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Interviews with Jennifer Millerwise & the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Chicago's Bridge Tenders; Interview with Irma P. Hall

Aired October 20, 2004 - 09:31   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's Kevin Costner. Remember this scene?

O'BRIEN: This is one of the greatest scenes from the movie "The Untouchables." The baby carriage scene, shot right here in Union Station. Dramatic. And there it is now, this morning.

HEMMER: 1987 that film. Andy Garcia saved a baby, right?

O'BRIEN: Just one of a slew of films shot here.

HEMMER: One of the great train stations in all the country, too. You know, you think about Grand Central in new York City, Union Station in D.C. -- this place is right up there with it. Great ceiling here, about 130 feet in the air, wonderful atrium area. And there is a reason why they call it the Great Hall, and we now know based on our experience here today.

Welcome back, everybody. About 8:30 here in Chicago, 9:30 back in New York as we continue our tour. In a moment, Jesse Jackson is our guest -- strong Kerry supporter for Senator Kerry. In a moment here, we're going to get his thoughts on this new polling that's coming out about African-Americans and how they are trending in a slight way toward President Bush on this election. We'll figure out what the Reverend has to say about that in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, we're going to hear from a member of the president's team, Jennifer Millerwise.

And ahead, among the many things that make Chicago unique are all those movable bridges which rise and fall in a ritual of the seasons. It's also an engineering marvel and a little bit of a traffic challenge, as you can ask anybody who's ever had to stop and wait while the sailboats go through. This morning, we're going to meet one of the folks who literally holds the key to this city.

HEMMER: It's a great river. But what makes it so special is the way it cuts through town, the bridge after bridge after bridge.

O'BRIEN: Beautiful And they all open simultaneously, just beautiful. All right.

Before we get to that, though, let's check in once again with Heidi Collins. She's got a look at the headlines for us this morning. Hey, Heidi, good morning.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. That's right, we are going to tell that bridge tender story in just a bit. And it was beautiful -- little chilly, but beautiful out there nonetheless.

First, though, now to the news this morning. A scary morning for some schoolchildren in Staten Island. The bus they were riding in got into an accident, then sliced through a front lawn and came close to crashing into a house. You see this accident there. Officials say all the schoolchildren have now been removed from the bus. None of the injuries appear to be serious -- very luckily there.

President Bush in the Midwest this morning. The president left the White House last hour for Mason City, Iowa, and he'll rally there before heading to Minnesota this afternoon. And Senator John Kerry also in Iowa this morning -- about 80 miles away, in fact. The senator will speak on national security, then will head to Pennsylvania. We'll have more politics coming up in the show a little bit later on.

Congress working on a final version of the Intelligence Reform Bill. This morning, negotiators are meeting for the first time. The Senate wants one national intelligence director; the House wants more provisions for homeland security. President Bush is looking to sign a unified version of the bill just as soon as possible.

And Martha Stewart's legal team is appealing. Stewart's attorneys say they didn't get a chance to cross-examine a former stockbroker after a damaging tape interview with him was played during the trial. They are expected to file a brief with the Federal Court of Appeals today. So, lots of action there still with the Martha Stewart case.

Bill, back now to you, live from Millennium Park. We'll tell you more about it in just a little bit.

HEMMER: Sounds great. It's looks great, too. Heidi, thanks.

Thirteen days before campaign 2004 concludes. Want to talk this hour with Jennifer Millerwise, deputy communications direction for the Bush campaign back in Arlington, Virginia. Welcome back, Jennifer. Nice to have you with us today.

JENNIFER MILLERWISE, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Thanks, Bill. You're in one of my favorite cities.

HEMMER: Oh, yeah. Well, it's one of ours now, as well, because we've had a great week so far.

Front page of "USA Today" -- the White House urging Congress to pass this reform for 9/11. Thirteen days away from an election. How do you separate the politics on an issue like this two weeks away?

MILLERWISE: Well, you know what? The president's main job is obviously to be president. And this is a very important piece of legislation that the Congress is looking at right now. It's legislation that will help to make sure that our community -- our intelligence communities are really coordinating better, are communicating better. It's critically important. It's something this president been calling for, and we're anxious to be able to sign it into law.

HEMMER: Just to follow up, though -- he was in New Jersey a few days ago and playing on the events of 9/11. Are politics entering this equation in a way that it should not when you play to the deaths of nearly 3,000 from three years ago?

MILLERWISE: Well, the fact is this will be the very first election we have after September 11th, and the American people are going to have a very clear choice between two very different candidates when it comes to how we should proceed in fighting this war on terror.

President Bush made his position clear. He wants decisive leadership where we're going out, we're fighting the terrorists where they breed, where they grow, where they're training. John Kerry now is looking at things in a very pre-September 11th period. His mindset is more that we should be responding to terrorism. We saw what happened. That's what we did in the 1990s, and what we got was September 11th. We think that this is probably the most important issue facing us in this election.

HEMMER: And we've been over that issue many times. Let me move to another one if I could -- the flu vaccine. How vulnerable is this president to charges of neglect when it comes to safeguarding the supply for Americans this year?

MILLERWISE: Well, I think this president has certainly been working towards a cure when you look at the fact that we -- he stockpiled 4.5 million of these vaccines for children. We're reaching out to other countries right now to try to get more of the vaccine into this country. And when the problem first started to arise, this president was really working for a solution, working with Congress.

The problem is there are only two manufacturers in this country and only two others in the entire world that make this vaccine.

HEMMER: Well, here in -- and here is the other problem, you're going to get this new supply -- two-and-a-half million doses announced yesterday -- but you're not going to get it until January. Too little too late?

MILLERWISE: Well, look, we need to get it here. This is the problem: There are not enough manufacturers because this is a high- risk, low-yield business. Trial lawyers literally are running these manufacturers out of the country. So, we put forth a plan. Congress liked it; John Kerry didn't. He didn't vote for it. John Edwards voted against it, because it said that we should stop frivolous lawsuits from running these manufacturers out of the country. Want to keep more of these producers here.

And that's part of the problem, something that John Kerry and John Edwards, every time they have a choice between protecting the American people and our healthcare system, they always seem to side with the trial lawyers. And it's a big problem.

HEMMER: OK. Jennifer, thanks. Jennifer Millerwise, let's leave it there. In a moment, Reverend Jesse Jackson is my guest. We'll get to that in a moment here, as well -- Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right. But first, let's look at the weather for the day ahead. Orelon Sidney is in for Chad Myers this morning, and she's at the CNN Center for us. Hey, Orelon. Good morning, again.


HEMMER: Orelon, thanks.

Back here in Chicago, now, Illinois native Reverend Jesse Jackson my guest now to talk about campaign 2004.

Good morning to you.


HEMMER: A respected survey was done -- respected in the African- American community -- Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, found the percentage of African-Americans voting for President Bush in this campaign -- it's doubled at this point, according to the polling numbers from 2000: 18 percent this year compared to nine percent of 2000.

Do you believe these numbers? And if so, why the gravitational pull?

JACKSON: At this stage, they had 74 percent for Gore, and he ended at 90 percent.

Those numbers will not stand, because blacks will ultimately vote our interests. Our interest is in raising minimum wage. Our interest is in overtime pay for overtime work. Our interest is in affirmative action. Our interest is in ending the war in Iraq.

So, those numbers will not stand.

HEMMER: So, you're saying that even though the president's communicating to this group of people now, it won't hold up in 13 days?

JACKSON: He's not really communicating.

I mean, he put a picture of Dr. King up in the White House one day, and the next they sent a lawyer to kill affirmative action in the Supreme Court. Laid a wreath at Dr. King's grave site one day, and the next day sent to the court a judge from Mississippi who is against our interests.

And so, when the symbols are over and the substance comes in, those numbers will not stand. HEMMER: Let me go back to the survey, though.

John Kerry now getting 69 percent of support from African- Americans compared to Al Gore, as we mentioned, of 90 percent back in 2000. I know you don't agree with these numbers here, but there's an article again today that says, yes, that John Kerry is not talking to African-Americans in this campaign. How does he change that?

JACKSON: The infrastructure came on late, as a matter of fact.

But as he reaches more and more to things as basic as Supreme Court justices, because that will determine minimum wage law for the next 50 years, reaches out and supports affirmative action, which is a big deal for women and people of color, supports minimum wage as he supports overtime pay for overtime work.

Indeed, the war in Iraq is a big deal in black America. After all, no child from Congress is in that war. No rich person's child is there. The black, the brown, the poor are fighting that war. So, the impact of that war on death, destruction and the economy is a big deal.

I am convinced, as I just left Florida, that the black vote is going to be not only a bigger vote than ever before, it is the swing vote. That's why there's always attention on the black vote, because how that vote goes will determine the winner or the loser; '92 and '96, both Dole and Bush got more black votes than Clinton -- more white votes than Clinton. Clinton got more white, black, and brown, and he won. In '92 and year 2000, Bush won by 547 -- a million black votes were disenfranchised.

So, our vote, in fact, is a swing vote.

HEMMER: And you mentioned Florida there -- also Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan very critical, as well.

JACKSON: Very critical states.

HEMMER: Listen to the comments from Dick Cheney given yesterday about his daughter going back to the debates here.


RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think what it showed clearly was this whole thing was calculated. I mean, if you've got your campaign manager out there immediately after he has said it during the course of the final debate, and then Mary Beth Cahill was on the tube saying, "Mary's fair game," that says to me they made a conscious decision that this was something they wanted to do and that it was part of a political strategy. I think that's what we found offensive.


HEMMER: Trying to get back to these polling numbers and trying to indicate what they tell us... JACKSON: But you know, Dick Cheney can't have it both ways. At a prayer breakfast, Alan Simpson commended Dick Cheney for standing by his lesbian daughter, who was the liaison for gays and lesbians with Coors Beer Company.

So, they can't on the one day be so kind of anti-gay bashing and act as if there is some reticence about affirming who their daughter is. I thought that Kerry was being generous; he was not being hostile and mean. He said nothing different than what Alan Simpson had said and what Cheney -- Democrats did not "out her," quote, unquote. Her father discussed who his daughter was and why he loved her.

HEMMER: Thank you, Reverend Jesse Jackson. Thanks for making time for us today.

JACKSON: Thank you.

HEMMER: Jennifer Millerwise a short time ago with the...

JACKSON: Welcome back.

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

Still to come this morning, an actress who started her career almost by accident. Thirty years later, she is sharing the screen with the likes of Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise. We're going to talk with her.

HEMMER: Also ahead in a moment, the seasonal dance along the Chicago River. It's something to see, too. Back in a moment on the road on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're coming to you live this morning from Chicago's Union Station. This is the third day, our third stop in this...

HEMMER: The tour continues.

O'BRIEN: ... fabulous city of Chicago. The tour continues here.

HEMMER: Want to get outside again. Back to Heidi Collins. She's at Millennium Park, one of the greatest new attractions here in the Windy City. How are you, Heidi? And good morning, again.

COLLINS: Doing great. It is a spectacular location, that's for sure. We're going to tell you a little bit more about a different sculpture over my left shoulder here in just a moment, but first I want to tell you about the bridge tenders of Chicago.

Our first location on Monday, you may remember, was along the banks of the Chicago River. Well, that river splits the area known as the Loop almost in two. There are about two dozen bridges along that river -- that section of the river. So, there are people who have to lift the bridges in order for the boats to come in and out. One of those people, Jesse Jones. Let's take a look.


JESSE JONES, CHICAGO BRIDGE TENDER: ... let me know when you're in place. 10-4, let's go.

COLLINS (voice-over): It's that time of year again in Chicago.

JONES: You got Michigan Avenue going in the air. Michigan Avenue going in the air. Nineteen sailboats inbound, one out.

COLLINS: For several weeks each spring and fall, Jesse Jones and other bridge tenders, as they're called, lift and lower the two dozen movable bridges that run over the Chicago River and through the heart of the city.

In the spring, the boats come out for a season of fun. And in the fall, the party's over, and the boats head home for the cold winter.

JONES: The season isn't over until November 15th. And even after November 15th, you'll still have some stragglers. We've had a boat run in December. Some people take a chance and try to stay out there as long as they can. They just hate to see the summer go.

COLLINS: And it's not always smooth sailing.

(on camera): We were just watching the water taxies. One came this way, one came this way, and then you got 19 other boats.

JONES: Right.

COLLINS: Does it get pretty dicey...

JONES: It does. It does at times. They're supposed to watch out for one another. Do the operation and make sure everything goes along as safely as possible without any injuries or anyone getting hurt.

COLLINS (voice-over): No accidents, and he's been doing this for 20 years.

(on camera): Why do you do this job?

JONES: I love it. I just got a thing for bridges.

COLLINS (voice-over): Then it's a good thing he's in Chicago, a city with more movable bridges than anywhere in the world. Many of them bascule bridges -- that's French for "teeter-totter." Most were built in the early part of the 20th century for commercial traffic, but now they're raised and lowered for the tall masts of these beautiful sailboats.

(on camera): Think you'll ever get a boat of your own?

JONES: That's a dream of mine.


JONES: Yeah. I would love that.

COLLINS: You ever seen a boat that you said, "A-ha, that's the one?"

JONES: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I've seen quite a few.

COLLINS: They're beautiful.

JONES: Yeah, they are, and it's a beautiful thing.


COLLINS: Yeah, each one of the leafs on the sides of the bridges as they open up weighs about 250 tons. So, very heavy, important job Jesse's got there.

Hey, want to show you real quick, Bill and Soledad, before we leave Millennium Park this morning, one more feature of the park. I'm going to step out of the shot so you can get a good look at it. This is known -- you see the face there in the background known as the Crown Fountain made by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. It features two 50-foot-high glass LED screens that you can see and the faces of 1,000 different Chicagoans. It's supposed to reflect Chicago.

These photos were taken by students at the School of Art Institute. And you know, water comes cascading down from the very top. You can see the forehead, the hair on that person comes out of the top and also out of their mouth. So, it's a real playful little fountain here -- little -- it's huge! And kids love it. They show up in their bathing suits and have a great time playing around in the water.

It's good stuff. Bill and Soledad, back it you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Heidi, thanks. That's pretty amazing.

This morning we're talking to a woman who is loved by Chicagoans. In fact, when it comes to her acting career, Irma P. Hall is a little bit of a late bloomer. She appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. And in the film -- in fact, in "The Ladykillers," she played a Bible- quoting church lady alongside Tom Hanks. But her real role, critics said, was scene stealer.

And in fact, Irma P. Hall, a former Chicagoan of the Year, joins us this morning. It's nice to have you. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for having us in your city. Congratulations on the Chicagoan of the Year Award, but also the one you brought this morning, which I want to show everybody, which is the Career Achievement Award, which you won on Saturday night at the film festival. So, congratulations for that.

IRMA P. HALL, ACTRESS: Right, right. Chicago Film Festival, the Black Perspective Committee.

O'BRIEN: You were in a terrible accident recently, not that long ago.

HALL: Yes, in January.

O'BRIEN: How are you doing?

HALL: Oh, I'm doing fine. I have a little ankle pain still, but I'm able to walk with my cane and without it now. I'm getting better and better every day. Thank God.

O'BRIEN: Your resume lists a ton of movies, but not only that, with superstars. I read that Tom Hanks came to visit you in the hospital.

HALL: Yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: That Tom Cruise came to come by and say hi, and also, of course, your friends and wellwishers, too. How was that?

HALL: Yeah, it was fun. The Coen Brothers and Marlon Wayans and Tom all came to see me, and that was wonderful. It really helped a lot.

O'BRIEN: You've been in the business a long time.

HALL: Since 1972.

O'BRIEN: Career Achievement Award with that being in there. You really got a late start. I read that you didn't get into your 30s. You were a teacher.

HALL: Yes, I was 36, and I continued to teach school the next 12 years, and finally when my daughter received her masters degree in special-ed, then I figured I had replaced myself because, you know, you start getting old, and it starts getting harder, and then I could just go on and do this.

I still -- I was just doing it from time to time. I wasn't thinking of it really as a career, and up until the movie "A Family Thing," with Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones, I would have considered myself just a teacher who acts.

O'BRIEN: Well, now you're an actor who acts and gets numerous awards. It's wonderful to have you.

HALL: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations on your new award, and thanks for having us in the city and talking to us.

And you're recovering nicely from your accident. That's great to see.

HALL: Yes, thank you. Thank you for visiting us. O'BRIEN: It's our pleasure.

HALL: Good to have you here.

O'BRIEN: It's our pleasure -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, thanks. Let's get a break here.

The Curse of the Bambino taking a toll on Wall Street. Andy explains in a moment. Back after this in Chicago, on the road in with AMERICAN MORNING.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Markets are opened. Here's Andy.


Stocks trading down this morning to start. We'll talk about that. Let's go to the Big Board and see what we have going here. You can see the Dow is down 25 points. a couple big stocks taking on the chin, including JP Morgan, higher cost with the Bank One merger.

Also Delta Airlines, get a load of this -- $646 million loss for the third quarter. That stock is now down to under $3. Could this be the month that airline files Chapter 11? it could be.

Traders on Wall Street kind of sluggish after the third late- night baseball game in a row, not only tired on Wall Street, but also up in Boston, where you have companies like Fidelity, Putman and Wellington, and tonight, they've got to go at it again. So maybe look for some sluggish trading today and tomorrow.

Speaking of baseball, XM satellite radio just signed a big deal with Major League Baseball to air a lot of its games on its network, going against Sirius, which of course just signed Howard Stern.

And finally this morning, Huffy, the bicycle maker which makes Huffy brand and Royce Union, filing for bankruptcy this morning. That's sad for the folks in Miamisburg, Ohio, where this company is headquartered.

HEMMER: Oh, my buddies.

SERWER: Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Oh, thanks, Andy. Wow, that is sad news. Everybody had a Huffy bike.

All right, thanks, Andy. We'll check in with you again.

Coming up on CNN, the five top tips for right way to rollover your 401(k) plan. That's coming up in the next hour with Rick Sanchez and Daryn Kagan on CNN LIVE TODAY.

AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: As we close out the show, Heidi, we'll see you later, OK, Millennium Park.

COLLINS: Sounds good, guys.

A hundred and 10 tons of solid steel behind me here. The Beam, they call it.

HEMMER: Excellent. Great job out there today. We'll see you tomorrow, and...

O'BRIEN: Tomorrow we're going to take us to the Field Museum, alongside Lake Michigan. We're going to meet Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex ever discovered, and take a look at the multimillion-dollar O'Hare expansion project. Plus, we've a visitor.

HEMMER: Actor Jim Belushi, Chicago native, is going to tell us what we need to see before we get out of here.

And we want to say goodbye to our friends Andy and Jack.

CAFFERTY: More of things Chicagoans say tomorrow in part two.


Thank you, everybody, for coming out today.


HEMMER: Red Sox fans, and a lot of them.

O'BRIEN: And they're all late for work now.

All right, move along, move along. It's time to go to work, folks.

We'll see you back here. Let's go to Daryn Kagan and Rick Sanchez. They're at the CNN Center this morning to take you through the next couple of hours on "CNN LIVE TODAY."


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