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McCain Strategy to Appeal to Independent Voters; Obama Hits on the Economy; What You Should Know About Being Vegan; Russell Simmons Speaks His Mind; The Victims of Human Trafficking Share Their Stories; President Bush Seeks European Union to Put Pressure on Iran; Obama and McCain Court Religious Voters

Aired June 10, 2008 - 07:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: He is predicting that the economy may avoid a "substantial downturn." At a conference last night, Bernanke also said that despite the big jump in unemployment, other factors should offset the impact of high gas prices and that jump in jobless numbers.
Well, the markets and your money on John McCain's mind this morning. The Republican presidential candidate spending the next few days eying our economy and plugging his proposals to help boost business.

Our Dana Bash joins us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra. You know, it's interesting on issues like the economy, John McCain really is running a classic Republican campaign.

In a speech later this morning, he's going to -- we're going to hear him paint Barack Obama as someone who wants to regulate government and raise your taxes. But what's different in general in terms of the kind of strategy McCain is running is the kind of voter he is targeting.


BASH (voice-over): A quick stop at this Richmond, Virginia, coffee shop to get his mug on camera was John McCain's only public appearance before heading to three private fundraisers for much needed cash. But on his Web site, McCain's campaign manager posted their strategy against Barack Obama starting with this ominous reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to talk a little bit about today's political environment. It's among the worst in modern history for Republicans.

BASH: McCain advisers say their best shot at beating Obama is with independent voters on issues from taxes to the environment.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Senator Obama has no record of being involved in this issue that I know of. I will stick by my record and my commitment of many years to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. BASH: The latest CNN poll shows a McCain/Obama dead heat among independents. McCain advisers also say he must win a number of so- called disaffected Democrats, Hillary Clinton voters in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania who told pollsters they would not vote for Obama. But strategists in both parties say luring them will be tough.

PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: He's a Republican. He happens to believe we stay in Iraq as long as we can. And he's voted with George Bush, 89 percent of the time.

BASH: For months, Republican operatives have been privately expressing concern to CNN about how the McCain campaign is executing its strategy.

MCCAIN: And that's not change we can believe in.

BASH: GOP fears that spilled into the open about flat visuals and the negative message in last week's prime time speech just before Obama's.

Republican strategist Bill Kristol wrote in "The New York Times," "Almost every Republican I've talked to is alarmed that the McCain campaign doesn't seem up to the task of electing John McCain."


BASH: McCain advisers are well aware that there are plenty of Republicans worried about how prepared they really are for a fight against Obama. It's unclear if the economics speech McCain will give later this morning will allay those GOP concerns but, Kyra, McCain will compare and contrast his own economic proposals to Obama's, and he's also going to accuse Obama of advocating the biggest tax increase since World War II.

PHILLIPS: All right. Dana Bash, thanks so much. And welcome home, by the way.

BASH: Thank you.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And Senator Barack Obama hitting the economy and his opponent hard. He's on day two of his two-week tour of swing states touting his plan to put more money in your pocket and take some out of other people's pockets. He's also hoping to slow down the McCain campaign by saddling him with a whole set of baggage from the George Bush label.

CNN's Jessica Yellin has got more from Washington.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama on the economy.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: It is time to try something new. It is time for a change. YELLIN: In his first policy speech of the general election, the presumptive Democratic nominee repeatedly tied his opponent to George Bush whom he mentioned 15 times.

OBAMA: Senator McCain wants to turn Bush's policy of too little too late into a policy of even less even later. The centerpiece of John McCain's economic plan amounts to a full throated endorsement of George Bush's policies.

YELLIN: He charged McCain with flip-flopping, once opposing now supporting Bush's tax cuts. And he accused McCain of supporting policy that would give the oil conglomerate Exxon Mobil $1.2 billion in tax breaks.

OBAMA: That isn't just irresponsible, it's outrageous.

YELLIN: The McCain campaign fired back insisting Obama doesn't understand the economy, has repeatedly voted to raise taxes, and is making claims that cannot be verified because "there are not enough specifics."

OBAMA: A week from today I'll be talking about this long-term agenda in more detail.

YELLIN: He did outline a number of short-term proposals including a $50 billion economic stimulus package in part to extend unemployment benefits and create a $10 billion fund to help folks facing foreclosure. A mostly voluntary health care program that would lower premiums to $2,500 for the average family.

A middle class tax cut to about 95 percent of Americans. A windfall profits tax on oil companies, and a $4,000 a year college tuition credit for students who volunteer after graduation. Obama is taking this pitch to battleground states over the next two weeks.

YELLIN (on camera): And the newest proposal of all, Barack Obama is suggesting another round of rebate checks. $20 billion worth. He says it will help struggling Americans, and he liked to see that enacted immediately. Jessica Yellin, CNN Washington.


PHILLIPS: Well, President Bush is on the first full day of his farewell tour of Europe. He's in Slovenia today for a summit with European Union leaders who are ready to issue a warning actually to Iran. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano traveling with the president joins us now live with more.

Elaine, what's the president hoping to accomplish?


Well, Iran certainly tops the list of issues on President Bush's agenda here in Slovenia. The president is looking to get some help from the European Union in increasing pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambition. That means possibly more sanctions. Now, Tehran, of course, continues to insist that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes only. Of course, the United States and other countries are deeply skeptical. Now we're likely to hear more about this very issue at a news conference set to take place here in Slovenia the next hour.

Also, Kyra, we're anticipating that President Bush might possibly make some comments about some economic concerns, of course, that continue to be front and center back home in the United States -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Elaine Quijano live from Slovenia. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: Six minutes after the hour. You are watching the "Most News in the Morning."

Coming up next, the price hike that wasn't. The airlines put the brakes on yet another fare increase. Find out why and if we have seen the last of it.

PHILLIPS: And losing their religion. Have the Democrats found God and the Republicans lost them? Obama mixing politics in the pulpit by courting the churchgoers.

ROBERTS: And coming up later, meatless meals for Mother Earth. The vegan revolution for 2008.

Oprah has done it. Hey, it might be good for you but can it really help to save the planet? Counting the calories of your carbon footprint. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


PHILLIPS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, eating green.


CHEF MATTEO, VEGAN CHEF: It's been known as bland and, you know, granola and tofu and kind of hippie.


PHILLIPS: Could going vegan help the environment and sit well with your stomach?




PHILLIPS: Saving the environment. Alina Cho compares menus to miles per gallon ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: And welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." We now know which restaurants are taking tomatoes off the menu because of a 16-state salmonella outbreak. They include McDonald's, Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bell. Wal-Mart also halting sales. At least 145 people have been affected mostly in New Mexico and Texas.

ROBERTS: Possible sign the demand for air travel is dropping. A weekend fare increase has been pulled back by several airlines. American, United, Continental and Delta all have rolled back the $20 increase that they introduced this past weekend. It is the first fare hike that has failed to take hold since March.

PHILLIPS: And as airlines try to recoup the high cost of oil, some possible relief. Oil futures have fallen slightly after comments by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. He said he wouldn't rule out taking steps to strengthen the dollar. Also, Saudi Arabia says it wants meetings to discuss what it calls unjustifiably high crude prices.

ROBERTS: Now, we've been talking, you know, for weeks about why the price of oil is so high and we're getting different opinions. The Saudis had said oh, it's oil supply and demand. But now they're saying, well, maybe not so much.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It wasn't even a month ago that President Bush arrived cap in hand in Riyadh, and he asked the Saudis to put more oil on the market to help bring those prices down. He got mostly a no from the Saudis and a comment from the Saudi oil minister that when it comes to oil, as you said, it isn't supply. The words they used are supply and demand are imbalanced.

Well, something has clearly changed because on Monday the Saudis came out and said that today's oil prices are unjustified. That's also a quote from them, and the Saudis want to convene a meeting with what they call consumer nations. They also say that they stand ready to meet any increase in demand.

Now, as you mentioned, John, here is the interesting thing. The Saudis say that the current price of oil is not justified by demand, which means it's something other than demand that's causing the run-up that we've seen in oil prices. Something maybe like excessive speculation.

And when we say speculation, by the way, we're talking about people who trade in oil but who don't use the end product. They just trade in it to make money.

Now, moments after the announcement by the Saudis, I asked Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson whether speculators, whether he thinks speculators are driving this oil market. And here's what he told me.


HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: I don't believe financial investors are responsible for and to any significant degree to this price movement. This is supply demand. Financial investors are on both sides of the market. They're long and they're short. They don't set trends. They follow the trends.


VELSHI: Remember Henry Paulson ran Goldman Sachs. He knows a thing or two about speculation and what these things mean. So he is saying that the oil prices are high because of supply and demand.

The Saudis are saying it's not supply and demand. So I'm actually hoping they pull off this meeting. They can all get together and talk it out amongst themselves.

ROBERTS: Figure what it is.



ROBERTS: So the people who are making money hand over fist selling oil at a $100 and whatever --


VELSHI: I'm telling you that this is not --

ROBERTS: And he's saying no, it is.

VELSHI: I would kind of say when the Saudis say that it's not supply and demand, we could treat that as the bottom line. We can treat that as the final analysis on this thing. So really, actually, we should all get together and have this meeting because we'd like to get you on the same room and figure this out. Maybe we can get a break.


ROBERTS: Keep us updated.

VELSHI: I'll keep up very carefully on this one.

PHILLIPS: Well, check out this tape. People in the Midwest dealing with catastrophic flooding from heavy weekend storms.



Wisconsin with all the water just snapped this lakefront home in two. Residents couldn't believe what they were seeing. Take a listen.


DANA KRUEGER, V.P. SAND COUNTY SERVICE COMPANY: You could tell it was going so fast. The sand was coming out from underneath the homes. And you'd see the basement drop first and then the kitchen would come out, and the TVs would come out. It was just a devastating site to see.


PHILLIPS: Rob Marciano tracking all of the extreme weather for us -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've got 14 states that have flood warnings out right now; 285 counties under flood warnings from all this rain depicted in the dark green here.

Most of the big problems have been in through Iowa. Southwestern parts of Wisconsin still under flood warnings there. Most of the rain though at least for now sliding off to the east. It could spell trouble for the northeast later on today.

Right now, just generic showers and thunderstorms rolling in through the Ohio River Valley. Over to the northwest we go. Seattle down to Portland. Rain in the valleys. White up there in the mountains.

Live pictures, Snoqualmie Pass. Check it out. Just east of Seattle, up and over the mountain pass you go, and it is snowing. Yes, and it is June and it's happening right now.

Thanks KOMO for that shot. Traffic flowing nicely, but you can see the snow flakes certainly falling through that street light.

And it's been so cold and so snowy this winter in the Rocky Mountains. Some pictures from Aspen where Ajax is going to open up this weekend. How about that?

Three feet of snow at the top of the hill and they're going to reopen. They've been closed for over a month now. And so much snow that they're going to say, hey, one more weekend just before the summer hits. That's where the cool air is.

Here's where the hot air is. I don't have to tell you if you live in D.C., New York. Boston, 94, 96, 99 degrees. It's going to be another smoking hot day today. Yesterday we broke records that were set back in 1933. Some spots touched to 100, with all that heat and humidity and the cool air, the cool front sliding eastward later on today.

We are going to see the atmosphere pop and we'll look for damaging winds. Possibly some isolated tornadoes. Certainly some rough weather later on this afternoon and tonight. So you will get cooled down, John, but there'll be a little bit of rumble and tumble weather before that happens.

ROBERTS: All right. Nothing like a good thunderstorm as long as it's not a destructive one.

And I dare say, Rob, that this reopening of the ski area there at Ajax deserves closer investigation, and I think you're just the guy to do it.

MARCIANO: I like the way you're thinking.

ROBERTS: All right.

MARCIANO: You may very well investigate that.

ROBERTS: Hope to see you out of there tomorrow. All right.

MARCIANO: If not the next day.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." New strategies for our troops to push from presidential candidates to fine tune the focus on Iraq. Find out what they're saying now. Plus, this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history.


ROBERTS: Modern day slavery right here in America. What's behind this hidden crime? Our Kareen Wynter and a "Black at America" special report. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, born again.


TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: The Democrats have gotten religion. The Republicans have turned agnostic.


ROBERTS: Why the key battleground may not be Florida or Ohio.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: The Democrats need to get in church.


ROBERTS: Religious warfare ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: Barack Obama has a new plan to woo evangelical voters. Some of the religious voters who traditionally vote Republican feel forgotten by John McCain.

ROBERTS: Carol Costello has got a look at how both campaigns are going after this critical voting bloc -- Carol.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Election 2008 is different in so many ways. It's also the year many conservatives say the Democratic Party found God and the Republican Party forgot about him.

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Clearly in this election cycle it appears that the Democrats have gotten religion. While the Republicans have turned agnostic and, you know, run off with the church organist. I mean, they don't have really anything to do with religion in this election cycle.

COSTELLO: Perkins says evangelical voters see no passion in John McCain for the issues they care about, and wonder whether they should switch to Obama who seems to speak their language.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: The Democrats need to get in church, reach out to evangelicals, link faith with the work that we do.

COSTELLO: Camp Obama plans to organize faith and politics house parties across the country in a grassroots effort to attract evangelical voters who care about issues like global warming, poverty and AIDS.

McCain's camp is wooing evangelicals too, sending e-mail messages to conservative voters reaching out to evangelical preachers, although Perkins says he shouldn't expect many endorsements, not after he accepted then rejected Pastor John Hagee's endorsement because of a sermon in which Hagee said Nazism was God's will.

JOHN HAGEE, PASTOR: This nation is going to go through a bloodbath.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I would reject the endorsement of the expression of those kinds of views.

COSTELLO: That only reminded conservative voters what he said about Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell back in 2000.

MCCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance.

COSTELLO: McCain and Falwell became friends again in 2006, but Robertson endorsed Giuliani. Still some conservatives say when it comes right down to it, they will eventually vote Republican.

PHIL BURRESS, CITIZENS FOR COMMUNITY VALUES: Even though John McCain is not doing anything right now to help himself, I believe that when people understand who Barack Obama is, we're going to find a lot of people coming out to vote against a candidate rather than for someone.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO: But John McCain says he is aggressively reaching out to conservative voters. And he says his strong faith and his strong stand on life and family issues will draw those voters to him come November -- John, Kyra.

ROBERTS: Carol Costello in Washington this morning.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." An assurance to the airmeds (ph), CNN, the only network traveling with the defense secretary as he goes cross-country visiting air force bases, and with him dramatic new directives straight from the Pentagon.

PHILLIPS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, vegan revolution.


CHEF MATTEO, VEGAN CHEF: It's been known as bland and, you know, granola and tofu and kind of hippie.


PHILLIPS: How ditching burgers could be better than buying a hybrid.


DR. GIDON ESHEL, BARD COLLEGE: If you only eat plants, your footprint drops by a ton and a half.


PHILLIPS: Alina Cho looks at the impact of what we eat. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: An estimated 10 million Americans have gone vegan cutting out meat, dairy, meat byproducts just completely out of their diet. Even Oprah is trying it. But can changing what you eat actually change your carbon footprint?

Our Alina Cho is here with more. What do you think? Are you going to do it?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, maybe. We'll have to see. The food is quite good actually. You know, some believe changing your diet actually has more of an impact than changing your car on the environment.

You know, we've all heard about flying less, driving less to reduce your carbon footprint. But going vegan? Some say eating a plants-only diet is earth friendly, but does vegan food taste any good? We went for a taste test.


CHO (voice-over): When Oprah announced her 21-day body cleanse, no caffeine, alcohol or animal products, she wondered --

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: What is left?

CHO: Apparently, quite a lot. Oprah is a convert saying on her blog, "I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying."

CHEF MATTEO, VEGAN CHEF: I think vegan food gets a bad rap definitely.

CHO: Why?

MATTE: Just because over the years it's been known as bland and, you know, granola and tofu and kind of hippie.

CHO: Brooklyn Chef Matteo is a vegan chef, meaning no dairy, meat or any animal products. But this food is anything but earthy crunchy, like cashew cheese ravioli. The pasta is made from thinly sliced turnips. It has a cheese flavor, but it's actually made from ground nuts.

CHO (on camera): It's so good.

CHO (voice-over): But is it really good for the planet?

MATTEO: You can feed more people with a vegetarian-based diet than you can with a standard diet.

CHO: Recent studies say eating a plants-only diet produces far fewer greenhouse gases than an animal-based diet, shrinking one's so- called carbon footprint.

Dr. Gidon Eshel co-authored one study for the University of Chicago.

DR. GIDON ESHEL, BARD COLLEGE: If you only eat plants, your footprint drops by a ton and a half of CO2 per person per year.

CHO: The USDA says the average American eats more than 117 pounds of red meat every year. Eshel says eliminating meat is better for the environment than switching from a Toyota Camry to a Hybrid Prius. That's because producing food from cows creates more carbon monoxide and methane gas.

Eshel compared two dishes with a similar calorie count, a six- ounce steak and a plate of veggie stir fry. He found that production of just one steak creates 24 times the amount of greenhouse gases as the vegan meal.

But if you're still skeptical, how about this? Chef Matteo's chocolate peanut torte with strawberry and vanilla coconut cream.

MATTEO: Nice and rich, there's no doubt.

CHO (on camera): Uh-huh.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHO: Uh-huh is right. It's very good.

Now, a lot of people ask what's the difference between being vegetarian and being vegan? Well, vegetarian means no animal flesh, meaning no meat, fish or poultry. Vegan is a bit more strict. No animal products or byproducts.

So add to the list things like dairy and eggs. It's really tough to do, you know. You have to be diligent about it.

Researchers say though, you don't have to go entirely vegan to be green, Kyra. They say even cutting back from two hamburgers say to one a week can make a difference on the environment.

PHILLIPS: It shouldn't be so difficult.

CHO: Yes.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, there's a lot of people actually doing this. Joining us now hip-hop mogul and vegan, Russell Simmons. He's also the author of "Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success." And he was telling me Oprah helped him with that title so that's why the book has been doing so well. That with the content.

Good to see you.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, AUTHOR, "DO YOU!": Good to see you.

PHILLIPS: So why do you do it?

SIMMONS: Well, just to cause less harm and one of the things that we do know, and the U.N. reports that a vegan diet is -- or the consumption of animals causes more harm to the environment than all the forms of transportation put together since we talk about the environment. That's one thing.


SIMMONS: And, of course, I don't think when they said dominion over the animals they meant the abuse of 10 billion farm animals every year, which is what we do here in America. So it's just a nice statement. I feel better.

My friends report to me over the last 15 years I look better. You know, so it's a big change for me and you have more clarity. And I think that all of us want to be more clear, want to look younger, want to feel better, and want to be a greater contributor to good on the planet.

PHILLIPS: Well, you're doing that in so many ways and just being a vegan is one part of your book. I want to just talk about that for a minute because it's a side of you that I think is extremely endearing and unique and you had signed this rapper, Jinx Da Juvy, of Def Jam (ph). And I know what an inspiration he was to you.

He was, you know, shot a number of times. He saw his friends die, and he was an inspiration for this book, wasn't he?

SIMMONS: Yes, he was.

PHILLIPS: I mean, you really saw him become a man.

SIMMONS: Yes. I've seen so many artists grow and I've been involved in mentoring many artists over the years, and he's one example. He is one who I just took under my wing almost like a son. So he is a good example.

PHILLIPS: Which moves into how you've seen him change and others change through what you've taken on. You actually said you wanted to go to yoga class to check out the girls.

Oh, in the beginning, yes.

PHILLIPS: Yes, but you found the Dharma.

Tell me how that has changed your life. You're meditating. You're -- you've sought out a higher truth. It's gone deep into your soul.

SIMMONS: Well, it's just to recognize what's in you. And in fact all of us are looking for more stillness, for a chance to see the world in its beauty, right? And we're struggling with that. I mean we have all these things that separate us.

So meditation slows the world out just a bit. The physical practice of yoga is part of that same process. All of us is searching, and so when you find a path that suits you, you know, whether it's making church or, you know, whether your temple or your synagogue or your mosque, or whatever it is, it's a path down the same road, you know? And all of us are trying to get there. And yoga, for me, has been a very helpful practice.

PHILLIPS: Something else that has been helpful -- I'm going to turn this to Barack Obama now.

You're throwing your support behind him.

SIMMONS: Yes, I have. Yes.

PHILLIPS: You know you've done so much for the youth with regard to creativity. He is doing so much for the youth with -- politically. What do you make of what he's doing not only for the youth movement, Russell, but also America? I mean he's making history on so many levels.

SIMMONS: Yes. We have this mandate, you know? We have to start to be a little less fearful and a little bit more giving -- America and the world, you know? It's like when we came out of the ocean we had to develop a lung. We have to now develop consciousness so much because we are connected and technology is winning out.

If we don't start a real dialogue about conflict resolution, about the environment, about lifting the poor -- if we don't start this kind of mission then we are at risk, you know, our future.

And Obama, I see, is the candidate who promotes these ideas. He's the one who talks about dialogue. He's the one who's talking about the environment. He has the humane society's endorsement. He's a candidate that moves us towards looking for the consciousness that we need in order for us to survive.

PHILLIPS: You always stick with this mantra about you give back what you give.

SIMMONS: Of course.

PHILLIPS: And you continue to do that and it's great talking to you this morning.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

SIMMONS: My pleasure.


ROBERTS: Thirty-two minutes after the hour now and a look at your top stories here on the most news in the morning.

Today, Senator John McCain kicks off his own economic tour a day after Democratic rival Barack Obama started his. McCain will deliver the keynote address to the National Small Business Summit in Washington. He'll hold a fundraiser in the big apple tonight.

Keep those air conditioners running again today. It's going to be another scorcher as temperatures flirt with 100-degree mark along the East Coast. Here in New York City, the mercury reached 99 degrees at Yankees Stadium yesterday. Officials with New England's power grid are expecting a tight supply of electricity today.

It's going to be a guilty plea from the accused founder of the escort service at the center of the Eliot Spitzer scandal. 62-year- old Mark Brener will enter the plea on Thursday as part of a deal with prosecutors. He is the third of four defendants to plead guilty in the case.

Spitzer resigned as New York's governor after his involvement as a client of the prostitution ring was made public.

And turning to Iraq, John McCain and Barack Obama have very different strategies for the war. Both men are adjusting their views as news there changes.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr takes a look.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The war in Iraq is going better at least for now. And that may force Barack Obama, the anti-war candidate, to rethink his strategy.

Obama won over Democrats by promising to pull combat troops out of Iraq as soon as possible and have everyone out within 16 months except for a residual force.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. But we -- but start leaving we must.

STARR: But last month the number of U.S. troops killed was the lowest ever. IEDs and sniper attacks -- all on the decline. Obama knows this isn't the time to sound like a cut-and-run commander in chief.

OBAMA: I will never say there's nothing or never or no way in which I change my mind.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Barack Obama has to stand for the proposition that good news in Iraq is good news for America -- that he's not for losing this war.

STARR: Obama has shifted focus.

OBAMA: I am absolutely convinced that the best thing we can do is to set a clear timetable, tell the Iraqis we are going to start pulling out.

STARR: John McCain once suggested a willingness to keep troops in Iraq in some capacity for the next hundred years.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I will never surrender in Iraq. I will never surrender in Iraq.

STARR: Now he says he hopes most could be out by 2013 and don't expect any letup in McCain's criticism of Obama for lack of military experience.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama was driven his position by ideology and not by the facts on the ground, and he does not have the knowledge or experience to make the judgments.


STARR: Now, John, most political analyst, I think, will tell you that it's Senator Obama who has to do the most adjusting on his views about Iraq. But he has to be careful, they will say, about not becoming a flip-flopper -- John?

ROBERTS: Going to be a huge issue in this election campaign.

Barbara Starr for us this morning -- Barbara, thanks.

PHILLIPS: Coming up with the most news in the morning, a century's old crime happening right now in the U.S. -- slavery and human trafficking. Uncover America, CNN special report just ahead. ROBERTS: Also, go ahead, make my day. It's Spike versus Clint in a heated war of words over historical accuracy. The haggle with Dirty Harry coming up in our next hour.


PHILLIPS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

A big jump in the unemployment rate has many Americans looking for work.

Our Deborah Feyerick talked with one worker who is undergoing a pretty drastic career change -- Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kyra, imagine you have your life planned out -- good job, decent salary -- and then it ends.

Well, that's the position many people including auto workers are in these days -- forced to start over.


FEYERICK (voice over): 38-year-old Michael Almada grew up in Michigan, knowing he was destined to work at one of the big three car makers.

MICHAEL ALMADA, NURSING STUDENT: My father and my cousins worked at Ford. A lot of friends I knew worked at Ford. It's a big family.

FEYERICK: But the auto industry got hit hard. Shifts were cut. Overtime pay disappeared. And after almost 10 years handling heavy machinery, Almada realized it was time for plan B.

(On camera): Did you know immediately that you were going to go into nursing?

ALMADA: Pretty much, because I gave it some thought when the rumors of buyout were happening.

FEYERICK (voice over): In fact, nursing is one of the most popular new jobs in Michigan for out-of-work auto workers like Almada.

The pay is good, demand is high, and in many cases, automakers are picking up the tab. Four years of tuition for training as part of certain buyout packages.

(On camera): Did you think about long-term when you made the change?

ALMADA: Sure, there's never going to be a shortage of sick people, you know?

FEYERICK (voice over): Almada, who is married and who spent five years as an army medic, just finished his second year at Michigan's Oakland University. Tosandra Watkins, a former DaimlerChrysler assembly line worker, will graduate from there as a nurse in January.

TOSANDRA WATKINS, NURSING STUDENT: From the plant where I came from, there were a lot of people talking about starting nursing programs because we know that the medical profession primarily nursing has a shortage.

FEYERICK: And even though Almada thinks the auto industry likely pays more than nursing, he says he has no regrets. In fact, some of his cousins still work at the plant.

ALMADA: Being on the outside of it actually feels better than being on the inside.


FEYERICK: Starting over can be scary at any age but between nursing and environmental green collar jobs, often they say it's just a matter of knowing where to look and possibly being willing to move -- John? Kyra?

ROBERTS: Deb Feyerick for us this morning.

A day in court becomes chaotic. We'll tell you why a convicted felon turns and attacks another man and it's all caught on camera.


PHILLIPS (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, tough talk.




PHILLIPS: The bare knuckle fight between two Hollywood heavy weights. What Clint Eastwood said to Spike Lee that set him off ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: "Minding Your Business" brought to you by...


PHILLIPS: And welcome back to the most politics in the morning. Let's check the "Political Ticker" now.

Barack Obama's vice presidential search team continuing their meetings. Members of the team had, quote, "good long discussions" yesterdays with top Democrats in the House and Senate. And according to reports, a lot of names were mentioned including Senator Clinton's.

Scott McClellan testifying on Capitol Hill next week about the CIA leak case. He's going to be asked whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to make misleading statements about the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

In his new book, McClellan, a former White House spokesman, said he was misled about Scooter Libby's role in that leak.

And for more up-to-the-minute political news, just head to

ROBERTS: Forty-three minutes after the hour.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates named a new leadership to lead the Air Force yesterday and now he's on a tour designed to mend fences with the airmen.

CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is the only television correspondent traveling with Gates and he joins us now -- Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, Kyra, on day two his morale mending tour, Defense Secretary Gates brought his tough love here to Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force Academy.


MCINTYRE (voice over): Gates's voice seemed to quiver as he delivered a heartfelt message to separate gatherings of airmen at key bases across the U.S. that he's not picking on the Air Force and he feels their pain.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Air Force is my service -- the uniform I wore more than four decades ago.

MCINTYRE: Almost as evidence of his empathy, Gates offered up a surprise gift that addressed one of the service's biggest complaints. It doesn't have enough people.

GATES: I intend immediately to stop further reductions in Air Force personnel.

MCINTYRE: That means instead of trimming the Air Force from 340,000 troops to 316,000 by the end of the decade as planned, the cuts will end now while there are still more than 330,000 active duty airmen.

Gates was also engaged in rumor control insisting his sacking of the Air Force secretary and chief of staff was only because of sloppy nuclear security, not a broader indictment of the service and its mission. And the new chief, General Norton Schwartz, was picked, Gates said, because of his experience in special operations and his record of working with the other services.


MCINTYRE: Asked what priorities the Air Force leaders should have, Gates said job number one was fixing the problems with nuclear security, then comes modernization. He noted some of the tanker planes now in service are the same ones he flew as a young Air Force lieutenant -- John? Kyra?

ROBERTS: Jamie McIntyre on tour with the secretary of defense for us this morning.

PHILLIPS: Now to the most politics in the morning.

Now that Hillary Clinton's campaign is over, is there a role for Bill Clinton in Barack Obama's campaign? Or will the presumptive nominee say thanks but no thanks?

ROBERTS: Fake e-mails and news report about murders. It's a provocative ad campaign for singer Ashanti's new album. Is it viral marketing or just plain violent? We'll take a look in our next hour.



PHILLIPS (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, slavery in the 21st century.

WILLIATHE NARCISSE, FORMER SLAVE: I used to cry night after night after night.

PHILLIPS: Thousands of people forced into the grim underground world of human trafficking.

BEN SKINNER, AUTHOR, "A CRIME SO MONSTROUS": There are more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history.

PHILLIPS: The fight to end modern slavery ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



PHILLIPS: Face to face with modern day slavery. It exists right here in the United States. And CNN is taking an in depth look at a lot of issues facing African-American men, women and families in a special TV event "Black in America."

And this morning, CNN's Kareen Wynter takes a closer look at human trafficking.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kyra.

Some of the tales of captivity we heard were just unimaginable from former slaves who somehow managed to escape.


WYNTER (voice over): Williathe Narcisse says she was forced to work for a family for six years.

NARCISSE: I used to cry night after night after night. WYNTER: First in Haiti then in this posh suburban Miami neighborhood.

NARCISSE: Beating me for no reason, call me all sorts of names. They told me I was going to die. I wanted to get out of the situation but I didn't know what was going to happen.

WYNTER: As horrific as it sounds, Narcisse's story isn't unique, statistics show, and as difficult as it is to imagine, slavery not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.

Author Ben Skinner wrote the book "A Crime So Monstrous" about slavery which he describes as the forced labor of someone in homes, restaurants, farms and brothels for no pay and little sustenance.

SKINNER: There are more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history.

WYNTER: Skinner says record poverty levels are to blame.

SKINNER: 1.1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day extraordinarily vulnerable to criminals.

WYNTER: Each year roughly 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders and millions are trafficked within their own countries

According to the U.S. State Department, here in the U.S., each year 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the country, the State Department said.

Peggy Callahan, who heads an organization dedicated to ending modern slavery, said the signs of someone being forced into labor can be right in front of you.

PEGGY CALLAHAN, CO-FOUNDER, FREE THE SLAVES: You know there's a kid who lives in that house but you never see him out. You see the other kids go to school but you don't see that kid.

If you see something that looks odd to you, don't hesitate.

WYNTER: At the tender age of 12, Narcisse found the courage to escape. One of her captors was imprisoned convicted of illegally harboring Narcisse. The others fled the U.S.

Narcisse is now a student living in Miami.

NARCISSE: I'm still hurt about what I went through but I'm a bigger and stronger person.


WYNTER: Author Ben Skinner says there are thousands of cases like the one you just heard and that's why the public plays such an important role -- John? Kyra?


PHILLIPS (voice over): From filling your tank to feeding your family, it's costing you more by the day. Now the candidates reveal their plans for "Your Money."

And a promotional assault. One of music's hottest stars at the center of a violent stunt to sell albums. Does it go too far? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Fifty-four minutes after the hour.

The economy is "ISSUE #1" for Americans and, of course, here at CNN.

Barack Obama selling his plan for the economy with a tour through swing states and he is drawing plenty of fire from Republican John McCain.

And joining us now from Washington is Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill. She's Senator Obama's national campaign co-chair.

Senator McCaskill, good to see you this morning.


ROBERTS: Part of Senator Obama's new $50 million additional stimulus package for the economy is more rebate checks. Now the last time people got rebate checks many of them used them to pay down debt as opposed to go out and buy things.

So are more rebate checks the answer to stimulate the economy?

MCCASKILL: They're not the only answer. Obviously, John McCain wants to say that Barack Obama isn't going raise taxes. No, he's not. He's going to cut taxes.

The difference between John McCain and Barack Obama is: who is going to get the benefit of those tax cuts? Is it going to be more for the very wealthy or is it going to be for working people, for elderly people with incomes under $50,000?

Barack Obama is going to be a great tax cutter, but there are going to be more stimulus to the economy and they're going to be for people who need the money instead of the wealthy.

ROBERTS: Back to this idea of a stimulus check. Any idea how much this stimulus check would be under his plan?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think it's going to depend. I mean there are many stimulus checks that are just now hitting mailboxes. I think we're going to have to see over the next few weeks.

Obviously, this administration -- President Bush has gotten us in a heck of a mess as it relates to our economy. Our dollar is so weak. Unemployment is so high. We have commodity prices that are raging out of control, which are hitting our grocery stores and hitting our gas pumps.

So we have got to make sure that we keep a finger on the pulse on this and look at the people who are hurting instead of corporations and Wall Street.

ROBERTS: Let me come back to this idea, Senator McCaskill, about tax cuts and raising taxes on certain individuals. The McCain campaign has been very critical of Senator Obama's pet plan to raise taxes on certain individuals and businesses.

Here's what John McCain is going to say later on today at the Small Business forum in Washington, quote, "Under Senator Obama's tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise -- seniors, parents, small business owners, just about everyone who even has a modest investment in the market."

He's talking about plans to raise Social Security taxes, to raise the estate tax, to raise taxes on capital gains.

Is now the time -- with this economy in the straits that it is, Senator McCaskill, is now the time to raise taxes on anyone?

MCCASKILL: You know this administration, John McCain, George Bush, have been looking after Warren Buffett and Paris Hilton. Barack Obama wants to look after seniors who make less than $50,000, pay no taxes under Barack Obama's economic plan.

ROBERTS: You know, Senator, everybody comes back and says he's looking after Warren Buffett and Paris Hilton but there are plenty of people who make a lot less money than Warren Buffett or Paris Hilton that are going to get hit by these tax cuts.

MCCASKILL: Well, the list you just gave, John, estate...

ROBERTS: Or tax increases.

MCCASKILL: If you look at the list you gave -- estate taxes, Social Security taxes -- those are not going to be imposed on anyone of modest means or in the middle class. We're talking about exempting millions of dollars from people's estate taxes. We're talking about only asking people who make a lot of money to pay a little more to save Social Security for our kids and our grandkids.

We're not talking about people in the middle class. So John McCain is trying to label Barack Obama. I'll tell you where the labeling needs to occur. The labeling needs to occur on the Republican Party, George Bush, who came to Washington, wanted to look after the oil companies and look after the very wealthy, and we see what the results have been. It has been disastrous.

We've got people all across this country who never thought they would be hurting who are hurting, and Barack Obama completely gets that. John McCain does not. ROBERTS: The McCain campaign is also attacking on another front just over the last 24 hours. They are taking aim at Jim Johnson who is leading up the vice presidential search on behalf of Senator Obama.

The McCain campaign is attacking over reports that Mr. Johnson received some $7 million in loans while he was the head of Fannie Mae, some of them, apparently, through Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.

Now the Obama has said this is all overblown, it's irrelevant, but the McCain campaign is saying this today, quote, "There is nothing overblown and irrelevant about millions of Americans facing foreclosure and Barack Obama entrusting his most important decision as a presidential candidate to a man who has accepted millions in special loans from a sub prime mortgage lender. Apparently fixing the housing crisis begins with the Obama campaign."

Now so far there is nothing to suggest that there was anything irregular about these loans. So let me ask you what you think about that attack.

MCCASKILL: Oh, it's old politics. It's old politics. First of all, the only decision that's going to be made in regard to vice president will made by Barack Obama.

He has shown the judgment. He has shown the ability to lead. He has won the ability to lead. He has won an incredibly focused, confident and calm campaign?

On the other hand, I think what John McCain is feeling is a little defensive. You've got a campaign that is riddled with lobbyists from the top to the bottom -- the strategist, the people on the bus, the people who are making the decisions day in and day out -- are, in fact, lobbyists, many of them representing foreign countries.

In fact, there's a loophole that many of these lobbyists are using to represent foreign countries.

ROBERTS: Well, isn't it true that Senator Obama has many lobbyists, too, advising him as well? He just hasn't identified them?

MCCASKILL: Well, I -- certainly not at the steering wheel of the campaign. That's just not true. And we do not take any money from PACs or from federal lobbyists, unlike the McCain campaign who welcomes those donations.

So this is really about a different kind of Washington. This is a different kind of campaign. This isn't about getting into the tit for tat. This is about focusing on Americans who are hurting, realizing that John McCain's policies, which are George Bush's policies, are not going to be the medicine that our country needs right now.

ROBERTS: Senator Claire McCaskill for us, this morning. Senator, good to see you, thanks for coming in.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.