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CNN NEWSROOM

Health Reform Without Republicans?; General Motors Bringing Back 1,350 Workers; Congressman Barney Frank Fires Back at Town Hall Crowd; Don Hewitt Dies at 86 Years Old; First Provision of Credit Card Reform Will Take Effect Tomorrow; The Logistics of Voting in Afghanistan; Milwaukee Mayor Comments on Attack

Aired August 19, 2009 - 11:59   ET

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


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: It could be a make-or-break maneuver in the health care fight. Sources telling CNN Democrats and the White House may try to push through health reform legislation without Republican support.

Details on the possible strategy shift from senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash and CNN's Elaine Quijano at the White House. First to you, Dana. What is this that you are hearing from your Democratic sources? Are they actually going to go it alone?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A final decision has not been made yet at all. But what we know, and frankly what we've known for quite some time, is that Democrats in the Senate have been really preparing for the concept and the possibility of not having any Republicans on board for months.

And that preparation basically includes dealing with and laying the groundwork for some pretty tricky and pretty intense parliamentary maneuvers to do that. A decision has not been made to go forward with that, but here's what's going on, Drew.

What's going on is that over the past two or three days, Democrats say they are hearing more and more from Republicans, both in leadership and, more importantly, they insist, from the Republicans who are supposed to be and have been negotiating, that -- some pessimistic language. And they are thinking more and more that this partisan negotiation -- and the negotiations that have been going on for some time -- aren't going to bear fruition.

Now, privately they thought that for quite some time. But -- in fact, I just got a quote from a Democrat who says it looks increasingly likely that House and Senate Republicans are betting on this president to fail.

So, that is the dynamic that it's playing into. Our sources telling us that it is increasingly likely that in the fall, they might have to use this parliamentary tactic which would allow them to go forward without Republicans, because the bottom line is, Democrats in the Senate still have 60 votes. They have 60 Democratic senators.

However, there are two Democrats they can't rely on, Ted Kennedy, who is ailing, and Robert Byrd, who is elderly and also not reliably there. So, that's why they have to prepare for something that allows them to pass health care, potentially, without those Republican votes because they still don't have the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

GRIFFIN: Elaine, I want to go to you, because it seems while the Democrats are debating, it seems the White House is debating with itself on a lot of these things, and I'm not sure where the White House stands on this potential Democratic-only health care reform.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Drew, was asked all about all of this at the gaggle earlier today. And he was asked point-blank, you know, have there been strategic discussions about going at this alone, with just Democrats? And he said, point-blank, no.

He said, what we're focused on right now is the work going on among lawmakers, the Senate Finance Committee. He did, however, note that, of course -- he said, Republicans, at least some Republicans, what they've been saying certainly doesn't indicate that they're willing to be a part of health care reform.

At the same time, he did say that the White House does believe that there are still, though, some Republicans who are working in a constructive way, who are trying to move things forward. But as for whether or not this White House has given up completely on a bipartisan plan, Robert Gibbs saying flatly, absolutely not -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: All right, Elaine, thank you.

There's also, you know, whether or not the Democrats are willing to go it alone, especially some of those Blue Dogs who are hearing so much from their own constituents criticism about this health care plan.

Thank you, Elaine.

Dana, thank you so much.

The politics of going it alone, we're going to talk about if it's even possible. Dana's going to rejoin us with that discussion, along with CNN's political editor, Mark Preston, in about 10 minutes on the politics and the potential pitfalls politically if they do go it alone.

So, how would the go-it-alone strategy work exactly?

Our Josh Levs at the Magic Wall to walk us through this -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's one of those complicated procedures, as we were just hearing there, reported from Washington. So, this is one of those times we kind of stop through a little bit of "Schoolhouse Rock" here for you at the Magic Wall.

We just want everyone to understand why this is even possible and how it would work in the first place. And so we have some fun pictures.

Check this out. This is -- thanks to our graphics designers upstairs, this is what we have to represent a filibuster. Now, as you know, the way it works in the Senate, you need 60 votes to break a filibuster. So, you see a lawmaker here, blah, blah, blah, keeps talking. As a rule, you need these 60 votes; right?

Well, this is what's different now. In budgets, you can do this thing called a budget reconciliation, if you're able to get it inside the budget. And for this year, as CNN reported in the spring, we did. For the 2010 budget, tucked inside of this, we have this, a health care reconciliation.

Now, you can get these reconciliations in. They are debated. And this one was controversial at the time, but it did pass as part of the budget.

Once you have that reconciliation in here, all you need is this, a simple majority in the Senate. So, now, the Senate would only need 51 votes, Drew, to pass this reconciliation.

So, the theory here is, if they cannot get those 60 votes they would usually need to break a filibuster, this is a whole other way to circumvent it and say, you know what? Let's not even worry about. Let's use that reconciliation, get a simple majority of 51 votes, potentially pass the bill.

GRIFFIN: Josh, is that the nuclear option we've heard about in the past?

LEVS: It's actually not. Right, we've heard the "nuclear option" term used, and that was used in the context of trying to get through some judicial nominees against a filibuster. In a way, it's a similar concept, but we're not talking about that term here. That's not the term that's being used. Instead, it's about this specific thing, a reconciliation that got inside that 2010 budget.

GRIFFIN: Some are calling it ramming it through.

LEVS: Yes. Well, some might see it that way. If -- and let's emphasize, we don't know if it's going to happen, but if it were to happen, this is the reason that it would be possible.

GRIFFIN: All right.

Josh, thank you so much.

LEVS: Thanks, Drew.

GRIFFIN: And what do you think? Should Democrats and the White House move forward on health care reform without Republican support? Go to our blog at CNN.com/newsroom and vote.

The vote has been pretty dramatically one-sided the last time we checked. Let's check it out now.

Many of our viewers have been saying yes to that. I guess we don't have those results -- or do we? If we do, I can't see it.

Well, looking for more of what you've been seeing here on CNN? Check out CNN.com/healthcare.

This is really where you're going to get answers about everything circling about what's in the bill, what's not in the bill, where the debates are, where they're not, the town hall meetings, the key players, the different plans, and sticking points of those plans. Really, this is where the rumors end. It is at our Web site, CNN.com/healthcare.

Well, it's back on the production line for more than 1,300 General Motors workers who had been let go. GM is going to boost production by about 60,000 cars this year. The automaker spent 40 days in bankruptcy this summer. Now it's seeing a bit of a spike in demand, thanks in part to the Cash for Clunkers program.

Mary Conway from affiliate WXYZ tells us the rehired workers aren't the only ones who are going to benefit from this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm excited!

MARY CONWAY, WXYZ CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Workers are thrilled that GM is boosting production at the Orion Township plant. GM confirmed that it will keep the plant open two months longer than originally scheduled, and will add a number of overtime shifts to meet the demand for the hot-selling Malibu. The plant currently works four 10-hour days. A number of Friday shifts are expected to be added.

BRAD GLENDE, GM EMPLOYEE: It shows that, you know, people are out there buying our product and the economy's picking up.

MEGAN GEORGE, GM EMPLOYEE: Well, that's good news for us, that we're working overtime. And cars are starting to come in, and people are buying cars again.

CONWAY (on camera): Are you looking forward to some overtime?

SCOTT BINDSCHATEL, GM EMPLOYEE: Yes.

CONWAY: Why?

BINDSCHATEL: Everybody could always use money, you know, these days.

CONWAY (voice-over): Suppliers say the increase will help the supply chain.

PAUL RICHARDS, SUPPLIER: Oh, it's excellent. It's good for me, too. It keeps me employed.

CONWAY: The extra work is good news for Guido's Pizza, that delivers to workers at the plant.

GENNIFER LEPINE, GUIDO'S PIZZA: It's very important, because, of course, it will, you know, help us out a lot. We do a lot of deliveries out there. They really like the product. So, we're hoping that, you know, their success is our success.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Breaking news today. Pioneering newsman Don Hewitt died today, best known as the creator of the long-running news magazine "60 Minutes" on CBS.

What a legend this guy was. Did you know that Hewitt was the producer of that first televised presidential debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 where President Nixon was sweating? He wasn't president at the time, but blamed a lot of that outcome of that election on what happened then.

CNN's news president Jon Klein worked with Hewitt at CBS. I spoke with him just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON KLEIN, CNN NEWS PRESIDENT: You know, Don Hewitt didn't need a boss. What he needed was somebody to bounce ideas off of.

The very first day on the job -- so here I was 37 years old -- supposedly on paper, overseeing a legend like Don Hewitt, and he took me to lunch. He said, "Listen, kid, it's very simple. I have 10 ideas a day. Nine of them are terrible. Your job is to tell me which one is great."

And that was pretty much the relationship. And he lived up to that.

I'd say he had more than 10 ideas a day. He was bursting with passion for what we do, telling stories. That was it in a nutshell for Don.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Certainly a formula that has worked and continues to work. Journalist Don Hewitt earned eight Emmy Awards, two Peabodys. He was 86 years old.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Well, yelling and booing, sometimes pushing and shoving lawmakers, seeing it at town hall meetings all across the country. But Jim Acosta tells us when Congressman Barney Frank took the podium, the aggression, well, it just wasn't in the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Barney Frank.

(APPLAUSE) (BOOS)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't take long for the shouting to start.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Somebody turn on the light. Where's the light?

Hey, enough.

Which one of you wants to yell first?

ACOSTA: And before the first question was asked, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank was swinging back at opponents of health care reform.

(SHOUTING)

FRANK: Disruption never helps your cause. It makes it look like you're afraid to have rational discussion. You just drive people away.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm not here -- this is the council (ph) on aging, not kindergarten.

ACOSTA: Frank tried to dispel some of the bogus claims about the bill in the House.

FRANK: Illegal aliens are specifically excluded from getting any assistance in the bill.

ACOSTA: To that, some in the crowd shouted, "Read the bill!" So he did and found the section where illegal immigrants are excluded.

FRANK: It's right in the bill. I will show you.

ACOSTA: But even that didn't satisfy everyone.

FRANK: It is a little odd to be accused of not having read the bill by people who object when I do.

ACOSTA: Several audience members insisted reform would bust the budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pay more taxes because of you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill would practically bankrupt the economy of the United States government.

ACOSTA: Time and again, Frank took that grenade and threw it back.

FRANK: And I do worry about the deficit. That's one of the reasons, not the only one, that I voted against the single, most wasteful expenditure in the history of America -- the Iraq War.

(APPLAUSE)

ACOSTA: The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee took a few questions on reforming Wall Street. Instead, Frank talked at length about his support for the public option...

FRANK: I am not voting for any bill that forces anybody to anything. It will have a public option.

ACOSTA: ... and tried to reassure seniors there were no death panels in the bill.

FRANK: This notion that something in this bill would require people who were elderly or sick to be denied medical care and killed is the single stupidest argument I have ever heard in all my years in politics.

ACOSTA: It was that absurdity of the health care debate that retiree and Medicare recipient Mary Castento (ph) was happy to see put to rest.

ACOSTA (on camera): Can I tell you though that I know for a fact that they are not going to pull the plug on grandma?

MARY CASTENTO (ph), AUDIENCE MEMBER: They're not going to pull it on me, I tell you, because I'd fight to the death.

ACOSTA (on camera): Unlike his fellow liberals in the House, Congressman Frank is not insisting that there be a government-run insurance program or public option in the final health care reform package. While he remains a strong supporter of the public option, Frank says he does not want to negotiate the final bill in public.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And as we've been reporting, a risky move, but sources say Democrats and the White House may be -- may -- be preparing to push health care reform without Republicans, a make-or-break strategy during this crucial month.

Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash breaking a lot of this story yesterday. She joins us now to talk about it, along with CNN's political editor, Mark Preston.

And Mark, I want to begin with you on this strategy, because it seems like they're ignoring the problem they have, where Democrats may not be able to go it alone. They're having a lot of trouble with other Democrats on this one.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, and it really depends what exactly they end up doing, if the White House and congressional Democratic leadership does try to push through this strategic move called reconciliation to really try to get health care passed. But I will tell you, Drew, if he does do that, if President Obama does favor this and does push it through, it's going to cause him a lot of problems.

It's going to forever hurt his ability to work with centrist Republicans and centrist Democrats for the rest of his administration on other issues on Capitol Hill. You know, and at the same time, you know, people are going to start questioning whether the talk that he had on the campaign trail about trying to change Washington and bringing bipartisanship here to D.C., was just that, talk.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

Dana, that aside, the other implication is 2010, with the midterm elections. And we've been seeing -- a lot of Democrats are going home and seeing their own constituents really upset about this. If they do pass health care reform, I think it's fair to say nothing will be in effect during that November 2010 election except the ire of these constituents.

BASH: That's right. And, you know, the ire, definitely, as we've seen in these town halls and, you know, even heard from members of Congress who are not attending these town halls, the ire is going both ways.

And you talk about 2010. It just gives me an opportunity to talk about the problem that Democrats are having politically, because you're exactly right, nobody is really -- whether or not this passes, nobody is going to be able to see the substance of it and the content of what it will mean for average, everyday Americans. And it's all going to be in the context of political rhetoric and who's up and who's down.

Having said that, when it comes to Democrats, we know that a big part of their support comes from the labor movement. So, many of these Democrats who are up for re-election.

And the AFL-CIO, the secretary-treasurer, just released a statement today warning Democrats that if they don't support or vote against something that has a public option or a government-run option, insurance option for health care, that they won't get support from labor unions. So, that's just one example of the balancing act, the political balancing act that these Democrats in particular are trying to deal with right now.

GRIFFIN: You know, Mark, I was talking with Andy Stern not too long ago, the head of the SEIU, to that exact point. They have a $10 million war chest really aimed -- and he said at Democrats who don't do what we want. They want health care reform and they want it to pass.

Is this kind of turning the table and trying to make this a Republican/Democratic thing, a way that the Democrats who want health care reform can kind of mask the problems they're having within their own party?

PRESTON: Well, you know, I've got to tell you, just this morning, Drew, I was talking to several Republican strategists about what they're going to do the next couple of weeks and how they view this civil war that's going on in the Democratic Party. And by and large, you are going to see Republicans take a step back the next week or so and allow Democrats to fight this out amongst themselves because, you know, there's no better offense than to have your opponent fight amongst one another.

You know, at the same time, look for these Republicans to try to flip the switch. I've heard this phrase a few times now, "flip the switch" at the end of the month and really go full bore against the Democrats, really try to cast some doubt regarding the public option in the minds of the elderly, the folks, the AARP members, and others as well who think that a government-run option really is not the way to deal with this issue.

BASH: And Drew, Mark makes an excellent point with regard to the Republican strategy and how Democrats are using that, because a big part -- in fact, the main reason, I think, why Ed Henry and I and others are hearing more and more from Democrats that it is a possibility they may have to go it alone is because they are pointing to statements from some of the lead Republicans who have been negotiating like Chuck Grassley, and even some Republican leaders, saying, look, they are sounding much more strident, much less likely to have a deal.

So, they are using Republican statements and holding them up almost to justify and lay the groundwork for something that privately they've been telling us is a possibility for, and maybe even a probability for some time, that they are going to have to do this without Republican support. And that is a big part of that, and this has been illustrated for the past 48 hours, the big debate over the public option. A big part of that is because of the intense differences about this public option in the Democratic Party.

GRIFFIN: Man, what a chess game going on, and these players aren't even town. It's amazing.

Thanks for joining us, you two.

Listen, so what do you think? Should Democrats and the White House move forward on health care reform without Republican support?

You can go to our blog at CNN.com/newsroom and vote. You can also leave us a comment. We're going to share the final results from our "QuickVote" a little later in the NEWSROOM, CNN NEWSROOM.

Let's take a quick look at our results so far, though.

Overwhelmingly -- and this has been for the last hour and a half now -- yes, our viewers, or the people who are calling in and voting, are saying the Democrats should go alone. There you go.

A big city mayor beaten while trying to help a woman in trouble. How did it happen?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GRIFFIN: CBS News reporting now that Don Hewitt has indeed passed away at 86 from pancreatic cancer. He was the creator of "60 Minutes," really the creator of a lot that has to do with TV news. And people in the industry are remembering him.

One at "60 Minutes," Jeff Fager, the current executive producer at "60 Minutes," is releasing a statement saying, "It is a sad and difficult time for all of us who work at '60 Minutes.' Don was a giant figure in our lives and will always have an impact on this broadcast."

That from Jeff Fager, the current executive producer of the show "60 Minutes" that Don Hewitt created.

He was at CBS since 1948, and involved with so many of the big, huge improvements and reporting in this industry we call TV news.

Well, the mayor of Milwaukee has been released from a hospital where he was being treated after a brutal beating.

CNN's Erica Hill has more on what happened and how he is doing. She filed this report last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until this weekend, most of the questions surrounding Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's future had to do with whether he's planning a run for governor. That all changed after the mayor was attacked late Saturday night while trying to help a woman and her granddaughter.

911 OPERATOR: What's the emergency, 911?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My granddaughter's birth father just tried to pull her out of the car, broke my cell phone, threatened to shoot us and to shoot himself.

911 OPERATOR: Where is he right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He ran down Orchard Street. There were some people from the fair that were walking past. And I jumped out of the car and I shouted for them to call 911.

HILL: One of the people who heard the woman's car was Mayor Barrett, heading to the car after spending the evening with his family at the Wisconsin State Fair. But he didn't make it home that night.

911 OPERATOR: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a beating on 88th and Orchard. There was some guy arguing with his girlfriend. And my uncle just tried to step in and the guy took a stick to him and hit him over the head, and he's bleeding all over the place. We need an ambulance.

HILL: That bleeding man was Mayor Barrett. JOHN BARRETT, MILWAUKEE MAYOR'S BROTHER: Tom stepped up and did the right thing. He called 911 and tried to calm the situation for the grandmother and her grandchild. As a result of his actions, Tom was attacked and struck repeatedly with a metal object.

HILL: An emotional John Barrett on Sunday outside the hospital where the mayor was being treated.

On Monday, he gave CNN more details about the attack and how his brother ended up laying on the street in a pool of blood.

BARRETT: The individual, after he knocks the phone off and stomps on the phone and says, "You're not calling," he says, "I have a gun, and I'm not afraid to shoot everybody here." And then Tom's kids start to cry. So, Tom says to my sister, "Get the kids out of here."

HILL (on camera): But the mayor stayed and took a punch in the gut that doubled him over. He came up swinging and shattered his hand.

When it was all over, the mayor had also lost some teeth, had to have plastic surgery for cuts on his face. And, according to his brother, also stitches on the back of his head.

Tonight, the mayor is home recovering.

And a 20-year-old suspect arrested on Sunday is behind bars.

The little girl's grandmother tells CNN, they are both fine, while John Barrett is both proud and relieved.

BARRETT: I'm just glad that he's OK. He's my brother and I love him, and I'm just glad that he's OK.

HILL (voice-over): Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And very soon from now, we expect the mayor to stand up to that podium and tell us exactly how he is doing. It will be the first time he's spoken publicly since he was attacked. We're going to bring you that news conference as soon as it gets under way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: CNN is your source for money news. Check out cnn.com for the latest financial news and analysis.

It started out as a down day on the Dow, but, hey, things have turned around. Right now the numbers on the big board up 64, almost 65 points. And last check we had NASDAQ up about nine. So things turned around there just in this intra-day trading.

When you tell a bunch of middle schoolers that some big names are coming for a visit, they're probably hoping for the Jonas Brothers, not politicians. But this was still a day to remember at Orlando's Jackson Middle School. Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan dropped by a little while ago. Schools like this one have received billions in stimulus money. And the vice president says the dip in unemployment last month shows the act is doing what it's supposed to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't measure less worse as good. I don't want you to think we think this is success. This proves the act is working. But it doesn't get us where we have to get. We're not going to be happy till employment is growing again. That we're creating good, solid, middle class jobs that people can live and raise a family on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Another $4.3 billion in tax dollars will be going to schools based on how well they've used the money they have already gotten.

Focusing now on your money and some big changes with credit cards. The first provisions of a credit card reform law take effect tomorrow. What does that mean? CNNmoney.com Poppy Harlow has "The Breakdown" from New York.

Hi, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Hi there, Drew.

Well, these goals, obviously, are to help consumers. Let's go through some of them.

First of all, what's going to take effect tomorrow? Starting tomorrow is, first of all, credit card companies must give you 21 days between when you get your bill to when you pay it. That used to be just about 14 days or two weeks. Also, you're going to get 45 days' notice before credit card companies can raise your rates. That used to be just 15 days. So a big increase there in your benefit.

And also, you can decline the new rate and just pay off your existing balance on your credit card if they raise it higher than you want to pay, Drew. So these are all things that are really going to help consumers.

Drew.

GRIFFIN: Yes, I just want to point out one thing on that last one, you can decline the rate.

HARLOW: Yes.

GRIFFIN: But you won't be able to use that credit card anymore. It just basically turns into that interest of a loan that you're paying back.

HARLOW: That's a great point. You can't, but you can say, hey, I want to pay this balance off over "x" number of years that they give you and then you don't -- you can't use it again. But at the same time you're not going to automatically be charged that higher rate on the existing balance.

Some other things we want to tell you about are the rules that go into effect starting in February. Let's start out with those.

Credit card companies won't be able to raise rates on existing balances unless you are 60 days late or more. Also, when you make a payment, it will be applied towards the part of your balance that has the highest interest rate. It makes sense, but it was not the case before.

And also, Drew, this is an important one, no more universal defaults. If you default on your payments for one credit card, other credit card companies can't raise your rates as a result of that. So, starting in February, only the card that you've defaulted on can increase your rate.

Drew.

GRIFFIN: Yes. You know, when this law passed, many credit card companies said it would make credit more expensive and less available.

HARLOW: Right.

GRIFFIN: Are we seeing that now?

HARLOW: We are seeing that. I mean, they lobbied against this because credit card companies, as you may well know, Drew, make a huge profit over people paying their bills late and paying those fees as a result. What we're seeing is rates are going up, riskier accounts are being closed. You're seeing some of your credit limits reduced. The cap may not be as higher as it was. It's harder to get a credit cards some people are saying these days. The fees have been boosted to try to turn a profit for the companies that aren't profiting like they were before.

I want to tell you quickly what some people are writing in on Facebook about this. They're telling us what they think, what's going on.

Shwara (ph) wrote in. She said, "My husband just got a notice from his credit card company raising interest rates and various fees. What is surprising is that it was a single page document written in plain English."

So, that is some welcome news.

And also Scott wrote in and he said, "We've had some of our rates randomly raised as well as the minimum monthly payments dramatically increase, which only backs us more into the corner."

So, Drew, these regulations are aimed at people like Scott. It's going to help them out hopefully. The first ones I mentioned taking effect on Thursday. All the rest will take effect in February. GRIFFIN: All right, Poppy, thanks a lot. I got one of those in the mail, too, those little rate jacks right before Thursday, right?

HARLOW: That's exactly right.

GRIFFIN: All right. Thanks a lot, Poppy.

Well, U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. With voters in Afghanistan just hours away now heading to the polls, what is being done to get ready?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Just hours before voting begins in Afghanistan, the U.S. military reporting that three more U.S. troops have been killed in the southern part of that country. That's in addition to three other U.S. deaths announced earlier today.

There are 41 candidates competing for the presidency in Thursday's election. Incumbent Hamid Karzai is favored, but he needs to get more than 50 percent of that vote to avoid a runoff. The Taliban threatening to disrupt the voting there. Afghanistan's government is even directing the media not to report acts of violence to avoid scaring voters.

Election officials are scrambling with last-minute details today. CNN's Ivan Watson is on the road with poll workers in Afghanistan in the Bamiyan province.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in a convoy in a police truck. We're escorting this truck up ahead of us, in the dust, you might be able to see it. And it's taking ballot boxes up to some of the polling stations here in Afghanistan's central Bamiyan province.

As you can see, security is important here, even though this is one of the safest provinces in the country. Despite that good track record, election workers say, in some parts of the province, they've heard of armed men going house to house, warning people not to vote. And also there's been a spike in violence and insurgent attacks over the past three months, as insurgents have tried to disrupt this election process.

Now, you can tell the roads here are not paved. Despite the fact that Bamiyan is one of the safest provinces in the country, it's been spared the daily car bombs and roadside bombs that the south and the east of the country have seen and some of the assassination attacks, it still hasn't really benefitted from reconstruction. There are fewer than five miles -- five kilometers of paved road in this entire province. And that makes this election a real logistical challenge.

You can see the posters over there of some of the candidates for provincial council and for president. People here, they say they are going to participate in the elections tomorrow. And there is a lot of support here for the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, in part because some of the traditional ethnic Hazara leaders, this is predominantly ethnic Hazara province, they have endorsed the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Interesting side note. Election workers in Afghanistan, in the mountainous regions, using 3,000 donkeys just to get voting materials to the polling stations.

Well, up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the mayor there, Tom Barrett, is coming to the microphone, just days after being beaten when he came to the rescue of a woman who was in trouble in a domestic situation. The mayor was beaten with a pipe. Let's hear what he has to say.

MAYOR TOM BARRETT, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN: Good morning.

I'm Mayor Tom Barrett. I'm joined by my wife -- with my wife, Kris, my sister, Betsy, and my niece, Molly. And we want to thank you all for being here this morning.

First, I want to thank my wife, Kris, for being at my side throughout this. And, obviously, my children, who have been just wonderful as well.

Molly and Betsy were there throughout this entire incident. And Molly was just super. She was the one, if you listen to the 911 voice, that was Molly, (INAUDIBLE) sophomore at Marquette University, who did a great job. She did a great job.

Saturday night, Kris was in California with her two sisters and her mother, visiting her 80-year-old aunt for her birthday and I was looking for a way to avoid making dinner. And it was about 5:00 and I got a call from my sister, Mary, another sister, who was interested in going to state fair to listen to a band that she liked a lot.

And my daughter, Annie, was working at state fair at the time. My son, Tommy, had just gotten home from the state fair. So I said to my two younger daughters, Erin and Kate, how about we go to state fair with Aunt Mary? And in the interim, we called Betsy and our brother John. And so the four Barretts, adult siblings, all met up at the state fair to listen to music.

And that was the reason that my fantastic security personnel was not with me. This was a spur of the moment decision by myself to, in essence, have a little family reunion with my siblings. And everything was going great until we started walking back to the car a little after 10:00. That's when I encountered something that I think virtually any other citizen in this city would have reacted the same way.

We were walking down the street and my two daughters, and Molly, too, I think at that point, said someone's yelling "call 91, call 91" and there was a woman holding a baby. And our immediate thought was that there was something wrong with the baby. And so I quickly pulled out my phone, as I think Molly did, and we started calling 911. Within seconds, we realized the problem was not with the baby, it was with the man. And he came up and was very, very agitated. And events took off from there very, very quickly.

Because of the criminal nature of this, I'm not going to go into that any further. That-- some of that has come out already and some more of that will come out in the coming day. But we don't want to in any way jeopardize that criminal case. But I think -- I think it's fair to say that things got very, very ugly very, very quickly.

From there, though, it was the incredible response. First of Molly. And, again, I have to point to Molly, who kept her cool throughout this whole thing and did just a great job. And then the West Alice Police were fantastic. The emergency transport people were fantastic. The Milwaukee Police. The staff at Freighter (ph) was phenomenal and they got us in there very, very quickly and got things stabilized very, very quickly as well.

As you can see, I got hit in the face. I have some cuts on the back of my head and the top of my head and will have that -- I'll be back to the doctor on Friday for that. My hand is fractured. I was at the doctor earlier this morning and will return Friday to see what the prognosis is for my hand.

But, overall, I think -- what I want to stress is how -- I've been in situations in this community my whole life and I can't think of a situation like this where people would not have responded the way I did. When someone says "call 911," you call 911. It's that straightforward. And that's exactly what happened here. It was only at that point where the response was so bizarre that things took off in the wrong direction.

But I want to thank the incredible outpouring of support that I've had from people within this community, from outside the community. People have just been incredibly kind. Even my son was surprised I had friends. So even teenagers can be surprised in an event like this. But, again, to the many people in our community who have reached out to me and my family, I want to give a heartfelt thank you.

So, we're on the mend. Everything's headed in the right direction. And I just wanted to let you know that I'm still standing.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, what's going through your mind (INAUDIBLE)?

T. BARRETT: That this is really bad. That this is really bad. That's what was going through my mind, this is really, really bad.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

T. BARRETT: Physically, I need more rest right now. I'm going to take this week off and I'm going to rest. This was supposed to be our vacation week. So, so much for that. But we're spending some time. We're having a stayvac -- or staycation. Is that what they call it now, a staycation?

KRIS BARRETT, WIFE OF TOM BARRETT: That's what Kate calls it, a staycation.

T. BARRETT: Although she took off. She got a better offer. She's on her way to Dohr (ph) County, our 10-year-old. So I'd say physically my mouth hurts a little bit. My hand is going to -- that's where I'm most concerned. But I'm, again, I've been very impressed by the medical personnel working with my hand.

QUESTION: How are your two young daughters doing?

T. BARRETT: I think they're doing remarkably well. I think they're doing very, very well.

QUESTION: Mayor Barrett, we have hundreds of get-well wishes from our views at Fox 6 that we'd like to give to you.

T. BARRETT: Sure. Thank you.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) you're a hero. What do you want to say?

T. BARRETT: I'll say Molly's my hero.

QUESTION: Mayor Barrett.

T. BARRETT: Yes.

QUESTION: Does this at all change the way you think (INAUDIBLE) how it all (INAUDIBLE)?

T. BARRETT: Well, I think what it does is it's given me an opportunity to see the criminal justice system, the emergency transport system from that side. And I've been blown away at how professional it is. I've been very, very, very impressed. And I think it's pretty accurate to say certainly this guy didn't know that I was a mayor, and I wasn't going to tell him, because I just thought that could make things worse.

And I don't know that any of the emergency personnel people knew I was. Maybe they did. Obviously at some point somebody did. But I think -- and I hope and I'm confident that the response that I got is the same response every single citizen in this community would get. And I think that's something the citizens can be proud of.

QUESTION: Mayor, the issues (INAUDIBLE)?

T. BARRETT: Well, and I think it highlights the seriousness of the domestic violence issues. And just what an explosive issue that is. And I've said this to my own security detail, and I think we've seen this time again locally and nationally, that domestic violence incidents can be the most dangerous incidents of them all.

QUESTION: The suspects family have suggested that you are somehow responsible for what happened. What's your reaction to that?

T. BARRETT: My first reaction was, that's pretty bizarre. And I mentioned it to Kris and she had a little different reaction, I think, in terms of the mother that -- and maybe it's important that a mother's love is blind. And maybe a mother's love should be blind.

But, again, this will come out in a criminal -- in the criminal case. But, I mean, we were literally walking down the street and so that -- I don't want to say anything more than that. We were literally walking down the street.

QUESTION: The president called you. What did he say to you when he called?

T. BARRETT: The president was very cordial. I did indicate I would prefer to be called for pitching a perfect game, no-hitter, rather than this, but he was very nice and just thanked me for stepping forward. And I've gotten other nice calls as well. Because it's been very -- again, it's been very heartening the support that I've gotten. And I'm -- I really am very thankful. It helps. Because it's tough. And it's helpful to know that people are out there and they care.

QUESTION: Mayor, do you feel any more obligation to intervene because you head up the city, you work with police regularly? Did that cross you . . .

T. BARRETT: I honestly think, when your 10-year-old and 12-year- old daughter and 20-year-old niece say, call 911, you call 911. So I think anybody at all would have done the same thing. I would hope anybody would do the same thing.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

T. BARRETT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

GRIFFIN: That's the mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, talking for the first time publicly about being beaten at the fair. He was just trying to help out a woman who was in trouble, had called 911, and a man turned on him. Police have made an arrest. They've arrested Anthony Peters, whom they say was intoxicated and involved in a domestic dispute when he went and attacked the mayor.

We're going to have more reaction on the death of news legend Don Hewitt right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: We've been reporting all morning on the death of CBS "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt, dead in New York at the age of 86 of pancreatic cancer. The legendary newsman, well known to our own legend, CNN's Larry King, who joins us now live via phone.

Larry, your thoughts on hearing the news that this really pioneer in our business has passed away?

LARRY KING, CNN HOST (via telephone): Yes, we're losing them too quickly, Drew. Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt are . . .

GRIFFIN: Go ahead, Larry, I'm sorry.

KING: Don Hewitt was an innovator. It's the first thing you -- I don't know what that sound is.

GRIFFIN: Yes, but it's not good.

Larry, let's try one more time, Larry. You were talking about him being an innovator and you had him on your show many times.

KING: I think we had him on -- I think they totaled 12 times. He was a true innovator. He was a giant. I mean just go back to . . .

GRIFFIN: Larry -- Larry, do you have your TV on? Can I ask you just to turn off your TV. Maybe that's it.

KING: I have nothing on. Maybe I'm on a defective phone or you're on a defective phone. You want to call me right back and I'll go to another one of my phones.

GRIFFIN: OK. We'll have -- you know what, we're going to have Kyra Phillips. She's taking over. Thanks, again, Larry, for joining us.

Again, we were reporting on the death of that man right there, the "60 Minutes" creator, Don Hewitt, dead at the age of 86 of pancreatic cancer. And, of course, not only did he create "60 Minutes," he created so many shows working with the legends, Edward R. Murrow. He even produced that historic first televised debate of presidential candidates, Richard Nixon and a guy named John Kennedy. Really landmarks in this business. And he was certainly a giant.

We want to turn it over now to Kyra Phillips, who's beginning the rest of the news here at CNN. You know, the news never stops here, and Kyra Phillips is going to take it over for the next couple of hours as she always does.

Kyra.