Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

Senator George Allen on Defense; Condoleezza Rice Responds to Bill Clinton's Accusations; Shelter Murder; Carry-On Rules Eased

Aired September 26, 2006 - 08:59   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Point, counterpoint. A steamed secretary of state now sounding off against former president Clinton about capturing the most wanted terrorist.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: New criticism surrounding Senator George Allen. Did he use the "N" word when he was in college?

M. O'BRIEN: Lifting the liquid ban on airplanes, with a catch. Some say the move is putting your safety at risk though.

S. O'BRIEN: And polychloro -- what? Food labels can be so confusing. We're going to help you cut through all the jargon to tell you what you're really eating.

M. O'BRIEN: And is the keeping the faith the way to wealth? What would Jesus do?

We'll get into that on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia fending off accusations he is a racist this morning. The accusations come from two former classmates at the University of Virginia.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, about the only thing that Senator Allen has not been called in recent days is sensitive, but there have been just about every other accusation thrown at him. The most recent one, as you pointed out, some fellow football players at the University of Virginia, back when they were all in college, say that he did use the ultimate racial slur.

Quoting now from a Dr. Allen Shelton (ph), who was a ballplayer with him back then, he said that "Allen" -- meaning George Allen -- "... said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where blacks knew their place. He used the 'N' word on a regular basis back then."

Well, Senator Allen, at a news conference yesterday, was very quick and emphatic to try and deny that.


SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: I have never -- I don't understand why I would ever use such a word, and I don't remember ever using it. And again, for them to assert that that was part of my vocabulary is absolutely false.


FRANKEN: Now this comes on the heels, Miles, of a variety of other charges about Senator Allen and some insensitivities alleged. The question is, is in Virginia will this help or hurt his campaign?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, it will be interesting to see. I mean, there was a lot of people that were putting him in kind of a short list of potential presidential candidates as well not too long ago.

FRANKEN: Well, the list may have gotten a bit shorter in the minds of many people, with the exclusion, perhaps, of Senator Allen.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, and James Webb, his opponent, not saying much of anything. He really doesn't need to, does he?

FRANKEN: No. Well, he's -- interestingly, the argument against Senator -- excuse me -- James Webb has been that he is not a particularly good campaigner. It doesn't look like Senator Allen has been a particularly good one either.

M. O'BRIEN: I guess the bar is set in a different place in that campaign.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. Bob Franken, thank you very much.

If you want to make sure you get your daily dose of the latest political news, we invite you to check on to CNN's new "Political Ticker." Go to

The place to be if you're into politics -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A war of words has erupted between former president Bill Clinton and the Bush administration over the war on terror. President Clinton defending his role in the fight against terror in a televised interview which we showed you yesterday, saying he's done a lot more than his critics.

Well, the other word, the other shoe is dropping.

Carol Costello has got that.

Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is turning into quite a juicy battle of words.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interviewed by "The New York Post" editorial board in New York, and boy did she fire back at Bill Clinton, calling his interview on FOX "passionate." And while she didn't call Mr. Clinton a liar, she certainly intimated he wasn't telling it like it was.

For example, President Clinton told FOX his administration had left a detailed plan about what to do about al Qaeda. Secretary Rice fires back. She says, "What the Bush administration did in eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years. We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda. The notion that somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false."

A question from "The New York Post": "So you're saying Bill Clinton is a liar?"

Secretary Rice: "No, I'm just saying that, look, there was a lot of passion in that interview and I'm not going to -- I would just suggest that you go back and read the 9/11 Commission report on the efforts of the Bush administration in that eight months."

About former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, whom President Clinton cited a number of times, Secretary Rice says he was not fired, he left on his own accord when he was not promoted to deputy director of Homeland Security.

You can see the entire interview, of course, in "The New York Post" online.

And, by the way, the Clinton interview with FOX, YouTube, more than 1.2 million hits right now. So you can understand why the Bush administration is firing back so strongly.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. I'm not surprised on either front actually about that.

All right, Carol. Thanks.


S. O'BRIEN: The director of national intelligence taking issue with a classified report that says the war in Iraq has raised the risk of terrorism. John Negroponte, during a speech last night in Washington, D.C., says a leaked portion of the report distorts the whole report.

Here's what he said.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It talks about the jihadist movement having spread. I -- my personal assessment with respect to the United States is that we are certainly more vigilant, we're better prepared, and in that sense I think we could safely say that we are safer.


S. O'BRIEN: The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is among those who is calling on the president to release the full report. That report is classified.

A North Carolina man on the run this morning. He's suspected of barging into a battered women's shelter and gunning down his wife.

Rusty Dornin has more on a tragic story that has a community on edge.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After her husband allegedly beat and choked her earlier this month, Bonnie Woodring decided she'd had enough. So she took out a restraining order, took her 13-year-old son, and fled to a women's domestic violence shelter here in Sylva, North Carolina.

But days later, police say her husband, John "Woody" Woodring, tracked her down at the shelter, forced his way in, and shot and killed her. Now, the 35-year-old Woodring, a former Marine and ex-con with a history of domestic violence is on the run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say there's a community panic, and as the search continues and the days get by, I think a lot of people are concerned that he still could be in the area.

DORNIN: This little town nestled in the Smoky Mountains is in shock. Bonnie Woodring was a well-loved nurse at the local hospital. Woody was studying at the local college -- ironically, to be a counselor. But in their well-kept house on the hill, the Woodring family showed signs of strain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since they got married, he was just the real jealous type.

DORNIN: Now, Bonnie's family is terrified Woodring will come after them. This close relative didn't even want her name or real voice used.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) everybody's scared, you know, family, and even Bonnie's close friends, co-workers, anybody.

DORNIN: Before her death, Bonnie sensed she was in serious trouble. In the restraining order filed just two weeks ago, she wrote, "When I attempted to leave, he choked me twice. He also threatens to kill me if I ever left him."

Bonnie apparently trusted that she would be safe in the shelter, a location that was supposed to be a secret.

(on camera): Does everybody in this town know where that shelter is? Really?

CHIEF JEFF JAMISON, SYLVA POLICE: No, I wouldn't say so. The longer that a location is in existence, then of course the more well- known it becomes.

DORNIN (voice-over): Jane Boxdollar (ph) is director of the shelter.

(on camera): Was he able to just open the door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was when a shelter person was coming out.

DORNIN: A shelter person was coming out, and he was able to force his way in by pointing his gun.


DORNIN: (INAUDIBLE) hit the panic button?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That's as much as I'm able to really say.

DORNIN (voice-over): Words that chill the hearts of many abuse victims and the people who try to protect them.

JAMISON: When you're dealing with an individual that is as determined as Woodring has shown himself to be and with such a twisted obsession, that it becomes very difficult to safeguard them completely.

DORNIN: Rusty Dornin, CNN, Sylva, North Carolina.


M. O'BRIEN: Let's get a check of the forecast now. Chad Myers at the CNN Center -- Chad.



M. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad.

Did you see this stockcar thing? You saw this, right?

MYERS: I did.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

Toledo is our dateline. Stockcar race, it kind of looked a little like a hockey game at this point.

(INAUDIBLE) driver Michael Simko driver upset -- the driver of the orange car. He's so mad at the orange car he's beating up the orange car.

Guess what? You're never going to win that battle.

So then the driver comes out. That is what's his name -- St. Dennis (ph). I forgot his first name.

Anyway, so they come out and then they settle this thing, or try to settle it on the infield there. And eventually they were broken up and out of the race. The race finished, minus both drivers.

S. O'BRIEN: And not only the race. They're out for a while. I think they've both been suspended for a bit.

M. O'BRIEN: I suspect they'll be doing the speed limit driving everywhere for now -- for a little while.

S. O'BRIEN: Did you see Oprah switching seats with Larry King yesterday? You know, usually she's the interviewer, not the interviewee.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: But she talked to CNN's Larry King about pretty much everything she is doing, including that Kansas City guy who was trying to have her run for president.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, but Oprah's lawyers sued this guy, or sent him a letter. Sent him a letter.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, they didn't sue. They wrote the old scary letter from a lawyer.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Oprah said she's not interested in being president. She has someone else in mind.



LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Any comment on this movement to make you president?

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Is there a movement?

KING: This guy's got a movement.

WINFREY: I don't know if that's a movement or not.

KING: He's got a Web site.

WINFREY: You know what I would say to him? I would say, take your energy and put it in Barack Obama. That's what I would say.

KING: Is that your favorite guy?

WINFREY: That would be my favorite guy. So I'm going to call -- I tried to call this guy -- Mr. Mann (ph) the other day. Mr. Mann (ph)...


WINFREY: Mr. Crowe (ph) the other day...


WINFREY: ... in Kansas City because my -- my attorneys had sent him a letter. And they should not have sent that letter. You know how...

KING: He can do whatever he wants.

WINFREY: But you know how attorneys are. They just love cease and desist.


WINFREY: Yes. And I didn't appreciate that my attorneys did that.

KING: Are you still an Illinoisan?


KING: So even though you have a home in California...

WINFREY: Yes, I'm very much an Illinoisan?

KING: So Senator Obama is your senator.

WINFREY: He is my senator.


S. O'BRIEN: You can catch all the newsmakers on "LARRY KING LIVE" every night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up this morning, another major university is dropping early admissions. The University of Virginia says the program favors the rich.

Do you read nutrition labels? It takes a little bit of work, doesn't it. Many people are confused. We're going to try to clear things up for you.

Those stories and much more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: The ban on liquids in your carry-on is over. Well, with a catch. Small sizes in bottles in clear plastic are now OK.

CNN's Brianna Keilar joins us from Washington, D.C., with the very latest on this.

Hey, Brianna. Good morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, good morning to you.

And this is what you can now bring through security, a clear quart-sized Ziploc bag filled with medicine or toiletry items that do not exceed three ounces each. And just to give you a sense of what that is, this gel deodorant is three ounces. So is this bottle of mouthwash.

But even in these small amounts some security experts say it could still pose a risk to travelers.


KEILAR (voice over): Small amounts of toiletries, like toothpaste, lotion, and lip gloss, now allowed back on planes.

KIP HAWLEY, TSA DIRECTOR: While this novel type of liquid explosives is now an ongoing part of the terrorist playbook and must be dealt with, we now know enough to say that a total ban is no longer needed from a security point of view.

KEILAR: The Transportation Security Administration is letting liquids, gels and aerosols through security as long as each is three ounces or less and all items are in a clear, quart-sized zip-top bag. You can also bring beverages on planes, but only those bought after you passed through the security checkpoint.

TSA calls it common sense screening, but some terrorism experts question the changes.

CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: We were told when this ban was instituted that at least potentially bottled water of any kind could be used as an explosive. Now, if that's the case, it seems to me that the bottled water that can be bought in sterile areas, likewise, can be used by terrorists on board to constitute an explosive.

KEILAR: Some passengers also worry terrorists will find a way to work within the new rules.

GEORGIA ORTIZ, AIR TRAVELER: I don't see the difference between a three ounce or a gallon of liquid. If you're going to do something, you know, these people are incredibly creative.


KEILAR: And that's really the concern of some security experts as well, that four or five terrorists working together could combine their small amounts of liquids and gels into a larger explosive -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right.

Brianna Keilar for us this morning.

Thanks, Brianna.

Clark Kent Ervin is the former inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security. He's live from Washington.

Nice to see you, Clark. Thanks for being with us. ERVIN: You, too, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

Listen, where do you stand on this? Is it a good idea or not a good idea?

ERVIN: I think it's a bad idea. I'm one of those security experts who does not support relaxing the ban. I supported it at the time because we learned that liquid explosives was a problem and TSA didn't have any technology to counter it. That's still the case, and yet this ban has been relaxed somewhat.

I agree with those who say that even small counts can be problematic. For example, the Lockerbie bombing took place, killed 259 people on board, 11 people on the ground back in 1988. That was a conventional bomb, but it weighed less than a pound.

In 1994, arch terrorist Ramzi Yousef used liquids, a small quantity of liquids, and killed one man and blew a hole in the floor of the cargo cabin. That plane managed to land and to stay aloft until it landed, but it could easily have turned out the other way. I also agree that terrorists could combine small amounts to make liquid explosives.

S. O'BRIEN: Kip Hawley said now we know enough. Are you saying that really this is an issue of convenience and not an issue of understanding how terrorists could use this kind of stuff?

ERVIN: That's exactly what I'm saying, Soledad. I think "The Washington Post" puts it very well today. Business travelers in particular had complained bitterly about this because many business travelers do these short-haul trips. They were forced really to check their bags because they couldn't bring on toiletries, and the percentage of checked bags increased by about 20 percent, which really stressed the system.

Furthermore, business was off significantly in these airport stores, and that's a significant source of revenue. There's a history on TSA's part of relaxing rules when the traveler complains and industry complains real loud and when the threat appears to recede.

What's most troubling to me about this, though, is this notion that you can buy liquids past the screening check point. Either liquids that are in and of themselves harmless can be subsequently combined to make a bomb or they can't be. If that's the case...

S. O'BRIEN: But isn't the theory -- isn't the theory that you could smuggle something in the liquid? You know, that it's hidden in the bottle, was my understanding. So it's less you could put together a bunch of shampoos and conditioners and make a -- make a bomb of other stuff.

I mean, I don't know, but I guess my question is, you know, where is the line? Why would this much shampoo, even if you have a bunch of them, be -- be OK now. And, you know, corkscrews are now OK and knitting needles are now OK. I mean...

ERVIN: Right. And I don't think they should be OK.

About a year ago, as you are suggesting, TSA permitted small knives and small scissors back on airplanes, forgetting, of course, that the 19 9/11 hijackers used small box cutters. Before 9/11 I would have said it would be highly unlikely that you could use box cutters to kill 3,000 people and damage the American economy, but that's exactly what they did.

With regard to the past (ph) screener checkpoint, again what TSA said when they instituted the ban that' liquids that in and of themselves are innocuous can be combined to make a bomb. If that's true -- either it's true or it's not. If it's true, then you can do the same thing if you buy those liquids past the screening checkpoint.

S. O'BRIEN: But, you know, at some point there's a question of where is the line. I mean, then why bring anything through, right? I mean, you practically can turn anybody who is clever enough and has really worked it out to turn almost anything into some kind of a weapon on a plane.

ERVIN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, it is such a big major pain now when you are trying to get through the airport and you can't -- and you only have a small bag.

ERVIN: Absolutely.

S. O'BRIEN: And you can't travel with any of the stuff that you need when you get to the next city if you are just going to overnight.

ERVIN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Where do you think the line should be? No one travels with any luggage at all? I mean, that's ridiculous.

ERVIN: Well, no, no, no. I mean, luggage is different. I mean, because luggage is checked, luggage is screened.

But here we're talking about these potentially dangerous liquid explosives. Unless and until technology is developed that can detect liquids that can be combined to make explosives, I think the ban should remain in force.

You know, nobody likes to be inconvenienced. I travel all the time. I'm traveling tomorrow to Britain. I like to bring on my Starbucks coffee, my bottled water. But it seems to me that that is a small price to pay for a significantly increased level of security.

S. O'BRIEN: Clark Kent Ervin is the former inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

Nice to see you, Clark. Thanks.

ERVIN: You, too, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Happening "In America," the man accused in that gruesome dragging death outside Denver could face the death penalty. Thirty-six-year-old Jose Luis Rubi-Nava charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 49-year-old girlfriend Luz Maria Franco- Fierros. Fierros was dragged behind a truck. Rubi-Nava held without bail.

In Houston, students at Rice University mourning the death of a freshman football player. Nineteen-year-old Dale Lloyd died Monday after collapsing on the field while the team was doing some light running on Sunday. An autopsy will be performed to determine what killed him.

An update now on that shooting at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh about a week and a half ago. Five basketball players were shot. Only one still in the hospital -- 6'7 Sam Ashaolu is in serious condition this morning but making progress. On Monday Ashaolu was able to move from his bed to a chair, and doctors removed a bullet fragment from is head.

Another prestigious school is dropping its early admissions program. The University of Virginia is now the third major university to do it. The change begins next year. In recent weeks, Harvard and Princeton got rid of their early admissions programs. The schools all say the programs favor the wealthy.

A triumphant return for the New Orleans Saints and the refurbished Louisiana Superdome. A sellout crowd of 72,000 brought a Super Bowl-like atmosphere to the reopening last night. A far cry from a year ago, when the dome became a desperate shelter for 30,000 Katrina evacuees.

From roof to turf, the dome has been made new. And here's what makes matters sweet for those Saints fans. They beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-3. The Saints undefeated.

Coming up, you think reading a nutrition label is like looking at some hieroglyphics? Well, you are not alone. We'll take a look at why a new study says those labels are just too complicated.

Plus, the so-called gospel of wealth. Find out why more and more churches say the path to material riches goes directly through god.

Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: In this morning's "House Call," a new study out shows that many of -- what many of us have learned the hard way. Nutritional labels on food designed to keep us healthier are way too confusing.

We have a box of Keebler Deluxe -- Chips Deluxe here. Take a look at the label here. We'll put it up here very quickly before we bring our guest in here.

And what it shows you is it gives you an amount per serving, and it gives you the amount of fat, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium. The question that is difficult to root out in this and what makes this confusing is, how many servings per container.

Well, there are 30 servings per container in this one box here. So you have to do a lot of mathematics to know exactly what each cookie is doing for you, or doing against you in some cases.

Dr. Russell Rothman of Vanderbilt University is the study's head author and he joins us now from Nashville to talk about this.

Dr. Rothman, first of all, let's talk about your study results. You found that quite a few people, about 40 percent of the people you looked out, were just outright confused by these labels here.


Even though most people told us that they read through labels regularly, we found that many patients really struggled to understand food labels. In fact, almost everyone that we studied had some trouble understanding some of the labels that we showed them, and this could lead to people grossly overestimating or underestimating how much they actually consume.

M. O'BRIEN: So, is the source of the confusion the fact that they -- they'll talk about serving size versus package size? Is that one of the big ones?

ROTHMAN: Yes. We found three main problems that people run into. One is they have a very hard time understanding serving size and how to apply it. Two, is that people make calculation errors when trying to calculate how much they consumed. And three, we found that people just get confused by the label itself because the label is so dense and has a lot of distracting information on it.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. It's almost too much information in some cases.

Now, I want to show you -- this is a label we found. This is on some animal crackers which were in our vending machine here -- Zoo Animal Crackers made by Austin. And here's what's interesting about this label -- we put it up on the screen here.

What they've got here, Dr. Rothman, is they have the entire package amounts over here on this column, and then in this column they have 16 pieces. In other words, sort of what you would snack on in a typical snack. So you have an idea right off the bat without having to do any mathematics that it's about 130 calories if you -- if you scarf up 13 of those little animal crackers.

Do you think that's a good approach? ROTHMAN: I think that is a very helpful approach. I think that the problem with that small package is that most people actually eat the whole package. And so it's very helpful for them to list the nutritional information for the whole package.

M. O'BRIEN: Which they do, which is good, right?


M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

ROTHMAN: Unfortunately, a lot of food companies have not started to do that yet.

The FDA actually had a working group that recommended this a couple of years ago, but as far as I know they haven't mandated this. And so, some companies have done this and some have not.

M. O'BRIEN: Aside from mandating that, which I assume you would suggest, anything else that these companies should be doing or the FDA should be enforcing?

ROTHMAN: Well, I think the FDA needs to look at the label itself and look at some of the distracting information and decide if that information is really necessary. So, for example, the percent daily value column that's on the far right of the label is very confusing for a lot of people and a part of the label that a lot of people don't understand. And the footnote of recommended daily values, which is at the bottom of some labels, is also an area that's very confusing. And some people will read that information and think that's the nutrition information for that product when it's actually not.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Excellent advice. And hopefully somebody's listening that makes decisions on these kinds of things. It would be easier if we didn't have to do all that -- that figuring out in what we're eating.

Dr. Russell Rothman, from Vanderbilt University, thanks for your time.

ROTHMAN: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Top stories straight ahead, including those new carry-on rules at airports. We're gong to tell you what you can bring on a plane. Again.

And on the same day that Andrew Fastow learns his fate for his role in Enron's collapse, former Enron workers get their chance to vent. A look at what some people are calling "Yell at Fastow Day."

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) M. O'BRIEN: The opening bell just rang on Wall Street a short time ago. Trading opening at 11,575, up 67 points at yesterday's close.

Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Lots of stories making news today.


S. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Forty-two days until election day. CNN has some new polls, show us how voters are leaning right now.

Joining us this morning from Houston is CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Hey, Bill, good morning to you. Nice to see you as always.


S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right to the new polls, and you can crunch them for me. There was a new poll that was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.


S. O'BRIEN: Question was, which party -- I'm having a hard time getting my words out today -- which party better handles terrorism? Take a look at the numbers. Republicans, 47 percent; Democrats, 41 percent.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. On that issue, Republicans have a slight advantage, but then the question is -- the same question was asked about the Iraq issue.

S. O'BRIEN: And it switches.

SCHNEIDER: And it switches, with a slight advantage for the Democrats. Terrorism, Iraq. Those are the top two issues of concerned voters when we asked them which issues are extremely important to you when you decide how to cast your vote.

And there's a kind of competition between those two topics. The Republicans want to keep the focus on the war on terror, arguing that Iraq is a front in that war. And they've been doing that for the last few weeks, culminating in the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

But now the Democrats are trying to get the focus back to the war on Iraq, arguing that that war is damaging the war on terror. And they just got some new evidence or argument for their case from that national intelligence report, which was leaked. I haven't actually seen it. Very few people have. But the reported argument of that report is that the war in Iraq is hurting the war on terror.

S. O'BRIEN: So moving the focus could very greatly help the Democrats come the mid-term elections. OK. When the pollsters asked the question, if the elections for Congress were being held today, how would you vote, 55 percent said they'd vote Democrat, 42 percent said Republican. What do you make of those numbers?

SCHNEIDER: National conditions favor Democrats. That's what those numbers mean. And certainly, the issue that's helping the Democrats the most is the war in Iraq. About half the voters say that's the issue of greatest concern to them, and they vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

What can the Republicans do? Well, you know, it was a Democrat who said all politics is local. And Republicans are taking that theme up this year in trying to concentrate not on national conditions, but on 435 separate races for the House and on about 33 separate races for the Senate. They say this is going to be about local races, local candidates, local conditions. And they're trying to, essentially, isolate -- insulate themselves from the national environment, which is not very friendly to Republicans.

S. O'BRIEN: A lot of the fall-out from the Clinton interview that Chris Wallace did over the weekend was because of the Clinton factor. Let's talk about that. Sixty percent of Americans expressed a favorable opinion of the former president. President Bush received a 46 percent favorable opinion. How do those numbers play, do you think, in the upcoming midterm elections?

SCHNEIDER: Well, President Clinton, in that contentious interview with Chris Wallace, was trying to focus attention on an issue where Democrats have been on the defensive for a long time, certainly in the last two elections; namely, the war on terror.

Clinton was arguing you could -- Democrats can rally voters to their support on the war on terror on really two grounds. One, he was defending his own record against what he claimed were attacks -- are attacks -- by conservatives and Republicans against his record on terrorism. And second of all, he said in that interview, Democrats will implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission; they will pursue the war in Afghanistan and al Qaeda more vigorously than Republicans. Essentially saying, Democrats will do a better job fighting the war on terror.

What's interesting about that poll is Bill Clinton has a 60 percent favorability. We tested a number of national figures, with almost -- with only one exception. Clinton is more popular than any major national figure. More popular, as we saw, than Bush; Cheney; Rumsfeld; the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice; John McCain; his own wife, the senator from New York; Al Gore. Only one public figure...

S. O'BRIEN: And, who is it?

SCHNEIDER: ... has higher approval than Bill Clinton, and that's Laura Bush. You know what? She's campaigning for Republicans today. S. O'BRIEN: Yes, no surprise there. You use the numbers when you got them, right?


S. O'BRIEN: Bill Schneider, thank you.


S. O'BRIEN: For the latest political information, you want to get to CNN's political ticker. It's an essential source for breaking political news and the latest poll results and political analysis, too. You can find it at --- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's get a check of the weather.


M. O'BRIEN: All right, coming up, what would do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? That's a provocative question, isn't it? Well, it's the premise of Mitch Albom's new book, "For One More Day." Albom will join us to talk about it next, on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: You know the Bob Dylan song, "Knocking on Heaven's Door"? For author Mitch Albom it's become a bit of a cottage industry. His first book, "Tuesdays with Morie" was a record-breaking best seller. His last, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," sold 8 million copies -- 8 million!. That's a lot of books.

The new book is entitled, "For One More Day." Early printing is in excess of 2 million, I think, which shows some high expectations there. Interesting distribution method on this, and we'll talk about that in a moment. The author, Mitch Albom, joining us now. Good to have you with us.

MITCH ALBOM, AUTHOR, "FOR ONE MORE DAY": Thank you. Good Morning.

M. O'BRIEN: First of all, give us the synopsis of this one. It's an interesting premise.

ALBOM: It follows the idea of what if you could have one more day with somebody that you lost, and it focuses on a guy whose life has kind of gone on the skids, and his mother died years earlier, his father has always been distant, he was a child of divorce. And his life has crumbled, his family has been lost, he's alcoholic. He gets a letter from his daughter that says she got married and didn't invite him because she was too worried about he'd being an embarrassment. He figures there's no point in living.

M. O'BRIEN: That's rock bottom.

ALBOM: Yeah, that's rock bottom. So he goes to his small hometown to sort of take his life because he figures there's no point in living anymore. And he kind of botches his attempt and he staggers into his old house, which he figures is abandoned, and he opens his door and he hears his mother calling him from upstairs. And he sees that she is still living there as if nothing ever happened in the ten years since she's been gone.

And he gets this sort of one last magical day with her to sort of review his life and what went wrong, what happened, things he didn't know about what she had done for him, why his father left. By the end, he sees if he can sort of put the pieces of his life back together.

M. O'BRIEN: It's interesting, for those who are familiar with your books, this is familiar territory with a different twist. The subject of death, dying, redemption is important to you. Why?

ALBOM: Well, ten years ago, I had an opportunity that not many people get. I spent Tuesdays with an old professor of mine and watched him die in front of me, but before he did, he taught me a very important lesson about what death teaches us about how to appreciate life. So I don't really write about death as much as, I think, life. But nothing puts our life in perspective more than realizing it's not going to go on forever.

M. O'BRIEN: Exactly. Exactly. There you are, by the way, with Morrie, there, in his final days. I want to read a brief passage. You say this: "There's a story behind everything, how a picture got on a wall, how a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple and sometimes they are heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where your story begins." And you talk a little bit in this book about -- whether you are a daddy's boy or mama's boy. What are you? Are you a mama's boy?

ALBOM: I'm a little bit of both, I imagine. The character in the book is told by his father, you know, you have to choose. You can be a daddy's boy or mama's boy, but you can't be both.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you think that's true, by the way?

ALBOM: No, I don't. But I think it's a cruel thing to kind of say to a kid, but sometimes kids are forced to do that, and this book deals with that because he chooses to be a daddy's boy, then his daddy disappears when he is 11 years old. And his mother raises him, does all the sacrificing and all the hard work, and yet he's always pining for his father, because, as the book says, we chase the love that eludes us. I wanted to touch on the subject of divorce a little bit, too, because it's so prevalent in our country, and so much around and it so affects children.

So, he is always pining for his father. His mother is always the one taking care of him. As often happens in life, she dies without him ever really appreciating what she did for him. And on this one last day that he gets with her, he gets to find out all that stuff.

M. O'BRIEN: Now, I talked briefly at the beginning about this distribution. This is being distributed through Starbucks and this is the first book they are bringing out. Tell me about that.

ALBOM: It's the normal routine of distribution -- it's in every bookstore and all the rest of it.

M. O'BRIEN: But in addition --

ALBOM: But Starbucks, starting next week, is going to start to carry it. But they contacted me over the summer and they said, We really like this story, and we want to start carrying books, and we would like yours to be the first. Mine is not going to be the only, it's just the first. So for about a five-week period -- not forever -- they are going to carry it in their stores and they're going to try to encourage people to read it. And at the end of that period, they are going to get everybody together around the country on one day and try to have, like, 25 cities all doing a book club about this book and discussing it. I think it's terrific. It's good for literacy all the way around, and it raises money for literacy because it's got a charitable tie to it, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Sounds like vente Albom. Enjoy it; that sounds like an interesting concept.

ALBOM: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Good luck with the book. The new one is, "For One More Day," the author, Mitch Albom, with us here in New York. Thanks for being with us.

ALBOM: A pleasure.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" is just a couple minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what they have ahead for you.

Good morning.


This is what we're working on this morning in the "CNN NEWSROOM." Agenda Afghanistan: Rising violence, drugs, radicalism, problems for the American and Afghan presidents. We'll have their news conference live in the "NEWSROOM."

Also, the secretary of State, the former president: a case of he says/she says -- their public dispute over Osama bin Laden.

And a serious case of road rage: A pair of stock car drivers turn the track into a boxing match. Nice. The tussle in Toledo. Can't ever see it enough. Coming up.

Join Tony Harris and me in the "NEWSROOM." We'll get started at the top of the hour, right here on CNN.

Soledad. S. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much.

Ahead, we'll take a look at our top stories. Also, does Jesus want you to be rich? The gospel of prosperity. That's ahead. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Jesus wants you to be rich. Are you nodding in agreement or are you shocked? Like it or not, the prosperity movement is making some major headway with the nation's faithful.

AMERICAN MORNING's Delia Gallagher has our report.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday morning. The sun has just risen, and already thousands are streaming into a giant church south of Atlanta to hear this pastor talk about blessings, thoughts and money -- yes, money. He's not shy about it.

PASTOR CREFLO DOLLAR, WORLD CHANGER CHURCH INTL.: The word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth.

GALLAGHER: Pastor Creflo Dollar -- Dollar is his real name -- has been growing his church for 20 years. He claims it has 29,000 members, which ranks it among the largest Christian churches in the United States. Pastor Dollar preaches what's often referred to as a "gospel of prosperity."

DOLLAR: Let's say you have a pie, and divide it up into slices. You have got the faith slice, the deliverance slice, the healing slice, and the financial slice. Now, that whole pie is called prosperity.

GALLAGHER: He says the secret to that prosperity is in the Bible. To be prosperous, he says all you have to do is read it, understand it and live it. Among the believers are Rick and Norma Hayes. They are in the front row, just seats away from another follower, Evander Holyfield

RICK HAYES, MEMBER, WORLD CHANGERS: I can think of one scripture in particular in Psalms 112, which says "wealth and riches shall be in my house."

GALLAGHER: Like others, the Hayes believes material wealth is just part of the prosperity God blesses on those who follow his word. Rick says he was homeless just before he entered the church 14 years ago. Now, he's a successful salesman. He has a nice home, income and expensive cars.

According to "Time" magazine, 61 percent of Christian Americans believe God wants people to be financially prosperous. It's all part of a trend, led by pastors like Dollar and Joel Osteen, whose Houston- area church, with its similar message, is the largest in the United States.

Dollar's teachings are a bit controversial. Among other things, critics say it ignores one of the Bible's central themes: the suffering of Christ.

DOLLAR: There's this Jesus who died for us so we can have a type of life that experiences peace and prosperity.

GALLAGHER: What's more, he says poverty is a curse and that poor people can find prosperity if they believe. The reverend Dr. James Forbes is the senior minister at Riverside Church in New York. He sees some positive things in the prosperity movement but has concerns.

DR. JAMES FORBES, RIVERSIDE CHURCH: I do think that extraordinary luxury begins to undercut the authenticity of the message of God's care for all of us.

GALLAGHER: Dollar and his followers say they use their financial success to help the poor and their church. Tithing or donating is a central part of the church's belief.

DOLLAR: Well, it's opportunity for prosperity time.

GALLAGHER: Dollar believes it's required by the Bible and that God gives back to the true believers who put in. And from the looks of the parking lot, it seems to be working.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Atlanta.


M. O'BRIEN: Well, oil prices are falling and that is good news, right? Well, here's our little dark cloud with a silver lining man, Andy Serwer, to tell you, no, it's bad if you have certain stocks.


M. O'BRIEN: Back with more, a look at the top stories in just a moment.


M. O'BRIEN: That's all from us on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins right now.