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House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension; Gingrich Campaign Staffer Resigns for Making Religiously Insensitive Statement; NTSB Seeks to Ban Cellphone Use Completely in Cars; To Extend Or Not to Extend Jobless Benefits; House Passes GOP Payroll Tax Cut Extension; Poll: Gingrich "Electability Issues"; U.S. Made Shoes "Soled" In China; Sandusky Accusers Denied Hearing; "Time" Person of the Year, "The Protester"; Scientists Believe Their Closer to Finding the God Particle
Aired December 14, 2011 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10 days until Christmas, 17 days until a $1,000 tax hike. The measure that could kill another effort to extend the payroll tax holiday.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Shake-up in primetime. The new Gingrich campaign suffers another loss in Iowa after a staffer take a shot at an opponent's religion.
COSTELLO: And Alec Baldwin in the rubber room, the FAA now allowing iPads for pilots but not for passengers?
ROMANS: And made in America, sold in China. You heard it right, how one American business is able to put the shoe on the other foot, on this AMERICAN MORNING.
COSTELLO: And good morning to you. It's Wednesday, December 14th. I'm Carol Costello along with Christine Romans on this "American morning."
ROMANS: You said it's only 10 days until Christmas. I got shopping to do carol. Thanks for the warning.
COSTELLO: First this hour, 160 million Americans more than half the country, just 17 days away from $1,000 tax hike. Congress is playing politics. The House passed a Republican payroll tax cut extension. It's hardly progress. Senate Democrats plan to kill it because Republicans tacked on a measure that speeds up approval process for the controversial keystone oil pipeline. Here's the spin from both sides of the aisle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Now Senate Democrats must act. The Senate can take up our bill, they pass it, they can amend it and they can move their own bill, but it is time for the Senate to act. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What the president is not willing to do is leave town or allow Congress to leave town without ensuring that 160 million Americans do not see their taxes go up next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: CNN's Athena Jones is live at the White House. Explain to me what my payroll taxes have to do with an oil pipeline?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's really the issue that Republicans are raising as well. If you really listen closely to what Jay Carney has been saying in White House briefings and the administration policy the White House put out, they really were focusing on how this GOP bill would lead to cuts in veterans' programs, clean energy and education, and they're not spending as much time citing this keystone pipeline.
But the fact of the matter is Republicans added that provision to try to win votes from their side. They had people on their side opposed to extending the payroll tax cut, saying it didn't do anything to boost the economy. This is something that economists disagree with.
The whole Keystone pipeline issue, Republicans say it would create thousands and thousands of jobs. The State Department says it will create about 5,000. The issue here is they want more time to study issues of concerns to environmentalists along the path of this pipeline coming from Canada down to Texas. So the state department wants until 2013 to decide on that. The Republicans want to attach a provision to this payroll tax cut Bill, this extension, saying let's speed up approval process and get this thing going to create jobs. That's the issue. So it's a little complicated like so many issues are here, Christine.
ROMANS: That's how it works in Washington, to tack on something in a sweepingly unrelated measure to try to win support and get it through. So how is the White House going to win this argument?
JONES: That's really the question here. I mean, you have one side saying the other side is playing -- both sides accusing of other of playing politics. It's not uncommon. It's also not uncommon to see this sort of brinksmanship. We know Harry Reid in the Senate, the majority leader, has said this House passed bill is dead on arrival, dead before it even got to the Senate. We can predict they're try to vote to show it's not going to pass and then have to get down and do some real dealing.
If you talk to administration officials they say it's going to get done. Can we lay on the plain. Yes we can. There will be some twists and turns, it will be hairy in the end, but it will get done. Of course, that's the kind of line you can say about many of the legislative accomplishments in the last six months.
We'll see what happens. It's unclear whether the White House can say even though they gave a chance to pass it we're going to veto it, because of the pipeline. It's unclear if they'll win that argument with the American public. We'll have to wait and see.
ROMANS: Athena Jones in D.C., thanks.
COSTELLO: Good and bad news for GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich. With less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses. His political director in that state stepped down after calling Mormonism a cult. Two GOP candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are Mormon. Gingrich is already working with a barebones staff in the state.
Meantime a new poll shows Gingrich opened up a commanding lead nationally over Mitt Romney. But head-to-head with the president is another story. CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is here to break down the latest numbers. Good morning, Paul.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Carol. Let's get right to it. This is an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll of people likely to take part in the Republican primaries. As you mentioned, nationally, there you go, Newt Gingrich right at the top. We're seen him there for two, three weeks, four in 10 saying yes, they would support him for the nomination. Look at Romney, 17 points back, and everybody else in single digits. A pew poll out yesterday showed the same thing pretty much.
But go to the next thing. You alluded to this, an electability problem probably for Gingrich. This poll suggests that. These are hypothetical head-to-heads next November. There's President Obama 11 points ahead of Gingrich in this poll from NBC "Wall Street Journal." But look at Romney and Obama, basically all knotted up. So Gingrich that the advantage in the primaries but it seems he would have a problem in the general, at least according to this new poll, Carol.
COSTELLO: OK, let's talk about Gingrich's political director in Iowa. He stepped down for something he said before he even joined the campaign. What up with that?
STEINHAUSER: Here's the backstory. Let's go back to Saturday night. Remember Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in that debate and they were really going back and forth and that squabbling continued for a couple of days. So yesterday morning Gingrich puts on a message to his campaign saying no more. We're not going on the attack anymore against any of the other candidates other than the president. And that's to both his staffers and to his surrogates.
But, OK, this new guy, just hired, his is name Craig Bergman, hired this week. Earlier this week and in front of a focus group he called Mormonism a cult. This is the statement from the campaign yesterday. "Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role to Newt 2012 today. He made a commitment too -- a comment to a group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012's pledge to run a positive and solutions-oriented campaign." Carol, I visited the HQ the other day. It's pretty small and just lost one of their top guys.
COSTELLO: We can't let a day go by without talking about Donald Trump. He fired himself at debate moderator. STEINHAUSER: Yes. And it's all because Donald Trump doesn't want it give up the possibility, he says, of running as an independent candidate next year if he doesn't like who the Republican nominee ends up being. He was supposed to have this debate on December 27 in Iowa. Remember, only two candidates, Gingrich and Santorum, said they would attend, but now Trump saying, no, we're not going it because I don't want to give up a chance, a possibility of returning as an independent. Stay tuned. There's always something with Donald Trump, isn't there?
COSTELLO: He always says he's going to run for president if the right candidate isn't chosen. Who does he think the right candidate is?
STEINHAUSER: Maybe himself. I don't know.
COSTELLO: I don't know either. Paul Steinhauser, thanks.
Coming up at 8:40 Eastern, with Mitt Romney's Mormon faith under attack anew, and Newt Gingrich's personal life popping up again, we'll talk about how all of this will impact Iowa conservatives with Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and we'll also talk about it with "Newsweek" reporter McKay Coppins.
ROMANS: All right, texting and driving just don't mix. The NTSB is calling for a full nationwide ban on using cell phones behind the wheel, and it applies to hands-free devices, too. This recommendation came after several investigations found texting to be the cause of deadly accidents. Now some lawmakers are already opposing this ban, saying the government shouldn't push too far into people's lives. We spoke with NTSB chairman Debbie Hersman last hour. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRMAN: I know that this isn't the popular thing, but it is the safe thing, and it's the right thing to do. We fully respect that everyone else has different views about this, but no call, no text, no post is worth a human life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: And 3,000 people died in distraction-related crashes last year.
COSTELLO: IPads, iPads cleared for takeoff, really. Beginning on Friday, American Airlines pilots will be the first pilots allowed to use iPads in place of paper flight manuals in the cockpit, even during takeoffs and landings. Passengers, though, will still have to shut down their electronics from the moment the plane leaves the gate until it reaches 10,000 feet.
You're saying what? And you're still thinking about Alec Baldwin, how they won't make him happy, you're wondering, hmm. Is it really dangerous if you don't turn out your electronic device during takeoff? ROMANS: Maybe it's OK for the front of the plane to do it but I don't want to test it with 300 others texting. I'll follow the rules.
COSTELLO: It's confusing.
ROMANS: All right, it's nine minutes after the hour.
Also making news this morning, a new and potentially damaging hit to the credibility of top News Corp executive James Murdoch. A new e- mail suggests he was informed about the damaging allegations against his "News of the World" newspaper back in 2008. This revelation coming just weeks after Murdoch testified he was unaware of illegal eavesdropping. In a letter to British lawmakers, Murdoch now concedes he replied to the e-mail, but he does not admit reading it.
COSTELLO: A stay of execution for nearly 4,000 local post offices and 250 mail processing centers that were set to shut down in April. The postal service agreed to delay those closing until mid-May to give Congress more time to save the debt ridden company from bankruptcy. It is estimated the postal service will lose $14 billion next year.
ROMANS: A crackdown on loud television commercials. The Federal Communications Commission will now require broadcasters to maintain constant volume levels for programs and commercials. This new rule takes effect next December. It gives them time to come up with ways to smooth the differences in the audio levels. Isn't that annoying? They got 6,000 complaints. I can't believe it was only 6,000 complaints.
COSTELLO: I can't believe it's as simple as turning down a dial somewhere, but apparently it is not.
ROMANS: Still to come this morning, millions could soon lose a vital life line, their unemployment benefits. But how long should we help the unemployed? And what would happen to the economy if we don't have those who have fallen on hard times?
Spy versus spy, how America's covert war against Hezbollah and Iran may have just taken a giant hit.
COSTELLO: And it's the complete opposite of what we're used to seeing, products made here in the United States and sold in China. We'll tell you who's doing it and how they're doing.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 11 minutes past the hour.
ROMANS: A live look at the capitol in Washington. It's 14 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.
Right now lawmakers have a few weeks to hammer out differences when it comes to two important money matters, the payroll tax holiday, that matters to every working American, and jobless benefits, which matters to five million people who aren't working who would lose those by the end of the year. Those benefits, by the way, a critical safety net for millions of Americans who have fallen through the cracks here. And if Congress fails to extend that coverage, as I said, five million people's benefits would expire by the end of the year.
Joining me now, Steven Moore, senior economics writer for the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page, nice to see you, and Bob Herbert, a distinguished senior fellow at Demos. And you and I, both of you, we've talked about this before, about what impact extending and extending and extending unemployment benefits has on people's willingness and desire to go out and get a job.
Stephen, you say that all of these unemployment benefits extensions and 99 weeks of being on - on jobless checks, it is discouraging to getting work. Why?
STEPHEN MOORE, SR. ECONOMICS WRITER, WSJ EDITORIAL PAGE: Well, because you're essentially giving - sending a check to people who aren't working and the condition of getting that check is that they not find a job.
So, look, I'm an economist, Christine. I do believe incentives matter. And when you pay people not to work, you know, you're going to find that they're - they're not going to be as eager to find a job.
And by the way, that's not just my opinion. The vast majority of the economic evidence shows that. That people who are unemployed, Christine, they find jobs right about the time when their unemployment insurance runs out.
And so what I'm saying, I guess, is, look, I don't have a problem with giving people three months or six months or even nine months of benefits, if they lose their jobs. This is a tough job market, no question about it. But I do think you have to ask, is two years of benefits too long? And my answer to that is, yes.
ROMANS: All right. So, Bob, I want to ask you this. Unemployment rate for men is 8.3 percent right now. And a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia who earlier this year said the unemployment rate for men is probably 1.2 percentage points higher, because of the fact that they have these extended unemployment benefits.
So is that - is that evidence that we should get rid of those benefits and the unemployment rate will fall?
BOB HERBERT, DISTINGUISHED SENIOR FELLOW, DEMOS: No, it's not. I mean, I do think extended unemployment benefit has a modest effect on the jobless rate. In other words, people do, to some extent, hold off on accepting jobs if they're getting extended benefits, but it's very modest. I would not characterize it as paying people not to work.
The point of unemployment benefits is to help out people who are really struggling in an economy that has been atrocious for a long time. So you have to decide on which way the balance sheet goes.
ROMANS: And where does that money goes? So that money goes right at the economy too, right?
HERBERT: It goes right to the economy. It has modest benefits for the economy. But the question becomes, do you want to help these people who are hurting so badly? I would say, yes.
ROMANS: Could we do a little bit better on doing retraining and maybe modifying this program? I mean, if we have people on unemployment benefits for about 99 weeks, should it be a different kind of program when we're putting people - you know, I mean, the president's talked about this Georgia Works Plan where people get the jobless check but they're working in an office to get it.
HERBERT: I'm in favor of retraining, but we have to look at the reality of the job market and it's awful. So let's say you had 1,000 men who suddenly do not have unemployment checks. You send them into the job market, they are not going to get jobs right away. There are about four people applying for every available job. ROMANS: Stephen - and that's true. I mean, a lot of economists even as they tell me - they tell me that, well, it adds 0.4 to the unemployment rate, or the unemployment rate will be 8.3 percent if we didn't have all these benefits. It's still 8.3 percent. You're still not creating enough jobs. It's almost as if what's the - what's the symptom and what's the disease here?
MOORE: Well, I agree with that. By the way, I think that I got a little minor concession there out of Bob for the first time on this. That there are some, at least minor adverse consequences on people looking for jobs.
HERBERT: No, that is my understanding. That's what economists have been telling me.
MOORE: Right. That's what I'm saying. All we're arguing about is how big that effect is.
MOORE: But, you know, Christine, it's interesting. I actually travel the country and I do talk to employers. I'll just give you an example. I talked to a CEO of a major trucking company and I asked him, "What's your biggest problem?" And I was surprised he said, "You know, we can't find drivers."
ROMANS: I know.
MOORE: I said, "Wait a minute. You've got eight percent unemployment." And he said, "You know what? A lot of these drivers who took unemployment during the height of the recession, they're waiting out until their unemployment benefits run out until they find a job." So I do think there's negative consequences here.
You know, when we passed Welfare Reform back in the mid-1990s, we did put time limits on how long people could get welfare benefits and we did find, Christine, that people moved back into work. And that's what we all want to see. We want - by the way, the worst thing you could do for somebody who loses a job, the longer they stay unemployed they lose their skills. It's less likely they're going to find a good-paying job. So I think we do a disservice to the unemployed by giving them benefits for such a long time.
ROMANS: Bob, even people who think that we need to just for - for humanitarian and social network, social - you know, social safety net reasons, we need to extend these, at some point we can't pay people not to work forever?
HERBERT: I completely agree with that. But then we need to have a discussion to say what are we going to do about large numbers of people who are unemployed in a terrible job market who no longer qualify for jobless benefits.
HERBERT: If there's one more quick point to make -
HERBERT: -- I was talking to an architect up in -
ROMANS: He'll take your trucker and raise (ph) you an architect.
HERBERT: -- well, who's receiving an extended unemployment benefits in Connecticut, and he had an opportunity to get - to get a job at Home Depot. And he said to me, "Bob, I'm an architect. I don't want to work at Home Depot." So he did not take that job ultimately and it was quite a bit later he did get another job -
MOORE: And that's my point. You just made my point. You know, that that - that's what happens. People - if they have unemployment benefits they wouldn't take the first job that comes along.
HERBERT: I acknowledge that it happens sometimes -
HERBERT: -- but I do not think that that is the norm. Most people who are out of work desperately want a job.
ROMANS: And, you know, I'll tell you something, you take both of those stories, you multiply it by 14 million and that's what you got. You know, everyone's got a kind slightly different case -
MOORE: Christine, what we don't have is a real jobs program to create jobs. And I think Bob and I agree, this is a lousy jobs market. We might disagree on why, but I'd say maybe this is an indication that the stimulus -
MOORE: -- and all these other programs don't work so well.
ROMANS: Here we go. Oh, no, no. That's a whole discussion for another time.
ROMANS: That's a whole another seven-minute discussion, guys. Thanks. Nice try. Nice try, Stephen. Stephen Moore and Bob Herbert, nice to see both of you - Carol.
COSTELLO: That's great. Thank you, Christine.
Let's head to Atlanta to check in with Rob Marciano. Any travel delays to speak of?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think Dallas later on today, Carol, and Chicago maybe this morning. Detroit as well. We have some rain that's heading in those two spots. And one will be more rough than the other.
East Coast, though, not so bad and mild actually. Temperatures is going to be well above average across much of the eastern third of the country, because this storm is going to be pumping up some moisture and some heat. It's the one that was bringing all the snow and the nasty weather across parts of the southwest and now some of that moisture is stretching into the lower Great Lakes.
Chicago, some rain, heavy at times this morning stretching into parts of Detroit and through Cleveland as well. And then the southern part of this has some energy with it, too, and the afternoon and evening, the threat for severe weather exists throughout much of North Texas including Dallas and Austin for damaging winds, potentially some hale and maybe an isolated tornado.
Look at the snow totals we saw yesterday across parts of Arizona, as much as two feet in spots. And we'll see several more inches across Southern Colorado and New Mexico today. Winter storm warnings posted still with this system.
As mentioned, Chicago and Dallas, some delays expected today. If you're living out in the west coast, get outside and check out the meteor showers happening right now. Of course, come right back in and watch AMERICAN MORNING.
It's 21 minutes after the hour. We'll be right back.
ROMANS: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.
The Federal Reserve holding off on any new steps to boost the economy. That announcement pushing stocks lower. The Dow dropping 66 points yesterday. Stock futures right now pretty - trading slightly lower right now. Why? Because of the euro.
Also lower this morning is the European currency. Right now, one euro is worth less than $1.30. That's the lowest level in nearly a year against the dollar. That means I guess if you're headed to Europe over the holidays you're getting a better exchange rate, but it shows some pessimism about the direction of the European Union.
It's a move that could fuel more tension between the world's two largest economies. China is announcing it will now slap what it calls an anti-dumping tax on all U.S. sedans and SUV imports. The new tariff started yesterday. They'll range from 2 to 21 percent.
Ford recalling certain models of its Fusion and Mercury Milan. The reason, the wheels could fall off. The models affected include those equipped with 17-inch steel wheels built in 2009 and 2010. So far, Ford says it's not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.
Americans love to share only it's about themselves. According to AddThis Analytics, 52 percent of all online sharing this past year occurred on Facebook. Nearly 14 percent took place on Twitter. That's, by the way, up 577 percent from last year.
If you're hoping for that kiss under the mistletoe, you may want to come up with a Plan B. There's a mistletoe shortage. That's right because of this year's drought in Texas. Most florists say they didn't even realize it was a problem until they tried to place their holiday orders and found out the crop has been hurt by all of that dry weather.
AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Iranians really always have the upper hand in any type of covert engagement because they do it all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: The CIA's covert war with Hezbollah in Iran, not so covert anymore, on this AMERICAN MORNING.
COSTELLO: This morning it's already 30 minutes past the hour. Welcome back. Top stories for you now.
With 160 million Americans facing a $1,000 payroll tax hike in 17 days, the House passed a payroll tax cut extension, but the measure includes provisions to speed up the approval process for the Keystone oil pipeline. Democrats say, that's a deal breaker.
ROMANS: A national poll showing that Newt Gingrich is now blowing away Mitt Romney, but he has electability issues against President Obama. This comes as Gingrich's Iowa campaign takes another hit. His director in Iowa is out after calling Mormonism a cult.
COSTELLO: Just hang up and drive. Safety experts are calling for a nationwide ban on using cell phones to talk and text message while driving.
The NTSB wants to take it one step farther banning all electronics devices in the car, even hands-free devices. More than 3,000 people died last year because of distracted driving.
ROMANS: If you bought shoes recently, there's a good chance they were made in China. But now Allen Edmonds, an American shoemaker is switching things up. They're opening stores in China and they're selling shoes that aren't made in China.
They're made here in the U.S. Our Ted Rowlands is live in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Ted, this is really a man bites dog story, quite frankly. Did the company find it difficult to open up stores in China, any resistance?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no because they have a partner in China, which makes a difference. It took them a while to make the deal to sell in China, but the amazing thing about this, as you mentioned, 90-plus percent of the shoes blocked in the United States, worn in the United States, are made somewhere else.
The bulk of them are made in China, but here they do it all. This is a classic made in America story. They literally start with this and they crank out shoes.
They've got 330-plus people working on the production floor here in Port Washington, which is about 30 miles north of Milwaukee. A lot of these folks have been here many, many years including Eileen Stakey (ph), 28 years.
She said she tried to quit a few years ago, she's back. You say you feel lucky to have this job, why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a good company to work for and I enjoy working with all the people. They give you a fair wage. I enjoy what I'm doing. So --
ROWLANDS: You're still here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still here.
ROWLANDS: And a lot of the people we've been talking to have the same story and the company says part of their success here in the United States and they've seen sales go through the roof over the past two years is because of the made in America philosophy.
They have a flag up top here in the factory floor. It's definitely part of the mantra here at Allen Edmonds and they say that that not only helped sales in the United States, but is part ever the reason they've been able to get into China because people in China want American-made products.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL GRANGAARD, PRESIDENT, CEO ALLEN EDMONDS SHOE: I do think this made in America, the American ethos and mystique is going to be very impactful as we open up in China. We definitely need more people to make the shoes. We're tapped out right now. We'll be hiring more people to stock their stores even next year.
ROWLANDS: Have the barriers been broken down in terms of getting into the Chinese market?
GRANGAARD: Some of them were broken down. These shoes will cost 70 percent more to the Chinese than they cost here in the United States with all the tariffs and everything, but western products are able to garner that higher price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: So basically, Christine, the answer to your question, have all the barriers been broken down? It's not easy to get into China because of the tariff, not for every company, that Allen Edmonds says they found that niche. They're going to crank out about 2,000 here shoes just today.
Junior has been here 35 years. He married his wife. She's at the other end of the production line here, 30 years ago. A classic American production story, made in America, and --
ROMANS: Is this a luxury shoe? I mean, is this a high-end shoe?
ROWLANDS: It's $120 to $600 price range. Most of the shoes are sold in department stores like North Strom and they run about $300. So they're a higher end shoe. That's attractive to the Chinese market.
And it's also doing well here in the United States. They say -- and part of the reason, they say people are loyal to the company because it's made in America. It's a huge part of their success.
ROMANS: And it's interesting too because their growing middle class wants very high quality goods. They don't want mass produced low quality stuff, which is kind of the made in China label.
So they like the European, the Italian and anything that is American made, that has to be top, top quality. So that's interesting niche for that particular company. Ted Rowlands, thank you.
ROWLANDS: You bet.
COSTELLO: A surprise legal move yesterday in the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Jerry Sandusky in and out of court in minutes waiving a preliminary hearing and keeping his accusers from taking the stand.
Afterwards we heard a few hints about his defense strategy. Joining us now is Jerry Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola. Thank you for joining us this morning.
JOE AMENDOLA, ATTORNEY FOR JERRY SANDUSKY: Good morning, Carol. Thank you. COSTELLO: I think a lot of people are still confused about why you decided to waive the preliminary hearing. So tell us why.
AMENDOLA: Well, the answer is simple. Monday night the attorney for the Commonwealth contacted me to discuss details about the preliminary hearing.
During those conversations I had with him, he indicated he would ask the judge following the preliminary hearing to increase bail. I've always been concerned that Jerry might wind up in jail pending his trial, which would really impede our efforts to adequately and properly prepare his defense. It's very difficult to work with a defendant when he's incarcerated.
So we began discussions about making concessions. Us waiving the preliminary hearing in return from the Commonwealth saying to us, guaranteeing, they would not seek increased bail pending trial, as well as give us pre-trial discovery materials earlier rather than later.
When the Commonwealth attorney advised me he would agree to that, we then agreed to waive the preliminary hearing. We told him that on Monday night. I advised him he could call off his witnesses. He chose not to because there was arrest albeit very small, that Jerry Sandusky could have shown up Tuesday morning.
He still needed to show up to sign paper work to waive, but he could have shown up and said, I want a hearing. Now had that happened, I would not have objected to a continuance, if the witnesses had been called off.
But nevertheless, the Commonwealth attorney wanted to be safe so he kept all of his witnesses available for Tuesday morning. All we gave up --
COSTELLO: Why show up physically in court? Couldn't this have been decided before because surely you knew the workings of the preliminary hearing before going into this thing?
So why go through all of these maneuvers when you could have just said we're going to waive the preliminary hearing and all of these alleged victims wouldn't have had to gather in the courtroom? Waiting to see if they would testify or not.
AMENDOLA: Very simple. We got a major concession on Monday night that which we didn't have prior to Monday night from the Commonwealth not to seek a bail increase pending trial.
That was a major concession for us, to keep Jerry Sandusky out on bail so that he can work with his defense team in preparing his defense. We did not have that until about 9:30 or 10:00 on Monday night.
That's the reason we waited until the last minute to waive the hearing. We did not have that concession prior to late Monday evening. COSTELLO: Everybody's wondering whether this means, really means, underneath is all that your strategy is towards a plea deal instead of a full-out trial. Would you settle for a plea deal right now?
AMENDOLA: No. As a matter of fact, there has never been a discussion about a plea. Jerry has indicated from the outset of these allegations in 2008 with accuser one that he's innocent as to the charges filed against him. He's maintained his innocence.
And we are ready and we're preparing to go to trial. As I said yesterday, this is to battle -- this is a battle to the death for Jerry. If he's convicted or if he even pleads guilty, essentially he's going to be facing a life prison sentence.
At 67 years old, he would never see the light of day. But more importantly, Ccarol, he has always maintained his innocence and under our great legal system, he's presumed to be innocent. What we're asking the media and the public to do is to give him the opportunity and a fair handed way to prove his innocence in trial.
He's presumed under our great law that he's innocent. The jury will be told that by a trial judge and the jury will not be able to consider his innocence until all the evidence is in and the judge has instructed the jury about allegations at the end of the trial.
COSTELLO: We heard from one of your colleagues last night on Piers Morgan, Carl Rumminger. He told Piers Morgan that last night, mentally and emotionally, Sandusky is more like a teenager than a 60- year-old. Is that true?
AMENDOLA: Well, it is. As a matter of fact, if you talk to all of his friends and his family, they all describe him, if were you to ask them separately, individually, out of the hearing range of someone else. They would all say to a person, Jerry has always been nothing more than an overgrown kid.
If you look at some of the videos that were made years ago, going back 5, 10, 15, 20 years, Jerry's interaction with kids, has always been, always been that of another kid playing with kids. He's just an overgrown kid, and everyone who knows him and loves him has always said that about him.
COSTELLO: Is that the strategy you're going to take if this case goes to trial?
AMENDOLA: Well, that's part of the strategy. Part of what we've been trying to do is show you folks in the media as well as the public, that Jerry is not an articulate, experienced speaker. He's bashful.
He contemplates questions before he answers. He pauses. Oftentimes as you've seen in interviews, he'll repeat the question. Many times you have to really drag answers out of him. One of the frustrating things I run into when I just sit down with Jerry individually and ask him questions is it takes so long for him to answer.
Not because he's lying. Not because he's fabricating. That's just his mannerisms. I think as we expose him more to the public and to the media, I think people and I think you folks in the media will start understanding, that's just the way Jerry Sandusky is. That's the way he responds.
COSTELLO: When you say expose him more to the media, does that mean that Jerry Sandusky, we'll continue to see him giving interviews?
AMENDOLA: He may, under certain circumstances. We're contemplating that now. We haven't made a final decision, but it's not going to an open-ended situation where he's exposed to what I was exposed to, for example, yesterday following the waiver of his hearing among maybe several hundred media people.
That would be in the form of an interview with an established fair-minded even-handed journalist who would ask fair questions and give him a fair opportunity to respond. But again, we haven't made any definite decision as that how and if and when we're going to do that.
COSTELLO: Some attorneys say that's exactly the wrong tactic. That the more Jerry Sandusky speaks publicly, the worse it becomes for him?
AMENDOLA: Well, and I would say this to those attorneys who make those comments. Nobody knows my case the way I do. Just as I don't know the cases in which other attorneys represent their clients.
This case started off so badly for Jerry Sandusky. On November 5th, when charges were filed, within the first 24 to 48 hours, the media and the general public had convicted him of these offenses.
All of you folks almost to a person were referring to the accusers as victims, and they are not victims until and such time as a judge or a jury determines after a trial or after a guilty plea that Jerry Sandusky committed these acts.
So we've started off way, way behind and I've compared it to climbing Mount Everest from the bottom of a hill. The bottom line is --
COSTELLO: Isn't this like trying the case in public though? I mean, in essence, that's what it is.
AMENDOLA: Well, isn't that what the Commonwealth did? You may recall after the attorney general filed charges, the attorney general held a press conference and referred to Jerry Sandusky as all kinds of names, including pedophile and monster, and a serial pedophile.
What worse, what worse information could have been put out there to poison the public's mind? All we're trying to do is level out the playing field. I don't know if we'll be able to level it out because there's been so much prejudicial information that's been given to the public by the other side in this case, including for example last Wednesday when Jerry was arrested on new charges.
The Commonwealth knew darn right well that we would have turned ourselves in. Jerry would have presented himself at the judge's office to face new charges.
Instead what they chose to do is to have the media outside his home, have them show up, take him out in handcuffs, which connotes to most people the principle that the person must be guilty when he's handcuffed and taken out of his home and taken to a court and put in jail.
What worse in the way of prejudice could there have been than the Commonwealth doing something like that. All they had to do, bring him out, Joe, why don't you bring him to the judge's office? We have new charges. I didn't even get a courtesy call, Carol, from the Commonwealth.
I found out that he was arrested from the media and I think that's a terrible situation to put him in and it's certainly poisons the public minds so an answer to your question, all we're trying to do let the public know there are two sides to this case.
And despite what the Commonwealth has alleged and what the attorney, the civil attorneys, might add for accusers are saying, we are and Jerry has maintained his innocence.
We are preparing for trial and we anticipate that there will be an even-handed trial and 12 independent objective jurors will listen to the evidence and make a decision after the trial.
COSTELLO: Mr. Amendola, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.
ROMANS: This just in this morning. The protester is "Time" magazine the person of the year. That's right, the "Person of the Year" is "The Protester." The announcement just made moments ago with an emphasis on the Middle East protesters behind the Arab Spring uprising. We'll going to talk about "Time's" choice and how it was made at the top of hour when we're joined by Bobby Ghosh. She's the "Time" magazine's international editor.
COSTELLO: So we guessed right this morning, then.
ROMANS: The protester. There you go.
Did you guess right? Did you guess right?
ROMANS: You did?
ROMANS: Carol, you're so smart.
COSTELLO: Well, I don't know about that. Still to come this morning, closing in on the God particle. After years of research using the largest and most expensive scientific instrument ever built, physicists say they're closer than ever to seeing the tiniest building blocks of the universe. We'll get an explanation so all of us can kind of understand that.
COSTELLO: It's 45 minutes past the hour.
COSTELLO: Forty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.
Who would think a group of physicists could get so darn excited?
COSTELLO: Hey, physicists are people, too.
The news out of CERN, the world's largest particle physics lab near Geneva, drew rousing applause. Scientists announced they're closer than ever to finding the so-called God particle. It's what might have built the universe after the Big Bang. It's called the Higgs boson and it's key to an elegant theory of mathematics, to be specific, explaining how tiny particles interact to form your coffee mug or the tree in your backyard, or you, for that matter. Scientists at CERN think they've spotted hints of this illusive particle in their experiments.
To help us better understand this announcement, we're joined by Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist as Columbia University and acclaimed author of "The Elegant Universe: A Hidden Ready."
BRIAN GREENE, PHYSICIST, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY & AUTHOR: Good morning.
COSTELLO: So physicists in the United States woke up early yesterday to watch that web cast from Geneva and they were so excited about this announcement. Why is this such a big deal?
GREENE: For about 40, 50 years, we've been developing a theory to describe the basic constituents of matter, how they interact, the forces by which they evolved, and we have been able to test every piece of that theory, called the standard model of particle physics, except for one ingredient, and that ingredient is this so-called Higgs particle. Finally, we think we may be on the heels of getting that particle in the laboratory, being able to confirm that it really exists.
COSTELLO: Let's talk about this so-called God particle. Is there an easy way to explain to people exactly what it is? GREENE: Well, one of the big questions that we have faced for a long time is, why do the familiar particles that make up you and me, electrons and quarks, why do they have mass? Mass is the resistance to being moved. If you push on a truck, it has a lot of mass and you can feel that, because it doesn't let you push it. Why do particles similarly have a resistance to being moved? The answer that people have come to, Peter Higgs, an English physicist, is that we are immersed in a bath of a molasses-like substance called the Higgs field. It's around us. It's around you, around everybody, out there in space. And particles, as they try to move through the molasses, experience a sticky, drag force, and that is why it's hard to move through this environment. That is where the massive particles come from.
To prove this, we need to chip off a little piece of that field, that molasses. That little piece would be the Higgs field, the Higgs particle. And we hope we have found the Higgs particle in these experiments.
COSTELLO: You say hope. But let's talk about how exactly they're trying to find it. So talk about this incredible piece of machinery they're using at CERN to determine or to find the God particle.
GREENE: This is the biggest experiment that's really ever been built. It's a 17-mile-long tunnel that winds its way under Geneva across the French border and back again. What happens is protons are sent cycling around this tunnel near the speed of light. And they are directed into head-on collisions. And the hope is that, in the power of those collisions, a little piece of this Higgs field can be chipped off, a little Higgs particle can be produced. And there's now circumstantial evidence, not definitive yet, that that may have happened.
COSTELLO: OK, circumstantial evidence. But, what if the circumstantial evidence is wrong? What if there is no God particle? What if it doesn't exist?
GREENE: Well, we'll know for sure in roughly a year or so. We just need to collect more data. That's what the experimenters at CERN are doing. The signal so far are suggesting that this particle is where we think it may be in terms of the mass that it has. But if it doesn't exist, I have to tell you, there would be a way in which it would be even more exciting. We live for surprises. We have been developing this theory for decades and it's great for the mathematics to be confirmed by experiment. How spectacular is that? You do equations on a piece of paper and it describes what happens in the real world. Thrilling. That's why everyone is so excited. But if it's not there and we're sent back to the drawing board, in a way, that's more thrilling, still.
COSTELLO: It would change everything. I can't even imagine. I mean, I know you would be fascinated and it would probably produce another fabulous book.
GREENE: Yes, well -- (LAUGHTER)
-- books or no books, our goal is to understand the nature of reality. And when we get a surprise and that forces us to rethink what we've thought was true about reality, well, that is extremely exciting. We don't know if that will happen. Maybe the Higgs particle is real and maybe this data is solid, but we'll know roughly by summer. It's something that you should just keep your eyes open and we'll see what happens.
COSTELLO: We will, indeed.
Brian Greene, thank you so much for joining AMERICAN MORNING.
GREENE: My pleasure. Thank you.
ROMANS: Ahead next hour, playing politics with a $1,000 tax cut many families have been relying on. This measure could kill another effort to extend the payroll tax holiday.
COSTELLO: And "Time" magazine announcing its "2011 Person of the Year." It is "The Protester." We'll talk about that choice and how it was made at the top of the hour. Bobby Ghosh will be here, "Time" magazine's international editor.
ROMANS: Here's what you need to know to start your day.
Democrats say a House bill that extends the payroll tax holiday won't pass the Senate because it includes provisions to speed up the approval process for the Keystone Oil Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Just 17 days to go before 160 million Americans face a $1,000 payroll tax hike, especially if this holiday is not extended.
The NTSB calling for a full nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving. Get this -- it includes those hands-free devices, too. 3,000 people died in distraction-related crashes last year.
A shakeup with three weeks to go until Iowa. Newt Gingrich's political director in the state is out after calling Mormonism a cult. Two GOP candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are Mormons.
A grenade and gun assault on a packed Christmas market in Liege, Belgian yesterday. Four people in Belgium died during that attack before, police said, the attacker, Nordeen Amrani, turned the gun on himself. More than 120 others were hurt -- 120 others hurt. Police say the suspect also killed his cleaning woman before embarking on the rampage.
Today marks the second round of Egypt's parliamentary elections. Egypt's Islamists claimed victory in the first round last week. These are the first elections since the February uprising that toppled long- time leader, Hosni Mubarak. The sale of Elizabeth Taylor's world-renowned jewels, smashing records at Christie's Auction House last night. A 50-carat pearl, a gift from Richard Burton, sold for almost $12 million. That's more than five times its estimated value.
You're caught up on the day's headlines. AMERICAN MORNING is back right after a quick break.