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"Brady Bunch" Mom Florence Henderson Dies at 82; Trump Team Splits Over Secretary of State Post; Call for Rust Belt Recount Gains Momentum. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 25, 2016 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:06] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys. Thanks so much. NEWSROOM starts now.

And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. Millions of us remember her as America's mom. Actress Florence Henderson has died.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them identical --


COSTELLO: Today, a generation remembers Florence Henderson, the favorite T.V. mom and an icon who celebrated all that 1970s family love.


FLORENCE HENDERSON, ACTRESS: Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.

ROBERT REED, ACTOR: Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.

HENDERSON: Oh, love may come and tap you on the shoulder some starless night.


COSTELLO: The actress who played Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch" died in Los Angeles overnight. She was 82 years old. And this morning, a whole generation feels just a little bit older and certainly sadder. CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us with more on Florence Henderson.


COSTELLO: I loved "The Brady Bunch."

SANCHEZ: It wasn't only one generation. There were so many. I remember watching her growing up on reruns as a kid, and she really felt like an extension of your own mom. She said herself that she was the mom that she wanted to have growing up. Her manager confirmed that she passed away at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She was surrounded by her four children. Now, we just have to say good-bye.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the story of a lovely lady

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Florence Henderson captured hearts across America as one of the most beloved T.V. moms, Carol Brady.

HENDERSON: You'll find out. It's so exciting (ph).


HENDERSON: Good luck on your debate today, Jan.

EVE PLUMB, ACTRESS: Thank you. Do I look okay, mom?

HENDERSON: Oh, sweetheart, you look lovely. Now, don't be nervous about a thing.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Starring a matriarch of a blended family, her career would forever be defined by her character on the 1970s sitcom, "The Brady Bunch."

HENDERSON: I created the kind of mother that I wished I had and I think that everyone longs for.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Taking on the role was something Henderson embraced.

HENDERSON: I get so much fan mail from all over the world, and everybody wants a hug from me.


HENDERSON: And I hug everybody.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): And in the decades following the show, Henderson never shied away from the limelight, returning to her iconic Carol Brady for multiple spinoffs of "The Brady Bunch."

HENDERSON: You are my lucky star.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): But even before she became a Brady, Henderson seemed destined for show business.

HENDERSON: I don't ever remember not singing. And I would sing and pass the hat, and I'd sing for groceries.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Henderson's career took off at the age of 19 on Broadway when she landed a leading role in "Oklahoma" in 1951.

Becoming a bonafide star onstage, her T.V. career progressed as she became NBC's "Today" girl in 1959. And she broke barriers as the first woman to guest host "The Tonight Show" for Johnny Carson in 1962.

Henderson earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1996. And recently danced her way back into the spotlight on "Dancing with the Stars."

Henderson is survived by her four children. She will be remembered most as America's favorite mom.

HENDERSON: I want to be loved by you, just you and nobody else but you. I want to be loved by you alone.


SANCHEZ: "Variety" is reporting that Florence Henderson was actually at "Dancing with the Stars" on Monday in support of her friend, Maureen McCormick, co-star from "The Brady Bunch," of course, who played Marcia. Maureen McCormick actually tweeted out some condolences with a photograph of her and Florence Henderson saying, "You're in my heart forever, Florence." Also going on to tweet out, "Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years and in my heart forever. Love and hugs to her family. I'll miss you dearly."

What's especially touching about this is that you hear her say, I wanted to play the mom that I wanted. She grew up in very difficult circumstances. She was the child of a single parent who struggled with alcoholism. And when she says that, you get the feeling that it meant a lot to her to be seen as America's mom. As an icon, you know.

COSTELLO: Boris Sanchez, thanks so much. No one will ever accuse "The Brady Bunch" of being television's gold standard but its cheesy, breezy innocence held a certain magic in the turbulence of the early 1970s. CNN media analyst Bill Carter joins us now with a closer look. Hi, Bill.

BILL CARTER, AUTHOR, THE WAR FOR LATE NIGHT: Hi. Good morning. How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Well, I grew up with "The Brady Bunch," so I can remember sitting there and watching it slavishly. I just loved it. And I loved Florence Henderson as the mom because she was right, she did create the mom everyone wanted.

[09:05:04] CARTER: Well, she was going for an ideal. I mean, the show was, you know, obviously, an imagination of what a family could be if everybody loved each other. And there really wasn't much conflict. But it was interesting in that it was backward-looking that way, sort of this ideal American family, and also sort of forward- looking because it was a blended family, which became sort of a standard for a generation, much of the generation that grew up watching "The Brady Bunch."

COSTELLO: And, you know, there were so many things that we didn't know about the cast of "The Brady Bunch" while the show was on, right? The man who played the father, he was gay. He was a closeted gay man because, in 1968, you just didn't come out and announce that you were gay. But the whole cast knew including Florence Henderson, and they were very accepting of him.

CARTER: Totally. And that is just, I think, probably standard in show business. There's a lot of gay men and women in show business that's accepted in show business. But it was also part of the ethic of the show, they were very accepting. It was sort of let's all be in this together.

And I think you see that throughout their careers. They never ran away from this idyllic kind of thing, which some people would have and said that's an iconic character but I've got to move on, especially Florence who was an enormously talented singer, I mean. But she still embraced being Carol Brady.

COSTELLO: And she had staying power, too, which surprised some people, but she never really got -- she can never really shake her role on "The Brady Bunch" though, right?

CARTER: But she tried to. I mean, she didn't really say, oh, you know, OK, that's the past. I don't want to, you know, go back to that. She'd always go back to that. She always embraced whatever was going on with one of the kid actors. She was their sort of mother in a kind of idyllic way.

And I think it was a shrewd move because show business is not kind to people, you know. It doesn't -- it often throws them out. And she wound up being sort of a long-term figure and someone that every generation could then watch. I mean, kids continue to watch the show, and it would just be renewed by each generation that came on. And she just embraced that.

COSTELLO: Will we ever see a sitcom quite like this again, or is it just a relic of the past now?

CARTER: You know, it seems like most of the sitcoms today that are being sort of popular are sort of, you know, fractured families. There's a lot of conflict. That sets up the humor. This was a very sweet show. You know, would people accept that now? I think they might, you know. They've gone back and they're watching a new version of "Full House" on Netflix. There's a certain longing for that kind of ideal still, I think.

COSTELLO: All right. Bill Carter, thanks for sharing the memories. We appreciate it.

CARTER: You're welcome, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, on to politics now. Some political intrigue unfolding this morning. Today is the deadline for Wisconsin to issue a recount, a cause pushed by the former Green Party candidate Jill Stein and supported by people donating millions of dollars to pay for it.

In the meantime, the Trump team infighting goes public. Key Trump allies pick sides in the battle to become the next Secretary of State.

CNN's Jason Carroll live at Trump's Palm Beach estate, good morning. JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning too, Carol.

It seems like what we have now is Team Romney versus Team Giuliani. A lot of folks out there seem to have not forgiven Mitt Romney for all of the criticism he lobbied at Donald Trump during the campaign. You remember, at one point, Mitt Romney said that a Trump presidency could translate into trickle-down racism. A lot of people still not forgiving him for all of the criticism.

And I think that's the reason why we're seeing this sort of public fighting between these two camps. Should it be Team Romney? Should it be Team former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani?

Kellyanne Conway weighing in on the debate, tweeting this out yesterday, saying, "Receiving deluge of social media and private communication regarding Romney. Some trump loyalists warn against Romney as Secretary of State." Very interesting to see this play out publicly. These things type normally happen privately behind the scenes. Conway, for her part, basically saying, look, what she's saying publicly is the same thing that she's been saying to Donald Trump and to Mike Pence privately -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Jason Carroll reporting live for us this morning.

[09:09:10] Still to come in the NEWSROOM, she's got the cash. Will she get the recount? Green Party candidate Jill Stein has just hours to ask for one, a recount in Wisconsin.


COSTELLO: The 2016 election may never end. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is expected to officially ask Wisconsin for a recount. The state's deadline for that is today. Stein says her Party's efforts are not topple Donald Trump but to verify the election results.


DR. JILL STEIN (GPUS), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You shouldn't have to wait for the airplane to crash in order to have quality assurance on your airplane, in order to have safeguards to be sure it's not going to crash. So it's very important that we look at the votes. Unless we look at the votes, we wouldn't see evidence of hacking. Hacking is subtle. You have to actually examine the votes, the paper copies of the vote, and compare that result with your electronic result.


COSTELLO: More than 27,000 votes separate Trump and Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. To be exact, 27,257 votes separate the two candidates. In Michigan, the state -- well, it's still too close to call. The difference is nearly 12,000 votes. And in Pennsylvania, the difference is more than 68,000 votes, 68,236. Stein's effort has now raised more than $4 million in order to pay for the recount in those three states. Her new goal is $7 million. So let's talk about this and more. With me now is Jay Newton-Small,

contributor for "Time" magazine; Ross Douthat, CNN political commentator and op-ed columnist for "The New York Times;" and Maria Cardona is a CNN political commentator and Democrat, I should say. Welcome to all of you.




[09:15:03] COSTELLO: Thank you for being here. So, Jay, let's start with you. The Green Party is having no problems raising millions of dollars for this recount. What does that say about the state of the country today?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, clearly, we're still very divided as a country and a lot of these states are really 50/50. I mean, you see already Hillary Clinton's up more than 2 million votes ahead in the popular vote. And there's still a lot of rancor and a lot of strife and a lot of people who don't want to let go of the idea that the election could be swayed towards Hillary Clinton or could be swayed in some other way that Donald Trump might lose somehow, and it's not actually very realistic.

Look, these are pretty wide vote margins. They don't trigger an automatic recount. They aren't within the sort of 0.5 percent which would trigger an automatic recount. They're really not close enough to swing a state.

But there has been a lot of accusations that somehow Russians have hacked these states. There's some malfeasance going on. And that's what they want to investigate.

But, frankly, I mean it's very, very unlikely this is going to in any way take away the election from Donald Trump.

COSTELLO: Well, Ross, if there's absolutely no evidence that there's been any voter fraud at all and even Jill Stein admits that but she says she just wants to verify the result. She has no interest in toppling Donald Trump. Do you believe her?

DOUTHAT: I mean, I don't want to speak to Stein's personal motives. But someone in her campaign or her operation is running adrift basically. They are getting people who are understandably upset about Hillary Clinton's unexpected defeat, in the popular vote/electoral vote difference and they're exploiting their anxieties and frankly their ignorance in order to raise money and keep themselves in business. That is the best explanation for what is happening right now.

As you say the evidence, there's been talk that there are discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots, but a lot of election covering journalists have looked at those and said they're mostly explained by differences in -- rural counties and urban counties that use electronic ballots, and there's simply no evidence that there's massive hacking voter fraud of any kind. And even if Wisconsin were somehow flipped to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump's margin of victory in Pennsylvania is unassailable.

So, you know, I just think what's going on here is kind of sad. And I think we' seen it on the right many times, there's a lot of drifters on the right, and I think you're going to see more drifters on the left at a time of anxiety for liberals.

COSTELLO: So, Maria, why doesn't Jill Stein just let it go and all those Democrats out there secretly wishing that there was a recount something might change?

CARDONA: Sure. I am one of those Democrats, Carol. I would love nothing more than for the election results to be flipped.

But I completely agree with both Jay and Ross that this is completely unrealistic. And, in fact, a computer scientist who was supposedly quoted in the original article that gave light to all of this came out to say that he was inaccurately quoted initially, and that there really is no chance, you know, in terms of probability for the hacking that was supposedly cited to, first of all, number one, be real, and number two, change any of the election results.

So I would say to Hillary Clinton supporters moving forward, it's great to dream, because we really are still crushed from the results of the election. But I would say this -- if we really are worried about votes being counted fairly, then let's focus on what I think really happened this election, or one of the things that really in this election, which was the voter ID laws that were put in place by Republican legislatures all around the country that really kept a lot of people from voting.

You had 300,000 people in Wisconsin that were turned away because of these new voter ID laws. We heard that there were election centers or voting places in North Carolina that were not opened, you know, several of them, a lot of them in majority African-American neighborhoods.


CARDONA: So, let's focus our efforts on changing those laws, on making sure that legislatures go Democratic so that this doesn't happen again. I think that would be a much better use of our passion and our disappointment moving forward.

COSTELLO: All right. So, while all of this is brewing of course Mr. Trump is hard at work thinking about who he's going to appoint for secretary of state, Jay.

So, supposedly, it's between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Some of Trump's core supporters are really upset that Mr. Trump is even thinking of Mitt Romney because of the awful thing that Mitt Romney said about Mr. Trump in the run-up to the election.

So, what do you think might happen?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, it's certainly very interesting and it represents an inherent tension that is going to be a theme of Donald Trump's presidency throughout.

[09:20:01] And that is he has to balance between this very angry base that elected him as the Republican establishment who he has to work with on Capitol Hill, and really get along with about he represents both wings of the party and so you have a lot of establishment Republicans who really do want to see Mitt Romney in there. They feel he would be better representative for the Republican Party and for America abroad.

And they question whether or not Rudy Giuliani can get confirmed by the Senate because of his previous ties lobbying for all kinds of countries that don't have great human rights records, don't have great records with the United States. And so, there is a big push for establishment Republicans for Mitt Romney.

The same time you see a huge push from the sort of alt-right and from the sort of angry base, and frankly all of the Trump loyal supporters, who saw him through from the very beginning to get Rudy Giuliani in there because he was so loyal from the beginning, he was, you know, there all along.

COSTELLO: Ross, it is interesting, so, Mr. Trump's core supporters are kind of angry at Mitt Romney for all the awful things he said about Mr. Trump but they don't seem as angry at Nikki Haley because she also said kind of nasty stuff about Mr. Trump and they don't have any problem with her appointment.

DOUTHAT: Well, I mean, a couple of things. First, it's not -- when we talk about Trump's core supporters, it's not clear whether we're talking about voters, or talk radio hosts or just people in his inner circle who want their own loyalty rewarded, right? I mean, I don't think -- I haven't seen any polls of Trump voters on whether Mitt Romney should be secretary of state versus Rudy Giuliani. I'm quite sure most Trump voters don't have a deep personal stake in Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state.

I think what's going on here is more core intrigue, palace intrigue of which I expect we'll have a great deal in the Trump era than necessarily some huge grassroots push where, you know, people like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Giuliani himself don't want to set precedent, and just much more important precedent to your question. I mean, Nikki Haley, U.N. ambassador is an important position, but it's not nearly as important as secretary of state. Nikki Haley's criticisms of Trump were sometimes pungent, but nothing on the level of Mitt Romney's big speech against him.

So, there's just -- it just seems to me, the stakes are much higher here in terms of what level of loyalty Trump expects to command. But Trump is also someone who may respect -- I mean, he's -- you know, he's a guy who likes to humiliate people sometimes who have surrendered to him. You saw this in the way he sort of teased and tormented Chris Christie on the campaign trail. So I don't think it's always clear that loyalty to Donald Trump is

necessarily, you know, the smartest career move you can possibly make.

COSTELLO: So, Maria, what message would it send if, if Mr. Trump does appoint Mr. Romney to secretary of state?

CARDONA: You know, it is so ironic, Carol, because to so many Democrats that I have talked to, when you hear Mitt Romney, you get a warm fuzzy. And for Democrats to get a warm fuzzy from hearing Mitt Romney being part of the Trump administration shows you just how anathema a Trump administration is to, frankly, right now what we're seeing, the majority of Americans in this country, right? Because Hillary Clinton is ahead by more than 2 million votes now.

Bu I will say this, I do think that it will give not just Democrats but I think a lot of Republicans who had been very critical and are still critical of Trump and his foreign policy views or frankly lack thereof, the thought or the notion that a Mitt Romney as secretary of state gives them some semblance of tranquility, if you will. That here is somebody who is sensible, who, you know, will follow Republican orthodoxy when it comes to foreign policy. I do think that it will even give Democrats some sense of tranquility as well, because you will have somebody who is not going to be shooting from the hip, who really kind of understands, as we say commonsense foreign policy.

Whereas Rudy Giuliani would be completely the opposite, not to mention all of the conflicts of interest that Rudy Giuliani brings to the tab on top of all of the conflicts of interest that Trump himself brings to the table.

COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there.

Thanks to all of you for coming in this Friday -- Jay Newton-Small, Ross Douthat, Maria Cardona.

CARDONA: Thanks so much, Carol.

COSTELLO: You're welcome.

A U.S. service member has been killed in northern Syria. It happened on Thanksgiving Day when an IED exploded. Defense officials say the service member was part of a multinational force fighting ISIS in Syria. Service member's name has not been released.

It is a solemn reminder that the men and women in uniform are on the front lines as many of us are shopping or enjoying time with our families back home. On Thanksgiving morning, President Obama called nine service members to thank them for their service.

I'll be right back.


[09:29:15] COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me. From stuffing to shopping, it's Black Friday and that means millions of Americans are out today getting an early jump on their holiday shopping and, of course, to take advantage of those deep discounts.

Check out the scene in New York City's Herald Square early this morning. Look at all those crazy people. It was downright packed in front of the flagship Macy's store as the doors opened.

In Minnesota, more than 1,000 shoppers braved the cold and the rain to be first in line when the Mall of America opened up at 5:00 in the morning.

Alison Kosik is live at a Target store in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Hi, Alison. Are you having fun?


You know what's always a crowd pleaser? Electronics. I'm in the electronics area, and it seems to be the big favorite at the moment. You know what the got to get gift this year is? It is 4K TV or at this point, any TV.