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CNN NEWSROOM

Review of Day Three of the GOP Convention; What Will McCain Have to Say? More Weather Trouble for Coastal States

Aired September 4, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Our convention coverage continues now with Soledad O'Brien in New York.
Hey, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning to you, John and Kiran. And good morning, everyone. Coming to you from the CNN Election Center.

It's morning in St. Paul after a string of speeches that weren't exactly "Morning in America" stunning, not a lot of Ronald Reagan in them. Instead, one speaker after another finished up with -- finishing up, rather, with running mate Sarah Palin offered a stinging attack on the Democrats.

It was -- no matter where you stand politically -- a fiery night and just the opposite of Minnesota nights.

The question now is what's the impact and what does John McCain do to top it all off?

We're taking a look at his acceptance speech tonight and also taking a look back at the striking debut for Sarah Palin with CNN's political analyst and radio talk show host, Roland Martin.

Also we've got Stephen Hayes of "The Weekly Standard" magazine. He's also the author of "Cheney, The Untold Story of the America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President."

Gentlemen, nice to see you both.

Let's begin with you, Steven, and begin by playing a little chunk of the governor's speech last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planets?

The answer -- the answer is to make government bigger and take more of your money and give you more orders from Washington, and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Overall, what did you think of the speech? Did she hit all the notes that people said she was going to have to hit to do a great speech? And what do you think that McCain has to do to top it?

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I did. I mean, I thought the speech was really a masterpiece of political rhetoric. One of the best convention speeches I've actually seen in years.

I think the most important thing that she needed to do was just look like she belonged. I think there were real questions that people had, and a lot of us in the media were wondering, will she be able to live up to the hype, will she be able to sort of feel like she belongs on such a prominent stage?

And I think she did that and then some. I mean I think she was very fluid in her delivery, but not quite too polished. She hit all the right notes, she said all the right things. I thought she was aggressive without being nasty.

And at the beginning I thought she was gentle without being sort of cheesy or gauzy. So I thought she did very well.

O'BRIEN: Stephen gives it two thumbs up.

Roland, what did you think of her speech?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, may I give an A when you go to CNN.com and certainly lots of red meat. This was not a speech aimed at swing voters, independent voters. I mean it was aimed at the Republican Party, the folks sitting in that room.

When you listen at the biting sarcasm, I won't initially say that people didn't respond, they didn't think it was nasty. I mean I've seen some of the e-mails and response that have come from people.

I tell you what, a couple of things also stood out that when she mentioned her husband being a member of the United Auto Workers, there were a lot of Republicans who was saying, hey, we think her husband could play a huge role in Michigan, Ohio. That room barely clapped when she mentioned that. So that -- and obviously, they weren't jumping up and down for the UAW.

But also, I said last night, Soledad, when she went out to community organizers with Rudy Giuliani earlier, I said watch the Obama campaign and say, you know what, community organizers, they're the one who's saving folks from their homes being foreclosed on.

They're the ones that keeping their lights on. They're the ones who are fighting government for the little man. Guess what, 5:30 this morning, David Plough, campaign manager for Obama, guess what he sent out? A fund-raising appeal targeting community organizers.

Do not be surprised if you see the Obama campaign today hit back hard by saying, you know what, the Republican Party laugh at the very people for fighting for the little man. It's our turn to organize them out of office.

Watch them come back with it today.

O'BRIEN: You know I got a couple of e-mails, completely unsolicited, that I've been getting over the last few days. Just anybody who sends a note in and a couple of people who were community organizers said a very similar thing.

One woman said something very interesting. She said, you know, I'm a Republican, I watched this thinking, hey, the theme is service first. And next thing you know, as a community organizer I felt I was being belittled.

And I have her e-mail. She said, "This is insulting to neighborhood watch, police volunteers, city commissioners," and kind of listed all these people.

Do you think, Stephen, that this was a misstep, a big misstep, a misstep that everybody is going to forget or not a misstep at all?

HAYES: No, I don't think it was a misstep, although I will say that I had some of the same thoughts that Roland had as we were watching the speech. And I -- certainly thought the Obama campaign would hit back hard and hit aggressively.

I would argue that that's a mistake. I don't think they should do this. Four years ago we saw Dick Cheney engage John Kerry. And really the last two months of the presidential campaign became a battle, a debate in essence between Dick Cheney and John Kerry with George W. Bush sort of sailing above it all.

That was exactly what the Bush campaign wanted. And they couldn't believe that John Kerry continued to engage.

If Barack Obama is going to get into a back and forth battle with Sarah Palin about who has more experience and what sort of the kind of quality of that experience, this is something, I think, John McCain is going to love.

His campaign believes this is something of a rope-a-dope, if they get into a battle, a debate about who has more experience, Barack Obama on the one hand, Sarah Palin on the other.

O'BRIEN: Let me...

MARTIN: Soledad, that's not going to -- that won't be the twist. That won't be the rub. The issue is not -- remember, the battle won't be over experience. Just what you said earlier, the set-up.

If the Obama people say the community organizers, they're the ones who fought for women to have the right to vote, they fought for the civil rights movement, they fought to end slavery. They are the ones who are fighting to keep workers, to keep jobs from going overseas, to keep steel plants from shutting down.

If you used that argument, you could connect with the blue-collar worker by saying community organizers fight for you.

O'BRIEN: Got it.

MARTIN: Republicans, they laugh at you.

O'BRIEN: I want to move on.

MARTIN: That's how, I think, you can spin it.

O'BRIEN: Let stop it there, because there are some other topic I want to ask about. And there has been a lot going on about sort of the working mothers. A girlfriend of mine who runs "Working Mother" magazine said that her readers are actually very divided on the issue.

So these are -- this is a readership of only working mothers who aren't really sure how they feel about a working mother vice president. And it's been -- god, I mean, I couldn't tell you about the e-mails I'm getting on this topic.

Is it sexist? Is it not sexist? Is it -- question her credentials, et cetera, et cetera. Is it going to be a problem to have a VP who's a working mom when it comes to strategy as the attack dog?

Because I -- you know, is there a higher standard for women to not look mean? I know that female candidates talk about that challenge all the time, walking that line, not being too mean, not being too soft.

Is that going to be a problem? Either one of you.

MARTIN: Well, I tell you, Soledad, it is a very fine line they have to walk.

Look, Senator Hillary Clinton, very confident, very tough, and that was one of the issues. And so I think if you -- when you watch Palin's speech last night it was set up very well, focusing on the family at the outset, provided a very soft tone in terms of laying the foundation for that.

But, yes, you do have to watch that line. I think it's stupid, though, for anybody to sit here and say that, well, you know what, I have questions whether she can do the job because she has kids.

Senator Barack Obama has a couple of kids. But the thing that we cannot lose sight of is what you just said -- working women. It's the issue with women and they're somewhat bothered by this.

And, remember, every Democratic primary, when they comprised an average of 50 percent of the voters, I say you got to take those feelings into account when you begin to walk out there the way you might do it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's not very clear what the feelings are. Go ahead, Stephen. HAYES: Women have dominated. Women have given Democrats a significant gender gap over the last several elections. I think one of the things that Sarah Palin will do is eat into that gender gap.

Now we'll see in polling that comes out in the next couple of weeks, but I think last night's performance is likely to be the kind of performance where people look at her and say she hit exactly the right tone.

It was gentle at the beginning as Roland says. I mean I think she came out and she presented herself effectively, quite effectively, as a mother but, again, as I said, she was also very tough at the end, tough but I don't -- I think she came short of -- well short of nasty.

But I think she was tough and she was aggressive. And I think if she hadn't been tough and hadn't been aggressive...

MARTIN: True.

HAYES: ... we would probably be sitting here this morning and saying, oh gosh, I don't know if she's up for the job. Can she be the attack dog?

O'BRIEN: That's a -- hey, hold that...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: No, no, Roland, we've got to go to break.

MARTIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: But we'll come back and continue. So remember that thought because I'm going to come back to you right after our short break.

Roland, Stephen, stay with us. We've got to take a break. We've got to continue to this conversation in just a moment. Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That was the reception of Sarah Palin at the beginning of her speech last night. When it was over Republicans were talking about a new star. Democrats are nashing their teeth, some of them, and skeptics were saying, where's the beef?

Back with our panel, Roland Martin and Stephen Hayes.

All right, Roland, I -- I cut you off the last minute because you know how to talk. So pick up where you were. We were talking about the working mother issue and the delicate balancing act. MARTIN: Well, absolutely. I mean, look, I mean they are -- everybody wants to target these -- in terms of women, suburban women. When you look at what Obama and Biden were doing yesterday. What they were talking about equal pay for equal work. And so you're going to see a lot of that.

They're going to be targeting those voters all throughout. And so now when we talk about this as a tone, some of our folks were looking at some of the focus groups last night. There were a lot of independent women who liked her speech but they also said they didn't like the sarcasm.

I was simply making that point that, again, it's one of those unique things where women respond to certain speeches differently than men. Women are from Mars, men are from Venus, whatever the heck that book is called. And so I think the same thing in politics. She does have to be careful the tone she strikes, just like Joe Biden has to be careful how he responds to her as well.

O'BRIEN: Maybe it's not a women are from Mars, or whatever the book title is, but a double standard that women, you know, have to be both be seen as strong but not shrill. You know you're navigating this line especially if you want a position that could eventually put you in the -- big chair, the presidency.

Stephen?

HAYES: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, you know, you heard some Democrats last night reacting to the speech and calling it shrill, which, you know, some Republicans immediately responded and said, boy, that sounds really sexist to me.

Would they say that about Rudy Giuliani's speech?

I think that's actually a fair point. But really, what we have to do is take a step back and look at what Sarah Palin was able to do. And I think Roland is a right. We are talking in a sense about sort of redefining the race as one about class.

MARTIN: Right.

HAYES: This is really a battle for blue collar workers, for independent women. And I think this is where she is going to come in quite handy. You look at the kinds of arguments she was making last night. A lot of the arguments went back to the narrative that Republicans are trying to battle about Barack Obama being elitist, about him being too -- caring too much about himself, not enough about his country.

It could be a pretty effective line of attack especially if she can deliver it with a smile.

And one final point just on what Roland said about these focus groups. Focus groups always reacted immediately as they're watching the speech. They always react negatively to negative. What really matters will be what happens in November. Do they respond?

MARTIN: Of course.

HAYES: Are those the things that stick with them? And usually negative attacks work.

MARTIN: That's what you also (INAUDIBLE) Obama being black...

O'BRIEN: Well, shoot, I don't -- I know that -- hang on, Roland. I know that what really matters is what happens this November. I'm fully aware of that. I'm curious to know, outside...

HAYES: You're right.

O'BRIEN: I mean when you have a screaming crowd of people you often see it, I think, when people are watching the speech in person and they have often a very different visceral reaction than someone who's watching it on television 1,000 miles away.

And at the end of the day the target is not the party faithful and the target is not even the party faithful...

MARTIN: No.

O'BRIEN: ... who are not sitting in those seats in the convention hall. It's that undecided group.

With that in mind, did the speech work?

MARTIN: Well, first of all, look, we don't necessarily know, we work for them. But I think -- I do think, though, that her speech last night was for the people in the room but also for the Republican base.

This was a base that was, look, not energized with John McCain. And so when she was sitting here throwing those barbs out they were responding to it, absolutely, yes, finally somebody is fighting back.

And you know what the Democrats are saying? OK. Game on. We're going to respond back as well.

Soledad, real quickly. Earlier point, women walking a fine line, Obama being African-American was walking the exact same fine line.

Can't be too angry, can't show too much passion. So it's very interesting when you deal with minority groups -- women, African- Americans, Hispanics -- how the people's perceptions of what you can and cannot say play a part in this as well.

I want to be sure to make that point as well.

O'BRIEN: Well, guys, I thank you very much. We'll be talking...

HAYES: Yes, Soledad...

O'BRIEN: You know, Stephen, we're out of time.

MARTIN: Well, you know so.

O'BRIEN: But guess what, we have all day. We're talking and parsing through this speech and also to look ahead. So we'll be chatting a little bit later.

Gentlemen, I appreciate it. Thank you very much, Roland Martin and Stephen Hayes joining me.

That's it for now. Soledad O'Brien at the CNN Election Center in New York. I'll see you back here in just about 15 minutes. Continuing our non-stop coverage from the convention.

Back to "CNN NEWSROOM" right after these short messages. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

See events coming into the NEWSROOM live on this Thursday, September 4th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Hanna plotting a hazy track for the Carolinas. Ike exploding into a monster hurricane, parts of the tropics flooded by a parade of storms.

Take a look now. Wayne County, Michigan whispers of a plea bargain. The case against Detroit's mayor in court right now. A deal could cost him his job. But in the salacious city scandal.

The polar shows snaps the chunk of the size of Manhattan drifts freely into the Arctic. Breaking the ice, in the NEWSROOM.

ANNOUNCER: CNN, you're hurricane headquarters.

HARRIS: We're talking double trouble, two storms gaining strength and attention this morning. First up, Hanna. It could hit the U.S. tomorrow. And the Atlantic coast is scrambling to get ready for the storm. Already a killer, more than 60 dead as massive flooding sweeps over Haiti.

On Hanna's heels an even more powerful storm, Ike roars through a fearsome category 4 hurricane.

Our weather team following both these developing storms. Let's check in now with CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano in our hurricane headquarters.

Rob, good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Tony. Hurricane or not hurricane yet, but tropical storm Hanna -- could very well become a hurricane soon. The cloud pattern here looks a little bit diffused but we do think that Hanna will get better organized.

What is better organized is this thing. Look at that eye. That is Ike. That's got winds of 145. That's a cat 4. That's nasty. And it's heading in the Bahamas direction.

This is Josephine out here. So we've got three storms that are heading in the general vicinity of the United States. So we're definitely concerned about that.

Let's talk Hanna first. Here's the forecast track over the next couple of days. Forecast to become a hurricane category 1. Intensity is always a bit of a question mark, but looks like a category 1 storm here. Bypassing Florida. Bypassing Georgia.

Cone of uncertainty includes a good chunk of the Carolinas. We get this thing to curve a little bit more, that would be ideal. Get it out to sea. Right now it looks like, though, a very good possibility, Friday night, Saturday morning land fall somewhere in the Carolinas.

We'll just have to wait and see, though, what that track does. But, obviously, those folks are ramping up and preparing for the onslaught potentially of Hanna.

South Florida, southeast coast again, this is Ike. Category 4 storm. Goodness, this could be nasty as well. And that will be beginning the next week. So folks in south Florida and the southeast coast will be watching that carefully.

Josephine, not an issue at this point, Tony. So Hanna, tomorrow night, Saturday morning. And then Ike somewhere...

HARRIS: Wow.

MARCIANO: ... somehow, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week.

HARRIS: I'm used to us talking about training storms but when you're talking about training tropical activity here from tropical storms to hurricane, I'm not -- I'm not used to talking a about that, Rob.

MARCIANO: No, it's definitely...

HARRIS: Yes. (INAUDIBLE)

MARCIANO: It's an active year and the next two weeks are -- is when hurricane season peaks.

HARRIS: Wow.

MARCIANO: So it's not totally surprising.

HARRIS: Yes, I guess you're right.

All right, Rob, appreciate it. Thank you.

MARCIANO: You got it.

HARRIS: You know, the East Coast looks to the horizon, the Gulf Coast simply seeking to return to normal. Here's a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav by the numbers.

More than a million homes and businesses are still without electricity and the predictions are grim. Officials warn it could take a month to fully restore power.

In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineer says it has inspected more than 200 miles of levees. Their conclusion, most of the partially rebuilt levee system remains intact and the floodgates have really opened for a returning evacuees.

An estimated 2 million people fled their homes before the storms.

So what are the evacuees facing as they return home?

CNN's Susan Roesgen is in New Orleans.

Susan, good to see you. It sounds like, at the very least, an uncertain future for those returning evacuees.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Tony. Tens of thousands of people in Louisiana are coming home to no lights and no air conditioning.

Now, that's bad enough, but take a look at what one homeowner is going to find when he comes back. This house has been under renovation, Tony. You can see that the green paint is still fresh on it. And this is what Hurricane Gustav did to it.

Probably 100-year-old two-story shotgun house. What a mess. Just tilted like that. That's probably the biggest shock a homeowner will see when they come back here to New Orleans.

But still, thousands of people are finding that they can't live in their houses either.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE GANDALFI, HOMEOWNER: Judging from the outside...

ROESGEN (voice over): When Steve Gandalfi(ph) got back to New Orleans it looked as if a hurricane had been inside his house.

Steve says he and his wife just tore through the place in the rush to evacuate. But they didn't expect to come back to a house without power.

Across Louisiana, tens of thousands of people don't have power, even in parts of New Orleans that Gustav just grazed. And Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal isn't happy about it. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, LOUISIANA: Let me say this to our national audience. There are utility companies that have additional men, lines men and women and vegetation crews and equipment, we need every resource they can spare down here in Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about some whisky smoked onions? I mean they need a little whisky in their life right now, don't they?

ROESGEN: When the famous Commander's Palace restaurant lost power, the head chef decided to make gourmet meals for the emergency folks.

They weren't used to eating such swanky fair, but they were grateful.

(On camera): How does this compare with an MRE?

CPL. MICHAEL MAYENCE, LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD: Oh come on. A lot -- much better. Much better.

TORY MCPHAIL, CHEF, COMMANDER'S PALACE: We got to take care of our friends, you know? Everybody's been given back to us. And that's our duty as a community to give back to the folks that are helping us out. So that's what we're doing.

ROESGEN (voice over): Another way New Orleaneans are giving back is kind of unusual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Dr. Gagne, and I understand you're from Baton Rouge.

ROESGEN: New Orleans area hospitals were afraid they'd have to evacuate patients to Baton Rouge 80 miles away. Instead, the hurricane was so bad in Baton Rouge, that New Orleans' Ochsner Hospital is helping patients from there.

Katherine Kimmerly needed antibiotics.

KATHERINE KIMMERLY, PATIENT: I started feeling better yesterday but then I woke up this morning and was feeling worse than before. I think it's just from being shuttled and evacuating and not really -- everything kind of up in the air.

ROESGEN: By the grace of God, New Orleans was spared. But it's just bad luck that bums out returning evacuee Steve Gandalfi. It turns out the house right next door to his has power and he doesn't.

GANDALFI: I wanted to throw an extension cord over there and he's got an outdoor outlet.

ROESGEN: For a lot of people in New Orleans, no power is an inconvenience. It could have been a whole lot worse.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: As it is for this person, a whole lot worse to find that he's got to fix his house up again. We think, Tony, the owner is behind there probably having a Bourbon this morning and putting his head in his hands and trying to figure out what to do.

HARRIS: Sure.

ROESGEN: But what is so infuriating for people here is the hop scotch way the power has come back on. As you saw one person has power, the other doesn't. More than 600,000 people in Louisiana don't have power. 70,000 people in Arkansas don't have power.

And you better listen to talk radio this morning. You wouldn't believe it. People asking for ice, people asking where can they get a generator. The few Home Depots and Lowe's department stores that are out and open today and have power, the generators are flying off the shelves.

HARRIS: That bad.

ROESGEN: People were not expecting this...

HARRIS: Yes.

ROESGEN: ... when Hurricane Gustav was just a big blow in this area -- Tony?

HARRIS: Yes. Hey, Susie, I want to ask about that house behind you. But first, what about all the thousands of people who were evacuated by bus, by train? How will they actually get back to New Orleans?

ROESGEN: Well, you know, that's really true. Mayor Nagin said last night, look, the city paid to move these people out to get them on buses. We certainly won't leave them stranded in the shelters in the northern part of the state.

We will pay to bring them back and get them home. But I bet you, Tony, that he's going to wait until he finds out which neighborhoods have power and which don't.

HARRIS: Yes. And Susan, that house over your left shoulder, is that gone? I mean that can't be safe, can it?

ROESGEN: Well, you know, I peeked around inside. It has the beams. You know?

HARRIS: I mean, Susan, look at that thing. Come on.

ROESGEN: I don't know. Listen, I'm not an engineer.

HARRIS: You are not a structural engineer. But if you just look at that thing.

ROESGEN: I think somebody is going to -- just try to go like this, Tony.

HARRIS: Yes. ROESGEN: Or try to get it back up.

HARRIS: My goodness. If you talk to that homeowner let us know what his thoughts are on whether or not that that can be salvaged.

All right, Susan Roesgen...

ROESGEN: You bet.

HARRIS: ... for us in New Orleans.

Susan, good to see you. Thank you.

So here's a question for you. Who's stepping in to help those impacted by Hurricane Gustav? Find out at CNN.com's "Impact Your World' page. There you will find links to some organizations already offering assistance.

That's CNN.com/impact.

Decision day for embattled Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Let's see, do we have a live picture now of the Wayne County, Michigan courtroom. A court hearing under way.

Right now we are watching for a possible plea deal on charges stemming from a sex scandal. Kilpatrick is accused of lying about an affair with his top aide.

The "Detroit Free Press" reports a deal was in the works to have him plead guilty to felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick would resign as part of that deal.

Prime time Palin. John McCain's running mate takes the national stage and wows the GOP. Convention coverage with our Soledad O'Brien.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And once again, we want to give you a look at the courtroom in Wayne County, Michigan. We are expecting to get word of a possible plea deal with Detroit mayor's Kwame Kilpatrick.

And it's decision day for the mayor as to whether he will plead guilty in the criminal perjury case against him.

We will continue to follow this story throughout the morning for you in the NEWSROOM.

More of our Republican National Convention coverage with Soledad O'Brien in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And good morning. Welcome to you. Coming to you from the CNN election center in New York. I'm Soledad O'Brien. As we continue our coverage of the 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The sun is coming up. Republicans energized by a night of fiery speeches, capped off by running mate Sarah Palin who showed why John McCain was so keen to put her on the ticket. And why Democrats won't be able to take anything for granted from here on out. Some early reaction from a senior adviser to John McCain and former White House communications director Nicolle Wallace. Nice to see you, Nicolle. Thanks for talking with us.

I want to start by playing a little bit, my pleasure, here's what Joe Biden, the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic side, had to say about Palin's speech. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Her speech was amazing speech in two ways. It was incredibly well crafted and delivered. But there wasn't a single, I didn't hear the phrase middle class, I didn't hear a single word about health care, I didn't hear a single word about helping people get to college, I didn't see a single word or phrase or word about how to deal with the retirement security for people and Social Security. I didn't hear Afghanistan or Pakistan mentioned where the terrorists live.

O'BRIEN: Do you think those were lacking in her speech? There weren't enough specifics?

NICOLLE WALLACE, SR. ADVISER, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN: Look, maybe when Senator McCain and Governor Palin win we can offer Senator Biden a job in her speech writing office. I thought it was a home run.

O'BRIEN: Well, touche. But answer the question. Do you think it lacked specifics?

WALLACE: I obviously don't think it lacked anything.

Governor Palin talked about a servants heart but she also showed a chief executive's mind. A chief executive of a state is someone for whom the buck stops at their desk. And she spoke with great specificity about one of the issues, you guys call it issue number one, the American economy.

And the most important issue in the American economy for most people is energy. And when it comes to energy, there's no one on either ticket who knows as much and has accomplished as much in terms of standing up to big oil and taking on the entrenched interests to lower gas prices and return some of the oil, big oil's profits to the people of her state.

O'BRIEN: Some of the feedback that I've been getting from people who loved her speech told me they thought she came out very strong and she came across as a very regular person. Do you think questions about her experience, which there have been many over the last few days, are now put to rest at the end of the speech?

WALLACE: No. And we plan to brag about her experience for the next 60 days. So I sure hope you're not going to stop asking. We're very proud to have the only chief executive on either ticket. She is someone -- you know, I worked for a governor. Governors are in charge of every aspect of their citizens' lives, from their security from a hurricane or anthrax attack, from the education of every child in the state, to health care, to social services, to dancing that state's economy, to trade. You know, she runs a state that is a major player in the global energy market. So we hope no one ever stops asking about her experience.

O'BRIEN: Excellent. We love that. Let me play you a little chunk of what she had to say last night in her speech about community organizers.

WALLACE: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Good response from the crowd, but I'll tell you, the number of, e-mails that I've gotten from community organizers across the board who are not necessarily decided either way, who said, wow, why a slap at us when the Republicans' entire scene behind the convention is service first, which is really what community organizers do. Do you think that was a mistake?

WALLACE: Well, look, I think if community organizers were insulted, then certainly something may have been lost. That was a direct comparison to Senator Obama's lack of any executive experience. He's never run anything. I think her point was, organizing things isn't the same as running things. It isn't the same as leading a state. It isn't the same as leading on an issue like energy that matters to you, it matters to me, it matters to every American.

And especially to people running their households and juggling the cost of gas and which car are we going to drive, are we going to trade in the SUV for something more efficient? These things matter to every person. And I think community organizers obviously give back but I'm not sure they make the best commander in chief.

O'BRIEN: There has been much said about a double standard for women and how women have to navigate in their speeches sort of being too mean or too tough. Do you think that's true and do you think that's a challenge because that's kind of the job of the V.P. nominee, to be the attack dog?

WALLACE: Yeah, I heard this mean this morning from Robert Gibbs that he thought she was too mean or that people thought she was mean. I don't know what speech they were watching. I think that women are expected to do it all. They've got to lead, they've got to show their experience, they've got to show their heart, which I thought she did exquisitely, and they've got to show that they're tough. She's all those things. I think when John McCain and Governor Palin take the stage tonight we're going to be staring at the next president and vice president of the United States.

O'BRIEN: One are that has gotten certainly people sending to me a lot of e-mails is the question about as governor what she did with the special needs budget, which I'm sure you're aware, she cut significantly, 62 percent I think is the number from when she came into office. As a woman who is now a mother to a special needs child, and I think she actually has a nephew which is autistic as well. How much of a problem is this going to be as she tries to navigate both sides of that issue?

WALLACE: Well, you're a woman who does it all and so is she. I think that when she is in the White House and her message last night was that if she and Senator McCain have the privilege and honor of serving in the White House, that special needs, the special needs advocates in the community will have someone in the White House who will not only listen and fight for them but who knows exactly what every parent of a special needs child is going through.

O'BRIEN: But those advocates have actually said the opposite of that. Those advocates have said as a woman who is now a mother of a special needs child, she's not fighting, she's cut the budget by 62 percent since she came into office and doesn't that show a contradiction?

WALLACE: Well, she put down a marker last night that, you know, I've spent some time with her over the last five days. This is a woman who is true to her word. She put down the marker last night. And no one in this country should doubt anything she says. She means what she says and she says what she means. I think we saw that in many, many, many instances of her speech last night.

O'BRIEN: So you think she'll completely contradict what she did as governor when it comes to special needs?

WALLACE: Soledad, I think she's a woman of her word. I think what she said last night that the special needs communities and moms and dads of special needs kids will have an advocate in the White House, she meant what she said.

O'BRIEN: We will see. Nicolle Wallace is a McCain spokesperson. Nice to see you, Nicolle. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

Coming up, buzz from the bloggers on the right and the left.

And we'll talk more about the female factor right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president? How dare they do that? When do they ever ask a man that question? When?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's the former New York's mayor and presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani slamming the opposition. Barack Obama, too. And at one point turned the words community organizers into a little bit of an insult. Also raised the question of a double standard when it comes to women. Joining us now is two bloggers talking about that. McCain supporter Rachel Campos-Duffy of rachelcamposduffy.com and Obama supporter Erin Kotecki Vest and she's with the site blogher.com.

Nice to you both. We had such a great time be you yesterday and we've asked you to come back. Rachel, I'll start with you because I know you're on the floor. What did you think of the speech overall?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, PARENTDISH.COM: I think it was phenomenal. I think one of the best examples of the kind of impact I think she's having, I really think she's a secret weapon in the McCain campaign. When I walked out of the convention hall, my phone was buzzing from all my friends. Mostly moms, some grandmas. A lot of them Obama supporters who were lured, impressed, just really taken by her that she has this common touch and yet exudes such intelligence and poise.

And as a Republican, it was really great to see McCain come out. You kind of got that feel that there's great chemistry between them. That he liked her speech, he liked her feistiness and that there really is that chemistry there. So I thought she did a phenomenal job.

O'BRIEN: You say it was a home run. Erin, as a Democrat supporting Barack Obama, what did you think of the speech? When we talked yesterday you thought experience was an issue. Did she prove you wrong in the speech?

ERIN KOTECKI-VEST, BLOGHER.COM: No, not at all. Because I didn't hear anything about policy or substance. We heard she was a hockey mom and we heard that John McCain was a POW. Apparently that's the only memo that the GOP puts out these days. I didn't hear anything about health care. I didn't hear anything about the economy except for gas prices and drilling. Energy was the only issue she touched on. Other than that, the substance was missing. It was all snarky attacks.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you about that. Hang on, Rachel. I want to get to this question that we sort of touched on yesterday. Boy, did I get an earful. We have debates in the NEWSROOM about the question of could women who are also mothers be V.P. Do kids take up too much of your time? I said that I didn't think anybody had said that, certainly I hadn't said it on our air. The number of people who wrote to me saying that everyone is talking about this. Let's talk about that a little bit more.

One, do you think there are risks in that kind of argument? Rachel, take that for me. We're all mothers here. We have a gillion kids between us.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I am a mother and I happen to be an at-home mother and there was a time when I had the opportunity where I was going to take a full-time job in New York City. It didn't work out. But when I did, my husband had agreed to be the at-home parent. So that's the arrangement our family made. There are great child care situations out there. These are issues that women face every day. And I think that their personal issues, family issues. And it's really -- it's really hitting a nerve, a chord with women to see other people out there.

And especially people on the left who seem to be prior to Palin's nomination here, the champions of that sort of opinion kind of coming out and taking jibes about that. I think you can see from the family that was up there, that they're a family that is close, that is going to make an arrangement that works for their kids. And I think you can also see that her husband seemed to be extremely supportive and that's the key here.

KOTECKI: It's the same thing we saw with Michelle Obama as well. We saw Michelle Obama come on stage and talked about how mother takes care of the girls and that's one of the only reason she's on the campaign trail. We're seeing it from both sides and I think it's resonating with conservative women and progressive women.

O'BRIEN: You know what's interesting to me? A friend of mine who is the editor of chief of "Working Mother" magazine that her readership is divided. There are actually a lot of working mothers, and I guess because we do it, we understand how hard it is. And so I was surprised to hear that a bunch of working mothers who actually think that there is a problem with a woman running for V.P, who is a working mother. That shocked me. Does that surprise you?

KOTECKI-VEST: It is.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Yes, it's really surprising. And, I mean, that's not to undermine the fact that it's probably difficult, but that, you know, working mothers have got to find that balance. They need that support. That's the conversations that I thought was going to come out of this. I have been surprised that that has come out on the other side. I think it's coming out a lot more from men out there. I think women on the left and right understand that these are choices that families make and they make arrangements and they make it work.

It's been interesting to have a debate. We're out of time. I love talking to you guys. You know we're going to be with you through this whole entire convention. I really appreciate it. We're going to have much more convention coverage coming in 15 minutes and throughout the day as well in New York, Soledad O'Brien, at the CNN election center. To Atlanta and CNN NEWSROOM right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Tony Harris. It is decision day for embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Let's take you inside the Wayne County Circuit Court right now. A hearing should be getting under way shortly. What we've been seeing throughout the morning as we've been following the comings and goings of the attorneys into the judge's chambers behind that door right there, we believe attorneys from both sides of this case, the prosecutors in this had case and also attorneys for Kwame Kilpatrick have been meeting with the judge in this case, presumably to iron out final details perhaps of a plea deal on charges stemming from a sex scandal. Now, as you know, Kilpatrick is accused of lying about an affair with his top aide. The "Detroit Free Press" reports a deal was in the works to have him plead guilty to felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick would resign as part of that deal.

So the conversations continue. At the moment we see the judge we will certainly know we're close to some kind of announcement on this case. We will continue to watch it and we will bring you the latest as soon as we know. Kwame Kilpatrick has in fact been in the court at least earlier this morning. We're not sure where he is right now but we will continue to follow this and bring you the latest when we get it.

ANNOUNCER: CNN, your hurricane headquarters.

HARRIS: It is a full-on storm watch. Hanna heads closer to the United States, Ike still out in the Atlantic, strengthening to a dangerous Category 4 hurricane. Hanna is still a tropical storm but could make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. It is expected to be off the coast of the Carolinas by tomorrow.

Storm preparations as you would imagine already under way. Right now Hanna meandering near the Bahamas after drenching Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haitian officials say 61 people died in flooding triggered by Hanna.

For the latest on where the storm and where Ike is headed right now, meteorologist Rob Marciano, there he is tracking it from the hurricane center. Rob, good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Tony. Tropical Storm Hanna with winds of 70 miles an hour not looking entirely impressive on the satellite picture, but we do expect the convection, the thunderstorms around the center, to begin to flare up. It does have winds of 70 miles an hour so it looks a bit deceiving here. And it has picked up steam as far as where it's going. Northwesterly movement now at 12.

So we're starting to see it be picked up by the trough that wants to suck it into the Carolinas. That is still the forecast here over the next 36 hours. You'll probably see some landfalling effects of the storm. We want to mention Ike, that's a nasty Category 4. Josephine way out here, you don't have to worry about that for quite some time. Certainly Florida will have to contend with Ike in some capacity next week. Keep that in mind.

Let's talk Hanna, though, the track of it expected to go toward the Carolinas. They flew a Gulfstream, a G-4 into this thing or around it last night and now with that added data, the computer models getting more concentrated and agreeing somewhere between Charleston, more like probably Myrtle Beach toward Cape Hatteras late tomorrow, tomorrow night, into sat morning potentially as a Category 1 storm.

Right now Cat 4 Ike could very well be a Cat 4 into the Bahamas. These things tend to have a hard time keeping that sort of intensity for a long period of time. We hope that it decreases this intensity. We also hope that this thing maybe scoots out to sea or at the very least go after cooler waters left in the wake of Hanna. But that's still several days to deal with, Tony. That timeframe would be Tuesday, Wednesday, anywhere from Florida to the Carolinas with Ike.

But Hanna heading towards the Carolinas tomorrow night and Saturday morning potentially as a Category 1 storm, which will do some damage during landfall.

HARRIS: Absolutely. Glad you're watching. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: You got it.

HARRIS: The Gulf Coast still reeling from the aftermath of Gustav. Here is a look at the latest by the numbers here. More than 1 million homes and businesses across three states are still without power. Officials say it could take as long as a month to get all of the electricity back on. Many of the nearly 2 million evacuees are starting to return home. But almost 80,000 people in Louisiana and surrounding states remain in shelters. Oil and gas operations shut down ahead of the storm, are starting to go back online today. The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 25 percent of U.S. oil production.

A birthday party for an old organization that just gets younger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: The Republican National Convention all this week on CNN.

HARRIS: Let's talk about pimples for a moment. They're not just a problem for teenagers. Acne can lead to serious skin conditions as you age.

CNN's Judy Fortin has today's 30-40-50 report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's usually a teenage nightmare, breakouts, blemishes, bad skin. Yet eventually acne goes away. Or does it? That's what Gi-Hyun An thought, but even as she got out of college, her acne remained a problem. Now at 36, she still puts up with pimples.

GI-HYUN AN, ACNE PATIENT: I was worried about getting rink ells. I was worried about my skin I guess losing elasticity. At the same time I was still getting pimples. And it's hard to I guess know as a layperson how you respond to all of these problems at the same time.

FORTIN: The problem got so bad she decided to see a dermatologist. He told her because of stress and wear and tear on the skin, it's not uncommon to fight acne as you get older. Even people who never had breakouts as a kid can develop skin problems.

DR. HOWARD BROOKS, DERMATOLOGIST: A lot of women come in, I was clear as a high school, I had perfect skin, now I'm 30, 40, 50, 60, now I'm 60 and I have acne. Why is that?

FORTIN: Doctors say it's the way we treat our skin as it ages. In your 30s, your skin begins to dry. That can aggravate the pores, causing blemishes. Dermatologists say, think water.

BROOKS: Drink water. That helps hydrate the skin. Gives your skin that nice glow.

FORTIN: Also, watch the products you use on your hair and face. A lot of them contain oils that can stay on your face and body and cause clogged pores, which can lead to pimples.

BROOKS: They have the pomades you can use to make your hair shine and make your hair stay in a certain position and actually those can cause acne particularly on the forehead. It's much more common in people of color but we see it in all races.

FORTIN: In your 40s and 50s, acne can start to develop down deep in the skin. Many times patients will develop hard bumps under the surface. They're more like sifts than pimples. Doctors say the condition, known as acne rosacea, is much tougher to treat.

BROOKS: Stress can certainly play lay role in it. In rosacea, foods can play a role. So we tell patients to avoid all the good stuff, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages.

FORTIN: And watch your medications. Certain drugs can cause your face to break out.

BROOKS: High blood pressure medication, some medications that can be used for other diseases that can cause acne.

FORTIN: In order to keep her skin looking healthy, Gi visits her dermatologist for laser treatments that rid her of her pimples. She says she wants her skin to age gracefully, just like her.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: How about this, a group for people who are 50 and older turns 50, AARP marking a golden anniversary. At its annual life 50- plus national expo, the three-day Washington event will feature sports stars and entertainers, among them Olympic medalist swimmer Dara Torres, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, actress Sally Field and singer Wynona Judd.

John McCain is ready to accept the Republican nomination for president tonight. Our Soledad O'Brien has convention coverage.

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