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September 15th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
September 15th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Hiker's mom: 'Its our turn to have our kids back with us'

(CNN) – The mothers of two U.S. men still being held in Iran told CNN they are hopeful their sons will soon be able to join recently released detainee Sarah Shourd and enjoy their freedom too.

"What we really want of course is there release," Laura Fattal said on CNN's American Morning. "We're so happy Sarah's home – but its our turn to have our kids back with us."

Laura Fattal appeared with Cindy Hicky on Wednesday's American Morning to appeal to Iran to release their two sons who have been detained for more than a year. They spoke out a day after Sarah Shourd was released from Iran and reunited with her mother in Muscat, Oman after Iranian authorities released her from a Tehran prison where she had been held for 14 months.

The three Americans were detained after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Iran accused the three of spying, a charge the United States and the hikers have denied.

Shourd, 32, left behind fellow Americans Shane Bauer, 28, who is her fiance, and their friend, Josh Fattal, 28.

Laura Fattal made a plea to Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toelease the two men to end a situation that she says should have been avoided from the beginning

"Iran knows they have three innocent hikers, one of which they released," Fattal told CNN.

Related: Released American hiker arrives in Oman

Filed under: Iran
September 15th, 2010
08:00 AM ET
September 15th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

O'Donnell, elated after GOP Senate primary, eyes victory in November

(CNN) – Positioning herself as a conservative gate-crasher, O'Donnell won more than 53 percent of the vote against U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican U.S. Senate primary Tuesday, a contest that showcased the Republican warfare between conservative Tea Party supporters and the more moderate party structures.

In the closing days of the primary campaign, O'Donnell got a boost with an endorsement by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and more than $150,000 in late contributions from the Tea Party Express. Castle, a former Delaware governor who served nine times in the House, got the backing of the national Republican Party.

"We haven't heard from anybody in the Washington party hierarchy. And that's a shame," O'Donnell told CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday. "I think right now maybe their pride is just hurt a little bit and they're licking their wounds because the so-called experts were discredited this morning.

"But we're hoping to hear from them soon. We will reach out to them. But I'm confident that if they choose not to get behind this race, we will get the support that we need. And we can win in November." Christine O'Donnell joined us on Wednesday's American Morning to discuss her win.


Filed under: Politics
September 15th, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Transgender politics

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN

(CNN) – Changing American social attitudes have meant that many Americans are no longer surprised when a gay or transgendered candidate runs for public office in liberal cities like San Francisco or Boston.

But what about the bible belt?

We weren’t sure, so we flew to the politically red state of Oklahoma to check out the state house race between the transgender Democratic candidate, Brittany Novotny, and the socially conservative Republican incumbent, Sally Kern.

We caught up to Novotny as she went door-to-door soliciting votes in her State House District 84. Why would someone who grew up in Oklahoma as a man, and later underwent procedures to become a woman, put herself up to public scrutiny?

The answer sounded like the candidate she is:

“I want to run for office because I want to help make sure that Oklahoma has a better future. You know, we’ve had a lot of politicians for the last several years that have been out here dividing people up and, you know, playing on people’s fears...I think we need leaders who are focused on issues like helping our small business create jobs, insuring quality education for all our children, and investing in our transportation infrastructure and our roads.”

What kind of reaction does she get from voters?

“You know being a person who is the first transgender woman to run for office in Oklahoma, I can tell you that I’ve gotten literally zero hates. Zero hate emails. Zero hate phone calls. Nobody at the door has slammed the door at my face and called me weird. In fact people have embraced me with open arms.”

Kern is a state representative, but made national news in 2008 with controversial comments she made about gays. She told a group of political supporters:

“…Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than…a few decades…I honestly think it’s the biggest threat…our nation has, even more so than terrorism, or Islam…”

Kern’s remarks went viral on the Internet. She says she received hundred of hate emails. Ellen DeGeneres took several minutes out of her show to play Kern’s remarks on her nationally syndicated talk show. DeGeneres, who is a lesbian, poked fun at Kern by trying to call her on air. (DeGeneres got her voice mail.)

Does Kern regret saying what she said?

“No…because it’s what I believe. Everyone understood what I was doing. I was giving a talk to Republican activists sharing with them how there are a group of homosexual millionaires who are wanting to change the political climate of the nation. And they were doing it secretly.”

Kern singled out Colorado multi-millionaire Tim Gill, a gay political activist, who, according to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, has doled out thousands of dollars  to gay candidates in Oklahoma since 2006.

But the Commission’s campaign contribution reports back up Novotny’s claim that she received no money from Gill, and that most of her donors are from Oklahoma.  Sources close to the Gill action fund say they have not contributed any money to the Novotny campaign.

Ben Patrick Johnson is Novotny’s largest out-of-state supporter. A Los Angeles voice-over actor, he’s donated $1,000 and recently held a fundraiser for Novotny. He says there’s no gay millionaires’ group trying to oust Kern.

One of Kern’s strongest supporters is Edmond, Oklahoma pastor Paul Blair. He says Johnson and the rest of Novotny’s out-of-state donors should stay out of Oklahoma politics. We asked him if there is an out of state plan to elect Novotny, what have they proved?

“…that even if you’re in a conservative state, you’re not safe if you take a strong stand on these moral issues. We can knock you out. If we can knock Sally Kern out of Oklahoma, when we can knock you out.”

The candidates themselves have generally avoided discussing transgender or other socially controversial subjects. So far they’ve stuck pretty much to economic issues, though in our interviews both candidates were willing to discuss religion:

Sally Kern:

“It’s no secret that I have a personal belief, I believe it’s a belief of most Christians, that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin just like gluttony is a sin… There are things that are going on today that would make my grandmother blush and there were things that when my grandmother was alive that were going on that that would have made her grandmother blush. So as we get farther and farther away from biblical principles, more and more things are accepted. And that’s just the way things are going.”

Brittany Novotny:

“…(Sally Kern) deeply believes that the acceptance of homosexuality and whatever else in society is what is just going to tear us apart, and what I’m say is look: you know, I’m a Christian, I grew up in  Catholic household. My mom instilled faith in me. And that faith means that whatever choices we make we know that God is ultimately up there to judge us…”

Election Day is November 2.

Filed under: AM Original • Politics
September 15th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

LIVE Blog: Chat with us during the show

Editor's Note: Welcome to American Morning's LIVE Blog where you can discuss the "most news in the morning" with us each week day. Join the live chat during the show by adding your comments below. It's your chance to share your thoughts on the day's headlines. You have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules: 1) Keep it brief 2) No writing in ALL CAPS 3) Use your real name (first name only is fine) 4) No links 5) Watch your language (that includes $#&*) 6) Stay relevant to the topic.

Tea Party favorites win GOP primaries in Delaware, New York

(CNN) – Tea Party favorites won two primary elections over more mainstream Republicans on Tuesday, demonstrating again the clout of the conservative political movement on the political right.

Now the question is whether the right-wing candidates can also defeat Democratic rivals in November's congressional elections, when the stakes are higher and the full electorate is deciding.

The results in Delaware and New York highlighted the last major day of primary voting before the upcoming election in just under seven weeks.

Voting in seven states and the District of Columbia included embattled veteran U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel's victory in his New York Democratic primary despite allegations of ethics violations, and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's bid to hold off a major primary challenger.

In addition, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich won the Republican gubernatorial primary in Maryland to set up a rematch against Martin O'Malley, the Democrat who ousted him in 2006.

In Delaware, conservative political commentator Christine O'Donnell easily defeated nine-time U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, giving the Tea Party movement another major victory over a candidate backed by the national GOP. Read the full story

Released American hiker arrives in Oman

Tehran, Iran (CNN) –
A jubilant American Sarah Shourd reunited with her mother in Muscat, Oman, on Tuesday after Iranian authorities released her from a Tehran prison where she had been held for 14 months.

Shourd arrived in Oman - where her bail was posted - on a 2.5-hour, chartered flight from Tehran. Her bail was posted by Omani sources, a senior Obama administration official said.

"I've been waiting for this moment for a really long time, and I'm extremely grateful to be standing here," she told reporters upon her arrival at the airport. "I want to begin by giving my deepest thanks to the sultan of Oman, Sultan Qaboos."

Shourd thanked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, Iran's supreme leader, and "everyone who has been a part of making this moment happen for me and for my family."

Shourd, 32, left behind fellow Americans Shane Bauer, 28, who is her fiance, and their friend, Josh Fattal, 28. Read the full story

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