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AMERICAN MORNING

Bush Iraq Plan; Hussein's Execution; Political Power Shift; Final Respects; Winds Of Change; Oprah's Dream School; UFO At O'Hare?

Aired January 3, 2007 - 06:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Developing story. New details overnight about when President Bush could announce changes to America's Iraq War strategy.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: New intrigue at finger-pointing. Who took the unauthorized cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution? Iraq's government now launching an investigation.

O'BRIEN: And risking life and limb. A father jumps in front of a moving train to try to save a total stranger. Subway superman in his own words on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody. Or welcome, I should say. Well, I've been up for a while. Welcome. It is January 3rd. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

ROBERTS: It's sort of an ongoing saga, so we keep welcoming.

O'BRIEN: Welcome back from yesterday.

ROBERTS: Welcome the people from yesterday.

O'BRIEN: Again.

ROBERTS: A brief little break, but we're back again.

I'm John Roberts, in for Miles O'Brien. Thanks for joining us.

How about that guy who jumped on the subway tracks yesterday to save that kid.

O'BRIEN: Wow. With two small girls waiting on the subway for their dad and he dives in. And when the train comes, he puts his head down, holds the strangers down, saves both of their lives.

ROBERTS: And apparently it missed by that much.

O'BRIEN: Two inches.

ROBERTS: Incredible. Very lucky.

O'BRIEN: Great story. We'll get to that in just a moment.

First we're going to start with the president's new year push. Here's what's new this morning. The president is out with his own op- ed in "The Wall Street Journal" outlining his priorities before Democrats take control of Congress tomorrow, writing that he's going to address the nation in the days ahead about a new strategy in Iraq.

In Iraq, the U.S. army is announcing the death of a soldier who was killed in the roadside bomb. The American death toll is now 3,004.

And just in this morning, the two Iraqi officials convicted alongside Saddam Hussein will be executed later tonight, in Eastern Time, and that's according to Iraqi media.

In Washington, D.C., the president's gathering his cabinet together this morning. Then he's going to meet the press in the White House Rose Garden. Let's begin this morning with our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You may recall President Bush on Thursday said a number of things have to happen before he announces change in tactics to his Iraq policy, consultations with members of Congress, consultations with the Iraqi government. Well, we're learning now that the president is going to take some of those steps in the days to come.

The president, of course, meeting with his cabinet this morning. And then later is when the president will hold a reception for the incoming House, the Senate, the leadership, Democrats and Republicans alike, here at the White House to talk about the year ahead, as well as his deliberations on Iraq.

One senior administration official saying that, in fact, members of Congress will get courtesy calls about the president's plan a couple of days prior to the president making his national announcement to the American people. Secondly, we have also been told that while the president, the Bush administration officials continue to reach out to Iraqi officials, that the president will go ahead and reach out to Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to tell him about the plan before he makes this national address. That hasn't happened yet.

And then, finally, sources are telling us not to expect an announcement or a national address this week, but it is very likely that the president will make that announcement early next week. Again, officials stressing there have been no decisions that have been made yet, that the president has not signed off on anything yet, including possible troop surge. But according to one source, the president is driving toward a conclusion.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: The president's statement and the news conference set for 10:25 Eastern Time this morning. And CNN's going to carry that live when it happens.

John. ROBERTS: New reports this morning that two of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants will be executed as early as tonight, Eastern Time. While the mystery intensifies about just who took that cell phone video of Hussein's final moments. CNN's Ryan Chilcote is in Baghdad.

Good morning to you, Ryan.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the government has launched an investigation here in Iraq as to who leaked that cell phone video from the execution chamber. That as a prosecutor who attended the execution says he personally witnessed two top Iraqi officials filming the event on their cell phones. Now that is, of course, important because it is what is revealed in that cell phone video that was leaked that has angered many Sunni Muslims here in Iraq. You see in that video Saddam Hussein being taunted by people in the room, shouting Shiite slogans, very disturbing, also dancing around the body shouting, again, Shiite slogans.

We have heard just within the last few minutes from General William Caldwell. He is the chief spokesman for the U.S. military here in Iraq, saying that the United States would have done things differently, but that the U.S. had really no role in the execution itself. The U.S. was responsible, he says, simply for logistics and the transfer of physical control of Mr. Hussein over to the Iraqi side.

General Caldwell also provided one of the first descriptions that we have from the U.S. side of Mr. Hussein's behavior in the final hours before he was executed. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: We had absolutely nothing to do with anything further than just the physical movement and security of him as we had always done to get him to a predetermined location, which in the past had been to the courthouse where the proceedings had been taking place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHILCOTE: Again, I think that the headline here from General Caldwell's statements, he is the first U.S. official to publicly talk about the U.S.'s position as to how the execution itself was handled. He said, we would have done things differently, but we had no control over how the execution was handled.

John.

ROBERTS: And, Ryan, what's the latest on Saddam Hussein's co- defendants, Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Bandar?

CHILCOTE: There are reports that the two will be executed within the next 24 hours. That coming from an Iraqi TV channel associated with one of the political parties here, one of the Shiite religious parties. We have not been able to confirm that yet. What we do know from a source close to the government is that Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, who is a Sunni, is asking that that execution date be postponed, specifically because of the anger about how Saddam's execution was carried out. So that is just coming in, but it does appear to be in flux. No exact word when those executions will take place. They have to have them, by law, by January 27th.

John.

ROBERTS: Yes, I can imagine that some officials there are anxious to avoid a scene like the Hussein hanging.

Ryan Chilcote in Baghdad, thanks very much.

Indonesian authorities are expanding their search for that jet liner that disappeared on New Year's Day. Officials now say they are searching for signs of wreckage at sea. On Tuesday, a report surfaced that 12 survivors had been found with the wreckage in the mountains of eastern Indonesia. Officials now say those reports were wrong and were simply based on rumors from local villagers.

O'BRIEN: Congress is on the cusp of change. Democrats taking control tomorrow. And CNN asked Opinion Research Corporation to find out what Americans think about the political power shift. Senior political analyst Bill Schneider has a look at the new poll numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 1994, Republicans take over Congress for the first time in 40 years. The public thought the new Republican Congress would be good for the country.

2006, Democrats regained control of Congress after 12 years. Now by a slightly larger margin, people believe Democratic control of Congress will be good for the country.

Men feel about the same way now as they did in 1994. The big shift is among women. It's the Nancy Pelosi factor.

Sixty-four percent of women say Democratic control of Congress will be good for the country. Fewer than half of women felt optimistic when Newt Gingrich and the Republicans took over in 1994.

Democrats are even more optimistic now than Republicans were in 1994. But in 1994, fewer than half of Democrats thought the Republican Congress would be bad for the country. Now, nearly three quarters of Republicans believe a Democratic Congress will be bad for the country.

Pelosi takes over in a more deeply divided country than Gingrich did.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a closer look ahead at the new leaders of the House and the Senate. We're going to go home to Baltimore with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. And then at 8:00, to Searchlight, Nevada, with the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

ROBERTS: A final farewell to a former president later on today. Gerald Ford will be laid to rest on the grounds of his presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tuesday began with dignitaries from around the world packing Washington's National Cathedral to pay their respects. It ended with a public ceremony at Ford's presidential museum in Grand Rapids. CNN's Jeanne Meserve is in Grand Rapids for us today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many of the people waiting in line to pay their respect to Gerald Ford are too young to remember the Ford presidency, much less when he was a local congressman. But they said they were here to pay their respects, also to be a part of history. History which is unlikely, they said, to come to Grand Rapids again in their lifetimes. A very strong sense of local pride in this native son who ascended to the Oval Office.

Tuesday was very much a sentimental journey. The aircraft that carried Gerald Ford back to Grand Rapids did a fly-over of the University of Michigan Stadium where he played college football, and the University of Michigan was on the ground when the plane landed to play the fight song as the casket was loaded into the hearse.

As it was driven here to the Gerald R. Ford Museum, Boy Scouts lined the motorcade route, saluting, showing their respect for the only Eagle Scout who ever ascended to the Oval Office. Everyone here wanting to show their pride, wanting to say thank you, wanting to say welcome home and rest well.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning.

In Colorado and New Mexico, an emergency air lift. National Guard helicopters dropping bails of hay to livestock stranded by the weekend's snow storm. They also dropped supplies to people who are trapped in houses surrounded by snow drifts. Some of those drifts were reaching all the way up to the roofs of the houses.

California investigators are looking into what caused a National Guard helicopter to crash in the mountains southeast of San Diego. Five border patrol agents and four guardsmen were hurt. The chopper was flying the agents to and from remote areas.

And in New York, some quick thinking by 50-year-old Wesley Autrey, who saved a teenager from an oncoming subway train. The teenager had a seizure, apparently fell on to the tracks. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WESLEY AUTREY, HERO: This train was coming. I was trying to pull him up but, you know, his weight, plus he was fighting against me. He didn't know who I was. The only thing that popped into my mind was like, OK, we'll go for the gutter. So I dove in and I pinned him down. Once the first car ran over, my thing was then was just keep him still.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, it worked. I love the way they have him (INAUDIBLE) hero. And he is. Two of the cars passed over the men with just inches to spare. The teen that Autrey saved was taken to the hospital. He's expected to recover. And Autrey, in fact, you know, shrugged off medical treatment at all and went outside of the train station where he was hugged and high-fived and then did some interviews with the local media. Goo for him.

ROBERTS: Heroes don't need medical treatment.

O'BRIEN: Never.

ROBERTS: That's all there is to it.

O'BRIEN: Good for him. Good for him.

ROBERTS: Excellent.

Coming up, winds of change at the National Hurricane Center. Top forecaster Max Mayfield is stepping down. But before he leaves, he has a warning for all of us.

Plus, Oprah Winfrey's gift to the girls of South Africa. A new school just for them. The talk show host goes one-on-one with CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: There's Andrew and there's Katrina, but one of the best known names in hurricanes is Max. Legendary hurricane forecaster Max Mayfield is retiring from the National Weather Service today and leaving behind one last warning. CNN's Jacqui Jeras has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX MAYFIELD, RETIRING FROM NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Get into that inner room with no windows.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. You need to board up your windows, get out, button down the hatches.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Katrina, Andrew, Hugo -- not the names of colleagues he will miss, but of the most notorious storms Max Mayfield warned us about in his three decade career.

Is Katrina going to be one of the things that you remember most about your time at the hurricane career?

M. MAYFIELD: If you were to ask which season is the most memorable one, that would sure to be the 2005 hurricane season with all the records that were broken. The one storm that I'll remember more than anything else, obviously, would be Katrina.

JERAS: Katrina was a defining moment for Mayfield. He had the ear of the president during a time of national crisis and says his team's forecast was right on, amid controversy over the federal response.

M. MAYFIELD: I think it's admitted by all that there were some failures, and failures at all levels of government. You don't want the federal government to come in and be a first responder. The locals know the local area more than anybody.

JERAS: In 30 years, Mayfield worked more than 900 named storms, 500 hurricanes and 200 major hurricanes, one for each line on this map.

What do you love about your job?

M. MAYFIELD: Well, you feel like you do some good every now and then. You know, with the land falling hurricanes, you know, it's all about saving lives and getting people to respond. And it's not just about the forecasting. You really, you want to change the outcome and in the hurricane program that means cut down the loss of life.

JERAS: Growing up in stormy Oklahoma, Mayfield was fascinated with the weather. His forecasting career began in 1970 when he joined the Air Force. Two years later, Mayfield took a job at the Hurricane Center and met the other love of his life. Wife Linda was his mentor's daughter.

LINDA MAYFIELD, MAX MAYFIELD'S WIFE: He was just kind of a friend of my dads, but we went fishing -- I was in college and we went fishing one spring break and that's when he kind of, you know, became more than just a friend. So if it weren't for my dad, I don't think we'd be together.

M. MAYFIELD: And she embarrassed me. She caught a lot more fish than I did that day.

JERAS: Mayfield says he plans to spend more time fishing after he leaves his post. But quitting his job won't silence his message.

M. MAYFIELD: We want every individual, every family, every business and ever community to have a hurricane plan that you can execute and have that plan in place before the hurricane season gets here. We're just going to have to learn to live with hurricanes. They're not going to stop coming.

JERAS: And while Mayfield's stormiest days are behind him, he warns the worst hurricane in history is yet to be named.

Jacqui Jeras, CNN, Miami. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: A fixture not only in south Florida, but across this country as well. We bid you well, Max Mayfield.

Sixteen minutes now after the hour, coming up to 17 after. Chad Myers at the CNN Center with the traveler's forecast.

Are you going to miss Max, Chad?

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, we brought you those pictures from opening day. Now the pencils are sharpened, the textbooks are out at Oprah Winfrey's new school for girls, which is outside of Johannesburg in South Africa. Overnight, CNN's Jeff Koinange went one-on-one with Oprah to hear about her dream project.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY: I feel like I got married and had 152 children all at the same time.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. I've got to ask you this. You personally insisted on visiting these kids' homes during the interview process.

WINFREY: Yes.

KOINANGE: Why did you do that?

WINFREY: Because I wanted to not just hear about but to feel what their environment was like. To have for myself the information that says where you come from and what is your story. And what I learned by doing that is that their story is really also my story.

KOINANGE: And these are the leaders of tomorrow? These are the girls you want to hone to be the leaders?

WINFREY: Well, I have to tell you, some of my friends from the United States were here and I had all the girls giving tours. I had 24 girls giving tours. They said, they're already leaders. They're already leaders.

What is amazing about these girls is that, in spite of their circumstances, all of them coming from poor homes and some from more devastation -- sexual abuse, physical abuse -- all of them have a spark, a light, because that's what I was looking for. I was looking for the girls who life has not already taken them down because, you know, sometimes it just gets to be so hard that it takes the light out of you. So I was looking for girls for whom that had not yet happened. And so every girl has a spark. Every girl has that thing.

They're all very different. You know, some are strong A personalities. And what I realize is, you can't have all A personalities in a classroom, so some have a quiet, quiet strength that says "I can." That's what I was looking for. And so, yes, they will be the future leaders. I have no doubt in my mind that for every girl that comes out of this school, amazing in the true sense of the word, amazing things will happen to them.

This campus is founded on the principle of Hibutu (ph). It's an African principle that says "I am because we are." And so I've already said to these girls, this isn't like any other place you've ever been or any other community. We compete with each other because we all want to be successful, we all want to be great, we all want great grades, but we compete for the common good. So our competitiveness makes us stronger so that we can together go out in the world and make a difference.

And so it's founded on community service. Every single girl here, as a part of her indoctrination, gives back. Give back to their family. Give to herself first, then to her family, to this community that we live in, but also the global community. I want these girls not to just be citizens of this campus and this community, but citizens of the global world.

It's fantastic. Thank you. Well done, huh?

KOINANGE: Amazing.

WINFREY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: It's fantastic and so is the campus. Twenty-eight state-of-the-art buildings for the 152 students, including, you know, a studio inside theater, outside theater, 200-thread count sheets. We told you a little bit about that yesterday. The project's budget was originally $10 million. Went up to $40 million.

ROBERTS: Yikes. Worth it, though, if you can help shape the lives of young people like that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I think, you know, the point that I think she's been trying to make was it's not just about these 152 girls, it's about really changing a society where these women, girls like this, would never have opportunities at all. So it's not just about them, it's much bigger than that.

ROBERTS: Right. She also seems to get along well with Jeff.

O'BRIEN: Everybody loves Jeff.

ROBERTS: Coming up, we're "Minding Your Business." Ali Velshi tells us why the U.S. auto industry may be in for one of its toughest years yet.

And are UFOs hovering over O'Hare Airport. The mystery in Chicago ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Kind of a gloomy outlook from a major home builder. Twenty-five minutes past the hour. It's time to check in with Ali Velshi who's "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Good morning, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

You know, the outlook for 2007 in housing hasn't really been gloomy. It's been mixed at best. Most people thinking we may have hit bottom. Some people thinking there's a little more to go.

But the CEO of one of the country's biggest home builders, Lennar, says otherwise. He still expects it to go down. He says he hasn't seen any signs that the housing market has hit bottom. That's interesting coming from a company itself. These companies have struggled over the last year. One major company saying it's not over yet. So that's an interesting piece of news.

The other thing that we're tracking, of course, is auto sales. Today the auto sales numbers for December will come out. We're expecting to see double-digit declines from Ford. Ford has lost a lot of its fleet business.

This has, of course, been a rough year for Ford and GM. We're expecting to see declines at GM and at DaimlerChrysler. And we'll continue to see an uptick in U.S. auto sales for Toyota and Honda, which just goes to underscore the fact that some automakers are successful and do make money selling cars in the U.S. market and others don't.

Marketings are open today, finally, for the first time this year. U.S. markets, that is. They were closed because of President Ford yesterday. So we'll expect to see the Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P, all of them trading today.

We will, if you're looking for expectations based on overseas markets, they've been mixed, although there were some record-setting days yesterday in Europe and Asia. So we'll keep an eye on that and we'll be back with more in half an hour.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks very much. We'll see you soon.

Some United Airlines workers insist they saw a close encounter in the skies over Chicago, a UFO at O'Hare. The FAA is out with an explanation. We get more from Juan Carlos Fanjul of CNN affiliate WGN.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUAN CARLOS FANJUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It supposedly happened in early November, just before sunset. About a dozen United Airlines ramp workers telling the "Chicago Tribune" they saw weird-looking, frisbee shaped aircraft hovering motionless over terminal one, concord C (ph). KATHERINE HUGGINS, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I've been flying for a while and, yes, they're reputable. And if they say they saw it, I think they saw it. And I wish I saw it too.

FANJUL: These United flight attendants just heard about the mysterious account.

MATHEW WALKER, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I think it's great. I don't know. Something different, you know. It's about time they finally found one.

FANJUL: So you think it's real then.

WALKER: Maybe. It could be.

FANJUL: Workers say the flying object was real. They say it was silent, had no lights. A pilot saw it around 1,500 feet up, then it suddenly burst upwards, punching a hole in the clouds. The FAA tells WGN News, they've got nothing on radar. United said they've heard about the stories but have no evidence. Witnesses have been told it could be a weather phenomenon.

JON HILKEVITCH, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": And they're concerned that whatever it was, even if it was some kind of military craft or something else, that it be identified because it could pose a safety hazard.

FANJUL: A possible UFO siting has sparked some deep discussions at O'Hare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's probable. I don't think we're the only life forms in the galaxy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me personally, a UFO has to actually come knocking at my door and say hit to me or something, but -- and just by talking about it, I really don't believe in it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: It was a "weather phenomenon" just like that one is Roswell, New Mexico, 60 years ago. And that was Juan Carlos Fanjul of our affiliate WGN reporting.

Do you believe that?

O'BRIEN: You know, at first I don't, and then you see the flight attendants who all look like very rational, calm people to me. In fact, I know that blonde woman. (INAUDIBLE) I fly a lot.

ROBERTS: I swear I've met her, yes.

O'BRIEN: She's not making it up. I believe it.

Our top stories are straight ahead this morning.

Some new intrigue about who shot that cell phone videotape of Saddam Hussein's execution.

Plus, can a governor of a liberal state make it in the Republican Party? An announcement from Mitt Romney is expected today.

And Operation Hay Lift in the west. A critical mission to save thousands and thousands of lives. Livestock that is. Straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: War plans. New details overnight about when President Bush might announce a new future for American troops in Iraq.

ROBERTS: Rescue mission. Military helicopters take to the sky in a race to save lives still stranded by those devastating snowstorms.

O'BRIEN: And a political stunner. Former Democratic presidential candidate remembers Gerald Ford by blowing the lid off an old election secret. We'll tell you what he said right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody. It is Wednesday, January 3rd.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts, in for Miles O'Brien this week.

It is pretty stunning what McGovern had to tell Larry last night.

O'BRIEN: Very stunning, actually. We'll call that the deep tease and get to it in just a moment.

First, though, happening this morning, President Bush is calling for a new era of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. It's in a column in this morning's "Wall Street Journal." Mr. Bush urges Democrats to work with him on major issues from Iraq, to Social Security form, and balancing the budget. Democrats officially retake control of the House and the Senate tomorrow.

Indonesian authorities are expanding their search for that jetliner that disappeared on New Year's Day. Officials now say they're searching for signs of wreckage at sea. The government blames rumors from local villagers for those false reports that wreckage and survivors were found in the mountains of eastern Indonesia.

Later today President Gerald Ford is going to be laid to rest on the grounds of his presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The museum was kept open through the night so that mourners could pay their final respects.

In Massachusetts, protesters on both sides of same-sex marriage issue marching outside the state House. Lawmakers inside are moving ahead with a 2008 ballot measure that could ban it. They must vote on the measure again before it goes on the ballot. Massachusetts is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal. ROBERTS: The governor of Massachusetts is leaving one office to seek another. Mitt Romney will be testing the waters for a presidential run in 2008.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Dan Lothian has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Later today, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will make his final departure from the state House. His day job is about to end, but he will be one step closer to getting in line for a new one, president of the United States.

By turning in the paperwork to officially form a presidential exploratory committee, he'll be in a position to raise and spend money. Last year, Romney spent significant time traveling the country raising money for Republicans and trying to raise his profile. He was in key states like New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina.

Critics say as Romney has been testing the waters he's moved away from the more moderate gubernatorial candidate that he was four years ago on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Romney admits he now takes a harder line against abortion than he did in his gubernatorial campaign, but he disagrees he's toughened his stance against same-sex marriage.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: With regards to same-sex marriage and with regards to same-sex civil union, I have steadfastly been in favor of traditional marriage, believing that the ideal setting for raising a child is where there's a mom and a dad.

LOTHIAN: By the way, a Romney aide says a formal announcement declaring his candidacy is expected to come "later."

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Rudy Giuliani hasn't officially decided on a White House run, but his campaign strategy kind of already out of the bag. Giuliani's staff is calling it a dirty campaign trick after a "New York Daily News" reporter got hold of the very detailed 140-page document.

CNN's Mary Snow has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a Rudy Giuliani for president campaign strategy meant to stay behind the scenes. But the 140-page document outlining everything from budgets to political baggage made it into the hands of "New York Daily News" reporter Ben Smith.

BEN SMITH, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": The most striking thing was the sort of explicit worries about some of these issues in his campaign. Mentioning his ex-wife Donna Hanover, his current wife, his business, social issues was last among the worries.

SNOW: Republican strategists say it's not surprising these concerns would be listed. Giuliani supports abortion and gay rights, which clash with Republican Party ideals. While he was mayor, his divorce from his second wife Donna Hanover turned ugly, with an alleged affair making tabloid headlines. And his former aide and police commissioner Bernard Kerik has become a source of embarrassment. Kerik for one withdrew his name as a choice to head the Department of Homeland Security over the hiring of a nanny with questionable immigration and tax status.

Some strategists say writing out political baggage does come as a surprise.

JONATHAN GRELLA, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It would seem that these are not the kind of things that you would want to put down on paper. That is an -- that is an old political maxim, not to -- not to ever put to paper on -- on situations like this.

SNOW: Giuliani's camp calls it dirty tricks, claiming the document was taken in the fall while Giuliani was on the 2006 campaign trail, stumping for Republicans. A spokeswoman claims the document was in a staffer's luggage, which was not returned during a plane transfer. She claims the document was removed and photocopied.

Giuliani's communications director said as for the document itself, "This is simply someone's ideas which were committed to paper over three months ago."

SMITH: I got it from a source who was sympathetic to one of Giuliani's opponents. And the source said it had been left behind during his kind of pre-election campaign swing.

SNOW: Smith declined to show us the entire document, saying he was keeping it in a safe place.

But one page he provided shows the Giuliani camp aims to raise at least $100 million in 2007 alone. Smith says the strategy shows Giuliani is planning to run, but says there are also concerns expressed among staff that he may also drop out.

Giuliani has not yet formally announced he's seeking the Republican nomination for president, but he has formed an exploratory committee to test the waters.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: The latest CNN poll of registered Republicans taken by Opinion Research Corporation has Giuliani the frontrunner with 29 percent. He's slightly ahead of Arizona's John McCain as the choice to head the 2008 ticket. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, we just told you about a moment ago, also in that pack, but almost a quarter of those polled said they had no opinion whatsoever on the issue. ROBERTS: Still a little ways to go yet to form those opinions.

The blizzard in four western states may be over, but finding and feeding hundreds of thousands of snowbound cattle and other livestock is still a real concern out there. Here's a picture of New Mexico, just one of the places where helicopters are dropping bales of hay for stranded herds. Colorado has already lost a thousand head of cattle because of the snow, and the fate of its nearly $2 billion cattle industry is on the line.

Addie Nolton of our affiliate KRQE has more from New Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADDIE KNOWLTON, REPORTER, KRQE (voice over): Thirty inches of snow pounded Union County last week. Ten to 15-foot drifts have many people near Des Moines and Folsom snowed in, and their cattle stranded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we've had a serious problem up here. We've had just more snow than, you know, is possible to take care of.

KNOWLTON: Tim Morrow (ph) has more than 1,000 head of cattle. He has been able to use front-end loaders to dig a path and get feed to most of them. But he cannot get to about 200 head on top of a mesa just west of Capulin Mountain. The cattle haven't been fed for nearly a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need help. We're -- we're -- the days are numbered for the cattle. They're just -- we're going to have to do something in the next few days or the cattle will start dying.

KNOWLTON: Desperate to take a look at his stranded cattle, Morrow (ph) went up in Sky Ranger to check on them. They were stuck but still alive.

Ranchers are helping each other dig out. We took one man in Sky Ranger to his bulldozer which was stuck on top of a mesa. Once there, he was able to start opening up the way for stranded ranchers and make a trail for these hungry cattle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: A lot of work to do out there. Addie Knowlton of our Albuquerque affiliate KRQE with that report for us this morning -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Much more ahead this morning. Chad's got your traveler's forecast coming up next.

Also, who recorded the shouting and the insults? Who had the video phone at all? We're talking to a witness to the Saddam execution straight ahead.

We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We continue a developing story this morning.

Iraq's government now launching an investigation into just who recorded the hanging of Saddam Hussein on a cell phone and just who was shouting those sectarian insults until the very end. Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, he was there for the execution. He's on the phone for us this morning.

Nice to talk to you, Mr. al-Rubaie. Thank you. Appreciate your time.

The prosecutor who attended the execution says, in fact, sir, that it was your cell phone that recorded the execution, it was your cell phone that we're now seeing on televisions and on the Web everywhere.

Is that accurate?

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think the executioner has said this and the inspector general has said this. Actually, if you look at the -- at the work site (ph) of the newspaper which has the (INAUDIBLE) has taken it back and they have removed it from their Web site.

O'BRIEN: OK. Then how about, was it your phone?

AL-RUBAIE: So, that's...

O'BRIEN: Was it your cell phone that recorded the execution?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, I -- as far as the Iraqi officials are concerned, I do not think that any of them were carrying cell phones during the time of the execution.

O'BRIEN: So no Iraqi officials were carrying cell phones.

AL-RUBAIE: Right. One in the Green Zone by the American guards and the other before they enter into the execution chamber, also by the American guards. And...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Are you saying that you did not have a cell phone in there?

AL-RUBAIE: I don't think any of the Iraqi officials who were accompanying the 16 of us from the prime minister's office who accompanied or witnessed the execution has been carrying any of these cell phones. As far as I'm concerned, I did not see anyone who was doing this video.

But I -- when we arrived to the scene, we had seen quite a few people who we cannot account for and, other than the execution team, they were present there, and they may -- I mean, I have seen at least three or four people who are doing this still camera and video camera, the recordings.

O'BRIEN: So are you telling -- forgive me. Let me interrupt you here for a second. So, first, are you telling me that you did not have a cell phone on you during the execution? Is that what you're saying?

AL-RUBAIE: I was not carrying any cell phone, and I was not allowed to. And all the cell phones were taken by the American guards in the Green Zone, and also before we entered into the execution chambers.

O'BRIEN: So who were the people who had cell phones in the execution chamber? Because clearly what we're looking at right now is cell phone videotape.

AL-RUBAIE: There were two official photographers. One of the video and the other one a still camera guy.

But the other guys who were -- some of the guards guarding the place were carrying cell phones. (INAUDIBLE) the executioners as well, some of them were carrying them. And people who -- we found when we arrived to the scene, we found them there because the number of people (INAUDIBLE) by the Americans on their (INAUDIBLE) were 16 people. These are the Iraqi officials. They were searched meticulously, carefully, properly on two sides, one before we get into the helicopters and when we got off the helicopters to go into the scene.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. And because we have kind of a difficult connection here, I'm just going to ask you to speak very clearly and also just answer one question at a time, if you will.

You had said in an interview with Arwa Damon that there was no humiliation of Saddam Hussein when he was alive or after he was executed. We now know, because we can hear on this cell phone videotape, that there were insults that were shouted, sectarian insults, "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada." "Go to hell" was another insult.

Do you think that -- would you like to change what you said to Arwa Damon and the fact that there was humiliation of Saddam Hussein?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, what is the -- I don't think there was any intentional sectarian lynching. I believe the whole process has been infiltrated by people from -- probably people who have a vested interest in escalating the violence. And they have -- they wanted to promote a political cause for themselves or for their groups or for their leader or whatever. But I believe the Iraqi government has done the proper thing.

But things went not in the way we wanted to happen. There was some behavior which was unacceptable from some people, but some of them -- some of these reactions were a natural reaction.

It should not have happened. It should have been -- they should have respect for the occasion and the event, but I think some of them, they were natural reactions.

O'BRIEN: Mowaffak al-Rubaie is the national security adviser in Iraq.

Thank you for talking with us. Thank you for dealing with that tough connection there. We had ha little bit of difficulty hearing you -- John.

ROBERTS: Forty-seven minutes -- coming up to 48 minutes after the hour now. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center with the traveler's forecast and more bad news for the Northwest today, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just this pineapple express as we call it, John.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Did you see this yesterday? This was my favorite story of the day yesterday. You know, the winning run.

MYERS: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: Down on one knee after scoring the winning run. Boise State runningback Ian Johnson (ph) is the guy who's proposing right there to his girlfriend, cheerleader Christie Popadiks (ph).

It's happening on national television right at the conclusion of the Fiesta Bowl. And they had just won.

They completed an undefeated season. It was a really good year and a really good day for Ian (ph) there. I think he ran for over a hundred yards.

Anyway, they're going to talk to us, blah, blah, blah, about the game. They're going to talk to us about the engagement in our 8:00 hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: A little young to be getting married don't you think, these days?

O'BRIEN: Well, but not young to be getting engaged. Who knows when they're getting married.

ROBERTS: True.

O'BRIEN: We'll ask them all of that.

ROBERTS: True. All right.

Election bombshell, from a few decades ago, anyway. A former Democratic powerhouse reveals a secret about how much he trusted President Ford.

And the high cost of cancer. New research about how it's not just the pain and expense of treatment that's costing Americans. Dr. Sanjay Gupta pays a "House Call" when AMERICAN MORNING returns. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: You're looking at a live picture outside of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Local folks lining up there to pay their last respects to the 38th president of the United States, who will be interred in a hillside tomb on the museum property later this afternoon.

Well, last night on "LARRY KING LIVE," we learned something new about Gerald Ford. A surprising revelation from George McGovern. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972 who lost to Richard Nixon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE MCGOVERN, FMR. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to tell you something I never said publicly. I voted for him in 1976 when he...

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What?

MCGOVERN: Yes, I did. And at Thanksgiving dinner that year I never said anything about this to Eleanor or to our five children, but I told them at Thanksgiving time I had voted for President Ford, even though he lost, and I told them why, because I thought he had come in at a difficult time.

I didn't know President Carter very well then. And I just felt more comfortable somehow with Jerry Ford, whereupon my wife Eleanor said, "So did I vote for him."

We went around that table. This is hard to believe. All five of my kids voted for him. So he got seven votes out of the McGovern family for President Ford and Senator Dole, my longtime Republican friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, Larry King said it all there with that one word, "What?"

George McGovern voted for Gerald Ford in 1976. McGovern did say, though, that he came back and voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980.

And a reminder that you can catch Larry King every night at 9:00 Eastern.

So there's a lesson for you. If you want to become president, hope George McGovern doesn't vote for you, because he picked the loser twice.

O'BRIEN: Not a lot of political secrets, and he kept that one for a long time.

Ahead this morning, Ali's got the scoop about a boardroom shakeup at Friendly's. He's "Minding Your Business" straight ahead. And the pride of Baltimore. We're going to go home with Nancy Pelosi. She's about to become the first woman ever to be speaker of the House.

Stay with us. AMERICAN MORNING continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Fifty-eight minutes after the hour now. One company getting tough on its former CEO.

Ali Velshi here "Minding Your Business."

Good morning, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

I used to love looking through the catalogues of this company or going through the store, Sharper Image. It was founded a long time ago.

A guy named Richard Thalheimer founded it in 1977, and until last September he was the company's CEO. Now, Richard Thalheimer had a deal that he signed in 2002 that said when he retired he would get a retirement package that came to no less than $5 million. It turns out that his retirement package is going to be less than $5 million, because the company is cutting more than $3 million out of it, saying that the options that he got which he did very well on more than offset the actual package he was going to get.

Now, the company is not saying whether anything to do with those options was wrong. However, it is investigating its options-granting practices for discrepancies. And these days, John, discrepancies tends to mean backdating.

But the company isn't commenting on that. We're getting all of that from an SEC filing.

Over at Friendly's Ice Cream, here's an interesting story. There's been a shareholder who has been piling up on shares. He's got more than a million shares now.

A guy named Sardar Biglari from Texas, he's been very critical of the company's management, say that it's got poor corporate governance, poor operations, poor stock performance and a weak stock price. And he's been wanting a seat on the board for the last few months.

Well, they gave him one last month on the condition that he doesn't solicit votes for things that the board doesn't agree with. Now, I should tell you, this is where board problems start.

The idea is that if you want to come on this board, you can't complain or do anything about the things that you don't like. So, good on this gentleman, he has declined that seat on the board. Shame on Friendly's -- Soledad, John.

O'BRIEN: Well, you can't do that. You come on the board but you're not allowed to bring up issues?

VELSHI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I mean...

VELSHI: That's exactly where all these problems start. Let the guy come on the board and say what he thinks and solicit votes for what he thinks.

O'BRIEN: That's strange.

VELSHI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And a little obvious even.

VELSHI: Of an ice cream place, no less.

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