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Gov. Sanford Tearfully Admits to Affair; Iran's Brutal Crackdown; Inside Iran's Protest; Saberi On Iranian Interrogations; Obama Health Care Plan; North Korea Warns of Nuke Shower

Aired June 25, 2009 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Crossing the top of the hour, thanks for joining us in the most news in the morning. It is Thursday, the 25th of June. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Here's what's on the agenda. These are the big stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

Calls for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to step down this morning. Will he cave to some of the pressure as the fallout from his affair grows. We're breaking down the scandal with our own Candy Crowley.

ROBERTS: This morning, the opposition defiance, but on the defensive in Iran, a day of mourning postponed as the government sticks to its guns and clubs. In a moment, we're going to speak with our own Reza Saya about what he saw on the streets of Iran before he was asked to leave.

CHETRY: And freed American journalist Roxana Saberi speaks exclusively to CNN. You can hear her story about life in Iran, accusations that she was spying, and what it's like to be interrogated by the hard line regime.

But first, the other top story we're following today. Governor Mark Sanford's office is in damage control mode this morning after disappearing for days, the governor admitted that he was out of the country, that he's been having an affair for the past year with a woman in Argentina. Now a spokesman says Sanford has no plans to step down.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is taking a look at the fallout this morning.

Hey, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. You know, there are three areas where we are likely to see fallout. There is first the saga of Mr. and Mrs. Sanford and their family. There is also the career of Governor Sanford, and then there will be fallout in Republican world.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Turns out the tale of the South Carolina governor gone missing is a cliche.

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So the bottom line is this, I --I've been unfaithful for my wife.

CROWLEY: A collective groan from Republicans as another of their promising new faces on the national scene goes down the tubes.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: I wonder if Sanford thought he was going to get away with this. They all do. Could have been our JFK.

CROWLEY: In a rambling, halting, teary news conference Governor Mark Sanford copped to a string of bad behavior, including a 5,000- mile lie. His hike along the Appalachian Trail was trek to Buenos Aires reportedly to this apartment complex for a rendezvous with a long-time friend he says became a lover over the past year.

SANFORD: I've seen her three times since then. During that whole sparking thing.

CROWLEY: Mrs. Sanford knew about the sparking thing and said in a written statement she asked her husband to leave two weeks ago, but he'd earned a chance to resurrect the marriage.

SANFORD: So it'd been back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And the one thing that you really find is that you absolutely want resolution. And so oddly enough I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina.

CROWLEY: There's more, e-mails between Sanford and his lover obtained by the state newspaper in South Carolina. The paper says the authenticity of the emails was confirmed by the governor's office. A spokesman for the governor would neither confirm nor deny authenticity to CNN.

"You are my love," she wrote, "something hard to believe even for myself as it's also a kind of impossible love."

"You have a level of sophistication, he wrote her, that's so fitting with your beauty." "I could digress and say you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses or that I love your tan lines."

And Republican circles everywhere the wince factor is high. Damage control 101, sympathy and prayers followed by as much distance as you can find. With warp speed, the Republican Governor's Association accepted Sanford's resignation as head of the RGA. Ten days ago, Senate Republicans were just as quick accepting John Ensign's resignation from his Senate leadership post.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Last year, I had an affair.

CROWLEY: Also new to the national stage, Ensign like Sanford was sometimes talked about as a 2012 dark horse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like a lot of our new leaders seem to be self-emulating.

CROWLEY: Good grief said a Republican strategist, they're dropping like flies.


CROWLEY: Governor has said right now that he intends to stay on as governor. However, if there is any sort of illegality in the use of state funds for any of these trips he took to Argentina, that's going to be a problem. As far as the Republican Party is concerned, Kiran, the sooner this thing is over, the better.

CHETRY: Yes, and you know -- and as you know, these things sort of go in in this sort of trajectory and one of them is at the cries get louder from, you know, political enemies to step down.

I mean, what are we going to hear today possibly about whether or not he can stay on as governor without facing, you know, repeated calls to resign or perhaps impeachment?

CROWLEY: Well, he was not all that popular even among Republicans because of some of the stands that he took in his state. And so he's going to get criticism. As far as things that were wrong as far as critics say, but not illegal, they want to know how he could possibly have left the state for five days with no forwarding address, if you will. Nobody, they say, had any idea how to get a hold of the governor, that would have been bad had there been an emergency. So those questions will continue.

I think, though, it's difficult for them to be sustained over a period of time as he seems set in staying in office and no illegality or use of public funds comes up.

CHETRY: All right. Candy Crowley for us this morning.

Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: It's about 4:30 in the afternoon in Tehran right now. The situation on the ground there reportedly very tense. Today's planned ceremony to remember those killed in the recent rallies has been postponed. It's unclear why.

But the decision follows reports of brutal beatings by police and the dreaded Revolutionary Guard. And Iran's ambassador to Mexico, the first government official to speak to CNN. Here's his take in the unrest in the street and charges the presidential election was a scam.


MOHAMMAD HASSAN GHADIRI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO (through translator): You're pointing out that hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating, where as 13 million votes were cast for Mousavi. Therefore, the people who are demonstrating are not all the people who voted for Mousavi.

This shows that they are a minority. Although several 100,000 is a high number, of course, we respect their rights. The minority has rights. But the minority has to recognize the right of the majority to govern.

Some say a fraud has occurred. Well, should they prove there has been a fraud or just a mere allegation is sufficient.


ROBERTS: Reza Sayah was one of CNN's last journalists allowed in Iran until he was abruptly called to a government office and his safety was threatened.

Reza joins us live now, free to describe what he witnessed and what he couldn't speak about before.

Reza, describe for us exactly what was your exit from the country like? What precipitated it?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this happened all very suddenly on Tuesday. We'd been there for about 11 days post election, but we've been ban from reporting since Saturday.

Tuesday morning, we get a call from the ministry that handles press credentials. They asked us to come. And they said there's someone we like you to meet at 4 p.m. They wouldn't say who.

We went to the ministry. I went in the office alone with this man who was an intelligence official. And he basically told me we have evidence that you have been working since Saturday, violating the ban, even though he wouldn't substantiate it. But he said, let's put that aside. Here's what I want you to do.

He gave me a blank piece of paper and a pen. He said, I want you to write and sign an agreement that you will no longer report here in Iran unless the reports are positive. Obviously, this was a very unusual -- he went on to say that if you don't sign this report, we're going to ask you to leave in 24 hours. If you don't leave in 24 hours, we can't guarantee your safety and we won't be able to guarantee that you'll come back and report here in Iran.

Immediately, they call the bosses at CNN in considering the unusual request. We made the decision to leave as soon as possible. It's very difficult for me to leave at a crucial juncture. I wanted to be there covering the story at an important time, but that's the decision we made, and I came back.

ROBERTS: The threats that we can't guarantee your safety certainly would give you pause as whether or not you would continue to stay in Tehran. But, you know, the government is doing everything it can to try to stop people from coming on the streets. This brutal crackdown that we saw yesterday.

If they are able, successful, in driving people away from the streets, what do you think happens next? Does this reform movement just kind of fizzle out? Or might it actually embolden these protestors. SAYAH: John, it's tough to make predictions in what's going to happen. And I don't think you're going to find anyone, any analyst that could have predicted we would be here today post election.

But I think two people are key. One is Mir Hossein Mousavi. The leader of this opposition group. He's been very quiet in the past few days. The protestors have come out. They risked their lives. I think many analysts say it's time for him to provide some direction and guidance. And if he doesn't offer a change in strategy, this will possibly fizzle out.

Another key figure is Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president, senior cleric, very influential. There's a buzz that he is in Guam meeting with other senior clerics trying to get an opposition coalition against the establishment.

Remember, this is the former president whose daughter a few days ago was arrested among the protestors. So many say he's also a key. If he comes forth, steps up, he could be a game-changer, as well. But as you said, this vicious crackdown that was launched after the Friday prayers, the supreme leader's speech that enough is enough. It appears from what I saw over the past four days, it appears that it has suppressed for the most part those large-scale clashes.


ROBERTS: They will certainly keep watching all the developments there.

Reza Sayah for us this morning in Atlanta.

Reza, good to talk to you. Glad you're back safe and sound. Thanks so much for that.

You know, long before the Iranian elections, we were talking about Roxana Saberi. She's an American journalist who was jailed in Iran. She was released not too long ago.

Our Anderson Cooper sat down and spoke with her exclusively in Paris a little while ago. And we're going to have some of that interview coming up in just a couple of minutes. So make sure that you stay around for it.

It's 9-1/2 minutes now after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

A ceremony in Iran to remember the victims of post-election protest has been postponed today. Result of the Iranian government's crackdown on the opposition there.

Restricted media access inside Iran is driving many Iranians to share what they're seeing by using iReports and social media sites. We want to bring you some of what they're seeing on the ground and a warning that these videos are raw, unfiltered and very graphic in nature.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, some 500 people with clubs and woods, they came out of Hedaed (ph) Mosque and they poured into the streets and they started beating everyone.


CHETRY: And you can hear the terror in her voice as she describes what was going on there.

Meantime this morning, American journalist Roxana Saberi was recently freed from an Iranian prison and is speaking to our own Anderson Cooper about her terrifying arrest and what life is like right now in Iran.


ROXANA SABERI, JOURNALIST: Iranians are becoming more tech savvy as time goes on. And a lot of these especially young Iranians know how to use their mobile phones to get video and they know how to put them on the Internet and send them to their friends. And they've just become a lot more connected to the world. Even though, perhaps, not all the accounts and reports that we get from these citizen journalists might be reliable or verifiable, I think they're very important in getting information to the world and also to Iranians.


CHETRY: Saberi was imprisoned for months on charges of espionage. She also described to Anderson Cooper what it was like to be arrested by Iranian operatives.


SABERI: I would like to get the knock on the door. It's -- well, when I got the knock on the door, they told me I had a letter so I thought it was the postman.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really? That's how they got you.

SABERI: Yes. They said we have a letter. Yes.

And I said, OK, come up and the man came in and then three other men came in after him. And they told me that we're going to take you for questioning and that's a shock. I never thought -- I never got any warnings or anything like that. So I was shocked.


CHETRY: Well, Saberi also tells Anderson that her interrogators pressured her into saying she was a spy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SABERI: The first day, they first took me to this neutral site outside of prison and they say we'll give you a chance. We're going to interrogate you for some hours, and if you cooperate, we'll free you and you won't have to go to prison. You can go home.

And their definition of cooperation I found out as this interrogation went on, was that I was supposed to admit to being a spy. And it might sound kind of absurd, but this is apparently what happens to a lot of people who get arrested for so-called security charges. They have to confess to certain crimes whether they did them or not. And, of course, I didn't cooperate that first day so they took me to Evin prison that night.

COOPER: For the record, you're not a spy.

SABERI: No, I'm not a spy. And as I said before, I was not a spy, I am not a spy and I will never be a spy.

Well, I don't think that Iran can ever go back to the way it was before June 12th, the date of the presidential elections.

COOPER: You don't think it can never go back.


COOPER: To change that --

SABERI: It changes the mentality of a lot of people who have been upset and angered, and now have an increased distrust of not only the president, but also the supreme leader, I think, has lost some support.

COOPER: So you think something fundamental has changed.

SABERI: I think the gap between the state and the large part of the society has increased. And also we've seen a lot of divisions within the regime itself being exposed.


CHETRY: All right. And this reminder that you can catch the entire interview with Roxana Saberi. It's airing tonight on "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

And, you know, just fascinating that she has this story to tell. And I remember when she was still being held and we had Christiane Amanpour here. And, you know, she talked about how she's lucky that she was released. I mean, she was facing real time in years.

ROBERTS: There was a lot of pressure that was being put on the government to do it. Even Ahmadinejad back then said not sure about the circumstances of her arrest and imprisonment.

But, you know, the other thing is what's happening with all the people who are under arrest right now in Iran, and when will they be released? People who were picked up during this protest? CHETRY: Yes, absolutely. Well, we'll continue to follow all of that here on CNN and AMERICAN MORNING. We'll be right back at 16-1/2 minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: It's going to be a hot one at the White House today. Right now in Washington, D.C., it's mostly cloudy with a high of 70. Though the sun does appear to be peeking out in that particular picture, later on today, partly cloudy with a high of 91. You'll be in the swamp today.

Congress still wrangling over President Obama's health care plan, particularly the details of coverage and cost. So the president took his sales pitch for the program to primetime, hosting a so-called national town hall last night on ABC. The president is promising that he can find a balance.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we are smart, we should be able to design a system in which people still have choices of doctors and choices of plans, that make sure that the necessary treatment is provided, but we don't have a huge amount of waste in the system. That we are providing adequate coverage for all people and that we are driving down costs over the long-term.


Our Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House this morning covering all of this. Pretty extraordinary last night. The lengths that the president went to there to try to put his sales pitch into overdrive here for this health care plan, which is running into some real trouble up on Capitol Hill.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty unusual, John, when you think about it to allow a TV network inside. But the anchors recalling the president's family room and his parlor to talk about health care. But, look, this really does underscores the importance of this. The president really wants to get this thing passed. And we didn't hear a lot of new ideas per se. A lot of things he's been discussing before, but he definitely is putting an exclamation point on what he wants to see done.

One of them is this idea of this government-run insurance plan that would rival private plans, give other alternatives to cut down on a lot of the costs, the spiraling costs of health care. He is pushing this for Congress to pass this by the fall. That is because senior administration officials think this is the window to get this done. There'll be less of an appetite to take this on later on next year.

And then he also acknowledged there's a lot of resistance here from the Republicans. There are still questions from folks who think that if you put before this big government-run health care insurance plan that the private companies are just not going to be able to compete to survive. So that was another thing that he kept trying to convince folks that it is not going to end up hurting those companies, putting those companies out of business, that ultimately patients, Americans, will still have the kind of coverage and plans and options that they want -- John.

ROBERTS: You know, the president says that we have to get health care costs under control if we want to control deficits down the road. But, you know, when the Congressional Budget Office scored the plans that are currently in the Senate, one of them came out at $1 trillion over 10 years, the other came out at $1.6 trillion. That raised a lot of eyebrows, even among Democrats in Congress. So, the question comes down to how are we going to pay for all of this?

MALVEAUX: Certainly, that is a big question. They are trying in Congress to whittle that number down. But when you take $1 trillion over 10 years, that's huge. One of the things the president talked about was this idea of wealthy Americans, the wealthiest Americans are not being allowed to deduct all of their itemized expenses when they file their income taxes. Here's how he explained how to generate some money.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two-thirds of the cost would be covered by reallocating dollars that are already in the health care system. Taxpayers are already paying for it. But it's not going to stuff that's making you healthier. About 1/3 of the costs will come from new revenue. And so what I've proposed is that we cap the itemized deductions that the top 2 or 3 percent get, people making over 250, you, me and Charlie.


MALVEAUX: So he's really saying that there's going to be hundreds of billions of dollars that could be generated that way, revenue generated that way. But he has also, John, mentioned some big, big cuts when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, and expenses to hospitals -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes, he's got a lot of money to find over the next few years, no question about that. Suzanne Malveaux, live at the White House this morning. Suzanne, thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, John.

CHETRY: Well, we've been following the latest on the tragic accident that happened at the D.C. Metro when two trains smashed into each other, leaving nine people dead and many more injured. Now, there are new questions and perhaps new answers about what caused it. Our Jeanne Meserve is following the story for us. She has an update in just a moment.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. North Korea flexing some military muscle this morning, threatening a, quote, "fire shower of nuclear retaliation over South Korea." The communist regime responding to a U.S. promise that it would defend the South with nuclear weapons if necessary.

CNN's Barbara Starr is following developments from the Pentagon.

Of course, everybody hopes this is rhetoric and it doesn't get to this point, but some scary words coming out of North Korea.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kiran. You know, there are plenty of real tensions between both countries, but now there is a war of words. And here at the Pentagon yesterday, they fired a salvo back. Have a listen.


STARR: The North Koreans today, they threatened to wipe the United States off the map. Are you not taking that threat seriously?

UNIDENTIFIED PENTAGON OFFICIAL: I don't know how to even respond to such silliness. I don't -- wipe the United States off the map? For what? And with what?

STARR: If the imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all. The official Korean Central News Agency said so.

UNIDENTIFIED PENTAGON OFFICIAL: I don't think I'm going to dignify that one with a response.


STARR: Well, that's the word from the podium, of course, to try and ratchet some of this down, but there are real issues here on the table. North Korea now warning shipping to stay away from its east coast. That is a clear signal, according to the U.S., that North Korea is getting ready to fire a number of missiles, most probably short and medium-range missiles. And of course, the U.S. Navy continues to track that North Korean cargo ship off the southern coast of China.

The belief now is it may be headed for Myanmar, but there's no clear indication of what it is carrying and whether the Navy will take the next step and ask to board the ship.


CHETRY: Yes, but Barbara, I mean, you know, he was brushing that question aside, but you know there are some real concerns. I mean, there's the rhetoric and then there's also a little bit of uncertainty, right, about the intentions, and also how far along North Korea has gotten in terms of any type of nuclear weapons.

STARR: Well, I mean, it couldn't be more serious. You're absolutely right. The big concern is, of course, whether or not they're going to continue with their nuclear weapons program, whether they will conduct now yet another underground nuclear test, whether they're going to fire another long-range missile headed towards Hawaii.

That right now is most likely Secretary Bob Gates' major concern here at the Pentagon. As you recall last week, he said he was deploying some missiles and some radars to the Hawaii region to keep an eye on all of that, and to defend Hawaii if necessary if the North Koreans fire a missile in that direction. So that's really the bottom line. While this war of words continues, underneath the reality is this is getting more serious by the day --Kiran.

CHETRY: Absolutely. All right. Barbara Starr for us this morning at the Pentagon. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Coming up now on 29 minutes after the hour. Checking our top stories this Thursday morning. The crackdown on protesters in Iran intensifies this morning. A Web site affiliated with the country's key opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi says that after meeting with him, 70 university professors have been arrested and detained. There is no word on where the professors are being held.

The White House has taken back invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4th celebrations overseas due to the violent crackdowns against protesters. Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters "July 4th allows us to celebrate freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble peacefully, freedom of the press, and given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended."

ROBERTS: Huge parts of the country in the grips of a heat wave this morning. Houston, in fact, broke an all-time high temperature for the month of June and the mercury is expected to hit 110 or higher in several cities today. In Chicago, forecasts put today's high at 95 degrees.

How did one train end up on top of another? This was the horrific scene after the deadliest train crash in D.C. Metro history on Monday. The exact cause still unknown. But we're learning that part of the cause could be faulty control circuits. And authorities are also asking, are some of the cars just too old to be on the tracks?

Our Jeanne Meserve is following the story now from our Washington newsroom.

And it would appear, Jeanne, a number of factors contributed to this accident.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does. And the investigation still very much underway. Nothing conclusive yet, but certainly some very interesting findings already. One thing to note, all of those who died in the Metro crash were in an older, less crash-worthy type of rail car. And yet, Metro's fleet is younger than those found on a lot of other cities.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MESERVE: Americans ride mass transit, 35 million times every weekday. And the systems they ride are getting older. A recent study says 1/3 of the largest systems operate in marginal or poor conditions with aging assets like rail cars.

VIRGINIA MILLER, AMERICAN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATIN: Public transportations need capital needs came to approximately $60 billion a year. And when you look at federal, state, and local funding for our capital needs, it only comes to $14 billion.

MESERVE: In this week's D.C. Metro crash, all the fatalities were in the first car of the striking train built in the 1970s. In a 2004 crash, the same model car crumpled like an accordion and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority was warned.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We recommended to WAMETA to either retro-fit those cars or to phase them out of the fleet. They have not been able to do that.

MESERVE: Metro has 296 older cars in its fleet. It would cost the financially strapped transit agency about $900 million to replace them and it would take three to five years. But there's another issue.

JIM GRAHAM, METRO CHAIRMNA: The fact of the matter is, there are no standards in place for crashworthiness of transit cars. And this is a great omission.

MESERVE: The NTSB can only make safety recommendations. And even the Federal Transit Administration does not have legal authority to set rules or standards for transit system rail car crashworthiness. An industry group, the American Public Transportation Association has established standards, but they are voluntary and only for new cars.


MESERVE: Investigators don't yet know the speed of the striking train in the Metro crash, but there is speculation that it was going so fast even the most crash worthy car constructed could not have protected the people inside.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Could you logically assume too, Jeanne, that if there's problem with the system in one part of the track they may exist elsewhere?

MESERVE: I don't know if that's the case. They tested a number of different circuits in the crash area, and they found only one circuit that was problematic. So I'm not sure that that's correct that you can assume there are other problems elsewhere. But they're being very cautious here. All of the trains are being run in manual mode for now until they figure out exactly what happened here.

ROBERTS: All right. Jeanne Meserve for us in Washington this morning. Jeanne, thanks so much. MESERVE: You bet.

CHETRY: Well, you may know her as Carmella Soprano or you've gotten hook on her new show on "Showtime," you may know here as nurse Jackie. Coming up next, we're going to be talking to award-winning actress Edie Falco about why she is lending here voice and her passion to the debate on universal health care.



CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Well, you may know her best as Carmella Soprano or maybe as nurse Jackie on her new show on "Showtime." But as the debate over how to overhaul the nation's healthcare system heats up, Edie Falco is lending her voice and her passion to another cause.


EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: Hi, I'm Edie Falco and I support health care for America now. I spent many years without health coverage. I know the feeling of hoping that your symptoms go away before you have to get money together to get to see a doctor. I know that worrying about it makes it even harder to get better.


CHETRY: And joining me now from Washington is Emmy-award winning actress Edie Falco. Edie, thanks for being with us this morning.

FALCO: My pleasure.

CHETRY: I want to get to why you're so passionate about this healthcare debate that's going on right now. But you know, first I want to ask you about this, people may not know but you were diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2003. You were still filming the Sopranos at the time and you kept it to yourself and got through the treatments, got through the chemos and got through filming those episodes. How are you feeling now?

FALCO: Oh, I'm fine. I feel great. Thank you.

CHETRY: And how did your dealing with the medical problem that, you know, could have been terminal affect how you view health care in this country and why you feel passionate that this universal health care plan is the best move going forward?

FALCO: Well, my experience with my health care dilemma actually occurred within a period of time where I'm well taken care of. I'm actually speaking more on behalf of the me that was before all of that and for most Americans or a lot of Americans who don't have adequate health coverage where, you know, a diagnosis like that could be terminal just based on the fact that you can't afford adequate treatment. So that's why I'm here today. CHETRY: Certainly it is quite expensive. We were doing a couple of pieces on people who, you know, were getting these bills and finding themselves in the lurch. You're supporting this legislation for universal health care and you're in Washington today, actually, for a day of action, the health care lobby day. What are you guys doing today to get the word out and to explain why you feel so strongly about this?

FALCO: Well, there's a rally this afternoon. There's lobbying going on around the city, and, you know, anywhere I am asked to speak about this, I am participating. It occurred to me back during President Obama's campaign to speak passionately about something you care about seems to actually have some relevance. It's a whole new concept to me. So I am here to speak on behalf of people who feel passionately, myself included about the health care situation.

CHETRY: You know, it's a huge debate is something that has been very, very difficult to take action on in many administrations and what President Obama has said is the time is now. But it's interesting while people feel strongly about this healthcare debate, it seems to me that there are some mixed feelings about whether or not they like what they have. There was a "Washington Post" poll out, an ABC News poll that found more than eight in 10 people said they were satisfied with the quality of health care that they now receive. Yet, they also acknowledge that there are major problems in the system. How do those two come together?

FALCO: Well, they're happy with the health care that they have, but you're not talking to people who don't have health care. And I think that's right now what we're speaking about. That it seems in a time such as this and a country such as this with the resources, the intelligence, the finances that there are still people who can't afford to take care of themselves is sort of preposterous.

What I'm glad about is that it's not my job to figure out how to make this happen. That, in fact, I'm here just to say that this really is the time that I have really trusted President Obama and his plans and, you know, I'm luckily able to sort of throw this at him and everybody else in the city to say how that's going to happen. But I'm here to say that this really is the time. There's a feeling of change and opportunity for change right now in this year. And I don't think it's necessary for us to wait any longer.

CHETRY: Really quickly, you've been getting critical acclaim for our role as nurse Jackie. For people who haven't seen the "Showtime" series. I just want to play a little clip right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there's a finite amount of pain in the world? Like if I take the thorn out of someone's hand, does that pain have to go somewhere else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's why there's drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: And, of course, your character sometimes is a Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but you're also dealing with your personal demons as your character deals with drug addiction, as well. How is that role going?

FALCO: It's going great. It's going great. I mean, I think it's the story of a woman who basically would be that way regardless of her career choice. But You know, I'm here today in Washington for the real nurses, you know, the ones who really just want to heal people and don't want to spend a lot of time dealing with the bureaucracy. And I think Jackie would be very pleased to know I was here today on her behalf.

CHETRY: Well, it was great talking to you. Good luck today. And -

FALCO: Thank you.

CHETRY: And a lot of people are loving you in this new role, as well. So, congrats on that.

FALCO: Thank you.

CHETRY: Edie Falco, thanks so much.

And by the way, Edie was nice enough to file a blog post for us on So if you would like to check that out today, weigh in on some of her thoughts, we'd love to hear from you as well. 41 minutes past the hour.



ROBERTS: Good morning, Atlanta. Pretty much a repeat today of what happened yesterday. Sunny and 72 degrees right now. Later on today, mostly sunny with a high out there of 91, but you know, with the humidity, it's going to feel a lot hotter than that.

The financial crisis has left a deep impact on Americans and is forcing families across the nation to make some major changes. As part of our "Money & Main Street" series, CNN's Allan Chernoff shows us how one couple got hit and what they're doing to get back on track.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not only where Kevin and Lucy Aikman heavily invested in the stock market last fall, but Kevin's employer, AIG, nearly collapsed. Kevin is in a stable end of the business, home insurance assessments. So the dual crisis rocking his investments and employer was especially jarring.

KEVIN AIKMAN, HIT HARD BY FINANCIAL CRISIS: First thought is fear, what about all of the years I've put in hard work, all the money I've invested, is there going to be anything left at the end of the day? CHERNOFF: For Lucy, the financial crisis has been terrifying.

LUCY AIKMAN, HIT HARD BY FINANCIAL CRISIS: Terrible anxiety, I ended up having to get pills because I couldn't sleep. So much anxiety.

CHERNOFF: Lucy lost her job as a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange two years ago and hasn't worked since. Her grown daughter also lost her job, as did Lucy's sister who worked at Bear Stearns when it collapsed.

LUCY AIKMAN: Everybody's fearful and everybody's falling like soldiers around me.

CHERNOFF: Just a few days before the stock market began collapsing last September, the Aikmans hired a contractor to chop down trees and excavate a pond by their home. Today more than seven months later, it's still a hole in the ground. The project is on hold.

The hole in the ground was like a hole in their pocket. It had cost $10,000. So the Aikmans chopped their spending, they gave up their personal trainer and now exercise on their own. They postponed plans to build a screen porch, don't go out to dinners much and planted a vegetable garden.

LUCY AIKMAN: One of our biggest expenses is food. I mean, it sounds strange, but we eat a lot of fresh produce. And as you know, to eat healthy, it costs money.

CHERNOFF: They've become more conservative investors with the help of financial planners Dough Flynn and Rich Zito, who reduced their exposure to stocks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we've taken it all the way down to about 15 percent stocks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're losing sleep, then you don't have the right portfolio and we need to find the right portfolio for you.

CHERNOFF: To sleep better, the Aikmans bought extra insurance and Kevin is shelving his dreams of retiring in just 10 years when he'll be 55.

KEVIN AIKMAN: The 401(k) just about fell in half. So when that happened, I reassessed and said well, maybe I'm going to need to put a few more years in.

CHERNOFF: The Aikmans realized they can't control the economic environment that affects all of us. But by cutting spending, boosting insurance, and becoming more conservative with investments, the Aikmans feel they're controlling what they can to weather the financial storm while still being positioned to profit as it begins to pass. Allan Chernoff, CNN, Hurley, New York.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, Hurley, New York.


ROBERTS: And be sure to watch for more "Money & Main Street" tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on "Campbell Brown."

CHETRY: All right. Well, we talked about this yesterday and because of breaking news we weren't able to bring it to you. But we're talking about what you should eat to live longer, to prolong your life. You don't listen to this. Because you said you don't want to live any longer -

ROBERTS: Putin. Putin is my secret to longevity.

CHETRY: Which is just basically fancy cheese fries, and they're delicious. But I don't know.

ROBERTS: And they have gravy on top of the cheese fries.

CHETRY: Clogging of the arteries, I don't know.

ROBERTS: You can feel the blood flow slow down.

CHETRY: You need grape leaves, wine, and olive oil. We'll give more details.

ROBERTS: I like the wine part of that.


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

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford just joined the growing list of high-powered politicians, both republican and democrat who are seemingly powerless against temptation. CNN's Carol Costello is live in Washington. And, you know, it was funny when we heard Candy Crowley in the beginning of her piece, as well, saying, you know, the big mystery of where he was turned out to be a cliche.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, watching that press conference, Kiran, when he said, you know, I'd like to apologize to my wife. I said, here we go again and a lot of other people said it too. If for some, though, it was heart wrenching to watch the governor admit to an affair. Others, though, many others were not surprised. S.O.P.F.P., Standard Operating Procedure For a Politician. What else is new?


COSTELLO (voice-over): Maybe America's cynicism about politicians and affairs took permanent root on January 26th, 1998.

BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

COSTELLO: But Clinton was lying and his public humiliation wasn't enough to prevent other politicians from cheating, even though many were appalled. Mark Sanford was a congressman in 1999.

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The issue of lie is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of democratic government, representative government because it undermines trust.

COSTELLO: Fast forward to 2009, that same guy, a governor now telling the country he wasn't really hiking the Appalachian Trail. He was exercising something else in Argentina, and yes, he uttered that old tired line.

SANFORD: Let me first of all apologize to my wife, Jenny.

ELIOT SPITZER, FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR: I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially my wife. I'm truly sorry.


COSTELLO: The log cabin republicans who long fought politicians anti-gay marriage stance say, "and you think gays are destroying the sanctity of marriage?"

CHARLES MORAN, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: I find it hard to talk, to hear it's hard for me to hear as a gay man, you're, you know, the relationship that you might want to engage in with another man that you love is going to be less equal or not as valid as the love between - I have with my wife. And then when he sees and goes sees what he does with his wife.

COSTELLO: Others are tired of the hypocrisy too. And cynicism aside, they're angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are they having affairs and aren't they supposed to be working?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has to be stopped. You're sending out a message to the youth of America that it's okay to have an affair.

COSTELLO: William Donahue of the Catholic League put it this way -

WILLIAM DONAHUE, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: If we're proponents of traditional values, we don't expect you to be perfect, but if you're carrying on an affair for how long? Month after month after month and then you disappear. I mean, this is borne of arrogance and it's borne of narcissism and people like me are fed up and I hope you show him the gate.


COSTELLO: Sanford is resigning his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Association but there is no sign that he'll step down as governor. And yes, Kiran, he is working to repair his marriage. His wife sending out a statement that in part reads, I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and welcome him back in time if he continues to work towards reconciliation and a true spirit of humility and repentances. A lot of people we talked with yesterday, Kiran, said they were just glad that he didn't drag his wife with this one as so many other politicians have.

CHETRY: I was just about to say that, you know, I mean, yes. It's all I've got to say.

COSTELLO: I know, it just leaves you speechless because, I don't know, shouldn't we expect more from our politicians? That's what many people were saying last night.

CHETRY: Yes, that's right and especially, you know, the kids. You worry about them too. All right. Carol Costello for us this morning, thanks so much.

ROBERTS: You know, based on the letter that his wife put out yesterday, it didn't seem like there was no way, no how she would've ever been there even if asked. So another tragedy.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, though, they eat healthy. They eat healthy.

ROBERTS: There's a segue.


ROBERTS: You know, we talk a lot about diets and what diet can make you live longer. Well there are certain diets that can make you live longer apparently, there's some scientific proof of that. But is it the entire diet or is it components within? Our Elizabeth Cohen breaks it all down for you, coming up next. 55 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: You play baseball on that little field, right? Softball?

ROBERTS: Yes. Beautiful view of Central Park this morning. And this is - actually those are the northern ball fields, we play at the fields, right, which are further south.

CHETRY: That's right.


CHETRY: It's easier to lug the keg to that one than this one so far away from.

ROBERTS: (inaudible) wagon. Partly cloudy today, a high of 80 degrees, here's the great thing about New York today, the word rain not in the forecast, isn't that a marvelous thing? Well, you might know that a Mediterranean diet is good for you. Fruits, vegetables, olive oil. There's evidence that it could help you live longer. But is it the entire diet or certain foods within it? And could we just eat those certain foods and get a few more years of life or adding life to years, as well?

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. She's at the CNN Center in Atlanta. So what is it, Elizabeth, about these diets that might help us to live longer?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greek researchers were wondering that, John. So they looked, as you said, at what components of the Mediterranean diet seemed to make people live longer. Is it the fish, is it the olive oil, is it the wine?

Let's take a look at what they found. What they found is that folks lived longer when they had a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and olive oil when they had moderate intake of alcohol and low intake of red meat. Those were the three most important things for living longer. So we can all take that advice, olive oil, wine, fruits and vegetables, how can you go wrong?

ROBERTS: Yes. So what about the fish department. Because fish is a big part of the Mediterranean diet.

COHEN: You know, it's interesting I didn't expect fish to be on that list and actually it wasn't. Now that doesn't mean that fish is bad. Let's just say according to this study, it doesn't seem to be specifically what's making you live longer. But, fish is definitely good for your heart, high in omega 3 fatty acids, tuna, salmon, trout in particular as well as others seem to be the fish that are best.

ROBERTS: Now they talk about low consumption of alcohol. There are other studies that have shown that a certain intake of red wine because that component in red wine, resveratrol can be good for you. So did they say how much alcohol is good, you know, in excess how much would be bad for you?

COHEN: You know, it's interesting, John, overall they found that alcohol in general is good. Moderate intake of alcohol in general. It doesn't necessarily have to be red wine. But when we talk about moderate intake, what do we mean with moderate is different for some people than for others. What we mean is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. So that's not that much. So more than that and you're actually hurting yourself.

ROBERTS: All right. Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning from Atlanta. Some good tips this morning on how to live a little bit longer. Thanks very much, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

CHETRY: Yes but there's always a catch.

ROBERTS: There's always that catch, isn't there? You know, there's this one company that's trying to concentrate this resveratrol into a pill. And they're obviously on to something because it was just this little start up company that got sold to Glaxo-Smith Kline for three quarters of a $1 billion. So, they might be on the right track.

CHETRY: Yes. But can you replicate it in a pill? I mean, you know, you can't replicate vegetables -

ROBERTS: Indications are, so they might be on the right track.

CHETRY: Yes, but can you replicated in a pill. I mean, you know, you can't replicate vegetables.

ROBERTS: Indications that they may be able to.


ROBERTS: Synthetic compounds, they work the same way.

CHETRY: I have a buddy who takes that, by the way the resveratrol to stay young. She looks like she's 12, you know, it's working. Anyway, thanks so much for being with us this morning. To continue the conversation on today's stories on our blog at

ROBERTS: What she didn't tell people was she's actually 10.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Right now, here's CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.