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Orphaned by Rising Prices; The Latino Vote; Handgun Ban Overturned; Honoring Mandela: His Grandkids Speak Out

Aired June 28, 2008 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Next in the NEWSROOM, Zimbabwe was already facing empty store self selves and high inflation. Now they may have to make do with even less thanks to an election that the world considers a sham.
Plus, Obama and McCain reach out for a crucial voting block.

An Olympic drama unfolds. A banned athlete is back on track and gets her shot at redemption today.

At this hour, a call to isolate the regime of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe after his one-man runoff election. President Bush is calling today for an arms embargo against Zimbabwe and a travel ban against regime officials, sanctions in all. In a statement issued this morning, Mr. Bush called the regime illegitimate and the runoff election a sham. So, will these sanction work? To answer some of that is CNN's Nkepile Mabuse from Johannesburg, South Africa. So, the question really is, if these sanctions go into place, who is it going to hurt the most?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If it's positive sanctions, like we've seen before, those just make Robert Mugabe more defiant. They have not worked. The violence has continued in Zimbabwe. He's basically going to be sworn in, all indications are, maybe on Sunday. He has gone through with an election that was condemned by the world and even his African peers were trying to get him to postpone this election. So targeted sanctions at Robert Mugabe and his henchmen have not worked in the past and tougher sanctions African leaders will argue that they will hurt the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe.

WHITFIELD: Why wouldn't these African leaders say that now is a time to support sanctions since they are now on board with condemning Mugabe?

MABUSE: Well, they are, but I think African leaders think that there should be some kind of negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe like what happened in South Africa. South African President Thabo Mbeki is currently mediating between Robert Mugabe's party and the opposition, MDC and he wants governments of national unity. He says that is what worked here in South Africa. There was a period in which power was shed and then worked toward a free and fair election in the long run.

WHITFIELD: Nkepile Mabuse, thanks so much from Johannesburg, South Africa.

So U.S. officials say the case against Mugabe could go before the U.N. security council as early as Monday. Let's go to CNN's Ed Henry at the White House. And you heard Nkepile say that in part the sanctions would hurt most the people of Zimbabwe, but what would be the objective of the White House?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you're absolutely right. I mean, the question isn't whether it will work, but the White House has few options. I mean, short of military action, they have been imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe for years. That raises the question about whether a new round would put more pressure on Mugabe but the Bush administration really feels the situation has grown so desperate on the ground that it has to try. There's a new factor. He's weaker after losing support within Africa so they're hoping that if they expand the number of people around him who get hit with financial penalties and a travel ban, this might finally break his grip on power.

President Bush is spending the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland. He released a written statement declaring "given Mugabe's regime blatant disregard for the Zimbabwean people's democratic will and human rights, I am instructing the Secretaries of State and Treasury to develop sanctions against this illegitimate government of Zimbabwe and those who support it." Now, as you know, all this pressure is coming because the opposition leader pulled out of that runoff Tuesday citing violence and intimidation. That prompted the president earlier this week to lash out.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Friday's elections, you know, appear to be a sham. You can't have free elections if the candidate is not allowed to campaign freely and his supporters are not allowed to campaign without the fear of intimidation. Yet the Mugabe government has been intimidating the people on the ground in Zimbabwe. And this is an incredibly sad development.


HENRY: Now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveling in South Korea today said that the U.S. thus plan to introduce that United Nations resolution as early as Monday. It would also include some more teeth, an arms embargo on Zimbabwe as well as a travel ban on regime officials as I mentioned. So, the question remains whether these sanctions will really work. The president is going to try anyway. And one reason why is that Africa has become a huge part of his foreign policy legacy. With the president in Africa in February, he was received like a hero there. That's a sharp contrast to how he's received in other places in the world. If you look at Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, the president has a more mixed legacy on foreign policy.

So, with the world watching Zimbabwe right now, he really wants to try to seize this opportunity to make a difference once again in Africa. But obviously it still remains to be seen whether these sanctions will really make that much of a difference.

WHITFIELD: And Ed, you have to wonder if there was any criticism toward the White House saying, isn't this a little too little too late? I mean, where was the White House, where was the U.N., where was the world as a whole when it was evident that the opposition leader at the on-start, you know, were getting beaten, threatened and killed.

HENRY: Certainly they're going to hear that criticism. They've heard it. I mean that's why the president did speak out in the middle of this past week publicly to try to put pressure on the Mugabe government. But certainly they're going to hear that international criticism that they should have acted sooner. But, as I mentioned, the U.S. has been imposing sanctions for years now, even before this latest round of violence and intimidation, and it's had little impact. So the U.S. has very few options here, and they're going to try the very few options they have to try to make a difference, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Henry in Washington, thanks so much. Well, of course, this story is far from over. You can follow it as it unfolds right here on CNN and at Among our website features, a blog by Zimbabwe's most popular, protest poet.

And now for the search of answers in the death of a pregnant soldier in this country, North Carolina. The "Fayetteville Observer" newspaper received a letter from a person claiming to be the killer of Specialist Megan Touma. Her body was found last Saturday in a hotel room bathtub. She was seven months pregnant. The letter reads, in part - "I am responsible for the dead body that was found on Saturday, June 21st at the Fairfield Inn. It was a masterpiece. I confess that I have killed many times before in several states." The writer also threatens to kill again. Autopsy results on Touma's body have not been released as of yet pending toxicology results.

Let's check in with Karen Maginnis.

Who can forget this? Houses breaking apart and being swept away by floodwaters in the Wisconsin dells. For most of us, it was pretty mind boggling. Well for people like Tim Fromm, it was heartbreaking. His family lost nearly everything when the Lake Delton breached banks and drained, carrying Fromm's three-story house with it. Well, this week he went looking by boat for something, anything, to salvage. He came across a lot of debris as well as a refrigerator, a recliner, not his, even the roof of his house.


TIM FROMM, LOST HOME IN WISCONSIN FLOOD: Someone did return some skis that we had. We got a few of our life jackets back. Anything that we can recover at this point is great because, basically, everything's lost and gone and without any recourse since we don't have any flood insurance, anything we can recover, you know, is fantastic.


WHITFIELD: President Bush issuing an emergency declaration today for California. That state is battling more than 1,000 wildfires. One threatens the popular resort town of Big Sur. It's destroyed 16 homes there and more than 500 are threatened. A wildfire outside Phoenix, Arizona, has managed to skirt underneath containment lines. The smoke plumes are so bad they can be seen miles away. Now Karen Maginnis in the weather center. Boy, extremes of all levels, too much water, very dry, too little water in some places. What a mess.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There seems to be a lot of suffering under mother nature's control. Over the last few weeks, now these are the fires that we're looking at across California, hardest hit is the northern third of California. As you just saw, right around Big Sur, that's also another area that has been hit especially hard with the fires there. This is a big season for them as well. I want to move into northern California and show where we do have the problems. Critical fire danger, northern California into southern Oregon, stretching on down through the spine of the Sierra Nevada and just before we get into San Francisco.

All right, Big Sur, this is a big time of year, should be having lots of visitors to the beautiful area there. But, no, looks like parts of the roads going in towards Big Sur, the Pacific Coast Highway, is closed. We've got a picture out of the San Francisco bay area. It looks a little foggy out - we don't have it for you right now. But, in fact, visibility from the Bay area to Modesto to Vacaville has been very, very bad. There you can take a look. The beautiful bay of San Francisco, but, unfortunately, the air pollution there right now, very poor quality. Not just there, but if you go into some of those valley where the smoke tend to just kind of dip. That's what we're looking at especially bad conditions.

Air stagnations through the central and western San Joaquin Valley with smoke and elevated ozone levels. What we're looking at is some of the moisture that's coming up from the desert southwest. It's just not enough. So they may get some thunderstorms, but they're going to be dry thunderstorms. Better chances for some rain producers as we go towards Monday. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Karen.

All right. Hot on the trail. Courting the Latino vote.


WHITFIELD: Latinos, they are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. So, it's no surprise that both presidential candidates found time to address today's national convention of Latino politicians. CNN En Espanol Ione Molinares is live with us in Washington. So both of them trying really hard to make an impression.

IONE MOLINARES, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: And trying to win also the Latino vote, Fredricka, very important for November. They understand in some places in the United States they may even be decisive. About 700 of those officials gathered here in Washington this week and today, the Latino elected and designated officials heard the two candidates lay down their agendas. There are many issues - they talked about immigration, which basically was one of the points, the most important points in their speeches today. Both of them made it a priority for their first part of the administration to look for a comprehensive immigration reform. Those are controversial last week because Senator McCain met with Hispanics in Chicago and some conservatives have said that he was talking differently on immigration with different audiences.

Today, Obama criticized McCain with what he said he was walking away from a commitment to win the nomination and McCain specifically asked for - that he's going to be working for border security and immigration reform.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I come from a border state, my dear friends. I know these issues. I've dealt with them for the last 20-some years. And I understand these are god's children and I understand that the reason they came is the same reason why our forefathers came. And I know that every single day because they have - people have come here illegally have none of the protections that individuals have who are citizens. So they're preyed upon and they are mistreated from time to time. And so that is a compelling reason for us to move forward with our border security and then address this issue in a humane and compassionate passion.


MOLINARES: And during the speech, McCain was interrupted several times by members of the group Code Pink when he addressed the issue of Iraq, the war in Iraq. Those people were escorted out of the room, while also on the same issue Obama reaffirmed his opposition to the Iraq war, telling the Hispanic officials that one of the problems generated by Iraq is some other parts of the world have been neglected, including Latin America.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our entire foreign aid budget to Latin America is approximately one week's of spending in Iraq. Now, think about that. I mean what message does that send? Are we then surprised if somebody like Chavez is making inroads and fanning anti-American sentiment in Latin America if all they're getting from us is rhetoric and they're getting resources from Venezuela?


MOLINARES: One of the issues where they both - the opposition was for the free trade agreement and also important because the Colombia Panama free trade agreements pending ratification in Congress. But in reality, both of them understand that Latino is an important vote in some parts of the country where republicans enjoy a third of the support in the last elections. But some things that might be changing, the feeling of the Latino community might be the economy also and in that sense it might be playing in favor of Obama. We'll see in November, Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: OK. Ione Molinares, thanks so much. CNN En Espanol. And, of course, topping today's political ticker, Senator McCain's busy Saturday. You know, of course, he started there at the conference. Well not only did he address the Latino leadership conference, he also met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Filipino president Gloria Arroyo. McCain and Talabani agreed that there has been significant fragile progress in Iraq.

Senator Obama in the meantime will soon get a firsthand look at Iraq and other countries. His campaign announcing today that Obama will travel to Europe and the Middle East later on this summer. Senator Obama says the trip will give him an opportunity to consult with allies on challenges that we share, such as security. Obama also plans on visiting Afghanistan this summer.

And CNN equals politics and we have plenty more later this hour. Josh Levs takes a hard look at where both Senators McCain and Obama stand on taxes. That's at the bottom of the hour right here in the NEWSROOM.

Also, check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. Just logon to Your source for everything political.

Well, last hour we had a ribbon cutting ceremony close to the hearts of many folks here at CNN. It is really close to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He joins us live from Metairie in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish. There he is. And I know you can't wait to get on the slide and the jungle gym and all things fun.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, this is pretty remarkable. Did you see that wood chip that just came flying? This is the playground that over the last six hours they have essentially created out of nothing, our partners Kaboom, a non-profit and Cox Communications. It's a really remarkable thing. You know, we talk about childhood obesity so much, Fred, but this idea that we could actually provide a vehicle by which some people can actually do something about it, that was what sold us. That's why we helped put this playground together.

I want to introduce you to Alex and his father, Louis. The reason Alex is here is because this t-shirt which says "My dream playground" was actually created by Alex, designed by Alex. He is actually the chief architect of the playground that you now see behind us. He's only four years old. How did you come up with this idea, Mr. Alex?

ALEX ALDANA, 4-YEAR-OLD PLAYGROUND DESIGNER: When I drew the slide, I did it for -

GUPTA: Did you have any idea that your playground - does it look like what you were hoping it would look like?

ALEX: Yes.

GUPTA: Not bad, huh?

ALEX: Yes. Not bad.

GUPTA: Dad, how did he do?

LOUIS ALDANA: He did great. He really did.

GUPTA: It's amazing. We just beat the rain. I have to tell you as well Fred. It was really a hot day today, but over 200 volunteers actually coming together to put this together. It's a remarkable thing. It's a great thing as a journalist, Fred. As you can imagine, to actually think about a problem, create a solution and implement it.

WHITFIELD: That is so great. And he best part, too, sometimes is the reporter involvement. Have you been on the slide, the swings? What's your favorite, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I haven't done it yet. I haven't been playing yet because I was working hard, I was actually dragging mulch and hammering in nails and stakes and stuff. So, I was trying to do my part here as opposed to just doing the television, actually making sure that we actually got this playground done. Still a lot of work to be done and people still doing it. Yes but I will get on the slide hopefully before I go.

WHITFIELD: Yes, I know because you've got to christen it, you know, along with the kid there.

GUPTA: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: The hard work, you know, hopefully, you can put behind you and then play a little on the way out.

GUPTA: Tell you what, you and I can bring our kids down here one day. How about that, Fred?

WHITFIELD: That's a date. My little John would love it.

GUPTA: All right.

WHITFIELD: He is the slide king, as they say. All right. Take care.

GUPTA: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about Olympic dreams. Banned for two years and now back. This morning, Olympian Chryste Gaines got a shot at Beijing and the chance for redemption.


WHITFIELD: The road to Beijing means a stop in Eugene, Oregon, for the U.S. Olympic track & field trials today. Last week we told you about this woman, sprinter Chryste Gaines, at 37, fresh off a two-year ban for unproven steroid use, trying to clinch a spot on what would be her third Olympic team.


WHITFIELD: At first, anticipating whispers of disapproval.

CHRYSTE GAINES, I was leery of that, how would people treat me? You know, would there be the whispers.

WHITFIELD: Did it do anything to your confidence?

GAINES: It boosted it. People welcomed me with open arms. Those who I wasn't friends with I still wasn't friends with so it didn't matter.

WHITFIELD: This is an vindication too, and a trial. Vindication?

GAINES: Definitely. Because not only is this a stage for me. It's a stage for anybody with perseverance, to show that you can go through it and come out on the other side. Pure gold.


WHITFIELD: Her effort, pure gold. Well, Gaines didn't finish in the top three of the 100-meters to make the team in that event, but she finished an impressive seventh place with a time of 11:15. Chryste Gaines is on the phone with us now from Eugene, Oregon. Chryste, you said it would be vindication just to be at the trials. So how did it feel?

VOICE OF GAINES: It was good. I was welcomed. When I came, actually, a lot of people show and a man pulled me to the side and said, I have been watching for years and he appreciated what I've done for the sport.

WHITFIELD: Oh, incredible. And you know, we're talking about - here you are at 37, not, you know, to beat a dead horse on the matter, but it's significant because most of the competitors are half your age. So tell me what that felt like to get out on that track and know that some of your competitors were 18, 19, et cetera.

GAINES: Oh, it felt great. I had a great showing, and probably beat out quite a few of them. So it was excellent. I had a good time.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And so now what? You know, what is it - we know in the 100 meters you didn't finish top three, but an impressive seventh place. Does this mean that all of your hopes and dreams for Beijing are dashed at this point? Or is there still a window of opportunity?

GAINES: There could still be a window. I mean, the relay coach, you know, approached me a couple of weeks ago and said, you know, they'd be selecting a team at the end of the trials. So there's still a chance. I mean, but I've been to three Olympic games so if they choose not to select me, then you know, I've been there and done it a few times. Of course, I'd like to do it one more.

WHITFIELD: I know. Because you made that very clear. I mean, you're a competitor. You want to be in it and you want to win. But, at the same time, what a remarkable mark, an indelible mark, you have made. And your story of perseverance is really one to be admired. How does that feel, knowing that you have inspired a lot of people, no matter what age, no matter what hurdles or obstacles stand in your way, to find a way to get back on track?

GAINES: It feels great. I mean, people need to know that, you know, just because you're down, people think you're down for the count, you're not always down. You can always pick yourself up and get going again. A lot of hard work pushing through it.

WHITFIELD: Well, congratulations for an incredible finish. You are truly an inspiration, and I know a lot of the students at Georgia Tech, many of whom you are an advisor academic advisor for, really can't wait to hear all about your stories. I know you're an inspiration to them directly as well. Chryste Gaines, thank you so much.

GAINES: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And congratulations on an incredible finish there at the Olympic trials.

GAINES: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic.


WHITFIELD: Well, we're going to switch gears now. We're talking about health overall. It's a tiny gland at the base of your throat. Picture that. It weighs barely an ounce. But if it's out of whack, it can bring big problems for you. Our Judy Fortin explains what your thyroid does in today's "Health for her" segment.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's as small as a butterfly but if it's not working properly, your entire body might feel its wrath.

DR. KAREN SMITH, ENDOCRINOLOGIST: Normally, I tell my patients the thyroid is like a furnace. And it actually acts like a furnace. It controls body temperature, helps control blood pressure, digestive system, your bone health, everything.

FORTIN: How it does that is by making two very essential hormones, respectfully know as T3 and T4. But to keep everything running smoothly, the amount produced needs to be just right. And for as many as 27 million Americans, those numbers aren't adding up. The most common thyroid problem is when your thyroid just isn't producing enough hormone. It's called hypothyroidism. And there's a handy way to know if you might be suffering from it.

SMITH: There's actually an acronym that we use for hypothyroidism. It's called sluggish. Sometimes when you feel sluggish, this acronym may help put a red flag that oh, oh, it might be my thyroid.

FORTIN: Sluggish stands for the following symptoms, sleepiness, fatigue, lethargy, loss of memory, trouble concentrating, unusually dry, coarse skin, goiter, enlarged thyroid, gradual personality change, depression, increase in weight, bloating or puffiness, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, spareness of hair. Diagnosing hypothyroidism is done through a simple blood test. Then hormone replacement therapy is used to regulate the proper flow of those under-produced hormones. Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: Some heartbreaking fallout from these record oil prices. Poverty-stricken parents faced with the reality that they can no longer afford to keep their children.


WHITFIELD: All right. Oil prices, they continue to hit an all-time high. Crude futures closed at $140.21 a barrel yesterday. Analysts say the surge will likely have a domino effect on gas prices, pushing them even higher in the coming weeks.

High gas and food prices are being felt around the world, not just here. In Indonesia, some really sad fallout as a result. Skyrocketing costs have forced many struggling families to actually put their children in orphanages because they simply can't afford to keep them.

Arwa Damon has more in today's "Impact Your World" segment.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): "Be tough," Ahri's grandmother whispers. " I'm sorry you have to go."

The 11-year-old's chin quivers. He's going to live in an orphanage even though his parents are still alive and love him very much.

"I'm going to school there," the young boy says quietly. His parents swear they're not abandoning their son.

NURAINI, AHRI'S MOTHER (through translator): I want him to get a proper education. And I hope that he'll do something useful for this country and help his brothers, because we're living in poverty.

DAMON: It was the last thing they imagined, but with a new mouth to feed and rising food costs, they're handing over their son to the care of the state. As Ahri's mother signs over custody of her eldest, some of the other children here gather to see the new arrival.

(on camera): Ahri's case is not unique. The majority of the children here are actually not orphans. But increasing numbers of Indonesian families here are giving their kids up. Quite simply, because they he can't afford to feed them or put them through school.

(voice over): In the last year, basic food costs have increased beyond many people's reach. And in May, a 30 percent fuel hike set off countrywide protests.

As the pressures of trying to make ends meet increases, there are very real fears that even more of Indonesia's children will grow up in childcare institutions. The numbers are already startling.

The government's last survey in 2006 showed that over three years there was a 30 percent increase in children in orphanages. More than 80 percent of them still having both their parents. This year, orphanages are reporting an even greater increase.

About half of Ahri's new friends already know the trauma of separation. Ahri admits he will miss his family, but he thinks he can be happy here, something his father desperately wants to believe, too.

JONI LUBIS, AHRI'S FATHER (through translator): I see it's calm and peaceful here. It makes me he feel happy that my son can be educated.

DAMON: Ahri's parents can only hope that by the time his brothers grow up the economic pressures will have eased so they won't have to make such a painful decision once again.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Jakarta.


WHITFIELD: Gosh, this is simply inconceivable.

So there are several organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children around the world. And if you'd like to get involved to perhaps make an impact on some of these kids that you saw in this piece, visit our Web page, "Impact Your World," where you'll find links to those groups and more on this story. That's all at

Well, her brother was shot to death in Washington. Now comes her outrage over the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a ban on handguns there.


WHITFIELD: All right. The two presidential candidates talking to the same audience today, about 700 Hispanic voters at a conference in Washington. Immigration reform got most of the attention there, but Senators Obama and McCain also talked about their plans for taxes.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a terrible mistake, in my view, to raise taxes during an economic downturn. Increasing the tax burden on Americans impedes job growth, discourages innovation, and makes us less competitive.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I've said is, let's give another round of tax relief, a couple hundred dollars in people's pockets to absorb rising costs of gas and food. And I want a permanent $1,000 tax cut for every family to offset their payroll tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. So they really talked about a lot of things: the economy, taxes, immigration reform, all of that, trying to gear it toward the Latino audience.

Joining us from New York, Raul Reyes. He's a columnist for "USA Today."

Glad you could be with us.

RAUL REYES, "USA TODAY": Hi, Fredricka. Nice to be here.

WHITFIELD: So, I wonder -- good to see you. I wonder, does McCain and Obama, do they have to craft a very specific, unique message to the Latino audience versus just the American audience as a whole?

REYES: Actually, I think not. You know, for McCain, I think his biggest problem is that letter "R" that follows his name on the ballot, because the immigration debate has become so caustic on the GOP side that people, Latinos, are definitely trending away towards the GOP. But the fact is, when you look at polls, again and again for the top issues for Hispanics are education, the war in Iraq and health care, and that's just like all other Americans.

WHITFIELD: But what happened? Because the Republicans as a whole have really been able to count on the Latino vote.

REYES: Right.

WHITFIELD: And President Bush is one who will say that, you know, he did very well as a result.

REYES: Right. President Bush, I think he captured something like almost 40 percent of the Latino vote.


REYES: What happened is, as the immigration debate progressed through comprehensive reform, it took on a very xenophobic tone. And it really drove Latinos away from the GOP. And I think right now Latinos, in terms of the standing between the parties, 2-1 favor the Democrats.

So, already Obama has a tremendous advantage in his favor. You know, at this point among Latinos, it's his race to lose.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, that is the first time I'm hearing that Obama would have an advantage in the Latino community...


WHITFIELD: ... because weren't we talking about Hillary Clinton being the one who could really count on the Latino vote and Obama, no way, Jose?

REYES: Yes. Well, you know what? One thing that I maintain, Obama's secret weapon in the general election is going to be, if he chooses -- and I hope he does -- is going to be Hillary Clinton, because there is no person in America today, there's no leader, not Hispanic, not Latino, who is more powerful, more influential, more respected than her.

If he were to send her out as his campaign surrogate to battleground states like New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, he would have it sewn up. She could really be a tremendous asset to his campaign.



WHITFIELD: Fascinating stuff, Raul. You taught us stuff.


WHITFIELD: I appreciate that.

REYES: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right. With "USA Today." Thanks so much. We'll have you back.

REYES: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Have a good day.

All right. Let's talk to Rick Sanchez now.

We know you're going to be talking a lot about presidential politics...


WHITFIELD: Come on. We know you'll be talking a lot more about presidential politics because it really is kind of the news of the day in terms of what these candidates are doing. It's especially different from what they've been doing the past few weeks.

SANCHEZ: 62-28, that's where it stands right now between Barack Obama and John McCain.

WHITFIELD: You've got a scorecard.

SANCHEZ: 62-28. A lot of people were thinking what you were thinking, you know, because Hillary Clinton was doing really well.

WHITFIELD: Well, we were thinking it because we've heard so much analysis.

SANCHEZ: That was the Clinton factor. That was Bill Clinton as much as anything else. Not so much Hillary.

McCain has got a real albatross he's dealing with here. And that is the Republican push toward immigration reform that backfired on them. And a lot of Republicans, or a lot of Hispanics around the country, look at the Republicans and say, these people didn't say some really nice things about us. So, as a result, it's backfiring on them. And he's going to have to deal with that.

And we're going to be talking about that tonight with, of all people...

WHITFIELD: I figured you would.

SANCHEZ: Mo Rocca. You know Mo Rocca? He's Colombian. Did you know that? I didn't know that.

WHITFIELD: I haven't seen or heard about him in a long time.

SANCHEZ: Well, he's Colombian. I didn't know he was Colombian. So we're going to ask him about this.

WHITFIELD: Well, that explains why he was involved -- because remember he was involved for a moment on some of the soap operas.


WHITFIELD: He did a couple little, you know, Latino soap operas in South America. So...

SANCHEZ: He's an interesting looking guy.

WHITFIELD: So now I get it.

SANCHEZ: Oh, by the way, the big story that we're going to be following tonight...

WHITFIELD: Maybe you'll revisit that. You should get that clip. It's very funny.

SANCHEZ: Mo Rocca on a soap opera?


SANCHEZ: Should we put him on the spot like that?

WHITFIELD: Yes. I bet he'd love to talk about it.

SANCHEZ: I'm sure he would.

WHITFIELD: Tell him I told you to do it.

SANCHEZ: But listen, seriously, the big story that we're going to follow tonight is the story that's going on right now with a pregnant soldier. She's found dead in a hotel room. And folks, this thing has gotten real weird.

So, tonight at 5:00 and tonight at 10:00, we're going to be specializing on trying to get new information on what is going on here. It's gotten as weird as it can be. Someone has sent a letter to a newspaper and has now gotten to the police -- there it is -- where he actually draws -- take that thing off the bottom so they can see the symbol at the bottom. See that little symbol there at the bottom? That's the symbol that was also used by a killer in California.

That same symbol found in a hotel room where she was found. So how could this person who wrote this letter have known that that symbol was in the hotel room unless he was there, or he's a cop or has inside information? Something's going on here.

WHITFIELD: Oh, it's so scary. It's creepy. It's so sad. This woman was 7 months pregnant.

SANCHEZ: We're going to talk to Randi Kaye. She's been on the story. And we're going to talk to some police officials as well. And as we break this story down, we'll be working on the details tonight, 5:00 and 10:00.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. We're looking forward to all of that.

SANCHEZ: Love talking to you.

WHITFIELD: Love talking to you.

All right. Well, in the nation's capital, residents there are rather up in arms, many are up in arms, over the U.S. Supreme Court decision this week to strike down a ban on handguns. Some people worry the district's murder rate will simply rise from here, but others say they have the right to defend themselves.

Kate Bolduan explores.


TAWANDA MINCEY, D.C. RESIDENT: There's too much going on out here.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tawanda Mincey says it's still hard to believe her brother Anthony is gone, gunned down in Washington last month.

MINCEY: I would have never guessed in a thousand years that my brother would have been a victim of gun violence.

BOLDUAN: With such a painful connection to D.C.'s gun violence, you may be surprised by her reaction to the Supreme Court striking down the city's handgun ban.

MINCEY: I have an alarm in my house for protection right now, but what does it good when someone's coming in my house with a gun? I want a gun, too. I want to know that I'm able to fight back. I have the right to defend myself.

BOLDUAN (on camera): In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said D.C.'s 32-year-old gun ban violates a person's right to keep and bear arms. Much like the split ruling from the bench, D.C. residents are split as well.

(voice over): Washington's mayor, Adrian Fenty, calls the ruling a disappointment and says the streets will be less safe.

MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY, WASHINGTON, D.C.: More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence.

BOLDUAN: Fenty says it's naive to think only law-abiding citizens will be able to get the weapons.

FENTY: In the same way that illegal handguns move through the black market, legal handguns will also move through the black market.

BOLDUAN: But as Tawanda Mincey walks through her neighborhood, she says she already feels safer because she's no longer helpless.

MINCEY: My brother, maybe if we were allowed to carry our weapons, maybe that would have been a different story. No one, no criminal, likes to be shot back at.

BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: That's sad and sobering.

All right. Well, we know him as Nelson Mandela, a worldwide symbol of democracy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he got released, as much as we're happy to have him back with us, but we also -- not only did we have to share him with South Africa, we actually had had to share him with the world.


NGUYEN: Sharing granddad Nelson Mandela.



WHITFIELD: Wow, that sounds so good. The stars were shining in London's Hyde Park last night. More than 40,000 people joined Will Smith, Amy Winehouse and a host of African stars to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, and, of course, raise money for AIDS charities near and dear to his heart. The former South African president and anti-apartheid activist spent nearly three decades of his life in South African prison.

So Mandela's grandchildren have something to say. They're offering some personal insights into his life and his personality.

Just have a listen. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you sit and chat about the old days? Does he tell you a lot of stories?

Oh, all the time. He never stops with the stories, especially with my one cousin, Zugon (ph). He always, every time he sees him, mentions the one story when he met the queen mother. He meant to kneel, but he just stretched his hand out and the queen mother told him to go down on his knees. Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he had had to. But he laughed about it. So...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Granddad thinks he's so funny. He's a joker.

He has jokes. And although he repeats his jokes all the time, everyone loves hearing his stories. He loves talking about his old days and enjoys make people laugh. And he's also -- he's actually quite funny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It comes across that in spite of everything, he's kept his sense of humor. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a very good sense of humor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what? I think that's possibly the greatest -- that's one of his greatest qualities, actually, is that besides everything else, you know, he has a really, really good sense of humor about it. And he's not -- and he's not bitter about anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does granddad inspire anything?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does he inspire?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to be a better person and never to give up in life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're one of Nelson's Mandela's grandsons. Does that define your life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it defines my life, but I think it plays a big role in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We underestimate, like, the power and the image of our grandfather as a whole. I mean, I know for sure, like, for me it's just normal to go over to his place. And my friends are, like, "Oh my God, you're going to go see your grandfather." You know? And for me, I'm just like, oh, it's another day, we have to go see the grandparents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that he's a simple guy. He just likes to relax, take it easy. When he's at home by himself or with us, he just has no worries except for if we have any worries. Besides that, no, just simple guy, stays home, reads his papers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, it is great to be related to him. And like Twina (ph) says, I mean, but at the end of the day, we have our own individuality. And sometimes, you know, people tend to think that you have to behave in a certain way because you are related to him. But at the end of the day, you are your own person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he asks us something, "What do you want?" or, "Is something wrong?" you say, "Oh, no, I just bruised my finger." "Do you want to go call the doctor, go get a neurosurgeon?" just for a bruised finger.

Like, he takes everything to the extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's very caring. He worries about you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worries too much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes we actually have to share his attention because he reads newspapers cover to cover. So if you happen to come to see him while he's -- during his time of reading newspaper, he says, "You know what? Let me just finish my newspaper, then we can actually have our chat."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lunchtime would come and we'd sit down together again and chat. I mean, sometimes, depending on the mood, he would tell me stories, some of his experiences, or if I have any questions. So to be a normal father, you know, son kind of relationship or grandchild to grandfather.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think for my grandfather's part, it doesn't matter how big he's become. You know? He still maintains that he's a human being who's fallible, and that -- and through his mistakes he was able to become this legend in life person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do you chat about when you say you talk about stories or you have questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything, really. There's nothing that's out of -- you know, out of -- there's nothing that's out of limits, really.

I mean, there's times where he as said, hey -- you know, maybe he read the paper in morning about AIDS that day, maybe. And then he'll ask me, "Hey, have you gotten tested?" You know, "Do you have a girlfriend?" You know, that kind of thing.

And if I'm doing something at school -- because I'm studying political science -- and I might want to ask him any questions, you know, dealing with history, maybe, he might be a very good reference, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's a very good reference.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unfortunate thing is that, you know, when he got released, as much as we were happy to have him back with us, but we also -- not only did we have to share him with South Africa, we actually had to share him with the world. And that was kind of like being hit right between the eyes, because we thought he has been away for 27 years, finally we're going to be able to have time -- to spend time with him. But as everybody knows, he was all over the world, and we actually had to take a step back and, you know, accept the fact that we had to share him.


WHITFIELD: But full disclosure, sometimes they felt a little conflicted that they had to share their granddad with the rest of the world.

Thanks for joining us for the last couple of hours. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Rick Sanchez is coming up next with an intense battle between drug lords and the police.

CNN NEWSROOM is back right after this.


SANCHEZ: Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

We've got some sad news to report to you. This is information that just came in to us a little while ago from Six Flags amusement park just outside Atlanta.

It involves the death of a student, is all we know at this time. Obviously, it happened too soon to be releasing any information about him.