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LIVE FROM...

British Hostage Kenneth Bigley Beheaded in Iraq; Discussing the Second Presidential Debate; The Popularity of Poker

Aired October 8, 2004 - 14:31   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is LIVE FROM. I'm Miles O'Brien.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kyra Phillips. Here's what's all new this half hour.

Do you watch poker games and wish you could play and play well? We're not advocating gambling, but we do have tips from a poker guru this half hour.

O'BRIEN: Are we supposed to say "Kids, don't try this at home?" I don't know, maybe.

And debates on the debates. The "CROSSFIRE" gang of two will join us from St. Louis with a special guest star on the "CROSSFIRE" game, Kate O'Beirne. What do the candidates have to do tonight?

But first, here's what's happening now in news.

PHILLIPS: British hostage Kenneth Bigley has been killed in Iraq. Bigley's brother confirmed that news today. Bigley was kidnapped September 16th, along with two Americans who were later beheaded. A video received by an Arabic-language TV network showed Bigley's beheading. That station is not airing the video.

Three groups claim responsibility for last night's bombings in northern Egypt. More than two dozen people were killed; most of the victims were Israelis. Israel suspects al Qaeda. One of the groups claiming responsibility says it is associated with that terrorist organization.

Setting the record straight -- Paul Bremer, the former U.S. administrator to Iraq, now says it would have been helpful to have had more troops in Iraq right after Baghdad fell, but military commanders felt that would alienate Iraqis. Earlier this week, as you remember, Bremer said the lack of troops led to an atmosphere of lawlessness in Iraq.

A potential problem with yet another medication -- this one, Remicade, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors are being warned their patients on Remicade may be at higher risk for lymphoma. The manufacturer says that, so far, no direct link has been found.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk about the debate. One question likely to come up in tonight's presidential debate is whether the U.S. was wrong when it went to war with Iraq last year. As a matter of fact, you can take that one to the bank. It will come up.

This wee's report from the U.S. chief weapons inspector says Iraq did not have any stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion. Officials from both political parties responded to the issue during last night's town hall meeting on CNN's "PAULA ZAHN NOW."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER ESKEW, BUSH CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISOR: ... one of the mistakes we've learned is that the intelligence was wrong. The intelligence John Kerry and President Bush and other world leaders used to make the decision was proven wrong. Twelve years, in fact, of accumulated evidence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": So, you don't think the president owes the American people any apology for going to war based on that?

ESKEW: Absolutely not. It was the right decision. The world is safer. The man who issued the report on WMD, Charles Duelfer, said himself that the world is safer because Saddam is out of power.

ZAHN: All right.

ESKEW: And that's a clear-cut answer. You can't get that kind of answer out of our friends on the other side of this issue.

ZAHN: Tad?

TAD DEVINE, KERRY CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISOR: Almost everything the president has done in Iraq is a mistake. He rushed to war with no plan to win the peace. We find out in recent days that, in fact, there were definitively no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The CIA told us that yesterday.

We find out that Paul Bremer, the ambassador there, asked the president for more troops so that they could secure Iraq in the early days, and the president failed to heed that advice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: All right. We invite you to watch CNN tonight. We humbly invite you. We offer you cash gifts, if you like. No, we can't do that.

CNN is live in St. Louis for the hubris in St. Louis or the hooey in St. Louis -- whatever you like -- where President Bush and Senator Kerry will take questions from voters -- actual voters.

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Paula Zahn will kick off our primetime coverage. It starts at 7:00 Eastern.

And stay with CNN for our special pre-debate show with Wolf Blitzer and the rest of the election team. That's 8:30 Eastern, and that's followed by the debate itself at 9:00 Eastern time. OK. Bracing for round two, we have President Bush and the Democratic contender, John Kerry, going up against each other in St. Louis at Washington University. And we've always wondered what it would be like if "CROSSFIRE" met "CAPITAL GANG." It's kind of like those rotisserie football games, you know? What happens if you put them together? Wouldn't it be like the greatest show ever on television?

And here it is. Paul Begala, Kate O'Beirne, "CROSSFIRE" meets "CAPITAL GANG" right there in St. Louis. Good to have you both with us.

KATE O'BEIRNE, PANELIST, "THE CAPITAL GANG": Absolutely. Hi, Miles.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE: Thank you.

O'BEIRNE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: All right, well, Kate, you know, since you're new to this segment for us -- not new to CNN, of course -- we'll let you begin.

This is, in many respects, a perfect setting for George W. Bush. Doesn't that raise expectations to a level that the Bush camp would prefer it not to be?

O'BEIRNE: The fact that -- I do think you are right. I think George Bush, the strength of George Bush is probably talking to real people. Despite being president, there's an informality about George Bush. He's never been accused of using high-falutin' Senate speak, which is a problem of John Kerry's.

John Kerry has more -- George Bush has a Texan kind of common touch. Look where he spends his time off -- in Crawford, for gosh sakes. He's never been accused of being aloof. He doesn't run the risk of talking down to a group of Americans like this.

On the other hand, we saw last week John Kerry was terribly fluid on the issues, and I expect has prepped equally for tonight. And so, I think we can expect him to be more than ready to answer any questions that come his way.

O'BRIEN: Paul, it never ceases to amaze me they're both Yale, they're both Skull and Bones. I've seen family lineage which actually makes them distance cousins -- all that stuff. And yet, George Bush is very successful at coming off as this west Texas cowboy, and John Kerry is the absolute epitome of the northeastern blue-blood snob.

What can he do to try to connect with his audience here?

O'BEIRNE: Couldn't have said it better myself, Miles.

BEGALA: Well, the problem -- Bush -- first, he's a decent guy, and there's no taking that away from him. But I think people would be surprised to see that Kerry is, as well. As you point out, it's George Bush, not John Kerry, who was born to wealth. And it was George Bush who had the big trust fund. And I love when I see him out in Crawford. I'm actually from Texas. I'm actually wearing cowboy boots myself. And the notion -- I mean, George Bush is about as much a rancher as I am a Hasidic diamond merchant.

I mean, he has definitely...

O'BRIEN: Oy, vey! Paul!

BEGALA: It's kind of a phony deal. He bought the ranch like five minutes before he started running for president, Miles. He is not a rancher. He's a nice guy, though, and that's kind of what's going to be important tonight.

The hard thing for Bush will not be the rapport. He really is a natural. You know, when he owned the Texas Rangers, he didn't sit in the skybox. He sat with real people. So, I give him that completely. But what's going to be hard is the content of what he's saying, he often looks like he's out of touch with those real people. If he says the bad jobs numbers today were good, if he says this terrible news out of Iraq is good, he looks like, while a very pleasant guy, he's not very in touch with those people's lives.

O'BRIEN: Yeah.

O'BEIRNE: You know what he got points -- you know, he got points for last week for, though, was being strong, being resolute, being a straight talker. I think we're going to see that tonight in front of an audience with people asking questions -- I think all of those characteristics are...

O'BRIEN: All right, but Kate, the big difference here now -- George Bush has had plenty of time in these town hall meeting settings, but you practically have to give blood to indicate -- you bleed GOP to go into these settings. So, it hasn't been the best kind of warm-up to a crowd that is presumably going to be down the middle here, right?

What has the campaign been doing to try to get the candidate ready?

BEGALA: Well, I think the -- go ahead, Kate.

O'BEIRNE: But you know what, Miles? That's sort of the Democrats' view of -- phony view of George Bush has been hermetically sealed and hasn't spoken to a real person in three-and-a-half years.

O'BRIEN: But hasn't he? Well, I mean, really, if you think about the way he's been campaigning -- no?

O'BEIRNE: No, if you -- if you watched -- first of all, he seems to really enjoy the kind of campaigning he's now doing. He seems energized by it. He seems to be sort of having fun. The kind of people who are asking him questions, they are asking -- they're asking the same kind of questions we have here today.

O'BRIEN: Kate, Kate, Kate, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Was he -- eight days ago -- eight days ago -- Kate, I got to ask you a question: Was he really having fun eight days ago? He sure didn't look it.

O'BEIRNE: During the debate?

O'BRIEN: Yeah.

O'BEIRNE: No, that was one of his less fun nights.

O'BRIEN: OK, OK.

O'BEIRNE: That was a less fun night.

BEGALA: But these are questions he gets at these events. They are hand-picked events, so they get questions like, "Sir, can I give you a salute?" That was a real question. Another one was, "Sir, can you tell me what books you are reading" -- as if.

I mean, these are real people out here behind us, Miles. These are the people Bush ought to be hanging out with. And his staff -- his staff has -- they all served him.

You know, I knew Bush when he was a governor and a Republican, and he could give as well as he got. He can handle Democrats just fine. But they have put him in this bubble, and he seems to like the bubble, and I think that's a problem for him.

O'BRIEN: All right, all right.

O'BEIRNE: I'm delighted...

O'BRIEN: We've got to leave it there, unfortunately, Kate. Anyway, it's kind of like the "Doonesbury" strips on some of those questions. Well, it'll be interesting to see. We will watch it unfold tonight, see how he does, with a couple of high hard ones from the vox populi.

All right. We appreciate it. Paul Begala of "CROSSFIRE," Kate O'Beirne with "CAPITAL GANG." The two programs meet, and we make television history right here. Thank you very much, both of you.

O'BEIRNE: Thanks, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Well, a tantalizing tidbit of information is released about the next chapter of one of the most popular series of books ever. JK Rowling says she plans to kill off one of her prime characters in her next book. The scoop, right after this.

Also, one of the hottest shows on TV these days is anything about poker. Inside tips on how to win at everything from friendly games to cut-throat casino action. And later, taking aim at the biggest names in Washington. You know these guys, the JibJab. They're back. They're crazy. But this time, it's with a big difference.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching LIVE FROM on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, they are dropping like flies at Hogwarts. After killing off Harry's mentor, Sirius Black, in volume number five of the widely popular "Harry Potter" series, author JK Rowling says another character is destined for doom in volume number six.

Rowling, who understands the sales power of a good tease, won't say who gets a visit from the grim reaper in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," but she says that the young wizard will survive at least until the seventh and final book of the series.

O'BRIEN: From novel guessing games to the increasing appeal of a good bluff. In case you haven't noticed, poker is almost everywhere, from the TV to the local watering hole to the seventh grade study hall, we think. Of course, no money, no wagering there, kids, right?

So, we thought it was high time to put on our poker faces and ante up an expert for you. Can you tell who's bad at poker? Of course you can. We've got John Vorhaus, who is the author of "Winning at Home, at the Casino and Beyond." He's joining us from Los Angeles.

John, lay some cards on the table for us. First of all, how do you explain the poker phenom right now?

JOHN VORHAUS, AUTHOR, "POKER NIGHT": Well, there's two engines driving it: one is television, and the other is the Internet. People see it on television, very excited by it, they find out they can play anywhere in the world these days on the Internet. So, they can learn to play, see a lot of hands for not very much money or even no money. And the two things are just feeding each other.

O'BRIEN: Now, as far as you, you have a long history with poker. Been playing for -- forever.

VORHAUS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And then, ultimately you got more and more serious. At what point did you decide to become kind of a poker expert?

VORHAUS: Well, I started writing about poker in 1988. I'm a member of the Writer's Guild of America, and the Guild was on strike. I couldn't work. I stumbled into a casino here in town and started playing poker. I put down 20 bucks in a seven-card stud game, and they went through me like a freight train through the wind.

And I walked out and I said, well, that was fun, but I can't afford to do that. So, I called up a magazine. I said, look, I know nothing about poker, but I'm going to learn. And while I learn, I want to write about it. So, they hired me, and basically I've been writing about poker ever since I started playing in casinos. So, it's going on 16 years.

O'BRIEN: So, was that thing a bluff, then, that paid off?

VORHAUS: Yes, it was. It's one of my favorite life strategies. If there's something I want to learn how to do, I find someone to pay me to teach it.

O'BRIEN: All right. You got a lot of helpful hints in here for folks -- real practical stuff. One of the things that really struck me is: "Be the one at the table who plays the fewest number of hands, but when you play them, play them very aggressively." Is that kind of a foundation philosophy for you?

VORHAUS: You know, if you do just that playing poker, you can be a winner your whole entire life. It's called being selective aggressive. To put it even more simply, when you get the goods, bet the goods. When you don't get the goods, watch TV.

O'BRIEN: Really? So, the whole notion of bluffing, then, you wouldn't advocate that necessarily?

VORHAUS: Oh, there's definitely a place for bluffing, but you need to know what you're doing. And if you've established a tight image, image of somebody who only plays quality cards, then every now and then you can sneak a bluff past them, because they will assume you're playing the same tight, strong hands you've been playing all along.

O'BRIEN: So, you need a little bit of cred at the table, and that means you've got to have some hands to back that up.

Here's another one that I like: "Be the one who knows, not the one who guesses." That's easier said than done. Are you talking about like counting cards? What are you talking about there?

VORHAUS: Not so much that. You see this a lot in no-limit hold 'em. The game that you see on television is no-limit Texas hold 'em, and that's a game of big bets. People are pushing in all of their money all at once.

And there's a strategic advantage of being the one who's making the bet, pushing the chips forward rather than being the one who's calling. If you push the chips forward, you know exactly where you are in the hand. If you are trying to figure out whether to call or not, you are basically guessing. That's why I say be the one who knows, not the one who guesses.

And that goes back to aggressiveness. The aggressive player is the one who's going to win.

O'BRIEN: All right. I hate to rain on the poker parade here, but I just want to throw this out there, because I know you probably thought about this a little bit.

To the extent that poker has become so wildly popular -- it's everywhere, you know, kids are playing it -- are we sending out perhaps a bad message here? Are we laying the groundwork for a problem with gambling later for a larger number of people?

VORHAUS: It's a very good question. I draw a distinction between poker and gambling. To me, gambling is a coin flip, where it doesn't matter what your decision is, it's either going to land heads or tails.

In poker, your decisions matter, so it's a game of skill. That's not to minimize the problem you're talking about. People can be, let's say, enthusiastic to the point of overenthusiastic about poker.

I always tell people -- and I've written about online poker, for instance. I always say don't put significant amounts of money into the game. Treat it recreationally, keep it recreational. If it gets out of hand, you're not going to be able to do it at all anymore. So, it's in a person's interest to keep it under control.

O'BRIEN: Never bet the grocery money, they say.

VORHAUS: Never bet the mortgage, that's right.

O'BRIEN: All right. Assume you are going to throw it away, all things in moderation. The book, once again, is "Poker Night: Winning at Home, at the Casino, and Beyond." The author is John Vorhaus, who's become quite the sage of poker of our time. Thank you very much, and we wish you good cards and good bluffs in the future, sir.

VORHAUS: My great pleasure. Thank you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Well, the JibJab guys, famous for their animated political humor, are back at it. Coming up, poking fun at some of the biggest names in D.C. land as Dixieland. you won't want to miss it.

Also, Wall Street bulls mark an anniversary that may signal a change in direction for the market. Rhonda Schaffler has all the biz news right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, election season politics isn't all about stuffy guys in shirts -- well, it mostly is. But a couple of real smart aleck...

O'BRIEN: Who are you looking at?

PHILLIPS: A couple of smart aleck animators actually made quite a name for themselves this summer, taking shots at the political big shots.

O'BRIEN: You've seen it. It's that JibJab thing. Well, their work is all over the place, and now they have a new one. Well, you remember the old one is "This Land is Your Land" back and forth between Kerry and Bush.

Well, 70 million people saw that one. I don't know how they know that for sure, but 70 million at least. Brace yourself for the sequel to that one.

(MUSIC)

PHILLIPS: Now, how do we get in trouble for -- how do we not get in trouble for airing that?

O'BRIEN: I believe we're cable. We don't have to worry about the darn FCC, right?

All right, by the way, we did pay the $2.99 to download that song. You can watch it for free on their Web site. Right? Isn't that how it goes?

PHILLIPS: That is right. Let's go to business. Rhonda Schaffler is standing by. Rhonda, can't get enough of that.

(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)

PHILLIPS: Well, thank you very much, Rhonda.

He wanted to ask you a question, but I said we don't have time. But you can -- go ahead, you want to just ask her a question, any question?

O'BRIEN: What do you think of that JibJab thing? No, we don't have time. We don't have any time. We...

PHILLIPS: Sorry, Rhonda. Now I'm in big trouble.

O'BRIEN: Let's move along.

PHILLIPS: All right.

O'BRIEN: And everybody's screaming at us now.

PHILLIPS: That's it for this edition of LIVE FROM. We are excited about the weekend.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we are. Yes, we are. And Judy Woodruff is excited about tonight's debate. She joins us now from the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, and she is going to bring us a preview in the marvelous program "INSIDE POLITICS" -- Judy?

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS: Thank you, Miles. Thank you, Kyra. We are just hours away from -- guess what? That's right -- the second presidential debate.

I'm here again today in what is now rainy St. Louis, and we've got a program for you. We're going to be talking to representatives from both of the political campaigns, and we're going to be talking about that new jobless report with a Bush and a Kerry advocate.

All that and much more. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A family's worst fears are realized: Kenneth Bigley now confirmed dead by his family. Bigley was abducted in Iraq three weeks ago. Pleas for his release emerged from the Arab world and the British government, but to no avail. Bigley's brother says the family has visual proof now of that killing.

The high rises swayed, and most of the power went out, but no word yet on any casualties in Manila. A strong earthquake, 6.4, hit the Philippine capital at about 10:30 local time last night. It was felt 90 miles away.

Stay tuned, "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS" up next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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