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American Morning

Syracuse Coach Speaks About Child Sex Abuse Scandal; Herman Cain Reassessing Campaign; Occupy L.A. Encampment Cleared by Police; Newt Gingrich's Economic Plan; Rick Perry Flubs Voting Age, Election Day; Cain "Reassessing" His Campaign; Clinton Visits Myanmar; 200 Arrests at "Occupy L.A." Raid; White House Launches Obama Campaign; Boeheim Not Worried About His Job; Biden in Iraq; Election Violence in Egypt; Giordano Released From Aruban Jail; Dr. Murray Gets Max; Herman Cain "Re-Assessing" Campaign; Cain Reassessing GOP Presidential Campaign; 35 Million Dread Being Nice for Holidays; Daredevil Races Fighter Jets with Jet Pack

Aired November 30, 2011 - 06:59   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Raided. The dismantling of Occupy L.A. camp underway right now. Hundreds of riot police moving in. Many protesters standing their ground.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Two million workers walking. Britain bracing for the biggest strike of a generation, and unions in the U.S. showing their support for workers overseas.

COSTELLO: Just a few weeks ago, he was the GOP frontrunner. Now, Herman Cain may be setting the stage for his exit after a woman accuses him of a 13-year sexual affair.


JIM BOEHEIM, SYRACUSE MEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH: I never worried about my job status in 36 years.


COSTELLO: Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim addressing the Bernie Fine sex abuse scandal. Questions about what happened on his watch overshadowing the game on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning to you. It is Wednesday, November 30th. Ali has the day off. I'm Carol Costello along with Christine Romans on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: Good morning, everybody. Up first, the dismantling of Occupy L.A. camp overnight. Hundreds of riot police moved in. By some counts there are more police than protesters. The raid came some 48 hours after demonstrators were ordered to leave. Police on the scene briefed reporters just moments ago. Sandra Endo is live in downtown L.A. for us. What are police telling you after that briefing, Sandra?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, the police chief just spoke to reporters and said that this whole operation has been successful. Just let me show you the scene right now very quickly, because they are still making a handful of arrests of people who just are refusing to leave. So it's still a very active scene. This has been going on for several hours now. But let's listen to the police chief, what he said a few moments ago.


CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: And 1,400 police officers came to this encampment today and removed what we think is probably resulting in over 200 arrests at this point with minimal use of force, absolutely minimal. It was an operation that was planned and conceived by my command staff. They did a fantastic job.


ENDO: And we saw this all happen firsthand. What happened was evictors they knew they were going in, the police they were going to try to get these protesters out of the camp. So these protesters flooded the street. This whole street was shut down, filled with protesters knowing the police were going to come. Then the police made a sneak attack, came behind city hall and then raided the park. They took control of the park, collapsed the tents.

When the protesters tried to get back into the camp, that is when a standoff ensued. We were in the middle of it all. A little pushing, a little shoving, but clearly a very peaceful event overall. And a lot of people listened to the warning telling them to get out of the park. But a lot of people also wanted to make their statement known, stayed in the park, sat down, linked arm. Some people were crying. Others had bandannas over their mouths. But obviously they wanted to get arrested for this cause.

ROMANS: Sandra Endo in Los Angeles. Thanks.

COSTELLO: No signs Herman Cain is quitting. After informing his staff he was re-assessing his campaign, Cain took the stage in Michigan last night trying to sound presidential. He laid out a national security plan and a foreign policy strategy while sidestepping allegations he had a 13-year affair with a Georgia businesswoman. And Cain is keeping up his campaign plans with a bus tour through Ohio that starts today.

CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington for us. So at what point will Herman Cain make that final decision, whether he's going to stay in the race or drop out?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we're five weeks away now, Carol, from those Iowa caucuses, the first contest in the race for the nomination. A source from the campaign says that decision could come in the next couple of days whether Herman Cain continues on or whether he stops his campaign. But you're right, he didn't sound like he was stopping his campaign last night in that speech in Ohio. Later today he goes to New Hampshire as well where he will speak with reporters.

As for this reassessment, that's what he announced yesterday he was doing with the campaign. Cain says "I've done this four times before this year." So he's kind of downplaying it.

Here's what he said on a conference call to campaign staffers yesterday morning. He said "We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this will create too much of a cloud in some people's minds and whether or not they would be able to support us going forth."

Now, about those allegations on the affair, he went on to say "It's also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine."

But later in the day an e-mail to supporters of his campaign, Cain sounded much more forceful, saying "Let me assure you, I am not deterred. America's future is too important. We will continue on this journey to make America great once again."

All right, Carol, the big question mark, of course, his falling poll numbers. They've slid. But also, more than that, campaign fundraising. Take a listen to what his top guy in Iowa said to John King on "JOHN KING USA" last night.


STEVE GRUBBS, CAIN IOWA CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We don't have major donors and he's not a candidate. He's not going to be able to self- fund the whole thing. So if people make contributions we'll keep the campaign doors open and be able to keep paying people. Otherwise -- otherwise Herman Cain will have to make a decision whether he can afford to keep moving forward. Now, I believe people will come through and I believe that we have enough supporters across the nation to keep this campaign viable.


STEINHAUSER: And you know right now behind the scene that's what Cain and his campaign advisers are trying to figure out. Do they have the money? Can they keep the poll numbers up?

Let's say he does drop out, where will his votes go, his conservative supporters? Take a look at this. This is our most recent CNN/ORC polls from November, and we asked those Cain people where would you go, who is your second choice? Look who is on the top of that list -- Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, who seems to be right now the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Four in 10 say that Gingrich was their second choice. Only one in four say that Romney is their second choice. Carol?

COSTELLO: Paul Steinhauser live in Washington, thanks.

ROMANS: New developments this morning in the Syracuse sex abuse scandal. We're hearing from head coach Jim Boeheim for the first time since his longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired. Boeheim held a news conference after the Orange rolled to an 84-48 victory over Eastern Michigan last night. Boeheim said he isn't concerned about losing his job, but he was defensive when a reporter asked whether the alleged abuse could have happened, quote, "on his watch." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHEIM: This is an investigation that's underway. There are no charges. There are no indictments. There is no grand jury. There is -- no action being taken. When that is done then we will see what has happened on my watch.


ROMANS: Ed Lavandera is live for us in Syracuse this morning. And it seems clear from what Boeheim has said so far, what little he has said, a couple of different press releases and statements he made to the media that this whole thing caught him completely off guard and he initially really supported Bernie Fine. He'd known him so long he had never heard of these allegations.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. And this relationship dates back nearly 50 years. And it was interesting is last night Jim Boeheim came out onto the basketball court there on the Syracuse University campus that as he was introduced he got a loud ovation from the crowd there, some 19,000 people at the game last night.

But as you mentioned, Christine, the talk after the game was hardly about basketball. It was mostly focusing on this investigation. Jim Boeheim says that even though he has control over the basketball team, he doesn't have control over what adults do. And he's quick to point out that he is shocked and terribly saddened by this.

But a lot of attention also paid to his change in tone, the way he's talked about this case changed dramatically in the last two week. Initially when the story broke he described the accusers that had come out so far and called them liars, said they were chasing money. His latest statement after Bernie Fine was fired from Syracuse University, his tone changed dramatically. Boeheim was asked about that and talked about that last night after the game.


BOEHEIM: I supported a friend. That's what I thought I did. I'm proud that I did. I think if you've known with somebody and worked with somebody for -- worked with them for 36 years and known them for 48 years, you went to school with them, I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. And that's what my reaction was, and so be it.


LAVANDERA: And he says, look, as things have changed and more he's learned, obviously, opinions can change, and so any specific questions that we kind of prodded him on about what he knew and what was known at the time of these investigations, Boeheim kind of stuck to a script he had written out for himself. It was hard to get him to go beyond that. But those people you heard clapping there, his wife was standing off to the side and there were supporters and people who work with him in the athletic department who started clapping. I think they were really responding to his loyalty that he said he was exhibiting towards his longtime friend and assistant coach.

ROMANS: All right, Ed Lavandera. Talk to you soon.

COSTELLO: He got the max. An angry judge throwing book at Conrad Murray, sentencing him to four years behind bars for Michael Jackson's death, saying the doctor is dangerous and has no sense of remorse.


JUDGE MICHAEL PASTOR, L.A. COUNTRY SUPERIOR COURT: Experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated. And Mr. Jackson was an experiment. He engaged in this money-for-medicine madness.


COSTELLO: After that scolding, cameras caught Murray blowing a kiss to someone in court on his way outside. Whether the doctor will serve all the time that he was sentenced to is another question, because California has a serious prison overcrowding problem.

ROMANS: The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan is seeking his freedom in federal hearings that begin today. A court will decide whether John Hinckley should be released from a mental hospital. Hinckley shot President Reagan back in 1981 in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. His doctors say his mental problems are in remission. But government officials believe he is still capable of violence.

Pakistan's military releasing new video showing the aftermath of that NATO attack over the weekend. Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers were killed in the airstrike. Pakistan's prime minister says he's reevaluating his country's relationship with the United States. Pakistan will boycott an upcoming conference in Afghanistan. U.S. officials are investigating the incident.

Hillary Clinton has arrived in Myanmar. She's the first secretary of state to visit the Southeast Asian nation in five decades. The historic two-day trip comes on the heels of dramatic concessions by President Thein Sein and his new government. They recently freed dozens of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.

COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, some are calling him the accident's nominee. Why Mitt Romney may be the luckiest candidate ever to run for president.

ROMANS: Oops, the gaffes keep coming for rick Perry. The GOP candidate make as double flub at a recent campaign stop. We'll show you the tape, straight ahead. COSTELLO: And it's said to be one of the largest strikes in a generation, shutting down schools and creating long lines at airports. We'll take you live to London with developing details of a nationwide strike.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 11 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: It's 14 minutes participate the hour. Welcome back. What if they held a presidential race and all the candidates imploded except for one? It's not such a farfetched notion, and the last man standing might be Mitt Romney, who some are calling the accidental nominee. Here's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Mitt Romney just might be the most fortunate contender in the 2012 campaign. While he's been warming up some half-baked attack lines for the president -

MITT ROMNEY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He'd never had a job. I think to create jobs it helps to have had a job and I have.

ACOSTA: Romney's rivals have been burning themselves, whether it's Herman Cain or Rick Perry. Cain, an associate minister who was officiating (ph) weddings is the latest contender to stumble facing accusations of breaking some marriage vows of his own. Allegations he's denied. Romney critics say it's another break for the front- runner.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Can I just say that Mitt Romney is the luckiest man on the planet? I mean, all of these guys just keep imploding. Their campaigns implode and Romney just holds steady like 22 to 25 percent.

ACOSTA: Romney's done that in part by playing it safe. Granting few national interviews and holding only brief news conferences. He's also picked up key endorsements from Cuban-American politicians in the early voting State of Florida to a pair of GOP senators, Kelly Ayotte and John Thune.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.

ACOSTA: After the Romney campaign took the president's words out of context in a negative ad last week -

ROMNEY: The right next step in the - in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is to see Roe V. Wade overturned.

ACOSTA: The Democratic Party responded in kind with its own misleading use of Romney's past comments to paint the former governor as a flip-flopper. But that fit neatly into the Romney playbook, fight with the president, not with his GOP foes. ROMNEY: It shows that they're afraid of me to face in the general election. They want to put (ph) the primary process to anybody but me, so bring it on. We're ready for them.

ACOSTA: But before he can bring on the president, he still has to get past his latest surging rival, Newt Gingrich. The former speaker just won the endorsement of New Hampshire's major newspaper and now has the lead in a new South Carolina poll, ahead of Romney and the fading Cain. Gingrich suggested to a radio talk show host, Romney is not a reliable conservative.

NEW GINGRICH (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): I wouldn't switch my positions for political reasons.

ACOSTA (on camera): Governor Romney, how do you answer the charge from Speaker Gingrich?

(voice-over): Romney wanted nothing of it. Climbing in his SUV, and back under the radar.

(on camera): A Cain exit from the GOP race could cut two ways for Mitt Romney. A recent CNN/ORC Poll finds it could certainly help Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry, but it could also work to Romney's advantage telling Republican voters it's time to end the GOP reality show and get behind a candidate who has a decent shot of beating the president.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Tampa, Florida.


ROMANS: All right. What do the candidates really stand for when it comes to the economy? There are very different ideas among the Republicans. Many of whom you just saw there, but most overlap on three key points. - cutting corporate taxes, repealing so-called Obama Care, shrinking the government. Basically all of them say that this president has been terrible for the economy, and they would be better.

This week, we wanted to focus a little bit on Newt Gingrich. We're hearing a lot more about the former House Speaker's plan as he emerges as the front-runner in some polls. His economic plan includes those three points that we just mentioned, but what else is in there?

He wants to scrap a state and capital gains taxes completely. He wants to extend the Bush tax cuts and he wants to give voters the option, the option, for a 15 percent flat tax on income. You remember Rick Perry had something very similar. Twenty percent optional flat tax on income.

Also, he wants to balance the budget. He wants to break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and on this point it's a little bit controversial. Because you remember that Gingrich has taken a lot of heat recently over the money. More than $1.5 million that he earned - or his company earned from consulting work with Freddie Mac. He wants to reform the Federal Reserve and limit its powers. And what else? He wants to switch over to something that's called the Six Sigma - Lean Six Sigma to Manage Our Government. What is that? It's sort of a cult business management technique used by many Fortune 500 companies. That folks is on quality control and efficiency, which would mean, of course, in the government cutting the fat, firing underperforming employees, seeking to strict budget terms.

Carol, it means basically doing business a whole lot differently than the government currently does and he says you could save tens of billions of dollars by doing that. Hundreds of billions over the long-term by doing that, by running the government like you run a company.

Those are just some of the key points of Newt Gingrich's economic plan.

COSTELLO: And we're going to the rest of candidates later?

ROMANS: Oh, yes. One by one.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Christine.

OK. Let's talk about one of the other candidates. Because, oops, he did it again. Rick Perry messes up some simple campaign facts in New Hampshire. The Republican presidential candidate gets the country's voting age and the election date wrong.


RICK PERRY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote. Those of you who wouldn't be, just work hard, because you're going to inherit this and you're counting on us getting this right.


COSTELLO: For the record, the voting age in this country is 18 and the general election is scheduled for November 6th.

ROMANS: All right. It's 20 minutes after the hour. That means it's time for Rob Marciano. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Some temperatures that are kind of out of whack across the northeast. The past couple of days have been 20, even 30 degrees above average in record setting.

Today, the atmosphere is going to try to even things out just a little bit. But still, as far north as Bangor, Maine, almost 60 degrees at this hour. Rotating showers up into northern New England and then rotating cold air behind this thing, temperatures in D.C. certainly feeling more like fall or even December-like, into the 30s. And beyond that, in Lexington and further places to the west in the 20s, in Milwaukee right now and 30 degrees currently in Detroit. So here you go, cold air driving all the way down to the south. Don't have to tell you there. And then some decent weather across the midsection of the country and storm system that's dropping down out of Canada will bring 6 to 12 inches of snow across parts the Northern Rockies, maybe 12 to 20 in parts of - inches of snow across parts of the Wasatch of Utah.

And that will help instigate some Santa Ana winds that will be very strong it looks like tonight and especially into tomorrow morning. This could be historic event with winds gusting up to 80 miles an hour in the favored areas, downed trees and power lines a possibility with this system. And it's also going to slow down some air travel as well in Los Angeles and San Francisco later on today and then windy conditions throughout the day across the New York metro airports.

Guys, back to you.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: You bet.

ROMANS: See you soon.

MARCIANO: You bet.

COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, how - how you could maybe one day own a piece of an iconic New York City skyscraper. Yes, the Empire State Building.

ROMANS: And we don't mean the parking ticket in front of it. Another piece of it.

And prepare for the attack ads. The White House launching its re-election campaign and they're targeting one particular Republican in the first wave of commercials. We'll tell you which one.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 21 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business."

Banks downgraded. The top six biggest banks in America were all downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's late last night. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

S&P says it's got a new ratings system based on the new evaluation of the - of the banks strengths and weaknesses. Also don't forget, you've got Europe's crisis that's really raising big concerns about the banking system and credit worldwide.

Right now, U.S. stock futures are trading higher that's because China just eased its banks reserve requirements. What that means it essentially frees up more cash to support the global banking system. The first time China's done this since December of 2008. You can tell Europe fixes its mess, so we're expecting some big swings and uncertainty in the stock market.

The Federal Reserve - some officials there are warning that the global economy still faces critical challenges like Europe's debt crisis and America's housing market. But officials from the Central Bank stopped short of supporting new measures to boost growth. But one official did say the Fed could keep short-term interest rates close to zero for longer to help the U.S. economy.

The Federal Communications Commission slamming AT&T saying AT&T presented flawed information about its proposed merger with T-Mobile. In the 109-page report, the FCC all but accuses AT&T of lying - lying about the benefits of the merger saying it would not create new jobs and would lessen competition and consumer choice.

Facebook settling with the Feds over allegations it failed to protect members' private information. The social network has agreed to go through a privacy audit every two years for the next 20 years. The Federal Trade Commission also has the power to fine Facebook $16,000 if the site does anything deceptive.

And you could soon own a piece of the Empire State Building. The folks that own the New York City landmark reportedly filed papers to create a publicly-traded company that will allow people like you and me to invest in the world's famous skyscraper and other New York properties.

AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after this quick break.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 30 minutes past the hour. Time for this morning's top stories.

No sign of surrender from Herman Cain after telling his staff he's reassessing his campaign. The embattled businessman delivered a speech on foreign policy and national security at a Michigan College last night. Never addressing allegations of that extramarital affair with a Georgia woman.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton arrived in Myanmar this morning for the first U.S. visit of a secretary of state in some 50 year years.

She says she will assess government reform there. The new government recently freed a number of political prisoners. Clinton will meet with one Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

COSTELLO: More than 200 people arrested overnight as police cleared out protesters in Los Angeles, "Occupy" protesters. They were warned to leave their camp near city hall. The move comes 48 hours after a deadline to get out expired.

ROMANS: Republicans like to call him the campaigner and chief, but as far as Democrats are concerned the president has some catching up to do because the opposition has been on the offensive for months and only now is the White House launching a counter attack. So let the attack all begin.

Brianna Keilar is live at the White House. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning there, Christine. You know, the White House has been resistant for some time now. Over and over for months to this suggestion that President Obama is campaigning, but he's gone through a lot of battleground states.

He will do it again today as he heads to Scranton, Pennsylvania. And now all you have to do is really turn on your TV to see that campaign season has begun. Not just for Republicans, but for President Obama.


KIELAR (voice-over): He's off and running.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The 2012 campaign is under way and the outcome will depend not on wrap I do but on what you do.

KEILAR: The president's re-election campaign launched its first ads Tuesday looking for volunteers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: To help build our campaign in your community.

KEILAR: The same week the DNC put out this ad resembling a movie trailer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The story of two men, dressed in one body.

KEILAR: Hitting Republican rival Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper, even before the first caucus and primary.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Great to be back in Virginia.

KEILAR: During his third year in office, Mr. Obama has held 55 events in swing states more than any other president according to the "Wall Street Journal." Republicans are hitting him saying he's campaigning on the taxpayers' dime, but the White House denies the travel is political.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Every president ought to be able to travel everywhere in the country. It's part of his responsibility, serving the American people to get out, be among them and speak with them about his or her agenda. This president will continue to do that.

KEILAR: Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos, says the president should be out on the campaign trail. ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Nothing's getting done in Washington from now until next November. So it's not too early for the president to get out there and start campaigning.

KEILAR: But Castellanos also says it's understandable the White House is resistant to calling what looks and sound like political events political.

CASTELLANOS: I think the president is caught in the a catch 22 here, and that is in a he's running against politics in Washington. He says that's what's preventing anything from getting done, but then he's going out in and becoming political. And that is open to the charge of hypocrisy and that's what he's trying to avoid.


KEILAR: Now the other sensitivity here is the cost of presidential travel, because taxpayers pick up, really, the vast majority of the tab here.

Even though that's, of course, perfectly legal, voters tend to have a problem with it, when it appears to be political travel. Christine, as you can imagine, that's really a concern for any president, Republican or Democratic.

ROMANS: Yes. All right, Brianna Keilar at the White House. Thanks, Brianna.

COSTELLO: Also new this morning, Syracuse head coach, Jim Boeheim says he's not worried about his job. He addressed the Bernie Fine child sex abuse scandal after his team won last night.

Three men have come now forward saying the former Syracuse assistant coach molested them when they were kids, no charges have been filed.

ROMANS: Vice President Joe Biden marking the upcoming end of the Iraq war with a surprise visit to Baghdad. He arrived yesterday for meetings with Iraqi leaders and to pay homage to the last U.S. troops coming home by the end the year.

COSTELLO: A bloody night in Cairo. At least 62 people injured by rocks and bottles and fire bombs in Tahrir Square. All while Egyptians continued heading to the polls for a second day of elections. They're choosing members of the lower House of Parliament who will then be asked to draft a new constitution for Egypt.

ROMANS: The man arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Maryland woman in Aruba, he is a free man this morning. Gary Giordano's attorneys say Aruban authorities let him go last night.

Giordano has never been charged in this case and the judge ruled that he can no longer be kept in custody. The missing woman, Robyn Gardner was last seen in August when she went snorkelling with Giordano. COSTELLO: An angry judge throwing the book at Dr. Conrad Murray sentencing him to four years behind bars for Michael Jackson's death. Saying he's is dangerous and has no sense of remorse.


JUDGE MICHAEL PASTOR, L.A. COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment. He engaged in this money-for-medicine madness.


COSTELLO: After that scolding, cameras caught Murray blowing a kiss to someone in the courtroom on his way outside. Whether Murray will serve all of his time is another question because there's an overcrowding problem in California prisons.

ROMANS: I don't know if that was a loving kiss or a kiss -- it's unclear. All right, four men charged in the Amish beard cutting case. They're headed to court today for an arraignment.

The men each face hate crime charges for shaving beards and cutting hair of members of a rival Amish group. A man's beard and his head hair are sacred in the Amish religion.

COSTELLO: The Obama administration is appealing a federal judge's decision to block new cigarette warning. The president is pushing a law that forces tobacco companies to label cigarette packages with graphic anti-smoking messages. The court called the proposal unconstitutional.

ROMANS: All right, still to come this morning, the Cain train may leave the station. His campaign rocked by a new sex scandal. Herman Cain reassessing whether to stay in the race, but the polls says he still has a shot.

COSTELLO: It looks like the latest comic book movie, a man soaring in formation with fighter jets. The legend of the Jetman growing after another death-defying stunt. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 36 minutes --


COSTELLO: It's 40 minutes past the hour. Welcome back.

Is the Cain train leaving the station or has it already left? GOP candidate Herman Cain reassessing whether to continue his presidential run.

His campaign has been rocked by a new sex scandal. I'm sure you've heard about it by now. An Atlanta woman claims she had a 13- year long affair, extramarital affair with Cain.

He denies it. So will he stay, or will he go? Let's turn to Republican analyst, Leslie Sanchez, and CNN contributor, Ruben Navarrette. Good morning to both of you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.


COSTELLO: Good morning. So Leslie, let's start with you. Ginger White, Cain's alleged mistress was out doing a morning show today. She was on "Good Morning America" and she spilled more details of that alleged relationship she had with Herman Cain. I mean, I don't know. Does it matter what else she says?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, FOUNDER AND CEO, IMPACTO GROUP LLC: I think people have heard enough, but unfortunately there will probably be a lot more. That was part of the innuendo I think that you saw, the narrative that was being painted about many of these women that were coming forward related to sexual harassment issues and Cain.

It was this cloud of doubt and as the information continues to drip forward, it makes it incredibly difficult for him to focus on his candidacy. He sent a letter of support out last night. He had a call. He's trying to get supporters energized saying it's just a bump in the road.

The challenge is the money. I think everybody's talking about that. It's drying up, and Republicans are very serious and focused on 2012. They're looking for the most competitive candidate, and all of this is a distraction that will continue to make it really just an uphill battle for him moving forward.

COSTELLO: And Ruben, would it be fair to say that supporters of Herman Cain, voters I'm talking about kind of didn't believe the women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, but this latest woman, she's -- she's not easy to dismiss.

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, COLUMNIST, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Carol, absolutely. This latest charge is much different, and I think it's much more damaging in the long run. The woman's very believable, but beyond that, I think that Herman Cain's denials flat out denial insisting people are lying is really wearing thin with a lot of his voters.

I don't think it's really a question of morality. This is not really about sex or infidelity or morality, how people feel about that. It's really about a sense that Herman Cain isn't telling the truth to us. He wasn't prepared to enter the race in the first place.

He had these skeletons in his closet. It looks like, and he just never was prepared to deal with them that does not set well with voters. They think themselves that somebody who is running for president should just be much more prepared for this sort of thing.

COSTELLO: And I think you've hit it, because I think some voters are saying, Herman Cain knew that this was in his past. Shouldn't he have prepared knowing that he was going to run for president?

SANCHEZ: He should have prepared better. He should had a better team. You know, and overall, if you look back at his statement when talking about, I've never done anything to anyone at anytime, I'm kind of paraphrasing.

That was a challenge and unfortunately, it hearkens back to Gary Hart. I mean, this whole idea of challenging the media. So if there was any -- a hotel receipt, if there's a restaurant receipt, if there's a picture that basically laid groundwork for anything to surface, much less no one anticipated something like this latest incident. It's just incredibly difficult to focus on the issue and focus on this in a short amount of time.

COSTELLO: So Cain's people came out and then they tweeted, I think this was also on ABC News that Cain was not dropping out of the race instead he's going to change his strategy. He's going on a bus tour in Ohio. Ruben, will we see that change in strategy today in Ohio?

NAVARRETTE: He may in fact -- his strategy. He may decide to think this out.

COSTELLO: But why?

NAVARRETTE: Well, I think maybe more direct connection to the voters, just kind of getting out on a bus tour. Maybe he thinks that the media filter is not serving him well. You remember, for a while, he was doing all these radio interviews, television interviews.

And he may now think that strategy sort of backfired on him and now he wants to go directly to the voters. I don't know if it works. I don't think it works ultimately.

But if the day comes Herman Cain drops out, you can be assured of at least one thing. There is trouble on the home front. I am sure these allegations take a toll on your family life and if ever the time comes where he backs away from the table that will be the reason why.

COSTELLO: And Leslie, I think that many people out there think Herman Cain was never serious about actually winning the White House. He was actually just going on a big book tour to sell books.

I mean, is that too cynical or is it more, is it Herman Cain started out that way and said, wow. I really could be president, so I'm going to get serious. I mean, which was it, do you think?

SANCHEZ: You know, I think when people decide they want to run for president, that's incredibly difficult challenge to do. It's a lot easier to talk about it than actually execute it, to put a national organization together, to raise the kind of resources they're going to need to actually be competitive.

The advantages he's an outsider. He was somebody who's not part of the status quo. This is very much reform oriented election cycle with voters looking for someone different. So that did appeal, but he's very much, has always been, a media darling.

There's something about the press -- ask Sarah Palin -- they're either at your feet or at your neck. I think he's realizing quickly, this is not the type of candidacy that can be legitimate this go-round for national office at the presidential level.

COSTELLO: It's interesting. You mentioned voters were looking for an outsider but, so far, all of the outsiders have pretty much imploded. The insiders are the ones who are -- the insiders are the ones ahead in the polls, Ruben. What do you make of that? Do people really want an outsider there?

NAVARRETTE: Well, yes. It's a good point. They want and outsider, but the insiders are the ones who how to play the game. They're the ones who are experts at dealing with the media, 20, 30 years of dealing with the media, fending off accusations of various kinds. So while people may say they want an outsider, when you pair up an outsider versus an insider, the insiders know the game and have staying power and don't get caught up. It was said often times, and I'll say it again here, Herman Cain didn't know enough about politics. That's was both a blessing and a curse in a case like this. People like Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and others don't have to worry about that.

COSTELLO: Leslie Sanchez, Ruben Navarrette, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, still to come this morning, a nationwide strike paralyzing Britain right now. Schools and offices are closed. Travelers are being told to stay away. We'll have the very latest.

COSTELLO: And an alarming newscast last night for NBC anchorman, Brian Williams.


I'm laughing, but it must have felt really terrible for poor Brian.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 10 minutes until the top of the hour.


ROMANS: And today's "Romans' Numeral," 35 million of you. Here's a hint, think Ebenezer scrooge.

It's 46 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: Here's what you need to start your day.

In Britain, as many as two million workers are expected to walk off the jobs today because of proposed pension reforms. Schools, hospitals and border controls are all expected to be affected by today's strike.

Hillary Clinton is in Myanmar. She's the first secretary to visit this Southeast Asian nation in five decades. The historic two- day trip comes on heels of President Thein Sein's decision to free dozens of political prisoners.

Vice President Joe Biden, marking the upcoming end of the Iraq War with a surprise visit to Baghdad. He arrived yesterday for meetings with Iraqi leaders and to say thank you to the last U.S. troops who will be coming home by the end of the year.

Syracuse head coach, Jim Boeheim, addressing the Bernie Fine sex abuse scandal, saying he's not worried about his job. Three men have now come forward saying Bernie Fine, the former Syracuse assistant coach, molested them when they were children.

Penn State is holding a town hall today on its child sex scandal. Students will be able to ask questions to the university president. Former Penn State coach, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of sexually abusing boys over a 14-year period. He says he is innocent.

And today is a big day for patients taking Lipitor, one of the most popular drugs used to treat high cholesterol. Today, Pfizer's patent on this drug runs out, which means other companies can start making generic brands. In turn, could mean it could cost a lot less. 17 million people are prescribed Lipitor.

You're caught up on the day's headlines. AMERICAN MORNING back right after a short break.


ROMANS: Bah humbug.


ROMANS: Ebenezer Scrooge. This morning's "Romans' Numeral," a number in the news today, and that number is 35 million. And those are the number of us who dread having to be nice for the holidays.

COSTELLO: I don't believe that. I don't believe it.


ROMANS: That's according to "Consumer Reports." And among the reasons why people sort of dread the holidays and having be nice, it's all about over consumption. People are grumpy about standing in line. They are grumpy about gaining weight and about going into debt. Those are their biggest concerns.

COSTELLO: And they leave out the pressure that they have to be nice during Christmastime.

ROMANS: I know. I'm telling you.

COSTELLO: Although, I like when people are nice to me all the time.


ROMANS: Yes, there you go. Don't wait in line, just be nice. Don't wait in line. Don't go into debt.

COSTELLO: I don't believe 35 million people of tired of being nice to people at Christmas.


I'm trying to be an optimist this morning, Christine.

ROMANS: Well, the optimist part of that would mean 270 million aren't.


COSTELLO: Oh, that's a good way to look at it.


ROMANS: There you go.

COSTELLO: That's the glass half full.


He's like a real-life ironman. Take a look at this. A dare devil soaring through the sky, racing real fighter jets with his own jet pack.

Jeanne Moos with more on Jetman's wild ride.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seemed amazing back in 1928 and it seems just as amazing in 2011 and most amazing when the Swiss aviator known as Jetman actually flew with jets.

What does it feel like?

YVES ROSSY, JETMAN: Like unreal. Hey, I'm flying almost naked with nothing but I am with jets and fast.

MOOS: Fast for Jetman, around 137 miles per hour, slow for the actual jets.

ROSSY: The jets, they was minimum speed, and I was at my maximum.

MOOS: It was a stunt high above the Alps the other day. 52- year-old Yves Rossy has been developing his jet wing for 15 years. Crossing the Grand Canyon, not crossing the strait of Gibraltar.

For his rendezvous with the real jets, he had a chopper drop him off.

He says he doesn't steer. It's pure flying.

ROSSY: I turn a little bit the shoulders to the right and I turn right. I bend down, I go down.

MOOS: He has only enough kerosene for the four engines under his wing to last for about eight minutes of flight. But, oh, what a flight it was.


MOOS: Jetman carefully stayed out of the tail turbulence from the two BrightLine jets. The watch maker is Jetman's sponsor. As for the pilots --

ROSSY: When they saw me, just a little mosquito --


-- beside, they were a little bit afraid to hurt me.

MOOS: The leader of the jet team described it as emotional, "Just outside your cockpit you can see into the eyes of a man flying next to you, smiling while keeping pace with the jet."

(on camera): When is the last time you saw a guy in a skin-tight suit flying around outside a jet aircraft?


MOOS (voice-over): That's Superman, saving a passenger plane as it nose dives into a baseball stadium. Of course, he doesn't have to worry about running out of fuel.



MOOS (on camera): Rossy said he had to bail out of an uncontrolled spin about 20 times since he first started developing his wings.

(voice-over): In an emergency, he detaches and then both he and the wings float to the ground on separate parachutes.


MOOS: There was no emergency this time and Jetman landed gracefully. Talk about winging it.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COSTELLO: That is so awesome.

ROMANS: Really awesome.

COSTELLO: I'd like to go to work that way every day.


ROMANS: I know.

Speaking of a day at work, Brian Williams had a regular day at work yesterday, sort of. He's reported from war zones, confronted world leaders, but he faced a pretty big challenge as a journalist last night during the broadcast at the "NBC Nightly News." A fire alarm went off just as the show started and it just wouldn't -- it wouldn't stop.


The veteran anchorman didn't miss a beat.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, perhaps it's because of its name. For all the bankruptcies we've covered in this grim U.S. economy, this one gets your attention.

You'll forgive us. We have a fire alarm announcement going on here in the studio. While staying in the air, well, perhaps not something special any more. Again, we have an announcement going on here in the studio.

Tom Costello, we should advise our viewers there is no danger to us. We'd love to make this stop. Why don't you take it from our Washington bureau?




COSTELLO: It went on during the whole newscast.

That's actually happened to me here on the air at CNN. But ours says, "This is not an emergency.


"This is not an emergency." And it's like, stop it then.

Anyway, an NBC spokesperson later tweeted it was the first fire alarm in the studio. It was a new system and it just kicked on and they had no idea how to turn it off, because it was a new system. But they're working out the kinks and I'm sure they'll get it fixed today.

ROMANS: Not your average newscast last night for sure.

All right, up next hour, Occupy L.A. tents coming down. Police rushing the camp over night and forcing the protesters out. We're live in Los Angeles for a look at the messy aftermath. COSTELLO: And the man who shot President Ronald Reagan is asking a federal court to set him free. What are the chances he'll be let go? We'll ask a legal expert. Paul Callan is here.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.