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The Public's View of the VP Candidates; VP Debate Outlook; Afghan Women Have a Big Say in Afghan Presidential Election

Aired October 5, 2004 - 14:28   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, now to the music business and some X-rated criticism by singer Elton John. At an awards ceremony in London, he took some four-letter jabs at Madonna.
Let's get the skinny now on the singer's spat from CNN's Brooke Anderson live from Los Angeles. Brooke, of course we've always got a, "What's going on," you know, "What's the scoop? What's wrong with Elton John? He's cussing everybody out."

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's up with Elton? I know, that's the big question. And you know, no one does it better than Elton John when it comes to public tirades, Kyra.

It all went down Monday in London at the Q Awards. Elton John won a songwriting award, but rather than use his time on stage to thank his fans for the honor, he launched into a profanity-laced tirade against Madonna -- Madonna nominated in the category for Best Live Act

Well, Elton made it clear, he strongly feels her live acts are rubbish and she's cheating her fans, because he believes she lip- synchs on stage.


ELTON JOHN, MUSICIAN: Madonna, best (EXPLETIVE DELETED) live act. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off. Since when has lip-synching been live?


ANDERSON: Elton went on to say he's probably not on Madonna's Christmas card list anymore. Madonna did not win her category, by the way. And her spokeswoman responded to the accusations, releasing a statement that says, quote, "Madonna does not lip-synch, nor does she spend her time trashing other artists. She sang every note of her 'Reinvention' tour live and is not ashamed that she was well paid for her hard work. Elton John remains on her Christmas card list, whether he is nice or naughty." Madonna showing a bit of humor there.

By the way, saying she sang every note, not quite true about that. According to industry insiders, pretty common when a singer does as much gymnastic dancing and yoga on stage like Madonna does that a little lip-synching is expected. And Kyra, I spoke to Elton's publicist, she told me she has no response. She also said why should she release a statement, Elton made the statement. PHILLIPS: All right. So, OK, one Christmas card, not another Christmas card -- what's going on with Elton John? He was cussing out the paparazzi in Taiwan, now he's cussing out Madonna. Is he OK? What's the scoop in Hollywood?

ANDERSON: That is what everybody is asking: What's up with Elton? You know, there's been talks: is there drugs; are there other problems in his life?

You know, but you're right, he has had previous escapades. Just last month in a Taiwan airport, he basically went off on the paparazzi, calling them rude, vile pigs and that he would love to get out of Taiwan if the people there were like the photographers.

And there have been other outbursts in the past. He took issue with "American Idol" last year, last season when LaToya London was voted off. He said it was a racial issue and that she was more talented than some of the remaining contestants.

You know, a lot of people have asked me: Is there past history between Elton and Madonna? Bottom line, not that we're aware of. There's no historical significance to this episode. Basically, Elton just likes to speak his mind, let the public know what he's thinking about his other artists.

And Kyra, I'm not encouraging it, but it's pretty funny sometimes.

PHILLIPS: I just hope we never get on his bad list, you know what I'm saying? We won't say anything mean. All right, Brooke...

ANDERSON: Exactly. Elton is a very talented artist.

PHILLIPS: We love Elton.

ANDERSON: Yes, we love Elton John.

PHILLIPS: Brooke Anderson, live from L.A., thanks so much.

We're going to get a quick break. More LIVE FROM right after this.


PHILLIPS: Here's what's happening now in the news.

Off the coast of Ireland, a Canadian sub makes it safely back to surface. The submarine had issued a mayday signal after a fire broke out on board. Three people were slightly injured. That distress call triggered a search-and-rescue operation by the British Ministry of Defense.

The White House is shrugging off recent comments made by former U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer. At least two public appearances, Bremer says the U.S. needed more troops to keep the peace after the invasion. Bremer says the U.S. paid a big price in terms of horrid looting and other chaos.

And just as the flu season nears, top U.S. health officials are warning of a significant shortage of flu shots. This came after the British government suspended the license of a major flu vaccine supplier for three months. The company Chiron is to provide about half of the U.S. vaccine supply.

Well, Americans are focused on their own upcoming election. And tonight, Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards take center stage at their one and only debate. So, how does the public view the vice presidential candidates? For that answer and more, we go to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport, live from Princeton, New Jersey -- Frank?


Indeed, Dick Cheney, not surprisingly, has more negative baggage than John Edwards going into the debate tonight. That's how I would summarize it.

Here's our latest September favorable/unfavorable ratings on the two VP candidates. Dick Cheney over here, 48 favorable, 44 unfavorable -- so, roughly balanced. John Edwards relatively untouched by a lot of negativity, so far -- 56 favorable, 30 unfavorable. So, he goes in with a more positive image. We'll see how he comes out of the debate tonight.

Who's going to win? It's the expectations game, of course, for all these debates. Bush was favored going into the first one; our data show he didn't win. Who's favored tonight? The public splits, Kyra, right down the middle: 40 percent say Cheney, 42 John Edwards. So, no favorite going into tonight's proceedings there in Cleveland.

PHILLIPS: All right. Where do Americans stand on Iraq?

NEWPORT: Well, that's an important question that's clearly been the focus of the first debate. It may come up tonight, of course.

We've seen it change. The question that we've been asking about wars here at Gallup since the Korean War: Was it a mistake to get involved? And the percentage say yes -- it's this bottom line -- right after the Republican convention, it had dropped. Only 38 percent of Americans right here said it was a mistake. In other words, that was more positive about the Iraqi war. Only 38 saying it was a mistake.

But the percent saying it was a mistake has gone up. We're now -- we're at split half and half: 48 say it was a mistake, and 51 percent say not. So, we're kind of back where we were -- America split right down the middle in terms of perceptions of the Iraq war at this point, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, do Americans agree with Kerry's statement during his debate that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks and not Saddam Hussein? NEWPORT: Well, that's the key issue. You know, all these comments by Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, have come into the fore even yesterday and today. It's very political.

This is fascinating. Look carefully. If you're a Republican, 62 percent say, yes, Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. Almost two thirds say yes. But Democrats and Republicans, exactly as many, two thirds say, no, there was no connection.

So, the Republicans -- at least at this point, Kyra -- have bought into the Bush/Cheney and the Republican administration logic that they've advanced over the last year or two that there was a connection.

PHILLIPS: All right. And both candidates at 49 percent among likely voters. Where are all the undecided voters this year?

NEWPORT: They disappeared. This is the first time. This is fascinating. Look at it. Our latest likely voter -- poll of likely voters over the weekend, as you know, 49-49. Nader one, Other -- those would be Constitutional party, Libertarian candidates -- round to one percent.

So, what's left? Nobody! Every single person we talked to, roughly -- there were a few down here, but they didn't even round to one percent -- is making a choice at this point. And this is the first time, Kyra, in a long time that we have had a poll of likely voters where there weren't a least a few percent of people who said they didn't have a choice.

This doesn't mean people won't change their mind, but people are so focused on the race at this point that every single person we talked to was willing to make a choice, at least over the weekend.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thank you so much, Frank Newport.

So, will tonight's vice presidential debate affect the race? Joining me now for a look at what the candidates have to do tonight is CNN contributor and former Republican Congressman Bob Barr and Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.

And Robert, I'll call you Robert instead of Bob for sake of not getting confused. Is that OK?


PHILLIPS: OK, great.

Well, let's -- first of all, I want to ask you both about Bremer's comments, coming forward saying now, post-war Iraq, there really weren't enough troops. Now there's a lot of lawlessness.

The timing is interesting. Is it a political move or not? Robert?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think realistically, Ambassador Bremer was a Bush appointee, and while everyone reads politics at this time of the year, what Ambassador Bremer is saying is truly what many of our military leaders have told the Bush administration, and they chose to ignore it.

General Shinseki pointed out that a much larger troop deployment was required in Iraq, and the Bush administration forced his early retirement. And many of our military officials have also come forward to raise the point that our troops were not properly equipped, properly trained and, as we know all too tragically, this administration never planned for the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's fall. And that has had very severe tragic consequences for our country and the world.

PHILLIPS: Bob, what do you think? Is there a political timing to this. The Pentagon is definitely not very happy about him coming forward right now and saying these things.

BOB BARR (R), FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I really don't think that there's anybody with a straight face, at least, that could claim that Paul Bremer -- as Robert just said, a Republican appointee, somebody very supportive of the U.S. effort in Iraq for the entire time that he was there -- is somehow a plant for the Kerry campaign or is trying to score political points.

I think what we're seeing in the ambassador's comments is a very heartfelt and deep concern shared by a lot of Americans that, while we did a very good job as everybody expected us to do to win the conflict itself, we really did not give the thought and the planning to the post conflict era, and that I thinks weighs very heavy on Ambassador Bremer's mind.

PHILLIPS: So, tonight, Robert, will Iraq dominate this debate?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think Iraq is going to be a very central point. Because you have to remember, Dick Cheney has been at centerpiece of the Iraq strategy. He's the one who claimed we'd be welcomed as liberators. It's Dick Cheney who spread the story that somehow 9/11 and al Qaeda were linked to Saddam Hussein, despite fact that the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee say that's a falsehood.

And Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton -- which he still makes money from -- Halliburton has made record profits while the middle class is being squeezed so severely in our own country.

So, clearly, Dick Cheney's role in this administration and his Iraq policy is going to be a very central focus of the debate tonight.

PHILLIPS: So, we'll probably hear a lot of Halliburton, a lot of the H-word. Do you think Dick Cheney is going to come in and sort of try to steer the conversation away from evading Iraq and maybe rebuilding Iraq and just talk about handling terrorism?

BARR: I think that he clearly will try and do that. It's certainly the administration's strong suit at this point. But I'm really not sure that Kerry will fall into the trap of raising the Halliburton issue, at least directly.

I think he'd be smart to stay away from that, because, one, it has a tendency to be sort of a technical issue. I think it would be very easy for the vice president to deflect that.

Mr. Edwards ought to play to his strengths. He has a very solid grasp of domestic issues. He's a fresh face. I think that he ought to play more to the domestic issues and sort of leave Iraq out there, mentioning it, drawing some attention to it, but not dwelling on it.

PHILLIPS: So, Robert, let's say you went into a room. You're sitting down with John Edwards. How would you advise him to carry on tonight?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, I think on the one hand you've got to be realistic, that Dick Cheney is a very experienced national figure. He's been at centerpiece of Beltway and Washington politics for decades. He's been through vice presidential debates before.

My advice to John Edwards, were he to ask, would be to tell him that this should really be Dick Cheney's rendezvous with his record. It's an important time to focus on the true issues that are really affecting the American people: a record number of Americans without health insurance under the Bush administration; manufacturing depression; and also, of course, to focus on Dick Cheney's very essential role -- his absolutely pivotal role in the Bush White House.

Dick Cheney's problem, of course, is going to be that he's going to have to clean up the mess that George Bush left behind from the first debate. Now we know why George Bush would not appear at 9/11 Commission without Dick Cheney sitting next to him.

PHILLIPS: How would you advise Dick Cheney?

BARR: Well, I would advise Dick Cheney to lighten up. He actually has a very, very good sense of humor. Very somewhat...

PHILLIPS: He's not a charismatic speaker, that's for sure.

BARR: He can be. I've seen him in settings both somewhat hostile as well as very favorable, and he really can be a very charismatic speaker. He has a very good sense of humor. He relates well to audiences if he let's himself do that. Now, that's John Edwards' strength, and I think Dick Cheney, if he's smart, will try to play to that also.

But again, going back to John Edwards, as Robert was just saying, his strength I think is going to be in the domestic arena. And he has a very articulate way of presenting those ideas, whether it's about healthcare, the economy, jobs, certainly ought to be central to what he says tonight. I think that's really what he ought to focus on.

PHILLIPS: Bob Barr, Robert Zimmerman, we'll all be watching tonight.

ZIMMERMAN: Good to be with you, Congressman. BARR: Thank you, Robert.

PHILLIPS: Oh, you guys actually do get along.

BARR: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: All right, very good, even though you have different views now and then. Thanks, guys.

Well, stay with CNN for complete coverage of tonight's VP debate. Primetime programming begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And don't forget. the presidential candidates meet for round two in the presidential debate. CNN will have live coverage from St. Louis, Missouri, also when that takes place.

Quick break, right after -- more LIVE FROM right after a quick break. That's what I wanted to say.

ANNOUNCER: You're watching LIVE FROM on CNN, the most trusted name in news.


PHILLIPS: In Gaza, Israel's largest military offensive in four years continues for the seventh straight day. The mission: to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.

Another rocket strike today. Palestinian sources say a commander of the militant group Islamic Jihad and his assistant were killed in that attack. Three people were wounded.

Earlier today, a teenaged Palestinian girl and a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were also killed in two separate incidents. Palestinian death toll is now nearing 80, and hundreds of people have been wounded.

Palestinians and Israelis are holding meetings, but Israel says they're not official negotiations and Palestinians say they're just preliminary.

In New York, Palestinians are pushing for a quick adoption of a U.N. resolution denouncing the Israeli offensive. The U.S. is threatening to veto it, calling it one sided.

In Afghanistan, people are preparing for the country's first presidential elections. Voters will be heading to the polls on Saturday, but security is already extremely tight. Hundreds of troops, police, and guards -- including special U.S. bodyguards -- are on alert. Despite some violence, the mood is optimistic.


LT. GENERAL DAVID BARNO, U.S. ARMY: I think the troops are doing great. They're excited, and they're fired up about the upcoming election here on the ninth. We've got all the pieces in place that we've been working on for a long time to assist the Afghan people in making this, you know, their historic first presidential election. I think we're in good shape.


PHILLIPS: Afghan President Hamid Karzai hit the campaign trail today. He addressed a crowd of 10,000 people and promised to build a proud, stable, and peaceful Afghanistan.

For the first time since the fall of the Taliban regime three years ago, Afghan women have a big say in this election. Here's CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down a dark corridor to a small election office filled with volunteers, Massouda Jalal is making history as the first-ever Afghan woman to run for president.

MASSOUDA JALAL, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Three years back, I couldn't even dream about being a presidential candidate.

AMANPOUR: With less than a week to the election, this 41-year- old mother of three begs for more TV time, organizes grassroots support, strategizes with her running mate.

JALAL: No fundamental change has been taking place. It's still women are not participating equally in political, social, economical, and cultural life of the country. Still women are not equally participating in the decision-making power. Still Afghan women are not participating equally in the leadership of the country.

AMANPOUR: So, while she's a long shot to win, her candidacy is all about change.

(on camera): Here in the capital Kabul, girls are being educated and women can find work. But in the vast majority of Afghanistan, in the countryside, women still can't even leave their homes without permission from their fathers or their brothers.

Still, a source of hope, according to the U.N., is that 41 percent of the voters they've registered are, in fact, women.

(voice-over): On this busy market street, women are excited about voting and about Massouda.

"She's capable and deserves to be a candidate," says this shopper.

But in this bakery run by war widows, they shriek at the very thought. "At no time could a leader become the leader of our country. Never," says Roya (ph). But these war widows say they'll vote for anyone, except those candidates close to the warlords who kept this country fighting for 25 years.

Woman or man, voters say the winner of these elections will, above all, be the one they believe can keep the peace. Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


PHILLIPS: Quick check of business right after a break.


PHILLIPS: Chiron's stock needs a bit of a booster shot after the company's surprise announcement that it won't supply any flu vaccine this year. Rhonda Schaffler on this story, also. She joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange.

Everyone is talking about this, Rhonda, now you guys.


Well, we're looking at the financial impact for Chiron, because it's significant and it's significant if you hold that stock today. Chiron has dramatically lowered it's profit outlook after halting its flu shipments. It's stock is getting hit hard -- you can see, down 16 percent.

Other flu vaccine distributors are getting a boost, though. Both Aventis and Medimmune rising more than a dollar a share and strong percentages, too.

Chiron had been expected to provide nearly half the U.S. supply of flu shots this season. Now, there's likely to be a significant shortage of the vaccine.

As far as the overall market goes, stocks retreating as oil prices surge yet again. The Dow Industrials working their way toward session lows at this point, off 45 points. Nasdaq is little changed. Crude oil up more than a dollar a barrel, above $51. That means it's at another new all-time high -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right, tell me about this new caffeinated beer?

SCHAFFLER: It's a hard one to sort of get your mind around, isn't it? It's for all those beer lovers who hate to be slowed down, we're told. Anheuser-Busch apparently has a Bud for you. It is pouring out a new fruity-smelling brew called "Be-to-the-E." The "E" stands for extras, things like caffeine and ginseng, to give you a little energy boost.

A can of the "Be-to-the-E" has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. It also packs 22-and-a-half carbs and more than six- and-a-half percent alcohol. Busch is trying to appeal to 20-something drinkers who have taken to flavored vodkas and rums. It hope to have the new brew in stores next month. No word yet on how much it's going to cost you.

She's laughing back there.

PHILLIPS: I keep thinking caffeinated martini. Would that work?

SCHAFFLER: I don't even want to think if it would or not, but we'll leave that thought until tomorrow, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Rhonda Schaffler, we will see you tomorrow.

SCHAFFLER: Bye, bye.

PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

That wraps up this edition of LIVE FROM. Now to take us through the next hour of political headlines is "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS."

Hi, Judy. Oh, do we have the shot? We've got the shot.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Hello again, Kyra. Thanks.

PHILLIPS: I know. I was watching it zoom close, and now you're perfectly framed, Judy.


PHILLIPS: We're good to go.

WOODRUFF: You're looking out after me, Kyra. We've got to watch each other's back. Thanks very much.


WOODRUFF: Yes, I am here in Cleveland, site of tonight's first and only vice presidential debate. Today on "INSIDE POLITICS," I'll preview the showdown with surrogates from both campaigns.

Plus, the students here on campus are pumped-up for tonight's debate. I'll talk with four of them, students from around the country, about what they expect from tonight's debate between Vice President Cheney and Senator John Edwards. "INSIDE POLITICS" begins in just a moment.


PHILLIPS: Talks amid the fighting: Negotiations are said to be taking place on a number of fronts to end a week-long offensive by the Israelis in Gaza. It began in response of rocket attacks on Israel. The violence has killed at least 80 Palestinians, including a leading militant.

Blowing off more steam: Scientists say that could mean a larger eruption is in the offering for Mount St. Helens. It's been venting daily since Friday, and now geologists say new cracks have developed in the lava dome. We're keeping a watch.

A short -- or a shot shortage: Health officials say not everyone is going to be able to get their flu shot when they want it this year. The British government has temporarily suspended the license of the company Chiron that makes half of the vaccine for the U.S. More on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" at 5:00 Eastern.

Now stay tuned -- "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS" starts right now.


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