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AMERICAN MORNING

'Political Jab'; Closing Arguments Set for This Morning in Penalty Phase of Scott Peterson's Trial

Aired December 9, 2004 - 08:30   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Eight-thirty here in New York. The commute is under way. Good morning, everybody.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked some pretty tough questions yesterday by troops in Kuwait headed to Iraq very soon. Not everyone back in Washington, though, likes the answers. That Q&A session from yesterday part of our "Political Jab" today, so we'll get to that.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Scott Peterson's mother taking the stand in the sentencing phase of her son's murder trial. Very dramatic testimony got more emotional as it went on. A report this morning on just what she said and how the jurors reacted.

HEMMER: That woman has had one heck of a hand to play in her life -- at every single turn she's had tough stuff.

Heidi Collins back with us looking at the headlines and there is more news out of Ohio this morning. Good morning to you.

(NEWSBREAK)

HEMMER: In the meantime in this country, the 108th Congress now soon wrapping up its business. Time for a "Political Jab" at that and a bit more. From the right back with us today, Republican strategist Joe Watkins is in Philly.

Hey, Joe, good morning.

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hey, good morning, Bill, how are you?

HEMMER: I'm doing great. Thanks. Also from the left in D.C. Democratic strategist Jennifer Palmieri. Hey, Jenn, welcome back to you as well.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning Bill.

HEMMER: Jennifer, let's start with you about the 108th Congress. Here's what you have done here. A Medicare bill, a $15 billion bill for global AIDS relief in the fight there. The funding for a war. How do you assess what the Congress has done to date?

PALMIERI: Well, you certainly named the three best things that this Congress completed, but I think that what it will be remembered for is its pretty lackluster session and two things in particular stand out.

One is that this Republican leadership in the Congress gave Tom Delay a "get out of jail free" card in case he had -- in case he gets indicted later and also, and more importantly, is this notion from Speaker Hastert of he would only pass bills that a majority of -- a majority meaning a majority of Republicans, would support.

And you know Speaker Hastert is...

WATKINS: Jenn, remember -- remember Jenn -- that what the Republicans have now is what the Democrats had then with regard to Tom Delay. Our rules now look like the Democratic rules with regards to ethics.

PALMIERI: But the more important thing is that this notion of -- but what about, Joe, the notion that he -- Hastert will only pass something that a majority of -- the majority support? You know -- and he said that he had to do that because if he didn't he wouldn't be Speaker for very long. He's Speaker of the House of Representatives and that means...

WATKINS: They got a lot of good stuff done, Jenn.

PALMIERI: ... and it doesn't -- and not, you know, he's not Ed Gillespie, he's not head of the Republican Party. He's the head of the -- he's the head of the House of Representatives and this is just backing off from something that -- a principle that has been in place for hundreds of years, literally...

HEMMER: Let me move on to Donald Rumsfeld if I could here. Listen to what happened yesterday in Kuwait.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: As you know, you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: That was from yesterday. Joe, some back in D.C. are saying that answer is insufficient. How do you respond to that?

WATKINS: Well, I think the Secretary said it well when he said it's really a matter of physics; that all the money is there to get it done, to get the equipment made. The biggest problem is getting the equipment that the troops need to them in time.

The demand is so very great and obviously we want to do everything we can to support our troops. Let's not forget again that Donald Rumsfeld was there to really support the troops and to give them a pep talk. They're doing a great job, they've done a great job in Falluja and they're going to make it possible for these Iraqi elections to take place at the end of January.

HEMMER: Jennifer, what about it? Was it sufficient or not? PALMIERI: They don't only need a pep talk; they need body armor. And my first reaction is I cannot believe that we lost to these guys. You know, George Bush promised that during the campaign that if he got elected that the troops would have the body armor but, moreover, I mean Secretary Rumsfeld...

WATKINS: Well your guys voted against it, Jenn. Remember your guys voted against it -- I mean for the body armor.

PALMIERI: No, you know, that is an unfair distortion, Joe, and I can't believe that you would stoop to it.

WATKINS: That's not unfair, not unfair.

PALMIERI: But the point is -- no the point is -- it was incredibly glib answer from the Secretary of Defense about -- from a soldier who, you know -- I come from a military family. Soldiers don't stand up and challenge the Secretary of Defense unless they're very concerned about their own, you know, their own well-being and the well-being of their troops. And the point is if we weren't -- if we didn't have the Army that Donald Rumsfeld wanted to lead us into this war then he should not have led us into this war.

HEMMER: Want to counter that, Joe?

WATKINS: Clearly, this guy, the soldier, had a right to and he did -- he asked a question of the Secretary of Defense. And the Secretary said its really, it's a matter of physics. It's -- we want to...

(CROSSTALK)

PALMIERI: It's not a matter of physics; it's a matter of leadership. They should not have led us into this war if we were not prepared...

WATKINS: These guys are doing a great job in the fight for freedom in Iraq. We have to continue to support them and that's what Secretary Rumsfeld was doing.

PALMIERI: We do have to continue to support them.

HEMMER: Let's leave it there. To be continued at another time. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Joe.

PALMIERI: Thank you.

HEMMER: In Philly and D.C. this morning -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, closing arguments set for this morning in the penalty phase of Scott Peterson's trial. He was, as you well know convicted last month of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn son.

Rusty Dornin has been covering this trial for us in Redwood City, California. Joining us from there this morning. Rusty, good morning. RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well today is the day the jury will finally begin their deliberations to decide the fate of Scott Peterson. Now there's a possibility there could be one final witness, very brief witness, this morning the judge said. Otherwise the attorneys will begin their summations.

But yesterday it was the 39th witness and perhaps the most important that was on the stand to plead for Scott Peterson's life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN (voice-over): This was the Scott Peterson his mother Jackie told the jury about, describing a gentle, loving, caring boy. For nearly an hour, she answered questions in a soft voice, weeping often.

Jackie Peterson told the court about her own troubles, how her father was murdered. She was in an orphanage and had to give up two children for adoption. And she told the court about her eight-year relationship with Laci Peterson. Quote, "I loved Laci like Sharon loved Scott."

But it was when she thought about the possibility of a death sentence Jackie Peterson broke down. It would be a whole family wiped off the face of the earth. I beg you, she cried.

Laci Peterson's family showed no emotion and only one juror wiped her eyes during Jackie's testimony. Not an encouraging sign for the defense, say legal analysts.

DEAN JOHNSON, LEGAL ANALYST: This jury was cold, it was stone- faced, it was stoical. When a mother is begging for her son's life, to see a jury that cold, it's a very bad sign.

DORNIN: By law, the jury is forbidden to consider impact on a family, but nearly every witness called by the defense described the anguish they believe the Peterson family would suffer.

The other common theme? Scott Peterson is a good guy who deserves to live.

JIM HAMMER, LEGAL ANALYST: The jury can say you know what? This guy is not thoroughly evil. He has a little bit of good left to do on this earth. The jury could decide based simply on that to say I'm going to let him live out the rest of his days in prison.

DORNIN: Peterson's mother told the jury her son was painted as the devil and when the family left the courtroom Wednesday, Lee Peterson gave a parting shot to the news media.

LEE PETERSON, FATHER OF SCOTT PETERSON: Leave us and go on to your next lynching.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN: As you can see, the tension is mounting. The jury will be arriving at their hotel this morning with their bags packed and they will come over to the courthouse. The attorneys on both sides say that its going to take about two hours to finish their closing arguments and the judge told the jury he expects to give them instructions about 3:30 local time this afternoon -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Rusty Dornin for us in Redwood City. Rusty thanks -- Bill.

HEMMER: Twenty-two before the hour.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: Want to make sure you know: a bit later in the week, in fact, starting on Monday, AMERICAN MORNING is live in Tokyo. It is prime time in Japan, 9 p.m. to midnight we'll be broadcasting.

It is amazing the number of subscribers to CNN in Japan who watch this morning program, too, over there, so we'll dip into that. First time in Japan.

O'BRIEN: You been practicing your phrases?

HEMMER: No.

O'BRIEN: You had the little cheat sheet yesterday. Now I don't see it. Well, you've got a long flight.

HEMMER: I got a long way to go. You ever been to Japan?

O'BRIEN: Nope.

HEMMER: Neither have I. But I hear so many wonderful things about the culture and the people and really enchanting place so we'll bring it to you.

O'BRIEN: Looking forward to it. Thank you. Still to come this morning, when a $14,000 toy car still isn't enough, what can you get for those kids? Andy has got the low down on some pretty posh playthings.

HEMMER: Also in a moment here we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" -- Dick Clark's publicist says the TV host had only a minor stroke but could that still keep him on the sidelines and if so for how long? Back in a moment with Sanjay after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We are "Paging Dr. Gupta" this morning about stroke recovery following the news that Dick Clark is recuperating after a stroke this week. We'll talk with Sanjay in just a moment but first the story from CNN Sibila Vargas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dick Clark is recovering from what his publicist describes as a mild stroke suffered earlier this week.

DICK CLARK: Thank you all very much for coming.

VARGAS: Clark, who at age 75 is still one of the hardest-working men in show business is not expected at Monday's Golden Globe awards nominations. He's the show's executive producer.

According to a statement released in his name, Clark's doctors say he should be back in the swing of things before long. Hopefully in time to host his annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast from Times Square.

CLARK: It's wall-to-wall madness and entertainment.

VARGAS: Perhaps it's his work schedule that contributes to Clark's perceived eternal youth. The Emmy award winner is the driving force behind such shows as the "American Music Awards" and the hit drama "American Dreams," a show in which Clark's launching pad, "American Bandstand," is prominently featured.

Earlier this year, Clark announced he had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Ever the entrepreneur, Dick Clark turned that bad news into a job, serving as spokesman for Merck Pharmaceuticals. He's been afflicted with that disease for ten years, and it hasn't slowed him down a bit.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Sanjay to talk about the stroke and the recovery. Hey, Sanjay, good morning.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Not a lot of details yet coming out about Dick Clark and his stoke. For instance, what side of the brain it's on. Exactly what his symptoms are. But he is saying, as you saw in that written statement, that he should be back within three weeks, actually hosting the New Year's Eve special.

And that's just a few weeks away. A couple of things about stroke. It's the number three cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. What we're hearing specifically is that it's a mild stroke, in Mr. Clark's case, although that's a bit of a misnomer. Let me explain why for a second, Soledad.

You have things that are called strokes which are basically mean that the body is going to be left with some sort of permanent deficit. There are also things called TIAs, a lot of people have heard of that. That's actually not a stroke. What that means is that the body is going to fully recover from that.

If he has in fact had a stroke no matter how mild, he is going to be left with some sort of symptoms. You heard there as well that Mr. Clark has Type II diabetes. He talked about his Type II diabetes and his risk of stroke with Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARK: What got me shook up was when I went in 10, 11 years ago and they told me I had it -- I didn't think much about it. I do a little exercise, watch my diet. Take medication if necessary and all would be well. And about four, five months ago they announced that two-thirds of the people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And those are some of the numbers he's actually right about that. Many times, diabetes is associated with small vessel disease. That can be a risk factor for stroke as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

The question on everybody's mind is how likely is he to recover from this? There's a lot of data about that. Sixty percent of folks are going to regain functional independence after a stroke so the odds are in his favor. Twenty-two percent are permanently disabled. Stroke again being the leading cause of entry into a nursing home.

Hard to believe, Soledad, but he is 75 years old. He is male. He has diabetes. All of those things put him at an increased risk for stroke so having a stroke no way surprising. His recovery we're going to have to wait and see, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Now if he's got three weeks as you point out, what would be -- doctors tell him to be doing? I mean, when you're recovering from a stroke, do you rest? Or do you sort of do any kind of work to try to bring back functionality to the body parts that have been effected?

GUPTA: Right, and we don't know specifically what has been effected in his case yet. But if he had some weakness, for example, on one side of his body or the other, which is common with a stroke, they may be having him do some physical therapy. Things like that, to get his strength back up.

Again, three weeks is a pretty short turn around but it is possible. Really it's going to be important for him to control his risk factors, the risk factors we just mentioned. Again, managing high blood pressure, not smoking, controlling his diabetes, his blood sugars very tightly as well as his cholesterol. He may also be on a medication known as a blood thinner, Soledad.

You and I have talked about these types of medications. Plavix, for example, is one of those; aspirin is a blood thinner. They may have him be on a blood thinner mainly to prevent him from having another stroke, which is going to be the name of the game for him as well, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Sanjay thanks. And of course we hope that he is well and that we see him in three weeks doing what he always does.

GUPTA: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay thanks. Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Soledad. In a moment here holidays, we know, are very tough on military families separated by the call of duty. Staff Sergeant John Miller and his wife Kris have been apart four of the six years they have been married. This holiday in fact today we're reuniting them by satellite.

The "Holiday Homefront" still to come this hour after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Welcome back everybody.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Two quick clarifications before we get to the business news. Regarding the Brian Williams' comment there are no black members in the U.S. Senate. Barack Obama several of you have pointed out has not been sworn in yet. So technically he's not a member of the Senate. Picky, picky, picky.

And hoi-polloi refers to common people, not those rich morons that are evicting those two red-tail hawks (ph) from that 5th Avenue co-ops. I misused the word hoi-polloi. And for that I humbly apologize.

Now, preview of the markets, a check of the most ridiculously expensive toys for your gremlins this holiday season -- Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Hello, let's talk about the markets first of all. Yesterday a bit of a retreat on Wall Street. We can see at 53 points -- oops, I'm sorry. Check that. Market was up. I was thinking of Tuesday.

Yesterday the market was up. I apologize. This morning -- see I've got to keep track of this up. This morning, stocks could likely be down. The three-headed hydra of oil prices, chip stocks, and jobless claims dragging down futures this morning.

Yes, this is keeping up with the Trump's stuff. In terms of presents for your kids. And its just truly amazing, some of these things. We found some of the most expensive toys on the planet. Let's go through them.

How about this, a $15,000 Mercedes Benz? For -- a junior version. It's gas powered, 15 mph, three-speed. And your kid gets in an accident; you get a first class ticket on Lufthansa, Frankfurt for surgery. No, I made that last part up.

OK, how about a cotton candy machine, $1600, cotton candy machine. This is what -- serves 100 serving. Now what is this Old Mother Hubbard invites all the cousins over? I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

One hundred servings.

O'BRIEN: All that sugar? Never.

SERWER: Right. All right. Playhouse. This one is pretty good here. That's the -- you can't really see -- $30,000...

HEMMER: Thirty grand?

SERWER: Thirty grand playhouse...

O'BRIEN: That's a fabulous house!

SERWER: Listen to what's -- listen to what it's got in it. Lights, electricity, heating, air conditioning, running water. I mean, Pee Wee's got nothing on this thing.

Then we've got the Kilowatt, which is one of these new gaming systems where you actually have to move around, which is a good idea. They have these things...

HEMMER: Oh, very cool.

SERWER: So you're not sedentary. And you know we won't need reality any more pretty soon.

And then finally this -- I like this; it's the $12,000 tree house. And the good thing about this it actually comes -- it's a real tree. You don't need the tree. It comes with a tree. It's a real tree. It's a recycled hollowed out tree that comes with this thing. I think you need a bit of a yard with that, though, right?

CAFFERTY: Used to get a slinky.

SERWER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Remember those?

SERWER: Yes, I do. Silly Putty.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

SERWER: Silly Putty is an awfully good Christmas present. I think it still goes for about a buck 49.

CAFFERTY: All right. On to other things, more serious topic here in the holiday season getting underway.

A lot of service men and women are learning they won't be home as soon as they thought. Tours of duty being extended. The Miller family is dealing with that. Kris Miller is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her husband, Staff Sergeant John Miller is deployed in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAFF SGT. JOHN MILLER, U.S. ARMY: Yes, it never gets easier. Kosovo was really the first time I was away during the Christmas and New Year holidays -- well, Thanksgiving as well. And I had a hard time getting through it, but my family was there supporting me, sending me care packages. I called and they sent letters back and forth.

So it wasn't so bad. Here in Baghdad it's a totally different situation. A lot of the unknown out there, and I'm just looking forward to having Christmas here with the family that I do have on this end, and I know that my family back home will be thinking about me and I'll be doing the same from this end.

CAFFERTY: How are you going to spend Christmas day in Iraq? Do you know yet?

MILLER: No. I have no idea. Christmas Day will probably be a work day just like any other for us depending on our mission (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If I do -- if I am fortunate enough to be one of the people who does have a down day at that time I'll probably catch up on a little bit of paper work, maybe watch a couple of DVDs and call home.

CAFFERTY: And call home. I imagine Kris and your daughters will look forward to that. Kris, let me talk to you for a couple of minutes. Your husband is in Iraq but your job is no less difficult I wouldn't think being a father of four kids myself. You've got two little ones at home. The holidays are coming up; your husband is not with you. How are you handling all of this?

KRIS MILLER, WIFE OF STAFF SGT. JOHN MILLER: Well, like John said, this isn't our first time around. We just do our day-to-day activities and try and get through them the best we can.

CAFFERTY: At this point, if I were you I'd probably be tired of talking to me and want to talk to my spouse. So I'm going to step out of the way and let the two of you visit a little bit if that's all right, but we're going to eavesdrop.

J. MILLER: Kris.

K. MILLER: John, can you hear me?

J. MILLER: Yes, I understand you can see me?

K. MILLER: No, I can't see you. I can just hear you.

J. MILLER: OK, it's the same on this end. I was originally told that you'd be able to see me, but. Oh, well.

K. MILLER: We wish you were going to be home.

J. MILLER: Yes, me too.

K. MILLER: I have a package to mail you. From Santa.

J. MILLER: I thought you had already mailed it?

K. MILLER: No. Sorry. CAFFERTY: All right, listen, on behalf of the folks here at AMERICAN MORNING let me wish you both a happy holiday season -- and John, once again, our thanks from the United States here for all that you people are doing. We're all very proud of you and we hope you stay safe. Thanks for visiting with us here.

J. MILLER: Thank you. It's my pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAFFERTY: Tough stuff the service people who have to be away from home for the holidays.

HEMMER: Really difficult for them this time of year.

O'BRIEN: And then you get two seconds to talk to your spouse and it's like...

SERWER: On television.

CAFFERTY: On television.

O'BRIEN: And you have a million things to say. Wow, that was nice, Jack. Good job.

In a moment, today's top stories. Prosecutors announcing charges in that NBA brawl. What are Ron Artest and others facing?

Plus, are pro sports headed down a dark and irreversible path? We're going to talk with Dick Enberg of CBS Sports ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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