Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Senator Barack Obama; Midwest Faces Worst Flooding in 100 Years; Warner Calls for Troop Withdrawal

Aired August 23, 2007 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A good man with a difficult job, that's President Bush's view of Iraq's prime minister. And a new U.S. intelligence report agrees with the difficult part.
Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Don Lemon is on assignment in South Carolina.

And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We top the hour with more on the scaffolding incident there at the Deutsche Bank -- former Deutsche Bank site there near the World Trade Center site.

Fredricka Whitfield has been following details on this developing story for us.

Fred, what more do we know?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, we understand that the two firefighters that have been injured in this latest incident are dealing with non-life-threatening injuries, and there may be two or maybe even as many as three construction workers who were also injured in this scaffolding accident there at the Deutsche Bank.

You're looking at video right now of the first-responders there on the scene. We still don't know exactly why this scaffolding accident took place, what the circumstances were, or even how high it may have been on this building. But, as you mentioned, there at the Deutsche Bank there have been some debris removal and other work that has been carried out on this building for some time.

And now this accident taking place just four days after a deadly fire at that same address there on Liberty Street over the weekend, where two firefighters were killed, one of whom was buried today during funeral services. So, it's been a tough go-round for the folks there in Lower Manhattan, particularly to the first-responders, who are now on the scene of yet another accident at this same address -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we will keep following up. Fred, thanks so much.

Our other top story -- torrential rains have caused flooding across the Midwest, also mudslides. One wiped out a couple's dream home and almost took the lives of two people. CNN's Keith Oppenheim has that story from Brownsville, Minnesota.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing on a hillside where the rain came down and along with it, a whole lot of mud, and that mud took this house that you see as I'm walking down this hillside, this house, a good 150 feet off its foundation. It's the home of Lynn and Sharon Partington.

Sharon and her grandson were inside when this happened a couple of days ago. And they were rescued by her husband, Lynn. We spoke to Sharon a little while ago, and she gave us a sense of how scared she was as she was looking for her grandson after the house had tumbled down the hill.

SHARON PARTINGTON, RESCUED FROM MUDSLIDE: And his bed, I finally found it under there and he wasn't in it. And I was so scared that we had lost him. And then I heard his voice outside the window. And I screamed, Austin. Where's Austin? And he said, I have got him. He's safe.

And then he worked on saving me.

OPPENHEIM: And got you out?

PARTINGTON: Yes, he's my hero. He saved us both.

OPPENHEIM: Back now with a view of the Mississippi River, the great view that the Partingtons had. They don't believe they will be able to live here anymore. They have had equipment here that's been taking away this house piece by piece. So, in a sense, the house has still been on the move.

But the tough thing for them is that their insurance policy did not include mudslides. So, they may very well be reliant on federal and state aid.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Brownsville, Minnesota.



PHILLIPS: Well, what's left of Hurricane Dean is drenching Mexico's high mountains. Up to 20 inches of rain could fall and floods and mudslides could follow. Eight years ago, rains like that killed 350 people. And CNN has confirmed three deaths from Dean's two strikes on Mexico.

President Felipe Calderon is taking stock of the damage along Mexico's Gulf Coast. He's also flown over the Yucatan, where information is still dribbling in from dozens of inland villages.

Sizzling in the Deep South still -- temperatures once again are climbing toward 100 degrees and no rain to speak of in sight. The month-long heat is blamed for at least 50 deaths from Missouri to the Carolinas. In Tennessee some schools are in session only half a day. And in Ohio where there's no such thing as heat days, some school districts are closing schools and using snow days instead.

U.S. intelligence keeps a close eye on Iraq, the security situation, the political situation, and today its latest report went public. It looks like a report card -- well, that's sort of not really the bad way to look at it.

CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre attended the release of that report. He actually talked to some of the individuals who wrote it.

Jamie, tell us what you learned.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a report card, Kyra. It's not a very good one. It's hard to find even a glimmer of silver lining in what is this dark cloud of the national intelligence estimate.

I mean, the key findings are is that violence remains high. Al Qaeda continues to have the ability to carry out attacks. The Iraqi government is unable to govern effectively. Iraqi security forces have not improved enough to act on their own. All of those are getting failing grades.

And the prospect for the future isn't much better. It projects continued high violence and for the Iraqi government to continue to struggle. And we all know that's the key to the U.S. strategy for getting out of Iraq. It does find that there has been -- quote -- "a measurable, but uneven progress" on the security front.

But part of that, it concludes, is because Iraqis have decided that the U.S. is going to be leaving sooner or later. And that's resulting in two things, some of the Sunni groups banding together against al Qaeda and also the potential for increased violence between various factions in Iraq. A very mixed picture with the emphasis on the downward trends at this point, but the report also concludes that changing the mission for U.S. troops would only make things worse, because it says it's the combination of going after the insurgents with U.S. forces and the -- the political situation as well that's combining to make what little progress they have -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Bottom line, what does this report do and how can it change the dynamics of the war? Because we know, Jamie, we're waiting for General Petraeus to come out with his report in September. Obviously, he's running operations there in Iraq, so you know what that effect -- or what that report could do. But how does this play into how it can change the dynamic of the war?

MCINTYRE: Well, I think it sets the stage from what you are going to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker when they testify before Congress. Their views will also be incorporated into the administration's report.

And that is that there are some positive signs and that changing the mission, moving U.S. troops out right now, could make things worse. I think that's the message you're going to hear. And you may not see this, but one of the things you can look at is what's going on in the southern part of Iraq, where the British have pulled back troops and turned over many things to the Iraqis. We have seen there, even though it's a southern area that's mostly Shia, that the rival factions there have begun going after each other with an increased level of violence.

And that's one of the things they worry about. The bottom line is that this surge is probably going to continue through March and April, when the troop deployments will run out. And then that will be the real decision point about what the U.S. is going to do next. But I think you are going to see in this report, again, another plea for more time.

PHILLIPS: Chief Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- thanks, Jamie.

And to read the report for yourself, just go to There you are going to find a link with key conclusions from the national intelligence estimate. It's at

Straight ahead, a harmless sketch or a worrisome warning sign? A student's doodle causes oodles of trouble -- that story later in the newsroom.

And one woman's son was convicted of plotting it. The other woman's son died when it was carried out. Now two mothers are bound by the losses of 9/11. If they can find reconciliation, can others? We will have that straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: On the campaign trail today with Senator Barack Obama in South Carolina. He's addressing an audience now, addressing media. He spoke with teachers and administrators here. Very pointed questions. We will have a live report, coming up, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, back to the Midwest flooding now. As the water recedes across Wisconsin, the state begins adding up the losses in dollars and cents, and it's already more than $38 million and climbing.

Reporter Sean Lewis with affiliate CLTV is surveying the damage in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Sean, what have you seen?

SEAN LEWIS, CLTV REPORTER: Kyra, we're about a couple miles north of the Illinois state line into Wisconsin, about a quarter mile, in fact, from the normal banks of the Fox River. It has taken over this neighborhood, though.

You can see this yellow house here. I just talked with the owners not that long ago. This yellow house now has about six inches of water up to the basement area of the home. They say in 20 years they have never seen anything like this before.

If we can pan over to the left here, there's actually -- we don't know if this came before or after the flood, but there's a slow no- wake buoy right alongside the side of the road, very prevalent for right now, because as you have cars trying to get through this roadway, there's actually a wake that has kicked up and it's causing some concerns for these homeowners who haven't sandbagged.

Speaking of, if we can come over here, we have sandbagging going on right now. This home is in danger of having water come up to the basement foundation. We have neighbors helping out here. Neighbors helping neighbors, that's the way it is up in these parts.

So, they will hopefully be able to get those sandbags in place before the end of tonight, because we are expecting to have even more rain coming in over the next few days. We have rain forecasted for tonight, rain forecasted for tomorrow, then a drying period through the weekend. So, we will see. It's sunny right now, but the rain is expected to be coming -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Sean Lewis there in Kenosha, Wisconsin -- thanks, Sean.

Let's check back in on how Barack Obama is doing on his campaign swing through South Carolina.

Our Don Lemon just taped an exclusive interview with the Democratic presidential hopeful.

Don, how did it go?

LEMON: Not yet. We haven't taped it yet, Kyra.


PHILLIPS: Oh. I got bad intel. I apologize. He's actually speaking behind you.

LEMON: You got some bad information.

PHILLIPS: Yes. He's speaking behind you right now, right?

LEMON: Yes. There he is. And I'm sure he's going to yell at me if I continue to interrupt him, because it's a very small room, Kyra. But, you know, you're good on the golf course, right? Am I correct?

PHILLIPS: Well, you know, it's...

LEMON: Are you pretty good? Yes.

PHILLIPS: It's here and there. I'm going to talk low, too, because I don't want people to hear me bragging about my horrible golf game.

LEMON: OK. We will keep it quiet. And I'm a pretty good swimmer. And we run together. We have gone for runs and stuff together.

PHILLIPS: That's right. You have smoked me on a run.


LEMON: But how about basketball, right? The senator is supposedly a really good basketball player. He came here to the school just a short time ago. We always hear about his athletic prowess as well. He's a smart guy. But check this out.

So, he comes here to the school. He's touring the facility. And there you go.

PHILLIPS: Not bad.

LEMON: Not bad, eh?



LEMON: Not bad, yes.


PHILLIPS: OK, now, Don, check it out. He's doing the walk. He's doing the -- that's right. Look at him. He's doing the walk.

LEMON: You know what? That's his -- Senator -- there he is. We're trying to get him. He's like, what am I doing first?

Say hello. We're on live now.



LEMON: Did you see the jumper? Come on. Give me two seconds.

PHILLIPS: Come on, Senator.

LEMON: Come on over here. We're live on CNN.

PHILLIPS: There we go. Excellent.

Tell him we want to talk about that basketball shot.


LEMON: We want to talk about that basketball shot. I'm on with Kyra Phillips, and we're live in the NEWSROOM. We want to talk about that.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Kyra, I just want to point out, I had no warmups.


OBAMA: That was on a dare. People were skeptical.


OBAMA: First shot, straight through.

PHILLIPS: You know, it was a pretty impressive swish.


OBAMA: That's how you perform under pressure.

LEMON: You got skills.

OBAMA: I have got skills.

LEMON: Yes. I'm going to let you go. I realize you're coming over here. And we're going to talk to you a little bit later on. But thank you for coming over.

And education is very important. We want to put that on our agenda.

OBAMA: And we want to talk about that gymnasium, which was about 100 degrees. And that's where kids here not only have to do their physical ed activities, but it's also where the principals and the teachers have to meet with the children every morning.


OBAMA: It was built in 1926.

LEMON: Right.

OBAMA: And it's an indication of how we have got to invest more in school construction all across the country.

LEMON: Now, I'm going to leave this up to you. Do you want to go do your thing and come back to us? Or do you want to finish it now? It's up to you.

OBAMA: You know, why don't I -- why don't I find out? I think I need to come out.


OBAMA: But I will be right back.

LEMON: All right.

OBAMA: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator.

So, there you go, Kyra. I mean, what more do you need to say? So, he's going to come out, and we are going to do an interview with him. Again, he's got skills.

But, seriously, what we're here to talk about today is education. We always do lip service. Your mother is an educator. Several people in my family, my aunts both teachers. And we always hear about improving schools and what have you, and very little gets done once the candidates are finished talking about it or they get elected into office. At least that's what the feel is inside, people who have to deal with education.

But I want to -- I want to play some sound -- or play a sound bite of what the senator talked about. He said, we're wasting a lot of money on Iraq, a lot of money in places where we shouldn't be wasting it, and we should be putting that money into education.

Let's take a listen to what he had to say when he met with those 10 people who are administrators and teachers here just a short time ago.


OBAMA: We have got to make sure that there are resources that flow from those priorities. And, right now, that is not what Washington is doing. We are spending a lot of money on a war in Iraq. We are building schools in Baghdad.

We have lost a lot of revenue from tax cuts to individuals that didn't need them and weren't even asking for. And our infrastructure generally has suffered.


LEMON: Now, we're here in South Carolina in the Dillon School District. And this school district has been dubbed the corridor of shame.

And the senator's quote says, "There are few more powerful symbols of what's wrong with our educational system than this school district."

And you heard him talk about the situation, the dire need for money here for the facilities, for the structure, and also money for the teachers. They also talked about the teachers here.

You can go to a school district, you know, just a couple miles away and make $20,000 to $30,000 more. So, they're having trouble attracting and keeping teachers here. So, that's just some of the problems they are facing with education. We are going to have a much longer interview with the senator, talk to him not only about education, but some of the more timely things that are having to do with the war, having to do with the gloves coming off with the Democratic candidates, and just about everything that's happening in the news.

So, we're going to -- as soon as he's done with the rest of the folks -- we sort of stole him away -- we are going to bring him back. That was a pretty good shot, don't you think?

PHILLIPS: Oh, I was going to say, he can brag about his skills with the three-point swish there. OK, obviously, you know, he can play some basketball. But I know you are going to ask him the tough questions as well.


PHILLIPS: He's been receiving a lot of heat on various issues as he travels throughout the country. You know, he and Hillary Clinton, we have watched the debates.


PHILLIPS: And she's doing better than he is in a number of places.

So, what else are you going to address with him on a serious note, Don? Obviously, a lot about education. But I know you have got a number of tough questions for him.

LEMON: Yes, as I said, we're going to talk about education. We're also going to talk about the gloves coming off.

I mean, you know, Ronald Reagan says you don't criticize a fellow Republican. That was sort of the -- what he -- the agenda for Republicans when he was in office. And the senator seems to be taking that same sort of stance when it comes to Democrats, not really trying to criticize his opponents. But it appears, as I said, the gloves are coming off.

We are also going to talk about the controversy around his wife making remarks, saying that, how can you run the White House if you can't run your own house? What exactly did that mean? They said it was misconstrued. We are going to talk about that.

So, there are lots of things we are going to discuss with the senator, pointed questions. But we're going to be tough, but we're going to be fair in these questions.

So, you will get to see it in just a little bit. But I'm just excited that he came over and talked to us, especially after making that shot. Maybe he can help me out on the basketball court. I'm not -- you know what? I'm not a typical brother. I'm talking to you (INAUDIBLE) I talked to you. I'm not very good at basketball, Kyra.


PHILLIPS: It's OK. You have plenty of other talents.

Don Lemon, we look forward to the interview.

LEMON: I'm not black enough when it comes to basketball.


PHILLIPS: Oh, there you go. Obviously, you don't have to address that to Senator Barack Obama.


PHILLIPS: We saw his skills on the court there.

All right. We will see you in a little bit.

LEMON: See you in a bit.

PHILLIPS: Look forward to that interview. Thanks, Don.

Well, coming next month, Web chats with the candidates. MySpace and MTV are teaming up to engage young voters by hooking them up with White House contenders. Eleven hour-long discussions are in the works. And each will involve a single candidate answering questions via e-mail, instant-messaging, and texts.

Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain are on the board, as are Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and others.

Well, a recall on baby carrots -- details straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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


PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to the NEWSROOM.

Fredricka Whitfield working details on a developing story -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, Kyra, it seems the recalls keep coming, this time involving baby carrots, so check your refrigerators, people, if you have got the brand called the Los Angeles Salad Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots. And apparently many of these were distributed in Kroger stores, Kroger Company, King Sooper in Colorado, Kroger in -- Ralph's in California, Publix in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida.

And all of these packages were sold in those flexible plastic bags in seven- and eight-ounce sizes with a sell-by date of up to and including August 16, 2007. You also may notice that the label could be Trader Joe's Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots," distributed by Trader Joe's in Arizona, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State, in seven-ounce plastic bags as well, with a sell-by date code up to August 8, 2007.

Well, it's believed that these baby carrots may be contaminated with shigella, which is a bacteria in close relation to E. coli, as well as salmonella. So, you need to make a return, discontinue eating them, or dispose of them. Be on the safe side -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, your little cutie-pie isn't eating those carrots, right? WHITFIELD: No, but I just ate a handful of carrots last night. He does like carrots. So, now I got to check the label.




WHITFIELD: What can we eat anymore?

PHILLIPS: I'll tell you what. I know.

WHITFIELD: I'm getting a little annoyed with these food recalls.

PHILLIPS: And we have got to watch it when it comes from China as well.


PHILLIPS: All right, thank you so much, Fred.


PHILLIPS: The Midwest becomes the mud-West, thanks to the worst flooding in nearly a century. And it's not over yet. I am going to speak to the governor of Ohio on details of an expanding disaster in his state.

That's next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Chad Myers reporting 100 mile per hour winds near Chicago.

What's going on -- Chad?


PHILLIPS: You know, we've been talking throughout the day about this National Intelligence Estimate expressing a lack of confidence in the Iraqi government.

Well, I'm just being told Senator John Warner, Republican, and, also, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat, took a trip to Iraq. They've been briefing reporters now.

Our Dana Bash joining us live from the Hill -- Dana, did he talk about the National Intelligence Estimate or just about his trip to Iraq, or did he combine the two?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he talked about both, Kyra.

But we have a significant development here when it comes to Senator John Warner, one of the most influential Republicans when it comes to Iraq.

In this press conference, which, as you see, is just going on, he just announced that he is calling on the president to announce on September 15th to start bringing the troops home from Iraq, to initiate a troop deployment from Iraq.

This is a huge development when it comes to the political debate over Iraq because Senator Warner, as I said, is incredibly influential. And he did, as you say, just return from Iraq. And he just briefed senior officials at the White House about his trip and apparently told them that he was going to make this announcement, to try to push the president to start to bringing troops home.

In fact, take a listen to what Senator Warner said.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I think no clearer form of that than if the president were to announce on the 15th that in consultation with our senior military commanders, he's decided to initiate the first step in the withdrawal of our forces.

I say to the president, respectfully, pick whatever number you wish. You do not want to lose the momentum, but certainly 160,000 plus -- say 5,000, could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.


BASH: Now, Senator Warner says what his goal is in making this announcement is essentially that it is time, he said, for the United States not just to talk about the kind of pressure that they want to put on the Iraqi government -- the political process there -- but to actually show the Iraqis that the U.S. means it, to, "get everyone's attention."

And he says the only way he's determined that the U.S. can really get the Iraqis' attention is for the president, the commander-in- chief, to announce, you know, what, I'm going to start bringing troops home.

Again, as you heard he was very careful not to recommend or proscribe the number of troops that would start coming home. And he said that he would leave that up to the president. And he was also careful to say that he is not somebody who supports a hard and fast deadline or a time line for withdrawal.

But, nevertheless, just for somebody of John Warner's stature, somebody who has just returned from Iraq, getting briefings from the Iraqi government, from U.S. military commanders on the ground, for him to come back and say, you know what, Mr. President, it's time for you to say troops need to start coming home, this is really significant when it comes to the Iraq political debate. And it certainly will set off a whole new round of discussion when it comes to where the Republican Party is and where the president is when it comes to Iraq -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: And we'll definitely see if the president listens and if he takes action.

Dana Bash live from the Hill.

BASH: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: They both lost sons in 9/11. One was killed in the attacks, the one was convicted. Yet Phyllis Rodriguez chose to meet the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui. An unlikely friendship was forged and now Robert Wolf of CNN affiliate News 12 Westchester brings us the story.


ROBERT WOLF, NEWS 12 CORRESPONDENT: Phyllis Rodriguez of White Plains and Aicha El-Wafa sitting side by side at a luncheon in their honor -- two women who are now friends, but when they first met...

PHYLLIS RODRIGUEZ, LOST SON ON 9/11: We embraced and wept as two mothers who felt for each other's suffering.

WOLF: Rodriguez lost her son, 31-year-old Greg Rodriguez, in the World Trade Center on 9/11. El-Wafa is the mother of the only man convicted for that the crime, Zacarias Moussaoui. He is serving a life sentence. Both were brought together by the Westpac Foundation (ph) in White Plains, which promotes peaceful solutions to world problems.

El-Wafa, speaking in French, says both their losses are sometimes too much to bear.

AICHA EL-WAFA, MOTHER OF ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): They're both mothers who have lost their children, one to death, the other to perpetual prison.

WOLF: Rodriguez says a year after the attacks, she was asked if she, as a family member of a victim, wanted to meet the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui. She said yes.

RODRIGUEZ: The normal expectation is that if something terrible has been done to you or a loved one, that you would want revenge. And this illustrates the opposite, that there are people who feel that -- that continuing the cycle of violence is a huge mistake.

WOLF: El-Wafa has written a book about her experiences and says her reconciliation with Rodriguez was a natural response.

EL-WAFA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): It's the sadness of 9/11 that has brought them together in friendship.

RODRIGUEZ: I can only say that this felt right for me. I do not impose it on anyone else and I hope that more of a dialogue in our nation will open up to discuss these issues of reconciliation and forgiveness.

WOLF: In White Plains, Robert Wolf, News 12. (END VIDEO TAPE)

PHILLIPS: Torrential rains, overflowing rivers -- parts of Ohio are seeing the worst flooding in element a century.

Governor Ted Strickland has seen it firsthand.

He joins us from the flooded out city of Findlay right now.

Governor, I understand you just finished touring with the head of FEMA, the of Homeland Security.

Tell me what you saw and how has it made an impact on what you're going to do.

GOV. TED STRICKLAND, OHIO: Well, we did do the tour with the secretary and the director of FEMA.

What we saw were businesses that had been devastated, homes that had been destroyed. We saw a lot of people who had been forced out of their homes, having lost all that they have. And, you know, we're trying to do everything we can in the immediate circumstance to make sure that people are safe and that they have a secure place to stay with adequate food.

But beginning this weekend, we will do an assessment of the damage and I will be asking the federal government for assistance as we try to get these people back on their feet.

PHILLIPS: How soon, governor, could those individuals get money, get funds to start rebuilding?

As you said, so many people have lost everything.

STRICKLAND: Well, certain people with certain economic needs will be able to access cash assistance very quickly. I'm talking within a few days. We will do the assessment of all the communities across Ohio. And many communities, nine counties, probably 30 or more communities, have been affected. Thousands of people out of their homes.

And so we will do that assessment over the weekend. I will immediately then request that the president give us the federal assistance that I think is appropriate and we will begin the process of cleaning up, helping people get back to their homes, helping small businesses recover.

It will take a while. But we must begin that process immediately. And it is my hope that within the next few days, and certainly within the next few weeks, we can help this community and other communities recover.

PHILLIPS: So, governor, this is the worst flooding in nearly 100 years.

STRICKLAND: That's right. PHILLIPS: Have you been able to figure out or investigate structurally what has gone wrong, and if you will be able to attack that, as well, so you won't see flooding like this again?

STRICKLAND: Well, Mother Nature was not kind to us. About nine inches of rain fell in about a 24-hour period of time, and that's highly unusual. And so that's the major problem.

There are other problems, obviously, that we will work on, structural problems. But the major problem was a decision of Mother Nature to pour large amounts of water on this region and other regions across our country in a very short period of time. And the fact is that the creeks and the streams just were not prepared to deal with that. And so, in a quick period of time, this community and other communities were devastated. People were rescued from their homes by boat. People were taken off the top of buildings by the Coast Guard in boats.

The good news is that, at this point, there has only been one individual who has lost life as a result of this flood. And that's rather amazing, given the breadth and the depth of this destruction here throughout our state.

PHILLIPS: Governor, I want to ask you, also, we were reading in the local paper there in Findlay about these gauges, these new gauges to warn cities about floods. Apparently the city council there has voted to recommend to buy this system. It's a system that would be an early warning system for flooding there on the Blanchard River and other rivers. It could provide city officials with 12 to 18 hours of warning before flooding occurs.

Can you tell me if you're going to be able to help get the funding for that or get that going for the people there in Findlay?

STRICKLAND: Well, that certainly will be a part of our consideration, as we look at the total picture. Findlay is just one community. And I think we need to try to devise a system that could be used by all of our communities. It will be costly. When we do it, we will seek federal assistance to be able to do that. But having appropriate warning is absolutely necessary.

But, I return to the theme of Mother Nature. When we receive eight to nine inches of rain in a 24-hour period, it is difficult to predict that. And I think that would have made it very difficult for us to have understood what was happening, even if we had had an early warning system in place.

PHILLIPS: Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.

I know it's a tough time for you.

I appreciate your time, sir.

STRICKLAND: Well, thank you for your concern. And, you know, we Buckeyes are hardy people and we're pulling together and we're going to get through this. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: That is true. If you've been to any sports game there, that is so true.

Sir, thank you.

Well, a harmless sketch or a worrisome warning sign -- a student's doodle causes oodles of trouble. We'll explain. We'll have that story in THE NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, tens of thousands of you have come to aid of a doctor in Southern Arizona who is giving medical care for free to street kids who have no one else to turn to.

His name is Dr. Randy Christianson, a CNN Hero. And because of you, he has been able to expand his work. He's now able to travel the streets of Tempe and Phoenix full-time in two health mobiles, instead of one.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 10 years old I decided I'm going to run away from home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been on the streets from 12 till 20.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's scary to live on the streets. There's so many drugs and there's violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sleep in an abandoned house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was taken away from my parents when I was like 10 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad dropped me off at a dumpster. He told me don't even think about coming back home.

DR. RANDY CHRISTENSEN: There are as many as 5,000 to 10,000 kids on the streets of Arizona. We turn our heads, we don't look at them in their eyes. Many of the kids are truly forgotten.

I'm Dr. Randy Christensen. I'm the medical director for the Cruisin' Healthmobile. We take care of kids on the streets through a medical mobile van. Everything that would be in a regular doctor's office is on the van. All the kids that are seen by us are seen free of charge.

Did you need anything? Did you need a new backpack?

I've never really been about the money. I went to medical school thinking that I was going to be a surgeon, but everything that made me stop and think had to do with children and adolescents. I chose to come out on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Christensen, he makes it to where people actually want to come back and actually want to get help.

CHRISTENSEN: We pull up in the van and within five to 10 minutes, there's 20 or 30 kids coming out of every different alley or different street. You get out there and you see some of these kids and you talk to them and you give them a little bit of dignity and respect and all of a sudden they open up. It's like a light bulb goes on and they want to talk and they want tell you their story.

I think you might have is a pneumonia. Take a deep breath.

They still have that gleam of hope in their eyes. It's that hope that gives you hope.


CHRISTENSEN: And at the very end, they give you a big hug and they say, thank you. And that means the most to me.


PHILLIPS: Well, if you'd like to make a contribution to the organizations that support Dr. Randy Christensen, you'll find links to their Web sites on ours, at, where you can also nominate a hero of your own. Selected winners will be honored during a live global broadcast on December 6th, hosted by our own Anderson Cooper.

3:48 Eastern time. Here are some of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A scaffolding collapsed just a short time ago at the site of last Saturday's deadly fire near New York's ground zero. Two firefighters were injured in today's mishap as they removed debris from Saturday's blaze. The Saturday fire at the abandoned Deutsche Bank building killed two New York firefighters.

Rivers are still rising in the Midwest after a deadly series of storms. More than 1,000 people have been flooded out of their homes in Ohio.

And a U.S. national intelligence estimate raises doubt doubts about Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. It says that Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively.

Chad Myers following those major winds in Chicago.


PHILLIPS: You actually -- you said -- where did you say, it was, just south of Chicago?

(WEATHER REPORT) PHILLIPS: Gridiron gumption -- he's one bad granddad, 59-years- old and ready to play college football. We'll tell you his story ahead in THE NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Just about every school boy doodles in class from time to time. A junior high school student in Mesa, Arizona has suspended, though, because of what he doodled.

Reporter Nicole Beyer of CNN affiliate KNXV has the story.


PAULA MOSTELLER, SUSPENDED BOY'S MOTHER: He feels horrible about this. He's devastated.

NICOLE BEYER, KNXV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paula Mosteller says her 13-year-old son was suspended Monday after the district says he was drawing guns on his homework in his eighth grade science class at Payne Junior High School in Queen Creek.

MOSTELLER: If you really looked at it, I mean I can see where -- I can see where you might interpret it as a gun.

BEYER: Since the school district is keeping the original drawing in the boy's student record, his mom had to draw copies. Off camera, he tells us, he was trying to draw a laser gun.

MOSTELLER: If it was a gun with a stain under it that was threatening, like I'm going to kill you or I'm going to get you or something like that, that would be a reason for concern.

BEYER: But this mom sells her son did no such thing. And when her husband went to the school to object, she says he was told schools are treating situations like this differently after Columbine. She says the school district did, however, agree to drop the suspension from five days down to three days.

MOSTELLER: He was just kind of doodling and not even really thinking about what he was drawing.

BEYER: The problem is, she says, school districts shouldn't be allowed to overreact when there is no proven threat.

MOSTELLER: Without any real cause, without a threat, you could be persecuted.


PHILLIPS: Well, despite the shorter suspension, the Mostellers are still upset. They say the school district made their son feel like he had committed a crime.

Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

He's standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour -- hi, Wolf.


Thanks very much.

We have some breaking news we're following. A top Republican breaks with the White House on a troop withdrawal. He wants a time line. That would be Senator John Warner. He wants to start bringing troops home by Christmas.

The rhetoric, meanwhile, is getting rough on the Democratic campaign trail. Wait until you hear what John Edwards is now saying about Senator Hillary Clinton.

The brand new National Intelligence Estimate isn't just talking about the war in Iraq. We'll tell you what it says about another trouble spot -- Iran.

And would women go to college to learn about housework?

We'll take you to a religious school that's offering very different courses for men and for women.

All that, plus, Don Lemon's interview with Barack Obama, Kyra, coming up, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

PHILLIPS: Yes, we're looking forward to that.

Did you ever take home ec in school, Wolf?

BLITZER: No, but I took all sorts of other courses, but not home ec. In my day, we took -- you had printing, mechanical stuff. We had all sorts of good stuff going.


But you're a good cook anyway.


PHILLIPS: OK. Wolf Blitzer...


PHILLIPS: We'll see you at 4:00.

BLITZER: Very bad.


Wolf Blitzer coming up at 4:00. The closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street just before that. Stay with us.


PHILLIPS: Well, prior to his senior year, Mike Flint got kicked off his college football team for fighting. That was 37 years ago. Now, Flint is back at 59, hoping for one more season of gridiron glory.

He's suiting up this season for Sul Ross State University in West Texas and he's going to be the oldest college football player on record. But he says a lifetime of weight training and physical fitness have prepared him. Flint says he's never gotten over missing his senior year and now he gets to do something about it.

Well, Susan Lisovicz, we all believe in second chances, right?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We believe in following our dreams.

And with that, Kyra, I want to tell you about somebody from the rank and file. Our outgoing business producer, Anthony Forsenito (ph), is going to teach public school in New York City.

In two weeks, he'll be teaching second grade, Kyra. Talk about the parallels between TV news and grammar school.

PHILLIPS: Hey, he's -- I was going to say, he's moving up. He's moving up from us.

LISOVICZ: You know, difficult talent, getting your work right on time, playing nice with others. He's been asking us, Kyra, to call him Mr. Forsenito. We can't quite go there yet, but we wish him the best of luck.


PHILLIPS: I've got to say, Anthony, good luck to Anthony.

Thanks, Susan.

Now let's go to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."