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Israeli-Hamas Ceasefire Holding; Thousand Volunteer to Staten Island; New York Celebrates Thanksgiving; Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns; Black Friday Can Become Chaotic; Men, "Gen Y" Plan to Spend More; Ambassador Rice Responds on Benghazi; Butterball Talk-Line Helps Families Avoid Turkey Day Disasters; A Thanksgiving Fit for the Troops; Turkey, With a Side of Pigskin

Aired November 22, 2012 - 09:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Happy Turkey Day to you both.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: And good morning to all of you. Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM.

Ceasefire still holding between Israel and Hamas. But one side is claiming victory as they honor a fallen leader killed in the eight-day conflict.

Speaking out. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, defends herself about comments about Benghazi. She responds directly to her harshest critics.

Giving thanks following superstorm Sandy. Across the northeast volunteers try to lift the spirits of those left with nothing.

Plus this.


COSTELLO: Good morning to you. Happy Thanksgiving. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for spending at least part of your holiday with us.

For the first time in more than a week, it has been a relatively quiet day across Israel and Gaza. The ceasefire, for now, is holding.

At the border, Israeli troops are packing up after spending one final night there. The Israeli Defense Forces says since the ceasefire started, three rockets were fired into Israel. Two hit open areas and the third was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

If everything remains this relatively quiet until 2:00 Eastern this afternoon, the Gaza border crossings will open. Today rallies popped up in the streets as Hamas supporters celebrate what they call a victory over Israel. This morning Hamas' prime minister says he's dedicating the victory to that man, Ahmed al-Ja'abari. The head of Hamas' military wing was killed in this Israeli airstrike eight days ago. As you well know, that airstrike igniting the fighting.

Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon joins us now from Gaza City.

Hopeful that this ceasefire will hold?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the longer it does hold, as each hour goes by, people do grow more hopeful that it will, in fact, be sustained. But they are very aware that this is at this point in time still a first step, still a very short-term solution as the looming issue of a long-lasting peace deal does still remain elusive.

For the first time since this all began last Wednesday, we are not seeing deserted streets in Gaza. We are not hearing air strikes, various artillery rockets being fired into Gaza in the distance, we're not hearing the wail of sirens. Quite the contrary. People were in the streets since really the ceasefire was first announced last night. And then earlier, after midday prayers, chanting for their victory, this very much being perceived as a victory here, as the fact that the people of Gaza were able to stand up in the face of Israeli aggression.

That being said, people were also out simply because they could be. For the last eight days they have been living in sheer terror, entirely unsure when and where an Israeli airstrike would be hitting. Because here they do not have air raid sirens to warn them. And now finally for the first time last night they were able to sleep without fear of being targeted and this morning throughout the day as well, we have been hearing what would sound like the normal sounds of life in Gaza. Cars honking, people out and about -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Arwa Damon, reporting live from Gaza City. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Back here at home in the United States some are giving up their traditional Thanksgiving holiday to help others in New York and New Jersey. Places hit hard by superstorm Sandy last month. So many homes destroyed, including on Staten Island.

Deb Feyerick joins us now from New York.

And Deb, I know that -- that dozens and dozens of volunteers are helping out this holiday. It's a beautiful thing.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it really is because a lot of people got up very, very early, crack of dawn, in order to go into Staten Island, to various neighborhoods in order to bring turkey burgers, set-up grills, give them some food so that they can give them solace during the (INAUDIBLE).

Just want to show you a little bit of what's going on here. These a number of the volunteers that have come out today. They're getting their marching orders, their instructions. And one thing that they were just told, and that is that they've got to be sensitive because they are going into communities where so many people were affected and they're still traumatized by the effects of Sandy.

I want to talk to one of the volunteers here. Erin Bagley.

And you gave up your Thanksgiving morning in order to do this. What kind of impact do you want to have on the people who are out on Staten Island?

ERIN BAGLEY, VOLUNTEER: Well, I think we just want everybody on Staten Island to know that they are loved by a god who is going to see them through this. And that we just want to be here for them and, you know, provide a good day for them in spite of all that they've been through.

FEYERICK: Do you think by bringing your energy into the community, you're also bringing grills, you're bringing clean-up tools. I mean this isn't just about oh, let's have sort of a grilling experience but it's also about what kind of help you can bring to these individuals.

What do you expect?

BAGLEY: I expect that we're just going to come in with a lot of energy, but be very sensitive to the people here. And that, you know, people are just going to go all day long and be the hands and feet of god.

FEYERICK: All right. Erin Bagley, thank you so much. And we had a little look inside some of these trucks and these trucks are filled with wheelbarrows, and brushes and shovels and hammers. They are going to go into homes and actually rip out some of the drywall, the insulation, all the stuff that was ruined in the flood.

Then once that's done they're going to set up these grills and they're going to have pies and cookies, and chips and turkey burgers. And just something to basically tell these people that you are remembered especially on a day like today -- Brooke.

COSTELLO: It's Carol. And thank you so much, Deb Feyerick. Thank you so much. That warms my heart. We appreciate it.

You wouldn't think a raggedy old Christmas tree would become a symbol of hope but it has in one devastated neighborhood. This is Union Beach, New Jersey. The tree's owner says he planned to sell the tree in a garage sale before Sandy hit. It was what -- it was in someone's trash, someone found it and returned the tree to its former glory.


DENNIS HORNING, UNION BEACH, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: Two days later we know that someone erected the tree, somebody else came along and put the nice inspirational sign up so at that point we were kind of pretty excited about it that the town pulls together. ROBERT SANCHEZ, UNION BEACH RESIDENT: It actually, you know, brings a tear to your eye because it makes you feel good after something so tragic.

JULIE NICHOLS, UNION BEACH, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: Even thought we'd make a nice picture for our Christmas card to show our town, you know, that we're not going to lose hope.


COSTELLO: Ninety percent of homes in Union Beach had water damage from Sandy. Three hundred homes were destroyed.

Now let's talk about a Thanksgiving Day tradition. Of course the Macy's Day Parade. This is a live look at the parade route in New York. The parade got started just a few minutes ago near Central Park.

Jason Carroll, as he is every year, is there amongst the people.



COSTELLO: Hi, Jason. I must say, I love your reports every year because they make me smile. And this year, people in New York City, they need some -- they need to smile.

CARROLL: We do. We need some reasons to smile. The weather gave us a lot of reasons to smile today. Here's -- I hate clowns. Hate clowns. Anyway, yes, the weather is terrific out here today.

Carol, we've got so many people, 3.5 million people are expected to line the parade route. Another clown. And you can see -- I mean so many people have lined the parade route. They've been here since 5:00 a.m. this morning, Carol. They've been out here waiting. People from as far away as South Carolina, New Jersey, California, giving a shout- out. Florida. I missed them last time. Don't want to leave Florida out this time.

And if you take a look right over here, the parade, Carol, has actually just now gotten under way. You can see the North Carolina Marching Band marching their way towards us. Behind the Florida Marching Band -- the North Carolina Marching Band. We also have a new addition to this year's parade, which is the Hello Kitty in her biplane. So you can see a lot of reasons to be excited out here today at the Macy's that -- hey, Happy Thanksgiving.



CARROLL: So we'll be out here all morning. And then we're going to go back and --

COSTELLO: Hello Kitty in her biplane?


CARROLL: Yes, take a look. There she is. Hello Kitty, making her way in her biplane with these gorgeous young ladies here from North Carolina, marching down. It's a lot of fun, you know.

COSTELLO: All I can say is it's a blessing that the weather is warm with those outfits.

Jason Carroll, we'll get back to you. Thanks for the fun.

I always love his reports from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

All right. They risked their lives defending our freedoms. Now one organization is doing its part to make sure U.S. troops have a very Happy Thanksgiving. We'll show you how.


2ND LT. RACHEL GRUBER, U.S. ARMY: Hi, I'm 2nd Lt. Rachel Gruber, and I'm with Alpha Company 3STB Rakkasans. And I'd like to say hi to my mom and my dad and my brother in Fairfax, Virginia.

Happy Thanksgiving.



COSTELLO: Twelve minutes past the hour. House Speaker John Boehner says nothing is off the table in the negotiations to avoid that so- called fiscal cliff, and that includes Obamacare. If an agreement cannot be reached on reducing the national debt, drastic spending cuts will automatically start on January 2nd and Congressman Boehner, he discussed the health care law in an op-ed for the "Cincinnati Inquirer" saying, "We can't afford it, and we can't afford to leave it intact. That's why I've been clear that this law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation's massive debt challenge."

That should make this fiscal cliff negotiations so much more interesting.

Illinois will have to hold a special election following Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation from Congress. Jackson says he needs to spend time, quote, "restoring my health." Jackson mysteriously disappeared from Capitol Hill in May and his office later revealed he was dealing with depression and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Health concerns aren't the only thing Jackson is facing, though.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Chicago.

Good morning, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Yes. Well, the health concerns are significant. He had two stints at the Mayo Clinic. And talking to family members, that was the main reason why he just couldn't move forward. And he, you know, gave his letter of resignation to John Boehner yesterday.

In that letter, though, for the first time -- and this is what you were alluding to, Carol -- he did acknowledge that he knows he is the subject of a federal investigation for possible misuse of campaign funds. And in that letter at one point he said, talking about that, "I'm doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators and accept responsibility for my mistakes for they are my mistakes and mine alone."

And that last part is significant, because his wife, Sandy Jackson, who's an alderperson here in the city of Chicago, according to "The Wall Street Journal," is also a part of this federal investigation. So very interesting that Jesse Jackson Jr. in his resignation letter to John Boehner mentioned that all of these problems are mine and mine alone.

Another part of the story that people here in Chicago are watching very closely, will Sandy Jackson, his wife, try to get his seat that is now, of course, open? We have not heard from Jesse Jackson Jr., we have not heard from Jesse Jackson, Sr. We have heard, though, from Bobby Rush, who is U.S. representative also here in Chicago and a very close friend of the Jacksons.

Take a listen to a little bit of what he had to say yesterday.


REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: I just find that it's so (INAUDIBLE) at this point for me not only to know that he won't be in the Congress, but to know that he is still struggling with a serious, very serious mental health issue.


ROWLANDS: Bottom line, Carol, the folks here in the Second District of Illinois will be looking for a new representative. They'll have to hold two elections, one primary and one general. Pat Quinn, the governor here, says he will try to do that as quickly and economically as possible.

COSTELLO: Ted Rowlands reporting live for us from Chicago.

Black Friday chaos. Remember the pushing and shuffling and stampedes from last year.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not push me! It's a TV, for God's sakes!


COSTELLO: Yes. Who can forget? With all the bigger deals and longer shopping hours this year, will we see a repeat?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Oh, after stuffing yourself with turkey, maybe you'll work it off by getting caught up in the Black Friday shopping frenzy, which will get under way even earlier this year. Of course, that has stirred up a lot of controversy.

Employees at stores like Target and Wal-Mart say they want their holiday. More than one person is wondering why anyone would leave their family for a tag sale. Some people have been camping out in front of stores all week to be the very first person in line. Experts say about 147 million people will shop this weekend. It's actually down from last year's 220 million.

But even with fewer shoppers, experts predict more than $21 billion in sales. That's up by almost $2 billion from last year. But the most astonishing part of Black Friday is the chaos.

Here's CNN's Kyung Lah with some of the most shocking moments.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stampedes, the gate crashing, the pushing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not push me! It's a TV, for God's sakes!

LAH: Even tasing. Shoppers consumed with the deal turning on one another. At this Wal-Mart last year --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My eyes are burning!

LAH: -- one used pepper spray to fight suffocation in the crowd. This is Black Friday in America. And Connecticut shopper, John Daggett --

JOHN DAGGETT, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: I've been standing in line for 36 hours.

LAH: -- loves it. This father of an 18-month old has been camping out for years. One year, he snapped photos as this crowd fought over $5 headphones.

DAGGETT: The shoppers went berserk. I've never seen anything like it. People start lunging and grabbing and you see the arms all just go at once forward, like a team of superheroes.

AIMEE DROLET, CONSUMER PYSCHOLOGIST: What is relatively new is shoppers turning on other shoppers.

LAH: Aimee Drolet is a consumer psychologist. She says competitive shopping has gotten worse, so accepted on Black Friday that it's here to stay.

DROLET: This piling on, stores being desperate for consumers to come and shop, so they're going to be offering a lot of deals, and making the promotional environment something that predisposes people to not behave.

LAH: Bad behavior has led to serious injuries, even death, from crushed workers and shoppers to shootings at stores.

That's why Best Buy has been running drills this year on crowd control. They're so serious at this store check out the plan on the Black Friday war board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We prep a lot for this. We make sure the line is being monitored, let in little groups at a time, that way our employees aren't getting overwhelmed and neither are the customers.

LAH (on camera): The tents, the lines, the mayhem. Some shoppers say the only way they can handle Black Friday is by declaring a shopping blackout.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People go crazy for a good deal, but it's not worth it to me. It's not worth it to my family.

LAH (voice-over): But crowds are just part of obtaining rare Black Friday deals, says Daggett.

DAGGETT: I love when they try to swing at you or anything. It's funny to me, because everybody always gets mad when you're the one with the items that they want.

LAH: Consumers driven by competition, no matter the cost.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


COSTELLO: It's just hard to understand. I'm sorry.

OK, those long lines, of course, mean big business for retailers. As I said, new survey shows consumers plan to spend even more this holiday season.

Rene Marsh is in Washington with tips to keep your holiday spending under control.

Good morning.


So, this new survey really suggests that this shopping season will be a good one for retailers. This survey comes from the Consumer Federation of America as well as the Credit Union National Association.

So they spoke with more than 1,000 people over the phone. And the survey is suggesting that we will see holiday spending increase anywhere between 3.5 percent to 4 percent from last year.

Keep in mind that's despite those doom and gloom reports about the fiscal cliff, potential tax hikes on everyone, if Congress does not act. Of the people who were surveyed between November 9th and 13th, many of them said they do plan on spending more this year compared to last year. I have some interesting breakouts for you here, Carol. More men said that they will spend more this year compared to last year than women. As far as age goes, the generation wires, you know, 18 through 34, they said that they, too, plan on spending more.

And remember, that group of people have had a tough time breaking into the workforce. Still, though, they said they planned on spending more as well as Latinos and blacks. They, too, say they plan on spending more.

So why? That's the big question. Why do some people say they plan on spending more this holiday season, simply because as far as the people in this survey, they felt as if their financial situation this year is better than it was last year -- Carol.

COSTELLO: That's simple. So where are people spending the most money?

MARSH: They break it down regionally. And it appears that of the people surveyed in this particular survey here in the South is where we saw that people said they plan on spending more this year compared to last year.

I have a number for you: 15 percent of the people surveyed said they plan on spending more in the South. The least amount of people who said they plan on spending more, that happened in the West, only 7 percent. And the Northeast and the Midwest, they were tied at 12 percent.

So we expect to see more money -- people opening up those wallets more so in the South -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Rene Marsh, reporting live from Washington.

Ambassador Susan Rice is defending herself after coming under fire for her comments on Benghazi. She says the attacks by her critics are unfounded.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for being with us.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appears to be holding near the Gaza border, Israeli soldiers are packing up and heading home. In Gaza, the leader of Hamas is calling the cease-fire with Israel a victory.

As many as 33 homes in an Indianapolis subdivision are slated for demolition by the end of the year following that explosion there earlier this month. That's according to "The Indianapolis Star." Two people died in the blast. The explosion leveled several homes and damaged dozens of others. Several homes will be torn down in the next two weeks over fears they could collapse.

President Obama delivers his annual Thanksgiving Day address and talks about the blessings we share as Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanksgiving is a chance to put it all in perspective, to remember that despite our differences we are, and always will be, Americans first and foremost. Today, we give thanks for blessings that are all too rare in this world -- the ability to spend time with the ones we love, to say what we want, to worship as we please, to know that there are brave men and women defending our freedom around the globe, and to look our children in the eye and tell them that here in America, no dream is too big if they're willing to work for it.


COSTELLO: The president also expressed gratitude to FEMA, first responders and also volunteers who aided victims of superstorm Sandy.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is finally speaking out about those talking points she delivered on the attacks in Benghazi. Ambassador Rice came under fire from Republicans for telling Americans on national television the consulate uprising was a result of an anti-Islam video and not an act of terrorism.

Rice also said that all the facts were not in and the investigation was ongoing, but Republicans accused Rice and the White House of a cover-up weeks before the election. But this week, it was revealed those talking points were actually edited by the intelligence community.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world and Iran's nuclear program. The attack on Benghazi, or on our facilities in Benghazi, was obviously a significant piece of this.

When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made the clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have and I always will. I do think that some of the statements he made about me have been unfounded. But I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.


COSTELLO: As you well know, Senator McCain has led the charge against Rice. She may get the chance to talk to him face to face if President Obama does, indeed, nominate her to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. She'll see McCain at her Senate confirmation hearings.

So, can we now move on to what supposedly really matters? Why four Americans were killed in Benghazi? It's Thanksgiving. So I'll say sure.

Political types may have a different take, though.

CNN political analyst Roland Martin joins us now. He's Houston with an awful shirt.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, hey! Come on now. Texas, baby.

COSTELLO: Katon Dawson, I'm glad you're dressed professionally.


COSTELLO: Katon Dawson is a national Republican consultant. He's in Columbia, South Carolina.


MARTIN: Well, you know, Carol, politics is so alive, football is a contact sport -- so, it's appropriate to wear to discuss this story.

COSTELLO: True, except the Lions may win.

MARTIN: Oh, they will not.

COSTELLO: Just remember, the Texans didn't to do so well against Jacksonville last week, buddy.

MARTIN: We won?

COSTELLO: You never know.

DAWSON: Roland, I look forward to you bringing -- Roland, I look forward to you bringing your Texas Aggies down here to Columbia to play Coach Spurrier's Gamecocks in a couple of years. That ought to --


MARTIN: Don't pray for a butt kicking.

COSTELLO: OK. We must put our football talk aside for just a moment and talk about this Benghazi situation.

So, the director of the national intelligence agency says the intelligence community changed the talking points, not the White House. Ambassador Susan Rice says the same.

Yet, Senator John McCain remains suspicious. He released a statement. Part of it says this. McCain says, "This latest episode is another reason why many of us are so frustrated with and suspicious of the actions of this administration when it comes to the Benghazi attack."

So, Roland, is there more there?

MARTIN: Look, you can't satisfy Senator John McCain for anything. He wants to complain about everything and anything. He has been attacking Ambassador Rice. It has been shameful. It has been ridiculous.

But it's amazing how he never wanted to says a word about General Petraeus when he was running the CIA and his involvement with it. So, it's ridiculous.

Ambassador Rice made it clear in terms of where she got the talking points from. The Republicans in the Senate want to attack the White House, want to attack Rice. They don't want her to be secretary of state. They don't want to say a word about the intelligence community.

So, I say Rice was right to fire back. They should push back. It should be just as aggressive in terms of laying out this is where we got the information from.

And even Condoleezza Rice on FOX News said, look, in this kind of situation, you get tons of information and it is always evolving and changing.

COSTELLO: So, Katon, is Roland right or is Senator McCain right? Is there more there?

DAWSON: Let me unpack it a little bit. I think Roland is wrong. I mean, let's look at Senator Graham also from South Carolina who if you know his history and Senator Graham's history, once they dig in, they're not going to quit. What they're looking for is the truth.

In unpacking exactly where this is, they've asked for a special prosecutor. The president's denied, and let Eric Holder and his own appointees look at this.

We have a history here. Look, go back to Scooter Libby and President Bush. Certainly there was a special prosecutor there. They uncovered evidence.

What they're trying to get down to is who knew what, when and where and what caused the demise of these four great Americans when they were begging for help the entire time from the administration to a deaf ear. So, I think the senators certainly are going to responsibly continue to ask for the complete investigation to get down to the bottom of this.

And Roland is right --

MARTIN: You don't need a special --

DAWSON: -- Senator Graham and Senator McCain -- when Senator Graham and Senator McCain dig in here, they want to know what's all there. It doesn't look right to the American public, Roland. It just doesn't.

(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: Let me ask you both --

MARTIN: You don't need a --

COSTELLO: We're going on and on about Susan Rice and who wrote the talking points and who edited the talking points -- but how is this helping us find out what went so terribly wrong in Benghazi? How is it doing that?


MARTIN: This is why -- Carol, this is why we have -- first of all, you have multiple committees in the House and the Senate. You have homeland security. You have intelligence. You have defense.

You have the bodies already there who have staffs. And this is what they do. You don't need a special committee as Senator John McCain is calling for. That makes no sense at all.

And, thankfully, he is now showing up at these hearings, because remember, the first one he chose to skip to have a news conference and said later it was a scheduling error.

The bottom line is this here: Republicans are trying to find the first opportunity to hit this president after he won the election. They want the scuttle a potential nomination of Ambassador Rice to be secretary of state.

I say to the president, you appoint her and you say, you guys want to fight? Bring it.

They should go on the offensive because he has a right to appoint anybody he wants to.

COSTELLO: Now see --

MARTIN: They want the first person to go after.

COSTELLO: I so disagree with you, Roland.


COSTELLO: Voters want peace. They don't want partisan bickering.

MARTIN: No, no. The president has a right --

COSTELLO: So, President Obama proves a point by nominating Susan Rice, knowing that Republicans are against her --

MARTIN: Wait a minute. Excuse me.

COSTELLO: What does that do in the long run?

MARTIN: Excuse me. Carol, she has an impressive resume. She is skillful. She has all the skills for this job. Just because you might have some Republicans against her nomination doesn't mean you don't nominate her. This is not a situation where it should be 100-0. I'm sorry.


COSTELLO: Katon, I want you to have the last word on this. Go ahead.

DAWSON: With deference to my friend, Roland -- I mean, she sat there on TV during the middle of an election cycle and absolutely advocated, threw a smokescreen down, didn't tell the truth. Regardless of who put it in front of her, the due diligence was there.

MARTIN: The intelligence community.

DAWSON: She did was she was asked to do, I'm going to move Susan Rice out of the way. If you take a look at what happened, this was in the middle of a tough election.

I get Republicans lost. I will be reminded of that for the next four years and 300 some days that we lost.


DAWSON: But the American public -- Carol is right -- the American public wants the whole truth on this, the tragic disaster and I promise you from my senior senator, Lindsey Graham, he's going to find it.

COSTELLO: All right. Katon and Roland, I want to thank you.

MARTIN: The president won't back down. Go on the offensive.

COSTELLO: We must stop here, but I like to thank both of you because I don't have to fight at my Thanksgiving Day table because I've already done it.

Thank you so much.

DAWSON: I'll see you at that football game, Roland.

MARTIN: You want no part of the Aggies. Trust me.

COSTELLO: Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

DAWSON: Oh, you just wait until you see those Gamecocks.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back.

MARTIN: Get them. Go, Texas.


CAPT. HAYLEY HARSTEIN, U.S. AIR FORCE: This is Captain Hayley Harstein from Bagram, Afghanistan. Just want to say hi and happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends in Arizona. Hi, mom, dad, (INAUDIBLE). See you soon. I love you and I miss you.


COSTELLO: Some of you probably have your turkey in the oven already. But not everyone is a turkey cooking expert. And you don't want to risk having a turkey disaster, you know, like that scene from national lampoon's "Christmas Vacation."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Katherine, this turkey tastes half as good as it looks, I think we're all in for a very big treat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the neck for me, Clark.






COSTELLO: That's such a stupid movie, but I laugh every time.

To avoid that horrible disaster every holiday, people call the 1-800- butterballturkey hotline for advice.

Carol Miller, the Butterball talk-line supervisor, is in New York.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL MILLER, BUTTERBALL TURKEY TALK-LINE SUPERVISOR: I love that film. That is my favorite shot. I have a giggle every time.


So has anyone ever called you with a similar mishap?

MILLER: You know, we have been talking turkey to America for 32 years. In that period of time we've collected all these golden tips that he we share with people. And actually, we've got so many ways to deliver those tips. Actually, this year, we actually have an app that has great recipes. There's video so that you don't do that to your turkey.

What you really need to do, you want to be prepared. Right now, there are turkeys that are in the oven. There are some turkeys that are still in the fridge. There are some turkey that are still in the store frozen and people are going to bring them home and they're going to call us to see how they get them on their table today.

COSTELLO: How do you do that if your turkey's still frozen? You're kind of out of luck, aren't you? MILLER: Well, it's not the best way to do it. The tip for next year would be to buy early. It takes four days or -- not four days. It takes four days to thaw out one pound of turkey. So you really need to start early.

If it's a little frozen, don't worry. It's just going to take a little extra time. 30 minutes to maybe three hours. You might have to have pie first.

COSTELLO: That would be kind of fun, actually.

MILLER: It would, a new tradition.

COSTELLO: I want to ask you about this, because when the family comes over, you're preparing the turkey and all the fixings and the family is over and they try to interfere and tell you what to do. Why are you doing it that way? How can I avoid that? Because that just makes me more nervous.

MILLER: You know, we do get calls on Thanksgiving where there is a dispute in the house. We listen to all the evidence and then we are the jury, and we will give them the verdict. When they hang up there saying, I told you so, but the nice calls that we do get is that people -- they're not sure if their turkey is done. There's just so many things.

Once in a while we actually get a round of applause because our turkey experts -- they can handle anything. Are you ready for a few tips?

COSTELLO: Yes, please. Give me like the number one tip. Then we're going to have you back throughout the hour. So, number one --

MILLER: Thermometer. You know, if your viewers do not have a thermometer handy, this is what they need. You cannot look at a turkey and know if it's done. You have to know the temperature inside. You're looking for 180 in the thigh, 170 in the breast. If it's still your tradition to stuff, 165 in the stuffing. Best tool that I can advise.

COSTELLO: Thank you. You're going to be back. So, Carol Miller from Butterball Turkey, the turkey hotline -- thank you so much.

So how about some turkey today with a side of pigskin? A lot of us will be watching football this Thanksgiving, including a growing fan base of women.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not all watching for the commercials. They're watching because they understand the X's and O's. They know the game. We have the wallets so we spend the money.


COSTELLO: Yes. So, NFL, are you listening?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Turkey and football -- two Thanksgiving traditions being celebrated in the United States and in Afghanistan where troops played a game of ultimate American football before sitting down to a turkey dinner.

And as many Americans make their way through the airports today they will likely be joined by some of those troops en route to their next mission or hopefully for a reunion with family. Soldiers traveling through Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport will have a special treat and George Howell is there with all the details. Happy Thanksgiving.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, happy Thanksgiving to you. You know this is where it always happens, where passengers will arrive to meet family members. When troops show up here they usually arrive to applause. And on this day, on this very special day for many people, it's very important to come home and have those reunions.

And today we saw one of those very special moments with Kelly McCormick being reunited with -- with her husband, Rob McCormick, who has been stationed in Qatar for the last six months. Keep this in mind Carol. You know they have two young children. Rob says that his young son was crawling when he last saw him. Now his son is walking. So this reunion is very important.

I spoke to them just a bit this morning. Take a listen to what they had to say.


ROB MCCORMICK, JUST RETURNED FROM FIVE MONTH DEPLOYMENT: I'm just happy to see him after so long. So they've grown a lot in six months. So it was good to see him.


HOWELL: You know, we are expecting a lot of soldiers to come through today. They're trickling through this morning. But around 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time we expect a flight with a lot of soldiers to come through. And as far as Kelly and Rob are concerned, they are planning to surprise their family in Wynder (ph). So hopefully family members aren't watching CNN right now because Rob is back home and excited to see his family, Carol.

COSTELLO: Well it'll still be special, even if they caught your report. George Howell, reporting live from Hartsfield International Airport.

We'll be right back.


SPEC. TAKIA MITCHELL, U.S. ARMY: Hello my name is Specialist Mitchell. And I'm here at (inaudible) California and I just want to give a shout out to my family in Philadelphia, PA. Hey, mom, Tammy and Deron my little brother have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. And I'll see you really soon. (END VIDEO CLIP)


COSTELLO: Oh so the smell of turkey is filling your house. The family is due to arrive in just a few hours, but if you're like me I can't wait to leave that table for a little football -- ok a lot of football. Three games on the field for this day of thanks. The Houston, Texas travel to Detroit to take on my Lions and yes it's a must win for the Lions as usual. Houston can afford to lose so hey, Texans, never mind.

Then it's RG3 and the Redskins battling the Cowboys in Dallas. And later tonight New England visits New York to a take on the Jets.

So we already know women are fast becoming important part of the NFL fan base. So hey MNFL listen up we want more than cute clothes featuring Matthew Stafford's name on the back. We want some respect.

Nischelle Turner has more for you.


NISCHELLE TURNER, (voice-over): She's a mild-mannered makeup artist Monday through Saturday but for Yuriko Bondies -- on Sunday --


TURNER: He's your guy. It's how about them Cowboys.

(on camera): Who is your favorite?

BONDIES: DeMarcus Ware.

TURNER: DeMarcus Ware.

BONDIES: That's my guy.

TURNER: Yuriko's story is one the sports world has seen skyrocket in past few years -- the story of the female fanatic.

(on camera): When did you first figure out I love football?

BONDIES: Probably when I met my husband back then boyfriend. Because he was always watching football on Sunday. So if I didn't watch with him I couldn't see him. Because he didn't want to see me if I don't watch the game.

TURNER: So you said if I can't beat him, join him?


TURNER (voice-over): Here's some stat: Nielsen number show in football alone the number of women viewers have skyrocketed growing by 1.5 million in the past five years which according to Nielsen's Stephen Master is a big win. STEPHEN MASTER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, NIELSEN: If they can just even do a little bit better with women they're going to really increase their viewership and take the numbers that they have and grow them and grow the pie.

TURNER: So it's growing. According to market research firms Sports One Stores all together last year for baseball, football and basketball license apparel for women topped $330 million. This information now has advertisers licking their chops.

MASTER: Brands like Tide, Febreze -- things that traditionally being more targeting the female audience they are using the NFL as a vehicle to reach households because they feel that the NFL has done really effective job of not just reaching that male audience but reaching the entire household.

TURNER: But the sports world hasn't always welcomed the female fan with open arms.

HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE, ACTRESS: I'm #Crazyfootballmama on Twitter and I will flood your Timeline with football tweets.

TURNER: Actress Holly Robinson Peete is married to retired NFL quarterback Rodney Peete. In 2005, she wrote the book, "Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game", and she meant it.

PEETE: For years even when my husband was active in the NFL as a quarterback, I tried to convince the NFL how many women were watching and it was a little over 45 percent of the audience for Super Bowl especially who are. They're not all watching for the commercials. They're watching because they understand the X's and the O's. They know the game. We have the wallets. So we spend the money.

TURNER: And the time.

(on camera): You started liking them back in the days of Aikman, Michael Irvin.


TURNER: That's when you really fell in love with the team?

BONDIES: Yes. At that time I was just watching it because they were really winning every time.

TURNER: America's team.

BONDIES: Yes. I am more into the team now than I was back then. Now I know all the players and I go to the training camp and I actually see them train and practice. So I'm like so much more into it but like, they don't win.

TURNER (voice-over): Even if their team is struggling.

(on camera): Touchdown Eagles.

(voice-over): Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


COSTELLO: They won't be bragging at the Eagles this year.

I can't understand. I was born a football fan. Born in Canton, Ohio where football began and for most of my life a Browns fans and I stuck with it. I don't think I'll ever not be a football fan. So I hope the NFL is listening.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts after a short break.