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The Situation Room
Bush vs. North Korea
Aired July 06, 2006 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all time. Standing by CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.
Happening now, President Bush describes the moment that he learned the missiles had launched. It's 7:00 p.m. here in Washington, where the president is pushing diplomacy and where the North Koreans keep taunting him and the world.
This hour, insight into the communist regime from a preacher who has been there. Franklin Graham.
Plus an exclusive interview with the commander in chief. You will hear his revealing remarks on Iraq and the security threat at home. CNN's Larry King joins us with a preview.
And advocates of same-sex marriage get socked by the courts not once but twice. We will tell you about the double whammy and the fallout for the gay rights movement. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, new threats by North Korea and new information about the long range missile that went awry. A senior U.S. official with direct access to intelligence tells CNN the Taepodong-2 missile fired by North Korea failed virtually from the start before analysts could determine where it was supposed to be headed.
Meantime, Kim Jong-Il's regime is defending its missile defiance and warning against any sanctions by the international community. North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying, quote, "We will have no option but to take stronger physical actions of other forms should any other country dare to take issue with the exercises and put pressure on us."
President Bush is continuing to push a diplomatic solution to the missile standoff and is urging allied nations to speak in one voice. First up, White House correspondent Ed Henry. Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, as you noted, the president engaging in telephonic diplomacy today on his 60th birthday, but so far not too much to celebrate from those calls around the world. And despite some Democratic demands that the president take the diplomatic effort to a whole new level by basically sitting down for direct talks with the North Korean dictator. The president in an exclusive CNN interview is rejecting those calls. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HENRY (voice-over): For the first time, President Bush described how he learned about North Korea firing missiles as he visited troops at Ft. Bragg on Independence Day.
GEORGE W. BUSH., PRESIDENT: Don Rumsfeld called me and said, look, he's firing rockets, some of them Scuds, went into the Sea of Japan, looks like he fired his long rage rocket that tumbled out of the sky.
But we responded very quickly. We had a plan in place to respond if he were to fire these things.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Were you prepared to shoot it down?
BUSH: If it headed to the United States, we have a missile defense system that would defend our country.
HENRY: In an exclusive interview with Larry King, the president also rejected calls to sit down for direct talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
BUSH: I think the best way to solve this problem diplomatically is for there to be other nations around the table with us so that when he looks out and he looks at the table or he looks at the world ...
HENRY: A point that the president made earlier with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at his side.
BUSH: We're dealing with a person who was asked not to fire a rocket, by the Chinese, the South Koreans, the United States, the Japanese and the Russians and he fired seven of them. Which then caused the secretary of state and myself to get on the phone with our partners and reminded them that -- of the importance of speaking with one voice.
HENRY: But the truth is the president is having trouble getting key players in those six party talks to speak with one voice, in fact. The president's calls this morning to the leaders of Russia and China so far have hit roadblocks. They so far they're not on board for tough UN sanctions against North Korea. John?
KING: Trouble diplomacy for the president so far. Ed Henry for us at the White House. Thank you, Ed.
And amid all this diplomatic wrangling over North Korea, Pentagon officials say a U.S. aircraft carrier on patrol south of Iraq is being moved into the Pacific Ocean several weeks early. The USS Enterprise now is heading to waters off Hawaii for naval exercises. Pentagon officials say the troop movement is coincidental to the timing of North Korea's missile test fires.
On the, there may be more perhaps to the North Korean missile threat than meets the eye. New concerns that Kim Jong-Il might be trying to form a dangerous alliance with his counterpart in Venezuela. Our Brian Todd is here with a look at that disturbing possibility. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, with a hostile leader who resides just 1,500 miles from U.S. shores wanting to visit a hostile leader who has just tested that long , some believe that very scenario could be in the making.
TODD (voice-over): He agitates the United States by leveraging his oil reserves and making statements like this:
HUGO CHAVEZ, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): The president of the United States, a killer, genocide, and immoral, that should be taken to prison.
TODD: He tweaks the Bush administration by launching seven test missiles into the Sea of Japan and threatening nuclear war. Could Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and North Korea's Kim Jong-Il team up against the U.S.? Chavez has announced he intends to travel to North Korea in the coming weeks. The State Department reacted even before North Korea's long-range missile test.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Certainly if that involved the transfer of military technologies just given North Korea's track record, certainly that would be a concern.
TODD: Venezuelan officials say they don't have that ambition. But some analysts believe North Korea's desperation for cash and willingness to sell missiles could send this alliance down a dangerous path.
JEFFREY BEATTY, TOTALSECURITY.US: Hugo Chavez has money. He feels threatened by the United States. He is aggressive against the United States. And I'm concerned that the same things that led Fidel Castro to welcome Russian missiles on his soil in the early '60s would come into play and have Venezuela host missiles from North Korea.
TODD: But a former assistant secretary of state who dealt with Venezuela says that's a leap.
PETER DESHAZO, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: Chavez wants to establish himself as a leader in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, someone who is a counterweight to the United States, someone who offers a different ideology from the United States, but this would, I believe, tarnish his image in the hemisphere an not strengthen it.
TODD: There's also the debate over capability. Some analysts say none of those missiles that North Korea sells right now have the range to travel the 1,500 miles from Venezuela to the United States. Others believe at least one of those missiles could have that range or could be modified to have it.
KING: Brian Todd, we will keep a close eye on that trip. Thank you very much, Brian.
And in London, a dead man is talking. He's responsible for a deadly terror strike in London, but now he vows the worst is yet to come. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has more from London.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, as Britain prepares to mark the first anniversary of London bombings in which 52 people were killed, a new video has been broadcast on al Jazeera television showing one of suicide bombers responsible. Shehzad Tanweer, a 22- year-old British Muslim is pictured in the video recording wearing a red and white kuffiyeh headdress making his final statement before going off with his other three co-suicide bombers to carry out their attacks against commuters on London's transport system.
CHANCE (voice-over): A chilling message from beyond the grave. The last statement of Shehzad Tanweer, one of London bombers, broadcast on the eve of the anniversary of the attacks. His final recorded words were threats.
SHEHZAD TANWEER, SUICIDE BOMBER (through translator): What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a series of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq and until you stop support of America and Israel.
CHANCE: Tanweer, at 22-year-old British Muslim, detonated his explosives in an Underground train killing seven people and hurting more than 100. British police say the timing of the statement's release would cause maximum hurt and distress for the families of the bereaved.
Like two of the other bombers, Tanweer came from Leeds in the north of England. A friend of the family said the video was a further blow to the community there.
IRSHAD HUSSAIN, FRIEND OF THE TANWEER FAMILY: Everybody is in a shock. All the community was in a shock because nobody knows exactly what went on. Nobody has any information whatsoever.
CHANCE: One strong possibility, direct help from al Qaeda. It's known Tanweer along with another London bomber, Mohammed Sidique Khan visited Pakistan in the year before the bombings. An official British investigation into the attack concluded it was likely they met al Qaeda figures and possible received training.
British police also believe it's in Pakistan both men made their recordings.
TANWEER: We're at war and I'm a soldier. CHANCE: Both tapes also featured al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Describing Tanweer as physically fit for the job. Al Zawahiri never appears with the bombers. But this is al Qaeda claiming the London attacks as its own.
ANDEL BARI ATWAN, EDITOR, "AL QUDS": That's why Ayman al Zawahiri insisted on appearing in both tapes actually, to say that they're my boys. I'm the one who is responsible for that. I recruited them.
CHANCE: And as Britain prepares to mark a year since the attacks, it's a powerful reminder it could happen again.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, John, in the 12 months since those attacks, British police say they have become acutely aware of the real danger the British public still faces. Not least because they're gathering such large volumes now of new intelligence. John?
KING: Matthew Chance on the eve of that anniversary in London. Thank you, Matthew.
And there are new developments in the killings of Iraqi civilians, including the rape/murder of an Iraqi woman allegedly at the hands of an American soldier.
Let's get the latest now from CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, in federal court today in Kentucky Steven Green, a former army private entered a not guilty plea to charges of rape and murder. He waived a pretrial hearing and agreed that his case would be heard in the federal court, not in the military justice system.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): A white van departs the Mecklenburg County Jail in North Carolina. As a former army private, he's transferred to Louisville, Kentucky to faces charges in federal court. Charges that have sent shock waves across Iraq and strained relations between the U.S. military and the Iraqi people.
Twenty-one-year-old Steven Green is accused of the premeditated murder in March of an Iraqi family, including a small child, followed by the brutal rape and murder of their eldest daughter, who age is variously reported as between 15 and 25.
What Green and up to four other American soldiers are alleged to have done in this farm house in Mahmoudiya, identified in videotape by Associated Press is so offensive to Islamic culture where rape and sexual assault can be of source of deep shame, that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the talk U.S. commander issued a rare joint statement. "This is painful, confusing and disturbing. Not only to the family who lost a loved one, but to the Iraqi people as a whole," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey wrote. "The alleged events of that day are absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable behavior. We will fully pursue all the facts in a vigorous and open process."
While the killings occurred March 11th or 12th, the allegations didn't surface until June 23rd, when two soldiers came forward during stress counseling. The investigation started the next day, June 24th and Green was arrested in the United States June 30th, a week later. Green had received an honorable discharge from the army in April. According to court documents, because of a personality disorder, something that according to army regulations is "authorized only if the disorder is so severe that the soldier's ability to function effectively in the military environment is significantly impaired."
A few months before his discharge, Green was featured on the army's official Web site. In a picture he is seen about to blast a lock off a gate of what is described as an abandoned Iraqi home.
MCINTYRE (on camera): This case has also attracted the attention of Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki who on the basis of this case would like to talk to the U.S. military about r reopening an agreement that protects U.S. soldiers and servicemen from being subject to Iraqi law. That's something that Iraq would like to charge. John?
KING: Jamie McIntyre for us at the Pentagon. A troubling case, thank you very much, Jamie.
He's a man of the cloth and he's calling on President Bush to reconsider his handling of the North Korean crisis. I'll speak with Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Billy Graham.
Also, Larry King's exclusive interview with President Bush. Does he have any regrets on Iraq and what about the war on terror has him fearful?
And another CNN exclusive. A car that one day could save you money at the pump because it does not run on gasoline. See it unveiled right here on THE SITUATION ROOM.
KING: Proponents of same-sex marriage are reeling today from a one-two legal punch. Courts in Georgia and New York State issued new rulings on an issue front and center in the election year culture wars. CNN's senior correspondent Allan Chernoff has more from New York.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this was the first time that New York's highest court had heard a case on the same-sex marriage issue. Gay rights advocates had high hopes because they won at the trial level but the New York's court of appeals ruled to uphold the status quo.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): The call from their lawyers this morning came as a blow to Daniel Hernandez and his partner Nevin Cohen (ph). New York's court of appeals had rejected the couple's effort to overturn state law so that they could get married.
DANIEL HERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF: This is incredibly disappointing and kind of overwhelming. You sort of live your life thinking that it is Constitution is supposed to provide the promises that it does for everyone.
CHERNOFF: The couple's lawyers had argued New York's law dictating marriage be between a man and woman violates their right to due process and equal protection under the state constitution.
In a 4-2 decision, the court of appeals ruled the law is constitutional and that the state may reserve the right of marriage for couples of the opposite sex who can bear and raise children.
ROBERTA KAPLAN, LAWYER FOR PLAINTIFFS: The scientific evidence that's out there that it's uniform and consistent that there's absolutely no difference to children between being raised in a family with a mother and a father.
CHERNOFF: In it's opinion, the court wrote, "It is not for us to say whether same sex marriage is right or wrong. It's up to the legislature to make any changes in law," the court said. Leading politicians in New York differ on the issue.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, (R) NY: I think the court off appeals made the right decision. Marriage between a man and a woman has been the law of the New York State since the beginning of this state.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (R) NY: I have always thought that it is not something that the state should get involved in, that it's not the state's business who you can marry.
CHERNOFF: Gay rights advocates today also suffered a defeat before Georgia's court. It ruled in favor of a ban on same-sex marriage that three quarters of voters had approved as a constitutional amendment.
GOV. SONNY PERDUE, (R) GA: The benefits of marriage as affirmed by the people of Georgia are accorded to a man and a woman. That's what the whole issue is about. I don't think it demeans gay Georgian's in any other way that that. They're free to work and to live their lives. They're just not free to marry in Georgia.
CHERNOFF (on camera): Gay rights advocates, of course, will continue their legal battle. In fact, they have cases pending in four states, California, Washington, Iowa and New Jersey. But for now, Massachusetts remains the only state in the union that actually does permit same sex marriage. John?
KING: Allan Chernoff in New York. Thank you, Allan.
And happening now, a winner named in Mexico's closely watched and quite controversial presidential election. CNN's Harris Whitbeck is live for us in Mexico City with the very latest. Harris?
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John, the electoral officials in Mexico City are about to come out with a statement that would make the results of a count of district tallies official. The count which ended just a few hours ago puts ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon in the lead. He won by a very, very slim margin. It's now up to the electoral tribunals here to officially name him the winner of the election.
Calderon who is a proponent of free trade and who espouses keeping Mexico on the same macroeconomic course, free trade, close ties to the U.S. was pitted against leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who was proposing a change in the Mexican economic model. Lopez Obrador has said that he will protest the decision.
He said that he believes that there were irregularities in the vote count process and said he will take his case to the electoral tribunal. The tribunal has up until September 6th to officially give the name of Mexico's next president elect. John?
KING: Harris Whitbeck with the very latest for us in Mexico City. Thank you, Harris.
And still to come, the Reverend Franklin Graham. One of the few Americans to go inside North Korea. I'll ask him about that, his tough views on Islam and his father's crusades.
Plus, the kiss seen around the world. The Russian president gets grilled about this show of affection.
KING: Zain Verjee joins us with other news making headlines right now. Hi, Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, John.
The Hamas-led Palestinian government is calling for all Palestinian security forces to join the fight against Israeli troops moving into Gaza. Intense fighting is being reported and as many as 19 Palestinians have been killed. Israel says one soldier has died. An Israeli spokesman says the incursion is aimed at stopping missiles from being launched from Gaza into Israel. He says Israel has no intention of reoccupying Gaza.
Just hours ago, Florida's Supreme Court threw out $140 billion class action verdict against the tobacco industry. But the decision upheld many findings regarding the dangers of smoking. Some legal experts say that opens the doors to more suit. A Phillip Morris official says it's not clear that the court's findings will apply to future cases and that more appeals are in fact possible.
A former Taliban official who attracted controversy after it was revealed that he was studying at Yale University has reportedly been denied admission to a degree program. The "New York Times" is reporting that the student who served as a roving ambassador for the former Afghan regime can continue to take courses at the university in a non-degree capacity. Yale officials are declining to comment.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says state workers will soon be getting back to work. Late this afternoon, lawmakers reached an agreement breaking a budget standoff that led to a six-day government shutdown. The full state legislature is expected to sign off on the deal in the next 36 hours.
KING: Thank you, Zain. And we'll show our viewers now a live picture of President Bush on the tarmac from our affiliate in WLS in Chicago. Mr. Bush in Chicago. Dinner with the mayor tonight. Some political fundraising on tap as well. And tomorrow a unique news conference. The president on the road, a news conference in Chicago to which local reporters have been invited in addition to the White House press corps.
Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Reverend Franklin Graham. I will ask him about the trip inside North Korea. His father's crusade, his tough talk about Islam.
Plus, a CNN exclusive, President Bush one on one, Larry King is in THE SITUATION ROOM. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Kim Jong-Il, the problem is we tried that and it didn't work.
KING: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King. More now on our top story. The North Korean missile crisis. It's focusing new attention on the plight of that country's 23 million people. CNN's Zain Verjee is here now with a look at what we know about conditions in this very isolated country. Zain?
VERJEE: John, we know very little actually about ordinary life in the closed communist country. Few have visited and some have escaped and through them we can piece together a snapshot of the elusive regime.
VERJEE (voice-over): This is a satellite picture of North Korea and South Korea. You can see the lights from buildings and streets glowing in South Korea at night. To the north, nothing but pitch black.
The former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright visited Pyongyang and met Kim Jong-Il.
In her book, "Madam Secretary" she describes the city. "In contrast to other Asian cities, there were practically no neon lights or even advertising. I could see no evidence of a restaurant, a grocery store, department store or bank."
North Korea is a desperately poor country where many children are underfed, sick and alone. There's little development. Food is scarce and carefully rationed. Surviving is a struggle for most North Koreans laboring in muddied fields.
Aid agencies estimate that 2 million people starved to death during the famine of the 1990s. Many North Koreans have escaped to the south and the China.
Former CNN correspondent Mike Chinoy says North Korea is one of most disciplined societies on earth.
MIKE CHINOY, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is like a religious cult built around the personality cult built around Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung before him. Daily life is organized around kind of a devotion and worship to the Kim cult and the ideology.
VERJEE: Former CBS anchor Dan Rather on ANDERSON COOPER 360 talked about the Kim cult he saw firsthand.
DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS ANCHOR: If you say good morning to someone, they're very polite and they will smile and say yes, our maximum leader told us this morning on the radio that it was going to be a beautiful day and you know what, sir? It is a beautiful day.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
VERJEE: Dan Rather went on to say that the first few times you hear that, you're amused by it. But hearing it over and over again he says has an unsettling quality about it. John?
KING: Unsettling, unsettling, unsettling. Zain Verjee thank you very much. The Reverend Franklin Graham is among the few Americans ever to visit North Korea. The evangelist and son of Billy Graham has been allowed in with humanitarian missions and his international relief group.
Reverend Graham, you just heard Zain Verjee's report. Take us inside North Korea. We see the pictures of Kim Jong-Il and the military parades. You have seen the starving and the devastation. Give us an inside look.
REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: Well John it's what everybody has been saying, it's a very poor country, no question and there is a lot of need. And Samaritan's Purse has been working there for a number of years and so has the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. My father went in '92, he went in '94 and met with Kim Il-Song. I was there in 2000. We actually have a delegation going again there next month. We have medical equipment and supplies. The need is horrendous. I'm not an advocate for sanctions, I don't think sanctions work. I really believe that we need to talk to the North Koreans.
There's something about seeing someone eyeball to eyeball, and I remember when Nixon went to China to meet with (INAUDIBLE). When he went in '72, here was a country that was isolated, here was a dictator who had killed millions of people. But yet the president went and took a chance for peace and of course that began to open the door for relations with China. I just believe when leaders get together and you can meet eyeball to eyeball, they see each other in a different light. I hope that maybe we can do that as a country, meet with the North Koreans.
KING: President Bush has shown no willingness to do that sir as you're well aware. Help us understand, you're a pilot. I understand you actually flew a plane into North Korea?
GRAHAM: That's correct. Samaritan's Purse, we have a number of planes that use all over the world, and I'm one of the few I think private pilots that was given permission to go into North Korea. And that was quite an experience because they made it very clear if I deviated from the flight plan, there could be a possibility of being shot down. I assured them that I didn't like that idea of being shot down and I would stay with the flight plan.
KING: I'm guessing you did. What can be done in the short term? You hear Japan saying it will take some sanctions. You know about the debate at the United Nations, you just said you think President Bush should meet with Kim Jong-Il, that's not going to happen in the short term. What happens if there's a tightening on the leader if you will, diplomatic tightening, some sanctions, what happens to the people?
GRHAM: Well first of all the leadership is going to continue their lifestyle. It's the people that are going to suffer. And you have to remember the Koreans do not have any love for the Japanese. The Japanese invaded Korea the early part of the last century, devastated the Korean Peninsula. The North Koreans haven't forgotten that. And so there's not a lot of love between them and the Japanese. But yet we fought them during the Korean War. And when I was in Korea I did not sense in North Korea a hatred toward America. They wanted our respect. They wanted to be treated as equals. And unfortunately, I find John many times our diplomats around the world have the tendency to talk down to people of smaller countries. And I just believe if we show them a little bit of respect and listen to what they have to say. It doesn't mean that we agree with them. We may agree with nothing they say, but at least, let's look them in the eye. And I believe Condi, Dr. Rice, needs to be over there before the end of this year. I think it would be a good thing and hopefully the president before he leaves office, will have a chance to meet Kim Jong-Il.
KING: You are a minister and a missionary. When you go to North Korea you are told not to deviate from your flight plan or you may be shot down, are you allowed in your conversations with North Koreans to mention God? Kim Jong-Il I assume does not believe in God.
GRAHAM: Absolutely. I met with the foreign minister, I met with the minister of health, and I always made it very clear, I am a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and I believe that God has sent me to your country, we're here to help and we're to help in the name of Jesus Christ. And before I would eat, I would ask would it be alright if I prayed for the food? And the foreign minister, the minister of health, the men that had banquets for me, said, oh by all means, please. And they would bow their heads when I would pray. So there's absolutely respect. They may not agree but there is respect.
KING: I want to ask you about a couple other quick subjects before we close. One of them is the United States' image in the Muslim world is in pretty tough shape. The charges now against some American troops and there are those who have criticized something you said in the past. And I want to read a quote where you're talking about, "The God of Islam is not the same God. It's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion." That was a statement you made long ago just after the events of September 11, 2001. I wonder if you regret that statement.
GRAHAM: Well first of all it's not the same God that we worship. The God of the bible has a son and his name is Jesus Christ. And Jesus said I'm the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me. Islam, of course, does not recognize Jesus as the son of God. To them that's blasphemous, they would agree with me on this. And so it's not the same God that we worship. I worship God who gave his life, who sent his son to die for my sins so that I could be with him in heaven. And that's the God that I worship.
KING: We're almost out of time sir, but you're in Baltimore for a revival with your 86 year old father, many calling this the last crusade. How is he doing and how long will he be doing this?
GRAHAM: Well you know, last year was his last crusade in New York. But he didn't say that he would quit preaching. So he's coming to my meeting this week here at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and he's going to preach on Sunday. He's got (INAUDIBLE) who's 97 years old, who's going to sing with him. We have a lot of guests, a lot of fun, and I hope everyone can come.
KING: Reverend Franklin Graham joining us from Baltimore. Thank you sir for your insights on North Korea and certainly wish your dad well. Take care.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
KING: Up ahead, President Bush and the first lady one on one with Larry King. If he had to do it all over again, would the president send American troops into Iraq? A CNN exclusive interview.
Plus the kiss that raised eyebrows. Russia's president explains his unusual show of affection.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Does President Bush fear another 9/11? And what does he think of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il? Well today CNN's Larry King got some answers in an exclusive interview with the president and the first lady. And Larry is kind enough to join us now live from New York. Larry I want to talk about your interview. Let's begin by listening to a bit of the president. You asked him about one of the pressing questions in diplomacy. Why not sit down with Kim Jong-Il? Let's listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Since it's always better one would think to talk to somebody, would you meet with Kim Jong?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he'd love to have the United States sit down at the table alone with Kim Jong-Il. The problem is we tried that and it didn't work. I think the best way to solve this problem diplomatically is for there to be a -- other nations around the table with us, so that when he looks out, when he looks at the table or he looks at the world, he hears China and the United States speaking in one voice or China and the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea speaking with one voice. I'm into solving problems and I'm convinced the strategy we've got is the best way to solve this problem.
LARRY KING: But also Mr. President you're into taking the lead on things, Iraq was an example, you took the lead on Iraq. The United Nations went along, you got other countries to go along. Why not take the lead here?
BUSH: We have. The reason why there's a six-party talk is because we took the lead. I've looked long and hard at this issue and I'm confident the best way to solve the problem is to have the Chinese and South Koreans and the Japanese and Russians sitting side by side with us, saying to Kim Jong-Il it's not in your interest to isolate yourself from the world. It's not in your interest to keep defying the reasonable demands of the world. There's a better way for you to move forward.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Larry, he looks pretty relaxed there. Kim Jong-Il obviously wanted to get the president's attention. What did you think of his mood and his temperament beyond just what he said?
LARRY KING: I think John one of the most amazing things about this president is how calm he is in the face of all the things on his table. When you look at all he's been confronted with and yet he seems to have enormous confidence. The confidence seems to build, nothing seems to throw him. He's extraordinary in that regard. I've interviewed many optimists in my life, none in his league.
KING: It is the West Texan in him I think. I want to talk more about that but I want to listen to a little more of this exclusive interview. I know you talked to the president about Iraq, about 9/11. Let's listen to a little bit more of what the president had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING: So there's no doubt, if you had to do it all over again, knowing that WMDs weren't there, you would still go in?
BUSH: Yeah. See, this has, we've removed a tyrant who was an enemy of the United States who harbored terrorists and have had the capacity at the very minimum to make weapons of mass destruction. He was a true threat, yeah, I would have done the same thing.
LARRY KING: Do you fear another 9/11?
BUSH: Do I, yes, I do.
LARRY KING: Do you think we're safe?
BUSH: I think we're safer, but I am worried about an enemy that wants to hit us again. I'm comforted by the fact there's a lot of people working hard on the issue.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: North Korea, Iraq, Larry, take us into the blue room a little bit more about the president and what he had to say and what you made of it?
LARRY KING: Boy, he talked a lot about his confidence in Iraq does not wane. He explains the reason why he separates the problems of Iran and Iraq and North Korea from each other. We get him to such various topics as immigration, the candidacy of Senator Joe Lieberman, the death of Ken Lay. I don't think we missed a beat in this hour. We covered a lot of territory John. And it was also the first interview ever done of a president in the blue room. That's how you got the beautiful setting with that window shot of the traffic going by and the shots of the monuments.
KING: It is an amazing spot in an amazing building. What was his sense of the political climate? Obviously a lot of republicans worried they will lose this year because of the president and because of the unpopularity of Iraq.
LARRY KING: Again, he's optimistic. He said he's going to go out and campaign heavily. They said they're going to keep control of the senate and the house. He's going to do all within his power keep that. He means it. I don't think -- I don't think he senses -- well senses he knows about the polls. I don't think he senses unpopularity. He senses that he's doing his job, the public will appreciate it. History will reward him and he'll even be rewarded in the November elections. He does not look back.
KING: He does not look back. I think that will part of his legacy. Larry King we thank you for a sneak preview here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And Larry's full interview, one hour with president George W. Bush and the first lady "Laura Bush," an exclusive, a CNN exclusive, tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern on "LARRY KING LIVE." You won't want to miss it. Thank you Larry. LARRY KING: Thank you John.
KING: Russian President Vladimir Putin raised eyebrows last week, by lifting up the shirt of a young boy and kissing him on the stomach. Today thousands of people around the world are using the internet to ask President Putin. Why? Our Abbi Tatton has the answer. Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Yes John, why did you kiss that little boy on the stomach? That was among the leading questions asked today as President Putin during a live web cast online. The answer, well Putin said the boy seemed independent, yet defenseless and he wanted to touch him "like a kitten." So not totally clearing things up there. The questions were submitted to the Russian Web site Rndex. They got over 150 thousand of them and they let people vote on the ones that were most popular, the ones they most wanted asked. Like for example, Putin's relationship with President Bush. Putin called Bush a friend and said that he wished him a happy birthday on the phone this morning. Some of the most popular questions online though didn't get asked. 20,000 Russians wanted to know if Putin would ever use quote "giant humanoid robots to defend Russia's borders." Perhaps unsurprisingly John, that one did not make the cut.
KING: And I was looking for the answer. Alright, Abbi, thank you very much. Up ahead, high tech pain relief for high gas prices and global warming. An exclusive look into the future. Plus a republican senator who's trying to hold on to his job by highlighting his disagreements with the president. Stay right here you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
KING: In Pennsylvania tonight, democrats are keeping the pressure on their top mid-term election target. Republican Rick Santorum a key White House ally and member of the GOP senate leadership, is in a tough and bitter fight to hold on to his seat. Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash is just back from a firsthand look at why Santorum is in such trouble.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John you know he's been in the senate for 12 years. But this is the campaign literature he's handing out. 50 things you may not know about Rick Santorum, things like sponsoring a measure to crack down on homelessness and even puppy mills. It's an attempt to round out his hard edged image.
BASH: To walk a rain drenched July 4th parade with Senator Rick Santorum is to witness a republican known for a brash style in conservative positions, trying to show there's more to him than that. Introducing himself here as a father and a husband. Walk a bit more and you see why image repair is a campaign must.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: I go through this every election. People say why are always behind in the election? Because people don't hear much good about me between the elections.
BASH: He is far behind by double digits in several polls, trailing a challenger with a famous political name in Pennsylvania.
Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you, I'm running for the U.S. Senate.
BASH: Bob Casey, Jr., son of the state's long-time democratic governor. Like Santorum, Casey's antiabortion and pro gun rights. But he opposes Bush policies like tax cuts and campaigns on a simple slogan, new direction.
BOB CASEY, (D) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: And then you have a senator like Rick Santorum who rubber stamps the president's policy all the time and then there are consequences for this state.
BASH: Santorum's response, seize on an issue he's proud to disagree with the president on, immigration, his first TV ad. And campaign forums like this, pushing his new border security bill.
SANTORUM: We have been promised border security for 20 years and it hasn't been delivered.
BASH: Santorum aides say this is a no brainer. He's appealing to his conservative base, plus it sets him apart from both an unpopular president and his democratic opponent.
SANTORUM: I don't know of an issue that I've gotten more feedback on in a short amount of time than this issue.
BASH: Casey calls Santorum Johnny come lately on immigration, pointing to votes against border security funding.
CASEY: So if he wants to be dishonest about an issue that he has a bad record on, he's free to do that but I think he's going to pay a price for it.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
BASH: Now illegal immigration is not a big problem in Pennsylvania and democrats accuse Senator Santorum of trying to change the subject away from some recent campaign flash points that have been damaging for him. But Casey has had little choice John than to get drawn into this issue. He says that when Senator Santorum describes his stance on immigration as amnesty, he says Senator Santorum is quote, lying.
KING: Lying, tough words in a tough race. Worth revisiting. Dana Bash, thank you very much.
A prominent dictionary is officially adding 100 new words to the American lexicon today. Among the additions, Google, supersize, and mouse potato. Jacki Schechner's here to explain. Okay Jacki. JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: John I am by definition a mouse potato. It is somebody who spends a lot of time in front of the computer, same couch potato, same concept. Some of the other terms that are now added to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Google, the search engine. But not as a noun, as a verb, as in to Google something. Some of the terms you'll recognize from the news, things like Avian Influenza or Bird Flu. There's also terms you might here out on the street in regular conversation, like unibrow, which is one long continuous eyebrow. We'll use it in a sentence for you John. Bert from Sesame Street has a serious unibrow. There you go.
KING: Hey, you learn something new every day. Thank you Jacki. Let's find out what's coming up next hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." John Roberts is sitting in for Paula. Hi John?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey John. Like that character from "Austin Powers," unibrow. Thanks. At the top of the hour we're going to have the very latest for you on the North Korean missile crisis. Also as President Bush celebrates his 60th birthday with Larry King. We'll take you to one of only five states where his approval rating is still over 50 percent. Plus, shocking pictures of school bullies out of control. Some parents say their children were bullied so much that they committed suicide. Now they want schools to crack down. That's all coming up at the top of the hour. John?
KING: Just a few minutes away. Thank you very much John. And still ahead here, global warming and high gas prices. An exclusive look at a new car that could help solve both.
KING: Here's a look at some of the hot shots coming in from the "Associated Press", people likely to be in your newspaper tomorrow. In Baqubah, Iraq, Iraqi army soldiers guard suspected insurgents and captured weapons seized during a raid. In northern Gaza, Palestinians run for cover as Israeli troops open fire. At least 19 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have died in Gaza. In Arkansas, an Army National Guard captain kisses his wife before departing Ft. Smith. His unit is off to Mississippi for advance training before deploying to Iraq.
And here in Washington, a baby tiger gets a medical examine at the national zoo. And that's today's hot shots, pictures, often worth a thousand words.
Ever rising gas prices, it's enough to make you want to kiss your guzzler good-bye. Today the energy department says the price of gas rose almost 7 cents in just the past week. $2.93 a gallon for unleaded regular. But this CNN exclusive, a car of the future, it doesn't need gasoline.
KING: Another entry into the crowded SUV market. General Motors says this, the Sequel is the car of the future. The evolution of the automobile. CHRIS BORRONI-BIRD, GENERAL MOTORS: In this vehicle, the only exhaust is pure water vapor, drinkable, in fact.
KING: Until now no one outside of GM has seen it move. Adjusted the air conditioning with a click of a mouse or shifted it with a push of a button from park into drive.
BIRD: This is the very first time anyone's driven it outside of the company.
KING: The sequel is evolutionary GM says because it is the first hydrogen powered vehicle with room for a family and a range 300 miles, similar to most gasoline powered options on the road today. Hydrogen is highly flammable. But GM says safety concerns have been addressed by placing reinforced tanks in the center of the chassis.
BIRD: They're protected from side and rear and front crashes, as well as they possibly can be. In the event of a crash, the tanks might rupture and there's hydrogen sensors in the vehicle that sense hydrogen, but I don't think you'd reach a flammable concentration or anything.
KING: Also noteworthy, the brakes and steering are electrical, wired to a computer, replacing the mechanical systems that have been in cars since the beginning.
You have two of these?
BIRD: We have two of these vehicles. We believe these are the first vehicles, the most advanced technology vehicles ever made.
KING: With high gas prices and an escalating debate about global warming, GM's Larry Burns talks ambitiously of making gas powered combustion engines like this museum pieces.
LARRY BURNS, GENERAL MOTORS: We think we can get the car over the environmental debate, a car that emits just water. Then get it out of the energy debate because the hydrogen can come from so many different pathways.
KING: But not so fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (INAUDIBLE) problem right now is the cost of a vehicle like that first of all would be like buying a Ferrari, it's just very, very expensive technology right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim has been betting on hydrogen for a long time and while they have been betting, they have been seeing their market share decline.
KING: Jim acknowledges significant hurdles remain, chief among them, cutting the costs of the hydrogen storage system and fuel cells.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're targeting a cost equal to that of a gasoline engine (INAUDIBLE), pretty aggressive target. We haven't seen anything yet John that says we can't get there. KING: GM has already poured a billion dollars into the research. CEO Rick Waggoner has set a 2010 deadline for engineers to prove they can turn the concept into a safe affordable line of hydrogen powered cars.
RICK WAGONER, GENERAL MOTORS CEO: We think we could see some production of these vehicles early in the next decade.
KING: GM says it could have them on dealer lots in significant numbers in 10 years, if, and it's a big if, the government and investors buy into hydrogen's potential.
EFRAIM LEVY, STANDARD & POOR'S: I think it's going to be a somewhat gradual shift, it's still going to be a very small percentage of the overall market.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: The hydrogen has to be conveniently available, safely available and affordably available. And we can't do that by ourselves, we have to work with energy companies and governments to establish codes and standards and to make the fuel available.
KING: The exclusive access GM granted CNN was designed to show case recent breakthroughs. Something the company hope quiets at least some of the skeptics who doubt hydrogen's potential. Or who doubt struggling GM's long range financial outlook. Or both.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
KING: This footnote, the sequel has ump. It can go from zero to sixty in under 10 seconds. Thanks for joining us, I'm John King in Washington. Up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW," John Roberts is standing by in New York.
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