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Republicans Prepare For CNN/YouTube Debate; Mideast Conference Continues

Aired November 28, 2007 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: You ask the questions. We set the stage. And that was no small feat, as you can tell, five hours and counting until the energy picks up even more with the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential face-off. We're live in Saint Pete with a preview.

LEMON: Well, they still know how to stage a comeback on Wall Street, the only place where a sour economic -- economy, I should say, is reason for hope. Our Susan Lisovicz is taking stock of your investments.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And the Dow keeps rising. Dow industrials up now 321 points.

Susan Lisovicz live at the New York Stock Exchange, we're loving this rally.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're loving this rally, Kyra, but this is the witching hour. And just like in a sporting event, you can have a fantastic lead the whole game until the final seconds.

And we have seen the final hour of trading be an especially treacherous one, an especially volatile one. Right now, however, we're looking at one of the best point gains of the year and certainly the best two-day point gains of the year, because remember the Dow was up 200 points yesterday. And that was just one day after the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 entered officially into a correction, which is a 10 percent decline from the most recent highs.

What's going on today? Well, we had lots of more bad news in the housing sector, housing prices and sales down in October. We had Wells Fargo, a big mortgage player, saying that it's going to recognize nearly $1.5 billion in losses this quarter due to home equity loans that are simply not being repaid. We have big-ticket items from big companies that were down more than expected last month.

But a Federal Reserve official speaking before the opening bell this morning said that the Fed must be nimble in addressing the risks to the economy. A lot of folks interpret that as another interest rate coming. The Fed next meets on interest rates in two weeks, so a lot of folks are hoping for that. And then also oil prices dropping by more than three bucks today.

Remember, on Monday, just on Monday, in electronic trading, crude went over $99 a barrel. So, it's been a big drop in crude just in the last few days -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We will keep tracking it and talk to you in just a few minutes, Susan. Thanks.

LEMON: F-15s falling right out of sky, it is a possibility according to the Air Force and they're grounding most of them.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is on top of that breaking story for us -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have had some problems now with the F-15 for a while.

They have detected some structural problems in some of the older models. These, by the way, are not the models that are currently in use in frontline combat operations, such as in Afghanistan. That's the newer F-15E model. But the older models A through D are exhibited signs of stress from years of use. And some of these are over 20 years old.

The problem is with a lodge strip of metal called the longeron, which essentially holds the fuselage together. They're beginning to show fatigue. The U.S. Air Force had inspected the fleet after detecting a problem in one of the planes.

They had cleared these planes, but now they have gone back and said, wait a minute, we think there may still be a problem. So they are grounding about 400 F-15s, the older models that are not in frontline combat. Some of these were however used in patrols over the United States, the Operation Noble Eagle that started after September 11. Those planes have been replaced with F-16s -- Don.

LEMON: Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre on top of the breaking news for us -- thank you, Jamie.

PHILLIPS: When your bank becomes your neighbor, it's happening more and more as home foreclosures go through the roof.

CNN's Rusty Dornin live once again in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where much of one new subdivision went on the auction block.

Rusty, oh, I can see, we're going to talk to a family now affected.



We are in the Scourlas house, their American dream, Melissa and John (ph) Scourlas.

And you bought in September, right?


DORNIN: Figuring everything was good at that point.

SCOURLAS: It was great.

DORNIN: Then what happened a couple weeks ago? We will give you a little tour of the house and take you outside.

SCOURLAS: A couple of weeks ago, they auctioned off all the houses, including all the empty lots.

DORNIN: And so then what are you left with at that point?

SCOURLAS: I'm left with this.

DORNIN: Outside. When you walk outside, you will see empty lot, unfinished house. Do you have any idea if the bank -- if they're going to finish those?

SCOURLAS: We have no idea.

DORNIN: Now, apparently, it was the building who did -- was foreclosed upon. The bank took over.

Now, look at this. You have got six lots over here, empty lots, right next door to John and Melissa's house.

Now, how are you feeling about all this?

SCOURLAS: We're pretty frustrated. Obviously, we're concerned about our property value going down. And, of course, this is our view. And it's pretty much a dump site.


DORNIN: Has anyone answered any of your questions about what happens next?

SCOURLAS: There's nobody to even talk to. So, we have no idea what is going on.


And how about property value? Are you concerned on whether -- how they finish this house or how they build this house, how it's going to affect your property values?

SCOURLAS: Absolutely. We live in a great area, but if they don't continue building the way we expect it to be, then our property value is sure to go down.

DORNIN: OK, now, what is unusual in this situation, Kyra, is that it is the builder who actually was foreclosed upon. And that's because there's a domino effect.

People in Florida and Texas aren't selling their houses, so, when they come here, they don't have the money to buy the houses here. He couldn't afford his payments, so the bank took them back, leaving people like the Scourlases in big trouble.

Now, I understand that you were talking about buying some of these lots, some of the neighbors were?


SCOURLAS: We had talked about it and maybe using our own homeowners association to put in a pool possibly and a little playground for the kids, but everything is up in the air. We have no answers.

DORNIN: Now, if people build houses here, are they going to build the same nice houses? I notice you guys have rock and brick and that kind of thing. Are you protected against that? Or could somebody just build a lower-value house?

SCOURLAS: As far as I know, there's a covenant that possibly protects us, but, again, we have no real answers.


SCOURLAS: With the builder being gone, there's nobody to talk to.

DORNIN: OK. Well, thank you for joining us.

SCOURLAS: Thank you.

DORNIN: And good luck in the future here.


DORNIN: Well, you can see she's left here -- you can see the bricks, the rebar, the wood. No idea when anybody's even going to clean this up, let alone buy it.

We did understand that someone was looking at buying six of the houses here. And they say that the values are staying the same. They're not dropping the values of the houses, because it was the builder that went under. But the interesting thing here is they're saying this is a microcosm of what can happen in the rest of the country. And when the builders can't meet their payments, that could start happening more often not only here in Atlanta, where there's been a huge growth spurt, but elsewhere as well -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And, Rusty, I was reading I guess it was a couple weeks ago, fastest-growing cities, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada. So, you wonder, with all these people -- you would think, with all these people coming in, that it wouldn't be a problem to sell these properties and fill up these neighborhoods. DORNIN: But think about this. If you're going to move here and you live in Florida or you live in Dallas, where you can't sell your house, you want to move to Atlanta, but you can't, because you can't sell the property where you are.


DORNIN: So you see how this whole thing starts snowballing, and you have this domino effect. So, the builder thought he was going to flip these houses, because Atlanta was the fastest-growing city in the nation since 2000, but now nobody is selling their homes. They can't afford to come here, because they haven't sold their homes where they lived before.

PHILLIPS: We have people even in our newsroom dealing with that still. Yes, it's been a couple of years.

All right, Rusty Dornin, great insight. Appreciate it very much.

LEMON: Absolutely.

Renting your home instead of buying usually means less financial risk, but not always.

CNN's Gerri Willis finds the surge in foreclosures is hitting renters, too, via their landlords.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Sixty- seven-year-old Alice Mills signed a lease here in Philadelphia believing she could live in this house for at least a year. Then, eviction notices began arriving but her landlord assured her everything would be fine. Two weeks ago a sheriff's deputy showed up at her door and told her she had to move out the very next day.

ALICE MILLS, VICTIM OF LANDLORD FORECLOSURE: I didn't know what to think. I didn't know where I was going to go, what to do.

WILLIS: Alice had paid her rent on time but her landlord was behind on his mortgage and the bank foreclosed. Alice is one of a growing number of people who don't own homes but are caught in the middle of the foreclosure crisis. Renters who thought they were protected by leases, suddenly being told to move out.

JUDITH LIBEN, MASSACHUSETTS LAW REFORM INSTITUTE: It's a significant problem all around the country, in cities, in suburbs, and, in fact, in some rural areas.

WILLIS: In most states, banks and landlords have no legal responsibility to keep tenants or even to tell them about the foreclosure. That could change. A bill that recently passed the U.S. House would give renters living in foreclose property up to six months to find a place but it's not law yet.

In a statement to CNN, the Mortgage Bankers Association says, It really is unfortunate that a renter faces eviction if their landlord is foreclosed upon. However, forcing new requirements on lenders would be extremely burdensome as most lenders have neither the knowledge nor ability to be effective long-term landlords.

Advocates pushing for renter protection disagree.

LIBEN: These are folks that just had bad luck to rent from an owner who couldn't pay his mortgage and defaulted and was foreclosed.

WILLIS: A new law would be too late for Alice. The bank gave her an extension but she has less than two weeks left.

MILLS: I need help. I need longer time to get a place, a decent place, a safe place. I really need longer.


LEMON: Gerri. Gerri Willis is our personal finance editor. It's very sad.


LEMON: She joins us now with some good common sense.

Gerri, these renters aren't just getting kicked out of their house or apartment. They're also taking a huge, huge financial hit, aren't they?

WILLIS: Well, let's take a look at this. You lose your security deposit. It's possible, even likely, that you're probably still sending the landlord rent payments. Those are gone as well.

And these are folks who can least afford this kind of money. These are folks, single people, older folks, people with young kids. Now, they're not on the hook to the degree that homeowners are who may have equity in that home, but it's a financial burden nonetheless.

LEMON: And, Gerri, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Is there any way, any way to prevent eviction, especially this time of year, the holidays? It's cold.

WILLIS: Right. That's right.

Well, you really have to think around the corner. Look, most of the folks who find themselves in this situation, they have landlords that are small landlords. They're not big corporate chieftains. They're little guys who own a couple of buildings. They get into financial trouble. So, those are the folks who should be looking at.

And here's what you're looking for. If there is less maintenance being done on your building, if it's falling into the disrepair, that's a signal that your landlord is having some problems. Now, if that's the case, watch the newspapers. You might see a notice of default there on your landlord, and then you really need to look at your local laws, your state laws. Go to There, you can find out if there are any options for you. In some states, like Connecticut, if you're over 62, they can't chuck you out willy-nilly. If your parents are living with you, and they're over 62, they can't toss you out.


WILLIS: So, the devil is in the details. You have really got to keep your ear to the ground and really watch out, because at the end of the day it's not just about whether you have a mortgage. It's also about whether your landlord has a mortgage.

LEMON: Yes. And Gerri Willis is our personal finance editor. It seems like you're becoming more and more important each day when we get these mortgage and home stories, Gerri.


WILLIS: It's a very sad story.

LEMON: Yes. It is very sad.

Thank you so much for that, Gerri.

Make sure you catch Gerri on "OPEN HOUSE" this Saturday. She will have more on the mortgage meltdown, plus how to spot mistakes on your medical bills and how to get your money back. That's Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

PHILLIPS: President Bush alongside the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The latter are now in search of a real and lasting peace agreement by the time -- this time, rather, next year.

Mr. Bush spoke a short time ago from the Rose Garden.

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux was there -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, really, this is a picture the White house wanted to show you, President Bush in the Rose Garden with both leaders, really holding each one of their hands.

They're trying to show this picture of unity here and optimism about this. And this is something that was really a ceremonial type of launching of the negotiations, a lot of tough, tough issues ahead. But at least according to one member of the Palestinian delegation, Agheta Al-Marri (ph), a former legal adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, he says, look, the real fear here is going to be if they lose the momentum, if two weeks from now, this whole thing kind of breaks apart.

That is what they are really fearing, and they certainly say that now is the time, that they believe this drastically weakens Hamas and that this really puts the Middle East peace process front and center. Another big concern, of course, yesterday that peace -- that joint declaration, some expressing some doubt over it, saying essentially that it's a public relations tool. Are they really going to stick with this kind of commitment? One of the things that they say comforts them is the fact that they believe President Bush is really committed this time around.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate the commitment of these leaders to working hard to achieve peace. I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't believe that peace was possible. And they wouldn't be here either if they didn't think peace was possible. It's very important for the international community to support these two leaders during the bilateral negotiations that will take place.


MALVEAUX: And, Kyra, also very important for the United States, U.S. interests, President Bush making the case here that it is a matter of national security that Middle East peace is established. Hopefully, it will help the situation, reconciliation in Iraq, and also his legacy here. It doesn't want to be just the Iraq war. He wants to also be known for someone who brought about peace -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- thanks, Suzanne.

LEMON: Let's get to the newsroom.

Fredricka Whitfield working the details of a developing story.

Fred, remember we were talking about these mall plots. Is there some new information in that?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is indeed, because last year at about this time, a young man in Illinois was accused of trying to carry out some sort of bombing plot on a shopping mall.

And now a year later, he was in federal court today, and whereas at first he was going to plead not guilty, today, he changed his mind; 23-year-old Derrick Shareef pleading guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a Rockford, Illinois, shopping mall, that taking place last December. He was in that federal court today.

And guess what? Now he's facing life in prison after changing that plea to guilty. Sentencing is set for March 14 of next year. In addition to that life possible imprisonment, he's also facing a possible fine of $250,000, as well as supervised release up to five years.

So, the parameters are pretty great there, but, nonetheless, these kinds of threats being taken very seriously, and perhaps he's being used as a example of sorts to let people know, you don't want to go around talking about trying to plot bombing of a shopping mall at all in this day and age.

LEMON: No, no. No, you don't, at all.

All right, thank you, Fred.

PHILLIPS: And we're expecting a news conference from Miami-Dade police on the hunt for Sean Taylor's killer. We're going to bring it to you live when it happens.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


PHILLIPS: Attack ads, there's no escaping them when the world's most powerful office is at stake, but why so much negative campaigning, when voters say they don't like it?

CNN's Campbell Brown has some answers in a special report on campaign killers. That's tonight, 11:00 Eastern. Here's a sneak preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, everybody.

I'm in an edit studio.

Take No. 52.

I like that one.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Hillsman (ph) is known in political advertising...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is the Big Dig $12 billion over budget?

BROWN: ... for using a few words...


BROWN: ... to make a big point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how did the Big Dig get $12 billion over budget?


BROWN: It's the deceptive slash-and-burn attacks that he believes are hurting the political system. And he agreed to show us how both parties do it, using the presidential front-runners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, you can make a poll saying anything.

BROWN: For example, in September the Washington Post asked likely Democratic voters which candidate best represents the core values of the Democratic Party? Fifty percent said Hillary Clinton. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth of this statistic is that Hillary's basically twice as good on this particular measuring stick as any of these other guys.

But the way you can take it out of context and twist it is to say only half of Democrats really think Hillary Clinton respects or reflects the values of the Democratic Party.

BROWN: Political ads that distort the facts use visuals to match. To make your opponent look bad, drain the color. Or better yet, slow motion. It gives a sinister feel. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The editor controls everything. Everybody out there, the editor controls everything.

I think this is actually a very strong photograph of Giuliani for a positive ad.

BROWN: The photo was taken at the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can put this photo in that context it's brilliant. Because he looks angry. He looks determined. And that's exactly what Americans would be looking for.

BROWN: But crop the photo, and it changes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tighter you go on someone's face, usually the more unattractive most of us look.

BROWN: Those who know the game say the really nasty ads will pop up late in the primaries and in the general election. But just remember, what's said in a positive ads isn't necessarily true, either.


PHILLIPS: And Campbell joins me now from New York.

Campbell, good to see you. And it seems every year this stuff just gets nastier and nastier.

BROWN: You know, Kyra, it does seem that way.

But it's funny. When we were doing research for the documentary, we went actually pretty far back in history and looked at ads going over the years, going all the way back to 1800, to the presidential race, Thomas Jefferson, the attacks against Thomas Jefferson. They obviously didn't have TV at the time. They were using pamphlets to make their attacks.


PHILLIPS: What did they say about him?

BROWN: But if you read the pamphlets -- we use some of the actual language -- it would say things like, if you elect Thomas Jefferson, there is going to be murder, rape, incest, chaos in the streets.


BROWN: It's really tough language.

So, in the sense the technology has changed, you're reaching far more people through television and you can be much more creative visually, so it seems like it, but actually there's a long, healthy history of really negative advertising.

PHILLIPS: And what did they say about Andrew Jackson? I know you traced back even that far, right?

BROWN: No, no. We didn't have anything on Andrew Jackson, no.

PHILLIPS: Oh, you didn't. OK. All right. Because someone said something about Andrew Jackson. And I said, OK, I want to make sure that Campbell -- and they said, yes, because, with Andrew Jackson, I guess in 1828, his opponent spread the word that his wife was a prostitute.

BROWN: Oh, that's right. No, that's a good one.

No. It's amazing if you go back and look at this stuff, and there's sort of an evolution to it, too. Mark McKinnon, who is a big part of the documentary, was one President Bush's media advisers during 2000 and 2004. And he actually taught a class on this, where he had gathered ads, some of the most notorious, the Barry Goldwater ad, you will remember, the daisy ad, the little girl pulling the daisy apart with a nuclear bomb going off.

And then the more recent ones, the Swift Boat ad, the damage it did, Willie Horton, the damage it did to Mike Dukakis, and how the process has evolved, and how the candidates have learned to respond or in some cases haven't learned to respond.


What about the Internet? This definitely has played into this, right?

BROWN: Very much so.

And a lot of these media consultants, like Bill Hillsman (ph), who just saw in the piece, and Mark McKinnon, are all saying, essentially now, we are dinosaurs. The Internet is changing it in a way that anyone can do what we're doing, and anyone is doing what we're doing.

There are people who are creating ads, who can do it with the technology on their laptop computers, put it on the Internet, get it out to enough political blogs that, if it takes off virally, it can have the same sort of impact as paid advertising coming from one of the campaigns.

PHILLIPS: Yes. Doesn't it remind you of grade school when you were running for office and the bullies would like rip up your signs in the hallway?


BROWN: Yes, I think so. I mean, you think when is somebody sort of going to stand up and say enough of this? But the bottom line on it is that they find time and time again, as much as people say they hate negative advertising, it's effective. It works. So, I don't think you are going to see it getting any better.


PHILLIPS: All right, Campbell Brown, good to see you.

BROWN: You, too, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And you can catch Campbell Brown's "Broken Government" special, "Campaign Killers," tonight 11:00 Eastern right after the YouTube debate, only on CNN.

LEMON: All right, we have some new information coming into the CNN NEWSROOM regarding star quarterback (sic) Sean Taylor, Washington Redskins.

Star quarterback (sic) Sean Taylor, as you know, he was shot in his home day before yesterday, died yesterday of a shot to the femoral artery.

Well, just moments ago, police in Miami-Dade County held a press conference. And here's what the director of Miami-Dade Police had to say.


ROBERT PARKER, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DIRECTOR: We thought that we would come out and ask for the public's assistance in the case of the murder of Sean Taylor.

Actually, there's not a lot of new investigative information that we have to dispense to you or to provide for you. What we do feel, though, is that there is some information that is known by members of the public that's not yet reached its way to law enforcement.

And that is what we're here to ask for, that additional assistance, whatever small amount of information that members of the public may have. We don't care if it's third-party information, but we're certainly looking for everything that you may have in terms of a potential tip, additional information, information that's been conveyed to you, that you take that information and call it into Crime Stoppers or through the number 305-471-TIPS.

I know that some of you may have questions, so I am here to answer a few of the questions that you may have. But before I open it up to questions, let me do say that we are following a number of leads. But, as I have said earlier, we are going to pull out all stops in order to attempt to quickly resolve and solve this case, and get the individual or individuals in custody as it pertains to the murder of Sean Taylor.


LEMON: It would appear from the police director in Miami-Dade, Robert Parker, that the trail to find out who the killer is for star safety Sean Taylor, the trail is running cold, asking for the public's help.

Here's that number again. It's 305-471-TIPS, 305-471-TIPS. They're asking for the public's help in this case. We will keep you updated.

PHILLIPS: The Republican candidates for president face off tonight in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Our senior analyst, Gloria Borger, joins us now from the NEWSROOM to talk about the CNN/YouTube debate.


PHILLIPS: Well, the political spotlight about to shine on Saint Petersburg, Florida. That's where the Republican presidential candidates face off tonight in the CNN/YouTube debate.

Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, joins us from Saint Petersburg.

Gloria, there should be some fireworks, no doubt, everyone gunning for Mitt Romney, particularly Rudy Giuliani, right?


I mean, Mitt Romney has been the guy who has been ahead in Iowa. He's ahead in New Hampshire. And Rudy Giuliani seems to have suddenly woken up and realized, wait a minute, I can't let Mitt Romney win all of these races, and then just win some races on Super Tuesday in February.

So, Giuliani is really going to be gunning for Romney.

PHILLIPS: Well, polls show that Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, is really making an impact on voters in Iowa, where Romney once owned it, right?

Can we expect a fallout from that tonight?

BORGER: You're right. Romney once owned Iowa. He's been spending a lot of money there. And suddenly, out of nowhere, comes Huckabee in the polls. And I think this is really what you might call the revolt of the Evangelicals. The Evangelical conservative voters have really been trying to figure out just who to support. And I think now they're coalescing around Mike Huckabee. And that really is a problem for Mitt Romney.

So you may -- you may see some candidates take some jabs at Governor Huckabee. We'll have to see. Actually, I just ran into him in the makeup room before. He seemed to be in a pretty good mood.

PHILLIPS: I hope he got good makeup.

All right, what's up with John McCain?

Is he not moving up the polls, but he could benefit from all the squabbling among all these other candidates?

BORGER: Yes, you know, John McCain is kind of the tortoise right now -- slow and steady. He was once the frontrunner, then his money evaporated. He sort of went down in the polls because of his real support for the war in Iraq. And that was a problem for him.

But now he thinks he can make a comeback in New Hampshire. And remember, if all of these candidates are out there squabbling, John McCain, as you point out, does benefit, because primary voters don't like this kind of squabbling. You were just talking to Campbell about it before. They don't like it. He could turn around and look quite presidential.

So we'll have to see how he does tonight. His staff -- I talked to some of them today. They believe that this kind of a format is very good for McCain -- kind of like his old Straight Talk Express. So they're looking forward to it.

PHILLIPS: What about this issue of immigration?

You've got a large majority of Latinos there in Florida. That's a big issue. Republicans, for the most part, against immigration. They want the illegal immigrants out of there.

BORGER: Right. I mean immigration is really one of those issues that divides the Republican Party. It has divided President Bush from a lot of these candidates. And for John McCain, it's really been a very, very difficult issue because he supported President Bush's legislation that called for a path to amnesty -- and his small donor base dried up in the Republican Party as a result.

So right now, what you're going to hear McCain talking about if the issue comes up -- and I bet it will -- you're going to hear McCain talk about first securing the borders. That's what the candidates are going to be talking about -- getting the borders secure, then going to the second step.

PHILLIPS: All right.

We'll be watching, as well as you.

BORGER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: And talking more later on tonight and tomorrow.

Gloria, thanks so much.

The CNN/YouTube Republican debate is set for 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. Our Anderson Cooper will be live in St. Petersburg with the candidates. The best political team on television is choosing your questions for the candidates from thousands of submissions on YouTube -- about 5,000, as a matter of fact. Your voice are going to be heard only on CNN, your home for politics.

And remember, the CNN/YouTube debates are all about you. You're asking the questions, but it doesn't stop there. After tonight's debate, you can log onto and tell us how you think the candidates did. What you say might be part of our post-debate analysis.

LEMON: That will happen tonight.

But right now, it's a big day on Wall Street. The Dow has yet to post back to back gains this month. By today -- but today, I should say -- could be the day for that. Always a first time, at least in, you know, as it comes to now.

Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with details on what's behind this rally.

Can we call it a rally?

I guess we can, right?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we can call it an explosive rally. And this is why, you know, this is one of the fundamentals in stock investing, Don, is never try to time the markets, because you will get burned.

Who would have expected that the Dow would gain 342 points two days after it entered a correction and one day after it had a gain of more than 200 points?

All the same concerns are still there. What happened today was that a Federal Reserve official said that the Fed must be nimble in addressing risks to the economy. A lot of folks here interpret that to mean that the Fed is going to step in for a third consecutive time and cut interest rates when it meets on interest rates two weeks from day.

And we've got a lot of bad news, as you know -- everything from housing prices and sales to big ticket items, more distress in financial markets. But yet another thing that happened today, Don, was that oil prices plunged nearly $4 just today. And, remember, this comes when it surpassed $99 a barrel on electronic trading just on Monday. So it's come down about $9 in the last few days.

LEMON: The only thing that makes sense is that nothing makes sense. I guess that's the way you'd put it. And, as you said, you can't really track it. OK...

LISOVICZ: Fasten your seat belts, Mr. Lemon.

LEMON: Yes. Absolutely. OK. You mentioned the lower interest rate. That's certainly good for the consumer, but what good does it do when you're stuck with higher gas prices and lower home prices?

LISOVICZ: Well, that is an excellent question, Mr. Lemon. And even the Fed said in its report this afternoon that current economic conditions are making consumers more cautious. And a new study from an advocacy group says most middle class households are in danger of having to lower their standard of living. The group Demos says more than half of us are living paycheck to paycheck. One big problem is debt. The average middle class family is carrying more than $8,000 in personal debt, including credit cards and student, car and medical loans.

In the meantime, we've got a big rally here.

Will the bulls charge right into the close?

Well, we've got less than 30 minutes in the session. We'll count down the seconds when I return for the closing bell.

In the meantime, Don, Kyra, back to you.

LEMON: Susan, you said that lower oil prices -- we're just getting something here urgent that's saying they closed down $383.80 down from yesterday's high. So, yes...

LISOVICZ: We got a weekly inventory report that came in better than expected -- all about supply and demand. And that really helped push oil prices down sharply for a second day -- Don.

LEMON: Susan Lisovicz on top of it.

Thank you very much.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Drew Peterson's wife hasn't been seen in a month. Now come reports that a relative helped Peterson move a large plastic barrel out of his house.

Was Stacy Peterson inside?


PHILLIPS: The Bush administration's new envoy in the quest for Middle East peace is James Jones. He's a retired U.S. Marine Corps four star general and former supreme allied commander Europe. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the expected announcement just minutes ago. Jones' new duties will be largely diplomatic, but he'll also watch the security situation in the Palestinian Territories and advise Washington.

2009 -- it's only a year away -- or a year and change away. And that's when the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian president hope to seal a Middle East peace agreement. Helping them try to realize that goal today, the president of the United States.

President Bush set down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer just a short time ago for an exclusive interview.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Are you ready to go to the region?

Because it's been seven years. You haven't gone to Israel or the Palestinian Territories yet.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wolf, Wolf, one -- first of all, the president doesn't have -- going to a region in itself is not going to unstick negotiations. It is working with the principals -- Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas. That's how you get things done. Now, if I have to call them together, I will. But it's -- this idea that somehow you're supposed to travel and therefore good things are going to happen is just not realistic.

What's realistic is to get the frame of mind of the leaders right and then head them off. But this notion about how America can impose their vision just simply isn't going to work. It's going to be a Palestinian vision and an Israeli vision, where they find common ground. And our job is to help them find common ground. And I'm going to spend a lot of time doing it.


PHILLIPS: More of President Bush's exclusive talk with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". It starts at 4:00 President Pervez Musharraf Eastern, right here on CNN.

LEMON: An ex-cop, a missing wife, allegations of a sealed barrel and now a distraught relative reportedly wonders whether he helped get rid of a body.

The Stacy Peterson case has crime reporters working overtime -- and not just in Chicago.

Jon Lieberman of "America's Most Wanted" joins us now from Bethesda, Maryland to tell us what he has learned about this.

And, Jon, there's so many new details coming fast, you can talk fast today.

So let me ask you, what is going on with this guy who says oh my gosh, I may have helped Scott Peterson get rid of the body?

JON LIEBERMAN, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Here's the issue -- yes. And the big issue is we reported yesterday that police were extremely aggressive about pursuing the theory that Drew Peterson had help taking a container out of his house, which presumably contained Stacy's body, and then disposing of that container. This morning it was reported in some newspapers in Chicago that, indeed, the person of interest there was Drew Peterson's stepbrother. LEMON: Right.

LIEBERMAN: We're not naming that person.

LEMON: Right. And it's -- you know, it's so similar to the Scott Peterson case. Because that whole thing was just a little bit odd here. And we want to say Drew Peterson, of course, he has not been changed with anything. But certainly everyone is saying his behavior -- his behavior has been really odd in all of this.

OK. There's another detail here that's been reported, about him calling in sick the same day that Stacy disappeared.

LIEBERMAN: We have confirmed, Don, that Drew worked that Saturday from 5:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. on Sunday. However, he called in using his personal time -- sick time -- for the shift he was supposed to work Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. until Monday morning at 5:00 a.m. And this speaks to the time line, Don. There are major problems. Police don't believe that Drew Peterson has accounted for those 12 hours between 5:00 p.m. Sunday and 5:00 a.m. Monday in a manner that they're satisfied with.


LIEBERMAN: That's why they're uncomfortable with his story.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk about that time line, because in all of that, according to the reports, according to this relative that newspapers are reporting on said, OK, Drew told me to meet him here. Then he told me to -- that I should have the cell phone and I shouldn't pick up the cell phone. And then went off and left me and then came back. And that's when the whole barrel situation happened.

How much of this time line is playing into what police are doing now?

With all of this -- him pleading the fifth in a grand jury testimony, his 14-year-old son testifying, why isn't he in jail now?

LIEBERMAN: Let me give you three reasons, Don.

Number one that he hasn't been arrested is because there's no rush to. Let Drew Peterson run his mouth like he does every single day in front of the cameras. Let him incriminate himself.

Number two, they're still waiting for forensic tests on a lot of the physical evidence they got out of house.

And number three, they're still searching, searching, searching for more physical evidence. They're looking for this infamous, now, blue barrel. But they're also looking for any other container that a five foot 100-pound woman could fit in...


LIEBERMAN: ...because they're not convinced that the blue barrel isn't just a red herring.

LEMON: All right, this blue barrel, the cell phone, the relative, all of that -- the reporters in Chicago are on top of it. As a matter of fact, one of our affiliates, WGN, spoke to him last night after all of this information came out.

Let's take a listen, Jon, and then we'll talk about it.


DREW PETERSON, MISSING WOMAN'S HUSBAND: I have no idea what anybody is talking about like that.


Warm to the touch?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says he believes that he helped you dispose of your wife's body.

Can you at least respond to that?



PETERSON: No response. Talk to my lawyer. I've got nothing...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No truth to it whatsoever?

PETERSON: None. Nobody helped me with anything in such a manner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On October 28th -- where were you on October 28th?

This gentleman says he helped you carry a container out of your home.

PETERSON: Again, talk to my attorney.


LEMON: Talk to my lawyer.

Did you hear that -- talk to my lawyer?

And lawyers are coming out today. They are upset because this may be the thing -- the only thing that they didn't want.

LIEBERMAN: Let me tell you something, Don. Today, Drew's lawyer attacked Drew's stepbrother, calling him a manic depressive, saying he was an alcoholic. Let me tell you something, you don't attack somebody unless you are afraid of them. They're clearly afraid of the information that Drew's stepbrother had. And let me tell you one other quick thing, Don. The fact that this stepbrother's name got leaked out there and all this information is damaging to the investigation. Now, basically, the whole case is laid out in front of Drew Peterson. It's extremely damaging to the prosecution.

LEMON: The relative's name has leaked out -- the alleged boyfriend that Drew Peterson has been talked about -- has talked about -- his name has been leaked out, his address and all of that.

A very odd case, Jon Lieberman. And you guys all are on top of it, as well as the media there in Chicago.

We thank you for joining us today.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: And if you get any updates, please let us know.

LIEBERMAN: Will do, Don.

PHILLIPS: The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Nixon and Bush administrations may be 40 years apart, but the new documents reveal many of the same concerns.


PHILLIPS: Less than six years after he took the oath of office, Richard Nixon would give up the White House in disgrace. But long before Watergate, Nixon had plenty of things to worry about -- and some of them still concern President Bush.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has been digging through some newly declassified documents.

All right now, fess up. Have you been digging through all 10,000 documents that have been released -- Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, as you can imagine, there are a plethora of pages. So we've been digging through a limited amount. And we also have some -- we have a producer who's on the ground in Maryland digging through some other documents.

But what we can tell from what we've seen is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Mideast peace, as you mentioned, is at the forefront of President Bush's mind this week and many of these documents show that President Nixon was dealing with the very same delicate issues.

One of the documents that was released today shows that back in 1973, the Nixon White House was strongly urging Saudi Arabia to cut off its financial support for Fatah -- the faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization that was viewed by the U.S. as increasingly affiliated with terrorism at that time. Now, in turn, the king of Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. to withdraw its support for Israel.

Sound familiar?

We hear dialogue like this going on even today. And one of the more interesting documents was penned in 1969. It says, basically, that the U.S. was aware that it was imminent Israel would become a nuclear power -- something that even to this day Israel won't confirm or deny. And even knowing that, the U.S. sold Israel fighter jets, even though the U.S. intended that Israel could not purchase those planes if they had nuclear capabilities.

And then something else I wanted to tell you about, one telegram from the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He tells the administration -- the Nixon administration -- that the sentiment among major players in the region is that there is probably no real cure for terrorist disease other than getting at the underlying cause -- the Arab-Israeli conflict. That was 1973, but very similar to what observers see now here in 2007 -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So Brianna, why release these documents now?

KEILAR: This came, actually, from a lawsuit -- a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. A lot of this revolving around some of the Watergate papers that were wanted to be released. And, of course, we're going to learn more about that as we dig through more of these documents -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Do we know who filed the FOIA?

Was it a reporter looking for some type of scoop or an investigation that was taking place?

KEILAR: It was an organization, Public Citizen. They were one of the people that filed this -- that filed under the Freedom of Information Act. And so the Nixon Library said that because of a change -- basically they had a change of mind -- it was kind of vague their justification. They decided to release these documents. And, as I said, thousands upon thousands of pages. I think this is going to get interesting.

PHILLIPS: Yes, definitely.

I think about that famous quote about not repeating history. I think it was Santana (ph). But we'll follow-up.

Brianna, thanks.

LEMON: Just minutes left in the trading day. Almost time for the closing bell.

Will this be the biggest gain of the year?

You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: An update now on the outrageous sentence giving to a 19- year-old rape victim in Saudi Arabia. You may remember the young woman was brutally assaulted by seven men. Well, word quickly spread around the world that she was to be punished by six months in jail and 200 lashes. Now, the kingdom's foreign minister says a court is taking a second look at her case and will review the sentence. She was found guilty of fraternizing with a man unrelated by blood or marriage.

PHILLIPS: And we'll see what's clicking with all you CNN.comers today -- some of our most popular stories this hour.

The search for a former police officer's missing wife now focuses on finding a blue barrel that could contain Stacy Peterson's body.

In Sudan, a British schoolteacher charged with insulting Islam by allowing her class to name a Teddy bear Muhammad. Jail time plus 40 lashes could be the penalty.

Cleaning up Rat Island -- no, not that places for mafia snitched -- the Alaskan island overrun with vermin. And scientists have a medical answer. You may find it bloody well revolting.

See these stories and more at

LEMON: Absolutely.

The Dow has been up and up all afternoon.

Can it be on to set a record -- a record for the year?

Susan Lisovicz and the closing bell, Kyra, coming up next.


PHILLIPS: The closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

LEMON: You know what that means?

It's time for Susan Lisovicz.

She's standing by with a final look at what appears to be a very good trading day.

LISOVICZ: This is the running of the bulls -- and we are not talking about Pamplona. Check it out. Right now, the Dow is up 335 points. That's right -- that was the best point gain of the year. That's what we have to beat -- 336. So it's really going to go down to the wire as to whether it's the best.

It really almost doesn't matter. It comes as such a surprise, after the Dow, just two days ago, entered a correction -- a 10 percent decline from its most recent highs. It is the best two day point gain of the year by far.

Why is that?

Well, at the Federal Reserve, a policymaker today said the Fed has to be nimble in addressing risks to the economy. A lot of folks here interpret that as another interest rate cut and that it could come in two weeks at the next interest rate meeting.

There are a lot of reasons why the Fed might want to cut interest rates. We got another gloomy report on housing sales, which were down for the eighth consecutive month. Wells Fargo says it's going to have $1.5 billion in quarterly losses because its home equity loans aren't being paid. We have big ticket items -- we had a drop in that, the factory orders.

But at the end result, oil was down by nearly $4 and the Dow could be could post the best point gain of the year -- 338 is what I'm seeing right now, guys.

LEMON: All right, Susan.

Good news.

Thank you.

See you tomorrow.

LISOVICZ: You've got it.

PHILLIPS: All right, we're going to take it now to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer and the president -- or the interview, rather, with the president of the United States -- hey, Wolf.