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Disaster in Samoa; President Obama Addresses Iran Talks
Aired October 1, 2009 - 14:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper. Every hour today, we're revealing one of our top ten "CNN Heroes" for 2009. For Singapore, meet Bhuti Zhuharti (ph). This airline pilot uses his salary to fund a children's home in Indonesia.
I'll be back in an hour with our next top ten "CNN Hero." And join me for a "360" special at 11 p.m. tonight to meet our Heroes and begin voting for the "CNN Hero of the Year." They'll win $100,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Apologize? I'm not the one who should be apologizing. They should apologize to America.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): No apologies from the congressman that no one had ever heard of who won't back down in saying the Republican health care plan is for Americans to die quickly. You're going to hear what he has to say in full.
And we will ask this man if the congressman's right. Wendell Potter spent decades as an insurance company insider. Now he says he wants to tell the truth about what they do.
GRAYSON: Forty-four thousand Americans die every year for a lack of health coverage.
SANCHEZ: We will ask him if that statement is correct.
Following up on my report yesterday, Whoopi Goldberg, who defended child molester and director Roman Polanski, sets the record straight. Does she take back what she said?
Who killed this monster? He did? Really?
What you're talking about on the national conversation for Thursday, October 1, 2009.
SANCHEZ: Hi, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
The president of the United States is going to be dealing with the Iran issue. He's going to be getting on a plane tonight to go to Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet with other world officials to try and resolve this problem or try to at least start the conversation once and for all. But, before he does so, he wants to address the American people. He wants to talk specifically to the American people about what his intentions may be. He's going to do that, we understand, in about three-and-a-half to four minutes. It will happen right here. We're going to carry it live and you're going to be able to see it as it happens.
Now to this next story, the next generation of news. As we do all the time and every day, this is a conversation; it's not a speech and it's your turn to get involved.
Sarah Palin, she talked about death panels, and she got called out. And now a Democrat is doing kind of like the same thing, and he's getting called out. To be fair, among those who called him out yesterday, me. The form didn't seem right. Well, let me take you back. This is how the whole thing began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAYSON: The Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly. That's right. The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick. Stay with me here, because this gets good. After hearing that, Republicans got fired up. They were angry. They demanded an apology from this guy.
And then Florida Congressman Alan Grayson did apologize, but not to them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAYSON: I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Ouch. Not only did he not apologize. He actually rubbed their noses in it, as you can see there. And then he walked on to the set of "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" and he took on everybody in the room. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Democratic Congressman from Florida is here. Congressman Grayson...
GRAYSON: Hi. Hi.
How are you?
BLITZER: ... we've been talking about your comments.
BLITZER: A lot of people have been talking about your comments.
BLITZER: And -- and we heard you say the Republicans and their health care plan is simply they want sick people to, "die quickly."
Go ahead, tell us what you mean.
GRAYSON: Well, what I mean is they have got no plan. It's been 24 hours since I said that.
Where is the Republican plan?
We're all waiting to see something to take care of people who have preexisting conditions, to take care of the 47 million people in this country who have no coverage at all. There is no plan. And that's what I meant...
GRAYSON: ... when I said the Republican plan really is don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.
BLITZER: But you're -- you're...
GRAYSON: Insurance companies like that, too.
BLITZER: You're saying that the Republicans want sick people to die quickly.
GRAYSON: They have no...
BLITZER: You're branding all...
GRAYSON: ... plan.
BLITZER: So that's -- maybe they may have no plan. They say they have plenty of plans.
But if they -- do you really believe the Republicans want sick people to die quickly?
GRAYSON: Look, what I want is for us to work together to solve our problems and I don't see the Republicans doing that.
GRAYSON: There's no effort by the Republicans to actually pass any kind of bill...
GRAYSON: No bill whatsoever. They just want to stop everything.
BLITZER: Has -- has any Democratic leader asked you to apologize to the Republicans?
GRAYSON: No. No.
BLITZER: Do you plan on a...
GRAYSON: And you know why?
You know why they haven't asked me?
Because I'm saying what everyone else has been thinking, but no one else has been saying.
BLITZER: And so you have no intention of apologizing?
GRAYSON: Of course not.
I'm not the one who should be apologizing.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Do you admit...
GRAYSON: They should apologize to America.
BLITZER: Hold on.
JOHNS: Wasn't it over the top, though?
I mean do you at least admit that?
GRAYSON: Well, look, I'm 6'4," so it takes a lot to be over my top.
JOHNS: Me, too.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I'm a Republican, congressman, and I have just a question.
CASTELLANOS: Which particular Americans do you think I would like to die?
Can you name some?
GRAYSON: Listen, do you want to make sure that people have affordable, universal, comprehensive health care in this country? CASTELLANOS: Yes.
GRAYSON: Do you?
CASTELLANOS: And that's why I, by the way...
GRAYSON: Now, what have you done about it?
CASTELLANOS: The Republicans actually have a very different approach than the Democrats do, but it's very concrete. Instead of a big gamble, this one...
GRAYSON: Oh, please.
CASTELLANOS: ... huge plan that Obama has...
GRAYSON: You know, that's...
CASTELLANOS: ... Republicans are supporting a...
GRAYSON: ... amorphous nonsense.
CASTELLANOS: ... very -- fix, six, seven steps...
GRAYSON: Do you really think tort reform...
CASTELLANOS: ... that all Republicans agree on.
GRAYSON: ... is going to take care of 47 million people...
CASTELLANOS: Not only tort reform...
GRAYSON: ... not having...
CASTELLANOS: ... but shopping for insurance...
GRAYSON: Not only nothing. That's what I hear.
CASTELLANOS: ... shopping across states...
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What is this...
CASTELLANOS: Excuse me. Shopping across for insurance -- across states is not nothing.
GRAYSON: Oh, and you really...
think that that's going to solve... CASTELLANOS: Letting people...
GRAYSON: ... people's problems in this country?
CASTELLANOS: ... letting individuals buy the same -- have the advantages in buying insurance that businesses have is not nothing.
GRAYSON: You know -- you know, that's just... CASTELLANOS: Tort reform is not nothing.
GRAYSON: ... helping the people who give Republicans money.
BORGER: What does your statement on the House floor do to raise the level of the debate or do to help get health reform passed in the United States Congress, if that's what you want?
GRAYSON: It gets it back on track.
BORGER: Why do that?
GRAYSON: It gets us back on track...
BORGER: How does that get...
GRAYSON: We are stalled...
BORGER: How does that...
GRAYSON: Nothing is happening. We're waiting and waiting and waiting while people die. A Harvard study that was published just two weeks ago said that 44,000 Americans die every year for lack of health coverage. That's over 4,000 almost every month, OK. While we were debating this today on the floor of the House, another 40 of them died.
BORGER: But how does this get the debate back on track, as you see it?
GRAYSON: Because it gets people concentrating...
BORGER: I don't understand that.
GRAYSON: ... on the fact that there is a bill and on the other side, there is nothing. These nattering nabobs of negativism have to stop blocking every single thing that we try to do here...
CASTELLANOS: But Congressman...
GRAYSON: ... or at least come up with something resembling a plan of their own.
JOHNS: The Republicans are sort of comparing you to the Joe Wilson situation, the congressman...
GRAYSON: No, it's not the same.
JOHNS: Well -- well, how is it not the same?
GRAYSON: Because I didn't insult the president in front of 40 million people.
BLITZER: But you did insult Republicans. BORGER: Every Republican.
GRAYSON: What the Republicans have been doing is an insult to America.
CASTELLANOS: But you're talking...
GRAYSON: they have been dragging their feet. These -- these are foot dragging, knuckle dragging Neanderthals who think they can dictate policy to America by being stubborn. And I think it's -- the time is over. We had an election. That's it. Now we have to move ahead in just the way the president wants us to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: I will tell you what. Agree or disagree with him, I would like to know what you have to say about what he was just expressing, like I said, taking on the room.
He said it on the record, and then he backed it up. Agree? Disagree? I want to know.
By the way, this from Mr. Nobody's Ever Heard of Him, who by the way will soon be Mr. Everybody's Talking About Him.
All right, let's stay on the subject for just a moment. This man that you're looking at right here, he used to be the vice president of a health care industry. And I want to give you, as Americans, because that's what we need, as much information about this debate as I can give you.
So, I want to talk to you about this guy. He knows all the secrets to the health care industry. He used to work for an insurance company. And in just a little bit, he's going to join me here, live, because he now feels like he needs to reveal things about the business that he used to be a part of for 20 years. This should be good stuff.
Also this: Samoans and Indonesians are now sifting through rubble for survivors after the region they live in is hit by a devastating tsunami and then an earthquake -- the latest from there when we come back. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Hey, I welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN.
After listening to Grayson, I asked you what you thought. And tons of you are sharing what you think. Let's take it from the top, take a couple of them. I know we have got a lot to go here. All right, let's move that camera. There we go. "Grayson held his ground and he backed his assertions up. He didn't holler in a joint session, not even during regular hours of Congress."
And then the next one just under that if you can get, Robert: "Grayson's backup is, he says/she says. Where are the facts about what we do." Let me bring that down a little bit right there -- "about what the bills really say and do, CNN?"
Well, we thank you for the ask and we will try to answer those questions. In fact, I think, on this show, for the most part, we do.
All right, I'm going to tell you now what the president of the United States is -- here's not a surprise. He's late. We were supposed to have the president speaking about Iran six minutes ago, five minutes after the hour. It's now 11 minutes after the hour. He still isn't there. That's the podium where he's going to be speaking from.
And as soon as it happens, you're going to be able to watch it right here live, because we're going to be dipping into it.
Now I'm going to close my mouth for a second and let you hear this.
Take it, Rog. We just got these pictures into CNN. Those are people that have just started down a long, long road to recovery from a tsunami that nearly wiped out the islands of Samoa and the American Samoa. The massive earthquake was Tuesday. It triggered a tsunami.
Now, listen to this. They got hit with aftershocks today. And it's kind of scary, too, more misery, similar, but far away. I'm going to show you now northern Indonesia. Yesterday, a major quake shook part of that city, 800,000 people. They had aftershocks today there as well. Here's the president of Indonesia taking a look at some of the buildings that crumbled.
Now, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief says more than 1,000 people -- in fact, 1,100 people, he's saying, are dead. And that number is still expected to go up. That's a big number, folks. I know, when you do it in the news, it's just a number, but those are all souls. Rescuers are afraid that they might find literally thousands dead, even more as they start picking through the rubble and all this wreckage. We will stay on top of this story for you.
Roman Polanski -- no, Whoopi, I will not let this go. And that goes for your Hollywood buddies, all of the people out there who refuse to drop this friend I guess some would consider who should return to the United States and really should stand trial for his sex crimes, especially when you read the evidence.
In fairness, I need to set the record straight about something, though, that we did yesterday, and I'm going to do that. I'm going to own up. I will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: This guy Grayson, this congressman, is apparently quite a hit, at least with most of you who watch this show every day at 3:00.
Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
To the Twitter board we go. And there we have a comment from Jen Ramos. She says: "Grayson has guts. I agree with him. The people that are complaining have no plan. They just want things to remain the same."
All right, back to this. The growing defense in this country, coming mostly from the entertainment history -- industry -- pardon me -- of filmmaker Roman Polanski is really nothing short of astounding in many ways. I mean, do I have it? Here it is.
See this right here? Do you want to get this, Johnny? Here's the deposition. This is what I went home and read last night page by page. And there's a lot of pages, by the way, a lot more than I'm showing you right here. This is a deposition from this 13-year-old girl.
For me, this is the clincher. OK? It's the clincher. I mean, it leaves no doubt that this man, Polanski, got a 13-year-old girl drunk and stoned, and then had sex with her many different ways.
Look, I will put this on my blog, if you want to see it for yourself. All right? CNN.com/ricksanchez. You read it. Don't take my word for it. You go to my blog and you read this testimony that this little girl gave to police about what happened to her on that night. That's all you need to do.
He was finally arrested as you know in Switzerland when he went there to receive a lifetime achievement award last weekend. Authorities have been wanting to nab him since the 1970s.
Yesterday, I told you about some of the high-profile names in Hollywood who are defending Polanski. And we also showed you what Whoopi Goldberg had said on Monday on ABC's "The View."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": What I'm saying is he did not rape her because she was aware and the family apparently was aware.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it consensual? I mean, what is rape? What is the definition of rape?
GOLDBERG: Well, I don't know if it was consensual.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a second.
When you have to give somebody drugs, I don't know. GOLDBERG: He was not charged -- I guess I'm saying he was not charged with rape, is all I'm trying to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: OK, like I said yesterday, we often use clips from "The View," and Whoopi Goldberg has always been very astute. At least, I consider her to be -- I think most people consider her to be very astute, very transparent about items like this. And, also, she's been cordial enough in the past to call into my show and explain her positions on things, generally a person to be respected.
I understand from her people, though, that she was upset with me yesterday for doing this report, and not include -- including her newest comments, which she made the following day, after those you just saw.
And you know what? She is right. My screw-up. I should have included where she came back and tried to reassert her position. So, here it is now, Whoopi trying to set the record straight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDBERG: We were talking about Roman Polanski's arrest the other day and some people got the idea that I was condoning what he did.
So, I'm going to be very clear. I was trying to make sure that we had our facts straight, because that is my job, particularly about what he was arrested for and what he was charged with.
And here is what it was, once and for all. He was originally indicted on six felony charges: furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, perversion, sodomy, committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and rape by use of drugs.
All of these charges were dismissed, except for the one he pled guilty to. It's a lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, not rape, which was my point.
So, just to make sure that everyone understands, on this show, people listen to what we say, and I always want to make sure that we're putting out the correct information. And that was what I was trying to do the other day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You know, really, Whoopi Goldberg is still wrong. And I appreciate the fact that she came back and tried to set the record straight.
But here's why. And I think we need to look at this with common sense, right? What Polanski was willing to cop to or what his lawyers were willing to make a deal with judges about and what he did are two completely different things. They really are. Here are the facts. Go to my blog and read them again. And I invite Whoopi Goldberg to go and read this long document. He was 43 years old. She was 13 years old. He was in her care (sic). He got her drunk. He got her to take a quaalude. Forget the legalese. Just talk like regular people here.
He got her naked in Jack Nicholson's hot tub. She said no. She said no many times. He sodomized her in many different ways, many different times.
And, you know, in the end, what this really all comes down to is one number. I have a daughter, OK? One number. The number is 13 -- 13. She was 13 years old.
I mean, enough said.
Whoopi Goldberg denied our invitation to appear. We certainly understand. No harm, no foul.
I should tell you the president of the United States is going to be speaking momentarily. And, as soon as he does, we're going to take it for you. He's going to be talking about Iran. And, as a matter of fact, I just saw somebody go there to the podium -- am I seeing somebody at the podium?
All right. I'll tell you what. We got two minutes? Let's see if we can sneak a break in.
We will be right back. When we come back, the president's going to be speaking. Let's go.
SANCHEZ: And, as promised, here's the president of the United States. Take it.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have spoken to the governor and the delegate from American Samoa, and we continue to provide the full support of the American government for relief efforts there.
I have also directed the State Department to it provide the assistance necessary to help Samoa recover as well.
We're also deeply moved by the suffering and the loss of life that's been caused by the recent earthquake in West Sumatra. Now, my administration's been in touch with the government of Indonesia to make it clear that the United States stands ready to help in this time of need. And I have ordered my administration to coordinate with the ongoing relief and recovery efforts there.
Indonesia's an extraordinary country that's known extraordinary hardship from natural disasters. I know firsthand that Indonesian people are strong and resilient and have the spirit to overcome this enormous challenge. And, as they do, they need to know that America will be their friend and partner.
Today in Geneva, the United States, along with our fellow permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, namely Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, as well as Germany, held talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran. These meetings came after several months of intense diplomatic effort.
Upon taking office, I made it clear that the United States was prepared to join our P-5-plus-1 partners as a full participant in talks with Iran. I extended the offer of meaningful engagement to the Iranian government. I committed the United States to a comprehensive effort to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear power, provided that they live up to their international obligations.
And we have engaged in intensive bilateral and multilateral diplomacy with our P-5-plus-1 partners and with nations around the world to reinforce this point, including a historic U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed unanimously last week.
The result is clear. The P-5-plus-1 is united and we have an international community that has reaffirmed its commitment to nonproliferation and disarmament. That's why the Iranian government heard a clear and unified message from the international community in Geneva.
OBAMA: Iran must demonstrate through concrete steps that it will live up to its responsibilities with regard to its nuclear program.
In pursuit of that goal, today's meeting was a constructive beginning, but it must be followed with constructive action by the Iranian government.
First, Iran must demonstrate its commitment to transparency. Earlier this month we presented clear evidence that Iran has been building a covert nuclear facility in Qom. Since Iran has now agreed to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it must grant unfettered access to IAEA inspectors within two weeks.
I have been in close touch with the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, who will be traveling to Tehran in the days ahead. He has my full support and the Iranian government must grant the IAEA full access to the site in Qom.
Second, Iran must take concrete steps to build confidence that its nuclear program will serve peaceful purposes, steps that meet Iran's obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolution. The IAEA proposal that was agreed to in principle today with regard to the Tehran research reactor is a confidence-building step that is consistent with that objective, provided that it transfers Iran's low- enriched uranium to a third country for fuel fabrication.
As I have said before, we support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power. Taking the step of transferring its low-enriched uranium to a third country would be a step towards building confidence that Iran's program is in fact peaceful.
Going forward, we expect to see swift action. We're committed to serious and meaningful engagement, but we're not interested in talking for the sake of talking. If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely, and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure.
If Iran takes concrete steps and lives up to its obligations, there is a path towards a better relationship with the United States, increased integration for Iran within the international community, and a better future for all Iranians.
So let me reiterate. This is a constructive beginning, but hard work lies ahead. We've entered a phase of intensive international negotiations. And talk is not substitute for action. Pledges of cooperation must be fulfilled.
We have made it clear that we will do our part to engage the Iranian government on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect, but our patience is not unlimited.
This is not about singling out Iran; this is not about creating double standards. This is about the global nonproliferation regime and Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, just as all nations have it, but with that right comes responsibilities.
And the burden of meeting these responsibilities lies with the Iranian government, and they are now the ones that need to make that choice.
Thank you very much.
SANCHEZ: There you have it, the president of the United States setting the stage for his upcoming meetings. He will be traveling, I understand, a little bit after 6:00, to go to Denmark, to Copenhagen, to be more specific, where he will begin several talks, not just on Iran, but other issues involving, of course, as well Iraq and Afghanistan.
We will be all over it. We will share it with you.
In the meantime, we're also all over the health care debate. And let me talk to you about something now that I think is extremely important, that all Americans should be paying attention to.
This show, we, right here at 3:00, we pull the veil off of the Senate lawmakers who have been taking millions from the health insurance industry, while then voting in their favor. Maybe there's a connection. Maybe there isn't, but, in my business, that's called a conflict of interests, and I would be fired by CNN for doing something similar to what they're doing.
In Washington, hey, that's how business is done. It's worth reporting on and Americans should know about it.
Also, love this story. This is about a little boy who weighs only 40 pounds. He takes down an 800-pound gator.
"Fotos" is coming up.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back.
Now to my favorite story of the day.
On the blogs, I have been getting a huge response for unmasking the Senate Finance Committee yesterday. What we did and what I'm going to continue to do for you is tell you the truth about who's getting money from lobbyists and then comparing it to how they vote, see if there's a correlation.
Let me start with the chairman of this committee, because this is not about Republicans or Democrats or anybody. It's just about Americans and where the money is going.
He is a Democrat. He said today he might finally finish his health care bill by nightfall.
Well, guess what, America? The Baucus bill is being described as basically garbage by my next guest, the guy I'm going to be talking to in just a little bit and maybe part of the reason for it.
Since 2005, Senator Max Baucus, who is the author of the bill on health care reform, has taken nearly $1.8 million from the health care industry that opposes reform. You see the connection? And that's according to SunlightFoundation.com. It's a Web site that describes itself as nonpartisan.
Baucus is not alone, far from being alone. Each member of his committee, each member, the group that's writing health care reform, has taken an average of $590,000 from the health care industry. The health care industry -- you know, the one that doesn't want reform.
Are you with me here, America?
The people reforming health care are taking millions of dollars from the people who don't want health care reform. Here's a surprise for you.
When it came to vote on the public option yesterday, the guys on that committee who voted against it, well, they got an average of $670,000 per man from big health care. The guys who voted for the public option, well, they took an average of $440,000 -- much, much less.
By the way, if you add all this up, the guys who want the public option got $3.5 million. The guys who voted with the health care industry and against the public option -- again, these are the folks who voted against the public option -- how much do you think they got from the health care industry? You ready? More than $10 million.
That's a lot of loot, folks. And you should know about it, just to know. That doesn't mean they voted one way or another because of it, but you should know it.
Here's what my next guest thinks of this Baucus bill. "It's hard to imagine how insurance companies could have written legislation," he says, "that would benefit them more." In other words, if the guys who run the insurance companies would have sat down and written legislation, he says they couldn't have written it any better.
All right. Who's my guest? Is he some crazy lefty? Is he Ralph Nader? Is he Dennis Kucinich?
No. In fact, he's a health care player in the insurance world. He used to be a part of it.
You ever heard of Cigna? Of course you've heard of Cigna. They're one of the biggest insurers in the whole world.
Wendell Potter is who I'm talking about, and for 15 years he was the company's chief corporate spokesman, and he was also an executive with Humana as well.
Mr. Potter, thank you much, sir, for being with us.
WENDELL POTTER, FMR. CHIEF CORPORATE SPOKESMAN, CIGNA: Thank you very much, Rick.
SANCHEZ: You say that the Baucus bill is good for insurers. Would that mean it's not good for Americans, the rest of us?
POTTER: Oh, absolutely. It is really a gift to the insurance industry, and I think it would actually lock in the insurance companies far more in our health care system than they already are locked in.
It would ensure their profitability for many years to come. It would ensure that their business models are successful for years to come. And we, as taxpayers and people who get our private insurance from these companies, would be the losers.
SANCHEZ: I have been sharing with our viewers lately the correlation between how Congress votes and who gives them money. And I found that disproportionately, the people who vote for health care proposals and against things like the public option are getting a lot more money from these companies.
Am I off base there, or is there a correlation?
POTTER: There absolutely is a correlation. The work you've done is very, very important, and I hope that people understand the importance of it.
It's not a bit surprising that those who voted against the public option are those that got the most money from the industry. In fact, just a few years ago, I sat right next to one of the members of the Finance Committee who was being hosted at a luncheon by one of the big insurance companies I used to work for. It was a fund-raiser for him. So, this is not a bit surprising. The money flows and flows a lot to these -- and the industry knew that the Senate Finance Committee was very important, so that's why they have gotten so much money.
SANCHEZ: You used to be a part of this group, though. You saw -- you know their secrets, right?
POTTER: I do.
SANCHEZ: And by the way, I'm just thinking, you had a pretty good gig. I mean, great job, you were an executive, you got to fly on a plane, big dough.
Why would you turn your back on a great gig like that?
POTTER: You know, after a while, I started paying attention to just what the industry was trying to move us all into, ,the kinds of plans they were trying to move us into. And I also had a role to play in the campaigns that the industry has conducted over the years to kill health care reform. And I knew that this debate was coming up.
I didn't want to be a part of that effort again. And I started seeing the tactics that were being played out. And I just decided to speak out to try to make people aware of exactly what they're doing to kill reform or to shape it like they are in the Senate Finance Committee.
SANCHEZ: A lot of Republicans and a lot of businessmen would say, you know, it's the American way, though, it's our system. It sounds bad that these guys have to make profits off of sick people, but, you know, profit is the motivation that we use in our economy to make things work.
Can you argue with that?
POTTER: No, I reject that, and it's the reason I left my job. A lot of the tactics that the insurance industry uses to get what it wants, in my view, the public relations tactics, are unethical. And it finally got to the point that I didn't want to be a part of that anymore.
Ethics is important in politics, in governing, in my view. And profits, I have no problem with companies making profits. But when the profits are so much more important than the health and well-being of our population, I have a big problem with that.
SANCHEZ: How much more? I mean, how much were they profiting, to use your word? And what is a fair profit off of sick people?
POTTER: You know, I don't know that there's an answer to what is a fair profit. But since the -- since 1993, the insurance companies have been taking more and more of every premium dollar and using it to enhance the CEOs' compensation, or to enhance shareholder value. And less and less is going to pay claims.
It used to be 95 cents of every dollar. Now it's down to about 80 cents. And it will continue. And under the Baucus bill, or the Senate Finance bill, without some of the important amendments, the insurance industry will continue to be able to move us into plans that enrich them and shareholders a lot more than they help average Americans.
SANCHEZ: Make me understand why some of these people that we see at these health care reform rallies and town hall meetings, some of whom seem like humble people like my parents -- you know, they probably drove up in a Dodge Dart or something, probably don't have a lot of money, barely are making it by. Why are they out there fighting with signs for these multi-rich, multinational companies? I'm not sure I get that.
Can you make us understand that?
POTTER: I can't. And it's distressing. And I have seen it happen before.
I spoke at a town hall in New Jersey a few weeks ago, and I was explaining some of the tactics that the PR firms the big insurance companies use. And a woman came up after my talk, after the rally, and she was carrying a sign that said "Tort reform now." And she was very indignant.
She said, "No one paid me to be here." And I understood what she was saying. And I didn't say this, but I was thinking, no one had to pay you, you didn't get any of the money.
The money went from the insurance companies, and actually probably some of your money that you paid in premiums was going to the big PR firms that were planning and carrying out the campaigns to influence public opinion in very devious ways. That's how it works, and it's very, very successful.
SANCHEZ: What kind of devious ways? You were in on these meetings.
Well, let me ask you, were you a part of these conversations where you would sit down with these executives? I suppose you were in corporate communications where they would say, this is how we're going to do this, this is how we're going to convince these people that we are the good guys.
POTTER: Oh, absolutely. The executives of these companies are full partners in developing the strategy and carrying out the tactics to do this.
SANCHEZ: That's dishonest?
POTTER: I think it's -- well, I think it's just a reality, that the CEOs and others are at the table, on the one hand, saying that we're going to be good-faith partners with the president and Congress, but behind the scenes, working and working with their PR firms to do their best to kill it or to shape it. And they do.
They funnel a lot of their money. It's what I call engaging in duplicitous campaigns.
On the one hand, you've got the charm offensive of them saying that they're going to come to the table with solutions this year, or this time. And behind the scenes, do all they can to gut it, to make sure they help (ph) the public option, if they can, it stays out of legislation. That's how they operate.
SANCHEZ: We want to extend the invitation to Humana or to Cigna or to any other health care companies who feels that they would like to rebut any of the things that Mr. Potter says. We're here. The invitation stands open.
And by the way, Mr. Potter, what do you think they would say if they came on tomorrow to rebut what you just said?
POTTER: You know, I think they would say -- they would probably use a standard statement that they would have drafted, like I would have drafted and been reviewed by the lawyers.
SANCHEZ: But you'd be the guy writing this in the past.
POTTER: I would be. And it will be something that says how much they support health care reform, how much they respect other people's opinions, but that they disagree with certain opinions. And no one so far has agreed to stay on the -- or be on the same program with me to answer my allegations. Not allegations, but the facts that I bring up.
SANCHEZ: Mr. Potter, we thank you, sir, for taking time to talk to us, take us through this.
POTTER: Thank you very much.
SANCHEZ: All right.
POTTER: Thank you.
This guy right here is getting a lot of praise all over the country, and he deserves it. These pictures are going to tell you why. I hate the word "hero," because we overuse it as a society. But I'll tell you what, not in this case. This guy is the real deal, and you're going to see it for yourself.
We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Boy, as expected, that was a good interview, I think most of you believe that that was a good interview, listening to a man like Mr. Potter. In fact, here are some of the comments coming in and they are flying in. Finally we get to the bottom of congress people who are accepting kickbacks while denying the public a fair shot at a public option. By the way, just to be fair we see the word kickbacks there, that's a term that has a legal connotation, that is not true. What these people are doing in congress to be fair are not kickbacks, why? That's the system, it's perfectly legal, whether it's right or wrong is something for all Americans to sit down and figure out. But it's legal, so it's not a kick back.
Let's see the self-absorbed and greedy congress people, he goes on to write. All right, let's go over the Twitter if we can. Let me see what you got there and I'm going to pull it back over to this side. I'm going to take it back, uh-oh.
Did I lose my -- I did. I did, by golly, I can't move it. All right, I'll just read you the money -- how does the money received by committee members from health care industry compared to other members of the senate? Tons of you are writing to us since we started doing this a few days ago asking us to do more and look into it so we're using common cause and we're using several other, opensecrets.org.
We're using several Web sites plus our own sources and getting in to find out who's getting what money from where and how they vote. We're continue to do this for you, we're continue to answer as many as your questions as we possibly can.
So keep -- wait a minute. And yes, by the way, our Twitter account is back open today. It was Twitter trying to protect us from somebody trying to do something, that's the reason it was down but it's working again today. In fact, look, everything is moving. See, Walah (ph), I'm back.
All right. The kid who takes down a huge alligator, it is one of the most amazing stories of the day. Look at this kid. Tough kid. I'll be right back with "Fotos."
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Whenever someone does something noteworthy, there's always plenty of copy cats out there. Right? Well, remember the journalist who threw his shoes at the President of the United States? And I'll tell you, George Bush, this guy's quick, he's athletic. Made the little duck and weave move that he did. Everybody's been talking about it. So guess what? It's happened again. And that's where we start "Fotos."
That's right. Another shoe thrower, watch them fly, here they go. This one from Istanbul and then he runs the Director of the International Monetary Fund whose giving him address in the university when a student journalist hurled his shoe right on him. No need for the IMF director to duck and dodge as our ex-president did. Did well, should I say.
The shoe actually smacked another audience member right at the back of the head. Bang! After throwing his shoe, the student rushed the stage, shouting go away, IMF! You're stealing money! Security restrained the original shoe thrower and a female accomplice who was holding a sign and shouting, last seen, by the way, walking back to their hotels barefoot.
If you get sick on land, you call an ambulance. What happens if you get sick while on a u.s. Navy Submarine? This is cool. Ever seen anything like this? The navy calls the coast guard and the coast guard sends a helicopter. Then the coast guard does what the coast guard does best. They pull you up in one of those baskets. Probably one of the most dramatic ways of getting to the hospital that anyone could possibly imagine.
All right, I grew up in Florida. You know that. I went to school at the University of Minnesota, you know that. I'm proud of both. But the thing about Florida is the gators. I love alligators and I love alligator stories.
No matter how often I ventured this swamps, I never shot a gator. Looked at them, fished around them, going to scared by them. Pulled a muscle once running away from one once. This 5-year-old kid, though, he's got me. This 5-year-old kid, he actually shot and killed an 800 pound alligator measuring more than 12 feet long. The kid says he wasn't even scared. He just had to do what he had to do. That's "fotos."
Take a look at this amazing video. This is a Good Samaritan. That's a hero. Somebody who doesn't have to do what he does. He rescues a boy from a fire. And then uses his body to shield him. Then gives him life to life -- I mean mouth to mouth to get him breathing again. It's unbelievable. Be right back.
SANCHEZ: They were screaming for someone to hear and he just happened to be there. I mean that's what this Horia Cretan says do what you're about to see what he does. He thought it was just kids playing but then he saw waves of smoke coming from the building across the street. It was that moment when he says you just can't stop to think. You've just got to do what's right. So, he dashed up the fire escape, grabbed the kid inside.
All right. I'm going to let you watch it for yourself now. You're going to watch it all the way to the moment after he gives him life support or actually gives him -- what's it called when you do the chest thing? CPR, chest thumps.
Thanks, guys. And then you'll see him. He puts his thumbs up to say he's alive, he's breathing. It's amazing. Watch him.
HORIA CRETAN, SAVED BOY FROM BURNING BUILDING: Some of it and it was bad. I can't imagine how strong the kid is. He couldn't breathe. I just held his head up. I put my head underneath his head so he could breathe better. I felt his heartbeat. It was faint but it was all right. I made sure I protected him with the curtain because there was throwing glass from the top of the stairs but he's fine.
SANCHEZ: Can you imagine? He was walking down the street. He saw what was going on, he rushed into the building, he grabbed him, he took him out, and he took him downstairs. Wow. That's a hero. Not overusing the word there. It's not a cliche. It's real. He saved a kid's life. Amazing.
We've got your comments. We're also focusing in on one of the Latino in America segments that we're going to be preparing for you. Stay right there. I'm coming right back.
SANCHEZ: We should be paying attention to what's going on in Latin America and Central America, and we have this show has been covering the situation in Honduras almost on a daily basis. Today is no exception. It is part of today's on our show.
All right. Two presidents in one country in Honduras right now. As the President Manuel Zelaya's hold up in a Brazilian Embassy as we've mentioned. The man who replaced him has issued an emergency decree the country's advisor.
Yesterday, police acted on that. They raided the offices of International Agrarian Institute in their Capital City. Pro Zelaya protesters have occupied the building since June 28th. Authorities say the action was necessary to protect sensitive land titles in that area. We're going to continue to stay on top of that story.
That video, by the way, is not dissimilar from the video we were showing just moments ago where we let you see for yourself how some of Micheletti, that's the current president's troops, have actually been going into some television stations, television operations, like the one that I'm in right now, forcing the employees out, taking all the records and shutting it down. It's an important part of the story.
We'll continue to stay on top of it for you. In the meantime, I want to let you know before Wolf Blitzer today, where I normally do my toss. I'll be tossing to another one of my colleagues. This is Anderson Cooper. Anderson is going to tell you what's been going on and what's going on with a CNN project that we're very proud of. It's called the heroes. It's about giving people enough attention, people who often times do their work while anonymously, we're proud of this. Here is Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. Every hour today we're revealing one of our Top Ten CNN Heroes for 2009.