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YOUR WORLD TODAY

Pentagon Offers Troops To Fight Militants; Red Campaign Update; South Carolina Primary

Aired January 25, 2008 - 12:00   ET

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


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Egyptian guards rushing to plug a hole on the border but they can't even slow the flow of Gazans. Where is rogue trader Jerome (INAUDIBLE)? Good question. Why didn't (INAUDIBLE) catch him sooner, even better.
Pakistan welcomes Washington's offer to help it battle insurgents, but the country say any fighting will be carried out by Pakistan.

And lyrics are one thing, life is another. British singer, Amy Winehouse finally goes to rehab. It is 7:00 p.m. in the Rafa crossing, its 6:00 p.m. in Paris and Davos. I'm Hala Gorani reporting from Davos, Switzerland.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay at CNN Center, from Islamabad to London, Davos to (INAUDIBLE), wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Egypt attempts to clamp down but even a human chain of security forces can't stop Palestinians desperate to get across from Gaza. We begin with some dramatic scenes today along the Egyptian Gazan border. Palestinian militants used a bulldozer to punch a new path into Egypt, allowing Gazans in search of supplies to continue streaming across the border. Well we have reports from both sides, Aneesh Raman is in Egypt, but let's start with Ben Wedeman who is in Gaza City. Ben, the situation appears increasingly difficult to control at the border.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Isha, the border between Gaza and Egypt is crowded, it is hot, it is dirty and it is becoming dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The border threatens to become a battlefield. Egyptian forces are slowly attempting to bring order. At this crossing allowing Palestinians to return to Gaza but not letting them go the other way. Precipitating a tense standoff that frequently erupted in stone throwing and cursing. Hamas militiamen tried with dubious methods to control the crowd while others tried to - (INAUDIBLE).

(On camera): Clearly closing this border is going to be very difficult. The people here in Rafa want to get out, want to get to Egypt but the Egyptians really have a hard time controlling the situation.

(Voice-over): A five minute walk away is a scramble over a wall into Egypt for people and others while the heavy goods enter overhead.

(On camera): One spot along the border, they are not letting anybody in, but there are other areas where people are just crossing without any controls whatsoever. Clearly it's going to take more than riot police to close this border.

(Voice-over): Frenzy spurred on by a fear -- (INAUDIBLE) this ends. We want this border to stay open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it officially legally opened. People go in and out under inspection because some people, they bring items like food, computers, TVs, but some people bring weapons.

WEDEMAN: Others accept the border may slam shut again and are just glad to have the chance to get out. In some cases for reunions with families long separated by the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy I saw them says (INAUDIBLE). I haven't seen my sister's children in five years. I didn't even recognize them.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: And Hamas has said despite what Egypt says, that they're going to try to keep this border open one way or another until some sort of regular system for passage from Gaza and Egypt comes into place. Isha?

SESAY: All right. Ben Wedeman there in Gaza. We must leave it, many thanks. Ok, let's bring in our Aneesh Raman now and he's in the Egyptian town of Ala Rish which is near the border. And Aneesh, the Egyptian President (INAUDIBLE) appears to be walking a very tight line between empathy for the Palestinians and pressure from the U.S. and the Israelis. What exactly is the situation?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Exactly Isha. This is not a position most people (INAUDIBLE) the Egyptian president wanted to be in. What happened when the wall came down two days ago was there simply warrant enough Egyptian forces to stop what ensued. Thousands upon thousands of Gazans pouring into Egypt and there is in this country a great deal of empathy for the Palestinian cause. It's why we saw the Egyptian president yesterday embrace the Gazan cause as his own along humanitarian lines. But at the same time, the Egyptian president isn't a big fan of Hamas, who controls Gaza. He sees them as an Islamist organization similar to the Muslim brotherhood, his main opposition in Egypt. And as you mentioned he's facing mounting international pressure from a key ally to the U.S. in addition to Israel which Egypt has diplomatic relations with over security concerns. That is why today we're seeing the Egyptian government seal up that border. So it's a very delicate walk the Egyptian president has had over the past few days, a difficult situation. It explains a bit why there was chaos at the beginning, not a real sense on the ground of what the plan was yesterday and then suddenly the border starting to seal up today. Isha?

SESAY: Aneesh closing the border is one thing, but what about those Palestinians who are actually inside Egypt already?

RAMAN: Keep in mind, tens of thousands, that's the low estimate of Gazans who've crossed into Egypt over the past few days. Many of them made their way to where I am now, (INAUDIBLE), it's the biggest town closest to the border. You can see behind me there are still hundreds of Gazans that are here. Last night I was here, literally you could not see the street, that's how many people you were packed here. I've been out talking to the folks. They say during the day government vehicles came by, broadcasted that Palestinians need to head back tonight. A number of the Palestinians I spoke to said they plan to do that. But most of them said if they could Isha, they would stay here for good.

SESAY: All right, Aneesh Raman, there in Egypt. Many thanks.

GORANI: All right. Well here in Davos, Switzerland and in the financial sector all over the world people are still reeling from the news that (INAUDIBLE) the French bank lost $7.2 billion at the hands of a single suspected rogue trader, Jerome Kerviel. As Lucy Manning now tells us, the bank's focus has shifted to damage control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCY MANNING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The flat of the man who lost his bank more than three billion pounds is empty. Jerome Kerviel hasn't been seen here although a lawyer acting for the French trader says he hasn't run away and would talk to the French police if asked. He has a lot of answering to do. How and why this relatively junior employee managed to get around safeguards and secretly bet on the markets losing billions, then covering it up. His face was on the front pages of France's newspapers this morning. But there's also criticism of the bank Societe Generale for failing to spot the massive fraud until it was too late. The bank took out adverts apologizing to its shareholders. I understand your disappointment and anger wrote the chief executive. The situation was perfectly unacceptable. But shareholders were unimpressed.

DIDIER COMARDEAU, SOCIETE GENERALE: There are incompetent practices in the Societe Generale, that's for sure. One should not be able to take positions where 40 billion euros without being spotted by an audit or a sophisticated computer system. Everyone agrees on that.

MANNING: The actions of one trader at Societe Generale are raising question marks about the entire French financial system and has left people wondering how much the bank's attempt to unravel it's losses actually contributed to the collapse of the world markets earlier this week.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I think one cannot link what happened with Societe Generale, as far as I know what happened there was a fraud, a big scale fraud with what happened at the world's markets because of the crisis in the subprime mortgage market in the United States. The Societe Generale case is an internal fraud which will have an impact on the bank's balance sheets.

MANNING: The president on a trip to India said he didn't think the losses affected the reliability of the French financial system. But the massive fraud at Societe General has certainly shaken it.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Lucy Manning reporting there. Believe it or not, it could have been worse. The bank says some of Jerome Kerviel's trades were in the tens of billions of dollars. That's a big chunk of the market capitalization of Societe Generale at the stock market. Here in Davos bankers are telling us that this if it happened to them would be their worse nightmare. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN THAIN, CEO, MERRILL LYNCH: Fraud is a CEO's worse nightmare. To wake up in the morning and discover that some trader has committed fraud, you cannot prevent fraud. No system, no matter how good can prevent fraud but the key is to catch the person as quickly as possible. You know it's a little bit like bank robbery. There's been laws against robbing banks for years, people still do it, but you want to catch them as quickly as you can.

HOWARD LUTNICK, CEO, CANTOR FITZGERALD: It's really everyone's worse nightmare. I mean someone inside the bank figures out a way to fool a particular bank and starts attacking the bank, taking risks they had no right to take, they shouldn't have taken. It has nothing to do with it and they're just trying to attack the bank. It's really a war on the bank from the inside and most risk management systems are designed to protect the bank from the risks they understand and they know, they're not really sort of looking at your hindsight, it's sort of like your own infantry sort of coming at your back and attacking you. Really someone can try to attack the bank from anywhere.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: We're fortunate to be here in Davos where all these CEOs, you just bump into them in the hallway. We're going to go live to Paris now. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to announce measures to boost transparency in the financial markets in that country. Jim Bitterman, joins me now live, from the French capital. Jim, first off, does anyone have any idea where this young Jerome Kerviel is right now?

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Hala, that's the $7 billion question. Everybody has been looking all over France for him and nobody is finding him except his lawyer. The one person that has talked to him is Elizabeth Mayer, his lawyer and she's not talking to the press but in any case she says her client is willing to cooperate and he's not on the run and he's going to cooperate with authorities. Having said that, the bank suggested very clearly yesterday when they announced all this that they weren't sure where he was and it's not clear that legal authorities know where he is either. His apartment as Lucy indicated there earlier in her story, his apartment is abandoned and also in western France where he comes from, at his hometown his parents have closed up their house and have gone away. So no sign of him at all. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Jim Bitterman following the story for us live in Paris, France. We're going to take a short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY. When we come back, Jordan's Queen Rania appeals to the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think something needs to be done very, very quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You call for support.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Queen Rania says children are the real victims of the turmoil gripping Gaza. She tells our Becky Anderson what needs to be done to pave the path to peace. And Italy's government is in crisis, Prime Minister (INAUDIBLE) is out now the Italian president faces a political dilemma.

Amy Winehouse sings a new tune. Where the troubled singer who once chatted no-no-no to rehab is headed now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello everyone. A car bomb blast brings bloodshed to Lebanon's capital. Among the dead the nation's top anti terror investigator. Captain (INAUDIBLE) was on his way home from a meeting at an office investigating the assassination of former Primer Minister Rafi Khariri. Surveillance video in a Christian neighborhood north of Beirut captured the bombing that you see there. Three other people were killed in the blast. 38 were wounded. Eight have survived two previous assassination attempts.

GORANI: Returning now to our top story and the situation on the Gaza/Egypt border. Many people here in Davos, top decision makers and top players are keeping a close eye on the situation and that includes Jordan's Queen Rania. She spoke to our Becky Anderson just a few hours ago and she called the border breach an act of desperation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUEEN RANIA, JORDAN: And neither (INAUDIBLE) nor bombs are going to bring peace to the region. And I think what we're seeing today is just adding another layer of grievances to a situation that has been burdened by tragedy, destruction and death and heartache. And it really is, the humanitarian situation is extremely worrying at the moment. I think what we're seeing here is just an act of desperation for people trying to provide for their children, for old people seeking medical care, seeking supplies. And I think the world's attention needs to turn to this crisis because it is a violation of international norms and conventions and I think something needs to be done very, very quickly.

BECKY ANDERSON: You've called for support of Palestinians in Gaza. What would you say are the priorities at this point?

RANIA: Well, you know, when you look at the humanitarian situation is pushed to the brink of collapse. A quarter of Palestinians there live under the extreme poverty unable to provide the basic necessities of life, of food, shelter and homes. The real victims have been the children who have been growing up now nutritionally stunted because they are unable to eat proper food. Emotionally stunted because they are living under tremendous pressure with a threat of destruction and academically stunted because they're unable to study and concentrate under these circumstances. So it's extremely important for us to reach out to these people to make sure we deal with the humanitarian issue, to make sure that we take care of the women and children who have nothing to do with the political process in the first place. Because no matter how you cloak it, this is collective punishment to an entire population and it's a violation of international law.

ANDERSON: What do you think the international community can do to better help the humanitarian situation there?

RANIA: First of all, we have to(INAUDIBLE) to lift the siege, we have to stop the military aggression and aid agencies have to be allowed to work there. Because by all accounts hearing from them as a humanitarian situation and it's extraordinarily terrible there. Aid needs to be allowed to move freely into the area but most importantly the real peace will only come once the political situation is settled. And we all know what needs to be done. So when will the international community find the will power and the sincerity of spirits to finally set right the course of this conflict, to really put it on the path to peace once and for all.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right. The take from Queen Rania of Jordan on the situation in Gaza, speaking to Becky Anderson a bit earlier.

SESAY: The Iraqi prime minister has announces what he calls a decisive offensive in the northern city of Mosul. The city has seen an increase in violence in recent months. The Iraqi government believes al Qaeda has been taking refuge there and the U.S./Iraqi operation pushes extremists out of Baghdad. At least 35 people were killed in two separate explosions in Mosul this week including a police chief.

GORANI: All right, a check of the U.S. headlines is up next for our viewers in the United States.

SESAY: For the rest of you, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a short break including the political revolving door that is the Italian government. Who is out , who could be in, and why does this keep happening. Your questioned answered.

GORANI: From Davos an interview with three powerful men. You'll here from Bono, Bill Gates and Michael Dell. All three, it's all ahead only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes, but first a quick check on stories making headlines right here in the U.S.

Severe weather is topping our news right now. New pictures just out of southern California a region that's just been drenched all week by heavy rains from a brutal winter storm. You can see the street flooding right here in L.A. Parts of the county got more rainfall yesterday than in all of 2007. In the higher elevations it's snow that's causing problems. More than a foot of snow has fallen in some mountain areas. Hundreds of drivers were stuck on Ii-5, a major interstate. Most were guided out yesterday but part of the road does remain closed, with officials giving no estimate on when it will reopen. And at least one tornado touched down in Ventura county tearing off the roof of a building at a naval base. No one in there was hurt.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: The road to the White House heads south this weekend. Today candidates for both parties are focusing beneath the Mason Dixon line. The democrats are bracing for tomorrow's big primary in South Carolina. Republicans who aced off there last Saturday are looking ahead to Florida now. That's critical for the primary scheduled for Tuesday by the way.

The "New York Times" has handed out it's endorsements in the presidential primaries. Among Republicans, the paper is backing John McCain. It says he's the only candidate from his party who quote, promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small angry fringe. It blasts its former hometown mayor Rudy Giuliani saying he quote, "Shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business. Goes on to call him a narrow obsessively secretive and vindictive man. Among democrats the paper praises Hillary Clinton. It says that she's used to her years in the senate to immerse herself into national security issues and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military.

They reserved some praise for her main rival Barack Obama, describing him as quote, "The incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois." The democratic field thins by one. Just moments ago Dennis Kucinich announced the end of his long shot bid for the White House. It was the Ohio congressman's second try.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS KUCINICH: I deeply and sincerely believe that we fought the good fight. In large part because of the support from all of you here and from hundreds of thousands of people just like you all across this country. I stood strong because you gave me strength. I spoke out because your voices needed and deserved to be heard. And I told the truth. I told the truth. No matter how unpopular or inconvenient, because no matter how long it takes, the truth will really set us free.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: Kucinich now faces tough fight at home. He has four challengers from his own party seeking his house seat. Check is in the mail, money is in your pocket, tax rebates the center piece of a plan to boost a sagging economy. The legislation goes before Congress next week. How much can you expect and when? Individuals earning less than $75,000 will get a $600 rebate. $1,200 for couples earning less than $150,000. Families will get an additional $300 per child. Those who don't pay income taxes utter and at least $3,000 will get a $300 rebate. The treasury secretary says the checks could be in the mail about 60 days after congress passes that bill. Look for at check some time in the spring.

Stemming human flow with a human chain. Egyptian soldiers in riot gear take up positions along the border with Gaza. They are apparently trying to hold back some of the thousands of Palestinians that are crossing over to buy supplies. The troops use water cannons and rolled barbed-wire along parts of the border. Palestinians are still getting through. They used a bulldozer to knock over a new section of that wall, which militants blew open two days ago. Thousands are short on food, medicine and other necessities. And one week after Israel sealed their borders after rocket attacks. Cyclists thrown 40 feet down a ravine in Portland, Oregon. Rescuers sprung into action to save the woman while her mother in Alaska watches the whole thing unfold on the internet. You're going to hear from the cyclist and her mom ahead this afternoon in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Meantime YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break. I'm Kyra Philips see you in half an hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers joining us from around the globe, including the United States. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Isha Sesay. Here are some of the top stories we're following for you.

Palestinian bulldozers have broke through new areas of the border fence between Gaza and Egypt. Clashes erupted when Egypt soldiers tried to stop the flow of Palestinians crossing into Egypt. Tens of thousands have been rushing to buy much need supplies.

A car bombing in Lebanon's capital claims four lives. The country's top anti-terrorism investigator was among the dead. Captain Wissam Eid had just left a meeting on the probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Thirty-eight people were wounded in the blast.

The CEO of French bank Societe Generale is asking shareholders for forgiveness. In a letter to stockholders, Daniel Bouton insists the bank is sound despite losing more than $7 billion in unauthorized trading by middle level manager Jerome Kerviel.

Now the Pentagon is offering military assistance to Pakistan to help in the fight against Islamic militants. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was ready to send troops, not for just training purposes, but if Pakistan agrees, to conduct joint military operations. I'm pleased to say Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with more details.

And, Barbara, are we looking at the possibility of opening a third front on this war on terror?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly that is what Secretary Gates appeared to raise the prospect of, Isha, yesterday at his press conference here in the Pentagon. You know, CNN broke the news two days ago that there was classified planning orders underway to look at the possibility of sending trainers, military trainers, to Pakistan to help train them in the fight against the al Qaeda and Taliban. But Secretary Gates, going a step further at his Pentagon press conference, opening the door just slightly to the possibility of combat troops. Listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We remain ready, willing and able to assist the Pakistanis and to partner with them to provide additional training, to conduct joint operations should they desire to do so.

DAVID MARTIN, CBS NEWS: You're talking about U.S. combat troops, Pakistani troops, in the field together operating against al Qaeda in the territories?

GATES: If the Pakistanis wanted to do that, I think we would.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: A very carefully worded message, frankly, from Defense Secretary Gates to Pakistan. The U.S. feels that Pakistanis have not been succeeded in that fight against extremist groups inside their country. But, Isha, certainly there is a huge stumbling block to any of this and that's Pakistan itself, a sovereign country with their own government such as it is at the moment. And all indication are, right now at least, President Pervez Musharraf is outright rejecting the notion of any combat forces and certainly a long way to go before any U.S. trainers would even be allowed. All of this, of course, being directed towards the tribal regions where any U.S. troops are not likely to be very warmly welcomed.

Isha.

SESAY: Well, Barbara, the question is why now? I mean, what's the threat here?

STARR: Well, you know, certainly, since the assassination of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a lot of attention being paid to all of this. The view from the Pentagon at least is that the al Qaeda threat in that tribal region is not just growing but becoming more complex, spreading across Pakistan, now operating in many of the major cities, of course, and that they see evidence that al Qaeda is now banding together with other extremist groups inside Pakistan providing an even greater threat. That's what the U.S. says the Pakistanis are having a lot of trouble fighting against. That's why the Pentagon would like to see if it's possible to send military trainers and get them trained up. Better encounter insurgency. Not something still that the government there is likely to accept.

SESAY: All right. Our Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent. Always great to talk to you. Many thanks.

STARR: Sure.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Isha, well two years ago here at the World Economic Forum in Davos, global rock star Bono made a big splash when he launched the so-called RED campaign. The idea was for people to buy the stuff they would buy anyway, but feel good about where their money is going. Was it a success? Well, Bono is back this year, alongside Bill Gates and Michael Dell and he spoke to CNN's Richard Quest about the project. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL DELL, DELL CHAIRMAN AND CEO: I think we've seen the success of the RED campaign and we were compelled with the idea that, you know, our business is about connecting people. Here's a chance to connect to some people that are really in the midst of a big crisis and allow our customers to not only get connected but to save lives.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, is this the importance, in a way, of creative capitalism? That it's not just a donation, but actually there has to be an element of win-win for the company, the consumer and the charity, or the organization?

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT: Well, RED is a fantastic example of creative capitalism because it sustains itself. It's not a one-time thing. The products keep getting better. We're drawing more companies in. Dell and Microsoft are the latest.

But it's a chance for the consumer to associate themselves with values, with caring more about what's going on outside of their activities, where there really is a crisis and so specifically, you know, you get $50 of medicine here and $80 here and that makes a huge difference.

QUEST: Why this campaign? In a world of many good causes and many worthy needs, why do you decide this one, versus another one, versus something else?

BONO, MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST: This is not a cause. That's the point. I think 5,000 Africans die every day is an emergency. And I think that's what -- red is the color of emergency. It's different thing. Everybody's, you know, got their cause and we respect that. But this is different. And to think that it's just, oh, you know, people are sick in Africa. This is the greatest health crisis in 600 years and, you know, our age, the time we live in, will be remembered by, you know, the Internet, the war against terror, climate change and this -- this little virus that's destroying the lives of so many people.

QUEST: What is the one product that you would like to see part of the RED campaign that's not already currently in? What is the one, do you think, that would perhaps absolutely need to be in their in the future? Bono, you must have given it some thought. BONO: I'd like to see a European company -- I really admire Adidas, for instance. And I think going into the World Cup in Africa, I mean, I'm just -- I'm actually asking live on your program right now. But if we can't get Adidas, I'm for Victoria's Secret.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right. There you have it, the rock star and activist Bono, as well as Bill Gates and Michael Dell, speaking with Richard Quest about the RED campaign just a short while ago here in Davos.

SESAY: Well, several White House contenders pick up a coveted endorsement.

COLLINS: All right. Ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, we'll tell you who got the coveted endorsement of "The New York Times" as the U.S. presidential candidates gear up for Florida and South Carolina.

SESAY: And where else can you bump into President Pervez Musharraf or media mogul Rupert Murdoch and get an impromptu lesson on networking, networking, networking. It's all in a days work for our French blogger guide at Davos.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: "The New York Times" has endorsed its picks of the Republican and Democratic nominations. On the Republican side, the paper chose Arizona Senator John McCain. It passed over native son Rudy Giuliani saying McCain was the only candidate capable of breaking away from the George Bush style of governing. New York Senator Hillary Clinton was the pick for the Democrats. "The Times" praised Obama's speaking gift, but said Clinton has far more experience as a leader and a better chance of fixing America's problems.

Well, Saturday is a big day for South Carolina. The state holds its Democratic primary. Despite an 11th hour decision to back off the personal attacks, there's no denying candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have waged a very bitter campaign. So who's likely to emerge the winner tomorrow. Joining me now from the capital in Columbia is our very own Jonathan Mann.

Jon, always good to see you.

I mean, as we've been saying, race has been front and center in the national debate and at times, you know, it's got ugly. But I want to get from you a sense of the talk and the mood where you are.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an incredibly exciting primary. South Carolina, of course, the first primary for the Democrats in the south of the United States. And that really has a very big impact here.

You have a son of a south, John Edwards, campaigning in this state. He was born here. He won here in 2004. He really wants to win here very badly. Hillary Clinton has been here as well. She is not looking that strong. Polls put her -- and there are a lot of polls put her in second place.

Barack Obama has been here as well. This is being called the first black primary and Barack Obama wants this race very badly. Let's go through all three of them.

Obama has been campaigning here. His wife has been campaigning here. This is a state where he can really count on the support of, it is said, maybe half of the primary voters who are African-Americans. And if he can't win their support here, there's some question about how well he can do nationwide.

This is really a contest that has been his to lose. He started out behind, but now he's been given a significant lead in most polls we're seeing, virtually all of the polls. Barack Obama campaigning still in the last hours of this race, trying to cement his hold on South Carolina.

Hillary Clinton has a different situation. She wants to cement her hold as the frontrunner nationwide. If she can stop Barack Obama here, she can really cement her position.

She hasn't been in the state all week. She's been leaving the campaigning to husband Bill and daughter Chelsea while she went off to California and New York, states that are going to be voting in a few days with a lot more delegates. But even she is back in the state today trying once again to stop Barack Obama if she can. The polls are suggesting that will be a tough, tough position to take, but the polls have been wrong before and they may be again.

Finally, John Edwards. For whom this really may be a do or die situation. John Edwards scored just 4 percent in Nevada. To use his phrase, he got his butt kicked. His words, not mine. And he's increasingly looking like the third candidate in a two candidate race.

Everyone has a very big reason to want to succeed here. Voters go to the polls on Saturday, telling pollsters that Barack Obama is ahead, Hillary Clinton is second, but John Edwards is surging, according to some ways of looking at the electorate. He could split the white vote and race is a factor here. He could split the white vote. But African-American women, the largest undecided group of voters, still Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both vying for their loyalty, their allegiance.

A lot of African-Americans here remember the Clinton White House years as a particularly good time. A time when they could count on a friend in the White House. And so, really, it's a fascinating race and we'll probably see some surprises.

Isha.

SESAY: All right. We're pleased you're there to cover it for us. Jonathan Mann, though we must leave it, many thanks. Well, McCain and the other Republican candidates seeking their party's nomination for president face off in a final debate before next Tuesday's Florida primary. McCain and Mitt Romney are the two frontrunners in the state's contest. During Thursday's MSNBC debate in Boca Raton in Florida, Romney took a swipe at the prospect of another Clinton White House and McCain defended the war in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a good idea. It was not worth the failures that happened. But it is worth it at the end of the day because we will have peace and success in the Middle East. And our men and women will return and return with honor and they won't have to go back and fight al Qaeda there.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I frankly can't wait because the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I just can't imagine. I can't imagine the American people can imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, in U.S. politics, the week ahead is huge. In one week it will be right here on CNN. On Monday U.S. President George W. Bush delivers his annual State of the Union Address. CNN will, of course, cover that and the Democrats response live.

Tuesday, it's the Florida primary. A high stakes day for the Republicans and a make or break day for Rudy Giuliani.

Wednesday, CNN live in California for you for the Reagan Presidential Library Republican Debate. Our very own Anderson Cooper moderates.

And just 24 hours later, CNN's Wolf Blitzer hosts the Democrats in a debate live from Los Angeles.

Next Friday, Republicans in Maine begin their statewide caucuses and all of it topped off by Super Tuesday when 24 states pick their favorites in the race for the White House.

A gigantic week in our "America Votes 2008" coverage and you'll want to be with us 24/7.

And for our international viewers, Jonathan Mann hosts "The Campaign Trail."

But we're going to go now to White Springs. OK. We are monitoring the president who is in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where he's expected to speak about the economy. Let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Legislation, making sure our professionals, our intelligence professionals, have the tools they need to protect the United States of America.

I am confident in the long term strength of our nation's economy. I believe that the fundamentals are sound. I know the entrepreneurial spirit is high. We have a flexible, we have a resilient and we have a dynamic economy. But there are some uncertainties. And after a lot of thought, I called on the Congress, and your leaders responded, to enact a growth package so we can reduce the risk of an economic downturn this year.

Speaker Pelosi and Leader Boehner have demonstrated strong leadership. They reached an agreement on a proposal that will have a positive impact on our economy. Congress should move it quickly. And I understand the desire to add provisions from both the right and the left. I strongly believe it would be a mistake to delay or derail this bill.

This package is big enough to affect the economy in positive ways. It will provide immediate help and it's temporary. The entire package is tax relief. There are no tax increases, no unnecessary spending or regulatory projects. Income tax cuts for a lot of people, as well as bonus depreciation for our businesses and small business expensing.

This is a sound package. It makes a lot of sense. It's need. And you need to pass it as quickly as possible to get money in the hands of the people who are going to help this economy strong.

I'll make sure you understand in the State of the Union that this package certainly doesn't mean we ought to do something else on taxes. And the best thing we can do to deal with uncertainty in the economy is make the tax cuts we pass permanent.

Thank you. Thank you all.

Our most solemn duty is to protect the American people. And I appreciate the fact that we've worked closely together over the last seven years to do just that. That is our most solemn duty. Fortunately, we've got a lot of good people working hard to help us protect America. And these professionals need the tools they need to do their jobs.

You know, one of the most important tools is to be able to figure out the intentions of an enemy that still wants to do us harm. If they're making calls into America, we need to know why they're calling, what they're thinking and what they're planning. We passed the Protect America Act that is aiding our efforts to monitor the communications of terrorists and foreign intelligence targets. And I want to thank the good work of the people here to get that bill passed last year. Unfortunately, the bill is set to expire in seven days. The threat to America does not expire in seven days.

The Senate Intelligence Committee completed work last fall on a bipartisan bill that we can support. It may need some tweaks, but it's a good bill in this sense. It will maintain the vital flow of intelligence on terrorist threats and to protect the privacy of Americans while making sure we do not extend those same protections to terrorists overseas. It will provide liability protection to companies now facing billion dollars in lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks. I'm looking forward to coming before you in Congress and to say as plainly as I can, this bill is important to the security of the United States of America and the Congress needs to get a good bill to my desk as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to working with you. I thank you. I appreciate the leadership. I appreciate the chance to come and visit with you. Thank you for being friends. Thank you for serving our country. I also want to thank your families. I understand -- I think I've told you this before, I understand what it does to a family to be in public . . .

SESAY: All right, we're going to leave the scene there taking place in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the president is addressing the 2008 Congress of tomorrow. He was speaking after a tentative agreement was reached yesterday on a stimulus package. He spoke widely (ph). He said he thought it was a good package. He was keen to stress that he want this bill to be passed rapidly by both houses of Congress. He was hoping that it would not be delayed or derailed. It was important to get that money in the hands of people who will spend it, he said.

All right. We're going to take a short break now. YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after that. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Our very own Hala Gorani is in the Swiss Alps rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers at the World Economic Forum.

Hala, I know this is your first year there. What's been your impression?

GORANI: Well, you know, you can imagine, Isha, what it's like. Just getting a coffee at the Plentary (ph) Bar, as it's called on one of the levels here at the World Economic Forum Congress Center, and seeing Henry Kissinger, the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner or the Malaysian prime minister, say hello to the Pakistan prime minister, have coffee with the Japanese member of parliament. I mean it is just unbelievable to see all these movers and shakers and global decision makers. Those people we look at for answers and we expect solutions from all gathered in one place.

And the big question here for everyone isn't just, how will our relationship and our conversation go in some private room off the Congress Center floor, but also, what is it -- the future of humanity for us? What does it hold in store for us? The global economic recession, as well as other Middle East peace problems. And also you have some people who talk about the future of love. Very interesting subject matter.

Isha, back to you.

SESAY: Many thanks, Hala.

Well, that's it for this hour. I'm Isha Sesay. And this is CNN. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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