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AMERICAN MORNING

Anthrax Mailings Case Suspect Commits Suicide; Drivers Fume at Record Profits of Oil Companies; Solar Eclipse Happening Now; The Dalai Lama's Struggles and His Unruly Flock; McCain Accuses Obama of Playing the Race Card

Aired August 1, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And again, coming up in the next half hour, we're going to hear from John McCain talking about the war in Iraq.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It is now coming up to the top of the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Total rubbish. That's what Pakistan is calling a report that blames a deadly bombing on its spy service. The attack at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 41 people on the 7th of July.

According to the "New York Times," the U.S. government concluded that Pakistani intelligence did have a role.

Breaking this morning. And Anthrax suspect reportedly commit suicide. CNN confirms that Bruce Ivins, a U.S. biodefense researcher, died on Tuesday. The Justice Department was seriously considering filing criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that killed five people and terrorized the nation right after 9/11.

In June, the government cleared one of his colleagues, Steven Hatfill, and paid him a multimillion dollar settlement.

Tasting and touching water on Mars. NASA say the Phoenix Lander successfully scooped up a small amount of Martian ice from the soil and tested the sample. The spacecraft will now bake it down and sniff it for carbon-based compounds that could be a sign of life.

More on that breaking news.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Leading suspect in the anthrax attacks has died. Justice correspondent Kelli Arena is working her sources. She joins us now on the phone from Maryland. What else have you learned about this ongoing investigation, Kelli?

VOICE OF KELLI ARENA, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, we do know that the Justice Department was very close to filing charges against Bruce Ivins. Now, he was a former anthrax researcher at the army's bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Ivins was found dead on Tuesday.

Now, the "L.A. Times" is reporting that he killed himself after he was told that he may be prosecuted. But CNN spoke with the office of the chief medical examiner here in Maryland, which at the time did not confirm the cause of his death. But the FBI and the Department of Justice are not commenting at all. They never do when it's -- there's an ongoing investigation.

Now, Ivins did work at the same facility with Steven Hatfill. And you will recall that he was very publicly identified as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation. Hatfill was also a researcher at Fort Detrick in Maryland. He consistently denied any involvement, sued the government, won a multimillion dollar settlement.

But, you know, investigators have, from the very beginning, always thought that a scientist had to be involved in the anthrax attacks because of what they call the expertise that someone would have needed to make the anthrax. Anthrax was weapons grade and very sophisticated.

Right now, as you know, there has not been a single arrest. You know, this is an investigation that's seven years long. It looks like, you know, they were close. And we don't know exactly what the charges were going to be. That is something we're trying to nail down right now, Kiran.

CHETRY: And so, if, indeed, this man, Bruce Ivins, is the suspect, the fact that he apparently committed suicide means that they may never really get all of the answers to this investigation.

ARENA: Well, this is very true. As you know, John, just earlier spoke to Mr. Ivins' brother who said that he was interviewed by authorities, you know, about his brother. So we -- you're very right. We may never get, you know, the full extent of this story, you know, after all this time. And there are people who are still very ill from those attacks. Families, of course, that lost their loved ones who are really waiting for justice here.

CHETRY: Seven long years. Kelli Arena, new developments on this, though, today. Maybe we'll find out more as the morning continues. Thanks.

ROBERTS: It's 3 1/2 minutes after the hour. CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us now on the telephone. And, Jeff, where do you think this leaves the case?

VOICE OF JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it probably leaves it over. It sounds like they were about to make an arrest. The suspect is dead. There is, as a legal matter, nothing further to do.

I think the FBI will face an interesting quandary because usually their custom is, if a suspect has died, the case simply closes. Given that these were some of the most notorious unsolved murders in all of American history, the FBI may feel obligated to go public with what it knew just to give people peace of mind because these crimes were so scary to so many people.

ROBERTS: Jeff, the fact that this person, this researcher, killed himself, I mean, you could take away from that that perhaps there was some culpability here. But perhaps it's totally unrelated. But, you know, they were so wrong about Steven Hatfill in the early going, are you convinced that they're right about Ivins?

TOOBIN: Hard to know. It's just -- anyone -- this fellow who committed suicide was not even charged. So we can't say that he was guilty. But in the absence of any legal proceedings, there is no way of knowing for sure that this -- this crime was solved.

ROBERTS: Right. So when would you expect that the FBI might come out publicly with some information?

TOOBIN: Well, I expect they will take a little bit of time to gather what they need to do. I mean, after all, I assume they were just as surprised as anyone that he committed suicide and it was only Tuesday, and here it is only Friday.

But I do think this is the rare, rare case where the FBI might take the unusual step of making public what it knew because this was not just an ordinary murder. This was a tremendous challenge, threat to public health. I know that the United States Supreme Court, they are still handling their mail very differently because some of these -- some of these letters were intended for the court.

You remember some of them went to NBC News. Someone from the "National Enquirer" was killed. Postal workers were killed. This really revolutionized American life, not quite, but almost as much as 9/11 did.

So this is not just an ordinary crime. This had a big national impact. And I think the FBI might want to take the unusual step of disclosing what it had uncovered in the course of its investigation, even though the suspect is now gone.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, we'll see if they take your suggestion. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on the phone with us this morning. Jeff, good to talk to you. Thanks.

CHETRY: Well, another oil giant reporting profits today. This time it's Chevron releasing results. That report comes on the heels of Exxon Mobil announcing it earned $11.7 billion in the latest quarter, the biggest operating profit ever for a U.S. company.

Joining any now, Allan Chernoff. He's "Minding Your Business" this morning in for Ali Velshi.

Wow! This record profits by the oil companies, and, of course, we're all feeling the pain at the pump.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: We certainly are. I mean, $11.7 billion. I mean, could you have ever imagined that a company would even earn that much? Let's break it down.

Per second, it comes out to more than $1,400 per second. Simply astounding. But, of course, oil prices have been soaring and as a result, the oil companies, many of them, at least, are earning big, big money over here. Of course, for consumers, this, well, it's a little bit of an annoyance when they are paying record high prices for gasoline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBRA PERETTE, MOTORIST: It's sad and we suffer every day trying to pay because their houses are getting foreclosed. Either gas or food. It's sad that their profits are so big and they're growing, we're not. It's the little people that hurt from it, really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: Certainly does hurt consumers. But, you know, the last I looked in this country, it is not a crime to earn a huge profit in the United States of America. However, on Wall Street, it is a crime to miss your earnings expectations. And believe it or not, that's exactly what Exxon Mobil did yesterday.

Wall Street wanted more. It wanted more than $12 billion and it didn't get it. And have a look at this.

Yesterday the stock fell five percent. And over the past two months, Exxon Mobil stock has actually been declining, down by about 15 percent -- Kiran.

CHETRY: $11 billion not enough for Wall Street.

CHERNOFF: Wall Street is a very tough crowd.

CHETRY: Allan, thanks. We'll see you a little bit later in the show.

ROBERTS: Eight minutes after the hour. And happening right now, a total eclipse of the sun. Millions of people in the northern hemisphere have a chance to see it. Let's bring in our Rob Marciano.

Rob, spectacular pictures. I need to apologize right off the top here, particularly Kiran. I said that this thing was viewable in Maine. That's just completely wrong.

It's not. And sorry about that. Where can they see it, Rob, besides here in CNN.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, there are parts of Canada you can see it. The extreme parts of Maine you should be able to see it. The problem with the total solar eclipse is it doesn't last as long as a lunar eclipse and it's much more rare. The moon obviously smaller than the earth. So a lunar eclipse, the earth is casting a shadow on the moon, which is a lot easier to do considering how big the earth is compared to the moon.

But this is a case where the moon is blocking out the sun. So, you know, that pebble basically has to line up just right. So not everybody gets to enjoy it, and that would include a great majority of the United States. Just a sliver of Maine being able to see it. ROBERTS: You know, it's amazing when you see that closeup there, Rob. As you can see, you know, those arching solar flares there. What's that called? The corona, as we look at that?

MARCIANO: Yes. This is the rare time when astronomers can actually study the corona of the sun. Obviously looking directly into the sun is a problem. But many, many scientists take this as an opportunity to do some -- do some research. It was even -- back when Einstein was trying to prove his theory of relativity, this is one of the things that he looked at.

When you look at, you know, the bending of light in a time, it reverses time. So it's definitely a fascinating thing. And, God, can you imagine back, you know, hundred of years ago how this must have freaked people out? Oh, now it's moving out. Wow, nice.

CHETRY: It is so unbelievable.

MARCIANO: Spectacular.

CHETRY: And that's the thing to remember is that we're watching this live. I mean, these are pictures that, you know, at one time you would never have imagine being able to actually see live.

MARCIANO: And the camera just can't take it. That's how quickly it happens, I mean, versus a lunar eclipse where it takes hours to go through the night sky. It's just a matter of minutes and you witnessed it here live.

ROBERTS: Rob, do you know where that picture from NASA was? We'd seen an earlier picture from Baghdad.

MARCIANO: Yes. I'm not sure where the NASA picture was. I was on their Web site earlier. It's overloaded as you can imagine.

CHETRY: Oh, this of -- our producer, Brian, is telling us this is a shot from China right now. Amazing. The Baghdad picture was also breathtaking because it was bright red.

ROBERTS: Yes. The sun seen through the dust hanging over Iraq there. Just an incredible, incredible picture.

You know, they call that the diamond ring effect, Rob, when you see the corona and then that slight little sliver of sunshine as the moon moves away?

MARCIANO: Yes. Obviously we saw it right there. It looked like a diamond or light being shown in a diamond and being refracted and reflected through that crystal. It's really amazing.

CHETRY: You're right, Rob, when you said what did the, you know, people in the ancient civilizations think. I mean, they thought it was a sign from the gods that the world was ending. I mean, it's just amazing how much we've, you know, been able to discover about our universe. MARCIANO: That is true. And even when you watch it live here, as a science geek, I sometimes wonder about the greater meaning of life when you see something that spectacular. Is it a sign from a higher power how these things line up and give us such an incredible show in the morning and night sky?

ROBERTS: Yes. Remember that movie "The Man Who Would Be King" and Sean Connery was about to be executed by the locals? And he knew that there was a solar eclipse coming and they believed that he was a god because he called it and they didn't -- they let him live.

Rob, thanks very much for that. Really incredible stuff this morning.

MARCIANO: All right, guys. We'll see you in a bit.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: Gorgeous picture. There you still see just a small little ring of red. The solar eclipse live right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Well, here's what else we're working on for you today. A man representing himself in court tries an interesting legal defense. He faked a heart attack. We're going to tell you how that worked out for him.

ROBERTS: Is Bollywood the next Hollywood?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're seeing a lot of the Indian producers or entertainment conglomerates really trying to become the Hollywood studios of the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: India makes more movies than anywhere in the world. And they're expanding into Hollywood. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Checking some headlines around the country.

A man in Ohio defending himself against felony assault and other charges tries an interesting defense. A fake heart attack in the courtroom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, excuse me for a second. I believe --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The record should reflect that the defendant is slouching over to the side and acts like he's sleeping.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, the medics checked him and found out he had no medical problems. This was an appeal to an earlier conviction. That conviction was upheld and now he's serving 42 years.

A team of investigators arriving at the scene of a deadly plane crash in Minnesota. The 14 NTSB investigators will be looking for clues into what caused that crash. Eight people were killed. A ninth person thought to be on the plane actually not on board.

And same-sex couples from all over the country can now get married in Massachusetts. The state repealed an old law preventing a couple from marrying there if their union wasn't legal in the couple's home state -- John.

ROBERTS: It's now 16 minutes after the hour. Let's fast forward to stories that are going to be making news later on today.

Calling for a major change in America's energy policy. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin will talk about make the move to renewable energy sources today to lower energy cost and slow climate change.

Starting today, Oklahoma is going to require that a woman having an abortion see an ultrasound before the procedure. It is the first state to require that. Sixteen states give women the option of seeing the ultrasound.

Last day before summer vacation for Congress. Lawmakers taking a five-week break without passing an energy bill.

And a moment of silence today for the 13 people killed in the Minnesota bridge collapse one year ago today.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." We're back in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." With the Olympics set to begin in China next week it's put a spotlight on the struggle between China and the Dalai Lama. But some Tibetans are also challenging their exiled leader.

In her documentary "Buddha's Warriors," chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour meets the Dalai Lama and some of his unruly flock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This is Tibet's tradition merging with today's politics. In exile in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama's official state oracle is going into a trance. He speaks a language only a few monks can understand.

But officials tell us he delivers an important political message. Advising the Dalai Lama to continue his conciliatory approach to China. But there are a growing number of young monks here who are no longer satisfied with the Dalai Lama's so-called middle way.

AMANPOUR (on camera): There are a lot of young Tibetans here who feel that you have been taken advantage of. And they are so eager to get an autonomous or free Tibet, and they want direct action.

DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: Justice (ph) is complete independence. Not only youth, but some would say even older people now very concerned about our approach.

Yes, I understand. But then, our issue is we cannot solve by some emotional feeling. Difficult. We have to accept reality. How much we can do.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Lhasang Tsering is a mentor to many young Tibetan exiles who are frustrated with the Dalai Lama's approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tibet was not and will not be a part of China!

LHASANG TSERING, FORMER PRES. TIBETAN YOUTH CONGRESS: This middle way policy is unrealistic and unacceptable. The Chinese came to Tibet to stay for their interest. So until and unless we can throw them out, they're not going to walk away.

AMANPOUR: But how, asked the Dalai Lama?

DALAI LAMA: Oh, it's an effort to get independence. No clear answer. Even if they're using some force or some violent method. So I argue how to get weapon. No answer. No clear answer.

AMANPOUR: To his critics, the Dalai Lama is equally unrealistic.

AMANPOUR (on camera): You've had these dialogues with the Chinese. They're insulting you. They say you want to bring back feudalism to China. So what is your way bringing for the Tibetan people?

DALAI LAMA: There are a lot of new buildings. There are a lot of roads and (INAUDIBLE) railway link. These are positives. Tibet backward country. No Tibetan doesn't want this backwardness. We want more modernized Tibet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: The government of China declined CNN's repeated requests for an interview on that topic. You can watch Christiane's entire special this weekend. "Buddha's Warriors." It airs Saturday and Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Be sure to tune in.

ROBERTS: There's a battle brewing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cindy McCain is a distributor and shareholder of Anheuser-Busch. Now, we seem to have everybody's attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: While the InBev takeover of Anheuser-Busch will link Cindy McCain with Cuba. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's coming up at 26 minutes after the hour. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama will both speak at the National Urban League conference this weekend. This just as the race issue is popping up again on the campaign trail.

Marc Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League. He is also the former mayor of New Orleans, and he joins me now from Orlando. Marc Morial, great to see you.

MARC MORIAL, PRES. & CEO NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Good morning, John.

ROBERTS: Hope the conference is a success. Let's lay it out there first.

MORIAL: We've got a good attendance.

ROBERTS: That's great.

MORIAL: Great discussion.

ROBERTS: I guess 10,000 people expected there this weekend.

MORIAL: It's going to be great. A lot of anticipation.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you first of all about these charges of the race card being played in the campaign trail based on something that Senator Obama said. Let's first of all listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're going to try to say that I'm a risky guy. They're going to try to say, well, you know, he's got a funny name. And he doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five dollar bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Senator McCain himself charges that Senator Obama played the race card here. He didn't seem to put a couple of things together, this idea of they're going to try to scare you because I don't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills. I don't remember the McCain campaign saying anything like that. Did Senator Obama play the race card here? MORIAL: I believe that the charges and countercharges that we see right now are a distraction and a diversion because what Barack Obama may have been doing is responding to television advertising that John McCain is running. But you know, the larger issue, John, is that I think the people of this nation want to have a different kind of campaign. One that's going to focus on solutions and that's exactly what we are urging the candidates to talk about when they come to the National Urban League.

The issues confronting the country, the jobs crisis, the housing crisis, the energy crisis, the ballooning federal deficit call for us to have a different kind of discussion because so much is at stake.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you about some of those issues in just a second if I could, mayor. Back just back to this idea of race, in this historic election is it impossible for race not to become an issue?

MORIAL: I think that for some Americans, and I'm going to underscore, underline, and emphasize some, race will be an ever present issue in this election. But I believe and I hope, and I think there's a challenge to how these candidates conduct themselves, that the larger issues that face the country, economic issues, issues with respect to our children, you can't ignore race. It is a factor and it is a history.

But the question is, is what is the emphasis in the conversation and in the discussion? And I think that most Americans want to have a hard discussion about the challenges that face the nation. Some --

ROBERTS: Well, let's -- let's get to some of those issues. We should point out, first of all, that the Urban League will not endorse a presidential candidate. You have said leading up to this convention, "It's time for our nation to change our priorities." You say that you want a plan for urban America from the next president. What's the plan that you want to see?

MORIAL: I think the plan would focus on children, public education, early childhood education. I think it should focus on jobs. And our signature idea is to create an urban infrastructure bank to fix the broken levees, the broken bridges, the broken parks, the broken schools and thereby create jobs.

I believe it should include a long-term commitment to building new units of affordable housing and fixing the problems in the subprime market on a permanent basis. And it ought to include a commitment to small business with some emphasis on minority business development.

So we've got a plan and we hope that Senators McCain and Obama will not only react to that plan, but they'll lay out their solutions for America because we have offered solutions to this nation's deep problems.

ROBERTS: You know, 40 million people living in poverty in this country, eight out of 10 of them in the inner cities of America. Are you hearing what you need to hear from these presidential candidates?

MORIAL: I think we need to hear about those problems with greater emphasis. And I think the candidates have a unique opportunity to tell all Americans why deep-seated poverty, particularly amongst children, affects not only those in poverty but everyone in the nation and the future of the economy. When we're in a competition with China and India and other nations who are growing their economies and investing in their people, we need a plan to rebuild this nation. We need an investment policy that invests in educating, in preparing, and developing the workers of tomorrow and the citizens of tomorrow.

And I think the next president has not only a great challenge, but a unique opportunity. And we want to hear that discussion from Orlando today and tomorrow.

ROBERTS: All right. Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League. Thanks for being with us this morning. I hope you have a very successful weekend.

MORIAL: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care.

CHETRY: Well, it's 7:30 here in New York. Some of the top stories, breaking news. An anthrax suspect reportedly commits suicide. CNN confirms that Bruce Ivins, a U.S. biodefense researcher, died on Tuesday. The Justice Department was apparently seriously considering filing criminal charges against him. In the anthrax mailings case that killed five people, sickened more than a dozen others, and terrorized the nation in the weeks after 9/11. In June the government cleared one of his colleagues, Steven Hatville, ended up paying him a multi-million dollar settlement.

Pakistan denying a report that blames a deadly bombing on its spy service. The attack at the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 41 people back on July 7th. According to "The New York Times" the U.S. government concluded that Pakistani intelligence had a role in that attack.

Well, your laptop or any other electronic device could be seized at the border. And no suspicion is required. Democratic Senator Russ Finegold told a subcommittee yesterday it's part of a new Homeland Security policy. It doesn't matter if you're a U.S. citizen or not. The information on your computer, flash drive, or cell phone can be stored and then shared with other agencies. Finegold says he plans to introduce a bill that would require reasonable suspicion to take your device.

ROBERTS: This just in this morning. General Motors reports a loss of $15.5 billion in the second quarter. Our Allan Chernoff joins me now. You know, we talked about these oil companies making profits of 11.5. They lost that much money?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The flip side of that rising gasoline prices. Ouch. A major ouch over here. The third worst quarter ever for General Motors. $15.5 billion. And of course, you know, GM had built profits, huge profits a few years ago on the back of trucks, sport utility vehicles. Well, of course, as we all know, right now those gas guzzlers are out. Not at all popular. And as a result, sales are plummeting. Have a look at this. Revenue down by $8.5 billion. That tells you how much the company is suffering in terms of sales. And this loss of 15.5 billion, well, it includes $3 billion for the buy out of workers. Of course, GM trying to slash employees. And it also has responded by shutting down. It plans to shut down truck production at four factories. That previously announced. John, this is all a result of what's going on. A huge shift in the American vehicle marketplace right now. GM is hurting.

ROBERTS: Is GM retooling fast enough that they'll be able to stem the bleeding?

CHERNOFF: That is a very good question. They're retooling but it's going to take time. There's no doubt about that. GM has said we're going to move to make smaller vehicles, more cars, fewer SUVs, fewer trucks. They understand that the consumer has changed, but, you know what it takes a long time to make that shift in production. They are going to continue to have some losses. It's expected.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable. $15.5 billion. Wow. Allan Chernoff, thanks so much for that.

CHETRY: There's a potential Cuban beer crisis for Senator John McCain. A merger may put him in some serious, dangerous political territory. CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now to explain. We're talking about his wife Cindy's family company, which is a big beer distributorship.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kiran. It's no secret Cindy McCain has a family company that is a big distributor for Anheuser-Busch. What is not so well known is that Anheuser-Busch may be about to merge with a beverage company that owns a beer in Castro's Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): They're not singing this Bud's for you. It's an ad for a Kristal, a beer made in Cuba and owned by Inbev, the Belgium based beer giant in the midst of a hostile take over of Anheuser-Busch. Now controversy over the merger is brewing among anti-Castro Cuban Americans and politically crucial South Florida over Cindy McCain's ties to Anheuser-Busch.

NICK GUTIERREZ, ATTORNEY FOR BLANCO-HERRERA FAMILY. Cindy McCain is a distributor and shareholder of Anheuser-Busch. Now we seem to have everybody's attention.

ACOSTA: Nick Gutierrez represents the family who claims to have founded Kristal beer. The family accuses Inbev of profiting off of a brew that was seized by Fidel Castro. Gutierrez wants McCain to enforce the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and punish Inbev for doing business there. GUTIERREZ: I'd like to see Senator McCain come out and say, look, this is where I stand. My wife has nothing to do with this merger. She's not an officer or director. She's got nothing to do obviously with Inbev's, you know, nefarious activities in Cuba. But I'm a presidential candidate and to me U.S. Cuban relations is an important topic.

ACOSTA: In a statement, two Cuban-American congressman went further. It is extremely disturbing, they said, that Anheuser-Busch may be purchased by a company with ties to the Cuban terrorist regime. Insisting the Arizona Senator is a strong embargo supporter, the McCain campaign tells CNN if the deal goes through, the McCains would sell their shares in Anheuser-Busch. But the campaign ad, Cindy McCain's company would remain an Inbev distributor in the U.S..

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president I will not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings and freedom and democracy.

ACOSTA: The race could be tight in Florida. One new poll in the state shows Obama with a slight edge. An Obama win there would leave the McCain campaign with one serious hang over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Inbev released its own statement to CNN saying its activities in Cuba, "do not violate U.S. law." That's because the company says they run Kristal from Europe, something the McCain campaign also pointed out to us. Kiran.

CHETRY: I'm sure we'll hear more about it as the campaign season rolls on.

ACOSTA: I think so. It's only beginning.

CHETRY: Did you get to try the beer, by the way?

ACOSTA: It is banned here in the U.S. It is the forbidden fruit from Cuba along with the rum and the cigars. So, we're still working on getting a six-pack up here.

CHETRY: Jim Acosta, great to see you. Thanks.

ACOSTA: good to see you.

ROBERTS: You got to have some family connection somewhere, don't you?

ACOSTA: You know what, I'll work on that.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks, Jim. Here's what we're working on for you this morning. We're letting you hear directly from the candidates. And more than just short sound bites. Find out what John McCain is saying about the war in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTS (voice-over): Awake. Under the knife. Why some brain surgery is best done while the patient is reading?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His speech and all these movements remain intact.

ROBERTS: We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" on this rare procedure. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. With the election now a little more than three months away, we want to give you the information that you need to decide whom to vote for. So, every day we're going to play extended clips of the candidates in their own words talking about the issues. Here's what John McCain is saying about the war in Iraq.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I spoke up against the administration for their mistakes in Iraq. I fought for the surge strategy that is going to bring our troops home with victory and with honor. And, by the way, I know we'll discuss this further, but this is the 31st day of July. And it's very likely that we may have the lowest casualties in the month of July than any time since the war began.

May I say, and may I say that every life is precious. Every wound is grievous. But it is a fact that this surge is succeeding. And I spoke - spoke against my party on this issue and was sometimes called disloyal. But I knew what we had to do. And I said at that time, and I'll say it again and again, I would much rather lose a political campaign than lose a war.

In Iraq, Senator Obama says he wants peace. But even today he opposes the surge strategy that succeed in Iraq and will succeed in Afghanistan. His policy of unconditional withdrawal, regardless of the facts on the ground, which our highest ranking military officer, Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said would be very dangerous. His policy could result in renewed violence and a third Iraq war. I hate war. I know it costs better than many. I'm going to end this war. But when I bring our troops home, they will come home with victory, leaving Iraq secured as a democratic ally in the Arab heart land.

The bottom line is that Senator Obama's words, for all their eloquence and passion, don't mean all that much. And that's the problem with Washington. It's not just the Bush administration. It's not just the democratic Congress. It's that everyone in Washington says whatever it takes to get elected or to secure the political future that they seek. If Senator Obama doesn't have the strength to speak openly and directly about how he will address the serious challenges confronting America, how will he be strong enough to really change Washington? We don't need another politician in Washington who puts self-interests and political expediency ahead of problem solving.

We need to start putting the country's interest first and come together. Come together to keep American families safe. And help them realize their dreams for a better life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: John McCain in his own words this morning. And coming up in our next half hour, we're going to hear from Barack Obama. We'll hear what he has to say about the economy.

CHETRY: Imagine being awake during brain surgery. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside the O.R. as doctors talk to a patient as they're removing a tumor at the same time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Opening up your skull while you are awake. It's an advanced form of brain surgery used to remove tumors. And it's helping doctors identify which parts of the brain control which functions of the body. Our chief medical correspondent and our resident neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live in Atlanta for us. And he's taking us inside the O.R. this morning. Sanjay, this is the type of operation that Senator Ted Kennedy recently had, isn't it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely correct. An awake craniotomy, they call it. As you just pointed out, doing brain surgery while the patient is awake. There are certain parts of the brain that are considered eloquent. They are responsible for your strength. They are responsible for your speech. And the key is to not damage those parts of the brain while removing a tumor. So what they'll do often times is keep the patient awake and check the brain consistently and constantly while performing the operation. It is relatively rare, relatively new. We have exclusive some video from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

A young man there was diagnosed with a tumor just a few months ago. He first had trouble reading a menu. That's how he came to diagnosis. We thought long and hard about whether or not to show you this video. It is pretty graphic, I I'll warn you in advance. But it's pretty incredible as well. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): His name is (Conner Lick). He's 19 years old, and he has a brain tumor. Because his tumor was located in such a delicate area of the brain, his doctors recommended he undergo brain surgery known as awake craniotomy with mapping.

DR. AARON COHEN, METHODIST HOSPITAL NEUROSURGEON: To be able to resect the tumor in the best fashion we should be able to find out where those critical functional areas are. That's why awake mapping makes sense.

GUPTA: The patient is heavily sedated but remains conscious. So the doctors can start to actually create a map on his brain. Once the skull cap is removed, that brain is exposed. Take a look at it. That's a functioning human brain. Pumping to the beat of the heart. And keep in mind, the patient is wide awake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK, Conner?

CONNER LICK: Yes.

GUPTA: By stimulating certain areas of the brain and talking to the patient --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conner, did you hear anything, feel anything?

CONNER LICK: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: on, off.

GUPTA: The surgeon can tell which of those areas are sensitive and need to be avoided during the operation. Here they are creating the map of the brain. In Conner's case he remained awake through the entire procedure. Reading Kurt Vonnegut out loud while a section of his brain was completely exposed. If the doctors pressed on a sensitive area, Conner's reading would be affected, telling his surgeon, that's an area to avoid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you see how I stop stimulating. He can say the name, but before that he can't.

GUPTA: Once the brain is mapped, the surgeon starts to remove the tumor. Again, while the patient is still awake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your voice is shaking.

CONNER LICK: It's shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

GUPTA: The procedure which lasted about five hours usually requires only a few days of recovery.

COHEN: He was cooperative. He was very patient. And although we had some difficulty with reading which I think will be temporary, his speech and all these movements remain intact.

GUPTA: Although Conner remains awake after his operation, he is exhausted. Because his tumor was large, covering a wide area, he's still sometimes having troubles reading and speaking. But his doctors expect a full recovery.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Conner had a few problems at first as was pointed out there. But he is back to normal in terms of his ability to speak, his ability to read. Good news. Doctors say he'll probably be able to go back to college this fall. John.

ROBERTS: You said when you started this off, Sanjay, that this is a fairly rare procedure. How rare is it and have you ever performed this procedure?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, it's done pretty much I think at larger academic centers now and for very specific reasons. Tumors that are located typically on the left side of the brain, which is the side of the brain that is responsible for speech, that's one of the most common tumor locations for which this procedure is done. I have done this. I did it as a resident and a few times as a staff neurosurgeon as well. Even as a neurosurgeon I can tell you, John, it is a remarkable thing still to do this operation while the patient is awake. To be able to talk to them. To be able to have them squeeze something to show their strength. It is a remarkable thing.

ROBERTS: I bow down to you, Sanjay. It's incredible. Any particular reason why he was reading Vonnegut?

GUPTA: No. You know, we usually have the patients pick something of their choosing. Something they're familiar with. That's what he chose.

ROBERTS: I thought maybe Vonnegut was more stimulating to the brain than some other passages. All right. Sanjay, incredible stuff. Thanks for that.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: All right. And don't forget to check out Sanjay with "House Call," this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. Eastern, 5:30 a.m. Pacific. Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, here's a look at what we're working on for you a little later in the morning. Another video surfaces of New York City police officers beating a man. The cops say the man attacked them first. We're going to take a look at the case.

And young Americans react to the latest twists in the race for the White House. Will accusations of playing the race card play a role in how they vote? We're talking with two of America's leading young voters in the next hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": And Barack Obama told Tom Brokaw the other day what he was looking for in a vice president is a person who would tell him when they thought he was wrong. If that's the case, wouldn't Hillary be the best candidate? She's been telling him he's been dead wrong since the beginning of this thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Jay Leno last night talking about who he thinks should be Senator Barack Obama's running mate. A new poll has got John McCain and Barack Obama in a dead heat. This thing, as they say in Texas is thick, tight. The latest gallop tracking poll has 45 percent of registered voters favoring Obama compared to 44 percent for McCain, a poll earlier in the week showed Obama with a nine-point lead. That's gone now. CHETRY: Yes. And the issue of race is coming to the forefront of the campaign trail. Well, it started when Barack Obama responded this week to a John McCain ad that compared him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Here's a look at what Barack Obama said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What they're going to try to do is make your scared of me. Oh, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, McCain's campaign manager then fired back, accusing Obama of playing the race card to charge that McCain then reiterated to our John King. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I'm sorry to say that it is. It's legitimate. And we don't - there's no place in this campaign for that. There's no place for it and we shouldn't be doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, joining me now to discuss is the former Ohio Secretary of State republican Kenneth Blackwell, a McCain supporter. He's in Cincinnati. And from Capitol Hill this morning, democratic representative James Clyburn, the highest ranking African-American in Congress who supports Barack Obama. Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Congressman Clyburn, let me ask you first, do you think that Barack Obama was referring to race when he made those comments about this isn't the face you see on a dollar bill?

Oh, there we go. Sorry, sir, we couldn't hear you at first. Congressman, go ahead.

REP. JAMES E. CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, I said, I didn't think so at all. I thought he was attempting to inject some levity into the campaign. People have been accusing him of being too serious and cartoonists are not able to deal with him. And here he is attempting to make fun of his name, how he happens to look, and all of a sudden, everybody gets all upset about it. This wasn't injecting race at all. All you have to do is look at the man and you know what race is. That's not the issue here at all and I don't understand why they seem to try to make something out of a thing that took place months ago. He said it out in Mississippi before an all white audience. And nobody saw it as injecting race. And so I think it's a shame that a man that I've always considered to be very honorable, seems to be running such a dishonorable campaign.

This is absolutely unnecessary and people are paying so much at the pumps - CHETRY: Right.

CLYBURN: People are experiencing all of these foreclosures. People want to see us solve our energy problems, and I applaud Senator Obama for responding to those accusations with such a positive response.

CHETRY: All right. Let's let Kenneth weigh in because Obama spokesman Bill Burton, by the way, Kenneth said it's not, that he believes he was using race, but the same low road politics to distract voters. Was McCain out of line to say that Barack Obama was playing the race card?

KENNETH BLACKWELL, FMR. OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE (R): Oh, absolutely not. Although, now, I hear, it wasn't - it wasn't hubris, it was humor. I think his reference - there was a movie out many years ago called "Dead White Man," and it was about presidents on the dollar bill. I think it was a very sophisticated injection of race. It was sort of like a political prophylactic. He was anticipating, you know, that race will be an issue although John McCain has worked very, very diligently to make sure that race is not the issue, it is the important issues of the American people that we focus on. Like energy. And so I think there's a lot to compare on the energy question.

You know, McCain is for drilling. He's for nuclear power. He's for making us an energy exporting nation as opposed to an energy- importing nation. Mr. Obama, Senator Obama is a direct contrast to Senator McCain on that issue. That's what the American people, the good congressman is absolutely right. The American people want this discussion not to be about race and not to be about personality. They want it to be about leadership and the issues.

CHETRY: And Congressman, I want to ask you about that, is it too idealistic to think that race would not come up in this presidential campaign where you have really the first African-American on a major party ticket running for president?

CLYBURN: It would be too idealistic if you really thought that. I don't think that anybody thinks that at all. The fact of the matter is, we all know that that will be an issue and has always been an issue in this country. I think what we're trying to do is get beyond it. We don't say it's not there. Let's just get beyond it. And that's what Senator Obama is trying to do. And I would hope that Senator McCain will elevate his campaign and really lighten up his personality. And let's have some levity, let's have some substance, and let's talk about what ails the American people, what we need to do to change the direction in this country, and let's stop talking about Paris Hilton. It would seem to me that Senator McCain who is still in the stage of Paris Hilton is the one who really ought to really be very, very careful. And her parents, who think maxed out his campaign ought to ask for their money back. This kind of thing has got no business in politics at all. And this is misplaced.

BLACKWELL: We all need to lighten up. And this shouldn't be about race and I think we can get beyond race. This is about a pretty radical agenda. And I think if the McCain campaign focuses on Senator Obama's radical agenda, the most liberal senator in the U.S. senate, the most big government senator in the U.S. senate, we, in fact, can have a real intelligent political discussion about the direction of this country.

CHETRY: Well, we have to leave it there this morning, but I want to thank both of you. Great to have you on the show, Kenneth Blackwell and Congressman James Clyburn. Thanks.

CLYBURN: Thanks very having me.

BLACKWELL: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Breaking this morning, at least 15 students dead, more may be buried alive after a dormitory collapsed in Turkey. Officials report hearing voices from the rubble. A state-run media report says a gas leak most likely caused that collapse.

Total rubbish, that's what Pakistan is calling a report that blames a deadly bombing on its spy service. The attack at the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 41 people back on the 7th of July. According to the "New York Times," the U.S. government concluded that Pakistani intelligence did play a role in that bombing.

Another mistake with a missile. This time, Air Force officials say a truck carrying an unarmed rocket booster overturned in North Dakota. The crew received minor injuries. The rocket is 66 feet long...