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CNN NEWSROOM

Rice Presses Asian Allies to Enforce North Korea Sanctions; Amber Alert Issued for Missing Baby in Kentucky; Iraq: Civil War?

Aired October 18, 2006 - 10:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. The second hour in THE NEWSROOM this morning, to stay informed. Here's what's on the rundown. Washington's top diplomat pressing Asian allies to make North Korean sanctions really bite.

COLLINS: Heartland voters in a sour mood. Our guests look at the campaign issues that matter to them three weeks now before the midterms.

HARRIS: And stocks playing with history. The Dow passing the 12,000 mark for the first time on this Wednesday, October 18th. You are in THE NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: We've been hearing about, oh, for the past seven days or so, the Dow breaking records, but today the biggest record yet, the 12,000 mark. Susan Lisovicz standing by (INAUDIBLE)

SUSAN LISOVICZ: Good morning, Heidi. Well, it is an historical day here at the New York Stock (INAUDIBLE) -- Dow Jones Industrial Average easily topping 12,000 for the first time in history, and it came easy. It came quick, 34 seconds into the new trading session we went over that milestone easily.

And you know, we were talking two days ago about the oomph factor, because the Dow couldn't get -- it got within three points of Dow 12,000, couldn't quite make it. We got the oomph an hour before the trading day today when we got the Consumer Price Index. Inflation at the consumer level came in lower than expected. Inflation is public enemy number one for the Federal Reserve.

The Fed meets next week to decide on interest rates and there's a big sigh of relief on this factor. Yes, that the economy is cooling and that one of the things that is helpful there is that inflation is moderating. We're also in the midst of earning season. We got a lot of help from IBM. Big blue shares up six percent on its quarterly profits. It jumped more than fifty percent. IBM is a member of the Dow 30 and so is Intel, another big chip -- another big tech company. It's shares up about three percent. Its profits actually dropped in the quarter by more than one-third, but it was better than Wall Street's estimates and its shares are up about three percent.

So a lot of help in the early going from both the inflation report and some of the big companies that are reporting quarterly earnings. Heidi?

COLLINS: And Susan it took us awhile to get there. I think, if I remember correctly, when we went from the 10,000 to 11,000 mark it was something like 24 days. But 11,000 to 12,000, took some time.

LISOVICZ: yes, and, I mean, you have to think about what -- what the market, what investors, what we all have been through in the last few years, not only a bear market and the dot-com bust, 9/11, war in Iraq. I mean, a lot of things that shook investor sentiment. October is historically not a kind month for the stock markets, when we saw the 1929 crash and the 1987 crash. But this market has been resilient.

One of the things that helped the economy in the last few years has been the housing market. That's pretty much gone away. But in recent months, Heidi, as you well know, energy prices have come down, and the Federal Reserve has paused on interest rates. And both of those are big reasons why the stock market has come back so much. So the Dow is at all-time highs. I should mention that the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 not close to that, but still at 5 1/2-year highs.

COLLINS: All right. Susan Lisovicz with the good news of the day. We like it. Thanks, Susan.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome, Heidi.

HARRIS: The North Korea threat. Here's what we know. This hour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Japan, the first stop of her Asian travels. She's trying to shore up support for the United Nations sanctions against North Korea and its defiant nuclear test. Her visit comes with new concerns. We're told activity suggests North Korea could be preparing for a second nuclear test. Tomorrow Rice travels to South Korea and then it is on to China and Russia.

Let's get the latest on this developing story from CNN's Aneesh Raman.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice starting off her four-day, four-nation tour in Asia in friendly territory, here in Japan. She met today with the Japanese foreign minister and defense minister.

Tomorrow she'll meet with Japan's prime minister. Japan and the U.S. see virtually eye to eye on imposing those sanctions levied against North Korea by Japan. Japan, of course, slammed its own sanctions on North Korea even before the U.N. took action. The key to her trip here was voicing a sense of commitment to Japan, to the defensive alliance between the U.S. and Japan. Here's what she had to say at that press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Japan has answered this question. The prime minister has answered the question. The foreign minister has answered the question. The role of the United States is to make certain that everybody, including the North Koreans, know very well that the United States will fully recognize and act upon its obligations under the mutual defense treaty and in defense of our Japanese ally. And I have reconfirmed that that is the American view and the American position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMAN: That is key because the U.S. is essentially the biggest part of the Japanese defense strategy. Some 30,000 U.S. troops are here in Japan, growing increasingly tense amid the growing signs of aggression out of Pyongyang. Now another part of this trip for the secretary of state is getting not really Japan, but South Korea and China, to impose all of those sanctions put against North Korea by the U.N. She spoke to the need and the complexity that will come in her later visits, as well, at the press conference earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICE: The resolution was passed very quickly, in record time for the United Nations, and so it's not surprising that there are a number of details to be worked out. But I'd just like to make a couple of points clear. First of all, the United States has no desire to escalate this crisis. In fact, we would like to see it de-escalate.

And the resolution 1718's principal aim is to do two things. First of all, to deal with the potential effects of North Korea trying to transfer materials or to obtain materials. That's why there is an embargo, as there is also an embargo on certain kinds of arms. And it's the obligation of states under 1718 to make certain to use the tools that they have that that is not -- that transfer is not happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMAN: Details to be worked out, she said, not divisions really between the U.S. and South Korea and China. But, of course, that is where she will face the true diplomatic test, getting those countries, who are wary of destabilizing the regime in Pyongyang and creating perhaps a humanitarian crisis, to check, for example, all cargo going into and out of North Korea. She heads to Seoul tomorrow. Then onward from there to Beijing.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tokyo.

COLLINS: Eyes in the skies. The Bush administration keeping a close eye on any signs North Korea could be preparing for a second nuclear test. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the North Korean capital Pyongyang, a lavish celebration of the communist regime's accomplishments over the past 80 years was broadcast to the world. But intelligence analysts were looking at different images. Images that were picked up from a remote area far outside the capital and showed what could be preparations for a second underground nuclear test. DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There is speculation that they may want to do something additional. There's also speculation they may not. So only time will tell.

STARR: According to intelligence and military officials, U.S. spy satellites have seen signs of activity again at several North Korean sites that could be used for nuclear tests. The Bush administration isn't sure what it all means. At two of the sites, small structures have been put up, perhaps to keep the preparations hidden. U.S. officials say what worries them most is that the new activity is very similar to what happened just before the first test.

The U.S. is also closely monitoring statements by senior North Korean officials and military leaders for any sign that additional nuclear tests are in the works. One thing that got analysts attention was a statement on North Korean television that the U.N. sanctions are, quote, a declaration of war. Intelligence analysts note that kind of rhetoric has been increasing anxiety in China in recent days. There are worries additional tests would further destabilize the region.

The U.S. believes a defiant Kim Jong-il might soon pursue a second test because the first test seems to have partially failed, and he may want to prove he has a nuclear weapon that works.

JAMES LILLEY, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO SOUTH KOREA: He's thumbing his nose at the world. He's going to do this and get his people mobilized. He's going to appeal to all of his third world friends in Iran, Venezuela, Castro in Cuba, Shahir (ph) in Sudan. These are his people. He is saying, I can stand up. This is my nuke. It's a show.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Barbara Starr joining us now live from the Pentagon. Barbara, what's the latest this morning now with these missile sites?

STARR: Well, on the missile sites, on the ballistic missile sites, you'll recall Heidi, of course, we saw a number of launches from North Korea on July 4th. Analysts say the latest intelligence now shows those missile sites remain at a very high state of readiness. The North Koreans could use them in the next several days, for example. No one is saying they will, but those sites do appear very ready.

On the underground test, different than the missile sites, underground nuclear detonation tests, the analysts say that the latest U.S. understanding is that the North Koreans have told China they are prepared to do as many as three additional tests as part of their overall test program. Again, no one can say for sure, so nobody is making any predictions, but there's plenty of worry Heidi.

COLLINS: But still no talk of military reaction, if, indeed, there is a second test.

STARR: Right. By all indications, really, the Bush administration plans to stick with the diplomatic front through the United Nations, through its allies in the region, where the secretary of state is now traveling, work the sanctions as hard as they can. But if there are additional tests, who knows. It could open the door to another review. Still at this point, diplomacy is the road the White House appears to be very determined to stick to.

COLLINS: Understood. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon this morning. Thank you Barbara.

HARRIS: The U.S. death toll in Iraq rising at a fast clip this month. Ten more troops killed in bombings and in battle.

Live now to CNN's Arwa Damon in Baghdad. Arwa, you have -- there was a lot going on, a lot of activity in the northern city of Balad. And i understand you have some pictures to help tell us exactly what is going on there.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tony. Now, if we just take a few steps back, though, as to what happened in Balad, sectarian violence flared there. And it began on Friday when the bodies of 19 Shia construction workers were found in one of the mainly Sunni areas. Now Balad is an area that is predominantly Shia. The population is centered in the core of the city around a holy Shia shrine. Just outside lies the Sunni population.

On Friday they found the bodies of 19 Shia workers in one of these Sunni towns outside. The following day, they found the bodies of 38 Sunni workers, this time believed to be an attack in retaliation. Sectarian violence there flared. The Iraqi and U.S. troops flooded the city in an area to try to bring it all under control. And finally, we are hearing that now senior tribal leaders, both from the Sunni and Shia tribes in that area, have come together to try to bring an end to the sectarian violence, Tony.

HARRIS: Oh man, these pictures are -- OK. Arwa, moving on. We haven't talked much about the Saddam Hussein trial recently. What's the latest there?

DAMON: Well, Tony, the trial does continue. We heard more witness testimony today. The interesting thing to point out though is that for the last two days of court, Saddam Hussein, though still slightly defiant, has been, compared to what we have seen in the past, relatively subdued. If you remember back on September 20th, the court appointed a new chief judge. Since that new chief judge took over court, we have seen fierce exchanges between him and Saddam Hussein. Most of which have ended in Saddam Hussein being removed from court.

What we saw today and what we saw yesterday is a still slightly defiant, but relatively subdued, Saddam Hussein, allowing the court proceedings to proceed in a relatively, remembering here that when it does come to the Saddam Hussein trial it is all relatively proper mannered, Tony.

HARRIS: OK, Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad. Arwa thank you.

He says he was abused by a priest. Now ex-Congressman Mark Foley says he's ready to reveal his alleged abuser. Details in THE NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Middle class issues in middle America, a look at politics in the heartland less than three weeks now from election day -- midterm elections rather.

HARRIS: And wanted for a kidnapping and a killing. The search is on for a Kentucky mother and her baby. An update straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: The Capitol e-mail scandal emerging today with the Catholic priest abuse scandal. Ex-Congressman Mark Foley says he's ready to reveal the name of a priest who allegedly molested him years ago. Foley made the claim after he resigned over explicit computer messages to congressional pages.

National correspondent Susan Candiotti live from Miami with this developing story. Susan, what is the Archdiocese of Miami saying about these latest developments?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't heard anything about them yet, but of course the Archdiocese would like to get the name so it can take further action. But this morning, both of the lawyers for ex-Congressman Foley will be meeting with the Congressman, ex-Congressman by telephone. And at that time, the civil lawyer will find out for the first time the name of the priest who allegedly molested Mr. Foley when he was a teenager.

Now Foley's attorney says that he hopes to have a meeting soon with the Miami Archdiocese to turn over that name and that he furthermore hopes that the Archdiocese will take what he calls appropriate action. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami says that the name of the alleged child molester will be released to the public at some point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY ROSS AGOSTA, CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF MIAMI: And one of the elements of the policy is that you identify the priest and then you make the offer of pastoral counseling to the alleged victim, as well as the alleged abuser and then also ask if anyone else has been a victim of sexual abuse by this priest to please come forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now, both the Palm Beach state attorney's office, as well as the lawyer for Mr. Foley, says that no criminal charges will be filed because the case is way too old. This happened more than 35 years ago, according to the allegation, when Mr. Foley was between the ages of 13 and 15, well beyond the statute of limitations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD RICHMAN, MARK FOLEY'S ATTORNEY: This is all part of the healing process for Mark Foley. He thinks it's important to go ahead and bring this information out, and hope and encourage other people who have been similarly abused to go ahead and come forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: At first there was some thought that Mr. Foley would be filing a civil lawsuit against the Miami Archdiocese, but his lawyer this morning tells me no. This is not about money, he says. This is about the healing process and to protect other potential victims. Tony?

HARRIS: Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti for us in Miami. Susan, thank you.

Want a strong opinion? Try this one on. Thanks to out of touch politicians, more Americans than ever are living in poverty, without health care and paying more for housing and public education. Well tonight at 7:00 Eastern, Lou Dobbs demands answers live from Kansas city for one hour. It's a special event, "War on the Middle Class." See it right here on CNN.

COLLINS: More finger pointing at Pakistan from Afghanistan's leader. President Hamid Karzai tells the Associated Press Mullah Omar, the Taliban supreme leader, is hiding in Quetta (ph), Pakistan. He also blames Pakistan for surging Taliban violence in Afghanistan and calls on the Pakistani leader to do more to crack down on militants. From Pakistan's government, a blunt rejection of Karzai's claims.

And blunt assessment on Afghanistan now. It comes from the former commander of British forces in that country. Brigadier Ed Butler says international troops may have to stay in Afghanistan for the next 20 years. In the short term, he warns the Taliban may regroup over the winter and come back even stronger next year. Butler says British forces are having to make up for time lost to the Iraq war instead of concentrating on Afghanistan. Butler has just returned home to Britain after giving up his command in Afghanistan.

HARRIS: Playground clampdown. Tag banned at one elementary school. What do you think of that? All right, we chase down details straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I turn on the television there seems to be some unrest somewhere motivated by both religion and politic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that religion really has no place in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our government is based off the ten commandments. We don't steal, we don't kill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Religion is separate from politics in my view. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think social issues will continue to divide political parties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not be swayed politically by somebody's religious beliefs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Americans are pretty evenly divided on the subject of religion and politics; 51 percent of us think churches and other houses of worship should share their views on social and political questions. Forty six percent think they should stay out of politics. With the country split on religion's role in politics, what will the future hold?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): As senior fellow at the non-profit think tank the Pew Forum, John Green studies faith and politics and how they interact in American society.

JOHN GREEN, THE PEW FORUM: Over the next several elections we'll see religion becoming even more important because literally every religious group will be part of the process.

O'BRIEN: Green says those groups include rapidly growing populations of Buddhists, Hindus and American Muslims.

GREEN: The United States is so diverse religiously that both the Democratic and Republican parties have to have bigger religious coalitions in order to win elections.

O'BRIEN: Green says social issues, such as the war in Iraq, same-sex marriage, abortion and even the environment will continue to divide us, putting the burden on politicians.

GREEN: One of the critical ingredients for bridging that divide is leadership. To have political leaders or perhaps non-political leaders come forward with solutions and alternatives that everyone can live with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: How much fun is this? Look at that. Oh, well we're down just an itty, bitty bit, but we have already cross that inter-day high and the record mark of 12,000, the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Man, it is up, up, up.

So we're going to go to Susan Lisovicz. She's on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange live in just a few minutes to get a little bit more reaction as to what's going on there today.

HARRIS: Yes, we want to get to Fredricka Whitfield right now. She's following this really horrible, disturbing story out of Kentucky for us. An amber alert. The search is on for this 10-month-old baby boy. Fred, what's the latest? FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the search is intensifying for that baby boy after the 67-year-old social worker that was caring for the child was found dead in Henderson, Kentucky. But now police are hoping that they can get some kind of break out of a development that now has them focusing on Smithboro, Illinois. And the reason why is because a videotape, shot at a gas station, shows that in Smithboro, Illinois, 33-year-old -- or rather 23-year-old Christopher Latrelle (ph), possibly may be the one getting out of this vehicle here and using a credit card to pay for gasoline.

It's believed that Latrelle is with 33-year-old Rene Tarrell (ph), who is the mother of the 9-month-old boy. And it's believed that the two of them had something to do with the beating death of the 67-year-old social worker, before then taking the 9-month-old baby away. The only problem with that videotape, while it gives them some sort of possible identification of one of the people in that couple, it doesn't show the license plate. No video of the license plate of that vehicle. So police are still hoping that that videotape may help lead them to the whereabouts of these two people.

Now there is a description being released of Rene Tarrell, described as 5'5, 240 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She wears glasses. Christopher Wayne Latrelle is 6'2, 150 pounds with blue eyes and tattoos. And the state's Amber Alert website is also releasing a description of the 9-month-old boy, which may be helpful for anyone who sees any of these people. Described as developmentally disabled with a scratch on the right side of his face and a rug burn on the back of the neck.

Now you are looking at the crime scene taking place in Henderson, Kentucky. But again, now police are also focusing on Illinois. And they say the couple may have family in Evansville, Kentucky, as well as Fort Wayne, Indiana. So, an Amber Alert for the baby and they are asking folks in all of those neighboring states to keep an eye out for this couple and the 9-month-old baby.

HARRIS: And Fredricka, we've been following this for a couple of days. Do we have a phone number for folks who -- because we need help on this, obviously. Is there a phone number that we can find, maybe we can get it when we come back to you again for an update?

WHITFIELD: I think I'm going to try and get that phone number for you and then bring it to you. Right now all I have is some information that, you know, folks want to get any more information, they can perhaps go to our website, CNN.com and get more information on the case. And in the meantime, I'm going to try to get a phone number for you. So that next time that I'm able to give you some information that might be a lot more helpful as well.

HARRIS: We need to solve this. OK, Fred, appreciate it, thank you.

COLLINS: China may be the key to reigning in North Korea, but how far is Beijing willing to go? CNN's Kathleen Koch has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China, the world's most populous country and North Korea's ally against the U.S. in the Korean War -- but since North Korea's economy collapsed, China has provided most of its food and energy.

Foreign policy experts say that gives it powerful leverage it has used before, and could now, though the rest of the world may never know about it.

BATES GILL, FREEMAN CHAIR IN CHINA STUDIES, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: In the past, China has been willing to shut off some of its energy shipments to North Korea for short periods to express their unhappiness with Pyongyang. So, they are capable of doing these things, but they will do it in a very quiet and nonpublic way.

KOCH: Hence, say longtime diplomats, China's initial declaration after the sanctions vote that it wouldn't check cargo bound for North Korea, followed the next day by quietly beginning inspections at a major border crossing, a face-saving gesture for its neighbor.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: By nature, foreign policy- wise, China is a very cautious country. So, this is why, on the sanctions, they are kind of being coy.

KOCH: So, what does China want? To keep Kim Jong Il, a known quantity, in power.

PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The stability in North Korea, despite as bad as their behavior, is better than a failed state, than civil war, than chaos, then refugee flows into China.

KOCH: Chaos in the forms of millions of refugees pouring into China and uncertainty over who is in control of North Korea's nuclear weapons.

With Kim Jong Il, China maintains some influence on a peninsula where the U.S. and its 50,000 troops are already a powerful presence. Its relationship with the United States, its largest trading partner and key to its future in the global community, is another factor in China's actions.

BROOKES: It is very important, because the United States is a country that probably could get in the way -- in the way, the most, of China's ambitions.

GILL: It's a delicate balancing act for them. And they don't want the United States to take unilateral action, or to try and achieve a solution on the Korean Peninsula that would be principally in American interests.

KOCH (on camera): So, experts predict China will continue walking a tightrope in the North Korean nuclear crisis...

(voice-over): ... tightening the screws on its neighbor enough, but not too much, and working closely with the United States and other nations as a team player in the six-party talks, while, all the while, advancing and protecting its own interests first.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: You can see more of Kathleen Koch's reports on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," weeknights at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific.

HARRIS: Middle class issues in middle America. A look at politics in the heartland, less than three weeks from election day. That is ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: It's an historic day on Wall Street. The Dow goes over 12,000 for the very first time and still resting very, very close to that number. Dipped below just for a second, hopefully.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

HARRIS: Election day now less than three weeks away. This morning, we are going outside the Washington beltway to talk politics in the heartland.

Senior political analyst Bill Schneider looks at middle class issues facing middle America.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: (voice over): Many Americans feel like the man who is about to drown crossing a stream that on the average is three-feet deep. On the average, the economy is doing well.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The budget numbers are proof that pro-growth economic policies work.

SCHNEIDER: But not for people who feel themselves slipping under water.

MARIO CUOMO, FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The people who are really doing well in this country are the very wealthy people, and not the working middle class. That's slipping.

SCHNEIDER: In a new CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, a majority of the Americans say the American dream has become the impossible dream for most people. Those with no college degree have lost faith in the American dream. College graduates still believe, but only about 30 percent of Americans have finished college. There's a lot of middle class frustration out there, and it's focused on Washington. Even Republicans are running against Washington.

(BEGIN CAMPAIGN AD)

JOHN STEELE, (R-MD) CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I know what you're feeling, Washington has no clue what's going on in your life.

(END CAMPAIGN AD)

SCHNEIDER: About three-quarters of the public sees Congress as out of touch with average Americans. About the same as in 1994, the last time voters overthrew the majority in Congress. But it's not just Congress. Nearly 80 percent of Americans feel big business has too much influence over the Bush administration. Democrats are nearly unanimous in that sentiment.

(BEGIN CAMPAIGN AD)

ANNOUNCER: In Washington, we have a White House that has rolled over for the oil companies.

(END CAMPAIGN AD)

SCHNEIDER: As it happens, most Republicans also feel that way, a rare instance of bipartisan agreement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: The economy, scandals in Washington, trouble overseas. Let's talk more about issues important to voters in the heartland. We have guests from neighboring states this morning. Missouri, a red state that went to President Bush in the last election. Illinois went blue for the Democrats.

And joining us from St. Louis now, Kenneth Warren. He's a professor of political science at St. Louis University. And joining us from "The Chicago Tribune" newsroom, editorial page editor Bruce Dold.

Bruce, I want to begin with you, if I could. What do people care about in the heartland?

BRUCE DOLD, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": You know what they care about, they care about the Chicago Bears and Barack Obama.

COLLINS: OK, Barack Obama.

DOLD: Bears are 6-0, and Barack is getting a lot of steam going, a lot of people lining up to buy his new back and ask him to run for president. Things are kind of dispiriting beyond that. But he's kind of the one figure that both parties, a lot of people in Illinois are really excited about.

COLLINS: But they may be excited, Democrats, but what about the Republicans who -- the group of them that may be very discouraged about this upcoming election, and may be sort of thinking about voting Democrat. Do you think Barack Obama is a person that can get that vote to the Democratic side?

DOLD: We recently asked readers to define what is it to be a liberal or to be a conservative, and we were surprised at how many people on both sides defined it in terms of good and evil. They don't just disagree with the other side, they see the other side as bad people. And Obama does seem to be the one person that's bringing both sides together. They find a lot of hope in him, a lot of spirituality, and -- but beyond that, you see Denny Hastert, the speaker of the House, in a safe seat running radio ads on immigration. He may be getting nervous about his own race. He's certainly worried about losing Henry Hyde's seat to the Democrats. A lot of concern for Republicans here.

COLLINS: Okay, Kenneth, I want to get to you. Your opinion on what matters in the heartland of America.

KENNETH WARREN, ST. LOUIS UNIV.: Well, the same thing that's mattering elsewhere in the United States. Missourians are not exactly happy with Bush. Bush's approval ratings are only about 37 percent. And so Missourians are worrying about the war on terrorism. They're worrying about the outcome of Iraq and our commitment to Iraq. And they're also worrying about, despite, by the way, the 12,000 mark for the Dow, they're worrying about their jobs, they are worrying about outsourcing that have cost Missourians jobs. And they are worrying about losing benefits and so forth.

So what's plaguing Missourians right now is the political climate that -- where they see the oil companies reporting great profits, but they don't see their own economic future very bright.

COLLINS: And some would argue the oil business is a business like anything else. But I do want to ask you about something you normally have said, and I think it's interesting -- you say that when the Midwest votes Democratic, then the Dems win. When the Midwest votes Republicans, the Republicans win.

WARREN: Well, that's because Missouri is really your best barometer state. Many studies have shown that. It's gone with the winners in political elections every single time except 1956 for Adlai Stevenson.

So, by the way, you refer to Missouri as a red state. Well, it was a red state last time, but it was a blue state in 1992; it was a blue state in 1996. When the political climate is Republican, Missouri will vote Republican. When the climate is Democrat, the Missourians will vote Democrat.

And I think this year, what you're going to see is probably Missouri voting for McHaskell (ph), for instance. She's ahead slightly in the polls. I think she probably will win, because it's not because Talent has been a bad senator. I think he's served Missouri very well. The problem is, though, he's going to be a victim of circumstances, and that circumstance is a very poor Republican climate.

COLLINS: All right, Bruce, I want to get back to you. How much of this, though is really about getting the vote out? I mean, isn't it true that something like 40 percent to 60 percent of Americans are not voting? Are people going to go and vote this time around?

DOLD: I think in these parts it's going to be very, very difficult year to get much of a turnout, because it's such a dispiriting election. And Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney, is all over city hall in Chicago, all over Cook County, and there's scandal in the state legislature in Springfield. And yet the cesspool in Washington seems to be trumping the cesspool in Chicago. And people look all around that, and they don't see many alternatives. So we could see an historic low turnout, even in Chicago where the Democratic machine is used to being able to get out a pretty good vote.

COLLINS: It's interesting. To me it seems if people are dissatisfied seemingly with both sides as a whole, that that would really get the vote out. But then you've to have somebody on the ballot that can do that.

Your thoughts, Ken, on who that person could be.

WARREN: Well, the fact is, is that polls have shown the Democrats are more motivated this year to turnout, just like Republicans were in 1994. But polls are also showing that Republicans are not as motivated to turnout, because they're not excited about what has happened with the Bush administration. So this will definitely benefit Democrats this year, just like the Republicans were benefited in 1994 when the fortunes for the Democrats were not very bright.

And I think this will suppress the vote among Republicans, and this is the big worry, not that the Republicans will vote Democrat, because of the disillusion with the Bush administration and elsewhere in the Midwest, but it's just that the Republicans decide not to come out and vote.

COLLINS: All right, we're going to have to end it there for now. Midterm elections about three weeks away, gentlemen. We appreciate your time here.

Kenneth Warren, St. Louis University, and Bruce Dold from "The Chicago Tribune," Thank you so much.

Housing, health care, education and out-of-touch politicians. Lou Dobbs tackles those issues and more in a live one-hour special you can watch, "War on the Middle Class," a townhall meeting, tonight at 7:00 Eastern.

HARRIS: Violence unchecked -- is it or isn't it? the debate over a civil war in Iraq. That's next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Nine soldiers, one Marine, the latest Americans killed in Iraq this deadly October. The military announced today four of the soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing west of Baghdad Tuesday. Less than three hours after that attack, another soldier died when his patrol was hit with small-arms fire in northern Baghdad.

Later, a sixth soldier died in a roadside bombing north of the capital. Meanwhile in Diyala province, three Task Force Lightning soldiers died as a result of enemy action during operations there. And in Anbar province, a Marine died from wounds due to enemy action. That makes 65 U.S. troops killed this month, putting October on track to become one of the deadliest months for American forces since the start of the war. So is this civil war or not?

CNN's Tom Foreman looks at all sides of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As coalition forces have handed more control to the Iraqi military, insurgents have tested their strength. Violence has spiked. And so have the voices of international affair analysts, saying, now, a civil war is under way.

The Shia, the largest group of Iraqis, control the east and south. And they are fighting with the minority Sunnis, who control the west, and used to run everything under Saddam. And the Kurds are holding on in the north.

MAJOR GENERAL DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Just, some of it is ethnic hatred, if you will. But it's clearly, in my mind, some type of civil war. We're just afraid to say it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, the -- I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I -- I'm concerned about that, of course.

FOREMAN: The administration hesitates to call it civil war, because coalition troops, while under constant fire, are keeping the Iraqi factions from massing soldiers, from gathering large quantities of arms, and launching broad offensives against each other, hallmarks of a classic civil war.

And, of course, there are political and security considerations.

(on camera): If full-scale, open civil war erupts, and fractures this fledgling democracy, it will certainly be seen a major defeat for the United States. And Iraq could well turn into a prime, long-term staging ground for terrorism.

(voice-over): So, why do some Iraqis seem hell-bent on rushing towards civil war? Besides centuries of conflict, there is a modern cause: oil.

If Iraq can ever stabilize and start pumping its oil at full capacity, it could become a wealthy nation. And no faction wants to see another one grab too much control of that asset.

SHEPPERD: The problem is, you have got oil in the north. You have got oil in the south. You have no oil in the west, where the Sunnis are.

FOREMAN: So, as coalition countries seem to be growing weary of the fighting, many Iraqis seem increasingly poised for a showdown on their country's future, whether that's called a civil war or not.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: A little bit lighter story now. Playground clampdown. Tag banned at one elementary school. Can you believe it? We'll chase down the details in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Time-out on tag and touch football? One elementary school principal in Massachusetts wants kids to keep their hands to themselves. The story from Kimberly Bookman in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She is with affiliate WFXT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIMBERLY BOOKMAN, WFXT REPORTER (voice-over): The days of running like Flo-Jo to catch up to a classmate and scream, tag, you're it are over at Attleboro's Willett (ph) Elementary School. The school has banned the age-old game of tag, the game that makes children's faces flush, heartbeats rush and breath go bye-bye.

KELSEY BISCHOFF, 2ND GRADER: I wanted to do it.

BOOKMAN: Second-grader Kelsey Bischoff was told in school that she and her other classmates can't do contact sports. That means no running, no touching and no pushing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don't hurt anyone else.

BOOKMAN: School officials stand by their playground rules, saying it's simply a safety issue and that there are plenty of other activities for them to do during their 20-minute recess. But the elimination of tag is a talker with parents who think the school is concerned about liability. For Kelsey's mom, who herself remembers the exhilaration of tagging a friend on the playground, the regulation seems over the top.

COLLEEN BISCHOFF, MOTHER OF STUDENT: I've never heard of any kids getting hurt, so I didn't know it was this big of a deal.

BOOKMAN: Even the PTO president thinks it's much ado about nothing.

LAURIE BRASIL, PTO PRESIDENT: I would say it's kind of silly. There's no reason for it and them not being able to play tag.

BOOKMAN: But school officials say it's been on the books for a while, just revisited now that plans for a new playground are on the horizon. After a PTO meeting Tuesday night, parents wouldn't discuss the topic anymore, evidently calling a time-out for tag that will last indefinitely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: So here's the question. What happens to the child if they are running?

HARRIS: Well, they could trip, they could fall.

COLLINS: No, I'm saying punishment.

HARRIS: Oh, well, you know, a day in the corner.

COLLINS: How do you keep a kid from...

HARRIS: A little detention, a little after school time, huh? It becomes -- here's the problem. Here's the problem. It becomes -- it starts out as a simple game of tag.

COLLINS: You're in my space. Keep your hands to yourself.

HARRIS: Next thing you know, it's a full-on scrum, and kids are hurt.

COLLINS: It's silly.

HARRIS: It's...

COLLINS: Meanwhile, moving on to an international issue now, landing in the middle of a crisis. Washington's top diplomat tries to diffuse Asia's nuclear tensions. Developments on that coming up.

HARRIS: And the good and the bad under the sea. New guidelines for fish and how much or how little you should be eating. That story, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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