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August 29th, 2008
05:00 PM ET

Meeting Sarah Palin – hockey mom

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palin.hockey.jpg caption="Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin standing beside her husband, Todd Palin, in Anchorage, Alaska in October, 2006. "]

David Mattingly
CNN National Correspondent

My interview request with Governor Sarah Palin was last-minute. I had a day in Anchorage while en route home from a shoot in Prince William Sound and wanted to talk with the woman who seemed to be on most GOP short lists for VP. She managed to fit me into her schedule between the time she registered one of her children for school and the time she was due in the office.

She arrived wearing sunglasses and a windbreaker. She drove herself to the interview location in a black SUV. There was no police escort, driver or entourage. She described herself as a "hockey mom" and certainly looked the part.

This was in early August and Palin seemed to believe she was a long shot. She thought Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue would make a good choice, and wrote herself off as someone who was "not one of the movers and shakers in the Republican Party" that would normally be picked.

Looking back, that was probably the main reason Palin was selected. She is a politician with a reputation for reform that was built about as far outside the beltway as you can get.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
04:46 PM ET

Calling Condi Rice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.condi.jpg]
Marcus Mabry
Author, Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power

If polls are right, thousands, perhaps millions, watched John McCain introduce Sarah Palin to the American people and thought, “What about Condi?”

There is no evidence that Condoleezza Rice was ever on Sen. McCain’s short list for vice president. As George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, she would have brought, uh, liabilities, to say the least — in particular, the administration’s troubled foreign policy record.

But it’s unlikely Sen. McCain would have won voters who strongly opposed to the war in Iraq anyway. And, more importantly, polls have shown repeatedly, for years, that the American people never blamed Rice for the mistakes made in Iraq; they blame President Bush, Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Any presidential nominee takes a risk when he picks a running mate who brings different, even opposite, qualities than his own to the ticket.

As Sen. McCain introduced Gov. Palin, 44, at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, he couldn’t help but emphasize, for instance, that he turned 72 on the same day. Just Barack Obama’s choosing Joe Biden underlined Sen. Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience, Sen. McCain picking Gov. Palin underscored his lack of youth and, some might say, vigor.

But it was also a mammoth risk. FULL POST


Filed under: Condoleezza Rice • John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
04:40 PM ET

Calling Condi Rice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/05/art.vert.rice.jpg width=292 height=320]

Marcus Mabry
Author, 'Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power'

If polls are right, thousands, perhaps millions, watched John McCain introduce Sarah Palin to the American people and thought, “What about Condi?”

There is no evidence that Condoleezza Rice was ever on Sen. McCain’s short list for vice president. As George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, she would have brought, uh, liabilities, to say the least — in particular, the administration’s troubled foreign policy record.

But it’s unlikely Sen. McCain would have won voters who strongly opposed to the war in Iraq anyway. And, more importantly, polls have shown repeatedly, for years, that the American people never blamed Rice for the mistakes made in Iraq; they blame President Bush, Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Any presidential nominee takes a risk when he picks a running mate who brings different, even opposite, qualities than his own to the ticket.

FULL POST


Filed under: Condoleezza Rice • Raw Politics
August 29th, 2008
04:39 PM ET

An unbelievable head fake

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.mccain.palin.jpg caption="Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivers her speech after Sen. John McCain, introduced her as his Vice Presidential running mate, Friday."]Editor's Note: A look at what conservative bloggers are saying about Sen. John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential running mate.

Ed Morrissey at HotAir:

"What an unbelievable head fake by McCain, perfectly executed to build suspense and knock The One off the front page this morning. Mind-blowing."

Michael Medved at Townhall:

"If she's the pick, the press frenzy will be huge -- HUGE - but McCain will largely lose the experience issue against Obama. By any standard, Governor Palin is less prepared as commander in chief than Obama."

Michelle Malkin:

"The announcement from Dayton will start any minute. There's a new rock star in town. Conservatives are full of Hope that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will bring much-needed Change to McCain Republicanism ... Yes, I'm impressed. Very impressed."

RedState:

"And how can Obama combat the experience canard? Palin has more executive experience than Obama has had. And from what we've seen already, she is awesome. The GOP is more united than the Dems have been. We just got more so. And we got a lot of new voters too ... Epic. Win."


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
03:40 PM ET

Cold water on Palin

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palin.waves.jpg caption="Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, waves to supporters as she is introduced as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate by Sen. John McCain in Dayton, Ohio."]Ramesh Ponnuru
National Review Senior Editor

Editor's Note: Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior Editor for National Review, considers Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The pros:

She’s a pro-life conservative reformer from outside Washington, and a woman. The pick signals a boldness and willingness to mix things up that the McCain campaign, like Republicans generally, need.

The cons:

Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue.

As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.

And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)

Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?

Read More...


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
03:28 PM ET

Anderson's View: Campaign and hurricane pick up speed

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.cooper.nola.jpg caption ="Anderson on assignment in New Orleans today"]

Anderson Cooper

We weren't sure how to cover the third anniversary of Katrina.

I think I've said it before, but I'm not a big believer in anniversary broadcasts. They always seem a bit contrived...a bit treacly. Lots of somber music and video montages. I don't know how much attention this 3rd anniversary is going to get from newscasts. There is so much other news this week, and now John McCain has announced his vice presidential candidate.

We've broadcast from New Orleans on each of the anniversaries, of course, looking back...looking forward. All in all, I'm not sure how many times we've visited the gulf coast, I know we've done more than twenty broadcasts from there since the initial month we spent in the region after the storm. It's more than most, but not enough.

Much has improved, much work remains, and now Gustav is out there, growing stronger, getting faster, threatening all that has been done...all that is still undone.

It was strange to leave the euphoria of the convention and this morning board a flight to New Orleans. Sitting on the plane right now, talking with people returning home, there is concern about the levees, anxiety about their homes, but there is, resolve as well – resolve to face whatever may come.

We will broadcast from New Orleans tonight, a two hour live program. Most of it will be about politics. We'll go in depth on John McCain's selection and look closely at Barack Obama's speech last night. It was a soaring speech, but was he factual, was his rhetoric fair?

As always, we're checking the facts – keeping them honest. We'll also have the latest on Gustav, and whether or not New Orleans in ready. I will also have a reporter's notebook on the memories of Katrina, and all that we have witnessed these past three years. See you tonight from New Orleans.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Hurricane Katrina
August 29th, 2008
03:10 PM ET

Fixing Katrina: Millions of ants can move a mountain

We look back at CNN's Kathleen Koch's visit to her hometown of Bay St. Louis a year after Katrina
We look back at CNN's Kathleen Koch's visit to her hometown of Bay St. Louis a year after Katrina

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

Kathleen Koch
CNN Correspondent

Katrina for me is like a recurring nightmare you have so often that every detail is etched in your mind....the massive debris fields, the stunned survivors wandering shell-shocked through the rubble, the smell of rotting food, rotting vegetation...death.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast was my home. And when we moved there after Hurricane Camille, I always knew there was a chance that our two-story brick house on South Beach Boulevard could be reduced to an empty slab like the ones that still dotted the beach. Curving driveways and stairs leading to nothing.

So driving down the beach after Katrina, searching in vain for landmarks, neighbor's houses, anything to orient myself, I knew what I would find. An empty slab....a pile of bricks...a driveway and stairs to nowhere.

But it was the enormity of the destruction that was most stunning. Nearly all my friends and neighbors, and their brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents had lost everything. I've never felt so powerless. I knew that even as a reporter, any effort would fall short. I felt like an ant trying to move a mountain.

But that's when it began. Mississippians came out of the rubble and started helping one another – some, even before they went to check on their own homes. And volunteers began pouring south from every corner of the country. And I realized that together, millions of ants can move a mountain.

FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Kathleen Koch
August 29th, 2008
03:08 PM ET

But I just came home!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.vert.katrina.rebuilding.jpg caption="Rebuilding continues in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, last year." width=292 height=320]Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

At first glance, driving in from the airport in New Orleans last night, things didn’t seem much different than the last time I was here. 3 weeks ago, I was here working and things have been improving. We interviewed people in the lower 9th ward and talked with business owners who all said, New Orleans is on the way back.

Last night the interstate was jam packed as people were headed to the New Orleans Saints pre-season game at the Superdome and things seemed normal. Then, I got out of my car and started talking to people.

Raynell Hamilton works at our hotel and couldn’t help but tell us her worries. Raynell just moved back to New Orleans one year ago. She has been struggling working long hours and volunteering, but felt she needed to move her family back home to the 9th ward, where she lost everything. She says she did so at the urging of her family and husband to keep her family together. She moved to Houston where she says she lived for over a year, where she says, she was impressed with the opportunities the city had to offer. She was employed, getting out of the debt that the aftermath of Katrina put her in 3 years ago. But she felt compelled to move back home. Now, she says, if Gustav continues on it’s course toward New Orleans, she is leaving and never coming back. It’s too much, she says, to do all over again.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Ismael Estrada
August 29th, 2008
03:00 PM ET

"Why can’t they put up lights?"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.katrina.convention.jpg caption="A woman cries as she waits with other flood victims at the Convention Center in New Orleans, 3 years ago"]

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

Kimberly Segal
CNN Supervising Producer

Bria Johnson would be 15 years old by now. Before I sat down to write this I decided to try and find the teen, again. I dusted off those Katrina reporter notebooks that I can not seem to throw away yet they are kept in the bottom of an out of way drawer.

I met Bria three years ago outside on the New Orleans Convention Center. Our cameras were the first to arrive at the convention center where thousands of evacuees made their way to escape the flood waters. Some had been there for days with no water, food or medical assistance. Bria had spent a long, dark, fearful night on the street in front of the convention center. When I met her she was hysterical, terrified that darkness would fall again as she sat on the corner of the town where she once felt safe. "Why can’t they put up lights?" she wept. Bria said people fought and yelled things at night. She did not want dark to come. Bria was my niece’s age and since that day, just like my niece, Bria holds a special place in my heart.

FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina
August 29th, 2008
02:45 PM ET

'Hanna', not 'Gustav' could make one city 'the next New Orleans'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/20/art.honore.jpg]

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Today, on the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans braces for the possibility of yet another hurricane, this time named Gustav, and the possibility of a direct hit.

General Honoré was known best for serving as commander of ‘Joint Task Force Katrina.’ He was responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast. Now retired, he spends much of his time in the region, and works to prepare families for future natural disasters.

I caught up with the general as he was traveling from his Georgia home to New Orleans last week. Our conversation covered as much ground as the general did, and we will share with you parts of that conversation over the course of the day.

We talked about other cities that if faced by a hurricane, could be decimated. Before I could finish the question, he had his answer....

As if the coincidence of having Hurricane Gustav threaten the Gulf Coast wasn't enough,
"Tropical Depression 8" has formed and is set to become Tropical Storm Hanna... and it's quite possible by the end of next week, 'Hanna' could head towards the city General Honoré warned us about.

________
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.miami.jpg]

What about other cities, what other cities need more planning, what do you fear could be the next ‘New Orleans?’

Miami.

You have a large population, its right on the water, there’s no buffer between Miami and the gulf. New Orleans has about 60 miles of land between it and the gulf, so it was somewhat protected by the marshland, and the terrain leading up to the city. But if you take a city like Miami. It can get hit like Biloxi.

Biloxi got hit with a 30 ft wall of water because there was nothing between Biloxi and the gulf. The storm just came right out of the gulf and came right into the metropolitan area.

Houston also scares me. Houston is the 4th largest city. Both cities have close concentration of people, many people live in high rise. Houston has a lot of chemical plants and a lot of stored poisonous gases, things that are ‘industrial grade’ stored in their port.

What scares me the most about Miami is the number of people in structures that are sitting right on the water… without any protection? Like Biloxi, if you get a tidal surge with 30 feet of water, it would just about destroy most of that south eastern coast of Miami.

The other thing that scares me about Miami is the people in Florida are very hard headed. They don’t like to evacuate. The reason they don’t, is due to the fact that they see a lot of storms come through their state. They’ve become conditioned to the fact. 'Hey it's just another storm.' If you do a mandatory evacuation of Florida, the best you’re going to get is 50 percent of the people evacuating. Some won't move. Even with a mandatory evacuation.

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