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CNN Live Event/Special

Fixing America's Broken Health Care System; YouTube Generation's Top Priorities

Aired July 18, 2007 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
As Wolf has been talking about, we're keeping track of a developing story here in New York. The pictures are just amazing. Part of midtown Manhattan is still blocked off, after a huge explosion in an underground steam pipe. Police say at least two people were critically injured.

A huge geyser of steam blew through a hole in the middle of the street near Grand Central Terminal. And when the explosion hit just about two hours ago, people were literally running for their lives, afraid it was terrorism.

Police tell CNN it is not, that they can rule that out. The FBI also confirming that just moments ago.

Now, since these pictures were taken, the feeder line has been shut down and a huge crater remains. And we will keep you posted on that. The mayor of New York holding a news conference shortly. If any new details come out of that, we will share them with you.

We're going to turn now to our main subject tonight. All this week, we are counting down to Monday's YouTube debate at the Citadel Military College in Charleston, South Carolina.

It's a debate unlike any other, because it's your chance to pose a question to the Democratic presidential candidates. As of right now, some 1,400 of you have posted some videos on the video-sharing Web site YouTube. We still don't know which ones will make it into the debate, but all this week we are focusing in on some of the most provocative and most important questions coming in.

Tonight, how badly broken is our health care system? Would a government cure be worse than a problem? And what is our responsibility as consumers to help bring down some of those costs?

Could a Democratic president polish America's image around the world? And so far who's in the lead in that category?

And what are the YouTube's generation's top priorities? Do they conflict with yours?

Well, health care of course is already one of the biggest issues of the presidential campaign and a heated one at that. It's also one of the subjects we are seeing most often in the YouTube debate questions coming our way. It is amazing to hear people tell their stories.

Let me share one with you right now.


KIM "RIZZO1000," RESIDENT OF LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK: I'm 36 years old and hope to be a future breast cancer survivor. Like millions of Americans, I have gone for years without health insurance.

What would you, as president, do to make low-cost or free preventative medicine available for everybody in this country?

JIM PENCE, RESIDENT OF KENTUCKY: The place that I worked at for 35 years promised me health care insurance as part of my retirement package. They broke their promise. Members of Congress have the best health care insurance money can buy, paid for with my tax dollars. Why should I pay for their health care insurance, when they didn't bother to protect mine?

SUSIE FLYNN: I'm running for president, but I wasn't invited to the debates. So, I will ask you this question as an outsider. Children are the least expensive to insure, compared to other costs the government easily funds. Why is it so difficult to find the money to insure them?

ANN CARTER, RESIDENT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: My father suffers from diabetes. I want to know what you would do to emphasize prevention in your health care plan so that the cost and burden of chronic disease is decreased for future generations.

BRANDON, RESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA: As a former United States Marine, my question to the candidates is, what are you going to do to guarantee that those who have served in the military will get the medical assistance that they so rightfully deserve?


ZAHN: Some pointed questions that certainly deserve some answers. Lots of people think our health care system is broken.

The argument starts when you ask how to fix it. Just this morning President Bush threatened to veto a bill that would increase cigarette taxes to Insure about three million children who aren't covered right now.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe government cannot provide affordable health care. I believe it would cause -- it would cause the quality of care to diminish. I believe there would be lines and rationing over time.


ZAHN: It's important to note that some nine million children in our country don't have any kind of health insurance. So, what is the best prescription? Well, since so many of you want to know how the presidential election will affect your health care, we asked medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen to show us the possibilities and exactly what the presidential candidates are saying.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this stage, presidential candidates are talking about health care, but whoever wins the White House will likely have a lot of real work on his or her hands.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to lower costs, improve quality and cover everybody.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you believe in higher taxes and socialized medicine, don't vote for me.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most families want health care, but they can't afford it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It doesn't make sense to me that 45 million people don't have health insurance.

COHEN: Of all the millions of Americans living without insurance, 19 percent are children. And, according to a 2005 study, there are nearly 16 million adults who have health insurance, but still struggle to afford medical treatment.

The elderly are covered by Medicare for now, but it's projected that Medicare will be bankrupt by 2019.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: My plan will require insurance companies to provide coverage to everyone.

COHEN: These sobering statistics have made California think about ways to assure health care coverage for nearly all its residents. Massachusetts and Vermont already have laws moving in that direction.

And because the high cost of drugs is such a big component of the insurance problem, people are looking for ways to reduce those costs. In 2004, Americans spent $760 million on buying cheaper medications from Canada.

Recent polls show that health care is a top priority for Americans in the upcoming election, rating in the top five issues among both Republicans and Democrats. Voters want to hear specific proposals from candidates about costs and coverage.

A 2006 Gallup poll found that over 70 percent of Americans said the health care system is in a state of crisis or has major problems. Only 3 percent think the current system works properly. But there is a paradox. While most everyone agrees the system is broken, over half say they want to keep the current system. Americans spend more than any other nation on health care, about $2 trillion a year. But the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. only 37th out of 191 countries when it comes to the quality of that care. Some say the U.S. system is in critical condition. Now each voter must decide which presidential candidate can provide the best treatment.


ZAHN: We're going to explore now the politics of health care a little bit more. Elizabeth Cohen joins us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. And our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, joins us from Washington.



ZAHN: So, Elizabeth, you cover the medical community. You hear just about every complaint the doctors have and patients have. What is the most common one you hear?

COHEN: You know, what you hear a lot, of course, is doctors talking about the uninsured. It's such a huge problem.

Often, these people, they don't get any preventive care, so they end up having huge medical problems that Medicaid, the government, has to pay for, or hospitals have to pay for, when those problems could have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.

And even when people have insurance, Paula -- this is something that drives doctors and patients crazy -- insurance companies deny claims. They say, we won't pay for this because it's not medically necessary, even though the doctor said it was medically necessary. So, those insurance denials, doctors and patients alike, think are a real problem.

ZAHN: Well, certainly, Bill, all of these Democratic and Republican candidates have heard these complaints. Out of all of them, who's really listening, and who would you say at this point is considered the true champion of health care reform?

SCHNEIDER: Well, look, Paula, they are all competing with plans to cut costs and expand coverage.

John Edwards has a plan that he says would require all Americans to have health insurance, to buy health insurance, with subsidies for the poor and would expand it to near -- to universal coverage, just like automobile insurance. You have to buy auto insurance. You have to buy health insurance.

Barack Obama says the first priority should be to make sure that it's affordable, because to require you to buy it if it's not affordable won't do much do. Hillary Clinton has the most experience in this area. The details of her plan she promises will be coming out soon, but she shares the same goal, to expand access to universal coverage.

Perhaps the most interesting proposal, the boldest, is Dennis Kucinich, who favors a single-payer plan run by the federal government.

Now, the Republicans say, well, that's socialism. Well, no, his supporters say. That's Medicare.

ZAHN: Well, yes, we have heard that before.

And, Bill, you just mentioned Hillary Clinton. And I think it's worth our all revisiting something from a long time ago, in 1993 and '94, when she very forcefully took on the challenge, universal health care. Remember these days? Let's watch.


CLINTON: Back in '93 and '94 we tried to come forward with a plan. We weren't successful. I have the scars to show for that experience.


ZAHN: Yes. She certainly has the scars, Bill, but will they live on or will people forget the secrecy of the process that she used as she tried to reform health care?

SCHNEIDER: Well, that was the problem, the secrecy of the process, the fact it was done by a bunch of pointy-headed experts with pens and clipboards.

She said, the problem is, you have to have a political coalition. That's what she said she learned as a result of that bitter experience from the early 1990s. You have to build, just like the civil rights laws were passed, a coalition of interests that want this law to be passed, and puts pressure on Congress, and can stand up to the special interests, the insurance companies, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical manufacturers, which they weren't able to do in 1994.

Now, what could be the critical element in this coalition? She talks about it. Business, because the costs of providing health insurance for employees has made a lot of businesses uncompetitive.

ZAHN: Certainly issues that we all got to stay on top of.

Bill Schneider, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

ZAHN: The political perspective of course just part of the story. And since so many of the YouTube questions are about health care, let's ask a prominent doctor what he sees out there.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is a professor and vice chairman of surgery for New York Presbyterian Columbia University Hospital. If the name of that hospital gets any longer, I'm going to run out of breath. DR. MEHMET OZ, HEALTH EXPERT: I thought it was a church initially.

ZAHN: Oh, my goodness.


ZAHN: From your perspective, how much of a crisis are we in when it comes to health care?

OZ: Well, from the inside, I will tell you, very scarily, that 50 percent of doctors don't want their kids going into medicine. We can't get enough nurses in our hospitals anymore in America.

And that reflects a deep-seated lack of confidence that we're able to address the challenges we face in health care. And there are two big ones. And they have been mentioned. The first is, we don't have information systems. America is going wireless. We're still using pencils and paper to keep track of our patients, which means, frustrating as it is, I have trouble figuring out what is right to do today for my patient.

And even more importantly, Paula, you as a patient can't figure out how to audit me. At the same time, we have 5,000 insurance entities for 5,000 acute care hospitals. So, you can't keep track of what kind of insurance you have, what is going to be denied. And, to boot, 50 million people roughly don't have any insurance at all.

ZAHN: So, what is the answer to piercing that bureaucracy? That is certainly something you can't solve overnight.

OZ: Well, one our biggest challenges is nihilism. People don't think they can fix the problem. But we can, Paula.

ZAHN: How?

OZ: And there are a couple things that make a lot of...


ZAHN: You got all these candidates out there with 10,000 different options for us to consider.

OZ: Well, one thing for sure is someone has to say, this is my mandate for America. If you elect me president, this is going to happen.

I had the honor, actually, of being the moderator for Arnold Schwarzenegger's health summit before his reelection. The only thing that was really, really important that came out of that is, he said, the first thing I'm going to get health care on the docket. And I'm going to take that train out of the station. And you can't block me. So, if you want to be part of the solution, go ahead and give me advice. But you can't stop me.

ZAHN: How often are you as a doctor blocked from giving someone care, perhaps lifesaving care, because they don't have insurance or they don't have the right kind of insurance?

OZ: Paula, it has happened to me personally. Colleagues of mine have had the same problem. It doesn't have to happen every day. And it doesn't, thankfully.

But there have been times when I have been tempted to break my Hippocratic oath to put my patient first, because, although I could save their life, they didn't have the ability to reimburse whoever had to pay for it.

And what happens then is that the system goes bankrupt. You can't afford those services anymore. We can't have people who have given their life to health care being pulled in two directions, because one party says, you can't help that person, they're not in the system, and at same time the family is looking at you longingly saying, save my life.

ZAHN: And then you also have these ridiculous, some would say, constraints, where something is considered experimental and it is something you have used all along that you know can work and has saved lives.

OZ: Hugely frustrating, because experimental is in the eye of the beholder.

And we can't have the health care system torn about by that. The most expensive thing in health care, Paula, is bad medicine. And we are creating a system that allows bad medicine to prosper, by not having information systems, by having folks wander into the port of a emergency room like a rudderless ship, smacking into the galleys, because they don't have the coverage that would have given them the high-quality medicine that we know cuts costs.

And, lastly -- if you're looking at this at home, we're talking about you -- we need smart patients. Do not abdicate your responsibility to health care. You have to get involved in picking the best medicine and making sure that the system gets better for you, because all politics is local, as Tip O'Neill said. All health care is personal.

ZAHN: We certainly need informed consumers. I don't know about you. The number that gets me the most is the fact that there are nine million children in this country that don't have any insurance at all.

OZ: That's a good starting point for any candidate. If you are under 18 years of age in this country, you should have insurance, period, no questions. All you need is a birth certificate to prove that you're less than 18 years of age. It ought to be done.

ZAHN: It's heartbreaking.

OZ: Heartbreaking.

ZAHN: Unacceptable.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, thank you for dropping by. OZ: Honor.

ZAHN: I know you are on call. I'm waiting for that beeper to go off. I hope it doesn't. We're not done with you yet.


ZAHN: Another question people want the presidential candidates to answer next Monday concerns the image of the United States.

Look very closely. This video comes all the way from China.


KENT GINGRIDGE, BEIJING, CHINA: As an American, it's pretty scary when I see people around the world protesting our country.

I want to know, if you become president, what are you going to do to restore America's reputation overseas?


ZAHN: Next in our debate countdown, is America's image as bad as he thinks? If it is, what could possibly improve it?

Also a topic that may surprise you. It is causing a lot of outrage and we're seeing a lot of questions about it.

Plus, what can politicians do to connect with young voters from the YouTube generation. Well, wait until you see how wired they are these days.

We will be right back.


ZAHN: We are counting down tonight to our YouTube presidential debate coming up next Monday. The Democratic candidates will face off in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Citadel Military College.

And the questions will come from folks like you, people from out there who have posted them on YouTube. Already more than 1,400 of them have come in. And some of them focus on America's image around the world.


BRIAN, RESIDENT OF OHIO: In our 231 history, we faced a lot of challenges, World War I, World War II, the Cold War. We prevailed in all of these.

However, I think that our current struggle against terrorism is just as dangerous. Yet, we have fewer friends in the world than ever. I want to know what you would do as president to restore our image in the world.

GINGRIDGE: I'm coming to you now from Tiananmen Square, which was the most political place I could find.

As an American, it's pretty scary when I see people around the world protesting our country.

I want to know, if you become president, what are you going to do to restore America's reputation overseas?

BEN MACK, PENNSYLVANIA: There's a lot of talk on the Democratic side about restoring America's place in the world. But no one really seems to be talking about what exactly that means. What, to you, should America's place in the world be?

UNIDENTIFIED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS: Hi. We're Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Peru. And we would like to know:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would your administration shape foreign policy to improve the image of the United States abroad and extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world?


ZAHN: Important questions to be addressed. In fact, in the days right after 9/11, the U.S. did have sympathy from most of the world. Spontaneous memorials cropped up all over the place. Europe declared a day of mourning and even held a moment of silence for the dead.

Well, since then, America's image has taken a big hit, as we now hear from Jill Dougherty.


CLINTON: And the increasingly difficult task of restoring America's leadership in a world that has come to view our nation with suspicion and mistrust.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iraq has done tremendous damage to the U.S. interests in the Middle East, our military, and, last but not least, to our moral authority in the world.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many around the world are disappointed with our actions.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN INTERNATIONAL U.S. AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice- over): The war in Afghanistan chipped away at the goodwill many countries felt toward the U.S. after the attacks of 9/11.

But it's the four-year-old Iraq war that has caused the deepest damage to America's reputation. And a new survey of 47 nations by Washington's Pew Research Center shows just how tarnished that is. In most Muslim countries, America's image remains abysmal, the survey shows. In some cases, more than 80 percent of people have an unfavorable view of America.

Even among traditional European allies, the U.S. is losing ground. Just 30 percent of Germans have a positive view of the U.S. So, does anyone still like America? Much of Africa does. In Asia, in countries like India and Japan, two-thirds have a positive view. In Latin America, the U.S. image has slipped, but majorities there still have a positive opinion of the U.S.

Discontent with America overall, however, is deepening.

ANDREW KOHUT, PRESIDENT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: I think it's Iraq. But the broader perception is that the United States acts unilaterally, doesn't take into account my country's position when it formulates foreign policy.

DOUGHERTY: The U.S. also is being blamed for the world's environmental problems. And in one British poll, President George W. Bush was deemed a greater danger to world peace than North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

The Bush administration is spending $800 million a year trying to turn the U.S. image around, with Ambassador Karen Hughes taking charge of a campaign to promote America's values to the world. She says programs like this friendship camp in Turkey will help.

KAREN HUGHES, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: To the extent that America is seen as making those investments and helping, partnering with people and nations around the world in ways that improve people's lives, that ultimately is the best public diplomacy, I believe.

DOUGHERTY: But the issues fueling hatred of America are still here. If the war in Iraq were over, if there were peace between Israel and the Palestinians, maybe things would be different.


ZAHN: And Jill Dougherty joins me now, along with chief national correspondent John King.

Jill, I wanted to go back to one of those statistics you just showed in your report, before it is really, really important. A British poll found out, when asked which world leader poses a risk to world peace, people ranked President Bush just below Osama bin Laden and above Kim Jong Il.

What is it that the next president can do to change that equation?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think there are three things, Paula.

Number one, in this survey and in others, it comes out of course Iraq is one of the issues. Iraq has to be solved one way or the other. Also, the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one of the underlying factors that everybody points to.

The next thing would be this unilateralism that you just heard about, the idea that the U.S. kind of struts around, does what it wants, and tells everybody else what to do. And then the third thing, I think, would be doing something on the issues that the allies of the United States want something done on. And that does include global warming and environmental issues.

ZAHN: So, those are three big challenges for a potential presidential contender.

John King, of all the candidates out there, who has credibility on this issue?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, it's important to note first that history tells us what people say as candidates is not always what they do as president.

Back in 1992, Bill Clinton said he would not coddle the butchers of Beijing. He had quite a comfortable and close relationship with China. George W. Bush promised a humble foreign policy. His critics would say he has done anything but.

But among the Democrats running now, those who claim the experience, we begin with Senator Clinton. Said says, I was in the White House for eight years. I was at my husband's side. I know the world. I know foreign policy. And guess what? I have him as an asset and will use him as an asset in the world.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico was an ambassador to the United States. He's been a negotiator overseas. He says he has the experience. And Senator Joe Biden of Delaware has been a leading Democratic voice on foreign policy for about a quarter-century.

So, they would claim the experience. And to the degree this is an issue, it could come against, if you will, Senator Obama or Senator Edwards, because they have less seasoning on the world stage.

ZAHN: It is hard, the degree to which this is an issue, John, because it's not one of those things that is routinely polled.

But, Jill, from just looking at some of these YouTube video contributions we have got, it seems to be an issue. And I want to share one more of those with our audience now. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will you do as president to ensure that basic human rights and America's place as moral compass to the world don't fall to the wayside when interrogating suspects or persons of interest in this continuing war on terror?


ZAHN: We think she's referring to Abu Ghraib and the amount of suspects humiliated and in some cases out-and-outright humiliated.

How much does that sting? How much does that affect these numbers you were talking about? DOUGHERTY: Well, Paula, it's not so much going after the terrorists. There are a lot of people who want to go after the terrorists, but it's the methods that are used.

And when you get into things that would be by some considered legally questionable, that's where the U.S. president existing right now runs into problems, and that's where the next president is going to have to draw the line. What can be used against an opponent that has never been an opponent before? It's a very difficult issue.


ZAHN: John King, another final thought on that huge challenge?

KING: Well, the credibility of the United States has been hurt because of Abu Ghraib and other incidents. And that will be a challenge for the next president.

And what will be striking among the Democrats, anyway, Paula, is that they also promise to do things this president won't do. They say they would talk to Syria and Iran. They say they would work with the Europeans and the others on global climate change, something President Bush has refused to do, because he would not take the steps necessary to meet the Europeans on those issues.

So, these Democratic candidates say they will engage more, if elected. But, again, history says what they say as candidates isn't always what they do as president.

ZAHN: Such a student of history you are. And you have to remind those candidates of some of those little lane changes they have made along the way. Highly predictable, though.

John King, thank you.

Jill Dougherty, appreciate your time as well.

Our debate countdown moves on to an issue that may surprise a lot of you. We're seeing a bunch of questions about it, including one that really got our attention. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, yo, my name and where I live doesn't matter. What matters is that this is no longer a tool anymore. This is a killing device.


ZAHN: So, what sparked that intense question? Well, it actually did turn into a question of that, which you will get to see the whole thing in just a moment. But you have got to stick around to see the rest of this one.

We will be right back.


ZAHN: Five nights from tonight, the Democratic presidential candidates will be facing each other here on CNN in an unique debate. They will be taking questions submitted by YouTube users.

More than 1,400 questions have already been posted. And a lot of questions them deal with the crisis in Darfur, a region in the African nation of Sudan where international observers say some 200,000 people have died during four years of violence.


SCOTT SUTTON, NORTH CAROLINA: I grew up in a country in Chad in Africa.

This is me as a young boy in Africa with eight of my friends. These young men and their families are currently being slaughtered and starved in the Darfur crisis. How are you going to stop genocide?

THECLOCSTRIKIN, DARFUR: Hey yo, my name and where I live, it doesn't matter. What matters is that this is no longer a tool anymore. This is a killing device. Now, imagine all these blades cutting deeply into your skin. I think you know what I'm talking about.

Right now, millions face this in Darfur. My question to the next president (GUN SHOT) OK, now imagine that gun actually was pointed at you in real life. It doesn't feel so good, does it? This is what millions have to face. So, my question once again, what are you going to do to stop the genocide in Darfur?

GABRIEL, REFUGEE CAMP: Imagine yourself the parent of one of these children. What action do you commit to that will get these children back home to a safe Darfur?


ZAHN: Well, those are questions that'll certainly get the attention of the candidates. And what we're trying to figure out tonight is how Darfur became such a mess. We ask senior international correspondent Nic Robertson to take us step-by-step through this crisis.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than two million people forced from their homes, more than 200,000 dead. The United States calls it genocide. Darfur is in western Sudan, it's big, almost the size of Texas, home to about 6-1/2 million people, a majority of those people farmers who live in tiny villages, mostly ethnic Africans. They share the scrubby landscape with a minority of nomadic herders, mostly ethnic Arabs.

Almost everyone is Muslim. Darfur is the latest in a long series of ethnic and political violence in Sudan. In 2003, Darfur's ethnic African leaders demanded more rights and power in central government in the capital, Khartoum. The government resisted and exploited historic tensions between Africans and Arabs. The government backed and armed Arab militias, the Janjaweed, to drive the African farmers off their land. Within months there was a spree of slaughter and rape. Hundreds of thousands of villagers watched their homes burned to the ground. Their livelihoods destroyed.

Villagers said some of the worst atrocities were carried out by armed Janjaweed riding horses and camels backed up by Sudanese army helicopters.

The international community has tried to help, more than 13,000 aide workers in the world's biggest aide operation face huge problems in getting food and medicine to the needy. Aide agencies says the government in Khartoum has actively obstructed efforts to help in Darfur. Janjaweed militia men and criminals kill, injure and intimidate humanitarian workers. They loot food convoys and steal aide vehicles.

A tiny African union peacekeeping force has failed to stop the murder and rape. Under massive international pressure, the Sudanese government has hinted it might allow a bigger peacekeeping force, but only from African countries.

The chance that a political agreement might stop the violence, appears to be very remote and that has increased the pressure on outside parties, like United States, to step in and help stop the killing.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


ZAHN: With me now, someone who submitted a question about Darfur. He is an American who grew up right next to Darfur. He's the son of missionaries and his father, a doctor, often treated refugees from Sudan. Scott Sutton says to him, the crisis in Darfur is very personal.

Thanks so much for being with us, Scott. That certainly came through, through the very passionate question you asked of the candidates. How seriously do you think any of them are taking this crisis?

SUTTON: I believe they're taking it very seriously. For example, Barack Obama has visited where I grew up. And Governor Richardson, he has been there, and he's even brokered a deal to release a journalist who was wrongly imprisoned by the Sudanese government. So, I believe that there are a few candidates who have seriously tried to help. However, I really am looking forward to hearing their answers and knowing that they will take me seriously.

ZAHN: What is it you haven't heard so far that you would like to hear?

SUTTON: I need a president who's going to understand that when America sneezes, Africa catches the flu. That although we have problems at home, the world is depending on us and we have to take action. I'm looking for someone who's going to be strong to China, I'm looking for somebody who's going to be strong in the United Nations, who's going to bolster the African Union troops there, to provide security, to stop the rapes.

ZAHN: I know you brought along with you an e-mail from a friend who is witnessing this tragedy first-hand. Can you share that with us right now, to better understand the horror of what he's witnessed?

SUTTON: Absolutely. I brought this e-mail, it was sent to me in December. And the very first line goes: "Greetings from Abeshay (ph), where fear and uncertainty reign at the moment. This is the longest running period of real unrest that I've known in my 18 years here."

ZAHN: And certainly you have an idea of just how bad things are for all of them. Just a quick description before we have to move on.

SUTTON: For example, there was a village of 200 people. Now, has a United Nations refugee camp of 80,000, water, firewood, food is all scarce, now. My friends are pretending to be refugees because life inside the refugee camps is better than life outside.

ZAHN: Unfortunately, stories that we have heard repeated thousands of times. Scott Sutton, thanks so much for brining that to our attention, tonight.

SUTTON: You're welcome.

ZAHN: Most of the debate questions pouring into YouTube are from younger people. So, how is it the politicians connect with this newest generation of voters? We're going to explore that in just a minute. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Welcome back to the CNN/YouTube Debate Countdown. The Democratic candidates will be in Charleston, South Carolina next Monday, taking questions from people all over the world. So far, more than 1,400 questions have been posted on YouTube. They, of course, we will not get all of them in, so we're playing some of the best ones this week, and exploring some of the critical issues they raise.

Now, one of the factors in this election could be YouTube, itself, and the people who use it. They are young, most of them, and judging from their questions, they're just as concerned about the country's future as their parents.


WILDCAT69410: As a 16-year-old who will be voting in my first election come 2008, I'm often frustrated by the lack of coverage on issues that will affect my generation. So, my question posed to all of the candidates is what issue will affect my generation the most, and furthermore, what are you, as a candidate, doing about it?


ZAHN: With me now, Internet correspondent Abbi Tatton, who might be able to take a stab at that one; and James Kotecki who graduated from college just a few weeks ago and runs a political video blog. He is already advising presidential candidates on how to use YouTube. Welcome. Glad to have both of you with us.

So, Abbey, it's not the easiest thing for anyone to connect with a political candidate, here, even if you're an adult and you can write a big check. So, do you think the Internet is giving young people any more access to candidates than they had before?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: It's giving them access, Paula, it's giving them easy access. Think about 10 or 15 years ago. If he wanted to get involved with a campaign, if you wanted to ask a candidate a question, you had to go to some great lengths to do it. Well, now it's just a couple clicks away. And you're seeing people creating the online videos, really getting involved. It's easy to do.

You see people, tens of thousands of people, joining MySpace communities for a particular candidate. Or FaceBook communities, as well. But it is easy and that begs the question then, well, how much commitment is actually going to come from these people? It's easy to build up these tens of thousands of people on these Websites, but then it's up to the campaigns, the candidates themselves to actually translate that into real votes.

ZAHN: And that's the real challenge and hurdle for these candidates. But it strikes me that there is one theme that has run through some of these video contributions, and that is -- I don't know what you want to call it, skepticism or cynicism. Let's listen.


RYAN, VERSAILLES, KY: I'm sick and tired of politicians. I'm sick and tired of the way that you always promise this -- promise us this or promise us that and you never deliver -- Republicans and Democrats, alike. So my question is this, what makes you different and why should I believe you. Thanks.


ZAHN: That's a good question, James. How many young people out there are turned off by all of the broken promises we've seen coming out of Washington?

JAMES KOTECKI, POLITICAL VIDEO BLOGGER: I think a lot of people are turned off by it. But that's why this election is so exciting and it's so different. It's because now, for the first time, we can really start having this direct access to candidates. So, we're very optimistic about this, but we're also cautiously optimistic to see if the candidates will actually open up and be authentic with us, this time, as opposed to kind of being, you know, media driven, P.R. based political robots that I think young people often see them as. ZAHN: Well James, we've seen the performances at these debates. These candidates are well rehearsed. There's not really a question, very often, that's unanticipated, so what do you suspect will be the result of all of this? Will it make any difference?

KOTECKI: Well, I hope that you guys select questions for the YouTube debate, occasionally, questions that are off beat and maybe even a little bit goofy, and throw them some curveballs, if you can. Because those are the kind of times when we can catch a politician off guard, in an unguarded moment, in a casual moment, that we can get a better sense of who they're going to be as a leader. I mean, young people, I think, should be the most concerned about this election because we're inheriting this country. And I think we are going to be very passionately involved if we get that kind of authenticity from our politicians.

ZAHN: And Abbi, at the top you were kind of describing to us how easy it is for potential voters to access the candidates. Just a quick thought on how it is the candidates are effectively using the Internet now, to really reach out.

TATTON: Well, it very much depends on the campaign, but you do see some of them making a real effort to reach young people in the spaces that they're operating in. John Edwards is one who's noted for his Web outreach. Go to his Website, look at the social networking sites that he use, it's not just MySpace and FaceBook, it's a whole list of them, more than a dozen different sites. So, people really trying to reaches out.. But it does depend on the particular campaign -- Paula.

ZAHN: You will be tracking all of this closely for us in the months to come, leading up to this general election. Abbi Tatton, thanks so much. James Kotecki, congratulations on the graduation, good luck with the blog.

KOTECKI: Thank you.

ZAHN: Of all the presidential debates over the years, one question really stands out. Remember this one from 1988?


BERNIE SHAW, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?


ZAHN: Well, fast forward to today. How can you ask a memorable question and throw a politician off his or her talking points? That's coming up. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: The Democratic presidential candidates will be facing off next Monday night in a unique debate here on CNN. They're going to be answering questions submitted by users of YouTube. And this week we are counting down to it. Thousands of question have come in so far, some are strange, very strange, most of them happen to be serious and some of them, we think, are really smart.


ANDREW KENNEDY, LONG ISLAND, NY: My question is for Senator Clinton. Senator, can you please explain why African-American voters should choose you instead of Barack Obama.

STAKS ROSCH, WESTCHESTER, PA: I know all of you support civil unions for gay people, but why don't you support gay marriage? Give me just one good reason.

ZENNIE ABRAHAM, OAKLAND, CA: On July 12, a microphone picked up a private conversation between Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards discussing the need to have fewer presidential candidates in the debates. Let's bring this question out in the open. Is it appropriate for one presidential candidate to say to the other presidential candidate that he or she should not be in the debates, let alone the presidential race itself?

KAREN SCOTT, SAN ANTONIO, TX (singing): Are you going to help to stop telephone (INAUDIBLE), I can't understand a single word that they are voicing. Don't understand a word -- a word that I have heard...

JOHN DARDENNE, BATON ROUGE, LA: I have too much fear. If elected, what will you do about this problem? And why?


ZAHN: Even thought more than 1,000 questions have already come in, we're looking for more. So, we thought we'd spend some time talking about what makes a really good, tough and sometimes memorable question.

I want to bring in my colleague, Wolf Blitzer; he has already hosted two of our tradition debates, this year, so he's in a good position to know what makes a great question.

Wolf, always good to see you. I know that one of our challenges, as we've gone into this debate, is finding a question that will a candidate off their talking point. They have rehearsed these questions over and over again. So, what might possibly break through?

WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM: That's an excellent, excellent question in and of itself, because we spent a long time in those first two debates in New Hampshire, trying to come up precisely with that. How do you get these candidates away from their preparation, try to surprise them, see them off guard, if you will. And you try to find tough, serious questions on important issues that may bring out a side of these candidates that we might not necessarily be familiar with and to catch them in a moment where they just react spontaneously.

ZAHN: And we know those moments are rare. I don't want to denigrate debates, but, obviously, because they're so well rehearsed, they rarely make news. But now, you're going to have the ability, through your political team, to sift through, at least tonight, more than 1,400 questions. What is your team looking for? How do these people will make the cut?

BLITZER: I think what one of the most important things is to put these candidates, Democratic and the Republican candidates, on the spot, ask them provocative questions that they don't necessarily want to answer, questions that expose some political vulnerability, but try to pin them down as much as you possibly can.

And as you know, Paula, and certainly everyone who does television interviews knows, the questions in and of themselves are important, but the follow-ups almost always are much more important and if the candidate doesn't answer the question, press that candidate and say: excuse me, with all respect, you didn't answer the question, let me rephrase it. And then give them a second chance or a third chance. But try to make sure you don't disappoint the voters out there who are counting on you to make sure you're firm and fair with those candidates.

ZAHN: Sure, and they get very frustrated if they feel that you punted and you've ignored an opening which gives you the perfect opportunity, move in there. But, I thought an awful lot today about how few memorable moments there have been from these debates. And there was one that stands out, in particular. A question asked of then Governor Michael Dukakis, back in 1988, by our own Bernie Shaw. Let's listen.


SHAW: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?


ZAHN: That question was absolutely devastating. Why was it so effective?

BLITZER: A lot of people think it certainly helped cause Michael Dukakis' decline because despite that really strong question, he came out against the death penalty even in those kind of circumstances and a lot of voters out there thought he was wrong. Bernie Shaw asked a good powerful, strong question. The candidate gave his honest opinion and a lot of voters didn't like it. Now, don't get me wrong, that wasn't the only problem that Michael Dukakis had, but it certainly was a significant one.

ZAHN: Well, we appreciate your (INAUDIBLE) here tonight, Wolf Blitzer, and perhaps more people will get on television as a result of what you shared with us tonight. Thanks so much for your time.

BLITZER: Thank you.

ZAHN: So, if you want to submit a question for next Monday night, please, please, please don't sing it. Then you're ready for our Jacki Schechner and the next step. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKI SCHECHNER, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: So, do you know what you want to ask of the presidential candidates? Coming up, I'll show you how to get your question onto YouTube?


ZAHN: So, even if you've never posted on YouTube before, it's pretty easy, and I'm not very swift at the computer, even I can do it. Please stay with us, we'll show you how.


ZAHN: Back to our YouTube Presidential Debate Countdown. Next Monday the Democratic will answer your questions from YouTube users at Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Thousands of people have already posted questions on YouTube, well more than 400 -- 1,400, that is, to be more accurate. But if you haven't sent one in so far, there's plenty of time. So, here's Internet correspondent, Jacki Schechner to show you everything you need to know.


SCHECHNER: Hi guys. No matter how you capture your video, there is a way to get it onto YouTube. Let me show you what you do.

We start with our digital camera or your camcorder. Now, once you record your question, you're going to want to put it on to your computer and then log on to Create an account, that's the best way to manage your videos. Name your question -- we'll call this "Jacki's Question," and then upload the file from your system.

Once it's online, add it to the contest and you're done, it's that easy.

If you've got a cell phone with video, that's easy, too. YouTube gives the option of sending a question directly from your phone. Just shoot your video and then e-mail it. Question accomplished.

The final way is the quick capture version on If you've got a have a webcam this is the easiest thing to do. Record yourself talking into the camera, quick capture it, then once you're done it takes a couple seconds to process and then it pops up online. It's that easy. In fact, there's only one challenge left, what do you want to ask? And, well that, I can't help you with.


ZAHN: Well, the folks out there have plenty of inspiration of their own, lots of good questions coming in to us. We are just minutes away from LARRY KING LIVE. Tonight, Daniel Baldwin talks very poignantly and pointedly about his 18-year battle with addiction. We'll be right back.