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Death Sentence; Campaigner-In-Chief; Ohio Battleground; Haggard's Admission
Aired November 06, 2006 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The countdown is on. Americans start heading to the polls in 24 hours. And this morning, more proof the fight for Congress is going to be one to remember.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Saddam Hussein faces a hanging. President Bush calls it a milestone. But Islamic leaders say a death sentence could backfire on the U.S.
S. O'BRIEN: Evangelical minister Ted Haggard is now asking for forgiveness. This comes after he's fired from his church amid those claims of an affair with a gay prostitute.
M. O'BRIEN: Listen up, parents. It turns out the school bus is a much more dangerous place for our kids than we probably thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventeen thousand children are injured each year on school buses. And that number is more than three times higher than previous estimates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: So, would seatbelts help? Well, you might be surprised with the answer. That and more ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. It is Monday, November 6th. The day before Election Day I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.
There's an election coming up I hear.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I heard of it. Tomorrow, I think.
M. O'BRIEN: I think so.
In Iraq this morning, celebrations, recriminations, a curfew and a country even more divided. All this after the long-awaited verdict. An Iraqi judge sentencing Saddam Hussein to death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): The court has sentenced the defendant, Saddam Hussein Amajive (ph) execution by hanging. (END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: He did not take it quietly, true to form, shouting God is great and damn you and your court. Saddam Hussein once said he would prefer to be shot by a firing squad, but it is the gallows that await him pending on automatic appeal. So how long that take and what happens next? CNN's Aneesh Raman in Baghdad now with more.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning.
Shot by military style is what Saddam wants. Instead, as you mentioned, he will be hung if the applet court upholds this verdict. What happens next, as you mentioned, an automatic appeal. A minimum 30 days for the defense and the prosecution to put forth their motions to the applet court within this Iraqi high tribunal.
That applet court can really take as long as it wants. But we've been told by court officials the process won't be that long. Why? Because they aren't retrying this case. They're simply going through the docket, going through the paper work, making sure everything is in order.
If they choose, they can reverse the verdict and sentence, change it. But if they uphold both the guilty verdict and crimes against humanity and the death sentence that Saddam received on Sunday, he must be executed within 30 days.
Now, of course, Saddam is currently in his second trial. Faces potentially ten more. The court, though, says he can be executed with those trials going on. They will simply go on with Saddam in absentia.
M. O'BRIEN: Aneesh, a couple things. First of all, were there any obvious flaws in the trial that would be openings for an appeal?
RAMAN: Well, for the defense, from the start and to the end, they have claimed this trial illegitimate, born of an illegitimate war. The court has ruled against them on that. The applet court will hear that part of it again.
But you have had a chief judge replaced. You've had three defense lawyers killed. You've had multiple breaks in the trial proceedings. What has been obscene chaos at certain moments.
Court officials have said, look, this is a process figuring itself out. The first time international law has been tried in a domestic court. The first time someone charged with crimes against humanity has been tried in the country where those alleged atrocities took place.
But the documents really are what made this case. Documents with Saddam's signature, proving the chain of command, linking him to the death of 148 individuals after the failed assassination attempt. So it seems that there won't be much ground for appeal by the defense. They'll certainly file motions.
But again the big question is, how long this process will take. Whether it will be politically influenced by the government. Whether they will then choose, based on offense on the ground, when this execution should take place. And that's a pressure the court will face.
M. O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman in Baghdad, thank you very much.
Many European nations are critical of the death sentence in this case. And some Islamist leaders are concerned that it will inflame anti-U.S. sentiment. But the president, in the midst of some 11-hour barnstorming for votes here, sees it as a victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein's trial is a milestone in the Iraqi's people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law. It's a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy and its constitutional government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: Leading Democrats are praising the verdict too, but are still strongly attacking the president's policy in Iraq.
S. O'BRIEN: Donald Rumsfeld must go. That is a strong statement that's coming from one of the largest independent newspapers that serves the U.S. military this morning. "The Times," which serves all four branches of the military, says in an editorial today, "it is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads."
The Pentagon counters the claims, saying it's old news. President Bush has already said that he wants Secretary Rumsfeld to stay till the end of his term. And according to the White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, he just shrugged off the latest call for Rumsfeld's resignation.
And this morning, a day before Americans decide which party's going to control Congress, a final look at where the battle stands. A new Opinion Research Corporation poll for CNN was just released a couple minutes ago. Here's what it shows. Fifty-eight percent of likely voters, 54 percent of registered voters say they're going to vote for a Democrat and that could help the Democrats pick up 15 seats to regain the house and the six seats needed to control the Senate.
Meanwhile, President Bush's popularity is still low. In a CNN poll, 61 percent say they disapprove of how the president's doing his job. President Bush is keeping up a busy schedule of campaigning in the hours leading up to the elections. He's got stops today in Florida, in Arkansas and in Texas. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Bush today is heading into the home stretch. His final full day of campaigning before the elections. His first stop is Florida. That was where his brother, Jeb Bush, is stepping down as governor and also Florida Republicans worry they may lose three congressional seats, including the one vacated by Mark Foley, who resigned amid scandal.
President Bush also going to Arkansas for another governors race. And it is clear that this election is a referendum on the president and the Iraq War. So the president is trying to get as many Republicans as possible to the polls. Tuesday, President Bush will vote in Crawford, Texas, before returning to the White House to watch the incoming results.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, traveling with the president.
M. O'BRIEN: More election e-poll numbers for you also from that CNN/Opinion Research survey. Fifty-two percent of you asked say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party right now. Thirty- eight percent say they have a favorable view of the GOP.
The number is essentially flipped for the Democrats. Fifty-three percent of those polled have a favorable opinion to the Democrats. Thirty-five percent unfavorable.
A lot of other polls out there which could be a small glimmer of hope for Republicans. The battle for the Senate in Ohio is fierce. Incumbent Senator Mike DeWine is trailing Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown in the polls. And in the House, Democrats like their chances on unseating another Republican congressman, Steve Chabot. He is running against Democrat John Cranley in Ohio's first congressional district. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken live for us in Columbus with more.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, as you pointed out, the polls seem to be tightens just a little bit. And so candidates in the various races, in particular the Senate race, are campaigning very hard, but they come from different directions.
FRANKEN, (voice over): The days (ph) reflects the styles of each Senate candidate. Democrat Sherrod Brown, the poll leading challenger, held a loud rally last night here in a Columbus church, accompanied by space hero and Ohio native John Glenn. SHERROD BROWN, (D) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: John Glenn, thank you. It's an honor to be introduced by you.
FRANKEN: The Republican, incumbent Senator Mike DeWine, was methodically trying to play catch-up, fueling up at a pancake breakfast.
SEN. MIKE DEWINE, (R) OHIO: Pancakes look good. What's going on?
FRANKEN: DeWine insists his six to eight-point deficit looks good.
DEWINE: We're closing. We're closing. The polls this morning had us six down, but we're moving in the right direction and we're going to close it.
FRANKEN: The Democratic challenger describes Republicans as desperate.
BROWN: They're angry and they can't stand it that they might lose their job and they're saying, I want my blanky.
FRANKEN: National Republicans decided to blanket other states with money. They've cut off their spending for the Ohio Senate race, but the TV ads are still incessant from both sides.
DEWINE: I'm Mike DeWine. I approve of this message to keep fighting for all our families.
BROWN: I'm Sherrod Brown. I approve this message. It's time to put the middle class first.
FRANKEN: Ohio Democrats have gotten a big boost from the state GOP's corruption problems. Convicted for receiving bribes, just- resigned Congressman Bob Nay is considered an embarrassment by his own party. Outgoing Governor Bob Taft pleaded no contest and was fined $4,000 for failing to report gifts. Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the man who wants to be governor, is far back in the polls.
FRANKEN: So, anything but bad news for Ohio, Republicans, would be considered quite an upset. But as you know, upset does happen.
M. O'BRIEN: Upset does happen. Thank you very much, Bob Franken.
And good news if you're a political junky. Cnn.com's Pipeline is free today. That's right, free. Keep track of the candidate's comings and goings on CNN's Pipeline with multiple live video streams, video archives and on-demand news clips. Cnn.com/pipeline is the place to find it.
And stay with us tonight. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Larry King, Paula Zhan, and Lou Dobbs -- how's that for small stars -- look at how your vote could affect the war in Iraq and who controls Congress. Our election special begins tonight at 7:00 Eastern.
S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning.
The death toll in that Reno, Nevada, hotel fire is now 11. Two more bodies were recovered from what is left of the Mizpah Hotel. And officials say they expect there could be more. A casino cook named Valerie Moore is now accused of setting that fire on Halloween night. It is the deadliest fire in Reno's history.
Some good news at the gas pump. A nationwide survey of 5,000 gas stations shows a drop of a little less than two cents a gallon over the past two weeks. The last 12 weeks saw a total drop of 84 cents a gallon. Where can you find the cheapest gas? In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where drivers pay an average of $1.99 a gallon. Drivers in Honolulu almost always pay the most. $2.77 is what they're paying right now.
The legendary aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, will set sail on a different kind of mission this morning. Tugboats are going to help move Intrepid from a New York state pier to a New Jersey shipyard. About $50 million worth of repairs on the Intrepid. The floating museum has been docked in New York Harbor for more than two decades. The repairs are expected to be wrapped up in 2008.
Pre-flight briefings will be held this morning at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The shuttle Discovery scheduled for launch on December 7th, on a Space Station assembly mission. The astronauts are going to attempt to rewire the International Space Station. It's been running on temporary electricity since it went into orbit back in 1998.
M. O'BRIEN: The Reverend Ted Haggard says he's a deceiver and a liar. Yesterday, in a letter to his former congregation now, the pastor owned up to what he called a dark and repulsive lifelong sexual problem. Here's CNN's Sean Callebs.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Tears at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs after the swift and humbling fall from grace of one of the leading evangelicals.
Ted Haggard, accused of a homosexual affair and drug use. Haggard's long time friend and the head of the oversight committee that removed him from the pulpit, the Reverend Larry Stockstill read Haggard's mea culpa to the congregation.
REV. LARRY STOCKSTILL, HAGGARD'S FRIEND: The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar.
CALLEBS: Haggard has denied having a gay affair. But Stockstill has his doubts about Haggard's sexual behavior.
STOCKSTILL: He had developed a pattern of deception and that is why it took us so long to really arrive at the truth. We still haven't. We know that's going to take a period of time. CALLEBS: Mike Jones, the former gay prostitute who made the allegations, tells CNN he feels vindicated, even though he failed a lie detector test when asked about the alleged three-year affair with Haggard. Jones tells CNN he will take another polygraph test. Jones says he deliberately came public days before Tuesday's midterm election.
MIKE JONES, HAGGARD'S ACCUSER: I don't know how many minds I've changed. I don't know how many votes might have changed. But I still, for my fellow community friends, I need to bring this out.
CALLEBS: With the issue of gay marriage on the ballot in Colorado and other states, Jones wants to show what he calls the hypocrisy of Haggard and other evangelicals. But many members of Haggard's former flock emerge from the service saying what happened will not effect the way they vote Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think it's going to encourage more people to go to the poll. And I certainly hope that's true.
CALLEBS: Haggard was at the top of his profession. Even taking part in occasional conference calls with the White House. The controversy is only one reason members of the religious right may feel disenfranchised right now, according to an academic who studies the evangelical movement.
RANDALL BALMER, PROF. AMERICAN RELIGION, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Add to that a growing discontent on the part of many evangelicals with both the Bush administration and the Republican Party, as well as the leadership of the religious right. And I think this is a big scandal.
CALLEBS: With as many as 60 million people in the United States claiming to be evangelical, the stakes are high. For the past two decades, evangelicals have been a powerful voting block thwarted by Republicans. The question, as Election Day approaches, will they once again be a safe bet for the GOP?
Sean Callebs, CNN, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
M. O'BRIEN: A new HBO documentary features an interview with Ted Haggard. Given his admission over the weekend, his words take on new meaning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. TED HAGGARD, FORMER LEADER, NEW LIFE CHURCH: You know all the surveys say that evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No way. There's a lot of love in this place.
HAGGARD: There's a lot of love in this place. And you don't think these babies just come out of nowhere, do you?
We are the ones with the role to say there is a moral plum line and we need to rise up to it. And that's also why secular people are so concerned when the church doesn't fulfill its own moral standard. Like if a pastor falls into corruption, or becomes dishonest, or greedy. It's heartbreaking because even secular people want godly people to be authentically godly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: Quite prophetic there. The HBO documentary, "Friends of God," is scheduled to air in January.
S. O'BRIEN: Some of the stories we're following for you this morning.
A notorious Klansman convicted in the killing of a civil rights leader 40 years ago is dead in a prison hospital.
And, how safe is your child's bus ride to school? We'll take a look at an eye-opening new study. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Top stories this morning.
Former President Bill Clinton is campaigning in Virginia today. He's trying to drum up support for the Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb before tomorrow's election.
And regular guys turned heroes. That's how thousands of people at a memorial service this weekend remembered those five firefighter who were killed in that California wildfire.
Eighteen minutes past the hour. If you're about to head out the door, let's first check in with Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.
Hey, Chad, good morning.
M. O'BRIEN: In America this morning.
An imprisoned clan leader is dead. Sam Bowers, the former Klu Klux Klan imperial wizard, died of a heart attack in a Mississippi prison. He was 82. Bowers was serving a life sentence for a 1966 fire bomb killing of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer.
In New Mexico, the latest security breach at Los Alamos Labs isn't as bad as first thought. The lab says none of the classified material found in a worker's home during a drug bust was sensitive or top secret. In fact, most of the info was 20 to 30 years old. A first for the New York City Marathon. Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil becomes the first South American to win the race. Women's defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia pulled away from the field becoming the first woman in more than a decade to win two straight New York titles.
Some California schools are fingerprinting students at lunchtime. Starting this month, the Hope Elementary School district will press an index finger to a scanner, the kids there, before buying the cafeteria food. One parent says the plan raises some privacy issues. And it just sounds kind of creepy. The school district says it's an effort to speed up the cafeteria line. I'm trying to figure out how it speeds up the line, though, to put your finger . . .
S. O'BRIEN: That's bazar.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. What does that, you know . . .
S. O'BRIEN: Why finger printing. There's so many other ways. You can swipe a card.
M. O'BRIEN: I know, they're highly secured beanie weenies, I guess. You know, they want to make sure the right kids are getting them or something.
S. O'BRIEN: How many kids to they have in their cafeteria line?
M. O'BRIEN: There's so many questions.
S. O'BRIEN: So many.
M. O'BRIEN: The stories we're working on for you right now.
A new study on school bus safety. We'll look at why your kids may not be as safe as they should be.
And a mystery at sea. The search for a missing cruise ship passenger. Another one of those stories. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Top stories we're looking at.
Not everyone celebrating the decision to execute Saddam Hussein. The Vatican weighing in with criticism. It says the ruling hearkens back to the days of eye for an eye justice.
And former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon out of the intensive care unit. Remains in a coma, however. He suffered a devastating stroke, you'll recall, in January.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, you know the old saying, what goes up must come down. We're talking about the Dow, so it's a big bummer. Stephanie Elam's in for Andy Serwer.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
Yes, the last time I was here, we had a new record.
S. O'BRIEN: I know.
ELAM: And now things have gone the other way. But it is expected to happen sometimes that you see the market flipping around and it's been a rough week for the stocks overall. The Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, all of them down about 1 percent over last week.
In fact, the this was the first time since October 18th that the Dow actually closed below 12,000. So that run-up that we were seeing is now trying to stabilize. And the reason is, the elections are tomorrow. So everyone is waiting to see what's going to happen.
And, overall, Wall Street likes a little gridlock. So while they don't know who's going to win, this pull between the Republicans and the Democrats, Wall Street likes that because that means it's not going to be too decisive as far as what this will do for business overall and, in fact . . .
M. O'BRIEN: So they like indecision?
ELAM: Indecision is good, yes, because that means they can still get their plan across to do what they want to do.
M. O'BRIEN: I see. I see.
ELAM: Yes. Yes.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
ELAM: So it's a little different there.
M. O'BRIEN: What else are you watching today?
ELAM: We're also taking a look at what's going on down on Wall Street as far as Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. You may have heard about them as KBW during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The offices were destroyed. They actually -- they're an investment banking firm, first of all, if you hadn't heard of them. But they lost a third of their employees on that attack.
They're now located in midtown Manhattan. And the big news there, they are actually going to go ahead and go public this week, selling off 21 percent of their shares. So it's a good comeback story. The all-American comeback story of a company that was really hit hard is coming back.
S. O'BRIEN: That was devastating. Devastating, wasn't it?
ELAM: Yes, very devastating. So this is good news there. They'll be on the New York Stock Exchange under KBW. M. O'BRIEN: OK. All right. What's coming up next?
ELAM: We're going to take a look at gas prices. They've been dropping, but they're stabilizing now. So we'll talk about that in our next bit.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Stephanie.
S. O'BRIEN: And guess what else? Country Music Awards, tonight, Nashville.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, boy.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I love that awards ceremony.
M. O'BRIEN: Who's going to win?
S. O'BRIEN: Brad Paisley, poor guy. Remember last year? Well, you probably didn't watch it last year. But last year, the poor guy was shut out. He'd been nominated for six awards, got zero.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, he's a talented guy. Very talented.
S. O'BRIEN: And not hard to look at is what I would say.
ELAM: That's probably why they like him.
S. O'BRIEN: This year he's nominated again.
M. O'BRIEN: Is your Brad watching or do you just like Brads? Do you like Brads?
S. O'BRIEN: We watch together, Brad and I. No, he's joking about that.
Paisley's been nominated again for six more awards this year, including three nominations for his hit, which is called, "When I Get Where I'm Goin'," which he does with Dolly Parton.
M. O'BRIEN: He's done some great duets.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And then Brooks & Dunn. They're up for six awards too.
M. O'BRIEN: Perennial favorites, right?
S. O'BRIEN: Yes.
M. O'BRIEN: They've won everything.
S. O'BRIEN: Single of the year, album of the year. I think they're going to walk away with a lot this year. CMA's air tonight on ABC.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, let's keep watching that for a while.
OK. Well, it's even, you know, Brad Paisley, you got that.
S. O'BRIEN: That's -- yes.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, some stories we're following for you right now.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in the hot seat once again. We'll tell you who is calling for him to quit now.
Plus, the road to the White House. What can the 2006 midterm election tell us about the race two years hence? We'll take a look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: Riding the school bus isn't so safe. A brand new study, injury study, shows that for some little passengers, seatbelts could do more harm than good.
M. O'BRIEN: Evangelical minister Ted Haggard speaks out amid claims of his gay affair -- excuse me, his affair with a gay prostitute. Get the words in the right order there. The preacher callings himself a liar in search of forgiveness.
S. O'BRIEN: And it's happened again. Another person disappeared from a cruise ship. An update on the research that's going on right now in the Gulf of Mexico.
That and much more ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. It is Monday, November 6th, election eve.
I'm Miles O'Brien.
S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.
Could seatbelts on school buses save lives? Many buses don't have seatbelts. There's no federal law that mandates seatbelts for school children. And only a handful of states require them.
CNN's David Mattingly is live for us in Tucker, Georgia, with more on this story.
Good morning, David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
There are so few fatal injuries on school buses every year that your child is actually eight times safer taking the bus to school than the family car. But what's being called into question are all those non-fatal injuries. There's a new study out today suggesting that there's a lot more kids being hurt on school buses than previously believed.
MATTINGLY (voice over): Over the years, statistical information shows that taking the bus is the safest way to get to school. But according to researchers behind a new national study, school buses should be even safer.
GARY SMITH, CENTER FOR INJURY RESEARCH AND POLICY: Seventeen thousand children are injured each year on school buses. And that number is more than three times higher than previous estimates.
MATTINGLY: The findings published in the "Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics" shows thousands of strains, sprains, cuts and bruises are treated at emergency rooms every year after mishaps on buses. Forty-two percent of the injuries happen during crashes.
In this extreme case from 2003 in Ohio, a bus rollover tossed kids out of their seats. The injuries weren't serious, but according to researchers, these injuries and many like them could be prevented.
SMITH: Well, it can be a traffic-related swerve, a quick breaking. And if a child's thrown to the side, there's absolutely nothing to keep them from flying through the air.
MATTINGLY: These crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows how higher seat backs and padding provide good protection in front-end collisions. But adding seatbelts and shoulder straps actually caused more injuries to the head, neck and abdomen.
MATTINGLY: This new study, however, suggests that seatbelts could go a long way in preventing kids from being thrown out of their seats in certain kinds of accidents. It also says that better supervision and better behavior on the part of students could go a long way to cutting down that number of injuries -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: And yet, for a lot of small kids they don't suggest seatbelts, do they?
MATTINGLY: That's right. In fact, if there are seatbelts put into a bus -- and some school systems are going in that direction, using seatbelt restraints in new buses. If they do that, they can't use the same kind of configuration that you see here.
These seats are a lot closer together than they might have been when we were going to school and taking the bus. The seats have to be further apart. It costs more to put seatbelts into a bus, and you have less capacity. But again, some school systems are going that way in quite a few states right now.
S. O'BRIEN: Dave Mattingly for us this morning.
Thanks, Dave, for the results of that new study, a fascinating study.
M. O'BRIEN: Very interesting.
Happening this morning in Nevada, the death toll in that Reno hotel fire is now 11. Two more bodies were recovered from what's left of the Mizpah Hotel. And officials say there could be more.
A casino cook, Valerie Moore, is accused of setting the Halloween night fire. The deadliest fire in Reno's history.
Live picture now. This is Pier 86, Hudson river, west side of New York. And that is the USS Intrepid. It's been in that very spot for 24 years. Today it will be moving, on its way to a New Jersey shipyard for $50 million worth of repairs.
Work on the floating museum which has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to it over the years will be completed in 2008. We are trying to find out what happened on that auction, because you remember they were auctioning off rides.
S. O'BRIEN: Rides. Yes, I wonder who won.
M. O'BRIEN: We'll get the scoop on that for you a little later. We're working on that.
Investigators trying to find out what caused a plane crash in an Oklahoma field. The pilot and passenger killed. Two other passengers survived. The plane, a single-engine Cessna. The Sky Hawk was flying from Tulsa to Wichita.
The search goes on for a passenger who went overboard from a Carnival cruise ship, the Conquest. Other passengers reported seeing the 42-year-old man plunge into the Caribbean from a cabin balcony on Saturday night. The Coast Guard is still searching while the Conquest returns to Galveston after its seven-day Caribbean cruise.
More calls this morning for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. An editorial in "The Army Times" says Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniform leadership, troops, Congress and the public. The Pentagon calls the claims old news.
CNN has some new poll numbers for you this morning. We asked which party you would vote for in your congressional district. Fifty- eight percent of likely voters and 54 percent of registered voters said Democrat. That's compared to 38 and 39 percent who said they would vote Republican.
The poll was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.
Ousted evangelical pastor Ted Haggard is set to undergo a process of restoration. That from a member of the board of the New Life Church. Haggard removed as leader over the weekend after admitting he got a massage and bought methamphetamine from a Denver man who claims the pastor paid him for sex over a three-year period. Haggard apologized and asked for forgiveness in a letter read to church members yesterday. S. O'BRIEN: And new this morning here on AMERICAN MORNING, Ali Velshi is going to join us with a little look at the morning papers.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They found something I'm good at. I can sit around and read newspapers.
M. O'BRIEN: It's a good job.
S. O'BRIEN: Everyone has to have a skill.
M. O'BRIEN: You get paid for this.
VELSHI: It's fantastic. I love it.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
VELSHI: Good to be with you folks.
I -- obviously on a big story like this, we are going to be doing this daily, looking through stories across the country in the newspapers. But in Colorado, stories around Ted Haggard have been -- you know, there's just more of them.
So I went through some of the newspapers, and all of them have Ted Haggard's letter that was read by another pastor yesterday. But there are also the letters that were written by his -- or a letter written by his wife, Gayle Haggard, in which she says that she's "sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter. I know your hearts are broken. Mine is as well, yet my hope rests steadfastly in the lord, who is forever faithful."
She says, "What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I'm committed to him until death do us part. We started this journey together, and with the grace of god, we will finish together."
Which, you know, remember when we saw Ted Haggard talking first about the methamphetamine and the massage, he was in a car with his wife. And I think that's what people always, you know, want to know. How is this -- how is this playing out in his family, and, of course, his church, which is his extended family?
Now, his son, 23-year-old Marcus, is also a pastor at a nearby church. He spoke yesterday.
And his words were, "We don't shoot our wounded. We all sin. If there's one thing we Christians should never really be surprised by, it's that people sin. That's rarely a shocker for us. We understand that better than anyone else on the planet."
You know, we talked to Delia last week, who said that evangelicals will talk about the fact that people sin, and that the ability to come back from that is going to be a big deal.
S. O'BRIEN: Is the big issue is going to be, though -- originally he had denied even knowing the guy.
S. O'BRIEN: You know, every -- and then...
VELSHI: Then it was a massage.
S. O'BRIEN: Right. And who knows what happened.
VELSHI: Methamphetamines, and now he says there was, you know, some sort of a sexual relationship. So, there is some speed to this, though.
This has come undone very quickly. And the amount of coverage you see in these Colorado newspapers gives you the sense that, boy, a lot of stuff has happened in the last few days. They seem to want to get this out, and fast.
M. O'BRIEN: Despite the literally graceful statements, it's got to be so painful for that family to...
VELSHI: Well, it does. And what you see play out -- we were on the blogs as well this morning and looking at newspaper editorials. And just a couple of lines from "The Rocky Mountain News."
You know, somebody says, "How does one" -- speaking about Mike Jones, who accused him -- "How does one who received money for sex yet have some moral platform to then turn an accusing finger on the one who paid him?" Another one writes, "It was wonderful to hear that some of Reverend Ted Haggard's parishioners extend him love" -- as you're talking about -- "compassion and forgiveness. Maybe some day these same parishioners will become even more Christ-like and extend the same love, compassion and forgiveness to all gays and lesbians."
The fact is, this is a hot issue. And it's playing out that way.
S. O'BRIEN: And the elections tomorrow.
VELSHI: And the election -- and it's a tight race in Colorado.
S. O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right.
M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Ali. Appreciate that.
Stories we are following for you this morning.
One day to go until the midterm elections. Who will win control of Congress? We'll get some predictions for you.
Plus, the road to the white House. We'll look at why the 2006 election is really a dress rehearsal for 2008.
Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to the program. Let's look at the news grid, see some of the things we're following for you today here at CNN.
Take a look at incoming 16. That's the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA TV there. Important pre-flight briefings for the next shuttle mission scheduled for the launch December 7th, a mission to the International Space Station.
We'll be watching that all day.
Incoming 18, that's Brianna Keilar. She's getting ready for a live shot for our affiliate, WDAF, in Kansas City. Our news source reporters -- Brianna's one of them -- constantly providing information, the latest information to your local affiliate.
Camera 571, that's at the top of our building here at the Time Warner Center. That's the USS Intrepid. Pier 86, Hudson River, New York, won't be there very long from now.
It's been there for 24 years, headed for refitting and repairs in New Jersey. It will be back in 2008.
The president is on the road once again today barnstorming for votes. He will be in Pensacola, Florida, Bentonville, Arkansas, and Dallas, Texas, today.
Back to you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Aneesh Raman in Baghdad.
Saddam Hussein found guilty of crimes against humanity Sunday, sentenced by the Iraqi high tribunal to death by hanging. But what happens next?
Saddam's case is automatically appealed to an appellate court. The defense and the prosecution have 30 days to make their motions known. But that appellate court can really take as long as it wants to review this case.
Court officials have told CNN they don't expect the process to take that long. If the appellate court upholds the verdict of guilty, the sentence of death, Saddam Hussein must be hung within 30 days.
Now, of course he is in the midst of a second trial, faces potentially 10 more. But court officials say the fact that he faces those other trials does not matter, that he will be hung within 30 days if the appellate court upholds the death sentence.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jennifer Eccleston in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On the eve of U.S. midterm elections, a vote that could alter the path of U.S. foreign policy, I spoke to the men and women of the U.S. military here, those fighting the Taliban and those helping to rebuild Afghanistan, about what a possible change of course would mean for them.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in London, where a man who confessed to trying to build a dirty bomb will find out if he faces life in prison. Darren Barot (ph) admits he tried to hit financial targets in the United States like the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup building using a conventional bomb that would be laced with radioactive material. Authorities here say he was stockpiling smoke detectors that do contain a very small amount of radioactive material.
S. O'BRIEN: For more on these or any of our top stories, log on to our Web site at CNN.com.
M. O'BRIEN: It's about quarter of the hour. Heading out the door? Chad Myers has your traveler's forecast.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, you mentioned barnstorming, Miles. Could you imagine Air Force One flying through the hangar of a really big barn, then coming back up...
M. O'BRIEN: Doing a little loop de loop with the president on the wing.
MYERS: Now, that will get your attention, right?
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. You could win some votes with that, I think.
MYERS: Good morning.
S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look at some stories we're following right now.
Tomorrow, of course, Election Day. Control of Congress is what's hanging in the balance. We'll get some predictions on the big winners and the big losers.
And after months of decline, can gas prices go any lower? We're "Minding Your Business" straight ahead.
Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: After all the campaign commercials, after all the rhetoric, after all the talk of polling, we are now at election eve. And I know there's some people breathing a sigh of relief at this point. But of course there's still time left on both sides to get that vote out.
Joining us now, as he always does on Monday morning, is John Mercurio, who is the senior editor of the -- it's "The National Review," right?
S. O'BRIEN: No, "Hotline".
JOHN MERCURIO, SR. EDITOR, "HOTLINE": No, "National Journal".
M. O'BRIEN: "National Journal's Hotline" -- no, that would be the wrong publication entirely.
I'm very sorry.
John, we are going to ask you to play the role of predictor today. We will call you Mercuriac in this one.
MERCURIO: Sure. Nice. Nice. I like that.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, Merucriac.
The closest -- let me ask you this one -- the closest race that will turn out to be not so close?
MERCURIO: You know, I'm going to pick the New Jersey Senate race for this one. The state of New Jersey tends to break late for Democrats, meaning that Democratic voters tend to come back to the fold late in the game.
You saw this in the past two presidential campaigns. New Jersey went heavily for the Democrat. Also in the past two gubernatorial campaigns.
I think Bob Menendez has been in a pretty tight race for the past several months with a very strong Republican candidate, Tom Kean. But I think he wins pretty comfortable, eight to 10 points.
M. O'BRIEN: Eight to 10 points. OK, we're writing these down because we are going to have you back on Wednesday, by the way, and see how you did.
MERCURIO: All right.
M. O'BRIEN: We're going to grade you.
All right. So now, this is the opposite of that one. The race with the widest margin in the polls right now that will turn out to be very tight?
MERCURIO: Yes. This is the one I'm going to go out on a limb on. Denny Hastert has...
M. O'BRIEN: Ooh, wow. Wow. Where did that one come from?
MERCURIO: Just hear me out. Hear me out on this.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. I'm listening.
MERCURIO: Denny Hastert, he's won comfortably for the past 20 years. He's been in the House by margins of 70, 75 percent. So he's used to that sort of 30-point margin.
He will still win, he will be returned to Congress, but it could be as few as five to seven points, I think.
M. O'BRIEN: So a win, but...
MERCURIO: A lot of conservative -- a lot of conservative Republicans that he's used to relying on I think at this point aren't going to be voting.
M. O'BRIEN: A message there, perhaps. All right.
M. O'BRIEN: Now -- so you said -- I want to get that down. Five to seven points?
MERCURIO: That's it. You really are going to hold me to all of this, aren't you?
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I'm definitely grading on this one. Not on a curve, either.
All right. Let's -- let's talk about total seats in the House, first of all.
MERCURIO: All right. Well, the magic number, of course, is 218. Democrats need 15 seats to take back the House.
We've been expecting this sort of tsunami wave, but we've seen polls tightening in the past couple of days. That's the result of a lot of money being poured in by the Republicans. And also, I think you have got to remember they have an incredibly good turnout machine.
I think Democrats do take those 15, but I don't think we see the tsunami we were expecting. I'm putting the number at 227. I've gone through over the weekend and done my sort of last estimates -- 227 is about right, I think.
M. O'BRIEN: 227 for the Democrats in the House.
How about the Senate now? That's the one that is really the nail-biter on both sides.
MERCURIO: I think we are looking at a 50-50 Senate. I really do.
M. O'BRIEN: 50-50, really?
MERCURIO: I hate to be sensationalistic...
M. O'BRIEN: Wow.
MERCURIO: ... but I honestly think we are looking at a 50-50 Senate. And, of course, the next question -- we saw, of course, the same sort of thing after the 2000 elections -- the next question becomes what the power sharing agreement becomes between the two parties. Republicans would of course hold control of the Senate because Dick Cheney would have the tie-breaking vote.
M. O'BRIEN: Interesting. And does that account for the Independents that might be in the mix? They say if Lieberman wins, that kind of thing, does that...
MERCURIO: Lieberman has said he will stay with the Democratic Party. I have to hold him to that. And Bernie Sanders would be the other Independent senator, and he of course is a Democrat.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. All right.
So, who will be -- assuming this all happens here on the House side, who will be sort of anointed as the Democratic king maker in all of this?
MERCURIO: You know, it won't be Nancy Pelosi. She will be speaker, but that's going to be over the grumblings I think of a lot of these new conservative Democratic members who are being elected from Republican red districts, districts that President Bush won in 2000 and 2004. She will be speaker, but it will be -- it will be a little bit of a fight, I think.
I think the king maker becomes Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the DCCC. His first term as chair of the DCCC, he's able to accomplish something that no other Democrat could do over the past 12 years. He's widely respected in the caucus, and I think his future is very bright with the party.
M. O'BRIEN: And not his good friend Howard Dean, huh?
MERCURIO: And not his good friend Howard Dean.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. John Mercurio, we know where you work. You're at the "Hotline".
Thanks, as always, for your time.
MERCURIO: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: And thank you for playing Mercuriac. We'll have you on, on Wednesday, and we'll...
M. O'BRIEN: ... look how your grades -- how your grades are -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, Miles will definitely hold you to that.
All right. Coming up -- to help you on campaign events, you can go right to CNN.com. Pipeline is free today. That is right, absolutely free. Zero dollars for Pipeline. You can keep track of the candidates' comings and goings on the multiple live video screens, video archives. On-demand news clips as well.
Also, you'll want to be sure to stay with us tonight as the best political team on TV, along with Wolf Blitzer, Larry King, Paula Zahn, Lou Dobbs all take a look at how your votes are going to affect the war in Iraq and who controls Congress. Our special election special begins tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: And the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.
M. O'BRIEN: It's election eve. Democrats still have an edge in a brand new CNN poll. Will we wake up to a new balance of power on Wednesday, though?
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