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Countdown to Election Day; Miners Tell Their Tale; Barbara Billingsley Dies at 94; President and First Lady Campaigning

Aired October 17, 2010 - 19:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: OK. A chance discovery in France to tell you about; it has led to one more fallen American soldier coming home. A bracelet with the soldier's name, rank, and his serial number was found in a French forest where he and two other American soldiers died in World War II. The man who found the bracelet eventually tracked down the family of Private Clayton Hellums in Randolph, Mississippi. Last weekend, Hellums' remains were laid to rest with full military honors.

It is not a sight that we see very often, and that is President Obama and the first lady on the campaign trail together. It's happening this hour in Ohio. We saw the plane land, Air Force One, just moments ago there. The latest sign that with just 16 days until the midterm election, Democrats face potentially big trouble and they're working hard to hold on to power in Washington.

Our Ed Henry is at Ohio State University, and Ed, you know this is unusual to see the president and the first lady as we said on the campaign trail together, isn't it? What should we expect?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it's funny. Just a short while ago when they were in Cleveland they were at a fund-raiser together for the governor, Ted Strickland. They were doing like a little comedy routine going back and forth.

The first lady started out serious. And the reason why they have her out there is for that sort of light touch that the First Lady brings. She was saying, look this is my husband and, you know, we love him so much and all of that, and they bring her out here in part for that to show sort of the softer side of the president.

But then the president was sort of teasing her and saying normally he gets to come out here on the campaign trail, he's all alone just with his iPod. But this time in Air Force One, he was getting her telling him what to do and the crowd was sort of laughing about that, the sort of husband/wife back and forth.

This enables the president to not just be out here beating up on the Republicans as he does in a lot these events. Go back and forth on the issues, also in a substantive way beyond the attacks, but it enables him to come out here with his wife.

They did this a lot in 2008. This is something they want to revive at least here at the end. And while there's been a lot of maybe pessimism among some Democrats in private, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was out today basically trying to say the glass is more than half full and he believes they'll keep control of Congress. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that Democrats are out effectively making a case for the steps that they've taken to rescue the economy, stabilize our financial system, to reform our education and to get our foreign policy moving again.

And I think come November on election night Democrats will retain control of the House and the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now last night the Ohio State Buckeyes, the football team, was knocked out of the top spot in the nation, a crushing loss on the road to Wisconsin. Some people here a little upset about that obviously on campus, but I can tell you there's thousands of them behind me. Some students, some people from the local area in Columbus. They have streamed in here waiting for the president to arrive.

John Legend, an Ohio native is going to be singing. He's going to be out here in about 15 or 20 minutes and then we expect the president and the first lady about an hour from now, Don.

LEMON: Ok, so listen, the band sounds good. Is that the school band there? It sounds good.

HENRY: Yes. It looks like it is just over there. I saw them in their uniform. They're all in red. It's a dead giveaway it's an Ohio State band.

LEMON: So, what I'm leading up to though, that it is festive out there and the mood sounds good, but I'm wondering about the mood of Democrats with just 16 days until the midterm elections and if this really is going to make a difference.

HENRY: It's going to make a big difference for the final two years of at least the first term of the Obama administration. We'll see whether or not he gets a second term. But the bottom line is you heard from Robert Gibbs trying to protect that optimism. He was on NBC's "Meet the Press" today.

You remember, last time he was on that program in July he suggested maybe Democrats might lose control of Congress which really is sort of obvious that they might lose control of Congress but that upset a lot of elected Democratic officials. They're trying to project optimism.

What's the real answer behind the scenes? I think there's maybe not pessimism but realism among Democrats in private that I talked to, very senior ones who say look -- look at where the president is traveling right now.

For example in a few days he's going to be going on a West Coast swing where he's going to be defending Democratic incumbents like Patty Murray in Washington, Barbara Boxer in California, Harry Reid in Nevada. This is all playing defense, it's not going on offense, going to Republican states to trying to reach out to independent voters and expand the Democratic majority.

They're realistic about it. They realize cyclically in the first midterm election of any new president you're going to lose seats in the House and Senate. The question is how many, and the reason why he's doing rallies like this with the first lady is to make sure their base gets out. Close that enthusiasm gap we've heard so much.

Republicans excited to go to the polls. He wants to make sure all his people on the Democratic side show up in key states like Ohio, as well Don.

LEMON: Hey, Ed Henry, with the president, did he land at the main airport there?

HENRY: Yes, that's where we landed earlier and I believe --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: How far away is that?

HENRY: It can't be more than about ten minutes. That was the bus ride we had earlier today. He's going to, I should point out, be backstage though doing a little bit of fund-raising with some local folks here like he did earlier in Cleveland. So a lot of the other local elected officials, the mayor, the governor, others, will be on stage before him. We will see him in about 45, 50 minutes.

LEMON: Yes, I say that because we're showing the motorcade live leaving the airport there, Ed, as you were speaking. So, we're just wondering how long it's going to take the president to get there.

Ed Henry, thank you very much. Because the president -- this president is often early, so as we watch that motorcade go there where Ed Henry is now and the first lady and president will be speaking, they're saying they're going to be there close to the top of the hour but again you never know because the president does -- he's one of the early ones as opposed to Bill Clinton, a little bit late sometimes and then George Bush who they said was always on time.

So we may get some of it live here in this newscast. Stick around.

Meantime, we want to go to our Mark Preston; he's standing by live in Washington. So, Mark, less than two years ago President Obama was on top of the world. I guess he was president-elect then. Now his approval ratings, really in the mid-40s and he's obviously the main issue right now is the economy. What else is fueling though this Republican resurgence right now? MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Don, it's nothing that's happening here in Washington, D.C. And when I say that, it's not the Republican establishment or the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill. This is being driven by grassroots activism, grassroots activism that we saw really pop up in full force right around August 2009 around the health care debate when we saw these town halls flare up across the country.

These are the Tea Party activists, Don. And look, by and large, these Tea Party activists have often been at odds with the GOP establishment here in Washington, D.C.

LEMON: Mark, I was talking to you yesterday and Michael Steele and Sarah Palin both speaking out in Anaheim, California. Listen to Michael Steele and we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There is no struggle, rift, fight between those who claim the banner of the Tea Party and those who are in the Republican Party. We work together. We're working together -- we're working together to defeat Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Ok, Mark. It sounds good. Is it true though?

PRESTON: It's a half-truth, right, Don?

LEMON: Wait, wait, wait. A half-truth? What is a half-truth? My mom told me there was never a half-truth.

PRESTON: There is a half-truth. Let me explain it to you this way. Look, the Tea Party activists in the Republican establishment have the united goal of defeating Democrats, of defeating Nancy Pelosi, of defeating Harry Reid, of taking back congress. But what they're not on board with is that the Tea Party activists are still very angry at the GOP establishment and we saw that during the Republican primaries.

We saw Bob Bennett and Lisa Murkowski lose to Tea Party candidates. We have seen Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, who was expected to walk into the senate seat down there, get really pushed out of that primary by a Tea Party-backed candidate.

So it is a half-truth. Look, what's going to happen is the Tea Party is going to help Republicans make major gains here in Washington, perhaps take back the House of representatives, maybe take back the Senate, but on November 3rd, Don, the heart and soul of the Republican Party is on the table and I think the GOP establishment is really going to have to reckon with what the Tea Party activists have been talking about for the past 18, 20 months.

LEMON: All right. I wonder if that's one of the slots on a lie detector. The suspect is telling a half-truth. Mark Preston -- PRESTON: Oh, come on. I explained it adequately.

LEMON: All right. Yanking your tail a little bit. Thank you, sir.

PRESTON: Thanks.

LEMON: You know if you bought frozen vegetables from Wal-mart or Kroger stores recently, we have a recall to tell you about, you want to pay close attention to.

Imagine being trapped underground for more than two weeks with only half a spoonful of tuna to eat. We're getting new details from the 33 trapped miners; you'll hear them next.

Don't just sit there. We want you to be part of this conversation. I'm Twittering in the breaks here talking to a lot of folks. Join us on Twitter or Facebook. Our blog is at cnn.com/don. We're on Four Square as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In Chile the rescued miners are recovering and recounting their first days of being buried alive. Most thought that they would never get out alive. Here is CNN's Karl Penhaul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The last miner out, wheeled in for treatment. Buried alive for 70 days, now they're safe.

In this video shot by a freelance writer with press access to the field hospital, the miners tell how they resigned themselves to death but battled for life.

Richard Villaruel was miner number 28 out of the hole. "We were waiting for death because our own bodies were eating themselves. I was afraid I would never meet my son," he says. Villaruel shows a bottle cap and explains how they survive the first 17 days, cut off from a world that had almost given them up for dead.

"Every day we ate just half a plastic spoonful of tuna. We drank water but it wasn't pure. It was mine water and tasted of machine oil, but we had to drink it," he says.

True grit (ph) that has brought them back to the ones they most love.

Raul Bustos to his wife, Carolina. Ariel Ticona to Baby Hope, the little girl born while he languished underground.

The agony began mid-shift August 5th when the mine caved in. "The mountain and the roof of the tunnel shook and the mountain began to break up. We could only see one or two meters ahead. We drove off in a truck but we crashed it because we couldn't see anything," he says. This man, shift foreman, Luis Urzua, gave them the bad news straight. They may live, but more likely they'd die.

"We had a boss who every day said we must stay strong. If they find us, they find us, and if not, not. The probes passed a long way away and we lost hope. We got strength from inside ourselves and from praying. I never prayed before, but I learned down there."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That was CNN's Karl Penhaul reporting.

And make sure you stay with CNN for more on the miners' dramatic rescue. It was a story of hope and inspiration that captivated the world as the 33 Chilean miners came out of the doomed mine one by one.

An "AC 360 SPECIAL" that you don't want to miss coming up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

All right. It's time right now to check your top stories. A major recall to tell you about: some frozen vegetables sold at Wal- mart and Kroger may contain glass fragments. The recalled products include 12-ounce bags of Kroger Green Peas, Kroger Peas and Carrots, Great Value Steamable Sweet Peas and Great Value Steamable Mixed Vegetables. You can find the product codes at cnn.com and you can return the veggies to the store you bought them for -- where you bought them from -- a complete refund.

Police say an argument over a parking space led to the death of an off-duty detective outside a restaurant in Baltimore. Eighteen- year veteran Brian Stevenson was killed when he was hit in the head with a chunk of concrete. The accused attacker faces first-degree murder charges tonight. Stevenson was out celebrating his 30th birthday when he was killed.

No resolution yet between News Corp and two of its cable and satellite providers. The fee dispute means millions of subscribers to CableVision and the Dish Network have had some of their cable channels blacked out. Cablevision says News Corp is asking for too much money in a weak economy. News Corp says it provides quality programming and should be paid accordingly. Talks are set to resume tomorrow.

Pop star Justin Bieber likes to play but does he play nice? That's the question. Canadian media outlets say Bieber was thrown out of a laser tag facility in British Columbia and it's under investigation for assault. A 12-year-old boy says Bieber hit him and filed a complaint. Some witnesses say Bieber accidentally hit the boy during a game. One of Bieber's reps is denying the incident happened.

Coming up on CNN --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was everybody's mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Remembering the woman we all knew as June Cleaver. I'll talk more to her TV son when we come right back.

And there's a movie out that chronicles the story of five kids and their parents as they fight to get a quality education. We'll hear from the producers of that documentary. It's called "Waiting for Superman".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You know, she was America's favorite mom during the golden age of television. We're talking about none other than Barbara Billingsley, best known as June Cleaver on "Leave it to Beaver". She has died. A spokeswoman says she had a long illness and passed away yesterday at her home in Santa Monica, California. The actress was 94 years old.

Tony Dow played her son Wally on the show, "Leave it to Beaver" and he told me just how much she will be missed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY DOW, ACTOR (via telephone): She was such a wonderful lady. I mean everybody just thought she was the greatest. You know, she was very -- great sense of humor, very gracious, you know, just amazing. And I learned a lot about how to treat people and how to be from her.

She was very, very proud of being June Cleaver. There's no doubt about it. And she many times said it's the best thing that ever happened to me, best thing in my life, and she really meant it. She was just happy as a lark being recognized as America's mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We'll let you know about funeral plans when we find out here at CNN.

A new documentary by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim is a critical commentary on the nation's education system. The movie, it's called "Waiting for Superman" follows the struggles of five students as they enter lotteries trying to win spots at various charter schools in hopes of escaping underperforming public schools.

CNN's education contributor Steve Perry runs a Connecticut charter school. He talks with Guggenheim and producer Leslie Chilcott about the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: You said something in a number of interviews that I think a lot of people experience but few ever acknowledge.

You were driving by a school, and then another school, and then another school until you got to your children's private school. Tell me what that -- what happened inside you that made you think, there's something to this story.

GUGGENHEIM: Well, I'd originally said no, when the Participant Media asked us to do the movie about public education. I'd done a movie ten years ago and I said, "No it's just too complicated". Like I don't know how you tell that story.

And the next morning I'm putting my kids in the minivan, you know, with the backpacks and going to school. And I'm a visual person. I go off impressions. And I'm driving. Out of the corner of my eye, I go, that's my neighborhood school.

It was like, is it enough that my kids are doing ok? And what about other people's children? And I said that's the angle in.

PERRY: There's a myth out there. I've run a public school.

GUGGENHEIM: Right.

PERRY: Eighty-five percent of the children in my school are black and Latino, 70 percent are poor. And you punctured a myth that parents from those communities don't care.

GUGGENHEIM: Right.

PERRY: Tell me about what's real about parents in the communities that you were in, and what's a myth?

LESLEY CHILCOTT, PRODUCER, "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN": We would go to parent info night all across the country and we did not find a single parent that didn't care.

Some didn't really know how to advocate for their kids, but they showed. They were filling out applications. They know it's the one thing that they could do right for their kids or for their future, rather, would be to get them into this great school.

PERRY: This movie is more than a movie.

CHILCOTT: Because it's a movie, because it's so emotional, and when you see these five kids, you're like, look at what we have done. Look how we -- what we have done to the system and how we have this crisis. So it's a movie first, and then now it has become a movement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Up next here on CNN --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's because your same-sex and it's inappropriate behavior and, quote, "Nobody wants to see that."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. So listen, what do you think of this story? I want you to send me a tweet. A lesbian couple kicked out of a shopping center for being affectionate with one another. You're going to hear from them.

Plus from vice presidential candidate to reality TV star -- a preview of Sarah Palin's new show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hey listen, we want to get you now live to Ohio State. Can we take that picture? That's Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy there at the podium. She is speaking.

At the same podium, the president is going to be speaking. I can't say look -- she's a lot shorter than that podium. I hope they get a box for her at least and let's hope that the president can be seen and the first lady over those microphones there.

They're going to be speaking shortly and if it happens within this hour, we will bring it to you live right here on CNN.

I'm told their football team was undefeated until last night, right? They're still undefeated? I'm not sure. They lost last night. I don't follow Ohio State.

All right. Seven candidates will meet tomorrow in the New York governor's debate. And while it's not the closest race it's definitely one of the most fun to follow. That's because you may never know what's going to come out of the mouth of Republican candidate Carl Paladino. We certainly know that don't we?

Susan Candiotti has a look at how he's turning this into a must- watch race -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. Will New York GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino's provocative comments about a gay lifestyle play a key role in tomorrow's television debate? Election observers say, you can count on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carl Paladino, hopefully the next governor.

CANDIOTTI: New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino set off a firestorm when he made controversial comments last Sunday about homosexuality.

CARL PALADINO (R), NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.

CANDIOTTI: At a parade the next day, Paladino was peppered with questions.

PALADINO: Children should not be exposed in the schools to the questions of homosexuality. CANDIOTTI: But the day after that, he apologized for quote, "poorly chosen words" that were scripted for him and insisted he's pro-gay rights. End of story?

New York's top GOP leader says it should mean case closed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susan, he apologized. That's it. That's not what the people in New York State really cared about. When you have 17 percent unemployment and underemployment, people are concerned about their jobs.

MICHAEL MUSTO, "VILLAGE VOICE" COLUMNIST: To just say oh, nobody cares, people only care about getting a job or keeping their job. That's baloney.

CANDIOTTI: "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto says gay or straight, a lot of people do care. Musto who is gay wrote an open letter to Paladino ridiculing his apology as "weak attempts to take back vitriol."

MUSTO: When it hit the fan and became front page news that he was so intolerant, he started pulling his foot out of his mouth and did a complete flip flop to say that oh, everyone who knows me know that I've always supported civil rights for gays. This is quite a change. Which Paladino are we to believe?

RABBI YEHUDA LEVIN, FORMER PALADINO SUPPORTER: I just wish he comes back to morality.

CANDIOTTI: The Orthodox rabbi who says he wrote part of Paladino's controversial comments to help him conservative Jewish voters slams Paladino's apology.

LEVIN: After what he did, it's going to be a great dampening of enthusiasm, and that's why for his own good, he has got to find a way of coming back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Paladino insists he supports gay rights 100 percent as he puts it except for gay marriage. A recent Quinnipiac University poll taken just before the controversy puts Paladino at 18 points behind Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Paladino's spokesman me his candidate is not a homophone and that his position on gay marriage is the same as President Obama's. He says Mr. Paladino is ready to take on this issue and everything else at tomorrow night's debate. Don?

LEMON: Susan, thank you.

OK . She has done a lot in the short time that we have known her, not very long really, just in the run up to the 2008 election. Sarah Palin can scratch reality star off of her to-do list now. I want you to check out just a little bit of a preview of her new show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN: Oh, gosh. We are somewhere that people dream about. Family comes first. It's got to be that way. No boys, go upstairs. This is flipping fun. How come we can't ever just be satisfied with tranquility? I would rather be doing this than being in some old political office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's right. Sarah Palin's Alaska debuts on TLC in a month. And you know, it was among the topics on CNN's "Parker Spitzer." Kathleen Parker talked about it with "Huffington Post" Arianna Huffington and model and blogger Paulina Porizkova and Republican strategist, Ed Rollins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN PARKER, CO HOST "PARKER SPITZER": This is a very highly produced, scripted, eight-hour movie for free ad for Sarah Palin. I mean, are we at a point now where, you know, the candidates can just skip the old playbook? She's got a Facebook page. She's got YouTube productions, and now this.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If John McCain picture her as the vice president, you have 98 percent (INAUDIBLE) next day it works. This is going to be a great thing for her. She gets to be independent. She gets to be in her environment. A lot of people are going to watch the show.

ELIOT SPITZER, CO HOST "PARKER SPITZER": Why are they going to watch this?

ROLLINS: Because there's a curiosity. There's a curiosity.

PAULINA PORIZKOVA, MODEL, BLOGGER: It kind of looks like a lengthy, like J. Crew commercial or something to me. Now supermodels can be political candidates?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "HUFFINGTON POST": You have to give her credit for the fact that she really knows how to do social media. I mean, look at her Facebook reach. The fact that she doesn't really need to give an interview to "The New York Times." She can just post something on Facebook.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: There was some praise from the panelists, but Arianna Huffington did go on to say that being media savvy doesn't mean Sarah Palin is qualified to be president. For more smart talk and strong opinions, make sure you watch Kathleen Parker and her co-host Eliot Spitzer every week night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Still ahead a lesbian couple is kicked out of a shopping center for being affectionate. Plus, rapper T.I. saved a man's life to try to stay out of jail. I asked him directly and he also said something else to me directly. He made a promise, you're going to see it. Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. John Legend performing. Let's listen in.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

LEMON: John Legend performing a song called "Green Light." The president and the first lady expected there shortly and if they speak before the top of the hour, you'll see it right here on CNN.

By the way, this is called a Rally to Move America forward. America Forward rally. The president and the first lady at Ohio State University.

Let's talk about T.I., the rapper. He had a whirlwind week. And I had an interview with him. Atlanta police credit him for stopping a suicide two days before he was sentenced to almost a year in prison. The coincidence of events had some questioning T.I.'s motives. Did he save a man to try to stay out of jail or to reduce his sentence? I asked that question to him on the phone before the sentencing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

T.I., RAPPER (via telephone): I heard it, but I mean, I personally believe it's preposterous. I think to believe, to think, assume, or believe that, you would then have to in some way assume or hint to the fact that I talked a man onto the roof in order for me to plan to talk him down. And I think that is preposterous.

I mean, you know, the policemen were there. They can account for my - for how I got involved. The radio station was - they were there. They can account for how I was involved, and the man himself. He can also account for how I got involved. I didn't know this guy. I didn't wake up in the morning to say, hey, let me find a way to go and save someone's life so I can, you know, be looked at favorably come Friday. I mean, this is not something that I could have planned.

LEMON: What would even motivate you to do this? If you think I'm playing above my head, if you're driving in your car, if you're at home, and you hear this on the radio, why would you even go and get involved? The goodness of your heart, what was going on?

T.I.: I mean, there were a couple of things. The first thing just out of sheer - just the first thing when I heard the story, something in my heart just said, man, you got to help. Of course, my mind said, what are you supposed to do? What do you think you are going to be able to do? But my heart said you got to help, you got to try, you got to see.

LEMON: Do you think this was on your heart and on your mind because of what you're dealing with now in the courts that you felt, "hey, listen, I'm dealing with some trouble, but still I'm going to live and I'm going to prosper." Is that maybe why you think you went out to do this, part of the reason?

T.I.: No, I mean, I did not even - my situation never even came into thought. I did not even - my situation never even became a thought in my mind in the process of dealing with this. It was just something that - it was just something that touched my heart. A spirit - god put something on my heart that led me - I could not turn away from.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: During that interview T.I. promised me, he said never again would he get in trouble. He said he was tired, he was worn out, and that there were too many people depending on him. So we'll see if he is going to keep his promises.

Just two days after our talk a federal judge ordered T.I. back to prison for 11 months for violating his probation by being arrested for possessing drugs in Los Angeles. At the time the rapper whose real name is Clifford Harris, was on patrol after being convicted of trying to buy three machine guns two years ago in Atlanta. T.I. is to start his prison time in two weeks.

Time now to check top stories here on CNN. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country is ready to hold talks over nukes. But according to Iranian media, he also warned that Iran won't yield any of its international rights to peaceful nuclear energy development. The U.S. and other world powers fear Iran is developing a nuclear program for military purposes. Iran denies this.

People in the Philippines are bracing for what's being described as a monster storm. A typhoon that's expected to trigger massive flooding and landslides. The storm could pack winds of up to 125 miles per hour. The government is alarmed at the speed and strength of the typhoon. It is expected to make landfall tomorrow afternoon.

Her kidnapping and murder was front page news. Now, more than nine years later the trial of the man accused of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy begins tomorrow in Washington. Ingmar Guandique is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who faces murder and kidnapping charges. Levy was an intern for then Congressman Gary Condit with whom she was romantically linked and who for a time was a suspect in the case.

A lesbian couple kicked out of a mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, having received an apology from the property manager. They have gotten an apology. A security officer asked them to leave saying they were showing too much affection for each other. More from our reporter now, Adam Owens, from CNN affiliate, WRAL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAITLIN BREEDLOVE: It bothers me that it's 2010 and I have to be here.

ADAM OWENS, REPORTER, WRAL (voice-over): Caitlin Breedlove was here sitting on this bench. She says she and her significant other had been holding hands and walking around the Cameron Village Shopping Center. That's when Breedlove says security officer walked up and had this to say -

BREEDLOVE: You have to leave because your behavior is inappropriate.

OWENS: She admits she was showing affection but Breedlove claims it was nothing more than a kiss and a hug. According to her the officer was upset her significant other was another woman.

BREEDLOVE: It's because you're same-sex and it's inappropriate behavior and "nobody wants to see that here at Cameron Village."

OWENS: According to Breedlove, the officer had not received complaints from other people and the public display of affection was minimum.

BREEDLOVE: A couple of people would ask, you know, did you all plan this?

OWENS: Breedlove works for a social justice group and is a gay activist. However, she says the confrontation was not a stunt.

DAN PALATUCCI, RESTAURANT MANAGER: We really just don't discriminate at all. We love everybody that loves our food.

OWENS: Dan Palatucci is the manager of the restaurant where the couple had been eating. He brought the concern to Cameron Village management. He feels they're working to get to the bottom of it. I know that Cameron Village as a whole isn't taking it lightly, and they are aware of it but they're just trying to get information about the incident.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, the property manager at Cameron Village says it's suspended the security guard. It plans to have sensitivity training for all security personnel.

We want to take you now back live to Ohio. You're looking at this event where the president and the first lady are about to speak. It is their first campaign appearance together since the 2008 election. You're listening now to John Legend still performing right now.

When we come right back, we'll talk more about how significant that the president and the first lady are joining forces at this point with just 16 days to go before the midterms.

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LEMON: Live pictures now of Ohio State. The president and first lady getting ready to speak shortly. Nicholas Tool, Nick Tool was the first-time voter back in 2008. He's at the podium now. So let's talk more about this event as we stay there live. Because the Obamas are getting some couple's time on the campaign trail. They are speaking at the rally together in just matter of minutes.

As I said, our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is there. He's standing by live at the campus of Ohio State. And also joined by Nia Malika Henderson, a staff writer for "The Washington Post," who has covered the Obamas extensively. Live now to Ed Henry, and I guess they say united we stand, divided we fall. So the Obamas are back together again on the campaign trail.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly. I mean, we saw Mrs. Obama, maybe a reluctant warrior at the beginning of the 2008 campaign. In fairness, she was home making sure she was watching their two daughters while the president, then senator, was out on the campaign trail. But in the final days, she was certainly out there solo and with him.

This past week we saw her out on the campaign trail in some key Senate battles, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin. Now they're going out together as well, and I think as we saw earlier at a fund-raiser in Cleveland, they were sort of bantering back and forth teasing one another. The president saying normally he's out here with just his iPod out on the campaign trail alone and was sort of teasing her about how she was telling him what to do, what to say out here on the trail while they were on Air Force One. It shows a softer side of the president.

It's clearly effective for him to do that, but he's also got to come out here and talked about the substance in Ohio, a particularly hard hit state with unemployment. They're very frustrated here about the economy. They've got a Democratic governor in Ted Strickland who is about to speak. He's on the ropes right now facing Republican John Kasik. There's a Senate race where Republicans are doing well, several House races as well.

So there's a lot up for grabs here, the president is rolling out the big gun to make sure they get big turnout. Ohio State, obviously, a lot of young people, like this first time voter who voted in 2008.

LEMON: Ed, do you think the president is rolling out the big gun. You would think that would be him, but it's not, it's his wife. So Nia, you know what -

HENRY: Have you seen CNN's poll? 65 approval rating for the first lady.

LEMON: 20 points higher, yes. She's 20 points higher than him. So Nia, a similar question for you, are they more effective together or apart? And why not split them up to cover more ground?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, STAFF WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": They are. I think in some ways more effective together because it's such a reminder of 2008 when they were out there, when they were, you know, an insurgent couple in many ways, the candidate being obviously Barack Obama.

But I think that it kind of like doubling down on that message. So I think they're very much a force multiplier, Michelle Obama comes out there and she can humanize the president and she can talk about him as a person, as a husband, as a father. That very much resonates with the base. It very much resonates with women who are very important voting bloc for Democrats now. Typically, they vote democratic but most polls show that they're not as energized and that's one of the big things that Democrats are facing this election. There's a broad enthusiasm gap so they're bringing out Michelle Obama with the hopes that she can help close that.

LEMON: One more question for Nia before we head back to Ed. There was a time back in the 2008 campaign where the first lady was seen as a liability for some comments. That quickly turned around. Is that ancient history on the campaign trail?

HENDERSON: Well, I think it is for many folks. I mean, that was almost, it was two and a half, almost three years ago by now, by the end of the 2008 campaign she was very much a very strong asset for the president. She was known as the closer because she was so great at connecting with independent voters in leading them to vote for her husband.

And over these last two years, in the White House, she very much has had these high approval ratings, 60, 65 percent and she very much sat on those popularity ratings and they've grown since she's moved into the White House. She's very much an asset. I don't think anyone is worried about her going off script on the trail this time.

LEMON: OK. Back to Ed Henry now, live. Ed, you know, Ohio State suffered a big loss on the football field. They seem to have recouped their spirits right now. But I'm wondering about the spirits in the White House. Does the White House feel that the couple is doing well out on the trail together?

HENRY: Well, yes, I mean, they think as Nia was saying, that this is a win-win for them, to get them together. But I think you're also right when you suggested that in the final two and a half weeks, we're not going to see them together very much because that can be sort of a waste of their time, long term. It's more effective for them to separate and go about there and hit as many states as they can.

For example, the president is going to be going out west this coming weekend, Wednesday through Saturday, going to be hitting a lot of western states where there's a lot of Senate incumbents like Harry Reid in deep trouble, first lady going to some of those states like California as well. So they can sort of double it up and hit that message twice instead of just once.

LEMON: All right, Ed Henry, Nia Malika Henderson, thank you very much. Appreciate your expertise. We're standing by, waiting for the president and the first lady to come out this rally. We'll have more when we come right back here on CNN.

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LEMON: Time now for news you missed. This is an incredible story about three siblings born with very memorable, some would even say lucky birthdays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARBIE SOPER, MOTHER: Lucky numbers, we must live in a house of lucky numbers, the old owners actually won the lotto.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. So the first house birthday was August 8, 2008, the second child's birth day September 9, 2009, the third child October 10, 2010. Hospital records confirm the siblings were born one year, one month, and one day apart. Will mom be back on November 11, 2011? She says no way. We say, we shall see.

OK. His name is Ryan (INAUDIBLE). He is the Babe Ruth of marriage proposals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said with a loud gasp yes and speechless for the rest of the night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, to get his girlfriend, Sarah, to say yes, he knew he would have to swing for the fences. So he got the biggest diamond he could find, it was a baseball diamond and he painted his proposal in the outfield, he made a question mark out of the pitcher's mound and then he turned on the field lights, then took Sarah for a nighttime helicopter ride, and as you just heard him say, he knocked it out of park. She said yes.

Marijuana is on the ballot in four states this election day. Three states want to allow or modify the sale of marijuana for medical purposes. California's Prop 19 would go beyond that to legalize and tax small amounts for personal use. Former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn Elders is an outspoken proponent of legalization and I asked her if that would make for a bad situation, a bad situation worse.

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DR. JOYCELYN ELDERS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I don't think it would make a bad situation worse. I don't think much could be worse than the present situation that we have. We have the highest number of people in the world being criminalized, many for non-violent crimes related to marijuana. And when marijuana has not - has never caused anybody directly to die. It's not a toxic substance that would cause people to die.

And I just think that we could, as said earlier, we can use our resources so much better and I think we need to legalize marijuana for adults and tax it so we can use the money for much better things. Make it such that you can't smoke around children, or in front of children. You can't sell - it's illegal to sell it to children and I just think this is the thing that we should do rather than get grabbing up young people, throwing them in prison, they lose their opportunity to ever get a federal scholarship and that's just, to me, that's just wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Everybody is talking about the economy and the election but these social issues are really lurking just beneath the surface. Dr. Elders had much, much more to say on that subject. You can watch it 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight right here on CNN. That's when I'll see you and we'll have extended coverage of the president and the first lady's remarks at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

I'm Don Lemon. An "AC 360" special Countdown to Rescue next.