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American Morning

Texas on Alert for Hurricane Ike; Pentagon Unveiling a New 9/11 Memorial; Barack Obama and John McCain Targeting the Battleground States; Candidates Position on Trade

Aired September 10, 2008 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're crossing the top of the hour. Some of the top stories we're following for you right now. Residents across Texas are on standby as Hurricane Ike picks up steam over the warm waters of the Gulf. Emergency officials say buses are ready to go in case they need to evacuate a million people from the Rio Grande Valley.
U.S. intelligence experts are looking into North Korea leader Kim Jong-Il's health, and whether or not he may have suffered a stroke. Now the 66-year-old has not been seen in public in weeks and, more curious, he did not appear at yesterday's military parade which marked North Korea's 60th anniversary. North Korean officials deny reports that their leader is seriously ill.

And the U.S. and Pakistan shifting strategies in the search for the Osama Bin Laden. According to a report in the "Washington Post" this morning, the two governments will now rely more heavily on unmanned armed drones. Attacks from the predator drones over western Pakistan have more than tripled in the past year.

And the Pentagon this morning unveiling a new 9/11 memorial. The memorial consists of 184 benches, each bearing the name of the victims who died when American Airlines' flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon seven years ago tomorrow.

Barack Obama not impressed by President Bush's plan to bring home 8,000 troops from Iraq by February. And he used it as political ammunition against his opponent saying John McCain just wants four more years of President Bush's foreign policy.

Suzanne Malveaux is covering the Obama campaign this morning and has more for us from Washington.

Hi, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. Well, I've been on the campaign trail with Barack Obama in this kind of small, rural communities. Yesterday, we were in southwest Virginia. Earlier in the week, Pennsylvania, Ohio. The one thing that he's trying to do is to stay on message. To use what worked in the past, that is to focus on the war, change, and the issues.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Barack Obama who has been running on his opposition to the Iraq war slammed President Bush's plan to bring home 8,000 U.S. troops by February. Too little, too late, he said, to fix the mess in Iraq and fight the terrorists in Afghanistan.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Bush also announced additional troops for Afghanistan. I'm glad that the president is moving in the direction of the policy that I've advocated for years. His plan comes up short. It is not enough troops, not enough resource, with not enough urgency.

MALVEAUX: Obama seized on the announcement to link his opponent to the unpopular war.

OBAMA: Senator McCain goes even further than President Bush in opposing the sovereign Iraqi government's own support for a timetable to redeploy our troops while offering no plan to pres the Iraqis to reconcile.

MALVEAUX: Obama also went after John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin over their portrayal as the real agents of change. But he argued, it works in his favor.

OBAMA: The Republican Party which had been trying to make an argument about experience basically got off that and came to our field, and they realized that this is going to be a change election. That's a debate we welcome.

MALVEAUX: In Riverside, Ohio, Obama highlighted how he would change the country's education system.

OBAMA: I want experimentation, but I also want accountability.

MALVEAUX: His agenda includes investing in early childhood education, doubling funding for successful charter schools, providing $4,000 tax credits for students doing community service and increasing training and pay for teachers.


MALVEAUX: And on top of that, fund the government's existing program, No Child Left Behind. Reward those good schools. So, the big question, of course, Kiran, is how is he going to pay for all of this? Well, Obama brings it back to Iraq. He says getting out will save the $10 billion the United States is paying for the war each month.


CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.

MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.


CHETRY: All right, Suzanne Malveaux for us in Washington today. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Sarah Palin hitting a home run with her fellow Republicans. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calling her a, quote, "feisty good-looking woman." And a real asset to John McCain.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I think that their campaign has been energized. I think they are making all the right moves. I think that she has brought a lot of, you know, kind of energy and spice to the campaign that people are turning out by the tens of thousands to see them, which is terrific.

I think it was very clear that now it's becoming kind of her campaign, you know, with Obama totally reacting to her rather than to McCain. So, that really has thrown everything off. And it's exactly what they wanted. So, this is really good, I think, for the Republicans.


ROBERTS: Well, both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are targeting a handful of states that may decide the election. One of those states is Ohio. And as recent history suggests, you really can't win the White House without it. Here's CNN's John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, there are two big reasons why Republicans are suddenly more optimistic here. One is the newfound enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket here in the conservative strongholds of Southwest Ohio. The other is evidence that Barack Obama continues to struggle across the state, in the rural southeast corner, where he was trounced in the Democratic by Hillary Clinton.


KING (voice-over): Portsmouth hugs the Ohio River, nestled in the hills and farmland of Appalachia. Small town and struggling -- wondering if the jobs will ever return and whether the old rule that hard times means votes for Democrats will apply this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Is there a reason why you (INAUDIBLE)?

KING: At Scioto County Democratic headquarters, Chairman Randy Bashem sees the chance to make history colliding with historical reality. Some on the other end of the phone say they simply aren't ready or willing to vote for a black man.

RANDY BASHEM, CHAIR, SCIOTO COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: It's basically comes down to that. And Appalachian -- it's probably the hardest place in the State of Ohio, because the population of the black vote here in Southern Ohio is probably 2 percent.

KING: In Portsmouth's bustling Market Street Cafe, there is a hopeful vibe for Democrats. The younger staff is all for Obama.

Co-owner Mary Rase, a loyal Republican, sees a giant generational divide.

MARY RASE, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think people more my age seem to be for McCain. But I do feel in -- overall that there is more Obama people.

KING: But the scene at local Democratic headquarters is telling. An office worker felt compelled to pin a flag on the cardboard Obama's lapel. The overwhelming issue here is jobs. Yet just eight weeks to election day, local Democrats are still rebutting rumors their candidate won't wear a flag pin, isn't a Christian and took his Senate oath on a Koran, not a bible.

STEVE STURGILL, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Oh, I have that question all the time. People that I talk to in our community still have grave reservations about that.

KING: Many older Democrats, like Steve Sturgill, say it's often tough to break through.

STURGILL: There's no doubt in my mind that Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He's not a left-wing crazy.

KING: Jean Carlson is a Goldwater Republican turned Obama Democrat. She sees questions about flags and faith as thinly veiled racism.

JEAN CARLSON, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I think it's an undercurrent. I think it's sad, but I think it's still an undercurrent here.

KING: Local Republicans say the race factor is exaggerated and that Obama is just too liberal for these parts. Whatever the reason, Obama's chance to make history could rest on whether he can change perceptions in small towns where change isn't always welcome.


KING: A little history tells you why that southeast corner is so important to Obama. Democrats have carried that region of the state in just three of the last 10 presidential elections. And those three times -- 1976, 1992, and 1996 -- just happened to be the only three times the Democrats have carried Ohio and won the White House in the last 40 years.

John and Kiran?

ROBERTS: John King for us this morning reporting on the battlegrounds. And if you live in a battleground state, head to, and e-mail us the issues that are most important to you. We want to know who you are voting for and why.

"Issue #1," the candidates on trade. Ali Velshi looks at what the policies of the next president could mean for your job. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Ten minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" now with more on trade and the candidates' positions on it.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: All this week, we're looking at the candidates -- John McCain and Barack Obama and their positions on things that affect your money. It's issue number one to Americans.

We want to talk about free trade and the issue with free trade is we're talking about free trade which is trade without taxes, tariffs, barriers, duties, things like that. The idea that you can sell your goods to other countries and you can buy their goods and, generally speaking, the cheapest, best-quality goods are the ones that get bought. The positions of the candidates are very different on this.

John McCain is an avid free trader. He loves NAFTA, says he advocates doing that with other countries. He says free trade allows cheaper foreign goods to be imported into the United States, allowing consumers to spend less money on goods. He says it opens foreign markets to U.S.-made goods and it creates jobs in places where the U.S. has a competitive or cost advantage.

Of course, that point is a sticking point because there are many industries in which the U.S. no longer has the competitive cost or competitive advantage.

Barack Obama has a slightly different view. He and other Democrats are generally wary of free trade or what they call trade that isn't fair. He says it creates competition at home for U.S.-made goods, making them harder to sell and costing jobs. He says it eliminates jobs where the United States has a competitive or cost disadvantage and he says it results in the outsourcing of lower-value work and manufacturing is an example given.

It's not that manufacturing is low value. Obviously, it's a very important and high-value area of work. But it can be done more inexpensively in many cases in other countries and that's the criticism from Democrats that they can out source these jobs and get things made cheaply, in many cases not as well is the argument with some of the safety concerns we've seen.

So, again, if you are in manufacturing or some job that can be out sourced or can be done better somewhere else or cheaper, this trade issue will be important to you in this election.

ROBERTS: All right. Ali, thanks so much for that.

Coming up now on 12 minutes after the hour.

CHETRY: Texas on alert. Hurricane Ike enters the Gulf where it could become a devastating Category 3 storm. We've got the latest predictions. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: The Texas coast bracing for what could be a serious blow by Hurricane Ike. The National Guard is on standby. A million people could be evacuated from the Rio Grande Valley. CNN's Rob Marciano is tracking the storm, right now a Category 1, but it's going to be gaining strength most likely as it heads through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It does look that way, Kiran. There's not a whole lot to stop it from gaining strength as far as the atmosphere is concerned.

As far as the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, is concerned, it's about to go over some warm currents. So when that happens, we do expect it to gain strength. It's not moving terribly fast. That gives it a little bit more time to generate some strength. It's about 900 miles still from Corpus Christi. But it will pick up some steam as it picks up some strength.

Here we go tonight, Category 2 storm is what we expect and then tomorrow night a Category 3 storm and then as we head towards Friday night into Saturday morning, a Cat 3 potentially making landfall along -- somewhere along the Texas coastline. Pretty much everybody's in the cone with the exception maybe of the Golden Triangle and Sabine Pass here right along the border of Louisiana and Texas.

But this looks to be a fairly serious situation. We had Dolly in a similar spot. But that was a minimal Category 2. A Category 3 is a heck of a lot worse. We'll try not to get to that stage, Kiran, but it's got a lot of time to strengthen before it hits Texas in the next couple of days.

Back to you in New York.

CHETRY: All right, Rob, thanks.

MARCIANO: All right.

ROBERTS: It is a big job but someone has to do it. Scientists in Switzerland tried to unlock the mysteries of the universe by re- creating the "Big Bang." You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Coming up now at 18 minutes after the hour. Sarah Palin returns to Alaska today. But her homecoming bittersweet as her eldest son, Track, deploys for Iraq tomorrow. And since Palin was nominated for vice president, her career and her personal life have been under the microscope.

CNN's Jessica Yellin joins us live this morning from Anchorage, Alaska.

What's the word today, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: John, the word is that Sarah Palin is headed back here. We'll get a look at her. And I've talked to some of her friends. I'll tell you -- here's something you might not know about Sarah Palin. When she was pregnant with her fourth child, she had her baby shower at a shooting range. She has had a lot of experience juggling motherhood and politics and her friends say it helps that she doesn't need much sleep.


YELLIN (voice-over): Governor Palin starts sending e-mails at 4:30 in the morning.

MEG STAPLETON, PALIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: We used to joke around that it's as though she has an I.V. of caffeine running through her because we could never keep up with her and it would be constant.

YELLIN: According to a childhood friend juggling five kids doesn't faze her.

KRISTAN COLE, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: When she was mayor or just when she was a citizen, you usually saw one child on her hip.

YELLIN: She regularly takes daughter Piper to work.

COLE: Gosh, I would say the first six months she was born she was underneath Sarah's desk at the mayor's office.

YELLIN: While the older kids help clean and run errands, her husband does his share.

COLE: When Sarah is really busy, Todd will be the one to make their breakfast, put the ponytails in.

YELLIN: But sometimes no one really does the cooking.

STAPLETON: And she's joked around about that -- oh, they can throw a sandwich together.

YELLIN: These days the crib in the office is infant son Trig. Friend say Palin has come to terms with the new challenge telling them --

COLE: You know, I looked at my other four children, I said, they are not perfect. And she said it allowed me to see that I'm going to love Trig just as much as I loved the other four, because they are not perfect and he's not perfect either. But I love them. And I'm going to love him, too.

YELLIN: Palin supporters insist her experience as a working mother means she'll represent American women. But some women's groups are critical. The Non-Partisan National Partnership for Women and Families gives Alaska a D minus when it comes to its parental leave policy. For example, there's no guarantee a paid leave for new parents.

DR. VICKI LOVELL, INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN'S POLICY RESEARCH: I think there's a contradiction there between Governor Palin's professed values about supporting families and then what we actually see in the state of Alaska where there aren't adequate supports for families who are welcoming new infants.


YELLIN: Now, John, Palin, herself, never took much maternity leave. And as for the state law, her defenders say, well, she's had other priorities in office, like championing a natural gas pipeline and seeing to it that Alaskans get money back from a tax on oil companies.


ROBERTS: Certainly not unusual, Jessica, for there to be children in the executive office. We all remember the famous picture of John Kennedy Jr. under his father's desk in the Oval Office. But at times where -- let say, her husband who is an avid snowmobile races is off and she's got travel or something like that, what other help does she get?

YELLIN: Well, she has a network of supporters who come in and do babysitting and day care. Her parents, her in-laws, even family and friends. So, she has -- one friend of hers said for Palin, it takes a village. A phrase usually associated with Hillary Clinton.

ROBERTS: All Right, Jessica Yellin for us this morning from Anchorage. Jessica, good to see you. Thanks.

CHETRY: Well, big bang. Scientists risk sparking the end of the world, some claim, to learn about the origins of life. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



JAY LENO, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO: Boy George has released a new song that is inspired by Barack Obama. It's called "Yes, We Can" by Boy George.


Well, if that doesn't put Obama over the crowd -- over the top with the Joe Six-Pack crowd, nothing will. There you go. You want to reach Ohio, that's the way to do it! Boy George! Yes!


CHETRY: A little joking by Jay Leno last night on his show. But, you know, Ohio, an all-important key to victory. This presidential election is likely to be decided by a few key battleground states and maybe the biggest of those is Ohio. Take a look at this. It's a new CNN Opinion Research Poll showing Barack Obama with a slim two-point lead -- 47 percent to 45 percent. So, what issues could swing Ohio voters? Joining me to talk about that from Toledo is talk radio host Brian Wilson. He's a libertarian. He's not endorsed Barack Obama or John McCain. And from Cincinnati, Lincoln Ware, host of "The Lincoln Ware Show," a lifelong Republican who threw his support behind Barack Obama earlier this year.

Welcome to both of you. Thanks for being with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me.


CHETRY: I'd like to just ask both of you, and I'll start with you, Lincoln. The key issues that they're talking about. Voters are going to decide who they vote for in Ohio. What are they?

LINCOLN WARE, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, it's got to be the economy. Of course, this area has suffered from a foreclosure rate that was just about as high as any state around the country. So, economy will be the first issue. And then the second issue, I guess it would probably be the forecasts of the gasoline prices, which ties in to the economy.

But Ohioans want education. The education system in Ohio, it's not one of the best. So, education will play a main factor also. Barack Obama was here in this area yesterday talking about charter schools, and how he plans on trying to give more money so we can start more charter schools here in Ohio. So, economy and education will probably number one and number two on the list here in Ohio.

CHETRY: And, Lincoln, what are your -- what are you hearing. I mean, Brian, what are you hearing from your listeners as well about what they want to hear from these two candidates?

BRIAN WILSON, LIBERTARIAN: Jobs, jobs, and probably jobs. Education is a -- is certainly a major consideration. But the -- as Lincoln pointed out, I would say that most of those issues are local. Of course, they say all politics are local, but the -- I think this is where the listeners, at least we're talking to here are concentrated on.

We're very concerned about the economy in the state. What we can do to attract businesses, keep people from leaving. We've been bleeding jobs and people for a pretty good while now, which is having a deleterious effect.

CHETRY: Is that one of the reasons why Barack Obama is perhaps pulling a little bit ahead of John McCain there? John McCain a big supporter of free trade, of course, and a lot of concern in Ohio about eliminating these jobs and having them be shipped overseas?

WARE: Yes.

WILSON: Making the irrational promises to, you know, to renegotiate NAFTA and things along that order, the notion that a president can magically fix manufacturing jobs here in Ohio is pretty irrational and unconstitutional. But if people will swallow that, then I suspect that that's one of the reasons he would have a lead.

WARE: Well, you've got the 6,000 jobs leaving Wilmington from DHL which Obama claims McCain had a part in that. And that's a concern for people here in Ohio. But that lead that Obama has here in Ohio, it scares me, because he's going to have a tough time connecting with the rural areas of Ohio.

CHETRY: And, Lincoln, is race a factor in this or not as many --

WARE: Of course. This is Ohio. Race is a factor. The rural areas of Ohio suffer from xenophobia. If they can't identify with you, you're going to have a tough time. That's why Barack Obama needs to get Bill Clinton, he needs to get Hillary in here, he needs to get Joe Biden. He needs to send those guys out to the rural areas, because they're not going to listen to Obama in those areas. They still think he's a Muslim in some of these rural areas in Ohio.

CHETRY: And Brian, I do want to ask you about the Sarah Palin effect. She's been the talk of the campaign. Is she going to be a linchpin in any way in Ohio?

WILSON: I think she'll be very, very important. I think that as Lincoln was saying, the folks out in the country are not going to pay attention to Obama, I would suggest not necessarily because they are xenophobic, but because he made his position on guns pretty clear, and the type of Democrats that we have here in Ohio are very fond of their guns and hunting. This is a sportsman's paradise and they go to church. So, I think that when you've got someone like Sarah Palin who is -- goes to church and knows how to shoot a moose and bait her own hook, that's going to score major points.

CHETRY: All right. Well, Barack Obama goes to church, too. In fact, all the candidates have been pretty open about their religion.

WARE: Kim Blackwell went to church too and look what happened to him in rural Ohio when he ran for governor. So, I don't think that matters.

CHETRY: But you know, obviously, something's getting through, because he's leading albeit with a small lead, 2 percent, according to our latest polls. But it's going to be a close one there. And these were the types of issues that, you're right, are going to be discussed in Ohio.

I want to thank both of you for being with us. Brian --

WILSON: Well, we've certainly seen his church.

CHETRY: Brian Wilson --

WILSON: I say we've certainly seen the type of church that Barack Obama goes to.

WARE: Oh my goodness. Will you please let Reverend Wright go to rest, please? Leave Reverend Wright alone.


WILSON: I wish you would.


CHETRY: Well, we'll definitely going to have to leave it alone right now because we're out of time.


WARE: Will they let Reverend Wright go. They won't let it go.

WILSON: I wish you would.

WARE: He's gone.


CHETRY: All right. Thank you, both of you, for being with us.

WILSON: I wish you would.

CHETRY: Thank you.

WILSON: See you.

ROBERTS: Just about 30 minutes past the hour now. We're following breaking news for you. A strong earthquake in southern Iran this morning. The 6.1 magnitude quake was felt across the Persian Gulf in Dubai. CNN staffers in Dubai reportedly feeling their building shake for 15 to 20 seconds. They also said a lot of offices in high-rise buildings have been evacuated with a couple of hundred people now taking refuge in the streets.

OPEC trying to stop the steep decline in oil prices. The cartel is going to stick with earlier production quotas effectively cutting crude production by 520,000 barrels a day. The decision came just hours after oil prices hit a five-month low at around $102 a barrel. OPEC president says prices probably will continue to decline despite the cut. Right now crude prices are down less than a dollar in early trading. >

With unemployment hitting a five-year high, Democrats in Congress are pushing another economic stimulus package; this one worth $50 billion. It would extend jobless benefits and grant heating subsidies. The White House Republicans are against it. They say allowing offshore drilling would be a better way to boost the economy.

Well, so far, so good. The world's biggest science experiment has passed its first major test in Switzerland. Thousands of scientists from more than 80 countries around the world are working to re-create conditions that created the universe. But there are worries among some people that they might destroy the universe by doing it. CNN's Becky Anderson takes a closer look at this huge undertaking. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In this labyrinth of tunnels, researchers are attempting to unlock the deepest secrets of the galaxies. If all goes to plan, the 8,000 scientists will re-create the moments just after the Big Bang, the very birth of our universe. If the CERN project is a success, our knowledge of the universe could fundamentally change forever. These tunnels, 27 kilometers long, are at the very heart of the experiment.

Nothing can go faster than the speed of light. But we can bring these particles to within a tiny, tiny fraction of the speed of light. The faster they go, the more energy they get. And the equivalence of mass and energy, E = MC2 , means that when we bring them into collision, all of this energy can produce very massive particles. And we hope, for example, the Higgs particles.

ANDERSON: The search for the Higgs particle, which gives matter its mass, has concentrated the finest minds in the scientific community for decades.

Certainly a step, a big step, into unknown territory, into a level of energy that we've never seen before. We expected to answer a number of questions, which are the really burning questions of today.

ANDERSON: As president of the Royal Society, Sir Martin Rees is one of the most respected scientists in the world.

MARTIN REES, BRITISH ROYAL ASTRONOMER: This early experiment is a big step forward in our understanding of the microscopic structure of nature. And one thing we've learned from science in the last 100 years is two of the great challenges in science lie is the very large, understanding the cosmos, and the very small, understanding the atoms and what is inside the atoms. By somehow managing simulate what conditions were like very soon after the Big Bang, by producing a very, very high density, high concentration of energy in these accelerators, we can get some clues as to what the early universe might have been like.

ANDERSON: The ongoing work at CERN is the very latest in the long line of journeys. The aim being to discover, however improbable it may seem, something new, life changing, exciting and important. Becky Anderson, CNN, Geneva. >


ROBERTS: Dying to be skinny.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just because they're thin, doesn't mean they're not healthy.


ROBERTS: Alina Cho looks at life on the runway where being thin is a job requirement, and where recently at least six models have paid the ultimate price.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're a model, you are thin. If you are thin, you can be a model.


ROBERTS: You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Here's a look at our assignment desk today. They are on the cusp of fashion all the time as well., it's supposed to be a wake- up call for the fashion industry. After a Brazilian model literally starved herself to death the New York fashion industry responded with health guidelines. That was 18 months ago, but has anything really changed? Our Alina Cho is taking a look.

And you know a lot of people in the fashion industry. I mean, they just sort of feel like being thin is a fact of life if you're modeling.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is. You know, it depends on who you ask in terms of has anything changed.

But to keep in mind, Kiran, to be a model by definition, you have to be skinny. And to be a runway model, especially in New York, super skinny. But when is thin too thin? In the past year or so from New York to Milan, we heard a lot about models dying and the fashion industry responding with weight and age guidelines. That got a lot of attention and a lot of people spoke out loudly about this. But what we wanted to know, is anyone listening?


CHO (voice over) It's a glamorous life. Millions of girls dream about becoming a runway model.

KATE BETTS, EDITOR, TIME STYLE & DESIGN: There's a lot of money at stake. And it's a big job. And they don't have a big window.

CHO: Being thin is a job requirement. And in fashion it's a dangerous line to walk.

JAMES SCULLY, CASTING AGENT: It's the color of the skin. It's the dark circles around the eyes. They are almost compensating with energy by the fact that they are not eating.

CHO: Super model Kate Moss recently told "Interview" magazine. Nobody ever fed me. I was so thin, I hated it."

In recent years at least six models have died, including two sisters from Uruguay. One was 22 and just 98 pounds. That seems to wake up the fashion industry. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, the CFDA, issued guidelines, banning runway models under 16. Calling on designers and casting agents to encourage models who look sick to get help. Eighteen months later, what's changed?

(on camera): Have you ever seen a model who has looked too thin and you said, you need to get help?

MAX AZRIA, BCBG DESIGNER: Oh, yeah, of course, of course. And I said to my team, I said, listen to me, we are not going to sell bone. Definitely the girls are less skinny.

CHO (voice over): Industry critics argue, that nobody's watching. That there's no enforcement of the guidelines. No accountability. Seventeen-year-old Irina is six feet tall, 119 pounds, a weight some doctors call unhealthy.

IRINA, MODEL: If you're a model, you are thin. If you are thin, you can be a model.

CHO: Then there's the argument some girls are just naturally thin.

FERN MALLIS, IMG FASHION: There are a lot of models who are thin. Just because they are thin doesn't mean they're not healthy and -- and in good shape.

CHO: There has been a return of the curvy super models, Linda, Christie, Naomi, all currently featured in major ad campaigns. Editors say that's an improvement.

MARY ALICE STEPHENSON, FASHION STYLIST: You have a 15-year-old who is saying, I want to look like that. So, we've got to make sure that these girls going down the runway are healthy, are shapely, and are really protected.

CHO: Because models are also role models.


CHO: That's absolutely right, especially when those pictures get on to the Internet very quickly. Everybody looks at them. The bottom line, though, is that everybody agrees there is greater awareness about this problem. Just this season, I'm told that a top designer turned down a beautiful 14-year-old model because she did not meet the age requirement, even though she would have been perfect for the job.

I personally attended fashion shows for years. I've covered fashion week for years and I have noticed this season, as have many others, Kiran, that the girls do look healthier. They do look a bit bigger. Listen, are you going to look at the runway sometimes and cringe? The head of the CFDA told me, yes, that is going to happen sometimes. But the truth is there have been some improvements on the runway, still a ways to go.

CHETRY: They're just simply not meant to look like what the every woman looks like.

CHO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, listen, the runway is not reality. It is the ideal. Some people would argue that models are skinnier than 99.9 percent of the population.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: Just like a world-class athlete is in better shape than 99.9 percent of the population. So there you have it.

CHETRY: Very, very interesting. Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.


CHETRY: O.J. on trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are here, punish Mr. Simpson, this is not the case for you.

CHETRY: Is The Juice being unfairly squeezed? Chris Lawrence looks at the evidence and what's at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and sell it?

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.



JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: He's accused of robbing a sports memorabilia dealer. Here's my question. Is the gun that O.J. used in the robbery now considered sports memorabilia? How does that work?


ROBERTS: O.J. back in court. Back to being the butt of the late- night jokes there, too, at the hands of Jay Leno.

O.J. Simpson's armed robbery and kidnapping trial officially under way now, with jury selection already begun. Our Chris Lawrence is in Los Angeles. He joins me now with a look at what's at stake for Simpson.

Good morning, Chris.


Day three of jury selection gets starting here in just a few hours. O.J. Simpson is facing some very serious charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAWRENCE (voice over): O.J. Simpson is about to face another jury with his freedom on the line. Jurors will be expected to watch a surveillance tape from a Las Vegas casino. That's where Simpson allegedly brought five men to confront a couple of sports memorabilia dealers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and sell it? LAWRENCE: You hear the men yelling on an audiotape inside the room.


LAWRENCE: Simpson says the signed footballs and plaques were stolen, from him. He was only trying to, quote, "get his stuff back."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I trusted you, man!

LAWRENCE: Police say only two of the men actually carried guns, but they both cut deals to testify against Simpson. So did two others, leaving only Simpson and his golfing buddy to face the felony charges.

STAN GOLDMAN, LEGAL ANALYST: And it does suggest that the fact that he is O.J. is the reason why they've chosen to pick him as the target of their prosecution.

LAWRENCE: It's been 13 years since Simpson's famous acquittal. But the judge warned potential jurors not to retry him for the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. JUDGE JACKIE GLASS, CLARK CO. NEVADA DISTRICT COURT: If you are hear to think that you are going to punish Mr. Simpson, this is not the case for you.

LAWRENCE: Despite the audiotape that sounds damaging to the defense

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just robbed at gunpoint man! We were just robbed at gunpoint by O.J. Simpson.

LAWRENCE: That memorabilia dealer now tells CNN he believes Simpson's claim that he was trying to get back what belonged to him. And Simpson himself has denied all charges.


LAWRENCE: Now, a robbery conviction would mean mandatory prison time. And if Simpson is convicted of kidnapping, that carries the possibility of life in prison -John.

ROBERTS: Chris, we heard that admonition from the judge to prospective jurors. And, in fact, she booted one who said that she thought that O.J. was guilty in the original killing case. Very often during these trials, jury selection part of it, we get sort of an indication of how the defense is going to proceed with its case. Did you get any of that yesterday?

LAWRENCE: Yeah, you're definitely getting some hints as to where the defense is going with their strategy. They are going to question whether some of the words really match some of the transcripts of those audio recordings you just heard. And they're looking for some very independent-minded jurors. At one point one of the defense attorneys told a group of jurors that said there's no rule that says you have to follow the crowd.

ROBERTS: We'll be watching this very closely. Chris Lawrence for us this morning in Los Angeles. Chris, thanks so much.


CHETRY: "CNN Newsroom" just minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Good morning, Heidi.


That's right. Here's a check of what we're working on in the "Newsroom" today. They don't like Ike. Coastal Texas residents prepare for the possible arrival of a major hurricane. We'll have updates from our Weather Center on that. >

And OPEC sets a plan for drilling oil. What it could mean for you when you pump your gas. >

Plus, a father and his autistic son survive for 15 hours in the Atlantic Ocean. We told you about the story on our program. Today, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to talk with the family. >

We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN - Kiran.

CHETRY: Heidi, thanks. >


ROBERTS: Kicking the habit. How the quest for the perfect waist or nose is forcing some smokers to give up their cigarettes.

You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: By many accounts, it is one of the hardest things to do, quit smoking. But a small fraction of the 45 million adult smokers in the U.S. have now found a very different reason to quit. It's because they want to have plastic surgery.

We're paging Dr. Gupta. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta joins us from Atlanta.

Hey, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You , know this is interesting to me, Kiran, the fear of major scarring sometimes is more an inspiration to quit smoking than the fear of lung cancer, at least for some people. We spend millions of dollars to trying to figure out how to get people to quit smoking. But looked what worked for this one woman.


GUPTA (voice over): After 20 years and more than a pack a day, Susan Depiro finally had her reasons for quitting --plastic surgery.

SUSAN DEPIRO, PLASTIC SURGERY PATIENT: In my head, it's something I wanted for a very long time. So, that did make me, you know, make me stop.

DR. ALAN GOLD, American SOCIETY OF AETHESTIC PLASTIC SURGERY: Many plastic surgeons, myself included, won't operate on you if you're not able to stop smoking ahead of time.

GUPTA (on camera): I tell patients the same thing. I try not to operate on patients who have been smoking. Nicotine from cigarettes interrupts the circulation and that makes it harder for bones to fuse after spine surgery. The same is true in plastic surgery. When you get those interruptions in circulation due to nicotine, it can cause problems with healing, it can cause infections and even more scaring.

(voice over): For Depiro the risk of permanent scars weighed heavier than the desire to keep smoking, so she stopped, two weeks before getting breast implants and liposuction. But she crumbled, just days after surgery. She snuck a few cigarettes here and there.

DEPIRO: My bandages, you know, were coming off and I noticed something different. It was like a -- a stabbing, burning feeling, that just wasn't going away. I thought in the back of my head, this is because of smoking. This is why I'm feeling more pain. I'm not healing correctly.

GUPTA: She formed what is called necrosis, the skin under one of her breasts was dying. That was enough to make Depiro stop smoking for a second time and to start healing properly.

DEPIRO: If I did not stop, my implants were going to come out. And that really scared me.


GUPTA: Now, it's important to point out as well that the Nicorette gum, the nicotine patches, they are not going to work in terms of preventing some of these complications. They still have the nicotine in them. So, the real goal here is to stop smoking and to get all of the nicotine out of your system before having surgery. Quitting after that, obviously, important as well.

CHETRY: How long does that take, to get all the nicotine out of your system, usually?

GUPTA: They say -- most doctors will say they want you off nicotine for about four weeks before surgery - for elective surgery. Emergencies, obviously, there is no choice. Some doctors will check nicotine levels to make sure. Patients may say they've stopped smoking but doctors will check the nicotine in their blood to make sure in fact they have. The longer you quit, the better your chances are of not having these complications. Obviously, quitting forever is the best option of all.

CHETRY: So, if you're somebody that quit smoking years ago, is your blood pretty much normal and your potential to heal normal as a nonsmoker?

GUPTA: Yes, that's the good news. Is that if you are someone who was a former smoker but have quit, you pretty much negated the chance of having some of these complications that Susan was talking about. You still have a higher likelihood of having lung cancer, smaller, but increased likelihood of having lung cancer, but the longer you quit overall, the better it is for your chances.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Sanjay, thanks.

Also, every Thursday we turn to Dr. Gupta's mailbag for your questions about the medical stories we cover. So, if you have a question for Dr. Gupta, go to E-mail us your questions and Sanjay will answer them here on AMERICAN MORNING tomorrow.

There's more for you now on kicking the habit in an "AM Extra" Smoking remains the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Still an estimated one out of five adults still smokes. And it's not for lack of trying to quit. Research suggests almost half of smokers try to give up cigarettes each year, but only about 5 percent are successful in kicking the habit for good.

ROBERTS: Coming up now on six minutes to the top of the hour. Her eyeglasses are all the rage and she even has her own action figure. Sarah Palin hits pop culture. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: Well, it took less than two weeks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is becoming a bit of a fashion icon. Call it hockey mom chic. Her signature glasses are in high demand and there's even a Sarah Palin action figure for sale. Who better to take a look at all this than CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over) Sarah Palin for VP: Read my lipstick. You can't read this sign, maybe you need glasses, Sarah Palin glasses.

(On camera): Excuse me, do you like her glasses?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're all right.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, my husband says she's hot.


MOOS: Really, wow?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The best thing about her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of like mine.

MOOS: They are $375, titanium-framed glasses from the Japanese designer Kawasaki. The North American distributor says since Palin was picked for VP nominee, sales have quadrupled. On a message board popular with opticians, one wrote, "Had four calls for Palin eye wear today." As one of those callers put it, "Palinize me!"

CROWD CHANTING: Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!

MOOS: Opticians hope she'll do more for glasses sales than, say, Tina Fey. Governor Palin got her Kawasakis from an Alaskan optician who makes house calls. Joy Leedham took 300 pairs of glasses to Palin's home.

JOY LEEDHAM, HOME OPTICS, OWNER: Her family kind of gathered around and she would say, which is better, this one or this one?

MOOS: Joy says other opticians have given her grief for not ordering AR, anti-reflective coating. That was Palin's choice, so don't blame the optician for the reflective glory of TV lights and flashbulbs. Of course, Palin has older pairs of glasses. She's been wearing specs a long time. But no one paid much attention until she hit the big time.

(On camera): Those glasses are inaccurate.

(Voice over): Those would be the glasses on the brand new Sarah Palin action figure, selling for 30 bucks at

(On camera): It seems to me that the accessory you are interested in is not on her glasses but her legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She carries a holstered .45 weapon. You need that in Alaska, you know? Bears.

(Voice over): This is the superhero version. There are two others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's way too short -- come on! She doesn't dress like that!

MOOS: I bet you haven't seen her wearing these on the campaign trail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure she's worn shoes like that in Alaska.

MOOS (on camera): Moose hunting.


MOOS (voice over): Whatever you do, don't call her four-eyes. She's likely to take aim.


Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: There you go. The company Hero Builders say they are also working on a Joe Biden doll as well.

ROBERTS: You know, it had to come to all this. But I bet you hockey mom chic will become the latest fashion craze.

CHETRY: How about that. >

ROBERTS: Certainly think so.

CHETRY: Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. Glad you were with us. We'll see you back here again tomorrow. >

ROBERTS: Right now we hand it over to CNN NEWSROOM and here's Heidi Collins.