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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Weapons Missing in Iraq; Congressman Duncan Hunter to Form Exploratory Committee for Presidential Election; NYC Cutting the Fat?; Candidates Still Scrambling for Cash; War Widows Run Marine Corps Marathon

Aired October 30, 2006 - 13:59   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: One hundred and one U.S. soldiers killed this month, and this October ranks as the fourth deadliest month in the Iraq war. Unbearable for their families and troubling for the Pentagon, especially in light of a new report that thousands of U.S. weapons meant for Iraqi security forces are missing.
CNN's Barbara Starr has more -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, this is a new report from something -- an office called the Inspector General for Iraq, basically a part of the Bush administration that tries to keep track of contracting and other financial responsibility issues in the Iraqi effort. Now, they have put out a new report looking at the fate, shall we say, of the hundreds of thousands of small arms that had been issued to Iraqi police and security officials, things like rifles, snipers, machine -- sniper rifles, machine guns, handguns, pistols, that sort of thing.

What they found was that of 370,000 weapons or so bought with U.S. funds, about 10,000 of them only actually ever had their serial numbers recorded in these small arms, which is vital, of course, to keeping track of them and knowing where they are and who they've been issued to and where they've gone. So about 360,000 small arms bought and paid for by the U.S. government and transferred to Iraqi security forces, basically sort of unaccounted for.

They don't have the serial numbers on them. They don't have the paperwork they need on them. They do have some records that they've been issued out to security forces, and they're in the field, but without those serial numbers, nobody can really be exactly sure of the fate of those weapons -- Kyra.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Barbara. It's Don. We're going to get back to you, but we've got to go to something else.

Duncan Hunter, who has represented suburban San Diego in Congress for 26 years, is on the ballot again next Tuesday, but the California Republican may be setting his sights a little bit higher for that in 2008.

He's speaking in San Diego. Let's take a listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: And in that job as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I want you to know I'm going to do everything I can to continue to make our country the strongest in the world and to make our military continue to be second to none in the world. And while I'm doing that, and while we're doing that together as a nation, there's something else that I'm going to be doing, and that's what I wanted to talk to you about today.

I believe in laying my cards on the table before the -- before the next two years. We've always done that. And that's what I want to talk about.

You know, 26 years ago, I campaigned as a candidate for Congress on this waterfront. And in this harbor, there were ships that couldn't sail, Navy ships, and in our carrier air wings, there were aircraft that couldn't fly because of lack of spare parts. We had 1,000 petty officers a month leaving the Navy because they couldn't pay -- they couldn't feed their families with the pay they were getting. We had an Army that was described as a hollow Army.

Well, I went into Congress with a guy named Ronald Reagan as the head of this great country. And together -- and together, we rebuilt national security.

And you know, we stood up to the Soviet Union. We were in the middle of the Cold War of the 1980s. And Ronald Reagan, when the Russians put SS-20 missiles ringing (ph) our allies in Europe moved in with ground-launch cruise missiles and Pershing 2s. When they tried to enter our hemisphere, he stood up to them. He supported the contras in Nicaragua and that fragile government in El Salvador.

And you know, we had lots of liberals that criticized us. The liberals had lots of strategies, mainly for retreat, just as they do now, but we stood up to the Soviets, we brought down the Berlin wall, and we freed hundreds of millions of people.

Well, today we're bringing freedom to a different part of the world. You know, it's a part of the world where -- where tyranny doesn't come from the teachings of Karl Marx. It comes from a perverted notion of Islam that compels the killings of Christians and Jews and other Muslims who don't believe in that precise theory of the extremists who propound that policy.

And we're right now fighting in another part of the world that we're trying to change for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for those that say we don't have a plan for Iraq and Afghanistan, let me offer you the plan that we have used in many, many countries for the last 60 years, and it's a plan that we're following.

It's called you stand up a free government. And then you stand up a military that can protect that free government, and then the Americans leave.

One, two, three, stand up to free government. We've done that. Stand up to military that can protect it. We're doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. And number three, the Americans leave. Now, which is it, the one or the two or the three that the liberals don't understand?

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTER: Now, you know, we pursued this policy of peace through strength, and with a short break in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, where we saw defense spending slashed by President Clinton, we have maintained that policy. Today, this administration, with a Republican Congress, are spending more than $100 billion more annually than the Clinton administration was.

We have increased pay for our military folks by over 40 percent over the last eight years. We provided new types of body armors, up- armored Humvees, new tactical gear. We've rebuilt our intelligence community that was slashed by the Clinton administration, and we are learning to project power with precision munitions, and today we have roughly twice the precision munitions capability that we had in the Clinton administration.

So we are trying to change the world for freedom. And ladies and gentlemen, when we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have countries that are friends, not enemies, of the United States, that will not be a launching ground for terrorists, that will have a benign relationship with our country, and they are located in strategic areas of the world. And that will accrue to the benefit of generations of Americans yet to come.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTER: Now, ladies and gentlemen, let me talk a little bit about this place, this great San Diego place. This waterfront, and how Lynne and I started here 26 years ago.

We had a little -- a little office over in the barrio, and that's where I gave free advice, legal counsel to young Hispanics who couldn't afford to pay. And my dad always said that they got what they paid for.

It's a place where I remember that my son came back from Iraq in this great Camp Pendleton just a few miles to the north of our city. And 60 years earlier, my dad came back to this same town after serving his country in World War II in the South Pacific.

Now, I've got two years left as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And I'm going to be working to make sure that our troops have everything that they need...

LEMON: All right. That's Representative Duncan Hunter from her San Diego, holding a press conference there.

It has been expected, at least through news reports, that he may announce, make some sort of major announcement possibly for the White House here. And it sounded definitely like a stump speech, him laying out some sort of plan for Iraq and for the war on terror and for the war in Afghanistan, calling it the one, two, three plan. You set up a government, you stand up a military who can protect that government, and then the Americans leave.

So let's go bring in now our Jeff Greenfield, who can talk to us about this.

Not officially an announcement, at least not yet, Jeff. But it certainly sounds, as I said, as leading up to an announcement in some sort of a stump speech.

What did you make of all this?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, at some point I think Congressman Hunter will get to the point of telling us he's going to form an exploratory committee to test the waters for 2008. You know, in the House you don't have unlimited debate, and sometimes when a member of the House, as opposed to the Senate, gets going, it takes a while to get to the point.

But if you ask why would Duncan Hunter, a House member, even think about seeking the presidency -- the last member of the House to do this successfully, I believe, was James Garfield -- it's that, A, he may not be the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in the next Congress because the Democrats have a very good chance of taking the House.

LEMON: Hey, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Yes?

LEMON: I'm being told by the producers who are monitoring this for us that he just announced that he is setting up, as you said, an exploratory committee. So continue with what you have to say in your response now.

GREENFIELD: OK. Well, then I don't look quite as foolish as if I would have been if it was just an announcement that he was just running for re-election.

But the point is, there's two sides. One, the negative.

He's been one of the most powerful members of the House. As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, you dispense tens of billions of dollars or help dispense that, a lot of which winds up in his home district, which is San Diego and environments east.

But the second thing is, think about this for a minute. The two leading Republican candidates right now, based on the public opinion polls are John McCain, Senator John McCain, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have serious problems with the conservative base of the Republican Party.

Giuliani is pro-gay rights, pro-choice on abortion, pro-gun control. McCain angered them by not being for tax cuts in 2000 and is seen as kind of a maverick.

All right. George Allen, the senator from Virginia who was seen as a leading candidate for conservatives, may not even survive next week's Senate re-election. Mitt Romney, outgoing governor of Massachusetts, very telegenic, a very good campaigner, has problems with the evangelical base, frankly, because the Mormonism -- his Mormon background has problems.

LEMON: Hey, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: So here's Duncan Hunter, and he thinks, why not me?

LEMON: I want you to -- I want you to take a listen to this. This is the actual announcement, then I'll get your response on the other side of him actually talking about the exploratory committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTER: As I finish my final two years as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and serve you, I'm also going to be preparing to run for president of the United States in 2008.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, Jeff. You said he's very powerful, and he sits on the committee, I think the Armed Services Committee. He's very powerful, but seems -- this seems to have come out of nowhere.

Why now?

GREENFIELD: Well, that's a very good question. My feeling is that the Republican Party right now is not in an overly optimistic mood. In fact, there's a great deal of pessimism that they're going to keep the House, maybe even the Senate.

I also think that the minute the midterms are over, the way we do these things in this day and age, the presidential campaign starts. And I think what Congressman Hunter is signaling to conservatives is, before you run off for any of these others, Romney, Allen, Senator Brownback of Kansas, Huckabee of Arkansas, think about me. I've got very strong conservative credentials, and he is a very early ardent foe of illegal immigration.

And this is no comprehensive reform fellow. He was for a fence in his district back in the 1990s. And there are a lot of people who think that the -- that the campaign against illegal immigration, the enforcement-only side, is going to be a very strong theme among conservative Republicans.

John McCain is not on that side. Neither is Rudy Giuliani. So I guess he figures there's a vacuum and I might as well start filling it now.

LEMON: Yes. And you can definitely see -- even a vacuum -- the latest CNN poll shows that the president's approval rating from 58 percent disapprove, we asked the question, CNN, "How is Bush handling his job as president?" Thirty-eight percent say they approve, 58 percent say they disapprove.

And I don't know if that plays into, Jeff, why he possibly -- and we're running out of time, but I don't know if -- quickly, if you can tell me, do you think that played into, you know, maybe why he's running?

GREENFIELD: Well, I mean, I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear that full exchange, but I'm -- what I'm -- just the point I want to underline is, it makes sense for him to do it now before the gun goes off, the starting gun for the '08 campaign, which will literally happen a week from Wednesday. And it makes sense for him to look at the field and say there is nobody who has yet commanded the conservative Republican base that's going to be critical for the nomination.

Look, it's a long shot, but I guess he figures, if I'm not going to be chairman of the Armed Services Committee anymore, I might as well start a process that's going to get me maybe a shot at an even higher job.

LEMON: Well, Jeff, you didn't hear the exchange, but you answered correctly, perfectly.

Thank you very much.

Jeff Greenfield, part of the best political team on television.

PHILLIPS: Well, when it comes to the campaign trail, there's one issue that candidates of both parties can agree on. Sexual predator ads get big play on the campaign trail.

That's ahead from the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Coming up, Colonel Sanders plays chicken with trans fats, and New York may call for a total ban.

The great grease debate next in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, it used to be crispy or original recipe. Now it's trans fats or no trans fats.

Colonel Sanders is making a radical lifestyle change. It's still bad news for chickens, but it's supposed to be good news for your heart.

KFC says it will phase out trans fats by -- all of its 5,500 restaurants by April. Now, health experts say trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and may up the risk of heart disease.

The chain says it will use trans fat-free soybean oil when it fries up original recipe and extra crispy chicken, as well as other menu items. But it says it still hasn't found a good alternative for its biscuits.

PHILLIPS: I'm hungry.

LEMON: I know. Me too. PHILLIPS: Well, first it was tobacco, now trans fats are in the public health crosshairs. So why are they, and why are they on the hit list for the health-minded?

Well, trans fats, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, were invented in the early 1900s. They're cheaper and have a longer shelf life than natural fats like butter or lard. And they were tough -- or they were thought, rather, to be healthier.

But it turns out that trans fats significantly boost artery- clogging bad cholesterol. The Food and Drug Administration says that average Americans eat 4.7 pounds of artificial trans fats a year.

Now New York officials say they'd like to be the first U.S. city to ban trans fats in restaurants.

Allan Chernoff has the latest from there.

So what kind of foods are we talking about, Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, it is not just fried chicken. We're talking about foods such as McDonald's French fries. New Yorkers and all Americans absolutely love these fries, but under a proposal from the New York Board of Health, these French fries would actually be banned in New York City because they are made with trans fat, and it's not only obvious foods like French fries, but also things that some people might even consider to be healthy.

A bran muffin, for example, it's actually baked with partially hydrogenated oil, which does contain trans fat. So this, too, would be banned under the proposal.

This morning, the Board of Health held a public discussion of this proposed rule. And health advocates at the meeting said that trans fats are silent killers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARIUSH MOZSFFASRIAN, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Six percent of heart attacks in New York City and in the U.S. are due to the consumption of artificial trans fats. In New York City, this would correspond to about 1,200 deaths from heart disease each year. And that's the most conservative estimate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: Restaurant chains can see that trans fats can be a problem, and they certainly are trying to eliminate them. As you mentioned, some restaurants saying they are planning to do that. But others say they need more time. And actually, having a ban in New York City would simply be going much too far and could even backfire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEILA COHN WEISS, NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: There simply is not currently enough oil available for some restaurant chains. It will be a matter of years before the crop supply is adequate to produce enough trans fat-free oils for some restaurant chains. Due to a decreased supply of substitute oils, some restaurants will have no choice but to revert to higher saturated fat oils.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: But the restaurants that actually are making the change, they say it's not only good for their customers, it's good business -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. So apart from KFC, are there other national chains that have banned trans fats?

CHERNOFF: Yes. Actually, Wendy's has already done it. McDonald's has said for some time, since 2003, that it wants to eliminate trans fats, but it's been having a lot of trouble not only finding enough alternatives, but finding alternatives that will allow the food to taste as good as it does right now. So they claim it's also a taste issue.

PHILLIPS: Oh yes. I won't argue with that.

Allan Chernoff, thanks.

LEMON: Details on a developing story. Let's go straight to the newsroom.

T.J. Holmes has an update for us -- T.J.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Don, we're hearing from another family member, more family from the fallen firefighters who have died out fighting that Esperanza Fire out in California.

Of course, give you the update on what's going on there.

It does appear at least that the firefighters are finally getting the upper hand on this fire. We're hearing now that they do have it 90 percent contained and that they hope to have it totally contained by this evening.

Again, last -- at the end of last week, it was 25 percent contained. Through the weekend, they gave us an update that it was 60 percent contained. So certainly they are getting the upper hand on this, 90 percent contained, hope to have it fully contained by this evening.

It of course has taken a toll in homes. Some 34 homes have been destroyed, 40,000 acres, as you're seeing there. And also, of course, the four lives of the firefighters who have been killed.

We did hear earlier, a few days ago, from the mother of one of the fallen firefighters. He was Jason McKay, a 27-year-old. And she actually made a plea to the person.

Of course, authorities are saying that they believe this fire was intentionally set. She made a plea for that person to come forward, saying that, "Don't let the remorse eat you alive. Come forward." Made a tearful plea.

Well, we're hearing again today now from another family member. Jess McLean (ph), another 27-year-old who died in that fire, hearing from family members, a statement read a short time ago from another firefighter who was also his brother-in-law.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN CLAYS, FIREFIGHTER'S BROTHER-IN-LAW: From his wife, she would like to thank all the people that have supported her and the family. That means so much, and words can barely touch the surface of her gratitude. And even bigger, thank you so the forest service and her workplace, that has done everything in their power to make life a little easier on her and the family.

She only wishes that more people could have known the fun-loving man that enjoyed everyone and brightened our days with his smile and songs. To all the families affected by this horrible tragedy, we send our love. We are blessed and better people because we have known these men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Again, that was John Clays, the brother-in-law of one of the fallen firefighters.

And still, one more firefighter is really clinging on to life, according to doctors. Twenty-three-year-old Pablo Certa (ph), he has burns over 90 percent of his body. The prognosis is "poor," according to doctors, but still he's hanging on, fighting for his life.

But still, I guess the good news here is that at least firefighters are getting an upper hand right now. Even some firefighters being sent home.

Still plenty out there still fighting the rest of this fire, and also a lot of evacuation orders have been lifted. So glad to see they're finally getting the upper hand. But as you can see there, just an emotional time for -- as we all know, a tight-knit group, those firefighters -- guys.

LEMON: Yes. Firefighters like brothers. You know, they all live together. So we certainly wish them well.

Just as...

PHILLIPS: That's the hardest part, is staying out there and doing what they have to do. Meanwhile, they're losing their own or they have fellow firefighters fighting for their lives. I mean, can you imagine having to -- they've got to compartmentalize and they've got to keep going.

LEMON: Yes, pulling together for that one guy. We certainly hope he's well. And as of like an hour ago it was 85 percent contained. Now it's 90 percent, or 95, like T.J. said. So at least there's some good news, their getting an upper hand on it.

PHILLIPS: We're also talking about the campaign trail, the candidates who aren't facing much of a challenge in the midterms.

LEMON: Oh, but they're still raising money, and spending lots of it. Campaign cash, we're going to talk about it ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A soon-to-be college president fired before even starting the job. A climax of months of protests at the nation's leading school for the deaf.

Our Soledad O'Brien has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Jubilation on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington after the school's board of trustees voted to terminate the appointment of its incoming president. Jane Fernandes was the target of fierce protests from students and faculty and alumni since May when she was tapped for the school's top job. The protests grew this month, prompt hunger strikes, mass arrests, and campus lockdowns.

LATOYA PLUMMER, GALLAUDET JUNIOR: I knew we would win, but the question was when. Today, I'm absolutely elated today.

O'BRIEN: At issue, students say, her inability to lead, an unfair selection process, and long-standing problems at the school that have been ignored. Fernandes says she's the victim of a culture debate over whether she was deaf enough.

She was born deaf, but Fernandes didn't learn sign language until she was an adult. Fernandes, now the school's provost, said in a statement, "I love Gallaudet University and I believe I could have made a significant contribution to its future. I hope that the Gallaudet community can heal the wounds that have been created."

BARBARA WHITE, GALLAUDET FACULTY MEMBER: I want to give a message to the board of trustees that they made a very, very brave decision this afternoon. The community, I think, can now start the healing process.

NIXO LANNING, GALLAUDET SENIOR: We are so excited. I don't think I've ever felt this good before. I feel like there should be fireworks going off right now. We are so thrilled to see this decision.

O'BRIEN: Gallaudet's current president hopes the school can now move forward and students say their work's not done. JEANINE WEISBLAY, GALLAUDET JUNIOR: We are going to keep an evil eye to make sure that the board of trustees, the new presidential search process is one that's fair and equitable.

O'BRIEN: Soledad O'Brien, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, demonstrators at Gallaudet say their problem was with the way the school would be led, not that Jane Fernandes wasn't deaf enough.

Junior Latoya Plummer, one of the leaders of the Gallaudet protest, joins us to discuss the divisions within the school's community.

Latoya, it's great to have you with us. We also want to let our viewers know that your interpreter is right next to you.

LATOYA PLUMMER, GALLAUDET STUDENT (through translator): Yes. Hi. Great to be here.

PHILLIPS: Fantastic. Thank you.

Let's start with just the leadership issues. You have talked about, and other protesters have talked about, Jane Fernandes is not leading the school the way you want it to be led.

What specifically are you talking about?

PLUMMER (through translator): Well, when we speak of leadership issues, specifically, we have concerns about Jane Fernandes and her ability to (INAUDIBLE) concerns of this university. There are concerned groups of students within the university, and within the community around the university, and we don't really believe that she's been able to address the issues to a way that can be resolved.

PHILLIPS: Latoya, give me specific examples.

PLUMMER (through translator): I mean, first of all, we need to have open dialogues. Well, let me give you this example. You know, we have issues of audism on this campus. That's the oppression of deaf people. This typically happens when hearing people come on the scene. Deaf people on our campus experience this kind of oppression daily.

We have a Department of Public Safety on campus, and those are the people who are here to protect the students, and they are sure to be assured to make sure the students are safe and secure. But many of them don't even know sign language. Many of them cannot communicate effectively with the students.

I mean, can you imagine a situation where the students are hurt and they're trying to explain to the security officer called to the scene that their life could be threatened, that there could be an issue of safety here? They cannot communicate with one another. And so we just don't know how they can follow through with the students' safety and security when they don't even know sign language.

Another example is back in 1990 there was a security officer on campus who was responsible for the death of an individual, Carl Dupree, and truly this has been the way that this security office has went about hiring individuals who don't know sign language. And this should have been prevented many years ago. These are just two examples of what I'm speaking of.

PHILLIPS: Well, and you know I want to ask you also about the issue of Fernandes's deafness. And I'll be really frank with this question. Do you feel this protest in any way is linked to the fact that Dr. Fernandes was born deaf, but didn't learn sign language until, I think, she was 23 years old? Do you and other protesters see her as disloyal to the culturally deaf community?

PLUMMER (through translator): No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. It has nothing to do with that. Dr. Jordan became deaf at the age of 21, and we still embraced him within this deaf community. It would not make sense for us to embrace Dr. Jordan, who knows nothing about deaf culture until he was 21 years old, and then look at Dr. Fernandes and tell her that she's not welcome because she's not deaf enough, even though she's been deaf all of her life.

PHILLIPS: So, Latoya, let me ask you then, King Jordan did come forward and give this formal statement. "I want to thank Jane Fernandes for her dedication and courage and her standing up for what's right. I'm personally saddened for Gallaudet and for Dr. Jane Fernandes that she will not have the opportunity to show Gallaudet and the world what a great president she could have been. Her vision and her plans to make that vision come to life would have guided the university we all love into a bright future."

If you support King Jordan, he supports Jane Fernandes, why don't you support Jane Fernandes?

PLUMMER (through translator): No, actually, that's not the case. Dr. Jordan was appointed when Dr. Zinser resigned, and the community embraced him. As it is right now, we no longer recognize Dr. Jordan in the position he holds.

In fact, we do see that Dr. Jordan may be saddened by everything that's happened, but we feel at the same time that Dr. Fernandes must take responsibility for not maintaining leadership abilities throughout this entire process, a process of six months.

There are key issues that need to be dealt with. Our security office has assaulted students, and not once has that issue been addressed by either of these two leaders. How can someone lead an institution when they can't even resolve the crisis we're currently facing and have been facing for six months now?

PHILLIPS: Latoya, through all of this, what do you want the United States, the community there that surrounds you, to know about deaf culture? There are a lot of misconceptions. And for a full disclosure, my mother is a teacher for the deaf and she has been there to Gallaudet many a times to speak and to teach. So I have an understanding of deaf culture, and sometimes it's even hard for me to explain to people within the newsroom, this is what they're trying to get across. Will you please explain to our viewers, and even to those that I work with, why -- what you want people to understand about deafness?

PLUMMER (through translator): Well, you know, we've said this once, and we'll continue to say it repeatedly until we're blue in the face. Deaf culture is, in fact, a true and valid culture that has a language that is sacred to us that develops people's identity, but it's not just deaf people that we welcome into our culture. We welcome anyone who's interested and respectful and values our culture.

This protest was comprised of many different groups of people, not just deaf people who come from deaf families. I personally come from a hearing family. I was born with the ability to hear. I didn't become deaf until a much later age. We have had people with cochlear implants, people who don't even sign very well as part of our protest, even people who were hearing all supporting what we're doing here in this protest.

So I would like to explain to the larger community that this is not just about someone not being deaf enough or being too deaf, but instead we want to welcome all people who are respectful of our culture, deaf culture. We respect and include the need to have effective communication access at this university.

PHILLIPS: My final question, how do you go forward now in finding a president that you and other students and members of the faculty will be happy with to lead that university?

PLUMMER (through translator): Well, as it is right now, we are very glad that we overcame this very first big hurdle and made our first step by having Dr. Fernandes removed from her position. But that alone does not solve this problem, what we face right now.

We continue to have problems at the administrative level. We have problems with people that may need to really -- we may need to understand better how they are addressing issues related on their job and how we can work through the issues that have been brought to the light as a result of this protest.

We have a long haul ahead of us. With this process, we want to ensure that the search process is inclusive. We want to make sure that it's transparent and just in every way. We want to ensure that every one of those qualified applicants who are out there have an opportunity to really speak publicly to our community as to why they would be the best person to be the next president of this university.

PHILLIPS: Latoya Plummer, thank you so much for your time. And I want to also let you know through your interpreter that we had a little bit of audio problems because of the traffic. At this point, I wish that every one of our viewers understood sign language. It would have been perfect within this interview. Latoya, thank you.

PLUMMER (through translator): That's true, and thank you for having me. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

And tomorrow in the CNN NEWSROOM, we're going to talk with former Miss America, Heather Whitestone-McCallum, about the protest and debates at Gallaudet University. She became deaf when she was a year- and-a-half old and she has cochlear implants to improve her hearing. People in the deaf culture have criticized that. Heather Whitestone- McCallum in the NEWSROOM, tomorrow at 2:00 Eastern.

LEMON: And let's talk money now. With the housing market struggling, many homeowners are worrying about the value of their homes. They're also worrying about how they're going to pay for their homes. Susan Lisovicz joins us from the New York Stock Exchange with results of a new study.

Susan, what does it say?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR: Don, we're in a tough bind, right? Because the price of the homes, not really increasing, slowing down, but what we're paying for our mortgages is going up.

During the housing boom of the last few years when interest rates were at historic lows, many people signed up for adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs which are not locked in. But now mortgage rates, of course, are rising. And according to Wells Fargo, nearly 80 percent of homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages are concerned about rate increases, but more than half of them believe they'll be able to refi, refinance their loans.

Mortgage rates have risen in the past year or so. They're still relatively low historically speaking. The survey also found that most homeowners expect their homes to rise in value, even though they know the housing market is slowing down. And once again, the rate of increase is certainly not like anything we saw over the last five years or so, right, Don?

LEMON: Oh, yes. And, you know, I did that five-year ARM thing. And it almost caught up with me. I sold just in time.

LISOVICZ: Oh! Timing is everything.

LEMON: You're -- my thoughts exactly. You said it. But I won't say it on TV. So with people worried about rising mortgage costs, are they spending less on other things maybe?

LISOVICZ: Well, Don, a new report out this morning could bolster that argument. Consumers earned more money than expected last month, but they certainly didn't spend it. Personal spending rose just one- tenth of a percent in September. One reason why, though, sharply lower oil prices which stretched our dollars.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Well, it takes major amounts of cash to run for Congress. That's no big shocker. But, what may surprise you -- candidates still scrambling for cash even though they're running virtually unopposed. Here's CNN investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Days before the election, and Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price is hitting the campaign trail. Sort of.

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: Congratulations, keep up the great work.

GRIFFIN: This Saturday morning, he's shaking hands and speaking to constituents, most of whom aren't even old enough to vote.

PRICE: It's always wonderful to be with a group of scouts.

GRIFFIN: Look around his wealthy district in Atlanta's northern suburbs, and except for the occasional yard sign, it's hard to find evidence there's a congressional race under way.

REP. SHELLEY BERKELEY (D), NEVADA: I'm Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley.

GRIFFIN: There are not many signs out West either, except at Democratic headquarters where Shelley Berkeley is running for her fifth term representing most of Las Vegas. She says yard signs are environmentally unfriendly, but make no mistake she says, her campaign is in full swing.

BERKELEY: I'm campaigning like crazy.

GRIFFIN: Two virtually unopposed candidates -- one Republican, one Democrat -- who have each raised almost $2 million this election. Why do they really need the money -- two big reasons. Money helps buy votes of course, but it also helps buy access and some say influence in Congress. And money, according to campaign finance expert Larry Noble, is what helps keep an incumbent in Congress.

LARRY NOBLE, CAMPAIGN FINANCE EXPERT: What you want to do, if you're an incumbent, is you want to raise a lot of money early, millions of dollars if you can and that will scare off opponents.

GRIFFIN: Our two candidates do spend money, a lot of it. They spend money to raise money. Wining and dining contributors, people who want to get close to their elected officials, get their messages heard, and apparently get their bellies full.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And as part of our "Keeping Them Honest" series, we're going to show you the receipts tonight -- where they ate, how much they spent. It's going to be fun.

PHILLIPS: Did you go there and dine?

GRIFFIN: I've been to a few of the places.

PHILLIPS: I bet you have. Were they apologetic about the spending? were they embarrassed?

GRIFFIN: No, not really. I mean, we showed them the money. You know what they told us? I went in there and I said what do you need the money for -- you're not running. They said, well we have to spend this money to raise money. Which brought me right back to my first question. Why do you need to raise the money? It's just a full circle. That's what they operate on.

PHILLIPS: So you mentioned that the money helps buy influence. So is this just a matter of schmoozing the right people -- just to schmooze?

GRIFFIN: Well, it's two parts of this. You schmooze the right people to get the right money. Then you take that money, and let's say you give some money to a Republican candidate here in Georgia. He'll send that to everywhere -- Washington State, other candidates, all across the country. Democrats do it, too. And they buy influence with those other Congresspeople that they've helped get elected. And, when they all go back to Capitol Hill, they just figure out who gave what money to whom and make sure their message gets heard.

PHILLIPS: So, were they all pretty much living large, not really struggling?

GRIFFIN: Well, I mean, I didn't go through the list of every one of them, but you know, a lot of these guys are millionaires to begin with, so they're not struggling. But, they do use a lot of that money as entertaining, wining and dining, certainly some travel. If you can link it up to anything that has to do with the campaign, your campaign pays for it.

PHILLIPS: I just think of how we have to fill out expense reports, who we were with, at what time, what rank, exact detail of conversation, interesting stuff. Thanks, Drew.

GRIFFIN: You bet.

PHILLIPS: Well, eight days now until Election Day. Do you really know where your campaign contributions go? Anderson Cooper is back, keeping them honest and following the money trail. That's tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

LEMON: Israel's bunker mentality. Why officials there are preparing for possible attacks by and on their enemies. There's more ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Israel's cabinet has approved a hard-core right-winger for a new post. Avigdor Lieberman will be deputy prime minister charged with handling strategic threats -- namely the nuclear threat that Israel believes is posed by Iran. Israel has long been preparing for its defenses and maybe even an offense against Tehran. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a valley below Jerusalem, trucks come and trucks go. As work proceeds on a massive bunker, an underground government command center designed to shelter Israel's leaders in the event of a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack. Two years ago, Israeli channel 10 reported from inside the structure, a labyrinth of tunnels crisscrossing the bows of the mountain. If Israel is building this doomsday fortification should come as no surprise, especially over Iran's nuclear program and the fiery anti-Israeli rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time that a leader of a very big and important nation, openly in public, declares that the aim of his nation is to wipe off the map the existence of the state of Israel.

WEDEMAN: Israel, which is widely believed to possess its own nuclear arsenal, watched the relatively muted international response to North Korea's recent nuclear test, which has sparked worry here that the international community, specifically the United States, may not have the diplomatic stomach to confront Iran, leaving Israel to go it alone, something it's done before. Twenty-five years ago, Israeli warplanes destroyed Iraq's nuclear program in one fell swoop.

But unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Iran poses a far more serious challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not a single site. There are multiple sites that are well protected. Iran can rebuild. Iran has the expertise. Iran has the raw materials. And Iran has a retaliatory capacity. It has terrorist tentacles with Hamas, with Hezbollah, other means of hitting back.

So there's no good military option for Israel. Israel does not want to militarily intervene. But increasingly it seems like there is a stark choice, military intervention or a nuclear Iran.

WEDEMAN: A nuclear Iran is the top concern of this man, hardliner Avigdor Lieberman, the latest addition to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet. Lieberman's task in government will be to focus on strategic threats facing Israel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): And, of course, one of the main concerns here is that -- in the past, Israel's taken a passive position regarding the threats from abroad. But, of course, now it's beginning to worry that it's going to have to put aside this passive stance and take an active stance when it comes to Iran -- Don.

LEMON: Ben, question, both Iran and Iraq are very hardline lately with their rhetoric. Any chance of military action?

WEDEMAN: It's still fairly early to talk about military action as far as Israel and Iran go. What Israel would like to do is see the United States and the international community take the lead on this, because Israeli officials will tell you, this is the world's problem, not just Israel's. But following this fairly muted reaction by the world community, including the United States, to the North Korean nuclear test, they are worried that the world and the United States will take an equally muted position if Iran moves forward and begins the development of nuclear weapons -- Don.

WEDEMAN: All right. Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, my conversation with party goers and leaders -- excuse me -- from all over the world celebrating Jesse Jackson's 65th birthday.

The news just keeps coming right here on the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

LEMON: And so does a journey of 26.2 miles. More than 32,000 runners laced up for the annual Marine Marathon. It was in Arlington, Virginia and happened on Sunday. Look at all those runners. My goodness.

Ruben Garcia (ph) won the men's division and Laura Thompson (ph) won the women's division. But our hats off to two other participants. They ran and maybe walked just a little to honor their husbands, who died last January in a roadside bombing in Taji, Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was amazing to be kind of one with Brian out there on the road and knowing that he was just absolutely so proud of me. It was really, actually very emotional.

AYMBER MCELROY, MILITARY WIDOW: The main reason why I decided to participate was because I wanted to show my own two kids that you can rise above the challenge and meet your expectations. I also wanted to show them that we would survive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Aymber and Christina (ph), good for you. Christina Norton and Aymber McElroy were just two of many military widows who did the marathon for team TAPS. TAPS stands for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

PHILLIPS: Coming up in the next hour of NEWSROOM, a rare look at the lives of soldiers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back home, they talk about the loss is too great. Well, to me, that's right, the loss is too great. The loss is too great to quit now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Their mission, their take. Troops in Afghanistan open up to CNN. That's coming up from the NEWSROOM.

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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