tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 9, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
on our friday night broadcast, moment of truth for newt gingrich. can he with stand the attack he's now undergoing into a crucial weekend? nothing doing. tonight the outrage over this modern day do-nothing congress and a look at what's still not done as they skip out of town for the weekend. on the move in search of jobs. tonight the road warriors descending on one american city hoping to land the hottest holiday temp job in the nation. and making a difference on the home front for this nation's wounded veterans and their families. some real r & r and it's on the house. some real r & r and it's on the house. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. there are just 25 days to go until the iowa caucuses. that's when the campaign season becomes real for a lot of people. and it's getting real rough in the normally polite republican party. newt gingrich is surging. he's ahead in national polls. he's ahead in iowa and south carolina and florida. that makes him a very big target right now. there is at least one other candidate in this race who feels this ought to be his, and that's mitt romney. there are a lot of other republicans willing to line up and stand up against the former house speaker. it means saturday's debate will be interesting. it means the next 25 days will be interesting. we've got it all covered tonight beginning with our political director chuck todd in washington. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. on the eve of the first debate with newt gingrich as the frontrunner, the anti-newt drum beat is growing louder and more personal. a washington-based super pac supporting mitt romney is saturating iowa a tonight with
this new ad attacking frontrunner newt gingrich on multiple fronts. >> newt has a ton of baggage like the fact he was fined $300,000 for ethics violations. >> reporter: this follows a week of attack as by former and current members of congress. starting with george will who wrote gingrich embodies the vanity that makes modern washington e repulsive. david brooks in the new york times, he would severely damage con timpl and the republican party if nominated. today, peg noonan, he is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin saying, watch this. many who served with gingrich are working against him. >> there are people in washington who have worked with newt and who know newt for better or for worse who feel quite frankly we have an obligation to talk about what our experiences are. >> reporter: tom cole, neutral in the gop race explains the collective anxiety. >> the speaker, you know, is a pretty polarizing figure on
occasion. not just in the broad political sense but personally. >> reporter: gingrich this week has responded to the attacks u unapologetically. >> i wasn't there in a cleej yal job. i was there as the leader and my job was to drive-thru change on a scale washington wasn't comfortable with. >> reporter: rush limbaugh believes the more the party regulars attack the stronger gingrich gets. >> republican primary voters are finally saying to the establishment we're not doing it your way this time. >> reporter: you know, the challenge for gingrich of course, brian, is turning these insider attacks to his advantage. and there is some evidence that it might work. >> of course watch ron paul in iowa among other things. chuck todd starting us off in our washington bureau. chuck, thanks. also in washington tonight, the moderator of "meet the press," nbc's david gregory. david, as the commercial says, newt gingrich does have a lot of baggage, but this is not his
first rodeo. it is however a big test for him. >> a big test. how does he with stand all of that ad money that's coming his way? all of the criticism as chuck just reported? and also the debates. he'll be a target in the way he hasn't been before. he's got a reputation for fighting back. can he be disciplined enough not to, to keep it positive like he said he was going to do and rely on the fact that there will be conservative voters who don't care too much about the baggage in his past but will remember him as a change agent. can he keep that discipline up? >> what about mitt romney in the meantime? >> he has got to drive this contrast. ideology, temperament, leadership. who's the real conservative? it boils down to romney being able to say to the country, look, newt gingrich is a revolutionary. i'm a leader. he creates theories. i create jobs. that's the kind of attack you're going to hear from romney as we move forward, brian. >> we'll watch "meet the press"
on sunday. david gregory from our washington newsroom tonight. thanks as always. meanwhile on capitol hill across town the house of representatives was in session for two minutes today before leaving for the weekend and they leave a lot of unfinished business as the year winds down. some folks have revised the old harry truman rallying cry when he ran against the do-nothing congress back in 1948. it worked for him. our report tonight from nbc's kelly o'donnell. >> reporter: despite a very long to-do list, congress left washington for a long weekend. >> i wish we were still here in session having these kinds of debates. >> reporter: urgent unfinished business that affects every working american on hold. >> don't go home, speaker boehner. we're going to be here and you will be embarrassed before the american people if you do. >> reporter: today house republicans did make public their plan to extend the payroll tax cut that speaker boehner had touted thursday. >> i think this is a bipartisan
proposal that the president ought to endorse. >> reporter: today the president was unmoved. >> any closer to a deal on the payroll tax cut today? >> merry christmas! >> reporter: another president, harry truman, gave this kind of washington gridlock a do-nothing nickname back in 1948. >> this republican do-nothing congress toward labor. >> reporter: history repeats outdoes itself. this congress's workload falls short. the house passed 326 bills. the senate, 368. the fewest since 1995. >> by any reasonable historical standards has been extremely unproductive. few days in session. few votes. few measures passed. >> reporter: senate republicans say democrats are responsible for the throw pace. >> president and the senate that would rather spend their time doing cheap political theater. >> reporter: among the unresolved year-end fights, money to keep the government
open runs out next week. long-term unemployment benefits are about to expire. medicare doctors will take a big pay cut unless congress prevents that. and that payroll tax automatically goes back up, on average about $1,000, unless congress can find a way to agree. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, washington. overseas tonight, we're just hours away from what could be the start of the largest street protests in russia in decades and they will be targeting vladimir putin who a lot of russians blame for widespread fraud and corruption in national elections this past weekend. elections in which his own party managed to hold onto power after protests erupted earlier this week putin turned his anger on the u.s. blaming hillary clinton and a cold war of words. nbc's stephanie gosk has more tonight from moscow. >> reporter: this week in moscow, thousands of protesters faced off against police.
russia without putin and putin is a thief, they shouted. rare public defiance following prime minister vladimir putin's surprisingly weak showing in the parliamentary elections. even hillary clinton was critical prompting putin to blame her for the unrest. but the alleged fraud was all over the internet. youtube videos like this one. an election official is confronted after he appears to be filling out multiple ballots. human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since monday. but the opposition plans another big protest tomorrow. yvegenia is now a political activist. i have small children, she told e me, this country has gone downhill and it's mr. putin's fault. a software developer says he
wants change. >> all of the government structures are corrupted from the -- from up to the very low down. >> reporter: from the top to the bottom? >> by law, putin had to step down in 2008. he will run for the job again in march. protesters like these hopefully can stop it. the white ribbons are the new symbol of their movement. the party handed out hundreds tonight. the ribbon says against the party of crooks and thieves. so far, more than 35,000 people have signed up on facebook to join tomorrow's protest. the government has approved the demonstration, but not here in revolution square where the opposition wants it. already there are splinter groups saying they will break off and come here anyway, even if it means getting arrested. >> reporter: security forces are getting ready for what could be russia's largest political since
the fall of the soviet union, 20 years ago this month. stephanie gosk, nbc news, moscow. it was nearly five years ago that an american who was once an agent for the fbi vanished in iran. well, today an emotional video surfaced, released by his family here in the u.s. and apparently sent by his captors. as our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell report it raises new questions. >> please help me. >> reporter: it is the first public glimpse of retired fbi man robert levinson since he went missing years ago. before he was smiling, healthy, a father and grandfather. he appears gaunt as he makes a heartbreaking cry for help. >> my beautiful, loving, loyal wife christine and my children and my grandson. and also for the united states government. i am not in very good health. i am running very quickly out of
diabetes medicine. >> reporter: the family received the tape a year ago but put it on their website only today. fearing the investigation had gone cold and wanting to appeal directly to the kidnappers. >> i am sending this message because we need to know what you want our family to do. >> reporter: when he vanished levinson was on an island off the coast of iran. his family says working as a private investigator on a cigarette smuggling case. the tape offers conflicting but tantalizing clues. wedding music is heard in the background indicating he could be in afghanistan, not iran. but the tape was delivered to a pakistani internet server. was that to confuse the fbi? last year i asked is iran's president ahmadinejad about levinson. is he alive? >> i should ask this question. i don't know. how can we know that. >> reporter: tensions with iran are rising. >> the fact we have not heard anything from the iranian government makes one conclude they probably don't have him in
captivity. >> my hope is to get him home this holiday season so we don't miss any more family events or celebrations, christine levinson is certain her husband is still alive, clinging desperately to hope and a hostage tape now one year old. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. there was a terrible fire today in india. it took place at a hospital. emergency workers made frantic attempts to evacuate patients. in some cases pulling them through windows on upper floors. tonight, 89 people there are dead. government officials are accusing the hospital staff of at one point abandoning the patients as the flames engulfed the building. six hospital administrators are now facing homicide charges. some progress to report in europe's struggle to get its economic house in order. after marathon overnight negotiations, all but one of the 27 members of the e.u., the european union agreed today on a new treaty including new rules
limiting countries' abilities to run up debt. germany and france leading this effort, trying to calm the debt crisis that's rocked markets all the way here to the u.s. one big holdout, great britain, decided not to join because of new rules that would be placed on its financial industry. still ahead on a friday night as we continue, why the population of one american city has suddenly gotten so much bigger. lots of folks living in r.v.s, tents, you name it. it's all about getting a paycheck at the end of the week. and later making a difference on the home front. with a great idea, time off for some of america's wounded warriors. nyquil (st uffy
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janet shamlian in kentucky. >> reporter: the camping season is long over in campbellsville, kentucky, yet the campgrounds are packed. nay aren't here for the great outdoors. these travelers have come to work. >> the pay is really good. it's above minimum wage. they pay overtime. financially for us it was a good way to make some quick money. >> reporter: an hour from the closest interstate, campbel campbellsville lured families with the promise of an early christmas gift, a job. >> it's quick money for christmas. an easy way to get in and out. >> reporter: with a distribution center here amazon.com hired more than 600 seasonal workers, full-time but temporary jobs the town of 10,000 couldn't fill from within. for the past few holiday seasons, in come the campers from families with children to retirees. >> it's a three to four-month convention.
these people are here eating in restaurants. they need medical services. they are shopping in retail stores. they need camper repair. >> reporter: adding dollars to local businesses in a struggling economy. for most of the workers here this is area lifestyle, hopscotching around the country in search of a paycheck. when the job ends here in kentucky in a few weeks the campers pull up stakes and move on. deborah and mark pinson traded a three-bedroom house for an rv. they now travel the country from job to job staying in work countries rent-free. >> well, the rent was $1800. we pay zero here. >> reporter: benefits for those willing to travel in search of work. >> there are jobs out there. you have to be willing to look for them. >> reporter: mobile job hunters in a season of tough times. janet shamlian, nbc news, campbellsville, kentucky. up next, if you know anyone
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a new report out tonight says 517 moon rock samples are either missing or stolen. only 12 people have ever been to the moon and while those six moon missions brought back 842 pounds of rocks and dust, a lot of them were simply loaned out or given away or borrowed over the years. check your sock drawer. nasa said it will improve its controls. they don't think what it called national treasures are at risk of being lost for good however. speaking of the moon, if you're an early riser look in the sky saturday morning to see the last lunar eclipse of 2011. west coast viewers have it best. consult your local listings. after this the next total lunar eclipse visible from the u.s.
won't be until spring of 2014. geologists on the big island are warning hawaii's kiluaea volcano could have violent explosions at any time. the main concern of course the 5,000 people a day who visit the lava flows and volcanic rock. u.s. scientists are saying it's hard to predict when it will enter its next explosive phase. we lost one of our colleagues today and because he brought so much of our work to you over the years we wanted to make sure you knew about our friend alan harding. in short his job was to get us on the air from anywhere in the world from war zones to olympic games to royal weddings. alan was born in the uk in the aftermath of world war ii. after a brief and unexplainable career as a hairdresser, he thankfully turned to television. he loved his family, his co-workers, food, fishing and a pint now and then. but you name it, he got it done
including finding strawberry ice cream for an anchor man who was craving it in kuwait while cruise missiles were passing overhead. our friend alan leaves behind a wife and a son. he was 62 years old. we'll take a break. we're back with our making a difference report right after this. th wholegrain fiber can do. one coffee with room, one large mocha latte. medium macchiato, light hot chocolate hold the whip, and two espressos, make one a double. she's full and focused! [ barista ] i have two cappuccinos, one coffee with room, one large mocha latte, a medium macchiato, a light hot chocolate, hold the whip and two espressos, one with a double shot. hehe, that's not the coffee talking. [ female announcer ] start your day with kellogg's frosted mini-wheats cereal. the 8 layers of whole grain fiber help keep you full so you can avoid the distraction of mid-morning hunger. no thanks, i'm good. the doctor leaned over and said to me, "you just beat the widow-maker." i was put on an aspirin, and it's part of my regimen now. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor
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we're back and it's time for our friday making a difference report. it's about a very generous american couple reaching out to military families offering wounded warriors some well earned and much needed r & r. here is eamon muyadin with our making a difference segment. >> reporter: it's something that was needed but one this family of six couldn't afford. they spent a week at a lodge tucked away in the mountains of stowe, vermont, and it was free. >> totally no cost to us which is amazing. we were in the baghdad area. >> reporter: four years ago a roadside bomb left edmunds with traumatic injuries. now he's getting a much needed vacation arranged for him by a couple he's never met. >> they have sacrificed greatly.
>> reporter: chris and peggy carr, both former marines, started vacations for veterans in 2007 matching vacation homes to purple heart vets. >> it's for wounded veterans who need an opportunity to reconnect. >> reporter: the picturesque scenery at these locations is a far cry from the horrors of the battlefield. making the time here more about vacations. it's also about healing. >> a vacation is e restorative. vacation homes are in beautiful places and it restores your soul. >> reporter: this is one of nearly a thousand donors. >> i like to try to provide things for people maybe they wouldn't be able to do themselves. >> reporter: she guaave a week her timeshare to david lind who lost both legs in iraq. >> to have the opportunity to go as a family is important to reflect on where we are and what's important. >> reporter: thomas green and
his family spent a free week at a vacation home in orlando, florida. >> these are moments my kids are going to remember for a lifetime. that's priceless. >> reporter: the carrs have spe sent more than 200 families on vacation. >> able to be with family away from the stress of everyday life is huge. >> reporter: giving wounded veterans a holiday and a time to heal, nbc news, stowe, vermont. >> learn more about vacations for veterans. we have more on the program on our website, nbcnightlynews.com. for us for now that's our broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thanks for being with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with you this weekend. we'll look for you right back here monday night when we'll be joined by ted koppel and chelsea clinton prior to their reports monday night on "rock center." have a good weekend. monday night on "rock center." have a good weekend. good night.