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Iran Refuses to Return Captured U.S. Stealth Drone; Preliminary Trial of Jerry Sandusky Set to Begin; Drones on the Home Front; Romney: Newt's The Front Runner; Sandusky To Face Accusers In Court; GOP To Vote On Payroll Tax Cut Plan; Iran: We Own Down U.S. Drone; The Non-Debate Debate; Gingrich Surging In Iowa; One Million To Drop Out Of Race; Sandusky Arriving At Court Soon; Four Dead After Army Choppers Crash; Supreme Court To Hear Arizona Immigration Appeal; Police Arrest Three in FAMU Band Member Beating; Conservative Voices Critical of Gingrich; Jerry Sandusky Arrives for Hearing
Aired December 13, 2011 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Four soldiers dead after two army choppers crash during a training exercise.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: And an end to the silence. Jerry Sandusky facing his accusers today. The men set it describe painful memories how the ex-Penn State coach allegedly abused them as children. They're going public for the first time.
ROMANS: Finders keepers. New overnight, Iran commenting on a stealth U.S. drone that literally fell into its hands.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And they're not just hunting for terrorists anymore. The first U.S. citizen reportedly arrested with help from a predator drone on this AMERICAN MORNING.
VELSHI: Good Tuesday morning, December the 13th. It's chilly up here in New York. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. Great to be with you both after so long.
ROMANS: We're Reunited.
VELSHI: I know.
COSTELLO: So much news --
VELSHI: It continues to be busy. We're not easing into this.
COSTELLO: No, we're not. We have breaking news to tell you about this morning. Four soldiers are dead after two army choppers went down during a training exercise. In happened at joint base Lewis-McCord in Washington state. Crash investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong this morning. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is live near the crash site. Any new information yet?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We've been watching ambulances come this morning, part of this ongoing recovery effort that's been going on all night long since these two helicopters crashed killing both crews onboard. A total of four army aviators died in this crash, the scene just over my shoulder.
It's still very dark here, very early morning. Crews have been working all night long to recover these individuals' bodies and determine what went wrong. These are helicopters that are supposed to provide eyes and ears for soldiers on the ground. A very active training field. They do a lot of night training, working on night vision, those kinds of things. It should have been by the book scenario. Something went terribly wrong. But investigators are telling us they just don't know what yet.
COSTELLO: Patrick Oppmann reporting live for us this morning. Thanks.
ROMANS: Also new overnight, Iran claiming ownership of an American spy that went down in Iranian territory earlier this month. In a defiant statement, the country's defense minister is saying that stealth plane is now an Iranian asset. President Ahmadinejad says the aircraft that fell into their hands is a gift.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: The North Americans at best have decided to give us this spy plane. Currently we have control of this plane. Those who have been in control of this plane surely will analyze the plane's system. Furthermore, the systems of Iran are so advanced also, like the systems of this plane and the unpiloted planes we have made many advances, much progress, and now we have this spy plane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: President Obama has asked Iran to return the downed plane. Last night on CNN's "OUTFRONT" former vice president Dick Cheney told our Erin Burnett that the president's response was a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, (R) FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The right response to that, go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it. You could do that from the air. You could you do that with a quick air strike, and in effect make it impossible for them to benefit from having captured that drone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Cheney says if Iran sends it back at all it will be in pieces after getting all of the intelligence they can out of it.
VELSHI: There are some people who would say that's tantamount to an act of war.
ROMANS: And that was considered and rejected by the White House and the Pentagon.
VELSHI: The way Dick Cheney explains it, it sounds very simple, but you actually just can't --
ROMANS: That would be an airstrike in Iran, which is something they decided they were not going to do.
All right, another big piece of news here in the United States. Jerry Sandusky will face his accusers in court today. As many as six men may describe the alleged sexual abuse they suffered for years at the hands of the former Penn State coach. The judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to try Sandusky on more than 50 charges related to the molestation ever little boys.
Susan Candiotti is live outside the courthouse, which is going to be very busy in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Good morning, Susan. Susan, there are six alleged victims subpoenaed. Do we know whether they're all take the stand today?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't, but we'll find out in about an hour and a half. That is when the preliminary hearing is scheduled to get under way.
I've spoken with the lawyers for some of the alleged victims. We know of at least three that said they are prepared to be here and for their clients to take the stand. This is going to be excruciating for them. Remember, they have to describe in intimate detail about what they said happened to them at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. He has said that he has denied all of these charges.
But some of these alleged victims don't have to appear in person. Prosecutors could introduce at this particular stage of the process simply the statements that they made, the written statements that they made to authorities during the course of this investigation, Ali. So we'll have to see. But it will be gripping, to say the least.
Also, one of the key witnesses, Mike McQueary. This is one of the people, as we know, assistant coach of PSU, currently on leave, who said he witness add boy allegedly being sodomized by Jerry Sandusky in the shower. We heard differing accounts. So we may be hearing from his firsthand.
VELSHI: Very good. Susan, I spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania, as you know. I don't know much about Bellefonte. Give me a sense of what it's like. It's a small town, and suddenly it's the center of media attention.
CANDIOTTI: Right. I also used to live in this particular area. It is a lovely small town. Population only about 6,000 or so, and they are overwhelmed by the huge media presence here. Even before dawn and starting even yesterday, live satellite trucks were taking over the streets. They were moved into place. They had to close down some streets to accommodate all the hundreds of journalists that are here this day to cover this very important hearing.
Many people here are very friendly towards the news media, helping them out. Some have expressed concern about the kind of image this might project, possibly, to some people who are watching from the outside, but they know how important this hearing is in the Sandusky case.
Back to you, Ali.
VELSHI: Susan, thank have. Susan Candiotti in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. We'll cover that story very closely today.
ROMANS: All right, joining us now is CNN legal contributor Paul Callan. Paul, you've been following the story. Tell me about this hearing. How unusual is the hearing and how unusual for the victims to face-off with Sandusky in court? This isn't the trial. This is to determine if there will be a trial?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, it's not a trial, but it's a very, very unusual hearing, and I think it's going to be a gut- wrenching day for those in court watching this and even people at home listening to the details.
ROMANS: Could this go on past a day?
CALLAN: It could go on. It could be today, could go into tomorrow. In a lot of jurisdictions something like this would go on for over a week. We're talking about potentially eight to 10 victims testifying. We're talking about other witness whose could be testifying.
But this is called a preliminary hearing. Most states in the United States don't even conduct these things an anymore. What it is, basically the judge is taking a snapshot of the case. He's just looking for a bare outline of testimony to democrat if there's enough evidence to send it on for a full jury trial.
But you will get a very good snapshot because you're going to see most of the victims tell their story. They'll be subjected to cross- examination. It's a limited cross. They can't be attacked about their credibility or whether they have criminal convictions and things like that, but they will be questioned about their story and whether the story is true or not. So I think we're going to get a really good picture as to what's actually involved in this case today.
ROMANS: You told us yesterday, they just need one credible witness, one credible story there to move this thing forward?
CALLAN: Well, they do for each of the counts, because, remember, in are ten victims in the case. There are 50 counts that are being charged. Each victim's case has to be proved at this hearing, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but just a presentation of evidence so that they can say to the judge, all right, as to victim number one, we have enough to go forward, judge. All 10 cases will have to be proved in that way, which is why I'm saying, it really is -- it's a mini trial. It's a mini look at all of the allegations.
ROMANS: So we know some people have been subpoenaed including Mike McQueary. We don't know if he'll actually appear or say anything. What's the difference between being subpoenaed or being called at this preliminary hearing?
CALLAN: There's the subpoena forces the witness to come in to court, and it doesn't guarantee that he'll testify.
ROMANS: So he'll have to be in today?
CALLAN: Yes, he would have to be there today, or he may not be sitting in the courtroom in a side room or kept someplace, and then prosecutors can decide whether to put him on the witness stand or not.
ROMANS: This is a town of 6,200. There's a couple of dozen satellite trucks and 200 potential journalists and other journalists who won't be actually inside but are covering it. What's it going to be like for these accusers and the accused?
CALLAN: It's going to be a very, very trying experience for them, because most of the accusers in the case have really -- they've never publicly told their story. They're people who have -- this has been a hidden part of their life for so many years, and now they're going to be on a witness stand under oath, reliving what undoubtedly would have been a horrible, horrible experience, if true. So it's going to be a real traumatic day for the accusers in the case and for anybody watching the testimony as well.
ROMANS: And interestingly there's a central figure in the case, neither the accuser nor the accused. It is Mike McQueary, the former assistant coach who in 2002 saw something in the locker room. There may be differing versions or iterations of what he saw there. In the end, is it what he says under oath in front of this judge that will be the most important version of events, or has all of this kind of undermined this case?
CALLAN: All of it's going to come into play, because -- and he's important in two respects. One of the victims in this case, that his testimony will be key testimony corroborating that victim's claims against Sandusky. So very, very important.
But when he is cross-examined, McQueary, on the stand, if he has told multiple versions of what he saw going on in that shower room, it will be used to attack his credibility at the time of trial, and this will be yet another version that he will be testifying about.
Now, hopefully prosecutors are talking to him and they're hoping that his version is consistent with what he told the grand jury, because his testimony today also impacts on the Friday hearing about the two administrators who were charged with perjury.
ROMANS: Right. The thing about the different versions of his story is each of them are a snapshot, from a different person, you know, something that happened nine years ago. So we're going to get a fuller picture, I think. Until now we haven't really seen the full picture.
CALLAN: Absolutely. And I think if McQueary testifies, that's going to be one of the most interesting moments in this hearing. But you know something? He may not testify, just because he's subpoenaed, prosecutors may say, we have enough to go forward. Remember, they just --
ROMANS: They don't want to show everything.
CALLAN: Oh, no. It's a bare bones case. They want to keep as much out as possible. So I'm not so sure he will testify.
ROMANS: Paul Callan, thank you so much. Ali, Carol?
CALLAN: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Thanks, Christine.
With three weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses Newt Gingrich is sitting pretty in the Hawkeye state. Take a look at two brand new polls. Gingrich opening up a five-point lead over Mitt Romney and Ron Paul according to the American Research Group. And it gets better for Gingrich in the latest University of Iowa Hawkeye poll, the former House speaker surge to a 10-point lead over Romney and a 19 point cushion over Paul.
VELSHI: And Gingrich is trying to build on his momentum by closing ranks with conservatives. He's written a letter to the Family Leader, a socially conservative group in Iowa, promising to, quote, "defend and strengthen the family and uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity." Gingrich has been married three times.
VELSHI: It's -- the circumstances under which one of his marriages ended as a result of him having an affair with somebody else to whom he's now married.
COSTELLO: We'll see if the letter works.
It is now 12 past the hour. Also making news this morning, Congress is scheduled to wrap up business for the year this Friday, and there is still no agreement on extending the payroll tax even though both parties insist they want to pass it. Today House Republicans are scheduled to vote on their plan today, which includes a pipeline provision, something Democrats call a non-starter. Democrats want to pay for the payroll extension with a millionaire surtax, but leading Republicans say that's a non-starter.
VELSHI: Former senator and New Jersey governor Jon Corzine will once again testify about his bankrupt brokerage firm MF Global and the more than $1 billion in customer money that remains missing. Remember last week Corzine denies where the funds were and stopped short of taking responsibility for the firm's failure. We will speak to the chairman of the committee to which he's testifying today, the agriculture committee, the Senate agriculture committee, Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow. We'll do that in about an hour. ROMANS: And there are farmers and ranchers who are still waiting for their money. So what you think might be a big, highfalutin Wall Street problem is really a farmland, agriculture problem at this point.
COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, new controversy surrounding those unmanned military spy drones. They're now being used by police right your backyard. Boy, is that causing concerns about privacy.
And he's got billions and the endorsement of the next head coach Avery Johnson. An NBA owner's plan to take on Vladimir Putin and his political machine in Russia. We're live in Moscow this morning.
It's 13 minutes past the hour.
ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back.
U.S. spy drones are typically deployed on the battlefield a world away, but local police here at home are now using them for surveillance to track down criminal suspects. And that's raising some constitutional red flags.
CNN's Casey Wian has the story.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Customs and Border Protection uses eight unmanned military aircraft to patrol the United States borders with Mexico and Canada as well as the Southern Coastline looking for drug and immigrant smugglers. It also deploys the drones to help local authorities manage natural disasters like these floods in North Dakota.
But what's been largely unknown before a "Los Angeles Times" report over the weekend is that local police have been using the drones to conduct surveillance flights and arrest criminal suspects. It happened recently in North Dakota where a local sheriff arrested members of a family involved in a dispute over cattle, and in an alleged armed confrontation with sheriff's deputies.
Former California Congresswoman Jane Harman served on the House Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee and says the drones could allow police to violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
JANE HARMAN, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: This is mission (INAUDIBLE). I think it is beyond the mandate that Congress gave the border patrol to use drones along our border. We're talking about drones being used over American cities or in rural areas over the homes of law-abiding Americans potentially.
WIAN: Harman says Congress needs to debate the appropriateness of drones being deployed for domestic surveillance, but she says was never discussed.
However, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman cites eight sections of U.S. law that giveth (ph) the authority to use drones in support of local police. The agency also says the sensors and cameras used by the drones are similar to those used by its fixed wing aircraft and helicopters which have been supporting local law enforcement for years. The main difference, the drones can stay airborne for up to 20 hour.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
VELSHI: Very interesting story.
ROMANS: What's the difference between a helicopter and a drone? I guess it's the same technology?
VELSHI: If you're - if you're -
COSTELLO: It's unmanned.
VELSHI: -- looking for people. Right. When they capture, you don't have people with it.
ROMANS: I don't know.
VELSHI: That's about it. But Canada's not likely to capture a U.S. drone in the way that Iran did.
ROMANS: And they'll give it back if they did, I think.
VELSHI: They'll give it back even if America didn't ask for it.
ROMANS: Can you please take this drone?
VELSHI: Hey, guys. I think you dropped this on our side of the border. Here you go.
ROMANS: And you go clean that up.
VELSHI: All right, guys. It's 20 minutes after the hour. Rob Marciano is with us. He does not use unmanned drones to get his weather information.
ROMANS: And somebody is going - and somebody is going to say we're making light of an important constitutional question and we're not. We're just -
VELSHI: No. But I think it's - does anybody disagree with me that if a drone, an American drone ended up in Canada that Canada would give it back?
COSTELLO: I think you're digging a hole deeper for this, frankly.
VELSHI: Let's go to Rob Marciano right now.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know my Canadian friends will pick it up and be like, oh, cool, model airplane. Let's give this a go.
VELSHI: Exactly right.
MARCIANO: Good morning, guys.
COSTELLO: I think they don't have (ph) criminals in Canada.
VELSHI: We give those back to America, too. Go ahead before I get fired, will you?
MARCIANO: And we appreciate it. Mild temperatures in Toronto this morning relatively.
VELSHI: Oh, very good.
MARCIANO: Depths right around the freezing mark there. But other spots, you have to really go dig in to see temps that are below freezing east of the Mississippi; 31 degrees right now in D.C.; 32, Boston; 33 degrees in New York City and temps will be on the rebound throughout the day today, but you go west through Denver and even Los Angeles where it's 51 degrees. It's been kind of cool and at times stormy.
Last couple of days, that's where all the action is on the radar. So here's what it looked like yesterday just outside Los Angeles and higher elevations. We told you about winter storm warnings. Snow levels at times all the way down to 3,000 feet and above 5,000, they saw 6 to 12 inches of snow in spots. And we'll see this slow-moving storm eject its way out into the plains. And as it does, so more snow for parts of New Mexico and snow and even some ice for western parts of Nebraska and Kansas.
So there's your mess east of the Mississippi. It's pretty quiet as mentioned. Temperatures are going to be rebounding. The storm track really today and for the next really couple of weeks is in this direction. That means that the eastern third of the country will remain relatively mild maybe as long as right through Christmas. So we'll see how that pans out.
That's where the pattern is stuck and all the way up the Canadian border.
COSTELLO: I love you, Rob Marciano.
VELSHI: Perfect, Rob. Thank you, my friend.
MARCIANO: All right, guys.
VELSHI: Good to see you.
MARCIANO: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Ah, that was selfish of me, wasn't it?
VELSHI: No. It's all good. Weather's all local. You just want it to be nice where you are.
COSTELLO: It's true. It's selfish. I admit it.
Still to come this morning, Newt Gingrich going one-on-one against Jon Huntsman. Was it a debate or a love fest? We'll have the highlights ahead.
ROMANS: The polite highlights.
COSTELLO: Yes, actually.
VELSHI: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.
U.S. stock futures are trading higher this morning. Concerns that the eurozone deal wouldn't do enough to address Europe's real financial problems, well they pushed the Dow down yesterday more than 162 points. Ratings agency Moody's also announced yesterday it will review the ratings of all E.U. nations.
The Federal Reserve will no doubt be weighing the risks coming from Europe when it meets later today. Most analysts expect the Central Bank to hold off when it comes to announcing a new strategy to boost the economy. And economists are forecasting that the Fed will keep interest rates close to zero percent.
Amazon is promising a Kindle Fire software update that will fix a number of nagging complaints from users. That update will be available in the next couple of weeks. Amazon says it will improve performance the devices lack of privacy and the responsiveness of the touch screen.
Ready for around the clock shopping? Macy's announcing 14 of its stores will stay open for 83 hours straight leading up to Christmas Eve. Another 27 stores will stay open until 2:00 A.M. on the three nights prior to the December 24th.
And during these tough times, holiday tipping can be a touchy subject. According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, 70 percent of Americans still plan to tip those who helped them all year long. But 16 percent say they'll tip less because money is tight.
Ford's iconic truck the F-150 has been named "Motor Trend's" Truck of the Year. The magazine said the truck excels when it comes to engineering, design, efficiency, safety, value and performance. This is the fourth time the F-150 has won the award.
AMERICAN MORNING right back after this break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, is Newt Gingrich the front-runner in this race?
MITT ROMNEY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is that?
ROMNEY: Got me.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Oh, Mitt Romney acknowledging Newt Gingrich is now the Republican front-runner, but he just doesn't know why - on this AMERICAN MORNING.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Good morning. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 7:30 on the east, and then one hour less, whatever part of the country you're in --
COSTELLO: We're having a bad morning. I don't know why, but good morning to you.
VELSHI: Getting back in the groove. You know what I'm saying. That's all it is. Let's say it's 30 minutes after the hour wherever you are in the country.
ROMANS: That's good.
VELSHI: Time for this morning's top stories, which I can probably handle.
Jerry Sandusky is set to face his accusers in court today. The pre-trial hearing set to begin one hour from now.
As many as six men are expected to describe the alleged sexual abuse they suffered years ago at the hands of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.
The judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to try him on more than 50 charges related to the molestation of little boys.
ROMANS: House Speaker John Boehner says there will be a vote in the House today on a Republican version of a plan to extend the payroll tax holiday, but Democrats oppose several parts of that plan including plans for a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas that Republicans have tacked on to that demand to keep the tax holiday in place.
COSTELLO: Finders keepers. Iran telling the world a U.S. spy drone that went down in Iranian territory belongs to them. The country's defense minister says the stealth aircraft that is now an Iranian asset comes just hours after President Obama called on Tehran to return the drone. VELSHI: Newt Gingrich is taking some time out from his rivalry with Mitt Romney to turn his focus on Jon Huntsman yesterday. The two candidates engaged in a one-on-one debate in New Hampshire. And right from the start, things turned downright civilized.
Jim Acosta is joining us from Manchester, New Hampshire this morning. This was notably absent of the vitriol and the acidity that some of these debates have had -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They were calling it a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate, but really it was a conversation. That's how they billed it on the press credentials they handed out to reporters.
That's exactly what it was. You know, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, they spent about an hour and a half talking about the issues not really debating the issues. But let's face it, let's be honest, the real fight for Newt Gingrich these days is with Mitt Romney.
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree with Newt completely.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly concur with the governor.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Billed as a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate, Gingrich versus Huntsman was more a love fest. It was duty versus nice. It's so mild mannered, it got mind numbing for one candidate's own family.
HUNTSMAN: Well, I can see my daughter nodding off over there.
GINGRICH: She was nodding off.
ACOSTA: Still, Gingrich had time to add to his collection of provocative campaign moments on the subject of Iran.
GINGRICH: I believe we cannot allow them to have a nuclear weapon. Therefore, I believe we have to be for regime change. We are not going to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon.
ACOSTA: While Huntsman would not go that far.
HUNTSMAN: I would have to agree all options need to be on the table and the (inaudible) in Tehran need to know that all options are on the table and that there is zero ambiguity in terms of what we are prepared to do.
ACOSTA: Gingrich doubled down saying Israel's very survival depended on stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions.
GINGRICH: Am I going to take the risk of presiding over the second holocaust, which would mean virtually the end of Judaism in the planet.
ACOSTA: That kind of rhetoric might explain why new conservative talking former Vice President Dick Cheney fondly remembered Gingrich's time as speaker in an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett.
CHENEY: He was tenacious. He kept it up and kept it up and kept it up. Finally by '94, he's the newly elected speaker of the House of Representatives with a Republican majority. So I wouldn't underestimate him.
ACOSTA: But the one-on-one debate was no match for the fight between Gingrich and Mitt Romney who said the former speaker should give back some of the money he made advising housing giant, Freddie Mac.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe he should give that money back?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I sure do.
ACOSTA: But Gingrich was ready for that one saying Romney should try compensating people he downsized as the head of a private investment firm.
GINGRICH: If Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees, then I would be glad to then listen to him.
ACOSTA: Romney told "Politico," their battle for the nomination could go on for months and called Gingrich the man to beat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Newt Gingrich the frontrunner in this race?
ROMNEY: He is right now.
ACOSTA: As for Huntsman versus Gingrich, the former speaker repeated his challenge to President Obama for their own series of Lincoln-Douglas debates. The moderator made a familiar wager it would never happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll bet you $10,000 he doesn't show up.
ACOSTA: At an event last night, Newt Gingrich challenged Mitt Romney to a positive campaign in these final weeks before the Iowa caucuses in New Hampshire primary.
It is not likely that Mitt Romney will take him up on that offer. He hinted at one of his own events yesterday that he will go negative with advertising in the coming weeks saying there is no whining in politics -- Ali.
VELSHI: All right, Jim, thanks very much for that coverage. We'll talk to you soon. Jim Acosta in New Hampshire. COSTELLO: We have three weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses. Gingrich is, of course, the clear frontrunner in the hawk eye state opening up a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney in one new poll, but he does not have the support of everyone.
Conservative talk show host, Michael Savidge, is offering Newt Gingrich $1 million to drop out of the race. And Tea Party supporter Glenn Beck went one farther suggesting the only reason anyone would vote for Gingrich over Obama is because of the color of his skin.
Joining me to talk more about that, and of course, the polls too, is CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He joins us live from Washington. Good morning, Ron.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: It's pretty vicious. Michael Savidge comes out. He has nine million listeners. He's -- conservatives really like his radio show. He's offering Newt Gingrich $1 million to drop out because he says Newt Gingrich is not a real conservative.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, four years ago, most of the conservative talk community, united against John McCain and he won the Republican presidential nomination.
I mean, what you saw from Michael Savidge and what you hear from Glenn Beck does reflect the anxiety of a lot of conservatives who don't feel that they can truly trust either Romney or Gingrich on their issues.
But you know, those are the guys in center stage right now and for most Republican voters at the moment, they seem to be acceptable alternatives. Gingrich, of course, is consolidating a lot of support on the right, despite the criticism from those -- you know, kind of the people uphold the flag at the vanguard.
So I don't think they're in a position right now to really have much influence on this race and as for the million dollar offer running for president, if he doesn't win, hasn't worth a lot more than that for Newt Gingrich.
COSTELLO: We have breaking news, Ron so stick right there. We're going to Christine Romans for a second. Stay right there.
ROMANS: OK, we're watching live pictures right now. We're seeing Sandusky's arrival in court. We've been waiting for these pictures. The pool feed coming from -- is this tape or is this live?
It looks like it's live. All right, so live pictures. This is Sandusky. He's arriving at the courthouse where he's going to be facing his preliminary hearing that we've been telling you about. Some places, you do this preliminary hearing anymore. These are clearly --
VELSHI: The grand jury doesn't indict. They've got to figure that out.
ROMANS: So this is going to be a bare bones presentation from the prosecution and the defense will have a chance to do some limited cross of whoever they decide to bring. We're expecting to see --
COSTELLO: Put on the stand, right.
ROMANS: Put on the stand. We're expecting to see some of the accusers. Sandusky will be there. We know that Mike McQueary, that assistant football coach, he has been subpoenaed.
But we don't know whether he will testify or not. Again, this is a town right here where this courthouse is, of 6,200 people. There are couple of dozen satellite trucks and 200 credential journalists even more than that.
VELSHI: You can see the security presence there. There's some sense that the prosecution doesn't want to do more than it has to do get the indictment, to be able to go forward with this trial. They don't want to put everything they've got, all their fire power on the stand today.
ROMANS: That's right.
COSTELLO: I think one of the more interesting thing -- six to eight alleged victims will testify in this proceeding today and how will they get them into the courthouse? I'm sure they don't want to be on camera. I'm sure most reporters will turn cameras away, photographers, but you never know.
ROMANS: Yes, they are, because these are alleged sex crimes, they are, I think, no matter what they're age. They are -- they're granted anonymity here. I mean, they will go before a court in front of the state and they will say their case and he will have a chance to defend himself against those accusations.
VELSHI: The judge is letting reporters in the courtroom, tweet and text about it. So I guess they'll tell these reporters what they can and cannot say particularly terms of identifying people.
ROMANS: So, again, we're waiting for him to arrive. We don't know what the situation is going to be in terms of security, whether there will be a back door, whether they take some of the witnesses in or not. But we will pop back into this as soon as we have more to tell you about the arrival of the principal actors in the case here today.
COSTELLO: All right, shall we go back to Ron Brownstein? Take a break? What we are doing? All right, we'll get to Ron's in a second, but we also want -- also something we need to tell you about.
ROMANS: -- some of the headlines in the morning. The other news we're following. Four soldiers are dead after two Army helicopters went down during a training exercise. The military says that happened on training grounds inside joint-base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.
Still not clear whether they collided or whether they went down separately. The commander of the base is promising a thorough investigation.
VELSHI: The Supreme Court will weigh into the debate over Arizona's controversial immigration law targeting illegals. The Justice is agreeing to Arizona's appeal after federal court blocked key parts of the law. Most notably a provision giving police broad powers to check someone's immigration status. Arizona became a model for similar laws in other states.
COSTELLO: Another hazing scandal involving Florida A&M's famed marching band. Three band members were charged with hazing and beating a freshman with a metal ruler. The alleged victim suffered a cracked femur and blood clots. This is only two weeks before the suspected hazing death of drummer. The cases are not related.
We're going to bring Ron Brownstein back, talking about Newt Gingrich's lead in the polls and also about some conservatives coming out and viciously slamming Newt Gingrich. We'll do that right after a break. Stick around.
COSTELLO: OK, let's back to Ron Brownstein, our CNN senior political analyst. We're talking about Newt Gingrich's lead in the polls over Mitt Romney and some conservative voices that are highly critical of him.
We mentioned Michael Savidge, a conservative radio show host, nine million listeners. He says, he would pay $1 million if Newt Gingrich would drop out of the race. Glenn beck took it one step further. Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, HOST, "THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM": If you got a big government progressive or a big government progressive in Obama, one in Newt Gingrich, one in Obama. Ask yourself this, Tea Party, is it about Obama's race? Because that's what it appears to be to me. If you're against him, but for this guy -- what difference does that mean? It must be about race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK, so in essence what he's saying is Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama are the same person except one is white, one is black. If you vote for Newt Gingrich, you're pretty much a racist.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, well, except one of them wants to have a 15 percent flat tax included in that the capital gains and the estate tax have a voluntary partial privatization of Social Security endorses the Paul Ryan plan to convert Medicare into premium support and by the way, led the Republicans in the first majority in the House in 40 years in 1994.
You know, that kind of portrait just simply isn't, you know, plausible, that they are kind of clones. You've got a branch of the Republican Party that views pretty much anyone who is short of complete ideological views of the world as a squish or a rhino as they like to say. You've got that branch of the Republican Party that views pretty much anyone who is short of complete ideological field through their views of the world as a swish, or a RINO, as they like to say.
One thing is true. Gingrich has been ideologically mobile in his life. He's taken different positions on different issues. But what is a strong point of defense for him against attacks like that is his record of kind of unwavering partisanship. Has not always been a fiscal conservative but he has been consistently a Republican warrior. He's talking about Democrats and vitriolic language. It's very hard to make the case he has not been kind of a soldier in Republican causes in five different decades now.
COSTELLO: But if conservatives, especially Tea Party conservatives, decide this primary race in the Republican field and these prestigious -- or these very influential voices are speaking out viciously against Newt Gingrich, won't, at some point, it begin to make a difference?
BROWNSTEIN: I think we'll see. As I said, in 2008, it didn't make a huge difference. Although, John McCain certainly didn't do as well with conservatives as he did with more moderates of the Republican Party.
Look, the Republican Party right now, in the CNN poll in particular, shows a split almost exactly evenly between voters who do identify with the Tea Party and those who don't. The dynamic now is that Gingrich is consolidating Tea Party conservatives as well as evangelical Christians. But he's also competitive in the center of the party. He's dividing that vote pretty evenly with Mitt Romney. So he's not a one-trick pony in this race the way, say, for example, Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann were earlier, drawing only from one side of the party. He can actually give away a little of that conservative support and not be totally decimated by it because he's not solely dependent on it.
COSTELLO: Mitt Romney's campaign sent out an e-mail this morning blasting Newt Gingrich, saying he should return all of the money he made at Freddie Mac.
COSTELLO: Reiterating that when that Newt Gingrich collected that money, that Freddie Mac was in danger of busting the economy.
BROWNSTEIN: Right, right. Well, you know, yesterday, in terms of the general election, if it's Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich as the nominee, it was kind of a Black Monday for the Republicans, because each man went out and identified himself with a principle Democratic portrait of the other. You know, Romney portraying Gingrich as a Washington insider who profited on his connections. Gingrich portraying Romney as a court raider who got rich by throwing people out of work. That is the kind of -- a center of the Democrats will paint about either in the general election. And you know what, Carol, they each provided a lot of sound bites that are going to appear in Democratic ads in the fall. I think you can you guarantee that.
COSTELLO: Oh, yes. A final note about these polls.
COSTELLO: It's hard for me to believe that they're accurate, because they've been kind of wrong so many times. Isn't it hard to predict right now because of the volatility?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes. I mean --
COSTELLO: In the Republican field?
BROWNSTEIN: Sure. And also a caucus is harder to poll than a primary. You have a general picture. You usually don't rely on any one poll. You look at the overall picture. They tell you Gingrich is ahead in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, that he is consolidating his more conservative voters. And that Romney and Paul are kind of bunched right -- about 10 points behind him in Iowa. I think very little. But there is a consistent portrait. The bigger point is there is volatility. That's absolutely right.
COSTELLO: I just remembered, back in 2008, the polls always seemed to be wrong, and it was because, you know, maybe politics is different at this particular time in history?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, people are getting so much information so fast from -- and first of all, the election is now nationalized. That's clearly happening. Iowa and New Hampshire, the idea of them as hermetically sealed Iowans in which voters are making distinct assessment of the candidates in personal meetings is, I think, of the past. Everyone is affected by the same national media and the same national judgment.
We have a poll out today, our "National Journal" Congressional Connection poll, looking at the verdict of this year in Congress, and it is at least as negative as it was before the 2006 and 2010 landslides. That is a judgment that transcends ideology, partisanship. And you see these currents that are moving across the entire electorate. So in that sense, running for president always was a referendum on the direction of the country. Even in the primaries now, it is much more of a national phenomenon more than it used to be.
COSTELLO: Ron Brownstein, thanks for joining us and thanks for waiting around, too. We appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Carol. VELSHI: Let's go back to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. We have live pictures. This is not Jerry Sandusky arriving, but -- well, I don't know who's getting out of that truck. No, that's not Jerry Sandusky either. We are awaiting the arrival of Jerry Sandusky. The other people who are arriving, whose identity we don't know -- may be some of the people testifying, lawyers, their lawyer, his lawyers. There is going to be a hearing under way today. It's called a presentment. It's where they will determine whether there is enough evidence to go forward with the trial. You can see a lot of security outside that courthouse in the town of Bellefonte. About 6,200 people in that town.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: There's going to be supporters of Jerry Sandusky will be there. Sara Ganim, from "Patriot News," also Susan Candiotti, reporting his pastor for several years will be there. There will be people from the congregation. There's been an area set aside for supporters of Jerry Sandusky. There will be the families -- Jerry Sandusky's family. His wife is expected to be there.
We know that Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who witnessed something in 2002 in the locker room there, in the shower room there, he has been subpoenaed but we don't know if he'll be called by the judge to testify.
COSTELLO: Just fascinating that Jerry Sandusky's attorney says there will be no plea deal. That's why this is going on today. He wants this to go to trial.
VELSHI: He says a no plea deal would be short enough for Jerry Sandusky, who is 67 years old. And anything will be a life sentence for him so they'll take their chances.
ROMANS: We'll continue to monitor this and come back to when and if events warrant there on the ground at the courthouse.
I also want to talk to you today about "Romans' Numeral." $10.07. Think of it this way, it's maybe the bet that Mitt Romney wishes he had wagered yesterday instead of the $10,000 that --
COSTELLO: Seven cents.
VELSHI: I'm looking forward to this one.
COSTELLO: I know.
It's 51 minutes past the hour.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
VELSHI: Breaking news now. We have just seen Jerry Sandusky, I believe --
ROMANS: There's his attorney.
VELSHI: -- walking into the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, where there will be what is called a presentment hearing. This might be unusual to a lot of people in a lot of states because, normally, when you have a grand jury, they present an indictment and that is how you go forward with a case or some sort of complaint. In Pennsylvania, there's an extra step that a lot of states have done away with, which is called a presentment, where they bring everybody together. There will be some of the alleged victims. There will be Mike McQueary, who was the assistant coach at one point. And they will be testifying, and they'll determine whether there is enough to go forward on a trial with.
ROMANS: He just arrived. We saw his attorney, Amendola, just rushed in to the courthouse. There's been lot of cars coming. We've -- Susan Candiotti on the ground with her producer. It's interesting she's show sort of still photo that just sort of how many people there waiting for this event to begin today, a preliminary hearing. As Ali says, in many places, they don't even do these any more. But this will be the judge deciding if there is enough here to move on with all of these counts and essentially decide if there will be a trial.
ROMANS: This is not the trial, but the preliminary hearing to decide if there will be.
COSTELLO: Of course, it will be quite emotional inside that courthouse because six to eight of the alleged victims will testify and tell the people listening in the courtroom exactly what they alleged Jerry Sandusky did to them all those years ago. Jerry Sandusky's attorney will then be able to ask questions of these witnesses. That will also be painful for them.
We're going to turn tape around of Sandusky entering the courtroom. Have we seen him yet?
I'm just asking my producers this question.
ROMANS: Yes. It's coming. The tape is coming. I think they're cutting the tape right now.
We just saw his attorney -- his attorney went in about three minutes ago. He must have been right before his attorney.
It's interesting, Carol, because the defense won't be able to assail the credibility or ask questions about the credibility of those witnesses.
VELSHI: This is not a trial. ROMANS: They won't be able to -- they will be able to talk about their claims but they have to be very careful about what they do. And the prosecution is also going to want to be careful about just how much of their case they show.
VELSHI: They put out, yes.
ROMANS: Because this is not the trial. You know --
VELSHI: They want enough to convince this judge that this should go to trial. For a lot of people watching this unfold through the media, you must think, isn't this obvious there is enough to go to trial?
COSTELLO: This is all the grand jury report.
VELSHI: But actually, there is a legal process that has to take place and a judge has to say so. In theory, no one has said so.
Here is -- by the way, here's what it looked like a few minutes ago when Jerry Sandusky walked into court flanked by his lawyers and his family and, of course, police, walking into court.
ROMANS: And his wife, Dottie.
VELSHI: And his wife, Dottie. There is some chance, no one has said it is likely, but there is some chance a judge could say, there isn't enough. In other words, it's not a given that this goes to trial.
You were saying though that they -- there was a discussion about a plea deal, Carol, and --
COSTELLO: There was a discussion about a plea deal, but Jerry Sandusky's attorney says, no, no plea deal. We'll take our chances in court because any kind of plea deal -- you're right, he's 67 years old, Jerry Sandusky.
COSTELLO: So the plea deal, what --
VELSHI: It was going to be two or three years.
COSTELLO: It's likely Jerry Sandusky would have died in prison.
COSTELLO: And that's what the attorney wants to avoid. They're going to take their chances with the trial. VELSHI: Yes.
COSTELLO: It will be interesting, too, to see if all of these victims are -- are in one proceeding or if they split it up the trials, which is possible. That would, of course, drag it out, but a judge will make that decision as well.
ROMANS: Not at this particular hearing.
COSTELLO: But in the future.
ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE). It could take more than a day. It depends on what the prosecution wants to do there.
Again, just a few moments ago, really just three or four minutes ago -- there's Jerry Sandusky and his wife surrounded by sheriff deputies, and his attorney is right behind, coming into that court for that preliminary hearing today.
We'll continue to monitor this as developments warrant.
VELSHI: Still to come this morning, Newt Gingrich surging to the lead in Iowa in two new polls. Can he sustain the momentum? We'll talk about Newt Gingrich and the caucus coming up in just a month in Iowa.