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Health Care Reform Debate Continues through Congressional Recess; Gym Gunman Motivated by Relationships with Women; Is Former President Clinton Overshadowing His Wife?; U.S. Journalists Back Home; The Two Pauls: Son Following Congressman's Footsteps

Aired August 6, 2009 - 07:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: It is 7:00 right at the top of the hour, and it is Thursday morning right here in New York and around the world.


JOHNS: I'm Joe Johns in for John Roberts.

CHETRY: That's right. And I'm Kiran Chetry.

We have a lot going on this morning. We're going to break down some of the big stories for you in the next 15 minutes.

One of the big things we're talking about today, the president approaching 200 days in office. And we bring you numbers just out showing how Americans think he's doing. There's a new CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll showing his job approval rating now at 56 percent. That's actually down seven points since the 100-day mark in late April.

JOHNS: Plus, a killer's online diary hinting at his hatred for women who wouldn't give him the time of day before he walked into an aerobics class with four loaded guns. New chilling details about the June massacre and the man behind it.

CHETRY: Is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being overshadowed by her husband, Bill? I feel like we've asked we asked this question before. But, of course, everybody saw the high-profile arrival after he helped with the rescue of those two journalists who were in North Korea for months.

She, of course, is America's top diplomat and has a key place in Obama administration. So our Carol Costello is going to be breaking it down for us live from Washington.

First, though, this is a special edition of "American Morning." We are taking an in depth look today at the Obama administration as he approaches 200 days in office. It's all part of our CNN national report card.

And there's some brand new CNN Opinion Research Corporation polls out this morning. One of them -- how do you think the president is handling his job? 56 percent approve, 40 percent disapprove, and that's down seven points in the last 100 days. And each hour this morning we're breaking down some of the key issues that the White House is trying to tackle. Last hour we talked about the economy. We'll still be touching on that. At 8:00 we'll talk about foreign policy. In this hour, we're talking about health care and health care reform.

Over the next 60 minutes, we'll also staying on top of the day's headlines.

First, though, August shaping up to be a make or break month for the president's health care reform measures. And the best political team on television is with us, including our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. We also have with us our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

And we're breaking down the nuts and bolts of all of this. One of the things a lot of people are curious about is as we look at the dip in approval ratings, how much of it is tied to the big debate about what's going on with health care.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And health care is so personal. Everybody has a story. They know somebody affected by the debate. And so people are emotional and passionate about this.

One of the things that we're seeing here is in terms of health care. What is the plan? Nobody really understands what the plan is. There are some general principles about slowing down health care costs, insuring as many Americans as possible.

Four out of the five committees or so have something in the mix. The Senate is still working on something, crafting something. It's been delayed.

This is intentional by the president. He wants to put it in the hands to Congress to come up with the details.

Another question is universal health care. How many people are going to be insured? And the third issue is who's going to pay for this? And that's been the huge debate. That has been the big thing that the White House has been really struggling here with members of Congress, how do we pay for this mammoth $1 trillion ten-year deal that they're trying to overhaul the system.

As Candy knows, there's a pledge that the president made, $250,000 that you make, no new taxes. How is he going to fulfill that campaign pledge, that pledge that he's made as president? How are they going to raise the money? And that's one of the issues that they're looking at.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think part of the problem here is that you can't really tax the rich forever. I mean, at some point, you're going to get past a level where you can do it. So there is a place where you're going to have go and look for money, and everybody understands that. And there's sort of a larger problem with health care, and that is poll after poll shows the vast majority of Americans think it's not going to help them.

So the president has got to get out there and say yes, it will help you. And here's how. He's trying that. We've seen that in the last couple of trips he's made.

JOHNS: The other question, I guess is about miscalculations. Did he bite off more than he could chew by trying to go after this and everything else right out of the blocks?

And then what about going to Congress as opposed to trying to give them a plan and say work around these parameters?

CROWLEY: I think on the first, that he had no choice but to go. It's such a big issue. You have to do it when you're at the peak of your popularity. And honestly, it's only down from here for any president. You can't stay, as we see, at 60 plus percent approval ratings.

So if you're going to go big, you have got to go soon. And I think that's certainly what he's done.

As far as how he's dealt with Congress, you'd think this was sort of tried and true. It does happen to be, as Suzanne mentioned, his style. Well, here are my broad parameters, you guys go ahead and do your thing.

I have seen other presidents doing this, because then what do you get, you say, hey, this is exactly what I wanted. And so, it's not looking like a defeat no matter what it is.

And I still think regardless of all we're seeing and what's going on in the polls that at the end of the day, at the end of the year, this president will have something that says health care reform on it. He will claim it as his, sign it, and move on to the next thing.

CHETRY: And that's the other question. This was interesting. He seemed to indicate on another program that perhaps bipartisanship could go out the window if it meant trying to get something fast. He said he'd like Republicans onboard, but if not, it's going to happen anyway.

How does that affect President Obama given that, you know, he was seen as post-partisan during the running, and that's made him so attractive to so many.

MALVEAUX: It creates a problem for him, because it's not an accident, actually, that he has actually invited three Republicans, three Democrats of the Senate Finance Committee to the White House this morning to talk about this very issue, because he really does want to make this bipartisan.

But if it's not, it's OK. If he gets something past, that's the main goal. He wants to be seen as the person who's the unifier. One thing that is happening on the road, however, I should mention, and Candy has seen this too, these town hall meetings that are exploding, erupting, people who are very passionate, very emotional about this, one DNC ad calling it this mob mentality.

They spoke with the chair of the RNC, Michael Steele, yesterday, and he said this is the height of arrogance. This is dissent. People should go out there. They're passionate about this. They should make their views known.

This is something that the White House has to control a little bit. They have to understand that this is an emotional issue and they have got to get that message out that it's not about a debate over, you know, numbers and Congress and process, but understand what people are going through.

And it's not surprising Michael Steele gave the president a grade of D-plus, D-minus.

JOHNS: I figured he would have given him an A.


Great. All right, thank you so much, Suzanne and Candy. And we'll talk back to you.

And how do you think the president is doing on health care? What about the economy? You can grade your leaders. Just cast your vote at card. Then get the results with the best political team on television. It's CNN's national report card tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

CHETRY: It's seven minutes past the hour now, and there's some disturbing new details this morning about the man behind that fitness club shooting massacre.

Police say that George Sodini brought four handguns into an L.A. Fitness outside of Pittsburgh, used three of them, firing at least 36 rounds, killing three women he did not know.

According to the online diary, that was his plan, apparently revenge for not being able to get a date for decades. CNN's Susan Candiotti is in a town where the ticking time bomb was sounding alarms, and unfortunately, as we see more often in not in these cases, alarms no one heard.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, it's so sad. And in fact the police are now saying that the gunman went in and out of the gym at least twice on Tuesday and then made a mystery call to someone before pulling the trigger on his final try.


CANDIOTTI: George Sodini, 48. The guy with the bright smile had a good job but couldn't get a girlfriend. It was one of the things that seemed to push him over the edge. PROFESSOR JAMES ALAN FOX, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Clearly he was full of blame. He blamed everybody for his problems.

CANDIOTTI: In an Internet blog that appears to have started last November, Sodini rails against his mother, his family, and women for making him miserable.

An entry dated last December reads, "No girlfriend since 1984. Who knows why? I'm not ugly or too weird."

Sodini was a computer specialist for a Pittsburgh law firm. At home, he kept to himself.

BILL PATTERSON, NEIGHBOR: He came, went to work, came back, and hardly ever seen him around, very quiet.

CANDIOTTI: Inside, he appears to be seething. In his blog, he singles out a preacher in a church he used to attend. "This guy teaches and convinced me you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven." He joins the gym, ogles the women.

FOX: All these young, beautiful, attractive, healthy, fit women at the health club. And so he specifically chose the health club, not just a random spot, to go after the people he blamed.

CANDIOTTI: He devises what he called his "exit plan" but backs out last January. "I chickened out. I brought the loaded guns, everything. Hell!"

Over the next several months, Sodini's rants continue about women and the gym. At home, police say he circles the gym's aerobics class on a schedule.

CHARLES MOFFATT, ALLEGHENY COUNTY POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: He just had a lot of hatred in him, and he was hell-bent on committing this act. And there was nobody going to stop him.

CANDIOTTI: Tuesday, he goes to the gym twice, makes a phone call, and returns a final time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a mad man.

CANDIOTTI: Thirty-six rounds, three women dead, and a shot to his head.


CANDIOTTI: And as you look at the flowers left behind by family, friends, and strangers, there is obviously a huge sense of loss and a statement issue bid the gunman's family offering prayers for victims and survivors - Kiran.

CHETRY: Susan Candiotti for us outside of Pittsburgh this morning. Thanks.

Also new this morning, her husband made big news yesterday for the work rescuing two American journalists. Now it's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's turn.

She is saying the U.S. is committed to Africa's future during a town hall meeting at the University of Nairobi this morning.

And a quick programming note -- CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria sits down for a one-on-one with Secretary Clinton from Nairobi and will air this weekend.

JOHNS: Cash for clunkers getting a refill. The popular rebate plan that was such a hit that ran out of money gets a jump start from the Senate today.

They agreed to vote for an additional $2 billion to keep funding in the plan until Labor Day. That's good news for new car customers who want to trade in their gas guzzlers.

A little later, Christine Romans will tell you which clunker models are getting trade in the most.

CHETRY: And how about the very best college in the country according to "Forbes" magazine? It is not Harvard this year, it's not Princeton, it's not Yale, it is West Point. There you go. The U.S. military academy beat out the ivy leagues for the quality education and also the amount of debt students graduate with.

Tuition, by the way, of course, is fully funded by the Army in exchange for service after graduation. So congrats, a big salute to west point.

JOHNS: Sign up? You'll get something good out of it.

CHETRY: It's also a beautiful campus at West Point.

JOHNS: Yes, it is, for sure.

Which NFL quarterback named Manning is now highest player in football. If you said Peyton, you lost.

CHETRY: It's his little brother now upstaging big brother. Former super bowl MVP Eli Manning has reportedly agreed -- are you sitting down? -- to a six-year, $97 million contract extension. That is an average salary of $15.3 million a year.

JOHNS: Is that all?

Eli led the Giants to one of the biggest upsets in super bowl history over the undefeated New England patriots in 2008.

CHETRY: Our producer Ed is still crying about that one. A big Patriots fan.

JOHNS: Oh well.

CHETRY: Oh well.

(LAUGHTER) I think something like $30 million of that is guaranteed, because it's football so --

JOHNS: It's amazing.

CHETRY: He's doing great.

JOHNS: That's right up there with what you make.

CHETRY: Yes, OK. Knock off several zeros.

But I have to tell you, talk about the pressure. He's got to get out there and make it happen.

JOHNS: Yes. Or else.

CHETRY: $97 million, all right.

Meanwhile, we love Congressman Ron Paul. He's a great friend to the show. He comes on and gives a very fresh perspective about the things that are happening in the world. Well, guess what? His son is now throwing his hat in the ring. He's a doctor but he wants to be senator as well. We're going to talk to Rand Paul as welcoming up.


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

As President Obama gets set for the 200th day on the job, here at CNN we're doing a presidential performance review with the best political team on television.

We're also asking you to grade the president's performance on his top priorities, like health care.

Joining us from Washington now, Dr. Christina Johns, an E.R. specialist at Children's National Medical Center, and Dr. Bernadine Healy, former president of American Red Cross and health editor for "U.S. News & World Report."

I'd like to start out, I think, with a poll. There's a CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll from July 31 to August 3. And the question is major changes to make sure all Americans have health insurance.

There you go, you can see the numbers right there -- 77 percent say it's not necessary, 21 percent say it is necessary.

We have another one we want to show you as well, a CNN Opinion Corporation poll, says how many people are satisfied with your health insurance -- 74 percent say yes, 23 percent say no.

So, those are the front lines in politics right now. If you look across the country, they are a lot of people who say they are satisfied. So I guess the question really is whether the president made the case for universal coverage. I'll ask you first, Dr. Johns? DR. CHRISTINA JOHNS, E.R. SPECIALIST, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: I think if we're going to have a health care system, everybody's got to be in it.

What I see as a practicing physician out there in the front lines every day are people who are waiting way too long to seek health care because they're worried about how much they're going to have to spend out of pocket, or they don't have health insurance.

And that is a big problem. People are showing up sicker, they are using more resources. And it's not sustainable. We've got to make sure that people are adequately -- not just covered, but adequately covered.

But it doesn't even stop there. We've got to make sure that once they're adequately covered that they have the right access to care so that we are ensuring that people are getting the right care at the right time and the right place by the right person.

J. JOHNS: Now, Dr. Healy, I talked to you before in Washington many times. And you know Washington very well. The president has left so much of this up to the Congress, really didn't even give them a whole lot of parameters, just sort of tell them, OK, this is what I'm thinking.

Do you think that's the way to go? Do you think Congress can get it done given the fact that Congress can get sort of chaotic?

DR. BERNADINE HEALY, FORMER PRESIDENT, RED CROSS: I think the president's team has been very much involved meeting with Congress, meeting in the behind doors sessions. So I think he may not be speaking the details, but he certainly knows them and is very much behind them.

But I think the important issue, speaking to your polls, is that insurance is the problem. There is complete unanimity in that we have a problem with insurance.

And do you know something? There is a secret that nobody is talking about. And that is the biggest wind falls to insurance companies will be the current health reform bill. They will be delivering up $1 trillion to $2 trillion over ten years to insurance companies.

So all that money we talk about coming out of Medicare, coming out of tax dollars, surcharges, whatever, they're going to go to insurance companies. They love this bill.

J. JOHNS: When we talk about money, we also have to talk about the deficit. And the deficit certainly could be huge, as high as $1.8 trillion this year. Let's listen to what the president said just yesterday.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If it's deficit neutral, if it's instituting the kinds of reforms that will improve quality and reduce costs, then that's what I want.


J. JOHNS: Now, come on, can he do that, I guess, is the question, Dr. Johns? And if you want to jump in as well, Dr. Healy?

C. JOHNS: You know, I think that we've got to take a step back and look at this, in not just in the kind of PNL (ph) statement, but the balance sheet.

We need to look at the long-term investment in making our American people well and more healthy, getting less sick. That's really how we need to think about this going forward.

I think that there are -- are there real time short term costs that can be painful that everybody may have to give a little bit? You bet. But as a practicing physician, thinking about my career and what's going to be best for my patients, for me and my practice, I think that it's something that we've got to move towards.

HEALY: All right, so, just hold on. Let's get across this break, and then I'm going to ask each of you to give me your grade for the president for the second 100 days, after this.


J. JOHNS: Back on "American Morning" with the president's second 100 days -- 200 days in office for Mr. Obama.

Dr. Christina Johns and Dr. Bernadine Healy, I just want to ask you for a grade. Starting with you, Dr. Healy, what do you think this president has done? If you could tell us where you think he stands as far as grades go.

HEALY: I think he gets an A for effort, absolutely. But I think in terms of providing the American public with solid information, with details with what he and the Congress are wanting to accomplish and what their lives will look like after this particular -- this particular reform package.

We need reform, but this particular reform package will mean to them, I think there's been obfuscation. So, I would have to give him a C. That averages out to a B, but I have always been known as an easy grader.

J. JOHNS: You're also the former educator at the Ohio State University...

HEALY: And Johns Hopkins and Ohio State. So I've graded a lot. And I've taken care of a lot of patients, too.

J. JOHNS: You bet. Christina Johns, what do you think? Is it a grade?

C. JOHNS: Grading on a curve? That changes up the playing field a little bit. It's hard for me to make this assignment an A, B, C, D, or E. I think that either we all pass or we all fail.

But I agree with Dr. Healy. I think that if you have to break it down, certainly an A for effort. I think the commitment to what those principles are, this is a hard job. Tackling it early is smart, and I think we all know where -- where the president stands.

In terms of the execution and how this is going, it's such a wide spectrum of opinion, such a hot topic for everybody with polarizing opinions and views. I think that an average score of -- I don't know if he could do any better, certainly could be doing worse -- about average.

JOHNS: All right, thank you so much for coming in.

And we'll have the second 100 days of the Obama administration. How they've been doing. Have they been days of change or days of frustration? Let your voice be heard. Cast your vote at card. Then get the results from CNN's national report card tonight at 8:00 eastern.

CHETRY: You knew it was just a matter of time before they started asking this question after, of course, the big high-profile rescue that took place of the two journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, all at the hands of our former president. Now people are asking, is he upstaging the wife, the current secretary of state?

J. JOHNS: You have to have the Clinton drama if you have the Clintons. It's that way.


CHETRY: Carol Costello joining us live after the break.

It's 24 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 28 minutes past the hour right now.

A look at the top stories. Police are looking for a suspicious woman in the case of missing British girl Madeline McCann. A witness told police he talked to a, quote, "Victoria Beckham" lookalike, and the witness says the woman revealed new clues.

A family spokesperson says the woman was seen in Barcelona, Spain within three days of the little girl's disappearance. Madeline McCann has been missing since May 3, 2007.

J. JOHNS: The Pentagon is keeping his eye on two Russian subs in international waters off of our east coast. But a spokesman adds it "doesn't cause any alarm within this building." The Russian military says it's just business as usual. CHETRY: Also, the FBI found $90,000 in his freezer four years ago. Now a lawyer for Congressman William Jefferson said the Louisiana Democrat will appeal a bribery conviction against him.

A D.C. jury found him guilty of taking $400,000 in bribes, and also trying to get millions from shady business deals in Africa.

A prosecutor says that the former congressman could face more than 20 years in prison.

J. JOHNS: It took a former president to bring journalist Laura Ling and Euna Lee back home from North Korea, and that has some in the political world asking is Bill Clinton overshadowing his wife, the secretary of state?

CHETRY: Our Carol Costello is tracking some reaction from our Washington bureau this morning. And I was thinking yesterday as we were watching all that unfold, it's just a matter of time before they start, you know, criticizing and questioning what's going on with the Clintons.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know, it didn't take long, did it? The story with an incredibly happy ending has in part become another chapter in the continuing Clinton soap opera.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It was a Kodak moment -- the best kind. And the man who made it possible...

LAURA LING, FREED JOURNALIST: When we walked and through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.


COSTELLO: A rescuing angel who sat for the other Kodak moment with a man some call the devil and brought two Americans home safely.

Not only that, but some are saying Mr. Clinton's visit may also pave the way to a nuclear-free North Korea.

It wasn't long before the Hillary question came up.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now, where is Hillary? The real secretary of state is in Kenya. Why go to Kenya unless you've been ordered to go over there and kiss Obama's grandfather's grave. Is North Korea too important to send the girl?

COSTELLO: Hillary Clinton, America's secretary of state, is in Africa on a diplomacy mission -- important, yes. But as "The New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd writes, Mr. Clinton's mission trumps hers. "Just as Hillary muscled her way back in to the spotlight, she was blown off the radar screen again by an even more powerful envoy: the one she lives with."

The overshadowing question comes after concerns just last month that President Obama was overshadowing Secretary Clinton by meeting with world leaders himself and by sending Vice President Joe Biden to Iraq. Clinton supporters say that wasn't true, and the latest overshadowing charge isn't either.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER CLINTON DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think Bill Clinton would overshadow Secretary Clinton. In fact, if that were to be the case, I'm sure he would have not done it.

COSTELLO: William Cohen, President Clinton's defense secretary, says Mr. Clinton not only worked closely with President Obama to free the journalists, but he worked with his wife, the Secretary of State too. And besides, many analysts say this was the kind of mission more suited to former presidents.

LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The North Koreans wanted a high level envoy and it was clear that it couldn't be somebody currently in government. So, you know, there were only several people imaginable. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, and the North Koreans got the top banana, which is what they wanted.

COSTELLO: And it worked. For Laura Ling and Euna Lee, that's all that matters.


COSTELLO: Of course, many are wondering, Joe, if President Obama will use President Clinton more in this sort of role. Larry Sabato says yes, but rarely because it degrades the asset, so to speak. And yes, it also raises questions about who's actually running the State Department, something both President Obama and Secretary Clinton surely want to avoid.

JOHNS: That's for sure. Thanks so much there, Carol Costello, this morning.

So, one father no longer has to tell his little girl, Mommy is away on a business trip. Seems like a priceless thing. But some of our "AM Fix" callers wanted to know who put up the cash for this rescue mission.


CALLER: They obviously were trying to get a scoop on the story and crossed the line knowing - I mean, they're from there - they know what they were doing. And why is their family paying for this bill? Is it a tax bill? What is the exact cost? And, who is paying for that?


JOHNS: Actually, it wasn't the family paying the bill. Steven Bing, owner of ABJET, the jet company President Clinton used to pick up the tab which was, by the way, about $200,000 - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thirty-two minutes past the hour. You may have heard the phrase, like father, like son, but for Congressman Ron Paul, the expression is ringing more true. Not only is his third child, Rand, a physician. But yesterday he announced that he was running for the Republican Senate seat in Kentucky. So, why is son following Dad in to the political arena? Dr. Rand Paul joins me now on set.

In just a moment, we're actually going to be talking to your dad, Ron Paul, a congressman from Clute, Texas. But first, let's talk to you. Welcome. Thanks for being on the show.


CHETRY: We've had your dad here a lot. You've been a doctor for years. I know, you've been actively involved and actually founded a tax fairness organization in Kentucky.


CHETRY: Why throw your hat in the ring though for the U.S. Senate?

RAND PAUL: I'm very worried about our country. I'm worried about the debt. I'm worried about what the debt will lead to. I think it will lead to rampant inflation and higher prices. And I think we cannot borrow our way into prosperity. I think there are serious times ahead for our country. We have recession now, high unemployment now. What's going to happen when we have high unemployment and the stores - the prices in the store begin to rise. You can't just run a deficit at this level.

It's an historic deficit and it's getting worse. And I think the career politicians on both sides of the issue - both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, have been unwilling and are afraid to address the deficit and someone's got to.

CHETRY: That's interesting that you say that because your dad's been in Congress for years and years. You could say even though he marches to the beat of his own drum that he's a career politician. I mean, can you do more good in private sphere than you can in public life at times?

RAND PAUL: Well, I think the thing is that he was also a physician for 20 years, like myself. And I think you need people outside of government. If your primary goal is to continue your career, you tend to do things that are good for you, but not necessarily good for the country. And, for example, the way our system works around the country is that people bring back spending projects. And it seems to be free.

For example, with the stimulus project, my little town they brought $1 million to, Republicans and Democrats clapped their hands and said we have $1 million but no one asked the hard question - where did that $1 million come from? Did we have to borrow it from China, or Japan, or foreign countries? Is that good for our country to go further and further in debt to build a new ballpark or a parking garage.

You know, we have to understand where is the money coming from. But debt leads to inflation. They print the money to pay for the debt. You ultimately will pay for it through higher prices. Who pays the higher prices? The working class. And those on fixed income. In a year, if you're paying $8 for your milk, will you be happy that you got $1 million for your town?

CHETRY: But how do you explain that, you know, when you go out there and you said you've sort of hit the diners and talked to people ---


CHETRY: And sort of let them know how you feel. You think that the stimulus is a really bad idea. You think that the bank bailout also was a mistake.


CHETRY: Many in the Republican Party who felt, at least, for the bailout that it was necessary and voted for it.

RAND PAUL: Right. I tell people that you look at problems for our economy the same way you look at them personally. I have a lot of older patients who have grandkids, they come in to me and say, would you borrow money to buy a gift for your grandkids? No, you pay for gifts out of your savings but you don't borrow money to give people cash for clunkers. You know, I don't know how you get rich as a country by borrowing money and giving it to people and say go to the mall and spend it and somehow we're supposed to be richer as a country.

CHETRY: Well, let's bring in your dad. You sound a lot like one of our favorite guests, Congressman Ron Paul. What did you think when your son told you, hey, I think I'm going to try to join you, dad, in Congress?

REP. RON PAUL, (R), TEXAS, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I wasn't too surprised. He's been interested in politics for a long time. And he's had his own tax groups. So I think the family sort of expected that he would be the first one to get to politics like this. It wasn't too much of a surprise but I was very pleased.

CHETRY: One of the things that we talked about is that people who want to do more for themselves. They want to continue to get elected. What are some of the lessons you want to explain to him you have all of these ideas, and you think they make sense and then you butt up against, you know, the bureaucracy in Washington and oftentimes as you've seen yourself, things that you fight for don't necessarily get accomplished.

RON PAUL: Well, I think the most important thing that I try to convey to myself, and others, and to the kids is that don't go with conventional wisdom. If you go with conventional wisdom and the usual advisors, they're about 10 or 15 years behind the people. And I think that's what you're sensing with these town hall meetings. The people are way ahead - I think the people are way ahead of us in Washington on the drug war and on foreign policy and certainly, they're expressing themselves on the spending and the medical care. So it's, you know, marching to your own tune because, and listening to the people. I think that is where you can go wrong. You can't go wrong.

People, though, in a politician, they want to trust you. They want to like you and they want to trust you. But it's up to the politician who's running to stand for something and that's what energizes your base, your supporters, and raising your money. But I think too many politicians don't have a whole lot they really stand for and really believe in. I think that's what has been what's energized our base.

CHETRY: And Rand, I want to ask you about that. I mean, you're a doctor. What do you hear from the front lines, meaning people about whether or not health care reform is a good idea.

RAND PAUL: I think they're afraid of losing their choices. You know, they titled the act "The Free Choice Health Care Act." But I think the more benign-sounding the title, maybe the more ominous the contents within the health care bill. It actually is going to limit your choices. You won't be able to buy government-approved insurance, pages 16 through 19. And I think that worries people. People also see the reports like from England where there's a breast cancer drug called Herceptin that blocks the estrogen receptors. It's not available in England because it's too expensive.

I'm in the business of eye surgery and eye disease. One of the common diseases in the eye is abnormal blood vessels that grow in the back of the eye called macular degeneration.

CHETRY: Right.

RAND PAUL: We inject a drug called Avastin. In England, you had to prove you are blind in one eye before they might let you use it in the second eye. Americans are going to be very fearful of losing their choices. We have problems in health care, but the main problem I see is expense, not access. So, when you add a lot of new people to it, you're going to add expense that you haven't really changed things.

CHETRY: Congressman Paul, I want to ask you and then I want to ask you son, the overall grade as we head into 200 days of this administration, we're asking all of our guests to give a grade. You guys weighed in. Congressman Paul, how do you think this administration has done overall?

RON PAUL: Well, not very well. I'd probably give them a D. He deserves an F, but I give him a D to make one point is that he's not responsible for this mess. This has been going on for a long time. The last administration has a lot to do with this. The Congress has a lot to do with it. But what he's failing is the system. This idea that the government is an economic planner, that inflationism is good, that planned economy is worthwhile, this foreign policy is a good idea. That's what's wrong. Nobody in the presidency could manage the country. And so the task is impossible.

So I would say he's failing but he doesn't deserve all of the blame. And I think we have to look at what our country is up to, what we believe in and whether the constitution is worth following and whether free markets is what we need. We need the government out of the way. We don't need a better manager. So for that reason, I give them a D. But I think the system is still failing.

CHETRY: All right. Let's hear from your son. You weren't as generous as your dad?

RAND PAUL: I would say an F. The main reason is I run for office because I think the debt is out of control. I was unhappy when the Republicans were running $500 billion deficits in the year. And now we've tripled that in one year. I mean, this is a historic deficit. 13 percent of gross national product. Spending is at 28 percent of gross national product. Things are out of control. But there will be repercussions. You cannot borrow and borrow and borrow and print money to pay for this without repercussions and the repercussions will be higher prices in the grocery store.

CHETRY: All right. Well, I want to thank you for coming on. And it was great talking to you. Congressman Ron Paul, great having you as well. I know you're proud of your son. You'll probably be doing a little bit of campaigning for him as well as you try to take this Senate seat in Kentucky. Thanks for being with us this morning.

RAND PAUL: Thank you, Kiran.


JOHNS: Thanks, Kiran. Coming up, we're going to talk about the Cash for Clunkers program. Christine Romans will be here "Minding your Business." And we're going to look at the cars that are being traded in as well as the cars people are picking up. There may be some surprises in this story. "Minding your Business," next.



CHETRY: A new day. Looks like a little bit of hazy or misty day there in Minneapolis, right?

JOHNS: The land of the lakes.

CHETRY: I tell you, it's clear right now. Maybe it's just - maybe just a little fog on the camera though.

JOHNS: Sure looks like the Emerald City in the weird sort of way.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Everything good about the New York City without the bad stuff right there in Minnesota.

CHETRY: Yes, except it's freezing. Well, not today, sunny and 80 degrees. There you go.

JOHNS: Not bad.

CHETRY: Find a winter home and you'll have a blast. Christine Romans join us right now.

JOHNS: Cash for clunkers. More about this.

ROMANS: OK. These are the cars you're trading in, folks. Because the National Transportation Safety Board is telling us you're turning in, the Ford Explorer four-wheel drive, the Ford F-150 pickup. These are just your clunkers, folk. Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Cherokee, the Dodge Caravan and the Grand Caravan two-wheel drive. That's what you're turning in.


ROMANS: SUVs. This is what you're buying. This is what you're turning your old clunker in for using up to $4,500 to buy. Little small fuel-efficient cars. The Toyota Corolla, the Ford Focus. Say that ten times fast. You'll get in trouble on TV. The Honda Civic, the Toyota Prius and the Toyota Camry.

Do you see a trend?

JOHNS Yes, definitely.

ROMANS: Yes, we are. Clunking in the big American-made trucks and SUVs and buying a little foreign-made cars.

JOHNS: Tired of paying all that money for gas. That's what's happening.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely.

CHETRY: Are some of the manufacturers here in the United States anyway or parts of them manufactured?

ROMANS: And that brings me to the Romans numeral this morning which is 45 percent.

CHETRY: We have a guess from one of our viewers.

ROMANS: We do.

CHETRY: Yes, the guess was - you said that the "Romans' Numeral" is 45 percent. Frank from Santa Clara said, is that how much the percentage of the American dollar going to pay for social programs?

ROMANS: I get a lot of that on the Facebook page. No, the answer is this. Forty-five percent of your Cash for Clunkers money, the Cash for Clunkers are going to American-made cars. The rest are foreign cars. That's what you're buying. So, 45 percent of American- made cars, the Big Three, the rest are foreign cars. But you asked a very good point. Of those foreign cars, half of them - about half of them are manufactured in the United States. So a lot of people have been asking - wait, where's our taxpayer money going to. Are we just using cash for clunkers stimulus money to, you know, put money in the pockets of foreign auto makers. Yes, but some of those cars are made here.

JOHNS: Foreign-made car made in the United States.

ROMANS: There's no such thing as an American car though, right?

CHETRY: Effectively this program is doing what it's supposed to do, right? Encourage people to buy and take nonfuel-efficient cars off the road, hopefully being replaced with fuel-efficient cars. So whether you're for the program or against it, whatever it's supposed to do, it's doing.

ROMANS: And 45 percent is really the normal ratio of what you're spending on American versus - Big Three versus foreign automakers anyway. Yes, so, that's exactly right.

JOHNS: Thanks.

ROMANS: Cool. Bye, guys.

CHETRY: Christine, good to see you as always. Forty-seven minutes past the hour right now.

Here's a look at what's coming up in the next 15 minutes. A check of the "A.M Rundown." It is your turn to grade the president who's getting set to mark the 200th day in office. And we want you to weigh in on how you think he's performed so far. Varying issues. Of course, there's health care, there's foreign affairs, there's also a big question about how you think the economy is going. So we're going to show you step by step of how to do it on CNN's magic wall. Yes, it is here.

We saw the heartwrenching homecoming yesterday of two American journalists rescued from North Korea after four months in captivity. What's next for the two women and how do they readjust after a trauma like that, getting back to normal. What expert say about the emotional roller coaster they're facing and their families are facing right now.

Also, the next round of our special coverage of President Obama's milestone in office up next. How's he doing on foreign policy? The Best Political Team on Television is here and getting ready to grade him. It's 48 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back. We've all been talking this morning about the president's second 100 days. How he's doing on all of the big issues of the day, and how do you get a chance to weigh in? Well this is the place. You go to We're going to show you here on the magic wall what you do. So once you're on the site, there's a series of questions. And here's question number one, it's how you think the president is handling the economy. You get to put your grade in. So a little bit of an overview on the things that we've been talking about, the stimulus plan, shoring up the banks. You get a chance to check out some of the latest polling.

And here's where you go to vote, you go right up here, there are question, select the grade. Let's say you think the economy's doing a B. You click on that and you can do plus or minus. All you have to do is plug in quickly where you live. So let's say you're out of Florida this morning, submit grade, and there you get to see your grade, you get to have your opinion as part of the entire package here and then you can check on various states and see Maine overall believing it's a C.

Let's take Minnesota, go down to Florida, you can check out how people think they're doing and go back to the overview, and you also get a chance to weigh in here down at the bottom. We'll do this one more time, where you get to sound off and you get to give your opinion. This is also on the Web site And the cool thing about is that tonight at 8:00, we're going to get all of the results from the polling. And we want to make sure you get a chance to get your voice heard. You can also weigh in on Facebook, as well. But pretty cool and you get a chance to tick through all of the questions. We got economy, we got healthcare reform, foreign affairs And I love this, you can also go here and talk about what you think about your own senators in your various states. Give them a grade, as well.

Check out how people voted, and there you go, the comment section, as well. So pretty cool, Let your voice be heard as we tackle the big issues that the president is taking on as he gets ready to complete his 200th day in office. And also what the best political team on television is saying about the president's performance.

We're talking foreign policy this coming hour. Experts and their grades are coming up. So what do you think, have the second 100 days of the Obama administration been days of change or days of frustration? Again, your voice can be heard right here, And again tonight, the "National Report Card" 8:00 p.m. Eastern, see the results, including how you weighed in. Joe?

JOHNS: And thank you, Kiran.

Coming up, we'll have a report from Chris Lawrence about a Russian sub lurking in the waters off the eastern coast of the United States. But what a difference the end of the Cold War makes. The Pentagon says it's not even worried about it. Coming up, next.


JOHNS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Their long international nightmare now over. Two American journalists are looking forward to quiet time with their families. You watched it unfold live here on AMERICAN MORNING. Laura Ling and Euna Lee being reunited with their loved ones after being held for more than four months in North Korea. Laura's sister, Lisa Ling, was asked about their life in captivity.


LISA LING: I think that they saw each other very early on for a couple of days in the beginning and then they were separated for the duration of the 4 1/2 months. So I think on the day of their trial, they hugged each other and that was it. In fact, one time on the phone, we only had four conversations with Laura, throughout this time she said would you please write a letter to Euna and tell her I'm thinking about her and I love her.


JOHNS: Lisa also said the two women were fed poorly and her sister is especially looking forward to fresh, healthy meals.

Family reunions can be difficult after extended periods of captivity or deployment.

CHETRY: Yes, and you just saw especially on the face of her little daughter how hard it was for her and for her daughter. We're talking about Euna here. But just in general, what kind of an effect could an experience like that have actually had on the journalists that were in North Korea for nearly five months? CNN's Brian Todd is looking at that.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This part's pretty basic, an emotional embrace between Euna Lee and her four-year-old daughter and a comment from Lee's colleague about what they want to do next.

LAURA LING, FREED AMERICAN JOURNALIST: We are just so anxious right now to be able to spend some quiet, private time getting reacquainted with our families.

TODD: And that, experts say, when the difficult work begins. Lisa Van Susteren is a psychiatrist who has dealt with sensitive family reunions.

(on camera): Is there a point when it's most difficult when all the attention ebbs in the days or maybe a week after the reunion when all of the cameras are gone and all the people are gone, when you turn to your spouse or child or both, and there's this what now?

LISA VAN SUSTEREN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, yes, because all of the attention, when you come back, is a big distraction. So once that is pulled out of the picture, you really are faced again, you and the person you were married to or you have been with all of these years and had children with. And now you've got to kind of face the reality of what do we got going forward? Who am I? What is my career? Am I going back to my old job? Or am I now a person on a mission? Have I been transformed by this experience? And my spouse hasn't been transformed.

TODD (voice-over): Divorce, Van Susteren says is common among couples in these situations. Marc Gonsalves, Kieth Stansell and Tom Hause were held captive for 5 1/2 years by rebels in the jungle. In year since their release, Gonsalves and Hause have gone through divorces. Gonsalves says he also suffered an initial physical reaction. After his first family encounter, a meeting with his father, he had a migraine.

VOICE OF MARC GONSALVES, FMR. HOSTAGE IN COLOMBIA: It was JUST the emotion of joy that I felt and the rush that I felt to cover so much lost time in such a short amount of time now. It was something that was difficult to deal with.

TODD: There seems to be no set formula for readjustment. After being in prison for eight months in Iran, Haleh Esfandiari arrived home on a Thursday, returned to work the following Monday.

HALEH ESFANDIARI, AUTHOR, "MY PRISON, MY HOME": I had to prove to myself that my jailer did not break my spirit nor my will. I had to prove to myself that it was the old me.

TODD (on camera): Lisa Van Susteren says the families of those who are returning have to be flexible. Families who do well in the readjustment period, she says, are those who take their cues from that returning relative and go at their pace. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: All right.