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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
U.S. Pledges Lasting Alliance with Afghanistan; Heat Wave Hits Part of U.S.; Teens Challenge Media on Portrayal of Young Women; Activists Call for Ending Ban on Blood Donations by Gay Men; Young Voters May be Less Enthusiastic about Upcoming Presidential Election; Essence Music Festival Taking Place in New Orleans
Aired July 7, 2012 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future.
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RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: An unannounced visit to Afghanistan and an announcement that will impact troop withdrawal.
Plus, June jobs numbers send investors into panic as the Dow plunges over 100 points. Why the numbers just didn't add up for Wall Street.
You're young, healthy and willing, but the Red Cross doesn't want your blood because you're gay. Now lawmakers are trying to change that. It's our 10:30 talker.
We start this hour with the weather. We are all hoping for a break from this oppressive heat. Well, sorry, not today. I hate to see all that red on these maps we're about to show you, but those are the heat warnings. And as you can see, it is going to be pretty bad today. The record triple-digit temperatures are being blamed for at least five deaths.
And don't forget about the 350,000 people still without power after storms tore through the Atlantic states last week. It has been a week with no power and no air conditioning, but in many of those places cooling centers have opened up to help try to cool people down.
Now to Afghanistan and a commitment from the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spelled out the partnership that will take the two countries beyond the planned troop withdrawal in 2014. Afghanistan is now designated a major non-NATO ally. That means the U.S. will keep up defense, security, and economic relations with Afghanistan even after the withdrawal.
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CLINTON: I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Before heading over to Afghanistan, Secretary Clinton was in Paris for the so-called friends of Syria meeting. Clinton offered this warning to Russia and China, who have opposed efforts to have Syrian president Assad removed from power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I will tell you very frankly, I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price.
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KAYE: Clinton also argued for United Nations sanctions. The U.N. could still authorize the use of force to topple Assad's regime.
Not a good number for President Obama. A weak jobs report left the unemployment rate at 8.2 percent. That means nearly 13 million people are jobless and a large number of them have been out of work for at least six months. The news pushed the markets down, the Dow finishing down 124 points.
Needless to say, the jobs report is a big deal on the campaign trail, but as our White House correspondent Dan Lothian reports, it was especially bad news for President Obama, who tried to turn the bad news into a rallying cry.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama's battleground bus tour drove over a big speed bump when dismal jobs numbers over shadowed his message.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's still tough out there.
LOTHIAN: At a rally in Ohio, he didn't dwell on negative news but instead played up private sector gains.
OBAMA: Businesses created 84,000 new jobs last month, and that means that overall that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs. That's a step in the right direction.
LOTHIAN: But unemployment remains at 8.2 percent, and voters are divided over who can best handle the economy. A recent CNN/ORC poll shows 48 percent of registered voters think Mitt Romney, 47 percent President Obama. Looking to keep a tight grip on the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania that voted for him in 2008, the president pushed his message of manufacturing gains, especially in the auto industry, to working class voters. He began the final day of his "Vetting on America" bus tour with breakfast in Akron, Ohio, where the president was joined by three union workers from a nearby Goodyear tire plant.
OBAMA: You've been there 20 years? You're still there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LOTHIAN: Then the president toured the summer garden food manufacturing plant near Youngstown, a business that the campaign said is expanding and creating jobs. At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, his biggest event of the tour, there was one final appeal for a second term.
OBAMA: And if you still believe in me like I believe in you, I hope you will stand with me in 2012.
LOTHIAN: The president told supporters at almost every stop on the two-day bus tour that he was tough enough to handle negative ads from his opponent and outside groups, but he admitted that he was being out-spent, the first time that's ever happened to a sitting president.
Dan Lothian, CNN, Pittsburgh.
KAYE: And as we saw in Dan's report, the president started his day yesterday at a diner in Akron, Ohio. No doubt it was a thrill for the owner, Ann Harris. But just about an hour after the president left, the 70-year-old woman died. The local paper reports she had a heart attack. The president was in Pittsburgh when he got the news. He called Harris's daughter back in Akron to offer his condolences. Listen to the call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Michelle and I are thinking of you and your daughters and the entire family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She enjoyed her visit with you. It brought a smile to her face. Thank you, President Obama.
OBAMA: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you! Thank you.
OBAMA: All right, god bless you guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The family said that Ann Harris loved the president and considered him a hero. They plan to blow up the picture the president took with her and mount it on the wall. To other news now, and the run has begun in Pamplona, Spain. It is the traditional running of the bulls, and there they go. The crowd seems to grow every year with thousands of people crowded into the narrow streets. Today is the first day of the festival, which lasts a week. That means several more days of people being chased through the streets by those bulls. Today, six people were injured, including a 73-year-old man who was gored.
Inside the world of Scientology, the church says members are the lifeblood, but how many scientologists are there really? The answer may depend on who you ask.
And yes, that's an iguana. This Miami fireman is releasing into the wild, but you'll never guess where he found it.
KAYE: The business of scientology -- we've been focusing on the controversial and secretive church this morning. Last hour, we talked about church doctrine and the draw for celebrities, but now let's focus on the money and how the church brings in millions of dollars. CNN's Alison Kosik takes a look.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The church of Scientology is known for its celebrity firepower. But beyond that it's a sprawling empire that began more than 60 years ago. Dollar figures are hard to come by. It's a non-profit organization granted tax-exempt status by the IRS in 1993, and its structure is complicated. The Church of Scientology International, headquartered in Los Angeles, oversees all religious activity.
But there are other corporations, including the religious technology center and the church of spiritual technology. They own and oversee the trademarks and copyrights of "Scientology and Dianetics." Its publishing houses can turn out 67 million copies a year. They go for $20 a paperback on the scientology website.
No doubt, you've seen pictures of the celebrity center in Hollywood. That's just one of the church's vast real estate holdings. It says it has acquired more than 70 new buildings since 2004 and that its total assets and properties internationally have more than doubled in the last seven years. The Church of Scientology says 4.4 million people sign up every year, but scholars say the membership numbers are much lower, likely in the hundreds of thousands.
So, where's the money coming from? Mostly its members. The church is primarily funded by contributions usually in exchange for church services, like spiritual counseling and training. According to "The St. Petersburg Times," scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, brings in $10 million a year.
But the church's sometimes hefty fees have raised eyebrows. Some former members allege the church coerced its flock into making donations and buying scientology materials. And it sells a lot of materials, everything from online courses to DVDs with most of the proceeds going back to the church. The church strongly denies coercion.
In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.
KAYE: The money is really just one aspect of the church's reach. Next hour we'll explore some of the myths and the misconceptions. Are aliens really part of their history? We'll answer that next hour.
Checking stories now cross country for you. In Dallas, police arrested two gay men for protesting the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The two applied for a marriage license knowing, of course, that they'd be denied. Then they handcuffed themselves together and sat on the floor, refusing to move. Police charged them with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
If nothing else, Thomas Daigle of Milford, Massachusetts, is a man of his word. Listen to this. He said that he would make his final mortgage payment in pennies, and he did, 62,000 of them weighing 800 pounds. But he did give the bank staff some advanced notice. It took them two days to unroll the pennies that Daigle collected for the past 35 years. He's been a customer of the bank since he opened a savings account at 10.
And imagine a driver's surprise when he found an iguana in his car as he left work in Miami. That is when he called the fire department, which luckily wasn't busy rescuing a cat from up a tree or anything like that. It took a little work to get the iguana out from under the dash, but you see it there. It's a pretty good-sized iguana, actually. The fireman walked it across the street and releases it right into that swampy area.
Teenagers take to the streets outside a popular magazine demanding a more realistic portrayal of young girls in the media. I'll talk with two of them and bring you the magazine's response.
KAYE: Good morning, Los Angeles. You can see there a foggy day. Hopefully, it will clear up for all those folks watching "CNN Saturday Morning." Glad you're with us.
You might call this next story a real-life example of girl power. A 14-year-old makes it her mission to end photo-shopping at one of the nation's top teen magazines by starting an online petition requesting one unaltered photo spread per month. More than 84,000 signatures and one protest later, mission accomplished as "Seventeen" magazine goes beyond that request and vows to never alter the images of the models featured in its pages.
Joining me are two young women who were part of that initiative and are now pushing another magazine to follow "Seventeen's" lead. Let's say good morning to 16-year-old Carina Cruz and 17-year-old Emma Stydahar. Carina and Emma are members of spark, a teen group that works to end the sexualization of young girls and women in the media. Good morning to both of you.
CARINA CRUZ, MEMBER, SPARK; "SEVENTEEN" MAGAZINE READER: Good morning.
EMMA STYDAHAR, MEMBER, SPARK; "SEVENTEEN" MAGAZINE READER: Good morning.
KAYE: Emma, let me start with you, Emma. You helped deliver that petition to the magazine. What was "seventeen's" reaction, and did you ever expect this kind of result?
STYDAHAR: Initially, their reaction was not what we were planning, but we're very excited now that they have put out this body peace treaty, and we hope that "teen vogue" will do the same thing.
KAYE: Let's talk about this body peace treaty. Carina, they published this, pledging several things to its readers, including to never change a girl's body or face shapes. "Seventeen" says it never has done that and it never will. Also pledging to celebrate every kind of beauty in our pages, always featuring real girls and models who are healthy. Now, we all know that thin models are usually the standard of beauty, but what about, Carina, beauty images for young women of color? I mean, should race and ethnicity even also be factored in?
CRUZ: Definitely. I mean, growing up as a young woman of color myself and also dealing with weight issues and also the fact that I have naturally curly hair, I've never really seen girls like me in magazines, and that's always been really tough for me as well as other girls that I've known who are like me as well. I mean, that's what we're trying to get the media to do, to break out of the mold that is what they believe beauty is, which is basically white and skinny, straight blonde hair. You know, we're trying to get them to go farther with it and show a more diverse array of models.
KAYE: You'll both be high school seniors this fall. We all know those four years can be very challenging emotionally and physically. How have you each been personally affected? I guess Corinne was sharing a little of her story there, but Emma, let me hear from you why you look at these images that have been in the media, how do they affect you?
STYDAHAR: Well, I used to read "Teen Vogue" when I was in, like, fifth grade, and I just remember flipping through those pages and thinking to myself, wow, I wish I had her legs, I wish I had her waist, and never thinking, wow, she kind of looks like me, like, I feel really good about myself. And then switch to lunchtime where me and my friends, it would be a group of girls sitting around a table and no lunches on the table, no food at all, because we just didn't eat lunch because we were so affected by these images in the media.
KAYE: Yes, because Corinne, I mean, that's what you think you're supposed to look like, right? If that's all you see.
CRUZ: Exactly. And especially since, like, these girls who are in the magazines who are already skinny, and then you have the media using Photo-Shop to make them look even more perfect, I guess you would say. I mean, the fact that we see these girls who we already perceive as perfect based on what society says, the media uses photo-shop once again to perfect them even more, making regular girls that look like me and Emma or people in our high school class feel worse about themselves.
STYDAHAR: If I could add on to that --
KAYE: I want to share something with you before we go on. I want to get your reaction from this Dove ad. It's from 2006, but it shows how Photo-Shopping transforms models. And I just want to be clear, this ad was not about "Seventeen" magazine, but take a look. It's about modeling in the world in general. And it was released when you both were, you know, 10 or 11 years old. Why do you think it's taken the industry so long to respond, certainly the magazine industry?
CRUZ: Well, really, to be honest, like, a lot of publicists like to say that this is what sells, and people keep buying it and buying it because this is what society tells them is right. And that's basically what we're trying to do, is that we're trying to say this isn't right. We need to break out of this mold and not allow the media to tell us what beautiful is. I mean, we can see what beautiful is just by looking in the mirror.
STYDAHAR: Yes, it's really been so normalized by our society, and we're so glad that people are starting to take action and to fight against it. And for any of your viewers that want to join the cause, they can visit change.org/teenvogue and sign our petition.
KAYE: I mean, you realize how much of a voice you're giving, you know, young girls and anybody who might be struggling with their body image or an eating disorder, or anything like that. I mean, you really have the power here to make a difference.
CRUZ: I mean, it's not very often that teenagers are really taken seriously and really heard, and we're glad we're given this opportunity to be able to do this.
KAYE: Well, you are two reasons why teenagers should be taken seriously and should be heard.
CRUZ: Thank you.
KAYE: Loud and clear. Carina Cruz, Emma, thank you for what you're doing for al young girls watching this morning.
CRUZ: Thank you so much.
STYDAHAR: Thank you.
KAYE: Running on low -- the Red Cross says the number of people donating blood is way down. But one group who could help out isn't being allowed. So, is it time to lift the blood donation ban on gay men? We'll talk about it.
KAYE: The U.K. has done it, so have several other nations. So is it time for the U.S. to lift the ban on gay men donating blood? We'll discuss it just ahead.
KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye, bottom of the hour now. Here are some of the stories that we're working on this morning.
Much of southern Russia is being inundated by deadly flash flooding. At least 78 people have already died and others are unaccounted for. Two months of rain has fallen in just two hours, triggering mudslides. This is the Crasnodar region, a popular tourist destination on the black sea. Russia will host the 2014 winter Olympics right there.
The intense heat, which has broken thousands of temperature records across the Midwest, will hit much of the east and mid-Atlantic states today. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington could see triple digits, tying or breaking records. Millions of Americans, nearly half the country, will swelter through another scorching day.
At Wimbledon, the women's final is under way. American Serena Williams facing Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Williams took the first set 6-1 and is up three games to two in the second. Williams is going for her fifth Wimbledon singles title.
Do you give blood? Sure, it's not easy for everyone with those needles and all, but it's a pretty important thing to do. About 95 percent of the population will need donated blood at one time or another. But listen to this -- the American Red Cross says power outages created by storms in the east and Midwest cut blood donations which were already low this summer. In fact, donations were down more than 10 percent across the country last month.
You might not know it, but there's actually a group not allowed to donate blood, despite the shortfall. That group is gay men. If a man has had sex with another man even once since 1977 he cannot be a donor. The rule's been in place since the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic decimated their community.
Joining me now to talk about this is Arthur Caplan, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Congressman Mike Quigley, who is pushing to have this ban re-examined. Good morning to both of you.
ARTHUR CAPLAN, BIOETHICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Good morning.
KAYE: Art, let me start with you on this.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY, (D) ILLINOIS: Good morning.
KAYE: Take us through what happens to our blood after it's donated. I mean, is all blood tested for HIV and AIDS?
CAPLAN: Well, the first thing that happens is you get asked a series of questions to try and rule out people deemed at high risk, and gay men are part of that. Then, all the blood that's donated is tested for a variety of diseases like hepatitis, HIV, even rare diseases like Chagas disease. Most importantly, the blood is almost always pooled together. You don't really keep it in one-pint units that are the donations. You mix it up. And so, the fear is you've got to be careful about safety because you're combing blood, and so, you could expose a lot of people if only one donation is infected.
KAYE: And congressman, I understand you're working with Senator John Kerry and more than 60 other politicians to get this ban re-examined. What is the goal? Is it a less restrictive ban or no limits at all?
QUIGLEY: No, I think it's a less restrictive ban. Remember, the technology's changed so dramatically and blood screenings in the last 27 years, and we know so much more about risky behavior. Remember that what we're proposing is a nuanced change to this ban so that gay men are allowed to give donations. This is also supported by the American Medical Association, and by the way, the blood banks. The blood banks themselves have said this lifetime ban is medically unwarranted.
KAYE: Art, did this ban at one point make sense, at one time?
CAPLAN: It did at one time. Way back at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, we really had a terrible impact on people with hemophilia who rely on blood products every day. Their population got decimated by AIDS, just a kind of holocaust among that group. We didn't have good, reliable tests at that time. In fact, we didn't even know what we were looking for at the start of the AIDS epidemic.
But it doesn't make much sense today, because, as the congressman said, we have very, very good testing now. Saying that you can't donate if you've had male-to-male sex since 1977 doesn't make a lot of sense today. It did then, doesn't now.
KAYE: So, do you agree with the red cross, that a year off between sex with another man, Art, should be sufficient?
CAPLAN: Absolutely. You know, a number of other countries are already going this route. Italy, Spain, Britain, Australia, Japan, they haven't encountered any problems.
I think this is important for viewers to understand, Randi, the biggest threat they face today is not safety in the blood supply but having blood there when you need it. We don't have enough blood. People aren't donating blood enough. Some in this group want to donate. You're more likely to get into trouble because there's no blood to give you than you are because of any safety issue given the testing that's available today.
KAYE: And in terms of the numbers, congressman, allowing gay men to donate would really help solve the donation problem. If you look at the numbers, more than 53,000 additional men would likely make more than 89,000 blood donations?
QUIGLEY: Absolutely. I mean, this is a matter of life and death, and we're turning away over 50,000 healthy men who want to donate blood. It makes absolutely no sense. It is very rare that we can solve a discrimination problem at the same time we're solving a public health problem. KAYE: But whether the ban is a month, congressman, sticking with you here, whether the ban is a month or a year or a lifetime I mean, isn't it still discrimination of some sort?
QUIGLEY: Well, I think the discrimination isn't against -- currently, discrimination is against gay men. I think the nuance here is that people who engage in risky behavior, whether they are gay or straight, their blood should not be allowed into the supply. But you know, we all know many, many gay men who are in long-term, monogamous relationships, who practice safe sex. Gay or straight, people who are in those relationships, people who practice safe sex, people who are healthy should be allowed to donate.
KAYE: And correct me if I'm wrong, but heterosexual people donating blood are not asked these questions about their risky behavior.
QUIGLEY: Well, not in the same manner, and I think that's unfortunate. I mean, a straight person who has unsafe sex with multiple partners can give blood, and that creates a greater risk than a gay person in a monogamous relationship.
KAYE: I want to share with you. We did reach out to the U.S. department of health and human services and were told that in march, they requested information to obtain information about blood donations from gay men, but, quote, "No decision has been made yet to proceed with the pilot." Art, what do you think, is it enough that they just might study this?
CAPLAN: Well, you know, I was chair of the advisory committee on blood safety and availability for the country in 1999 to 2001. We were trying to change the policy then and we thought we had enough evidence to make a recommendation of change. So, we're already more than 10 years out. I'm not sure you need to study this anymore. What you need to do is open your eyes to the reliability of testing, to the shortage of blood that's out there that puts all of us at risk, to realize that if you want to be on the very, very, very safe side, put in a one-year ban instead of this 1977 one-time ban. I think that will serve the public health best, and I think the time to change, as other countries are doing, is now.
KAYE: Congressman, I'll give you the final word.
QUIGLEY: And we have to remember that Health and Human Services, spurred by our letter, has acknowledged that its process now is "suboptimal," something only a government bureaucracy could say. In the meantime, we need a blood transfusion every two seconds in the United States. We need to solve this problem.
KAYE: Yes, "suboptimal" doesn't cut it when the need is that great. Congressman, thank you very much. Art Kaplan, nice to see you as well.
CAPLAN: Thank you.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
KAYE: And if you want to read more about this story, you can visit our home page at CNN.com.
In 2008, Barack Obama rocked the vote with young people, but fast- forward to 2012 and it is a whole different story. A good percentage of the youngest voters say they are at least considering voting for Republican Mitt Romney. Is it the economy, a lack of jobs? We'll jump into the discussion with two experts from both parties.
But first, a look at what people are reading at CNN.com this morning. The most popular story right now, that shooting in Ohio overnight that left four people dead. Police believe the deaths are connected to a man who later drove to a cemetery and killed himself. Folks also reading about that possible internet blackout that could hit thousands of Americans Monday, all because of that vicious malware we've been telling you about all morning.
And the third most popular story on CNN's news pulse this morning, the California Senate okaying funding for a new high-speed rail. You can check out CNN.com for much more on these stories and others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our generation is less connected with this election than they were in 2008, primarily because in 2008 most of us were first-time voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: In 2008, the grassroots effort to elect President Obama was in large part due to the enthusiasm of young voters, but a recent "New York Times" article suggests voters in the 18-22 age range are at least considering voting for Romney due in large part to the struggle to find employment.
According to the bureau of labor statistics, at the end of June the unemployment rate for 18 and 19-year-olds was 23 percent. For ages 20 to 24, it was 14 percent. So, will this be enough help to help Romney capture more of the youth vote? Let's bring in Amy Holmes, former CNN contributor and anchor of Glenn Beck's GBTV, also Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor.
Maria, I'm going to start with you this morning. Historically, voters in the 18 to 24 range tend to be more liberal. They certainly helped Obama in 2008. Do you see this as a big issue, as the article is certainly suggesting?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I certainly think that this age range, the voters in this age range are still more liberal, and I believe that Obama will still win them by a healthy margin, but there's no question, Randi, that there is a tremendous challenge here for the president, and not just in this age group, I think in all age groups and in all demographics, given that the economy is so challenging and the recovery has been sluggish.
So, there is no question that right now these young voters, especially the 18 to 24-year-olds, grew up in, as the article states, in a time of recession. They might have seen their families struggle. They might have seen their families lose a job. So, they probably won't be as enamored with this president as the millennials were. And probably a lot of them still are, with this president, in terms of his message.
CARDONA: But there's no question that Romney does have an opening here. It just depends on what his message is going to be to these young voters.
KAYE: Amy, certainly the Romney campaign has been hammering Mr. Obama's economic policies are not working for young people. Does it seem to you that that message is resonating?
AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, GBTV: Well, I saw the good news in this article, that young people care more about -- more than who they're having sex with, who's giving them free condoms and staying on their parents' health insurance until they're 26, that they have bigger ambitions for themselves, like getting a job and having independent success. And I think Mitt Romney is clearly trying to reach them through that message.
But let's also look at historically about young voters. In fact, Ronald Reagan won the youth vote very handily during the '80s. Alex P. Keaton from "Family Ties," he wasn't the anomaly. He was the norm when it came to young voters in the '80s. Democrats picked up the young voters from Bill Clinton on until Barack Obama, and President Obama at this point, he's very dependent on those young voters to win reelection. So any slide in popularity and slide in voter turnout among this age group is really bad news for President Obama.
KAYE: A recent CNN/ORC poll at the beginning of this month shows a double-digit lead among young voters for the president. Maria, what do you think Romney has to do to try and sway those younger voters?
CARDONA: Well, I think the challenge for Romney here is that he really doesn't have a message for these young voters in terms of job-creation and in terms of all the other issues that they care about. Let's remember that they still lean very liberal. They care about the environment. They do care about health insurance, and I think that being able to stay on their families' health insurance until 26 now not only gives them peace of mind but it gives their parents peace of mind, and they feel that.
So, I think that Romney's challenge here is what is the message that is going to resonate with these young voters? And Obama still has a very robust and aggressive grassroots peer-to-peer campaign that is, I think, going to be unmatched by the Republicans. So, it just depends on what his message is, and right now I don't see it resonating, but there's no question that there is an opening now the way that it did not exist in 2008.
KAYE: Amy, can Romney, can he energize these young voters, do you think? HOLMES: He may be able to make some gains with young voters. But again, Romney doesn't need to win with young voters. President Obama does. That's President Obama's coalition. And I think we've seen that strategy play out from the HHS mandate with birth control, Sander Fluke, you remember the war on women.
When you look at those young voters, what you're also looking at are single, young, college-educated men and women in that age group, and the Obama campaign has been focused on them. But you look in 2008, had they been dedicated to those 45 and older, John McCain would have won.
So looking at the coalition Mitt Romney needs to put together, if he looks at the George Bush roadmap, he doesn't need those young voters. It was those young voters that had a higher -- rather, the U.S. census found it was that group of voters that had the uptick in voter turnout among all age groups. They went from 47 percent to 49 percent turnout in 2008, 18 to 24-year-olds, and, of course, a huge percentage was for Obama. That's where he needs to be targeting his message. And if it's slipping, if those voters have become disenfranchised -- or disenchanted, rather, with this president, he's in trouble.
KAYE: I think we'll have to leave it there but certainly an interesting discussion that's going to be very interesting to see what happens and which way these young voters decide to go in just a matter of months. Amy Holmes, Maria Cardona, thank you both. Enjoy your weekend.
CARDONA: Thank you so much, Randi.
HOLMES: Thank you.
KAYE: This weekend the city of New Orleans is playing host to a party with a purpose. Still ahead, we'll go to the big easy for a behind- the-scenes look at this year's Essence music festival with Fredricka Whitfield.
KAYE: The Fourth of July celebration has come and gone, but for folks in San Diego, California, it may have gone too fast, try 20 seconds. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos to tell us the story in a bit more than 20 seconds.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're looking at fireworks where the fire worked, just not the timing.
MOOS: It really rocked San Diego.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god! Look at that!
MOOS: All of the fireworks intended for an entire 20-minute show went off at the same time. It was over in under 30 seconds. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. This has made this year's illustration.
MOOS: You know, it's always hard to tell when a fireworks display is over. You're always asking, was that the finale? Was that it? Same here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was it!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe that was everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That wasn't supposed to happen, was it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they just set them all off at once?
MOOS: You bet you. Garden State Fireworks, a company famous for its shows, says the snafu may have been caused by a corrupted file, resulting in a computer glitch that launched every single firework. Garden State's co-owner, August Santori.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I could un-ring a bell, but I can't.
MOOS: At least un-ring the car alarms.
The short but intense show was a disappointment to some but not all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was not expecting that! That was awesome!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a good start. You don't often see the grand finale at the beginning.
MOOS: On the internet, they call this an epic fail. Too bad it happened too late to be included in this, the ultimate fireworks fail compilation set to music.
MOOS: At least no one was hurt in the San Diego blowout. The coast guard had a technical term for the fireworks fiasco.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A "premature ignition."
MOOS: Leading one poster to quip -- "I swear to you, this has never happened to me before." Even after the fireworks were spent, the music played on. In the land of the free, feel free to cheer premature ignition.
Jeanne moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
MOOS: New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America!
KAYE: Well, in case you think television reporting is oh so very glamorous, take a look at this. A reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the air, live. It's coming. I know it's coming. That's right. All right, well, we'll show you when we come back.
Apparently, you will see what we're about to show you, and you should stick around for it, because it's quite interesting and it involves a cat and a reporter. That's all I'm going to say.
KAYE: Well, as I was telling you, in case you think television reporting is very glamorous, take a look at this. A reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the air live. Yep, there you see it, when this little kitty decided to jump on her shoulder, digging in the claws. Both are certainly surprised. Reporter later tweeted "Learned my lesson. Never make eye contact with a cat before going live." Yes, lesson learned, for sure.
Well, if you're in the Big Easy this weekend, there is only one place to be, the 2012 Essence Music Festival. This year, visitors are being treated to performances from superstars like the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, and Chaka Khan. But the event also seeks to empower those in attendance.
Joining me now with more on that part of the story is Fredricka Whitfield.
You are on site, Fredricka, in New Orleans, and you spoke with an actress who is also a parent advocate, working to prevent bullying among girls, certainly a topic I know I'm passionate about. Tell us more about that.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, yes. I mean, this is really a fascinating set of panels that they have going on here. Of course, like all the music and the musicians that you just mentioned are here in the essence music festival, but they have some incredible empowerment panels.
I just spoke with an actress you probably know from "Without a Trace." Well, coming up this fall, she has a new movie called "Won't Back Down," and it really is about education reform. She's a mother of two, going to school right here in the United States. She has an own personal observations about the frustrations and the real things to celebrate about the educational system here in the states.
So, she's going to be part of a panel today to talk about how it's so important that education systems at schools continue to encourage their parents to be as involved as possible, because there are so many different measures of success, children who do much better when they know that their parents, essentially, have their back.
So many parents feel like, you know, they're bearing the burden already of going to work, trying to figure out daycare, et cetera, and may be a lot more detached in their kids' education. She's going to try and encourage more of that to be taking place.
I also spoke with Vanessa Williams and her mom, Helen Williams. They have a book out together called "You have no Idea," and that discussion was really about the genuine jewels that come of a mother- daughter relationship. They talk about everything openly in the book, about the trials and tribulations from 30 years ago, hard to believe, when she was the reigning Miss America, the scandal that came about, why she had to give up her throne six weeks before her throne would ordinarily be passed over to the next winner of Miss America.
For a long time, you know, she talked about how she wanted to avoid talking about that scandal, but along the way, she's learned that it's really the tapestry of her career. It gave her the fortitude, the persistence, and it really is a story of family involvement and how she was able to continue to succeed. So, all of that and more straight ahead at Essence fest. Back to you, Randi.
KAYE: All right. Sounds like a very interesting festival, great conversation and great music as well. Fredricka Whitfield, thank you.
And there is, of course, much more ahead in our next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING, which starts after this quick break.