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Obama Offers Denver Crowd Ideas to Improve Education; McCain Challenges Obama to Fact-Finding Trip to Iraq; Clinton Stumps in South Dakota; African-American Women Warned About Triple Negative Cancer
Aired May 28, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It begins with the understanding that from the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is not the color of their skin, or where they come from, it's not who their parents are or how much money they have. Once they step into the school, the most important issue is who their teacher is. If the person --
OBAMA: It's the person who stays past the last bell, and spends their own money on books and supplies. It's the men and women here at Mesa who go beyond the call of duty because you believe that it's going to make that extra difference. And it does. And if we know how much teaching matters, then it's time we treated teaching like the profession that it is.
I don't want to just talk about how great teachers are, I want to reward them for their greatness when I am president of the United States of America.
OBAMA: That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals to replace the generation that's retiring, and those who are leaving.
Right here in Colorado, more than 6,000 teachers won't be returning to the schools where they taught last year. And that's why as president, I'll create a new service scholarship program to recruit top talent into the profession, and begin by placing these new teachers in overcrowded districts and struggling rural towns, or hard to staff subjects like science and math in schools all across the nation. I will make this pledge -- as president -- I will make this pledge to all who sign up.
If you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education. That is a bargain we can strike with the next generation of new teachers.
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OBAMA: To prepare our teachers, I will create more teacher residency programs to train 30,000 high-quality teachers a year. We know these programs work and they especially help attract talented individuals who decide to become teachers midway through their careers.
Right here in Mesa, you have excellent teachers, who -- in fact we have a gentleman -- this sounds like a Nigerian name, so I may screw it up. Ekay Obiqua (ph)?
Did I say it properly?
He became a math teacher after working as an auto engineer at Ford and completing a one-year teacher residency program. That's the kind of innovation we need to attract these wonderful, potential teachers. And to support our teachers we will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced, successful teachers with new recruits; one of the most effective ways of retaining new teachers.
We also will make sure that teachers work in conditions which help them and our children succeed. For example, here at Mesa, teachers have scheduled common planning time, each week, and an extra hour every Tuesday and Thursday for mentoring and tutoring students that need additional help.
And when our teachers do succeed in making a real difference in our children's lives, I believe that it's time we rewarded them for doing it. I realize the teachers in Denver are in the middle of tough negotiations right now. But what they've already proven is that it's possible to find new ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers and not to teachers. And that is the basic principle that we have to embrace if we're going to be able to think about compensation.
So, my plan would provide resources to try innovative programs in school districts all across America. Under my Career Ladders Initiatives, these districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as mentors to new teachers, with the salary increases they deserve. They can reward those who teach in underserved areas, or teachers who take on added responsibilities, like you do right here in Mesa.
If teachers acquire additional knowledge and skills to serve students better, if they consistently excel in the classroom, that's work that can be valued and rewarded as well. And when our children do succeed, when we have a graduating class like this one, where every single student has been accepted to college, we need to make sure that every single student can afford to go.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening in to Senator Barack Obama, there, speaking at a school. Mesa is the name of that school there in Thornton, Colorado. Talking about education and his plans for education with a backdrop of children.
On the right side of your screen now, we will transition to Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee-to-be, who is also holding a town hall of his own, this one happening in Reno, Nevada.
Let's listen to him.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... With your help, with your help, we will safely win the state of Nevada and we will become the next president of the United States next January, and I'm grateful for it.
Now, the best thing, I think, about these gatherings is not you listening to me. The important thing is for me to hear your questions and your comments. I'd like to hear from you. That's what a town hall meeting is supposed to be about. That's why my opening comments were going to be brief, except to just say that I notice in this group here, who are here today of wonderful people, there also some especially wonderful people, and I can tell by their hats.
And I just would like to honor and ask our veterans who are here today to stand so I can thank them for their service to our country.
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MCCAIN: And I'm grateful. I thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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MCCAIN: I'm honored to be in your company. And those that I know best and love most are those who I had the honor of serving with long ago and far away. The great honor of my life was to have the opportunity in Hanoi to observe 1,000 acts of courage and compassion and love. And I will never forget the wonderful friendships that were forged there, which have remained with me the rest of my life.
And I want to assure every veteran here in Nevada and across this nation that I will take care of the veterans of this nation. I will give them the health care that they need and deserve, and I know how to do that. And I know how to do that. I will care for our veterans. We will give them what they need.
And I understand. I understand. I understand how tough it is. And I understand that if we expect future generations of Americans to serve and sacrifice, we must do as George Washington admonished us back in 1789, that we must care for those who have already served and sacrificed. And that's what I will do. I promise.
Now, I just want to talk to you about two issues, then I'd like to respond to any questions or comments you have. And thank you again for taking your time today to be here and be a part of the essence of what I think is democracy in America, and that's a town hall meeting.
First I want to talk to you about spending. My friends, you need a little straight talk to state the obvious. We Republicans lost the 2006 election because our base became dispirited. I'm happy to tell you our base is united now. But there's still not energized. Our base became de-energized and dispirited because we as Republicans allowed spending to get completely out of control. And I'm going to fix that. And we're going to stop the out-of-control spending. Now, I'm not going to spend $3 million to figure out the DNA of bears in Montana, which we did a couple of years ago. By the way I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue.
My friends, our beloved Ronald Reagan used to say, "Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, only I never knew a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination of Congress." That a pretty good line and that goes over pretty well. I use it so often that a long time ago I received an e-mail from a guy. And it said, I resent as a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress. I can't blame him.
But my friends, one of the differences between me and Senator Obama is that he wants to continue this spending spree. He wants to continue this waste of your tax dollars on unnecessary, unwanted pork- barrel projects. And my friends, it goes on. And let me tell you, you've got to make tough decisions. I heard a story that President Eisenhower, when he met with President Kennedy when he was incoming, he said the toughest part of your job is the easy decisions are made before you. The tough decisions are the ones that reach your desk.
And my friends, just recently we passed a farm bill. Now, it's hard to be against a farm bill. Who could be against farmers? OK? Let me tell you some of the stuff that was in it. Some of the stuff that's remarkable: $20 million goes to the collection and storage of seeds for research purposes; $75 million for a crop research facility; $35 million to promote the production of hard white wheat.
Please, everybody, who wants to spend $35 million of your tax dollars, raise your hand, if you want to spend $35 million to promote the production of hard white wheat. $300 billion spending bill, my friends; $93 million in special tax treatment for race horses; $93 million of your money, of your money.
And 200 -- $15 million for asparagus growers. I will not make any comments about asparagus. OK? But do they need $15 million of your tax dollars? Senator Obama supported that bill. I voted against it time after time, and I am against it. And I would veto a bill such as this that came across my desk.
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MCCAIN: Now, the other day -- the other day we passed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill supposedly to fund the war in Iraq. An emergency -- titled, an emergency -- now, why do they call it an emergency? Because then it doesn't count in the budgetary calculations of the massive deficit that we are accruing and mortgaging these wonderful young children's futures. We are mortgaging it.
And so in this supplemental appropriations bill -- this emergency bill, my friends, it was supposed to be to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- we have 10,000 -- $10 million for the administration for educational and cultural exchange programs; $75 million for expenses related to economic impacts associated with commercial fishery failures. The list goes on and on and on. And it's supposedly an emergency.
So what is the -- what is the majority leader of the United States Senate, Harry Reid, and others, do? They use this as an opportunity to -- to put pork-barrel projects in unneeded and wasteful spending. My friends, the president is going to veto this bill. Unfortunately, as he vetoed the farm bill. And unfortunately, we have Republicans who vote to override the president's veto. My friends, Republicans have got to stop joining with big-spending Democrats. That's the lesson we're going to have. Republicans have got to stop it. And we've got to reenergize our party.
So I've got an old pen that Ronald Reagan gave me years ago that I'm honored to have, and I want to tell you that every time there's a -- one of those pork-barrel spending bills that comes across my desk, I will veto it, and I will make them famous, you will know their names. I will make them famous, and you will know their names. And we will stop it. And we will be careful stewards of your tax dollars.
Now I need to talk to you for just a few minutes about the war in Iraq and the latest controversy, and differences that Senator Obama and I have on this issue.
I think you know. I think you all know that this war has been long and hard and tough. And it's meant enormous sacrifice on the part of Americans in blood and treasure. Over 4,000 brave young Americans have been sacrificed. And let's face it. This war was very badly mishandled for nearly four years. It's just a fact.
But thank God we have a new general and a new strategy, and we are succeeding, and we are winning in Iraq. We are winning. Thanks to the service and sacrifice of these brave young Americans. Who also know -- who also know that we are winning there. You can ask them. Now, I've been back to Iraq on many occasions. I've been back because I think it's important that if you're involved in a major decision making, the most vital decision that any president of the United States can make -- or frankly any elected official -- has got to be about the security of this nation and the lives of young Americans who are serving.
That's important. That's very important. The security of this nation and its future security against the threats and the challenge of radical Islamic extremism is transcendent. It's always transcendent to every president throughout our nation's history. And so Senator Obama and I have a strong disagreement on this issue. And Senator Obama has been to Iraq once. A little over two years ago he went and he has never seized the opportunity, except in a hearing to meet with General Petraeus -- with General Petraeus.
My friends, this is about -- this is about leadership and learning. I went to Iraq right after the initial success of the invasion, and sergeants came up to me and captains and majors and others came up to me. And they said, Senator McCain, we're going to lose this way. We've got to have more troops over here. We've got to have a new strategy. And I went back and fought for the new strategy. And it took too long. But why did I do that? Because I learned; I learned from the men and women who are serving in the military. I learned.
Senator Obama is the chairman of an important subcommittee that has the oversight of what's going on in Afghanistan. He has not held one single hearing on Afghanistan where young Americans are in harm's way as we speak. My friends, this is about leadership. This is about what America is about, but it's also about the qualities of a president of the United States. Now, I asked Senator Obama to go to Iraq. I asked him to go back. And I asked him to meet with General Petraeus and our great ambassador there, Ambassador Crocker. And I said I would go with him if necessary. I'd be glad to go with him.
Because these issues are far more important than any election; the security of this nation is far more important than any political campaign. And you know it's not often that I read the statements issued by my opponents. But let me tell you what his -- his campaign and he has said. In response to this proposal to accompany him to Iraq so he could meet General Petraeus, and he could meet Ambassador Crocker, and he could see. He could see the fact that Sadr City is quiet. He could see with the Al Maliki government is taking control of Basra. He could see that the Iraqi military is leading the fight in these places with the support of American troops.
MCCAIN: And to say -- and to say that we failed in Iraq and that we're not succeeding does not comport with the facts on the ground. So we've got to show him the facts on the ground.
Let me tell you what his campaign said, about my proposal: "John McCain's proposal is nothing more than a political stunt. And we don't need anymore mission accomplished banners or walks through Baghdad market to know that Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the stated purpose of the surge. The American people don't want anymore false promises of progress. They deserve a real debate about a war that has overstretched our military and cost the U.S. thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, without making the U.S. safer.
My friends, that is a profound misunderstanding, a profound misunderstanding of what's happened at Iraq and what's at stake in Iraq. Because if we set a date for withdrawal, which Senator Obama wants to do, there will be chaos. There will be genocide. There will be increased Iranian influence there, and we will have to go back with further sacrifice of American blood and treasure. I will never let that happen as president of the United States. I will never surrender in Iraq. I will not let that happen.
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MCCAIN: And let me point out one other aspect of this to you. Senator Obama has said, as you know, that he wants to sit down without any preconditions with the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad. He has said that he wants to sit down with a leader of a country that a few days ago called Israel a, "stinking corpse". He wants to sit down with a leader of a country that is -- as recent news reports indicate clearly, are moving towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons, which could destabilize the entire region, obviously, not to mention the direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel.
More importantly perhaps, to many families, and to you and to me, this is the leader of a country that is sending the most explosive devices, the most lethal explosive devices into Iraq and killing young Americans. Now, why is it that Senator Obama wants to sit down with the president of Iran, but hasn't yet sat down with General Petraeus, the leader of our troops in Iraq?
So I look forward to continuing this debate with Senator Obama and Senator Clinton as well. I look forward to continuing this debate. And I want you to know that my dedication to this nation is one that I'm not going to worry about the political consequences. Maybe over a year ago you might remember there was people that declared my campaign, "dead", as you might recall. In fact, I was reminded of the words of Chairman Mao who said, "It's always darkest before it's totally black."
But we came back. But we came back. And at the time, as you may recall, there were many people who said, well, Senator McCain, you can't support the war and expect to succeed. At that time, I said the surge was vital. And I also said I would much rather lose a campaign than lose a war. So we are succeeding there. It's long and it's hard, and it's tough. And it remains tough. And it's a dangerous place.
And young Americans are serving with the utmost skill and courage. And frankly, America --
MCCAIN: And frankly, my friends, America has a long way to go. And we've got challenges in Afghanistan. We're facing the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism. Those are challenges that I think my life has prepared me to face.
HOLMES: We've been listening into Senator John McCain there at a town hall in Reno, Nevada, making some comments, certainly a lot about who he -- sounds like -- assumes is going to be his opponent in fall, Senator Barack Obama, taking him on, on the issue of Iraq. A lot of people think that is the national security, Iraq is really the leg that Senator McCain has to stand on and certainly can pounce on Obama about.
But also talking about that issue of possibly taking a road trip, if you will, to Iraq with Senator Obama. Yes, McCain has offered to take him over, saying that Obama hasn't been since 2006, he should go over there, that will show leadership and that he is willing to learn.
We also want to turn now to the person you haven't heard from in the past several minutes, Senator Hillary Clinton. Yes, she's still in the game, people. And right now she is campaigning in South Dakota, ahead of that state's primary, which comes up on next Tuesday, along with Montana voting that day as well.
But video you're looking at video of her here, touring Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Of course, drumming up some support and making a campaign stop there as well. We do expect her to have, next hour, a live event. We hope to dip into that and bring you some live coverage of her and what she has to say at that campaign stop next hour.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: He used to spar with reporters, but now Scott McClellan is attacking the administration and saying the press corps wasn't tough enough. We'll have more from his book and White House reaction.
KEILAR: He spent years at President Bush's side, defending his decisions and explaining his policies. But now former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is blasting the president and his key advisers.
McClellan has written a book about his experiences. In one passage about the lead-up to the war in Iraq, McClellan writes of the president, "He and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security."
Another quote -- or this coming from the current White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, she had this to say about her former co- worker. She said, "Scott, we now know is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully support him before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. The book, as reported by the press, has been described to the president. I do not expect a comment from him on it. He has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers."
Well, McClellan saved some of his toughest criticism for Bush administration's national security team. And CNN contributor Frances Fragos Townsend served as Homeland Security adviser from 2004 until last fall. She joining me now from New York.
Fran, thanks so much for being with us.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NAT'L. SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Brianna, good to be with you.
KEILAR: Let's talk about that on Iraq. So much criticism here. He says the president was terribly ill served by top advisers. What is your response to that?
TOWNSEND: Well, as an adviser to the president, we each had an obligation -- and a responsibility, frankly -- that if we had concerns or issues related to a policy that was being formulated, we had a responsibility to advise him and tell him of that. Not only that, but it was a very close-knit team. Condi Rice, when she was national security adviser, and now Steve Hadley, sought the advice and input of their colleagues. So Scott would have had the opportunity to make his views known, if he felt that strongly.
Secondly, I think we have to understand the role of the press secretary. He doesn't sit in every policy meeting. Not the most sensitive briefings with the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the meetings with the national security adviser and the president. So Scott probably doesn't have all of the facts upon which to draw some of these very --
KEILAR: And Fran, you'd said that before, that he has a limited view because he's not privy to all of this information, but it begs the question, this was at the time the man who stood behind that podium, who was the public face of information to the American public -- and yet he wasn't privy to important information?
TOWNSEND: Well, he would have been briefed on after meetings, but he wouldn't have sat in the discussions where there's the give and take between the president and his closest advisers on the substance of the policy issues being considered. He would have heard the outcomes, would have gotten some of the color that he would have been able to provide to the press.
But he wouldn't have had direct access to those discussions. You understand that some of those very sensitive policy issues, those are very small meetings, so there's the freedom to really articulate your views to the president.
KEILAR: I want to discuss the timing with you in just a moment, but first let's address a certain subject that obviously has really bothered Scott McClellan. This has to do with the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
McClellan clearly feels like the fall guy on this one. Of course, just to refresh our viewers' memory, Valerie Plame, her identity as a CIA operative was leaked to the press. Her ambassador husband at the time very critical of the Bush administration's justification for going to Iraq.
Let's listen to McClellan. This is October 2003, and he's talking to the White House press corps about Karl Rove and Lewis Scooter Libby, about accusations they were involved in that.
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SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made and that's exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They're good individuals. They're important members of our White House team. And that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved.
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KEILAR: Now, that sound bite was played over and over, Fran, because obviously it turned out not to be he true. Karl Rove did talk to the media about Valerie Plame. Libby was convicted for lying about his role, or about what he said to authorities.
Doesn't McClellan have a leg to stand on here, to say that he feels hung out to dry? TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question. I mean, that's the one issue on which it was clear when Scott was leaving that he always had recriminations, regrets about, concerns about. But what do we know from the outcome of the Fitzgerald investigation? Well, it wasn't Karl Rove, nor Scooter Libby, who outed Valerie Plame. That was a senior official in the state department. And so I wasn't privy to the conversation between Scott and Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. But it may in fact be that he asked --
KEILAR: Wait but, Fran, he said they were not involved and the facts now show that indeed they were involved.
TOWNSEND: Well, what the facts have shown is they weren't the ones who outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. That was done by somebody else. And I don't know, I don't think any of us know precisely what the questions were that Scott asked, and why Scott put it in a way that they weren't involved. They weren't the ones who outed them. If that was the question asked, there may have been a misunderstanding between what he asked and what he was told.
KEILAR: Dick Armitage, of course, the original source for the outing of her name. But finally I just want to ask you Fran, you mention the timing of this. Why is he talking now?
It sounds like you're saying he's late to the game, but it sounds also like McClellan is saying, if I would have spoken out then, it wouldn't have mattered.
TOWNSEND: Well, it would have. You know, if there's policy issue that you think violates your personal values or your integrity and ethics, you do have an option. You can voice it and if you lose, you leave. He didn't choose to do that. He took the promotion after Ari Fleischer left.
And by the way, I would remind our viewers that when the Dick Clark's book came out, after the fact, and he had recriminations, Scott stood at the podium and he said, I don't understand why he didn't say something at the time, he's a little late to the game. Frankly Brianna, I'd say the same thing about Scott's book now.
KEILAR: And it will be interesting to hear what he says. We know that we'll be hearing more from him in the coming days.
Fran, thanks so much for being with us.
CNN contributor, Frances Fragos Townsend, appreciate it.
TOWNSEND: Thank you.
HOLMES: And we just heard a moment ago, live from Senator Barack Obama, holding a town hall in Colorado. We heard from Senator McCain.
And now we are going to hear from Senator Clinton who is at a rally in Kyle, South Dakota, ahead of that state's primary coming up on Tuesday. (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... I was proud to host the historic tribal leaders meeting in the White House with my husband. It was a long, overdue recognition of tribal sovereignty and the government to government relationship.
And in the Senate, I was proud also to host the Senate Native American leadership forum, the first and only one of its kind, where we addressed key issues, like trust reform, health care, education, housing, law enforcement, and homeland security. I have worked with many of your leaders across Indian Country. Co-sponsoring the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and fighting for veterans benefits.
So my commitment to Indian Country did not start last month or last year. It started more than a decade ago, about 16 years ago. When I was privileged to travel across Indian Country hearing from so many who did not ask for special help, they just asked what was due them. They asked for justice. And that is what has not yet been delivered. Because we know that the United States has not always honored its obligations to Native Americans. And during the past seven years, the situation has only gotten worse.
We've seen funding cuts and failures to honor tribal sovereignty. President Bush has discontinued the tribal government liaison position within the White House, a position started by my husband. Five of the eight United States attorneys fired by Attorney General Gonzales were leaders in prosecuting violence on Indian lands. I believe it's time for a new president who will renew our commitment to your families and your communities and offer a hand of friendship and partnership and leadership.
So today I'm announcing that when I'm president, I will hold a summit with tribal leaders and members of the community throughout Indian Country, not only to discuss your concerns, but to build on the agenda I'm outlining here in Pine Ridge. The conversation I've been having with so many will continue when I am your president. In short, I'll be back. Indian Country will have a friend in the White House. And I will offer as president, my full support for tribal sovereignty and honor the government-to government relationship between the tribes and the federal government.
I will sign an executive order that commits the United States government to regular and meaningful collaboration with tribal governments. And I will always honor our federal trust responsibility. It is not just a law, it is a fundamental, moral obligation. And I will respect the treaties that are in place.
I will continue what my husband started by appointing American Indians to key positions throughout the federal government. Restoring the senior position in the White House, and working to appoint American Indian judges and others who truly understand tribal sovereignty and the needs of Indian Country communities. And I will elevate the head of the Indian Health Services to the assistant secretary level. Indian country will have a seat at the table in my White House. (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: But that's just the beginning. You put your families first, and you deserve a president who will do the same. I believe in strong families. Strong families are the core of any society. And that strength comes from respecting family relationships and having leadership that honors your families. There is much work to be done to remedy the injustices that have plagued Indian Country for too long.
As you know, I care deeply about health care. I think health care is a moral right, it is not a privilege. Every single American, particularly our first Americans, deserve quality, affordable health care. And I have offered a plan that would provide it at an affordable cost to everyone.
CLINTON: I will support increasing funding for the Indian Health Services. I will make a very concerted effort to work to address the startling climb in diabetes and work with the tribal leaders diabetes committee. The life expectancy in Indian Country is five years less than it is in the rest of the United States. It's because of diabetes, high blood pressure, other chronic conditions. And because of situations that need more attention. I believe that the only way to do this is to provide universal health care for every American. That's why I have proposed it.
I am the only candidate proposing universal health care. Why is this important? Because if you have health insurance, you're paying a hidden tax to take care of people who don't. Go home and look at your health insurance policy, if you have it. Whatever you're paying, most people don't have it. But if you have it, look at it. Because whatever you're paying, you're paying at least a $900 hidden tax to take care of people who don't have insurance, but who show up in our emergency rooms and thankfully are taken care of.
But if you have no insurance, or if you have insurance that doesn't cover what you need, it's outrageous that insurance policies can eliminate coverage for diabetes, for heart disease, for high blood pressure, for other conditions. It should be illegal for health insurance companies to discriminate against sick people. And therefore, when I am president, I will change the way insurance companies do business.
CLINTON: I have a very simple proposal. For those of you who don't have health insurance or don't like the insurance you have, we're going to open up the plan that members of Congress have. Because you pay for it with your tax dollars. You pay 75 percent of the cost of health insurance for members of Congress and federal employees. And what we're going to do is to say, if it's good enough for Congress, it's good enough for everybody in Indian Country, every farmer, every rancher, every citizen of South Dakota. And we're going to provide health care tax credits and limit the amount that you'll ever have to pay for a premium. People ask me, how can you afford to do that? Because right now we waste so much money because we don't take care of people. If you don't get health insurance and preventive care for your diabetes, and your foot gets infected, and you have to have it amputated, that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we paid $50 every couple of months to have your foot examined, we would save money.
I get so passionate about this, because if we do not have universal health care, we will never save money, improve quality and cover everyone. When I am president, that will be my highest domestic priority, because we cannot continue to waste money and allow insurance companies to determine who lives, who dies, who pays, and who can't have access to life-saving treatment.
I also know that we've got to get the economy moving again. And it's not only in Indian Country, it's across America. We're not creating new jobs. The average family income has stagnated, or fallen. During the 1990s, we were making progress across America, including in Indian Country. I was very proud that under my husband's leadership, more than 22 million new jobs were created. More people were lifted out of poverty than at any time in our recent history.
We were on the right track in America. The typical family's income rose. We ended the decade with a balanced budget and a surplus. So not only did the economy do well, but we did it in a fiscally responsible manner.
All of that has been reversed.
Sometimes I hear people in this campaign criticizing the 1990s. That's fair. In a campaign, you can criticize anything. I should know. But I've never been able to figure out what exactly are they criticizing. The peace or the prosperity? Because I thought America was moving forward with confidence and positive results. So we've got to get back to doing what works.
Unfortunately, President Bush has taken our country, and particularly Indian Country backwards. I have a comprehensive economic policy that will cover the entire country.
But let me speak specifically about Indian Country. I'll start by investing $2.5 billion per year to strengthen workforce development efforts, Iva (ph), so that you and the people you work with will have more resources. I'll increase the minimum wage. We fought for ten years to increase the minimum wage. It's already falling behind with the price of gas and the price of groceries. It should be $9.50 by 2011.
I will restore the program that my husband came to Pine Ridge and announced, namely, the new market tax credit. Which was beginning to have a positive effect, not only in Indian Country, but in other distressed communities in rural and urban areas throughout America. And I will expand empowerment zone programs to more of Indian Country. But I don't want just to talk about what the government will do with you; I want to talk about what we can do together. For you and by you. Government of the people, by the people and for the people is what we should be seeking. There is tremendous economic opportunity with clean, renewable energy in Indian Country.
If you look at a map of the United States, from the Dakotas all the way across our country to west Texas, do you know what that's called? The Saudi Arabia of wind. There is enough wind power in the Dakotas, down to west Texas to power much of the electricity our nation needs. We are not developing it. We haven't had the commitment that we should. It takes a president to make that happen.
I know this won't happen until we get the two oil men out of the White House. But as soon as they're gone, as a president, I will work with you to chart a new energy future.
HOLMES: All right. We've been listening in to Senator Hillary Clinton. You hear her there taking a couple of swipes, I guess, at President Bush. She hasn't mentioned her still Democratic opponent Senator Barack Obama too much lately. But yes, Hillary Clinton is still in it, as she claims she's in it to win it.
Just a couple more primaries to go. We're going to be seeing -- she's in South Dakota there. They vote next Tuesday, along with Montana, but -- the campaign event she is holding right there. And again, just three primaries, 86 delegates, still on the table out there.
The battle over the votes from Florida and Michigan, that's actually heating up. Yes, we're not done with Florida and Michigan yet. You can stay with CNN as members of the Democratic Rules Committee meet this weekend to consider the status of the delegates in those two states. Live coverage of that begins at 9:00 Eastern -- 9:00 Saturday morning, right here on CNN, as well as CNN.com.
KEILAR: An aggressive type of breast cancer, especially deadly for African-American women. We will be hearing from the experts.
HOLMES: Also, the flames were racing through the Santa Cruz mountains and straight for their house.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. Dad? Not good. Fire it up. Go forward. We don't want to trap our family.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HOLMES: One family gets out in the nick of time. Kenny Rich standing by to talk about his family's life-saving dash.
HOLMES: A disease that seemingly discriminates. It's called Triple Negative. It's a fast-moving, often drug-resistant type of breast cancer. Any woman can get it, but it's much more common in young African-Americans.
Here now, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, we know invasive breast cancer affects about 180,000 women a year. There's been this sort of one-size fits all therapy. But women are all different. They have specific types of tumors, sometimes more aggressive, sometimes less so than you might expect. So how do you figure that out and which ethnic groups might be most at risk?
Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I didn't want to listen to anything else that was negative or that told me that this is the, you know, the deadliest of all.
GUPTA (voice-over): In 2006, Cheryl Reid (ph) learned she had Triple Negative breast cancer, a rare fast-moving cancer that has experts, like Dr. Funmi Olopade stumped.
DR. FUNMI OLOPADE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: One, we don't know the risk factors for it. Two, we don't know how best to screen for it. And three, we don't know how best to treat it.
GUPTA: Fifteen percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will have the Triple Negative type, which doesn't respond to many of the common breast cancer drugs.
And Dr. Olopade has found another thing victims of the Triple Negative cancer have in common.
OLOPADE: The African-American women also have a rate that's much higher than young white women. We just say if you feel that your ancestry is more African than European, than you can get Triple Negative breast cancer.
GUPTA: Though black women are at lower risk of developing breast cancer overall as compared to white women, nearly 50 percent of black women diagnosed under age 55 are Triple Negative. The five-year survival rate is 15 percent lower compared to other breast cancers.
Researchers think a gene mutation is one risk factor putting black women at higher risk. But right now, research is preliminary, and clinical trials like the one Cheryl Reid is in at Emory University are trying to develop drugs specifically targeting Triple Negative cancer cells.
Despite the grim statistics, Cheryl's doctors say early detection is key.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have your screening mammograms done and you get the cancer picked up at a very small stage, it's going to have a good prognosis.
GUPTA: Which is why Cheryl remains optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It never occurred to me that, I'm going to die from this. It's like, I've got breast cancer.
GUPTA (on camera): As things stand now, chemotherapy is the best hope to try to target and these Triple Negative breast cancers.
What a Triple Negative breast cancer means is that it really doesn't have any of the standard receptors on the tumor cell wall for drugs to attach, so it's very difficult to treat. But a lot of research going on to develop new drugs, those are on the horizon. So a little bit of hope out there.
Back to you for now.
HOLMES: All right. So as you heard there, black women less likely than white women to get breast cancer, but apparently more likely to die of it.
We want to talk more about the disparity here with Dr. Harold Freeman who is with the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention.
Dr. Freeman, thank you for being here, and this is some scary stuff. Don't know the risk factors, don't know how to screen for it, don't know how to treat it.
What do we know about this right now? Can we say that certainly black women -- more at risk for this Triple Negative, but is it directly linked to being black?
DR. HAROLD FREEMAN, CANCER SPECIALIST: I don't think we know the answer to what it's due to, as has already been said. Clearly, the more aggressive breast cancer is seen in many black women.
But I'd like to point out this -- that the main reason that black women don't survive as much as white women is because they're diagnosed late and treated late. The incidents of the Triple Negative is of much smaller factor than the overwhelming factor that people get in too late, when they're black, for cure.
HOLMES: All right. So the -- so we're not ready yet, and I think I read somewhere that not necessarily there's something genetically different or inferior about black women, but necessarily some of this cancer and some of the treatment you talk about after the fact and survivability rates has to do with just some of the conditions that maybe some black women are living in.
FREEMAN: I absolutely believe that the most important driving factor for disparities in breast cancer is socioeconomic factors related to poverty and lack of health insurance. And so when -- we found that black and white women treated the same way at the same stage of disease have the same outcome; so that's a positive point. Why people present later is in part due to aggressive tumors, as have been described here, but mainly due to late diagnosis, due to lack of insurance and poverty.
HOLMES: And as we heard in the piece there, and, of course, you know, some do disagree and believe that it does have something to do with genetics. Is that something we still should be looking at? Again, the doctor there in the piece talked about if you're of African descent -- and you have these sort of certain risk factors.
But is that something that shouldn't be on the table, in your opinion? Should we just stop looking in that direction, or does this have some merit to it?
FREEMAN: Well first of all, all cancer is again genetically based, and we should be looking at genetics. The question though is, what is the meaning of race?
You're classify it as black in America if you have one black ancestor; it's called the one-drop rule. I don't believe that's a scientific determination. So while we should be free to look at biology of cancer, we have to be careful as to what we mean by who is black. It's a deeply discussed subject. Being black in America is a social and political classification and not a biological classification.
HOLMES: All right. This is, again, some scary stuff and a lot more research needs to be done.
But Dr. Freeman, I know this is something you've certainly been keeping an eye on for some time and your research and your work continues at the Ralph Lauren Center for Care -- Cancer Care and Prevention.
But Dr. Freeman, we appreciate your time today.
FREEMAN: Thank you, it's good to be with you.
HOLMES: All right. A lot more -- several stories we are still keeping an eye on here in the NEWSROOM. Take a quick break, we'll be right back with you.
KEILAR: He used to spar with reporters while he spun and sold White House policies. Now Scott McClellan is attacking the administration and saying the press corps wasn't tough enough. We will have more from his book and White House reaction.
But first, Miles O'Brien has today's Solutions Report on a New York suburb trying to go green.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENTAL CORRESPONDENT: Hubie Van Meurs is taking a lot of pressure off the folks in Levittown, New York.
HUBIE VAN MEURS, ALURE ENERGY: With all the other windows and doors closed, we can find out how leaky the house is.
O'BRIEN: He's plugging leaks and insulating attics all over this Long Island town where the sprawling of America began more than 60 years ago. Levittown is the country's first planned suburb.
TOM SUOZZI, NASSAU COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We thought it made history in the 1940s, and we could make history again to be the first suburban community to go green.
O'BRIEN: Nassau County executive, Tom Suozzi, launched the campaign to encourage everyone in Levittown, 17,000 homes, 52,000 people, to do something green. From changing light bulbs to installing a new furnace.
Several local companies have ponied up special deals and financing. Just about every household is taking part.
Levittown homeowner, Tom Lasusa, found the program easy to love.
TOM LASUSA, LEVITTOWN RESIDENT: Whatever little bit will help us and whatever little bit will help the environment.
SUOZZI: We think if you can do it in Levittown, you can do it anywhere.
O'BRIEN: Could be this place is still a trendsetter after all these years.
Miles O'Brien, CNN, Levittown, New York.
KEILAR: When you speak for the president, you keep your opinions to yourself. But when you're no longer White House press secretary, anything goes. Wait till you hear what Scott McClellan is saying about his former boss and colleagues, and what they're saying about him.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad? Not good. Fire it up. Go forward. We don't want to trap our family.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, how fast could you leave your home and possessions if a wildfire was closing in? Would you remember to hit record, as well?
Well, this family apparently got out of the Santa Cruz mountains with their lives. The man behind the wheel will be joining us live this hour.
Can't wait to hear from him. But hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.