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CNN NEWSROOM

Bags of Cash From Iran; Haiti Battles Cholera Outbreak; September Housing Report Boosts Stocks; Social Media Spreads The Word; Countdown To Election Day; What's Hot

Aired October 25, 2010 - 11:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

Top of the hour here in the CNN NEWSROOM, where anything can happen. Here are some of the people behind today's top stories.

Surviving the storm. Texans are picking up the pieces after trying to figure out what hit them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a raw, sheer power feeling. You know, it's just unbelievable. You can't really describe what it's like to be that close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: One Democratic candidate says President Obama can take his endorsement and shove it.

Eight days and counting until the big vote.

And you're online right now. We are, too. Jacqui Jeras is following "What's Hot" for us -- Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Tony.

Women for sale. Imagine going to the mall, and instead of seeing the latest fashion in the window, you see women with price tags on them. Not exactly what you're thinking. That's trending right now on CNN.com.

HARRIS: Because what I'm thinking -- OK. Thank you, Jacqui.

Fierce tornado activity caught on tape in Texas. Have a look and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC MEYERS, NAVARRO COUNTY, TEXAS, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR: We are in a tornado! We are in a tornado! We are in the tornado! We are in the tornado!

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: Man, oh man. That is Navarro County Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Meters. He videotaped the twister as it tore the roof off a school and caused other damage.

And this tornado video from CNN iReporter Joey Romero. He and his girlfriend were driving from Dallas when hail started falling in Navarro County. I spoke with him last hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEY ROMERO, IREPORTER: Well, the first few seconds, I sort of just stayed there to see which direction it was going, and then I realized it was headed straight for us. So, after take some video for a few seconds, I decided the best thing to do was to make sure we got everybody in a safe spot, and that's when about 10 of us went into the freezer in the back. And that's sort of protocol for the area, and that's the safest part of the building.

HARRIS: So what did you hear? You're in the freezer. How many are in there with you? And what did you hear and what did you see?

ROMERO: There were about 10 people with us. And the first thing we did was remove some things off the shelves, so in case the building got shook up, nobody would get hurt.

It got really calm for a few seconds, and then the wind started to pick up and started roaring past us. And just after that, you know, the lights went out and everybody was a little bit scared. And we just tried to calm people down. And a few minutes went by, and people cried and prayed, and it just happened to pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Boy, oh boy

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Another grim milestone in the war in Afghanistan to tell you about. A CNN tally shows the number of coalition troops killed there this year has reached 600. The latest, a NATO soldier who military officials say was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan. It is the deadliest year for coalition forces since the war began nine years ago.

We are closely following another developing story out of Afghanistan. A surprising revelation from its president. Hamid Karzai admitting Iran has been funneling cash to his government.

CNN's Barbara Starr is in Kabul.

Barbara, good to you.

Any U.S. reaction to this story yet?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, Tony, the U.S. Embassy here in Afghanistan has said it doesn't want to talk about this, it's referring to everything to the State Department in Washington.

But earlier today, at a press conference here in Kabul, the president, Hamid Karzai, acknowledged openly that his government has taken what he called bags of money from the Iranians, and he also said that the U.S. is doing the same thing all the way back to George Bush, and that it's happening now still. Bags of money being given to Hamid Karzai, his chief of chief of staff, close associates.

Not a lot of explanation about what the money is for other than it goes to pay some expenses and to pay some people. Not any indication about whether it's authorized by the U.S. Congress.

Have a listen to what Hamid Karzai had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: This is transparent, and this is something that I have also discussed with -- even when we were at Camp David with President Bush. This is nothing hidden.

We are grateful for the Iranian help in this regard. The United States is doing the same thing. They're providing cash to some of our offices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: "The U.S. is doing the same thing," the Iranians are doing it, it's happening after nine years-plus of war. No indication it's because the banking system here may be faulty, it may not be up to snuff. Just bags of money coming this way, by all indications, from the president of this country here.

And as for Iran, he's not saying right now what the Iranians are asking for in return for the bags of money, but that's going to be a big concern to the United States -- Tony.

HARRIS: Absolutely. And we certainly want to know why we're behaving that way, as well, and where the money's going. And boy, accountability.

All right. Barbara Starr for us.

Barbara, good to see you.

Barbara Starr from Kabul, Afghanistan.

By now you've heard of the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. It is a Web page that publishes leaked information to support claims of government and corporate misconduct.

Now, over the weekend, the site released almost 400,000 classified documents detailing the war in Iraq through the reports of U.S. soldiers. The documents offer a new picture of how many Iraqi civilians have been killed since the war began.

According to WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, 15,000 more than previously thought. The documents further allege that the vast majority of those civilians were killed by other Iraqis.

Now, the Pentagon is denouncing the release of the information. Officials say the lives of about 300 Iraqis named in documents could now be in danger.

Want to learn more about the reports and the man behind them? WikiLeaks' founder will be Larry King's guest tonight here on CNN. That is 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Eight days until the midterm elections, and former president Bill Clinton says he is ticked off. We will tell you why.

First, though, our "Random Moment" in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: All right. So for today's "Random Moment," we are going back into the vault and bringing out a classic, right? The YouTube sensation that never gets old. That's right, Charlie bit my finger.

Hit it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ouch! Ouch! Ouch, Charlie! Ouch, Charlie! That really hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Look at Charlie. Watch this. Here it comes. Wait for it. Wait for it.

OK. I love it.

All right. There you have it, our "Random Moment of the Day."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Hope for Haiti today. Health officials battling a deadly outbreak of cholera say the worst may be over, but the risks are still quite high. At least 253 people have died, and with more than 3,000 people sick, makeshift hospitals, as you would expect, are overcrowded. Aid workers are doing all they can to bring in clean water.

What is cholera exactly? And how fast can it kill?

Josh Levs is back with that -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Tony. And as I talk to you about this, we can take a look at some of the latest images we're getting from Haiti. It's heartbreaking. Like they haven't been through enough, right? So now we're facing this. Now, cholera, what it is, basically, is an acute diarrheal infection. It's caused by ingesting food or water that's contaminated with it. And symptoms can set in incredibly quickly. So very fast treatment is needed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMOGEN WALL, UNITED NATIONS: Many of these communities are out of the reach of health facilities, particularly when you consider that for children, the time between symptoms appearing and death can be as little as four hours. So it's vital that we tell people how they can protect themselves and how they can respond fast and equip them to do that without relying on them having to come to medical facilities to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: As little as four hours between symptoms appearing and potential death.

Let me bring you some of the facts here from the World Health Organization.

Now, worldwide, they're saying there an estimated three to five million cases a year and up to 120,000 deaths each year in the world across a lot of different countries. Now, most cases actually can be treated successfully. Up to 80 percent of cases can get successful treatment.

Also, most people who ever get cholera don't know they have it. Seventy-five percent of infected people have no symptoms at all. So you're talking about the sliver within that that actually has symptoms, and then within that those who experience bad symptoms.

There's a reason why Haiti is actually in a different situation from a lot of other countries, as one experts explained to our Paul Newton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ERIC MINTZ: Haiti has been fortunate in not having previous cholera for a century or more, so the population here has no immunity. They haven't been exposed to this particular disease. So they're essentially vulnerable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: So it was interesting. Because they've been spared for a long time, Tony, that's why now they're a lot more vulnerable. They don't have that immunity, able to fight back. So they're in -- and an additionally tough situation that way.

HARRIS: Do we often see cholera infections in the United States?

LEVS: We don't. You know, I was looking at those numbers because it's so rare. It's rare in a lot of the industrialized world. Just a handful of cases maybe in the United States each year, according to the CDC.

And in a lot of cases, if it does show up here, it's because someone was traveling elsewhere and brought it back. But here, where you can get clean water, you can get medicine, you get sanitation. As a rule, people recover from it OK.

HARRIS: Yes. I think Sanjay is heading down there. I think he'll be reporting from Haiti starting Wednesday.

And of course you can -- thanks, Josh.

You can catch Anderson Cooper tonight. Actor Sean Penn joins him to talk about his humanitarian efforts in this health crisis. That's "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Countdown to Election Day. The midterms are just eight days away.

President Obama and the first lady are both on the campaign trail today. Mrs. Obama attends fund-raisers for Senator Patty Murray in Washington State and for local Democratic candidates in the San Francisco area.

The president visits the Northeast. He'll attend a congressional campaign fund-raiser in Rhode Island.

Former president Bill Clinton says he is "ticked off" as he continues his campaign swing across the country. He attended a fund- raiser for the longest serving member of Congress, Representative John Dingell. Clinton says he got involved after he saw that Americans might repeat the Republican takeover of the House in the 1994 midterms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I'm not just here on a personal mention, and I'm not just here for a whoop-dee-doo. I like all this enthusiasm.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: But frankly, there are a few things about this election that have gotten me somewhere between disturbed and ticked off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The midterms are a week from tomorrow. As the calendars winds down, the debates are certainly heating up.

In the Alaska Senate race, the Republican nominee squared off against the write-in candidate he defeated in the primary, and the Democratic nominee. In this exchange, they sparred over the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm the only veteran that's running for the U.S. Senate cycle in Alaska. I'm a combat vet.

I think it's wrong to play political games with our servicemen and women in uniform. What happened just most recently -- this was a vote that Senator Murkowski missed, she ducked the issue -- was that they tried to play political games with the military that's out there trying to protect all of us. It is the military that ought to make the decisions for the policy within the military.

It's not the role of government to come into the military and socially engineer it. It puts our readiness at risk.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), WRITE-IN ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is an initiative where we asked our men and women who are serving us, we asked them to weigh in on this. We owe them the decency and the courtesy to bring those response back in, to assess them, to make a determination as to whether or not it will impact the readiness, whether it will impact the level of preparedness for the fight, and deal with it accordingly. But to ask of them, and then for Congress to preempt that before we have gotten anything back from them, is wrong.

SCOTT MCADAMS (D), ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: I support the full repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

(APPLAUSE)

MCADAMS: I believe that as our society, as our country has evolved, every single time there has been a demographic that has been allowed to fully integrate in the United States military, it's been done with great success. I believe that will also be the case when "don't ask, don't tell" is fully repealed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The Alaska Senate candidates go at it again today. Now, in Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway meet in their final Senate debate.

And the candidates for Florida debate tonight. You can see that one live on CNN, moderated by Chief National Correspondent and the host of "JOHN KING USA," John King. Debates are also set for tonight in the Massachusetts and South Carolina governor's races.

Where can you get surgery for free? Some lucky people found out.

And we're getting new damage pictures from Texas. We will have the very latest from the CNN Weather Center.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Got to tell you, the housing market appears to be in a bit of a recovery mode. Fingers crossed that it holds.

Earlier this month, homebuilder confidence rose for the first time since June. Last week, we learned new home construction hit a fifth-month high. And today, the good news continues to roll in.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with new sales numbers.

OK. Good news, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good news. And, you know, it's not every day we get an upbeat housing report. Let's take a moment and kind of bask in it, right?

Sales of existing homes, or previously owned homes, they rose 10 percent in September. That's actually the second monthly increase in a row. We're seeing these sales up in every region of the country. It looks like people are taking advantage of record low interest rates.

Now, we've also noticed that home prices continue to fall, but they could be getting close to a bottom. I want to show you what median home prices have looked like over the past four years.

Those home prices fell about $19,000 in September of 2008, fell $15,000 last September, and down $4,000 this September. Now, it's important for these prices to stop falling, especially if you're a homeowner who's looking to sell soon, because if people think they're going to get a better deal later, they're going to wait and that "For Sale" sign is going to be up in front of your house a lot longer.

On this good news of the report, though, shares of homebuilders are higher. The broader markets is also doing pretty well. The Dow industrials up 42. They lost a little steam. The Nasdaq is higher by about 12 -- Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, Alison, can the hot streak we're on, the good news in the housing sector, can it last? I mean, I'm just thinking about the foreclosure issues, the robo-signing, the problems we've looked at over the last month or so.

KOSIK: Exactly. You nailed it.

And that's the big problem, Tony, especially since some banks are delaying these foreclosures. That could wind up really skewing the sales figures that we're going to be seeing over the next month or so.

So, yes, analysts are saying don't continue -- don't expect this trend to continue, because with foreclosures making up 35 percent of sales last month, that's a big number. And some homeowners are probably challenging evictions right now, so we're not going to see as many foreclosure sales.

Also, we've got a lot of foreclosures in the pipeline. So there's really a potential for a lot more homes to flood the market at some point, to go up for sale.

HARRIS: Sure.

KOSIK: So that's another huge issue. You know, we had Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaking about this today, saying that more than 20 percent of borrowers, they owe more than their home is worth. And an additional 33 percent of equity cushions of only 10 percent or less, it really makes these people prime candidates for foreclosures or short sales.

HARRIS: That's right.

KOSIK: So don't expect many more great housing reports like we got today. At best, this recovery, Tony, as you know is going to be a series of stops and starts. Hey, at least for today we're cheering a pretty decent report -- Tony.

HARRIS: Today's a good day. Tomorrow, who knows?

All right, Alison. Appreciate it. Thank you.

KOSIK: You never know.

HARRIS: Where can you get surgery for free? Some lucky people find out.

And we're back in a moment.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Boy, if you are planning to fly for the holidays, it is going to cost you.

CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow joining us now from New York.

Poppy, good to see you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Good to see you too.

HARRIS: Is there any hope airfares might sort of level off or come back down a bit?

HARLOW: One word -- absolutely not. I guess that's two words.

HARRIS: Yes.

HARLOW: That's why I'm staying home for the holidays. I can count here.

I know. They're going to be much higher than they were last year.

We sat down with the head of farecompare.com. He said prices are up 18 percent from where they were last year.

A few things in here. You've got the airlines at cut (ph) capacity, so you've got fewer seats. You actually have more people flying. It still feels like a recession, but apparently the experts say people that didn't take those trips last year, well, they're taking them this year. And the prices are really soaring already.

Take a listen to what Rick Seaney had to say about what you need to do if you're looking to travel during the holidays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SEANEY, CEO, FARECOMPARE.COM: You just can't procrastinate. Every day you wait right now for Thanksgiving, for example, just add $5 to your virtual ticket price. Right?

HARLOW: Really? Every day?

SEANEY: Yes. And you need to be buying no later than early November for Christmas. The bottom line is there's no incentive to discount it then. So, procrastination is going to be your worst enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So don't procrastinate. Buy those tickets now.

But I also want to show you the fact that you're still going to get stuck with those baggage fees. Let's take a look at some of these baggage fees.

The airlines are still raking in these fees even though just last week, we saw some really strong profits across the board for these airlines. On top of that, what we're hearing is that passenger revenue growth -- that means how much these carriers make on you, the flyer -- that's also up 17 percent from a year ago.

So, bottom line, no, it's not going to be any cheaper. It's going to be more expensive to fly this holiday. You have to get in right now and buy those tickets -- Tony.

HARRIS: Absolutely. And yes, absolutely not. It's not going to level out, it's not going to come down anytime soon.

All right, Poppy. Good to see you. Thank you.

HARLOW: You got it.

HARRIS: All right. Some of the 740,000 uninsured residents of San Diego County received much needed medical help this week. Kaiser Permanente teamed up with the San Diego County Medical Society. Together, they organized free surgery day for 40 lucky patients.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CHRSTINE WHITTEN, KAISER PERMANENTE: I think it's really important when people are blessed as we are to have good jobs, good families, and good health, to really share those attributes with people who aren't so lucky.

ROBERTO SILVA, FREE SURGERY PATIENT: Thank you to the doctor, to Kaiser Permanente. They do the best. And it's amazing. I can say, it's amazing what they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Roberto Silva underwent hernia surgery and didn't have to pay a penny.

Imagine being $70,000 in debt. $70 K in the red. That was the situation for our next guest. There she is! Good to see you, lady. How she how she turned that around. She joins us next with that beautiful smile in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know, there is a lot of advice out there on how to get rid of your personal debt. But who better to give advice than folks who have actually done it? We call them Debt Busters. Joining me now on Skype is Debt Bustser Jamie Tardy from Portland, Maine.

Jamie, good to see you. Ha, ha. Good morning.

JAIME TARDY, DEBT BUSTER: Hi. Good morning.

HARRIS: How do you -- $70,000 in debt. You know, how do you do that? that's a pretty big number. How did that happen?

TARDY: yes. Well, that's a good question. A lot of work, it took us almost two years to pay it all off. But it took -- by paying off student loan. I actually had $26,000 in student loan debt. So I was quite average in that. $25,000 in home equity loan, and $19,000 in a car.

HARRIS: Wow. OK. So now let's do this. I think we've prepared a little cover flow for you here. So, $70,000 in debt. And how did you get out of it? You got rid of your car?

TARDY: Yes. We -- two months before we started, we bought a brand new car. Which really wasn't the best idea.

HARRIS: Right.

TARDY: So, what we ended up doing was figuring out that the only thing we could do was sell it.

HARRIS: Did you sell it at a loss?

TARDY: We went to the dealership. Yes. Well, you assume that it would be a ridiculous loss. I thought we were going to lose like $6,000, and we ended up only losing $1,000.

HARRIS: So, what did you -- you replaced it with just a cheaper car or what did you do?

TARDY: Yep. We replaced it with a cheaper car. It worked just as well and got by just fine.

HARRIS: Because what you needed was transportation. You didn't need a fancy thing, you just need transportation.

OK, so, tell us about selling stuff, right, on Craigslist and eBay?

TARDY: Yes. Well, first we got on a budget, which really helped to figure out what was going in and what was going out. And then we looked around realized that we had a lot of stuff. Even though you don't assume that you have a lot of stuff, when you start looking around, there's actually a lot to sell. I say Craigslist and eBay were my best friends.

HARRIS: How'd you do? How much did you sell, how much money did you get? How much money did you make in selling your stuff?

TARDY: Well, we sold -- we had an old CJ-7 Jeep that we got, like, $3,000 or $4,000 for --

HARRIS: Nice, nice, nice.

TARDY: We sold weight benches, a kayak, a bunch of stuff that just sort of added up.

HARRIS: And you just applied that to all of the bills, correct?

TARDY: Definitely.

HARRIS: OK. Talk to us in a little more detail about the budgeting process and going through all your expenses from week to week and month to month.

TARDY: Yes. I actually write about it at eventualmillionaire.com, which is my Web site. I talk about how to create a spending plan, what to put on it, how to try to cut each category and what you can do to try and make your expenses less each month.

HARRIS: I think we've got another one here. Groceries, $300 a month. That's what you allocated?

TARDY: Yes. When we first started, we were trying to be really bad and go --

HARRIS: Rice and beans and beans and rice? What is that?

TARDY: Yes. Exactly.

Well, I didn't realize how hard it would be. But what we ended up doing was trying to add it up in the grocery store. Me and my husband made a game of it to try and add it up in our heads to see who would win, to see who would get closer to $300.

HARRIS: More easy or difficult for you to cut out the cable than your husband? Was it easier for you to get rid of it or for your husband to say, okay, honey, we can we can get rid of the cable?

(LAUGHTER) TARDY: The cable, it was a mutual decision, though I did work for the cable industry, so it probably wasn't good for my job. We have a plasma TV now, and it still has bunny ears on it.

HARRIS: Terrific. Hey Jaime, well done! To you and your husband, that's terrific discipline, huh? What's the site?

TARDY: Yes. It's eventualmillionaire.com.

HARRIS: Eventual millionaire - that's positive thinking! Way to go. Our best to you and our best to your husband today. Thanks for your time today.

TARDY: Thank you.

HARRIS: All right. The power of social media. Savvy business owners are harnessing it to help their businesses make sense. And you can, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Well, let's check our top stories. It's really just one story this hour that we're following. We've been following it throughout the morning. Well, just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the tornado! We are in the tornado! We are in the tornado!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Are you watching? This is the roof coming off a school. It's in Navarro County, Texas. Eric Myers is recording this. He's an emergency management official for the county. Pretty devastating stuff. Let's listen to what's left on this cut.

And at the moment - oh, there it is. OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in a tornado. We are in the tornado! In the tornado! We are in the tornado. We are in the tornado!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: So, everything coming off that roof, I guess Jackie would tell me, Chad would tell me -- everything coming off that roof is a projectile, right? Being tossed around, hurled across the air. What, 90 -- I don't know how fast, what the wind speeds are on this. But it is insane.

Chad, right, projectiles?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Sure. Projectile. Literally slicing thing apart. And if you were outside, you would be one of those things. Certainly the steel roof, metal roof flying around, and the winds were over 100 here. I believe we're going to find that this was probably greater than an F-1 tornado, something in the EF-2 range, wind speeds of 120 miles per hour.

So, doesn't matter if you get hit by a baseball at Nolan Ryan speed, hit boy a shingle at Nolan Ryan's speed, that's completely different.

HARRIS: That is -- wow. You want to get a sense of what it's like to be that close, maybe inside. There it is right there, from Eric Myers, an emergency management official in Navarro County, Texas.

Okay, more businesses are honing in on free advertising Internet- style. The vital tools, social media. Christine Romans looks at how small businesses are using word of mouth to expand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRSTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It doesn't get more local than this. A 30- minute photo shop in Irvine, California. Same store front since 1990. But this is an international enterprise now.

MITCH GOLDSTONE, CEO, SCANMYPHOTOS.COM: When I started, customer base was about three to five miles. Today it's worldwide. People find us online, through search engine, through twitter searches as well as Facebook.

ROMANS: Mitch Goldstone has tweeted some 32,000 messages. He has 10,600 follows on twitter where he broadcasts promotions and is constantly trying to make a name for his company, scan my photos. He doesn't just self promote, he shares links and product reviews and blends into a running conversation online about all things photo.

GOLDSTONE: If you're not into social media, social networking, you will be out business. I'm going to repeat that. You will be out of business if you don't tweet, use Facebook and social media today.

ROMANS: Smart small business owners are embracing and profiting from his free tool. Just ask Ido Leffler, co-founder of Beauth brand Yes To.

IDO LEFFLER, CEO, YES TO: Today you don't need to spend any money at all to set up a Facebook fan page; you don't need a huge marketing account to set up a twitter account. You need zero.

ROMANS: When an expensive print ad campaign fell flat, Leffler launched an online contest to find the face of the brand. It attracted 150,000 fans on Facebook, sales doubled in six months. The social media social butterflies learned to use these free tools to grow their business, but it's not easy. Experts say the trick is figuring out how to turn posts and tweets into dollars and cents.

It is great if you have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but how many of them are paying customers? The strategic piece small businesses overlook and the smart ones really focus on. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, there you go. Christine Romans joining us from New York. And, Christine, what is the biggest mistake these owners make? Is it not getting those followers to actually spend money in their stores or on their sites?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't take it seriously enough. Maybe they have a junior employee do it or they're not quite sure -- maybe they over share or maybe they just use it to promote. And that's not really the way to use it. You've got to share helpful links. You've got to have a voice, a consistent voice and join in the conversation online. Look, you could potentially be reaching people all over the world. It is word-of-mouth Internet style. And you -- my biggest piece of advice is, you've got to watch other people do it. Watch your competitors. Watch other small businesses.

And, you know, I just met Jack Dorsey (ph), who's the creator of Twitter. I just met him in the hallway, Tony, and I said to him --

HARRIS: Get out!

ROMANS: Yes, and I said to him, I said, look, my -- what I'm going to tell Tony and his audience is that you might not be able to see making money from it, you might not make money tomorrow going online and doing social media, but you'll notice that if you don't, you can't afford not to. And he said that's exactly right, you can't afford not to when everyone else is.

HARRIS: OK, let's see -- let's see your book -- that book that's flying off store shelves. There it is, "Smart Is The New Rich." Congratulations.

ROMANS: Got a whole chapter on this, Tony, thanks.

HARRIS: Yes, congratulations on your success with this.

ROMANS: Thank you.

HARRIS: Christine Romans out of New York for us. Good to you, Christine. Thanks.

ROMANS: You're welcome. Bye.

HARRIS: Still to come, a Rhode Island Democrat tells President Obama what he can to with his endorsement. Are we just free to say anything in our political discourse these days? Details in our political update.

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HARRIS: Eight days until Election Day. A Rhode Island Democrat makes a testy remark aimed at President Obama. John King, part of "The Best Political Team On Television," joining us now from Tampa, Florida. And there's a good reason for that. We'll talk about that in a second.

John, good to see you. What are you following? What's crossing right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, one of the things crossing is that controversial remark you just mentioned. Now, Tony Harris, if you had a disagreement with the president, you would be respectful in your language, right, because --

HARRIS: I would be.

KING: Out of respect for the office. The presidency of the United States, right? Of course you would.

Well, President Obama is in Rhode Island today. He's helping a House candidate there. He's raising money for some candidates there. But one thing he has not done is he has not endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor, Frank Caprio. That is because the independent candidate for governor, Lincoln Chafee, endorsed Barack Obama back in 2008. So a little payback from the president to the former Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee.

And Frank Caprio, the Democrat, is not happy about it. This is what he said on WPRO radio this morning. "He can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I'm concerned." The a Democrat speaking to not only the leader of his party, but to the commander in chief of the United States. An interesting day in Rhode Island for the Democrats.

Moving on to another subject, Tony. You know, a lot of states, more than 30 now, have early voting across the country. And both parties are looking and they're cherry-picking data. The Democrats saying, ah-ha, look here, we're doing great in the early voting. The Republicans saying, ah-ha, look over here, we're doing great in the early voting.

So we asked our polling director, Keating Holland, to look at the available data. Much of it comes in from the Associated Press, the places that are actually counting the votes. And what Keating says, number one, is he says, don't put too much stock in this because it's early voting and we only have a little bit, little snippets of data.

But in the states where we can count so far, he says it does appear that the Republicans are turning out people at a slightly higher percentage, that they have regular voters. So more evidence, Keating tell us, of an enthusiasm gap in favor of the Republicans in what little data we do have from early voting so far. So pay no attention to the spin out there.

And now, why is John King in Tampa, Florida, tonight, not at our cozy political desk in Washington, D.C.? Well, the candidates for Florida governor, Democrat Alex Sink, Republican Rick Scott, they debate right here tonight, Tony, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And unless you can get here quickly, I'm going to have to moderate that debate.

HARRIS: Yes, yes, I will love watching you moderate that debate. And what does the latest polling indicate in terms of where that race stands right now?

KING: It's a dead heat, that's why it's great to be here. It's a great privilege. This is such a big state. There are important issues here in the state. Nearly 12 percent unemployment. Rick Scott, the Republican, has said if he wins he'll bring -- try to propose an Arizona style immigration law here. That, you know, immigration is an issue. The economy is an issue. He says he doesn't like the Obama health care plan.

There are a number of big issues in this state. And, of course, this is always a big state when it comes to presidential politics, redistricting after the census.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

KING: A dead heat race right now. Eight days to go till the election. It's a privilege to be here to moderate that debate.

HARRIS: Boy, that's going to be terrific. Can't wait tonight. John King with us.

John, appreciate it. Thank you.

And, of course, your next political update at the top of the hour. And for the latest political news, you know where to go, it's CNNpolitics.com.

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HARRIS: Yes, it was really nice. All right, Jacqui Jeras is here. We are following "What's Hot." We know that you're -- here's why we do this, Jacqui. We know that folks are online right now. Apparently this is really primetime for folks being online and surfing the web. So we're just trying to tap into what they're doing.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, (INAUDIBLE).

HARRIS: That's what they're -- yes, that's what they're doing. So we're doing it, as well. And Jacqui is handling "What's Hot" for us for the next couple of -- what is this story here?

JERAS: This is the Google thing.

HARRIS: Yes, the Google things.

JERAS: Did you hear about this?

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

JERAS: Yes. A lot of people really not happy about this one. Well, it turns out that the Google streetview (ph) cars found out more about Internet users than just what their street looks like. Google apologized today, finally, saying that their streetcar views, you know, they roam the globe taking pictures, application based applications.

HARRIS: That's right.

JERAS: Well, they've also been grabbing things like people's e- mail addresses.

HARRIS: Exactly.

JERAS: Yes.

HARRIS: Pin numbers and that kind of information. Yes, yes, yes.

JERAS: Yes. That's all coming through their residential WiFi network.

HARRIS: Uh, OK. OK.

JERAS: Yes, privacy advocates are fuming, of course, but Google says that it never used the personal information that it gathered.

HARRIS: Yes. OK.

JERAS: Yes.

All right, this next one, I love this. Here's the picture --

HARRIS: Where did you find even a picture of this?

JERAS: I know. This is the picture I have in my head. Tony Harris in the eighth grade waiting for the bus with his backpack and his walkman on his head.

HARRIS: My goodness. Are you kidding me.

JERAS: You know you had one. Did you have one?

HARRIS: What is that, the '70s or something? The '80?

JERAS: That's a Walkman. That's a Walkman.

HARRIS: When were we using that? I can't even remember.

JERAS: Well, it's been here for 30 years, my friend.

HARRIS: Has it really?

JERAS: Yes, 30 years. Can you believe it? And so now they finally have retired this thing. Sony said it sent out the very last batch of the portable cassette player to Japanese retailers in April, ending a 30 year run. But, of course, we have iPods now. So a lot of people are saying, so what.

HARRIS: You can't even find the batteries for this thing. We don't have time for Gaga. That that was --

JERAS: Oh, it was AA. Yes, her new book is out. Just a bunch of the crazy pictures.

HARRIS: I love Gaga.

JERAS: You know she -- yes. You love her, you hate her.

HARRIS: Rock star.

We're back in a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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HARRIS: He has a hot show lined up for you right now. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Ali Velshi, the man from New York City.

Take it away, Doc.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: You have a great afternoon, my friend, Tony.

HARRIS: Thank you, sir.

VELSHI: Thanks very much.