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Terrorist Plot Traced Back to Germany; President Obama Brainstorms on Economic Recovery

Aired October 4, 2010 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's go over here, because it is a new hour and it's a new "Rundown" right here on CNN. And a new Supreme Court as well.

The man who wrote the book on the court, his name is Jeffrey Toobin. Of course he's our senior legal analyst. He is here to take us through what promises to be a controversial term for the changing justices.

Plus, a lifeline to NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, under attack, shut down by insurgents with rockets and bombs. How will our men and women in uniform get the supplies that they need?

Plus this , the new bullying causing young people to take their own lives. And parents, don't get mad at me, but I've got some very choice and serious words for you coming up in our "XYZ" segment.

So, why don't we get started here? Because we are learning now from Pakistani sources that eight suspected militants, German militants, have been killed in a suspected drone strike in northwest Pakistan. Northwest Pakistan, killed in a suspected drone strike there.

This extremely interesting development follows word that the alleged al Qaeda plot that prompted a European-wide travel alert this weekend had its roots in Germany. No word so far on any direct links between the plot and today's strike, but European intelligence says jihadists from the German city of Hamburg were at the heart of a plot to launch coordinated attacks in a number of European cities. And I want to give you the details right now.

German officials say they were all recruited from the Taiba mosque in Hamburg, which German officials shut down back in August. This is the same mosque that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta attended back in the '90s.

German officials say the group behind the latest plot left Hamburg for the tribal areas of Pakistan in 2009 and joined an al Qaeda-linked group fighting U.S.-led forces across the border in Afghanistan. We're told one of those men was Jahab Dosti (ph), a German citizen of Iranian descent.

Late in 2009, Dosti (ph) appeared in this video that you're seeing right now urging Germans to join in a holy war against American forces in Afghanistan. Militants in the video are armed with rockets, you can see, and guns, type of combat skills which western counterterrorism officials fear could be used in western cities much like the 2008 attacks that terrorized Mumbai, India. Western intelligence officials say they learned about the plot from one of the Hamburg group members.

His name is Ahmed Sidiqi, a German citizen of Afghan descent who was arrested in Afghanistan in July. Sidiqi was taken the U.S. air base at Bagram for questioning, and intelligence sources in Germany say he is cooperating with that investigation, offering new details every single day.

All of this sparked the U.S. State Department security alert for Americans traveling in Europe to be extra vigilant. Britain and Japan issued a similar alert for their citizens.

And for a better understanding of this plot and the Hamburg connection, we're joined now by terrorism analyst and investigative reporter Mr. Paul Cruickshank. He is in Hamburg for us.

OK. So, listen, here's what I want to ask you. We heard just now about the possible men who were in this drone strike, the German nationals in Pakistan. What do we know about that?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Don, I think this is potentially quite significant.

The Taiba mosque here is where -- some radicals were attending this mosque back in 2009. They decided to go to the tribal areas of Pakistan.

They actually went to this area, Mirali, where the drone strike just took place, Don. And it seems that some of them were foot soldier in this plot. Some of them were playing planning roles in this plot.

Now, three of these people are still at large, according to European counterterrorism officials. So the fact that the drone strike has taken place in Mirali, exactly the area these people were around, is potentially quite significant tonight -- Don.

LEMON: So I want to ask you this -- is this plot still on, giving all the attention and the alerts we have been reporting, and I'm sure all news organizations have been reporting? Do we know if it was imminent?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, we don't know if the plot was imminent at this point. We just have no information about that.

The Germans though are saying probably not so imminent, probably long- range planning, but there's other information coming in from other areas. So we just don't have that information at this point, Don. But there's obviously concern. There's been this travel advisory issued, and it's been treated seriously.

LEMON: We've been mentioning countries -- we've been talking about France, Germany, Japan, all of that. But what about -- let's get more specific here. What cities are likely targeted, and what sorts of soft targets could they be looking at? CRUICKSHANK: Well, we don't know which cities in particular. We do know that France, Britain and Germany were potentially targets in this attack. It could have been capital cities.

In terms of the target, if it was a Mumbai-style attack, crowded places, places where people gather, where they can go in and fire automatic weapons and try and kill as many people as possible. That was the nature of what we're hearing about this plot -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Paul Cruickshank from Hamburg, Germany, joining us with the very latest.

Paul, thank you very much.

Let's move on now and talk about politics.

Really, as campaign debates go, the one in California over the weekend was really scalding hot. Fireworks erupted when Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman attacked Democratic rival Jerry Brown over immigration policy. But what really set Whitman off is Brown's comments on her illegal immigrant housekeeper.

It's our "Sound Effect" today.


MEG WHITMAN (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE : You should be ashamed. You and your surrogates put her deportation at risk. You put her out there. And you should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions.

I took accountability. We hired someone who I thought was here legally. She was not. We unfortunately had to let her go.

And what would you have had me do? Would you have had me call the attorney general's office to have her deported? What would you have had me do other than exactly what we did?

JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet and say, hey, I made a mistake, I'm sorry, let's go on from here. You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions. But you don't take accountability.


LEMON: Whitman was hounded over her former housekeeper all last week when it was revealed that she had worked for Whitman for nine years. Most polls show Whitman and Brown neck and neck in the race for governor. Both candidates, by the way, are vying for the Latino vote, which represents 21 percent of California's electorate.

Summer is already a distant memory for most of us, really, but for the highest court in the land, summer vacation ends today. We'll look at the new term, the new court, and the hot-button cases when we come right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The first Monday in October is a special day. It is a day the Supreme Court justices will suit up for a new term of arguments, decisions, and orders.

But before we get to this story, we want to get you to the White House, really, and the State Dining Room, because the president is coming out right now and he is going to speak on some economic issues. He's having a big summit there at the White House.

Let's go and listen to the president.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- and education of our work force, because every business leader in this room knows that the single most important predictor of America's success in the 21st century is how well our workers can compete with workers all around the world. All of our education institutions from our preschools to our universities have a critical role to play here, but one of our most undervalued assets as a nation is our network of community colleges.

These colleges don't just serve as a gateway to good jobs for millions of middle class Americans. Community colleges also serve as a pool of talent from which businesses can draw trained, skilled workers. Unfortunately, because of the burden the recession has placed on state and local budgets, community colleges have been forced to cap enrollments and scrap courses. And even in the best of times, they receive far less funding than four-year colleges and universities.

Not only is that not right, I think it's not smart, not at a time when so many Americans are still looking for work, and not at a time when so many other nations are trying to out-educate us today so they can out-compete us tomorrow. We need to be doing more, not less, to equip our workers with the skills and training they need in the 21st century. It's an economic imperative.

And so I've said that by the year 2020, I want to see an additional five million community college degrees and certificates in America. And to reach this goal, we're making an unprecedented investment in our community colleges -- upgrading them, modernizing them, and challenging these schools to pursue innovative, research-oriented approaches to education.

And I've asked Dr. Jill Biden, a community college educator for more than 17 years, who's with us here today, to help promote community colleges around the country and lead the first-ever White House summit on community colleges which will be taking place tomorrow. And I've asked this Economic Advisory Board to reach out to employers across the country and come up with new ways for businesses, community colleges, and other job-training providers to work together.

The results of their effort is an initiative called Skills for America's Future, which we'll be talking about today. And I want to thank Penny Pritzker and I believe Anna Burger, and perhaps some other folks around this table for putting in enormous amounts of time on this initiative.

The idea here is simple. We want to make it easier to connect students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire. We want to help community colleges and employers create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardrooms.

We've already seen cases where this can work. Cisco, for example, has been working directly with community colleges to prepare students and workers for jobs ranging from work in broadband to health IT. And all over the country, we know that the most successful communities colleges are those that partner with the private sector.

So, Skills for America's Future would help build on these success stories by connecting more employers, schools, and other job-training providers, and helping them share knowledge about what practices work best. The goal is to ensure that every state in the country has at least one strong partnership between a growing industry and a community college. And already, companies from UTC to Accenture to The Gap have announced their support for this initiative, as well as business leaders like my friend Penny Pritzker and Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson.

I hope other business leaders will follow suit, and I'm also setting up a task force to work with the business community on this effort. This is just one of those ideas that just makes sense. Investing in the skills and education of our workers, and connecting them with potential employers is something that we should all be able to agree upon, whether Republicans or Democrats, business leaders or labor leaders. But it can only happen if we maintain our commitment to education, and so let me just make one last point before we start a broader discussion.

I realize that we're facing an untenable fiscal situation. There was a $1.3 trillion deficit staring at me when I took office. And although the economic crisis and the steps we took to stop the free- fall temporarily added to our fiscal challenges, it's clear that we're going to have to get serious about the deficit.

And that's why I've proposed a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending. That's why I've launched a bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission, which will be reporting in a few months.

What I won't do is cut back on investments like education that are directly related to our long-term economic performance. Now is not the time to sacrifice our competitive edge in the global economy. And that's why I disagree so strongly with the proposal from some on the other side of the aisle to cut education by 20 percent in next year's budget.

It's a cut that would eliminate 20-,000 children from Head Start programs. It would reduce financial aid for eight million college students. It would leave community colleges without the resources they need to meet the goals that we've talked about today, and that just doesn't make sense to me. So I'm happy to have a debate about this issue in the coming months, but one thing I know is that this country would be stronger if all of our children get a world class education. That means, by the way, not just money, it also means reform. And I'm glad to see Arne Duncan sitting here today, who's done as much to promote significant reform across the board than just about any education secretary in recent memory.

Our businesses will be more successful if they can find skilled, trained workers here in America. Our future will be more secure if anybody who's willing to work hard is able to achieve their dream of getting a college education. And those are priorities that we all share.

Those are investments that benefit the entire nation. And that's what we need to focus on right now, what will grow our economy, fuel our businesses, rebuild our middle class, and keep the American dream alive for the 21st century.

So, I look forward to working with all of you toward that common goal. And now let's get down to the business of this meeting. I think they're going to remove this big thing here, and I'm going to be able to sit down, and we'll have a good conversation.

All right. Is somebody going to break this down?

LEMON: President Barack Obama there. You see him in the State Dining Room at the White House, really talking about the effort to -- for reform, to get money and support for students, and also for colleges, saying it's important that our students are able to get the best education that they can, pointing out that the education secretary, Arne Duncan, is there.

Jill Biden -- Dr. Jill Biden there, Joe Biden, our vice president's wife. And also, Penny Pritzker is there, who is the chairman and founder of Pritzker Realty Group and also helped the president raise money during his campaign. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GEE, and a number of other bigwigs there as well.

I want to tell you that tomorrow the president will join Dr. Jill Biden at the first-ever White House summit for community colleges. And if you care to watch any more of this, what the president is doing there in the State Dining room, They have it all live for you.

And right now let's take another live picture and go to the Big Board on Wall Street. And there you could see the Dow trading right now at minus 107, and then the Nasdaq, minus 32 points right now.

We'll have a full, full, full report coming up here on CNN. Investors really still on edge with European markets, and that might be explaining exactly what's going on, why the Dow is trading in negative numbers right now.

In other business news, if you are a Verizon customer, or used to be one, you might have some money coming to you. Every little bit helps in this economy.

It is payback for the company overcharging people. About 15 million customers found data charges on their monthly bills even though they hadn't described to a data plan. Current customers will see a bill credited between $2 and $6 in most cases. Former customers will get a refund check in the mail.

So I want you to stay with us. We'll be right back after this with more, right here on CNN.


LEMON: All right. Before we got to the president, we were talking to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, about the first day -- it's the first day on the job for this new court, three women, unprecedented here.

Jeffrey, talk to us about the cases. There are some very controversial cases coming up, and these women are going to exert their influence over the court.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: That's certainly true, Don.

The big case certainly this week is a case about protests at the funerals of service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. A very small, very obscure church in Kansas has been protesting against homosexuality at these soldiers' funerals. Very painful, very upsetting for those family members who certainly have suffered enough.

One of those families sued the church, got an $11 million judgment. That was overturned on the ground that, as unpleasant as these protests are, they're protected by the First Amendment. And that's really what this case is about, can those protests continue?

LEMON: Hey Jeffrey --

TOOBIN: -- and can they be held liable for them? Yes?

LEMON: You know, I interviewed "Hustler" magazine publisher Larry Flynt over the weekend, and he has experience arguing First Amendment claims before the Supreme Court.

Now, I want you to hear what he said about this case that you're talking about, the Phelps case, and then we'll talk about it.


LARRY FLYNT, PUBLISHER, "HUSTLER" MAGAZINE: What everyone was doing in terms of protesting the funeral of someone burying their dead, coming home from the war, I can't think of anything more despicable, more insensitive to do, you know. But Justice Rehnquist, in my case, he was a senior Supreme Court justice, and he wrote the majority opinion. And he said often things are done under the guise of the First Amendment with less than admirable intention, but the government had no right to suppress it.


LEMON: It's a tough one when you're talking about First Amendment rights, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: It really is a tough case, and I think Larry Flynt, quoting former Chief Justice Rehnquist, really made the point that a lot of big First Amendment cases have been made by very unpopular groups, whether it was anarchists after World War I, or people who didn't want to salute the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance during World War II, people who wanted to burn the flag in the 1980s, a very controversial case. These are people who hold outcast opinions, but in all of these cases, the Supreme Court has said what the First Amendment provides is freedom for the thought that we hate.

And certainly there's hardly more hateful speech than these people torturing these poor families that are suffering so much as it is. But it may be that they say this is protected by the First Amendment.

LEMON: You know, you, as I said, wrote the book -- I talked to you last hour -- wrote the book on this. It's called "The Nine." Now, you said you have some information, what's going to be important in the two case that are not going to come before the Supreme Court?

TOOBIN: Well, they're not there yet. They certainly will be there eventually. If not this year, then next year.

And the two really big cases that are sort of hanging out, that are really, I think, going to define the court under John Roberts, the chief justice, is, one, is health care reform constitutional? There are lots of cases being teed up on that issue. Certainly, there are some justices, maybe not a majority, who will -- who would like to see that law struck down.

And the other is same-sex marriage. The Proposition 8 case in California was just decided, that Judge Vaughn Walker struck down, the Proposition 8 law in California, that's now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That's probably going to wind up before the court.

Those two cases, health care reform and same-sex marriage, are really going to define this Supreme Court for decades. And whether they get it this year or next year, it's hard to tell.

LEMON: I was going to say it's probably going to be next session, but it could come at the end of this session.

Jeff Toobin, thank you, sir.

TOOBIN: All right, Don.

LEMON: You know, it is called the most segregated hour in America. Talking about church on Sunday. Now one church is trying to change that, but not everybody is on board with it.


LEMON: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once described 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning the most segregated hour in America. Forty years later, his words still ring true.

One African-American church is trying to change all that, but not everyone is on board.

Here's our Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday service at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Orange County, California. The church started 12 years ago by Reverend Mark Whitlock, 3,000 members strong and growing. Here they practice something many other black churches do not: integration.

REV. MARK WHITLOCK, CHRIST OUR REDEEMER AME: It is time for us to get away from black church and white church.

The church is still the most segregated place on Sunday in the United States. Our goal is do what heaven has accomplished. Heaven is fully integrated.

ROWLANDS: African-Americans make up two percent of the population in Orange County, which makes integration here almost essential for growth. But Whitlock argues it should be happening at every church because he says unlike the past, most of the issues that blacks, whites, and everybody else struggle with are all the same.

WHITLOCK: We have problems with our kids, we have problems with bills, we have problems on the job.

ROWLANDS: But not everybody thinks integrating the black church is such a good idea. Michael Reel is the managing former editor of the "Baptist Voice" and co-editor of

MICHAEL REEL, REELURBANNEWS.COM: It's ours. It's the one last place in the world that we have that we can call our own.

WHITLOCK: We have whites on our board. They look different than blacks. Yes, they speak up a little more than blacks. Yes. But that means they feel a sense of freedom, they feel a sense of belonging.

If other churches aren't doing it, are they really practicing authentic Christianity? It really is about bringing change to our community.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Irvine, California.


LEMON: Fighting a financial crisis from the pulpit. The black church has fought for civil and human rights, and now it is waging war on debt. "Almighty Debt," a "Black in America" special, it's coming Thursday, October 21st, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Supply convoys in Pakistan again under attack. We'll explain why the convoys are the lifeline for U.S. troops and NATO forces in Afghanistan and why they're vulnerable to attack.

That's next. We're going "Globe Trekking."


LEMON: Let's go "Globe Trekking" right now to get your perspective on what our troops are facing. Our destination right now is Pakistan. Another attack today on a truck convoy loaded with vital supplies for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

You know, it was the fourth attack in as many days on these supply convoys. The convoys are crucial to the war effort because they carry 80 percent of the supplies needed by U.S. and coalition forces. Supplies like food, water, clothing, vehicles, and fuel.

Now, here's where it is. The supply route begins in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, down here on your screen. The supplies are brought by ship - they're brought there by ship and then loaded onto trucks. The major land route goes up the country to the northwest border town of Torken. You can see it right here.

And then we're going to continue on here to the Khyber Pass and talk about that. Dozens of trucks have been stranded there since Pakistan closed the border crossing at the Khyber Pass last weekThat came after a U.S. air strike mistakenly killed three Pakistani soldiers.

Now, once the trucks enter Afghanistan, they go through the Khyber Pass. They travel to Jalabad, and from there to Kabul and to other destination points. You can see straight here -- straight here. The shortest distance between two points, a straight line. That's why they're using that pass to get over to Kabul.

The other key land route starts also in Karachi and runs through Baluchistan province to the border crossing. And then from there, the trucks enter into Afghan provinces of Helmand and also Kandahar, where most of the estimated 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops are based.

There is also one other supply route by air that we want to tell you about, and that one starts up here in Kyrgyzstan, right? The only U.S. base in central Asia. Weapons, ammunition, and troops are flown from this base to Kabul, Bagram air base, and also to Kandahar as well.

Let's get someone who is on the ground there with some information. Joining us now from Islamabad in Pakistan, the Pakistani capital. It's CNN's Fred Pleitgen. So, Fred, bring us up to date now, up to speed on that convoy attack today, please.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This happened in the very early morning hours of this day, Don. What happened was that several gunmen went up to this convoy, which consisted of about 35 tanker trucks, which had fuel that was bound for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. They opened fire, and 20 of those trucks were set on fire. Also, several people were killed in that incident.

I was on the phone with the Taliban, actually earlier today, and they were telling us that, number one, there's going to be more attacks on convoys, is what they were telling us. And that they'd apparently set up a special hit team to hit more convoys here in Pakistan in retaliation for increased American drone strikes in north Waziristan, where of course, a lot of them are hiding out, Don.

LEMON: That's interesting -- on the phone with the Taliban. You don't hear that very often.

The big question, though: any idea when Pakistan will open the border crossing to Torkum, because it's so important to the troops here?

PLEITGEN: What we're hearing right now is they think they're going to reopen it pretty soon, is the word. They say within about a week.

Right now, those trucks are still actually all stuck there. And I can tell you, we were in Torkum and talking to go truck drivers, and they are absolutely in fear they could get hit by militant attacks. A lot of them -- the truck is pretty much everything they have. They're all private contractors. They're all doing this privately. The truck is all they have. They fear for their lives, fear for the truck.

Right now, they're not sure when they're going to be moving again. What we're hearing from the Pakistani government is it could be any day. Certainly, this is putting a strain on American logistics in Afghanistan. Don.

LEMON: In Islamabad, Pakistan. Fred Pleitgen, thank you, sir.

How about this? Breaking a world record for charity. It's the dream of a 16-year-old kid, and you're going to meet him. Stick around. "Mission Possible" is next.


LEMON: Here's proof that you can do anything when you set your mind to it, no matter how old you are because our next person is a young guy. Every day around this time, we have what we call "Mission Possible," showcasing people who inspire people, who get out there and do things that change their community and the world.

Well, today we've got an amazing kid. I think I can call him a kid. Hope he doesn't get upset by that. He is 16 years old and on a mission to create the world's largest photo mosaic for charity. Alex Darrow joins me right now from Sacramento, California. Sixtenn years old. How did you get this idea for this photo mosaic?

ALEX DARROW, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Well, I wanted to start a project that really represented a large community. Thousands and thousands of people coming together to support a worthy cause. But I also wanted a project that was fun, innovative, and kind of epitomized the global community. And would allow donors to be able to participate. Not just make a monetary donation, but actually join the movement.

That's what happens with Picture of the World. When they submit a photo on our Web site,, they really do join the movement in a visual way. LEMON: Yes. So, it's picture of the world, created for needy children. It's a fundraising platform helping ten different charities for needy children. It's kind of in the vein of Doctors Without Borders, the World Food Program, and all of those things, right?

DARROW: Right.

LEMON: What's your goal here? I hear it's a lot.

DARROW: Yes, well, the number of photos that we need to break the world record is 112,897.


So listen, about the world record -- and I have to read this because I want to show the picture. It's called The Big Picture. It was created in England in 2008. The artist was Helen Marshall. 112,896 photos. That's the world record. And the project came through the Arts Council England, West Midland, supported by the BBC. Can we se that picture now that we've done all that?

Okay. So, that's what we're trying -- that's the record you're trying to break there, right?

DARROW: Right.

LEMON: Yes. OK. You're like -- right. Yes, we're again, we're trying to get that up.

So, listen, you're a high school senior. You want to continue, you told me on the break, to go on and go to college. How do you have time to do this? Most people your age are focusing on school and the task at hand, their SAT scores and all of that. But this is really your focus right now.

DARROW: Right. Well, most other teenagers are focusing on other extracurricular activities. I mean, I just kind of consider this to be my extracurricular activity. Instead of doing basketball, I'm doing this.

I still focus on SAT scores and school. I still enjoy being with friends. I'm not always working as the executive director, you know.

LEMON: And I just want to tell you, The Big Picture is up now, what I was talking about, the record that Alex is trying to meet here with the Picture of the World project.

So, listen -- I think it's a great thing we're doing. How do we get people to help here? How can we get viewers to help, your Web site, to break this record and raise money for these needy kids?

DARROW: Right. Well, I encourage everyone who's watching this video -- if all the CNN viewers watching this right now went to our Web site, and submitted a photo, we would exceed our goal and raise nearly a million most likely for needy children around the world. I mean, it's really easy to submit a photo. All you've got to do is go to our Web site, click on submit your photo, and then just follow the instructions. It takes less than a minute.

LEMON: All right. Alex Darrow - see, that was easy, right? You were a little bit nervous, but it was great, right?

DARROW: It was awesome.


LEMON: Thank you, sir. We appreciate it. Best of luck to you, all right?

DARROW: Thank you. Thank you very much.

LEMON: Go online and do exactly what he said, and then you can help out with Alex's project.

OK. Ed Henry now. From Alex to Ed Henry. Ed is in another part of the studio on another monitor. I feel like we're beaming you in right now.

So, Ed, the bailout's officially expired. So, now what? He's on "The Stakeout." He's going to chart President Obama's next economic move. You never know where Ed Henry's going to show up. He's at the White House now, but he could be anywhere. See you in a second, Ed.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Time now to check in with our senior White House correspondent, Mr. Ed Henry. He is standing by to tell us what's behind the scenes at the White House.

Ed, you know, here's where I get the sense. I get the sense at the White House that -- or with the administration -- that this is, hey, listen, you're going into the junior year now. You've got to crack down for your scores and all that. And that there's going to be more of a transition even, you know, probably lower than Rahm Emanuel, but this -- and a new energy and a new strategy, as you see with this economic talk today.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. I think, when you talk about transitions, you know, a lot of people forget they talk about, boy, there's probably a lot of tired people in the White House behind me. They've been going at it for two years now. They've got to be bone tired.

And what I try to remind them is, actually, a lot of people in the West Wing behind me have been going at it for four years, you know? That presidential campaign is grueling. It's not a six-month affair. It's basically two years.

And so, Rahm Emanuel was not active in the presidential campaign. He was on Capitol Hill. But a lot of people beneath him were very active in that presidential campaign.

So, I think you're right, that after this election, you're going to see serious transitioning going on here, and this is really just the beginning of it. In materials of the economy today, the president is really not coming up with any major new initiatives for the short term. What he's talking about -- you just heard him a few moments ago talking about trying to vastly expand aid to community colleges essentially, pushing support to get more people to go to community college, to build a more highly skilled work force. He's talking about having 5 million more community college graduates between now and 2020.

LEMON: And --

HENRY: That's great long term, but short term, not a lot can be done. And that's a reminder that, you know, Congress is gone already, out campaigning. So, they're not going to pass any more of the president's economic plans between now and November 2nd.

LEMON: Yes. And the first community college summit with Dr. Jill Biden tomorrow at the White House. So, look for that coming up.

I want to get to this, because you mentioned Rahm Emanuel running for mayor of Chicago. So, what's this we're hearing about Ed Rendell possibly winding up as a fulltime replacement?

HENRY: Well, you know, Ed Rendell is the outgoing Pennsylvania governor. And he told "Bloomberg" over the weekend that, look, White House chief of staff is the one job he'd be willing to take. He'd be really excited about taking it.

And I can tell you, there are some people in the building behind me were sort of chuckling about that and saying, oh, really? We didn't really know he was a candidate for that.

And while there are some top Democrats who think, "Look, he could be good, he's very aggressive, he's very tough, the president may need someone like that as chief of staff taking on potentially a Republican Congress" -- there are a lot of people in this building and Democrats around town who say, no, I don't think.

So, Ed Rendell sort of shoots from the hip. He's the first thing to tell you. And in fact, he told that to "Bloomberg" in that interview. And he's a little bit off message probably for this White House and also, he's not in the inner circle, that close knit group of people that the president likes to rely on. So, it's unlikely.

LEMON: Yes, it's a very close knit group, a lot of them are brought from Chicago. It is, as you said, an inner circle.

Ed Henry, thank you, sir. We appreciate.

HENRY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: And time for a update with our senior political editor Mark Preston and our CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser.

A lot of titles here to talk about, to give. They're watching developments from the desk in Washington. OK, guys, go. What do you have for us?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, you're right, a lot of titles. It's a jumbleful (ph) there, Don.

Hey, before we start talking about what's on the ticker, let's talk about what's on Live right now. This is Joe Biden up in Ohio. He's at a fundraiser now for Ted Strickland, the governor, who's in a very tight race. In fact, if look a little bit over -- Reggie, if you can pan over, and see Peter Hanby to our right, is watching this as we talk right now, Don. We'll have a story up on ticker what Joe Biden is saying up in Ohio.

But right now, our first story going on the ticker, Donald Trump, is he running for president? Is he not running for president? Well, our sister publication, "TIME" magazine, reported late last night that, in fact, a poll was taken up in New Hampshire -- New Hampshire voters last month and they tested his name as well as the names of several other Republicans.

What's interesting about this poll is, (a), we don't know who did it. Trump told us earlier today on AMERICAN MORNING that, in fact, he's not the one who conducted the poll. But according to "TIME," 30 questions about Donald Trump were asked on this poll.

So, of course, Donald Trump weighed in a little bit. We asked him if he was interested in running for president. This is what he said, "It's not something I talked about or considered, but somebody has got to do something for this country or it's not going to be a very good country for long." So, he didn't actually rule it out, Don.

So, will Donald Trump run for president? Will he not? Is he seeking publicity or not? Who knows? It's still a very interesting political story.

LEMON: Mark, I've got a question for you.


LEMON: Are you going to let Steinhauser speak today?

PRESTON: Yes, in a second. He's right behind me. He's coming. He's coming right behind me.

LEMON: I've got your back, Steinhauser. I got your back.

PRESTON: Well, he's got a nice back right there. There's a knife somewhere around me.

Hey, one more story before I kick it to the back here. Good news for the Democrats. You know, they raised $16 million last month. The DNC did. They put this news out 20 days before it was supposed to be reported, for all the bad news about Democrats, they had some good news today. And back to Steinhauser.

LEMON: All right. (INAUDIBLE), thank you very much. Go ahead, Paul Steinhauser.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good stuff there from Mark. But one of the things brand new on the CNN Political Ticker, Don, 21 days now until the November 2nd midterm elections.

Reggie, zoom our camera and zoom in right in here.

Brand new CNN Political Ticker this afternoon: the National Republican Congressional Committee, they're going to be spending $4.4 million to run commercials in 45 congressional districts starting this week. And they've really been heating up the ad wars here. The NRCC has been taking kind of an early jump over their Democratic counterpart.

But I spoke to a source who tells me that the Democrats, the DCCC, is going to be spending a lot of money as well, going up in 60 districts, they predict, between now and election day.

So, the ad wars are heating up. Remember, the Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to regain control of the House. Don, that's what we got.

LEMON: Paul Steinhauser, Mark Preston, I know I heard my cell phone ringing. I know you're going to call me and say, what are you doing to me, man? It's all in -- it's all in good fun.

PRESTON: What are you doing to me?

LEMON: Thank you, guys.

And your next update just an hour away here on CNN.

And today's "Wordplay" is all about fair play in the legal system. Sometimes, the best judgment is not to judge at all.


LEMON: OK. I'm not an attorney or lawyer, and I don't play one on television. But I'm going to try today because today's "Wordplay" is by the book, fair and square, 100 percent conflict-free. The word is "recuse."

Don't try it at home. Don't try recusing yourself from the house work. It will lead to a conflict in a hurry. Let me tell you about that.

And in a courthouse, though, it happens when judges step aside from cases that may have an interest -- they may have an interest in or appear to have an interest in. Recuse is in the news because the nation's newest Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan, is recusing herself from a couple of dozen cases that she worked on as solicitor general -- that is the person who oversees government appeals to the highest court in the land.

But do the math here. A nine-member court minus one leaves the possibility of 4-4 ties, which means the last decision from the lower court stands. Justices can tell other judges when they need to recuse and do so just last term -- and did so, I should say, just last term.

You can read about the case in the John Grisham thriller, it's called "The Appeal."

OK? Hope you got all that.

All right. I've got a message for your parents -- some of you may not want to hear it, but believe me, you need to. It's my "XYZ" and it's next.


LEMON: It is time right now for my "XYZ." And this one is dedicated to parents or guardians of young people.

Bullies don't just happen overnight. Your child doesn't one day wake up and one day suddenly decide to tease others to the point of humiliation or hit them. As the old adage says, it starts at home. It starts not only with what you tell your children but how you show them to your actions, how you relate to your spouse, your siblings, your neighbors. Your actions speak as loud as your word.

So, if you argue in front of your kids, cuss out your mate, or the customer service person on the phone or the person who cuts you off in traffic, if you yell at them or berate them -- you know what I'm talking about. Boy, get your butt off my couch. Or, where are you going with that on? You look like a hooker. They think it's OK, even cool to do it too.

All I wanted to do as a child was emulate my parents and other grown- ups. They were so cool, and I just wanted to be like them. And I'm sure my own parents didn't actually think this through as well. It was a different time then.

I heard them argue. I heard them go off on people in traffic. No one is perfect. And believe me -- I love them more than anything.

And full disclosure here, I don't have kids. And truth is that's one reason I don't, they are a huge responsibility and I'm not sure I'm ready to take all that goes with it.

I know what many of you are thinking and saying right now. I can't be with my kids 24 hours a day. That's an excuse. Yes, you can, at least in spirit.

I carry the lessons from my parents with me each and every day. Sometimes, I do the right thing. Sometimes I don't. But mostly, I do because that's what I was taught as a child.

So, no more excuses, parents. If you choose to have children, you must take responsibility for the bad they do along with the good. For the honor roll, the winning touchdown, the home run -- no more excuses. Your kids are your responsibility 24/7.

That's my "XYZ."

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.