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The Undecided; Interview With Mike Melvill, Eric Lindbergh; Vioxx Pulled of Market

Aired September 30, 2004 - 9:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is AMERICAN MORNING. Live from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, here's Bill Hemmer.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Good morning. Nine o'clock here in southern Florida. We are live at the University of Miami campus, looking at debate strategies as both sides get ready later tonight.

And good morning, again. I'm Bill Hemmer.

Here the mood in south Florida, an area that played such a huge role in the election of four years ago in the 2000, we'll look at that this hour. Also, Republican Rudy Giuliani is here today, Democrat Madeleine Albright. What they want to hear later tonight and what they believe each man, George Bush and John Kerry, needs to accomplish.

And we'll get to all that this hour.

Also, Heidi Collins, back in New York.

Heidi, good morning there.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you once again, Bill.

Also today, we're going to be talking with Sanjay Gupta, bringing us his series on the health of the president. Today, looking at the hazards of the job, of which there are many. Sanjay is also going to explain why many presidents don't live to the expected age of their time.

Hmm. Not good news there.

But Jack Cafferty is here with more on the debates this morning.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, or, as some people choose to call them, the presidential charade that's going to take place tonight. It's so tightly scripted and choreographed that there's no spontaneity left in these things.

Who has the most to lose? if you want to way in on that. Personally, I'm just hoping there's a train wreck.


COLLINS: I bet they appreciate your support. All right, Jack, thanks a lot. Checking in a moment.

For now, though, we are going to check in with Rick Sanchez, who's got the stories "Now in the News" this morning.

Hi, Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is the one that surprised a lot of people, Heidi, and one that we're going to be following throughout the day. A major announcement expected at this hour from the drug manufacturer Merck. CNN has learned that Merck is planning to voluntarily withdraw its arthritis drug Vioxx. The decision is based on a study that links Vioxx to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients using the drug.

At least one U.S. soldier is among those killed in Baghdad this morning. Suspected insurgents launched at least three attacks throughout the city. At least 45 people were killed. That death toll is expected to rise.

And in Fallujah, American forces are pounding the terror network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. At least three people were killed in the latest U.S. air strikes.

As news of more violence in Iraq emerges, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is discussing security measures in Iraq. Allawi arrived at London's Strategic Studies Institute within the past half-hour. We're told he's going to deliver a keynote speech there in just a couple of minutes.

We'll follow it. Topping Allawi's agenda, by the way, his plans for Iraq's future.

Big debate tonight in Miami, Florida. For an advance, let's go to our colleague Bill Hemmer.

Bill, what you got?

HEMMER: All right, Rick, thanks. Back in your home town, as a matter of fact.

President Bush, John Kerry face off later tonight here in Miami. There are countless opinions about what each man needs to do tonight to win this thing. Earlier today, we talked to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He says Iraq will be the key tonight.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I think that is a major difference between John Kerry and the president. Under John Kerry, Saddam Hussein would still be in charge in Iraq, although he has taken diametrically opposed positions about that.

When the war started he was in favor of it. When Saddam Hussein was removed, he said that the removal and the victory was brilliant.

Now he says he's against that and that was a mistake. We should have left Saddam Hussein there.

I mean, the world is safer because we've removed the pillar of support of Saddam Hussein. The administration that Madeleine Albright served made regime change in Iraq a priority of United States foreign policy. And, I mean, the only difference is, Bill Clinton was in favor of removing Saddam Hussein, George Bush accomplished it.


HEMMER: And now for the Democrats. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, also speaking with us today, says she believes John Kerry's stance on Iraq will help him tonight.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I truly do think that Senator Kerry, with a completely different approach, not this arrogant approach that we have at this moment, where everybody needs to do what we tell them to, I think that will help. But this is a mess, Bill. And it's a mess that has been created by an administration that is not telling us the truth about what is happening on the ground.

There is no sense of reality about the problems. And they have made Iraq the central part of terror, that's for sure, because everybody who hates us is now gathering in Iraq. And it was a place that Saddam Hussein -- I'm glad he's gone, but he was contained.


HEMMER: Madeleine Albright from earlier. Also, Rudy Giuliani. Both campaigns working hard now to swing the undecided voters to their side.

We will meet now this morning here in Florida undecided voters, three of them, in fact, still on the fence going into tonight's debate. Edward Martos is a graduate student in public administration at the University of Miami. Vicky Gordon is director of development and special events at the Jewish community center in Lake Worth, Florida. Also with us today, Tony Di Giacamo is a bartender, freelance writer and a former Marine.

And we say good morning to all three of you.

Tony, start. What do you want to hear tonight?

TONY DI GIACAMO, UNDECIDED VOTER: Well, I'd like to hear more than a specific stand on the various issues, the ability to define a stand. I think with -- with John Kerry, we seem to -- it's almost become a cliche that he's been unable to state anything with conviction and any consistency with his views.

With Bush, I think we have the opposite problem. I think that we have a certain tenacity, as is characterized by his supporters. But from his detractors, a certain obstinance. And I guess at what point that tenacity comes obstinance, I'm not sure where the demarcation line is. But I'd like to see him actually -- I'd like to see the capacity for contrition from Bush, the ability to recognize that you can't hold the line when it becomes apparent to everybody involved that the course of action may or may not be the right thing to do.

And with Kerry, I think I'd like to see an opportunity to hold the line. The exact opposite. I'd like to see an opportunity to define himself and his position on an issue, and stay, I think, within the confines of a position of conviction.

HEMMER: All right. Tony, you're on the record.

Vicky, what about you? What do you want to hear?

VICKY GORDON, UNDECIDED VOTER: I'm looking tonight to hear -- tonight is pivotal. I'm looking tonight to hear concise, clear statesmanship from both of them. I am looking for answers that I might not get tonight, and might take two more debates, but I am looking for the clear, concise answers.

HEMMER: All right, you're on the record now, too.

Edward, you're third. Go ahead.

EDWARD MARTOS, UNDECIDED VOTER: Well, they took the words out of my mouth, Tony and Vicky. I've got to say, though, that I think, first and foremost, from Bush I'm looking for him to explain, you know, that he understands some of the things he did wrong, that he is going to take an approach that is slightly different from what he has been doing. At the same time, though, I think the problems in foreign policy are so great that -- and he created them himself -- that he's the only one capable of solving the problem.

From Kerry, I do want to see some precise answers. I want him to frame everything that he's been saying, provide some answers for accusations that he's been flip-flopping, and I want to see some tenacity. I want him to broaden the discussion away from Iraq. I want him to talk about issues like free trade area of the Americas and North Korea.

HEMMER: All right. You're all three on record right now.

So we did this today. We've been taking notes. And so tomorrow we're going to bring all three of you back and see whether or not your -- your questions have been answered.

Thanks to Edward Martos, Vicky Gordon and Tony Di Giacamo here in Miami. We'll be listening tonight along with you, OK? You've got it. We'll talk to you again tomorrow right around this time.

Later tonight, our coverage starts at 7:00 Eastern. That debate begins at 9:00 Eastern. You'll have it all here throughout the evening. I'll be in Columbus, Ohio, watching more undecided voters.

We will see then, Heidi, how they react to the questions and the answers from John Kerry and George Bush. Back to you now in New York -- Heidi. COLLINS: All right. Sounds great. Thanks, Bill.

Well, call it qualified success for the first leg of the race to make space travel commercially viable. Pilot Mike Melvill got into the experimental SpaceShipOne into space and back yesterday. But first, he proved he had the right stuff when the craft began to roll over and over.

I asked him about it when I spoke with Mike and Eric Lindbergh from the X Prize Foundation.


COLLINS: Mike, take us back to yesterday. Tell us what happened when you were in the air and started spinning like crazy.

MIKE MELVILL, SPACESHIPONE PILOT: Well, it surprised me, I can tell you. It hadn't happened before. And I thought I had everything perfectly under control, and I was climbing very nicely.

And I got to about 180,000 feet and suddenly it started spinning up a little bit. And I wasn't too worried about it because I knew I could stop it once I got out into space.

COLLINS: Tell us a little bit about what that feeling was, though, when it started to spin like that. Physically, how did it feel?

MELVILL: It's a little disorienting, no question about it. And you don't want to be looking out the windows too much because it will -- it will get to you. So you just stare at the instruments and try to fly the thing like you were flying in the clouds in a normal airplane.


MELVILL: But, you know, I've trained for doing -- I trained for doing this. We fly an aerobatic airplane and we do rolls like that all the time. So it didn't really bother me.

COLLINS: Yes. I know there's so much going on in the cockpit when you're trying to fly, and the rudders at your feet, the right and left rudder, is it possible that this could have been what we call a rudder roll?

MELVILL: Yes, it could have been. It's very likely that I stepped a little bit on one of the rudders in my excitement and actually initiated that roll. It was strictly a rudder roll, yes.

COLLINS: All right.

Eric, I want to get over to you if we could now. I know getting the Ansari X Prize is a multistep process. Where do you think you are now after what happened yesterday and the progress that you guys made?

ERIC LINDBERGH, X PRIZE FOUNDATION: Well, Heidi, I think we're halfway there. But it's never over till it's over. And we'll see next week.

COLLINS: What do you guys have to do next? What will be some of the possible improvements or changes that you make?

LINDBERGH: Well, I think the prize is all set and ready to go. Whether or not Mike and Burt can -- can reach that altitude again safely and come back is the real question I think that the rest of the world is waiting on. And that's very exciting.

COLLINS: Are we really going to see commercial space flight?

LINDBERGH: Oh, absolutely. I think, you know, if you look back at my grandfather's flight in 1927, that changed the way people thought about aviation. And what we're doing now is enabling the ordinary person to dream again, and people like Mike to push that envelope and make it possible for the rest of us in the near future to fly into space.


COLLINS: And you may have recognized Eric's last name. His great grandfather is Charles Lindbergh, who made the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight back in 1927. SpaceShipOne scheduled to launch again on Monday.

Let's go ahead check on the weather now. Chad Myers standing by at the CNN Center with the latest forecast.


COLLINS: All right. Thanks, Chad.

Still to come, the price you pay to be president. There's probably no job in the world that's more stressful. But you might be surprised to find out what it does to the president's life expectancy.

And a hugely popular arthritis drug pulled off the market because of a reported link to heart attacks and stroke. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us what you need to know next on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Back to a story we told you about just a little bit earlier here on CNN. The arthritis drug Vioxx being pulled from the market. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us from the CNN Center to put it in perspective for us.

Sanjay, this was voluntarily pulled due to some new research that they gathered.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And a voluntary recall basically means a company says, listen, we've seen some of the data now, we think it's concerning enough where we should actually recommend that this drug no longer be available. The FDA is also going to weigh in on this later on today. Listen, Vioxx is a popular drug, it's a huge drug, $2.5 billion in sales around the world. So this is going to be a pretty big deal for the pharmaceutical industry. The concern about this drug was that it had a link between the medication and heart disease and stroke. The CEO of the company, Raymond Gilmartin, had this to say just a little bit earlier.


RAYMOND GILMARTIN, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, MERCK: We're taking this action because we believe that it best serves the interests of patients. We believe it would have been possible to continue to market Vioxx with labeling that would incorporate this new data. However, given the availability of new -- of alternative therapies and the questions raised by the data, we concluded that a voluntary withdrawal is the responsible course to take.


GUPTA: And you'll remember that recall is going to actually be immediate. Listen, Vioxx, again, was a drug that was approved five years ago. This was a drug that came to fame because they said it's not going to upset your stomach as much.

As early as three years ago, in April of 2002, people started to get concerned about its link to heart disease. And now fast forward three years after that, two years after that, the drug is going to be voluntarily recalled -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Wow. It's pretty astounding news, that's for sure.

Sanjay, want to turn now to presidential health, though. All this week I know you've been reporting on "America's First Patient," his series on health and medical care at the White House. Tell us a little bit more about what you have today, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Yes. You know, if you've ever wondered whether being the American president is the toughest job in the world, there is some considerable evidence.

In the past 150 years, over two-thirds of U.S. presidents failed to reach their average life expectancy for that time period. So why the poor longevity record? Perhaps it has something to do with the stress of the job.


GUPTA (voice-over): In 1952, on the television show "Quiz Kids," presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson asked a group of children if they'd want to be president of the United States.

ADLAI STEVENSON, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now Harvey, how about you? Do you feel as though you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't think -- no, I don't think. Frankly, I don't think so, because the president, he has to have a lot -- like you said, he has a lot of worries.

GUPTA: Harvey may have been on to something, as being president may not only be the toughest job in the world, but also the most stressful. Why?

CAPRICIA MARSHALL, FMR. WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY: The constant demand. And from everyone and everywhere.

GUPTA: Capricia Marshall spent eight years in the White House as social secretary during the Clinton administration.

MARSHALL: It's not just the issues that we're dealing with in our country, or within the White House walls. It's issues that are occurring across the globe.

GUPTA: Many of our leaders were seriously ill while in office. Besides cardiovascular illness and stroke, just in the last century U.S. presidents have suffered from high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, respiratory illness, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, prostate disease, Addison's Disease, Grave's Disease, pneumonia, ileitis and obesity.

Dr. Gerald Post (ph), an expert in political psychology, says the toll of the job can be seen in their faces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pictures of the president and how he ages from the day of inauguration, show a really disproportionate amount of aging in response to that stress.

GUPTA: So, do you still think you want this job?

STEVENSON: Brenda, would you like to be president? And don't you think it's time we...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I haven't quite made up my mind yet.


GUPTA: And that is little Brenda. It might interest Brenda to know, by the way, that little girl you just saw, wherever she might be today, that stress, as we know, is a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and just about every other illness you can think of. In fact, according to presidential scholar Robert Gilbert, during the 20th century six out of seven former presidents died from cardiovascular disease -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Wow. So that brings back to light just a few weeks ago you were talking about Bill Clinton and his cardiovascular illness.

GUPTA: Yes. Well, we know that Mr. Clinton, while healthy as president, he did have his penchants for junk food and a history of high cholesterol as well. But he was also conscious of his family history.

He had a significant family history on his mother's side, and he had recently lost some weight. But stress -- this is an important point -- stress does accumulate in the body, and that chronic stress can activate or weaken certain aspects of the immune system or exacerbate underlying health problems as well. Medical research shows now that stress can be just as important a factor as smoking, alcohol use, or lack of exercise, as well -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And, you know, we've seen the president -- President Bush, I should say, always, you know, exercising. We have tons of video of him doing that. But what happens if the president becomes ill while he is in office?

GUPTA: That's a very good question. And tomorrow we're going to look at that -- that's a good teaser, Heidi. Because tomorrow we're going to look at what we call the worst case scenario. What happens if the president becomes incapacitated?

And you can see the full one-hour special as well, "The First Patient: Health and the Presidency." That's on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Very good. We will certainly be watching. Sanjay, thanks so much.

GUPTA: All right, thanks. Bye-bye.

COLLINS: And back now to Bill once again in Miami -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Heidi. Thanks for that.

Still the battle of the brands later tonight. Think of it as the candidates as two different products. Think of Madison Avenue and some tips for both.

Back in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING. We're live at the University of Miami after this.


HEMMER: Back here live at the University of Miami in Florida. Watching some videotape now. Actually, a live picture, excuse me. Marine One landing in Stuart, Florida, which is north of Miami.

The president arriving there, set to go on yet another tour of hurricane damage. This time from Jeanne from over the weekend. The president has been here so often in the past six months because of the hurricanes, and Stuart, Florida, is an area that was hit not only hard by Jeanne but also by Frances two weeks prior to that. So the president, again, continues in Florida today, after arriving yesterday afternoon.

Back to Heidi now in New York -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, all four of them. Going to be interesting to see if that comes up at all in the debates tonight.

Jack Cafferty joining us now. CAFFERTY: It will be interesting to see, too, how the election turns out in Florida in light of all that damage.


CAFFERTY: And, you know, people that have gone through all those storms.

Anyway, the presidential charade gets under way tonight in Miami. The first of a series of charades.

No do-overs. Screw up and it's in the books forever. Until the end of time you'll be known as the moron who blew it when the chips were down. Not exactly winner take all, but it's close.

Which candidate has more to lose tonight is the question.

Loretta in Bismarck, North Dakota, "I think George Bush has a lot more to lose, and will, unless he faces the reality of Iraq. Things are not improving as he says, they are getting worse. And he needs to start telling the truth."

David in Greenville, Texas, "The American public has the most to lose. We'll be getting a predetermined, canned, fiber-filled dose of topics. Where's the beef? With all the restrictions and choreography, it might as well be a night at the opera, with no drama or plot."

Casey in Hinton, West Virginia, "Neither candidate will lose as much as the American people. When the media is censored for what they can and cannot show, the questions and answers are written like a movie script. We might as well get some advice from China, a country with lots of experience in this sort of political staging."

And on the topic of John Kerry's blunder yesterday in that interview, W. from Bartow, Florida, wrote this: "John Kerry has the most to lose tonight. His next employer will require him to know that 1:20 p.m. is in the middle of the day, not late at night when he decides to have another inarticulate moment."

COLLINS: Oh, p.m., a.m., you know, a little confusing at times. All right.

CAFFERTY: Yes, it's tough. After the age of -- before you're two it's tough. After that, you tend to get it. Daylight, darkness.

COLLINS: Yes, you know. All right, Jack, thanks a whole lot for that.

Now I want to give it back to Bill at the University of Miami for day one, shall we say, of the debates -- Bill.

HEMMER: Yes, indeed. You're right about that, Heidi.

Very interesting to see, too, later tonight how the networks play this. You know, the campaigns sent out the rules, but the networks are saying we don't have to play by those rules. So -- and watch a key warning light. An indicator is supposed to go off.

The Bush folks worry that John Kerry spoke too long. But we don't know if that will be shown on TV tonight or not. So a lot of suspense in that later.

Also, in a moment here, live in Florida, we'll get you back to the whole issue of what's happening in Florida on the aftermath of the hurricanes, et cetera. And later tonight, our prime-time coverage starts at 7:00 with Anderson. Paula and Wolf start at 8:00. The debate begins at 9:00.

Back in a moment in Florida.



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