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American Morning

Perry's Campaign Offensive; Obama on Perry: "I'll Cut Him Some Slack"; Giuliani to Enter 2012 Race?; Lightning Strike at Sea World; Firecrackers Found on Southwest Flight; U.K. Phone Hacking Scandal; Vegas Hotel Deemed Unsafe; Obama Talks Jobs; Perry Vs. Bernanke; Lightning Strike At SeaWorld; Defense Contactor Charged

Aired August 17, 2011 - 06:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Carter Evans, thanks so much. AMERICAN MORNING continues right now.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Campaign swagger. I'm Ali Velshi. Fighting words from Texas Governor Rick Perry, he's challenging the president and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. It's an offensive getting the Republican candidate a lot of notice.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. President Obama is firing back at the GOP newcomer urging Republicans to put the country's economic needs ahead of their own political interests. We have the president's exclusive CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer.

COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Out of the mouths of candidates, Michele Bachmann tried to lead a happy birthday tribute to the king of rock and roll, but her Elvis facts are all shook up, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

VELSHI: Good morning. It is Wednesday, August the 17th. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. Gosh, the election is just months away.

ROMANS: I know.

VELSHI: Feels like it? It's a year and months away. But the amount that's going on right now, you would think we have an election -- we have some in November, but we have a presidential election.

ROMANS: The caucuses aren't until it's winter, until snow on the ground.

COSTELLO: At least it's been entertaining.

ROMANS: That's true. Up first, Texas Governor Rick Perry on the attack in New Hampshire. Perry's hit the ground running and he's hitting President Obama hard, calling his handling of the economy a disaster.

He's not backing down from his verbal assault in Iowa this week on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Here's what Governor Perry said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this guy prints more money, between now and the election, I don't know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we'd -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. I mean, printing more money, to play politics at this particular time in American history, is almost treasonous in my opinion.


ROMANS: This morning, Governor Perry is headlining the politics and eggs breakfast in New Hampshire. CNN senior political editor Mark Preston is covering that event. He joins us live from Bedford.

The Texas governor, I'm telling you, he's backing up his comments about Bernanke. He's not going to back off from them. What do you make of it, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, Christine, he certainly is a straight shooter. You know, he's from Texas and kind of has that swagger. You know, his campaign has only been less than a week old.

This is his second trip to New Hampshire. I think it shows us a couple things. One, it shows us that he's not going to back down and he'll stick by what he has to say. You know, another thing is that this is going to play well with a certain part of the Republican base.

However, he has to be a little bit concerned because comments like this could, now I say could, get independents and moderate Republicans to maybe take a second look at him and not necessarily a good second look at him, Christine.

ROMANS: Mark, I want to be clear here, the fed has just said in a very historic statement that it was going to keep interest rates very low through 2013. That's through the election and beyond.

Essentially saying, we're out of it from here on out, we're going to keep interest rates low. So, I'm not sure that the fed has made any move that Governor Perry should be exactly focusing on, but you're right about the moderates and the independents who have been saying, what's the fed going to do?

The fed is out of the game. You know, there are business owners who are saying we need more from the fed. Anyway, Governor Perry is backtracking on, however, one of the most controversial decisions he made as a Texas governor.

This is a 2007 executive order that mandated the HPV vaccine, Gardasil that was made by the drug maker, Merck, be given to sixth grade girls. Listen to what he said in New Hampshire over the weekend.


PERRY: The HPV, Human Pamplona Virus -- and I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt out, but the fact of the matter is, I didn't do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry.


ROMANS: So, what do you make of that?

PRESTON: Well, you know, the fact of the matter is, again, only a week old, and he's finally realizing that people are going to start looking at his record with a fine-tooth comb. You know, people are going to start going down to Texas.

They're going to start going through everything that he has done. But I will have to say this, any act of contrition usually is accepted by the American people, so him getting out in front of this right now is actually very smart politically.

As far as what we'll hear from him on the campaign trail, I was talking to one of his top advisors last night, we're going to hear him talk about three things, jobs, jobs, jobs.

It's all about the economy. That's what he wants to focus on. In fact, that's what we're hearing from Mitt Romney. Quite frankly that's what we're hearing from President Obama, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Mark Preston. Thanks so much, Mark. The treacherous treasonous comment --

VELSHI: Ron Paul really doesn't like the fed and he's been talking about it for a long time. There's a line between not liking what the fed does and calling treasonous. There's no basis in any law for what Rick Perry is talking about.

COSTELLO: Treason is a crime in the constitution and it's punishable by death.

VELSHI: Yes. He got a little far out on that.

ROMANS: Don't you read its fed was stepping back from the political game trying to stay out of it?

VELSHI: I'm not getting that far. Why would you call it treasonous? What's it got to do with treason? You may not like what they do, but they are entitled within the law to do it.

ROMANS: If he were elected president, do you think he would not cooperate with the fed chairman of the United States of America?

COSTELLO: I think that Ben Bernanke is in for another year if --

VELSHI: They always overlap fed terms so that it's not political.

COSTELLO: So Governor Rick Perry is going to succeed from the fed.

VELSHI: Good luck with that.

COSTELLO: On the subject of President Obama, he's wrapping up his three day bus tour, three Midwest states that he will need to get re-elected in 2012. After stops in Minnesota and Iowa, the president will be talking about jobs again today in his home state of Illinois.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the president talked about the Republicans who want to take his job, specifically the last man into the race.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, Republican presidential candidate now, says the men and women of the United States military wants someone whose worn the uniform, he said he served in the Air Force. Do you see a comment like that, that he makes referring to you, as disrespectful to the commander in chief?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, Mr. Perry just got in the presidential race and I think that everybody who runs for president probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say. But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it a few days now.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney says corporations are people. Does he have a point?

OBAMA: Well, if you tell me that corporations are vital to American life, that the free enterprise system has been the greatest wealth creator that we've ever seen, that there -- corporate CEOs and folks working in our large companies that are creating incredible products and services and that is all to the benefit of the United States of America, that I absolutely agree with.

If, on the other hand, you tell me that every corporate tax break that's out there is somehow good for ordinary Americans, that we have a tax code that's fair, that asking oil and gas companies, for example, not to get special exemptions that other folks don't get and that if we're closing those tax loopholes somehow that is going to hurt America, then that I disagree with.

I think that, you know, corporations serve important benefit, but ultimately we've got to look at what's good for ordinary people, how do we create jobs, how do we create economic growth and a lot of the special interest legislation we see in Washington isn't benefiting ordinary people.

BLITZER: What do you think of that Republican field ling up to challenge you?

OBAMA: You know, I haven't been giving it too much thought. I'll let them dwindle it down a little bit. When they decide who they want their standard bearer to be, I'll be ready for them. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Coming up at 6:30 Eastern, President Obama talks to Wolf Blitzer about his new plan for job growth. The big plan and why he's waiting until September to unveil that plan.

VELSHI: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani still deciding whether to consider a second bid for the Republican nomination. Giuliani was the early frontrunner, if you recall, during the 2008 election.

But his campaign fizzled when he decided to skip the early primaries in order to focus on Florida. Now appearing on "PIERS MORGAN" last night Giuliani insisted he will make a decision on whether to run in the next six weeks.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Are you feeling more inclined to run now or less inclined?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I don't think I've changed my thinking about it very much. I'm interested to see Governor Perry's entrance into the race and what that does and what he has to say. Pretty much my timeline is to decide at the end of September, but I haven't gotten any closer to a decision.


VELSHI: Now when asked who he would support if he doesn't run, Giuliani refused to commit saying, there are, quote, "a lot of good people."

ROMANS: A victory for Democrats as they hold on to two State Senate seats in another Wisconsin recall election. Yesterday's vote was the last in the series of special elections after a really bruising battle over new laws that cracked down on unions and their right to collective bargaining.

Last week Republicans won back four of six Senate seats in a recall election. Democrats picked up the other two. A victory for Republicans there, but that was not enough to take back power in the State Senate for the Democrats.

COSTELLO: It was a terrifying afternoon for visitors and employees at Orlando Sea World. Lightning hit the ground at the discovery cove attraction. Five staff members and three guests were reportedly hurt. They are expected to be OK because no one took a direct hit, but for many, the storm was way too close for comfort.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told us to clear the pool, so we came out of the pool and we were sheltering underneath and then there's a huge crack. I've never been scared by lightning until today because it was right above us. It was really, really scary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of lucky I didn't get hit.


COSTELLO: I bet he does. The lightning storm passed quickly. People were back on the rides and in the water a short time later.

VELSHI: All right. Fire crackers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight, officials want to know how they got there. The plane was getting ready to leave Las Vegas for Kansas City yesterday.

A flight attendant found the bag of fire crackers stashed under a seat. Passengers were taken off the plane. Agents screened all the luggage again. After an hour the plane was declared safe and took off for Kansas City.

ROMANS: New documents released by Britain's parliament casting doubt on the testimony of James Murdoch. The son of Rupert Murdoch claims he was not aware of an e-mail detailing 35 conversations that were hacked by News Corp reporters.

But a document from a former lawyer for the company says James Murdoch did know about the e-mail. Murdoch may now be asked to testify before parliament again.

COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question this morning, is heckling good for our political discourse?

Let's face it. Election 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the political flash mob. Liberal hecklers scored when they challenged Republican Mitt Romney.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes -- of course, they are.


COSTELLO: Boy, did it work. The Democratic National Committee turned the heckling into an ad.


ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes -- of course, they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In their pocket.


COSTELLO: Not to be outdone, Iowa Tea Party Chairman Ryan Rhodes confronted President Obama.


RYAN RHODES, IOWA TEA PARTY CHAIRMAN: When you're talking about civility, how is your vice president calling us terrorists?

OBAMA: Look, sir --

RHODES: I would like to understand that.

OBAMA: OK. I will explain it right now. He did not call you guys terrorists.


COSTELLO: Does it make you wonder, University of Virginia politico Larry Sabato told me we're moving into a confrontational society. We don't want to listen to C-span, that's too boring instead we make our decisions based on political flash mobs.

Maybe he added, politicians are judged how well they respond to hecklers not how well they explain their policies. Sabato says we could end up with baseball-style brawls at campaign rallies when everybody jumps on top of one another. Wouldn't that be fun?

I exaggerate, but you never know. So the talk back question today, is heckling good for our political discourse? I'll read your comments later this hour.

ROMANS: Like a dugout-clearing brawl about how to account for tax loopholes.

VELSHI: Nobody has thrown a punch.


VELSHI: We're still just heckling, which is an age-old tradition. I think maybe people are taking their cue from the fact that normal discourse doesn't work in Washington. So you yell a little louder.

ROMANS: And we live in a Youtube world where people heckling are hoping that is going to live forever on someone's cell phone camera and be able to rile up the base.

COSTELLO: But the problem is, those who are heckling really don't want to hear the answer. They want to a got cha moment so it appears on Youtube and just sort of like fuels this thing out there. That's not really political discourse or wanting really to find out what the candidate thinks. It's just see that person is wrong and I told you so.

VELSHI: We would love to hear your comments on it. Looking forward to what you all have to say.

Coming up ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, see how Michele Bachmann flubbed a campaign stop tribute to Elvis Presley.

ROMANS: And it looks good on the outside, but why this new hotel in the Las Vegas strip may be torn down before it ever opens.

COSTELLO: And the "Jersey Shore" cast catching flack. Why Aber Cromby and Fitch want them to stop wearing their stuff. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.



A tense six-day police standoff in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is now over. William Sturdivant surrendered yesterday afternoon. He climbed a radio tower last Thursday.

Police say he was trying to avoid being arrested for trespassing in a nearby building. Sturdivant was taken to the hospital. Cops say he hasn't had food or water in four days and has a history of mental illness.

COSTELLO: The City of Las Vegas calls this hotel a public health hazard. The 26-story Harmon Hotel hasn't even opened yet and it already has a slew of structural problems. City officials worry it wouldn't be able to withstand an earthquake.

The owner, MGM Resorts International, is now considering hiring a demolition crew to knock the thing down.


GORDON ABSHER, MGM SPOKESMAN: The most valuable thing to us would have been to have Harmon built properly, opened as a thriving attractive part of City Center right at the gateway to City Center. What we have right now is 26 floors of glass, steel and concrete that has been deemed a potential threat to public safety.



ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) or something.

VELSHI: Oh, my gosh.

COSTELLO: That's a big, big, big mistake. Officials say it would take 18 months just to assess what repairs are needed and that means it could take years to finish the project if, of course, work ever resumes.

ROMANS: Wow. Imagine the losses.

VELSHI: How that get (INAUDIBLE)? That's incredible.

ROMANS: Imagine -- I mean, I bet there are lawsuits -- suing the lawsuits -- suing the lawsuits on that. All right. "Jersey Shore" star Mike "The Situation," you know, may be getting paid to take his clothes off, not -- not the way you think -- Carol. It's a little early in the morning to think of that.

Abercrombie & Fitch is offering "The Sitch" (ph) and the rest of the cast a substantial amount of money to stop wearing their brand on air. It's sort of negative. They're worried the hard partying cast is -- is ruining their brand's image.


ROMANS: Now, exactly how much the company has offered hasn't been revealed. But, certainly --

VELSHI: I find that fascinating given the way Abercrombie & Fitch advertises. I mean, ruining the brand because you're hard partying and got rock solid bodies, isn't that, you know, kind of the vibe that they give off?

COSTELLO: Kind of snooty kind of a story, you know? Where like --

VELSHI: I guess that's it.

COSTELLO: -- upper class teens go to get their clothes -- actually preteens.

VELSHI: That's expensive stuff, you know, compared to what it is. So --


VELSHI: -- I guess they feel "The Sitch" --

ROMANS: Rob Marciano, has anybody ever offered you money not to wear your preteen fashion that I know you love to wear on the weekends?

VELSHI: The tank top you always wear.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Listen, you know, the guinea T's always a popular item in the Marciano household on the weekends for sure.

Good morning, guys. You may want to -- you may want to wear that if you live in Shreveport. Look at the high temperature yesterday, a record high of 107. Yes, they were wearing it. You bet. One-oh-seven -- 105 in Texarkana; Longview, Texas, 106 for record high; and Houston tied at 102 and New Iberia, Louisiana (INAUDIBLE) 98 degrees. And some of these spot are near them. We had some lightning strikes as well and that caused some grass fires.

Kauffman County, Texas, South and East of Dallas, seeing a little bit of that action yesterday. Not too big of a deal, but the fire department had to get out there and beat back the flames. And this has been an ongoing issue as you can imagine across Texas because of the heat and the drought that's ongoing, exceptional in some spots.

We'll see more in the way of heat today across the entire Lone Star State. This little weak front will push off to the east and finally the rains are over across the northeast. Florida, though, you'll see more in the way of thunderstorms in the afternoon. So Miami, Tampa and Orlando will be the suspect airports this afternoon and some morning fog and clouds in San Francisco.

Watching this thing, guys, Central Caribbean, likely to become something here in the next couple days as it heads towards the Yucatan Peninsula. It may very well get in the Gulf of Mexico. Is so, that may be a problem. We'll keep you posted.

Back to you, guys.

COSTELLO: I hope not. Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right.

COSTELLO: Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, a happy ending to a terrifying ordeal. How a neighbor was able to stop a 6-year-old girl from being kidnapped in Albuquerque.

VELSHI: And what NBA star Kobe Bryant is accused of doing to another man in church. We'll tell you about that. We'll show it to you when we come back. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

It's 21 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: "Minding Your Business" this morning.

U.S. stock futures are trading slightly lower ahead of today's open that as most of the markets in Asia closed with moderate losses. Right now, European markets are trading lower with Germany's stock market down a little more than one percent.

Google's stock is downgraded by Standard & Poor's to a sell recommendation that after the Internet giant announced a $12.5 million purchase of Motorola Mobility and analysts from S&P says the acquisition poses, quote, "a greater risk to the company and its stock." Shares in Google fell more than three percent on that news Tuesday.

Verizon reportedly putting its 45,000 striking workers on notice. Return to work by the end of the month or risk losing your health insurance and medical benefits. That's according to the "Wall Street Journal." Union workers walked off the job 10 days ago to protest cuts to their benefits.

Newly released ACT scores used for college admissions shows student who may not be ready to succeed in their studies. "The Washington Post" says only one in four graduates who took the ACT in 2011 met four key benchmarks used to measure readiness in the first year of college. Only one in four. And there are growing cries to ditch the penny, that's because the coin costs more to make than it's actually worth. Last year, the U.S. mint lost $42.6 million making pennies and nickels because of rising metal costs.

AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after this quick break.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Are you awake yet? It's 29 minutes past the hour. Time to check your top stories.

Texas Governor Rick Perry ramping up his GOP presidential campaign with a relentless assault on President Obama's economic policies and Perry is not backing down from his comments about one of the administration's economic gurus, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Perry said it would be treasonous for Bernanke to try to stimulate the economy by printing more money.

VELSHI: Two Democratic state senators in Wisconsin will keep their seats. They defeated their Republican challengers in a special recall election yesterday. The vote was in response to the bitter fight over new laws that crackdown on unions and their right to collective bargaining.

ROMANS ANCHOR: A very close call at Orlando's Sea World. Lightning hit the ground at the Discovery Cove attraction there yesterday. Five staff members and three guests were reportedly hurt. Five people in all taken to the hospital. They are expected, though, to be OK.

COSTELLO: President Obama's three day bus tour through America's heartland makes its final stop in Illinois this morning. The focus: jobs.

During an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer the president said political paralysis has stunted the nation's economic growth and he blames that on his Republican opponents but insists he has a plan.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": You are going to release a major new jobs program, you say, in September. Here's the question: what's taken so long?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the truth is, everything we have done has been related to jobs, starting back with the Recovery Act. And that's the reason why we have seen over 2 million jobs created over the last 17 months in the private sector.

But what's happened is that, number one, you have seen a lot of layoffs at state and local government. And that has been an impediment to the kind of robust job growth that we'd like to -- we'd like to see; and there have been some headwinds over the last six months, you know, Japan's tsunami, the European debt crisis, what happened in terms of the Arab Spring that raised gas prices for consumers, so --

BLITZER: So, give us a preview what you're going to do in September.


OBAMA: Well, look, there are some things that we've been talking about on this trip that we could do right away that are already pending before Congress.

We know that what we did in December by cutting the payroll tax so that the average family gets an extra thousand dollars in their pocket makes a huge difference, not only for their purchasing power, but also businesses having more customers and being able to hire.

We've continued to renew tax breaks for businesses that are willing to move up investments that they're planning into 2011, and we'd like to renew some of those for 2012.

Trade deals with Korea and Panama and Colombia, we know can create tens of thousands of jobs here in the United States.

So, there are a number of things that we've already got pending before Congress, and what I have been saying to crowds all across the country -- it's been getting a good reception -- is what they want to see is Democrats and Republicans putting country before party, and going ahead and taking action in terms of move the economy forward as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: But you've got something much more ambitious in mind for this September. There's been reports you want to create a new department of jobs, something along those lines. Is that true?

OBAMA: You know, that is not true.

But what is true is that I think we missed an opportunity a month ago when we could have dealt with our debt and deficit in a serious, balanced way that would have avoided these huge gyrations in the financial markets, given businesses a lot of confidence that Washington had its fiscal house in order, and included in that, because of the savings that we'd be getting over the next 10, 20 years, more efforts on the front end to spur job creation.

And given that Congress failed to act, the grand bargain that I was trying to cut with John Boehner didn't happen, we're going to take one more run at Congress, and we're going to say to them, look, here is a comprehensive approach that gets our debt and deficits under control and also accelerates job growth right now.


COSTELLO: Coming up at the top of the hour, the president tells Wolf Blitzer he is accountable for the economy and that, quote, "the buck stops with me."

VELSHI: Michele Bachmann is on her own bus tour, campaigning across South Carolina after her win in the Iowa straw poll. She had a bit of a stumble at a campaign stop yesterday, leading the crowd in a birthday tribute to Elvis Presley. But it wasn't his birthday. It was the anniversary of his death.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before we get started, let's all say happy birthday to Elvis Presley today. Happy birthday! We played you a little bit of promise land when we pulled up. You can't do better than Elvis Presley. We thought we'd celebrate his birthday as we get started the celebrating take our country back tour!


VELSHI: Yes. I have to tell you, the part I like about Michele Bachmann, she reminds me of -- even if she's going to get it wrong, she's enthusiastic about it.

Bachmann's response to the Elvis gaffe will make her spin doctors proud. She said, "As far as we're concerned, he's still alive in our hearts."

And we should say, she plays Elvis tunes a lot at her event. She's actually a big Elvis fan.

COSTELLO: Even if he's alive in our hearts and maybe he's alive somewhere, because a lot of think, but it's not his birthday.

VELSHI: Why do you have to be so particular? Wasn't she enthusiastic? Didn't you feel like it was Elvis's birthday?

COSTELLO: I did. I wanted to sing happy birthday.

ROMANS: What if someone 21-year-old aide happened to mention we're playing Elvis because it's his birthday. You know? I mean, I'm not --

VELSHI: It was interesting. But she was enthusiastic, right? Give her that.


VELSHI: I would like her to point out my birthday sometime with that degree of enthusiasm.

COSTELLO: Hopefully not the anniversary of your death.

VELSHI: I won't complain, people wish me happy birthday. I'm fine.

ROMANS: You have to have a few number one hits that change the music industry and world before we do that.

All right. This morning back to school for thousands of students in Joplin, Missouri. Their first day comes 12 weeks after a tornado threw that -- tore through that city, killing more than 130 people. Because the high school was destroyed, the city's ninth and tenth graders will go to an existing middle school and upper classmen will go to school in a converted department store at a local mall.

And thanks to a donation from the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, every high school student will get a new laptop.

VELSHI: You know, back when this happened, I was down there -- one of the things that the phones around there were saying was that we know long term everything will be fine -- I mean, this is America and they will fix everything. It's the very short term. They need to make sure there are schools there f not families will move away and the rebuilding takes longer.

So, it's such a big deal that school is getting started back again in Joplin.

Well, a country music group Sugarland is planning a private memorial for the victims of the deadly stage collapse over the weekend at the Indiana state fair. The band was just minutes away from performing when a sudden burst of wind knocked down the scaffolding.

And this morning, new audio is emerging of a warning that was given to the audience just as the band was preparing to take the stage. Listen.


ANNOUNCER: As you can see to the west, there are some clouds. We are all hoping for the best that the weather is going to bypass us, but there is a very good chance that it won't. Once the storm passes and everything is safe, we are going to try our best to come back and resume the show which we have every belief that that is going to happen.


VELSHI: A New York engineering firm has been hired to investigate the stage collapse. Five people were killed. State fair officials say they will make the findings of the investigation public.

COSTELLO: Nine-eleven first responders are not invited to next month's ceremony commemorating the terror attacks at Ground Zero. New York City says there's just not enough room. Only the families of 9/11 victims and some lawmakers will attend. Thousands of firefighters, police officers and rescue workers risked their lives in the 9/11 search and rescue efforts, but they will have to settle for their own ceremony at a later date.

VELSHI: Which is, you know, sort of just reminds us how many people were involved in this. It's family of people who were killed. So, even survivors who weren't killed aren't getting invited.


ROMANS: There will be first responders there because fire fighting and the police work and port authority, such a family business. But you're right, the first responders will not --

COSTELLO: It's not the same.

ROMANS: You're right.

VELSHI: All right. The estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong has apparently committed suicide. That word from Los Angeles police. They say Russell Armstrong's body was found in the bedroom of the home where the reality star had been crashing after his wife filed for divorce and claimed that he abused her. Russell's lawyers say his client suffered from depression.

COSTELLO: A would-be kidnapper foiled, chased down by a neighbor who saw him force a 6-year-old into his van. Albuquerque police say the suspect was being chased by the Good Samaritan when he crashed and then ran off. That's when the neighbor rescued the girl. She told police she fought back and bit the suspect's hand.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: She had injuries on her. She was bruised and banged up. Her shirt was ripped.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I think that should give people a lot of hope that there are people that are willing to do the right thing.


COSTELLO: That's awesome.

Police later captured and charged the suspect with kidnapping and child abuse. He is identified as 29-year-old Philip Garcia.

VELSHI: NBA star Kobe Bryant is denying allegations he attacked another man in church last Sunday. According to the police, the Lakers star thought 21-year-old star Thomas Hagos was taking pictures of him with his cell phone so he took it away. No pictures turned up and cops say Bryant left. Hagos filed a police report claiming he suffered a sprained wrist and an attorney for Bryant calls the claim baseless.

ROMANS: OK. May be one of the hardest things to do in baseball, turning a triple play. Now, we've seen two of them in back- to-back nights. The Boston Red Sox did it last night going around the horn, third to second to first against Tampa Bay. The last time the Sox turned three -- wow, 17 years ago.

The night before, the Milwaukee Brewers turned a more unconventional triple play in a game against the Dodgers. The Dodgers that night also hit into four double plays.

In all, there have three triple plays in the Majors this season.

COSTELLO: I love seeing that. Good defense is exciting.

Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING: job applications that stand out for all the wrong reasons. We'll tell you what not to do when you're looking to get hired.

VELSHI: Yes, I'm looking forward to this.

Plus, why rocker Gene Simmons can kiss his chance to perform at a Michael Jackson tribute concert goodbye. Coming up next.

It's 40 minutes after the hour.


VELSHI: America's birth rate has fallen fast. According to the National Center for Health, the number of births across the country dropped to 4 million last year. That's a 10 percent drop since 2007. Many experts feel the economic downturn is to blame.

What's that mean? Does that mean people are having fewer babies because --

ROMANS: Can't afford it.

VELSHI: -- they don't think they can afford it?

COSTELLO: I think people are having less children in general.

VELSHI: Right.

COSTELLO: I think it's been a trend over many, many years.

ROMANS: When you look at the demographics as a country gets richer and a country gets more education, people spend more years working and spend --

VELSHI: Smart, rich people don't like kids?

ROMANS: No, I think they like kids --

COSTELLO: No, most people are getting married when they're older, right?

VELSHI: Right.

COSTELLO: And many, many people are not getting married at all.


ROMANS: That's true. I think this is the highest percentage of unmarried people that we've ever seen in this country, which is interesting.

COSTELLO: There you have it.

VELSHI: Next, you're going to tell me they're all living in sin.


VELSHI: On to other matters.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about KISS because, boy, did it get the big kiss off. The rock band has been dropped from the Michael Jackson tribute concert in Wales this October, only one day after the rockers were signed on, that's because Jackson fans were absolutely outraged, some even planned to boycott the show because they say KISS front man Gene Simmons criticized Michael Jackson after his 2009 death, accusing him of being a child predator.

ROMANS: OK. You know, this other song "YMCA," it's at the center of a copyright battle. The original lead singer of the Village People has filed a claim, the whole crew doing the "YMCA" (INAUDIBLE).

He wants to take back control of his share of that song next year. The two companies who own the song's publishing rights claim he was only a writer for hire. He doesn't own it.

VELSHI: Interesting.

All right. Rob Marciano, it's one of his favorite songs. He's in the extreme weather center. Hello, Rob.


VELSHI: Everybody likes it, everybody tells you they don't put it down on their list of favorite songs but it's like Neil Diamond and ABBA. It's everybody's favorite.

MARCIANO: Exactly. I've really never knew who the lead singer was.

VELSHI: I didn't know that either.

MARCIANO: I thought maybe it was the Indian chief, construction worker.

ROMANS: I think that's what Ali's favorite was, was the construction worker, right?

VELSHI: I loved them all. I was equal opportunity.

ROMANS: For Halloween, if you would be one of the four, Rob, which would it be?

MARCIANO: Here's a look at what's going on in the Caribbean just south of Key West, we've got a tropical wave that is moving quickly to the west. That's the good news, because the faster it moves and gets into the Central America, the less time it has to develop. It's got some obstacles to get over before it develops. We're watching it closely, and it may get into something more interesting over the next couple of days.

The guidance from our computer models shows it moving off to towards the west and staying on a fairly southern track, and that would be, you know, ideal for the Gulf of Mexico residents, but, you know, we would take some of that rain in Texas, certainly, and that rain, when it gets into places like Honduras and Nicaragua, is not typically a good thing with all the mountainous terrain there, so, a number of reasons to watch that carefully.

And there's another wave behind it that may take a shot at the U.S. next week. So, we will track that as well. The heat, meanwhile, across Texas, the drought continues there. Record-setting heat yesterday in places like Shreveport, Louisiana and Texarkana up and over 100 degrees. It seems like the heat broke there for maybe a day, and then, now, we're back at it.

So, there you go. Good luck to the village people and all their copyright battles there. I think they're going to have to go after the Yankee Stadium grounds crew.

VELSHI: That's right. That's right.


VELSHI: They rake the grounds to YMCA.

MARCIANO: A lot of angles to go after there.

VELSHI: Yes. All right. Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: All right. See you guys.

VELSHI: It's time -- what is it now? It's 47 minutes after the hour almost. Time for this morning's top stories. We'll bring that to you right after the break, including the defense contractor accused of cheating the government and you.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And it's your chance to talk back this morning. Hecklers have been targeting everyone from President Obama to Mitt Romney. So, we want to know, is heckling good for our political discourse? Your answers straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine shopping online, seeing something you like, and then, just printing it out. It might sound crazy, but a new invention called the Makerbot could change the way you think.

BRE PETTIS, INVENTOR, MAKERBOT: Normally, when you need something, you think, OK, where am I going to shop for that. When you have a Makerbot, you just think, ah, maybe I'll just make it myself.

TUCHMAN: It's a personal 3D printer that makes actual three dimensional objects.

PETTIS: When you have a Makerbot, you just make anything. Your imagination can go on. TUCHMAN: Objects are made by melting plastic into thin spaghetti-like strings. Then, layer-by-layer, it's built into the desired object like this comb.

PETTIS: People who like to cook, they're going to make spatulas. People who like to fix things around the house, they're going to make coat hooks and replacement parts. It's really limitless what you can do with this.

TUCHMAN: You can create your own designs or download others created by users around the world.

PETTIS: It's the closest thing you can get to teleportation. Things like physical objects over the internet.

TUCHMAN: Turning visions into reality.

Gary Tuchman, CNN.



VELSHI: Fifty minutes after hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.


VELSHI (voice-over): Texas governor, Rick Perry, is taking some heat, but he's standing by his harsh comments about fed chairman, Ben Bernanke. Perry said that printing more money to stimulate the economy would be almost, quote, "treasonous," and that Bernanke would get an ugly reception in Texas.

Two Democratic state senators in Wisconsin defeated Republican challengers in a recall election yesterday. The vote was in response to the bitter fight over Wisconsin's new laws that cracked down on unions and their right to collective bargaining.

Five employees and three guests were reportedly hurt at SeaWorld in Orlando when lightning hit the ground at the Discovery Cove attraction yesterday. Five people were taken to hospital, but they're all expected to be OK.

A company that supplies food to U.S. soldiers in Kuwait has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges. Prosecutors say the company agility filed fake invoices and inflated its prices to boost profits. The original contract was worth $4.6 billion. The company's bill to the government, $8.6 billion.

A wildfire destroying at least one structure and threatening dozens of homes in Nevada. A blaze shut down a highway near the town of Gardnerville. Residents are being evacuated. Officials say the fire was manmade, but they're not calling it arson.

And, it's a baseball rarity and a thing of beauty for the team that pulls it off. Take a look at this, the Boston Red Sox turned a triple play last night against the Tampa Bay Rays. It's the team's first triple play in 17 years. The Red Sox, however, did lose the game 6-2.


VELSHI (on-camera): That's all the news you need to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING back right after this break.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We asked you to talk back this morning, and boy, did you. We're asking the question, is heckling good for the political discourse?

This from Heather, she says, "Yes, I think it shows how angry so many people are in this country with politicians and how they legislate. We're the ones being held hostage by their actions or lack of action, and they need to hear this."

This from Luvayo, "It is foolish to express your anger by shouting. You have your vote. Wait for the next elections if you're unsatisfied by the government."

And this from Bradley, "I think that heckling is good provided the heckler actually listens to the reply. It should be an exchange to get to the root of a problem, not just to get on TV. If it seems to be for the wrong reason, the media should have the sense not to air it."

VELSHI: Very interesting.

COSTELLO: Isn't it?

VELSHI: Very interesting. I mean --

COSTELLO: Like, should we?

VELSHI: Well, what you mean by the media, right? I mean, CNN may not air it, but these things get on YouTube and they get on people's sites and they get made into commercials.

ROMANS: That's right.

VELSHI: But I think that idea of if you're going to heckle for the purpose of discourse, then, it should be discourse.

COSTELLO: Right. Exactly.

VELSHI: I mean, in many -- both of these cases that we've cited, Mitt Romney and President Obama, they both did engage their hecklers.

COSTELLO: They did.

VELSHI: You know, in times gone by, sometimes, they just ignored them. Now, they're engaging them. COSTELLO: I think it's the best practice to ignore them, because you don't get anywhere, because, usually, the heckler really doesn't want to hear your response.

VELSHI: Right. They just want you to hear theirs.

ROMANS: I was surprised on how long the president stayed on the rope line with the Tea Party leader in Iowa.


ROMANS: How long he stayed in that conversation, and he said, all right, I will explain it to you and the same with Mitt Romney. He kept going at his point that corporations are people, money goes to -- Exactly.

COSTELLO: It gets deeper and deeper.

ROMANS: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Keep your comments coming,

ROMANS: All right. You need a thick skin if you're running for office. A good sense of humor doesn't hurt either with the late night talk show hosts taking their best shots.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, CONAN: Recently, Texas governor, Rick Perry, distanced himself from George W. Bush, by saying, I went to Texas A&M, he went to Yale.


O'BRIEN: That's what he said. In other words, Rick Perry's idea of instilling confidence to say don't worry, I'm not as smart as George W. Bush.


O'BRIEN: The White House is up to a lot of good. The White House sent Vice President Joe Biden to China today. Now, so now, we owe them a trillion dollars and an apology.


JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART: The president of the United States has the privilege and the benefit of being able to stay above the fray. Months away from having to get his hands dirty with swing state bus travel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama goes to Minnesota today, starting a three-day, three-state bus tour.


STEWART: Seriously? Obama's back in campaign mode already?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House officials insist, this is an official event, not a campaign event.

STEWART: Right. No, it's not a campaign.


STEWART: I'm sure the president just had some frequent greyhound miles he had to burn.



VELSHI: All right. Coming up ahead, presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, not backing down after making some controversial statements about the Federal Reserve chairman. We'll tell you what he said and why they're so controversial.

COSTELLO: And six states now allow gay couples to marry, but some of those newlyweds said they're getting short-changed. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 56 minutes past the hour.