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CNN NEWSROOM

States Launch Foreclosure Probe; Countdown to Election Day; Chilean Press Conference; CNN Equals Politics Update; What's Hot; The Hugs Felt Around The World

Aired October 14, 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: I'm Tony Harris. Top of the hour in the CNN NEWSROOM where anything can happen. Here are some of the people behind today's top stories.

The foreclosure crisis -- home foreclosures hit a record high and all 50 state attorneys general call for investigations into banks' foreclosure practices. What does it mean for you bottom line?

Secret campaign cash. Just 19 days until the midterm elections, and we are following the money trail of just who is paying to influence your vote.

You're online right now. We are, too. Josh is following "What's Hot" -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, that amazing rescue that we were following bit by bit yesterday turns out to be one of the most watched events online ever. You have to see these numbers. We have them where it ranks. It's all here at CNN.com.

HARRIS: Josh, appreciate it. Thank you.

And let's do this -- do we have any pictures from Chile right now? Because we are anticipating a news conference any minute now where we will get an update on the conditions of the miners, and we will probably learn details of how this operation came off so smoothly, seemingly without a hitch.

I've got to tell you, this time yesterday, we were bringing you live pictures of the miners being rescued from Chile, and the last one was hoisted up last night, the shift foreman. And in case you missed it, here's that incredible moment. This marking the end of 69 harrowing days underground.

He expressed thanks to Chile's president and the rescuers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUIS URZUA, LAST MINER RESCUED (through translator): I hope this never happens again. I am very proud of what you have done.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, all, the rescuers. Thanks to all of Chile and everyone.

I am so proud to be Chilean. And everyone, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Chile's president was right back with the miners today. He visited them at a hospital where they're being treated a short distance from the rescue site.

A hospital official says most of the 33 miners may be released today. Can you believe this? Some are suffering from minor complications, but nothing to really worry about.

Again, we are standing by, waiting for a news conference. And in just minutes, really. And we will bring portions of that to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow is following the foreclosure story for us. It is a huge story. She's joining us from New York.

And Poppy, look, give us an update on where the investigation stands right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Sure.

I mean, we found out yesterday that 50 states attorneys general launched a probe, an investigation into whether or not there's be massive foreclosure fraud across the country. They did, Tony, though stop short of calling for a national moratorium on foreclosures.

Now, the issue at hand is, did banks or did they not issue fraudulent documents on foreclosures? If they did, a lot of people that were foreclosed on maybe shouldn't have been.

We know Ally Bank, JPMorgan, they've halted foreclosures in 23 states, looking at more. Bank of America has done that in 50 states.

But I have to say, Tony, all these banks argue there may have been technical problems with their paperwork process, but they say no foreclosures have happened that shouldn't have. And JPMorgan's CEO came out this week, and I want to show you what he said.

He said, "We don't think there are any cases where people were evicted out of homes when they shouldn't have been." So that's his side of this, but we spent a day with a lawyer here in New York, Tony, who is representing a number of homeowners in this exact situation, trying to save their homes. He strongly disagrees.

Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SHAEV, BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY: I think you cannot foreclose on a home unless you have the legal documentation to do so. We're still a nation of laws. We have rules of evidence in court.

You can't continue to go in and purger yourself every time you went to a courtroom. People need to be walked out in handcuffs. Washington, in my view, is attempting to whitewash the entire situation.

HARLOW: What do you mean?

SHAEV: They acknowledge that there's a problem, but they're not willing to open their eyes to the massive fraud that envelops the financial mortgage situation. They are afraid of complete collapse of housing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right. So, his advice for anyone out there in this situation, let's pull it up for you. Two very important things.

First of all, does the name of the company suing you, trying to kick you out of your home, does that match the name on your mortgage note? If it doesn't, your mortgage may have been sold, securitized. You might not know it. You could have a claim there.

Also, does the date on your assignment of mortgage, was that recent? Was that around the time they started foreclosure proceedings? If so, Tony, they could have just made that document and not had it originally. That's a big, big red flag, this lawyer says -- Tony.

HARRIS: So, look, Poppy, we've got the states investigating, but what are you hearing? Any talk that Congress should step in? I know that there -- I believe that there are hearings set in the lame duck session, but what are you hearing?

HARLOW: There is. There's going to be a hearing November 16th. The Senate Banking Committee will oversee that.

Look, some members of Congress want a national moratorium. They're outraged. You've got Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for that. But the Obama administration said this week, wait, we don't want to go that far.

Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary, saying if you do that, if you halt all foreclosures, what do you do with these homes that are abandoned? This does not fix the crisis.

But what we did this week is we sat down with the head of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, from Connecticut. We asked him his take. He agrees with the administration. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT), BANKING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It would be a mistake to let a 50-state moratorium on all mortgages. I think that's overreacting to this.

HARLOW: Why?

DODD: Well, because I think a lot of banks are doing a good job. I mean, there are 8,000 banks in this country. To acquire every institution, every state, to establish the same moratorium, while that's appealing politically, actually it could do some real damage to the economy as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right. So he has a very good point there, Tony.

Politically, that might fly, to freeze all foreclosures. It could do major, major damage to the housing market. The states' attorneys general, as I said, in all 50 states looking into this.

We'll keep you posted. But the bottom line here, there could have been major fraud. We want to see what that means for homeowners in this situation.

HARRIS: Poppy, appreciate it. Good stuff. Thank you.

HARLOW: You got it.

HARRIS: Let's take a step back and take a look at the big picture here. To do that, let's bring in our chief business correspondent.

Come on in, Ali. What's your take on this and the ripple effects through the housing -- yes?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Boy, it's a couple of things.

One is, I've done a story just recently on Bank of America, and it's ridiculous process in foreclosing on a guy in Philadelphia who was trying pay and made a deal. I think the banks have operated absolutely ridiculously through this entire thing.

HARRIS: You do?

VELSHI: I think it's unfair. I absolutely do. But I also think the banks are right in saying there are probably not a whole lot of people who were otherwise going to be foreclosed upon who are getting -- so I think if you're getting your house foreclosed, I don't think this is going to be a big difference to you.

HARRIS: You were obligated as the bank -- correct me if I'm wrong here -- to say to Tony Harris, hey, look, Tony, I know you're having problems with your mortgage, this, that and the other, and you know we're starting this process here with you, but there are options available to you. Mitigation may be an option. You are obligated, Ali, as the bank to tell me that before --

VELSHI: Well, maybe morally obligated. Not legally obligated. And I'll give the banks this -- no one was prepared for the number of foreclosures they were going to face, so they weren't staffed up for it.

Still, it does not allow you to do things wrongly. And it's certainly -- according to that lawyer that Poppy just spoke to -- and I agree with him -- we have rules. You can't put a form in that's fraudulent.

So here's the issue. Two issues. One is, the banks need to be dealt with, and I think they should be dealt with harshly. I really think the banks need to feel some pain for the way they've treated America.

HARRIS: All right. What are you suggesting here?

VELSHI: Well, I mean, that -- you heard Dodd say --

HARRIS: It's money. It's about money, isn't it?

VELSHI: I think they should be fined. But, you know, it doesn't --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Yes, there you go.

VELSHI: Now, let's talk about what happens to the rest of us. You're being foreclosed on, there might be a bit of a delay on the sale of your home. It doesn't mean that there's a delay on the eviction that you're going to have. So it's going to affect people foreclosed on the least.

If you're trying to buy a foreclosure, which is very common these days -- low interest rates, cheap houses out there -- there's probably going to be a delay on that. And if you wanted to sell your home, now there are more homes that are not being sold that are accumulating on the market, and that's going to affect that slow recovery we've seen in home prices.

HARRIS: Yes.

VELSHI: So, bottom line is, the banks did something that has once again has set us back. And I just wish there was some appropriate punishment, because they really have not staffed themselves properly. They haven't done this. And if these allegations are true, that there were actually people fraudulently making up documents or signing things they didn't see, that's very worrisome.

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

All right. Terrific stuff, Ali.

Ali Velshi, our chief business correspondent, and the host of CNN NEWSROOM at the top of the hour.

Good to see you, sir.

VELSHI: All right, buddy.

HARRIS: Twitter buzzing today about that testy Delaware Senate debate. We will show you what everybody is talking about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: The crucial midterm elections now just 19 days away, and we are your political headquarters as the candidate take on issues like the economy and health care.

In the Delaware Senate race, Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell squared off against Democrat Chris Coons. Here are some of the highlights from last night, starting with this exchange over health care reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Uncle Sam has no business coming in the examination room, coming in between you and your doctor. And that's exactly what this --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Christine, give some concrete example of how -- that's a great slogan, and you toss it around everywhere you go. But how does this bill actually put Uncle Sam in the examination room --

O'DONNELL: It dictates what kind of --

COONS: And if so, why did the organization that fights for and represents America's nurses, America's seniors, America's hospitals and America's doctors all endorse and support this bill?

O'DONNELL: And many of those branches on the state level, including here in Delaware, have said that we don't support what the national office has done. It gives the government the ability to say what kind of treatment a doctor can and can't do, what kind it will fund.

COONS: So they jokingly called me a bearded Marxist. If you take five minutes and read the article, it's clear on the face of it, it was a joke. Despite that, my opponent and lots of folks in the right-wing media have endlessly spun this. I am not now nor have I ever been anything but a clean shaven capitalist.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DONNELL: Well, I would stand to disagree, because, first of all, if you're saying what I said on a comedy show is relevant to this election, then, absolutely, you writing an article -- forget the "bearded Marxist" comment. You writing an article saying that you learned your beliefs from an articulate, intelligent Marxist professor, and that's what made you become a Democrat, that should send chills up the spine of every Delaware voter, because then if you compare that statement to your policies --

COONS: If it were true, I would agree. It's not accurate and it's not true. NANCY KARIBJANIAN, COO-MODERATOR: What opinions of late that have come from our high court do you most object to?

O'DONNELL: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

KARIBJANIAN: Actually, I can't, because I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O'DONNELL: I'm very sorry. Right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot. But I'll put it up on my Web site.

COONS: There's been lots of discussion in the national media about things my opponent has said or done that I frankly think are a distraction from the core issues that Delawareans ask about, ask both of us about.

What would you do in Washington?

O'DONNELL: You're just jealous that you weren't on "Saturday Night Live."

COONS: I'm dying to see who's going to play me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK.

The latest CNN/"TIME"/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Coons with a 19-point lead.

Secretive and independent political groups are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into this election, now just 19 days away. Earlier this week, Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash looked into groups supporting the GOP. Today, she puts the Democrats in focus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president rails against Republicans for flooding the airwaves with money from shadowy outside groups.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are these innocuous names like Americans for Prosperity, or Americans for apple pie.

BASH (on camera): But take a look at these innocuous sounding names. America's Families First Action Fund, Citizens for Strength and Security Action Fund -- and these are Democratic outside groups set up just like Republican groups the president slams. They don't have to disclose who's funding them.

(voice-over): They run ads supporting Democrats, like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Senator Murray knows small businesses are the engines of job creation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And pump money into hard-hitting ads against GOP candidates, like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Congressman Steve Pearce -- named one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH (on camera): America's Families First Action Fund helped pay for this ad. Now, this is an outside group run by a Democratic insider. CNN is told it's someone who used to head up party efforts to elect House Democrats and he started the group five weeks ago to try to compete with Republicans.

DAVE LEVINTHAL, OPENSECRETS/CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: This is shot something that is exclusive to Republican organizations or Democratic organizations, not to the left or right. This is, in a way, a free for all, kind of the Wild West of campaign contributions.

BASH (voice-over): Democrats are also using a new weapon in the big money game, super PACs. One of the biggest, Patriot Majority, is running ads against Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's opponent in Nevada.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: For a victim of rape or incest, Sharron Angle would force her to have the baby. Angle says --

SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: Two wrongs don't make a right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Super PACs work independently of candidates. And unlike regular political action committees, they can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to try to defeat those candidates. They also must disclose their donors. And Democrats who formed these groups say that adds transparency.

(voice-over): Patriot Majority is funned mostly by unions and liberal-leaning groups.

Craig Varoga runs Patriot Majority and said it's poised to pound Republican candidates with $10 million this election cycle. That's a lot less than some of the big Republican groups, but Varoga says he believes Democrats must try.

CRAIG VAROGA, PATRIOT MAJORITY PAC: They are Goliath and we are David. We are fighting back. And, you know, we're going to use the slingshot that we have in order to fight this fight. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash live from New York with us now.

And Dana, look, Democrats are doing it, too, putting up outside ads, some paid for by anonymous donors. But are they keeping pace with Republicans? Is it even close?

BASH: It is not even close, Tony. In fact, there's a new study out that says that this year, in the 2010 election cycle, Republican outside groups are outpacing Democrats 9-1.

Still, you know, we do have to point out, as we did earlier, that the president is railing against them. But there are Democrats who are doing it.

And I've got to tell you, there are Democrats who I've talked to in working on this story, Tony, who are really frustrated, because they say that in some Democratic circles, people are pretty upset with the president for railing against these Republican shadowy groups because it has made it harder to get money from Democratic donors because they say, look, for better or worse, this is the game, this is the playing field, and we have to be out there to try and compete. And it's much harder, especially in this bad climate for Democrats, already to get money from Democratic donors, but even more so with the president saying what he's saying.

HARRIS: Hey, if you've got a second, tell us about this Bloomberg poll that shows Democratic attacks on these anonymous donations might actually be working.

BASH: It is very interesting. This is a poll that came out yesterday that says that 47 percent of Americans, if they see an ad that is put up for a candidate, or against a candidate from an anonymous donor, that that would make them think twice about voting for the candidate it is supposed to support. But part of the problem is, that might be well and good, but who knows if you're a viewer or a voter sitting at home watching television, and you see an ad, it's not entirely clear whether or not the ad is put up by a group that is funded by anonymous donors. And therein lies the big problem with all of this money and the way it is flowing into the election cycle this year.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

OK. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash for us.

Dana, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's get you to Chile now. And tell me who's speaking now.

We promised you a news conference at the top of the hour, when we would learn the latest information on the condition of the miners.

And who is speaking now? OK. The mining minister is speaking now. Let's have a listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LAURENCE GOLBORNE, CHILEAN MINING MINISTER (through translator): -- the effort of hundreds of people who have been working 24 hours a day for 70 days to carry out this rescue operation. So I really want to publicly thank each one of the persons that have worked here, from those who provided food, safety, hygiene, the drillers, the engineers, the technicians, both national and international, that have helped in this task, which has been titanic.

To rescue these 33 miners and bring them back to the surface so that they can continue their normal lives, that was our goal, the challenge that President Pinera put in front of us. They have returned to the surface, and we hope they are going to be able to return to their normal lives, as well as everybody that has participated in this rescue.

Thank you very much. And if you want, we'll answer some questions.

(APPLAUSE)

That reflects the professional ability of everybody that worked in this project. Here, we have a human group which is excellent, top level, and the team that we put together here worked like a clock thanks to the personal skills of each one of them.

Here, we had both things, great professionals and excellent people. And we had a very united team with a single goal, and that allowed us to progress really well. If we had any problem or difference, we resolved it directly, and that kind of thing really helps real-time work in a team.

(APPLAUSE)

It was an enormous satisfaction. And really, to finish this job that we had been working on for such a long time, when Lorenzo came out to the surface, everybody was really moved -- all the engineers, technicians, everybody. There was tears in everybody's eyes, and that reflects what we all feel.

We're hugely moved. All our hard work was culminating successfully. And when the last rescuer came out, when the operation finished, when Manuel Gonzales (ph) came to the surface, the joy was -- really overflowed, and really everybody was really happy to have really met the goal, a goal for the country, a challenge that was put to us by the president --

HARRIS: And there you have it. Just wanted to give you a bit of the flavor of the news conference going on right now from Chile.

The mining minister, a pretty big, warm "thank you" to everyone who was a part of that rescue effort to extricate those 33 miners from that mine. Sixty-nine days down there, and they seem to be in pretty good condition.

One of the miners with pneumonia will spend a few extra days in the hospital. Some dental surgeries to be performed. But largely, the men appear to be in really good shape. It will take some days, weeks, months and maybe even longer to fully assess the mental condition of these men, but we love this story, we'll continue to follow it for you.

We're back in a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: One man sacrifices nearly everything he has fighting for medical marijuana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE ELLIS, MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATE: I started using cannabis medicinally in the mid to late '80s. I've used it recreationally, like many people of our generation.

HARRIS: Find out what this public health professional did that changed the course of his life and why he is now lobbying for pot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Marijuana is on four state ballots this November. And California voters will decide on Prop 19, which would allow small amounts of marijuana on a person to be legal and taxable. In South Dakota and Arizona, the issue is legalizing marijuana to treat various medical conditions. And in Oregon, where medical marijuana has been legal for some time now, the question before voters, should the sale of medical marijuana be available through dispensaries?

Now, for the past week, CNN NEWSROOM has been asking a close look at the marijuana argument as it stands today and asking what "yes" votes could mean for Americans in the future.

Bernie Ellis wants Tennessee to be the first state in the South to legalize medical marijuana, but he is facing an uphill battle in a conservative state. The reason he started this fight is very personal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELLIS: Come on, big dog.

HARRIS (voice-over): Bernie Ellis grows more than 40 varieties of vegetables on his farm in Fly, Tennessee.

ELLIS: I've been part of this farm since I was 19 years old.

HARRIS: One crop used to be marijuana.

ELLIS: I've used it recreationally like many people of our generation.

HARRIS: Ellis, who worked for more than three decades as a public health epidemiologist, developed degenerative joint disease in his hips and spine, then fibromyalgia.

ELLIS: I found, and really it was almost an accidental finding, that if I was using cannabis or when I used it, that I had much less pain and more flexibility in my joints, and I slept much better.

HARRIS: Ellis says for more than 20 years, he grew pot and gave it away for free to people in his community who had terminal illnesses.

ELLIS: If anyone let me know of someone who was sick, I would reach out.

HARRIS: But Ellis is no longer supplying marijuana to anyone after a federal raid eight years ago.

ELLIS: I was out cutting the grass around my berries when I saw a helicopter flying right at treetop level, and I knew immediately that he had seen some of my cannabis growing.

HARRIS: Ellis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in a federal halfway house in Nashville. The government auctioned off 25 acres of his farm. Now as a convicted felon, he says he can't get a job carrying out his public health consulting work, work that used to bring him $100,000 a year. He lives on food stamps and loans from relatives.

ELLIS: It would be a lot tougher, it would have all been tougher if I had felt even for a moment ashamed of what I had done or felt guilty.

HARRIS: Ellis is now trying to get a bill passed in Tennessee legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Tennessee legislator Beverly Marrero is co-sponsoring the bill in the state senate. Her son-in-law, a cancer survivor, used it to fight nausea while under going chemotherapy.

BEVERLY MARRERO (D), TENNESSEE STATE SENATE: If there is a natural substance that is easily available and might not be so horribly expensive, I would think that what we're trying to do is provide the greatest relief to the largest number of people.

HARRIS: But critics say the legislation isn't needed. They say there are other medications to treat nausea and other symptoms. And they fear the drug could end up in the hands of people who aren't sick. Ellis won't say whether he is still smoking marijuana, but he says he won't stop lobbying to make marijuana legal.

ELLIS: The one thing I'm thankful for in all of this this nightmare is that I've been free to speak up both for the plant, but for the people, the plant the helps. And again, for science, common sense and compassion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Now, under the bill backed by Ellis, doctors would prescribe medical cannabis to patients who meet certain requirements. It would be grown by licensed Tennessee farmers and taxed by the government. And it would be dispensed through pharmacies to prevent abuse.

Texas officials vow to push forward in their search for the body of an American man allegedly gunned down by Mexican drug cartels. But after Mexico's lead investigator in the case is beheaded, will the search on Falcon Lake die, too?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know, it has been two weeks now since an American man was reportedly shot by Mexican pirates on the lake bordering Texas, and two days since the lead Mexican investigator in the case was beheaded. The question now, can the investigation and search for David Hartley's body even move forward? Our Ed Lavandera has the latest on the case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Texas investigators say they will continue the search for David Hartley's body around Falcon Lake in South Texas, but they do say the likelihood of finding his body as each day goes by grows slimmer and slimmer. But really, what they're trying to do is send a message, especially to the Mexican side after just a few days ago, the decapitated head of the lead investigator was delivered to an Army office in a Mexican border town. They say that that has had a chilling effect, and the message is clear: those Mexican investigators are supposed to stop the search and stop the investigation.

Drug cartels are suspected to be behind the assassination perhaps not only of David Hartley, but also of this lead investigator. Interestingly enough, we spoke with Tiffany Hartley yesterday. She told us that last Wednesday, she met with this investigator, a meeting that lasted about an hour at a border check point here in the McCallan area, and she says six days after that, this investigator was murdered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIFFANY HARTLEY, WIFE OF DAVID HARTLEY: I met him. He sat right next to me. We talked through translator. He just seemed like a really good guy who really just wanted to do good for his country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you worry the next person's going to say, hey, look, I saw what happened to the guy before me. I'm not interested.

HARTLEY: Yes. It is. It makes me worried that nobody's going to want to take over. But right now, they're still searching. And until they decide that you know, they need to back off or whatever. Until that day comes -- but right now, we're still asking, please search for David. Please find him so we can go home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Tiffany Hartley also tells us that early on in this investigation, she had spent almost four hours with Mexican officials, making her statements about what had happened. That she filled out a lot of paperwork with Mexican officials. Now, she's being told they want her to come back to Mexico, that a lot of that paperwork has been lost, that they want her to make a lot of these statements back to investigators again. They want her to come to Mexico to do that, but she tells me she has no interest in crossing the border and going over there to speak to Mexican officials and make those statements over there. She just doesn't feel safe doing that.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, McCallan, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: An emotional hearing for the accused Fort Hood shooter. Victims and witnesses describing the horror that was unleashed that awful day last November.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Taking a look at top stories right now. The man accused of trying to blow up a plane on Christmas Day with explosives in his underwear faces his first court hearing since firing his lawyers. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is representing himself in the case.

Mexican authorities say they will not stop their search for a missing Texas man despite the beheading of their lead investigator. Tiffany Hartley told police her husband, David, was shot by Mexican drug pirates while they were sightseeing on their Jet-Skis on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake. His body has not been found.

And drug related violence is the reason the Jonas brothers have canceled their up coming concert in Monterrey, Mexico. The boy band says their Mexico City concern will go on.

A big night of political debates for U.S. Senate candidates. Who won in Delaware and Connecticut? An update on stories hot off the Political Ticker is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. Only 19 days before America votes in the midterm elections. Last night, U.S. Senate candidates debated in Delaware and Connecticut where the political ads have been especially ugly. John King, part of "The Best Political Team On Television," joining us now from the political desk in Washington.

John, good to see you. How did the candidates in those states do? How did they perform last night?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, it's interesting. The Delaware debate was interesting. How did they perform? You know, it's interesting (ph). I've covered politics for 25 years. Sometimes you watch a debate and I might have an impression, but what I think doesn't matter. It's the voters of Delaware who will make that decision.

Let's get to some sound from that debate in a second, but let's go through some other big things moving on the ticker first.

We got a number of new polls coming out in some of the most hotly contested Senate races. Connecticut is one of them.

HARRIS: Yes.

KING: The Democratic attorney general, Dick Blumenthal, running against Linda McMahon. She used to run the wrestling organization, remember. Well, the Democratic state and Blumenthal opening up now a 54 to 43 percent lead. And that, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out today of likely voters. So Democrats feeling more confident about that one.

Not so much when you look at the state of Nevada. The Democratic Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, running against the Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite, Sharron Angle. "Los Vegas Review Journal" poll of likely voters out today, Reid 45, Angle 47. A Suffolk University poll out has that one, Reid 46, Angle 43. So a dead heat essentially out of the state of Nevada. The Democratic senatorial campaign committee, the big national campaign over the Democrats, going to send Harry Reid another $2 million plus, Tony. That is proof positive Democrats are nervous about that one.

Now, back to where we started.

HARRIS: Yes.

KING: Wolf Blitzer was a co-moderator of that debate last night up in Delaware. Democrat Chris Coons, Republican Christine O'Donnell. A lot of debate and conflict over the role and reach of government during the Obama administration. Listen to this exchange here where Christine O'Donnell is essentially saying the Obama health care plan will put the government between you and your doctor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Uncle Sam has no business coming in the examination room, coming between you and your doctor, and that's exactly what this bill does.

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: This does not give massive control to Uncle Sam over health care. Christine, give some concrete example of how -- that's a great slogan. You toss it around everywhere you go. But how does this bill actually put Uncle Sam in the examination room between doctors and --

O'DONNELL: It dictates what kind of --

COONS: And if so, why did the organization that fights for and represents America's nurses, America's seniors, America's hospitals and America's doctors all endorse and support this bill?

O'DONNELL: And many of those branches on the state level, including here in Delaware, have said that we don't support what the national office has done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So, Tony, you see the flash point there in Delaware.

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

KING: And this is playing out all across the country. Republicans making the case that there's too much government power and influence in the new health care bill. Democrats are saying, hey, wait a minute, maybe you don't like the fact that Congress passed this big bill, but Uncle Same or nobody from the government is going to get between you and your doctor. It's still a debate out there in the country.

And one of the flash points, Christine O'Donnell is a conservative. And she says there's been too much government in the first two years of the Obama administration. It was an interesting debate. Chris Coons went into it with a double digit lead. His camp is quite confident that he performed well in that debate.

HARRIS: John, I got one more for you. I'll ask it this way, because the other way I'm thinking in my head is a little loaded. Which of the candidates, look, put your analyst hat on here for a second. Not your show host hat, your analyst had. And which of these candidates in that -- that was an entertaining debate to watch last night -- did the most for their particular cause?

KING: I would say this from my analyst perspective --

HARRIS: Yes.

KING: That Mr. Coons could go into that debate playing it relatively safe in the sense that the state is a Democratic state. She is on issues like abortion, stem cell research, and perhaps even on some of the spanning (ph) issues, a bit to the right of the voters of Delaware in the past. Everything we know about Delaware says that Christine O'Donnell is interesting an intriguing a candidate as she is, is to the right of the general electorate, the full electorate, of the state of Delaware. Mr. Coons wanted to go in and make the case that he's an independent voice, but that he's a Democrat and that he shares those values.

His camp was very, very confident, I would say, that he came out of the debate in a -- he did not hurt himself in the debate and he went in with a comfortable lead. That's the traditional way of looking at this.

The only caveat I would add, Tony, is this. That she wasn't supposed to win the primary and this is a very unpredictable, strange year. So I'm not sure the traditional way we keep score applies. Under the traditional way, a victory for Mr. Coons. But, we'll see.

HARRIS: There he is, John King, the host of "John King USA," 7:00 p.m. weeknights right here on CNN.

John, appreciate it. Thank you.

And your next political update coming up in one hour. For the latest political news, just go to cnnpolitics.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: So we haven't -- we haven't been together for "What's Hot" in a while. Good to see you, Josh, for "What's Hot."

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good to see you, too. It's good to be back.

HARRIS: This Courtney Cox and David Arquette story. What, are they separated? Is it a breakup? Are they divorced? Or getting --

LEVS: Separated. They're separated officially.

HARRIS: OK.

LEVS: Yes, I mean like it's not the most important story in the world, but it's totally what's hot, right?

HARRIS: Right. Yes.

LEVS: We're talking about what's hot online. It's guys (ph). I mean, OK, so here's the thing. They put out this statement the other day that I read and I saw it on Yahoo!. I thought it was really well written, it was really classy, talking about --

HARRIS: As a couple they put out the statement?

LEVS: Yes, it was as a couple. They put out a statement. They announced their separation. They were saying that they needed this to get to know themselves as people and what they needed in a spouse.

HARRIS: And then what happened?

LEVS: It was so impressive and classy. Then he goes and does pretty much the most unclassy thing you can do. Right after that he goes on Howard Stern --

HARRIS: Look at this. Look at this. I love this line, I went on Howard Stern yesterday to provide clarity and honesty.

LEVS: Yes.

HARRIS: You go on Howard Stern to do that?

LEVS: I know.

HARRIS: OK.

LEVS: It's just so obviously the exact opposite of class, to go on Howard Stern, talk about having sex with someone else. HARRIS: Right.

LEVS: So now he's apologizing for that. This is cnn.com here. We link you to "People" magazine. Everyone's reading this thing. And David Arquette is now apologizing for having gone on Howard Stern and talked about -- made these comments that he says wasn't appropriate.

HARRIS: Please, Courtney, please.

LEVS: He's tweeting over here. He's writing about it. And he ends by saying, I'm sure Courtney and myself will emerge from this painful time better people for what we've learned.

HARRIS: All right.

LEVS: So there's that story, hot online.

This other story, local here in Atlanta, where this rapper, T.I. --

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: Talks -- because you probably were hearing the breaking news with me yesterday, right?

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: We saw, you know, there was someone on top of this major building in midtown Atlanta. T.I., the rapper --

HARRIS: The rapper.

LEVS: Goes out of his way. He was off to shoot a video. Instead, he goes to the scene, starts talking to the cops. They put together a video message. They get it to the guy at the top of the building. The guy comes down.

HARRIS: Really?

LEVS: He's now getting treatment, getting better. And apparently rapper T.I., who has had his own run-ins with the law and actually has a probation (INAUDIBLE) hearing tomorrow in Atlanta --

HARRIS: Really?

LEVS: Helped this guy come back down.

HARRIS: He just happened to be in the neighborhood.

LEVS: That's what people say. But apparently it is true that he had something scheduled and he really did go drive by. But we're not inside his schedule. We're not his planners. So we don't know. But, yes, the skepticism is as widespread online as the story.

HARRIS: Really?

LEVS: I know. I hear you. But I think it happened.

HARRIS: All right. We're back in a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Boy, it was a rescue that had the world riveted. In the middle of all of that hugging and smooching, the big issue for one miner was weather his wife or his mistress would show up. Or both. CNN's Jeanne Moos mines the rescue video for the best moments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hold on to 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 laugher. 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.

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 Johny 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 Johny resurfaced. Though Chilean TV identified her as the wife, fixing her hair before the reunion.

Barbara Walters joked that the miners' predicament might lead him to say --

BARBARA WALTERS, "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 thanks to cameras that captured the miners from every angle.

The most exuberant miner was talking, yelling, let's go, let's go. Even before he got to the surface, they called 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: I am -- Ali, I don't know about you, but I'm still buzzing on that story. What, a couple days later. That thing will carry me for the next week.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I agree with you. It's nice to have a good story.

HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy.

VELSHI: Tony, you have a great one, buddy.

HARRIS: You, too, sir.

VELSHI: Tony Harris.