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The Situation Room

Drill Could Reach Trapped Miners' Cavity Any Minutes, Gays & The '08 Race, New 'Made in China' Recall

Aired August 09, 2007 -   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lou. Happening now, any minute now, a drill could reach those trapped Utah miners, but as crews pound the mountain the enraged families say they are being told to give up hope. We have exclusive interviews for you.
Also, the questions personal, the answers very revealing -- CNN goes one-on-one with Hillary Clinton. She answers our questions and responds to those stories about her cleavage.

And are you riding on borrowed time -- a recall of hundreds of thousands of tires, yet another Chinese import that has people worried.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin in Utah. At any moment, there could be a break-through in the frantic efforts to save those miners trapped beneath the surface since Monday. As I speak, a drill is expected to pierce the underground cavity where experts believe the miners may be. But the big question remains, did they survive the collapse in the first place? For families there, it's been an excruciating day.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ted Rowlands, who joins us from Huntington, Utah. Ted, we are talking about any minute now.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are. And all of the families have gathered. We see the steady stream of cars going in here to the school. Government official Senator Orrin Hatch just arrived here. We're still waiting for mine officials to arrive. They're expected at any moment.

At any moment, families will get the latest update and this most likely will be the most important update for them since the initial one on Monday because they will find out how this two-inch drill did. Did it make it into the cavity? Where is the drill? And are there signs of life?

We are waiting patiently. We're seeing more families come in here. We still haven't seen the mine officials, but they're gathered and this has been a long, long arduous day for these families waiting for answers.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): With news of their loved ones' fate possibly now just a short time away, family members of the six trapped miners spent another excruciating day waiting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think any of us can imagine the fear and the concern that those families have. As I look into their faces, it's touching to me. I think there's a great deal of worry. There is a great deal of anxiety over what all this could turn out to be.

ROWLANDS: The news, good or bad, will be delivered to the families at this local school. Throughout the day, relatives had updates from mine officials and a visit from the governor of Utah.

GOV. JON HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: The only thing that would be worse than being trapped in a mine right now so far as I'm concerned would be to be waiting as a family member.


ROWLANDS: Hundreds of people joined family members at a candlelight vigil last night and today, many of them attended a special prayer service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're very sad. I think they're very tired. They look emotionally exhausted. I think they're just -- they look very, very tired.


ROWLANDS: Very tired and eager for news, Miles. That news could come at any minute, whether or not their loved ones are alive or if there's no sign of life or if the drill didn't make it. There are a lot of things on the table here, but one of those things is the possibility that they will be updated that there are signs of life inside that mine and that is what these families are holding on to and hoping for.

O'BRIEN: Ted, when will the media find out? The families will be notified. You're right there. How soon will it be before we'll know?

ROWLANDS: As soon as the families are notified, mine officials say they will go back up the hill and address the media and the American public as to what they have found today and where this drill is and whether or not they have detected anything. That's been basically the M.O. throughout and that's what they're going to continue to do. Inform the families first and then immediately go to the media, inform the rest of the country.

O'BRIEN: And I assume they're going to be extra cautious given what happened at Sago when people were led to believe everybody was OK and then of course they were not.

ROWLANDS: Yes, that's why they have set it up this way. Mine officials are doing all the updating. Bob Murray is doing it himself and he is the one dealing with the families for the most part. And they brought up Sago. They said they do not want to make the same mistake. They're very, very cautious on the way they communicate with the family. It is official word and official word only for that reason.

O'BRIEN: All right. Stay close. Stay in close contact. We'll get right back to you the minute we hear anything. Ted Rowlands right there with the families in Huntington, Utah.

In the mine, the solid walls of rock are thick, making the job very difficult, to say the least. Drilling down 1,500 feet, it is 150 stories. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman got a rare look at just what those crews are facing.

Gary, you were in that mine, in the very entrance those miners walked into, and more poignantly, you were actually very close to where they might be.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Miles. Mine owners do not allow reporters in mines when disasters are happening. They don't allow reporters in mines almost all the time when there are not disasters happening. That's why we were glad this guy, Bob Murray, the owner of this mine, changed the rules a little bit, made a decision to allow some reporters to go into the mine last night to see firsthand what's going on right up to the collapse site. Miles, it was very illuminating, but it also left us with a very uneasy feeling.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We entered the Crandall Canyon Mine through the same tunnel the six trapped workers went through, a three- mile journey in a small truck that would take about a half hour in utter darkness. We passed rescue workers in their vehicles on the way to our ultimate destination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there is where the rescue effort is going on.

TUCHMAN: This is as far as we could go. This is where the mine collapsed. The six trapped miners are believed to be tantalizingly close, but with tons of coal separating them from us...


TUCHMAN: ... this was an unusual opportunity to see how much work rescue workers still have.


TUCHMAN: You're looking at the effort to drill into the coal and rock to rescue the six men. The machine is called a continuing mining vehicle. It has a spinning drum on the front of it with blades. It cuts into the coal, rock, and other debris that is mixed in from the mine collapse, and then deposits it on the back of what is known as a shuttle car, which can transport twelve tons of coal at a time. The coal is sent on a conveyer belt outside the mine and the process continues over and over and over again, far below the surface of the earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the damage is here, we're about 2,000 feet deep.

TUCHMAN: But the process had to stop for almost two days because of seismic activity that has shaken up the mine and made it too dangerous for rescue workers. The work to get to the miners originally began at a different point of the mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had this cleaned up 310 feet. The machinery is still in there.

TUCHMAN: But another shift in the earth caused another partial collapse and the cleared area filled with coal again.

(on camera): Translate it's very eerie standing here knowing here that 2,000 feet behind me and maybe less are the six trapped miners. It is cold. It is dark. It is foreboding (ph). A claustrophobic could never cut it here. There is a steady wind blowing.

The ceilings are low. We're 30 minutes away from the nearest exit. In normal time it is very stressful, but right now there's a lot of tension. Nevertheless, the workers here, the rescue workers, the people who normally work in the mine are calm because they have a job to do.

(voice-over): And take a look at what happens to our camera shot while we're in the mine.


TUCHMAN: We hear a boom that shakes the mine and startles the workers and especially us. The owner says it's another seismic event. One more and we evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the coal breaks away from the rib, it just kind of lays there and we call that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

TUCHMAN: But there are no more. We do see other damage to the mine walls caused by the initial collapse, but it's the feverish work to rescue six men, dead or alive, that stays in our minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This rubble could extend -- well we know it goes 300 feet because we were up there, but it may go another 100 feet and stop and we can just walk up to the men, or they may be right there.

TUCHMAN: Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it's keeping these rescue workers going.


TUCHMAN: After we took those very pictures, we got back in into the little truck, took the 30-minute ride back out of the mine, we saw the sky, we were very glad to see the sky, but it also made me personally feel even sadder about the fate of the six miners -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Gary, you really got a sense being under there, not only what it's like to be a miner, but the tremendous risk that these rescue workers are encountering as they try to drill through there. It's got to be so dangerous, especially when you consider these, whatever they are, seismic events or collapses or whatever are still happening.

TUCHMAN: These rescue workers who were inside the mine, and there are about 134 of them, they're the actual mine workers. What they're doing -- the rescue is actually mining. They're continuing to mine coal in order to remove the coal to get these guys out.

But they're taking a huge risk because there have been at least two collapses. One major collapse that caused this catastrophe, another one that stopped some of the work they were doing for two days and it could collapse again at any time, yet they're in there trying to get their brethren out.

O'BRIEN: And I got to ask you, presumably, you're not claustrophobic, but if there was ever a time to test that, you went through that. Did you get a little panicky at any point?

TUCHMAN: You know when we heard that boom, and I looked at the faces of the rescue workers down there, and a lot of them looked startled and looked up and looked around, it was scary. Because when you see people who are the experts looking scared, you can't help but be anything but scared.

O'BRIEN: Gary Tuchman, great work. Gary Tuchman in Huntington, Utah, there where any minute now they could pierce through that cavity where they hope those miners are and are alive. Tonight at 10:00 Eastern, CNN's "AC 360" looks at the debate over just what caused the collapse at the Utah mine -- "360" investigates tonight at 10:00 Eastern. We'll keep you posted all throughout this hour on the progress they're making there; once again any minute they might pierce that cavity -- Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack, hello.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Miles, it is official now. The 2008 race for the White House is on speed. South Carolina Republicans announced today that they have moved up their primary to January the 19th in order to protect the state's first primary in the south tradition. This is likely to set off a chain reaction of sorts. By state law, New Hampshire is going to have to set its primary before the 19th in order to keep its first in the nation status.

And depending on how early New Hampshire might go, Iowa might have to move up its caucuses from January the 14th, which could leave the candidates competing with Christmas shopping and holiday parties. It's just silly. And it's not just the early primaries, either, that could mean that the nominees are decided as early as the first week of February, 10 months before the actual election.

It's the almost daily debates, the early TV commercials, the ad campaigns, the astronomical fundraising criteria, and of course the endless yammering among the candidates. The worst part is it's only the beginning. We're still 15 months out from the general election. So here is the question. Is the 2008 presidential campaign happening too quickly? E-mail us at or go to Some would say yes. Others say it can't happen quickly enough.

O'BRIEN: Well it seems like it favors the candidates who can raise a big pile of money and it's going to be harder for a dark horse to emerge. Don't you think?

CAFFERTY: Well, but what's new, right?


CAFFERTY: You know he who has the gold is the one who tends to get the most exposure, can buy the most advertising, can you know stay dominant in the polls, and all they have to do is pick up an early win in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire or South Carolina and suddenly the coordination is in progress, so yes, you're right, the Ron Pauls (ph) and the Dennis Kucinich's (ph) have a tough road to hoe.

O'BRIEN: Jack Cafferty. We'll see you in just a little bit with some of the responses from our viewers. Thank you.

Hillary Clinton one-on-one, answering the question typically reserved for Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you black enough to sustain the kind of support that you got from your husband and what makes you the better candidate over a black man in representing the issues regarding African American communities?


O'BRIEN: There's the question from Suzanne Malveaux. Find out how she answered the question. Plus, a response to Elizabeth Edwards and that cleavage critique.

Plus, total recall. Made in China, from toys to tires, to the food we eat or your pet eats. The price we pay for buying cheap imports.

And a CNN exclusive, hear for the first time from the family of a trapped miner as they hold out hope that he's alive -- you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: A speech, a string of reporters' questions and a few fireworks. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Las Vegas today at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention.

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux got her chance to speak with Mrs. Clinton after the event. Suzanne, it was a revealing interview. Tell us about it. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Miles. We literally just had a couple of minutes behind the stage to catch her; I tried to get as many questions in as possible. One of them, of -- the Elizabeth Edwards, the latest comments that she made, another about the controversy over "The Washington Post" columnist who talked about the senator's cleavage.


MALVEAUX: Elizabeth Edwards recently said about her husband, complained that she could not get the kind of media attention as the other candidates because in her words, she said we can't make him black and we can't make him a woman. What do you make of her remarks?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I'm just going to speak for myself. I'm running as hard as I can to try to talk about the issues that I think are important to Americans and we have a great group of candidates running. It's a wonderful group and I think you don't have to be against anyone. We have the luxury of deciding who we want to be for and obviously I'm hoping I can convince people to be for me.

MALVEAUX: Do you think that John Edwards being a white man has a handicap in this day and age?

CLINTON: Well you know I'm running as a woman, but I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified and experienced person to do the job.

MALVEAUX: You're on your way to a debate with logo (ph) and the human rights campaign. You, like the other Democrats, have said no gay marriage, yes to civil unions. Are you trying to have it both ways here, winning the gay vote, at the same time not alienating Middle America?

CLINTON: Well I can only speak for myself again. I believe that the states are responsible for marriage. And I fought very hard against the Republican's effort to amend our Constitution to pass something they call the Federal Marriage Amendment. I thought that was wrong.

It would have entwined discrimination in our Constitution. Any state is going to make its decision. And they're doing that. I personally support civil unions with full benefits, and I'm going to work in the Senate and as president to try to make sure that people in committed relationships are given those benefits.

MALVEAUX: A "Washington Post" columnist recently took issue with your dress on the Senate floor. Your campaign slammed her. Do you think that she crossed the line?

CLINTON: Well people get to write about whatever they want to write about and we get to respond however we wish to respond. That's part of our great tradition of the First Amendment and I'm going to keep saying what I think and let other people do what they want to do. MALVEAUX: And last question, Caroline Giuliani made some news because she became the next Barack Obama girl, if you will, supporting Barack Obama instead of her father. Have you checked in with Chelsea lately?


CLINTON: Yes, I'm pretty confident about that.

MALVEAUX: She's on your side?

CLINTON: I'm pretty sure of that.

MALVEAUX: OK, thank you...


MALVEAUX: So, Miles, no controversy there, really was an exciting, provocative forum. She got a really tough question from the audience when it came to her health care package as well, so it was just a broad, wide range of issues that she tackled today -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well and speaking of provocative questions, the one we played in the tease before we got to you that you asked her. Tell us about that and what the response was like.

MALVEAUX: Well sure. It's interesting because she's 22 points above her opponent, Barack Obama and that's been pretty consistent. She also has a lot of support in the black community. But Obama faces a question that she doesn't, so I decided to pose it to her.


MALVEAUX: Already, there was a group of panelists who were talking about various issues and one of the things that's going to happen is there will be a forum. It will ask the questions to Barack Obama whether or not he is black enough. That means various things to different people and even some of us believe it's an out dated question, but my colleague Les Payne (ph) preempted the question and I think is a good one, which is are you black enough to sustain the kind of support that you got from your husband and what makes you the better candidate over a black man in representing the issues regarding African American communities?

CLINTON: Well Suzanne, I'm going to stand because I can see better this way, if that's all right with you.


CLINTON: You know I am really thrilled to be running at a time in our history when on a stage you can see an African American man, a Hispanic man, and a woman. You don't see that on the other side of the aisle when they have their debates.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: She went on to say that she has to earn the vote of African Americans, and Miles, tomorrow should be just as interesting. That's when we hear from Senator Barack Obama at this convention. Miles?

O'BRIEN: All right, we look forward to that as well. Suzanne Malveaux in Las Vegas, thank you very much.

Check your tires. If they're made in China, you may need to worry. There's new alarm about defective tires that could put your life at risk.

And we're minutes away from word on whether a drill has reached six trapped miners. Tonight, their families speak out, and some of them are starting to show their anger.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what's the latest?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Got a couple of things for you, Miles. A 28-year-old man is in custody now in connection with the murders of three college students in Newark, New Jersey. The man actually turned himself in today, police announcing the arrest of a 15-year-old earlier in the day. Prosecutors say others were involved in the killings as well. Four friends were shot execution style while hanging out in a schoolyard Saturday night. Only one of them survived. Authorities have said robbery appears to be the motive.

Major new developments at the site of that collapsed interstate bridge in Minneapolis. The Associated Press is reporting divers have recovered a seventh body. That happened this afternoon. A sixth body also found today. Six other people are still missing. Investigators are trying to find out what caused the bridge to collapse on August 1. The bridge had buckled during afternoon rush hour, hurling cars and wreckage into the Mississippi River.

The U.S. government's top climate agency is out with a revised prediction on the 2007 hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA now says there is an 85 percent chance the season will be above average. NOAA now predicts 13 to 16 named storms with seven to nine of them becoming hurricanes. It says three to five will be major hurricanes.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Carol, back with you a little bit later.

Food, air, and water -- fighting to keep trapped coal miners alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can maintain their conditions indefinitely until we get to them from the underground drivage (ph). We can put sustenance down, food, communication, and particularly ventilation to them.


O'BRIEN: The head of the coal mining company on his round the clock efforts to reach the men who have been trapped for more than three days now.

Plus, will members of a gay rights group grill the candidates? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tonight, some of the Democrats who would like to be president attend a forum that focuses on gay issues. We'll take a look.



Happening right now a wild day on Wall Street -- the DOW Jones average lost a whopping 387 points. The NASDAQ fell 57 points. The S&P 500 slid 44. The tumble began after a French bank froze three funds that invested in U.S. sub-prime mortgages.

A stunt performance turned dangerous in DeKalb, Illinois today. A monster truck plowed into a crowd of spectators. Nine people hurt, two of them a mother and her child, in serious condition right now.

Demonstrations today against moves to let Wal-Mart put down stakes in India. The rallies were organized by a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of shop owners, trade unions and other activists. They want the government to close loopholes they say mega stores are using to get around laws preventing them from entering the market.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are watching very closely that mine in Huntington, Utah -- any minute now that drill which has gone through 1,500 feet of rock could break through into the cavity where those six miners may be trapped. The question is, are they dead or alive this evening. The family members of those trapped miners, the wait as you can imagine is agonizing and frustrating.

Ed Lavandara sat down with one family. He joins us now with details of what they're going through.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, we have heard almost nothing from the families of the trapped miners until now. We spent part of the afternoon yesterday with the family of Manuel Sanchez.

Manuel Arturo Sanchez has spent 17 years working in coal mines. His family likes to call him "Turkey" because his birthday falls around the thanksgiving holiday. He came to the United States in 1985, straight to Utah. He's the father of four children. Cesar Sanchez, who's Manuel's brother and also a coal miner, he says the family is hopeful but also realistic about what might have happened to his brother.

CESAR SANCHEZ, MINER'S BROTHER: They have a chance of staying alive, they'll make it. But if they got caved on, an experienced miner would tell you different.

LAVANDERA: But the Sanchez family says getting accurate details of the mine collapse is difficult. After a morning meeting with mine officials, Manuel's sister, Maria, emerged frustrated and angry with Bob Murray, the head of the company that owns the mine.

MARIA BUENROSTRO, MINER'S SISTER: He said, you guys need hope. The next second, give up your hope. Give up your hope. They're probably dead. We don't know if they're dead. We don't know if they're alive. What kind of answers are those?

LAVANDERA: The Sanchez family also says Murray stormed out of the morning meeting after family members started asking hard questions.

BUENROSTRO: We get upset and he gets angry and leaves. That's wrong.

LAVANDERA: You ask him questions and he leaves?

BUENROSTRO: Yes, we were asking. Somebody got up and was speaking for us, the other people that don't speak English. So he got mad and walked out.

BOB MURRAY, MINE OWNER: So all of my statements to them are now going to be written in Spanish.

LAVANDERA: Bob Murray disagrees and says extra steps are being taken to communicate to the families who don't speak English.

MURRAY: But just in case, we're taking additional efforts to have them spoken to and given the initial information in Spanish right from the beginning. I think they got it all. But we're taking this other step.

LAVANDERA: How frustrated is your family right now?

SANCHEZ: They're on scale from 1 to 10, it's a 20. It's pretty bad.

LAVANDERA: Under a tree in Cesar Sanchez's front yard, we talked about how Manuel Arturo's nine brothers and sisters are coping with the waiting.

SANCHEZ: I'm hoping but it's tough. It's a tough deal.

LAVANDERA: How about the rest of your family?

SANCHEZ: They got a lot of hope. They're strong. They're giving me a lot of hope. It's rubbing off onto me. I have one string of hope, you know. That's why I'm hanging in there.

LAVANDERA: In fairness, there have been two more family meetings with Bob Murray and company officials since we met with the Sanchez family. We have not been able to reach out to them today to figure out how those other meetings have gone, but Bob Murray and his people insist that they're taking good care of these family and doing as much as they can to let them know what's going on.

Miles, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Ed Lavandera in Huntington, Utah.

The mine owner, Bob Murray, says he would like to hear church bells when the cavity that officials think is holding the miners is broken. And that could happen any minute now.

Our Carol Costello spoke with Murray earlier today.

Carol, you had an interesting interview.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an interesting interview and he's nothing but positive when you talk to him. So what the families are saying is something different from what Bob Murray is telling the nation. He's very hopeful the miners are still alive. He told me he's been thinking about what kind of food in a tube he wants to drop down to them. He told me what might happen if that drill goes through the right cavity.

Tomorrow night, once the drill breaks through the cavity and it's the right cavity, what do you want to hear? What sound do you want to hear?

MURRAY: Church bells ringing, and people driving by blowing their horns and maybe I'll go stop somewhere now and get a hot cup of coffee because I'm tired of cold things. But we got a long way to go yet. I'll be so happy for these families. I'll be the one to go to them and tell them one way or the other what the outcome is. We'll wait and see, Carol. It will be extreme rejoicement or it will be the climax of a tragedy. And either way, it's my responsibility.

COSTELLO: When the drill, though, goes into the cavity and you can actually hear something, what do you think that the miners will do to make the people above know that they're alive?

MURRAY: We teach them how to, in such situations, conduct themselves. We use massive roof bolts. That's a very good question, that we anchor into the roof to support the roof conditions. Those roof bolts anchor six to eight feet in the roof and they conduct up through the earth very well. We ask them to take a piece of steel, another roof bolt, a drill bit, a hammer, and start pounding on those roof bolts. Because we can pick them up with our seismic equipment and some of our listening devices if they pound on the roof bolts loud enough and long enough.

COSTELLO: If you hear those things, what might you drop down to them immediately? MURRAY: The first thing that we'll drop down and we have two of them ready is an audio device. We have inspected the devices. They're in good operating condition, and we'll drop one of those down and see if we can establish communication. And if we hear nothing, at least see what we can hear. Then we will drop down a camera. And the camera will look within its minimal range and see if it can see anything. When the big eight-inch, eight and five eighths inch, hole goes down tomorrow night, we're going to put a big camera down that can rotate 360 degrees and look out 300 feet in any direction in the darkness. And so we'll be able to see exactly what's in there. But first, it's the audio communication. And then second, it's the cameras.

COSTELLO: Will you drop food or water in?

MURRAY: Yes. We can maintain their conditions indefinitely until we get to them from the underground drivage. We can put sustenance down, food, communication, and particularly ventilation to them.

It will take, in my estimation right now, Carol, to get to them, about a week through the underground. But that doesn't threaten their lives. That's the only way we can physically get them out, but we can keep them -- their lives maintained through the drill holes that will be down, hopefully this evening and tomorrow evening.

COSTELLO: Mr. Murray, you have been a miner for a long time, what, 50 years? What are the chances these men are still alive?

MURRAY: I would say the chances are good. I was underground till almost midnight last night. I was underground earlier in the day. And right where the rescue operations are taking place. And the reason I say that is that the roof conditions in the mine have not deteriorated at all. There have been no roof falls, as has been reported by some.

COSTELLO: Mr. Murray, these men have been down there for more than 80 hours now. I mean the odds are not great, are they?

MURRAY: Yes. Because if the cavity that's in by where the damage is from the earthquake, then there will be plenty of air to sustain them for weeks. There's also water in the mines. Water that we provide for them and keep stored in there. Water that they have, plus there's water from the coal seam that they can drink. So with the air and the water, they can survive indefinitely.

COSTELLO: Of course, we're all praying that he's right about that.

A few things about the mine because we have heard facts and figures about infractions that are thrown around. Murray has owned this particular mine since 2006. And according to federal records, he has a pretty good safety record at this Utah mine. I'm not talking about his other mines but this Utah mine; he does have a pretty good safety record. I asked him whether he would welcome an accident investigation team which will come in after all is said and done. He said, bring them on.

O'BRIEN: Carol Costello, thank you very much.

We're learning the identities of more of the trapped miners. As you just saw, Ed Lavandera spoke to the family of Manuel Sanchez. And now we know the identities of two others. They are Kerry Allred, who according to the Salt Lake City Tribune, is originally from Cleveland and likes to joke with his colleagues and there's Carlos Payan, who according to the Salt Lake Tribune, migrated from Mexico. The identities of the three other miners are still not being released.

The leading democratic contenders for president gather tonight for a forum on gay rights. Will any of the front runners endorse gay marriage?

Made in China. Those three words are increasingly terrifying American consumers. We'll tell you why Chinese-made tires are now raising safety concerns.


O'BRIEN: A milestone moment in Los Angeles tonight as the democrats who want to be president gather for a forum sponsored by a gay rights groups. It's the first time presidential candidates will appear in a televised forum on gay issues specifically.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is there. Candy, tell us what's at stake tonight in.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a key constituency, Miles, particularly in the primarily season because gay and lesbian groups tend to be activists in elections. One of the interesting things about tonight is while they have had these sorts of forums before, all be it, not televised, they really feel that the times have changed which will make it much more interesting.

An increasing number of Americans say they know someone who is gay, while solid majorities support gay adoption and allowing gays to serve openly in the military all of which makes Joe Solmonese a happy man because where the country goes, so go the politicians.

JOE SOLMONESE, PRES., HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: We're seeing it reflected in I think the comfort level that candidates are taking in talking about our issues and the proactive stance they have taken on a number of issues important to our community, such as overturning the ban on gays and lesbians in the military.

CROWLEY: So Solmonese heads the human rights campaign, the country's leading organization advocating for equal rights in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. Tonight, HRC hosts a presidential forum to address issues of importance to the community, a conversation that takes place amid changing views.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Acceptance has grown quite a bit. In the 1970s, we only had one in five saying the gay lifestyle was an acceptable lifestyle for others. Now we get the majority saying that.

CROWLEY: It is a change perhaps due in part to familiarity, which has bred acceptance. In the latest CNN opinion research corporation poll, 45 percent of Americans say they have a family member or a friend who is gay or lesbian, up 13 points since 1994. Still, there are cautionary numbers. The poll also shows 57 percent of Americans oppose legal validation of gay marriage. It's not a coincidence that all of the democratic candidates except Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel oppose gay marriage. All support civil unions, which is more popular with the public. Still conservative critics predict the democratic courtship will backfire.

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: If they want to make a social statement, it's a great thing to do. If they want to raise money among a special interest group, it's a great thing to do. But if they want to win the White House, the polling shows it's not the thing to do.

CROWLEY: Nonetheless, democrats view this as a key part of the base. while just three percent of the 2006 voters identified themselves as gay or lesbian, the community, largely democratic is active politically volunteering and donating, giving it power beyond the raw numbers. Which is why tonight six of the eight democratic candidates will be here, talking to the gay forum.


O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley, that forum to begin at any minute now in Los Angeles. Thank you very much.

Trouble with tires. If you're driving on tires made in China, beware. They could be defective. We'll have more on the latest recall.

Plus, read his hands. President Bush lets his fingers do the talking.



O'BRIEN: The phrase 'Made in China" is now striking fear in the hearts of many American consumers.

CNN's Brian Todd joins us now with the latest worry.

Brian, what is it now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles more concerns tonight about the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese merchandise in the U.S. market on the heels of toothpaste, pet food, toys being fount defective. Another important recall began today.

Another Chinese made product recalled, 255,000 radial tires designed and imported by a New Jersey company. Foreign Tire Sales tells customers if you bought Westlake, Compass, or YKS for your van or light truck or SUV between 2004 and 2006, they may not have so- called gum strips which bind the belts of the tires together.

RICHARD KUSKIN, PRESIDENT, FOREIGN TIRE SALES: We did extensive testing, the results of which our engineer concluded they were not safe.

TODD: It's the latest in a dizzying series of recalls. Pet food laced with melamine, a chemical used to make plastic. Toothpaste tainted with an ingredient found in antifreeze. Key products on American shelves made in China.

Kurt Schertle runs Tree Top Kids, a popular chain selling developmental toys. He recently had to deal with a recall of Chinese made items.

KURT SCHERTLE, PRESIDENT, TREE TOP KIDS TOYS: The product that was recalled was Thomas and Friends, Thomas the Tank, which the company is named RC2 and there were wooden red, painted pieces that contained lead paint.

TODD: He says his business didn't take a huge hit, but in the toy industry, there's not much choice. We went around Schertle's store, pulling toys out at random.

SCHERTLE: Here's an interesting one. It's the all American play set Air Force One and U.S. police vehicles and things like that. Now there you go.

TODD: China, in fact, produces more than 80 percent of the U.S.'s toys. Why are so many lead-painted toys, other defective products from China, moving onto American shelves? Experts say the U.S. government shares only part of the responsibility.

RACHEL WEINTRAUB, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not have pre-market jurisdiction. So they only have jurisdiction over products once they come on the market. So in the pre-market universe, it's up to the manufacturers, the importers, the retailers.

TODD: A short time ago, I spoke with an official at the Chinese embassy. He would not comment on the tire recall, but he said the government attaches great importance to the issue of product safety. He says tough measures have been taken recently and he cautions against blowing all of this out of proportion. He says Miles 99 percent of Chinese exports are up to safety standards.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd in the "NEWSROOM," thank you.

Let's talk about exports for just a moment. China's global economic strength has grown by leaps and bounds over a relatively short period of time. Check out these numbers behind me here. In 1986, there were $4.7 billion in U.S. trade imports from China. Only $4.6 million. Now that number grew to more than ten fold, to $51.5 billion in '96. Wait, check this out. 2006, look at the numbers now, $287.8 billion in Chinese imports.

Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York with the Cafferty File.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour Miles, is the 2008 presidential campaign just happening too quickly.

Fred writes from Indiana, "The primary system really hurts the United States. The way it's set up, it's too long, too petty, way too boring. The system gives us the fringe of both parties to vote for, far right republicans, far left democrats. No wonder voter participation is so dismal. Mainly though the voters have realized it won't make much of a difference. Those who have the money will do what they please and get what they want no matter who wins."

Beverly in Texas writes, "So much time and money could be saved, and annoying commercials could be avoided with a single day for primary voting across the country." Not to mention the fact that everyone's vote might have a better chance of counting.

Adam in Valley Village, California, "Our country is like a child waiting for candy after being deprived of sugar for years. We're nervous and excited. It's happening too fast, but the prolonged drama is what the country needs to stray from the depressing thoughts occuric from our current administration." This hype a sign of optimism and look toward the future, a severely better alternative than what we could be now as a country.

Glen in Missouri writes, "My fiance lives in Quebec. From the moment the decision is made to have an election and an election date is set until voting is over, the time lapse is six weeks." Surely, we're driven by forces other than the electoral process. What else do we need to know?

Lois writes in Fresno writes, "The whole juggling of primary election dates beyond ridiculous. It's a gimmick to draw attention to small states that don't ordinarily don't get a lot of attention."

And Cletus writes from one of the small states, Lone Tree, Ohio. "I live in Ohio, been through many campaign cycles, but this one takes the proverbial cake. The whole process here is a circus. The candidates even court the cows and the hogs. The absurdity of their town hall meetings, the gibberish they spout only adds to the methane emitted from our state." If you thought cows were fully gassed, they can't hold a candle to this crop of presidential candidates.

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to We post more of them online along with video clips of the Cafferty File.


O'BRIEN: You know, methane is a green house gas which means it increases global warming. So we could stop global warming if we just ended the whole thing now, right?

CAFFERTY: If you say so. Dr. O'Brien. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, sir. We'll see you later.

President Bush, read his hands. Find out what his fingers were really saying as he addressed the nation.



O'BRIEN: President Bush put up his dukes today as he faced off with reporters at the White House briefing room. He wasn't challenging the media to a few rounds in the ring, but making a point about the body language world leaders use when they're in public. And that got Jeanne Moos thinking about that subject.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember when the first President Bush so memorably said --


MOOS: In his son's case, we decided to read his hands. The president's hands were busy at Thursday's press conference swaying and slicing.

BUSH: And the forces of murder.

MOOS: Even conducting.

BUSH: Let's see here.

MOOS: So we see him really conducting before, since the president is known for mangling phrases like barriers and terrorists. Maybe it pays to pay more attention to what his hands say. When he says unwind, they say unwind.

BUSH: Unwinding Saddam's laws.

MOOS: When he says embrace, they embrace.

BUSH: Embrace liberty.

MOOS: When he says bottom up, so do his hands.

PATTI WOOD, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT: This is an example of symbolic body language where what you're saying and what you're gesturing means the same thing.

MOOS: But you better watch out. When the president starts pointing that finger, for instance, at Iran.

BUSH: When we catch you in a non-constructive role, there will be a price to pay.

WOOD: Putting your finger on the point where you want to put the pressure. MOOS: But don't read too much into gestures. We recall the time Condoleezza Rice flicked her hand across your face at an important negotiating session. Cameras clicked and next thing you know it looked like a secretary of state under siege. At the president's press conference, this was the moment the cameras clicked.

BUSH: Put up your dukes. That's an old boxing expression.

MOOS: When it comes to the president's favorite gesture, this seems to be it.

BUSH: I strongly believe that's the case.

MOOS: Translation.

WOOD: This is something I feel strongly in my heart about.

MOOS: Youthful gestures can come back to haunt a leader. Take Tony Blair, take that hat. For years, this innocent air brushed photo circulated and only recently did the original photo showing Blair making a rude gesture hit the pages of newspapers like London's Daily Mail, so the president better watch how he lets his fingers do the talking. It's worth it to keep your two hands straight.