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Security a Big Topic of Conversation in New York; How Did a Relatively Small Ad Purchased by Group of Veterans Have Such an Impact?

Aired August 25, 2004 - 09:30   ET


HEIDI COLLINS: CNN ANCHOR: It is just about half past the hour now, 9:30 that is, on this AMERICAN MORNING. Security is a big topic of conversation here in New York as we talk about the convention. We're talking about Tom Ridge, who is in town to review some of those security measures in place. We're going to get a complete report, though, in just a few minutes on what police expect at the GOP convention.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: And this city's going be jumping, starting Saturday in fact. In a moment, Jeff Greenfield also looks at those Swift Boat ads against John Kerry that are one of the hottest topics of discussion today on the campaign trail. How did it all begin? And where does it go from here? We'll look for some answers in a moment.

COLLINS: It's gotten pretty convoluted, hasn't it?

Carol Costello, standing by now at the CNN Center with what's happening in the news at this hour.

Hi, Carol.


More work is being done in Russia this morning to figure out why two jetliners crashed within three minutes of each other. The flight data recorders have been recovered from both sites now. According to Russian media reports those records are now being sent to Moscow. Some 89 people were aboard the two planes. Officials say they have not found any survivors.

COSTELLO: The son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is expected to make a court appearance today after being arrested in South Africa. Mark Thatcher was detained earlier this morning. South African sources say he is accused helping finance a possible coup plot in the West African country of Equatorial Guinea.

Nearly 500,000 people have been forced from their homes as the 18th typhoon of their season struck the southeastern coast of China today. The storm, packing nearly 90 mile-per-hour winds, pounded Taiwan and Japan yesterday, leaving nearly a dozen people dead or missing. That typhoon struck China in nearly the same area just last month, killing 164 people.

And thousands of people in Paris are remembering World War II this morning. These pictures are just in to us. French President Jacques Chirac taking part in the ceremony. Today marks 60 years since Allied forces liberated the city from Nazi occupation. Parisians were asked to wear a 1940s scarf for the swinging bee-bop party that will start in just a few hours.

Back to you, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Carol. Thanks so much.

As we just mentioned moments ago, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in New York City today, evaluating things before Monday's start of the Republican National Convention.

Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is outside Madison Square Garden now with more.

Jeanne, how are things looking?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, lots of police out here in the streets today, and I'm sure there were lots of police down on Wall Street today, where as you mentioned, Tom Ridge rang the opening bell. And he was met with some protesters there, probably just the first taste of what's to come in the days ahead. He is here to review the extensive federal state and local security plans that were put in place. He will be visiting the multiagency command center that will run the operation. And also he'll be visiting Madison Square Garden.

Now, the federal presence here in New York is likely to be much smaller than it was at the Democratic National Convention. That's because of the huge size and capabilities of the New York City Police Department. The NYPD has been practicing its crowd-control tactics and techniques with stand-in demonstrators, because as you know, hundreds of thousands of real demonstrators expected here in New York in the coming days. Many of them expected to have agendas which could include disruption and violence, but the New York City Police Department, Ray Kelly, says his department is ready.


RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have a lot of experience in dealing with large demonstrations, large events. The police really are experienced in facilitating these types of events. But if people break the law, we're going to deal with it. We're going to arrest them. The court system is ready to receive large numbers of people, if that's necessary.


MESERVE: The New York City Police Department is particularly concerned about the possibility of vehicle-borne explosive devices, and so they will be deploying around Madison Square Garden portable sally ports. This allow them to contain a vehicle while its undercarriage is being searched for possible concealed explosives. But there is no specific intelligence, Heidi, that terrorists are planning to strike the Republican National Convention, though, of course, general concern about the threat level. Back to you.

COLLINS: All right, of course there is. Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much -- Bill.

HEMMER: Heidi, there's a Kerry campaign adviser telling CNN that Vietnam veteran, former senator out of Georgia, Max Cleland will try to deliver a letter today to President Bush in Texas, asking him to denounce ads attacking John Kerry's service in Vietnam. Big question throughout the morning for us today also, how did a relatively small ad purchased by a group of veterans from Vietnam have such an impact in this campaign?

Here now with analysis, our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

And good morning to you.

Start in the beginning. What gave this thing such a punch?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, you got to start with a retired admiral named Roy Hoffman, who previously had praised John Kerry's service, but in a book "Tour of Duty," by Doug Brinkley, he comes off very, very negatively, portrayed as a bloodthirsty leader. That got him very angry.

He, in turn, helped reach out to a group of Vietnam veterans who had long been angered, not about what John Kerry did in Vietnam, but when he came home, made that famous testimony in 1971 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talked about war crimes.

And they gathered about $500,000 to buy a relatively small amount of advertising time in three battleground states. That's where it started.

HEMMER: So we now know the book, we know the TV ads on three spots, but why the attention at this point?

GREENFIELD: One of the big reasons is us, the 24-hour a day cable news network, much of which are a news of mix and political debate, many barred from talk radio. Some of the better-known figures in this universe have very strong political opinions, and an argument that Kerry was not, in fact, a Vietnam war hero was very attractive, to conservatives particularly.

But in the cable news world, our world, as you know, Bill, it's 24 hours a day; it's an endless mob that has to be fed, whether it's a murder trial -- you may have seen one of those, too -- or political controversy. These are the dog days of August, and so this argument about what Kerry did was given kind of fuel by this very media.

HEMMER: Now Republicans would come back and say, but John Kerry helped invite the scrutiny because he made it an issue, especially in Boston during their convention.

GREENFIELD: Look, I think it is fair to point out, independent of the swift boat ads, whose accuracy about Kerry have come under withering fire in the press, but it's true, that John Kerry made his Vietnam experience the centerpiece for his argument for the presidency.

You remember the Democratic Convention, the first Democratic National Committee after that convention quotes Kerry's speech. I defended this country as a young man, I'll defend it as president.

And by the way, one reason why an earlier ad questioning President Bush's National Guard Service never got that much pickup, is that for obvious and very good reasons, Bush has not exactly put that National Guard Service out as a major reason why he should be president. Kerry has said, you can trust me to be commander-in-chief because of Vietnam. There are Democrats who think that that has gotten him off message about chaining the country.

HEMMER: So then, do we have a sense just yet of how long this story sticks with us?

GREENFIELD: Well, we know the swift boat veterans raised about $1.7 million. They're putting about $600,000 into three more battleground states with their new ad, which attacks not Kerry in Vietnam, but the testimony. And I'm sure cable news will be beating that one to death.

But I think with the Republican National Convention around the corner, and with the president stressing that he second-term agenda, because the country isn't quite clear what that is. This may fade, unless the Democrats can get traction with the argument that this was all part of an underhanded dirty tricks campaign encouraged by the Bush campaign. That might be in the Democrats' interest now to keep going, but I think maybe this is going fade off the radar screen.

HEMMER: We will see on Monday, starting Monday anyway, with the Republicans come here.

Thank you, Jeff.



HEMMER: There are lots of winners and losers at the Olympic Games in Athens, but who knew one of the losers was a restaurant chain. Did you?


HEMMER: Neither did I. Andy has that, Minding Your Business" in a moment here.

COLLINS: Plus, Ellen DeGeneres is about to get some almighty powers on the big screen. "90-Second Pop" coming your way in a moment.



COLLINS: OK, so if you weren't awake yet, you are now, right? It's time now for "90-Second Pop." And joining us today, Sarah Bernard from "New York" magazine.

Good morning, Sarah.


COLLINS: Andy Borowitz, humorist for

Andy, hello.


COLLINS: And comedian Jessi Klein, contributor to VH1.

Good morning to you as well.

Sarah, I want to start with you. I love this movie, "Oh, God," with George Burns way, way, way back.

BERNARD: It was made back in 1977.

COLLINS: There's a remake coming out. Your thoughts are?

BERNARD: Well, they're casting Ellen DeGeneres as God this time, which I think it is so perfect that God is a talk show host. Don't you think? I mean, of all of the people they can pick...

COLLINS: And female.

BERNARD: And female, and you know, there are a lot of reasons, and lesbian, which is very different role from the way that God used to be. But I really think that what's great about this is one of her first monologues, the one that actually got Johnny Carson to ask her to come from the stage to the couch, it was a phone call to God. It was this bit that she used to do.

And so, she's been having these kind of God bits in her work forever. So, it's really appropriate. It comes full circle. And now she actually gets to be the God on the other end of the phone.

COLLINS: But it's a pretty tough act to follow, is it not? George Burns?

BOROWITZ: And who will play the John Denver role? That's neat, because I thought he was pivotal to have made that movie work.

BERNARD: Oh, (INAUDIBLE) I don't know.


BERNARD: I think Matt Damon. I think maybe it will be Matt.

BOROWITZ: Matt Damon, OK, there you go.

BERNARD: It's really all about George Burns. I don't know. I think it's really all about Ellen DeGeneres being in that movie. The other guy is secondary, don't you think?

KLEIN: I think any casting that pisses off the Republicans on down with seeing a lesbian play God...

BOROWITZ: There you go.

KLEIN: ... I think that's definitely going to get under their skin.

BOROWITZ: There you go.

COLLINS: All right, let's talk about, Andy, Alan Alda.


COLLINS: He's going to be joining "West Wing." Apparently there have been some ratings issues as of late. Do you think he'll be able to revive the momentum that they at least had?

BOROWITZ: You know, no one loves Alan Alda more than I do, but this has a whole kind of scrappy do-feel about it to me.

COLLINS: A scrappy do.

BOROWITZ: It feels more like Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch."


BOROWITZ: So, I just feel like it's a little too late. I do think it's kind of funny, though, when Hollywood, it's like he's playing a Republican, a conservative Republican, and so Hollywood is searching around for someone to play that. So who do they find? Alan Alda. Just perfect casting for that role.

BERNARD: And who is a liberal guy.

BOROWITZ: This will really test his acting chops, I think.

COLLINS: Right. Who do you think, though, would win between President Bartlett and Alan Alda as this conservative?

BOROWITZ: Well, you know, it's going to be an ugly campaign, because I was actually turning on the TV the other day, and the Swift Boat Veterans are now attacking Martin Sheen. So, it's getting incredibly messy, I think.

KLEIN: But at least Alan Alda has a whole series to prove that he did indeed serve in Korea. So there's not going to be any question to how they...

BOROWITZ: Exactly.

BERNARD: Well, I mean, it's so (INAUDIBLE) not think of Hawkeye Pierce, though.


BERNARD: I really think it's going to be an adjustment. I don't know. Well, maybe he'll come in, in his, like, you know, medical garb one time and you'll be like all right.

COLLINS: And then you'll remember. All right, Jessi, let's talk about this remake news, The Wayans brothers...

KLEIN: Very important news.

COLLINS: ... reviving "The Munsters."


COLLINS: Tell us about that.

KLEIN: Apparently the Wayans brothers -- Keenen, Marlon, and Shawn I want to say -- came up with the idea to remake "The Munsters," the classic TV series.

COLLINS: Does this need to be remade?

KLEIN: That's an excellent question.

BOROWITZ: We don't have -- 90 seconds is not enough time really to answer that.


BERNARD: Absolutely.

KLEIN: Not enough time! All I'll say is this is the story. Apparently they came up with the idea to do this while they were filming "White Chicks." And I think anything that was conceived during the production of "White Chicks" I don't have high expectations for.

BOROWITZ: You know, when "The Munsters" first came on the air, there was this whole novelty about seeing this family of weirdoes, but we have the Jacksons now. And this feels -- it feels redundant to me.

KLEIN: Weirdo families are (INAUDIBLE).

BOROWITZ: Yes, the "Gottis," dare I say?

COLLINS: All right, you guys, thanks so much for that. I could say something about weirdo families, but I won't.

Nice to have you with us, Sarah, Andy and Jessi -- Bill.


HEMMER: All right, Heidi. Thanks for that. Quick check of the morning market action right now, and a popular restaurant chain in this country losing the Olympic spirit, or just losing to the Olympics perhaps.

Andy's back here "Minding Your Business."



Let's talk about the market, first of all, what's been going on. Well, oil prices are going back up. That's bad news. Durable goods orders are positive. That's good news, but it looks like the bad news is winning out, if you follow. And I think the market is down 3 1/2. There we go. Boy, did I call that. That's pretty good. That's talent.

What's moving this morning? H&R Block is under pressure. The stock is down almost $3, has a big loss in its mortgage business. Higher interest rates doing the trick there.

Let's talk about Applebee's. Interesting situation there. The company kind of reporting a weakish profit picture this morning. And what they're blaming it on? The Olympics. They're saying people are watching the Olympics and not coming to -- Come on, come on.

HEMMER: It's the feta cheese.

SERWER: Yes, right, very good.

I mean, I've heard people blaming the weather. I've heard of companies blaming SARS. I've heard of them blaming 9/11. This is just a new one, blaming the Olympics. Don't they have TVs in Applebee's?

On the other hand, the stock has been a real winner, and it's basically doubled over the past three years.

And here is some Applebee's trivia for you all. Began in what city? You don't know.

HEMMER: St. Louis.

SERWER: No, that's wrong. It began in Atlanta in 1980. And it was called "T.J. Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs." Those are drinks. Good thing they shortened the name -- 1,585 restaurants today. So over that period, they've gone from 1 to 1,500, a real success story.

HEMMER: You mentioned oil -- 45 bucks a barrel, 46 about there?

SERWER: Forty-five plus. And lot of speculators in the market right now. There are no shortages of oil anywhere in the United States or in the world. There's no shortages of gasoline. A lot of games being played on Wall Street, a lot of people buying and trading, and you'll see the price go down a little bit bit.

HEMMER: All right, thank you, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

HEMMER: In a moment here, looking at our "New You" update, Kimberly Everett about six months ago wanted to lose weight. She had to give up a lot to do it, though. Does she still have the willpower now in August? We'll find out in a moment.

Back after this.


COLLINS: Want to check in with Jack one last time now and the "Question of the Day."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: All good things must come to an end, and it will now.

The "Question of the Day" is: Has the swift boat controversy changed your mind about John Kerry?

Jeffrey in Navarre, Florida: "The swift boat debacle has definitely changed my view of John Kerry. While I can't say for certainty that John Kerry falsified records, it did tell me a lot about him. Three Purple Hearts in four months speaks volumes. John Kerry is either the unluckiest man in the world or one of the dumbest. Either way, not the type of guy you want leading your country in a time of war."

Tony in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: "If the American public was allowed to focus on the issues, the Bush supporters know that he would lose worse than Hoover. They have to keep the focus on the past because they have no record worth running on."

And Donna in Florida writes: "Yes, the ads have impacted my views of Kerry. I like him even less, not because of what I heard on ads, but because of his whining about them. The president didn't display such a lack of class regarding that fat man's propaganda movie."

I think they're talking about Michael Moore, and the movie might be that "Fahrenheit 9/11." That fat man's propaganda movie. That's Donna writing that in Florida. Those aren't my words.

SERWER: He's weight challenged. He's weight challenged.

HEMMER: Thank you, Jack.

We are halfway through AMERICAN MORNING's "New You" six-month checkup. All week long, catching up with our five viewers who made the "New You" resolution back in February and January to feel better and get fit.

COLLINS: Better and fitter.

HEMMER: Yes, fitter. COLLINS: Today, we're going to look at our youngest "New You" participant: 25-year-old Kim Everett. She used to call herself Miss Fat Booty. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now from the CNN Center with an update on all of this.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, she doesn't like it when we call her Miss Fat Booty -- remind her of that. But she started her resolution really to fight her family history of diabetes and to fit into her skinny jeans once again.

Let's see if Kim continued to achieve her goals even after "New You" ended.



GUPTA (voice-over): She loved fried catfish and daiquiris...

K. EVERETT: There's definitely no daiquiris in there. I can barely eat a daiquiri now.

GUPTA: ... and hated working out. So, she dedicated herself to the "New You" to prevent diabetes, a family disease. Her sister Toya had her doubts.

TOYA EVERETT, KIMBERLEY'S SISTER: We'll all be shocked at Kim eating a salad instead of something fried.

GUPTA: We checked up on Kim at one of her three jobs. She's now a local band promoter on top of her PR and retail sales jobs. Here's what she had to say about "New You."

K. EVERETT: Got my family asking me why am I eating daiquiris for (expletive deleted) dinner every night. I still do drink them, but not like that. I can't give up chicken fingers, but I don't eat them a lot anymore. (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: Did we turn Kim and Toya anti-fried...

K. EVERETT: Why does it ultimately (ph) got this greasy feeling to it?

T. EVERETT: I think it's fried. It has to be fried.

GUPTA: ... and pro fruit and veggie?

K. EVERETT: We have no desserts. No desserts.

T. EVERETT: No desserts. No alcohol.

GUPTA: Even with some sips and slips...

K. EVERETT: No, I didn't get a chance to work out today, but I probably will tomorrow.

GUPTA: ... those 10 pounds she lost in January never came back. And more were lost on Toya.

T. EVERETT: I lost four pounds last week.

GUPTA: Will they stick with it?

T. EVERETT: I'll try, but I think Kim will. Because once you get down and you're back in those old jeans, which she loves...


T. EVERETT: ... they're definitely a reminder of where you want to be.


GUPTA (on camera): And there you go. You know, it's interesting, because she really does have a pretty good balance now. She goes out. She drinks every now and then. Still gets to the gym and has kept those 10 pounds off. Living the dream in Atlanta there, guys.

HEMMER: Just like you.

COLLINS: Yes, yes, always like you. And you know, it is really good to see her doing so well and keeping to this regiment. But lot of people might say, jeez, why do I want to start a resolution at this time of year, halfway through?

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting, because people think obviously think about it with the new year, but any time of year is a good time to start a resolution. People tend to think of spring, for example, as being a time of cleansing.

But if you're going to do it, here's a couple of tips: commit yourself to it; surround yourself with people who are going to help; and have clear goals and realistic goals -- even if a camera isn't following you.

COLLINS: That's for sure.

HEMMER: Yes, even if. What's up for manana, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Tomorrow, we're going to catch up with our pack-a-day smoker. A lot of people interested in her -- Kathryn Burkholder. She managed to call it quits during the eight weeks of the "New You," but has she managed to put it out for good? Listen, she had some surprises for us. We're going to share those surprises with you tomorrow.

Also, be sure to join us all week long on AMERICAN MORNING for our "New You" six-month checkup to find out who kept it up and who dropped the ball. Stay with us.

HEMMER: All right, good deal. Sanjay, see you tomorrow.

Also, for our viewers at home and online, log on to for more of the "New You" six-month checkup. Check it out there online -- right now, in fact.

Coming up next hour here on CNN, if you're buried under a mountain of debt, don't wait to dig yourself out. Next hour, five tips on how to manage your money and manage your problems with money before they sabotage your future. Daryn has that on CNN LIVE TODAY.

We are back on AMERICAN MORNING right after this.


HEMMER: Pick me up, too, Jack. Good.

CAFFERTY: How we doing?

COLLINS: I think we're back.

SERWER: I think we're on.

HEMMER: Are we now? Is what they say -- a stand by?

CAFFERTY: That would be a clue, that...

HEMMER: Yes, we got to run.

SERWER: Louie, Louie, we gotta go.

HEMMER: Yes, here's Daryn Kagan at the CNN Center, taking you through the next hour.

Hey, Daryn. Good morning. Don't mind us...

COLLINS: Hi, Daryn.

HEMMER: ... we're just talking among ourselves.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's all right. This is the part where you can go talk all day.

HEMMER: See you later.

KAGAN: Good to see you guys made it back from all the places that you were.

COLLINS: That we were.

KAGAN; Yes, all over the place.


HEMMER: Thanks, Daryn.

KAGAN: We'll see you tomorrow.


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