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American Morning

Obama Out of Touch?; Recession Over, Anxiety Lingers; Homeschooling in America; Tea Party Success Triggers GDP Turmoil; World Alzheimer's Day

Aired September 21, 2010 - 06:59   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning to you. Thanks so much for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. It's the 21st of September. Typically, that's when we made the transition from summer to fall, but you get one more day. One more day today, so spend it wisely.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And enjoy it because in a lot of parts of the country, it actually feels much more like summer than fall.

ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely. Enjoy the last day of summer. I'm John Roberts. Good morning.

CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. We have a lot to talk about this morning. We're looking for answers from the tea party candidate for Senate in Delaware. Christine O'Donnell's past spending raising some legal and ethical questions. We're going to show you what the complaints are about, who's behind them, and how she responded last night at a Delaware campaign forum.

ROBERTS: He moved millions to tears just two years ago. Now, critics say he no longer connects. Has President Obama lost his touch? Ed Henry live at the White House where they are trying to find that old magic again.

CHETRY: OK, so the experts say the recession is over. In fact, economists say it actually ended a year ago, in June of 2009. It was 18 months long in all, the longest economic downturn since the Great Depression. But for a lot of Americans, it still feels that way, that the recession is not over, in fact.

So why the struggle for a job and financial stability?

CHETRY: Up first this hour, giving the Tea Party's new superstar a chance to clear the air.

ROBERTS: There are questions mounting this morning about the way Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate for the Senate in Delaware, spent some of her campaign cash. A complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission over a handful of checks that were written in 2009 after her 2008 run was over.

CHETRY: Christine O'Donnell was speaking at a campaign forum in Delaware last night. Our Gary Tuchman went right to the candidate to give her a chance to respond, and he joins us live this morning from Delaware. How did it go, Gary, when you were asking questions about some of those questionable expenses?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear at this point. She really hasn't answered the questions just yet. The background is this. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says O'Donnell's, quote, "clearly a criminal and should be prosecuted."

The group is claiming she has taken at least $20,000 from campaign money and used it for personal expenditures since 2009. Indeed, we now have many of the FEC records, and they show O'Donnell paid $750 a month for rent for her townhouse with campaign funding in March and April of 2009.

That's significant because back then she wasn't even a declared candidate for 2010. She was using money from the 2008 campaign. Now, I wanted to talk to her about that. So after that candidate forum in Middletown, Delaware, last night I asked her about the rent payment.

She said if I was polite and let her shake voters' hands first, she'll answer my question. But instead, she then gave a general statement.


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, (R) DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: We have been ethical. We have not -- I've personally not have misused the campaign funds. And we have our FEC lawyer, a great attorney answering those charges if it ever goes anywhere.


TUCHMAN: Well, I really wanted to give her a chance to answer a specific question about the rent money, so I gave it one more shot.


TUCHMAN: May I ask you the one question you promised you'd answer.

O'DONNELL: I did answer it.

TUCHMAN: It's about the rentals last year. Why were you paying rent with campaign money? That was the one question I had.

O'DONNELL: I already answered it.

TUCHMAN: No, you didn't answer it.


TUCHMAN: I'm not really sure if she thought she answered my question or if it was part of a non-answering strategy, but the fact is she did not answer the specific question, which means we don't know why she used campaign funds to pay rent, buy meals at restaurants, buy gas in her hometown in New Jersey, and take trips to Texas while she was not an official candidate for anything. She just doesn't appear right now ready to discuss specifics. But we'll be happy to talk to her, Kiran, when she's ready.

CHETRY: And you talked about the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the so-called watchdog group, nonpartisan. Are they nonpartisan, or do they have a bone to pick with her as a Tea Party candidate in Delaware?

TUCHMAN: Well, one of the things she told also last night in that general statement was "why do you take the words of a liberal group?" But that group says it is nonpartisan. It says it's just been in the middle of investigating Charlie Rangel. And that group claims it investigates Democrats and Republicans thoroughly when they're doing stuff they shouldn't be doing.

CHETRY: I'm glad you had a chance to catch up with her. It's a shame you didn't get more out of her. Gary, thanks for joining us this morning.

And the O'Donnell campaign this morning is not responding to our phone calls, but it did say it's, quote, "very confident that these accusations will be dismissed as frivolous." And this story will be developing all day, so for more on the last with Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party, or all of the day's political stories, head to

ROBERTS: The Senate is set for an important test vote today on efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Pop star Lady Gaga is doing her part. She headlined a rally in Portland, Maine, yesterday to urge the state senators, both of them Republican, to support a repeal and let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military.


LADY GAGA, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I'm here because they inspire me. I'm here because I believe in them. I'm here because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is wrong. It's unjust.


And fundamentally, it is against all that we stand for as Americans.


ROBERTS: So "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is going to be front and center on Capitol Hill today. So let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's live in Washington for us. Dana, put a pair of glasses on you, and you and Lady Gaga might not look so different.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, of all of the outfit she wears, glasses are probably the safest for me, John.

(LAUGHTER) ROBERTS: There you go.

BASH: This vote that Lady Gaga and other Hollywood celebrities and gay rights lobbyists are working so hard on is simply a vote to start debate on a defense bill that includes that authorization to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

And Republicans are trying to block the bill from coming to the Senate floor for several reasons. The one we hear the most is that the Senate majority leader Harry Reid has set up a process that's unfair to GOP senators because it limits their ability to offer amendments or change the bill.

And that's why Maine Republican Susan Collins who supports repealing "don't ask, don't tell," suggests she's leaning wards blocking the bill. Other Republicans, John, say they don't believe that Congress should be acting at all until the Pentagon is finished with its policy review. And that is the reason that means other Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, that's why she says she's likely to vote no, as well.

I'll read you her statement. She said "The question is whether we should be voting on this issue before we have the benefit of comprehensive -- of the comprehensive review that President Obama's secretary of defense ordered in March, to secure the input of our men and women in uniform during this time of war as the Joint Chiefs of Staff from all of the services have requested prior to any vote."

So that is the argument she is making. Other people who might tend to support the repeal are making the same argument. That's why going into this vote is too close to call, John.

ROBERTS: Republicans are accusing Democrats playing politics by holding this so close to the election. Do they have a point?

BASH: It was a bit of a surprise when Harry Reid returned from summer recess with this very brief session there and right now announced they were trying to take up this defense bill. Other Democratic leaders -- he and others actually argue that the reason why he said that is because it is a must-pass piece of unfinished congressional business.

But I've got to tell you, privately even some Democrats will tell you that they realize there are a lot of constituencies who voted for Democrats in 2008 who are really frustrated with inaction on their issues, and the gay community is definitely one of them.

The president made a campaign promise to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" back in 2008. So there is an element here of Democrats scrambling to prove, hey, at least we're trying.

ROBERTS: Dana Bash in Washington this morning, not wearing a prime rib dress. And for that we are thankful.

BASH: Any time.

CHETRY: She's also not wearing a phone as hair.

ROBERTS: How do you wear a phone as hair?

CHETRY: Gaga did it.

ROBERTS: She can pull off anything, can't she?

CHETRY: She does.


CHETRY: Well, has president Obama lost touch? He moved millions to tears just two years ago. Now critics say he no longer connects. Can he find the magic again? We'll talk about it still ahead. It's nine minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: It's 12 minutes now after the hour. They are hearing the criticism loud and clear at the White House. The president is out of touch. He no longer connects. The magic is gone. President Obama appearing yesterday at a town hall meeting on CNBC coming face-to-face with one of those critics, a woman who says she's voted for the change that he preached and is still waiting to see it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change I voted for. And deeply disappointed with where we are right now.

I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I am waiting. I don't feel it yet.


ROBERTS: Ed Henry is live at the White House for us this morning. And Ed, is the president failing to connect? Is the White House concerned about that?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, no doubt they are, John. I spent the last couple of days in sort of southeastern Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia Beach area on exactly that question. What happened to the Obama magic? We picked Virginia because he won that state, the first time a Democrat did that since 1964. And this particular part of Virginia, they elected a freshman Democrat, Glenn Nye.

And since that time, Glenn Nye has been running away from the president, a sure sign that the president's popularity, some of that magic has flipped in places like Virginia. The Democrat appeared with then candidate Obama four times in 2008. Now he hasn't appeared with him at all. He voted against health care reform. Why? Well, we talked to some independent voters in that district who voted for President Obama in 2008, and they just say, look, they have no personal against the president. They still think he is a good communicator, but they think he tried to do too much too fast, number one.

And number two, they said the economy is so awful right now, people are just in complete panic mode right now and that what they want to do is take it out on their representative, whether it's a democrat, whether it's a Republican. And there's going to be a lot of incumbents that go down this fall.

ROBERTS: The president at that town hall yesterday was urging patience, saying I've got a lot of programs out there. It's going to take time for them to be felt across the country. It doesn't happen overnight. Here's how he put it.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think the challenge right now is I'm thinking about the next generation and there are a lot of folks out there thinking about the next election.


ROBERTS: So -- I mean, it's OK to say that. But people obviously have been waiting a long time for things to get better. The recession officially ended 14 months ago, and a lot of people are still hurting. Do they have a great reserve of patience anymore?

HENRY: They don't. I spoke to someone who said, look, I voted McCain in 2008, but he had nice things to say about President Obama. He thinks the president is trying. But he said, look, I think it's just complete political unrest right now. And basically how he put it was, quote, "You better have quick results or you're done." He was talking about the congressional candidate in that race. But he was talking about President Obama in 2012, as well.

And as I noted across the board, there were Democrats, Republicans and independent voters telling me that basically they feel the president tried to do far too much in the first 20 months. Inside the White House here, they reject that. They said, look, we inherited so many problems. They have sort of this big bang theory of government and to do a lot and get it done quickly to try to prevent the country from going up the cliff. But where they admit inside the White House some problems is that communication issue that we're hitting on and came out in that CNBC town hall meeting.

They acknowledge in the next two years they're going to have to do a much better job of communicating on what the president has gotten done. The American people have not been able to digest that. And that may help them heading into 2012, but maybe not so much into 2010 because there's been so much to digest.

As you saw from some of those voters, people who say they want -- they support President Obama, they're frustrated right now. And there's a lot of worry in the Democratic Party they're going to have that taken out on them in November. Maybe things will recover by 2012 for the president, but not for congressional Democrats, John.

ROBERTS: Ed Henry for us this morning at the White House. Ed, thanks.

HENRY: Thanks, John.

CHETRY: Well, it may not feel like it to many of you, but the people who study recessions for a living say that this one is over. But if it's really over, why do millions of Americans say it still feels like we're in a recession. Why is the unemployment rate still so high? Where are the jobs? We're going to talk about it coming up.

Sixteen-and-a-half minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Coming up on 20 minutes after the hour. Time for "Minding Your Business."

The worst recession since the Great Depression declared history, but that doesn't spell relief necessarily for the millions of Americans who are still struggling so hard just to make ends meet.

CHETRY: Yes. What's the disconnect between the technical measures and the reality on the ground?'s Poppy Harlow joins us now.

I mean, you were reporting last week about the new face of poverty.


CHETRY: How people are signing up at record numbers for benefits for needing, you know, government assistance. And yet we say the recession's over.

HARLOW: Right. This is only technical, let me put it that way. The only group of economists in this country that can declare a recession is over have done just that. They said this on Monday morning, the National Bureau of Economic Research. It's a nonprofit. It's been around since the '20s, came out and said, look, we think that the recession ended officially all the way back in June 2009.

Now, you have to think why did it take them more than a year to declare this? Well, they look at a lot of things. They look at GDP, the broadest measure of how our economy is growing. They look at salaries. They look at inventories. They look at industrial production, and they say it is June 2009 when this economy hit rock bottom. Since then it has recovered, but they also put a clause in there that's very important. They said they did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable. So what they're saying, John and Kiran, is it was the worst then, but we're not saying that it has improved dramatically since then.

That's really critical here. Why do you feel like it is still a recession? Here's why.

I want you to take a look at the unemployment numbers in this country. In June 2009 when the recession apparently ended, our unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. It went up to above 10 percent after that, and right now it's at 9.6 percent. So the unemployment rate in this country is now higher than it was when the recession officially ended.

Take a listen to Lakshman Achuthan. He's an economist, co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. He has a good point as to why you feel like we're still in a recession. Take a listen.


LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, CO-FOUNDER, ECONOMIC CYCLE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: The reason, the disconnect, I think, between anyone listening and saying, hey, it doesn't feel like a recovery, and what is this guy talking about --


ACHUTHAN: -- is that nine percent, only nine percent of the jobs lost in the private sector have been recovered. And so there's a big disparity where 70 percent of GDP has recovered, however, only nine percent of jobs has recovered.


HARLOW: He put it only nine percent of the jobs have been recovered. Take a look at your home prices. This is another reason why you don't feel like the recession is over. 2009 when the recession ended, 172,500, about fort median home price. A big drop there from where we were two years prior. We've only recovered a little bit. The median home price now $182,000. So see, jobs, housing, it's still pretty abysmal.

ROBERTS: What about the chances of a double-dip recession. The other economist, Robert Shiller, thinks that the third quarter of this year may, in fact, be the beginning of a double dip.

HARLOW: And he is the one who's in charge of that home price report. Exactly.

You know, it's interesting. Officially double-dip recessions don't necessarily happen. What this group of economists says is that if we see another recession, they will call it a new recession, even if it started, say, six months ago. So it's not technically a double dip. But we at CNN Money took a survey of 31 economists. And I want to show you what they think.

The majority of them think there's only a one in four chance, about 25 percent chance of a double-dip recession. Now, that's actually up from 15 percent who thought that that could happen six months ago. So the increased likelihood is there. That's what the economists we talked to said. But, you know, all of them seem to agree that high unemployment is here to stay. They also said consumers are concerned about their job, they're unsure about what's going to happen to their tax rate. They're unsure about what's going to happen to their tax rate and they're not sure that the administration has a handle on how to solve the crisis. So that's across the board in agreement among these economists.

What's the government doing to prevent a double dip? They're keeping rates incredibly low. The Fed has another meeting and decision on interest rates today. They will stay near zero. They're aiding states. They're aiding small businesses. But again, the chances, more likely not. But still, people feel like it. And that's the bottom line.

ROBERTS: All right. Poppy, thanks so much.

HARLOW: You got it.

ROBERTS: Hope for better news ahead.

More American parents than ever are pulling their kids out of school to educate them at home. Now parents in one American town are taking homeschooling to a whole new level. Carol Costello has got an "A.M. Original" coming right up.

Twenty-four minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 27 minutes past the hour right now. An "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

Homeschooling is apparently hot. In the last 10 years, the number of American kids being taught at home by their parents has nearly doubled.

ROBERTS: Many of those families say they simply have no choice claiming that their other options were either inadequate, unsafe, or both. Our Carol Costello live in Washington this morning with a trend that speaks volumes about our schools.

You know, I saw David Guggenheim's new documentary yesterday that's coming out very soon. And he really paints a bleak picture of the state of our schools and very little choices for parents who really want to get their kids a good education.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And these parents that I talked with in Oklahoma City, they're making their own choice. They're taking their kids out of public school and they're teaching them at home. So if you want an alternative to sending your kid to a public or private school, what about becoming your child's teacher? As in home schooling. It's not so unusual anymore. In fact, shadow home schools are popping up all over the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isabel, you're next. What card do you need?

COSTELLO (voice-over): It's not your normal classroom.


COSTELLO: And if you ask these parents, that's a good thing.

PASCHA FRANKLIN, HOMESCHOOLING PARENT: When your kids are saying I want to do this, and it's some kind of lesson, you smile. Because you're like, yes, they like learning.

COSTELLO: Pascha Franklin of Stillwater, Oklahoma is homeschooling her kids and they love it.

(on camera): Do you like being taught by your mom?



PARKER FRANKLIN: Because I get to be with my mommy.

COSTELLO: How does your mom make it fun to learn?

PARKER FRANKLIN: She does activities. Cool activities.

COSTELLO (voice-over): And it seems Parker is not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1.5 million kids are taught by mom and dad. That's up 74 percent since 1999.

(on camera): What do you think the biggest misconception people have of homeschoolers?

JESSICA HANNON, HOMESCHOOLING PARENT: Besides being weird and wearing your hair in buns and wearing denim jumpers? We're just like everybody else. We're not super moms. You know, it's a decision just like public school/private school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now what can you tell me about --

COSTELLO (voice-over): A lingering misconception is that the main reason most parents decide to home school is for religious reasons. That's not quite true anymore. Thirty-six percent of parents do homeschool primarily to teach their kids religious and moral values, but 38 percent homeschool because they don't like the school environment or the way teachers teach.

ALEX SOBRAL, HOMESCHOOLING PARENT: I mean, you have the flexibility.

COSTELLO: Just ask the Sobrals. They're homeschooling five children.

A. SOBRAL: Just you're taught that, you know, you have to go to, you know, a, b, and, c, and if you're not excelling here, you must have something wrong with you.

COURTENAY SOBRAL, HOMESCHOOLING PARENT: What we've learned now is it's very unnatural putting 20 children in a room learning with one teacher on the same schedule, the exact same material in the same way is actually quite unnatural.

COSTELLO: What is natural for these parents, homeschooling communities, in effect, shadow schools where their kids can socialize and parents can share learning techniques.

HANNON: There's more resources available today. You don't have to be a scholar, you know, to teach your children. There's tons or resources out there to help you.

COSTELLO: Like non-profit groups that provide an overall curriculum, for profit groups that provide weekly lesson plans for groups of parents. Still, that doesn't mean it's a cinch.

Laura Brodie wrote "Love in the Time of Homeschooling" after homeschooling her daughter for one year.

LAURA BRODIE, AUTHOR, "LOVE IN A TIME OF HOMESCHOOLING": We had a very good experience, a lot of successes but also a lot of fights and power struggles and I didn't find homeschooling both anywhere that were talking about that. They talked about the advantages of homeschooling, but not so much about the bad days.

COSTELLO: Or the fact homeschooling is a 24/7 job.

COURTNEY SOBRAL, HOMESCHOOLING PATIENT: Everything is educational and it's 365 days a year. And of course we take breaks, we have fun, we do watch cartoons. We don't just have a time where we turn learning on and learning off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we know where we get volcanic ash?

COSTELLO: But for a growing number of families, home schooling is the best way to raise, as these parents would say well-rounded kids who will not become just smart adults, but good people.


COSTELLO: Brodie is also concerned that many states don't require parents to have any training to teach their children although parents who home school wouldn't exactly be happy about the government interfering in the way they're raising and teaching their children. Still, Brodie says the best homeschoolers realize their limitations. If they can't teach physics or calculus, they must bring in trained professionals into their children's lives or form networks with other educators so their kids are getting the education they need to make it into college. John, Kiran?

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Fascinating. Very fascinating and it's doubled in the last decade. Amazing. Carol, thanks.


CHETRY: And if you'd like to weigh in on the story, it's on our blog this morning,

Meanwhile, it's 31 minutes past the hour. A chopper goes down in Afghanistan. NATO says it was a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan this morning that killed nine U.S. service members. That makes it now the deadliest year for coalition forces in Afghanistan.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: He may be the world's most controversial leader, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on deck at the United Nations this morning. The mothers of two American hikers still being held captive in Iran are hoping they'll have a chance to speak with Ahmadinejad this week.

CHETRY: And Delaware Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell is denying that she misused money from her last Senate run. But she did shy away from specifics when she was asked by our Gary Tuchman at a campaign forum last night.


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Why are you listening to a liberal organization in the first place? They're scared that the person that Harry Reid called his pet is not going to get the seat. The momentum surrounding this campaign is obvious. That's why they're creating baseless accusations.


O'DONNELL: I am confident that we have been ethical. We have not - I personally have not misused the campaign funds. And we have our FEC lawyer, a great attorney answering those charges if it ever goes anywhere.


CHETRY: A watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over checks that O'Donnell wrote months after her 2008 campaign ended. The O'Donnell campaign has not responded to our phone calls this morning, but again she said very confidently that the accusations will be dismissed as frivolous.

ROBERTS: Well, time now for the latest news from the best political team on television, crossing our political ticker this morning. A Senate showdown on don't ask, don't tell.

CHETRY: Today's the day that lawmakers are scheduled to vote on whether to begin debate on a bill that includes a repeal of the provision. And our senior political editor Mark Preston is live in Washington. And Mark, good morning, a lot of focus on Maine this morning as they talk about don't ask, don't tell.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: There sure is, Kiran, sure is, John. Look, too close to call. That's what our Dana Bash and Ted Barrett are reporting this morning. Democrats were hoping to try to get Maine's two senators to join them to help break a Republican filibuster.

In fact, Lady Gaga, the pop star went up to Maine yesterday to do a rally to try to put some pressure on these two Maine senators to join them to break this filibuster on the don't ask, don't tell military policy. However, we're hearing from these Maine senators that they will join their Republican colleagues because they're upset that Democratic leaders are not allowing full debate on the measure.

So, again, we'll find out a little bit later today when that vote occurs in the Senate. But moving on, talking about defense issues, Donald Rumsfeld, the former Defense secretary is going to come out with a tell-all memoir early next year. It's going to be called "Known and Unknown." And its publisher - his publisher is saying it's going to be filled with previously undisclosed details and insights about the Bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Surely going to be a must read at the beginning of the year.

And let's close it with this. Focus is on Alaska. Who would've thought we would have been talking about the Alaska Senate race just six weeks before the midterm elections? But we are. Joe Miller, the tea party favorite who defeated the Republican establishment favorite Lisa Murkowski is calling foul on his fellow Republicans saying that Lisa Murkowski broke her word by deciding to run as a write-in candidate. Of course, Murkowski said a couple days earlier on CNN that there was a smear campaign directed at her. So a lot going on in Alaska, Kiran, John.

ROBERTS: All right. So what was that statement that Rumsfeld made about knowns, there are known knowns, unknown knowns and knowns that we don't know now but we will know at some point but don't know what those are. I can't remember it exactly.

PRESTON: I think you're confusing me. It's still pretty early in the morning, John. But of course, that has to do with the war and it had to do with what he's using for his book to try to draw us in. But he says he's going to tell us things that we didn't know that was previously disclosed about Iraq and Afghanistan. So it's going to be really interesting to see what his thinking was when the Bush administration made the decision about Iraq and Afghanistan. John.

CHETRY: You're sure you're not talking about known gnomes?

PRESTON: Now you're really confusing me at this point.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks so much, Mark. We'll check in with you again in the next hour.

Now for the political latest, you can head to our web, as well,

ROBERTS: Sticking with politics, are moderate Republicans being forced out of the Republican Party? What does it mean for the future of the GOP? We'll talk with South Carolina Republican congressman, Bob Inglis, coming up, next. It's 36 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: 39 minutes after the hour. Christine O'Donnell's improbable win in Delaware is sending shock waves through the Republican Party. O'Donnell is just one of several tea party success stories who GOP establishment folks say is threatening the very existence of the moderate Republican.

Our next guest is a Republican congressman who has been speaking out against the tea party since he his June primary to one of their candidates.

Congressman Bob Inglis is from South Carolina, he joins us live from Washington this morning. Congressman, great to see you this morning. Do you believe that moderates are being forced out of the Republican Party?

REP. BOB INGLIS (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, not so much moderates. Surely maybe they're unwelcome, but also conservatives of the optimistic sort. I think this would be a tough time for Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. They were optimists that believe in America. Right now, unfortunately, conservatism is being presented with a voice of snarling rather than a face of smiling, and it really doesn't fit America, I think, is the challenge.

ROBERTS: Do you believe there are no optimists in the tea party?

INGLIS: Well, I think what we've got is a lot of fear, some very fearful people. And some leaders who are scared of the fearful people. And the result is that a great deal of fear is out there rather than leadership that says sure we've got challenges. But we're Americans, and we're going to get through it. And we've got great days ahead of us. That's the kind of leadership that I hope we'll get.

ROBERTS: Congressman, a couple of things you say about the tea party. What you call the small government movement in recent days that I want to share with the audience at home. You said that first of all, the small government movement is elevating "flame throwers" over legislators. They also say "What we are seeing these days is so much misleading. They say one outlandish thing after another about the president and that gives license to others to say even worse things." Of course, election year rhetoric is always charged. Is this really anything different this year?

INGLIS: Well, here's the thing. I don't think we build our party by distraction and we don't serve our country by division. The key here is to pull together as Americans and to build on truth, especially to build a conservative movement, a credible conservative movement, build it on truth.

The truth is that the president is not a Muslim. He's - he was born in America. And he is not a socialist. He is left of center, I'm right of center. And, in fact, he might say very right of center. But that's OK. We can have a debate about real facts. We don't need to going making up things because as time goes on, that gets embarrassing when you're found out to have built something on false information and on scapegoats rather than solutions. The customer turns away and says you've got nothing for me because you're not delivering a solution. ROBERTS: Congressman, during your election campaign or during the primary campaign, rather, you resisted saying some of the more charged things about the president that your opponent was. Do you think that hurt you?

INGLIS: Oh, yes. I mean, people wanted me to say - calling me a socialist every other day. But you know, the ninth commandment should constrain us. It says "don't bear false witness against your neighbor." That's a conservative principle and that is something that we are social issues conservatives as well as economic issue conservatives should be evidencing in our campaigns.

And so we don't go around saying those things because it's not true. It's also not true that he's a Muslim. It's not true that he wants to take over as a dictator. These things - we need to get rid of these things so that we can build on credible, solid information. We do that, we can build a credible, conservative movement in this country that shows that free enterprise and family are the solutions we're looking for.

ROBERTS: Congressman, what are your thoughts on Christine O'Donnell who is a conservative. She's the Republican nominee in Delaware. Some establishment conservatives like Karl Rove are saying she says a lot of nutty things, she has a checkered past. She's not a candidate that's going to win for us.

INGLIS: Well, I'm concerned because, you know, the things that I read, I don't know her personally. I hope it works out, and that some of these things that are reported don't turn out to be correct. But I think it's, again, very important that we be credible. And have candidates that don't - don't run in front of the flame throwers. That's a reference earlier we've got these hot microphones that want to charge up the fearful crowd and have them run toward the cliff. And if we get leaders looking at their shoulders saying you don't know the half of it, if you knew what I knew, you'd really be frightened.

ROBERTS: Now, candidates like Christine O'Donnell hold the position that the Republican Party over the last decade has gotten way off track. And they're just trying to put it back on track.

INGLIS: Yes. Well, I think that we surely did get off track in the years that we had the majority. And we didn't balance the budget. That's for sure. That's correct. But here's the thing, there's a structural deficit. It's Medicare, Medicaid, social security. At 60 percent of what we spend now rising to 90 percent in 2050, that's a structural challenge.

That's where America needs a solution. We don't need scapegoats. We don't need to blame that on the president. It's not his fault. In fact, he's just been president for two years. This thing's been decades in the coming. So let's come together as Americans. I've got enemies, they're Al Qaeda, they're Taliban, they're not the Democrats, they're my countrymen. They're often wrong, but we can have a debate about how to get that done. We happen to believe as conservatives it's free enterprise that's going to fix that and reliance on family.

ROBERTS: Congressman Bob Inglis, it's good to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.

INGLIS: Good to be with you.


CHETRY: Well, still ahead, we're talking about scattered storms that could pop up in the Midwest. Some unseasonably warm temperatures in the south. Rob Marciano is also busy tracking Lisa in the Atlantic and a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean. We'll get a check on the weather for you when we come back. 45 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Pretty morning in Houston. Beautiful out there. Right now it's 74. Some showers. A little bit later, though, they're expecting some thunderstorms, looking for a high of 84 degrees today. In Houston, Texas.

ROBERTS: Rob Marciano here tracking your travel forecast across the country and some areas of the country hot, some not so much.


CHETRY: Coming up, Rob is going without the "Weather Warriors," as they're called. The Elite Weather Commandos that are right there in tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan where getting a forecast wrong could be deadly.

ROBERTS: Plus, Lady Gaga taking the stage and taking a stand saying "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" the wrong. The pop star's political act as the Senate decides whether to open debate on the policy.

CHETRY: Also, is greed still good? The former sheriff of Wall Street is here to talk about it all. Eliot Spitzer on the new Wall Street movie and the end of the great recession, even though it doesn't feel like it. Those stories and much more at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: 54 minutes after the hour. Time for your AM House Call, stories about your health. A report out today calls Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia an epidemic and the financial burden is nothing short of crushing. Worldwide, the costs associated with dementia will be over $600 billion this year. That's one percent of the world's gross domestic product. And by 2030, those costs are projected to increase by 85 percent.

Joining us from Washington on what is World Alzheimer's Day. Harry John. He's the president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association.

Harry, great to see you this morning. Thank you so much for joining us.

HARRY JOHSN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION: Thank you. ROBERTS: You look at the impact of Alzheimer's disease, you know, financial and on caregivers -- and I know that you are one yourself. It's already staggering. And as the population ages, it's going to be dramatic worse.

JOHNS: It's only going to increase as a result, as you say, of the aging of the population in America and worldwide. Alzheimer's is not normal aging, as I know you realize, John, but it is the biggest risk factor of Alzheimer's and it's going to drive those numbers substantially. Today, in America, we have an estimated 5.3 million people that have the disease, and that's going to go as high as 16 million by the middle of the century if we can't change the course of the disease.

ROBERTS: Now, we have had some encouraging news lately on the diagnostic front, some new tests, some spinal taps and analyses that may give us an indication earlier than ever as to exactly who may develop Alzheimer's disease. But it's been frustratingly slow in terms of developing any kind of -- I don't want to say cure -- but even treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

JOHNS: It's true, John. We have seen great progress in science, as you indicated, particularly in the diagnostics, recently. The Alzheimer's Association and others working on that together in a collaborative fashion with the National Institutes on Aging and the industry. We've made great progress there. But we do need to see treatments.

Today we don't have a treatment that stops or even slows the progress of the disease, even though we do have treatments that are improvements for people's functional lives. So we've got to invest more in research to make a difference in that in time, for this baby boomer generation that is going to have at least 10 million people have the disease themselves.

ROBERTS: A group of Alzheimer's researchers recently arrived on Capitol Hill after taking a cross country bicycle ride to raise awareness and get people to sign a petition hoping for 50,000 names on the petition. You got 100,000 signatures.

What is this project all about? What are you hoping to do?

JOHNS: The Alzheimer's Association's Breakthrough Ride encompasses a number of researchers who are out there riding their bikes, they're riding into Washington, D.C this morning, to deliver actually, as you said, 100,000 signatures indicating that the American public believes that Alzheimer's should be the kind of national priority that we need to advance the research and get those treatments you discussed.

Today, research for Alzheimer's is terribly underfunded. We spend $6 billion on cancer, $4 billion for heart disease, $3 billion for HIV/AIDS. These are all great investments, they've returned positively in lives saved. But Alzheimer's; $469 million is that's being spent at the federal level and we need to change that as rapidly as possible as this baby boomer generation ages. ROBERTS: You know, Harry, we talk about the toll that this takes on the patient but as well there's a huge toll on the caregiver. My dear sister, God bless her, she was the primary caregiver for my mom who passed away earlier this year. And I know that you are a caregiver, as well.

Talk, if you would, very briefly about the toll that this disease takes, not only the person but on the people around them.

JOHNS: As you say, John, the toll on the human side is immense. Caregivers themselves wind up terribly stressed. They wind up giving up not only out of pocket costs but their time and all of their heart. In fact, there is at least one study that indicates that for caregivers who are spouses, that they can actually predecease the individual they're caring for who has Alzheimer's, as a result of the stress.

ROBERTS: Wow. Well, it's tremendous work that you're doing there at the Alzheimer's Association. We wish you luck in the future and good to have you on this morning, too, Harry, on the World's Alzheimer's Day to try to raise a little more awareness for the cause.

Really appreciate it.

JOHNS: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Top stories coming your way right after the break. Stay with us.