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What Went Wrong? Pat Tillman Investigation; Gonzales Loses Support: GOP Senators Speak Out; Elizabeth & John Edwards Speak Out
Aired March 26, 2007 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The truth about the death of Pat Tillman. A new report due out today could explain just who withheld the facts and why. We're going to talk with Tillman's platoon mate this half hour.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Nuclear fallout. A new threat overnight, a new round of sanctions, and still no end to Iran's nuclear program. Is it setting up for a showdown?
O'BRIEN: Faith and fortune. Did you know that some of America's top CEOs are Mormons? We'll tell you why they say their faith is key to their corporate success.
We're live in Washington and Cleveland. We're live at the White House and in Tehran on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It's Monday, March 26th.
I'm Soledad O'Brien.
ROBERTS: I'm John Roberts, in Washington, D.C., in this week for Miles O'Brien.
Thanks for joining us.
Good morning to you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: And thank you very much. And back at you.
Let's begin with this new report that's expected within just a couple hours in the Pat Tillman case. He, of course, was the former NFL star who turned an Army Ranger, and he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Well, today, four generals could take the blame for just how the truth about Tillman's death was withheld, not just from his family, but also from the public.
AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken is live for us in Washington, D.C..
Good morning to you, Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And it is so sad that the changing story of Pat Tillman was one of the items that has contributed, many believe, to a sense -- a change from a sense of purpose after the September 11th attacks to sort of a national skepticism now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
FRANKEN (voice over): Pat Tillman was a national symbol of unselfish patriotism when he turned away from his highly lucrative NFL stardom to join the Army Rangers. Today, the handling of his death has become to his family and friends a story of military ineptitude and deceit.
We are now aware that U.S. officials knew almost right away what took five weeks for Pat Tillman's family to find out, that their son was killed by friendly fire in a remote area of Afghanistan. Before the truth came out, the president had paid tribute to Tillman.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The loss of Army Corporal Pat Tillman last week in Afghanistan brought home the sorrow that comes home with every loss and reminds us of the character of the men and women who serve on our behalf.
FRANKEN: At a memorial service 11 days after the incident, the Army repeated the claim that Tillman had been gunned down in a conventional ambush. Why it took so long for the truth to come out and who bears responsibility is the subject of Defense Department reports due out today. They will reportedly place blame on several high-ranking officers. But according to The Associated Press, they will rule out a conspiracy.
Congressman Mike Honda, a Democrat of San Jose, California, where Tillman was raised, was one of the members who pushed for these reports, but he's angry at the way they've been leaked.
REP. MIKE HONDA (D), CALIFORNIA: And this has happened at every juncture when a report is ready to be released, that it seems to be leaked out before the family gets to know. And that's -- I think it's very irritating to them, too.
FRANKEN: Tillman's father, Pat Sr., said he had no intention of commenting until he had been briefed later today.
FRANKEN: And now that the report will come out, the latest one that is assessing blame, the question is, what happens next? The Army will only say that it plans to take appropriate action -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: I'm sure we'll have to wait and see what that is.
Bob Franken for us this morning.
Thank you, Bob.
Ahead this morning, going to also talk to a member of Tillman's platoon who was a friend of Pat Tillman's, as well. He says he knew almost immediately that it was friendly fire, so why did it take so many weeks for the truth to come out? That interview coming up in just a few minutes -- John.
O'BRIEN: A warning overnight to tell you about. It comes from Iran to the United States. A senior Iranian military leader says, "If America starts a war against Iran, it won't be the one who finishes it." Now, those comments appeared in Iranian media overnight.
Iran is also scaling back its ties with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency. Over the weekend, the U.N. Security Council approved a new round of sanctions to try to force Iran to end its nuclear program.
ROBERTS: Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales continues to slip. Three top GOP senators are now questioning the attorney general's credibility over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Gonzales has said that he wasn't involved in any discussions in the firings, but newly released documents seem to contradict that somewhat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There's no doubt that what has happened has had a very chilling effect on the United States attorneys.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Unfortunately, the attorney general is dealing with a cloud hanging over his credibility, and the president is going to have to deal with that.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: But he has been wounded. He is going to have to come to the -- to the Senate and reestablish his credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Let's go live now to White House Correspondent Ed Henry.
And Ed, none of those three senators called outright for Gonzales to go, but it's certainly beginning to look a little dimmer for him than it did at the end of last week.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's really the only silver lining in the cloud of credibility there. As you heard -- as you noted, they're not calling for his resignation, but yet, Bob Novak, the conservative columnist, has a column out this morning saying that support on the Hill among Republicans for Gonzales is all but gone, that it's a matter of time.
What you heard from these Republican senators yesterday, though, is they want to give Gonzales a couple more weeks at least. That they want to hear from him in testimony.
That's going to be in mid-April. But there are a bunch of wildcards between now and then.
Number one, this Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to hear from Kyle Sampson. That's the guy who was basically pushed out as chief of staff to Gonzales. And what is he going to say?
Is he going to contradict Gonzales further beyond just that e- mail that was leaked out late on Friday night?
Also, are there more documents? As you know, any time someone, whether it's a Democrat or Republican administration, wants to get out bad news, they do it very late on Friday night, and when everyone has already gone home for the weekend.
Are there going to be more damaging documents for Alberto Gonzales? That's the bottom line, those two wildcards.
What is Sampson going to say on Thursday, and will there be more damaging documents? That's what will ultimately determine whether Gonzales says or goes -- John.
ROBERTS: And in his column, Novak also said that this is the most isolated president that he has seen in the last half century. That there's been nobody, including Nixon and Carter, that has been more isolated from members of their own party.
Obviously, the president is feeling a lot of pressure here. How far does, you know, personal loyalty go?
HENRY: Well, that's the big question, you're right. Quite a shocking statement from Bob Novak, no liberal, he. Saying that even going back, as you said, to the Nixon impeachment days, he's never seen a president -- and Novak has been covering politics for some 50 years -- he's never seen a president this isolated.
You're right, the president's got a very small circle of Texans who have stuck with him now and who are still here in the final couple of years. It includes Gonzales and Rove, and that's why he's sticking with them. That inner circle has been shrinking and shrinking -- John.
ROBERTS: Just 50 years, Ed? It seems so much longer.
Thanks. Appreciate it -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Elizabeth Edwards is front and center today on the campaign trail for her husband. The two of them fighting on despite the return of her cancer. Mrs. Edwards told "60 Minutes" last night the cancer may have spread to her hip.
CNN's Mary Snow is in Cleveland. She's on the campaign trail.
Mary, good morning.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
And this really marks the first time Elizabeth Edwards will be speaking publicly since announcing last week that her cancer had spread. She's going to be speaking at the City Club of Cleveland. This was an event that was scheduled several weeks ago. And organizers say since last week, the phones haven't stopped ringing of people trying to get in.
SNOW (voice over): John and Elizabeth Edwards' very personal cancer battle is front and center in an unprecedented public arena -- the presidential campaign trail. Their choice to continue his presidential run has brought both support and criticism. At a Democratic presidential forum in Nevada over the weekend, Edwards was asked about the decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to people who are think about supporting you, are thinking about contributing to your campaign, but are really worried about your ability to take care of two all-consuming things at one time? Will you be in the race for the duration?
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I'm definitely in the race for the duration.
SNOW: In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Edwards was steadfast in his decision to run, welcoming the scrutiny.
EDWARDS: When you offer yourself up for service to the country as the president of the United States, you deserve to be evaluated. I am perfectly open to that evaluation.
SNOW: John and Elizabeth Edwards say they've dealt with personal crisis before. Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 when her husband ran for vice president alongside John Kerry. In 1996, the couple's oldest son, Wade, was killed in a car accident.
In that same CBS "60 Minutes" interview, Elizabeth Edwards passionately explained why she wouldn't want her husband to pull out of the race.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: That would be my legacy, wouldn't it, Katie, that I -- that I -- that I had -- that I had taken out this fine man from the possibility of giving a great service? I mean, I don't want that to be my legacy.
SNOW: Another part of Elizabeth Edwards' legacy will be dealing with cancer treatments for stage IV breast cancer while raising two young children and stomping for her husband. She says she will scale back on campaign duties if necessary, but expects to be out on the trail. Some doctors say that can help.
DR. RUTH O'REGAN, WINSHIP CANCER INST., EMORY UNIV.: IN many cases patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer actually do better mentally when they keep themselves busy.
SNOW: And, Soledad as you mentioned, Elizabeth Edwards on CBS mentioned that her cancer may have spread to her hip. She was asked about whether she had learned any new information, and indicated there are a couple hot spots being watched but didn't elaborate more than that -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to hear some of the questions that are asked today in Cleveland.
Mary Snow for us.
Thanks, Mary -- John.
ROBERTS: Coming up, we'll find out today just who is to blame for misleading the public about the death of Pat Tillman. And we'll talk live to one of Tillman's comrades who was with Pat in combat the day that he was killed.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.
ROBERTS: Fourteen minute now after the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center with some incredible pictures of extreme storms.
O'BRIEN: Well, the Pentagon is reportedly holding nine officers, including up to four generals, accountable for the misinformation that was provided after Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan. The full report is going to be released later today, but The Associated Press got some early details.
Now, Tillman, a former NFL star, was killed nearly three years ago, and for weeks the Army told his family and the public that he died in an ambush, an enemy ambush. But later it was revealed that actually he was killed in friendly fire.
Sergeant Brad Jacobson was a member of Tillman's platoon. He's in Phoenix this morning.
Thanks for talking with us, Sergeant. We certainly appreciate it.
I'm just going to give everybody a little bit of background.
The platoon was split up, I know, despite the objections of some people, into two groups. You went into this canyon. One group started taking fire from enemy -- form the enemy, and Tillman went with an Afghani soldier and basically started returning fire. That was interpreted by an attack by the enemy, and Tillman and the Afghan soldier were killed.
That's kind of the story in a nutshell, I know.
How long after that happened were you aware that this was a friendly fire incident? SGT. BRAD JACOBSON, FMR. ARMY RANGER IN AFGHANISTAN: Within -- I mean, there were rumors that started within a day or two after the incident itself. When we reached back to the base camp, there were several people that were talking about the situation surrounding his death. And it was brought to light pretty much within a day or two within the platoon and those surrounding constituents that it was friendly fire.
O'BRIEN: Was there evidence of it? I mean, was it sort of the caliber of the weaponry that was around, or just sort of the condition of the body? Was there any evidence that you knew of that made you think, well, obviously, the was friendly fire and not -- not the Afghanistan enemy?
JACOBSON: There was physical evidence that -- that showed that the rounds maybe the enemy were firing weren't the rounds that killed him. We'll just leave it at that.
O'BRIEN: All right. The story came out in the public that it was enemy that had killed Pat Tillman. Were you aware of that? I mean, obviously, you were fighting in Afghanistan. So I'm not sure how much you knew.
When did you find out that that was the story that was not only being made to the public, but also to Pat Tillman's family?
JACOBSON: Right. Well, you have to understand that we were deployed at the time, so the story that was being given to the public at the same time that we were overseas we weren't aware of. And so, by the time you get home and you get reassessed -- like the situation -- and you see what's going on there, that is about the same time that you find out what kind of story is being told to the public.
And at that point, you can't really go forward and say, wait, this story's wrong. And plus, you know, it's not really your place to say it. So, our reaction was, obviously...
O'BRIEN: Yes, what was your reaction personally? I mean, when you heard it? Even if you felt like you couldn't stand up and say, this is not true, I was there, what was your reaction when you started hearing that it was enemy fire?
JACOBSON: Well, I didn't -- I didn't actually hear it was enemy fire until they released it was enemy fire, until a few weeks after we had gotten back. They released a report to his family that was previewed by the platoon. I didn't actually get to see that report, but from the reaction of most of the platoon mates that came out of that report were that it wasn't -- that wasn't what happened. And they had raised concerns about it, too, but those concerns were ignored.
O'BRIEN: So do you think that this was something that the leadership was intentionally misleading, not only the public, but, even worse, the family members. Because, frankly, from a P.R. standpoint, Pat Tillman dying by enemy fire was going to be much easier to make public than if it was a friendly fire incident. JACOBSON: The way -- the way it went down is definitely, you know, bothersome to me and probably to a lot of people. And I do not agree with the way it was handled at all by any means.
One thing you do have to look at is that, from the P.R. standpoint from the people that were maybe up the chain of command a little ways, maybe at the time they thought they could get away with broadcasting it as enemy fire, but underneath on the ground, it came out when everyone else found out that it was friendly, and then they had to retrack their previous statements, and then previous, you know -- issue reports and stuff to the family, and that's where you get into, you know, which report is right and stuff. And that's why this last report was being done so thoroughly.
O'BRIEN: If this last report comes out and says that people intentionally misled because it was a better story the other way, they didn't want to admit friendly fire, what do you think should happen to those people, whether they're colonels or generals or whatever?
JACOBSON: Well, like I said, I mean, whatever involvement these people had, you know, they -- in my opinion, they should be punished to whatever, you know, degree of, you know, misinformation that they were giving at the time. Maybe some were confused and had the wrong information given to them, but, I mean, as far as a cover-up goes or giving the wrong story to the family and stuff, I mean, they should definitely get, you know, whatever reflects, you know, in that kind of punishment.
O'BRIEN: Well, it seems like some people, though, have just had their rank diminished and maybe forced out. I mean, what do you think the punishment should be?
JACOBSON: Well, like I said, I mean, I don't know what -- you know, I don't know what the UCMJ says about this kind of stuff. Obviously, this is going to be done at a higher level than what I know.
As far as I'm concerned, I mean, if you're covering up something this large and, you know, obviously misleading the family, you know, to believe something else that didn't happen, I would hope to see that they were punished fairly, you know, for what they did.
O'BRIEN: We'll see what happens maybe later today.
Sergeant Brad Jacobson, thank you for talking with us. We certainly appreciate it.
JACOBSON: You're welcome.
ROBERTS: Soledad, thanks.
ROBERTS: Coming up, Mitt Romney is a Mormon. So is the head of JetBlue, the CFO of Citigroup, and many others. What is it about the Mormon faith that they say helps them succeed in business? And two passengers somehow survive a fall from a cruiseship at sea. But how did it happen in the first place?
We'll take a look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
O'BRIEN: Some recent polls have been showing that some Americans might have a problem for voting for a president who is a Mormon, but should they? The former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is running for president. He graduated from Harvard, made his first million as head of an investment company. He was CEO of the 2002 winter Olympics. And he is not the only Mormon to find success and he says it's thanks to his faith.
AMERICAN MORNING'S faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher, has been investigating some other Mormon moguls.
Good morning, Delia.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you.
You know, we're used to talking about religion and politics, but how about religion and business? We discovered a group of successful businessmen who have found what they say is a religious way to gain a competitive advantage.
GALLAGHER (voice over): Jim Quigley is the CEO of one of the nation's largest financial firms, Deloitte & Touche. He has devoted much of his life to climbing the corporate ladder.
JIM QUIGLEY, DELOITTE & TOUCHE: She's on my -- on the line?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's on your line.
GALLAGHER: But Jim also devotes a lot of time to the Mormon Church, one of a number of Mormons in top corporate positions, like the founder and CEO of JetBlue, the CFO of Citigroup, the former dean of the Harvard Business School, and many others.
JEFF BENEDICT, "THE MORMON WAY OF DOING BUSINESS": There are about 13 million Mormons in the world.
GALLAGHER: Jeff Benedict, author of the book "The Mormon Way of Doing Business," says the principles and practices of the Mormon faith, not drinking alcohol, serving at their church, and devotion to their families, have helped these CEOs get to the top.
BENEDICT: What each of these guys shared was that, again, there was a competitive edge, an advantage to being the only guy in the room at age 25 who didn't have an alcoholic beverage in their hand at a business party.
GALLAGHER: Quigley spends every Sunday at sometimes Saturday at church, and says he learns as much there as in the corporate world.
QUIGLEY: The leader who has the opportunity to seven days a week be mentored to watch effective leaders, they're going to have an advantage over someone else who is watching NFL football games on Sunday. You're not going to build many leadership skills with your remote control.
GALLAGHER: Mormon CEOs serve senior positions in their church unpaid, and Mormons also donate 10 percent of their income to the church, called tiding.
BENEDICT: Tiding is a principle that teaches business leaders to give up the one thing that many of us covet, which is money. How does that translate into business? These guys learn things about how to -- how to be empathetic to members of your congregation that are going through tough times, how to give up the other thing we covet besides money, which is your discretionary time.
GALLAGHER: But Mormons say the value they place above all others is family.
QUIGLEY: Mormons are encouraged to devote significant time to their families and provide, make that part of who we are. And I think it actually makes me more effective as a CEO.
GALLAGHER: Of course, you don't have to be a Mormon to succeed, but in a competitive world they say a little discipline and a lot of faith goes a long way.
O'BRIEN: Interesting, interesting. You know, I would wonder, with all those -- the top Mormon leaders of these big, important, influential companies, do they say that they're going to support, or do you suspect that they would support the presidential contender who is a Mormon?
GALLAGHER: Mitt Romney. I did ask several of them that question, and they won't come right out and say yes or no. They say that the Mormon Church as a whole doesn't put any political weight behind one candidate or another. However, they certainly help each other, and, you know, it was mentioned several times to me that they have of a mentoring system of helping each other in business. Whether that's going to translate into votes for Mitt Romney or not...
O'BRIEN: Or checks to Mitt Romney. Although I guess...
GALLAGHER: Which might be as important.
O'BRIEN: Yes, exactly. All right.
Delia Gallagher, interesting story, huh?
O'BRIEN: John. ROBERTS: Thanks, Soledad.
Coming up, Iran's latest threat over nuclear sanctions.
A new tactic to out deadbeat dads is ahead as well. How pizza boxes are coming into play ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
The most news in the morning is on CNN.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching the most news in the morning. It is Monday, March 26th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts in Washington in for Miles O'Brien. Thanks for joining us. Good morning to you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Thank you very much and back at you.
There is growing concern and rising tensions, too. We're talking about Iran, the country now indicating that it might put the 15 British troops who were seized off the coast of Iraq on trial.
Iranian officials also seem to be ignoring a new round of U.N. sanctions trying to end their nuclear ambitions. We'll take a closer look at what could be next.
ROBERTS: Also new plan to put the squeeze on dead-beat dads with every pizza delivered. And we'll tell you where it is happening and whether it really works.
O'BRIEN: And two people fall off a cruise ship 50 feet down straight into the Gulf of Mexico and they live to tell the tale. How'd they fall? How did they survive? We've some questions and some answers straight ahead.
But we begin this morning in Iran and the threat that the captured British sailors will be put on trial; they've been held since Friday. CNN's Aneesh Raman is watching this for us; he's live in Tehran.
Aneesh, good morning.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The last time Iran had British military personnel in 2004 they were released after just three days. It is now, though, day four for the 15 British marines and sailors currently in Iranian custody. We understand over the weekend they were transported to the capitol Tehran and a top Iranian military commander says all of them confessed to illegally trespassing into Iranian waters during the course of investigations.
The British government maintains their personnel were in Iraqi, not Iranian waters. A lot, though, has changed since 2004. Iran just slapped with sanctions, also five Iranians still in coalition custody in Iraq. That is prompting hardliners to call for a trial of these British military personnel and see them charged with espionage -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Aneesh, do we have any information on the condition of these sailors right now and what kind of situation they're being held, et cetera?
RAMAN: Yeah, Iranian officials are saying they're safe and in good condition. We know that British official so on the ground, from the ambassador down, have been meeting with officials of Iran's foreign ministry. Top on their list is to see these marines and sailors to make sure their condition is good. There are growing fears this could drag out far beyond the three days we saw last time and that's the urgency is among British officials, to actually see their military personnel -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman is in Tehran for us this morning. Thank you, Aneesh, for the update -- John.
ROBERTS: Thanks Soledad. One of the big stories we're following in Washington today, a new report expected in the Pat Tillman case. The "Associated Press" reports nine officers, including four generals, could be held accountable for how the Army revealed how Tillman died.
Tillman turned away from his highly lucrative NFL career it join the Army Rangers after 9/11. The Army said for days that Tillman had died in an ambush, the victim of enemy fire said until came out that he was killed by friendly fire.
Today the Senate begins debate on its war spending bill, it includes a plan to bring troops home from Iraq by March of next year. Many Senate Republicans say that decision should be left to military commanders. On Friday the House passed a $124 billion measure calling for troops to leave Iraq by September of next year.
The co-chairs of a presidential investigation into military and veteran's hospitals meet today in Florida. Former Senator Bob Dole and University of Miami president Donna Shalala, who is the former Health and Human Services secretary in the Clinton administration, will meet at the Miami V.A. Hospital. They'll talk with veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and meet with senior leadership of the Miami V.A.
Three top GOP senators are questioning the credibility of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The attorney general's former chief of staff is to testify on Capitol Hill this week about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Gonzales has said that he wasn't involved in any discussions on the firings, but newly released documents show that he was in a meeting to talk about those firings near the end of November. Some top Republicans are demanding to know more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There's no doubt that what has happened has had a very chilling effect on the United States attorneys.
SEN CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Unfortunately, the attorney general is dealing with a cloud hanging over his credibility and the president is going to have to deal with that.
SEN LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: But he has been wounded. He's going to have to come to the Senate and reestablish his credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Wounded, but not dead yet. Gonzales will get a chance to give his side of the story to Congress next month in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Catching you up on political news of the morning. John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth campaigning in Las Vegas and talking about their decision to fight on with the campaign and her battle with incurable cancer, including the news that it might have spread to her right hip. They talked with Katie Couric last night on "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS WIFE: I mean, either you push forward with the things you were doing yesterday or you start dying. That seems to be your only two choices. I want to live. And I want to do the work that I want next year it look like last year and the year after that and the year after that. And the only way to do that is to say, I'm going to keep on with my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: John and Elizabeth Edwards were in Las Vegas to discuss healthcare, particularly how to pay for universal care for 45 million uninsured Americans. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich all attended. It was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Tom Vilsack, the first Democrat to run for president and the first to withdraw -- it all happened in a heartbeat -- will throw his support behind Hillary Clinton today. That's according to a source close to Vilsack. Vilsack's support could help Clinton in Iowa, a key state, you see, Vilsack is the former governor of Iowa.
And this week presidential candidates will have to report how much money they have raised so far this year. Senator John McCain is worried. He says his campaign's late start has hurt it in fund- raising, while his top rivals, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have been out raising millions of dollars.
Speculation, this morning, that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might have his eye on the White House. The "Washington Post" reporting Mayor Bloomberg may join the race as an Independent. Analysts point out that Bloomberg has the money for a run, in fact, he could probably pay for the whole thing. He's worth an estimated $5 billion.
And, of course, all the day's political news is available any time day or night at cnn.com/ticker -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Happening "In America" this morning, in New York it was a hero's welcome for 101-year-old Rose Morat who survived that vicious mugging that was caught on tape. Remember that? Rose and 85-year-old Solange Elizee were beaten the same night by the same man. Well, they were toasted on Sunday by city and their friends at a Queens senior center. Rose says the experience has not changed her outlook on life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSE MORAT, 101-YEAR-OLD: No, I haven't changed and I don't intend changing. I have a lot of friends and I love people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) Anna Nicole Smith is who we're looking at now, her autopsy results released in the next couple hours. Smith died on February 8 in a motel room in Hollywood, Florida. Autopsy results have been delayed in part because the Broward County medical examiner received additional evidence from investigators.
White House spokesman Tony Snow is going to have surgery, today, it's going to remove a small growth in his abdomen. Snow had colon cancer two years ago. He says tests on the new growth have been negative for cancer, thank goodness. Doctors decided to remove it, though, out of "an aggressive sense of caution." We wish him well as he goes into surgery, today.
In Wisconsin a happy surprise for a blushing bride, her wedding day no longer just a memory. Somebody had broken into her photographer's car and stole all his gear. In other words, no official photo of the big day until a sudden find just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BOESEN, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: I'm here to ask you if you believe in miracles.
KAREN NORDLINER, NEWLYWED: Did you find my pictures? (SCREAMING) Oh, are you kidding me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Yep, they found the camera. It was found in a field, might have spent the last seven months in the harsh Wisconsin element. Somehow though, the memory chip and the precious photos survived intact. And they turned out well, too, from what we can see -- John.
ROBERTS: Just got to love a happy ending. There are so few of them these days.
O'BRIEN: Yeah, good for here. That's terrible to be a bride with no pictures of your wedding. That's awful. ROBERTS: Can you imagine? I look back at my wedding photos and I say, god, I wish somebody had have lost now.
O'BRIEN: Your wife is on line three, John.
ROBERTS: There you go. Well, she'd agree, too.
Next month is going to mark Larry King's 50th anniversary in the broadcasting industry and to celebrate CNN is bringing you highlights from Larry's most memorable interviews. In June of 1984 -- did I say 1984 --1994, although it does seem so long ago, TV viewers were captivated as a white Ford Bronco carrying O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase. The story broke during LARRY KING LIVE.
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LARRY KING, HOST: We have been discussing the O.J. matter and the fact that he had not shown up for appearance that day and then suddenly somebody came in my ear saying: "there's a car in California and it's driving somewhere and we believe O.J. is in that car, go."
OK, I'm going to have to interrupt this call I understand we're going go a live picture in Los Angeles -- is that correct?
I'm in Washington, the play-by-play is happening in L.A.
If you have just joined us, this is LARRY KING LIVE in Washington. We're viewing a car apparently being driven by Al Cowlings, one of O.J.'s oldest friends and a former teammate of Southern Cal, and the police radio is reporting that O.J. is the passenger in the car.
It was an incredible experience and I heard so many people that said they watched it in airports and basketball arenas. It was one of broadcast's incredible moments.
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ROBERTS: Definitely a where were you when moment. Congratulations to Larry on five decades in broadcasting.
Coming up, extra cheese, hold the deadbeats. The unique effort to crackdown on parents late on their child support.
And danger at sea, two passengers rescued after falling overboard during their cruise. How did it happen? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning is on CNN.
O'BRIEN: We got this news just in to CNN. There's been an accident involving a high-speed commuter trolley in Norristown, Pennsylvania, that's just about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia and we're hearing that trolley crashed into a bumper. It looks like you're looking at some of the pictures coming to us from WPVI, our affiliate in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
You can see the firefighters on the screen there. This is what we believed has happened. A trolley crashed into a safety bumper at the edge of the track. At least six people injured. we're told most of those injuries are minor. Going to keep watching this story as it transpires.
SPTA is the train system that takes some 299 million people every year. So, clearly, it's very, very popular, but it looks as if it's not, at this point, at least, a very big deal. Just some minor injuries and, at this point, it's also unclear exactly when they're going to resume the service on the line because they've had to shut part of that line down. That's an update and we'll bring you more as it happens.
Also this morning, lots of questions. Two people, though, who fell off a Princess cruise liner are alive, though. The ship barely at sea for a day, the couple fell right from a cabin balcony, dropped 50 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. Luckily for them, witnesses saw what happened. The captain turned the ship around and in about four hours both of them were rescued.
We spoke to the Coast Guard this morning about just it could happen. He says, well, it is very difficult to fall off of a cruise ship, but, if you do, the aerodynamics of the ship could actually blow you further out to sea. Instead of dropping to the floor below you, what happens is the -- you basically get blown out by the wind further out to sea.
The passengers, a 22-year-old man, 20-year-old woman, back onboard, recovering, we're told, and apparently, the two have decided to continue their vacation.
Chad -- it's 46 minutes past the hour. If you spent four hours in the Gulf of Mexico treading water, fighting for your life, would you go on with the vacation? That seems weird to me.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, I don't know the circumstances. I hope the people that actually saw them fall off tried it throw them something. I mean, that's a long time to get that shipped turned around and get them rescued. It seems to me -- seems like they could have launched something else, a smaller tender or something, to get them quicker -- but I think I'd probably get a plane home. Yeah.
O'BRIEN: Chuck it, that's what I'd do. But that's me.
MYERS: Get me on the closest island and just pick me up on the way back or something.
ROBERTS: My question is, what were they doing on the balcony that caused the them to fall off -- Chad.
MYERS: I'm not going there, buddy. ROBERTS: Maybe that's why they want to continue the cruise.
MYERS: That's TMI.
ROBERTS: Thanks, Chad.
MYERS: You bet.
ROBERTS: Hey, we've seen wanted posters in post offices and missing children on milk cartons. Now here's something new, delinquent parents with your pepperoni and the pizza box is a wanted poster. Cynthia Brown came up with the idea. She is with the Butler County Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency. She joins us now from Karen's Pizzeria in Hamilton, Ohio, this morning.
Good morning to you.
CYNTHIA BROWN, BUTLER CO. CHILD SUPPORT ENF AGENCY: Good morning, John.
ROBERTS: So, this is a pretty unique idea. You take pictures of parents who are behind in their child support payments and you plaster them on the top of a pizza box. How'd you come up with that idea?
BROWN: Well, originally we started out with -- we put out two posters a year and we started out putting the downsize posters in law enforcement cruisers and one evening I ordered a pizza, my husband and I and our children, and the idea came to me, if you can put coupons on the pizza boxes, you surely can put the downsized wanted posters.
ROBERTS: Your husband was skeptical of the idea at first?
BROWN: He probably thought I needed a long vacation. He kind of laughed at me. But the true fact of the matter is that most of the individuals who are running from their moral and ethical responsibility to take care of the children they bring into the world, they don't go out to eat, they order pizza.
ROBERTS: Right, so who makes the box? Do you have to have a certain level of delinquency in child support payments?
BROWN: Well actually, there are some statutes in the ORC code book that have to be met and those requirements first and we work together with the prosecutor's office and to decide what ten individuals, male or female, will be on the pizza box.
ROBERTS: Got you. So, three local pizzerias have agreed to do this, so far. You had one person who was nailed. Somebody phoned it in, as I understand. Can you tell us a little bit more about that case?
BROWN: Yes, it was actually the first day that this whole process aired and somebody called in with a tip, said, "I know exactly where this person is, this is where he is at. I'm 150 percent sure." We turned that tip over to the sheriff's department and they went and picked up this individual within one day. ROBERTS: Interesting. Now, we'll just show a picture of the pizza box and show folks what it looks like as I ask you this next question. So, you say -- just right out of the box, if you will, pardon the pun, you got somebody arrested. But, you've been doing this for eight months, you've only had one arrest, there's 1,224 non- support warrants that were issued by Butler County last year, that's a success rate of 1/10 of one percent. Is it even worth it?
BROWN: It's a start. Like you said, it just started eight months ago. We have an awareness month every month in August and that's how we initially got started. Our new poster came out January of this year and put out another news release and we were able to nail somebody, the first time, within the first day, I should say, and I'm an optimist not a pessimist, so I believe this is not the first person or the last -- it's the first person, not going to be the last person that is arrested off of the pizza boxes.
ROBERTS: Now, an attorney who is an advocate for parents' rights, for father's rights, actually, calls this tactic quote "horrible," just a way of shaming people. Is that what you're doing?
BROWN: No, we're not. Actually, what occurs when somebody gets behind in child support, it's not as if the absent parent misses two or three payments and we want to put them in prison. I think everybody understands if somebody goes to prison or jail, there's no money coming in. What this poster is meant to be and the people it's meant to be for are those individuals that we've exhausted every option available between our agency, we try it work with them, we try to find them jobs, and we also take it to a civil court before it reaches criminal.
These are the worst of the worst, these are the individuals who refuse to work with us. They do not want to support their children and I am a firm believer, if you bring children into the world, you need to pay for them. And, yes, people do fall on hard times and I appreciate that. I've had hard times in my life, but the bottom line is, you bring children into the world, you pay for them and if you've got money for cigarettes and Mountain Dews and that 40 ounce beer, you got money for child support.
ROBERTS: Well, certainly a unique idea, Cynthia Brown, thanks very much. Good luck to you.
BROWN: Thank you, thank you, John. Have a good day.
ROBERTS: All right you, too. Appreciate it -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: CNN NEWSROOM just a couple minutes away and Tony Harris has a look at what they've got ahead.
Good morning, Tony.
TONY HARRIS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. We have got these stories in the NEWSROOM rundown for you this morning.
Anna Nicole Smith mystery. The former Playboy Playmate's autopsy results released this morning.
His comrades knew Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. Why did it take his family weeks to find out? A new Pentagon report placed blame.
And two cruise passengers survived after hours in the water. Could you? Tips to keep you alive until help arrives. Join Heidi Collins and me in the NEWSROOM. We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN. Soledad, back to you.
O'BRIEN: All right, Tony, thank you. Look forward to that.
Also coming up, he's the man that millions of Americans love to hate. "American Idol's" Simon Cowell. He sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper. We'll tell you what he said about his ear for talent and his role on the biggest TV show in the country. That's ahead. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: He's one of the biggest stars on television, but also one of the most disliked. Simon Cowell reportedly earns more than $30 million a year to crush the hopes of wannabe superstars on "American idol." But as CNN anchor and "60 Minutes" contributor, Anderson Cooper recently found out, Cowell admits he has no musical talent, himself.
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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Do you sing?
SIMON COWELL, AMERICAN IDOL: No.
COOPER: Do you play an instrument?
COWELL: Guitar, very badly.
COOPER: Do you read music?
COOPER: Do you produce albums?
COOPER: So, what actually do you do?
COWELL: Guess what's going to be popular.
COOPER: You guess what's going to be popular.
COWELL: Literally that.
COOPER: Do you feel at all like a fraud at times?
COWELL: Well no, because I think 99 percent of the people who watch the show are in the same position as me, they know when somebody's good or not. To me it has been a help not knowing too much, so I can rely on my instinct.
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ROBERTS: No talent, but plenty of instinct -- $30 million a year. I could do that. That originally aired on CBS's "60 Minutes." Catch the rest of it tonight on CNN's ANDERSON COOPER 360 at 10:00 Eastern.
How about you, Soledad, new career?
O'BRIEN: Yeah, I could do that, too, absolutely. No talent, just instinct. Sure, I'm doing that already, man.
ROBERTS: Not a problem.
O'BRIEN: All right, let's take a quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour.
ANNOUNCER: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM.
The death of Anna Nicole Smith, the official autopsy is released this morning.
Unjustified and wrong, the British prime minister's message to Iran. Tony Blair calling for the release of 15 British sailors and marines.
An illegal immigrant is rescued during a risky ride to America. You're in the NEWSROOM 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.
O'BRIEN: That's it. We're out of time on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Hey, I'll see you out there in New York, tomorrow.
O'BRIEN: Excellent. Safe travel.
ROBERTS: Look forward to it. All right, thanks.
CNN NEWSROOM begins with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins right now.
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