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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Finishing the Job in Afghanistan?; White House Party Crashers
Aired November 25, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Tom Foreman, in for Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, we have breaking news. It may have been a stunt, but it was also a breach of security at the highest levels of government, two people uninvited, unknown, walking into President Obama's state dinner at the White House and mingling with the guests, all the way up to the vice president.
Questions are swirling tonight. An investigation is under way. We will have all the of the late-breaking details.
Also tonight, as the president gets ready to send more troops to Afghanistan, the "Raw Politics" of that decision. Will Democrats support it? Will Republicans, many of whom backed the war, also back the president? And can a sharply divided country come together over this difficult issue?
And later, "Up Close": the bargains this Black Friday might bring and what you should avoid like the Black Plague.
But, first up, breaking news: Last night's state dinner at the White House, turns out it's tonight's history-making security breach, one that demands a lot of answers from the White House, the Secret Service, and President Obama's inner circle.
It's about this couple. They posed for pictures. They were announced. They mixed and mingled at last night's dinner, and basically they had a ball. The big problem is, they were not invited. They were not on the guest list.
They were intruders who slipped through levels of security checks and screens and somehow managed to get within feet of the president inside the White House. These interlopers also bragged about it on their Facebook page.
Randi Kaye joins us with the details of this amazing story -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is amazing, Tom.
The White House state dinner was a real who's-who type of event. But here's the question White House security is no doubt asking tonight. Who are these people? Take a look at the video that we're about to show you. That's Michaele and Tareq Salahi entering the White House state dinner. And listen. They're even announced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. and Mrs. Salahi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: They went right inside President Obama's first state dinner. Just one problem, this couple was, as we already told you, not invited, not on the guest list.
FOREMAN: Randi, you're saying that these people were not supposed to be there, not cleared, not invited. Yet, they attended the White House state dinner. That's -- that's what they did? There's no question about this?
KAYE: No question about it. And not only did they make it inside. They got close to some of the most powerful people at the White House.
We found Michaele Salahi's Facebook page. And on it, she wrote -- quote -- "I was honored to be invited to attend the first state dinner hosted by President Obama," even though we're learning tonight, Tom, they were not invited.
Now, on Facebook, she posted many of her photos from the state dipper. And check this out. You could see right there that is her with the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden.
Here's another we're about to show you, one of -- there's the couple themselves with Joe Biden. He even has -- the vice president has his arm around her. How could they get so close? She also posted pictures on her Facebook page with "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric. We also saw smiling her with Robin Roberts from "Good Morning America" at ABC.
She snapped a photo with the White House Marines as well. And here's another. Check this one out, Rahm Emanuel. There they are with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, except, instead of Rahm, they posted his name on Facebook as Ron, R-O-N, on the Facebook page. They didn't even get the spelling right.
Now, it's mind-boggling, though, to think that this couple could get through security, when they weren't on the guest list for the state dinner. Talk about party crashers.
FOREMAN: And the Secret Service obviously has to be trying to explain this tonight. What are they saying, Randi?
KAYE: They're trying to figure this one out -- the Secret Service tonight issuing a statement saying that the uninvited couple did go through magnetometers and other security, just like the rest of the invited guests.
The statement from Secret Service goes on to say there will be a -- quote -- "comprehensive review" of the incident which occurred at the White House state dinner last night. And initial findings identified a Secret Service checkpoint which did not follow proper procedure.
So, as I said, this couple was not on the invited guest list, but, sure enough, they got to party like they were. And they have the pictures to prove it, Tom.
FOREMAN: It would be funny, I suppose, Randi, if it just weren't such a serious matter on top of it all.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much for that.
Judging by those Facebook photos, the couple had a good time at the state dinner, but, obviously, this is no laughing matter for the Secret Service or the president's staff, who tonight have a ton of explaining to do.
Let's dig deeper. Just a moment ago, I spoke with Roxanne Roberts, a writer for "The Washington Post" who broke the story, and national security contributor Frances Townsend, who also served as homeland security adviser under President George W. Bush.
FOREMAN: Roxanne, you broke this story. Let me ask you something. What is the best guess right now as to how this happened?
ROXANNE ROBERTS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, this evening, the Secret Service updated. We have been asking all day. They said that there had been a failure at one of the security checkpoints, that there was not proper procedure, and these two individuals were allowed to go through security, the magnetometers, and go in at the White House.
FOREMAN: And, Fran, what kind of failure could there be? Isn't there more than one check involved here? You don't just show up and say, "I'm on the list," do you?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's right, Tom.
The interesting thing is, at the first -- at the perimeter security, the very first checkpoint you come to, there's usually both armed Secret Service agents, who have a computer system where you have to be put in, and if -- there are occasions on which someone who is an invited guest isn't in that system. For that reason, also at that first checkpoint is a member of the social secretary's staff literally with a paper clipboard. And they check that.
Sometime, if your name is on the paper list, but not in the Secret Service system, the social secretary will work that through with the Secret Service. She's got to call in. She has to have that data input. And the Secret Service will require that in their system before they let you through.
Obviously, this broke down somehow, and either the person was waved through, or the social secretary would have called in and had it input into the Secret Service system. But there's either a failure at the -- with the social secretary's office at the gate or with both the social secretary and I would guess with the Secret Service.
FOREMAN: But, Roxanne, these people got away with this entirely. They effectively outed themselves by putting pictures up today, didn't they?
ROBERTS: Well, I think we need to remember that they are reality TV stars, or at least aspiring. They're rumored to be a part of "The Real Housewives of Washington," which is of Bravo's franchise, all these people behaving to what appears to reality-type ways.
And this would be a huge get, if they managed to pull this off. And, so, if in fact they managed to somehow talk their way through security and get in, which it appears that they did, then they went through. They were announced. They went through the arrivals in front of reporters and photographers. They went upstairs, and they mingled in the cocktail reception. And they got themselves photographed and took pictures of each other with the vice president, Rahm Emanuel, Katie Couric, and a number of other administration officials.
The fact that they were standing right next to them is shocking. The only time they appeared to finally sort of have to sneak out was right before guests were seated for dinner in the tent that was erected on the South Lawn.
ROBERTS: Fran, let me ask you one more thing about this. Even if they didn't have weapons, they went through magnetometers, look, I can't walk up to the president unannounced and start talking to him, and I have been in the news media 30 years.
This is still an enormous breach of security.
TOWNSEND: Oh, absolutely.
And I can assure you that the chief of staff, any White House chief of staff, ought to be pretty angry about this and want to get to the bottom of it. My understanding is -- from having spoken to folks at the White House, is that the Secret Service is looking into exactly how the breach took place.
Let's remember, this is a felony. If you lie to a federal official, either the Secret Service or to the social secretary, if they lied their way to get in -- and it seems they would have had to have done that -- that's a federal -- that's a federal felony of a false statement to a federal official.
And, so, this is a pretty serious crime, not to mention, as you say, Tom, it's a threat. After all, even -- they wouldn't -- they would have been screened through magnetometers and not had weapons on them, but, of course, once you're into the state dinner, there's knives and forks and cutlery.
And, literally, we have seen pictures where this couple have their arms around, posing for pictures with people like Rahm Emanuel and the vice president of the United States.
FOREMAN: The vice president, all that.
Roxanne, I want to come back to you for one last question here. When you look at what happened here, one of the things we're understanding is that there may have been reporters there even who were saying, who are these people? Because they didn't recognize them.
Isn't there a question here about why somebody, even with the White House staff, not even security, didn't look at these people -- I mean, yes, there's more than 300 people, but they're all chosen for a reason -- and say, who are they, why are they here, and figure it out?
ROBERTS: Well, that would make sense logically. But, if you stop and think about it, there were more than 300 guests who were from all over the country. And the assumption that everyone had, presumably the staffers, were that these people were meant to be here. They wouldn't have been able to get in unless someone had said it was OK.
FOREMAN: All right.
ROBERTS: So, this was a failure of some senior person to recognize that they weren't supposed to be there.
FOREMAN: I appreciate your time, Roxanne, and Fran as well, trying to sort all of this out.
TOWNSEND: Thank you.
FOREMAN: 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta also attended last night's state dinner, by legitimate invitation, I might add. He joins us now on the phone.
Sanjay, you were there last night. It was rainy. It was dark. It was crowded, a lot of people. What do you think the chances that they could have just slipped through in the hustle and bustle?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems quite possible, you know.
There was really one -- that first checkpoint was the time that people were sort of -- get scrutinized the most. A lot of times, the social secretary was there and sort of recognized people, and -- and then scratched names off a clipboard, literally.
But I will tell you, it was pretty crowded right outside the east gate. That's where everyone entered at that time. Some people were driving up. Some people were walking up. And it was just a lot of people all clustered around. So -- and there was really one person sort of scratching names off the -- off the clipboard at that point. After that, you walked in. You did go through the -- through the metal detector, and then you walked upstairs into the East Room. At that point, it was very -- it was pretty crowded in there, Tom. People were sort of mingling. And that's where a lot of pictures were taking place.
What happened after that was that you -- you were given a name card when you came in, and that, when you wanted to go into the receiving line to talk to the president and the first lady and the prime minister and his wife, you -- you handed over that card to one of the social secretaries. And then you were in the receiving line.
So, I don't know if they were actually in the receiving line. It seems like it would have been hard to do that. And then you went from there into the tent. The tents were all assigned -- it was all assigned seating at that point, which sort of makes sense as to why they probably left.
But that is sort of how it worked. But it was that first checkpoint, Tom, that, if they got through that, they were probably all set.
FOREMAN: So, effectively, there was only one real place that somebody was looking at somebody and saying, do you belong here, and that was a person with a clipboard?
GUPTA: That's right. I mean, it wasn't -- it wasn't -- I didn't see a computer or some sort of other, you know, sort of point of reference...
FOREMAN: No looking at licenses or anything like that.
Let's move on beyond that, Sanjay, to another part of this. Once you were inside, aside from the receiving line -- there are pictures of them here with Rahm Emanuel, with Vice President Biden, other people around there -- were you able to go up and talk to any of the other guests there, aside from the president, just freely?
GUPTA: Oh, yes, yes, pretty much. I mean, everyone was just floating around in the East Room and some of the other rooms around there. The guests were all allowed to sort of mingle around that area.
So, there were no, you know, sort of barriers really, besides with the president, the first lady, and the prime minister and his wife.
GUPTA: Other than that....
FOREMAN: One last quick question here, Sanjay.
Did you notice this couple? She's rather striking. She's got long blonde hair, sort of a bright dress. Did you notice them at all?
GUPTA: You know, I looked at some of that video. I -- I don't remember seeing them for sure.
I -- when I saw it at first, there were so many people there, it was a little bit hard to pick out. But I -- I don't -- they didn't sort of, you know, cast a memory in my head. I don't remember them.
FOREMAN: All right, Sanjay, thanks so much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it. Happy Thanksgiving to you, despite all the controversy...
GUPTA: And to you, as well, Tom.
FOREMAN: Let us know what you think. Join the live chat now under way on AC360.com.
Up next: the two strategies for Afghanistan, how President Obama can fight the war and win the battle over the war back home, advice from David Gergen, Donna Brazile, and Alex Castellanos.
Plus, Sarah Palin's new role, not in the Republican Party, in the tea party movement. Can these protesters turn anger into political clout next year? We will have all that coming up. Stick with us.
FOREMAN: As you get ready to enjoy Thanksgiving, wherever you are, you might want to take a minute to think about Thanksgiving at Fort Drum in Upstate New York and Fort Campbell in Kentucky and all the military hometowns all around this country.
And for all the troops in so many places and their families and friends, this is no ordinary holiday weekend for them, because, on Tuesday, President Obama will finally outline his long-awaited strategy for the war in Afghanistan. And we're told it could mean sending 34,000 additional troops to that conflict.
You can understand the anxiety of so many families. The president has said all along he plans to finish the job in Afghanistan. Tonight, we're looking at the "Raw Politics" of doing just that around this ninth Thanksgiving with the country at war.
Earlier, we talked with senior political analyst David Gergen, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and the new senior communications adviser for the Republicans, Alex Castellanos.
FOREMAN: David, there has been so much weight put on this decision, and people have waited for it so very long. And, yet, it seems like the president may be in something of a no-win situation here. No matter what he does, he's going to make somebody unhappy, isn't he? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely.
And this is a very divided country. And here he's now decided to go to West Point to give the speech on Tuesday night, in a country that's so divided, it's going to be heavy with symbolism, because the left, opposes this war, opposes the escalation, is going to worry that he's now become the war president, that he's wrapped himself in those flags, while the right, Tom, will remember that West Point is hallowed ground for General Douglas MacArthur, who famously said of the -- during the Korean War, there is no substitute for victory.
And victory does not seem easy in Afghanistan.
FOREMAN: Donna, how did he wind up in this circumstance? I want to bring up a poll while we talk about this, because it's clear if you look at this that Americans are really very much of the opinion that things are going badly in Afghanistan.
Look at this. Sixty-six percent say it's going badly, compared to 61 percent in May, 55 percent in March. He said from the beginning that we would get out of Iraq, but he said we had to address Afghanistan. And now he seems a little bit trapped by his own words, doesn't he?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's been eight years, eight long years. And I think it's critical that the president really outline the mission in terms of sending in more troops.
What will they be doing? What will the civilians be doing? How long will it take for our troops to train the Afghan soldiers and policemen? I think it's important that the president spell all of this out and talk about the cost. He will be at West Point, of course, and so he can talk about the sacrifice of war.
FOREMAN: Hold on. Hold on, Donna. Let me interrupt you there and ask you a question. What could he say to Democrats to get them on board with this, particularly liberal Democrats, who just want out at this point?
BRAZILE: He can tell liberal Democrats and other war-weary Americans that this -- this mission is important, and that there are intermediate goals, and there's a time frame to bringing home our brave men and women.
I think that's important. Look, the supplemental bill earlier this year where we financed the war, that was a heavy lift for Democrats. Who will pay for this? How will we bear the burden of sending in more troops?
FOREMAN: All right.
BRAZILE: I think he needs to explain all of that as well.
FOREMAN: Fair enough.
Let me move on to Alex, though, with a question. Alex, when he does this, obviously, for Republicans, there's a sense of having a very serious concern about the war, just as there is with Democrats. But, also, there's clearly potential political vulnerability with the president here. What do you think Republicans are going to say if he comes out and says, yes, I'm going to send 34,000 additional troops to the war? Will that shut down their criticism?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think this is one of those instances where you're going to see politics stop at the water's edge.
If the president can reconnect Afghanistan to a great national purpose, like we had after 9/11, if he can explain that this is an important part of keeping us safe, keeping al Qaeda from rebuilding a base and a home where they had one before, lending stability to Pakistan, where they're organizing again now, if he can reconnect with a great purpose of this -- that's -- I think that's his biggest job -- he's going to find a lot of Republicans standing up and supporting him.
The concern Republicans have is that a president going -- you know, presidents don't usually win wars when they go into it looking for an exit strategy. They win wars when you go in looking -- making the other guy look for an exit strategy.
And there's some doubt with, he's delayed, and if we can wait two or three months to make a decision on this, well, why can't we wait a year; why can't we wait two years?
FOREMAN: David, do you buy the...
CASTELLANOS: So, he has to be firm.
FOREMAN: Do you buy the idea, David, that the politics will wait at the water's edge on this? Because, frankly, I don't think that I do.
GERGEN: Well, I would like to think that Alex is right, but I'm afraid that I -- I disagree with him. I think this as -- this has become so politicized, Tom. I'm very much in your camp. The country is so polarized on this.
And I think the dilemma for the president is this. When he says, look, we're going to send more troops in, the Republicans are going to cheer that. But when he says, I want to get them out as soon as possible, in order to get the Democrats with him, Republicans are going to say, that's no way to win. There's no substitute for victory.
If you start planning on an exit before you have even gone in there and secured a victory, and if you don't set high goals, you're just going to send a lot of people in to die for what purpose? So, he's going to -- he's going to have -- this is a very, very difficult speech for him.
CASTELLANOS: It is tough, but, Tom, let me add one thing. He does have a strong hand to play. He can say: By the way, I want you to know, I have listened to my generals, and I'm supporting them. I'm giving them almost everything they think they need to be successful.
FOREMAN: One quick question I want to throw out to Donna.
CASTELLANOS: And betting on the U.S. military has turned out to be a good bet.
FOREMAN: Before we get out of this, one quick question to you, Donna. How does he pay for this? Because one of his greatest vulnerabilities now is spending too much -- too much money. And this is going to cost a lot of money. How does he do it?
BRAZILE: I think that's why Congressman Obey's, Chairman Obey's recommendation that we consider a war tax is something that should be put on the table.
Look, we all know that the president inherited over $10 trillion in debt from the previous administration. But this is a president that will have to tackle the deficit. And this is going to be an issue that the Democrats will continue to raise. They're worried, rightfully so, that, by spending more money on -- on Afghanistan, and stabilizing that government, ensuring that our troops have the resources they -- they need, that that will take away money from important initiatives that the president has here at home, in creating jobs and sustaining our own economy.
So, this is also going to be part of the discussion. If not in his speech, it will take place on Capitol Hill.
FOREMAN: I suspect, Donna, when you say the words "war tax," those will be fighting words, no matter how you go about it.
Alex, Donna, David, sit tight for one minute. We will come back to the subject in just a moment.
FOREMAN: Up next: the panel, the tea partiers, and Sarah Palin's new role.
Later: the president, the turkey named Courage, and the dinner table that they won't be sharing. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, today, I'm pleased to announce that, thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha -- because I was planning to eat this sucker... (LAUGHTER)
OBAMA: ... Courage will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Sarah Palin has already turned into a one-woman stimulus package for booksellers, but, tonight, she's making waves far beyond the signing parties.
She and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann have been chosen to keynote the first national tea party convention in Nashville this coming February. Does that make it a tea party party? Well, we don't know.
Back now with our panel, David Gergen, Donna Brazile, and Alex Castellanos, talking about the "Raw Politics" of this potent movement and what it might mean to deficits, Afghanistan, and the struggle for power in D.C.
FOREMAN: David, we were talking about this issue of how you pay for things. And, certainly, I think that two of the most dynamic and exciting words you're hearing in Washington these days are fiscal responsibility, because everybody seems to be talking about it.
Now we have got the tea party talking about a big convention next year. They're trying to get their momentum going. Is it possible that this tea party crowd and the people who are sort of following them can crystallize around the idea of fiscal responsibility and bring in some of the mainstreamers, and actually coalesce around something?
GERGEN: You don't know, Tom? You know, this fiscal responsibility, it's like that old line by -- I think it was Russell Long -- about, everybody likes to go to heaven, but nobody likes to do what it takes to get there.
And that's -- I see these tea party folks as a growing force in American politics. I don't think they haven't power -- I don't think they yet have the power to elect someone, but they increasingly have the power to veto people.
And, so, when they hold a convention, I do think that that's a notable event, if they can bring themselves together as a bigger coalition. But I don't see the heart of what they're talking about to be fiscal responsibility. I don't see them calling for a combination of higher taxes and spending cuts, which is the only way we're going to get these deficits under control. You're going to have to do both.
And I don't see either party really willing to do that. And I come back to Donna on the war tax. I'm a deficit hawk, Donna, but do you believe that the president ought to break his vow of the campaign not to raise taxes on people at the lower end, on anybody below $250,000? Do you think he ought to do that to pay for this war? I'm not sure the tea party is going to stand for that. And I'm curious if you think so.
BRAZILE: You know, we have asked a lot of people to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and to protect our country.
I think the men and women who are going to be sent over to help with the -- the campaign in Afghanistan deserve to have the best of armor, equipment and everything else. And if that causes a little bit more pain and a lot of sacrifice, shared sacrifice, then I think we should put it on the table.
I'm not one of these -- I'm a deficit hawk, too. That's why I'm disturbed that this president came into office and had to deal with the crippling deficits of the previous administration.
FOREMAN: Let's bring it back to the budget, though, for a moment here, Alex, if we can. When you talk about the tea party here, David makes a good point. They're a very fractured group right now. They're around a lot of different issues, including this one about fiscal responsibility.
But I can't help but think back to what Ross Perot did years ago. He ran a kind of fractured campaign. And, yet, in the end, he got 18 percent of the vote in a great big campaign. And that made a difference. Do you look at what's going on with these tea party folks and say, whatever the Republicans may be gaining right now, this will help it, or this will undermine it?
CASTELLANOS: Well, you know, Tom, that's actually to be determined.
If we look back at this past year, we had tea parties in the summer in August, all the way up until the election, and actually Republicans did real well in the November elections in '09, winning statewide races around, in New Jersey, in Virginia, down-ballot across the country.
One reason was because of -- people got motivated, in part by these tea parties. And it wasn't just Republicans. It was independents, too.
FOREMAN: But -- but, Alex...
CASTELLANOS: So, they can be a force.
However, the thing is, I think, to understand about the tea parties is, they're a negative force. And that's a good thing. They're against something. Every party has that.
What's missing for the Republicans...
GERGEN: What are they against, Alex? CASTELLANOS: They're against deficit spending. They're against out-of-control experimentation in Washington and impulsive transformation of American society. The tea parties...
BRAZILE: They're just anti-President Barack Obama. They have no agenda to help transform our country, our nation, and bringing people together. They're against Obama.
CASTELLANOS: No. No, no.
FOREMAN: I want to turn that very question -- let me turn that very question back to David right now.
David, let me ask you this. Let's come back to this, David. In the end, you could argue that one of the greatest things the Democrats had going for them in the last presidential election was the Republicans. People were unhappy about it.
Right now, one of the greatest things the Republicans have going for them is this disaffection toward the Democrats. Is that going to be enough for the Republicans to really get back on the playing field next year, or can it just all fracture over things like this tea party and everything else?
GERGEN: I think the Republicans have the potential, Tom, to have a very big year this coming fall, especially if the unemployment remains high and we have got an unpopular that doesn't -- if it -- if it doesn't seem to be moving in the way the president wants, after announcing this new strategy.
They have got a lot of energy on the right, right now. These tea parties are -- partiers are giving them a lot of that energy. But there is a danger, as Alex, I think, I'm sure, would be the first to recognize, that you can have fratricide within the Republican Party.
You know, you -- the tea party people want to bring down some establishment-type Republicans in -- running for the Senate in places like Florida, and California, and Kentucky, and other states.
FOREMAN: David, and Donna, and Alex, I'm afraid we are going to have to wrap it up at that.
Thanks so much for being here.
BRAZILE: Happy Thanksgiving.
FOREMAN: And happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
Coming up, Black Friday bargains. Before you set your alarm tomorrow night, I'm going to tell you which deals are actually worth getting up for. And also tonight, a judge finally grants director and accused child molester Roman Polanski bail. Does this mean that he'll soon be a free man? We'll have all the details on that just ahead on 360.
FOREMAN: Still ahead, Ted Kennedy's widow speaks out for the first time since the senator's death. We'll have that emotional interview. It's really something to see.
And first, Randi Kaye joins us again with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Tom, seven suspects arrested in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks are now facing charges. The men, including the alleged mastermind of the attacks, were charged today with terrorism charges. They could face the death penalty if convicted. At least 160 people were killed in the four-day siege that started one year ago tomorrow.
President Obama will go to Copenhagen, Denmark, next month for a major climate change summit. The White House says he will travel there December 9, the day before he goes to Oslo to accept his Nobel Peace Prize.
Former vice president, Al Gore, calls the president's decision to attend the summit, quote, "another example of the significant change in policy on the climate crisis."
Toyota announced today that it will fix gas pedals in millions of cars for an accelerator problem that had previously been blamed on floor mats. Floor pads of the vehicles will also be changed. Toyota says the fix affects the following models: Camry, Avalon, Prius and three different Lexus models. You can, of course, find the complete list on our Web site, AC360.com.
And a Pittsburgh man who gave a police officer the bird may soon be -- get this -- $50,000 richer. In 2006, David Hackbart flipped off the officer and ended up with a ticket. But Hackbart argued that he had a constitutional right to give the officer the finger and filed a civil rights suit. Well, yesterday, city council tentatively approved paying this guy 50,000 bucks to settle his suit. So what are you going to do?
FOREMAN: Well, what are you going to do?
KAYE: Fifty thousand bucks.
FOREMAN: Fifty thousand dollars.
FOREMAN: Oh, well. We're No. 1.
Next, Black Friday bargains. We'll bring you tips, tricks and the truth about all those sales so you can actually be a smart shopper amid the crowds. Also Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki, is speaking out. Hear what she has to say about the senator's determination to be at President Obama's inauguration.
FOREMAN: While most of us are gearing up for Thanksgiving, some are already lining up, as you can see here in California, camping out for Black Friday deals. And for good reason. Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and in these tough economic times, retailers are hoping we'll spend some money. They're doing all sorts of things with price wars and bargain discounts to try to lure you in.
So just how good are the deals out there? In a very practical and fun-loving sense, we want to take a look at some things out here, just to get you ready for that.
Electronics this year is always -- it's always a big deal. It's going to be very big this year. Up to 70 percent of the shoppers say one of the things they're going after is electronics. And this is actually going to be a very big year for HDTV sets. You can get a, you know, smaller set or a much bigger one, depending on how you want to go about it.
Prices on these have dropped very dramatically. About a decade ago, the price was between $6,000 and $12,000 for an HDTV. Today the average price for a 42-inch, which is a little bigger than this, is about $1,300.
However, there's some things you should be aware of. One, be a little bit careful about the bundle deal, whether they put in a Blu- Ray player or something else. Make sure it's something that you want. That's what we're told by the folks at "Consumer Reports." And one other thing you may not think of: think about the cables involved, because they can be very expensive.
Clothing, there's some big deals out there right now. Neimann Marcus on Black Friday is going to let you spend $100 between 9 a.m. and noon. If you do you get a $50 gift card.
We've got Lord & Taylor. On Black Friday, the first 500 customers will get a $200 gift card, which is valid until 1 p.m.
At Eddie Bauer, on Black Friday, 30 percent off of everything until noon, 25 percent off for the rest of the day. Those are some pretty good buys, if you want to go that way.
If you're looking to get one of these electronic readers, very popular this year. It may be a little bit complex, because the Kindle is doing very well, but there are new ones on -- coming online at any moment now, including this one from Barnes & Noble called Nook. The problem is, this is already sold out. You can't get it right now.
If you're interested in these, you may have to go with the Kindle or one of the earlier versions. But there may be newer ones coming out in 2000 and -- start of the next new year, 2010, as we're told by the folks at "Consumer Reports."
Toys obviously, if you can get these little electronic hamsters, you're the luckiest person in the world. Everybody wants them. They're cheap. They're called a Zhu Zhu. They're hugely popular. This is the toy of the year. Again, if you've got it, you're the winner.
One thing you should bear in mind, even at this time, because we're not too far gone, is Black Friday online. There's still many deals you can find that way, many things you can still order. And many coupons and things which you can download.
Here's some great places to go. One is called Dealio.com. If you go to Dealio.com, which for some reason is not going anywhere right now, and if you go to some of the other ones -- RetailMeNot is another site -- Dealio.com and RetailMeNot. You may find an awful lot of deals out there that can help you save some money this holiday season, as everybody needs to.
As I said, just a little practical advice to take with you.
And we're one day away from the "CNN Heroes" tribute. That's our big news here. Next, Anderson will take you behind the scenes of that very big event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The heroes have just arrived here. They just got into town yesterday. So let's go and meet them. I haven't met them yet. So we're going to say hi.
Hey, guys. How are you? How are you? It's nice to meet you. I'm Anderson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? Welcome.
COOPER: I know. Nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen you on TV.
COOPER: Oh, yes? I've seen you on TV, as well. How are you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Also tonight, a presidential pardon. See what happened when Malia tried to pet the spared bird, in just a bit.
FOREMAN: Tomorrow night, we're giving you a Thanksgiving to remember with CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute to min and women who are changing lives and changing the world. Anderson Cooper hosts the star-studded gala. We'll profile one top ten hero in a moment. But first we wanted to show you a little behind the scenes preview with Anderson.
COOPER: Welcome to the Kodak Theater. We're rehearsing, just getting ready the day before the big event. You can see on stage they're getting ready for one of the musical performers to practice. We have some great musical performances lined up.
We also try to figure out camera angles. There's a lot of different cameras out here. So there's actually cards in all the seats for the different people who are going to be sitting here. Like, this is where Neil Patrick Harris, who's presenting, is going to be. They won't actually look like this. They'll actually be the actual person, not just a picture of them.
But the heroes have just arrived here. They just got into town yesterday. So let's go and meet them. I haven't met them yet. So we'll go and say hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.
COOPER: How are you? Nice to meet you. I'm Anderson. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? Welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen you on TV.
COOPER: Oh, yes, I've seen you on TV, as well.
Have you been inside the theater yet? All right. Well, that will make you nervous, actually. I'm not going to lie about that.
We talked to some of the presenters to find out why they wanted to be here tonight.
GREG KINNEAR, ACTOR: Anderson Cooper threatened me personally to show up here, there'd be trouble. So here I am. The idea is a very simple one. People have done amazing things. And to honor them in this forum is kind of exciting.
PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR: This whole show is inspirational. I saw it last year, and I was just inspired, touched, moved.
COOPER (voice-over): It takes an army to put heroes into motion. And this is the guy who's commanding the troops, Joel Gallan is the executive producer, and he's also the director.
JOEL GALLAN, EXECUIVE PRODUCER: I'm here for my third year doing the broadcast of probably the most important show I produce. I think we got a special show. I think this is going to be the best one of the three. We have Brianna Lewis (ph). We have Carrie Underwood. And we have Maxwell, all singing songs that are themed around sort of the message of the show: helping people, changing the world.
COOPER: As you can see, there are many people here who are making this special evening possible. All of us are working to help celebrate the lives of everyday people who are making extraordinary differences in the world. Join us as we honor them this Thanksgiving night.
FOREMAN: Well, you saw Anderson meet the heroes there. Now we want to introduce you to one of our heroes. Andrea Ivory is a breast cancer survivor on a really extraordinary mission . She's going door to door, 20,000 doors and counting, to sign up uninsured women for free mammograms. Andrea shares with us why she's dedicating her life to saving other lives.
ANDREA IVORY, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: I had cancer. I have health insurance. But throughout my treatment and recovery, I was thinking about those women who didn't have health insurance. I thought about those women that were dying from breast cancer because they lacked access to available treatment and awareness. It was right then and there, throughout my recovery, I just knew that I had to make a difference in their lives.
Good morning, everyone.
Every woman, regardless of her ability to pay, has a right to benefit from the early detection of breast cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing they notice is probably her hair: always perfectly done.
IVORY: Florida Breast Health Initiative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The second thing you notice about Andrea is she's very stubborn.
IVORY: Please, let me make an appointment for you. It's so convenient.
They don't have health insurance, we'll give them free screenings. OK?
I knew that we had to have an unconventional approach. If we could bring the services to them, in their neighborhood, that makes all the difference in the world. We go to neighborhoods that are forgotten.
Has anybody in your family had breast cancer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mother.
IVORY: Your mother had breast cancer. And how's she doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She passed away when I was 7.
IVORY: One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went through a lot when we found out about the lump she had on her breast. My mom went into the hospital, and they didn't -- they didn't accept her because she didn't have insurance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very scary. If I have to go through chemotherapy or anything else, how will I afford that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I introduced Andrea to my mom. She got us the free mammogram. When we got that phone call that the mammogram came back negative, that was one of the best moments of my life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just happy.
IVORY: If you could tell me that we would be visiting 20,000 homes or we would have helped over 600 women, I would have told you I wasn't part of that.
How many appointments did you make? Great. Get out of here!
When I talk to my volunteers or when I go knock on the door and talk to a woman, it's almost like an out of body experience, it's not really me, it's someone else speaking to them because I would have never done this years ago. Are you coming back next week? Do you feel the power? I feel the power.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She put faith in me and people. Now today I have faith in people. We need more people to care for other people.
IVORY: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I never asked why me. Instead, I asked what for?
FOREMAN: A remarkable woman and one of CNN's heroes for 2009. Watch "CNN Heroes," the all-star tribute, tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. A great way to wrap up your Thanksgiving day.
Up next, the "Shot of the Day.
FOREMAN: Ted Kennedy's widow is speaking out for the first time since the senator's death. Vicki Kennedy sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an emotional interview that covered everything from what she called an old-fashioned courtship with Senator Kennedy to the rumors that she plans to run for office.
Mrs. Kennedy also talked about her husband's determination to attend President Obama's inauguration.
VICKI KENNEDY, WIDOW: He was just training to be there in January.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he?
KENNEDY: Oh, no, serious training. He was exercising every single day to be strong enough to be there. He was, every night, he was doing laps of walking to be there, because he had figured out how many steps there were going to be to go down to be there, so that he would be as physically fit as he could be to be able to walk, to be there. Oh, no, he was absolutely determined.
FOREMAN: As for the rumors that Vicki plans to run for her late husband's Senate seat, she told Oprah, quote, "We had one Senator Kennedy in the household." And the Senate is not for her now.
A lot more going on tonight as well. A busy night for Randi Kaye, of course, who is back with a "360 Bulletin."
KAYE: Famed movie director and alleged molester Roman Polanski could soon get out of a Swiss prison. A Swiss justice minister has granted bail. The price of freedom: $4.5 million.
But he'll still be under house arrest. U.S. officials are still trying to get Polanski extradited to California, where he skipped out on charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl back in 1977.
To New Haven, Connecticut, now where a federal judge has ordered city officials to promote 14 white firefighters. The men had sued after the city case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
And here in New York, in the middle of a recession, a textbook case of inflation. Filling the giant helium balloons for tomorrow's Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. There's Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear and many others who will take the new twistier route south through midtown. The balloon handlers have five turns to make this year, three more than last year, and it looks like the weather will cooperate.
FOREMAN: That will be fun. Time for "The Shot." Tonight, a Thanksgiving tradition, Randi, the official presidential pardon of the White House turkey. It was President Obama's first time, and the first daughters had a front row seat. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You know, there's certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this, where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland.
But every single day I am thankful for the extraordinary responsibility that the American people have placed in me. Now, before this turkey gets too nervous, that bowl will escape and screw up this pardon, or before I change my mind, I hereby pardon Courage so that he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquility in Disneyland.
All right, the official gesture. Courage, you are hereby pardoned. You will live in Disneyland.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like a large chicken. OBAMA: He is like a large chicken.
KAYE: That was pretty cute.
FOREMAN: Well, that was cute. And it got us thinking about other turkey pardons, including one that went horribly wrong. Remember, Randi, Sarah Palin's unfortunate photo op during last year's presidential campaign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Oh, well, this was -- this was neat. I was happy to get to be invited to participate in this. And, you know, for one, you need a little bit of levity in this job, especially with so much that has gone on in the last couple of months that has been so political, obviously, that it's nice to get out and do something to promote a local business and to just participate in something that isn't so heavy handed politics that it invites criticism.
Certainly will probably invite criticism for doing this too, but at least this was fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Well, we blurred it out there because we were trying to be sensitive, but Randi, do you remember this thing?
FOREMAN: He's like grinding up a turkey behind her in a big turkey grinder.
KAYE: It's brutal. I like the president's turkey much better than that one.
FOREMAN: I don't even know where you get a good turkey grinder these days.
KAYE: Oh, my.
FOREMAN: Any way.
KAYE: What about your turkey call? I know you have a good turkey call. Are we not going to hear that tonight?
FOREMAN: No, you're not going to hear the turkey call. Maybe next year.
KAYE: You're not going to give it to us? Darn.
FOREMAN: We're going to move on.
KAYE: He was doing it during the commercial breaks, everybody. Just so you know.
FOREMAN: You can submit your "Shot" ideas at ac360.com. Of course, we're always happy to see them.
Coming up at the top of the hour, breaking news. They didn't just breach etiquette or protocol; they breached security. White House security. The state dinner crashers, how they did it, why Joe Biden was smiling last night, and why nobody is smiling now.
FOREMAN: Good evening. I'm Tom Foreman in for Anderson Cooper. Tonight, we have breaking news. It may have been a stunt, but it was also a breach of security at the highest levels of government.