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Senate Kills U.N. Treaty on Disabilities; One in Three Would Get Wal-Mart Mortgage; RG3: The Man to Unify Washington; Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs

Aired December 5, 2012 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM at 31 minutes past the hour:

The fight over the fiscal cliff shows no signs of easing. House Speaker John Boehner is meeting with House Republicans this morning. And a news conference is set to take place in just about 30 minutes.

Many Republicans are not happy with Boehner's proposal. That included $800 billion in tax hikes.

President Obama says no deal will be reached without higher taxes on the wealthy.

You may not know his name. You've certainly seen his face, Jack Brooks, a former congressman from Texas, he died last night. That's him in the background when Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office following President Kennedy's assassination. Brooks was in the motorcade when Kennedy was shot in 1963.

Paul Ryan coming out of the shadows, following his failed run for vice president. The Wisconsin Republican with Florida Senator Marco Rubio urged the GOP to unite voters, not divide them.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Both parties tend to divide Americans into our voters and their voters. Let's be really clear: Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R). FLORIDA: I've heard it suggested that the problem is that the American people have changed. That too many people want things from government. But I'm still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people, they just want what my parents had -- a chance.

(END VIDEO CLIPS) COSTELLO: Ryan pointed out that he and Rubio are seen as presidential contenders in 2016 and asked if anyone knew any good diners in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The United States taking a stand against people with disabilities?

Former Senator Bob Dole took to the Senate floor in his wheelchair to push for support of the United Nations treaty that helps disabled people around the world. Despite that, senators voted against the treaty, something that would presumably have had a wide margin of support.


SEN. MICHAEL LEE (R), UTAH: I've heard from advocacy groups consisting of people who hope that this treaty will protect disabled Americans they travel abroad and as they go about their lives. But I've also heard from parents of disabled children who were concerned that this treaty in adherence to the best interest of the child standard in Article VII will threaten their rights as parents.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: I sympathize with John Boehner. The Tea Party has a firm grip on the Republican Party and that's obvious, what's happened this morning here in Washington.


COSTELLO: In rejecting this treaty, the United States broke from 125 countries that have ratified the treaty, including Syria and Saudi Arabia. Some Senate Republicans actually voted to approve the measure, like Senator John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, to name a few. But members of the Tea Party banded together to also block the measure -- because they say, if the measure passed, the United Nations would impose its will on disabled people and their families in the United States.

Joining me now, Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, and Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and also a CNN contributor.

Good morning to both of you.



SAMBOLIN: So, Ana, I want to start with you. Can you explain to us why conservative Republicans are opposed to a treaty that would, in John McCain's words, promote rights for disabled people, including our own veterans overseas?

NAVARRO: Well, you know, first of all, I don't think it was a stand against people with disabilities. It was a stand against this treaty. It was a stand against a United Nations treaty.

There were a number of concerns. I read the statements by both, you know, John McCain and also some of the other senators that voted against. They're not Tea Party senators as Senator Reid is describing them. They are thoughtful people who pay attention, people like Lindsey Graham, senators like Rob Portman, senators like Marco Rubio, they are Republicans who give -- you know, who give a great credence to things like sovereignty and who don't want to give authority to the United Nations. They want the Americans with Disability Act to be the golden standard by which we guide our actions.

COSTELLO: But isn't the treaty worded in pretty much exactly the same way as the Americans with Disability Act is?

NAVARRO: Right, which begs the question, why give any power to the United Nations?

Now, let me tell you, Carol, I served as ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights. It's a bureaucratic organization with very little teeth, very little fang and ability to enforce anything. So, some people had concerns about not wanting to give authority to the United Nations and rather keep it as a sovereign issue within the United States. I think it's a credible concern.

COSTELLO: But, Maria, if the United Nations doesn't have any teeth to impose this treaty in the United States, what difference does it make?

CARDONA: That's exactly right. And I think that's the problem with the arguments that Republicans are making.

I understand that people like Rick Santorum, who does have a disabled child, they feel very strongly about this. Even in the arguments he is making, he contradicts himself, as most Republicans did yesterday, in saying that this treaty has no teeth and it can't be enforced. And at the same time saying by signing it, you give up American sovereignty. Those are two contradicting statements right there.

And so, to me, it is a huge perception of the United States and frankly to the chagrin or what should be the chagrin of Republicans that GOP, Republicans -- Senate Republicans are standing against the rights of the disabled abroad. And so, I think that it was a hugely missed opportunity to really show American leadership in an area that is sorely needed especially across the globe.

COSTELLO: I mean, Ana, does it really boil down to Republicans' distrust of the United Nations in general?

NAVARRO: I think it boils down to Republican distrust of the United Nations.

I think some people have procedural concerns. They don't want any treaties ratified during a lame duck session. They think this is something that should be fully aired, you know, while the Congress is in full session and they want the focus to be on the fiscal cliff.

Some conservatives did have issues and concerns regarding abortion and, you know, what it meant for the rights of the disabled while they were in the womb.

So, there were a number of concerns.

Look, you know, when I saw Bob Dole get wheeled in by his wife, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, my heart melted. And I think it meant a lot to people like John McCain. But that does not mean that some of these issues that some of these Republicans had were not credible and are not -- we should just say, OK.

You know, there's a lot of treaties that have really pretty sounding name but the devil is in the detail. And I think that's what some of them felt when it came to this treaty.

COSTELLO: Ana Navarro and Maria -- go ahead, Maria, quickly.

CARDONA: I was just going to say, I mean, I hope Ana is right and if Republicans really want to do this right, they will have another chance in the next Congress and this is something where Americans really need to step up. I think what happened yesterday was GOP fear of the Tea Party, because every single senator that voted against it was most likely up in 2014 except for one.

COSTELLO: OK. Ana Navarro, Maria Cardona, thanks so much.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

COSTELLO: A new study says people are so frustrated with their banks they consider going to Wal-Mart for a mortgage if they could. Well, maybe they can now.


COSTELLO: Sure you go to Wal-Mart to get things like paper towels and cereal. But would you go there to get a mortgage?

A new study says, yes, that so many people are frustrated with banks they would consider a mortgage from a place like Wal-Mart.

Maribel Aber is at the New York Stock Exchange.

So, is Wal-Mart going to offer mortgages?


Well, you know what? It really comes down to price, service and also trust, Carol. There's a consulting group, it's called Carlisle and Gallagher. They surveyed more than 600 consumers. You know what? Eighty percent of them said they would consider taking on a mortgage from a non-bank, with half of them saying they'd actually consider a mortgage from PayPal and a third saying they wouldn't mind a from Wal- Mart.

But, you know, that's not to say that people aren't happy with their banks. It's really just that frustrations with the mortgage process means that they consider less traditional routes here.

The consumers surveyed, they say, you know, they're aggravated by the high interest rates, payments and taxes that go along with their current mortgages. And there also seems to be a belief that they get away from those by going outside the big loan providers.

So, other complaints include slow execution of their application. Also, untrustworthy advice, Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, I refinance and that was one of the most agonizing experience of my entire life.

So, again, are places like Wal-Mart, are they even interested in doing that? And should you really get a mortgage from some place like Wal- Mart?

ABER: Well, you know, Carol, I was in the same situation as you, just refinanced as well. Wal-Mart, though, they told us this morning they have no plans to get into mortgages. But you know what? It wouldn't be totally crazy. Wal-Mart stuck its toe in the banking business when it began offering Bluebird accounts in October. So, these are meant as an alternative to traditional debit and checking accounts and the company Sam's Club store do offer small business loans, worth up to about $25,000, with both things like low interest rate and simple terms.

Plus, rival Costco, you know what? They did, in fact, roll out a mortgage business back in April, again putting the focus on low rates and fees. It seems to almost be a sense of trust with these places people shop at every day rather than the big banks that often get such a bad rap after the financial crisis -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Maribel Aber, reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

He is unifying a divided city. We're going to talk about the talents of RG3, next.


COSTELLO: Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM. The fight over the fiscal cliff shows no signs of easing. Coming up at the top of the hour we're expecting to hear from House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans, who have been meeting this morning. And they're not happy with the negotiations.

President Obama says no deal will be reached without higher taxes on the wealthy.

A new twist in the case of Internet mogul John McAfee, the American millionaire on the run from police in Belize. He's now seeking asylum in Guatemala. Police in Belize say they want to question McAfee about the shooting death of a man, but they say McAfee is not a suspect.

A typhoon blame for the death of at least 274 people in the Philippines. That storm also destroyed close to 3,000 homes. The storm is moving off shore after leaving washed out roads, downed power lines and lots of damage. And Dr. Phil's stolen '57 Chevy has been found. An auto theft task force found the Chevy Bel Air in Los Angeles while investigating stolen classic cars. Detectives says burglars were targeting repair shops and making off with the cars. Dr. Phil's Chevy has some minor body damage but it's in good condition.

A Christmas celebration is South Carolina was way too much for one giraffe. And it was all caught on camera. Ooh, Melman the giraffe started shaking and jumping up and down this weekend at a tree lighting ceremony. In the end, the giraffe is not hurt and we're not really clear on why a giraffe was at a -- anyway. That's a whole another story. We're back in a minute.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Max Little says he's found a way to diagnose Parkinson's with a simple phone call.

MAX LITTLE, MIT FELLOW, MATHEMATICIAN: They leave a voice recording. The algorithms would analyze that voice recording and then a neurologist can get an indication about whether or not they have Parkinson's and the probability associated with that.

GUPTA: How confident can you be that that percent has Parkinson's?

LITTLE: To that 99 percent.

GUPTA: That -- that's pretty incredible.

Now if he succeeds, he could change the game for Parkinson's patients and for doctors on "The Next List".



COSTELLO: Minnesota Viking's quarterback Christian Ponder is used to the cheering of fans. But he says he's never had a welcome like this.


CHRISTIAN PONDER, VIKINGS QUARTERBACK: The biggest introduction ever had in my life going through that longest line of people ever.


COSTELLO: Ponder was a 7th grader show and tell subject after he won a national contest. Ponder held a news conference for the class talking about the importance of staying in school, eating healthy and being yourself but one student had to bring up the Vikings loss on Sunday. Ponder faced some tough questing admitting he didn't play all that great. Even the kids know.

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, is doing something unheard of in that partisan town. He's bringing people together and bringing luck to another D.C. sports team. RG3 showed up for last night's NBA game between the Wizards and the defending champion Miami Heat and the Wizards won. Of course RG3 is known for what he does on the field, not courtside.

Brian Todd takes a look.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nicknamed RG3, this 22- year-old has mesmerized the entire city, captured the hearts of football fans throughout the nation's capital. A 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and number two overall pick, RG3 is helping to instill a winning attitude as the Redskins rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accelerating, slowing down, lost the ball into the hands --

TODD: He may be the only person who can actually unify Washington. Redskins rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin, III. The phenomenon that is RG3 seems to be immune to pressure. He took another step closer to an improbable playoff run by leading the Redskins to their third consecutive win Monday night over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

CNN spoke to him in May shortly after he was drafted.

ROBERT GRIFFIN II, REDSKINS QUARTERBACK: It's not about a team that hasn't, we've only made it twice in the past 12 years in the playoffs. It's a team that hey we've got a new start, we got a new quarterback and I want to go out and win.

TODD: And winning is what rookie quarterbacks have been able to accomplish at unprecedented level this season in the NFL. Seven rookie quarterbacks started in week 13 across the league. RG3, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are leading the rise of the rookies and they have high hopes of reaching the post season.

GRIFFIN: You can't come in and say, hey, we just want to win seven games. No. We just want to be competitive, no. You can't -- you can't come out and say, we want to be competitive. You've got to be, you want to concur.

So Peyton Manning won 3 in 13 in his first year playing in the NFL. Does that mean that all of the rookies have that excuse? Peyton Manning went 3 and 13, it doesn't matter. We've got to come out and help our teams to win from the get-go because that's why they drafted us.

TODD: there's even talk in Washington that if the Redskins advance to the playoffs, Robert Griffin III could be in the discussion of the league's Most Valuable Player award. There's little doubt where a franchise has struggled on the field for 20 years would be without him. Brian Todd, CNN.


COSTELLO: That's for sure. Ok. This is going to make you do a double-take. Steve Jobs or Ashton Kutcher? We're getting a first look at the official photos from the film.


COSTELLO: We're getting our first look at Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs this morning. Here is CNN's Nischelle Turner.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In just a few weeks the world will get its first look at the new movie about Steve Jobs. But we can share the first image from the film which stars Ashton Kutcher as the legendary man behind Apple.

Now this is the photo of Kutcher in costume as Jobs. He has the beard and the long hair parted on the side. That was his look back in the day. I want to give you a look at a comparison photo of Jobs and Kutcher. Critics are saying that there is a definite a resemblance. But I'll just let you guys be the judge of that.

Now, this biopic which is called "Jobs" has just been announced as the closing night film for the Sundance Film Festival in late January. The festival is calling the movie, quote, "The true story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history which chronicles the defining 30 years of Steve Jobs life." It says, that it's, quote, "candid, inspiring, and personal".

And this is actually one of two movies coming out about Steve Jobs who died just a little over a year ago. Aaron Sorkin writing a different movie based on the bestselling biography by Walter Isaacson. No one's been cast to play Jobs in the Sorkin version. So for now, Ashton Kutcher is the man and Christine and Zorayda, you know, some people are questioning the casting of Ashton as Jobs. Mostly because he's known for comedy. But, you know, he's almost famously tech savvy. He got out ahead of the curve on Twitter. He now has 13 million followers plus.

He's entrepreneurial too. He's got his own moving production company. He's got all kinds of business ventures. So maybe it's not so much of a stretch to see Ashton as Steve Jobs.

COSTELLO: Maybe not. Nischelle Turner reporting.

The next hour of "CNN NEWSROOM" starts right now. A busy day in our nation's capital this morning. There are several events happening right now that we're keeping an eye on.