American Morning

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September 19th, 2011
06:17 PM ET

OPINION: A producer's behind-the-scenes take of The CNN/Tea Party Express debate

A guest producer's view of the post-debate response. Here, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is talking with reporters.

A guest producer's view of the post-debate response. Here, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is talking with reporters.

Beyond the typical political theater that we’ve all come to expect from presidential debates, last week's CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Florida struck a different chord with me.

I’ve attended and helped cover presidential debates in the past. But what really stands out about this one was the symbolism of a news organization – CNN – partnering with a grass roots organization – the Tea Party Express – to host the 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

This might sound like a cliché, but to me it underscored what is truly great about this country and it is representative of why I am thankful that I am a journalist during times like this. Say what you want about their politics, the Tea Party sprang from a few people with the desire to amplify the voice of a few so the nation would listen. To think that this grew into a movement where "real" people who had never been active participants in the political process before, now had an opportunity to challenge presidential candidates in front of a national audience on CNN. How cool is that? It’s democracy at its best.

I always enjoy covering these events because I have the opportunity to have informal conversations with several of the candidates. I am not a reporter so I find that the candidates and their press teams are able to relax more around me.

Our anchor Ali Velshi mid-interview with GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

Our anchor Ali Velshi mid-interview with GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

I met Herman Cain, who was a guest on American Morning during on the morning of the debate. He is quite a cool guy and commands presence as he walks a room like a movie star. Another guest on American Morning that day was Gov. Jon Huntsman. He seems like a proud father to me. In fact, I actually booked the interview with his 20-something-year-old daughter Abby. After taking a picture of Huntsman with my anchor Ali Velshi, he informed me that my iPhone cover case is the same as his 12-year old daughter’s. "It's a Kate Spade," he said like any proud father of a pre-teen would say.

Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign staff is highly organized and they operate their campaign like a business. During the debate the Romney campaign instantaneously blasted out prepared responses to claims and criticisms aimed at their candidate.

Ali Velshi and Rep. Michele Bachmann after our American Morning interview.

Ali Velshi and Rep. Michele Bachmann after our American Morning interview.

Rep. Michele Bachmann reminds me of President George W. Bush: very one-on-one, very engaged with people individually. Her team is always prepared in every way imaginable, arriving long before she does to scope out the interview site. Her entourage has grown since our New Hampshire debate and she is more closely protected.

Most important to me is the people I worked with behind the scenes that I want to highlight. CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is not only fun to hang out with as a person, but it was beyond impressive to see how much information he could remember in so much detail and then organize those thoughts into provocative questions (and with no sleep) for a live interview. Senior Producer Chandra Whitt makes producing look like a walk in the park. It takes talent to make producing a live shot for an anchor during a live show in 90-degree weather look easy! And CNN’s political team doesn't stop doing what they do.

I’d like our viewers to know that when they watch, their passion for what they do is contagious. And I think I caught it.

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Filed under: 2012 • GOP • Tea Party
September 19th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

What is 'post-Blackness?' Author Touré explains the concept, his new book

Within his new book "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?," author Touré explores the concept of post-Blackness and what it means to be an African American in today's world.

Touré has said that his motivation for writing the book was to kill the ongoing discussion that some people are "legitimately" Black, while others are not.

Today on American Morning, Touré discusses his book and explains if he thinks that President Obama should be doing more to help Black Americans.


Filed under: Books • Race
September 19th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

How much money will Obama's 'Buffett Tax' generate and will it make a real difference to the deficit?

This afternoon, President Obama will propose a "Buffett Tax" on people making more than $1 million a year as a part of his deficit recommendations to Congress, intended to generate $1.5 trillion dollars in new revenue, the majority of which will come from high-income households.

Obama's plan details that $800 billion will come from letting Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and another $400 billion will come from capping the value of itemized deductions and other exemptions for high-income housholds. The final $300 billion will come from closing loopholes that benefit oil and gas companies, private jet owners, and investment fund managers.

Jay Powell, Treasury Under Secretary under President George H.W. Bush, discusses the effectiveness of Obama's proposal on American Morning today and weighs in on whether or not the "Buffet Tax" is likely to make a real difference in the national deficit.


Filed under: Deficit • Politics • Taxes
September 19th, 2011
10:26 AM ET

How realistic is the possibility that class riots could happen in the United States?

The income gap in America is growing and threatening to further divide wealthy Americans and the middle class as the unemployment crisis continues.

From 1970-2008, the wealthiest Americans saw their incomes grow by $385%, or an average of $5.6 million dollars, while 90% of workers, who on average get paid the least, lost 1%  of their total incomes.

In response to the persisting jobs crisis, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg commented on Friday that if the unemployment problem continues, he is worried that the same type of riots that swept through Europe and North Africa could happen in America.

Today on American Morning, Frank Gilliam Jr., Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, sits down with Christine Romans to discuss the possibility of class riots and the growing income gap in the United States.


Filed under: Class • Income
September 19th, 2011
10:25 AM ET

Two deadly accidents raise questions about the saftey of air shows

Nine people were killed and nearly 70 were injured at an air show in Reno, Nevada this past Friday after a pilot lost control of his vintage plane during an air race and plummeted toward thousands of spectators.

Another accident occurred on Saturday, when the pilot of an aircraft taking part in a West Virginia show was killed when his plane plunged into a runway and exploded.

Mark Rosekind, National Transportation Safety Board member, weighs in on these accidents on American Morning today, explaining whether or not there are enough regulation at these air shows and if they are safe events.


Filed under: Air show • Saftey
September 19th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

Could Obama's new tax plan really incite 'class warfare?' John Avlon and Errol Louis discuss

President Obama will unveil a plan today to cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade. A large part of the proposal is expected to be based on raising taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year.

Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham said that the President's tax plan would create "class warfare."

Today on American Morning, CNN contributors John Avlon and Errol Louis respond to this comment and explain the President's proposal. They also discuss their new book, "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns," in which they offer a compilation of iconic newspaper columns from legends like Hunter S. Thompson, Art Buchwald and William F. Buckley.


Filed under: Books • Deficit • Politics
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