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Discussion With Senator John Thune; Baby Boom

Aired August 26, 2005 - 11:30   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush weighs in on Iraq's constitutional divide. He called the prominent Shiite leader yesterday to press for a compromise. Several deadlines have passed with negotiators hoping for a possible resolution sometime today.
A warning today from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. Greenspan says trade barriers and big budget deficits threaten America's long-term economic vitality. He's also expressing concern about current economic imbalances, including the housing boom.

Bye-bye, Miss America. The 84-year-old beauty pageant -- now, that's not miss America. But the beauty path sent leaving Atlantic City and its home and taking to the road. The pageant's CEO cites financial woes. He's looking for a new city to host the show.

It is about jobs, about small-town economies and hometown pride. All of that could change during the final day of votes for the base closing commission.

CNN's Ed Henry is keeping watch. He's in Arlington, Virginia this morning.

Ed, good morning.


That's right, and the most dramatic moment of these commission hearings came this morning when the commission broke against the Pentagon's recommendations and declared that in fact they want to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota open. That was a dramatic development for the state of South Dakota. It's the second largest employer in the state.

It was also a dramatic moment for this man, standing next to me, Senator John Thune, the Republican senator from South Dakota. He had a lot riding on this politically as well.

Senator, when the verdict came down, you were rocking back and forth in your seat. Talk about that moment and the drama there.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, we've been very stressed out for the last three days of these deliberations, waiting for our time to come up on the agenda. But when they get actually down to your base and the fate sort of hangs in the balance and you've got all these commissioners discussing it, and you don't know exactly where they're going to come down on the vote, and we had some ideas about where some of these commissioners were, but ultimately, it's an extremely, as you said, there's a lot of drama, and a lot of tension and a lot of stress, but talk about an incredible sense of relief when they ultimately decided to vote in our favor and to take Ellsworth off the list.

HENRY: Now I should point out as well,the man sitting next to you is Tim Johnson, Democratic senator, and he shares in the credit, and he also was there, and you forged an unlikely political alliance. You were rivals. You faced each other in 2002. It was a bitter, nasty Senate race. I remember that well. What was it like working with a rival to try to save this base?

THUNE: We worked closely together throughout the entire process, and people have said, you and Senator Johnson, yes, you fought a hotly contested campaign back in 2002, it was a narrow margin. I don't think he's going to be joining the Republican caucus, and I'm not going to be joining the Democratic caucus. We still have our differences, but this was an issue where we really forged a relationship that was effective. I think that we were able to bring different strengths to this process, and it enabled us to make the very best case, strongest case possible before this BRAC commission, and I think in the end, like I said, we, yes -- we worked hard.

Congresswoman Herseth, as well, was very involved, Governor Rounds, obviously. We had a team effort, and I think that's what ultimately helped us prevail.

HENRY: You needed that team effort, because your own White House, the Republican Bush administration, in that last campaign when you beat John Daschle, Republicans were saying, elect John Thune, and in fact his buddy, President Bush, is going to make sure that Ellsworth Air Force Base stays open. It wound up on the hitlist in May. Talk about your surprise there. And why did the Bush administration not back you up this spring?

THUNE: Well, we were surprised when Ellsworth ended up on the list. We'd been hopeful it wouldn't. And obviously my preference would have been that the administration would have perhaps intervened in some fashion. That was the argument that was made about the base closure process in '95, that then-President Clinton intervened on behalf of Ellsworth at that point.

But this administration postured itself very differently on this. They said these are going to be military decisions, based on military value. That was the premise I had to work with. That was my reality, and that was the hand we were dealt. So we began to work awfully hard after May 13th, realizing that we were going to have to win this on the merits. And in some ways, it's sweet when you can win it on the merits. It wasn't politics.

HENRY: Now you are not happy with this White House. In recent months, you stopped raising money for fellow Republican candidates. I know, in part, that was because you had to focus your time on this lobbying effort. But you're not happy with the president.

THUNE: Well, we made a conscious decision when we're -- when the base was listed, that I was going to devote my time, and my energies and everything else over the course of the next several months until it was ultimately decided on getting this base off the list, and that has involved pulling back from some of my activities, and raising money and helping recruit candidates, and those sorts of things.

But you know what, that's all past now. We will look forward to being a part of this team in the future and helping engage the American people on the agenda that I think is important for the country.

And, you know, sure, there's politics is politics. It's a tough business.

HENRY: Very quickly, before the process, Republicans were saying you're a rock star. During the process, they said your credibility was shot. Now that you've won, where do you stand? Are you a rock star again?

THUNE: Well, I don't think I ever was. But the point in all of this is, what I'm here to do is represent the people of South Dakota. And on this particular issue, this would have caused enormous harm to my state. We are absolutely delighted and thrilled to be able to get this base off the list, because of what it means to South Dakota. The politics will take care of itself.

HENRY: Thank you, Senator John Thune.

THUNE: Thanks.

HENRY: You heard it right there from the man himself, Daryn, John Thune, elated this victory for him, as well as the entire South Dakota delegation -- Daryn.

KAGAN: All right, Ed Henry, in Arlington, Virginia. Ed, thank you.

An alarming problem for one Ohio high school. Dozens of its students getting pregnant in just the last year also. Why the baby boom? We'll investigate just ahead.


KAGAN: And now the latest from Lance Armstrong. He tells CNN that its crazy to think that he would come back from cancer and risk his life by doping. Doping allegations surfaced Tuesday in a French sports newspaper. Armstrong says he's been dealing with what he calls slimy French journalism for years.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: Our defense when we look at this thing and we say -- and I guess I try to ask people to sit in my seat and say, OK, you know, a guy in a French -- in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francis so and so, and he tests it. Nobody's there to observe. No protocol was followed. And then you get a phone call from a newspaper that says we found you to be positive six times for EPO. Well, since when did newspapers start governing sports? I mean, Bob, you know baseball well. When an athlete's positive, Major League Baseball calls and they handle it in the correct way. When does a newspaper decide they're going to govern and sanction athletes? That's not the way it works.

And nowadays, we all want clean sport. And fortunately, an organization called WADA has come along and has really governed the world of anti-doping. They have set about a protocol and a code that everybody has to live by. And they violated the code several times.

They don't have an answer for it. You know, you talk to the head of WADA and he doesn't have an answer. You talk to the head of the French Ministry for Sport, he doesn't have an answer. The lab runs from it. The only person who's sticking by the story is "L'Equipe."

BOB COSTAS, GUEST HOST: Here's the head of the World Anti-doping Agency, Richard Pound, a long-time Olympic official. He said this week, "It's not a he said-she said scenario. There were documents. Unless the documents are forgeries or manipulations of them it's a case that has to be answered."

ARMSTRONG: You know what? It is absolutely a case of he said- she said. What else can it be? Do you think I'm going to trust some guy in a French lab to open my samples and say they're positive and announce that to the world and not give me the chance to defend myself? That's ludicrous. There is no way you can do that.

COSTAS: Do you plan legal action?

ARMSTRONG: That's the most commonly asked question in the last three or four days and it's a possibility. We would have to decide who we -- we're going to pursue, whether it was the lab, whether it was "L'Equipe, " whether it was the sports minister, whether it was WADA. All of these people violated a serious code of ethics.

LARRY KING, HOST: But Lance, if you're totally clean, why not sue them all, since they all have some part in this? Can you unequivocally say you have never used an illegal substance ever?

ARMSTRONG: Listen, I've said it for seven years. I've said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped. I can say it again. But I've said it for seven years. It doesn't help. But the fact of the matter is I haven't. And if you consider my situation: A guy who comes back from arguably, you know, a death sentence, why would I then enter into a sport and dope myself up and risk my life again? That's crazy. I would never do that. No. No way.

KING: So, why not, as Bob asked, why not sue them all?

ARMSTRONG: You know, lawsuits are two things: They're very costly and they're very time-consuming. And fortunately, cycling has been great to me and I have the money and the resources to do something like that, but you know, I'm retired...

COSTAS: You've done it before. You have civil cases pending.

ARMSTRONG: I do. Absolutely.

COSTAS: You've been litigious before when you felt it was justified.

ARMSTRONG: Yes and you know what, at the end of the day when you sue somebody, it just keeps a bad story alive forever. It gives them the opportunity to say "Oh, we found this. Oh, we did that." It gives them more credit than they deserve.


KAGAN: Armstrong retired from professional cycling after winning the Tour De France for a record-setting seventh time this year.

We wanted to take a closer look at the allegations against Lance Armstrong, so here now are the facts. EPO, it enhances performance by boosting a person's red blood cell count, enabling the blood to carry more oxygen, leading to increased speed and endurance. EPO has been banned by world cycling bodies by 1990. Armstrong says he never used EPO while training, but he did receive the drug while being treated for cancer 1996.

The test used during his tour victory in 1999 were incapable of detecting EPO, but recent experimental tests conducted on random samples from competitors in that 1999 race turned up EPO in some, but not all, of Armstrong's samples and 15 other Tour De France athletes. The Tour De France says the lab involved is 100 percent reliable. Armstrong says in this case, the lab did not follow procedural guidelines.

At this point, there's no chance the results, accurate or not, can have any effect on the official results of the seven Tours De France won by Armstrong. It's only his image now that is at stake.


KAGAN: Nationally eight out of 100 high school-aged girls will get pregnant this year. That's a lower rate than in previous years, but teen pregnancies are still a big problem in some places. At one Ohio school it is beating the national statistic in dramatic fashion.

With more on that now, here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 18 years, amid the hills and homes of Canton, Monica Selby family has expected her to graduate from Timken High School. But what Monica didn't expect as her senior year began was to be expecting.

SELBY: I have been crying every day since I found out. I have felt ashamed and upset. I tried to tell the teachers, and they didn't help me one bit. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know how cruel kids are at school. Now this coming out, you know, she's one of the statistics at her school.

FOREMAN: The statistics at Timken High are creating an uproar in this quiet Ohio town, ever since the local paper pointed out that 65 of the school's 490 female students had been pregnant in the past year, 65. That's well over one in 10, way too many by almost anyone's reckoning.

DIANNE TALARICO, SUPERINTENDENT, CANTON SCHOOL DISTRICT: That's exactly right. One is too many, as far as I'm concerned.

FOREMAN: So school officials, such as Dianne Talarico, are scrambling to explain how they're working with parents, students and community groups to bring the teen pregnancy rate under control.

TALARICO: For 20 years, it has been steadily decreasing. And graduation rates are increasing. So, we are clearly doing some right things.

FOREMAN: That's cold comfort to 16-year-old Rachel Hinton, whose back-to-school shopping will include a stop at the maternity store. Like many, she knew about birth control, knew about the risks of early sex.

R. HINTON: I never planned on getting pregnant. I mean, to me, it was something that always happened to that other girl. You know, I never could get pregnant. I'm too good to get pregnant. But here I am.

FOREMAN: But as shocking as it may seem, what is happening here is happening all over.

(on camera): Is Canton really that unusual?

SARAH BROWN, CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCY: Well, you know, it's actually not.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy points out, although national teen pregnancy rates have been cut by a third in the past decade, the United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, double that of England, the nearest rival.

BROWN: We have to keep saying that, even when the overall picture is so good as it is now, there are still these very, very serious problems in many parts of America. And this is one.

FOREMAN: Back in Canton, community leaders are also speaking up, pledging renewed efforts to educate not only the girls, but the boys here, too.

TALARICO: Parents have to talk to their kid.

FOREMAN: It's tricky business, though. Schools say they can't do all the parenting, while some parents say:

JOANNE HINTON, MOTHER OF PREGNANT TEEN: Well, I'm not going to totally blame the school system. I'm going to take part of the blame. But I can only be there so much for her.

R. HINTON: Abstinence, they do teach a little bit about. But most of the kids are having sex. So, they need to teach about other things, like contraceptives and stuff like that, because the fact is, kids are having sex.

FOREMAN (on camera): What can we learn from Canton?

BROWN: This story from Canton shows in high relief that this fight is not over.

FOREMAN: Monica Selby feels it has all come down to a terrible choice, give up her baby or her hopes for a diploma next spring. The adoption has already been arranged.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


KAGAN: In our daily dose of health news, something for kids and parents to smile about. A study finding a sharp decline in tooth decay among children and teens in the U.S. The report by the CDC found that 42 percent of kids examined between 1999 and 2002 had a filling or a cavity. That is down 15 percent from the previous period. Tooth decay among adults also declined. Chlorination of water and toothpaste is cited as a major reason.

Japanese researchers are saying that sperm banking may provide emotional, as well as physical benefits to young cancer patients. It allows them to preserve their ability to have children following chemotherapy. In addition, researchers say that young men told them it also helped in their emotional battle against cancer. To get your daily dose of health news online, log on to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address is




KAGAN: This news just into CNN. Concerns that computer worm that attacked computers across the U.S. within the last two weeks -- remember, it struck a number of media companies, including us here at CNN. Well, there have been two arrests made now. And it's happened in connection with authorities in Morocco and Turkey. They've arrested one 18-year-old in Morocco, a Moroccan national born in Russia. He used the moniker Diablo 10. And then a Turkish man, 21 years old. Both will be subject to local prosecutions.

(WEATHER REPORT) KAGAN: And you at home can add to our coverage. If you live in an area that's affected by Hurricane Katrina, e-mail us your photos. You can do that by logging on to Include your name, location and phone number, please. And we appreciate your help.

ANNOUNCER: Keep watching CNN, your hurricane headquarters.

KAGAN: That's going to wrap up the week for me, Daryn Kagan. But the news continues here on CNN. International news is up next. I'll see you on Monday morning.



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