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Back Room Dealing in Florida?; Treat for Halloween Retailers; Sarah Palin Hints At Presidential Run; The Case for Candy; Lady Gaga 101; Twitter the Wine

Aired October 29, 2010 - 07:59   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you all. It is Friday, October the 29th, a date significant for so many reasons. Good morning, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: It's Ali's birthday. Happy birthday, Ali.

VELSHI: Stop already. This is the third time you've done that.

CHETRY: Because we have three hours in the show. It's also, of course, Friday before Halloween so people in the spirit today and a lot of news to get you caught up on as well.

A bombshell in the campaign. Just four days from Election Day, former President Bill Clinton responding to reports that he tried to broker a deal in Florida to help keep Republicans from winning a Senate seat.

The Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek also spoke to us a short time ago. His side of the story about whether he was encouraged to throw the towel in and give Independent Charlie Crist a better chance.

VELSHI: And trouble brewing in the Atlantic. The 18th named storm of the hurricane season forms overnight setting sites on Bermuda. We are live with new details on the Tropical Storm Sherri's track.

CHETRY: Also, Halloween shaping up to be more of a treat for retailers this year. Our Christine Romans found out first hand why sales are up and sometimes significantly from last year.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American consumer is tired of sick and tired and spending some discretionary income on Halloween. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Yes. That seems to be, you know, what's going on because we are definitely busier than last year. They're tired of saving pennies.


CHETRY: Well, it's not just costumes that folks are spending on. We're going to find out what else is hot this holiday.

VELSHI: Up first, the final charge before election, just four days now until America votes and there's some major drama in Florida, like there isn't always major drama in Florida. Already, one of the most watched races in the country, a three-way Senate race and reports of a back room deal involving former President Bill Clinton.

CHETRY: Yes. A reported plan that would have the Democrat in the race Kendrick Meek step aside to throw his support behind Charlie Crist, the independent, in effort to beat the GOP front-runner and Tea Party-backed candidate Marco Rubio.

Now, this morning, President Clinton confirms that he spoke to his friend Kendrick Meek about dropping out, but a short time ago, Meek told us there was no deal, and suggested that someone else should step aside.


VELSHI: You had a discussion, you ran into Governor Crist the other day. Has that discussion taken place?

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: Governor Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommended to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race. This is before this week. As far as I'm concerned, I look at Governor Crist as being a conservative Republican, along with Marco Rubio.

I'm not playing politics. I'm not doing back room deals. I'm running for the United States Senate.


VELSHI: Last night, our Susan Candiotti caught up with former President Clinton. He was in Philadelphia and she tried to get his side of the story. President Clinton said he had spoken to Congressman Meek at least a couple of times about dropping out of the race.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To be clear, you said he brought it up. But did you -- whose idea was it first? Did you reach out to him first?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I don't think so. It was being -- I knew it was being discussed and there was a lot of it -- people discussed it on and off since Governor Crist got in the race. It was no secret. But he was finally -- he wanted to discuss it with me. So, we sat down and talked about it.


CHETRY: Well, there are questions this morning about it. What the White House also knew about the discussions.

VELSHI: Let's bring in Ed Henry. He is live for us at the White House, senior White House correspondent.

Ed, this has been developing and percolating all night and we spoke to Kendrick Meek a little while ago to get his side of the story. So, we seem to have Meek, Charlie Crist and Bill Clinton all on the record as to what happened. What did the White House know about this?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a senior Democratic Party official, Ali, told me that the White House was aware of this. They did not initiate any of these conversations. They were not pushing them along. But they were aware of them and they were very hopeful, and, in fact, believed that Kendrick Meek, on at least two occasions over the last week or so, had suggested to the former president that he was willing to drop out of this race, endorse Charlie Crist.

And the feeling here at the White House was if Crist was able to pull together a coalition of independents, as well as Democrats who had been backing Meek, he could win that race and then caucus with Democrats next year on Capitol Hill and maybe give them a seat they desperately need.

When you look at the big picture here, the White House is going to lose a whole lot of Senate seats. It's unclear whether they're going to lose a majority. They're going to lose several Senate seats, maybe going to lose the House. And so, every little bit helps.

But the bottom line is they say they weren't pushing. I think the most fascinating part when you take a step back is just how involved former President Bill Clinton is in this whole deal, specifically this race. But he's done more than 100 campaign events for this White House, trying to help Democrats all across the country.

It's not always worked. I mean, you will remember the Joe Sestak deal in Pennsylvania where Bill Clinton was involved there, in trying to get Sestak to step aside for Arlen Specter. It backfired on both Clinton and the White House. In this case, it also looks like now this deal is off.

And so, it may be the worse of both worlds for the Democrats because they look like they're involved in back room politics and at the end of the day, they didn't get anywhere because Meek is not getting out of the way, Ali, Kiran.

CHETRY: Right. No, but you're right. I mean, he has gone out there and stumped for candidates that maybe didn't want to appear as close to President Obama right now, yet they still needed some big- name support and Bill Clinton did step in there.

It's also interesting, though, about national Republicans now weighing in on this drama, as well, including GOP Chairman Michael Steele.

HENRY: Yes. I mean, I think what he said specifically -- I mean, it's, of course, expected that the RNC chairman will come out and try to say this is back room politics and it shows the Democrats are on the defensive.

But what he went on to say was that he thinks that there's race involved here, frankly. He said that if Republican leaders had pushed out an African-American candidate like Kendrick Meek, Democratic leaders would be howling and suggesting there were some sort of racism involved.

And this is a very sensitive subject. You've got the first African-American president. The White House is pretty clumsy last year when they tried to push out David Paterson, the African-American governor in New York because they didn't think he had a shot of winning re-election.

And so, the last thing they want to do right now is anger African-American voters who may be upset that Kendrick Meek was maybe being pushed ever so subtly or not so subtly, if you will, because African-American turnout is going to be critical for Meek in Florida, but also for Democrats in a lot of these other big races, California, Nevada, all kind -- all across the country.

So, they want to make sure they get big turnout from minority voters, Hispanic voters, as well, not just African-Americans. And if this back room politics backfires, that's yet another thing Democrats do not need right now.

CHETRY: Absolutely. All right. Ed Henry for us with some good perspective this morning from the White House -- thanks so much.

HENRY: Thank you.

CHETRY: Coming up in just eight minutes, what's really going on in the Florida Senate race. We're going to break it down when we're joined by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, as well as Toby Harnden. He is the U.S. editor of "The Daily Telegraph of London," wrote an interesting article about the dynamic between the former president and the current president when it comes to trying to help Democrats stay in charge this election cycle.

VELSHI: Yes. As you mentioned, some of the current candidates don't want President Obama involved, but they're happy to have Bill Clinton involved.

Hey, we're following developments in the recent shootings at military facilities outside Washington, D.C. The FBI now says ballistic tests confirm the same weapon was used in shootings this month at the Pentagon, the Marine museum and a Marine recruiting center. No one has been injured in any of these shootings, but three of them all tied together now.

CHETRY: Another black eye for BP. According to government investigators, the oil giant and one of its contractors, Halliburton, knew there was problems with the cement that they planned to use to reinforce the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, but they used it anyway. And that happened just hours before the rig exploded back in April, killing 11 people and triggering the worse oil spill in U.S. history.

VELSHI: NASA has embarked on ambitious new project called "100-Year Starship." The goal is to colonize Mars and any other planets out there that might be able to be inhabited by people.

CHETRY: That's all? They're just going to colonize Mars?

VELSHI: Yes, that's all there is to it.

Get this: there's no possibility of the astronauts involved in it ever returning to earth. The 100-Year Starship project has already raised $1.5 million. I can't imagine that's going to get them too far, though. They're going to need a little bit more than that. The ship ultimately carries a price of $10 billion -- billion.

CHETRY: You're telling me that they're going to go there and just -- that's it. See you later.

VELSHI: They need people to sign up for that. I'm not that interested.

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: I got like the whole concept of space travel, but --

CHETRY: Right, you'd like to come back.

VELSHI: -- I'm never coming back?

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: They got no fast food.

CHETRY: Look, there's low condo fees on Mars. See what I mean? You're going to great deals.

VELSHI: Property's cheap.


VELSHI: I'm just not -- I bet you there are people on Earth who would dig that sort of thing, though.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Rob Marciano is in the extreme weather center.

VELSHI: Is he one of them?

CHETRY: How amazing is that? You know, the whole notion that, I mean, literally we go where no one has gone before.

VELSHI: How amazing is that? We're going to put you on a ship to Mars and never see you again.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, listen, I have a few friends if they did that, that would be like going home. So --

CHETRY: I hear you.


MARCIANO: Good morning, guys. Hey, listen, Tropical Storm Shary, the fresh advisory. I can't believe we're still talking about hurricanes, although it is hurricane season through November. This season refuses to wind down.

Our 18th storm of the system formed overnight. It has winds of 40 miles an hour. And this is the latest advisories from the National Hurricane Center, about 220 miles now south-southwest of Bermuda.

It will affect Bermuda later on today, with tropical storm- force winds potentially. Certainly, some rough seas. But this time of year, it's just tough to get to the east coast from that trajectory. So, we're not worried about it.

We do have a little weak front that's rolling across Upstate New York right now. It will bring some showers, potentially into the metro areas, but I think not much more than a sprinkle or a spritz.

Here's your national forecast: much quieter now that the monster storm has wound down. Chilly, though, across the midsection and a little storm rolling into the West Coast for some rain in San Francisco after a dry game two.

Daytime highs do tend to recover quickly this time of year after a chilly night, 50s and 60s across the board. We'll talk more about that. Plus, your trick or treat forecast in about 30 minutes.

Ali and Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: We voted. We think you should definitely show your pictures. OK? Of your costume.

MARCIANO: Oh, yes.


MARCIANO: It's always a good -- it's always a good idea in this day of the Internet.

CHETRY: Sure is. We get out there somewhere somehow anyhow. Don't worry. Rob, thanks.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHETRY: Well, they're two down, two to go for the San Francisco Giants. They shut out the Rangers 9-0 and took game two in the World Series.

VELSHI: I think that's biased the way you read that.

CHETRY: What? That it's two to go?

VELSHI: Yes, two down, two to go. What if they don't win anymore games?

CHETRY: Well, it's two down, two to go if they want to win.

Look, I don't -- I don't have a horse in this race. I can't even see the games because I have Cablevision in New York. I have no idea what's going on. All I know is the Giants scored seven runs in the eighth inning. They blew the game wide open and the Giants are now halfway to what would be their first World Series title since they moved to San Francisco.

VELSHI: The Texas Rangers could actually come back -- I mean, they are two games down.

CHETRY: That's right. And come back game three tomorrow night.

VELSHI: Just saying. I'm not sure what your anti-Texas bias.

CHETRY: Oh, I'm not. No.

VELSHI: Yes? You're OK with that?

CHETRY: I was rooting for the Phillies just to keep peace on the home front. So, you know, either way.

VELSHI: I hear you.

CHETRY: Congrats.

VELSHI: Game three tomorrow night, Arlington, Texas. Rob says the weather will be very nice for that.

Treat or trick time, Halloween. This is the last AMERICAN MORNING before Halloween. Apparently, the candy is not as bad --

CHETRY: Come on. Let's hear it.

VELSHI: -- as you've been led to believe. And we're going to talk to somebody who says candy, it's a bad wrap compared to things like Gatorade or, you know, other stuff like that, because what it is, is when you got candy --

CHETRY: You know it's candy. You know it's sugar.

VELSHI: Right. I mean, if you want to eat four bags of this stuff, knock yourself out. But you might eat other things that you think are healthier for you. So, we're going to have confessions from a candy-oholic -- coming up.

CHETRY: Sounds good, right?

VELSHI: It's just an excuse to eat some candy.

CHETRY: We're also setting the record straight here. Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek responding to reports that former President Clinton did try to broker a deal that would have the Democratic senator dropping out of the race to give a better shot to the independent candidate.

Coming up next: Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Toby Harnden, the U.S. editor of "The Daily Telegraph of London" join us live.

It's --

VELSHI: It is 10 minutes after the hour. We are coming right back with a look at this weather.


VELSHI: Thirteen and a half minutes past the hour right now.

He says he's in it to win it. Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek insisting this morning that he is not withdrawing from the race this morning. We spoke to him just a couple of hours ago here on AMERICAN MORNING. And he's denying reports that former President Bill Clinton tried to convince him to step aside and to throw his support behind independent Charlie Crist in order to defeat GOP frontrunner Marco Rubio in the state of Florida for the Senate seat.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Meek told us that dropping out is just not his style. Let's listen.


REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: We talked about the fact he saw some reports the week before, of course, that the Crist campaign was pushing that I was going to get out of the race and I said, that's not the case. And, we talked about it. And I said, you know, I'm not going to sell out on the people of the state of Florida. Not that he was asking me to do so. He never asked me to get out of the race. I never told him that I was getting out of the race.


CHETRY: Joining us to sort this all out this morning, we have CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile with us.

Hey, Donna.


CHETRY: And also, Toby Harnden, the U.S. editor of "The Daily Telegraph of London," live from Washington.

Thanks for being here as well, Toby.


CHETRY: Donna, let me start with this -- your reaction to all of this. I mean, the stories are obviously a little bit different. But the general theme seems to be clear that, you know, there is a little bit of pressure on Meek to perhaps call it a day, to give Crist a better chance.

BRAZILE: Well, I thought Representative Kendrick Meek really responded well last night, as well as this morning that he's in the race. Perhaps, someone did try to tell him after the Democratic primary that he won that it would be better if he sat aside and moved on the sideline and allowed Charlie Crist to go after t Democratic votes. But you know, we're in a democracy. I think the voters should decide, and I'm glad he stayed on the race. He's a great politician, a wonderful person, a former state trooper, an excellent proven leader. Let the voters decide in the state of Florida.

It's sipping from the same straw. There's no question from it. Trying to get people in Florida to support their candidacies, but at the end of the day, Kendrick Meek will stay in the race, and I do believe that he'll do better than expectation.

CHETRY: Toby, it's interesting that when you take a look, though, at the influence of the former president, President Bill Clinton, despite, you know, what may or may not end up happening with this race, he was certainly involved in the candidate (ph). They admitted that he talked twice with Meek about possibly ending his bid for Senate saying it's ultimately up to him, but how big of an influence is former President Clinton for Democrats?

TOBY HARNDEN, U.S. EDITOR, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH OF LONDON: Oh, I think he's a huge influence in this election. I saw him a couple of weeks ago in Espanola, New Mexico, and he was at 80 events then. He's now done more than 100 events. He was -- he's clearly supporting -- he's very openly saying that he's supporting as a thank you many of the people that backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election.

But he's actually going wider than that. He's supporting people that didn't support Hillary. I think he's being a good Democrat, and I think, you know, he's also -- he's got an eye back on 2008 and what happened then with Hillary's campaign, and I think possibly an eye to the future with presidential ambitions maybe in 2016 for Hillary.

CHETRY: That's interesting. We'll get to that in a second. I just want to finish asking, Donna, really quickly about what you said that Meek is a good candidate, and he very well may be a good guy and a good candidate. When you look at the polling, it doesn't look like he has a shot. Rubio is at 46, Crist is at 32, and Meek is at 20.

We also have an even newer poll today that shows him down even more than that. That possibly he's only polling at about 15 percent to 18 percent. So, isn't it in the best interest of the Democrats if they can somehow prevent Rubio from getting the Senate seat in Florida?

BRAZILE: You know, you're talking to a former campaign manager, a person who's got out there every year no matter if the polls say you're up or the polls say you're down. You go out there everyday, and you try to persuade voters. I would encourage Kendrick Meek not to drop out. We don't know what else might drop out of the newspapers or the headlines or the closet over the next couple of days.

So, Kendrick Meek, stay in there. Fight and get grab all the votes that you possibly can. One other side story is that during the 2008 presidential campaign season, Kendrick Meek often traveled with former President Bill Clinton. They are very close friends. And I would not be surprised if the two of them had a conversation about the state of the race.

I thought Bill Clinton is one of the best politicians in United States of America. He's a great closer. He knows how to rally Democrats, independents, and Republicans. And I'm glad he's out there campaigning for Democrats across the country because he is really shown a lot of great knowledge about this economy, the things that people care about. Bread and butter issues.

So Bill Clinton, if you're listening to me this morning. Can you get on a plane and go to a couple more states because we need you out there in the closing days of the campaign.

CHETRY: I hope he's listening to you as well because that means he's watching us. But Toby, she brought up something interesting. He's a great closer, the former president. In some cases, he's being embraced by candidates that maybe don't want to necessarily be seen with President Obama right now because of the unpopularity of the administration among some Democratic circles, but in your article, it was interesting. You said that the Clintons quote "Smell Obama's blood in the water right now and who can blame them?" What do you mean by that?

HARNDEN: Well, I think, you're absolutely right. I think that Bill Clinton can reach places in the United States at the moment that Barack Obama can't, and he can connect in a way with voters that Barack Obama can't. And I think, you know, that's a very powerful thing for Bill Clinton and for the Democrats. In terms of the future, I mean, the Clintons and I think politically, you absolutely have to see them as one entity all the time.

I think in 2008, Hillary and Bill very firmly believed that she was the right person to be president and that she would have been the best president. I see no evidence that they've changed their minds. I think that they would -- if you look back at some of the statements of 2008 about Barack Obama, that they would feel vindicated, and clearly, in the last two years, the political sands have shifted away from Barack Obama, and he's politically weakened. We'll see how weakened he is in -- on Tuesday.

CHETRY: Go ahead. I want to give Donna the last word on that. What's your take? Do you agree with Toby?

BRAZILE: look, look. This is all good internal gossip and drama. The truth is that Bill Clinton has been a strong adviser and supporter of President Obama. He went out there and campaigned at the end of a very, very tough primary season. He helped President Obama. But let me tell you, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she is firmly on the team. She is really working hard on behalf of the United States of America. So, I think these are great rumors to talk about next week, but right now, Democrats are trying to close the deal. One last thing, to Chairman Michael Steele and dealing with this whole issue of race, let me just tell you. There are 68 African-Americans -- I'm sorry. 61 African-Americans running for federal office. 61. 48 are Democrats. 13 are Republicans. Do the math.

CHETRY: All right. Donna Brazile, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Toby Harnden, great to get your point of view this morning, as well. Appreciate it both of you.

HARNDEN: Thank you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

CHETRY: Well, four days to go now before America votes. Make sure to join the best political team on TV all next week. We'll be on early Monday and Tuesday 5:00 a.m. three hours early. We're going at 3:00 a.m. eastern the morning after the election -- Ali.

VELSHI: Kiran, thank you.

And we got the Halloween spirit because I certainly do, as you can tell. It is back. And after a few scary years, the holiday is doing monster business, especially when it comes to costumes. Christine Romans coming up next.


CHETRY: Old school Will Smith, right? Do you remember that?

VELSHI: Completely. That's right. That's when he was the fresh prince.

CHETRY: The fresh prince of Bel Air.

VELSHI: OK. This is definitely one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. It's much more profitable than most people think, but it's even more so now.


VELSHI: This year is a really big year for Halloween. Why?

ROMANS: That's right. And National Retail Federation says more people dress up for Halloween this year than many times since 2005. 2005, the whole world was on fire, right, in a good way.

VELSHI: Right. Right.

ROMANS: It's not on fire in a bad way like 2008. So, they're thinking more people are going to dress up, and the sales are going to be up 17 percent.

VELSHI: Wow. ROMANS: You think it must be because there's an easy escape valve.

VELSHI: I think an escape valve. I think you can spend $25 or 50 bucks on Halloween and you don't have to explain to somebody that you're being, you know, you're consuming too much. It just feels nice after being --

ROMANS: Well, I want you to listen to this piece that we're going to roll the tape here in a second because what do Lady Gaga, Situation and the Founding Fathers all have in common? Watch.


ROMANS (voice-over): They're spooky, gory and just plain tasteless.

And after a couple of scary years, the business of Halloween is back.

So-called experts say, the American consumer is tired of being sick and tired and that they're going to go out and spend some discretionary income on Halloween. What do you think?

ROBERT PINZONE, OWNER, ABRACADABRA: Yes. That seems to be, you know, what's going on because we are definitely busier than last year. They're tired of, you know, saving pennies. So, I guess, they're here. They want to spend some money.

ROMANS: They're spending money on the usual suspects, vampires, pirates and superheroes, but a growing number want to party like it's 1773.

ROMANS (on-camera): Halloween websites and many retailers say there's a resurgence in demand for colonial costumes. They think it's because election year, patriotism, and the tea party.

ROMANS (voice-over): Powdered wig sales are up 70 percent. Tricorn hats, shoe buckles and colonial socks, all up 60 percent. And Uncle Sam outperforming himself from last year by 138 percent.

DANIEL HEIGHT, BUYCOSTUMES.COM: Colonial sales are up even more so than all of the other kinds of costume that we sell. So, we're seeing probably year over sales of colonial, and that's about 50 percent to 60 percent higher than a year ago.

ROMANS: Business also expected to be brisk at the roughly 2,500 haunted houses this year. At this Pennsylvania family farm, the haunted house and hayride have become the main attraction. Halloween has saved the Araspha family farm.

RANDY BATES, ARASPHA FARM: The farm would never produce enough money to provide for a family income.

ROMANS: Now, they expect about 60,000 visitors this fall.

BATES: Our annual gross is right around a million dollars.

ROMANS: Whether it's a hayride or Snooky's hair or a powdered wig, frugal appears to have given way to frightful, at least for now.


ROMANS (on-camera): The fact that it's a weekend also helps, but a lot of pop culture references are going to be seen when you go to the trick or treating or to a party. You're going to see a lot of Lady Gaga. You can see a lot of the situation --

VELSHI: We have Pete here. Our floor director dressed as the situation.

CHETRY: He's calling himself the future situation. This is what happens after 20 years of GTL.

VELSHI: Gym, tan and laundry.

CHETRY: And right behind Christine over here, we also have Jessica, our --

VELSHI: Come on, Jessica.


VELSHI: Can't see her. There were go. Yes. She's Snookie.

ROMANS: Please don't be hating, she says. Love it.

CHETRY: And she got the glasses.

ROMANS: I saw a lot of Snookie wigs, and then the powdered wig.

VELSHI: Yes, this seems to be a size or two to a small for me. What did you say?

CHETRY: Shockingly, yes.

VELSHI: Right. My melon's a little bigger than most people.

ROMANS: I love it. What you can't see is you can't see all these hair pins in it. And you're joking that of all people, Ali doesn't need the hair pins.

VELSHI: Yes. There you go.

ROMANS: I think it's interesting that Uncle Sam up 138 percent from last year. Powdered wigs --

VELSHI: You think this is because people are tea party supporters or they're mocking tea party supporters or just we talk a lot about the tea party?

ROMANS: Unclear or is it just because it's patriotism. It's a midterm election year. It's just resurgence of patriotism. No one knows.

VELSHI: Very interesting.

CHETRY: Either way, Halloween's back in.

VELSHI: All right.

CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

VELSHI: "Minding Your Business."

CHETRY: And next time you go to the airport, get ready. There are new airport security procedures. You probably don't want to come with one of these, and you'll definitely get called out for extra screening.

VELSHI: But don't stuff the candy in your armpits side because they're getting a lot more personal that you're used to. We'll have a live report next.

CHETRY: Twenty-eight minutes past the hour.


VELSHI: It is 8:30 on the East, and it is time for this morning's top stories.

Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek denies reports that former president Bill Clinton tried to convince him to drop out of the race. We spoke to Meek a short time ago. He insists that he is in the race to win it.


KENDRICK MEEK, (D) FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: I just told you that president Clinton and I had talked about it. Yes, we did. He didn't say, hey, listen, this is my recommendation to you. That is not his place.

The bottom line is he asked me about reports of last week and week before. Once I won the Democratic primary, I must add, by 26 points which I was down 10 points prior to Election Day, the Crist campaign started their mantra of trying to lock me out of this race.

Let me just say this -- the people of the state of Florida deserves a right to vote for the candidate of their choice.


VELSHI: Our latest polling shows Congressman Meek in a distant third, 26 points behind this man, Marco Rubio. Rubio has a comfortable 14-point lead over Governor Crist.

CHETRY: President Obama may be considering opposition to same- sex marriage. Earlier this week he told a group of liberal bloggers, quote, "Attitudes evolve, including mine." A White House spokesman said he is discussing the issue with colleagues and coworkers who share their stories about being singled out for being different, and he's, quote, "internalizing their plight."

VELSHI: Sarah Palin setting the stage for a possible run for president in 2012, in case you haven't thought by now she is doing that. The former Alaska governor appeared on "Entertainment Tonight" last night. She insists she's not made up her mind but cracked the door open a little bit further.


SARAH PALIN, (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I have not decided what I'm going to do in 2012. I don't think any of the potential candidates have. I think that's still it is too early for anybody to get out there declaring what their intentions are. If there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do.


VELSHI: Palin was asked how it feels to be one of the most polarizing figures in America today. Her response - "perplexing."

CHETRY: Airport screeners are about to get more, I guess you could say up close and personal with passengers. The TSA begins fazing in the enhanced pat down procedures at airports across the country.

VELSHI: Aggressive -- critics are calling it aggressive. They're saying the searches are more invasive, allowing contact with body parts previously off limits. Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve is live at Reagan National Airport with more on this. Hi, Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ali and Kiran. Probably the best way to talk about this is to tell you the story of Rosemary Fitzpatrick who said she was humiliated by this experience. She is a CNN employee.

Also she was traveling out of Orlando on Wednesday night when her underwire bra set off a metal detector. They didn't have advanced imaging technology so the screeners told her she says that she had to go through the new enhanced pat down.

What it involves, she said, was having a female screener feel around her breast area and then put her hands down, running a hand across the stomach, her buttocks, up her inner thigh and even briefly touching her crotch. She said the whole process reduced her to tears.


ROSEMARY FITZPATRICK, FLIER: The thought of having my parents who are their 70s be subject to this type of behavior and screening is appalling to me. Even children who are traveling alone, I can't imagine children having to be put through this type of a process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MESERVE: Now, the Transportation Security Administration says that this is all about aviation security. They issued a statement saying "pat downs are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives."

You will remember the Christmas day bomber. He had hidden the bomb he was carrying in his underwear. It is possible that a more enhanced pat down like the ones they'll be doing could have detected something like that. Kiran and Ali, back to you.

CHETRY: And so everybody that goes to the airports, should they expect that that could potentially happen to them or who may be selected for this enhanced pat down?

MESERVE: It will not happen to everybody. The TSA says a relatively small percentage of passengers will have this done. They fall into certain categories. Pat downs will be done on people who refuse to go through the advanced imaging technology machines, the body screeners.

Also, undergoing pat downs will be people who have gone through those body scanners and anomalies found. Also, in instances where the metal detectors have gone off and they have to figure out why. Also, people who are picked for random screening.

TSA says the pat downs will always be done by screeners of the same sex, and if a passenger requests it, they will be done in a private screening area. In fact, Rosemary Fitzpatrick had hers done by female screeners in a private area and even that wasn't enough to make her feel comfortable.

VELSHI: If you're selected for that, you can't say I want to go through the machine? If they select you for this enhanced pat down, you have to do it?

MESERVE: No. I mean, I think that if there is a screening machine at your checkpoint, and they aren't at all check points, you have the option of going through that machine. But if the machine finds something and they have to figure out what it is, then you go through the pat down.

This young woman said I was willing to take off the bra that set off the metal detector and come back through the screening area again. What she was told, no. Once you're in screening, you are in screening. That was simply not an option for her. She had to undergo that pat down.

VELSHI: Jeanne, thanks very much.

MESERVE: You bet.

CHETRY: So up next, a real treat.

VELSHI: This is Halloween theme thing?

CHETRY: Yes, Halloween candy. We all love it. Parents sometimes get worried about kids eating too much. Our next guest said, hey, candy's not all that bad for you. It is just misunderstood.

It's 37 minutes after the hour.


VELSHI: OK. When I used to go trick or treating, I would get raisins, healthy snacks.

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: I would try to cross them off the list for next year. In just two days, kids trick or treating. When it's all said and done, Sunday night, millions of parents are tempted and seduced by the lure of Snickers.

CHETRY: That's right. It is Halloween, and it's probably just as much about the candy as the costumes, especially for the kids. So the nutrition police are going to be pushing the snacks like the raisons and the granola bars. But at least one food writer and self- proclaimed candy-holic says, you know what, candy gets a bad rap.

VELSHI: Corby Kummer of "The Atlantic" magazine is here with us this morning to make the case for candy. Best excuse to have candy on set I have had in years. Welcome.


VELSHI: You like candy. What is your thesis about this?

KUMMER: My thesis about candy is what you see in front of you is what you get. In other words, if you're worried about a lot of sugar, worry about it in sugary sodas or where you can't see. If you see it in front of you and all I can do not to get my hands on your candy.

CHETRY: We have your favorite, Charleston Chew. Here is a couple to tide you over.

KUMMER: As a snobby food writer, I love is that there are still regional American candies. It's still one of the great old-fashioned Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory things. There are these old machines. They're still using them.

CHETRY: Right.

KUMMER: There are these inventions. I live in Boston. This is a New England thing. I gather you didn't hear of it before.

CHETRY: What about the Be-Be bats? I called them the filling removers. They were bats. Bite on them. As a parent I realize this is really bad for the teeth. What can I say? And then jelly bellies, but only the sour ones. I don't have a coffee bean one.

KUMMER: There's something magical and children's book fairytale about it. I don't think we should take it away from the children and the regional brands that still survive, because even slow food people like myself believe in American regionalism. Here's a bit of an American regionalism we can all celebrate on Halloween.

CHETRY: You do talk about when you talk about the transparency of it, most parents cringe at the thought of kids munching on this.

VELSHI: Working and eating candy.

CHETRY: Yet they maybe say, hey, go to Java Juice and get a smoothie. There's 126 grams of sugar in a power-sized smoothies. Or granola, for example, extremely high in fat and sugar, but it's thought to be health.

VELSHI: We didn't have moms like her when I was a kid. My mom didn't say don't have the bran muffin. There's too much sugar and fat in that, but there are.

KUMMER: The bran muffin is often the more caloric thing on the entire breakfast menu. I think we should give a break to these things. Much lower in fat and it's the things you don't see that you need to worry about. It's the hidden sodium. It is not the salt on the table. It's all of the salt the manufacturers are putting into our food. The same thing with sugar in drinks.

This you know what you're getting. The moms know what the kids are getting. They know when to say enough is enough. They see it right in front of them.

VELSHI: No self-respecting mom encouraging a regular candy diet. He's looking at me like, why not?

CHETRY: Are you on a regular candy diet, by the way?

KUMMER: Candy is a very large part of my diet. It's not that I advocate --

CHETRY: You are trim.

KUMMER: Well, I think it's often fat that makes you heavy and not particularly sugar. I say that because I love sugar and not going to stop eating it.


VELSHI: You're not paid by the sugar industry.

KUMMER: Oh my goodness I'm not.

VELSHI: They would love this. Let me tell you.

KUMMER: I believe in old fashioned cane sugar. I have to say, old fashioned wonderful artisan ingredients are not in the candy of Halloween. I did a piece of improved wafers. That's another regional New England thing. They're putting natural flavors. And, you know, they took out all of the artificial ingredients recently. That was great.

But you would there's an artisan candy movement --

VELSHI: Right, like cheese and like meats and you know.

KUMMER: And also with mothers worried about their children, you would think this is a big thing.

VELSHI: Right.

CHETRY: Right.

KUMMER: It's not. And part of it is you've been to a factory where you see the magical old candy machine.

CHETRY: Yes, the Jelly Belly factory. It's pretty cool.

KUMMER: It's too hard to retro fit them to use --


KUMMER: Cute, old-fashioned ingredients. You have to use kind of corn syrup and the things that make manufacturing possible. So a little of it fine; I say, it's ok.

CHETRY: I have to take issue, though when you said, it's not the fat, or the sugar is fine, it's just the fat. I want you to come to my house about an hour after the kids come back from trick or treating. And you can babysit my two-and-a-half year old.

KUMMER: And come about --

VELSHI: Until they crash.

CHETRY: Yes, when they are in the throes of their sugar high and then we'll see what you think about sugar.


VELSHI: It's great to see you. By the way, we could have just kept on going and you could just kept naming candies. We probably got them in these bags. Our producers did a great job.


KUMMER: -- grateful things and this is going to provide an early Halloween for the whole crew, I hope.

CHETRY: Yes, they're thrilled.

VELSHI: Absolutely. Absolutely.

CHETRY: Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

KUMMER: Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: Corby Kummer, a food writer with "The Atlantic." It's great to see you this morning.

KUMMER: It's great to be here.

VELSHI: All right. Finally it feels a little bit like fall outside as cooler air moves across the east. Plus a new tropical storm has formed overnight. Rob Marciano coming up next with the latest on that.


VELSHI: I'm -- I'm going to make it a habit to be here on AMERICAN MORNING every year on my birthday. Because I got more birthday wishes before 7:00 in the morning --

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: -- because somehow you kept on mentioning it. I'm -- you know, just to be around the corner without any prompting for me.

CHETRY: Hey your birthday had an international forum.

VELSHI: Yes. I really liked it thank you.

CHETRY: I hope you enjoyed it.

VELSHI: I am enjoying it.

CHETRY: It's all downhill from here.

VELSHI: That and then we just talked about candy for ten minutes and ate while we were talking. It's a good show.

CHETRY: Rob Marciano is in the Weather Center this morning. We're also talking about what it's going to be like for the weekend, especially with your little trick or treaters out there. Hey, Rob.


Yes, let's talk about the trick or treat forecast for Sunday evening. A lot of clear sky and I don't think we're going to see a major rainstorm or maybe the northwest might see some action. But generally speaking, it really couldn't be better. It'll be chilly obviously to the north, a little bit warmer to the south and flying pumpkins just about everywhere.

Tropical storm Shary formed overnight, 40-mile an hour winds right now. The 18th storm of the season this is going to affect Bermuda later on today. And here's the forecast track. We just can't get these things to the East Coast this time of the year. Strong jet stream, cool water has no chance. So it's going to re-curve out to sea but there are two other disturbances out there, one of which actually may -- may take a stab at us. But we've got several days if not a couple of weeks to deal with that.

Boston, New York, Philly, we're looking at this little weak front which will reinforce you're cool air maybe a sprinkle today. That's about it.

Speaking of cool air, frost and freeze advisories and warnings across the mid-section of the country and this will -- this will probably be in effect later on tonight and tomorrow morning, again, as the cold air really begins to sink in.

San Francisco, a little bit of rain after a dry game two yesterday. Rebounding nicely, 60 degrees in St. Louis today and 57 degrees in New York and 74 degrees in Denver and 64 degrees in Salt Lake.

Speaking of Utah, here's how they celebrate Halloween out west. In the Wasatch, you've got to get through the snow. You got to knock on the tram door and ask for your treats.

Oh, come on. All right. Yes, a little selfless promotion ski, trying to get folks fired up. Snow angels by skeletons? That will get you in the mood. Happy birthday, Ali and may all the flying pumpkin bless you.

VELSHI: Oh thank you very much, Rob. I -- I do appreciate that.

CHETRY: No accident you're born right around Halloween.

VELSHI: No, not none whatsoever.

MARCIANO: Exactly.

VELSHI: And there's been a costume since day one.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHETRY: You hear about the -- you don't want to say it? You want to hear about Twitter's newest launch?


CHETRY: Their always into something.


CHETRY: And it's not enough to take control of the 140-character conversations of people around the world. Now they're making wine. That's right. Just don't drink and tweet. We'll tell you about it coming up.


CHETRY: Back by popular demand. Oh, no we have to go to one more shot.

VELSHI: Come on. Leave me alone.

CHETRY: Back by popular demand. It is our very own AMERICAN MORNING'S Uncle Fester. He does it once a year. That's Pete the floor manager.

VELSHI: Most of the time he's got a foul mouth but on Halloween he's got an electric mouth.

All right, my little monsters.

CHETRY: Ok, Gaga.

VELSHI: It is probably the coolest class on campus next spring at the University of South Carolina, Lady Gaga 101. I don't know what they're calling it but that's kind of what it is.

Students are going to study the pop queen and her -- specifically her rapid rise focusing on the social conditions that helped make Lady Gaga so famous so fast.

The sociology professor behind it should know. He claims he's been to 29 Lady Gaga concerts. What do you think of that?

CHETRY: I'm just laughing. You know, we had Econ 101, Chemistry, you know.

VELSHI: You know the odd courses that you could take that you knew were not sort of going to be formative to your entire education but they touched on popular culture? This is unique because she's so new. She's not Michael Jackson.

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: Or Madonna. She's so new and that successful and that big. I'm not convinced that it's sustainable.


CHETRY: No, Ali's prediction is yes. You're thinking five years she'll be in the Vanilla Ice category?

VELSHI: I used the word "flash in the pan". But again, I also thought Google was overpriced at $75. I don't get it all right.

CHETRY: Yes, you're a veritable genius.

CHETRY: Well, there is now a new thing out there with Twitter. Ok. You know, of course, that Twitter is huge in terms of social networking. Well, now they're dabbling into wine. They're selling their own brand of wine called Fledgling. It is a chardonnay. There's a pinot noir so far. Five bucks from each $25 bottle -- ok, I thought for a minute that was five bucks a bottle. That would have been great.

VELSHI: Why would I buy a $25 bottle of wine from Twitter? What's the association there?

CHETRR: Well, see this $5 goes towards raising literacy rates in developing nations. Ali, don't you care about that?

VELSHI: I would sooner just give $5 to raising literacy rates in developing nations.

CHETRY: There's no character limit but you might want to set your own limit. Tipping a glass while you tweet could sometimes as you know be a recipe for --

VELSHI: I don't feel the connection. I don't feel like Twitter's got this brand that makes me feel like they must make great wine.

CHETRY: yes.

VELSHI: They want to sell me a phone or something, I don't know. It's weird to me.

CHETRY: Well, or GPS. We are just giving them ideas. They don't need any more ideas. They're rich.

It's three minutes until the top of the hour. We'll be right back.


CHETRY: All right. Welcome back. We had to get all the folks that are dressed up for Halloween back in order. We are sweating this morning.

VELSHI: Yes, we have a lot -- we have a good spirit on the show. A whole bunch of people dressing up for Halloween; here's our Halloween parade. Check this out.

CHETRY: Yes. Let's check them out. Ready. Let's check out everybody.

We have -- we have Snooki. We have a beautiful woman from "Mad Men" -- that's Regina. There we have Lexy, she is Elle Woods. Love it. All right. Keep going.

VELSHI: Here's Snooki again.

CHETRY: Snooki again. She's so -- we liked it so much we showed it twice.

CHETRY: A-ha. "Mad Men".

VELSHI: "Mad Men" excellent.

CHETRY: We love it.

VELSHI: Chilean mine rescuer.

CHETRY: There's Ryan. He has a chilli --

VELSHI: There's a chilli on his -- got that?

CHETRY: The lovely Naila (ph) is being FLOTUS -- the first lady of the United States. Don't you look beautiful this morning? VELSHI: There's the Barack Obama bobble-head.

CHETRY: I wonder if Michelle actually carries that around.

And now we have two "Situation" -- we have Pauly D. and the Situation 20 years later. Lots of GTL in their future.

VELSHI: The future Situation. Don't say we don't ask here on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: We sure do.

VELSHI: It's been such a fun day to spend with you. Good kick off to my birthday.

CHETRY: Happy birthday.

VELSHI: Thank you. Great to see you.

CHETRY: Glad that you spent it with us.

VELSHI: Let's do this again.

CHETRY: We sure will.

Meanwhile, the news continues right now. We're going to send it down to Atlanta -- Suzanne Malveaux joins us for "CNN NEWSROOM". What do you think Suzanne -- not to shabby?