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Awaiting 27th Miner Rescue; Delaware Senate Debate Coming Up

Aired October 13, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And for some families nearly unbearable wait as the mine rescue in Chile continues to unfold this hour. You'll see each one as it happens, but as these men are lifted to freedom, they face a very different future than they did just months ago. Fame, possible fortune. Are they prepared for an entirely new life?

And we're coming to you live this hour from Delaware just 90 minutes. I'll help moderate a debate in the closely watched Senate race here pitting tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell against Democrat, Chris Coons.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

You're looking at live pictures right now. This rescue operation continuing. These are pictures from underground, half a mile underground. The next miner who is about go to the top is Franklin Lobos. He is 53 years old. He served as an electrician in the mine. He once, by the way, played professional soccer. Franklin is about to get into that capsule. Once the capsule reaches the ground there, we'll see it come in and then this will be miner number 27 who will be rescued out of 33.

Gary Tuchman has been covering the story for us so ably over these past several days. He's watched it all unfold. Gary, we talked a little bit about Lobos like so many of the miners, every one of these miners has a personal story. He has two daughters, and he's worked really hard. We're hoping that this will be successful, obviously as the other rescues have been.

But go ahead for our viewers just tuning in right now, set the scene. How much longer do they now believe this will take for all 33 miners and the five rescue workers who went down there to be brought to the surface.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the headline is 26 miners have been rescued. They've had very emotional reunions. No major medical problem, some minor medical problems. Some of the miners are being treated at a hospital about a half an hour away from here. Everything is great with these 26 miners who have been rescued. We believe at the pace is going right now, the seven remaining miners will be pulled up by midnight eastern time, six hours from now.

Given a five mine rescue officials in the mine, that should take another three or four hours. So by dawn, tomorrow morning, this operation will be over. That area where these miners have lived for seven weeks will be emptied for the rest of time. It is an unbelievable story. We've never seen anything like this that people have survived this long underground nearly seven weeks and come up and survived it. Before this all began yesterday, when we talked yesterday, Wolf, there was a lot of tension, because we thought it would work.

Officials were confident it will work, but they couldn't offer any guarantees, and there was a lot of tensions when the first mine rescue official went down in the capsule and everyone awaited just hoping to get the word that he got this successfully. When that wheel stopped turn and the wheel turns to the counterclockwise when it's going down, everyone started clapping, and then to our surprise, we saw this live picture and live sound for the half mile below the ground of the miners and this mine rescue official.

No one ever told any of the news media that that would even be available, that was even possible for the government to do that. I mean, this is hard for folks like us at CNN. We go live from everywhere in the world. So, it was very stunning (INAUDIBLE), amazing pictures, and then our hearts stopped as the wheels started turning clockwise.

That meant the first miner was come out and then you saw that capsule's nose, hopeful (INAUDIBLE) right behind me, and the family out there. It was just really an amazing moment. There is so few good news story, breaking news story, good a bit story but a good news story but breaking important news story that's rare and great story (ph), and so far, this has been a great news story -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Right. Twenty-six miners have been rescued meticulously, brilliantly by Chilean authorities with a lot of help from other experts from around the world, but you have to give an enormous amount of credit to the authorities in Chile for this wonderful, wonderful rescue operation. We're awaiting the arrival of the module which should be seen in this live picture from underground very soon.

And then Franklin Lobos will go in that capsule and will be brought up to the top as well. Stand by for a moment, Gary. I'm going to be coming back to you, but I want to point out that the men who are now in the world spotlight certainly everyone wants to hear their personal stories, and each one has a story.

That could be one more tough adjustment though for these men to make. Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, what are the miners in store for now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maybe more than they would ever believe, Wolf. Why is this man so happy? Well, he's got a new lease on life, of course, but he also maybe looking to what lies ahead. It appears at least some of these miners might have been charting their future course while they were still trapped. Here is a quote from miner Johny Barrios in a letter he wrote last week while he was still in the mine. Quote, "if we do this properly, we won't have to work for rest of our lives." How much do they stand to gain? According to various media reports, here's some of what's in the works. The paper "Mail on Sunday" says TV networks offering up to $400,000 each for the miners to tell their exclusive stories and predictably agents reportedly climbing all over each other to sign the miners and their families to lucrative book and movie deals.

Also, one Chilean mining tycoon has pledged to give each miner $10,000. The government also giving them some money until they're fully recovered, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, endorsement deals have to be part of this as well, right?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. According to various reports, they've gotten offers to endorse some of the following things, some of these things here. I can get this graphic over. Mining equipment, that's, of course, natural, chocolate bars, clothing, and beer, and a sexual enhancement vitamin. I'm sure we can't wait to see those commercials.

BLITZER: What about the gifts that they're being given? I understand some of them are truly extraordinary.

TODD: That's right. Some things that you wouldn't necessarily figure but interesting, nonetheless. According to published reports, the soccer team, Real Madrid, has sent signed jerseys and balls to the minors. Manchester United, one of the most popular soccer teams in the world has offered expenses paid trips to see that team play for each man and his family.

A local wine maker is offering free wine for a year. And here's my personal favorite right here, this miner, Edison Pena. He's a die- hard Elvis Presley fan. He led his fellow miners in Elvis sing- alongs. He's been offered an all expenses paid trip for two to Graceland courtesy of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good for him. I hope he and his family enjoy that visit to the Graceland. Brian, thanks very much.

We won't know for some time what long term impact this ordeal will have on the miners. We're talking about the long term impact, but we do know that some people cope with adversity a lot better than others. The question is why. Ben Sherwood explores that in his new book "The Survivor's Club." He's joining us from San Francisco.

Ben, we are looking at these live pictures. The capsule is now down there. As they say miner number 27, Franklin Lobos, will be going in there, and he will be brought to the top. The last time it took about ten minutes for this module, this capsule to be brought to the top. We'll see how long this takes. But talk to us a little bit about what these miners. Once they're safe and sound, what they can expect?

BEN SHERWOOD, AUTHOR, "THE SURVIVORS CLUB": Well, I think the main thing is what's surprising in the literature of who does well in survival situations and afterwards is that most people do surprisingly well. You would expect that they would be traumatized, and they would be have all kinds of depression and anxiety and other symptoms. But when you look at survival stories across the decades, it turns out that most people in traumatic situations like these guys have gone through do very well.

Now in this case, this is a very unusual case. Remember, they spent about 17 days in total isolation, out of touch with the rest of the world, but then, 52 days in constant communication. There was a telephone line. They received correspondence from their families and friends. They actually were able to watch live soccer games 2,000 feet underground.

One of the guys was running six miles a day, because he's a fitness nut. So, this is a very unusual situation. My prediction is, Wolf, these guys are going to do by and large very well when they get out both in the short term and in the long term.

BLITZER: You've written, Ben, about some of the other survivors from plane crashes. What could the Chilean miners learn from other survivors in different circumstances, but still, survivors of major horrendous events?

SHERWOOD: Wolf, very early on in this story, the survivors, a few of them from the famous Andes plane crash on that glacier at 12,000 feet. Those guys, 16 people survived this horrendous ordeal for 72 days in the Andes. A few of those survivors from Uruguay flew over to Chile to lend support and sustenance to the miners in Chile.

There are a lot of lessons to learn. One of them, perhaps, the most important is group cohesion. Those 16 people in the Andes, every year on December 22nd, gather in Uruguay to celebrate life. They call it their re-birthday. And that group started at 16 back in 1972, and today, and in December, when they gather again to celebrate the re- birthday, there'll be more than 100 of them, survivors, wives, children and grandchildren to celebrate life.

Group cohesion, these guys, these Chilean miners showed incredible cohesion underground as a work chef (ph) and as a unit, and our is hope is that they will show the same kind of cohesion above ground celebrating life together.

BLITZER: Ben, stand by for a moment. We're looking at these live pictures from atop the surface. The miner number 27, the 27th miner being rescued right now, Franklin Lobos. That's his family out there. They're getting ready to receive their loved one as he is going to be within ten minutes or so. We expect that capsule to reach the surface. Karl Penhaul is on the surface. Karl, I'm thinking you know the family that's now awaiting Franklin Lobos.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN VIDEO CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We have met and spent time with the number of these families. In fact, it was (INAUDIBLE) who's also been here, the first befriended the family of Franklin Lobos. And Franklin Lobos is now in the Fenix capsule, and he is rising steadily. He's been in that capsule now for about 2 1/2 minutes. The journey to the top possibly taking a total of ten, and this is where his family have been waiting for him since this crisis began.

They have been camped out here in the Atacama Desert for the last 69 days. Today is different day. The day is the day they hope that Franklin will finally come back to the surface. But a lot of Chilean eyes are on this man particularly. He was loved by the country as a soccer player. He was a professional player in the late 1970s and through the 1980s. He even qualified for Chile's Olympic soccer team.

And as you were talking earlier on, a number of these miners have received gifts from across the world that have been sent down into the mine, and Franklin Lobos, for example, received a sign soccer jersey from David Villa, a member of the World Cup winning Spanish soccer team. I imagine that he will be bringing that jersey back up with him. But as you can see, there is also a huge media strong (ph) in his head.

Not only because Franklin Lobos is number 27, so there are fewer miners' families waiting for their loved ones, but because he was such a national figure and that you can see the media is bossing (ph) me out, outnumbering family members right now, and we can only hope that the tent that they have lived in for the last 69 days doesn't collapse under the media frenzy, Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl, tell us about where you are right now. Who are all of these people surrounding you?

PENHAUL: Exactly. We're in the tent where the family of Franklin Lobos has been living for the last 69 day, and all of the people around, the cameras that you can see, a part of the media crews that have come to the San Jose Gold and Copper Mine to see these miners, these 33 miners arise once again to the surface. There's anything between 1,500 to 2,000 journalists at this mine site right now.

They represent just 300 different media outlets from 40 different countries, and as I've said, what began as the tenth village populated by the members of 33 families has turned into almost a city. The tents have given way to RVs and larger tents to satellite trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles. There was really no more capacity here. It real is a good job that in the mine minister, Laurence Golborne, this rescue mission should be finished today.

And from then forth, there will be no further need for Camp Hope. The hope will have been achieved. The hope will have been realized, and those 33 miners will be back on the surface safe and sound. We hope by midnight tonight, possibly, this rescue mission could end just into the very (ph) small hours of tomorrow morning, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll wait it every second of the way. Karl, don't go too far away. We're going to continue our special coverage here in the SITUATION ROOM. We're waiting for the 27th miner to be brought to the top. You see family, friends, authorities waiting as well. You'll see it live here in the SITUATION ROOM when our special coverage continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Back to Chile in a moment. As miner number 27, the 27th miner is about to come to the surface, you'll see it live here. We're here on the campus of the University of Delaware. An all- important debate is coming up this evening. I'll be co-moderating the debate. Jack Cafferty has got the "Cafferty File" on this very subject -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Little over an hour, all eyes are on Christine O'Donnell, the tea party-backed, Sarah Palin-backed Senate candidate from Delaware who scored a major upset last month when she won the Republican nomination. O'Donnell is going to face- off tonight in a debate for the first time against Democrat, Chris Coons. The poll shows Coons with a 19-point lead, formidable over O'Donnell.

Only 35 percent of voters say O'Donnell is qualified to be senator compared to 64 percent who say that about Coons. Part of that is due to the fact that there are a lot of questions about O'Donnell's past and her lack of experience. Several lingering financial issues like O'Donnell's former campaign manager accusing her of paying her rent with campaign donation. She says there's no truth to that. O'Donnell also has dealt with the IRS on issues related to unpaid income taxes.

Democrats and even Republicans including Karl Rove have attacked O'Donnell's qualifications. And don't forget her controversial remarks about dabbling in witchcraft, about sexuality, and about masturbation. This thing's got some potential night to be a real train wreck if it's handled right. For the most part, O'Donnell is refused to talk to the national media since her win. She is getting her advice from Sarah Palin who did also well in those interviews with Katie Couric, remember?

So, it's reasonable to believe that there are a lot of people would like to know more about O'Donnell in what has fast become one of the most watched races in the country. The question is this then, what question would you ask Delaware Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Good question for our viewers, Jack. These are live pictures we're seeing right now. Franklin Lobos, he's just reached the surface. You saw it here. He is miner number 27. The 27th of 33 miners rescued. Let's listen in briefly.



Chi-le! Chi-chi-chi-! le-le-le! Los Mineros de Chile! (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)



BLITZER: All right. So, there you see the 27th miner rescued. Another dramatic moment. You can't get enough of this. Franklin Lobos there. He was a professional soccer player. He played soccer for the national team, and also in the Olympic games, and there you see the reunion with his colleagues, his family, his friends. Karl Penhaul is on the scene for us.

Karl, I know you've spoken with his family and some of his friends, you're there. Unfortunately, Karl can't hear me right now. We're going to get back to Karl in a moment, but you just see this dramatic moment unfolding. Wow, what an amazing moment right now for Franklin Lobos. He is going to be strapped in that gurney as the other 26 miners who have been brought to the top.

And he will get some medical examinations. They're all going to go through the examinations. You see the soccer ball. He is well known in Chile as a great soccer player. He's 53 years old. You know what, Karl Penhaul is now being debriefed on CNN International, our sister network. Let's listen in to see what Karl is saying.


PENHAUL: But now 27 miners back on the surface. It looks like the fight against death has been won. And now, Franklin Lobos, the 1970s and 1980s Chilean soccer star turned miner hugging Sebastian Pinera, the president, the mine's minister, Laurence Golborne, and other members of the rescue crews that helped save these 33 miners. And on hand, one of his daughters, Carolina, ready to bring him back to this tent, to this tent where we are now, where his family have spent the last 70 days waiting for him.

We saw as that rescue capsule came up the rescue shaft, they were launching confetti. They throwing streamers, and then, when he finally made it to the surface, hugs all around. And as they say, the Chilean TV entitling this, Franklin Lobos wins his most important match of his life.


BLITZER: All right. That's Karl Penhaul on the scene for us. You see he's on that gurney now as the other 26 miners are. He's going to be taken in for some medical exams and then make sure everything is good. He still has the sunglasses on to protect his retinas after almost 70 days underground. They need that protection. It's still daylight over there in Chile. We'll stay on top of this. We'll watch it.

The next miner, by the way, will be saved will be Richard Villarroel. He's 27 years old. That capsule is about to go back down. And then he will be brought up. This is moving very, very quickly. We are so excited. The whole world is watching right now. Our special coverage here in the SITUATION ROOM will resume right after this.


BLITZER: We'll get back to Chile, the rescue of those miners in a moment, but it's a pivotal night for two Senate hopefuls facing off in one of the most closely watched races of the year. We're talking about, in Delaware, the Republican, Christine O'Donnell, and Democrat, Chris Coons. They're about to go head-to-head in a major debate that will air live right here on CNN.

They're vying for the seat that once held by the current Vice President Joe Biden. And joining us now in Newark, Delaware, on the campus of the University of Delaware is our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger and the Vice President Joe Biden's son, Delaware attorney general, Beau Biden, who announced in January he would not run for his father's old seat, instead, seek re-election as the attorney general of this great state. Attorney general, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Do you regret that decision?

BIDEN: Not at all. Look, I made the right decision for the right reasons, and I have no regrets. I have a job to finish as attorney general and on folks down (ph) that very much.

BLITZER: You saw this new CNN/Time Magazine Poll that just came out today. Christine O'Donnell with 38 percent and Chris Coons 57 percent, a 19-point spread. You're a politician, less than three weeks to go, can she come back? Can she win here in Delaware?

BIDEN: Well, you never know, but I know what Chris is going to do. He's going to take her very seriously for the next three weeks. He's preparing for the debate right now. He's going to articulate the vision for the state that I think the state is going to be behind (ph). That's why you see the poll numbers the way they are. Chris has a vision for the state that's consistent with what this state is.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, just a couple of months ago, though, people were thinking that this state was going to go Republican. That Mike Castle, the Republican congressman was really the shoe in. You know what's going on in the rest of the country. Isn't this really a referendum on the Obama-Biden administration that we're seeing right now?

BIDEN: I don't think so. I think this is going to be a race that's very focused on the issues like Chris is talking about, even Christine is talking about. Look, this candidate, Christine O'Donnell, among other things wants to privatize veterans health benefits, privatize veterans health benefits. I just got back from Iraq last year. That's not where, you know, soldiers are. That's not where Delawareans are. That's we're going to hear Chris talking about tonight.

BLITZER: How does she manage to beat such a popular congressman like Mike Castle in that Republican primary, because she was not supposed to -- he was supposed to be a locket if he would have gotten that Republican nomination. It was a shoo-in. Everybody here in the state thought that he would beat Chris Coons.

BIDEN: I think Chris would have a shot against Mike Castle. But, you know, Mike Castle is formidable. He's been elected for the last 35 or 40 years. And I don't know how Christine won. I think you'd see a civil war going on in the Republican Party. That's what I'm interested in. There's a civil war going on in the Republican Party here in the state of Delaware. I can speak to that. And I think you see that being played out nationally as well.

BORGER: Well, Castle is refusing to endorse Christine O'Donnell. What does that tell you?

BIDEN: It tells me that there's a two different visions for the state that tells me one thing, that Mike Castle is not very happy with the vision that Christine is articulating in the way she ran her campaign which has been a campaign -- it's not the way campaigns usually run in Delaware. Campaigns in Delaware run door-to-door, supermarket to supermarket. Town people want to hear about what you're going to do, not kind of stuff that they pulled on him.

BORGER: What do you think about an ad that says, "I'm not a witch"?

BIDEN: Well, look, any time you have to start a campaign explaining what you're not, is a bad place to be. But, you know, I do. Chris does. My dad did when she ran against her [SIC] two years ago. Remember my dad ran against -- the vice president ran against her two years ago. Take her very seriously. She articulates a vision for this country that simply is not where Delaware is, and that's why you see these polls way up. But you've got to make sure people come out and vote.

BLITZER: Do you know her personally?

BIDEN: I do. I campaigned with her in 2006, when she ran the first time.

BLITZER: You ran against her?

BIDEN: No, I campaigned at the same time with her as a candidate. This is a small state, and she'd go to candidate forums. She was at different things: festivals, parades. So I've known her for a while. I knew her before that.

BLITZER: We don't know much about her. Tell us something about her.

BIDEN: Well, she's very nice. She knows what she believes. She's very passionate about what she believes. They've got people behind this.

BORGER: But how would you describe her politics? I mean...

BIDEN: I don't know. I know what she's against. I know what she wants to do. I know what she wants to eliminate. She wants to eliminate -- you know, privatize Social Security, privatize veterans' health benefits. You know, if we privatize Social Security, as you know, Wolf, $2 trillion were lost in the stock market within people's private savings accounts, but Christine O'Donnell still wants to privatize Social Security.

She wants to eliminate the Department of Education. We just got in this state $1 million in the race to the top program that Governor Jack Markell is going to lead, that is going to be a leading state in making sure that education is what it should be in this state and nationally.

BORGER: You're the attorney general of this state, and let me just ask you about this investigation of the mortgage industry...

BIDEN: Sure, sure.

BORGER: ... that attorneys general, 49 states have said -- could -- that they're going to do. Couldn't this affect the mortgage industry in the short term, homeowners, in a negative way?

BIDEN: Look, you're going to have to ask the experts about what effect this mortgage moratorium that some of us are asking for is going to do for the economy. That's not my job. My job is to make sure that the people are playing by the rules. Borrowers have a responsibility to pay mortgages, but lenders have a responsibility to pay the rules when they're foreclosing.

You know, in this country in August alone, 300,000 houses were foreclosed upon. And some of those houses were foreclosed upon should not have been. This is about attorney generals 49 making sure that mortgage -- the lenders are following the rules when they go about foreclosing.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but very quickly, we had a little health scare with you a few months ago. Tell us what happened and how you're doing.

BIDEN: I woke up one morning not feeling right, and my wife was smart enough to call an ambulance. I had a minor stroke, and now I take an aspirin today and I'm in good shape. I'm back to running, literally running. I run three or four days a week if I'm lucky, working out and running after my kids for you.

BLITZER: Just -- a baby aspirin or a full aspirin?

BIDEN: I take a full aspirin. I recommend -- they tell me anybody over 40 who hasn't had any kind of episode, take a baby aspirin. That's my unsolicited medical advice. But for me, I take a full 300 and some odd milligrams aspirin.

BLITZER: A miracle drug when you think about it.

BIDEN: It really is. It's very important cost-effective.

BORGER: So we know the issues your dad had, and the issue you just had. Do you think this is hereditary?

BIDEN: I don't think so. I think it's -- mine was a little bit different issue. His was an aneurysm. Mine was a stroke. I can't even believe I'm saying stroke. But not -- I don't think they're related.

BLITZER: Are you sticking around to watch the debate tonight?

BIDEN: No, I'm hopping in the car and driving down state to Smyrna, Delaware, to campaign, get out the vote for Democrats in -- down state in Delaware.

BORGER: We're on Sirius Radio, you know. You can...

BIDEN: I'll listen on radio, but Chris has got this all under control.

BLITZER: You're still a young guy. We'll probably see you in Washington, D.C., in one capacity or another down the road.


BLITZER: Beau Biden, thanks very much. The attorney general of the great state of Delaware for coming in. Appreciate it very much.

We're going to stay on top of this story. We're getting ready for the debate. You'll see it live here on CNN at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. I'll be co-moderating the debate. We'll go through all the substantive issues, domestic, economic issues, national security issues. You'll see it with these two candidates on this beautiful campus.

We're also staying on top of what's happening in Chile right now. Twenty-seven miners have been rescued. You can see what's happening half a mile underground right now. They're getting ready for miner No. 28 to come up to the top. His name is Richard Villaroel. We'll watch. Our coverage will continue right after this.


BLITZER: All right. These are live pictures of what's going on on the surface right now. We're awaiting the 28th miner to be rescued. His name is Richard Villaroel. He's a mechanic. He's worked on this mine for two years. We're told he never told his mom that he was working at the mine.

His family says he is a happy person. He will soon become a father. His girlfriend is expecting a child in November.

Gary Tuchman has -- I guess, Gary, I don't know if you've met with some of his family members. We see his girlfriend coming by right now. There's going to be a happy reunion, we guess, within the next eight to ten minutes or so once that capsule reaches the surface. But talk a little bit about this miner and his background.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the capsule shot through the ceiling two minutes ago, Wolf, and at the pace the capsules have been going, we expect it up in another eight or nine minutes.

And this is an amazing story, because this man is expecting his first child at the end of next month like you just said. And boy, when this happened for 17 days, no one knew what happened to the miners, if they were alive or dead, and the miners didn't know if people were forgetting about them, if they assumed that they were dead.

And this man knows he's having a baby at the end of November. And then he finds out that the world does know about them, and they're rescued. And now he can be home and have his baby in November with his girlfriend, and everything will be happily ever after for this couple, we sure hope. The miners certainly deserve it. The torment that they went through in the opening days. And now just wondering, making sure this would work, the hope that it would work and the fact that so far it appears to have worked.

He will be miner 28 out of 33 rescued when he gets up there. And at this pace right now, it appears this whole operation, the 33 miners can all be rescued. You can pass if you want to. Go ahead.


TUCHMAN: There's a lot of journalists here, Wolf, and they all try to pass. That guy was unusually polite. A lot of people haven't been so polite, but he was, so I let him pass.

But this could all be over by 11 p.m. Eastern time, much faster than we expected. That would make the operation a little less than 24 hours. We thought 30 to 36 hours when it started. They've quickened up the pace. They know what they're doing, but one thing we have to keep in mind that there are five mine rescue experts.

They will be the last ones up. They won't have nearly the attention, but this is still a situation where you've got to keep an eye on them, because there are risks involved. But there are still just six miners to come up, five mine rescue officials, and then they will close this mine forever -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Gary, stand by. I want to take a quick break. But I also want to show our viewers before we do that, the family reaction when the 27th miner, Franklin Lobos, came to the surface. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-seven is now just a few meters from the top of that rescue shaft, and we're here in the tent where his family has been waiting for him for the last 70 days at Camp Hope, and here he comes.




BLITZER: All right. You're looking at these live pictures right now. The family members, they're waiting for the arrival of Richard Villaroel. He's 27 years old, a mechanic. He's worked at the mine for two years. Villaroel never told his mom, as I said before, that he was working at the mine. She obviously knows right now. There are some family members there. So, so excited to see what's going on.

And Gloria Borger is here, watching this with all of us. Gloria, you know, it's a thrilling moment, and as I've said, no matter how many times that we're about to see the 28th miner coming out, no matter how many times we see this, we want to see more.

BORGER: Right. Because we can empathize with every family member that -- that's got somebody down in that mine. We're seeing something that works. We're seeing something that's been well planned, and we're seeing something that, you know, knock wood looks like it's going to have a very happy ending.

And I think as we -- as we see this, look at this, you know, young child. I mean, what says more than that -- than that face, right?

BLITZER: I know. And there's going to be so much excitement when that capsule reaches the surface we expect within the next couple of minutes or so, because things have been moving very quickly.

Gary Tuchman is on the scene for us, as well, for this 28th miner, Richard Villaroel. He's about to come up. And this crowd will go crazy once again.

Gary, you've watched, you know, for the past -- it will be almost 24 hours exactly we anticipate now that all 33 miners will have been brought to the surface.

TUCHMAN: I think that Wolf, one thing I must emphasize is we've seen 27 miners come up, and we have not yet gotten tired of the reaction here when they arrive. It's just so amazing and emotional seeing these family members just watching, waiting for that hole to fill up with this capsule coming through, and then seeing their face when the capsule comes through. And then, of course, seeing their face when they see the loved one behind the cage coming out. I mean, you can watch it for days.

Unfortunately, we're in this situation -- it's unfortunate that 33 people were down there this long, but it's amazing having this kind of story, where we know we can have this repeated wonderful event. And that's what's about to happen about one or two minutes away from now.

But you're talking about miners not letting their parents know they work the mines. We've seen that before in some of the other mine disasters that we've covered. We've talked to miners, and they say they don't want to scare their family. And I don't know how you do that. I don't know how you tell your family members your true job. But I've heard that more than one time. It's a very hard job, a very dangerous job.

BLITZER: There it is. You see that capsule is now on the surface. There it is. And Richard Villaroel, that door is going to open, and he's going to be reunited with his loved ones. This will be another dramatic moment.

They have to untangle him from the -- the ropes and everything else. He's been stuck inside there for, what, ten or 11 minutes, and must be the happiest moment of his life as he's about to be reunited with that family. Look at that.

OK. Let's watch and listen as this unfolds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chi-le! Chi-chi-chi! Le-le-le! Los mineros de Chile!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)

BLITZER: All right. There he is. What an exciting moment for Richard Villaroel as he's reunited with his colleagues and his family and his friends. He is so, so happy, as he should be.

He's the 28th miner who has now been rescued from this mine after some 70 days, 69, 70 days they've been underground. Remember, the first 17 days, no one heard from them. No one knew if they were alive or dead. But then almost miraculously a note got out they were alive. They were stuck. And then the process of finding a way of bringing them to the surface began.

Originally, they thought it could take until Christmas, if it could happen at all, and now, as we're seeing October 13, what a day it has been for these miners. Thirty-three trapped miners; 28 have now been freed.

The process will continue. There are also five rescuers who are still underground, as well. They went down in the past 24 hours or so to help with this rescue. They will be brought out. We anticipate that all of them will be out over the next several hours, and this miraculous rescue operation will have come to a halt.

Richard Villaroel will be on a gurney very, very soon to go into the hospital for routine checks as all of the miners have been. We'll watch it very, very closely. We're very happy for him, his family, his friends, his loved ones, and then we're getting ready for the 29th miner. Juan Carlos Aguilar, 49 years old, he will be next. We'll watch that live right here on CNN. Stay with us. Our special coverage will continue.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is, what question would you ask Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, who is scheduled to enter into a debate here in about 38 minutes, so Wolf's going to -- to moderate, down there in Delaware.

Jan writes from Pennsylvania, "Ask her what her plan is for anything: improve the economy, end the war in Afghanistan, jobs, fiscal responsibility. Haven't heard anything of substance from this woman yet. The only thing we know is she's not a witch." Right?

Ben in Boston: "I would ask all the candidates the same question: how are you going to get jobs going at 250,000 a month? That's all that matters."

Harold in Alaska: "What are the names of magazines and newspapers you read on a regular basis?"

Dave in Orlando: "What you got cooking in your cauldron, toots?"

Feel free to use any of these you want, Wolf, tonight.

Katie in Illinois: "I'd ask O'Donnell why she has such low regard for our political system. Just by running, it's obvious she thinks it's all a big joke."

Judy in California: "Nothing, nothing. She's not qualified for elected office, period, end of story."

Dick writes, "Why do you think Democratic liberals who like to portray themselves as nice and kind people are so intolerant of Republican or conservative women that they need to demean, degrade and demonize women like you and Sarah Palin?"

Meg writes, "My question would be, what specific experience do you have that qualifies you to be a U.S. senator?"

Dave writes, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"

And Cy in Virginia: "You're not by any chance Snooki's mom from 'Jersey Shore,' are you?"

If you want to read more of this enlightened repartee, you'll find it on my blog:

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. See you tomorrow.

When we come back, an amazing story from CNN's Jeanne Moos. The best of the mine rescue operation. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's been an amazing, amazing story, the rescue operation in Chile. And CNN's Jeanne Moos has put it all together.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hold onto your hats. There's going to be some heavy hugging.

And no one got hugged more than the president of Chile. Not once, not twice but three times by the same miner.

There were kids getting hugged. There were hugs accompanied by laughter.

There were faces being cradled. There were murmured endearments. As a young miner on a stretcher got his face rubbed. And after all that darkness, the glint of the sun on $180 sunglasses donated by Oakley.

This is what the ride up looked like. And the light at the end of this tunnel must have looked like heaven.

Not many but some were overcome, usually the relatives. "Be still," said the miner.

There were some romantic back stories. For instance, this woman sent a note down to her boyfriend proposing. He said yes.

And then there was Jonny Barrios, the miner whose wife discovered he also had a mistress waiting for him. According to "The Daily Mail," it was the mistress who showed up when Jonny resurfaced, though Chilean TV identified her as the wife, fixing her hair before the reunion.

Barbara Walters joked that the miner's predicament might lead him to say...

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": You know what? Take me back down.

MOOS: Though he might have a personal hole to dig himself out of -- it's nothing compared to the hole he just left, a hole we got to know intimately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)

MOOS: Thanks to cameras that captured the miners from every angle.

The most exuberant miner was talking...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)

MOOS: ... yelling "Let's go, let's go," even before he got to the surface.

They call Mario "Super Mario." He's the one who handed out souvenir rocks and hugged rescue workers.

Give the rescuers a tip of the hat. The only casualties in this rescue were the hard hats. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: And these are live pictures from underground, half a mile underground. They're getting ready to rescue the 29th miner. His name is Juan Carlos Aguilar. He's 49 years old. He's a mechanic. He serves also as a supervisor of one of the three work shifts in the mine. He's a father of two. He's been mining for 19 years. He is going to be brought to the surface. It's going to be another emotional reunion.

You will see it live here on CNN. We're not leaving this story for you.

We are watching another story a half hour from now. There will be a major debate here on the campus of the University of Delaware, a debate between two Senate candidates: the Republican Christine O'Donnell; the Democrat Chris Coons. I'll be co-moderating the debate. You see the campus. You see the CNN Express.

We're going to have extensive coverage of this debate, live coverage, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, a half hour or so from now. We'll go through all of the major issues. Our viewers and, more important, the voters here in the state of Delaware, will have a better chance to size up these two candidates.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.