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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

American Security Official Killed in Baghdad; Presidential Race Down to the Wire

Aired October 24, 2004 - 07:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. It is Sunday morning, October, 23rd (sic) toward the end of the month, 7:00 a.m. here in the east, 5:00 a.m. in Denver.
We want to say good morning to everyone. I'm Betty Nguyen.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us. Here's what's happening.

A deadly attack in Baghdad this morning. The victim, an American security official. Secretary of State Colin Powell says security officer Ed Seitz was killed in a mortar attack at a U.S. Army camp near the airport. Seitz was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. A U.S. soldier was injured in that attack.

Word of a massacre coming in from Iraq this morning. The bodies of 51 Iraqi Army recruits found near the Iranian border. Iraqi police say it appears insurgents ambushed the soldiers yesterday, forced them to lie on the ground and shot them. The soldiers were coming back home after graduating from training.

Emergency officials are trying to reach the site of a plane crash in California this morning. A Lear jet went down in the mountains near the Mexican border shortly after taking off from an airfield in San Diego. No word yet on casualties. Officials don't know how many people were on board.

In Northwest Japan, cracked roads, collapsed homes and lost lives, the aftermath of three powerful earthquakes that struck yesterday. Police say at least 15 people are dead and more than injured.

Two people remain missing and things are still shaking. Another strong aftershock hit the region today.

NGUYEN: And here's what we've got coming up this hour. Keeping an eye on the Buckeye State. Ohio voters are a key voting block in the presidential race. We will find out what's on the mind of state lawmakers just in a few minutes from now.

A little bit later in the hour, banking on a new law. It could save banks some time and money, but will it do the same for you?

Also, we'll take a look at girl power in politics. Women are making their mark in this year's political race and in a big way. But first, it is coming down to the wire in the presidential race. And that is our top story today. Today begins the last full week of campaigning. And the candidates are still statistically dead even. A "Newsweek" poll taken Thursday and Friday shows President Bush and Senator Kerry tied at 46 percent each among registered voters. But among likely voters, Bush has a slight edge, leading Senator Kerry 48 to 46 percent.

Now after we plug those numbers into our poll of polls, which averages all major national polls, the results are just about the same. In that survey, Bush holds a three point lead over Kerry.

HARRIS: No breathing room there.

And there's no rest for the candidates this Sunday morning. They're hitting the campaign trail. After a morning at his Texas ranch, President Bush will take part in a victory rally in New Mexico today. Yesterday, the president attended a rally at a football stadium in Jacksonville, Florida and put the spotlight on the war against terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first presidential election since September the 11th, 2001. Americans will go to the polls in a time of war and ongoing threats, unlike any we have faced before.

The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous. They are determined to strike us again. The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: About a dozen small planes entered President Bush's restricted air space yesterday. In one incident, fighter jets intercepted a plane flying over a stadium in Melbourne, Florida, where the president spoke. The White House says the pilot was questioned and then released.

Democrat John Kerry will spend the day campaigning in the pivotal state of Florida. He will start his day by attending a church service in Fort Lauderdale. Then he will head to a rally in Boca Raton while campaigning in New Mexico yesterday, Kerry urged a crowd of supporters to vote their hopes and not their fears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready to put just basic common sense back into the decisions of our country? Are you ready for a president of the United States who tells you the truth and nothing but the truth? Are you ready for a president who fights for the middle class, not just for the powerful? Are you ready to put America back to work at the jobs that pay more than the ones we're losing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, the latest polls show Bush and Kerry are statistically tied in New Mexico. Four years ago, Al Gore narrowly won there.

NGUYEN: In other political news, more newspaper endorsements are out this morning. In the battleground state of Ohio, the conservative "Columbus Dispatch" endorses President Bush. But it wasn't an enthusiastic endorsement. The paper says Bush would stand a better chance of leading the nation up the difficult road that lies ahead, but the paper took the president took to task for his borrow and spent fiscal policies.

Meanwhile, Senator Kerry wins an endorsement from "The Washington Post." The Post praises Kerry's promise to fight the war in Iraq, hunt down terrorists, and reach out to allies. "The Des Moines Register" also endorsed Kerry, saying both candidates would day everything to make America safer, but it says Kerry has more to offer on a broader range of issues.

HARRIS: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to place independent candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The high court denied Nader's request to review Pennsylvania's decision to remove them. The state court cited flawed signatures on voter petition sheets.

NGUYEN: Now we want to go to the changing face of American politics. Women are making stronger strides into elected offices. And as our Alina Cho reports, gender is becoming less of an issue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Pennsylvania's 13th district, a coming of age.

MELISSA BROWN (R), PA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.

BROWN: MELISSA BROWN.

CHO: Republican Melissa Brown running against Democrat Allyson Schwarz for the Philadelphia suburbs open seat, one of 11 races for House seats where women are competing against other women and gender isn't the biggest issue on the platform.

BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they said oh, we'll vote for you. You're a woman, immediately, I say, I'm running against a woman.

ALLYSON SCHWARZ, (D), PA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I've been surprised that that's been less of an issue than you might think and maybe that's what we've gotten to in 2004.

CHO (on camera): What we've gotten to is a record 139 women running for U.S. House seats this year. Ten women are running for the Senate, three for governor. Of the House seats, roughly a third of the competitive districts feature a female candidate. And if all of them win, 12 more women will be heading to Washington, adding to the 74 female members of Congress who are already there.

SCHWARZ: The competitive races around the country, majority of women candidates are running in suburban districts. Suburban Philadelphia, suburban New York, suburban Illinois.

CHO (voice-over): Places where so-called kitchen table platforms like health care and education dominate the discourse. Candidates to watch, Republican Cathy McMorris, the favorite to win a House seat in Spokane, Washington. Political newcomer Stephanie Herseth is a Democrat doing well in conservative South Dakota. Back in Pennsylvania and the Brown/Schwartz race, proof that women are equally as adept as their male counterparts at slinging mud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's back, Melissa Brown, with her gross distortions, her outright lies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allyson Schwarz wants you to think she's tough on crime, take a look.

CHO: It's equally ugly in debates.

SCHWARZ: Hang on one second...

BROWN: I was just going to say...

SCHWARZ: Let me just say that...

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: And with a little more than a week to go before the election, may the best woman win.

Alina Cho, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: So speaking of women in power, as the campaign season heads into the home stretch, we'll get some input from Ohio, considered a battleground state in the presidential race. State representative Catherine Barrett and Linda Reidelbach will join us in just a few minutes.

HARRIS: And we're looking for some feedback from you on a contentious issue. It really is -- the electoral college for the popular vote. Which do you think is the best system? We'll share your thoughts as Sunday morning rolls on. Just drop us an e-mail at wam@cnn.com.

NGUYEN: Well, is it possible the flu vaccine could become the latest street drug? A growing black market is prompting thefts of little flu vaccine is left.

And a major change or major changes, in fact, are ahead for the way your bank does business. We'll tell you what you need to know to better protect your bottom line. Plus a teen pop star fizzled during a live performance. We'll show you the melt down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Let me give you some Sunday stories now. The short supply of influenza vaccine in the U.S. appears to have gotten even shorter. Police in Merced, California say about 900 doses of vaccine have been stolen from a clinic. The vaccine had been kept in unlocked lab refrigerator and police think it is now headed for the black market.

The vaccine shortage isn't keeping some Americans, though, from getting their flu jabs. They're heading north of the border. A ferry company is booking trips from Seattle to Canada, complete with a flu shot and a Canadian port. The round-trip price? $105. The first boatload of flu shot seekers sets off tomorrow morning.

And in northern Arizona, some clean-up work at Republican party headquarters in Flagstaff. Vandals smashed a large glass door and spattered the windows with eggs. And some flyers criticizing President Bush were found outside that building. Meantime, Republicans and Democrats have reported torn and damaged campaign signs throughout Flagstaff.

Was it a hot night in a cold Boston. Plenty of runs, hits, and errors in game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park. But when it ended, the Red Sox won 11 to 9.

HARRIS: Wow.

NGUYEN: That's a pretty score there over the St. Louis Cardinals, to take a one game to none lead over the best of seven series. The two tangle again tonight.

And want you to check this out. Pop star Ashley Simpson makes an appearance on "Saturday Night Live." Maybe we'll get that video, but something goes wrong. We'll show you that exact video a little bit later in the show. It's quite interesting.

HARRIS: You won't quite believe it.

NGUYEN: You don't want to miss it, yes.

HARRIS: Yes. On November 2nd, how Ohio votes may determine who becomes president. 11 states are considered toss-ups, but the candidate focus is on three -- Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

To talk about the presidential race and other major issues in the buckeye state, two members of the Ohio legislature. Democratic State Representative Catherine Barrett is in Cincinnati. And Republican Representative Linda Reidelbach is in Columbus.

Ladies, good morning.

Well, Linda, let me begin with you. You wake up this morning to find that your local paper, "The Columbus Dispatch" is endorsing the president, but in less than enthusiastic terms. Let me read a bit of the endorsement to you and then have you respond. "Mr. Bush has vastly expanded the reach of the federal government with the Medicare drug benefit and the no child left behind act. At the same time, he has increased the government's obligations. Mr. Bush has slashed taxes, resulting in the highest budget deficit in U.S. history. This is not a conservative record.

Did you expect more from your local paper?

REP. LINDA REIDELBACH (R), OHIO STATE HOUSE: Oh, well, no, not really. In fact, "The Columbus Dispatch" is not necessarily a conservative leaning newspaper at this point in time, but...

HARRIS: Oh, really? Is that true?

REIDELBACH: In fact -- pardon me?

HARRIS: You believe that? That's true?

REIDELBACH: Oh, well, yes, I think that would be an opinion of a number of people.

HARRIS: OK.

REIDELBACH: In fact, I had heard -- in fact, I did not know that that was the endorsement this morning. I left so early, I didn't see the newspaper before I came over to the studio to be with you.

HARRIS: So we shared some news with you this morning?

REIDELBACH: Some news. But I had heard in the week prior that people thought they were going to endorse John Kerry. So I'm happy that no, they endorsed George Bush. Good choice.

HARRIS: And Catherine, what are your thoughts? It seems that even in this endorsement, the label of John Kerry as a flip-flopper carries the day, at least in this endorsement?

REP. CATHERINE BARRETT (D), OHIO STATE HOUSE: You're talking about -- that was in "The Columbus Dispatch?"

HARRIS: In "The Columbus Dispatch," yes.

BARRETT: OK, I have not seen "The Columbus Dispatch."

HARRIS: OK.

BARRETT: But he's not a flip-flop. When he gets information, he processed that information. And he makes a decision. And sometimes you have to change the prior decision.

He has been steady on what he's going to do for Ohio and for the country.

HARRIS: Linda, what is the big issue on the ground in your precinct, in your district there in Columbus? REIDELBACH: Education is always a big issue. And as well as taxes and tax reform. So those are two big issues in my district.

HARRIS: And Catherine, how about you? Are you hearing the same kinds of things?

BARRETT: No. Jobs is the largest issue in the state of Ohio. Ohio has lost over 200,000 jobs. And that makes our revenue down in Columbus. So we do have a budget deficit, approximately $5 billion.

HARRIS: Catherine, can a president create jobs?

BARRETT: A president can help stop the bleeding of jobs out of the state of Ohio. Corporations have been given incentives to move jobs to other countries and out of the state of Ohio.

HARRIS: And Linda, are you concerned that the tone has been set? Or you're certainly concerned with job losses in Ohio. What do you want Mr. Bush to do or a President Kerry to do in terms of turning around those trends and turning around those numbers?

REIDELBACH: Well, when you ask Catherine if the president can create jobs, no, the president cannot create jobs. Nor can our state government create jobs. But what we can do is create a climate so that we can have a prosperous job growth. And those are the things that the government can do. And President Bush has been doing that.

You know, we've gone through, in my lifetime, the greatest tragedy here on U.S. soil for all time. So having seen that and looking at the progress, we've made sense then. Yes, I'm optimistic and I think that we can continue that in Ohio as well as across the nation.

BARRETT: Linda, I disagree with you on that. During the Clinton administration...

REIDELBACH: I expected you to.

BARRETT: Yes. Well during the Clinton administration, there were over two million jobs created in this country. So don't say the president doesn't have an effect on that. John Kerry...

REIDELBACH: Well, no, I didn't say they don't have an effect. I'm just saying that government does not create wealth. And all the money that the government has comes out of the taxpayer pocket.

And as far as the tax cuts go, we need that for small business owners. We need that for new investment for companies to create jobs. And so that's all part of it.

HARRIS: Catherine, let me ask you a quick question here. How concerned are you about a fair and equitable election? We're hearing all kinds of initial challenges to voter registration forms. How concerned are you that you have a fair election on the 2nd?

BARRETT: I am very concerned about this election, especially in Ohio, because we have a number -- we have four different voting ways to vote. And Hamilton County, we have the punch cards, the same punch cards they had in Florida. And I'm concerned about the fraud.

I'm hearing more and more about fraud. And our secretary of state has flip-flopped about how we're going to count votes. And when you don't count provision of votes, I think that's an issue. And I think people are mobile and special lower income people that move around. And I think every vote should count.

HARRIS: And Linda, let me give you the last word on this. How concerned are you?

REIDELBACH: Well, I think it is a concern. However, I do not believe that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has flip-flopped. The provisional ballot, as you know, a judge in I believe it was Cuyahoga County said that those who are voting provisionally have to be able to vote anywhere in the county. And our state law says that they need to vote in their precinct.

And that will -- that's going back to the appeals court on Tuesday, I believe.

But you know, voters have a responsibility, too. What -- if you have a punch card, you need to be able to punch your card properly and read it and know what you're doing. You also need to know where you are legally registered to vote. So the voter has the responsibility as well.

HARRIS: Well, we're going to leave it right there.

BARRETT: Well, I'd just like to say...

HARRIS: OK, very quickly.

BARRETT: ...there are people that are not able to punch cards. We have elderly people that need help. We have people need help in voting. And I think this probably needs to stop.

REIDELBACH: Well, that wasn't the issue for the question. And I would agree with you on that, but Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is doing a fine job. And I think he is right. And the Justice Department...

HARRIS: And ladies, we will leave it there. Catherine Barrett and Linda Reidelbach.

REIDELBACH: Thank you, Tony. Thanks, Catherine.

HARRIS: Thank you both for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

BARRETT: Thank you for having me.

HARRIS: Betty?

NGUYEN: All right, here's a question for you. Are you ready for Check 21? Substitute checks, overdraft fees, bouncing risk, are banks working for or against you? We will spell out the check writing changes and tell you what to look for later this hour on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Gunned down on the way home from training camp, officials report a massacre of new Iraqi soldiers. Details in a live report next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

NGUYEN: Plus, finding new life after the tour of duty. The story of this American hero when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Just a gruesome discovery in Iraq. 51 new Army recruits shot to death just after graduation. Welcome back. I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. It is October 24th. We have a live report from Baghdad in just a minute. But first, here's a look at those headlines.

The violence in Iraq has claimed another American's life. A U.S. diplomat has been killed in a mortar attack. That mortar landed at Camp Victory, headquarters of coalition ground forces near the Baghdad Airport. The victims, Ed Seitz, was the State Department security officer in Baghdad.

Now to Afghanistan, a suicide bombing in Kabul takes the lives of an American woman and an 11-year old Afghan girl. The attacker with grenades strapped to his body pulled the pins in a busy shopping district yesterday. Seven others were wounded, including three NATO peacekeepers.

Visiting Japan today, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington seeks a peaceful solution to the impasse of North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea has refused to set a date for a fourth round of talks with the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia.

President Bush and Senator John Kerry are crossing paths as they criss cross the country. After four rallies in Florida, Bush is in New Mexico today. And after rallies in Colorado and New Mexico, Kerry is in Florida. Both states are crucial for both candidates.

HARRIS: More now on the grisly discovery made in eastern Iraq this morning. 51 Iraqi Army recruits found shot to death near the Iranian border. Karl Penhaul is in Baghdad with details.

Hi, Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Tony. Those Iraqi soldiers were recent graduates from an Army training school. They were actually heading home on leave to spend a few days with friends and family. Their bus, three mini buses in fact that they were traveling on were intercepted by heavily armed insurgents.

We understand once those buses were intercepted, they were killed execution style, were told to laid down on the ground, and then riddled with bullets, according to sources within the Iraqi defense ministry, the Iraqi interior ministry, and provincial police chiefs.

Now they have told us also that there are at least 49 Iraqi soldiers killed, but that figure could be as high as 51. The area that they were killed in about 70 miles east of Baghdad, some 10, 15 miles from the Iranian border. This is one of the reasons it's a pretty inhospitable area there. Obviously difficult security situation there, too.

This is why it's taking a little bit of time to get the full picture of exactly what happened. We are told, though, that those buses were intercepted late afternoon yesterday, but the bodies were discovered in the course of the night by an Iraqi Army patrol, we're told.

Now in another incident close to home here in Baghdad, a U.S. diplomatic security agent has been killed. He died in a mortar attack on Camp Victory here in Baghdad. That occurred in the early hours of the morning while that security agent was sleeping.

We're told by U.S. embassy staff that this is the first full-time State Department official to be killed in Iraq, Tony.

HARRIS: Karl, if you would, give us sort of the lay of the land, an update on the situation in Fallujah this morning?

PENHAUL: Another air strike by U.S. Marine jets on Fallujah, this time Marine jets were in action just north of the city. They pounded what Marine sources are describing as a command and control post for the insurgents there. They haven't been able to give us any casualty figures, but they do tell us that command and control post was destroyed.

However, Fallujah police on the ground, they tell us that there are four people dead. They say that two Iraqi policemen were killed in that strike. And two other people they're describing as civilians.

It's a very difficult situation inside Fallujah to get accurate information, because much of the city is controlled by insurgents. But obviously, we're trying to follow up and get some precision on this, Tony,

HARRIS: OK, we appreciate it. Karl Penhaul live from Baghdad this morning for us. Karl, thank you. Betty?

NGUYEN: Well, from desperate acts to tales of hope, often we bring you stories of little known heroes from the conflict in Iraq. This week, we introduce you to Eric Castro.

CNN's Casey Wian has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Erick Castro joined the military at 19, to see the world. In 2003, he was deployed to Iraq as an Army combat engineer. He was there six months when his life changed forever.

Riding in an armored personnel carrier, his squad came under attack. A single shot from a handheld Soviet anti-tank weapon took a horrific toll.

SGT. ERICK CASTRO (RET.), U.S. ARMY: It hits the vehicle, it explodes on impact. Creates a small hole, and the titanium rod goes through the whole vehicle. And it hit three guys right in the femur, right in the leg. So it hit us and it took the legs right off.

WIAN: Three soldiers lost their legs simultaneously.

Castro remembers little until he woke up a week later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

CASTRO: First couple of days, it's still depressing. It's like, oh, I lost a leg, I'm useless, I'm not going to be able to do anything with the rest of my life. I'm only 24.

WIAN: But as time went by, he learned to live as an amputee.

CASTRO: Within three months, I was completely rehabed. I was now starting to walk on the prosthetic, on the C-leg, and then within six months I was walking on the C-leg, with just one crutch, getting around, doing everything on my own.

WIAN: While he awaits adjustments to his prosthetic leg, Castro cheerfully gets around on crutches, appreciating just how lucky he is to be alive.

CASTRO: If it was Vietnam or some other war, I think I would have been dead.

WIAN: Castro says in spite of his injury, he has no regrets.

CASTRO: The military showed me so much things that a guy from Santa Ana would never do or see. I've been in Paris twice. I lived in Germany for two years. I have been to Barcelona, I've been to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I have been to several states -- several other states besides California. Some people don't get out of Orange County.

WIAN: Now Castro is studying to become a mechanical engineer. Casey Wian, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Such an optimistic outlook on all of it. Well, we bring you heroes stories every week that is, right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HARRIS: Yes, here's a question for you this morning. Have you floated any checks lately? NGUYEN: Hopefully not.

HARRIS: Define lately. Well, when you write a check before you have the money in the account, there can be problems. But if you have to have it now, you better lose it before October 28th. We'll tell you exactly why when CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues.

NGUYEN: And don't forget to drop us an e-mail. The question this morning is what is the best election system? Electoral college versus popular vote? Tell us what you think. We're at wam@cnn.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, a new law that takes effect this week will save banks a lot of time and money, but consumers who count on floating checks for a few days, well they could end up paying the price. The law allows banks to replace original paper checks with digital images called substitute checks.

Now Vera Gibbons of Kiplinger's "Personal Finance" magazine is here to tell us what it means for your bottom line. Good morning to you.

VERA GIBBONS, KIPLINGER'S PERSONAL FINANCE: Good morning, Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, this thing is called Checks 21. Tell us exactly how it came about and how does it work?

GIBBONS: Well, here's how it works very simply. You write the check to your landlord or at the grocery store, same as you always would. But rather than the check slowly working its way through the system, going to four different places, the bank gets your check. They make a copy of it, a substitute copy as it's called. They destroy the original and then they shoot around a digital image of that check electronically.

So rather than the process taking four or five business days, your check potentially is cleared in just one day, because everything's happening virtually instantaneously.

NGUYEN: All right, so this can cause a problem for people who like to float checks, meaning they'll write a check. The money's not there just yet, but by the time it goes through the system, that money gets there. That's going to be a problem under this new system, correct?

GIBBONS: It's definitely going to be a problem under this new system. No more playing the float game. There's a lesson to be learned in all of this. You've got to make sure that you've got money in your account before you write those checks. Now would be a good time, Betty, as well to set up direct deposit with your employer to make sure that money is in your account as quickly as possible.

Social Security recipients can also set up direct deposit. So that would be one way to protect yourself. NGUYEN: So are we looking at more bounced checks and overdraft fees? I mean, how does this really help the consumer? Does it just help the banks?

GIBBONS: Yes. That's a good point. Banks will save an estimated $2 billion a year in transportation costs and other costs associated with processing those paper checks. And it's not like they're passing on the savings to consumers. In fact, it could be a big financial drain for consumers in terms of overdraft fees. They'll be paying more in overdraft fees. And you can definitely expect more bounced checks.

In fact, the Consumer Federation estimates that because of Check 21, consumers will be bouncing an additional seven million checks per year and paying an additional $170 million a year.

NGUYEN: Wow.

GIBBONS: In overdraft fees. So pretty significant.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. All right, so what if somewhere in the system the check is maybe withdrawn twice or there's problem? Is there any recourse for the person who wrote that check originally?

GIBBONS: The best recourse I would suggest is make sure that you do get that substitute check, something you may have to request with your bank, depending on which bank you operate with.

But the substitute check is an illegal copy of your check. It proves payment is the equivalent of your original check, which banks will likely destroy.

So you do want to get a copy of that check. And again, you want to stop living on float because that could be extremely, extremely costly.

NGUYEN: All right. And if checks clear faster, does that mean that deposits clear faster, too?

GIBBONS: Well, that's the big problem. Banks are under no obligation to make those deposits go any more quickly. So you know, your check could clear as little as just one day, but your deposit may take four or five business days, depending on where the check is coming from.

So that's where it gets a little bit bad.

NGUYEN: Sounds like a one way street here.

GIBBONS: It is. It is. Everybody's going to operate a little bit differently. And this process is slowly going to roll out. But come October 28th, you'll see some changes on that -- on your statement.

NGUYEN: And that happens October 28th, not too long from now. So we all better get ready. No floating checks. GIBBONS: That's the lesson to be taken away from this.

NGUYEN: It's over with. All right, Vera Gibbons with Kiplinger's "Personal Finance." We thank you for your information this morning.

GIBBONS: Thanks.

NGUYEN: We want to go over some specific tips from consumers union to help you keep your banking in the black. You want to ask for a recredit writing -- that's called a recredit -- you want that in writing. That means that something goes wrong, you make a written request to recredit your account. And you ask for a substitute check.

Now expect checks to clear faster. As we mentioned, do not write a check if you don't have the funds. Do not sign up for voluntary check truncation, which is non return of your checks. So a lot to keep in mind as this change goes into effect on October 28th.

HARRIS: Headlines now at the quarter hour. 49 Iraqi soldiers have been found shot to death near the border with Iran. They were ambushed Saturday shortly after graduating from training camp.

Major newspaper endorsements in two key swing states are split between President George Bush and Senator John Kerry. The conservative "Columbus Ohio Dispatch" backs Bush. In Iowa, "The Des Moines Register" endorses Kerry.

Rescue crews are hiking to the crash site of a Lear jet near San Diego. The plane went down shortly after take-off in the mountains near the Mexican border.

Does your health care plan include praying you don't get sick? You're not alone.

NGUYEN: In our next examination of the candidates on the issues, we are putting health care and medical insurance under the microscope. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Well, the Navy calls it an important weapon in the war on terror. The U.S.S. Virginia is the lead ship in a new class of fast attack submarines. The $2.2 billion vessel is able to maneuver close to the shore in shallow waters. The Navy commission the Virginia in a ceremony in Norfolk yesterday.

NGUYEN: Health care, it is a major issue of the presidential campaign, especially for the millions of Americans with no health insurance.

As part of our ongoing series, national correspondent Bob Franken examines the problem and what each of the candidates promises to do to fix it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life without health care coverage is life on the edge of disaster. But it's a fact of life for 45 million Americans now. And that includes 20 million who are employed, like Washington waitress Maya Long.

MAYA LONG, WAITRESS: It's always that fear that something would happen. You get sick, so you wouldn't be able to take care of yourself.

FRANKEN: But year after year, there have been staggering increases in health insurance premiums, up 36 percent in the last four years. Maya's employer, a small business owner, just can't afford it.

GENE LAWSON, RESTAURANT CO-OWNER: It would cost us, assuming everyone that was eligible applied, it would have cost us in the neighborhood of an extra $5,000 a month.

FRANKEN: Health care is a national anxiety. The scale of the proposals from each candidate range from massive to more massive. John Kerry claims that his would provide new coverage for 27 million. It would expand eligibility for the same health insurance plans offered to federal employees and provide government assistance to lighten the crushing burden on employers.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if employers are paying in less, the cost of doing business is reduced. And American companies become more competitive.

FRANKEN: But critics argue Kerry's plan would break the bank. By his estimate alone, it would cost $650 billion over 10 years. And some suggest it could go over a trillion.

The president, meanwhile, proposes tax credits and small business pools, called Association Plans.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to change law to allow small firms to pool together, so they can purchase insurance at the same discounts as big businesses get.

FRANKEN: The cost, according to the Bush campaign, about $102 billion over a decade. But critics say he's simply nibbling at the edges, providing health insurance for anywhere from the $11 million that the campaign estimates to as few as $1 million.

It's been out there, but health care has not really dominated the campaign.

EDWARD HOWARD, ALLIANCE FOR HEALTH REFORM: People who lack health insurance often are people who on the one hand aren't very politically powerful. They tend to be lower income. They aren't as politically active. And some politicians think they can ignore this as a result.

FRANKEN: But not one the uninsured can ignore.

LONG: To not know if you can go to the doctor, to have friends who get sick and can't get treated because oh, they don't have insurance and they don't happen to have $400 that it's going to cost them to just go to an office visit.

FRANKEN (on camera): Health care is a crisis that gets worse and worse. All agree something must be done about it. There's little agreement on what.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

NGUYEN: Well, abortion rights, gay rights, and stem cell research are some of the other issues at the center of the national debate over values. Next week, Bob Franken tells us how values figure into the presidential race.

HARRIS: OK, guess what?

NGUYEN: What?

HARRIS: It's true. Pop singers lip sync many of their performances. We'll show...

NGUYEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right?

HARRIS: Well, yes. We'll we're going to show you a high tech attempt to sound good on live TV and the ways it can go wrong.

NGUYEN: Uh-oh. Stay tuned for that.

HARRIS: And good morning, Charlotte. Carolinas Panthers are home to take on the San Diego Chargers this afternoon. But the Panthers have got to get some folks healthy. Steve Smith, Steve and Davis, Sean Foster. LT's coming to town. We'll have your kick-off weather forecast next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once again, Ashlee Simpson.

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK, so -- yes, yes, that's kind of a big oops. Singer Ashlee Simpson has something -- I feel like we needed to set that up just a little bit to add to add to her blooper reel. There was a musical miscue you just heard there during Simpson's appearance on "Saturday Night Live". That was last night. Simpson eventually walked off the stage. You'll see it here in a second in frustration.

NGUYEN: Kind of danced off.

HARRIS: Well, kind of embarrassed. She just.

NGUYEN: Poor thing. HARRIS: Get that to go now. At the end of the show, she apologized to everyone and said her band, her band. She laid it on your band.

NGUYEN: See, I think that's the problem, though.

HARRIS: Band for the wrong song.

NGUYEN: Saying that the band played the wrong song, because I don't know if we can re-rack that at the beginning of it when you watch it.

HARRIS: Well...

NGUYEN: When you watch it, the band is -- they're not playing the guitars or anything, you hear the music up top.

HARRIS: You hear the track. You don't need to re-write that.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: All right, we want to get to at least one e-mail response to our question. It's on the electoral college versus the popular vote, what you think, which system do you prefer? And we have this e-mail from Randy. And Randy says "whatever happened to by the people," is it Sandy?

NGUYEN: It's Sandy in Texas. We have Sandy up first. She says "the electoral college is outdated and condescending to allow people to vote for who they want, and to know that our vote counts, then we have to change the system to the popular vote." Again, that's from Sandy in Texas.

Now on to Randy.

HARRIS: Now Randy. He puts it rather succinctly. "Whatever happened to by the people for the people?" Thank you, Randy.

NGUYEN: And of course, we invite you to keep sending those responses in. Electoral college versus the popular vote. Which do you think is the way to go? E-mail us at wam@cnn.com.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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