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AMERICAN MORNING

New AP Poll Shows President Bush, Senator Kerry in Dead Heat; Stranded Hikers

Aired October 22, 2004 - 07:00   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. That race for the White House oh so close again today. The president and John Kerry locked in that race that may be getting even closer.
More missing hikers come down from the mountain, the lucky ones, after an early blizzard brings tragedy.

You can paint the World Series red this year. The Cardinals will meet the Red Sox after an exciting seven-game series in St. Louis.

And for the World Series, Boston wearing a heavy heart. The investigation into a fan's death, killed by police during a celebration. All ahead this morning on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, this is AMERICAN MORNING, on the road, with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, and welcome, everybody. We're coming to you live from Chicago this morning. You just saw a beautiful shot of the city skyline, but it promises to be a great day, and our last day here in Chicago.

HEMMER: I don't know if anybody from the chamber of commerce is even up yet, but if they are, thank you, because it's been a great week for us here in Chicago. We started out earlier in the week along the river on Monday. On Tuesday, where'd were we go -- I can't even remember...

O'BRIEN: Loyola University.

HEMMER: The Water Tower, right along the Magnificent Mile. What's is that there, a spaceship? We'll explain that, Union Station on Wednesday. Yesterday, we were with Sue at the Great Field Museum. And today, we're at the Adler Planetarium.

And good morning. Welcome back.

O'BRIEN: Each and every day the weather has been nice and improving. It was warm and gorgeous.

What?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I just watched the little flying saucer go across...

O'BRIEN: Oh, the spaceship? CAFFERTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: That's cute. And there's no beeping of the horn.

CAFFERTY: We should get intensive production like this when we're in New York.

HEMMER: Kind of like The Jetsons.

Keeping up with the candidates today, new polls show President Bush maintaining a slight lead over Senator Kerry in a national matchup. But is that the best way to judge where the election is headed? Good question.

Ron Brownstein, "L.A. Times," analyst for CNN, talks to us in a moment about what he's seeing in numbers.

O'BRIEN: Also, continuing the theme of politics, what's the best political movie ever made? Is it a classic, like the first "Manchurian Candidate," or something a little more modern, like "Fahrenheit 9/11"? A little later, Toure's going to hash out the greatest political movies ever with Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper.

HEMMER: What's going on, Jack?

CAFFERTY: So ABC has finally got themselves a hit show. That wasn't me, by the way.

O'BRIEN: I like the afro.

CAFFERTY: Yes, ABC's finally got themselves a hit show, this "Desperate Housewives" situation. It's a tawdry little piece of business, where people are doing stuff on the dining room table besides setting out the fine bone china, if you get my drift. One of them is doing the gardener, while her old man is away at work. One of them is burning down their neighbor's house. We've got 20 million people a week watching those things, but the hang-wringers are just having a hissy over this thing. They are sure that "Desperate Housewives" will lead to the decline and fall of Western civilization as we know it. So we'll take a look at the bigtime controversy. Meanwhile, ABC is ringing the cash register and couldn't be happier. Bought time they got a hit.

HEMMER: Feels like a Friday over there, doesn't it? Thank you, Jack.

Let's bring in Heidi Collins now.

Good morning to you.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, once again. I have absolutely nothing to say.

I'll get straight to the news this morning now. Two more Reservists face charges in the connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Motion hearings will be held today, and tomorrow for Sergeant Javal Davis and Specialist Charles Graner. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick was sentenced to eight years yesterday for his part in the scandal. He was also reduced in rank to a private, and dishonorably discharged.

New claims that Pentagon officials exaggerated the link between Iraq and al Qaeda. Michigan Democrat Senator Carl Levin says top defense officials mishandled intelligence on Iraq's connection to terrorism. The link helped support the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq. The White House has repeatedly denied misusing intelligence.

In Missouri, a gunman who opened fire in a factory outside of St. Louis is now in custody. The former employee of Belt Service Corporation surrendered to police last night after a seven-hour standoff. One man was shot in the leg. He's been treated and released from the hospital.

And, with the Yankees behind them, the Boston Red Sox now have a new foe, the Cardinals. St. Louis soared to the national league championship last night against the Astros with a 5-2 win. The teams face off tomorrow night for game one of the World Series at Fenway Park.

Folks here in Chicago know how good that team is from St. Louis, 105 wins this year. So should be a great series.

COLLINS: Should be great.

HEMMER: Thank you, Heidi.

O'BRIEN: Well, just 11 days until the presidential election. A new Associated Press poll shows President Bush and Senator John Kerry in a dead heat. The president spent yesterday in Pennsylvania. It's his 40th trip there. He criticized Kerry's plan to expand health care and mocked Kerry's hunting trip in Ohio. The president begins his day in Pennsylvania before heading to Ohio and Florida, where he's also going to spend Saturday.

Senator Kerry campaigned in Minnesota yesterday, a state in which he has a slight lead over the president. Senator Kerry begins his day in Wisconsin, before he heads to Colorado and Nevada, and then tomorrow, it's off to New Mexico and Florida, where he's going to get some help from Al Gore.

HEMMER: I want to look behind the numbers. CNN's latest poll of polls, we call it, the average of recent national surveys, showing the president with a slight lead over Senator Kerry. And our political analyst today, Ron Brownstein, the "L.A. Times," back there in D.C.

Ron, good morning to you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POL. ANALYST: Good morning, Bill.

HEMMER: We're going to look at what else these numbers reveal to us. On the screen, you'll see the best news for the president, you say, in all of this is that he still leads Senator Kerry in just about every one of these polls. What's that tell you?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the best news for President Bush is pretty straightforward -- he's ahead. And he's been ahead, although the margins vary, in almost every poll since the Republican Convention in early September. He's been ahead even though his own approval ratings have been equivocal, and he's been ahead even when Senator Kerry has received good reviews from the public, especially during the debates.

Now Republicans look at those numbers and they conclude that even voters hesitant about President Bush's performance or ambivalent about his priorities are still reluctant to turn to John Kerry, and that's holding them back. There's some justification for reading it that way.

HEMMER: The best news you point out for Senator Kerry is that President Bush doesn't really get above 50 percent in the greater majority of those polls. What does that tell you?

BROWNSTEIN: That's fascinating. The same set of numbers provide the basis of optimism for both sides. President Bush in these polls, in almost all of these polls, is under 50 percent in his support, and in most of them, he's under 50 percent in his job approval. That's very important for two reasons. First, if you go back to 1952, there have been eight races with incumbent presidents. The five with approval ratings over 50 percent from Gallup all won reelection. The three under 50 all lost reelection.

The second thing is that incumbents, for all offices, but especially president, usually finish very close to their actual number in the polls. Undecided voters, historically at least, tend to break predominantly against the incumbent. So if an incumbent is under 50 percent, there's always the risk that he'll finish under 50 percent. In this case, under 49.5, or whatever it's going to take to win. So Democrats look at President Bush's numbers, and they say, yes, he may be ahead, but he's not where he needs to be to be safe, and if undecided voters follow the historic pattern, John Kerry still has a chance to overcome him in the final days.

HEMMER: Now that is on the national scale, but in these battleground states, we'll take Ohio for example here, Senator Kerry, according to the latest polls, leads President Bush there by six points. That's among registered voters. But among likely voters in Ohio, that lead is cut down really to just about a point. What's that say to you about a trend you may be seeing in some of these key states like Ohio?

BROWNSTEIN: That is fascinating and tantalizing, and a little bit ominous in one sense. First of all, Ohio, historically, has been slightly more Republican than the country. Republican presidential candidates always run slightly better in Ohio than they do nationally. So if John Kerry is ahead in Ohio while trailing nationally, we're either seeing a discordance in the polls, or a big change in the way Ohio is behaving. Almost all polls that try to separate out battleground states do show John Kerry running better in them than he is overall nationally. And when you look at a number like this in Ohio, it does raise the prospect that we could, again, see a divergence between the popular vote and the Electoral College vote. I'm not sure anybody in America would really look forward to that, but it is conceivable. Democrats are talking about, when you look at numbers like that in Ohio, that John Kerry this time might be able to eke out an Electoral College victory, even if he falls short in the popular vote. I think, obviously, that would be a very controversial result to have that twice in a row. We've never had that two consecutive elections.

HEMMER: Are you suggesting you and I are going to see each other in Columbus, Ohio, and not Tallahassee this time?

BROWNSTEIN: We spent a lot of time in Tallahassee. I'm hoping for at least one stop in Boston over the next week. But if we have to be in Columbus, Bill, there is no one I'd rather be there with.

HEMMER: Thank you, Ron. Talk to you later. Ron Brownstein, back in D.C. -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The Boston Police Department taking full responsibility for the death of a 21-year-old Red Sox fan. Rowdy fans who were celebrating Boston's victory over New York clashed with police early yesterday, burning a car, throwing bottles. Police fired several pepper spray canisters into the crowd, and one hit fan Victoria Snelgrove right in the face. Snelgrove died hours later. Her father, speaking outside the family's home, expressed outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SNELGROVE, FATHER OF VICTORIA SNELGROVE: What happened to her should not happen to any American citizen going to any type of game, no matter what. She loved the Red Sox. She went in to celebrate with friends. She was a bystander. She was out of the way. But she still got shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The Boston Police commissioner says the department is going to conduct an internal investigation. Snelgrove, a journalism major at Emerson College in Boston, would have turned 22 next week. In fact, the mayor says they're thinking about curbing liquor sales during games in order to calm the rowdiness of the crowd.

HEMMER: Kind of puts a damper on the celebration.

O'BRIEN: Damper, absolutely. How awful for that family.

HEMMER: We'll get to game one tomorrow night in Boston, Fenway Park, gametime right around 8:00 in Boston.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: Home base for us today has us look thing to the heavens.

O'BRIEN: From the sun, to the moon, the Milky Way, the Adler Planetarium really has something for everybody, both inside and out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Located on Chicago's beautiful lakefront, the planetarium, an astronomy museum, is part of a large museum campus, that includes the Field Museum and Shed Aquarium. A visit to the Adler is a trip through space and time.

Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, the planetarium was the first built in the Western hemisphere, and the first with a Zeiss, an optical projection device creating the illusion of a night sky. It's the only museum in the world with two full-sized planetarium theaters.

The cornerstone of a recent $40 million expansion is the virtual reality Star Rider Theater, taking visitors on a trip through the cosmos.

The planetarium's cutting-edge technology has led NASA to train astronauts here.

And while maybe not out of this world, the consensus is that the Adler also offers one of the best views of Lake Michigan, and Chicago's famous skyline.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Next week, the planetarium is going to host a public event to observe the total lunar eclipse, the last one until 2007. We're going to talk a little bit more about that in our 9:00 hour when the planetarium president is our guest.

HEMMER: Horoscopes are big around this place, at Adler.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes.

HEMMER: And you are? I'm Scorpio.

O'BRIEN: Oh. Virgo.

HEMMER: Now we know.

Let's get a break. Here in a moment, politics -- just kidding.

Politics and the movies, part two of Toure's conversation with Ebert and Roeper today. Find out what they felt about "Fahrenheit 9/11," and does that film have a chance to win best picture Oscar? We'll check in with Toure on that.

O'BRIEN: Also, ahead this morning, Was Alan Keyes snubbed by his own party? We're going to talk to a political columnist from the "Chicago Sun-Times."

HEMMER: Also life in death in Sierra, Nevada, as a brutal storms leaves even the most experienced hikers at the mercy of Mother Nature. Their story ahead, live in Chicago as we continue on this Friday morning. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Sunrise here on Lake Michigan just about 20 minutes away.

Good morning. Welcome back, everybody, just about 15 minutes past the hour.

Two elderly hikers are missing today in California's Sequoia National Park, and with temperatures there plummeting to subzero overnight, time is running out. The couple, ages 70 and 66, the latest hikers to become stranded in the Sierra, Nevada mountain range after an early season blizzard dumped heavy snow across the region.

Rusty Dornin out there in Yosemite National Park with more this morning.

Rusty, is there much news today?

Good morning.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, we have a couple of stranded climbers that are stuck on the face of El Capitan. They were forced to spend the night about 600 feet from the top. The search- and-rescue helicopter will be taking off in a couple of hours to go and pick them up.

But all in all, it turns out that yesterday was a very good day to be rescued in the mountains of California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN (voice-over): Across the Sierra Nevada, time was critical. The weather, postcard perfect for rescuers. At Yosemite's El Capitan, these climbers braved the blizzard this week, hanging on ropes, huddled on the face of the granite monolith. Under warm, sunny skies, they are trying to climb out on their own.

The only way to reach stranded climbers here is to fly a helicopter to the top and rappel rescuers down the face. Here you see them retrieving the bodies of a Japanese couple who froze to death.

Later the bodies were brought down the mountain. Apparently, the couple was trapped near a waterfall that was getting them wetter and wetter as temperatures dropped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get colder and colder, and with no shelter, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DORNIN: Across the Sierra to the southeast, four hikers rescued by a helicopter. Well prepared, they hunkered down for four days. But when the skies cleared, the snow was so deep they couldn't go anywhere.

JEFF PEACOCK, RESCUED HIKER: It took us, I don't know, 20 minutes to walk 100 yards. And we were so exhausted we could barely move.

DORNIN: This 73-year-old father says he and his son both imagined the worst.

TOM PEACOCK, RESCUED HIKER: Well, you have all kinds of dreams about what's going to happen if you don't make it, what happens to your family.

DOUG SCHNEIDER, RESCUED HIKER: And when we heard the chopper come over, we just ran out, grabbed all our mirrors and red signal flares, and waved them in.

DORNIN: This couple and their dog also waved in the rescuers. Missing since Monday, they were picked up in yet another part of the Sierra.

And on a final happy note, four hikers from a Santa Cruz winemaking family can toast their rescuers for finding them in the snows above Shaver Lake.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN: The thing that's so incredible is the folks that are stranded up here that are going to be rescued by the helicopter, there's also some other people that started their climb on El Capitan. They're not asking to be rescued. And there's weather coming in on Saturday, Saturday night, a few inches of snow. So we'll have to see what happens. Hopefully they are well equipped -- Bill.

HEMMER: Rusty, of those still stranded, how many, and what is their fate today?

DORNIN: Well, there is just the two that are stranded. or asked to be rescued. What happened was, there were six hikers, or climbers on the face. Two of them died, the Japanese couple. The other two were rescued yesterday. Now the two that are still up there, they apparently, according to the search-and-rescue people here, they asked to be rescued too late in the day. They couldn't get the crews up there. So they did take a helicopter up, and apparently they shot what they call a bean bag full of food over to them while they're hanging on the side of the cliff to get them through the night. And then they're going to try to get them off the mountain this morning.

HEMMER: Wow. We'll follow it, Rusty, thanks. Rusty Dornin live this morning in the American West -- Soledad.

DORNIN: Still to come this morning, Google offers up its first earnings reports since it went public. What's the word on that? Andy's "Minding Your Business."

But first, another Chicago fun fact. In a much publicized live television event back in 1986, Geraldo Rivera unsealed for the very first time Al Capone's secret vault beneath the Lexington Hotel. So what did that vault contain? We've got the answer, right after a short break.

Stay with us, as you're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: All right, back to the quiz now. Before the break, we asked you what was Al Capone's vault when Geraldo Rivera opened it back in 1986. The answer, a whole lot of nothing, but a few old gin bottles, plenty of dirt. The vault, of course, had been rumored to contain hordes of money, diamonds, whiskey, even maybe the bones of those who had upset Al Capone.

Well, despite the disappointment, the show was the highest rated syndicated special in television history.

HEMMER: So where's the money today, huh?

O'BRIEN: That's the big question. Maybe in another vault.

HEMMER: Yes, perhaps.

O'BRIEN: Want to get to Jack and Andy right now, as our live team coverage continues here in Chicago. I just had to say it.

How are you guys, and tell our viewers where you are.

CAFFERTY: Look at this. Isn't this pretty? We've got pretty pictures here this morning. Let's get a preview of markets. Those who were skeptical about Google and that big IPO, well, they're thinking it over a second time.

Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning, Jack.

And I was one of those people, eating a little crow here this morning. Absolutely. Yesterday it was all about earnings. Techs soared, while blue chips swooned. The Dow is down 21. You can see the Nasdaq up 20. We're trying to get to that 2,000 mark there. Stocks like eBay were on the move. We're going to feature a couple other techs this morning.

Let's talk about Google, first of all. Profits doubled at that company, and the stock was up almost $9 to $1.49 yesterday. It's up another 10 percent in premarket trading to 161, Jack. this stock came out at under $100. But at some point, insiders are going to be selling this baby, but there is gravity. Gravity still exists, believe me.

Just very quickly, a couple of others, Amazon, it's earnings were a little bit less than expected. Still, though, this company is going gangbusters. They're looking to sell $2.5 billion worth of goods in the fourth quarter, the Christmas season, so that ain't too bad.

And finally, Microsoft profits up 11 percent, a little bit lighter than people expected. And that stock has been below $30 now for 2 1/2 years, and going nowhere. CAFFERTY: That;s unbelievable. Nevertheless, techs are kind of riding to the rescue of the insurance companies on Wall Street these days. The techs are -- the only upside in market has been from technology the last few sessions.

SERWER: That's it.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Andy.

The American Family Association has got their shorts in a big knot over this ABC show "Desperate Housewives." They say the content is inappropriate, and the show portrays motherhood as a, quote, "worthless chore," unquote. The show also portrays a married woman having an affair with her gardener, who is much younger than she is, and a divorce who actually -- accidentally burns down her rival's house, and then of course there is the scene on the dining room table, which had nothing to do with having dinner, if you get my drift.

Two sponsors, Lowe's and Tyson Foods, have pulled their ads. The American Family Association claimed victory when that happened, but the show is a huge hit, 20 million viewers a week. The price of advertising has doubled since the show premiered and they began selling spots back in May.

Here's the question, is "Desperate Housewives" suitable for primetime network television. Am@CNN.com. We'll read some of the e- mails as we move through the morning.

Back to you, guys.

HEMMER: All right, good deal. Thank you, Jack.

In a moment, a surprise problem for John Kerry. Why he may be in trouble when it comes to the support of women voters.

Back in a moment. We go back on the campaign trail. We're live in Chicago on this Friday morning of AMERICAN MORNING. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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