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Nine Iraqi Police Officers Killed in Ambush; U.S. Tanks Shell Insurgent Positions in Fallujah

Aired October 17, 2004 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is October 17, 9:00 a.m. at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 6:00 a.m. on the West Coast.
And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen. Thanks so much for being with us today. "Now in the News"...

HARRIS: Iraq's struggle for law and order suffers a setback this morning. Gunmen ambushed a van carrying nine Iraqi policemen home from training in Jordan. All nine police officers were killed in the ambush about 20 miles southwest of Baghdad.

U.S. tanks are shelling insurgent positions in eastern Fallujah this morning. And the insurgents are firing back with mortars, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. No casualty reports yet from this battle which erupted after last night's U.S. airstrikes on Fallujah.

The interstate was slick with sleet and the glare from sun. And in suburban Baltimore yesterday, 91 vehicles piled up in 17 separate crashed on I-95. Fifty people were injured, some of them seriously. But miraculously, no one was killed. And all lanes were reopened to traffic just before midnight.

Pierre Salinger died of a heart attack yesterday at a hospital near his home in France. Salinger was press secretary to presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and was later chief European correspondent for ABC News. Described in "The Washington Post" as a witty, debonair, bon vivant, Pierre Salinger was 79.

NGUYEN: Well, coming up this hour, committed to their cause, but feeling the stress of a very long haul. Redeployment and extended tours of duty affect not only U.S. troops but also their families. In a few minutes, we'll talk to one soldier's wife who is fighting to bring her husband back home.

And "www" could mean what works well on the Web. This week we'll show you the best political novelty sites.

And Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, how is this for a snack? Check it out. We'll tell you how this awesome orange is tipping the scales.

HARRIS: With their presidential preference surveys of likely voters heading out of the final turn and into the stretch, it's still a horse race between George W. Bush and John Kerry. A "Newsweek" Magazine survey gives the edge to the president. Its poll of likely voters has the Bush-Cheney ticket with 50 percent support and Kerry- Edwards with 45 percent.

"TIME" Magazine survey of likely voters also gives Bush a slight lead within the margin of error. Bush at 48 percent and John Kerry at 46 percent. "TIME" also measures the president's job approval rate and finds the nation equally divided, 49 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.

NGUYEN: It's quiet -- or it's quite a Sunday at the White House for President Bush after a rigorous barnstorming tour yesterday in the key battleground state of Florida. CNN's Elaine Quijano was also in Florida yesterday. But today she is at the White House.

Good morning to you, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Betty.

Well, the president attended services this morning across the street at St. John's Episcopal Church. But as you mentioned, he's off the campaign trail today. He gets back on the campaign trail tomorrow.

And yesterday he visited that key state of Florida, a huge prize there. Twenty-seven electoral votes up for grabs. The president stopped in three cities, Sunrise, West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach. And it was at his last stop that he added new language about the draft to his standard stump speech.

Now, it didn't come out correctly at first when the president said the U.S. would not have an all-volunteer Army. But moments later he quickly and emphatically corrected himself.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me restate that. We will not have a draft.


BUSH: No matter what my opponent tries to tell people and scare them, we will have an all-volunteer Army.


QUIJANO: Now, this morning the president picking up an endorsement from a major city newspaper. "The Chicago Tribune" throwing its support behind President Bush, citing his resoluteness over the last four years.

Meantime, it is shaping up to be a busy week on the campaign trail, already on the president's itinerary. Stops in New Jersey, also Florida once again, and Iowa and Minnesota. Now, Bush campaign aides say part of the strategy here is to go into these swing states in traditionally blue areas or traditionally Democratic strongholds, particularly in those swing states, and try and have the president target voters that they feel he can connect with. For instance, in Florida, there was a lot of attention at the Hispanic vote, also the sizable Jewish population. And also, the president, in his comments in Daytona Beach, at least directing part of his message to the large number of military personnel in that area -- Betty.

NGUYEN: No doubt the president will be very busy between now and Election Day. Elaine Quijano, thank you.

Meanwhile, Democrat John Kerry gets a major endorsement in the presidential race. "The New York Times" has thrown its support behind Senator Kerry, saying the presidential race is mostly about George Bush's disastrous tenure.

"The Times" said in part, "We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again, he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better."

HARRIS: Kerry is going from one battleground state to another. He started the day with a church service in Ohio. Then he heads down to Florida. CNN's Ed Henry is covering the Kerry campaign in Ohio. He joins us from Columbus.

Good morning, Ed.


That's right, the Kerry campaign is feeling good about the state of this race. They say just a couple of weeks ago the momentum seemed to be on the Republicans' side. President Bush was campaigning in states that Al Gore carried in 2000, blue states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The Kerry camp feels that they've picked it up a bit in those states. They feel confident they can hold those blue states.

And now Kerry is in Ohio, a state that George W. Bush carried in 2000. But more importantly, Kerry is campaigning in the Republican heartland of this state, not just in Democratic strongholds.

Democratic aides here point out that Al Gore, in 2000, skipped this part of the state and still barely lost to Ohio. They feel like with Kerry digging into the Republican parts of the states -- of the state, maybe they can carry it. Twenty electoral votes here, and no Republican president has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.

In order to do that, Kerry is focusing in sharply on the economy and jobs -- 173,000 manufacturing jobs lost in this state in the last four years. And at a rally yesterday, Kerry also zeroed in on the fact that he thinks this flu vaccine shortage is a major mistake that was caused by the administration's lack of following up and paying close attention to it. Here's what he said.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even after a year of warning signs that something was wrong, even after warnings that we were vulnerable to shortages, what's that sound like? It sounds like the policy on Enron and Halliburton.


KERRY: And now -- now he tells healthy Americans not to get their flu shots. What's that sound like? It sounds like his health care plan. Pray you don't get sick, right?


HENRY: In just over an hour, John Kerry will be attending church services behind me here in downtown Columbus. Aides point out this is the 28th time he's attended church services on a Sunday at an African- American church. The point here I think they're trying to make is that even while he's campaigning in Republican strongholds in Ohio, he's still trying to keep a close eye on his Democratic base as well, heading into the final two weeks of this campaign -- Tony.

HARRIS: And he's continuing to reach out and try to gain more votes in those swing states among undecideds. Thank you. Ed Henry reporting today from Columbus, Ohio.

Here's our e-mail question this morning. Have the debates helped you decide who to vote for? Our address is We'll read those replies throughout the program.

NGUYEN: Now to our "A Soldier's Story" this morning. It is one of long tours of duty and family hardships back at home. Some say the scenario is becoming all too typical.

Many soldiers due to return from home overseas -- from overseas duty are suddenly redeployed to Iraq. Now, these back-to-back tours of duty often create emotional and financial strain for their families. This morning we are joined by Kristen Sabat, who believes her husband, Jason, has been overseas too long. She's even taken her case to the U.S. Senate.

Good morning to you.


NGUYEN: Well, let's talk about your husband's case. He was due to return from duty in South Korea back in July, but instead he was sent to Iraq to battle there. Now, this is something that you found out about through watching television, is that correct?

SABAT: Yes, ma'am. CNN is actually -- in May, 41 days before he was supposed to come home.

NGUYEN: You weren't told by the military?

SABAT: Correct.

NGUYEN: All right. Now, what are the Army rules about being deployed for longer than a year?

SABAT: Basically, Carla White (ph) and myself have tried to find all the rules and regulations. And it states that they're not supposed to do two hardship tours back to back, nor are they to be away from home outside the United States longer than 24 months.

And in the case of our soldiers that were deployed from Korea, it could be two and a half to three years for these -- for these men and their families. And my concern is with the families, because we are not together.

When they left from Korea, they left from bases all over the United States. So we're all over the United States, South Korea and Philippines, so we have no support group for each other.

NGUYEN: Talk to us a little bit about that hardship. It's more than emotional, not having your spouse there, but it's also economical as well, correct?

SABAT: Yes, ma'am.

NGUYEN: What are you dealing with? Has the pay been cut for you?

SABAT: The only pay that has been cut is their hardship pay.

NGUYEN: And that was cut when he went to Iraq?

SABAT: Yes, ma'am.

NGUYEN: Why was that?

SABAT: I think that they just -- they picked the lesser amount. It was $150, and now it's $106.

NGUYEN: Have you spoken to your husband about this? What does he say?

SABAT: He basically -- I really don't have any communication with him. Sometimes I get e-mails, but, you know, he can't elaborate on anything pertaining to the military.

SABAT: And give us a sense of what you've been able to do so far. Because you have taken this to Senate to try to get your husband home.

SABAT: Yes, ma'am. Carla White (ph) and myself went up in June to try to get some answers of why they were deploying these men when they were already deployed to Korea, which is a hardship tour, and, you know, families are not allowed to go. And basically, it fell on deaf ears until it actually went through the press a couple of weeks ago.

And now Senator Dole has, you know, written a letter to Rumsfeld to try to get some answers. And, you know, our other concern is for these families.

We have many women that, you know, are at home raising babies just like everybody else, but we were not allowed our downtime for the guys to come home and refit with their families before they headed off to another hardship tour. I mean, there is no doubt that these men are very passionate for their country and they would fight for their country, but I think that they should have been allowed time to come home prior to their redeployment.

NGUYEN: So the situation now is you're just simply waiting to hear back. Have you been told how long he might be there while you wait?

SABAT: We really have no idea. No.

NGUYEN: OK. Well, we definitely want to stay on top of this and find out how it all ends. Kristen Sabat, we appreciate your time, your information and your insight this morning.

SABAT: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Thank you -- Tony.

HARRIS: Immigrants in the U.S. As more and more people come to this country daily, many illegally. A profile of just one state where Americans are taking to the streets against them.

NGUYEN: And playing politics. How you can make a candidate fold. Find out how in our "Best of the Web."

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And I'm meteorologist Rob Marciano in the CNN Weather Center. This is a picture of downtown Los Angeles.

Good morning LA. That's a little rain on the lens. Sliding into the rainy season, a pretty strong storm bringing you some wet stuff. The forecast across the country coming up in just a few minutes. CNN SUNDAY MORNING will be right back.


HARRIS: And good morning, Los Angeles. You're looking live over the City of Angels, where today over 20,000 people, many of them celebrities, will participate in the city's annual AIDS walk.

And welcome back, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. Thanks for joining us.

Checking our top stories now in Iraq, fierce fighting in the rebel-held city of Fallujah. U.S. tanks pound positions in the eastern part of the city. Insurgents, in turn, fired RPGs and mortars. So far, though, no reports of casualties.

Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Japan, China and South Korea this week. He'll be holding talks about the war terror, Iraq, and North Korea's nuclear program.

Democrat John Kerry wins the endorsement of "The New York Times." "The Times" calls Kerry a man that has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive. The paper calls Bush's tenure disastrous.

And poking fun at politics. The best political novelties on the Web, that is coming up in just a few minutes right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HARRIS: Twenty thousand people on the streets of Los Angeles to raise money, a good cause, AIDS research. And boy, we hope we can get those cars off the streets and some great weather out there for all those walkers.

NGUYEN: California usually has great weather, right?

HARRIS: Absolutely.

MARCIANO: Yes, but we do slide into the rainy season this time of year.

HARRIS: That's right.

MARCIANO: So they're getting it a little bit early this morning. And they're getting rain it looks like throughout the day today. So...

NGUYEN: Oh, that's no good, not for the walk.

MARCIANO: Yes. Well, not all that cold. It will be in the 60s. So they'll be all right.



NGUYEN: Cold and rainy. Because that's cold in California in the 60s.

MARCIANO: Yes, 60s is definitely kind of cool.

NGUYEN: Especially in LA.

MARCIANO: Can I have my slice of pumpkin -- or apple pie now?

HARRIS: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: I don't know if you want it. It's been sitting here for a couple hours. HARRIS: We saved it for you. We've got a fork for you.


MARCIANO: Yes, it looks like one of those where they spray the plastic on it and put it -- put it as a little display.

NGUYEN: Yes. You have to eat with your hands, too, because we don't even have a fork around here.

MARCIANO: Thank you, guys.

NGUYEN: Always looking out for you, Rob.

MARCIANO: Appreciate it.

HARRIS: Rob, thank you.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Rob.

HARRIS: Well, you've heard about the search for the great pumpkin. Well, we think we've found one contender this Halloween season. We'll tell you all about it when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.


NGUYEN: As George Bush bobbles his head, John Kerry gets fashion advice from "Queer Eye's" Fab Five. No, not all in real life, but on the Internet.

In this week's installment of "The Best of the Web," we look at these political novelty sites. And here to talk about them is, of course, Blaise Zerega.

Good morning to you.


NGUYEN: Coming to us live from San Francisco, the managing editor of "Wired" Magazine. Let's get right to it. We talked about the Bobble Heads, the Fab Five. But we want to get to some of the most interesting sites.


NGUYEN: Because these are the ones, of course, come from the partisan Web sites, and that's where it can get a little nasty with these items, can't it?

ZEREGA: You can have the most fun with these independent sites that are fiercely partisan, yes. One of the more fun sites out there is And as the name suggests, it's a very pro-Kerry site. And there you can purchase anything from your usual, you know, buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers, but you can also get yourself a pair of Kerry-Edwards dog tags.

NGUYEN: Dog tags, huh?


NGUYEN: Very interesting. You know, I was looking at something, a site that's called Babes Against Bush. Is this a calendar or a pin- up?

ZEREGA: That's a calendar. Thirteen liberal women decided to become pin-up girls to help defeat Bush this November.

NGUYEN: My goodness. They go all out, don't they? All right.

And there's another site that's called And they have bumper stickers that read everything from "Enron, Halliburton '04," to "Quagmire Accomplished." Of course, that's playing off the "Mission Accomplished" sign.


NGUYEN: Tell us a little bit more about what they have in store on that site.

ZEREGA: Yes. That's from a site called And as you suggest, I mean, they sell everything from drink coasters to coffee mugs.

But my favorite are these sort of World War II vintage posters. There's one with Bush depicted as a Cub Scout crying "Four more wars!"

NGUYEN: I tell you what, they come up with everything. Well, OK. We've talked about Kerry. Let's do some pro-Bush sites so that we're fair here.

ZEREGA: Sure, absolutely.

NGUYEN: There's The Victory Store. What is that one?

ZEREGA: Victory Store. Victory Store has one of the more clever approaches to partisan campaigning. And there's a yard sign, just in time for Halloween, it's black and orange.

NGUYEN: But of course.

ZEREGA: There's a scary pumpkin. And it says, "President Kerry, now that's scary."

NGUYEN: Oh, goodness. And it's a yard sign, huh?


NGUYEN: All right. Now there's also the site.

ZEREGA:, yes. And that has, again, sort of a full range of bumper stickers, T-shirts, you name it. But there's also little elephant bean babies for all those young Republican children out there. NGUYEN: And what about these action figures? We want to get back to those. I wish we had some pictures of them. We have Bobble Heads, action figures...

ZEREGA: There's action figures.

NGUYEN: ... talking dolls, puppets, you name it, right?

ZEREGA: Yes, even puppets. You know, President Bush with a lot of his, I'll say, misstatements, you know, he's prone to put his foot in his mouth. There's a great little puppet out there from that comes with 25 Bushisms.

NGUYEN: Bushisms. And we mentioned the Fab Five at the beginning of this. How are they getting in on the action?

ZEREGA: Yes. There are some pictures circulating on the Web right now with giving John Kerry fashion advice, shown holding a bottle of Perrier, so forth. It's good stuff.

NGUYEN: OK. And we can't leave without talking about A gambling site?

ZEREGA: That's right. Well, yes.

It's a deck of cards for -- I think it's about $10 -- $11.95, actually. And it's skewering both candidates. It's a fun tool.

And, for instance, they portray Kerry as flip-flop. They show him holding both a guitar and a hockey stick. And President Bush as evangelical in chief, holding both a skull and bones helmet and his top gun helmet.

NGUYEN: All these crazy things for sale. Only in America, huh?

ZEREGA: And, you know, as the election nears, the price of all these items will fall.

NGUYEN: On the Web, right?

ZEREGA: No one wants to get, you know, stuck holding them. So now is the time for the party faithful to show their true colors.

NGUYEN: Yes, but you get a really good deal after November 2, of course, right?

ZEREGA: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: For all those looking for sales.

ZEREGA: Look for it on eBay.

NGUYEN: OK. All right. Blaise Zerega, managing editor of "Wired" Magazine. We thank you.

ZEREGA: Thanks a lot, Betty. NGUYEN: Tony.

HARRIS: How this election could affect your children. Where the candidates stand on education when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.



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