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Political Stories to Watch in 2018; Watt Raised Money for Houston Relief; Holiday Shopping Trips. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 25, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What does that mean about the political landscape? Heading in, let's face it, the presidential cycle is coming once again.


CUOMO: It's true.

CAMEROTA: Heaven help us.

And we'll check in with the one and only J.J. Watts. The NFL star has raised more than $37 million for Houston after that city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

But first, let's get a check of your headlines at the news desk.


Pope Francis delivering his Christmas Day address and blessing to the world. The pontiff praying for children around the world, including those dealing with renewed tensions in Jerusalem. Earlier, the pontiff celebrated Christmas mass at St. Peter's Square and touched on the plight of migrants and refugees, comparing their struggle to Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem.

In Afghanistan, at least ten people are killed and five injured following a suicide bomb attack. The blast taking place near the compound of Afghanistan's intelligence agency in Kabul. The site of the attack is close to the U.S. embassy and several other diplomatic missions. At this point, no group has claimed responsibility.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, celebrating a negotiated $285 million budget cut to the U.N., calling it a big step in the right direction. Haley slamming the world body for what she called bloated management. The cut to the overall U.N. budget happening after the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to condemn President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Rescue crews racing to save 150 skiers who were trapped on a broken ski lift in the French Alps. The incident happening in the French ski resort. Images showing two helicopters flying to the gondolas. Emergency crews then forcing open the roofs and lowering the stranded skiers back on to the ground. This is amazing video. The rescue operation taking nearly two hours. Fortunately, no one was hurt. No word on what caused the incident.

I'm Alison Kosik. More headlines coming up in 30 minutes.

Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: Welcome back.

2018 shaping up to be a momentous year in politics. Why? Well, you've got the midterms coming. That will be in November. You're going to have everything that leads up to it is going to be about playing to advantage. So, what should we be looking for? What should we expect? How about additional members of Congress? Is anybody else going to retire?

Let's discuss. We have CNN political analysts David Gregory and John Avalon.

We have a checklist of big things to watch for. Let's put it up for people here.

Repealing Obamacare. Infrastructure program. Reforming welfare entitlement programs.

David, do you think that we have those in a right order? Do you think they may come in a different order?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they may come in a different order. And I would add something, which is the unexpected, right? Whether it's the Mueller investigation. Whether it's another Supreme Court vacancy. Whether it's the politics surrounding the Mueller investigation or a Supreme Court vacancy or some other external shock, namely something that could happen in national security, in foreign affairs, could make any kind of agenda just stand still or never really get started.

I still think that the potential promise of a Trump presidency is to take on something that he may know something about, which is infrastructure. A way to work with Democrats. Maybe the well has been too poisoned at this point.

You know, welfare reform is certainly an area that I think certainly the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, would like to take on. He's taken it on before. In an election year, when it hurt him so badly the last time he took it on, and with a president who probably doesn't want to do some of the draconian things that welfare -- that entitlement reform would require, I think not.

CUOMO: He pledged not to.

GREGORY: And he pledged not to. That doesn't mean as much. But I think he would be less inclined to do it.

So I still think there's a big undertaking, infrastructure could make some sense, if there's any room to do any of those things.

CAMEROTA: How do you see it? JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That was the great lost opportunity of 2017 and what remains an opportunity for this administration. It's an area where there's theoretically bipartisan support. And the president (INAUDIBLE) has real credibility as a lifelong builder. But they've already put that to the side in '17. And the problem is, as you had in the midterms, political calculations start crowding out policy, (INAUDIBLE) the policy has ever been on the front burner. That would be the smart thing to focus on.

But Republicans are also trying to regain their credibility on one of their core issues, which is deficit and debt, generational responsibility, and they've given that away. Whenever they seem to be in power, they, unfortunately, they care a lot about when a Democrat's in the White House, but they find excuses not to deal with it when a Republican is. Will they try to regain credibility on that issue because many of them sincerely believe that it's an existential threat. But then you've got to deal with that. And Obamacare reforms are perennial. I mean, you know, that, for them, I mean, you know, they will keep voting on it until they can feel -- or rename it.

GREGORY: And that's a much sweeter spot to campaign on --


GREGORY: As opposed to being demagogued on, you know, Medicare or Social Security, which they don't want to face.

[06:35:02] AVLON: Yes. Yes, but they should -- you know, look, it's ultimately governing should be about principles, but also about helping people. So you've got to -- if you're going to repeal, you've got to replace. What are they going to do to help people?


CAMEROTA: You raised the issue of midterms, so let's talk about that. Does the clock for midterms start January 2nd? Is that's what's -- that's what we'll be focused on?

GREGORY: Yes, of 2017 it started. I mean, yes. Oh, there's no question about it. And I think what we've seen here as the year ended in Alabama and Virginia, you see a Democratic coalition that doesn't have leadership but has enthusiasm. They don't have an alternative to Trump other than opposing Trump, but they've got enthusiasm at a fever pitch, at all ages. We've seen polling at the end of the year showing a preference for Democrats, merely as a rejection of Trump. And any new administration faces the potential to be shellacked in a midterm. And I think Trump even more so. So I think it's going to be potentially a very difficult year for (INAUDIBLE).

AVLON: Sure. I mean normally they say if you're below 50 percent, you know, stay away from the midterms. You could be talking to your party. Instead we're talking about a president who's in the 30s, the low 30s.


AVLON: I mean that's unprecedented. But Democrats who are taking a lot of comfort from the strong wins in

Virginia, in Alabama, showing real motivation, even if it's in opposition, to David's point, need to also confront the fact that generic Democrat versus generic Republican is never actually on the ballot. They're going to have to put forward candidates and the actual map for Republicans -- for Democrats taking back the Senate in the House is difficult. It is a tough map for them. It's not impossible. The enthusiasm's all on their side but they're going to have to put forward strong candidates and play outside the fence.

GREGORY: And who do they want? Do they want candidates like Doug Jones and like -- in Virginia -- I'm forgetting his name who won governor in --

AVLON: Northam.



GREGORY: You know, that these are more conservative Democrats. I mean they're not Bernie Sanders and --

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: But that's the question, yes.

CUOMO: Well, but -- well, so you have two aspects going on. All right, so the -- the first thing is that, well, what are they going to replace it with? So being anti-Trump is going to help the Democrats a little --


CUOMO: But it's not going to be enough.


CUOMO: They keep using as an analogy what happened in '94. I remember very well because that's when my father lost. And the reason that he lost was because there was something bigger coming. The economy was a little soft. It wasn't working for the working class. There was a huge culture issue, which was, at that time, was the death penalty. And the Republicans put together the contract with America. There was something big they had to offer. What is the big thing that the Democrats have to offer? I mean you don't have the answer.


CUOMO: The question is, they need to come up with something --

GREGORY: I agree with that. No, but I'm just thinking.

CUOMO: More than just not Trump.

AVLON: Yes. And -- and -- CUOMO: The other aspects -- just the other aspects, because you really whiffed on the first one -- the other aspect is that the president had gotten heat for tweeting that, you know, well, we're doing pretty good with these congressional races. We're like 5-0. Because he forgot that the Senate is part of Congress.

The Senate's going to matter, too. And they have such a slim margin there that they have to be on their game.


GREGORY: But I would disagree in that.

CUOMO: He's back.

GREGORY: I don't know that there's -- there's as much of a legislative push, because I just don't think there's consensus around that, as there is rejecting Trump and rolling back Trump. I mean if you think back to the midterm in 2016, right, that was the anti-Iraq War.

CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: So, I mean, he looms that large as this kind of big, amorphous issue, which is Trump and Trumpism. That is the ideology of the Democrats right now.

AVLON: Yes. And I think, look --

CUOMO: Fair (ph) point.

AVLON: Wave elections tend to be opposition in this country, right?

CUOMO: Welcome back. Strong (ph).

AVLON: I mean wave elections tend to be about opposing something, not enough about proposition, which is one of the deeper problems in our country, in our politics. We're not focused on what we're for as much as what we're against.

That said, Democrats are going to need to reach out to moderates and the middle class. There is a deep divide in the Democratic Party between the Bernie Sanders wing and what had been the Hillary Clinton wing. That's not going to be solved and they can paper it over by opposition to Trump. But you're going to start to see candidates who want to run in 2020 try to take leadership roles in this midterm. And how can they square that circle? Can they play out beyond their base? Because they can't just win the cities and coastal blue states and win a national election. It's not sufficient. So they're going to need to bigger and reach out beyond their base.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, David Gregory, thank you very much. Merry Christmas.

AVLON: Merry Christmas.

GREGORY: Thank you. CAMEROTA: OK, so the hurricane season was devastating, of course, this

year. But there is a silver lining. And we will talk with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt who raised nearly $40 million to help people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. That's next.


[06:43:21] CUOMO: Merry Christmas. Welcome back to a special Christmas Day edition of NEW DAY.

You know, it's been exactly four months since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. It was a category four storm. One person trying to help Texans get back on their feet is Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. The NFL player raised more than $37 million for his home state. J.J. Watt joins us now from Houston.

Merry Christmas, big man.

J.J. WATT, DEFENSIVE END, HOUSTON TEXANS: Hi. Merry Christmas to you.

CUOMO: So the money that you have raised, how is it helping people during the Christmas season?

WATT: It's all at work. The money's out at work. Now we're working with four great organizations. We're partnered with SBP, who's helping to rebuild homes. And throughout the next couple of years they're going to rebuild hundreds of homes. We're partnering with Americares, who's giving out medical care, both physical and mental health care, which is obviously both equally important during this time. We're working with Feeding America to give out food and drinks, obviously, during this tough time. People are going through so much, they need that nutrition.

And then we're also working with Save the Children to get over 1,000 childcare centers back up and running because that's one of the most important things is parents need a place to get their kids to be safe, and obviously get themselves back to work. And some of these childcare centers also provide food and they provide community services, as well. So it's extremely important that we get those back up and running.

And it's a very long process. It's obviously going to take a very long time. We're working over the course of the next two years. But the money is at work. And I've gone out and I've visited and I've seen some of these sites and it's truly incredible what these people went through, but also the positivity and the energy that they have throughout it all. And it's really inspiring. And I can't thank everybody who donated enough because your money is doing some great things.

[06:45:03] CUOMO: Now, you're a young man. You're young in your career still, and yet you're known for taking on community efforts with real passion. What was the most where you knew you had to step up here?

WATT: Oh, I mean, you know, these people have support me throughout my whole career. I've been here in Houston for seven years. They've supported me on the field. They've supported me off the field. And when you see your city going through something like that, you see the people that support you going through something like that, you have to step up. You have to find a way.

You know, I heard a quote one time, if you can, you must. And I feel like it was just my duty. You know, I'm so grateful for everything that they did for me. And to see them going through such a difficult time, I wanted to be right there with them side by side going through it and doing whatever I could to use my platform for good.

CUOMO: You were named "Sports Illustrated" "Sportsman of the Year" for lifting up the people of Houston during a difficult time. What did that mean to you?

WATT: You know, I think it's so much bigger than just a single person honor. I'm very honored and humble to receive that aware, to share it with Jose Altuve and the Astros for everything that they did for the city. But it's so much bigger than either of us. It's a city. It's a culture. It's an entire people. All the people who donated -- over 200,000 people donated to this fund, and so many more helped out, whether it was physically helping out, getting in boats and saving people. The firefighters, the policemen, everybody who stepping up in a big, big way to help out our city. And it's continuing to do so moving forward.

I think everybody deserves the award. And I'm just fortunate enough to be the mouthpiece for that. And I just want to give everybody the credit who deserves it.

CUOMO: Good for you. It's always about team. And when people like you said, if you can, you must. And you have special talents and you brought them to bear. The reason I say that you're still young in your career is, I've been following you all along since college. You're seven years in. But you ain't normal, big brother, let me tell you something. The way that you handle yourself as an athlete, the way you train makes you special. How you're doing in coming back from your injury?

WATT: I appreciate that very much. That's very kind of you.

I'm doing good. You know, it's a -- it's a -- it was a gruesome injury, but it's -- it's -- the recovery process is going really well. And I have a lot of optimism. You know, I have a lot of excitement and optimism for what the future holds and getting back on the field and helping my team out. and I just can't wait. Every single day is a new step. And it takes a lot of single steps to climb a mountain. And I'm just working that -- up that mountain one day at a time. And I can't wait to get back to the top.

CUOMO: I look forward to those videos that make me feel great and terrible at the same time where you do amazing physical skill sets. I love watching you, even when you dunk the basketball. I've never seen anybody make it look as easy as you do, at your size, you know what I mean, because you're a big man. You've got a big heart, as well.

WATT: Right. Well, thank you. CUOMO: You're helping people who deserve it. We look forward to you

getting back on the field. You know, you're not a New York Jet, but you can't have everything in life, J.J. Watt. You know, you're good with your community. You've got to just take your blessings where you find them.

WATT: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. And feel free to send back some of those videos any time if you've got any of your workout videos or you dunking. I'll take any of those any time.

CUOMO: Sadly, there are none, J.J. Watt. That's why I need you. The only thing I dunk is doughnuts in coffee.

You be well. The best to your family for Christmas.

WATT: Hey, that's all right. Thank you. You as well. Happy holidays.

CUOMO: All right, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, so let's say you've received a gift you do not like. Should you re-gift it or return it? Christine Romans joins us with what to do, next.


[06:52:23] CAMEROTA: Welcome back, everyone.

So if you do not love one of your gifts, you're not alone. Fifteen percent of all gifts are returned each holiday season. I'm surprised it's so low actually. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with the best way to return those unwanted items.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I return none of my gifts. I love everything you all are going to give me.

CAMEROTA: Wow. Ah, yes. And you've already had some of it to drink.

Anyway, Christine, so is returning -- are stores prepared for this or do they think it's a hassle?

ROMANS: They do think it's a hassle and they're very careful because there is return fraud that happens when people either buy -- or they either steal or they buy stolen goods and then return it or they wear or use somethings and try to return it, so you need to be careful. You need to make sure you have a receipt. Keep the items in the box. Make sure it's all put together. Don't take the tags off. It's pretty logical, common sense kind of advice. But be organized and return it as quickly as you can after the holidays.

CAMEROTA: Well, I wanted to ask you about that, about the timing.


CAMEROTA: So people should actually go out tomorrow and make returns?

ROMANS: No, you don't have to go tomorrow. You can wait. I would say two weeks is the max here.

Now, places like Apple, they'll extend you a couple of weeks to return it, but they generally have a pretty short return window. Most places have, you know, maybe 30 days. And after that you would get store credit instead of your money back. And you want your money back. But the most generous windows are places like Nordstrom, Kohl's, very generous there, Macy's.

CAMEROTA: But when you say generous, like forever?

ROMANS: Well, not forever. Nothing is forever. But they will give you a little bit more time. Like what if, for example, somebody bought you this gift way back in November, right?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Right. Right.

ROMANS: You know, so you want to make sure that you keep as much of the details as you can together.

CAMEROTA: Have return policies gotten tougher lately?

ROMANS: Yes, they have, because of what I was talking about, that return fraud, the number of people who are trying to figure out how to get money for something or a different price for something. So they have gotten much more -- much more stringent.

And also, you know, you've heard of these restocking fees. Every year, especially for electronics, we talk about restocking fees. How maybe you return something and the company's going to charge you a little bit of that because they've had to adjust their inventory because you bought something and then returned it. I mean just always make sure that you get a gift receipt for the gifts you're going to give and keep your receipts as much as you can.

CAMEROTA: OK. So let's say you didn't get everything you wanted, or let's say that you didn't get everything on your Christmas list for other people, is now a good time to still go shopping, or do prices tick back up now after the Christmas sales?

ROMANS: This is a really great time. There will be a lot of really great sales here because you're going to see all these retailers trying to adjust their inventory. So clothing right now, apparel, this is a great time for apparel. And sometimes you have trouble finding the right sizes. But when you're going back to return items in the stores, you're probably going to see a lot of great deals. Holiday decor, obviously, 75 percent off. Video games, this is a good time, after Christmas, to buy video games and electronics. Those are all the best deals.

[06:55:06] I will caution everybody, of course, when you're going to return your gifts, don't load yourself up on other debt, you know. Be careful that you're not buying what you don't need.

CAMEROTA: How do you know we do that, Christine?

ROMANS: You never do that for sure. CAMEROTA: I mean what happens is you do go to the store and you see

things and you get like inspired and then you buy --

ROMANS: I know. I know.

CAMEROTA: OK, so what about gift cards? I have a bunch of gift cards that I've never used.

ROMANS: So, you know, there's a big debate about whether gift cards are really the essence of gift giving, you know, if you're giving a gift card. We'll leave that aside. Say you get five or six of these gift cards. There's a surprisingly large percentage of people who don't even use their gift cards. They go in a drawer and they forget about them. There are sites, card-swapping sites, where you can go and you can trade your one gift card for a different brand or you can even cash it in. I'd say look for 80 cents to 90 cents on the dollar is pretty much what you should expect. If you're swapping a card, sometimes there's going to be a fee to do that. But don't let that money go to waste.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's good.

And do you want to tell us the name of some of those sites? Are you allowed to do that?

ROMANS: I can tell you some -- I can, you know, I'm not going to tell you names.

CAMEROTA: No, you're not going to.

ROMANS: I would like to -- I would like to specifically vet them out before I put them out there.


ROMANS: You go do your own research. There are two or three that are well regarded.

CAMEROTA: Good. And after you vet them, then maybe you'll tweet it or put it on FaceBook or -- how about it?

ROMANS: How about I do that right now?

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Christine. Really appreciate it.

ROMANS: Merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Merry Christmas to you. Chris.

CUOMO: Research. Oh, you know what that is -- homework. All right, when we come back, we'll look at the big political stories of the year and what you can expect in 2018.