Return to Transcripts main page


Mother Nature Showing No Mercy; Nor'easter Hits Hurricane Sandy Victims; The Race Is Over Except In Florida; Heated House Races Still Unresolved; Compromise Or More Confrontation?; Fiscal Uncertainty

Aired November 8, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is absolutely the last thing they need. People slammed by Sandy, now dealing with a nasty new storm of gusty winds, rain, and snow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Compromise or confrontation. Both sides in Congress promised to work together to head off fiscal disaster, even as they disagree over how to do it.

SAMBOLIN: Up in the air. We are going on two days since Election Day, with several House races still too close to call. Can you believe it?

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Great to see you. It is 6:00 a.m. in the East. Up first, mother nature showing no mercy. This morning, the northeast is getting hammered, again, a powerful nor'easter pounding a region already devastated by Superstorm Sandy. More than 600,000 people without power for nine days in New York and New Jersey.

Some of them forced to evacuate or hunker down overnight in the face of 60-mile-an-hour winds or a two to four-foot storm surge and half a foot of snow. Snow's the real problem here. More than 1,000 flights canceled in New York and Philadelphia.

The path train between New York and New Jersey is back to limited service under the Hudson River. It was shut down ahead of the storm. Penn Station in New York was closed for a while last night, but luckily it is open again today.

We have team coverage of this untimely winter storm. Susan Candiotti is standing in the snow in Asbury Park, New Jersey. First though, we're going to go to Rob Marciano who's in Staten Island where they were still just reeling from last week's hurricane. Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. You know, most of -- so many people who go through disasters like this, you know, by this stage of the game, it's, you know, pick up the pieces and let's move on. You know, better spirits and the community come together.

But when they heard that this storm was coming, boy, it just ripped the heart out of these people, as a lot of them really are still in survival mode without heat or power after Hurricane Sandy.

As a matter of fact, yesterday, we caught up with a number of people, including this family, the Cameradas who live in one of the homes where we're standing near. And they described for me the kind of things emotionally and physically that they're going through.


NICK CAMERADA, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: I went through the most pain I ever went through in my whole life, from being electrocuted, trying to get back into my house, to watching all my possessions and my family practically almost dying.

DIANE CAMERADA, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: This has been a week from hell. I mean, you know, I'm grateful that I have my family.


MARCIANO: My goodness, they've been through so, so much, and they have their four kids and they're sleeping tonight, albeit, in some cold. This home behind me actually shoved off its foundation from the storm surge that was here during Sandy.

It was up and over my shoulders. This dumpster is here to clean up some of the debris. This storm is not over, even though it has stopped snowing here on Staten Island and eastern Long Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, they're still getting it.

Some spots got up to a foot of snow, both in New Jersey and Connecticut. And also, some of the wind gusts recorded across Massachusetts, up and over hurricane strength, 76-mile-an-hour gusts in Burdens' Bay there near Cape Cod.

The center of the storm is near Cape Cod right now, swirling more snow across Connecticut. So a lot of places there may very well get over 10 inches, if not more. So more power outages, you can be sure of that because this is a heavy, wet snow.

Even in places like Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, certainly New Jersey, I'm sure, the power lines and the trees, grabbing that wet snow are weighed down. A lot of it will melt, but that's not going to happen until later on today.

BERMAN: All right, Rob Marciano in Staten Island, New York. Thanks so much. All I can say is, enough, enough, already. No more.

SAMBOLIN: All right, turning to New Jersey now, where there is still a staggering nine days after Sandy made landfall, it is a mess. Governor Chris Christie says this latest nor'easter could actually send the recovery moving backwards.

So let's head to the Jersey Shore. Susan Candiotti is joining us live from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Walk us through what's happening there.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reason the governor is saying it may be pushing the recovery backwards is because of the amount of snow that they got overnight and additional power outages. The snow last night, Zoraida, was blowing sideways. It was bad, finally stopped, overnight hours. But you can see what's left.

Look at the snow. Rob is talking about the same thing where they are, 2 to 4 inches along the coastline, upwards of 6 to 9 1/2 inches in seaside community just south of where we are.

Incredibly, the current plan is to allow residents of an island south of here who have been unable to get back to their homes to go back there for a few hours this afternoon, so they are expecting, of course, the weather to improve, possibly even getting some sunshine this afternoon.

Won't that be a welcome relief? But the fact of the matter is, at least 40,000 more customers are without power because of that nor'easter that swept through here overnight. So it's a big mess. You can still see here, they do have power, thankfully, but the roads are an absolute mess, all this heavy, wet snow.

So now they're going to have to get through that. And let's just see how the gas lines are going to be today, now that there are additional power outages and how that might also impact the supply trucks that are trying to get to the gas stations are that do have power. Zoraida, back to you.

SAMBOLIN: I know it's just a mess. Susan Candiotti live for us. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: You know, keep checking in with us throughout the day here on CNN and online. You can follow us @cnnweather on Twitter for the latest on the storm.

SAMBOLIN: It is 5 minutes past the hour. President Obama fresh off re-election faces his next big challenge, avoiding the fiscal cliff. Congressional leaders from both parties conceding the election was a call to compromise.

What that compromise is hasn't been ironed out. We will go live to Washington with more on what House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. That is coming up.

BERMAN: The presidential race is over, except in Florida, of course. The state's 29 electoral votes still unclaimed, but they aren't make or break this time around, obviously. President Obama still holds a razor-thin lead there.

SAMBOLIN: Listen to this, seven House races still up for grabs, across the country, including the heated contest on Florida's Treasure Coast between Tea Party Republican Allen West, Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy. Right now, Murphy has a very slim lead of less than 2,500 votes.

So in Palm Springs, California, Republican Mary Bono Mack, widow of late singer and congressman, Sunny Bono, is not giving up. She trails with all precincts reporting now, but she says that a large number of ballots have yet to be counted. So she's still holding on to hope. BERMAN: Minding your business now, U.S. stock futures are flat this morning.

SAMBOLIN: The market had a rough day yesterday. Christine Romans is here to explain the factors that are driving that big sell-off.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They've had the roughest day we've seen in more than a year, since November of last year, 312 points down on the Dow, below 13,000, folks, for the first time really in three months.

You can see the Down close yesterday, 2,932. Can I show you the internal market sectors? Internal sectors were telling us this was a reaction to the Obama victory. Banks were down, insurers were down, coal and energy stocks were down, for-profit education, dividend- paying stocks were down.

The president said he would like to raise taxes on investment income. That's why the dividend-payers were down and many of those other industries are saying, look, we think that we're going to have more regulation as the president and the Democrats have promised.

And that's going to cost more money, so investors were at least making that bet yesterday. We're seeing that futures are flat now and maybe even leaning a little bit higher. So they're not looking for a second day of this, at least not now.

And hospital stocks were up because the thinking on Wall Street is that Obamacare is now finally, finally secure. Between two terms of this president and the Supreme Court weighing in, hospitals will likely be paid for all the people who come in the front door for the first time ever, and that would be something that would add to their bottom line.

So why the market sell-off overall? Because it just wasn't a reaction to the election, you also have this big concern about Europe's debt crisis. The European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi made some comments about Germany and Europe, and that's exactly when futures yesterday started to go down.

Fiscal cliff, you've got the same cast of characters that have got to solve the fiscal cliff in about 54 days to do it. The markets want to see some positive commentary from the players that they're going to get it done.

The debt ceiling, could happen by the end of the year, maybe into February, but more likely, we're coming up on very soon we'll be fighting about the debt ceiling again. A quick reminder for you, the Dow is up, it is up 4 percent year to date, so it is still up for you, but yesterday was a pretty tough date.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Christine, thank you very much.

Now that the voters have spoken, will there be a new era of compromise on Capitol Hill, or will it be more of the same as we approach that fiscal cliff that Christine was talking about? We'll go live to Washington, where there are signs of both, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. We are in the nation's capital. I've got some good news for you, Washington, D.C. It is 42 right now, a little bit later, 52 and sunny. You have sunshine headed your way.

So the big race is in the books, now the next big political question is, will there be compromise or more confrontation in Congress over the looming fiscal cliff?

It set to begin taking effect in January. It includes $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts over a decade, and this morning, there are signs that both sides want to work something out.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is following all of these developments from Washington. Paul, could there be a compromise?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, both parties are talking about the election being a call to compromise. And yesterday, on Wednesday, we saw both, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in Congress, and John Boehner, the House Speaker, the top Republican in Congress, each separately holding news conferences and talking about the possibility of working together to try to solve the nation's problems.

But, Zoraida, in both those news conferences, both men also laying down markers when it comes to the negotiations over the fiscal cliff and both very much disagreeing over whether there should be tax increases for the wealthy. Take a listen.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: We also have the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight and certainly won't do it in a lame- duck session of Congress. And it won't be solved simply by raising taxes or taking a plunge off the fiscal cliff.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) MAJORITY LEADER: The vast majority of the American people, rich, poor, everybody agrees that the rich, richest of the rich have to help a little bit.


STEINHAUSER: You just heard Boehner there. There is a agreement on the timing as well. John Boehner saying, no, let's just try to get a temporary fix now, a framework, but solve these problems permanently next year with the new Congress. Harry Reid saying, no, let's get it done with the lame duck before the end of the year and not kick it down the road again -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: So, Paul, where does the balance of power stand in the House and the Senate?

STEINHAUSER: It has changed since yesterday morning when you guys were -- were last on. Take a look at this. In the Senate, we called the final two races yesterday, and now you'll have 54 Democrats in their coalition, including one independent from Vermont who caucuses with them.

Forty five Republicans and there's Angus King, the independent, the former governor of Maine. We don't know who is going to caucus with. If he does caucus with the Democrats, as many people think, it would be a 55-45 balance of power plus two for the Democrats in the house.

Take a look at this, we still have eight races outstanding in the House, but here are numbers right now in the new Congress, 233 for the Republicans and 194 for the Democrats.

If they pick up some of those remaining eight seats, that will be probably a pickup of about five or six seats for the Democrats, but the Republicans still firmly in charge in the House -- Zoraida?

SAMBOLIN: And, Paul, key conservatives are reassessing and calling for change within the GOP.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, didn't take long. The election was over just one day when a bunch of top fiscal social conservatives as well, and Tea Party activists and Tea Party leaders met here in Washington at the National Press Club, had a news conference, were critical of both the Romney campaign and of Republican leaders in Congress.

Take a listen.


RICHARD VIGUERIE, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVEHQ.COM: The battle to take over the Republican Party begins today and the failed Republican leadership should resign. Out of last night's disaster comes some good news, however. Conservatives are saying never again are we going to nominate a big government establishment Republican for president.


STEINHAUSER: I think this is just the very beginning of where the Republican Party and conservatives go from here, as they wake up from this very tough election -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of dialogue happening.

Paul Steinhauser, live in Washington, thank you.

And Mitt Romney might have suffered a tough loss, but at least his opponent was alive. Get this -- in Florida, Democrat Earl Wood won his 12th term as Orange County tax collector, even though he has been dead since October 15th.

Same deal in Alabama, folks. Republican Charles Beasley, who died October 12th, won a county commissioner's race with 53 percent of the vote.

BERMAN: Not very good in the debates. Many Americans show support for their favorite candidate by posting campaign signs. But what happens to all that paper and plastic and metal when the voting is done?

(INAUDIBLE) of Colorado says he ended up with a car full of old signs because his local recycling facility refused to take them, until now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they come through our system here and get bailed into cubes and we ship those off to the end processor, to make new items out of those materials. It can be a flower pot or a trash bag, it can be a toy, lawn chair, it could a bunch of different things.


BERMAN: Thanks to recycling, there's also a chance that these old signs may come back as new sign during the next election.

SAMBOLIN: A rebirth, a rebirth.

BERMAN: I love collecting campaign signs. If you have old ones, send them here. We love them.

Seventeen minutes after the hour.

SAMBOLIN: What do you do with them?

BERMAN: You hang them up. You save them forever and forever. There's nothing better than a Mondale/Ferraro sign from 1984. It's great to have them.

SAMBOLIN: I don't see any in your office.

BERMAN: We'll share them with you.

We want to get you up-to-date with all the headlines. And Christine Romans is here with that.

ROMANS: Berman's man cave is full of political signs and buttons.

SAMBOLIN: Maybe we should check out your home.

ROMANS: All right, guys.

Just as the Northeast is beginning to rise from the canvas, another knockout blow from Mother Nature. A powerful nor'easter packing damaging winds, driving snow is slamming into the areas, the areas hardest hit last week by Hurricane Sandy. Over 100,000 new power outages reported in New York and New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie says this latest storm could send his state's recovery moving backwards.

Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords will be on hand today in a Tucson courtroom when the man who shot her receives his sentence. Jared Lee Loughner murdered six people during a shooting rampage at a public event staged by Giffords back in January of 2001. Giffords and 12 others were wounded in the attack in a Tucson shopping center. Loughner is expected to be sentenced to life inside a federal prison.

China appears to be two years away from deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons. That's the headline of a new report compiled the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. Congress asked for this report, which also calls China, quote, "the most threatening power in cyberspace, and the biggest challenge to the integrity of the U.S. supply chain." The commission recommends invading Beijing in arms reduction talks.

SAMBOLIN: It is -- thank you, Christine --

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: --18 minutes past the hour.

A closer look at the fiscal cliff and the talking Congress about attempting to avoid it. Is there a sign of common ground?


BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning.

The Dow dropped more than 300 points yesterday, partly because of the reaction to the re-election of President Obama. But one of the driving factors, the looming fiscal cliff.

SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans is here to explain.

ROMANS: The election is a status quo. It's a divided Congress. It is the president in for a second term. But it has also reset the stage.

And now all the players are coming out and putting their markers out, about where we're going to be for the fiscal cliff and negotiating it, because we have 54 days to fix it. And a reminder, the fiscal cliff is massive tax increases and spending cuts that hit all in the beginning of the year.

Let's listen to what Majority Leader John Boehner said. Let's listen to him.


BOEHNER: A stronger economy means more revenue, which is what the president seeks. Because the American people expect us to find common ground, we're waiting to accept some additional revenues via tax reform.


ROMANS: Additional revenues via tax reform. OK, that's a little bit. He gave a little bit there. He's not saying he's going to raise taxes on the rich, which is the White House would like to do, but he is saying that maybe, maybe they'll be open to closing some loopholes so you could raise some revenue.

But in the same breath, though, he did hold the line.


BOEHNER: But the American people also expect us to solve the problem. And for that reason, in order to garner Republican support for new revenues, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our debt.


ROMANS: So maybe we'll give on this, but we're not going to give on that. So that's where you're going to see all the parties coming up and giving their, you know, charting their territory here. We don't have very much time to fix it. I love what Harry Reid said yesterday, from the Democrat's side. He said, it's more fun to dance than it is to fight -- which is true.

BERMAN: You know, and he's a former boxer. So, he knows -- it's true -- he knows a little bit about --


ROMANS: They've been fight for so long that they've took us here to the brink and this is one of the reasons why the market had such a hard time yesterday. Because the market would like to see, the world would like to see that there's progress on this. And that the biggest economy in the world and the biggest democracy in the world is not going to, you know, fall apart over partisan bickering.

SAMBOLIN: The one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: The one thing you need to know, 401(k) balance are at their highest in the last 12 years. This is what Fidelity told us, brand- new numbers from Fidelity overnight. Average balances in a 401(k) are now $75,900. That's in the third quarter. It's up 18 percent from the same period last year. Employer contributions and company matches, they are up 19 percent from the third quarter of 2007.

BERMAN: So some smart planning. Hey, America.

ROMANS: I think people look out and they see, you know, I've got to be saving more, I've got to be putting more of my paycheck away, because a lot of people are not getting paychecks and that's a real problem about your financial security. So, anyway, those numbers from Fidelity this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. Special delivery for the Colorado governor's office, Cheetos and Goldfish.

SAMBOLIN: Two of your favorite foods? BERMAN: I just like them for the taste. The story behind these symbolic snacks, coming up.

And if you're leaving the house, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to


BERMAN: Insult to injury -- areas hardest hit by Sandy now have a nor'easter on their hands.

SAMBOLIN: Facing the fiscal cliff. Both sides talking about compromise in the wake of President Obama's re-election.

BERMAN: Not so fast. The DEA with something to say about Colorado voting to legalize marijuana.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Great to see you. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're happy you're with us this morning.

Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

We're going to start with that powerful nor'easter. It is beating up an already battered Northeast this morning. One New Yorker calls it the sequel to a horror movie.

Hundreds of people are still without power, that is from Superstorm Sandy, forced to face damaging winds, bitter cold temperatures, driving snow, all of this in the dark because there's no power.

Let's go right to Rob Marciano, live from Staten Island to New York, where they're still reeling from last week's hurricane.

Rob, what's the situation there this morning?

MARCIANO: It's cold, but the snow has stopped. But we got more snow than we expected. I mean, just to have it accumulate is something we really didn't expect. And we've seen really four or five inches here on Staten Island.

You know, a lot of people aren't staying here. Homes like this, not completely wiped off their foundation, but pushed off enough, that's pretty much not livable.

There are some people that are getting up and about. This dumpster here, because people are throwing a lot of stuff out, sadly.

And now with this snow, we've seen quite a bit of additional power outages in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and it's not over. Take a look at the radar. Show you where this storm is.

Even though it has not stopped snowing here in New York City, Long Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, you still have several hours of this to go through, before it's all done. So they've seen up to a foot of snow already in Connecticut. You'll probably see several more inches, and the winds are blowing as well.

Here's the forecast track of the storm, expected to continue to move off to the north and east slowly, not nearly as fast as we would like it. Good news is that temperatures will be above freezing for the most part.

And, you know, look, it's still the first week, pretty much, of November. So to get this much snow is unusual. As a matter of fact, guys, this set a record for the largest early season snowfall, beating last year's October snowstorm. And as we said, a record as far as Central Park goes, for the day, we're seeing about four inches.

So, unusual just to have snowfall this early, but certainly to come just over a week after a hurricane.


MARCIANO: It's just tough to even imagine.

SAMBOLIN: Some of the people were saying that you expect this in February, but you certainly don't expect it this time of year.

Rob Marciano, thank you. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: I want to go to New Jersey now, another area just pounded by Superstorm sandy. Dozens of communities along the shore are still struggling to recover, nine days after that epic hurricane. Governor Chris Christie says this latest storm could actually send the recovery efforts moving backwards.

So, we'll go to Susan Candiotti joining us now live from the hard-hit Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Hey, Susan.


And, of course, the governor also added this, as only he can. What's next, locusts and pestilence? Well, he may not be far off, but that's how a lot of people feel in this past week.

I'm standing in a spot here, you see all the snow. Maybe two to four inches along the coastline. Maybe more than that inland, upwards of 9 1/2 inches, 12 inches at Newark's airport.

But here's where last week we were in the same spot -- my colleagues, as well. And there's the ocean. The waves were crashing over here, and I just want to show you how high up they had gone. Way up over this building that we're standing next to.

Well, now, forget the floodwaters. All that stuff has turned to wet -- heavy, wet snow.

And now, this is what people are waking up to. Many of them with their power out all over again. We understand that at least 40,000 more customers have lost power here in New Jersey, and those are just the early numbers. So people have to now put up with that.

Not only that, but, John, they're also trying to figure out, how's this going to impact the gas supplies. Will those supplies still be able to get to the gas stations that still have power? Will it be hard for the trucks to get through? What's going to happen with that?

So it's, again, just a one-two punch, like knocking someone while they're already down -- John.

BERMAN: New problems that no one needs this morning.

Susan Candiotti in New Jersey -- thanks so much. Some amazing pictures from Asbury Park. Thanks, Susan.

SAMBOLIN: And remember to upload your pictures and videos of the storm to our iReports Web site at

BERMAN: All right. Get this -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has fired his director of emergency management following allegations that the official used government workers to clear a tree from his driveway. A Cuomo administration source tells CNN that Steven Kuhr arranged wit the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management to remove from his home in East North Fork, Long Island, following Hurricane Sandy.

SAMBOLIN: Folks in New York and New Jersey who got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy are getting a break -- listen to this -- from a wireless provider. If you're a Verizon customer, they say they will waive all charges for domestic calls and text messages. That is between October 29th and November 16th. That is for customers who live in places that were affected by the storm. That is very generous.

BERMAN: President Obama reaching across the aisle to avoid the fiscal cliff. He called House Speaker John Boehner yesterday. Congressional leaders from both parties conceding Tuesday's election was a call to compromise.


BOEHNER: There's an alternative to going over the fiscal cliff. By working together and creating a fairer, simpler, cleaner tax code, we can give our country a stronger, healthier economy. A stronger economy means more revenue, which is what the president seeks.

REID: This isn't something that I'm going to draw the lines in the sand, he's not going to draw any lines in the sand, I don't believe, and I think we need to work together.


BERMAN: The CEO of a global asset management firm put the odds at 30 percent to 40 percent that the U.S. will fall off the fiscal cliff. Let's hope he's wrong. SAMBOLIN: Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado says don't break out the Cheetos or the Goldfish, at least not yet, after voters passed a ballot measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. That's setting up a looming legal battle with the Justice Department.

We have this statement from the DEA. Quote, "The Drug Enforcement Administration's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives and we have no additional comment at this time."

BERMAN: And on the subject of Cheetos and Goldfish, you knew this would happen. A special delivery of Cheetos and Goldfish sent to the Colorado governor's office by a local marijuana advocate. The governor was out, so we don't know if he had a chance to eat them yet. His secretary accepted the shipment. Governor Hickenlooper still has to sign of on the ballot measure before recreational marijuana use in Colorado is officially approved.

SAMBOLIN: So we all remember the last time he was on twitter. Coming up, why disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner is tweeting again. Is there a picture attached?


SAMBOLIN: Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning, right at the top of the hour. The nor'easter that you guys have been talking about that's pounding the Northeast. There are some areas that have been hit that haven't been started to recover from Sandy. We're going to take a closer look this morning as the sun comes up at some of the damage.

President Obama has now secured four more years, so what now? We'll take a look at some of those looming problems that he faces, the challenges of dealing with a divided Congress. We'll talk to Texas senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will join us. Ohio Congressman Steven LaTourette, and Austan Goolsbee, a former member of the Obama administration will be sitting down to talk about what exactly is this fiscal cliff that everybody's up in arms about.

And with so much at stake, is it even possible to find something to laugh at? Well, comedian David Alan Grier would say, absolutely. We'll chat with him this morning as well.

BERMAN: You know, it's great to hear from David Alan Grier, of course. But I'm so happy that Kay Bailey Hutchison is going to be here, because she's retiring. She's living the Senate. It's always so interesting to talk to members of Congress when they have one foot out the door. You tend to get a much more different perspective when they're not running again.

O'BRIEN: Honesty.

BERMAN: A different perspective, I mean honesty actually.

O'BRIEN: That people to feel they're going to come back to work next year don't have. That's 20 minutes from now.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: Forty minutes past the hour.

Mother Nature delivering a jarring hook on top of last week's epic body blow to the Northeast. A powerful winter-like storm knocking out power to another 100,000 customers in New Jersey or New York and the New Jersey area. Damaging winds, really bitter cold temperatures, and driving snow, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to hunker down in the dark overnight.

BERMAN: Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords will be inside a Tucson courtroom today to watch the man who shot her receive a sentence. Jared Lee Loughner is expected to get life in prison when he goes before a federal judge today. He murdered six people during a shooting rampage in January of 2011. Giffords and 12 others were wounded in that attack.

SAMBOLIN: President Obama is a clear winner, but the race, it is still undecided in Florida. The state's 29 electoral votes are still unclaimed this morning. But they aren't, of course, make or break this time around. President Obama still holds a razor-thin lead there.


BERMAN: You are looking and hearing the angry reaction to a new round of austerity measures in Greece. The cuts are required for Greece to keep getting bailout funds, but they also mean slashing people's paychecks and pensions. About 70,000 people protested outside parliament before lawmakers approved these cuts.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So he is tweeting again. The former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner posted his first tweet yesterday, since resigning nearly 18 months ago, after sending a sext over the social networking site. The tweet included a link to a YouTube video, raising awareness for victims of Sandy in the Rockaways, part of which falls in his old district.

BERMAN: It's right where his district used to be.


BERMAN: And it's not really a typo or a spelling mistake, but it's been bothering drivers trying to turn left in Jackson, Mississippi. You can understand why. State officials say a contractor had the template backwards when they painted this turn lane. They got the letter N wrong.

I don't know why it's so funny. It really is hilarious. They said they'd fix it after the asphalt dries.

Honest mistake.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. So you stop and kind of think and look and hold up traffic.

All right. It will be a new term next year for President Obama and perhaps a new reality for the GOP as well. Will that mean compromise on Capitol Hill? We're going to talk about that, coming up.


BERMAN: All right. You are looking at the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C. It is 42 degrees there now. It will be 52 later. I ran past that dome in Washington the last three days. And you know what I noticed? They're already building the stage for the inauguration. I was wondering then, who the stage would be for.

Now, we know, because President Obama has secured a second term, and leaders from both parties are already changing their tune on negotiating a solution to the fiscal cliff. The White House released a statement saying talks have already begun with leaders in the House and Senate, and both Democratic Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, seem to be signaling a sort of willingness to compromise, at least a little, in the wake of Tuesday night's results.

We're back now with former senior adviser to President Clinton and writer, Richard Socarides. It's his birthday today. We're also joined by Republican strategist and contributor with the "Chicago Defender," Lenny McAllister.

Lenny, let's start with you, even though it's not your birthday. You're a Republican. What is your reaction to the election?

LENNY MCALLISTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: My general reaction is, we need more leadership, we need more inclusive leadership, and we need more visionary leadership. As a matter of fact, I have a meeting with somebody later on today, my choice as who I think should be leading the RNC moving forward.

If we'll remember, in 2008, after the election there, we had the upcoming of Michael Steele into the RNC. And in 2010, we ended up seeing a lot more diversity from the Republican Party in regards to candidates and people actually winning elections, both Latinos and African-Americans.

I would like to see the same exact same in 2013 moving forward, but this time, not have it just be a trend, have it be an actual movement. That's something that the Republican Party needs to do if we're going to lead a diverse America in the 21st century.

BERMAN: Can you give me a name? You said you had an idea of who --


MCALLISTER: I need to make sure I have this meeting with this individual first, but this person is here in Washington.

BERMAN: All right. Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina has been talking a lot about the shape of the Republican Party going forward, particularly, after this election. I'll just throw up some numbers here while I have -- I'm on this subject. Among Latino voters, President Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote, Mitt Romney, just 27 percent.

With African-Americans, it was, you know, even more of a blowout, 93 percent for the president, six percent for Mitt Romney. Last night with Anderson, Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina, was sort of talking about this situation. Let's listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think most Hispanic voters, they didn't have a real fondness for President Obama. His job approval rating among Hispanic was about 50 percent. I just think they saw him as a lesser of two evils between Obama and us, because he didn't really lift a finger to do comprehensive immigration reform like he promised.

So, we'll be back in the game. Immigration is a national issue, it's just not a Hispanic issue, it's an American issue, and there's a solution to be found out there if people want to find it.


BERMAN: You know, is it as simple as he says, Lenny? Will you get back in the game that easily?

MCALLISTER: I think that when it comes to our principles, when it comes to the economy, when it comes to education and some of the things that we want to offer the American people, the Republican Party and our conservative principles have something to offer Latinos and African-Americans.

But when you're talking about electrified fence and you're talking about voter suppression, you're not going to win any voters within those two groups. And that's the reason why we need leaders within the conservative movement and the Republican Party, that can articulate the values without going down that very dangerous and insulting path that we saw throughout 2012.

BERMAN: So, Richard, the president was criticized a lot during the first four years for not doing more for immigration reform. With these election results, given his strong, strong support from Latinos, doesn't he owe it to them to go further out on a limb for serious immigration reform?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Yes. I think he does, and I think he will. The question is, what kind of cooperation is he going to get? You can't do it alone? He still has a divided Congress.

But, you know, I think Lenny is correct that if the Republicans continue these extreme positions, there's not going to be much progress. So, they have a real question that faces them right now.

BERMAN: You know, it's easy to say that the Republicans have extreme -- easy for someone in your position to accuse the Republicans of having extreme positions, but Democrats have their own positions, which have made the president's negotiating capabilities complicated over the last few years, especially on the fiscal cliff issues, on budget deals.

Nancy Pelosi, a lot of people pushing him not to make a deal when the deal may or may not have been available. Is it going to make it harder, given this election, given that he's got issues within his own party, how hard will it be for the president to make a deal this time?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think, you know, these elections are great clarifying moments, and I think people are going to be a lot more willing to make a deal. I think there's going to be a spirit of compromise. And I think that we will have a deal, you know, the consequences of not having a deal are so big, that I think people -- everybody knows that Americans want the parties to come together now.

The real question is going forward, after we have a deal, a fiscal deal, what is the president going to do next year to lead us? What direction are we going to move in the country?

BERMAN: Do you really think that Nancy Pelosi and some of the liberals from the Democratic Party will stomach cuts to certain entitlements?

SOCARIDES: I think both sides are going to compromise, and I think they will.

PINSKY: Lenny? You think -- are you as optimistic as Richard seems to be on the fiscal cliff?

MCALLISTER: Yes I am, because I think that unlike 2009, when President Obama was still pretty much moving to Washington, he's going to go to the Democrats and say, we're going to do this my way. In 2009, he handed over the keys to three hyper-partisans, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid.

He's going to go to Washington in January and say, Democrats, Republicans, I'm a lame duck president that is worried about my legacy. We're going to be bipartisan and we're going to be stately with how we do this. We're not going to have a repeat of 2009. I think that we can see the true potential of an Obama bipartisan presidency if he chooses that tone this time around.

BERMAN: I have a few seconds left here, so we'll engage in one of my favorite parlor games, because it is two days after the 2012 election. Both of you, give me your top two names for 2016 for your party? Lenny first


MCALLISTER: For my party, it's going to probably be Christie and Rubio. BERMAN: Richard?

SOCARIDES: Well, it's going to be Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Andrew Cuomo.

BERMAN: Interesting. All right. Thank you, guys, very much. Richard Socarides, a writer for the, a CNN contributor, and a birthday boy, and Lenny McAllister, Republican strategist, great to talk to you this morning. Thanks, guys.

SOCARIDES: Thanks, John. God bless.

BERMAN: Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. As you would expect, the late-night comedians had some fun last night with the results of Tuesday's presidential election.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": You just relieved it's finally over, aren't you?


O'BRIEN: After 18 months, the election is over.


O'BRIEN: Now, now we can get back to what's really important, what the hell is going on with Bruce Jenner's face?


O'BRIEN: That's what we need to be talking about in this nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he just is constantly being terrified by something.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": You know, Donald Trump was going to give President Obama a $5 million to turn over his college records. Well, guess what? Today, President Obama turned over his college records to Donald Trump. It's the Electoral College record.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Congratulations to President Obama on being re-elected president of the United States. Congratulations.


LENO: It turns out it is not all bad news for the Republicans. I guess, seems depression is covered by Obamacare.



BERMAN: Some late-night laughs. You know, these guys are going to need a whole lot of material starting about now. Their lives are not going to get easier.

Fifty-three minutes after the hour right now. And today's "Best Advice," coming up next. Stay with us.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. That's a live picture of New York City. I wish I had some good news for you, but, boy, we were hit with a nor'easter that really is crippling folks all over the place here.

So, I have a feel-good story for you. They're doing it for Chuck, the Indianapolis Colts, shaving their heads before tonight's game against the Jaguars. This is a show of support for their coach, Chuck Pagano, who left the team to undergo treatment for leukemia. The Colts and rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, are one of the feel-good stories of the season and looking to improve to 6-3 tonight.

BERMAN: It is a really nice story.

Meanwhile, the Jackson Four plus one. TMZ reports that Jermaine Jackson petitioned to change his famous last name from Jackson to Jacksun. J-A-C-K-S-U-N. He filed a name change petition on Tuesday in Los Angeles stating the switch was for artistic reasons. What kind of artistic reasons can you have with the letter "O"?

SAMBOLIN: Maybe, he just wants to be Sonny? I don't know. It makes no sense. But, call him.

BERMAN: It's Jermaine Jackson.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, call him.


BERMAN: All right.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We're going to wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." Here's Christine.

ROMANS: And we asked Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, the best advice he ever received. Here's what he told us.


JIM ROGERS, CEO, DUKE ENERGY: The best advice I've ever received is to stay focused, stay in the moment, deliver on the task at hand, but never forget to look up at the horizon and have dreams about how do you get to the horizon?


ROMANS: That is the best advice from a company executive. That is the way executives think. Look at right now, make sure you're delivering right now, but keep your eye longer term on what's changing and how to make sure you get the long term --

BERMAN: Yes. He knew where he was going with that. He knew exactly what the advice was.

All right. That is all from EARLY START this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.