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President Obama Holds Speech in Wisconsin; Arizona Governor Under Fire; Craigslist Censors Itself; 57 Days Until Election Day; 'Burn a Quran' Backlash

Aired September 6, 2010 - 16:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Do you expect this administration, this president will continue hammering away the way he did today during this speech, which -- which, by the way, seemed at times like more of a stump speech than a presidential speech in the middle of his term?


This is about the president campaigning for the midterms and campaigning for the Democratic Party, looking ahead to the midterms. He is speaking here to the Democratic base, I mean, truly, labor unions, and, as Doug points out, a special interest.

But we're all special interests in this country. Whatever bloc you fall into is something in some way a special interest and the Democrats and the president would argue these are working Americans and these are blue-collar Americans that he is speaking for and speaking to today.

And he is trying to get them jazzed up for his candidates because if he loses this group, then really the Democrats are in big trouble. So, he is trying to remind these folks that Social Security, all these -- the 40-day workweek, all these things that -- things that the unions worked for, are in jeopardy and that's why you have to be excited about this campaign.

So this is really about speaking to Democrats in a political year right now, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, it seems to be what Democrats have been wanting the president to do.

By the way, I know we're into the 4:00 hour now. And normally we pause and restart, but this is an important discussion. Let me just continue it real quick by bringing in my colleague Wolf Blitzer.

Two things that are going on here, Wolf, and I would like to get your studious reaction to this, given all the interviews that you do and all the people that you talk to in Washington. There's no question that the president has been getting a lot of heat from the left, saying, look, talk like we talk. Hammer those Republicans. Do the things we want you to do.

At the same time, the Republicans -- the president used this speech as a way of almost saying, look, America, there is the fat cats over there, the rich guys, and they're with the Republicans. And then there's the rest of you over here, and we have got to do everything we can to help the rest of us because those guys are going to rob you blind.

I mean, it seemed to be the message that he was giving. And interesting how he was incorporating middle-class Americans into that subgroup. Was that not the strategy that we were hearing?


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he was certainly in full campaign mode in Milwaukee today, Rick.

This was a very populist speech addressing the base of the Democratic Party, members of the AFL-CIO. At one point -- and this was not in this prepared speech, because we have the text of this prepared speech, and he acknowledged he was deviating from the text -- when he spoke of his critics and he said these words. He said, "They talk about me like a dog."

He is angry. You can hear that in the tenor and in the substance of what the president of the United States is saying. And he really went after the Republicans. He went after big business. He delivered a very strong statement when he said: "All of these folks are involved in greed and recklessness. We didn't come this far by letting special interests run wild. We didn't do it by just gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street."

All of those folks who think he is very anti-business, this speech will only reinforce that accusation against him. We have heard from some top business leaders he is the most anti-business president ever and I suspect these words that he is uttering today will reinforce that.

SANCHEZ: But on the other side, Wolf, don't you think for those who have found him too cool on the left, the progressives who say, look, this president needs to go out there and fight for us and use the kind of rhetoric and the language that we do, this was a speech that kind of gave them that. Right?

BLITZER: Right. This was definitely a speech designed to appeal to the left, to appeal to the Democratic base, that he is a fighter, he's going to go fight for the middle class and take on big business, take on the Republicans, take on John Boehner, he says, who is already getting ready to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

This is precisely what the left wants him to do, what the base of the Democratic Party wants him to do. He is very good at it. He delivered a powerful speech today. But it's certainly not something that's going to unite. It's going to further divide the Democrats and the Republicans.

He's going after some of those independents. And it will be curious to see how they react to this new phase in this campaign now less than two months from November 2 and the midterm elections. SANCHEZ: Ali Velshi is joining us now at the top of the 4:00 as well.

Ali, what did you see? And, you know, you look at the economic side of this. There are some new numbers out today that seem to show that more and more Americans are taking jobs that they don't necessarily want, but you know what? Any port in a storm, buddy.


SANCHEZ: Sometimes you don't get the job you want. You get the job you can get at the time.

So, the president is pushing on special interests, seeming to be blaming corporatists for keeping Americans from those jobs. That's what I heard. Is he right?

VELSHI: Let me just give you a little perspective.

Doug said something that I think needs to be challenged here. There are special interests in this group. There's no question. And everybody caters to them. Working men and women of America and those 14 million who are not working who would like to be, they are not a special interest group.

You want GDP to go up? People have to have jobs. You want to stop foreclosing on homes? People have to have jobs. So to say that the president talking to working people is pandering to a special interest is quite remarkable to me.

Now, back to the point, the fact is you're right. This was a campaign -- this was a president on fire. This was a president who was back into campaign mode. But the reality is there is an anger out there that we have seen in our polling that indicates that people feel that not enough is being done and this is an urgent situation in the economy. And I think it is better that we all treat it that way and that's the kind of conversation we're going to have.


SANCHEZ: Hey, Ali, you mind -- since you kind of challenged Doug there a little bit, you mind if we bring Doug in to let him respond?


VELSHI: Absolutely. I would be happy to. I think he makes a lot of sense on a lot of things, but we do not call workers in this country -- we do not call workers in this country special interests, Doug. You need to learn that.

DOUG HEYE, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, no. Absolutely. People who work, who drive the economy -- small business is the engine that drives this economy.

VELSHI: Absolutely right.

HEYE: That's why it was interesting to say that "The Washington Post" today had a story that said small businesses feel squeezed by Obama policies.


VELSHI: Small businesses are squeezed because they can't get loans from private banks.

HEYE: But loans have not driven jobs yet.

Look, I was the former -- I'm former press secretary to the Small Business Administration. I know how important our 7(a) loan program is. I know how important contracts and access to capital is. These are critical for business, no question about it.

So is predictability. So are low tax rates. So are fiscal policies that don't squeeze our credit.

VELSHI: Doug, how many businesses do you know that don't make decisions to hire people because they're concerned about government policy? That is a big business problem. It's not a mom and pop shop problem. They want credit.

HEYE: No. You can talk to small businesses throughout this country...

VELSHI: I do, Doug.

HEYE: ... that have laid off people because of the health care bill that the president and this Congress has passed.


VELSHI: But that's not unpredictable, Doug.


VELSHI: ... predictable. We have a bill. We know what it is. That's not unpredictable at all. There is one thing that is very predictable. We have health care in this country now.


HEYE: Well, and we did predict that.

And look, you want to find out really where this country is going? You don't have to listen to Republicans. You listen to Democrats like Joe Donnelly, who is running ads against President Obama. Mike McIntyre from my home state of North Carolina, he is running ads against Obama.

Bobby Bright in Alabama, another Democrat, suggested that Nancy Pelosi might die. OK, we want to talk about personal politics? They're coming from Democrats. They're aimed at President Obama because they don't want him campaigning for them.

It's probably why you saw Russ Feingold not stand with the president today. (CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Doug, before we finish this conversation, explain to us, because you have used this word very personal several times now. Do you believe that this speech that the president gave today was over the top?

HEYE: Well, it was exactly what we expect. So I don't know that it would be over the top. It's obviously unfortunate language...


SANCHEZ: Well, but you said he was too personal.


HEYE: ... and shows exactly how desperate the Democrats are.


SANCHEZ: OK. Was it too personal? Was this president unfair to Republicans during this speech? Was he too personal in the way he conveyed his message?

HEYE: Well, I think the veiled references to John Boehner were certainly beneath the office of the presidency.

But, look, the important thing is that we build jobs and create this economy. This administration has not shown that it has any clue how to do so. And that's what voters are going to be voting on in November. That's really what's important. It's why you're seeing so many Democrats fleeing from this president.

SANCHEZ: Good stuff.


HEYE: And, again, if the president wants to talk about what Republicans are doing, he should talk about what Democrats in his own party are doing.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Doug. Good stuff.

Ali, thanks so much for joining him.

VELSHI: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Jessica Yellin.

A spirited conversation, and it's the kind of conversation many Americans are going to be having as we move forward past Labor Day toward the midterms. And, man, we are going to be all over this here at CNN, as a matter of fact, so much so that here is what we're going to do beginning today. All right?

CNN equals politics. So, we're going to have an update on the politics every single hour on every hour here at CNN moving forward, RICK'S LIST, "ANDERSON COOPER," and Wolf's "SITUATION ROOM," "JOHN KING, USA," you name it. All right?

And here to kick it off for us is Wolf Blitzer once again.

Wolf, what do we have today?

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting that -- the president's new $50 billion proposal to create more infrastructure, create more jobs. We have been doing some reporting up on Capitol Hill with top Democrats and Republicans.

And guess what, Rick? The chances of this kind of legislation being approved between now and the midterm elections, November 2, in the words of our reporters up on Capitol Hill, the chances are virtually none. It's not going to be approved between now and November 2. We will see what happens afterwards. We will see what the results are in the elections.

But the president laid forward -- put forward a very detailed proposal today that is going to be widely debated and discussed, but it certainly is not going to become the law of the land between now and the midterm elections. We're just watching it and trying to get a better sense for our viewers of what's likely to happen.

SANCHEZ: That's the kind of reporting you can expect.

Wolf Blitzer, Jessica Yellin, my thanks to all of you. And we will be checking back with you in just a little bit.

Meanwhile, folks, take a look at this.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Here's what making your LIST today.

What jobs are out there for Americans on this Labor Day? What jobs are Americans taking or settling for? I have got the newest numbers that will surprise you.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.

SANCHEZ: Jan Brewer retracts her frightening story about headless corpses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the foremost aggressive sharks on the East Coast.

SANCHEZ: A Hemingway tale in the Potomac. No. Really? He caught a what? A shark. I'm talking to this guy live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went around to the passenger side and then busted out the passenger window with my baton.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to pull people out of a burning car before it blows? You are going to see it.

And, look out, Texas. There may be a hurricane coming your way. And we have got it covered.

The lists you need to know about. Who's today's most intriguing? Who's landed on the list you don't want to be on? Who's making news on Twitter? It's why I keep a list.

Pioneering tomorrow's cutting-edge news right now.



SANCHEZ: Wow, are we getting a ton of tweets after that conversation that we just had coming out of the president's speech. I mean, my Twitter board is really going here.

Let me let you know a couple of things. Because it's Labor Day, on a personal note, I have been laboring since I was a little boy. I came to this country as an immigrant. I came to this country as a refugee.

So, I have been working since I was yay high. And I remember, as a kid, my father would deliver furniture when he wasn't washing dishes on Miami Beach. My mother was sewing shoes at a factory, barely made $9,000, $10,000 a year.

I grew up poor, folks, OK? It is very simple. And, as a matter of fact, we basically just made enough by rubbing a couple of nickels together, as they say.

But I remember going with my father in the back of the truck, because I didn't fit in the cab, when he would deliver furniture, on a drive all the way from Miami or Hialeah or Hialeah Gardens to Boca, where the rich people lived.

And we would go there. And my dad would then deliver the furniture. And I had to carry the furniture out. This is hard, grueling work. And one day, when I was done, I asked the lady, fancy lady that she was, if she would give me a glass of water. And she said, no. Go out in the back yard. Drink from the spigot, as we call it in the South. Drink from the water hose, where the dogs drink.

Boy, I was mad. On the way back, I said to my dad, I said, dad, why would a woman treat somebody like that? That was so mean. My dad said, son, that lady just did you a fantastic favor. How could she have done me a favor, dad? He said, because she just showed you that, in this country, you got to work hard to really be able to make something. And guess what? It's a country that will allow you to go on and do things.

It sticks with me, like one of the most important lessons of my life. And it's a good story for a day like this. It's about hard work. There's going to be nice people. There's going to be not-so-nice people out there. But it's all about how hard you work. Speaking of that, that story that I just shared is one of the stories that I put in my book. The book is called "Conventional Idiocy." It's important because I'm -- what we are doing is, we're talking about you take conventional wisdom, which is what everyone thinks is the truth, and turning it upside down, turning it on its head. That's why we call it "Conventional Idiocy."

So, many of you tweet about this that I want to show some of those tweets. In fact, we are going to be giving a book away every single day here on RICK'S LIST on both shows and right now what we will do is we will choose the best two tweets of the day and give a book to those people who tweet, signed, autographed copy, if you want the autograph. If not, we will just send the book.

To the Twitter board we go. Let's see who has been chosen today by our intrepid staff. Not me. Oh, it's all about Ali Velshi. "Way to go, Ali, for clarifying working people are not a special interest. Tired of partisan hacks getting away with lies."

Bobby Apples, you're getting a book.

Here's another one. "Ali Velshi, thank you for finally challenging Republican misinformation."

That's Egberto Willies -- or is it Willies Egberto? One of those guys with two names. Both of you getting a signed copy in just a little bit. We will be in touch with you on Twitter.

And we have got so much coming up here in just a little bit, including the very latest on what's going on with a shark on the Potomac River. Now, we have heard of politicians and lawyers who are sharks sometimes, but, wait, a real shark on the Potomac River? How did it get there? Who caught him? I'm talking to the guy who did when we come back.

Stay right there.



And this story went right to the top of the LIST today. For any one of us who have ever fished, and that's just about all of us, right, whether we're fishing for catfish in Alabama or big game off the coast of the Gulf of Florida or wherever it is we go, Cape Cod, this story is somewhat inspirational.

This is a guy who is a fisherman. He gets the shock of his life. He caught an eight-foot-long shark, a bullhead shark -- or a bull shark, I should say. Pardon me. And apparent -- look at this thing. Now, OK, big deal, right? You're thinking, oh, he caught this in the Pacific Ocean, he caught this off the coast of Cuba or Jamaica or the Caribbean.

No, this bull shark which "The National Geographic" calls the world's most dangerous shark on some occasions -- yes, it does look pretty scary -- Willy Dean says he found this monster shark in his net last week.

Now, take a look at where it happened. Dean was fishing in the Potomac River. This is in St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland. Right? So let's go in. Let's go in. Let's go in. You're thinking, oh, this happened in the ocean somewhere. Right? No. We go in even more. We go in even more.

Exactly. I mean, he was near the place where the river enters the Chesapeake Bay, a river. So, it's not like saltwater.

I'm getting the inside story of this amazing catch now from the man, himself.

Willy Dean is with me by phone from Scotland, Maryland.

Willy, you there?


SANCHEZ: Who would have imagined that you would catch an eight-foot bull shark in a river?


DEAN: Yes, sir, I'm here.

SANCHEZ: Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe you didn't hear me. Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine you would catch a bull shark in a river?

DEAN: No, sir. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.

SANCHEZ: What were you using for -- what were you fishing for, by the way?

DEAN: My main target is menhaden (INAUDIBLE) for bait fish. But that particular morning, we were fishing for cownose rays for the Calvert Marine Museum exhibit. And that's when we came across the shark.

SANCHEZ: Ah. I imagine these waters are what, brackish, as little salt, half-salt, half-fresh?

DEAN: Yes, sir. That's -- it's brackish water. But we have not had any rain, so the salinity is pretty high.

SANCHEZ: So, the salinity is high. You think that is what caused this shark to come in this far inland?

DEAN: Yes, sir, I do. We haven't had -- we have had very little rain this summer. And we're going to...

SANCHEZ: Have you ever heard of anyone catching another shark like this in these waters?

DEAN: There was another one caught the same day five miles further up the river. But it's been years since there was any more caught.


SANCHEZ: Wait. Did you just say further up the river? You mean further inland then?

DEAN: Yes, sir, five miles further inland up the Potomac.

SANCHEZ: Wow. How big was that shark?

DEAN: It was 8'3''.

SANCHEZ: Two eight-foot sharks caught on the same day in the same river. How far, by the way, is that from the ocean? From the Atlantic ocean to where you caught that fish, how many miles is that?

DEAN: I'm not sure, sir. It's a...


DEAN: ... ways.

SANCHEZ: Give me a guess.

DEAN: I would say probably...

SANCHEZ: Would it be more than...

DEAN: I would say at least 40 miles or more.

SANCHEZ: Forty miles from the Atlantic Ocean...

DEAN: I guess. I'm not sure.

SANCHEZ: ... a bull shark caught on a river.

Well, that's -- well, hey, look, even if it's half of that, 20 miles, I mean, you know this area as well as anybody. What did you do with the shark, by the way, Willy?

DEAN: I have it in my walk-in freezer. And basically it's -- a lot of people come by to look at it. And the little kids are really enjoying it. And that means a lot to me.

SANCHEZ: Oh, that's great. That's great. What a fisherman's story to tell.

It is almost Hemingway-esque, this story.

Willy Dean, you're a good guy. I know you're busy today. We talked to some of your folks and they said he's out there fishing again, so it's kind of hard to get him. So, thanks for making time to talk to us and take us through this story. We appreciate it.


AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, we put some words in here, sweet, innocent, new girl, and we're going to see what happens. We will see if Craigslist is going to let our ad post. We will also see what kind of calls we get.



SANCHEZ: Sorry about that. Boy, you got to love Willy, man of few words, as they say. The staff here is getting a -- having a good time with this. It was funny.

Did you hear what Craigslist is doing? The Web site is making a dramatic move concerning its sex ads, as in ixnay, nixay changing them, no more. That is next. And in part it's because of a CNN investigation.


SANCHEZ: Oh, welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. This is RICK'S LIST.

You can get just about anything you want on Craigslist, anything you want. Today, you can't get adult services from the United States anymore. And that's making our follow-up list.

That is because the popular classifieds Web site is now censoring that part of its operation. The company made the move after criticism that it was promoting prostitution and child trafficking. The adult services section, which, by the way, used to be called erotic services, had ads for escorts and masseuses, that type of thing.

And it was pretty explicit in many cases. We did some stories on it. Attorneys general from 17 states got together to pressure Craigslist to stop displaying those ads.

And I'm maybe going to brag a little bit on my own network here. We at CNN may have had a little bit of something to do with this. Our own Amber Lyon has been all over this story. And her reporting may have helped convince Craigslist to make the change.

Amber is good enough to join us now from D.C. And she is working some graphics here for us to take us through this.

Amber, take it away.

LYON: All right, Rick.

Well, we have been trying to contact Craigslist since this went into effect on Saturday to figure out if this is a permanent change. But we haven't been able to get ahold of the company yet, so we don't quite know what's going on.

But one thing is for sure. Anyone who goes down to Craigslist and tries to access the adult services section, they're now met with this black bar that says censored.

Rick, this part of Craigslist definitely one of the most controversial sections, because victims advocates -- whoops, excuse me, just learning how to do this -- have been saying for years that women and children are being sex-trafficked under that portion of the site. And that's really what we focused on with our investigation, are these victims that are being sold as sex slaves?

And Craigslist came out in May of '09 telling the public that they're going to start manually screening all of these ads to make sure none of them are for women and children who are being sold for sex against their will. So what we did in our investigation is create this ad to kind of put a check on Craigslist, see if they're doing everything they promised the public they're doing.

This ad is for a potential child sex trafficking victim. We put code words in here indicating that could be happening. Also, clearly, $200 an hour.

After our investigation aired and after Craigslist posted that ad online, Rick, these 17 attorneys general from across the nation wrote this letter to Craigslist saying that pretty much, because Craigslist cannot or will not adequately screen these ads, it should just stop accepting them all together and shut down the adult services section, which is what happened over the weekend. But once again, we don't know if that's permanent -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: I've got to tell you, I mean, a lot of this was as a result of your report, the documentary that you filed. In fact, we've got a piece of it here. I want our viewers to see some of that.

Here it is.


LYON: One of the big things going on with Craigslist right now is they're saying they're monitoring all of these ads that come through on adult services to check to see if any of these girls are under age or young. So we put some words in here: "sweet," "innocent," "new girl." And we're going to see what happens.

We'll see if Craigslist is going to let our ad post. We'll also see what kind of calls we get.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw your ad on Craigslist.

LYON: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, what's your donation (ph) for an hour call?

LYON: So what is that now? We've had 15 calls and the ad has only been up for three hours. Fifteen calls in three hours.

(voice-over): Craigslist says its staff manually screens all of these adult services ads and will reject any that make it look or sound like you're selling sex. That may not be easy, but when we looked through the ads, most of them were pretty blatant.


SANCHEZ: Your report, I think, has pretty well forced this company to make some changes. Now, it's interesting, because there is a backlash now.

People who are with Craigslist, or officials with Craigslist, are now criticizing you publicly. Some are saying that you ambushed Craig Newmark, for example. And there are some criticizing you for talking to Newmark, the founder of the site, talking to the founder instead of the CEO.

What is your reaction to some of the criticism that you're getting from them, Amber?

LYON: Well, you know what, Rick? It's just one of those things, kind of the kill the messenger effect.

I think that once the attorneys general came out with this letter to Craigslist where they -- in three paragraphs talk about the findings of our investigation. So once the letter came out, Craigslist's focus kind of shifted to smearing me and my credibility and saying I'm a tabloid reporter and sensational, and just trying to make it seem like whatever we found in our investigation wasn't true. But one thing is for sure, Rick, Craigslist has never complained about any of the facts we had in our investigation.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting. Not the facts, just you, and they don't like the way you did the story.

LYON: Yes, kill the messenger I guess. You know?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Hey, good job. Good reporting.

LYON: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: You're tough. Appreciate that.

By the way, Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, took to Twitter to defend himself, and I want to share with you now -- can we go to the Twitter board? There it is.

"Sorry, but, one, I'm not CEO. You might be interested in some facts."

So there he is.

"Three, selective video editing can have a major effect."

One more tweet just to close this off on a funny note. This is Conan O'Brien, our laugh list. As usual, he had his own take on the Craigslist controversy. "Craigslist has shut down their adult services section. It looks like the used futon for sale ads are about to get a lot more interesting."


SANCHEZ: All right. We'll continue to follow what you're saying and what people relevant to the news of the day are saying as well.

Remember the Florida pastor who wants to burn Qurans on September 11th? I was the first to interview him. Well, guess what? Someone is criticizing him now, somebody who really matters.

General David Petraeus is now saying that Terry Jones and his church are putting lives of his troops at risk.

That's ahead, right here on THE LIST.

And with only 57 days until Election Day, we've got the latest from the campaign trail as well.

Stay there. That's next.


SANCHEZ: Hey, welcome back. This is RICK'S LIST.

And we here at CNN are, by golly, committed to following politics as well as anyone. No, better. Why? Because CNN equals politics. And this is a CNN equals politics update.

Dana Bash is here now with what is crossing the Political Ticker, and she joins us live.

Dana, what you got?

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Rick. And this is now on the Ticker. You can find it on

And it is the story that we did on a very important race here in Pennsylvania on the eastern side of the state. It's actually suburban Philadelphia, which really could be a telltale race of whether or not there will be a big Republican wave.

This is the incumbent Democrat, Patrick Murphy. He is having a rematch with the former Republican congressman, Mike Fitzpatrick.

This is something that wasn't really on the Democrats' radar nationally until about six months ago. And this is going to be something that they are really watching, to see if they actually do lose the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

We talked to both candidates and we also talked to a lot of voters. And I wanted to play a sound bite from one of the voters we talked to, because it really is indicative of the kind of race that these candidates are running and the kind of anger specifically that the Democrat is facing.


BASH: Tell me how business has been going.

GEORGE RAPINSKY, BUSINESS OWNER: Not well. For the past two years it's been bad. It's been actually bad. Nobody is buying floors. The construction business is down. Homebuilding is down. Nobody is fixing up.

BASH: Now, what has that meant in terms of your employees, people who have --

RAPINSKY: Well, obviously if I don't have the work then I have to lay them off.

BASH: How many people have you had to layoff?

RAPINSKY: About seven. And it's a small business, so seven people is a lot of people.

BASH: How much is that driving your vote this November?

RAPINSKY: Quite a bit. Quite a bit. The Democrats are not doing the job for me.


BASH: Now, that voter, that small business owner, George Rapinsky, said he actually voted for President Obama, Rick, and he said he is going to have a protest vote against the Democratic congressman. He doesn't care who the Republican is. And that is again kind of indicative of what the Democratic congressman there, Patrick Murphy, is facing when he is trying to talk to the voters and trying to convince them that he is somebody who should be re-elected.

One quick footnote that is quite noteworthy about that specific race, and that is that you hear the national arguments, the national narratives, the Democrats saying, well, don't drive us back into that ditch. Well, the Democrats think that this is a good microcosm, a test case for that, because Mike Fitzpatrick, again, was a Republican congressman during the Bush administration. And as you can imagine, Fitzpatrick is trying to say, well, Patrick Murphy is just like Nancy Pelosi.

It will be very interesting to see how that race goes -- 1,518 votes, that was the only difference in votes between those two men back in 2006.

SANCHEZ: Dana Bash is in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh, PA., once referred to my H.L. Lincoln I remember reading as a young man as the "libido of the ugly." Those were the words used by H. L. Lincoln to describe this town. That was back turn of the century when it was very much an industrial town.

No more, folks. I want you to know it's now a beautiful town, voted one of the best places to live in the United States.

In fact, you know what? Dana's crew just sent us this TwitPic from where she is. Look at the picture from behind the Express bus. That's the CNN Express.

That is Pittsburgh, PA., blue skies, beautiful day, beautiful people, although the first four weeks they're without Roethlisberger, just for the record.

All right. A church in Florida wants to set fire to Qurans this Saturday, nine years after September 11th. So could the event put the lives of U.S. troops in urgent danger?

Who is saying that? General Petraeus. That's right, he is blaming that man right there.

Also, do you know what's in your water? One family can set fire to theirs. What?

All right. We'll take you through this in just a moment. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Hey, welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

You go to your sink, turn on the tap, and then water comes out. Right? Did you see this? Well, not always.

Let's do "Fotos."

The Wilfong (ph) family has a problem. Their tap water is flammable. What?

Watch this. It catches fire.

It all started when they had a new well dug on their property, and suddenly the whole house stinks like natural gas and their water burns. Their water burns.

So far, utility crews don't know what's going on there. And in the meantime, the family is cooking and washing with bottled water.

Don't drink it. I know, it's weird. We'll stay on top of it for you.

Next, what you're looking at right here, this laser-focused dedication of 7,000 people showing the do-or-die trying attitude that makes Iowa the Hokey Pokey capital of North America. That's right. Show it to them guys.

Ready for this? It's a new world record -- 7,000 people rocking the Hokey Pokey all at once. We here in the studios out on Columbus Circle are going to be doing the Hokey for you in just a little bit as well.

It's in the record books, folks. There it is.

Good for you, Iowa.

One more. These things never end neatly and sometimes don't even make it to the launch.

Flugtag -- say again? Flugtag showcases home made flying machines powered by people and gravity. Mostly gravity.

It's the first time the Philadelphia area hosted the Red Bull event. Shockingly, not a single entry did a very good job of flying, but nobody expected them to anyway. We just show those for chucks and giggles.

That's "Fotos." And you can see them for yourself on my blog at That's

The extreme actions of one church in America are being heard around the world. The pastor there wants to burn Qurans. Now General David Petraeus in Afghanistan is sending him a strong warning. A general talking to a pastor outside of Orlando, Florida, that's next on THE LIST.


SANCHEZ: Five days from now a church from Florida is scheduled to burn Qurans because its pastor says Islam is of the devil. And the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan doesn't like this one bit. In fact, he says what that pastor in Florida is doing is putting his troops in serious danger, because already there's a backlash in different parts of the world. People are angry and they think it represents America.

Now, we first told you about this explosive controversy weeks ago. The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville is hosting "International Burn the Quran Day." It's this Saturday, September 11th.

I spoke with the pastor who is behind all of this. I was, to say the very least, flabbergasted with his attitude.

Listen to what Terry Jones told me about Islam.


TERRY JONES, PASTOR, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER: We're saying, stop. We're saying, stop to Islam, stop to Islamic law, stop to brutality. We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it is causing billions of people to go to hell.

SANCHEZ: You believe that.

JONES: It is a deceptive religion.

SANCHEZ: You believe that.

JONES: It is a violent religion. That is proven many, many times.


SANCHEZ: Terry Jones and his stunt are sparking outrage here at home and all over the world. Today, hundreds of Afghans protested the Florida church in the streets of Kabul, believing that it represents all Americans. Now even General Petraeus is blasting this pastor and this church, saying the event could endanger troops and the entire war effort.

Joining me now is Plemon el-Amin. He is the imam of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. I want to let everyone know that we've invited Pastor Jones. As a matter of fact, we thought that Pastor Jones was going to be here joining us on this newscast. He accepted, and then at the last minute he decided that he wouldn't join us.

Imam, thank you, sir, for taking us through this.

What do you make of this man's comments?

PLEMON EL-AMIN, IMAM OF THE ATLANTA MASJID OF AL-ISLAM: Well, it's a really quite uninformed comment. He says that he hasn't even ever read the Quran, and he doesn't know that he's going to burn a book that has some of the most beautiful passages about Christ, Jesus, throughout, as well as Moses, Abraham, and all of the prophets that he reads about and says he follows in the bible. But in America there is the freedom to be ignorant, and the only problem is in the world theater many people don't understand that particular freedom. And so what he is doing is like shouting "Fire!" in a theater, in a world theater, and people are upset.

SANCHEZ: What do you say to people like Pastor Jones and others out there who actually do have a very hard-line position on all Islamic faith? And they'll say, I've seen it right there in the book, things about bloodletting and world domination, et cetera, et cetera. What do you say to those people.

EL-AMIN: Well, first of all, he is quoted as saying that he has never read the book. In fact, he seems to be scared to touch the book. But what I say to him is that he should at least read the Quran so that he knows what he plans on burning.

The Nazis started by burning books, and then from there they began to burn people. And really, the Quran is not the physical book, it's what's recited. It's the word of God that was recited to Prophet Mohammed. And there are over a million people that know the whole Quran by heart. There are a billion Muslims in the world -- over a billion -- and a million of those know the whole Quran by heart.

So if he was really intent on doing that, he is going to have to start burning people.

SANCHEZ: But here is the point though. How do you cut through -- obviously what he wants to do is ridiculous, and most fair-minded Americans would say you don't do a man like that, you don't do his religion like that. Nobody would want it done to our bible, so it's wrong.

But the sentiment that he is keying in on is a sentiment that is felt by many Americans, that this is a religion that has been taken over by people and used to be anti-American and violent.

How do you as an imam convince Americans who are listening to you right now -- this is a great opportunity for you -- to tell them that they're wrong if they are?

EL-AMIN: And I'm a native-born American and chose Islam as my religion, and been practicing Islam for 36 years, and I have a stellar life in a community that shows that the Quran is not any of those things that he accuses it of being. But the Quran brings about the best of human life, which also is the same as the best of American life. So it's really education.

People have to have an open mind and begin to look at things, and stop thinking that just these little, small capsules of information that is being spread around is the reality.

SANCHEZ: Are we wrong --

EL-AMIN: And so the other thing I would do is ignore him from the media standpoint like we have many people on the corners saying the end of the world is coming but we don't put them on international media.

SANCHEZ: All right. We'll leave it at that then.

And my thanks you to, sir, for taking time to take us through this. Imam, we appreciate it. We'll look forward to talking to you once again.

You've heard what Pastor Jones wants to do and what this imam has to say about that. Right now we've got troops serving in Afghanistan where the population is very angry over this. What could that mean for them?

Wolf Blitzer is next with more on what our generals have to say about that. In fact, he has been talking to some and he's going to bring us that in just a little bit.

Stay with us. RICK'S LIST continues in just a moment.


SANCHEZ: My colleague Wolf Blitzer has reached out to a U.S. general in Afghanistan to get his reaction to this Pastor Terry Jones and the backlash it seems to be getting in different parts of the world. And Wolf joins us now to bring us up to date on what we might be hearing coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM" from this interview.

Take it away, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's a scary situation unfolding in a lot of the Muslim world right now based on what happens in Saturday down in Florida, if they go ahead and start burning the Quran.

I spoke with U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Caldwell. He is a highly-respected military commander in Afghanistan. We spoke on the ground while he was in Kabul. He's been there for almost a year.

And he is deeply worried that if they start burning the Quran, young American men and women in Afghanistan who are serving in the United States military could seriously be endangered not only in Afghanistan, but indeed all over the world. The anti-American outburst would be dramatic.

The interview -- by the way, we're going to have it in "THE SITUATION ROOM." That's coming up. But I was pretty surprised to hear how blunt he was, echoing what General Petraeus had said earlier, that if they go ahead and start burning the Quran, these folks in Florida, it will endanger young American men and women serving in the military. And he wants all of those folks in Florida who are thinking about this and elsewhere to be fully aware of the consequences of their actions.

SANCHEZ: All right, Wolf. Thanks so much. I'll look forward to that interview. I'm sure it'll make some news.

We're watching several stories for you, by the way. Let me run through them. Here is my roundup list.

Very frightening scene in Las Vegas. Did you see that wreckage on the street? That is not a car crash. That is a plane crash in the middle of the street.

It happened just a couple of hours ago, a small plane. The FAA says four people were on board and the pilot just couldn't gain altitude after takeoff. Down it went into the street in this residential neighborhood.

Look at that. We're waiting for more details, by the way, including the fate of the people who were on the plane.

Number two, deep underground in Chile, those trapped miners are keeping their spirits up despite a temporary stop in the work to try and reach them. Crews at one drilling site have only made it down about 85 feet so far before stopping.

The 33 men are trapped more than 2,000 feet below. Some sort of technical problem we're told would be fixed sometime today. Another drilling effort has managed to get through about 295 feet as of today.

And we'll continue to follow that story. Those poor guys.

Number three, the other side of the world, New Zealand. The cleanup will be long and starts now. People on the south island are still measuring the damage from that powerful weekend earthquake that we were first to tell you about here on CNN, 7.1 magnitude. Some aftershocks have already registered nearly that much.

We'll stay on top of that one as well for you.

Thanks so much for being with us here on RICK'S LIST. And we'll continue to give you as much information as we can tonight, on the primetime edition of RICK'S LIST.

I'm Rick Sanchez. Here's Wolf Blitzer.