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Discussion with Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell; 'Paging Dr. Gupta'

Aired October 5, 2004 - 08:30   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, just about 8:30 here in Cleveland, Ohio. Welcome back, everyone. We're at the Cleveland Art Museum, a beautiful location, too, for our setup here on AMERICAN MORNING. Dick Cheney and John Edwards face off later tonight on prime time. And of all the states on the electoral map, Ohio, the Buckeye State, one of the most important to both campaigns in election 2004, while we are here, we'll talk about Ohio and focus on the voters right now, how they are getting ready with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. He has been accused by Democrats of trying to manipulate turnout this year, too, so we'll talk to him about that in a moment.
First back to New York again and Heidi Collins with more there.

Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Bill, as well.

Also this half hour, we're going to get the Pentagon's reaction from some comments from former U.S. administrator to Iraq Paul Bremer. He says low troop levels early on in the occupation may have contributed to what he called lawlessness in the country. Barbara Starr will have more on that in just a few moments.

In the meantime, we're going to talk about the stories now in the news this morning.

In Afghanistan, Interim President Hamid Karzai is out campaigning today, just days before his country's presidential election. This is Karzai's first major trip since a rocket attack was launched near his helicopter last month. Additional American forces have been arriving to beef up security ahead of the landmark vote.


LT. GEN. DAVID BARNO, U.S. ARMY: It's really important time to be in Afghanistan. As you know Saturday coming up, first every Afghan presidential election. This is the Super Bowl as far as we're concerned.


COLLINS: Officials are warning of increased attacks before Saturday's vote.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Sudanese government has failed to make any progress in the Darfur region of Sudan. More than 50,000 people have died in the conflict, and the secretary general warns the violence is likely to continue. The Security Council is expected to be briefed on the situation in Darfur in just about an hour and a half from now.

The Pentagon's 1991 ban on media coverage of fallen American soldiers is being challenged in court. A University of Delaware journalism professor is suing under the Freedom of Information Act to force the Pentagon to release pictures and video of the arrival of soldiers coffins at Dover Air Force Base. The professor, a former CNN correspondent, says he wants the images for academic research.

The supreme court dealing a blow to Master Card and Visa. The Supreme Court says the two credit card companies can no longer keep banks from offering American Express and Discover. Supporters say more competition could possibly lower interest rates for consumers.

Meanwhile, back now to Bill, once again, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hey, Bill.

HEMMER: Hey, Heidi, thanks, and good morning again.

It looks like the swing state of Ohio may be the key for both candidates this year in campaign 2004. Independence may ultimately decide the outcome in the battle for Ohio's 20 electoral votes.

With us now from Cincinnati to talk about the fight for Ohio is Ken Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state.

And we welcome you to American morning. Good morning to you.

KEN BLACKWELL, OHIO SECY. OF STATE: Good to be with you, bill.

HEMMER: There is a piece this morning in "The Wall Street Journal" that suggests Ohio is the next Florida. How do you respond when you hear that claim?

BLACKWELL: Well, Ohio is the premier battleground state, and I would assume that if this race is within the margin of litigation, we're going to see lawsuits flying. But in terms of election administration, I anticipate that we will have an orderly election, and that every legal vote cast will be counted.

HEMMER: Democrats have been very critical of you in the past several weeks, and again last night here with the Kerry advisers, criticizing you for trying to manipulate where Ohioans can cast their ballots. How are you responding to this criticism that has come now for weeks?

BLACKWELL: First let me say, Bill, that last week I was praised by the Democrats for making an independent and what they thought was the right decision to take Ralph Nader off of the ballot. And so one day I'm their champion of election administration, the next day I'm their goat.

But one of the things that I'm most proud of is this headline in papers all across the headlines that -- all across the state, is that we drove voter registration to a record number in the state of Ohio. We will have more people engaged in this process.

What the Democrats have been critical of is an Ohio law that's been on the books since 1990, which basically says that a voter must cast his or her vote, whether provisional or regular ballot, in the precinct in which they reside, that there's a mutual responsibility of voter and election officials to make sure that a ballot is cast in the correct precinct. I have -- I have not heard anyone challenge this law over the 12 years. We had a bipartisan statewide planning committee as we got ready for the implementation of HAVA. They determined that those provisions on provisional ballots were in compliance with HAVA -- the Help American Vote Act.

So I think this last minute wrangle wrangling, this foot stomping, it's just political shenanigans and partisan rage.

HEMMER: Let me get back to the election then, and one of the key issues in Ohio is jobs.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

HEMMER: As early as last month, Democrats say 11,000 more jobs are lost in the state. If you go back over four years, 237,000 since George Bush took the White House. Are Republicans vulnerable on the issue of the economy and jobs in this race?

BLACKWELL: Well, I think Ohioans understand that there was some critical things that happened over the first Bush term. First, we were attacked on 9/11. Secondly, he inherited a recession. And, thirdly, we saw corporate corruption and fraud, you know, just running rampant in some of the big companies in this country.

The president has taken on the ethical situation in corporations. He's cut taxes. He's gotten the economy moving again. And in Ohio, what he has basically said is that he realizes that the rising tide hasn't lifted all boats and he's concentrated on making sure that he can work on reducing health care cost, making sure that health clinics are available to those in need at the community level.

And so I think Ohioans will basically say that this president has cut taxes, got the economy growing again, and they will be confident that he can help Ohio catch up with the rest of the country in terms of job creation.

HEMMER: All right. Listen, thanks for the time. And I'm out of time now, but I just want to get one clarification here. Among the new registered voters in the state of Ohio, more Democrats or Republicans have signed on?

BLACKWELL: Well, we think, and we're still checking it, we won't know until perhaps in the next couple of days, that it's been a competitive race for new registration.

HEMMER: Republicans or Democrats? BLACKWELL: Like I said, we won't know until the final analysis comes in. We think it's a pretty competitive race for new registration. So the answer to the question is that it's a tight call either way.

HEMMER: All right. Ken Blackwell, thanks.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

HEMMER: Ohio secretary of state from Cincinnati this morning. Back here in Cleveland, our live coverage starts later tonight, 7:00 Eastern. That debate begins at 9:00 Eastern for the one and only matchup here for the vice presidential ticket, Case Western Reserve.

Back to Heidi now in New York with more -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Bill, thank you. The former U.S. administrator in Iraq says mistakes were made in the post-war planning. The Pentagon is responding now to Paul Bremer's comments. Barbara Starr is there with the very latest.

Good morning once again, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again to you, Heidi.

As we said earlier, the Pentagon's teeth on edge just a little bit this morning. Ambassador Paul Bremer, the man who ran the occupation of Iraq, saying that the U.S. and the coalition paid a price when they failed to stop the looting when Baghdad fell. These remarks came yesterday in a speech ambassador Bremer made to an insurance group in West Virginia. That group releasing a summary of ambassador Bremer's remarks.

One of the things he said was, quote, "We paid a big price for not stopping it," referring to the looting, because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness. Mr. Bremer goes on to say, quote we never had enough troops on the ground.

Now, this morning, according to press reports, Ambassador Bremer is saying he was only referring to the situation in the days and weeks immediately after Baghdad fell. The Pentagon says that Mr. Bremer never asked for more troops.

But we have located some remarks that Mr. Bremer apparently made in September at Depaul University in Indiana. Now, according to the Depaul, University Website, Paul Bremer said the following, and let's read it to you -- "The single most important change, the one thing that would improved the situation would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout. Although I raised this issue a number of times with our government, I should have even been more insistent." These remarks quoted by Depaul University as remarks that ambassador Bremer made there during an appearance in September.

At this point, the official word from the Pentagon is that Mr. Bremer never asked for more troops, and they are expressing some annoyance here, if you will, that Mr. Bremer appears to be second guessing the military advice that was given to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. One can only speculate there'll be more on this throughout the day -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, it brings up a great question, quickly, too, Barbara, would Paul Bremer as a civilian administrator have been someone that the military officials, or the Pentagon, if you will, would have listened to about issues like troop strength?

STARR: Well, that's a terrific question to which, we don't know the answer, because, of course, Mr. Bremer was in charge of essentially the occupation force, the occupation presence of the United States in Iraq from essentially the time major combat was over until the transition to Iraqi sovereignty earlier this year. He was the ultimate authority. Pentagon officials will tell you they listened to the military advice of the generals, and that nobody said more troops were needed. But this, of course, has remained an issue of ongoing controversy ever since the war began -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, more to come there, I bet. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.


COLLINS: Still to come on American morning. can't decide whether to drink coffee or beer? Well, you may not have to anymore. We'll talk about that in just a moment.

Keep it here on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: A new beer infused with caffeine, ginseng and fruit flavors is coming to a liquor store near you. Aren't you lucky? Plus, people are slipping out of their seats on some flights. Andy Serwer is here to tell you about that.

Wow, you have a lot going on.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I have had only had about three or four of those drinks this morning to start off. It's been a happy Tuesday.

Let's talk about the markets first of all. Yesterday a bit of an update, a bit of an upswing. The Dow was up 23 points. What was going on? Well, we're starting off the quarter. Investors putting new money to work. That often happens. IBM is upgraded. Wal-mart adding new stores. Stocks should be on the move. Futures are up this morning, though, not as much as they were earlier on.

Let's talk about United Airlines before we talk about that delicious new beverage. United Airlines is introducing some new seats that they call flat. They may be flat, but there is one problem, they're not horizontal. And you've got to really be carefully here, because if you think about it, Heidi, something can be flat, but it can be pitched. And the problem is that these seats are pitched about 10 or 15 degrees, and so what happens is when you're lying in them, your trousers go one way, or your skirt, or your dress and your undies might be going the other way. So some people are complaining about a lot of these new seats is some of these first-class cabins, have that problem. It's a story in "The Wall Street Journal."

COLLINS: Therefore not comfortable.

SERWER: Not that comfortable, no. It's not perfectly horizontal.

COLLINS: Anheuser-Busch has this new drink. And I think this thing is a kick. It's a new beer, but it's a beer in wolf's clothing, if you ask me. I mean, they're calling this thing b-to-the-e. That's, you know, b-e, like to the square root. Never mind.

Anyway, listen to what's it's got in it. You start with beer, and then you add caffeine. This has got as much caffeine as a can of Mountain Dew. Then you add guarana. That's a Brazilian berry, not to be confused with guano. Then you add ginseng, hints of blackberry, and fusion of raspberry, cherry flavor.

COLLINS: Have you tried it?

SERWER: I've had a couple of them this morning as you can tell by how I'm doing this morning. It's got 6.6 percent alcohol, and they're rolling this thing out. You know, but younger are drinkers are liking all these new flavors, so Anheuser-Busch is going after it. Sounds like a little bit too much for me.

COLLINS: Yes, no question about that.

All right, Andy, thanks so much.

SERWER: You're welcome.

COLLINS: We'll check on your consumption a little later.

SERWER: Yes, please do.

COLLINS: Still to come this morning, when it comes to keeping a healthy heart, do your siblings offer more clues than your parents? Sanjay Gupta has that, next on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: A sibling's heart trouble is more likely to predict if you're at risk than your parents' health history. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now from the CNN Center with more details of this new study.

Interesting, Sanjay, because usually, you do look to your parents for these kinds of genetics.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and we talk a lot about family history, specifically in its relationship to heart disease. But specifically in this study, they looked at siblings, brothers or sisters, and tried to figure out how much of a relationship, if they had heart disease, was it likely that you had heart disease.

Very interesting study. They looked at over 8,500 studies. Specifically they found that if you had a brother or sister who had a heart attack previously, you had a four times increased risk of having advanced artery buildup. I'll explain what that means in a second. I'll also say it was all before the age of 55. If your parent had a heart attack, again, before the age of 55, about a two times increased risk for advanced artery buildup.

The American Heart Association looking at the numbers very seriously, trying to figure out what it is you should do if you have a sibling who has had a heart attack or significant heart event early in life, recommending perhaps that you should consider getting screened. Certainly getting your blood pressure screened, also getting your cholesterol screened, perhaps also considering a test that actually looks at the blood vessels in your heart, not an angiogram, but sort of advanced CAT scan, to try to figure out whether or not you are developing any buildup yourself -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, so, Sanjay, you mentioned these two different tests, one of them the EBT heart scan, and the other one the CRP test. Who would best benefit from those particular test?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, the EBT scan, electronic beam tomography. I myself actually had this test done as part of a previous story. Looking -- what this is, you put yourself in a CAT scanner. You can see the tube there. Basically what this is going to do with a high degree of radiation is basically scan all the blood vessels in your heart, trying to figure out whether or not you have any buildups. There's no needles. There's not pokes. It's a pretty quick test, and give us a sense of just how blocked your arteries might be.

There's also a test called a C-reactive protein test you mentioned, Heidi. The interesting thing about this test is that it's trying to measure inflammation in your blood vessels. It's long been considered, Heidi, that it's not so much the blockage of your blood vessels, but how inflamed they are. The CRP test will tell you how inflamed your blood vessels are at any given time.

Best candidates for this test. You're be a little surprised here, because they're a little bit younger than normal, 40 to 45-year- old range, 40-year-old man, 45-year-old woman, strong family history, and now add siblings to that list of family history. Also cholesterol, blood pressure, both those things elevated as well.

If you fall into the category, you may want to talk to the doctor about getting one of these test -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, will do. Thanks for that, Sanjay.

But another thing that you're talking about today, viewers possibility, or opportunity I should say to improve their health for this year's "New You Revolution." How can they get involved, Sanjay?

GUPTA: We're calling it the "New You Revolution." This year's "New You" revolution is going to focus on breaking bad health habits. If you'd like to be a part of CNN's "New You Revolution," go to Are you in a desperate battle with weight or struggling with any other health issue? Are you ready to make the commitment to get fit, stay healthy and live life to the fullest? We're looking for men, women, families, singles, in other words, anyone who is ready to step up to the challenge. Anybody, Heidi, looking for anybody out there.

COLLINS: Anybody. Anybody.

All right, Sanjay, thanks for much for that.

And watch AMERICAN MORNING during November to see who will be selected for the eight-week get fit journey with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. It's a great series and it will air every Tuesday beginning in January. Fitting time for it to begin.

Meanwhile, though, Jack Cafferty is off for the Cafferty File today, so we're going to have the Borowitz Report.

ANDY BOROWITZ, "THE BOROWITZ REPORT": Yes, shocker, shocker. And here today's daily shockers from, where you'll find news you won't find anywhere else, because I made it up.

On the campaign trail, President Bush ridiculed the idea of the U.S. must pass a global test for military action, telling a partisan crowd, I've never passed a test in my life, and I'm not going to start now.

John Kerry has changed his official campaign slogan again. Kerry, who started the campaign saying bring it on, then help is on the way, and then i've got your back, will now say my milk shake brings all the boys to the yard.

The Supreme Court met yesterday for the first time since Justice Antonin Scalia's controversial remarks advocating group sex. Now he really did jest in a speech at Harvard University that, quote, "Sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought top encouraged." Well, the other justices made no mention of those remarks, but declined his invitation to meet with him in chambers.

And some positive news about the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan. The first shipment of negative political ads arrived yesterday, including one attacking Afghan President Hamid Karzai, paid for by a group calling itself Brutal Afghan Warlords for Truth.

And finally, the new CIA chief's choice for the third-ranking job in the agency has withdrawn because of a prior conviction for shoplifting. In an official statement, the candidate apologized for any embarrassment she caused the spy agency.

COLLINS: Shockers indeed.

BOROWITZ: Very shocking.

COLLINS: It is shocking. Andy Borowitz, we'll check back with you a little bit late are on, on your "Question of the Day" as well.

BOROWITZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right, Bill Hemmer now back in Cleveland. He's a shocker, isn't he?

HEMMER: They miss Andy in this town, let me tell you, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, they do.

HEMMER: Andy Borowitz's hometown.

In a moment here, the No. 2's do battle later tonight. This showdown may be of the first order. We'll get back to that, straight ahead here from Cleveland, Ohio after this on AMERICAN MORNING.



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