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AMERICAN MORNING

War Funding Fight; Fugitive Father Caught; Owning a Home in Your 30s, 40s and 50s

Aired April 26, 2007 - 07:59   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Thanks so much for being with us once again. It is Thursday, April 26th.
I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts, here in Washington.

Top stories on our radar this morning.

The House yesterday passed that Iraq supplemental spending bill with timetables. The Senate takes it up next. The president has vowed to veto it.

Kyra Phillips and Michael Ware just back from Iraq. As part of our "Ask AM" segment, they're going to be here to field your questions. If you've got something that you want them to answer, e- mail it to AM@CNN.com. It's AM@CNN.com.

CHETRY: Some are calling this guy the lowest of low, the worst dad ever. He was let out of jail to donate a kidney to his dying son. And instead, he skipped down. Skipped the country, actually, with his girlfriend and wound up captured in Mexico last night, actually. And we're going to have an update on what is next for him.

ROBERTS: And what's better than a dancing Rove? A dancing Bush, of course.

Take a look at this from the White House yesterday. Malaria Awareness Day. The president got into the spirit of the whole thing with the Washington-based Senegalese drum and dance troop.

Banging on the drum there. Watch this move though coming up. This one is priceless.

Come on, you can do it. Come on. Yes. And, oh, yes.

How about some fingers in the air action here? Can we do that one as well? Where's the fingers in the air? Show me the fingers in the air.

There you go. Oh, that's just too much fun -- Kiran.

CHETRY: That's the new dance craze. We're going to call it "The Prez". Everyone's going to be doing it on the club floors. You watch. That's your particular favorite, I've noticed. It really brings a smile to your face.

ROBERTS: Well, it's the one that fits -- it's the one that fits in the double box, that's why.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

All right. Well, we're going to start this morning in Washington. The House has spoken, and the Senate will speak today, likely approving a war funding bill that demands a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Now, last night, a defiant House passed the measure in a vote 218-208.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Last fall, the American people voted for a new direction in Iraq. They made it clear that our troops must be given all they need to do their jobs, but that our troops must be brought home responsibly, safely, and soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: CNN Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel is following the latest for us from the Hill.

And it's good to see you, Andrea.

Quickly, I want you to hear a little bit of what Dana Perino, the White House deputy spokeswoman, said when we talked to her in the last hour about this bill.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can't predict for you exactly what day the president is going to get the bill. As you know -- you know the phrase it's dead on arrival, but this one is dead before arrival, and they know it. Soon after that, I think you will see that the president will meet with congressional leadership and try to work it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: All right. Dead before arrival. So what's next?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a procedural motion next -- or a procedural move. The Democrats in the House and the Senate are going to have to vote to try to override that veto.

We already know how that story is going to end. They don't have the votes in either chamber. So what's next is plan B. I just spoke to a senior Senate Democratic aide who said that they're going to get down to brass tacks later today. There is still no plan B, or at least consensus right now, Kiran. What they are looking at is probably some kind of funding, whether it's short term or for the next year, with benchmarks, rather than a hard timeline.

CHETRY: So as this political battle goes on, what about the funding itself? How long before that runs out?

KOPPEL: Well, it depends who you ask. The Pentagon and the White House have maintained that they're going to run out of money very, very soon, that it's going to affect the troops in the field, it's going to affect their training, it's going to affect the maintenance of equipment. But Democrats point to this report that came out by the Congressional Research Service, which is nonpartisan. It says that the money actually won't run out until sometime in June or even July -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right.

Andrea Koppel for us on the Hill today.

Thanks.

ROBERTS: The Democratic candidates for president are getting ready to rumble. They'll share the stage in South Carolina in Orangeburg, at South Carolina State University, for the first debate of the '08 season tonight.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is live in Greenville, South Carolina. Not too far away from Orangeburg. She's there with John McCain, and she's got a preview of what we can expect tonight.

Candy, I think what a lot of people find really interesting is the fact that this is going to be the first time Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been on the stage at the same time answering these tough questions.

What do you think we can expect?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we can expect that in some ways they are going to try to differentiate themselves from one another, as will the other candidates. Don't look for a lot of fireworks, per se.

First of all, the calendar kind of argues against it. There's plenty of time for them to really go at each other. Hillary Clinton doesn't really need to go at Barack Obama since she is the frontrunner at this point, and he's promised a different kind of campaign. So, expect a sort of erudite, kind of scholastic look at some of these issues tonight, which is what all the candidates say they want.

ROBERTS: Right. And I guess a lot of people would like to hear the candidates talk about the issues, because it's been all horse race, horse race, horse race up until now, and the horse race doesn't really mean anything at this point.

John Edwards is polling very well in South Carolina, but what about the other tier of candidates, the Bill Richardsons of this world? Can they make any advances at this debate, or are they just filler, for lack of a better word?

CROWLEY: They certainly can. And as a matter of fact, as you know, those sort of lower-tier candidates, as they're called, and hate it when they're called that, this is one of the forums that they really like, because they are up there on a stage, colleagues, all of them getting an equal shot. And so they think it's their time to shine, because as you know, they have a hard time getting coverage, they have a hard time getting the headlines away from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

So this is their chance to step in there. And remembering that, a lot of the public is going to see much of this debate and what happens afterwards, how people interpret what went on, how the columnists write tomorrow. So, this is the time for many candidates to shine.

I bring you Al Sharpton from the last election, where everyone thought he was the guy that really livened up the debate. It didn't help him in the presidential race, but he got a lot of play. And I think that's what these other candidates are looking for.

ROBERTS: You're there in Greenville with Senator John McCain. You were with him in New Hampshire yesterday, in Portsmouth, when he made his announcement, the official, official announcement of his official candidacy.

Let me play you a little piece from his speech yesterday and then get you to analyze it a little bit. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the many mistakes we have made in this war, a few lessons have become clear. America should never undertake a war unless we are prepared to do everything necessary to succeed, unless we have a realistic and comprehensive plan for success, and unless all relevant agencies of government are committed to that success.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Candy, that was a real shot at President Bush. Now, of course John McCain has been critical of the handling of the war. But at the same time, he's also embraced President Bush, at least in the early going. Now he seems to be distancing himself to a greater degree.

Was it a mistake for him to get so close to the president in the early going?

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, he doesn't think so. He tries not talk about the war in political terms, how it would hurt him, what's a mistake.

He said, "Listen, this is how I feel about the war. I have always felt the cause was just. If it hurts me politically, well then so be it."

He has a very difficult position, and that is somehow he has to embrace the cause of the war, but not the conduct of the war. And this is not always a distinction that is picked up in the sound bites.

So it was interesting to me that he elongated his sort of "I don't like the way the war has been run," and said in specific ways yesterday as to what he didn't like about the war. And I think we'll -- we'll in fact hear more of that as it goes on.

ROBERTS: All right.

Candy Crowley for us in Greenville, South Carolina.

Candy, always good to see you. Thanks very much.

Looking forward to that debate tonight as well -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, me too.

Well, now to the runaway Dow. It opens in the next hour above 13,000.

Ali Velshi joins us now from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

ROBERTS: Nine minutes after the hour now.

If he's not the worst dad in the world, he certainly is up there. Byron Perkins goes to court today after a year on the lam in Mexico. Let out of jail so that he could donate a kidney to his son. He took off instead.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in our Miami bureau for us this morning.

Susan, we have been following this story from the beginning. How did they finally close in on this guy? It took a long time.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It did take a long time, John. And all we know so far is that for over a year, Mexican authorities have been working with the Americans, following tips, working leads. But all that time Perkins and his girlfriend managed to somehow stay one step ahead of the law, but apparently, finally, their luck ran out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you have to say to your son Destin? You promised him a kidney... CANDIOTTI (voice over): With nothing to say to the son he deserted, Byron Perkins and girlfriend Lee Ann Howard were escorted back to the U.S. Authorities say they've been hopscotching around Mexico doing odd jobs to keep under the radar. But their luck ran out.

JOE CHAVARRIA, U.S. MARSHAL: Unfortunately for them, they came back to a place where everyone was looking for them because they had been there last year.

CANDIOTTI: Perkins, nicknamed the most hated dad in America, busted in Mexico, back in the U.S., in a heap of trouble. A dad who cried in front of a judge who let him out of jail last year so he could donate a kidney for his son Destin, a son who desperately need a kidney to live.

Perkins fooled them all and took off running with his girlfriend. It was only after CNN ran the story that tourists in Mexico recognized him and called police. The couple had run up hotel and bar bills and skipped out on those, too.

For over a year, the U.S. Marshals searched for the odd couple and finally caught up with them in Puerto Vallarta. Authorities say they spent time before that Manzanillo.

Last fall, we visited with Destin after he got a new kidney from an anonymous donor. Back then he said this about his dad, and his mom says nothing has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could ever forgive him?

DESTIN PERKINS, SON OF ARRESTED FUGITIVE: Forgive him, probably not. It's a pretty bad thing that he did to me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: I think everyone would agree with that. And perhaps remarkably, after a year on the run, Perkins, authorities said, didn't even put up a fight. In fact, they added, he looked a bit relieved to be caught -- John.

ROBERTS: Wow. You can just imagine how the son feels in all of this, Susan.

So, the fugitive is in Los Angeles. What about extraditing him back to Kentucky? Does that look like it's going to be any kind of an issue?

CANDIOTTI: Well, of course that's the question. We'll find out more this morning. He makes an appearance in Los Angeles before a federal judge first thing in the morning out there. And then if he waives extradition, U.S. marshals will not waste any time, they said, putting him on a plane and taking him back to Kentucky to face the music.

ROBERTS: I'm sure they wouldn't. Susan Candiotti from our Miami bureau.

Good to see you, Susan. Thanks -- Kiran.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Sixteen minutes after the hour. Chad Myers in the severe weather center.

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHETRY: And we're back now with CNN's Kyra Phillips and war correspondent Michael Ware. They both have just come back from Iraq.

Kyra and Michael, thanks for being with us once again.

And we asked you before to give us your take on some words from General Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq. He spoke yesterday on the Capitol. Let's hear one more statement from him yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: What I would like to see Iraq end as, of course, is a government, a country that is one Iraq, with a government that is representative of and responsive to the people, all the people of Iraq that can defend itself, at peace with itself, and ideally an ally in the global war on terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That's a lot. I mean, that's a lofty goal. Is it possible, Kyra?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, I heard that quote. And I thought, OK, General, would you stop being so PC and stop saying what everybody wants?

Of course everybody wants peace in Iraq. And I even sent him an e-mail this morning. We've been having correspondence. And I said, "Give me a break. Tell me what you really were saying."

And he said right here -- he said, "I'm not going to lie. I talk about the setbacks as well. There have also been the sensational car bomb attacks, the tragic loss of the combat outpost three days ago, and the challenges in Diyala province, which, understandably, have tended to overshadow the sense of slow progress on the ground in Baghdad, Anbar and some other locations."

He's a straight shooter. You've just got to know what to ask him and how to pick at him.

This is -- this was such a PC answer. And I know you spent a lot of time in Diyala province. You know he's a straight shooter, too. And he's making a good point about the setbacks in that area.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, Diyala is now the new frontline against al Qaeda. I mean, to be honest, it's a tragically bloody affair.

The brigade that was there last year lost 19 troops in 12 months. The brigade there now has lost 50 in six months.

And you listen very carefully to what General Petraeus says. He says, this is what we would like to see, a representative government.

When I was in Diyala province, I interviewed a two-star general on camera for CNN, and he admitted for the first time from anyone in the military that they are now prepared to accept options other than democracy. Now, this is what this war was sold to the American public on. Yet, they are saying now democracy isn't mandatory, it's an option, and that they are prepared to see a government that can protect itself, give services to its people, and it doesn't have to be democratic.

In fact, the general said most of our allies in this region are not democratic. So that fundamentally addresses the root cause of why America says it went to war. And now the military is saying, well, we may not get there.

CHETRY: Well, the problem is, is that it's left into the hands, it is up to the Iraqis if they want democracy. I mean, at the beginning it was to clear the way so that could be the path. If that's not how it goes for them, we can't force it.

WARE: No. But I mean, remember, the vision for Iraq was to establish this shining model of democracy that was hoped would then spread throughout the region. Well, the security situation has become so bad, Iranian influence has become so strong, Iran is much stronger because of this war. Al Qaeda is much stronger because of this war.

And as military men, not diplomats, not politicians, they're saying first is security. And if another kind of government that is not democratic but is strong and is an ally of the U.S., we will accept that.

CHETRY: Let's answer some questions that our e-mailers asked us this morning. One of them was about how Iraqis live.

"How do Iraqis live and go about their ordinary lives? Where do they eat out and where do they shop?"

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: They don't. I mean, you don't go to a coffee shop and have a Starbucks. You don't go to the movies. You don't just cruise the -- stroll along the main strip on -- in the evening.

There is no normal social life in Iraq. And it's hard for Iraqis, because this was the heyday decades ago.

WARE: Yes. Yes.

PHILLIPS: I mean, especially under Saddam. I mean, you could party and have a great time. And so they have just become accustomed to that. They just hope they can get up and walk to work, whether it's their dress shop or their pharmacy or whatever it is, and just make it there alive, make some money, make it back home to their family, and cook dinner.

WARE: I'll give you an example. I mean, there's an area of Baghdad where I used to live. And at night it was alive with Iraqi families going out to restaurants, shopping, boys on the streets trying to meet girls at ice cream parlors.

This same area now is a battle zone. All the buildings are destroyed. American troops continue to die and get hurt there.

And indeed, one of my dearest Iraqi friends just two days, three days before I left the country, his father, his uncle and two of his cousins went to the shop. Luckily, his father got out of the car, walked into the shop. While he was in the shop, a car bomb detonated and he lost his uncle and both his cousins.

CHETRY: Yes, and it's tragic to hear about this. And as we talk about solutions, and we talk about -- would all of us, all the American troops pulling out help the situation?

PHILLIPS: No. No way.

WARE: Gee, no.

PHILLIPS: It would be a disaster. I mean, I had a chance to sit down with the minister of defense, to General Petraeus, Admiral Fallon, head of CENTCOM. I asked them all the question, whether Iraqi or U.S. military.

There is no way U.S. troops could pull out. It would be a disaster. They are doing too much training. They are helping the Iraqis not only with security, but trying to get the government up and running.

I mean, this is a country of let's make a deal. There's so much corruption still. If the U.S. military left, they have rules of engagement, they have an idea, a focus, it would be a disaster.

WARE: Well, even more than that, I mean, if you just want to look at it in terms of purely American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you're giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush's axis of evil, and al Qaeda. That's who will own it.

And so, coming back now, I'm struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you are for this war or against it, whether you've supported the way it's been executed or not, it does not matter. You broke it, you've got to fix it now. You can't leave, or it's going to come and blow back on America. PHILLIPS: The U.S. owns this. And that's a very interesting point that you bring up about Iran.

Everybody keeps talking about a timeline. Is the U.S. winning this war? They have to start talking about other issues, like the influence of Iran.

I mean, every single day there are munitions and training and advice and support coming from Iran. I mean, they do not want the U.S. to have any presence there.

CHETRY: And we could talk about this all day. And such a fascinating conversation. Unfortunately, we are out of time.

Michael Ware, Kyra Phillips...

PHILLIPS: The two of us never stop talking. Right?

CHETRY: I know you don't. Well, you do long enough to cut his hair, because I heard you were his barber in Iraq. So now he's going to be in a pickle if he goes back.

PHILLIPS: And thanks for the bottle of wine. I appreciate it.

WARE: I don't want to get blown up on the way to the hairdresser.

CHETRY: John.

ROBERTS: Yes, I have been there. There the question is, where in Iraq do you go for a haircut? Where can you go?

PHILLIPS: You go to me, John. I did a really -- can't you tell? I did a great job.

ROBERTS: You did a lovely job, Kyra.

And it's great to see you back stateside, Michael, although I don't know if New York City is going to be able to handle you after four months in Iraq.

(LAUGHTER)

WARE: It was a long night, mate.

ROBERTS: All right. Good to see you.

Coming up, how owning a home can make you rich and how home ownership changes whether you're in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. Tips for buying, keeping and making the most of your biggest investment, next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Owning a home is part of the American dream, whether you're in your 30s, 40s or 50s. CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, has some advice for anyone looking to buy, maintain or even sell their greatest asset.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the grand entrance.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice over): In your 30s, when buying your first home, the first rule is don't borrow more than you can handle. Your mortgage payment, insurance, taxes and even maintenance should not total more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was preapproved.

WILLIS: By getting preapproved for a mortgage before you start looking, you'll have more bargaining power with sellers.

Look for neighborhoods where home values are stable, like those close to shopping, transportation and good schools. And before making a bid, find out what similar homes in the neighborhood have sold for so you don't overspend.

In your 40s, your home might be ready for a facelift, but don't get carried away. You should spend no more than 20 percent of your home's overall value on renovations.

Real estate experts say you will get the biggest bang for your buck by upgrading the kitchen and bathroom. An average 85 percent return on investment.

When choosing a contractor, it's best to hire someone who comes recommended. Get at least three competing bids, but don't always jump at the cheapest one. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

In your 50s, if you have been thinking of selling your home, check out what comparable homes in your area have sold for and how long they were listed. That will help you determine your asking price.

Before putting your home on the market, spruce the place up. Get rid of clutter, including unneeded furniture, and give walls a fresh coat of neutrally-colored paint, like white or cream. Even small details like planting flowers and mowing the lawn can make a big difference in the final sales price.

Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: All good tips.

And still to come this morning, the Senate set to sign off today on the biggest challenge yet to the war in Iraq. But will an 11th hour meeting with the top general in charge change the minds of some Democrats? We'll talk with one of them. And then fading from "The View". Rosie O'Donnell is leaving the ABC chat-fest. Where she might be heading next and how Donald Trump is saying good-bye, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ROBERTS: By the end of the day today, though, the Senate could complete the Democrat's defiance of the president on a war-funding bill that calls for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. We heard from the top U.S. top commander in Iraq. He was here yesterday in Washington yesterday. He's calling for patience to let the troop buildup work.

Russ Feingold, Democratic senator from Wisconsin, joins us now. You were in that meeting yesterday.

Did David Petraeus change any minds.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I can't talk to that. It was obviously a classified meeting.

ROBERTS: Did you change your mind?

FEINGOLD: Well, he didn't change my mind about the policy. I'm impressed by him. I'm impressed by his candor. The fact is, is that in his public appearances he's made it clear that some things are going better and some things are going worse.

But here's the problem, John, we're looking at this as a military matter. And everybody admits it's no longer really a military solution. So he's doing his job. They're pushing people this way and that way. But things are getting worse in Diyala province. This is a place that we've heard nothing about. So we can keep pushing the balloon around, but this isn't going to change the policy. American troops are going to die in a situation that, in my view, doesn't make sense almost.

ROBERTS: Does the fact that Diyala province is now quickly becoming an al Qaeda-controlled province change the equation at all? Before it was the insurgency. Al Qaeda has not been that much of a presence until very recently. It was for a while, then diminished. Now it's resurging again. The fact that we could lose an entire province in Iraq to al Qaeda does that not stress a greater urgency to try to...

FEINGOLD: Well, I'm not ready to agree with that analysis of that situation. And this is -- as General Petraeus has said publicly, the situation in Iraq is much more complicated than he even realized. And so whatever's happening in Diyala, whatever's happening in Baghdad, whatever's happening in Al Anbar province, some good news, some bad news, it's all about whether we're making certain military gains. That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not we're going to have 140,000 ground troops just sitting there, being used as target practice for whoever, whether it's al Qaeda, in some places obviously, whether it's people that are disaffected, or others who simply resent the fact that we've been occupying this country for a long time. That's the issue. It's not -- and we have to stop looking at this just as a military matter. We're stuck there. It's hurting our military. We've to pull out of there in a reasonable matter so that we can focus on those that attacked us on 9/11.

ROBERTS: General Petraeus considered a pretty straight shooter by just about everybody who's ever had contact. Let me play just a little bit about what he said after he came out of the meeting with you folks yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: I'm not being pressured by the president to say anything. I am a soldier and I'm going to give a forthright assessment, and that's all that I will provide, and I'm not going to be pressured by political leaders of either party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So he is insisting that what he told you yesterday is his genuine, down to earth, fully frank assessment, not spin. He has asked until the middle of August to get an idea of whether things are happening. Democrats are moving ahead with his idea to put timetables and conditions on funding for the troops. Why don't you give him the time?

FEINGOLD: He's getting plenty of time here. The proposal we are passing today calls for the beginning of the redeployment of the troops in October and the finishing of the mission by the end of next March. I think that's a perfectly reasonable timetable. It's consistent with what we've heard from others.

And, John, I've got to make the point very clearly here -- the idea that somehow we're taking away funding while this is going on, that's just false. My legislation, as you suggested somehow that this would involve taking away funding while the troops are there, that just isn't the case.

What we're talking about here is saying that when the mission ends the funding ends, and that's perfectly reasonable. So General Petraeus will have the funding as long as we feel there should be a mission there. But there shouldn't be a mission there anymore by the end of next March.

ROBERTS: I don't want to get into a debate with you about this, but as I read your legislation it forces a redeployment of the troops because there's a date certain that the funding will be cut off. It's sort of like saying I'm going to pay for your apartment until next March, so you better find a better place to live until then.

FEINGOLD: You know, it's just what we did with Somalia, after Black Hawk down, we said, look, we have to get the troops out of there, it's not working out. We didn't take anything away from the troops. We said we're going to safely redeploy you. At the end the policy of -- that's our job; we make the policy.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you this question, though. I mean, you do set a date certain for withdrawal of funding for combat operations. That is what the constitution gives Congress the power to do. These other bills attach these ideas of timetables and benchmarks. It's not what the Constitution gives Congress the power to do, but it puts pressure on the president.

Are your fellow Democrats shirking their real responsibility, and is this just political theater? Because they're not trying to do it; they're trying to get the president to do it.

FEINGOLD: We're doing exactly what we're supposed to do under the Constitution of this legislation. This is a supplemental bill. It has to do with funding appropriations. That's our roll. We're saying, OK, we will give this funding. but we're going to condition it upon a timetable to end the war. We can make that policy. This is exactly the right place to do it.

Thanks to Majority Leader Senator Reid, he's joining me in an even stronger bill that doesn't just set a goal, but says that at the end of this period we actually end the funding. This is, I think, exactly what the framers of the Constitution not only thought we could do, but believed that we were responsible as a Congress to set the policy. That's our job. We're doing it. The American people want the war ended. That's exactly what we're doing.

ROBERTS: Right, that was my point, is that your legislation is actually the power of the purse of Congress put on paper, whereas the other one is kind of a more...

FEINGOLD: It's not directly that, but I think it's sufficiently appropriate, because it is an appropriations bill.

But I agree with you, that in the end, I think we're going to have to use the power of the purse, our ability to say, look, by this date, the funding has to end.

But I want to repeat, this involves not taking away one thing from the troops in the field, and that's the reason I wanted to come on this show, to make that absolutely clear.

ROBERTS: As long as they're out of the field.

FEINGOLD: They would be out of the field before the funding would be cut off.

ROBERTS: Senator Feingold, good to talk with you.

FEINGOLD: Good to talk to you.

ROBERTS: Thanks very much.

Senator Russ Feingold here, and he's one of the most important people in this debate, because he's got that bill, as we said, that would provide a date certain for troops to withdraw from Iraq, and that's when the funding would end, just to make that absolutely clear -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right, good interview.

(NEWSBREAK)

Well, he became known as the worst dad in America, Byron Perkins. He was let out of jail to donate a kidney to his son. Instead, he took off to Mexico with his girlfriend. He was captured Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta, along with Leann Howard (ph). They make a court appearance in Los Angeles today, and are expected to be sent back to Kentucky to face charges.

Anderson Cooper spoke with Destin Perkins, his son, who still holds a lot of resentment towards his father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DESTIN PERKINS, FUGITIVE FATHER CAUGHT: There's a lot of anger between me and him right now. I mean, I would like to see him, just tell him what I think, and just ask one question, why he did it. It's kind of sad that he would run out on me like that. I don't know how he could lay his head down at night, just knowing that he ran away left me up here to die like that. And that's just one of my main questions, is why he did it, and how he could do it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: I think a lot of people are asking that same question today. Well, Destin was able to get a kidney. He got it from an anonymous donor, and he says that he is doing well; his health now is fine.

ROBERTS: This morning New York State Police say they think the hunt for a man who shot three troopers, killing one of them, is over. It ended in dramatic standoff at a farmhouse in Upstate New York. Police firing round after round of tear gas before a fire broke out in the building. Police are checking to see if a body found inside holding a rifle is that of 23-year-old Travis Trim. Trim allegedly shot a trooper at a traffic stop on Tuesday. That's what sparked the manhunt. New York State Trooper David Brinkerhoff was shot and killed. He and his partner were responding to a burglar alarm at that house that burned down. His partner was also shot. Police surrounded the house. They say it's possible that the tear gas they fired into the building is what caused the fire.

CHETRY: Well, severe weather making news on the Gulf Coast right now. There's heavy rain. There's flooding in Missouri. We're going to get the very latest on the extreme weather situation.

Also, does goodbye Rosie mean goodbye excitement and controversy on "The View?" Well, our own Jeanne Moos takes a look back at Rosie's riveting run, and find out who will miss her, who won't. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning. New pictures from Eagle Pass, Texas, the small border town that was slammed by a devastating tornado the other day. Hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed by Tuesday's night's twister. Seven people died there. Three more were killed across the border in Mexico. Extreme weather also making a mark in the Midwest. In Missouri, flooding causing huge headache force drivers around Kansas City. High water washed out roads and sent rivers spilling over into neighborhoods.

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHETRY: Well, It's bye-bye Rosie. The talk show host made it official, she's leaving ABC's "The View." It was a year of feuds of headlines, and of course rising ratings.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In true Rosie fashion, she first took out her gum before making the announcement.

ROSIE O'DONNELL, "THE VIEW": Hey, big news, breaking news. Breaking news. Did you hear it's on CNN as breaking news?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Tony, here's something that's going to probably knock you off your seat.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: OK.

WHITFIELD: Brace yourself.

O'DONNELL: I've decided that we couldn't come to terms with my deal with ABC, so next year I'm not going to be on "The View". However, I will be coming back and guest-hosting...

MOOS: Guest-hosting? What are those of us who thrive on controversy going to do? No more hung over Danny DeVito in her lap. No more arguments with "The View's" young Republican.

O'DONNELL: And just one second. Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.

MOOS: No more ethnic imitations that spark complaints.

O'DONNELL: You can imagine in China it's like, ching-chong.

MOOS: But most significantly...

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": ... who's really sad?

O'DONNELL: Who?

BEHAR: Donald Trump. Donald Trump. He's on a ledge right now saying, how am I going to resuscitate "The Apprentice" now? MOOS: If Donald is on a ledge, it's to push Rosie off. It was in the holiday season that the feud got hot.

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I would like to take some money out of her fat ass pockets.

O'DONNELL: There he is, hair looping, going...

TRUMP: She ought to be careful, because I'll send one of my friends to pick up her girlfriend.

O'DONNELL: Look who's here today, Kelly. I was afraid to leave her home in case somebody with a comb-over came and stole her from me.

MOOS: But don't worry. Rosie's announcement that she's leaving "The View" just reopened the wounds.

TRUMP: Rosie's basically a loser. I believe ABC wanted her out and they wanted her out badly and fast. She made statements the other day at the Waldorf-Astoria that were absolutely outrageous, where she grabbed her crotch and said things that were just terrible.

I mean, she's a slob.

MOOS: As for those lined up to see "The View"...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she spiced up the show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said whatever she thought.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Careless words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's opened my eyes up to certain things about the war in Iraq.

MOOS: Even as she announced she was leaving, Rosie was still saying impeach President Bush.

O'DONNELL: I know. But I think '08 is too late. Get him out now.

OK. We're going to take a break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over-zealous attitude. I just don't like her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that show's going to be lost without her.

MOOS: And is the show's creator lost?

TRUMP: Barbara is very happy to be rid of Rosie.

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": I am sad. OK? I am sad.

TRUMP: She abused Barbara Walters, she made Barbara Walters into a lap dog. She made Barbara Walters look like a jerk.

MOOS: Rosie may be leaving, but she wasn't leaving behind whatever she found on Barbara's lip.

O'DONNELL: And off. Thank you. Look what I got from you.

WALTERS: Yes.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: I love how Donald trump is now the anti-Rosie spokesperson. I mean, that's where you go. He's the guest for it.

ROBERTS: She made Barbara Walters look like a jerk.

CHETRY: Now I know what you're going to be for Halloween.

ROBERTS: I want to see the Donald and Rosie do a show together. It's great.

CHETRY: I'm sure when she has her own talk show, he's got to be the first guest. They would both love that.

ROBERTS: I mean, her impersonation of him is priceless. Him slamming her was just the best thing. I was encouraging this feud to go on for years, but I guess it's going to be over soon.

CHETRY: Yes, sure is.

ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away. Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead -- Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, John, good morning to you. We have these stories on the NEWSROOM rundown for you this morning. Live coverage ahead. The Iraq War commander tackling questions from reporters. General David Petraeus has already briefed Congress. Go inside the closed metering. We talk live with two lawmakers who were there.

The war funding bill. The House says yes. The Senate set to sign off today. A withdrawal timetable will mean a presidential veto.

Miami's new vice -- bank robbers on backhoes. They don't steal from the ATM, they steal the entire ATM. It has happened four times. Fred is in for Heidi this morning.

NEWSROOM, top of the hour right here on CNN.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Tony, if you can't get it open, just take the whole thing.

A lot of Americans rely on it to feed their families, so why doesn't the government's plan to help get groceries into the house pay for the most nutritious foods? Dr. Sanjay Gupta with that story coming up when AMERICAN MORNING returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Fifty-three minutes after the hour now. Millions of families rely on food stamps to put dinner on the table but a key government program for women, infants and children doesn't pay for the most nutritious food yet, and the entire plan could be tossed out the window.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in his Fit Nation report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Although her husband works, Corina Alvarez still needs help when it comes to feeding and taking care of her year-old baby.

CORINA ALVAREZ, WIC RECIPIENT: I like for them to give me ideas, and I'm a new mom.

GUPTA: Reporter: So every month she receives check force food from WIC. Now this is a federal grant program, and it's designed to help low-income women and children by providing food and counseling on good eating and health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foods that WIC provides are really the tools that reinforce that nutrition education message that's delivered in 10,000 WIC clinics around the country.

GUPTA: Since WIC was founded over 30 years ago, thoughts on nutrition have changed. See, the problem then was malnutrition, not obesity. So most WIC vouchers are for cereal, breads, crackers, milk products. Checks for force fresh fruits and vegetables don't exist.

So last August the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to add produce to the voucher system, to give clients a more balanced diet. They're expected to be available next year. But some say that might not happen, because WIC is on the chopping block, slated for a $145 million cut in President Bush's 2008 budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really threatens the availability of fresh, frozen, canned food and vegetables, the culturally diverse foods, the changes that are needed to reduce the incidence of obesity and overweight that we're finding in most WIC mothers and children.

GUPTA: Nutritionists say that'S not good, because the WIC produce vouchers could help control obesity.

KATHERINE TALLMADGE, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOC.: Studies have shown that women and children and infants who participate in the program have improved nutrition. Mothers give birth to fewer low birth weight babies, which saves medical costs.

GUPTA: Congress is now debating the finances for WIC. The final decision will likely come in the fall. Until then mothers, like Corina Alvarez, will have to continue waiting for produce checks to become available.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: For more information on Sanjay's Fit Nation tour, go to CNN.com/fitnation, where you can join Sanjay's Fit Nation's challenge and pledge to exercise and help add valuable hours, days, maybe even years to your life. CNN's Fit Nation continues this weekend in New Orleans.

Here's a quick check now at what CNN's "NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories the CNN NEWSROOM -- the Senate set to approve a war-funding bill today. A withdrawal timetable will bring a presidential veto.

Live CNN coverage, Iraq War commander General David Petraeus talks to reporters in Washington.

Flash flooding hits Kansas City.

The Dow opening above 13,000 this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready, set, go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Soldier and son in a surprise reunion. NEWSROOM, top of the hour on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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