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American Morning

President Obama Outlines Health Care Reform to Congress; Tapes Released of Conversations between Madoff, Associates; Initiative Under Way to Increase Port Security; Two Parties Seek Common Ground on Health Care

Aired September 10, 2009 - 07:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Just about hit the top of the hour, 7:00 Eastern Time, I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran Chetry.

Good morning to you.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, I'm John Roberts.

Thanks for joining us this morning.

And here are the big stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

President Obama selling his health care plan in a make or break speech to Congress, and more importantly to the American people. The president keeping the public option on the table and calling on lawmakers to work together.

Did you go to bed last night with a better understanding of what this is all about? The entire A.M. team breaking everything down for you this morning.

COSTELLO: They're all up here.

One congressman has already apologized to the president after this outburst right in the middle of the president's speech.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegal.



OBAMA: That's not true.


COSTELLO: You heard him there. South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson responding to President Obama's claim that there would be no health care coverage for illegal immigrants. The White House says chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel accepted Wilson's apology over the phone. In other words Wilson called the White House to apologize.

Could he end up being censured, though?

We'll have reaction from both sides of the aisle.

ROBERTS: Plus, a new tape surfaces and the voice on it. It's a disgraced Wall Street titan, Bernie Madoff. The man behind the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, and he's coaching a potential witness on how to trick the SEC Madoff starts out, quote, "Obviously, first of all, this conversation never took place." And you just got to hear the rest of it.

COSTELLO: Plus, could terrorists really buy nuclear bombs on the black market, and then sneak them into an American city? Just how realistic a threat is that?

On the eve of September 11th, we're looking into the problem of loose nukes and our "Spies Among Us" series.

ROBERTS: And we begin the hour with an in-depth look at the president's speech. The politics, the policy, what it really means, and what's really at stake.

President Obama had two big objectives last night, trying to convince you that his plan is the best way to fix our broken health care system, and trying to end stalemate in Congress.

He did extend an olive branch to his rivals but also seemed to say if you don't want to roll up your sleeves and get to work, then get out of the way.


OBAMA: This is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight, Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead.

But know this -- I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than to improve it.



ROBERTS: The best political team on television is here to break it down for you this morning. Our Candy Crowley is pushing things forward, looking at what's next in the health care debate.

But first let's turn to Elaine Quijano. She is live at the White House. Good morning, Elaine -- maybe not.


OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trying to retake control of the runaway health care debate, President Obama asserted...

OBAMA: The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.

QUIJANO: On the controversial public option, staunchly supported by liberals, but decried as a government health care takeover by conservatives, the president again tried to carefully thread the needle, saying he prefers a bill include an option for government run care but add...

OBAMA: It is only one part of my plan and shouldn't be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.

QUIJANO: Yet without mentioning Republicans by name, the president blasted what he called "scare tactics" by opponents, calling the notion of a bureaucratic death panel a lie. And he insisting illegal immigrants would not be covered, prompting an outburst from South Carolina GOP Congressman Joe Wilson.

WILSON: You lie!

QUIJANO: Wilson later called the White House to apologize.

As for specifics, the president did mention what he supports, though much of it he's mentioned before, including a ban on denying coverage because of preexisting conditions, limits on out of pocket expenses, and a new insurance exchange meant to allow individuals and small businesses to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.

Missing, though, were new details on how exactly to pay for the president's $900 billion plan aside from what he's already said before, finding money by cutting waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid.

OBAMA: While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe...


... I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined.

QUIJANO: It was an emotional appeal as well. As the widow of the late Senator Edward Kennedy looked on, President Obama recounted Kennedy's thoughts on health care in a letter delivered to Obama after Kennedy's death.

OBAMA: "What we face," he wrote, "is above all a moral issue. At stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."


QUIJANO: Now the president is going to try to keep the momentum going today with remarks on health care. He's also expected to sit down with some centrist Democrats later here at the White House, and he'll hit the road on Saturday at a public rally in Minneapolis to try to campaign for health care overhaul -- John?

ROBERTS: We'll be watching closely to see what happens over the next few days in the debate. Elaine Quijano for us at the White House this morning. Elaine, thanks.

COSTELLO: By all accounts it was a critical night for the president, but now that his make or break speech is behind him, what is his next move? You heard a little bit from Elaine that he'll be talking again today.

But did he clearly explain what he wants to the American people? Senior Political correspondent Candy Crowley joins us now with reaction. She's part of the best political team on television.

So Candy, do you think he changed any minds?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we can't tell that right now.

I want to show you some numbers we got last night, a flash poll. There are some shortcomings to a poll like this. First of all, this isn't all of America. This is from people who watched the speech. It is heavily weighted to Democrats.

But I think we have some important numbers here. Look at the post-speech numbers versus the pre-speech numbers on do you support the president's health care plan. So pre-speech 53 percent favored, post-speech, 67 percent -- again, heavily weighted towards Democrats, but one of the constituencies the president needed to talk to was his own party, who kept saying step up, step up, you need to be the leader in this.

And so I think that's good news for him even given that it's just among Democrats.

But if you look at that speech -- and one more little historical caveat, and that's that the 67 percent approval of his health care plan is exactly what President Bill Clinton got right after the speech he gave on health care and that, of course, we don't want to go too far in extrapolating things.

But I think this certainly was a speech that attempted to reach an awful lot of different constituencies, but Democrats were among the most important.

ROBERTS: Running for president and in the days after he became president, Barack Obama leaned heavily on this idea of changing the tone in Washington, wanting to forge a new spirit of bipartisanship. He obviously reached out to Republicans last night. But is there anything in there that they can really latch onto and say hey, OK, we can change our mind now, we will come out and support health care?

CROWLEY: I sincerely doubt it.

I think had he taken the public option off the table, which he can't do, because, obviously, the liberals want some sort of a federal government health care insurance...

ROBERTS: But he did say...

CROWLEY: There was a little bit, but he also sort of had said that before, so there was no kind of definitive moment one way or another.

Certainly he did say here's John McCain thought that we should have this sort of high risk pool. He talked about the malpractice reform. But that's sort of a little -- that really was very, very small thing compared to actual tort reform.

So, I don't think there were things there, and I don't even think at this point -- here's what I think the calculation is. Yes, we really want bipartisanship, but the fact of the matter is what the president wants more, what the Democrats want more, is a bill, because the calculation is, you go into 2010 and the Democratic House and the Democratic Senate and the Democratic White House cannot turn up any sort of health care reform, that's a problem in the election.

So bipartisanship is great, but a bill is better.

COSTELLO: OK, so that leaves the question, where does the president go from here? Does he just like ignore those Republicans he knows isn't going to, like, jump on board? And does he concentrate on Democrats in getting a bill passed?

CROWLEY: I think he's going to concentrate on Democrats.

I mean, look, we did hear sort of outreach to Republicans, but we also, I mean, every other, you know, paragraph was sort of slamming the critics. He didn't say Republicans in particular, but everybody sort of got the point.

So I think there still will be oh, let's try to get together. But time is a-wasting, as they say, and really his problem all along has really not been Republicans. If they want the bills, if all the Democrats want the bill, they can roll it through. They have procedures that will let them do it in the Senate.

So what the president needs to do, and it's very telling that the first thing he's doing today is having that White House meeting with conservative and moderate Democrats, because that's where his problem is.

ROBERTS: You know, we're getting all kinds of comments from viewers on our blog this morning. Deborah says "The American people need health care reform. I'm proud of our president's leadership on this issue, disgusted by the partisanship on Capitol Hill."

But Lisa on the other had says "President Obama states that nothing in his health care plan will force somebody to change coverage if they are already covered at work. He neglects to mention that they will be forced to change plans since his plan will tax small businesses so much that they won't be able to afford coverage any longer."

So we're getting comments from both sides of the debate.

COSTELLO: Isn't the bottom line trust in government? I mean, he has to make people trust him, trust the government to do this thing right. And I'm not so sure he did that. Did he last night?

CROWLEY: I never looked at last night as make or break, here's where health care -- no. Things don't happen like this. This was sort of like the beginning of the make or break fall, maybe, if you want to do that. But you can't do this in a single speech.

And it's not quite enough. With something as personal as health care with people -- it's one thing if the president says to the American people, I want you to trust me on fast track trade agreements, because they go, OK.

But when you're talk about health care, people get it.

ROBERTS: Yes, it's very personal.

CROWLEY: And so they understand how it works. So it's a much harder sell.

And you have great philosophical differences, people that believe the federal government really should step in, and people think no, no business of federal government.

ROBERTS: Let us know what you think about this. Go to our blog at and leave us a comment.

Candy Crowley, thanks so much.

Coming up next, Senator Claire McCaskill and Rudy Giuliani at the half hour. We got a lot to talk about this morning. It's 10 minutes now after the hour.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

During his make or break health care speech to Congress, President Obama called out some lawmakers, saying they used fear in this debate.


OBAMA: What we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics.


COSTELLO: So pushing forward, will we see any bipartisanship, or just more bad blood?

Let's bring in one Democrat who has had her fair share of fiery town halls during the August recess, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. Good morning Senator.


COSTELLO: Thanks for joining us this morning, we appreciate it.

I just think we should launch into it and get it out of the way. We heard Congressman Joe Wilson pointing at the president last night and calling him a liar. A lot of people were shocked by that, a lot of viewers writing in and saying how wrong that was and how disrespectful.

You actually tweeted about this, calling him, calling this incident, "The biggest disappointment of the evening, a total lack of respect shown by one member for the president," and you added, "never acceptable to behave like a jerk."

So, Congressman Wilson calls the president a liar. You call him a jerk, in essence. And, you know, do these words on both sides belong in a civilized debate, and can't we just stop this?

MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, I said he behaved like a jerk. And I was not sitting in a chamber of Congress listening to a presidential address. I said what I felt.

And I think he has the right to say what he feels. But in that place, in that time, it was shocking to most members, regardless of party, because I think it denigrates the institution.

I think that's why he apologized so quickly. And now I think he's done that, and we should move on. Good for him for apologizing. He admitted he made a mistake. Enough said.

Let's talk about health care.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. And I just want to ask you this to get it out of the way. Some people are saying he should be censured for this kind of behavior. Do you think that sort of action should be taken?

MCCASKILL: No. I really think we've got more important things to do at this point. He said he was sorry. Let's move on.

The people of his district are the ones that have to make the decision about his behavior. I don't think we need to spend any more time on it in Congress.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about tissue itself. Will illegal immigrants be covered under the president's plan? And in section 246 on page 143 of the House bill, the House bill states, "Undocumented aliens will not be eligible for credits to help them buy health insurance."

If this is written in the bill, why do some people continue to believe that illegal aliens will be covered by the president's plan?

MCCASKILL: I'm not sure why. I know this -- the president is committed to making sure that we are not giving federal benefits to any illegal immigrants. I think the vast majority of Congress is committed to that.

I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize we won't pass something that gives coverage to illegal immigrants, and we need to focus on the parts of the bill that are real rather than trying to conjure up untrue facts that, frankly, are just designed to scare people and turn people against this legislation.

COSTELLO: Well, I did notice that the president said 30 million people in the country are uninsured, and that was a change from the what, 46 million figure that he's been telling Americans. And some say the reason for that is because he wanted to take the illegal alien question out of the picture.

I think another concern that some people have is that the plan may call for covering legal immigrants, and maybe some people may be upset about that.

MCCASKILL: Well, if you're a legal -- if you're here legally, if you played by the rules, then we want you to buy insurance. And, of course, I think anyone who is in this country that's played by the rules and is here legally, if they are going to go to our emergency rooms and get care, we want them to take responsibility for that care. So --

COSTELLO: Even if they are not an American citizen?

MCCASKILL: Yes. They should have to buy insurance. That's the part that they are covered in the bill, is that if legal immigrants are here, they have a mandate, they must participate in this process so we're not footing their bill when they go to the emergency room for care.

COSTELLO: Just to wrap it up. I mean, your feeling after the speech, do you feel better about the coming debate in the country in light of the president's speech?

MCCASKILL: I do. I think he cleared up a lot of the misinformation. I think he reassured the seniors that we all see Medicare as a sacred trust, that we're not going to cut benefits under Medicare.

And importantly, he explained how this public option, if that ends up being part of the bill, will be handcuffed so it can't morph into a government mandate. I can't support a public option if it's not constrained, if it's not handcuffed. And I think he explained last night that we're not going subsidize this public option with weekend public money. It's going to have to live on its premiums, and therefore it will be a small part of the overall picture of health care reform.

COSTELLO: Senator McCaskill, thanks for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

MCCASKILL: You bet. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans is coming up in just a couple of moments. All this week we've been looking at Bernie Madoff's properties, getting a little sales pitch on would you like a lovely place Montauk or what about Palm Beach, or how about that the boat?

Well, how about what Bernie Madoff was saying to some of his clients when he knew the SEC was hot on his trail? Was he coaching witnesses? Christine has tale of the tape coming up.

It's 18 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

How to fool a federal regulator by Bernie Madoff. In his own words, the disgraced Wall Street scammer says you don't have to be brilliant to fool the SEC.

Just released phone conversation from 2005 has the convict coaching a witness on what to say when he's interviewed about Madoff's fraudulent investment firm. His advice -- just be casual.

Christine Romans is with us now for more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And basically don't say too much. You know, he said these guys, he said sometimes come and ask a zillion questions, and we just laugh and say, what your trying to write a book? Very cocky and very confident...

ROBERTS: But he was right. How long did he get away with it? How many times was he looked at by the SEC?

ROMANS: Several times. The first real complaint against him to the SEC was in 1992. And of course this went on until 2008. So Bernie Madoff clearly does not hold the SEC examiners in high regard. Listen to what he says.


BERNIE MADOFF: These guys, they work for five years at the Commission, and then they become a compliance manager at a hedge now, or the go work for proprietary trading debt. Nobody wants to stay there forever.

And so nobody wants to give them that information, and, you know, it's none of their business.


ROMANS: None of their business.

One of the reasons he's saying they don't want to give that information is because you don't want to give information about your own firm if they are going to go and work for your competitor someday.

He's talking about this revolving door and saying don't give them too much information. You don't want that information to get out there.

But also, for Bernie Madoff, he didn't want the person on the other end of the phone to give any information because it would prove he was running this big scam.

He began this conversation by saying, "First of all, this conversation never really happened, of course," which you just know you're going to get some good stuff after that.

And hour long phone call, and Carol, I was telling you a little bit earlier that I thought it was interesting that somewhere partly through this phone call he was interrupted by somebody else. He said hold on, wait a minute.

And he came back on and said if I get another solicitation for charity I'm just going to kill myself.


And you think, what an odd thing to say. And then you just have a snapshot look at what this guy's life was like when he was still the big dog, the big dog with all the money and influence, and just casually saying I'm going kill myself.

ROBERTS: Now he's nothing more than a little hairless Chihuahua running in his prison cell.

ROMANS: As you say, it's the gift that keeps on giving. We keep learning more and more about his scam every day.

COSTELLO: Actually, one thing just hit me...

ROBERTS: By the way, nothing against hairless Chihuahuas for those of you who own one. He's no longer the Saint Bernard.

COSTELLO: What I was wondering, though, if he's telling people what to say to the SEC, why aren't more people being prosecuted in the Bernie Madoff case?

ROMANS: That is a very good question. This person he was talking to on the phone worked for a company that actually settled with the state of Massachusetts, and it was the secretary of state of Massachusetts that released this call. So, maybe we haven't seen the end of some of these. We have not seen another arrest yet, but I wouldn't close the book on this just yet.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.

It's 23 1/2 minutes after the hour. Coming up next on the most news in the morning, the latest installment in our "Spies among Us" series. Stay tuned.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Tomorrow is September 11th. And you know, it's an important time to ask tough questions, like this, like could terrorists get their hands on a weapon that could do even more damage, maybe even nuclear material, and smuggle it into the United States?

ROBERTS: Today in our special series "Spies Among Us," our Paula Newton is live for a closer look. And Paula, we're talking about black market bombs this morning. How worried should we be about that?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, consider this. In late 2004 an undercover FBI agent asked an Armenian arms dealer if he could get him highly enriched uranium for a terrorist attack on the New York subway. John, the guy didn't even flinch. He said could it be done, and here's why.


NEWTON: In the words of President Barack Obama, loose nuclear materials could exterminate any city on earth.

So take a good look at these shipping containers being scanned for illicit nuclear and radioactive material in Belgium. Almost three-quarters of them will end up on American soil. The threat is truly global.

NOEL COLPIN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BELGIAN CUSTOMS AND EXCISE: We seized 50 containers here with all kinds of nuclear radioactive sources, and that in all kind of traffic coming from all kind of countries.

NEWTON: That was last year alone. None turned out to pose a terror threat. But Antwerp and some 20 other ports worldwide are part of the U.S.-led MegaPorts Initiative, a front line defense to screen ship, rail, and truck traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An image is transmitted back to the central alarm station.

NEWTON: Those images give detailed x-ray information backed up by manual inspections. The program is seven years old, the aim, to equip 100 seaports by 2015. COLPIN: Before we didn't know it. Now we can do the screening and we are, indeed, surprised to find the number of seizures and the importers.

NEWTON: Since 2001, databases kept on behalf of the International Atomic Agency recording roughly a doubling of illicit trafficking in materials that could be used in dirty bombs, using radioactive material or, in a few cases, for nuclear devices.

One favored route is from the former Soviet Union into Georgia, on to Turkey, and then through Europe in ports like Antwerp. Incidents involving weapons grade nuclear material are very rare. Just one could lead to a catastrophe.

ANDREAS PERSBO, NUCLEAR ARMS RESEARCHER: It's a game changer. It will change everything for a very, very long time. Lives lost and infrastructure damaged mounting to billions. But you have the political short fallout. Who would know what happened?

NEWTON: Experts point out despite this program, we are still vulnerable. Improvised nuclear device encased in lead and uranium (inaudible).

WILLIAM KILMARTIN, MEGAPORTS PROGRAM DIRECTORS We have a ways to go to get to our ultimate goal, and that is protecting maritime traffic anywhere it's going.


NEWTON: Now, no one wants to be too alarmist about this. The risk is still quite low. But as we said in the report, John, it would only take one.

ROBERTS: This morning Paula.

COSTELLO: And a question for you, Paula. You mentioned that, you know, maybe ate low risk concern, but I'm sure a lot of people are wondering about security around these ports and if it's been, you know, if it's been made better?

NEWTON: Well, since 9/11 there's been this huge push on to try and screen some of that container traffic you were just looking at.

To let you know something, the eve after 9/11 we tried to get in a lot of ports in this country and England. No way. They would not let us on the premises. That's how extreme it is.

The real concern, Carol, is that some of these terrorists, some of these smugglers will hook up with insiders inside the state sponsored nuclear programs, and that could really be alarmist.

One note there, they say it will take less than $10 million to assemble a nuclear bomb and get it to the United States.

ROBERTS: Troubling if they can get their hands on the materials. Paula Newton this morning, fascinating report. Thanks so much. Tomorrow our "Spies among Us" series take a look at our security records since September the 11th. How have we been able to prevent a major terrorist attack on U.S soil since 2001. Was it the last administration or are we just lucky and no one has been plotting an attack?

COSTELLO: We'll answer those questions tomorrow. We're tracking several developing stories right now.

There are new details about the man who briefly hijacked a plane in Mexico City. Mexican officials say he is a 44-year-old Bolivian, a former drug addict and alcoholic who is now a minister. He told police he hijacked the plane because of yesterday's date 9-9-09, turn it around it's 6-06. He told reporters Christ is coming soon and officials say he told them he wanted to warn Mexico City of an earthquake, original reports say there were three hijackers instead of just one.

And the swine flu outbreak at Washington State University is only getting worse. Officials on the school dubbed (INAUDIBLE) officials on the campus say in just two and a half weeks, about 2,500 students have come down with possible cases of swine flu. But rather than test every case, the school says they are just following CDC guidelines.

A Republican lawmaker in California has quit his post after comments he made about his mistress went public. Former assemblyman Mike Duvall was in a meeting in July and was whispering about his lover, unaware that the whole thing was being picked up by a microphone. Parents, you may not want your children to hear this.


VOICE OF MIKE DUVALL, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY: So I've been getting into spanking her. You are?

Yeah, I like it.

Does she?

Yes, yes. She goes, "I know you like, I said, yes, because you're such a bad girl."


COSTELLO: Wow. Duvall left the statement on his Web site apologizing to voters, his colleagues, and his family too.

ROBERTS: You know, when we played that the last time, Carol, I was speechless. I was stupefied by the whole thing. I mean...

COSTELLO: I mean, why would he be even talking about it in a meeting like that

ROBERTS: Why would you be bragging to a colleague of yours? I mean...

COSTELLO: Well, I hope his mistress likes him. Don't you?

ROBERTS: Well, you don't want to pass judgment on anybody because everybody is open to temptation and trouble like that, but just how tasteless was that? I mean, seriously.

COSTELLO: I'd have to agree.

ROBERTS: Poor woman. Carol, thanks so much.

In his make or break speech to Congress and the nation, President Obama walked a fine line trying to reach out to Republicans but saying he had no time for those out to score short-term political points. And the GOP response, Republican congressman Charles Boustany said what Americans really want is for Congress to start over from scratch.

So, can the two parties ever see eye to eye? Let's bring in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who has got some thoughts on this. Mr. Mayor, it's great to see you.


ROBERTS: So back in August, you did an interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox Network in which you said, "I hope there is no hope for the health care plan this year." After watching the president last night, do you still feel that way?

GIULIANI: If he changes it significantly, if he can really do medical malpractice reform - of course, what he did was he said there would be a study of medical malpractice reform.

ROBERTS: He said as the Bush administration wanted to do, there would be some experimentation on local levels to see if it could be done.

GIULIANI: But there already have been. Texas has changed its whole system. There are now 20 percent more doctors in Texas. Other states have done it. There are about 10, 15 states that have done medical malpractice reform. If he really was serious about it, he would just do it the way he's talking about this public option or non-public option.

ROBERTS: He did have a very powerful lobby in the trial lawyers association breathing down his neck.

GIULIANI: He does.

ROBERTS: But I mean, is it not a start that should be embraced?

GIULIANI: Of course, but he should actually do it and he should take on the lobby rather than be afraid of it and he also should explain to us how much it is going to cost. Again, he's saying it's not going to cost any money, it's going to be deficit neutral. I always scale back -

ROBERTS: He said the total price would be $900 billion and it would not add a penny to the deficit. You don't believe him?

GIULIANI: Well, how do you do that? Are you going to reduce cost by 900? Who are you going to take it from? The only deficit neutral, which I know there was a little of political jingo, you know, talk in there and little jingle and stuff like that. But the reality is if you get to cover 30 more million people, which is down from 46 million. I don't know what happened to the other 16 million but...

ROBERTS: Many of them are illegal aliens.

GIULIANI: Eight or nine million.

ROBERTS: Well, they've...


GIULIANI: That's a big difference.

ROBERTS: You got to pick a number, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: It still cost money to cover 30 million. Who does it come from? Thirty million people. You're going to cover 30 million people. And you got to take coverage away from somebody. So who are you going to take coverage away from?

ROBERTS: You don't believe that there are inefficiencies in the system that if addressed correctly could add up to that amount of savings? So I think $600 million is what the president is looking at. And there would most likely be some sort of tax increase.

GIULIANI: First of all, no one has ever reduced the cost of medical spending ever. It's always two to three times more than predicted. Secondly, the president hasn't put a single specific on the table. It's a long road to saving $600 million, $700 million. When you give a speech like that and you don't give a single specific about what you would save money on. A lot of other specifics, nothing about how you're going to save money. So excuse me if I don't say that he has been very unspecific about how he's going to save money.

ROBERTS: What about this idea of a public option? The president says it's a good tool last night. He thinks that it would be a valuable thing to have in the health care arsenal in terms of helping to insure people who don't have insurance right now. But also left the door open that, OK, maybe we don't do a public option, saying that there are other ways to do it, that we need to consider that as well. If he were to drop the idea of a public option, do you think he could get more of your colleagues on board?

GIULIANI: Well, he would also have to drop the government having a big role in whatever this other thing is that he's going to do, which he said he wouldn't do. He said whatever option he comes up with the government will have a role in it. The government has to have a role in it. That's really the crux of the problem. The government has too big of a role in health care right now. The reform that is necessary that would really help would be to take the government out and to increase private insurance by having interstate purchase of insurance which he didn't mention at all by really doing TORT reform, by creating a tax break rather than a tax increase.

ROBERTS: But if the government is only creating this exchange where you bring together a group of health insurance providers where people can go in and shop is that a bad thing?

GIULIANI: Again, John, very unspecific. The president throws out this idea, he says I might back away from the public option. He didn't go quite that far. But I assumed that's what he means. But the government is still going to be involved. Before I can tell you whether I'm going to agree, you have to tell me how is the government going to be involved? And you also have to explain to me how you're going to save $600 million, $700 million whatever that number actually is. Because I haven't seen a single example. This man has already added more to the national debt than any president in history. So, I mean -

ROBERTS: You're going to get a lot of argument from people who will say that's what he was left and had to cover from the previous administration.

GIULIANI: Well, I never quite got that excuse when I took over as mayor. It lasted about a week. I mean, the reality is we are well into his presidency now. Whatever he was left with, what he has done is not cut expenses. He hasn't cut anything. What he has done is increase the national debt so it's now $9 trillion. This will add another trillion dollars to it. So tell me, how you're going to save money.

ROBERTS: You're going to get a huge argument on the debt thing. A lot of people are going to say that that's the Bush administration doing, not the Obama administration but let's move on.

GIULIANI: But who passed the $700 million second stimulus package.

ROBERTS: And people will say who got us into a war that we didn't need to go into.

GIULIANI: But the reality is...

ROBERTS: We can go back and forth on this all day.

GIULIANI: Since President Bush left office, the debt has increased to $9 trillion. It has increased under him more than any president in the history, every president takes over.

ROBERTS: And where did it go during the Bush administration?

GIULIANI: It went up but not nearly as much that. This is historic increase in debt.

ROBERTS: At any rate, let me come to a point that I want to make because there is a political component here. Many analysis has been done on this that if there's not a health care bill passed next year in the mid term elections, the democrats could lose somewhere between 20 and 40 seats. So it would seem to me that it would be good politics for Republicans to just oppose anything that's out there and go into 2010 with ahead of the steam to say that the Democrats had the House, they had the Senate and they had the presidency and they couldn't get anything done.

GIULIANI: He doesn't need Republicans to pass it. I mean, the reality is his problem with Democrats. He can't get Democrats to agree because he wants to spend way too much money because he's not being specific on how much he's going to save. Because there's a public option and there's not a public option. We're covering 46 million now covering 30 million. The lack of specificity and this is hurting him was his own party.

Republicans don't make a difference to this debate. The opposition here has been among democrats. He has enough votes to pass this. Republicans have very, very strong ideas about increasing private options, about doing TORT reform. He hasn't brought Republicans into this at all. He even asked for a meeting but he never had a meeting. So Republicans have no part in this.

ROBERTS: We got to go. We're out of time. But just before we go, so are you or are you not going to run for governor?

GIULIANI: Oh, we'll see.

ROBERTS: Come on. Don't tell me we'll see.

GIULIANI: We'll see.

ROBERTS: You're out there like you're campaigning.

GIULIANI: No, I'm not.

ROBERTS: You're saying all the things you would say in a campaign.

GIULIANI: We'll worry about that after this next election.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor, always good to kick things around with you. Appreciate it.

You can read the president's speech, by the way, and get reaction from both sides of the aisle. Plus we want to know what you think of the speech and the president's plan and what the mayor just had to say. Leave us a comment, it's all in our show blog. The address, Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm sure the mayor got out viewers fired up. So

Coming up next, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta rides along with an elite combat medical crew in Afghanistan. I mean the story is spectacular. Fascinating. You'll want to see it. It's 40 minutes past the hour.



COSTELLO: Do you think Derrek Jeter is the luckiest man on the face of the planet?

ROBERTS: He's pretty fortunate, yes. But I mean, he's also put a lot of hard work into this.

COSTELLO: He's got good looks. He's got talent, classy and now he's got something else.

ROBERTS: What is it, luck is the combination of when talent meets good planning?

COSTELLO: Yes, well, he's got good planning.

ROBERTS: He does.

COSTELLO: To play his position you have to plan, right? He pulled even last night on the all-time Yankee hit list with a man who once famously said those words - the luckiest man on the face of earth, Lou Gehrig. You know what I'm saying. The Yankee captain singled in the seventh inning in the new Yankee Stadium for his 2,721st hit. And of course, as I said, that tied Lou Gehrig for the most ever in a Yankee uniform.

ROBERTS: Tennis phenom, Melanie Oudin did not have as good of a night as Derrek Jeter did. Her sensational U.S. Open run is over. The number nine seed, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated the 17- year-old American in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. The teen tennis apparently never expected to get as far as she did. So it was a terrific tournament for her. Her hotel reservation ran out mid-week so she had to pack up and move to hotel next door. Can you imagine?

What hotel would throw her out? Hello! Coming up, Melanie is going to be with us to talk about here amazing ride. The hotel that she will probably never ever book herself in again. How stupid is that?

COSTELLO: Call them now and complain for her.

ROBERTS: You find her a room. We got the guy in California who is whispering about his affair over a live mic in the legislature and then we got a hotel in New York tossing out this tennis phenom.

COSTELLO: The world is a horrible place.

ROBERTS: I don't know. I can't deal with this.

COSTELLO: OK. Let's talk about Ellen. Because she's joining "American Idol." Yes, that's right. Talk show host Ellen Degeneres will become the fourth judge of the new season of "American Idol," replacing Paula Abdul. That's according to the show's producers. Ellen will continue to host her syndicated daily talk show because, you know, it's where she makes lots of money. But she called being an "American Idol" judge her dream job. No word on whether she will dance on the show, but I would like to see Simon judging her dancing. That would be interesting.


COSTELLO: And brutal. Although she's a pretty good dancer.

ROBERTS: She is. She has that little groove thing going on. She's really good at that.

Rob Marciano is monitoring all of the extreme weather for us. He's at the "Weather Center" in Atlanta. Can you believe the hotel threw Melanie out?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it reminds me of a country song because I live here in Atlanta and we have country music here. God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. It was great line, kind of wraps everything up (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTS: She lives just a little bit north of where you are, in Marietta.

MARCIANO: Yes. I wouldn't kick her out. But hey, she played well. And congratulations. I wouldn't kick her out if I was managing the hotel. Hey, easy now.

ROBERTS: I am going home.

MARCIANO: You two need a...

ROBERTS: I'm going down with a flu.

MARCIANO: Hey, check out this storm. South of New York. These folks in New York certainly want to kick this thing out of here. But it's going to hang around for a good couple of days. East winds with showers rolling in. Coastal flooding, some high surf as well. So that's what the forecast calls for with this particular system.

Also, down to the south we're looking at some showers across parts of Florida. That may be a problem. I want to talk briefly about what's going on with Fred. It's a hurricane, category 2, it was a 3. But this thing is going to be a fish storm. So I wouldn't worry too much about Fred. I don't think it's going to bother really anybody too much.

One thing about what's going on with the space shuttle, trying to land tonight at 7:05. Right now looks pretty good. There will be isolated showers. But I think they should be able to land this puppy when 7:05 rolls around. All right. Remember a couple of missions ago, the space shuttle was sent up to help the Hubble space telescope. And these are images from the refurbished telescope there. The (INAUDIBLE) nebule (ph) just brighter than anything before. This cluster of galaxies. Each one of those swirling dots is an actual galaxy with more stars as Carl Sagan would say from my alma mater, billions and billions of stars out there. Cool stuff. All right. Congratulations. Hope the shuttle gets home tonight. Fred looks like a fish storm. And Cornell has an excellent school of hotel management as well.

ROBERTS: All right.


ROBERTS: Rob, thanks so much. Appreciate it. We'll see you again soon.

MARCIANO: All right.

ROBERTS: It's coming in now at 49 minutes after the hour.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been doing some amazing coverage in Afghanistan. Doctors on the front lines treating injuries, not only American troops, coalition troops as well, but even just, you know, little kids who fall down a hill and hit their head really hard. He rides along with an elite combat medical crew. This story you got to see. It's coming up right up on the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. You've heard of urgent care, but you've never seen doctors this fast. We're "Paging our Dr. Gupta," on the other side of the world, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes you into the most dangerous part of Afghanistan for a ride-along with the fastest combat medics on earth.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One hour, that's it. Minutes began ticking down when word came that two men, both civilians, about 40 miles from here, were critically wounded. Without help, they could bleed out and die.

SGT. NATE DABNEY, COMBAT FLIGHT MEDIC, U.S. ARMY: If there are urgent patients, we have time lines where we need to be moving extremely fast. I mean, within minutes. We don't mess around. When that bell rings, we run and we get out here, we get all geared up and we take off.

GUPTA (on camera): Right now we're in a Medevac black hawk helicopter traveling at least 1,200 feet off the ground. We know there are two patients who have been stabbed. That's all we know. We don't know how bad off they are.

(Voice-over): It's what these guys do. I'm with an elite medical dust off crew. The name goes back to Vietnam. It was the radio emergency call signal to chopper in the combat flight medics. They are a go team, 24/7, they steel moments of time to save lives.

DABNEY: Our job is to get people up and out of here in those seconds. Because seconds count.

GUPTA: For Nate Dabney and his team, most missions are about rescuing American military.

DABNEY: They're leaving this gate every day on foot, in vehicles, knowing what's out there. And if they can do that, then I'll do anything to make sure they get out all right.

GUPTA: But today the call came to save Afghan locals. It's a critical part of the U.S. strategy to win the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians. We are now into the golden hour. Most trauma patients who die of blood loss die within an hour unless we can stabilize them. So we have 20 minutes to fly. 20 minutes to get the patient on the chopper, 20 minutes to get the patient to a hospital. It's one golden hour.

DABNEY: So when I got in the aircraft, my mind-set is airway, oxygen, stabilization of the chest. Fine-tuning this down to the very last second is the most important thing.

GUPTA: But with the dust off teams, the challenge is not just getting to the patients, but about getting out of there safely.

DABNEY: This is probably the most dangerous place in Afghanistan. Couldn't see any security out yet, and here we are coming into this area, you know, you can see it when we're going, there's six-foot-high cornfields and water and mud everywhere, not very many ways for us to get out of there real quick if we had to. So I was worried.

GUPTA: For so many reasons, that fear is always looming. Dabney surprised me when you pulled out this picture. These are his three boys.

DABNEY: I've discussed it with my wife, written a letter for her to read to them. When it comes to that kind of thing, you hope that they're proud of you. One of those things you try not to think about.

GUPTA (on camera): It must have been a tough letter to write though.

DABNEY: It was. It was a real, in fact, it probably took me about - you know, being a dad is probably the most privileged and most important job you could ever have, no matter what you do. I mean, you know this. But at the same time, showing them what being a man's really about, you know, fighting for your country, sacrificing for your country. Things that are more important than, you know, staying home and avoiding this kind of thing.

GUPTA (voice-over): As for today's mission, Dabney and his dust off crew cheated the clock again. It's now clear the two men they flew in to save will survive their terrible wounds.


GUPTA: And Nate Dabney is expected to be here in Afghanistan until the beginning of next year. It can be a very busy job for them. Up to nine to ten of those Medevac missions in a single day. Incredible work.

Also I want to give you an update on the little boy Malik that we've been covering all week. It had been a little bit of a roller coaster for him over the last couple of days. Taking a look at some video there.

He had a bit of a fever, which can happen after an operation like this, but it really did slow him down for a period of time, which made the next couple of days even more impressive. As you see, he is walking there. Remember, we were concerned that he might not have any strength on the left side of his body, but he is putting weight on that left leg, able to walk with just a little bit of assistance from his father.

We've also got a very special report about Malik tomorrow, uncovering some details about his story which we just uncovered and have not yet shared. Some remarkable stuff. Certainly stay tuned for that. Back to you.

ROBERTS: Sanjay Gupta with a terrific story this morning. And all this week on "A.C. 360," Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Michael Ware are live from the battle zone. It's a dangerous region and a critical time there, only CNN is live with exclusive reports. It's "A.C. 360" tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

We're hearing from a lot of people on this health care stuff this morning, aren't we?

COSTELLO: A lot of you have a lot to say, to keep them coming,

Coming up, we're going to be talking to two doctors. President Obama talked a little bit about how he wants to pay for health care reform, so what kind of burden will that place on hospitals? We'll ask those two doctors when we come back. It's just about 8:00 Eastern.