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AMERICAN MORNING

Gingrich Cursed Out on Campaign Trail; Interview with Bob Vander Plaats; Two Earth-Size Planets Discovered; Ads Coming To Facebook News Feed; White House Pressures House to Vote on Senate Bill Extending Payroll Tax Cut; Couple Kicked off Airplane for Having Too Many Children; 106-Year-Old Man Still Works on Wall Street; Interview with Bill Clinton; Deliveries Gone Wild

Aired December 21, 2011 - 07:59   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. Blinding snow, sheets of ice, 10-foot-high snow drifts, a winter storm leaving behind a holiday travel nightmare and more snow is on the way.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Ali Velshi. And this guy is not a fan of Newt. A voter curses out the GOP frontrunner as he feels more pressure in the polls -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: All right, good morning, everyone. Wednesday, December 21st. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING.

VELSHI: The day before the first day of winter.

ROMANS: I know you started a Twitter war when you said it was a first day of winter.

VELSHI: Yesterday I made a joke about Stonehenge, and I got all the droids mad at me. And today, the winter people or solstice people are mad at me.

ROMANS: Maybe it's connected.

VELSHI: There you go.

All right, we do have some, whatever you think winter starts, we got some winter weather. Forecasters are warning that preholiday travel may be close to impossible in many areas this morning. A deadly and blinding winter storm is winding its way through the Midwest. The storm left a sheet of ice and two feet of snow in some areas from New Mexico through the Oklahoma panhandle and into Kansas. Highways are closed. Cars are stranded across five states.

The National Weather Service is warning drivers to use extreme caution as crews are continuing to work to keep those roads clear.

ROMANS: The travel nightmare lingering. Here's a look at the map. Winter storm warnings are propping up again today as another storm moves in. Rob Marciano is in the weather center.

So, the good news is the bad weather moved out. The bad news is more bad weather coming up on its heels.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And for the same people. The other side of that, the good news is, is that most of the East Coast, at least for this storm, will be on the warm side.

Here's a look at the snow totals. You saw that video, dramatic stuff. Two and three-foot snow drifts, closing down some of those interstates and highways, some of which are still closed this morning. Victoria, Kansas, 14 inches. Now, in New Mexico, the day before, we had two feet of snow in some spots, that coupled with 70-plus-mile-an- hour winds. This one was certainly for the record books.

We got another one coming on the pike. It's not quite as bad, but it will cause more snow across parts of the northern Rockies. This will drive down into Denver, as well. Winter storm warnings posted there and winter storm warnings posted for New Mexico, which just got clobbered with this last system.

All right. The blizzard of yesterday is now the heat pump of today and will be driving up some warmth from the South across much of the eastern third of the country. Here's where the rain is moving into New York, D.C., Cincinnati, up through Cleveland.

There are some pockets across the Northeast where temperatures are right at or below the freezing mark to start the day. So, there will be some slick spots this morning if you're doing some travel. But temperatures on the way up as we go through time.

This storm makes a quick jaunt toward the Canadian maritime, slightly cool air behind it, but it's not really going to change much over to snow. The next system coming up will have a better chance of mixing in with wintry precip. Across extreme northern parts of Upstate New York and northern parts of New England come Thursday night into Friday morning and then maybe a little flurry or two Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in some spots. But we don't expect to see a white Christmas for a lot of people.

New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta and D.C., you'll se some delays because of the rain and low clouds. We have some fog issues this morning across Chicago and the lower hand of Michigan. Forty-five degrees in Chicago, 58 degrees in New York. Certainly doesn't feel like winter, which officially arrives tonight at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

VELSHI: We're all clear on that now. Yes, I walked out of the apartment this morning fully expecting that I would be very cold and it was actually -- it was nice and warm here.

Hey, Rob, how is that winter -- white Christmas map coming along?

MARCIANO: All my little elves are seriously working on that.

VELSHI: All right. Thank you. I appreciate that. Nice to see, my friend.

ROMANS: Thanks, Rob.

VELSHI: Rob is off tomorrow, but I think we'll have a white Christmas map.

ROMANS: You think he'll do that before he goes home on vacation?

VELSHI: No.

All right. New developments out of North Korea this morning. Reports of the new leader Kim Jong Un will share power with his uncle and the military. It's a bit of a development from what we thought yesterday. This is according to "Reuters." The country will shift to collective rule from a dictatorship.

Kim Jong Un is the son and successor of Kim Jong Il, who died on Sunday. The family has ruled North Korea since it was founded after World War II.

ROMANS: Also developing this morning, former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's son has been seen for the first time since he was captured 33 days ago while trying to flee Libya. Human rights watch says Saif Gadhafi is being held in isolation but is in good, physical condition.

VELSHI: Well, it's tough being on top, just ask Newt Gingrich. He's watch his lead evaporate in the past week. And on the campaign trail in Iowa, in a town called Mt. Pleasant, of all things, a guy cursed him out on camera.

Jim Acosta has been following this. He's live in Washington with us.

What's going on here, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, that kind of week for Newt Gingrich. He's been under attack by the other candidates in the field. There are all of these super PAC-funded attack ads that are aimed at the former speaker.

And then at a grocery store, as you put it in Mt. Pleasant yesterday, a voter walked up to Newt Gingrich and said something that began with the letter F, it was not Feliz Navidad and you could say politically speaking in this grocery store, it was a clean up on aisle four.

Here's what this voter had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM SORNES, CURSED GINGRICH AT A CAMPAIGN STOP: You know something? You're a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Yes. Well, it's honest.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Luckily, it's a free country and that's your opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And our political producer Shawna Shepherd who was on the scene went up to that voter and asked him, what was that all about? Here's what the voter had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SORNES: Because he's a liar and a cheat and a hypocrite. And he's everything bad about politics. He doesn't have any right doing what he's doing. At least that's my opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And it's been a tough week for Newt Gingrich. He, you know, has been saying to the press the last couple of days that, look, all these negative attacks are starting to have a cumulative effect. They're starting to tear down his campaign.

In Iowa, he's even called on Mitt Romney to call off his super PAC. Mitt Romney has responded, "Look, I can't do that. We're not supposed to be coordinating our campaign with the super PAC's activities." Newt Gingrich has fired back, that's baloney.

But there's a new poll that has come out this morning in Iowa, in the last couple days, Ali and Christine, we've been saying, oh, Newt Gingrich is in trouble in Iowa and he may be finished in Iowa. Folks have been saying that sort of thing.

There's a new poll out. It is from the Iowa State University and KCRG, a local station in Iowa, it shows Ron Paul on top at 28 percent, but Newt Gingrich right behind Ron Paul at 25 percent, within the margin of error, followed by Mitt Romney at 18 percent.

So, Newt Gingrich is very much in this Iowa caucus. He could still come out on top. Don't count him out just yet.

ROMANS: The voter who said to him not Feliz Navidad, but something else, did he tell Shawna if he was a registered Republican?

ACOSTA: You know, we didn't get that out of him. You know, this was one of the chaotic scenes where, you know, Shawna just happened to be rolling when this voter went up to Newt Gingrich and said this sort of thing.

I mean, he does arouse these passions out on the campaign trail. Shortly after he announced he was running for president earlier this year, another voter went up to him and said something really ugly to the former speaker. And so, this happens to him out on the campaign trail -- it happens to all the candidates out of the campaign trail -- but it does seem to happen to Newt Gingrich because he arouses these sorts of passions in people and it's something he has to deal with out there.

ROMANS: All right. And he dealt with it with a smile and moved along.

VELSHI: Probably the best way to do it.

ACOSTA: Yes, it's been a tough, I mean, the endorsement that went to Rick Santorum yesterday from Bob Vander Plaats --

ROMANS: Yes.

ACOSTA: -- that was a serious blow to Newt Gingrich. He was really trying to win that endorsement. He's counting on value voters to put him over the top in Iowa and to not get that endorsement was a major blow in this campaign. I know you're talking shortly.

ROMANS: Yes.

ACOSTA: That should be very interesting.

ROMANS: I'm glad you brought it up, Jim. Thanks for that report, because you're right, we are going to talk about this, particularly, the long shot Rick Santorum who placed all of his chips on winning the Iowa caucuses. He just won that backing, leader of that influential conservative group in the state.

The president of the Family Leader throwing his support behind the former senator for the nomination and there are questions this morning in a new report about how he came to that decision.

Joining us now from Des Moines is the president of the Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats.

Welcome to the program. Good morning, sir.

BOB VANDER PLAATS, PRESIDENT & CEO, FAMILY LEADER: I appreciate you having me on your program.

ROMANS: So, Bob, let me ask you something. You know, your -- the group itself did not make this endorsement because you couldn't come to a consensus. Like a lot of other evangelicals and the Republican Party in general in Iowa, looks like people are casting to find out who their candidate is going to be.

So, let me ask you this, you personally have chosen Rick Santorum. Why?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I did personally select Rick Santorum but it's overstated that our board couldn't come to consensus. What the board came to consensus on is that the Family Leader is a standard bearer. It's not a kingmaker. We had a lot of supporters supporting a lot of different candidates.

So, the board said, but the caucus-goers still needs to have a voice of leadership. There's a lot of undecided caucus-goers out there yet today, so they allowed myself and my colleague Chuck Hurley (ph) to make a personal endorsement.

We both endorse Senator Rick Santorum because he brings everything back to the family whether it's limited government, a thriving economy, economic freedom or national security. He talks about the families being the basic unit that we all need to be concerned about. So, we actually believe he comes from us and not to us.

ROMANS: So, with that personal endorsement, presumably one of the reasons why so many of the candidates want your endorsement is because you're sort of the standard-bearer there in Iowa and also because you got the voter list. You're tapped into a network of evangelical voters who want to know who you're interested in.

So, tell me a little bit about what you can do for Rick Santorum and what you want Rick Santorum to do for you? It's been reported in the "Des Moines Register" that you had asked him, look, we would like money, maybe a million dollars to help get out there and advertise our support for you.

Explain to me that relationship.

VANDER PLAATS: First of all, absolutely not. We would never ask a candidate. And by the way, when you endorse Rick Santorum you should probably know that you're not asking for a million dollars. We would never ask a campaign or a candidate for funds, especially when you do a personal endorsement.

Now, my job is going to be to try to mobilize a network of supporters. If I can raise funds to help out Rick Santorum, I'm going to raise funds to help out Rick Santorum.

But we're going to do everything in the next 13 days to get the vote out for Rick Santorum. We believe that Iowa is going to break late and it's going to break fast. I think Rick Santorum has the opportunity to be the surprise, to be the Mike Huckabee whose campaign I chaired in 2008. I believe he has the opportunity to be the surprise on January 3.

ROMANS: Mike Huckabee didn't get the nomination, though.

VANDER PLAATS: But, you know, a lot of people believe Mike Huckabee should have got the nomination. Iowa chose right. It was after Iowa where they gave us John McCain. John McCain got defeated by Barack Obama.

Governor Huckabee was still the right choice in '08. I think Rick Santorum will be the right choice in 2012.

ROMANS: Can I ask you about Michele Bachmann? We just had her on the program, the congresswoman on the program. Can you tell me -- you had asked her to merge her campaign with another candidate. Who would you like to see her merge her campaign with and why isn't, why isn't Bachmann -- I don't know -- why isn't the congresswoman good enough to go it alone here?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, first of all, we had a board meeting on Friday and what the board said on Friday is what a lot of caucus-goers are saying. There's several good pro-family candidates in this race. And to make the decision a lot easier, if a couple would team up and basically form a team, we believe that would be a winning strategy because right now, we're fragmenting our support for really four really good candidates.

So, I talked to a few candidates and I said, I'm not saying what you should do. I'm not telling you to drop out or anything of that nature, but maybe if you like another candidate, maybe you and the other candidate should get together and say, hey, can we make something work where it's a team deal.

ROMANS: Yes.

VANDER PLAATS: Not quid pro quo, but about -- let's advance our issues and let's win Iowa on January 3.

ROMANS: All right. So, nice to see you this morning, Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the Family Leader.

VANDER PLAATS: Good to see you, too.

ROMANS: Of course, so much news going on in Iowa and Ron Paul racing up the polls, 28 percent according to this new ISU --

VELSHI: Newt Gingrich fighting for that lead, Michele Bachmann who used to hold the lead there, a lot of national activity coalescing around Mitt Romney.

ROMANS: And I'll tell you, it's interesting, Iowa, this is time of the year when usually people have staked out their candidate sign in the front yard. There are people don't have their signs up yet. They're still trying to figure out who their candidate is going to be. That's pretty late in the game. That will make Iowa really interesting.

VELSHI: So, this conversation with Bob about Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman Bachmann joined us half an hour ago responding to the Family Leader president, Bob Vander Plaats that she get out of the race. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: He phoned you and asked you to get out of the race?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that's true. There would be no reason for us to do that because we always polled above Rick Santorum. Plus, the momentum has shifted tremendously this last week after the last debate.

I also have the endorsement of the former leader of the Family Leader council and I have the endorsement of the head of Concerned Women for America here in Iowa, as well as over 100 pastors. I have probably the strongest level of support of any of the candidates here among the evangelical community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll. Now, she's polling fifth or sixth place depending on what surveys you look.

All right. Do not miss what this is leading up to. The Iowa caucuses, the candidates' first true test is on Tuesday, January the 3rd. Of course, here at CNN, we got special live coverage with the "Best Political Team on Television." It starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time that evening. Of course, we're going to have a lot of coverage leading up to it.

ROMANS: All right. Still ahead, though, the White House takes the payroll tax war to Twitter, asking, what does $40 mean to you? The results a flurry of response funny, sad, and some quite surprising about what Americans do with $40 each pay day.

We're live from the White House, coming up.

VELSHI: Also ahead, two earth-size planets have been found orbiting a sun-like star. What does this all mean? Why astronomers are calling it a benchmark moment in science.

ROMANS: And he started out reading ticker tape. Now, Irving Kahn reads stock transactions on a computer screen. Meet the 106- year-old stockbroker.

Fourteen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Happening right now. Take a look at this. You're looking at live video of the Russian Soyuz rocket about to take off from Kazakhstan. It's headed to the international space station. It's carrying a three person crew astronauts from NASA. The European Space Agency -- there we go -- and a Russian cosmonaut. It is ignition. We're not going to takeoff yet, but it's about to happen. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: you're good first stage performance. Soyuz is delivering 102 tons of thrust, (INAUDIBLE), and signal engine. First state of the Soyuz measures 68 feet in length and 24 feet in diameter and burning liquid fuel for the first two minutes and six seconds of flight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Beautiful night launch, as well. So, now you know, this is the way we get to space. Ever since between the end of the space shuttle program and the beginning of the commercial program, which is probably still a couple of years away --

ROMANS: We hitch a ride.

VELSHI: This is how we get up. We hitch rides on Soyuz. So, that is how they are going to space. By the way, and the astronauts used to tell me, you think when you get into that shuttle. It's tight. There you got separation, by the way, we just saw that. You think it's tight in there. That's the one thing. The Soyuz rockets, they are really very snug for that ride up to the space station. ROMANS: It will dock, when, Friday?

VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: Expected to dock Friday.

VELSHI: And that's how they get back and forth. And I have to tell you, I love space, little claustrophobic. I'd be a little nervous up there in the space station, and when you find out that one of your means of transportation has just been sort of discontinued, but they're happy up there. They stay up there for months.

ROMANS: Other than they have no trouble with the fitness test or the engineering, you'd be able to do it.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: The engineering would keep me away from it.

All right. It's a landmark discovery in space.

VELSHI: All about spaces.

ROMANS: NASA's Kepler telescope spotted two earth-size planets outside our solar system. They're orbiting around a sun-like star, but because of how close they are to that star, the planets are way too hot for life. Temperatures top out at 800 degrees, but this is a very significant find and here's why. Chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute Science Museum --

VELSHI: In Philadelphia.

ROMANS: -- in Philly, Derrick Pitts, joined us earlier this morning to explain just what these planets mean to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERRICK PITTS, CHIEF ASTRONOMER, THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE SCIENCE MUSEUM: Extraordinarily difficult for us to be able to find these little tiny planets orbiting stars at such an incredible distance. It tells us that the equipment that we are using is absolutely incredible. And the engineers that create these things are really great.

But, the other fact is that, we are now discovering planets at such a high rate that it's only a matter of time, maybe even less than a year before we find an earth-like planet in the right location where water can be liquid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Wow!

ROMANS: Less than a year. The new planets are about a thousand -- 1,000 light-years away.

VELSHI: All right. The check of early morning markets coming up next.

Plus, social networking site, Facebook, has an ad system that's moving on to your profile page. We'll tell you what it means to you. We'll give you details about it, coming up. Nineteen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Twenty-three minutes after the hour. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

We are track for a positive opening on Wall Street. Right now, U.S. stock futures are trading higher. In fact, Dow futures up more than 200 points. Signs of strength in the housing market, the number of new homes breaking ground rose to an annual rate of 685,000 in November.

It's up 24 percent from a year earlier. Economists tell CNN money if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax holiday, it's going to put a serious dent in America's economic growth next year. They also warn it could tip the U.S. back into recession.

A sign Cuba is slowly moving toward capitalism. Banks in the communist run island are now reportedly offering loans to individual citizens. The loans are for people hoping to redo their home or invest in the private business.

They made over some ads appearing between your friend's status updates. Facebook announcing that next month, sponsored ads will begin appearing in your newsfeed. Facebook says they're still working things out, but they hope to show no more than one sponsored story per day.

And for the first time, the big game is coming to the small screen. The NFL announcing that the Super Bowl, along with some post- season games, will be streamed online through Verizon's NFL mobile app.

Well, still ahead, a family who says they were kicked off their flight for having too many kids. AMERICAN MORNING back right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS (voice-over): A live look at Capitol Hill and the White House this morning. The house refusing to keep your taxes lower for a little longer because of politics. And now, the White House is taking the payroll tax battle on twitter on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Good morning. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Twenty-seven minutes after the hour. Hey, I just want to correct something we told you a couple of minutes ago. Stock futures are not up right now. They are, in fact, down across the board. Very strong day on markets yesterday. They were up yesterday.

Right now, stock futures are down pointing to a negative open, not a drastically negative one, but they're down, not up.

ROMANS (on-camera): And not unusual after you've seen 337 points up on the Dow, sometimes, you see a little bit of a step back the next morning. So, we'll keep watching that for you.

All right. Top stories now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI (voice-over): Extremely hazardous holiday travel. Many roads are still closed across five states after a deadly winter storm ripped through the southwest Rockies and plains. Winter storm warnings are up again today as another storm moves in.

ROMANS (voice-over): Reports that North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un will share power with his uncle and the military. This is according to Reuters. The country will reportedly shift to collective rule from a dictatorship. Kim Jong Un is the son and successor of Kim Jong Il who died over the weekend.

VELSHI: Human rights group seeing Moammar Gadhafi's son and top aide for the first time since he was captured three days ago while he was trying to flee Libya. Human rights watch says Saif al-Islam Gadhafi is being held in isolation, but is in good physical condition. The group also said Saif Gadhafi, who like his father, was charged with war crimes, needs access to a lawyer to guarantee due process.

ROMANS: Officials in Hong Kong have killed more than 17,000 chickens after a carcass infected with the bird flu was found in a poultry market there. Officials still trying to determine whether the chicken was imported or came from a local farm.

VELSHI: And Washington's dysfunction could mean less money in your paycheck next year. Yesterday, the Republican-led House rejected the Senate's two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday. House Speaker John Boehner says it's now up to the president to call back the Senate from their Christmas vacation and insists that they hammer out a new deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: Now, it's up to the president to show real leadership. He said that he won't leave town for the holidays until this bill is done. The next step is clear. I think President Obama needs to call on Senate Democrats to go back into session, move to go to conference, and to sit down and resolve this bill as quickly as possible.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI (on-camera): Congress makes a good point of telling the president that he's not the boss of them, except when they want to call back the Senate. The Senate, by the way, has come back and said, we're perfectly happy with the bill we passed. You need to pass it.

ROMANS (on-camera): President Obama said he's not going to play games with this, with the payroll tax cut. He now has the White House staff launching a Twitter war with Republicans. Our Dan Lothian live at the White House. Dan, what is this Twitter campaign all about?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this is a way for the White House to push back on House Republicans, turning up the volume by appealing to the public, and with the help of the public and they're breaking it down, pointing out that a family who makes roughly $50,000 a year stands to lose about $40 a paycheck.

And, so, what they did was they appealed out there to the Twitterverse to send in what that $40, rather, would mean to them using the $40 hash mark. One person wrote "It is a third of my student loan, half of my groceries and gas money for the weak." Another wrote "kids' school lunch, $40." And then finally "$40 is the amount that is in my bank account right now."

For his part President Obama popped into the briefing room yesterday, again, pointing the finger at House Republicans making it clear that this is not a game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the House Republicans referred to what they're doing as "high-stakes poker." He's right about the stakes, but this is not poker. This is not a game. This shouldn't be politics as usual. Right now the recovery is fragile, but it is moving in the right direction. Our failure to do this could have effects not just on families but on the economy as a whole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: The president says that now is not the time to play politics and that members of Congress, in particular House Republicans, should put aside the areas of disagreement, find areas of compromise and get this done. But as we've heard, Republicans pointing the finger at the president, as well. Christine, Ali?

VELSHI: All right, Dan, thank you for that.

Meantime, President Obama's approval rating rebounding a little bit. Does the president still plan to go to Hawaii over the Christmas holidays? We'll find out about that, as well.

New this morning, the FBI stepping up its efforts in a search for a missing toddler from Maine. Investigators are combing the neighborhood of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds and following up more than 100 tips. The little girl was last seen when her father put her to bed in their home on Friday night. About 75 officers are working on the case. So far no suspects.

ROMANS: Investigators say 49 school teachers and administrators have now been caught in that cheating scandal in south Florida Dougherty County. They're accused of adjusting results on standardized tests. The test ring was discovered when a task force looking into suspiciously high scores stumbled upon this. Official say teachers felt pressured by No Child Left Behind.

VELSHI: And the NCAA is hitting Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban, a punishment handed down for a scandal involving players who accepted thousands in cash and gifts in exchange for Buckeye jerseys and memorabilia. Former coach Jim Trestle was keeping officials in the dark about it.

ROMANS: A family says they were kicked off a U.S. Airways flight because they had too many little kids. Let's get this straight. They had a three-year-old, two 20-month-old twins, and an eight-month-old. Mom and dad said they bought three tickets for the three-year-old and the parents because they were told children under the age of two don't need tickets. And no one at Charlotte-Douglas airport at security or the gate said anything about that. They even claimed a first class passenger offered to buy them another ticket, but the airline wouldn't allow it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY FICKES, PASSENGER: I feel like we were discriminated against because we had too many young children in their eyes.

JASON FICKES, PASSENGER: We held up the plane for 40 minutes or 50 minutes at this point. We didn't know why because we kept on doing what they had asked us to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So we asked U.S. Airways for a response, and it said "We resolved the issue directly with the customer and refunded her. Our policy is in line with FAA guidelines. The policy says infants do not need tickets, but they have to sit on a lap. It's one baby per adult.

VELSHI: So there was one extra body they didn't have a lap.

ROMANS: They have three babies and two adults.

VELSHI: The puzzlement here is how they got as far as they did without someone figuring it out. The airline said they booked the ticket online, didn't mention that there were these extra babies coming along. So it's a tricky situation. For parents traveling with kids, understand that you either have to have a seat or a lap available for every baby.

ROMANS: Even if you bought a ticket for one of the 20-month-old, the 20-month-old can't sit by itself in a seat --

VELSHI: You'd have to have a car seat for them.

ROMANS: It sounds like a --

VELSHI: So it's a complicated, tricky lesson. ROMANS: From a 20-month-old to a 106-year-old, a 106-year-old stockbroker who started work a year before the Great Depression, he's still trading. It's 34 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: New York, that was such a beautiful shot we were looking at an hour ago or two hours ago. Now it's cloudy and foggy.

ROMANS: It's going to be rainy and 58 later on today. We're playing the song because, gosh --

VELSHI: You want to see the fountain of youth. It's on Wall Street. As you said, this is the original Occupy Wall Street guy.

ROMANS: He has been occupying since the Great Depression.

VELSHI: His name is Irving Kahn. He is 106 years old. He started investment banking before the Great Depression. More than 80 years later, he still goes to work every day, but he took a little time from his schedule to chat with our own Poppy Harlow.

ROMANS: He just got back from the gym. He was training for the marathon.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: This man was incredible. It was an honor to meet him and an honor to hear how the world has changed, and he has seen it over the last 106 years. I think he teaches us all a lesson. If you want to be 106, just keep going to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Wall Street 80 years ago, Irving Kahn was there.

(on camera): When were you born?

IRVING KAHN, TRADER: December 19, 1905.

HARLOW (voice-over): He rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on his 100th birthday. That was six years ago.

(on camera): How has Wall Street changed during your life?

KAHN: Well, when I got to the street in it was much more a rich man's game. Not that I was rich. But it was designed for insurance companies or railroads or utilities. It's no longer a rich man's business. It's a business for everybody.

HARLOW: Do you still watch the stock market very closely every day?

KAHN: Well, I have the Bloomberg right here. I don't watch it because I'm not a trader.

HARLOW: You're a value investor.

KAHN: Right. And I stick to the 20 odd stocks I hold.

HARLOW: Who is your idle, Irving?

HAHN: Ben Graham.

HARLOW: Ben Graham, that's Warren Buffett's idol, too.

HAHN: A lot of other people wish they could do what he did.

TOM KAHN, SON OF IRVING KAHN: He works every day.

HARLOW: What do you think is to thank for your father's longevity?

TOM KAHN: I would say the fact that he has an office to go to and a job and responsibilities is extremely important.

HARLOW: Do you think you will live to be as old as your father has so far? Do you want to?

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: You didn't always have Bloomberg terminals?

HAHN: No. I was very lucky being born in 1905. I was just in time for a lot of the new technologies -- radio, television.

HARLOW: Do you have a cell phone now?

HAHN: Yes, I do. I don't use it much except to remind myself what my number is.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: I see.

(voice-over): But Irv doesn't think technology necessarily makes things earlier when he looks at the gadgets his grandson, Andrew, uses.

HAHN: He also has to know how to work the iBook. You have to interrupt me otherwise I talk too much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: One of the most enjoyable interviews that I have done in all of 2011. You know, it was interesting his son, Tommy, who by the way is 69, said to me, a lot of people think he actually doesn't actually work. But he comes in here every day and he is working and meets with some of our biggest clients about their portfolios. And he's telling me about some of his stock holdings, and this guy makes smart investments. I look at stocks that don't go up and don't go down and they pay a good dividend and I ride it out.

ROMANS: What a fun guy. Does he eat well?

HARLOW: He likes Thai food. Maybe that's the secret.

ROMANS: I heard he was eating Thai food when you got in. And Christine and I were talking about this because we remember when he rang the bell when he was 100 years old.

ROMANS: What a great story. Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Sure.

ROMANS: Morning headlines are next. Also ahead, a rare interview with President Bill Clinton ten years after leaving office. What is he up to now? It's 42 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: It's 43 minutes after the hour. Here are your morning headlines.

Markets open in 45 minutes. Right now stock futures have retreated from earlier gains, trading lower despite some positive news that the European Central Bank has lent nearly $476 billion to the region's bank in order to boost confidence in the Eurozone.

President Obama is pushing the House to vote on the Senate's plan to extend the payroll tax cut by two months. But so far House Republicans have only passed a measure for more negotiations.

The White House has taken the payroll tax fight to Twitter. They're asking folks what $40 means to them. That's because if the payroll tax holiday is not extended the average American would get about $40 less per paycheck.

Big holiday travel trouble, folks. Drifting snow keeping some roads closed across several states in the plains and Rockies after a deadly winter storm. More snow now on the way today.

The FAA is expected to announce new regulations to combat pilot fatigue this morning, this after many delays due to industry acquisition over costs. The rule is expected to change work hours for pilots that came into investigation after into that 2009 crash in Buffalo, New York, that revealed fatigue was the cause of that crash.

Stunning video of a Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launching from Kazakhstan only 23 minutes ago. There are three astronauts on board. They're on their way to the International Space Station. They're expected to dock on Friday.

That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back right after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Good morning, Washington. It is cloudy and 50. It's going to be rainy. But I got some good news, it's going to go up to 63. It's kind of balmy here in the northeast. Half the country is getting blanketed by this winter storm, but it's nice out here. ROMANS: 63 on the day before the first day of winter, interesting.

"Big Stars, Big Giving" that's our special series that shines the spotlight on celebrities and more importantly, the causes they support. CNN's Alina Cho sits down with the biggest names for rare and revealing one-on-one interviews.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wow, the pressure is on.

ROMANS: I know. Come on, Alina, you've got to deliver.

CHO: Good morning, you know we've spent a lot of time over the past couple of years as you know talking to people like Madonna, Elton John, Nicole Kidman.

Well, he is not a Hollywood star, but he is one of the best known names on the planet. We're talking about Bill Clinton. Former U.S. president, founder of the Clinton Foundation. For a decade as a private citizen, he's been using his influence to change the world. The thing is, he says it's changed his life, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO (voice-over): No matter where he goes, President Bill Clinton is greeted like a rock star. The man many Democrats called the best President in modern times is working to make the modern world a better place to live.

(on camera): You had it in your mind that you didn't want to spend the rest of your life wishing you were still president.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, that I was still president. I enjoy talking about what happened when I was president. I don't mind telling those stories, but you just need to keep doing something new.

CHO (voice-over): That urge to do something new inspired the former president to open an office in Harlem and create the William J. Clinton Foundation. Today, the Clinton Foundation celebrates what it calls "a decade of difference".

(on camera): 400 million people impacted in 180 countries. When you hear that, do you think to yourself, wow, that's incredible or, oh, boy, there's a lot more to be done.

CLINTON: Both.

This little pill, because of the discount, will save about 200,000 lives in the world this year.

Driving down the price of AIDS medicine, driving down the price of malaria medicine, building up health care systems that countries can afford to run. People ask me all of the time well, you're doing more good now. I say, I have to live a long time to do as much for as many people as when I'm in government, when I was in government. CHO: But you can go places.

CLINTON: But I can go places and do things.

How many sites should we have in Port-au-Prince?

CHO: As the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, he's visited the country 20 times since 2009. His foundation has raised $23 million towards the rebuilding effort, helped fund programs to fight childhood obesity in 13,000 U.S. schools, established a mentoring program for entrepreneurs; then there's the Clinton Global Initiative.

CLINTON: We wanted to be better.

CHO (voice-over): Since 2005, the annual meeting has drawn a wide range of people: 150 heads of state; 20 Nobel laureates; everyone from Bill Gates to actors like Matt Damon.

CLINTON: I try to bring people together that know things I don't, who can do things I can't.

CHO: 2,100 commitments have come out of the Clinton Global Initiatives; when fully funded they'll be valued at $69.2 billion.

CLINTON: You are so beautiful.

CHO: Working tirelessly to make a difference, traveling all over the world.

(on camera): 150 countries, more than that. What keeps you going?

CLINTON: I love this work. Anybody that had the life I've had, anybody that was given the gift that I was given by the American people, you'd be crazy not to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: President Clinton likes to joke that it gave him something to do after leaving the White House, after all, he says, he has a wife with a traveling job.

ROMANS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Well you got -- with younger presidents, this is a big concern, right? It's the busiest job in the world.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And it's a new -- it's a new phenomenon, too. I mean, you've got presidents who have basically another career ahead of them and he's trying to make the most of it. He's a policy wonk.

VELSHI: Yes. ROMANS: He's sort of got this manic energy and he loves to travel.

CHO: Well, he famously doesn't sleep, as you know.

VELSHI: Right.

CHO: And he said, you know, I think the saddest thing in the world is to tell war stories and I didn't want to spend the rest of my life wishing that I were president.

VELSHI: Right.

CHO: You know the interesting thing is you look at the impact he's made; 400 million people in 180 countries. He's been to 150 countries just since leaving office.

VELSHI: Wow.

CHO: Just look at AIDS medications, for instance.

VELSHI: Yes.

CHO: He was able to drive down the prices of AIDS medications. As a result, four million people around the world have life-saving AIDS medications who might not otherwise have them.

VELSHI: Yes.

CHO: And so, it's really, really remarkable what he's been able to do because he's President Clinton.

ROMANS: It's a great line. "I bring together people who know things I don't know and who can do things I can't do."

VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: And that's really the definition of sort of leadership.

CHO: It's incredibly humble, too, but -- but -- but he's right, he really is able to bring the greatest minds and the smartest minds, the most famous people together --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Yes.

CHO: For that Clinton Global Initiative which is just one component of the Clinton Foundation.

Tomorrow, by the way, an interview that might change the way that you think about actor and comedian Will Ferrell. Of course, we all know him as the man who makes us laugh, but he also shows a serious side.

He's working to help cancer survivors by giving them college scholarships. He's only working on that one special charity. We'll tell you about it.

And also don't miss my holiday special called, "BIG STARS, BIG GIVING"; airs this Saturday December 24th Christmas Eve at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Again on Sunday Christmas Day at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

ROMANS: Thanks, Alina, we can't wait.

All right, up next is this the world's worst delivery man? A FedEx driver caught on camera --

VELSHI: No don't throw it --

ROMANS: -- chucking a computer monitor over a six-foot fence.

CHO: Oh yes.

VELSHI: We have more of that.

ROMANS: Its 53 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Every city we looked at this morning looks the same this morning. It's all kind of foggy and overcast. Good morning Atlanta.

ROMANS: Good morning. Yes, that's right. It will be like thunderstorms and 66 later on, but here you go. I love that song. Who sings that?

VELSHI: All right, very good. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: Nothing says Christmas like Weezer.

VELSHI: It is that time of year. Thousands of packages are being mailed out every day. Some of them coming to you today. But ever wonders what happens when they're out for delivery? This next story is going to make you cringe.

Jeanne Moos shows us the worst deliveries ever caught on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 'Tis the season for packages and next time you open one intact, be grateful this didn't happen to it. This was a computer monitor tossed over a gate in southern California by a FedEx delivery man. But then the surveillance camera video was delivered to YouTube and made the news.

And now FedEx is saying, "We have seen the video and, frankly, we were all shocked." But that's not the only drop-off memorialized on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Handle with care. Yes, just like that. Ground service. I get it. Ground. You throw the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on the ground. MOOS: It's not just FedEx.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can brown do for you?

MOOS: UPS Brown can toss your package underhand. It can toss it overhand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that.

MOOS: It can toss it like a horse shoe. Fences and gates are the delivery man's nemesis as a driver posted from a delivery point of view, gates are hostile. Don't like it, get rid of the gate. The guys videoing this UPS delivery man compared his technique to loading garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think there is anything that is going to be damaged in there? No.

MOOS: It could be worse, at least they're not Ace Ventura. Of all the special deliveries we saw, none was more special than this by FedEx. There were sparks coming off the box and the man who was shooting --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy has no idea that he's pushing an oven.

MOOS: As for the computer monitor heaved over the gate, the person who posted it says the monitor was broken and it's sad because he was home at the time if the delivery man had just rung the bell.

(on camera): I'm sure what you're probably wondering is, does this guy still have a job?

(voice-over): FedEx tells CNN, we have ID'd the employee involved. He is being handled according to our internal disciplinary policies.

Federal Express, when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

MOOS: They said "overnight", not in one piece. Now that everyone has a camera, it doesn't pay for the delivery elves to get sloppy.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FedEx ground truck, the guy just keeps throwing stuff out of the truck one after another.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: That just really made my morning. I don't know about you, Ali.

VELSHI: No, because all my stuff gets delivered. That didn't make my morning. ROMANS: That's going to do it for us for today. "CNN NEWSROOM" with T.J. Holmes starts right now. Good morning, T.J.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Hi there people. How are you all doing. I haven't talked to or seen either one of you in quite some time. Everything all right?

VELSHI: Good to see you, my friend.

HOLMES: Excellent.

ROMANS: Everything is cool. Everything good with you?

HOLMES: Everything is great. I hope you all got that stuff I sent to you all and the FedEx guy, we didn't have any issues. So I hope it arrived all right.

VELSHI: On my way to check on it now.

HOLMES: All right, guys. All right, you all have a good -- thanks so much.