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Latest Poll Numbers; Flu Shot Shortage

Aired October 18, 2004 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Fifteen days until the election, and the message is, don't wait, vote now.
Shortages of flu vaccine opening the president up to political shots. Did the administration ignore supply warnings?

A shuttle boat for a casino cruise ship finds its in dire straits.

And keeping up with the Donalds. How "Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic is surviving his big job in Chicago.

And the Boston Marathon, five hours, 12 winnings, and still a glimmer of hope for Sox fans, all this ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: On the corner of Wabash and Blackard (ph), on the banks of the Chicago River in Chicago, this is AMERICAN MORNING, on the road, with Bill Hemmer, and Soledad O'Brien.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All righty, good morning, everyone. We are in Chicago, starting today, all week, and New York City was just not big enough to welcome back our friend Soledad O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

HEMMER: How long have you been gone?

O'BRIEN: A while.


O'BRIEN: It was warmer on bedrest and in the hospital bed, but that's all right. It is good to be out here today.

HEMMER: Well, listen, great to have you back.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. It's nice to be back.

HEMMER: We've seen the boys.

O'BRIEN: Yes, they're looking all right. They're cute, getting fat, getting big. Thank you.

I miss you guys.

Hey, I'm doing all right.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: One of them is named Jack, right?

O'BRIEN: That's right. After you, Jack.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

I was just told that in January we're going to do a week of shows in Fairbanks, Alaska. And next summer, we'll be in the Mojave Desert in July.

O'BRIEN: Hey, it could be a lot colder. What's the temperature this morning, do we know? Somewhere in the...

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I think we're all in denial. We don't really want to know that number, do we?

O'BRIEN: I think it's, like, high 40s.

HEMMER: Starting today, we're going to be along the Chicago River, and we'll be throughout the city here throughout the week on the famous landmarks. Tomorrow, at Loyola University, Wednesday at Union Station here in Chicago, Thursday at the Field Museum, and Friday we'll close out the week at the Adler Planetarium. So we're going to see a lot of Chicago throughout the week, so stay tuned for that.

O'BRIEN: That's the work stuff. Then we're going to go shopping on the Miracle Mile. There's a massage, apparently, that I can get done. It's a spa at the hotel. We're Going to see the Art Institute. Do a little Halloween costume. Yes, got a lot of work to on that front. That's the social secretary stuff, looking forward to that. Also this morning, we've a slew of poll numbers coming out, that came out over the weekend. The consensus is showing a tight race, but with voters leaning toward the president. This morning, we'll talk with Carlos Watson about whether this shows a real turnaround, and also what it tells us about what happened in those debates.

HEMMER: Also General David grange is here in Chicago. We're going to talk to him about the stories we are getting out of Iraq today, these 18 U.S. soldiers who apparently refused this refueling mission in Iraq, and a story on the front page of "The Washington Post" we'll talk to about in a moment as well.

What is on your mind, Jack?

CAFFERTY: We've got a lot of stuff.

By the way, welcome back. I missed you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

CAFFERTY: Nice to have you back.

O'BRIEN: Oh, you missed me, he missed me.

HEMMER: Yes, it wasn't the same without you.

O'BRIEN: I don't think Jack says that a whole heck of a lot.

CAFFERTY: No, Jack doesn't, you're absolutely right.

Two words synonymous sadly with this great city are corruption and the Mob, going all the way back to Prohibition, Al Capone, Frank Nitti, Elliott Ness, that whole era. But the mob was alive and well in the late '70s and early '80s when the infamous first ward had a chokehold on this metropolis. We're going to talk to one of the good guys. He was a Chicago cop. His dad was a cop. His grandfather was a cop. He went to law school. And then he went haywire and hooked up with the mob, and for years, he spent his time bribing judges, and fixing cases and sitting by while the guys in the First Ward strangled the life out of this town.

When he couldn't stand to look himself in the mirror anymore, he walked into the Organized Crime Strike Force, and he switched sides again, and he started putting these guys away. There was a time he had a million-dollar price tag on his head, courtesy of the mobsters in Chicago. He's flown in from out of town. He's not in the witness protection program, but he's not exactly walking around with a sandwich board on his back either. You're going to meet him and talk to him a little bit later, and I'm going to move to where it is warm.

HEMMER: Excellent. Thank you, Jack.

O'BRIEN: We're very happy for you, Jack.

Looking forward to that story. That sounds fascinating.

CAFFERTY: Yes, he's a -- it's an interesting story.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I bet. All right, Jack, thanks.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Time to turn to Heidi Collins. She's got a look at the stories that are in the news this morning.

Good morning to you.

COLLINS: Good morning. Welcome back to you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you so much.

COLLINS: I'm so glad that you brought your biggest coat that you have, right?

O'BRIEN: I've got bigger. They get bigger as the week goes on.

COLLINS: All right, want to get to the news now this morning.

Seven Iraqi police officers are recovering this hour after insurgents ambushed them in the city of Baqubah. The attack just comes just one day after an explosion ripped through central Baghdad, killing at least six Iraqi police officers, wounding at least 26 others. Meanwhile, Britain is considering a U.S. request to redeploy troops throughout Iraq. A decision expected on that later today.

Back here in the United States, health officials are working to redistribute limited doses of the flu vaccine. Thousands of people are lining up across the country waiting for a shot. The Department of Health and Human Services says the situation is under control.


TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECY.: It is not a health crisis. In fact, I would like to tell individuals, just be calm. And don't stand in line, because we have approximately 24 million doses of vaccine that have not been shipped yet.


COLLINS: Health and human services director Tommy Thompson there. Health officials are reallocating shipments of the vaccine. So what could this mean for you? Well, we are going to talk with the head of the Centers for Disease Control coming up a little later on in the show.

Three people recovering this morning after being rescued from a burning casino shuttle boat.

Look at this.

Saved by an off-duty Coast Guardsman who was boating in Newport Richie (ph), Florida. Robert Morgan steered his private boat to the 75-foot shuttle and rescued the crew of three. No passengers were aboard the casino boat. The Coast Guard is now investigating.

And here's a story for you -- took until 1:22 Eastern this morning, but finally, David Ortiz smacked a two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th, yes, the 12th inning, to give the Red Sox a victory a 5-4 victor over the New York Yankees. That extends now the American League Championship Series to a fifth game that will happen 5:00 this afternoon. And you know, I was listening, not at 1:22 by the way, but...

O'BRIEN: I was going to say, I hope you were in bed by then.

COLLINS: I think it was actually this morning. I get them confused. But one of the guys, one of the players, said, you know, we were focused on just winning that game, and today, we'll be focused on winning that game, nothing else, one at a time.

HEMMER: 12:22 Chicago time.

COLLINS: Much earlier.

HEMMER: Thank you, Heidi.

O'BRIEN: Well as you well know only 15 days now until the election and the final push is on. Senator John Kerry targeted Florida voters yesterday, where he urged supporters to vote now. Early voting begins there today. Today, Kerry remains in Florida with a voter rally in West Palm Beach. He's also going to visit Tampa and Orlando, too.

President Bush took a day off from the campaign trail yesterday, attended church services in Washington. He starts today in the nation's capital, then he heads to New Jersey, where he's expected to make a speech on the war on terror. Then he's also going to head to Florida to campaign.

CNN's political analyst Carlos Watson is keeping an eye on the latest presidential polling, and he joins us right now.

Not to cold for you, huh?

Let's talk a little bit about the Bush bounce. We're talking about the likely voters in all the major polls showing somewhere between eight point, or as low as two points, but on average, a little over three points, lead for President Bush.

What -- do you believe in the bounce? And what do you attribute it to?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POL. ANALYST: Well, a couple of things to think about. One, is it still within the margin of error, so whether it's one or two points, or even as you get higher. It's still technically, at least on the cusp of the margin of error.

The other thing that's worth noting, Soledad, is that in 2000, we saw something similar, we saw the person who won the debate get a brief bounce, but then all of a sudden see it shrink, and then maybe the same thing is happening here with John Kerry.

The other thing maybe was noting the Republicans were a little bit better at the spin game post-bounce. Remember the conversation moved to the Mary Cheney comment, and remember two out of three voters thought that was an inappropriate comment. And then last but not least, remember there's a key difference between registered voters, who right now are favoring the president, 49-46, and likely voters who are favoring the president even bigger numbers, 52 to 44.

What does that mean? It means Republicans are energized. Right now they're saying we are more likely to come out to vote. So they're still a lot to happen in the last couple of weeks.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about the newspaper endorsements. Senator Kerry got "The New York Times" on board, "The Boston Globe," "The Minneapolis Star Tribune." You look at the list for the president, the got "The Chicago Tribune," "The Rocky Mountain News," "The Carlsbad Current Argus (ph)," and "The Omaha World Herald."

"The Tampa Tribune," though, which has long been going with Republicans, actually refused to pick. They would not endorse President Bush. One, what's the impact of that? Does it matter? And, two, overall, do endorsements matter at all? WATSON: You know what, the endorsement, frankly, from "The New York Times" and "The Boston Globe," which frankly are not in swing states, even though they are considered national papers to some extent, probably won't make as big a difference, but some of these swing state endorsements, particularly in Florida, where frankly, John Kerry has cleaned up, "The Miami Herald," "The Ft. Lauderdale Sun- Sentinel," the St. Pete's paper, and even this nonendorsement in Tampa is probably a slightly good news. But lots of other factors will play in, and we'll hear more about these swing states endorsements in the days to come.

O'BRIEN: So it's sort of better than not getting endorsement, but doesn't necessarily give you any real lead or real advantage.

WATSON: Well, you know what's so interesting, Soledad, if you go back 50, 60 years, these endorsements used to mean a ton, then they meant not very much in the last 20 years.

But remember, earlier this year, the reason John Edwards was on the map, is because he got that "Des Moines Register" endorsement at the right time. So who knows, maybe this will be one of the things that comes back in style.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about Ralph Nader. Here's what he said yesterday. I want to play a little clip for you.


RALPH NADER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any of the Democratic fat cats want to finance a one-minute national television ad, I will go on and take Bush and Cheney apart on the record without even mentioning my candidacy or asking anybody to vote for me.


O'BRIEN: So he sounds like he's volunteering to help out the Kennedy campaign, even though at the same time he's of course running against senator -- I'm sorry, Kennedy -- Kerry campaign.

I've been off for a long time.

WATSON: Hey, and it's cold in Chicago.

O'BRIEN: I've got a list of excuses. Stay with me. The Kerry campaign, but at the same time of course, he's running against Senator Kerry. Explain what that is about, what he just said.

WATSON: Well, so there has been a lot of criticism, particularly last week, saying that, yikes, Ralph Nader is turning out to be the wild card the Democrats feared. And some of the polls, particularly in the Midwest, still show him around 3 or 4 percent.

O'BRIEN: Which could be enough to throw something.

WATSON: Easily could be enough in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and so heard him come on today and say, hey, give me a forum, pay for it, and I certainly will go after the other side.

We'll see how much of a factor he ends up. One of the interesting to note, Soledad, is that often third-party candidates may show 4 percent in the polls, but in the final numbers, they often do kind of a percent and a half less than that.

O'BRIEN: The chances that someone is going to actually give him a forum and pay for it?

WATSON: If he's serious about it, I bet you some Democrats will reach in their pockets.

O'BRIEN: We'll see. All right. Carlos Watson, as always, thanks. Nice to have you out here.

WATSON: And welcome back to you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

CNN, of course, is going to carry live addresses from both candidates today. We're going to bring you the president's speech on homeland security. The coverage there starts at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time. And Senator John Kerry is going to make a major address on health care issues. Our coverage of that begins at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

HEMMER: About 11 minutes past the hour now.


HEMMER: Chicago's been dubbed the Second City, although it's actually the country's third largest today. But it's no matter really to people who call Chicago home. To them, the city of big shoulders is simply No. 1. It's our homebase starting today and all week long in the first day of our weeklong tour of this toddling town. It's right in the heart of it all, Chicago, Illinois.


HEMMER: Downtown Chicago. To those who live here, it's simply known as The Loop. From the federal building to the board of trade, it's a bustling business district, second in size only to midtown Manhattan. Here you'll find the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America, and a parade of vertical spectacles rising to form a magnificent skyline overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Chicago River is itself a spectacle, cutting a T through downtown, so that nearly every thoroughfare crosses it. There are 45 movable bridges spanning the waterway. That's more than any other city. In a time-honored civic tradition that started back in 1962, the river is dyed green on St. Patrick's Day. And in this city known for its architecture, among so many other things, architectural boat tours and other commercial trips down the Chicago River are a favorite of locals and tourists alike.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HEMMER: And I tell you, it is so great to be here. This is such a wonderful city, came here so many times in my younger days, you should say. But it is a great town. It's so clean, too, and the people here have so much pride, and for such great reason, too, because there is so much to do and see, so, starting today...

O'BRIEN: We are looking forward to being here all week. It's going to be fun.

All right, well, still ahead this morning, got more from the Windy City. We're also going to talk this morning to Donald Trump's first apprentice, Bill Rancic. He's now overseeing the construction of a new Trump building in Chicago. He's going to tell us just what it's like to work with The Donald. I'm sure he's a great boss.

HEMMER: Great boss, we'll see about that.

Also ahead, some U.S. soldiers refuse a mission in Iraq. What kind of punishment could they now be facing? We'll check in on that story today.

O'BRIEN: And America's flu shot crisis: did the government ignore warning signs for decades. We'll get some answers from the head of the CDC. Those stories all ahead, on AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone. Monday morning live in Chicago. Good morning to you again.

The sudden shortage of flu shots has lead to long lines and some short tempers. So far though no real outbreak of influenza. Still there are questions about whether or not warning signs of a potential health crisis were missed or not.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, back with us, the director for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, live in Atlanta at the CDC.

Doctor, good morning and welcome to you.

Tommy Thompson yesterday said there is no flu crisis, is there or not?

DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, we're just at the beginning of the flu season, so we can't predict whether this is going to be a serious year or not.

We have 20 million more doses of flu vaccine to get out there, and our goal is to get those doses to the people who need it the most before the season really speeds up.

HEMMER: Where is the accountability in this? And I know yesterday you said here on CNN, just to quote you, "I am certainly taking some of the accountability for this because I feel we had to have a more robust immunization program," is that the truth? GERBERDING: Well, you know, for 25 years we have been concerned about our vaccine production. What the manufacturers need is a guaranteed market, they need a fair price and they need liability protection.

For the first time ever we have been able to stockpile drugs. So we're helping out by guaranteeing the market. We've raised the reimbursement price, but we haven't solved the liability question yet.

HEMMER: Senator Kerry was talking about this on the stump yesterday. He brought it up in the debates last week. There are politics, an element of that involved now. Listen to Senator Kerry talk about this issue from the weekend.


U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Even after a year of warning signs that something was wrong, even after warnings that we were vulnerable to shortages, what does that sound like? Sounds like the policy on Enron and Halliburton.

And now he tells healthy Americans not to get their flu shots. What's that sound like? Sounds like his health care plan: "Pray you don't get sick." Right?


HEMMER: Doctor, how do we sort through the politics on this issue now?

GERBERDING: Well, I'm sorry that this is becoming a political issue. This is really a health issue.

And I think that the bottom line is that the administration has requested a great deal increase in the support for influenza. We have been working on this since SARS and since we saw the avian flu last year.

We have a stockpile. We have more drugs than we have ever had to treat this condition. And I feel like we are taking responsible steps, but we need to solve the problem with the vaccine manufacturing.

And that's a problem that's been 25 years in the making. I hope that what we're seeing right now will...

HEMMER: I apologize for the interruption there; I thought you were finished with your thought there.

But Senator Kerry is saying he will crack down on price gouging. He also says there are not enough incentives yet for enough suppliers in vaccines. Would any of that help in this?

GERBERDING: Well, the stockpile is a mechanism to give manufactures an incentive to increase their production. And actually planned this year was more vaccine than we've ever been able to produce. Unfortunately, the manufacturer had problems with its processing.

But what we do need to do is to look nationally at a strategy that will allow us to have some surge capacity. We have got to modernize the vaccine that we are making, we've got to make sure the manufacturers have the incentives they need and we need that liability reform so that they don't take the unfair risk.

HEMMER: Thank you, Doctor.

Julie Gerberding with the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia this morning. Thank you for your time.

GERBERDING: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, there is new reason to worry about skyrocketing heating cost this is winter. Andy is "Minding Your Business."

But first, we're going to take a stab at some Chicago fun facts.

You ready?


O'BRIEN: Why is Chicago named the Windy City? That's our very first question.

Any ideas? Take a moment. Take a moment. We're going to give you the answer, right after a short break.

Stay with us, you're watching AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Before the break, we asked you why Chicago is named the Windy City. We're going to get an answer in today's "Cafferty File." That's in just a few moments.

HEMMER: I think there are two answers to that question actually.


O'BRIEN: Here's a hint, right?

HEMMER: Want to check in with Jack now. He's a Carton's (ph) restaurant.

Jack, good morning. You found a local deli, we see.

O'BRIEN: Inside and warm, we see, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Actually this is a little more than a deli. This is a nice little restaurant, corner of Wabash and Chestnut, where the elite meet to have a little breakfast or whatever.

Andy Serwer is with me, "Minding Your Business." And it's all about the oil. We're getting conditions for some really silly numbers, aren't we?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: We sure are. Kind of a crude awakening they're saying this morning, Jack.

First of all, Soledad, welcome back to you. Good to see you.

And indeed, it's all about oil this morning, Jack. The price of oil hitting another record high, $55.33 a barrel in trading on Friday. That's pushing up the price of heating oil to $1.55 a barrel. And obviously Americans are going to be feeling the pinch this winter.

Now, interestingly, Jack, the Chicago Board of Trade president Bernard Dan is saying that the United States economy can afford oil at $75 a barrel. Maybe he knows something we don't know. And obviously, if that happens, that would not be a great thing for the economy, but he seems to think that we can handle it. Let's talk about the markets quickly.

Last week, another down week, oil again the culprit. The Dow was down 121 points. Nasdaq and S&P down as well. And futures are looking weaker this morning, jack.

CAFFERTY: All right, Carton's restaurant, at the corner of Wabash and Chestnut. Come on down and we'll buy you a steak dinner.

SERWER: Yes. On you?


All right, the quiz, the Question of the Day, Windy City -- where did it come from. The year was 1893, and it has nothing to do with the fact the wind continuously blows in this town. It was coined by an editor of the "New York Sun," a guy named Charles Dana (ph). The officials from New York and Chicago were going back and forth about who was going to get to host the world's fair. And this guy wrote a piece denouncing the nonsensical claims of that Windy City as a way to describe the way the politicians were behaving.

So it's the politicians that are behind the name the Windy City; it has nothing to do with Lake Michigan. Nevertheless, the wind does blow here, and in the winter time, coming off that lake when it's cold, cuts through you like a knife. But in the summertime, it will give you a break from the stifling heat of the Chicago summers.

Chicago has Soldier Field, Lincoln Park, Wrigley and Comiskey Park, the stockyards on the south side, theater, jazz, blues, comedy, and bar none, some of the best barbecue around. They really know how to do that in this great city.

The town has everything. It's cosmopolitan, yet it has a Midwestern rural flavor. The people here are the real deal. There is nothing phony in Chicago. So the question is this, what comes to mind when you hear the name Chicago? Memories, thoughts, experiences you have had -- e-mail us at We'll read some of the stuff a bit later.

Now back to Bill and Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jack, thanks.

CAFFERTY: I haven't said that in a while, back to Bill and Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, you like it, huh?

CAFFERTY: You bet.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, some U.S. troops are refusing to carry out a mission in Iraq. Will there be any repercussions? We're going to take a look at that this morning.

Also, cement anchors, a dog and a battle of the experts again. A look at what may be the key factors for the defense in Scott Peterson's case.

Back in moment here, live in Chicago, on this AMERICAN MORNING.



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