NR: "It's quite a problematic mix of feelings for Iraqis."
6pm Baghdad time: Michael speaks with Heidi Collins about the reactions on the Iraqi street. 8pm Baghdad time: Michael covers the same with Betty Nguyen and also goes on to discuss how the television station the journalist works for is supporting his release and why the Iraqis are looking to charge the man with throwing the shoes in the general direction of PM Maliki.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The president expected back in Washington after a whirlwind unannounced visit to Iraq and Afghanistan. But his surprise visits were not without incident, including a farewell kiss of some kind from an Iraqi journalist. Kathleen Koch now live at the White House with more on that.
Kathleen, good morning to you.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi.
Certainly a memorable trip for President Bush. And some are calling it actually a victory lap without the victory.
COLLINS: The president as you know by now, coming under unfriendly fire at that press conference during a surprise visit to Iraq. His attacker's weapon of choice: shoes. CNN's Michael Ware is live in Iraq now with a wrap of the president's Iraq trip.
Michael, when I look at that, I also remember way back at the start of the war when we listened to the Iraqi journalists in a press conference similar to that when they stood up and they were yelling, "death to Saddam, death to Saddam." And now all these years later we see something like this happening.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Heidi.
I mean, in Iraqi culture and in much of this region, throwing a shoe or showing someone the soles of your shoe is perhaps the greatest insult that you can give, equivalent to a westerner raising the middle finger or swearing at someone. This really does show a level of emotional distress or anger that goes beyond the pale.
Now why this fellow did this, he said that, "this is your farewell." He's a journalist from Sadr City, an impoverished slum. And we wonder now what's becoming of him as he's in Iraqi custody. But as you say, we've seen the shoe used in Iraq only at these most egregious moments. And perhaps one of the most famous is just at the end of the invasion when Saddam's statue was pulled down and Iraqis leapt upon it, slapping Saddam's stony face with their shoes.
Another time we've seen it just recently is perhaps somewhat prophetic. It was just a few weeks ago during an anti-American demonstration where people were throwing their shoes at guess what? An effigy of President Bush -- Heidi.
COLLINS: President Bush is there, though, also to sign a controversial security agreement, that one that sets the deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq in three years.
What is the overall feelings from Iraqis about that?
WARE: Well, I think in many ways the Iraqis are very, very glad that at least the process has been finished. There is an agreement. By and large, most Iraqis do not favor American presence here, but at the same time, almost contradicting themselves, they don't want the Americans to leave just yet. No one likes a foreign occupier, but then again they know that that occupier is the only one holding warring factions apart. So it's quite a problematic mix of feelings for Iraqis.
And yet we see as a result of this shoe throwing, you know, his local television network is virtually celebrating him as a national hero. Though as many people who support him also feel that his behavior was not appropriate. It was bad form to do this in front of the Iraqi Prime Minister. However, everyone does agree with the sentiment that he was expressing. Others took it further with thousands taking to the street today in an anti-American protest where American flags were burned -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Everyone agrees. Wow. All right. Well, CNN's Michael Ware coming to us live from Baghdad this morning. Thank you, Michael.
BETTY NGUYEN: Yes, take one more look because it is the shoe-throwing incident seen around the world. Now the most-Googled video of the day. Iraqi police have the journalist in custody, the man who hurled his footwear at President Bush. In the Middle East, though, that gesture is a well-recognized insult.
CNN's Michael Ware joins us now from Baghdad.
All right, Michael. What's been the Iraqi reaction to this shoe-throwing incident?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is extraordinary, isn't it, Betty? And the incident happened here overnight, local time. So this morning, people woke up and we started to hear what they were thinking.
Now, opinion appears to be largely divided down the middle. There are those people who condemn what the journalist did, and there are obviously those who support it.
However, those who condemn it do so on the grounds of etiquette. They say that it was impolite to throw the shoe while the Iraqi prime minister was there.
Plus, of course, President Bush was a guest of the prime minister. So it invokes that kind of guest obligation, host obligation in Arab culture.
Now, those who support it, and there's plenty of them, say President Bush deserved this. Now where, again, there seems to be universal support is that the journalist, whether you think he was impolite or not, should not be punished by law. And mostly people agree that he should be released. And indeed, his own channel has spent much of the day just running nationalist music videos with the journalist's picture kept in frame and a ticker that lists local politicians who want him freed, and an endless stream of text messages from viewers calling him a national hero and wanting him let out of jail -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Yeah, Michael, but here's what's really interesting about that. And I'm reading reports here that the Iraqi judiciary is deciding whether the journalist is going to face charges of, what, assaulting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. That's talking about the Iraqi prime minister. It says nothing about the fact that the shoes were directed at President Bush.
WARE: Exactly. And that is a poignant point that proves this case. Even the law sees that the heart of this affront involves the Iraqi prime minister. Now, maybe that's just dancing around the Iraqi provisions of its legal statutes, but by and large, that's also a political reflection of local feeling. I mean, I have to tell you, yeah, Iraqis like the American troops here 'cause it's keeping warring factions apart and no one wants to see it just deteriorate. But you know what? Almost every Iraqi, to a man or woman, is yearning for the end of a foreign occupation. So everyone sympathized with this guy's sentiment --
WARE: They're just divided on his method -- Betty.
NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Michael Ware joining us live from Baghdad.
Thank you, Michael.