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CNN NEWSROOM

Deadly Wildfire; President Bush, Prime Minister al-Maliki Exchange Ideas; America Votes 2006; Study Lung Cancer Screening Draws Controversy; Single Females an Untapped Block of Voters

Aired October 28, 2006 - 17:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Watching wildfires and the weather in California. Will Mother Nature help or hurt effort to contain the flames?
Fighting lung cancer. Is there new hope for those at risk?

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNNE CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT'S WIFE: I understand your point. It's kind of the point of a lot of people right now, to try to distort the administration's position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: ... the one-on-one interview the political world is talking about. This hour, more of what Lynne Cheney told Wolf Blitzer about CNN and the rest of the media.

Hello and welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All that and more after this check of the headlines.

In southern California, a barren wasteland after a raging wildfire swept through. A full report on efforts to control the blaze in just a moment.

An apparent meeting of the minds on Iraq. President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki exchanged ideas today in a video teleconference. According to a joint statement, they agreed on common goals for the country.

A live report from the White House in 10 minutes.

Iraqi security forces found 25 more bodies dumped across Baghdad today. Many showed signs of torture. Police say they appear to be victims of the rampant sectarian violence.

NATO is promising Afghan President Hamid Karzai a full investigation into recent civilian deaths. Some 70 Afghan civilians were killed as NATO troops battled insurgents earlier this week. Military commanders accuse the Taliban of using civilians as human shields.

To our top story now.

After being evacuated Thursday, residents of two southern California towns are getting a brief look at what's left of their homes. The Santa Ana winds that fanned the Esperanza wildfire are dying down, and that's good news for the crews trying to bring the blaze under control.

Our Gary Tuchman is in Beaumont with a progress report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In terms of fighting this fire, 24 hours has made quite a difference. The winds have lessened considerably, the skies behind me are blue now. Yesterday they were blackened with smoke.

Firefighters say they have made a lot of progress in fighting this huge brushfire. There are more than 2,100 firefighters on the scene, more than 270 fire trucks. Many helicopters and airplanes, including a modified DC-10. It's quite a sight, seeing this huge aircraft dump flame retardant. We're told that every eight seconds it dumps 12,000 gallons of flame retardant as it tries to fight this blaze.

But so far today the news is good. The progress is being met in fighting this blaze. But there is a lot of sadness, people are very angry because of the four firefighters who were killed while they were trying to protect a house.

The fire overtook them while they were in their truck. Four firefighters dead, another one in the hospital. His prognosis poor, burned over 90 percent of his body.

And authorities say it was an arsonist or arsonists who started the blaze, and when they are caught, if they are caught, they could possibly be charged with murder. There is a $500,000 reward being offered for the person or persons capture and their conviction.

A short time ago we talked with a firefighter from the nearby town of Lake Elsinore, and he was telling us a story a lot of people are telling us here, how scary it is out there, how treacherous it was out there. They were in a situation where they thought they were trapped.

GREG KEEFER, LAKE ELSINORE FIRE DEPT.: It started to jump right over the top of the road and as we were back in there, we had no escape route and the only route was down the road. And the flames were jumping over the top of the road. And we literally just had to hold our place and the flames ended up jumping up over the top of the engine and under it. And the firefighters were jumping in the engine to get away from it. And it moved so fast it literally moved under and over the top of the engine and jumped on the other side of the road about a good 25, 30 feet and lit the other side of the hill up.

TUCHMAN: Did you think you were going to die?

KEEFER: Yes. Always, on conditions like this. I don't mind telling you, I was scared for my life. We got the heck out of there.

TUCHMAN: How did you get out?

KEEFER: We drove through the flames.

TUCHMAN: You heard it right, they actually drove through the fire. There was no other way out other than drive through the fire. All the firefighters in that truck are OK.

They call this fire the Esperanza Fire because it started near Esperanza Avenue here in Riverside County, California. But in Spanish "esperanza" means "hope," and that's very appropriate, because they're hoping they get a handle on this blaze some time today.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Beaumont, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And more now on those fallen fighters, four men who died doing a job they loved.

Hal Eisner of CNN affiliate KTTV talked to grief-stricken family members.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA AYALA, FIREFIGHTER'S MOTHER: I want my baby back.

HAL EISNER, KTTV REPORTER (voice-over): Gloria Ayala is talking about her 20-year-old son Danny one of the four fire fighters killed by a wood driven flames overran them while they were protecting a home.

LINGAFELTER: I just want him back. That is all I want. I am angry at whoever started this fire. I am so angry at them because they killed him.

EISNER: Whitney Lingafelter says her boyfriend was so proud of being a fire fighter.

LINGAFELTER: He loved it. It was his dream.

EISNER: But that dream turned into a nightmare for all of those who loved Danny. For all of those who loved the four firefighters from Engine Company 57.

ALLISON STEWART, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: There is a lot of pain right now.

EISNER: This was a day filled with emotion. Announcing the names of the firefighters who were killed was tough for the U.S. Forest Service.

STEWART: Mark Loutzenhiser was the engine captain.

EISNER: Mark Loutzenhiser was 44, had 21 years of service, lived in Idyllwild, and was certified as an EMT.

STEWART: Jesse McLean was the fire engine operator.

EISNER: Jess McLean was 27, lived in Beaumont, who worked for the forest service for seven years.

STEWART: Jason McKay was the assistant fire engine operating.

EISNER: Jason McKay was also 27. Had worked for the Forest Service for five years, was a certified EMT, had gotten a degree in fire science. Then there was Danny.

STEWART: Daniel Hoover-Najera was a fire fighter who was 20 years old and was in his second season of fire fighting.

EISNER: Danny's mother doesn't understand why her son was assigned to structure protection.

AYALA: He was too new; he was too green to be in there. He only started October 4; he was doing temp work before. I don't know. I need to know if that was right or wrong.

EISNER: Nonetheless, Danny's family, siblings and girlfriend mourn.

MONICA AYALA, FIREFIGHTER'S SISTER: He was my hero. I'm going to miss him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's gone. But I'll always remember him.

G. AYALA: As ashes keep coming down, I keep thinking part of my baby is coming down on me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: That report from Hal Eisner of KTTV in Los Angeles.

Well, let's get a check on the wind condition there out West. Santa Ana winds dying down a little bit.

Is it significant enough, Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it will be, Fredricka.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: American deaths in Iraq now this month have climbed to nearly 100. The military says a Marine died Friday from combat wounds in Anbar province. The death toll for October now at 98.

In Baghdad today, more apparent victims of Sunni versus Shiite violence. Iraqi security forces found 25 bodies dumped around the city. Police say some of the bodies showed signs of torture. And now the effort to get the Iraqi government on the same page as Washington. President Bush today held a lengthy conversation with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Live from the White House now with more on that, CNN's Elaine Quijano -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon to you, Fredricka.

That's right, President Bush hit the campaign trail this morning, first stopping off in Indiana. But before that he did hold that video conference with Prime Minister Maliki, which comes at a critical time for both domestic and international politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice over): At his first public campaign rally this election season, President Bush tried to go on the offense, hitting Democrats on the issue analysts say is Republicans' biggest political liability: Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And all the people listening here, I want you to think about the Democrat plan for success. There isn't one.

QUIJANO: With a little over a week to go until the congressional midterm elections, both the President and first lady Laura Bush tackled domestic politics Saturday, each campaigning in different states.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: And thanks for coming to support Congressman Tom Reynolds and Congressman Randy Kuhl, both to be re- elected to the United States Congress.

QUIJANO: At the same time, the White House tackled international politics, seeking to downplay recent reports of increased tensions between Baghdad and Washington over timelines for Iraqi progress. Aides say President Bush spent almost an hour Saturday morning on a video conference with Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, describing the meeting as part of ongoing consultations.

But it came on the heels of the prime minister telling the U.S. Friday he was "not America's man in Iraq." Still, a senior Bush aide called reports of tensions over-hyped and a joint statement by the two leaders after the conference said, "We are committed to the partnership our two countries and two governments have formed and will work in every way possible for a stable, democratic Iraq and for victory on the war on terror."

Against that backdrop, Democrats have seized on Iraq as an example, they say, of the Bush administration's and Republicans' failed policies.

JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: With the right leadership, the situation in Iraq is solvable in a way that will increase stability in the Middle East and reduce the threat of international terrorism. But the key word is "leadership," which has been a scarce commodity among this administration and its followers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO: Still, President Bush continues to argue that it is Democrats, he says, who are misguided about the way forward in the war on terrorism, as he tries to make that debate about the larger war on terror and not just focusing on Iraq -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elaine. Thanks so much.

And we'll have much more on the Iraqi government's struggle with militias later on today.

And join CNN's John Roberts for a special edition of "This Week at War," from Baghdad. That's tonight at 7:00 Eastern and again tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

And this is what it's come to, mimicking mobsters, fake phone sex hotlines. With just a few days until midterm elections, the latest campaign ads are really hitting below the belt.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: That is a mighty house you're building on top of that mole hill there, or mighty mountain. You know, this is complete distortion. He didn't say anything of the kind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Not holding anything back. Lynne Cheney defending her husband. Find out what else was on her mind in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

And why it's a life-and-death career choice. Would you do it? The youngest governor in Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Ten days and counting until America votes, and some of the political ads are getting downright dirty to the point that some outlets are refusing to air them.

CNN's Mary Snow reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our boy down in Washington, Bob Menendez...

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Call it politics "Sopranos" style.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. You better start looking into these fixed contracts -- bada bing, we're in it but deep. And worse, this guy Tom Kean, he wants to clean things up.

SNOW: A conservative group spent $200,000 to run these cable ads mimicking mobsters and targeting Democratic senator Bob Menendez. Menendez has denounced the commercials and called on his Republican challenger, Tom Kean Jr., to have them pulled.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: And ad that's being run on his behalf smears Italian-Americans in this state, as it tries to smear me at the same time.

SNOW: Kean says his campaign had nothing to do with the ad.

TOM KEAN JR. (R), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: This is one of those independent expansions, those 527 groups. And it's wrong. I'm outraged by this ad, and I said that last week.

SNOW: It's independent political groups, say observers, that go where candidates don't want to tread, in advertisements that are seemingly negative each season.

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: These groups can really engage on issues that sometimes the campaigns just have to stay away from because they're too hot to handle.

SNOW: Case in point, this ad in New York's 24th District.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, sexy. You've reached the live, one-on- one (INAUDIBLE).

SNOW: The National Republican Congressional Committee stands by its $10,000 ad that targets Democrat Michael Arcuri, claiming he billed taxpayers for a call to a phone sex hotline. Arcuri says the number was on a phone bill because an aide called a sex hotline by mistake that had similar digits to a government office.

Arcuri's office says he hasn't ruled out filing a lawsuit over the ad. And his Republican challenger, Raymond Meier, has distanced himself from the NRCC and the ad. With such loud protests over these ads, why are thousands of dollars being spent to make them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they didn't work, campaigns wouldn't use them. This is the time that every campaign that's trailing or every campaign that's trying to put an opponent away will generally try and get one ad out there on the air that they think is the silver bullet.

SNOW (on camera): At last check, the phone sex ads aired at the beginning of this week and several stations refused to show it. The question is, will these tactics backfire in places like New Jersey, where many voters say they are fed up with the negativity?

Mary Snow, CNN, Hoboken, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And next hour, Carol Lin talks live with Internet bloggers from both political persuasions for more on the negative ad campaigns.

And check out the CNN Political Ticker. It gives you the inside view of the day's political stories.

See for yourself at CNN.com/ticker.

It's one of the most feared cancer killers, but most people don't know they have lung cancer until it's just too late. Coming up, new research offering new hope.

Unemployment, poverty, even death threats, it's one -- or rather, those are the things that are facing an Afghan governor every day. So why did he choose deadly politics over medicine?

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Lung cancer, it's the number one cause of all cancer deaths. But a new study raises new hope.

Judy Fortin tells us why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A brisk walk is a gift for 66-year-old Thelma Brussel, a former two-pack-a-day smoker who was afraid her lung cancer diagnosis was a death sentence.

THELMA BRUSSEL, LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR: I am alive and there are so many people who are not.

FORTIN: Five years ago, Brussel's doctor insisted on a CT scan, knowing she had been smoking 50 years. Sure enough, it detected a malignant tumor which she promptly had removed.

BRUSSEL: I am considered surgically cured.

FORTIN: The recent deaths of Peter Jennings, a smoker, and Dana Reeve, who was not, remind us most aren't so lucky. Six of 10 people diagnosed with lung cancer die within a year, chiefly because they don't know they have it until it is too late.

DR. CLAUDIA HENSCHKE, RADIOLOGIST: Usually when you're -- when a cancer is diagnosed based on symptoms, it is the late-stage cancer.

FORTIN: Compelling new research gives hope for surviving lung cancer. A "New England Journal of Medicine" study finds using annual CT screening lung cancer can be detected at its earliest stage when it is most curable in 85 percent of patients. And when caught early and treated promptly, 92 percent of stage one lung cancer patients survive a decade or longer.

HENSCHKE: This essentially turns lung cancer from being a highly deadly disease, where essentially 95 percent of people who develop lung cancer ultimately die of it, to being a curable disease. FORTIN: So will your doctor start prescribing an annual CT scan for you if you smoke? Not yet. The American Cancer Society says the study shows promise, but before ruling on its effectiveness and making recommendations, it will require results from ongoing trials. Questions remain about false-positives, findings on CT scans that appear to be lung cancer but aren't, exposing a patient to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous procedure and cost effectiveness. A CT scan costs hundreds of dollars and often is not covered by insurance.

DR. DAVID JOHNSON, VANDERBILT CANCER INSTITUTE: This is not a test that should be recommended routinely to patients with a smoking history. It remains an individual decision for an individual patient and his or her physician.

FORTIN: Brussel believes smokers should be screened.

BRUSSEL: I would not be alive today. It is that simple.

FORTIN: Judy Fortin, CNN reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And that report so encouraging, we asked Dr. Bill Lloyd to join us in about 20 minutes from now for more on the CT scans and the detection debate.

After nearly two decades on the U.S. Supreme Court, he might now be the one true swing vote. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, a look at Anthony Kennedy's growing influence on a divided court.

Plus, crews in California gaining ground on the flames, but not before more homes are destroyed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: The vice president says he wasn't endorsing torture when he answered a question about dunking suspected terrorists to try to make them to talk.

Here's the question asked by an interviewer on Tuesday: "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it saves lives?" Cheney's answer: "It's a no-brainer for me."

Well, seeking clarification yesterday, another reporter asked about inducing the feeling of drowning by pouring water on suspects faces. It's called water boarding.

Cheney's response: "I didn't say anything about water boarding." He continued, "I didn't say anything. He did." Meaning the person asking the questions.

The vice president's wife has joined the fray. In an interview with CNN, Lynne Cheney said reports of her husband's comments about a mountain on top of a mole hill, and she didn't stop there.

Here's Mrs. Cheney with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHENEY: That is a mighty house you're building on top of that mole hill there, or a mighty mountain. You know, this is a complete distortion. He didn't say anything of the kind.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Because of the dunking -- you know, using the water and the dunking?

CHENEY: Well, I understand your point. It's kind of the point of a lot of people right now to try to distort the administration's position. And if you -- if you really want to talk about that, I watched the program on CNN last night which I thought -- it's your 2006 voter program -- which I thought was a terrible distortion of both the President and the vice president's position on many issues.

It seemed almost straight out of Democratic talking points, using phrases like "domestic surveillance," when it is not domestic surveillance that anyone has talked about or ever done. It's surveillance of terrorists. It's people who have al Qaeda connections calling into the United States.

So I think we're in the season of distortion. And this is just one more.

BLITZER: But there have been some cases where innocent people have been picked up, interrogated, held for long periods of time, then simply said, never mind, they're let go.

CHENEY: Well, are you sure these people are innocent?

BLITZER: They are walking around free right now and nobody's arrested them.

CHENEY: You made a point last night of a man who had a bookstore in London where radical Islamists gathered. Who was in Afghanistan when the Taliban were there. Who went to Pakistan. You know, I think that you might be a little careful before you declare this as a person with clean hands.

BLITZER: You're referring to the CNN "Broken Government" special. This was the one that John King reported on last night.

CHENEY: Right there, Wolf, "Broken Government." Now what kind of stance is that? Here we are. We are a country where we have been mightily challenged over the past six years. We've been through 9/11, we've been through Katrina. The President and the vice President inherited the recession. We're in a country where the economy's healthy, that's not broken.

This government has acted very well. We have tax cuts that are responsible for our healthy economy. We're a country that was attacked five years ago. We haven't been attacked since. What this government has done is effective. That's not broken government.

So you know, I shouldn't let media bias surprise me, but I worked at CNN once.

BLITZER: You worked with...

CHENEY: I watched your program last night, and I was troubled.

BLITZER: All right. Well, that was probably the purpose, to get people to think, to get people to discuss these issues. Because a lot of conservatives...

CHENEY: Wolf, I'm here to talk about my book, but if you want to talk about distortion...

BLITZER: We'll talk about your book.

CHENEY: Right, but what is CNN doing? Running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans? I mean, I thought Duncan Hunter asked you a very good question and you didn't answer it. Do you want us to win?

BLITZER: The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans, there's no doubt about that. You think we want terrorists to win?

CHENEY: Then why are you running terrorists' propaganda?

BLITZER: With all due respect, this is not terrorist propaganda. This is reporting the news, which is what we do. We're not partisan...

CHENEY: Where did you get the film?

BLITZER: We got the film -- look, this is an issue that has been widely discussed. This is an issue that we reported on extensively. We make no apologies for showing that. That was a very carefully considered decision, why we did that.

And I think, and I think...

CHENEY: Well, I think it is shocking.

BLITZER: If you're a serious journalist, you want to report the news. Sometimes the news is good, sometimes the news isn't so good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, Lynne Cheney, face-to-face with Wolf Blitzer on the "SITUATION ROOM".

Well, tomorrow, Wolf hosts his late edition. Senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden will discuss the war in Iraq and the upcoming misterm elections. Late edition airs tomorrow morning at 11:00 Eastern.

A look at our top stories right now. President Bush hopes to help fellow Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections, now just ten days away. Mr. Bush is making a couple of campaign stops in South Carolina and Indiana today.

Officials in southern California say the Esperanza wildfire is not 40 percent contained. More than 2,000 firefighters were battling the blaze, which officials suspect was deliberately set. Four firefighters have died. A fifth is critically burned.

NATO's allied commander is promising a full investigation into the deaths of an estimated 70 Afghan civilians killed during an air strike targeting insurgents in southern Afghanistan.

And police in Jamaica say former heavyweight boxing champ Trevor Berbick has died. He was found dead early this morning, suffering from head wounds. Nothing more is being said about the circumstances of his death. Berbick was 52.

On the docket at the U.S. Supreme Court. A slew of politically divisive issues, including an abortion rights case. One justice, in particular, may leave a lasting mark on these cases. He's a swing voter whose centrist status could make him a major power broker.

Here's CNN's Gary Nurenberg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBURG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly 19 years after becoming a Supreme Court justice, Anthony Kennedy in 2006 may emerge from relative obscurity to become the key player on a divided court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are really two wings, four fairly liberal justice, four quite conservative justices, and Anthony Kennedy sitting right in the middle.

NURENBERG (on camera): The math couldn't be simpler, four fairly liberal, four quite conservative on a nine member court, you feed five votes to win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that there's the possibility that this becomes the Kennedy court. That is, he gets to decide on a lot of these very tough issues that are coming up on the court's docket.

CROWD: Get your laws off my body.

NURENBURG: Tough issues legally, controversial issues politically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new term has keyed up very early cases on partial birth abortion bans, the use of race in elementary schools and secondary schools, as well as limits on punitive damages in the tobacco context, and a host of other cases that are likely to divide the court rather sharply.

NURENBERG: So on a sharply divided court, where does Kennedy land? In half a dozen key cases last term, Kennedy sided with the conservative block, upholding controversial legislative redistricting in Texas and the death penalty statute in Kansas. Less often, he sided with the liberal block, rejecting military tribunals for terrorism suspects and limiting police searches of homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He surprises both his friends and his foes with some regularity. But he has become over the last 18 years a very deep student of the law.

KENNEDY: Too much depth for critics who read Kennedy's decisions and describe him as the man in the muddle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is frustrating for people who want a bright line rule. And so he basically softens the decisions of the court so that they become somewhat less clear at their boundaries as to how extensive they are.

NURENBERG: For years, Kennedy shared swing vote status with Sandra Day O'Connor, but her retirement leaves him on many issues as the sole man in the middle, leaves him with more power than he has ever had before.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And "CNN PRESENTS" a disturbing look at the relationship between politics and the courts and how that could affect your rights. "Judges on Trial", part of our continuing series "Broken Government," that airs tonight at 8:00 eastern.

Quote/unquote, "mistakes were made." The words of NATO supreme allied commander who gave his account today of a NATO operation in Afghanistan that left about 70 civilians dead. The civilians and dozens of insurgents were killed in battles in the southern Kandahar province on Tuesday. General James Jones says the Taliban uses civilians as human shields. But he admits, in the heat of battle, differentiating the two can be difficult. The general is promising a full investigation.

Enforcing the law in Afghanistan, a potentially deadly job these days. But that's not scaring off one young governor, who's working tirelessly to maintain order in a particularly dangerous province.

Reporting from Sherona (ph), Afghanistan, CNN's Jennifer Eccleston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Muhammad Akram Khpalwak, is something of a novelty in Afghanistan: young, educated, a medical doctor by training and an English speaker. With these credentials, he could have escaped this broken land for a better life abroad. Instead he answered the call of his president.

DR. MUHAMMAD AKRAM KHPALWAK, GOV. OF PAKTIKA PROVINCE: We have a lot of change. A lot of big change in Afghanistan.

ECCLESTON: Because of that change, he agreed to become governor of Paktika province on Afghanistan's troubled southeastern border with Pakistan. It's a massive challenge.

CAPT. ADNAN JABBOUR, COALITION ADVISER: No civic authority. There's no civil servant. The whole concept is void. There's no understanding of a central government. There's no understanding of being a citizen. A republic, that's totally foreign to a bunch of individuals who see themselves as tribesmen.

ECCLESTON: His easy smile belies a no nonsense approach: work with the government, you'll see development dollars, even if you were a Taliban supporter. Work against the government, progress will pass you by and coalition and Afghan forces will pay you a visit. Such straight talks makes him an extremist target. Death threats are numerous.

KHPALWAK: This is not a problem for me. Because we are working for our country, we are working for our people.

ECCLESTON: Unemployment and poverty drives violence in Paktika, he says, not extremists ideology.

KHPALWAK: We do know why they kill the teacher, the doctor, why they kill the villagers, why they kill the elder. But they're just working for the money.

ECCLESTON: At 33 years old, he is the youngest governor in Afghanistan. His American advisers say his future is bright. He wouldn't disagree.

(on camera): Governor, would you like to become president someday?

KHPALWAK: That's a -- the life is coming. Yes. We'll see. But the important thing now, is not president. The important thing for me is that -- to work for our people.

ECCLESTON (voice-over): Spoken like a true politician.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, Sherona, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Millions of Americans choose not to vote on election day. Just how many women are part of that group? And a look at a new campaign that's trying to get them to the polls.

Plus, new research on detecting lung cancer that may save lives. So why is this screening so controversial? A live interview next.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: CNN Weather Center. A powerful storm in the northeast is whipping winds so strong thousands are left without power. When will the wind slacken up? We'll let you know. Your forecast, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Guess who -- or shall we say, what -- is celebrating a birthday. One hundred and twenty years ago today, U.S. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue formerly known as "Liberty Lighting the World," the Statue of Liberty. It was a gift of friendship from France. It also commemorated America's centennial of independence from Britain. A nice shot of Lady Liberty.

Well, it seems to right of passage of fall. It's that time again. Don't forget to fall back an hour for the end of daylight savings time later on tonight. You'll get an extra hour of sleep if you do, and you'll also be on time for everything else tomorrow.

Well, windy in the west and stormy in the east. Let's get the latest from meteorologist Jacqui Jeras in the "Severe Weather and Storm Center" -- Jacqui.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: Well, more now on the new study suggesting that millions of lung cancer deaths could be prevented by using CT scans to detect the disease earlier. Sounds great, so why are so many doctors calling the study's methodology flawed?

Dr. Bill Lloyd from the University of California-Davis Medical Center joins us live with more.

It certainly sounds like good news, so what's the dispute about?

DR. BILL LLOYD, UNIV. OF CALIF.-DAVIS MED. CTR.: Well, Fredricka, this is a large study with a large amount of data. But it's important that we don't make a logical leap and say, this information, about all of these CT scans means patients live longer.

Let me give you an example. They looked at 32,000 people over about a 12 year period. And they found about 400 patients, and everyone of them was an at risk person, they were a smoker or had other risk factors for lung cancer. And they discovered very, very small first stage cancers, many of them the size of a pencil eraser.

Great, these patients had their treatment and they lived a certain number of years down the road. Based on this study, they're saying, doing these scans every year will allow these patients to live longer, and that's not necessarily true. They haven't really shown that. All they've shown is, by having scans, you find out earlier that you have cancer. It may not affect your overall survival.

WHITFIELD: Well, wouldn't that be one and the same? But I can almost see that -- why wouldn't that be one and the same? If you find it, if you detect it early, that means that could potentially prolong your survival rate?

LLOYD: Certainly. You don't need to be a Yale premed student to understand that early cancer detection may improve survivalship. But maybe you just notified the patient earlier that you have this cancer and you really you haven't affected the outcome. And that's the flaw in this study. They didn't look at people that weren't at risk, and they didn't look at other screening methods. They just looked at people, like we said, 32,000 of them, and did this scan every single year for 12 or 13 years. And of those few that they found that actually did develop cancer, very early cancer, they got them early treatment.

That's good, but Fredricka, it costs a lot of money to do a CT scan...

WHITFIELD: And that was my next question.

LLOYD: ... and for that many thousands of people, it may not be financially responsible to invest that much money to find that small number of people with cancer that may not make any difference at all.

WHITFIELD: So not necessarily cost effective. But you know, for those who have insurance, likely their insurance would cover it. But the worry is, for those who don't have the kind of insurance that would cover it, it seems like it would be an unfair playing field.

LLOYD: Insurance companies will cover cancer screening as long as it makes sense. That is to say, it actually demonstrates that it extends your life, rather than simply notifies you earlier that you have cancer. So right now most insurance companies won't cover these routine screenings of healthy people who don't have symptoms, an $800 CT scan every year. No, they're not going to use that money for that. They're going to use that money for people who've already been diagnosed with cancer.

Now, a pap smear, a mammogram, these can be performed on millions of people. They're not nearly as expensive. And they've already shown that having those early tests will extend their life. So we need to think about other less expensive screening methods to help people who are at risk for breast -- excuse me, for lung cancer, which includes good old-fashioned chest x-rays.

And there are a number of studies out there right now trying to compare if chest x-rays provide as much information as these CT scans, bronchoscopy, sputum cytology, and even little tests involving needle biopsies to fin out if we can locate these cancers early and extend those patients' lives.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Dr. Bill Lloyd, thanks so much. I have a feeling we'll be talking about it again one of these days.

LLOYD: We'll talk again soon.

WHITFIELD: All right, Carol Lin, here now with more of what's ahead in the NEWSROOM.

CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, coming up at the next hour, Fred, we've got our blogger segment, which has gotten pretty popular because we take a couple of the most popular bloggers to talk about the big issues. We're talking about negative ads out there. And also, did you hear about NBC is banning the movie trailer for the Dixie Chick's movie.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

LIN: Well, the point of view, I would say and the bloggers would say, is that it's critical of President Bush, and that NBC doesn't want to have it on its air. So we'll be talking about that.

At 10:00, a little bit of "sex and the City" and the campaign. There's a political ad out that has some of the sexiest and smartest women on television talking about what sounds like sex but really isn't.

We're talking about getting a block of women voters, get them to the polls. If they can get this particular block of women to the polls they can change the face of just about any election. That's how many are out. So I'm talking with actress Tyne Daly (ph), who starred in the ad, and also womens' right -- a voter rights expert, who is talking about the latest trends.

WHITFIELD: Well, the dynamics of this election season certainly has reached a new high and low.

LIN: Yes. Everybody's excited about it. November 7th, election day. You could make a difference.

WHITFIELD: That's right.

All right, thanks a lot, Carol.

We'll be right back with much more from the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: You're looking at live pictures right now at the airport in Charleston, South Carolina. President Bush, something for many candidates, not just in South Carolina, but in Indiana as well, talking to supporters right now at the Charleston International Airport. You see U.S. Air Force One behind him as his back drop.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We appreciate you, and I'll do everything in my power...

WHITFIELD: Well, they are single, savvy and already a potent political force. But a new ad campaign hopes to woo even of them to the polls.

Our Dana Bash now on the so-called "Sex and the City" voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mary Ann Randexo (ph) is 27 years old. She has never voted before and won't this year either.

MARY ANN RANDEXO: I don't feel it's going to change my life.

BASH: She's just too busy working at her father's pizza parlor in suburban Philadelphia. RANDEXO: Just because I'm stuck in this place -- I work six days a week, 60 hours plus, so I'm pissed (ph) because I really don't have time.

BASH: And politics turns her off, especially the negative campaign ads.

RANDEXO: It bores me, I flip the channel, to be honest with you.

BASH: Mary Ann is one of jaw-dropping 20 million unmarried women who did not vote in 2004. Now a non-partisan group is hoping these ads will get their attention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want me to tell you about the first time I did it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the best time is in the fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to do it in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's cool, pretty, sexy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a beautiful thing.

PAGE GARDNER, WOMEN'S VOICES. WOMEN VOTE: Even though 20 million did not vote, 27 million did. So they are a potent political force and they are the fastest growing demographic we have in this country.

BASH: In 2004 they were dubbed "Sex in the City" voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So which district do you vote in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whichever one is near Barney.

BASH: But most single women are nothing like Carrie Bradshaw.

GARDNER: Half of them make $30,000 or less. Thirty six percent move every two years. So, they have very difficult lives.

BASH: Non-partisan grassroots groups are working to get out the single vote, going to door with information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So November 2nd, have fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 7th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, November 2nd. I'm probably not a good candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're the perfect.

BASH: Phone banking targeting unmarried women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just calling the women to make sure they go out and vote.

BASH: The biggest beneficiaries would likely be Democrats if more single females did vote.

ANNA GREENBERG, POLLSTER: Most likely to say, the country's going in the wrong direction. They hate the war in Iraq. They feel like the economy has not helped them over the last five or six years. So I think you could expect unmarried women, if they vote, to vote pretty Democratic.

BASH: Back at the pizza parlor, Mary Ann said she would vote Democrat because of the war and...

RANDEXO: Health insurance. I'm on my own. Health insurance is so expensive for just a single female.

BASH: But she's not even registered to vote, and the deadline has passed. Maybe next time.

Dana Bash, CNN, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Well, another live shot right now of President Bush as he's stumping for candidates in South Carolina and in Indiana.

You're looking at live shots right now of the Charleston International Airport. You're looking at an Air Force jet behind him, because Charleston, South Carolina is particularly proud of its historical relevance in the military community there, having a number of military bases there is. It's thinned over the years, but still, a community that's proud of its military history. President Bush there in Charleston, South Carolina.

Well, all it takes is a slip of the tongue and President Bush has a new nickname. Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, Jeanne Moos tells us about the Googler-in-chief.

And it may be tough enough for you to keep your goldfish tank clean. So imagine a tank with 8 million gallons of water. We'll show you how it's all done. That and much when Carol Lin takes over in just about three minutes from now in the CNN Center in Atlanta.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

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

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