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Herman Cain Gaining on Romney; Cain Unknown Overseas; On the Campaign Trail With Herman Cain; 999 Plan; Looking Towards GOP Debate; Gateway: Baku's Port Moving; Big Interview: Danica McKellar; Parting Shots of Bear Cub in Alaska Supermarket

Aired October 18, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Celebrating into the night in Gaza, as the first wave of 1,000 prisoners revel in their newfound freedom.

Across the border, the soldier that Israel got back in exchange finally makes it home. But tonight, a simmering controversy...


GILAD SHALIT, FREED ISRAELI SOLDIER (through translator): I hope that these people would help to achieve peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides.


ANDERSON: Why many Israelis are furious about this interview, shown on Egyptian television.

Live from London, I'm Becky Anderson.

Also tonight, a narrowing field as the U.S. Republican race takes shape, an unlikely figure rising to the top. How Herman Cain is taking America by storm.

First up, though, tonight -- "Today, we are all united in joy and in pain." With those words, Israel's prime minister managed to sum up the feelings of not just Israelis, but Palestinians, too, after what was a momentous day across the Middle East.

It began with celebrations in Gaza with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners got their first taste of freedom. Their release made possible after both sides agreed to an historic transfer deal.

In return, Israelis were treated to a sight they'd longed to see -- soldier Gilad Shalit reunited with his parents, looking frail, but finally home after five years in Palestinian captivity.

Well, the journey home was long and emotional, after a day which saw Gilad Shalit thrust into the public's gaze. Sergeant Shalit tonight spending his first night with his family in more than 1,500 days.

Frederik Pleitgen reports.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Freedom after more than five years in captivity, as Gilad Shalit crossed into Israeli territory. But his first words recorded before the handover in an interview with Egyptian TV. "I received this news a week ago," he said, "and then I felt it would be the last chance for my freedom."

Shalit was flown to an Israeli military base for medical evaluation. There he was met by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and finally reunited with his father, Noah, who had campaigned tirelessly for his son's release.

The exchange deal has been controversial -- freedom for Shalit in return for release of more than 1,000 Israeli prisoners in Israeli jails. Some Israelis have criticized it, but a majority supports the move.

"I would like to make clear that we will continue to fight terror," Netanyahu said, "and every released terrorist who returns to terror will find his blood in his head. He will be responsible for the state."

In Gilad Shalit's hometown of mmm many gathered in anticipation of the soldier's arrival.

(on camera): People have been coming here to Gilad Shalit's hometown since the early morning hours. They've been preparing the place, putting up posters with his likeness, signs saying, "Welcome home Gilad," waving the Israeli flag. And, of course, they want to give him a hero's welcome after five-and-a-half years in Hamas captivity.

(voice-over): The convoy with Gilad Shalit arrived in the early afternoon hours. He was immediately whisked into the family home. His father later explained that his son was healthy, but weak.

"Gilad feels good," he said. "He had some injuries that weren't treated, shrapnel wounds and results from lack of sunlight. But now, he will get appropriate treatment."

Noam Shalit added that his son would now begin a period of recuperation, one that his family hopes will help him start a new life after captivity.


PLEITGEN: And, Becky, of course, there will be an extended periods of recuperation, as we heard Noam Shalit say. We're guessing that in the next couple of weeks and months, you probably won't see very much of the family, certainly won't see very much of Gilad Shalit, as, first of all, he will have a period of recuperation. He'll also have an extended period of receiving medical treatment, of course. And then maybe at some point, both the families hopes and other people hope that he'll be able to get back and get reintegrated both into Israeli society, but also reintegrated into living a normal life after having been in captivity for more than five and- a-half years -- Becky.

ANDERSON: We talked about a poll last night that suggested that most Israelis agreed with this prisoner swap, although some 50 percent said that they feared, still, for Israeli security, given that this swap is some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners on the other side.

What will -- can you give me a sense of the mood, as you see it this hour in Jerusalem tonight?

PLEITGEN: Well, the mood is certainly a very difficult one. I mean and it certainly is a very difficult decision that the Israeli society, of course, represented by its government, had to make.

And there were two very fundamental core values of Israel that they had to reconcile. On the other hand, of course, there is this concern for security.

Will these people that they're letting out now, these prisoners, commit violent acts in the future?

Could this spawn other extremist groups to try and take more Israeli soldiers in the future, to try and get similar deals going?

Certainly, we've heard from people from

Gaza say all we need now is four more Shalits. And that's something that certainly concerns people.

On the other hand, there is also another core fundamental value here in Israel, and that is no Israeli gets left behind. And if you ask people...


PLEITGEN: -- and especially here, in Gilad Shalit's hometown and the surrounding areas, they felt that for this part, that was the value that was of most importance. And they felt that that was upheld. That's something that was, also, today, echoed by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a press conference when he said that, of course, it was an absolutely difficult situation for Israel to make, for him to make, but he felt that, in the end, there was no other choice -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred, thank you for that.

Fred is in Jerusalem for you tonight.

We've got two other strings to this story this evening.

One, of course, is in Gaza. And we will get to our Matthew Chance there shortly.

The other, though, is in Egypt. And speaking to Egyptian television just after his release, Gilad Shalit said that Egypt had played a key role in securing his freedom.

Have a listen to this.


G. SHALIT: I think that the Egyptians succeeded through their relationship -- good relationship with Hamas and with the -- also with the Israeli side. These good relationships have helped complete the deal.


ANDERSON: The fact that that interview was carried out at all has called -- caused anger in Israel.

Ben Wedeman joining me on the phone from Cairo.

That is the only interview that Gilad Shalit conducted before he got to Israel. And some sense from Jerusalem tonight that he was harangued into doing that.

Can you explain the circumstances of that interview with -- with Nile TV -- Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, you have to realize that there's certain customs in the Middle East and this is really not new.

You may recall, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Western hostages were being released from captivity in Lebanon, when they were released to the Syrian authorities, the first step in every one of these incidences was that Syrian TV would get an interview with these hostages. And I think you have to realize that for the Egyptians, this is their way of saying we played a key role in the efforts to win the release of Gilad Shalit, who was captured back in June, 2006.

And this is their way of putting their stamp on this process, because very quickly, the limelight moves to Gaza, moves to Israel. But, of course, it was the Egyptians, at the end of the day, who were the key middle players who made this happen.

ANDERSON: All right. So the Egyptians brokering this deal. Gilad Shalit appearing on Egyptian TV, interviewed, interestingly enough, by an anchor who has become somewhat famous during what has been this Arab Spring.

Can you explain?

WEDEMAN: Yes, Becky. This -- I mean the person who interviewed Gilad Shalit was Sharia Amin. She works for Egyptian state TV. And at the -- in the final days of the 18 day uprising against Hosni Mubarak, she quit in protest over pressure from the Mubarak regime on anchors at Egyptian television shows. So she's somebody who has revolutionary credentials, who's widely respected for putting principles before career.


WEDEMAN: And she, obviously, is in good stead with the current rulers of Egypt. And that's how she got this interview.

Obviously, if you look at these pictures of Gilad Shalit, he's not in very good shape. He's pale. He's got sunken eyes. He doesn't look like he's had much sunlight in the last few days.

But this was an opportunity for Egyptian television. And I think a decision was made at the very top of the Egyptian regime to make this happen for political reasons -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, thank you for that.

Ben Wedeman with what has been another stream to a pretty phenomenal day in the Middle East, it's -- it's got to be said, for the Egyptians, themselves, putting a stamp on what has happened between Israel and the Palestinians.

Tonight, one Hamas official described the mood of the Palestinians by saying that they were shedding two tears, one a tear of joy for the release of all of their fighters, the other a tear of pain for all their brothers left behind.

Matthew Chance is in Gaza for you this evening -- Matthew.


That's right, tens of thousands of people have been gathering in the center of Gaza City to pay homage, I suppose, to the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners that were released in this, the first initial batch by Israel from jails inside that country, a part of the prisoner swap deal with Gilad Shalit.

It was a real carnival atmosphere, none of the misgivings about the deal that we've -- we've heard about coming from Israel. From the Palestinian point of view, this was a -- a good deal -- 1,027 prisoners in exchange for just one Israeli soldier.

Hamas, of course, brokered the deal. They're the organization that run Gaza. They're also the organization that have essentially been holding Gilad Shalit for the course of about five years.

But they cleverly didn't just arrange for Hamas carders (ph), Hamas fighters, to be released as part of this prisoner swap. It was Palestinians from all the various Palestinian factions. Even some Israeli Arabs were included in the prisoner swap deal.

And so it gave Hamas, Becky, the opportunity to say, hey, you know, we don't just speak for the Islamists who run Gaza, we have a national profile. We speak for all Palestinians.

And I think that's really bolstering what was flagging popularity for Hamas, at least here in the Gaza Strip -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance there in Gaza this evening.

Matthew, thank you for that.

Well, today's developments have been welcomed across the globe. China described it as a key period now for the peace process in the Middle East. Turkey highlighting its role in the transfer, adding that: "All our hope is silencing the weapons, stopping the blood and making Palestine a more free state within its home borders."

Well, speaking on a trip to Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was the end of a long ordeal, adding that: "Gilad Shalit has been held for far too long."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Egypt's cooperation with Israel over the release, saying that she hoped "recent tensions between them would give way to good neighborly relations."

And in Britain, Middle East Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, said it was a moment of opportunity to revive a credible peace process.


TONY BLAIR, SPECIAL ENVOY, QUARTET: What has happened is, in a way a -- offers us the chance of a change of atmosphere, a change of context. But we've got to use that and use that to push on and try and revive a credible negotiation for the two-state solution.


ANDERSON: All right, so does this transfer deal make that task easier or harder?

To discuss that, I'm joined from Houston, Texas this evening by Edward Djerejian, who's a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and to Syria.

Two astonishing facts to this story. On paper, the Israelis have paid a very high price, 1,000 prisoners for Gilad Shalit. And the decision to engage with Hamas is, I'm sure many of our viewers would consider, a vault fass (ph) that most of us would have considered inconceivable before tonight.

So why this deal and why now?

EDWARD DJEREJIAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Yes, Becky. I think it -- it is historic in terms that this is the first time that Israel has negotiated, albeit indirectly, mostly via the Egyptians, with Hamas, for this prison exchange and to get Gilad Shalit back to Israel and back home.

Why now?

One, I think there was a confluence of events. One was certainly the internal situation in Israel, one must not forget that, where Prime Minister Netanyahu has been under a lot of pressures, both domestic and international, the growing isolation of Israel and also these huge social protests within Israel and getting back an Israeli captive soldier is huge...


DJEREJIAN: -- in Israeli culture and society.

And, therefore, this really is -- is tremendous for his own political standing. I think that's obviously one reason.

The other reason is the turmoil in Syria and the bloody confrontations between the regime and the street. Damascus is where Khaled Meshaal and Hamas was headquartered. The political leadership was there. They have been emigrating more politically toward Egypt as a player because they are very uncertain of what the future of Syria is going to be. And, therefore, that had enhanced Egypt's role.


DJEREJIAN: Egypt -- and I think this is also very significant -- has emerged from the post-Mubarak era as a major player in regional affairs and especially in Israeli-Palestinian affairs. That's huge. And it played a critical role.

Even Turkey played a role.

So you have this confluence of internal events, external events. And the last point, why now, is because President Abbas, very dramatically and very successfully, went to the United Nations and asked for the -- for Palestine...


DJEREJIAN: -- to be accorded membership. That really redounded to his popularity and Hamas was really relegated to a really back seat.

Now, Hamas, in a way, is leveling the playing field in its own internal competition with Fatah and...

ANDERSON: I think you've...

DJEREJIAN: -- the Palestinian people.

ANDERSON: -- I you've very eloquently laid out how the tectonic plates of influence in the Middle East are shifting, not least because of what has happened, of course, over the last seven or eight months with the Arab spring. A cynic might have suggested that Netanyahu certainly needs - - needs something to -- to boost his ratings. Hamas largely off the radar, particularly with Abbas and...


ANDERSON: -- and his speech to the U.N.

What does this then mean for the Middle East peace process, given that the climb-down on Shalit, that being the 1,000 prisoner swap, does come accompanied by the announcement of more settlements in occupied territories?

DJEREJIAN: Yes. The settlement issue is a real obstacle. And the recent reports, if not official announcement, of yet another new Israeli settlement in the south of Jerusalem, that is not going to help the prospects for it Israelis and the Palestinians to start negotiations.

But I think in general terms, one positive factor may be a possible political, not reconciliation, but narrowing of differences between the PLO and Fatah and Hamas. President Abbas is talking about presidential -- parliamentary and presidential elections in a few month's time.


DJEREJIAN: He -- there are -- there are reports of a possible meeting between Abbas and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas.

It is a move toward some sort of narrowing and more cooperation between Hamas and -- and the PLO, that will bolster Abu Mazen's credentials, hopefully when Israel and the Palestinians start direct negotiations.

ANDERSON: If being the operative word tonight, sir. we thank you very much, indeed, for your thoughts.

A big day for the Middle East.

I'm Becky Anderson.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Nineteen minutes past 9:00 in London.

Coming up, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes a surprise visit to Libya, bringing more than just goodwill.

Later, how the tragic death of British driver, Dan Wheldon, could lead to improved IndyCar safety. this is CNN.

You're 90 seconds away from the show.

We're taking a short break.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Twenty-one minutes past 9:00 in London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

A look at other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And Al Shabab says it's moving its fighters to a Somali border town to battle forces entering from Kenya. The militant group has threatened to enter Kenya if the government troops don't leave Somalia.

Meanwhile, two British citizens are being questioned after being arrested in Kenya. A police spokesman says they were trying to enter neighboring Somalia.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a surprise trip to Libya. She is the first cabinet level American official to visit the country since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted. Now, Clinton held talks with top officials from the National Transitional Council. The U.S. said her visit aimed to show support for the NTC and the Libyan people.

Millions of children's lives could be saved by a new vaccine which initial results show may halve the risk of malaria. The results of the three year trial of the vaccine, known as RTSS, were announced in Seattle earlier today. The trial involved more than 15,000 kids across seven African countries.

Malaria claims almost 800,000 lives a year, mostly children under five years old.

And a 2 -year-old girl who survived two hit and runs remains in a critical condition in a military hospital in Southern China. The family of Yueyue are keeping vigil outside her hospital room. The incident sparked outrage in China after security camera footage showed passersby ignoring the girl as she lay injured on the road.

And a few weeks ago, a team of scientists threatened to turn everything we knew about physics on its head when they announced that they had managed to shoot particles faster than the speed of light. Well, the story was widely reported, even here on CNN, including on CONNECT THE WORLD, this show.

Many scientists were skeptical and it turns out, for good reason. Another team has now looked into it and found a critical error in the first team's calculations.

So Einstein's theory still stands -- nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, at least not that we know of, anyway.

I'm Becky Anderson.

You're watching here on CNN.

Coming up after the break, we are hearing calls for a thorough investigation into Sunday's horrific IndyCar accident, as a coroner rules on the death of the British driver, Dan Wheldon. Candy Reid is going to join us with the details. You're two minutes away.


ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Now, a coroner has ruled that the British driver, Dan Wheldon, died from head injuries after an hour after he was involved in Sunday's horrific IndyCar pileup. Calls for a thorough investigation into the accident have gathered pace. And it seems Wheldon's legacy may be the improvement in IndyCar safety.

Today, the Italian manufacturer of the IndyCar Chasis DeLaurea (ph) said next year's model would be named after Dan.

Wheldon had spent the last few months helping with the design of that new Chasis (ph).

Well, I'm joined now by "WORLD SPORT'S" Candy Reid -- and, Candy, next season's car expected then to be the safest yet, it seems.

CANDY REID, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It's rather ironic, Becky, thanks very much, because Dan actually hasn't secured a full-time ride in IndyCar. So he spent much of the year testing this new IndyCar Car of the Future, it was called, which had plenty of enhanced safety features, which, of course, he'll never get to try next year.

But as Max Moseley, who has actually came into your London bureau earlier this Tuesday said earlier, he'd noticed that IndyCar had made some safety improvements. Otherwise, Sunday's crash could have been a lot, lot worse.


MAX MOSLEY, FORMER FIA PRESIDENT: It's -- it's very annoying. But it's difficult to get people to think seriously about safety unless there's an incident. I mean we have, as I say, are just doing research all the time. But you really get some weight behind it when there is a serious incident.

And I think this will probably provoke that.

But having said that, one must remember that when you look at the actual footage of the crash, it's actually quite remarkable that it didn't produce another or two or three more fatalities. And I think it says a lot for the work that has already been done that there was only one.


REID: And, of course, Becky, Max Mosley knows a lot about safety improvements after the Senna moment in F1. A lot more safety measures were introduced and there hasn't been a death since. So perhaps that will happen in IndyCar. We can only hope -- Becky.

ANDERSON: The president of the Las Vegas Speedway where that tragedy happened, of course, Candy, has said that his track met every IndyCar series regulation.

Did it?

REID: Well, that's what Chris Powell (ph) says. The -- you know, the track was conformed and it had the OK to go ahead.

But questions were raised beforehand, Becky, because the Las Vegas Speedway, which was actually the finale for the IndyCar season, hadn't had -- or hadn't hosted an IndyCar race in 11 years. And it had -- it was an oval track, a high-banked oval track. And remember, IndyCar is open wheel racing. Many have wondered whether that's sensible.

In F1, of course, they don't race on ovals, do they?

Street circuits and races. So, you know, that's a measure of some questioning, I think. There were 34 races in this, Becky, in this season finale. Many of them were part timers. They were going up to speeds of 220 plus miles an hour.

And, you know, there are questions now being raised, should IndyCar stop racing on oval circuits?

I suppose that one will have to be addressed next season -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. So it's -- it's quite a frightening sport to watch, I've got to say. Exciting but -- but a frightening for -- for the very reason that they just go around and around and around and they can just go at such high speeds.

Candy, thank you for that.

Candy Reid with your sports this evening.

Of course, "WORLD SPORT" back in about an hour's time with Candy.

Still to come here on this show, he's the former pizza tycoon. And he's delivering on the campaign trail. But that means that Herman Cain had better impress at the big Republican debate in a few hour's time. We're going to take a look at his soaring popularity, just ahead.


ANDERSON: You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, the world's news leader at just after half past nine in London. Let's get you a check of the headlines this hour, shall we?

An Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for more than five years is back home in northern Israel. Gilad Shalit a bit pale and thin, but he is said to be in good health. His freedom came in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Jubilant crowds of Palestinians greeted the return of those prisoners in Gaza and in the West Bank. Hamas staged a massive rally in Gaza City. Hamas leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, said that the swap is a glowing chapter in Palestinian history.

Hillary Clinton has been meeting with Libya's interim leaders in Tripoli. The US Secretary of State is there to show support for the nation in transition and to discuss new joint initiatives. She commented that in a new Libya, women should have equal rights since they sacrificed much for the revolution.

And what could be a medical breakthrough in the fight against malaria. An experimental vaccine has passed a major trial. It's been shown to reduce the risk of acquiring the disease in African children by half.

And in the United States, candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will go head-to-head in a televised debate in Las Vegas in a few hours. One contender, Jon Huntsman, has pulled out ahead of the event.

So, who's still in? Well a former pizza company boss is rapidly closing the gap with early Republican front-runner Mitt Romney to be the party's US presidential contender. In the latest CNN-ORC poll, Herman Cain claims a quarter of the vote, just one percent behind Romney.

Now, the former radio host seems to be winning people over. In a poll, 34 percent of Republicans say Cain is the most likeable candidate. A similar percentage thinks he's the one most likely to get the economy moving again.

But while they like him and his economic policies, they don't think that will sway other voters. Only 18 percent think that he would actually win the Republican nomination.

But if the name isn't too familiar, well you are in good company. Overseas, Herman Cain is a virtual unknown, as we found out when we hit the streets of London with his photo in hand.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't recognize him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't recognize this man.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Do your recognize this man?


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: You have no idea who he is?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I recognize him from this morning's internet. I was on a website and I just saw something up about politics in America, that someone was putting pressure on that, and it was -- it just said something, "Raising Cain" was the headline. I think that was what it was.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't recognize him.


ANDERSON: They don't know who he is, do they? It's not those people who matter, though, is it? Herman Cain's straight-shooting, man of the people persona is hitting the target with many Republican voters in the United States.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joined him on the campaign trail in small-town Tennessee. Have a look at this.


HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No more entitlements. No more entitlements!

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Say this about Herman Cain. He's running a different sort of campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

CAIN: Instead of a signature or a photograph, I want to leave you all with something special that I hadn't done all day.

(singing) Amazing grace, will always be --

TUCHMAN: Singing spirituals isn't new for Cain. The Georgia native is a recorded Gospel singer and an associate Baptist minister. What is new is his front-runner status. And now Cain, who has not done much traditional campaigning, is beginning to do just that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not a politician. He's a businessman, he can get it done.


TUCHMAN: For many, the idea that Cain is an outsider is part of his appeal. At Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee, Cain declared he liked this banner. "Honkies for Herman."

CAIN: I'm sure some of your neighbors and friends and colleagues and family members, "You're going to one of those Tea Party rallies?"


They're trying to intimidate you to stay home. "Aren't they a bunch of racists?" Well?


CAIN: When I looked in the mirror this morning, I was black.


TUCHMAN: Over the weekend, Cain barnstormed through Tennessee, attending six rallies.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There are fewer than 20,000 people who live here in Humphreys County, Tennessee. Yet this turnout is huge, particularly for an area where so few people live.

CAIN: All of a sudden, the long shot isn't such a long shot anymore.


CAIN: How about them apples?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like Romney, and if he gets the nomination, I'll support him. But I think that Herman Cain is more in touch with what the people want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seems to be a straight-shooter and just like some of the conservative views that he's putting out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's more like me than anyone else running, and I'd vote for myself, so why shouldn't I vote for him?

TUCHMAN: Tell me why you think he's more like yourself than anyone running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a country boy.

TUCHMAN: A lot of people have been telling us they like you because you're plain-spoken, a man of the people. In 76 they said that about another Georgian by the name of Jimmy Carter.

CAIN: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Any comparison that you see there?

CAIN: No comparison at all.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Cain instead likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, and he talks about the shining city on a hill and sees himself as an economic savior.

CAIN: It's called the 999 plan.


TUCHMAN: Cain's 999 tax plan is also now a Madison Avenue-style catch phrase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the 999 plan, especially the sales tax part of it.

TUCHMAN: Herman Cain says he's in it to win it.

CAIN (singing): I will follow and believe --

TUCHMAN: As he tries to get those who doubt the viability of his candidacy to change their tune.

CAIN (singing): So I'm me.


CAIN: I love you!

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Waverly, Tennessee.


ANDERSON: Well, you heard Herman Cain pushing his 999 Plan, there. It's getting a lot of attention. I'm going to get you some more detail on that.

Cain wants to scrap most current taxes and instead of a nine percent income tax, nine percent corporate tax, and nine percent national sales tax. But under his plan, Americans would still have to pay extra taxes on fuel, phone services, airline tickets, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.

Well, taxes and how to restart the economy going to be big talking points in the debate in Vegas just hours from now. We've already talked about the two candidates who are tussling for the top spot on our latest poll. Let's remind you who's trying to take them down in tonight's war of words.

The governor of Texas for the past ten years, Rick Perry, isn't far behind Romney and Cain in the polls. He's followed by Texas congressman Ron Paul, a fiscal and social conservative. Newt Gingrich, who is a former House speaker, he's got nine percent support in our recent poll.

There's Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is a favorite of the Tea Party movement, and Rick Santorum, who is the former senator for Pennsylvania and favors reducing the corporate tax rate to zero for manufacturers.

Well, it's going to be a key debate kicking off a four-day Republican conference, but what do Americans really need to hear from these potential presidential candidates?

Joining me now from Washington is political analyst Bill Schneider. And it's all about the economy, isn't it? I was going to say "stupid," but you're not stupid --


ANDERSON: -- and most of us probably are, though, about American politics. So go on, Bill, what do we need to know at this point?

SCHNEIDER: We need to know if Herman Cain is for real. Right now, conservatives are -- I would put it this way -- they're dating. They're not really ready to marry anyone yet, but they're dating.

They went out with Michele Bachmann, and she was exciting for a while. Rick Perry looked very good, but turned out not to be such a thrill. And they're very happy, right now, with Herman Cain. He's a pretty good date.

ANDERSON: What's wrong with Mitt Romney?

SCHNEIDER: Mitt Romney is serious, he can be elected. But Republicans aren't falling in love with him, in part because he has trouble connecting with ordinary voters. He's a businessman, he was born to wealth, he made a lot of money himself. He seems to be part of the elite.

I think a lot of Republicans respect Mitt Romney and they will vote for Mitt Romney, and he'll probably get the nomination. But in the end, he might have to win it the hard way, which is fighting week after week with the Tea Party, which is determined to try to bring him down. It's going to be tough.

ANDERSON: Herman Cain is what we consider as -- certainly as the international viewer of US politics, I think -- is a virtual unknown. He's come from nowhere, and suddenly he sits front and center stage.

Is his success less about what he has achieved as a potential contender at this point and more about the lesser quality or the concern that Americans have about the other candidates, do you think? Particularly Mitt Romney?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Mitt Romney is by a very small margin the front- runner, and a lot of Tea Party and conservative Republicans aren't happy with that. And they're shopping, they're dating, they're looking for another contender. And they don't see anyone they've really fallen in love with.

Herman Cain is an inspiring and attractive speaker. He also is, as Gary Tuchman reported, very much an outsider and a new face. Americans will always fall for an outsider. That's why they elected Jimmy Carter president. Barack Obama was hardly heard from.

You know what? You showed those pictures to people, there, in London, they didn't recognize Herman Cain. I'd bet if you did that test on the streets of any American city, very few Americans would know who Herman Cain is.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating stuff. Do his policies, though, add up at the moment? Because when you do the math -- and it is all about the economy, isn't it, this time? When you do the math, whoever the Republican contender will be needs to have nailed his accounts, doesn't he?

SCHNEIDER: That's right, and Herman's Cain's numbers, when they've been investigated very carefully, they show that a lot of people's taxes would go up. It would hurt a lot of lower-income people. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it sounds very appealing and very attractive.

Mitt Romney has a 59-point economic program. I don't think he can recite the 59 points, but it's very detailed, very carefully researched.

You know, Romney's strategy is like the old Chinese saying. If you sit by the river long enough, sooner or later, all your enemies will come floating by one by one. Well, he's sitting by the river and he's seen Donald Trump float by, and Sarah Palin, and Chris Christie, and Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Perry. And now, maybe, Herman Cain. One by one, they've risen in the polls and they've fallen.

ANDERSON: Jon Huntsman out of the debate this evening, as well.


ANDERSON: Bill, always a pleasure. Thank you so much. Bill Schneider, you recognize his face, you know his name. He'll be with us as we move through the next year, of course, 2012 the election year in the States.

Join us later tonight when CNN's Anderson Cooper moderates the next Republican debate. We're going to be live from the city of Vegas in the western US, that is less than four hours from now. You'll only get it on CNN, do stay with us for that.

Now, it may sound strange, but one of the world's key ports is, in fact, situated in a tiny land-locked country. Not only that, a hundred years after it opened, it is still growing. East meets West on the shores of the Caspian Sea in our special Gateway series. That is right here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Back in 90 seconds.


ANDERSON: Well, the port of Baku is a key junction in the modern Silk Road. As part of our Gateway series that takes you behind the scenes of some of the world's busiest hubs, we are looking at what makes Azerbaijan such a valuable link to the Western world this month.

Now, the old industrial port at the heart of the capital is being moved 80 kilometers south to Alat. The aim? To free up the city center and make use of new roads to neighboring countries. As I discovered, the economic benefits for the region, well, they could be enormous.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Downtown Baku. The waterside is a focal point for families and friends who come to stroll around Baku Bay. And nestled in the center of the urban landscape is the city port.

ANDERSON (on camera): The port of Baku, while it's not large, is the biggest and busiest on the Caspian Sea. It opened back in 1902, and from its humble beginnings, it's now the maritime gateway to Azerbaijan, a transit point between Asia and Europe.

VAHID ALIYEV, DEPUTY GENERAL DIRECTOR, PORT OF BAKU: This port was, especially in former Soviet times, was a so-called south gate of the Soviet Union. And all cargo flowing through Iran and further to the Indian Ocean was transiting via Baku port.

ANDERSON: And if you swing around just here, I believe this is NATO cargo, is it?

ALIYEV: Yes, this cargo belongs to NATO, the troops in Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: The port of Baku sits on the Caspian Sea. It's the largest land-locked sea in the world. These shipping routes make up the maritime silk way, where goods from all over the region, from Russia, from Turkmenistan, from Kazakhstan, and beyond.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The port of Baku is beginning a new phase. It's moving away from the old historic center, shifting south to Alat, 80 kilometers along the coast.

SOLTAN KAZIMOV, CHIEF ENGINEER, PORT OF BAKU (through translator): This is a suitable place for a port because it's a transportation hub. It's where all the roads, going to Russia, to Iran, to Georgia, meet. All the roads and railways go from here.

ANDERSON: In three and a half years, this site will be fully operational. For now, the work is out here, dredging the depths of the Caspian Sea, making way for increased sea traffic on the seven-kilometer long navigational channel.

EDVIN SPELIER, PROJECT MANAGER, VAN OORD: Dredging is making water there is land. And where there is land, we sometimes make water. In this case, we actually make a deep hole in the seabed to have access to a future port.

On this particular project, we have to remove 10 million cubic meters of soil, which is clay and soft silt. But there are situations where in rock-dredging, every 10 minutes we need to replace the teeth.

For the future port, all of this, all this land on this side, will be seven meters deep after the dredging has been finished.


ANDERSON: It's getting close to 10:00 at Baku Railway Station. This is the night train to Georgia. These passengers are traveling along part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route, a major new rail link stretching back to the port and to Alat.

Baku's new port will feature a rail ferry system, ships with tracks which transport trains across the water and into central Asia. It's part of a master plan to carry railway freight from China's eastern ports right through to Europe.

AKIF MUSTAFAYEVE, AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL SECRETARY, TRACECA (through translator): Baku's new seaport will be of regional importance, and a very large logistics center will be established there.

ANDERSON: China currently exports 10 million containers of cargo a year to Europe and the US, mainly by sea. If Baku can entice just a small percentage of that cargo through the Caucasus, the economic benefits for the region would be huge, putting Azerbaijan's new seaport at the crossroads of development.


ANDERSON: Part of the Gateway series for you. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN with me, Becky Anderson Ten to 10:00 in London.

Coming up next, making smart sexy. One Hollywood star tells me there is a genius in all of us. You just have to know how to uncover it. Actress Danica McKellar shares her secret formula, and let me tell you, it's quite an impressive one, in tonight's Big Interview, 90 seconds away. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: Well, that is the extraordinary voice of the world's highest-selling classical artist, Hayley Westenra. The New Zealand soprano's talent discovered when she was just six.

Is brilliance something we are born with, or is it something that we can learn? Can anyone achieve greatness with 10,000 hours of practice as amateur golfer Dan McLaughlin is hoping to prove? We'll find out more about Dan later this week.

That is what we are asking all this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, and in tonight's Big Interview, a star who believes we are all geniuses. She says it's just a matter of finding a way to tap into it.



ANDERSON (voice-over): She was the schoolgirl sweetheart in the 80s American TV series "The Wonder Years."



ANDERSON: Fans of the show were also reluctant to let Winnie Cooper go, and when the series ended, it proved a tough role for actress Danica McKellar to outgrow.

MCKELLAR: You see all these child stars, they go through so much, and a lot of it is that insecurity that come from, like, wow, I was on this one show for so long and it was such a success. Now the show's over, and who am I? What is my value?

ANDERSON: In the search for her identity, it was mathematics that delivered the solution.

MCKELLAR: Well, the theorem is informally known as the Chayes- McKellar-Winn Theorem. Its technical title, though, is "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Askin-Teller models on Z2."

ANDERSON: In short, Danica helped prove a new mathematical theorem, one that bears her name.

MCKELLAR: I became a math major at UCLA, and I started feeling really smart and really capable and confident in a way that I hadn't ever before, because it was confidence that came from the inside out. It didn't come from Hollywood and all the superficial stuff, but it came from that confidence that comes from feeling smart.

ANDERSON (on camera): In those -- early years of playing Winnie Cooper, did you realize that you had this maths genius within you?

MCKELLAR: No. In fact, when I was in middle school, I was terrified of math. I hated math. I was so afraid, I used to come home, literally, and cry because I was afraid of my math homework. That was seventh grade for me.

And then, a teacher came in midway through who really helped us. She just made math more fun and friendly, and that's when I realized that math didn't have to be this horrible, scary, thing.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Danica has stepped into the role of author, writing several books that put math into a language that teenagers can understand.

ANDERSON (on camera): So, you liken complex fractions --

MCKELLAR: Exactly.

ANDERSON: -- to tangled necklaces and algebra symbols to nicknames for boys, the long names that you can't pronounce. How does that help?

MCKELLAR: Oh, it just takes the edge off of it. Math doesn't have to be this scary foreign thing. Math is a language, and you can talk about anything in the language of math. You can talk about your taxes, you can talk about accounting.

Or you can talk about fashion. You can talk about the sale that's happening, where they say "Take an additional 20 percent off this already reduced 50 percent sale." And it sounds like you're getting 70 percent off, but you're not. You're actually getting 60 percent off.

ANDERSON: Oh, thank you --

MCKELLAR: That's something I actually talk about in my newest book, in "Hot X: Algebra Exposed." There's -- you can talk about anything in the language of math, and why not talk about stuff that teenage girls are already thinking about.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And with titles like this, Danica is not only trying to rid math of its stigma, but to send the message that smart is sexy.

ANDERSON (on camera): Your book let me into what I assume is a slight secret. I'm assuming that your mum and dad are pretty bright, because you dedicate your book to "the only women I've ever known to regularly run through the snow in pearls and four-inch heels on her way to class across the campus of Harvard Law School. I love you Crystal," who is your sister.

You're all very bright, obviously.


ANDERSON: Does this come from Mum and Dad?

MCKELLAR: Neither my mom nor my dad were math majors or studied math or science, but they did do puzzles with us. So, we grew up with that logical problem-solving skill already.

And that really is, for me, part of what math gives us. It's not about becoming a mathematician or becoming a scientists. That's not why I'm telling these girls they should learn math.

They should learn math because it exercises the problem-solving part of their brains and it gives them the confidence that comes from feeling smart. That's the real stuff.

It doesn't have to be math, it could be anything. But math just happens to be a great way, along with puzzles and that kind of thing, of exercising your brain and learning how to overcome challenges.

ANDERSON: Do you believe that we all have a genius inside us?

MCKELLAR: Of course. A lot of people think of themselves as not smart or they think that they can't do math because of the way it was presented to them when they were in school. And part of my goal isn't just to help teenage girls, although my books look more like teen magazines than math books, they're definitely geared towards girls.

But it's fro anyone and everyone. And I get e-mails from women and men of all ages saying, "I was going back to school, I was so afraid of the math classes, and I picked up your books, and oh, my gosh, it finally makes sense. And I feel smart now."

I love those e-mails. I get girls, even, saying "I feel good about being a smart girl." They were shying away from it, they were dumbing themselves down before, which is an epidemic through the whole world, of girls dumbing themselves down because they think they have to do that to be cute or accepted or something.

Instead, I say, "Yes, you are all smart, you're all geniuses, and I'm going to show you how to find that."


ANDERSON: Oh, help is all out. It's genius week here on CNN. Stick around, we've got a lot more for you Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Just enough time for our Parting Shots this evening, and a big surprise for shoppers in small-town Alaska. You don't expect to see this in the fruit and veg aisle, a little bear cub crawling around the produce section.

Local police on the scene seemed unsure how to handle the situation, but thankfully a shopper grabbed the cub and showed him -- well, he showed him the grocery store exit.

I'm Becky Anderson, thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.