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President Bush Laid Out Ideas for Next Part of Presidency; Testimony Starting in Enron Trial

Aired February 1, 2006 - 08:00   ET


Welcome to a special split edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

I'm Soledad O'Brien reporting from Washington.

President Bush laid out his idea for the next part of his presidency. Much of the focus is still on Iraq.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation has only one option. We must keep our word, defeat our enemies and stand behind the American military in this vital mission.


S. O'BRIEN: Will the president's message sway sagging public opinion? We talk with Arizona Senator John McCain ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning.

I'm Miles O'Brien in New York.

Testimony is starting in the Enron trial. The former executives are being called everything from pirates to pioneers.

And amazing pictures out of the West Bank this morning. Israeli settlers battle Israeli troops over an illegal outpost.

Much more on this ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

It is the morning after the 217th State of the Union address. You see the flags at half staff there on Capitol Hill for Coretta Scott King.

Welcome to a split edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: We're not very far from that Capitol itself, Miles.

We're on Capitol Hill this morning, at the Cannon Office Building, the House office building.

President Bush taking his speech on the road today, really. He's headed to Nashville, Tennessee. After he delivered the State of the Union address last night, a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll which was done right after the speech, 48 percent of the speech watchers say they had a very positive reaction, 27 percent said somewhat positive, 23 percent say somewhat negative.

Let's get right to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

She's going to begin our coverage this morning.

She's at the White House -- hey, Suzanne, good morning.


President Bush really struck a conciliatory tone, at least in the beginning, by recognizing the passing of civil rights icon Coretta Scott King, also by extending an olive branch to Democrats. But quickly, the gloves came off, as the president really played to his strength. That, of course, national security.

He aggressively defended his Iraq policy, as well as his controversial domestic spy program.

Then he went on to at least talk about some modest domestic initiatives. One of them trying to support alternative sources of energy really kind of raised some eyebrows. That is because the former Texas oil man made his case this way.


BUSH: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And, Soledad, some other modest initiatives. The president was talking about training teachers to help them teach in A.P. courses in math and science; also, of course, promoting new technology. And, as you have mentioned, the president, of course, is going to be going out on the road, trying to sell these new initiatives to the American people. His first stop is going to be Nashville, Tennessee later today.

A big question whether or not the American people are going to buy it -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: One analyst was sort of describing it, Suzanne, as small bites and no big sprawling initiatives like last year.

What do you think the strategy is, then, here?

MALVEAUX: Well, that's very true, because, as you know, last year his centerpiece of the State of the Union was reforming Social Security. Also, another big item, of course, was reforming the tax code. Both of those failed. Congress just did not have the appetite to take on those kind of more controversial initiatives. The big push here, Soledad, is the president wants to move forward with an agenda that is going to work well for the Republicans for the midterm elections, the congressional midterm elections. He is not going to put himself too far out there. And, of course, he's also going to be using that national security strategy, something that is one of his greatest strengths, to say hey, look, stick with me, it's worth it. I'm not a lame duck.

S. O'BRIEN: A strength. And we heard a lot about it last night, certainly.

Suzanne Malveaux at the White House for us.

Suzanne, thanks.


S. O'BRIEN: The president continued last night a tradition that began with Ronald Reagan, that tradition bringing invited guests to the speech. And then something was a little bit different this time.

Take a look at this. There in the lower left corner of your screen is a German shepherd. Is the canine half of a story that really began on the battlefields of Iraq.

Join us this morning, Air Force Tech Sergeant Jamie Dana, along with her dog. The dog's name is Rex.

It's nice to see you.

Thanks for talking with us, Sergeant.

Appreciate your time this morning.

Give me a sense of how you got invited to the speech.

TECH SGT. JAMIE DANA, WOUNDED IN IRAQ: I'm not really sure how I got invited. I know Rex and I kind of made a big story on the news for a while and we got so many important people involved accidentally, I mean the Congress, the Senate, the president, the leaders of the Air Force. I mean everyone just got involved to help us out.

And I'm sure that brought me here, but it also gave me the chance to tell them all thank you. I mean a heartfelt thank you to every one of them that stood by me.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's revisit that big story. It begins in tragedy. Frankly, you were badly injured when your Humvee exploded. And Rex, which is your bomb sniffing dog, working with you in Iraq, also very badly injured.

You thought he was dead, didn't you?

DANA: I thought he was dead. And if it wasn't for the outstanding medical care from the Air Force people there, I would be dead, also. I mean the Air Force medics and the Army medics and everybody, you know, they're just working miracles every day. I mean I was a miracle and then all our other soldiers over there are miracles every day, because they're the ones bringing us home.

S. O'BRIEN: You ran through a lot of obstacles, I think it's fair to say, to get to adopt Rex and bring him back to the United States.

What was the plan for Rex if you hadn't done that?

DANA: Rex would have been given to another handler and would have been evaluated to see if he could be put back to use or if his injuries, you know, whether physical or psychological, would have affected his duty.

S. O'BRIEN: Lots of people were very touched by your story and that, again, is sort of how you got to where you were last night. We saw you sitting there listening to the president's speech.

What did you think of his speech?

DANA: I think he's a wonderful speaker and he has many, many wonderful ideas. And I'm just thankful to have been there and to have just been able to experience that.

S. O'BRIEN: You seemed very emotional during the speech. We're looking at some videotape of you as you're watching.

Am I reading that right? Were there things that really touched you deeply in the speech?

DANA: Yes, there was. President Bush read a letter from one of our fallen heroes, a Marine, whose family was there. And the -- it's just really hard to deal with because so many of them don't get to come home. And I think the American public, you know, if it's not on the news every day, I think they tend to forget about it. And they're not just soldiers. You know, they're mothers, fathers, brothers. And they're heroes every day. You know, they're over there fighting for our freedom. And I think people need to remember that.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it was a beautiful letter. And I know his mom, at one point, when the president referenced them and they stood up, sort of put her hand over her heart. I mean you could see, you know, what a tough thing for that family.

I know you wanted to say thank you and that was one of the great things about being there last night.

Anything else you want to say to all of the folks who helped you, and, really, helped you cut through all of the red tape and pass legislation, frankly, that brought you and Rex together permanently?

DANA: There's so many people to thank, I wouldn't even know where to begin. I just know from the very beginning, the Air Force leadership was behind me, you know, the folks at the Pentagon. Congress -- I had several congressmen, Peterson, Congressman Murtha, Senator Warner. And that's not to count, you know, discount the American public as a whole.

You know I had so much support and honestly it came to such a happy ending because we had so much support. And I'll never be able to say thank you to all of them but, you know, if this is my chance, then thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: You kind of have now.

Tech Sergeant Jamie Dana, nice to talk to you.

Rex, thank you for behaving so nicely during our segment.

We certainly appreciate that.

DANA: Thank you for having me.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get a look at some of other stories making news this morning.

Carol's got that -- good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Good morning to all of you.

A day to show restraint toward illegal settlers is over. That's the message from Israeli leaders on a violent day in the West Bank. Hundreds of security forces clashing with Israeli protesters. Thick smoke from burning tires, police on horses, settlers throwing rocks. It is the first forced evacuation of Israeli settlers since last summer's pullout. And get this -- the clash is over only nine homes. We're hearing at least 130 people are hurt.

Here in New York, we're watching a massive fire. These pictures just in to CNN -- actually, we have a live picture from the Bronx. This is now a five alarm fire. It's a six story building in the Bronx, an apartment building. We don't know exactly how this caught on fire or where the fire began, but the fire has now burned through half of the building. Some 160 firefighters now on the scene. Ambulances standing by. So far, we have no word of anybody getting hurt from this. We'll keep following it.

The FBI now taking a closer look at a videotape that appears to show a California police officer shooting an unarmed man. The incident began when a Corvette led the deputy on a high speed chase. Authorities say the man in the video was a passenger in the Corvette. And we have to warn you, the pictures you're about to see are disturbing.



(END AUDIO CLIP) COSTELLO: You can see that the officer was talking to the man and then the officer shoots the man several times.

The man, by the way, is an Air Force security officer just home from Iraq. He was shot in three places, but he is said to be in good condition this morning. An investigation now underway.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has some explaining to do. Documents released Tuesday show he opened the convention center to hurricane Katrina evacuees without making sure food and water would be available. He's set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and there is sure to be some fireworks. That hearing is set to begin in two hours.

United Airlines emerging from a very dark cloud after the longest and largest bankruptcy in history for an airline, I should say. The company cut thousands of jobs and eliminated dozens of daily domestic flights as part of its restructuring plan. We're expecting to hear more from the airline about its future plans in the next hour.

And that's a look at the headlines -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

Hopefully it'll be more friendly skies, as they say.

Thank you very much, Carol Costello.

And we have Chad Myers with the weather forecast -- hello, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, fairly good flying today, Miles.


S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, we're going to have much more on last night's State of the Union address.

Did the president give Republicans what they needed to hear?

Republican Senator John McCain is going to join us live, coming up next.

Also, we'll talk to two people who had very personal reasons to listen to last night's speech, a man who lost his mother in hurricane Katrina, a woman who lost her son in Iraq. Their reaction coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.

We're back in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: President Bush, in his speech, pitched some new ideas for 2006 and beyond.

But did he go far enough to address the growing concerns of Congress and the American people?

Join us this morning, Arizona Republican John McCain.

Nice to see you, Senator.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us.

What did you think of the speech?

MCCAIN: I thought it was good. I thought he gave a very good speech, laying out the challenges in Iraq, paying attention and bringing out the seriousness of our crisis with Iran, the need for independence from foreign oil, which is obviously a critical challenge. And I was glad he mentioned earmarking the pork barrel spending at one point. I was pleased about that.

S. O'BRIEN: There certainly have been a lot of people before the speech who said look at these poll numbers, they're bad. And no matter how many times people tell me they don't look at their poll numbers, I know they look at their poll numbers. And his were in the low 40s.

Do you think the speech went far enough to give a boost to those numbers?

MCCAIN: I think it gives a boost. Always when the president has a chance to talk to a lot of Americans, the question is, is did things go well in Iraq, do we handle the Iranian crisis, do we...

S. O'BRIEN: So less about words, more about what happened.

MCCAIN: Yes. And, in other words, I think it's going to help him, but obviously Americans have every right to expect some follow- through.

S. O'BRIEN: There's certainly a long list, not only, I think, on the foreign agenda front, but also on the domestic agenda front, where he talked about tax cuts and health care, as well.

Do you think there's enough consensus between the parties to get anything done on those fronts?

MCCAIN: I think the health care issue is a long-term challenge, but it's important to lay down some of his ideas. I do believe that he transmitted a very appropriate sense of urgency about this "we're addicted to foreign oil"...

S. O'BRIEN: Funny you should say that...

MCCAIN: ... coming from an oil...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

MCCAIN: ... oil and gas... S. O'BRIEN: That was interesting. We actually have that clip.


S. O'BRIEN: Let's run it for folks if they missed it last night.



BUSH: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.


S. O'BRIEN: Kind of a change to hear the president say that but many...

MCCAIN: Yes, an old gas and oil man. Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. But many people...

MCCAIN: No, but he's right.

S. O'BRIEN: ... at home would say OK, but why now? I mean, you know, now is when the gas prices have been really high and it's going to be six years, I think is sort of the nearest deadline for what he's proposing.

MCCAIN: Well, I think, first of all, that you could embark on nuclear power plants now. It's a problem of psychology, not technology. When you look at parts of the world -- Venezuela, where a lot of oil comes from, where there's great uncertainty. The Russians just played the oil card with Ukraine. That's another source of oil. The Iranian crisis is another place of oil. The Iraqi oil output isn't nearly what we had anticipated it would be.

We are very vulnerable to "oil shocks" and we've got to get independence from it and I think the president's note of urgency is very, very appear.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's what he had to say at a moment when he spoke to the Iranian people.

I thought this was kind of interesting.

Let's listen.


BUSH: The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP) S. O'BRIEN: A strong message...

MCCAIN: A strong message.

S. O'BRIEN: But at the same time, not moment, you know, not too far after that, the Iranian president was basically saying to the president, too bad for you, I'm going to continue the path that I'm taking.

MCCAIN: In the short-term, there are no good answers. We're doing the right thing by working with the Europeans to go to the Security Council, not taking the military option off of the table, but certainly recognizing there's many things we need to do between now and then.

But one of them long-term is we should, as we did during the cold war, encourage pro-democracy movements within Iran. We should support their desire for freedom. They're under a very oppressive/repressive government and in the long-term, freedom from -- for the Iranian people from this -- well, you saw this, the president of Iran. You saw the nature of this -- of this regime when he came to the U.N. and said they had to eradicate the State of Israel from the map.

S. O'BRIEN: And they haven't backed away from any of the statements that they've made since then.

MCCAIN: No. No. Not once. In fact, they repeated it. He has repeated it.

S. O'BRIEN: You liked the speech last night.

Senator John McCain, nice to talk to you.

Thank you for being with us.

We appreciate it.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, much more on the State of the Union address.

We're going to talk this morning to a man who lost his mother in hurricane Katrina and a woman who lost her son in Iraq. Were they satisfied with what they heard last night?

Plus, President Bush's poll numbers low, as we mentioned, before last night's speech.

Did he say anything to help himself out? We'll take a look.

That's all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

After a short break, we're back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) M. O'BRIEN: It was not vintage Bush, but by most accounts, it was in sync with the realities of the moment.

The State of the Union speech not filled with big ideas for sweeping reform. Tough to do that with approval ratings hovering around 40 percent.

Even many Democrats this morning are offering praise to the president for his State of the Union speech.

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley in Washington, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon and senior political analyst Bill Schneider in Columbus.

I've got to talk to my agent. I need to become a senior anchor, I think.

What do you think?

Jeez, you guys...



CROWLEY: Yes, that's -- this is what you do when you get on in years and there's nothing more they can give u. They say senior.

M. O'BRIEN: Senior.

MCINTYRE: I want to become chief next.

M. O'BRIEN: Ooh, chief. We could do that, too.

MCINTYRE: Chief correspondent...

M. O'BRIEN: Or super senior, how about that?


M. O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley, let's start with you.

I was surprised to hear, among other people this morning, James Carville said yes, that was a pretty good speech. Interesting, huh?

CROWLEY: Well, yes, except for it was not -- what was interesting to me was that there was nothing in there like, for instance, Social Security, no huge idea for Democrats to really wrap around and say this is never going to happen. There were smaller ideas, certainly, on the domestic side of things with health care, math and science teachers, energy. Not sort of taking this big, broad problem, but taking little narrow views of it and things that are doable for this year, which is a political year, which maybe can lead to some sort of legislative accomplishment that Republicans then can take into the fall.

M. O'BRIEN: Jamie McIntyre, let's talk about the war on terror in general and specifically in Iraq.

The president, every poll you take, strong on the war on terror, the issue of wiretapping, whatever the case may be, with some vulnerabilities on Iraq. And, once again, the president trying to connect the dots there.

Was he successful, do you think?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, it sounds a little lame to say that there was nothing new about Iraq in the speech, but it's really true. He did say, he repeated again that they're on the offensive in Iraq and asserted that they have a clear strategy for victory. He alluded to troop reductions without giving any sort of timetable or numbers. The secret -- the open secret at the Pentagon is they hope to reduce that number to about 100,000 by the end of the year, but they're not saying that.

And maybe one little nuance of -- a new thing that we're going to hear, this theme picked up on later today, a reference to the long war. He said the -- our generation is in a long war against a determined enemy. And that's the new catchphrase at the Pentagon for the war on terrorism, the long war, trying to give the -- prepare people that this is not something that the United States is going to win any time soon.

M. O'BRIEN: Bill Schneider, you watched it from -- well, you call Columbus, Ohio ground zero and that's probably pretty apt. If you want to make it to the White House, you've got to go through Columbus and through Ohio.


M. O'BRIEN: And you've talked to a lot of voters there. And you had a pretty good sense of what they wanted to hear.

Did they get what they wanted?

SCHNEIDER: I'm not sure. In fact, I don't think so. They were talking about jobs. They wanted to know why are all the jobs being cut by Ford and General Motors? Why are we losing jobs to other countries?

They regarded it is as somehow unfair competition that American workers have to compete with workers who are paid a lot less.

What was the president's response to that?

He said America will become more competitive. We're going to invest in math and science. We can out compete the rest of the world.

But their view is how can we out compete people who make much less than American workers?

So I'm not sure they heard a lot about protecting their jobs.

M. O'BRIEN: So pocketbook issues, Candy Crowley. I've got to say, the thing that sticks in my mind is the former Texas oilman saying hey, we're addicted to oil, folks. We've got to get off the oil addiction right now.

That -- to me, that was big.

CROWLEY: Well, it certainly is an interesting line coming from a former Texas oil man and one whose critics h always run against him, saying he is in the pocket of big oil interests. However, we are talking about maybe 20 percent of the U.S. oil supply. He was talking specifically about oil supply from the Middle East.

It is a goal that is, I think, 25 years hence. So it was an interesting turn of phrase. I'm not sure in the, you know, immediate future if it's going to mean much to those pocketbook issues that he's talking about.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, but it does have something to do, Jamie McIntyre, with national security. And the president did try to make that link. And that's an important link for people to understand.

MCINTYRE: That's right. And, of course, the, you know, the other big thing that's going to be happening this week is the budget is going up next week. The Pentagon budget is going to reflect a whole new way of looking at how the military fights wars, much more a shift away from the conventional kind of conflict, such as the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, and more of what the U.S. is facing now, which is the ability to counter-terrorism and also deal with the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

And we're going to see more of that in the week to come.

M. O'BRIEN: Bill Schneider, a final thought here.

You've seen a lot of these speeches over the years.

Did -- was it a good one?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it was very un-Texan. This president has a reputation, a history of being bold, aggressive, ambitious. He's a risk taker. After all, he comes out of the world of sports and business.

This was not a bold or ambitious speech. It was cautious. It was familiar. His proposals were modest. He made a nod to bipartisanship and the programs he talked about -- investing in math and science, a commission to study entitlement reform, alternative energy -- those are things that both parties really can support.

But make no mistake, there was an aggressive defense of wiretapping. He intends to fight the mid-term campaign on his record and his determination and his strength and resolve in the war on terror.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, seniors, one and all.

Our most seasoned reporters' roundtable ever.

MCINTYRE: Hey, Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes?

MCINTYRE: I think you should call me Pentagon bureau chief, because, you know, I'm in charge over here until Barbara Starr gets back.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. And then we know who runs the show, right?


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much to our trio.

Appreciate your insights this morning.

Coming up, a question of free speech before the president's address last night. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, she was a guest of a congresswoman at the speech but arrested because of the t-shirt she was wearing protesting the war.

Were her rights violated? Did she violate the rules of decorum?

We'll get into that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

You're watching a split edition this morning of AMERICAN MORNING.

I'm reporting from Washington, D.C. the capital, this morning.

We're in the Cannon House Office Building, which is actually connected underground to the Capitol, which you can see right over my shoulder -- Miles, good morning.

M. O'BRIEN: They don't build office buildings like that anymore. That rotunda is gorgeous, isn't it?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, it's a gorgeous building. And you're right, they absolutely -- they, you know, people really stopped with the whole giant, beautiful marble column thing, architecturally speaking.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. It's a shame.

It's a shame.

All right, thank you.

I'm Miles O'Brien here in New York.

And let's get right to the forecast.

Chad Myers in Atlanta doing that -- hello, Chad. MYERS: Hi, Miles.



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