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Fay May Become Hurricane by Tomorrow; Presidential Campaigns Try to Guage Impact from Rick Warren's Forum; A Look at the Olympic Athletes of Yesteryear

Aired August 17, 2008 - 17:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Staying ahead of Fay. New information on the tropical storm as it heads closer to Florida.
What faith means to them? You see them right there, hugging. John McCain and Barack Obama are sharing their views with an influential pastor.



ANNOUNCER: (INAUDIBLE) History from Beijing for Michael Phelps!


WHITFIELD: Wow. What a moment. There is a new Olympic golden boy today.

Hello again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, batten down the hatches or blow out of town -- the two choices for folks in the Florida Keys, already feeling the outer bands of tropical storm Fay. The latest tracking shows Fay bearing west now and putting the Florida sun coast closer in the crosshairs of a potential hurricane. Florida's Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency today. Tourist and mobile home residents are ordered to evacuate the Keys.

And ahead of Fay's expected arrival tomorrow as a tropical storm or category one hurricane, people are taking it very seriously. Monroe County, Florida is taking no chances. City offices and sheriff's office, county schools, et cetera, all locked up until Tuesday at the very earliest. Well, depending on the storm's severity, of course.

Our severe storm team, meteorologist Jacqui Jeras and CNN's John Zarrella are all keeping a close watch on things. John is at ground zero, so to speak, or what could be a ground zero location near Key Largo, Florida. John, let's begin with you.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. We're in Key Largo, about 100 miles from Key West. You can see it all day -- the gas stations have just been packed with people, filling up as they make their trek northward. And we had mentioned that this is U.S. 1 leading out of the lower Florida Keys. We talked to a couple of guys who had come up this way, it took them four hours to get out of Key West and to make it this 100 miles further to the north.

As we were driving south, traffic was jammed up for miles heading northward -- lots of cars, lots of campers, lots of trailers pulling boats on them as people, mandatory evacuation, for nonresidents only.

Now, they have opened up four shelters in the Florida Keys as well for people living in low-lying areas, as well as for people living in mobile homes or on boats. So, they're asking those people, get out of those places because you're much better off if you go into one of the four shelters that they are opening.

Now, because this is a storm that's going to be moving south to north, everywhere across the Florida peninsula people are preparing. In West Palm Beach, for instance, people going into grocery stores, buying their water, buying their supplies, getting the three days' worth of supplies that you're told to prepare for well in advance of the storm.

They're also saying, of course, in Orlando, the same thing. People are getting all kinds of supplies in the grocery stores and in the home improvement stores just in case.

At this point, Fay is only a tropical storm, but still the possibility that it could intensify to a hurricane before it gets to the Florida peninsula. So no one, Fredricka, is taking any chances. Now, of course, Fredricka, we know people should have made these preparations before the hurricane season started June 1st, but, you know, maybe this will just be somewhat of a dry run with this, Fay, being a weaker storm, not a real bad storm, so people can get their supplies, get everything ready in case there is another one down the road.

We're just now entering the peak of hurricane season. You now, 80 percent to 90 percent of all the major hurricanes that form in the Atlantic, form in August and September and into October. So, we're barely into the active part of the season -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh, wow. All right, good information, John. Thanks so much. You're right, this could be a dry run.


WHITFIELD: Let's hope for that. Always keep that bottled water in your home, batteries -- battery-operated radio, et cetera, always good.


WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, John. Appreciate it.

Well, let's check with meteorologist Jacqui Jeras who is keeping track of Fay's track. Is that even possible, Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is possible, yes, Fredricka, but I will say this -- you know, there's been a lot of uncertainty, more so than we normally would see with other storms. You know, Dolly was pretty cut and dry, for example. And Edouard pretty much did what we were expecting as well.

But Fay has been consistently inconsistent and that's made it more of a struggle. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that it's been interacting with land over the last couple of days. You know, when you're out over open water, everything's fluid and flows and you know what kind of steering (ph) you're going to be getting from the ocean and atmosphere. But when you start interacting with land, especially land that has mountains over it, you know, every little idiosyncrasy, every little mesoscale feature can certainly change things up.

Now, we are seeing some changes in terms of its organization. Fay's been holding pretty steady all day long. Maximum winds around 50 miles per hour. But notice this blowup of thunderstorms over here. This is close to the center of the storm, so when we start seeing that, that can be a sign that it's starting to intensify and it's over open waters, and that water is very warm. So, certainly a good possibility there.

Now, we've started to see that west to northwesterly track now. We've been westward for the most part the last day or so. Now we're seeing that pull farther up to the north. This should be moving over Cuba, we think, overnight tonight, and into early tomorrow morning.

Once we get on the other side of this island, we're going to have a much better idea and a much greater confidence with that on what kind of impact and where this is going to be going for the Florida peninsula. So, make sure you watch "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow morning because we're going to have likely some changes and have a better idea, like I've said, where this is going.

In the meantime, we do expect it to intensify at least to a category one storm. And, notice this track, it's significantly different from the one we've been showing you earlier today. This update and all the computer models have shifted further off to the west and making it more likely that it will stay over the eastern gulf a little bit longer than initially expected -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jacqui, thank you for that update.

And, of course, when the weather becomes the news, we want you to send in your iReports. Just go to or type into your cell phone. But most importantly, we certainly want you to stay safe.

All right. International news now. Russian troops are expected to pull back out of Georgia hotspots tomorrow but exactly how far, well, that remains uncertain. Russia President Dmitry Medvedev says his forces will withdraw to a buffer zone but it doesn't guarantee that they'll leave the breakaway regions totally. Under the cease-fire signed yesterday, both sides have agreed to stop all hostilities.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling on Russia to stick to the agreement and get its forces out of Georgia within days. President Bush, meantime, is echoing the calls of other western leaders, pushing for Russia to simply get out of Georgia.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: These resolutions reaffirm Georgia's sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity. Russia itself has endorsed these resolutions. International community is clear that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia and the United States fully recognizes this reality. We will continue to stand behind Georgia's democracy, we will continue to insist that Georgia's sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity. We respect it.


WHITFIELD: Well, the president is keeping a close eye on the situation. He is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Brussels this week to consult with European allies. And a lot will depend on whether the Russian troops do, indeed, leave Georgia.

The presidential campaign went to church last night. One of the nation's best known pastors quizzed John McCain and Barack Obama on topics ranging from personal failings to the role of faith in politics.

Here are the candidates answering Rick Warren on same-sex marriage and abortion. But first, Senator McCain.



I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time -- every different angle, every different pain, all the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people who believe that life begins at conception would say that's a holocaust for many people. At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the moment of conception.


MCCAIN: I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate and as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. That's my commitment...


MCCAIN: That's my commitment to you.

WARREN: OK. We don't have to go longer on that one. Define marriage.

MCCAIN: Union -- a union between a man and woman, between one man and one woman. That's my definition of marriage.


MCCAIN: Could I -- are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court justices or should I mention...

WARREN: We will get to that.

MCCAIN: OK. All right.


MCCAIN: When we speak of the issue of the rights of the unborn, we need to talk about judges. But anyway - go ahead.

WARREN: Let me just ask you a question related to that. We have a bill in California, proposition eight, that's going on, because the court overturned this definition of marriage. Was this -- the Supreme Court of California wrong?

MCCAIN: I believe they were wrong and I strongly support preserving the unique status of marriage between man and woman and I'm a federalist. I believe that states should make those decisions. In my state, I'd hope we will make that decision and other states they have, to recognize unique status of marriage between man and woman.

And that means that -- that doesn't mean that people can't enter into legal agreements, that doesn't mean that they don't have the rights of all citizens. I'm not saying that. I am saying that we should preserve the unique status of marriage between one man and one woman and if a federal court -- if a federal court decided that my state of Arizona had to observe what the state of Massachusetts decided, then I would favor a constitutional amendment. Until then, I believe the states should make the decisions within their own states.



WARREN: Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the -- I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother's health. Now, from the perspective of those who, you know, are pro-life, I think they would consider that inadequate. And I respect their views. I mean, one of the things that I have's always said is is that on this particular issue, you know, if you believe that life begins at conception, then -- and you are consistent in that belief -- then I can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.

What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions, and as an example of that, one of the things that I have's talked about is, how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child?

WARREN: Define marriage.

OBAMA: I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now for me as a Christian, for me...


OBAMA: For me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. You know, God's in the mix. But...


WARREN: Would you support a constitutional amendment with that definition?

OBAMA: No, I would not.

WARREN: Why not?

OBAMA: Because -- because historically...


OBAMA: Because historically, we have not defined marriage in our Constitution. It's been a matter of state law that has been our tradition. I mean, let's break it down. The reason that people think there needs to be a constitutional amendment, some people believe, is because of the concern that -- about same-sex marriage.

I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not -- that for gay partners to want to visit each other in the hospital, for the state to say, you know what? That's all right, I don't think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are. I think my faith is strong enough, my marriage is strong enough, that I can afford those civil rights to others even if I have a different perspective or different view.


WHITFIELD: And in case you missed it, you want to watch John McCain and Barack Obama tonight on CNN. The replay of the forum on faith hosted by Reverend Rick Warren beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And find out what happened behind the scenes of the faith forum. Rick Warren gives the inside scoop on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

And we'll have a little analysis of that faith forum coming up later on in this hour. We'll be joined by Rebecca Roberts of XM Radio.

So after hugging McCain at the forum last night, Obama jabbed him today. At a stop in Reno, Nevada, he repeatedly linked his rival to the current administration. And he referred to McCain's advisors as, quote, "the same folks that brought you George W. Bush." Earlier, Obama huddled on energy policy with oilman T. Boone Pickens, whose pushing a plan for energy independence.

As for McCain, well, his schedule today was thrown off track by the looming tropical storm Fay. McCain canceled a fundraiser slated for Miami and instead flew to Orlando where he will speak tomorrow to a veterans group. And later tomorrow, he is to attend a fundraiser in Atlanta hosted by Republican activist Ralph Reed.

Well, thank goodness for clueless crooks. Two unmasked men break into a bar and leisurely loot the place with a sledgehammer. As you see right there in that video. All of it caught on tape.


WHITFIELD: American Michael Phelps is swimming his way right into the history books. He has won eight gold medals of this Beijing Olympic Games, that breaks Mark Spitz's record of seven golds captured 36 years ago in Munich. Well, here's today's history-making performance right there at that touch of 400 medley relay. Well, Phelps and three of his teammates, besides all that hardware, the swimmer also smashed seven world records while in Beijing.

Well, in Phelps' hometown of Baltimore, diehard support and of course excitement. After preseason game, Baltimore Ravens fans turned their attention from the football field to the pool. They watched the swimmer capture his history-making gold on the stadium's Jumbotron. Pretty exciting stuff. will be talking to Michael Phelps this week. And, you can, too. Go to right now to submit your own video questions for him. Then, you don't want to miss Michael Phelps on Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. Eastern, only at

All right. Controversy 101. A judge's ruling on creationism and college credit is sure to spark some major appeals.


WHITFIELD: News across America right now, police in north Texas confirm they have found the body of a 46-year-old, Mindy Daffern; she's the store clerk who was kidnapped Friday. That crime was caught on surveillance tape. Police say the man pictured, 30-year-old Wallace Bowman, led investigators to Daffern's body in a neighboring county. He is now being held on $3 million bail and could face capital murder charges.

A 38-year-old mother and four of her children mourn today in Memphis, Tennessee. A massive fire swept through the family's home early yesterday morning. In all, seven people died, including 18-year-old Dion Poole. He escaped the flames but then went back into the house and died trying to save three family members.


ALICIA BRADLEY, VICTIM'S COUSIN: But he had to go in and get them out. He had to do what he had to do. MARQUAL RIVERS, FRIEND: He had a chance to get away but he'd (INAUDIBLE) and then he came back to save them. He needs to do what he got to do (ph).


WHITFIELD: So sad. The three survivors are recovering with second degree burns. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

And police in Columbus, Ohio have a few good suspects in mind for the recent burglary of a bar. Two men were caught on tape in their sledgehammer assault on the place. And investigators say these guys disarmed the security system before actually cleaning out the juke box, then the cash register and taking home flat screen TVs as well.

The bar's owner had just installed the surveillance system about two weeks ago and he hopes that it actually pays off with the arrests of these guys.

A state-run university is refusing to recognize credits from some religious high schools. A federal judge has ruled the university was within its rights to do so.

Here now is CNN's Kara Finnstrom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that's -- really, if you are a Christian, remember now, you have your testimony...

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Cavalry Chapel Christian School in southern California.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are those parents that commit (ph) to this authority.

FINNSTROM: What's taught to the 1,300 students here...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parents and schools, we have rules and regulations.

FINNSTROM: ... is now at the center of a culture war over religion and education.

ROBERT TYLER, ADVOCATES FOR FAITH AND FREEDOM: Our teaching reflects that God exists, whereas the U.C. wants courses to be taught from a perspective that there is no God.

FINNSTROM: The University of California is denying credit for some Cavalry Chapel courses, saying some textbooks instruct that the Bible is an unerring source, ignore important topics on science and history, and do not teach critical thinking. The association of Christian schools sued. This week a federal judge ruled U.C. has the right to refuse credits, and now the Christian schools are appealing.

DAVID MASCI, PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE: It could have potentially a chilling effect on religious schools and the kinds of courses that they offer students.

FINNSTROM: U.C. school officials declined an interview, but released a statement saying, "There is essentially no difference between the course approval rate for religious and secular schools," and the university system says it "does not consider whether courses have religious content but whether they provide adequate instruction."

At the crux of the debate, whether this school's Christian viewpoint distorts certain curriculum or adds to it.

DANIELLE HATT, CALVARY STUDENT: When you look at our science curriculums, we're given every theory from intelligent design to evolution, whereas it's more narrow in a public school system. So, I think we're given a broader spectrum.

FINNSTROM: Senior Danielle Hatt hopes to attend the U.C. school. Right now, the few classes being refused credits shouldn't hold her back. The fear of Christian school leaders -- more classes could be refused credit, handicapping students in Christian schools, and Christian education.

PASTOR DES STARR, CALVARY CHAPEL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: I think that we are moving towards a more secular time and we're going to fight for the rights to continue to teach from a Christian viewpoint.

FINNSTROM (on camera): Each of five (ph) students of private religious schools will be watching closely, especially those with their sights set on campuses like UCLA. Attorneys say the appeals could drag on for years.

Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


WHITFIELD: Faith, religion and politics, do they mix?


WHITFIELD: Well, perhaps you're environmentally friendly at home but you struggle when you're traveling. Well, we've got some tips. Melissa Long does, that is, "On the Go."


MELISSA LONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't have to give up every comfort to be an eco-friendly traveler.

AMY ZIFF, TRAVELOCITY.COM: You can have every last amenity if you want to save (ph) an eco-resort. But of course you can also do something like camping and make sure that you have no impact on the environment whatsoever.

LONG: If camping is not your thing, few small changes can go a long way.

ZIFF: Things like taking mass transit from the airport rather than hailing a cab; turning off the lights before you leave a hotel room.

LONG: But when choosing green places, don't be fooled by marketing.

ZIFF: Greenwashing is when a hotel or some travel provider markets themselves as being green-friendly, but indeed their practices don't actually mirror that intent.

LONG: To avoid this, Amy Farley of "Travel & Leisure" magazine suggests doing your homework.

AMY FARLEY, TRAVEL + LEISURE: There is no single green hotel accreditation system in the U.S. or even the world right now so it is a little confusing. There's Green Globe and Green Leaf. Both those are great. And also, look for hotels that have energy star ratings from the U.S. That means that they're doing a lot to reduce their energy use.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: How about an alliteration with the Fs, fickle Fay, we're now calling it? It is flirting with Florida. The Keys now feeling the outer bands of this storm which forecasters predict just might become a hurricane as early as tomorrow. Well, that means that Highway 1 along the Keys is pretty jammed. Folks heading north now, particularly because tourists have been put under a mandatory evacuation order. And that means a lot of residents there are kind of guessing and toying with the idea it is time to get serious and make their way north as well.

Jacqui Jeras is in the Severe Weather Center keeping a close eye on all of these things.

Usually, the tourists leaving is a precursor to residents, you're next.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. I don't know that that's going to happen, Fredricka.


JERAS: Yeah. I think things are less and less likely the Keys will get a direct impact from the storm. I think tropical storm force winds can certainly be expected but with the westward shift in the track now, it may miss the Keys all together and stay out here. Keep in mind, those tropical storm force winds extend out about 100 miles from the center of the storm. so there will still be bad conditions. This is certainly still a storm to prepare for. And you want to be ready in case it does slide into the Keys. But it does appear that the most likely scenario is going to stay west of there.

Now, take a look at what's happening here on the satellite picture. Our winds today have been 50 miles per hour sustained all day long. But the organization of this storm is really not very impressive at all. But look at these last couple of frames here and this big flare- up near the center of the circulation. This is a sign this storm is getting a little bit better organized. We might see a little bit of strengthening here. But the real strengthening will likely take place once it crosses over the island of Cuba and gets into those warm waters over towards the Florida Strait.

The watches and warnings are changed a little bit since earlier today. Hurricane watches extend now from the Keys all the way up towards Tarpon Springs. We've got some watches in effect on the eastern shore. Here are the showers and thunderstorms which have been moving across the Keys and across south Florida throughout the day. They'll bring in some winds, maybe 30, 40 miles per hour and bring in some heavy downpours at times.

Here's the updated track I was talking about, Fredricka. Key West just kind of on the edge of the cone of uncertainty. Most of the guidance is bringing things west of there, but still stay on guard.

I don't like this track either. What makes it tricky here, when it goes parallel to the coast -- and we expect it to kind of curve on in. you know, just a couple of miles can make all the difference in the world. It's almost a little reminiscent of Charley, if you remember, which took a similar track here just west of the Florida coast there before it began to turn in. So everybody really on the west side there needs to pay close attention over the next couple of days.

It's also gone a little bit later in the forecast track. We think real late on Monday we'll see the impact in the Keys and then late Tuesday into Wednesday now further up the coast.

WHITFIELD: Jacqui, you mentioned Charley. A lot of folks who live in Punta Gordo on the west coast can't forget. In some cases people are still trying to recover from that a few years ago.

JERAS: Absolutely. We don't think it will get as strong as charley was probably but when you get that parallel thing, you know, you worry about any turn in. One of the reasons we don't think it will be as strong as charley, by the way, if look at all the satellite picture, look at all the cloudiness up in the northern parts of Florida. Those are very strong winds and winds like that in the upper levels will help break down that storm. We think that will prevent it from getting into a major hurricane.

WHITFIELD: Oh that's great. Thanks so much, Jacqui, appreciate it.

Mega church pastor, Rick Warren, you know the name. Well, he was back at the pulpit today, as both presidential campaigns try to put their best spin on what happened last night during this faith forum that he hosted. The event sharpened some differences between John McCain and Barack Obama, especially on some very hot-button type issues. Which candidate connected with the evangelical voters?

CNN's Jim Acosta reports.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was back to the pulpit for Rick Warren.

RICK WARREN, PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: To pray, consider, think about the character of the leaders and vote.

ACOSTA: The mega church pastor and author, who conducted what seemed at times like a presidential job interview with Barack Obama and John McCain. In his Sunday sermon, Warren offered up what he described as the Bible's qualifications for a commander in chief. Number one being integrity.

WARREN: Honest Abe, or George Washington, I could never tell a lie, I think today a lot of leaders don't know the difference.

ACOSTA: The influential minister didn't tip his hand on his choice in the 2008 race, but his civil forum crystallized the candidates' differences on critical evangelical issues. Take the question on when the rights of the unborn begin.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Answering that question the specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. I believe in Roe versus Wade and I come to that conclusion not because I'm pro- abortion.

ACOSTA: Same question to McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the moment of conception. I have a 25-year pro-life record.

ACOSTA: After the event Obama complained to the Christian Broadcasting Network that his abortion stance is being twisted.

OBAMA: It's one thing for people to disagree with me about the issue of choice. It's another for people to out and out misrepresent my positions, repeatedly.

ACOSTA: Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, an abortion rights supporter and rumored GOP vice presidential contender, said there is no question where McCain stands on the issue.

TOM RIDGE, (R), GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: John has been, is and will always be strongly pro-life.

JACQUE LAWINOGWA (ph), PROFESSOR: I think what no one is really discussing is the degree to which Senator McCain had the home field advantage.

ACOSTA: Professor Jacque LaWinogwa (ph), who's studied the rise of evangelicals in American politics believes McCain connected with religious voters and says Obama missed an opportunity

LAWINOGWA (ph): Barack Obama, for want of a better term, looked Dukakisy up on stage. This is first time I've ever seen Barack Obama kind of back on his heels.

ACOSTA (on camera): It's been said time and again that Barack Obama's performance with evangelicals may determine who wins the presidency. One of the questions following Rick Warren's forum is whether Obama helped or hurt that cause.

Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: Just in case you missed it, you can see Barack Obama and John McCain again tonight, CNN, the replay of the forum on faith hosted by Reverend Rick Warren begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern. Then CNN's Rick Sanchez will actually talk with Rick Warren about last night's faith forum coming up at 10:00 p.m. eastern.

Joining us now to talk more about the forum from Washington, Rebecca Roberts, the managing editor of XM Radio's POTUS '08, a program about the campaign, shorthand for president of the United States.

Good to have you back again.


WHITFIELD: We promised to try to have you back, so this time let's talk about this faith-based forum. Senator McCain, did he indeed, as the gentleman said in Jim's piece, have home field advantage and was it the case that Barack Obama didn't seem that comfortable to you?

ROBERTS: I think he had home field advantage in the sense that more evangelical Christians vote Republican than not. I don't think John McCain is necessarily their first choice, and he not especially comfortable talking about his faith. He was more comfortable talking about it last night than I have seen him at all during this campaign.

WHITFIELD: So we saw kind of a new McCain, and a new Obama.

ROBERTS: I'm not sure we saw a new Obama. Senator Obama always has been comfortable talking about his faith, more so than the average Democratic candidate, and he talked with -- throughout last night, his answers were sort of respectful of the other opinion. He kept making it clear that if people disagreed with him he was OK with that. So I'm not sure that was necessarily something new for him. He knew the fine line he had to tread.

WHITFIELD: Did a viewer walk away thinking one was more spiritually centered on the other?

ROBERTS: That's an excellent question. I'm not sure that's what that debate was about. I think if you have a sense of the religiosity of the candidates, you've probably kind of already made up your mind on that if that's important to you. I think this was more a sense of them as men rather than as politicians and the fact that they didn't -- they weren't on stage with each other and they didn't have a chance to make points off each other's answers. Maybe the difference -- in some ways, it was most valuable as an in-depth one-on-one interview rather than in the context of faith.

WHITFIELD: I wonder if this is a precursor to the fall debates when they will be sharing the stage at the same time. We saw a little bit of kind of the handoff between McCain and Obama, kind of shaking hands. Did you read anything into what the tone might be for those fall debates?

ROBERTS: I think they were on the stage together for less than 30 seconds.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, it's quick.

ROBERTS: There was that kind of hug an whisper moment. I'd love to know what they whispered. But I think that this indicated Senator McCain might do better in those debates than people necessarily had given him credit for. He is not historically enormously comfortable in this sort of format. and I think he tried himself very well. Senator Obama, the expectations are very high. They almost always are for him. So I think he's starting out with a higher degree of difficulty.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rebecca Roberts of XM's POTUS '08. Thanks. We'll see more of you throughout the summer and fall, for sure.

ROBERTS: Excellent.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much.

Eight races, eight golds -- you know what we're talking about, a little sports, a little Olympics, Michael Phelps, perfect in the pool. We'll chat about his history-making feat and a special Olympic trip that I'm about to embark on as well.


WHITFIELD: I say it is about that time. Jacqui Jeras is going to take a little break from Fay, because she's so fickle. We're going to talk a little Olympics, Olympic history. It's so exciting.

JERAS: I love of talking about the Olympics this week. You know, Michael Phelps...

WHITFIELD: We were crazy last weekend. Now we're really over the top.

JERAS: But I love it! It is so inspirational. It just makes you want to get out there and do something.

WHITFIELD: I just think everyone loves the Olympics. Even if you aren't athletic you're so inspired by these stories, perseverance and just raising the bar. And this guy -- good golly -- eight.

JERAS: Oh, there he is.

WHITFIELD: You're like, who's she talking about.


JERAS: Yeah, he is incredible. Eight now, so more than anybody else. That's just an incredible feat. He has such -- just -- he's just -- every time he wins. Dara Torres as well, so inspirational. As a woman, as an athlete. WHITFIELD: 41!

She's disappointed. There's her shot right there.

JERAS: No, she's not. No.

WHITFIELD: Yes, she is. Only a tenth of a point she just barely missed the gold. But at the same time, silver, pretty incredible.

JERAS: Absolutely. It's .001 of a second. She looked genuinely happy. Did you watch it? Did you watch the awards?

WHITFIELD: No, I didn't see it as it happened. I only saw the replay this morning.

JERAS: She was beaming -- she was beaming with pride!

WHITFIELD: It was so beautiful.

JERAS: She is so inspirational to so many people, to women, to mothers, to athletes, people in their 40s.

WHITFIELD: What's cool too is she said, OK, so I got the bronze in Sydney, the silver in Beijing. So maybe -- there may be another Olympic games.

JERAS: You think?

WHITFIELD: I order to clinch that gold.

JERAS: I don't know.

WHITFIELD: I think she was having fun with the moment.

JERAS: So here's what I did, speaking of the moment. Did you ever want to know how I injured my toe?

WHITFIELD: Yes, this is an Olympic moment.

JERAS: It is. I've been watching the swimming. I've never been a big swimmer. But I've always been interested. My husband was a swimmer. He competed in state, he got medals, whatever.

WHITFIELD: Or whatever!

JERAS: So I always wanted to know -- well, they talk so much in the commentary about how you do the turn. At the end of the pool and how the push off can make all the difference in the world in terms of making up time. I'm like how do you do that?

WHITFIELD: And the timing, approaching the wall to make that turn because you need the leg power. I know.

JERAS: It is not easy.

WHITFIELD: I know. JERAS: My husband tried to teach me how to do this in the pool and I can't get it. Two days ago. Yeah.

WHITFIELD: You're still injured?

JERAS: Yeah. I scraped off all the skin off the edge of the pool because I turned too late. I was a gymnast so I thought I could do it. I thought I could do a flip, I can do it. But, yeah, apparently I need more practice.

WHITFIELD: And you're a former gymnast.

I thought could I do that turn for a long time? Then I got out of the practice. When you stop doing it, it is hard to get the rhythm to do it again. Last time I did it, I was like, you know what? Maybish hang this up.

JERAS: I was surprised it was as hard as it was.

WHITFIELD: It is. It is tough.

JERAS: Here's what I want to talk about.

WHITFIELD: What do you want to talk about?

JERAS: How inspired have I been this week from your dad!


JERAS: I didn't know any of this about you. This has been really exciting to get to know you a little bit better, know a little bit about your personal life and your dad.

WHITFIELD: It's not really about me, but about him inspiring, yes, as are many of the Olympians of his generation. It's been fun for me to hear a lot of these stories again from my dad as well as his fellow Olympians, who you'll likely see once we go to the games. We're embarking on our trip tomorrow. We can't wait. This has been like the longest good-bye. Hasn't it? I've been telling you guys about it for over a week now. but it's taken a lot of preparation. My dad is almost 84. There are a lot of things to get in place. We're ready to go.

JERAS: It is amazing how different things are now compared to then.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yeah.

JERAS: And how the Olympic changes your life.

WHITFIELD: Everything from the competitions themselves, the athletes, the apparatus, the tools they use, the technology, it's all incredible.

JERAS: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: We'll tell you all about it. JERAS: I'll miss you.

WHITFIELD: We're embarking on our trip. Thank you. We'll pack you along.

All right, thanks, Jacqui. A lot of fun.

Well, the pictures, yeah, they're in black and white. We're talking about some of these memories of the Olympic Games, the athletes of yesteryear. They'll be sharing their medal stories and talk a little bit more about their sacrifices. and there's been some feedback, too. All of that coming up.


WHITFIELD: We cheer them on in victory and anguish in their defeat. America loves its Olympians. For me, it's even stronger. My dad is a five-time Olympic medalist. And I've heard the stories of how he trained for the games in between running combat missions during World War II, incredible stories. An incredible circle of champions in fact. His friendships have lasted 60 years. I'd like to share part of their story as I get ready to take my dad to Beijing tomorrow.


FRED (voice-over): Well before Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis and Greg Louganis...

SAMMY LEE, FORMER OLYMPIAN: In my day I was the first one to do a forward three and a half somersaults.

WHITFIELD: Three-time medalist diver Dr. Sammy Lee, mid distance runners Reggie Peerman, bronze at 800 meters.

REGGIE PEERMAN, FORMER OLYMPIAN: I appreciate it more but don't want to repeat it.

WHITFIELD: Charles Jenkins, gold in 400 and 4x400 relay.

CHARLES JENKINS, FORMER OLYMPIAN: We were motivated because we really loved the sport. There was no money involved.

WHITFIELD: And my dad, Mal Whitfield, five-time medalist.


WHITFIELD: Proved their medal-to-medal like no other generation of American Olympians.

MAL WHITFIELD: I'm just glad to be here because I just about used up my body. But it was all worth it.

WHITFIELD: I had lots of questions, beginning with how did they do it?

LEE: I look at our generation, that we were -- rebroke the glass ceiling. Our grandchildren will have a better, easier life. But I think some hardships are good for you because it makes you tougher.

WHITFIELD: Why didn't obstacles like the depression, segregation, and military draft during World War II derail their Olympic dreams?

PEERMAN: The "C" word -- competition. You're a competitor, and so if you're not competing against Jim Crow laws or biased officials or any of those kind of things, you're competing against another guy who's out there to run your brains out.

WHITFIELD: They move more gingerly, hair grayer, speech slower, but their life lessons of sacrifice and fortitude, hardly in the shadows.

PEERMAN: I had my day in the sun, and it's time for new people to have their day in the sun.

FRED (on camera): While all won't make it to Beijing, six decades after his first Olympic medals, I wanted to make sure that Marvelous Mal is there to relive his Olympic experience, re-unite with old friends, and help keep that Olympic flame burning bright.

MAL WHITFIELD: (Inaudible).

FRED (voice-over): For these Olympians in their golden years, there are many reasons to celebrate these games. Promising one world, one dream, and now one incredible reunion.


WHITFIELD: This is going to be a lot of fun.

Usually Josh Levs, you tell me about the feedback you get on stories. This time I want to share some with you.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want my kids to take that kind of pride in me some day.

WHITFIELD: Oh. And they will!

LEVS: This whole thing is so beautiful.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. It's been fun planning it but now, finally, it is here. We're going tomorrow. This has been the longest buildup. I know I've been sharing all this with you guys all week long but it is going to be a lot of fun. Feedback. I've gotten some interesting --

LEVS: Everyone's all over this story.

WHITFIELD: It's been fun. I got one e-mail in particular that stands out from a man by the name of Burt Gold in Newport, California. He talked to me about how he met dad a long time ago in the early '50s. This is what he writes, "Your father worked at the Variety Boys Club in East Los Angeles where he was finishing up his education at L.A. State. I was one of the poor members of the club that he'd spoken to about going to college. At the time I had no inclination to attend college or get good grades. Please tell him I have now two degrees and live very comfortable due, in part, to our conversation."

LEVS: One conversation!

WHITFIELD: Isn't that cool?

LEVS: One conversation and he remembers all these years later and it changed his life.

WHITFIELD: It is interesting because he taught me something, my dad did. He got some education at L.A. State before he eventually went on to Ohio State University where he graduated and also ran for Ohio State as well. So it was interesting.

LEVS: I'm learning so much about your dad. Let me just read this from the foundation website. The first U.S. military servicemen on active duty to have won gold medals in such prestigious competitions.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and that's why he got the Sullivan Award.

LEVS: They also talk -- exactly. That's why he got that one. They also talk about -- you also talk about preparing during -- while he was at war, preparing at night, and this is -- I know you said it was while he was at work. He was training on the runways that they were using when they were doing these bombing missions in North Korea. His whole story is just so striking in every way.

WHITFIELD: But what's interesting is the Olympians of that generation, all of their stories are striking. Many of them, Harrison Dillard, Sammy Lee, they were all drafted for war, too, you know, during World War II and the Korean War and had very similar experiences as my dad. They had to figure out inventive ways to continue training, yet at the same time stay on course for their military work and then hopefully, if it all worked out, and they survived war, they'd be able to compete in the Olympic Games and qualify. And they did it.

LEVS: You got a call.


WHITFIELD: I got a phone call as well from a gentleman after first seeing my dad on the air, who told me a beautiful endearing story about how someone had stolen his track shoes, his spikes back in high school. And my dad was in high school and running, gave him a pair of his spikes, track shoes. The young man was able to continue running. Burt Schwartz. I say "young man" but he's, too, in his 80s. He told this story how my dad was very giving to him and shared and he continued to run and he never became an Olympian. He underscored that with me but he loved his running years. And he says my dad was important inspiration to him. It was nice to hear this.

LEVS: He was an inspiration to a lot of people. Now the big trip tomorrow. Tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: It is going to be very exciting. It's nice to hear from these folks even when I'm just out and about. Folks stop me and talk about how they've been inspired through these pieces and hearing about dad to learn a little bit more about their parents and it's been nice. So we'll talk more about our journey coming up.

LEVS: And you'll tell us about it when you're back.

WHITFIELD: I know you guys are like, enough already! We get it! Lovely.

LEVS: Well, we're so excited. Sorry. Bye.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. Thanks for enduring it all.

I'll be back here, sort of, in a couple weeks. but throughout the week, Rick Sanchez is next. I don't know which camera I'm talking to. Here we go, right here. Much more from the "NEWSROOM" coming up.