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Kentucky Train Wreck Releases Chemicals; Bombs Target Baghdad University; Charges Expected This Week in Missouri Abductions; Jury Selection Begins in Scooter Libby Trial; Spanish Paper Reports Castro in Failing Health

Aired January 16, 2007 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.

PHILLIPS: Caught in an icy grip. More than 40 deaths blamed on a cold wave stretched across the country. California and Texas shimmering. Our severe weather center is tracking the latest.

LEMON: In Missouri, disturbing questions about the man suspected of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Who is Michael Devlin? How did he escape arrest for so long?

PHILLIPS: Merely ailing or really failing? Conflicting reports on Fidel Castro's condition. A live report from Havana.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Our two top stories this hour in the NEWSROOM, a bloody day on the campus of a Baghdad university. And a layer of ice and snow settling over much of this country. Live reports on both of those stories.

Let's begin with the weather and a major highway now closed for miles in Texas. Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider is in our weather center tracking it all for us -- Bonnie.


LEMON: Look out. Thank you very much, Bonnie Schneider.

PHILLIPS: Straight to the NEWSROOM. T.J. Holmes has been following all the details on a developing story out of Kentucky for us.

What more do you know, T.J.?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: These pictures have been nuts today. This crazy picture, this huge fire we've been watching for several hours. It was -- this is just south of Louisville in Brooks, Kentucky, where there was a train wreck.

And this was the scene for several hours. The smoke going up into the air. This huge fire. We finally got more information about exactly what was burning.

This was a train, a CSX train operated by CSX that was traveling to Louisville from Birmingham, Alabama. Eighty cars were headed to the area, to Louisville. Three cars were carrying at least some kind of -- some kind of gas, according to officials.

We do know that the liquid gas, actually, the chemical that was being carried, cyclohexane, which was burning, going up to the air. It's flammable, explosive, and being called an inhalation hazard. People within a mile radius of this accident were being told to evacuate, to get out of there and not inhale this stuff.

We're getting reports that some people, in fact, did have to be taken to hospital with some kind of -- some kind of issues, being treated for the effects of the chemicals.

Don't know what caused this accident. No word on any serious injuries as a direct result of the accident, other than some of those inhalation hazard issues and people being treated for inhaling the -- inhaling some of these fumes.

But we heard a short time ago from the governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher. We'll listen to him, from a press conference just a short time ago.


GOV. ERNIE FLETCHER, KENTUCKY: We have, obviously, a very extensive fire. We've evacuated, to the best of our knowledge, the area within one mile. And we had a few individuals that were reluctant to leave. We have approximately eight people, I think, six originally, and two others were heading for medical evaluations, the hospital. We don't know the conditions of those individuals.

Near as we can understand, the chemicals that are there -- and we'll have briefing, a little more details with several folks giving a presentation here. We've got several chemicals there. To our knowledge this could be an irritant.


T. HOLMES: So, again, this was the scene, just an unbelievable blaze going, just an unbelievable -- all that black smoke being sent into the air.

Fire crews fought several hours, actually, trying to get this fire under control, trying to get it out. The thing just seemed to keep spreading and to actually keep getting bigger, despite their efforts. Fire officials made the decision to go ahead and pull their crews back and let that fire burn itself out, and that's what has been happening now for the past couple of hours or so.

But still the hazard and the threat right now is just people in the area being told to stay away, to evacuate. You heard the governor say some people were reluctant to do so. So hopefully, certainly, everybody did -- did get out and heed those warnings. But right now, some people certainly feeling the effects of some of those chemicals, some of that stuff in the air. Right now, those injuries that we know about, nothing's being called life threatening.

But again, still a situation we're keeping an eye on, and certainly, trying to find out the answer, just why, and why this happened, and exactly what happened. So still certainly more details to come, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: T.J. Holmes, thanks.

Still (ph) bombs, deadly timing. Coordinated attack in Baghdad today. The target: college students and teachers. The goal: maximum casualties. It's part of a wave of new attacks in the Iraqi capital.

Our Michael Holmes is there.


Yes, two bombs outside the Mustansiriyah University outside of eastern Baghdad. A bizarre event where they had a car bomb out the front of the university and a suicide bomber on foot at the rear.

The car bomb went off. Obviously, there was carnage on the scene. It was a massive bomb, and as many people fled through the back gate, the suicide bomber then detonated his explosives. At the end of the day, 65 people at least have been killed and wounded, 138. That's a number that could go up as the night progresses, as many of those people, of course, with devastating injuries.

As you said, Kyra, it has been a day of bombs. There were two other incidents where there were double bombings in the same location. One of those inside Sadr City, the home of Muqtada al-Sadr, his base for the Mehdi Army.

There was also a rather bizarre case where a motorcycle drove into a busy marketplace in eastern Baghdad, an area which is under control of the Mehdi militia, and gunmen opened fire. They killed 12 people, wounded 17, completely random shootings.

At the end of the day, after you include 25 more of those bodies found bound and tortured in the streets of Baghdad, more than 125 people killed this day, more than twice that number wounded -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Michael, when you look at something like this, obviously we see this type of violence every single day. Now we're hearing about them targeting innocent students and teachers, which brings me to the question, what kind of security surrounds the various universities and schools there in Iraq? We really haven't talked about that.

M. HOLMES: Yes, not all that much. I mean, everywhere around Baghdad can be considered to have a high security presence with a lot of police patrols, checkpoints, national police patrols and often army patrols, as well, but literally, they can't be everywhere at once. There's nothing substantial out the front of these universities in terms of securities, things like the blast walls that we've become familiar with around the city. And so really what you would call a soft target.

It's interesting that this particular university, Mustansiriyah University, it's an ancient university. It was founded in 1211, so it's been around for a while.

But the faculty at this university have been targeted many times by insurgents, trying to intimidate the intellectual class, if you like, of Baghdad, which led, of course, to the brain drain that we've seen over the past couple of years where -- where university professors, doctors, lawyers, and others have simply fled the country and have left the health system and the education system in a lot of trouble.

So this was the same university that's been targeted many times in that way but not in this sort of level of violence, hitting its students and faculty members. Many of the students, by the way, Kyra, female.

Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Michael Holmes, live from Baghdad. Thanks, Michael.

LEMON: Left alone, free to come and go. But was Shawn Hornbeck mentally shackled by his alleged kidnapper, Michael Devlin? We're learning more about violent threats Devlin allegedly made to keep Shawn where he wanted him.

CNN's Jonathan Freed has the very latest for us now from Kirkwood, Missouri -- Jonathan.


Kirkwood here is the epicenter, editorially speaking, of this story. This is where Shawn Hornbeck has been allegedly kept for more than four years. This is where they found Ben Ownby with Shawn Hornbeck in Michael Devlin's apartment.

And what we have found out today, Don, is that at 8:30 in the morning on Thursday there was going to be the arraignment in Franklin County where Devlin has been held since his arrest on Friday.

We're told that that is going to be done by video. That is not an uncommon occurrence. And the sheriff down there was saying that that is for safety and security reasons. They're trying to keep it neat. He won't actually be paraded out and brought into the courtroom.

The sheriff, though, is also asking for the public's help, still, saying that, even though it would seem as though the basic loose ends of this have been tied up, there's still more that the public can do.

Let's listen to Gary Toelke now, down in Franklin County. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF GARY TOELKE, FRANKLIN COUNTY, MISSOURI: We're still interested in anybody that may have seen this vehicle in the subdivision, around the area. We did a call -- I think it was over the weekend, of somebody, that now that they've seen the news broadcast, think they may have seen something similar. So even though the case -- there's been an arrest, we're still interested in information that may support what we found.


FREED: OK, so here is a possible time line, in terms of things that we should be looking for that could be happening over the next couple of days.

We now know that there is going to be the arraignment in Franklin County. Franklin County is where Ben Ownby disappeared. There is also Washington County, where Shawn Hornbeck disappeared. So we could be looking for action on a level of charges, prosecution, word from that county, as well.

And there is still the possibility out there -- this was floated on Saturday by Roland Corvington, the agent in charge here of the FBI that there could be charges on the federal level, as well.

It was a holiday weekend, though. A lot of these people went underground. They were busy putting the case together, Don. So over the next couple of days, we are hoping to get a better idea of when things might move on other levels.

But the sense that we are getting, the one thing that is consistent from law enforcement across the board, is that there is more to come -- Don.

LEMON: And so far, Jonathan, nothing from Michael Devlin about a possible motive or a reason why on all of this?

FREED: No. His lawyers appeared on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night. That was the first time that anybody had really heard from them. And they were even admitting that they are just getting ramped up on the case themselves.

They were asked a number of things. And they just sort of shrugged and said, "Look, you know, we're still trying to debrief our client." They have some general concerns about his health, the type of thing that you would normally hear from counsel after they're retained.

So we are perhaps going to hear a little bit more from them as this begins to play out, as well.

LEMON: More to come. Jonathan Freed, Kirkwood, Missouri, thank you so much for that.

And, of course, rapid response is the key to finding abducted children before it's too late. CNN tonight at 10 Eastern, Anderson Cooper is live from Missouri with a closer look at the FBI's newest tool in the battle to find missing children.

PHILLIPS: Everybody into the jury pool. The pretrial of ex- White House staffer Scooter Libby gets underway. We're going to remind you why so many people are watching this, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And is Barack Obama ready to run for president? Well, you may not have to wait long for an answer. New information on this story is ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: Nearly ailing or truly failing? Depends on whom you ask. Stick around as the NEWSROOM checks up on Cuban leader Fidel Castro.


PHILLIPS: A case of intrigue and political scandal. Scooter Libby may be the one on trial, but it's his former boss and the Bush administration that prospective jurors are being asked about. Before it's all over, we could see the vice president on the witness stand.

CNN's Brian Todd is at the federal courthouse in Washington -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, this is the political theater that this town thrives on. A former top member of the Bush administration on trial for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to investigators. That is Lewis Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Cheney.

He arrived at court a short time ago. He's now sitting through an endless series of questions to jurors about this case. And they will be selecting jurors over the next couple of days.

As you mentioned, the testimony of Vice President Cheney, if it happens, will be a highlight. It's not positive at this -- at this moment that Cheney will be called. He's likely to be called as a defense witness.

We also just found out that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be one of the witnesses called, as well. So it's a great deal of political theater here.

Libby faces these charges in connection with his knowledge of the status of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and about the contacts that Libby had with reporters about Plame's identity, when he spoke to them, what he said to them. He's accused of lying to investigators about those statements.

How politically charged is this case? Well, here is an example of a questionnaire -- of a question on the questionnaire that we received this morning. Quote, "Do any of you have feelings or opinions about the Bush administration or any of its policies or actions, whether positive or negative, that might affect your ability to give a former member of the Bush administration a fair trial?"

That's just one of 38 questions these jurors are being asked. They've been filling out questionnaires this morning. A lot of those questions also have to do with Vice President Cheney, whether they feel that he could be believable if he testifies, things like that.

It's going to be very interesting when Mr. Cheney is called to testify, if he is. That will probably be the highlight of the case.

PHILLIPS: Well, Brian, how might that testimony from Dick Cheney end up helping the case for Scooter Libby?

TODD: Well, what Cheney will be asked to do -- and, again, to be clear, he will be a defense witness. He'll be asked to bolster Mr. Libby's claim that any misstatements that Mr. Libby might have given to investigators regarding his contacts with reporters about Valerie Plame were simple misstatements, that he didn't intend to mislead anybody, that e didn't intend to lie or anything like that. But that he was simply distracted by the Iraq war and other matters of national security and couldn't quite remember his actions or his statements during those critical times.

A lot will be -- a lot of this trial will deal with Mr. Libby's memory, and there are a lot of questions on the juror questionnaire about whether they believe someone's memory could -- actually honestly fail them or whether they believe that a person's mind should be, as one of the questions read, "like a tape recorder."

So a lot of this will have to do with Mr. Libby's memory and his credibility and Mr. Cheney's credibility.

PHILLIPS: From the federal courthouse there in Washington, Brian Todd, thanks.

LEMON: A very grave prognosis. A Spanish newspaper's bottom line on Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who the newspaper says has had three failed operations for an intestinal problem. The paper cites sources from a Madrid hospital, a hospital that employs a hospital who examined Castro last month. Castro's government denies he's at death's door.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has more on that.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are getting some new details about the health of Fidel Castro just over the past few hours. First of all, the Spanish surgeon who actually examined him last month standing by his statement that Fidel Castro is recovering fantastically well, is how he put it.

But as we mentioned, getting some new details about specifically what has been happening to Fidel Castro since July of 2006. That is when he first turned over power. That is when he had his first operation. We now know at the heart of all this, it sounds like it was diverticulitis. Those are essentially infections of the large intestine. Sometimes those infections can actually perforate through the intestinal wall, which is what it sounds like happened, causing peritonitis. That is an infection of the abdominal cavity.

I want to show you quickly on this model here what I'm talking about, what surgeons had to do. This is the large intestine here in blue. They actually had to remove part of his large intestine and then connect part of his large intestine above the removal to the part of the intestine below the removal, actually connecting those together.

What happened, though, and led to a second operation, sounds like, is that that connection fell apart, and that led to a second operation and even more peritonitis. They actually had to clean out his abdomen. They actually had to try to remove as much of that infection, and reconnect parts of an intestine.

Sounds like it didn't work. So in fact, they had to have a third operation to, again, sort of clear out as much of his abdomen as possible and try and retain that connection.

What we know now, what is happening right now, is that it appears that the connection is still not working. He is still continuing to have an infection in his abdominal cavity. He's having, quote, "half a liter" of fluids actually leaking into his abdominal cavity per day. That leads to a severe loss of nutrients, loss of muscle mass, and he needs to be fed intravenously.

He's 80 years old. He's very sick. This does not sound like it was cancer, but it does sound like it's a serious medical problem, nonetheless. One of the solutions may have been to actually take a bag and connect part of his intestines to that bag and divert all of his intestinal contents outside his abdominal cavity. It does not sound like that was done.

We will keep you posted on his progress.

Back to you.


PHILLIPS: And straight ahead, ice, snow and freezing temperatures. Severe weather across the country. Bonnie Schneider in the weather center tracking your flight delays.

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


PHILLIPS: Well, drivers got a bit of relief at the gas pump over the holiday weekend, and experts say there could be more breaks to come. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange. Got a little bit of a break yesterday. She's back with us there.

Hey, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was actually working all day, Kyra. You didn't see me as much, but I assure you, I clocked in for a full day of work.

And I didn't enjoy the gasoline prices, which are getting lower all the time, dipping over the three-day weekend. According to AAA, the average price for self-serve regular slipped 4 cents from Friday to Monday to $2.23 per gallon. That's the biggest three-day drop since the end of September.

And analysts say more relief could be on the way. Some are expecting prices to fall by a dime or more over the next few weeks. In some areas, of course, you might have snow tires on the car, but still lower, right, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: That is true. And I want to get back to the last comment. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had such a long day. Don just said you don't ever tell Susan she's not clocking in...

LEMON: Yes, "I worked all day."

PHILLIPS: "I worked 18 hours. I just want to make that clear."

LISOVICZ: I was defensive on that one, wow.

PHILLIPS: Love you, girlfriend.

LEMON: Up hill, in the snow.

PHILLIPS: The hardest worker I know in business.

All right. Now why haven't gas prices fallen even more, considering the big drop in oil prices that you're always telling me about?

LISOVICZ: It is a very good question. And oil prices are down nearly 15 percent just this year, while gas prices are only down about 4 percent. Well, it comes to this.

When oil prices fall, gas station owners are more likely to take their time and wait for competitors to cut prices first. But when oil rises, station owners typically react by hiking prices immediately, even before they replace their inventory.

Gas stations typically make very little money off the gasoline they sell back. In fact, some analysts say many stations actually lost money at the end of last year so this is their chance to make up for some of that, and making up for it they are -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. What are oil prices doing today?


LISOVICZ: Coming up, a new report slams BP over a finery explosion that killed 15 workers. I'll have details in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

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


PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. The Arctic blast heads east, leaving misery and death in its wake.


PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to the NEWSROOM now. T.J. Holmes working more details on that developing story we've been following out of Kentucky -- T.J.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Kyra, we know now that some people have been taken to the hospital after that train derailment, train fire, train wreck. This was a mess in Kentucky today. These are the pictures here from a little earlier. This is a train wreck in Brooks, Kentucky. Happened right around 9:00 Eastern Time today. And this thing burned, and burned and burned with huge flames and a lot of smoke heading up into the air for hours today, despite all the efforts of firefighters. Don't know how this accident happened exactly. But we found out later exactly what was on board that was burning like this. A chemical was onboard called cyclohexane. It was a chemical there that's flammable, and it did pose -- or does pose an inhalation hazard.

So for a mile radius, people were told to evacuate, to get out and not breathe this stuff in. But again, we do know now that several people were taken to the hospital, feeling the effects of inhaling some of the smoke and some of that chemical that got into the air. However, none of those injuries being described as life-threatening. The fire crews were really -- we watched them attack this thing for hours earlier today right after this happened, really not making ground. This thing continue to even grow and get bigger.

That's a better vantage point of it there, a wider shot of what was happening. But it caused all kinds of problems, traffic issues as well. Highway had to be shutdown for a little bit. You've seen some of those crews we're talking about. They ended up pulling out, the fire crews, saying we're just going to let this thing burn itself out, and it got away from it.

Still waiting for details on exactly how this accident happened, so we're still trying to get more information -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK, T.J., thanks.

The U.S. and the U.N., a love/hate relationship that's been light on the love for years now. But will the new U.N. secretary-general enjoy a honeymoon with the Bush administration? President Bush is sitting down this hour with Ban-Ki Moon. And our Suzanne Malveaux just left a White House briefing -- Suzanne. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, of course, the White House trying to garner more support for the new Iraq plan. President Bush hosting today Ban-Ki Moon.

As you mentioned, of course, really a mixed relationship with the United Nations. Under Kofi Annan, of course, U.N. Security Council did not authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq or the Iraq War. President Bush at that time was questioning the very relevancy of this international organization. Well, Ban-Ki Moon is a different kind of leader. He is soft-spoken, mild-mannered, but in his first press conference, he did make a couple of things known that there are differences with the United States. He took issue, expressed concerns with the U.S. airstrikes against southern Somalia recently on an Al Qaeda target. He said, while he understood the necessity of the attack, he was concerned that perhaps there would be civilian casualties, or even escalate the hostilities in that area.

He also, as well, joined in the chorus of people calling for the United States to close Guantanamo Bay, that prison. President Bush has expressed that he would like to do the same, but Mr. Ban saying that it should happen relatively fast, quickly.

You did say that this relationship has changed, however. We heard from Secretary Tony Snow, the press secretary, saying that, look, there are some ways that this organization, this international body, has helped the United States.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: It's a net positive. They're still -- it's very important -- think of some of the things going through the U.N. Security Council in the last year -- action on North Korea and also a venue for sort of working through the six-party talks. You've had United Nations Security Council resolutions on Lebanon and also on Iran.


MALVEAUX: So, Kyra, obviously, this is an administration that needs the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council, so somewhat of a different tone here, and even a different relationship. We know that the United Nations really not sending in troops. They basically pulled out of Baghdad since 2003, that attack against their headquarters. They are not really sending any forces. But they have been constructive in helping with the constitution of the Iraqi people, as well as some of those elections -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, Suzanne, the United Nations also came out today and said there's more than 34,000 civilians that died last year from the violence in Iraq. Is the White House saying anything about that number?

MALVEAUX: They're really downplaying this. It's not surprising. Tony Snow said that they're not going to quibble with that number. They don't understand how they came up with the number itself. They say the methodology. But clearly the White House uses a number that they rely on from Iraqi officials, from hospital numbers, morgue numbers, that type of thing, significantly lower than this number. It is not surprising that they're downplaying that difference -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Suzanne Malveaux, live from the White House. Thanks, Suzanne.

LEMON: More now on -- OK. We're going to go to this. Filing the papers and ending the suspense. First-time Democratic senator Barack Obama takes a first step toward a presidential bid in 2008.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several week, I'm going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these discussions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.


LEMON: And again, Obama's final decision, he says, is expected on February 10th. And, Kyra, last night, the call came in from sources saying they were filing -- they were going to file with the FEC today, which is the Federal Elections Commission, filing papers to form an exploratory committee. And the reason they do that is because they can legally begin to raise money, and then also put a campaign infrastructure together. So, they want to follow the rules here when it comes to that.

PHILLIPS: Well, with regard to his inner circle, his closest advisers, let's say he goes forward and this is going to be the real deal. Who do you think his main advisers would be?

LEMON: Well, he's one of those guys, he likes to keep it close to home. He's a real home centric guy and he knows his support is in Chicago. And those people have been people like David Axelrod. People say, well, who's going to be his James Carville, if it's that type of person. That will be political strategist David Axelrod, who is really his right-hand guy.

He also worked on the Edwards campaign. He worked with Senator Obama in getting him elected. He worked with Mayor Daley in Chicago. And I spoke with him this morning and I said, are you going to be his James Carville and he said, you know, a lot of people want to put this in a rubric, but the senator doesn't need any help. He doesn't need really need a guru. But he is definitely someone ...

PHILLIPS: Well, everybody needs a guru.

LEMON: Everybody needs a guru, right. Everyone needs a good producer, all the producers in the control room are saying that. But what he said is that, I know everybody wants to fit this into a rubric, but its presumptuous to suggest that he needs that. I'm his media consultant, I'm his strategist, and I am also his friend. And he is -- he feels very happy and encouraged by what he sees, so obviously he is going to make a go for it.

PHILLIPS: Well he's had some long-time mentors in Chicago as well right. Could he ...

LEMON: Long-time mentors. And like I said, he likes to keep it close to home. The president of the Illinois senate, Emil Jones, has been a long-time mentor for Barack Obama. Giving him advice when he was running for state Senate. Giving him advice when he ran for the Congress now.

And I spoke with him this morning. He said, you know, the senator called me just a couple minutes ago, Don, you got me at the right time because he said, I'm going to run. Here's what I'm going to do. And I'm going to need you to help me to put together a coalition and a support team in Illinois. Because he knows this is one of the most powerful men in Illinois. He is the president of the Illinois senate.

PHILLIPS: We also know his wife Michelle is a huge part of his inner circle and also a mentor in many ways. But, when it comes down to a woman that he's talked a lot about, what's the deal? Is he going to announce on Oprah's show?

LEMON: No ...

PHILLIPS: That's what everybody wants to know.

LEMON: I did not speak with the senator today, but I did speak with David Axelrod, again, (INAUDIBLE) and he said you know what, we made no promises to Oprah. Oprah is a nice lady and he kind of laughed -- no plans to announce on Oprah. But you know, he says, I don't think it's going to be part of a television show, but you can't count out the Oprah factor. That's not 100 percent.

But yes, his wife Michelle who I saw a couple months back, and I asked her about being part of his inner circle and what she thought about her husband running and about politics.

Let's take a listen to that.


MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: A lot of it is just looking and listening and watching and making sure we're thinking and doing the right thing. Yes, we will be consulting with him and all the leaders in the community.

LEMON (on camera): Are you ready to be first lady?

M. OBAMA: No comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Now she was talking about consulting with -- that was the Reverend Jesse Jackson's birthday party, which was in Chicago. She was talking about consulting with leaders in the community, including Jesse Jackson.

And then of course everyone, the question was, when is he going to run. Well, now, the exploratory committee and the reason they say they are doing this in an exploratory committee and not just saying, I'm going to run, is because, they said, it's no sign of apprehension, they just want to follow the law and keep everything on the up and up. Plus they need the time to get staff together ...

PHILLIPS: A family full of lawyers, so it makes sense.

LEMON: Yes. Get staff together and a lot of money together, and to get people in place and they fell that three weeks will be enough time for them to do this or at least they hoping.

PHILLIPS: All right, good stuff.

LEMON: All right.

PHILLIPS: All right. Also, straight ahead, John McCain exploring another run for president. Now one well-known conservative says there's no way he can support McCain. Find out who and why, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And all the world's a stage unless it's awards season. Then all the world's a red carpet, right, Sibila Vargas?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That sure is. And it was a virtual love fest at Hollywood's biggest party, the Golden Globes. I'll give you the sights and sounds of this year's Golden Globes when CNN's NEWSROOM continues.


PHILLIPS: Another dream come true for "Dreamgirls." And a lot more to talk about. Well, a lot more to babble about. Two of the big winners at last night's Golden Globes giveaway. CNN entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas live in Los Angeles with more. Hey Sibila.

VARGAS: Hey there Kyra, the love was definitely spread last night at Hollywood's biggest party. The stars came out in full force and some of the most talked about contenders did not disappoint.


VARGAS (voice-over): At the Golden Globes, a film that spanned the globe earned one of the night's most coveted honors. Babel, which was shot in four countries and in five languages, won best picture drama, an award presented by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Babel's Mexican director, Alejando Gonzalez Inarritu had a quip for Schwarzenegger as he accepted the award.

ALEJANDO GONZALEZ INARRITU, DIRECTOR, "BABEL": I swear I have my papers in order, governor. I swear.

VARGAS: The night's other top honor, best picture, musical or comedy, went as expected to "Dreamgirls." The film won two other awards, supporting actor for Eddie Murphy and supporting actress for newcomer Jennifer Hudson.

JENNIFER HUDSON, ACTRESS: You do not know how much this does for my confidence.


FORREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: Why didn't you say so?


VARGAS: It was also a night when royalty was crowned. For his work in "The Last King of Scotland," Forrest Whitaker won best actor drama, and Helen Mirren won best actress drama for playing Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."

Earlier in the evening Mirren won in the TV movie category for playing her royal highness in "Elizabeth I."

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: Elizabeth I took everything that I had, and it was a very, very challenging role.

VARGAS: Comedy acting honors went to Meryl Streep for "The Devil Wears Prada," and to "Borat's" Sasha Baron Cohen.

(on camera): The best foreign language film category normally doesn't generate intense interests, but this year was a little different, with Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood in the running.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Letters From Iwo Jima."

VARGAS (voice-over): It was Eastwood who won out for his Japanese-language drama "Letters From Iwo Jima."

In the TV categories, it was a beautiful night for "Ugly Betty." the freshman series won best comedy, and star America Ferrera won best actress in a TV comedy.

AMERICA FERRERA, GOLDEN GLOBE WINNER: To be part of something that is not only entertaining, but meaningful is what's most important.

VARGAS: Best TV drama went to the medical show "Grey's Anatomy."


VARGAS: And even though his film did not get the top prize, "The Departed's" director Martin Scorsese was still a winner. He took home the coveted director award. Now onto the next big awards show, the mack daddy of them all, the Academy Awards. The nominations will go out next Tuesday. And of course, I'll be there to give you the early scoop, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about the fashion. You always do. Who is the best and worst dressed? We of course know you were the best dressed.

VARGAS: Oh, you're so sweet.

PHILLIPS: Should we dish it out?

VARGAS: Had help with the hair and the makeup, a little bit of jewelry...


PHILLIPS: You don't need a lot of help, my dear.

VARGAS: Oh, you're so sweet. You know, and I tried -- just for the record, I tried to get to Patrick Dempsey but he must have walked really fast down that red carpet. Anyway, next time.

PHILLIPS: Chasing him.

VARGAS: But for fashion, J. Lo looked spectacular. I don't know if you got to see her. She was wearing this beautiful black dress. Look at her right there. Oh, my gosh. She was stunning. She came with Marc Anthony. Now, she had Sean P. Diddy Combs who was there and Ben Affleck, both her exes, and they had to just kind of -- I'm sure were looking at her and saying wow.

PHILLIPS: She knows how to work the cameras, doesn't she?

VARGAS: She knows how to work that camera like nobody's business.

PHILLIPS: Gives that look, gives that little flutter. Look at that. Look, it's all in the eyes.

VARGAS: Yes. I've -- yes.

PHILLIPS: Here, let me give them a smile. Now, let me blink with the big eyelashes.

VARGAS: Oh, yes there you go.

PHILLIPS: Yes, there you go. There's the pose.

VARGAS: You know, I can do that too actually. I know. I've learned it.

PHILLIPS: Let me see it, give me the little mouth open, the little mouth open, give me a little look. There we go, hold on. There it is. Give it to me.

VARGAS: Can you see it?

PHILLIPS: There it is.

VARGAS: There it is.

LEMON: Oh my gosh.

VARGAS: That's the way -- I've learned how to do that. I actually do that for a skill.

LEMON: What are you two doing?

VARGAS: Also, did you see Brangelina and Brad -- yes, Brangelina, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. That's their name. It's not Brangelina, they've got two different names. They looked regal. Look at them, stunning, absolutely stunning. Look at that.

It was almost as if the king and queen had arrived, and that's the way they kind of treated the press. They were away, but they wanted to be looked at. They didn't want to talk too much but they wanted to be seen. That's for sure.

So one -- I would only say there was one fashion faux pas and that would have to be Miss Cameron Diaz. She usually is so beautiful on the red carpet. She's got a great sense of fashion. But I'm not sure about that outfit right there. I don't know.

PHILLIPS: A lot of ruffles going on.

VARGAS: A lot of ruffles. A lot of ruffles. She's still beautiful though.

PHILLIPS: All right, Sibila. Yes. All right, time for you to get some sleep. Thank you, my dear. Oh, oh, we got it. There's the Sibila. Yes, and you've got the little look there. You've got the little sassy, don't mess with me look.

VARGAS: Oh, thank you. Yes, that's me. I'm all about that.

PHILLIPS: All right, Sibila.

VARGAS: You're so sweet.

PHILLIPS: Glad you had a good time.

VARGAS: I did, thank you.

PHILLIPS: All right, see you soon.

LEMON: All right, thanks, guys.

Katrina's tiniest survivor finally arrives and takes on a symbolic moniker. It's a boy, and the NEWSROOM couldn't be prouder. We'll hear from the family live in our next hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: John McCain and the Christian right -- well, they've never exactly sung from the same hymn book. But as the Arizona senator prepares another run for the GOP presidential nomination, the off-key notes are getting louder and sharper.

CNN's Bob Franken is listening.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the nation's most influential Christian conservatives is lashing out at Senator John McCain.

JAMES DOBSON, FOUNDER, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: And he's not in favor of traditional marriage, and I pray that we won't get stuck with him.

FRANKEN: James Dobson, founder of the Evangelical powerhouse Focus on the Family, was speaking on a Christian radio program last week. Dobson said "there's no way he'll get behind McCain's bid for the White House."

DOBSON: I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances.

FRANKEN: Those comments highlight a major political problem for the Arizona Senator. He remains estranged from his party's core voters, conservative evangelicals, major players in Republican primaries.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I don't think that they think that John McCain is a true believer, that John McCain is with them on all the issues, that John McCain, if he were to become president, would push a social agenda as hard and as fast as they would like.

FRANKEN: McCain does oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, but he refuses to get behind a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. And he's generally had an arm's length relationship with Evangelical leaders.

Back in the 2000 presidential campaign, McCain called his then opponent George W. Bush "a Pat Robertson Republican who panders to Christian leaders like Reverend Falwell. That was then.

Now, of course, McCain is struggling to win over those same religious leaders. He recently spent some political quickly time with Falwell, delivering the commencement address at the reverend's fundamentalist Liberty University.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions.

FRANKEN: But Dobson's comments show that McCain's still got some fences to mend. The senator's spokesman says the record speaks for itself.

(on camera): The record shows a very prickly relationship between Senator McCain and the religious conservatives who may be key to his presidential ambition.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Stand by to hear from the family of Katrina's tiniest survivor. It's a boy. His name is quite symbolic too. That's straight ahead, live in the next hour.



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