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CNN NEWSROOM

Heavy Storms in California; Prepping for the New Hampshire Primary; Is Cloned Food Safe?

Aired January 5, 2008 - 12:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to pick up on your coverage of the levee break in California and we may bet a resident on the line, here pretty soon, who's personally impacted by that. Denny Berry, I believe, is on the line with us as we get started. Have a great day. Have a great Saturday, guys.
There are people, we understand, stranded on the roofs of their homes, and Denny Berry is a resident of this area that is impacted by this levee break.

Denny, if you would, first of all, how are you? How are you doing right now? How's your family?

VOICE OF DENNY BERRY, TRAPPED FERNLEY RESIDENT: Oh, we're in good shape.

HARRIS: You're in good shape? All right, if you would, sort of take us back and describe the situation as you found it this morning and where you stand with things right now.

BERRY: Well, this morning my wife up to go to work, came home and said I can't get across. Went to take a look and agreed that she shouldn't attempt to cross.

HARRIS: Yeah.

BERRY: And we've been kind of hanging out ever since.

HARRIS: How bad is the water? We understand that in some places you're talking about three to four feet of standing water. Are we talking about water in your home, right now?

BERRY: No. Where we're at, we're on high ground.

HARRIS: You're on high ground. Good.

BERRY: We're nowhere in any fear of being flooded, right now.

HARRIS: OK.

BERRY: The flooring's about 1/4 mile down the street.

HARRIS: So, do you have friends, acquaintances in that area that have been giving you a bit of an assessment of what it's like in their area right now? BERRY: Yes, I've got friends of mine that live a couple miles from here. They're on high ground, as well. A couple of his friends have flooded and been affected, two to three feet of water, standing water in their homes. We're -- but where we're at, we're fine. It's going downhill. It broke -- I don't know where it broke.

HARRIS: OK.

BERRY: I can't get past the water to see anything else.

HARRIS: A little disconcerting not to be able to come and go as you please and not being able to get out of the situation?

BERRY: Yes.

HARRIS: Yeah, to say the least, huh?

BERRY: Yeah, but we're well stocked. We got power, we got water, we got food. We're good.

HARRIS: OK. Well, we were really very concerned about you and many others in that area when we heard news of the levee break, because we just didn't know, but it sounds like you're in good shape, at the least right now.

BERRY: We're in good shape. I just took a few more shots. It actually looks like it's receding a little bit. Unconfirmed, you know, that's just my opinion.

HARRIS: Yeah, yeah, well, that's good news. I know that there are all kinds of resources available to you if you need to get out. There are buses that have been mobilized and the Fallon Naval Air Station is close by, so you've got helicopter support, if you need that, as well. But it sounds like, at least for right now, you're in decent shape.

BERRY: Yeah, we're safe. We're in good shape.

HARRIS: OK, Denny, thank you for the time. Thanks for the pictures, as well.

BERRY: You bet.

HARRIS: Let's get to Brad Huffines, now, in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

And Brad, if you would, sort of context this picture, this story that we're telling.

BRAD HUFFINES, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Tony, remember, first off, that water temperature is likely between about 35 and 45 degrees. Because of the fact that the water that runs through these canals is anywhere, especially the waters in the rivers this time of year, run about 40, 45 degrees. And of course, what happens -- let me show you, kind of set the scene for you, here. Pyramid Lake here, the Truckee River runs just to the west of Fernley, Nevada, and heads on into California.

Now, here is where Fernley is. And as I show you a close-up view of the canal itself, that's the canal. The levee breach was somewhere along that canal, a 150-foot breach, that this water -- again, the water temperature likely between about 40, 45 degrees -- began to run in and flood many of these homes.

I hate to say that, I hate to use the word Katrina, but somewhat Katrinaesque in the fact that it was caused by what could be possibly called an engineering disaster, based upon the rainfall that fell yesterday, about 1-1/4 inches of rain falling across northern Lyon County, Nevada. About 1-1/4 inches of rain, here. A flash flood warning still in effect for northern portions of Lyon County.

The good news is it's not raining now. The bad news is we still have a winter storm warning because of additional snowfall possible from Truckee through Reno, Nevada, up and down I-80. I-80 is still closed across parts of eastern California, west of the Nevada Blind, right there, this is Nevada, this is California, I-80 closed right there as the snow continues to fall and the effects of the high- elevation snows, the highest mountain peaks from Lake Tahoe down south towards Mammoth, highest mountain peaks between eight and 10-feet of snow possible. Looking at some of the automated snowfall amount reports, this morning, several reports of four to five feet. That's just common amounts of snow.

Meanwhile, southern California, the rains continue to move ashore. About two to four inches of coastal and valley rains, five to 10-inch rainfall totals by midnight today across the highest elevations of Los Angeles county, towards San Diego, as well. And that will then, likely, soak in and cause mudslides because of the fact that the land was scorched by the fires earlier.

Right now, though, Doppler radar showing more rain showers offshore about to move onshore across parts of southern California. Lots to watch out in the West, and of course, we'll be on top of it right here in the weather department at CNN.

HARRIS: Well, Brad, it sounds like if -- sounds like the situation, at least, where Denny Berry is, is OK for now, but it sounds like there is still plenty of trouble out there potentially to look out for. Is that about right?

HUFFINES: Yeah. What's happening now is they're on the rain shadow part of the mountain, when the winds, across the mountain range from west to east, when you go on the eastern side of these mountains, you get on a rain shadow, so good the news is they only saw 1-1/4 inches of rain, while there are record rainfall amounts on the other side of the mountains, in parts of the Sierra, Nevada, eight to 10 inches of water, rainfall water falling. And of course, those 100 inches of snow reported in some areas, that's also equivalent to about ten inches of rain.

By the way, more rain as well, southern California, as far south as San Diego. And again, you cross those mountains, it's drier, but where you have desert communities -- and Fernley is very much a desert community -- an inch and a half of rain can cause as much flooding as some of the mountain passes that are used to five to six inches of rain.

HARRIS: OK, Brad, appreciate it and keep us posted if you get anything new. Just give us a shout and we'll get right back to you.

HUFFINES: Will do, Tony.

HARRIS: Susan Roesgen is on her way to the Fernley neighborhoods to check in on folks there and just see the sight and scene for herself. Susan is on the phone with us.

And Susan, if you would, what are you hearing about conditions there in those Fernley neighborhoods?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, what I'm hearing from state troopers, in the area, is that it may not be as bad as we first thought. Certainly, we've all seen the i-Report pictures, and if you're a homeowner and you've got two or three feet of standing water in your house, that's a mess, that makes for a really yucky cleanup, it will ruin your carpets and ruin a lot of other things. We all know that.

But what I have been told is that it is only a 30-foot section of the levee. The levee, the canal itself is 150-feet wide, but the section that broke was only 30-feet, and that canal is only 8-feet deep. What I was told by trooper Chuck Simon, in the area, is that it's just standing water now in homes, there is no rising water.

There is no evacuation, per se. I think the word evacuation brings to mind images of people being carried away. Nothing like that, they are assisting homeowners, those who want to leave, who want to get some dry shoes and get to an area where they can walk around comfortably and use the facilities, are being bussed to a high school until the homes can be dried out, pumped out.

But apparently, this is not a rescue situation. No rescues from rooftops or anybody in immediate danger. I can also tell you, Tony, that they really don't know yet what caused this. Certainly, a lot of water coming through, this was a significant rainfall, more than they expected. We can assume that might have been what led to the cause of the breach, but they don't know the cause yet, they don't know what caused the breach. But, the Corps of Engineers is there now, doing an assessment -- Tony.

HARRIS: Well Susan, this is really encouraging, because I guess about an hour or so ago we had real concerns about these neighborhoods, as many as 800 homes, we were hearing, were impacted, three feet or more in some places of standing water. And it sounds like the people of that county, law enforcement really mobilized with buses and I think they even opened up a high school to make it available for folks who had to get out of their homes and stories of folks possibly being on their rooftops, it sounds like this is a much more encouraging assessment, right now.

ROESGEN: I think it is as well. And I have also heard, by the way, from the trooper I spoke to, that perhaps only 100, not 800 homes seriously affected.

HARRIS: Great.

ROESGEN: Of course, some may change, and you know, when you look at what looks like a lake of water with houses sticking out of it, you know, it's kind of hard to make that assessment, but I think you're right, Tony, this is not a life-threatening situation. This is probably a big mess.

And I think probably the reason they were so quick to mobilize is because (INAUDIBLE) area to Truckee, California, down to the other side of Interstate 80, on into the San Francisco side of California, they were all prepared for this major winter blast in some form or fashion. I don't think anyone was expecting or wanted to hear of a levee breached, but that's apparently what they've got, but again, the water is not rising.

HARRIS: Good.

ROESGEN: It's standing in homes and it's a big mess, but apparently not much more than that.

HARRIS: Well, that's good. We've been most appreciative of the i-Reporters for sending in the photos. Can't wait to see your pictures when you get here. Susan, appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

ROESGEN: You're quite welcome.

HARRIS: You know, it has been one thing after another -- shifting focus just a bit for the folks in Malibu. A few weeks ago the California beach community was hit with wildfires. Now the threat is mudslides powerful enough to topple homes. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is in Malibu.

Kara, great to see you. What's the latest? What's the view from Malibu?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, rain a concern for communities all across southern California. We want to take you right now to Chino. We have some video coming in of a swift water rescue operation that's underway as we speak. Emergency officials there tell us that a man and a woman were driving down the street and came to an area where the water had actually washed over the road and we're told the floodwaters carried their car for about a half a mile.

Now at one point, we understand, the woman was on the phone with rescue officials trying to get help. They lost contact with her. They have been able to find the man, they say he was clinging to a tree and you can see in some of these dramatic pictures that they actually just plucked him out of that tree. The woman, though, they have not been able to find in that rescue operation continues, right now.

Now, back here live where we are, about 15 miles away from that in Malibu, you can see some of this dirty rainwater coming out of the hillsides, the Malibu hillsides just above us, and rushing through what is normally a dry creek bed. The concern here is the potential for a major mudslide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ST. CLAIR, MALIBU RESIDENT: Up the canyon coming down corral was a wall of flames.

FINNSTROM (voice over): John St. Clair watched one of last month's fire monsters ravage his neighborhood.

ST. CLAIR: There was eight homes and mine was the only one that made it.

FINNSTROM: Now his family is dealing with the treacherous aftermath, potential flooding and mudslides.

ST. CLAIR: We still have debris in these two lots and I don't know if that's going to come down or not.

FINNSTROM: St. Clair is using sandbags, bricks and gutters to divert rushing rainwater away from his home.

ST. CLAIR: This one here, do we need a little bit more to build it up more?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

ST. CLAIR: All right.

FINNSTROM: But he realizes this will be useless if the earth gives way.

SUSAN CANNON, USGS: Sandbags and measures to that point can work for very small events, but given the forecast for rainfall for this weekend and what our modeling is showing is that a sandbag wall would not be very effective.

FINNSTROM: Experts with the U.S. Geological Survey are studying all California burn areas. They warn those affected in Malibu that a 1/2 inch of rain within 30 minutes puts them at risk for mud and debris flows and says there's no way to predict how minor or major such events might be.

LUCY JONES, USGS: Mini vans get picked up, cars get picked up and carried with this and they can travel up to 35 miles-an-hour. So, they are one of the most deadly phenomenon that we have seen in southern California.

FINNSTROM: Emergency officials further south, in Orange County, issued evacuation orders Friday, but many residents say they won't go. Back in Malibu, John St. Clair's wife and children will stay in a hotel during this storm. He'll once again try to protect their home against nature's fury.

ST. CLAIR: I think we'll be OK if we can just make it through this year. I think we'll be fine.

What do you think, Nicholas?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FINNSTROM: And Tony, the good news is that the rain here has let up this morning. Actually, the creek behind us we've watched drop a little bit, but there is another heavy band of rain that forecasters say may be on the way. So, emergency officials say today will just be a day of watching and waiting.

HARRIS: Yeah. Sounds like it. All right, Kara, good to see you. Kara Finnstrom for us in Malibu.

Let's talk politics. The first primary, three days to go. The presidential wannabes buzzing in New Hampshire like honeybees today. Let's speed that up.

Hit the campaign trail with us, next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Iowa's winners are looking for momentum, while there is no time for losers to lick their wounds. New Hampshire's primary is just three days away, and they all know New Hampshire is not Iowa. The presidential candidates regroup in Manchester tonight for debates, but before they meet face to face, most of the candidates are busy getting in face time with the voters. CNN's best political team on television is on top of all of it. Dan Lothian is on the trail in Manchester.

Dan, good to see you. Set the scene for us, if you would from Manchester. And I know you're following the Dems for us, today.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: That's right. And you talked about how those with momentum here are trying to build on that momentum. Certainly, that's Barack Obama, who had that win in Iowa, and he's trying to build on that here in New Hampshire and he continues with his theme of change and trying to reach out to those younger voters and we've seen a little sort of tweak in the message of Senator Hillary Clinton, who saw the success that brought Barack Obama in Iowa.

She also would see that her messages, her campaign stops, she's reaching out to younger people, giving them a reason to vote for her. And her theme simply is that she has the experience, and taking a shot at Barack Obama and saying that she's the one to take on the Republicans, she is the one who could be president on day one to address all the problems that America currently faces.

Here's what she had to say about that this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a war to end in Iraq. We've got a war to resolve in Afghanistan, we've got 47 million uninsured Americans, we have an economy that is faltering and I don't know what the economists are going to say, but I think it's slipping into a recession, and we've got to take action now.

We've got an energy crisis with $100 a barrel oil that is contributing to the economic challenges we face, and then we've got to be absolutely committed to repairing the damage that has been done by the Bush administration around the world and here at home. So, there is a lot to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Now, Barack Obama has been preparing his audiences for that negative criticism. At his stop this morning, he was saying you'll hear a lot of things out there said about me, about my experience, not having enough experience to be president of the United States, and is essentially telling his supporters and anyone out there who is still sort of undecided, not to believe any of that criticism. He says that he is the candidate of change and that he is the one who is prepared and ready to be the president of the United States.

Here's what he said at that campaign stop this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: New Hampshire, our moment is now to say to the world that we want to work with them. That's the chance we have in a few days time. And I'm running for president not because of long-held ambitions. I know that people have been going through my kindergarten papers, that's not why I'm running. It's not because I think it's somehow my turn. It's because of what Dr. King called the "fierce urgency of now."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Of course, the Democratic candidates are preparing for that debate. They'll take some down time this afternoon, but certainly, they're all there trying get the message out, trying to reach out to those Independent, undecided voters with just days to go before the primary, here in New Hampshire -- Tony.

HARRIS: Absolutely. Dan Lothian following the Democratic presidential contenders in Manchester for us. Dan, great to see you, thank you.

A Republican, Mitt Romney, invited voters in Derry, New Hampshire, to ask Mitt anything, and they did, asking for answers on taxes. And another big concern for GOP supporters, immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ...how many people do you think want to immigrate to the United States of America in the world? No, from the world. A billion? More than a billion. There was a survey done in Columbia, that I heard about, where as many as 60 percent of the people of Colombia, if they could come to America, would say they would. Now, we simply cannot take all the people in the world that want to come to America. We just can't do it. And so we have to have a process to say who we can bring in. Legal immigration is the great source of vitality and opportunity for this country, always has been. We welcome legal immigration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Mitt Romney working hard to connect in New Hampshire after playing second fiddle to Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

An energized Huckabee, today, getting popular support from tough- guy actor Chuck Norris. Our Dana Bash is following his campaign in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Dana, great to see you.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You too, Tony.

Well, this is the second event, the second time that Mike Huckabee met with supporters -- or I should say met with voters here in New Hampshire since that big Iowa win. But, he realizes that he is not likely to do as well, here in New Hampshire, as he did in Iowa. It's a very different kind of electorate, not really conducive to the kind of -- the thing that really got him so many votes in Iowa, and that is, of course, his staunch opposition to abortion and his stance on social issues.

He realizes -- in fact, I came on the plane overnight with Mike Huckabee, and here to New Hampshire two nights ago now -- he realizes that the man who's actually speaking about an hour away from here now, John McCain -- Huckabee says he actually thinks that John McCain is very likely to do well here in New Hampshire and perhaps even win New Hampshire.

The two of them, I think, you've sort of seen almost a love fest going on between the two of them over the past several weeks, essentially they do like each other, but they also have a common rival, a common enemy in this, and that is Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney, of course, Mike Huckabee was able to beat in Iowa, but now the question is whether or not Mitt Romney is going to do well here. Now, I mentioned Mike Huckabee essentially trying to appeal to a different kind of Republican electorate in New Hampshire. It has been fascinating, Tony, to see how Mike Huckabee has really changed his stump speech over the course of the past couple of days, because he realizes he is speaking to Republicans here who aren't necessarily thinking about their opposition to abortion or about their religion at sort of the top of the list.

They are thinking about other things, thinking about the fact that they want lower taxes, here in New Hampshire, and they're also -- he's also trying to appeal to that live free or die mentality that really makes New Hampshire unique, and that was the message that he sent here in this high school cafeteria.

It was really a charity event, but he tried to tie what goes on with charity to the whole idea of getting government out of Americans' lives, that really went well here in New Hampshire. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are called upon in this country to write our own names on the future. By writing our names on checks and making it so that when we see hungry people, we feed them. When we see people without clothes, we put something on them. And I personally believe that the best way for that to happen is if long before the government ever gets involved, we take care of it at the family level, in the neighborhood level, at our church level.

And if we did that, we wouldn't need the government getting involved in those things, because let's remember -- at any time the government gives something to us, they first have to take something from us. And it's a lot more efficient when we do it ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now there you heard him making an appeal against that live free or die sensibility, here in New Hampshire, and that really plays well with New Hampshire Republicans. Now, the other thing that is really fascinating to watch about Mike Huckabee that he did in Iowa, but he is doing so far at every stop here in New Hampshire, is he brings along with him somebody who draws a crowd, and that is Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris spoke -- actually, quite interesting, Mike Huckabee introduced Chuck Norris, opposed to what usually goes on, that somebody who a candidate brings along introduces them. I talked to several people in the crowd here, they really did, many people come to see Chuck Norris and certainly wanted to hear what Mike Huckabee had to say to that, is a tactic, one of the many tactics that Mike Huckabee's unconventional campaign is using in order to draw crowds without a lot of money, in order to draw media without a lot of money.

In fact, it's really fascinating that Mike Huckabee, essentially, they understand in his campaign that he is not expected to do as well here as he probably will in the next presidential contest of South Carolina, but the reason they're staying here is because there are a couple of debates and because, Tony, we're here. We're the National Press Corp and they have been relying on a lot on free media, and you know what? They're getting it here in New Hampshire in a way they wouldn't if they went on to South Carolina.

HARRIS: And I got to tell you, I don't know what Chuck Norris is doing in his talk to sort of flesh out Mike Huckabee on the positions, but he seems to be really enjoying himself and enjoying this spotlight that he's been given by virtue of his endorsement of Mike Huckabee.

BASH: Oh, he definitely is. And you know, it's interesting. He said just here, you know, he sort of found Mike Huckabee and got interested in him, and was watching him on television. Looked at him on the Web site and he started writing in his own blog about Mike Huckabee and that's how the two of them got hooked up. But, you know, I was just talking to one of Mike Huckabee's senior advisers and he said you know, you've got to realize, Chuck Norris reaches a billion people, you know, around the world that some people don't realize how incredibly popular he is, and it's a tactic and a tool that they had used and continue to use again in a campaign that doesn't really have a lot of financial tactics that they can use to get Mike Huckabee to get crowds to Mike Huckabee and get his message out. Chuck Norris certainly helps.

HARRIS: And their ads together. Let's face it, they're entertaining. Dana Bash for us in Londonderry, New Hampshire, following the GOP contenders. Dana, great to see you, thanks.

BASH: Thank you.

HARRIS: And CNN's ballot bowl is back. We're doing it again this afternoon. It is all about the candidates in their own words. Our "Ballot Bowl" kicks off at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Food fight! And here's the beef -- are you ready to put cloned meat and milk on the table? It is Saturday, January 5, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know that milk you put on your bowl of cereal in the morning could soon some from cloned cows. So, could the hamburger that you have for lunch. How do you feel about that? I guess the question is, are they safe? At least one of them.

CNN's Brian Todd looks at questions now, at the center of a major food fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Warnings from Congress and consumer groups -- the agency that's supposed to protect your food supply may soon clear the way for meat and milk from cloned animals to make it to your table, some say without testing it enough.

JAYDEE HANSON, CTR FOR FOOD SAFETY: The concern is that the FDA might rush approval and not do the studies that Congress is asking them to do.

TODD: A Senate source tells CNN the Food and Drug Administration is just days away from declaring meat and milk from cloned animals safe.

(on camera): The FDA wouldn't comment on that on or off camera with us but did say it is finalizing its own risk assessment. More than a year ago, a draft of that assessment concluded those products are safe.

(voice-over): What are the health risks?

HANSON: We don't actually know, but we know the studies that the FDA has relied on so far can't tell you that. I suspect that it'll probably taste quite similar, but that doesn't mean that there are no changes in the milk and that there are no changes in the meat that we need to be worried about.

TODD: In a December 2006 press release, the FDA says their assessment that those meat and dairy products would be safe was peer reviewed by a group of independent, scientific experts.

HANSON: There's only three peer reviewed studies. The so-called peer review that the FDA did of its own risk assessment, two of the three people own patents on different parts of cloning process.

TODD: No comment from the FDA to that, but a representative for cloning companies says the FDA's done years of very credible testing. As for the nutrition of food from cloned animals ...

JEFF JOSEPH, BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION: It gives producers more control over the type of animals that are bred, so that theoretically, some producers could have a better tasting and better quality steak with less fat. So in that sense, it could be more helpful.

TODD: But consumer groups have another big complaint, that the FDA won't require labelling of meat and milk from clones, so we'll never know if what we're buying is from those animals or not. The FDA wouldn't respond to that, but the spokesman for the cloning industry says because cloned animal products will be so similar to those from naturally bred animals, we won't need labels.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Guess who's coming to dinner? Well, it's more than a classic movie for one New Hampshire woman who had two would-be presidents break bread at her table. So why is she still undecided? I'll ask her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK, here we go! Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM, just past 12:30 in the east, 9:30 a.m. in the west. Good morning. Good day, everyone.

Here's what's happening across the nation right now. Outside Reno, Nevada, thousands of people chased from their homes after a levee burst today. Three feet of standing water in as many as 100 -- maybe a little more than 100 homes right now.

Our Susan Roesgen is fast approaching that scene now. Fernley neighborhoods threatened right now.

And Susan, I know you have a bit of an update for us.

ROESGEN: Yes, I do, Tony. We just spoke to Leo Gurvay (ph), he's the assistant principal at Fernley High School, the high school there in Fernley, the small community -- bedroom community, really for Reno, about 35 miles east of Reno. The assistant principal says that they're using the high school as a shelter, if people need a place to go to get dry, if they've got water in their homes and they need to go someplace. They've opened up the high school for that, and they're using their eight school buses to bring people in.

He tells us that he thinks they have about 150 people there already at the shelter, at the high school, and they are expecting more. But he also says that they do expect to go ahead and have classes tomorrow. So, perhaps the situation will be taken care of later with the Corps of Engineers repairing that 30-foot break in the breach later this afternoon.

So, the assistant principal also told us, Tony, that he did recognize one of his students who got there early this morning. The breach was apparently at about 4:00 local time in the morning. One of his students said she came with her family in a boat. So, some people did get out there in boats.

But again, we've been told that right now, it's only about three feet of standing water in many of the homes along this levee, along this canal that feeds from the Truckee River.

I don't know how many people affected yet, don't know exactly how many homes, but the good news is the water is not rising. It's simply standing in people's homes. The bad news is that's an incredible mess, as you can imagine, Tony. And it's cold here, so that's just about the last thing you would want would be, you know, a flooded living room and a 32-degree temperature.

HARRIS: Yes, yes. That's not the combination you want.

Susan, appreciate it. Thanks for the update.

ROESGEN: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Basking in victory or spinning their losses, the presidential candidates set their sights on Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire. Chief national correspondent John King, part of the best political team on television, lays out the challenges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moment is his.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four days from now, New Hampshire, you have the chance to change America.

KING: So the woman who thought it her turn for the history books is urgently trying to rewrite the story line.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and I think it may take another one to clean up after the second Bush!

KING: Iowa's yearning for change sent New Hampshire a retooled Republican race, too.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm really proud of being in a state that understands a little bit about liberty and freedom.

KING: There are parallels. Like Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee is seen as new and eager to end Washington gridlock.

HUCKABEE: It's not a matter of you electing me so that somehow I become the ruler of the nation, but rather the servant of the nation.

KING: Yet, there are differences. Democrats like their choices, and with only marginal differences over Iraq, health care and the economy, Obama is thinking bigger, looking to prove a surge of new, younger voters in Iowa is no fluke.

OBAMA: I believed in the young people of America, even when everybody said that they would not participate. We talked to them about the things that they cared about.

KING: Huckabee's Iowa base was narrower, so his staying power's in question.

ANDREW SMITH, UNIV. OF NEW HAMPSHIRE SURVEY CENTER: Trying to run as a social conservative in the state with very few social conservatives is a difficult thing to do.

KING: Huckabee's challenge now is to expand his base, appealing to rural populism.

HUCKABEE: That the average American is more afraid of an audit of the IRS than he or she is of getting mugged.

KING: Rivals concede the appeal.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a likeable, decent human being, and I think Americans are attracted to that, that he's got some genuine authenticity about him.

KING: But that authenticity could be questioned here. Not once did Huckabee mention his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, staples of his Iowa speeches. For those who left Iowa teetering, the challenge is adapting quickly.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think I represent change better than other people in this contest.

KING: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's appeals to Iowa evangelicals fell flat. Getting things done is his new focus.

ROMNEY: I helped change this state and I'm going to change Washington.

KING: Romney labels the resurgent John McCain a Washington insider. McCain labels Romney desperate.

MCCAIN: All of those charges are inaccurate, just like the charges he made against Governor Huckabee and lost to him out in Iowa.

KING: Senator Clinton's fix-it strategy appears contradictory, desperate to get a second look from younger voters, especially young women.

CLINTON: I am not someone who just, you know, calls for change or demands change, but actually produces change, and I'm going to take that message to young people.

KING: Yet, she pines for Clinton nostalgia.

CLINTON: You know, in 1992 when Bill and I spent so many wonderful days here ...

KING: But that was 16 years ago, more myth than memory to many of the young voters critical to Obama's edge now. And as remarkable a comeback as it was, Bill Clinton clawed his way back to only second place here in 1992. She needs better than that, and time is short.

John King, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, you know, undecided voters will play a big role in Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries. One such voter is Erin Flanagan, a mother of three, who got to meet several of the candidates face to face. She will join us in just a couple minutes.

But first, our T.J. Holmes looks at why this election is so important to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Erin Flanagan wants what's best for her family. And in the New Hampshire primary, as an independent, she can vote with either party, and she's torn between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. The deciding factor for her, how best to end the war in Iraq for very personal reasons.

ERIN FLANAGAN, N.H. UNDECIDED VOTER: My little brother, Michael Cleary (ph), 1st Lieutenant Michael Cleary, was killed in action in Taji, Iraq.

HOLMES: She's struggling because McCain says the United States should stay in Iraq and succeed, while Obama wants to bring the troops home as soon as possible.

FLANIGAN: I don't know the best way for us to get out of the situation that we're in now. I can vote either way, and they are obviously extremely different candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Erin Flanagan, we tried to hussle her up and get her in the seat, is with us now. Erin, are you there?

FLANAGAN: Tony ...

HARRIS: Yes ...

FLANAGAN: I am here.

HARRIS: You can hear me? Are we adjusting -- we're going to make some adjustments as we talk, is that all right with you? You going to be comfortable with that?

FLANAGAN: That's fine.

HARRIS: All right, well, it's good to talk to you. Erin, great to see you ...

FLANAGAN: You too.

HARRIS: ...good to talk to you.

I have to ask you, since we all last spoke to you, I'm wondering if you still consider yourself undecided, undecided and leaning? Where are you in your process right now?

FLANAGAN: That is a wonderful question, and I promise I will have an answer on January 8th when I walk into the voting booth. Today, I'm here to talk about what it's like to be a voter in New Hampshire.

HARRIS: Well, what is it like to be a voter in New Hampshire, particularly an undecided voter who has been courted -- man, have you been courted!

FLANAGAN: It's amazing. The opportunities that I have been able to experience with my family and my children are fantastic. We have a front-row seat and it's been a long campaign. It's been going on for almost a year, and we have been lucky enough to be very engaged. And I had an opportunity to address the presidential candidates back in June. And from that moment ...

HARRIS: Oh, Erin, Erin, oh come on. Are you telling me -- we've been telling this story about how the candidates, at least a couple of them actually, you know, had a meal with you. How in the heck did that happen, and which candidates?

FLANAGAN: I have been very lucky to meet many of the candidates, which many people in New Hampshire have. As I said, we've been privy to many opportunities that people around the country have not.

HARRIS: Well, you're a small state. I mean, that helps. Come on.

FLANAGAN: Well, but it's -- we're an interested state, and we take this responsibility of a first in the nation primary very seriously, and we are inundated with information and appearances. I am in awe of all of the presidential candidates. We see their schedules published in our newspapers, and they have stamina. They are constantly going from event to event where they have to be on 100 percent at every moment.

And in my experience, every candidate that I have met has been very charismatic and smart, and I've been impressed by every single one, but it's coming down to crunch time, and I am working very hard to decide what I believe is the most important thing for me when I make my decision.

HARRIS: Yes, OK, well Erin, let's see if we can drill it down a little bit. What is most important to you? What are the issues and concerns and how -- where are you going? What are you looking at to inform your choice here?

FLANAGAN: Well, it's been an interesting process. On my way over, I'm certain that I saw thousands of signs. People were standing on every street corner. And I'm inspired by people being involved and engaged in the process in New Hampshire. It's an exciting time and people are enjoying the campaign.

For me, I'm coming to this as -- I joke -- I am the product of a mixed marriage. My mother is a liberal and my father's a conservative. So, I appreciate both sides of the coin. I am a teacher by training. I taught in an inner city school. I watched immigration firsthand. I am a stay-at-home mother by choice. I have three young children. I have many things that I range the table ...

HARRIS: Wait, wait, wait, I've got to stop you. Erin, I've got to stop you. What -- what is going to -- what are you going to see, what are you going to hear between now and Tuesday that you either haven't seen or heard up to this point that will ultimately -- you've made up your mind. Come on, come on. You've made up your mind.

FLANAGAN: Well, and indeed, I do believe that I have, but it's been a very long process. Obviously, my brother was killed in Iraq, and that ...

HARRIS: Yes.

FLANAGAN: ...Michael was, he was a gentle soul, but he stood up after September 11th when he felt it was his calling, his duty to serve his country. And obviously, that will color my vote. Michael was intelligent, smart, funny, an avid fisherman. He was so many things, but he was very proud to be an American soldier ...

HARRIS: Yes.

FLANAGAN: ...and I know the reason that I'm here today and I'm talking about how my experience has been very firsthand. I have met so many of the candidates and been able to ask them personal questions up front and I've gone to house parties where they have to field questions from all kinds of folks, and they don't know what questions coming at them. HARRIS: Well Erin, it sounds like a wonderful process for voters there in New Hampshire to get that opportunity to up close and personal meet and talk to, shake hands with and have a meal with the candidates.

And at least at this moment, it sounds like we can scratch you from the list of the undecideds. I'm not asking you to tell us who you're ultimately going to vote for, but it sounds like we can scratch you from that list -- yes or no?

FLANAGAN: Well, it ...

HARRIS: Oh, Erin!

FLANAGAN: Well, I can't commit right now. That is not to say that I won't before Tuesday.

HARRIS: Erin ...

FLANAGAN: But I have had the opportunity -- oh, are we all set?

HARRIS: Yes, we're just -- we've just run out of time, but it's great to talk to you and maybe we'll talk to you ...

FLANAGAN: Thank you so much.

HARRIS: ...after the primary on Tuesday, how's that?

FLANAGAN: Well, I'll be at the debates tonight and I'll be listening and hanging on every word.

HARRIS: Terrific.

FLANAGAN: Thanks so much.

HARRIS: OK, Erin, great to talk to you. Thanks for your time.

And a reminder now, you can hear more from the candidates throughout the day. Just click on the CNNpolitics.com to see speeches, streaming live from today's campaign events. Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton are among the first out today. Plus, tune in at CNN, oh 2:00 p.m. Eastern time today for CNN's Ballot Bowl, where you will get to see all of the candidates unfiltered.

And still to come in the NEWSROOM, in Kenya, a possible breakthrough in a political crisis there that's unleashed death and destruction. Kenya's president says he is ready to form a new national unity government. He is accused of rigging his recent re- election.

More on this story after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK, bad men wear pink. Inmates at a Texas jail getting a fashion makeover. The sheriff says it's actually reducing crime. Barry Carpenter with Texas affiliate KDAF has the blushing details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAT BURNETT, VAN ZANDT COUNTY SHERIFF: No, let's go up here.

BARRY CARPENTER, KDAF REPORTER (voice-over): Van Zandt County sheriff Pat Burnett is a badge-carrying member of the fashion police and this winter, pink is in, at least at the county jail, where cells which used to be a drab off-white have been painted pink. The sheriff loves pink for what it does. Inmates think it's a crime.

BURNETT: It's considered non-manly or feminine.

CARPENTER: And now, the jail is color-coordinated. This winter, the inmates have a new wardrobe, pink uniforms. Who knew pink could be a crime stopper?

(on camera): The power of pink appears to be working. Since the jail cells and the uniforms suddenly changed colors to pink, the jail population has gone down.

BURNETT: When we started painting the jail pink and advertising it, we were averaging 175 to 180 prisoners a day. Since we've started advertising it, it dropped to 125 to 130.

CARPENTER (voice-over): For inmate Robert Hamilton, the pink uniforms are a little too trendy, among other things.

ROBERT HAMILTON, INMATE: They make you kind of feel feminine. All the inmates -- don't none of the inmates like them, and if it's -- if they're thinking the way I'm thinking, it's going to stop me from coming back.

CARPENTER: Inmates who obey the rules are called trustees, like Glen Byers, who gets to pass time on work detail. Another good reason to be good: they don't have to wear the pink uniforms.

GLEN BYERS, INMATE: Kind of a funny looking, you know? Just a colored guys ain't used to wearing.

CARPENTER: Sheriff Burnett says the pink uniforms don't cost any more than other colors and the cells needed painting anyway. In fact, fewer prisoners will save the county money.

BURNETT: You know, $21, $22, $23 a day for a prisoner. That's a lot of tax dollars. That's also 50 people that are not committing crimes in Van Zandt County.

CARPENTER: In other words, if you can't do pink, don't do the crime.

HAMILTON: I won't be back here no more. I don't want no parts of this.

CARPENTER: In Dallas, Barry Carpenter for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: So what's a presidential campaign without a laugh track? Just in time for the first votes of 2008, look who's back yucking it up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know, the best political jokes usually come late at night, but thanks to the writers strike, this year the jokes are just plain late! But now, the wait is over.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Better late than never. Just in time for the Iowa caucuses ...

JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW" HOST: Caucus is a Greek word, which means the only day anyone pays any attention to Iowa. I believe that's the Greek ...

MOOS: Political jokes are back after two months of reruns that left fans adrift.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How am I supposed to know what's going on in the world? Seriously.

MOOS: Hillary Clinton herself introduced David Letterman.

CLINTON: Tonight, he's back. Oh well. All good things come to an end.

MOOS: And though Letterman left Hillary alone his first show back, Leno didn't.

LENO: It is so cold, Hillary Clinton can actually see Barack Obama's breath breathing down her neck. That's how ...

MOOS: Leno says he wrote his monologue himself, since his writers are still on strike. Letterman reached a separate deal with the union that enabled his writers to come back. The question is, who's writing Mike Huckabee's one-liners?

HUCKABEE: People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.

LENO: Right.

MOOS: Out on the picket line, the sign read "Hey, Huck, scabs suk!" Leno and Huck yucked it up as Leno played an old interview Huckabee did when the Arkansas governor's mansion was being renovated and the Huckabees moved into a trailer.

HUCKABEE: In fact, it's a triple-wide. It's actually large enough, we could get you and your chin in the whole thing.

MOOS: Leno also played this year's jibjab year-ender.

But we've been stalling with the real headline on the return of late-night. It's the beard!

DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE SHOW" HOST: I know what you're thinking to yourself. You're thinking, Dave looks like a missing hiker. Dave looks like a cattle-drive cook.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: General Lee!

MOOS: Conan said he was growing his in solidarity with striking writers. Conan even put his beard to music.

CONAN O'BRIEN, "LATE NIGHT" HOST (singing): ...striped beard ...

MOOS (on camera): Maybe all the presidential candidates should consider letting their beards grow until election day. Well, maybe not all of the candidates.

CLINTON: God bless you!

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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