Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

John Kerry Endorses Barack Obama; Bill Richardson Due to Drop Out of Race; Tanker Explosion in Detroit; Peace Prediction from President Bush

Aired January 10, 2008 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: ...Florida freeway at a standstill one day after a horrific pileup.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Police find the decomposing bodies of four children. News conference coming up for you in minutes, a suspect facing charges today, Thursday, January 10th, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

News on the political front this hour. Sources telling CNN just minutes ago, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will endorse Senator Barack Obama. Kerry who ran for president himself in 2004 will make the announcement in Charleston, South Carolina this afternoon. The sources describe Kerry as quote, "One of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, with an e-mail list of millions of addresses." CNN will bring you the announcement when it happens.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson apparently about to bow out. Sources close to Richardson tell CNN he will end his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination today. Richardson finished fourth in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. A democratic strategist puts his reasons for quitting plainly quote, "Not enough votes and not enough money."

We are watching for a Richardson news conference in Santa Fe, 2:00 p.m. eastern and we will carry it for you right here live in the CNN NEWSROOM. And for more on the presidential candidates, and both of these developing stories, go to It is your one- stop shop for all things political.

COLLINS: More on an incredible story coming into CNN out of Detroit. One we've been following for the last 30 minutes or so this morning. A tanker flipped over a guardrail on Interstate 75. It plunged about 20 feet. You see right there in the middle of those two different moving directions of the interstate. It exploded and then set a store below on fire.

Originally, we thought maybe it was a home, but it's not. It's apparently a store. I-75 now shut down in both directions in that area. It's all happening in southwest Detroit. Lieutenant Monica Yesh of the Michigan State Police is joining us now on the telephone. Lieutenant, tell us what you know at this point. I know there are certainly a lot of concerns about the driver of this tanker.

VOICE OF LT. MONICA YESH, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE: At this time we can confirm that the driver of that tanker truck has been -- he has deceased.

COLLINS: All right, that's obviously not what we wanted to hear on that. But as we look at these live pictures coming in to us now from WDIV. Any idea what may have happened here?

YESH: Well we're getting some conflicting statements from witnesses, but it would appear that somehow the tanker hit the gore and lost control of his tractor trailer and part of that rig went over the top of the -- and the tractor there stayed on top of the freeway hovering on that bridge.

COLLINS: It's kind of hard to see from where we are. I'm sure you're familiar with the area. What type of guardrail are we talking about?

YESH: We're talking about cement barriers, approximately four feet high.

COLLINS: Wow. Boy, that is just unbelievable. And then there was obviously an explosion due to what he was carrying inside, which I believe liquid propane, is that correct?

YESH: It was gasoline. He had filled up here in one of the stations.


YESH: He was carrying gasoline.

COLLINS: OK, so when that tanker went down over the edge there of the interstate, it did explode. We see now in the shot that we're looking at, a nearby playground and then also this other structure which we now have learned is a convenience store?

YESH: Right. As I am -- I'm not real familiar with what's down there but that's what I've been told.

COLLINS: OK. What about any other injuries on the ground?

YESH: Right now we can't confirm there has been any injuries. But again, information is still coming in.

COLLINS: OK. Any idea -- obviously we are seeing no other traffic whatsoever in either direction on I-75. What will need to be done? Are we talking about clean-up from the gasoline or are we talking about structural concerns of the interstate?

YESH: Both. We need to clean up and we also need to make sure that the bridge is structurally sound for traffic to travel over it. So Michigan Department of Transportation will be taking care of that.

COLLINS: OK, any prediction or any idea how long that may take?

YESH: Absolutely no idea. It could be several hours. And if it's structurally sound, then the bridge will reopen sometime later today. If it's not, then we'll have to see from there. COLLINS: All right. Well, it is a really horrendous scene there. We see all of the rescue workers, obviously, and other crews on the scene there on top of that interstate. Again, I-75 in Detroit, Michigan is what we are talking about. Lieutenant, we thank you for your time and the new information coming out again from our affiliate there as well, these pictures, WXYZ.

HARRIS: The push for peace and a bold prediction this morning from President Bush. A deal between Israelis and Palestinians within a year? Hala Gorani live from Jerusalem on the president's Mideast mission. Hala, great to see you. Tell us about the president's day so far. Is he explaining why he believes an agreement is possible?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's saying that he believes that the leaders of the Palestinians and the Israelis are committed to this process. He has said time and time again over the last 48 hours that this is the main ingredient when it comes to these peace negotiations. What needs to happen is commitment needs to come and needs to exist from Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Let's listen to what the president said just a few moments ago at a news conference in Ramallah.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe it's possible -- not only possible, I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office. That's what I believe.


GORANI: All right. But what critics and many analysts say, Tony, is that these leaders, George Bush on his way out in the next year, Mahmoud Abbas, not representing all of Palestinians, you will know, of course, that the militant group Hamas is in charge of Gaza. And Ehud Olmert, very unpopular in Israel.

If these leaders do not have the pull, they do not have the power and they do not have the influence on their own people to get a deal through. Very optimistic words though here in Jerusalem and in the West Bank town of Ramallah in the last 24 hours. And in about 10 minutes' time we expect the president to also make a statement according to officials going further in outlining his vision for the peace for the region -- Tony?

HARRIS: And there she is, Hala Gorani traveling with President Bush in Jerusalem. Hala great to see you, thank you.

COLLINS: Want to get a little bit more information for you now on the endorsement of Barack Obama by Senator John Kerry. Suzanne Malveaux is standing by now in Charleston, South Carolina, with a little bit more on this. I know Suzanne that you are attending the Obama event there in Charleston. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, this is something that we're expecting later in the afternoon. And this really is quite a coup for Senator Barack Obama.

As you know, this is Senator John Kerry, somebody who still has an extraordinary amount of good will and support within the Democratic Party. Obviously his contacts, his e-mail lists are quite extensive. Tapping into his support and his endorsement is very significant for Barack Obama. It really comes at a time that he is riding away here. He is come out of New Hampshire with a disappointing loss there.

But since then we have seen some huge endorsements. As you know the Nevada caucus is just right around the corner. He got the endorsement of two big unions there. We are seeing Atlanta's Mayor Shirley Franklin who is also coming out, big support that really counts when it comes to some of the southern states, particularly South Carolina, the African-American population among democratic voters there hovering around 50 percent or so.

So these are really very significant developments for his campaign. And obviously it comes at a time, Heidi, where you know this is truly a dogfight between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. Both of them fighting for big audiences, big dollars, and big endorsements. So this is quite a coup for Barack Obama.

COLLINS: Yeah, I'd be curious to know if there might be any indication, I know how early it is in all of this, but why he chose Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton. And maybe even more importantly why not John Edwards, his old running mate.

MALVEAUX: Well sure. I mean it's very telling, the fact that he did not choose John Edwards. You know what's interesting too, is seeing some of these alliances and we're still just getting kind of the back story here about how he made this decision. We're going to be speaking a lot more about that obviously as we continue to make these calls.

Some of these things are really about who is viable, who is electable and I who really aligns themselves, their agenda and their ideology the best with Senator John Kerry. One of the things we saw just today Governor Bill Richardson is expected to drop out. And we saw a lot of his supporters aligning themselves with the Obama camp in Iowa.

There already seems to be a sense among some of the voters and really some of the Democratic leadership that Edwards is a third place finisher and that he's not necessarily going to go on to the next level. So it really is about aligning themselves with the two big players here, the ones that have the most money, the most operational support on the ground, and clearly the most momentum.

COLLINS: Boy, it certainly is an interesting one. All right Suzanne Malveaux live from Charleston, South Carolina. Suzanne, thank you. HARRIS: One year after President Bush announced a troop surge in Iraq, a similar build-up seems to be on the table for Afghanistan. Senior U.S. military officials tell CNN 3,000 more marines could be headed there. Their mission, beef up U.S. combat strength before an expected spring offensive by the Taliban. The marines would serve a seven-month tour.

Right now, there are about 26,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A new terrorist attack in Pakistan. Dozens dead and wounded in a suicide bombing. Let's get straight to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Lahore, Pakistan.

Frederik, good to see you. Tell us what happened in Lahore today.


You're absolutely right, it was a devastating attack here in Lahore, Pakistan. More than 20 people were killed. Most of them are police officers. And as you said, this was a suicide bombing. And police have now cordoned off the area where that attack happened. I was able to get behind that cordon though and there still is a lot of debris laying around there, a lot of blood. Also bearings which apparently the suicide bomber had packed inside his vest.

Now the way this happened, police are telling us, they say that there was going to be a political rally here by lawyers who are protesting against the government. Before that rally started, the police had begun to gather here. As the police were gathering the suicide bomber walked up to the officers, the barricades that the officers had set up and blew himself up. The local police chief here tells me, he says this is a big blow to his police force but he says he's confident that he will find those who are behind this -- Tony?

HARRIS: Frederik, at this point any group claiming responsibility for this suicide bombing attack?

PLEITGEN: No, there's no group claiming responsibility yet. Certainly the police hear say they are not willing to speculate. But one thing that the government has been telling us over and over again, the Pakistani central government, is that they are in a big battle against Islamic extremism by al Qaeda, by the Taliban in this country. Not only in the northwestern tribal areas of Pakistan but certainly all around the country.

As you remember only about two weeks ago Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in this country. The government blaming that on extremists as well. So certainly this is still an ongoing investigation right here just at the beginning right now, forensic teams have just showed up here at the scene of the crime. That's one thing that police are speculating on -- Tony?

HARRIS: Absolutely. All right, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen for us in Lahore, Pakistan. Frederik, appreciate it, thank you.

COLLINS: Florida pile-up, one day after the big crash drivers still wait for the all clear on Interstate 4. We'll take you there live for an update.


HARRIS: Welcome back everyone to the CNN NEWSROOM. Did I mention good morning? I'm Tony Harris.

A new jet promises Internet access, but will that give hackers a dangerous opening?



HARRIS: You know, let's talk about that stretch of interstate 4. It's still closed this morning, a day after that catastrophic pile-up in central Florida. The pictures we brought you right here in the NEWSROOM. There he is. CNN's John Zarrella has the latest on the smoke and fog. A better picture I see behind you right now John. It looks like the conditions at least for now have improved.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, no question about it, Tony. Certainly a few hours ago it was horrendous here. You literally could not see your hand in front of your face. There were points when we were driving in here in the very early morning hours where we didn't know for sure that we would make it here to the command center at Polk City. Now you can see behind me we can finally see the sign interstate 4 which was not visible earlier this morning.

Below the overpass there is interstate 4. That is still closed down this morning. Authorities are telling us that they do not know at this point how long it's going to be closed down. You can see in the distance, that's interstate 4 to the east there. It's all clear out there. But it remains shut down. I took a walk over to the overpass to see what you could see, really not much from this vantage point. The actual scene of the accident is still quite a bit further east.

But again, all shut down. And authorities are saying, if these same weather conditions come back again tomorrow morning, even if they do get the highway open sometime later today that they're going to err on the side of caution and they will, in fact, shut the road down again tomorrow morning if they have the heavy fog and smoke -- Tony?

HARRIS: John, it was more than just the weather conditions that led and played a major role in that horrible crash as we take a look at those pictures. It's also the aspect of this controlled burn. Go ahead. Then I'll follow-up.

ZARRELLA: No, I was going to say it was a controlled burn that actually got out of control. When you mix, as Jacqui Jeras has been saying this morning, that smoke with the fog, it just intensifies the situation. You had a wall of smoke and fog that motorists literally just drove into, which we drove into again this morning. And the question now is, you know, who authorized that burn. A lot of local officials here are none too pleased about what happened. Who authorized that local burn which was literally within 100 yards of the interstate and then got out of control?

HARRIS: John, that's it. That's exactly the point I was driving to. All right, John Zarrella for us this morning. John appreciate it. Thank you.

ZARRELLA: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Take a look at your credit card and hold on to your wallet. Interest rates could soon shoot through the roof. We're going tell you all about it and what you can do in just a moment.


HARRIS: I know these numbers already but I just like asking Tom back in the control room because it makes me feel like we're interacting and talking to one another and communicating in the NEWSROOM. The Dow as you can see, another big board check, is down, oh, five points, which is a rebound from where we were out of the gates.

OK, let me pipe down here a little bit. So getting better, getting better. Plus two, OK, no. All right, and the NASDAQ I think is down just a couple of points at last check. Down nine. So we are going to continue to -- all right, getting better, getting better. It's just an hour or so into the trading day.

COLLINS: Let's stay with it.

HARRIS: I keep saying this and you know this is the best reality television on television right now is to watch the markets over the last six months or so. Susan Lisovicz going to be joining us and Gerri Willis shortly right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: If you own a credit card, lots of us do, listen up. Your interest rate could soon -- I can't say that -- soon shoot past 30 percent, even if your credit is fine. So what can you do about it? CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here to help and help me speak as well.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Yeah, the interest rate could go up. It's not a new trend Heidi. As you know, credit card companies can raise your rate at any time for any reason, no reason, if the economy is bad, if they have too much competition. But some credit card issuers are jacking interest rates up to 30 percent or higher even for people with good credit simply because their payments were late by a day.

Now, if you bounced a check, gone over your credit card limit or missed a payment, default rates could be as high as 32 percent. Remember, the due date is a hard deadline. To protect yourself you need to know when your credit card reports the late payment. In some cases if you're one day past due you can be socked with that high default rate and late fees. In other cases, hey, they pay a whole lot less attention. It takes several cycles before your late payment is noted. Devils in the details, read your credit card agreement. COLLINS: Yeah, read it carefully. Are there any key words or phrases that you can really pull out of there and know that you could be in trouble?

WILLIS: Let's start with the annual percentage yield. It sounds scary. We refer to it as the APR. This is the yearly percentage rate you're charged when there's a balance on your card. Now this rate is applied each month when an outstanding balance is present. It's on your statement, you can see it right there.

Now since the Fed has been on an interest rate cutting mode, interest rates on variable interest rate cards are moving down. But hey, listen to this Heidi, don't be surprised if some credit cards put a floor, a floor on how low their interest rates can go. Look at the phrase no lower than when it comes to your APR in your credit card document.

COLLINS: Oh, that sounds very unfair.

WILLIS: Just when you think you had something good coming along they take it away, right?

COLLINS: Yeah. Well what can you do if your interest rate was increased? Do you have any retaliation in all of this?

WILLIS: Look. You know, call the credit card company. Pick up the phone. Ask if you can get your rate changed back to the original rate. If you've been a good customer it can work. It does work. I've done it. If you're denied, make sure to ask if you would be able to get your original rate back if you make on-time payments for six months. You can also ask the credit card company to freeze that rate, the original rate below the 30 percent default rate while you pay off the balance.

Now some card operators will let you do that, but typically you won't be able to use that card for any more purchases in the meantime. Now, devils in the details. If you're in the market for a new car check out what other people are saying about it. Here's where to do the research, two Web sites, and

COLLINS: All right, some good sounding Web sites any way. All right, so I know we have "OPEN HOUSE" coming up this weekend. What are you going to be talking about?

WILLIS: That's right, 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning right here on CNN. We'll be talking about cutting your drug bills in half. We're going to have Dr. Sanjay Gupta with us, very excited about that interview. When and how you should talk to your children about finances?

Heidi, I know that's important to you, you're a mom.

COLLINS: He's taking all the money.

WILLIS: They're taking all the money. We'll show you how to keep some for yourself. COLLINS: Yeah, I like that.

All right CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis. Gerri, nice to see you.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

HARRIS: U.S. warships seconds away from opening fire. Now Iran releases its videotape of the encounter. See it, hear it for yourself, coming up in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Meanwhile, caught with booze, a mom gets flack for selling her son's car.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He only drove it three weeks before snoopy mom, who needs to get a life, found booze under the front seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that was a very motherly way to handle this.


COLLINS: Really? Meanest mom on the planet, or the best?


COLLINS: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

More on this incredible story we've been following for you in the NEWSROOM out of Detroit. A gasoline tanker flipped over a guardrail on Interstate 75 plunging about 20 feet, exploding and setting a store below on fire. Michigan State police confirm the driver of the truck was killed, and no word on any other injuries or casualties.

I-75 is shutdown, as you would expect, in both directions, in that area. We're talking about southwest Detroit. We will keep you posted on this story and bring you the latest developments.

COLLINS: Another surge, a different war. Thousands of Marines may be heading to Afghanistan.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned that the request by NATO's American commander in Afghanistan is to send a U.S. Marine air-ground task force to re-enforce the British-led sector in the south where the heaviest fighting has been going on. The surge of some 3,000 additional forces would boost U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to their highest point since the 2001 invasion, 30,000 up from 27 right now.

The problem is NATO has failed to provide almost 8,000 additional promised troops. And U.S. and NATO commanders want to be ready by March when the Taliban and al Qaeda launch their annual spring offensive.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not yet approved the dispatch of additional U.S. troops to fill the gaps, something he said as recently as last month he wasn't inclined to do.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECY.: My own view is, I am not ready to let NATO off the hook in Afghanistan at this point.

MCINTYRE: But Gates and his commanders are becoming resigned to the fact that many NATO nations just don't have the stomach to send more forces into what has become a deadly war zone, and that holding back American troops could risk failure.

Aides to Gates says he has not made up his mind, but will give the request a hard look before deciding sometime next week whether to dispatch American re-enforcements.

(on camera): The deployment of 3,000 marines, if approved, would be temporary, says the Pentagon, seven months on the ground to ensure there are enough troops during the crucial spring and summer months. But already the U.S. has been forced to extend some temporary deployments because other NATO nations haven't delivered on their promises.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COLLINS: What happened between U.S. warships and Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf? Well, there's new video today. This is the video you've already seen. It was shot by United States Navy. It shows Iranian speed boats darting near the American vessel. A radio transmission warns the ship will explode. The Navy said it was seconds away from opening fire. Now Iran's State TV has released its own version of the encounter.


IRGC CRAFT: Coalition warship 73. This is Iranian navy patrol boat. How do you copy, over?

U.S. NAVY SHIP: This is coalition warship 73. I read you loud and clear, over.

IRGC CRAFT: Coalition warship 73. This is Iranian navy patrol boat requesting side number, present course and speed.


COLLINS: Iran's video does not show any confrontation, as you can see. It includes seemingly routine communication. The U.S. says the tape was edited to take out the threat. The incident has ratcheted up U.S./Iranian tensions. President Bush is warning Iran of, quote, "serious consequences" if it menaces U.S. ships again.


COLLINS: OK, Jacqui, very good. Just let us know. We'll come back to you straight away. Thank you.

HARRIS: Lost opportunity? New details about the search for a missing hiker now. The "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reports Meredith Emerson was presumably held captive in a suspect's van while he was inside a restaurant. A waitress tells the newspaper Gary Michael Hilton was agitated, used the restaurant's phone and then left. Just a few hours later, investigators showed up with photos of Hilton asking if he'd been there.

While Hilton is jailed in Georgia on a murder charge, Florida authorities have named him the prime suspect in the killing of Cheryl Dunlap. Dunlap's body was found last month in a national forest near Tallahassee. North Carolina investigators are also looking for a possible link between Hilton and the killing of an elderly couple.

COLLINS: Busted by photos on Facebook. Now, some Minnesota high school students plan a walkout today to protest. School officials say at least 13 students at Eden Prairie High School face disciplinary action over the pictures. They allegedly show students partying with alcohol.

The principal says students should remember that sites like Facebook are not private places. In a statement he says, "We do not go looking out at student social networking sites. However, we do take action when we are given legitimate information about school or Minnesota State High School League violations."

HARRIS: You know, rules are rules. An 82-year-old passenger is bounced from a flight when he arrives with his oxygen machine but without its paperwork. Christina Wofford of affiliate KPHO has more.


VOICE OF BILL SULLIVAN, PASSENGER: I was never so rattled and upset and embarrassed in my life.

CHRISTINA WOFFORD, KPHO REPORTER (voice-over): A telling statement from an 82-year-old who fought in World War II and the Korean War. But Bill Sullivan says what happened on an U.S. Airways flight will keep him grounded for good.

SULLIVAN: I boarded the plane and this fellow stopped me and asked me if I had a doctor's permit that says I needed oxygen to take off and to land. And I said, no, I didn't. So he looked at me for a while and he said, go ahead and have a seat.

WOFFORD: But a few minutes later, he was asked to leave. U.S. Airways says that was the pilot's choice. MORGAN DURRANT, U.S. AIRWAYS: The decision was made by the captain operating his flight to Sacramento to deny him boarding, which of course we always regret, but that is the captain's discretion.

WOFFORD: At issue, this form meant to be signed by a doctor. Bill didn't have it, know that he needed it, and wasn't asked for it on his U.S. Airways flight to Phoenix.

DURRANT: The rules are the rules and the policy is the policy. We need to follow it. In this case, we didn't follow the policy for one half of this trip and shame on us.

WOFFORD: Bill's doctor was contacted and Bill was put on the next flight home, four hours later. Now, he's just looking for someone to make the situation right.

SULLIVAN: I'd like a good apology from you and she had nothing else to say. Last offer, 500 air miles, customer service. I don't think I'll ever fly again, to tell you the truth.


HARRIS: OK, now, U.S. Airways says the offer was a $500 travel voucher, not 500 frequent flyer miles.

COLLINS: Booze under the seat, teen's car for sale. Why a self- acclaimed "mean mom" took that action.


COLLINS: ...President Bush from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Let's listen in for a moment.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...President Olmert and President Abbas that progress needs to be made on four parallel tracks. First, both sides need to fulfill their commitments under the road map. Second, the Palestinians need to build their economy and their political insecurity institutions. And to do that, they need the help of Israel, the region, and the international community. Third, I reiterate my appreciation for the Arab League Peace Initiative and I call upon the Arab countries to reach out to Israel, a step that is long overdue.

In addition to these three tracks, both sides are getting down to the business of negotiating. I called upon both leaders to make sure their teams negotiate seriously, starting right now. I strongly supported the decision of the two leaders to continue their regular summit meetings because they are the ones who can and must and I am convinced will lead.

I share with these two leaders the vision of two Democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve it.

The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize this vision seems clear. There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.

It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other's fundamental objectives as key to a successful agreement. Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual interests of both parties. Achieving an agreement will require painful, political concessions by both sides. While territory's an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949, to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous.

I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation to resolve the refugee issue. I reaffirmed to each leader that implementation of any agreement is subject to implementation of the road map. Neither party should undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudices the final status negotiations.

On the Israeli side, that includes any settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the Palestinian side, that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorists' infrastructure.

I know Jerusalem's a tough issue. Both sides have deeply felt political and religious concerns. I fully understand that finding a solution to this issue will be one of the most difficult challenges on the road to peace, but that is the road we have chosen to walk.

Security is fundamental. No agreement and no Palestinian state will be born of terror. I have reaffirmed America's steadfast commitment to Israel's security. The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it. And it will enhance the stability of your region and it will contribute to the security of the people of Israel.

A peace agreement should happen and can happen by the end of this year. I know each leader shares that important goal and I am committed to doing all I can to achieve it. Thank you.


COLLINS: President Bush there making comments at the King David hotel in Jerusalem after several meetings with both Israelis and Palestinians on the Mideast peace process. CNN's Ed Henry is traveling with the president. He joins us now with more on this statement and other statements that have been made. Unfortunately, looks like we lost Ed for the time being. But, a couple of the things that the president said. Obviously, this has been said before, but there will be much more discussion over the next eight days when the president is in the Middle East saying that painful political concessions on both sides will need to take place before there is any peace agreement reached. Ed Henry, I believe, is back with us now.

So Ed, the big question is, the president has mentioned that he expects there will be a Middle East peace deal by the end of his presidency.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And to be clear, there is no peace deal yet. But the bottom line, the reason why this is major news is you now have a U.S. president really trying to prod both sides to make what he called painful political concessions, to make difficult choices, and putting, basically, a deadline on it. Saying he thinks this can be done, wants it to be done by the end of this year.

And also, very, very important that President Bush got down to some very tough specifics. Saying he believes there needs to be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. That is basically the president calling for the end of the occupation of Arab land by the Israeli military. But he also, though, says that Israel must have recognizable borders, that Israel must have security, that Palestinians have to renounce terror.

But important to note he also said that the Palestinians need to have a state with contiguous borders. That's significant because that suggests linking the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and also raises questions about whether the goal on heights would go back to Syria.

A lot of other dominoes have to fall here. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders still have to make these concessions, still have to get down to the table and do that tough negotiating work. But the bottom line is you now have a U.S. president who is really trying to prod both sides and saying the time is now, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Ed Henry traveling with the president for us. Ed, we will be watching this one very closely. Thank you.

HARRIS: And very quickly now, we want to take you to Washington, D.C. where we are getting an update on the situation there in Washington, D.C. from D.C. mayor, Adrian Fenty. The story that surfaced yesterday of four young girls found dead in a town home there.

Let's listen in.


ADRIAN FENTY, MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: ...we will do so in that case as well. I think that essentially covers the overall picture of what we know differently from yesterday. However, the agency officials will speak, we'll hear first from Cathy Lanier here, our chief of police, on the investigation and then we'll hear from the United States attorney, Jeff Taylor, about the charges and how they will go forward and then we'll hear from our chief medical examiner, Marie Pierre-Louis about her investigative work and what they will do to continue that work -- Chief Lanier?

CATHY LANIER, CHIEF OF POLICE, WASHINGTON D.C.: To begin with, I would like to reiterate that my -- the members of the Metropolitan Police Department, the entire department, offer our condolences to family members. And I will say that this is a case that is very troubling for every member of the Metropolitan Police Department because of the age of the children involved.

I have to commend the detectives and the officers and the crime scene technicians who, for the past 24 hours, have worked diligently to do everything they can to bring this case to a closure and, again, it has been a very disturbing case for all the police officers involved and I just want to commend them for their great work and the assistance of the medical examiner and the United States attorney's office in helping us get through this to the point where we are today.

As the mayor said and Mr. Taylor will talk about, there are going to be charges placed against Benita Jacks (ph) today for felony murder in the case of the four bodies that were found yesterday. Even though we don't have 100 percent confirmation on the identities of the bodies that we found, we are working on the assumption that these are her four children ranging in age of 5-years-old, 6-years-old, 11-years-old and 17-years-old.

There has been some progress made through the hard work of the medical examiner's office that they will talk about, a little bit about what are the possibilities of causes of death, but again, there's still more work that has to be done, and I would urge that everyone try and be as patient as possible for us to get those findings as clearly as possible through the forensic evidence that will be gleaned over the next several days.

Again, I want to stress to the community, we were in the community for several hours yesterday and we had a lot of assistance from those in the neighborhood who worked with us to get information. And there's a lot more information that we need to get. I'm still urging anyone who may have additional information that they think is relevant to the police for this investigation, to please contact us on 202-727-9099. We can never have too much information. So if you think it may be relevant, please call us ...

HARRIS: I think we've got the key bit of news here from the chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, Cathy Lanier, indicating that this story that surfaced yesterday of these four young bodies, the bodies of four young girls found in this townhouse and now the information from the chief, and from the coroner's office, that police believe they are investigating a case where a mom has been responsible, is responsible for the killings of her four daughters. It's a story that we will continue to follow here in the CNN NEWSROOM for you throughout the day. COLLINS: Presidential endorsement, the Democrats ticker topper in 2004 backing a candidate for 2008. Who is John Kerry's choice? We'll hear it live in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN, you're informed.

I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments do keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Thursday, the 10th of January. Here's what's on the run down now. The Democrats standard bearer (ph) for 2004, backing a candidate for 2008. And, it's not his ex-running mate, John Edwards.