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AMERICAN MORNING

Cheney Vs. Reid: War of Words Over Iraq; McCain Announces Today; Karl Rove Probe

Aired April 25, 2007 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Killer storms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just so quick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I jumped fences and everything until I got to my kids because I didn't know if they were OK.

ROBERTS: Survivor stories from a night of tornado terror, with more extreme weather on the move, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Good morning. It's Wednesday, April the 25th. A terrible day in Texas.

I'm John Roberts in Washington.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.

It sure was, John, with the tornado.

Little warning, about 15 minutes, but it didn't make a difference for many who lost their lives, and the others, countless others who were injured and homeless today. So we're going to be updating you all morning on that.

ROBERTS: Other stories on our radar this morning.

Dick Cheney and Harry Reid, a new war brewing between the two of them. Nasty exchanges yesterday. We'll go up to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, find out what's going on.

Karl Rove also under investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel. You probably never heard about it. We'll be talking with the chief counsel of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, later on this hour about that investigation -- Kiran.

CHETRY: That should be very interesting.

And also, we have some special guests today. The video yesterday that we saw of a little 4-year-old boy, Caden, he was tackled when he was on the sidelines of a Colorado State University practice game.

He -- boy, he scared everyone that saw that video, but he is OK. Mom, dad and little Caden will be joining us live in just a few moments.

But first, we're going to get right to the breaking news. A powerful line of storms hitting Texas, including at least one tornado. Six people killed in Eagle Pass on the Mexico border.

It hit an elementary school, as well. That was destroyed. More than 20 homes, as well as a sewage plant, also damaged, and there are dozens of people hurt, some of them critically.

The National Guard is going door to door making sure everyone is accounted for.

Chad Myers has also been keeping an eye on that weather, the extreme weather that caused that tornado in Texas, as well as what we can expect for the rest of the day.

Hi, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kiran.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: The House is expected to begin voting today on the war funding bill. Calls for timelines and troops to come home are going to be embedded in it. Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid are ratcheting up the angry rhetoric in the war of words over Iraq.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions base on the security interests of our country, not on the interest of their political party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a nine percent approval rating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: He's not going to get into a name-calling contest, but he did call him an attack dog.

CNN's congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, standing by now live on Capitol Hill with the latest.

Dana, this is pretty extraordinary. Cheney out of the cave swinging with both fists here. DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Swinging. And not only that. What was most remarkable about that exchange, John, is where Dick Cheney did it.

It's hard to tell from looking at it, but he was just steps away from the Senate floor and steps away from Harry Reid's own office. He stood exactly where Harry Reid stands every week when he comes and talks to reporters.

So, it was really in your face in terms of the way he did it, not just what he said. But this exchange has really been going on for the past couple of days.

Harry Reid, just a day earlier, on Monday, went after the vice president personally, essentially said that he demeans the office because of things that Harry Reid thinks that Cheney had said about the war that didn't add up. But this is also just kind of a microcosm, of course, of the bigger verbal volley that is going up and down Pennsylvania Avenue as they head towards these votes on Iraq -- on the Iraq war funding bill, and they plan to send this, of course, to the president for a veto by the end of the week.

ROBERTS: Let's get into that in just a second. But it's very unusual for Cheney to say anything when he comes up to the Hill for these Tuesday lunches.

BASH: Unprecedented. You know, I can tell you, he has been coming to this Tuesday lunch with Senate Republicans pretty much every week since he's been in office, about six years.

We try to get a question to him almost every week. He barely even makes eye contact with us, John, much less answers questions or talks to us. That's why it was so remarkable when we got the heads up from his office that he was going to come to the cameras, and very, very intentional in terms of, as I said, the place he did this attack.

ROBERTS: So, what's happening with that war spending bill today?

BASH: Well, the House is going to vote on it later today, probably even early this evening. It's going to be a squeaker.

We talked about this earlier this week, because last time it only passed with -- it passed with actually no votes to spare. House Democratic leaders think that they are going to get it through. They said they feel confident. But from now until that vote, John, there is going to be a lot of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, because many rank and file Democrats think that this particular measure doesn't go far enough because it has a goal of bringing troops home by this time next year, but not a hard and fast deadline.

ROBERTS: All right. Dana Bash for us on Capitol Hill this morning.

Dana, thanks very much.

BASH: Thank you. Things got pretty hot last night, too. John versus John, McCain versus Stewart. John McCain is officially announcing his presidential campaign today, but not before things got a little testy on "The Daily Show".

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If you talk to the young men and women who are fighting, they'll tell you they think it's a worthwhile cause and that they're fighting for freedom. Well, they...

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Not all of them.

MCCAIN: All I'm saying, the overwhelming majority of them do.

STEWART: The majority...

MCCAIN: I hear from them all the time.

STEWART: The majority guys that I talk to say...

MCCAIN: I talk to these...

STEWART: ... "The political scene is not my scene. I'm a soldier."

MCCAIN: And I talk to them all the time, my friend, and I hear from them all the time. They know -- I know what war is like.

STEWART: And no one's saying that they shouldn't be proud of their service...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: This is a very unfair way to deal with this issue because...

MCCAIN: It certainly is. It certainly is.

STEWART: ... let me explain it this way.

MCCAIN: It's very unfair...

STEWART: What I'm saying is, what's less supportive of them...

MCCAIN: ... when these young people are being told they are fighting a war...

STEWART: Settle down a second.

MCCAIN: No, you settle down. That they're fighting in a war that they lost. That's not fair to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Whenever John McCain calls you "My friend," you know he's ticked off.

McCain's announcement set for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, today. That's where Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley is this morning.

Candy, this is at least the second announcement of his candidacy that John McCain has made. What's he selling today?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today it's all about experience. You heard a little about that, if you could understand the exchange with Jon Stewart.

Senator McCain has done a series of speeches running up to this announcement. They've been on domestic policy, they've been on energy policy, and they've been on the war, which obviously is his signature issue and has been made his signature issue. And what he has tried to do in those is take a serious tone and talk about his experience.

He will do the same again today in this speech. If I could just read you an excerpt from that speech that was given out by the campaign.

McCain will say, "We face formidable challenges, but I am not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them. I'm not the youngest candidate, but I am the most experienced. I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do."

So, experience, experience, experience, John, on the level of all of these issues. But in particular, on the war, which, as you know, is a premier issue of this campaign so far.

ROBERTS: Right. I mean, experience is one thing, but what about the issue of age?

He's 70 years old now. He'll be 71, pushing 72 on Election Day. Is that going to be a problem for him? I mean, he'll be four years older -- three years older than Ronald Reagan was.

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely. And in fact, this particular quote I just read you reminded me a little bit about Ronald Reagan in that famous debate when he said, "I will not make age a problem in this campaign, my opponent's relative inexperience."

That's clearly where McCain is going with this. Yes, he would be the oldest person ever to take the Oval Office, but he is selling that as experience rather than age.

ROBERTS: The guy he's got to beat is Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani came out yesterday with an interesting statement, saying that if the Democrats win, the country risks another 9/11. But if he is elected president, he's the sort of guy who would be able to prevent such an attack from happening.

It sounds like he's fighting the 2004 election all over again.

CROWLEY: Tough stuff, but that is Rudy Giuliani playing to his strengths.

Look, let's face it, on the social issues that are very near and dear to the heart of the Republican Party, Giuliani is at odds with them on abortion, on gay rights, on gun rights. Nonetheless, he believes that his selling point is his term as 9/11 mayor, his reputation as a tough guy on terrorism, and that's what he's trying to do here, is change the focus to what he believes is his strength, and that's 9/11.

He says -- I mean, he accused the Democrats, saying, look, if they take office, they'll wave the white flag in Iraq, they'll cut back on the Patriot Act. We'll eventually win the war, but they, Democrats, would make it longer and perhaps with more casualties.

So, this is tough stuff, but certainly Giuliani playing to what he considers his strengths -- John.

ROBERTS: Candy, thanks very much. We can hear them warming up the P.A. system for the announcement later on today. It will be interesting to see what kind of mood he is in after that dustup with Jon Stewart yesterday.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Candy, thanks -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, John.

Well, still to come this morning, potential problems for Karl Rove. The president's right-hand man now the targets of a new investigation. We're going to talk to the man heading up that inquiry. He joins us live in just a few moments.

Also stopping by, the toughest kid in Colorado, maybe even the country right now. The 4-year-old boy tackled on the sidelines by a college football player feeling a lot better this morning. Actually, he's going to be here. His mom and dad are here, as well.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Thirteen past the hour now. We want to check in with Chad Myers. He's going to give us a look at what we can expect today after such a terrible weather day yesterday, especially for Texas.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: A government agency is investigating whether Karl Rove and other White House aides were involved in illegal political activity. The agency is also looking into the firing of one of the former U.S. attorneys, David Iglesias, as well as use of Republican Party e-mail accounts by administration officials.

Scott Bloch is the special counsel leading the Office of the Special Counsel in the White House, a little-known office. Many people have never heard about it, or Scott Bloch, but he joins me now.

Good morning to you.

SCOTT BLOCH, U.S. SPECIAL COUNSEL: Good morning, John.

ROBERTS: Your office is independent, but it is within the executive branch. So, the first question a lot of people are asking is, is this going to be a genuinely thorough, legitimate investigation, or is this just going to be a whitewash to find no wrongdoing?

BLOCH: Well, this will be a legitimate, thorough investigation. It will be fair, impartial, according to the law and the facts.

We are an independent agency, which means that I cannot be removed from office except for malfeasance. I have a term of five years. I was confirmed by the Senate in 2003.

And we look at illegal political activity, as well as whistleblower allegations of fraud, waste and abuse, abuse of authorities by government officials. We protect federal employees. We protect the public from fraud and waste of resources, and that's what we do all day long. And this is another case.

ROBERTS: So, this investigation is taking you inside the Office of Political Affairs, which many people know is run by Karl Rove. What led you in that direction?

BLOCH: We have several investigations open. We are the exclusive agency that investigates these allegations of illegal political activity and use of official authority to affect elections. We have these allegations concerning the head of the GSA, or the General Services Administration, and that has allegations of a presentation that was put together by the Office of Political Affairs, which may prove to be partisan political activity.

ROBERTS: This is Lurita Doan that you're talking about?

BLOCH: That's correct, because that's an open investigation.

We have another investigation based on the complaint of former U.S. attorney David Iglesias. And that's two allegations. One involving that he was fired in part for perhaps his military service, and the other is that he may have been fired for putting the pressure on him to engage in some political activity to effect an election, potentially.

ROBERTS: Right. And what is the connection to Rove then?

BLOCH: Well, there is a nexus with the White House office of Political Affairs, and there is a great deal of information in the public domain through congressional investigations and other allegations we've received from individuals that suggest that we need to be looking in that direction and to be asking people in that office about these presentations, as well as use of e-mails and other aspects.

ROBERTS: Has he done anything wrong that you have found out yet?

BLOCH: No, not that we know of.

ROBERTS: Right.

This is all being investigated under what's called the Hatch Act of 1939, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. But the number of complaints that have been raised about this, does this give you some indication that during the 2004 campaign and maybe even during the 2006 campaign that there were some things that the White House was engaging in, and White House officials were engaging in that did contravene the Hatch Act, where, in fact, federal employees were engaging in partisan political activities?

BLOCH: Well, you have to understand, we're at the preliminary stages of our investigation. We have drawn no conclusions as of yet. It is typical during election cycles for there to be a great deal of political activity in the government, which is why we're there to do outreach and give advisory opinions, and to warn employees to resist the temptation to coerce others into political activity, and using their authority to do that, or themselves to use federal resources or government time for doing that.

ROBERTS: Now, at the same time that you're investigating, you're also being looked at by the Office of Personnel Management for improper employment practices, allegations of intimidating workers. Is that going to hamper your ability to investigate this?

BLOCH: Not whatsoever. There's no truth to any of those allegations. We look forward to the termination of that inquiry, which has been going on for two years. I have never heard from anybody and never been asked any questions. That simply has no bearing on this whatsoever.

ROBERTS: Scott Bloch, he's the head of the Office of Special Counsel at the White House.

Thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it. Good luck in your investigation. We'll be watching.

BLOCH: My pleasure. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, still to come this morning, proof that love conquers all. We're going to tell you the story of a grandmother who went up against this massive fire to save the life of her 3-year-old grandson inside.

Plus, it's Caden's comeback. He was the 4-year-old boy mowed over in this difficult to watch video. It was a college football player that hit him, coming in for a touchdown pass. But he is back on his feet feeling so much better this morning. In fact, his parents and little Caden stopping by to visit us next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's 22 past the hour right now. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

You can pretty much buy and doing anything at Wal-Mart. What's left?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting about Wal-Mart is its growth is slowing down. You know, it's got so many hundreds of people coming in -- hundreds of millions people come into Wal-Mart all the time. What do you do? What do you do for a second act?

So Wal-Mart is going to open up clinics. They have been testing this since 2005 in about 76 stores. Now they're going to expand to 400 stores over the next two to three years.

They're going to lease space to local or regional hospitals or third parties to have clinics in the Wal-Mart. The idea is it will bring people into the store.

The clinics will have prices posted. The aim is to get uninsured people to make decisions about their health care, possibly even preventative health care because they know how much it's going to cost.

A survey by Wal-Mart indicated that a number of their uninsured customers -- and by some estimates, half of their customers or more are uninsured -- would sooner go to emergency than -- because they don't know what health care is going to cost them. So this is about the transparency in health care.

They're saying that if this works out, over the next five to seven years you could see 2,000 clinics in Wal-Mart stores. Right now, Wal-Mart has about 3,000 stores in the United States.

CHETRY: Wow.

VELSHI: So it's an interesting trend. They're private clinics.

You know, since November, Wal-Mart has had this $4 prescription -- generic prescription thing. And that's helping out.

So, on one hand, Wal-Mart is criticized by a lot of people for some of its practices. On the other, it's actually showing some leadership on the health care side, particularly with so many uninsured Americans.

CHETRY: It really is. And it's unbelievable, though. How are they going to work that logistically? I mean, people still want to shop. And then how do you make sure it doesn't become, you know, almost like a doctor's office?

VELSHI: Right, it becomes the -- yes. Well, you know, Wal-Mart has an ability to figure this out. That's the one thing -- they execute very well.

CHETRY: Wow.

VELSHI: So it will be interesting to see how this pans out and whether it's a trend that catches on.

CHETRY: Pretty cool. Thanks a lot, Ali.

VELSHI: OK.

CHETRY: Well, in the meantime, a little boy is safe this morning thanks to his quick-thinking grandmother's leap of faith. When fire broke out at their apartment in Sacramento, California, Jo Ann Conner grabbed her 3-year-old grandson trying to get out. The fire stood in the way, so she did the only thing she could think of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JO ANN CONNER, HEROIC GRANDMOTHER: I picked him up and held him in my arms and just fell out the window backwards and landed on top of an air-conditioning unit. Thank god it wasn't the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That is unbelievable. She just threw herself out of the window to save her grandson. She suffered a cut on her leg, and her grandson -- there he is -- he was not hurt at all.

ROBERTS: Wow.

CHETRY: Brave, and she certainly had a guardian angel on her shoulder that day, because as she said, she did not hit the ground.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable. Sure. I mean, she could have hit the edge of the air-conditioner, as well, really messed herself up. Just, you know, perfect swan dive there.

Lucky her. Amazing story.

Hey, coming up, another interesting story brewing overseas. A soldier speaking out about how the victims of Virginia Tech were honored and how the U.S. honors or doesn't honor its fallen soldiers.

Plus, remember this video? Bulldozed on the sidelines. Kapow! Today we're going to meet the little guy, along with his parents. They join us in the studio coming up.

And you may have seen this talented kitty on YouTube -- 2.6 million people have viewed it. We'll show you the world premier of her latest recital ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

The most news in the morning is on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Killer storms. Pounding rains and a tornado in Texas. Six people killed. Word just in, one of the victims a little girl. Her family in their trailer at the time, and it just picked it up and threw it into a school.

To the North, where snow is moving through the Rockies, closing roads, stranding drivers.

And also, new pictures of the new threat for extreme weather.

All of this on AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning. Thanks so much for being with us on this Wednesday, April 25th.

I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts, here in Washington, D.C.

(NEWSBREAK)

CHETRY: We're going to get right to our breaking story now overnight, and it's this line of powerful storms that moved across Texas, including spawning at least one tornado. We're hearing six people were killed in Eagle Pass, along the Mexican border. Four of the people killed, including a 3-year-old girl, were in a mobile home and it was blown from its foundation and knocked into an elementary school. More than 20 homes were damaged along with the sewer treatment plant. There are emergency shelters now housing at least 300 residents who were left homeless because of this, and dozens of others were hurt, some of them critically. We're going to be following that story the rest of today.

ROBERTS: A rather startling question is being raised this morning by an Army sergeant in Afghanistan. He wants to know why aren't flags flown at half staff for fallen U.S. servicemen and women in the way that we fly them at half staff to honor the victims of, say, the Virginia Tech massacre?

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining me now live with more. She's at the Pentagon.

And, Barbara, this was an official press relief sent by Army Sergeant Jim Wilt. You know this fellow?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, we do. This is -- let me start with a little background here. When reporters come in every morning here at the Pentagon, we usually have on our e- mail several press releases from public affairs officers in Iraq, in Afghanistan, overnight, bringing us up to date on the latest developments.

We often do hear from Jim Wilt, public affairs specialist at the press office in Bagram, Afghanistan. But when I logged on this morning there was a rather startling president release from Sergeant Wilt trying to ask the question, why don't we honor our fallen comrades? Opened up the press release, and what we found from him was a very riveting two, three-page press release, where he expressed a good deal of distress about that very question.

Listen to a couple things Sergeant Wilts said in this press release that we got. He said, quote, "I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half staff for the young men and women who were killed at Virginia Tech, yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. service member."

He went on to say, quote, "Is the life of Sergeant Alexander Van Aalten, a member of our very own task force, killed April 20th in Helmand province not valued the same as these 32 students? Surely his death was as violent as the students."

A very unfiltered view from someone in the war zone. Now, we asked the question, was this really an official press release. What we were told is Sergeant Wilt was writing a piece that was his personal opinion, that he was thinking about trying to get it published in a newspaper somewhere, and it accidentally got sent out as an official press release, and it is a very riveting press release, indeed -- John.

ROBERTS: Also points out that in accordance with the president's orders, the flags at Bagram airfield were lowered to half staff in honor of the 33 people killed at Virginia Tech. But you've been to Bagram. You've been there when service members have been killed. They do have certain protocols that they follow, do they not, to honor the dead?

STARR: They do, indeed. When I read this what instantly flashed in my mind last Thanksgiving on a very cold winter night in Afghanistan we were there late at night when some remains, some bodies of fallen soldiers were being returned to the base to be flown back home to their families in the United States.

What happens at Bagram when a soldier's remains are returned is the casket goes on a truck and it passes through the entire base. Late at night, hundreds of soldiers stood out in the cold, in silent salute to their fallen comrade as that person's casket passed through the base.

So this is a base with very strong traditions of honoring its fallen, and a sergeant who is asking some very tough questions why the rest of America doesn't do the same -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes, Wilt writes here in this press release, or article, quote, "We've lined the sides of Disney Drive" -- which is I guess the main drive in Bagram -- "here when one of our brothers or sisters in the service dies, but we don't lower the flag that they fight under."

Well, obviously he's raising some provocative issues here, Barbara, even though it seems to be accidental. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Very fascinating story, by the way.

CHETRY: New precautions this morning to make sure problems with pet food have not spread to the human food supply. The FDA announcing it's going to begin a new round of testing.

Earlier we spoke with Dr. David Acheson of the FDA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DAVID ACHESON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, FDA CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY & APPLIED NUTRITION: There's no reason whatsoever to avoid these products. As I said, there's no indication that any of these are in the human food supply right now. This is purely a proactive approach by us to make sure that we get out ahead of something, and not simply reacting to a problem when it arises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And the FDA also stepping up to stop another outbreak in the food supply after E. coli was found in spinach.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went to the Salinas Valley in California to show us the latest weapon against deadly germs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long, straight rows of green, harvesters and field hands, long-time signs of spring in California's Salinas Valley.

But this spring there is something new on the farm: a mobile lab to test for a deadly strain of E. coli.

MANSOUR SAMADPOUR, MOLECULAR EPIDEMIOLOGY INC.: This is one of our mobile labs.

GUPTA: The brainchild of Mansour Samadpour, founder of Seattle- based Molecular Epidemiology Incorporated.

SAMADPOUR: We are in the business of (INAUDIBLE). We can never eliminate risk 100 percent. But you have it realize that, you know, you cannot make accurate cultures still.

GUPTA: It took investigators month to trace the source of a nationwide outbreak last fall to Natural Selection, the company that bagged the spinach. Three people died, 200 got sick.

SAMADPOUR: I'd like to come in before a company outbreak and go in and work on their systems and make sure they're not going to have an outbreak. This is our specialty; this is what we do.

GUPTA: It only takes a microscopic amount of E. coli to make you sick. And this strain, E. coli 0157, is extremely hearty -- resistant to cold and nearly impossible to wash off, it can survive on a lettuce leaf for 77 days. Having the lab where the spinach is grown means Manapur can find and destroy contaminated spinach on the spot.

SAMADPOUR: We had about 35 positive samples. Once you test, you will find positives and you eliminate them. That is the goal of the program.

GUPTA: E. coli 0157 is found in animal feces. Many food experts say having cattle too close to produce fields are causing the problems in the valley dubbed America's salad bowl. While growers work on preventing contamination in the field, one of the largest producers of ready-to-eat greens is hoping science will serve as the last line of defense.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, the sea is now pouring through the middle of some very pricey beachfront property. The amazing pictures and what homeowners are doing right now, coming right up.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: This morning the effects of last week's nor'easter could be seen right on the beaches of Cape Cod, some of which have disappeared. Take a look at this. The ocean punching a big hole right through some very expensive beach front property.

CNN's Rob Marciano is up in Orleans, Massachusetts. That's right there on the elbow of Cape Cod.

Rob, a whole new island community created up there this morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the people who have summer cottages there, John, are completely isolated. The only way to get to that spot now is by boat. It is behind me and around the corner by half a mile or so is where that breach occurred. It's over a football field wide now, and the water just continues to pour in and it's starting to eat away at areas of the inland part of the bay that was once protected by this peninsula; now, exposed to the ocean.

Beach erosion has been an ongoing battle here across the cape, up and down the east coast really, for decades now. We're at low tide, and the high-water mark would be about here, and then you get a storm to come in and bring in pounding waves and, as you can imagine, just cuts into the sand dunes. We've got sand dune grasses that try to hold some of this land in. But it's just no -- there's no contest when you talk about the ocean that continues to lap up against this shoreline. Take a look at another shot as we show you some of the landscape here. This sandbar that you're seeing at low tide was not here before this nor'easter came through. So an ever-changing landscape here, no doubt. The locals telling me dunes here were 20, 30 feet higher and went out about 200 yards. You're looking at homes now on the inland part of the bay that are protected by these dunes. The hole that was punched through this peninsula just down the beach, if that hole was not filled, then homes like this will be exposed to the open ocean. A geologists we talked to yesterday said that that hole should be patched naturally over the coming weeks, but there was a similar breach about 20 years ago from a storm, and that hole has only gotten larger and larger.

Where does this sand go? Well, it doesn't just go out to sea; it's deposited else where throughout the shoreline. So it's part of a natural evolution, but it's kind of exaggerated a little bit, John, you know, with the rising sea level. And also this part of the cape actually sinks down through time, just the way the tectonic plates work out. So we've got rising to sea level, a bit of a sinking land here. And then as you know, globe is getting warmer, we expect sea levels to rise even warmer. So this problem will continue to get larger and larger as we go on through time.

ROBERTS: These coast lines have been shaped and reshaped over the millennia. Just building a few houses there isn't going to change things. I think you said it right when you said it earlier today. If you have a beachfront home, enjoy it while you have it.

Rob Marciano, thanks very much. Appreciate it -- Kiran.

MARCIANO: You bet.

CHETRY: Or just hope that Mother Nature can fill it in eventually.

"CNN NEWSROOM" is just minutes away. Tony Harris is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Hi there, Tony. Good to see you.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kiran, good to see you. Good morning to you.

We have got these stories on the "NEWSROOM" rundown for you this morning. Iraqi war commander General David Petraeus heading to Capitol Hill today. His mission, convince Congress to give the troop build up more time.

Dangerous storms possible today from Houston to Cincinnati. A tornado already taking six lives in Texas.

A suitcase with a wad of cash, thousands of dollars found on the side of the road. Would you give it back? The man on the left, he did. Fredricka is in for Heidi today.

NEWSROOM top of the hour right here on CNN. Kiran, back to you in New York City.

CHETRY: All right. good for him. He did the right thing.

Thanks, Tony. We'll be watching.

It's Baldwin versus Basinger. You heard the bitter tirade. The question now is, who released that tape?

Also millions logged on to see Nora the cat. She taught herself how to play the piano. Well, we have Nora's encore performance up next.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: As you might expect, Alec Baldwin's brother is stepping up in his defense. You remember that scathing voice-mail message that Baldwin left for his 11-year-old daughter. It was played everywhere after TMZ.com picked it up. Well, Stephen Baldwin spoke with Larry King last night about his brother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN BALDWIN, ALEC BALDWIN'S BROTHER: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that he made a bad choice. I mean, that's obvious. But people in every walk of life around the world make similar ones every single day. Unfortunately, this is taken on the tone that it has, and it's been blown into the proportion that it has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And CNN's Brooke Anderson has been following all the back and forth between this, because there is a lot of fallout from the release of this.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A lot of fallout. And people are wondering, who did release the tape. You know, at first people were very concerned about the words that he spoke. Oh, it's unforgivable, it's unacceptable, he should lose visitation rights, which he did, temporarily, pending a May 4th custody hearing. But now the issue is, who actually released this tape to TMZ.com? And no one knows. Alec accused Kim and he camp. Kim's spokeswoman said Kim did not release the tape.

But it begs the question then, who did? Was it someone connected to her? We asked her camp that, and they didn't respond.

It's been a contentious war of words for six years, and it's just getting uglier. There's no end in sight.

CHETRY: And so this hearing that's coming up in May, that's happening as a direct result of this tape? ANDERSON: Right, and they're both expected in court, but right now Alec cannot see the daughter. And you know, I've spoken to matrimonial lawyers and I asked, you know, what if they get a judge who says, hey, both of you are acting like children. You're both terrible. You're negatively impacting this child. What does that do then? Well, they say there's the risk they're taking that they both could lose this child, and she could end up in the custody of say a relative or something. So that would devastate both of them, because they both do say they're loving parents. And you know, Kim's spokeswoman has said everybody's been asking for so long, why has this custody battle been drawn out, and just dragging on. They say here's your answer. They say that Alec is aggressive, that's he's irrational and unstable but then on the other hand, Alec is claiming parental alienation, and he says you don't know what that is until you've gone through it, you don't know how awful it is, and he hopes no one experiences that.

CHETRY: Right. And he does have a (INAUDIBLE) in that, because Kim is facing contempt of court with that very thing.

ANDERSON: She is, was charged of contempt of court in October for apparently violating a 2004 custody agreement because Alec has claimed that Kim has blocked his visitation, not allowed him to see his daughter. So, very, very bitter, very ugly from all sides, and then you have this 11-year-old child stuck in the middle of it.

CHETRY: And as Valerie Bertinelli said, you've got to love your kid more than you hate each other.

ANDERSON: You do, that child has to be the priority, you're right.

CHETRY: Brooke Anderson, thanks for giving us insight on that -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, from a cat fight to one talented cat -- 2.6 million people saw this video of Nora, a little cat from Philadelphia who taught herself to play the piano.

Now, CNN's Jacki Schechner has got the world premier of Nora's encore performance. This is big news. This is big stuff.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is big news. We want to see whether or not she got any better. We want to give you a first look for yourself. This is the world broadcast premier of Nora the sequel. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you play some more?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Wait, wait, hold on. Wait a second.

SCHECHNER: Nora is a 3-year-old cat, adopted as a kitten, started playing at 1-year-old.

ROBERTS: Wait a minute -- was that really the cat playing?

SCHECHNER: Yes, the cat plays "Duet." As you get to the end of this video, you'll see she plays "Duet." Betsy is a music teacher, (INAUDIBLE) mother, and her parents are both artists.

There you go.

So, Nora is being raised in a musical home. She plays with Betsy. She plays she plays with Betsy's students.

ROBERTS: She is good at playing a C, D combination.

SCHECHNER: It seems she prefers the high register, but is now starting to experiment with other ranges. So interesting. They say the only time that she purrs is when she plays. And when you get it watch this video on YouTube starting at 9:00 a.m. this morning, if you check out the very top of that video, you will hear her purring. She gets very excited.

Now we did find other cats playing the piano on YouTube, but Nora seems to be the most prolific, and she's one of six cats, John, and they say they can't teach the others to play. Nora really taught herself.

ROBERTS: I love the way her mom says you want to play and the cat goes -- that's incredible.

SCHECHNER: My favorite part of the whole video.

ROBERTS: That's going to be the most played video on CNN all day today.

SCHECHNER: I'm hoping.

ROBERTS: Thanks for bringing us that world premier, Jacki.

SCHECHNER: I'm a cat person, what are you going to do.

ROBERTS: Uh-oh, I'm a dog person. We've got a problem here.

Here's a quick look at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM." A tornado slams a Texas border town. Six people are killed.

Former Presidents Clinton and Bush attend the funeral for Boris Yeltsin. The first democratically elected Russian president died Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a very nice Chinese man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: A racially charged prank call gets two CBS shock jocks yanked off the air.

And the suspect who didn't want to wait for justice. "NEWSROOM," top of the hour on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back.

Now to a story we first told you about yesterday. We showed you the video, a little boy in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was very hard to see 4-year-old Caden Thomas on the sidelines for a Colorado State University spring practice game. Player caught a touchdown pass, fell out of bounds and right on to Caden.

After about 30 stitches, though, he is OK. He joins us now with his father Mike and his mother, Holly.

Thanks to all of for being here with us.

Thanks for being here, Caden.

HOLLY THOMAS, CADEN'S MOTHER: Can you say thank you?

CADEN THOMAS: Thank you.

CHETRY: First of all, Mike, our hearts went out when you saw you out there. You were laying down and you were cupping your head in your hands. What were you saying it him?

MIKE THOMAS, CADEN'S FATHER: Well, I was just trying to calm him down. He was, obviously, upset and he was very worried about all the blood, and so we're just trying to calm down and take deep breaths and do a little bit of a neurological assessment real quick. I'm a physician in the area, and I just wanted to make sure that there was no serious damage, and he responded real well. He wanted to go home.

CHETRY: He didn't want to go to the hospital.

M. THOMAS: No.

CHETRY: Thirty stitches later, and how was that?

M. THOMAS: Well, we called a friend of ours, a plastic surgeon, Jeff Chapman, who came in, and he was very kind to take his Saturday and put our little boy back together again.

CHETRY: And as a mom, Holly, when did you hear about it, that this happened?

H. THOMAS: I was sitting in the stands, I saw the commotion and I saw my husband go down, and so I knew it was one of the two little boys that we have. I ran down there and I saw blood, and all I kept thinking was head wounds are bleeders, head wounds are bleeders, this may not be as bad, but there was blood everywhere, and the gash was horrible.

It helped when -- we went through the whole day not knowing that scenario. So it helped to watch the footage, not really, but to see how it happened. But it explained the wound.

CHETRY: And also the fact that he had no other -- you were worried about paralysis at the time. He had nothing else wrong with him, thank God. What did the player say to you, because I understand he has a baby as well; he has a 2-year-old.

M. THOMAS: Well, when you see him laying on the ground afterward, you would thought that he was injured; he wasn't. He was just trying to deal with the fact at what had happened, because he has a small child himself, a little girl. And we have a lot of respect for George. It was obvious that he played a large role in keeping him from getting injured further by some things he did in a split second.

CHETRY: Yes, he said that he looked up, saw him, and he tried to get himself to drop instead of continuing forward.

Are you mad at him that he bumped in to you?

M. THOMAS: Say, no, he's my bud.

CHETRY: Are you going to play football when you grow up, Caden? Want to be a quarterback?

Does he play football?

(CROSSTALK)

M. THOMAS: He plays them all. He just hasn't chosen yet.

CHETRY: By the way, we want to thank you guys for coming. You have five other children, as well. So busy lives. You guys say you don't work out. Running after them keeps you skinny. And I'm sure worrying about them after what we saw yesterday.

Are you ever going to be back out on the sidelines?

H. THOMAS: Oh yes, absolutely. My cousin plays for CSU, so we'll be there. We'll be watching.

CHETRY: All right, well, we want to thank all of you for being with us.

He -- George gave Caden this jersey, by the way, and you can wear it with pride, because you're just as tough as any of the other players. You sure did. You were...

M. THOMAS: George should have given him a helmet.

CHETRY: Very true. Thanks so much for being with us, Mike, Holly and Caden.

Nice meeting you, sweetie.

All right, that does it here for us here on AMERICAN MORNING.

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