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Mitt Romney Wins New Hampshire Primary; Mississippi Governor Pardons 199; Joran van der Sloot Pleads Guilty to Murder; Who Voted How in New Hampshire; Is Romney the Inevitable Candidate; Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed

Aired January 11, 2012 - 11:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Studio 7, I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Want to get you up to speed for Wednesday, January 11th.

Republican presidential candidates are descending on South Carolina after Mitt Romney's big win in New Hampshire. Now, South Carolina holds its primary just 10 days away. Romney and his rivals all have campaign stops in that state today.

Next hour, Newt Gingrich holding a town hall meeting in Spartanburg, while Ron Paul campaigns in West Columbia.

So, here's a look at the results for the New Hampshire primary. It was a convincing win for Mitt Romney. He took 40 percent of the vote.

Ron Paul finished second with 23 percent. Jon Huntsman got 17 percent to finish in third place. Rick Santorum finished with 10 percent, ahead of Newt Gingrich, with nine percent. Rick Perry had just one percent.

Well, it was the big win Romney need to shore up the front-runner status. Now he is the first Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire since Gerald Ford back in 1976.

This morning on CNN, Romney turned attention to beating the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You've got almost two million people that have lost their jobs under this president. You have median income that's dropped by 10 percent over the last four years. You have got 24 million people out of work or stopped looking for work. This is a failed presidency.

There are plenty of other people who want the chance to go up against President Obama. And I have a long way to go before I get the nomination, if I'm lucky enough to get it.

But I really think we're best off focusing on the failures of this president. And in my case, I want to demonstrate that I have capacity to make America once again a great place for opportunity, for rising incomes, for job growth. I think that's what people want to hear. They want to understand how we're going to lead the country, and that's what I'm going to be talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So you have two races, two wins. But how does Mitt Romney really wrap up the nomination? I'm going to talk to political analyst Larry Sabato later in the hour about what it will take for Romney's rivals to stop him now.

While Romney was the clear victor last night, you wouldn't know it from the speeches second and third place finishers Ron Paul and Huntsman were giving. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And my confidence in the system is reborn because of the people in New Hampshire, because they just turn out at these town hall meetings. Nobody forces them. Nobody tells them they have to do it. It's because they believe in a better tomorrow for the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I sort of have to chuckle when they describe you and me as being dangerous.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: That's one thing they are telling the truth, because we are dangerous to the status quo in this country!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: All right. Dangerous. Ron Paul says he's nibbling at Mitt Romney's heels.

Dana Bash, she is joining us to talk about Paul's silver medal, what it means for the race right now.

Dana, I guess everybody is describing themselves as dangerous now, and maybe that's a good thing here. You had a chance to talk to Ron Paul one-on-one last night. What did he make of the fairly strong finish?

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard it. He definitely believes that he is leading a movement. And the fact of the matter is that he really believes that he's also in it for the long haul no matter what happens.

When I did have a chance to talk to him last night, it was just as he was finding out about his second place showing. And what I asked him was about the fact that he was competing here for the same Republican nomination four years ago, and he got less than eight percent of the vote.

So I asked, "What's different now?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What do you think has changed?

PAUL: The people. The people's attitudes have changed, and my message got out. And the country is in worse shape.

I've talked about financial problems in this country for 30 years, and they realize that some of the things I said came about, and also warning people about the foreign policy and the endless wars and how that affects our economy. So the people have come around to being concerned about the spending.

I think that they look closely at the need to cut spending, and I was the only one that offered cutting spending. So I think it's a very, very popular message. And I think the interest is going to continue to grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And Suzanne, he's right. The electorate has sort of moved towards him.

He has not changed what he has said at all, really for the past 30 years. And what was really interesting, and we saw this in Iowa, but even more so here, this 76-year-old candidate got such a huge win from young people. He got by far the biggest percentage of young voters here across the board -- Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats or former Democrats.

MALVEAUX: You know, it's interesting, Dana. I remember back in 2008, you'd see the Ron Paul signs everywhere, even after he actually stepped out of the race. There is so much enthusiasm behind him.

Do we think it's gong to get tougher for him going forward into South Carolina?

BASH: There's no question will get tougher for him. His organization here in New Hampshire is very good. His organization obviously in Iowa, the state before this, was very good. That's where he really stayed on the ground and had people staying here since 2008, when you and I were both here together.

Going forward in South Carolina, though. He has an event there already in about an hour. And then he's going to go home for a few days. But his campaign says that they're going to spend about $1 million in the Palmetto State, and that's not a state that is extraordinarily expensive when it comes to television ads. So that's a good chunk of change.

Whether or not that's going to help him, that, combined with his list from here in New Hampshire, that's a big question. But look, he does have the momentum from the fervent, fervent supporters to keep going virtually as long as he wants. And he's made pretty clear is what he does want down the road, to get some of the things that he talks about like anti-government, maybe even his positions against the Fed, somehow heard in a big way from the Republican establishment.

MALVEAUX: All right. Dana, thanks. We'll see if he remains dangerous for much longer, how long that's going to go.

We appreciate it, Dana.

President Obama is focusing on the number one issue in the presidential race. Of course, it's jobs.

He is meeting with business leaders to talk about ways for companies to keep jobs here in the United States instead of outsourcing them overseas. It's a forum on insourcing jobs. The White House says the president is going to unveil a new tax proposal in the weeks ahead. And he's going to speak after the meeting today as well.

We're going to bring you those remarks live. He's expected to speak in the next hour, around 12:15 Eastern. So we'll keep an eye on the White House there.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Republican presidential candidates are headed South. We're watching some live pictures here. This is an event, Newt Gingrich in Spartanburg. That is where it's kind of a meet and greet to meet the voters there and get on top of his game.

Right after Mitt Romney's win in the New Hampshire primary, all of them of course campaigning in South Carolina today. But they're leaving behind some distinct impressions with the New Hampshire folks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So who did you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the clear choice as far as I'm concerned. He did great things in Massachusetts, and I think he'd make a great president for this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Newt Gingrich. I heard him last night speak in Hudson. I was tremendously impressed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Paul.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that our fiscal house is a mess. It's time that we take our medicine, and Dr. Paul has got the prescription. So --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: All right. He's got that analogy down.

We've got another story here, kind of disturbing. These are pardons that have shocked the country and rocked Mississippi.

Conservative Republican Haley Barbour's parting gift as he left the governor's office -- get this -- was to set free 199 convicted criminals. Those pardons include 14 murderers, most of them involved in domestic violence.

Others have been convicted of rape, armed robbery, drunk driving, numerous drug-related offenses. Almost all 199 received all complete, unconditional pardons, essentially wiping their criminal records clean.

Now victims families are devastated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was left laying on the floor in his mother's blood that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the governor himself ought to have to look me and the family in the eye and say, hey, I'm going to let this guy go. But there wasn't any of that. That's the coward's way out if you ask me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something this important doesn't need to be in the hands of one person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Governor Barbour going to pardon us for our aches and pains and heartache that we suffer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing that we can get is (INAUDIBLE) that Haley Barbour went through a process. What that process is, we don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traditions are not always good. This, again, has given Mississippi a black eye.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was 20 years old when she died, and had her child laying in her arms when he shot her in her head. And he's pardoned?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Our Ed Lavandera is covering this -- it's really a shocking story. He's in Dallas.

Ed, you listen -- I mean, you listen to the people of those families and the emotions they have, it really is gut-wrenching. They are suffering from thinking that killers, people who killed their family, are now free. Help us understand the backstory to all this. First of all, is there anything that brings all these 199 criminals together and the governor? Why would he choose this group of people?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, if there is a common denominator throughout this long list -- and this list of people who have been pardoned or had some sort of conditional release is eight pages long. So if there is some sort of common denominator, some link between all of them, we haven't come across it yet.

We're going over many of the names. This is a long, long list of people. And obviously the people -- the 14 murderers.

In addition to those 14 murderers, there are 16 others who were convicted of manslaughter and homicide. There's also drunk drivers that caused the deaths of other people. This is a wide array of different people, and for a variety of crimes that have been affected by these pardons. And not to mention the families of the victims in these cases.

MALVEAUX: And Ed, did any of these folks personally know the governor? Did he have any kind of relationship with any of these people who had been pardoned?

LAVANDERA: Well, it's interesting. There's a woman who reportedly is a socialite in Jackson, Mississippi, who was in an accident that caused the deaths of two other -- the deaths of two doctors. There's also -- several of the murderers that were released worked as trustees on the governor's mansion's grounds. Trustees are these inmates that get more privileges or are trusted, in essence, and are able to get more privileges than other inmates, and they were working around the governor's mansion.

Whether or not the governor had come to know them personally isn't clear. All of this made more dramatic by the very fact that Governor Haley Barbour has refused to answer any questions, offer up any explanations. We've reached out to his office and his people for the last 24 hours and have been told that there would be no comment.

MALVEAUX: Do we know why, Ed, they had four convicted murderers as part of his detail doing this gardening or whatever kind of work they were doing on the governor's property? Did he actually know that these were convicted murderers?

LAVANDERA: If he did, it's unclear. And it's unclear to what extent he's gotten to know them simply by the fact that he's not answering any questions. His spokesperson isn't offering any kind of explanations. And these are questions and answers that a great many people are exploding with in Mississippi, anxious to know, hear some sort of explanation for what the reasoning behind all of this was.

MALVEAUX: All right, Ed. Thank you very much.

This brings us to today's "Talk Back" question. Should unconditional pardons even be allowed? You know, the bottom line is their record is wiped clean of the crime as if they were never charged. So it means these convicted criminals, they can possess weapons, they can vote, they can even run for office.

So tell us what you think. Should unconditional pardons be allowed? Should someone who has been convicted of murder have these rights?

Leave your thoughts at Facebook.com/SuzanneCNN. I'll share some of those later in the hour.

Joran van der Sloot on trial for first-degree murder. He has just entered a plea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MALVEAUX: Want to also get you up to speed on the day's other top stories. Joran van der Sloot has now formally pleaded guilty to all charges against him. But this is in the killing of a Peruvian woman back in 2010.

His murder trial, it began last week, but the judge granted him a delay to reflect on his options. Well, Van der Sloot is also the same person, the main suspect, you'll recall, in the 2005 disappearance of the Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway.

Want to bring in Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney.

And Paul, let's talk about the case first regarding the Peruvian woman. He pleaded guilty to her murder. It was a gruesome murder, a gruesome crime.

Why this strategy? Why not fight? Why plead guilty?

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think the evidence in the case was very strong against him. For starters, there was never a denial that he was with the girl the entire evening, and there were video surveillance cameras in the hotel room that actually showed him entering the room with the victim, and then departing from the room, leaving the body behind. So it looked to me like it was a very strong case with respect to his commission of the crime.

MALVEAUX: What do we think he's going to get in terms of time?

CALLAN: Well, the early speculation on this was that the sentence could be as little as eight years under Peruvian, and that he was being allowed to plead guilty. Of course, the victim's family was quite upset about this.

And his plea here has been a plea that depends upon convincing the court that this was a killing that arose out of severe emotional distress. An odd defense, Suzanne, because, frankly, the emotional distress was he was angry because he was looking at his computer. It's not like he was angry because she was trying to attack him or she had run off with another man or some of the things you sometimes see in extreme emotional distress cases. Looking at somebody else's computer would hardly rise to the level of extreme emotional distress under U.S. law, but --

(CROSSTALK)

MALVEAUX: And I understand that looking at the computer, she was actually trying to get information about the fact that he was a suspect in the killing, the death of Natalee Holloway. Let's go to that very quickly here.

That case is still opened in Aruba. He was arrested as a suspect in that case, but let go because of lack of evidence. That happened twice.

Is it possible still to have that case, if Natalee Holloway's body is discovered or more evidence comes about, to have him being tried in the case in the death of Natalee Holloway?

CALLAN: Yes, it remains theoretically possible if Aruban officials develop evidence against him. I would add one cautionary note. Unlike the United States, where there is no statute of limitations on murder, Aruba does have one, and it depends on the level of murder charged that is being lodged. If it's a particularly grotesque, intentional murder, there's a rather lengthy statute of limitations, so Aruba currently could still make out the case. But as the years go by, that possibility will fade.

MALVEAUX: And finally, Paul, he is wanted here in the United States on another matter from the Holloway family in terms of fraud and extortion. Does he have to first fulfill his sentence in Peru before he can be taken here to the United States and face those charges as well?

CALLAN: Well, that's a great question, because there's extreme irony, I think, in this case in that he extorted $25,000, allegedly, from the Holloway family by telling them, in exchange for the money, that he knew where her body was. Of course, he never gave them any helpful information.

He used that money to go to Peru and now, apparently, commit this second homicide. And the answer is yes, there's a detainer that's been lodged through Interpol by the United States in Peru. When he completes his Peruvian sentence, he can be extradited back to the United States for trial. Of course there could be a deal made between the Peruvian and the United States government to bring him back to the U.S. sooner if, for some reason, the United States Justice Department and local prosecuting officials wanted to do that.

MALVEAUX: All right.

Paul Callan.

Thank you so much, Paul.

We are getting a rare look now at both pro-and-anti-government demonstrations out of Syria. So here's what you're watching. President Bashar al-Assad turns up at this boisterous pro-government rally in Damascus today. He assures the cheering crowd that they would triumph over what he has repeatedly called a conspiracy fueling the violence in his country.

And then take a look at this. Here's another rally.

They had thousands of anti-Assad protesters turning out in Daraa. They are outraged over the government's brutal crackdown.

Our Nic Robertson was at the anti-government protest. This one, inside the capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The level of anger and passion here is absolutely palpable. We're just a few miles from the center of Damascus. And this is a crowd here of perhaps -- thank you. Thank you. This is a crowd here of perhaps several hundred thousand people.

They have taken over this whole area. They've put rocks in the road to prevent the police coming in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Dramatic stuff.

When the state motto is "Life Free or Die," you can bet there's going to be a lot of independent-minded folks there. We're going to tell you how Independents voted in New Hampshire and what that could mean for the presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MALVEAUX: All right. It was pretty much a convincing win for Mitt Romney. Here's a look at the results from the New Hampshire primary.

Romney took 40 percent of the vote. Ron Paul finished second, with 23 percent. Jon Huntsman got 17 percent to finish third place. Newt Gingrich finished with 10 percent, ahead of Rick Santorum, with nine percent. Rick Perry only getting one percent.

So, we know how many votes the candidates got, right? But we want to go beyond the numbers here and take a look at the exit polls, because they give us a pretty good idea of the voters, the decisions they made.

I want to bring in our own Christine Romans, who has been sifting through all of that.

You know, Christine, watching it, it wasn't as exciting as Iowa. You know, a last-minute nail-biter or anything like that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, stop.

MALVEAUX: I suppose that's a rare moment when you get that kind of drama. But they were wondering and we were all wondering what the Independents were going to do. And they played a huge role in New Hampshire.

How did that break down?

ROMANS: And they did. And it's so important, because Independents are that up-for-grabs group that behave differently in different states. And we try to take that information, what happened in the past, the exit polls, and forecast in the future. Right?

So here are the Independents. This is what it looked like.

They went for Ron Paul by 32 percent. But -- so of the people who consider themselves Independent, 32 percent were supporters of Ron Paul. But look at Mitt Romney, 29 percent.

It plays into that storyline, Suzanne, of him as him as a more moderate New England Republican who maybe appealed to kind of a different kind of Independent which might be a little more moderate as well in New England. So the Independent vote would be very different in South Carolina. But look at how close those two were, 32 percent to 29 percent.

Also watching the Tea Party, because this is another group that's incredibly important, but it's also playing out differently in different states. Of those who consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, 40 percent went for Mitt Romney. And that was a surprise to some people who were watching this, that he got that Tea Party support. Ron Paul, 22 percent, and Santorum got 14 percent there.

It's pretty interesting overall, too, because when you look at the top candidate qualities, Suzanne, this is about electability, too. Thirty-five percent of those who were giving their top candidate qualities said it was beating Barack Obama. And when you see who won that category, it was Mitt Romney.

MALVEAUX: I like all of those pictures there. It pretty much sums it up.

Do we think that South Carolina is going to be interesting as well?

ROMANS: I mean, look, each one of these states is so different. And I think if you're in one of these campaigns, you're tweaking your ground game now. You're looking at the Independent vote, you're looking at the Tea Party vote, and you're trying to figure out how those two groups are going to be different, of course, in South Carolina.

South Carolina is going to have a different kind of economic importance also, because 9.9 percent is the unemployment rate in South Carolina. It's only 5.2 percent in New Hampshire. Think of how many people are out of work in South Carolina than New Hampshire. It's a different intensity both on the social issues, but also on the economic issues when the candidates get to South Carolina, if they're not there already.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: Oh, yes. They're there all right.

It will be interesting to see if they're motivated. If they're unemployed are you going to the polls? Are you going to the primaries? Are you actually going to vote and make your opinion known? Some people sit out because they're so frustrated, so disgusted by what's taking place that it actually motivates them to make a decision.

ROMANS: I think the turnout was better this time, wasn't it. The turnout was a little better this time. People in New Hampshire at least were motivated. But you're right. We'll have to see how that all -- and if we have an 8 percent unemployment rate this year, as many economists say, that maybe we're stuck around here for now, then each of the individual states will be, the battleground states in particular, so much more important. Many have hirer than average unemployment right now. They have higher unemployment rates today than when the president took office. So you'll be hearing more about the jobs scene. If we do have jobs creation this year, the jobs scene will still be very big in the states.

MALVEAUX: OK. Christine, great to see you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: Mitt Romney got the win he was waiting for. Romney is the first Republican candidate to win Iowa and New Hampshire since the 1970s. Does that make him the inevitable candidate?

Larry Sabato, from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, is joining us to talk about this.

It was a pretty big win for Romney last night. And some folks say he's walking the walk, talking the talk, like he's the Republican nominee. But he doesn't really have things wrapped up just yet, does he?

LARRY SABATO, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: No. You have to wait until you have a majority of the delegates. That can't happen until April mathematically. So it's going to be a while. Obviously we gain these things out a long time in advance. And Romney has always been the favorite. Now he's a very substantial favorite. Some may say a prohibited favorite to be the nominee.

MALVEAUX: Is there anything his rivals can do to stop him?

SABATO: Well, they're certainly going to try. And South Carolina is the place to do it. It has the profile of a state more likely, maybe most likely to give Romney a set back. Every nominee in the Republican Party since 1976 has had at least one setback on the road to the nomination. So it will be extraordinary if Mitt Romney never has a single setback during the nominating campaign. Maybe it's South Carolina. Maybe it isn't. If he loses South Carolina, he would still be a heavy betting favorite to be the nominee.

MALVEAUX: You know, Larry, Republicans are usually afraid to lock step behind the early nominee in the process. But the brutal attacks that we're seeing against Romney, do we think that's going to have a long-term impact, a real damage on Romney going into the general election if it get there is?

SABATO: Here's been the pattern in the past, Suzanne. Even when you had intense fights, vicious fights, the out-of-power party, when they really dislike an incumbent, as the Republicans dislike President Obama, they tend to come back together. They do tend to reunify.

But here's the problem for the Republicans. In this particular case, both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have supplied vicious sound bites about Bain Capital, about venture capital, the venture capital issue for Mitt Romney. That will be taken whole by President Obama's team and inserted into TV ads in the fall. That's going to have a lot more credibility coming from the mouths of two conservative Republicans than it would ever have had coming from President Obama or his Democratic surrogates.

MALVEAUX: Yes, let's take a listen real quick to what Rick Perry said about capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY, (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will suggest they're just vultures. They're vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick. And then they swoop in. They eat the carcass. They leave with that. And they leave the skeleton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: That imagery is really dramatic. The carcass and the skeleton, all of that. He's trying to make a point here. He's trying to paint Romney as a job killer. Is there somebody in the party, you think, who will say, at some point, time for the trash talking to end? It's time to get behind the guy who we want to go against Obama.

SABATO: Yes. By the way, who knew there were Occupy Republicans?

(LAUGHTER)

But apparently there are if you listen to what Rick Perry said about vulture capitalists and some of the things Newt Gingrich has said. There will be Republican leaders who will say that. There are already Republican leaders calling for an end to this kind of rhetoric. Rush Limbaugh, who has not been a strong supporter of Mitt Romney, has come down very hard on Newt Gingrich for the rhetoric he's been using about capital.

But we're in a different era. Nobody runs the Republican Party. Nobody runs the Democratic Party, unless it's an incumbent president. You don't have a boss. The Republicans don't have a boss who can say no.

MALVEAUX: They do have party elders. I wonder if the party elders might quietly take a few aside and say, let's tone it down a bit. It would be fascinating to see how this unfolds.

Thank you so much, Larry. Appreciate it.

The driver never expected this. He had no time to react. He's very lucky to be alive after a pipe flies through his windshield. We're going to tell you what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Back with stories across the country.

A tanker carrying more than a million gallons of fuel to Nome, Alaska, is now within 100 miles. A Coast Guard ice breaker is leading the way. The oil could reach Nome by tomorrow or Friday.

You have to see this. A driver in Bakersfield, California, was almost impaled, yes, by a pipe that flew into his windshield as he sped along the freeway at 65 miles an hour. Luckily, it hit the steering wheel, which absorbed the impact. The pipe apparently came off a truck that he was following.

And in Ft. Bend, Texas, a tornado splintered fences, damages homes. It all happened on Tuesday. Several neighborhoods are still cleaning up and covering gaping holes in the roofs with tarps. Winds hitting 90 plus miles an hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Well, prices on meat, fish, coffee, expected all to go up this year, which means it's going to cost more for groceries. We have some ways to cut the bills.

Alison Kosik is joining us with ways to save money.

I'm going to take notes here. It sounds like it's getting more and more expensive.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And these things I'm going to tell you are interesting. So the average household spent a little over $3,600 on groceries. Where you start your food shopping may determine how much you spend. Most shop counter-clockwise and shoppers who check out the produce aisle spend more time in the stores. Shop for fruits and veggies last. Who knew -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Yes, who knew? And I understand the processed foods are the in center of the store. You got all the good stuff around the ring. And there's something about a five-minute rule that you have going on about shopping in five minutes?

KOSIK: We're all looking for the quick and easy meals. But couponmom.com's Stephanie Nelson says use the five-minute rule. If it takes you five minutes or less to prep an item then it's worth your time and you'll save money doing it yourself. Which means, don't be so lazy. And when paying, use cash. Also if the store has them, use the self checkout lines. It will help you avoid the impulse buys. And think twice before you buy the $5 box of cookies. I like the real expensive cookies. That's hard to listen to. They always taste so good.

MALVEAUX: I get all the prepared meals that cost a ton of money.

(CROSSTALK)

KOSIK: You're paying for convenience.

MALVEAUX: That's true. I guess it saves time there. And I understand shopping early in the day will help you keep the bills down as well.

So Alison is going to bring us straight ahead why that makes a difference.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Who doesn't love a sale? When it comes to grocery coupons, it's just not about searching the store for deals.

Alison Kosik has more on how to save money at the grocery store.

So, couponing back in style?

KOSIK: Couponing is back in style. We've seen reality shows like extreme couponing. It's got to be hip. But if you're not a coupon clipper. Couponmom.com's Stephanie Nelson says to shop early in the day. For chicken and cereal, "Consumer Reports" say they hit their lowest prices once every 12 weeks. Jot down when you see the sales and you'll know when to stock off. Buy store brands or generic. That can save you 50 percent or more.

Look at smartsource.com, Smartsource.com, coupons.com, all those places. They have mobile versions. And also a free app called Cellfire, which loads coupons from over 4,000 stores and sends you a reminder when you walk into that store to show you have coupons. So you have a little help from Big Brother there to help you save a few pennies -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: So pennies -- it cost some pennies to buy this little snack food. I don't know if you eat these still. I think every had had to have these. Hostess makes Twinkies. Right?

KOSIK: Of course.

MALVEAUX: Hostess is now filing for bankruptcy. It owes creditors more than a billion dollars. Of course, it raises the question of whether or not this is the end of Twinkies. And I want you to take a listen.

(CROSSTALK)

MALVEAUX: Have you ever wondered what is in a Twinkie?

KOSIK: Oh, no. That will spoil the fun. You're going to tell me, right?

MALVEAUX: I'm going to tell you. Listen to this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL, AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN: The Twinkie is one of the finest examples of engineering. The colors come from a chemical industry from benzene, which is poisonous. But in the small quantities used here the FDA has approved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Alison, poisonous.

KOSIK: I'm shocked.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KOSIK: I'm shocked.

MALVEAUX: They last for like a century in your pantry. They never go bad. You wonder what is keeping them preserved and alive there. Even Hostess, so the company said that once deconstructing the Twinkie is like trying to deconstruct the universe.

KOSIK: If I walk by a vending machine, and I want one of those, it's not going to stop me from getting one. That's how I feel about it.

MALVEAUX: You can buy it. It will probably be preserved for 100 years. So don't worry about it.

KOSIK: That's right. Leave it in your desk drawer forever.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: OK. Alison, great to see you.

And to play in the big leagues, you've got to have the big bucks. White House hopefuls are doing all they can to get more money.

Paul Steinhauser is joining us, following the money trail.

Paul, we know the stakes are high. How are these folks doing when it comes to fundraising?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Fundraising matters so much, Suzanne. Money matters when it comes to politics. The Mitt Romney campaign brought in $24 million in the last three months of the fourth quarter of last year. They still have $19 million cash on hand, money that they can spend right now on ads. It's a lot of money, a lot more of the rivals from the presidential nomination but it's still behind President Barack Obama looking ahead to the general election.

Another note about Romney, one of those pro-Romney independent super PACs, they announced that they are going to spend $3.5 million to run ads in favor of Romney and South Carolina, Florida, the next two states, primaries that were done with New Hampshire here.

One more talk about money. I learned this morning, Rick Santorum, a much more modest campaign, but they say they've raised $3 million just in the last week since they've had the strong second place in Iowa. A top campaign person tells me that they are going to spend that money right away on South Carolina when it comes to ads.

I ate a lot of Twinkies when I was younger and I don't feel so well.

MALVEAUX: They are probably still inside of you.

I know North Carolina voters are being looking for him to address the economy but also conservative social issues as well. How does he get their support?

STEINHAUSER: You know, the next stop is a lot more conservative. More social conservatives and retired military people are in the state as well. For somebody like Romney, he's got to do a different approach, maybe, where you have more Independent voters, more independent-minded people. So it's a whole different kind of climate in South Carolina -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Paul, thank you. Appreciate it. See you in a bit.

As one of his final acts, out-going Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour handed out hundreds of pardons, some of them convicted murders. You've been sounding off on our "Talk Back" question: should unconditional pardon even be allowed?

Craig says, "No, they should not. These people have been removed from society for a very good reason. No pardon should wipe this away like it even happened. The victim's families do not get a pardon from their loss. Why should the individual get one for causing their loss"?

Jack writes, "Of course they should be allowed but perhaps they need to have a better review of the process of the governing body. The power to pardon is there to help rectify wrongful convictions and inhumanity to man in the prison system."

Rick says, "It depends on the circumstances surrounding the crime. Everyone who murdered someone is not a hardened criminal."

Fred writes, "Unconditional pardons should be allowed only if the murdered victims can climb out of their grave and live again."

Danielle says, "I think it sends a bad message. If you put a child in time out and let them leave before their time is up, usually they don't learn anything. It's going to be interesting to see if there are any repeat offenders."

Keep the conversation going at facebook.com/Suzanne. We'll have more responses in the next hour.

A nuclear scientist killed in broad daylight in Tehran. It's not even the first time. Iranian officials are pointing the finger of blame.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: An Iranian nuclear scientist is dead. Here's what we know. An attacker on a motorcycle reportedly pulled up to his car and attached a bomb. This is not even the first time that a nuclear scientist has been killed in Iran.

CNN's Ivan Watson in Istanbul has reported extensively from Iran.

What do we know about, first of all, this nuclear scientist and why somebody would want him dead.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's clearly a pattern here. Someone is killing Iranian nuclear scientists, and this is the latest hit carried out in broad daylight in heavy traffic. Iran state media reports that someone drove up and attached a sticky bomb, magnetic bomb on the car that killed the deputy director of commercial affairs at Tehran's nuclear center, Mostaffa Ahmad Roshon (ph), and later it also killed the driver.

This is not the first time we've seen this type of assassination against this type of target in Iran. Take a look at the other hits that we've seen similarly. In 2010, Mageed Safiari (ph) was killed by a similar motor bike delivered sticky bomb on his car in Tehran and earlier, January 2010, almost exactly two years ago, Masoud Ali Mohammandi (ph), another nuclear physicist, killed by a sticky bomb in Tehran traffic.

(CROSSTALK)

WATSON: It's no surprise that Iranian officials --

(CROSSTALK)

WATSON: They are already blaming the CIA, Israel's Mossad, in the past. They've also blamed Britain's MI6 intelligence agency.

MALVEAUX: Why are they blaming the U.S. and Israel? Why do they suspect that the U.S. is involved?

WATSON: Well, there's no secret that western governments, the U.S. and its allies, are very much against Iran's nuclear program. And just last weekend after Iran announced that it was going to begin enrichment of uranium, and they say it's going to be used to treat cancer patients just on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton came out condemning that move, saying this step once again demonstrates the Iranian regime blatant disregard for its responsibilities and that the country's growing isolation is self-inflicted. "It brings Iran a significant step closer to having the capability to produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium." Iran consistently denies any accusations that it's trying to develop secretly a nuclear bomb -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Ivan Watson, thank you.

Containing Iran has long been a big topic on the campaign trail. The president has talked about increasing sanctions on the rogue country. But all of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, wants to see more action.

Newt Gingrich turned heads when he outlined his plan in a recent debate that some say sounds eerily similar to what happened in Iran yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER HOUSER SPEAKER & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The maximum covert operations to block and disrupt the Iranian program, including taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems, all of it covertly. All of it deniable. Second, maximum coordination with the Israelis in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran. Third, absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher did to the Soviet Union of every possible aspect short of war of breaking the regime and bringing it down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The Iranian government has blamed foreign terrorism for the attack, but neither the United States nor Israel has admitted having anything to do with the scientist's death.