tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC October 30, 2011 7:00am-9:00am PDT
good morning. i'm craig melvin. here's what's happening right now. the northeast gets clobbered in october snow that makes history and leaves millions without power. the dramatic pictures and stories from people caught in that storm. also, a new strategy for 2012. president obama's latest efforts might be lifted from the blueprint of a past president. that's from one report this weekend. we'll talk to the writer of that report. and a media blitz by bernie madoff's family this week. what's behind it? the son and wife of the notorious scammer are going public with new details, but why? and it is starting to get a little crowded. the 7 billionth person will be
born this week. what's the earth's tipping point? we'll talk about that as well. i'm craig melvin. alex is off this sunday. first up, a rare and now deadly october snowstorm in the northeast is breaking records and causing chaos across the region now. right now, a frantic effort is underway to restore power to about 2.9 million people without it this morning. states of emergency are in effect from massachusetts, connecticut, and new york, and new jersey. some areas are seeing nearly 2 feet of snow, shattering records dating all the way back to 1869. and at least three deaths are being blamed on the storm so far. one each in massachusetts, connecticut, and pennsylvania, and at least 1,000 flights were canceled across the country as well. airports in philadelphia and new york, airports in those areas, have been hit the hardest. here in new york this morning, cleanup from that snowfall, only the fourth in october since they started keeping records, about 135 years ago.
nbc's ron allen is in new york's central park this morning. ron, how's it looking right now? >> reporter: well, yeah, only 135 years, imagine that. that's a long time. here the problem is cleanup. at one point, central park, which is back there behind me, is closed, because they wanted to keep people away from falling tree limbs. and behind me now, you can see the cleanup crews are out there. there are guys with chain saws and a chipper, trying to get rid of the tree limbs that fell down here. nobody was hurt or anything, but it's a pretty big mess. in the park, there are about three inches of snow, which was a record. and all of this was just so surprising. the thing that was most striking, people kept saying how shocked they were to see snow so early in the year, in october. columbia's football teams had an instant classic. they called it the snow bowl. >> are your parents watching? >> reporter: plows in the field during time-outs so the field wouldn't disappear. things looked pretty weird and very wintry everywhere, with ghosts and goblins covered in
snow, while people stocked up on shovels and salt, along with candy and things, for trick-or-treaters. >> my daughter's not going to be happy. a white halloween. i don't think i ever experienced one, honestly. >> it's a mad rush of people, you know, we sell shovels, it's amazing how many shovels we sell. >> reporter: the storm stretched from maine to maryland and left a trail of destruction. the unusual combination of heavy, wet snow falling on still-leafy trees brought countless limbs and power lines down. >> yeah, it broke off. snapped here, snapped again. i'm worried about the power line. >> reporter: this woman narrowly escaped a falling tree that hit her car. a tree fell on you while you were moving? >> correct. >> reporter: so you got out by crawling through the passenger door? >> reporter: ye >> yeah. >> reporter: so much snow, it sparked that passionate debate. >> it's much too early.
>> i love it. >> reporter: at least 2 million homes were without power in pence, new york, new jersey, and connecticut. passengers waited for up to six hours from fligt flights from n york's airports. a jetblue flight from florida to newark was diverted to bradley airport in connecticut, where it was grounded for seven hours, with no food, water, or bathroom available. >> it almost came to fisticuffs on the plane. >> reporter: jetblue apologized, citing weather and infrastructure issues. these first-time visitors to new york from texas have seen enough. >> wouldn't you rather be in 80-degree el paso? >> i think so. >> reporter: and downtown in the financial district, the protesters vowing to stay and occupy wall street got their first real taste of what may be one of their toughest challenges -- winter. >> i don't know if i -- if i will be able to stay for the entire winter, but i know nah there are people that most definitely will.
>> reporter: well, the police and protesters will be battling that out in many cities in the weeks and perhaps months to come. and there you get a good look at the mess that is here in central park. it's worse out in the suburbs surrounding new york and in new jersey where there are roads closed, and of course, we know the power problem. another problem, it's cold out here. it's about 35 degrees. so people without power and heat are going to have a real big problem to deal with for a while. craig? >> ron allen in central park for us on this sunday. ron, thank you. the snowstorm slowly moving out of new england today, the weather channel's jeff morrow has details on that. jeff, good morning to you. >> good morning, craig. and indeed, a very heavy, slushy wet snow, as you just heard. these are some of the snowfall tallies from 9 in scranton. look at that out in western massachusetts. over 2 feet at plainfield. 27.8. the major cities, incoming new york, which got about 3. boston didn't see that much, philly didn't see that much. but boy, you head not that far away in the suburbs and you got into the whole mess.
fortunately, the last of that snow is about ready to leave maine. so we'll be drying out in the northeast today, but as you just heard, it will be windy and chilly. sunshine for most of the rest of the east. a little bit of snow, not rain. a beautiful day across the southern plains and a little rain in the pacific northwest. the hottest weather feels like summer in the southwest. 91 here in phoenix, 73 in los angeles. so if you're tired of the snow already in the northeast, you can always jet out here to the west. craig? >> that'd be nice. jeff, thank you. appreciate that report, buddy. one of the states hardest hit by the big snowstorm, massachusetts. reporter sigourney has the very latest from one town that really got slammed. good morning. >> reporter: hey, craig. we are sitting here in a park in a town called ashburnham. it's basically in the middle of massachusetts, for people who aren't familiar with the area. sitting on a park bench, right
before halloween in october, with the sun shining. but there is something so surreal. look at the amount of snow. this much snow before halloween is extremely rare, and this particular town actually got the most. we're talking 21 inches at this point. to get an idea, if we go over to this little monument, this is the amount of snow that fell overnight. we were dealing with trees coming down, wires coming down all across the area. this particular town lucked out, because an ice storm a couple years ago brought down so many old trees. but there weren't too many to fall this time around. so this town, not doing too badly. but you just saw how i slid right into the snow, up to my knee. they got the most accumulation. and there's a lot of cleanup that has hto be going on right now when you're dealing with this much snow. and when it's wet and rainy and heavy, you have to make sure you get it off of these roofs in time that it doesn't cause any sort of structural stress. you can see the guy up in the cherry picker, sitting in the
bucket. he's been working for a while now, just getting those gutters clear and trying to make sure that no leaks and floods and stoppage is going to happen, because you're not only dealing with the snow here, you're dealing with leaves. that's the problem. the leaves are still on the trees, and that makes the snow just be able to catch so much more. if you take a look right here, this pretty much says it all as far as the situation. you've got a snowball in october and green leaves. so we're keeping a close watch on the situation here. parents say they'll have to bundle up their kids to take them trick or treating. but, of course, the good news in this particular town is that the power outages aren't that widespread. massachusetts on hold, though. a lot of work to get people back online. in ashburnham, massachusetts, back to you, craig. >> all right. thank you for that report from massachusetts. for more on the cleanup effort in connecticut, where more than half a million people donate have power this morning, we'll have a live report from
connecticut at the bottom of the hour. and for more on the storm and the weather where you are, you can always go to the weather channel's website. it's weather.com. we've got new information this morning on the suicide car bombing in afghanistan yesterday that killed american troops there. nbc's atia bowie is in kabul this morning. atia, what's the very latest? >> reporter: hi there, craig. it was a very tragic day for international forces throughout the country yesterday. the biggest attack actually occurred here in kabul, where a car bomber, possibly carrying in his car over 1,500 pounds of explosives, rammed into a nato convoy, primarily hitting an up-armored bus, carrying both service members as well as civilians. in the end, 12 americans, a canadian, and 4 afghans were killed in that attack. but in another incident down south, three australians and their afghan interpreter were actually killed by a man wearing an afghan military uniform who
turned on them, according to the ministry of defense here. they don't know if he was a rogue soldier or he was an insurgent, wearing a military uniform. nonetheless, it was a very, very strategic day for international forces, families, obviously, all over the world, suffering because of yesterday. craig? >> atia, we are approaching the start of november here. does the afghan government expect a surge in attacks in november? >> reporter: well, this is the interesting part of the day that the attacks happened. in a couple of days, they'll have a conference in is ttanbul turkey, with the regional partners and countries surrounding. so the taliban want to make it clear to the international community that no matter how many conferences they have, they're still here and they are still fighting. there are elements in the taliban that the international forces and nato want to talk to, but there are obviously elements in the taliban who have in intention of talking to them.
craig? >> atia abawi from kabul this sunday. thank you. to politics now. 2012, including perry's debate dilemma, gingrich clearing the room, and bachmann's appeal to women. first, though, another win for herman cain. the republican presidential candidate finished first in the west alabama straw poll this weekend, but before the victory came just a crowd full of ron paul supporters in tuscaloosa. and they started booing cain as he talked about fixing the federal reserve. >> the federal reserve, i do not believe that we need to get into the fed, we can fix the fed. that's all i'm going to say about that. are you all going to listen to my speech or not? all i'm asking for is the respect of me to give my comments and my speech. that's all i'm asking for. just be respectful. that's all. >> herman cain in alabama there. meanwhile, a brand-new poll from the "des moines register" shows
herman cain leading among likely gop caucusgoers in iowa. we're going to take a closer look at that particular poll in just a few moments. also, michele bachmann in the middle of a swing through iowa herself, she took to skype saturday to address the south carolina federation of republican women. her focus was squarely on president obama. >> president obama has failed mothers and women in this economy. he's failed families and he's failed businesses on the issue of housing and foreclosures. i want to assure you, i understand this issue, and i will not fail him. >> after saying he was unsure about participating in future gop debates, rick perry says he now plans to take part in at least five more primary debates. they include all of the debates scheduled in november, as well as one on december 1st in arizona. meanwhile, perry's wife, anita, spoke saturday at the national federation of assemblies
convention in des moines, iowa, along with ron paul and rick santorum. also making an appearance on tape from south carolina, newt gingrich. but it's not only clear anyone actually heard gingrich's remarks. listen closely as he's introduced and watch what happens next. >> i would like to spend a few minutes with you at the national republican of [ inaudible ]. i can't imagine a more important election than 2012. i think it's the most important election since 1660, and you have a key role of getting out the message of the strong conservatives -- >> as you can see there, many folks in the crowd deciding to get up and walk out during gingrich's address. here's a look at what the candidates are doing today. michele bachmann will be speaking at a church in marion, iowa. rick santorum also in iowa with several meet and greets scheduled for this afternoon. jon huntsman will host a series of town halls in new hampshire. clintonesque. it's a word that's been heard in washington about president
obama's new initiatives. is his campaign trying to follow the clinton model? we're going to talk about that. plus, ruth madoff tell thing her story on national television tonight. why she's going public now, after all these years of silence. and talk about no respect, the firefighters who got hot under the collar over what happened to them after getting a flu shot. we'll tell you all about that as well. this is "weekends with alex witt." . ♪
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22%, respectively, then tln ron paul and michele bachmann, rick perry and newt gingrich each with 7%. and rick santorum at 5% and jon huntsman at the bottom at 1%. joined now by susan page, the washington bureau chief for "usa today." susan, good sunday to you. >> craig, great to be with you. >> why are cain and romney so far out front at this point? >> romney as a base support. he's been pretty steady as you go. herman cain has been the phenomena in this poll. he came out of nowhere, is now in the lead, and i think the question is, does he hold on to those voters, the socially conservative tea party-type voters, or do they go someplace else. they've already been three plays. they were with bachmann in june, went to rick perry in august. now they're with herman cain. >> they still have jet to get behind mitt romney, though? >> oh, it's clear there are some warning signs for mitt romney in this poll.
he ranks seventh among the candidates among born-again christians. that's an important group in the iowa caucuses, among very conservative voters. so he's had great difficulty, i think, despite debate performances in expanding the base of support he has in iowa. >> there's not been much movement at the back of the pack, since the last des moin"ds register" poll taken in june, but i want to take a look at the top. cain going from 13% support to 23%. that's an increase of ten points, romney's just about the same, and down 1%. ron paul, up 5%. michele bachmann, though, down 14%. that's despite devoting a lot of time and a lot of money to the state. and let's not forget that she won the first major straw poll there in iowa. is michele bachmann done in the hawkeye state? >> you know, one thing you want to look at with this poll is that 75% of likely caucusgoers say they may change their mind.
they say their mind is not firmly made up. it's clear that michele bachmann who is staking her campaign on iowa, the state where she was born, is in a peck of trouble there. she really needs to stage a major comeback. one thing this poll found in the "des moines register," found that voters really think business experience is much more important than government experience. i think that's one of the factors hurting michele bachmann and helping herman cain and mitt romney. >> the media often accused of ignoring ron paul, so let's be sure not to do that. i always hate getting e-mails and tweets from ron paul supporters saying that we're biased. third place finish, what are the implications for mr. paul, if any? >> you know, ron paul really has a clearly fervent base of support. you hear from them when we don't talk about him, so do i. but the question for ron paul, can he get much past this 12%? and the fact is, in states he have not demonstrated an ability, when voters go to the po polls, not in straw polls, but in votes that count. if he does, he'd be a contender. but i think that's one reason we
tend not to talk about him as much as his supporters would like. >> in places like new hampshire and iowa especially, candidates have long-practiced what's called retail politics. they show up, they shake hands, they pick up supporters in person, vote-by-vote. romney has spent just six days in iowa, according to the "des moines register." he's still in a statistical tie for the lead. on the other end of the spectrum, though, you've got guys like gingrich, for instance, newt gingrich spent 42 days in iowa. rick santorum, a whopping 65 days. but they're at the bottom of the heap. why haven't we seen more of a correlation between time spent in iowa and poll numbers? >> well, it may be in some ways, iowa electorate has changed a little bit. herman cain doesn't have much of an organization there. will those voters still go out and support him on a cold january night? i guess we're going to find out. rick santorum, i was out in iowa for three days this week. i spent a day campaigning with rick santorum in places like red
oak, iowa, and glenwood. i think he's trying to play the long game. the idea that if he goes to these places, and on wednesday he'll go to the 99th of iowa's 99 counties, the only presidential candidate to do that this time around. he's hoping that over the long haul, by the time you get to the caucuses, that will pay off for him. but in this poll, at this moment, it hasn't. >> susan page, washington bureau chief, "usa today," thank you. >> thank you, craig. the world's population, getting a whole lot bigger. what could this mean for the planet's resources? we're going to talk about that. also, in the midst of all this growth, how the population of one country is expected to take a dip. and we invite you to catch the premiere of "rock center" with brian williams. it's tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. eastern/9:00 central on your local nbc station. for fastidioun emily skinner, each day was fueled by thorough preparation for events to come.
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let's get right to today's ups and downs. first, there's president obama's increasing talk about his gray hair, calling it an obsession might be going overboard, but "the hill" newspaper, they're keeping a watch on how often the president talks about his gray hair. some firefighters are seeing red after they got ticketed for parking in a tollway zone. they got the fines after going to get mandatory flu shots on duty. the firefighter's lawyer calls the tickets absurd. the mayor of pittsburgh says he's just as upset and promises to rectify the problem. and there's a guy in florida hoping to make some coin off his new business. ladies and gentlemen, it's alligator hugging. he puts a muzzle on his 5-year-old alligator and lets people hold and hug the reptile. >> they're treated well and, you know, they grew up doing this. it's not like something that stresses them or something like that. >> no, of course not.
despite what gator mike says, though, some local animal activists are raising cain and they are planning to protest. and remember just a few year ago when nintendo's wii video game system was all the rage? well, not anymore, apparently. slumping wii sales is one reason that nintendo lost nearly $1 billion in just the last six months. the company hopes a new wii system will help stem the tide of red ink. and those are your ups and downs on "weekends with alex witt." . exclusive to the military. and commitment is not limited to one's military oath. the same set of values that drive our nation's military are the ones we used to build usaa bank. from free checking to credit cards to loans, our commitment to the military, veterans, and their families
we're centurylink... a new kind of broadband company committed to providing honest, personal service from real people... 5-year price-lock guarantees... consistently fast speeds... and more ways to customize your technology. ♪ welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." i'm craig melvin. alex is off today. remnants of that october snowstorm are lingering. residents are waking up to downed power lines and damaged cars from falling trees like these pictures from right here in new york city. here's what you need to know. power is out right now for 3.1 million people, stretching all the way from maryland to massachusetts. new york city and philadelphia airports are working to clear
the backlog of passengers this morning after about 1,000 flights were canceled nationwide because of the storm. in all, three deaths have been blamed on the storm. states of emergencies have been declared in massachusetts, connecticut, new york, and new jersey. let's go live right now to hartford, connecticut, and the weather channel's paul goodloe. paul, 760,000 people without power in connecticut. how are things where you are right now? >> reporter: well, right now things are warming up. and again, that number, craig, it translates to basically six out of every ten homes here in connecticut in the dark and in the cold as well without power, all thanks to things like this. it's a huge maple branch that came down because of all the heavy, wet snow, bringing down power line as well. the wind bringing down some of the snow from this tree. but the snow is still heavy, wet snow, great more making snowmen and snowballs, snowball fights, but horrible for these trues. i'll walk down toward this
corner, and you can take a look down at what happened with all these other trees. there's a huge maple tree, which had a lot of the branches knocked down. that knocked down the power lines and all the homes in this neighborhood now are in the dark. a lot in the cold as well, because there is no power. and this is just one of umpteen neighborhoods, just here in hartford, but also in connecticut as a whole without dealing with power right now. again, record amounts of snow, the record for snow in any day the here in connecticut, in october, 1.7 inches. from this storm alone, at bradley airport just north of here, about 20 minutes or so, 12.3 inches of snow. all-time record for the day, for the month, and for the city as well. and just about 20 minutes to the west of here, bristol, connecticut, home of espn, a lot of folks watching football today, watching a free game show there. 17 inches of snow. so this has definitely shattered records all across the state, not only here in connecticut, but all across southern new
england. and the good news is, yeah, it's sunny and temperatures in the low 40s now, but the cleanup remains and the cleanup from the power crews, well, once we lose the limbs, it might take perhaps five, maybe even seven days to get power restored to residents here in connecticut. >> governor of connecticut said it could be up to a week. thank you, paul goodloe. appreciate that report, sir. we'll check on the forecast coming up at the top of the hour. but we're going to politics now. where the white house is trying to navigate an uneven road toward jump-starting the economy. recent financial indicators are trending better, but unemployment still north of 9%. congress still has not passed any significant part of the president's jobs bill. senior white house adviser david plouffe talked about the gridlock on "meet the press" this morning. >> the president's going to do everything he can, whether it's on housing, student loans, we're going to keep this up. so at the same time, we're going to try to get congress to act on behalf of the middle class and help the american economy. we're going to do everything we can. as the president said, the
american people can't afford to wait and he's not going to wait. >> the jobs bill dead, effectively? >> absolutely not. we'll have a vote in the senate on putting construction workers back to work, rebuild america. >> you can hear the rest of that discussion on "meet the press" today on msnbc at 2:00 p.m. meanwhile, the president's blitz of executive actions on the economy is being regarded as a key part of his new 2012 strategy. joined now by anne kornblut, white house reporter for "the washington post." good sunday to you. >> thanks for having me. >> you say in your article, the white house hates the term "bite-sized initiatives." what message does the white house want to convey with these executive actions? >> well, what we saw last week, everyone noticed was, on one day, talking about mortgage relief. the following day, talking about jobs programs for veterans. the day after that, talking about student loan relief. and on friday, doing initiatives for small business owners to spur hiring. these are all one-by-one steps
that they hope can demonstrate that obama is not going to wait, as david plouffe said in that interview you just showed. they don't want to be see as inactive, the way congress is, and they want to draw a pretty sharp contrast between themselves and congress heading into the re-election. >> you are among those who are now drawing parallels to bill clinton's presidency and the run-up to his re-election in 1996, with what the obama is doing now. is the obama white house making a conscious effort to replicate the clinton model? >> well, they are not ones to ever say that they are consciously replicating the clintons, but there was really no other choice for them. they do have some people on staff who back in the '90s -- after the 1994 midterms when congre president clinton didn't have a congress he could work, he started rolling out initiatives, school uniforms, cell phones for community groups, the v-chip, everyone will remember. so there is a model there. and bruce reid and gene sperling, two key advisers in the clinton white house now work for the obama white house, and
they are both ones who in the past have talked about the importance of acting with the executive branch when the legislature wasn't there for them. >> and one of the other things that these small measures seem to have in common with some of the things, you mentioned school uniforms, of course, a part of the triangulation strategy as well from the mid-'90s, a lot of these initiatives, they don't seem to be all that controversial either. >> well, in the clinton area, they were very centrist and they weren't always economic programs, but i think you're right. and what we're seeing now are not necessarily centrist, they are, in fact, a little more populist, certainly the tone that president obama has taken. but, no, they are not ones that are going to, if some cases, even draw a ton of attention. they're very popular, they test well. people in the states like them, but mostly importantly, they are very relatable thickngs. are very concrete initiatives that people understand, that hit their tax bills, that hit their pocketbooks, and that's why we saw this week so much attention,
especially on the mortgage relief and student loans. everyone, you and i know, have a stake in this. >> former democratic congressman joe sestak, you know, he said that the country doesn't look like it did back in 1996. i want to take a listen to what he said and then talk about it on the other side. take a listen. >> this is not another political season. the dna has changed out there throughout america. this is where americans know we're at a crossroads, and this piecemeal approach, why it's interesting to get you some headlines, what they want to know is you, mr. president, do you, the republican nominee, know me? not that i know you and your policies. >> can the president -- can the '96 magic strike twice with this incremental strategy? >> the wrap may be that it's not enough. we'll find out. essential, it's not some big sweeping bill. none of these is. but the if it's something he can actually do, the white house would argue it's better than
nothing. >> anne kornblut, "washington post." as always, a pleasure. monday, a big milestone for mother earth. that's when the planet's population is expected to hit 7 billion. here's something to give you an idea of just how big that is. if you stand 7 billion people shoulder to shoulder, they'd form a line 4 million miles long. in terms of space travel, that's eight trips to the moon and back. here to talk a little bit more about this staggering figure, professor jack goldstone of the george mason university school of public policy. goldstone, good morning to you, sir. >> good morning, craig. >> give us a sense of the size and the rate here. how fast is our world population growing? >> what's amazing is world population is growing faster than ever. we added 1 billion people in just the last 12 years. it looks like we're going to add another 2 billion by mid-century, and then another billion after that.
now, it's a good thing. it's because people are living longer and more children are surviving, but the numbers do add up quickly. >> well, it's a good thing for some of us. for others, maybe not so much. i want to talk about that in just a moment. let's talk about the population boom. where are these boom centers? which continents and areas are going to be seeing the largest numbers of people? >> the biggest boom is going to be in africa. africa is expected to grow from about 1 billion people today to over 3 billion by the end of this century. at that point, well over one out of three people in the world will be someone living in sub-saharan africa. that's a huge change from today, when it's about one in six, one in seven. >> what could that potentially mean in terms of resources on that continent, specifically? >> well, again, as you said, it could be a good thing, because it means we have billions of young people who are eager to get an education, who are eager to work, and we have a continent
that actually has a lot of land that's not yet irrigated or farmed to maximum output. so africa could be the boom continent of the future. the question is, will they get the investment, will they get the education to turn those young people into productive adults. >> do we have enough clean water and access to it? and do we have enough food and access to it so feed 7 billion people on this earth? >> well, it's not so much a question of what we have, it's a question of, who has access to it? as you may have heard, there's a lot of food in the world, so much so that obesity is becoming a problem, even in a lot of developing countries. cities in china, cities in mexico. at the same time, there are people starving in the horn of africa. so we have a distribution problem. it's the same thing with water. the human race uses a lot of water and a lot of that, frankly, is wasted.
a lot of water that is just allowed to run off, a lot of water that is used for washing, cleaning, could easily be recycled for agriculture. so we have to learn how to live better and more efficiently. but the world has a lot of water out there. we just need to be better at using it. >> another big surprise here, china's population as well. i find this to be a bit startling. it's going to peak and then drop off by 450 million by the end of century, i understand. why is that? >> that's right. those are the united nations' projections. china went through a period where they were really concerned about population growth. and so they urged, and in some cases, forced people to have no more than one child per family. well, if you only have one child for every two adults, the population is going to decline. and that's going to start hitting about ten years from now. so whereas today, there are about four chinese for every american, by the end of the century, that should drop to just two chinese to every american.
so china's not going to take over the world. they're going to be facing a decline after about 2025. >> kind of like what we've seen in japan as well. >> that's right. >> jack goldstein, any idea where this 7 billionth person, any idea of which country? >> it's impossible for me to say, but the odds are it would either be in india or some place in sub-saharan africa. >> it would be great if a child here could have that honor, but you're right, i guess the odds are against it. >> odds are against it. sorry. >> jack, appreciate it, and have a great sunday. >> pleasure to be here. the madoff family members and their side of the story. does america even want to listen to what they have to say? that story in our next hour. first, though, the amazing new health claims about ordinary old aspirin. this is "weekends with alex witt." tle emotional hetlretl?tl
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police and occupy wall street protesters across the country overnight. in denver, colorado, officers in riot gear moved into a park where demonstrators were trying to set up a camp. more than a dozen protesters were arrested. meanwhile, in portland, oregon, arrests at a similar protest. also, there were arrests in nashville, tennessee. well, they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an aspirin a day may do more than that. new research suggesting that a daily dose could cut colon cancer risks by 60% in people who are genetically predisposed to it. and that's just one of many amazing claims about this age-old pain reliever. joining me now, live to talk about it from cleveland is dr. stan gersen of the simon cancer center at university hospital's case medical center. good morning, sir. >> good morning, craig. >> thanks for joining us. so for decades we've known that aspirin was used as a way of relieving headaches and muscle pain. now we're hearing that it can combat cancer. how does it work in that
respect? >> well, you know, the good news is we know precisely how aspirin works. and in this case, it cuts down on a genetic abnormality that's actually very common in many patients who have colon cancer, and especially those with an inherited disorder that predisposes them to colon cancer. >> who should be taking aspirin, as a result? >> well, i think this is such a central cause of colon cancer that i actually advise my patients over the age of about 45 to take one or two aspirin a day and this study shows that that reduced the risk of colon cancer, and to a lesser extent, endometr endometrial cancer. >> this is men and women? >> men and women. >> and it also works as an antiant anticoagulant. people say it's a good home remedy for everything from toenail fungus to a ring around
your bathtub. what's in aspirin itself that makes it so effective? >> there's a very common pathway in all of this. it's the single function of aspirin that's common throughout all these different mechanisms. it blocks the production of a prostaglandyn, and that's the major switch that allows all these bad things from happening. >> do we think that over the next few years, we're going to discover that aspirin can to even more? or at the point, do we think we've probably figured out all that aspirin can do? >> well, i think those home remedies actually give us the leads, and what we're finding is it's a very common mechanism. so that aspirin is effective in all those areas. >> dr., thank you so much for your time. dr. stan gerson on joys and wonders of aspirin this sunday morning. thank you, sir. >> thank you. ruth madoff breaking her silence about the massive uppon scheme that her husband ran. why she's speaking out now and
could this help change the perception about her family. that story in our next hour on "weekends with alex witt." so i was the guy who was never going to have the heart attack. i thought i was invincible. i'm on an aspirin regimen now because i never want to feel that helplessness again. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. talk to your doctor, and take care of what you have to take care of. [ woman announcing ]bsite there's an easier way.tor, create your own small-business site...
ten years ago this month, the anthrax scare was gripping the nation with the horror of 9/11 still fresh in everyone's mind. the mysterious white powder started turning up in the mail. by the time it was over, five people were dead. another 17 were infected. but a decade later, "the new york times" is taking a revealing look at just how prepared we are today for a bioterrorism attack in this country and the answers are both eye-opening and sobering as well. joining me now to talk about it, the author of that article, "gq" writer and contributing writer for "the new york times," lauren hilton. ten years later, how scared should we be? >> it depends on who you ask,
but over the last ten years, we've tried very hard as a country to develop a stockpile of medical countermeasures, vaccines and drugs to counteract biological weapons. and many of the goals we set ten years ago, we have not reached. and in some cases, we don't expect to reach them. >> goals like -- what are some of the goals we have not reached? >> we've been trying for ten years to develop a new vaccine for anthrax. after the attacks in 2001, we started stockpiling the one vaccine that we did know how to make, but there are a lot of problems with it. there are questions about its safety. a lot of soldiers have refused to take it and blame it for gulf war syndrome, which is backed up, at least in part, by some research at tulane university. it also takes 18 months for that vaccine to take effect and has questionable use in an emergency because of that time lapse. yet we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to develop a new vaccine, it's gotten embroiled in a lot of
political battles and lobbying and it's still not ready and it won't be ready anytime soon. >> we know that not all bioterror attacks are the same. which kinds are the real threat right now, threats that we should really worry about? >> you know, there's a list of potential biological weapons that is cure rate ecurated by t department of homeland security. it depends on how you count things like bottle yulism, whet you count the toxin itself as an organism is questionable. but within that eight or ten, there's really only four or five that almost everybody agrees on. those are smallpox, anthrax, plague, and there are a couple of others that are sort of on the fence there. >> you give an example in your article of how a biological attack might look here in this country by describing a national security exercise that took place back in 2001 called dark
winter. not surprisinglsurprisingly, wew unprepared we really were back then. how much have we improved since then? >> well, so for dark winter, specifically, they were simulating the effects of a smallbox attack, and smallpox is a very interesting case, in part because the virus itself is extremely limited in its accessibility. and so the only way terrorist cells would be able to get smallpox is either by synthesizing, which is extremely difficult to do, or by getting loose smallpox in the same way they might acquire loose nukes from us, from an old soviet lab. so for smallpox itself, the threat is somewhat different than other biological weapons, which are available in nature. and we do have that one in the stockpile. it is unique in that regard. smallpox is one of the only -- in fact, it is the only potential biological weapon for which most people in the biodefense community feel we are prepared. >> you also write about project
bioshield, it's a program run by the department of health and human services. is this a program that's doing a great deal to help so far? >> this is a program in which almost everybody who works there now and almost everybody who's worked in the project bioshield effort over the last ten years feels that it's failing in at least some way. now, they don't agree on how it's failing or how it should be organized, and three a tremendous absence of coherent policy on how to proceed, but almost no one, including the people who are running the agencies that use project bioshield funds today believes it's working as it can be. >> if you were a betting man, wyl, where would you say we are ten years from now in terms of our preparation? >> i would say that there is already taking place a fourth major reorganization of biodefense, and if we look at the last ten years and we see the other three major reorganizations, i would say that we're going to have to continually rethink this and figure out how high of a priority it should be, whether
the $16 billion we've already spent on countermeasures is enough or too much, and if we are going to continue spending that kind of money, how we organize the effort. >> wil hylton, thank you very much for your time this morning. more on the surprise snowstorm that dumped 3 feet of snow and left millions without power in the northeast. also, talking politics, could mitt romney be the next michael dukakis. more criticism about the presidential contender this morning here on "weekends with alex witt." [ sniffs ] i have a cold. [ sniffs ] i took dayquil
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snow monster in the northeast. the pre-halloween nightmare takes a deadly toll and knocks out power to millions. live report, straight ahead. also, shifting strategy. why the u.s. military presence in the persian gulf may be built up after u.s. troops leave iraq later this year. and it's neck and neck. cain and romney come out one/two
in a new battleground state. is the gop presidential chase becoming a two-man race? and up for debate? rick perry decides on his debating future. will he or won't he? good sunday to you. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." i'm craig melvin filling in for alex this morning. here's what's happening right now. the remnants of that huge october snowstorm still wreaking havoc across parts of the northeast. it hit fast and it hit hard and unexpectedly in many parts. here's the very latest. at least three deaths are being blamed on the storm. one each in massachusetts, connecticut, and pennsylvania. right now, utility companies are calling in workers from other states to help get the power back on after electricity was cut off to about 3.1 million people. meanwhile, airlines in philadelphia and new york city are working to get stranded passengers on their way this morning. airports in those cities hit especially hard. the storm led to 1,000 canceled flights nationwide.
this morning here in new york, the cleanup in full swing after the record october snowfall. only the fourth time in recordkeeping history there's even within snow in october. nbc's ron allen is in new york central park this morning. ron, good morning to you, sir. >> reporter: good morning, craig. there's the sound of chainsaws and chippers all over the northeast. these guys behind us have been hard at work for the past couple of hours, trying to clear this mess on the edge of central park. at one point, the park was not really closed, but they were asking people not to go in there, because there were so many trees that were in danger of falling or limbs falling off them, at least. this area got about 3 inches of snow, which is a record. the most in about 135 years. here's what it all looked like. yale and columbia's football teams had an instant classic. they called it snow bowl. >> are your parents watching? >> reporter: plows in the field at time-outs so the field
wouldn't disappear. things looked pretty weird and very wintry everywhere, with ghosts and goblins covered in snow. while people stocked up on shovels and salt, along with candy and things for trick-or-treaters. >> my daughter's not going to be happy. a white halloween? i don't think i've ever experienced one, honestly. >> it's a mad rush of people -- we sell shovels. it's amazing how many shovels we've sold. >> reporter: the storm stretched from maine to maryland and left a trail of destruction. the unusual combination of heavy, wet snow falling on still-leafy trees brought countless limbs and power lines down. >> yeah, it broke off. snapped here, snapped again. i'm worried about the power lines. >> reporter: this woman narrowly escaped a falling tree that hit her car. the tree fell on you while you were moving? >> correct. >> reporter: and so you got out by crawling through the passenger door? >> yeah. >> reporter: so much so it sparked this passionate debate.
>> it's much too early. i'm not ready. >> actually, i love it. i'm ready for it. >> reporter: at least 2 million homes were without power in pennsylvania, new york, new jersey, and connecticut. passengers waited for up to six hours for flights from new york's airports. that's if the flight wasn't among hundreds canceled. a jetblue flight from florida to newark was diverted to bradley airport in connecticut, where it was grounded for seven hours with no food, water, or bathroom available. >> it almost came to fisticuffs on the plane. >> reporter: jetblue apologized, citing weather and infrastructure issues. these first-time visitors to new york from texas had seen enough. wouldn't you rather be in 80-degree el paso? >> i think so. i think so. >> reporter: and downtown in the financial district, the protesters vowing to stay and occupy wall street got their first real taste of what may be one of their toughest challenges -- winter. >> i don't know if i will be
able to stay for the entire winter. but i know that there are people that most definitely will. >> reporter: back here live now, the protesters and police in many cities are going to be battling that out as the weeks and months come ahead, as the protesters vow to stay there. these guys, again, are going to be out here for a while, because everywhere you look, beyond the city, out in the suburbs, there are trees, roads blocked, power lines down. and the temperatures are quite chilly. it's about 35 degrees. it feels like just yesterday we were talking about how warm it was and how summer was hanging on and how much rain we were having. so things change. but, again, craig, the cold weather, of course, is going to be a big problem for people who don't have power. and in some places, they're talking about no power for several days. >> ron allen in central park. thank you, sir. appreciate that. today, the big snowstorm is slowly moving out of new england. the weather channel's jeff morrow has details on that. >> craig, it was a snowstorm of
epic proportions for any time of the year. not just here in october, it set all kinds of records, but this would be an impressive snowstorm either in january or february. not so much in the big cities. d.c. didn't see that much, nor did philadelphia. in new york city, about 3 inches. but boy, head just to the north and west of some of the major cities and you got into impressive snowfall totals. 9 in scranton. 19 out there in west milford. and 27.8. that's the highest i've seen in western massachusetts. worcester picking up about 11. that foot of snow in hartford broke a long-standing october record, which was only about an inch or so. it had never snowed that much before in the hartford area in october. but that storm is now the departing, a little bit of leftover snow early today in maine, and that's about it. sunshine will return. it will be windy and cold, though, in the northeast. and then we have another system dropping into the plains with a little bit of light rain, but
beautiful weather from st. louis on south, from this last sunday in october. and a little bit of rain in the pacific northwest. nothing heavy, but beautiful weather, reno to l.a. phoenix, the hot spot at 91 degrees. but that storm, it's out of here, and good riddance. cra craig? >> jeff morrow, thank you. we'll get another live report in a few minutes from the weather channel's jim cantore, who's in harrisburg, pennsylvania. for the latest on all things weather, go to weather.com. new this morning, "the new york times" is reporting that the obama administration plans to send more troops to the persian gulf to maintain a presence in that region after the united states withdraws from iraq. nbc's mike viqueira live at the white house on this sunday morning. mike, what's the word on this report? >> reporter: well, you know, it's a fascinating report. you remember last week, craig, when the president suddenly appeared in the briefing room one afternoon and he said, we're going to be withdrawing all of our troops from iraq by the end of this year. in some sense, that wasn't a
surprise. the president had been mentioning that time and time again, even at fund-raisers, it was an applause line. he says, we're moving all of our troops out of iraq. i pledge to do that by the end of 2011,time going to accomplish that. what was new was there were negotiations with the iraqi government to leave sort of a residual force, some 5,000 was one number mentioned. other people mentioned 10,000, to try to hold iraqi society together while the army there and defense forces within iraq are able to stand up on its feet, and reason iraqi generals are quoted this morning as saying, that could be years away. and also, to keep the influence of iran at bay, the huge country next to iraq, iraq is already, of course, fought a war with that country within the last 20 years or so. now we're talking about an over the horizon force, as reported in "the new york times." more troops in neighboring kuwait, of course, just to the south of iraq, and working with the gulf cooperation counsel, this is a consortium, sort of a group within the persian gulf, it includes saudi arabia,
bahrain, qatar, the united arab emirates, to try to come together to position forces around iraq, while not in iraq, to try to keep that country together, try to hold off the influence of iran within iraq, once american troops leave, craig. >> it is a fascinating report. mike viqueira from the white house on this sunday morning. mike, thank you. there's a lot going on this weekend on the campaign trail on the race to 2012. first to herman cain, who took the first place ribbon in the western alabama straw poll yesterday. cain talking to a crowd in tuscaloosa. in the crowd, many ron paul supporters. and they booed cain. they booed him when he started talking about fixing the federal reserve. >> the federal reserve, i do not believe that we need to end the fed. we can fix the fed. that's all i'm going to say about that. are you all going to let me give me speech or not? all i'm asking for is the respect of me to give my
comments and my speech. that's all i'm asking for. b ju just be respectful. that's all. >> cain getting booed in alabama, but he did manage to nab the top spot in a new "des moines register" poll among likely gop caucusgoers in iowa, coming in at 23%. mitt romney not far behind in that poll at 22%. ron paul coming in third at about 12%. meanwhile, michele bachmann spending the weekend with voters in iowa as well. she addressed a group of republican women in south carolina via skype saturday, taking aim at president obama. >> president obama has failed mothers and women in this economy. he's failed families. and he's failed businesses on the issue of housing and foreclosures. i want to assure you, i understand this issue. and i will not fail them. >> meanwhile, rick perry says he's made up his mind. the texas governor says he will participate in at least five more gop debates.
they include all primary debates next month and one in december as well. and new this morning, perry defending how his flat tax plan will create jobs. >> everybody gets a tax cut. >> the rich get a much bigger tax cut. >> and historically, those who have money put more into their businesses. they hire more people. that's what we need to be focused on. how do you give incentives to the job creators in this country so that those 14 million people that don't have jobs out there have a shot at having the dignity to take care of their family. >> meanwhile, perry had no scheduled events this weekend. his wife, anita, did speak at the national federation of republicans assembly convention in des moines, iowa. ron paul and rick santorum also addressed that crowd. newt gingrich made an appearance as well, but did so from south carolina on tape. but not everyone paid attention. aft after mr. gingrich was
introduced, take a look. >> thank you for allowing me to spend a few minutes with you. i can't imagine a more important election than 2012. i think it's the most important election since 1916. and you have a key role in getting out of the message of the strong conservatives. >> as you can see there, many folks in the audience simply got up and walked out as gingrich spoke on tape there. candidates with scheduled events today include michele bachmann and rick santorum in iowa and jon huntsman will appear at town halls in new hampshire. still ahead this morning, counting cash. why the nation's coffers hardly compare with what apple's got in the bank. plus, it is an october to remember on wall street, though. but when will better days return to main street? we're going to talk about that in the spirit of the holiday. we'll have the list for best cities for trick-or-treating. stay with us. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." . ♪
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in the light of day, it may seem worse than it first appeared last night. that nasty snowstorm that unleashed chaos across the northeast this morning. more than 3 million people don't have power. lines and trees are down, making it extremely difficult to get out there and drive as well in many places. some areas got more than 2 feet of snow. because of the track of the snowstorm, one of the hardest hit areas, pennsylvania. the weather channel's jim cantore is in harrisburg, pennsylvania, this morning. jim, good morning to you, first of all. how it's it going now?
>> reporter: i've never done this before in a snowstorm, i got a chance to pull off the big, heavy jacket. but the sun is nice and wonderful, it's beautiful and it's doing a job on melting some of this snow and the air is dry we are sob the little breeze that comes along is helping to dry out the roads. that's here in harrisburg where we only had 5 inches. off to the west in some of the hills, it's up to a foot. you can see the beautiful state capital here in harrisburg. this is probably one of the nicest state capitols i've ever seen. that snow is melting quickly. here's why this was such a big problem, craig, for pennsylvania. let's pan around and look at these oak trees, which are still green. you can see them behind me here. this is the situation. people had to use their snow shovels before their rakes, if you can imagine that. before even the first frost, we got right into the snow in through here. so so much for frost on the pumpkin. but the 5 inches that we had here, by the way, which is a new october record for harrisburg, has now compacted to about 1 inch of slush and it's melting
fast, especially in these sun areas here, as temperatures are now rising into the 40s. here's the situation on power. 325,000 still without power statewide for pennsylvania. peco says this is the worst they've ever had. don't expect this power to return in a day or even two. it could be as much as three to five days before we get everybody back online. same situation all the way up into new england. >> especially in connecticut as well. jim, before you get out of here, really quickly here, a lot of folks worried, a lot of folks wondering that what we saw yesterday is just a sign of what's to come this winter? what do we know about how brutal this winter might be? >> reporter: there was actually a study done from the national weather service, i believe, one of the forecasters, there's no correlation, thank goodness, that we can say, hey, we've got a big winter coming up because of this october blast. but what this does do is put an exclamation point on 2011. think about it. the drought, the tornado
outbreaks. the hurricanes and tropical storms across the northeast. and of course, the tremendous amount of excessive rainfall and flooding along the mississippi and the missouri rivers. another extreme event in a year of extremes. >> jim cantore, at least you ended on some good news there. thank you, sir. appreciate that. on to politics now. republican presidential contender mitt romney takes on some criticism this weekend. this time from conservative columnist george will. will writing, "republicans may have found their michael dukakis, a technocratic massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from data. has conserve tom come so far, surmounting so many obstacles to settle at a moment of economic crisis for this?" joining me from boston, glenn johnston, a political editor for the "boston globe's" website. glenn, good morning to you, sir. you've covered massachusetts politics for more than 20 years. you've covered mitt romney as
governor, his presidential campaigns, both of them. what's your take on what george will said about mitt romney in his column? >> i'm not sure who's going to be more insulted by that line, whether it's michael dukakis or mitt romney. on a surface level, yes, you can make the comparison between the two that they are both sort of in the weeds, in the ledger kind of leaders. it's an easy comparison to paycheck, but they are quite different personalities. >> how so? how are they different? besides the obvious -- obviously, politically, but besides that? >> well, you know, michael dukakis was a pretty consistent character, all the way through his time in public office here. and i think the rap that you're hearing from george will and other people about mitt romney is, he's been several different kind of characters as he's gone through his political campaigns, his governorship, and now this second campaign, running for president. >> glenn, you wrote earlier this week, you wrote that mitt romney, quote, mitt romney has
given fresh life to the longtime political complaint that he lacks a core. if there is a knock that romney gets, and there's a lot of knocks, obviously, that he gets, but that's probably the most common knock that he gets. what, if anything, can he do at this point to undo that perception? or is there anything he can do? >> i don't know. i mean, i've written that same type of piece several times now. not because, you know, he doesn't keep giving us fresh material to do it. just last week, he went to ohio. he went to a phone bank where they were making calls, trying to encourage people to vote on ballot questions, and then came out of that session and was asked about the two ballot questions that the phone bankers were encouraging people to vote on and he said he had no opinion. now, that conflicts completely with something that he had said in june where he wrote on his facebook page that he supported one of the ballot questions. and that kind of thing, over the course of a campaign, and as people are just getting to know him and think of him as presidential timbre, can be very
damaging to a candidate. it was very damaging to another massachusetts candidate, john kerry in 2004. >> romney in '08, romney now. you covered him there, you're covering him now. how are the campaigns and how is the candidate himself different four years later? >> well, on the surface, you see two very different campaigns. in 2008, you were rare to see him without a business suit on. now it's rare to see him with a tie on. his campaign has made a very deliberate decision here to run a loser, you know, less structured campaign. still very, you know, very focused, very business like, but to try and roll with it a little better. not to over-prepare for debates. to go in with a little more free will and preparation. it's been evident on the trail. he's done a much better job this time around. >> there was a piece this morning, before i let you out of here, really quickly, there was a piece this morning, a sunday morning political show host
criticized romney for not appear on his show and he noted that mr. romney has not appeared on any of the sunday morning shows since the spring of 2010. why does the man who wants to be president, at this point, why is he refusing to sit down? >> well, unlike 2008, where he would go on anything, if you held up a video camera in front of him, he would talk to you, he realizes both the power of the medium and also that he is very much trying to control his message. in a sense, he's almost created a new reality for himself. he's not governor anymore. he's not making official decisions. he has the freedom to write a book and talk about not what he did, but what he's going to do. he has a chance to convey his thoughts through op-eds. he can pick when and where he wants to speak to the media, and that's been a very deliberate strategy, all designed to control his message. >> glen johnson, "boston globe," thank you. >> you're welcome. now to this item about the continuing success story of apple. in its latest filing with the
government, apple reported cash reserves, reserves toting $81.5 billion. that's about $30 billion more than the government has socked away in the bank right now, you should know. so the question is, does that say more about apple's billions in business or washington's fiscal woes? stay with us. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." when you have diabetes... your doctor will say get smart about your weight. i tried weight loss plans... but their shakes aren't always made for people with diabetes. that's why there's new glucerna hunger smart shakes. they have carb steady, with carbs that digest slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes. and they have 6 grams of sugars. with 15 grams of protein to help manage hunger... look who's getting smart about her weight. [ male announcer ] new glucerna hunger smart. a smart way to help manage hunger and diabetes.
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whi whitesboro, new york, when a natural gas explosion destroyed her home. people as far as five miles away reported feeling that blast. crews are investigating whether a natural gas smell in the air before that explosion is connected to that deadly accident. still ahead, today's big three. cain and romney. do results from that new poll in iowa indicate how the gop race will be shaping up? we'll talk about that. you're watching "weekending with alex witt." olon health probiotic cap a day helps defends against occasional constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. with three strains of good bacteria to help balance your colon. you had me at "probiotic." [ female announcer ] phillips' colon health. the new spark card from capital one. spark miles gives me the most rewards of any small business credit card. the spark card earns double miles... so we really had to up our game. with spark, the boss earns double miles on every purchase, every day. that's setting the bar pretty high. owning my own business has never been more rewarding. coming through!
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deborah kinney founded the harlem village academies to create a new approach to education reform through a strategy of schools designed for teachers. >> most schools would not be allowed to do what we do. >> kinney believes in social justice through education. her passion has paid off. her organization has received the new york state education department's high performing designation. this msnbc "profile in progress" is brought to you by capella university.
♪ with the lowest national plan premium... ♪ ...and copays as low as one dollar... ♪ ...saving on medicare prescriptions is easy. ♪ so you're free to focus on the things that really matter. call humana at 1-800-808-4003. or go to walmart.com for details. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." i'm craig melvin. alex is off this morning. the madoff family back in the media, starting a media blitz of sorts. ruth madoff will join their son, andrew, and his wife, tomorrow on the "today" show to talk about a new book on the family's story. the widow of mark madoff, bernie madoff's son who killed himself, also has a new book that's coming out. bernie madoff just did a jailhouse interview with barbara
walters while ruth and andrew appeared on "60 minutes" tonight. and ruth also did an extensive interview with "the new york times" that will run later this evening on "the times" website. joining me now, the author of that article, diana henriquez, author of "the wizard of lies" as well. good morning to you. >> good morning, craig. >> you led the paper's coverage of the madoff story, since it broke. you know this family better than most. is this merely a publicity blitz, an attempt by the madoffs to sort of get focus to change their perception of them? >> i don't think it's as much an attempt to change the narrative as it is an attempt for them to enter the narrative. madoff has spoken. he spoke to me, to barbara. but the madoff family has been kept under wraps from the beginning, so this is finally a chance for them to at least enlarge the story, to enlarge the conversation. >> is it about money at all, do you think, as well?
i mean, will they make a handsome sum from all of this? >> i only know about some details of the book arrangements. certainly, stephanie, mark's widow, would expect to profit from the book. authors do, you know? i do not believe that ruth or andrew have any financial stake in the book that's coming out on monday about their story. >> could it at all change the perception? do we think that this could do fig to change the perception of the madoff family? >> it may change the perception of the madoff family. it's clearly not going to change anyone's perception of bernie madoff himself. they clearly feel as viciously betrayed by him as all their victims do. >> you were the first reporter to visit bernie madoff in prison, see him face to face-to-face. barbara walters just interviewed him recently. madoff said he was more troubled by the turmoil in his own family than the lives he shattered by bilking clients out of millions. is bernie madoff apologetic at all about what he did? >> he lies to himself as easy as he lies to the rest of us.
>> still? >> and clearly he's telling himself, he didn't the hurt any really truly vulnerable people. craig, that's patently untrue. he destroyed lives all over the planet, besides his own family's life. so i don't think that he has truly has addressed what he's done to everybody else. guilty about his own family? obviously. but about the damage he did more widely, i don't think he's addressed it. >> and he still doesn't sound like he's come to grips with the, just the scope and size of the scheme itself? >> no. he still is so focused on the notion that it's all about the arrhythmithmeti arithmetic. and as you know, craig, there were suicides among his victims along before his own son mark's life was claimed by suicide. you can't put these disasters back together with money, and that's what he doesn't seem to get. >> the wounds from the victims and the general public's impressions still very raw. is it too early for the madoff family to even be coming out? to give their versions of what
happened? >> good question. and my gut tells me it may be. it may be. but, you know, as an amateur historian of the scandal, i'm frankly grateful that we're hearing from voices that we haven't heard from before, but it may be too soon. >> what, so far, have you heard that surprised you most? >> well, obviously, ruth's revelations about the failed suicide attempt that were released this week. i think that puts a whole new light on an incident that i do describe in my book about the christmas presents being mailed out on christmas eve. my assumption was that ruth and bernie just didn't quite yet grasp that they didn't own these things anymore. ruth's story now puts a completely new cast on that. they didn't, clearly, think about the legal ramifications of what they'd done, because they didn't expect to be around to deal with the legal ramifications. so that's one example of how hearing from these voices will add to what we thought we already knew about this remarkable crime.
>> do you believe ruth madoff? >> i do. i do believe her. because i don't see any reason why she would concoct a story like this. >> diana henriques, it should be a fascinating piece, "new york times" website, tonight, right? >> tonight at 9:00. >> thank you so much. always appreciate you. >> thank you. >> a quick reminder, you can watch matt lauer's live exclusive interview with ruth madoff, son andrew, and his fiancee tomorrow on "today." turning to politics now. where autumn has things heating up in the gop presidential race in a big way. a new poll in the key early state of iowa has mitt romney and herman cain engaged in a tight duel at the top. according to the latest survey from the "des moines register," the cain train has pulled out to a narrow 1% lead with 23% of republican caucusgoers polled. behind them, ron paul, 12%. michele bachmann, 8%. nbc campaign embed alex inmow in des moines on the very latest
for the race for the hawkeye state. alex, good morning to you. >> reporter: hi, craig, how are you? >> how is cain pulling ahead in iowa with reportedly spending so little time and money in that state? >> actually, both herman cain and mitt romney have spent the least amount of time in the hawkeye state compared to any other candidates. there's two big events coming up this week in iowa where neither romney nor cain will be attending. so this poll is showing this trend that maybe iowans are looking for that business man, a ceo to run the country rather than a politician. whereas some of the other candidates, bachmann, rick santorum, they're spending lots and lots of time in iowa, but not seeing that traction that cain and romney are seeing. >> michele bachmann and rick perry slipped in a big way in that state. has cain's surge been at their expense? >> reporter: well, the last time this poll came out, actually, rick perry, we weren't even sure if he was getting in or not. michele bachmann announced two days after the june poll came out.
so it does appear, you know, that maybe perry getting in didn't have as much of an effect that we thought that would happen. cain obviously has been leading in a lot of the national polls, and this new poll in iowa of likely caucusgoers is showing that same trend, that he's still resonating. that business message is still resonating with voters. >> alex moe in des moines, iowa, for us, this morning. thank you, alex. >> reporter: thanks, craig. we'll get the latest readings on the economy this week. on tuesday, we'll find out how many cars and trucks were sold in october. -outmakers hoping to repeat the success of september, when sales gained 10% over a year ago. the nation's unemployment picture may become clearer in a thursday report on first-time claims for unemployment benefits and friday's release of the unemployment rate for october. the u.s. economy might be back on track of the latest numbers out this week. gross domestic product up 2.5%
from the same quarter last year, which signals a double-dip recession is not likely. for the month, the dow up 12%, but unemployment still stubbornly stuck at 9.1%. joining me now, economist robert bruska, a fact and opinions economist. is the economy on an upswing or is it too early to tell? >> probably too early to tell, but it looks like we have picked up from that lull we had in the early part of the year and from the summer lull that was registered. i think there's some reason for optimism, but the consumer still does not think he's in very good shape. and that's a problem. >> what -- how will we be able to tell that the economy is in full recovery mode? and by that i mean, what measures should we be looking at? should it be unemployment? is that the figure we should be using to gauge it or what? >> most importantly, we'll be able to look at the mirror and the guy staring back at us and
say, hey, he's got a job. >> and he'll be able to keep the job. >> you need to see the job numbers and proof. you need to start unemployment rates start to go down. we need to see steadier increases in consumer spending. we'd certainly like to see something going on in the housing sector. housing is a big problem. and the obama administration announced something on the housing front. and there's another deal pending to try to do something for the non-fannie mae loans to perhaps help housing a little bit. >> this week the white house announcing a new mortgage refinancing program. also, a new proposal to match student loan programs. are these things, these piecemeal things, are they going to do anything to really help the economy? anything to really create jobs? >> well, the image is like a guy trying to light a fire with two pieces of rocks and the rain around him. the sparks might catch, but this isn't enough, you know? you need a little bit more than this. it's about -- it's long overdue, to do something like this to
help housing. but if you're able to refinance your house and reduce your mortgage rate, it helps you, but if you don't have a job, it doesn't help you enough. >> unemployment, 9.1%. it's been there for months now. what is it going to take for the government to do something to create jobs? and, what can the government realistically do to create jobs? >> i think there are things we can do. i think that one of the problems is, you know, you've got economists, you've got the republican economist, the democrat economist, and totally different things they want to do and things they refuse to do. i think what you look at the profession looks at as a whole, there is a consensus, and i think the fed chairman has represented that by saying is what we need is some near-term spending to try to jolt the economy into recovery, and take care of the budget deficits longer term. we need to do something to reduce those spending amounts. we've got to cut back on the social security payments and on the medicare/medicaid problems. if we don't, the government
sector just going to get to be gigantic in the future. we can't have that. the democrats don't want to give any ground, the republicans only want austerity in the short-term. an rorexi rex ya is no way to g yourself looking like arnold schwarzenegger. there will be no rick perry appearance at debates after all, but have the reports themselves hurt him? stay with us. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." i'd like one of those desserts and some coffee.
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well, our poll of the week takes on a halloween flavor, of course. new rasmussen reports national telephone survey asked people if they believed in ghosts. how many folks do you think said yes? try 31%. 31% said they believe in ghosts. twice as many, 62% said they do not. then you've got the handful of folks who say they are not sure.
time now for today's big three panel. three topics, three talkers, and today we are looking at a gop identity crisis, a new 2012 strategy for the president, and a check of the calendar with republicans in early primary states gearing up to cast their votes. joined now by msnbc political analyst and democratic strategist, karen finney. "washington post" white house reporter, anne kornblut joining back to join us for a little bit more, and republican strategist rich galen, who once worked for the house speaker. rich, thank you so much for being here. >> great. nice to be with all of you. >> let's start with the big news from the gop field, folks. the new iowa poll that shows that cain and romney are in a virtual tie in the top. karen, these are two very different candidates. the least political of the bunch and one of the most establishment guys, what does that say about the gop at this point? >> you know, i think it says that what the gop would like to have is somebody who's maybe somewhere in the middle.
i mean, clearly we've seen this trend playing itself out over the last several weeks and months. and that is that there is a lot of dissatisfaction within the gop primary voters. romney has pretty much stayed at about the same place, and we've had sort of others come and go. and i think cain's ability, frankly, in part to move up so quickly shows people are still looking for that right one. >> rich, at what point do they stop looking? at what point do republican gop voters say, you know what, this is our guy? or this is our woman? >> let's take iowa as an example. recent history shows us that this poll, the october poll, is not at all dispositive, not nearly as much at the november poll and the december poll comes out a few days ahead of the caucuses, so that's fairly reflective. but four years ago, this was the last poll that really kind of still had the jumbled mess. by november, republicans and democrats for that matter started sorting themselves out.
we forget that four years ago, hillary and barack obama and john edwards were all clumped together in the mid- to high 20s for the most part, and you had that same kind of jumble going on on the republican side. so to say that everybody's confused, i don't think they've paid attention enough yet and haven't made up their windminds. >> anne, is there a takeaway from this poll, any good news for the president? >> there might be some slight rays of hope in there. there's some -- older people say that they are not as enthusiastic about the field as they sometimes have been in the past. but i think the big picture takeaway for the white house is that m arepublican are undecide and as you said at the top of the segment, are very conflicted about what kind of candidate they want. there's a lot of hashing that goes on on the republican side. that leaves time for the president to just act presidential, not seem like he's quite in campaign mode the way that republicans are, and that's good for them.
>> there was a poll about six weeks ago, i think it was a cnn poll, that polled republicans that were pro and not pro -- not anti -- pro and not pro-tea party, and they asked, notwithstanding the ideology, are you more or less likely to vote for a candidate who can defeat barack obama? that won 80/20 among tea party members. >> rich, karen, let me come back to you really quickly here. iowa, the first contest in 2012. that new "register" poll making it look like a romney/cain race. what variables could change that equation? >> time and money. how these candidates spend the money that they have, whether that is building infrastructure and sort of get-out-the-vote activities in those states, and time. and we are still a long way away. it may not feel like it, given the daily crush of news about the calendar and about this context, but there is plenty of time for a candidate to have a breakaway moment or there is
plenty of time, as we've seen already, for these candidates to make some major blunders that actually, again, help that helpy voters decide. i don't think that i see a president in that person and think i will go with this person. and subsaw quent polls show that americans are 99% of the occupy wall street movement in that message than in the tea party. >> i agree, karen. >> in a moment, the big three panels, must-reads of the day. don't go anywhere, guys. we have a little time left here. [ man ] i got this citi thank you card and started earning loads of points. you got a weather balloon with points? yes, i did. [ man ] points i could use for just about anything. ♪ keep on going in this direction. take this bridge over here.
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to mow what you guys read every day and every week as well. ann, what is your must-read on this sunday? >> obviously, it's the "washington post." in particular i would recommend a very wonky story about social security and how the program has gone cash negative, and it's a really great story. >> okay. how about you, karen? >> it's a story that was tweeted to me from "the chronicle" in texas, and it was how jobs are being created under president obama, and it shows how some of the things done under bush helped to put us in this position, and some of the things that has done to continue those things has put united states in a strong position, and nice to
see a cross party, you know, collaboration. >> you don't usually get tweets like that, do you? rich, how about you? >> leaning forward, the -- any story -- everybody is tauging about the des moines register poll today, and that's the first thing everybody looked at, but to karen's point also in the "washington post" this morning, i think a very important piece by daniel yergan, the oil that will have a long-term affect on the energy debate. >> i want to talk to you about the 2012 calendar. and, you know, right after that, we have new hampshire, and i want to talk about south
carolina is the best predictor, january 21st, there, and a lot of folks think that will be a good predictor of who will get many nomination. no republican has become the president without south carolina since 1980. >> rich and i were just talking about this exact.t point in the green room. you can't just drive and the state, you have to go on the air there and that's the state to watch. >> you will not give me one? >> i will be wrong and will not do that. >> karen? >> i think you will see cain or perry winning it, and the question is will that be relevant or enough given the potential success by romney early on. >> i think if romney surprises iowa and does what he expects in new hampshire, he will win south
carolina, and i am not supporting him but i think he will do it all. >> that wraps up this sunday edition of "weekends with alex witt." stay with us, headlines, updates, breaking news coming up. of any small business credit card. it's hard for my crew to keep up with 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. 2% cash back. that's setting the bar pretty high. thanks to spark, owning my own business has never been more rewarding. [ male announcer ] introducing spark the small business credit cards from capital one. a a a i