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Barack and Oprah; Growing Outrage over Destroyed CIA Tapes; Shoppers Return to Omaha Mall
Aired December 8, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN, ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're working on several developing stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. In just 30 minutes, Barack Obama shares the stage with one of the world's most powerful and influential celebrities, Oprah Winfrey. We will take you live to Iowa.
And the tale of the tape. This hour we are following the growing outrage over the destruction of CIA videos that show Al Qaeda suspects under interrogation.
And in Nebraska, moving forward, crowds returned to the mall where a gunman opened fire just days before.
Let's start right now in Des Moines, Iowa, and CNN's Candy Crowley. Candy, Oprah Winfrey is starting a three-state tour with her presidential pick of Barack Obama. (inaudible) A little noisy there. How will her star power play out in these political states?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN, SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this will be really interesting. As you can tell by looking behind me, she can draw a crowd. So, we probably already knew that. The fact of the matter is, this is exactly what the Obama campaign had in mind. Bring them in and let Barack Obama try to appeal to them. We have a little three weeks to go before the caucuses and right now behind me what they are doing is having a mock talk to try about how they're going to focus on January 3rd because it's sort of a busy process. So, you know, this is all, you know, part of the plan here is to get all of these people in one room and make the case for Barack Obama. People will say directly, Oprah likes Barack Obama, therefore I'm going to vote for him? That's kind of doubtful. But what is certain is there are people on the fence and this is a good chance to talk to them. This is a free media. There are scores of people here in this room. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Candy Crowley, thanks so much. We will work on that audio so we can hear you a little bit more clear a little bit later on as we get into that event. Thanks so much.
So, what exactly does Oprah Winfrey have to say about Barack Obama? Well, you can hear for yourself right from the source. We will be bringing that to you, that rally live to you from Des Moines in just under half hour when Oprah Winfrey takes the stage there, along with Barack Obama.
Meantime, if Mike Huckabee's campaign staff seemed a little giddy today, a new "Newsweek" poll just might explain why. It suggested Huckabee has 18 percentage points on Mitt Romney in Iowa. That's among voters likely to attend a republican caucus. Nearly every other poll like this recent one by the American Research Group suggests that Huckabee and Romney are statistically tied in Iowa. Only future surveys will show if the "Newsweek" poll is a blip or a trend.
Several members of congress demanded it and just a while ago, the U.S. justice department and the CIA came back with an answer. There will indeed be an investigation into the spy agency destroying some controversial videotapes. They showed two Al Qaeda suspects being interrogated back in 2002. And CNN's Gary Nuremberg is tracking this developing story from Washington. Gary.
GARY NUREMBERG, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon, Fredricka. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Weinstein sent this letter to the CIA earlier today saying the Department of Justice will work with internal CIA investigators to determine the facts. CIA Director Michael Hayden says he welcomes the inquiry.
NUREMBERG (voice-over): A former intelligence official tells CNN the CIA's top lawyer, John Rizzo and then CIA Director Porter Goss, both opposed the destruction of videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects and did not learn of that destruction until after the fact. The White House said Friday President Bush was unaware.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday.
NUREMBERG: Two senior administration officials tell CNN that then White House deputy chief of staff Harriet Miers told the CIA in 2003 or 2004 not to destroy the tapes, which were made after the president approved severe interrogation techniques. In a letter to CIA employees, Director Michael Hayden said leaders of congressional oversight committee at the time were told the tapes had been destroyed but some of those leaders say the CIA didn't tell them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been ignored repeatedly in our effort to get full information.
NUREMBERG: A congressional hearing could begin within days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not getting the full story, hence the reason why there should be an investigation.
NUREMBERG: Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Saturday, the destruction of the tapes could be damaging.
JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What does that do? That confirms suspicions of people who are enemies that we engage in, in interrogation techniques which are illegal.
RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR OF "INSIDE THE CIA": It creates the specter of the CIA out of control and sort of a rogue agency.
NUREMBERG: Ronald Kessler is author of "Inside the CIA" and "The Terrorist Watch Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack." He favors harsh interrogation techniques.
KESSLER: There's no question these tapes should have been destroyed. People are dismayed. At the same time these techniques are something that worked and were approved by congress and that were needed to protect us.
NUREMBERG: The announcement by the CIA and Justice Department of the joint inquiry was just the first step in determining whether a full Justice Department investigation will take place. As you know, Fredricka, several members of congress said yesterday, they want that full justice department investigation.
WHITFIELD: Gary Nuremberg, thank you, from Washington.
Meantime, in Omaha, shoppers returned to the Westroads Mall today, three days after a gunman killed eight people and himself. Well, things are a little different today. For one, there's more security. And the Von Maur department store is still closed for now. It was the scene of the massacre. The gunman, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins, was a troubled young man. In a suicide note he apologized to his friends for what he put them through. He also said he would be remembered as some sort of monster. In separate note to his family, Hawkins again said he was sorry and that he just snapped. Surveillance video captured pictures of Hawkins as he walked into the mall Wednesday. And another image from the video shows Hawkins with his automatic weapons raised as he carries out the shooting spree.
Well, another big story today. Heavy snow and freezing rain. Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center. Jacqui.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: It's s a big, ugly mess out there. A powerful pacific storm is affecting millions of people today from the four corners all the way into the Ohio Valley. Let's show you a picture that we have from Salt Lake City, where the snow has been coming down. As much as a foot can be expected into the higher elevations. What does the rest of your weather weekend forecast hold for you? We will let you know.
WHITFIELD: OK. We look forward to that. Thanks a lot, Jacqui.
Plus, the soap operas couldn't script it any better than this. A man thought to be dead turns out to be very much alive and playing the amnesia card. Is this an amazing story or what? Or is it an incredible fraud?
And later, we are reliving the '60s with newsman Tom Brokaw. We will speak to him about his new book and favorite memory from that incredible decade of the '60s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON: We now go live to Georgia. What's the latest, Marvin? MARVIN: Hi, you all. Stunning news, Carl. The results sure to echo through history. In a survey that measures the ease of setting up a business, Georgia has defeated one of the world's great powers.
This Georgia place, it's not like one of those made up movie countries. I mean, it's real. You're actually there.
MARVIN: I'm here Don and it's amazing. You should come.
TOM: I think we all should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: After days of flooding that could cost her state a billion dollars, Chris Gregorie is expected to talk about her request for federal disaster aid. She spent the day with federal and state officials touring some of the areas hardest hit by the floodwaters. Washington's governor has scheduled a news conference for 5:30 Eastern. We will keep you informed.
There's a pretty nasty mix of messy weather in Arizona this weekend. Check out the snow drifts in Flagstaff. That storm moved through yesterday dumping rain, ice and snow and more is expected today. Strong wind gusts making driving pretty dicey in some areas. Icy conditions have already closed the main roadways, leading to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
And check out the slopes in Vale. Oh la la. Severe weather in Colorado created a pretty nasty headache for motorists last night, closing down a couple of the roads. But skiers meantime if they were able to make it to the slopes, well they're loving this snow. Some mountain areas in Colorado and Nevada are getting several feet of powder.
Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center. The skiers love what they see.
JERAS: Don't you wish you were there?
WHITFIELD;; Yes. I do.
JERAS: I'm not a huge skier but I do enjoy it when I have that opportunity. Nine inches there in Vale, by the way. And three feet in the last week. So that's beautiful. Still snowing and 28 degrees there right now. Here's where the storm system is. You see all of the moisture still across the southwest. All of the rain and flood threat that we have been seeing in California and Arizona really diminished now. The big story is certainly going to be the snow over the next 24 hours. It doesn't look like a whole heck of a lot here on our picture but wait until you see this live shot out of Salt Lake City. You have seen as much as eight inches of snow already at the airport. Well over a foot into the higher elevations. Look at that. The snow is still coming down and roads look clear. Everybody seems to be doing just fine along i-15 there through Salt Lake City. Beautiful live picture if you like the snow out there. Snow is even heavier coming down across parts of Colorado right now. We want to go ahead and show you back to the radar picture from Colorado springs down towards Pueblo. There you can see even Denver even getting some light snow. It's going to be very light here in Denver. Maybe another inch or so. Let's go ahead and show you some of the snowfall accumulations being seen as of this morning. 32 inches. That's almost three feet of snow in Brighton Crest, Utah. Sundance, Utah, and Frasier, Colorado at 15 1/2, Medicine Bow Lodge in Wyoming had a foot of snow and right near at Custer, South Dakota, you guys picked up 10 inches of snowfall. Yes, so quite a pounding for many folks. There you can see where we have the morning warnings and advisories and really concerned about the ice and this is just beginning to develop right now. Ice storm warnings here across central Missouri includes you in the Columbia area. I have got one more i-report so to speak that I wanted to show you guys. These are beautiful pictures. We are having trouble getting live shots earlier today. So, I counted on my dad, Bob Jeras right there in Westcliffe, Colorado at 8,000 feet and about central parts of the state. Look at those pretty pictures. Normally you can see the San Bernardino mountains in the background but visibility is so poor, you cannot see them. So big thanks to Bob Jeras for sending in those pictures.
WHITFIELD: Well, those are beautiful pictures. Glad folks are sharing with us. All right. Jacqui, thank you.
Meantime, let's talk about NASA and why they are mulling over the next move. They are trying to work it out so they can get that space shuttle off the ground. Engineers are trying to resolve a sensor problem on "Atlantis'" main fuel tank. Two faulty sensors have delayed their launch since Thursday and those sensors help track the shuttle's fuel supply. So, the main engines can be shut off in case of a problem. NASA says it won't try to launch again until tomorrow at the very earliest.
Britain's canoe man paddling in more hot water than even today. Police have now slapped John Darwin with charges of fraud and lying to get a passport. He is doing court on Monday. Darwin was declared legally dead in 2003, a year after his empty kayak washed up on shore. Investigators say Darwin faked his death to get out of debt. He claims he has been suffering from amnesia the past five years.
Within a few weeks, Aruban authorities can formally close the Natalee Holloway investigation. The chief prosecutor said he will drop the case at the end of the month if his office doesn't feel it has enough proof to charge someone with a major crime. Holloway has been missing for 2 1/2 years now. The three main suspects were rearrested last month and again released by judges who cited a lack of evidence.
Other news across America now - an awful accident in Ohio. Police say a woman was killed when an SUV veered off the road and plowed through her home. The two men in the vehicle were both taken into custody and the driver reportedly been charged with DUI and vehicular homicide.
And federal authorities in Atlanta are targeting alleged members of two Mexican drug cartels. Agent arrested 67 people this week, seizing millions in cash and hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamines. The feds say the cartels had been using Atlanta as a major hub to move drugs across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it? Now!
WHITFIELD: In Michigan, a protest rally over nooses found in a classroom in Central Michigan University. A student there has admitted to playing a role in hanging the nooses and the demonstrators want him charged with ethnic and racial intimidation. The local prosecutor has asked police to dig deeper to see if such charges are warranted.
Grammy winning rapper and actress Queen Latifah has a new movie coming out and she stopped by the NEWSROOM to talk all about it. But the conversation also covered some pretty serious topics as well. With the entertainer addressing the people of Jena, Louisiana. That's the town at the center of the racially charged case involving the beating of a white teenager by five black teens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN LATIFAH, ACTRESS/RAPPER: Someone should have said, hey, this is not right. This should be no such thing. When was some adult going to come along and take charge of that situation and say, listen, I know what's going on. I know what this tree is about. There's no more black and white tree around here. There's no more black and white section. You guys are going to come into this room and deal with this and we are going to handle this. This is not the leadership doing it. If the leadership, the principals and the mayors and the city councilmen and all that kind of stuff and the parents are saying, hey, well let it be, then what is going to inspire kids to really change it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And you can catch more of our interview with Queen Latifah Monday in the NEWSROOM.
Well, this is pretty eyebrow raising. They are identical twins but at first they were identical strangers. These twin sisters were separated at birth for a psychological study. Up next - the incredible story of how they found each other more than three decades later.
And what's even more remarkable - how much they actually lived alike separately. Despite the miles and the years apart.
WHITFIELD: Look at this huge crowd in Des Moines, Iowa. They are waiting for democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as well as special campaign guest, of course, Oprah Winfrey. As they take the stage, we will bring you there live to hear what each has to say. Oprah Winfrey on a three-state cross the country campaign for her buddy Barack Obama. We will take you back there in a moment.
In the meantime let's take you to the weather center. Jacqui Jeras dealing with a lot of severe weather in the form of snow.
JERAS: Yes, snow and ice.
WHITFIELD: And Des Moines is cold, too.
JERAS: Yes, it's mighty cold in fact. I don't have the exact temperature right now but certainly on the chilly side and they're going to be in the cold sector of this storm system so we think the Des Moines metro area are going to see all snow, maybe a little bit of sleet mixing in there. You could see as much as one to four inches by tomorrow night. So that could affect your travel of a lot of those people. Farther to the south of there, as we see all of this pink, the lighter pink is where we had freezing rain advisories and an ice storm warning now has been issued for central parts of Missouri, where the freezing rain has been coming down very heavy already. In fact, this has been a discussion issued by the storm prediction center right for this area here across central Illinois and central Missouri, saying that the freezing rain is coming down about a tenth of an inch per hour and all it takes is about a quarter of an inch of ice to cause some incredible problems with power outages and tree limbs down. So, you need to use extreme caution from the north side of St. Louis towards Springfield area and Champagne also reporting some freezing drizzle and ice right now, despite what you see the white on there. This is an estimate of where that rain and snow line is. This is going to be a problem. Chicago, you're also under the freezing rain advisory. Your temperature's right about 30 degrees. You could be seeing light snow and sleet mixing in. Just reporting cloudy skies. Most of what you're seeing right there is what you call (inaudible) evaporates before it reaches the ground. But the difference in temperature is why we are seeing much icing as we have a lot of warm air from the south and that is riding up and over that layer of cold air and so it freezes when it gets on contact because the air above is warm and cold at the surface. Fredricka, look at that, 79 in Dallas, 39 in Oklahoma.
WHITFIELD: That is an amazing disparity. All right. Thank you so much, Jacqui.
Well, straight ahead much more in the NEWSROOM, including twins who were separated and now after 30 years brought together. They are subjects of what was a medical experiment. We will explain and actually talk to them live about how they managed to find one another after so many years.
WHIFIELD: Well, this story just in that we're following out of Pompano Beach, Florida. Right over the Everglades. We're learning that there was a mid-air collision involving a Pieper P.A. and some other unknown aircraft. We don't know much more in terms of the wreckage or how many people may have been on board these two aircrafts. But that this midair collision took place just north of Pompano Beach, Florida, right over the Everglades. Of course, emergency responders are on the way as well as news helicopters to try to get any first images. Of course, when we get any of that, we will be able to bring that to you right away. Meantime, something that will provoke everyone's thoughts. What is it that makes us who we are? Is it our life experiences, or is it our DNA? Paula Bernstein and Elise Schein believed that they may have been the ultimate guinea pigs. The identical twins were separated at birth for a psychological study as were five other sets of twins and triplets. Well, for 35 years they didn't know the other existed. They were reunited in a remarkable turn of events and they have written a book about their experiences called "Identical Strangers." They were joining me now from New York. Paula and Elise, good to see you.
PAULA BERNSTEIN: You too, thank you.
WHITFIELD: Wow, how remarkable. You know, tell me about how since your reunion about three years ago, do you all feel like you are virtually inseparable now, given that you have tried to make up for all of that lost time? 35 years apart.
BERNSTEIN: Well, it's amazing. Obviously, there's no way we can make up for 35 years but we are doing the best we can to try. And when we met, we knew we were twins. That was apparent but we weren't sure what our relationship was to each other. We had to discover that and it has not always been easy.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And you knew you were twins because after, Elise, you were living in Paris and somehow you decided, you know what, I really want to find out more about my biological parent, and then somehow by default, you were to find out, oh, by the way, you're a twin.
ELISE SCHEIN, TWINS SEPARATED AT BIRTH, REUNITED: That's right. Then I got a letter from the adoption agency saying that I was a twin. So I was completely shocked. We had both grown up knowing we were adopted but the idea that I had a doppelganger double somewhere out in the world, you know, really I was driven to find her and I came to New York and contacted the adoption agency to help me find her. And then once they agreed to help me, they said, I asked, why were we separated? They said because of a twin study.
WHITFIELD: And when you heard that, were you appalled? What was your initial reaction, what is this about twin study to separate these identical twins?
SHINE: I couldn't believe it. Once we got together and, you know, we had so much to catch up on but immediately we teamed up and started investigating the study for which we were separated. And we were really floored. We always thought our lives had been orchestrated by these puppet masters who obviously put their research needs before the needs of us and the other twins and triplets.
WHITFIELD: Right. And so, Paula, I'm going to have you kind of rewind for a moment. Because while Elise is making this discovery or being told by this agency, by the way, you have a twin and that twin is in New York, you get a phone call and someone says, oh by the way, you got a twin looking for you. BERNSTEIN: Basically, that's pretty much what they said. By the way, you got a twin looking for you and in fact I was a journalist and as a journalist I had written an article entitled "why I don't want to find my birth mother?" So I was quite adamant, I didn't like to seek out biological relatives but of course I had no idea I had a twin and if I had known that I certainly would have sought her out. But, of course, I was shocked and then not only did I find out that I had a twin but I also, as Elise was saying, had to find out we were separated for this study.
WHITFIELD: Then you welcomed the whole reunification of the two of you. When you looked at one another for the first time, tell me about that experience of looking in the mirror.
SCHEIN: It was incredible. It was like seeing an alternate vision of ourselves. And we realized, we began to conduct our own informal study of what it is that makes us who we are, nature versus nurture. Right away it was immediate that we shared this very similar mannerisms. It was eerie, right, Paula.
BERNSTEIN: And then when we compared our life experiences, it was amazing, we both were editor-in-chiefs of our high school newspapers. We both went on to study film theory and make short films. We have almost the same exact favorite film and book.
BERNSTEIN: We have the same quirky mannerisms and we both mock type as we speak.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And so here you guys seemingly are just kind of rolling with it. You have accepted that this is the way it is. You're not for a scintilla of a moment angry? You don't want to reach out to these folks who are part of this study, who by the way are not going to release the study results until what, 2066 --
WHITFIELD: About the phenomenon, whether it is nature or nurture that makes a person. You don't feel like you want to legally go after these guys and gals.
SCHEIN: Luckily, we did -- we were able to meet with the key researcher of the study, who is quite elderly now and he said he did not have any part of it. It was really the adoption agency's choice. But he did admit to actively trying to recruit twins from other agencies. Even back in the day, this was not -- separating twins was not common practice.
BERNSTEIN: And he expresses no remorse at all. Of course, we are angry. We are angry about it. And it was -- basically they had a theory, the top psychiatric intelligence at the agency had a theory that twins would be better off if they were separated. But of course, that was completely unsubstantiated and no research to back that up. And if that's the case, then why did they not try to spread the word? Was it just twins given up for adoption that should be separated? WHITFIELD: Incredible. And how lucky you are to find each other. Elyse Schein, Paula Bernstein, it's an incredible story and can be read and learned in a much more thorough way through "Identical Strangers." Right here is the cover of the book. Ladies, thank you very much for joining us and thanks for sharing your story. And I'm so happy for you both to have found one another.
BERNSTEIN: Oh, thank you.
SCHEIN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.
All right, we're going to turn onto a little presidential politics again as promised. We told you we would take you back to Des Moines, Iowa, because Barack Obama, leading Democratic presidential contender, is hoping to get a significant boost by TV talk show star Oprah Winfrey. Right now, Michelle Obama is speaking there. Perhaps the prelude to seeing and hearing from Oprah Winfrey in a moment. We will continue to monitor the developments there and take you straight to Des Moines to listen in as soon as all of those guests arrive.
Meantime, Candy Crowley is there in Des Moines and watching and gauging all of the buzz. Last time we had a little audio problems, Candy. It was difficult to hear you. But it's understandable because the crowd is huge.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The crowd is huge. We are told that they gave out about 23,000 tickets. I'm terrible at crowd estimates but I can tell you they are cheek to jowl here in this sort of tavernous arena here. You can tell things are about to begin because as you mentioned, first of all, Michelle Obama, who is herself an accomplished speaker, is talking now. And Gayle, described by Oprah as her best friend, has joined the audience.
So the camera flashing has been going on for some time. It is a huge crowd. It is largely already committed Obama supporters. They did give out tickets to volunteers and to staff members first, but they have also brought on, and in just a minute, I think they are introducing Oprah.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Iowa, oh my goodness, hello and hello and hello. Oh my goodness, at last I'm here. You know, so much has been said about why jumping into this arena does or does not bring to the table of politics. I really don't know. I'm going to leave that all up to the pundits who all say, will it be the same influence as her book club? Will it be like the favorite things show? I don't know about all of that?
Despite all of the talk, the speculation and the hype, I understand the difference between a book club and free refrigerators. That was a nice refrigerator.
I understand the difference between that and this critical moment in our nation's history. And so -- and so I bathed, yes, I did, and I got dressed to come out here for, I suspect, the same reason you did. Because I care about this country.
And as we were driving in here today, I said, you have to care about this country to come out in this kind of weather, 12 degrees, freezing rain and snow. You love America, I can see that you do.
Well, I not only care about this country but there are times that I even worry about what happens to our country. And that is why for the very first time in my life I feel compelled to stand up and to speak out for the man who I believe has a new vision for America.
So let me tell you why I'm here. I came here because I deeply believe in America, and I think that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of problems to address. We have true threats to our security that go beyond the very real threat of terrorism or foreign wars and extend to problems that we all know about, problems with health care and problems with education and problems with our economy.
So I am not here to tell you what to think. I am here to ask you to think, seriously. I want you to think seriously about a man who knows who we are and he knows who he can be. I'm not here for partisan beliefs. Over the years, I voted for as many Republicans as I have Democrats. So this isn't about partisanship to me. This is very, very personal. I am here because of my personal conviction about Barack Obama and what I know he can do for America.
And that America, that America is represented on each of the faces that I see here today. Because when you strip us all down, when you take away our race, our color, our ethnicity, our backgrounds, our sex, when you strip us all down, we are American at our core. We are America. We are America with our hopes and our dreams and yes, we have our faults and fallacies but what we really have is an abiding faith, an abiding faith in the possibility that life can be better for every one of us.
We are 300 strong here with our many colors and religions and languages. Many colors, religions and languages but one government, one Congress, one president.
And because we only get to choose one, I came out in the cold today to tell you why I believe that choice needs to be Barack Obama. I believe that Barack Obama will bring statesmanship to the White House. I believe that he will lead with strength and conviction and with honor and compassion and with an unyielding focus on what we all can do together to make this nation the future that we all deserve. He knows he cannot do that alone.
So this is not a time for any of us to shrink away from a new bold path from our country. We can all look around us, and as you look around you, you can be sure that we don't just want to reinvent the same reality that we are now all experiencing.
We have to stand strong and united for the potential, the potential within us and the potential that lies before us. No, I have never done this before. And it feels like I'm out of my pew, I'm out of my terrain. Backstage somebody said, are you nervous? I go, you're damn right I'm nervous. Yes, I am, because I have never done this before.
But if we continue to do the same things over and over and over again, I know that you get the same result.
So what I believe is, that it's time for us all to let's dream America anew again by supporting Barack Obama. You know, in my private conversations with friends, when we are not discussing who is winning "Dancing with the Stars," we talk about more serious things and we shake our heads and we say, hmm, hmm, hmm, somebody ought to do something about the dismal state of so many of our schools -- the dismal state of so many of our schools that don't serve the genius of our children.
Here we are in a global knowledge based economy. How can we build a future and future for leaders and schools that continue to fall behind? We shake our head and we say, hmm, hmm, hmm, somebody ought to do something about that. We say, how in this great country can we have people who have to file for bankruptcy just because somebody in their house got sick, and there was no health insurance? No health insurance to cover the avalanche of bills and their houses got foreclosed. Somebody ought to do something about that.
We need somebody who is committed to the well being of all Americans. We need Barack Obama. And what we need is, we need a new way of doing business in Washington, D.C. and in the world. You know, I am so tired. I'm tired of politics as usual. That's why you seldom see politicians on my show, because I only have an hour.
And what I have learned is, it's really hard in an hour to penetrate what I call that -- that political veil, that veil of political rhetoric.
But when you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing. You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth.
We, the people, we the people can see through all of that rhetoric. We recognize that the amount of time you spent in Washington means nothing unless you're accountable for the judgments you made with the time you had.
We need good judgment. We need Barack Obama. You know, every good parent in here -- and I know a lot of parents in here, some of you lost your children. That's not so good, Iowa. Try to keep up with the babies.
But every good parent in here knows that it is not the amount of time you spend with your children, but the quality of that time. And what I know is, is that experience in the hallways of government isn't as important to me as experience on the pathway of life.
So I challenge you, I challenge you, I challenge you to see through those people who try and convince you that experience with politics as usual is more valuable than wisdom won from years of serving people outside the walls of Washington D.C. I challenge you to think about that. Because Barack Obama's early training in the trenches of community organizing, working in the poor neighborhoods to change the palette of poverty and crime and unemployment gave him a lot of experience in relieving the burdens of those who are beleaguered. His track record in the Illinois and national Senate showed his bipartisan efforts to earn families across our great state of Illinois more than $100 million in tax cuts. His advocacy for legislation and support of early childhood legislation because he knows education is the door of opportunity and his opposition to racial profiling offer a glimpse into his political pedigree.
And as a U.S. senator, again, from my great state of Illinois, Obama has fought for disability pay for veterans. He worked to boost the nonproliferation of deadly weapons. He advocated the use of alternative fuels to cure our national addiction to oil. He has spoken out against our government's indifference to the poor and to political incompetence in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
And he has rallied against genocide in Darfur, and long before it was the popular thing to do, he stood with clarity and conviction against this war in Iraq.
We need a president with clarity and conviction, who knows how to consult his own conscience and proceed with moral authority. We need Barack Obama.
In my conversations with friends, we talk about how we get worried about America. Yes, I'm worried, and it's not just the threat of terrorism or enemies beyond our borders.
It's our estrangement from the rest of the world and the dangerous imbalance that that creates. It's a dangerous imbalance when we fail to realize that all human hearts are the same. Tragedy and loss and suffering and war and indifference destroy humanity, not just Americans.
We need a president who cares about our relationships with our friends and our enemies. And I'm worried because this is what I know for sure, that in order for humanity to evolve, and that's really the reason why we are all here on the planet Earth, to evolve, we have to learn to treasure our uniqueness and also treasure each other's diversity.
We have too many divisions here in our United States. We have the left and the right and the red states and the blue states. We need a president who can bring us all together. We need a president who can overcome our racial divides, our religious divides and divisions between those who have and those who need a chance to have.
These are dangerous times. I know you know it. We are all watching "American Idol" trying to forget about it. But these are dangerous times. You can feel it. You can sense it in the air. We are facing a lot of explosive issues, complicated situations that are easily muddied.
We need a leader who shows us how to hope again and have faith again in America as a force for peace. Just as -- just as Barack Obama -- Barack Obama has seized this moment and it's a beautiful thing to see, we also must seize this opportunity to support a man who, as the Bible says, loves mercy and does justly -- loves mercy and does justly.
There are those who say that Barack Obama should wait his turn. There are those who say that he should take a gradual approach to presidential leadership. But none of us is God. We don't know what the future holds. So we must respond to the pressures and the fortunes of history when the moment strikes, and, Iowa, I believe that moment is now.
WHITFIELD: We are going to take a short break for now. We will bring you right back to Des Moines, Iowa right after this.
WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now of a full house there in Des Moines, Iowa. O is real popular there. Not just Barack Obama, but Oprah Winfrey as well, who is crisscrossing three states on behalf of her friend, Senator Barack Obama. Let's go now to Senator Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Iowa! You know, you got a pretty good show when I'm the third best speaker. I am third. I know you came here to see Michelle, because one of the things we discovered during the course of this campaign is, let's face it, Michelle is a little better than I am. Fortunately she is too smart to want to be president. She would rather tell the president what to do.
And then there's this -- there's this woman with a funny name. A woman with a funny name, come from some little town in the South. Nobody would have thought that she would become somebody who moves an entire nation, each and every day.
I sent Oprah an e-mail last night. I said, it looks like a lot of people are going to come tomorrow. I guess you're pretty popular. Who would have thunk it?
But, listen, I love you back. Let me tell you how much Michelle and I love Oprah Winfrey. Because -- because one of the wonderful things about this campaign is meeting people from all walks of life. And I tell you, the more I meet the American people, the more convinced I am of our decency and your generosity of spirit. But I have to tell you, sometimes celebrities will disappoint you. That's my point! That's my point!
Some of them, you get there and you go, oh. They are on TV and they look so nice. And they are being mean. Or they look so tall and it turns out they are kind of short.
But Oprah Winfrey, the more we have known her, the more spectacular you realize her character and her soul is. This is a wonderful person. We love her. I am grateful for her being here. She's getting embarrassed. She doesn't want me to talk about her anymore. But all I want to say is this. I am under no illusions. We have had some big crowds here in Iowa. We have not had this big crowd in Iowa. So there are some people here who are here to see Oprah. And I'm -- I'm sort of a by-product of that. And I appreciate that. But what I know is that for her to take the risk of stepping out of her comfort zone is extraordinary and it's a testimony to her courage and her friendship and so I want everybody to give the biggest round of applause that you can to my friend, Oprah Winfrey. Give it up! Give it up for Oprah! We love Oprah! They love you.
All right. All right. It's all about Iowa. All right, you know, I love you back. I really do. Michelle and I were just talking last night about just the extraordinary experience we have had here in Iowa. The state has been so welcoming to us. The people have been so hospitable. Even those who are not caucusing for me, they are nice for me. You know, I'm not caucusing for you but I really like you. You're a nice young man and your wife, I just love your wife. And your kids are so pretty.
So there's a spirit here, not only of warmth and family and community but there's also a seriousness of purpose. People are paying attention here in Iowa. And that's why during the course of this campaign when some of the national polls were showing us way down and everybody was saying, Obama, this isn't going to happen. All I knew was in Iowa, folks were paying attention.
In Iowa, something else was going on. In Iowa, we look like we were doing pretty good.
WHITFIELD: All right, one of the leading presidential contenders, Democratic Senator Barack Obama, getting quite the boost perhaps from T.V. star Oprah Winfrey.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: This has been something to see. There's no doubt about it, when Oprah Winfrey walks into a room, my goodness, the walls kind of shake a little bit.
WHITFIELD: That's right. Well you've got the momentum now to take it into the NEWSROOM, Tony.
HARRIS: Let me get myself a little cinched up here.
WHITFIELD: You got it?
HARRIS: All right.
WHITFIELD: OK, have a good evening.
HARRIS: All right, thanks Fred.
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