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CNN NEWSROOM

New Strategy for Afghanistan; Marge Simpson Does Playboy; Pakistani Army Hostage Drama; Three Downed Fliers Found in the Gulf of Mexico; Romance in the Workplace

Aired October 11, 2009 - 16:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Senator John McCain warns against what he calls an error of historic proportions. We'll have the latest on the debate over the war in Afghanistan.

An early taste of winter from the Rockies to the midwest. Is the snow heading your way?

And gay rights activists turn out in force today with a message for President Barack Obama.

Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. We begin this hour with Afghanistan. There were plenty of suggestions on the Sunday morning talk shows about what President Obama should do. CNN's Kate Bolduan reports from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The funeral for Sergeant Titus Reynolds, one of the U.S. soldiers killed last month in Afghanistan. A striking and painful reminder of the cost of war as President Obama reconsiders U.S. presence and strategy in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama huddled with his national security team twice during the week. The focus Wednesday, Pakistan. Friday, Afghanistan. And General Stanley McChrystal's assessment of the situation on the ground. Reportedly calling for 40,000 additional troops.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To disregard the requirements that has been laid out and agreed to by General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen I think would be an error of historic proportions.

BOLDUAN: Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services committee tells CNN's John King anything short of General McChrystal's request could result in failure.

MCCAIN: I think the great danger now is not an American pull out. I think the great danger now is a half measure sort of, you know, try to please all ends of the political spectrum.

BOLDUAN: The White House insists no decisions have been made and all options remain on the table. Vice President Biden has advocated a smaller approach. More special ops teams and use of unmanned predator drones. And in stark contrast to his colleagues, Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says the focus should be more on Afghan forces, not U.S. troops. SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: At this time don't send more combat troops, but I say focus on the Afghan forces, the Army, faster, larger, better equipped.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And Kate Bolduan joins us now live from the White House. OK. Any indication of exactly which direction the White House may go?

BOLDUAN: As you can imagine, Fredricka, the White House is really getting pressure from all sides on this issue. Many on the left opposing committing any additional troops. While many on the right say that the president should listen and take the advice from the commanders on the ground.

A fifth meeting of the national security team looking at the administration's strategy in Afghanistan is planned for Wednesday morning. White House officials, Fredricka, say a decision could still be weeks away.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kate Bolduan, thanks so much from the White House.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

WHITFIELD: And on CNN's "State of the Union" this morning senator John McCain had more to say about what happened in Iraq and what needs to happen in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: First of all, rightly or wrongly, we were focused on Iraq. I happen to believe we had to win there. Whether we should gone in or not, weapons of mass destruction you've covered on other days. But I think the important point here is that, again, if the military of a country does not think they're going to succeed, you have all kinds of problems.

Look at the total collapse of the Iraqi army at one point after we had build them up. The Afghan soldiers are very good. They're the most highly respected in their country. There's just not enough of them. We're going to have to train a whole lot more. It doesn't mean just training. The thing that works with these militaries is operating side by side with American troops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: A U.N. official today confirmed what critics have been saying about the Afghan presidential election. Kai Eide says that there was widespread fraud. He just doesn't know exactly how widespread.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAI EIDE, U.N. SPECIAL REP. IN AFGHANISTAN: It has been claimed that there was around 30 percent fraud. There is no way to know at this stage what the level of fraud is. I do not know. Nobody has known. I can only say that there was widespread fraud. Any specific figure at this time would be pure speculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Still, no official results from the Afghan election which was held back in August.

Gay rights activists who backed President Barack Obama say that they're seeing few results from his election. Many are angry that he hasn't fulfilled a promise to end the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. Speaking to the nation's largest gay rights group last night the president said he hasn't forgotten them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My commitment to you is unwavering even as we wrestle with these enormous problems. And while progress may be taking longer than you'd like as a result of all that we face, and that's the truth. Do not doubt the direction we are headed. And the destination we will reach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Gay rights activists marched in the nation's capital for a rally this afternoon. A huge crowd. And the event comes with a bit of history attached. The first march on Washington for lesbian and gay rights was 30 years ago today.

On the president's agenda for the week ahead. On Tuesday he welcomes Spain's prime minister to the White House. On Wednesday, he's talking with his security team about both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And then Thursday he travels to New Orleans where he will host a town hall open to the public. And then he goes on to San Francisco where on Friday he will attend a presidential forum on community service hosted by former President George H.W. Bush.

Healthcare showdown could come this week as well. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on Tuesday on the proposal submitted by its chairman Senator Max Baucus of Montana. The Baucus plan does not include a public option. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that any bill that the House passes will contain the public option.

So how might lawmakers find agreement on the controversial public option? How about allowing states to opt out? CNN's Jim Acosta explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrats aren't about to pull the plug on health care reform. In fact, some are all but gift wrapping it for delivery to the White House just in time for the holidays.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: We're going to have it on the president's desk before Christmas. ACOSTA (on camera): Before Christmas?

HARKIN: Before Christmas.

ACOSTA: You think you'll have a signing before Christmas?

HARKIN: I do. I believe he will sign it before Christmas.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Iowa Senator Tom Harkin who replaced Ted Kennedy as chairman of the health committee is confident. That's because there's talk of compromise. The Senate majority leader Harry Reid begins the process of merging two bills from the health committee and what's expected out of the Finance Committee.

One compromise is called an "opt out," a provision that Harkin says would allow states to choose for themselves whether to join a government insurance program or public option.

HARKIN: In fact I had suggested that maybe one time that there should be a reverse option. In other words, you have a public option and if the state wants to opt out of it, they can opt out of it.

ACOSTA: Democrats know the public may be coming around with one recent poll showing support for their proposals climbing to 40 percent, from 34 percent a month ago.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: We'll come around the curve, we're coming around the curve.

ACOSTA: Former Senate majority leader Bob Dole is predicting a bill will pass and he's warning his fellow Republicans to get on board stat.

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER SENATOR: They don't want Obama to get it so we got to kill it, not because of the merits of the bill but because they don't want the president to get any credit. Now you can do that, and then I'm probably guilty of it but you can't make a habit of it. And health care is one of those things.

I don't know what kind of process this is, but I think it's outrageous.

ACOSTA: But current GOP leaders on Capitol Hill want none of it, accusing Democrats of hiding the true costs of health care reform.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: That's because the real bill will soon be cobbled together in a secret conference room somewhere here in the capitol by a handful of Democratic senators, and White House officials.

ACOSTA (on camera): In the end, Senator Harkin believes Democrats will support a robust public option in the final bill, but Senate Democratic leaders are keeping the "opt out" in their back pockets, just in case they have to win over any last-minute holdouts.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's look at some nasty weather. A taste of winter comes a bit too soon for the boys of summer. In Denver yesterday game three of the playoff series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies was postponed because of that. They'll play again instead tonight, weather permitting, of course.

Rocky Mountain residents weren't the only folks seeing snow. However, Minnesota's twin cities are witnessing their earliest measurable snowfall in more than 20 years. It could be measuring more snow if the forecast holds. So let's check in with our meteorologist Bonnie Schneider. She knows what's in store for them and everyone else.

BONNIE SCHNEDIER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, Fredricka. Denver was really wacky weather this week. On Friday, it was 55 degrees and sunny. And then yesterday the high was 19, the record low 17 degrees. Let's check on Denver right now and show you the temperature holding steady in the mid-30s. Yes, there is snow still falling in parts of Colorado. Denver kind of getting a little bit of rain and snow mixing in. But I think by tonight the temperature should be about 40 degree.

However, as you head farther to the east we're looking at more snow stretching across areas of South Dakota. This is a winter weather advisory that will go in effect tonight into Monday. So for those of you commuting in and around Minnesota even into Wisconsin, you're going to deal with some snow in this region.

So it's going to be problematic because we do have the winter weather advisories posted for this region. Now, elsewhere across a good portion of the U.S., we are forecasting heavy snow, high pressure in place over much of the center of the nation. To the south, it is still very warm and steamy. So while Colorado is dealing with the teens, Montana in the 20s, look what's been going on across a good portion of the United States.

Temperatures in the 90s across Florida. Wow. 92 degrees in Tampa and 90 in Miami for today. 75 in Atlanta. Actually, speaking of records, I mentioned how Denver dropped down to a record low of 17. While earlier this week Miami got up to 91, which was a record high.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Because that is very unusual this time of year. People really look forward to the fall temperatures in South Florida for kind of that cool 70s and 80s. But that's hot. That's summer hot.

SCHNEDIER: It's coming. It may get closer to winter before we get that.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. Thanks so much, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WHITFIELD: It was supposed to be a spiritual cleansing ceremony. Well, guess what? It ended in death. What went wrong at an Arizona resort. And a dramatic rescue at sea. We'll talk to the U.S. Coast Guard.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A northwestern Ohio bar, the scene of a wild shootout. Take a look at this unbelievable surveillance video from Toledo. Police say at least five gunmen, as you see here, were involved in this gunfire on Thursday night. The crowded bar emptied in seconds when the bullets are flying. Amazingly, no one was shot. However, police are trying to identify the gunmen.

Arizona police are investigating two deaths in a sauna like sweat lodge. The family of one of the victims, a 38-year-old woman says she was simply in great shape. More than a dozen others were treated for injuries ranging from dehydration and burns to respiratory arrest. The people were attending a spiritual cleansing ceremony in what witnesses described as a crudely built hut at a scenic resort.

So the hope is the Sutton family is just like yours. Typical Americans tackling every day struggles from paying the bills and coping with teenage daughter dating to crime threatening their community. Well, the Suttons are in the television drama called "Lincoln Heights." It's in its fourth season on the ABC family channel. And I sat down with the ladies of the cast who hope viewers see beyond the color of their skin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD (voice-over): "Lincoln Heights," one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Now also the name sake of one of television's newest dramas focusing on real family matters. From teenage dating to a heart tugging kidnapping. The women of the cast told me with each season, more reasons in which everyone, regardless of race and gender, can identify.

NICKI MICHEAUX, PLAYS JEN SUTTON: It's just like anybody's family. The good parts, the bad parts. How we love each other. How we fight. "Lincoln Heights" I think is so relatable. I think you see yourselves in the show.

WHITFIELD: Nicki Micheaux is the matriarch of the family as Jen Sutton. Her daughter, Cassie, in the throws of a romantic relationship is played by Erica Hubbard.

ERICA HUBBARD, PLAYS CASSIE SUTTON: The one thing I enjoy about Cassie Sutton is that she just wants to be loved and she wants to love. And I think that's why a lot of people tune in. It's to see that love that Cassie and Charles they have for each other.

WHITFIELD (on camera): Played by Robert Adamson. It's an interracial relationship. And you're also using this as a tool to help teach a lesson. Right?

HUBBARD: Yes. Yes. The interracial relationship, you know what? It's an interracial relationship. I think when the viewers tune in, they don't see that. They see the love, the genuine love that they have for each other.

CASSIE SUTTON: Are you kidding? Of course I will.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And youngest daughter, Lizzie, a freshman in high school is something actress Rhyon Brown can completely relate to. Although there are challenges.

RHYON BROWN, PLAYS LIZZIE SUTTON: They've given me a variety of things to do on the show. I've gone through being kidnapped. So there, those are different emotions that I had to display that I haven't gone through. So that's a stretch in itself.

WHITFIELD: All of these actresses coming with a range of on stage, on camera and production experiences. Yet Michelle admits despite the success of "Lincoln Heights" in its fourth season, there remains this.

(on camera): How much do you feel it being a burden that, yes, you know what I'm talking about? I mean, already there are going to be expectations, right? People say, well, let's watch the black family as opposed to let's just watch a family on television?

MICHEAUX: I think sometimes as African-American artists, there becomes a weight put on to always be the teaching model. Not that our show doesn't have teaching moments. But primarily it's for you to feel the love of this family and enjoy that. And really to, if we could, get beyond color.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Similar to the universal success and appeal of "The Cosby Show" 25 years ago. As the cast of "Lincoln Heights" hopes to renew for a fifth season, they have their own ideas about what should happen next.

HUBBARD: They are most definitely taking their relationship to an intimate level. A more intimate level. They're going to college. They're going to college. So, you know, topics and situations are deriving out of that.

MICHEAUX: Because as kids grow older, it gets so complicated for parents. I love that Eddie and Jen get to try and struggle with these issues.

WHITFIELD: Just like they hope, real life, off screen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, everyone agrees - pinups, right? But Marge Simpson? Why? We're going to talk about that in our chatroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's take a look at our top stories right now. Arizona Senator John McCain is weighing in again about whether U.S. troop numbers should be strengthened in Afghanistan. McCain is urging the president to listen to the advice of his generals and increase deployment. And he has a specific figure in mind. McCain does. He says that sending anything less than 40,000 more troops would be, "an error of historic proportions."

And Senator - I'm sorry. Was a senator. Now U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is continuing her five-day tour of Europe with stops in London, Ireland and Northern Ireland today. She's urging Irish leaders to end the deadlock between Catholics and Protestants and follow up on the peace process. Tomorrow she addresses lawmakers in Northern Ireland before heading onto Russia.

And a Hawaiian priest has become a new Catholic saint. Pope Benedict XVI canonized the Belgian born priest known as Father Damien today. The 19th century priest devoted his life to helping lepers on the island of Molokai before dying from the disease. President Barack Obama who was born in Hawaii, says he remembered stories of Father Damien from his youth.

All right. This is the moment we turn the newsroom into the chat room. That's why Bonnie Schneider is joining me now. We've got a few, kind of fun pop culture e-type thing and news e-type things to talk about. We'll talk first with kind of an eyebrow raising one for some. ESPN has a magazine. Its first launch this week. They've got the covers of six different athletes in rather provocative and risque situations.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, some are not -

WHITFIELD: Meaning they're nude or partially clothed.

SCHNEIDER: Right. Some of the athletes were actually saying that they think this is promoting a positive image out there. Because you don't have to be as a woman 100 pounds. You can be strong and still look beautiful.

WHITFIELD: And beautiful. I mean, these are beautiful images. Serena Williams there. Who are some of the others? Adrian Peterson, Dwight Howard, NBA star Clair Bevilacqua. I hope I'm saying it right.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, a nice variety of athletes from the sports, too.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's pretty fascinating. And a lot of these athletes are saying, you know what, it helps to stretch them, so to speak. This is also Ed Reid. This is a conservative shot.

SCHNEIDER: "American Beauty."

WHITFIELD: Yes. It is very "American Beauty." And he actually has pants on. And the roses are kind of covering a good portion of his body. But anyway, nonetheless, very beautiful. A lot of these athletes saying it allows them to kind of exude something more than the athletic, I guess, demeanor they have. A little sex appeal, too.

SCHNEIDER: I'm sure it will do well.

WHITFIELD: Speaking of sexy, Marge Simpson.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. This is a questionable one. But I guess for Simpson fans. Marge is a center fold. At least she will be. WHITFIELD: Yes. She will be gracing the cover of "Playboy." "Playboy" said this is their tribute to the "Simpsons." This dysfunctional American family. 20 years was the first time we saw them on the tube. And now she there on the cover of "Playboy" magazine.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Look at her expression. She looks a little startled. I don't think she was expecting to be on the cover.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's real cute. And apparently, there's also an inside article. "The Devil in Marge Simpson. Who knew?"

SCHNEIDER: Oh, I wouldn't have known that. And I learned yesterday that the other animated character featured in "Playboy," do you know this one?

WHITFIELD: No.

SCHNEIDER: Jessica Rabbit.

WHITFIELD: Oh, really?

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: In it but not on the cover.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Some would agree that that was very appropriate.

SCHNEIDER: An all new set of animated models.

WHITFIELD: Taking risks also, Cirque du Soleil. For many, many years, they continue to tour. Right now, they're touring as well but it's the founder who really put a lot on the line, including a lot of bank. $34 million. Lalibert went to the International Space Station and spent how much doing that? $34 million. Huge. He's back now, in Kazakhstan.

SCHNEIDER: He wore a red nose in space.

WHITFIELD: All in the spirit of Cirque du Soleil.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Remember to check those out?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. I watched it and I have to say I was confused.

WHITFIELD: Really.

SCHNEIDER: It's beyond artsy.

WHITFIELD: It is.

SCHNEIDER: I think I saw it in Las Vegas. There's a lot going on. WHITFIELD: Your eyes are everywhere. The latest one I guess is called Cavaliere - am I saying that right? That's the latest one - Cavalia, that's the latest one that's touring.

SCHNEIDER: It's definitely something to see if you haven't seen it. There's nothing else like it.

WHITFIELD: That is very true. All right. Thanks so much, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks for having me in the chat room.

WHITFIELD: All right. Back to the NEWSROOM now.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

WHITFIELD: Speaking about an office romance? I know. That is part of our, I guess, news agenda here this weekend. Find out what you need to know first.

And also straight ahead, the dramatic aftermath of a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll talk with the Coast Guard about a rescue at sea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A 22-hour standoff at Pakistan's version of the Pentagon is over today. The bloody siege ended when Pakistani commandos freed dozens of hostages, killing several of the hostage takers in the process. Our Reza Sayah has the latest from Islamabad.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A tense and deadly standoff that lasted nearly 24 hours inside the Pakistani Army's headquarters finally came to an end Sunday when commandos and security forces stormed the Army headquarters, capturing one of the militant hostage takers alive, killing four remaining militants and rescuing dozens of hostages. Army officials say three hostages were killed during the rescue operations.

Let's recap for you this dramatic standoff that began 12 noon local time on Saturday. That's when military officials tell CNN a mini van packed with armed men, all of them wearing camouflage uniforms, attacked a check post outside the main gate of the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi, just outside the federal capital of islamabad. There was a fierce gunfight. Several military peronnel were killed. At least five militants were killed as well. Army officials say five remaining militants managed to penetrate the Army compound and take dozens of hostages. These militants, according to officials carrying explosives and grenades, several of them wearing suicide vests, obviously a horrifying situation for these hostages who were face to face with militants wearing explosives.

During portions of the standoff, officials say they were in contact with the militant who is did make several demands. One of the demands, the release of fellow militants who had been captured over the past few months by security forces. The army said they rejected that demand. Their priority was to get these hostages out safely. Early Sunday morning around 6:00 a.m. Local Time, they finally launched a rescue operation.

Again, four of the militants were killed. Two of them, according to officials, blew themselves up. One of them captured alive. Again, the standoff over. Now the fallout, the aftermath, certainly doesn't look good for the Pakistani government. Militants targeting and penetrating the heart of Pakistan security apparatus. But the Pakistani government says they are not backing down. They say another military operation is coming soon. This time targeting South Waziristan (ph). South Waziristan (ph), of course, a Taliban stronghold. According to Washington, a safe haven for al Qaeda.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland is weighing in on the war in Afghanistan and the worldwide hunt for al Qaeda. The Vietnam War veteran talked with us in the "CNN Newsroom" yesterday. He said the issue is not the number of troops that the U.S. will eventually have in Afghanistan, but the effectiveness of the policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAX CLELAND, (D) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: We have to rethink why we take military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For me, there's only one reason. That is that al Qaeda is there. We've got to focus on al Qaeda and go after al Qaeda and killing and capturing the al Qaeda leadership, Bin Laden. And the Taliban leaders that are in Pakistan will now see the invasion, in effect, of the security forces by the Taliban.

And we don't want them to gain any weapons that are in Pakistan. So the real issue for me is never muddy boots on the ground. That's counterinsurgency and that is defensive where the bad guys can come get you. The real issue is really to go on the offensive. We need to kill or capture them before they kill or capture us.

WHITFIELD: So am I hearing you also, in agreement with some of the generals that are saying we need more; we need more U.S. troops in Afghanistan? The White House trying to figure out is that the best way?

CLELAND: No, no, no. Not necessarily. The question of killing or capturing Osama Bin Laden and his terrorists is not necessarily a boots on the ground issue. It is using our air assets. It is using our naval assets. It is using our human intelligence. It is using our NATO allies. That's the way you put the squeeze on al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. For more on that Cleland interview check out my blog. He's promoting his book. He talks about surviving Vietnam, surviving Walter Reid and surviving Karl Rove.

All right. Now a dramatic rescue at sea. Three downed fliers are in good condition after being pulled from the Gulf of Mexico. Their small plane went down on a flight from Tampa to Marathon Key in Florida. They clung to a lobster buoy for 12 hours until they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Joining us right now by phone is Coast Guard Petty Officer Christopher Hopton. He's one of the sailors who pulled those fliers to safety.

All right. Well what did you see when you finally located them? Did you know exactly where to zero in on locating them?

CHRISTOPHER HOPTON, PETTY OFC. USCS (via telephone): No, ma'am, we did not. We were on a search pattern that our inspectors asked us to run. We were 22 hours into the search. On our fourth leg we happened to spot them off our star board bow.

WHITFIELD: So for them they had been kind of bobbing in the water there for roughly about 12 hours or so. What kind of condition were they in?

HOPTON: They looked tired, of course. But overall they seemed to be in good condition. When we brought them on board, they had minor injuries and a possible back injury.

WHITFIELD: What happened to their plane? Why did it go down, do you know?

HOPTON: I can't say why it went down. From talking to the pilot, he said he heard a loud noise such as a backfire. The engine stalled shortly after.

WHITFIELD: OK. And so all of them were holding on to this lobster buoy. The buoy didn't have any kind of life vests or anything like that; they didn't have time to grab any kind of apparatus like that from their planes, right?

HOPTON: No, ma'am, they did. They were able to grab two life jackets which were inflated. And the life jackets and themselves were tied on to the crab pot which was a smart thing to do. It increased their probability of detection by staying in one spot.

WHITFIELD: So that is in part why they were able to survive and endure for 12 hours in the water?

HOPTON: Yes Ma'am.

WHITFIELD: All right. Christopher Hopton thanks so much. I'm sure it's nice to get a call like that and carry out a rescue mission and you're able to say all those involved actually survived.

HOPTON: Yes, it was.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much for your time. I bet they're very grateful, too, to have been rescued.

All right. With so many high profile office romances cases recently from late night's David Letterman to Senator John Ensign, we had a lively one hour discussion about romance in the workplace Saturday. One of the questions I asked, "Do coworkers involved in a romantic relationship have to worry about legal ramifications from consensual relationships?" Employment attorney Robin Bond had this to say followed by Bruce Weinstein.

ROBIN BOND, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: If it's consensual the only thing you have to make sure you check is does your employer have a particular policy that controls whether or not you can lose your job because you date someone. It could be perfectly legal activity. But the employer prohibits it in his workplace. So that you do have to check, check for policy. What is the rule here?

Secondly, if you are dating someone in the workplace, it could limit your promotion opportunities. And certainly your romance is going to be conducted under the microscope of office gossip and politics. Because everybody in the office kind of pays attention to what's going on. And this could, you know, be a reflection of your judgment like I said or your promotion.

WHITFIELD: Interestingly, you are saying your upward mobility is being jeopardized for not necessarily because you are dating the boss or you're the boss dating an employee, but simply because the chatter around the office place that could compromise your reputation, your credibility in the workplace?

BOND: Absolutely. Or your ability to be promoted in the group because they won't let you manage someone in your own group. You know, if you're dating them.

WHITFIELD: Interesting, too. You have sort of some points that we'd like to highlight. There are about four or five points. Particularly, if you're thinking about getting into a relationship with someone you work with you need to keep these things in mind. Know the company's policy. You went over that. Take it slow.

BOND: Take it very slow. I always say get to know this person to make sure that this person is really worth the risk to your career. And, you know, third --

WHITFIELD: Be aware.

BOND: Be very aware. I suggest get to know somebody through lunches or, you know, really just taking your time getting to know them. You can't rush into an office romance.

Third, of course, don't use the office e-mail system to write love notes or express your passion. Because there is no privacy in the office e-mail. This has been the down fall of many an executive.

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, THEETHICSGUY.COM: Here's the problem ethically, Fredricka, with office romance. You know that saying what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? When you're dating someone at work, what happens in your bedroom does not stay in your bedroom. It's just inevitable that you will bring all those problems with you to work and it violates the most fundamental ethical principle of all. Do no harm. Because you and your romantic partner can be harmed by this relationship, especially when it fizzles out. It can harm morale in the office, it can harm your productivity, it can harm your relationship with the company that employees you.

So it's understandable that you would want to hook up with people at work. But ethically it's problematic because of the potential to violate the principle, do no harm.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So I'm hearing you say that forget it. Don't do it. Don't think about it. Do not engage, period.

WEINSTEIN: Well it's certainly the case that if a manager and a subordinate should never under any circumstances have a relationship because of the imbalance of power that exists between manager and subordinate and the potential for abuse of power. But even between coworkers it's problematic at best and disturbing or potentially harmful at worst because, let's face it, most relationships don't work out.

WHITFIELD: Lots at stake there. You want to see more of that show? Go to CNN.com/fredricka. We'll have both interviews on the page. We still want to hear from you. We have been hearing from you all weekend about workplace romance. Josh Levs is in sifting through much of this and you're going to share some of that with us, right?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's why I was in that picture there. We had this whole hour yesterday. Usually we'll spend the 4:00 hour talking about some major news stories. You got the H1n1, the economy, health care. We took a little different tack yesterday. Man, are we hearing from people. Fred coming up I will read some of the best, and maybe some of the controversial responses we got to this topic.

WHITFIELD: Look forward to that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Time for some top stories right now. Critics of Texas Governor Rick Perry are claiming cover up. Perry has replaced a fourth member of a panel investigating whether Texas executed an innocent man back in 2004. Critics say he's trying to squelch the investigation as he campaigns for a third term as governor.

And if the president wants more troops for Afghanistan, he'll get them according to the top Republican in the U.S. Senate. Kentucky's Mitch McConnell says fellow Republicans will support a call for more U.S. troops to be deployed to Afghanistan. Republican Senator John McCain says it would be an, quote, error of historic proportions if the president decides against it.

And President Barack Obama says he will fulfill his campaign promise to end the U.S. military's don't ask, don't tell policy the president gave a speech last night to the Human Rights Campaign. America's biggest gay rights advocacy group.

Back to that romance in the workplace. We spent a full hour talking about this yesterday. Including how often it actually happens. We've been hearing from you a lot. Josh Levs has some comments that you've been sending all weekend long. It just doesn't stop. LEVS: It doesn't stop. Like we said yesterday, David Letterman is one thing that got people talking about relationships at work in general. There's also a really happy piece of fiction that was really popular. The wedding. I love to watch this. I think my wife tivoed this.

WHITFIELD: Well they really promoted it heavily and there were a lot of folks talking about it after the fact. I didn't see it either. Sorry.

LEVS: Let's go straight to these, I want to show them what people have been writing us. This is first the blog, CNN.com/fredricka or CNN.com/josh.

Jan, "I married my boss in December of 1960. we had a beautiful marriage until he passed away in 2000. He was manager of an electrical engineering dept. and I was on the drawing board. Fred, she went on to tell us that it helped her understand him. The stresses he was dealing with. She understands his work.

Check out the next one. We do start to hear a kind of exchange back and forth. Chris says, "Can we stop people from eating or breathing in the workplace? Relationships are something that you simply cannot stop from happening. When will we realize nature does not have a pause button?"

That's a response from some of our experts yesterday, saying there are all of these rules follow the rules, do what your office says, right?

WHITFIELD: Yeah. There were some interesting, I guess, points or rules of engagement that we went over.

LEVS: Yeah. And they say who cares what the rules are, nature is going to do what nature is going to do, an interesting take. Let's go to the next one. I want people to see the back and forth we got going.

Ann says, "It makes a very handy excuse for someone who might not want you to know they are already involved with someone else. It's very easy to say, Let's not tell anyone because of work rather than having to make an excuse so that word does not get back to a significant other. Starting a romance in secrecy is a bad idea all the way around."

WHITFIELD: OK. She's talking about a tryst.

LEVS: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: An unacceptable, across the board unacceptable romance in the workplace.

LEVS: If you don't realize it, you just think that you're dating someone, but they've got something else going.

WHITFIELD: Too complicated.

LEVS: Let's go to this last one. Here's someone who's against it all. Janis says, "If a woman is smart, she won't admit to having such a relationship, especially with her boss. Having done it myself I know it always gets out and colors the woman's professional life for years."

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's what Robin Bond, the attorney who was with us, that is what she said. It's hard to escape that.

LEVS: Prices to pay, for sure. Really quickly, let me zoom in. That was some posts from the blog. We got you going here at facebook as well. Karen, who wrote, discretion is the better part of honor. It is no ones business. Period. Here's my twitter page over here. Quentin, never a good idea. Interpersonal and professional relationships should be kept separate. Someone should quit.

WHITFIELD: Quit the job?

LEVS: That's his take.

WHITFIELD: I like that we're hearing all sorts of different takes. That's what makes it fun. That is what made it a very riveting hour.

LEVS: We are getting so many responses to this. A lot of people are saying they found it interesting. Let's go to how you can join in on this conversation. CNN.com/josh. Facebook or twitter. Joshlevscnn. Go there. Join us.

WHITFIELD: Very good. All right. Thanks so much Josh.

Speaking of workplace romance, people would love to be in love with their jobs if only they could find one. Except for this man right here. He has a job he loves, and he's been doing it for a long time. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: I'll agree. Everyone loves a comfy pair of shoes. In these troubled times of the economy, many people are trying to get more life out of their footwear. So Boston photo journalist Bob Crawley talked to cobbler who has been repairing shoes for decades now. It's part of our "Americana in Focus Series" on jobs that last.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON HASSELL, COBBLER: I'm a cobbler. People don't know what that is. Shoe technician, I tell them. I used to be the youngest that I knew of. When I started when I was 20, it was all old guys doing it. I'm close to 50 now, still one of the youngest around. I worked with my grandfather. He did this -- I want to say 100 years but not quite. It'll look brand-new when I'm done. I had this machine take my shirt off one time. I got too close.

Sometimes I get a favorite pair of shoes. This guy wore this one to death. They want to keep them at all costs. It's a niche business. People who use cobblers use cobbler. People who don't, don't. It's definitely picked up since last year. Maybe there's more and more people now using cobblers that didn't before because of the economy. Better than I thought they were going to turn out. This shoe runs about $125, maybe a little more. For $12.50 you can have new heels put on it. You can't throw that shoe away. Makes economic sense to me. It's pretty cool. They get pretty happy.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): They're beautiful.

HASSELL: You get that all the time. It makes you feel good. You're doing something. You're appreciated. Bye, thank you.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Take care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, me, too. I'm a cobbler devotee. We cannot live without them. Join us next Saturday at 3:00 Eastern Time for an entire hour of stories on American jobs that last just like his. CNN's photo journalist take us inside classic American jobs being done much the same way that they were done generations ago. It is a special hour October 17th hosted by Tom Foreman.

A Colorado Saturn dealer is hoping for a last-ditch reprieve. General Motors ended Saturn production earlier this year after a deal to sell the brand the Pensky automotive group fell through. Now dealer Phil Long is asking Pensky to reconsider and save the brand. He's urging Saturn fans to help out by visiting a website, Foreversaturn.com.

Jim Dexter, a writer in the newsroom owns a Saturn. You can see his reaction to Saturn's apparent demise on our newsroom blog at CNN.com/fredricka. It is a great piece of journalism, great writing. Personal story telling from our Jim Dexter.

Let's check in with our meteorologist Bonnie Schneider. The weather is all over the map. Super hot temperatures in south Florida. And now tornado damage as well?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's what happens when you have really warm air in one part of the country and then really cold air elsewhere. When they come together it can get volatile. It happened in Kentucky on Friday. Now we're seeing the damage by an f-2 tornado that was on the ground in Kentucky, incredible damage. Homes are completely demolished in Casey County. And this is one of many tornadoes that hit areas of the heartland on Friday and even into Friday night. Tornado damage reported in Tennessee as well. Unfortunately this time of year is when we see a lot of tornadoes coming around in fall as we transition from those warmer months to the cooler months.

Right now we are seeing a little bit of heavy downpours in terms of thunderstorms not in Kentucky, but in Texas and Louisiana. Notice all the thunderstorms riding up along the Gulf coast, hitting New Orleans right now. We are also getting plenty of rain between Austin and Dallas. So if you're driving in that direction this afternoon be on the lookout. Because you will be facing some downpours in this region as we go through the day.

Generally the big picture shows that we do have the hotter temperatures farther up to the southeast. And a lot of rain across Texas and the Gulf coast. Watch out for heavy snow. Heavy snow is definitely in the forecast as we go through the overnight period tonight into Monday. Take a look at all the snow that's forecast to fall from South Dakota all the way up to northern Wisconsin. So we're looking at between one and six inches of snow in the higher areas, towards South Dakota and Wyoming, that's where we're going to see a lot of snow in this region.

What about temperatures? It's cold enough to support that. The high in Billings only 19 degrees. Still very hot, though, across Florida in the 90s here. Right in the middle is where we have the little thunderstorms, temperatures in the 70s in Dallas, Texas. If you're wondering about travel delays, just to let you know we only one delay in San Francisco due to low clouds.

WHITFIELD: Just one on a Sunday? That's a shocker. A great way to start the new workweek. Thanks, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WHITFIELD: It was a movie role that turned into a lifelong commitment, 20 years after she starred in "Gorillas in the Mist" actress Sigourney Weaver talks about her cause next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Acting and activism. Two passions of Sigourney Weaver, the three-time academy award nominated actress who starred in the 1988 film "Gorillas in the Mist." Well she played a conservationist who dedicated her entire life to saving mountain gorillas from poachers in Rwanda. Since then Weaver has been working to protect these threatened animals and their habitat in Africa. And she is the honorary chairwoman for the Gorilla Fund International. Well yesterday I talked with her about her latest campaign to save orphaned baby gorillas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIGOURNEY WEAVER, ACTRESS & ACTIVIST: Unfortunately there are enough of these little gorillas who've been kidnapped, you know, for international sale, probably. We discovered one little gorilla who'd been stuffed in a suitcase and brought from Africa six hours. It's still alive. And now is thriving. But we need a place where we could care for these gorillas until they're old enough to form their own group and go out into the wild.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The Gorilla Rehabilitation Center is set to open in March in the Congo.

Coming up in the 6:00 o'clock Eastern hour, President Barack Obama says he will make good on his campaign promise to end the Pentagon's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Do Gay Rights activists believe him? Our Don Lemon talks to the president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Also at 6:00 o'clock, Don asks nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner why he wants posthumous pardons for two of his great uncles. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, and you know what? Today is my dad's 85th birthday. Mel Whitfield, Happy Birthday! And pick up the phone; I've been trying to ring you.

Fareed Zakaria is coming up next.