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AMERICAN MORNING

Was There a Clear Winner in Last Night's Debate?; Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Bill O'Reilly

Aired October 14, 2004 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president has turned his back on the wellness of America and there is no system.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A plan is not a litany of complaints. And a plan is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Health care a key focal point as the candidates battle it out over domestic issues. Is there a clear winner, though, in last night's debate?

For those at risk Americans who need a flu vaccine but can't find one, Sanjay Gupta explains how to track down the shot.

And sexual harassment allegations against Bill O'Reilly, with lawsuits filed from both sides.

All ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.

COLLINS: Good morning, everybody.

I'm Heidi Collins in for Soledad.

Bill Hemmer is in Columbus, Ohio this morning, breaking down that third and final debate that happened just last night -- good morning, Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Heidi, good morning to you.

Back in Columbus, Ohio, talking with the undecided. And there are still many, actually. Listening to this debate last night, more on their reaction in a moment here.

Also in a few minutes, though, we'll talk to Bill Schneider. Is there a winner from last night's debate? And, if so, we'll talk about that. Also hear what Karl Rove had to say late last night.

A lot of talk.

But right now, back to New York and Heidi once again -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Thanks, Bill.

Also a little bit later on, U.S. special forces have operated in more than 120 countries in the last year, tracking down terrorists. In Iraq, they found leaders of Saddam Hussein's old regime. We're going to talk with the author of a book called "Masters of Chaos" about the special role of these elite troops as they go on terror's trail.

But for now, though, we are speaking with Jack Cafferty once again this morning.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Heidi.

Coming up in the "Cafferty File" in less than an hour, we'll tell you how some men in China are compensating for certain physical inadequacies. Don't go there. It's not what you're thinking.

And a -- why are you laughing?

COLLINS: No, that's not what we're thinking.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

And a scathing new report that reveals why France may not have wanted to help with the war in Iraq. It seems they were making tons of money over the status quo over there. It's coming up in "The File" in less than an hour.

COLLINS: Two very interesting topics.

All right...

CAFFERTY: Well, at least one.

COLLINS: Jack, thank you.

We'll catch you in just a few minutes.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

COLLINS: Now in the news, though, this morning, a major battle between U.S. forces and Iraqi insurgents in the city of Ramadi. A CNN journalist who witnessed the battle says shooting lasted throughout the night. At least eight people killed, more than a dozen others wounded. More violence is expected today as the Muslim holiday Ramadan begins tomorrow.

A newly approved microchip is raising concerns over privacy. It's the size of a rice grain and inserted in the patient's arm. The device stores a code that releases patient specific data when a scanner passes over it. Those codes reveal information such as a patient's allergies and prior treatments. But critics say the chip could be used to track people. Less than three weeks before the general election, reports of voter fraud in two states now. Election officials in Nevada are investigating whether a Republican-led drive destroyed registration forms from Democratic voters. And in Oregon, authorities are looking into claims that a worker was told to register only Republican voters.

And would you pay $64 for a gallon of coffee? Well, the Transportation Security Administration did. According to an investigator from the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA spent nearly half a million dollars for an awards party last November. Executives also reportedly got higher bonuses than any other federal agency. The TSA says it will conduct a less expensive awards ceremony this year.

By the way, it sounds like it would be fun to party with the TSA -- Bill, back to you now.

HEMMER: Listen, if they have any of that stuff left over, we could take it, right?

COLLINS: Yes.

HEMMER: It sounds like they've got a lot of it.

COLLINS: You got it. Put it in our party fund.

HEMMER: Yes.

Heidi, thanks.

Back here in Columbus now, President Bush and Senator Kerry facing off in their final debate last night. They did that in Tempe, Arizona. Domestic issues on center stage last night. And among them, the issue of health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: We don't cover Americans. Children across our country don't have health care. We're the richest country on the face of the planet, the only industrialized nation in the world not to do it. I have a plan to cover all Americans. We're going to make it affordable and accessible. We're going to let everybody buy into the same health care plan senators and congressmen give themselves.

BUSH: A plan is not a litany of complaints. And a plan is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Now a moment of levity that was saved for the last question of that debate last night, when the candidates were each asked about their significant others.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, MODERATOR: What is the most important thing you've learned from these strong women?

BUSH: To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl.

KERRY: Well, I guess the president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would say maybe me more so than others. But I can take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: That came in the 89th minute last night, right near the tail end, in Tempe, Arizona.

The question today, what are the early polling numbers saying about this debate?

Back to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, with us again from D.C. -- and, Bill, good morning to you.

Good to have you back here.

We want to talk about the polling numbers from Gallup. Last night, who did the better job? John Kerry, 52 percent; George Bush 39 percent.

If you look together at all three debates now, John Kerry wins on all three accounts.

What are those in the polling saying that Senator Kerry is doing right in these face-offs?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Essentially one word -- issues. Voters, viewers in these cases thought Senator Kerry had a better command of the issues, seemed more authoritative, in a way, more presidential than the president himself. Not personal qualities. Even in that final debate and in the first debate, viewers thought they liked President Bush better than John Kerry. They felt a warmer view of President Bush.

But when it came to command of the issues, Kerry was the man. And I should add that in these polls -- in this last poll of this debate, the viewers started out evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

HEMMER: You talked about the issues, let's talk about the economy and let's talk about taxes.

What are you finding in both areas, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the poll asked who do you think would handle the economy better? And after the first two debates, viewers thought either Bush or a tie. But you see in this third debate, Kerry opened up a lead on the economy among viewers. On health care, he got even better ratings. Education was a wash. Was there any issue on which viewers thought President Bush did better? Well, one, yes, taxes. Take a look. They did think Bush edged out Kerry on the issue of taxes, where he hammered Kerry very hard. But the margin here is very narrow, just 3 points.

HEMMER: I want to take out two points from last night's debate, Bill, that you're essentially focused on here. The first from Senator Kerry when he talked about a divided country.

Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I regret to say that the president who called himself a uniter, not a divider, is now presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory of our country. I've never seen such ideological squabbles in the Congress of the United States. I've never seen members of a party locked out of meetings the way they're locked out today. We have to change that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Do you think that was effective? Tell us why?

SCHNEIDER: Because I think Americans are very sensitive to the fact that they're divided in this country. They don't want to be divided. They feel as if this president has divided the country, even though he promised not to. That's the one promise that he made, to be a uniter, not a divider, that he didn't deliver.

If you asked me what one thing are people looking for that they're not getting from President Bush, it would be unity. And Kerry is trying to present himself here as a unifier.

HEMMER: Now for the president, revealing a very private side when he talked about religion.

Listen again now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: My faith is a very, it's very personal. I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harm's way. I pray for my family. I pray for my little girls. But I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Now why do you think that was so effective, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Because it highlighted Bush's personal strength, his personal effectiveness. It's what people like about President Bush -- honest, sincere, straightforward. He's a man people like. He's a man of good and strong character. And that has stood by him through his presidency.

His problem, however, in these debates were that they weren't particularly about character, they were more about the issues and the Bush record. Very important. These debates gave John Kerry an opportunity to make Bush's record the central point of this campaign. Before the debates, Kerry was the central issue in the campaign. It was looking like a referendum on John Kerry's record.

But when an incumbent president is running for reelection, it's supposed to be about his record and the debates enabled John Kerry to focus on that.

HEMMER: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks for your analysis there in Washington, D.C.

After last night's debate, the White House gave CNN's John King a somewhat rare interview with the senior Bush adviser, Karl Rove, with his spin on how the president did last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From your perspective, did any one thing change tonight in the race?

KARL ROVE, BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: Well, yes. The president, on what was supposed to be John Kerry's strongest turf, domestic affairs, had a commanding performance, substance and style. From the first question to the last, the president was in charge of the debate and he showed his vision and values and also was able to draw in an appropriate way the distinction between Senator Kerry's rhetoric and Senator Kerry's record.

KING: You say a commanding performance. Yet if you look at our instant poll, Senator Kerry graded the winner. I know you disagree with these instant polls...

ROVE: Yes, I disagree with these instant polls and you and I both know that a one night poll done in a short period of time is an unreliable barometer.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HEMMER: Again, Karl Rove late last night with John King in Arizona.

Our question here in Columbus, Ohio, what, if anything, did the candidates do last night to move voters from the undecided category to the persuaded category?

As we've done now for all four debates, we convened a group of undecided voters to watch and we watched along with them last night here.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

KERRY: All across our country, go to Ohio...

HEMMER (voice-over): Few states have gotten the attention that Ohio is getting now. On the campus of the Ohio State University, 24 men and women were looking and listening for answers in this final debate, issues like tax cuts, health care and the war in Iraq.

On a scale from one to 10, with men in blue and women in yellow, we watched the meter rise and fall in real time. The economy is critical in the Buckeye State and Senator Kerry scored well when he talked about increasing the minimum wage.

KERRY: And America, this is one of those issues that separates the president and myself. We have fought to try to raise the minimum wage in the last years.

HEMMER: The president then picked up strong support when he talked about crime and gun laws.

BUSH: But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.

HEMMER: In our 90 minute survey, women were scoring the senator higher, men were stronger for the president.

THERESA DAWSON, KERRY SUPPORTER: I think Senator Kerry did a good job and I think that he's the man for the job because he's -- I feel safe with him. He's got more intelligence.

HEMMER: One voter made up her mind during this debate. She'll vote for President Bush.

KATIE POWELL, BUSH SUPPORTER: I just felt that he was more honest and more sincere throughout the debate.

HEMMER: The final tally from this group, seven say they will vote for the president, 10 will vote for Senator Kerry. And after three presidential debates, seven still remain undecided.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HEMMER: And so many people last night, too, coming in focused on domestic issues here. But across-the-board in that room last night they were all wondering about Iraq -- what was the plan to get U.S. troops home and what was the plan for the peace eventually in that country?

We did not get a lot last night based on the format for that debate last evening. It's safe to say here in central Ohio, Iraq is still front and center on the minds of so many people.

Also, Pennsylvania still up for grabs in this election. Later tonight, Paula Zahn there conducting a town hall meeting in Bucks County, the eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania. Our coverage starts later tonight, 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 on the West Coast here on CNN.

Much more from central Ohio in a moment.

Back to New York now and more with Heidi there -- Heidi.

COLLINS: A beautiful shot there in central Ohio.

All right, well, still to come this morning from here in New York, we are "Paging Dr. Gupta." People are lining up for flu shots despite a shortage. But what do you do if you can't get one? Sanjay has some tips at this frustrating situation.

And next, we're on terror's trail with U.S. special forces. Why has the terrorist mastermind al-Zarqawi proven so elusive? An inside look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Eight civilians were killed following two major blasts this morning inside the green zone in Baghdad. That's the area that houses the U.S. and British embassies, as well as the interim Iraqi government headquarters.

In Falluja, coalition forces pounded two targets linked to terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That's the focus this morning, as we go on terror's trail.

Zarqawi's terror network is taking responsibility for Monday's suicide attack against a U.S. convoy in Mosul that killed an American soldier.

Linda Robinson of "U.S. News & World Report" is our guest this morning.

She is also the author of "Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces."

Linda, good morning to you.

LINDA ROBINSON, AUTHOR, "MASTERS OF CHAOS": Good morning.

COLLINS: Nice to see you again.

Just a fascinating book here, and article in "U.S. News & World Report."

In fact, in the book you describe a battle where special forces uncovered this international terror camp in the earliest days of the Iraq war.

Tell us what this camp was all about. What did they find there?

ROBINSON: That's right, this place, it was in northeastern Iraq, right on the border with Iran. And this is where Zarqawi has been definitively placed, in this registration, with the group Ansar al- Islam. And at the outset of the war, the special forces were ordered to attack this camp. And they found there that about half of the people were foreign Jihadists. They found the passports, a lot of links to al Qaeda. Some of them had been to Afghanistan to train. So it just showed definitely that Zarqawi was already in the country setting up a terrorist network. And, of course, he's been a primary...

COLLINS: We talk about him every day.

ROBINSON: ... factor in the insurgency.

COLLINS: Right. Since then.

ROBINSON: Yes, in the news, of course.

COLLINS: Well, what sort of contact have the special forces had with him, if any? I mean what have they been able to learn about him since?

ROBINSON: Well, right now, this, of course, is what the special forces are doing most of their time over in Iraq, is trying to penetrate these networks. And what has made this so difficult, in part, is that they're using the old Saddam Hussein networks. You know, he had several intelligence services and paid informants and these tentacles throughout the society. And the Jihadists, along with the former regime elements, have come in and started using those networks.

So they're involved very deeply in targeting, trying to develop information. And sometimes it's not acted on. I mean there's a certain amount of friction that goes on and it's also difficult because there's a limited window of time. They call it time sensitive targeting. And if they do not, within a matter of minutes, get onto that target, they'll be gone.

COLLINS: Why is this guy so elusive?

ROBINSON: Well, that's part of the reason. I mean this kind of thing, insurgency is, by definition, the attackers hide in the population. They blend in with the people and it's very hard, especially if you've got, as in Falluja, a welcoming population that will help hide the attackers. So...

COLLINS: And news today that that, there might be a split coming between these foreign fighters and the insurgency. So that would be interesting to watch, as well.

ROBINSON: Yes.

COLLINS: What are the special forces doing besides all of this in Iraq right now?

ROBINSON: Well, they are also working on -- they don't really like the phrase hearts and minds, but they also work very much hand in hand with the civil affairs and psychological operations people in trying to engage the population and building up the support network, building up the infrastructure. And they do have, in many cases -- I want to mention one particular team I got to know during the war. They went and lived with a sheikh and with a tribal clan. They were living, one of them set up his office in a chicken coop in this farm. And so they really lived...

COLLINS: The ODAs.

ROBINSON: The ODAs. They actually go in with the population. So they forge these bonds with the people.

COLLINS: And you bring up an interesting point. Real quickly, what type of person becomes involved in the U.S. special forces? I mean this is clearly not for everybody.

ROBINSON: It's an unusual personality because they have to have all of the elite warrior skills. They go through lots of training. The average special forces soldier is in his 30s. He's about 10 years older than the other soldiers. They get the language training. So it's a combination.

And one soldier, for example, he was on the football team, he was in the debate club and he played the violin. I mean it's that kind of combination of personality, a multi-faceted individual, who does well in it.

COLLINS: Well, impressive gentlemen, to say the least.

And Linda Robinson, we appreciate your time here this morning.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

COLLINS: Fascinating stories.

I want to send it back now to Bill once again -- Bill, more on the debate coming from Columbus.

HEMMER: Indeed. You got it, Heidi.

I tell you, there's not a place in this country, in Columbus, Ohio, that's just getting crushed with these political ads. It's 24 hours a day locally.

In a moment, more post-debate coverage from here in central Ohio. Ohio could hold the key in Campaign '04. John Kerry seems to have the momentum after these debates, but the Bush campaign says there were signs that Kerry is slipping elsewhere. We're talking about that.

The latest when we continue in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: We want to check in with Jack now once again The Question of the Day.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Heidi.

Mercifully, the debates are over. Since they were so restricted, constipated, even, is probably not too tough a word, so as not to allow any of us to learn anything new about the substance, we were all sort of left to look at the style. I'm not sure there'll be any memorable moments replayed on television years from now. And yet they do seem to have had some sort of an impact.

Barring any unforeseen major event in the next couple of weeks, we, the voters, will be subjected now to the same tedious prattling that has numbed us for months, coming from both sides.

The question is did the debates affect the way that you're going to vote? Karen in Doylestown, Pennsylvania: "I agree with just about everyone. The debates provided real insight to both of the candidates and their positions on the issues. Perhaps Cafferty would have preferred some gaffe or gotcha moment that he and his counterparts in the media could chuckle about and exploit for the remainder of the campaign."

Absolutely. That's what we were hoping for is some embarrassing moment that we could make fun of for the next couple of weeks. But we didn't get it, so that's one of the reasons I'm extremely disappointed in the debates.

COLLINS: I think you were hoping for a train wreck.

CAFFERTY: Yes, that was exactly the word we were using at the beginning. Let's hope we...

COLLINS: That you were using. Yes.

CAFFERTY: That's why people go to the race track. It's not to watch the cars go fast, it's to watch them crash and burn. And we were hoping for that in the debates, but it didn't happen. Well, depending on your point of view.

Jan in Ringgold, Georgia: "No, the debates did not change my mind on my vote. I made up my mind three years ago when I saw President Bush lead us through the worst time of suffering and sorrow in American history. Just as I don't forget the victims of the terrorist attacks and their pain, I don't forget the leadership of our president."

And Don in Rockwall, Texas: "Did the debates help me decide on who to vote for? No. I think it's silly to think we're electing our president based on three high school debates. I just wish President Bush would have told Senator Kerry that if he, Kerry, could pull off everything he says he will do, since he has a plan for everything, and show the way he's going to pay for it, that he, Bush, would even consider voting for Kerry."

Interesting.

COLLINS: Yes, and interesting, too, looking back on the formats of these debates, you know, the first and the third were the sort of behind the podium. And the second one was at least a little bit less restrictive, where they got to walk around, town hall format. But I don't know, we'll see if it really makes a difference.

CAFFERTY: They should turn these things back over to the League of Women Voters, let them run the things. If you don't want to show up, then don't show up. But I mean this idea that the Democratic and Republican Parties hold secret negotiations on the rules for these debates is just, it's just wrong. It's just wrong.

COLLINS: We are hearing from the people today.

CAFFERTY: Right. COLLINS: All right, Jack Cafferty, thank you for that.

CAFFERTY: OK.

COLLINS: And, as you know, all next week, AMERICAN MORNING wakes up in Chicago. If you didn't know, you know now. Soledad is going to be back and as we go on the road to the Windy City, we're talking with top politicians, business leaders and artists about the key issues and, of course, the upcoming election.

That's AMERICAN MORNING on the road in Chicago all next week.

And, Bill, we will be getting up a little bit earlier. Not to complain, because I like the mornings...

HEMMER: You know, Heidi, if I started driving right now, if I started driving right now, I could be in Chicago by 1:30 this afternoon.

COLLINS: Go for it.

HEMMER: It's five hours from Columbus, Ohio.

COLLINS: You can be like the advance team. Yes.

HEMMER: I'll get back to you on that.

We're going to go back to New York first, though. On Monday, you're right, we'll be in Chicago starting all week next week, Heidi.

In the meantime, though, with the debates behind them now, the candidates laying out their battle plans. What each man has to do in the final three weeks of this campaign. Back in a moment on that.

Also, Falluja insurgents may be turning against the foreign allies in that town. What's behind the split? How could that affect the U.S. troop presence? We'll get to it and more in a moment as we continue live in Columbus, Ohio and New York City on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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