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Obama, Romney to Do Lunch at White House; Two Powerball Tickets Split $579 Million; Complaints Soar at Toys "R" Us; Forget Steroids: Adderall is the New Cheat

Aired November 29, 2012 - 09:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Carol Costello takes it away. "CNN NEWSROOM" begins now.

Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Brooke. Hi, John.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, President Obama meets up with one-time rival Mitt Romney today for lunch at White House. Could a solution to the fiscal cliff be on the menu? A live report from Washington straight ahead.

Plus this. Stunning video out of Syria. Rebels cheer after a military helicopter is shut down -- or is shot down rather. What does it mean for the United States?

Drones. We know the military uses them. Well, get ready for drones possibly buzzing your house.

And forget steroids. Adderall is the new PED and now four NFL players are suspended.

Coffee snubs welcome. Starbucks introduces the $7 cup of Joe. There's only one question left.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that something you would buy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.



And good morning to you. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

We begin today in Washington where President Obama will play host to Mitt Romney this afternoon in what could be one of the most anticipated meals in the nation's capital since Thanksgiving.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian joins me now. So -- I don't know. I'd love to be a fly on the wall. Wouldn't you?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I know. I know. But you know, no cameras allowed inside for this lunch. This was something that the president said he wanted to do during his victory speech. He said that he wanted to sit down, talk with Governor Romney about moving the country forward.

It's amazing, though, you look back at, you know, just a few weeks ago when both of these candidates were going at each other, the president criticizing Mitt Romney on the 47 percent, for his connection to Bain Capital, for moving jobs overseas. Mitt Romney hitting the president for his handling of the economy, saying, in essence, that the president had set the economy on a reverse course, put it in reverse.

And now they're sitting down. Most likely it will be a much different tone this time around. The president has said that there are things that he'd like to talk to Mitt Romney about, ideas such as job creation for middle class Americans. He also has pointed out that Mitt Romney did a good job in turning the Olympics around. These are things that perhaps could work in the federal government streamlining federal agencies.

So a different tone as both men sit down but we will have no cameras there so we won't be able to witness it.

COSTELLO: It's such a disappointment. And you mentioned this, Dan. And there have been jokes about a potential Cabinet position for Romney.


Here's how White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to that one.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is Governor Romney here tomorrow in some kind of Cabinet-level position?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some kind of audition for that position?

CARNEY: No, no, no.


COSTELLO: OK. So I know it sounds ridiculous. But wouldn't it be nice if, like you said, President Obama would find some role for Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney would actually agree to do it?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, a lot of Mitt Romney supporters out there probably would think that that might be a good idea. Because that would give him a chance to influence this administration. But there's no indication at all that the president plans to offer him a job. The president, when he was asked about what kind of role that Mitt Romney perhaps could play said that -- he would -- said that this is no suggestion here that he has a special assignment for Mitt Romney. It's just a chance for them to sit down and talk about some ideas that the president pointed out, Mitt Romney had some ideas that were not necessarily partisan idea -- ideas rather, but good ideas.

COSTELLO: Dan Lothian, reporting live from the White House.

Today rebels in Syria are celebrating a milestone victory in their civil war.

This video posted on YouTube shows civilians celebrating after a military helicopter is apparently struck by a missile. Witnesses say rebel fighters shot it down. A different video also posted online shows wreckage of a military jet. Rebels also claim to have shot down that aircraft.

Also this morning new clashes in Egypt between police and protesters outraged by the president's recent power grab. The scuffle involving hundreds of people had blocked the U.S. embassy, preventing people from coming and going. But U.S. officials say the embassy is not threatened. They say diplomatic business will return to normal once the crowds thin.

The officer overseeing at a military security base where Army Private Bradley Manning was once held says he was not pressured to keep Manning under a high-level lockup and constant watch.

Manning, who's accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, says he was mistreated while behind bars. He was tortured. Manning could take the stand in his own defense later this week.

For some lucky lottery players today is the first day of a whole new life. That's because they have this winning combination of numbers. The two winning tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri will split the jaw-dropping jackpot. Nearly $580 million. More than half a billion bucks.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is in Mapleton, Georgia. Just outside of Atlanta. And no big celebrations there, right?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No big celebrations here. Not for me. Not for you. Because I know you're there and had you won, you probably wouldn't be in today. We know that the reason we're here in Mapleton is because this is a gas station that actually sold a $116 million Powerball ticket. But this jackpot far exceeds that at $588 million.

The reason that it got so high is that it rolled over 16 times over the last two months without a winner. And Powerball actually has changed its strategy to get more of these big jackpots. They doubled the cost of a ticket from $1 to $2, which actually starts the jackpot instead of $20 million at $40 million. Now who won? We don't know yet. We will find that out, of course, at some time. But the peak of ticket sales, 130,000 tickets per minute were being purchased, everybody trying to beat those 1 in 175 million odds to win the big jackpot -- Carol.

COSTELLO: My team, we bought over, what, 200 tickets and we matched two numbers total on one ticket. It was depressing.

Victor Blackwell, thanks so much.


COSTELLO: Toys "R" Us learning the hard way that you don't mess with parents on a Black Friday sale. Angry customers are saying that Toys "R" Us -- they canceled their orders because it ran out of stock.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with more.

So what went wrong?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It seems like a lot of things went wrong here, Carol, especially if you look at Toys "R" Us' Facebook page. You look at it, you see complaint after complaint about orders being canceled, merchandise out of stock, people waiting for hours on the phone and just bad customer service.

And you look closer at some of this. Some pretty scathing comments. People are saying they'll never shop there again. Others saying the page needs to add an unlike button. Just to give you an example of one of the things that's happened is one shopper placed her Black Friday order online, the item was in stock. But several days later Toys "R" Us canceled the order because it was out of stock, so guess what, she missed out on the sale price.

Look, the core problem here seems to be that the retailer wasn't able to keep up with demand. Now Toys R Us is saying that this is the busiest time of the year for the industry in general and from time to time stores on the Web site will be sold out of stock which isn't uncommon for any retailer.

Seems like a pretty reasonable response but certainly not making those people who missed out on those deep discounts feel any better.

COSTELLO: No. It's like bait and switch. So let's say your order got canceled, what can you do besides sending a nasty e-mail?

KOSIK: It does feel that way, doesn't it? I mean, it's like, wait a minute. You said I can get that sale price and then I don't get it. So what Toys "R" Us is saying is that it's working to accommodate each individual customer that problems are handled on a case by case basis. Now even though there are complaints about long phone waits, waiting, you know, for someone to pick up the phone, your best option, says Toys "R" Us, is simply to call. Customer service reps are also available 24/7. So you may want to try calling at an off-time.

Now the company have also been pretty responsive via Facebook so you may want to try that route. Lots of people obviously unhappy. Putting that on Facebook. But just throwing Toys "R" Us a bone, there were some people who said that they were happy with their experience. But of course, the people unhappy are outweighing the people who are happy -- Carol.


COSTELLO: I would imagine.

KOSIK: Which makes it entertaining reading.


Alison Kosik, thanks.

In sports, the Boston Celtics-Brooklyn Nets game went from chippy to nasty. The Nets' Kris Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett hard and Garnett's team mate Rajon Rondo took exception. Rondo went after Humphries. Other players got involved. Rondo and Humphries were ejected and Rondo's 37-game streak of at least 10 assists was broken. The Celtics point guard, he could face a suspension.

Busted for Adderall. Several NFL players taking a drug that's often given to kids with ADHD. We're going to talk about that.


COSTELLO: Twelve minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

Incredible images of a massive fire at a Kansas power plant. The fire started when a transformer failed, igniting the mineral oil used to cool it down. Power company says no customers lost power and the fire is now out. Wow.

In Texas, the attorney general's office is now trying to seize a 1600 acre ranch where prosecutors say Warren Jeffs and others sexually abused children. The polygamist sex leader was convicted of child sexual assault last year. Sect members have denied any sexual abuse took place.

In money news, "Consumer Report" says if you want the best 4G network dial up AT&T. In an annual survey of top cell phone providers, Verizon had the biggest network while AT&T had the fewest 4G problems. But for the third years AT&T ranked dead last in customer satisfaction.

A one-two punch for the West Coast as California gets hit with a series of storms. The first hit on Wednesday bringing heavy rains and high winds to the San Francisco area. Meteorologist Rob Marciano joins us now with, I guess, round two.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, it's more than just a one-two, it's a three-four, maybe even five punches from this thing, Carol. We've got several days left before it's all done. Here's some of the numbers as far as what they saw for -- not just the rain but the wind a big issue. And some trees and power lines down because of this.

Redding 75 -- 71-mile-an-hour winds and you go up in the high elevations a little bit in the way of 50 and 60-mile-an-hour winds but that may very well increase as we go through time.

Storm warning, gale warnings and high wind warnings up for the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevadas and the cascades. You could see winds that will cause some damage there. So the winds and also of course the rainfall. Water vapor imagery showing you here's a second surge of moisture that's coming in now. It'll start up in Seattle, we're seeing that and then we'll slide down to San Francisco.

But the main mother of all these storms is sitting just off shore, and its not moving all that much. So that's why we'll continue to see these pulses spiral in from time to time.

Along the I-5 corridor, heavy rain now about to move into the shoreline. Of course turning the snow at the higher elevations. But this is a pretty warm sector storm. So snow levels will be fairly high and temperatures out ahead of this system will be pretty warm, especially across the four corners and the inner mountain west.

Eight to 10 inches of mostly rain. So flooding, yes. But also the possible -- possibility of seeing some debris flows and some mudslides all the way down south of San Francisco. You have to go up to really 7,000, 8,000, 9,000 feet to get into the snow zone. And at that point it will be 10 to 20 inches below. It will be a four, five, maybe even six-day event, Carol. And with these lines packed closer together, that means wind as well. So there's your one-two punch, and we've got several punches to go before it's all done beginning next week.

COSTELLO: All right. Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: You got it.

COSTELLO: A month ago, this meeting seemed inconceivable. What could come of the Obama/Romney luncheon? It's our talk back question today.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: what should come of the Obama/Romney luncheon? Awkward.

President Obama, Mitt Romney, a luncheon of rivals? Who can forget the two on the debate stage, prowling, pointing, the bitter rivalry spawning catch phrases?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got -- we've got to name this condition that he's going through. I think -- I think it's called Romneysia. It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romneyhood.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've been watching the president say a lot of things about me and my policies and they're just not right. If I were to coin a term, it would be Obamaloney.


COSTELLO: Obamaloney.

Now, the man who accused the other man of giving away free stuff may just dine on Obamaloney.


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Here is what I don't get. For the last eight months, Mitt Romney has been saying nobody should get a free lunch. Now, he's going to the White House to have a free lunch.



COSTELLO: Hey, we laugh, but what if -- what if Mr. Obama asks Mr. Romney to play an important role going forward? Even the president has to acknowledge that Mitt Romney's skill in making thing, like the Olympics run better.

But the track record for post election powwows is not good. After the 2008 election, McCain and Obama met and vowed to work together on economic issues, and look at them now? Not exactly best buds. Just say the word Benghazi and, ouch.

Still, it could be a win/win for both men, for Obama, a chance to show a bipartisan spirit. For Romney, a chance to rehabilitate his image after being excoriated by both Democrats and Republicans for saying Americans who voted Obama wanted free stuff.

So, the talk back question for you today: what should come of the Obama/Romney luncheon?, -- your responses later this hour.


COSTELLO: Big off-field news in the NFL this week, with something the league is certainly not promoting. Four players have been suspended for performance enhancing drugs, Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are appealing their suspension so they can play against Chicago on Sunday. New England defensive man Jermaine Cunningham and Tampa Bay quarterback Eric Wright are serving four-game suspension.

So, what was the drug of choice? Not steroids but Adderall. That's right, the drug prescribed to children who have ADHD. The drugs help kids focus. Adderall is also given to treat narcolepsy. It's an amphetamine, and apparently gaining popularity among some pro athletes.

Eric Vincent is a Detroit Lion's featured columnist for

Welcome, Eric.

ERIC VINCENT, BLEACHERREPORT.COM: Good to be back. Nice to see you, guys.

COSTELLO: Nice to see you, too.

So, why the sudden rash of Adderall-linked suspensions?

VINCENT: Well, Adderall seems to be the new drug of choice in the NFL nowadays. Amphetamine used to be the popular choice. It just seems to be catching on now to keep players focused on the field. Realistically, you know, they have about 100 plays to focus on, along with a 3 1/2 hour game to focus on.

So, you know, as an NFL player, you're supposed to be locked in. But, some realistically, it's still three, 3 1/2 hours. So, just to keep them a little more focused, you know, they're reaching for Adderall, the drug now, which is very dangerous with their careers and their lives as well.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, the league can't say what specific drug a player is suspended for. So I'm just wondering, do players come out and say they took Adderall, even if they didn't, to keep the stain of steroids away? I mean, are we sure that these players actually took Adderall?

VINCENT: It shows up in their system. I'm pretty sure Browner and Sherman, the two Seattle Seahawks quarterback, it showed up in their system I'm assuming from urine test or any other kind of physical test I'm sure they took with their doctors. But it showed up in their system, resulting in the four-game suspensions that they're currently appealing.

But it doesn't look too likely that they will be passive -- or pass their appeals because now -- (INAUDIBLE) so we'll see how it goes. But it shows up in their system whenever they take --

COSTELLO: OK. Well, get this -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was asked about, you know, these players taking Adderall. Listen to what he said.


BRANDON MARSHALL, CHICAGO BEARS: Some guys, you know, they'll do whatever they can, you know, to get an edge. I've heard of some crazy -- I heard crazy stories. I heard guys using like Viagra seriously because the blood is supposed to -- I don't know. Some crazy stuff. So, you know, it's kind of scary.


COSTELLO: That is kind of scary. I mean, Viagra, really? Is drug use -- illegal drug use in the NFL as bad as baseball?

VINCENT: It certainly seems that way. It's not as publicized as steroid is. But drug use in the NFL is a very common activity. It's happened for a while. This isn't anything new.

Now, it's just there are a lot more options than just steroids. As you see Adderall and I guess, Viagra, I don't know if Brandon Marshall is letting us know what he does, but, you know, that's a dangerous game to be playing but --

COSTELLO: Well, I'm just trying to figure out how Viagra could help you play better football. I mean --

VINCENT: Personally I couldn't tell you. As he said, it keeps the blood flowing, keeps them focused and energetic. It keeps their body focused for the game for three and 3 1/2 hours. It could be a bit tough to, you know, stay focused and stay intact for the entire duration of the game.

So, I guess, players try to find any way -- athletes in general try to find any way to get any kind of edge over their opponents in any way they can. And now, Adderall or any other drug seems to be the choice.

COSTELLO: Eric Vincent from "Bleacher Report" -- thanks so much for being with us this morning.

And you can read Eric's stories on the Lions and get all the latest NFL news at

It is 27 minutes past the hour. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us. Time to take a look at our top stories.

Protesters upset with a power grab by Egypt's president are making it tough to get into the American embassy in Cairo. The entrance is blocked, preventing people from getting in and out. But U.S. officials say the embassy is not threatened and diplomatic business will return to normal once the crowds thin.

The first lawsuit has been filed against two companies in that parade float accident in Texas two weeks ago. Four veterans were killed when the float was hit by a train. The suit was filed by two veterans and their wives. The crash is still under investigation.

A rare moment in New York City. Police say there were no reported slayings, stabbings, shootings or knifings during a 36-hour period from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. The city is on its way to having the lowest homicide rate since 1960.

And for the first time since the election, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will meet face to face. The two candidates will have lunch at the White House in just a few hours. Before lunch, Romney will meet with his former running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan.

And if you're wondering what's on that lunch menu, maybe (INAUDIBLE) with Welsh cakes or turkey tacos, black bean salad and a fruit cup? Michelle Obama would like that one. How about a healthy dose of humble pie for two politicians who dished out and received some pretty good beat-downs over the last several months?

Joining me now to talk about all of this, CNN political analyst, Roland Martin, who leans left.

Go ahead, lean left.

And CNN contributor Will Cain.


COSTELLO: You kill me.

OK. So, everyone knows this luncheon is political theater. I mean, Americans aren't stupid. Why put us through this, Will?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's symbolically healthy. First of all, President Obama said he wanted to do it. So, fulfilling that promise has value.

I think to show the American people that politics is politics and people are people and there are things we can come together over, like food. Hey, by the way, Roland Martin and I, who agree on very little -- and I don't even really like the guy -- had breakfast yesterday together.

COSTELLO: Really? Oh, that's good to hear.

CAIN: That's the whole point. That's the whole point. We can disagree.

MARTIN: I tolerate Will.

COSTELLO: Let me take you both back.