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AMERICAN MORNING

Barack Obama Speaks About Economy in New York; Viagara Turns Ten; Cars Shot at on I-64 in Virginia

Aired March 27, 2008 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, on the subject of politics, we're about an hour away from Senator Barack Obama's speech on the number one issue for Americans, the economy. Obama is in New York this morning .He's going to be introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg who says his endorsement is still up for grabs.
Our Suzanne Malveaux is live from downtown New York where Obama is going to be speaking. She joins us.

Suzanne, earlier this week, it was Hillary Clinton on the economy. Now it's Senator Obama's chance to answer.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and what we're going to hear is some highlights, essentially talking about how to face the mortgage crisis, the housing crisis. He's going to talk about a greater role with the Federal Housing Administration. He's also going to be talking about bankruptcy reform and he is also going to go after some of the other ideas from the candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton, she is offering a $30 billion kind of Federal aid package to try to help those who are struggling and Senator John McCain specifically.

He's going to talk about how he believes that his plan, when it comes to a limited role in the government and helping people out is really not the way to go. He's going to talk about education and health care, but expect, John, that he is really going to be hitting the housing prices the hardest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: According to John McCain, he said that the best way for us to address the fact that millions of Americans are losing their homes is to just sit back and watch it happen. In his entire speech yesterday he offered not one policy, not one idea, not one bit of relief to the nearly 35,000 North Carolinians who are forced to foreclose on their dream over the last few months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So you hear that he's going to be coming out quite strong against Senator John McCain. John McCain saying that of course, people need aid. They need relief but he doe not necessarily think that it's the Federal government's role to be the one that is in the forefront of providing that kind of relief John, so this is really something that you're going to see the candidates back and forth really trying to convince the voters what is the best way to help them with issue number one and that of course, is the economy -- John.

ROBERTS: Yesterday on the campaign trail, fresh back from a few days off in the Virgin Islands, Barack Obama talked about Reverend Jeremiah Wright. People thought that he had moved past that issue.

Why is he still talking about it and can we expect that he'll be talking about it more in the days to come?

MALVEAUX: Well, the campaign certainly doesn't think that this thing is over. They feel that there are unanswered questions. But essentially what you heard was Senator Clinton the day before addressing the issue. It kind of re-emerged, if you will, saying that she would have left this pastor, that it wouldn't have been her pastor, that you can choose your pastor but not your relatives so really kind of threw it out in the forefront once again.

Barack Obama is essentially trying to exhaust this. He's trying to ally his concerns, answer those questions and put it off the table. So they feel that if they deal with this now, perhaps later on down the road in the general election, it's not going to be as toxic -- John.

ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning down in downtown New York. An don't forget, we are going to be carrying Barack Obama's speech live on cnn.com, 9:15 Eastern today and another speech by Hillary Clinton at 10:30 Eastern.

And there are new numbers on how the Democratic candidates are viewed. Forty nine percent of those surveyed in the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll give Barack Obama a positive rating; 32 percent give him a negative rating. For Clinton, 37 percent give her a positive rating, but look at this, her negatives, 48 percent. If the vote were held today, Obama has a slight edge over Senator John McCain, 44 to 42 percent. McCain has an edge over Clinton 46 to 44 percent -- Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: To Iraq now and more deadly violence to tell you about this morning, at least 42 people killed in the Shiite city of Kut. Iraqi troops cracking down on fighters loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr. This has been going on for a third day now, some of the pictures. More of the fighting centered in Baghdad and Basra. More than 100 people have been killed since Tuesday.

CNN's Kyra Phillips is live in Baghdad with more on how the situation is unfolding today -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Kiran, this is what everyone was worried about here, from military commanders to Iraqi leaders. They were worried about the fighting and that it would spread, that it would threaten the U.S. surge, that it would threaten the cease-fire that had already been in place, because violence was down.

In the past couple of days that violence has just escalated. I can tell you as of this morning, rocket attacks, mortar fires into the international zone. This is the area where the Iraqi parliament is, the U.S. embassy, a lot of key military posts.

This is normally the safer area in the Baghdad -- in the city of Baghdad, but this morning, more attacks. One person now definitely confirmed dead within the past couple of days, increased this morning.

Now why is this happening? Military sources saying a message to Nuri al Maliki to pull his forces out of Basra, that's where it all began when we started talking about this Kiran a couple days ago. Basra has had issues with assassinations, with theft, with criminal activity and Nuri al Maliki has wanted to crack down on that area.

Shiite cleric, radical cleric, Muqtada al Sadr very powerful voice here in Iraq. That's where all the Shia support comes from. He is now in the middle of this messy army fighting those Iraqi forces. His cease-fire already being threatened at this time. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, Kyra. We'll check in with you again throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, Alina Cho is here with some other stories new this morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, guys.

Good morning, good morning everybody. New this morning, the search for a suspect who shot at cars on Interstate 64 in Virginia, a 20-mile stretch of I-64 between Charlottesville and Waynesboro was shut down for a while overnight in both directions. At least four cars were shot at. Two people were hurt. As we said, police are still looking for the shooter.

It may have been a sleepless night for some in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Take a look at that, loud noises. Demonstrators banged pots, sang songs outside the government building and the presidential palace. This is the third week of a strike by ranchers and farmers. No reports of major violence. Farmers are protesting a tax hike on soybean exports.

The U.S. military is now speaking out about an incident off the coast of Alaska involving two long-range Russian bombers. Two U.S. F- 15s escorted those bombers out of the American airspace which is called an air exclusion zone off Alaska. The U.S. doesn't allow unidentified planes to fly there without a flight plan. The Russian bombers were escorted out of the area without incident.

Delta Airlines will announce today whether more flights will be canceled while engineers inspect two types of planes. Hundreds of passengers are still waiting to get home this morning in Atlanta's Hartfield Jackson airport, some of them sleeping. Delta canceled dozens of flights last night to re-inspect the wiring on MD-88 and MD- 90 jets. American Airlines also canceled more than 300 flights earlier in the day to inspect its planes. Both carriers performed the re-inspections after the FAA issued an advisory about the wiring.

And a very happy anniversary to one of the best known drugs in the world. We're talking about the little blue pill. Ten years ago today, the FDA approved Viagra and over that time an estimated 30 million men have been prescribed it and millions more probably took it without a prescription.

We're going to talk more about this with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about the medical impact of Viagra. Of course there's also a huge cultural impact including those famous commercials, who could forget. Bob Dole as a spokesman and of course, the 10 years of jokes -- many, many jokes over the years that we've had.

CHETRY: And what did Sanjay say? Started off, they were doing testing to see whether or not it helped against chest pain and discovered Viagra, and no one wanted to give back the blue pill!

Thanks, Alina.

Well, if there's a spare tire around your waist, you may want to listen up to this study. There is a new study connecting fat around your belly to dementia in your brain. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is tracking this story for us this morning as well.

A lot of connections made between belly fat, because I guess it's an indicator of overall health. How about as it relates to dementia?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I found this really interesting, pretty fascinating. Think of it like this. In your late 30s, early 40s, relatively thin but you got a little bit of a spare tire around your waist, you have a body twice as likely to develop dementia by the time you're 70. Think about that for a second.

So even if you're thin, but just a little bit of a spare tire, there's actually a predictor of dementia from that little spare tire. It doesn't matter if you're carrying around a lot of extra weight. It depends on where that weight is specifically.

It's known for some time that having that belly fat can be a predictor of heart disease. It can be a predictor of diabetes, stroke, but dementia, you can add that to the list now as a result of the new study. Take a look as well.

If you're normal weight overall and you're carrying around a little extra body fat in your belly, about 89 percent increased risk of dementia. If you're overweight, have a big belly, about 134 percent risk and ask you mentioned Kiran, obese and big belly, almost three times the risk of dementia.

Kiran, what is going on here? We've done a lot of stories on this and investigating into this. You have all kinds of fat in your body. You have a little bit of what's called subcutaneous fat that's just underneath your skin. That tends to be less problematic.

What we know is that fat that's stored around your belly, call it visceral fat, if you will, in the visceral area of your body, that can get around your organs. And what we now know is that it causes changes of hormones in your body. It increased inflammation and cause an increase in all the diseases that I just mentioned.

CHETRY: Is it also an indicator, especially in you're a slim person but you have it that you're probably not working out and how important it is to get that cardiovascular exercise in there?

GUPTA: Yes, and let me give you good news about that as well. They talk about the fruit-shaped body. You have the apple shape, which is the shape that we're talking about here and the pear shape. Getting rid of the belly fat and a lot of people will disagree on this, but it's actually easier to get rid of than some of the pear shaped sort of fat if will you.

Exercise is a huge part of it. Aerobic, as you mentioned, cardiovascular exercise, but what they also find is that adding weight training actually increases your overall metabolic rate. So you burn more calories at rest just as you're sitting here talking to me. You're going to burn more calories if you have a little bit more muscle mass as a result of weight training. Diet, obviously, you can never ignore that, a big predictor of belly fat as well.

CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, thanks so much. Another reason to exercise. We all know it.

GUPTA: Just like mama said. The same rules apply.

CHETRY: Thanks, Sanjay.

ROBERTS: Get out there and stay active. Ten minutes after the hour.

The U.S. Airways pilot who accidentally discharged his gun piercing the side of the cockpit is now speaking out. We'll tell what you he says he was doing when the gun went off.

And a Republican who thinks the Iraq war is a historic blunder for America and that the U.S. may be looking for a bipartisan presidential ticket. We're talking with Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Fighting in Iraq is intensifying and spreading. More than 40 people were killed in the city of Kut today, more than 100 killed since Tuesday. Our next guest is a prominent Republican who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq. His new book is titled, "America, Our Next Chapter, Tough Questions and Straight Answers." We're supposed to have a picture of it. Somebody hold it up. There it is.

Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska joins me now.

Senator, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in. Let me ask you a question about the campaign first of all. You said that you were going to wait until the candidates spoke about Iraq before you made a decision on who you would support and whether or not you would support anyone. Senator John McCain had an extensive speech on foreign policy yesterday.

Let's listen to what he said about Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Have you heard enough that you can say whether or not you're going to support John McCain?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R) NEBRASKA: First of all, John is a good friend and there's no one in the Senate that I respect more than John McCain. I want to have a conversation with John. I'll have that conversation. I want to have it in a private way and I want to walk through some of these things with him, because I think the next four year, the next president, is going to have to do things dramatically different than what this administration has been doing I think to really undermine our interests in the world.

John and I have some pretty fundamental differences on Iraq, on foreign policy. Some of those he articulated yesterday. I never believed that the context that Iraq should be looked at from is a win or lose proposition. It's not ours to win or lose. It's the Iraqi people who will make that decision. We can help them, but I think what's going on in Iraq today is further evidence now in our sixth year that this is, as General Petraeus told our committee last year, this is a matter of not having and never will have a military solution.

ROBERTS: John McCain, in terms of foreign policy, was talking about fostering better ties with the allies, that America can no longer go out there in the world and do what it wants where it wants, when it wants. Do you agree on that?

HAGEL: That's a point I've been making for years in speeches as you know. I make that point in the book. It's a point I think this administration has somehow disconnected from, which is astounding to me. Bush's father didn't do it, Reagan didn't do it, Eisenhower didn't it, Kennedy didn't, but you ask the question specifically about Iraq.

But I was very pleased to see what John said yesterday about alliances, because these challenges that face the world today are global and it's going to require a strengthening of our alliances with our friends to deal with environmental issues, energy issue, certainly proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, extremism. We can't do that alone and I think that's part of the reason we're in so much trouble in the Middle East today.

ROBERTS: But you're not ready yet to put your stamp of approval on John McCain candidacy? HAGEL: I'm not ready to endorse him for president yet, no.

ROBERTS: Let me come back to Iraq and what you said in the book here. You had some pretty harsh words. Let's put them up on the screen and we'll share them with everybody. You said quote taken in sum, this administration's hell bent determination to go to war in Iraq was an historic blunder, borne of an astounding amount of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence.

In my opinion, this misstep will play out to be the most dangerous and costly foreign policy debacle in our nation's history. This is a war we should point out too, that you gave authorization to the president to wage. What do you think the next president should do? Should they just pull out?

HAGEL: Well, that's not a realistic option either, just pull out. You couldn't do that even if you wanted to do that. Simply because of the logistics wouldn't allow you, but I believe that where we need to start the new president, as the new president inherits this mess and not only this mess, but you can't disconnect this from all the rest of the dynamics, our economy, oil, relationships, Afghanistan which, in my opinion is the real center of the war on terrorism. That border between Pakistan and Afghanistan represents the real threat, security threat to this country. It isn't Iraq.

But I think what the next president's going to have to do, what I would do I would go dust off the Baker Hamilton report. I would look at those 76 recommendations which many of us enthusiastically endorsed. Some are outdated; most ever not. We're going to have to engage Iran, engage Syria, institutionalize, formalize some kind of a Middle East security structure. We're going to have to have a plan to start withdrawing our forces.

This issue about supposedly the surge was so successful, what I think again, evidence presents something otherwise today, but if the military tactical surge was so successful, why is the Bush administration going to leave more troops in Iraq this year, at least what they've hinted they're going to do, than what we had in there before the surge? So there's only one way out of this and that is some political accommodation that the Iraqis are going to have to come to moving towards political reconciliation.

ROBERTS: You mentioned Senator, Iran just a moment ago. Do you think this administration wants to go to war with Iran?

HAGEL: I think there are some in this administration who seriously still consider that option. We have a Middle East today that is more combustible, more complicated, more dangerous than ever in the history of the Middle East, look around the Middle East.

Now, if this administration's policies have been so successful, if they're working so well by not talking to anyone and invading countries, then why are we in the predicament we're in and it's only going to get worse. Look at the oil shut that's been down in southern Iraq today. The Shia militias have controlled southern Iraq the last three years. We have just deferred that. There are no Americans down there and we act like, well, everything is fine. Well, everything is not fine and obviously there comes to a point where there's a confluence on these issues and now we're seeing that just in southern Iraq and what we're seeing as a consequence of our actions in -- in Baghdad are going to further play out more violence.

ROBERTS: Senator, I'd love to talk to you for about all of these issues and your views on them, but unfortunately time is running short. But there is one more issue I'd like to get to, that is, as it relates to American politics. You had very harsh words for the two- party system now, gridlock in Congress.

You say in your book, quote, in the current impasse, an independent candidate for the presidency or a bipartisan unity ticket with a president from one party and a vice president from the other could be appealing to Americans. With Mayor Bloomberg now saying that he's not going to do that, it's not looking likely, but what does it say about the current state of politics in this country?

HAGEL: It says that the current state of politics is in a lot of trouble. Look at just a couple of numbers. Your Gallup poll numbers on 81 percent of the American people last week saying America's going in the wrong direction. The plurality of registered voters in America today, not Republicans, we're down in the teen, Republicans, not Democrats, independents.

More and more people parking, believing that both parties have let them down. The leadership in Congress has not dealt with the big issues. Our job approval rating in Congress consistently last two to three years has been in the teens. The president has been in the high 20s, low 30s consistently.

That tells me that the American people think the system's broken and that we are now hostage to a political paralysis and we are. We're not moving this country forward. The next president, the next four years, has got to break that and I think he or she can do that if they're willing to reach out, form a consensus of governance.

ROBERTS: If we're not moving ahead, there are plenty of other countries in the world that are.

HAGEL: And I have some chapters on that as well. By the way, my vote on the war resolution since you mentioned that, I explain all that in two of the chapters in the book.

ROBERTS: And you do it quite well. Senator Chuck Hagel, thanks very much. You should pick it up. The book is called "America, Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers" from Chuck Hagel. It's a terrific read. I read it on vacation last winter, quite enjoyable.

Thanks very much for coming in. We got to get you back, too.

HAGEL: I love to be here.

ROBERTS: We'll see you again Senator. Kiran?

CHETRY: Also ahead, the government's bailout of Bear Stearns could lead to a major overhaul of financial regulations. So what does it all mean to you? We're asking our personal finance editor Gerri Willis when we come back.

Also, a case we followed closely here on AMERICAN MORNING, a woman dies at the Phoenix airport while in police custody. The family now set to a face-off with the city, while police point the finger at her husband. Some new developments in the case this morning. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: We're talking about it all day today, including a special show at 12:00 noon today and a big question is, should these investment banks like Bear Stearns be under the same government scrutiny as commercial banks? It's what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is considering. So what would that mean to you and me? CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here to explain.

Some people may say, wait a minute, they're not under this same type of scrutiny and regulation? Is that how we got into this sub- prime mess?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, the Securities and Exchange Commission is supposed to be watching over them, but big questions about their role in this. What's interesting about the speech by Paulson yesterday, he's basically the first administration official, top administration official, to come out and say hey, these investment banks need more scrutiny. He actually stood behind the Fed's decision and that's unusual for this administration.

Specifically he calls for the Fed to have greater scrutiny over these firms and says he's going release a blueprint for new regulations from the Treasury for this very thing. I want to show you, I have a full screen here, just want to show you the kind of things he's talking about. He wants the Federal government to get information on how much money these institutions have, greater transparency on their information.

A lot of these things was off the books, as you know. So he wants to see that on the books. Better access to information, if you're going to put us on the hook for $30 billion, you sure as heck better share some information about what's going on at your institution.

CHETRY: And also we're going to learn a little bit more about the specifics of this Bear Stearns deal as well soon.

WILLIS: Exactly. The Senate Banking and Senate Finance Committees are going to hold a hearing and they're going to bring people in to talk about what went on. I did want to share with you one quote from Paulson who spoke yesterday to the Chamber of Commerce. He talks here a little bit about how much he thinks, how far government should go. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY PAULSON, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: And it would be premature to jump to the conclusion that all broker dealers are other potentially important financial firms in our system today should have permanent access to the Fed's liquidity facility. Recent market conditions are an exception from the norm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIS: Exception from the norm, but he's going to make it work, I think in this instant. Interesting that a top administration official now saying I was the right thing to do. That was the implication of his speech yesterday. Kiran

CHETRY: Gerri, thanks -- John.

ROBERTS: New violence in Iraq this morning, 42 people are dead after fighting breaks out in the city of Kut. That's east of Baghdad, as the battle between Iraqi forces and radical cleric's army spills yet into another city. What's being done to try to stop the violence coming up next.

New developments this morning in the case of the woman who died at the Phoenix airport in police custody. Her family now filing a multimillion dollar claim. Do they have a case? The police speak out, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Thanks for joining us. Thursday morning, the 27th of March. Good to have you with us. Good to see you as well.

CHETRY: You, too, John.

And we start with fighting in Baghdad again today killing at least 42 people in the southern Iraqi city of Kut, a mostly Shiite city. Iraqi security forces still trying to contain fighters loyal to radical cleric Muqtada Al Sadr.

Here's some video now of the fighting, now entering a third straight day across southern Iraq. A Shiite stronghold, radical cleric Al Sadr is asking the Iraqi government to end its crackdown on his army. The government says it's only targeting those who are ignoring Al Sadr's own ceasefire order. Iraq's Prime Minister has given them until tomorrow to drop their weapons or face tougher measures.

CNN is also getting an exclusive look at the cell where Saddam Hussein spent his final days. Our Kyra Phillips and here team were the first television crew to gain access. The military officer overseeing detention operations at the Baghdad prison talked to Kyra about Saddam Hussein, what he was like the morning of his execution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJ. GEN. DOUG STONE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: So he got up. He was informed that, in fact, today would be the day that he would be going to the execution. He bathed himself here in a very modest manner. It was winter, so it was cold. He then put on his dark suit, the one that I think most people have seen that was laying out here. He put that on. He was all ready to go. It took I think about a ten-minute delay. But as he went out, he said goodbye to the guards and then got in the vehicles and, of course, proceeded on over for the execution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, Major General Stone says Hussein's nickname behind bars was VIC, meaning very important criminal. Kyra also saw what was believed to be the last known picture of Saddam Hussein before he was executed.

ROBERTS: Thirty-two minutes after the hour. Senator Barack Obama is in New York this morning for what his campaign is calling a major speech on the economy. Then he is taking aim at Senator John McCain.

Obama criticized McCain's speech yesterday where he said he doesn't want to bail out irresponsible lenders or borrowers who took on more than they could afford in the mortgage crisis. Obama says that wait and see approach is the wrong answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: John McCain has admitted that he doesn't understand the economy as well as he should. And yesterday, he proved it in a speech he gave on the housing crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And you can catch Senator Obama's speech on the economy coming up live in New York at 9:15 Eastern here on CNN, as we continue to follow issue number one. Senator Hillary Clinton also talking about the economy. At a speech in Washington, she said that she thinks that things will only get worse if gasoline prices keep skyrocketing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think of what will happen to our economy if gas really does hit $4 a barrel in the summer. I mean, $4 a gallon. It's already $112 a barrel. What that's going to mean is that people who commute to work, people who rely on cars and their trucks to make a living, people who have to buy food, that has to be trucked in, everything's going to be increasingly expensive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Senator Clinton speaks at 10:30 Eastern today at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and you can see it live, if you're away from your television set, you can watch both speeches on your computer. Log on to cnn.com and follow the links to the live event.

We have been talking about new polls that show possible dissension in the Democratic ranks. At least two polls show more than 20 percent of Hillary Clinton's supporters and Obama's backers would vote for McCain if their candidate doesn't win the nomination, and that brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question.

Democrats, we're calling on you this morning. If your candidate does not win the nomination will you vote for McCain? Right now 44 percent of you say, yes, you would. 56 percent say, no way. I'm a tried and true Democrat and I'm going to stay that way.

Cast your vote at cnn.com/am. We will take the final check of the vote at the end of the hour and we've also got some e-mails that we want to pass along to you as well.

CHETRY: We got a couple of good ones we're going to read a little later.

Meanwhile, we have some new numbers on the economy now. For that we go to Ali Velshi. Some news just in.

Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm not going to read you numbers and upset you. There are just two numbers that came in. One is the final read on the gross domestic product, that's sort of the broadest measure of how the economy is doing for the last quarter, the last three months of 2007. Those numbers came in unchanged. The economy grew by 0.6 of a percent.

We knew that already. This is - they give you those numbers sort of three times to make sure they are what they are. So, we've got a confirmation, that means a recession. If there is one, didn't start in 2007. If it started, it would have started in the beginning of 2008. Maybe that hasn't started at all.

We also got a job -- a read on jobless claims. Those numbers were largely where we expected them to be. So, two major economic numbers out this morning that weren't far from where we estimated they would be. As a result, no big change, if anybody's watching markets or their portfolios today, these won't be the things that influence them.

So, GDP slowing down very dramatically at the end of 2007. Again, not big news. We knew that already and jobless claims continuing where we thought they were. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Ali Velshi for us with the latest number this morning. Thanks.

And still ahead, was asking Chelsea Clinton about the Monica Lewinsky scandal fair game? Next, we're going to talk to the student who asked that very question. We're going to find out what, what he was trying to find out about candidate Clinton and his reaction to all of the publicity he's been getting because of it, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Thirty-seven minutes after the hour. New this morning, Carol Ann Gotbaum's death at a holding cell at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix last September drew national attention.

Now, attorneys for her family have filed an $8 million claim against the city and its police department. It is the first step in filing a wrongful death suit. We'll hear from AMERICAN MORNING legal analyst Sunny Hostin coming up in just a second.

But first of all, our Alina Cho also here this morning. She has followed this case from the very beginning and she's got the very latest on the suit.

CHO: Hey, there. Good morning, John.

Who could forget this story? Really, you know, this really wasn't a question of if it would happen but when. It has been six months since Carol Ann Gotbaum died at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Now her family says maybe she'd be alive today if Phoenix Police had handled things differently. The Gotbaum family as you just heard seeking $8 million in this notice of claim as it's called, which is the first step in filing a lawsuit.

A lawyer for husband Noah Gotbaum says Carol Ann, a 45-year-old mother of three, was treated as if she was a "dangerous criminal" rather than the sick, intoxicated and vulnerable person that she was. In fact, Noah Gotbaum tried to warn airport authorities about her condition in a series of frantic phone calls.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NOAH GOTBAUM, HUSBAND OF CAROL ANN GOTBAUM: They're waiting for her down in Cottonwood at the rehab center down there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

GOTBAUM: She is suicidal. Obviously she is -- she has been -- she is alcohol abusive, but she is also in deep depression, and the police have to understand that they're not dealing with someone who's been just drinking on a flight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Unfortunately, those calls came too late and late yesterday the city of Phoenix and its police department wasted no time responding to the Gotbaum claim, placing the blame squarely on the family for allowing Carol Ann to travel alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE: We deeply respect the family and the loss that they feel, however, things are what they are. The facts are as they occurred. The officers had no idea what the condition was of Ms. Gotbaum. They have no idea about her medical history, her prior history, and that information was not conveyed to those officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: As many know by now, Gotbaum was on her way to an alcohol rehab center in Tucson, Arizona, mixed her connection in Phoenix and became enraged. Many of you have seen this airport surveillance video that shows officers, three of them actually struggling to arrest her. She was taken into police custody for disorderly conduct. Shortly thereafter, was left in a holding cell alone.

And autopsy showed she died after she accidentally strangled herself while apparently trying to get out of her handcuffs. She was also legally drunk at the time. She had been drinking alcohol and was also taking antidepressants. But the family, John, says none of this would have happened if the police had treated her with more care.

Of course, the police were quick to respond, they held a news conference within the hour of the family filing this claim. They not only said, which is interesting, not only said that the police officers took the right action, they said the family took the wrong action. That's what caused her death.

ROBERTS: The police were definitely ready for this thing. They knew it was going to be coming up.

CHO: They most certainly were.

ROBERTS: Sunny Hostin is here with some legal analysis on this.

It's quite a file of papers you got there. You've been going through them. Does the Gotbaum family have a case?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think they do, certainly. And you're right, it's quite a pile of papers. Unbelievable. The family filed over 200 pages and they only had to file a notice of claim, as Alina mentioned which is typically just a letter. And in their notice of claim, they have a lot of supporting documentation.

And what they're saying is, listen, the police department clearly knew that she was mentally unstable, they said it. It's been written in police reports. They also said that they violated their own police procedures of dealing with someone that is mentally unstable.

And if you look at case, John, it's really interesting. They're alleging excessive force. And you look at the video. Clearly, you've got three police officers, one with his knee in her back arresting her. Again, after that, they've then chained her to a fixed object which is apparently against police procedure, for someone that's intoxicated or mentally unstable and then she was in leg irons. And so that is really the family's claim.

And interestingly, again, as Alina said, within the hour they have this press conference, the city and they also say in their response, in their written response, it's only seven pages. Not 200 and say listen, it's the family's fault. They didn't notify anybody. Why was she traveling alone? The police department was completely appropriate. She was arrested for disorderly conduct, and they responded with professionalism and restraint.

ROBERTS: We'll keep following this case very closely, because we've been on it since September 28, the day that it happened. Sunny, Alina, thanks very much.

CHO: You're welcome.

ROBERTS: Kiran.

CHETRY: And still ahead, he asked the question of Chelsea Clinton about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Was that fair game? Well, next, we're going to talk to the student behind the question and what he thought of her response. Plus what type of reaction he's been getting now that his question and the response has been all over the news. He joins us on AMERICAN MORNING next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, Chelsea Clinton has been making the rounds for her mother, on behalf of her mother. For months now, she's been touring college campuses. She's been answering questions from hundreds of students. But one question about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Hillary Clinton's credibility was a first she says and this is how he handled it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF SEN. CLINTON: Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question, in the, I don't know, maybe 70 college campuses that I've now been to. And I do not think that's any of your business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, joining me now from Indianapolis, the Butler University student who asked that question, Evan Strange joins us this morning.

Evan, thanks for being with us by the way.

EVAN STRANGE, BUTLER UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Thank you for having me, good morning.

CHETRY: So, what was the reaction in the crowd after she said I don't think that's any of your business? We heard some of the clapping. But what did people say to you?

STRANGE: Well, actually, real quickly, I just want to say the question wasn't necessarily about Monica Lewinsky or a credibility, it was about --

CHETRY: Tell us actually, can you remember exactly what you asked? STRANGE: Yes. What I said I just wanted to know your opinion on the criticism that Hillary showed weakness during the Lewinsky scandal and that she may not be a strong enough leader for the president of the United States?

CHETRY: And what was the reaction after Chelsea gave the response she gave to you?

STRANGE: I mean, I think a few people were surprised but then it was followed by some loud applause, which was interesting, but - I mean, definitely --

CHETRY: What did people say to you?

STRANGE: Well, my classmates, I was there with the mass communications class, and a couple of my classmates came up to me and said you know what that was a valid question that I wanted to know as well.

CHETRY: And what did you think of her response?

STRANGE: I mean, just mentioning Lewinsky, I think, she probably just shut down and because she's heard it so many times and just you know just didn't want to talk about it. And I respect that. She obviously has that right, but I think it should have been talked about.

CHETRY: Because she said that on the 70 college campuses she'd been to, she hadn't gotten that before and she also said it's none of your business. Do you think it is the business of potential voters for her mom?

STRANGE: Yes. Absolutely. Number one, she's campaigning for her mom. So, I think, you know, any question is valid, and especially when there's a $3 trillion budget at hand. It's a question that needs to be answered especially when many voters want to know.

CHETRY: And you're somebody who is supporting Hillary Clinton, right? You're planning to vote for her?

STRANGE: Yes, as of now, yes.

CHETRY: And you're still planning to vote for her after the exchange?

STRANGE: Yes. I still think she's a great candidate. It just shows that, you know, the Clintons are human and they don't always have the best answers.

CHETRY: So, what were you hoping to learn by Chelsea answering that question. What were your concerns, I guess you could say about how strong of a leader she would be and how it would relate to the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

STRANGE: I mean, I'm pretty convinced, I think she's a strong leader. What I wanted to hear is basically for all the people on campus, who weren't so sure and I wanted to give her a chance, you know, kind of say, that she is a strong leader and she served in the Senate and she is a strong lawyer and all those other things.

CHETRY: Now, you and many of your classmates weren't even in your teens when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Why is it something that's still is important for you to weigh in and to know about?

STRANGE: I mean, unfortunately, that's something that's always going to be associated with the Clintons, but it's just something that's in the back of everyone's mind. I mean, when I talk to my friends, my classmates and I ask them what they think about Hillary, they always -- one of their number one questions is about her strength and her ability to lead the country, and they always use that scandal as an example.

CHETRY: And if had you to do it over again, would you have asked that question of Chelsea?

STRANGE: Absolutely. People want to know and I think it should be answered.

CHETRY: All right. Evan Strange, Butler University student. Thanks so much for being with this morning.

STRANGE: Thank you for having me.

CHETRY: Still ahead, U.S. Airways pilot, the one whose gun discharged while the flight was actually on the runway says he was trying to stow the weapon when it went off. Well, that's according to a new police report, it says the pilot did not notify police until after the plane had landed at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The bullet pierce a hole in the cockpit. No one was hurt. The pilot was taken off duty was authorized to carry a gun.

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

Good morning to you, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John. Good morning to you.

Good morning, everyone. Developing stories. A lot of hustle ahead in the NEWSROOM. A lot of moving parts for you today. Barack Obama outlining his plan to fix the economy, next hour. Hillary Clinton talking the economy later in the morning. Both live here right here on the NEWSROOM.

Fighting in Iraq, threatening from Basra to other Shiite cities. President Bush discussing his Iraq strategy live this morning. Could be a pretty difficult day for Delta passengers. The airline pulling planes out of service for safety inspections. Breaking news when it happens, it always happens in the NEWSROOM, top of the hour on CNN. John, back to you.

ROBERTS: We will see you then. A short 11 minutes from now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta meantime, getting ready to open up his mail bag. He is with us.

Sanjay, what do you got coming up?

GUPTA: My favorite segment of the week, John, the mailbag. We talk about all kinds of things. You're on a diet, but you're still not losing weight, take a tour through the colon. Virtual colonoscopy the pros and cons and varicose veins. You won't believe how many people get them. I got the questions right here, coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Eight minutes to the top of the hour and every Thursday our Dr. Sanjay Gupta digs into his medical mailbag and answers your questions.

CHETRY: Sanjay joins us now. We're going to dive right in. Hey, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Hey, good morning.

CHETRY: Let's get to Diane, she starts off by saying, she's from Georgia and she says: "My doctor tell me I don't eat enough and that's why I'm overweight. Is it really possible for a person to gain weight or be overweight because they're not eating enough calories?"

GUPTA: Diane, it is possible. This may be a little counterintuitive to a lot of people. What happens is your body is caught in survival mode. So, it's taking calories, trying to burn them. If you start cutting way back on calories the body's going to think, look, I'm not sure when I'm going to get fed again.

So, let's start taking those few calories that we're taking in and storing as fat. The exact opposite of what you're probably trying to do Diane. So when going on a diet, you may want to curtail your diet a little bit. Take away a few calories, if you're on a 2000- calorie diet, take down to 1700 maybe for example, but don't cut it way back or you're going to start kicking those survival instincts which may be counteracting what you're trying to do.

CHETRY: It's that new study saying people who ate breakfast are less obese, likely to be obese than people that skips it.

GUPTA: That's right and you also tend to eat less calories throughout the day if you eat breakfast. So, two good things there.

ROBERTS: And nobody eats breakfast like Kiran! Shawn of New Orleans get our next question here, Sanjay.

Shawn writes: "Is a virtual colonoscopy as effective as the traditional procedure?"

GUPTA: Really interesting, Shawn. In fact, there was study that came out not that long about but we're talking about the virtual colonoscopy is actually taking a little pill that takes pictures of your colon as it goes through. They studied 3,000 patients who have the traditional colonoscopy where they placed a probe versus the virtual colonoscopy and they found that the results were very similar in terms of detecting early cancer. Now, there are pros and cons with everything. The pro of the virtual colonoscopy is that it's not an invasive procedure. That's an advantage.

The disadvantages, if you're doing the, on the virtual colonoscopy, if they see something abnormal, they really can't do anything about it. You still sort of have to opt into the actual colonoscopy to remove what may be an abnormal polyp or even cancer.

CHETRY: All right. Let's get one more question and Dana in North Carolina, she has the final question today.

She asks: "What causes varicose veins?"

GUPTA: Dana, you know, it's interesting, we looked into this a little bit. First thing that sort of surprised me is that 25 million Americans, just 25 million in this country suffer from varicose veins. These are sometimes these unsightly veins that crop up on your leg, they turn blue, they sort of bulge out from under the skin.

And what's happening is the blood that is supposed to be flowing from your legs all the way back to your heart sometimes get a little stopped up. The valves break, and the blood starts to pool in the bottom part of your legs.

Now, there are surgical options as they are very unsightly. But for most people, simply increasing exercise, not wearing high heels, getting up, walking around, and sometimes even wearing what's known as a compression stocking can help. Dana, you may want to try those things.

CHETRY: Are they also genetic?

GUPTA: That appears to be that people, it does tend to run in families to the extent that the veins may have faulty valves or they may be a little bigger in certain families.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks very much.

GUPTA: All right, guys.

ROBERTS: If you got a question for Dr. Gupta. E-mail it to us, go to cnn.com/am. Every Thursday Sanjay opens us his mailbag here on AMERICAN MORNING. So, get those questions in.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Well, here's a quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM. is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. Barack Obama's economic fix. He outlines his plan live next hour. Hillary Clinton later in the morning.

Iraq, fighting spreads from Basra to other Shiite cities. President Bush on the road in Ohio talking strategy in Iraq. His speech, live.

Delta canceling flights for emergency safety inspections.

And a big milestone for -- Viagra today. NEWSROOM just minutes away, at the top of the hour on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Time now for a final check of our "Quick Vote" question, calling all Democrats, this is based on some polling out over the last couple of days.

If your candidate doesn't win the nomination will you vote instead for John McCain? Forty-four 44 percent of you saying yes -- 56 percent saying no this morning, that you wouldn't jump party lines. To all of you that voted, thank you.

And we also got some pretty good e-mail responses as well. We're going to read a couple.

Kris from Chicago says: "I will not vote at all if it's a choice between Clinton and McCain or any ticket with Hillary on it. I would rather lose with Obama than win with Clinton."

ROBERTS: And from Lena of Elkton, Maryland, says: "I would be happy to vote for either of the Democratic candidates. Their platforms are very similar. So is their sniping. There is no possible way that I would vote for McCain and four more years of the same old lies, blinders and blunders.

CHETRY: Well, Carl from Franklin, Massachusetts says: "I will vote for McCain if Clinton doesn't get the nomination. We all thought Obama was a breath of fresh air. Reverend Wright proved he wasn't."

So, a lot of varying responses this morning on our "Quick Vote" higher than some of the other polling. But for our viewers, there does seem to be that division there.

ROBERTS: Yes and there were a lot of e-mails as well from people saying, whoa. Democrats wake up. Get a grip. We're talking about, you know, losing the White House here. Do you really want to do that?

CHETRY: As you always say, snatching victory?

ROBERTS: No. Snatching defeat from the jaws of for victory. Not to say that they're destined for victory but there has been, on occasion, a propensity in the Democratic party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. So, a lot of Democrat are hoping that they do not do that this year.

That's going to do it for us. We'll see you again tomorrow.

Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: See you back here tomorrow. CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Betty Nguyen starts right now.

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