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Mitt Romney's "Prebuttal" to State of the Union Address; At Least 2 Killed in Alabama Tornado; Mitt Romney's Tax Returns; Why Gingrich Rise Scares Republicans; Interveiw With New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; New Ad Rules for Airlines Go into Effect Thursday

Aired January 24, 2012 - 11:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Studio 7, I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Want to get you up to speed for Tuesday, January 24th.

Well, he made more than $42 million in two years, paid about $6 million in taxes. That's the headline from Mitt Romney's tax returns. It was released today.

We're going to have a breakdown ahead.

Right now, Romney is on the campaign trail. He's in Tampa, focusing his attention on President Obama. We're actually waiting to hear from him and what he's calling a prebuttal to the president's State of the Union Address.

And Rick Santorum campaigning in Stuart, Florida, this hour. The Florida primary just seven days away.

Republican candidates are facing off for more -- one more debate, rather, ahead of Tuesday's Florida primary. In the latest match-up in Tampa last night, Mitt Romney hammered -- hammered away at Newt Gingrich and his record of leadership. Gingrich shot back, accusing Romney of lying.

Here's a taste.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the 15 years after he left the speakership, the Speaker has been working as an influence peddler in Washington. And during those 15 years, I helped turn around the Olympics, helped begin a very successful turnaround in the state of Massachusetts.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He just said at least four things that are false. I don't want to waste the time on them.

I think the American public deserve a discussion about how to beat Barack Obama, the American public deserves a discussion on what we would do about the economy. And I just think this is the worst kind of trivial politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The economy is going to be the main focus of President Obama's State of the Union Address. That is tonight. A Democratic source briefed on the speech says it's going to focus on economic inequality, making sure that everybody gets a fair shake. Now, that's significant, because it's aimed at setting the tone for his message roaring into the campaign.

Syrians turning out by the thousands. Just look at that. The person who posted this on YouTube says that the huge crowd is mourning 11 people killed by government forces in the town of Douma. Across the country, at least 37 people were killed yesterday alone. Some of the most powerful countries in the region are now withdrawing their representatives from the Arab League monitoring mission in Syria because of what you are watching there, ongoing bloodshed.

Emergency crews in the South, they are looking under the rubble, underneath homes, trying to find anybody who might be alive and trapped. A powerful tornado hit Jefferson County, Alabama. That happened yesterday, destroying more than 200 homes. A teenager and an 82-year-old man were killed.

Now, one man shielded his wife and son in the bathtub when the roof blew off their house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the sirens started, all the power went out, it got totally black, and my son started crying for his mom. So, I ran down the hallway to get him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: All right. You might remember the dozens of arsons that terrorized Los Angeles over New Year's weekend. Well, you had exploding cars, burned buildings. Damage expected now to reach $3 million.

The man accused, 24-year-old German national Harry Burkhart, he's going to be arraigned later this hour. The reason prosecutors say he did it was his rage against Americans after his mother was arrested during a traffic stop.

Four convicted murderers who were pardoned earlier this month in Mississippi, they're still going to remain free, at least for now. Now, these men are among almost 200 convicts pardoned by Haley Barbour in his final days as governor. A judge has put off deciding whether those pardons are constitutional until next week.

Check out this amazing fiery picture of the sun. This is NASA that actually took it during the largest solar storm in almost seven years. Absolutely incredible.

A fantastic light display tonight. You can see as radiation from the storm will reach the Earth. It could affect satellite communications as well. So, want to dip in real quick here. Let's take a listen in to Mitt Romney. This is him at a event in Tampa after releasing his tax returns.

Let's listen in to see what he's going to say.

(BEGIN LIVE SPEECH)

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ROMNEY: -- are silent. Warehouses are deserted, corporate offices are empty, and real estate endeavors are abandoned.

Floridians are struggling to find a job, keep a home, and raise a family. And as I travel across the country, I've heard similar stories in virtually every corner of America -- high unemployment, record home foreclosures, debt that's too high, opportunities too few.

This is the real state of our union. But you won't hear stories like those at President Obama's address tonight. The unemployed don't get tickets to sit next to the first lady.

Instead, tonight, the president will do what he does best. He'll give a nice speech, lot of memorable phrases in it, but he won't give you the hard numbers like 9.9 percent unemployment here in Florida. Or 25 percent. That's the percentage of foreclosed homes in America that are here in Florida. Or $15 trillion. That's the size of America's national debt under this president.

Instead, tonight, President Obama will make the opening argument in his campaign against a do-nothing Congress. But we cannot forget that for two years, this president had a Congress that could do anything he wanted it to do. It was a Democrat-controlled Congress.

With huge Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate, President Obama was free to pursue any policy he pleased. Did he fix the economy? No. Did he tackle the housing crisis? No. Did he get Americans back to work? No.

He spent $787 billion on a stimulus bill that didn't work, and put us on track to borrow and spend $5 trillion in just his first term. He forced through Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we didn't want and we certainly can't afford.

He took over auto companies and student loans. He stacked the National Labor Relations Board with union "yes" men who in turn did favors for his campaign contributors and his favorite friends.

When we needed stability, and solvency, he gave us Solyndra. And when we needed a climate for private investment, he gave us Cash for Clunkers. When we need more domestic energy to keep prices low and to create jobs, he imposed bans on drilling and turned his EPA regulators loose to slow our development of natural gas. And he spearheaded one of the largest expansions of government in American history, and he's paying with -- paying for all that with money he's borrowed from China. Three years ago, we measured candidate Obama by his hopeful promises and his slogans. Today, President Obama has amassed an actual record of debt, decline and disappointment.

This president's agenda made these troubled times last longer. He and his allies made it harder for the economy to recover. Instead of solving the housing crisis and getting Americans back to work, President Obama has been building a European-style welfare state.

He's pushed for a second stimulus, deep cuts to our national defense. He's asking the American people for another trillion dollars and for another term in office. And with this in mind, he tells people, we can't wait, to which I say, oh, yes we can.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, the president will make what is referred to as the State of the Union Address, but make no mistake, what he's really offering here are partisan planks for his re-election campaign. The president's been telling people that his agenda will create economic opportunity that's built to last. That's the phrase he'll use, "built to last."

Well, let's talk about what's lasted.

What's lasted is unemployment above 8 percent for 35 straight months. What's going to last is almost as much debt in four years as all the prior presidents combined. What's going to last are home values that are too low and foreclosure rates that are too high. And a legacy of debt that will imperil future generations is what will last from this administration.

And what's critical is that we make today Barack Obama's last State of the Union Address. No more from Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

The president's agenda sounds less like built to last and more like doomed to fail. What he's proposing is more of the same -- more taxes, more spending, more regulation. And all of his proposals involve big government and big price tags.

Tonight, we're also going to get treated to more divisive rhetoric from a desperate campaigner-in-chief. It's shameful for a president to use the state of the union to divide our nation. And someone ought to tell him, in order to put the economy back to work, everyone needs to be working.

But more than anything, I expect the president will take this opportunity to take another victory lap. You know, in his big speeches he tends to tell tall tales about an America that's thriving on his watch. In 2010, he announced the worst of this economic storm has passed. I know the people of Tampa don't believe that.

(END LIVE SPEECH)

MALVEAUX: You're listening to Mitt Romney there calling President Obama the "desperate campaigner-in-chief."

Want to bring in Jim Acosta, who's actually with Romney in Tampa.

And Jim, first of all, we'll talk about the details of Romney's tax returns, but first, do they think that this is -- this line of critique, this kind of criticism against the president himself, going up against Obama, as opposed to firepower against Mitt Romney and some of his other Republican rivals, that that is really effective here, that that's going to work, that it sets him up to be the guy who people see as the one who's going to be the candidate?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, that's a very good question. I mean, this what is Mitt Romney has done for the most part in his campaign. He's directed most of his attention at President Obama. So, in a way, he is going back to what has worked for his campaign for many, many months.

He has only just recently been distracted by, you know, the surging threat to his campaign from Newt Gingrich, and so he's been talking about Newt Gingrich more and more over the last couple of days. But going back to what he's talking about this morning in this prebuttal to the president's State of the Union Address, just to set the scene, we're standing inside an abandoned warehouse that Mitt Romney said would be working if President Obama's economic policy was working for the country.

And you can see that banner over my shoulder. I don't know if you can quite make it out, but it says "Obama Isn't Working." That's been an ongoing theme for the Romney campaign.

But I have to just look at -- point you to some of the things that Mitt Romney just said a few moments ago that I think was quite striking. He said, "It is shameful to use the state of the union to divide our nation." He said, "The president's agenda is less built to last and more doomed to fail."

I mean, these are some tough words directed at the president, but it's all because there's really sort of a tit-for-tat going on today between the president and his political people and Mitt Romney's campaign. Let's be honest here. Mitt Romney released his tax returns this morning. It shows that he pays a far lower tax rate than most middle-income Americans, and this is something that President Obama has talked about a lot over the last few months, that the rich should pay more in taxes, they should pay their fair share in taxes.

And just to underline that point tonight, the president's State of the Union speech, in the first lady's box tonight will be Warren Buffett's secretary, somebody Warren Buffett has said pays less in an effective tax rate than he does. So, there's sort of a back-and-forth going on between these two campaigns right now -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jim. Thank you.

Forget about how much money Romney made for a minute and just picture this -- Mitt Romney's last two tax returns, taken together, were more than 500 pages long. It's a lot of complex details. Obviously, our Christine Romans, she is digging through all of it. We're going to have a look at what she has found about those tax returns in a moment.

But first, here's your chance to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. President Obama is going to speak to the nation tonight in his annual State of the Union Address. He's expected to discuss big issues facing the country -- obviously jobs, the economy, the debt.

What do you want to hear from him? Well, that is today's "Talk Back" question. And Carol Costello, she's in D.C. with more.

Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Suzanne.

Tonight, there will be millions of middle-class Americans struggling to find hope in our state of the union like Michael and Moira Binder. They represent what middle-class Americans fear the most, that they'll sink farther under water on a bad mortgage, or lose their jobs, that they'll fall out of the middle class. All of that has happened to the Binders, who now find themselves in an economic place they can't fathom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOIRA BINDER, STRUGGLING MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN: There's not a lot of hope for me right now of, you know, somebody's going to fix this. It feels like, you know, we've got to, you know, buckle down and do everything ourselves and, you know, not expect anybody else to figure it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: See, they don't care about allegations President Obama is a socialist or that Mitt Romney is richer than God or that Newt Gingrich may or may not be an influence peddler. No. They want help, and they want specifics.

So, when Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn says he'll skip the president's speech because he's heard it all before, and House Speaker John Boehner calls the speech pathetic before he's even heard it, many middle-class Americans will wonder if anyone gets it. The same holds true if the president transforms the State of the Union into a campaign speech, or uses lofty political rhetoric to tout an economy that's getting better, but at a glacial pace.

So, our "Talk Back" question today, what do you want to hear in Obama's State of the Union?

Facebook.com/CarolCNN. I'll read your comments later this hour.

MALVEAUX: And Carol, I guess it's no surprise. State of the Unions are always what is the state of the union? It's strong. You don't normally hear any of these presidents coming out saying, oh, not so good. People are going to want to know, what is the real deal here when you look at the economy, when you look at home foreclosures, all those things, because a lot of people, despite what the president has been trying to do, are still suffering.

COSTELLO: That's right. And the speech is supposed to be about the state of the union, not a political campaign speech.

So that's what Mitt Romney was talking about in his speech that you heard down there in Florida. We'll see what it turns out to be tonight.

MALVEAUX: All right. Carol, thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MALVEAUX: And devastation in Alabama. An entire subdivision wiped off the map in Jefferson County after a tornado with 150-mile-per-hour winds struck early yesterday. Many families were actually sleeping when it hit.

Bob Van Dillen, he is joining us from Clay, Alabama.

And Bob, we know that so far, two people have lost their lives in Clay. Are rescuers -- are they still looking for survivors?

BOB VAN DILLEN, HLN'S "MORNING EXPRESS": No. At this point, Suzanne, they are not. That rescue stage is over with, which is obviously some good news. Everybody is accounted for.

But what they're doing now is, if you can look behind me, a lot of people that own these houses are picking through and trying to figure out what they can salvage. And there's just about everybody at every blank house.

Now, if look at some of the damage we have, it's in all degrees. If you look at this one pile of rubble directly behind me, that's a house that is totally gone. That one is just absolutely demolished. A little bit of the slab is still visible on the left, and all the debris pile is off to the right.

The next house you go to is another house that has a couple rooms left, but we only had one serious injury in this subdivision, and it was at that house right there. A guy got sucked out of his room and thrown right on to the ground. That hurt him a bit. He should be OK.

But then you go to the next house, and you can see the damage right there. Also, notice that green couch sticking out of the window. That's from a house just two houses down to the left, the one that was totally destroyed. That is not her couch.

The lady that lived there, she's on the top story. She got thrown out of her house and landed with her bed and her mattress on top of the rubble you see on the right. And then we had a neighbor come by and rescue her. So she's OK.

Then you go to the next house, look at this one. Almost all gone. Now, this was a family with a 1-year-old baby. The baby luckily was staying with some neighbors, and that was last night. It's good news because that room is gone. The baby's room is gone. So she was not there for that to happen. Just thank goodness for that.

We also caught up with a couple people that live in this division itself, and I asked them, "Matt, what's the first thing you did? You saw the tornado go through. What happened next?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT CAYLOR, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I ran in the house. It was maybe 30 seconds. And I grabbed my family and threw them in the closet.

And we were all gathered up, and we just heard the big "boom!" And I waited maybe a half a minute and I said, "Baby, stay here for a second." I came out and I checked and I said, "We've been hit, it's been pretty bad." And you hear the smoke alarms going off, the fire alarms going off, you could hear people screaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN DILLEN: And the first thing he did after that was he went around and he checked his neighbors, which is always amazing to me.

Now, there's about 100 houses in this subdivision. Twenty to 30 of them cannot be rebuilt. But there are some about a block away that just has a little bit of shingle damage, that's it.

I think the path right now, from what I can see, is about 100 yards wide where I stand right now. So not that wide, but very powerful, 150-mile-per-hour winds -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: That's amazing, Bob. And I had a chance to talk to the governor yesterday about all of this, and they are recovering from last April's tornadoes that hit. More than 200 people were killed in that instant.

You talk to people, do they get a sense of fear that, you know, they're recalling what had happened just last year and are feeling that same renewed sense of concern?

VAN DILLEN: Well, it's a good question, because a couple of people reminded me of the exact date. Right, it was an April 27th deal. And they live on the I-59 corridor. This is the second time they got hit, you're right.

That one -- I was talking to a man. He was on his front porch when he saw that tornado go by over the hill, but they had no damage. In this subdivision last night, on Sunday, Monday morning early, it was their turn, unfortunately -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Bob. Appreciate it.

We wish them all the best in their recovery. Well, Mitt Romney has finally released his tax records for the last two years. They total up to more than 500 pages. It shows he made more than $42 million over a two-year period.

Our Christine Romans, she rolled up her sleeves and she dug through all of it to take a look. Find out what it means.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, a glimpse into hundreds of pages of tax documents from Willard M. and Ann D. Romney. That is presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

And a lot of this we already know, but revealing here to the extent of his wealth and just how complicated his family finances are. Much of this wealth in blind trusts, so someone else is managing all of this.

But even in 2010, he had a Swiss bank account. He has funds around the world in places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. All of it, according to his advisers, completely legal.

Mitt Romney says that he is very proud of every penny of taxes that he pays, and he has paid over the past couple of years more than $6 million, $6.2 million in taxes. He's also given away even more than that. He's given away about $7 million, much of it to the Mormon Church, but also to other entities like cancer research, Multiple Sclerosis research, and also to the Boys and Girls Club.

So, this is a campaign that is trying to say, look, this is an example of the American dream, someone who did not inherit money from his father, but managed to work his way into the American economy, build a business, and build connections, and build vast, vast wealth. Others, though, are saying now, wait a minute, this is actually the personification of income inequality in this country, because he is now making vast amounts of money every year and paying 13, 14, 15 percent tax rates on those, because you are taxed less for making money with money in this country than you are for making money with your work, with actual hours worked.

I want to quickly show you how this stacks up in the competition in the race, how the money stacks up.

Mitt Romney and Ann Romney in 2011, $21 million -- $21 million. An effective tax rate of 13.9 percent for their 2010 tax return.

How does that compare with the Gingriches? You can see the Gingriches paid a much higher tax rate and made about $3 million. And the Obamas made about $1.8 million, with an effective tax rate of about 26 percent.

So, clearly, the campaign, the Romney campaign, Suzanne, would hope that all of these documents now put this question to rest, but I can assure you that there are an awful lot of people going through every last page. And they will still be talking about the wealth of Mitt Romney, both on the Republican side and the Gingrich camp, and also on the Democratic side, to show that he is not in touch with the average American family. The median income, by the way, $49,000 a year -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: It's not going to be put to rest so far.

So you think Democrats are the only ones fighting to keep Newt Gingrich out of the White House, right? Well, some Republican leaders, they're afraid of his nomination, but he's feeling pretty confident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: We look forward to working with you. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Here's a run down of some of the stories we are working on next. Why Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls is actually scaring some Republicans.

And then Canada has announced its candidacy for president of the United States.

At 11:45, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will join us to talk about tonight's State of the Union address.

Well, after a big win in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich building momentum now in Florida. Take a look at the most recent CNN/Gallup poll. The former speaker about even with Mitt Romney nationally. Some of the party, they are not happy about this.

Dana Bash has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newt Gingrich may have led Republicans to their first House majority in 40 years, but the prospect of Gingrich becoming their presidential nominee is producing significant GOP angst.

RON BONJEAN, VETERAN REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP AIDE: Most people on Capitol Hill and in Washington are very nervous about a Gingrich presidency.

BASH: veteran Republican leadership aide, Ron Bonjean, says publicly what many lawmakers and strategists will only tell CNN privately.

BONJEAN: It sends a shiver down a lot of Republican spines. You can actually feel the nervousness in Washington from Republicans around town that Gingrich could actually bring the craziness back of his speakership from the 1990s.

BASH: Several GOP congressional sources tell CNN it's not only about the White House. Republican leaders worry Gingrich at the top of the ticket could be a drag on their candidates for Congress, even hurt chances for taking over the Senate. They point to races in Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Nevada, as examples of Senate races that could be in jeopardy.

Why? Gingrich's reputation as an undisciplined messenger. Like when he said this about the Medicare plan most Republicans supported.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.

BASH: Some, like Senator Jim DeMint, dismiss concern.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think what we've seen from Newt that people like is a willingness to take on the media and to really stand up and fight.

BASH: Still, just 12 sitting Republican lawmakers have endorsed the former House speaker. 64 support Mitt Romney. The Gingrich campaign e-mailed a list of 11 former members of Congress who served with Gingrich backing him now, including J.C. Watts.

J.C. WATTS, (R), FORMER OKLAHOMA CONGRESSMAN: We had a balanced budget with Newt. First time -- only time in our lifetime we didn't spend more money than we took in.

BASH: But many former colleagues have endorsed Mitt Romney. Susan Molinari even made this web ad as Gingrich's support began to climb.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN MOLINARI, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: I served with Newt Gingrich in Congress. Newt Gingrich had a leadership style that can only be described as leadership by chaos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Gingrich tries to turn the criticism into a plus.

GINGRICH: It's very clear the establishment wants Romney.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: All right, Dana, you just came from a breakfast with Speaker John Boehner. What does he have to say about Gingrich?

BASH: Not much. He's very, very careful, Suzanne. You know he was, of course -- Newt Gingrich -- one of his top lieutenants when Gingrich was speaker but he's being careful not to saying anything about Gingrich publicly or anybody else. He might not be, but other members of his conference are. One quick story. I was riding up the elevator late yesterday with one of the House Republicans who's endorsed Mitt Romney. And I said, why did you Mitt Romney? He said, well I served with Gingrich a long time. And he sort of smiled.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: I guess that says something without saying the words there.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: When you were with Boehner, did he say anything about the president's State of the Union address that's taking place? I know there's already some back and forth over whether or not this is really going to be significant?

BASH: Yes. It was very interesting. He had a breakfast for a small group of reporters talking ahead of this State of the Union address and he was talking about the themes that Democrats are already running on, the president himself, specifically the idea that Republicans' policies are bad for the middle class. And Boehner said that the president said he was going to run as a uniter, not a divider, but he's running on the policies of division and envy, which Boehner says, to me, is almost un-American. Pretty strong stuff from the speaker ahead of the speech tonight where President Obama will be sitting right in front of him.

MALVEAUX: Wow. OK. We'll be looking for the body language and, of course, in that chamber as one half stands and the other half sits and it goes back and forth depending on what they like or don't like.

Dana, thanks. Appreciate it as always.

BASH: Thanks, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So are you fed up with all the political infighting, ready for an alternative, right? No problem. Jeanne Moos, she has the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who needs the Republican or Democratic parties when there's now --

BRIAN CALVERT, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: The Canada party. America, but better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: All right. So elementary schoolteacher or rather a principal in Florida has a pretty unique way of encouraging the students to read more. He lets them throw marshmallows at him. That's good incentive, I would think. Only the students who meet the school's accelerated reading requirements get to be a part of all of this. Even more kids qualified this time since the last challenge. That time, oh, yes, they got to dump apple sauce on the principal's head. That's pretty good stuff.

Another guilty pleasure for you this morning, OK, they're babies, twins, and here's what happened when they heard their dad sneeze.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: All right. So they just decided to sneeze along with him.

(LAUGHTER)

And, of course, it all ended up on YouTube. Wonderful moment.

Now back to politics. Have you heard the one about the new presidential candidate? Yes. Sounds like a joke. It is.

Our Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): You're looking at the latest candidate for president of the United States.

(MUSIC)

CALVERT: Hello, America. It's us, Canada.

MOOS: Canada has announced its candidacy.

CALVERT: We've seen your candidates and, frankly, they scare the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of us. We're volunteering our country to lead your country.

MOOS: Americans may think of Canada as mountains, Mounties, maple syrup and chipmunk, but nuts is how some Canadians think of the U.S. presidential race.

CALVERT: Why do we want to be your president? Two words. These guys.

HERMAN CAIN, (R), FORMER GODFATHER'S PIZZA CEO & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who's the president of Uzbeki-becky-becky- stan-stan.

RICK PERRY, (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what's the third one there?

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm speaking.

PERRY: The newspaper --

ROMNEY: I'm speaking. I'm speaking.

MARIANNE GINGRICH, FORMER WIFE OF NEWT GINGRICH: He was asking to have an open marriage.

GINGRICH: -- is as close to despicable.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: All right, let's do it again.

MOOS: But who needs the Republican or Democratic parties when there's now --

CALVERT: The Canada Party. America, but better.

MOOS: It better be a parody.

CALVERT: So this is not an invasion. It's an intervention.

MOOS: By two Canadian residents, an actor and a writer.

(on camera): Us Americans, you seem to be mocking us?

CALVERT: If your neighbor's house is on fire and it's peeling your paint, you can either grab some marshmallows or grab a hose. And while we're here to hose America. And, well, we're here to hose America, I guess.

MOOS (voice-over): Chris Cannon, the writer doing the hosing, is a former U.S. Marine and still an American citizen, who plays championship-level Frisbee. The two have created a campaign poster.

CALVERT: Yes, we, Canada.

MOOS: And two videos with more to come tweaking the U.S.

CALVERT: And we have the same problem you do with illiterate foreigners invading our southern borders to steal our jobs.

MOOS: Creators face the wrath of an American service woman.

CALVERT: Suggesting that I put the video up my backside.

MOOS (on camera): Among the Canada party's campaign promises, we will build a Keystone Oil Pipeline, but it will carry maple syrup.

(voice-over): It's the Republican race that inspired the parodies.

ROMNEY: Are you just going to keep talking?

GINGRICH: No, but I will.

CAIN: Got all this stuff is twirling around in my head.

MOOS: But they poke the president as well.

CALVERT: Mr. Obama, we're Canada, and even we think you're too polite.

MOOS: At least if Canada is ever inaugurated --

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: I, Barack Hussein Obama --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack --

ROBERTS: -- do solemnly swear --

MOOS: -- maybe it will get the oath, right. I, Canada, do solemnly swear --

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos --

(on camera): -- to faithfully execute the office --

(voice-over): -- CNN --

(on camera): -- of president of United States.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: Pretty funny.

We're getting a lot of responses to today's "Talk Back" question. We asked: What would you like to hear President Obama's State of the Union address?

Judy says, "I want to hear a speech that is positive, offers realistic hope and I want the entire program and audience to be civil."

Carol Costello is up next with more of your responses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: We're getting ready for President Obama's State of the Union address tonight. People are weighing in on what they would like to hear.

Carol Costello is here with the "Talk Back" questions and responses. So Carol, what are folks looking for from this president now?

COSTELLO: Pretty fiery responses today, Suzanne. The "Talk Back" question: What do you want to hear in Obama's State of the Union.

From Jeff, "What he'll do so Congress will stop sitting on its hands. What part of the American jobs act will be implemented and when."

J.D. says, "An immediate full audit of the federal reserve and removal of all the troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and an end to our meddling in the Middle East. Too bad these will never happen."

From Mike, "I'm sure we will hear a host of hopes and aspiration, a nation building towards a prosperous future for our children and grandchildren as I am sure we will also see and hear applause and standing ovations by half of the audience while the other half sits quietly with scowls on their faces."

From Salva, "I would rather not hear anything any more. I would like to see results for once. Enough talking, more doing."

Keep the conversation going, facebook.com/carolCNN. Back with you in about 15, 20 minutes.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Carol.

One of Gabrielle Giffords last acts as a Congresswoman is going to be attending tonight's State of the Union address. No doubt, she is very well going to be getting the biggest applause of the night. We'll hear more about healing, trying to heal a divided Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: All right. It's one of those rare moments when you've got the parties and the president coming together in one evening. We don't expect them to all get along necessarily.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is joining us from Washington to talk about tonight's State of the Union address.

Senator, great to see you.

Obviously, everyone's going to be in the chamber there together. We're going to see a lot of the theatrics, people standing, some people sitting here. When we look at the year ahead and even beyond the elections, whoever wins, we are looking at a very bitter Congress. Is there anything that you feel that you can do personally to try to break through some of the gridlock in our government and get something done?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D), NEW YORK: I do. I think there is so much work that can be done on a bipartisan basis, even a nonpartisan basis. And what I look forward to hearing tonight is about that agenda, that bipartisan agenda. For example, it is a very bipartisan idea to see manufacturing in this country again. We all want to see "Made in America" again. And I expect the president to talk a bit about that. And I know that's something that can really bring Democrats and Republicans together.

I also hope to hear a bit about small businesses. Small businesses are such an economic engine in this country. They make two-thirds of all new jobs. That is a bipartisan idea. It's not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, it's just a good idea.

And so the more we focus on those nonpartisan approaches and we try to come together and do what's right for America, I think we will be successful. We saw it in the last Congress when we did Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and when we did the 9/11 health bill. It is possible.

MALVEAUX: Is there anything that you think your party can do differently or better to try to reach over to your Republican counterparts?

GILLIBRAND: I think it's important to start with a shared core common value. So, for example, when you're talking about the economy, we all want to get people working again. We all want to help businesses grow. And so we can take that basic belief that we share and then try to build upon it. And if we do it in a way that's not adverse to any other party, we can get it done. And that's what we did in the last Congress on a number of really important issues. So I think we can come together and get something done. And I look forward to hearing tonight what the president wants to lay out as some of his priorities. And I think a lot of those priorities truly will be shared.

MALVEAUX: You, Gabrielle Giffords, Debbie Wassermann Schultz, you guys are like the Three Musketeers there on Capitol Hill.

(LAUGHTER)

GILLIBRAND: Yes.

MALVEAUX: And she's going to be there tonight, obviously, before she resigns. A very close friend of yours. It really was the attack against her that sparked this kind of renewed commitment that you guys made to each other about working together across the aisle, sitting together. That hasn't happened this year. Why do you suppose the tone didn't change in Washington?

GILLIBRAND: Well, we had to just keep working towards that. Unfortunately, politics becomes so partisan too quickly. And, you know, Gabby's been such an image of hope and a source of inspiration for so many of us. And I just remember right after the shooting, when President Obama went to Tucson and he gave that incredible speech where he talked about the death of that 9-year-old girl, Christina Green, and said, you know, she has a vision of America about what makes us great, about what makes this democracy work, and we all are being called to live up to that vision. And that call to action is so important. And I think Gabby's presence alone in the chamber tonight will help bring this Congress together. I think she is a source of healing for all of us. And I think, by her nature, as she served, she always served on a bipartisan basis. So I hope my colleagues can all look to her as that source of inspiration to get something done in this Congress.

MALVEAUX: And, Senator, I understand you're bringing a date. The Republicans get a Democrat, the Democrats get a Republican. Who's your date tonight?

GILLIBRAND: Lindsey Graham. And I'm looking forward to going with Lindsey. Lindsey and I share a lot of priority on the national security agenda. We actually shared a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan together and we're working on a number of bills together right now.

MALVEAUX: All right, Senator, we wish you well in your date tonight. We hope you guys do get along. Sounds like off good relationship so far. And we'll see what the president -- if there is that kind of reaching out across the aisle tonight.

Thanks, Senator.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: So that's a Democrat talking about what will happen tonight, what could happen tonight. In the next hour, we're going to ask those same questions of Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.

And as President Obama prepares for tonight's State of the Union, we're also looking back at the pledges that he made during last year's address. One of the promises was transparency. Did he deliver? Our Tom Foreman, he's got the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This White House has promised from the start to be more open, more transparent about the way it does business than any that we've seen before. And for the president, that meant queuing the tech talk about a special new program in the West Wing.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you'll be able to go to a web site and get that information for the very first time in history.

FOREMAN: The administration lit up the Federal Taxpayer Receipt Project in April on Tax Day. It can be found at whitehouse.gov under the taxes session. And you can indeed get a breakdown on where your tax dollars go. That's a promise kept.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And tonight, CNN's special coverage of President Obama's State of the Union address, it begins at 8:00 eastern, live from Washington.

And imagine booking a flight without even paying hidden fees. It sounds like a commercial for some sort of dream airline. Well, there's a new law that's now making this a reality.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: All right. Time for a quick check of the markets.

Felicia Taylor is joining us from the New York Stock Exchange.

And, Felicia, what does it look like so far?

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With a little bit of a sell- off, and it's because we've got somewhat of a mixed earnings picture out there, and also, investors are still looking for some kind of announcement out of Greece.

Today on the earnings front, we've got Verizon, Travelers, and McDonald's, but they're all dragging down the Dow. Mcdonald's interesting, though, because it was a stellar performance in terms of earnings, but the stock is off as investors wonder, A, if the fast- food giant can keep it up, and also currency fluctuations, because about 60 percent of McDonald's business does come from overseas. Verizon posted a loss and traveler's fourth quarter profits fell. Markets still anxious about Greece, especially after S&P warned that it may downgrade Greece, even if it restructures its debt. So a restructure may not even be good enough -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Felicia, you and I travel a lot. We're on planes. I understand there are some new rules that might help us out a little bit. Yes?

TAYLOR: Yes. You know, this is really about transparency for the consumer. Airline ads are going to have to include all of those fees, whether they're taxes, whatever it may be, in the price of the ticket that they're advertising. The new overhaul begins on Thursday.

You might remember that Air Tran was recently fined for advertising $59 one-way fares. That sounds great, but the ads had little asterisks that showed, you know, taxes and fees, but not how much those taxes and fees would be, so you didn't know what the actual price of the ticket would be. So now ads have to show everything, whether it's fuel charges, the government's fee for 9/11, taxes, anything else. And also airlines are going to have to clearly lay out how much the bag fee will be on your e-ticket.

So the new ads may show fares that seem higher, but they're actually the same fare, but now it includes all the fees that they've been tacking on anyway. So you're actually seeing what you're paying as opposed to being looped into a $59 fare and then ending up paying more like $70 or $80 because of all the fees that have been added on.

MALVEAUX: And that's just annoying, when you see that.

(LAUGHTER)

They add it up and it's much more expensive than you ever imagined. I think it's a good idea. Good for them.

TAYLOR: Yes, it's frustrating.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Felicia. Appreciate it.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Suzanne.