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Herman Cain Is Suspending his Campaign; President Obama Is Asking Congress To Renew Unemployment Insurance; Band Drummer Died of Hazing in A&M University; Jerry Sandusky Speaks Out; Military Homecomings from Iraq; Egypt's First Post Mubarak Election

Aired December 3, 2011 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Topping the news this hour, Herman Cain has suspended his presidential campaign. That means he can continue to raise money but he is effectively out of the race. Cain has been battling serious image problems. He's accused of sexual misconduct and have a 13-year extramarital affair. Here is how Cain ended his campaign.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So as of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.


WHITFIELD: Given the recent accusations of extramarital affairs, was this Cain's best recourse? CNN's Wolf Blitzer joining us now on the phone from Hollywood, Florida. So Wolf, was this Cain's best option?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (ONE THE PHONE): You know, under the circumstances, he really didn't have any other choice. His poll numbers had really gone down over the past few weeks since the first allegations of sexual harassment by four separate women came forward and when this other woman alleged a 13-year extramarital affair. The money was drying up, the poll numbers were going down. In October, he was in the mid-20s among Republican likely caucus goers in Iowa. Now he's down to eight percent, some were suggesting he was going down to four percent. So it looked like it was all over. And it obviously is all over.

Technically, it's a suspension so he can continue to raise some money for legal reasons. But he's already made it clear, he's going to announce his endorsement of the Republican candidates fairly soon. So he'll still be a player on the sidelines. He'll still have a role. He'll still be involved but he's not going to be a Republican presidential candidate. He's not going to be participating in the caucuses or the primaries. He won't be in any more of the debates. He'll just go on with his life.

WHITFIELD: And in fact, Wolf, he promises that he is still going to be involved. He says he's going to be the voice for the citizen movement, a voice for the Tea Party movement, he'll continue to be a voice for the people. And he is launching a campaign. How might he continue his mantra, his messages by way of this campaign? How might he infiltrate another campaign perhaps?

BLITZER: Well, if he endorses - let's say he endorses Newt Gingrich and I suspect there's a good chance he will. They established a good relationship over these past several months. Let's say he does. You know he still has a lot of supporters out there who could swing. I suspect most of the supporters are not going to go to Mitt Romney. This is probably going to be a negative for Mitt Romney and a plus for Newt Gingrich if it turns out to be two-man (INAUDIBLE). A lot of the independents are already suggesting it might turn out to be.

But he's going to have the same type of influence as an outsider. Let's say if a Sarah Palin or a Mike Huckabee or some of the other potential candidates could have had if they were to jump in. He's still going to have his Web site and he's still going to go out there speaking, no doubt. He'll be on television. Maybe at some point he'll even get a sort of funded type of show on television on the cable channels or whatever. So he'll still be a player in that sense. But he's not going to be a Republican presidential candidate. So he's not going to be eligible to get the Republican presidential nomination. People won't be voting for him. But he'll still got a lot of supporters, he will still have influence. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

WHITFIELD: All right. Herman Cain suspending his presidential campaign. Wolf Blitzer, thanks so much from Hollywood, Florida.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney was in New Hampshire trying to dispel any notion that he is taking the state support for granted. Romney's campaign dispatched hundreds of volunteers, including himself, going door to door there trying to win the voter support. Romney pounding the pavement there.

And for the latest political news, you know exact where to go, And join us every Sunday afternoon at 4:00 Eastern time when we dedicate a special hour to the presidential contenders in the 2012 election.

In other news now, U.S. marshals in Arkansas found singer Mindy McCready and her five-year-old son. Officials say they were hiding in a closet at a lake home. McCready earlier this week defied a court order to return the boy to his grandmother. McCready's mother and stepfather have legal custody of the boy. The singer who has fought a very public battle against drug addiction has visitation rights.

And former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is giving his side of the child molestation story. He says he never had sexual contact with young boys. Sandusky sat down with "The New York Times" for nearly four hours. He defended his work with children which he says has been twisted to appear sexual.


JERRY SANDUSKY, FMR. PENN STATE ASSISTANT COACH: If I say, no, I'm not attracted to boys, that's not the truth because I'm attracted to young people, boys, girls -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but not sexually, you're attracted because you enjoy spending time -

SANDUSKY: Right, I enjoy. That's what I was trying to say. I enjoy spending time with young people. I enjoy spending time with people. I mean, my two favorite groups are the elderly and the young.


WHITFIELD: And the voice you heard in the background is Sandusky's attorney. Sandusky is accused of 40 counts of molesting boys.

Jim Boeheim says he is sorry. The Syracuse University head basketball coach says he was speaking out of loyalty when he defended his former assistant coach against child sex abuse allegations.


JOE BOEHEIM, SYRACUSE HEAD BASKETBALL COACH: I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made. I shouldn't have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that. And I regret any harm that I caused.


WHITFIELD: Syracuse's longtime assistant coach, Bernie Fine, was fired in the face of accusations he sexually abused several young boys.

There is a high wind warning again for parts of the Los Angeles area today. The annual Santa Ana winds have been especially strong this year. They've knocked down trees and brought down parts of buildings and power lines you see crashing down on homes as well. More than 96,000 customers are still without power after this week's hurricane- force winds.

And welcome home, no sweeter words are ever spoken on an American military base. The Fort Hood troops are home. But this time it's different. We'll explain.

This woman ran out of retirement savings at the age of 68. Valorie Burton is here with a simple plan to help all of us try to avoid this woman's fate.


WHITFIELD: It's the moment so many military families long await. Welcome home, they yelled there. This is Ft. Hood this morning in Texas. Families finally greeting their soldiers who just arrived from combat deployment in Iraq.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is there and tells us why this homecoming is a particularly special one. CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I know you've seen a lot of these homecomings and you know, it just never gets old. But the thing that makes this one so special is, for a lot of these troops, in the case of Iraq, there is no next time.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): It's really hard to describe the emotion that was going on here before the troops arrived. I mean kids were running around, jumping up and down. They had so much excitement, anticipation of the families. It's been a long 10 months. And then all of a sudden, the smoke starts coming out and the gate rises up, and the soldiers come out like rock stars, literally, the crowd is screaming. Everyone tried to make the speeches very, very short because the highlight was seeing these troops rush into the arms of their loved ones, hugging, kissing, trying to catch up over what's been missed over the last 10 months.

MICHELLE FREY, WIFE OF RETURNING SOLDIER: A lot has gone on. We put our first one in preschool, our first one in high school. Yes, it's big, you know. And we put one in college this year. So it has been a very long 10 months. Glad it's over.

MAJ. MIKE IANUCHILLI, U.S. ARMY: There's a sense of peace knowing that it's one less opportunity for us to be separated from our families. We know we still have our operations going on in Afghanistan, another contingency operation as they come up. But to know that what has consumed so much of our careers recently as a profession, to know that that's not there looming over us is certainly peace of mind.


LAWRENCE: So the troops have to report for reintegration training, basically learning how to acclimate back home to their families and like that. Then they get about 30 days leave to just kick back, spend time with the family and maybe let it sink in that they were some of the last troops to walk out of Iraq and that for the United States, the war there is over. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Chris Lawrence, reporting from Ft. Hood, Texas.

All right. Now to international headlines, early results are in from Egypt's first post-Mubarak election. The Islamist Party tied to the Muslim Brotherhood is making a very dramatic advance claiming 40 percent of the vote after the first of several rounds of campaigning for Egypt's parliament seats. The election for president is tentatively slated for June.

Vice president Joe Biden is in Turkey today. He urged those attending a business summit to further open private enterprise and work to widen internet access around the world. Biden travels to Greece tomorrow.

And some Iranian diplomats are back in Iran today. The British government ordered them out of London in retaliation for this week's attack on Britain's embassy in Iran.

All right. One woman's story is a real wake-up call for millions. At the age of 68, she ran out of her retirement money. We'll have a step-by-step plan so that you don't end up retired and penniless.

But first, tomorrow, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is celebrating robot week on his new show, "The Next List." On the "Next List," Dr. Gupta profiles special individuals like social roboticist, Heather Knight.


HEATHER KNIGHT, SOCIAL ROBOTICIST: My name is Heather Knight and I'm a social roboticist. A social roboticist is someone that makes robots that can interact with people in a human way. When I tell people that I make robots, they're usually initial like, "Oh, wow, that's really cool." And when I tell people I make social robots, usually they're a little bit confused at first. I found it the best way to talk about what I actually do is by example.


WHITFIELD: All right. Tune in tomorrow to watch "The Next List" or set your DVR for 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.


WHITFIELD: First a look at our top stories straight ahead, including the plight millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits might be cut off prematurely, one man's story and the reason behind the time crunch coming up.

All right. First, a look at jobs and uncertainty through the eyes of baby boomers. Millions of them are entering into their retirement years but will continue working for one simple reason, they have to. Many face the terrifying prospect of running out of money in their declining years.


BETTY WONG TOMITA: No matter what your spouse or partner says to you, save your money for retirement. I listened and I shouldn't have. My name is Betty Wong Tomita. At this time, I'm 68 years old. I'm fortunate enough to work as a part-time recruiter at City Harvest. Am I worried? Am I apprehensive of my future? Yes.

If 50-something-year-olds have a problem looking a job, a woman past 65 is not really not going to have much choices. So I thought, well, I'll muddle through. I'll try to cut my expenses as much as I can. That was my solution to my problems. It's hard to move down from what you're used to. But I had to do that.

I don't want to be a burden to my son. I lived through taking care of my mother through her declining years. And I have a sister and a brother. The three of us shared the responsibility. I only have one son. I don't want to put on him what the three of us had to face. And I don't know how to go about it. And frankly speaking, hope that I'll be killed in a car accident. That's the best that I can hope for. I'm 68 years old. I have lived life. I've had my life. But I can't live under a state of constant fear. How can you? So I feel I have to live my life now, one day at a time, one month at a time. And I have a good life now. I live in a good place. I have good friends. I'm working. And what more can you ask from life?


WHITFIELD: Regularly during our "Reclaim Your Career," we focus on ways to get a jump-start in the workforce. But we just saw this story about this woman who ran out of her savings at the age of 68 and we know that that is an experience that so many people have. So in today's "Reclaim Your Career," we're going to focus on how we can avoid that similar fate.

Valorie Burton is the author of "Where Will You Go From Here?" So Valorie, we're talking about a lot of people just like that woman. They have a 401(k), they think they have their retirement savings plan to fall back on but they come to find out oftentimes that's not even enough money. The money we think we put aside is not being enough money. So how can we calculate? How can we anticipate?

VALORIE BURTON, AUTHOR "WHERE WILL YOU GO FROM HERE?": Well, so a lot of people, they've been saving. But the big thing here is that with things that have happened in the economy, I've come across quite a few people, one of them profiled in the book, who have had to go through all of their retirement savings. So one of the lessons here is to not end up in this position, is to stock away as much money as possible, as early as possible.

And we really have to think about the fact, particularly for those of us generation X or younger, you know, we're not having pensions as often. We're probably not going to rely on social security. So it's important to find ways to decrease your expenses, to maximize your income. And then if you're closer to retirement, in those last 10 years or so start accelerating your debt payments. Pay off your mortgage so your expenses are much lower as you head into retirement.

WHITFIELD: And so you need to start thinking about downsizing your life well before you actually need to do it.

BURTON: That's right.

WHITFIELD: Do it in those, you know, most valuable working years of your life.

BURTON: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Pay things off?

BURTON: For a lot of people, they find once they downsize, they actually like it. So you know, don't think of this as something that's just so awful. You may find that you don't need as much as you thought that you needed. And so a lot of people downsizing is a positive.

WHITFIELD: A lot of times, you can't really anticipate what kind of medical needs you're going to need because that is another way in which people go broke. They have their insurance through their employers. And then they're not working they're in their retirement years. Medicare, Medicaid is not quite enough. They dip into savings. So how do you anticipate or prepare for that? Or can you?

BURTON: You know, that's a hard one. But you want to as much as possible, make sure you got the right insurances in place. Not just your health care insurance but your long-term care insurance, making sure that you also got disability insurance. I'm sure happens a lot as people get older. But knowing that a lot of the out-of-pocket expenses are far more expensive than people actually anticipate. But you know, the other thing that goes up in retirement is recreation, you have a lot more time on your hands. You got to make sure you're saving for things like vacation and just that leisure time that you're going to have.

WHITFIELD: But sadly in so many people's golden years, bypassing vacations, it's just not happening. They can't afford it.

BURTON: That's true for a lot of people. But not for everyone. I think it's important for us to be very optimistic here. This is about planning. And so to not end up in that place, you want to say, what kind of lifestyle do I want to have, what things might I have to pare back on? What do I need to do now to prepare for that and thinking about that at a young age - and if you have children that are going into college now or are in their 20s, even though perhaps their jobs aren't paying that much, you want to be talking to them about saving for their retirement.

WHITFIELD: All great advice. Because you give such great advice all the time, you're being recognized not just here because we love our Valorie Burton all the time here in the "NEWSROOM" but "Ebony" magazine has also recognized you as one of the 100 most powerful and influential (INAUDIBLE)-

BURTON: It's quite an honor. They're power 100. I was pretty excited to be on the list this year.

WHITFIELD: Yes. What was it like to get that phone call and be informed that you're in that list? You're sharing the list with, you know, people like Jay-Z. There are a lot of entertainers on there. We have authors. I remember (INAUDIBLE) because this is like the first one you see.

BURTON: That's a big picture.

WHITFIELD: They're an incredible company that you are -

BURTON: Yes, an incredible group of people and some of us are not as well known.

WHITFIELD: Susan Rice and others.

BURTON: That's right. But "Ebony" is looking at who do they feel is making a difference. And so I consider it a real privilege.

WHITFIELD: Oh, congratulations. And we say, "Hey, what took you so long? We've always known that she was a bomb."

BURTON: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Always good to see you.

BURTON: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.

All right. Straight ahead, we've got much more in the "Newsroom."


WHITFIELD: OK. Things that go viral. And so often on the weekends, you will see this group of guys that are throwing these incredible basketball shots from afar, you know, jumping off a balcony, making a slam dunk, et cetera. So this is kind of along the same vein, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is a rival group, right? That's trying to upstage them. This guy's name is Brodie Smith. Watch this.


JERAS: Here comes the boat. Ready? There's the boat. Yes, look at the guy -

WHITFIELD: He makes the catch.

JERAS: From 500 feet off a bridge in Australia, he throws a Frisbee. His buddy, Derek (INAUDIBLE), leaps six feet into the air and makes the catch.

WHITFIELD: That is incredible. And then (INAUDIBLE) it makes you want to take the plunge. That water looks refreshing.

JERAS: Doesn't it?

WHITFIELD: That's good. That's become a nice little music video, too, for those tunes there. Two million people have been tuning in and watching.

JERAS: Takes the ultimate Frisbee to a whole new level. Have you played ultimate?

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's been a while. But I do love it.

JERAS: I don't think I'll try to do that though.

WHITFIELD: I think I'd like to try it on the water.

JERAS: All right.

WHITFIELD: Next weekend. We're going to Australia.

JERAS: I like it.

WHITFIELD: So Jacqui, this is being called a once in a decade event, incredibly strong Santa Ana winds. Jacqui's going to be back momentarily to talk more about that. She's getting some more details on these winds that have been swept Southern California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah.

And then on to politics, Herman Cain is changing the political landscape for 2012 election. A look at what today's decision means for the race overall.


WHITFIELD: A look at our top story right now. The field of Republican presidential hopefuls got a little bit smaller today. Herman Cain has suspended his campaign. Allegations of sexual misconduct and a woman's claim that he had an extramarital affair are hampering fund-raising efforts. Cain's decision effectively means his White House bid is over.


CAIN: As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now to discuss what Herman Cain's decision means for the race, CNN political contributor and democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Lenny McAllister. All right. Good to see both of you. I don't think anyone really could see this coming. Once he started talking earlier today, it sounded like he was drumming up more support that he is in it to win it or at least in it to stay.

But he said, you know what, he's at peace, his family's at peace. His wife is at peace. But he will still remain influential. To what degree - he suspended his campaign, Maria. He says he's going to be influential in this Republican race for the nominee?



CARDONA: I think the only thing that we will - and the media will continue to wait with maybe some bated breath is who he will endorse. And he said during this remarks today and I think that that is his attempt to continue to be relevant. Once that happens, I think it's out. I think Republicans and especially the other Republican candidates are saying a sigh of relief, right? Expressing a sigh of relief because he's now out of it. And they can focus on their message now.

WHITFIELD: So Lenny, I'm wondering, is he really out of it? Because he says he's starting this, this campaign to get his message out. He's still pushing for 9-9-9. Newt Gingrich today came out right away responding saying that, "You know what? Herman Cain" - with complimentary words. Saying "Herman Cain helped push the dialogue that he had some purpose here." Is that his way of saying, "You know, Herman, how about me? Are you going to endorse me or we still think you matter?"

LENNY MCALLISTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He doesn't need Herman Cain's support. But that was definitely an open invitation to the Herman Cain supporters to come on over to the Newt train now instead of the Cain train.

WHITFIELD: Even that there are may not be that many left, right, because was it already said that many of the supporters had already gone to Newt from Cain?

MCALLISTER: A lot of them did but they're going to also possibly fall into that undecided bucket. Because they may go to Newt and may not like the recent quotes or something else coming up. They will say let me get one more look. There is nothing wrong with Newt saying, listen you're here, stay here. And this is why you stay here, your guy pushed the envelope a little bit, he contributed to this process but now that you're with me, I can tell the ball and continue going forward with it.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What it really reminded me of is Sarah Palin.


CARDONA: That's exactly what Sarah Palin did.

WHITFIELD: She said I'm still going to be pushing for my causes.

CARDONA: I'm going to continue to be a voice in national politics. Things are not the way that we need them to be. I have lots of ideas. I'm not going away.

WHITFIELD: She has been influential or at least had a mouthpiece for a long time.

MCALLISTER: For two years. The difference is she was at least a vice presidential nominee versus somebody that had no name cache and did nothing. She was still a governor.


MCALLISTER: So, she came to the table with a little bit more than Herman Cain did from a political stand point. I don't see him being able to do as much.

CARDONA: And what's interesting is that when Sarah Palin did start being vocal, her approval ratings skyrocketed downward. I mean, you know, they fell. And so, now Herman Cain's approval ratings don't have much farther to go to get to zero. WHITFIELD: So, then you have to wonder, Lenny, will the political machine, Republican party still embrace Herman Cain because they do want his supporters to go by the way of whoever the Republican nominee is? Or is the party going to say, Herman Cain, you had your moment in the sun, time to ride off into the sunset.

MCALLISTER: They don't need him to be around. With the Cain in the New Year's coming up, Iowa will come. All the attention will be off of him in just a couple of weeks.

WHITFIELD: He'll disappear?

MCALLISTER: He'll disappear. They may have a chance type of appearance at the GOP convention where the wave and kind go out in a blaze of glory. I'd say much of the convention will just kind of be seen and nice little consolation gift and be off into the sunset for good.

WHITFIELD: Marie, he even said today, I'm not going away. I still have a voice loud and clear.

CARDONA: That's what he hopes.

WHITFIELD: Is that his world or --?

CARDONA: I think that is his world and what we've been talking about today is he lives in the bizarre world of politics.

WHITFIELD: Alright, Maria and Lenny, good to see you both.


WHITFIELD: Alright, it's a university band with historic traditions but does it include a legacy of hazing? Up next.


WHITFIELD: A lawyer for the family of Florida A&M University student Robert Champion accuses the school of turning a blind eye to hazing. 26-year-old Champion died last month after a performance by the band. He was a drum major. University officials say hazing was a factor.

Our George Howell looked at the investigation into an alleged culture of hazing at the school.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fans affectionately call at this time best band in the land, the marching 100 has long been the pride of Florida A&M University. But since two hazing related incidents, one resulting in the death of the band's drum major, Robert Champion, it's a campus in mourning.

What's the mood been like here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mood has been really sad. The Monday coming back to school was really quiet.

HOWELL: Police are now investigating a culture of alleged hazing within the band. In this 911 tape, you can hear band members on a bus with champion, desperately trying to save him.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Are you with him right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm with him, ma'am. He's not breathing. I tried to give him CPR and she started to vomit.

HOWELL: Champion died at the hospital November 19th, not even two weeks before that, another student told police she was rushed to the hospital with injuries after a several-week-long initiation period, dangerous and even violent behavior that former drum major A.J. Richardson says went underground after the school declared a zero tolerance policy on hazing.

A.J. RICHARDSON, FORMER FLORIDA A&M BAND MEMBER: Those things that began as innocent pranks have been added to over the years. We were asked to do push-ups, but we did not experience the kind of hazing that involved physicality, to get beat up. That just did not happen.

HOWELL: Richardson says he's worked closely over the years with the band's former director, Doctor Julian White, to try to eliminate hazing. White dismissed 30 students from the band for hazing-related incidents prior to Robert Champion's death.

A week later, the university president Doctor James Amens fired Doctor White and expelled four students.

We reached out to several current and former band members but no one really wanted to talk about the hazing incidents or the students who were expelled. We found this to be a tight-knit group. And many students are telling me they're shocked this even happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hear about hazing, sort of these. But when we hear the band, we're like, wait, we have hazing in the band? What's going on?

HOWELL: Investigators have not yet released details into what caused Robert Champion's death. But the tragedy has left a cloud of uncertainty on this campus about its beloved band and the culture within its ranks.

George Howell, CNN. Tallahassee, Florida.


WHITFIELD: And millions of long-term unemployed Americans could see their federal benefits dry up next year. It all depends on whether Congress decides to extend them into January and beyond.

Details now from CNN's Athena Jones.


MARCELLO VIRGIL, UNEMPLOYED: I never thought I'd be in this situation.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Congress doesn't act millions of people who are out of work could lose federal unemployment benefits next year. People like Marcello Virgil.

VIRGIL: If I lose my benefits, it's going to be rough. You know, I have three kids to take care of here. I have five kids total. So, if I don't find work soon, I have no idea what I'm going to do.

JONES: He lost his job at a hospital last year. His wife has been out of work for more than two years. Virgil found work as a landscaper over the summer. But the project lasted just two months. His state unemployment benefits will run out in February.

The federal government supplements the 26 weeks of benefits provided by most states, allowing people up to 99 weeks of aid, as long as they're looking for work. The average weekly benefit is about $300. Under current law, people must file for extended benefits by the end of the year. President Obama wants to push back that deadline for another year.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Congress needs to renew unemployment insurance for Americans who are still out there pounding the pavement looking for work.

JONES: Without an extension, an estimated 1.8 million people will lose their benefits in January alone. And more than five million will lose them over the course of 2012. That could be a blow to America's economy.

TAMI LUHBY, SENIOR WRITER, CNNMONEY.COM: Many economists say that unemployment benefits are one of the most stimulative type of government aid that you can give because the people who receive it spend it right away because it's the only money they have in many cases.

JONES: With the unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, lawmakers may be hesitant to cut off benefits.

LUHBY: The highest the unemployment rate to be when Congress cut benefits was 7.2 percent. That was back in 1985.

JONES: One issue Congress must tackle is how to pay the estimated $44 billion cost of the extension. Without it, Virgil worries he won't be able to take care of his children.

VIRGIL: It's like a slow death. It's like cutting my wrists, bleeding slow. It's hard waking up.

JONES: The struggle has clearly taken an emotional toll.

VIRGIL: It's hard.


WHITFIELD: Athena Jones now joining us live from Washington. So, does the possibility of the loss of benefits, does that apply to everyone who is out of work and has been receiving some benefits?

JONES: Well, it does -- it's kind of complicated because we're talking about when people can file for these extended federal benefits. We know that in most states, they provide about 26 weeks to people who have been out of work, that's nearly half a year. But you can't apply early for benefits. You can't say, if your 26 weeks isn't running out until say late January, you can't on December 15th go ahead and apply for those extended benefits. That's really the issue here. So, you know, that's the problem. If you lost your job last month, then you're not going to run out of those state benefits for several more months and you won't be able to then apply for this next year of extended benefits from the federal government unless Congress takes action.

WHITFIELD: Alright, Athena Jones in Washington, thank you.

JONES: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: A silent film is making a whole lot of Oscar noise and it's now open in a few selected cities. Your sneak peek of "the artist" in whether it looks up to the hype.


WHITFIELD: And perhaps you're planning on going to the movies this week. We have a couple of flicks for you. Our movie critic Grae Drake from joins us now.

And today, we are looking at a few limited releases as well that could be Oscar contenders. You're giving a big nod on "the artist" on particular. What's it about?

GRAE DRAKE, FILM CRITIC, FANDANGOANDMOVIES.COM: It's so wonderful. It's actually similar to the real-life story of John Gilbert, the silent film star who was incredibly talented but unfortunately had a lot of horrible addictions. And his career kind of went downhill and it's a heartbreaking story. And although the movie's not his biography necessarily, it just has notes of him in it. It's also like "singing in the rain," "a star is born," and I know it's silent. I know it's black and white.

WHITFIELD: Which is so unusual when people are not used to seeing a brand-new movie, 2011, a silent film, no dialogue, you have to read lips or just watch the motions.

DRAKE: Exactly. But it's like, I'm your mother and this is cinematic Brussels sprouts and I'm telling you to try it. You will like it.

WHITFIELD: OK. Let's try it out just a little bit. I need a little taste of it.


WHITFIELD: OK. So, among those starring in this one, John Goodman, with him Berenice Bejo. DRAKE: Yes, I think so. She's an Argentinean, I believe. And then please do not forget the magnificent Jean Dujardin who is I think Jean Kelly reincarnate. I mean, he's phenomenal and just magnetic to watch. It's like, at the movies these days. I'm used to week after week being visually assaulted by 3D and bright colors and things coming at me all the time. And this movie was such an amazing reminder that there was a time in film where actors just used their faces to tell you the story.

WHITFIELD: Right. I saw an interview with John Goodman. And he said he really loved this because he said he didn't have to worry about memorizing a script. But it really gave him a chance improvising in a whole different way to stretch himself and just exaggerate movement and like you said facial expressions. So, a lot of fun by the actors, too.

OK, the other movie, "Like Crazy." You want to set it up for us?

I'm sorry, sorry. I didn't ask you the grade. I'm sorry. "The artist"? Grade?

DRAKE: OK. Well, the grade? If I were a silent film star, this is what the grade would be --

WHITFIELD: We have to see her. Give me that expression one more time. OK. That's an "A" for sure.

DRAKE: Absolute "A."

WHITFIELD: OK, good. Alright, set up "Like Crazy" for me.

DRAKE: "Like Crazy" stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. As a couple, they're young, they're graduating college and having that incredible kind of love affair that only happens when you're young and you've met your soul mate, the life-changing kind of love that hopefully everyone watching has experienced. And this movie has that real American independent film feel where even a shaft of sunlight is what broadcasts their love for each other. It's really a hypnotizing movie.

WHITFIELD: OK. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't do that.



WHITFIELD: OK, family hour. What were your thoughts?


WHITFIELD: Sorry kids at home. DRAKE: Sorry about that. No, it's beautiful, it's beautiful. And very, you know, it's all about people and it's just our bodies. What's the big deal? No.

This movie is beautiful and incredibly painful to watch for anyone who finds it autobiographical at all. It really is exactly like what that kind of love is like. It's frenzied then it is full energy and meaning. And it's technically a well put together film because the performances are wonderful but also well-supported by the filmmaking. It's pretty hypnotizing and at times, incredibly annoying just like love.

WHITFIELD: So there were a couple of recognizable faces in there. But the stars of the show are fairly new to the scene or unfamiliar to most of us, yes?

DRAKE: They are. They're younger stars. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, they're way too young to be as fine actors as they are. That was horrible grammar but the sentiments are there. Jennifer Lawrence is also in the film, who's coming up in "Hunger Games" next year. And who also are been for an academy award.

So, there's a whole bunch and like young kids to watch in this film. And again it's not the world's most perfect film because it's a young people making horrible choices. But it really is just a love letter to love.

WHITFIELD: You're gushing over this one. What was your trade?

DRAKE: Yes. It was sweet. Oh, thank you. I gave this movie a "B."

WHITFIELD: Alright, Grae Drake there. So, remember you can get all the movie grades and movie grades,

Our new time, let's look at our political headlines, some of it. Day to day.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain suspending his campaign. He again, denied allegations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity but he said those charges had taken unacceptable toll on his family.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney was in New Hampshire trying to dispel any notion that he is taking the state's support for granted. Romney pounded the pavement, even knocking on doors himself there.

Much more of the NEWSROOM straight ahead with my colleague, Don Lemon. Politics thing this evening, what else new?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Cain train has come off the tracks --

WHITFIELD: Has come to a stop.

LEMON: Yes. He suspends his campaign as you just reported, Fred. One person we're going to discuss this with in a few minutes is calling it the Cain wreck, none other than Goldie Taylor, regular on the show. He's going to tell us why she's saying that.

Fred, I'm also going to be talking with our human behavior expert with Doctor Wendy Walsh and another one as well as a crisis management expert about how the Cain train derailed, so to speak.

Also coming up at 10:00 tonight, Mega Church Pastor Joel Osteen tells me about his new reality show. It's being produced by the team, Fred that brought us "Survivor."


LEMON: And "the Apprentice."

WHITFIELD: Highly produced.

LEMON: Yes, highly produced.

LEMON: Look at this huge great white shark spotted off the Carolina Coast. Kind of reminds you of the movie "Jaws," the famous shark in that movie. So, how rare or how often does this type of sighting happen and what would you do if you were confronted by a giant man- eater? A scientist at the Georgia aquarium says everyone needs to know.

WHITFIELD: I will come out in the water.

LEMON: that's what I said.

WHITFIELD: Yes. That's Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.


WHITFIELD: That is usually possible. I've been there a gazillion times.

LEMON: Well, it happens and it's probably not as rare as you think. So, you need to know, how often you've been out in the water. Do you feel something, like a fish was on you - what's going but you can't see. But there are things that --

WHITFIELD: Yes, you'll know if it is a shark.

LEMON: That was a big darn shark. What would you do?

WHITFIELD: Well, you know I've been diving and there have been sharks around me. But I'm in their house and I just stay still and all that. But to be surprised, like I'm swimming and I see a fin, I might freak. No, I'll try to remain calm. But, yes, the heart would be in my throat.

LEMON: You want to see a brother walk on water.


LEMON: Feet don't fail me now.

WHITFIELD: As long as you survive it, right? I can envision that. That was very visual for me. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We're crazy.

WHITFIELD: See you straight ahead this evening. All right. Thanks so much.

OK. We'll talk more about this West Santa Ana winds, incredible destruction. It was almost as if a hurricane swept through the area. But it was high-impact winds. We'll tell you more about the impact.


WHITFIELD: You thought the winds were fierce the other day on the west coast. Apparently it's not over yet. Right here are the remnants of that storm that swept through a couple of days ago. Parts of Los Angeles County are still trying to pick up the pieces. They're still trying to restore power in large part, too. And it wasn't just southern California, but other western states that were hit hard by these winds. Hurricane-force, winds.

Jacqui Jeras from the weather center. It's not quite over yet in terms of -- maybe they're not going to see the 150-mile-per-hour wind gusts. But they are seeing significant ones.

JACQUIE JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They are. And it's actually going to get worse again we think Monday night into Tuesday. So, we want you to prepare yourself for another round of very strong winds. And today, you know this is nothing to sneeze at. We are talking 40 to 60-mile-per-hour gusts. And that's enough to continue to cause problems, bring down tree limbs and cause additional power outages. And there are thousands of people who are struggling without power.

So, we do have those high wind warnings in effect for the mountains. And then you get down into the valleys and coastal areas, and it's just advisories. But this will continue to be a threat throughout the area. And anytime you have these strong winds. They are drying winds. You know, they accelerate down the mountains and they heat up as they do so. So, any fire that could potentially start could get out of control very quickly.

There have been a number of smaller acre fires that have developed this weekend as well as late last week. And those have mostly been under control. So, that's the good news. But we have to watch this situation very closely too in the upcoming days.

Now, we have got a couple of other systems that we're going to be tracking here. First of all, we want to show you the big low. And then this is the one that caused the Santa Ana winds. Today, it's bringing heavy rain and flooding across parts of the mid south.

On the north side of it, we're getting heavy snow there, across parts of Minnesota on up into Wisconsin. A new low developing near the four corners. And then this one is going to come down and do the same darn thing. So unfortunately, we are getting these training storms one right after the other causing these paths and causing the same weather conditions to occur.

Snowfall in the range of three to six inches, so you know, it's the Midwest. You can probably handle this. Just use a lot of caution. But we're also very concerned about this flood situation through at least the middle of the week. A lot of standing water, a lot of rivers, is going to be coming out of their banks, up to 6 inches in the next three days.

WHITFIELD: That's pretty significant. Alright, Jacqui. Thank you.

JERAS: Sure. Alright, that's going to do it for me. We'll see you again here tomorrow beginning at 2:30 Eastern time. Much more of the NEWSROOM straight ahead right after this break with Don Lemon.