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Las Vegas Massacre Family Gives Thanks; Politics at Dinner; Turkeys Like the Pilgrims; Parade Preview. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:19] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly two months after the Las Vegas massacre, a family of one of the victims is giving thanks. Rosemary Melanson was shot when the gunman opened fire on thousands of concert goers. Fifty-eight people left dead, nearly 500 others were injured. Rosemary has undergone several surgeries. She spent weeks on life support in critical condition. This week, though, some good news for Rosemary's family. Her husband, Steve Melanson, joins us now.

Steve, great to have you with us, especially on a day when you have some good news. Happy Thanksgiving.


HILL: So update us. What is the good news that you received this week?

MELANSON: Well, she has been downgraded to acute immediate care. So she's not in the ICU unit anymore. And she's off the ventilator. So she's off life support. They put the speaking valve in so she can communicate and basically talk through her own vocal cords now. And her first words to me was, "rub my feet."

HILL: My feet?

MELANSON: My feet, yes. She loves -- she loves her foot massages. So she says, "rub my feet." That was her first words to me.

HILL: And like a good husband, you obliged?

MELANSON: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HILL: Those must be the two greatest words you have heard.

MELANSON: Yes. It's been a long time waiting to hear those words. But, yes, I'm -- I was very happy. It brought tears to my eyes that she's able to speak again.

HILL: This was, for folks who may not be as familiar with your family story, your wife was there, these tickets, I know, were a gift for Mother's Day from your daughter.


HILL: She was one of the first people who was shot.


HILL: And your daughters ran. And like so many stories we heard, there was someone who was there to help your wife. Tell us a little bit more about that stranger who stepped in.

MELANSON: Yes. He was behind my wife and my two daughters that were there. And what happened was is that when the first volley of gunfire erupted, she was one of the first ones to get hit. My daughter was shot in the arm, Paige (ph). And so he saw her get shot and then he saw my wife go down, face down. So he crawled over and then turned her over and then got a sweater from my daughter, Stephanie (ph), to put on the gunshot wound.

And he told my girls, if they wanted to live, that they needed to leave, because gunfire was still erupting around them. And, reluctantly, they left their mother. And he made a promise that he would stay with my wife and not leave her side. And, true to form, he stayed with her right until they got her out.

It was -- we did make contact with Don and he mentioned that she was in the venue for at least, oh, I think about 45 minutes to an hour before they could get her out of the venue to an ambulance. So, yes, if he wasn't there, she wouldn't have survived.

HILL: I know he was really concerned. She wouldn't have survived without him.

MELANSON: Yes. Yes, he was.

HILL: And he didn't want to move her on his own --


HILL: Because he didn't want to cause any further issues.


HILL: You say you've made contact with Don. We've also spoken with Don. And Don Matthews is with us this morning because he'd like to speak with you as well.


HILL: You both have a lot to be thankful for I know this morning. So, Steve, a little surprise for you, but Don is with us too.


HILL: Don, happy Thanksgiving.


DON MATTHEWS, SAVED WOMAN IN VEGAS SHOOTING: Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving, Steve, and to your family. MELANSON: Happy Thanksgiving, Don. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: It is a happy Thanksgiving.

MELANSON: It is. It is. She's alive because of you, Don. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I just heard the update. I'm so glad that she's doing so much better.

MELANSON: Yes. We're waiting for her to get a little bit better and we're going to get you down here and we're going to have a big reunion with you and with her.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I'll be happy to come.

MELANSON: Yes, thank you.


MELANSON: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it's going to be one -- a special Thanksgiving this year.

MELANSON: Yes, it is, indeed.

HILL: Steve, your daughters, you mentioned one of your daughters was injured as well. As I understand it, she's doing a little bit better. You both have a lot, obviously, to be thankful for. It will be a different Thanksgiving.

When you two, who are now forever linked in one another's lives, as you sit around that table today with your families, we are often thankful for family.

Steve, what's different, though, for you this year? Tell us in your words.

[08:35:04] MELANSON: Well, I mean what's different -- what I'm thankful for is that Rosemary survived and she's alive. But what I'm thankful -- but what's going to be different is not having her home for Thanksgiving. But I'm going to be spending most of the day with her at the hospital. She's still in hospital. She's still not able to walk yet. But she's making improvements every day. Little improvements every day. And so not having her home is going to be different this year.

HILL: Don, I imagine you're looking at the holiday differently as well. I know people are often reluctant in these situations to be called a hero, but to know that you helped save someone's life.

MATTHEWS: Well, I did my small part. It was just a small part. I had her for the first half hour, 45 minutes and got her to other people that could help her more than I could. So --

HILL: What's changed for you, Don, this Thanksgiving? MATTHEWS: Family and friends are a little bit closer. Yes, certainly.

And kind of have a new little family out there in Las Vegas now. So, yes. Yes, it's -- it's a special Thanksgiving. Like I said, family and friends are so important. And we all get to live another day. So, yes, couldn't be happier.

HILL: Don Matthews, Steve Melanson, appreciate you both taking part of your holiday to share this update with us and we're really happy we could get you together. And we look forward to hearing about that reunion when you're together in person.


HILL: And, Don, when you can meet Rosemary was well.

MELANSON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Absolutely.


HILL: Thank you both. Happy Thanksgiving and all the best to you and your families.

MELANSON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Happy Thanksgiving to all of you too.

MELANSON: Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Have a good day.

HILL: Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, it is so good to hear anything that even resembles something positive coming out of such a horrible, horrible day.

So it is Thanksgiving. And for a lot of families, dinner is going to be served with a side of politics. What you may want to do when President Trump's name gets mentioned at the table, next.


[08:41:15] CUOMO: Thanksgiving is all about family and good stuff and turkey. But you know what can happen. You're sitting there, you've got a drumstick hanging out of your mouth and up comes the dreaded topic of politics. Fifty-eight percent of Americans in a new poll say they're dreading the topic coming up. So, how do we deal with this type of turkey talk?

Dean Obeidallah, host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on Sirius XM is here and Paul Mecurio, comedian and host of "The Paul Mecurio Show" on iTunes.

Gentlemen, we are thankful for you both joining me and Erica here. So, let's start. Paul --


CUOMO: You're at the table. Now you're Italian.


CUOMO: Dean's half. So there's going to be talking. There are going to be hands.

MECURIO: A lot of hands.

CUOMO: There's going to be histrionics.

MECURIO: Pass the salt. What did you mean by that? There's a lot of that.

CUOMO: Politics come up. What do you do?

MECURIO: Create distractions. I got three that I'm going to use today. You can use them at home. They'll work for anybody.

First, say you just saw the image of the Virgin Mary in the mashed potatoes.

CUOMO: Oh, big with the Italians.

HILL: Oh, hey.

MECURIO: Right. You know what I'm saying?

HILL: Yes.

MECURIO: People, they'll hover around the bowl. They'll pray.

Second, people tend to nap after the meal. If things get crazy at the beginning of the meal, do a face plant right into the appetizers. That will send a message, you're out of the conversation.

HILL: That's a great game changer.

MECURIO: And then the third one is I create a complicated task where everybody has to help you. So like halfway through the meal just have everybody come out to the car and help you install new wiper blades. It will take you seven hours. They'll be exhausted and they go home.


MECURIO: I got it all thought through here.

HILL: It could definitely work.

What -- but what do you do when you get the drunk uncle? Let's be honest.

CUOMO: The drunkle.

OBEIDALLAH: Oh. I think that the key -- if they were wearing a make America great again hat, anything that you say just call it fake news. That's my advice. I use what Trump does. I got pulled over for speeding in Jersey. The cops like, you're speeding. I'm like, fake cop. You've got to do this. The idea of use that game against them all the time.

I think the concern is Thanksgiving could come a cross (ph) street fight club and there will be blood. I mean it's going to be a tough time. It could be an animal house fight, a food fight. As a half Sicilian, Chris, I sit with my back to the door. I don't want to (INAUDIBLE) and look around for any weapon I might need. I would recommend the stuffing. You can ball it up, throw it. It sticks. Sit down, finish your meal like a gentleman.

HILL: You're not just grabbing a knife, holding it under the table just in case.

MECURIO: And you know the thing --

OBEIDALLAH: No knife. No, no, no, we -- family.

CUOMO: So Dean's got a family half -- where is your father from?

OBEIDALLAH: Half Palestinian, half Sicilian.

CUOMO: Half Palestinian, so it's Muslim and Italian. So you've got half the table are blaming you for things and wanting to take him out, and the other half are saying they're going to do it first. That's a tough mix that you have going on there.

OBEIDALLAH: It's (INAUDIBLE), but that's Thanksgiving. That's the beauty of this, a melting pot.

MECURIO: You mentioned it. I've got the crazy uncle that -- with the -- with the -- if you've got one of those relatives with the nutty ideas, you've got to out crazy the crazy. So just start saying stuff like, we should invade the ocean, you know. All pigeons are illegal immigrants. Check their papers. And it will just -- people are just like, whoa, OK, and they'll change the subject.

HILL: And then they back off as they slowly move away from you.

MECURIO: Exactly.

HILL: Football used to be a safe space, right, football?

MECURIO: Yes. Yes.

HILL: But is football still safe if you just don't watch the anthem? How does that work?

MECURIO: Yes. Yes, exactly. I think you can use football -- look, we've got to find common ground in this country. So pick topics that we can all agree on, like football, right, Nazis are bad. No one should ever vote for an accused pedophile. No one would ever argue with that, right? So it's sort of like you just sort of throw stuff out there and then you just like kind of move on. Nobody gets a little upset and there's no arguing.

OBEIDALLAH: The worst thing is if there's a Cowboy fan or a New England Patriot fan in your family. Those are by far the worst.


OBEIDALLAH: Those are worse than Trump supporters. Look, you can't even avoid it because if football -- someone takes a knee or doesn't take a knee --

HILL: Right.

OBEIDALLAH: You've got a whole conversation about politics again.


OBEIDALLAH: You know, I wrote an article for "The Daily Beast" that came out today. I interviewed some psychologists. And their advice was, have ground rules before dinner. Really, everyone agrees. Like, no personal insults, no trumping it up, no yell at each other. And then everyone agrees to these rules and everyone can enforce these rules.

HILL: And if they disagree, do you kick them out?

OBEIDALLAH: It's food fight. I mean (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: No, that's not the Italian side of the family.

MECURIO: Yes, exactly.

CUOMO: They're never wasting food, I'll tell you that.

OBEIDALLAH: We never throw food. Right.

[08:45:02] CUOMO: But also, look, there is something that is serious and worth thinking about as we enter into it. You have to believe in this country that what joins us is far more and far more important than what divides us. And if that's not what family is about more than anything else, because I'll tell you what, the starting point of, I'm going to tell you what you can say and what you can't, that ain't going to go well.

HILL: You're saying that's a bad road.

CUOMO: Yes, that ain't going to go well in my house. But you've got to just remember what brings you there.

OBEIDALLAH: But you agree that no personal insults -- but like no personal insults. No screaming at each other. That kind of stuff and that everyone enforces --

MECURIO: But if you can't use Thanksgiving at a time to like really listen to each other and take in the other side, I mean when can you do it, you know? You mentioned stuffing. IO mean stuffing and yams are delicious. They also make great ear plugs. Just in case you need it, they're their.

HILL: In case you (INAUDIBLE).

MECURIO: But I think if we can't do it today, I don't know when you can do it.

OBEIDALLAH: But it's so unique. I mean Donald Trump, I think for so many of us, it's personal some it.


OBEIDALLAH: He's aging all of us. Look at me, I'm 23. Look what he's done to me. I was a young man before this started and in 10 months he's aged. I think a lot of this is very personal and that's why the stakes are so high and that's why 58 percent or 59 percent of Americans dread talking politics. They know where it goes, an ugly place.

MECURIO: But it's not the end of the world either. I mean if you don't get everything you want on your side of the table, I think that's where the problem comes in, in this country. It's like, I have to win every point, every argument --


MECURIO: And you have to see every part of my argument. And if you don't, then it's a lose, lose, lose. And it's not. You have to give and take. And hopefully, on a day like this, people can do that, you know?

CUOMO: Strong points. Gentlemen, happy Thanksgiving.

OBEIDALLAH: Happy Thanksgiving to you both.

MECURIO: Happy Thanksgiving.

HILL: Let's take a look now at what to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:00 a.m., Thanksgiving Day Parade.

4:00 p.m., "Parts Unknown" marathon on CNN.

5:00 p.m., Black Friday deals beginning.


CUOMO: All right, now you know what to watch. But, of course, the biggest thing to watch is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade just minutes away. Our families are getting here for it. The balloons in the air. The bands and performers are ready. You want to go to the parade route? We'll take you there, next. HILL: That's right.

First, though, Americans will eat some 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving. And, increasingly, many of those will be heritage turkeys. CNN's Jacqueline Howard carves in today's "Food as Fuel."


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN NUTRITIONIST: Compared to most supermarket gobblers, heritage turkeys more closely resemble what the pilgrims may have had on their plates. They're also different in how they're brought up and how much they cost.

Heritage turkeys are raised outside. Most grocery store turkeys live indoors. Heritage breeds mate naturally. Commercial breeds are often artificially inseminated. And heritage birds tend to grow slower than common turkeys, which are bred to grow fast.

Heritage turkeys also more expensive, roughly four to ten times what you'd normally pay in a grocery store. And that doesn't include shipping if you can't find a farm near you.

As for what you get for the money, heritage birds tend to have more dark meat and a more intense, sometimes gamier flavor. But experts say it all comes down to personal preference. Some prefer heritage, others the milder taste of commercial turkeys, since that's what we're used to.



[08:52:41] CUOMO: Now, look, we know many of you are watching right now because you're waiting for the parade to start and want to get the timing right and that's OK.

HILL: It is.

CUOMO: The 91st Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is about to kick off literally just minutes from now. The balloons, the bands, the performers, everybody's ready to go. We've got CNN's Jason Carroll live on the parade route now surrounded by thousands.

Set the stage, my friend.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of thousands of people, Chris, out here getting ready. The parade now just minutes away. Olaf is set and ready to go. Olaf from "Frozen" is warming up. And my crowd is warming up as well.

And they're from all over. They're from Jersey. They're from Chicago, Connecticut, and a very warm St. Lucia somewhere.

I want to bring in two of my favorites here. These two lovely young ladies who are also ready to see Olaf from "Frozen."

KIDS: Yes!

CARROLL: Yes? And no -- oh, I'm sorry, and the Power Ranger as well. Let us not forget the Power Ranger as well. And the "Frozen" song that you guys know, correct?

KIDS: Do you want to build a snowman? Or ride a bike around the hall? And never --

CARROLL: Not bad. Not bad. And every --

KIDS: I've got to talk to (INAUDIBLE).

CARROLL: And every year you guys watch a movie. This year you guys decided to do what, "Frozen" as well?


CARROLL: No? Then what are you going to do?

KIDS: We don't know.

CARROLL: You don't know. That's good enough.

So you're going to be seeing the parade. Let's get your -- let's get you in here as well.


CARROLL: So you guys, you've been such a trooper. You've been out here with all these kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother-in-law woke up at 4:30 to do this. I only showed up at about 5:45.

CARROLL: Well, you know, bless you. Bless you for being out here doing all this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. It was all him.

CARROLL: What are you looking forward to seeing and doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm looking forward to getting out -- getting out of here.

CARROLL: Santa Claus. That's the wrong holiday. But that's coming up later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's saving it. He's -- we're looking for Santa Claus, the end.



CARROLL: All right, Power Rangers.


CARROLL: All right, you guys, thank you so very much.

I want you to enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Chris, Erica, and the NEW DAY crew, happy Thanksgiving.

CUOMO: A veteran -- a veteran reporter making a rookie mistake, putting a mike near a kid when you're talking about Christmas wishes.

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: All right. We're back here. So who is thankful for having family that loves them? Raise hands. Oh. Who is thankful for being able to go to school and get homework so you can get smarter?

[08:55:05] HILL: Oh.

CUOMO: Only that young lady will be my boss one day, I want you to know that.

And how about you? What have you got on the list?

HILL: You know, family. It's cliche, but I absolutely mean it.

CUOMO: I do too. And I mean it in a larger sense. The people that you don't get to see every day are so much more important to the quality of this show than the people that you do see, and they are my family. I am thankful for them. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here today. So we hope that you all have great days with your families. Thank you for being a part of the NEW DAY family as well.

HILL: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Ana Cabrera, who picks up after this quick break. Enjoy your day.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving. I'm Ana Cabrera. John and Poppy have the day off. We appreciate you spending part of your holiday with us.

[09:00:04] The president this morning is thanking military members for their service. He's on a video conference from what he dubs the winter White House, Mar-a-Lago. That expected to happen any minute. And that's where CNN's Joe Johns