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Insane Killer Captured; Family in Naples, Florida Brutally Murdered; Presidential Media Blitz; Suspected Terror Plot Arrests; White House Pressuring Gov. Paterson to Quit?; After Outbursts, President Urges Civility; ACORN Getting Roasted; Rapper "Syko Sam" Suspected in 4 Killings

Aired September 20, 2009 - 22:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news. A dramatic capture of a legally insane killer on the run for three days.

Where is this man? And what does he know about the brutal murders of his wife and five children. An international search underway right now.

Investigators tell why they believe three newly arrested Afghan men living in the U.S. were planning to blow up Americans.

The president's media blitz may be causing Americans to tune him out on health care.

And why is Mr. Obama's administration meddling in New York's governor's race? One word -- Giuliani.

World enemies and allies all in the same room right here in the U.S. What happens this week when they meet at the United Nations?

Finally, a serious effort to stop the yelling and screaming in our country. A bipartisan call on CNN for a return to civility.

The first Hispanic to win the heavyweight title is still in fighting form. What this pioneer is up to now?

And stay tuned, the morning commute shaping up to long and nasty one for a whole lot of folks.

Good evening everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

We start with breaking news out of Washington State tonight. A dramatic end to an intense three-day manhunt. An escaped killer from a mental hospital has been captured. Phillip Paul went missing on Thursday while on an outing to a county fair with other patients. A short time ago, police announced Paul's capture about 250 miles from where he was last seen. Paul was acquitted by reason of insanity of killing an elderly woman in 1987.

Sergeant Dave Reagan is the public information officer with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. He joins us by phone.

It was a dramatic escape and a dramatic rescue -- or a dramatic, I should say, capture of this man about 250 miles. How did he get that far?

SGT. DAVE REAGAN, PIO, SPOKANE COUNTRY SHERIFF'S OFFICE (via telephone): Well, we received information that he had actually duped somebody into a ride down into the Goldendale area. And that person was able to give us at least a general sense of where he might be hiding.

I was told we're actually searching an area of about 1900 square acres. And we sent our helicopter down and detectives after judging it a credible tip. And they actually told me today that it was the -- it was the constant over flight of the helicopter that drove Paul out of the woods and into a failed attempt to hitch another ride.

LEMON: Was he armed when you found him? Or - because...

REAGAN: To the best of my knowledge, he was not.

LEMON: We know he had a backpack with clothing, but was he armed?

REAGAN: To the best of my knowledge, he was not armed at the time he was captured. When our -- when our detectives came upon him, he was standing in the middle of the roadway and trying to flag down a ride. And they took him very quickly into custody without incident.

LEMON: Have you been able to talk to him, and if so, what is he saying?

REAGAN: I really have not been in touch with our detectives -- our detectives that made the arrest down there in Goldendale. They all headed down there about 2:30 this morning, and so I'm sure that once they got him tucked away in jail, they're probably winding down. And we really haven't had much opportunity to communicate with them.

LEMON: As we understand, this is my last question to you, this wasn't his first escape. The last time that he escaped -- was it the same officer who found him this time?

REAGAN: Right. This whole incident has been somewhat bizarre from the beginning -- the fact that a group of criminally insane people were taken to a county fair for an outing, the fact that his escape wasn't reported for over two hours, the fact that he had escaped and assaulted one our deputies previously. That deputy at the time was Roger Knight.

Today's arrest was made by Detective Roger Knight who stepped up once he learned who had had escaped. He stepped up Thursday to lead our investigation, and it was he who made the arrest today. So I'm sure he's feeling pretty good.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Sergeant Dave Reagan from the Spokane Sheriff's Department.

The worst of the worst. That's how police in Naples, Florida describe the murder of an entire family. The oldest child was nine, the youngest, 11 months. No one has heard from the mother and five children since Thursday, so family members filed a missing person's report on Friday. Police found them brutally slain in their home late Saturday night. Tonight, they are searching for the father, Mesac Damas, who they say boarded a flight to Haiti on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF KEVIN RAMBOSK, COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are not going to get into the manner of death at this time due to the investigation ongoing. But I can tell you that in no uncertain terms this is the most horrific and violent event this community has ever experienced.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And police say domestic violence was reported at the home in the past.

Five one-on-one interviews, five different networks. President Obama today blanketed the Sunday morning talk shows, granting multiple interviews to try to break the stalemate in the nation's debate over health care.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry watched all the president's morning appearances and has the highlights.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, it's clear the president made some history, appearing on five Sunday talk shows in one fell swoop. What's still unclear is whether he changed any minds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice over): After uttering more than 10,000 words, one question remains -- did the president move the ball forward on health care?

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": But if the Baucus bill made it to your desk as is, would you sign it? Does it meet your goals?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that's such a hypothetical, since it won't get there as is, that I'm not going to answer that question.

But can I say that it does meet some broad goals, that all the bills that have been introduced meet.

HENRY: Bottom line -- the president still did not get very specific or break much new ground on health care. And he was confronted on a range of other tough issues, including the still sluggish economy.

OBAMA: The jobs picture is not going to improve considerably, and it could even get a little bit worse over the next couple of months. We're probably not going to start seeing enough job creation to deal with the rising population until sometime next year. HENRY: On Afghanistan, the public is getting anxious, but the president said he wants more time to sort out the strategy before deciding whether to send more troops.

OBAMA: There's a natural inclination to say if I get more, then I can do more. But right now the question is -- the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?

HENRY: As for health care, the president acknowledged it has not gone as planned.

OBAMA: During this whole health care debate, there have been times where I've said, you know...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK": Lost control?

OBAMA: Well, not so much lost control, but where I've said to myself, somehow I'm not breaking through.

HENRY: Top Republicans insist he still has not broken through, despite all the interviews and high profile speeches.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He can be on every news show until the end of time. If he doesn't get Republicans and Democrats in a room and get off TV, we'll never going to solve this problem.

HENRY: But asked about another Republican claiming they're winning the health battle, the president expressed confidence about the final stretch.

OBAMA: Well, you know, they were saying they're winning during the election, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: The president also said he believes the public option is still alive, but he was not adamant about the government-run insurance program surviving in the final negotiations - Don.

LEMON: All right. Ed, thank you very much.

So, was the president successful in refocusing the health care debate? April Ryan and Jay Dedapper will help us break it all down for you.

Also, there was an alleged bomb plot and coordinated effort to mislead the FBI. Now, we're finding out more about the suspects arrested this weekend and the terror investigation.

And civility now after a week of headlines dominated by people's bad behavior. We're digging deeper to see if all this outrage could help us change.

And check us out on the social networking sites. Tonight, we're taking your comments. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And let's talk more now about the president's Sunday morning media blitz and his upcoming trip to the United Nations.

April Ryan is in Owings Mills, Maryland tonight. She is the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. And Jay Dedapper in New York. He's a veteran political reporter and a man behind Jaydedapper.com.

Thanks to both of you. Good to see.

So, April, we'll start with you. Americans saw a whole lot of the president this weekend, especially today. There's so much, you know, I guess, exposure, help or hurt his case on health care. I mean, do people just tune out when they see him on so much?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKKS: Some people may tune out, but the White House wants to make sure that this is about a winning picture, with all of the back and forth and Republicans coming out with their stand and sometimes saying they're winning such and such.

The president wants to make sure he is showing America he's still in control. Five networks on Sunday morning shows. That was historic. They're always pushing the envelope and they pushed it today. It was risky, but they did it. And they wanted to show, again, a winning picture, the president is in control of health care reform.

LEMON: Well, you know what, Jay, the president did get a bump after his speech just about two weeks ago, yet, you know, he's still finding it necessary to blanket the air waves, an indication, you know, that the White House is struggling on this issue.

JAY DEDAPPER, POLITICAL REPORTER, JAYDEDAPPER.COM: Yes. Well, I think -- you raise the question of overexposure. I think his problem has been underexposure on this issue. He is the best spokesman for the Obama administration. He is the master communicator.

And for the Republicans, to be able to get traction on this was a failure on his part to deliver the message that he had. I mean, he is this great communicator and he failed to communicate it.

These audiences are not very big on Sunday morning shows. Let's not pretend that he's getting an Academy award style audience here across five shows. He's talking to opinion leaders, so he's making a show. And this show is that he's in charge, as April points out.

And I think that's important. I don't think an awful lot of Americans picked up on that and saw all of these interviews or most of these interviews. Every newscast in America covered something from these shows and that's important.

LEMON: So this is more about...

RYAN: He wasn't on Fox today.

LEMON: This is more about politicos and people who are, you know, political junkies more than the average American who tune into shows.

So, April, let's turn the focus now. I know we could talk about this all night. But turn the focus now to next week, because some of Mr. Obama's and America's biggest allies and adversaries are all in New York at the same time at the U.N.

What's at stake here?

RYAN: Well, first of all, what's at stake is America's security. The president -- this is his first time as president at the U.N. General Assembly session. He wants to engage that world body in particularly to help keep America safe. Issues up in the air, issues about threats with nuclear weapons, facilities -- nuclear facilities that are poorly guarded. Also, terrorism, al Qaeda, things of that nature. And those are some of the hot points that he wants to tackle at this assembly session.

LEMON: All right. April, Jay, stick around. We still have a whole lot more to talk to, especially when it comes to the governor's race in New York and why some say the administration is meddling in that. We'll talk about that.

Investigators tell why they believe three newly arrested Afghan men living in the U.S. were planning to blow up Americans.

Also, New York Governor David Paterson feeling the pressure to not run for governor in 2010. We'll tell you by whom. That was a giveaway a little bit.

And later, growing up in a poor, crime-infested neighborhood in Massachusetts. John Ruiz looked for a way out. He found it in a gym. He's a "pionero," a Latino first. And we'll talk to him about his journey into history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let's talk terror now. Three men arrested late last night, two in Colorado, the other in New York. They're due in federal courtrooms tomorrow. It's part a terror investigation that stretches from New York to Colorado and all the way to Pakistan.

Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve updates this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan national who's been the focal point of this terror probe, was arrested at his home outside Denver Saturday night along with his father, Mohammed Zazi. The owner of this Muslim burial service in Queens, New York, Ahmad Afzali, was the third taken into custody.

All are charged with making false statements to the FBI during a terror investigation.

Court documents reveal no details about the timing or targeting of the alleged explosives plot, but they alleged that Najibullah Zazi lied about nine pages of detailed bomb-making instructions found on his computer.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: The FBI had taken his computer, had mirrored it, had copied it and put it back in his car. Mr. Zazi did not know that that happened apparently. So, when he was questioned about whether or not he knew anything about these written notes that were showed to him, he denied that knowledge.

MESERVE: The court documents also allege that Najibullah Zazi admitted getting explosives and weapons training at al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. But Zazi and his lawyer claimed Saturday he had not made such an admission.

Experts say that charges were filed to pressure the men into cooperating with the ongoing investigation of Najibullah Zazi.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: What direction is he getting from al Qaeda members in the federally administered tribal areas in addition to the training that he got?

Secondly, who else has he communicated with here in the United States? Obviously, the government has some idea of who that is based on their surveillance, both electronic and physical. But what they want to do is make sure they've identified the entire net, the whole range of conspirators.

MESERVE: In Queens, New York where one of the arrests took place, a member of the Muslim community expressed surprise the alleged plot had come to light now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the end of Ramadan. People are more humble. People are more religious. It would be very hard for me to imagine people would be doing wrong deeds during that month, especially at that time of the year.

MESERVE: Experts say it's possible, even probable, that additional charges will be brought, and they say it's likely the government revealed as little as possible in these first charges as it shores up its case and continues its investigation in the U.S., Pakistan and elsewhere.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Denver.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Jeanne. This alleged terror plot is raising some troubling questions. So, we want to talk about it now with Clark Kent Ervin. He is a former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. He joins us tonight from Washington.

Good to see you. Listen, so far, in this -- all that's been said is making false statements to investigators. There are no charges of terrorism here. They're expected in court tomorrow. Do you expect those charges to will possibly change then?

CLARK KENT ERVIN, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Absolutely, Don. I think it is, as Jeanne said probable that we'll see some charges of terrorism. It appears that they've been very methodical gathering evidence here. And these charges allowed to hold them until such time that they've got sufficient evidence to charge them with terrorism.

LEMON: OK. Then, if there are additional charges, what about additional arrests?

ERVIN: It appears that there will be additional arrests. This is an ongoing investigation. They're scouring this country, Pakistan, perhaps other countries as well. So, I think we're just at the tip of an iceberg.

LEMON: All right. Lots of talk about ties to al Qaeda. What about Zazi's reported ties to al Qaeda?

ERVIN: Well, I think it's very serious. You know, it's striking to me that this case is breaking almost exactly a week after 9/11. And it underscores that even though we've begun to be complacent in this country about the possibility of another 9/11, the terrorists are still plotting against us.

I think it also shows why Afghanistan matters. You know, the president is right now in the midst of debate about whether to increase troop levels there. A lot of people question whether the Afghan war is worth fighting. And this shows that it is. These three men are Afghans. It's the first time, I believe, that we've had a terror plot here in the United States that appears to be hatched by Afghans.

LEMON: Here's the thing, Mr. Ervin. If it is, indeed, a plot that was broken up, we may never know just how big and how expansive it is because they stopped it early on.

What do you think about this? Do you think it was a huge plot? Is this the beginning of something that's going to get bigger and bigger and bigger?

ERVIN: Well, all indications point to that, Don. But the point that you raised, an important one, there's always a balance that the FBI has to strike between acting too quickly before all arrests can be made, the plot is fully uncovered and acting so slowly that the plot is not foiled and people die.

In this case, I think they did exactly the right thing.

LEMON: All right. Clark Kent Ervin, inspector general -- former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, we appreciate you taking time out of your Sunday night to come join us here.

ERVIN: Thank you.

New York's embattled governor is feeling the heat over his plans to run for a full term.

Also, civil or more accurately uncivil discourse on Capitol Hill, at award shows and on the tennis court, really all over America. What is going on here and when did we get so rude?

And homeward bound, space shuttle Discovery hitches a ride across country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. We are a long way from the next election and the results are hardly scientific, but former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a current favorite among conservatives who attended this weekend's Values Voter Summit. Huckabee won the presidential straw poll with about 29 percent of the vote.

That's him addressing a conference -- conference-goers on Friday.

Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence and Mitt Romney shared second place, all receiving roughly 12 percent.

Romney told the group that the people who spoke out at the town halls last month -- last week as well, making a big difference in the fight for conservative causes.

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Thanks to millions of Americans who stepped up in town halls and tea parties across this country. He is not going to get his way. The Democrats call those folks a mob, crazies, trash, even worse. I call them patriots. Thanks for their voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Sarah Palin is the only one of the top five finishers in the straw poll who did not address the values summit.

New York Governor David Paterson says he's in the race to keep his office no matter what the White House wants. The Democrat inherited the seat just 18 months ago after a sex scandal forced Eliot Spitzer from the governor's office.

Paterson's approval ratings have been hovering around 20 percent, and President Obama's political team reportedly has asked him to abandon the race. The governor won't go into detail about those conversations saying only that his campaign is still a go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: I'm not talking about any specific conversations. As I said, I am running for office. I'm not going to discuss confidential conversations. The most important issue I'm kind of focused on for the next month and this is what I've told everybody in every conversation is the unprecedented deficit that we have mid year, and that we have the fewest means to address it. And I've got to get the legislation in Albany hopefully without any distraction to alleviate it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. Let's bring back Jay Dedapper with JayDedapper.com and April Ryan, White House correspondent with American Urban Radio Networks.

And you know, Jay, you covered politics in New York for a very long time, so you know the ins and outs on this story. So, it's really -- it has to do with Giuliani, but does it have more to do with Chuck Schumer.

DEDAPPER: It has to do with both of them. My reporting is that Chuck Schumer is the man behind the Obama move to, through an intermediary, ask the governor of New York to not run for re-election in 2010. The reason is -- his poll numbers are in the dumpster and they have been for six months, they haven't been going up.

The danger to the bigger picture, to why the White House would be interested in this, is that the top of the ticket could drag down another senator in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. She has not been in office very long. She's not necessary all that popular yet. She hasn't had an opportunity to raise her profile.

If she were to lose to a Republican in this state, the 60 filibuster-proof majority in the Senate could disappear, and it could disappear in New York. The blues to blue states. The White House doesn't want that to happen. Chuck Schumer doesn't want that to happen.

LEMON: And April, this is -- they think that Andrew Cuomo is probably -- the attorney general there -- is probably the best candidate to run for governor, and in most of the polls, he beats Rudy Giuliani handily.

RYAN: Yes, and -- but what's happening is and what I'm hearing from my sources in New York and in Washington, according to the White House -- the White House has said that they are not getting involved in this, but it is up to Governor Paterson to determine if he is indeed going to run.

Now what I'm hearing is that the president is not going to endorse Paterson. This is out of New York from what I'm hearing, and the White House, again, is denying this.

But Andrew Cuomo, sources in New York are saying it's really kind of a race issue. And the question is, will Andrew Cuomo jump into the race because he ran against an African-American before, and the question is, you know, why is he running if he does run, decide to run this time, why would he run against another African-American? And he needs that critical black vote in New York if indeed he goes to the general election.

LEMON: Hey, Jay, a New Yorker, fill us in yet.

DEDAPPER: Well, April is absolutely right, that Andrew Cuomo can't run against David Paterson unless he has cover to do so from a major African-American. I've written that -- many people have written that over the last eight months.

Well, Obama, you know, pretty much fits that bill. But I think there needs to be another shoe to drop. I think somebody like a Charlie Rangel here in New York or somebody like that, maybe even his father, Basil Paterson, David Paterson's father, who, in Basil Paterson, a prominent man in civic affairs and politics in New York.

One of them needs to take him aside, and once that happens, I think that he could pull out.

Al Sharpton, very notable, Al Sharpton did not come out supporting him today. He simply said that what he is doing is trying to bridge the gap. That, I think, is telling.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: One of my sources in New York did say they wanted to talk to Paterson and this person is a high-ranking political leader in New York (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: I want to get this in, guys, before we have to move on because there could be fireworks tomorrow when David Paterson, the president and also Andrew Cuomo -- Jay -- will be in the same room.

DEDAPPER: They're all going to be on the same stage up in Troy. It's an economic development announcement. But I don't know that economic development is what anybody is going to be looking at. Look for those awkward moments between the governor, the president and Andrew Cuomo tomorrow.

LEMON: All right.

RYAN: Watching the president and knowing him as I know him for the last eight months, he's going to make the perfect speech and he's going to ease all tensions for the moment.

LEMON: Good television. Let's hope it flies.

RYAN: We'll watch.

LEMON: All right. Thank you guys. I really appreciate it.

You know, this week I sat down with New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson. He, too, had a comment on the controversy surrounding all of this talk that we've been talking about, Congressman Joe Wilson and President Carter's reaction to it. We're talking about civility here. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (on camera): The comment about illegal immigration sparked the "you lie" which then sparked some people are, you know, may have racial undertones.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, that was a double whammy for me, the disrespect to a president that I like and admire, and then also the illusion to illegal immigrants. The health care bill does not cover illegal immigrants. As a governor, I know that firsthand. I think we need immigration reform, and I hope the president takes it up soon because this is another divisive issue that potentially has some racial overtones.

But it upset me twice as badly because of the reference to illegal immigration, which there is no coverage of illegal immigrants. Everybody knows that. I don't know why this congressman was trying to raise this issue in such a disrespectful way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Governor Richardson in his own words, you can see and we know he does not hold back, so next Sunday night on CNN, you'll hear about the governor's journey from childhood to being the first major Hispanic presidential candidate. He also opens up about his family and his damaged relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

And as a good segue to this -- Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Serena Williams, three big names making headlines for their bad behavior.

But what do their actions and our reactions say about them and about us? Could all this bad behavior be a catalyst for change?

And the ACORN outrage reaches the White House as the president weighs in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Bite your lip and mind your manners. These famous faces could have used that advice over the last few weeks -- Congressman Joe Wilson, singer Kanye West, tennis champ Serena Williams and others. They're outbursts have made for quite a few uncomfortable moments.

So, what's encouraging these tantrums? President Obama says it's all for the spotlight and spectacle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You know, and the other thing I've got to say is that I think it's important for the media, you know, not to do any media bashing here, to recognize that right now in this 24-hour news cycle, the easiest way to get on CNN or Fox or any of the other stations, MSNBC, is to just say something rude and outrageous.

If you're civil and polite and you're sensible and you don't exaggerate the bad things about your opponent, you know, you might maybe get on one of the Sunday morning shows, but you're not going to -- you're not going to be on the loop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So does the president have a point?

Well, let's get to our panel to break it down. We have some guests from the Civility Project, Mark DeMoss, he's in Atlanta, Lanny Davis is in D.C., and in Owings Mills, Maryland, we have P.M. Forni, the author of "Civility Solution."

Appreciate all of you joining us. You know, there's been much talk -- let's get to this and then get out of the way so we can talk that this was based in -- some of it, not all of it -- may have been based in race, and that's why people felt that they could yell at the president or have some of these signs.

Do you think it's based more in civility rather than race? I'll start with you, Mr. Forni.

P.M. FORNI, CO-FOUNDER, JOHNS HOPKINS CIVILITY PROJECT: I think that it's very difficult to determine. I think that there are fringes of people that probably for whom the race component is predominant, but I think that in America at large, the society at large, I think it was just a matter of bad manners and of incivility.

LEMON: Yes. That's exactly what your book is about.

OK. Mark DeMoss and Lanny Davis, you two -- who would have thought that you two would have ever gotten together to do this. And even some conservatives, some of them worked for former President Bill Clinton. How do you think you can help the Civility Project and getting people on the same page to get something done rather than yelling at each other?

Lenny, you start first.

LANNY DAVIS, THE CIVILITY PROJECT: I would prefer to start with Mark because he's my leader.

LEMON: Mark, why don't we do that? If he's your leader, we'll go with Mark and then we'll come to you. And go ahead, Mark.

MARK DEMOSS, THE DEMOSS GROUP: Well, Lanny and I became really became friends around a passion for this subject of civility. I have written Lanny a letter a year ago just to encourage him and commend him for what I thought was a very -- always a civil, respectful approach to people, whether or not he agreed with them. And I followed up about six months later and went to see him in Washington and we met for the first time and became wonderful friends.

LEMON: Do you think this can make a difference? Do you think people will listen to you? Because, as the president said, unless you make some sort of a spectacle or yelling or screaming, doesn't appear that you get anything done or anyone pays attention to you.

DEMOSS: Well, this segment that we're doing right now, notwithstanding, I actually agree -- tend to agree with what the president said. It is -- there aren't a lot of forums for the discussion we're having right now. And If anyone one of us tonight said something ugly or bombastic, we'll be on a lot of shows tomorrow. And I don't think any of us want to do that.

So --but I think we're making a little difference. You know, I'm just trying to encourage some discussion, some debate, and hope that we can win debates based on the strength of words and ideas and not based on our decibel level.

LEMON: And Mark, you know, I mean, Lanny, Mark, does makes a point because you don't end up in the paper, on television or on a blog or what have you saying, oh, there was a very civil discussion last night on CNN about the outrage in the company -- in the country. What you'll hear is, oh, this person said this and this person called this person that. Talk to me about that.

DAVIS: Well, I always start out saying I disagree with someone rather than starting out with the word you and accusing somebody of something. And that sometimes doesn't make great TV entertainment when you're not throwing food at someone.

But it also informs debate when two people with clashing ideas actually may contribute to people watching and thinking through an issue.

I also want to say that I'm very disappointed with a Georgian named Jimmy Carter who, since he left the presidency, has been a great example of doing good works, even though his virulent anti-Israel attitude has marred those good works.

But for him to weigh in and attribute motives to some of these folks who are genuinely angry about the economy and other issues, Jimmy Carter needs to apologize and Barack Obama has criticized a former president. I think Jimmy Carter really shamefully contributed to what we would call in-civil dialogue here.

LEMON: I have to say that that's probably going to make news right there, Lanny, that you did say that.

DAVIS: I'm a great fan of Jimmy Carter's; I have been for a long time. Aside from his anti-Israel behavior, I'm been a great fan of what he's done so much good around the world. And for him to inflame what should have been a civil debate by injecting race, and Barack Obama really smacking him down for it, which I found to be amazing, is something Jimmy Carter needs to think about.

LEMON: Lanny, we'll have to leave it -- that part of the conversation there, because the former president is not here to defend himself. But I think Mr. Forni wants to get in on this. And if you do, can you end by telling us what is the -- what's the first step here, Mr. Forni?

FORNI: Well, I wanted to say that in everyday life it pays to be considerate and kind. Can we make people listen to us by yelling and screaming in everyday life? Yes, but for five minutes. Then, in the long run, what wins -- what really wins the day is when we are perceived as having poise, having -- emanating an aura of power and repose, of being considerate people. And so, I'm not so pessimistic.

Also, the recipe, if there is one, for where to go from here, is in my opinion to be serious and going back to teaching good manners in the family and reinforcing that in the schools, making the teaching of good manners which is a training in sensitivity, which is giving our children the training of altruism in the schools as part of the curriculum.

LEMON: All right. That's good. We'll end it right there. I appreciate all of you joining us tonight for a very civil discussion about what's going on in the country. Mark DeMoss, Lanny Davis and also P.M Forni, we appreciate it.

DEMOSS: Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

FORNI: Good evening.

LEMON: He is known as a quiet man, but he does have a lot of knowledge about boxing and he's talking about the boxing ring as well. We'll meet a man who overcame the odds to become the first Hispanic to hold a world heavyweight boxing title.

And ACORN is getting roasted. Why even the president is talking about the undercover video of employees giving tax tips to a fake pimp and prostitute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: An aspiring young rapper from California who used the stage name Syko Sam in horrified killing is in custody tonight in Virginia. So far 20-year-old Richard McCroskey has been charged with the murder of a local minister. But police say he'll probably be charged with three more murders once those bodies are identified. Police believe McCroskey had met the minister's daughter on MySpace and then came to visit. McCroskey was arrested at the Richmond Airport awaiting a flight back to California.

President Barack Obama wants to know what's going on at ACORN. He says he has seen the tape of employees giving tax advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute. While he's backing an investigation of the community organizing group, he says it's not topping his to-do list.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Frankly, it's not really something I've followed closely. I didn't even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK": The Senate and the House have voted to cut it off.

OBAMA: You know, what I know is that what I saw on that video was certainly inappropriate and deserves to be...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're not committing to cut off the federal funding.

OBAMA: George, this is not the biggest issue facing the country. It's not something I'm paying a lot of attention to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the scandal is getting lots of attention from ACORN CEO. She is vowing to clean house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERTHA LEWIS, CEO, ACORN: I was outraged by it, everyone should be, and I can understand how the Congress was also.

LEMON: Bertha Lewis plans to announce details of an independent investigation tomorrow, but critics wants to dig even deeper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: We asked them today if they would bring in an Ernst and Young or Price Waterhouse auditors. One of the committee's biggest challenges is there are so many corporations. They are unaudited, and their own internal review by their consul showed that they don't have the firewalls to keep federal dollars from being used for other purposes, including campaign-related activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Fraud cases involving ACORN workers are already pending stemming from a voter registration scandal.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans crowd Havana's Revolution Square for a "Peace without Borders" concert. We'll show you how Miami's Cuban community reacted to it.

And later, growing up in a poor, crime-infested neighborhood in Massachusetts, John Ruiz looked for a way out. He found it in a gym. He's a pionero, Latino first.

We'll talk to him about his journey into history.

There he is, the champ.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A sea of people packed Revolution Square today in Havana for a "Peace without Borders" concert, but the reaction in Miami hasn't been entirely peaceful. Exile Cubans protested in the streets. Columbian singer and concert organizer, Juanes, says he's received death threats over the concert via Twitter. Some Cuban exiles in Florida call the concert a declaration of war. And he also says he meant to connect isolated Cubans with the rest of region, including the United States.

All right. Right here on CNN, we are profiling Latinos who overcame obstacles and shattered stereotypes to make history. It's part of our series "Pioneros: Latinos First."

John Ruiz certainly fits that mold. He started boxing at the age of 7 and used the sport to escape his impoverished neighborhood in Massachusetts. Known as the quite man, we hope he's not quiet tonight. Ruiz defeated Evander Holyfield in 2001 to become the first Hispanic world heavyweight boxing champion.

John Ruiz joins us tonight from Las Vegas.

Thank you, sir.

JOHN RUIZ, FIRST HISPANIC WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: It's my pleasure.

LEMON: You're a young man of 38 now. You've been doing this since your 28, to call your age out. But, you know, you have accomplished a lot. And you are still fighting.

RUIZ: Yes, I am. I mean, right now I'm the mandatory for the WBA championship, and I'm just getting ready. I'm getting ready for that fight.

LEMON: Yes. So in 2001, you and Evander Holyfield. I'm sure everyone is like, oh, Evander is going -- this guy is going to kick his butt or what have you, and you won.

What did you think?

RUIZ: I heard it many times, because I fought him three times. The first time, you know, everybody was counting me out. You know, basically I was a nobody coming out of nowhere. And I was supposed to walk into the ring, and I was supposed to fall to the ground. And, you know, I went all 12 rounds, and the next fight I didn't get the decision on that one, but the next one everything turned out great.

LEMON: Were you thinking when you finally won, I'm sure it was a struggle. You're like, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it? What was running through your head?

RUIZ: It was the proudest moment of my life other than, you know, seeing my kids being born. You know, something that I can't put into words. You know, when they announced a new heavyweight champion and they mentioned my name, I was speechless.

LEMON: And you couldn't believe it. You thought you were dreaming, I'm sure.

And speaking -- you talked about your children. You have three children.

RUIZ: Yes.

LEMON: And I want to ask you because I think I know the answer to that. You said -- I think you have said that there was a moment in your life that sort of changed your attitude and made you feel that you could accomplish anything, and other people, and especially Hispanics and minorities should know about it.

What was that moment? RUIZ: The moment in my life is when I saw my first child being born. I knew that I had to do something to make his life better, and I think through boxing. Boxing is sort of like a poor man's sport. You know, you have to, you know -- you have to go out there and train hard and so on and so on. You know, most other sports you have to go to college and do other things. You know, boxing, you know, if you're good at it, you will be able to make some money. And sometimes, you know, it's less than one percent that actually make money. I thank God that I managed to succeed.

LEMON: So Puerto Rican, but you were born in Matuan, Massachusetts. And the reason I ask you about that is because, you know, that Senator Ted Kennedy just died, and your family has a special connection to the Kennedys. Not just Massachusetts, but every single kid in your family, am I correct, was named after of a Kennedy?

RUIZ: You're correct. My mother and father were big fans of the Kennedys. You know, I'm John and my brother, Robert, my other brother Eddie Edward, and then my sister Jackie. So we're all named after the Kennedys. And, you know, I felt very proud. They were great people. And like I said, I'm proud to be named after them.

LEMON: So then two weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago, when you heard about the death of the senator, how did your family, you and your family react to that?

RUIZ: Well, you know, I was very sad. I mean, it's something that, you know, somehow we -- it was coming around. I mean, he was having some problems, but we never knew he was going to pass away. And it's sad to see that.

LEMON: A lot of people feel that way, especially with the Kennedys and senator Ted Kennedy, because he eventually helped to get the legislation passed, what he did for civil rights. It meant a lot to many minorities in the country.

Tell us what you're doing now. I understand you may be going overseas to fight. You're continuing to fight.

And what are your rankings now?

RUIZ: Right now I'm ranked -- I'm the next mandatory for the champion (INAUDIBLE) in the world. And hopefully the chance will come around soon.

LEMON: Yes. Message to young folks, Latinos?

RUIZ: I would probably say, you know, follow your dreams, because that's what I did. I let everything -- I let -- I stopped thinking about people saying to me because I know there was a lot of negative towards me. And I felt like I had to go out there and prove them wrong, and that's what I did. I followed my dream. I focus on my family, and I did everything for them.

LEMON: Well, listen, we appreciate you joining us, and we wish you much success. And if we're ever in the same city, maybe I can spar with you because I sparred with Smoking Joe, and I was afraid he's going to knock me out.

RUIZ: Definitely. I guess it's an open invitation there, huh?

LEMON: All right. Thank you, sir. Have a good night.

RUIZ: Thank you.

LEMON: And next Sunday as part of our series on "Latino First," my interview With New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, the first major Latino candidate to run for president.

And coming up on CNN in October, "LATINO IN AMERICA." Stories you will see only on CNN. It will be held by our Soledad O'Brien.

Still ahead this hour, a cross-country trip for the space shuttle "Discovery," and six days of rain and counting here in the southeast. We are soaked and sogged in.

And when will the rain go way? And how will it impact all the business travelers tomorrow morning?

We could have a very nasty commute tomorrow. Our Jacqui Jeras has the answers for you -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The space shuttle "Discovery" took flight this morning albeit with a little help and with a destination much closer than the International Space Station. The shuttle is bound for Kennedy Space Center riding piggyback on a modified 747. It left California's Edward's Air Force base, and with a couple of stops should arrive on the Florida space coast tomorrow.

Safe travels to them.

Jacqui Jeras joining us now from the CNN severe weather center.

Jacqui, do we have that shot? I think we have a shot of Atlanta. And, you know, it looks beautiful.

Look at those clouds.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It does?

LEMON: But we are -- I'm surprised the water isn't up to that high-rise right there.

JERAS: What's your definition of beautiful?

LEMON: You know, it's nice. It looks a little spooky.

JERAS: It is.

LEMON: But the water is almost up to that high rise.

(WEATHER REPORT) LEMON: All right, Jacqui Jeras.

And you know what, Jacqui? Because it was the monsoons, that's what I want to call them, we had today, all I could do was sit around and watch TV. So I want to tell you and our viewers if you didn't see President Obama's sit down interview with our John King, that interview is coming up at the top of the hour. It's fascinating. It's on "STATE OF THE UNION."

We're back after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A lot of you are writing about our conversation on civility. You enjoyed it. If you want to know more about it, go to our blog at cnn.com/newsroom. And if you want to get involved with the Civility Project, civilityproject.org.

I'm Don Lemon. Have a great week, everyone.