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THE SITUATION ROOM
Six Miners Trapped by Cave-in; Edwards Takes Aim at Bill Clinton
Aired August 6, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now -- breaking news, coal miners trapped by a cave-in. Rescue efforts are under way in Utah right now. We'll have the latest on the fate of the miners and what caused the collapse.
Also this hour -- Rudy Giuliani's daughter throws a political dart at her dad. She is reportedly backing Barack Obama for president.
And John Edwards takes a new shot at rival Hillary Clinton, by taking aim at her husband. Will Edwards' strategy backfire?
Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
First this hour, the breaking news out of central Utah. A desperate race against the clock to find six miners missing after a cave-in at a coal mine. Our Brian Todd is following the story very closely. Brian, what is the latest on this breaking news?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, we're told by an official by the federal agency that oversees the mining industry that rescue teams are within about a half mile from where they believed the miners were working, but they have received no communication yet from the trapped miners. A federal official tells us they believe the miners were about four miles in from the mine entrance when the collapse occurred, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were four miles down. It could be somewhat inside the mountain and parallel to the ground and then down a little bit and then inside some more. Now it's not clear whether the miners have usable oxygen with them or not. The "Associated Press" is quoting a local official out there as saying that if they survived this collapse, they could have enough oxygen to last several days. The local officials are coordinating the rescue efforts with the mine's owner. Federal officials also coordinating that. This is called the Crandall Canyon mine. It is owned by Genwal Resources Incorporated. Officials with the mining safety and health administration say they first were notified of this event at 5:40 eastern time this morning. Suzanne that is what we know at the moment.
MALVEAUX: Brian, obviously there's the talk about the mining technique that's actually used that could actually have an impact on their survival.
TODD: That's right. This is called, we're told by an official with the United Mine Workers Association and by a top mine expert named Davitt McAteer, he's also a former federal mining official, that this is what's being called retreat mining. And essentially what you do there is you advance into a mine by cutting in a checkerboard pattern. If you cut in and say, the light square pattern, you create passageways and rooms in that particular pattern. Pillars of coal in the dark square pattern are left when you do that. When you retreat out of the mine, you pull those dark square pillars out with heavy equipment. You want the ceiling to collapse at those points, because if it does not, these experts say there's more pressure on the ceiling that remains. They say this is a very dangerous method of mining. Davitt McAteer says he has recommended that it be stopped.
MALVEAUX: What do we know about the seismic event that's actually happened here? A lot of questions still.
TODD: We were initially told that a small earthquake might have caused this collapse, now UMWA officials and also Davitt McAteer say the collapse itself might have caused the seismic activity. Experts say that is not unusual when mines collapse. We're still waiting to get a little bit more information on that.
MALVEAUX: OK, Brian thanks, we'll be getting back to you often to get the latest news on that. Hopefully it will be good news.
To take a closer look now at the search and rescue effort, mine safety investigator David McAteer joining us by phone. Thank you so much for being here with us. Obviously he investigated last year's Sago mine disaster in which 12 miners died. We thank you once again for being here. We want to start off by asking you, this AP reporting now from a local official that if these miners survived the cave-in that they could have enough oxygen to survive for several days. Does that sound accurate to you?
DAVID MCATEER, MINE SAFETY INVESTIGATOR: Yes. Since Sago there has been an increase in the number of self-contained self-rescuers that have been required and used in the mines. And I know a number of companies have put in self-contained self-rescuers. So, we should have a good supply of oxygen for the miners underground in this setting. We hope that that's the case anyway. But it seems that would be the process to give the miners a chance to get out by having enough oxygen.
MALVEAUX: And those miners, what are they trained to do in a situation like that? When they have their oxygen tanks but obviously they are trapped inside?
MCATEER: Well, we have a situation where we don't have an explosion so we don't have bad air in effect. We have had a rock formation change. We've had what is called a rock outburst or a bump. It's a significant release of energy among the rock. And that's what registered as an earthquake. And if they survived that change and rock burst, then they would have to use their oxygen. They could use their oxygen sparingly and they could check the air to see if there were any -- it could create some problems with the air, but generally speaking, they would be in pretty good air. And they have to be OK from the standpoint of the quantity of air that they have. MALVEAUX: Now, are they trained in a situation to stay together, to huddle together in one place or to actually move to try to get to where the rescuers are?
MCATEER: Well, the first and always the primary thought of a miner and their training is to try to escape. Your first principle is to try to get out as best you can. With these rock bursts kind of problems, however, it may mean that passages that you would ordinarily use would be closed and would be blocked by the falling rock that occurred when the changes -- when this outburst occurred. So, if they found themselves, they would first and continue to try to escape. And if they couldn't escape, then they would try to assemble the self- contained self-rescuers and perhaps as much lunch or food that they have, as much water as they could put together, and the second principle is always stay together and stay with your individuals. Third, they would look and see if there are any ways to communicate with the surface by telephone message or some other means.
MALVEAUX: Speaking of telephone message, has been there any communication with these miners at all, and how would you establish a connection with them, to actually communicate with them underground?
MCATEER: To my knowledge there's been no communication with them. The systems that we have in place are systems that we have found to be wanting in Sago and may be wanting here. They are landlines and it's doubtful that they would have survived through this change in the earths -- the pressure and the drops that may have occurred. It would be doubtful that they would have survived that.
MALVEAUX: Would they be able to communicate, say, through something if it wasn't cell phone communication obviously through Morse code or how would you actually establish finding out where they are located and if, in fact, they're still alive?
MCATEER: That's one of the shortcomings that we found after Sago was that we don't have a secondary and a tertiary means of communication. We don't have the cell phone techniques that work through the surface to the earth and we don't have the others. We've looked at some new technologies with the leaky feeder system and some other technologies, but as yet they have not been introduced into the mines generally speaking. I can't speak to this mine, but as a rule we're still relying upon the older systems and that's one of the things we desperately need to change in the mines in this country.
MALVEAUX: Well Davitt McAteer, thank you so much for joining us. Obviously we'll get back to you as this story warrants, as we get more information. Thank you very much, Davitt McAteer.
The investigation into Wednesday's horrific bridge collapse in Minneapolis is picking up speed as well. Divers are getting help as they look for at least eight people who are still missing. Our Susan Roesgen is at the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. Susan, the divers are there. What can you tell us about the search? Do we have new information today?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we do. Because the divers have new equipment today. Now I'm standing, Suzanne, as you can see, about 25 yards or so from the bridge. As you look at the bridge, it's just amazing that more people weren't killed. The divers here are looking for those eight missing people. FBI divers and navy divers, especially-trained divers in salvage and in body retrieval. The FBI team has brought with them basically an unmanned sub. It's a small sort of rover that they can lower into the water. It has very powerful underwater lights and it has a super sophisticated sonar system. That sonar system will allow the FBI to actually map objects on the bottom of the river, Suzanne. And then that, in turn, would give the divers who had visibility of only a few inches a better look at what's going on down there and possibly a chance to retrieve those bodies.
MALVEAUX: And, Susan, it's absolutely amazing. You still see those pictures and they are still shocking today as they were last week. Obviously a painful situation for the families of the victims. What are they doing today?
ROESGEN: Well, they're really just waiting on pins and needles. One of the family members has given her husband's dental records and x-rays to the medical examiner in case his body is found. They get frequent updates from the sheriff's office out here and they were allowed over the weekend Suzanne to come out here and get down on the riverbanks themselves and see what's made this search so slow and so dangerous for the divers. So they have a sense of closure that at least the searchers are doing all that they can to try to find those eight missing people.
MALVEAUX: Susan Roesgen, thanks so much for covering such a difficult story.
Time now for THE CAFFERTY FILE. Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York. Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY: It turns out the democratically controlled 110th congress may be more worthless than the bunch that preceded them, if that's possible. Listen to this -- over the weekend before leaving town for a month long vacation, the democratically controlled congress handed President Bush exactly what he wanted, more than he asked for even. Legislation that broadly expands the administration's power to eavesdrop without warrants on Americans' international phone calls and e-mails. "The New York Times" reports the democratically controlled congress went beyond what the administration had said was needed in order to get information about foreign terrorists. Basically, the new law changes the legal definition of electronic surveillance. It allows the government to latch on to giant telecommunications switches in the U.S. without warrants, as long as the target is reasonably believed to be overseas. It also allows the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and the director of national intelligence, rather than the FISA court to oversee and approve this surveillance. And it makes it easier for the administration to force the telephone companies to cooperate.
Here's what an editorial in "The Washington Post" said about this today. Quoting now. "To call this legislation ill considered is to give it too much credit. It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers of the democratically controlled congress by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law. Democrats could have stuck to their guns and insisted on their version, but instead, they were nervous about being blamed for a terrorist attack and, of course, eager to get out of town for their vacation, so they accepted the unacceptable," unquote. Quoting a "Washington Post" editorial. Here's the question, "Should the democratically controlled congress have expanded the Bush administration's authority to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants?" E-mail us at email@example.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. They should be real proud of themselves. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Jack, talked to a lot of people this weekend. Very controversial issue. I'm sure you'll be getting a lot of responses on that one.
It is a campaign version of daddy dearest. It seems Rudy Giuliani's daughter is backing another presidential candidate. We're looking into this family feud.
Plus, one White House hopeful drops a bombshell, and a state department calls it crazy. Are some candidates' foreign policy plans undermining U.S. diplomacy?
And Mitt Romney gets riled up over questions about his faith and his stance on abortion. Will it help him win Iowa? You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: A new personal and political embarrassment today for Rudy Giuliani. His daughter reportedly is taking their family feud to a new level by backing Barack Obama for president. Our Mary Snow is here, and what do we know about Caroline Giuliani's feelings about her father and his campaign? Obviously it's just another controversy.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it is, Suzanne. What we do know is that Rudy Giuliani has had some distance with his two children that has been widely reported. But it seems it may have spilled over into the presidential race. The online magazine "Slate" reports the 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani listed membership in the group 1 million strong for Barack. This was on her Facebook profile page. Now "Slate" says when it contacted her about it earlier today that the Obama group was removed from her web page and that page also lists her political views as liberal. When asked for a comment, a spokeswoman for Caroline Giuliani said in a statement, "Before the presidential campaign got under way Caroline added herself to a list on Facebook as an expression of interest in certain principles. It was not intended as an indication of support in a presidential campaign and she's removed it. Caroline is not commenting on the 2008 election." Now as for his reaction, Rudy Giuliani, the Republican presidential hopeful said earlier today, "My daughter I love very much. I have great respect for her and I'm really proud of her and I don't comment on children, because I want to give them the maximum degree of privacy." Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: And there has been tension before between Rudy Giuliani and his kids throughout this campaign.
SNOW: Yeah, you may remember back in March, Andrew Giuliani, that's his 21-year-old son, was quoted by "The New York Times" saying that he had had some trouble with Giuliani's third wife, Judith Nathan. And Giuliani had married Nathan after a messy divorce with Donna Hanover who is the mother of his two children. Andrew Giuliani had said at the time that he had been estranged with his father. Didn't say how long. But at that time as well Rudy Giuliani had asked for privacy.
MALVEAUX: Well, it will be very interesting to see if this either hurts him or helps him in the long run. A very messy situation. Thank you, Mary.
MALVEAUX: And one Republican presidential contender got a scolding today from the State Department. New questions are being raised about the way several candidates are contradicting U.S. diplomatic policy. Let's bring in our own State Department correspondent Zain Verjee. The State Department seems to be quite angry and not amused at all of this campaigning that's going on with some of these guys and the things that they're saying.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: No, exactly, Suzanne, it isn't. The State Department has really not been too happy about some of these comments presidential candidates are just firing off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be a long campaign season.
VERJEE (voice-over): Here we go again. In the heat of presidential campaigns, diplomacy doesn't matter. Tough talk that grabs headlines does. Democratic Senator Barack Obama says, he wouldn't hesitate to use military force in Pakistan.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.
VERJEE: Senator Hillary Clinton says she won't rule out the option of using nuclear weapons against terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Republican Tom Tancredo has threatened to target the holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina to deter any nuclear attack on U.S. soil. The State Department blasted Tancredo's strategy as quote, "crazy."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The remarks are simply outrageous.
VERJEE: Tancredo may not mind running against the Washington establishment.
REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, the State Department, boy, when they start complaining about things I say, I feel a lot better about the things I say.
VERJEE: The U.S. is trying to convince many in the Muslim world that the war on terror is not a war on Islam. Would you prefer they shut up when it comes to sensitive issues?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a democracy, there's a thing called free speech. But there's also things -- a thing called the executive branch and we have responsibility for what U.S. government policy is.
VERJEE: The (INAUDIBLE) also says today that it's important Suzanne for people abroad who just hear the headlines and not the details of the campaign to know that nothing they're saying is U.S. government policy. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Zain, I understand obviously Pakistan is a key ally with the United States in the war on terror. I talked to the Pakistani ambassador who said he's not even dignifying these remarks with a comment. But what did they tell you?
VERJEE: They're pretty angry and upset by it as you may have judged by the interview that you had. One government official also said that look, this is unethical. This is immoral, you know, to attack Pakistan and Islam in general in this way. This was all about just winning votes. That's it.
MALVEAUX: Zain, thank you so much.
I want to bring our viewers back to that breaking news story that we have been following that in central Utah. That of the mine collapse. We are getting a new sound now of this rescue effort that is under way to find these miners. New sound from our affiliate. Let's take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any idea how long this could [ inaudible ]?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say, and I'm just speculating, it could take as much as 48 hours. But if there is an open area in there, there's water and air, far beyond that. And so 48 hours won't mean much if -- if the damage from the earth -- earthquake didn't actually contact their bodies and cause damage in that regard.
We are trying to gain access to these men four different ways. And one of these will get to them first. It's just a matter of which one. And, of course, we'll all be here until we get them out.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And just to recap that story that we're following, breaking news obviously. There are six miners that are trapped underneath after a mine collapse. We are getting reports that this is -- this is -- that these men actually probably have some oxygen tanks with them and that would allow them perhaps a couple of days to survive, if they survived the cave-in. If they were not actually crushed by some of the falling debris. We have talked to several officials who are saying that perhaps it's a good chance if they get to them, that they will be together and if they have the food and water that is necessary and the oxygen that perhaps they stand a good chance of survival. Obviously, this a developing story. We'll bring you more as it unfolds.
The Taliban threat in Afghanistan, is up for discussion. President Bush and President Hamid Karzai update the danger from forces Mr. Bush once described as brutal, cold-blooded killers.
And, in the presidential race, one candidate may be flat lining. Paul Begala and Terry Jeffrey are standing by for our "strategy session."
MALVEAUX: Carol Costello is monitoring the wires keeping an eye on all the video feeds from around the world. She joins us now with the very latest. Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO: Hi Suzanne. It's been a roller coaster day for wall street and it's ended on a good note for investors after Friday's sharp drop. The Dow shot up more than 2 percent today as investors snapped up shares of financial companies at bargain prices. Wall street is bracing for tomorrow's federal reserve meeting on interest rates.
There is another distress signal today from the ailing mortgage industry. The nation's 10th biggest home lender, American Home Mortgage Investment Corporation, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The downturn in the housing market and a spike in mortgage payment defaults has been scaring off investors. American Home shares have sunk from more than $35 last year to just 44 cents today.
President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are vowing to root out the Taliban from the hideouts in Afghanistan's mountains. In a joint news conference at Camp David today, Karzai called the Taliban a defeated force which attacks civilians but is not a threat to his government. Mr. Bush says there's still work to be done in Afghanistan but he added there has been progress.
Police in Newark, New Jersey, want to know who shot to death three young men at close range and seriously injured a 19 year old woman. It happened in an elementary school parking lot on Saturday night. Authorities say the victims were listening to music when a group of men approached them. The friends text messaged each other to leave, but were shot execution style. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information. That's a look at the headlines right now Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Carol, thank you so much.
John Edwards is taking a new shot at Hillary Clinton by taking aim at her husband. The tactic of blasting Bill Clinton any way to win the votes of Democrats. And Mitt Romney turns up the volume in Iowa. Will it help him ease concerns about his Mormon faith or his change of heart on abortion?
MALVEAUX: Happening now -- a race against time in Utah. Six miners are trapped in a collapsed coal mine. We'll take a close look at whether this could happen in other mines across the country.
And a stunning new video from Al Qaeda. An American Jihadist threatens U.S. embassies and interests around the world.
And a Florida lawmaker is in big trouble with the law. State Representative Bob Allen was arrested and accused of soliciting an undercover cop. Wait until you hear what he says made him do it.
Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's the man on top in Iowa and because of that, Mitt Romney is feeling the heat. The Republican presidential candidate is fending off new attacks on his evolution on abortion. Our Tom Foreman is covering all of the action.
And, Tom, obviously, how is Romney responding to his rivals and others? Clearly just another heated battle.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's doing what all of these big politicians do at this time, he's pumping up the volume just days before an important Republican straw poll in Iowa.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not here to discuss a religion.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Mitt Romney on a conservative talk radio show in Iowa Thursday morning. But when host Jan Mickelson went to a commercial break, accusing Romney of distancing himself from his Mormon faith on the issue of abortion, things got heated.
ROMNEY: I mean, don't like coming on the air and having you go after my church and me and my...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going after your -- I agree with your church!
ROMNEY: I know, that's right. But I'm not running as a Mormon. And I get a little tired of coming on a show like yours and having it all about Mormon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, I don't mind it being about that.
ROMNEY: Yes, I do. I do.
FOREMAN: The former Massachusetts governor is hoping to become the first Mormon elected president. As Romney rises in the polls in Iowa, however, he's facing more attacks from his rivals on his change of stance on abortion.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Facts are very stubborn things, but Governor Romney has been pro-choice. They've supported a pro-choice position.
ROMNEY: I get tired of people who are holier-than-thou because they've been pro-life longer than I have.
FOREMAN: And Romney calls his earlier abortion position his greatest mistake.
ROMNEY: From a political standpoint and a personal standpoint, the greatest mistake was when I first ran for office being deeply opposed to abortion, but saying I support the current law which was pro-choice and effectively a pro-choice position. That was just wrong.
FOREMAN: With rivals Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain skipping a major straw poll in Iowa this Saturday, Romney needs to win big.
AMY WALTER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The person who finishes first there can really hold the mantel of being a consensus conservative. Romney is hoping to do very well there.
FOREMAN: So the Ames, Iowa, straw poll could be a major test for Romney anyway. A strong showing now could help shield him from these attacks on his abortion stance and, after all, the Iowa Caucuses are dominated by social conservative voters. And if they can look beyond his stance here and give him the win, it will be a big win -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Yes. We'll see how it all plays out then. See if it works for him. Thanks, again, Tom.
And today is the first day of Congress' summer recess. Lawmakers went home on something of a sour note. Our new Capitol Hill correspondent Jessica Yellin is here. Jessica, I'm glad you are now on our team here. I competed against you when you were at the White House. So it's very good that we're working together now.
Obviously, this is kind of an ugly good-bye, wouldn't you say?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure was, Suzanne. Speaker Pelosi took control of Congress pledging a different kind of leadership and vowing to deliver on a list of promises. But chaos in the final hours before August recess threatens to overshadow Democrats' accomplishments.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN (voice-over): It was a partisan meltdown on the House floor. Just before recessing for the summer, Republicans rebelled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell the truth!
YELLIN: Charging Democrats with stealing a vote. So, they've walked out. It didn't help when a technical glitch halted voting the next day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the engineers are working on the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mikes, now the mikes don't even work.
YELLIN: And both sides lobbed bitter attacks against their colleagues.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Enough is enough.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Parliamentary (INAUDIBLE), Madam Speaker! (INAUDIBLE)!
YELLIN: It could be worse. No one has emulated Taiwan's legislature, not yet. Now, Republicans are charging the Democrats with running a do-nothing Congress.
THOMAS MANN, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Take with a grain of salt both the claims of enormous achievements by the majority Democrats and the claim of do-nothing by the minority Republicans.
YELLIN: As promised, the Democrats have delivered bills implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, enacting lobbying and ethics reform, increasing the minimum wage and funding embryonic stem cell research, though this measure was vetoed.
Still, they have not made good on all their promises. Crucially, no progress on the key issue for the Democrats, changing U.S. policy in Iraq.
YELLIN: And perhaps their biggest challenge when they return in September is making headway in changing the president's policy in Iraq. Public opinion of Congress has dropped since the Democrats took office, and experts say that's largely because people are dissatisfied they have not forced a change of course in Iraq -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And, Jessica, we know in the fall that clearly Iraq is going to be the dominant controversy. But obviously there are going to be more confrontations that they're focusing on. What do you think is going to spill out after this recess?
YELLIN: Well, one of the big challenges ahead is the Democrats have to get 12 spending bills to the president's desk. And you know this, Mr. Bush has threatened to veto already more than half of them. So the Republicans, they are primed for a showdown over spending and it does not look like the partisan rancor is likely to die down anytime soon -- Suzanne.
SMZ Jessica, we know you'll be hitting the beat on that end. I'll hitting the beat on the White House end. Thanks again, it's really good to have you here, first day here at CNN.
Jessica Yellin and Tom Foreman are both part of the best political team on television. And, remember, for the latest political news at any time, check out the "Political Ticker" at cnn.com/ticker.
Hillary Clinton's rivals have a new source of ammunition against her and they're using it more and more. We'll look at the Democratic presidential frontrunners' cash ties to lobbyists.
And military officers under fire for speaking out about their religious beliefs. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: Democrat John Edwards today is taking an indirect swipe at former President Bill Clinton. The White House hopeful told Iowa voters that past presidents, including Clinton, allowed corporate insiders to shape trade policy, costing Americans jobs. It appears to be a new effort by Edwards to highlight Hillary Clinton's ties to special interest groups and her will willingness to accept campaign cash from lobbyists.
Another Clinton rival, Barack Obama, is pursuing that line of attack today as well. Also appearing in Iowa, Obama said Senator Clinton's relationship with lobbyists will be a critical issue in the Democratic primary. CNN's Kathleen Koch is following this story.
Kathleen, this is becoming a new hot button obviously in the Democratic race.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is, Suzanne, because as we all know, money is the big driver in presidential politics.
KOCH (voice-over): It's a pledge both Barack Obama and John Edwards tout with pride, not to take money from Washington lobbyists. For frontrunner Hillary Clinton does, to the tune so far of $400,000. It put her on the defense in a Democratic forum this weekend.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans. They actually do. They represent nurses. They represent, you know, social workers. They represent -- yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.
KOCH: Edwards took on that assertion asking for a show of hands of audience members with Washington lobbyists.
JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You are not represented by Washington lobbyists. We need to cut these people off. KOCH: But the Center for Responsive Politics says some $10,000 in local North Carolina lobbyist money has ended up in Edwards' campaign coffers. Yet the Edwards campaign insists there has been no talk of banning lobbyist dollars representing local interests. And the center points out although Washington lobbyists may pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into politicians campaigns, PACs and big corporate donors can pony up millions.
MASSIE RITSCH, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: Lobbyists are not necessarily the most generous to the candidates, but they do get a lot of attention because it's very easy to point at them and say, well, these are the special interests. These are the people who most represent the big moneyed interests that are trying to influence policy.
KOCH: Political experts agree that while Washington lobbyists do represent the interests of many grassroots Americans, Senator Clinton could have a tough time making her case.
STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The problem is she's making more of an analytical argument about the way the system works and everybody has lobbyists, and her role as a legislator. While Senator Edwards is simply getting the emotional advantage of portraying her as somebody who is close to lobbyists and big business and the establishment. And presidential races are a lot about emotion and gut.
KOCH: So expect Democratic candidates to increasingly exploit what they see as weakness in the front-runner and expect increasing attention to lobbyists' cash that manages to sneak in. For example, the Edwards campaign today is pledging to return a $4,600 donation by the bank Credit Suisse which is registered, it turns out, as a Washington lobbyist -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And, Kathleen, it's interesting, all the candidates have had to deal with those questions about donations and contributions so...
KOCH: That they have.
MALVEAUX: Probably all heat up in the interim. Thanks again, Kathleen.
KOCH: You bet.
MALVEAUX: Some military officers are in hot water for going very public with their religious beliefs while in uniform. CNN's Barbara Starr is joining us with the fallout.
Barbara, what did these officers actually do?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the question is this, there's that old saying that there's no atheists if in a foxhole. The question now is, is there a little too much religion in the hallways of the Pentagon?
STARR (voice-over): Seven military officers, including four generals engaged in misconduct three years ago when they appeared in a 12-minute video endorsing a Christian evangelical group. That finding came from the Pentagon's own inspector general after investigating a promotional film made by a group called Christian Embassy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christian Embassy really gives us a tremendous opportunity here in the Pentagon as leaders that carry a lot of responsibility on our shoulders on a daily basis to stop and reflect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a brother in the Lord, in these right fellowship groups. And I immediately feel like I'm being held accountable because we're the aroma of Jesus Christ.
STARR: The problem? Military members are not supposed to endorse a specific religious group while in uniform.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, PRES. MILITARY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FDN.: They were absolutely proselytizing. That was all that they were doing. I told you, our researchers have now found that numbers of them have actually led Christian Embassy Bible studies. They were well aware what this was about.
STARR: The report has unsettled some chaplains.
COL. WILLIAM BROOME, PENTAGON CHAPLAIN: As a Christian, I should be able to say that my religion helps me to be a better Army chaplain or Army officer. I should be able to say that without worrying about whether or not I've crossed some type of a line.
STARR: Now, Suzanne, several of the generals have apologized, saying they didn't realize it was a promotional religious video. Nonetheless, the military is looking into this further, taking possible "corrective action," in their words, against some of the generals. And, still, there are many people out there who wonder just how much influence the group Christian Embassy has in these Pentagon hallways -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thank you very much.
The U.S. Army prohibits a number of other activities while in uniform. Among them: working an off-duty civilian job; working on behalf of any commercial or political interest; involvement in public speeches, interviews or demonstrations unless specifically authorized; attending an event or meeting involving an extremist organization or any behavior that would discredit the Army.
Coming up in the "Strategy Session," John Edwards takes aim at big business. But can the former vice presidential candidate ride the issue past the frontrunners? And on the Republican side, not everything's happy on the home front for Rudy Giuliani. His daughter seems to have a hankering for Senator Obama. What that means for the Republican's leading candidate? We don't know, but Terry Jeffrey and Paul Begala are standing by here in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about it.
MALVEAUX: I want to take you straight to that mining collapse. There's a briefing that is taking place, in central Utah, to give an update on the situation concerning those missing six miners. Let's take a listen.
ROBERT MURRAY, MURRAY ENERGY CORPORATION: ... a drilling rig, which was given the coordinates this morning, to the helicopter people. We found a drilling rig, and we're up here on the national forest now, with the helicopter and a drilling rig, drilling into where we know these people are. We know where these six people are. That's one thing we're knowing. I don't think that's the quickest way we're going to get to them. And time is of the essence.
The second way is we're looking at horizontal drilling in the mine. We've not started that yet, because that's after we try two other methods. Those of you who have been here all day have seen numerous trucks coming in here hauling equipment and men coming in.
We're sparing no expense to bring every mining machine that we have in Utah in here that we can get access to quickly so that we can mine to these people. They're right here. See, they're at breakthrough 136.
Our rescue crews have been able to come up here and get within 1,700 feet of them. And then the debris from the rips and the roof, they couldn't go any further. So, we're bringing in two machine mining machinery -- two mining machinery equipment. And we're driving here to get access to this chamber.
Now, this area where the roof has come in and the rips have come in could be 100 feet long. It could be 1,700 feet long. We don't know. We don't know. And that's a slow process. But, we're doing it.
And sparing no expense, it's probably 200 Utah American Energy employees in here working right now, plus four rescue teams, two from Utah American and the rest from the other coal companies.
The way that I think we're going to get to them the quickest and the one that we worked on here this morning and Lane (ph) and Darren (ph) and I proposed is we've broken seals here three hours ago in an old set of main entries.
And we're going to try to go in there on apparatus in these old entries that parallel where these men are down through here. We've sent four Stouffer (ph) drills, two compressors and hoses. If we can get through here with men and work our way in through these old workings, we only have 100 feet or so to drive across here to get to those men.
And once -- and the idea is to get a hole in to where they are. You know, they can be in a chamber in there that's 1,000 feet long, or they could be dead. There's no way of knowing right now. And what we need to do is get access to that chamber.
So we're doing four ways to get access, by helicopter and drills on the top of the mountain, by horizontal drilling that will be slow. We have that coming. By continuous miner units actually starting to clean this up here. And by rescue teams that I and Mr. Adare (ph) dispatched this morning with about 20 of our own men and two rescue teams going in through here, breaking these seals and trying to get access so all we have got to do is drill across here in to that chamber.
And that's really all I have to say right now. And please, please excuse me. Let me get back up to the mine. I've been down there talking to the families, and I really need to see how this effort is going.
QUESTION: Sir, your first name, please?
MURRAY: My name is Robert E. Murray. Bob Murray. I'm a director of Utah American Energy, Inc., which is owned by Murray Energy Corporation. I'm the president and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation and the founder, which owns Utah American.
QUESTION: One quick question, that breaking the seals -- the old seals, means you're going in through an old mine, unused mine shaft, sir, is that correct?
MURRAY: Yes, sir, it was mined in 2004, that is correct. It was sealed.
QUESTION: And so you're hoping to be able to get close to where they are and then cut through a wall where you think they are.
MURRAY: With some small drills and get right to them, real close to them, and not worry about drilling 1,700 feet from the surface or -- and get right to them.
QUESTION: And how can you be sure they are where you think they?
MURRAY: Well, they have to be. They can't be anywhere else. We know that. That's where they were when the earthquake happened. We know they're there. And they couldn't have gone out by there because of the materials back here. We're absolutely certain they're there.
QUESTION: Can you share what the four other miners are saying at this point? Is that what gives you the belief that they're right there in that location?
MURRAY: No, it's not from the four miners. We know from our mining experience that's where they are. But, of course, the miners know, have said that is where they are, too. But those miners were out by this area when it happened. So, we know where they are, there is absolutely....
QUESTION: What are they saying, those four miners at this point?
MURRAY: I don't know. I have not spoken to them myself this morning. They gave a brief report and went home.
MURRAY: Well, we're going to use more than one drill. That's for sure, if we can get up there. Because I want to punch through there as fast as we can. And it will be a matter of hours, just a few hours we'll get through there.
QUESTION: Do you know what kind of rock it is?
MURRAY: It's coal. We're going to drill through coal. It's going to be very easy.
MURRAY: No, the seals are way back here. And they're made out of poly -- concrete blocks and major plastics. We're breaking them out with sledgehammers and other big devices, breaking them down and breaking into these old works so we can come down through here and get close to where we know these people are.
Please excuse me now, I need to get up there.
QUESTION: When is your next update, sir?
MURRAY: Two hours, how's that?
GOV. JON HUNTSMAN, UTAH: Yes, our thoughts are with the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families. They're now in Huntington at an undisclosed location. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. I am confident, based upon what I have heard from Mr. Murray that every expense is being made in order to do this right. No stone left unturned. They're bringing in the professionals and all the equipment they need hopefully to make this a successful outcome.
QUESTION: Governor, (OFF-MIKE)
HUNTSMAN: Well, we're here as a backup. I've already talked to the Labor Department, the person who is responsible for mine health and safety. They have sent professionals out. They have equipment here as well. So, we have layer upon layer of expertise.
And I am here because we have 2.7 million people who are very concerned about these miners and want there to be a successful outcome, obviously. So, is everything lined up professionally in terms of what will be needed to do the job? I have every confidence. And I want to make sure that we are here in the event that anything more is needed.
QUESTION: Have you talked to the families or do you plan to talk to the families?
HUNTSMAN: I plan to talk to the families, yes. Yes. Thank you all very much.
MALVEAUX: We were just listening to the governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, who was saying that he has communicated with the Labor Department, layer upon layer of officials and people who are on the scene to hopefully rescue those miners and hopefully it will be a good outcome. Earlier we had heard from Bob Murray. He is the president and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation.
A couple of highlights that he was saying. The conditions of the miners were unknown. He does not know whether or not they are alive or dead. But he did say that there was a briefing that four other miners gave before they went home. And that they gave a location of where those miners are, that he's very confident that they are at that particular location, but they don't know what kind of condition they're in.
He also said that if they are bringing in mining machines, that they are bringing in hoses and compressors, a helicopter. All of this, they say, to try to break entry seals -- multiple entry seals, which he said belonged to an old mine -- mining shaft. They're going to be using small drills to get as close as possible to those missing miners to get to them as quickly as they can.
So obviously, this is a very intense rescue effort that is taking place. Again, they believe that they know the chamber where these individuals are located. But they don't know their conditions at this time. And that's why we heard from Mr. Murray, who said he is sparing no expense and that they are trying to do this as quickly as possible. And obviously we'll be bringing you details as all of this unfolds.
And now we bring in Jack. Jack Cafferty in New York with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, should Congress, the Democratically-controlled Congress, have expanded the Bush administration's authority to eavesdrop on us without warrants? That's what they did over the weekend, voting to give him even more power than they had asked for before they all adjourned and went on vacation for a month. What a group.
Lisa, Fairfax, Virginia: "I can't believe this happened. This is not what the Democratic Congress was elected to do. I want them to restore our civil liberties, not help King Bush and his minions take them away. They all swore to uphold the Constitution. So far all they've done is hold it up to the fire."
Mary writes: "This expansion of the illegal spying program this weekend was the last straw. I'm beginning to think the Republicans are right, these Democrats and most notably, the Democratic leadership are just too cowardly and gutless to be trusted to defend our country.
Claire writes: "The Democrats caved on the issue and allowed themselves to be, as you put it, strong-armed. What's left? Hopeless."
Jonathan in Connecticut: "Of course the Democratic Congress shouldn't have allowed the warrantless wiretapping bill to go through, but these are the same people that keep earmarking funds for a war in Iraq that they were put in office to stop."
Ken in Michigan writes: "For once the Congress appears to be concerned about catching the bad guys. Of course, many Democrats will scream it's a violation of a right to privacy. Did any of them live during World War II and the mock air raids or Cold War duck-and-cover techniques imposed on citizens, especially schoolchildren? If you haven't done anything illegal or unethical, what's to worry about?
Samantha in Arizona writes: "Jack, congratulations to our Congress in backing a president who continues to violate our Constitution and prolong a lie-based war, they have just proven they are not only as corrupt as he is, but that they are completely useless. It's time to keep voting every incumbent out of office."
And Tom in Delaware writes: "The Democrats have joined the Republicans in scuttling the Constitution. I am less afraid of a terrorist attack than I am of my own government" -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jack. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, we know where they are. That is what one official says about breaking news we are following from Utah. Six miners trapped after a coal mine caved in. Officials they are sparing no expense to recover them.
President Bush calls the Taliban "cold-blooded killers." But the president of Afghanistan says they are not a major threat to his government. Does Hamid Karzai's words actually reflect reality?
And he's the Florida state representative accused of trying to pay for a sex act. He has a surprising explanation some call laughable, even racist.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
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