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Huntsman Enters GOP Race; 43 Storms Hammer Nebraska; Four Injured in Speedway Crash; Soldier Surprises Son at Game; Obama Details Afghan Drawdown; Tracy Morgan Back in Nashville
Aired June 21, 2011 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's just before 10:00 a.m. on the East Coast and 7:00 a.m. out West. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Kyra Phillips.
Five days after disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner announced he would quit, it becomes official. Today a resignation letter ends this chapter of his sexting scandal.
And this morning London police say they've arrested a 19-year- old for hacking Sony and its gaming company. More than 2 million accounts were compromised and Sony says the attack cost it more than $170 million.
First Lady, Michelle Obama in South Africa, meeting with young women who are leaders there. CNN has confirmed that she has already visited former South African president, Nelson Mandela.
Right now, another Republican launching a bid for the White House. Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah who once worked in the Obama administration says that he will try to wrestle the job from his former boss.
Our Jim Acosta is right there in Liberty State Park, new Jersey. So Jim, this is Huntsman's first big event. As we know, he wasn't at the CNN debate, the GOP leadership conference in New Orleans, but he's standing in the same place Ronald Reagan once stood.
Jim, this is Huntsman's first big event. As we know, he was not at the CNN's debate, the GOP Leadership Conference in New Orleans, but he's standing in the same place Ronald Reagan once stood.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right and he's here now, Kyra. I'm going to let pictures speak louder than words here. I'm going to step out of the way. This is part of the stage crafting of this Jon Huntsman announcement event.
As you can see right now, Jon Huntsman, his wife Mary Kay and their children are now walking across the lawn here at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. It's just right across from the Statue of Liberty.
They are walking with their children and this is a big moment for Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, former ambassador to China under President Obama. He would like to beat his old boss and take his boss's job away.
He will have a tough challenge ahead of him. He has only been really testing the political waters for about a month now, and he's in the single digits. So this speech that he has coming up here, Kyra, is a big moment for him.
He has to find a way to excite the conservative base. This base has not been very excited about Jon Huntsman so far, but he does have a resume that many conservatives are now coming to. They like the fact that he cut taxes as governor of Utah.
They like some of the things he did out there, but the question is whether or not, as he put it, he can catch lightning in a bottle. This is part of the stage crafting you see with presidential campaigns.
As you mentioned, Kyra, this is a very important spot for Republicans. This is where Ronald Reagan launched his successful bid for the White House back in 1980. Jon Huntsman hopes he can do the same thing here.
I will throw it back to you, Kyra, in case you have any questions. This is going to be a very interesting race if Jon Huntsman can make a run at it.
Get pass the primaries and go head to head with President Obama. It will be something we have not seen in a very long time, if not ever.
PHILLIPS: Jim, you know, I mean, he is obviously coming up behind you here. If you get a chance to make a shout-out and see if he says anything back, go for it.
He's right behind you there. You know, we talked about his policies, but also even more so kind talked about the character, his interests. He is very interesting.
He rides a motorcycle. He bungee jumps, speaks various languages that's where he caught a lot of attention for how interesting a character he is. Here he is coming up looks like on your right side there, Jim.
ACOSTA: Exactly, I mean, he -- I will step out of the way again. He strikes a very interesting contrast with the president. He was his ambassador to China, but he is going to take the president to task on foreign policy.
He opposed the military action against Libya. He is in favor of reducing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan dramatically. He doesn't think it's in U.S. foreign policy interest to stay there long term.
He is also going to take the president to task on the economy. The speech excerpts of which have been released to us. He is really going to go after the president here on the economy and basically say that what is at stake right now is the future.
And that future generations may not have the confidence that today's generations have and that is in his words, totally un- American. He has been known to sort of take kit gloves to the presidents and he's going to take those gloves off just a little today.
We're going to see him go after the president a bit in the speech. It will be interesting to watch.
PHILLIPS: Let's be realistic here. I mean, it's quite a long shot that he's going to actually replace his former boss in the White House. However, the White House has definitely been watching him, and is it fair to say, you know, that he's feared by his former boss a bit?
ACOSTA: He is the Republican that the White House is concerned about for many reasons, and one is that he has taken some moderate positions on the issues as governor of Utah.
While that is problematic for him during this primary battle against the likes of Michele Bachmann and perhaps Sarah Palin, if he can get the nomination and get to the general election, there are aspects of his record that do worry the White House.
And so it's going to be interesting to watch. You know, they just a couple days ago, David Axelrod, the president's top political adviser, said, well, it would be interesting that Jon Huntsman would be criticizing President Obama on the economy. He was our ambassador just a couple years ago.
He did not say anything about it then. Obviously, when you are the ambassador for the president, you're not going to be challenging his economic policies in public.
So this is a chance really for Jon Huntsman not only to step out of the shadow of Ronald Reagan because he's going to be at the spot here where Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential bit. It will be in a sense away for Jon Huntsman to step out of the shadow of Barack Obama. Kyra --
PHILLIPS: Well, what's next for him after he makes this announcement? Jim, do you know his itinerary?
ACOSTA: He is headed to New Hampshire right after this. He's going to give a brief media availability on his plane as he heads up to New Hampshire. That's a state that he is really banking his candidacy on.
He is not traveling to Iowa. He said he is not going to campaign in Iowa. Obviously thinks that could change, but he feels like that is not where he really should focus his campaign.
Tomorrow, he's going to South Carolina. That's a big conservative test, Kyra, because that is a state that has eaten moderate Republicans alive in the past.
You remember what happened to John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. He was savaged by conservative activists down there and it did not work out too well for John McCain in South Carolina.
So Jon Huntsman has a tough road ahead of him. He's certainly gotten the attention of the news media. He had a "New York Times" magazine article written about him. My colleague, Peter Handy has said that Jon Huntsman has won the magazine profile primer.
He has had a lot of positive pieces written about him. What is key though now is whether or not he can capture the attention of the conservatives in the Tea Party Movement. Those are the folks who are really suspicious of him at this point because of his connections to the president.
From what I understand, looks like Governor Huntsman is making his way toward the podium.
PHILLIPS: Well, no doubt he's going to face a lot of questions about his time working for the president as well, Jim. Here he goes. Looks like he's getting ready to step up to the mic. Let's go ahead and take it live. Jon Huntsman.
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. I'm Jon Huntsman, and I am humbled. I have been a governor of the great state of Utah. I have been a businessman, and I have been a diplomat.
I am the husband of the love of my life, the greatest human being I have ever known, Mary Kate, for 28 years. I am the father of seven terrific kids. I am the son of great parents. Who are here with me today celebrating a very important anniversary, including a birthday.
I am from the American west where the view of America is limitless with lots of blue sky. I have lived overseas four times where the view of America from 10,000 miles away is a picture of liberty, opportunity, and justice.
People secure in their rights and in love with their liberty, people who have done more good for more people than any other nation on earth. And today, I am a candidate for the office of president of the United States of America.
Thank you. Thank you. My kids can't believe I just said that and I am asking for the greatest privilege Americans can bestow on a fellow citizen, and you're entitled to know the reasons why.
You see, today Americans are experiencing through no fault of their own something that is totally alien to them, a sense that the deck is stacked against them by forces totally beyond their control.
No matter how hard they work, save, and plan, the opportunities are not there for them that were present for previous generations. Perhaps saddest of al is we have lost faith in ourselves.
For the first time in history, we're passing down to the next generation a country that is less passionate and less competitive and less confident than the one we got.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American. And it need not, must not, will not be our permanent condition. We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation.
We have the power, we have the means, we have the character to astonish the world again by making from adversity a new and better country this inexhaustible land of promise and opportunity.
You see, we have everything a nation could ever hope for. We have our freedom, we have rule of law, the longest surviving constitution, and our abiding belief. We have freedom of speech, religion and press.
We produce a quarter of the world's GDP and we're the most productive society on earth. We have the finest colleges and universities, and the most skilled powerful and selfless armed forces and we have character, character that made a new world from a wilderness, character that made the desert bloom and the cities rise to the heavens, heavens that made the world safer, freer, and more prosperous.
What we now need is leadership that trusts in our strength. Leadership that doesn't promise Washington has all of the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions from our cities, towns, and states.
Leadership that knows we need more than hope. Leadership that knows we need answers. We must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster. If we don't, in less than a decade, every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt.
Meanwhile, we'll sink deeper into debt for everything else from national security to disaster relief. Our country will fall behind the productivity of other countries. Our influence in the world will wane.
Our security will grow ever more precarious and the 21st Century will then be known as end of the American century.
PHILIPPS: Live from Liberty State Park, New Jersey, high school dropout, ex-governor, and now a presidential candidate. Jon Huntsman says he's in.
Also ahead, mapping out the end of the Afghanistan war, the president outlines his plan for tomorrow. Stay with us.
PHILLIPS: Stories making news cross country in Nebraska, storm chaser caught this amazing video of tornadoes touching down yesterday. Damage was reported in several Nebraska counties. At least 43 tornados and funnel clouds were spotted across the state. In Indiana, four people sent to the hospital when a car jumped a guard rail at a speedway last night. That car flew into the crowd of bystanders. Three people have minor injuries.
In New Hampshire, a soldier home on leave from Iraq had a big surprise for his 8-year-old son. He threw the first pitch to his son in a Little League all-star game yesterday. His son, Kyle, had not seen his dad in six months.
It's the longest war in U.S. history, and tomorrow will mark the beginning of the end. One hundred thousand Americans now serve there in uniform.
President Obama will announce the long awaited details of just how many U.S. troops will begin leaving Afghanistan and when. Our correspondents are working all their sources and getting information today. Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon. So, Chris, what are you finding out?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, an administration officials telling us that what President Obama is going to decide on is that all of that surge, that extra 30,000 troops that he sent to Afghanistan starting in 2009, those will be out of Afghanistan by the end of next year, 2012.
Most likely, what we're hearing from some of our sources on the Hill is that the initial drawdown will be about 10,000 troops. Now we don't know an exact timeframe on that, but it's expected to be possibly by the end of the year.
If that's the case, it's somewhat more troops than what the Pentagon and some military troop officials had hoped for. They were hoping for more in the range of maybe 5,000 troops to go home this year with the rest staying on. Here are some of the rationale why some military officials wanted to keep more troops in the country.
We're having a little bit of technical problems. Basically, to sum it up, the idea behind some of the military thinking was that you would hold off on a big drawdown and some of the troops that you would take out of the south, Kandahar, Helman Province, you would re-divert in the eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban remains very potent and that's been sort of under staff for a very long time.
But again, 5,000 maybe to start, you know, that's what the military was hoping and looks like now from what we're hearing from sources, it may be more like 10,000 to start by the end of the year.
But that's still fewer than what some were calling for. You recall Senator Carl Levin called for up to 15,000 American troops to come home by the end of the year. Kyra --
PHILLIPS: All right, Chris Lawrence, we'll be following that, of course.
And the FDA is revealing new graphic cigarette warning labels. Cigarette packs will carry one of vivid color image and one of nine warnings about the dangers of smoking.
Here's what the warnings include cigarettes are addictive, tobacco smoke can harm your children and smoking can kill you. The warnings will cover the upper portion of the pack both front and back. The new packaging must be in place by September 2012.
Tracy Morgan is back in Nashville, the city where he spewed the anti-gay rant that got him in so much trouble. More on his so-called apology tour.
A brand-new day for Robin Meade. Our favorite HLN morning anchor joins us live to talk about her debut album.
PHILLIPS: Tracy Morgan is making amen's. Here is all the entertainment headlines, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" hosts A.J. Hammer. So where shall we start, how about Tracy Morgan?
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Absolutely, Tracy Morgan in Nashville today, Kyra, to apologize face to face to the people that hurt his homophobic (inaudible) during a comedy show almost three weeks ago. This apology is being organized with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation.
The president of GLAD says that by not only apologizing, but sending a message of support for gay and transgender people. Tracy will help many realize that no one should be treated differently or subjected to violence.
This is yet another step in Morgan's apology tour. On Friday, the "30 Rock" star visited homeless gay, lesbian and transgender teens in New York, and GLAD has announced he's also going to be recording a public service announcement for an upcoming amplifier voice campaign.
The whole controversy only came to light because one audience member posted details on Facebook. And Kyra, we will be speaking to the audience member tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," because we want to get his reaction to this major (inaudible) from Tracy Morgan, but it does he's taking all the right steps here.
PHILLIPS: All right, we'll follow it for sure. Now, Amy Winehouse, A.J., this woman just cannot seem to get it together.
HAMMER: I feel sorry for her and her whole situation. It's supposed to be a big comeback for Amy Winehouse. It's none of that. She is canceling the remainder of her 12-city European comeback tour right now.
This news is not at all surprising after the disaster show in Serbia over the weekend. You're watching it right now. Amy Winehouse getting booed off the stage after forgetting song lyrics and just being a general mess on stage.
You don't want to do that when people are paying good money. Here's what the singer rep is telling "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," everyone involved wishes to do everything they can to help her return to his best and she will be given as long as it takes for this to happen.
And at this stage, I got to tell you. I don't know what's next for Amy Winehouse. She recently left a British rehab program and that was intended to prepare her for these European concerts. Nobody confirmed that she's fallen off the wagon, but Kyra, it's obviously what a lot of people are thinking. I just hope she can get it together because when she's got it together, wow, what a talent.
PHILLIPS: Yes, what a wasted talent when you see this. OK, we always love to end on a little good news. You got an update on Sean Kingston?
HAMMER: Yes, I do. The beautiful girl singer seems to be recovering nicely, Kyra, from his Memorial Day jetski accident. He actually just tweeted a picture of himself from what looks like his hospital and his tweet read, feeling a lot better, and God is great and thank you for all the prayers and support. Love you all.
Now he is still in the hospital, but his rep tells "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," that he was upgraded to fair condition so hopefully he'll be out soon. And it is in my continuing effort, Kyra that I bring you some positive news from the world of entertainment right here on CNN.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, my dear, A.J. We will see you back here tomorrow. If you want everything positive and everything breaking in entertainment, go to A.J. every night "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," 11:00 p.m. on HLN.
And we've got some showbiz action of our own tomorrow after Tom Hanks joins me in the studio to talk about his new movie "Larry Crown." We'll also talk about the news. How does he think President Obama is doing? Tom Hanks, tomorrow morning, 10:40 Eastern Time.
And this week, the president attends a gay fund-raiser in New York, but yesterday, the White House describes his position on same-sex marriage as evolving. The political buzz panel tackles that next.
PHILLIPS: The political buzz, your rapid fire look at the hottest political topics of the day. Three questions, 20 seconds on the clock.
And playing today, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor Errol Louis and conservative political analyst Will Cain.
First question, guys. Republican Jon Huntsman once called President Obama a remarkable leader. Will this compliment or hunt him do you think as campaign continues to take Obama's job, Maria?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I do think it will haunt him because unfortunately the GOP lives in an era where moderates are not basically given any leeway.
And what's going to be interesting is that his opponents and the ultra conservative right wing will think that he broke the core conservative rule because what did he do? He worked for in their eyes a socialist radical black Muslim president.
WILL CAIN, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think it will help because he is spotting that perception that he's a moderate, that's he's a rhino. That he's Obama's buddy for accepting the ambassadorship to China.
I think it's BS by the way. I don't think it should be held against him. I'd rather judge a candidate not on his animosity to Obama, but his disagreement and I think Huntsman has plenty of that.
ERROL LOUIS, POLITICS ANCHOR, NEW YORK 1 NEWS: He will certainly have a problem with this. He told the nation that he was a remarkable leader and now a few minutes ago, he said the situation is totally unacceptable. What changed? He will have to explain that over and over again, a real problem for a candidate.
PHILLIPS: All right, guys, this week the president attends a gay fund-raiser in New York. No he has come forward and said his position on gay marriage is constantly, quote, unquote, "evolving." Would his support of same-sex marriage be a political win, Will?
CAIN: He wouldn't be doing it if it weren't, Kyra. I mean, listen, I don't begrudge people the ability to change their mind, but I have a hard time respecting someone who's position evolves in tandem with public opinion polls. That makes him look as principled as a weather vane. I don't like it.
CARDONA: I think it will be a political win for him, Kyra, because I don't agree with Will because unfortunately, or fortunately, everybody in America is going through that same evolution. I do think it's credible for him to have said that. So, if he does this, he will light a fire of support not just in the gay/lesbian community and with young people who think that this is and issue that is a relic of the past --
CARDONA: I think it will be a win for him.
LOUIS: Well, it's great if you want to win the five states where same-sex marriage is legal, which have a total of about 31 electoral votes. If you want the other 240 electoral votes, you're going to have to do something else. The game the president is playing is similar to what Ronald Reagan did with the anti-abortion forces. He was with him, he was with them, he was with them, but somehow he never did very much for them. I think that's what we're seeing at work here.
PHILLIPS: All right, guys. Final question. Keith Olbermann teaming up with Al Gore to take over liberal media. Who is more nervous, MSNBC or Fox? Maria?
CARDONA: I think it should be Fox. And frankly, all of the conservative platforms because you have Al Gore, Keith Olbermann, two giants on the liberal side. They're going to be voicing the liberal voice very, very hard.
CAIN: That's absolutely laughable, Maria! Fox, yes. They're real nervous about another cable channel splitting up into smaller piece -
CARDONA: They should be!
CAIN: -- of the pie, the liberal piece of the pie. That's laughable!
PHILLIPS: Errol, are you laughing?
LOUIS: Well, I will tell you, your number one host goes to a rival channel and knows the names of the people he wants to target and make fun of. I think MSNBC, if anybody is going to be worried, it ought to be them.
PHILLIPS: Maria, Will, Errol, thank you so much, you guys.
Well, a bit of chest bumping in the nation's capital. House Speaker John Boehner wants an end to the U.S. involvement in Libya, but the president, well, not budging. Our Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill.
So, Dana, do we know when Boehner is planning a vote on funding this mission?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. The Republican leadership in the House, Kyra, has not decided exactly where they're going to go. What's really fascinating is that it's not so much just about not wanting the mission in Libya, because the House speaker has said that in general, maybe it's not so bad.
The issue is, you know, is the whole idea of the War Powers Act, and the fact that there is increasing anger on both sides of the aisle that the president of the United States said he does not believe he needs congressional authority to go ahead and continue this mission in Libya.
But we're told to look for - they're probably going to make some decisions today, but we're told to look for a couple of votes, maybe, on Thursday to use the power of the purse to limit the mission. Just to give members of Congress a way to channel their frustration with the president.
One option, I'm told is maybe to say that the money can't be used for ground troops. Now, there are no ground troops in Libya, but it would be a way just to have members of Congress to make a statement that we are basically saying something about this mission, which the president doesn't think that he needs Congress to say something on.
PHILLIPS: All right. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Thank you.
Coming up, HLN morning host and now country music sensation debuting her new album. The ever so beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, amazing --
ROBIN MEADE, HLN HOST, "MORNING EXPRESS": Stop, stop, no more!
PHILLIPS: Robin Meade! Ha!
PHILLIPS: I have to do the little thing. It's off the brand-new album, "Brand New Day." That's "Dirty Laundry." It's a Don Henley song, as you probably know. But the singer on this cut is our very own Robin Meade.
So, I'm curious --
MEADE: Hi, Kyra!
PHILLIPS: How you doing?
MEADE: I'm good! Welcome back, by the way.
PHILLIPS: I have to do the Robin Meade sexy sit here.
MEADE: Now, this is the skinny sit. It's the most uncomfortable thing, and honey, it looks good on TV.
PHILLIPS: And the album sounds good, too. So, did you hear from Don Henley, by chance? Did he say, "Not bad, Robin?".
MEADE: I did not. Here's what we did.
I don't know if in music, you actually have to tell the person that you are covering it, covering your song. But we sent a cut rough vocal, like when we first decided to do a cover of this song. We did send it off to him, and I asked if you would like to make a cameo appearance in this song, I would be so happy to have you. And he graciously sent it back and said a no.
PHILLIPS: Oh, Don! MEADE: He turned it down!
PHILLIPS: Oh, I'm so disappointed!
MEADE: Well, it's funny that - I think people will look at this -- this is one of two covers on an album of 12 cuts. And I co-wrote six of the 12 songs. But I didn't want people to buy a CD. And - what do you do when you buys a CD? You look at it and you automatically turn it over and look to see if you recognize anything! Well, if they're all original songs, you're not going to recognize anything. So, I put two covers on here. One of them being "Dirty Laundry" because I thought people for one would go, "She's singing a song that kind of makes fun of the news!"
PHILLIPS: I was going to say, that totally rips TV news! What were you thinking?
MEADE: A little bit. But I also didn't want to avoid what I do for a living. I mean, this is what I'm known for. So, let's just come at it head on and kind of do a little tongue-and-cheek wink about it! Yes.
And when I listened to the song, I thought it was pretty contemporary still.
PHILLIPS: All right. Now, full disclosure, and I don't know if we can get a shot of Robin's shoes here, but she's known here at CNN for her sexy shoes. As a matter of fact, I have taken pictures of her feet before and sent them out - yes I have - including to my man, who always says, "That Robin Meade. Oh my goodness."
So, what does she do? She writes a song about high heels. Let's take a little listen here. OK.
PHILLIPS: Very (INAUDIBLE).
MEADE: Yes. When I go and put my high heels on. There was a song I just felt like, when we wake up in the morning, we women, half the things don't fit. You would rather go back to bed, but your put on the high heels, and now you're ready to kick arse, right?
PHILLIPS: Now you're looking good? You know, gravity, you know, everything just changes. Everything just sort of slims up when you put those high heels on, right?
MEADE: It's funny because I co-wrote that song with John Rich of Big'N'Rich.
PHILLIPS: Oh, yes, I love country music as do you!
MEADE: Yes, so you know who I'm talking about. And he won "Celebrity Apprentice" recently. And I asked him to sing the background tracks on this, and he was like, "I am not singing I put my high heels on." So, he's on the album singing prominent background vocal on another cut.
PHILLIPS: Yes, and if you have not seen her perform in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, that was amazing. You just performed again last week, too, right? This is your second time in Nashville performing?
MEADE: I did perform at the Grand Ole Opry, and it's such a special experience because you are asked to be there. And then you almost feel like the ghosts of the pasts, all the people who performed there before, whether it's Patsy Cline or people who still perform there. Like, gosh, Loretta Lynn, and you are up in the same circle that they stood in and performing!
PHILLIPS: Feel the spirit! Well, it's pretty amazing. And I'll add, she got a standing ovation, also folks.
Well, the new album once again, "Brand New Day." It's fun! We were all listening to it.
It was great to have you on, Robin.
MEADE: Thank you so much! I appreciate it! And you know what? We don't want to just talk, yammer on about ourselves.
On this show, I wanted to tell folks on HLN on the morning show, that we're actually inviting people to write their own theme song for our show. And the winner will win a professional recording session to record that song, and it could possibly be the new theme song for our show.
So, it's about making you the star! You're a star.
PHILLIPS: Wow, what a great idea! OK, reach out. There you go! Robin Meade on HLN's "Morning Express" every morning. And this is kind of - well, you overlap an hour with me. We should do, you know, together. We should air - you know. Anyway, all right -
MEADE: What would we call it. "The Sweetie Sisters!"
PHILLIPS: Oh, I like that! I just wish I could sing as well as you. Our Robin Meade. Thanks so much for stopping in.
MEADE: Thank you, Kyra. Appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: You bet.
Also, we don't want you to miss this, of course. Actor Tom Hanks is actually going to join me in studio tomorrow. He is going to be talking about his new movie, "Larry Crowne." We're also going to talk about the news. How does he think President Obama is doing? We'll ask him. Tom Hanks, tomorrow morning, 10:40 Eastern time.
All right, some other stories making news. "Cross-Country," a man walk into a North Carolina bank, tells the teller it's a robbery and asked for one dollar. Then sits down and waits for the police. Turns out he wanted to go to jail for the free medical treatment. He has lots of health problems, he says, but no insurance.
Two firefighters killed battling a blaze near Jacksonville, Florida. Officials thought the wildfire was contained, but it flared up again yesterday.
And ahead of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a commemorative anniversary coin has been unveiled. The head's site actually shows the Statue of Liberty and the words "Always Remember." The flip side, an eagle with the words "Honor and Hope."
Looking for an overseas investment? Cash-strapped Greece up for sale. Our Zain Verjee up on that in four minutes.
PHILLIPS: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answering questions with regard to Afghanistan and the drawdown of troops. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I have quite a bit to say and a lot of questions to answer. So at that time, I will certainly respond to your concerns that you raised in the question.
With respect to Saudi Arabia and the ban on women driving, let me start by saying that this is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together, they are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave, and what they are seeking is right.
But the effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I --
PHILLIPS: Let me just set the scene for you for just a second as we stay on these live pics of the secretary of state. Basically, we were waiting to se if she had anything to say with regard to the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. You know, we've had a pretty good sense of what (INAUDIBLE) has to say about it, what he thinks about it. He's actually with her at this live presser. They are meeting with Japan's defense and foreign ministers.
We were waiting to see if she had anything to say, hasn't really said a lot, or at least recently with regard to troops leaving Afghanistan. She is still holding off on making any comments until the president of the United States makes his official speech on the issue.
So, we are following this meeting, obviously, with her, with Gates and Japan's defense and foreign ministers. If there is any news to report, we surely will take it live and let you know what they have to say.
All right. Get out those checkbooks, OK? Because Greece is holding a bit of a fire sale. The government is about to sell off billions of dollars of state assets. No joke. Zain Verjee joining us from London with more. It's sort of weird when you read the headlines saying Greece is up for sale. We probably should talk about why they're doing this.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I know. It really is, but it's such a serious situation. Basically, Greece has to raise $70 billion in privatization before the year 2015. So, what they're doing is they're looking at all their state assets. They want to sell them in order to reduce the big debt that they have.
So, let's see what kind of assets they are talking about. What is up for sale? You're talking its state-owned power company. Ports, highways, the old airports, its telcom operator. The state-controlled bank. All of this, Kyra, is part of meeting conditions in order that Greece gets the bailout cash that they really need.
So, who is going to buy? Well, it looks like the Chinese are already interested, the Qataris and many other emerging countries, too, are interested in buying some of these assets that are up for sale.
There is one complaint, though, Kyra that the European Union who's going to be giving Greece this bailout cash has. And they're saying, look, we need a timeline. When exactly is all of this going to happen? They want the Greeks to come out with it soon.
PHILLIPS: And there are dangers of selling its state assets?
VERJEE: Yes, there is. You know, there are a couple of thins to keep in mind here. The first is that there may be resistance from the Greeks themselves who don't really want to see their state assets sold off on the cheap. And the other thing too is that when you are privatizing and restructuring your assets, often that will mean ultimately unemployment. And the Greeks don't want that to happen because they are being hit so hard and that will for a second round of austerity measures that have to be done with the higher taxes, government cuts in spending the loss of jobs.
PHILLIPS: Zain Verjee out of London. Zain, thanks.
And a baseball team is going old school. The Florida Marlins have brought back 80-year-old Jack McKeon to manage the team! He actually led the Marlins to a World Series title in 2003. The team has one win this month. McKeon says he wants to manage until he's 95. And it sounds like he won't be missed much at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK MCKEON, FLORIDA MARLINS MANAGER: My wife was probably happy to get me out of the house.
MCKEON: I miss my buddy, my dog, though. And that's the only one that I miss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, McKeon isn't changing his ways. On day one, he actually benched Marlin's star shortstop, Ramirez. Source says Ramierez showed up late for McKeon's first meeting with the team. Bad move. The Marlins lost McKeon's first game back last night.
PHILLIPS: La Toya Jackson, convinced her brother, Michael Jackson - well, she's convinced he was murdered. She's actually speaking out on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." We'll have a preview when we come back.
PHILLIPS: And some stories developing today. It's the start of summer. Almost. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year official begins 1:16 Eastern.
And at 4:30 Eastern Time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the White House for a meeting with President Obama.
And here's something for Jackson Five fans. Jermaine Jackson says that the brothers are working on a reunion tour.
PHILLIPS: Jermaine Jackson says that singing the music is healing for the Jackson brothers and Michael would want them to continue on. Jackson helped unveil wax statues of his brother yesterday at Madame Trousseau's in Hollywood. Saturday marks the second anniversary of Michael Jackson's death.
And La Toya Jackson renewing her explosive charge that her brother Michael Jackson was murdered. She tells our Piers Morgan that Michael knew he had been targeted and feared for his life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LA TOYA JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S SISTER: Michael told me that they were going to murder him. He was afraid. He was afraid for his life.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Who was going to murder him?
JACKSON: The people that were involved in his life. The people that were controlling him. This book "Starting Over" is about my life and it's about Michael's life. It's the parallel between the two of our lives. We shared that same life where people come into your life, wiggle their way in, control you, manipulate, control your funds, your finances, everything that you have and you must do what they tell you to do.
And that's what Michael was going through and he knew that everything that was happening to him was not kosher, wasn't right. And it disturbed him greatly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: And you can watch La Toya Jackson on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" on CNN, 9:00 Eastern Time.
In the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with Suzanne Malveaux, we're taking a hard look at the FDA's new cigarette package warnings and we want to hear from you. Are they effective or is the government going too far? That's coming up at the top of the hour.
PHILLIPS: And checking top stories. Flooding in eastern China creating a huge problem. A major reservoir is at risk of overflowing due to the torrential, seasonal rains. At least 175 people have died from flooding so far this month.
And May 22nd, that tornado that roared across against Joplin, Missouri, well it claims another victim. A man that survived with injuries has died. The death toll now at 155. That twister was the deadliest single tornado in decades.
And former Utah governor Jon Huntsman joins a crowded field of Republicans seeking the office of president. He made that announcement just about 25 minutes ago, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Huntsman warned the country is facing an un-American future.
Well, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said he will not run for president in 2012. Well, a new poll of his state's voters says that they don't want him taking the bottom of the GOP ticket either.
Senior political editor Mark Preston has that story for us -- Mark.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey Kyra. Yes, there's been a lot of talk about Chris Christie running for president and there's been a lot of national talk about it.
But as you said, a new poll out today shows that New Jersey voters are not that enamored with their governor. In fact, as you said, they don't even want him to be on the Republican ticket. In fact, 61 percent of New Jersey voters in this Quinnipiac University poll say that they don't want him to be the Republican vice presidential nominee.
But even worse is the approval rating in the state right now at its all-time low. It's at 44 percent. And where his problem really lies, let's take a look at these numbers right here, is with women. Only 36 percent of women approve of the way he's doing his job. Conversely, though, 53 percent of men, Kyra, think he's doing a good job.
So I think Chris Christie is probably doing the right thing right now, focusing on his own state and not thinking about running for president, Kyra. PHILLIPS: Here's a name that we talked a lot about but haven't heard much from. Christine O'Donnell, the Delaware Republican who made headlines by winning the state's Republican primary last year.
PRESTON: Yes. I'm not a witch, right? Remember that, Kyra?
PHILLIPS: Yes, can't forget that famous TV ad.
PRESTON: You can't forget that. That might have been the highlight for all of us, certainly we all got a good laugh out of it.
Well, Christine O'Donnell has just finished a good book now, Kyra. It's called, "Troublemaker, Let's do What it Takes to Make America Great." Very interesting title, "Troublemaker," because she caused a lot of heartburn for the Republican establishment when she won that Delaware primary.
But in this book she pledges to talk about how she got into the rough and tumble world of politics. She says that her own advisers thought that she was to open about her own life in politics. And, yes, she says she will discuss the famous ad, the I am not a witch ad. And as our viewers, we'll just give them a little reminder about that. She was once on "Politically Incorrect" a long time ago with Bill Maher and she said she dabbled into witch craft.
So she says that she's not a witch and she's going to explain it in this new book -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: OK. Mark Preston. Thanks so much.
We're going to have your next political update in just about an hour. And a reminder, for all the latest political news, you can go to our web site, CNNpolitics.com.
That does it for us. I'm going to now toss it over to Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: She is not a witch, she is an author.
PHILLIPS: She's an author and she's going to explain it in the book.
MALVEAUX: I think we should write books.
PHILLIPS: Oh, that could be scary.
MALVEAUX: What we could tell, the secrets.
PHILLIPS: The things, the shadows that lurk. Have a great show.