Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Roger Strikes Back; Decorating Arlington Cemetery; Election Update

Aired December 23, 2007 - 16:00   ET


ROGER CLEMENS, MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER: Let me be clear, the answer is no.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN, ANCHOR: The pitch from Roger Clemens, the baseball icon striked out against allegations of steroid use. And a pack of trouble in Anchorage. Alaska's biggest town on the lookout for a renegade family of wolves.

Also, ahead this hour, dressing up for the holidays at Arlington National Cemetery, a yuletide tradition and tribute to the ultimate sacrifice.

Hello, everyone, you are in the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. First this hour, the multi-media brush back pitch from baseball's Roger Clemens. Via video and the web and soon in a primetime interview, Clemens is launching a P.R. blitz to combat charges of steroid use contained in the Mitchell report. And his attorney is threatening lawsuits. Here with the story of Clemens' campaign, Larry Smith of CNN sports. So who's up front now?

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORT, CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's the one certainly from a P.R. standpoint, you want as the term goes to get ahead of this thing and it seems that Roger Clemens is doing that. There's no question that Clemens has been the most vocal of the more than 80 players named in the Mitchell report. The probe, the steroids in major league baseball that was released 11 days ago. Since then, Clemens hasn't just denied allegations of doping but has now done it four times after releasing three written statements, the latest is in the form of a video, appearing on the veteran pictures' web site. The seven-time CY Young award winner speaks for almost two minutes to empathically deny any connection to steroid use.


ROGER CLEMENS, Let me be clear, the answer is no, I did not use steroids, human growth hormone and I've never done so. I did not provide Brian McNamee with any drugs to inject into my body. Brian McNamee did not inject steroids or human growth hormones into my body either when I played in Toronto for the Blue jays or the New York Yankees. This report is simply not true.


SMITH: Now, McNamee is the former New York Yankees trainer who was one of the sources that George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator used in his report. Clemens plans to talk to CBS's "60 minutes" after Christmas in his first interview about the Mitchell report. Now, at 45 years old, the right hander, who pitched for the Yankees last year, is at or near the end of his career. But he still wants to clear his name.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm now so totally comfortable Roger is telling the truth, nothing is going to harm my case. Look, we have nowhere to go. Everybody convicted in something that he hasn't even charge with and never will be charge with but being convicted in the court of public opinion. And I was told the other day by a columnist, well, he's not in a court of law, he's in the court of public opinion, there are no rules there. Well, maybe there should be a few, like don't you think, like let's be fair? But at any rate, you are never going to be able to resolve all these things. At the end of the day, what you're going to have to decide is whether the Mitchell report was responsible in basing these allegations against Roger and on the sources they used.

SMITH: Well, take this off his slate and Roger Clemens is a lock for the hall of fame, which will come five years after retirement, if he ever retires. So it's no wonder why he's spending so much time and energy professing his innocence, because really no one else, say perhaps homerun king Barry Bonds has as much to lose by keeping quiet.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And he really is taking a very different approach from all the others whether it's the (inaudible) or the you know, leaders of the pack accused that he is coming out this way. So I wonder does it bode well for him to do this?

SMITH: Well, I think at this point it's at the end of his career, and so why not? These 80 something people, there's no question they have been, you know, they have been marked. There's no question. You've been marked. You've been named as part of the Mitchell reports. So it's up to him now to try to come up and say well, hey I haven't done this. You know, where we go from here, this is something as we talked the day this came out, this is not going anywhere any time soon. I mean, we will discuss this for months if not years in terms of the validity of it - who is guilty, who is not, what evidence to use, whatever. It's a long way from here and Roger Clemens certainly put four times in 11 days is doing his very best to get in front of it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Larry. Keeping us posted as this case takes another turn.

Meantime, we're going to talk still sports, an inspirational day for the buffalo bills and their injured player Kevin Everett. Today, Everett attended the Bills' final home game and addressed his teammates before they hosted the New York Giants. He's been recovering from the spinal cord injury that he suffered in the team's first game September 9th. Doctors feared he would never walk again but he's proven them wrong and is still in rehab. The Giants' Dominic Hickson was hoping to meet with Everett today. Everett was hurt tackling Hickson who played for the Denver Broncos.

And holiday shoppers aren't the only ones pressed for time this Christmas weekend. The clock is also running out on the presidential candidates. They have just 11 days before the Iowa caucuses begin and five days after that, New Hampshire holds the nation's first primary. We'll have a live report from CNN's John King later on in the show. But first, let's check in with Jessica Yellin, who is in Iowa, where three democrats are in a real close horse race. Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Boy, they sure are. I can't emphasize to you enough how undecided this race is on the Democratic side. When you go to these events, there are an impressive number of voters who really say they have not made up their minds. And when you ask them what will flip them and what will make them decide to go with one or the other, they generally say two things, one is which person do they trust the most to make good on their promises and the other is who do they believe will beat the Republicans in the general election.

Now, what we've seen evolved this weekend is it's become profoundly clear that this is not just a two-way race between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. At the very least, John Edwards is firmly in that fray. This weekend, Obama went after him by name very aggressively, essentially accusing Edwards of hypocrisy on this question of special interests. As you know, John Edwards has made his campaign very much about getting special interests out of the political debate in Washington, limiting their influence. And Obama is saying that Edwards has allowed special interests to run advertisements for him in this state and he says Edwards should put a stop to it that's pure hypocrisy. For his part, Edwards defends it saying he opposes these ads but there's nothing legally he can do to stop them.

Now, Senator Clinton has also taken on John Edwards. She has squarely gone after his support on this poverty issue, embracing one of his key proposals, which is raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. So both of the so-called front runners clearly vying for every vote they can. And nobody here has a comfortable enough cushion to believe that they have this state locked up in any way. Edwards, Obama, Clinton and even the second tier candidates all thinking they really have a chance, and they all is just firmly in play. One last note I'll tell you, Fredricka, a bit of news from "The Boston Globe" today. A poll by them shows that Obama has overtaken Clinton in New Hampshire. You know, that was supposed to be her firewall state within the margin of error, but he's slightly above her in that poll. So just a wide open race for now.

WHITFIELD: Still very unpredictable and it's going to be an exciting race, both in Iowa and New Hampshire over the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much, Jessica Yellin, part of the best political team on television.

Meantime, let's talk weather now, causing havoc this holiday weekend. The winter storm that has smacked the central plains is being blamed now for at least eight deaths. At least one person was killed and 16 injured in a horrible chain reaction pile-up in Amarillo, Texas yesterday. It involved more than 50 vehicles, including tractor trailer rigs. The crash has plagued a number of states in fact from the Texas panhandle straight up the line to Wisconsin. Conditions prompted highway officials to close several stretches of interstate, including i-29 between St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Iowa border. What a mess that is. Well, the storm is moving eastward and today the windy city is living up to its nickname, dangerous gusts in Chicago have forced officials to cancel about 150 flights in and out of O'Hare. Wind, snow and sleet from the storm have cut power to thousands of households in Illinois, Wisconsin, as well as Michigan. Checking in with Bonnie Schneider, who was monitoring it all. Boy, it's been a really busy weekend for weather.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. And no surprise, those winds have knocked down about 55,000 people without power in the Detroit area right now. So the winds continue to be a problem. Now they're coming in from the southwest at about 30 miles per hour. Those are some strong, sustained winds. Look at the temperature in Green Bay in Wisconsin, 14 degrees. The wind chill factor makes it feel like it's in the single digits. This large storm system we we're watching yesterday has moved to the north and now you can see it some point here over Wisconsin, still pulling down bitterly cold air. And in advance of the storm, we're getting a little bit more mild there, plenty of moisture associated with that as well.

Take a look at some of the winter threat that we have, we still have heavy snow advisories for areas in northern Wisconsin where we could see another 2 to 4 inches of blowing snow today and tonight. In the meantime, it's heavy rain for upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania. Lots of rain in and around New York City and fierce, fierce wind. Look at this in Bellport on the south shore of Long Island, we're getting winds sustained also around at 20 miles per hour. And up by (inaudible) upstate New York, the winds are fierce as well as in Atlantic City and through parts of Pennsylvania where the winds are also quite strong.

Nationally, this is setting up a terrible situation for airport delays. The wind has now brought the airport delays, ground delays at JFK well over three hours. We also have long delays, almost four hours in and around Newark, New Jersey. Watching out for rain across much of the northwest as well and our last stop for airport delays is Philadelphia where 50-minute delays is actually seen pretty good compared it Fredricka with the delays we have right now in New York. I mean, three hours, of course, that's really a long, long wait.

WHITFIELD: That is agonizing, especially when it's so crowded. Everybody is in the same boat, run out of food, all the good stuff, get a little cranky.

SCHNEIDER: Definitely.

WHITFIELD: All right Bonnie, thanks so much.

Well, speaking of cranky, how about aggressive as well. A pack of wolves is stirring up trouble near Anchorage, Alaska. Well, they usually keep to themselves but not this bunch, they've attacked three times in the past two weeks and just three days ago, they scared the wits out of a trio of joggers. Andrea Gusty from CNN affiliate KTVA talked with them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALYCIA BELERGROHSLEIN, WOLF ATTACK VICTIM: They were not afraid of us. They were really close.

ANDREA GUSTY, KTVA, CORRESPONDENT: It was quick. So quick the three friends didn't know what was happening until it was too late.

BELERGROHSLEIN: And they were so quiet. They just came right up on us. They just came right up on us. They were quick.

GUSTY: A pack of at least seven wolves surrounded the three women and their dogs as they jogged on Artillery Road. The lead wolves came within feet, circling the women as they tried to get away.

CAMAS BARKEMEYER, WOLF ATTACK VICTIM: I was rainbowing my pepper spray and they fell back a little bit. But as soon as we would turn our backs to try to go, they would run up on us and then we would turn around and start screaming again and I would spray my pepper spray.

BELERGROHSLEIN: They're so big and so many and they started howling and we thought they were circling us. It got us panicked but we just kept screaming.

GUSTY: Alycia, Camas and their friend were more than a mile and a half away from their cars. All of their dogs were leashed because they read about the warnings of other attacks. The trio were careful not to run, and instead the women walked backwards, screaming to keep the animals away and trying to keep everyone safe.

BELERGROHSLEIN: I love my dog with all my heart, but I can't jeopardize my friends. And if that's what they wanted I don't know whether we...

GUSTY: The women held tight to the leashes and were able to keep the wolves at bay, but not before the pack attacked her Camas' American bull dog, Buddy.

CAMAS: My dog did get attacked by the wolf, three wolves. He fought his way out as I'm holding.

GUSTY: The women weren't physically hurt but Buddy had to have surgery to fix his gashes and bites left behind by the wolves. Camas worries the pack could attack again, this time only worse.

CAMAS: They were not afraid of us. And I'm afraid that if I were out here by myself, they would attack me. They were not afraid.

GUSTY: Wildlife experts say wolves are smart animals and learn quickly, which means the pack will likely get worse before they get any better.

RICK SINNOTT, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: They figure out a dog is easy to kill and it's food for them and they can just come to the conclusion that there's a lot more dogs than moose and let's just start eating the dogs for now. I'm not sure they're quite reached that point but it sounds like they're working on that concept right now. GUSTY: In the meantime, the only way to stop the wolf attacks is to stay away. And not give the wolves an opportunity to take their attacks to the next level. Andrea Gusty, CBS 11 News.


WHITFIELD: That is some scary stuff. In the meantime, a very sad outlook on the holidays for one family as they prepare for Christmas without their daughter. Madeleine McCann's parents issue a video plea. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has left Cuba after a four-day visit. Chavez met with Cuba's acting President Raul Castro Saturday. They reportedly signed agreements to build a new power plant and to expand Cuba's oil sector. During his stay, Chavez also reportedly met with Fidel Castro. Well, Italy's prime minister tells the Afghan president you can count on us. Prime Minister Romano Prodi pledged his country's long term commitment. Italy has about 2,400 troops in the NATO force there. The leaders of France and Australia have also vowed to stand by Afghanistan.

A Christmas appeal for help from the parents of Madeleine McCann. Nearly seven months after the British girl disappeared from a Portuguese resort. Her parents have renewed their plea for information. CNN's Emily Chang has the story now.


EMILY CHANG, CNN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This home video just released by the McCann family shows little Madeleine McCann unwrapping Christmas presents as her parents prepare to spend this Christmas without her.

VOICE OF GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE'S FATHER: Clearly for us and the rest of our family, it's going to be the hardest Christmas imaginable without Madeleine here.

CHANG: Sitting in front of their Christmas tree, Kate and Gerry McCann make yet another impassioned plea.

KATE MCCANN, MADELEIN'S MOTHER: At this time of year when so many families are coming together, we like you to help us be reunited with Madeleine. Please do the right thing and come forward.

CHANG: On may 3rd, Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment in Portugal. Portuguese police initially treated the case as an abduction. One man Robert Murat who lived near the resort was named a suspect as the McCanns launched a worldwide campaign to find their daughter. But after four months suspicion turned to the parents. Kate and Gerry McCann were also named official suspects in the case. But to this day, no one has been charged. And the McCanns vigorously maintain their innocence.

GERRY MCCANN: Someone knows what happened to her and they know where she is now. That person has it within their power to show the compassion to end this terrible ordeal for us.

CHANG: Gerry McCann restates the phone number for the find Madeleine hotline where people can call to give tips or information. Kate McCann speaks directly to her daughter.

KATE MCCANN: It seems unlikely you'll hear this, but just in case, it's mommy and daddy here. Just know how much we love you, Madeleine. We all miss you so much. We're doing everything we can, Madeleine, to find you.

CHANG: She also tells her daughter to be brave.

KATE MCCANN: We love you, Madeleine.


CHANG: Emily Chang, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: In this country, one family's joy is another family's outrage. A black man claimed he thought a modern day lynch mob had come to his house and he shot and killed a white teen because he had to. A jury did not agree.


WHITFIELD: And this is what is cooking with all of you cnn.comers today. Soggy, frigid weather in the nation's mid section making this weekend miserable to so many people. The system is blamed for at least eight deaths. The storm and the travel mess both moving east today. And you're also interested apparently in how President Bush will wind up his final year in the White House. Three key issues possibly taking center stage. Chief among them, the U.S. economy. And evidence Arizona's get-tough approach on illegal immigrants is having an impact. There are signs that many are packing up and essentially leaving the state. Read more about it at

Well, defense attorneys say they plan to appeal the guilty verdict in a racially charged case in New York. Last night, a Long Island jury convicted John White, a black man, of killing a white teen during a confrontation outside the man's home. The dispute began with an internet threat that was falsely attributed to White's son. It ended with a verdict that brought a flood of emotions from the victim's family. The story now from Tim Fleischer of CNN affiliate WABC.


TIM FLEISCHER, WABC, CORRESPONDENT: Fist clenched and reacting to the guilty verdict. The victim's father and other family members leaving the courtroom crying and hugging each other.

JOANNE CICCIARO, VICTIM'S MOTHER: We did it. We've been finally vindicated.

FLEISCHER: John White was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Shooting 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro outside his home last year. Testifying in his trial, White believed he was protecting his family from what he thought was an angry lynch mob of white teenagers who came to fight his son, Aaron.

CICCIARO: I just thank god and that everybody saw through their lies, the jury saw through it.

JOANNE CICCIARO: The truth prevailed.

FLEISCHER: Having relatives who had been victims of racial violence, White feared he was facing that same violence. He claims that he shot the boy accidentally.

FRED BREWINGTON, WHITE'S ATTORNEY: John White and his family were scared to death and the fact that that was not taken in and considered as an important aspect of the justice occasion to go out and protect your home and protect your family.

FLEISCHER: The district attorney argued he should have simply locked the door and called police.

BREWINGTON: Something happened that set off an entire dynamic that was brought to the White doorstep. It was not the White family's doorstep that went someplace else.


WHITFIELD: And Mr. White faces 5 to 15 years in prison. He is allowed to remain free on bail until sentencing. Meantime, White's attorney called the verdict disappointing for African-Americans. Cicciaro's family says the case was never about race.

Well, Yousef, that little boy right there, gaining ground and determined to get better on Dr. Sanjay Gupta as you see right there on the soccer field, who wins?


WHITFIELD: Happening right now. Roger Clemens mounts a P.R. offensive against allegations of steroid use that threatened his reputation. In a video posted into his web site, the superstar pitcher denies ever using steroids or human growth hormones. Clemens hasn't yet faced reporters but he announced today he would be sitting down with Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes."

And that big winter storm smacked the central plains, now raking the midwest with snow, sleet and high winds. The winds have forced scores of flight cancellations at Chicago's O'Hare and has caused widespread power outages in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Bonnie Schneider is very busy there in the weather center and something tells me that this weather is only going to get worse.

SCHNEIDER: It's just the worse time because we have such a busy travel weekend, to have so much wind and snow and rain. And what you're looking at behind me is what we've been showing you this throughout the weekend. We have some peak activity on Friday afternoon. We had over 6,000 planes in the sky. You're looking at 5,300 planes in the sky and a lot of them are on the east coast. And they're probably circling around, waiting for their turn to land because the winds have been so fierce that we've had lengthy delays.

Take a look at this rundown of delays. Three hours and twenty five minutes at JFK right now. We also have delays in La Guardia Airport as well, an hour and 45 minutes. That actually sounds better when you compare it with JFK. Two hours delay now in Montreal and we have delays, ground delays no surprise in Chicago where we've had snow and wind. Minneapolis reporting a ground stop. So that's new information for you. The delays have been lengthy as well in Newark, New Jersey, almost four hours. So this is the longest delay we have thus far. Philadelphia reporting a ground delay of 50 minutes and this extreme weather, Fredricka, is really what's causing it all. Wind and snow and even heavy rain in upstate New York and bitterly cold temperatures 14 degrees. It feels like it's 7.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, no.

SCHNEIDER: Cold for those Christmas shoppers.

WHITFIELD: At least all the folks are getting those hats, gloves and parkas for Christmas. They'll be put to good use. Thanks so much, Bonnie.

Presidential politics now. In just about two weeks, check your calends, there will be big news coming out of New Hampshire. Two presidential hopefuls, one Democrat and one Republican, will be declared winners of the nation's first primary. For them, granite is the new goal. CNN's chief national correspondent Johnny King is live in New Hampshire. So John if Iowa has the first contest with the caucus, why is all the attention on New Hampshire already?

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, good evening from beautiful small-time Hillsboro, New Hampshire. We are 11 days from the Iowa caucus that means we are 16 days from the New Hampshire primary. So if you're a candidate, especially if you think maybe Iowa might not be such fertile territory for you, you're looking for a backup plan. But if you are the former Massachutes governor Mitt Romney, you woke up at home today to this in the "Boston Globe," McCain closing gap with Romney. Romney that is her in New Hampshire. Romney was comfortably ahead here in the summer. The new "Boston Globe" says McCain is now just a couple points back. So Mitt Romney is campaigning here today.

At his last event, he went after Senator McCain, no surprise there, saying Senator McCain back in 2001 did not support the Bush tax cuts. The McCain camp saying when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachutes, raised taxes by $700 million. Why the dust up over taxes that for years has been the Republican dividing line, the proven ground here in the state of New Hampshire. So Romney going after his closest rival here, Senator John McCain.

Also in New Hampshire, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now he didn't come here very much early on. He's making a late push here in New Hampshire. He runs third in the polls. He had two events here today, small meet and greet with his supporters. He's not running a lot of ads on Boston television. Many are saying Giuliani has a very risky strategy in his campaign, focusing more on Florida and the February 5th states, not the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But he was here today and said he's certainly not giving up on New Hampshire, although if you look at all the polling, right now in this state it's a Romney-McCain race. What happens in Iowa could shake the poll standings here in New Hampshire.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So John while the strategies may be different, does that mean that the issues are different that these candidates are focusing on?

KING: Great question, because they are very different and it is one of the most intriguing elements of this race. Here in New Hampshire, the economy is issue number one. Out in Iowa among the Republicans, the economy is number one but immigration comes in right behind it. There's a big gap in the economy here in New Hampshire and among the Democrats the war in Iraq is by far number one here among voters along with the economy as well.

Remember back at the beginning of the year, we thought the whole campaign could be defined by Iraq. On the Republican side, it's about abortion and social issues out in Iowa, economy and taxes here in New Hampshire. Iraq still matters to the base of the Democratic Party. I know Jessica Yellin mentioned at the top of the show not only a dead heat among Republicans here, a Romney McCain race in New Hampshire, but a very close race among the Democrats as well with this new "Boston Globe" poll showing Senator Barack Obama inching ahead of Senator Clinton. So a fun 16 days to the finish here in New Hampshire.

WHITFIELD: Extraordinary stuff. John King thanks so much. Part of the best political team.

KING: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Investigations right now, investigators are trying to determine the cause of this church fire in Jacksonville, Florida. More than 70 firefighters battled the early morning blaze which destroyed the sanctuary of the Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church and it also knocked out power in the area. No injuries were reported.

Environmental officials are closely monitoring this huge blaze at a tire dump in southern New Jersey. It broke out late last night, drawing more than 55 fire fighting units to the scene. Hundreds of thousands of old tires were being stored there.

And back on the trail, Republican Rudy Giuliani is talking to voters today as you heard in John King's report. He's in New Hampshire and there his first event since a health scare landed him in the hospital last week. CNN's Mary Snow has more now on Giuliani's health concerns.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rudy Giuliani back on the campaign trail.

How are you feeling?


SNOW: The Republican presidential hopeful who is in New Hampshire for the first time since spending the night in a hospital late Wednesday into Thursday for what his campaign said was flu-like symptoms. Giuliani scaled back his schedule Friday. His campaign confirms he visited his doctor in New York but declined to detail the tests he underwent. What do you say to Americans who might be concerned about your health? What do you say to reassure them?

GIULIANI: What I say to them is that I've had all these tests that were taken the other day. All came out 100 percent. I'm in very good health. I had a very bad headache. That's what precipitated it. And they checked out everything.

SNOW: Giuliani would only say he was given in his words every test imaginable without giving specifics. He plans to have his doctor disclose more information.

GIULIANI: My doctor will do a report. And also address the cancer part. Might as well address that as well. I am a cancer survivor, I had cancer, and I get tested for it all the time. So he'll put out those results as well.

SNOW: Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer seven years ago just as he was gearing up to challenge Hillary Clinton for the New York Senate seat. He withdrew from the race. His last test for cancer was three weeks ago and the results were normal. In an interview with ABC News this week with George Stephanopoulos, Giuliani said he was advised by his doctor to take one aspirin a day. We asked CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta why a doctor may suggest doing that.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Aspirin actually causes your blood to become a little bit thinner, which is good for someone at risk for heart disease or at risk of having a stroke. If there has been a concern about those things a doctor may say you didn't have a heart attack or you didn't have a stroke but we're concerned enough about it, we're going to start you on an aspirin a day.

SNOW: We asked the campaign whether Giuliani had an EKG or any other tests related to heart health. Aides wouldn't give any details of the tests saying Giuliani's doctor would do so but insists the aspirin advice is for headaches, not for any heart concerns. Giuliani was asked by a reporter if he thought he was having a heart attack. He said no.

GIULIANI: This was something that came about because tired, not sleeping, who knows exactly why. But I had a very bad headache and they were concerned it might be other things, they ruled out every other possibility. It was just a bad headache.

SNOW: Giuliani didn't say when his doctor would release the results but he indicated it would be after Christmas. He says that it will give a complete picture that he is in good health. He is continuing on with his campaign schedule.

Mary Snow, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


WHITFIELD: And he's acting like any other little boy, something his parents are delighted to see. Yussif was much different when we first met him this summer. He had been badly burned by a group of attackers in his native Iraq and since that horrible day, Yussif and his family have been through unspeakable heartache. Youssif's road to recovery is chronicled in a CNN Christmas special hosted by chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. It's worth pointing out that a lot of this is do to you, the CNN viewer and the user. So many donations came in from all over the world. There are enough to pay for Yussif and his entire family to come to the United States. Dr. Peter Grossman who is a plastic surgeon in California volunteered his time and volunteered his services to try and help Yussif. Here's a clip of the special.


GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Grossman let me scrub in to observe. He showed me how he hopes to undo much of what an unspeakably cruel act has done to this 5-year-old boy.

DR. GROSSMAN: We'll basically be taking out this scar tissue around here.

GUPTA: He planned removing scar tissue from around Youssif's nose and insert tissue expanders, small balloons under the healthy skin. On Youssif's cheek and that over time, Dr. Grossman hoped to stretch the healthy skin to replace the heavy scars on Yussif's chin, jaw line and next to his ear.

GROSSMAN: Now it's time to operate.

GUPTA: Dr. Grossman took Youssif's case for free and expected to perform half a dozen or more operations over the next year. How Youssif faired in the initial operations would play an enormous role in how well the boy healed and how much evidence remained of the attack that disfigured his young face. For me, it was a fascinating, close-up view of state of the art burn surgery.

For Youssif's parents, it was an ordeal of waiting.

GROSSMAN: This is not a sure thing.


GUPTA: Youssif has had three operations now and still has more in store, but he looks better. Both physically and emotionally he's healing. Much happier than he was before. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Wait till you see this special. It is gripping. Tune in to "Rescuing Youssif" Christmas Eve at 10:00 pm Eastern only on CNN.

A wrong number. How many times has that happened to you? Well, in this case, it turned oh, so right. Thousands of kids trying to call Santa dialed this man instead. A real yuletide whoops. He's not Santa but he's no scrooge either. We will tell you what he and his community did with all those wish lists.


WHITFIELD: All right. A digit off and a California man's phone, well, it seemed to be ringing off the hook. Thousands of children actually thought they were calling Santa. Instead, they were calling John Dickson by mistake. But Dickson, the accidental Santa, he didn't hang up. He actually took the calls. John now joins us from California. Good to see you and happy holidays.

JOHN DICKSON, WRONG NUMBER, SANTA: Hi, Merry Christmas, Fredricka. Wearing lots of red today.

WHITFIELD: 'Tis the season. You could have been a grinch about it. People kept calling you thinking they were calling Santa because your number is 1-800-Santa-barbara and kids thought they were calling 1- 800-Santa Claus, but you actually listened. What were they saying?

DICKSON: The kids are the most precious things you can advantage. You get -- they're so adorable and full of love and hope and they say the unexpected. I got a call last night from a little kid who didn't want Santa Claus to come to his house because he didn't want Rudolph to poo on his roof.

WHITFIELD: So these calls made you laugh.

DICKSON: They make you laugh and very heartwarming. Some calls are heartbreaking too. We had a volunteer last night; we have over 100 volunteers in the call center. She burst into tears. It's heartwarming and heart wrenching calls that almost all are sweet, adorable little kids wanting to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

WHITFIELD: That is so cute. But you mentioned call center. This didn't start out that way. It started off with a few calls and you're like, no, this is not Santa. Somehow you engaged the calls and it branched out instead of changing your phone number, you created a call center so kids would have a welcome voice on the other end.

DICKSON: I just -- it was so much fun. I was just working at my desk, running my business and a call came in from a little boy who wanted a blue truck, a pony and a spider and I just kind of quickly figured out what had happened. It was really fun. Another call came in, another call came and they're just so sweet and adorable. And it's just really fun. You cannot hang up the phone. Every time the phone rings, you know there's a little kid. It might be the first time they've ever spoken to Santa in their life.

WHITFIELD: So John, your business is?

DICKSON: I run a -- it's an online service called That's the reason I got the phone number 1-800-Santabarbara last year as a companion to it. That's how it started.

WHITFIELD: Now around the holiday season you have recruited, as well as a lot of folk whose have volunteered, who say I want to receive some of those calls and spread the good cheer. What do you do with the wish list of these kids like the pony and all that?

DICKSON: That's a very good question. What I do is I have a golden rule and every kid who calls in; we make sure to ask your mommy or daddy if it's OK to have those things. So we take the calls and say ask your mommy or daddy and Rudolph and I will come to your home on Christmas.

WHITFIELD: And you really do that?

DICKSON: We do that. And sometimes I also play an elf. I can be an elf. We've got a lot of requests for information about the call center. So I started a website called and there's pictures of the volunteers and the most popular things, I list all the most popular things which is a Nintendo WII, anything related to Hannah Montana or High School Musical, those are huge. And we put that on the website, the most common questions and the most popular requests.

WHITFIELD: John, you are some Santa.

DICKSON: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So many kids and families out there, so family. John Dickson, wrong number Santa. I love that, its where folks can give and help you continue this wonderful giving, right?

DICKSON: It's just for information about that. I pay the phone bill out of my pocket.

WHITFIELD: That's so sweet.

DICKSON: We're not a fund-raiser in any way. You can see pictures of all the volunteers. There's been over a hundred people from the community of Santa Barbara and we're on the phone from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. through Christmas Eve.

WHITFIELD: John Dickson, thanks so much and great to meet you.

DICKSON: Good to meet you and Merry Christmas.

WHITFIELD: Merry Christmas to you too. I think its Happy holidays.

DICKSON: You too. Bye-bye.

WHITFIELD: Perhaps money is tight for you. Well, the price just might be right here. Lots of shoppers now good will hunting. Besides the, thanks to low-cost charities, high tech marketing. More of that straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Of course, shoppers always looking for a bargain, but many draw the line at going to Goodwill. So the charity is testing out the power of the Internet to mass market their thrift store goods. Here now is Gary Nurenberg.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a fashion show on the net. All the clothing for sale by the charity Goodwill Industries of Greater Washington, D.C., which uses the money to help the disabled find jobs. Like what you see? Go to the Web and bid on it. Find similar items in Goodwill's e-bay store. Want fashion advice? Goodwill has a fashion blog. It's Goodwill fashionista.

BRENDAN HURLEY, SR. C.P. GOODWILL OF GREATER WASHINGTON: Goodwill of Greater Washington is the first Goodwill affiliate in the country to launch a social media campaign using a virtual fashion show.

NURENBERG: It is also updating its secondhand clothing stores whose parking lots are crowded with holiday shoppers. Not just second-hand clothes now, Goodwill buys overstocked merchandise and sells it at big discounts. Apparently you can try things on while they're still on a hanger.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): It's crazy. Like it's really fun to come here because it's like a scavenger hunt.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): It's better than going to a regular store because you spend way too much and you can come right here and get it for a cheap price.

NURENBERG: Which is what Rebecca Middleton found shoe shopping.

REBECCA MIDDLETON: If I was to purchase these in a store, I would be paying close to $75 to $100. And these are $5.99.

NURENBERG: No arguing with the prices. Formal dress, $15.99, suits $10.98, skirts $5.98. The charity thinks the new plan is bringing new customers online and into the stores.

EM HALL, GOODWILL "FASHIONISTA:" They can't believe how nice it is and how low the prices are. That reaffirms our thinking in the first place.

NURENBERG: Big business in the week ahead, gowns for New Year's Eve.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Some good deals there. It's a beautiful and sobering sight to behold at Arlington National Cemetery. Thousands of wreaths placed on the graves of fallen soldiers. We'll take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Arlington National Cemetery is quite the stunning sight any time of year, but right now all of those headstones are decorated with thousands of evergreen wreaths. Each placed by volunteers honoring American's fallen heroes. CNN's photo journalist Bethany Swayne takes you there.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We had two 18 wheelers full of boxes of wreaths.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): It comes out of a box of eight.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We just uncrated them and everybody came up.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We had 2,000 people all wanting to grab a wreath and take it.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): It's a little hectic at times.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Just a rush of people.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Crowd wasn't quite as big back 16 years ago as it is right now.

(UNIDENTIFED MALE): We gather here today to place approximately 10,000 wreaths to remember the fallen, honor those who served, and teach our children the value of freedom.


(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): I love this idea.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): This lady's name is Irene and that's my name. Oh, Irene. I'm sure she has a story.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Being in the military, it's a totally different way of life than most people realize.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): My father is a retired air force. My brother is in the air force. So I know what it's like not to have your dad home at Christmastime.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): This is very special.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Oh, my goodness. She died the year I was born.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): And you forget about it, you're busy, trying to get to Wal-Mart.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Walter Costello, 29th Division, World War I.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I wanted to introduce them to their grandfather. It's a very moving place. That wreath right there is all the way from Maine. I would have brought one on my own, but it's even better than someone else that I don't know in a different part of the country made this and donated it.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): All these people have given everything they could for their country.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): It's a way of showing respect to our veterans.


WHITFIELD: Perhaps you would like to help with next year's wreath laying campaign at Arlington. Just point your web browser to wreaths across The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

ROGER CLEMENS: Let me be clear, the answer is no.

WHITFIELD: Roger Clemens responds, the baseball great accused of doping in the Mitchell report.

Caught on tape, now caught by police. A boldin, brazen suspect accused of trying to kidnap a little girl.

And if you're short on time and money, and still searching for Christmas gifts, we've got some ideas for you.

Hello again, I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. First this hour, the pitch from Roger Clemens.