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NYC Pipe Bomb Plot Foiled; On the Brink of Failure; Peaceful Protesters Pepper-Sprayed; First Lady Booed At NASCAR Race; Bipartisan Congress Super Committee Unlike to Strike Debt Reduction Compromise; Interview with Senator Jon Kyl about Super Committee; Interview with Senator John Kerry about Super Committee; On the Brink of Failure; No Woman, No Cry

Aired November 21, 2011 - 07:59   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: New York terror plot spoiled. Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. A man arrested after he allegedly built a bomb ripped right from the al Qaeda handbook.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Isn't that super? A bipartisan congressional committee fails to work out deal for cutting $1 trillion from the deficit. Now the problem? How to tell the American people about it -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: And good Monday morning to everyone. It is November 21st.

Ali and Christine are off today.

COSTELLO: Christine is preparing a huge Thanksgiving Day feast, because she's a fabulous cook.

CHO: Yes, she is. And she has her family, I'm sure, in from Iowa.

COSTELLO: I'm sure she does. And Ali is preparing to eat.

CHO: Yes.

COSTELLO: Welcome. I'm Carol Costello, along with Alina Cho.

Up first this morning: new details in a plot to bomb bagpipe bombs -- to plant bagpipe bombs, rather, in and around New York City. Twenty-seven-year-old Jose Pimentel is behind bars this morning, arraigned and denied bail just hours ago. Authorities say he was an al Qaeda sympathizer and a Muslim convert who plotted to bomb NYPD patrol cars, post offices and returning U.S. troops.

Deb Feyerick is here with the latest.

Good morning.


And the message he wanted to send, mujahidin are in the city. That's what the policy say the suspect Jose Pimentel wanted to tell the public. And assuming the three pipe bombs he was preparing actually worked, the counterterrorism source tells me he could have killed upwards of a dozen people.

Now, because he was under surveillance for two and a half years, NYPD bomb experts had time to build and detonate a similar device to show the potential impact. And you can see the damage there.

New York's top cop said the suspect was radicalized by the teachings of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And that it was Awlaki's death by U.S.-led drone strike in Yemen in September that accelerated the alleged plot, turning it from aspirational to operational.


COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPT.: Pimentel followed instructions from Anwar al-Awlaki's "Inspire" magazine to first acquire the bomb-making materials and then assemble them. He relied on a particularly notorious article called "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."


FEYERICK: And police say he followed these directions carefully, spreading out his purchases so he wouldn't attract attention. He was allegedly planning to attach nails which would act as shrapnel, so that when the bomb exploded, it would do maximum damage to anyone that was nearby.

New York's mayor says tactical units arrested the 27-year-old U.S. citizen because he started drilling holes in the pipes which according to al Qaeda's instruction is the last mechanical step in building the bomb. The FBI and other federal agencies, well, they weren't involved and largely aware of the NYPD investigation, even though targets included U.S. troops returning from Iraq and even though the plot was inspired by al-Awlaki who also inspired the Times Square and underwear bombers among others.

Jose Pimentel wrote extensively on his blog, True Islam One. He faces five terror-related charges and he's entered a plea of not guilty.

COSTELLO: So, how dangerous is this guy, allegedly?

FEYERICK: This is what everybody's sort of parsing through and trying to figure out. Obviously, had he been successful, he would have been very dangerous. And that's what police were trying to stop.

However, we have seen with the Times Square bomber, it failed to ignite properly. With the underwear bomber, failed to ignite properly. With the subway bomber, failed to ignite properly.

So, there is error -- human error that goes into what is going on with these wannabe jihadists, these wannabe terrorists. But, again, you don't want to leave to chance, you don't want them to get it right even one time. And that's what the NYPD was sort of moving in on when they arrested him.

CHO: Deb Feyerick, thank you.

FYERICK: Of course.

CHO: The Obama administration plans to announce new sanctions against Iran this morning. Diplomatic sources tell CNN they are intended to stop foreign countries from conducting business with Tehran's oil and gas industry. And any nation that does will be banned from doing business in U.S. markets. The crackdown comes in response to a U.N. report that says Iran is developing technology, rather, needed to build a nuclear weapon.

COSTELLO: Two of the last remaining kingpins of the Gadhafi regime are in custody this morning in Libya. Libya's revolutionary forces say they have captured Gadhafi's intelligence chief. His arrest coming the day after forces captured said Gadhafi's son, Said al Islam Gadhafi. Both men are wanted for crime against humanity at The Hague. But officials in Libya have said they want to put Saif on trial themselves.

CHO: Egypt erupting again this morning. Protesters are filling Cairo's Tahrir Square for a third straight day. Twenty people were killed in brutal clashes over the weekend. Many were beaten. Military rulers say elections will go on as planned in seven days.

COSTELLO: The so-called super committee appears ready to throw in the towel this morning. Members charged with cutting $1.2 trillion from the budget have all but failed in their mission. Sources telling CNN the only talks happening now are on how to announce that the super committee failed.

Some Democrats are putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of one man, the lobbyist who got all Republican members of the committee to sign this pledge. This pledge right here. It's called the taxpayer protection pledge saying they swear never to raise taxes.

Grover Norquist is the man behind the pledge. He's the president of Americans for Tax Reform. He joins us live from Washington this morning.

Good morning, Mr. Norquist.


COSTELLO: So, Democrats are pointing the finger of blame directly at you. Listen to Senator Patty Murray, the Democratic co- chair of the super committee, on "THE STATE OF THE UNION."


SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Has been a pledge that too many Republicans took to a Republican wealthy lobbyist by the name of Grover Norquist, whose name has come up in meetings time and time again. And as long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do.


COSTELLO: So, Grover Norquist, are you to blame for the super committee's failure?

NORQUIST: No. Unfortunately, the senator is not telling the truth. She has never signed the taxpayer protection pledge. As a liberal Democrat, she's voted for every tax increase she ever had the opportunity to vote for.

But for those congressmen and senators who signed the taxpayer protection pledge, they know and the American people know that the pledge is from them to the voters of their district and their state.

I know the Democrats don't want to stand up and say: we want to raise taxes. The Republicans are fighting us. Please help us raise taxes -- because that's not a very good campaign slogan. So, they have tried to say --


NORQUIST: -- that I'm the reason Republicans won't raise taxes. That's nonsense.

COSTELLO: But if you're on a committee and you want to negotiate with the other side and you have signed this pledge -- and keep in mind like we have 23 polls showing that most Americans want taxes raised on the wealthiest Americans. So, these pledges are only covering a small portion of the electorate. So, you sign this pledge as a Republican member of the super committee and you're supposed to negotiate with the other side (AUDIO BREAK) taxes.

How can you effectively negotiate?

NORQUIST: Well, of course you can.


NORQUIST: The debt -- well, the Democrats want higher taxes. That's off the table. It's been off the table for a year.

The Democrats are a little hard of hearing. They lost the last election because they raised taxes and spent too much. There's been a massive compromise.

The Republicans, as you know, passed the Paul Ryan legislation, which is a $6 trillion reduction in Obama's $10 trillion increase in the debt that he put into his budget. The Republican budget says let's take it down by $6 trillion.

The agreement Obama, Reid, Pelosi and the Republicans came to in August was not the $6 trillion that the Republicans wanted to save taxpayers, but only $2.5 trillion. So there's been a compromise.

Now, the Democrats came in the last budget deal and wanted to increase spend $1 trillion, increase taxes $1 trillion dollars and have make believe spending cuts because we're not going to be in Iraq in the next 100 years.

COSTELLO: I think most economists say that to solve our country's debt crisis, there needs to be revenue and there also needs to be cuts and there needs to be a smart way to include both things. The thing is though, I think --

NORQUIST: Wait a second.

COSTELLO: When most voters --


COSTELLO: -- listen to you. You're not an elected official yet you are sort of controlling the agenda of the super committee. Aren't you exactly what a lot of voters hate about our system?

NORQUIST: Hey, you may have been missing the first part of our conversation. The pledge that congressmen and senators make is not to me, despite what Reid and some of the Democrats like to pretend. OK?

When they say that, let's use the kind word. It's not true. It's a lie.

The pledge is -- and you can go to Web site,, see the actual wording of the pledge, not some Democrat's fiction, and the list of people who made the commitment to their voters. When people get elected, they should keep their word.

COSTELLO: But you go after these elected officials with all the money because there's a lot of very powerful people who donate to your cause, you go after these elected officials and you make sure they're not elected again. You do.

NORQUIST: If somebody takes the pledge not to raise taxes and where are to break it, we would certainly inform voters what they have done. But we let people know -- look, if the Democrats believe the American people want higher taxes and you say, oh, there are some polls that say people want higher taxes, then Obama, Reid and Pelosi should go out to the American people and man up and say, if you vote for us, we will take more money out of your pocket every year into the future and we're not cutting spending.

The Republican position is slightly different. We're not going to raise taxes to pay for Obama's government. We're going to reduce the size of Obama's government. The pledge makes it easy to tell who's on which team.

That's why the Democrats don't like it because they don't like open promises; public commitments to voters. They make private promises to the AFL-CIO and the trial lawyers.

COSTELLO: Let's kind of switch things around. What if the Democrats signed a pledge never, ever to cut entitlements -- never. Would that be a great negotiating tool on the super committee?

NORQUIST: Well, a number of them have made that commitment to the trial lawyers, the labor unions and the big city political machines, promising not to cut spending. When the Democrats went into the super committee, when you talk to both Republicans and Democrats on the super committee, they were never willing to do any real spending cuts.

All this talk about compromise where things aren't written down, were never proposed. They have no signatures on a piece of legislation to reform the budget. And all of the overspending we have right now was put there during the two years the Democrats had the House, Senate and presidency.

The problem America faces, the Democrats view as their success in moving us towards France or some European social democracy. That's where Americans don't want to go. And that's what the election in 2012 will be about.

You want Obama's European-sized government or a normal American- sized smaller government. Clear distinction between the parties and the direction the country should go in.

COSTELLO: Well, we'll see how it turns out because 2012 is fast approaching.

Grover Norquist, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

NORQUIST: You got it.

COSTELLO: In just about 20 minutes, we'll hear what failure sounds like from both sides of the aisle. Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl will join us. And Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, he'll join us, too.

CHO: It's interesting, I think, to a lot of voters that for once lawmakers aren't blaming other lawmakers so much. They are blaming this man --

COSTELLO: At least the Democrats are, right?

CHO: The Democrats, right -- for the failure of the super committee. So, I look forward to those interviews.

Meanwhile, still ahead, pepper spray outrage. Two cops suspended after blasting peaceful protesters with pepper spray on the campus of U.C.-Davis. Now, the chief of police is being held accountable. We'll have new developments, up next.

COSTELLO: Plus, not a very warm welcome. NASCAR fans boo the first lady before the last race of the season.

CHO: And supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns stops by our studio live. She's got something to say to women everywhere.

Twelve minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: Good morning to our friends in Nashville, Tennessee. As you can see, it's not a great morning there. Light rain and 63 degrees. It's not going to get better later either. Rain with some thunderstorms with a high of 71.

CHO: Let's get more in depth check on the weather now. Bonnie Schneider in the Extreme Weather Center with a look at that. Hey, Bonnie. Good morning.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Alina and Carol. You saw the picture of Nashville. Not too far away the weather's even worse, and I'm talking about Memphis, Tennessee. That's where heavy rain is pounding the city of Memphis at this hour. It's working its way toward Nashville, kind of skirting it to the north, but this rain is going to be a big problem since it's such a busy time for travelers.

We're monitoring that. You can see the cloud coverage is thickening up. The fog is very deep here in Atlanta and that's causing delays. We actually have a ground stop right now at the Atlanta airport. So, for those of you traveling, a delays are already getting started. Here's more of what you can expect for today, and these are all weather-related delays.

There will be a volume of people trying to get to where they're going for Thanksgiving over the next couple of days, but in New York, the rain has pushed through, but we're going to see the clouds hanging on, and that's likely to cause delays. I mentioned what's happening in Atlanta, but we're also going to see that in Washington, D.C.

And watch out for strong thunderstorms in Dallas, Texas today. That's where we're monitoring the threat for severe weather and Memphis as well. Seattle with some rain and wind, and of course, in San Francisco, early morning fog to start you off. Well, the heavy rain that's working its way through the mid south could pose a problem in terms of a flood threat.

Notice Little Rock here under the gun. We can see isolated rain amounts up to six inches from the storm system, and the weather may get more a little volatile in the Dallas, Texas area. That's we're expecting severe storms. Notice that cold temperatures all the way up to the north. Cold enough for snow in Minnesota.

Let's show you what it looks like there. Unfortunately, the snow made for some tough travel conditions over the weekend. We had a lot of reports of traffic accidents, well over a dozen of them. So, it's not winter yet, but in Minnesota, it sort of feels that way. We'll watch out for the cold temperatures there and also some chilly weather as we can see in Kansas City.

That cold front coming down. It's pulling down some big changes ahead, but it's nice and mild here in the northeast, and we'll be looking forward with some good weather where you are. Back to you.

COSTELLO: We'll be looking for it, too. CHO: We'll be looking for it on Thanksgiving. Bonnie, thank you.

COSTELLO: CNN now confirming that the University of California Davis police chief has been placed on administrative leave. Two officers also taken off the job after this video surfaced of cops pepper-spraying peaceful occupy protesters in their faces at point blank range. This happened Friday night.

Campus police chief, Annette Spicuzza, who was scene at the time said it was one officer's decision, not the entire force -- one officer's decision to unload.


CHIEF ANNETTE SPICUZZA, U.C. DAVIS POLICE: This was a decision made from within that group, from within the -- by the officer who was in charge. I see pepper spray as a tool for officers to use. And like any other tool that we carry and we utilize, you hope and pray that it's used correctly and within policy.


COSTELLO: Eleven people required treatment. Two were hospitalized. Protesters also calling on the school's chancellor, Linda Katehi, to resign.

CHO: It wasn't exactly the warm welcome the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden were expecting. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, please welcome our grand marshals, Sergeant Andrew Berry and family, first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden as they deliver the most important words in motor sports.

(CHANTING) Gentlemen, start your engines.


CHO: (INAUDIBLE) was bad for them, but they handled it well. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden apparently greeted with the chorus of by NASCAR fans boos at the Ford 400 yesterday. They were there to bring awareness to the first lady's joining forces program, an initiative to hire and train veterans.

Meantime, Tony Stewart took home the Sprint Cup Title. It is his first win since 2005.

COSTELLO: Actress, Mila Kunis keeps her word and makes a YouTube wish come true. She attended a marine corps ball in Greenville, North Carolina on Friday night, ands that was her date, Sergeant Scott Moore. Sergeant Moore posted a YouTube invite back in July while he was stationed in Afghanistan. And as you can see, the date came together, and by all accounts, they had a great time. CHO: They look like a real-life couple.

Ladies' night, meanwhile, at the 2011 American Music Awards. Women took home top honors including Nicki Minaj who opened the show. She nabbed two trophies. Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce also took home award, but the biggest winner of the night was singer, Taylor Swift. She won three including Artist of the Year for the second year in a row.


TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: It never gets old. I'm so excited. This is just crazy, like, this is my second time winning Artist of the Year, and I just can't believe that it happened again.


CHO: I'm not sure she was that surprised, though.


COSTELLO: Woman in the world, though, isn't she?

CHO: As for the boys, let's not forget them. Bruno Mars crowned Favorite Pop Rock Male Artist and Maroon 5 won Best Pop Rock Band. I love Maroon 5.

COSTELLO: They're back.

Investors are a little nervous this morning. We'll check the early markets for you.

Plus, a stunning weekend at the movies. Guess how much money the latest "Twilight" movie hauled in. Wow! Twenty minutes past the hour.


CHO: Twenty-five minutes after the hour. "Minding your Business."

It's shaping up to be a rough morning for investors. Right now, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 futures are all trading sharply lower. Last week, the Dow lost three percent. Its worst performance in two months.

The New York City school bus driver's union threatening to strike starting today. More than 152,000 students could be affected city wide. Officials says the dispute is about job protection for union members.

Sending packages will soon cost more. UPS announced that it's boosting its base rates for ground and air shipments 5.9 percent. International shipping rates are jumping nearly seven percent. The company blames demands and its investments in new technology for the increase. The new rates begin on January 2nd. Good news for drivers. The latest Lundberg Survey says the national average cost for gallon of gas is $3.38 right now. That's down five cents in the past two weeks. The survey says slumping demand and lower crude oil prices have helped drive prices down.

A first for cosmetic's giant, Mary Kay. The company has presented beauty consultant, Jim Condit, with this legendary pink Cadillac this year. He's the only man ever in the country to earn the car. The caddy is a symbol of high achievement and presented to the top Mary Kay sales consultants.

"Breaking Dawn part 1" breaking the box office this weekend. The latest installment of the teen vampire "Twilight" saga opened with a whopping $139 million in ticket sales. It's the fifth best movie weekend ever.

Up next, what's the deal with deficit cuts? Is the Super Committee on the brink of collapse? We'll get both sides. Republican senator, Jon Kyl, and Democrat, John Kerry, will join us live. AMERICAN MORNING is back after a break.



COSTELLO (voice-over): Thirty minutes past the hour. The 12- member Congressional Super Committee appears ready to declare defeat after three months of talks failed to produce a deal reducing the deficit on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on this Monday, November 21st. Your top stories now.


CHO (voice-over): A suspect arrested in a New York City pipe bomb plot. Twenty-seven-year-old Jose Pimentel is behind bars this morning. He was arraigned and denied bail late last night. Mayor Michael Bloomberg last night announcing that an alleged terror plot involving the al Qaeda sympathizer who planned to target the NYPD and returning U.S. soldiers was made with homemade pipe bombs.

COSTELLO: Deadly pre-election violence in Egypt. Protesters filling Cairo's Tahrir Square for a third straight day. Twenty people killed in brutal clashes over the weekend and 1,200 people injured, many brutally beaten. Demonstrators say the new military rulers have to go.

CHO: You are about to look live there and a live picture from Capitol Hill where the so-called debt super committee may be ready to throw up its arms and walk away after failing to compromise on reducing the deficit. Now instead of working on a deal they are said to be focused on how to announce failure to reach a deal. COSTELLO: Three months of talking couldn't bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats on the super committee. We're going to hear from both sides now as to why by all accounts they couldn't get it done. Joining us now from Capitol Hill Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl. He's a member of the debt super committee. Welcome, senator.

SEN. JON KYL, (R) ARIZONA: Thank you.

COSTELLO: So if you guys do have to come out and tell the American people that you have failed, how do you make failure sound remotely good?

KYL: It's not good. First of all, there will be an announcement toward the end of the day one way or the other. We are still talking, and hope springs eternal. It is late in the day. That's for sure.

I think the other thing people should realize is there still will be $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. It's just that it won't be done through what the committee might have recommended but rather in across-the-board cuts. And those aren't as -- those could be more difficult for the defense department, for example, and for some domestic programs.


KYL: But the cuts will still occur.

COSTELLO: So I guess that would be one way to spin it, if I can put it that way.

KYL: I'm not trying to spin it.

COSTELLO: I understand. But not being able to come to an agreement, how does that feel for you?

KYL: It's very disappointing. We tried a lot of things. We tried the bigger packages. We tried the smaller packages, entitlement reform, tax reform. Finally, more in desperation than anything else Republicans said last week, look, if we can't agree on those things why don't we agree on what we essentially agreed on. There are a lot of places where the government has surplus property we can sell, where we can raise fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We can ask federal employees to go without a salary increase for a couple years. That would include members of Congress, for example. We agreed on those things and it added up to big dollars, $640 billion.

COSTELLO: But not nearly enough. Of course the big elephant in the room --

KYL: Can I make a point?

COSTELLO: The elephant in the room was raising taxes on the wealthy.

KYL: Exactly so. (CROSSTALK)

KYL: Our Democratic friends said we won't cut one dollar more without raising taxes. I think that tells you a lot about the ethos in Washington. We went into the exercise to try to reduce federal government spending. When we get from the other side is, no, we won't make more cuts unless you raise taxes.

COSTELLO: A lot of voters, though, see that, you included, all the Republicans on the super committee, signed this tax pledge by Grover Norquist's group. You went in there and couldn't negotiate, you know, on a level playing field because you had already made this pledge and you weren't going to budge on it, and you knew that issue was important to the other side -- Democrats.

KYL: But we did budge on it. And Grover was very disappointed in what Senator Toomey and the Republicans offered, which was tax reform which would have resulted in the upper two income brackets paying a higher marginal rate because their deductions and credits, the so-called tax expenditures, would have been greatly reduced in value. That's what all the experts recommended. They said make the tax code flatter and fairer. Get rid of the loopholes. You can raise revenue that way. And we did, $250 billion worth. So Grover was not happy with that, obviously.

COSTELLO: But a lot of people said that wasn't enough. You didn't raise enough revenue. You could have raised more by doing other things. I'm not going to convince you. I realize that.

KYL: Your job isn't to convince me.

COSTELLO: No, it's not.

KYL: Let me make this point to you. Why do Republicans not want to raise taxes more than that? Because it will kill job creation. The best way to get out of the deficit situation we have is for economic growth to produce more wealth that can then be taxed. That has the benefit of creating a lot more jobs.

Even President Obama said you don't raise taxes in a recession. And that's precisely where we are. So that's why Republicans said don't raise taxes right now. This is the time for economic growth and that's what the Pat Toomey proposal would have done.

COSTELLO: This is philosophical for Republicans, way different than, you know, what the Democrats think philosophically. And the bridge is -- I mean, it's such a wide philosophical difference that I think people just sit back in this country and they're not exactly angry that the super committee didn't come any agreement. They were sort of expecting this.

KYL: Frustrated. Yes, they're frustrated. Some philosophy is not different here. I quoted the president who said you don't raise taxes in a recession.

COSTELLO: President Obama also wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in this country. He's also said that.

KYL: Well, last year he extended all of the current tax rates, the 2001 and 2003 tax rates. They applied to the wealthier and the less wealthy.

COSTELLO: He compromised.

KYL: He did that -- yes. He did that because he recognized that this was not the time to raise taxes on anybody. And the people in the upper brackets are the ones who create the jobs. And he understood that. Well, the situation is no different today. That's why we have resisted raising taxes on small business people who need to create jobs.

COSTELLO: I think that, voters, though don't look at small business people and taxes raised. They look at these like giant banks sitting on tons of money and they have the money to spend and they are not spending it. So that when they hear you saying that, and I'm talking Democratic and maybe some independent voters, when they hear you saying that, they say, where are the jobs? It's not like the giant corporations aren't making money. They're just sitting on the cash.

KYL: Right. And the fact is coming out of a recession most of the jobs are created by small business. In fact, since 1980 all of the net job creation has come from small business.

COSTELLO: And they are hiring now, small business people.

KYL: No, they are not. That's the problem. We have over nine percent unemployment in this country. The small business folks will be creating the first jobs as we come out of the recession that we are in. So that's why we don't want to raise taxes on them now.

Incidentally on the corporate side there was agreement by both Democrats and Republicans that we should have corporate tax reform that would take the top corporate rate down to perhaps 25 percent if we can get it there so that our country can be more competitive internationally. On that there was agreement.

COSTELLO: Senator Jon Kyl, thank you for being with us. We'll talk to Senator John Kerry now. We appreciate it.

CHO: All right, You heard from the Republican. Yes, after the break we'll hear from Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. We'll get his take on why the debt talks have failed.

It's 37 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Good morning, Washington, D.C., where it's cloudy and 57 degrees, showers later with a high of 58.

Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. What went wrong? Barring an 11th hour breakthrough the bipartisan debt super committee appears heading for failure. The Republican co-chair says nobody wants to give up hope but the reality is starting to overtake hope.

Joining us now from Capitol Hill with his take on this is Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is himself a member of the super committee. Senator Kerry, nice to see you. Thanks for joining us.


CHO: You know, Americans are waking up this morning hearing the headline, the super committee is doomed to fail, and people are frankly mad at what they call a do-nothing Congress. Now, as a member of the super committee, tell us what went wrong. And is there still a shot at a deal?

KERRY: I'm not going to talk about what went wrong when we are still working and hopefully there is an opportunity. It's very tough right now. A lot of people are just working on the prediction and on the momentum towards not achieving something.

But there is one big, big hurdle to get over. The Republicans have been insisting that we make permanent and extend the tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. We are all prepared to provide a tax cut to 98 percent of America, all the small business people to all the average income earners of our country. But we cannot in good conscience extend the Bush tax cuts at the higher end when we are at a 60-year low in terms of the revenue coming in to the government.

And you can't ask seniors on a fixed income, on Medicare, or poor children on Medicaid to be the ones to ante up while the wealthiest get a big tax cut. It just doesn't make sense. That's the one hang up, right now. Grover Norquist's pledge. They have a pledge to a lobbyist. They won't allow taxes to go up, and they are fighting now to do that.

CHO: Senator Kerry, I'm not sure if you heard your Republican colleague Jon Kyl a moment ago on CNN.

KERRY: I did not, no.

CHO: He say basically that Democrats would not agree to any more cuts to the federal budget without raising taxes. So what do you say to that?

KERRY: What I say to that is we have had three major commissions and the gang of six, which is made up of Republican and Democratic senators alike. The Simpson-Bowles commission, Rivlin Domenici commission, the gang of six, all recommended that you have to try to achieve a $4 trillion reduction in the deficit just to stabilize it, and that that ought to be split. Every one of them recommended $2 trillion of revenue.

All we are asking now from these guys is about $350 billion versus $2 trillion. And they say, no, because they want the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans extended. So the whole deal is being held hostage to this idea that the wealthiest people in America ought to get a big tax cut while everybody else chips in. I don't think anybody in America thinks that's fair.

CHO: Senator Kerry, just yesterday on "Meet the Press" you said there were things you agreed to that you didn't want to talk about publicly, which sounded very sexy, I might add. People want to know, what were the concessions? And would it have been enough to strike a deal here?

KERRY: Let me make it clear. We Democrats put a $4 trillion plan on the table. We had $1.3 trillion of cuts, and we had $1.3 trillion of revenue. Some of the revenue, we are not asking that to happen tomorrow or the next day. It can happen in a year. This is a 10-year plan and longer. So we have the ability to be able to do something fair for all Americans.

But unfortunately, you know, this thing about the Bush tax cuts and the pledge to Grover Norquist keeps coming up. Grover Norquist has been the 13th member of the committee without being there. I can't tell you how often we hear about the pledge, the pledge. Well, all took a pledge to uphold the constitution and full and faithfully and well execute our duties. And I think that requires us to reach an agreement. We have to compromise.

CHO: Senator Kerry, I can't let you go without asking about this. I don't need to remind you the race for president is well underway. President Obama is facing a tough fight. Don't you worry about the political damage this could do to the president? People tend to lump Washington into one big sort of group and they don't differentiate.

KERRY: They will differentiate. They will differentiate. I don't worry about that because the president put a $4 trillion proposal on the table and they said no for the same reasons they are saying no today.

So this is a big fight for our nation. This is a question of what's our value about fairness? What do we think is right when the top end of the income earners have gone up 275 percent in income over the last 20 years and the average person in America has seen a very small increase, if any. This is a matter of fundamental fairness. And I think the American people will be part of this and central to this debate going forward.

But more important, the president was specifically asked by the Republicans not to get engaged in their deliberations because they didn't want it to become a political football. This was a Congressional idea to have this committee. This was Congress's responsibility and frankly the only reason we don't have an agreement is not because we weren't willing to make reductions to Medicare, health care, do things we need to do to make the system stronger, to protect it going forward.

The reason is we're stuck on this insistence of making the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. And I think the American people will judge that to be insane.

CHO: Well Senator Kerry, you sound -- you still sound optimistic that you -- you'll reach --


KERRY: No, I'm always an optimist.


CHO: OK, well --

KERRY: There is an opportunity here for us to try to reach an agreement.

CHO: I wish you that and I wish you the best of luck. You and the other 11 members of the super committee.

KERRY: Thank you.

CHO: And I wish you a great Thanksgiving this week.

KERRY: Thank you so much.

CHO: With a special hello to your daughter Alex.

KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you.

CHO: All right, your "Morning Headlines" are next. Plus, Christy Turlington-Burns makes her directorial debut in a new documentary about at-risk pregnancy and childbirth. She's going to live us -- join us rather live in the studio ahead. It's 46 minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: Its 47 minutes past the hour. Here are your "Morning Headlines".

It's shaping up to be a rough morning for investors. Right now, the DOW, NASDAQ and S&P 500 futures all trading sharply lower. Last week the Dow lost three percent, its worst performance in two months.

A suspect arrested in a New York City pipe bomb plot. Mayor Michael Bloomberg last night announcing an alleged terror plot involving an al Qaeda sympathizer who planned to target the NYPD and returning U.S. soldiers.

CNN confirming that the University of California Davis police chief has been placed on administrative leave after this video surfaced of cops pepper-spraying people occupy protesters. Two officers also taken off the job.

Classes will be canceled for two hours this afternoon at Oklahoma State University. They will be holding a memorial service for women's basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna. Both were killed in a plane crash last week as they were heading home from a recruiting trip in Arkansas. Taylor Swift takes the top honors at the American Music Awards. The singer won Artist of the Year for the second time in a row. Rapper Nikki Minaj nabbed two awards. Her first AMA win in the pop rock category; Bruno Mars and Maroon 5 took home trophies.

And that's the news you need to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after a break.


CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

She's a supermodel, wife, mother, philanthropist and runs her own charity devoted to maternal health. Now Christy Turlington-Burns is putting the focus on getting support for less fortunate pregnant women in developing nation. It's also happening right here in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, 1,500 women die from pregnancy or childbirth complications every day.

Turlington-Burns, shares the emotional stories of at-risk pregnant women from four corners of the world in the documentary "No Woman, No Cry." Here is a peak.


CHRISTY TURLINGTON-BURNS, FOUNDER, "EVERY MOTHER COUNTS": (voice-over): The clinic has one midwife, one nurse and only occasionally has a doctor available.

DR. GODFREY MBARUKU: Human resource shortage is the biggest problem. I worked in a facility whereby I was the only obstetrician for 2.5 million people. The people are frustrated in the sense that they are overworked. When you try to tell them to work more you are stretching them too far.


CHO: And we are joined now by Christy Turlington-Burns, founder of "Every Mother Counts". Christy, great to see you.


CHO: You know, when you first told me about this project a couple years ago and you said that you wouldn't believe how many women die of pregnancy-related complications and you said sometimes it's something as simple as they can't get to the hospital. There is no transportation.

But you began this journey because of something far more personal, right?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: I did. After delivering my first child, my daughter, eight years ago, I started to have a complication. I started to hemorrhage. And after having a very good pregnancy and a good delivery, in fact, I just was not prepared for something like that to happen. I learned in the few weeks or so afterwards that the same complication I experienced was the leading cause of maternal death in the world.

CHO: It's extraordinary and 90 percent of those cases are preventable, right?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: Exactly. Almost all.

CHO: And you actually made a journey to El Salvador which is where your mother is originally from. And this is a trip that really hit home for you, right. Why?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: It did. I spent my childhood going to El Salvador. But I was pregnant with my second child at the time when I went down there with C.A.R.E. And being in a community where there were no paved roads, where there was no access to clean water, no electricity really. I looked around and I thought, had I had the first pregnancy complication that I experienced here I would have died.

CHO: You know one -- there were many things that struck me about -- when I was watching this. But one thing that really struck me is sort of bringing it closer to home is that you say abroad while it may be tough to actually get to the hospital or get to the facility or maybe there is not a doctor, once you get there many of the services are free. Whereas here in the United States we all know there is an abundance of services and yet cost is the big factor.

Is that something that surprised you?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: It is something that surprised me. And in fact when I show this around the world people are most surprised by what they see for our statistics. Services are free in so many parts of the world, but transport costs alone are a big enough barrier that would keep a woman from seeking care when she might need it most.

CHO: In fact, there were a few cases in which had you not been there, your film crew, to transport a pregnant woman to the medical facility -- I mean I don't even want to think about what might have happened.

TURLINGTON-BURNS: Yes. I mean we did find ourselves in the couple of weeks that we were in each of the countries filming that you become a valuable service. And people start to know that oh, there are people that we can maybe depend on. But normally the day after you leave there are no services like that. And oftentimes nurses will reach into their own pockets and pay for those transport fees.

CHO: I want to talk a little about this being your directorial debut. Your husband, as many people know is Ed Burns, the famed actor and film maker. What was it like collaborating with him on this? I know you sought his advice throughout the way.

TURLINGTON-BURNS: You know, I have always wanted to make a documentary film. And it's quite a different kind of film process that the kind of films he makes. But certainly him being in that world for so many years he understood how much you have to put into a project like that. And I worked on this film for two years. CHO: Right.

TURLINGTON-BURNS: And he was an incredible support to have.

CHO: Sure. Tell us a little bit about "Every Mother Counts". You started it after the documentary right?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: I founded it last year because it's one thing to make a social issue documentary that gets people to feel. I wanted to give people a way to participate, a way to get involved.

CHO: How do they get involved?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: Well, if you come to our site,, we try to shine the light on programs around the world that are working, individuals, initiatives. And then we have several action items that people can take to actually participate and get involved.

It's really important for people to feel like they can make a contribution. And I do believe this is one of those issues that's quite universal. And that if people feel like they can relate in the way that I did having had a complication or not, it's something that people can actually prevent.

CHO: Finally, you ran the marathon to raise money for "Every Mother Counts". How did you do and how much did you raise?

TURLINGTON-BURNS: We raised about $150,000 or so --

CHO: Amazing.

TURLINGTON-BURNS: -- which was about $100,000 more than we hoped to raise. And we had the opportunity to really to show what we do and that distance is a huge barrier for women accessing care. And it's a great way for us to communicate what our organization's about. I did about 4:20. Not bad.

CHO: Wow, that's great. I run a marathon in closer to five hours. Christy Turlington-Burns, thank you for coming in. Good for you for doing this. This is something you didn't have to do but you wanted to do, I know.

Thank you so much.


CHO: And we should mention that the DVD for "No Woman, No Cry" is available on December 6. Just head over then to

And Christy will also be presenting at this year's "CNN HEROES: AN ALL STAR TRIBUTE" live on December 11th.

It's 57 minutes after the hour. We're back after this.


ROMANS: That does it for us.

CHO: That's right.

ROMANS: It went fast, didn't it?

CHO: It most certainly did. Those three hours flew by.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Hala Gorani starts right now.