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Remembering "The Lion of the Senate," Storm North of Puerto Rico Has Tropical Storm Potential; Discovery's Launch Date Pushed Back to Friday; Vice President Biden Remembers Longtime Friend Senator Kennedy

Aired August 26, 2009 - 10:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And there he is, a very sad President Obama interrupting his vacation to speak out about his good friend Senator Ted Kennedy, who arguably was very instrumental in getting Democrats on board and helping him the Democratic presidential nomination, endorsing him over Hillary Clinton at a critical moment in the campaign and working very hard for him to get that nomination.

He said, in fact, America is more equal and more just, and he was speaking personally as a result of what Senator Kennedy did over the years in working for legislation, a reference to civil rights legislation with Senator Kennedy who was very instrumental in passing. Much more coming up of our coverage of the passing of Senator Kennedy. Let's go back to Heidi, in the meantime, for some other important stories we're watching. Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Wolf, thank you.

I want to get to you some of those other stories that we're following right now. A lot going on to tell you about -- in fact, at least 43 people are dead after a massive truck bomb blast in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Others may still be lost in that rubble. The largely residential neighborhood and 75 people are injured and the Red Cross says one of their workers is among the dead. We'll stay on top of that story for you.

A top Democratic fund-raiser has been arrested on bank fraud charges. Prosecutors say Hassan Nemazee tried to scam $74 million money from Citibank. Authorities say he provided false addresses and phone numbers for apparently non-existent financial institutions to vouch for his collateral. He was stopped by federal agents at Newark Airport on Sunday where he planned to catch a flight to Rome.

And NASA will try again to launch "Discovery" early Friday morning. This week's third attempt follows one scrub for bad weather and another for a fuel valve problem. Engineers suspect the problem may be with the instruments and not the actual valve itself.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America. To restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama as president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: One year to the day after that speech, Senator Edward Kennedy lost his battle to brain cancer. His endorsement of Barack Obama was viewed by many as the passing of the torch. Today Kennedy's death is viewed by most as the passing of an era.

For nearly a half century he waged battle and negotiated compromise on Capitol Hill. For almost 47 years he held the Senate seat vacated by his brother's election to the White House. Later he would become the last surviving brother of the Kennedy political dynasty and he would serve as the torch bearer of the Camelot legacy.

Joining us for this morning's special coverage now, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, a veteran reporter, of course, of Washington politics. Good morning to you once again, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good morning, Heidi. We've covered Senator Kennedy for so many years in Washington, and it's going to be hard to cover Washington without Senator Kennedy's presence. It was so powerful.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Dan Lothian right now. Dan, the president we just heard it live here on CNN. He spoke from the heart and he spoke what Senator Kennedy meant to him.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. You saw the president step to the mike on the property of the Blue Heron Farm where they were spending their vacation. He was not wearing a coat, a really somber mood as he walked up and delivered what was essentially a one-page statement and the president -- I just ticked off some things that stood out with the president calling Senator Kennedy, a colleague, a counselor, a friend.

He said Kennedy's name was synonymous with the Democratic Party. He said that he garnered the respect and one of the greatest senators of our times. In addition to that, he said he was one of the most accomplished Americans. The president praising him, a real tribute to someone who has been a part of his life from the beginning when he became a senator, really and helping him and showing him the ropes up on Capitol Hill, helping him in his campaign and helping him as president. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we have all born witness is a testament to way this singular American figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives. And seniors who know new dignity and families that know new opportunity and children who know education's promise and all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And, at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks, but in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection for members of both sides of the aisle.


LOTHIAN: The president, like so many others, knew that this day would come, but pointed out it that it doesn't make it any easier now that it has happened. The president first learned about his passing this morning at 2:00 a.m. when Marvin Nicholson, who is his golf partner and also an assistant to the president, came and woke him up and gave him the news about 25 minutes later and the president did place a call to Mrs. Kennedy.

So, you know, a difficult day for this administration, for Mr. Obama who was really, as he pointed out, when he was first on his way here to Martha's Vineyard for his vacation was not planning on making any news. This certainly was not something that he was hoping to respond to today.

BLITZER: But as he said, he was bracing for it. He knew this day would come. Everyone knew this day would come, and it has all come as we all now know.

Dan, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you. Senator Kennedy started his career in the Senate as soon as he reached the eligible age of 30 back in 1962. He was elected to the United States Senate. Here's a news reel from back in 1962, when he ran for the seat he'd hold for the rest of his life.


ANNOUNCER: Kennedy has thrown his hat into the national political arena. Edward M. or Ted officially announces his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by his brother, the president. The youngest of the three brothers, he will face Edward J. McCormick, Jr., the nephew of the speaker of the House, in the Democratic primary.


BLITZER: He went out to beat the Republican George Cavitlodge (ph) in that race and became a United States senator for more than four decades. Let's bring in Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent. The tributes, the memories are coming in, including from Senator McCain who worked closely with Senator Kennedy on many issues, most recently on comprehensive immigration reform during the end of the Bush administration, which failed.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, much to Senator McCain's political parallel as a candidate for president running Republican primaries. But you know, in this statement that Senator McCain just released, he said something -- I think very apt.

He said that Senator Kennedy was famous before he was accomplished and you know, that reel, that news reel that we just saw really does remind us of the fact that he, there was a place holder when his brother became president so that he could actually get to the age eligibility and become 30 so he could take that seat. And he really was somebody who obviously had a famous name. He was well known as the kid brother and it took him a while, a long while to really find his place in terms of what he's now known for, which is all the things we talked about policy wise whether it's voting rights, civil rights or minimum wage, and you name it. It definitely did take him a while, unfortunately, he was forced into that role because of the deaths of his brothers.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's hard to imagine now that you could have a freshman senator whose brother was, of course, the president of the United States, and Ted Kennedy used to love stories about what that was like.

One of the stories I remember him telling us was that there was an airline, Northeast Airlines that was Boston based, and it was going to lose its route. So he went to go see his brother, the president, to see if his brother, former senator from the region could help him out and his brother said, Teddy, that's your problem now, sorry. No can do. And didn't.

BLITZER: And given the quirks of Massachusetts law, there's going to be no senator from Massachusetts for at least a few months, maybe as long as five months, Paul Begala and that's going to make the job of President Obama in getting health care reform a little bit more difficult.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Back in 2004 when John Kerry, the other senator from Massachusetts was running for president, the Democrats in Massachusetts decided they would -- should Kerry win they would have a vacancy and they had a Republican governor Mitt Romney at the time. So, the Democrats cleverly passed a law that said governor can't appoint. We have to have a special election.

Well, now, the Democrats are hoisted on their own (INAUDIBLE) it could be as much as five months before Massachusetts has another vote in the Senate. One of his last public acts, Senator Kennedy sent out a public letter to the governor and other leaders of his state asking them to revise that law, once again. To allow a temporary custodian to fill that seat provided that person agrees not to run. And then have, let the people decide supporting his Democratic credentials, let the voters decide.

But one of his last public acts, he wanted to make sure Massachusetts had a voice. We'll see what will happen on Beacon Hill now. With the legislature in Massachusetts exceed to Senator Kennedy's final request?

BLITZER: And I know there's been a lot of speculation over these past several months about Vicki, his wife, perhaps becoming or being interested in taking over that Senate seat. What are you hearing?

BEGALA: Right, well, every Democrat in Massachusetts, of course, reveres the Kennedy name and reveres particularly Teddy Kennedy. He's done so much for that state. I was struck I saw a statement in the newspaper from Mrs. Kennedy saying there is only one Senator Kennedy in this family. So perhaps she doesn't want it. But there are probably a whole lot of people who would like to see her. She's a remarkable person in her own right. She's been a really strong partner of his for many, many years.

BLTIZER: And very quickly Dana and then Gloria.

BASH: I was actually quite surprised when I asked that question last week a source close to Senator Kennedy, about Vicki and there was no wiggle room in the response. Definitely not was the response.

It won't stop people from trying, but it's kind of surprising, especially since as you all know, Paul, many of Senator Kennedy's races, in fact, importantly, his most toughest race against Mitt Romney for re-election. She was apparently incredibly involved in the strategy there.

BLITZER: The hard and fast statement, Gloria, like that, before his death is one thing, but after the death, it would have been perhaps unseemly to even speculate about Vicki Kennedy succeeding before but now that could change.

BORGER: Well, we don't know, Wolf, honestly. But you know, what we do know is that Vicki has always been a real political partner for Ted Kennedy in every way and campaigning next to him and, so, you know, it wouldn't be unheard of for her to think about running for that seat. But, again, we just don't know at this point.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. Senator Kennedy had a long and storied career as all of our viewers in the United States and around the world know during his 46 plus years he authored more than 2,500 bills, many of them landmark pieces of legislation. Among them, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he driving force behind the voting rights act a year later.

He was also a champion for health care reform in 1990, the Americans with Disability Act in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1997, he was behind the Children's Health Insurance Program, better known as C.H.I.P. that provides insurance for children of low- income families.

Let's go back to Heidi for more of our coverage. Heidi, I must say, it's a sad day here in Washington. I guess not only in Washington, but around the country and indeed around of the world.

COLLINS: Absolutely. No question about that, Wolf. A lot of stories to be told here over a very, very long career of public service, certainly, for Senator Ted Kennedy.

We will get back to that coverage, also have a lot of other news that we need to be bringing you on this day. Specifically, we want to get to the weather situation, because apparently there is a tropical disturbance that is building. Our Rob Marciano has his eye on it, tracking it, and we'll bring it to you in just a moment.


COLLINS: Let's take a moment to get over to the severe weather center. Rob Marciano is standing by talking about some activity in the tropics, I guess, what did you say? North of Puerto Rico?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, north of Puerto Rico, actually north of Hispaniola heading towards the Bahamas. Officially about 400 miles east of Nassau. So, heading in that general direction and more with a northerly component to it and it has kind of similar, wants to take a similar path as Bill. Will it do that? We'll just have to wait and see. So, here it is. Obviously, this cloud mass.

This is a tropical wave. Yesterday, they sent a hurricane hunter aircraft into it, and they did not find a close circulation so they did not name it, mark it as a tropical depression, or name it as a tropical storm. If that were to happen, it becomes Tropical Storm Danny, our fourth storm of the season. And they've got another plane en route today and their latest words at the NHC is that it looks pretty good. And they'll likely name it or at least mark it as a tropical depression later on today.

All right. What is it going to do after that? Some of our computer models, again, if you want to take in the similar route to Bill, but notice that it's a little bit closer to the coastline than Bill was. Matter of fact, some of our more detailed computers latest runs take it markedly close. So each one of these lines is one of the computers that is forecasting this thing. Notice that they are more close to the U.S. than Bill was to Bermuda.

So, we'll have to wait a little bit longer. Once this thing becomes a tropical depression, becomes a tropical storm, we get more aircraft data coming into this. Our model is getting a little bit more clustered as they did with Bill.

But right now, obviously, folks who live on the coastline of the Carolinas, the East Coast, Cape Cod certainly have to pay close attention to what may very well become tropical storm Danny by the end of the day. We'll let you know as information comes in to us and as the plane sends in data back to Miami.

COLLINS: All right. Very good, Rob. Let us know if we need to come back to you. Thank you.

MARCIANO: You got it.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, past allegations of domestic violence against singer Chris Brown just now coming to light as he is sentenced for attacking Rihanna. Plus more of our coverage of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy in just a moment.


COLLINS: As we continue to remember Senator Ted Kennedy this morning, let's get you a look now at some of the other top stories today.

Florida's ban against gay couples adopting is being reviewed by a state's appeal court today. Back in November, a Miami judge ruled against the ban saying it's unconstitutional, but attorneys behind the appeal say state lawmakers should be allowed to decide the matter. Five years probation for R&B star Chris Brown for assaulting fellow singer Rihanna back in February. The judge also sentenced him to 1,400 hours of service and a probation report now shows two other incidents between the singers. Report says Rihanna once slapped Brown and he pushed her back. At a later time, Brown allegedly broke car windows after an argument they had.

And the space shuttle "Discovery" didn't blast off into orbit as planned. NASA scrubbed another launch yesterday because of a faulty hydrogen valve. It's the second scrub launch in two days. They'll try another launch early Friday morning.

Meanwhile, dozens of wildfires that rage in Greece, we have been showing you some pretty unbelievable pictures, have finally been put or at least contained. The largest blaze devoured areas near the capital of Athens burning 80 square miles and forcing some 20,000 people to evacuate. Initial estimates indicate up to 60 homes were destroyed and others damaged. Officials still don't know the cause of those fires and only minor injuries, though, have been reported.

Senator Ted Kennedy, an icon in American politics. His work on the international level was sometimes overlooked but today we are getting reaction to his death from all around the world.


COLLINS: As we continue to remember the very, very long career of Senator Ted Kennedy, we want to bring in Wolf Blitzer from Washington this morning who has been part of our coverage all morning long. Wolf, so much to talk about here. More than 40 years of public service.

BLITZER: A great senator, even his political adversaries, his critics suggested that he was a great senator, indeed. The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, is getting ready to speak. He is over at the Department of Energy and we're going to go there and hear what Joe Biden has to say.

Joe Biden one of Senator Kennedy's best friends in the United States Senate. I know that this is a deep, deep loss for Joe Biden and here he is at the microphone Stephen Chiu, the energy secretary just introduced him. Let's listen to the vice president.

BIDEN: Mr. Secretary, thank you and your staff for the privilege of being with you today on what, as I prepared last night was to be a joyous occasion announcing another step in the direction of energy independence and you said the president made a wise choice. The wisest choice the president made was asking you to be -- I mean this sincerely -- to be the secretary of the Department of Energy.

You've assembled a first-rate staff and you've taken on a role that is going to be, is going to, in large part, determine the success of these next three and a half years. Whether or not we make a genuine dent, genuine progress in moving towards an energy policy that can help America lead the world in the 21st century as it did in the 20th century. Some suggest we're trying to do too much. But my response is, is there any possibility of America leading the world in the 21st century without a radically altered energy policy. It is not possible. That charge has been given to one of the most remarkable men to serve it in a president's cabinet, the Nobel laureate who is as articulate as he is obviously bright and a man who has assembled a staff that can coral a bureaucracy and we all deal with bureaucracies. We're all part of it in a way that I haven't seen in a while.

So, I had planned on speaking to the Clean City's program as one of the several initiatives we have to begin to reshape our energy policy. But as if Teddy were here, as we would say in the Senate, if you excuse a person of privilege, I, quite frankly, think it's -- it would be inappropriate for me to dwell too much on the initiative that we're announcing today. And not speak to my friend.

And my wife, Jill and my sons Bo and Hunter and my daughter, Ashley -- and I don't say that lightly because they all knew Teddy. He did something personal and special for each one of them in their lives. Truly, truly our distress by his passing and our hearts go out to Teddy Jr. and Patrick and Karen and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning and the whole Kennedy family.

You know, Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. And for 36 years I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally not figuratively sitting next to him. And being a witness to history. Every single day the Senate was in session I sat with him on the Senate floor in the same aisle. I sat with him in the judiciary committee next, physically next to him and I sat with him in the caucuses and it was in that process.

Every day I was with him, and this is going to sound strange, but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what this country could do. He and I were talking after his diagnosis and I said, you know, I think you're the only other person I've met, who, like me, is more optimistic and more enthusiastic, more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years (INAUDIBLE) elected.

He was 30 years old when elected; I was 29 years old. And you would think that would be the peak of our idealism, but I genuinely feel more optimistic about the prospects for my country today than I have at any time in my life. And it was infectious when you were with him. You could see it, those of you who knew him and those who didn't know him. You could just see it in the nature of his debate, in the nature of his embrace, in the nature of how he every single day attacked these problems.

And, you know, he was never defeatist. He never was petty. Never was petty. He was never small. And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger. Both his adversaries as well as his allies. Don't you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan liberal men in the last century serving in the Senate -- could so many of his -- so many of his foes embrace him? Because they know he made them bigger. He made them more graceful. For the way in which he conducted himself. You know, he changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans. In the literal sense, literally, literally changed their circumstances. He changed, also, another aspect that I observed about him. He changed not only their physical circumstance, he changed how they looked at themselves. And how they looked at one another.

That's a remarkable -- a remarkable contribution for any man or woman to make. For the hundreds if not thousands of us who got to know him personally he -- he actually -- how can I say it? He altered our lives, as well. Through the grace of God and an accident of history, I was privileged to be one of those people.

And every important event in my adult life as I looked back this morning and talking to Vicki, every single one, he was there. He was there to encourage, to council, to be empathetic, to lift up. From 1972 as a 29-year-old kid with three weeks left to go in a campaign, him showing up at the Delaware Armory in the middle of what we call Little Italy. We never voted nationally for a Democrat. I won by 3,100 votes and got 85 percent of the vote in that district or something to that effect.

I literally would not be standing here were it not for Teddy Kennedy. Not figuratively, it's not hyperbole. Literally. He was there. He stood with me when my wife and daughter were killed in an accident. He was on the phone with me literally every day in the hospital. My two children were tempting (ph) and, God willing -- God -- thankfully, survived very serious injuries. I'd turn around and there would be some specialist from Massachusetts, a doc that I never even asked for literally sitting in the room with me.

You know, it's not just me that he affected like that. It's hundreds upon hundreds of people. I was talking with Vicki this morning and she said, "He was ready to go, Joe." But we were not ready to let him go. He's left a great void in our public life and a hole in the hearts of millions of Americans and hundreds of us who were affected by his personal touch throughout our lives. People like me who came to rely on him. He was kind of like an anchor.

And unlike many important people in my 38 years I've had the privilege of knowing, the unique thing about Teddy was it was never about him. It was always about you. It was never about him. With the people I admire, great women and men, at the end of the day, it comes down to being about them. With Teddy, it was never about him.

Well, today we lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I don't think we shall ever see his like again. But I think the legacy he left was not just in the landmark legislation he passed, but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another.

I apologize for -- for us not being able to go into more details about the energy bill, but I just think for me, at least, it was inappropriate today. And I'm sure there will be much more that will be said about my friend and your friend. But -- he changed the political landscape for almost half a century. I just hope we say blightly, you know, we'll remember what he did, I just hope we remember how he treated other people. And how he made other people look at themselves and look at one another. That will be the truly fundamental, unifying legacy of Teddy Kennedy's life if that happens. And it will for a while, at least in the Senate.

Mr. Secretary, you and your staff are doing an incredible job. I look forward to coming back at a happier moment when you are announcing even more consequential progress toward putting this back into position, where, once again, to control our own economic destiny. Thank you all, very, very much.


BLITZER: The vice president of the United States choking back tears. Clearly, very emotionally moved by the passing of his long- time friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. Our coverage will continue right after this.


BLITZER: The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, was one of the first world leaders to express his deep condolences to the family of Senator Ted Kennedy. Five months ago, before a joint session of Congress, Brown announced that Kennedy had been awarded an honorary knighthead.


GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know you will allow me to single out special mention today. one of your most distinguished senators. Known in every continent and a great friend.

Northern Ireland today is at peace. More Americans have health care. Children around the world are going to school. And for all those things, we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy.



BLITZER: Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us now live from Number 10 Downing Street in London. A lot of people, Nic, are focusing on his domestic achievements. But in the area of international affairs, he was very influential, especially in Ireland.

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That is going to be his legacy here in Britain, Wolf. We've heard from many politicians today of different stripes praising Senator Kennedy, and perhaps the turning point for him and his involvement in northern Ireland came in 1994 when he persuaded then-president Bill Clinton that he should give a visa that would boost the profile of the then-IRA political leader Gerry Adams. Give him a U.S. visa. That was 1994. Within a few months, there was an IRA cease-fire, and that led within four years to the 1998 peace process in northern Ireland. And, really, that's why Senator Kennedy is captivating people's attention and imagination here and in northern Ireland. And in 1998, the British prime minister then was Tony Blair, and we heard from him today, saying that -- that Senator Kennedy was very committed to northern Ireland, understood what it took to bring peace and praised his role in helping achieve that peace agreement.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: He was a remarkable man. I mean, I got to know him principally over at the peace negotiations in northern Ireland, and he played an extraordinary contribution over a number of years. But he was a true pioneer of progressive politics and the breadth and depth and scope of his commitment won him friends. Not just in America, obviously, but worldwide. He was a genuine icon to many people and I -- I got to know him quite well, actually. I thought he was also a man for all his position and all his authority and all his fame...


ROBERTSON: Well, for the Irish politicians in northern Ireland, Senator Kennedy was really a beacon of hope and an inspiration and we heard from them today. John Hume (ph) a nationalist politician, later won the Nobel Peace Prize with other northern Ireland politicians, came out with his praise, singling out the fact that Senator Kennedy had really internationalized what had become for the British, at least, a very British problem.


JOHN HUME, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE RECIPIENT: Ted Kennedy was a great friend of mine and great friend of Ireland as a whole. And a particular friend of our peace process. Because right on his agenda from the very beginning, where peace and justice in northern Ireland and created enormous international interest, and that international interest he created together with the like of Tip O'Neill, that put the pressure on the British government to come together with the Irish government.

Once upon a time, the British government would have argued that the northern Ireland problem was strictly a British problem, strictly United Kingdom. But it could only be solved because of the two loyalties in northern Ireland, Irish and British. And Ted Kennedy was the forefront in persuading to talk to the Irish government and to get together with the Irish government in order to solve the northern Ireland problem.


ROBERTSON: Of course, there are politicians here in Britain that look upon the knighthood given to Senator Kennedy and something, really, that shouldn't have happened. The conservative politicians, part of Margaret Thatcher's early 1980s, early 1990s, government here with the targets of the IRA, and they look upon some of Senator Kennedy's politics at the time in the 1980s as being particularly partisan, pro-Catholic, pro-republican -- Irish republicanism, if you will at the time.

But right now, he is being remembered very much for helping bring what Britain really needed in the 1990s. That northern Ireland peace.

BLITZER: He's being remembered not only here in the United States, Nic, but around the world. Nic Robertson joining us from London.

This important reminder to our viewers. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN will air HBO's acclaimed documentary, "Teddy In His Own Words." A chronicle of Senator Kennedy's life his childhood through the speech at the 2008 Democratic convention. Also includes rarely archived footage. That is HBO's "Teddy In His Own Words" tonight 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I think you'll want to see this. This is a really, really amazing documentary. Let's go back to Heidi. Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, Wolf, I think a lot of people will watch that tonight. I'm interested, too, in the books. Obviously, he wrote "America Back on Track" a little while ago. Health care and national security and all these different issues he spoke abotu.

But apparently, there is another book that is about to be released, and I don't have the exact time of that where he has written a memoir. So I imagine now that after his passing there will be certainly a lot of people very interested in that, as well. We'll continue to talk about Senator Ted Kennedy and his passing today.

Meanwhile, want to get you other news that is happening all across the world. In fact, a massive truck bombing kills 43 people in southern Afghanistan. Right now, rescue teams searching through the debris trying to find more wounded. We'll take a look at some of those stories when we're back in the CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.


COLLINS: A massive bombing in Afghanistan killed 43 people and wounded at least75 others. It went off in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan's largest city. The Red Cross says one of its workers is among the dead. Search and rescue teams are still trying to find any wounded people buried in the rubble left behind. The explosion came from remote-controlled explosives planted in a truck.

New results are being reported this morning in the Afghan presidential election, and it's positive news for incumbent president Hamid Karzai. Let's get right to our Atia Abawi who is joining us from Kabul, Afghanistan. What is this all about?

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing now, Heidi, is that 17 percent of those votes have been counted from various provinces, and so far, President Karzai, the incumbent in the lead with taking around 442,000 out of a million votes.

His rival, Dr. Abdullah below him with less -- more than 100,000 less votes than President Karzai. Yesterday, we only saw a 10,000 gap between the two and as the days go by, we expect that gap to increase.

And President Karzai -- the provinces that have been counted when you look deep in the numbers, the provinces we expected President Karzai to get, those ballots haven't even been counted yet. The areas that have been counted, such as (INAUDIBLE) Province, these are areas that support Dr. Abdullah. Well over 60 percent of those votes counted.

Again, the Afghan president here needing (ph) at least 50 percent of the total votes, and it looks like it's going in President Karzai's way. Heidi?

COLLINS: Very, very interesting. All right. Atia, we'll continue to follow that story very closely here on CNN. Appreciate that live from Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning.

Meanwhile, good news seems to keep coming from the housing sector. The Commerce Department just issued its report. New home sales for the month of July.

CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here now with more details on this. Just in info. What is the deal? Is it really great news or just another little sliver?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: I think you have to say it is really great news but it is about the new home sales market, so it's a portion of the market, not the entire market. According to the Census Department in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, July new home sales jumped 9.6 percent to 433,000. This is sales of brand-new, spanking new houses out there. June's level was 395,000.

As you know, Heidi, this is good news, not just for the housing market but also for the broader economy because the housing industry can supply so many jobs. And then there's follow-on spending by consumers as they buy furniture and rugs and everything else that makes a new house go.

Other good news that has come recently about the housing market. Existing home sales and sales of homes already in the marketplace have been up for four consecutive months. And home prices up 3 percent in the three months ended in June. So, we're starting to get several pieces of data now pointing to what has to be viewed as a modest recovery in housing. The question, of course, is can we hang on to it? Will the numbers continue to show these improvements and, of course, we'll be watching all of that.

COLLINS: Yes, and I really like the number that you mentioned about home prices because, obviously, when we hear about the sales, we don't really have the info to coincide with how much those builders are having to knock off, you know, because they may not have gone at the price that they were hoping for, or do we have that information?

WILLIS: No, we don't. And, of course, as we seen prices decline across the marketplace, new home sales have gotten hit just as much. So, you have to figure that these prices are not what the builders would like to charge, but they're certainly getting obviously something for these prices.

Of course, affordability is also a factor here. It's improved, as well. Houses are more affordable, and that's good news for first- time buyers that want to get into this marketplace. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. Very good. Our personal finance editor, Gerri Willis. Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: We'll continue to follow the death of senator Ted Kennedy today as well as more stories across the world and right here in the U.S., because there are apparently more reported cases of suspected swine flu on college campuses. You're going to want to know about this. We've got the details coming up in a moment.


COLLINS: We are following this developing story concerning your health. There is word now of more suspected cases of swine flu on college campuses. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with the very latest on this.

So, is it true, there's kind of like a bull's eye heading towards college campuses?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, college campuses are the perfect storm for something like it. A lot of people in a relatively small space, dormitories, living, breathing, working together. So, it going to happen.

So, let me go run down what we know so far. And there are probably more cases than this, this is just what we have heard about. At Georgia Tech just today, we're hearing about 100 cases of suspected flu. They don't know if it's swine flu or not. At the University of Georgia, 58 cases of confirmed influenza, Type A, but they don't know if it's H1N1 or not. And at the University of Kansas, 118 people with flu-like symptoms.

And you can see their isolation room at the University of Kansas. They're sort of hard at work trying to get those sick kids isolated. You imagine, welcome to school, now go to a room and be by yourself.

COLLINS: Yes, because it's pretty important to point out, this is the beginning of the school year. Not a very fun thing have happen. Listen, if you're sick, how do you know whether or not it's swine flu? Can you waltz in and be tested? What's the scoop on that?

COHEN: I'll tell you what. I got an e-mail from my friend of mine saying, "Elizabeth, I have a headache, I have a fever, I feel awful. How would I know it's swine flu?" And I said, "Honey, you wouldn't." You wouldn't. You can't tell if you have swine flu.

COLLINS: That has to freak a lot of people out.

COHEN: It certainly is. But you know what? I think the important thing to remember is that you shouldn't freak out because, first of all, it could just be any kind of flu and, second of all, swine flu, for most people is not all that big of a deal. You're sick for three or four days, and then you're done. You're over it. You got to remember that. Got to remember that.

COLLINS: Yes, because there are only severe cases that then progress to these deaths that we talked about. Yesterday, there was that report that came out that said possibly, worse-case scenario, 30,000 to 90,000 deaths.

COHEN: Right. Exactly. So, if you have any flu, you should make sure you don't have any complications. Not just with swine flu, but any time you have flu.

COLLINS: Wash your hands, cough in your arm in the sleeve, right?

COHEN: Right. And isolate yourself.

COLLINS: Very good. All right. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Thank you, Elizabeth.

I'm Heidi Collins, CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Tony Harris after a quick break.