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Sources: Obama Will Bring 30,000 Troops Home from Afghanistan; Jon Huntsman Launches Presidential Bid

Aired June 21, 2011 - 19:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. I'm Joe Johns. John King is off.

Tonight, Afghanistan once again is front and center in an agonizing national debate with tens of thousands of U.S. lives and billions of U.S. dollars hanging in the balance.

Today sources inside Congress and the Obama administration are telling CNN President Obama has decided to bring 30,000 U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. He's making the announcement tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern during a speech you can see right here on CNN.

Thirty thousand is a little under one-third of the 100,000 troops there now, but it won't happen quickly. We're told 10,000 will come out this year by the rest of the end of 2012.

Another source says the Pentagon argued for an even smaller drawdown, but outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he understands the president's decision.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The president has to take into account on any national security issue sustainability here at home both among the public and in the Congress.

And it goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment. There are concerns among the American people who are tired of a decade of war.


JOHNS: Joining me now Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, from your vantage point, is Afghanistan ready for a withdrawal of U.S. troops?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In short, no. I mean, it could really do with another 10 even 30 years of American money, security, there has to be some kind of accommodation in the future between the Afghan government here and the insurgency.

America can't stay here forever. Popular support is simply vanishing. What we just don't know at the moment is whether that accommodation between the insurgency and the government leaves behind whether that will work or whether, as it happened in the past, lead to some kind of civil war. That's the deep concern here, Joe.

JOHNS: Now, the United States has certainly had its share of tension and disagreements with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. How is this announcement expected to affect that relationship, which I certainly would call delicate?

WALSH: Well, it's a very fragile relationship. A few days ago, President Karzai was on the brink of calling American forces here occupiers. He really has to play to a domestic audience here tired of 10 years of foreign troops on their soil.

But at the same time, nobody is in any doubt that Karzai is very dependent on American funding, American support to keep himself in power. He often uses that as a resource, which keeps this fragile coalition together.

The Americans, for their part, you hear in conversations sort of reluctance really to embrace him as their partner they don't entirely trust though they see him as reliable, but realize they haven't got much of a choice.

But really given how much they badly need a solid Afghan partner to pursue a proper strategy here, you can imagine in the back of their minds as they're thinking up the timetable for withdrawal here. Joe --

JOHNS: Thanks so much. Nick Paton Walsh joining us tonight from Kabul. Be safe.

While the president is making plans to drawdown U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Congress is getting ready to debate the U.S. military mission in Libya.

Today, Senators John McCain and John Kerry introduced a resolution supporting limited U.S. involvement for one year, but tonight GOP leadership sources say the resolution is not expected to pass when it comes to the House of Representatives.

The House could pass a resolution removing U.S. forces from hostilities in Libya under the War Powers Resolution. Also today, forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fired three rockets into the city of Misrata, hitting civilian buildings.

Now for some perspective, I'm joined by my colleague Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." Fareed, it's been over three months since the military operation in Libya began.

Gadhafi's still in power. We've heard over and over again, any day now he's going to be out of power. But do you think the United States underestimated the power of this regime?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think it underestimated the difficulty and complexity of a mission in a country that is vast, in which the tribal loyalties play a large role, and in which, as always, there is a limited effectiveness of airstrikes. That is, if you're unwilling to commit ground forces. Now, I'm not, by that, suggesting we should commit ground forces or that we should escalate in any way.

But it does mean that this is going to be a longer, more drawnout protracted military affair than perhaps we anticipated. On the other hand, this is no fun for Gadhafi either.

JOHNS: The more this goes on, the other question is how does this sort of reflect the power of the United States and NATO, for that matter?

ZAKARIA: Well, as long as it seems that Gadhafi's on the defensive, as long as it seems that he's encircled, as long as it seems as though the momentum is with NATO and with the Europeans and the United States, I don't think it really makes the United States look bad.

It doesn't erode American power. If there was a sense in which the tide was turning and it was seemed as though NATO was losing, sure that would look bad. But again, I think that certainly the United States has made a determination that we have limited but real interests in Libya.

And that we are going to apply a kind of cost benefit analysis to foreign policy, which often we don't. And that is to say, we're going to have -- we're willing to commit a certain amount of our military power and prestige to this operation, but it is not unlimited.

And we will not keep escalating in the hope that there will somehow be some magical solution.

JOHNS: And how much does politics creep into that cost/benefit analysis. The departing defense secretary mentioned the political considerations for President Obama in making his troop withdrawal announcement tomorrow. How much of that do you think is a political calculation?

ZAKARIA: In Afghanistan, I think you're right. There is a political calculation and there is a political advantage. I would argue that there is also very powerful strategic case for not staying there unendingly, for beginning a process of bringing our military presence in Afghanistan into balance.

That is to say, we have -- again, we have interests in Afghanistan. Are they so great that we need 150,000 foreign troops in there unendingly, which is what we have now? Remember, there's 50,000, 40,000 NATO troops in there.

So there is a strategic argument for a faster drawdown, and I think that President Obama, in a sense, is probably motivated by both. I think his strategic heart is also in having ultimately the United States having a smaller military presence in Afghanistan.

Though, of course, he's a political animal, as every president is and I'm sure he sees what you say, there's a political advantage particularly within the Democratic Party to a faster withdrawal.

JOHNS: A majority of Americans, something like 54 percent think the United States can win in Afghanistan, but what does that mean? In your view, what would a victory in Afghanistan actually look like?

ZAKARIA: Since the Second World War, since the surrender of Japanese forces on that aircraft carrier, the United States has only had one unambiguous victory in the entire period since then. And that was the first Iraq war.

And even there you could argue it wasn't entirely unambiguous victory. So whatever we have in Afghanistan is not going to look like the surrender of the Japanese forces or the surrender of German forces in World War II, but nothing has.

So what it's going to look like is something that we're familiar with, a kind of negotiated outcome, some kind of settlement. It will not be everything we wanted. It will not be everything that will make Afghanistan perfectly stable.

But it will be enough. There will be an improvement on the situation when the Taliban was ruling Afghanistan and al Qaeda was in there, and that should be enough for us.

At some point you do have to ask yourself, is the best becoming the enemy of the good. We've achieved something in Afghanistan. Another five years and another $2 trillion isn't going to get you much more.

This is Afghanistan. It's not going to become France tomorrow.

JOHNS: Fareed Zakaria, thanks so much for that perspective. Talk to you soon.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

JOHNS: Coming up, Jon Huntsman jumps into the Republican race and how will this former ambassador run against his former boss?

Plus, an update in the dramatic Casey Anthony story. Former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark examines the testimony.


JOHNS: Jon Huntsman made his formal announcement today with the Statue of Liberty in the background, from the same spot where Ronald Reagan launched his general election campaign in 1980.

CNN's Jim Acosta was there. Also with us now CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN political contributor and host of the National Radio talk show "Morning in America," Bill Bennett.

Thanks to all of you for coming in. Jim Acosta, let's start with you. You were there for the announcement and maybe we'll listen to a bit of his message.



JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the first time in history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got. This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American.


JOHNS: OK. So Jim Acosta, how did this speech go over with the crowd?

ACOSTA: Well, you know, Jon Huntsman is not a red meat kind of guy, Joe. So this was sort of a no red meat response from the crowd out there. It was only about 100 people and I don't think the Huntsman campaign at this point is driving for big Obama-like crowds.

They're running a very unconventional campaign, trying to stand in the shadow of Ronald Reagan here in front of the Statue of Liberty and putting out videos that show a guy riding his motorcycle across the desert to say that Jon Huntsman's a different kind of guy, even though the guy riding the motorcycle was not Jon Huntsman.

I guess, the closest he got to red meat was that line about an un-American future. But I think, Joe, the real critical key question for Jon Huntsman in this campaign is that is he the right candidate for where the Republican Party is right now?

You know, he gave that line, and he talked about, well, we need a more civil discourse and we don't need to have a debate over who is the best American, we need to have a debate over who is the best president. The question I think is whether or not that message will go over well with Republicans who really would like to go after this president on the issues.

JOHNS: Well, you know, clearly, Gloria, they advanced this thing pretty carefully. They had the American flags up there, the Statue of Liberty is where Reagan gave his speech. But when you put yourself up against Ronald Reagan in 1980, that's a pretty tall order and it's not --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Let's just say the bar is high and I'm not sure he jumped that bar at all because, you know, Ronald Reagan was the great communicator.

I think huntsman is not a great communicator at this point, but what he was clearly trying to do was channel the inner Reagan being above the fray, optimistic.

Not talking about people's resentments, rather talking about their hopes, and show a more positive side to the Republican Party because you haven't seen a lot of that so far.

JOHNS: It was a very different speech though than Ronald Reagan gave in 1980.

BORGER: But in 1980, Reagan was more partisan actually because that was the kickoff of the general election where he was really taking aim at Jimmy Carter. This is just the sort of kickoff of his campaign where he clearly chose not to take off after other Republicans.

JOHNS: Right now, Bill Bennett, you served as secretary of education in the Reagan cabinet. Could you or anybody else that was in a room around that table imagine running -- leaving the administration to run against your boss or is that just a bridge too far?

BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I just can't imagine leaving the administration for any reason. But that aside, look, Jon Huntsman before taking the campaign down to the ground has got to be some real strengths, Joe, to it, real talent.

He did a very good job as governor of Utah. He's got foreign policy experience and he's a very successful businessman and these are things that are powerful, by the way, very attractive family. I know the guy so much I should say.

Jim's right, though and Gloria's right, too, is he too bland, is he conservative enough. And the bland may matter as much as the conservative, Joe, because people want somebody who will take on Ronald Reagan.

JOHNS: Bill, let me jump in there because we're having a little technical problem with your audio. We're going to try to fix that. As we mentioned Jon Huntsman was a one-time member of the Obama administration, served as U.S. ambassador to China, which may come back to haunt him.

And now, let's go to CNN's Eunice Yoon who joins us from China. Eunice, Jon Huntsman was ambassador for less than two years. During that time, how was he received by the Chinese people?

EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, he was received very warmly. People here were fascinated with Huntsman. He's a Chinese speaker, a fluent Chinese speaker because of his time in Asia as a Mormon missionary.

He also has an adopted daughter from China and he also presented himself in a very down-to-earth way. He could often be seen riding his bicycle around his residential compound. This is a very atypical of diplomats and in fact, a very local thing to do.

And he also really endeared himself to people because he outreached a lot, not only to college students, but also to the blogger community. So for the most part people thought that they could relate to him, that they were connected to him and he was very popular.

On the other hand, though, at the end of his tenure, his popularity took a little bit of a hit because of his attendance at an anti-government rally. That was caught on tape.

And there were a lot of questions about it here, but at the end of his stay, the government did say that he was and still is a friend of China. Joe --

JOHNS: The president visited China and actually met with Ambassador Huntsman in September 2009. Prior to that trip, according to a diplomatic cable obtained by Wikileaks, Huntsman wrote this, "Mr. President, your commitment to building a relationship with China that will allow us together to shape the 21st century has the attention of our country, China and the rest of the world. We're proud to be part of your team."

What do we know about that relationship between the president of the United States and then Ambassador Huntsman?

YOON: Well, you know when Huntsman first arrived here, a lot of people saw it as a masterful stroke on the part of President Obama, a way to neutralize Huntsman as a potential candidate for 2012.

Also people thought that Huntsman was perfect for the job here because of his vast diplomatic experience, also his business ties, very close business ties to China.

And so people thought that it was going to be very good for both countries at a very critical time for U.S./China relations. However, there was always a question about his commitment to the job and to President Obama.

In fact, president Obama himself had joked about it last January when he was meeting with President Hu saying that Huntsman will probably take his working relationship with Obama and use it very well in the GOP primary. Joe --

JOHNS: Eunice Yoon, thank you so much for that reporting. Now, Gloria, back to you.

We're coming back to our panel at this point. Huntsman says he wants to take the high road, of course, in this campaign. John King, who is always first with those interviews, actually talked to Huntsman in May about his praise for his boss. Let's listen to him.


HUNTSMAN: I also believe in civility. I believe that we ought to have a civil discourse in this country. You're not going to agree with people 100 percent of the time, but when they succeed and do things that are good, you can compliment them on it.

I think we need to come together more on the issues that really do matter. I believe in civility and I believe in complimenting people when they do a good job.


JOHNS: But now today after the announcement, just a little bit of a change in tone. Let's listen to this.


HUNTSMAN: I think he has failed in a number of ways, both in terms of economic governance and stewardship and also internationally. I wrote that after I was appointed.

I thought he was a remarkable leader for appointing a Republican to a position as important and sensitive as a U.S. ambassadorship to China.

And listen, during a time of war and economic hardship, I'm the kind of person who is going to stand up and serve my country.


JOHNS: So realistically, is it possible for Jon Huntsman to have it both way, on the one hand calling for civility, on the other hand saying the president of the United States has failed?

BORGER: Well, you know, it's clear that he's got to do that because he's got to convince people that he didn't break from Barack Obama for political reasons, right?

And he is presenting himself as what he calls an authentic conservative. So he has to preserve that authenticity and I think that's -- you know, that's going to be difficult. The one person he's running against right now, honestly, is not Barack Obama.

He's running against Mitt Romney. Both of them have to win New Hampshire, and he had a web ad today on his website that took off after Mitt Romney with -- not by name but saying he's not a flip flopper.

Who do you think that is? So he's going to have to have some sharp elbows there if he wants to win this primary.

JOHNS: Bill Bennett, briefly, this authentic conservative business, do you buy that in Jon Huntsman? Richard Viguerie told me he doesn't see Huntsman as a conservative.

BENNETT: I don't think we know that until we hear the policy, which we haven't heard yet. We didn't hear much today. The guy's got great experience, terrific background with the business, foreign policy --

JOHNS: All right, Bill Bennett, I'm going to jump in because once again we're still having that audio problem with you. Thank you so much for joining us and talking to you. Thanks to all of you, Jim Acosta, Gloria, of course, once again, thanks for coming.

Next, a rare 100-0 vote in the U.S. Senate. What brought on the bipartisanship? It's important and it's next.


JOHNS: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now.

Late this afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Leon Panetta to be the nation's new defense secretary. The vote was unanimous, 100-0. Panetta is currently the head of the CIA.

Another major defection from Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. Today his top two fund-raisers quit, joining 16 other top staffers who resigned earlier this month.

The Greek government survived an important no confidence vote tonight, live pictures here, despite a huge protest outside parliament and widespread opposition to plans for drastic budget cuts to prevent a government default.

Optimism about the Greek vote and a better than expected housing report pushed Wall Street to its best day in two months.

Coming up next, the latest developments in a murder trial that everyone seems to be watching. Why are people so fascinated by it? We'll ask trial veteran Marcia Clark.


JOHNS: A murder trial in Florida has turned into a national obsession with millions tuning in every day to watch what's turned into the latest trial of the century.

We're talking about the trial of Casey Anthony who's accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008.

Today, one day after the judge reprimanded the attorneys for not acting professionally, a Dutch forensic scientist was on the witness stand to testify about DNA and duct tape.

CNN's Gary Tuchman takes us live inside the courtroom here through his words.

Gary, when the defense called up its own DNA expert today, did it help Casey Anthony?

GARY TUCHMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, here's the thing -- the prosecution is saying that Casey Anthony smothered her daughter Caylee with duct tape, then dumped her body in the woods where it lay for six months. The defense is saying that the duct tape was put on afterwards by somebody else because there was no DNA from Caylee's skin on the duct tape.

So, they called this expert from Holland (ph), a DNA scientist, who testified that he thought it was very unusual that there was no DNA from Caylee if it was put on before, because it was on her nose and mouth where there's lots of DNA.

But it backfired because the prosecution came forward and said, listen, if this body is here for months and it's wet and it's hot and months go by, is it possible the DNA could completely degrade? And the scientist then said yes. And that's exactly what the prosecution has contended all along.

JOHNS: Gary, you covered your share of dramatic trials. Tell us what stands out about this one.

TUCHMAN: You know, this trial has been followed by a lot of people for three years because Caylee died three years ago. But the issue -- what has made it such a phenomenon right now are the opening statements, because we didn't know what the defense was going to say when this trial began five weeks ago.

And it was a shock to almost everyone. The defense said that Caylee Anthony is now saying, after lying for months, that her child accidentally drowned in a swimming pool and she had decided to keep it secret because she lived in a crazy house, she was molested by her father, and they kept secrets because it was such a crazy house. And that was their defense.

So, all of a sudden, we hear this wild defense. And that's why this story now is gaining much more traction than it even had for the previous three years before that.

JOHNS: My colleague, Gary Tuchman, thanks so much for that reporting.

The Casey Anthony trial is the latest in a string of murder cases that became media and water cooler obsessions. Before this, there was Scott Peterson's murder trial for killing his wife Laci.

The disappearance of Chandra Levy. Remember that one?

And, of course, the O.J. Simpson's trial.

It just goes on and on and on.

So, why the never-ending national obsession?

Let's ask author and former Los Angeles prosecutor, Marcia Clark. Yes, the Marcia Clark from the O.J. Simpson trial.

And Sunny Hostin, a legal contributor for our sister network, "In Session."

Marcia, this trial has captivated the public in a lot of different levels. And it's also sort of been tagged as the first major murder trial of the social media age, if you will. What's behind the fascination?

MARCIA CLARK, FMR. PROSECUTOR IN O.J. SIMPSON TRIAL: Well, I think Gary is absolutely right. When I saw the opening statements and the allegations of molestation and sexual abuse, I thought, uh-oh, this is going to go viral in about a heartbeat, because it is -- that began -- made the case something really outrageous. The fact that a mother kills her child is, sadly, not all that unusual to us. We've heard of these crimes before. So -- but that would be the excuse, that that would be the answer to her conduct after the killing, that the 31 days of partying and the euphoric behavior is attributable to some kind of child abuse accommodation syndrome because she was a sexual assault victim is the most amazing kind of startling and outrageous defense.

Add to that the fact that you have a fairly good-looking woman on trial, who kills a very pretty baby. You know -- I mean, that kind of thing makes for good television, as you know. I hate to go there, but that plays a part of it, too.

And then you have outrageous conduct. You have her out there partying, you know, hot body contests. All of this allows for the kind of images that you can put on a screen, which you do, and people watch it -- and makes it even more fascinating because you have this kind of conflict between the looks of things and then the hideous crime that was committed.

JOHNS: Now, Sunny, it's often been said that media attention changes things in trial. And do you think the social media, the cameras, are causing some of the players to sort of milk it for the media attention?

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't necessarily think the players are milking it for the media attention. But I do think, Joe, that social media has -- it's just a huge component of why this case has gotten this much attention.

Remember when Marcia Clark was trying the O.J. Simpson case. I remember just watching it and yelling at the television and saying, why not do this, try to do this, what about this?

Well, now, people have a platform to do that, right? They can do it on social media. People have that outlet. And I think they sort of think that they do the players.

It's almost that degradation of social barriers that we have now. People think that because they friended somebody on Facebook, they really are friends. And I think that is the aspect that has made it just such, such a big deal in everyone's lives because they feel that they know these players and they have a platform to disagree or agree with what's going on. They really are interactive now with trials, in a way that I don't think we've ever seen before.

JOHNS: Marcia Clark, this is supposed to be all about the facts and the law, the trial is. But people do wonder whether some of the public opinion in a case like this actually could influence in any way a case when the sentiment is simply so strong.

CLARK: You know, I always worry about that kind of thing. The jury is sequestered. But sequestered doesn't mean deaf, dumb and blind.

They see that their courtroom is packed. They see they're angling for seats. They see people watching them endlessly, believing that when a courtroom is packed like that, everyone is watching a jury like crazy.

You know, they're watching every move. When do they take notes, when do they not. When are they watching and when are they not? Are they watching Casey or not?

And that has an impact on a jury. Whether that causes them to convict or not is a different story. But it has to have an impact, just to be under that kind of spotlight.

JOHNS: Sunny, public interest in this case took off when Casey Anthony's story changed and they waged this drowning defense. Anthony said she lied to cover up the family tragedy that her daughter had drowned in a family pool and today, there are charges the defense was stolen from another inmate. Is that -- is that possible?

HOSTIN: Well, that certainly is the latest piece of this case that is just surreal to me, the prosecution brought in front of the judge today the issue that they are investigating whether or not a woman named April Wayland whose son did die by accidental drowning and whose grandfather found the child, she happened to be in the dorm at the prison same time that Casey Anthony was there. She says that they didn't have any contact, but that other inmates may have heard their story.

And so, they're thinking perhaps it's almost that usual suspects phenomenon. Did Casey Anthony snatch that piece of information and make up this defense theory? It's really fascinating and the prosecution is saying they'll use it in their rebuttal case if this drowning theory comes into evidence, because let's face it.

At this point, it's really not part of the evidence. It's just something that we heard in opening statements.

So, it's just another twist and turn to this really interesting case, Joe.

JOHNS: Sure. I just love to sit here and talk about this all night.

HOSTIN: You could, right?

JOHNS: You surely could.

Sunny Hostin and Marcia Clark, thanks so much for coming in.

Straight ahead, smoking can kill you, but will a graphic warning label change a smoker's habit? Our Sanjay Gupta joins us next.


JOHNS: Coming to a cigarette pack near you, the strongest ever warning labels that smoking can kill you. The federal government today released the nine extremely graphic color images that cigarette manufacturers will be required by law to put on their packages, cartons and advertising.

These large and disturbing images will be a first for most Americans. The United States actually is the world's 40th country to have picture warnings on cigarette packs, which raises the question: are we behind on an important global trend? CNN's Richard Quest joins us now from London.

Richard, just how common are these images around the world? And, in your view, are they effective?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of being common, certain countries like Singapore and Australia have used the graphic pictures of oral cancers, of livers and all those sort of things, the sort of nasties that you're talking about.

And, frankly, I can't think of anybody, myself included when I used to smoke cigarettes, that ever sort of said, ew, that put me off, one. And most countries now, certainly in the European Union, have restrictions on smoking inside, in restaurants, in cafes, some have gone exterior as well. And in those cases, even in those countries where it was expected to have been very difficult to enforce it, in France, in Italy, in Spain -- those countries where smoking was part of the culture, I have to say, when you go there now, those countries, the rules, the laws are being obeyed. You don't smoke inside.

JOHNS: But did I hear you right? You don't think these things are effective?

QUEST: Well, I can only speak in the personal experience. It never stopped me from lighting a cigarette seven years ago. Yes, you looked at it and you thought, that was all rather unpleasant and rather nasty, but it didn't really go much further than that.

The warnings, it's whether from the U.S. surgeon general or H.M. government or Uncle Tom Cobley and all, those warnings have been on cigarettes for years. The facts have been out there for years.

And so far as I can see, certainly -- I remember when the Singapore pictures came out because we all looked at them and we all got copies about them and we all fought about them, and we all went, ew, that looks nasty. But I don't -- and I've seen people in those places, you know, I don't see them noticeably making a difference.

Where I think it makes a difference, if you take the U.S. position, is when it comes to the pocketbook. And as long as you've got places in the U.S. where smoking is still relatively -- and I use that phrase -- relatively cheaper than other places, that's where you're going to see the discrimination. In countries like the U.K., it has been hit hard in the pocket.

JOHNS: I don't think anybody would be surprised that the cigarette makers are not too happy with these warnings. R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Camel, Kool, Winston and Salem says, quote, "The anti-smoking message plainly conveys through graphic images and designs intended to elicit loathing, disgust, revulsion -- the government's viewpoint that the risks associated with smoking cigarettes outweigh the pleasure that smokers derive from them."

Do you think R.J. Reynolds has a point? Is this message just a little too strong and sort of unnecessary, certainly coming from the federal government? QUEST: Get over it, R.J. Reynolds. This is a case where slowly but surely, their industry is being strangled by more restrictive laws and regulations, whether it's New York where you can't smoke outside, in some cases in parks, Australia where you can't smoke on a beach, you can't smoke in any restaurant, in any cafe, in any bar.

So, to quote the famous old line, me thinks you protest doth too much.

JOHNS: So, you know, I suppose, if you don't think it's going to stop people from smoking, you don't think there's going to be a real economic impact on the tobacco companies.

QUEST: It's a picture on a packet, a nasty picture on a packet. Committed smokers are not suddenly going to rush their hands into their eyes in horror and head in the opposite direction. Certainly, those that I ever remember dealing with in places like Singapore who got fairly graphic messages, in Britain, the messages are, it warned you that there can be lung cancer and emphysema and you can die young and you die horribly, and it will all be very nasty -- I don't think that's made much difference.

JOHNS: All right then. Thank you so much, Richard Quest. Appreciate you coming in and talking to us.

Today, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said a pack-a-day smoker will see these new warning labels more than 7,000 times a year. About one in five Americans smokes. The rate's held steady since about 2004 after decades of decline.

And with us right now, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 443,000 people in the U.S. die from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year, and more than 8 million people are living with a disease that's directly tied to smoking.

So, it just seems like it wouldn't take these dramatic pictures to drive the message home. The question is: who are these labels supposed to be targeted at?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's a couple things to keep in mind.

First of all, there's a whole bunch of different diseases that smoking can be related to. Obviously, lots of different lung diseases, but also heart disease, for example. And for a lot of people, even though I think you're absolutely right, Joe -- I mean, they know smoking is not good for you, it's bad for you. They've seen warning labels and such in the past, it's sort of an out of sight, out of mind sort of thing.

It's a little bit hard to say exactly who will be most targeted or influenced by these sorts of ads. I mean, obviously, anybody who's buying packages of cigarettes and sees these graphic images, they're pretty stunning, as you've seen. Women, though, and teens and people who are more social smokers are probably most likely to be affected by this.

And one of the real goals here, Joe, if you sort of cut through the fine print is that the idea that teenagers may get this message before they ever start smoking and they don't become lifelong smokers is a big part of this message as well, Joe.

JOHNS: So, it's younger people seeing these awful pictures most likely to have an effect on them perhaps?

GUPTA: That's what they think, in part because the ads seem to be -- have so much influence on that population of people to begin with, they think this type of -- these types the of campaigns may have also an impact but obviously in a different direction.

JOHNS: All right. So, a lot of countries really had similar labels for years. And why was it the United States was slow -- so slow to implement this?

GUPTA: You know, it's funny. When I travel overseas and I go through airports and I'm in duty-free shops -- I don't know if you've done this, Joe -- but I'll look at the cigarette labels in these foreign countries. They have been pretty graphic for some time. About 40 countries at least have warning labels that are as graphic.

As to why the United States has been slower in this regard, it's a little bit hard to say. Some point to the tobacco lobby and say, look, they're part of the reason. And they've long stated that ads like this are violations of both First and Fifth Amendments. They say, look, if you look at the ads, you look at what they're sort of designed to do, 50 percent of the cigarette cartons, 20 percent of the advertising overall now containing these images, that's basically telling consumers don't buy this product.

This isn't providing sort of a rational choice about buy or don't buy. It's just saying don't buy. And he tobacco lobby, I think, for a long time has had that sort of influence. They're encouraging, as you know, the CDC and the FDA to get rid of these ads for that very soon. That's still an ongoing legal fight, Joe.

JOHNS: Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for talking to us about this. I'm sure we'll be back talking about smoking again.

GUPTA: You got it, Joe. Thank you.

JOHNS: Coming up, First Lady Michelle Obama meets with South African icon, Nelson Mandela.


JOHNS: First Lady Michelle Obama met with former South African President Nelson Mandela today. He'll be 93 next month. The first lady brought along both of her daughters as well as her mother, niece and nephew. The White House says the first lady's week-long visit to Africa is part of her ongoing effort to engage young people at home and abroad, especially girls and young women.

CNN international correspondent Nkepile Mabuse joins us now. She is covering Mrs. Obama's trip.

Thanks so much for joining us.

How is the first lady's trip being received?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, first of all, she's got an action-packed six days. She had an action- packed day today.

She literally met people from all sectors of society. She's met the first lady, one of the first ladies here in South Africa. Of course, the president here has several wives. She also, of course, met Nelson Mandela.

But she also spent time with some of the poorest people in this country. She visited a preschool with her daughters and she brought gifts for the children. She was dancing around with the children and she actually read books to them as well.

So, some of the comments that I've been getting on Twitter from people who had actually interacted with her is approachable, classy, Mrs. Obama gave each individual her undivided attention. So, people are really taken aback by how down to earth she really is, Joe.

JOHNS: One question I think some Americans might have is about the Mandela visit. Was she invited or did she invite herself? How did that come about?

MABUSE: Look, what happen is -- you know, when the White House first announced that Mrs. Obama would be coming to Southern Africa, of course, everybody asks repeatedly, will she be meeting Nelson Mandela? But the White House consistently said it would depend on Mr. Mandela's health. Of course, he's 92 years old. He's actually going to be turning 93 in a couple weeks' time.

And, you know, but Mr. Mandela admired the Obamas possibly as much as they admire him. So, we were told by the Nelson Mandela Foundation that this w actually a scheduled trip. But the media obviously was caught unaware, because they didn't want to confirm it because you never know with an old and frail man like him, he might not be in position to take on outside visitors.

He hasn't been in position to receive visitors for a very long time. South Africans see pictures of him occasionally. They all saw pictures of him when he voted in May this year. But they -- the last time they saw him publicly was during the World Cup, which was a year ago -- Joe.

JOHNS: So, let's talk about his health. He was ill earlier this year, but now, he's better. Can you tell us a little about his condition?

MABUSE: He is looking great. I mean, he's constantly being monitored by doctors. You know, he's 92 years old. They always say, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and his family, that he's as fit as 92- year-old could be expected to be. He's as healthy as a man his age can really be expected to be.

So, it's a constant worry for South Africans, his health. But he's looking good. I mean, if you look at the pictures of him and Michelle Obama today, he looks great. He's gained weight and he's looking better than when he was released from the hospital.

JOHNS: A political question for you also. There are critics in the United States who say President Obama has not done as much as some of his predecessors in the White House to deal with issues relating to Africa. Do you hear that criticism on the continent?

MABUSE: You know, when President Obama was in inaugurated in 2009, there were huge expectations on the African continent. Of course, because of his links to Africa, because of his father coming from Kenya.

But, you know, Africans don't live in a bubble. Africans are aware of the challenges that Mr. Obama faces domestically. I mean, $14 trillion in debt and, you know, an election around the corner -- so Mr. Obama made it clear when he spoke to Africans in 2009 that he's concentrating more on being a partner, partnering with African countries and actually allowing Africans to do things for themselves.

I think he wants to move away from this aid mentality of Africans always needing help from outside. He basically wants to focus on empowering Africans to empower themselves.

And I think in her key note speech tomorrow in Soweto, the first lady will focus primarily on that, on leadership, on democracy, but on Africans actually doing it for themselves.

And, you know, some of the programs that were started and that received much praise on the African continent, programs that were sponsored by George W. Bush, like PEPFAR, those programs are still continuing, and there are additional programs that President Obama's administration has introduced on the African continent.

There isn't much talk about them, you know. Mr. Obama has rather focused on what Africans can do rather than on what the U.S. can do for African states, Joe.

JOHNS: Nkepile Mabuse, that you so much, joining from Johannesburg tonight.

Before we go, we want to give you a heads up about an important program coming up on CNN. This Sunday, actress Demi Moore joins the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year to take you inside the fight to end modern day slavery, young women and girls in Nepal bought and sold for sex.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEMI MOORE, ACTRESS (voice-over): The snow covered mountains of the Himalayas as are the first sight to greet most travelers arriving in Nepal. Its capital Kathmandu is a busy hub for tourist traffic, climbers and trekkers drawn by the soar of Everest. Most who come use it as a gateway to adventure. But I'm here for a very different reason.

Sandwiched between China and India, Nepal is also a magnet for another kind of human traffic, the tiny nation provides a steady supply of sex slaves for the brothels of Delhi and Mumbai.

I arrived at mighty Nepal to an overwhelming welcome.

Nepalese people are known for their warmth and hospitality, and I was experiencing it firsthand.

(on camera): So wonderful to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much for coming.

MOORE: I wanted to come to learn what you're doing that's working so that I can find ways of helping share those best practices in my own country where this is also a problem.


JOHNS: That's all from us tonight.

"IN THE ARENA" starts right now.