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Benazir Bhutto Reacts To State Of Emergency; Crisis Of Violence In Pakistan

Aired November 03, 2007 - 17:00   ET


BENAZIR BHUTTO, FMR. PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: My country seems to have lost control over its own territory. Our armed forces, when they venture into the tribal areas, are either being kidnapped or they're being shot at. There's a high casualty in line. The moral simply isn't there and it's being propagated that our armed forces are fighting their own people. When, in fact, our armed forces are fighting a battle to save the unity and integrity of Pakistan. I believe that we have to involve the people in saving Pakistan. We need to go to the people of the tribal areas, empower them, give them a sense of participation --
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: But isn't fear keeping a lot of these people from cooperating in that kind of manner that you speak of because the threat is so tremendous. You know, folks are seeing their family members cut down or even their own lives jeopardized if they do act as, what some might call to be traitors.

BHUTTO: Yes, it is fear. You see, there is a minority that has the weapons and that minority is holding the population hostage. It's like -- when I returned to Pakistan on October 18th, the people came out with joy and happiness to celebrate my return because it gave them hope that democracy would come and that their problems would be solved.

But then the terrorists struck. Unless we can give the protection of the state to ordinary people, the militants will continue to hold them hostage. I feel that the present regime has failed in implementing the authority of the government and writ (ph) of the state, it's the collapse of governance, which has thrown people in the tribal areas to the militant wolves.

WHITFIELD: So, Ms. Bhutto, am I hearing you correctly in saying that you almost directly blame General Pervez Musharraf for helping to produce these safe havens in Pakistan, where there is terrorist activity, where, perhaps, in these safe havens someone like the Osama bin Laden, the most-wanted terrorist in the world, just might be taking refuge?

BHUTTO: I wouldn't like to go so far as to blame General Musharraf directly, but I would certainly say that many people in his administration and his security apparatus responsible for internal security make me feel very uneasy. And I believe that tribal areas of Pakistan could not have become safe havens without collusion of some of the elements in the present administration. And this is why I believe that regime change is very important.

I had hoped --

WHITFIELD: Do you Musharraf -- I'm sorry. Do you think General Musharraf knows where Osama bin Laden is?

BHUTTO: I don't think General Musharraf personally knows where Osama bin Laden is, but I do feel that people around him are many who are associated with the earlier military dictatorship of the '80s. That military dictatorship formed the Iran Mujahideen. The Mujahideen subsequently became Al Qaeda and Taliban. So I believe that break has not been made between the supporters and sympathizers of the Mujahideen and thereby, of the Taliban and Al Qaeda that is necessary. We need an administration and a security apparatus that does not have people with links to the Iran Jihad of the '80s.

WHITFIELD: So, Ms. Bhutto, are you also saying, then, that Musharraf's rule is also in part being dictated by the many assassination attempts on his life, those who had been threatening him as he continues on with this commitment toward the war on terrorism with the U.S.?

BHUTTO: Partially, yes. But I'm also saying that it's the governance that has failed. For example, this week one of the militant leaders, Amoldi Fakir (ph), held the press conference in the tribal areas, and he gave a direct threat to me that if I came Raul Bendi (ph), then his men were going to make another assassination attempt. And I got a taste of their kind of assassination attempt in Karachi.

Now, I ask myself, how can a wanted terrorist hold a press conference and the police not know, the administration not know, or are they simply looking the other way? And what is our internal security doing at a time that a wanted terrorist, wanted by the international community, wanted by Pakistan, is openly holding a press conference in the tribal areas of Pakistan? And this is what worries me, the fact that the administration is looking the other way when the militants operate.

WHITFIELD: And let me ask you before we let you go, and we appreciate your time and the extensive dialogue you're giving us now.

What was the motivation for you to return to Pakistan, one? And the motivation to return today and speak out in this manner about General Musharraf's intentions on this state of emergency?

BHUTTO: The people of Pakistan have given me their love, they've given me their trust, and I felt that it was my duty to come back to Pakistan for the election campaign of 2007, so that I could help them move towards democracy. I left for Dubai to see my children who had been very traumatized by the television scene of the carnage that took place upon my return.

And then I heard that emergency was going to be declared, so I cut back my visit to Dubai and rushed back to Pakistan to give support to the people. The people here have trusted me and they have loved me. And I feel it's my duty to repay that trust and that love by helping them save the country by bringing democracy, because democracy means addressing the real needs of the people, making them partners in government.

WHITFIELD: Was there a moment when you thought, perhaps, you would not be given access to come back Karachi, given that this is taking place in the middle of a media black out, in the middle of this state of emergency?

BHUTTO: Yes, I was very uncertain as I took the plane back as to what would happen when I reached Karachi. And I do appreciate the fact that General Musharraf has not taken the step to personally move against me, and that no arrest orders have been given for me, up to date. But at the same time, I feel it's very important for him to seek a political solution, and not a solution through force. Suspension of the constitution means suspension of the rule of law.

WHITFIELD: Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, in Karachi. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. Your very candid and strong assessments and responses to General Pervez Musharraf's installation of a state of emergency today.

BHUTTO: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: I'm Fredricka Whitfield in the NEWSROOM. Tony Harris is up with much more of the NEWSROOM.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Pakistan in turmoil and under a state of emergency. President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule today, saying it's needed to protect his nation from Islamic extremists. He also suspended his country's constitution.

The U.S. is not happy with all of this. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling in Turkey and spoke exclusively with CNN's State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee. Zain joins us now from Istanbul.

Zain, great to talk to you. What has been the secretary's reaction to these developments in Pakistan?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary Rice is now in Jerusalem, but a few hours ago she spoke to us in an exclusive interview with us in Istanbul.

Secretary of State Rice basically said that anything that takes Pakistan off the democratic track and off the track of civilian rule is a big problem, she said. The U.S. is deeply disturbed by this move by General Musharraf. This is how Secretary Rice put it to us just a short while ago.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I understand that there are difficult circumstances in Pakistan, but we've been very clear that extra constitutional means is not the -- would not be the way to deal with difficult circumstances.

But, again, the situation is just unfolding. I think we should wait for that, but anything that takes Pakistan off the democratic path, off the path of civilian rule is a step backward, and it's highly regrettable.


VERJEE: She also added in the interview that what the U.S. wants is to see a swift return to democratic and civilian rule. She said Pakistan has to move toward free and fair elections. She also urged the Pakistani people, everyone involved in this declaration of a state of emergency to be restrained.

She also said that violence has to be avoided. She says the U.S. is basically waiting for the facts on the ground to develop and for the situation to unfold. And when the dust settles, they'll be able to assess the extent of this, with a little more clarity. But she also said that this is a difficult time for Pakistan and that the U.S. really does understand that. She hopes that Musharraf will reverse course and live up to his promises and hold free and fair elections.

But, Tony, the U.S. really does not support the move that Pervez Musharraf has made today.

HARRIS: And, Zain, just a quick follow up, the idea that the United States being put in the position to sort of wait and see what develops here will be curious to some folks. Is there any indication from the secretary of State that she was aware that this move by Pakistan's president was imminent?

VERJEE: Well, we asked her that, and she said that she had spoken to General Musharraf several days ago, but she wouldn't recount the substance of their conversation. I would imagine it unlikely that she wasn't at least aware of it. Back in August, General Musharraf was saying I'm going to declare a state of emergency. Secretary Rice got on the phone and said don't do it and kind of walked him back.

Over the last few months, the violence of Pakistan has increased, both in the northwest frontier provinces as well as in major cities. So Pervez Musharraf had been making indications saying, look, I've got to basically install a state of emergency for a law and order situation, because it's a problem.

But it's also many see this as a bit of a power grab, Tony, because the supreme court was just about to rule on whether or not he could stay president. There were suggestions that they were going to say, no, he can't be president. This is a way of General Musharraf maintaining his own power.

HARRIS: OK, our State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee, traveling with Secretary Rice in Istanbul.

Zain, great to see you. Thank you.

Let's talk now with Mahmud Ali Durrani. He is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States and he is on the line with us -- actually, joining us live from Washington, D.C. Sir, good to talk to you. What is your reaction to the news today that your president, Pervez Musharraf, has declared a state of emergency?

MAHMUD ALI DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, I understand why he's done it. There are some major problems in Pakistan. And I think your channel has been covering them. We've had a lot of suicide bombings. We've had other problems by terrorists. Suwart (ph) is in a difficult position. We have even terrorists in Islamabad, so it is an unusual situation.

I wish he did not have to suspend the constitution, but this was imminent because extra constitutional measures were required to arrest this (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But I can assure you, he will go back and move on the part of democracy that is promised, his third phase in his program, and you will see that happening very soon.

HARRIS: Well, what happens next? Talk us through this process, through your eyes, and through your expertise. What happens next?

DURRANI: OK, very good. Now, there was a phase in which he was the ruler, he was the chief executive officer. Then we had a democratic dispensation. And he was overseeing that. Now, the next phase is he becomes the civilian president, and we have a total democratic setup. And this is going to commence as he had promised. It is going to commence sooner than later. That is, hopefully, we will have elections, we will have Musharraf as a civilian president, and it will be a full civilian government.

HARRIS: Why should we believe that? There are those who are saying that this is nothing more than a power grab in its extreme.

DURRANI: No, I think that's a bit unfair. He was in power and there was no problem in his power, and he was controlling everything already. So I don't think it is a power grab. And there was no chance of his losing that, so I think it's a bit unfair.

HARRIS: The former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in an extensive conversation with our Fredricka Whitfield just moments ago, suggested that very thing, that this is absolutely not the course of action that needs to be taken right now in the evolutionary process, moving towards a full-fledged democracy in Pakistan.

DURRANI: No, I heard the ex-prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. She said that, and she has a right to say that. But what all I'm saying is that this is a short move to bring the situation in Pakistan, the law and order, the terrorist situation under control. And we will move forwards for democracy.

HARRIS: Any concern that it will strain relationships with the United States?

DURRANI: Well, I hope not because the United States is a partner of Pakistan and this war on terror. And I am sure they understand the difficult times that Pakistan is going through right now.

HARRIS: But, as you just heard from our Zain Verjee, the secretary of State is not happy with this decision.

DURRANI: Yeah, I'm sure she's not happy. There are many people who are not happy, but we also hope that while they're not happy, they understand.

HARRIS: OK, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Mahmud Ali Durrani. Thank you for your time, sir, we appreciate it.

DURRANI: My pleasure.

HARRIS: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back we will update you on the situation along the East Coast. Sustained winds of 50 miles per hour in some parts, all related to what is left of what used to be Hurricane Noel. We'll talk to Jacqui Jeras in the Severe Weather Center in just a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy. Welcome back, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris. The deadliest storm of the hurricane season is beginning to rattle New England. There are a lot of trees being blown about, as you can see here, the remnants of Noel, the wandering storm that slugged the Caribbean.

Trying to watch the pictures with you here. The former hurricane isn't even a tropical storm anymore. But Noel could still make for a frightening night along Cape Cod, even as far inland as Boston.

Jim Acosta has been blowing in the wind. Along the banks of the Nantucket Sound, he is in -- oh, that is an ugly, ugly shot.

Jim, it looks like you've got your hands full there.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I won't take that personally, Tony, no.

Yes, New England is supposed to be nice this time of year, just not right now. Fortunately, we're not hearing too many damage reports at this point. We are seeing pretty much what will be the height of this storm here in Cape Cod. We're in Chatham, Massachusetts, which is expected to take glancing blow from former Hurricane Noel.

It is now an extra tropical cyclone is what the meteorologists call it. It's just downright ugly where we are. You can see the winds have picked up since earlier this morning. We were seeing gusts in the 30-mile-per-hour range. Now they're in the 60-mile-per-hour range. And they could get up to 80 miles per hour. Those gusts could gust up to 85, 90 miles per hour, forecasters say.

The officials at NOAA and local officials here in Massachusetts are saying the best bet is for people to stay inside, especially if you're in those mobile homes. People are saying you probably ought to seek shelter. There are shelters available in this area if people need those shelters.

And coastal flooding is possible as well. They're saying that much of this flooding may occur right when high tide is happening. You can just look over my shoulder. These vessels out here that you can almost not see, looks like a Stephen King movie out there. Those fishing vessels right there, most of those vessels were pulled ashore by the Coast Guard over the last 24 hours, as they did a sweep of this area to make sure that no vessels were out on the open water, because it's very dangerous.

But these are hearty New Englanders up here, they can take it. They're just going to stay inside tonight and probably enjoy a good bowl of hot chowder, I think. That's where I'm going, right now, I know.

HARRIS: Well, that's -- yeah, that's a plan. And let's release you so you can do that. Jim Acosta for us. Jim, good to see you. Thank you. Sorry about the conditions out there.

ACOSTA: You got it.

HARRIS: Let's get a check on those conditions. Jacqui Jeras is in the Severe Weather Center.


HARRIS: All the way back in the Caribbean now, the death toll from Noel is expected to grow, confirmed deaths, now more than 130. On Tuesday, the storm hit the Island of Espanola and triggered catastrophic flooding in Haiti. Thousands of Haitians are homeless, at least 48 are dead. At least 82 have died in the Dominican Republic. U.S. military rescue teams are being deployed into the crisis. The Dominican government says the number of homeless is at least 62,000.

Noel's leftovers, don't represent the only extreme weather. There is a flooding tragedy of epic portions in Tabasco, Mexico, to tell you about. They're calling it one of the worst in Mexican history. Incredibly, only one death has been reported. CNN's Harris Whitbeck is live with the latest.

And, Harris, if you would, give us the very latest on what has been a horrible story to watch unfold.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, the rescue efforts continue. Behind me, you can see some boats that are being used by volunteers, by the Mexican army, to either bring people out from their homes. Behind me is what's normally a street, as you can see, it's under about seven feet of water.

People who choose to leave their homes are doing so. They're being moved out by these boats. Others who live on second stories, or have a second story, are being ferried out so they can get supplies to go back in.

A lot of people are concerned about leaving their homes because they're concerned about looting. In fact, one of the officials of the State of Tabasco said that with so many people out on the streets, without a place to go -- and he said about 100,000 people are homeless and don't have shelters to go to now -- he said that represents a threat and the possibility of looting. So there is concern about that.

The Mexican army, Mexican police forces are out, of course, patrolling the streets and also participating in relief efforts. A lot of the relief efforts are being done by air. A lot of helicopters out here trying to get some of the more outlying neighborhoods that were just completely cut off. We flew over part of the city this morning in one of those relief helicopters, Tony, and it was incredible to see how the city of nearly 300,000 people or so has completely changed. It's literally small pockets of land surrounded by newly formed lakes and lagoons. The concern, Tony, is that more rain is on its way. So there's not any end in sight, at least in the short term, to this flooding here.

HARRIS: So it looks like we're talking about a major, major humanitarian crises. I recall, I guess it was yesterday, maybe the day before, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, sort of issuing the clarion call for help, saying that this state needs everything. How have people responded?

WHITBECK: Well, he said it is one of the worst human -- one of the worst natural disasters, excuse me -- that this state and the country have seen. And the call has been made in Mexico, a lot of people in Mexico City, other cities around the country have been going to centers where they're donating whatever they can, be it bags of food, bottles of water, clothing, blankets, and so on.

We also know that there's a delegation from the American Red Cross, from the International Committee for the Red Cross, who are arriving here to work with their Mexican counterparts in providing relief to some of these people.

Yeah, over a million people were affected in one way or another by this flooding.

HARRIS: Those pictures have been horrible to see, reminiscent, obviously, of Hurricane Katrina's impact on the city of New Orleans, and other cities along the Gulf Coast.

Harris Whitbeck for us. Harris, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, first they fell victim to last weekend's brutal wildfires, now that the smoke has cleared, some fear they may fall victim again, not to flames, but to fire insurance. CNN's Vince Gonzales walks us through those first hard steps of starting over.


VINCE GONZALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From the surf, John Bochek's (ph) beach home appears to have been spared by the recent Malibu fire.

SUSAN STEIN, FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE: Wow, look at the damage in here.

GONZALES: But inside, Bochek's (ph) insurance adjuster gets a different view. Wow, look. Got up on the roof and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost burned through here, and was trying to get out of the roof. Luckily it never did.

I'd say a few more minutes and this house wouldn't be here.

GONZALES: It took just minutes for an ember, blown far from the main fire to ignite a neighbor's home. The blaze spread quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all melted here. Fish is blistered.

GONZALES: Besides the fish, Bochek (ph) also had expensive artwork and pricey collectibles. Some were damaged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a Rolling Stones guitar, signed by all the Rolling Stones. See these are original albums signed by the guys from U2.

GONZALES: His claims adjuster said he did the smart thing by getting extra insurance.

STEIN: Which is very important, because your limits for your contents in the home are what an average home would have, and this is not an average home.

GONZALES: Susan Stein says Bochek (ph) was also right to get his contractor out to the house quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have you guys wrap all the floors tomorrow.

GONZALES: And to bring in help to move undamaged items.

(On camera): There are things all homeowners, even those that don't live in wildfire zones, can do to make the aftermath of a fire easier. First, keep all your insurance policies up to date. Second, keep a video inventory or log of all your possessions and keep that in a separate, safe location.

(Voice over): California's insurance commissioner says homeowners should also take their time when dealing with the damage left by the fire.

STEVE POIZNER, CALIF. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: It's important to do all their homework so that when they do get the insurance monies, they spend it in the most productive way possible.

GONZALES: For John Bochek (ph), there is only way to spend that money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This can be rebuilt, and we will rebuild it.

GONZALEZ: Vince Gonzales, for CNN, in Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: One of America's biggest allies in the war on terror is brought to its knees. Pakistan's president declares a state of emergency and marshal law. The latest on the nation's political upheaval, and why it matters.


TONY HARRIS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: In Pakistan, troops on the streets, in the Supreme Court building and surrounding judges' homes, all part of emergency rule there. President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the country's constitution, citing an ongoing threat of Islamic extremists. He also removed the chief judge.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto spoke exclusively with CNN about a half hour ago. She says there is a wave of disappointment with Musharraf's decision and that the U.S. is not pleased with this either.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice talked about the crisis in an exclusive interview with CNN.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously, as we've said before, the United States would not support extra constitutional measures, and we would hope that whatever happens, that there will be quick return to a constitutional path, and we would urge everyone to be restrained and to avoid violence.


HARRIS: So why should Americans care about the political turmoil in Pakistan?

It's like a zillion miles away, Josh Levs.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We have a lot of reasons to care. It hits home. How this affects us? Let's start with the basics. Any time you hear us give you any update on where al Qaeda stands, how strong is al Qaeda, that kind of thing, it's largely because of Pakistan. Pakistan became home to many al Qaeda across the border into a mountainous region, which means the war on terror in a lot of ways is Pakistan. Any stability that takes place could affect the war on terror, could potentially strengthen al Qaeda. This is one big thing we have to watch out for.

Also this, it has something huge to say about President Bush's foreign policy because President Bush always talks about two things for the world, one, fight terror, two, spread democracy. It usually sounds like they go hand in hand, if you're fighting terror, you're spreading democracy.


LEVS: Problem is, this country points out key thing about his foreign policy, sometimes they're opposites. Pervez Musharraf has fought al Qaeda, but has taken all sorts of steps to thwart democracy. He appointed himself to all these powers. He took power through a coup. He has done all sorts of non-democratic thing. This is not outside of his M.O. to do what we saw today. And what we're seeing is, sometimes, if you want to support someone who fights the terror but doesn't support democracy, you can't have both at the same time. It's a choice.

HARRIS: Tough choices, a tough set of circumstances obviously in Pakistan. We also care because a lot of folks believe that Osama bin Laden is somewhere in Pakistan, in that rugged tribal area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

LEVS: Right. They are saying that's where they think he is, which means the search for bin Laden can be affected by this way. You want the Pakistani government to be searching for bin Laden. You hear our presidential candidates talking about that. It boils down to Osama bin Laden allegedly being there, people trying to find him.

HARRIS: Is Pakistan a real ally in the war against terror? The other reason you really care about Pakistan and what's going on today? Nukes. There you go.

LEVS: Nuclear weapons. That's the last thing we've got to point out. Keep in mind, folks, this is a nuclear weapons. It's out, we know this, it's official. So any time you're hearing about potential instability in a nuclear nation that has those weapons there, it obviously has all kinds of geopolitical implications. Next door, India, which is also a big friend of the United States. In general, keep those three things in mind as you here all this shaking up -- home base for al Qaeda, search for bin Laden and nuclear weapons being there. All three being powerful reasons that we should all care about this.

HARRIS: Josh, appreciate it, thank you.

LEVS: You got it, thanks.

HARRIS: What is Mitt Romney doing right? The former governor is doing well where it really counts now, Iowa and New Hampshire. You wouldn't know that based on the national polls.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": It's a special night in the nation. Tonight, we find out whether my name will appear on the Democrat ballot.


HARRIS: The short answer, no. And we will tell you why coming up.

And later, how do you learn what the more morbidly obese go through? You spend a day in their shoes. One woman tells us what it's like and what she learned.


HARRIS: You know, people who are obese are often targets of bias. Many are harassed, bullied and laughed at.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta who looks at one health worker who puts herself in the shoes of overweight people. She experiences firsthand the discrimination obese people face and learns what might be done to help them.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let's face it, our society says thin is beautiful. Thin is hip. Which makes it tough to be obese.

Studies show that overweight people are constantly discriminated for jobs, at school, even by doctors and nurses.

The Orange Coast Memorial Hospital Center for Obesity in southern California wants to change that attitude. Their secret weapon is Lorraine Foran.

Lorraine is a sensitivity trainer for the center. Every week or so she slips herself into a suit that visually adds a couple hundred pounds to her frame.

LORRAINE FORAN, SENSITIVITY TRAINER, ORANGE COAST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOR OBESITY: If you walk in the shoes of a patient of size, what better way to gather at least a little understanding of what they go through?

GUPTA: The center sees about a thousand morbidly obese patients a year, most hoping to have weight loss surgery.

Dr. Peter LePort heads the program.

DR. PETER LEPORT, ORANGE COAST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOR OBESITY: It's very embarrassing in this society, especially, to be overweight, much less morbidly obese. So we're here to help these patients and not in any way ridicule them.

GUPTA: After suiting up, Lorraine walks the hospital grounds to see what kind of reaction she gets from passersby.

The day we followed her, she found people refused to make eye contact.

FORAN: People, when I'm walking, they purposely turn so they don't have to look at you. GUPTA: She shares her experience with other staff workers to help them understand how difficult it is to be obese. The hospital hopes the training will persuade employees to be empathetic when it comes to dealing with overweight patients.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.



HARRIS: Let's talk presidential politics right now. If you go by polls of Republicans nationwide, the GOP favorite is Rudy Giuliani. But guess who's ahead in the white-hot race for the two earliest voting primary states? No, it's not Giuliani, its Mitt Romney, who is running number one in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

CNN's Bill Schneider went to the Hawkeye state to see what Romney is doing right.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why is Mitt Romney doing so well in Iowa? An obvious answer, he spent a lot of time and money here. How much is he willing to spend?

MITT ROMNEY, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a close-kept secret between my wife and myself. We have a limit as to what we think is the right amount or less.

SCHNEIDER: Is there some message or issue that's resonating with Iowa voters? He says it's his theme of strength.

ROMNEY: I believe the people in Iowa have connected well with my message of strengthening this country.

SCHNEIDER: But why would Iowa voters see Romney as a candidate who offers strength?

We asked a seasoned observer.

DAVID YEPSEN, THE DES MOINES REGISTER: Mitt Romney's support in Iowa is not based on an issue. It is based on his personal qualities, his executive experience, his experience as a businessman.

SCHNEIDER: Romney talks about his background all the time.

ROMNEY: And I think it makes sense to have somebody leading the country who actually knows about business.

SCHNEIDER: His background is featured in his new TV ad.

ROMNEY: I have spent my life running things. I learned how to run a business. I learned how to run a state. I ran the Olympics.

SCHNEIDER: He uses his background to convey a message -- I am not a typical politician.

ROMNEY: I think it's helpful to have something more in the mold that I think the founders had in mind, which is that people would come to Washington from normal walks of life.

SCHNEIDER: He uses his background to draw a sharp contrast with the Democratic front-runner.

ROMNEY: She hasn't run a corner store, a state, a city. She has never run anything.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Romney's success as a businessman also conveys a message of confidence, which a lot of voters feel is missing from the current White House after the experiences of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Marshalltown, Iowa.


HARRIS: And we will be bringing you interviews done with presidential candidates on the "Election Express" every week. Be sure to watch for those right here on CNN.

Let's consider the Democrats now. If this week's debate was any indication, it is open season on front-runner Hillary Clinton.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Part of the reason that Republicans, I think, are obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that's a fight they're very comfortable having. It is the fight we've been through since the '90s.

SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact of the matter is that my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public say they're not going to vote for her.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Will she be the person who will bring about change? I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the tooth fairy. But I don't think that's going to happen.


HARRIS: So are the Democrats getting a little desperate or is Clinton's armor beginning to show cracks?

Let's talk with Ken Rudin. He is political editor for National Public Radio.

Ken, good to see you.


HARRIS: One moment of uncertainty on the license issue in New York and, hmm, here we go. What did you make of that?

RUDIN: Well, it was clearly not Hillary Clinton's greatest debate performance. Not so much what her Democratic rivals, with Tim Russert, the moderator, said to her. I mean, they jumped on her missteps and her hesitancy and her tendency to have it both ways. To be honest, if you watch Hillary Clinton, she's been smart and capable, but not always answering direct questions with a direct answer. And this time it caught up with her.

HARRIS: The energy in the attack on her, did it indicate to you in anyway her strength to this point?

RUDIN: Oh, there's no question. Of course, national polls don't mean anything, as Bill Schneider just said. You have to watch what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire. Having said that, because of the polls, organization and money, Hillary Clinton is seen as a national front-runner. If Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, the others will make a dent in that, they have to take her on in the debates.

HARRIS: Here's something else. The Democrats in Iowa, Ken, have moved up the date of their caucus, not by much, just 11 days, but enough to raise the pressure on Clinton's rivals to get cracking in a state where she seems to be a bit vulnerable. Are you in the camp that says if you had any hope of stopping Hillary, you better win Iowa?

RUDIN: Yes. Clearly, and only because she has a strong firewall -- New Hampshire. If she wins Iowa, she wins New Hampshire. We saw that with John Kerry, 2004, Al Gore, 2000. They won the first two and they went on to the nomination.

But the polls in Iowa are very, very close. Again, you have 60 days to go. But having said that, you still have a tight race between Obama, Edwards and Hillary. If she can be stopped in Iowa, then you have a genuine fight for the Democratic nomination.

HARRIS: So perhaps you slow her down a bit. Is the suggestion that if you can win Iowa and beat her there that, perhaps, you can gain the momentum and possibly derail what folks seem to call the inevitability express here?

RUDIN: The problem is people like John Edwards, Barack Obama, other candidates have spent a lot of money in Iowa. I know a lot of other states have moved their primaries up to February, late January. The fact is that's only made Iowa more important. So a lot of the Democrats are putting their time, money and fortunate effort in that first state. It's very possible, if they don't succeed there, they may not have a fall-back state elsewhere.

HARRIS: Okay and, Ken, on the lighter side...

RUDIN: I thought that was the lighter side.

HARRIS: No, we can go lighter. Stephen Colbert -- here he is reacting to the heart-wrenching news of the South Carolina's Democrats will not let them enter their primary. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: It is very sad because -- Why? Why don't you want me in your race?

All right, it's your loss democrats. I had a lot of great ideas. You see this? You see this? It's my exit strategy for Iraq. Full proof. You know what? Burn it. Hey, America. You want your dollar stronger? Too bad. Blame it on the South Carolina Democrats.

And I had a kick-ass impeachment speech for when I wildly overreach my constitutional authority. No, no, no, nobody gets to hear it now. Nobody gets to hear it now. Nobody gets to hear it now.

How could this state do this to me? I'm your favorite son. It's official.


HARRIS: All right. All right, Ken, what's your take on this?

RUDIN: I think this helps Mike Gravel's chances to the nomination. It's kind of interesting that the election officials in South Carolina said Colbert could not be on the ballot because he's not a nationally viable candidate, but Mike Gravel, the former Senator from Alaska, is on it.

The point is Pat Paulson was on the New Hampshire primaries of 30 years ago. If memory serves, the republic didn't fall then.

HARRIS: Ken Rudin, so smart in these areas. Having fun with us as well.

Ken, good to see you. Thanks for your time.

RUDIN: Thanks a lot.

HARRIS: Here is one of those stories that we have to warn you if you're a little squeamish, look away. But if you want to see an incredible story about an unbelievable wound -- oh, boy -- and an even more unbelievable survival, stick around.


HARRIS: And recapping our top story now, in Pakistan, troops on the streets in the Supreme Court building and surrounding judges' homes, all part of emergency rule there. President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the country's constitution, citing an ongoing threat of Islamic extremists. He also removed the chief justice and appointed a new judge in his place.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto spoke with CNN about an hour ago. She says there's a wave of disappointment with Musharraf's decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: Many people think that the state of emergency was actually enforced because General Musharraf did not want the Supreme Court to give a ruling that when -- against his interest. Now, I can understand he might have had difficulty accepting the verdict of the Supreme Court, but one has to accept the ruling of a court. Instead, General Musharraf has suspended the constitution of Pakistan and strengthened military rule in the country, which is very disappointing.


HARRIS: The U.S. is not pleased with any of this either. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, quote, "Anything that takes Pakistan off the Democratic path is highly regrettable."

We've just received news -- we've got a White House reaction now. A White House spokesman says the events in Pakistan do not affect -- do not affect U.S. support for the Pakistani military. There you are, the first reaction from the White House.

A soldier stabbed in the head in Iraq and now the incredible story on how military surgeons saved his life, pulling a nine-inch knife out of his skull.

As you can see, this is not going to be pretty. A warning here, you might find some of the images in this next report disturbing.

Here is CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there are average days in Iraq, July 2nd of this year in started out as one with the 118th military police company.

Sergeant Dan Powers led his squad of 13 men to the scene of, yet, another explosion on the streets of Baghdad. They finished questioning the Iraqi police and were walking back to their trucks when all of a sudden...

SGT. DAN POWERS, U.S. ARMY: It was, like, bam. And it was really loud. And I had blood all over my armor.

COHEN: At first, Powers thought he'd been shot, but it was no bullet. It was this. A nine-inch knife had gone half way through his head. Another M.P. wrestled down the attacker, and powers kept doing his job.

(on camera): So you have a knife sticking out of your head and you're watching this guy who...

POWERS: I was covering him with my M4.

COHEN: So you have a knife sticking out of your head and you've got your gun aimed at this prisoner. COHEN: Powers said he had no idea he had a knife in his head until his buddies pointed it out. After bandaging the wound, they went into the Green Zone and rushed him to a hospital. They called ahead, warning a stabbing victim was on the way.

COL. RICHARD TEFF, NEUROSURGEON: We had no idea that it was going to be such a big, shiny German knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MEDICAL OFFICER: Our neurosurgeon is on his way down, OK?

COHEN: Lieutenant Colonel Richard Teff was one of the surgeons in the operating room. You're getting a firsthand look.

Here's Powers, just as he arrived in the O.R. Amazingly, he chatted with his doctors.

POWERS: I'm just very lucky to be alive, I know that.

COHEN: But an x-ray revealed his situation was quite dire. The knife miraculously just missed his brain, settling in his sinus cavity. But the tip of the knife nicked his carotid artery. It was like a finger in a dyke. Remove it, and he could bleed to death.

The surgeons' only option was to slowly pull the knife out and see what happened.

TEFF: We just prayed and pulled it out and, frankly, I was a little surprised. I didn't think it was going to bleed the way it did. When it started bleeding, we had to act quickly.

COHEN: Powers lost 40 percent of the blood in his body.

TEFF: That was the moment when they call that a heart attack moment when I was concerned he might die right there on the table in front of us.


HARRIS: CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reporting.

Still to come in the "NEWSROOM," moving on.

They don't have high-tech bells and whistles in their classroom.


CHILDREN SINGING: Our ceiling is so bare. There's no projector there.


HARRIS: Yeah, Annie had a hard-knock life. These third graders say they have a low-tech life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: Where high tech and old school collide, deep in the heart of Texas. Some Dallas-area third graders made this video, hoping to win $15,000 worth of teaching equipment. The video's premise? How antiquated the stuff they have in their classroom really is.

KDAF's Barry Carpenter has the story. It's a low-tech life for us.


BARRY CARPENTER, REPORTER, KDAF: This is Karen Rose's third grade students singing the "Annie Blues" about their low-tech classroom.

And that's Ms. Rose in the home video.

KAREN ROSE, TEACHER, MELISSA RIDGE ELEMENTARY: Technology because, do we use technology every day?


CARPENTER: And that's Ms. Rose in class where she and her students cooked up the idea of entering the contest.

ROSE: Technology was nothing I considered a strong point of mine. I saw it impacts their learning how much they love it and I've grown very attached to it.

CARPENTER (on camera): The classroom is definitely low tech. They only have two small computers that are kind of old and one small television set that doesn't really work for the bit classroom. Today, they could have used a projector, but there was only one and it was in another classroom.

CHILDREN SINGING: Our ceiling is so bare. There's no projector there.

CARPENTER (voice-over): The kids even sing about the projector in the video.

Rose said the new technology would be interactive and fun.

ROSE: They can be at their desk and writing on the portable board and it appears on the screen right in front of them.