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The Palin Bounce; Hurricane Ike Hits Cuba; Giuliani Criticizes Obama's Lack of Experience

Aired September 08, 2008 - 15:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coming at you now: Rudy Giuliani, over the top?

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: He worked as a community organizer.


SANCHEZ: And Democrats pounce on it.

Britney is the front page, but we look at the back page of the MTV Awards.

RUSSELL BRAND, ACTOR: I do feel a little bit sorry for her daughter getting all pregnant, poor kid. Is it a boy? Is it a girl? No, it a P.R. stunt. Come on, be honest.

SANCHEZ: Over the top? People on the Internet are outraged.

No doubt about it. It is a Sarah Palin bounce. We will tell you how big.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.

SANCHEZ: And then there's Sarah Palin's church. We're there.

Also from the pulpit, defiance, a plan to have some pastors break the law to prove that politics does belong in church.

What can a Category 4 hurricane actually do? You're about to find out in a troubling live report. We were first on the story. And we're sticking with it.

The news starts now.


SANCHEZ: And here we go. There's so much to get to.

I'm Rick Sanchez.

But we're going to start with something that's happening as we speak. This is breaking news, video that's coming into us right now. These are picks that you're going to be looking at coming in from Afghanistan. This incident took place on August 22.

I must warn you, some of these pictures are tough to look at. Here is why it's relevant. According to U.S. military reports, there were five to seven civilians killed in this incident. But, according to the United Nations, there were more like 90. That is the disparity. With that said, I'm going to shut up and let you listen to some of this. We have seen some of this.

And we tried to sanitize as much as we possibly could, just to the point where it would be possible to watch. But we also don't want to take away what the effect of this is, of a real war, that what's going on in Afghanistan is not a video game, that this is real. This is raw.

What you're watching now are people actually reacting to what U.S. officials say -- to what U.S. officials say was what they had to do because they were being fired at.

Let's do this now as we watch this video. Let's bring in Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, who has been following this situation.

Barbara, why is this particular video significant as we watch it here now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, let's be very clear what we're looking at. We're looking at villagers in grief in western Afghanistan following a U.S. and Afghan raid back on August 22.

This is a very emotional, very terrible situation for the people of this village. This has been an incident of international controversy. The U.S. launched airstrikes after ground forces, Afghan and U.S. ground forces, came under intense fire, they say, from Taliban and insurgents, as they were conducting ground operations in this village.

They launched airstrikes. That's when the controversy began. The U.S. said that five to seven Afghan civilians were accidentally killed in the airstrike. The Afghan government has said for weeks now that it was more like 90 civilians. It was just last week a U.S. military investigation came to its conclusion.

But, apparently, over the weekend, this video came to light. It was shown to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. And now he, General David McKiernan, himself, has ordered the entire matter reopened to look at the original investigation, look at this new evidence, this video from these grief-stricken villagers, and try and determine exactly what happened here. General McKiernan saying the people are owed the truth -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: So, what we're hearing you say, Barbara, is that the information that did not take into account never evidence like this particularly video may in fact be revised, then, after watching this and perhaps other information?

STARR: Indeed, Rick.

What is not clear now is how it is that the U.S. investigators did not know this video had been shot. Apparently -- it seems unbelievable, but, apparently, General McKiernan didn't even know it was out there. Sources tell us that he was shown the video over the weekend by the United Nations, which came into possession of it.

And people might recall a detail, but it's interesting nonetheless, that the U.N. had said all the way long it had evidence that a massive number of Afghan civilians had been killed in this attack. So, it continues to be a matter of great controversy and terrible grief for the people in this Afghan village -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: And, once again, we had mentioned this before. It probably bears repeating. This is graphic video. It is, as Barbara Starr had just duly noted there, something that had become an international incident. That's why we're going showing it to you. We are going to stay with this story, obviously, throughout the hour. And as we get information, we will continue to check in.

Barbara Starr, from the Pentagon, thanks very much.

What else are you going to be talking about throughout the course of the day? Listen to this. Bloggers and Dems around the country are being energized by something that Rudy Giuliani said, maybe more the way he said it. On the Net, the discussion threads since last night are buzzing about this one.

And conservative pastors say they want to be able to endorse a candidate. They're even willing to defy the law to prove that they are right. In fact, they want this go all the way to the Supreme Court. On that score, on conservative pastors saying that they should in fact be able to mix religion and politics, look what's going on, on right now on Facebook, on MySpace, on Twitter with this story.

In fact, let's go to the big board. I'm going to show you what is going on, because we're having this conversation with you.

"Isn't there something in the Constitution about the separation of church and state?" writes Timara (ph). "Maybe I just didn't pay attention in schools."

Here's another one. It says: "I think any church who truly serves and stands for what God stands for would not try to avoid taxes."

We have been getting hundreds and hundreds of responses like these. This is on

In fact, here is what I probably should tell you as we start this now. This is a virtual newscast. It's a national conversation, if you will, that's going to be taking place every day at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You want in? Just watch. Want in more. Go to or Facebook or MySpace. Their is your newscast. We want you to be a part of in every way every weekday. Now, we're here to show you that we're going to be covering politics like no one else as well. Why? Because we're going to be doing it with you.

And our big story today is John McCain. He has, in some measures, in some measures, taken a lead against Barack Obama. Does he have Sarah Palin to thank for it?

Well, consider this. Before she spoke, McCain was down by three in our poll of polls. After she spoke, he cut it to one. And, today, according to, again, the CNN poll of polls, he's up by one. Of course, this is really a statistical dead heat because of the margin of error.

But what we see here is a movement.

Here's Mark Preston now. He's joining us, with Preston on politics. He's our political editor.

We knew that Governor Palin was gaining in attention, but does this show that she may also be cutting into the undecideds?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Rick, we don't necessarily know yet exactly how the pick is going to work for John McCain.

We do know this, that Palin was not a thud, that in fact she was able to energize a sleeping Republican base. I will you, leading into the convention, talking to social conservatives, they were not happy with John McCain. They wanted him to pick someone like Sarah Palin, and he delivered.

SANCHEZ: You know, Mark, some will look at other polls and say, well, Obama is up over here, and McCain is up over there by a lot more. In fact, we have our own poll that we have taken today that we released today that actually shows a difference in what the poll of polls says.

So, explain to our viewers, if you would, what we try do with the poll of polls, what it really represents.


And in just looking at our own poll, it shows that it's a dead- even race, 48/48. We saw this before the conventions. Things have not moved. What CNN tries to do is, we take the most reputable polls. And we take them the most timely. We try to crash them altogether and we come up with an average, because, look, all polls are not equally the same. They're not weighted the same.

CNN tries to do that and we try to put them all on an equal playing field. And we think that gives us the best average of what voters are thinking across the country.

SANCHEZ: Bottom line, the thing needs to be taken into perspective. What we look for is tracking movements. And, obviously, we will continue to do so.

Mark Preston, thanks so much for being with us.

PRESTON: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Hey, have you seen this video?


PALIN: Here is the plan. And that plan is God's plan.


SANCHEZ: Governor Sarah Palin and her religious history. This is a huge draw for many Christians, but it has other Americans asking questions. Our Jessica Yellin went to the governor's church.

She joins us live from Anchorage. That's right after this break.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Told you a little while ago that this is going to be virtual newscast. Boy, is it ever?

Let's go ahead and go over to our Twitter board here, Look at this. They're coming in fast and furious.

"Keep it real. Keep politics out of the pulpit."

There are several others that I saw here telling people that CNN is now streaming live.

"Churches need to stop avoiding taxes and obey the law. Last time I checked, a church congregation was for worship, not for politics."

There's a lot of opinions on this. And I want you to listen to this comment now. This is from the pulpit as well -- quote -- "Alaska, one of the refuge states where people will gather in the last days" -- that's what Sarah Palin's former pastor said just last June while Palin was standing right beside him.

Palin spoke to that same gathering, by the way. What she said, it's on YouTube.


PALIN: God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built. So, pray for that. Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.


SANCHEZ: I want to give you a little history now. This Republican vice presidential nominee was baptized as a Roman Catholic, rebaptized as a Pentecostal, and now attends evangelical churches.

CNN's Jessica Yellin is in Anchorage. She is looking into Palin's religious background and has visited one of the churches that played a big part, safe to say, in the governor's ascendance.

Let's start with that video that is making the rounds on YouTube of her in that church. Why, Jessica, is that significant?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's gathering a lot of attention because of those comments she made about the Iraq war and that natural gas pipeline being part of God's plan.

The truth is, is that Sarah Palin's religion, a lot has been made of her devotion, and not much has been said from either the campaign or by Sarah Palin herself what about her true beliefs are.

So, whatever is out there is gathering a lot of interest. All that we're hearing from the campaign is the basic facts that you shared with us, that she was baptized Catholic as a child and that she now attends a number of different churches. Her main church now is a nondenominational, more traditional evangelical church. And so people are just curious and want to know what her real beliefs are. We have very limited knowledge -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Curious or worried? Because I'm talking now interactively with thousands of people here on Facebook and MySpace. And there are some concerns. I will give you an example. There was this quote from one of her pastors about Alaska being a -- quote -- "refuge state," where we will go before the end times. That's concerning some Americans. Can you put that into some perspective for us, Jessica?

YELLIN: Well, what the church believes is that Alaska is one of a number of states or places that has a role to serve in the end of days, or however you choose to phrase that, when the world ends.

And they believe that they can prepare Alaska to receive people and take care of them, minister to them, before the end of the world, that it will be this sort of safe haven or refuge. Now, we attended church yesterday. We were welcomed there. This was a very nominal part of the service, not a major part. But it is on that video, and so people are asking questions about it. And that's how they're explaining it.

SANCHEZ: And that's what we do, and that's fair. And people should be able to judge it for themselves.

But let me ask you this very direct question. Is there any indication that you have seen, as you have been following and covering this story, that her religious devotion has affected her governance in any way?

YELLIN: Well, you know, she has talked about God a lot during her political career, though not recently, not since John McCain picked her.

And she has very traditional conservative social values on abortion, on abstinence education. But these are, actually, Rick, not issues that that she's really pursued since she's been in the governor's office. And, frankly, her current pastor says that she does not let her faith -- quote -- "get in the way' of her decision- making.

So, there's not that much evidence at this stage that she has been driven by her religious beliefs, at least during her time in the governor's mansion.

SANCHEZ: Jessica Yellin going all the way to Anchorage, Alaska, to bring us that story. We appreciate it. Jessica, we will be staying in contact with you over the next couple of days and as this story unfolds.

Religion and politics, now that Sarah Palin is running for vice president, they seem more closely linked than ever before. Later this month, dozens of preachers plan to deliver sermons endorsing specific candidates. That's a direct challenge to IRS rules, which ban tax- exempt churches from any political activity.

Now, organizers are hoping for a legal showdown that goes all the way to the Supreme Court that will get that IRS band lifted. We're going to be on top of that for you. As a matter of fact, we're trying get Jim Wallis. He's an evangelical writer and Christian activists. He's the founder of "Sojourners," by the way, the magazine. He's the author of "The Great Awakening." We're planning to be able talk to him at the very latest tomorrow right here at 3:00 p.m. So look forward to that. By the way, that issue, we will stay on top of it. And we will have it again towards the end of this newscast with two guests, one from the right, one from the left.

Issue number one, the economy and your money. First, they told us it was bailout. Now we're learning it's a takeover with your money. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, more important than just catchy names. We are going to tell you why.

Oh, and the video that is coming out of Afghanistan. We got this just moments before we went on the air. We turned it around for you. It may be crucial video in an investigation into an attack in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is now looking into this video.

More as we proceed. Stay with us. We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: I'm writing in something in one of the entries now to have a conversation about one of the stories that we're going to have coming up in just a little bit. Reaction that has been coming in as a result of Rudy Giuliani's statement at the convention that is now getting a lot of reaction from Democrats and other community activists all over the place. This is the number of people that are going to be talking to us right now. I'm looking at it, 9,240. So, this is no doubt. There it is right there. You see it? This is no doubt an interactive show. We welcome you.


SANCHEZ: We're getting some pictures right now. Have you seen what's going on with the hurricane? This is a Category 4 hurricane, or at least it was when it did the damage in some of the video that we're going to be showing you. Some of it is still coming into us, by the way. Some of this is a little old than the stuff that is coming in now. But we understand new stuff is coming in.

Suffice it to say that in the Turks and Caicos specifically, and they got devastated, the country has been devastated. In fact, devastated may not even be a strong enough word to describe what is going on there.

We have got somebody in place. There's no communication, but I think we have got somebody on a cell phone who is going to be able to talk to us in just a little bit.

And, by the way, before we go to break, Roger, let's go back to that video from Afghanistan. There you see it, again, touch and go. We got this video just as we started to go on the air. It is tough to watch, we know. But it really portrays the reality of what's going on in Afghanistan. It's from an August 22 U.S. military incident there.

Much more ahead. We're all over this. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

Because this show is interactive, we literally have people who are reacting or responding to the news stories that we're presenting as we present them, in fact, proof.

Here, let's go to the board. This is often what we call our Twitter board, because we're with That's how you can get here. This one came in just moments ago after we showed that video from Afghanistan.

It says, "Once again, the United States further distances itself from the rest of the world." That's one viewer's opinion.

Here, on the Rudy Giuliani comments this week that's been getting a lot of furor in the blogosphere: "I don't understand Giuliani's remarks about Obama. What was his work in New York City after 9/11? Community organization."

There you have it. We will continue to monitor them as they continue to come in.

Hurricane Ike still strong. It's a Category 2 now. It's beating up Cuba right now. Sustained winds 100 miles an hour when last we checked.

We got some pictures coming in. This is from Baracoa, Cuba, giant waves, driving winds. The Cuban government has issued a hurricane warning for the entire island. This is some of the video that we have been getting. Look how difficult it is for people just to be able to get around. We have got some pictures that have been coming in from Havana as well.

Look at how tall that building is then look at the wave when it hits against that building. It actually seems to actually hits parts of the roof when it's going through. This is one famous Malecon, of the one most famous sites in all of Cuba, not far from some of those famous hotels there. Nearly one million people have been evacuated from some of those areas. And now they're fearing that might be flash floods as well.

Let's go to Jacqui Jeras. She's going to give us a check on what this thing is doing now.

The biggest concern has got to be that thing's going into the Gulf of Mexico and reintensify, right, Jacqui?


It's weakened throughout the day today because it had been moving over Cuba, but now it's actually over the open waters here, not good news. Because that means it could intensify once again, but it is fighting some factors, so we think we're going to have to wait until we get into the Gulf before more significant strengthening is expected.

So, 100 miles per hour, that's your maximum sustained winds right now. That's a Category 2 hurricane. However, it's just an estimate because the hurricane hunters don't fly into the storm when it's over open land. Now that it is over the open waters again, they're flying into this thing. And we will have a better estimate coming in from them very shortly.

It is still moving in a westerly direction, but we're expecting it to kind of curve up towards the northwest. It should go just south of Havana. But it will be close enough we work that you will at a minimum get hurricane-force wind gusts, if not kind of borderline from sustained winds as well.

Looking for this to move into the Gulf and spend a couple days here and intensify, the forecast showing it making landfall on Friday or Saturday. Look at your big cone of uncertainty. But I want to show you the spaghetti models, the latest computer models. And this is just amazing to me, Rick, to see this kind of consensus on these models this far out I time, because we're talking about five days out, and everybody's pretty much putting it in one spot. SANCHEZ: You know what we have now? Chris (ph) is talking to me in my ear here, Jacqui. Apparently, we have got some of those pictures that we have been monitoring.

Look, there are some places in the Caribbean, I will be honest with you, that have just been devastated by this thing, and not just by this storm, right? Give them the list, Jacqui. What is it?

JERAS: Right.

Well, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been hit by four storms. We had Fay. We had Ike. We had, who else? Hanna.

SANCHEZ: Gustav.

JERAS: And Gustav, there you go. That's four of them.

And, then, for example, the Turks and Caicos also got in on a lot of that action. Cuba, this is storm number three that they have been dealing with, all of which were major hurricanes when they made landfall here, so this is really devastating to a very large area. And we're talking hundreds of people have died in the last couple of weeks as a result of these...


SANCHEZ: Exactly. It's all been happening within a matter of weeks. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

I'm going to go to this video now that kind of really puts picture on the words that you were just sharing. with some of the viewers.

This is from Gonaives, right? This is Haiti, Chris?

All right, this is Karl Penhaul. He filed this report with us. He's in Gonaives, Haiti. Trust me, it's hard to communicate with some of these folks. We were trying to set up phone contact with the Turks and Caicos moments ago. And I'm told now we lost that. We will try and get it back.

Let's look at this video. It's coming in from Gonaives in Haiti.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The floodwaters just go on rising in Haiti, the body count, two.

In the mountain town of Cabaret, a river burst its banks early Sunday, killing men, women and children as they slept. Some tried to make a run, and died, too. Haiti's Red Cross said at least 52 people died here alone. More are still missing.

NOEL JEAN MICHEL, RESIDENT (through translator): We decided around 1:30 in the morning. Then 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, all the time, it was raining heavily. A lot of water fell over here. PENHAUL: In another incident Sunday, Red Cross officials say they dragged 21 bodies of fishermen from the sea along Haiti's north coast. The rain unleashed by Hurricane Ike compounded the misery caused by the one-two punch of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna in the last two weeks.

The Red Cross has confirmed that at least 150 dead in the coastal city of Gonaives from those two storms. Highways and bridges to the city have been washed away and aid agencies say survivors are getting desperate because they could not get sufficient relief supplies.

Citizens waded to higher ground as the rain beat down on Gonaives again. And as the CNN team tried to reach Gonaives from the north on Sunday, its advantage was blocked by this landslide.

Volunteers shoveled to move the rocks and debris. This woman says she had set out from the flood-stricken city the previous day. She says the only possessions she now has left are the ones in the plastic tub on her head. She leaves but says she doesn't really know where she's headed.


SANCHEZ: Karl Penhaul is good enough to join us now.

Karl, I've been to Haiti. I've covered it from a political standpoint and from an economic standpoint. How much misery, how much more misery, I should say, can these people withstand?

PENHAUL: Well, that really is the question, Rick, I mean, how much more can they stand. This is the poorest nation in the hemisphere. These people really don't have anything to begin with. And so then these devastating storms come through and it just washed out the few possessions they have.

That lady that you saw there, she literally had all that she owns in a small plastic bucket on her head. Maybe half a change of clothing, a hair brush and other small items. But again, we'd just flown into to Gonaives aboard one of these united nations aid helicopters just going over the top, circled around a couple times, and you can see now the city is full of sludge, just thick mud.

Some of them, it's actually subsided but there are still channels there where water is just racing through the city. And people have just literally taken refuge on the tops of those houses, on the flat roofs, and they'd just hauled a bit of bedding up, maybe hauled a mattress up there. And they've just been camping out there literally for about a week. And the whole city is cut off by roads on the west of the city because of these storms, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Karl Penhaul is following that story for us there. He's going from one side of the island to the other in the country of Haiti. As we get information from Karl there doing yeoman's work there, we'll continue to share it with you.

Rudy Giuliani making fun of Barack Obama's credentials as a, quote, community organizer. Is that going to come back and bite the GOP, if not Rudy Giuliani himself? We're talking about that with someone from the left and someone from the right, both patriots, I should add.

And then there's Afghanistan. This is that cell phone video that we have. For those of you joining us now who have just returned from work and turning on your TVs for the first time. We presented this video at the top of the hour. It is cell phone video not seen before. It's the aftermath of the incident in Afghanistan that is being disputed. And some of it is really raw and tough to watch. We're going to be continuing to share. And we'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: It is amazing just much traction the comment made by Rudy Giuliani in what was a very strong and significant speech at the convention, but there was one moment where he said something, and got caught up in the moment about Barack Obama being a community organizer.

Democrats have now seized that. They're even printing up T- shirts that say Jesus was a community organizer. And Pontius Pilate was a governor. We showed you some of those T-shirts last night. We looked them up on the Web. There they are.

Why? Well, it's an answer to this moment. I'm going to let you listen for yourself and you can gauge it for yourself. This is a moment where Rudy Giuliani talks about Barack Obama's experience.


GIULIANI: He worked as a community organizer. He worked, I said -- I said -- OK. OK. Maybe this is the first problem on the resume. He worked as a community organizer. He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.


SANCHEZ: All right. Now, I want to show you something else, this is Barack Obama's response. This is yesterday on ABC's "This Morning."


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what I did between the ages of 23 and 24 before I went to law school. I would think that's what we want all our young people to do. I would think that that's an area where Democrats and Republicans would agree. It's curious to me that they would mock that when I at least think that's what young people should be doing.


SANCHEZ: We're also learning this that African Americans on the Internet are going to band together and choose a specific day when they all set out to do something but community organization, as a result of the comment made by Rudy Giuliani.

And there's more. There we go to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. And there's one coming in now. This is just seconds ago. "I think the ridicule of community organization is out of touch and is offensive. People dedicate years of their time."

So these are people who are reacting to this within seconds to when we actually showed that quote from Rudy Giuliani on TV.

By the way, there's something else that I need to tell you about, this is a commentary. It's been written by Roland Martin. And you know where Roland Martin stands on most of this. But this is called "GOP Shouldn't Knock Community Organizations."

In fact we use that as we gathered some of that information on this story to bring it to you. I should also let you know that Roland Martin is going to have a special.

Now, did you catch this at MTV Music Awards? Some of the artists come on stage and the British host uses the stage to make, well, some very blunt and very offensive political statements.


RUSSELL BRAND, BRITISH COMEDIAN: Some people -- some people -- I think they're called racists -- say America is not ready for a black president. But I know America to be a forward-thinking country, right? Otherwise, would you let that retarded cowboy fellow be president for eight years?

I feel most sorry for that poor teenage father, boy. One minute he's just a teenage lad in Alaska having joyful unprotected sex and the next minute, get to the Republican Convention.


SANCHEZ: By the way, speaking of blogosphere, speaking of continuing to have this as an interactive newscast, people are outraged today by what they heard there at the MTV Awards. They think that the host was completely over the top. We've been sharing those throughout the day. In fact, more comments there as well. You can go to at cnn -- or ricksanchezcnn -- I should say, I misspoke.

Coming up, two people. I'm going to show them to you. These are people deeply, deeply patriotic. These are people who love this country, but they come at it from two completely different points of view. Is that OK? We call these two our dueling patriots. Their take on the pastors who don't want to be stopped from endorsing candidates.

And what some call the Palin bounce.

And what's going on in Afghanistan with the investigation. Both of them coming your way in just a bit. Stay with us. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the World Headquarters of CNN.

We have conservative viewpoints and liberal viewpoints and other and all viewpoints. We go on the basis, everyone engaged in the never-ending squabble is a patriot. Why? Because they take the time to care about America. We're about to hear from two voices, liberal Mike Malloy of the "Mike Malloy Show." Whenever I hear his show, he keeps telling me how much he loves this country.


SANCHEZ: And the other radio talk show host, conservative Martha Zoller. And when I hear her show, she goes on and on about how she loves this country. They're sincere. We call them our dueling patriots and that's why.

First up, separation of church and state. This is a challenge by some religious conservatives recruiting dozens of pastors to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. It's the Alliance Defense Fund. They want, Michael, to take this all the way to the Supreme Court. They feel the law needed to be changed. And they're willing to break the law to do so. You say what?

MALLOY: If they want to do this, go ahead. But the first thing they need to do is give up their tax-exempt status. Take all the property that the church owns, which is massive, and tax it. And then let's see how much longer beyond that that they want to go ahead and make statements.

SANCHEZ: That's just it, though, Michael. They don't want to give up their tax-exempt status. They're saying we should be able to keep it and we should be able to say these things. Because we're religious doesn't mean we don't have the right to say what we think in front of our congregation.

MALLOY: I don't think speaking in front of your congregation is wrong at all. Say what you want to say. This goes way beyond that. They want to endorse a particular candidate, if that's the case, bye- bye.

SANCHEZ: Martha, to you.

MARTHA ZOLLER, TALK RADIO HOST: Where this coming off of, in the African American church community I think for years there have been an image anyway of candidates going to church and candidates being supported. In the conservative Christian community there's been a movement that way.

However, I don't think you should be endorsing candidates from the pulpit. That doesn't mean what you can't talk about what your issues are on social issues, what your position is as far as the church is concerned. But endorsing candidates, I've got to stop short of that. But I don't want to change the law where everybody is punished for what some do.

SANCHEZ: I appreciate that. Let me ask you something about Palin's pastor, the governor of Alaska. Said some things that may infuriate some Americans, may make some Americans happy, by calling Alaska a refuge, for example. What do you think the effect of this is going to be, Michael?

MALLOY: I wish the media, Rick, would take some of the tapes from Sarah Palin's pastor's sermons would put them on television and run them until people are ready to pull their eyeballs out. The way they did with Jeremiah Wright.

SANCHEZ: Is that fair, Martha?

He makes a point. Certainly Jeremiah Wright was on TV as much as I was on CNN.

ZOLLER: Right. Whatever her pastor said, I don't what her relationship or how long she's been a member of that church, I think it's legitimate. If they're talking specifically about candidates, specifically about things, I think it's legitimate.

MALLOY: It's not the candidate, Rick, that I'm concerned about from Sarah Palin's pastor. It's his declarations. This is a guy who believed that the entire Christian faith is somehow found in the Book of Revelation. He completely ignores the teachings of Jesus.

To me that's a big mistake.

SANCHEZ: Final point, Martha?

ZOLLER: If he's talking about what his interpretation of the Bible is, that's fine.

SANCHEZ: Let's leave it there. We got other stuff we got to get to with both of you, including the situation that's going on in Afghanistan. Some of the video we're sharing with you, some of you maybe just getting home from work. There's new video that we showed moments ago. It certainly brings into question what is a disputed investigation.

It's tough to look at. It's raw, it's real. You'll see it here. Mike and Martha, back in a minute.


SANCHEZ: All right. Let's bring back our dueling patriots. Martha and Michael. Martha, let me begin with you. This Rudy Giuliani thing and we've got to keep this short because we're going to get to Afghanistan.

Some people looked at it and the fact that it went on for so long and it was such a hearty chuckle and they say it looks like a bunch of really rich people making fun of community organizers, vis-a-vis poor people. ZOLLER: Well, the average donation in the Republican Party is about $45. So I don't think it's going to be a problem of rich people. But I think Obama needs to get a sense of humor. It was what you do at conventions. You heard the same stuff at the Democratic Convention.

SANCHEZ: You don't think it was over the top?


SANCHEZ: Michael?

MALLOY: It was so far over the top. On the other hand, this is what Republicans do to mock community service is what they're about. I defy anyone to show me a Republican who's ever gotten involved in community service, doesn't exist. A creature that doesn't exist. Only in fantasy.

SANCHEZ: Michael, to you now on this Afghanistan situation. This is now a disputed investigation, originally they said five to seven people civilians had been killed.

MALLOY: Right.

SANCHEZ: Now the UN is saying 90 and this video may prove them right. As we're looking at it now, it's horrific, tough to look at and we've taken out some of the really bad stuff. Your take on this.

MALLOY: I think anytime there is a bombing of civilians, which is what this was, the military, any military, U.S. military, any military is going to try to minimize their so-called collateral damage, but collateral damage in this case are children, are women noncombatants, it doesn't even matter if it was men. These are non- combatants. These are not people who want to be involved in warfare. This has happened so many times with our bombing runs, so many people have been killed, this kind of slaughter is why they hate us. It's not because we buy houses that we can't afford as George Bush said. It's because we butcher innocent civilians.

SANCHEZ: Martha, to you. You probably have something to say about that.

ZOLLER: I couldn't disagree more. You think about Haditha, how most of the original reports even a week or two out of Haditha turned out to be wrong. And the situation was not as bad as it is. This was a horrible situation we see here. But we have got to be sure before we start slinging stones that we know what the story is.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much to both of you. I appreciate it. I know you both have very strong convictions on these. It's interests because I know you both love your country. That's why we call it dueling patriots. Michael and Martha, thanks to both of you.

Let's keep doing this.

MALLOY: Thanks, Rick. ZOLLER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Let's go down to speaking of international stories, Glenda Umana is joining us now from CNN in Espanol. She is covering one of the big stories down there which is obviously the hurricane.

You probably get a little different impact?


GLENDA UMANA, CNN ESPANOL: Hola, Rick! Hi, thank you.


UMANA: Thank you for making CNN Espanol part of your show. Our focus this morning is on how Ike is hitting Cuba and now Ike is approaching the capital of Havana. We have been speaking with some people, yes in, Cuba, (SPEAKING SPANISH) over there, Rick, when they talk about evacuation is not an option. It's mandatory. Almost a million out of their homes, as you know, this is something they live with.

There's no electricity right now. They are getting the latest news through portable radios. The ones who have. We have Morgan Neill reporting on English and Spanish and of course (INAUDIBLE), the whole attention of Latin America, we sent a reporter to Key West. Let's remember they are taking precautions over there. We will keep our viewers informed about the Ike is direction.

Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Glenda, mucho gracias, excellente, and I can't wait to come back to you. Because we're doing this thing now every day and going to do a check-in with you in CNN Espanol. I can't wait till we ask questions about Hugo Chavez.

But we'll leave that to another time.

All right, we look forward to it. Coming up, more of what you have to say. We continue our conversation. This is an interactive newscast and will be from here on in.


SANCHEZ: Time to do another check-in. We went to CNN Espanol. Now let's go to "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.

Wolf, what have you got coming up?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thanks so much.

Straight ahead, you've seen a lot of her, but what exactly do you know about her? We're following Governor Sarah Palin's meteoric rise from relative political unknown to the most talked about woman in the United States. And we're talking to people who actually know her well. Also, do Democrats think they can neutralize Governor Palin's appeal with Hillary Clinton? She's out campaigning for Barack Obama today. We're following her.

And one financial expert says this, it saves Armageddon from happening. The government takeover of embattled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. How did all of this come about? All that, Rick, and a lot more coming up here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" and congratulations to you, an excellent first hour. We're going to see you here every day, 3:00 p.m. Eastern. A terrific partnership with us.

Thanks very much.

SANCHE: Thanks, I appreciate you saying it didn't look like I was a little nervous even though I was. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: And the closing bell is about to say that so far, the Dow is in, in fact, up. There it is. See it right there in the middle. Plus, 290.35, and you hear it. Let's give it a little bit of a listen.

Bang, bang, bang, ding, ding, ding. There you go.

All right listen. One more thing before we go and toss things over to Wolf Blitzer. Let's go to the big board. It says, "muchas gracias" -- we've received hundreds like this -- your coverage, openness to the online/Facebook/MySpace/Twitter is ... admirable."

With that, let's go to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.