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CNN BREAKING NEWS

President Bush to Address the Nation on Stem Cell Research

Aired August 9, 2001 - 07:30   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got some breaking news we want to get to right away for you this morning.

CNN has learned that President Bush is going to make an announcement tonight. He's going to address the nation tonight to make his announcement on embryonic stem cell research. This, of course, has been a controversial issue. Mr. Bush has said that he would take his time making his decision, that it was an important situation, that it weighed some of the advances -- potential advances in science with important ethical issues and that he would want the American people to know that he made a reasoned and measured decision.

So CNN has learned that President Bush is going to address the nation on that issue tonight, and we happened to have Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson with us this morning.

Good morning, Secretary Thompson. Thanks for being here.

TOMMY THOMPSON, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Good morning, Colleen. How are you?

MCEDWARDS: I'm well, thank you.

We wanted to talk to you about this new diabetes study and we will get to that, I promise you. But given these developments, can you tell us what you know about this announcement this evening?

THOMPSON: I know that the president has spent a great deal of time talking to experts and just plain individual citizens across America about this subject. And he has spent more time on this subject than probably anybody can really imagine because he was very concerned about it. And he's going to make a very reasoned opinion and decision tonight, and I hope that everybody tunes in and watches him because I think it's going to be something that's going to be what the people expect.

MCEDWARDS: And can you tell us what time it's going to happen -- when?

THOMPSON: Well, the president is going to go on television tonight and he's going to make his decision and I'm very proud of him.

MCEDWARDS: Tell us who else he's spoken to. I mean I know Senator Frist, one of the doctors in the Senate, one of the people that he's turned to in terms of advice on health-related issues and ethical issues. He's a pro-life senator, but he came out a few weeks ago and said he's in favor of this kind of research. Who has the president been talking to?

THOMPSON: The president has been talking to individuals on all sides of this issue. He's been talking to scientists, he's been talking to his advisers, he's been talking to congressman and senators. He's been talking to just to plain citizens. He's spent a lot of time on this subject.

MCEDWARDS: And we're just finding out now it's going to happen at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, just so our viewers know when to tune it. As you say, you hope that they do. It will be at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It will be an address to the nation.

What are the main issues he's been weighing, Secretary Thompson?

THOMPSON: Well, he has been very concerned about the ethical and, of course, the scientific breakthroughs that might happen so it's been a very controversial and -- but the president has been very straightforward. He wants information. He wants to -- as much as he can absolutely have on the subject and he's been doing his own independent research himself in regards to the ethical questions and the scientific questions by talking to individuals that are very learned in these -- in these positions.

MCEDWARDS: Has it been tough for him, personally, given that he's a pro-life president?

THOMPSON: Yes, it's been -- well, the president is -- has been very concerned about all of the issues, as rightly as he should, and I -- you know I was -- I was very proud of him the way he's handled himself throughout this whole debate. And I think that people are going to listen to him tonight and say, you know, this individual really spent a lot of time on this and I understand what -- why he made this decision.

MCEDWARDS: All right, I may come back to this in a moment, if you'll allow me, Secretary Thompson,...

THOMPSON: Sure.

MCEDWARDS: ... but I do want to give you a chance to talk about this important news on Type II diabetes. The study that you've been talking about has come up. It shows exercise, not taking drugs, just simple exercise, lifestyle changes can really dramatically reduce the chances of getting Type II diabetes. Tell us about that.

THOMPSON: Colleen, there are 16 million Americans that have diabetes and it's costing the health care system $100 billion a year to treat individuals with diabetes. And there are approximately 10 million Americans out there that are on the verge, that have the potential for receiving and getting diabetes, this terrible disease.

And we have found through a study that has been going on for three years that if you just reduce the number of calories you take in, reduce the amount of fat, exercise moderately 30 minutes a day, just by walking, you can reduce the onset of diabetes by 58 percent. And if you take medicine, you can do it by 31 percent. But the change of lifestyle is so important. And we have to get this information out to every American.

We had the study that was dealing a lot with the elderly people and minorities and we felt that this is a decision that can really change the direction of health care in America for the better.

MCEDWARDS: And are there any government measures in the offing in terms of getting that information out? I mean just yesterday we had a report -- I think it was yesterday, or the day before -- a report about how people don't listen to their doctors. When their doctors say you've got to exercise, people don't listen. This is a culture that likes to take a pill rather than go out there on the treadmill. How are you going to get that information out?

THOMPSON: Colleen, what you said is absolutely correct, but what we have to do is we have to form organizations, we have to get the employers, insurance companies, labor unions and especially minority groups really to understand the importance of this that how you can really change the direction of your -- of your quality of life by just exercising and reducing the -- how much you eat. And it's not that much. Just taking off 10 to 15 pounds and exercising 30 minutes a day by walking instead of riding, you can really have a tremendous impact on your life. And we have to get that information out and the department is going to lead the effort in this regard.

MCEDWARDS: All right. Secretary Thompson, before you go, I just want to remind our viewers that CNN has confirmed, and you have confirmed as well, that President Bush is going to be going on the airwaves 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight to announce his decision on embryonic stem cell research whether or not it should go ahead.

Just tell us before you go what kinds of -- what kinds of discussion you've had with the president on this -- what do you tell him?

THOMPSON: Well, the president has been very understanding of everybody's position. And all I wanted to do is to share with him my opinion and the information that I had. And I think the president has just done a tremendous job of weighing all of the information and he's going to make a very fine decision this evening.

MCEDWARDS: Secretary Thompson, we'll look forward to hearing what it is when it happens. Thank you for your time this morning.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

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