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AMERICAN MORNING

Debates over Iraq Strategies Focus on Rumsfeld; Beating the Winter Blues

Aired December 20, 2004 - 08:30   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: 8:30 here in New York. Welcome back. Good morning, everybody. Welcome here, good to have you along with us. Kelly Wallace working for Soledad today. Good morning.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again.

HEMMER: We are staying warm. It's chilly outside.

WALLACE: You don't mind working on a day like today.

HEMMER: Because we're inside.

In a moment here, many more questions raised over the weekend about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The latest controversy over whether or not his signature's on condolence letters for Americans killed in the war. In a few moments, Kamber/May talk about this, questioning the future of that. We'll get to it.

WALLACE: Also, Bill, as you know, for workers at FedEx, UPS and the post office, this is go time. Today, the busiest shipping day of the year. Coming up, we're going to look at what it really takes to get hundreds of millions of packages to their destination on time. That would before or on Christmas.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I think that would be luck.

HEMMER: Get the right address is the first step.

COSTELLO: Exactly. Another thing, the right zip code.

WALLACE: Yes. Get it out quickly.

HEMMER: Carol Costello is with us. Good morning.

WALLACE: Good morning to you both, and good morning everyone. "Now in the News," the woman accused of stealing an unborn child from the womb is set to appear in court this morning. Lisa Montgomery faces the federal charge of kidnapping, resulting in death. The infant has been recovered and was reunited with her father.

In Texas, jury deliberations are set to resume in about two hours in what's being called the deadliest human smuggling attempt in the United States. Two suspects face 58 counts of harboring and transporting illegal immigrants in a tractor-trailer last year, resulting in the deaths of 19 people. A very large fire this morning in Washington D.C. It's in southeast. Authorities say at least one person was killed in the housefire after trying to escape the flames -- there you see pictures of it there. Wow. It's in a series of row homes. Fire broke out four hours ago, emergency crews still on the scene at this hour.

And it's beginning to feel a lot like winter. Parts of the Northeast waking up to snow this morning. People in Ohio, boy, did they get blasted over the weekend. There was a virtual blizzard in Cleveland. And talk about frigid temperatures, the highs were in the 10's. The weather being blamed for a number of accidents.

HEMMER: You know how bad the Browns are. The Browns are playing at home in a winter storm a team from San Diego whips up on them.

COSTELLO: Oh, it's bad weather, then. They like, were missing field goals and missing passes and San Diego was playing just like it was 78 degrees outside.

WALLACE: Viewers out there wondering, football they're talking about, right? Exactly. Some are saying, what? All right. Thanks a lot, Carol. Talk to you in a little bit.

Well, a new flap over Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and violence escalating in Iraq, leading some to question again the feasibility of January elections. Joining us from Washington to talk about these and other topics -- from the left, Democratic Strategist, Victor Kamber and from the right, former RNC Communications Director Cliff May. Great to see you both, thanks for being here.

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Good morning, Kelly.

CLIFFORD MAY, FMR. RNC COMM DIRECTOR: Good morning, Kelly.

WALLACE: Cliff, let me begin with you. As you know, lots of talk about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, also coming from members of your own party. Republican Senator Chuck Hegel, just back from Iraq, says he has quote, "no confidence in Rumsfeld," but says this is a decision for President Bush. Do you believe it's time for Rumsfeld to go?

MAY: I don't happen to think so. I know there's a lot of piling up on him. First of all, I would just say, if you think he should go, tell me with whom he should be replaced and tell me what the policies should of whoever replaces him should be. The military needs very great transformation to fight a kind of war we never planned before. I think right now, Senator -- Secretary Rumsfeld is better qualified to make that transformation than anybody else I can think of.

WALLACE: And Vic, following up on that, because some members of Congress over the weekend saying, if you replace Secretary Rumsfeld now that would destabilize the upcoming elections in Iraq.

MAY: Well, first of all, it's the Republicans calling for his replacement in most cases. And frankly, they should have been calling for and they did of course, or they didn't, Republicans didn't -- George Bush's replacement. It's policy we're talking about, not a person. Donald Rumsfeld isn't a free agent doing his own thing. He's doing the work of the president of the United States.

And if you're unhappy with what Donald Rumsfeld's doing, you're unhappy with what George Bush is doing. That's the one thing this administration has made clear is we don't have free independent agents working for us. We are one policy, one direction, one administration. So Donald Rumsfeld is not the problem, it's George Bush.

WALLACE: Cliff, one more question, though, on Secretary Rumsfeld, how problematic politically for him, the news over the weekend that he was not personally signing condolence letters that would go to family members of fallen soldiers? Using a computer device instead, but that he will start personally signing them from here on out. P.R. problem?

MAY: Yes, I think it does compound his problems, it does hurt his image, I think it was cutting corners in a way he shouldn't be cutting corners and he's acknowledged that. But at the end of the day, what we're looking in a secretary of defense is not the most sensitive guy, it's somebody who can help formulate a killing machine that will destroy our enemies and keep us from being defeated in tough wars like we have in Iraq.

WALLACE: All right, topic two. The situation in Iraq -- as you both know, yesterday, a very violent day, I think the second deadliest day in Iraq since the U.S. turned over control of the country to the Iraqi interim government there. My question to you, Vic, is the violence going to mean that the January election's not possible?

KAMBER: Well, I think that this government, our government, is committed to these elections regardless of the practicality of those elections. We heard this morning, I guess, from Senator Levin, we know from President Bush, they're committed regardless. And you know, we hear people say if you don't have them, you're giving in to terrorists. I disagree totally. I think frankly think safety, providing for the future democracy of Iraq, is much more important than whether we have election in January, February or March.

We scheduled the election in January for George Bush's convenience of this last election of the United States. That's over. Let's not play games now with people's lives. There's at least four, maybe eight provinces in Iraq that cannot conduct elections fairly, democratically, safely. Thousands of lives are at stake. It's not worth it. In this country, our country, United States, we have postponed elections when there are problems, including 9/11 when it happened in New York, we postponed the mayoral election. I don't -- you know, I just think it's more important to have democracy at stake and the future of the country.

WALLACE: Let me -- Vic, let me get Cliff to respond. Final word there, Cliff. If safety's at stake, should the elections be delayed?

MAY: Kelly, understand why the terrorists are blowing up, shooting innocent people in the streets. Because they want to stop the progress toward democracy. If you say, OK, as long as they're killing people, we won't have elections. They'll keep killing people for that reason. That's the only thing they're doing.

What they're doing has no military value, they're not trying to take over cities, they are only trying have to public relations values. They know if they kill people, we'll discuss that, we won't discuss the three million kids who have been immunized in that country, we won't discuss the polls that show that Iraqis -- millions and millions of them who want elections and don't want the Baathists to rule anymore. This is public relations and we shouldn't let them succeed and shouldn't admit defeat.

WALLACE: All right, gentleman, we have to leave it there. Clifford May, Victor Kamber, thanks for being here today.

MAY: Thank you.

KAMBER: Thank you.

WALLACE: Good to see you -- Bill.

HEMMER: About 22 minutes now before the hour. Today is the busiest mailing day of the year and for FedEx, that means some extra players are stepping up to the plate, in fact, volunteering to help. In Memphis today, Sarah Dorsey checks out FedEx headquarters there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not fast enough.

SARAH DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fast is exactly what you have to be to process more than eight million packages in a single day. That's a new holiday record for FedEx.

ROBERT CARTER, CIO, FEDEX: We really consider this a very important time of year for us, to make sure that all those presents reach your friends and family out there in the places where they're supposed to be.

DORSEY: The process the package goes through before it arrives at its destination is an intricate one. 300 miles of conveyor belts make sorting go smoothly and 600 aircrafts circle the globe, much like Santa. If FedEx shipping were a holiday tale, the nearly 250,000 workers would be the elves. Jerilyn Hayward leaves her job as an industrial psychologist in the corporate office for one day each year to help out with the sort. 900 other employees join her, offering their time.

JERILYN HAYWARD, FEDEX: The first couple of years, I was afraid I'd be in the way so I didn't volunteer. And then I started volunteering. I do it because the people who touch the packages everyday are the reason I have a job.

DORSEY: Most of the people here consider their jobs an important one. 500,000 packages are processed each hour. One executive says he feels like Santa. Ronnie Pruitt just happens to look like him. When he drives by, people notice.

(on camera): Just tell me how people act.

RONNIE PRUITT, FEDEX: Just, hey, Santa.

DORSEY (voice-over): A $27 billion-a-year company delivering wishes at least once a year.

PRUITT: Ho, ho, ho, have a merry Christmas!

DORSEY: Sarah Dorsey, CNN, Memphis, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: That's the view from FedEx in Memphis. There's some shipping deadlines you might want to know if you want to get that package there in time. The U.S. Post Service offering express mail service through the 23rd of December. That would be Thursday of this week.

UPS also guaranteeing express delivery for packages sent through the 23rd. FedEx says procrastinators can still ship overnight on the 23rd, and your boxes will arrive in time to put under the tree. However, FedEx reminds you today is the last day to ship for Christmas if your package is going overseas. So now you know, and good luck.

WALLACE: Yes, and not good for those of us still procrastinating. Not a lot a lot of time left. Right.

Moving forward here in Minnesota, authorities trying to figure out why an ice resurfacing machine exploding at an ice rink in Duluth. The Zamboni explosion started a fire and injured one broomball player. About 30 people, including two broomball teams, and a handful of fans were evacuated from the building.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: In a moment here, this year, which ads were too hot to handle, even for Madison Avenue? Andy's back, "Minding Your Business," has that for you in a moment here.

WALLACE: Also, you can say over the river and through the woods, just to get to work. Why the daily grind for some Americans is lasting just about the whole day.

HEMMER: Also you've seen the snowy pictures. What do you do to keep from getting winter blues? A few tips for you in a moment as we continue, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Sanjay if off today, but in medical news, beating the winter blues. Every year at this time, the days get shorter and the nights get longer, and people get a syndrome, know as SAD, S-A-D -- Seasonal Affective Disorder. How common? What to do?

Here's Elizabeth Cohen at the CNN Center with more on this.

And good morning there, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

Bill, SAD is better known as wintertime blues. Simply put, there's less light at the beginning of the day, there's less light at the end of the day, and it can actually affect people's mental health. In fact, doctors who study SAD say that it actually affects hormone levels for many people.

Let's take a look at some of the symptoms of SAD -- lethargy, irritability, increased appetite and weight gain, oversleeping, and the mood impairs your life for two successive years. Another important point to make. Many people who have SAD, they're fine for the rest of the year, they're fine when it's warm. It's only during the wintertime that they feel that level of depression. Now how common is it? Well, 20 percent of Americans suffer from a mild form of SAD. In northern climates, it can 10 percent or greater. In warmer climates, it's only 2-3 percent.

Women are more affected by SAD than men are, and it's not terribly clear why. And it's most pronounced in January and February, when the days are the shortest. Now of course, the days are really the shortest starting tomorrow. So why isn't it the it the worse at the end of December? Well, many doctors think it's because the holidays make people feel better and give people a distraction from how they're feeling -- Bill.

HEMMER: So the most important question then, if you're a victim of it, how do you fight it, or how do you prevent it, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Right, there are several things that you can do. And let's talk about from the mildest cases to more severe cases. For some of the mildest cases, what you can do is just get yourself out, expose yourself to daylight as much as you can, and get regular exercise.

Now if it's too bad to be handled that way, what you can do is you can get a lightbox, and that is a box, a very, very strong fluorescent light. You see it there. This woman, who we did a story with, she exercises while she uses her light box, some people just read or just sit in front of it. But people say that it's very effective. In fact, a doctor that we spoke to said that for most of his patients, the lightbox is all they need. They need to do it at least 30 minutes daily. For some people, when the lightbox doesn't work, they actually need to use antidepressants.

HEMMER: SAD, and now we know. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Can't wait for the days to get longer, huh?

COHEN: That's right, that's the real cure.

HEMMER: Good deal. Thanks. Good to see you -- Kelly. WALLACE: All right, thanks, Bill. Well, the workday is already long enough for most Americans. But for some, just getting there is half the battle.

Alina Cho looks at a growing phenomenon called extreme commuting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well before the crack of dawn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The alarm goes off at 4:00.

CHO: Shelly Gibling (ph) is on her way to work. Gibling saves time from the car to the bus station by eating while she drives. When she's parked, her commute is just beginning. A 5:00 a.m. bus take her to New York City, a two hour ride. Then the final leg, a 20-minute walk to the office. Total commute time: 2 1/2 hours one way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think all of us who ride the bus need to have hour heads examined at one point or another.

CHO: On average, Americans spend 25 minutes commuting one way, up three minutes since 1990. Gibling is an extreme commuter, someone who spends more than 90 minutes getting to work, for a chance to buy into the American Dream. Shelly and Paul Gibling own a home in the Poconos, the only place in the area they can afford.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're basically trading their time in morning and in the evening for mortgage.

CHO (on camera): Extreme commuters make up one of the fastest growing segments of commuters, according to census takers, and longer commute times often mean earlier start times, meaning more people abandoning the 9:00 to 5:00 workday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am in my office before 7:00, and I cut out earlier than 4:00 p.m.

CHO (voice-over): That way, Gibling misses the early morning and afternoon rush. Jimmy Nelson (ph) has been commuting two hours to New York City for seven years.

(on camera): Why do you do it? I mean, how do you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, look at the price you pay to live in the city? It's too much.

CHO (voice-over): But five hours a day commuting. Don't think Gibling has had second thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are times that I walk past these apartment buildings, and I go, gee, I wonder what the rent in one of these things is.

CHO: Then she's on her way, walking, riding and driving, another day, another extreme commute.

Alina Cho, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Amazing. Get this, Bill, Alina tells us more than three million Americans endure a commute of 90 minutes a day or longer. Have you ever had a long commute?

HEMMER: At 5:00 a.m. it's quite quick actually.

WALLACE: Not a lot of traffic.

HEMMER: Ten minutes, door-to-door.

WALLACE: One of the perks of the job.

HEMMER: Even in New York, everybody's off the roads.

WALLACE: That's true.

HEMMER: Thanks, Kelly. In a moment here, which TV news star is said to be being recruited wooed right now to replace Dan Rather? Jack has that in the "File" in a moment, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right, welcome back.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Programming not the only thing broadcasters tamed down a bit following the FCC uproar over the wardrobe malfunction and Howard Stern and other stuff.

Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, a lot of ads that were banned for various reasons. We'll get to that in a second, Jack.

Let's talk about the markets first of all. A good week for stocks, particularly the Dow up 1 percent; 1 percent a week would be a very good year. We don't usually do that, though, unfortunately. We retreated a little bit on Friday with the news on Pfizer's problems, but that wasn't enough to put the kabosh (ph) out on the stock party last week.

Let's talk about these ads, though, Jack, you know, starting with that wardrobe malfunction you mentioned; a lot of people got very sensitive about advertising on television, and various entities banned ads. I got this story directly from the money.com Web site. So kudos to them.

And you know, we talked about the Church of Christ ad that you talked about a couple of weeks ago where they pulled it because of the inclusion stuff and various networks banned it.

Let's start off with a couple goodies here. Chevrolet Corvette, this was directed by Mr. Madonna himself, Guy Ritchie, and it's showed an underage driver doing all kinds of bad things in a Corvette. GM said, you know what, those letters from the safety groups are right, we're going to pull the ad. Next was the Viagra ad. Remember this one, the wild thing, this, they showed this ad nauseum, pun intended.

CAFFERTY: All of these male-enhancement things, I'm tiring of watching them.

SERWER: Yes, strike them all, unless they advertise on our network.

And what about -- we've got a couple -- what about the Ford Sport car (ph). This one made the rounds of the Internet. It's kind of an underground ad. You remember with the cat that climbs up the car and get in the sunroof, and gets its head cut off, decapitated cat ad. Ford said it wasn't even a real ad. Oglebee (ph) and Mather (ph) said we never really made it. Anyway, it was fun.

What about the Anheuser-Busch Bud Light ad. This one featured equine flatulence. You remember this ad? What a dog. I mean, what were they thinking? That just was terrible.

And then I never got to see this. I missed this. I want to put this up for a while. This is Christina Aguilera as the racy nurse, a Sketchers ad, and get this, nurses objected because it exploited negative stereotypes of nurses.

According to whom?

WALLACE: What is she selling in that ad?

SERWER: She's selling, I think it's footwear -- I know it's footwear. There weren't any shoes pictured there.

WALLACE: You can't even see their shoes.

SERWER: Exploiting negative images.

CAFFERTY: That's a very positive stereotype.

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Time for the "File." First daughter Jenna Bush house hunting in Washington D.C. with some of her buddies. But guess what, not everybody is jumping at the chance to be her landlord. Jenna and three of her girlfriends were rejected after looking at a 4,500 square foot-four bedroom joint in the Cleveland Park section in Washington. "New York Daily News Report" said the owners of said house, "The New York Times Paris" bureau chief Elaine Isolan (ph) -- is that how you say her name? Yes, it's close enough -- and her husband were less than thrilled about the perspective tenants, knowing that Jenna has a reputation for partying some, besides housing a first daughter means you've got all that electronic surveillance, you've got the social -- Secret Service.

SERWER: Where's the liquor cabinet? WALLACE: You've got the president dropping by, though, for an interview.

CAFFERTY: That would be another reason to keep out.

Scott Peterson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, has not given up on his client. Geragos has launched petersoninvestigation.com. This is a Web site that asks people to donate money to help fund an independent investigation into Laci's murder. Where do I send my check? Some are comparing this to the O.J. Simpson pledges a decade ago to find his ex-wife Nicole's real killers.

SERWER: Still looking.

CAFFERTY: That's coming along pretty well. And the Peterson Web site says, quote, "For Scott to get the justice he deserves, the investigation must continue. Unfortunately, it doesn't come without a price," unquote, and they do take credit cards, in case you're interested in that deal. Lawyers have no shame.

CBS looking to, quote, "land a superstar" in Dan Rather's anchor chair, according to "Broadcasting and Cable" magazine, and Katie Couric is reportedly the top choice. CBS news chairman Lesley Moonves is reportedly looking to name an interim anchor while he courts Couric during the remaining 18 months or her $15 million a year contract, host of the "Today" show over there at NBC.

Broadcasting and cable reports Couric could command a salary of $20 million or more. She would still be below Dave Letterman and Jay Leno. They $31 million and $27 million. Couric's agent said there's nothing to talk about at this time. However, wouldn't you like to be Katie Couric's position? NBC has got a negotiate a renewal, and CBS over there saying, you want Dan Rather's job?

SERWER: Tens of millions of dollars, either was you play, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: Of course, there's always you two, you three.

WALLACE: I will say this, that I was on the plane once, and a couple of people said, we hear Bill Hemmer's in contention.

SERWER: Yes, the short list.

CAFFERTY: What, and leave all this?

SERWER: His agent is floating that about.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: In a moment here, today's top stories, including a winter blast hitting much of the eastern U.S. Where's it going next? We'll tell you, after this on AMERICAN MORNING.

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