been the theme of the campaign for the last year. We've seen Republicans trying to get anybody to run against Mitt Romney. Chris Christie. Rick Perry. That's what this has all been about, who's going to run against Mitt Romney.

So this continues that theme although it really narrows the field. And too, it's been Mitt Romney plus who is going to run against him. And this is Mitt Romney and now it looks like Newt Gingrich has the best chance at the moment -- you know things change a lot but this gives Newt Gingrich a lot of momentum that he needs right now to become that Romney conservative alternative.

HOLMES: You talk about timing. Can this be perfect timing for Gingrich in that here we are talking Gingrich and we are not talking about immigration and people thinking he is for amnesty? Does this knock that issue off the table for now?

MURPHY: It doesn't an entirely knock it off. Every voter's going to make his decision and not one vote has been cast. But what it does is it says we are looking for a real conservative and we don't have to agree with him on everything.

And so this is the conservative establishment saying Newt Gingrich, we're aware that we don't agree with you but we like you and we back you and that is crucial.

HOLMES: It was also interesting that they will all -- they're -- that the "Union Leader" seemed to be saying, all right, we'll go -- it almost is that how it reads, it's like all right, we'll go with Gingrich. And it -- they also mentioned some of his personal baggage in the past.

MURPHY: Yes.

HOLMES: They acknowledged everything. And this is all we got. It was very interesting reading.

MURPHY: They literally said there is no perfect candidate and guess what? Newt Gingrich is far from perfect. Not a great endorsement.

HOLMES: Yes.

MURPHY: But it is an endorsement nonetheless and Gingrich needed it this week. So listen, he is -- he'll take it any way he gets it.

HOLMES: One other thing here before I let you go. We talk about so many newspapers and all these candidates sit in front of these editorial boards, with all these papers all around the country. And maybe our viewers are not that familiar with "The Union Leader."

MURPHY: Yes.

HOLMES: But give them some perspective on the influence. Now, they haven't picked the winner but still the influence and why so many people paying attention to this endorsement versus other newspapers.

MURPHY: Yes, this is New Hampshire's largest newspaper; its New Hampshire's only state-wide newspaper. New Hampshire is the crucial first in the nation primary. We have Iowa first caucuses, very conservative. New Hampshire much more moderate, so they are putting their choice behind Newt Gingrich here. It's a really big deal. It's not going to determine who is the eventual winner but it's a gigantic deal. Everybody, this is going to be the talk of the town in Washington for the next week or so.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: All right.

MURPHY: It's a big deal.

HOLMES: Patricia Murphy, we thank you so much. She was with us at 6:00, was home under a blanket and we called her and said, hey, we got some news and she turned around and came here.

MURPHY: This will get you out of bed on a Sunday. Right?

HOLMES: On a Sunday morning. All right, Patricia, always good to have you. Thank you so much.

MURPHY: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: And now we need to remind our viewers here something else for you -- Newt Gingrich is going to be talking to our John King tomorrow. That's going to be live from South Carolina. It's on "JOHN KING USA" at 6:00 Eastern Time. You'll want to see that.

Also, we continue with some politics. Listen to this now. Herman Cain he is one of the big political names that will be live on CNN in just a little bit. Candy Crowley's got "STATE OF THE UNION" and a preview coming next. She's standing by to talk to me. I'm sure we'll talk a little a Gingrich in a second. So stand by for that.

Also, Dr. Sanjay Gupta he's got a new show on CNN it's called "THE NEXT LIST." He profiles exceptional individuals and today he's talking to a molecular gastronomer obsessed with experiment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We serve an edible menu here. We have also since day one. And that's because serving edible menus makes a lot of sense. Every month about 20 tons of paper are wasted in restaurant menus alone and so by that rationale if you just ate your menu and it was made from organic local products you could eliminate that paper waste. It looks like a sushi roll, it tastes like a sushi roll but it's your menu.

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HOLMES: So you can tune today and every Sunday to watch our Dr. Sanjay Gupta on "THE NEXT LIST". That's at 2:00 Eastern Time.

Candy Crowley is up next stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Now 41 minutes past the hour.

And let us say good morning to Candy Crowley, host of "STATE OF THE UNION". It's coming your way at the top of the hour in just about 18 minutes from now. Candy, good morning to you. And Newt Gingrich just can't stay out of the news these days, can he?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": It's true. But this is -- I mean, this is the way that candidates would like to be in the news --

HOLMES: Yes.

CROWLEY: -- which is in a positive way for him with that endorsement from the "Union Leader" in New Hampshire. It's -- it's pretty big. It's not definitive, as we all know.

HOLMES: Ok.

CROWLEY: I think in 40 years they have correctly picked the Republican nominee twice. So it's not as though it sort of changes things but it gets a lot of attention because it's a big paper in the state and people will be talking about it. And that's always good. That positive news is really good for Gingrich who as you know has been talking about immigration for the past three or four days. So this is something else in his corner and it's a very high-flying campaign at this point.

HOLMES: Yes and can this be bad news? I was just talking to our Patricia Murphy about this. This could be great news for him. At the same time it's kind of a slap at Mitt Romney who has put so much energy up there and this could turn out to be bad news for him.

CROWLEY: Well, sure, except for that -- remember that in New Hampshire, Independents can vote in either party's primary. So it's a more moderate state than Iowa is, for instance. And Mitt Romney's strength at this point is that he is seen as the more -- strength in New Hampshire at any rate is number one, he's from next door, Massachusetts, where he was governor there so they know him so he has great name recognition.

But number two, his -- his viewpoint is a little more in line with moderates who do come to vote in these primaries. So I don't think anybody expected that Newt Gingrich would probably get the endorsement of this newspaper.

HOLMES: So anything -- does it just hurt Mitt Romney's feelings at all? I mean, the guy -- the guy can't catch a break it seems. At times you got people in Iowa having secret meetings trying to find anybody but him and yet we know this issue with the conservatives. But it is like he's been screaming for years, hey, pick me, and nobody will just coalesce around him.

CROWLEY: Well, let see how this plays out. We haven't had a single vote yet.

Certainly Mitt Romney, you know, I mean, do you remember in 2004 when the Democrats were looking for someone and the whole rage was -- was Howard Dean and Howard Dean was going to plow right through.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Yes.

CROWLEY: And it was this and that and the other thing. And then he placed third in New Hampshire.

HOLMES: Yes.

CROWLEY: So the fact of the matter is that this is -- you know this is still open. Mitt -- Mitt Romney has been the most consistent in the sense that, yes, sometimes he's second, but he's always been second to somebody who fades.

HOLMES: Yes.

CROWLEY: So let's see what Gingrich does here and you know because -- because you don't know. Because Newt Gingrich does have -- does come with some baggage. It will be looked at, the old and the new. So he has to kind of be put through the mill as well and let's see if he has staying power.

HOLMES: And quickly for me, I know you've got Herman Cain coming up. Who else on "STATE OF THE UNION" today?

CROWLEY: We do. We're also going to take a look at some of those political ads you're now beginning to see, kind of, you know, walking through what should look for. We have some political and advertising execs.

We're also going to talk to, by the way, the editor of the editorial page of the New Hampshire paper that endorsed Gingrich, try to kind of get an insight into how that is and we'll have a political panel to make sense of all of it.

HOLMES: All right. Candy Crowley, always good to see you --

CROWLEY: Thank.

HOLMES: And to our viewers, you can see more of her in just about 14 1/2 minutes. "STATE OF THE UNION" starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time, 6:00 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.

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HOLMES: Well about 12 minutes of the top of the hour now. We were telling you just a moment ago the big news this morning that Newt Gingrich has gotten a big endorsement, a big boost to his campaign today picking up the endorsement from the "New Hampshire Union Leader".

Drew Cline is the editorial page editor for "The Union Leader". He joins me on the line now. Sir, first question an easy one -- why Newt Gingrich?

DREW CLINE, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER" (via telephone): Yes, that's an easy one. He's the best candidate in the race.

HOLMES: Now what makes him the best in you all's estimation?

CLINE: Well, a lot of things. I mean, I think you can just sort of go, (INAUDIBLE) you go, ok, they're all Republican candidates. All of them, if you look at their tax policies, they're all pro-growth on taxes; they're all good on ending Obama care; they're saying that they want to control costs, control spending in the federal government.

But Newt Gingrich has I think more than any of the other ones a realistic shot at actually doing those things. When you look at his experience back in the 1990s, when you look at the agenda that he's putting forward now, he's the only one who really grasps actually how to do all of these things that the candidates say they want to do.

(CROSSTALK)

Cline: It felt like he had the best shot of actually getting federal spending under control, you know; actually making a real charge to take Obama care out; coming up with tax policies that make sense, foreign policy that makes sense.

HOLMES: Drew, you said you all picked who you all believe is the best candidate but did you pick the person and was this a part of your criteria -- picking the person you think is the most electable? You all as we have been talking about, the track record of picking winners with your endorsements so was that part of the equation at all or did you just pick the best guy no matter you think he can win or not?

CLINE: Of course electability goes into the equation. I done think you always had at "The Union Leader" in the past but we certainly factored in that fact. You don't want to pick somebody who's pure but has no chance at all of getting the nomination. We go by more or less what you might call the Buckley rule, which is after Bill Buckley, "National Review" founder. You pick the candidate who's the most conservative candidate who can actually win.

HOLMES: Did you -- I don't know how you all grade them necessarily but did you have much of a debate? Was he clearly the endorsement of the person you were going to pick and who might have come in second?

We gave every candidate serious consideration in that we weighed them all seriously, examined them all closely. I think our two favorites were probably Perry and Gingrich and we ended up going with Gingrich.

A lot of people will view this as another knock or slap in the face to some or at least unfortunate for Mitt Romney. You said your top two were Gingrich and Perry. Where did Mitt Romney come in, in your equation?

CLINE: Well, we actually gave Romney very serious consideration. We did not rule him out, out of hand. We like to give everybody a fresh start. We gave him a good interview which we aired on C-Span and we ended up going with Gingrich.

Romney -- let's boil it down to its most basic. Right? Romney's a guy who wants to be liked. He's a politician who wants to be like. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected, who wants to actually accomplish -- he has an agenda that he wants to set in place. I'm really not sure precisely what we'd get out of a President Romney who might very well be a good president, but we don't really know. So given the choice between the candidate, who wants to be liked and the candidate who wants to be respected, we would rather have the guy who wants to be respected.

HOLMES: You also mentioned in your editorial -- at least alluded to -- some of Newt Gingrich's personal past and stuff that he has admitted and the wrong he has done. As you said, trying to make right with God on it. How much did that factor in to your equation as you were trying to figure out who is the best candidate, most electable? You seem to acknowledge that he's got some personal failings that might be a challenge.

Cline: It was a consideration. Of course we weighed all the factors, the positives and the negatives and we still ended up going with Gingrich because we did feel like he was going to be the best person for the job.

And, you know, if you look at what the American electorate goes for, it has gone for in the last few decades, we don't see a lot of evidence that these sorts of personal issues really turn voters off. They don't seem to send them away. So I don't think that's going to be a big electability issue for Gingrich.

HOLMES: All right. Drew Cline, editorial page editor for "The New Hampshire Union Leader", we appreciate you hopping on the line. Thanks so much. I know you're probably going to have busy morning. You've got a lot of attention, the paper endorsing Newt Gingrich for president.

We're 54 minutes past the hour. Churchgoers tweeting? Aren't you supposed to be paying attention to the service? It's all right. The pastor wants you to tweet.

Stay with me for that.

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HOLMES: All right. Take a look at this; people sitting up in church tweeting. On their Blackberrys, iPads, typing away during the sermon but this is actually what the pastor wants them to do. That is this morning's "Faces of Faith".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I ever lose the joy in my tone and if I ever forget how God healed me the last time --

HOLMES: Twitter, Facebook, live streaming. What do they have to do with Sunday worship? One Atlanta congregation is using these trendy tools to do church differently.

ANDRE BARNES, DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY, IMPACT CHURCH: It's all about the three Cs: convenience, conversation and connecting. It is all about asking question, getting people to actually engage online and also offline. They can talk about the experience with their family, with their cousins, with their co-workers.

HOLMES: From Impact Church's very beginning five years ago, the founders knew being technologically savvy was going to help them with their mission and outreach.

OLU BROWN, LEAD PASTOR IMPACT CHURCH: Realizing that many people aren't excited about bricks and mortar anymore but community exists outside of the four walls and they're willing to reach people in various platforms. One of the most important is technology.

All of these amenities folks are using Monday through Saturday and it is not fair to ask them to come into our churches and step back into the 14th century. So the church is catching up with technology and embracing it and I believe we will be all the better because of it.

HOLMES: And Impact is keeping up by having easy-to-use gadgets and software like an iPhone app. Also Twitter and Facebook accounts, and most importantly -- live streaming Sunday morning worship all to keep their members and others out in cyberspace in the know.

Church members love it.

ERIC ADU, IMPACT CHURCH MEMBER: Having that option still allows to you see what's going on, it still allows you to be part of the worship experience wherever you are.

JEREMY TOLBERT, IMPACT CHURCH MEMBER: Oftentimes I'm away on the weekends. If I'm in an airport, Sunday morning, I want to know what's going on in the sermon; just going to impactdcd.org. It's like I never left, I'm still there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely different than a traditional church experience. Twitter is a part of my everyday life. I love the fact that I can sit in service and tweet the things that I'm hearing about during the sermon and share that with my followers.

HOLMES: Even though times are changing, some members aren't.

BROWN: We try to create opportunity for everyone so that the person who still feels led to bring in a paper-bound bible would feel perfectly comfortable while the person who's sitting next to them with an iPad or the person who is looking on their SmartPhone.

HOLMES: Either way, the message stays the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get with the times. Technology's not going anywhere so I think that this is something that individuals, whether you decide to embrace it or not that it is going to be a part of your lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right. And that is it for us. Our belief blog, you know where to find it. This is T.J. Holmes, thanks for being with us. Right now, Candy.