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WEEKEND EARLY START: Challenges for Sandy Victims; GOP-ocalypse Now; World Shows Love To Taliban Victim; CIA Chief David Petraeus Resigns; More Than 300,000 Still Without Power; Going Over the Fiscal Cliff

Aired November 10, 2012 - 06:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.


ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: There's something missing. The FBI does not, as a matter of routine, look into the affairs of CIA officers.


KAYE: Scandal has infiltrated the CIA and has taken down a four-star general. But David Petraeus' resignation might be just the tip of a bigger secret.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The new majority. The women's choice. Battles over voting rights. Tuesday's election taught new lessons. And all morning, we'll put what we learned in focus.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK: And they should be held accountable over their failure.


KAYE: Fury over the darkness that still plagues Sandy's victims. Who is to blame for the loss of power that has now gone on for nearly two weeks?

It is Saturday, November 10th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for starting your morning with us.

And we start with a shocking revelation from the now former CIA director, General David Petraeus. Petraeus resigned from his post citing an extra marital affair. But it was a hard pill for the president to swallow.


FRED KAPLAN, AUTHOR, "THE INSURGENTS": I was told that General Petraeus submitted this letter of resignation yesterday and that Obama agonized over this for the last 24 hours.


KAPLAN: He did not want to sign it. Did not want to accept it. But Petraeus urged him to please accept it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're saying he got the letter a day ago and the president didn't want to accept it?



KAYE: Petraeus had met personally with the president Thursday to offer his resignation. The president reluctantly accepted it on Friday. Petraeus offered this statement shortly afterwards. "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extra marital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."

People in the intelligence community were understandably shocked.


FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: He was -- he seemed beyond reproach. He worked incredibly hard. He was incredibly competent. And so nobody -- you know, Dianne Feinstein, today, called his resignation tragic. And I think that's right. I think his resignation is a real loss to the country.


KAYE: The CIA will now be run by Michael Morell, who has been deputy director since May of 2010.

BLACKWELL: The general's affair was actually uncovered during an investigation by the FBI, as author Ronald Kessler described on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."


RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR, (voice-over): A reference to something going on under a desk, well, it actually meant he was having sex with her under the desk, but the FBI thought it might refer to corruption. In other words, doing something under the table. And that's how this investigation started. The FBI then went back and traced all of his e- mails and ascertained that, you know, he was having this affair with this woman and, of course, that is a total violation of top secret security rules.


BLACKWELL: Well, the tip the FBI was acting on involved a rumored affair with Petraeus' biographer Paula Broadwell. Broadwell spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan and wrote the book, "All In: The Education of General Petraeus." Now, CNN has not been able to reach Broadwell for comment. It is also not clear whether Broadwell is the women with whom Petraeus had admitted to -- has admitted, rather, to having an affair with that led to his resignation. Petraeus did not name the woman he was having the affair with.

KAYE: That FBI investigation is being questioned now. A U.S. official tells CNN that the FBI wasn't investigating General Petraeus for any wrongdoing. Instead, they were looking to see if he was vulnerable to blackmail. And that could compromise security. But even those reasons don't sit well with some.


BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: But the idea that the FBI is investigating the CIA director for an marital -- extra marital affair is just extraordinary. I have never seen it happen and it smacks of George Orwell. It's more to do than with sex. There's something going on here, which I can't explain. And I think we're going to find out very soon.


BLACKWELL: Well, this has also raised questions regarding the role of the White House and the timing of this announcement.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This is the key question right now in front of everybody. How extraordinary would it be that you have this type of FBI investigation into your CIA director and the president is not informed about it? This seems to really beg (ph) belief at the moment.

The word is circulating that the president was not aware. That, you know, only once Petraeus came to him. But it really seems to beg (ph) believe that someone in the White House didn't know that the FBI didn't inform the White House in some fashion.


BLACKWELL: We'll investigate that. Plus, we'll examine the career and influence of General David Petraeus. All that is coming up a little later in the show.

KAYE: Other news we're following this morning. The presidential election may be history for most of the nation, but that's not the case in Florida where the ballots are, believe it or not, still being counted. CNN has not yet projected the winner, but the latest tally show President Obama with a 63,000 vote edge out of more than 8 million cast. Counties have until noon today to submit unofficial results to the secretary of state.

But the story is different in California, where House Democrats have picked up another seat after Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack conceded to her challenger, Raul Ruiz. Bono Mack had served eight terms in Congress beginning in 1998 when she succeeded her late husband, Singer Sonny Bono. BLACKWELL: And across the country, voting rights were a concern for some. For a lot of people, actually. New laws, confusion and voting machine shortages had some watchdogs crying foul. Well, now, despite the criticisms, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act. A law seen as the federal government's most powerful tool in protecting minority rights at the polls. The plaintiff, one Alabama county, says the feds should not subject some states to stricter standards than others. Oral arguments will be held next year with the ruling expected in June.

KAYE: And after the one-two punch of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter, hundreds of thousands remain without power throughout the northeast, including an estimated 150,000 customers in three Long Island counties. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offering a stinging critique of LIPA, the utility company in charge.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We gave them a franchise because they represented themselves as experts at doing this. And they failed. And they should be held accountable for their failure.

In the meantime, they should be doing everything humanly possible to improve their performance and get these people out of the pain and the suffering that they've been subjected to.


KAYE: And President Obama will head to New York this Thursday to tour the areas impacted by Sandy.

In fact, some people could be without power until Christmas. But lack of power isn't the only problem the Sandy victims are dealing with. There are also long gas lines, limited access to resources and low temperatures from the nor'easter that hit the region. Joining me by phone now is Howard Lorsch, a resident of Oceanside, New York, and the father of our intern, Emily (ph), it turns out.

Howard, good morning. Tell us, what is the scone there in Oceanside?

HOWARD LORSCH, OCEANSIDE, NEW YORK, RESIDENT (via telephone): Well, good morning, Randi. It's a -- first of all, I want to thank you for having me on and allowing me to speak a little bit for my community.

But to answer your question about what it's like in Oceanside. It's kind of -- it's like being ignored and abandoned a little. We still have no power on my block. That means there's no heat, no hot water. Everyone on our block lost at least everything on the first floor of our homes. The garbage and contents of our homes are piled high in front of everyone's home. And there's been no garbage truck or garbage pick up on my block for over 12 days since before the storm.

I've not seen a LIPA truck. As I said, every car on the block has been destroyed and most still on the street. So they're trash as well. And not seeing any police or FEMA or really no one to help restore our power. KAYE: So nobody has come by to check on all of you and check on the community there?

LORSCH: Well, no. It's -- in short, Oceanside really looks like a war zone. And we see lots of trucks on the main road heading to Long Beach. And certainly they've been devastated as well. But Oceanside seems like the community that's kind of been left to its own devices and has been ignored and disregarded up until now.

KAYE: So how are you and your neighbors coping?

LORSCH: Well, we're working together in trying to survive. Basically watching out for each other. Guarding and keeping an eye out for each other's homes and property. We've not really gotten any communication or information about when or how power will be restored, and that just makes matters worse.

KAYE: Well, as I said just a moment ago, LIPA saying that power for some might not get back on until Christmas. I mean, what will you do until then?

LORSCH: That's a great question. There are people that are staying in hotels. It's gotten very cold. At night it gets very dark and very spooky and it's kind of like a ghost town. So people are staying with neighbors, in hotels. We actually stayed in a hotel at first, but it was 50 miles away. And with the gas situation, that was just adding insult to injury.

KAYE: Yes, and a lot of people don't want to leave their homes, as well, right?

LORSCH: Well, because we haven't seen really much protection and, obviously, we're -- there are people that are roaming up and down the block kind of going through our garbage, which was two weeks ago. You know, our stuff, our belongings, our treasured belonging kids old toys and it's all out there on our lawns now piled high. It would be great to have it cleaned up and get some sanitation trucks through.

KAYE: Yes, I'm sure. Such a difficult situation there for so many. Howard Lorsch, thank you so much for sharing your story. We'll continue to check on you.

LORSCH: Thank you very much, Randi.

KAYE: All right.

BLACKWELL: Could President Obama's victory in battleground states like Virginia indicate the end of the Tea Party? A political analyst will join me to explain why he thinks so.


BLACKWELL: Mitt Romney's loss on Tuesday stunned the Republican Party, especially its white, conservative base. In the critical swing states, Ohio, Virginia, possibly Florida, were expected to put Romney over the top. Well, they didn't. My guest this morning calls Romney's defeat the GOP-ocalypse. A word that you created --


BLACKWELL: Professor Jason Johnson teaches political science at Hiram College outside of Cleveland.

Good to have you with us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: You describe Tuesday night's loss as the GOP-ocalypse and you watched this from Doha, Qatar.


BLACKWELL: Tell us, first, how do the Qataris see the election? How do they see our process?

JOHNSON: It was amazing how invested the rest of the world really is in how our election works. First off, everyone was informed. And the best way to describe this. When the final results came through, and I'm standing in a room with Qataris and people from New Zealand and England, it was like -- it was like a slow clap. Like at the end of a teen '80s flick.


JOHNSON: You know, people were just like, thank God. I mean there was a level of relief almost. It wasn't so much enthusiasm about Obama, as much as it was a real concern that America would vote for Mitt Romney. It was amazing.

BLACKWELL: OK. So we know the results now. We're still waiting for Florida. But we know the results.


BLACKWELL: You call this the GOP-ocalypse. A word you created.


BLACKWELL: What -- it seems extreme to say it's the death of the Republican Party, right?

JOHNSON: Uh-huh.

BLACKWELL: But what is dying? What is this catastrophic end that you're talking about?

JOHNSON: Look, the entire strategy of the Republican Party has got to change. This is their worst election in 20 years. And the reason is because they can't build a proper coalition any more. Like, I always put it, like when you have a trainer and your trainer tells you, you can't spot improve. You can't just work on your abs. You've got to work on your whole body.


JOHNSON: Coalitions are the same way. The Republicans can't just say, well, now we need Latinos or now we need this. You need to put together policies that attract different groups of people to win national elections. And if the GOP doesn't do that, they're going to keep losing national elections.

BLACKWELL: Now we saw that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida will be hosting a birthday party for the Iowa governor, Terry Branstad.


BLACKWELL: Is it enough to put an Hispanic face on the policies now? I mean is it -- can you just repackage what they have?

JOHNSON: No. No. Ask Al Sharpton and ask Herman Cain.


JOHNSON: You know, just because you put a minority person up there does not mean you're going to get minority votes. Just because you have a woman running for office doesn't mean you're going to have to have women's votes. And that's the key. You've got to have somebody who's offering policy.

Look, Barack Obama got 73 percent of Latino voters. He's not Latino. He doesn't speak Spanish. But he offered policies that the middle class Latinos, the Mexican-Americans and Guatemalan-Americans really appreciate. And that's what you have to do. It's not about identity politics, it's about policy that people appreciate.

BLACKWELL: But let's look at the Democratic coalition, because you mentioned the 73 percent of Latino voters. Mid '90s, the black voters. And, still, the Democrats didn't get a landslide.


BLACKWELL: So they've got to find a way to introduce younger white voters as well, right? How did they do that and what did that look like?

JOHNSON: Well, one of those things is, Barack Obama spent a lot of time talking about college. And as a college professor, I can tell you, kids are concerned. How do I pay my bills? What's going to happen to me when I come back from serving if I'm a part-time student? That's what the Democratic Party has done.

And I think on the reverse side, what the Republicans have to do is, they have to recognize that you can't just alienate these different kind of groups. Look, Bob Dole got 14 percent of the African-American vote in '96.


JOHNSON: The GOP has never gotten more than 10 percent of the black vote in the last 12 four (ph), you know, different kinds of election cycles. They have to improve that. Then they can win Ohio. Then they can win Virginia.

BLACKWELL: We're going to have the chairman of the Tea Party Express on a little later. What do you see the future of the Tea Party is with the Republican Party as they move forward?

JOHNSON: Yes, they have no future, if they're smart.


JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. Because, look, the Tea Party, you know, they were born on April 15th, on tax day in 2009, and they died this last Tuesday. You cannot allow the sort of harsh rhetoric to continue if you want your party to expand. And, look, you can't hide the fact that the Tea Party is, you know, anti-government in a lot of ways. And many Americans do say, hey, look, I do want deductions, I do want my roads fixed. So the Tea Party really has to realize that they can't be the front people for the Republican Party if the party is to survive.

BLACKWELL: You know, after the 2008 election, there were a lot who said that John McCain was the wrong person to nominate, right?


BLACKWELL: And back then, Mitt Romney was the more conservative alternative.

JOHNSON: Uh-huh.

BLACKWELL: And again in 2008, there were some who were saying that Mitt Romney was too moderate.


BLACKWELL: It seems year after year or cycle after cycle this happens. What will be enough to change it? Because a loss isn't doing it for the Republican Party.

JOHNSON: No. No, they're not going to learn their lesson that quickly.

First off, you have to get somebody that people like. And nobody liked Mitt Romney. I was there in Iowa. I was there in South Carolina. People don't like him. You don't get somebody who says, I don't like 47 percent of the population. What the Republican Party needs is someone who can articulate their values, but in a way that's not offensive.

Look, (INAUDIBLE) Republican candidate and say, hey, look, I'm pro- life, I don't think that people should have the right to have an abortion, but I'm not going to spend my entire, you know, administration working on that. I can say, I'm anti-immigration. I don't want illegals coming into this country, but we're not going to tell people to self-deport. That is a way to express Republican values but not offend 90 percent of the population. And that's what they need to do.

BLACKWELL: All right, Professor Jason Johnson, political science professor at Hiram College in Ohio. Thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Always a pleasure.

BLACKWELL: Take care.

KAYE: When President Obama deals with China in the future, he'll most likely go toe-to toe with this man. We'll tell you who he is.


KAYE: Twenty-two minutes past the hour now.

In Syria, rebel fighters advancing on border towns sent an estimated 1 1,000 people fleeing into Turkey and Jordan. The opposition reports at least 126 people killed across Syria in the past 24 hours. Some 400,000 Syrians now listed or waiting to be listed as refugees.

In a bid to strengthen its claim as Syrians legitimate future government, the leading opposition group, the Syrian National Council, on Friday shuffled its leadership and named a new president.

In the kingdom of Bahrain, clashes broke out when government forces blocked access to a mosque where a prominent cleric was speaking. A teenager was reported hit by a car and killed while fleeing police. Tensions have been high in the country following a series of bombings in the capital.

A new leader of the communist party in China is waiting in the wings. This man, Xi Jinping, is expected to be named secretary-general of the party next week. The leader of the communist party typically becomes the country's leader. The change in party leadership occurs every 10 years.

BLACKWELL: The attack on a teenage girl in Pakistan, who wanted to go to school, has inspired Pakistani leaders. They're now promising to get 5 million more children into classrooms. It's been one month since the Taliban shot Malala Yousufzai in the head and now she's recovering at a British hospital, even smiling. Our senior international correspondent Dan Rivers has more.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is staggering to see Malala Yousufzai out of bed with her father looking through some of the thousands of get-well cards she's received. It's exactly a month since she was shot at point blank range by Taliban gunman for her campaign for girls education in Pakistan. Despite the bullet passing through her head and neck, she is able to talk. Doctors at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Britain are still assessing the extent of the brain damage. Her only visitors so far have been her immediate family.

ZIAUDDIN YOUSUFZAI, MALALA YOUSUFZAI'S FATHER: I'm awfully thankful to all peace-loving well wishes of Malala Yousufzai, who strongly condemn the assassination attempt on Malala, who pray for her health and who support the grand cause of Malala Yousufzai, that is peace, education, freedom of thought and freedom of expression.

RIVERS: The cards have come from all over the world. This one from Myanmar, or Burma. Some are signed by entire households, some by entire offices. Her story has touched people around the world.

And there's now an Internet campaign for Malala to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She's yet to undergo surgery on her skull and jaw in Britain, but judging by these pictures, she is in very good hands, surprising everyone with her determination to recover.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


BLACKWELL: Well, other world leaders have also been inspired by Malala. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Pakistan to talk to leaders and school children. He delivered 1 million signatures on a petition demanding education for all children.


GORDON BROWN, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION: The march of girls' rights and education cannot be stopped. It is, indeed, unstoppable.


BLACKWELL: Brown says now that Pakistan has promised education, they must make it a reality.

KAYE: Tuesday's election is having an immediate effect in some places, like Washington state.

BLACKWELL: They legalized marijuana, but not until next month. We'll tell you how prosecutors are trying to get ahead of the new law.


KAYE: It is 29 minutes past the hour. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for starting your day with us. It is a beautiful warm day here in the studio.

KAYE: It sure is.

BLACKWELL: Randi and I have been -- if you follow us on Twitter, we've been in negotiations over the temperature in the studio.

KAYE: I win.

BLACKWELL: She wins. But it's like Nairobi in here. It's like 106 degrees.

KAYE: I can't help it. I like it like that.

BLACKWELL: I know. I know.

KAYE: I like it balmy.

BLACKWELL: And I'm cloaked in wool.

Here are some of the stories we are watching this morning.

Kicking things off. It's a $7 trillion mix of tax hikes and spending cuts that some fear could tip the U.S. back into recession. I'm talking about the fiscal cliff. And it goes into effect just 52 days from now unless a deal can be reached. Both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner say they are willing to negotiate. But tax hikes are a sticking point. President Obama will meet with congressional leaders on the issue next week.

KAYE: And in Florida, it is all over but the vote count, as the state tries to finalize its tally of the presidential election. Unofficial results are due to the secretary of state by noon today. CNN has yet to project a winner, but President Obama enjoys a 63,000 vote lead over Mitt Romney.

BLACKWELL: And happy birthday to all the men and women serving in the Marines around the world. Today marks the 237th anniversary for the U.S. Marine Corps. They were founded in 1775. Now, to celebrate, some will have birthday cake, some will hold special ceremonies, others will raise money for charity.

KAYE: In Washington state, prosecutors are throwing out 175 marijuana possession cases. That's because on Tuesday, voters there passed a ballot initiative that legalizes pot, so prosecutors in two counties, including Seattle, drop cases that would no longer be punishable under the new law. The law technically doesn't take effect, though, until next month. I'm sure those folks are happy.

A bombshell in the intelligence community. CIA Director David Petraeus stepped down after admitting to having an extramarital affair.

BLACKWELL: The general's affair was actually uncovered during an investigation by the FBI. The tip the FBI was acting on involved a rumored affair with Petraeus' biographer, this woman, Paula Broadwell. CNN has not been able to reach Broadwell for comment, and it's also not clear whether Broadwell is the woman with whom Petraeus has admitted to having an affair with that led to his resignation. Petraeus did not name the woman he was having that affair with.

KAYE: We get more on General Petraeus and his career from CNN Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: David Petraeus sent this letter to the CIA staff on Friday, admitting that he had an affair, and telling the staff that he had gone to the White House on Thursday and asked President Obama to accept his resignation.

On Friday during a phone call, the White House says the president did accept Petraeus' resignation, throwing his national security team into flux just days after the election.

By the time David Petraeus got his first taste of real combat, he was a 50-year-old major general. In 2003, he commanded the 101st Airborne during its march on Baghdad. It was in Iraq that he rhetorically asked a reporter, "tell me how this ends," suggesting trouble the U.S. would have there in later years. There, he gave the nickname King David, used affectionately by his supporters, and derisively by those who labeled him a celebrity general.

In 2007, President Bush appointed Petraeus to lead all the troops in Iraq. Petraeus essentially rewrote the Army field manual, and his ideas on counterinsurgency became known as the Petraeus doctrine. A scandal of a different sort brought Petraeus back to command another war. When President Obama fired General Stanley McChrystal for his unflattering comments to "Rolling Stone," Obama tapped General Petraeus as the man to save the Afghan war effort.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY: It has, again, been the greatest of honors to serve here.

LAWRENCE: But because of his name recognition among the American people, Petraeus was surrounded by speculation that he had political ambitions. Some wondered if he would appear on the Republican presidential ticket, but Petraeus knocked down those rumors.

PETRAEUS: We're not out there running a political campaign. We're running a war.

LAWRENCE: At a Senate confirmation hearing to head the CIA, Petraeus admitted President Obama decided to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan significantly faster than Petraeus wanted.

PETRAEUS: The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended.

LAWRENCE: Petraeus' wife, Holly, sat behind him during that testimony, and Petraeus publicly praised her.

PETRAEUS: She is a symbol of the strength and dedication of families around the globe who wait at home for their loved ones while they're engaged in critical work in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. She has hung tough while I've been deployed for over five and a half years since 9/11.


LAWRENCE: A U.S. official confirms that the FBI had been investigating a tip that Petraeus was having an affair. They were looking into whether there were any potential security risks, and that quote, Petraeus may have put himself in a vulnerable position. The question now is, who knew what when, and why was nothing done until after the election? Randi, Victor.

KAYE: Chris Lawrence, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Well, more than 12 days since Sandy devastated the northeast, more than 300,000 people still do not have power.

KAYE: And people are certainly getting desperate, impatient, and downright furious. Because of flood damage, some people may not see power now for days or even weeks.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't get light on, anything for my kids, I can't get power, heat, garbage pickup, nothing.


BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia is joining us now, and this is not just coming from the people who live there. We're now hearing from the local leaders, from even the governor.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you can hear the tone of frustration in that woman's sound bite leading up to it. People are angry. They're not getting straight answers, and they're upset about it. We're going to into some of these areas 12 days now without power. I spoke to one Long Island resident earlier today, and she said, Nick, everything you have heard about how bad it is here, well, it's true. And people are coming out and they are expressing their fears, they are expressing their concerns. In fact, there was a rally held yesterday, and you could really noticeably hear the frustration in some of these residents' voices.


ANTHONY SANTINO, SR. COUNCILMAN, HEMPSTED: This is a crisis of epic proportions. This is a natural disaster. We are here as one community together to send a message. We've had enough! LIPA is disgusting. The management of LIPA should be fired from top to bottom. And Governor Cuomo, we have a message for Governor Cuomo. Send the National Guard in here today to turn the power back on!


VALENCIA: LIPA, of course, they are talking about the Long Island Power Authority. We put in a call to the Long Island Power Authority today, we did get somebody on the phone. I spoke to somebody, they quickly transferred me to a pager. So we're still waiting on that callback right now from LIPA.

KAYE: Yes, it's tough to get some answers. And it's not, though, just about electricity, right? These people, they are afraid to leave their homes, they are worried about their safety, and even the safety of their home, too.

VALENCIA: Oh, absolutely. Places in Nassau County, Suffolk, the Rockaways. In fact, Deb Feyerick was there in the area yesterday, and she told our CNN's Anderson Cooper that crime and burglary is up 7 percent there. So people are afraid to leave their home, they're afraid they're going to get looted and their valuable possessions, and they'll come back - they won't come back to anything at all. So there is more than just power issues at stake here. There's also safety and security concerns, as well.

KAYE: It's been a long time. I think they are kind of out of excuses at this point.

VALENCIA: That's a good statement there.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia, thank you.

KAYE: The CEO of a southern institution accused of sexual impropriety. We'll tell you about the stunning charges against the head of Waffle House.


BLACKWELL: The CEO of the popular Southern restaurant chain Waffle House has been accused of sexual improprieties by his former assistant. The woman, who is unnamed, is accusing CEO Joseph Rogers Jr. of forcing her to, quote, "perform sexual services," including inappropriate touching, making her buy him pornography, and appearing naked in front of her during the nine years that she worked for him. Rogers has not responded to the claims.

On Wall Street, indices eked out small gains on Friday, but it was not enough to make up for the week's losses. The Dow, the S&P, Nasdaq all closed down more than 2 percent this election week. Investors are concerned about the lack of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

KAYE: Fifty-two days until we cross over that fiscal cliff, if we do. Those $7 trillion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could be triggered in January, if Congress can't reach a deal. President Obama made his first public comments since re-election on Friday, addressing the issue and his commitment to compromise.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time to get back to work, and there is plenty of work to do. I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced.


KAYE: But, Republican House Speaker John Boehner may not make the president's plan so easy.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm not suggesting we compromise on our principles, but I am suggesting that we commit ourselves to creating an atmosphere where we can see common ground, where it exists, and seize it.


KAYE: Joining us to discuss is Stephanie Ruhle, host of Bloomberg TV's "Marketmaker." Stephanie, good morning.


KAYE: Let's stick with politics here for a moment. There are whispers now among some conservatives that Speaker Boehner may call the president's bluff and maybe even should do so, go right to the cliff and see who makes the first move. What would happen in that case, do you think?

RUHLE: He may. Some are saying what if we fall off the cliff? Maybe long term it would be OK for the economy. But, think about it. If you jump off a cliff, maybe you learn you have the ability to fly, or maybe you plunge to your sudden death. And if we do fall off that cliff, what is the fiscal cliff? Ben Bernanke coined the term. It basically means taxes are going to go up, government spending is going to go down, and we could fall into recession.

If you look at the way the market reacted on Wednesday following the election, the Dow dropped 300 points, sort of saying, suddenly the market has to face this fiscal cliff. And if we do, we fall off the cliff, it will be very bad for our economy. Why? Because we cannot grow. And even though we have all this stimulus in the system pumping money, if the economy can't grow, what does it say for our country? We're just going to be in bad shape.

KAYE: So, with the U.S.'s debt situation, though, do you think there is any way to get around these tax increases?

RUHLE: I mean, it's tough to say at this point. But if you look at the market reaction, it's almost shocking. The polls were saying Barack Obama was so likely to win, and then suddenly when the market went up just before the election as the market was banking on Mitt Romney, and when the Dow went down that much, the market is concerned. They only have the ability to focus on one thing at a time, and when they start to feel like GDP is going to go down, people won't have disposable income to spend money, corporations will not be expanding -- it's bad. We need to increase jobs, and if we fall off the cliff, it's unclear how we're going to do that.

Remember, just weeks ago, a group of CEOs reached out to the president, saying, please, address this fiscal cliff issue, and it just hadn't been addressed. Why? Because both sides had to focus on the campaign. They had to stay loyal to the extremes in their parties. And now that the election is over, we could see the president reach across the aisle. We could see Boehner do the same, and that's what the country needs, because for the president, he needs to start focusing on his legacy, not just winning an election.

KAYE: That's what a lot of people are hoping to see, is some type of compromise here.

The CBO, the report showed that there is some upside to letting those cuts expire, actually. Unemployment at 5.5 percent, they say by 2020. So, do you think, is it possibly worth short-term pain for that long- term gain? Even if we do see unemployment at 9.1 percent, which is what the CBO said we'd see initially? But then we'd see it go down to 5.5?

RUHLE: Possibly, but look how the company -- look at how individuals respond. People don't look long term. They want immediate results. They want to be pleased today. They want a job today so they can go to the mall tomorrow and buy a pair of jeans. They elect political officials who will please them today. People want $100 today, they don't want to save it so they can have $1,000 in five years. And even if long term, it could be the right decision, it's just not how we see politics or economics play out right now.

KAYE: And who is going to get hit the hardest if we do go off this cliff?

RUHLE: I mean, unclear. Right now it feels like everyone. If you look at the markets, they're going to say the markets get hit the hardest, corporations get hit the hardest, and if corporations get hit, then individuals do. Because people won't have jobs, they are not going to be out there spending, and if there is massive government spending cuts, that is going to hit individuals, not just defense spending, but education spending. And we need the country growing. We need the country moving. Not just in the U.S., but that's the case in Europe.

So, even if you have central banks intervening, pumping money into the system, this is false stimulus. It's not organic, and we need growth.

KAYE: Stephanie Ruhle, thank you so much for coming on this morning. Appreciate you helping us all make sense of that. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: If you are just waking up and drinking this morning, we're not talking about liquor, anything spicy like that. Coffee, tea, juice, water, you may be starting off the day the right way in more ways than one. Celebrity fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald will tell you why.


KAYE: Well, we have all heard the saying you are what you eat, but the majority of our body is water, so deciding what you drink can actually affect your health.

BLACKWELL: Whether you're drinking refreshing water, which I love, milk for strong bones, as the commercial says, or a little wine to relax. Celebrity fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald knows the benefits. Good to have you back.

MARK MACDONALD, FITNESS AND NUTRITION EXPERT: Thanks, Victor, nice to be here. Thanks, Randi.

BLACKWELL: So the water, which I drink all day. Lemon, lime, people know, but there is also cinnamon, which I'm just finding out today.

MACDONALD: Cinnamon extract is fantastic for water. It spices it up, but it also helps stabilize your blood sugar. It allows your cells to receive insulin better, which is the hormone that lowers your blood sugar, so you burn fat better.

BLACKWELL: And why do people put lemon and lime in water anyway?

MACDONALD: Increase the taste. You know, water is so bland, so lemon or lime kind of gives you that flavor, so you can drink it. Because women and men, you are what you drink. You have to drink water throughout the day. Helps you really burn fat.

KAYE: What about tea? I am a tea drinker. I usually go with the green tea, but is there a certain benefit for green versus black versus white tea?

MACDONALD: Well, green tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea, great for digestion. Black tea is also, so it helps reduce inflammation, and it really helps relax, calm your stomach, so you can move food better. So, it's great from a digestion standpoint.

BLACKWELL: Most people start the day with a cup of coffee. I don't drink it. What am I missing?

MACDONALD: I love coffee, by the way.

BLACKWELL: I don't drink it. I know it's blasphemous to do a morning show and not drink coffee, but I don't drink it, so what am I missing?

MACDONALD: You're not missing anything. If you don't have to drink coffee, that's a good thing, but in moderation, it is fine. It actually is a good stimulant for you. It improves digestion a little bit, but overall, if you don't want to, you don't have to. If you do drink it, do low calorie coffee drinks, and in moderation, it's totally fine.

KAYE: OK, so not the heavy lattes.

MACDONALD: That hurts people a little bit. The biggest thing with coffee is people think they have to give it up. You don't, just all in moderation.

KAYE: What about this stuff right here? I'm just going to take our little prop just because it looks so inviting. Little red wine. Probably don't want to start your day like that.

MACDONALD: That's what a glass looks like. You don't have to start your day like that, but a lot of people -- wine is fine, once again, in moderation. But this is the key with wine. When you drink wine, do some protein before it, or have like salmon and veggies with the wine. It helps slow down the rate of the wine and it helps stabilize your blood sugar better and optimize fat burning. So in moderation, totally fine.

KAYE: So I just need some cheese and I'm fine, then?

MACDONALD: Cheese or yogurt, something like that.

BLACKWELL: We talked about water, we talked about tea, Randi didn't touch them. We get to the wine--

(CROSSTALK) KAYE: Hey, we're here for six hours.

MACDONALD: Just like two to three glasses a week would be fantastic. That's the biggest thing. We always talk about what we eat, it's what we drink is so important. So, you have to enjoy your fluids, make it work into your day, and that's going to optimize your metabolism.

KAYE: One last question, though, about how much fluid do you need? Everybody talks about you need at least eight glasses of water. Is that true? Do you really need it?

MACDONALD: You do. Because your body is 60 to 70 percent water. So if are not -- if you don't get enough water, your body is not working for you. So women about 2 to 3 liters a day, with is eight to 12 cups. Men, about 12 to 16 cups. It is going to optimize your metabolism and digestion.

BLACKWELL: I got it.

KAYE: We like it. All right, thank you, Mark. Appreciate it.

Lessons from the election, we have got a lot of them on Tuesday night.

BLACKWELL: Next hour, we'll go in focus on one of those lessons, and hear what the Tea Party learned about itself.


KAYE: Tuesday night was a historic election. Then again, aren't they all? But what may have been more notable this time is the reactions at the end. From the news sets to celebrity tweets, we heard it all. Our Jeanne Moos has the highlights.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you missed the moment live, let's relive it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama has been re-elected.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a hard-fought battle.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COLBERT REPORT HOST: The Colbert Report is ready to project that CNN has projected that Animal Planet has predicted that the winner of the 2012 presidential election is Barack Obama.

MOOS: Talk about a thoughtful pundit. After painting a bleak picture of President Obama's second term, Fox commentator Dr. Charles Krauthammer joked.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, COLUMNIST: So as a psychiatrist, I will offer to write prescriptions for anybody who needs them right now.

MOOS: But Obama supporters were ecstatic. CNN even cut away to some in Kenya.

Speaking of which -- what would election night be without a Donald Trump angle? After Mitt Romney's loss, Trump tweeted, "This election is a total sham and travesty. We should have a revolution in this country," which prompted NBC's Brian Williams to launch this zinger.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC: Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance.

MOOS: The exit for Mitt Romney was Ohio, but after Fox News called Ohio for Obama, the network's own best-known commentator objected.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: We've got to be careful about calling things.


MOOS: Once Karl Rove questioned the call by Fox's decision desk, Megyn Kelly walked back there.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Whoa, careful.

MOOS: Live camera in tow.

KELLY: Keep coming. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're actually quite comfortable with the call in Ohio.

MOOS: But the anchor who got the most flack was ABC's Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Can we have our music? Because this is another big one here.

MOOS: Viewers thought her delivery was strange. "I'll have what Diane Sawyer is having," tweeted singer Josh Groban.

SAWYER: President Barack Obama has won Minnesota.

MOOS: Someone else tweeted -- "and Diane Sawyer declares tonight's winner is Chardonnay."

Officially ABC wouldn't comment, but staffers suggest Diane was just exhausted from hurricane coverage and debate prep.

And what is an anchor supposed to do when she gets a call of nature while she's in the middle of calling states?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: I came back from the bathroom and said that Colorado was still too close to call. Nobody told me while I was in the bathroom Colorado went for President Obama. Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it.

MOOS: One thing networks don't project are bathroom breaks.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW: Good news for Mitt Romney, he has won tonight, we can announce this right now, most of the Confederacy.

MOOS: New York.


KAYE: Very, very funny. Good memories there.

We appreciate you starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We have got much more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It starts right now.