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Bush Ignites a Firestorm After Appeasement Remarks; California Supreme Court Overturns State Bans on Same-Sex Marriage; Texas Invests in Turbines; High Cost of Fuel Driving Shrimpers Out of Business; Kimberly Dozier's Inspiring Story of Recovery
Aired May 16, 2008 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It was the word besides malarkey that's making a lot of news today. We're going to begin with the "Most Politics in the Morning."
In all of this, a firestorm hitting the presidential election campaign. The White House denying that President Bush's words in a speech to Israel's Knesset were aimed at Democratic front-runner Barack Obama. The Democrats are accusing the president of playing partisan politics by comparing Obama's foreign policy views with the strategy of appeasement.
Hillary Clinton, who had actually been critical of Barack Obama's declaration that he would meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and others in the first year of his presidency without precondition, actually jumped to Obama's defense on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think what President Bush did today was to make an outrageous and deeply offensive comparison. I just reject it out of hand, and I think any fair-minded American will reject it out of hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, Obama released this statement to CNN saying, "It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack."
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain tried to turn the fight to his advantage saying Obama made a serious mistake when he offered to talk with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
CNN's Ed Henry broke this story for us yesterday morning. He's traveling with the president and joins us now live from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. So what's the talk on the presidential trail today, Ed?
ED HENRY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting, John, is that the White House insists, look, the president didn't name any names yesterday. White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says that he was not taking direct aim at Barack Obama, but I can tell you other officials privately say the president was talking about various Democrats, and that does, of course, include Barack Obama for saying that as president he would have direct talks with the Iranian president, and that also Mr. Bush was talking about former President Jimmy Carter for saying the U.S. should have direct talks with the terror group Hamas.
And look at it this way. For the president to basically lay out his definition of who an appeaser is with terrorists, and for that to sort of fit the narrative that Republicans are putting out there about Barack Obama, it's obviously a pretty amazing coincidence in the middle of a very heated presidential campaign, John.
ROBERTS: There's another point that's been brought up today in an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post" that's from Jamie Rubin, who was the former spokesperson for the State Department when Madeleine Albright was the secretary of state. He says that he had interviewed John McCain when he was living in London not too long ago working for Sky News. He asked John McCain about Hamas, and John McCain said, "They're the government. Sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them one way or another."
John McCain now saying, as we said, that Barack Obama made a serious mistake in saying that he would meet with Ahmadinejad and John McCain also now hitting Barack Obama on this idea that Hamas says they'd like to see him as president.
HENRY: Yes. Absolutely, John. I mean, this is a very sticky issue, in fact, for John McCain but also for the White House, because when you look at it, the White House had originally called for elections in the Palestinian territories. They didn't like the result. They wanted democracy there. Hamas won the elections. And now, the U.S. does not want to deal with Hamas.
But the fact of the matter is that they are there now, and it is a sticky issue for John McCain as well. He's been hitting Barack Obama saying, as you noted, that Obama is the favored candidate of Hamas. Obama called that a smear last week.
I think the broader issue here is that what you're seeing from what President Bush said yesterday, what McCain said last week, is that Republicans are trying to soften up Barack Obama and say he doesn't have the national security credentials to be ready for prime time, to be commander in chief. But let's face it, Hillary Clinton has been making that same case for months, and it doesn't appear that it actually worked, John.
ROBERTS: All right. Ed Henry for us live from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this morning. Ed, thanks very much.
Senator Joe Biden got all riled up after the president's speech. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: This is bull [expletive]. This is malarkey. This is outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Later Biden told our Wolf Blitzer he went a little too far with his first assessment of the president's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I shouldn't use that word. I came off the elevator and I was confronted with what had happened and I responded. I should have just said malarkey, but the essence of what I was saying is absolutely accurate. This is outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Senator Biden, by the way, is going to be our guest later on this morning. He'll be joining us at 7:25 Eastern time -- Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Tears and celebration after a landmark ruling on same-sex marriage in the nation's largest state. It was a 4-3 decision. California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage calling it unconstitutional.
Well, it paves the way for California to become the second state to legalize same-sex marriage. A celebration for some, a reason to protest for others. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: This is so much bigger than the gay/lesbian, and bisexual community. This is about families coming together. This is about what we represent as Americans and what the constitution represents in terms of its principles and protections.
RANDY THOMASSON, PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES: This ruling is not worth the paper that it's printed on. The main thing this is going to do is it will spur Californians to go to the polls to override the judges and protect marriage licenses for one man and one woman in the California constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Now, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has opposed same-sex marriage and says he will respect and uphold the court's decision though.
Now, here's an AM extra look at where the presidential candidates stand on same-sex marriage. John McCain says that marriage is a union between a man and a woman but opposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He supports legal benefits for same-sex partners.
Now, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions. Both also say that they oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage -- John.
ROBERTS: New this morning. Two veterans advocacy groups are asking for copies of all documents relating to the Veterans Affairs Department's post-traumatic stress disorder policies. This after an e-mail surfaced asking VA doctors to keep costs down by giving diagnosis, adjustment disorder instead.
Veterans diagnosed with PTSD are eligible for health benefits and in some cases disability retirement pay. But adjustment disorder on the other hand is considered short-term diagnosis and does not qualify veterans for benefits. The e-mail was obtained and released by the Groupvets.org, a frequent critic of the Bush administration.
The House rejecting a $162.5 million proposal to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for another year. One hundred thirty-two Republicans sat out the vote in protest claiming the Democrats were playing political games by adding an increase in veterans' education benefits and additional unemployment insurance to the bill. The Senate is expected to debate its version of the bill next week.
PHILLIPS: Breaking news overnight in China. More survivors pulled from the rubble as China's president heads to the disaster zone. A nurse pulled to safety after spending 96 hours trapped in a collapsed clinic, and two students rescued from the debris of their school.
The confirmed death toll from Monday's earthquake has risen to more than 19,500 people, but officials say the final count could be as close to 50,000. The cost of the damage is estimated at more than $20 billion right now.
Meantime, the United Nations is accusing the military junta in Myanmar of hoarding supplies and giving out no information about the condition of the cyclone survivors. The U.N. says that nearly 400 tons of food a day are needed to help those victims, and a million of those victims are children. The junta says that it will punish anyone found keeping food or trading food for foreign help.
And a new message this morning believed to be from terror leader Osama bin Laden. The voice on the audiotape refers to Israel's 60th anniversary and says the fight for the Palestinian cause was the most important factor driving al-Qaeda war with the west, and it's what fueled the 9/11 attacks. That tape has yet to be authenticated.
ROBERTS: A whirlwind of a project in Texas. Why wind generated power may be the wave of the future. Our Ali Velshi explains ahead. His "Minding Your Business."
So check this out. How did a plane end up on top of a plane? Well, a little miscommunication and a whole lot of bad luck. The amazing story and the pictures coming up.
And she says it was the toughest assignment she ever had. Reporting on her own comeback from a car bombing in Baghdad. Hear what Kimberly Dozier now says is the war's biggest unreported story, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: America's energy needs only going up, of course, and wind-generated power could be the next big thing. Ali Velshi joins us with that.
But I was talking to you about this wind power, the windmills. Growing up in southern California, this was the big project in Palm Springs.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
PHILLIPS: And it was a big bang but they started to break down and everyone thought they were an eyesore.
VELSHI: And they started building those in the '80s. And in the '90s, they were having a lot of problems with that because as oil prices actually started to come down, the money wasn't going into development of windmills, but it's a very different story today.
In fact, about one percent of the nation's energy is generated by windmills, and there's been a major investment. T. Boone Pickens, the legendary oil investor, has announced that he is going to buy 667 of these turbines from General Electric to create the world's biggest wind farm out in Sweetwater Texas, which is -- you worked out there.
VELSHI: Near Abilene about 3 1/2 hours...
PHILLIPS: I was in Lubbock.
VELSHI: ... from Dallas. Yes, in that area. Texas actually leads the country in terms of wind power generation. California is second, and then Minnesota and Iowa. So Boone Pickens is going to invest about $2 billion, and what he is going to end up with, the 667 GE turbines, will be the world's largest wind farm. He's going to actually build more.
It's a four-part, four-phase project. It will be on 4,000 acres, and it will create 4,000 megawatts of energy. This is like a nuclear power plant. It's going to be able to power the equivalent of 1.3 million homes.
As I was saying, we get about one percent of our electricity from wind power in the United States. The government says that by 2030 if we do it the right way, we could generate 20 percent of our electricity from clean, renewable wind power. That is a very big estimate, and it's, you know, not clear that that's actually possible. I think it's a best-case scenario, but it can rival nuclear power in the way that we can generate electricity from it.
Now, this is an interesting topic. We may have turned the corner on the acceptability of wind power, and we're going to be actually talking to Boone Pickens today at noon Eastern on "ISSUE #1" to see why he thinks this is a big deal.
He's, by the way, a very big oil investor and speculator. So he's saying that while he still thinks energy prices are going up, he thinks the future is in wind.
PHILLIPS: There we go. There's a speculator we wanted to talk to.
ROBERTS: Right. I have seen T. Boone a couple of times in the last few years. I saw him at the debate at the Reagan Library...
ROBERTS: ... and prior to that probably in 2004. My first meeting with him he predicted $50 a barrel oil. We got there.
VELSHI: I wish you that, I wish you that.
ROBERTS: When I saw him at the Reagan Library, he predicted $100.
VELSHI: All right. So I'll ask him what his new prediction is at noon.
ROBERTS: Yes, good idea.
PHILLIPS: I'm predicting a lot of farmers in west Texas aren't going to be too happy about all the windmills on the beautiful swathe of lands.
VELSHI: And the way they transmit that electricity. That will be a bit of an issue.
VELSHI: This is not -- by no means, this is a done deal but it's a big investment.
ROBERTS: All right. Say hi for us, though.
VELSHI: I will.
ROBERTS: Few profits for shrimp boat captains. How the high- cost of fuel is hurting this industry, coming up.
Plus, Rob Marciano is watching the extreme weather for us this morning. What do we got today, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We've got rain heading your way and extreme heat out west, and that has prompted already some flames in some spots that last year saw some scary issues. Right around the Griffith observatory, deja vu all over again. Complete details coming up when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
MARCIANO: Check this out yesterday. A small brushfire broke out under, well, Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, the same area of last year's devastating blaze. Didn't threaten any structure but a group of senior citizens had to evacuated as a precautionary measure. The L.A. Fire Department says it broke out around 3:30 immediately burned uphill. Dozens of firefighters and water dropping, helicopters got on it and gassed quickly. Only three acres burned there.
Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Rob Marciano. Extreme heat. That's going to be the big weather story today and well, if you live in the northeast, you're going to get some rain as well.
Check out some of the numbers as far as what you can expect or what they will expect. If they're not up yet, they're on the West Coast. Plus 20, plus 25 degrees above where they should be, but this time of the year, up and down the West Coast. So that certainly would cause alarm. If you're playing with matches though, be careful out there.
Covelo, California, yesterday 104. The old record 92. My goodness, that blows it out of the water. Oakland, 99. Sacramento, 99. Medford, San Francisco on the bay, 97 degrees. That is smoking, and you can expect more of the same as we go through the next couple days.
Extreme heat warnings are posted. More so for south of the Bay Area itself. The heat advisories up and down from Santa Rosa, almost all the way down to Los Angeles.
All right, to areas that got hammered yesterday across parts of southern Louisiana south and east of New Orleans, some heavy thunderstorms rolling your way. Boy, we had a lot of damage along the I-10 corridor yesterday with straight line winds and possible tornadoes.
And rainfall across the northeast. Boy, it looks like it's going to be a wet Friday. That rush hour home could be a long one, but alas the weekend is here. John and Kyra, back up to you.
ROBERTS: All right, Rob. It's a weekend anyway you cut it. You know, rain, no rain is fine.
MARCIANO: That's right.
ROBERTS: Rob, thanks very much.
Hey, our "Hot Shot" now. And here's a tip. Never leave your wing man. Take a look at this.
One small plane landed on top of another one at an airport near Dallas. The landing gear wedged in the wing. The place only has one runway and no control tower. So you can imagine that sometimes --
PHILLIPS: What is the problem here?
ROBERTS: A little bit of a jam up there. Amazingly nobody was hurt. And get this, the pilots reportedly know each other, were talking to each other on the radio.
Each thought that the other one had agreed to yield. You go first. No, you go first. No, go ahead. No, OK, I'm coming. Boom.
PHILLIPS: Forget about tandem parachuting. You just tandem fly.
ROBERTS: There you go.
ROBERTS: Saves gas, huh?
And if you've got a "Hot Shot," send it to us. Head to our Web site at CNN.com/am and follow the "Hot Shot" link.
PHILLIPS: A favorite seafood for you, a way of life for others, and it could be drying up. American shrimpers being driven out of business. We're live on the gulf coast.
And meet the bus driver of the year. Getting a dozen fists in the face and still making stops? The pictures on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: These are pretty tough times for the guys who bring you the catch of the day. CNN's John Zarrella has been traveling Florida this week. His last stop is in Tarpon Springs, just north of Tampa.
John, good morning. First it was mermaids, and now, is it Bubba Gump shrimp?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, pretty much. That's the case. And unfortunately, Bubba Gump and all the other shrimpers are sitting right here at the dock.
You know, we're moving into the height of shrimping season. These boats ought to be out on the water. Instead, they're sitting three deep. And all the way up and down this dock, there are shrimp boats just sitting.
The problem is the price of imported shrimp is driving down the cost of the price they can get for shrimp. And now, you add diesel fuel and the price of diesel, these shrimpers, it's a vanishing way of life. We spent some time with one shrimper who's still trying to make it.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): Shrimp nets hauling in their catch off the Florida coast. It's been done here for generations by people like Captain George Williams. He has fished for shrimp for 40 years, through good times and bad.
GEORGE WILLIAMS, SHRIMP BOAT CAPTAIN: The hook broke.
ZARRELLA: Lately it's been bad. Then Williams doesn't know how much longer he can hold on. WILLIAMS: This used to be, you know, a real good job. You could make good money, you know, a real decent living at it. My two sons quit. One of them joined the army.
ZARRELLA: There are still plenty of shrimp to catch, but the price has plummeted at the same time the cost of fuel has shot up. Dragging nets through water burns lots of fuel.
A day on the water can easily cost over $1,000 in diesel. They call it trading shrimp for fuel. Some months it's better business not to go on the water.
FRANK TOEBBE, SHRIMPER: The fuel is what's stopping us now -- I mean, really. You know, right now, if we catch 700 pounds a day, the boat will just break even.
ZARRELLA: The shrimp boat has been in dry dock for three months waiting for the height of the season to jump start their fortune. Hunting for white shrimp off Mayport, Florida, today, a good catch. But by the new math of their industry, good is no longer good enough.
ZARRELLA: Now, the shrimpers are hoping that innovation may help. They're looking at some new technologies in nets that are not as resistant. When they go through the water, they'll use less diesel that way. And all of these guys, the shrimpers now, they've all got second jobs. Some of them three jobs just to try and make ends meet -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: John, what stood out George Williams saying that his son had to quit this job and going into the army. So, I mean, now he's got to go put his life on the line.
ZARRELLA: Yes. It is a vanishing industry. It really is dying, and the sons of these older shrimpers are just not getting into the business because there is very little future in it. That's the way they tell us.
PHILLIPS: John Zarrella, appreciate the story. He has given us the human angle behind how this economy is affecting all of us -- John.
ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes now after the hour. And a political hot topic this morning.
President Bush taking a dig at Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. While in Israel yesterday, the president reiterated his stance that negotiating with terrorists and radicals offered "the false comfort of appeasement." Senator Obama has said that he supports talk with the leaders of Iran and North Korea, among others.
We want to hear from you on this. And our "Quick Vote" this morning, is it appeasement for the U.S. to talk with its enemies?
Head to CNN.com/am to vote. You can also send us an e-mail and tell us what you think. How should the U.S. handle countries like Iran and North Korea? Again, head to CNN.com/am and click on the link that says "email us."
PHILLIPS: And Alina Cho now joining us with other stories that are making headlines.
ROBERTS: You're early. We're getting a little ahead of ourselves here.
PHILLIPS: No, she's not. She's not joining us in the newswroom?
ROBERTS: Alina -- Alina is coming straight up. But coming up right after the break, we're going to be checking in with Kimberly Dozier, CBS news correspondent, who you might remember a couple years ago on Memorial Day, the victim of a car bombing that killed two members of her crew. Also killed an army captain and his translator. We'll check in with her, and as well, you know, those Reagan Democrats.
Who is going to be able to attract them come November? We'll check in on that as well. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: On Memorial Day 2006, CBS news correspondent Kimberly Dozier was embedded with the U.S. army when a massive car bomb tore through the patrol that she was with. The blast left her fighting for her life, and it killed the two other members of her crew, as well as an army captain and a translator.
It began a long road to recovery there for Kimberly. She tells her story of that day and what has happened since in "Breathing the Fire," an extraordinary new book. And Kimberly Dozier joins me now.
It's great to see you.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Nice to see, John.
ROBERTS: We've been old friends for a long, long time, and it's so tragic what happened there. I knew Paul Douglas very well. Didn't know James Brolan. How are you doing?
DOZIER: I'm doing great. I am so glad the book is done. It was a labor of grief, a labor of love, hardest reporting assignment I've ever had, and I essentially gave it to myself. I had to do it.
ROBERTS: Here's what you wrote about Memorial Day 2006, when you began to remember what happened that day. You say, "I was flung into the air, but I don't remember landing. By the time I did, both legs were smashed from the sheer force of being knocked back and the explosion had scorched much of my right leg, some of my left and parts of my arms. I was peppered with bits of molten metal and car parts, which were embedded in me from head to toe. 'Where are Paul and James?' my brain stuttered."
ROBERTS: Does that moment continue to play over in your mind. Are there continued flashbacks of what happened that day?
DOZIER: It did for the first two months when I was in a hospital bed. One of the reasons that I wrote the book is that one of the things I did was talk about the incident all the time.
ROBERTS: Did you learn through this process a lot about what our troops are going through? So many of them have been injured there and in Afghanistan.
DOZIER: Actually it was very humbling. You know, we report the deaths. We do not report the injuries, and I was there on the ground. I should have known that. But I didn't understand how much of the story we were ignoring until I went through it. Every one of those injured figures means somebody who is starting a one-year to two-year journey to get back to normal.
ROBERTS: You also learned a lot about the generosity of the men and women in uniform and other people who were there in Iraq. Because when they brought you into the emergency, the cash, the hospital, and our Cal Perry happened to be there on that day, you actually died twice on the table from loss of blood.
And you say, "I'd lost more than half of my blood at the bomb scene and it kept leaking out. The doctors pumped in 30 to 40 units, that's more than one adult's worth. A call went out. Within minutes there were 50 soldiers, contractors, and medical personnel crowding the hallway waiting to give blood, including some of the men who were injured in our patrol."
DOZIER: Well, you know, combat-injured, they go through it all the time on the ground. They see their buddies hit, and you do whatever you can to pull them out, keep them alive. There were so many injured. They couldn't plug all the holes.
And one of the reasons I'm alive today is because they treated me like one of their won. And the sergeant who was working on me, he always carried two casualties bandages in his flak jacket and he got a certain amount of flack for that until that day because he needed both of them.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: It was a miracle you survived and also a tragedy that Paul Douglas and James Brolan died. Those two things kind of came to a head when you started covering the story and shooting a one-hour special on it. You went back to the London bureau which is where they were based an you met a lot of people you had known for a long time because you were also there as well.
Here is what you write about that. You say, quote, "Most people were happy to see me though their happiness was tinged with a certain guilt. I went to embrace one old friend and I stepped forward he crossed his arms and stepped back." I ran into one colleague I had been told blamed me for Paul and James' death. I met his gaze for a moment. I accepted he would never forgive me for surviving. Was there a sense of survivor's guilt about all of this? DOZIER: Whoa, for months. The first thing you go through is you blame yourself. It took me a long time to get over that, get through that. One of the big things that got me through it was ABC's Bob Woodruff called me up while I was still in the hospital bed, and he said you blame yourself, don't you? They chose to be there. He said if you try to take responsibility for their choice, you're dishonoring their memory. That put it on its head for me. And from then on every time I felt guilt, I thought about that. And thought, you know, I'm dishonoring Paul and James.
ROBERTS: It's an incredibly moving book and an extraordinary tale not only of your survival but a real window of insight in what so many men and women in our military have gone through. Kimberly, it's great to see you.
DOZIER: Thank you very much.
ROBERTS: Congratulations on the book. "Breathing the Fire", it's called. Kimberly Dozier.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Turning now to the to the race for the Democratic nomination. Former candidate John Edwards' endorsement is paying off for Senator Barack Obama, at least six North Carolina delegates once pledged to Edwards will now support Obama. And eight have switched since Wednesday's endorsement. Obama now leads Hillary Clinton by 17 superdelegates, and 180 delegates overall. He's 127 short of clinching the nomination; 189 pledged delegates, and 232 superdelegates are still up for grabs.
Now, 51 delegates will be on the line in Kentucky on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both appealing to so-called Reagan Democrats there, and Dan Lothian is live in the CNN Election Express, right there in Frankfurt, Kentucky.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning. You know, both of the Democrats would love to get those Reagan Democrats back into the party. Democratic officials here in Kentucky realize that some of those in their family have been straying. They have not been voting for Democrats for years, but now that's changing.
LOTHIAN (voice over): Restaurant owner Nita Etebar considers herself a Reagan Democrat, who after years of voting for Republican presidential candidates is finally coming home.
NITA ETEBAR, KENTUCKY VOTER: I will definitely being voting Democrat.
LOTHIAN: She's concerned about the bad economy, but it was the war in Iraq that tipped the scales.
ETEBAR: There's more wars going on and fighting going on and talk about how everybody is a terrorist. LOTHIAN: Builder Marty May is a Democrat who voted for Reagan and the first President Bush because he says they made him feel secure. Concerns over Iraq and national security have convinced him that he should be supporting his Democratic Party and Barack Obama.
MARTY MAY, KENTUCKY VOTER: Yes, we're in trouble, but he makes us feel like he has a plan.
LOTHIAN: Jeremy Horton, executive director of Kentucky's Democratic Party says there's a shift under way because the economy and the war have left many voters frustrated.
JEREMY HORTON, EXEC. DIR., KENTUCKY DEM. PARTY: I think that you're seeing in Democrats in Kentucky a real quiet resolve to make sure that this vote that they have makes a difference.
LOTHIAN: In a state that twice voted for Bill Clinton and President Bush, John McCain would love nothing more than to hang onto those Reagan Democrats. Working-class voters weary of supporting a social liberal, or those like Jane Semones, who doesn't think Democrats have the political muscle to deal with Iraq and support the troops.
JANE SEMONES, KENTUCKY VOTER: There have been times I thought maybe they weren't even going to have the funds to back them up because of the way the Democrats have acted.
LOTHIAN: She's a Democrat voting for McCain. Horton says Democratic candidates can keep people like her from straying by delivering on campaign promises.
HORTON: You have to make governing less about politics and more about solutions.
LOTHIAN: Democratic officials tell me that they have no hard numbers as to how many of those Reagan Democrats are coming back home, but they say one good indication is how they have been voting in recent state and local elections. Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Dan Lothian, thanks.
ROBERTS: Now Alina Cho joins us with other stories making headlines this morning.
Good Friday morning to you.
ALINA CHO, CNN NEWS ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good Friday morning to both of you guys. And good morning everybody.
New this morning: Unprecedented action in a case that's gotten international headlines. Federal prosecutors have charged a woman in Missouri in that Myspace hoax that may have led to a 13-year-old's suicide. Authorities say the teen was led to believe she was chatting online with a 16-year-old boy. He first professed his love for Megan Meier, but then told her the world would be better off if she didn't exist. Forty-nine-year-old Lori Drew denies creating the Myspace account and sending the messages. She could face a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Caught on tape, a Milwaukee bus driver violently attacked -- you have to see it to believe it -- incredible surveillance video. Take a look at that. The suspect ran onto the bus and immediately started punching the driver. You can't quite tell but the bus is in motion. Sheriff's deputies say the attacker even tried to commandeer the bus at one point, grabbing the steering wheel, and using his foot to push down on the accelerator.
Can you hear the people screaming in the background?
That caused the bus to crash into a tree. The suspect later -- man, it's just incredible. The suspect later hopped off and got away. He's still on the loose. No word on a motive. The driver, by the way, was bruised and emotionally distraught, but is expected to be OK.
Two major developments in the battle against breast cancer. A combination of new drugs is proving to significantly slow growth. First, a new study says the drug Herceptin and Tykerb both block a protein linked to the disease.
And researchers say they also found that women who were vitamin D deficient were more likely to have their disease spread. But they say it's still too early to tell all women with breast cancer to increase their vitamin D intake. People get most of their vitamin D from sunlight or from nutritional supplements.
And on the heels of California's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriages, Ellen Degeneres says she's getting hitched. During a taping of "The Ellen Degeneres Show", to air today, she told the audience she plans to marry her partner of four years, former "Ali McBeal" star Portia de Rossi. She didn't waste any time. The court ruling means same-sex couples can get married in California starting in a month. She didn't waste any time.
Of course, California the second state after Massachusetts, which legalized in 2004. But she said she never thought she'd have as much money as she has now and that she wouldn't have -- she didn't have -- I'm sorry. It's early. It's Friday. She'd never end up with a gorgeous girlfriend like Portia de Rossi. But anyway, so there you have it.
PHILLIPS: They are a striking couple.
CHO: Yes, they are.
PHILLIPS: And Ellen's show, she's just so funny.
ROBERTS: I have something to show you. Follow me over here to the telestrator.
CHO: Oh, boy. Where you going?
ROBERTS: It's a big problem in the Houston area in that whole low-lying soggy humid area of south Texas, along the coast there. They don't have a name for them, but there's an amazing infestation of ants. Look at this. This is the hand of an exterminator, named Tom Rasberry, who first discovered these ants back in 2002.
No official name. He sort of dubbed them the "krazy raspberry ant". They're also called the running ant, because you can see them. He puts his hand down there and they run all over. They're infesting lawns, gardens, woodlands, even getting electrical boxes, shorting out alarm systems. And here's the thing. They have no known competitors. These guys are so tough they even eat fire ants. And if you've ever lived in the South, you know how bad a fire ant can be.
And this guy, Rasberry, last year apparently sprayed pesticides all over the areas where these ants were, they went away for a little while. And then this year came back millions and millions of them. So I don't know if there's a pesticide resistance, but look at this, all these little ants.
CHO: Those tiny things eat fire ants?
ROBERTS: Those little tiny things eat fire ants. They don't sting like a fire ant does. They bite. There's a huge problem down there. Nobody knows what to do. But in Columbia, where there's another variant of these, apparently they've been known to asphyxiate chickens. They have caused problems for livestock, cattle, because they swarm over their eyes and their nostrils.
PHILLIPS: And why exactly is he using his hand to demonstrate?
ROBERTS: Because it's such an effective demonstration. I'm sure if you wanted to go down there and do the story you could use your hand, too.
PHILLIPS: I think I'll pass. Thanks, John.
PHILLIPS: Well, looking to beat the sky high gas prices? Why not ditch the car and try one of the cheapest and greenest ways to commute. Going from four wheels to two.
And just who are the guys with the boxing gloves and bowling pins behind Hillary Clinton's speeches? Jeanne Moos has solved the mystery for all of us right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: For all of you that may not know this, John Roberts bikes to work sometimes. Christiane Amanpour bikes to work. And today is National Bike to Work Day. So why not beat those high gas prices and try to use your pedal power like a lot of our employees. CNN's Allan Chernoff dusting off the bike, hitting the streets right here in New York. He's joining them. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every business day Scott Safier pedals to the office. He's been doing it for two decades. These days he navigates Midtown Manhattan traffic after moving to New York last year for a software job at Google.
SCOTT SAFIER, GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: It takes me 10 minutes to bike to work. If I would take any other means of transportation it would take longer than that.
CHERNOFF: Google encourages staffers to bike, providing a storage room. So does "The New York Times". As gas prices soar, and the ozone layer things, one of the cheapest and greenest ways to commute is on two wheels using the power of your own legs.
PAUL STEELY WHITE, TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES: We're seeing a switch to bicycling as a result of gas prices and our colleagues in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, even Houston are starting to see more and more people taking to their bicycles.
CHERNOFF (on camera): A growing number of people are using pedal power to get to the office. In New York City alone, more than 100,000 bikers, according to Transportation Alternatives.
(Voice over): Driving a typical passenger vehicle costs about 15 cents a mile just for gas. Not only is pedal power free, it's also healthy; a good way to guarantee getting your daily exercise.
LARRY WALLACH, SID'S BIKES: If you ride a bike to work in New York City, you know, you can save over $1,000 a year. Why not save the money and have the fitness?
CHERNOFF: It's a great way to start the day and wake up, especially since you have to be alert riding the streets of New York City. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: And you and I discovered, too, that the head of counter terrorism for the NYPD bikes to work on occasion as well.
PHILLIPS: Here is something else I learned, too. How expensive those bikes are. This one that you have been eyeballing, it's like 11 grand? You're waiting for it to go on sale?
ROBERTS: No. It's just there are certain things that are unattainable. It's like you look at a Ferrari and say wouldn't I love to have one of those one of these days.
ROBERTS: Kind of like the ultimate bicycle that I will never have.
PHILLIPS: OK. I was shocked. It was amazing how much they are. ROBERTS: Well, he couldn't pick up a spare with a wrecking ball. How one of Hillary Clinton's supporters capitalized on Barack Obama's bowling ineptitude with one of the many political props out there on the campaign trail. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: It's 46 minutes now after the hour.
More amazing stories of survival coming out of China today. People are still being found in the rubble four days after the powerful earthquake that hit there. Here you see two students being pulled to safety after being trapped for more than 80 hours in their collapsed school.
We're getting incredible pictures from our I-Reporters in China. Our Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with some of those.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN ONLINE REPORTER: Hey, good morning to you .
You know, pictures, also stories. One from a quake survivor whose name is Ben Geisler, one of our I-Reporters, talking about leaving the city of Chang Ju (ph), heading to the quake's epicenter on his motorcycle. He said everywhere he looked there was traffic. All lanes were headed out of the city. Any gas stations still standing had lines that went on for blocks.
I want to take a moment now to read to you directly from his firsthand account. We're going to show you some pictures as well.
He says, "The extent is unbelievable. Some buildings leveled, others undamaged. People were living everywhere. They were crying. Refugees had camps, were set up amid the Red Cross tend, enormous piles of rubble, garbage. Half destroyed buildings everywhere, some shifting.
Dozens of cranes, dozers, backhoes picking through the rubble and buried bodies in the street. A continuous stream of people with whatever they could salvage walking towards the camps. There's a sense of community, the only armor against the night. Large-scale aid does not seem to have reached the villages.
The quake has destroyed everything they own. The only upside was a girl discovered a freezer with ice cream that had not unthawed. A small miracle."
Now for more on Ben's experience you can of course logon to I- Report.com and to help the victims of the quake go to cnn.com/impact your world.
ROBERTS: We have a live report from china coming up. John Vause is there on the scene. We'll be hearing from our reporters in the region. Kyra.
PHILLIPS: President Bush says that talking to Iran is the same as the efforts to appease the Nazis. Coming up, what could be gained or lost by talk with Iran? Our Christiane Amanpour joins us straight ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: There are so many props in presidential politics this is year. You'd think Carrot Top was running.
ROBERTS: From the bowling pins to the boxing gloves. What's the deal? It's the Moos news in the morning. Here's Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While the pundits parse Hillary's every word --
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Our vision for America --
MOOS: We have something punchier to ponder.
CLINTON: We've had the best time.
MOOS: Props that may not bowl you over, but at least you notice that bowling pin, those boxing gloves. But haven't we seen them somewhere before?
CLINTON: The tide is turning.
MOOS: They showed up in West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania.
CLINTON: Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people --
MOOS: They became a mystery discussed on blogs. What's up with the black guy with boxing gloves? Must be a paid plant. They think you're a Clinton plant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
MOOS: How about the bowling pin?
CLINTON: I believe I am the strongest candidate.
MOOS: The Web site Politico dubbed the pin, prop of the night. The one e-mailer responded, "Spare me".
Well, now we know who the boxing guy is. A New Yorker by the name of Dee Batista, who pays his own way traveling to Hillary rallies all over the place.
MOOS (on camera): Do you just love her?
DEE BATISTA, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I do love her. She inspires me.
MOOS (voice over): The first time he managed to position himself right behind Hillary was luck. Now the campaign knows him and lets him in to the good seats.
MOOS (on camera): Now, has she signed your gloves?
BATISTA: She has. She signed this one right here. And then, Bill signed this one.
MOOS: Dee says the gloves just signify that Hillary is a fighter.
(On camera): Who was the guy with the bowling pin?
BATISTA: The bowling pin? He's actually a friend of mine.
MOOS (voice over): A film student who apparently met Hillary for the first time in a bowling alley. Here we figured the bowling pin was to dis Barack Obama for his lousy bowling game.
MOOS: Bowling pins.
MOOS: Boxing gloves.
(On camera): So what's next? Some guy waving a stick behind Barack Obama?
(Voice over): To signify that Obama knows how to shoot pool even if he can't bowl?
(On camera): Or maybe somebody should stand behind Hillary tossing back shots.
(Voice over): You know, to symbolize she's one with the hard- working, hard-drinking folks. As for those gloves, don't expect to see them on eBay anytime soon. Dee plans to --
BATISTA: I will cherish them forever.
MOOS: Punch drunk over Hillary. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: You know, it is a little dangerous to hold up a bowling pin behind Hillary Clinton. Remember her performance on the "Ellen" program?
PHILLIPS: It's true. You never know what she's going to do. I would never want to get into a fight with Hillary Clinton, I don't think. That would not -- no, no. As I'm hearing the comments from the background -- or drink shots. That could be a whole other issue.
ROBERTS: I don't know.
PHILLIPS: Then again, I'm Irish.
ROBERTS: I'd put you up on that one. You've got my backing.
PHILLIPS: Our quick vote question this morning: Is President Bush right? Is it appeasement for the U.S. to talk with its enemies? Head to cnn.com/am to vote. Right now, 20 percent of you say yes; 80 percent say no. You can also send us an e-mail. How should the U.S. deal with countries such as Iran and North Korea? Again, just go to cnn.com/am and click e-mail us.
Straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, our Christiane Amanpour takes a closer look at the controversy.
PHILLIPS: President Bush expected to land in Saudi Arabia within the next few minutes. It's part of a trip that started in Israel and where the president ignited quite a firestorm back home when he compared those who want to talk with Iran to appeasers of Nazi Germany. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now.
Good morning, good to see you.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
PHILLIPS: Let's listen to what he said. I want to get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals. We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: OK. There's some that say he's talking about Hamas, some say he's talking about Iran. How did you take this?
AMANPOUR: Well, the reaction has been quite stunned because this is quite a harsh thing for an American president to level at a fellow American right in the parliament of those people who survived Hitler's atrocities, is now comparing a fellow American's potential policies to appeasing Hitleresque kind of tendencies.
I think, in general, though what's happening is there is a big debate in the United States, and around the world, how to address America's very real national security concerns vis-a-vis it's adversaries and, indeed, it's allies. There is an increasing drum beat of call to actually engage some countries, from very respectable foreign policy circles here in the United States, to engage Iran, to engage Syria, even to engage Cuba on issues that matter.
To engage North Korea, for instance, because war hasn't worked, people are saying, isolation isn't working. The next step is engagement. But, of course, engagement means not capitulating. Engagement means putting all your issues on the table, preparing the correct framework for negotiations, and getting on with it.
PHILLIPS: Let's talk about Iran, one example. Because all these organizations have come up since these comments have been made, and without getting into -- yeah, every single one of them -- let's take Iran because you know Iran.
Obama has talked about sitting down and talking with the president of Iran. The president of the United States says, No, this is the axis of evil. Cannot do this.
General David Petraeus, head of the war in Iraq says, Iran is funneling weapons into this country. We can't negotiate with these people. Yet, I mean, if you look at history and the U.S. meeting with the Russians at the height of the Cold War, what makes this different? Because it has happened before where we have sat down with these countries that are threats.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and look right now at what's happening. North Korea is being engaged. That was one of President Bush's axis of evil countries, but it's being engaged and quite successfully according to U.S. nuclear negotiators. There's progress being made on the nuclear negotiations.
And let's call a spade a spade. Iran is also being engaged. The Europeans, Russia, the other allies are engaging Iran trying to move the nuclear diplomacy forward and to try to disable Iran's nuclear program. Now the United States is not directly involved, but, for instance, the United States did hold some negotiations with Iranian officials over Iraq and what's going on in Iraq. That is subsequently broken down.
Iran and the United States did engage through different parties but also side by side over Afghanistan during the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, and Iran was considered to be helpful in the ultimate resolution of the invasion of Afghanistan and the creation of a pro- Western government in