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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Black Friday Online Sales; Cyber Monday Today; 35 Days Until Fiscal Cliff

Aired November 26, 2012 - 05:30   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Great to have you back from vacation.

SAMBOLIN: I am very happy to be here.

BERMAN: It is -- it's 30 minutes after the hour.

We're going to start with crunch time at the Capitol just 35 days until we hit the fiscal cliff, maybe go off that cliff. The lame duck Congress starts heading back to Capitol Hill today, and we're starting to see some hints of compromise in the air. Several Republican senators are suggesting they're at least willing to consider breaking their no tax pledge.

And according to a new CNN/ORC poll, that's what the American people want. Sixty-seven percent say a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts is the best way to avoid the fiscal cliff, which would automatically trigger massive hikes in taxes and also spending cuts.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joins us live from Washington this morning. Paul, what do Americans think about their own finances when it comes to fiscal cliff?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: They're worried about it, John. And take a look at this from our same CNN/ORC poll, brand new, just out half and hour ago, almost four in 10 think that if we go off the fiscal cliff, it's going to affect them a great deal. Another four in 10 say, you know what, it's going to affect me somewhat.

Look at that at the bottom, only about one in five say, no, not much at all. That's why Americans are so clued in to this, because they realize they may be affected in a great way. What about the negotiations? Well, this is a little disappointing. Americans don't think much of, I guess, lawmakers down here in Washington.

Look at this, almost two thirds, or actually, two-thirds say yes, they're going to be behaving like spoiled children when it comes to these negotiations. Only about three in ten say the lawmakers and the White House will act like responsible adults. And finally, the blame game, if it doesn't work, if there's no deal, who gets the blame? Well, it seems Republicans a little more. Here's why, 45 percent say President Obama is doing enough to cooperate with the other side. Only about one in four feel the same way about Republicans in Congress -- John.

BERMAN: We saw, Paul, this weekend a small parade, not a giant parade, but a small parade, light parade of Republicans now saying that they may be willing to violate that famous no-tax pledge that Grover Norquist has asked them to sign over the years.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. And that pledge goes back to 1986 and it tells people or signees say that they won't raise taxes. They also pledge to avoid reducing deductions or tax credits if they're not offset. You mention, yes, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and also Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina both kind of saying maybe we'll break that pledge. Take a listen to Peter King, congressman from New York, a Republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss. A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that Congress. For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a support of declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: King says that he's personally against raising taxes, but he said, you know, when it comes to these negotiations, everything needs to be on the table -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Paul Steinhauser down in Washington this morning. Great to see you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour. No bah, humbug, just lots of buying over the weekend. A record $247 million shoppers hit the stores and the websites right after Thanksgiving. The National Retail Federation saying they also spent more money, this is compared to last year. But will shoppers still be in a spending mood today? Because you know today is Cyber Monday.

BERMAN: Huh.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That's why I got out of bed.

SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans is here --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I can't go on without buying something else. Look, the Cyber Monday sort of that made-up holiday to make sure you could spend more money if you didn't spend enough on the holiday weekend. How did the holiday weekend look? Well, we know that Friday, you know, Friday had traffic up according to shopper track, but you had spending down on Friday.

And it might be a sign that this push into Thursday, and this push towards Cyber Monday is actually stretching out the buying a little bit. You're seeing pictures of what it looked like for people who went to physical stores. But you had a record number of people shopping online as well. So, what does the spending Thursday to Sunday about 59.1 billion, up 13 percent from last year?

Not as strong of growth as the prior year when you saw sales up about 16 percent. $423 on average is what the shoppers spent, compared with $398. What did they spend it on? Clothes and accessories, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, video games.

When you move over here to the electronics category, 37.7 percent spending on electronics, 15 percent on jewelry, which of course, I like to remind you that according to deal news, this and Valentine's Day is the worst time of year to buy jewelry. But I guess if you get engaged, you got to do it. A gift card of 32.6 percent --

BERMAN: Such a romantic.

ROMANS: I know. Well, you know, look for the bargain if you can.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Prices are still pretty high. So, look where people are spending for Cyber Monday, where they spent online because for the first time ever, you saw a billion dollars in sales Friday, 26 percent online. It's the first time they topped a billion. And Thursday was 633 million. So, on Thanksgiving, apparently, you were sick and tired of your aunt and grandma and uncle arguing over how dry the stuffing was and you went and try to buy something online.

(LAUGHTER)

Amazon was a top destination. The biggest year over year growth was Amazon. But take a look at some of these other places. Wal-Mart, again, big year over year growth. Online shopping, Best buy, target also on this list. They've done -- and Apple which, of course, doesn't do big discounting, but this might be because of the holiday, you know, that you're starting to get in the mood for maybe buying that iPad maybe or whatever into you're going out and you're doing it.

Now, Cyber Monday, you're going to be bombarded today. Any kind of website you ever shopped on is going to be trying to lure you into paying more today and buying more stuff. Yes, you can be smart about it. If you need it, if you're going to get a good discount for it, do it. But they don't do it out of the kinds of their heart.

It's called Black Friday, because that's when the retailers make money. It shows how well they do on that weekend is how much profit they're going to have for the year. It's not about your profit. It's about their profit, so always remember that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Good advice. Thank you.

ROMANS: There you go.

BERMAN: All right. Big news out of the Middle East. Egypt's president is attempting to calm the anger about what his critics call an undemocratic power grab. Thousands have protested since Thursday when Mohamed Morsi granted himself extraordinary powers. It includes telling judges they cannot overturn any decision he makes or law he imposes.

Today, Morsi meets with Egypt's highest judicial body, which is called his move unprecedented and called it an attack on judicial authority.

SAMBOLIN: John McCain seems to be softening his stance on Susan Rice. Last week, the Arizona senator vowed to do everything in his power to block Rice's potential nomination to be Secretary of State, blasting her for telling Americans the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was spontaneous and triggered by an anti-Islam video. But now, McCain is dialing it back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. I'll be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Rice claims everything she said in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack was based on information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies.

BERMAN: Noted civil rights activist, Warren Guyot has died. Guyot served -- survived dreads (ph), severe beatings and jailtime to lead black voter registration drive during Mississippi's freedom summer of 1964. Guyot had a history of heart problems. He was 73.

SAMBOLIN: And check out this truck, barely hanging on to an overpass.

BERMAN: Wow!

SAMBOLIN: Look at that by its two back tires. Here's the story. Police in Beaverton, Oregon say the driver, 38-year-old Matthew Hamilton, had a blood alcohol level of 0.5.

BERMAN: What?

SAMBOLIN: That is more than six times the legal limit. Hamilton spent an hour dangling upside down in his truck before firefighters could actually get him out of that situation. He is now in jail.

BERMAN: That is one lucky --

SAMBOLIN: Sobering up.

BERMAN: Yes. One lucky allegedly very drunk guy. SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness! Look at that. By the tires.

BERMAN: All right. Another crazy story here. Some people turned out to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City last Thursday found the confetti raining down on them contained sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers. It turns out, confetti was made up of shredded documents from the Nassau County, New York Police Department.

An investigation is under way to determine how those documents ended up as confetti. That just seems like a bad idea.

SAMBOLIN: Recycling going really, really bad, right? Oh, my goodness! All right. A woman from St. Petersburg, Florida, is in trouble this morning after this. She was photographed two months ago riding a manatee. Fifty-three-year-old Anna Gloria Garcia Gutierrez (ph) was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant Saturday.

Florida's Manatee Sanctuary Act protects these endangered sea mammals. People are not allowed to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb them. Gutierrez faces a $500 fine and up to six months in jail if she is convicted.

BERMAN: As soon as you saw this picture, you knew it was going to be a problem. Crystal clear.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Don't ride the manatees.

SAMBOLIN: Six months in jail, too. That will teach folks a lesson.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes after the hour here, and $1 billion. That's how much was spent by consumers on Black Friday alone. And with Cyber Monday here, thank goodness, just how good are those deals online? We are digging in to the numbers for you this morning. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning, New York City. How are you on this fine morning? It is 35 degrees right now. A little later, 48 degrees. You know, I was asking if it was going to be a nice, warm, and sunny day, and apparently not. So, it's a good day to stay indoors and do your holiday shopping. It is off to a record start.

247 million shoppers visited stores and websites. This was over the holiday weekend. That's according to the National Retail Federation. That is up 9.2 percent from a year ago. Total spending apparently was up, as well. 59.1 billion, up nearly 13 percent to 52.4 billion from last year.

And while today is Cyber Monday, the day online retailers typically offer deals after the four-day weekend, online deals started almost a week earlier, Black Friday retail sales online topped $1 billion for the first time ever. I'm being told maybe $1.5 billion. That's up 26 percent from sales of 815 million last year. That is according to comscore.com. Those are a lot of numbers.

Cyber Monday deals are no longer just for Monday. So, joining us now is Peter Shankman, branding strategist and author, "Can We Do That?," to tell us if this means the end of Cyber Monday. So, I'm going to start with that. Is it the end of Cyber Monday?

PETER SHANKMAN, BRANDING STRATEGIST: Well, Cyber Monday really came about back in 2002-2003 when online shopping was really starting to get big. And, people didn't have the options to take their Smartphone out and go to the store and check the price there versus online. You know, so it really was this sort of come to work, don't work all day on Monday, instead just do all your shopping if you don't want to go to the malls.

Now, you have the opportunity to do that, Thursday, Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And the deals -- there will be deals today. There's no question about it. There will be deals, but, you know, they were still available Thursday as well.

SAMBOLIN: So, you think this is the last year that we'll be talking about Cyber Monday?

SHANKMAN: No, we'll figure out a way to bring it back because there's also small business Saturday and there's donation Tuesday. So, I mean, every day has a deal, but it's definitely more -- if you want to shop online, the deals are there as early as a week before Thanksgiving.

SAMBOLIN: OK. So, let's focus on Cyber Monday. What are the deals that we're going to find out there?

SHANKMAN: We're definitely going to see stuff from electronics. Apple is not really known for making deals. So, if you're looking for that new iPad, a discount, you're out of luck.

SAMBOLIN: It's not going to happen.

SHANKMAN: That will never happen. But, Amazon is going to have deals on all of their stuff, (INAUDIBLE) things like that. You can look for mostly electronics. A lot of the big box stores, Macy's Wal-Mart, all that, will have some deals online. You can take an extra percent off. There's a couple websites you can go to, as well, that will give you some extra couponing.

So, make sure you do that. You can always either Google for coupons. Just type in coupon, name of store that you're looking for, and sometimes, something will come up right there that you enter in a code.

SAMBOLIN: Do you have any specific sites that you --

SHANKMAN: Yes. There's a great site called dealtaker.com. (INAUDIBLE) versus coupons. So, they'll tell you what customers are finding and they'll put those coupons online that you can use. They have their own Cyber Monday deals, as well, that you can find. That's a really good -- I use that all the time. SAMBOLIN: OK. And and what's the fastest growing retail category online?

SHANKMAN: Online, I'd have to say, somewhere between this. Most likely electronics. You know, Eveerything changes two days from now where you're going to hear real numbers and everything will change. What we're seeing electronics are huge. Amazon, of course, has a huge impact on that. You know, Thursday night, as soon as Thanksgiving, the turkey wasn't event digested yet, and I was online buying a brand- new TV from Amazon.

SAMBOLIN: Seriously?

SHANKMAN: Because it was there.

SAMBOLIN: Did you do some comparison shopping?

SHANKMAN: I did. I did. And the price was the same, had I driven to Costco in Queens or had jsut gone on my computer at my dad's place, and got it. And now, my wife knows that we have a brand-new --

(LAUGHTER)

SHANKMAN: -- that happy about. But you know, it really is the deals are there, you just have to look for them. And they'll always be -- you can't really include shipping because even with shipping, you know, free super saver shipping from Amazon is free. And so, a lot of people say oh, you have to add shipping.

You're going to pay that anyway whether it's gas or tolls or whatever. So, that usually winds up working itself out.

SAMBOLIN: And oftentimes, too, on a day like today, you do have free shipping across the board.

(CROSSTALK)

SHANKMAN: And also, you know, do you really want to go and drive yourself crazy -- we're always watching these videos of the fights at Wal-Mart and all that -- haven't heard of the Internet?

SAMBOLIN: I'm with you. I'm with you.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Stay home folks and enjoy the shopping online. Peter Shankman, thank you so much. I really appreciate all your advice. John, back to you.

BERMAN: Do not leave your home.

SAMBOLIN: That's right.

BERMAN: So, the northeast, the northeast is about to get a major smackdown, a smackdown in the form of snow. Really. Meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, is standing by live with the details. And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty minutes past the hour. We're talking about 529 plans.

BERMAN: We're doing college savings here. Sorry.

SAMBOLIN: Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories as well. I know, we're focusing on college savings. How to spend their money during Christmas time?

ROMANS: And I'm going to tell you how to spend your money from Capitol Hill, because the lame duck Congress is heading back to Capitol Hill beginning this afternoon, and they have to figure out how to spend our money, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): They've got 35 days to figure out a way to avoid the fiscal cliff. Otherwise, your taxes will go up and major spending cuts will be triggered. Several key Republicans, including Senators Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss, they're suggesting they would be willing to break their no tax pledge to get a budget deal done.

Today is day six of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and delegations from both sides are in Cairo to meet separately with representatives from Egypt which helped broker the ceasefire along with the United States. Hamas says the latest round of talks will focus on opening border crossings and easing Israel's economic blockade of Gaza.

The bodies of a Northern California couple have been recovered after they were swept out to sea while trying to save their dog. Authorities are still searching for their 16-year-old son. The family was playing fetch with their dog (inaudible) north of Eureka on Saturday. The dog chased after a stick and got pulled into the ocean by eight to ten foot waves. The boy and his parents followed the dog into the water.

BERMAN: Horrible story.

ROMANS: Feeling lucky? No grand prize winner Saturday night. The jackpot for Wednesday's Powerball drawing is now up to record $425 million. That number could go even higher depending on ticket sales on the next few days. Previous high for Powerball was $365 million. (INAUDIBLE) about 2,000.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: OK financial whiz. Get lottery tickets a good way to make money?

ROMANS (on-camera): Well, you have a better chance of finding a winning lottery ticket on the ground. Almost the same probability as actually buying one. Just saying.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Freezing temperatures, even snow in the forecast. Let' get straight to Karen Maginnis for the details with this. Snow, really?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A little bit of snowfall. This doesn't look like it's going to be a major nor'easter, but we are looking at snow for places that are still recovering from superstorm Sandy. We've got a little bit of snow, lake-effect snow into the eastern great lakes. Some of the snowfall totals could be six to 12 inches.

But essentially north of interstate 90 line from Watertown to Syracuse, sending back over a little bit further towards the east. However, for New York City, Staten Island, and for Atlantic City, places like Boston. Generally speaking, we're starting out as rain and maybe a rain/snow mix. And then, we're looking at it changing over to all rain.

Well, the frontal system is making its way towards the eastern seaboard. The computer models probably overdoing the snowfall just a little bit, I think if anything, a half inch or an inch. But we're not looking at those big, significant amounts. However, quite a different story back across Texas into Louisiana and Arkansas with a chance for some hail, strong winds, and possibility of some tornadoes going into the afternoon.

This is going to be an afternoon event, and the rest is just slight across this region. I want to show you these temperatures fairly quickly. In New York, those readings will be in the 40s today. But for New York City on Tuesday, only into the 30s, and then, we see this slow upward tick as far as those temperatures are concerned.

So, John, it looks like it's going to be fairly messy for people who are going to try to still be recovering from superstorm Sandy.

BERMAN: Starting when, Karen, was that?

MAGINNIS: This will be on Tuesday. It'll start tonight and then going into Tuesday, and then, we start to move out very quickly by Wednesday, temperatures going back up a bit.

BERMAN: Zoraida is laughing at me. I need to known when the storm is going to start, because you know, we need to get to work and everything. Karen Maginnis, thanks a lot.

SAMBOLIN: I'll come help you.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: All right. Acclaimed actor, Morgan Freeman, lends his voice to the fight for same-sex marriage in this country. We're going to hear from him right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right. Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour. John Berman here along with Zoraida Sambolin. We are taking a look at the top CNN trend on the internet this morning.

And actor, Morgan Freeman, he's known for his distinctive voice, "Shawshank Redemption". Now, he's lending that voice to fight -- to the fight to legalize same-sex marriage across the U.S. Freeman narrates a new 30-second ad produced by the human rights campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Freedom, justice and human dignity have always guided our journey toward a more perfect union. Now, across our country, we are standing together for the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry the person they love. And --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That voice.

SAMBOLIN: I could just listen. Just play it. All right.

Fifty-eight minutes past the hour. The Rolling Stones are back in business. The world's greatest rock 'n' roll band took the stage Sunday at London's O2 Arena to mark their 50th anniversary.

BERMAN: They played more than two hours, proving they can still give an audience plenty of, yes, satisfaction. It was also a reunion of sorts, founding bassist, Bill Wyman, and former guitarist, Mick Taylor joined the band onstage and help give Stones fans a very special anniversary present.

In not so legendary news, Lindsay Lohan making her acting comeback as the late, great, Elizabeth Taylor in "Liz and Dick." And as expected, the film was full of melodrama like this clip when the lifetime version of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton meet on the set of "Cleopatra."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. In case you haven't guessed I'm --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard Burton? Oh, I'd shake your hand, but my nails --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, likewise. Has anyone ever told you you're a very pretty girl?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I think that gives you some good flavor of what the reviews might be. These reviews are epically unkind. I mean, like epically bad. The "New Jersey Star Ledger" and "San Francisco Chronicle" say that they were hoping for so bad it's good, but both said "Liz and Dick" was just bad-bad.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. It was pretty bad.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Well, congratulations on achieving that.

SAMBOLIN: I know. Isn't that terrible? So, EARLY START continues right now.