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CNN Sunday Morning

Five Nigerian Churches Bombed; Gingrich Write-In Plan DOA; Interview with Charles Barkley

Aired December 25, 2011 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We are at the top of the hour, 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING, and a Christmas morning.

Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Thank you for spending part of this important day for you and your families here with us.

We're going to get you caught up on a lot of things, have a little fun this hour as well. But sit back and enjoy.

But unfortunately on this Christmas Day, not all the news is so joyous, of course.

We're starting with a tragedy today actually taking place. Two churches are being bombed on Christmas Day. The same thing happened in Nigeria last Christmas Day. We'll get you the update about what happened just a little while ago.

Also, this news is coming as Pope Benedict delivers his annual message from the Vatican. It just so happens he's talking about violence around the world. We will let you hear part of his message.

But let's start with those two Christian churches in two cities in Nigeria, both bombed today, Christmas Day, during holiday worship services. An eyewitness to the second explosion says he counted at least 19 people dead, many others are injured. This was happening in the city of Jos, that's one of the cities, and not long before that, another bomb took place in Madala.

Now, no official word yet on casualties there. I talked to a journalist who was on the scene of that bombing in Jos.


HASSAN JOHN, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Yes. It's been a terrible event this morning. We have, from my count, 19 dead as of the time of this report. We do not know yet how many are in hospital. That was in (INAUDIBLE) this morning as of about 8:00 a.m. The one in Jos was about 10:30 where police officer was injured in a multiple bomb blast inside a church.


HOLMES: These bombings reminiscent really of what we saw last Christmas, same thing. Suspected Islamist extremists bomb churches there in Nigeria. Dozens of people killed in those attacks.

Now thousands also gathering in Rome today. They are there to hear and see Pope Benedict. He's delivering his annual Christmas Day message. The 84-year-old pontiff presiding over his seventh Christmas mass

The themes this year focusing on the essence of the holiday rather than the commercial holiday it has become. Also focusing on the need to find peace in an increasingly violent world.


POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors' rods and blood-stained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord, Almighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the one who loves us, the one through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you.


HOLMES: And part of the pope's message, another part of it on this Christmas -- you don't hear that much about the birth of Jesus this time of year, do you? You are hearing so much about the celebration of shopping. Listen.


POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): Today, Christmas has become a commercial celebration whose bright lights hide the mystery of God's humility which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of the season and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem so as to define true joy and true light.


HOLMES: And I want you to stick around. In just a couple minutes, Nadia Bilchik here with our "Morning Passport," showing us some of the unique Christmas traditions around the world.

But at four minutes past the hour on this Christmas Day, got to talk a little politics here because we are getting some reaction after Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry failed to get on the Virginia primary ballot. Yesterday, Gingrich's team announced they'd launch an aggressive write-in campaign.

Part of the statement from the campaign saying, "Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates. We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia who will pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all of the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice."

Sounds fine. One problem -- Virginia law specifically prohibits write-ins for the primary. So, now, what?

Well, the Gingrich says it's, quote, "evaluating" options.

Let me bring in our dear friend of CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING, Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane Politics, also "The Daily Beast".

Good to have you here on Christmas. Merry Christmas.

PATRICIA MURPHY, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Merry Christmas to you! Not to Newt Gingrich!

HOLMES: Yes, not to Newt Gingrich -- what a horrible ending. Is this going to have a tangible effect on the race or does this just kind of look back, a little embarrassing. His home state technically right now, he lives there.

MURPHY: Yes. Well, it will have to two effects.

The first one, of course, is how embarrassing is this? You're from Virginia. You can't get on your own state's ballot. It just looks bad and reinforces the narrative that he doesn't have the professional operation to actually become president.

Is he another bubble candidate? That's what this sort of reinforces.

Now, if it does get to Super Tuesday when Virginia votes, there are 50 delegates at stake and that -- if this is a close race, everybody needs every delegate they can get. So, right now, it's not going to have a huge logistical impact, but it does reinforce a very negative narrative.

HOLMES: OK. By reinforcing that narrative, could this turn off some potential donors?

MURPHY: Donors? Absolutely. Voters, probably not.

You know, a voter in Iowa, a voter in New Hampshire -- what? Who cares? You know, Virginia, I've never even been there.

But donors are thinking, I've got $1 million to give to somebody, I'd like to see that million dollars spent properly. I want to have it to an operation that's going to take my money, put it where they can use it and know what they're doing every step of the way.

This says, I don't know what I'm doing.

HOLMES: OK. We have a couple polls we can put up here. He has been holding pretty steady. If it were held today, we were asking folks here -- the Republican primary, if it was held today, who would you vote for? Still, Newt Gingrich coming out on top, at 30 percent. Romney at 25 percent.

What are we seeing with Romney over the past couple of weeks? He always seems like throughout, he's at 20, 22, 25 -- he can never really break that threshold. How is holding on, steady as you go?

MURPHY: Steady as he goes. And, you know, the difference between what we're seeing in Mitt Romney, and what we use to see him is we're actually seeing Mitt Romney. He had been in sort of a hidey hole, almost a witness protection program, doing no interviews, not showing up anywhere. And now, he is coming out, he's doing interviews, and he's hitting Newt Gingrich hard.

So, finally Mitt Romney is becoming a presidential candidate and not a minute too late.

HOLMES: What happens if Ron Paul wins Iowa? How does that shake up the race?

MURPHY: Well, I think right now, the expectations are being raised that Ron Paul will win Iowa. So, if he does win, all it will do is meet expectations. It will certainly energize his base of support that is huge, voracious, very, very strong.

But I don't know that it will take him a lot further than Iowa. I think also it will knock Newt Gingrich down a few notches in case Ron Paul wins. It's not going to have an effect on Mitt Romney. He is not expected to win Iowa.

HOLMES: OK. Last thing quickly. Is the president going to be sending "thank you" cards to the Republicans in the House for that Christmas gift they just gave him?

MURPHY: That would be more like a kick in the teeth than a "thank you" card.

You know, going to Hawaii with a smile on his face is all thanks the Republicans need right now. They need to just go home, regroup, have a little soul-searching session, and come back with a fresh face in January, hopefully, with a different political game plan.

HOLMES: With the political year ahead, it is going to be nasty folks. We don't have anything we can tell you, it will calm down a bit but it's about to be a heck of a year.

MURPHY: It will be a heck of a year. Enjoy the ride.

HOLMES: Thank you so much for being here on Christmas Day and also my last newscast here --

MURPHY: I know.

HOLMES: -- at CNN.

I've been working with you for years and years. We just got you to Atlanta to have you in studio, and I'm leaving. Don't take it personally.

MURPHY: I'm not taking you personally but I think you are a great talent and we're going to miss you.

HOLMES: Thank you so much. But still, we'll be in touch. Patricia Murphy, you'll seem more of her, of course, here on CNN.

We're eight minutes past the hour. We need to remind you, though. January 3rd, Iowa caucuses. You can stay here with CNN for America's Choice 2012 coverage of those caucuses, 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Again, we're eight minutes past the hour. We're getting news reports again -- we're getting more reports of more explosions in Nigeria. We were telling you that we got word of two churches being bombed there earlier today during church services. Same thing happened last year. A number of people were killed. We're getting reports that 19 people were killed and two bombings today, at least 19.

But now, we are being told that at least three more churches have been bombed, this would be a total now of five churches bombed on Christmas Day during some Christmas services taking place there.

Again, this is news we are just getting. Just taking place this morning on Christmas Day, unfortunately. But the death toll, according to some reports now, is up to 25. So, a really sad, unfortunate story we have to bring you here on Christmas Day about churches being bombed.

Stay with me. We'll have the very latest.



PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS KIMBERLY RYAN, U.S. NAVY: Hi. I'm PO2 Kimberly Ryan, currently deployed in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. I'd like to say happy holidays to my family back home in Norwich, Connecticut.


HOLMES: Well, about 13 minutes past the hour on this Christmas morning. And time for a Christmas edition of cross-country.

The man known as the secret Santa of Portland, Maine, at it again for the second time. This holiday season, he handed out cash to complete strangers. Each envelope had $100 bill in it with a note that said, "Pay it forward."

Also in Bellevue, Washington, this mail carrier Santa says he's going rogue. A co-worker complained about his Santa suit but he decided, naughty or nice, he'd keep on wearing it anyway. How are you going to complain about a Santa suit?

Spokane also, 60 special kids boarded Alaska Airlines Flight 1225, also known as Santa One for a magical flight to the North Pole and a visit with Santa. They were all chosen because they were especially good. The trip was made possible by Santa and Mrs. Claus, of course, and some of the elves at Alaska Airlines. Also, a lay-away angel was turned away from not one but two Wal- Mart stores? Jennifer Larue said she wanted to surprise some people by paying off their lay-away balances but she was told it violates Wal-Mart's privacy policy? Wal-Mart's regional V.P. though toll our affiliate KPRC there is no policy against random acts of kindness.

Nadia, are you kidding me? She's just trying to do a nice thing.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: I know. That's one of those stories, right? Well, let's hope she finds someone else to help.

HOLMES: To help -- just trying to do a good thing. We talk a lot of Christmas talk today, and rightly so. Christmas around the world though.

BILCHIK: Let's start with Japan. Japan has been through so much this year but during Christmas, Christmas in Japan is synonymous with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

HOLMES: Kentucky Fried Chicken, that's right.

BILCHIK: About 40 years ago, what happened was foreigners didn't have any turkey so what they did was they used to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken saw this as an unbelievable opportunity. And now in Japan, it is (INAUDIBLE), Christmas with Kentucky.

And in South Africa, remember, it is not winter. There is no white Christmas, it is summer. You will be having Christmas on the beach and maybe (INAUDIBLE) braai means to barbecue. So, it's to cook a meat, a braai place. You'll be having a braai place with (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: I like those two so far. A lot of good food, fried chicken and some braai place up there. All right.

BILCHIK: In the Ukraine, a rather beautiful tradition. You will have an artificial spider and spider web, but the legend is so beautiful because there is a very poor widow and she couldn't afford either tree or decorations and a pine cone apparently dropped into her home and grew a tree and there were no money for decorations. So what happened was the spider spun a web and with the glint of the sunlight created the most beautiful decoration --

HOLMES: Is that a true story?

BILCHIK: Supposed to bring you good luck. According to legend.

Now in true Christmas tradition, I have a gift for you.


BILCHIK: A Christmas gift and a parting gift because, T.J., you've been such a wonderful part of my life.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

BILCHIK: So, this is a Peyton Manning signed ball because I may have shared my passion for South African rugby. But you have shared your passion for American football.

HOLMES: Look at that.

BILCHIK: And there's more. (INAUDIBLE) especially to T.J. a ball for you. So merry Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, my dear friend and colleague, T.J. Holmes. I have loved every moment both off the set and on. And I know you will go --

HOLMES: It has been -- it has been a pleasure. You know as well we're big sports guys around here, me and Reynolds both. But we started this "Morning Passport" a while back -- probably at least a year or so ago now.

BILCHIK: Actually, it's been nearly a year-and-a-half.

HOLMES: And a half.


HOLMES: But you've added so much to this show, some elegance that Reynolds and I just cannot bring. So, we appreciate it. It is always interesting, always a pleasure.

Thank you. And we are saying bye on the air but we don't have to say bye.

BILCHIK: Well, good-bye, good luck, and I know, T.J., you are a star in every way.

HOLMES: Thank you so much, Nadia, with a great morning -- it's a great "Morning Passport," wasn't it?

All right. We're 17 minutes past the hour.

Still got a little work to do here though. Mike Young has made it his mission to help more than 100 rescued dogs who are in need of a new home. He's not helping in the way you might think. We'll meet this pilot's now very special cargo. Take a look.


MICHAEL YOUNG, VOLUNTEER PILOT: My dog's name was Conan. He was a German shepherd. We paid good money to have the cancer treated. He responded well to the chemo but his kidneys failed, and that's ultimately why we had to put him to sleep.

Now I'm on Pilot and Paws, which is a Web site that people have dogs that have to be transported, these are rescuers who pull them from high kill shelters, post on this Web site that they have dogs to move from point A to point B.

And pilots like me get e-mails saying another request has been posted. And I scan through them to see if there's any rescue flights that are within my areas that I can do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how is live treating you this fine day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing good. Saved some more dogs.


YOUNG: They actually look like they know they're about to be saved. This is different. There's people loving them, there's other dogs around them. And they almost know that going to be going to their forever home.

Bo seems to want to be in the back seat. You know what? He's just managed to get to the front.

Transporting dogs is one of the most important steps in saving dogs. You have to move them from rural areas typically to more urban areas where there's a higher probability that they're going to get rescued.


YOUNG: What do you guys think of your new addition to your family?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's absolutely beautiful. We love her.

YOUNG: When you look into the new owner's eyes, for the first time, they're going to get to hold their dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to hold your buddy?

YOUNG: And they just hold their dog like they just had it forever, and they were waiting forever for this dog. You know that dog is going to have a good life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, sir. Oh, have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year and thank you. You actually made our Christmas.

YOUNG: So how can I not spend my time and money giving to these dogs? Giving to the owners of these new dogs the opportunity to have the love that I have for these dogs? And, really, that's what it's all about.


HOLMES: You can be sure to watch CNN's "Giving in Focus" special today at 4:30 Eastern Time hosted by Tom Foreman.

Well, Santa's got a gift for you sports fans today. Yes. NBA games. A lot of them. Five key match-ups.

Also to my viewers an my followers on Twitter, I've been teasing you all about my final guest that I would have. I gave you some hints. I said it would be a good friend of mine. Said it would be a hall of famer. Told you it was a multiple Emmy winner as well. You recognize that guy? My final guest on CNN is next.


TECH. SGT. ROLANDO MARTINEZ, U.S. ARMY: I'm Technical Sergeant Rolando Martinez. I'm here in Southwest Asia. This greetings is going to my parents, family and friends in Enterprise, Alabama. Happy holidays. I love you very much.



HOLMES: Twenty-three minutes past the hour now. Let's just go ahead, Deidre, and take these two shots so the viewers can see who we got in the building today.

Chuck, how you doing? Charles Barkley.

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Man, I'm glad to be back to work. I'm glad to be back to work.

HOLMES: Tell the truth, man. NBA is kicking off today, December 25th. Yes, Christmas Day.

But would have you preferred the lockout went a few more days so you didn't have to work Christmas?

BARKLEY: Not really. First of all of, I enjoy my free vacation time but there's so much collateral damage from the people who work at the arena, people who work for the teams, and also all the businesses around these arenas.

So, that's the thing that frustrated me the most. I wasn't worried about the players and owners because they're both greedy, but there's so much collateral damage, I'm glad to be getting back to work.

HOLMES: So greedy. You're trying to do the best you can about. And a lot of you guys trying to not just dog the players -- I mean, while it was all going on. But you know what? Who really screwed up? You called everybody greedy but did the players play this one right?

BARKLEY: Well, I thought the owners went overboard. They won the game and they were trying to run up the score. I was very disappointed in the owners.

The players really tried to get a deal done much sooner but I thought the owners, they had the hammer and they really used it.

HOLMES: Is it all going to be forgiven and forgotten when today you kick off and you got these -- you all, TNT, 11:00 pre-game show, and then you all have a game at noon, the Knicks-Celtics today.

BARKLEY: Yes. HOLMES: But all forgiven and forgotten once they get back on the court?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know what the fans are going to do. It would be presumptuous to say. I hope they come back.

Listen, it is business. Sometimes it is uncomfortable when you're in business, when you're negotiating.

And I hope the fans come back. Like I said, the players screwed up and the owners screwed up. That's the only way to look at it. But I'm just glad that we're back to work.

HOLMES: It's the Heat to lose this year?

BARKLEY: I don't think so. I think in the East, Miami and Chicago are the two best games. I thought Boston had a chance before they lost Jeff Green. But I think Boston -- that really killed Boston's chances of winning a championship. But Miami and Chicago, they are the two best teams, by far.

And the West, you got Dallas, Oklahoma city, and Memphis to me are the three best teams in the West. And we got to figure out the rest of them are going to do.

HOLMES: You didn't mention Lakers.

BARKLEY: I did not mention the Lakers. The Lakers -- you know, Kobe Bryant has been the greatest player for the last 10 to 15 years. But he's older. Let me -- he's old. And listen, his best days -- no disrespect to him -- are behind him.

But also, I don't think -- their guard play is very slow with the Derek Fischer and Ron Artest, and you can't lose Lamar Odom.

They got swept. So, they're not the defending champs. The Mavs are.

HOLMES: You always say, you figure out -- when you figure it out that it was time to retire is when guys --

BARKLEY: When guys who can't play are kicking your behind. That's when it's time to give it up.

HOLMES: You look at that guy and you know he's no good and he's beating you.

BARKLEY: Yes, that's what it's like. And it's very frustrating, because your ego speaks for the player you used to be. You know, Kobe Bryant's going to be a good player. But as far as his days of being the best player, those days are over.

The best player now is probably LeBron, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade -- those are the best players.

HOLMES: All right. We aren't done here with Charles. Many of you all know -- and may not know -- Chuck has been one of my best friends since I've come to CNN. He's given me some guidance in this decision I made to be leaving CNN. We might get into that in a second.

So, we'll leave basketball here for a moment. After the break, we'll continue on a bunch of things, including weight watchers, also some political commentary.

I'm going to get you to take back something you said last week. And this is what I'm talking about. Look at this.


BARKLEY: As a Democrat who loves the president, I am downright giddy! There ain't no way we can lose to them idiots!



HOLMES: At the bottom of the hour on this Christmas morning, unfortunate news we have to bring you. Breaking story out of Nigeria where at least five -- five now -- Christian churches have been bombed today during holiday worship services. Earlier today -- we were telling you just a little while ago this morning that there were two churches that had been bombed. But in the past few minutes we've gotten word at least five now have been bombed today. Reuters reporting as many as 25 people have been killed.

Now this is certainly reminiscent of the same scene we saw last year, Christmas Day. Same thing suspected Islamist extremists bomb churches there in Nigeria. Dozens of people were killed in those attacks. But this is certainly unfortunate but still a breaking story on this Christmas day. At least five churches bombed in Nigeria during holiday worship services.

Also in Rome, thousands of people gathered there as they always do this time of year on this day to hear and see Pope Benedict delivering his annual Christmas day message. In a message to Catholics he asked them to remember the quote "essence of Christmas" rather than the commercial holiday it has become. Also, he stressed the need for finding peace in an increasing violent world.

Just a couple of minutes past the bottom of the hour now again I was teasing some of my followers and viewers here about who would be my last guest on CNN and lookie-lookie who we got, good friend, NBA analyst, TNT analyst Charles Barkley. We talked basketball there a second ago.

But something else that people are noticing just looking at the screen right now.


HOLMES: Chuck looks good. How much -- how much weight did you lose? BARKLEY: I've lost -- I've lost 50 pounds total. But I've lost 36 -- I'm the new spokesperson for Weight Watchers. And listen, it's something that I need to do.


BARKLEY: Because I'd gotten fat. It's embarrassing to be fat, to be honest with you. But I've had opportunities to do other products but I don't think you can give fat people small meals and they stick to it. I like Weight Watchers because it encourages me to eat fruits and vegetables which I did not eat --

HOLMES: Yes, ever.

BARKLEY: Ever. Ever. But I like it because they don't tell me to starve myself. They encourage me -- well mandatory to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and it's been fantastic for me.

HOLMES: Now so you have no problem and -- it's so easy for you to call yourself fat. A lot of people not -- won't say that kind of stuff --


REYNOLDS WOLF AMS METEOROLOGIST: Guys, we don't need to talk about diets. I mean, I'm sorry, Wade, I mean I love you hear and things --

BARKLEY: Well first of all of my close friends call me Wade.

WOLF: That's right, that's very, very true.

HOLMES: How are you doing man?

WOLF: How are you? Dude, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

HOLMES: Merry Christmas.

WOLF: I'm sorry to interrupt this wonderful conversation.

BARKLEY: That's ok. You know you welcome any time. It's your show, man.

WOLF: Yes I had to hop in here.

BARKLEY: Over here it's going to be really extremely windy with the Santa Ana wind over here. In the midsection of the country, it is going to be really snowy and everything. And on the East Coast, it's going to be clear, a little cold but clear. To the south, it is going to be a little rainy. See? That's my impression of you.

WOLF: I deal with this all the time whenever I hang out with this guy. I just want to let you know I had to come by here today because I love you like a brother, man. This has been -- it's been an honor working with you but you know I'm not the only person who feels this way. I am really not. I mean, this is like one of this "It's your life" moments.

BARKLEY: Yes, it is.

WOLF: Now, one person who happens also to be tuning in with the magic of minor technology.

BARKLEY: Oh wow, oh wow.

WOLF: Is our executive producer Tenisha Bell is tuning in and she's actually with us from Los Angeles looking splendid as ever. I think she got a few words for you.

HOLMES: Hang in there Tunisia.


HOLMES: Merry Christmas, if you all don't know this is the one, if I'm on the air and I am speaking proper English, it's because she puts those words in my mouth. So Tenisha is the one, my executive producer has been taking care of me for years. And look at her she's joining us on Christmas.

BELL: I wore my Christmas red to match that horrible shiny Christmas tie you have on. What is that?

HOLMES: Well, it is the spirit of the season.

BARKLEY: He looks nice.

WOLF: It looks incredible.


BARKLEY: He looks better in person, I guess.

BELL: Ok. Merry Christmas.

WOLF: It's amazing it's a bit of an eyesore.

BELL: Merry Christmas.

WOLF: But you know Tenisha helps out because she looks great. Tenisha wishes you merry Christmas but there's someone else who's tuning in from the Lone Star State of Texas.

HOLMES: Oh we know, we didn't see this one coming.

WOLF: Betty Nguyen is also here.

HOLMES: Loot at that there. Betty, Betty, my long, lost co- anchor.

BETTY NGUYEN, T.J. HOLMES FORMER CNN CO-ANCHOR: Never lost, just a little bit farther away. You think I would miss your last day? Come on. HOLMES: Wow.

NGUYEN: There's no way. Not even the holidays would keep me away from being right here with you on this special moment. And I am just so proud of you, T.J. I real am. We have been through so much on the air, off the air, our shenanigans, our good times, our tough times.


NGUYEN: And you are like family and I am just so happy and so proud of you.

HOLMES: Wow, Betty --


NGUYEN: Congratulations.

HOLMES: -- you are family. And a lot of people certainly know that from our time here at CNN but what people don't see -- and I hope you are seeing it now -- this really is my family here, folks. I spend more time with these folks off the air than anybody would imagine.

Tenisha, certainly; Betty still even though she's in New York; Chuck who's here all the time in Atlanta, we spend summer time with him; and then Reynolds of course as well. This is family, folks. You are seeing some of our moments here. But this really is.

And Betty, I've gotten a ton of comments from people this morning saying bring Betty back, they say well, maybe Betty will be the last guest, because people remember our time here.

WOLF: I got to tell you though T.J. --


NGUYEN: I know. Do not adjust your television sets.


WOLF: Absolute and we got more --

NGUYEN: We are here on CNN together. It's amazing. And I'm glad to be back here and sharing this with you. So best of luck to you, T.J. you know there's one other thing -- I know they're trying to wrap us up -- is that you're going to be closer to me in New York.

HOLMES: Yes, yes.

NGUYEN: Which is so fabulous -- actually we may even be working in the same building together.

BELL: Don't rub it in.

NGUYEN: Yes, I'm going to get more T.J. time. This is wonderful


BELL: Don't rub it in.

WOLF: Guys, sit tight. Sit tight for just one second, we've got a lot more coming up. We've got to cut for a break but we've got all kinds of T.J. splendor moments away.

HOLMES: T.J. splendor, all right.

WOLF: It's a holiday thing come on.


WOLF: -- if you don't do it, truly one of the things that always made it fun working with you is I've been in TV for nearly two decades. And you know what's funny is when you work with someone, a lot of times you have a consultant that will come in and try to make two individuals who have completely different backgrounds become friends.

It may not even be true, they may not mesh but they try to make it work.

WOLF: Like you and Chuck had to here.

BARKLEY: Yes but there's a -- you're a cool dude though.

WOLF: Well, I mean he -- but he's the coolest. And working with you was the absolute easiest thing in the whole world. It was always a blast. And I've got to tell you I'm not the only person on this team that feels the same way.

HOLMES: All right what you got.


BELL: Planning for the weekend morning. T.J. is leaving -- no. No and I'm sad. Why are you doing this to us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is it on three, two, one, good-bye T.J.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought this was a group good-bye T.J.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we can't see you, Richard. We can't see you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good bye T.J., we're going to miss you. Best of luck, we're going to miss you. Boom, we're gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.J. could you write us all a script please?

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.J., you owe me $50. I know where you live, I know where you're going, you better pay it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.J., it was great working with you and wonderful getting to know you. We're really, really going to miss you.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: The thing I'm going to miss most about you is the impact you have in the makeup room. You can make grown women blush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: T.J., I will miss you so much; 3:30 in the morning, Saturday, Sunday will never be the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like T.J. back like you think you got to focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone needs to yell "focus."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, here is what we do, we start -- Nadia, you say "T.J., we're going to miss you." And then everybody's like "Bye T.J."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst message ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.J., rap is not music. It means stop talking. Stop. I guess you don't have to worry about that anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm going to miss most is hearing you say "Where is Fredricka? Where is Fredricka?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just want to say good-bye and good luck but I have a sneaking suspicion you'll be back because I raided your desk and stole your Peabody Award, your Turner five-year pendant, a pin and I'm keeping your badge clip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, T.J. good luck in your endeavors. We're going to miss you around here at CNN overnights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye, man. We're going to miss you.




WOLF: See what -- what more proof do you need to know that people adore you. And it's not just in the world of TV but also it transcends into politics.

HOLMES: Into politics?

WOLF: Yes into politics. Maria Cardona was kind enough to wish you good-bye, also.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: T.J., I just want to say thank you, my friend. You have been a true friend. You have been the consummate professional. You have been one of the highlights of my weekends every single weekend for about a year-and-a-half.

The listeners, the audience, the viewers, the voters love you. They love your professionalism. They love your energy. They love our segments together with my friend Lenny.

And I just want to thank you for giving us the opportunity for a very high-level intellectual debate that is always focused on the issues, is always fun, and is always energetic.


WOLF: See? I mean it is incredible. You got a lot of people on left that love you but politically what about people on the right?

BARKLEY: Well we don't care what they have to say.

WOLF: Oh come on. We have Lenny McAllister. Lenny, merry Christmas. I'm sure you got a few words for our (INAUDIBLE) over here.

HOLMES: Lenny on Christmas Day?

LENNY MCALLISTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, T.J., and congratulations. You know we love you, man. I appreciate being on with you. It's been since 2008 where you and I have had an opportunity to just talk about the political issues of the day.

But I want to focus on something happy for you before I let you go. So first of all, Merry Christmas, congratulations.

HOLMES: All right.

MCALLISTER: Now you know this is how I roll.

HOLMES: Oh wow.

MCALLISTER: Right? You know this is how I roll. Right?

HOLMES: Yes, we know.

MALLISTER: But for you, T.J. For you T.J. Holmes, January 6th, 2012, because you're my friend and I love you -- got to do it. Whoa pig sooey. Go Razor Backs.

HOLMES: That's huge. That's huge. The Razor Backs.

MCALLISTER: I love you man.

BARKLEY: Lenny? Lenny? Number one, T.J. tells me you're a very nice guy. Because me and T.J. were together last night and I was killing you and he was defending you. So we got -- he says Charles, you're going to like Lenny when you meet him because I was killing the right-wing at dinner last night. I was killing you.

MCALLISTER: Well, you know what? They're just -- Charles, they deserve it. Over the last several weeks they've just been terrible. You know this as well as I do.

HOLMES: Lenny, it has been a pleasure and it's been one of the great joys that people like you, Maria, also Mario Armstrong, folks that we recognize something in here on the weekends and put them on the air and now other people are recognizing your value as well, using you on different shows, many of them getting jobs as contributors on networks and other things and we know that's going to happen for you as well.

But I think that's a test amount to who you are, who you all are that we recognize your talent and your ability and put you on, and now other people recognize it. But it's been a pleasure -- we're not done, of course.

MCALLISTER: Thank -- thank you T.J.

HOLMES: TV or friends but --

MALLISTER: Of course and all the texts and everything, man. Please, it is one big team. Thank you, T.J., for leading that team. God bless you always.

HOLMES: Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for coming in on this day and thanks for the hat.

MCALLISTER: Thank you merry Christmas.

WOLF: Makes my skin crawl. Not the good bye. I love Lenny -- the Razor Backs I mean, come on. We all love the guy.

BARKLEY: Well, let's try to enjoy this. We got like another two weeks of national champions.

WOLF: That's true. That's true.

BARKLEY: Yes, we're the defending national champs for another two weeks.

WOLF: Right, absolutely we've got to celebrate that.

And speaking of celebrations, we've got more of this man's celebrations. Some of T.J. Holmes finest moments. We're moments away from that.


WOLF: That was good. No, it's ok. Come on it's like ripping off a band-aid. It's kind of painful but it's all for good.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: They're not always pleasant those --

WOLF: It's all right. There's nothing embarrassing about this whatsoever.

HOLMES: Past five years I've done some embarrassing stuff.

BARKLEY: No, we were talking off the air. Some of the people you met in your life is truly remarkable.

HOLMES: This job, man -- that's such a blessing to be in this position. It gives you exposure to so many things. Both of you all know it as well because we happen to have those kinds of jobs. I'm looking at some of these pictures, you think back wow.

BARKLEY: I'm a big Sanjay Gupta fan.

HOLMES: Sanjay.

BARKLEY: And President Clinton and Mr. Young. That's amazing.

1OLF: It never ends. I mean people that flow in and out of your life when you are in a position like this is great. It is just starting for you. You've had some great moments meeting these people. We have what we consider some of our favorite T.J. moments. You've got to check this out.



HOLMES: That is a 2x4 that came through the wall and they say they don't have any idea where that thing came from.



HOLMES: 2,753 people were killed right here behind me at Ground Zero.



HOLMES: 16 years old. You're telling me --


HOLMES: You're telling me you've been shot at before? Does that sound normal to you, a 16-year-old that has been shot at before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean does it sound normal to you? Getting shot in the head?

HOLMES: Not at all. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's reality now.



HOLMES: That carry-on bag is necessary. I do not have a carry- on bag that will fit under the seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can't you fit in here, T.J.? What can't you fit in here that you have to have on the airplane with you?

HOLMES: You take an overnight trip. You take a two-night trip, you need a -- couple of pairs of jeans, a couple of t-shirts, maybe a jacket. You can't fit that under. Then you are asking people to fly for hours --



HOLMES: The army build more than a dozen towns and villages and another forward operating bases. The intent is to bombard the trainees with the look, the sound and the feel of Iraq.



HOLMES: I heard you talking, everybody was kind of laughing hearing you say you've done nothing. You've done nothing. What are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What am I doing here?

HOLMES: What do you mean what are you doing here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've done nothing.

HOLMES: You've done nothing. What are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been chasing my footsteps try to find out what can I do?



HOLMES: It is impossible to come here and not have some kind of an overwhelming emotional response. This is sacred ground. This is the very place, the very spot, where Martin Luther King was shot and killed.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: You hear all the reports about people being angry and people in D.C. talking about, yes, America is angry. I don't think these folks are angry. These folks are disappointed and hurt about what they see coming out of Washington.


HOLMES: Should have done this first.



HOLMES: Lot of people follow you. And the fellows might think why are you not talking to us? Why are you not giving us some relationship advice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that would be great but they don't buy books.



HOLMES: Some of these spices in the cabinet, not just for cooking.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Yes. The magic spice, Viagra for women or the cheap high -- which is -- have a smell first. Tell me if it has any effect. That is nutmeg. This is supposed to be an arouser and a well-known fact.

HOLMES: Reynolds is yelling for some nutmeg.


WOLF: I'm just going to -- wow. Wow.

BARKLEY: First of all, that first thing you did with my man with that ugly bag, that's the reason to keep him off the plane. That is the worst bag. I hope that isn't his real bag.

HOLMES: He actually runs Spirit Airlines.

BARKLEY: I don't care. That's the ugliest bag I've ever seen in my life.

WOLF: That's terrifying. It's a force (ph) -- you put that on the seat next to you, no one's going to sit next to you.

Oh my God, that's terrible.

BARKLEY: It's ugly.

HOLMES: I remember that interview well because they started charging people for their carry-on bags. We were like, dude, you got to have a carry-on. He said just stuff it under the --

WOLF: He can't do that.

HOLMES: No, that was a fun moment.

WOLF: You know, those were great moments but you also had some great moments with Steve Perry and Mario Armstrong and thankfully they were able to tune in with us and

BARKLEY: Steve Perry is fantastic to CNN.

WOLF: He's incredible and I see excessive facial hair from one of them.

HOLMES: What's going on?

WOLF: That's insane.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, man. I tell you, T.J., the first time I met you it was at the Carter Center. You had this really bright pink shirt on and sunglasses this size. And a couple of ladies were like, "Oh my God, it's T.J. It's T.J. And I said there is a grown man in here named T.J. Then I saw what your real name is and I was like wow, that's kind of like one of my student's names.

So I will go with T.J. too but hey, congratulations on really a great run. You're a good dude.

HOLMES: This is your -- you come in to give a parting shot? I wouldn't expect anything else. Steve Perry.

PERRY: It's all up.

HOLMES: Here was another one that we've started using; we loved on our weekend show. And you and I always knocked heads on TV, but it is fun, it's energetic, people appreciate it but it's always respectful. That's something we always tried to do even with our other guests.

Fine, disagree, go at it, be passionate, but don't disrespect the other side. That's something I always appreciated about you Steve.

PERRY: Likewise, T.J. You know, you always bring another side to the conversation, even if that wasn't your side. People don't understand that this guy works really hard to be a professional to present you with the information from both sides of the conversation so that you don't have to hear just one side. So regardless of what side I was on, he had to be on the other. Good job.

HOLMES: Appreciate you saying that. I don't know what's going on with Mario Armstrong there with --

WOLF: We got to check him out. We've got to see him. There you go.

HOLMES: Mario, Mario, seriously.

MARIO ARMSTRONG, TECH GURU: T.J. did you expect anything different? It is Santa Claus, man. Merry Christmas to you.

Look, this is a big deal, this is a big moment. You opened the door for me about two years and two months ago and all jokes aside, they talk about Steve Jobs says put a ding in the universe. I think I take away three things from you, man. Passion -- everyone wants to find out what their purpose is in life and you clearly know what yours is and do it well. Commitment -- on and off air I've seen with you deal with people trying break into the industry and mentoring. And last but not least consistency -- your quality every week is flawless, man.

So thank you because not often do we, anybody, any employee, get a chance to work with all-stars in their field and you, my friend, are one of those all-stars and I just can't thank you enough for learning from you and working for you and for you opening the door and for Tenisha (ph) giving me that chance. If it weren't for you and Tenisha, I would still be trying to get on CNN.

HOLMES: That's -- you know what, Mario, we've been talking about that this morning. And he's -- well, you all don't know. Mario -- I met him on a panel two-plus years ago in Tampa. I said this guy's great. I immediately called my EP said, "Come downstairs, you've got to see this guy. We've got to put him on TV."

We've been using him every weekend, ever since and he's now been picked up as technical contributor to the "Today" show and that is something you, Chuck, told me the first time I met you. First night I ever met you, you said, "Now that I am where I am, it is my job to pull other young brothers up to where I am."

BARKLEY: No question. I don't know Mario that well, but Steve Perry is a treasure for CNN. The thing he talks so much about education and it is clearly one thing that young brothers, young black kids are struggling with in America, education. So Steve Perry, I'm glad CNN got him on our group.

HOLMES: Well Mario, as well, Mario, thank you so much for that; Steve, both of you. You got families; you've got things to do today on this Christmas day and you all taking the time to be here is actually a big deal. It means a lot to me.

WOLF: Guys, we're going to be right back.

ARMSTRONG: Thanks a lot guys.



CLYDE ANDERSON, FINANCIAL ANALYST: I want to thank you, thank you, thank you and wish you the best on your new journey and where you're going. I know this is not good-bye. It's just a good-bye for right now. I know we will meet again very soon, and you're going to be here so you're not going too far. I always know where to find you.

And I hope you continue to hear me in your ear when you think about those things that you begin to pull out your credit card to purchase, you always hear me saying -- don't buy. Don't buy. Don't buy.

My man, congratulations, and I wish you nothing but the best.



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": I wish you, boy, all the best. I have a place where I can go and watch you on TV doing the same amazing job that you have done for us here. I wish you everything good, T.J. Happy holidays. Happy future.


WOLF: We're going to see Candy Crowley again at the top of the hour but before we get back to Candy Crowley, we still have two more people wanted to say good-bye one more time. That, of course, would be Tenisha, Tenisha Bell and of course, Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: Well, it's a minute half left in the show. You all better make it quick.


BELL: We're going to make it real quick. I just want to say it has been a pleasure -- a pleasure to be with you, to work with you. You've been my brother, my friend. We've fought, we've argued but we've made really great TV and I wish you the best and I love you like a brother. I love Marley and I know you'll do great.

HOLMES: Love you, T.

NGUYEN: T.J., I was there the very first day that you started on CNN sitting right next to you and watching you as you were bright-eyed and excited about this business. You've never lost that passion. You're so good at what you do.

And most importantly, those friendships, those relationships that you've cultivated along the way; like we've all said, we love you. You are not only a colleague, a friend, you are family. And I'll be here for you every step of the way and I'm so very proud of you.

HOLMES: We have got so much to look forward to. This is amazing that I'm sitting here with literally all of my friends, Tenisha, Betty, Reynolds, Chuck, my wife Marley is in the booth in there with my in-laws as well -- I didn't think it was going to end like this --

BARKLEY: I thought you called them outlaws last night.

HOLMES: But let me as we hand this last 20 seconds to the viewers, thank you for supporting me. Five years at this network, I have learned a lot. I have a grown a lot but now my education and my growth just has to continue at another three-letter network.

Thank you so much for supporting me and as always, I appreciate you.