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Republican Candidates Playing Religion Card Against Mitt Romney?; Firefighters Battle Massive Blaze Near Lake Tahoe; Michael Moore Focuses on U.S. Health Care System

Aired June 25, 2007 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Tonight: a town on edge, parents afraid to let their children out of sight. Why is one teenage after another committing suicide?

And, then, back out there on the campaign trail, are some of Mitt Romney's fellow Republicans playing the religion card against him, his Mormonism?

And Michael Moore wants you to get the whole country buzzing again. Remember Michael Moore? Well, are you ready for free doctors, free prescriptions, and even free hospitals? Wait until you see who he wants to pay for it.

But I want to start off tonight with some of the heartbreaking news in a story we have been following very closely from here, the missing pregnant woman in Ohio. I'm sure you know by now she and her unborn baby are dead. Police discovered Jessie Davis' body over the weekend.

And, just a few hours ago, the policeman who is presumed to be the father of her unborn child was in court. Bobby Cutts now faces double murder charges. Also in court today, another woman. She is charged with obstructing the investigation.

We're covering a lot tonight, the latest news, of course, but the larger issue, in just a little bit, we will try to tackle: Why is it that so many pregnant women are turning into murder victims?

But, very first off, let's get the latest on the Davis killing.

Our own Jason Carroll joins us from Canton, Ohio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The State of Ohio vs. Bobby Lee Cutts Jr.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was Bobby Cutts Jr.'s first court appearance since he was charged with the murder of his former girlfriend Jessie Davis and her unborn child. She was nine months pregnant. It was also the first time Davis' family has seen Cutts since he was arrested over the weekend.

Davis' mother stood during the entire proceeding. She wanted to be sure Cutts knew she was there.

PATTY PORTER, MOTHER OF JESSIE DAVIS: I believe my whole life has prepared me for this moment. And I'm not sitting down when I see Bobby Cutts.

QUESTION: Patty, what was going through your mind when he walked into the courtroom?

PORTER: I -- I can't really verbalize the things that were going through my mind. But I wanted to make sure that he knew that I was there.

CARROLL: A friends of Cutts, Myisha Ferrell, today was charged with obstruction of justice. Davis' mother also wanted to look Ferrell in the eye. So, she remained standing her appearance.

Both Cutts and Ferrell were arrested after investigators found Davis' badly decomposed body in a park on Saturday. And, while Cutts has maintained his innocence, a source close to the investigation tells CNN Cutts was the one who led investigators to Davis' body.

His attorney refused to comment on rumors that Cutts confessed.

QUESTION: Did you client murder Jessie Davis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to talk about the evidence.

CARROLL: Cutts' attorney would not comment on the nature of their relationship. Investigators only say that Ferrell is a high school friend of Cutts and that she's unemployed. Authorities searched her home on Saturday night, but still have not revealed what they found.

Davis' mother said her daughter did not know Ferrell. She also says Cutts is not the man she thought she knew.

PORTER: We knew Bobby Cutts up to a certain day in this. And, from that day on, we did not know him at all.

Joseph Cundimm says, he has known Cutts since he was a little boy and remembers Cutts' childhood name was Gobble, because he ate so much. Cundimm does not believe this little boy he knew grew up to become a murderer.

JOSEPH CUNDIMM, CUTTS FAMILY FRIEND: I didn't think that was in his heart. I don't know.

CARROLL: Today, bail for Ferrell was set at half-a-million dollars. For Cutts, it was $5 million.

WHITNEY DAVIS, SISTER OF JESSIE DAVIS: I think everybody knows what happened here. Everybody knows who is guilty. And -- yes.

PORTER: We do not want vengeance. We want justice.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CARROLL: And, Paula, both suspects are scheduled to appear in court again next Monday. At that point, they may enter a plea. We are also being told that autopsy results are expected back in the next few weeks -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jason Carroll, thanks so much.

Now, one of the people who knew Jessie Davis is Scott Postelwaite. They had been friends for years. And they spoke on the phone just a few days before her disappearance.

Thanks so much for joining us, especially during this very sad time.

How shocked were you to learn of Jessie's death?

SCOTT POSTELWAITE, FRIEND OF JESSIE DAVIS: I was very shocked. It really didn't even seem real at the time, until it started coming out in the newspaper and I started seeing it on the news a lot.

ZAHN: And what was your reaction to the arrest of patrolman Bobby Cutts in relationship to her death?

POSTELWAITE: Paula, it was really no surprise. I kind of expected it. I knew they had been having their troubles on and off again. So, it wasn't really a big surprise at all.

ZAHN: When you say they have been having their troubles on and off again, did Jessie talk to you about some of those problems specifically?

POSTELWAITE: Not specifically.

I knew they got together when Blake was born. And, then, after she found out he was married, they separated, I guess. And, supposedly, he was leaving his wife, so they got back together again. And I think that's where things started going downhill.

ZAHN: And, when you say, things went downhill, did she ever say to you that she had been abused in any way?

POSTELWAITE: No, she didn't say she was abused, but I would be over at her house, and I could hear them arguing on the phone.

ZAHN: Do you think she, at any point, felt threatened?

POSTELWAITE: If she did, she didn't specifically tell me that she was -- felt threatened or anything like that.

ZAHN: And, given this mess she found herself in, how worried was she about the birth of her second child?

POSTELWAITE: I don't think she expected it to go this far. So, I don't think she was too worried about it.

ZAHN: Have you had a chance to talk with Jessie's mother? POSTELWAITE: No, I have not had a chance to talk to any of them yet.

ZAHN: And, if you do have the chance, what would you like her to know?

POSTELWAITE: Just want to give all my sympathy to them. And, hopefully, this gets done and over with quickly, and that they can go on with their lives and...

ZAHN: And, at this point tonight, investigators are giving us very little information on the man charged in her death.

You say you are not at all surprised he was arrested and charged with murder. Are you completely ruling out the possibility that perhaps someone else might have been involved, or you're absolutely convinced that he is the man police are looking for?

POSTELWAITE: Well, I'm sure he's the man police are looking for. But there's probably somebody else involved, also.

ZAHN: Well, I know this is a tough thing for you to talk about. And I appreciate your stopping by here tonight.

Thanks, Scott.


ZAHN: This case is just the latest high-profile killing involving a pregnant woman. In fact, a study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that homicide is a leading cause of death among new and expectant mothers.

Take a look at some of these statistics. We all remember the case of Laci Peterson. She was eight months pregnant when her husband killed her on Christmas Eve of 2002 -- Scott Peterson now on California's death row.

Then, in 2004, Lori Hacking was several weeks pregnant when her husband shot her and put her body in a dumpster. Mark Hacking pleaded guilty to murder.

What is it about pregnancy that seems to increase a woman's risk of being killed by her partner?

Jacquelyn Campbell is a nursing school professor at Johns Hopkins University. Her teaching and research focuses on domestic violence. Dr. Gail Saltz teaches psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital. And Pat Brown is a specialist in criminal profiling.

Good to have all of you with us tonight.

Pat, I wanted to start off with you and have you check out these statistics right alongside us. And it -- involves those numbers from the CDC, which shows the leading cause of death, nonmedical deaths, among pregnant women. What is going on here? How is it that homicide is the second highest cause of death during pregnancy?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I think, Paula, that, when women get pregnant, often, they don't think of what a massive, life- changing event this is, not only for them, but for whoever they got pregnant with.

In other words, you are trapped for life. You are trapped with a child, which means you have to pay attention to it. You have got to take care of it. You're going to be the daddy forever. You're trapped with a woman. Even if you're not with her, you divorce her, she's going to be hanging around, lurking around, going to court, you know, trying to get something out of you forever.

And you're stuck with those child payments, that economic hit, forever, until -- at least until that child is, you know, well into his adulthood. So, when you get pregnant with someone, you better be darn sure that that person really wants that baby. If they don't, and if they are a psychopath, they may say: Wait a minute. This is a mistake I have made. I am just going to erase it. And erasing it means, I will kill you, and then I won't have to deal with it anymore.

Dr. Saltz, you have heard some of these reasons that Pat outlined why men kill pregnant women. In your judgment, what is the pathology behind their motivation to kill?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY, THE NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL WEILL-CORNELL SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, it's true that pregnancy is incredibly stressful. And it does mean a big life change. And even though, for most people, it is a happy stress, it is still a big stress.

But I think, when you see these cases, usually, there has been some sort of abuse that preceded this.


ZAHN: It's either verbal abuse...

SALTZ: Verbal abuse or...

ZAHN: ... physical abuse.

SALTZ: ... physical abuse.

But, basically, you generally have a man who has a lot of anger and aggression who feels victimized, that's he's actually the victim in being caught up in this pregnancy, whether that means the commitment to him. Now, as she said, I'm stuck with her. I'm stuck with her for the rest of my life, or, I'm stuck with a financial burden for the rest of my life.

And, as you get closer to the end of the pregnancy, which is what you potentially saw in this case, and there's no longer the option of, well, maybe she will miscarry, or maybe I can convince her to have an abortion, now this albatross is entirely real. And, so, the man who is angry, aggressive, not well in control of his emotions, may be abusive already, is going to pop, and feel, this is the ultimate commitment. And my only way out, is what he might be thinking, is to kill her.

ZAHN: So, Jacqueline, does your research bear that out, that -- that we shouldn't be that surprised that so many of these murders happen very late on in pregnancy?

JACQUELYN CAMPBELL, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESEARCHER: Well, we're not sure that late in pregnancy makes a particular difference.

Just as Dr. Saltz said, though, the major risk factor for a homicide during pregnancy of a woman by her partner is prior domestic violence. And, usually, what this is, is part of an ongoing pattern of aggression, violence, controlling behavior.

In this case, apparently, there was violence toward a prior partner, where she had to get out an order of protection against him. So, it seems like this is perhaps a man who uses violence in order to resolve conflicts that he's having with his partner.

What we find, another risk factor is if she's trying to leave him. And, of course, we don't know exactly what happened in this case, but that may well have been part of what was going on, is that she was trying to leave him because he was abusive or controlling, and that's what precipitated the event. Another big risk factor, we find, is men who are gun owners as being particularly dangerous in these cases.

ZAHN: And we have some statistics now that I would like to put up on the screen for you, Pat, for you to analyze. And this looks at how pregnant women are killed, and, as Jacquelyn just said, firearms right at the top of the list.

Since that is the case, are most of these crimes, in some way, linked to premeditation? You have got to go out and buy a gun, if you don't have one already.

BROWN: Well, I would say not necessarily, in the way we would think.

I mean, most psychopaths, when they are manipulating people, they are always premeditating what they like and what they don't like. So, it is not something they necessarily do way ahead of time. But, before that actual event happens, they have probably gone through it in their -- their minds.

In other words, you don't do something you have never thought about. But psychopaths are also fascinated by weapons. I mean, they like the power and control that come with weapons. So, if you are hooking up with a guy who is really into a big gun collection or really into those ninja knives, it's a big red flag. He is not doing yoga, you know?

(LAUGHTER) BROWN: This is a guy who is not looking for the peaceful way out. He's looking for the power and control he gets. And, if he loses it with you and he loses it in his life, he may just eliminate you to get that power and control back.

ZAHN: You all have done a fascinating job of putting all of these together.

Jacquelyn Campbell, Dr. Gail Saltz, Pat Brown, appreciate it.

And, as we speak, there's a state of emergency around Lake Tahoe tonight. Are firefighters making any progress at all against a blaze that has destroyed more than 200 buildings?

We're going to get a live update on the other side.



TINA JONES, PARENT: I had never seen nothing like this before in my life. It's just -- it's mind-blowing.


ZAHN: Coming up: a Southern town, a school fight, and parents who say their kids face ridiculous charges just because they are black.

And get ready for another dose of Michael Moore. He has found doctors and hospitals that are actually free. Should that happen here? And how exactly would that work, anyway?

We will be right back.


ZAHN: Have some of the presidential candidates found a way to attack Mitt Romney's religion without feeling any backlash? Is it part of an overall campaign? We are going to bring some controversial tactics out in the open in just a little bit.

Tonight, 800 firefighters desperately trying to control a wildfire that has already wiped out 240 buildings near Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of people saw everything they own just vanish yesterday, when the fire suddenly tripled in size; 1,000 people have had to run for their lives.

And, tonight, more homes are threatened. The fire is raging south of Lake Tahoe, on the California-Nevada border.

And Thelma Gutierrez joins me now.

So, Thelma, describe to us where you are at this hour.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, we are here in the community of Meyers. Now, this is about five miles outside of South Lake Tahoe.

This was the area, in the Sierra Nevada, that was the hardest hit. In fact, you can see right behind me this home still smoldering many hours after this fire first started.

We walk over here, Paula, and you can see, this area, this fire burned so hot, so furious, that the metal from the car just literally melted right down on to the ground. It was still warm as of just about an hour ago.

Now, many of the residents in this area are hoping to get back in. They want to see if there's anything to come home to. But the roads to this area are closed. Officials say it's just too dangerous to get back inside right now.

ZAHN: I have seen a lot of wildfires working in that part of the country. I can't remember one growing that fast. How long do you think it's going to take for firefighters to get this thing under control?

GUTIERREZ: Well, we just talked to a firefighter a short time ago, Paula. And we are told that this fire is now 10 percent contained.

Now, one of the good pieces of news that they have had in the last couple of days is that the winds have died down. Humidity is expected to go up again tonight. And these temperatures dropped into the 30s overnight. And, so, that is a huge help.

The other thing that happened is that, for most of the day, there was this inversion layer. And the firefighters were hoping to launch this huge air assault, and they weren't able to. It was too dangerous to fly, because visibility was so poor.

Well, that smoke lifted. We could see blue skies. And, just a couple of hours ago, those choppers started flying. We have seen them hauling buckets of water over the area to dump on to this fire. They are hoping that they're going to be able to get a handle on this tonight.

ZAHN: And we are hoping the weather continues to give them a break.

Thelma Gutierrez, thanks.

Awful stuff.

Our next stop is a small Southern town where allegations of racism are right out in the open tonight, all because of a school fight.


ROBERT BAILEY, DEFENDANT: You know, like, when a fight break out, every -- all the kids just run to see the fight. That's just how it was. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So, why is he and other students in the town looking at years in prison? Is it because they are black?


ZAHN: This week, the trial a black teenager is exposing racism just beneath the surface in a small town in northern Louisiana. He happens to be the first of six teenagers to go on trial in the beating of a white boy at school.

The question is whether it was just an ordinary school fight or a crime worthy of decades in prison.

But the case is still bringing out in the open in Jena, Louisiana.

And Susan Roesgen has the story, including late developments just hours ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get off the campus.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reporters are not welcome these days at Jena High School where racial tension has led to charges of attempted murder.

Back in September, black students sat under this tree in the school courtyard, where traditionally only white students sit. The next day, three white students hung nooses down from the tree and were suspended. What the nooses meant divided the town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a couple boys made a mistake. You know, I think it's all being blown out of proportion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very offended, because that's a racial slur against us.

ROESGEN: From there, things got worse. In November, someone set fire to the school, destroying one of its main buildings, though police don't know if there's a connection to the nooses.

Then, in December, a school fight -- a white student, Justin Barker, was knocked unconscious and kicked as he lay on the ground. Six black teenagers were accused of beating him.

(on camera): This is a copy of the school handbook here at Jena High School. It says the punishment for a school fight is three days suspension.

(voice-over): But, in this case, five of the six black teenagers are charged with attempted murder. And they face the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Robert Bailey Jr., Theodore Shaw, and a student who hasn't been identified because he's only 16 are all charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Late today, a sixth student, Mychal Bell, had his charge reduced to aggravated battery.

But they all say they're innocent. And one of them told us he didn't even see what happened.

ROBERT BAILEY, DEFENDANT: You know, like, when a fight break out, every -- all the kids just run to see the fight. That's just how it was. And everybody was in one part. We really couldn't see nothing. So, when I'm running to -- when I'm running to see what is going on, I got down there. The fight is over with. The coaches and the students were breaking up the fight.

ROESGEN: The students' parents say, whatever happened, the only reason their sons were arrested is because they are black.

TINA JONES, PARENT: I had never seen nothing like this before in my life. You know, I -- it's just -- it's mind-blowing. You know, it's heartbreaking.

ROESGEN: Two of the students have been locked up in jail since December, because their parents can't afford the $90,000 bail.

THEODORE MCCOY, PARENT: No previous record of anything. And he has been taking it pretty hard at times, because we visit every Sunday. Sometimes, he's OK. The next minute, he's taking it very hard.

ROESGEN: The parents believe their sons just can't get a fair trial when they're the minority in a town that's 85 percent white.

Even some white residents agree.

KRISTY BOYETTE, RESIDENT OF JENA, LOUISIANA: These are kids. They are kids. You're fixing to ruin these kids' life.

ROESGEN: District Attorney Reed Walters released a statement after the incident, saying he had "never charged anyone based on who they are."

But he also addressed the six black students directly, saying: "You will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will see to it you never again menace the students at any school in this parish."

Since the arrest last December, Jena has seen protests denouncing the criminal charges against the six black students as racially motivated.

But there is another side of this story that has gone unreported.

KELLI BARKER, MOTHER OF VICTIM: He was getting kicked and stomped. ROESGEN (on camera): Why?

BARKER: I don't know. You tell me.

ROESGEN (voice-over): For the first time the parents of Justin Barker, the victim, agreed to be interviewed exclusive by CNN.

BARKER: Several lacerations on both sides. Both the ears was kind of really damaged, and both eyes. His right eye was the worst. It had blood clots in it.

ROESGEN: Kelli and David Barker say Justin has no idea why he was attacked. But his injuries have cost $12,000 in medical bills. And his parents do believe it was a case of attempted murder.

BARKER: I wish to goodness it wouldn't have happened. I mean, they have parents. And, you know, me and David are parents of Justin. And I hate it for them parents. I mean, I can only imagine. But I also have to think about my child and my family.

ROESGEN: The trial for one of the Jena six starts Tuesday in a town where fear and suspicion on both sides have made Jena an uncomfortable place to call home.

Susan Roesgen, Jena, Louisiana.


ZAHN: And, before those charges were reduced today, Mychal Bell was facing 80 years in prison, if convicted. Instead, the maximum he now faces is 22 years.

We're about to meet a man whose films are always controversial. This time, he's taking on the health care industry and insurance companies.


MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: I will tell you one thing. The American people are fed up with a health care system that has a choke hold on them. It's all about profit and greed. It's not about helping people.


ZAHN: So, is Michael Moore right or wrong this time? Could his new film actually start a national debate over free health care?

Also ahead:



Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney responds to attacks against his religion coming from people working for his GOP rivals -- that story coming up.


ZAHN: And, a little later bit on: a deadly mystery and a town gripped by fear.


ZAHN: Michael Moore, he's back. You remember him. During the 2004 presidential race, his anti-war "Fahrenheit 9/11" became the biggest money earning documentary ever and he became a favorite target of conservative critics. But this time he's taking on a more popular position, he's taking on the U.S. health care system. His latest movie is called "Sicko" and is a completely one-sided assault. Four days before it opens nationwide, we had our entertainment correspondent, Brooke Anderson, talk with Moore about what he hopes this movie might accomplish.


MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: And I believe that these insurance companies are a criminal racket.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Moore has earned a reputation as a master provocateur, a reputation that may only grow with his latest film, "Sicko." It's a scathing indictment of the U.S. health care system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride was not going to be paid for because it wasn't preapproved.

ANDERSON: In his documentary, Moore argues American health care is fatally flawed because for-profit insurance companies have a financial incentive to deny patients care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death.

ANDERSON: He attacks politicians, whom he maintains are bought off by health care lobbyists.

MOORE: Here's what it cost to buy these men, and this woman, this guy.

The Democrats are in the pockets of these people, too. And they need to stop taking money from the pharmaceutical companies and from the health insurance companies.

ANDERSON: But Moore, himself, is being attacked for failing to talk to anyone in the American health insurance industry for his film.

KAREN IGNAGNI, CEO AMERICAN'S HEALTH INS PLANS: The movie isn't a documentary. This is really a Hollywood editorial. It's an opinion piece. And Michael Moore is entitled to his opinion.

ANDERSON (on camera): Why didn't you talk to representatives from the health care insurance companies?

MOORE: That's funny, when I -- in my other movies, when I go after them, I'm criticized for beating them up. This time I leave them alone a little bit...

My film is providing the other side that you don't get in the daily media.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Moore's film praises the government health care systems in other countries including France, Britain, Canada, Cuba and Britain.

MOORE: What did they charge you for that baby?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, everything (INAUDIBLE) it's not America.


ANDERSON: But some call that praise short-sighted. For instance "Sicko" does not offer data on wait times experienced by Canadians seeking health care. According to Canadian government statistics, the median wait time to get into see a specialist was four weeks and 4.3 weeks to get in for a non-emergency surgery.

(on camera): Why is Canada a great model for the U.S. when they have problems?

MOORE: They have minor problems. I mean, 78 percent of the Canadians, when polled, are happy with their system. That's very high. You can't get the same number here in this country.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Moore insists private health insurance companies should be abolished. Not surprisingly, that idea doesn't sit well with the health insurance industry.

IGNAGNI: We know that the American people don't support a government takeover of the system.

ANDERSON: Undeterred by criticism, Moore hopes his film impacts the political debate and the presidential campaign.

MOORE: I hope that when the candidates running for presidency see the response from the millions of Americans that are going to watch this movie, that they'll think twice about their proposals.

ANDERSON: Just part of Michael Moore's prescription for America.

MOORE: Hello!

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Los Angeles.


ZAHN: All right, so Michael Moore has us all talking about what's wrong with America's health care system. If you have any ideas how to fix it, well let's go to an "Out in the Open" panel, right now.

Cenk Uygur, host of the Young Turks on the Air America Radio Network. Republican political stragidist (sic) -- that would be strategist -- well, you've heard of that before -- Amy Holmes. And Civil Rights lawyer, Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, a group devoted to racial justice.

Welcome all. Check out these statistics with me: 46 million Americans uninsured, that is 15 percent of the population. Amy Holmes, you can well afford health insurance, and yet you're not insured. Why?

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Paula, because I'd have to pay for it myself. I'm self-employed and when I look at the numbers, it just doesn't make sense for the expense of health insurance, given the way that I use the health care system. I see the doctor once a year. I'm not on medications. I would need health insurance for things like if I were to come down with pneumonia. And probably, good news is I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow to discuss just that.

But what Michael Moore isn't getting to when he talks about the insurance industry being a villain and being profit driven, why the insurance industry isn't so profit driven to cover those 47 million uninsured. And I would say, I would hazard to guess that it's too much regulation, not enough tax breaks for individuals like me to be able to write this off on my income tax and being able to shop across state lines, so I can go on the Internet tomorrow, tap in my age, my height, my weight, my health statistics, and find any insurer anywhere in the United States who's willing to cover me.

ZAHN: All right, Amy. I wish we had a split screen on Cenk's face when you said that. The minute that you rolled out the words "too much regulation," you had him laughing. Why are you so cynical about what she had to say?

CENK UYGUR, HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Well, actually the thing I was laughing at is her tax cuts idea. These days the Republicans think the answer to everything is tax cuts. Iraq, more tax cuts. Economy, tax cuts. Health care, tax cuts. If Martians landed, they'd say: what are we going to do President Bush, and he'd say: give them tax cuts.

If people don't have health insurance, what is tax -- a poor family that might not even be paying taxes, maybe they just got laid off in Pennsylvania or West Virginia, what's a tax cut going to do them? Their son needs to go to the hospital. Let's get them some health care. I mean, look, we've got 47 million uninsured, as you, talked about, and we're ranked 37th among all countries in health care and we're spending more than any other country in relationship to our GDP, so obviously we're doing something wrong and tax cuts aren't the answer.

ZAHN: Actually, the American public, Cenk, according to this latest poll thinks tax increases may be the answer. Look at this, this was done just last month and we asked people whether the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans even if it meant higher taxes. Sixty-four percent said they would favor such a plan. They say that, but at the end of the day, I wonder if they really mean that. What do you think?

JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think that they do mean that. I mean, when you look at the -- there was a poll by Americans for Healthcare that showed that 82 percent of people polled in the -- that are going to be primary voters, they believe that health care actually should be a right. Everybody knows that this system is broken. When you look at that 47 million, 74 percent of those folks are from working families. So, we are talking about people who are out there working, who are trying to reach the American dream. Yet they find themselves maybe one paycheck or one illness away from bankruptcy because they don't have insurance. And we can't go into tax cuts. I mean, this is a $660 billion industry, $660 billion in profit, executive salaries, and profit sharing. What we need to do is have a process by which Americans can get health care so that they don't have to stay up every night worrying, and the government has to step in and fix the system. We can't rely on the market.

ZAHN: Judith, I hear what you have to say, but Amy, you said tax cuts would be a joke in this case. That even tough it's a $660 billion-plus industry, you say it's still not profitable enough to cover the uninsured?

HOLMES: No, I didn't say that tax cuts would be a joke and in fact, I wasn't discussing tax cuts, I was discussing tax credits that you could write it off. And Republicans and conservatives and liberals, people on both sides of this issue are talking about how we can have a mix of public and private.

What Michael Moore is suggesting in his movie is that you can get a free lunch, that socialized health care in European countries is without flaw and without criticism. That simply isn't true. And even Canada's Supreme Court said that in Canada people are dying on the wait list and the Quebec system was unconstitutional.

You look at England, they canceled 50,000 surgeries per year. You have 850,000 people on the wait list, there. France is in a $15.6 billion deficit with their program and they have double digit unemployment. But I think that we can get together from both sides...

ZAHN: All right.

HOLMES: ...conservative and liberal and try to come up with a solution.

ZAHN: Your expression says it all, but I can only give you five seconds to close this off.

UYGUR: Well, this -- the socialized medicine, their putting out a false talking point, doesn't' make any sense. The Berlin Wall came down 16 years ago, their fighting the wrong fight.

ZAHN: Thank you, Cenk. Amy Holmes, sorry to change your tax credit into a tax cut. And Judith Brown-Dianis, thank you for your time, tonight. Appreciate you're all for joining us.

On to more politics, now. One of the Republican's top presidential candidates is sounding really upset these days. Why are people attacking his religion, even from within his own party?


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Clearly any derogatory comments about anyone's faith -- those comments are troubling, and the fact that they keep on coming up is even more troubling.


ZAHN: So, who is it that is attacking Romney's faith and why does it keep on happening? Wait until you see our next report. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Tonight, we have a new presidential poll to share with you. The survey by Opinion Research has Rudy Giuliani leading the Republican field, followed by former senator, Fred Thompson and then Senator John McCain. Former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney is a distant fourth. But, 11 percent in a national poll doesn't tell the whole story.

Romney's running first in the important early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa. And he has his own $350 million fortune to spend on votes. So, should it be surprising at all that some of his opponents are on the attack?

Well, tonight Dan Lothian brings "Out in the Open" how the other campaigns are trying to tear down Romney because he's a Mormon.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney had joked about how his faith once allowed polygamy.

ROMNEY: As a Mormon, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman.

LOTHIAN: But when rival Republican presidential candidates take a jab at his religion, these days, it's no laughing matter.

ROMNEY: Clearly any derogatory comments about anyone's faith -- those comments are troubling, and the fact that they keep on coming up is even more troubling.

LOTHIAN: He's talking about McCain, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Senator Sam Brownback attacking the Mormon Church.

(on camera): At a GOP gathering, the "Boston Globe" says McCain's Iowa campaign chairman discussed an article alleging that the Mormon Church helps fund the Hamas terrorist organization. The McCain official also drew comparisons between how the church and the Taliban treat women, according to the paper. Mormons deny both charges.

Then a Brownback staffer sent an e-mail. This copy obtained by CNN suggesting there's a difference between the Jesus Mormon's believe in and the Jesus of the Christians faith. Mormons also deny that.

And finally, from the Giuliani camp, another e-mail obtained by the "New York Sun" about the prospect of Romney fulfilling a Mormon prophecy to one day save the U.S. constitution.

(voice-over): Steven Crosby, a political analyst and dean at the University of Massachusetts, says playing the Mormon card to scare voters is a sign of desperation.

STEVEN CROSBY, DEAN, UNIV OF MASSACHUSETTS: Romney's getting a lot of traction. He's raised a ton of money. I don't think it's an orchestrated effort, but because he's a Mormon and people don't know what really know what Mormonism is, I think there's a lot of trial balloons. You know, if you get this out, does this undercut him? Kind of see how it plays. Apologize quickly, make sure it comes from a staffer.

LOTHIAN: In fact, the candidates have condemned the action of their aids. Giuliani and Brownback even apologized personally to Romney.

When we talked, before he got into the presidential race, the former Massachusetts governor told me his faith would come under attack, but he wasn't worried.

ROMNEY: Any misunderstanding or lack of understanding between faiths will evaporate as other people get to know the values of people of other faiths.

LOTHIAN: He may get some help from Ryan Bell, a young Mormon lawyer in Utah, who started this new blog to help clear things up.

RYAN BELL, FOUNDER, ROMNEYEXPERIENCE.COM: I understand there's a legitimate curiosity out there and people are entitled to understand what Mormons believe and what Mormons do. I hope to fill that void.

LOTHIAN: But political analysts say Romney will continue to face tough questions about Mormonism, especially since he, himself, already has been talking quite a lot about his faith.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


ZAHN: ...tactic among all these attacks on Romney's Mormonism...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we having problems with this?

ZAHN: ...all of them come from aides to the other candidates, never the candidates themselves and they're brushed off as mistakes. Or are they?

Let's see what our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has to say about this kind of campaigning.

So Candy, these campaigns wouldn't be doing this unless they thought they'd hurt Romney, right?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think we just have to be a little careful on, you know, the campaigns. The fact of the matter is that some of these were fairly low level aides doing this. What it does speak to, which you hinted at, is an underlying attempt, I think, to undercut Romney, here.

ZAHN: And how concerned should Romney be about that? If -- whether it was a low-level or high-level aide, the idea is to bring attention to his Mormonism. We've heard what three of these campaigns have had to say. You know, my god's different than your god and they're sort of painting Mormonism as an unusual faith.

CROWLEY: Well, there is an audience for this. One of the polls that we looked at recently showed about 30 percent of Republicans said, yes, they did have some qualms about voting for a Mormon. So, obviously, this is aimed at -- that's a huge number, if 30 percent of Republicans have to look twice because somebody is a Mormon.

So, this is something that the Romney campaign has known about all a long time. They prepared for it long before he announced his candidacy. They have thought that it would be a particular problem in the South and South Carolina. He has not, of late, really worked South Carolina, certainly as hard as he has Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now, he's leading in the polls so that tells you one thing about how tough this will be for him because he is getting some traction, here. Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, when he begins to go South, one has to wonder, and he has wondered, the campaign has wondered, whether this is going to hurt him, there.

ZAHN: But Candy, it strikes me, it's not just a challenge he as in the South. Take a look at this latest hotline poll of some 800 registered voters. It found that Americans have only a slightly more favorable view of Mormonism than Islam.

CROWLEY: Yes, and so and part of what the Romney campaign wants to do and what those around Romney are trying to do is begin to explain what Mormonism is, they believe that if the candidate, himself, can talk about shared values, that this will take some of the sting from those who look askance at the Mormonism. They have also felt that at some point, and probably not now, because they don't believe enough people are paying attention, in general, but perhaps sometime this fall that Mitt Romney would address this in some sort of speech to try to get it out of the way before those January caucuses and primaries start.

ZAHN: Well, we know that you you'll be staying on top for us. Candy Crowley, thanks. Appreciate your time, tonight.

CROWLEY: Sure. Thank you.

ZAHN: And right now we're going to move on to a quick Biz Break. Stocks lost ground today. The Dow fell eight, the Nasdaq dropped 11, the S&P lost four.

Directors of the World Bank have approved former trade representative Robert Zoellick as the bank's new president. For the record, my former mailman, Naperville, Illinois. He happens to be replacing Paul Wolfowitz who was forced out after a long embarrassing public fight over a raise he gave to his girlfriend.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales were basically flat last month, but home prices dropped 2.1 percent. That is the tenth straight monthly decline.

Right now we're about to visit a town on edge. Will another of its teenagers die? Are they making suicide plans on the Internet?


ZAHN: I can't imagine anything more painful for any parent than a child committing suicide. Sometimes you really never know why it happened, and you spend the rest of your life wondering what you could have done to stop it.

So, you can imagine the pain in a small town in Northern Ireland where there were three teenage suicides in three straight weekends, this month, but what is worse is that the fear that three of them are part of a suicide pact and that many more children may follow them. Diana Magnay has this chilling mystery for us, tonight.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Empty streets on Friday night in the Northern Ireland town of Tandragee. Parents too scared to let their kids out of sight. A palpable sense of dread, here that the tragedy that struck the first three weekends in June may be about to happen again.

According to all who knew them, Wayne Browne, James Topley, and Lee Walker, were all happy, normal 15-year-olds, and yet in three successive weekends, these boys, one-by-one took their own lives. Two of them using the same lamp post to hang themselves.

(on camera): All three boys were pupils at the Craigavon Senior High School, just behind me. They knew each other, they took the same school bus together in the mornings. And two of them are believed to have attended the funeral of Wayne Browne before they, too, took their own lives.

(voice-over): Lee Walker's father, Tony, led the precession at his son's funeral, last Monday. He spoke of the horror of finding his boy, who'd hanged himself at home from his bunk bed.

TONY WALKER, LEE'S FATHER: I held my son for three hours before (INAUDIBLE), the undertaker come to take him away. I still didn't want to let go. I didn't cry. I bawled. The tears running down my face. And I didn't want to let him go. And when the undertaker come, I says, Len, "You take good care of him."

MAGNAY: Hardly a moment goes by without a fresh visitor to Lee's grave. Pain etched on the faces of everyone I meet.

ARLENE HANRATTY, LOCAL RESIDENT: It's unbelievable, it has to stop. It has to stop. You know, it's not just me, I'm sure everybody's nerves is completely wrecked worrying about their child, who's you know, which (ph) one is next. It's just absolutely terrible.

MAGNAY: That is the real fear among residents, here. Are there more suicides to come? Most were reluctant to talk about the rumors going around. I spoke to one young mother who chose not to show her face.

She said there are rumors of a list, somewhere on the Internet, with names of who would be next.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's about 13 names on it and I heard that a few people I know was on it and I confirmed with them and said they weren't on it at all, it was just rumors, but there's talk of this list...

MAGNAY (on camera): And what else is said about this list?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just, that it's like a pact thing and there's dates and stuff of when each and every person has to do it by.

MAGNAY (voice-over): The boys left no notes. Their families may never know why they chose to end their lives this way. This weekend passed without incident, but there will be many tense weekends to come before people here can finally lay their fears to rest and allow themselves to grieve.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Tandragee, Northern Ireland.


ZAHN: Terrible.

We're going to take a short break and we'll be back.


ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us, and we hope you drop by same place same time tomorrow night. Until then, have a great night. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.


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