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American Morning

Hillary Clinton Takes the Stage Tonight to Urge Supporters to Back Obama; Michelle Obama and Sen. Ted Kennedy Speaks in Primetime; Interview With Maya Soetoro-Ng; Obama Threat Downplayed; Religion Playing a Big Role at the Democratic Convention

Aired August 26, 2008 - 06:00   ET





CHETRY: Hillary Clinton gets the floor to mark a milestone. Tonight the Democrats hoping to unite a party by showing just how divided it was.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: CLINTON: We were not all on the same side as Democrats. But we are now.


CHETRY: Plus the highlights from Michelle Obama's night in prime time.


MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is why I love this country.


CHETRY: And brain cancer not stopping Ted Kennedy.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: To elect Barack Obama president of the United States.


CHETRY: It's day two of the Democratic National Convention, live in Denver, on the "Most Politics in the Morning."

And welcome. Thanks so much for being with us on this Tuesday, August 26th. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York. Hey, John. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning to you, Kiran. I'm John Roberts live in Denver at the Democratic National Convention where it is a very special day not just here in Denver but across the United States. In fact, around the world from the hills of Katmandu to the street of New York, everybody is celebrating Kiran's birthday.

Happy birthday, Kiran.

CHETRY: Thank you, John. Thank you. 29 forever. I love it.

ROBERTS: Oh, there you go. Yes, I'm celebrating that for about the 40th time myself. Hey, best wishes. Happiest returns on this day.

CHETRY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Let's get right to the news this morning. This is the nominating convention for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But tonight all eyes are going to be on Hillary Clinton to see how she sells the Democratic Party's new ticket.

Clinton has been out on the trail stumping for Obama and while in Denver she again insisted that she is on board and took a swipe at John McCain, saying that she does not approve of his ads featuring her past attacks on Obama.

CHETRY: The Democrats did not come out swinging against John McCain last night. Instead, two of their biggest guns, Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama tried to reintroduce America to the man they will hopefully -- they're hoping will become the next president.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux takes a look at some of the highlights from day one in Denver.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Opening night at the Democratic National Convention. Michelle Obama took her critics head on to those who questioned her patriotism.

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: The thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. And you see that is why I love this country.

MALVEAUX: Or accused her and her husband of being elitist.

OBAMA: Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values. Like you work hard for what you want in life.

MALVEAUX: Obama also tried to win over Hillary Clinton's diehard supporters by giving their candidate a nod.

OBAMA: People like Hillary Clinton...


...who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling so that our daughters and our sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

MALVEAUX: Earlier in the day, tributes to Democratic icons -- former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. And a dramatic appearance by Senator Ted Kennedy who is undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Where's Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.

MALVEAUX: The climax, Barack Obama via satellite thanking the delegates and sharing a moment with his wife and daughters.



Now you know why I asked her out so many times even though she said no. You want a persistent president.


B. OBAMA: Love you guys.


MALVEAUX: Today Hillary Clinton will take center stage to lend her support to Barack Obama. It's expected that she'll release her delegates to vote for who they wish in the days to come to promote party unity -- Kiran, John.

ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning. Suzanne, thanks.

Tonight the star attraction, Hillary Clinton, is going to take the stage and address the Democratic National Convention. Barack Obama's one-time rival is expected to urge her millions of supporters to unite and rally behind their party's nominee. But many are still feeling a little bit bruised after a bitter primary battle.

CNN's Dana Bash joins me now live. And you talk to some of these people yesterday and they do still harbor some pretty bitter feelings.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They sure do. You know, they say that these days conventions aren't about drama and they're just made for TV events. While in Denver we do have drama. And tonight we will really have drama when Hillary Clinton takes the stage.

And what everybody on this floor will be looking for and people watching in their living rooms back home is just how forceful and just how believable Hillary Clinton will be when she makes the case for her former rival.


BASH (voice-over): Hillary Clinton must convince Denver Democrats she's now in it for Obama to win it.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: And now I ask each and every one of you to work as hard for Barack and Joe Biden as you worked for me.

BASH: Clinton's first convention audience was her home state political army, the New York delegation. She pleaded with them to be good soldiers.

CLINTON: We were not all on the same side as Democrats. But we are now. We are united and we are together and we are determined.

BASH: A sneak preview of her much anticipated convention speech and a signal she knows what's expected of her. Preach unity and deliver it like she means it.

CLINTON: This is Barack Obama's convention as it should be. And there is no doubt that what we are doing is trying to bring everybody together with the same level of commitment that I certainly feel so that we can leave Denver unified.

HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTERS: Let the delegates vote!

BASH: But some angry Hillary supporters protesting outside the hall want no part of unity. And John McCain's campaign is eager to stoke it. Showcasing in Denver, the Clinton turned McCain supporter in a new anti-Obama ad.

DEBRA BARTOSHEVICH, CLINTON SUPPORTER FOR MCCAIN: I know there are more delegates. I spoke to a lot of delegates who are in the same position I am in, but they are not ready to come out yet. I do believe they will come out after the convention.

CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve that message.

BASH: But with polls showing more and more Clinton voters turning towards McCain, this may be her most important message of all.

CLINTON: Electing John McCain would be a mistake for our country. That is the overriding reality. And anyone who voted for me has so much more in common with Senator Obama than they will ever have with Senator McCain and the Republican Party.


BASH: Now, the reality is, after spending the better part of a year, John, making the case that Barack Obama's economic policies are bad, that he's not up to snuff when it comes to health care, that he's basically not ready to be commander in chief, it's going to be pretty hard for her to make the case for him on those things with a straight face.

So what we're told she's going to do is spend a lot of time leveling blistering attacks against John McCain and saying, you know what, he would be a lot worse than the alternative, Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: Maybe things will start to heat up tonight because certainly some pundits were saying that last night fell a little bit flat for the most part, with the exception of Michelle Obama.

BASH: Yes. I don't think we'll see flat with Hillary Clinton.

ROBERTS: All right.

BASH: Just a guess.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to what she has to say tonight. Dana Bash, thanks so much.

BASH: Thank you.


CHETRY: Well, Democrats now have a formal party platform in place reflecting Barack Obama's priorities and policies. It backs a complete redeployment within 16 months from Iraq, also calls for affordable health care for every American and a new economic stimulus package. As well, tax increases for families making more than $250,000 a year.

That platform also acknowledges Hillary Clinton's historic White House bid, crediting her with "putting 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling." It's a reference to the 18 million votes cast for Clinton in the primary.

Well, the U.S. attorney in Denver is downplaying a possible threat targeting Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention. Police in Aurora, Colorado, arrested these three men after officers found rifles and drugs during a traffic stop Sunday. Police say they alerted the Feds because of the heightened security surrounding the convention.


DET. MARCUS DUDLEY, AURORA POLICE DEPT: The vehicle that he was driving was not listed or registered to him. It was a rental car. It was not rented in his name. He has no known address where he can be contacted here. According to information that we've gathered from him, the ammunition, the weapons, clearly that would give one great concern.


CHETRY: Police described it as a "methamphetamine and firearms case." But they say they are investigating whether these suspects threatened someone at the convention.

Well, Michelle Obama takes the big stage. She reintroduced herself to the country and to the world. How did she do? Our political panel weighs in.

ROBERTS: Warmup to her.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was only six years ago when Michelle and I were still living in a small, overcrowded condo.


ROBERTS: Before the big show in Denver, a preview on the trail. Jim Acosta on what to expect.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values. Like you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them and even if you don't agree with them.


ROBERTS: Michelle Obama got a thumbs up from her husband after last night's speech. But was she able to reintroduce the Obama family to voters?

Let's bring in our panel this morning for the first time. Leslie Sanchez, Republican analyst and CNN political contributor; Patricia Murphy, who's the editor of; and John Avlon, independent political analyst and author of "Independent Nation." Everybody just wide awake this morning and rocking and ready to go here, right?


ROBERTS: We're fooling ourselves a little bit. It was a very late night last night.

Let me ask you, Patricia, why don't we start with you. Did Michelle Obama connect with the audience here and at large who were watching on television in the way that she needed to? Did she illuminate what her family's values are, what their goals are, who they really are?

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: Yes. I think that she did, actually. And I have seen her speak many times in smaller groups and people, particularly women, walk away from there really liking her a lot and liking Barack Obama more than they did when they walked into the room to hear her speak. And then in the last couple of months, certainly she had a lot of negative press. And that really was not the side of Michelle Obama that we saw.

I thought that last night we did see that, and I thought one line of her speech really summed it up when she said the American dream endures. She wants people to understand that Barack Obama is not only literally American but quintessentially a part of the American dream. That's their message and that's what they did last night.

ROBERTS: John, for independents who might be sitting on the fence, what did they take away from last night?

JOHN AVLON, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they saw someone who stepped up the plate and gave a motive, pitch perfect speech. She did what she needed to do. She erased the stain of the "I'm proud of my country" comment. And she really endured herself to the American people as a wife, as a mother, as someone who believes in the virtues of hard work, someone who's a gen-ex figure who, you know, recites the Brady Bunch, you know, from her childhood. But someone who really, really I think transcended a lot of the labels that have been put on her.

You know, the Democratic first lady is going to have a hard time in American politics. Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Kitty Dukakis, Teresa Heinz Kerry. These can become political lightning rods. And what Michelle Obama did last night is really rise up and establish herself as a quintessential American.

ROBERTS: What do you think, Leslie? She did say it, and it was a big applause line in her speech last night, I love my country. That's why I love my country. Did she erase any questions about her patriotism that have been brought up in her earlier statement?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think she started to. She started that dialogue. You know, it's unfortunate she has to go there to talk about patriotism. You shouldn't have to have a presidential candidate and his wife, they're trying to prove that they're patriotic enough that America is first.

And if you think back to the 1950s, it was America first, America right always. You know, and it's that idea, do they agree with that mentality? I think a lot of people are looking at that.

I applaud her. She accomplished key milestones. She had to say, look, it's someone like me. You know, you are someone like me. We agree with that.

She gave homage to Hillary Clinton. She talked about the feminist movement, equal rights for equal work. You know, equal pay for equal work. She talked about ending the Iraq war. That's something her husband wants to do.

You know, and she definitely laid the groundwork. But there were some contrasting images. She comes out here in a cocktail dress and I know there were a lot of women...

ROBERTS: Oh, oh -- SANCHEZ: ... and I will put it out there. There were a lot of women who said why is she wearing a cocktail dress when she's trying to look like the first lady.

MURPHY: I thought she looked great. I don't know. I didn't have that reaction at all. I mean it was a festive evening. She came out. I think to come out in a business suit would have been a little unusual. But I think she needed to come across honestly as soft and I think that was why.

We've heard some criticism of the evening as not being hard- hitting enough and not going after the Republicans. You cannot have Michelle Obama on a stage and have a hard-hitting night at the same time.

ROBERTS: Yes. I don't think anybody was expecting her to attack.



MURPHY: I liked her dress.

SANCHEZ: No. But it's the images --


ROBERTS: We have to run for now.

SANCHEZ: It's the images of the first lady. That's for our fashion, guys.

ROBERTS: We'll bring our fashion consultant. All right.


Leslie, Patricia, John, thanks. We'll see you again real soon.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Michelle Obama is an attorney by trade. Here's an "AM EXTRA" look now at how she stacks up against some recent first ladies.

The current first lady, Laura Bush, was a teacher and a librarian. Hillary Clinton was also an attorney before getting into politics. Nancy Reagan was an actress with the stage name Nancy Davis.

Rosalynn Carter ran the family peanut farm for a time. Betty Ford worked at fashion and taught dance. And Pat Nixon was also a teacher -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, Barack Obama trying to lay out his plan for the future. But instead, he's being dogged by questions of the past and his one-time rival. Getting to know Obama.


MAYA SOETORO-NG, BARACK OBAMA'S SISTER: Here's a man who's like all of us.


CHETRY: Insight from someone who knows him well.


MAYA SOETORO-NG, BARACK OBAMA'S SISTER: He can actually be quite funny, self-deprecating. He likes quiet time.


CHETRY: Sitting down with Obama's sister. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." New video this morning of Barack Obama who is watching last night's festivities from the home of some supporters in Missouri. Obama later appeared on the big screen by satellite after his wife's speech.

And as Barack Obama continues to barnstorm the Midwest, he still finds himself answering questions about Hillary Clinton and why she's not on his ticket.

CNN's Jim Acosta is following the Obama campaign. He joins us live from Kansas City as well.

You know, it was the big night. The kick off of the convention and he's still answering those types of questions. Was Hillary on your short list?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kiran. And Barack Obama's making a pit stop at this American Airlines hangar in Kansas City to spend some time to talk about how this industry has been hit hard in these tough economic times. And Senator Obama thought this week was going to be all about him. Instead, he's having to take time out to talk about her.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm trying to prepare for this week's convention.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Barack Obama would like to start thinking about tomorrow. But instead, he's getting tripped up on the past and whether he ever seriously considered Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

OBAMA: I will repeat again that Senator Clinton would have been on anybody's short list. And so I took her very seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But was she on yours?

OBAMA: I think you can draw that conclusion.

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, Obama was trying to stay on his message of change.

OBAMA: Are we going to do the same things that got us into this mess in the first place, or are we going to try something different? And I think it is time for us to try something new. That's what I believe.

ACOSTA: Despite the distractions, the Democratic contender is still out to flip some electoral real estate from red to blue, zeroing in on three states captured by the Republicans in 2004, Iowa, Missouri and Montana.

First came Iowa, where the senator spent less time defining John McCain and more time defining himself. A preview of the biography portion of this week's convention.

OBAMA: It was only six years ago when Michelle and I were still living in a small, overcrowded condo. We're still in debt for our student loans. We went to school on scholarships.

ACOSTA: He even delved into the sometimes tragic life story of his running mate, Joe Biden.

OBAMA: He raised two kids, two sons and a daughter. Despite having gone through the tragedy of losing his first wife and his infant daughter in a car accident, Joe Biden understands what you're going through because he's gone through it.


ACOSTA: And after Missouri, Barack Obama will head off to Montana, a state that hasn't gone democratic since 1992 when Bill Clinton won there by just 10,000 votes. And, Kiran, I have to tell you, while we were watching Barack Obama yesterday, you got the sense that they thought they were in control of this message talking about these biographies for Barack Obama and Joe Biden after they were talking about John McCain so much over the weekend. And yet there they were out on this tarmac after that event yesterday in Davenport, Iowa, talking about Hillary Clinton -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. And we'll see what happens tonight. You know, it's her big speech. And we'll see if her words go a long way to help with the unity of the party. Thanks a lot, Jim.

ACOSTA: You bet.

ROBERTS: It's coming up now on 23 minutes after the hour. A family night in Denver. Barack Obama's half sister also addressed the convention delegates. I had the chance to speak with her and find out what it's like to have a brother running for president. Plus, see how Democrats are looking to level the praying field. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



MAYA SOETORO-NG, BARACK OBAMA'S SISTER: I know he'll help you realize your dreams just as he's helped me realize mine. I know we'll make our mothers proud. And together we'll leave for our children a better, stronger nation.


ROBERTS: That was Barack Obama's half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng addressing delegates at the Democratic Convention. I had the chance to sit down with her earlier in the day. And I asked her what her brother, the candidate, was like growing up.


MAYA SOETORO-NG, BARACK OBAMA'S SISTER: He was sort of a regular kid. He loved to body surf and play basketball and hang out with his buddies. And he wasn't particularly studious, but he was, I think, exceptionally smart.

ROBERTS: When did you first get a sense that he wanted to run for president, that he had something grand to do with his life or at least try to do?

SOETORO-NG: He was in his office in Chicago. And I came in and I said to him, you know, how are you, sweetie. And he said, well, I'm all right.

He said, I'm feeling a little frustrated, though. I feel like there's something I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not. Some place where I'm supposed to be heading. I feel like I'm -- I'm not listening hard enough for my call and I'm floundering a little bit.

And I laughed at him because, I said, you're the only guy who could be a civil rights lawyer, a constitutional law professor and a state senator and feel like you're underachieving, right?

ROBERTS: You know, the talk of the early part of this convention has been that Hillary Clinton voters, and a lot of them women, haven't yet warmed up to him. Twenty-seven percent of Hillary Clinton supporters say that they would vote for John McCain.

You know, he grew up with a mother. Father was absent; his grandmother as well. What did he learn from that experience and how might he apply it to try to reach out to those Hillary Clinton voters, those women who aren't yet convinced that he's the person to vote for?

SOETORO-NG: Well, what I would say is, you know, this is a man who had a mother, who went and helped women and children all over the world, as well as in this country. This is a man who married Michelle Obama, who is an incredibly strong woman who earns a man's respect and will stand side by side as an equal partner.

This is a man who obviously is not afraid of strong women. This is a man who has fought for women's health issues, who is raising two beautiful girls. And everything that he does, he does to some degree, at least, for them. And he has fought for and he has a perfect record across the board if you take a look at the issues.

ROBERTS: Tell us something about him that we don't know.

SOETORO-NG: He can actually be quite funny. He can be very self-deprecating. He is also a rather meditative guy sometimes. He likes quiet time and he likes to reflect and take long walks. And he likes --

ROBERTS: What do you say to people who seem to think that maybe it's a misperception here, that that sort of attitude makes him appear elitist and aloof?

SOETORO-NG: No. I would say that here is a man who -- here's a man who's like all of us, who has, you know, spent some time mining his own heart and his own mind. Here is a man who likes a good laugh. And, you know, a good game of scrabble and a good basketball game and has spent a lot of time in the trenches, who understands where we come from, what it is that we need. And the various ways in which we have felt, I think distance from our government for a long time.


ROBERTS: That was Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama's half sister. And in case you're wondering, they share the same mother. His father is Kenyan, her father Indonesian.

Just about 30 minutes past the hour now and we're gearing up this morning for Hillary Clinton's big speech tonight. The Democrats are determined to make this moment about unity. The Clinton supporters are feeling awfully bruised. So, tonight it's Clinton's night to heal them and make her case for Senator Obama. But that may be easier said than done. Check out this heated exchange between two Clinton supporters caught by one of CNN's IReporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a Hillary delegate and I'm going to get behind Obama, and Obama is going to make a great president. And if McCain becomes the next president, this country is going into turmoil. And it's people like you is why Democrats keep losing elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's people like the Democratic Party (INAUDIBLE).


ROBERTS: Well, Clinton's speech tonight also marks an important milestone. It is the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote -- the establishment of the 19th Amendment -- Kiran. CHETRY: All right, John, thanks. Well, all eyes, of course, will be on Hillary Clinton tonight. Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, got the convention party started with her primetime address last night. Michelle Obama telling delegates and the nation why her husband should be the next president.


MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA: It's what he did all those years ago in Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe, working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It's what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard-working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.


It's what he's done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure that the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care including mental health care.


See, that's why Barack's running -- to end the war in Iraq responsibly...

(APPLAUSE) build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education, all the way from preschool to college.


That is what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America.



CHETRY: Barack Obama told his wife that she was, quote, "unbelievable" after the speech, appearing via satellite from Kansas City. And of course, John, as Roland Martin alluded to yesterday, they call her the closer for a reason. She's cool as a cucumber out there speaking in front of the throngs, thousands of people out there and she appeared very calm.

ROBERTS: You can imagine the butterflies that you would have doing that for the very first time.

CHETRY: Right. ROBERTS: You know, some of these seasoned politicians, like when we see Joe Biden get up there, he's -- I guess you could say, used to that. But for her, the first time in an environment like this, in a venue like this, she was very calm, cool and collected. I think you're absolutely right.

Hey, lots more going on here beside the speeches and some of it not good. We're learning new details this morning about what authorities first thought was a threat against Senator Barack Obama. Police arrested three people not far from the convention center. They say that the men were armed with rifles, boxes of ammunition and drugs.

CNN's Joe Johns is following security here at the DNC convention. He joins me now.

What was this all about?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we can say is the authorities are investigating a possible threat against Senator Obama. How credible a threat that is, is another matter. This morning the United States Attorney's Office told CNN, "We can say this: We're absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention, or the people of Colorado."

What we know is that at least three men, possibly four, have been arrested in the Denver area on firearm and methamphetamine charges. Police said one of those men was driving a rented truck with at least two rifles in it and a scope. Police said they also found a bullet- proof vest and walkie-talkies. Police said a second man jumped out of a sixth floor hotel room window when they went to visit him.

Now, there are at least two reasons why this story sounds a little shaky. A source tells CNN that one of the men arrested said that one of the other men had threatened Senator Obama. So that's not necessarily a reliable statement of fact.

The other big problem for authorities is that drugs are involved. Methamphetamine. The authorities say they simply do not know whether this was serious or whether it was, quote, "some methed-up yahoos high on drugs talking out of their heads." Nonetheless, authorities appear to be taking it very seriously.


DETECTIVE MARCUS DUDLEY, AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Clearly, we feel that there are federal implications. Otherwise, we would not have notified those agencies. Beyond that, I can't elaborate because, again, the investigation is ongoing at the federal level. And with an event that is as large as the one that is going on in Denver, and the security implications associated with that, it would be inappropriate for members of our agency to be talking about where they are with their investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JOHNS: The U.S. Attorney's Office has scheduled a news conference for later today. Perhaps we'll get some more idea on what this is.

ROBERTS: Well, did you know how they caught wind of this?

JOHNS: Yes. Apparently, a guy was driving this pickup truck around in the Aurora area and he was swerving. And the police officer apparently thought he was intoxicated, pulled him over, one thing led to the other. The authorities tell us they believe he was actually, quote, unquote, "methed up."

ROBERTS: All right.

JOHNS: But that's, again, allegedly and we'll hear more this afternoon.

ROBERTS: Well, you'll be watching this story later on today as it unfolds. Joe Johns, thanks very much.

Outside of the confines of the convention center, security is extraordinarily tight. Last night a number of demonstrators marched to protest the war in Iraq and Barack Obama's nomination. The gathering brought out a heightened police presence. There are reports that several people were arrested -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, issue number one and the election season. How do the candidates plan to jump start the down economy? Ali Velshi takes a look at what they're saying about the taxes you pay.

ROBERTS: Finding faith.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats had a wake-up call and said what are we doing wrong?


ROBERTS: Prayer and politics. Mary Snow looks at the Democrats' new game plan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they really want are the moderate evangelicals.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." You know, this year religion is playing a big role at the Democratic convention with the Democrats hoping to capture religious voters who have typically gone to the GOP. CNN's Mary Snow joins us now with more on this.

Hi, Mary. Good to see you this morning.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Kiran. Happy birthday.

CHETRY: Thank you.

SNOW: You know, you may have noticed the opening prayers at the convention at each session. There are also faith caucuses being offered on the agenda in Denver. This is all part of an effort by Democrats to widen the party's tent.


SNOW (voice-over): Here's something you didn't see at the last Democratic convention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord, you're my healer.

SNOW: A choir singing about the lord. Pastors and priests and Imam and Rabbi leading in interfaith rally.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: What you're seeing from the Democrats is a real effort to make sure that religion is key in the Democratic Party.

SNOW: And that's a break from the past. In the 2004, Democrats shied away from using faith as part of their pitch. But when Evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics helped get George Bush elected, Democrats took note.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats had a wake up call and said what are we doing wrong.

SNOW: Erick Sap (ph) is consulting the party on religious issues. He says Democrats are speaking more openly about values. Case in point, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, a Catholic who opposes abortion is addressing the convention. His father, the late Governor Bob Casey was denied a speaking role at the 1992 convention because of his opposition to abortion rights. Democrats are appealing to faith- based groups not voting solely on abortion but also broader concepts such as war, poverty, and the environment.

BRODY: What they really want are the moderate Evangelicals and some of the more moderate Catholics that have a concern about the life issue but also see it much broader than that.

SNOW: Mixing prayer and politics carries some risks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most voters want to hear about where our values come from. There is always a danger as you're engaging this area. And you're walking along a nice edge.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: And a recent poll underscores the work Democrats have cut out for them in making inroads with religious voter. The Pew Research Center finds preferences particularly of white Evangelicals have not changed much since 2004 -- Kiran.

CHETRY: You know, a big part of that is the abortion platform and, you know, in the Democratic Party platform it's still pro-choice. So, how does someone like Bob Casey fit into that and try to bring more people into the tent?

SNOW: You know, we met up with him in Pennsylvania the other day. I was asking him about that. And he said, look, there are always going to be voters who are very firm on the abortion issue that they're not going to get into the tent. But his message is -- what he's trying to do is say the tent is big enough. There are broader issues. There are other issues that voters have to take into consideration.

CHETRY: And he's speaking tonight.

SNOW: Yes.

CHETRY: Mary Snow, good to see you. Thanks so much.

SNOW: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, here's a closer look at the evangelical vote. An "A.M. Extra" for you now. According to exit polls from 2004 of the people who said they were evangelical or Born Again Christians, 78 percent voted for George Bush. 78 percent to 21 percent for John Kerry. In 2000, 80 percent of voters who identified themselves as part of the religious right voted for George W. Bush, 18 percent for Al Gore -- John.

ROBERTS: It's 43-1/2 minutes after the hour, Kiran. This election season issue number one is the economy and your pocketbook. Find out what the candidates want to do to jump start the down economy. Our Ali Velshi takes a look at what they're saying about the taxes that we all must pay.

CHETRY: Divided Dems. The Clinton insider who's now backing Barack live with Bill Richardson getting the party to rally around the nominee. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Tropical Storm Fay has soaked Florida ruining thousands of homes, ruining thousands of homes, most of them belonging to John McCain.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Jay Leno taking a late night jab at John McCain who was his guest, by the way. And now for a look at what both McCain and Obama are saying about hot pocketbook issues, taxes. Ali Velshi joins us with more on that.

How? Depending on who gets elected. How will it affect your pocketbook or in your case your man bank.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: My bank. I'm so glad you ask me this. Because we spend so much attention on energy and gas prices and even mortgages. And we will talk about those things because they are important. But the bottom line is for the long-term prosperity of the country and you and your kids.

Taxes are actually a very, very important issue. John McCain and Barack Obama differ very clearly on the issue of taxes. Let's start with Barack Obama. The first thing he'll do is he will keep the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 in place for low and middle income earners. But he is planning to repeal those tax cuts or let them expire for those at the higher end of the income scale defined at those earning $250,000 or more. So if you are earning that much money, you are going to pay more taxes. Whether you call that an increase or repeal of the tax cuts.

There's also -- one of his plans is to have no income tax at all for seniors who earn less than $50,000 a year. There's more to his tax plan. But these are some of the highlights. I'm going to tell you what John McCain's highlights are. He's going to keep those Bush tax cuts in place for low and middle income earners like Barack Obama is, but he is in fact going to keep them in place for all earners, even those earning more than $250,000.

So his argument is that you're not going to pay any more income tax under John McCain at all. He's also going to phase out the Alternative Minimum Tax, which some of you fall into, as you know. That's been creeping up and getting more and more Americans. It was designed for a tax on the filthy rich. And that's turned out not to be the case.

He's also planning on cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and doing other things to give businesses an incentive to invest more in research and development and to hire more people. So his emphasis is on business in terms of creating jobs.

I'm going to be back in the next hour to talk about their stance on the mortgage crisis and, in fact, on jobs. What they're going to do for working Americans.

CHETRY: Sounds good. Ali, thanks -- John.

ROBERTS: It's a scene that art link letter would love. Convention delegates do the darndest thing, as we're going to take a look at some of the unconventional moments from the Democratic gathering in Denver.

CHETRY: Stage shock. Madonna takes on McCain. Alina Cho shares us the video that has both campaigns fighting back. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." We are live at the Pepsi Center this morning. Democratic delegates a mile high here in Denver. And it seems that anyone thirsting for a cola at this Denver convention will find out that there was nothing Democratic about their choice. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos with an unconventional moment.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): No Coke sold at this convention. It's Pepsi that's on everybody's lips, and clothes. Pepsi paid a reported 68 million bucks to hang its name here for 20 years.

ROBERTS: The Pepsi Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The look inside the Pepsi Center.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Live pictures from inside the Pepsi Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside. I want to be inside the Pepsi Center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come alive. You're in the Pepsi generation.

MOOS: And doesn't that Pepsi logo remind you of Senator Obama's?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in the Pepsi generation.

MOOS: With an unconventional moment, I'm Jeanne Moos.


CHETRY: Uniter or divider? Democrats hold their breath as former President Bill Clinton prepares to hit the stage.

And picking at the scab.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat. Now in a first for me I'm supporting a Republican.


CHETRY: The McCain camp sees 18 million opportunities.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Hillary Clinton and I do not approve that message. (END VIDEO CLIP)


CHETRY: There you go. Beautiful shot of the Denver skyline and some look outside at the stadium, Pepsi Center there. This is from earlier. I think yesterday. But today it's about 68 degrees, partly cloudy. There's a live look right now. And quite early. Still about five minutes before 5:00 in Denver.

Well, tonight, it's Hillary's turn. The Democratic runner up gets her moment in the spotlight as Hillary Clinton addresses convention goers in Denver. Republicans are already turning her own words against Barack Obama.

And joining me now, Republican strategist Ed Rollins. Good to see you.


CHETRY: Good morning. You know, this is the new 3:00 a.m. ad that was released again by the McCain campaign. She's the headlining speaker still amidst some discord over why she wasn't picked as vice president or her supporters having some trouble coming into the tent for Barack Obama. So, let's listen to how McCain is trying to capitalize on that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. And your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone? Rogue nations. Radicalism.

CLINTON: I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House and Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary is right.


CHETRY: Will these ads really get Hillary supporters to back McCain.

ROLLINS: Well, I think it will. I think, you know, it's not going to be overwhelming Hillary supporters. But all you need is 10 percent, 15 percent defection among Democrats. And that's enough to win the presidency. Why McCain has tied right today is because of Hillary's defections.

CHETRY: She said yesterday I'm Hillary Clinton. I do not endorse these ads. Or, you know, is this going to backfire.

ROLLINS: Well, the message that she gave whether she endorses the ad or not, the message that she gave, that she's not ready for prime time is a message that Republicans are going to run with. He does not have the experience. He's got a thin resume. He decided on day one when he became a senator to start running. So, even though he's been in the Senate for three years he's been running non-stop for president.

So I think a lot of people in this very troubled time are very concerned about his foreign policy and his commander in chief credentials.

CHETRY: Do you think she'll be able to capitalize on that. He'll be able to capitalize on maybe a small portion of Hillary voters?

ROLLINS: That's all it takes. And the bottom line, if you get one out of three, one out of four, one out of five of those voters that makes a significant difference in the final analysis.

CHETRY: Your Republican effort -- have you been to a ton of these conventions. You probably helped with even many more. What did you think of last night, because there's some grumbling even among Democrats that maybe this convention last night didn't quite hit the mark?

ROLLINS: It was a wasted night. I mean, obviously Mrs. Obama gave a great speech and you got to know a little bit more about her and it was a great night for Kennedy folks who obviously have great admiration for him. But it was not a speech that promoted or moved forward the agenda that this man is capable of being president.

CHETRY: John McCain meantime last night was on Jay Leno. We have a little clip from that where he was asked by Jay Leno about his gaffe when he couldn't name -- or couldn't remember the number of homes he had. Let's listen.


MCCAIN: I spent 5-1/2 years in a prison cell without -- I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table. I didn't have a chair. And I spent those 5-1/2 years because -- not because I wanted to get a house when I got out.


CHETRY: Not to take anything away from his time as a P.O.W. But Maureen Dowd in "The New York Times" on Sunday said his campaign is cheapening his greatest strength in making a mockery of his already dubious claim that he's reticent to talk about his P.O.W. experience by flashing the P.O.W. card to rebut any criticism, no matter how unrelated."

Is there a danger in bringing up his times of P.O.W. too much.

ROLLINS: I don't think being a hero is ever an endangerment. And I think that made him who he is today. Now, obviously, as it reflects on the houses and all the rest of it -- the houses aren't his, they're his wife. John McCain has never been anybody who left the Senate, who not made money, never took his hero coat, who not made money.

He married someone who had a lot of money, inherited a lot of money. Does he live in her houses, yes. It's her lifestyle. His lifestyle is working very hard as a United States senator as he has for many, many years.

CHETRY: Is that the answer you would give. Is that what you would tell him to respond to when he was asked about the house?

ROLLINS: That's certainly the answer I would give.

CHETRY: Ed Rollins, we'll see you a little bit later on the hour. Thanks for being with us.


ROLLINS: Great. My pleasure. Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: It's coming up to the top of the hour now. And coming to you live from Denver, Colorado, in the Pepsi Center. It is day two of the Democratic National Convention. Good morning. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us.

Ahead this hour, we're going to talk live with New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson about whether the Democratic Party can mend itself after the cut throat primaries and Senator Obama's intense rivalry with Hillary Clinton.

Also, are you better off now than you were eight years ago? And would a Democrat in the White House bring better times? We'll take a look at that issue, issue number one on the campaign.

Plus, Madonna's controversial video comparing John McCain with Adolf Hitler and genocidal dictator Robert Mugabe. Our Alina Cho is following that story.

But for now, let's send it back to Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks.