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AMERICAN MORNING

Undecided Women Voters; "The First Patient"

Aired September 28, 2004 - 09:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: It's just about half past the hour now on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Senator John Kerry is spending a lot of time on national security while campaigning, and the pressure is on for him to connect with women on that very message. Kelly Wallace will look at a surprising trend this year among women voters who are focused on war.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also this hour, a medical mystery from the days of John F. Kennedy. Who was the man known as "Dr. Feelgood?" And why did the president keep him so close? Sanjay Gupta looking at a possible medical cover-up perhaps. We'll get to the good doctor on that story in a moment.

COLLINS: A very interesting story.

We want to check on the stories now in the news, though. We have Rick Sanchez standing by to help us with that.

Hey, Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Heidi.

U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti may soon get some much-needed help from China. State Department officials say that some 130 Chinese police officers are going to be sent to the flood-ravaged island to support U.N. forces trying to control rioting and looting for food. This is the first time that Chinese forces are going to be deployed in the Western Hemisphere.

A man that U.S. officials have called an enemy combatant could leave the United States sometime today. Yaser Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan almost three years ago. His lawyers reached a deal that sends Hamdi back to his native Saudi Arabia in exchange for giving up his American citizenship and renouncing terrorism. Hamdi was supposed to leave Sunday, but his flight was delayed by bad weather.

Crews are set to resume the search for a fifth victim in the helicopter crash in Hawaii. Officials say the chopper slammed into a remote mountain. This happened Friday. A break in the weather yesterday did allow rescue workers to recover the remains of four of the five people on board.

Well, get ready to hear more details about the Kobe Bryant sexual assault scandal. That's because Bryant's lawyers say they are dropping a bid to seal evidence in the sexual assault case against the NBA star. They say the evidence probably would have been leaked anyway, so they're not going to get in the way. The case against Bryant was dropped at the accuser's request.

Hey, Bill, back over to you.

HEMMER: All right, Rick, thanks for that.

Senator John Kerry may have a problem with women voters. Traditionally, Democrats have an edge with the female vote. But according to some recent polling, the president is the one with the lead now. Why?

Kelly Wallace joins us now with some answers this morning.

And good morning to you.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

And to explain what's happening with women voters, we're borrowing that phrase from the past: "It's the economy, stupid." Well, it appears we should change that to: "It's security, stupid."

We went out to the suburbs just outside of New York City to investigate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE (voice over): Judy Gartman is a mother of two who strongly favors abortion rights and stem cell research. So, you might assume then she's voting for the Democrats. But she tells us she is undecided because of doubts about John Kerry.

JUDITH GARTMAN, UNDECIDED VOTERS: I guess I'm kind of swaying from one side to another. It's much more a -- I'm looking for leadership.

WALLACE: Voters like Judy illustrate a problem Democrats don't usually have. After all, in the last election Al Gore won the women vote 54 to 43 percent. But in the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, Kerry is actually behind President Bush by 2 points with women voters, 21 points behind on the question of who can better handle terrorism.

Why? Political analysts point to the Republican Convention's emphasis on national security and the Russian school massacre in Beslan.

SUSAN CARROLL, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: The focus recently has been on security issues, and the polls have consistently shown that that's the single area where George W. Bush does best with voters, both men and women.

WALLACE: Kathy Bunta is a mother of three and a solid Kerry supporter.

(on camera): What is your advice that you would give Senator Kerry that he needs to do between now and the election, do you think, or you hope he will do? KATHY BUNTA, VOTING FOR KERRY: Well, I don't -- fight fire with fire. You know, obviously the Republicans are doing something right about drilling the message home.

WALLACE (voice over): The senator clearly has gotten that message. He's making the rounds on the daytime talk shows and on the stump trying to appeal directly to women.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): And some of the women we talked to say they will be watching the debates very, very closely. The stakes, Bill, are definitely high. President Bush is certainly expected to do better than Senator Kerry with male voters. So women could really be the decisive voting bloc in November.

HEMMER: That they could. Thank you, Kelly -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Some women with very positive opinions about Senator Kerry are Elizabeth Edwards, wife of vice presidential candidate John Edwards, and Maura Satchell, whose older son is a Marine who fought in Iraq and who is a member of the group, Military Moms with a Mission. They spoke with us about that group and the concerns they have with the Bush administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAURA SATCHELL, MILITARY MOMS WITH A MISSION: We're all pretty bright women, I should say. We've got one woman that's a wife actually of a military gentleman, and she's going up for her doctorate in sociology, writing a paper right now on military families. That's her thesis. And she can speak about the situation on bases in the military, where bases are being closed. And, you know, WIC, there are women, infant and children stands at the commissaries in these things.

And four years ago, Vice President Cheney, in his debate, said we're with you, military. We're going to be there for you. We're going to pull you out of this. And you'd think Republicans would do that. But believe it or not, they have not done that this time, and it's unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Elizabeth Edwards also leveled criticism at President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: What you've seen from this president, though, is he's made choice after choice as commander- in-chief. He's not that nameless candidate. He's George Bush with a record, a record of sending our men, the sons and husbands of these brave women here, into combat without the gear that they needed. He's not taken the diplomatic steps needed to make certain that they needed to go into battle. After they come back from battle, he has not stood beside them at the V.A. hospitals. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Elizabeth Edwards, wife of vice presidential candidate John Edwards, and Maura Satchell, a member of Military Moms With a Mission -- Bill.

HEMMER: Meanwhile, senior Bush adviser Karen Hughes also spoke with us today about that very issue, addressing the concerns of military moms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN HUGHES, SPECIAL ADVISOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: My heart goes out to these moms. I can only imagine. I have a very close friend whose husband is in Iraq. I can only imagine. I have a son myself who is 17. I can only imagine the agony that they're going through, the worry, the prayer, the concern they have for their young men and women who are serving our country.

I have talked to lots of military moms. I come from a military family. And I think the vast majority of both our soldiers and of our military families understand the stakes in this war against terror. They know that our freedom and our future is threatened, and that we have to prevail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Again, Karen Hughes in Crawford, Texas, earlier today here on AMERICAN MORNING, helping President Bush get ready for the debate on Thursday night in Miami. That debate is set for 9:00 Eastern Time. Our live coverage starts an hour earlier, 8:00 Eastern Time, from Miami. And watch AMERICAN MORNING. We will get ready, too. The first presidential debate on the road in Miami Thursday morning from southern Florida.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a special series this week on presidential health. It's all leading up to his weekend primetime special, "The First Patient." Sanjay is joining us now from the CNN center with part two of his series now.

Good morning to you -- Sanjay.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi.

Yes, you know, it's really interesting. Presidents have always been reluctant to reveal any sign at all of physical weakness. And there have been several presidents who went so far that you could call it a real medical cover-up. John Kennedy is one example.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I John Fitzgerald Kennedy... GUPTA (voice over): America's youngest elected president, 43- year-old John F. Kennedy. A veil of secrecy has often shrouded the Oval Office. And when it comes to Kennedy's medical history, there was something lurking beneath the surface.

ROBERT FARRELL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There's only one word for it: it's weird.

GUPTA: Presidential historian Robert Farrell says Dr. Max Jacobson, known for his work with high society, was never officially the president's doctor, but treated him nonetheless. Farrell says his research found that Jacobson, known as "Dr. Feelgood," gave what he called -- quote -- "vitamin injections" to the president.

FARRELL: When Kennedy went to meet with Khrushchev, Jacobson was along, and he gave Kennedy shots in the throat, which is almost horrible to think of, because you don't know what he was putting in there.

GUPTA: What was in there, Farrell says, were amphetamines.

Dr. James Young was on the White House medical teams with Kennedy. He showed us the medical briefcase he used to carry. He's kept it in a closet for nearly four decades.

Darvon compound, morphine, equinil -- controversial today, but ready if the president or anyone in his entourage should need them. But Young says the president was fit, and says the only drug he ever gave the president was a daily dose of steroids for his Addison's disease.

A second briefcase was kept in the White House in a secret bunker in case of nuclear attack. The combination? 529.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: JFK's birth date.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: That was called a teaser. There's going to be a lot more of that. In the special, we look more at Kennedy's medical condition and several other cover-ups, some of which I can only call outrageous -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Wow! I mean, that one was pretty big, too. If Kennedy were president today, though, do you think, Sanjay, he could have kept all of that hidden?

GUPTA: You know, that's a good question. I think with people like you and me and 24/7 news coverage in general, it would be very difficult. Plus, the White House medical office, as we learned, is a lot more organized these days, a lot more professional in some ways as well -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, that's for sure. What if the president wants to keep his condition, whatever that may be, secret, I mean, is that the doctor's responsibility then to go along with it? GUPTA: You see, it's not spelled out. We talked to several former White House doctors, and every single person, they said that the president never asked them to lie about anything. But they also said they generally believe the president should have as much medical privacy as anyone else. Not everyone agrees with that, though.

And it's a matter of serious debate. Is the physician responsible, to his patient, the president, or to the country as a whole? And that's something we get into as well -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, that is an interesting question. All right, so what's on tap for tomorrow then?

GUPTA: Tomorrow we take a look at how much we really know about the health of President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry. And you can see the whole one-hour special. It's called "The First Patient: Health and the Presidency," Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, wonderful. Sanjay, we look forward to that, of course.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COLLINS: And for more on presidential health, you can also log on to cnn.com/firstpatient.

HEMMER: It's 17 minutes before the hour. A break here. In a moment, wake up and smell the coffee. Today it's going to cost you a bit more than ever. Andy is "Minding Your Business." We'll talk about it.

COLLINS: All right, spiffing it up.

HEMMER: That it is.

COLLINS: Plus, ever want to be the smartest person in the world? We'll meet a man who tried to make good on that dream. Meet "Mr. Know It All." There he is there. Stay with us right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone.

Our next guest is a real know-it-all. And "Esquire" magazine editor A.J. Jacobs considers that to be high praise. To write his new book, he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, 32 volumes, 33,000 pages. And the result is the Mensa-like memoir titled, "The Know-It- All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World."

A.J. Jacobs my guest now here in New York City.

Good morning to you.

A.J. JACOBS, AUTHOR, "THE KNOW-IT-ALL": Good morning. Thanks for having me.

HEMMER: What were you thinking?

JACOBS: A lot of people ask me that. Well, 10 years out of college I felt, like many people, my brain had turned to mush and something drastic needed to be done. So this was my mental triathlon.

HEMMER: But there are certain things you can do in a mental triathlon, and then there are other things like this.

JACOBS: Well, you're right. You're right. But I got the idea from my dad, who when I was a kid, he started to read the encyclopedia, but he only made it up to the mid-Bs like Borneo or Botany Bay. So, I wanted to...

HEMMER: But that's only the second letter.

JACOBS: Well, that's why I wanted to finish it and restore the family honor.

HEMMER: Well, what did your wife think about this, A.J.?

JACOBS: Well, my wife, you know, I tried to insert my facts at any opportunity. So, by the end, I had pushed her to the brink. And she was fining me $1 for every irrelevant fact I inserted.

HEMMER: Would you just throw them in during conversation?

JACOBS: Oh, yes, anything.

HEMMER: Or at the dinner table, walking down the street?

JACOBS: Absolutely, absolutely.

HEMMER: What would you throw in on occasional day?

JACOBS: Well, I mean, you've got so many interesting facts. There's that Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old first cousin. So he was the Jerry Lee Lewis of the...

HEMMER: I did not know that.

JACOBS: That is true.

HEMMER: Possums have 13 nipples?

JACOBS: That's an important one. That is one.

HEMMER: Ancient Egyptians mummified their cats and even mice so the cats would have something to eat?

JACOBS: You've got to give the cats something to eat. One of my favorites is the history of canned laughter, which started back in the 1800s in France, where theater owners would hire people to laugh at their comedies. But here's the brilliant innovation. They also hired people to cry during the tragedies. HEMMER: Is that right?

JACOBS: So it was like a weep track, which I think the networks, you know...

HEMMER: I didn't know that either.

JACOBS: If you get "NYPD Blue" a weep track, it would be nice..

HEMMER: You had to drive your wife nuts through this.

JACOBS: Well, yes. As they say, I lost a lot of money with her fines.

HEMMER: You went to a Mensa-like meeting, I understand, at one point.

JACOBS: I did.

HEMMER: What was -- the purpose was to contribute to your book, obviously.

JACOBS: Right.

HEMMER: What did you find out there?

JACOBS: Well, yes, the book is partly the Cliffs notes for the encyclopedia. Partly it's going on these adventures to test my knowledge. So the Mensa convention -- I don't want to reinforce stereotypes here, but there was a lot of talking about "Star Trek." Specifically, why would Jean-Luc Picard, the captain, why would he be bald? Wouldn't they have a cure for baldness in the future?

HEMMER: Good point. Yes, I was thinking that just the other day, A.J. Did you ever -- how many times did you think, you know, this is just awfully boring and I need to get off this project?

JACOBS: Yes, there were quite a few times, especially when I hit the letter S, which was like the Heartbreak Hill of the Boston Marathon, 1,000 pages. So you think you're almost done, and then you hit S.

HEMMER: So you burrowed through essentially and got all the way to Z.

JACOBS: Exactly.

HEMMER: What was the last entry, by the way?

JACOBS: Well, I don't know if I should ruin the ending. But just for you, it's Zywiec, Z-Y-W-I-E-C.

HEMMER: And that is?

JACOBS: Well, it's a town in South Central Poland noted for its good beer. HEMMER: Oh. So you remember it, too.

JACOBS: Yes.

HEMMER: How often when you were doing this project did you think, man, my curiosity is just firing today...

JACOBS: Well...

HEMMER: ... and you actually found yourself interested?

JACOBS: Yes, there was -- I mean, there were parts, I won't lie, that were not fascinating. Nothing against Portugal, but when I was in Portuguese literature I was like, what am I doing here? But there were so many interesting facts that you never think would be in the encyclopedia. For instance, did you know that philosopher Rene Descartes was obsessed with cross-eyed women?

HEMMER: I did not. Well, see, the things we're learning.

JACOBS: That's right.

HEMMER: And Portuguese poetry?

JACOBS: That was...

HEMMER: Bomgia (ph), nice to see you, A.J.

JACOBS: Nice to see you.

HEMMER: And congratulations on your newborn son as well.

JACOBS: Thank you very much. Oh, thank you.

HEMMER: And give our best to your wife, too...

JACOBS: Absolutely.

HEMMER: ... for putting up with this, OK.

JACOBS: She's a saint.

HEMMER: You're a good sport. Nice to see you.

JACOBS: Thank you.

HEMMER: All right -- Heidi.

COLLINS: And how poignant did the last entry had something to do with a beer. I liked that.

All right, still to come this morning, some coffee lovers are about to get another jolt with their morning java, but it's got nothing to do with caffeine. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: First oil prices skyrocket, and now Starbucks gets into the act. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" and has an early check on the market as well.

Hello.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Very good. Prices are going up all over the place, right, Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes.

SERWER: Yes, the price of oil is still stuck about $50 this morning. The stock market seems to be absorbing the blow is what I meant to say. Excuse me. Absorbing the blow. You see here the Dow is up 24 points.

One stock moving to the north side is Google, up $3 more to $1.21. The air is getting a little thin up there. And I wouldn't be chasing the stock if I were you, but that's just my opinion. The company coming out, a Wall Street brokerage saying stock could go to $1.45 -- $145, that is, forget it.

COLLINS: Wow!

SERWER: Yes, Starbucks is raising prices. It will be happening a week from tomorrow, next Wednesday, October 6. This is the sound of a company getting richer, 11 cents more -- 11, 8, 9, 10, 11.

COLLINS: People keep buying it, right?

SERWER: That's right. And I figure, listen, Heidi, I go there every day, buy a cup, and say it's about 10 cents so I'm going to be giving that company $25 over the next 12 months, a year.

COLLINS: (INAUDIBLE).

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

SERWER: Well, no, I am, because it's not like I'm not going to go.

HEMMER: That's worth at least another $1 for milk, too?

SERWER: Jack, you don't go to Starbucks, do you?

CAFFERTY: It's a weasel deal. They are the greatest marketers in the world. They sell a 10 cent cup of coffee for $3.

SERWER: Think how it would mellow him out, how it would change his personality...

CAFFERTY: I mean, it's just (INAUDIBLE).

SERWER: ... if he went to Starbucks and have a mellow cup of coffee. COLLINS: Please no.

CAFFERTY: It's a weasel deal.

SERWER: A weasel deal.

CAFFERTY: It's a weasel deal.

The "Question of the Day" is as follows: How can CBS restore confidence following the Rather scandal? The answers are as follows.

George from Piney Creek, North Carolina: "CBS should terminate Rather and his producer. There's no excuse for the airing of the report after they were warned by outside experts the documents were questionable. My bet would be, though, they will take an easier way out."

Tom in Clearwater, Florida: "Extremely difficult. Their use of the story and slowness to acknowledge the problems with it will cast doubt on them for years to come."

And Dennis in Stevens Points, Wisconsin: "Time heals. CBS is not in trouble over the long run. The story itself is probably accurate, even though the documents were not. People have a short memory."

CAFFERTY: Thank you.

SERWER: You know what's tricky about this? Dan Rather is going to step down anyway. So, how do you tell if he's going to be pushed out early?

CAFFERTY: When?

SERWER: Right, exactly.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

SERWER: When?

HEMMER: Hang on. What is it, 72 and counting, right? And still strong.

Coming up next hour on CNN, two days to go for that first debate in Miami. Chances are the actual event will have fewer twists and turns than the planning behind it. A special look at the debate, over the debate next hour with Betty Nguyen on "CNN LIVE TODAY." We are back in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Before we get out of here, we want to check in with Aaron Brown on his West Coast tour, coming up later tonight on "NEWSNIGHT."

Here's Aaron. AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": Thank you. And tonight on "NEWSNIGHT," day two of our West Coast trip. We'll be down in Portland, Oregon. Oregon voters are about to take up the question that voters across the country are sharply divided on: Who should be allowed to marry? A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot is causing a great deal of debate throughout the state. It could impact the presidential election as well.

Assisted suicide is on the menu also. The day's top news, morning papers of the sort. All of that and more on "NEWSNIGHT" on the road 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

HEMMER: All right, next stop is Portland. Aaron, thanks for that. We'll see you later tonight.

We've got to run, huh?

COLLINS: Yes, we do. Eleven cents.

HEMMER: Eleven cents.

COLLINS: Pay up.

HEMMER: It all adds up.

Here's Betty Nguyen at the CNN center to take you through the next hour.

Hey, Betty, good morning to you down there.

COLLINS: Hi, Betty.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you.

And good morning from the CNN headquarters here in Atlanta. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Daryn Kagan.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.


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