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AMERICAN MORNING

Kerry's Big Night; Missing Utah Woman; Baby Food Tampering

Aired July 29, 2004 - 8:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Perhaps no suspense in Boston, but still plenty of spectacle. The roll call vote now making John Kerry the president on the Democratic side. John Edwards brings his message to the convention, delivering in distinct contrast to another primetime speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What John Kerry and I believe is that we should never look down on anybody. We ought to lift people up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President -- in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: our vote is not for sale!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: And now today the convention moves to the main event. John Kerry gets ready to take the stage to deliver the speech of his political life.

That story and much more this hour ahead in Boston on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: This is AMERICAN MORNING. From the Democratic National Convention in Boston, here's Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Good morning. Welcome back, everyone. Nine O'clock here in Boston. Welcome back to the FleetCenter here.

This is the night that thousands of Democrats from all across the country have been waiting for. John Kerry accepts his party's nomination later this evening in primetime, making his case to be the next president. Expect to hear a lot about his military service, and some of the veterans he served with in Vietnam will be on that podium with him tonight.

Also, former senator, Vietnam veteran, Max Cleland, introducing Senator Kerry tonight. And last evening, Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, the featured speaker of the evening. We'll talk about how he did based upon his performance. And also look at Reverend Sharpton's speech as well, raising some eyebrows here in Boston. Also today, we'll hear from New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, and former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. She is here as well in Boston.

Also, talk about the youth vote with P. Diddy. He has a whole new effort out. We'll talk to him about that and whether or not people are listening to it on the political side.

Also, Heidi Collins in New York.

Good morning again, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Bill and P. Diddy. Looking forward to that one, Bill.

HEMMER: How about that?

COLLINS: Thanks so much.

Other news this morning as well. A new report coming out in the August 9 edition of "People" magazine will delve into the home life and the marriage of Lori and Mark Hacking. There's some interesting information. We'll talk to the managing editor of "People" and find out what the magazine has learned.

We are also watching this, flooding in the Dallas area. You're looking at some live pictures now from WFAA there. We're learning 13 inches fell in the last 12 hours, an enormous amount of rain there. And more expected in the days to come as well. We're hearing from Rob Marciano on that, and we'll get the latest.

Meantime, Jack again.

Hello.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello.

E-mail "Question of the Day," what does John Kerry have to say tonight to convince undecided voters that he, Senator Kerry, is the man for the job? Am@cnn.com. We'll read some in a bit.

COLLINS: Very good. Thanks, Jack.

And Bill, send it back to you in Boston.

HEMMER: All right, Heidi. Thanks for that.

Indeed, Jack, talking about that very issue later tonight. That is essentially what everyone here in Boston has been waiting for throughout the week. The stakes set last night, though, by John Edwards. He brought his message of optimism here. Here's Bob Franken this morning with us again live.

Bob, good morning.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill. And I suppose it can be put this way: you've heard the rest, now it's time for John Kerry's test, time for the big finish.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN (voice-over): Finally, tonight is John Kerry's night. Come to think of it, it's been John Kerry's week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ohio takes great pride tonight in being the state to put this voting over the top in making John Kerry's candidate official as we cast 159 votes for the next president of the United States, John Kerry!

FRANKEN: So with battleground state Ohio putting him over the top, presumptive nominee John Kerry is now official nominee John Kerry, who is joined at the hip by John Edwards and preceded as main speaker last night by Edwards, saying what he says best.

EDWARDS: What we believe, what John Kerry and I believe is that we should never look down on anybody. We ought to lift people up.

FRANKEN: It was a good night for the Edwards family. Good times all around.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: In two days we will celebrate 27 years of marriage...

(APPLAUSE)

E. EDWARDS: ... the way we always do. We'll do it the way we always do, at Wendy's.

FRANKEN: Who would have known, the convention with a commercial for a hamburger restaurant? And one speaker who tried to shred the Republican president, or even suggesting he should get African- American support.

SHARPTON: Mr. President -- in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: our vote is not for sale!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: Well, John Kerry is going to try to sell himself tonight, define himself for the nation outside this hall so the Bush candidacy does not -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Bob. Thanks for that, high above the FleetCenter.

Back here on the floor now, speakers here at the convention trying to polish John Kerry's image on national security and the war on terror. Those are central issues in this campaign, and highly respected political figures are as divided on this issue as the voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: As somebody who has been involved in foreign policy my whole life, this international situation is a mess. That's a diplomatic term of art. And it requires new leadership. And so I think this is something that we need to discuss in front of the American people, and make clear that John Kerry is the right leader to be able to protect America.

In Afghanistan, for instance, I think we need to make clear again that that is a priority. That's where the terrorists came from. And basically, the security situation there is bad. Drugs are back. Huge sales of drug -- opium coming out of there.

On Iraq, I think it will require us to try to get more help. And no matter what the Bush administration is saying, they do not have enough international assistance, and the U.N. can't do its job because they don't have security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: John Kerry would work "tirelessly" to deal with intelligence and to deal with the recommendations of the September 11th Commission. Well, you've got to look at what people do, not what they say.

John Kerry was on the Intelligence Committee for a large part of his career in the United States Senate. He missed 38 out of 48 meetings. He was absent for them.

John Edwards has been on for a short while. He's missed four of eight meetings of the Intelligence Committee, even since September 11. So this interest in saying that they're going to prosecute the war on terrorism as effectively as President Bush certainly is belied by -- by the way in which they've acted in the past.

President Bush, on the other hand, announced his purpose of destroying to the best that we can global terrorism, saying it would take four or five years to do it, and sticking with it when it's been popular and sticking with it when it's been unpopular, which is really the sign of a really true leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Rudy Guiliani and Madeleine Albright both guests earlier this morning here on AMERICAN MORNING.

The lineup for later tonight on stage, Madeleine Albright will be there, Wesley Clark, a former challenger to Senator Kerry. Joe Lieberman at one time a challenger as well. He is on the stage. And, of course, John Kerry is the -- is the featured speaker.

His acceptance speech goes down sometime around 10:00 local time, 10:00 Eastern Time here in Boston. It is the moment that everyone in this town, and, for that matter, everyone paying attention across the country has been waiting for. We will see how he does later this evening, a little more than 12 hours from now.

Much more in a moment in Boston. Heidi again in New York now.

COLLINS: All right, Bill. Thanks.

Salt Lake City police spent another night searching a landfill looking for clues in the disappearance of 27-year-old Lori Hacking. It's been 11 days since her husband Mark reported her missing. But he quickly became -- became a person of interest to the police in this case.

By all accounts, Lori and Mark had a great relationship and were looking forward to a future in North Carolina. But suddenly that picture changed. This week's "People" magazine features their marriage. Elizabeth Gleick, assistant managing editor of "People" magazine is here now with us this morning.

So this article, as we said, is an in-depth look, particularly at their marriage. What did your reporters uncover?

ELIZABETH GLEICK, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, what's so interesting about this case, of course, is that the minute she disappears, everything her family and his family thought they knew about Mark Hacking has turned out to be not true. And so even though he hasn't been -- I mean, it's not even a homicide officially yet. He's not a suspect. But everybody has to reassess what they knew about this -- what they thought was a loving couple.

He was supposedly incredibly romantic. He would lay long-stemmed roses across her plate when he cooked her dinner. They -- they met in high school on an outing. They were together for years. They were about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. And suddenly it just seems like a pile of lies.

COLLINS: And also pregnant, five weeks pregnant.

GLEICK: Right, which -- which she had been, of course, delighted about.

COLLINS: Yes. Now, I know that you had -- the reporters had a chance to speak with both families.

GLEICK: That's right.

COLLINS: Are they still United?

GLEICK: Yes. The two sets of parents are still United, but they're also clearly grappling with the mystery of this case, and the mystery of Mark's -- Mark's deceptions.

COLLINS: Yes. How did "People" magazine get a hold of these photos, though? I mean, you guys really had a chance to -- to get up close and personal with the families.

GLEICK: Well, we really have a very strong reporting effort going on in Salt Lake and around the country. I mean, this is -- this is a really interesting story. It has echoes of Laci Peterson.

COLLINS: We're looking at some of them now on the screen, yes.

GLEICK: Right. And -- and at the moment, at least, the families, because they are trying to figure out what's going on, are very open to speaking with us.

COLLINS: Tell me a little bit about this spinal injury. This is something that I hadn't heard before. Obviously in your work, you guys have found out that he, Mark, had an accident at a construction site.

GLEICK: That's right. "People" found out that in 1997, Mark had some spinal surgery. Then after he recovered, he had a construction accident. He fell, he hurt his back, and according to his parents, he started suffering seizures after that.

And his -- one of his parents said, "He turned inward, and perhaps he was having problems that he stopped sharing with us." And it's an interesting point, because you sort of wonder if he were to be charged in a murder, would this become the groundwork for a defense, that -- that he's not actually right in the head in some way?

COLLINS: Yes. And in piggybacking off of that, the parents have also said that, you know, they're starting to blame themselves for not noticing these behavioral changes in Mark.

GLEICK: That's right. It's very touching when you think about it. I mean, the parents are wondering what could possibly have gone so wrong that their son never graduated from college, he lived this elaborate charade, and he didn't -- wasn't accepted at medical school.

They were planning a move to North Carolina. And none of it was true.

COLLINS: Elizabeth Gleick, thanks so much for the insight look.

GLEICK: Sure.

COLLINS: "People" magazine article coming out. Very good. Thanks, Elizabeth.

It is just about 10 minutes past the hour now. Time for a look at some of today's other news and Daryn Kagan.

Hi, Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Heidi, good morning once again.

For that, we begin in Iraq. Word of a three-day extension in a death threat deadline against two Jordanian truck drivers being held hostage. Their captors are calling on their employer to stop working with the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, two Pakistani hostages have apparently been killed in Iraq. Family members are accusing the Pakistani government of not doing enough to secure their release. Gerber says it has removed all jars of its banana yogurt baby food from southern California stores. This after FDA test results showed that three jars of the product tested positive for traces of castor bean. That is a source of the poison ricin. No one was hurt in the incident, and no arrests have yet been made.

Another accidental Internet posting in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case. This time, Bryant's DNA test results and the name of his accuser were part of a sealed file that temporarily surfaced on a court Web site yesterday. The accuser considered dropping the case at least twice in the past when similar mistakes were made by the court.

And in weather, the Dallas area has received a massive amount of rain overnight. Up to a foot of rain fell in some parts of the region, flooding roads and damaging hundreds of homes. One motorist was killed when his truck knocked over a utility pole and the live wires fell onto his vehicle.

The forecast calls for, unfortunately, for even more rain. Perhaps Rob Marciano can tell us more about that. He is in this week for Chad Myers.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: In a moment here, the brothers Reagan into a bit of a spat here in the Northeast over who is really representing the interests of their father. "Political Pop" tackles that a bit later this hour.

And John Kerry's spacesuit, what does Dick Cheney have to say about that?

And the hip-hop and fashion mogul, Sean P. Diddy Combs, entering now the political arena. We'll talk to him live in this arena, the FleetCenter.

See you ahead this hour on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: California police want to question a man about a case of tampering with baby food. Two southern California babies were exposed to food contaminated with ground-up castor beans, the basic ingredient in the deadly poison, ricin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF DAVID MAGGARD, IRVINE CALIFORNIA POLICE: Two incidents involving the tampering of jars of baby food occurred in Irvine earlier this year. The first occurred May 31, when the parents of a 9-month-old infant found a note in a jar of Gerber banana yogurt dessert that made reference to an Irvine police officer. The note stated that the fruit had been contaminated and that the person who ingested it would die in a short time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Neither child became sick, and no other jars have been found. But Gerber says it is removing all of its banana yogurt dessert from southern California stores.

Police want to talk to a 47-year-old Charles Dewey Cage, but they are not calling him a suspect. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas joins us now from Anaheim, California, with more on this.

Good morning to you, sir. Thanks for being here. You know, this happened...

TONY RACKAUCKAS, ORANGE COUNTY CALIFORNIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Good morning.

COLLINS: ... first in May, and then again in June. Why is it being made public now?

RACKAUCKAS: Well, we just learned yesterday that -- from the Food and Drug -- from the Food and Drug Administration that the baby food was contaminated with this castor oil that contains ricin, which is a -- which is a poison. So as soon as we learned about it, about the contamination, we -- we decided that it was important to -- to let the public know, because the person who did this is still -- is still out there.

COLLINS: That's right. And that person is, again, Charles Dewey Cage.

RACKAUCKAS: Well, we're not -- we're not saying that Mr. Cage is the person who did it. Mr. Cage is somebody who we believe to be a witness. He was in the store at a time relevant to putting this -- this material on the shelf. And we think he knows about the incident.

COLLINS: All right. Can you tell us any more about him? They say, as you said, that he was in that area. Anything more that the police are going on with him?

RACKAUCKAS: Well, that's pretty much it. We know he was in the store. And we know that he was -- that he's a witness to -- to what occurred. And so we want to talk to him about all of the different things that he knows, and who he might have talked to, and who he might have seen and so forth.

COLLINS: Any other leads in this case?

RACKAUCKAS: That's it. That's our -- that's our lead.

COLLINS: All right. We want to make sure that we put out the statement that Gerber has released. Let's go ahead and do that here, reading part of it to our viewers.

"We have been informed by the authorities that Gerber was not a target and that the tampering occurred post-production. We have been told that this isolated case is connected to one product, banana yogurt dessert, in one store in Irvine, California. The product in question was removed from the shelves at the time of the incident." Are you confident, sir, that as Gerber indicates, this is an isolated incident?

RACKAUCKAS: Well, you know, like we said, I think that the difficulty that -- that I have is that the person who did it is still -- is still out. He's still on the loose. And so, you know, we need to get -- we need to get a hold of him and try to make sure that he -- that there are no more incidents.

It's just one person, though, and it's one store. And it's one product.

COLLINS: All right. There was also something that they mentioned, quickly, about the pop that you hear when you open one of those cans of baby food. Gerber telling everyone to listen for that. But one of these incidents, the parent said that they did hear that pop.

RACKAUCKAS: Yes, that's correct. That pop doesn't guarantee that there's no contamination. So what we're recommending is that you get the baby food that has the plastic seal on it, and then when you take the seal on it, listen -- listen for the pop. And pour the food out into a plate or bowl, and take a look and make sure there aren't any foreign objects in it. Do all of the things that you can to be sure that -- that -- that the food is pure.

COLLINS: Of course. All Right. Tony Rackauckas, Orange County district attorney, thanks so much this morning.

RACKAUCKAS: Thank you. It's my pleasure, Heidi.

COLLINS: Bill, back to you now in Boston.

HEMMER: All right, Heidi.

To hear Sean P. Diddy Combs tell it, this election is a matter of life and death, and he has the T-shirt campaign to prove it. In typical P. Diddy fashion, he's doing something about it, too. Citizen Change is a grassroots effort to get younger Americans to the polls on November 2. P. Diddy my guest here now in Boston.

Good morning, Sean.

SEAN 'P. DIDDY' COMBS, CITIZEN CHANGE: Good morning. How are you?

HEMMER: Nice to see you. I'm doing just find. Your Switzerland. Your organization is neutral.

COMBS: Yes. Yes.

HEMMER: What's the intent for your program this year?

COMBS: The overall objective is to bring out the largest -- the largest outcome of youth and minority voters ever seen in an election. We're trying to educate, motivate and empower young people that have over the years been disenfranchised about the voting process. As you look around in the convention, there's not a lot of young people that are represented here in that bracket, 18 to 35.

HEMMER: I think you're right about that. I think that's a fair observation, too. Take this number from 2000.

COMBS: Yes.

HEMMER: The percentage of young people who voted was half that of older voters. Where is the appeal, or perhaps why is the appeal not greater for young people?

COMBS: It's very simple. If you -- if in your life, you need help in your life, and people are not talking about helping you, you're not going to keep tuned in to them, you know? You need -- you're going to tune in to people who are talking about doing something for you and making your life better.

But the only way that -- that we can make politicians accountable is if we get involved and we live up to our responsibility to exercise our vote. People have died for us to have the chance to vote. That's why we say vote or die.

People in the civil rights movement died for us to have this chance. And we have to get involved as young people and force politicians, force the candidates to start dealing with issues that deal with our lives. And ironically, this -- this election will be decided by this community of voters.

HEMMER: You believe so?

COMBS: I believe that...

HEMMER: If they turn out, though. Because historically they don't.

COMBS: Well, we're going to -- I'm going to make sure they turn out, myself and organizations like Russell Simmons. And we have our own coalition of the willing, the young cultural leaders like myself, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Ellen Degeneres, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mary J. Blige. We've all come together to form an organization to get out there and to stop being on the sidelines and complaining about it, but to use our power to motivate people, young people, to empower them and educate them into the process.

HEMMER: If you take the message of John Kerry...

COMBS: Yes.

HEMMER: ... and if you take the message of President Bush at this point, where is the appeal in their platform, in their campaign, to get young people to turn out?

COMBS: I think -- I think they're starting to -- to switch the messages and bring young people into the fold. Because I think they're realizing that young people will be the deciding factor on who's the next president. But I don't think that at this point in time that they are truly speaking to young people.

They're taking the time to deal with issues that are dealing with them. And the only way we can force them to do that is by voting.

HEMMER: Show me your T-shirt. I've seen it before.

COMBS: Yes. This is the vote or die T-shirt. What we're doing right now is we're -- we're utilizing fashion, combining fashion and politics. We're bringing energy into this thing.

You know, some needed energy and passion into this to really rile up young people to get involved. And that's the one thing I can say, when young people get involved with something, they truly all coming together.

HEMMER: Will you be at Madison Square for the Republicans in a month?

COMBS: Yes, I will be going to the Republican convention. And I'm here to really, you know, educate myself and also really plead with these delegates to get involved with young people and start talking to them.

HEMMER: Good luck to you. Good luck to you.

COMBS: Yes.

HEMMER: Absolute pleasure meeting you.

COMBS: Yes.

HEMMER: Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs live in Boston.

COMBS: Yes. And you can get more information at citizenschange.com if you want any more information.

HEMMER: Excellent. Thanks again, OK?

COMBS: Yes.

HEMMER: Get a break here in a moment. Our first look at the film John Kerry's campaign has been working on to introduce their candidate later tonight. We'll get to that after a break here. A preview when we return in Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Time once again for Jack now and the "Question of the Day."

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Heidi.

Before we get to the e-mails, as Bill mentioned, CNN just got a hold of this film that the Democrats have put together that they'll use tonight as a -- as a way to introduce John Kerry right ahead of his speech. Let's take a little look at a piece of that film. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry saved my life. I'm forever grateful.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S WIFE: He really cares about fairness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I respect him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a big heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a tough customer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John's got a very deep sense of family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry was...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: They go on from there to kind of chronicle his young life, and a little biographical sketch. And then, of course, his big moment. And the heat is on him tonight.

He will have to do something presumably to reach the undecided voters out there. The question is, what's he going to have to say to help them make up their mind to vote for John Kerry?

Buck in Temecula, California, " I just want John Kerry to be genuine. The challenge here is to appeal to forgotten moderates like myself while not being obvious that he's trying to appeal to moderates. As an anti-war Republican -- yes, there really are some of us -- Kerry needs to tell me he's not going to tax me to death or change his mind 39 times on every issue, and I'll be just fine. Don't think I'm asking for too much."

Janet writes, "I'm from the independent thinking Pacific Northwest, western Washington State. Kerry must list what he will do. As a businesswoman, I like to hear step-by-step information, followed by how it will be accomplished. The old familiarity of what, where, when, why and how."

Doug writes, "In order to win the votes of the undecided, John Kerry must explain that it's better to keep learning and growing with an occasional flip-flop than to back yourself into a corner, where pride and arrogance become a substitute for something better."

And finally, Guillome (ph) writes, "I've noticed a lot of people are sick of Bush and wouldn't vote for Kerry because they think he's not tough enough about security and not capable of leading the war on terror. So I assume he will have to address this issue with strong conviction. In other words, Kerry will have to show the shoes he's walking in are not flip-flops."

COLLINS: Have heard that many times, haven't we?

CAFFERTY: Yes.

COLLINS: All right. Thanks so much, Jack.

And Bill, John Kerry hoping that that floor will be hopping tonight, isn't he?

HEMMER: You're right about that, Heidi. Yes, this is his turn, this is his chance to shine. And he's going to have the stage all to himself tonight, right around 10:00 Eastern Time.

John Edwards speaking last night. In a moment, did he shine as bright as many had hoped? We'll talk to that with our panel of reporters here in a moment. We call it "On the Floor." We'll get to it after this.

And "Political Pop" today. The final 9/11 report turning into a real moneymaker, but for whom? Back in a moment live in Boston and New York after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: And there she blows, the opening bell ringing on Wall Street now. The Dow Jones industrial average starts trading at 10117. That's up more than 31 points yesterday. Some good news there. And at the Nasdaq market site, the Composite Index opens at 1858, down more than 10 points.

We'll be back here on AMERICAN MORNING in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Well, it's nice here in New York. And we are very excited about that here. Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Coming up in the next half-hour, we're going to get a report on a possible terrorism case in Texas. Authorities detained a woman carrying $7,000, traveling on a South African passport whose name was on a terror list. We will have much more on that this morning. But for now, we send it back to Bill, standing by in Boston.

HEMMER: All right. Heidi, thanks for that.

We're getting some -- some images now, live pictures of Senator John Edwards addressing the delegation from his home state of North Carolina here in Boston. This on the heels of his address last night that we'll talk about in a moment again here. Again, the main event later tonight with Senator Kerry on stage.

Last night, Al Sharpton got the crowd going here. In his address, he went longer than he was supposed to, straight off the script, which is a bit different from the majority of speakers we've heard from so far this week, strongly criticizing President Bush along the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHARPTON: ... of America is that every citizen's vote is counted and protected. And election schemes do not decide the election. In all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: our vote is not for sale!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: During that speech last night, the crowd gave Sharpton seven standing ovations. But again today, the focus goes tonight, what's the story here in Boston behind the story, and what's our team chasing here in this town? We call it "On the Floor."

Say hello to our panel yet again this morning, John King, Kelly Wallace, Ron Brownstein. Good morning to all three here.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

HEMMER: What is the Kerry campaign saying about this speech (AUDIO GAP)?

COLLINS: Obviously having a little bit of trouble with our satellite connection to Bill in Boston. We're going to try to get it back now. Stand by. Be patient with us.

Bill, are you there?

HEMMER: We are here.

COLLINS: OK. Great.

HEMMER: Do you have us now?

COLLINS: Got you.

HEMMER: Excellent. Back to Kelly. Campaign from Kerry's side is saying what about tonight?

WALLACE: Mainly that he's got to tell a story, that he's got to go personal, that he's got to weave in his sort of personal experiences into what he would do on national security and economic policy.

Get specific on the economy, health care, and Iraq, but really kind of get a little more personal. How his personal experience would make him a strong commander in chief and leader.

HEMMER: How do they grade success, John?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They grade success by closing their biggest gap, which is the commander in chief gap. Right now, the American people, even though they think Iraq has gone South, give President Bush higher grades than Senator Kerry when it comes to even leading the war in Iraq or leading the broader war on terrorism.

They have to erase that gap. And they know it. Their goal here is to be the acceptable alternative.

They believe a majority of the American people have decided it is time to at least seriously think of having a new president, if not already decided to have a new president. That lowers the threshold for a challenger. But Senator Kerry has not stepped over it yet.

HEMMER: What are they telling you, Ron?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "L.A. TIMES": (UNINTELLIGIBLE) calculation they've made, not only in this convention, but over the last few months, is that they don't really have to bang the country over the head with a case for change. We never heard anything like that from John Edwards last night. It was much more a reassurance message that John Edwards and John Kerry are ready to step in for a country that they believe is ready for change.

I would just point out that as Iraq has moved out of the headlines, President Bush's approval rating is ticking up. And it's possible they may wake up a crisp day in October and wish they were a little harsher...

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: Take Iraq. What is the talk on the floor about the war, be it pro or anti? And in this case, largely it's well over 90 percent anti.

KING: And one of the dilemmas of this convention in that the delegates are overwhelmingly anti-war, Al Sharpton last night, Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy. When you say the war was misguided, when you say bring the troops home, these people go crazy.

You have two senators who voted to give the president authority to go to war on the ticket, and you have a platform that essentially talks about managing the war, does not criticize President Bush for going to war. And that is -- there is a disconnect between the nominees and the rank and file on the floor.

WALLACE: And here's something interesting also, John. Talking to delegates in Ohio, which put John Kerry over the top, such a key state, talking to the delegates, all they were talking about is the economy. I was talking to a union worker representing steel workers who are losing their jobs. He said -- I said, "Well, don't you want to hear more about Iraq, a plan to get U.S. troops out?" He said, "No, I want to hear about the economy, how I'm going to keep my job."

So it seems like, at least to some of the key battleground states, like Ohio, where they're not feeling the economy getting better, that's the key message for them.

BROWNSTEIN: He may surprise us, but four senior Kerry advisers told me yesterday -- four -- "Do not expect new details on where he would go in Iraq." I think the goal overwhelmingly is to attach the biography to the agenda.

That's what Bill Clinton did in 1992. He presented himself as the product and defender of the middle class.

What John Kerry has to do is give people a sense that he cares about the issues that he's talking about, that these are real commitments. And the way you do that is by trying to present it as the logical outgrowth of your entire career.

Bill, that hasn't been a great success in this convention. Not much discussion of John Kerry between Vietnam and today. There's a big gap in his life that they really haven't figured out how to make relevant.

HEMMER: We're out of time, but the guy from Massachusetts, John King here, you have followed the career of John Kerry ever since you were in diapers. I mean, listen...-

KING: Oh, great.

HEMMER: You live and breathe this stuff.

KUHN: Last week.

HEMMER: Last week, as a matter of fact. When you look at his ability to make a speech and connect to an audience here and an audience at home, how have you seen his progress or lack of it to this point in his campaign?

KING: Well, he is someone -- he is not known as a great orator, but George W. Bush is not known as a great orator. He's the president of the United States.

Senator Kerry is known as someone who rises to the challenge. He is a good debater, he will probably give a speech tonight that exceeds expectations, because they're pretty low. I don't really think that's the question, though.

The question is do the American people look at him and see a president? Because if they want a new one, that's the threshold he has to cross.

HEMMER: We've got to go. Enjoy tonight. John, Kelly, Ron, great to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: Heidi yet again here in New York -- or back in New York there.

Hey, Heidi. Good morning.

COLLINS: Hey. Thanks so much, Bill.

A woman is being held in a possible terrorism case. The woman was detained last week in Texas near the border with Mexico. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is in Boston following this story now for us this morning.

Jeanne, hello to you.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi.

(AUDIO GAP) because her name turned up in connection with an investigation of a terrorist act overseas, according to government officials. Now authorities are trying to figure out what she might have been up to when she was detained on July 19 at McAllen-Miller International Airport in McAllen, Texas.

According to government officials, agents of Customs and border protection detained this woman at a TSA checkpoint as she was about to board a flight to New York. A court affidavit reveals that there were several pages ripped out of her South African passport.

She did not have a visa to be in the United States, and there was not a stamp in her passport, indicating that she had entered the U.S. legally. In fact, the affidavit reveals that eventually she did admit to authorities that she had entered this country illegally.

Government sources also say she was carrying a lot of money, about $7,000. Most of it in U.S. currency. And the affidavit says she had an itinerary with her which indicated she had flown from South Africa to London via the United Arab Emirates and then later had flown from London to Mexico City.

Now, you put all this together with the fact that authorities have been concerned that terrorists might exploit the Mexican border, that they might recruit women as operatives, that they might hit in the United States in the run up to the election, and with the fact that South African officials have acknowledged that some of their passports may have fallen into the hands of criminal elements, and authorities say this woman is of concern. The investigation is -- is continuing, while she is being detained without bond. Authorities feel they have something here, they just don't know exactly what it is, according to sources talked to by CNN's Kelli Arena.

Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, I was just going to ask you about that. I'm looking here and they say that -- that charges probably will not change, but they are going to be looking at a broader range of possibilities. Any idea what that could mean, Jeanne?

MESERVE: Well, no. They're not being at all specific about that.

Right now, the charges against her include entering the country illegally, falsifying her -- her passport, and false -- and making false statements to agents. Those are pretty serious charges. That's one reason why she will be held. But clearly, they want to take a very careful look at this woman, particularly because of this watch list matter.

This is something of significant concern -- of concern. Excuse me. Let me erase that word "significant." Of concern for the people looking into this. COLLINS: Certainly. All right. Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much for that this morning.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour now. Time for a look at some of today's other news with Daryn Kagan.

Daryn, good morning.

KAGAN: Heidi, good morning to you once again.

We begin with a gruesome possibility out of Iraq. A Somali truck driver is being threatened with decapitation unless his Kuwaiti employer leaves Iraq within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, that report (AUDIO GAP).

COLLINS: Once again, we are having some troubles this morning. We want to go ahead and try to get those corrected as we wait for Daryn Kagan to see if she is with us once again.

Daryn, can you hear me now?

KAGAN: I heard you the whole time. I wasn't sure if you were hearing me. Did you -- did you get part of that?

COLLINS: No. Let's start at the beginning of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) story.

KAGAN: Let's go back to the very beginning, OK.

COLLINS: Yes.

KAGAN: Because it is an important story out of Iraq. And it has to do with the Somali truck driver. He was been taken hostage and he is being threatened with decapitation unless the company that he works for in Kuwait promises to pull out of Iraq.

There is also news on these Pakistani hostages. Reportedly, they have been killed by their captors. And Pakistani officials have condemned the apparent killings, calling them crimes against humanity that have damaged Islam.

There has been a three-day extension to death threats being made against two Jordanian hostages. Militants say they want the men's employers to stop working with the American military.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S. will be examining a Saudi plan to send Muslim troops to help fight Iraqi insurgents. Powell met today in Saudi Arabia with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. He says that the U.S. welcomed the Saudi plan but calls it preliminary. Also, Allawi accepted an invitation to come to the U.S. and visit the White House.

Finally, the nation's largest group of psychologists is backing same-sex marriage. At its annual meeting, the American Psychological Association says, "Keeping gays from marrying puts stress on them solely because of their sexual orientation." The group says that it studies also find that parenting effectiveness and children's psychological well-being are unrelated to parental sexual orientation.

And we do want to stick this one thing in from Alaska. Mount Spur, it's a volcano, it is showing signs of life. The last time it was active in 1992, that's when it left a layer of ash over Anchorage some 80 miles to the east.

Scientists say the number of tiny earthquakes taking place under the mountain indicate an eruption is likely within a few weeks. They're saying there are as many as 20 earthquakes a day.

Rob Marciano in for Chad Myers.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: In a moment here, it's the story of the incredible shrinking paycheck. Andy is "Minding Your Business." He has that in a moment, explaining that story.

Also, which political daughters make better campaigners, the Bush twins or the Kerry daughters? "Political Pop" straight ahead this hour.

Back in a moment live in Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Time for "Political Pop" now, convention style. On the left in Boston, Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers is here.

Good morning, Kirsten.

KIRSTEN POWERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning.

HEMMER: Holding the middle, from borowitzreport.com, you know him, you love him every day, Andy Borowitz. Jonah Goldberg, "National Review Online."

Good morning to you as well.

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE": Good to see you.

HEMMER: Andy, start us off here this morning. The first issue here with the Reagan brothers, Ron and Michael, a bit of a spat, publicly, too. They're not holding back on this about stem cell research. What do you make of this?

ANDY BOROWITZ, BOROWITZREPORT.COM: Well, it's very un-Republican to have a sort of public dispute like this. I think they could probably, you know, sort of take a leaf from the Bush twins playbook, because they're always very united. I think the only disagreement they ever had was where to go for ladies' night. But I think that's -- it's unusual.

(LAUGHTER) HEMMER: Ron Reagan voted for Ralph Nader, right?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I mean, that's -- and, Andy, that's the problem. It's not a Republican split, because Ron Reagan isn't a Republican.

He's been feeding off and disappointing -- he was feeding off his father's name and disappointing his father when his father was around. The media is using him to -- to tweak Republicans. It's all very unseemly, and Michael Reagan...

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: Do you think the Democrats got the mileage out of this they were looking for?

POWERS: Well, I don't -- I mean, I think they like say that he's just being used. When we're talking about stem cell research really being his primary thing is a little bit of a stretch. I mean, this is...

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: ... this is a serious issue. I mean, this is a serious issue. And this is clearly something that's near and dear to his heart because of his father being ill. So, I mean, they have a split, and people will disagree on this for ideological reasons. But...

GOLDBERG: My only problem with that is that when his -- that -- that Ron Reagan talked about how his father left him and wasn't around even before he got Alzheimer's, didn't get along well with his father. He's using his father's name to politicize an issue.

HEMMER: Wow.

GOLDBERG: I think it's repugnant.

BOROWITZ: Well, I'm holding the middle.

HEMMER: You are. Keep doing that.

Let's talk about the 9/11 Commission report, Jonah. Barnes & Noble says it's flying off the shelves. What is so attractive about this? The president said, what, it read like a mystery novel?

BOROWITZ: He said -- the president said it's his favorite put book since "My Pet Goat," actually. That was his exact words.

(LAUGHTER)

HEMMER: Jonah, go ahead.

GOLDBERG: Look, I think a lot of people are interested. I think it shows that the American public actually cares a lot about this.

Some -- some Republicans, some conservatives sort of downplayed the importance of the 9/11 Commission. But I think this proves that they were wrong. But at the same time, there's talk about where the profits should go and that sort of thing.

I think it's getting kind of bad that we keep talking about enriching these victims. Terrible thing what happened to them, but the Oklahoma City bombing people didn't get compensation. I think it's a wrong path to go on. We should stop it.

HEMMER: Where do you put -- where do you put the profits then? What is your suggestion?

GOLDBERG: Well, put it -- there are all sorts of wonderful causes out there. My understanding is that a private company contracted to do this. Private companies are allowed to make profits. Bad PR for them, though.

HEMMER: Let's talk about the kids here. We had the Kerry daughters here earlier this hour here on AMERICAN MORNING. The Bush daughters now taking to the campaign trail as well. How do you see this shaping up when the kids come out to help out dad?

POWERS: Well, I love in the "Vogue" article the Bush girls were in that the one piece of news that kind of got lost is that their favorite drink at Starbucks is soy lattes, which actually officially makes them Democrats. So...

(LAUGHTER)

POWERS: ... I think that they're just -- they're humanizing their dads. And, you know, it's a nice thing. And I think people are like, you know, enjoying getting to know them. And I think it was a really smart thing for Bush to bring them out.

BOROWITZ: I would check out this month's issue of "Mother Jones Magazine" because they have a fashion spread from the little known Nader twins. You really want to see that.

HEMMER: There's a story.

BOROWITZ: They haven't gotten a lot of juice, but they're awesome.

HEMMER: You're making news.

BOROWITZ: I am.

HEMMER: Good to see you.

BOROWITZ: It's on the crawl...

HEMMER: Enjoy the rest of your convention. We'll leave if there.

Kirsten, Andy, Jonah, thanks.

Heidi?

COLLINS: Thanks, Bill. Still to come this morning, Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business." We'll talk about a bad economic trend we haven't seen since World War II.

Stay with us here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Even the IRS felt it when the Internet bubble burst. And with that, and a check on the market, Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

Boy, that's for sure, huh?

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, indeed. A lot of stuff happening on the business front this morning. Let's get started, go to the Big Board, first of all.

Stocks on the move, and they're headed up, which is a good thing here. What's happening today? Exxon Mobile reported a second-quarter profit of $5.8 billion. Wow. That's a lot of money. That stock's moving. Dow Chemical says its profit's up 74 percent.

Here's some bad news from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, more bad news. They have just announced that the SEC has begun an informal investigation into the company's accounting practices. That stock is down sharply, as you might imagine.

Now, let's talk about what you were mentioning before, Heidi, which is the IRS income. The stock market bubble bursting. The story in "The New York Times," new data from the IRS showing that Americans' income dropped for two consecutive years, 2000 and 2002, by 5 percent from $6.35 trillion to $6 trillion.

Now, why is that significant? Well, it's the first time since 1953 that Americans' incomes have dropped at all. And the first time since World War II, when they began tracking this kind of data, that incomes have dropped two years in a row.

So we knew the stock market bubble was significant. We didn't know by how much. This is some new data that shows exactly how much money was lost. And actually, it's interesting, because people at the higher income spectrum lost more than -- on a percentage basis.

Just one quick other note here. Some sad news to report. Susan Buffett, the wife of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, has passed away this morning, died of a stroke in Cody, Wyoming. Just wanted to get that out there. Sad news.

COLLINS: All right. Andy, thanks for that.

Going to check in with Jack now and the "Question of the Day."

CAFFERTY: John Kerry's big night. What's he going to have to say to try to convince the undecided voter that he de man for president? Richard writes, "Kerry needs to offer the American people his real deal. He needs to provide specifics in a credible way on his foreign policy, especially in regard to the war on terror. He needs to draw differences between what his presidency would do and what Bush has done for the last four years without sounding negative."

That's no mean feat.

Greg in Marquette, Michigan, "If Kerry wants to sway the undecided voters, he needs to take a page from John Edwards' book and speak to people's emotions. Words like 'trust,' 'fairness,' 'honesty' and 'freedom' would do much to help people see the differences between the two candidates."

And James in Claremont, Illinois, "Five words, I must hear from Kerry, 'I ain't no girlie man,' followed by a manly growl for even suggesting it."

I ain't no girlie man.

COLLINS: Yes, that's good. All right, Jack. Thanks so much.

Our man on the convention floor will be there for it all tonight. Right, Bill?

HEMMER: Yes, you're right there. Yes, that's right, Heidi.

Coming up here on CNN, more coverage here from John Kerry's speech later tonight. Carlos Watson joins Daryn on "CNN LIVE TODAY."

Back in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Welcome back one final time here in Boston as we say goodbye and close out day four of our coverage throughout the week at the FleetCenter.

To my colleagues in New York, are you guys staying up tonight, by the way, for this speech?

COLLINS: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Are you coming back to work tomorrow?

SERWER: Ever?

HEMMER: I'm trying to read lips here. I apologize. I can't hear you for some reason.

Andy, is that a thumbs up or thumbs down?

SERWER: Yes, I'm watching. Staying up. I'm going to watch.

HEMMER: See you tomorrow. I hope Daryn can hear me at the CNN Center now. Hey, Daryn. Good morning.

KAGAN: Good morning. Funny how when we're giving Bill a hard time he suddenly can't hear.

(LAUGHTER)

COLLINS: Yes, you're right.

KAGAN: Funny how that works. "Oh, my ear piece is not working." Wow.

Bill, we'll see you tomorrow.

We'll see you guys in New York tomorrow morning as well.

Good morning from CNN headquarters in Atlanta. I'm Daryn Kagan. Let's check the headlines "Now in the News."

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