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AMERICAN MORNING

Extreme Weather Along East Coast

Aired April 16, 2007 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN ROBERTS, ANCHOR, CNN AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, and welcome to AMERICAN MORNING from Washington. With suspenders, I'm John Roberts. Good morning to you, Kieran.
KIERAN CHETRY, ANCHOR, CNN AMERICAN MORNING: Everyone's on the bandwagon today. Hi there. I'm from New York this morning.

And boy, we are underwater. Seven-and-a-half inches of rain, flooding really high in parts of Central Park.

And as you said, New Jersey had to declare a state of emergency. Boy, a lot of people taken from their homes in the middle of the night with some of these boats and life rafts, because of the mess.

ROBERTS: Yes. There are so many rivers in that New Jersey area. I know, because I used to live there. And they go up so quickly, people can get into trouble real fast.

We'll be following the story of the rain, the flooding, the nor'easter coming up.

Also, the reason we're in Washington, a lot more politics for you on your AMERICAN MORNING.

New presidential poll numbers out just this morning. A tighter race on the Republican side. McCain's back in the game. We'll tell you why.

CHETRY: A little bit more about New Jersey now. And that's a third surgery for New Jersey governor Jon Corzine today. He is still in critical condition. His aides say he was not wearing a seatbelt when he got into that terrible accident on Thursday.

We're going to talk more about just how important seatbelts are, no matter where you sit in the car. And we're also going to get an update from Dr. Gupta about Jon Corzine's condition.

Plus, we have two big interviews ahead this hour. First, General David Petraeus, America's top commander in Iraq. He's going to talk to us about the violence there and the troop build-up, whether or not it's working.

A little bit more about those longer deployments that have been announced, as well. So, some interesting stuff we hope to get from the general.

ROBERTS: Also, former senator and presidential candidate on the Democratic side, John Edwards, is going to join us live. We were hoping that his wife, Elizabeth, would be with us this morning.

Unfortunately - and this shows the pressure of the campaign - she's got to take the kids to school and then fly somewhere else, so it just didn't quite fit, but we hope to get her on some other time, Kieran.

CHETRY: You know, it'd be interesting to see whether he's going to be making some gains against Hillary and Barack Obama, because of those new poll numbers.

ROBERTS: Yes, tough. They're way out in front. But don't forget, it's a horse race and it's still only April. So, a long way to go.

CHETRY: That's right. And everyone's raking in the cash.

Also, Larry King marking 50 years in broadcasting. He's going to be joining us live. And first he's going to show us how he is getting Oprah actually to open up about her personal life. So, Larry is going to be here in New York and we can't wait to talk to him.

Meantime, though, our top story, and that is the extreme weather that's hitting right now. Band after band of flooding rain from the mid-Atlantic to northern Maine. A state of emergency just declared in New Jersey.

In New York the air pressure is equal to that of a Category 2 hurricane. The storm system blamed for at least one death in South Carolina.

And elsewhere - I there you can see the waves - flooded streets, homes, forcing some people into boats. And then we have the mess at the airports today. Hundreds of flights canceled and the backlog is only expected to build as the day goes on.

The advice that we got is call ahead. And if you don't have to fly today and you're in those areas, try to hold out till tomorrow, or perhaps the next day.

CNN's Jim Acosta is in the Mamaroneck, New York. That's north of New York City. We also have Alina Cho. She is watching the flight delays from New York's LaGuardia Airport for us.

And Reynolds Wolf right in the middle of it in Hyannis, Massachusetts, although he was a little drier last time we checked in with him.

And Chad Myers tracking it all from the CNN weather center.

We're going to begin with Jim, who is talking to us about the big flooding concern in Mamaroneck. And also, as we said, a state of emergency declared, right, a little - not too far from you in New Jersey, as well, because of the flooding.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, MAMARONECK, NEW YORK: That's right. Good morning, Kieran. And you can just look behind me here and see the problem. This resident, this homeowner just behind us pumping water out of his house onto the street in Mamaroneck, because of the localized flooding here.

This is a flood-prone area, a low-lying area, but it is a big problem here this morning. Because of this, officials here in the area did anticipate this. They issued a voluntary evacuation order overnight, and many of the residents here heeded that warning.

But this behind me is just one of the remnants of that nasty nor'easter.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

ACOSTA (voice-over): From the East Coast to the mountains of West Virginia, this nor'easter is packing a punch. Heavy rain, high winds and tornadoes tearing through towns.

TERRY ANDERSON, RESIDENT, SUMTER COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: I walked out the back door, and all I seen was a trailer explode over here on the corner.

ACOSTA: In South Carolina, one person was killed, as dozens of mobile homes were tossed around by the high winds.

Watches and warnings were posted up and down the East Coast as the Coast Guard warned of waves as high as 20 feet and winds topping 55 miles per hour.

In Prince George's County, Maryland, apartments were flooded out, forcing residents to spend their Sunday cleaning up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked out the window and water all on the ground. I wanted to - for real - I wanted to go home, go to Florida, or something where it's warm and cozy.

ACOSTA: The storm is also giving runners in today's 111th Boston Marathon something else to overcome, other than the famed Heartbreak Hill.

GUY MORSE, BOSTON MARATHON ORGANIZER: I've been here 22 years, and we may be facing some of the worst conditions in quite a while.

ACOSTA: Forecast for race time, three to five inches of rain, temperatures in the 30s and winds hitting the runners at 25 miles per hour.

(END VIDEO)

ACOSTA (on camera): And people heading off to work this morning ought to check the road conditions before they head out the door. That is because of what we're seeing behind us right now.

Local flooding in these low-lying areas are going to be causing problems throughout the morning in the New York metropolitan area. Definitely call ahead. And we can tell you from a personal standpoint this is a good idea. We just had to go rescue one of our producers who was stranded on the other side of this massive body of water, right here in Mamaroneck.

So, people should certainly look ahead, see where they're heading out this morning and make sure they're not heading into one of the low-lying, flood-prone areas - Kieran.

CHETRY: And what about right behind your right shoulder? What are we seeing with the water behind you?

ACOSTA: Right, yes. What you're seeing behind is - I mean, essentially we're having residents who are just coming back to their homes or waking up inside of their homes and deciding, OK, now we've got to get the water out of our house.

These folks have brought in pumps and hoses and have run them inside the house, and they're now pumping the water outside of the house. You can tell this homeowner has been through this before. Obviously, they have the equipment to deal with this.

But, I mean, the rainfall was significant. This was massive rainfall up here.

Central Park in New York City, nearly eight inches of rain. And if I'm not mistaken, that is a new record for Central Park.

And much of that rain also fell on Mamaroneck, other parts of the tri-state area. And that is why so many people are waking up to this scene that you're seeing behind me this morning, Kieran.

CHETRY: Unbelievable that that's how much water they have to pump out of their house. What a mess.

All right. Thanks so much, Jim.

Well, New Jersey under a state of emergency, just declared by acting governor, Richard Codey. He's taking over for Governor Jon Corzine, who was severely hurt in a car crash last week.

Acting Governor Codey is on the phone with us now.

Thanks for joining us.

RICHARD CODEY, ACTING GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY (on the phone): Thank you.

CHETRY: Tell us why you went ahead with that declaration, the emergency declaration, this morning.

CODEY: Well, we've had the most rain we've had in New Jersey since 1882. We have 50 of our state roads impassable.

Our state roads are the most used roads for commuting and for transportation. We don't know how many local and county roads are also impassable, as well.

We are - I am urging all New Jersey residents, if you don't have to go out, pleased don't. I don't want to institute a ban at this particular point in time. But I want to strongly urge New Jersey residents, if you can, please stay home, because otherwise, commuting would be incredibly chaotic.

We have train lines under water. It's just getting worse. It's not going to get better. We expect some more floodings of rivers tonight. So, for the residents of the State of New Jersey, the best advice is to stay home.

And, as you probably know, we have over 30,000 people right now without power. And we expect to have many tens of thousands of more New Jerseyans, as the day goes by, who are going to be without power, as well.

CHETRY: What does that emergency declaration get you in terms of getting some help?

CODEY: It allows me - for example, I've activated the National Guard to help us at this particular point in time with evacuations.

CHETRY: And how many evacuations have you had to undertake overnight?

CODEY: Oh, we're going to have hundreds and maybe 1,000 as the day goes on. It's hard to predict.

But it's a really bad situation here in New Jersey, without a doubt.

CHETRY: Yes, I mean, this comes as a big surprise for us this morning. You say 50 percent of the state roads are impassable at this point?

CODEY: No, I said 50 state roads ...

CHETRY: Fifty state roads.

CODEY: ... which is a major hit for us, without question.

As I said, the state roads, for the most part, are the ones most traveled in our state. So, to have 50 knocked out is a severe hit to your transportation system.

CHETRY: It sure is. And you said you don't even know the status of some of those local and county roads ...

CODEY: That's correct.

CHETRY: ... which are probably being hit, as well.

Your advice this morning, stay home if you can. Work at home.

CODEY: Yes. CHETRY: Do what you can to try to avoid that mess so you don't have more people that you have to save today, in addition to what you're doing now.

CODEY: Right. And then hope that your employer will pay you for the day.

CHETRY: All right. You have to hope. All right.

CODEY: OK.

CHETRY: Well, I'm sure if they're listening, they'll do well and they'll try to do that.

But let me ask you a quick question ...

CODEY: Sure.

CHETRY: ... about Governor Corzine.

As we know, he's expected to undergo some more surgery today. Everyone hoping and praying for his quick recovery.

But when do you expect him to return to duty?

CODEY: Boy, that's tough. Physically, for him to be able to be mobile, obviously, is a couple of months away, at least.

When he can resume duties remains to be seen. That's a decision that Jon's got to make in concert with his doctors.

And he could, at some point in the future resume running the state. But he would be running it, you know, from a rehab facility, or eventually from his apartment in Hoboken, or the governor's mansion, either one.

But it's going to be a long, tough, road. He's got some real tough and grueling rehab ahead of him, without question.

He's lucky to be alive, and I'm sure he'd rather be doing the rehab than the alternative. So, all of New Jersey is praying for him and wishes him a speedy recovery.

CHETRY: Oh, absolutely. And in the meantime, you're holding down the fort with some tough conditions of your own. Again, a state of emergency declared in New Jersey.

CODEY: Right. And the fort is being battered. We're under siege.

CHETRY: You're right. It really is.

All right. Thanks so much for joining us.

CODEY: Thank you.

CHETRY: I know you're busy today. Acting governor, Richard Codey.

And we're going to have more on Governor Corzine's surgery planned for today.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us live from Atlanta to talk more about his condition.

Explain what kind of surgery he's going to be having to undergo today, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA: The governor had what's called an open fracture of his leg, Kieran. That basically means that the bone was fractured.

This is the femur bone, which is a thigh bone, a very large bone. And the skin above that fracture was also open. That's how fractures are classified, either open or closed. So, it was open.

A couple of things happened. First of all, he obviously had the fracture fixed. That was done by putting a titanium rod across that broken bone.

But the skin around that area is considered dirty. It was filled with debris, with contamination. So you can't just close the skin. You've got to let it heal.

So, basically, it's a fairly routine procedure. It takes about an hour. And they were essentially cleaning out that wound, removing all of the dead tissue that dies as a result of infection, as a result of that debris.

And this has to take place every couple of days for several days, to make sure that skin starts to heal. So, it's a rather routine operation, but it needs to be done every few days, Kieran.

CHETRY: Is that why he's been kept under, though, because a lot of this stuff is so painful?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I think so. He's had a few different injuries. He had injuries to his chest. He had injuries to his sternum. He broke his collar bone. He has a small injury to his spine and then, obviously, the leg, as well.

All these things are painful. So, to give pain medications, what the pain medications do, in addition to taking care of the pain, is it also makes someone so sedate that they may be unable to breathe on their own, and that's why a breathing tube is placed.

Sometimes, with all the rib fractures, as well, that can make your breathing - which is typically expansion and contraction of the chest cage - a little uncoordinated. So, sometimes a breathing tube helps with that, as well.

Unclear how long he'll need it, but doctors are saying maybe another few days. CHETRY: Wow. All right. It'll be interesting to see, because I've been reading your book - and we'll talk about this in the next hour - how a severe accident, even when you recover from it, affects your overall life expectancy.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I think it does. One of the premises of the book is that any time someone has a brush with mortality, they start to reevaluate things. And I think that may happen with the governor, as well.

CHETRY: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we'll check in with you a little later. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: The governor just lucky to be alive, and his injuries much more serious than we were first led to believe, as well. It's going to take months, obviously, for him to fully recover.

His top aide says that Governor Corzine apparently was not wearing his seatbelt while he was in that SUV.

Greg Hunter is up in Rockville Center on Long Island. He's got more now on the importance of wearing a seatbelt. It goes without saying after this example, Greg.

GREG HUNTER, CNN CONSUMER AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK: It sure does, John. I'm at Mid-Island Collision, and they have lots of cars here - fix cars every day.

Funny thing about wrecks. People always think they're an excellent driver and they never count on an accident.

And that's precisely why you should always wear your seatbelt.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HUNTER (voice-over): New Jersey governor Jon Corzine was in a state SUV when it swerved to avoid another vehicle and crashed into a guardrail. The governor was riding in the front seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not appear that the governor was wearing his seatbelt.

HUNTER: That's right - not wearing his seatbelt.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the odds of being killed or injured are greatly increased for people who don't wear their belts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had he been wearing a seatbelt, his injuries would have been less. How much less, I can't really say, because I'm not familiar with the specifics of the crash. But they certainly would have been less.

HUNTER: The Insurance Institute says you're 45 percent more likely to die and 50 percent more likely to receive a serious injury by not wearing your seatbelt.

For example, look at this video of belted and unbelted crash test dummies hitting a solid barrier at just 30 miles per hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What seatbelts do is, they tie you to the vehicle. Without the seatbelt, you simply hit something else in the car at 30 miles an hour.

HUNTER: It's easy to see why the belted dummy fared much better than the unbelted dummy in these identical crashes.

And don't think that having an airbag means you don't have to wear your seatbelt.

Airbags work best if you're belted, by holding you in the proper position in the seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The seatbelts you should always wear, even if you've got airbags, side airbags and frontal airbags, because the airbags to work depend on you being seatbelted.

(END VIDEO)

HUNTER (on camera): And even with these side curtain airbags, they say you should always wear your seatbelts in the front and in the back. And here's why.

Cars, you know, swerve in an accident, they get hit, they spin around. And people bounce around the inside of the vehicle. And that's dangerous.

And that's why everybody in the car should always have their seatbelt on.

Back to you guys.

ROBERTS: All right. Eventually you're going to hit a solid object there, and that solid object probably isn't going to be moving, and that's going to do a lot of damage.

Greg Hunter, thanks very much.

Now let's hand it back over to Kieran, who's got a very important interview for you this morning.

CHETRY: Thanks, John.

Well, President Bush is going to be speaking at 11 a.m. Eastern in the Rose Garden today, again demanding that Congress approve funding for the Iraq war that doesn't include a deadline for U.S. troops to pull out.

General David Petraeus is the commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq, and he joins us this morning for an exclusive interview.

Good morning, sir. Thanks for being with us.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ, BAGHDAD: Well, good morning to you, Kieran. Thanks.

CHETRY: The fight over the funding is continuing. A lot of Republicans are saying that any withdrawal deadline undercuts you and your plans.

Your thoughts?

PETRAEUS: Well, Kieran, our thoughts are that we have a task at hand here that's pretty consuming. And, in fact, it's not a bad time to be in Baghdad, I think, perhaps over Washington.

We've had our shoulders to the wheel. We're focused on our mission. And we've really tried to keep our eye on that particular task, rather than trying to keep up with what the latest discussions are ...

CHETRY: Right.

PETRAEUS: ... in our nation's capital.

CHETRY: Well, I know you don't want to get too political about it. But by putting a deadline on when you guys are going to leave, how does that affect the day-to-day operations, and also the morale of, let's say, the Iraqi security forces and police?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think it's very important to reassure our Iraqi partners that we are in this with them. And we have done that a great deal.

And I think the most important statement of that is, in fact, the increase in our force levels, that is now about 60 percent complete.

We've got about three of our five surge Army combat brigades on the ground and now into the mix. And the other two will be completely here and in their operational areas by mid-June.

The Iraqis see that. I think that's of huge importance to the overall effort, and it's also hugely important to them. And I think it gives them a good deal of confidence that we will be there right beside them.

CHETRY: Speaking of confidence and whether the other side of the coin, we can have confidence in them, that bombing inside the parliament, it looks like it was an inside job.

A lot of Americans watching that daily violence and wondering if the Iraqi security forces and police are really holding up their end of the deal.

PETRAEUS: Well, they certainly are, Kieran. They actually take about three or 3.5 times as many losses as we do. They are very much in the thick of this.

They are often on point for various operations, the first individual to encounter an Iraqi at a checkpoint, and so forth.

So, they are in the mix. They are in the fight very much. And they are definitely fighting and dying for their country.

CHETRY: Right. Well, I mean that's ...

PETRAEUS: Now, that particular attack was a horrific one. It is of concern. It is unclear right now exactly how that took place. It was a facility that was secured by Iraqi forces with contractors. And as you might imagine, that has gotten enormous attention since then.

And it was really quite an important statement that the following day they held an extraordinary session - that was on a Friday, on their holy day, by the way - that they convened an extraordinary session of the Council of Representatives with their acting prime minister there with them, as well, and other leaders, to make a statement that al Qaeda's attack was an attack on their new democracy, and that their determination was firm and unyielding.

CHETRY: Yes, and that's what's so heartbreaking about it, because there are so many, like you said, who are giving their lives. And then to know that, you know, one of their own infiltrated and wrecked that kind of havoc on their parliament.

I do want to ask you, though, about the deployments. And I know that this is something that you personally feel. You've been, I guess, it's four now, more than your long deployments.

What do you say to the families? And I know you wrote a letter to them about the fact that they're not going to see their loved ones for 15 months now, instead of 12.

PETRAEUS: Well, this is tough news. And frankly, it was even tougher, because we didn't get to tell them that by the chain of command. Unfortunately, there was a leak, and we were not able to do that.

Having said that, there's now a big effort to reach out to those families in the United States. In fact, the chief of staff of the Army called me last night, having made some of those visits. We have done the same thing with our soldiers here.

It was not a complete surprise to the members of many of the units. And frankly, it's probably better that they know way in advance than after they've already hung the welcome home banners at some airfield or hangar somewhere back in the States.

It does give a degree of predictability way up front, and it also ensures that those units that are coming over to Iraq have, at a very minimum, 12 months to prepare for what is a very challenging deployment.

Again, there's nothing easy about this. This is very, very tough. And in my letter to the families, I made no bones about that, and did, in fact, thank them for the sacrifices that they have made and will make in the future. And as you noted, I did mention that my family and I are aware of those, as this is, in fact, my fourth year along deployment - year a longer deployment - since 2001.

CHETRY: Absolutely. And I mean, it is important for all of those families to realize how much we appreciate that.

We have an enormous debt of gratitude to all of them. And we're actually profiling a little series throughout the week called "Children of War," just about how the home front at home, how these families are doing so much, and how they're holding things down here, as the brave men and women are overseas.

And General Petraeus, you're one of them that we thank, as well. So, thank you, and thanks for joining us today.

PETRAEUS: Well, great to be with you, and congratulations on your new post, Kieran.

CHETRY: Thanks so much - John.

ROBERTS: At least your new post is here, and not over there, Kieran.

CHETRY: Very true.

ROBERTS: Coming up, the presidential candidates filed their campaign finance reports this weekend. Find out where all that money came from and where it's going.

And we're going to sit down with Senator John Edwards - former Senator John Edwards - to ask him how he would handle Iraq, if he were president, not two years from now, but today, and how his wife's cancer is affecting his campaign. That coming up.

Also, 50 years of King. We're helping Larry King celebrate a major milestone. He's going to join us live in our studio coming up.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour.

Why the suspenders? Larry King's 50th anniversary in broadcasting this week. And we're all wearing - it's Suspender Monday here at CNN to honor Larry King.

The presidential race getting tighter for both parties.

Here's the newest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll.

Registered Republicans picking Rudy Giuliani by just three points now over John McCain. Fred Thompson is third. He's not even in the race - at least not yet. On the other side of the coin, the Democratic side, 30 percent of registered Democratic voters favor Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama trails by only four points.

Al Gore is third with 15 percent, even though he keeps saying that he's not in the race. In both cases, the frontrunners lead by wide margins, if you take out the undeclared candidates. Gore's presence tends to take away from Hillary and John Edwards.

We're also following the campaign cash. Final results from the first quarter came in this weekend. Now the question is, where's all that money going?

CNN's Jacki Schechner is here with us this morning. Jacki, how are the candidates spending all those millions of dollars?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Salary - not mine, but salary.

ROBERTS: Not mine, either.

SCHECHNER: Clearly not mine.

If you go to PoliticalMoneyLine - it's an independent source for campaign finance - they've compiled all of the FEC filings for you. You could take a closer look at it.

Hillary Clinton's campaign wasting no time touting the fact that they did raise $36 million. She's got about $5 million in expenditures. And like I meant, at the top of that list, is, in fact, salary. That's at a little over $1 million.

One of the things I found interesting was how much she spent on her Web site. That comes in at about $193,000.

Now, if you go over to the Republican side, Mitt Romney's campaign front and center, saying he raised $23 million. But his expenditures more than double Hillary Clinton's at $11.5 million.

If you look at his expense list, at the top of the list is not salary, but media at $1.8 million. That would make sense. He's vying for the name recognition that Giuliani and McCain have.

What also is kind of fun on this list is not the stuff that's at the top of the list, but the stuff that shows up at the bottom.

For example, Joe Biden's campaign office expenses for batteries comes in at a teeny little $4. You've got Senator John McCain's musical entertainment at $100 - not really sure what you can get for 100 bucks, but it's on there.

And then there's also Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico. On his campaign he lists water at $249. But John, he is the governor of New Mexico. It gets a little dry, I would imagine - 250 bucks not bad for water.

ROBERTS: You've got to keep the throat wet. You've got to keep the throat wet there in New Mexico.

So, that's where all the money's going. But where is it all coming from?

SCHECHNER: Well this is really neat. We found this online. This is from the "New York Times" - give them kudos for this one.

This is a little map of where all the money is coming from. And you can see - right here what I'm showing you is Senator Hillary Clinton's $26.1 million. If you switch over to Obama, it'll show you where on the map his funding comes from.

They're both vying for the West Coast at this point, but obviously, their home states contributing the most to either candidate.

ROBERTS: That's a great little map. Thanks for bringing it to us.

SCHECHNER: Isn't it great?

ROBERTS: Yes.

SCHECHNER: Yes, they did a good job.

ROBERTS: All right, Jacki, we'll see you soon.

All right - Kieran.

CHETRY: And thanks, John.

Weather making news all morning long today. We have a state of emergency declared in New Jersey. There's rain and winds from a deadly nor'easter.

We're getting live reports from the flooding also the airports up next.

Also, John Edwards is going to be joining John Roberts live. If he were president, how would he solve the problems in Iraq?

And putting a very human, very innocent face on the story of a stressed U.S. military, a family in crisis as a father is forced to return to Iraq.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: A nasty nor'easter slamming the northeast. New Jersey under a state of emergency now and New York City is under really low pressure. I'm talking hurricane low. Hundreds of flights are canceled or delayed, just a real mess up and down the east coast today. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: t is a very good thing that the winds are not following the barometric pressure because there could be more trouble there. The weather also making for a race to remember. Here's some live pictures of the Mass pike in Massachusetts just outside of Boston. Today's Boston marathon, believe it or not, is going to go on. Runners could come up against driving rain and 25-mile-an-hour winds. Kiran, that is going to make for one race to remember.

CHETRY: All right, you already have to run 26.2 miles willingly and voluntarily and then to deal with that rain and wind. Wow.

ROBERTS: On a beautiful day it would be tough. You can imagine what it is going to be like today.

CHETRY: Sure, I'll just imagine it, I will never actually do it.

Good morning by the way and welcome to a special, it is a split edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And from Washington I'm John Roberts. The reason why we're splitting this up is because great increase in the amount of political news that we're going to be bringing you every morning. CNN made its name and cut its teeth in politics, so we're going to use that muscle power to bring you all the political news you need to know each morning. In just a couple of minutes, we're going to be talking with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. We'll check in with how his wife, Elizabeth, is doing since her cancer diagnosis. And also is he alarmed by some new presidential polls that are out just this morning?

CHETRY: You're borrowing Wolf's studio and it's just an easy stop, right, for all the political --

ROBERTS: Not borrowing Wolf's studio. We absolutely stole it, barred the door, good luck for him getting back inside. I don't think it is going to happen.

CHETRY: And that's the situation. All right, also we'll look at the war through the eyes of children. I had a chance to spend a little bit of time with a family, a very, very brave family that is enduring their dad's second tour. We have seven boys ranging in age from 12 years old to 20 months and our hats go off to their mother who is holding down the fort as their dad continues to do his duty in Iraq.

ROBERTS: And also coming up, inside Larry King's 50 years of broadcasting. We're all wearing suspenders today in honor of Larry. He's talked to everyone from Frank Sinatra to American presidents. He's going to be joining us live and Wolf Blitzer also is going to be joining us live which is why I was making the jokes about the situation.

CHETRY: I got you. So you said you're wearing suspenders?

ROBERTS: Yeah, are you?

CHETRY: Can I see yours again?

ROBERTS: Yes, here we are. Look at that.

CHETRY: It's in honor of Larry. It's a requirement, you weren't allowed in the building today without them.

ROBERTS: Can I tell you something? I came in at midnight and I forgot mine and had to send somebody back to my house to get them.

CHETRY: They're on and that's what's important. All right John.

Well, New England expected to get the brunt of the storm today. We're talking about coastal flooding. Some very strong winds and CNN's Reynolds Wolf is on Cape Cod, Hyannis, Massachusetts, to check it out for us and the last time we checked in with you, you were getting a little bit of a reprieve from the wind. How about now?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's a little bit different. It's a little bit different now. The rain has picked up a little bit. The wind has, as well. We're actually right outside Little Hyannis Harbor. To our viewers at home, you can see some of the raindrops on the screen but let's show you the wind. And to show you the wind, we're going to look across this parking lot, across the street. You can see an American flag right on top of the flagpole and I mean it is just pushed out full bore. The trees are also twisting in the wind. We've heard a little bit of cracking with the trees, but that's not really the only evidence we've been seeing in terms of the strong wind.

What I'd like you to see is right over here into the harbor itself. If you zoom out there a little bit and if you keep watching, every now and then you're going it see a white cap. Now, those white caps is precisely what the harbor master has been looking for. The harbor master, moments ago, told us that these boats that you see over here like say the Lady Martha and we've got two other shuttles there that go to Nantucket and also go to Martha's Vineyard, these boats are built for speed. You'll notice the spread section in there that allows this to move very quickly on the harbor. The harbor master told us that with those white caps that is a sign that right outside of this harbor going out into Nantucket sound, the seas are going to be incredibly rough. They've been rough.

They're expected to be rough all the way throughout much of the day into the evening, as well. These boats are going absolutely no where. And what is frustrating about that for these folks is normally this time of year with spring break, these boats would have made many trips back and forth from the islands. We've had customers come up right over to this booth behind our camera and asking, hey, when is this going to become operational? (INAUDIBLE) operational at all. It looks like it's going to be a stormy day certainly for these folks. Financially in terms of their business and weather wise, well, you know the story there. Back to you.

CHETRY: Did you ever find the owner of the missing hub cap looking thing?

WOLF: We still have that hub cap looking thing right here, so anyone out there who might know this beautiful hub cap looking thing, if anyone wants to claim it, we got it for you. I'll hold onto it, keep it safe.

CHETRY: All right, Good Samaritan this morning, Reynolds, thanks so much. We'll check in with you a little later.

And we're going to bring in severe weather expert Chad Myers. We want to know if the worst is behind us. They're talking power outages and as you know, New Jersey declaring a state of emergency. The governor really concerned about the road condition there.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, 50 state highways under water there in New Jersey. The worst is not over for Boston. Winds are still gusting 48, 44, 50 miles per hour. Now, from New York City, in fact, you are almost under the eye of what would be this hurricane. It's not a warm storm. There is no hurricane eye. But you are in the lull of the wind. It is gustier to your south, to your north and to your east and this is going to be the problem today. We're getting some planes out of La Guardia this morning but very few out of Boston and a lot of snow to the east of Syracuse and Rochester, Ithaca, just coming down in buckets, buckets here. Look at Rivervale (ph), New York, New Jersey, rather, 9.3 inches of rain from this storm. Central Park almost eight inches and Warren, Vermont, 17 inches of snow with this John and a lot more to talk about. Planes are doing poorly this morning; we'll get to that a little bit later.

ROBERTS: Chad I don't want to remind you, but I'm going to. Remember back in January I said this is what the weather was going to be like this spring.

MYERS: I have a vivid memory of you saying don't get used to this spring-like weather in winter because there will be winter-type weather in spring and you got it, buddy.

ROBERTS: There you go.

MYERS: Right on the money.

ROBERTS: I'm buying a lottery ticket tonight. Thanks Chad.

Just released this morning, CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll showing Hillary Clinton leading the charge among Democratic candidates for president, followed by Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards who joins me now from Seneca, South Carolina, Main Street in short sleeves, which is why I don my shirt sleeves, as well. Good to see you, senator.

JOHN EDWARDS (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, John. Congratulations on this job.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much and thanks for joining us this morning. I want to break out of the typical type of interview that we do with presidential candidates, I don't want to talk about what you want to do two years from now, here on AMERICAN MORNING, you are now the president of the United States. I would like to hear what you would do right now if you were president about Iraq. How would you handle it? Would you turn all those brigades who are headed for Iraq back around? What would you do?

EDWARDS: I'd start taking troops out of Iraq. I would make it clear to the government that we're going to be redeploying out of Iraq over the course of the next year or so. I'd take 40 to 50,000 troops out of the north and the south immediately and I'd continue a steady redeployment and I'd get America engaged with all countries in the region, but specific Iran and Syria into helping stabilize Iraq. Those would be the first things I'd do.

ROBERTS: And senator, what do you think would happen in Iraq if you started pulling those troops out?

EDWARDS: I think that the only thing that has any possibility of success, John, is for the Maliki government, the leadership of the Maliki government and the Sunni and the Shia to reach some kind of political reconciliation. And they're not doing it now. They haven't been doing it for the past several years. We have to shift the responsibility to them. So I think that's the greatest chance of success is to have them take responsibility.

ROBERTS: But the big question, senator that people have, is that if they're not doing it now, why would people think that it would happen if U.S. troops got out of Iraq? Wouldn't it just get worse?

EDWARDS: Fair question. The flip side of that is, why would they think it would happen if we continue doing what we're doing now and propping them up. I think we have to change course. By the way, is what the American people said in the last election. They want to see a different course.

ROBERTS: And how would you engage Iran and Syria? What would you say to them to bring them to the table in some sort of constructive fashion?

EDWARDS: I would say we're going to be leaving Iraq. We're not going to be an occupying force there. The Iranians, for example, have a clear interest in a stable Iraq. They don't want to see a million refugees coming across their western border. The last thing they want to see is a broader Middle East conflict between Shia and Sunni because they are a Shia country in a Sunni-dominated Muslim world. Syria has a similar interest. They're a Sunni country, not a Shia country, but they're worried about refugees. They're worried about their own economic stability. So I think both those countries, particularly if America is in the process of leaving Iraq and not occupying, have an interest in a stable Iraq.

ROBERTS: Vice President Dick Cheney still believes that there is chance to win this. Let's take a quick listen to what he said to Bob Scheiffer yesterday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I do believe we can win in Iraq. I think it's a worthy cause. I think it's absolutely essential that we prevail and I think the United States of America, at the beginning of the 21st century is perfectly capable of winning this fight against these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Senator, your reaction to that. Should Democrats not give this so-called surge, this increase in troops a bit of a chance?

EDWARDS: John, the surge is not working. It's absolutely clear that the surge is, in fact, failing. I mean the attack on the Iraqi parliament inside the green zone is clear evidence of that. The vice president has been saying this kind of stuff for years now. It's not the truth. The American people know it's not the truth and they know we have to change course from the course that we're on now and that's what they want to see.

ROBERTS: Let me change to the campaign for a second here. A recent poll found you in third position, 15 percent compared to 28 percent for Barack Obama and 36 percent for Hillary Clinton. They're also way ahead of you in the money. Your wife Elizabeth recently said she thinks what is going on in the political campaign right now is a quote, a cult of personality. But if it is a cult of personality, those are some personalities with some pretty heavy money. How do you compete with that?

EDWARDS: Well, I think what'll happen over time John, I've been through this, this is not something I have to guess about, I'm not new to it. I know that what happens over time is voters start looking very closely at the candidates and they take a look at what you're for. What do you want to do as president of the United States? In my case I'm standing up for universal health care with a specific plan, changing the way we use energy, a clear plan for how we get out of Iraq and I'm here actually in South Carolina today to talk about how we strengthen rural America. I think that's what voters are going to be looking at in the end. It won't go about personality and it won't be about flash. It's going to be about who is actually prepared to be president.

ROBERTS: In 20 seconds, sketch me a scenario of how you win the nomination.

EDWARDS: I win in the early states. That's the way the nomination is always decided is, how do you do in Iowa? How do you do in Nevada? How do you do in New Hampshire. I'm ahead in Iowa, strong in Nevada, doing well in New Hampshire, I'm in my home state place where I was born, South Carolina, which comes fourth. So I think the most important state for me to win the nomination, John, is not to be thinking about political strategy, but to be talking about what I want to do as president and bringing Americans into actually taking action, taking action to help strengthen this country, not just having the president of the United States do it.

ROBERTS: Well, senator, we thank you for being with us. We were hoping that Elizabeth would be able to join us, but she's got some child care issues. So perhaps we can get both of you on the show coming up if not the next few days, the next few weeks.

EDWARDS: We'd love to do it. Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Hope she's doing well. Thanks very much.

EDWARDS: Appreciate that.

ROBERTS: Kiran.

CHETRY: All right, great job, Johns.

He talked to politicians, celebrities, newsmakers and everyday Americans and now Larry king celebrating a monumental milestone. He is right here. He's right next to me. Look, I'm touching him right now. He's going to join us live to talk all about, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, all this week we're honoring the king, the master of the mike, Larry King. He's celebrating 50 years in broadcasting. He begins tonight by getting Oprah to open up about her personal life. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is it like to be very poor and then very rich?

OPRAH WINFREY: It's the best! It's the best! It's the best. It's the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: I'm sure it is, a little role reversal. Larry is here with us this morning to answer some of our questions. Thanks for being here. Thanks for getting up.

KING: Congratulations, great beginning to you and for John.

CHETRY: I'm thrilled to be here.

KING: All the suspenders floating around.

CHETRY: I got them on this morning just for you.

KING: Black like mine.

CHETRY: Black like yours, that's right. It's a requirement to get in the building today.

KING: When I saw that note from Jim Walton, the head of the company and heard from John Cline (ph) that they were going to do this, this kickoff day of this 50th anniversary week, I couldn't have been more impressed. I was really flipped. Had a lot of nice things happen to me in 50 years and this is one of them.

CHETRY: You're probably going to be more impressed throughout the day when you see how many people are wearing them because I think it's a lot. What is Oprah like in person because she is just such an icon?

KING: I go back a long way with Oprah. She used to host a show in Baltimore, I think it was called "Good Morning Baltimore." And I had started my national radio show before CNN and she invited me as a guest and they used to have a surprise guest on that show and they opened up a curtain and my daughter, who was attending private school in Maryland, was the surprise guest. They brought her over from school. She was delightful. I kept up a running contact with her over the years, very proud of her success. I think she's worth every cent of it. She's a terrific talent. She's a great communicator. She's an unusual human being. She stepped, she stepped above it.

CHETRY: She really did and she's has given so much back to people. You've done more than 40,000 interviews, which is just mind boggling to think of. Do you have a favorite or a few favorites?

KING: A few favorites. I had Eleanor Roosevelt when I was 23 years old, just on radio. Her son was mayor of Miami Beach and he got her for me. That was pretty good. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Sinatra, Sinatra's last interview which they played parts of. By the way, this Wednesday night, I finally saw a preview of it. I didn't see it in total but I saw a preview flying in of this "CNN Presents," it's a special called "Larry King 50 years of Pop Culture" this Wednesday night in my time slot for two hours, unbelievable. The job -- have you seen the work that they do at "CNN Presents"?

CHETRY: They do such an incredible job. I was wondering when I saw some snippets of that, did it take you back to those various interviews?

KING: Oh my God it took me back in scenes of Miami Beach, in clips of the interviews and then the way they focused on things that were occurring in the society when I were interviewing people associated with the society, beautiful. You got to watch it.

CHETRY: You haven't changed much. You look very much like you do now in a lot of those clips. So that's a good thing.

KING: But in some of them I look like the Pillsbury dough boy. Those crazy glasses and I weighed about 20 pound more.

CHETRY: Let me ask you about what you have left to accomplish. I mean 50 years and you've interviewed 40,000 plus people. Any interview you still want to get your hands on?

KING: We're still working on Castro. I'd like to do Castro. I'd love to do this pope. I'd like to do Prince Charles. We had on all the other world leaders. I still love the game, I love the process. I love being involved in the mix. I hope to continue working at CNN, sign a new contract. go on beyond my year. I foal very young. I'm 73, but I don't feel 73. I don't act -- CHETRY: You look great.

KING: You like the way I look?

CHETRY: You're a gentleman. You sent flowers for my first day and that was very sweet of you.

KING: We're sweet people.

CHETRY: Why the suspenders?

KING: That started with my ex-wife, Sharon. I give her complete credit. It was after my surgery, my heart surgery and I started to lose weight and I stopped smoking and I guess I started to look better and she said - I used to wear sweaters. Have you ever tried braces, suspenders? I said, no. She said, you ought to try them. You might look good. I tried them. Two people called in and said you look good and that's all we had to hear in broadcasting, two people said you looked good. My wife, Sean, loves them. The kids love them.

CHETRY: There it is and now everyone that you bump into today at least here at CNN will be wearing them in your honor.

KING: I couldn't be more pleased. I'm so excited to come back here to the place where I was born and raised in New York City and Brooklyn. I'm going out to Brooklyn this afternoon to do some shots because Katie Couric is going to interview me tomorrow if it stops raining.

CHETRY: I wouldn't recommend leaving.

KING: I come from California where we haven't had rain, I don't remember the last time we had rain. Boy, you don't have a drought here.

CHETRY: No, it's like we wish we could flip the weather around and help everyone out. But our time is up here, I just want to say it's an honor to talk to you and we're going to be watching all week.

KING: I'll tell you another thing. They just told me this. I'm coming back here in an hour to interview you and John.

KING: You're kidding.

KING: That's what they told me.

CHETRY: It would be our pleasure. I better start brushing up. Do you know what you're going to ask me?

KING: I'll be back. Remember that, I'll be back. Who said that? Schwarzenegger.

CHETRY: He sure did, still does. We want to make sure that you all watch Larry by the way this week. Of course, you're going to watch it all the time, but this week a very special week, 50 years in broadcasting. We're celebrating it here at CNN. You don't want to miss the two-hour special that Larry was just talking about, airing this Wednesday. "Larry King Live" every night 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. We're going to be back in a moment, the most news in the morning right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Well, Madonna is back in Malawi again this morning along with David, the Malawian child that she is still in the process of adopting. Madonna plans to visit orphanages and day care centers in Malawi. She and her husband, Guy Ritchie, took custody of David last fall. Malawian child welfare officials are still working to finalize the adoption. Of course as you know, it's been very controversial.

A nasty nor'easter is sweeping the eastern seaboard. We'll take a look at where it is headed and some of the damage that it has already done. State of emergency declared in New Jersey.

And Vice President Cheney makes a bold prediction about that war funding standoff with Congress, his challenge to Democrats just ahead.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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