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Mine Rescue Under Way; O'Donnell vs. Coons; The Miners' Mental Health; Countdown To Election Day
Aired October 13, 2010 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, the incredible rescue scene. You love these pictures and you love the story. We do, too.
You are filling our show inbox with e-mails. You're sending us iReports.
You're looking at live pictures from Chile. Just minutes ago, you saw the 16th miner, Daniel Herrera, hoisted from a collapsed shaft more than 2,000 feet underground.
This hour, we await the rescue of Omar Rojas. The 56-year-old was originally a bulldozer operator, but after the collapse, has been serving as a foreman for one of the work shafts inside the safety chamber.
This has been a global event. Take a look at the excited crowds at Camp Hope -- that's the makeshift village started by family members of the 33 miners -- as well as crowds watching from New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.
What a story galvanizing the world. We are seeing some very memorable moments as each trapped miner is set free after really being entombed for 69 harrowing days. Watch as they emerge, one by one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was with God, and I was with the devil. But God won. I held on to God's hand, the best hand. At no point in time did I doubt that God wouldn't get me out of there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy. Sixty-nine days, cut off from the world. The rescued miners are getting ready to see doctors now.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Copiapo Regional Hospital there in the city of Copiapo.
And Patrick, if you would, describe the scene at the hospital, and tell us what you're learning about the condition of the miners and how they're being treated.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN ALL PLATFORM JOURNALIST: You know, Tony, the scene here is growing, it's becoming somewhat of a carnival atmosphere, just people coming from the area hoping to get a glimpse of the miners, hoping to get a glimpse of one of the helicopters that have been bringing them in periodically, and as well, just a huge media presence.
And Tony, we can report to you now that the merchandising of the miners has begun. As you said, it's a global event. A lot of people are going to want some sort of piece of this story, something to remember it by.
Here you have a very attractive flag with all 33 miners' faces on it, all for about $2. Tony, this one is for you, and we're going to get it in the mail to you in the next few days.
HARRIS: Love it.
OPPMANN: And you and your show team can enjoy it. I'll just put it down there so we don't misplace it.
But that's the scene here, but obviously very serious business at hand. This is going to be the first stop for all of the miners once they leave that mine site.
And doctors here want to make sure that once they leave this hospital in a few days, that they have a clean bill of health, mentally and physically. They're going to go over them just about -- with just about every test you can imagine, from their teeth to their eyes, heart checkups.
They're very concerned and want to keep these men in something of an isolation setting, because they have not been outside that mine now for two months. They're afraid that if one were to catch a cold, one were to come down with something, that could really have a bad effect on all of them. They may just have weakened immune systems.
Certainly, as you can see around, we've got a bright, sunny day here -- that's almost the case every day -- for men who have not seen sunlight now for 69 days. That would just be very difficult for their eyes, could permanently damage their eyes. So officials treading very, very carefully there.
And every few hours, though, there are helicopters that will come and bring about four of the men. It happens probably about every six to eight hours. Some came in this morning.
We're waiting. They could come in at any minute, and it's quite a sight, those military helicopters coming into this neighborhood to deliver the miners back to their hometown -- Tony.
HARRIS: Well, Patrick, I'm going to ask you to hold up that flag again. And my Spanish is pretty weak. So hold it up. And what does it say? And we're going to hold you to this promise to get that flag to our show team.
What does it say?
OPPMANN: Yes, sir. It says, "We will come out of this mine alive," Tony, "Los treinta y tres." That's 33. And it's got photos and their names of all of them, a Chilean flag.
And, you know, "Los treinta y tres," it's just become shorthand for these men. You say that here in Chile, you say that in their hometown of Copiapo. A everybody knows who you're talking about.
Of course, these men left on August 5th, as so many people do in this mining town, to go to work, to go to work in a mine. They're coming back today as heroes, as men forever changed by their ordeal -- Tony.
HARRIS: Get that signed by some of the workers on that rescue team. They have been doing an amazing job through this whole ordeal.
Patrick, good to see you. You have been doing a great job, as well. Thank you.
Got to tell you, the world is watching this rescue live on television and the Internet.
Josh Levs -- look, Josh, we have been saying it throughout the morning, this is truly a global moment.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, yes. And you know what? And this is another part of the story here, right?
I mean, in this organism of today's story, you've got the center point, which is what's going on right there in Chile. But you've got the whole world watching. And I can't remember the last time we had the whole world watching one event that was so positive and so happy, so many people so emotional.
Let's take a look at some of the iReports we're getting. Here's one from Sri Lanka.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARI ATUKORALA, IREPORTER: This is a really emotional moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: This is Shari Atukorala. She sent us some iReports before. She was watching the coverage. She says it was so emotional for her.
Let's take at another one we got from Mexico, and then I'll talk over it and tell you what he's saying, the next one here.
This is Juan Lopez. He sent us one. He lives in Mexico.
He has mined in the past. His family has mined in the past. And he sent us an iReport saying how relieved he is for all this. And also talking about the fact that -- he says it's such a good thing that the world is paying attention to devices that can help rescue people in this horrible kind of situation.
I believe we have one more here coming to us from Norway. (CROSSTALK)
LEVS: They're coming in by the minute. Let's take a listen to this from Norway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HAGEN, IREPORTER: We want the whole world to know that in Moss, in Norway, we support this tragedy. It's a terrible thing that happened, and we're going to watch it as long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: That's a young man who said that his entire class is actually sitting together watching this entire thing throughout the night, throughout the day. They're not going anywhere.
And more of an emphasis of how this is going global, take a look at this. I want you to see this picture here. Let's zoom way in.
This is an iReport that we received. This shows a young girl, and her name is Ines Castillo Pike (ph). She's 3 years old. Her mother is Natasha (ph). Her mother is using a paper towel roll and a little Snow White to explain to her what's going on with the mine today.
And we've also been getting iReports -- I'll just tell you quickly. We've got one here from Hanoi, people sending us pictures of their TV, saying they're sitting around a big group watching it. Another one here coming to us from Santa Domingo and the Dominican Republic.
So, messages coming in from all over the world.
Let's do this -- let's go back to some of these live pictures if we have any right now --
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
LEVS: -- and I'll tell you some more that we're getting on Facebook, that we're getting on Twitter. I'll just read you some as they're coming in. I've been checking these pages every few minutes. People are pealed to the tube whether there's big action or they're looking at the big shots like this.
HARRIS: Josh, the show in-box is stuffed.
LEVS: Oh, it's incredible. I mean, we've been running back to the desk and getting what we can, then coming back on air here.
LEVS: Here's one from Helen. "I have all TVs in living room, bedroom and office on. I went to bed watching. I woke up watching." And she says she barely slept all night.
Lots of people celebrating Chile. We got one from Dennis (ph) saying, "Chile, your country is great. Cheers to you!"
Jonathan Krukoff (ph), interesting one from him. He says, "This is so heartwarming and so wonderful to see." He also says, "While they are indeed rescued, I imagine this next year of their lives will be tough psychologically." He says his thoughts are with them.
Cyrus Webb (ph) says he's so happy to see all this news coverage. He says, "These are the examples of people working together for a common good that Americans do well to remember."
And one more from Linda. She says, "I'm mesmerized by the rescues. The miners are in remarkable conditions. I love the chanting that we're hearing as they're rescued, 'Chile! Chile! Chile!'"
You can join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter. Join in, CNN.com/Tony. You know how to reach us.
HARRIS: Yes, you do.
LEVS: And tell us what you think. And we'll be back here with some of your comments.
Let's take the live picture now full now from Chile. What an amazing, amazing day.
I appreciate it so much that you're staying with us for this coverage.
What a day as these miners are rescued, brought to the surface, seemingly so far without a hitch. Can you imagine that?
There's the Chilean flag for you. And there's the scene, the site, the location.
And we are waiting for the next miner to be extricated from that shaft. When that happens, we will not miss that moment, I promise you.
But still to come, straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, "I am not a witch," the sensational headline from the Delaware Senate race. Tonight we get down to the real stuff, the stuff that really matters, live on CNN. We will have a preview of the O'Donnell versus Coons debate.
That's coming up next. But first, though, our "Random Moment" in 90 seconds.
HARRIS: And now, 14 hours later, 16 miners -- 16 have been successfully brought to the surface in a cylinder called the Phoenix.
CNN's Karl Penhaul has been in Chile for the entire ordeal. He joins us now, live.
And Karl, a moment ago we were talking about "Super Mario" Sepulveda as being the face on the newspaper there locally, but you have gotten to know the stories and the backgrounds on all of these miners through their families.
Set the scene for us as it is right now at this moment as we wait the extraction of the latest miner.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely.
I mean, we're here in Camp Esperanza, Camp Hope, and this is where 33 families came more than two months ago when they heard that the San Jose golden copper mine had collapsed. This is where 33 individual families pitched their tents and refused to leave until they got home their brothers or their husbands, dead or alive. And this is where 33 families grew into one. And today, what we're seeing is not individual miners coming back to the surface, but 33 sons of a single family.
Now, down below, as the families were up here on the surface, there may well have been discussions, there may well have been arguments. Maybe we'll find that out in the coming days. Those miners were under intense pressure.
But yes, we might see somebody like Mario Sepulveda, the joker in the pack, the narrator on the video, on the pages of the newspapers here. But I don't think even he would admit that there was an individual effort here.
These 33 miners have survived this long. They have fought against death and won that battle because they worked as a team.
Take now the miner coming up, number 17, after 13 hours and 18 minutes since the start of this rescue mission, Omar Reygadas. He started out as a bulldoze operator. He's been working the mines now for 20 years.
And the job that he really had in keeping this team together in the mine was that he became the foreman of one of the groups. The 33- man shift was divided up into three work teams, and Omar Reygadas was, on the basis of his skills, his experience, and his experience, he became one of shift foreman down there. And so thanks to guys like Omar who maybe play a more silent, more discreet role than somebody like Mario, who is a very outgoing character, but it's thanks to all these personalities and how they have gelled that these men have survived.
And on another note for Omar, well, he's a big family man. I believe six children, 14 grandchildren, and even a handful of great grandchildren. This is great granddaddy Omar coming back home, and I'm sure that huge family is going to be so happy to see him -- Tony.
HARRIS: Oh, that is terrific.
Hey, Karl, another quick question for you. What have been the early reviews on the way the Chilean government has handled this whole ordeal? What are the early reviews on the way President Pinera has handled this ordeal so far?
PENHAUL: I think initially, when the world mining community saw the scale of this disaster, saw the scale of the problem, nobody could really believe that it was going to take right up until Christmas to get these miners out, simply because people thought that is an incredible time for 33 miners to survive underground. But everybody scratched their heads.
The drilling effort to put this rescue shaft down has been a multinational effort. Yes, led by the Chilean government and the state-run copper mining company, make no mistake about that. But they have received help and advice from across the globe.
And so they telescope the timelines and put that together. And so there has been enormous praise for the way that the technicalities of this have been handled, great praise for the head of the rescue effort, Andre Sugarette (ph), and also the mines minister, Laurence Golborne, who's become somewhat of a rock star here in Chile because of his handling of it.
There were some noises at one stage even from among the family members that maybe President Sebastian Pinera was using the crisis to massage his political popularity, because he was facing criticisms on other political fronts because Chile hadn't reconstructed as quickly as possible after the tsunami and earthquake back in February, because they had problems with indigenous groups down in the south.
But now even his political rivals have been saying to me, you know, President Pinera, you can think whatever you like about his politics, he's a right-wing politician after a period of left-wing presidents here. But he really bet everything on finding these men alive.
He could quite easily have put those drills down and found that the 33 were dead after that mine cave-in, but he kind of bet his political reputation on finding these miners alive. The families pressed on and encouraged him to do so, and he has come up trumped.
I mean, he promised to be here on the day of the rescue, to hug each one of those miners. And he has been true to that.
He stayed up as long hours as everybody else covering this to hug each of the miners. He took a political gamble. That political gamble has paid off for him.
He is a very popular man. And, of course, he's not a popular man for politicking, for speeches, but he's a popular man in Chile today, and quite probably across Latin America and the world, because he has played an enormous role in saving 33 lives that in other countries maybe they would have just said there's no hope for those men, they must be dead.
But the families said no, we will hope. The president said if you're hoping, I'm hoping with you. So all credit to him, and obviously all credit to the Chilean authorities and more than 1,000 rescue workers who have taken part in this operation -- Tony.
HARRIS: Terrific. Terrific reporting.
Karl Penhaul for us throughout this entire ordeal.
Karl, appreciate it. Thank you.
So here we are, less than three weeks to go before Election Day. But in less than eight hours, a political showdown gets under way in Delaware between the Tea Party and the Democrats. Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons go head-to-head in the debate for Vice President Joe Biden's old U.S. Senate seat, and CNN is carrying it live tonight at 7:30 Eastern Time.
Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar joining us now from Newark.
And Brianna, if you would, give us a bit of a preview of this debate tonight.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, as you know, our very own Wolf Blitzer is going to be co-moderating this debate. And he is promising that there is going to be a lot of questions about substantive issues -- taxes, jobs, national security.
And that's pretty interesting, because this is a race that is centered in a very high-profile way, not so much around these substantive issues, but really around the personalities of these candidates.
KEILAR (voice-over): It's a Senate race that's captured national attention, even parodied on "Saturday Night Live."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I'm Christine O'Donnell, and I'm not a witch.
KEILAR: Most of it centered on Christine O'Donnell, the Republican underdog vying for the Delaware Senate seat Vice President Joe Biden held for 36 years. She has faced backlash against her much- discussed comments on witchcraft and masturbation made more than a decade ago. And O'Donnell faces a significant disadvantage in polls against Democrat Chris Coons, a county executive.
Her strategy, tell voters she's just like them and that her opponent is not.
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: My goal, my whole candidacy, is about putting the political process back into the hands of the people. I'm not a career politician. I'm not someone who has been groomed for office. I'm not someone who has been handpicked by her party elite, by the Party bosses. Obviously. KEILAR: Coons does not shy away from his Democratic credentials. He says he would have voted for health care reform and Wall Street reform, and he supports cap and trade. As controversy swirls around O'Donnell, Coons is trying to stay above the fray, hoping his opponent sinks her own candidacy.
CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: For me to turn and focus on all these side issues that have followed my opponent from the day of the primary to today just distracts what this is really about. It's not about Christine O'Donnell. It's not about me. It's about the voters of Delaware.
KEILAR: Coons is enjoying his unexpected front-runner status. This seat was considered a reliable Republican pickup until O'Donnell beat long-time congressman Mike Castle in the primary. Now Castle isn't even endorsing O'Donnell.
MIKE CASTLE (R), FMR. DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: No, I'm not going to endorse anybody in that particular race, and not because of the competence of any of the candidates, but because the primary I went through was very nasty in a variety of ways, both politically and personally. And I've just declined to get involved in that.
KEILAR: Even so, O'Donnell has some pretty significant enthusiasm behind her. This has translated to dollars.
She has been able to raise a lot of money since her primary victory last month. Still, Democrats are pretty confident that they can hang on to this seat. But Tony, as you know, in this political climate, there is a sense that anything can happen, and they're also trying not to take anything for granted here.
HARRIS: Brianna, a quick one for you. With all the controversial issues that have arisen in this campaign -- you know what I'm talking about here -- are they likely to come up tonight?
KEILAR: You know, we heard this from Wolf earlier. He certainly is expecting that some of these controversial issues, the witchcraft comments by Christine O'Donnell.
For Chris Coons, his opponent is trying to brand him as a bearded Marxist during his college years, certainly that is expected to come up. But we're also expecting to hear some pretty substantive questions having to do with topics like Social Security, and also a lot of foreign policy matters -- North Korea, Iran, and, of course, Afghanistan and Iraq.
So we are expecting to hear in these very substantive areas where these candidates stand.
HARRIS: Yes, we need that. We really do need that.
Brianna Keilar with us from Newark, ,Delaware. And don't forget to tune into CNN tonight at 7:30 Eastern. The Delaware Senate debate co-hosted by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, that's again at 7:30 Eastern Time.
We are monitoring the rescues of the miners for you. And we are right now waiting for miner number 17 to be extricated.
We will take you back the very moment we see that miner. But right now, let's do this -- let's take you back to the moment the very first miner stepped out of the rescue capsule.
That is miner number one, Florencio Avalos, 31 years old, coming out of the earth like he is -- well, like he's born again. He gave his wife and son some love. There you go. Then got a big bear hug from Chile's President Pinera before he was carted off for his medical tests.
Avalos became a cameraman during the isolation. He shot video of the miners that were sent up to the surface. His brother is still down there.
More on CNN NEWSROOM when we come back on the other side of the break.
HARRIS: Let's see here, do we have the picture of the clock? Oh, OK. We've got the location, obviously, and then the clock.
What is it, about four minutes or so? That's how long, and correct me here if I am wrong, that's how long we have been into the official rescue, that rescue window of about 15, 20 minutes or so. Is that what that is, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEROLOGIST: That is the time when the rescue capsule -
MYERS: -- when it left the bottom.
MYERS: Keep looking at that wheel up on top. And you'll know whether the capsule is going up or going down. As the wheel turns clockwise, that's spooling it back onto the spool, and rising the capsule, bringing it up from the bottom.
HARRIS: You can see that pretty clearly? My eyes are so bad, I can't even see that. You can see it pretty clearly?
MYERS: I can see it from a far distance; you get me too close and it's blurry.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes. OK.
HARRIS: I'm with you.
MYERS: I'm plus 1.5, if I have to get close.
HARRIS: I'm a mess is what I am.
MYERS: Anybody who has reading glasses know what that means.
HARRIS: Now, we've got some amazing -- you and the team have put together some amazing visuals to help us with this location and how arid it is.
MYERS: Yes, it's just something we don't think about in America. That you could have a coastal section -- this mine is 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean. And it's -- in one of the driest places in the entire world.
HARRIS: Just 20 miles away from the Pacific.
MYERS: It doesn't rain there ever. The Atacama desert. There's the mine right there. This is Chile. I mean, it's a very long country. They make wine here. There are places that do have precipitation. This just isn't one of them.
Here is Copiapo, and there right there is San Jose mine. You can go on to Google Earth, you can actually go on to Google maps, as well. So, we're going to fly you right to the mine. It begins to be more topography here, more up and down. We'll spin you around. You can see the ocean there on the top, and just kind of spun on by. Here's the mine itself, and the road to the mine right here.
There are pictures now that are showing up on Google Earth. And on Google maps. And you can click on the maps, and is you can click on these pictures. This is what the mine looked like from space. But people now have been climbing the mountain, taking pictures, and sending them to Google. And when you do that, you can give them your GPS location, and they will show up exactly on the map as to where that picture was taken.
And this is when they were drilling. Look at all those drill heads right there, as they were drilling the initial wells, and then here's the camp right up here, and this was the road that used to be just completely empty, other than a couple trucks taking miners in and out. Very cool stuff on Google Earth if it you want to find out more about Chile.
HARRIS: Wow. That's good stuff, thank you, Chad.
Yes. Yes. Minutes away now. And we're going to see 17th miner extricated from that shaft in just moments. It's gone so amazingly well. Just amazingly well. Chile's mine rescue. Very near the halfway point here. And so far, can you imagine this? A flawless operation, Chad.
MYERS: So far. HARRIS: So far.
When we come back, we will give you an update, and a medical report. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Fourteen hours since the first man surfaced. Now, 16 of Chile's trapped miners have made the almost half-mile ride to the earth's surface in the rescue capsule, right? That leaves 17 miners in the cavern they have called home for 69 days now. Rescuers are shuttling the men to a hospital for a medical checkup. Most appeared pale, thinner, of course, but otherwise in good physical shape.
A lot of health concerns for these men who have been trapped underground for so long. Some of them have diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems, other illnesses, black lung.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
HARRIS: CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is with us now. If you would, talk us through, Elizabeth, as a starter here, some of these health concerns.
COHEN: Right. For the miners who were down there already, who already had health concerns, there was an especially high level of concern about them. So, the folks who had cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, black lung, those were three separate miners. Real strong concerns there.
For everyone else, the concerns were things like skin infections, oxygen deprivation, and psychological trauma from, you know, being under there for so long.
HARRIS: OK. You've got to keep the spirits up, right?
COHEN: That's right.
HARRIS: Mentally, you've got to keep the spirits of these men high. What was done to do that?
COHEN: You know, I think it was pretty incredible what they did. Health officials gave recommendations to these miners. They said structure yourselves, and they said one of you has a little bit of training to be a medic. You're the doctor. Another one of you has a background in spiritual leadership. You're the spiritual leader.
HARRIS: So, they have jobs now.
COHEN: You've got jobs now. You've got a team leader. There was a photographer. And psychologists say when you have that kind of structure, not only does sort of the work flow, so to speak, go better, but people feel better. They know who to turn to for various things.
There is another thing they did which some people might find a little strange, which is that they actually gave them cigarettes.
HARRIS: Yes, what was that about?
COHEN: That was because -- first of all, if you've already been smoking, there's a good chance you're addicted. And this is really not -- what's that scene from the movie "Airplane"? This is not the time to quit smoking, right?
HARRIS: Bad day to quit smoking. Right, right.
COHEN: Bad day to quit smoking, right? So, if they're already addicted, they're low-tar cigarettes, and hopefully they try to get them to quit when they come out. But for psychological reasons, physical reasons, just let them, you know, smoking.
HARRIS: But, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I don't smoke, I don't want that crap around me. I'm down here. I'm having whatever it is -- I don't want that secondhand --
COHEN: That's a good question.
HARRIS: Come on.
COHEN: That's a great question. I don't know -- maybe they did a nonsmoking area.
HARRIS: Nice. Nice! Yes, yes.
COHEN: I don't know. I don't know. Great question.
HARRIS: So what do they have to deal with now, next? And for the foreseeable days, weeks, months ahead?
COHEN: They're making them all go to the hospital and stay there for a few days, even if they're healthy, because they want to watch them, they want to see how dehydrated they are, they want to see if they need any oxygen. And perhaps for some of them, most importantly, they want to make sure they are psychologically okay.
Because you can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder more than just the first two days out, but certainly days, weeks, even months down the road.
COHEN: So, you had a moment to speak with him, we had a clinical psychologist here, Dr. Eric Fischer, Dr. E., as he is more commonly known. So, we're going to talk to him about that issue of post traumatic stress disorder in just a couple of minutes.
We are just minutes away from the next miner being extricated. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen with us. Elizabeth, good to see you. Thank you.
Let's take a break. We're back in a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: All right. We busted out of the break, because I think we're really, really close to the moment. And we promised you, you're not going to miss a moment of -- there we go. There we go. There is the Phoenix capsule.
You're not going to miss a moment of these men, each and every one of them, being brought to the surface. Again, you are responding, watching at home in your offices, on your computers, around the world, to this rescue as it unfolds. And in real-time, before our eyes.
And to the surface right now, Omar Alejandro Reygada Rojas.
Josh, have you pulled up his profile --
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
HARRIS: -- because this a wonderful story here. That this man - his life and his family, this going to be a terrific reunion.
LEVS: This is going to be just beautiful. We have been hearing about him also from our Karl Penhaul. This man has three great grandchildren. At the young age of 56, he was originally a bulldozer operator. And after the collapse, he has been serving as foreman for one of the work shifts inside the safety chamber.
Reygadas has a large family. Listen to this. He has 6 children -
HARRIS: Love it.
LEVS: -- 14 grandchildren -
HARRIS: Love it!
LEVS: -- and then you've got the three great grandchildren as well. He has been in the mining business for 20 years. And here he is. Stepping out.
HARRIS: Do we have state television, Chilean state television up? Do we have the audio on that? All right. Let's listen to a bit of it.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
HARRIS: Tears, chants, a lot of goodwill for this young man.
CHILEAN BROADCASTER: He has taken his harness off. He has been shaved. He has got some messages in his hard hat.
HARRIS: Was anyone able to make that out? And here we go.
CHILEAN BROADCASTER: In the name of the president, I would like to congratulate you. Welcome back. Welcome, welcome.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
HARRIS: Josh, tell everyone about this young man.
LEVS: Actually, it's interesting. He's actually not the oldest of the group. Earlier we saw Mario Mario Nicolas Gomez Heredi, who is 63 years old and has been mining for more than 50 years, since he was 12. We see now Omar Orlando Reygada Rojas, 56 years old. And he is already a story people have been talking about it around the world. There he is with the flag.
LEVS: We have been seeing -- we have been seeing that elsewhere. And he has this huge family. And we have been hearing about the outpouring of support for his family, from people all over the world. And so many people sending messages.
And I'll tell you, Tony, people all over the world watching this closely, including President Obama, who we have learned had been watching the video of the rescue last night. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced this morning the gaggle. He said he asked the president what he was thinking when he was watching and the president said, quote, "It was a tremendously inspirational story." That's in general about the rescue and the survival.
The president was watching last night. And today and throughout the day, we are getting so many messages as we look at these pictures, from you, from people all over the country, all over the world --
HARRIS: You have some of them?
LEVS: Yes, I've got some right here. Abdi Ali, this is on my Facebook. "I can't sleep, I can't stop crying, man. Thanks to you guys" Alexis Mitchell: "Events such as this prove the human spirit is indefatigable and inherently good. Bless the miners and their families."
Joshua Rivas: "I've been glued to CNN since it started. I have timers set on my computer so I know when the miners are almost up the whole and free, I come running. God bless all of the rescue workers and families."
I'll read you one more from Siarra Faramargulen (ph). "I started watching last night, put it on first thing this morning. So moving to watch these amazing men reunited with their families. I am full of tears watching."
Tony, these are the kinds of messages we're getting.
HARRIS: Overwhelmed, yes. Your accounts are overwhelmed, and my e-mail here is overwhelmed. It's good stuff. Folks all over the world are fully engaged in this. And we're just so pleased to bring you all of these pictures, and we have worked out the timing. Our thanks to Chilean state television. It's been wonderful to see.
Let's do this. Let's get a shot of Dr. Fisher here. He has been good enough, kind enough to stay with us into the noon hour. When we come back, we will talk to Dr. Fisher.
And when we come back, Eric, I want to talk to you about PTSD, right, post-traumatic stress disorder, and if that could be a factor for these miners moving forward.
But first, let's take a quick break. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: OK, let's look at these live pictures now, because for the last couple of minutes, Dr. Fisher, you've been watching this with me as well. They've been really working over this phoenix (ph) capsule here just to double check it and make sure it's OK.
You know we've had 17 trips -- I know they have a couple -- at least a couple of these capsules that they can use interchangeably. But they have been working on this one for a while now before they send it back down or maybe they'll change it back out. I don't know what's going on here. But they just closed it shut. And maybe they are about to send it back down.
You know, some final adjustments. But to this point, this operation has gone off flawlessly. It really has. So let's do this. Let's bring in Dr. Erik Fisher, clinical psychologist, here in Atlanta.
Dr. E., good to see you again. Thanks for sticking around.
DR. ERIK FISHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Thanks for having me.
HARRIS: We just saw the seventeenth miner extricated. Omar Reygada. You see the pictures. You were here. You were watching those pictures as he was pulled out of that rescue shaft.
HARRIS: What did you think? What did you see?
FISHER: Good stuff. Again, another happy person. Somebody's feeling (INAUDIBLE).
HARRIS: And even as he was being placed on the stretcher to go to the hospital, he was smiling, someone gave him I guess a flag of his favorite football -- soccer team. And he was holding that up. He was kissing it. He seemed to be in -- I don't know what to make of it, but he seemed to be in good spirits.
FISHER: Right. Exactly.
HARRIS: But part of your concern is, these men know that the cameras are on and maybe they're putting on the best face right now?
FISHER: Right. Exactly. Exactly.
HARRIS: So one of the questions I have for you as we continue to watch these men being extricated from this horrific ordeal, right, 69 days trapped, post traumatic stress disorder. Would that be a mental health concern of yours in the hours, days, weeks and months after this ordeal?
FISHER: Oh, definitely, definitely. And even years. You know, I work --
HARRIS: And even years.
FISHER: I work with people who have been traumatized as children, and they come to therapy in their 20s, 30s, 40s and all of a sudden these traumas break through because we bury things in our unconscious. I always say that we kind of take the energy of events and we encapsulate it. And as long as we can keep it buried inside, it's fine. But sometimes we have triggering activating events that bring these things out. So these guys could look great for years, and all of a sudden being trapped in an elevator or some place -- you know, in their place, there's not (INAUDIBLE) elevators out there, but there are triggering events that can bring these things up years after the event. And that's important.
The issue with PTSD, really the core emotion to me is helplessness. And helplessness lets us know when we need to find help. And if we can't find help, we can get stuck in that. You know, the other issues are depression, which to me the core emotion is hopelessness. And when we can't find hope, we don't feel that we have anything to live for.
And that -- those are both common experiences in PTSD also is you have your anxiety based issues and you have some depression based issues, especially depending on how much hope or help they were able to use to affect their escape or their release from the situation, which was very powerful. But that's why I'm concerned about the families because they had some hope, but they were helpless to do anything to help their families out of this.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, we asked that question of you last hour.
Oh, remind me of the point you wanted to make about the continuing role of the government, about staying connected to the lives of these men moving forward.
FISHER: Right, right. Well, the issue there is really going to be, how does -- the government's the parent in this situation and they're taking care of their children in a way. They have not only these miners, but a whole country and the whole psyche of Chile behind them. You know, because you have this mining industry here that's very much a corner stone of the income, the economy of that country, they have to make sure that the psyche of their miners is healthy, but also how the whole country moves through this, which is why it was so important to execute this flawlessly and bring in everybody to help support this.
HARRIS: And it looks like, at least if we base what I'm about to say on the reporting from Karl Penhaul, and that's all I'm channeling here, that the initial review of the government's handling of this has been terrific. From the folks who are on the front line in terms of responders, up through the ministries and straight on up to the president. It looks like, at least so far, they weren't territorial about this. They sought help from the international community, and received it. And so far, at least, the reviews are pretty good on how the country has handled it to this point.
FISHER: There's some really important factors here. I talk all about victims, persecutors and rescuers and instigators in my work. And to me, you know, we see these miners as victims. It's up to them if they interpret themselves as victims. However, the government is kind of their rescuer.
Now, when people get stuck in a chronic victim role, which, I mean, they look at the world that they're a victim, and people with post traumatic stress feel like chronic victims, they're looking for someone to continue to take care of them. But most people who play chronic victims ultimately turn their rescuer into their persecutor. Meaning, they become the bad guy, which also, though, I'm concerned about how the country, the government, may use these people as leverage for political purposes that they potentially feel exploited for, that they feel thrown out in front of the media, in front of --
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
FISHER: And they may not be ready for that. So it's really crucial that as a country, they have somebody who can even consult with them and say, don't do this. You know, that you have to think about the livelihood and the well-being of these people. They're people, they're not objects to be used.
HARRIS: That's terrific. Dr. Fisher, thanks for sticking around. Thanks for your time. Thanks for your help and your analysis on this. Terrific stuff.
FISHER: My pleasure.
HARRIS: Thank you.
All right, let's take a break. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: So here we are, just 20 days to go before America votes in the midterm elections. Tonight, all eyes are on Delaware as conservative underdog Christine O'Donnell takes on her Democratic rival, Chris Coons, in a debate right here on CNN.
John King, part of "The Best Political Team On Television," joining us now from the political desk in Washington.
John, good to see you. What are you following this hour? JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, that debate is one of the items getting a lot of traffic on the political ticker because of the high stakes. Republicans thought they were going to win the seat. Mike Castle was the original favorite candidate. Christine O'Donnell knocked him off in the big Republican primary. So the Republicans are watching that debate tonight to see if she can make up lost ground, to see if they can keep that one in contention.
As you know, our Wolf Blitzer is co-moderating that debate. Another reason to watch it. And on "John King USA" tonight, we'll have an interview with Mike Castle, the defeated Republican candidate, Tony, who says he's not going to endorse Christine O'Donnell. He wouldn't even say if he's going to vote for her come November 2nd. He did say he'd be watching the debate tonight.
Also on the trail today, the first lady, Michelle Obama. Incredibly popular. If you go to the ticker, you'll see Ed Henry's great cover story, "Can Mom-in-Chief Save The Democrats?" She's campaigning in Wisconsin and Illinois today. We also have a new poll showing 65 percent of Americans approve of her performance as first lady. Boy, the president would love to have those numbers, Tony.
And lastly, this is a big policy story rippling through the courts and also a big political story. A federal judge yesterday telling the administration it should stop enforcing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that keeps homosexuals from serving openly in the military. That case was filed by log cabin Republicans. The Justice Department now has 60 days to file an appeal. Even though the president says he opposes the policy, the Justice Department likely to appeal that decision, as that one, Tony, still a big debate in politics and in the Congress when they come back. But Congress hoping when they come back late this year maybe to address that issue, Tony.
HARRIS: Can't wait to see your take on the debate.
KING: Looking forward to it.
HARRIS: John King, host of "JOHN KING USA."
Your next political update coming in less than an hour. For the latest political news, just go to cnnpolitics.com.
HARRIS: It is so go time. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with the man, our chief business correspondent, the host of CNN NEWSROOM from 1:00 until 3:00 Eastern, Ali Velshi.
How was that? Was that all right?
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Are you as fascinated by this story as I am?
HARRIS: I loved it. I loved it.
VELSHI: I love it. I love that we can cover breaking news and it's good breaking news.
HARRIS: It is.
VELSHI: It's fantastic.
Tony, I'm going to continue this coverage right where you left off.