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THE SITUATION ROOM
Palin Not Going Away Quietly; Rescue Work in Haiti; Obama Wants to 'Hit the Ground Runnning'
Aired November 8, 2008 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Barack Obama and the transition to power. We're in Chicago where the President-elect and his family are hunkered down this weekend spending a little time together. Sarah Palin's not going quietly. She answers her critics with tough words of her own.
And a race against time in Haiti amid all the death, two uninjured children pulled from the rubble of a collapsed school.
Hello again everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. President-elect Barack Obama says he plans to hit the ground running on Inauguration Day. He talked about it in this week's Democratic radio address today. Obama is spending the weekend at home in Chicago. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is live from the CNN Election Express. There it is parked behind you. What's going on?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORESPONDENT: Well, Fred, Barack Obama spending some well-deserved time with his family, his wife, Michelle, his daughters, Sasha and Malia at their house. He also delivered the Democratic radio address. And of course his transition team continues to work on those key cabinet positions that may roll out sometime next week. We saw Barack Obama earlier this week yesterday meeting with his economic advisers, about 17 really heavy hitters in the economic world. He talked about his own situation, his own plan, $175 billion economic stimulus package that he is trying to push Congress to pass before he becomes president. But he also said if that doesn't happen that he will certainly urge Congress to do that when he does become president.
But what was interesting yesterday about his first press conference is that he really did try to emphasize he is not yet the president. There is very little he can do right now in the 70-something days to fix a lot of things. But he's certainly preparing to do so. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT ELECT: The United States has only one government and one president at a time. And until January 20th of next year, that government is the current administration. I've spoken to President Bush. I appreciate his commitment to ensuring that his economic policy team keeps us fully informed as developments unfold and I'm also thankful for his invitation to the White House. Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on, by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hard-working families and restore growth and prosperity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And, Fred, obviously some of the things that the transition team is looking at, that they're working on is members of the cabinet, there are some names that have been coming up, that have been bounced around for some key positions including national adviser, perhaps David Axelrod, his chief strategist of the campaign, a true loyalist. Also Robert Gibbs, who is the communications director of the campaign, perhaps press secretary. And the critical position they're looking at as well is Treasury Secretary, who might fill that very important role, a number of people on his advisory committee already that he is looking at. Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. We know that filling the cabinet is going to take a little bit of time. We know that Monday he's going to be with the Bush family at the White House. What else might be on his agenda?
MALVEAUX: Monday is really going to be an interesting day to watch, Fred. Because we're actually going to see Barack Obama and Michelle with President Bush as well as Laura Bush, the first lady, at the White House. They're going to get a tour of the residence. And we're told that Barack Obama and President Bush will sit down and they're going to talk about those serious issues that have been kind of glossed over. They're going to talk about the war in Iraq; they're going to talk about the financial crisis. And Obama said that he believed this is not going to be a contentious meeting here, that he was going to listen. That these two are going to sit down. Obviously, this is after 21 months of Barack Obama essentially bashing President Bush and all the policies and making the centerpiece of his campaign that his administration is going to be very different than what we've seen the last eight years. So it will be really fascinating to see these two men come together across the table and discuss very serious issues. And of course, the main thing is to make that transition go as smoothly as possible in the next 70 or so days, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And Suzanne back-to-back tour, I imagine, will it be a very private one, perhaps only the White House photographer that is around them or might there be a pool camera that would be along with them?
MALVEAUX: It will be interesting to see how they manage that, especially since we had those reports last week about Barney the dog biting a reporter that tried to get too close.
WHITFIELD: That's right. He's not so happy leaving the White House.
MALVEAUX: And the girls will have a new dog. So we'll see how welcoming they are.
WHITFIELD: Right. OK. Keep the dog locked up, I guess. All right. Thanks so much, Suzanne, in Chicago. I'm a big animal lover, but I get it. MALVEAUX: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Palin post-election and unleashed? Mad and not going to take it anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: That's cruel. It's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It's not fair and not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Just some of the remarks Sarah Palin made to our Gary Tuchman. See his full report from Alaska at the bottom of the hour.
All right. Two more banks have gone belly up, the 18th and 19th this year. The FDIC seizing Texas-based Franklin Bank and California's Security Pacific Bank. Regulators say customers will be able to access their money as usual. The two banks' deposits are being acquired by local competitors.
A race against time in Haiti. Rescue workers are frantically digging through the rubble of a collapsed school searching for children buried under the debris. There are 82 confirmed deaths. Officials fear that number will climb as the search continues. Joining us now by phone from Port-au-Prince, Isabel Mouniaman Nara, she has got the Doctors without Borders mission there. What are you able to see in terms of the most urgent need right now?
VOICE OF ISABELLE MOUNIAMAN NARA, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDES: I think one of the most urgent need is to continue the rescue operation. Early this morning, the rescue workers rescued three kids, not injured. The rescue team needs more support and some materials to try to continue to find more alive children under the rubble.
WHITFIELD: For those who witnessed those three children uninjured that were rescued under all that rubble, what do you understand them to have seen? How were these children located, et cetera? What kind of details do you know?
MOUNIAMAN NARA: I don't know exactly because I was - I left the scene when the children were rescued. But apparently they were under four blocks in a tunnel cave. They were alive 24 hours afterward.
WHITFIELD: Are you worried about what's left in terms of daylight, you know, how you and other emergency responders can try to get to any other potentially -- potential survivors who are alive, given that you only have a few more hours of daylight?
MOUNIAMAN NARA: Yes, you're right. There's only two hours of daylight. But I think they are going to receive some material and try to light the scene because they start to work tonight with lights. Everybody had a lot of hope now because they already found three survivors. They hope to find more. It's the big hope now.
WHITFIELD: Are there enough emergency responders in your view there? I know a lot of the local people have been quick to respond using their bare hands to try and dig through the rubble. But I also know that this is a country where it's difficult to get some sort of assistance in.
MOUNIAMAN NARA: Yes, but the main support is done by the French protection team. And they're going to receive some support. The local people - the population is taking care of their (inaudible) and quite secure. I think it's only now, it's only with the professional people working on the site. We have a team from the international Red Cross, the Haitian Red Cross, transporting the patients to the hospital and to the other hospitals in town.
WHITFIELD: Isabelle Mouniaman Nara with Doctors without Borders, thanks so much for your time there from Haiti. And we wish you all the best in the continued rescue efforts and search efforts.
MOUNIAMAN NARA: Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Not far away, Cuba. And that country is bracing itself now for this Hurricane Paloma. Dangerous category 4 storm. The Cayman Islands endured hours of heavy rains at 140-miles- per-hour winds. Homes have been damaged and some trees and power lines have also been down. And some low-lying areas are now flooded. But so far, it appears no one's been killed or seriously injured. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is tracking Paloma from the CNN weather center. And this is definitely packing a very powerful punch this late in the storm season.
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It really is. Many folks think that hurricane season ends at the beginning of November. But, no, it ends at the end of November. And we are seeing even stronger winds now associated with Hurricane Paloma. It is a category 4. But the winds when we last reported it were at 140 miles an hour. Right now, winds supporting this at 145 miles an hour. And it's just hours from making landfall right around Santa Cruz del Sur in Cuba, now that's right along the southeast, the south central coat of Cuba.
In its wake, we're anticipating anywhere between five, 10 inches of rainfall. Could see some heavier amounts, as much as 20 inches. Now, in areas like this where the terrain is fairly fragile, we could see mud and landslides. Then what we anticipate will happen, it will move into the old Bahama channel. And weaken considerably. And it looks like it's going to take days for this to really whine down. But the last time we saw such a significant hurricane in the Caribbean was back in 1999. It was called Wayward Lenny.
Now Lenny packed a punch, was even stronger than Paloma is. As I mentioned, latest indications from the National Hurricane Center, 145 miles an hour. But Lenny, 1999, 150 miles an hour. This is expected to continue its movement towards the northeast right over Cuba and then weaken very considerably into a perhaps tropical low or tropical depression. But it does look like some of those central and southeastern portions of the Bahamas are looking at significant rainfall.
And right now, there are tropical storm warnings out for much of the Bahamas and into the Turks and Caicos. And we could see some brief but heavy rainfall maybe right along this western coast of Haiti. But we'll keep you updated on that. Another update coming up in the next hour.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks, Karen. We'll check back with you. Appreciate it.
All right. We're combing for clues and praying for closure. Hundreds of volunteers in central Florida are searching for a missing toddler.
And oops, Barack Obama says "I'm sorry" to Nancy Reagan. The quip that has him making this apology.
WHITFIELD: This story still is just so sad. Makes your heart stop. We understand that hundreds of volunteers have turned out today to search the woods and the brush near Caylee Anthony's Orlando home. The little girl has been missing since June. She's only two. Her mother, Casey Anthony, is charged with murder. Reporter Sean Lavin from our affiliate WFTV has more.
SEAN LAVIN, WFTV REPORTER: The smaller than expected army of more than 1100 volunteers gathered for a briefing around 9:00 a.m. before breaking into teams and starting their search for Caylee's remains.
LYNDA PARSONS, VOLUNTEER: I think it's time for closure for the family. And I really think it's time for us to find her.
LAVIN: The search started later than expected but organizers eventually spread out and started searching wooded areas near Blanchard Park and also open fields near the command post.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's spread out so we can do the whole line from the water to the water.
LAVIN: Some searchers found clothing but so far no skeleton that could solve the mystery of what Casey did with her daughter.
LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: If you really want to delve into the mind of Casey, you'd have to dig real deep into a shrink's ugly book because she's an ugly-minded little person.
LAVIN: Bounty Hunter Leonard Padilla returned to Florida for the search. Now he's attacking the mother he once defended for causing pain for so many people across the country like Cathy Peters who came all the way from Georgia with members from (inaudible) blog hoping to find the beautiful brown eyed little girl.
CATHY PETERS, VOLUNTEER: She's in heaven and she just needs to be brought home to be buried. Just let her have her funeral. All these people that loved Caylee, just let the tears stop.
WHITFIELD: Well, Casey Anthony says she's innocent of murder and other charges in the disappearance of her daughter. She remains in jail without bond.
And a especially shocking double-murder case in Arizona. Police say the killer is just eight years old.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's take a look at news across America. A lot of questions surrounding the legal fate of an eight-year-old boy charged with murder in St. Johns, Arizona. Police say the boy shot and killed his father and his father's friend earlier this week. They call the killings premeditated and want the boy tried as an adult. But the St. Johns police chief admits a judge is unlikely to do that. He says police are investigating the possibility the boy was abused. Right now, the child is in custody undergoing a psychological evaluation.
And a nurse at a hospital in Boulder, Colorado, is accused of stealing vials of painkiller and replacing the drugs with a salt water solution. The hospital launched an investigation when patients started complaining that they were in pain during surgery. The nurse has been fired. It's unclear if that nurse will face criminal charges.
And finally, this is unbelievable. Saved by the ball. A Detroit teenager was caught in the crossfire of a freeway shooting. A bullet actually pierced his car but instead of hitting him, it hit a bowling ball that happened to be sitting right on his lap. Boy, is he lucky.
All right. Life after breast cancer. CNN's Judy Fortin shows us an exercise program that has women moving on.
JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We all know how important it is to exercise to stay healthy. But what about exercising after you've already become ill?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go.
FORTIN: In the case of breast cancer, it now seems it might be one of the things that could keep future cancer at bay.
DR. RUTH O'REGAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: There is data showing that if you exercise for 30 minutes a day and also increase fruit and vegetable intake, that, for some reason, we don't completely understand why, reduces the risk of patients having a recurrence from breast cancer.
FORTIN: But what we do know is that exercise has proven to make life as a survivor more enjoyable. Which is exactly what Martha Eddy wanted to do when she designed moving on aerobics. MARTHA EDDY, DIRECTOR, MOVING ON AEROBICS: Moving on Aerobics it's a dance exercise program designed for women with breast cancer. And it is about a 45 to one-hour workout that includes all kinds of different exercises that are particularly helped to people who have been through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
FORTIN: The program is structured just like any other gym class. It's just the clientele that sets it apart.
EDDY: This particular program is an aerobic program with a warm-up using breath, range of motion, relaxation of injured and scar tissue areas. But also gentle swaying and swinging.
FORTIN: Around for almost 10 years, Moving on Aerobics has given cancer survivors something they never thought they'd get back - some peace of mind.
CATHERINE GROOS, BREAST CANCER & EXERCICE: I've gone back more to the way that I used to be, which is to have flexibility, to be free, to express myself, to try to overcome the anxiety and the fear which accompanies one who has experienced breast cancer.
FORTIN: Make sure you check with your doctors before starting a workout program. Then once they sign off, tell those couch potato days good-bye because you're moving on. Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: Sarah Palin off the campaign trail and on the defensive in a new interview. Who is she calling jerks and stinkers?
WHITFIELD: Bottom of the hour, happening right now, rescue workers have pulled two children from the rubble of a school building that collapsed in Haiti yesterday. Remarkably, they were unhurt. At least 82 deaths are confirmed so far and more than 100 people have been injured.
An extremely dangerous hurricane could hit Cuba as early as tonight. Hurricane Paloma is a category 4 storm. It damaged buildings, flooded fields and caused power outages in the Cayman Islands. About 100 people had to flee a shelter after the roof caved in.
All right. The next big step in Barack Obama's transition to power, a trip to the White House and meetings with President Bush. Here's CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George Bush will come together Monday for the start of a time-honored tradition of American Democracy, the transfer of presidential power. This year, it is steeped in history. The first transition post-9/11. The first African-American President- elect. PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It will be a stirring sight to watch President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their beautiful girls step through the doors of the White House. I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this awe- inspiring moment that so many have waited so long.
QUIJANO: Just as George Bush did with Bill Clinton in 2000.
BUSH: I am humbled and honored and I can't thank the president enough for his hospitality. He didn't need to do this.
QUIJANO: The incoming president will have a chance to seek advice from his predecessor. This time as President Bush sits down with President-elect Obama in the Oval Office, the two will have a full agenda.
BUSH: We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in. We're in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us, and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The two leaders will also have the delicate task of balancing decision-making and consultation in the coming weeks. As President-elect Obama's views come into sharper focus.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And it's more complicated this time than ever before because we have an economic crisis on our hands and he may be called upon to make decisions about priorities and about policies during the transition.
QUIJANO (on camera): Monday's meeting will also allow the current and future first ladies to meet as their spouses confer in the Oval Office. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama will tour the private residence, a chance for Mrs. Obama to get a closer look at the place that will become home for the Obama family.
Elaine Quijano, CNN, the White House.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Meantime, President- elect Obama is apologizing for something he said during his news conference yesterday. It was an attempt at humor while Obama was talking about former presidents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: In terms of speaking to former presidents, I have spoken to all of them that are living -- obviously, President Clinton.
OBAMA: I didn't want to get in to a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. Well, Obama was apparently referring to reports that Mrs. Reagan consulted an astrologer while her husband was president. The Obama transition team concedes the remark was careless and off-handed. And aide says Obama did call Mrs. Reagan to apologize and reports the two actually had a very warm conversation.
OK. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is off the campaign trail, but not out of the spotlight just yet. The former Republican vice presidential nominee talked with CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sarah Palin was greeted by reporters when she entered the governor's office and then her staff, as she came back for the first time since the end of the presidential campaign. She is now back to the routine that was disrupted when John McCain picked her as his vice presidential nominee.
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: I'll tell you, this is the best job in the world -- is being the governor.
TUCHMAN: When she arrived back in Alaska Wednesday night, Sarah Palin had started hearing about charges from unnamed McCain staffers that she didn't know what countries are part of NAFTA, that she didn't know Africa was a continent.
(on camera): Well, there's no question that they did put their names forward. And most -- I think a lot of Americans consider that cowardly, there's no question about it.
PALIN: Yes, I do. I consider it cowardly.
TUCHMAN: So, regarding these allegations which I don't think -- my colleagues didn't make it up. They heard it from people who said, "You can't use our name," regarding these geography things about Africa and NAFTA. Are they not true? Are they misinterpreted?
PALIN: No, it's not true. And I do remember having a discussion about NAFTA as we talked about Alaska's relationship with Canada and how -- heaven forbid we go in and just unilaterally think that we're going to renegotiate NAFTA as it appeared that Barack Obama, his position was, yes, he wanted to renegotiate.
I remember having a discussion with a couple of debate preppers. So, if it came from one of those debate preppers, you know, that's curious. But having ad discussion about NAFTA, not, "Oh, my goodness, I don't know who's a part of NAFTA."
So, no, I think that if there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA and about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. And that is -- that's cruel. It's mean-spirited. It's immature. It's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It's not fair and not right.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The governor also addressed the controversy over the purchase of $150,000 worth of clothes.
PALIN: The RNC purchased clothes. Those are the RNC's clothes. They're not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy anything. I never asked for anything more than maybe a Diet Dr. Pepper once in a while.
TUCHMAN: Palin says she experienced the type of sexism on the campaign trail she hadn't felt before.
PALIN: You see a quality in Alaska. And so, that's a good question, because I think that was a bit of a surprise on a national level. Wait, you mean the other 49 states aren't quite there like Alaskans are? Well, come on, follow Alaska's lead and start allowing the equal opportunities and the equal treatment.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Sarah Palin was also critical of the news media during our conversation. But I said to her, "Sure, some mistakes are made, but overall, don't you think most of the coverage was fair?" And she acknowledged it was but did say, quote, "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch."
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Anchorage, Alaska.
WHITFIELD: All right. On to California now, outrage over the apparent passage of a same-sex marriage ban. Thousands of protestors marched in San Francisco and Long Beach last night. Several people were arrested at the Long Beach protest. Another rally is planned actually for tonight in Los Angeles. Legal analysts say it's unclear whether same-sex weddings that took place before the ban will still be value valid.
The new administration and the nation's children, a lifelong advocate for children speaks out on presidential priorities.
WHITFIELD: All right. Democratic leaders today called on the Bush administration to bail out the nation's automakers. This comes as vehicle sales plunged, triggering job and benefits cuts.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin is in Michigan talking with retired autoworkers.
FRED WEIR, GM RETIREE: Fred B. Weir, 45.8 years of service.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fred Weir's career at General Motors spanned nearly five decades. His hands, evidence of his hard work.
(on camera): These hands have built so many cars you can't remember.
WEIR: Yes, I can't remember.
BALDWIN (voice-over): This 67-year-old took a buyout and retired last July. Through the years, he says G.M. burned through billions with Rick Wagoner at the helm.
WEIR: Now, it's his responsibility as the head of the G.M. family to pull back on the reins and when his arms get tired, pull harder, and do whatever he has to do to save that company.
BALDWIN: Friday: Ford and G.M. announced third quarter losses in the billions and plans to reduce their workforce all in an effort to shore up cash and survive this crippling economy. Employees leaving G.M. that evening appeared unfazed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody seems to be fine in there. And we'll just play it by ear.
BALDWIN: Do you have faith in the American automotive industry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
OBAMA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: The same afternoon, Barack Obama held his first press conference as president-elect. He addressed the hardships facing automakers today.
OBAMA: The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted.
WEIR: But he's got a big, big job ahead of him. And I don't think it could be done in one term.
BALDWIN: This G.M. retiree says, the only solution to survival, a quick cash infusion from the federal government. When should that happen?
WEIR: If you're going to save it, you've got to step in now. If you're not going to save it, tell them now. Don't keep them hanging because they can't hang for long.
BALDWIN: If one of the big three does go under, Weir predicts the rest of the nation is next.
WEIR: The auto industry is the heart. You could have a lot of veins, but if the heart stops pumping, you're just gone.
BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Warren, Michigan.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: All right. Now that Barack Obama is the president-elect, a lot of people are telling him, in fact, kind of suggesting to him, what they think he should do first. Among them, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children's Defense Fund, I talked with her this week about what she sees as critical needs for America's children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, EARLIER)
WHITFIELD: What does this presidency symbolize for you, and perhaps, for our parents, our grandparents, generation, this might be coming full circle after so many sacrifice, so much dreaming -- and now, this younger generation, perhaps, it symbolizes something different?
MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND: Well, I think it symbolizes new energy, forward direction, a unity that we have been so longing for for so long, and a chance to reset American's moral and economic compass and the chance to change our misguided investment priorities to give every child a level playing field from birth.
This administration now has an enormous opportunity to start off the year with guaranteeing healthcare to every child in America and every mother prenatal care. The State Children's Health Insurance Program has to be reauthorized but we don't -- we can go beyond it. The president-elect has committed to providing healthcare for all children.
I have three sons. I wouldn't think of just giving one of them healthcare or two of them healthcare. This is the chance now to sort of put into play a chance for every child in 2009 to be guaranteed universal health coverage with comprehensive benefits, regardless of where they live in America. And this is what I hope we will start off with in the beginning of the new year.
WHITFIELD: And these are huge numbers -- and these are huge numbers that we're talking about, 9 million American children that are uninsured, 45 million uninsured Americans as a whole. You're hoping that these are going to be the top priorities that this president- elect addresses right away?
EDELMAN: Well, I hope that all Americans will get healthcare in the first term, and even earlier. But I hope that every child, you know, will get healthcare, all 9 million, and pregnant women will get healthcare in 2009 and that we will not have a piecemeal approach that leaves many millions out.
And so, this is the chance for the new president, the new Congress, to show they can make a significant down payment. But children can't wait. And all of them need to get healthcare. And all of their lives are of equal value. So, I hope this will be one major step forward in 2009, all children -- comprehensive benefits. And then I...
WHITFIELD: You -- go ahead. Sorry.
EDELMAN: Go ahead. No, no, no. WHITFIELD: OK. So, you have invested in children for a long time through the Children's Defense Fund and so many other efforts. If the president-elect were to consult upon you, were to tap you, would you want to work in his cabinet as he's working on his transition team or would you want to work with this presidency in some other capacity while at the same time sticking with the Children's Defense Fund?
EDELMAN: Oh, I will stay with the Children's Defense Fund because while I'm so proud of this new president and so proud of America, we need to build a strong citizens' movement to really enable him and the new Congress to achieve what they want to achieve. And so, I will never go inside government.
But I do hope that every citizen will step up to the plate, make sure that there's a strong, unwavering voice for investment and quality, early childhood education and healthcare for every child, and ending child poverty in this rich nation, and in seeing that every child gets a first-class education. We cannot live with the fact that a child drops out of school every 10 seconds and 80 percent of our black and Hispanic children are not able to read at grade level in 4th, 8th and 12th Grade and that there's a growing problem of a cradle to prison pipeline that sending some of our children to prison.
So, this is a chance for us to really achieve new goals in our policies, new goals in our investment priorities. But that's going to require all of us stepping up to the plate to support our new president and these goals.
WHITFIELD: Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.
EDELMAN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. For more on the transition to power, CNN has a special edition of "CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL." Campbell looks at the defining moments from this historic election, that's tonight at 8:00 o'clock Eastern on CNN.
And, of course, the NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour. But with Don Lemon.
What you got?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Fredricka. Good to see you. Well, you know, Chicago, I just got back.
WHITFIELD: Yes, your old stomping ground.
LEMON: Three hours of sleep the whole week, and I might didn't get out of bed today experience (ph). I have a little gift for you. But first, I want to show -- there are two things, a return to Chicago and this is the most sought-after newspaper in the country. This is the "Chicago Tribune" on Wednesday morning after.
LEMON: And this one, which I think is really beautiful, right?
LEMON: Is the cover of the "Chicago Sun Times."
LEMON: So, I have to go and give this to my parents.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And so, maybe...
LEMON: That one is yours.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's one mine?
LEMON: Yes. Congratulations.
WHITFIELD: Oh, thank you. It would go with my "New York Times" cover.
LEMON: Yes, I hear...
WHITFIELD: There's so many, you know, "Washington Post," the "New York Times," all these great national papers, people want to hold on to it just for historical relevance.
LEMON: Well, it's good, too, because of circulation, too, Fred, because, you know, newspaper circulation is down, the numbers are down, and that's actually helping them to -- it's boosting their bottom line. And we're going to have more about that...
WHITFIELD: And, oh, boy, and the newspapers need it.
More of our special coverage tonight at 5:00 and 11:00 Eastern here in the CNN NEWSROOM, including, check this out -- you don't want to miss this, my exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Barack Obama on Election Day. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What did you think of this game? You're the pro. You're the trainer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to pass the ball a little bit more.
LEMON: Was he hogging?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was hogging the ball.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER)
LEMON: He was hogging the ball.
WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE) in the court.
LEMON: But we can't show you what -- well, we're going to show you at 5:00 and 11:00.
WHITFIELD: Don't tell me you dribbled a little bit because I know you done it.
LEMON: No, no, I can't play. But, we have Barack Obama...
WHITFIELD: OK. You're on the court before.
LEMON: ... playing basketball with his buds.
LEMON: And there were teams.
WHITFIELD: Oh, no.
LEMON: So, there were two teams that were playing basketball. One is a little joke from the campaign trail. It says "That one," remember that one from the debate.
WHITFIELD: That one, that's hilarious.
LEMON: I mean, you actually have this better, right?
WHITFIELD: That's good.
LEMON: So, he gave this. And this one is the other team, was the white team, and it was this one, right?
LEMON: Oh, I can't get it right.
LEMON: So, anyway, this one.
WHITFIELD: That's good.
LEMON: So, anyway -- but it's amazing video of Barack Obama playing basketball, all of his buddies, Hill Harper, the actor, some of great friends, Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania.
WHITFIELD: Oh, wonderful.
LEMON: And we talked to all of those people, and then also, we spoke to his transition team as well -- people who are going to be taking over for him or helping with the next administration. WHITFIELD: Yes.
LEMON: We have exclusive one-on-one interviews with them as well.
WHITFIELD: How wonderful and how meaningful because it's all about tradition and routine, got to play ball before the numbers came in and he did.
LEMON: You want this one, too?
WHITFIELD: That's cool. You got an extra copy, you know.
LEMON: They're selling for -- they're selling like hotcakes on the Internet. Because I love you, Fred, and you know your dad is my hero.
WHITFIELD: That's cool. Oh, you're so sweet.
LEMON: I will give that to you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you very much.
LEMON: That's for your dad.
WHITFIELD: Add to the stack.
LEMON: That's from now.
WHITFIELD: That's for pop. All right. We'll look forward to seeing you at the top of the hour. And again, at 10:00 o'clock, Don Lemon.
WHITFIELD: Oh, 11:00.
LEMON: Eleven Eastern.
WHITFIELD: Opps. That's right.
LEMON: Remember D.L., the other D.L?
WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE) I got to get used to.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's funny. You know, I never thought about that, you are the D.L. and he is D.L., too. Get it. I'm a little slow, little slow.
WHITFIELD: All right. Cyber crimes -- let's move on -- the hacking operation that targeted both presidential candidates.
WHITFIELD: All right. It is indeed that time of year when America honors its military veterans. Veterans Day is Tuesday. But all weekend long, we're bringing you poignant stories of service and, at times, suffering. As part of our "Veterans in Focus" series, photojournalist Bethany Swain introduces us to a 26-year veteran living with ALS, a disease linked to military service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS CUDDY, VETERAN WITH ALS: My name is Tom Cuddy.
This job takes two hands.
I'm a sufferer of ALS. This is a disease where one day you wake up and you can walk and the next day you can't. And once you lose it, you never get it back. It's known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which means we've known about it since at least the '30s.
LOU GEHRIG, HALL OF FAMER ATHLETE: Today is the day I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
CUDDY: And nobody's done anything about it. When I heard I had Lou Gehrig's disease, I thought, it was like polio. Didn't we cure that in World War II? I was diagnosed with it on February, on Valentine's Day. I was hoping for chocolates, I take what I get.
There have been recent studies that have proven that if you're a veteran, your chances for developing ALS are double that of anybody else. Recently, the V.A. agreed to count ALS as service-connected for all veterans regardless of when you served.
I applied for the paperwork in March. This is one of several. I've been told it can take up to a year for them to make a determination on what they're going to do.
Meanwhile, I've been progressing. Several times, I've fallen and landed on my face. People lose the ability to talk. You can't tell your children you love them. I'm slowly being trapped in my own body. It is scary.
What I do all day long is I tell myself, in six months, I will probably be in much worse condition, and in six months, I would give anything to be where I am today. So today, I'm happy with what I have. Most days, I can't open jars.
We have such a short life span that a soldier who was diagnosed today could be gone in less than two years. With the number of people that we've brought on since we started the war on terrorism, I mean, the numbers for people living and dying with ALS could just triple.
The way we are in the military, if you show us an enemy, we'll defeat it. And every American that wears a uniform feels that way. It's really hard to identify what you're fighting. I'm just fighting to stay alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And many veterans just like him are sharing their stories with us. You can read all about them at CNN.com/specials, click on the Veterans.in.focus tab.
WHITFIELD: This is a remarkable story. A Canadian television reporter is free four weeks after she was abducted in Afghanistan. Melissa Fung was kidnapped after reporting from a refugee camp in Kabul. She was taken to a Taliban-controlled region. Officials say, tribal elders and members of Afghanistan's provincial council persuaded Fung's captors to eventually released her. They say no ransom was paid. Fung is now at the Canadian embassy in Kabul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): She's certain (ph) that she feels OK and (INAUDIBLE). I find that she is in remarkable spirits despite the circumstances. She's a journalist and so I'm sure she's anxious to convey her own story when she's ready to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, just yesterday, Afghan kidnappers released another western journalist, a Dutch magazine writer.
Hackers hit the campaign trail -- right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right. The Secret Service keeps a close watch on presidential candidates. But who was watching their computers?
CNN's Brian Todd reports on a double strike by international hackers.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of what was shaping up as a tight race, a major security breach of both presidential campaigns. In mid-summer, computers at the headquarters of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were hacked by a foreign government or organization. That's according to a source with knowledge of the incidents, who told CNN, the intrusions were sophisticated and appeared aimed at gaining information about policy in order to have leverage in future dealings with whoever was elected.
We asked an Internet security expert -- how would this foreign entity get into the campaign systems.
RAY DICKENSON, INTERNET SECURITY EXPERT: If I want to penetrate an organization, I'm going to send e-mails to members of that organization. It will be no problem at all for me to find somebody who's gullible enough to click on a link. Once they do that, I know the computer I've gotten on to, I know that I'm inside that organization. And now, I can start to spread within that organization.
TODD: The story was first reported by "Newsweek," whose report Daren Briscoe was embedded with the Obama campaign. Briscoe found out about the breaches not long after they occurred. But under an agreement with the Obama Team reached before the campaign started, he was not able to report any information until after the election.
Briscoe reports, technology staff at the Obama campaign had detected what they first thought was a virus put in place to steal passwords or credit card numbers.
DAREN BRISCOE, NEWSWEEK: The FBI and Secret Service showed up at the campaign headquarters and announced to them that they had a much bigger problem than they actually understand. The following day, the campaign gets a call from Josh Bolten, at the White House, and he says pretty much the thing that, "Look, you will have a serious problem and you need to deal with it."
TODD: Neither the FBI nor the Secret Service would comment on the story. It's believed both campaigns' headquarters were hacked into at about the same time last summer.
(on camera): We're told by a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation that when both campaigns were approached by federal authorities with information on this hacking, they both hired private companies that were able to mitigate the situation.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much for watching the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Don Lemon, the original D.L. -- next in the NEWSROOM.