Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Bold Kidnapping in Iraq Ministry of Education; Iran May Agree to Talks; Bush Meets with Big Three Automakers; Meth Addict Shares Story

Aired November 14, 2006 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.

They're known as the big three. Power brokers of autos. America's auto industry visiting the Oval Office. But there are a couple of things they won't ask for from the president.

PHILLIPS: Smoke it, snort it, shoot it up. No matter how meth gets in your body, it's an awful lot harder to get it out of your life. We'll hear from the men who know.

LEMON: A secret agent fit for the queen. Oh, yes, we're live from London for a red carpet who's who, surrounding the new Bond, James Bond, that is.

You're live, in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: Lightning fast in broad daylight. A mass kidnapping in Baghdad today. People who were scholars, workers and security guards one moment were captives the next.

Let's get straight to the Iraqi capital. CNN's Arwa Damon bringing us up to date -- Arwa.


That kidnapping, a brazen act on the part of the insurgents at about 10:30 this morning in broad daylight in central Baghdad.

We are hearing that at least 80 gunmen drove up to Iraq's minister of higher education complex and entered one of the buildings. They were dressed as Iraqi police officers, wearing a combination of both the new and the old Iraqi police uniforms, claiming to be on official business.

They stormed the building, rounded up all of the occupants, separating the men and the women. They left the women behind, locked up inside one of the rooms, and kidnapped up to 100 of the men. This, according to the minister of higher education.

Iraqi police, though, do put that at a lower number, saying that about 60 men were actually kidnapped. We are hearing right now that 16 of those men have been released, most of them Shia. The minister of higher education saying that he has repeatedly asked both the ministries of interior and the ministries of defense for increased security, both at the ministry itself and at universities across the capital, saying that university professors and students, scholars, are constantly the target of these insurgent groups, asking for more protection.

Today, all indications of why he would be making those requests, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: What more can you tell us about this attack and how it's affecting the state of the country's educational system?

DAMON: Well, Kyra, this attack affects a number of levels of Iraqi society here. The educational system has suffered greatly in the last 3 1/2 years. There has been a massive brain drain happening in Iraq over the course of the last few years.

We are seeing the country's best and brightest flee. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi professionals have fled the country, many of them fearing the violence. And this has created a massive brain drain.

And amongst the Iraqi people, events like this, the fact that something like this could happen in broad daylight in the middle of the capital, really underscores the emotion amongst most of the Iraqi people that there is absolute nothing that anyone can do to keep them safe.

Baghdad has up to 70,000 U.S. and Iraqi security forces that operate in it. And yet we are seeing an act like this in broad daylight, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Our Arwa Damon, live in Baghdad.

LEMON: Well, next door, the president of Iran is all smiles. He's savoring a nuclear milestone, conditionally willing to talk to the U.S. and claiming he is committed to nuclear regulations.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is the only U.S. television reporter in Tehran, and he joins us now live -- Aneesh.


Iran's president at a rare press conference today said he'd talk to the U.S., but there are conditions, as you mentioned. He said as well the country's nuclear program will go forward.

All of this, a sign this is a country desperate to be seen as an equal by the U.S.


RAMAN (voice-over): Not since the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the ensuing capture of American hostages has Iran so dominated world affairs. It's why Iran's president these days can't seem to hold back a smile, because a country once bordered by two enemies, Saddam's Iraq and the Taliban's Afghanistan. A country that, over the years, methodically built alliances with Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, sees right now as its defining moment, one with Iran as the superpower in the Middle East.

And if there was any doubt, add in an Iraq that appears to be falling apart and suggestions the U.S. should talk to Tehran.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): As for the U.S. government, we've always said we'll have a dialogue, but under certain conditions that have been created as a result of the behavior of the U.S. government. If they fix their behavior towards us, we will have a dialogue with them, because that's the principle of our foreign policy.

RAMAN: Direct talks would help give the Islamic republic the stamp of approval as a regional power. But if the U.S. talks to Tehran, some analysts here and elsewhere say, Iran's president would have little reason to back down on his nuclear program, a program that's become a rallying point of pride in the country, even here at this reformist newspaper, where you find some of Ahmadinejad's hardest critics.

JALAL KHOSHCHEHREH, EDITOR, KHARGOVARAN NEWSPAPER (through translator): Iran accepts that the U.S. is a superpower, but every time Iran's power is discussed, the U.S. portrays it as a threat.

RAMAN: But timing is everything. And the U.S. must now decide what is a greater threat: Iraq in chaos or a nuclear Iran.


RAMAN: And Iranian leaders clearly, for the most, think the answer is Iraq. And Don, as the U.S. tries to find a solution there, they feel they will have to, the U.S., deal with Iran and accept it as a regional power.

LEMON: But Aneesh, if the U.S. does talk to Iran, is it possible Iran will halt its nuclear ambitions?

RAMAN: No, in fact, I mean, as far as I've seen, it will be quite the opposite effect. Iran has said that if it is talked with by the United States, it wants to be seen as an equal. And in that is Iran being allowed to pursue its nuclear program.

Iran really feels it has the leverage here. It has arms throughout the Middle East in terms of influence in Lebanon, in the Palestinian areas, as well as in Iraq. And it feels that there's really no clout within the international community to pressure them to stop the nuclear program, especially given the situation in Iraq and the need that is being discussed to get Iran as part of the solution.

The question is what can Iran really do in Iraq? It's denied it's doing anything to destabilize the country. And parts of the Sunni insurgency there are fighting the Iranian influence as much as they're fighting against the U.S. or the Iraqi government. So that will be put to test if, in fact, this hypothetical comes to fruition and the U.S. talks with Iran -- Don.

LEMON: All right. The only U.S. television reporter in Tehran, Aneesh Raman, thank you.

PHILLIPS: A lot of energy, a lot of new faces and a lot of questions on Capitol Hill. Elected just a week ago, the newest members of Congress are posing for pictures and learning their way around. There are more than 50 new House members, 10 in the Senate, most of them Democrats. They get down to business in January.

LEMON: Well, for the first time in 12 years, Democrats will be in charge. Their leader in the Senate, to no one's surprise, will be Harry Reid of Nevada. He was elected a short time ago as majority leader for the 110th Congress. He's been minority leader for the past two years.

Dick Durbin of Illinois was elected majority whip. Senate Republicans elect their leadership tomorrow.

And a familiar face wants back in the game. Former Senate majority leader, Trent Lott, is going after the job of minority whip. Lott returned to the back benches four years ago over comments many saw as racially insensitive at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday celebration.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's been a long, hard road for the big three U.S. automakers, at least two of which are deliberately getting smaller in hopes of merely surviving. And today, big wheels from all there -- or all three, rather, are discussing their uphill battles with President Bush.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joins us now live from the White House with that -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, yes, that meeting between the president and the heads of the big three automakers is about to begin in about ten minutes.

The White House certainly has sympathy for Detroit, at this time of transition. It understands that these companies are hemorrhaging cash, losing billions of dollars. Very hard hit by the cost of providing health care to their more than two million employees, retirees, and their family members.

But the president himself will be applying some pretty tough pressure this afternoon for change, pushing Detroit to make vehicles that are, as he put it, quote, "relevant." In other words, fuel efficient vehicles, hybrids, vehicles that use alternative fuels, in order to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

White House press secretary Tony Snow on today's meeting.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's certainly going to express his support for the American auto industry. And it's important to -- that the auto industry has, in fact, been looking at innovative ways of coming up, you know, hybrids and others. It's important to have innovation. And he's also going to listen to their concerns.


KOCH: Besides helping -- getting help lowering the cost of health care to their employees, the automakers also want to see a more level playing field internationally.

They are very concerned that Japanese automakers have an unfair advantage because the weakened yen makes autos produced in Japan less expensive here in the United States -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Right. Now, the president heading to Asia later today, right? What's on his agenda there?

KOCH: He's going to be heading to Asia later. But first, he is going to be having another meeting that was added to his schedule here t the White House.

At a little after 3 p.m. this afternoon, he'll be meeting with the officials from the Republican National Committee. And what the -- the outgoing chairman, Ken Mehlman, again, is leaving that organization.

The president will announce that Florida Senator Mel Martinez and current RNC general counsel, Mike Duncan, will be voted on in January to split the responsibilities that Mehlman now holds.

And again that before the president heads to an Asia Pacific summit for eight days. And that summit being held in Hanoi (ph), Japan. They'll be focusing on items like terrorism, bird flu and trade -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Kathleen Koch, from the White House, thanks.

LEMON: All right. Let's head now to the weather center for meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. She's following some severe weather for us -- Jacqui.


PHILLIPS: Yes, it's amazing what we can get live nowadays.


PHILLIPS: Thanks, Jack.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

A shot in the arm, a step toward the grave. More on one man's near fatal attraction to a deadly drug. That's next in the NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: Flu season is here. And with it, a new warning about a popular flu drug. What you need to watch for, especially if you're a parent. We'll have that straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: The teen next door. A mom from your child's play group. The man would sits next to you at work. Any one of them could be hooked on meth, and you'd never even know it.

Meth is bad news for everybody, but even worse for gay men. It's causing the HIV rate after years of decline to go up. And a new documentary hopes to shed some new light.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I quickly started shooting it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And like in your arm and showed me exactly how to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then it hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I could feel my pupils just go woo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything became clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like 20 sparklers were going off in my head all at once.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On top of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh, I like this. I could really get to like this.


LEMON: Now in that movie -- it's called "Meth" -- you'll meet a man named Mark. But he didn't reveal his whole story in the film. I had a chance to sit down with Mark in the NEWSROOM and discuss his addiction.


LEMON: Very interesting movie. Why did you do it?

MARK KING, FEATURED IN "METH" MOVIE: I did it because I wanted to tell the truth about what's going on. And I thought Todd Ahlberg finally had a opportunity to say what's going on in the gay community with crystal meth.

LEMON: Do you think it's an accurate portrayal?

KING: Yes.


KING: Because it talks as much about the seduction of the drug as it does about the downside. And gay men would not be doing this drug if they didn't see an upside to it, if they didn't fall in love with the seductive qualities of the crystal meth.

Lemon: It's been in the news a lot lately, with different stories. And when you see it in the news, and you see the characters involved, are you surprised by any of that?

KING: No. No. You're referring to Haggard? I couldn't help but smile a little built when heard about the crystal meth aspect of that story, because it's so culturally specific: crystal meth and gay men. That when, you know, you learn that the guy might have been involved with a gay escort and then crystal meth was involved, it made perfect sense.

LEMON: Why do you say that? And of course, he's saying -- he's denying it, saying he threw it away. And so we have to believe, because that's what he says. So we have to believe that.

KING: Fine.

LEMON: But you're saying that this is just another example of how pervasive the drug is?

KING: Yes, especially on that plateau of gay community. People who are sexually activity, escorts, massage -- people like that. That drug is really pervasive, because it has this strong sexual component to it. It's known as the superman's sexual type of drug.

So you have gay men who are repressed, are trying to express their sexuality. They want to get rid of their inhibitions, which the drug is known to do. So certainly -- certainly some man, any man, who is trying to explore some repressed homosexuality would find that drug very attractive.

LEMON: Yes. Talk to us about -- about your struggle. How long have you -- you admit to being a meth addict?

KING: Yes.

LEMON: How long have you been a meth addict?

KING: Eight years.

LEMON: Eight years?

KING: Uh-huh.

LEMON: And tell us about your life.

KING: I was a community leader. I was educating gay men. I was director of an AIDS agency. I devoted my career to helping gay men understood the risks of HIV and even recreational drug use. I perverted all of those values, because I fell in love with crystal meth, and that became my life.

LEMON: Yes. Are you still using?


LEMON: How long have you been clean?

KING: Four months.

LEMON: Four months?

KING: Relapse is a big part of my story.

LEMON: During the -- during the documentary, everyone watched. And I was in the audience watching. Everyone saw it. And you were clearly one of the characters who seemed to have it all together. You were in this beautiful house, which was yours. You were with your partner.

And then in the Q&A afterwards, you admitted what, what during the filming of the movie?

KING: I was high as a kite. When I did the interview for the movie, I was high. I had gone out the night before and used. It is a -- tragic, but it's a great example of how we compartmentalized our denial of our drug use.

I could use all night and go up, get up and go to work the next morning and be a functional human being, or at least kid myself that I could. Many addicts can. They can be highly functional until the drug starts eating them up from the inside out.

LEMON: So you've lost everything?

KING: Yes. I had an important career where I thought I was really helping my community, a relationship, a home, a job. They are all gone.

LEMON: Where are you living in?

KING: In a halfway house in Fort Lauderdale. I live in a halfway house with a group of other addicts in recovery.

LEMON: What do you want people to know about this?

KING: I want them to know that it should not be our dirty little secret anymore. And by that, I mean gay men's dirty little secret. We'd rather not discuss it.

And it reminds me of the early days of AIDS, where there was a lot of things we rather -- didn't want to discuss because we're so protective of our sexuality and we're very protective of our image in the community at large. We can't be protective of that and get clean and recover as a community the way we need to. LEMON: Mark King, thank you.

KING: Thank you.


LEMON: And meth is the second most popular illegal drug in the world, with an estimated 35 million users. If you want to hear more about Mark's story and those of the other men profiled in that documentary, visit the film's web site,

And coming up later on in the NEWSROOM, I'll speak with the man behind the movie, director Todd Ahlberg.

PHILLIPS: Just in time for flu season, a warning about one of the most popular flu meds, Tamiflu. The Food And Drug Administration is adding a new precaution to the Tamiflu label, telling patients to watch for strange behavior, up to and including hallucinations and delirium.

The new warning comes after dozens of incidents in Japan, most involving children. And the FDA says it's not clear whether the abnormalities are linked to Tamiflu or the flu itself.

LEMON: New findings on red meat and breast cancer. In a study of roughly 90,000 women, younger women who ate a large serving of red meat every day had almost twice the breast cancer risk of those who ate less. Researchers see a number of possible explanations, including hormone residues in beef.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, empty halls in an unusually bustling Baghdad office building. A huge and brazen kidnapping stuns the Iraqi capital. We'll have details straight ahead.

LEMON: Plus, for generations, they've been called the big three, and they'd like the White House to help them stay that way. The U.S. automakers take a road trip to Washington. And you'll get the story straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Apple's iPod has some new competition. As you can see, Don is already checking it out. Very big name in technology.

LEMON: Hey, Susan, this thing is really cool.


LEMON: Susan joins us from the stock exchange to tell us about it. What is it called, the Zune?

LISOVICZ: It is the Zune, and that's Microsoft's answer to the iPod. Hold it up so everybody can see.

LEMON: There was a little video, I wanted to show everyone. It plays a video. PHILLIPS: It's got a bigger face and good clarity.

LEMON: Yes. This is...

LISOVICZ: Well, it's compatible with the Xbox 360. That's actually one of its selling points, which Microsoft introduced a year ago.

LEMON: Is that upside down? There you go.

LISOVICZ: There it is.

LEMON: So that's video. I don't know what that is. And then it's got music and all that stuff. But you know, it's a little bit heavier than the iPod.

LISOVICZ: But it is a groovy new device.


LISOVICZ: And it's about the same cost, actually, about $250. It's about the same power, 30 gigabytes, or I should say storage -- storage capacity. It will cost just under $250. It is comparable -- comparable to the 30 gig iPod.

But there are a few differences with what you're holding there, Don. The Zune's online music service will offer a monthly subscription for about $15 with unlimited downloads. But you can't own them; you're just renting those songs, in addition to buying individual songs for 99 cents.

Microsoft is promoting the Zune's built-in wireless connection. This is different. Which allows songs to share songs -- allows users to share songs with other nearby Zune users.

In other words, if I had a Zune and Don is holding a Zune, we would not be able to share it together. So it's something you have to be in close proximity.

So it's not revolutionary, but the Zune yet, one of the most high profile attempts to take on Apple's iPod and iTunes dominance. Five years running, that's pretty much been the only game in town -- Kyra and Don.

PHILLIPS: Can it make a dent in the iPod's market share at all?

LISOVICZ: Well, when you're Microsoft and you have those kind of deep pockets and that kind of brand name. And you know, Microsoft is committed to doing this. That entertainment has changed our lives.

We look at movies and television and videos differently. We listen to music differently. So they want to get in on that -- those kinds of profits.

But the Zune's been getting mixed reviews. It could be years before it turns a profit. Microsoft says it's willing to spend more money and invest to see if it pays off. Well, this is only day one. So we'll see -- we'll see how it goes.

Kyra and Don, back to you. Enjoy your new toy, Don.

LEMON: OK. We will. We will.

PHILLIPS: We still have more questions. We'll ask you during the break.

LEMON: We'll ask you during the break about this Zune. But it -- you know, the picture's great.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Susan.

LISOVICZ: You got it. We'll see you later.

PHILLIPS: All right.

LEMON: All right, thank you. We'll be right back.



LEMON: What can be harder than fighting a war, facing and overcoming mortal danger, then returning home to family? Well, how about finding a job?

CNN's Dan Simon reports on the uphill battle many Iraq wore vets face in the civilian workforce.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Josh Hopper survived two tours in Iraq. When he left the Army in May, little did he know he was about to throw himself into a different kind of battle, the battle to find a job.

JOSH HOPPER, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I spent every day, fighting for an opportunity, just trying to at least find an opportunity to even fight for. And then when I find one, I lose the battle every time.

SIMON: Hopper's Army background is in telecommunications, but here in his small hometown in northern California, the 24 year-old says no company will touch him because he's unfamiliar with some of the more modern equipment now in use. He's even tried applying for low skilled jobs, but to no avail.

HOPPER: It's just failure after failure after failure is piling up on me. It's nothing I ever envisioned that would happen.

SIMON: Recruiters tell enlistees that the skills they learn in the military will help them land jobs once they get out, but the numbers seem to tell a different story.

The unemployment rate for young veterans is much greater than for those who never served. In 2005 the unemployment rate among veterans aged 20 to 24 was just over 15 percent, nearly double the rate for non veterans in the same age group.

The most recent statistic suggests the problem may be starting to get better. The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor say two factors contribute to the high jobless rate. Some vets take unemployment benefits once they're out rather than seek a job immediately. And the youngest veterans have little experience when it comes to searching for a job.

JIM NICHOLSON, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Employers ought to consider what kind of a young leader are they going to have with their team in their company. They're just ideal candidates for employment, so it befuddles me that more aren't hired by employers around the country.

SIMON: One man says he knows the answer.

LARRY SCOTT, VAWATCHDOG.ORG: It's a dirty little secret. People do not like to talk about it. I am finding actual discrimination out in employers. Employers do not want to hire veterans.

SIMON: Larry Scott is founder of the website He says in some cases, employers are actually frightened to hire veterans, fearing they may have mental illness. Scott, an Army veteran himself, cites this 2006 report from the Insurance Information Institute that warns employers, among other things, to be on the lookout for mental health problems. While the report says the majority of veterans will have no difficulties, it also says, quote, "Hundreds of thousands will carry the psychological wounds of their experience with them for many years after their tour of duty ends."

SCOTT: What happens is you're painting a negative picture to employers. This report and other reports like it are saying look, veterans can cause problems and you should stay away from them.

SIMON: The Insurance Institute disputes that saying, quote, "The idea that this report somehow creates a problem for returning veterans is bogus. What the article does is it spells out the responsibility of the employers to each and every one of these veterans."

As for Josh Hopper, frustrated by constant rejection, he decided to go back to school taking classes at the community college. Before joining the Army, he worked at a grocery store.

HOPPER: If I stayed at my previous job, the one I left, I would have been making $19 an hour now, so I'm not sure how the military helped me out in any way.

SIMON: Even so, Hopper is proud of his military service. But he can't help questioning where it got him.

Dan Simon, CNN, Ukiah, California.


Dan Simon, among the CNN correspondents reporting for "PAULA ZAHN NOW," weeknights at 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN. The midterms are over. Can the final be far away? An early look at election '08 coming up in the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Jump start maybe. Tow? Well, not yet. As we mentioned, Detroit's big three carmakers are looking for a way around their colossal financial troubles. But, in their meeting today with President Bush, they say they're not after a bailout. So what are they after? And will it help them gain ground on their overseas rivals? Joining us with some insight, auto analyst Lauren Fix. Lauren, is the problem big enough to meet with the president?

LAUREN FIX, AUTOMOTIVE ANALYST: Well, I think it's good he be aware of the economic impact that the car manufacturers have on the United States as a whole.

LEMON: So, people want to know why. What can the president do to help the situation?

FIX: Well, I know what manufacturers obviously don't want to have debt, they want to sell more cars. And if it affects the economy, the president has to be involved. But, I think part of it is health care and part of it is, of course, the fuel, the flexible fuel options and what's out there and what we can do to help the big picture.

LEMON: Well, the fuel options, that's really on the consumer end, as far as spending money to buy gas. But really is a big issue here health-care, because health-care, I've been told, it's like $1,000 in every car that's built? You take that money and you account for health care for that? That's a lot of money.

FIX: That is a lot of money. You've got to remember our health care costs are absolutely crazy. I know that the -- the Congressman from Detroit -- from Michigan is try to get through some bills to help get the government to help subsidize that. And, of course, the manufacturers are also upset that the Asian manufacturers are getting some help from their governments by softening the dollar against their currency against our currency, is allowing them to bring their cars in at less cost. And of course we're producing vehicles here in the United States and we have to bring components in from overseas. It's affected a lot of people, not just in the big picture, but even in small communities.

LEMON: Yes, wasn't to talk about that. But first, let me talk about -- there was a report that came out that said that health-care rose 7.7 percent this year. It's like $11,500 this year to -- for a family to take care of its -- of itself, at least as far as health- care. So either they do something about it or the layoffs are going to start to come for the auto industry, correct?

FIX: Well, it's not just the auto industry, it's all industries. You're watching the fact that it's affecting every industry across the country and what can we do about it? I'm not a health-care expert. But, I can tell you from the automakers' perspective, they have to raise the costs somewhere. And if you start laying off people, I mean, it's only going to hurt everybody as a whole.

So, the best thing you can do is again, try to come up with ways for U.S. consumers to purchase U.S. cars, to help bring our numbers up. One of the things you can do is take the mask off the diesel. Start offering diesel vehicles in New York and California. We can't get them. I live in New York, I can't get a diesel vehicle other than a truck and that would definitely help me purchase more American cars.

LEMON: Real quickly because I want to get through a couple things here. Let's talk about, why just the big three? Because other people manufacture cars here. There are other companies. Toyota, for one. Why not the other companies?

FIX: That's a good question. There are a lot of production facilities here, but you have to remember, the profits remain in the United States with Ford and GM and most of Chrysler, because they are DaimlerChrysler now. But even though Toyota, Nissan, Honda, even Kia are producing cars here in the United States, they are giving us jobs. But the profits in the end go back to other countries.

And they're trying to get as much of our market as they can. Even India is starting to try to merchandise cars in this country. China is starting to do it. So you know, with that in mind, the big three auto manufacturers are just trying to level the playing field. I mean, we do make great product and they are trying to step up. It's all based on what the cars are worth down the road. And us as consumers, you know, we do have some power in what -- where we put our money.

LEMON: And the big meeting today, we're anxiously awaiting to see what come out of that. Because most people, as you know, Lauren, need a car. So thank you very much for joining us today in the CNN NEWSROOM.

FIX: Thank you, Don.

PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to the NEWSROOM. T.J. Holmes working details on a developing story -- T.J.

T. J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a developing story. We've got some pictures we want to share with you of a bridge coming down. We'll try to get those pictures up for you now. This is -- whoa, my goodness gracious. No, there were no vehicles on that bridge. Of course, this is in Kingston, Tennessee. This is just a little outside of Knoxville. They're bringing this bridge down, this old bridge. About 75 years old. Over the Clinch River there, in eastern Tennessee. But they hope to do this earlier in the day and actually had a few delays. But they strapped about 54 pounds of explosives on this bridge and took that sucker out, as you can see, just there.

They actually have a new bridge that's right next to that that they're actually -- it's up and running, been used, and cars been going across. Just an interesting shot we had our eyes on today and just wanted to share that with you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Whether a Vegas hotel or bridge in some random part in the country, it's exciting, right?

HOLMES: We like to see things go boom.

PHILLIPS: There's a song about that. Thanks, T.J.

HOLMES: All right.

PHILLIPS: Election 2008, ready or not, the race is getting started. But, who will be in the running? CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider has a preview.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Last week's midterm was the first primary of 2008 and it showed a big market for outsiders who can promise change. That's good news for Rudy Giuliani, who took the first step towards a presidential bid. It's good news for any Republican who can speak the language of bipartisanship. Here is one.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Are we doing the things, organizationally and legally, that need to be done to prepare for it? Yes.

SCHNEIDER: His strong national security credentials are no small thing, after a midterm where Iraq was a big issue. Neither Giuliani or McCain is particularly trusted by conservatives, Giuliani especially because his positions are more out of line with those of conservatives -- abortion rights, gun control and gay rights.

Do conservatives have a strong contender for 2008? Auditions are open. Senators George Allen and Rick Santorum were once talked about as hot prospects. No more. Bill Frist was badly tarnished as well after Republicans lost the Senate. Newt Gingrich is also mulling a bid. He has been out of the game long enough that he gets to say I told you so. Mitt Romney's lieutenant governor lost the race to succeed him as governor. But, not doing well in Massachusetts could be a plus to Republicans.

On the Democratic side, several potential contenders can claim foreign policy expertise, Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden. And John Kerry? The 2006 campaign was not so good for him. The anti- war message was powerful this year. Is there a candidate to carry that banner for 2008? Not this one.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: I never reached the point where I really wanted to run for president.

SCHNEIDER: Which could clear the way for Al Gore, the Democrats' Mr. I Told You So.

Economic populism had a lot of resonance this year. That's John Edwards' message. But two Democratic senators were the clearest winners. Hillary Clinton coasted to reelection in New York.

Next question: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will you address the question of whether you will be running?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: You know, I am going to relish this victory.

SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama is the Democrats' new star -- less political baggage than Senator Clinton, outsider image.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Nothing would happen -- nothing that happened tonight would discourage me from -- from making that race.

SCHNEIDER: His limited experience a problem? Not if the market for change stays strong.

SCHNEIDER (on-camera): Politics is all about the moment. The Democrats clearly had the moment in 2006. But that doesn't mean it will there be in 2008. In 1994, Republicans had the moment -- President Clinton was toast. But two years later, Clinton easily won re-election. The moment had changed.

Bill Schneider, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: 2008 presidential match-ups are very much hypothetical and rightly so, but that never stopped pollsters from polling. In a CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, Republican senator John McCain runs virtually even with Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton. McCain gets 48 percent, 47 percent choose Clinton. Hypothetical race between former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Clinton is closer. 47 percent choose Giuliani, 47 percent choose Clinton.

In the wake of 9/11, he was America's mayor, now Rudy Giuliani has formed a campaign committee for a potential run for president. Here's a look at the pluses and minuses that Giuliani faces.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): There are at least two Rudy Giuliani's. America's Churchill in the immediate hours and days after the Twin Towers attacks. The hard as nails mayor rallying a frightened and devastated city as it struggled to come to terms with the deadliest terror attack in the country's history. Rudy the rock, the savior of a city and nation, at least in the eyes of many.

But five years after 9/11, the halo may be fading. Some critics warn that America's mayor is a George W. Bush clone. Some of the allegations -- failure to act on the warnings of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Didn't do enough to protect rescue workers at the trade center site from toxic dust. His tenure as mayor, as secretive as the Bush White House. Hypes his record as crime fighter. As mayor, trampled on the First Amendment. Giuliani is also at odds with conservative Republicans on key issues. He supports gun control, same-sex civil unions, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion rights. And there's the divorce issue. The Catholic Giuliani is married to his third wife. The divorce from the second was messy and played out in the media. Giuliani makes few apologies. He embraces his role as hero. And remains a hero to many, especially in the nation's midsection. And in the words of one corrections officer in Florida, I can't forget the display of leadership and courage and compassion on 9/11. That goes a long way.


LEMON: You can call this one a political deja vu in Florida where a recount is underway in the state's 13th District. Republican Vern Buchanan leads Democrat Christine Jennings by just, get this, 373 votes. Complicating matters are one county's touch screen vote machines showing that 18,000 voters or 13 percent of the total did not vote for either candidate. Well, that's a much higher undercount than in surrounding counties. Both candidates are attending freshman orientation this week in Congress, just in case.

Well, on his first day on the Hill, one freshman met the man who's unwittingly helped him get there, the officer who had a run-in with Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Hank Johnson defeated McKinney in the Democratic primary just months after that incident.

He told reporters he sought out officer Paul McKenna yesterday to thank him for his service. McKenna said McKinney struck him after he stopped her when she bypassed a security checkpoint. She initially claimed he stopped her because she was a black woman but later apologized for the, quote, "misunderstanding."

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, he's full of idea, full of enthusiasm and the only new Republican senator. Senator-elect Bob Corker joins me in the NEWSROOM in just a few minutes.


PHILLIPS: Snow, wind and rain, severe weather on the horizon. Jacqui Jeras, what's going on?


LEMON: We're going to take a sneak peek right here. There's the music, creeping in. He stepped into "007: shoes. But can he fill them? That's the question. Last night, Daniel Craig made his official debut as James Bond at the London premiere of "Casino Royale." CNN's Paula Newton has more.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Casino Royale" is getting the royal treatment. Even the queen turned up to see Daniel Craig debut as the new James Bond. This "007" will be a back to the basics Bond. No gadgets, more grit. And Daniel Craig, certainly beefed up and anted up for this role. He's made sure to do a lot of his own stunts and a lot of the scenes are pure action. Producers are hoping that Daniel Craig can carry this. This is one of the most valuable franchises Hollywood has. It is the second biggest earner after the "Star Wars" series.

A lot of critics called this James Bond bland, James Bland. But he is going the distance, Daniel Craig, to try to prove them wrong. And so far, a lot of the critics like what they see here. Whether or not he can actually carry that through a few sequels remain to be seen. But there is a lot at stake, in fact, billions at stake in this franchise. Paula Newton, CNN, London.


PHILLIPS: On the job at the U.N., but will he stay much longer? A closer look at the never-ending debate over John Bolton. See it right here in the NEWSROOM.