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GOP Candidates Debate National Security; American Students Arrested in Egypt; Fresh Clashes Erupt in Cairo; Penn State Sex Scandal: New Victims?; GOP Candidates Debate National Security; Space Telescope Saved...For Now; Egypt To Question American Students; Yemen President Vows To Step Down

Aired November 23, 2011 - 06:00   ET



NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, that's what we'd do if we were a serious country.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: GOP candidates trying to show they have the foreign policy chops to be commander in chief. We'll have all of the highlights just ahead.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: American students arrested in Egypt facing more interrogation today. They're families now speaking as Cairo erupts for a fifth day.

CHO: And tailspin. Incredible video of the chopper crash and the more amazing pictures of the pilot walking away from it on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO: And good morning to you. Happy pre-Thanksgiving Day. I can smell the turkey now. Can't you?

CHO: So can I.

COSTELLO: I can't wait. Food, football, family, three Fs what could be better?

CHO: And then food coma. Sleeping afterwards.

COSTELLO: At least you fall asleep and aren't suffering through the feeling of you're going to croak. Anyway, Ali and Christine are off, obviously. I'm Carol Costello with Alina Cho this morning.

CHO: Up first, the fallout from last night's national security debate. You saw it live right here on CNN. Eight Republicans sparring on a stage just steps from the White House disagreeing on just about everything from the war in Afghanistan to immigration.

We've got the best political team on television live from Washington this morning. CNN senior political editor, Mark Preston has the post-debate buzz.

But first to our Jill Dougherty. So Jill, good morning to you. This debate really seemed to highlight the big differences between the candidates. Didn't it?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it did. It was an interesting debate, wasn't it? I mean, the dynamics for the debate shifted. Every week, it seems there's another leader in the polls and that meant that all of these candidates who were trying to distinguish him or herself from the pack.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): With eight Republicans onstage, President Barack Obama got a few nicks.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: If you like what Barack Obama has done to our economy, you'll love what he's done to our national security.

DOUGHERTY: But these candidates had the knives out for each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you suggesting, Governor, we just take all our troops out next week? What's your --

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did you hear what I just said? Draw down from 100,000. We don't need 100,000 troops.

DOUGHERTY: There was heated debate whether the post-9/11 Patriot Act should be extended.

GINGRICH: All of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run. We need to be prepared to protect ourselves.

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have to be very careful in protecting our individual liberties. We forget sometimes that we have a name brand in this world.

DOUGHERTY: Should specific ethnic or religious groups in America be profiled for security screenings?

WOLF BLITZER, MODERATOR: Who would be profiled?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims would be someone you'd look like. The Muslims committing these crimes.

PAUL: Digging a hole for ourselves. What if they look like Timothy McVeigh? He was a pretty tough criminal.

DOUGHERTY: In the midst of a heavy debate, a light moment.

BLITZER: Is it OK for Muslim-Americans to get more intensive pat-downs or security when they go through airports than Christian or Jewish Americans?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, Blitz. That's oversimplifying it. I happen to believe that if you allow our intelligence agencies to do their job, they can come up with an approach -- I'm sorry, Blitz. I meant Wolf. OK? Blitz -- Wolf.

DOUGHERTY: And what about aid to Pakistan?

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also think that Pakistan is a nation that it's kind of like too nuclear to fail.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Until Pakistan clearly shows that they have America's best interests in mind, I would not send them one penny, period.

BACHMANN: With all due respect to the governor, I think that's highly naive.


DOUGHERTY: And there are some other top moments, like when Newt Gingrich made a plea for what he called more humane enforcement of immigration laws so they won't separate families and Mitt Romney shot back that amnesty is a magnet that only encourages more people to come here illegally -- Alina.

CHO: All right, Jill Dougherty live for us in Washington. Jill, thank you.

COSTELLO: There were no major gaffs in last night's debate, no painfully long pauses. So who came out on top? Let's go to the score card with CNN's senior political editor, Mark Preston. Good morning, Mark.


COSTELLO: Let's talk about Newt Gingrich first. He took the immigration issue head-on last night and it was kind of surprising. Listen to what he said first.

PRESTON: He did.


GINGRICH: The party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy, which destroys families that have been here a quarter century and I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so they are not separated from their families.


COSTELLO: Some Republicans might say he's talking amnesty. Something the conservative base is totally against. How do you think this played with that conservative part of the Republican Party? PRESTON: Well, you know, Carol, he certainly ran into the wall with that answer. Newt Gingrich was very strong throughout this whole debate, and this might have been his big gaffe of the night.

Especially when looking at the Republican presidential primary. The answer he gave last night is the answer you would give in a general election race, because want to reach out to independents, perhaps some disaffected Democrats.

Newt Gingrich last night by giving that is going to put himself in peril with voters in Iowa, in South Carolina, really conservative voters who don't like the idea of amnesty.

In fact, two of his rivals last night onstage, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, indicated that in fact it was amnesty and we're going to see Mitt Romney today, Carol, in Iowa. He's giving a speech.

It will be interesting to see now if Mitt Romney latches on to that and tries to take out Newt Gingrich on this issue for the mere fact that they are the two leading candidates right now for the nomination.

COSTELLO: It was interesting how he put it, Gingrich I'm talking about. He said that if we are the party of family. He didn't say heart. Remember Rick Perry said if you had a heart you wouldn't throw them out of the country. So Newt Gingrich at least tried to put it in conservative language?

PRESTON: He did, compassionate conservative language. Language that we saw during the eight years of President Bush's administration, but again, at this point in time with the economy so bad, unemployment so high at this point.

When he used the word amnesty, what you're saying to these voters across the country, these Republican primary voters is that these are people who are taking your jobs. So that's what we're hearing last night from some of Newt Gingrich's rivals, Carol.

COSTELLO: OK, so there was also a feisty exchange between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney over troop levels in Afghanistan. Let's listen.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We haven't done a very good job defining and articulating what the end point is in Afghanistan. I think the American people are getting very tired about where we find ourselves today.

BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.

ROMNEY: Let me respond. Are you suggesting, Governor, we just take all our troops out next week?

HUNTSMAN: Did you hear what I just said? I said we should draw down from 100,000. We don't need 100,000 troops. We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10,000 or 15,000 that will serve our interests in terms of intelligence gathering and Special Forces response capability.


COSTELLO: Jon Huntsman really needed to do well in this particular debate and this is his thing, national security. So did he put on a performance that he needed to?

PRESTON: He absolutely did. But the question, is it a little too late at this point? We are just -- a little more than a month out before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. That exchange last night.

Let's look at it from two different angles. That was a New Hampshire primary exchange. The fact is Jon Huntsman, for him to survive, for him to try and go on and win the nomination, he has to win New Hampshire.

That's also the same state that Mitt Romney is putting a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort into. Also, if you look at that body language and the tone of the two men talking back at each other, it's clear that they don't like each other personally.

So not only was that a political exchange, that was also a personal exchange last night, Carol.

COSTELLO: Interesting, Mark Preston, thanks so much for your perspective this morning. We appreciate it.

CHO: Well, as you heard, Jon Huntsman sparked some lively debate last night when he talked about the need to pull out troops from Afghanistan right away. We're going to ask the former Utah governor about that plan and how he thinks he fared in last night's debate when he join us live at 8:10 a.m. Eastern Time.

And just in case you can't get enough, we're here to help you out. The next live debate hosted by CNN and co-sponsored by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference will be held on January 19th in Charleston, South Carolina. Mark your calendars.

COSTELLO: It's marked.

Angry protesters mobbing Cairo's Tahrir Square for a fifth straight day. Three American college students arrested during the uprising in Egypt expected to face more questioning with U.S. Embassy representatives on hand. That will happen today.

The students shown on Egyptian state TV are accused of lobbing Molotov cocktails at police during violent protests and now we're hearing from one of their mothers. She says her son is the type of one that would get involved, but not one who would get violent.


JOY SWEENEY, DERRIK SWEENEY'S MOTHER: He is a very passionate person. He believes in democracy. He believes in standing up for what you believe in, standing up for what you feel is right, and that's the kind of person he is. So are we surprised that he would go down there and stand up for what he believed in? No.


COSTELLO: Ivan Watson, live in Cairo for us this morning. Are the protests still going on, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There are tens of thousands of people in the square behind me. Just a quick update on the three American students. We just got off the phone with general prosecutors office here who says they're still in police custody, these three Americans.

And they will be transferred to the prosecutor's office as soon as there is some legal representation from the U.S. Embassy. We'll keep on talking about that. In the meantime, there were hundreds of thousands of people at the very least into the early pre- dawn hours here in the square.

None of them seemed to be satisfied with the speech given to the nation on Egyptian television last night from Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, the general who is in charge of the Supreme Military Council that's been ruling this country for the past nine months.

He made some concessions, said he accepted the resignation of the civilian government here, that he would push up the time for presidential elections until June or July of this summer, but that doesn't seem to satisfy the crowd here.

I think he is underestimating how much of a symbol of hatred he and the other ruling generals have become. Take a listen to what one of the protesters here had to say to us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the people, but the council is a council of puppets with the old regime and do not necessarily have our best interests in heart. They have their best interests in heart and only want money and positions and everything else.


WATSON: Now, Carol, the makeup of the protesters, these are not organized political parties. These are Egyptian youths. Many of them appear to be teenagers, and they are continuously attacking riot police in the direction ever the interior ministry just beyond this square, only, like, two blocks, really, in that direction.

We actually saw a brief cease-fire when I actually saw riot police officer, probably the same age as the kids attacking him, kissing one of the demonstrators on the cheeks, embracing him and moments later, they were throwing rocks again.

Tear gas canisters in the air and that constant sound of ambulances carrying wounded away. Thirty three people killed according to the Ministry of Health since these protests began last Saturday -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And many, many more injured. Ivan Watson reporting live from Egypt this morning. Thanks.

CHO: And ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, new allegations against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and reports say that two new accusers are still minors.

COSTELLO: And this chopper went down, but amazingly, a helicopter pilot in New Zealand somehow managed to walk away from that. That mangled wreckage.

CHO: And later, unlocking the mysteries of the universe. NASA says its new project will give us a glimpse into the dawn of time. CNN sat down with the scientists who are working on it. It's 14 minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 16 minutes past the hour.

New developments to tell you about in the Penn State sex scandal. Authorities are investigating two new cases of alleged child sex abuse against Coach Jerry Sandusky. Now, the first known cases to be reported since Sandusky's arrest involving current underage victims.

Sara Ganim, crime reporter for the "Patriot News" and a CNN contributor, she joins us from now from college -- from State College, Pennsylvania, via Skype. Good morning, Sara.


COSTELLO: So the assumption is that these relatively recent victims because they're -- I should say alleged victims, because they're under the age of 18, do you know exactly when these incidents supposedly occurred?

GANIM: We don't. All we know is that these allegations were brought to the Children and Youth Service Agency within the last 60 days. We don't know how long they've been under investigation.

In Pennsylvania, you only have 60 days to make a finding once a child abuse allegation is brought forward, and because these two have not been completed, these investigations are still ongoing, all we know is that they were opened in the last 60 days and they have to include current children, because if they were adults who came forward, even if they said this happened while they were children, if they were adults it would only be a police matter and the Children and Youth Service Agency in Pennsylvania, which is the Child Protective Services here, is involved.

COSTELLO: So what this may mean, and we're not sure, is the grand jury, what it took three years to investigate Jerry Sandusky before it finally decided to bring charges. Could these new cases of alleged abuse have happened during the grand jury investigation?

GANIM: They could have. But, remember, a child is anybody under the age of 18. So I think we have to wait and see what the results of that investigation is, or those two investigations are. But that's a possibility, and it's definitely something that the governor, Tom Corbett, has been getting a lot of questions about, because he was the attorney general at the time that this -- most -- the victim one, the first victim to come forward, at the time he came forward, Tom Corbett was the attorney general and it was about halfway through the investigation, actually when things really started to pick up that he was elected governor.

So it was around the same time he was elected that more investigators were put on the case, that the 1998 report from Penn State was found. That the graduate assistant what he witnessed, he was interviewed for the first time, that was when they found the other seven victims.

So he's been getting -- the governor has been getting a lot of questions about that and whether or not waiting three years instead of arresting Jerry Sandusky right at the beginning could have put more kids in danger.

COSTELLO: Well, I know that the governor, he wanted to find this pattern of abuse. He wanted to find more than one alleged victim. Does he regret that in any way now?

GANIM: He says that -- he says no. He's been -- like I said, he's been asked several times and he says he couldn't reveal that there was an investigation, because the Grand Jury is secret, and because of that, they were hesitant to move forward before. I believe his words were some -- you know, we don't want to reveal our investigation. We didn't want to move forward with just one case. We wanted more, and that's what they did.

COSTELLO: And, Sara, finally, Sandusky's attorney, like I see was interviewed on ABC. He believes that Sandusky may go to jail because of these new charges. What do you think?

GANIM: Well, I know this -- these are not the first two new cases that we've heard of. There have been reports of several other cases. Other attorneys have said that they have victims who say that they were abused as far back as the 1970s.

So, you know, it's kind of unclear how many of these have been vetted by police. How many might testify before a Grand Jury. How many are within the statute of limitations that the cases could be prosecuted. We don't know.

I don't know if it's 10. I don't know if it's less. I don't know if it's more. But we do know that there have been a lot of people coming forward since Jerry Sandusky was arrested. And so I think when we get to a hearing on December 13th, there could be, as in any case, there could be an issue of bail brought up again by prosecutors.

COSTELLO: We'll have to see.

Sara Ganim reporting for us via Skype. Thanks so much.

CHO: Dramatic video we want to show you of a helicopter crash in New Zealand. But wait until you hear the rest of the story. Take a look as the chopper's main rotor clipped a cable while trying to land. The chopper practically comes apart, as you can see there, the tail just snapping off. But miraculously, no one was hurt and the pilot even walked away from the wreckage. That is incredible.

COSTELLO: I can't believe he walked away.

CHO: Stranger things have happened, I guess, but, yes, it is pretty amazing.

COSTELLO: Giving thanks at Thanksgiving.

CHO: Yes, he is.

COSTELLO: Coming up, Jon Corzine has been silent since stepping down as CEO of MF Global, but we may soon hear about his firm's collapse in his own words.

CHO: And have you heard Mother Nature is not making it easy for holiday travelers. We are tracking the severe weather forecast. Where can you expect airport delays? We're going to tell you.

It's 21 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Worries about Europe's debt crisis as well as the growth of the U.S. economy are pulling stock markets down worldwide again today. U.S. stock futures are pointing to a lower opening this morning. And U.S. markets all have closed lower yesterday.

In about two hours from now, we'll get a fresh report on the number of people who filed for unemployment claims for the first time last week. We'll get those numbers to you as soon as they're available.

More bad news for Netflix. The video streaming and DVD rental service now says it expects to be in the red through all of next year. The company has been struggling since the summer when it increased prices and then later flip-flopped on the re-branding of its services.

Congress wants to talk to Jon Corzine about $1.2 billion of missing money. Members of a House Committee are holding a hearing next month to look into the collapse of MF Global, the brokerage firm that was once run by the former New Jersey governor until he stepped down last month. The firm was forced to file for bankruptcy after it made a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt.

Two mores days until Black Friday and you're in for a real bargain if you're shopping for an LCD TV this year. Experts say prices are expected to drop to record lows. Now, we're talking about 40- to 42-inch sets priced in a range of -- wait for it -- $200 to $400. Why? Because manufacturers will be trying to bring in as much business as possible after a weak sales season this fall. As if I needed more reasons to shop.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back after this.


NEWT GINGRICH (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want a law that says, after we lose a major American city we're sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says when you try to take out an American city, we're going to stop you.

CHO: Newt Gingrich challenging Ron Paul over the Patriot Act. The new co-frontrunner still getting high marks in his first debate with a bull's eye on his back -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.


COSTELLO: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 30 minutes part the hour.

Time for your morning's top stories:

The GOP national security debate is in the books. Front-runner Newt Gingrich risking the wrath of conservatives saying he'd take a humane approach to illegal immigration.

Other headlines -- Rick Santorum supporting profiling of Muslims, Ron Paul calling the Patriot Act unpatriotic, and Herman Cain addressing CNN moderators Wolf Blitzer as "Blitz."

CHO: My personal favorite.

Authorities in Pennsylvania are investigating two new cases of alleged child sex abuse by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. The first known cases to be reported since Sandusky's arrest and the first involving alleged victims who are currently children.

The former Penn State coach already faces 40 criminal counts of sex abuse involving eight boys beginning in the mid-1990s.

COSTELLO: Three American college students arrested during the uprising in Egypt expected to face more questioning with U.S. embassy representatives on hand today. The students shown on Egyptian state TV are accused are lobbing Molotov cocktails at police during violent protests.

One of the moms was saying her son is a pacifist.

CHO: Back to our top story. The 11th Republican debate of the 2012 campaign featured eight candidates gathering a few steps from the White House last night tackling tough national security and foreign policy issues like Pakistan, a shaky ally that still receives billions in U.S. aid.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They've showed us time after time that they can't be trusted. And until Pakistan clearly shows that they have America's best interests in mind, I would not send them one penny, period.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With all due respect to the governor, I think that's highly naive, because, again, we have to recognize what's happening on the ground. These are nuclear weapons all across this nation. And potentially, al Qaeda could get ahold of these weapons.


CHO: Our next two guests are especially interested in those thorny foreign policy problems. They were in the audience and they were undecided when they took their seats last night.

Let's see if anything's changed.

Joining us from Washington, Caroline Elliott. Caroline works for a defense contractor.

Good morning to you.

And Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Good morning.


CHO: Caroline, let's begin with you. What was your biggest takeaway from last night's debate?

CAROLINE ELLIOTT, ATTENDED CNN'S NATIONAL SECURITY DEBATE: There were some candidates who definitely did their homework and were able to answer questions and there were others who delivered really insightful responses.

CHO: All right. There you go.

Larry, as you wake up, what sticks with you from last night's debate?

ARNN: It's a really great debate. That was the best I've seen. Wolf Blitzer did a great job, did a good thing putting in together and forming the questions so well.

And some of these guys are really good and a couple of them shown just brilliantly, I thought, last night.

CHO: All right. Who did you think did well?

ARNN: Well, Romney's very professional, very good. He's front- runner. Newt Gingrich is a very talented man and he knows a lot about it, and he was able over and over to turn tactical things in strategic questions.

CHO: Caroline, I want to ask you about Newt Gingrich because he went into this as the front-runner, at least in our polling, 24 percent of the vote. What did you think of his performance last night?

ELLIOTT: I think he really stood out amongst all the candidates and was able to deliver very insightful comments to very complex issues.

CHO: I want to ask you because you are someone who works for a defense contractor, a lot at stake here. I know you were particularly interested in how the candidates defined friends and foes in the Middle East. What did you think about Perry and Bachmann's exchange on Pakistan with Perry saying we shouldn't give them another penny and Bachmann saying Pakistan is too nuclear to fail?

ELLIOTT: I think Bachmann understands the facts on the ground and was able to articulate those facts in a way that support continued foreign aid to Pakistan, because they are a nuclear country.

CHO: And, Larry, we saw differing views regarding the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. I want to listen first to this exchange between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Watch.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10,000 or 15,000, that will serve our interests in terms of intelligence gathering and Special Forces response capability.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not time for America to cut and run. We have been in for 10 years. We are winding down. The Afghan troops are picking up the capacity to secure their country and the mission is pretty straightforward.


CHO: All right. So, Larry, who do you agree with?

ARNN: Well, Afghanistan's a mess and it's going to be a mess for a long time, and we're going to have to try to cope with that mess. One thing that -- right at the end they got clear is, everybody should understand, this is an extremely dangerous world, and it's dangerous because it's a very powerful world and people had they have a lot of power can do a lot of harm with it.

So these foreign policy questions are not going to go away. Questions like Afghanistan are not going to go away, and I don't agree with the governor that, Huntsman, that it's going to be easy in Afghanistan. It's going to be hard and we might not win there.

CHO: All right. Caroline, we just heard from Jon Huntsman. He's going to join us in our 8:00 hour. He's gotten good reviews in the press. What's your take on how he did last night?

ELLIOTT: A little less on the thought deficit and a little more on substance.

CHO: That's it?

ELLIOTT: That's it.

CHO: And, Larry?

ARNN: He's good. He's good.

CHO: Not exactly a winning endorsement?

ARNN: Well, you know -- no, not exactly ringing endorsement.

CHO: All right. Larry, I want to ask you about this because Newt Gingrich made some news last night with what he said on immigration. Let's watch.


GINGRICH: If you've been here 25 years have three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out. The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal but don't get a pass to citizenship.


CHO: A lot of people are talking about that this morning. Larry, do you agree with what he said?

ARNN: I do. Remember what he said. He said, first of all, he said, the first step is we should control the border. We shouldn't have very wide flows of people back and forth across the border, and government benefits and all that, that's, people are being eligible for that, without being legal in this country. So he did say all that.

And then you know, is the proposition we're going to pick up somebody who's got family here, been living here 25 years and deport them? I don't think we're going to do that.

CHO: You mentioned at the top of this interview that you liked what Newt Gingrich said last night and also liked what Mitt Romney said. If you had to vote today, who would you pick?

ARNN: I think I'm instructed not to answer that question.

CHO: Well, come on.

ARNN: But Newt.

CHO: Newt Gingrich. Got it.

ARNN: Yes.

CHO: Caroline, for you?

ELLIOTT: I would have to agree.

CHO: Really? Newt Gingrich. Wow.

Well, there you go. You agree with our polling which puts him on top, with the margin of error, but on top heading into this debate. So, obviously, you were both happy with his performance last night.

Larry Arnn and Caroline Elliott, thank you.

ELLIOTT: Thank you.

CHO: And Jon Huntsman sparked lively debate last night when he talked about the need to pull out troops from Afghanistan right away. We're going to ask the former Utah governor about that plan and how he thinks he fared when he joins us at 8:10 a.m. Eastern Time.

COSTELLO: For the millions of Americans, today is getaway day and people are hitting the road early trying to get a jump-start on one of the most busiest travel periods. A live look at Chicago now at some of the 42 million people on the move this week, on the roads, on the rails and in the air. We have the Thanksgiving travel rush covered like a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey!


CHO: Oh, my God. Did you just say that?

COSTELLO: I did. Some people love that. Some do.

George Howell is at one of the nation's busiest airports, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, and Jacqui Jeras is looking at what Mother Nature is serving up for holiday travel. She's at the extreme weather center.

But let's check in first with George Howell at the airport.

How's it looking, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, first of all, I love the setup. It's perfect. And great news for people that are traveling out of Atlanta at this hour.

We went inside and to give you a lay of the land, no major delays on the big board, which is great news for people who are traveling through Atlanta, and connections here throughout the world.

Also, we checked inside. You find some of the lines growing, but for the most part, it's open season in there -- pretty easy as far as getting around to the main gates. We also found inside that people are, you know, a bit frustrated with the fees, but for the most part, happy that they got here early.

And, again, this is the busiest operations and passenger airport in the world, some 240,000 people at this airport on any given day. And for the next few days, it's projected that at least 3.4 million people will be flying. So good news out of Atlanta and, again, good news for people who are early.

COSTELLO: And good news for people who were early and it's early yet. So it could get a little bit more crowded later on in the afternoon. But it's great. It's kind of calm now.

George, thank you.

Let's head to the weather center and check in with Jacqui, because, although people arrived early at the airport and it looks peaceful now, the weather certainly could throw a wench into their plans and to that peaceful nature at the airport.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know things are going to be changing throughout the day. You know, Carol, we've got two storm systems both on the coasts of the country and both where a lot of people live.

And as we take a look at Flight Explorer, you can see all the congestion already in the air. This Flight Explorer and it's estimating about 1,800 planes right now and on a peak day like today, we would see as many as 6,000 planes. So, as that number increases progressively throughout the day and that volume goes up, it's going to take longer to shoot the approach, as you call it, mind those planes to safely land when you have rain and overcast conditions.

So, major delays are going to be expected to start in places like Boston and New York City. It's likely going to be over an hour. Places like D.C. and Philadelphia. Delays are likely under an hour. Atlanta and Charlotte, low clouds and wind expecting to cause issues here. Seattle, mostly in the morning, we think, and then San Francisco looking at some delays because of the fog.

As we take a look at the radar picture today, there you can see all the showers and, yes, that is snow on the northern tier of that thing there as well, and we're expecting to see accumulations maybe around six to 12 inches.

Flooding is also an issue on the roadways. Philadelphia, you've already have a couple inches of rain in urban and small streams flooded are in effect. So, you might run into some water-covered roads. Don't drive over them.

Watch out for that on the turnpike for today and as we head into the afternoon. We'll watch our cold front make its way off the coast.

So, drier conditions are coming. Even by noon, say, in New York City, it's going to be a lot better and getting progressively better throughout the day. But keep in mind, the volume is increasing throughout the day, too.

The nation's midsection is looking at dry and cool travel weather. Good there. And the Pacific Northwest will see improvements in the afternoon, but our second front arrives by tomorrow. So, keep that in mind.

And check it out, Carol and Alina. Temperature-wise, this is not brutal. This is not an arctic cold front that's moving through. You'll still get to around 50 today in places like Minneapolis and Chicago. Not terrible for late November.

COSTELLO: No, that's awesome. Are you kidding?

JERAS: I know.

CHO: That's the cup half full. Now, if you could make the rain go away.


JERAS: I'm trying.

COSTELLO: Would you work on that?

JERAS: I'm working on it.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Jacqui.

CHO: All right.

COSTELLO: Coming up, it's a new telescope that makes the Hubble look like a play school toy. NASA's new project could unlock the greatest mysteries in the universe and CNN spoke with one of the scientists building it.

It's 42 minutes past the hour.


CHO: Welcome back. Forty-six minutes after the hour.

We have an update now from outer space. The team of astronauts is safe after a chunk of space junk hurled past the International Space Station. It happened this morning. Now, NASA had planned to move the crew into the Soyuz vehicle attached to the space station to keep them safe, but officials determined that they didn't need to do it.

The junk was not a threat. Turns out what was that junk? It was a piece of a Chinese weather satellite.

COSTELLO: Whew. But it went sailing by and everybody's OK.

CHO: That's right.

COSTELLO: And that's a good thing. In the meantime, NASA is working on a project that could literally change the way we see the universe. A new telescope could unlock the world's biggest mysteries like how old is the universe anyway and, of course, do aliens exist?

CHO: A question everyone wants to know.

COSTELLO: Sounds great, right? The problem is, Congress wanted to axe the project.

CHO: I think we're talking about money here. CNN's John Zarrella is live for us in Miami. John, the telescope was spared, but this is by no means a long-term guarantee, right?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's absolutely right, Alina and carol. You know, consider Webb, the younger, smarter brother, The Hubble, the Hubble telescope, web, Webb has been a real problem child with cost overruns and schedule delays. Yet, because of its incredible promise, NASA has fought tooth and nail to keep the web telescope.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): This is the future, outside the Maryland Science Center. It's a full-scale model of NASA's James Webb space telescope. Scientists believe the real thing will redefine our understanding of our place in the university. It will be so unique, it can look further back in time than the Hubble telescope, almost to the dawn of creation.

JOHN MATHER, SENIOR PROJECT SCIENTIST: The changed Webb telescope is to help us find our entire history, from the first things after the Big Bang to how the first galaxies are born.

ZARRELLA: And astronomers say, if they look in just the right place and get just a bit lucky --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may give us our first clues about the existence of life in another solar system.

MATHER: If we could see a planet like earth with an ocean, I think that'd be really cool.

ZARRELLA: Webb will orbit about one million miles from earth. It's instruments are designed to image primarily in the infrared range, light we can't see. Webb's capabilities will allow it to literally look where Hubble could not, into gas and dust clouds, at the birth of the first stars and planets. Sounds incredible, right? Webb might get us another step closer to solving the puzzle, are we alone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't even know how you would put a price on being able to answer questions like, how old is the universe? How did this all start? Where's it going? What is it made of? Are there other people out there like us? These questions are just so intrinsic. ZARRELLA: But there is a price tag. When Webb is finally launched in 2018, it will be years behind schedule and cost about $8.8 billion, $6.5 billion more than the original estimate. At one point, Congress came close to killing it. So, what happened? How did it end up astronomy at an astronomical cost?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're doing inventions and things for the first time, you don't know exactly what you're going to run into, and we found several things that we had to work around.

ZARRELLA: And it better work from a get-go. When Hubble ran into problems, space shuttle astronauts came to the rescue, but Hubble was only 300 miles up. At one million miles away, even if the shuttle was still flying, it couldn't get there to fix Webb.


ZARRELLA (on-camera): One of the things that really came down to it from NASA was the project was, so far, along in the pipeline. So much work have been done on the giant mirrors that it would have cost even more money to scrub the project than to keep going on with it, and because of it's incredible promise, they did not want to cancel it.

Now, tomorrow, you know, we've been looking at, is there life out there? What are the realities of finding life? But, at the same time, we need to be protecting life here on earth from asteroids out there. So, we're going to take a look at what some scientists are doing to protect us from what's out there.

CHO: All right. That's something I'm interested in.


CHO: All right. Yes. Let's protect those, the humans on earth.


CHO: All right, John Zarrella, thank you so much.

COSTELLO: Coming up, the nasty habit Major League Baseball players are now supposed to try to hide from the fans. Fifty minutes past the hour.


CHO: Eight minutes before the top of the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.


CHO (voice-over): At last night's Republican debate, Newt Gingrich says he will take a new main approach to immigration. The former House speaker says he doesn't want to break up families that have been in this country illegally for decades. It's a position that could alienate some conservatives. Three American college students arrested during the uprising in Egypt. They're expected to face more questioning with U.S. embassy representatives on hand today. Violent protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square now entering its fifth day.

Yemen's president taking the first step to leave office today. Ali Abdullah Saleh will sign an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council to end the violent unrest in his country. He says he'll step down from power within 90 days.

No more executions. Governor John Kitzhaber blocked an execution scheduled for next month in Oregon and says no more will happen while he's in office. He plans to push for reforms in 2013.

It turns out a water pump break in Illinois was not the result of a cyber attack. A cyber security expert blogged about the early speculation that was made by federal authorities. The final report shows there was no evidence to support those early claims.

Major League Baseball limiting the use of smokeless tobacco. Players, managers, and coaches will not be allowed to use tobacco during televised interviews and club appearances. Also, they must hide the products around fans.


CHO (on-camera): That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.


COSTELLO: Six minutes until the top of the hour. Welcome back. It's time to laugh.


COSTELLO: So, let's head to Jimmy Kimmel, because he introduced us to the GOP-nuts last night. Take a look.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: One of my favorite things to do before Thanksgiving is to watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. They started airing the special in 1973. That's 28 years ago. So, to freshen things up a little bit, we removed the original audio and we replaced it with audio from a Republican debate, and I think it really freshens it up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you hire illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year, and the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick, I don't think I've ever hired an illegal in my life, and so, I'm afraid -- I'm looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just oesn't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what the facts are.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick, I'm speaking. I'm speaking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rule here is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 seconds to respond, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you want --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you please, wait? Are you just going to keep talking? Will you let me finish what I have to say.



KIMMEL: It's the GOP-nuts.



COSTELLO: See, the GOP-nuts.

CHO: Peppermint Patty and Linus, not bad as Perry and Romney.


COSTELLO: I wonder how long it took to do that? That's amazing.

CHO: That was very, very well-editing.


CHO: All right. We know about editing here.

Ahead next hour, plains, trains, automobiles, will you be getting out today? Will you be joining tens of millions of others who will be? A wild weather forecast on one the busiest travel days of the year. Down pours, avalanche warning? We'll keep you posted on the latest delays. We're back after a quick break.