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Bush Pushes for More Democracy in Middle East; Body of Pregnant Marine Found

Aired January 13, 2008 - 07:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CO-HOST: President Bush there wrapping up a speech in Abu Dhabi, the UAE. There -- hitting on a lot of areas and talking directly to the people of Iran, talking directly to the leaders of the Middle East, talking directly to the people of the Middle East, again, pushing the freedom agenda as it's called. He really is trying to push for more democracy in that region. I did note some strides that have been in the region, that still more work of course as the president said needs to be done.
BETTY NGUYEN, CO-HOST: Absolutely. We'll be talking a lot about that this morning. But in the meantime, good morning from the CNN Center right here in Atlanta, it is January 13th. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And I'm T. J. Holmes. So glad you can start your day here with us, coming up on 7:13 now, 4:13 p.m. actually in Abu Dhabi where President Bush just wrapped up that speech, pushing for more democracy in the Arab world. We'll have more on that in just a few minutes. Our Ed Henry is there and he'll join us there live. But we do unfortunately need to start with the case of the missing pregnant marine in North Carolina. Authorities now believe that they found the burned remains of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and also the burned remains of her unborn baby. This morning, a nationwide manhunt for the man suspected of killing Lauterbach and burying her in his own backyard. CNN's Ed Lavandera has been following this story for us from Jacksonville, North Carolina. Good morning to you, Ed, please tell us what's the latest this morning.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned T.J. they made the gruesome discovery yesterday morning as the crime scene investigators had gone to the house of the key -- of the main suspect in this case, Cesar Laurean who is still on the run. They're entering the third day of the search, a nationwide manhunt still under way to find this marine corporal. But in his backyard, authorities as you have said, they did discover the body of Lance Corporal -- Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and her unborn baby, at least, and they're sending off the body and those remains to the coroner to do the final check on determining exactly that that is Maria Lauterbach but all authorities here are convinced that is indeed the case. As we mentioned, day three of the search for Cesar Laurean, some interesting developments on that front. Authorities here yesterday said that they discovered an ATM card belonging to Maria Lauterbach somewhere in North Carolina. Now, I mentioned that because on December 24th, a man they believe is Cesar Laurean used that ATM card here in Jacksonville, North Carolina. But they just physically found the card, they still do say that they believe he is not in the state of North Carolina, so, they are urging people around the country to be on the lookout for this man. T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. And Ed, you said on the lookout there. I guess, a couple things here. Besides that card you just talked about, has there been any other word of where in the world he may be, where he may be heading and also secondly here, any word on when we might have a positive ID on body that was dug up? Of course, they believe it is in fact, Lauterbach but any word on when they will be able to make a positive ID?

LAVANDERA: The medical examiner here told us yesterday, it would probably take a couple of days, perhaps Monday or Tuesday and that they would need to use dental records to establish identification. If that didn't work, they'd have to do some DNA testing to get final confirmation. As far as where Cesar Laurean might be, he does have family in the Nevada area. Obviously, that might be a place of concern. I got the sense yesterday that they had some leads were starting to come in. But obviously, as they said, we want to stay one step ahead of them. So, they are keeping that kind of information very close to the vest here.

HOLMES: Understandably so. Ed Lavandera for us there in North Carolina, Ed, we appreciate it. And of course, we are following all the developments in this case. Coming up in the 8:00 o'clock hour: We're going to be talking with the sheriff again, who's leading this investigation. That sheriff, Ed Brown there. So, please, keep it right here with us.

On advancing freedom and democracy in the Arab Gulf states. The focus of the speech by President Bush that just wrapped up and just all minutes ago.

NGUYEN: Yes, White House correspondent, Ed Henry is traveling with the president. He joins us now live from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. And Ed, you listen to that speech just minutes ago, what stood out in your mind?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it was many of the themes that we have been hearing from President Bush before. He was trying to tie them all together. Some more tough rhetoric directed at Iran, for example, saying it's the world's leading state sponsor of terror, full of ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. That's what we've been hearing from the president before, so, I didn't really hear very much that was new. But I think what he was trying to hit the was the same themes and really talk about what he's been doing on this trip is to try and get a broader Israeli-Palestinian peace. On that he said, quote, "The talks are just beginning and our hopes are high." But he realizes there's skepticism in this region about his agenda but also about the prospects for peace. The people here in the Mid-East, all through the region and I've heard this many times before about negotiations that are closed, only to see them fall apart. So, that's why he also then interestingly directed his words to the people of the Middle East directly, saying, he wanted to talk to the Palestinian people and said what you feel is your right is within your reach. He spoke directly to the Iraqi people saying, terrorists cannot prevail. Did it to the Iranian people, the Lebanese people and I think what he was trying to do was use this as a forum to trying to talk to the people directly in all these countries and say that when the U.S. is in a standoff with Iran, for example, it's not picking on the people, it's just going back and forth with the government. And he's trying to sort of inspire optimism within this region. But whether or not it really becomes a reality, whether a peace deal is sealed before Mr. Bush leaves office is still very, very far from reality at this point, Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Ed Henry joining us live from Abu Dhabi today. The site of where the president was speaking just minutes ago. Thank you, Ed. And while the president travels oversees his approval rating back home lags on negative territory. In a New CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 32 percent of respondents approve of the way the president is handling his job. That's unchanged from December. Sixty-six percent disapprove of the president's job performance and 33 percent say, they favor the war in Iraq. That is up slightly from December when 31 percent backed the war, 65 percent say, they oppose the war.

HOLMES: Folks, we've got some new revelations, some chilling revelations about the man accused of killing a Georgia hiker. His former employer says that Gary Hilton threatened to kill him and talked about the demons that haunted him.

NGUYEN: Plus: Our meteorologist, Bonnie Schneider is live with a check on this morning's weather.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Betty and T.J. WE are tracking a huge winter storm that headed to the northeast. Take a live look of New York City right now and you'll see it's the calm before the storm. Temperatures are in the mid-30s but they'll drop down to freezing tonight and we are looking for heavy snow in New York City and up towards Hartford and Boston. Your full forecast is coming up.


NGUYEN: News in politics now. And the next contest in the presidential race that is Michigan. The primary there is coming up on Tuesday. But only the Republicans are really paying attention. CNN's Mary Snow joins us from the Detroit suburb of Southfield this morning. So, what are the Republicans doing today to make sure they get the votes?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, what really is happening there is that two Republicans who are vying for top place here in Michigan`, John McCain and Mitt Romney have been canvassing the state and they are hammering a way at the theme of the economy, because Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the country. We've seen tens of thousands of jobs in the auto industry move over seas, people who've lost their jobs and that is really the message that voters here want to hear. Mitt Romney yesterday made several stops. He's making the claim that his personal experience here, he grew up here. His father was governor in the 1960s and his professional experience makes him the best candidate. He has been in business and he says his private sector years could help Michigan's economy.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I spent my life in the economy. I think it's time to have somebody as president of the United States who's actually had jobs in the private sector and knows how the economy works.


SNOW: Now his chief rival, Senator John McCain, also turning up the heat. And there have been some barbs exchanged between the two of them and Senator John McCain really targeted Mitt Romney for suggesting that those jobs that left, those manufacturing jobs could come back. Here's what John McCain had to say yesterday.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cannot look you in the eye and tell you that conditions are good here in this state. We all know what the unemployment rate is. We know that jobs have left this state. We know we've got a lot of work to do.


SNOW: And taking a jab at Mitt Romney, John McCain has been repeatedly saying that he would feel both, in his words, embarrassed and ashamed to be telling people that jobs would come back here. He's focusing on retraining workers. Mitt Romney, one of his solutions, he's calling for an increase in research in terms of government spending for advanced fuel and technology. This is the main theme. Both of these candidates will be out on the trail here in Michigan. But you know, Betty, unlike some of the other contests that we've seen, we're not seeing all of the Republican candidates canvas the state. They're pretty spread out. Fred Thompson has been concentrating on South Carolina, that's where Mike Huckabee was yesterday as well. And Rudy Giuliani has been campaigning mostly in Florida because he's concentrating on the primary there later this month. But this is a state where the race is tight and it's really -- the pressure is on Mitt Romney after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire and the pressure is on for him to win here. Betty?

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Mary Snow joining us live from a cold Michigan this morning. Thank you, Mary.

HOLMES: And of course there are only so many hands the candidates can shake in Michigan and just so many babies they can kiss. They are relying on a growing number of TV ads to do the talking for them.


ROMNEY: And we better fix Michigan and get Michigan on track.

HOLMES (voice over): Game on in Michigan after second place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney wants a win in his native state.

ROMNEY: I group up in Michigan when Michigan was the pride of America. It breaks my heart to see us in a one state recession.

HOLMES: Romney's flooding the airwaves with ads.

EVEN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: That this is all about Michigan between now and Tuesday. So, right now it's all or nothing for Romney based on his advertising buys (ph).

HOLMES: He's facing a tough fight from the man who beat him in New Hampshire, John McCain, who's now stepping up his ads as well.

ANNOUNCER, TV AD: After taking a close look the "Detroit News" and "The Free Press" both endorse John McCain for president.

HOLMES: And the winner of the Iowa caucuses, Mike Huckabee is also on the air taking shots at Romney over his corporate background.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice over): Finally, most Americans want their next president to remind them of the guy they worked with, not the guy who lay them off.

HOLMES: It's no surprise that most of the campaign commercials talk about the economy. It's the number one issue now with voters across the country and he especially in Michigan, which is facing tough times.

TRACEY: All the campaigns right now are starting to be talking about economic issues like gas prices, health care, jobs and even trade.


HOLMES: Again the Michigan primary set for Tuesday. Democrats though not really interested. Most of the Democratic contenders pulled their names off the primary ballot that was punishment for Michigan holding their primary so early. Now, just Hillary Clinton and Kucinich as well as Mike Gravel are on the ballot there. Supporters of John Edwards and Barack Obama encouraging their people to vote uncommitted.

NGUYEN: Well, the Democrats are still keeping busy. John Edwards is in South Carolina again. The native son has been spending most of his post-New Hampshire time there. Edwards won South Carolina back in 2004, if you remember. And Hillary Clinton is also in South Carolina today. She has three events in Columbia. But yesterday, she was looking for votes in Nevada. That's where Barack Obama picks up his campaigning today with another event in Las Vegas. The Nevada caucuses are on Saturday and the Democratic primary in South Carolina is a week later. You can always catch some of today's events as part of CNN's BALLOT BOWL. It is your chance to see the candidates unfiltered on the campaign trail. And we're going to be doing it every weekend through Super Tuesdays or tune in today at 1:00 p.m. eastern. HOLMES: The charred remains of an adult and unborn child found in a shallow grave and now the search for missing marine ends in the hunt for a suspected killer. We'll talk to the sheriff leading that investigation.


HOLMES: Well, some Quick Hits for you now. The most stories making news: Authorities investigate a small plane crash that killed four people in northwest Ohio. Police say the pilot was trying to land the twin engine Cessna when it crashed yesterday in a rural area. No one on the ground was hurt.

NGUYEN: In Chelton County, Alabama, parishioners of the Providence Baptist Church will have to find someplace held to hold Sunday school classes this morning. The classroom building was destroyed in a fire yesterday, but the main sanctuary was spared. The fire marshal described the blaze as a burglary arson saying items were stolen from the sanctuary.

HOLMES: And take a look, we've talked about this yesterday and we're waiting for this video to come in. Huge waves, more than four stories tall in some instances. It's the maverick surf contest that happened at just south of San Francisco. It is really considered the world super bowl of surfing. A California man actually beat out two dozen other surfers to win this thing. Thousands did show up to see this. But again the surfers only get 24 hours notice to get there and compete because they have to wait for the conditions to be just right and also Betty, the winner.

NGUYEN: Look at that. Look at that, wow!

HOLMES: The guy had to be towed out there to get to these waves.

NGUYEN: It's so far out?

HOLMES: It's so far out you just can't paddle out to them like you do when on normal surfing. But the winners actually made a deal, the finalists, that they would split the prize money. So, the winner got $30,000 and I think six semi-finalists, got 5,000 each.

NGUYEN: Is that typical of that?

HOLMES: Not really. The winner usually takes it all.

NGUYEN: Well, this is a generous winner.


NGUYEN: And for the rest of the folks in the competition.

HOLMES: Everybody got something out of it.

NGUYEN: Those waves were just beautiful. We want to take you know to Bonnie Schneider for a look at the weather tomorrow. Because you could see a big headache especially for those flying in or out of the northeast.

SCHNEIDER: That's right and we'll see strong surf here. Not as high as those waves but certainly it will take up due to the nor'easter that is working its way to the north and east. It actually hasn't even formed yet but later tonight it will. So, in advance of that, we actually have plenty of advisories posted. Some of these are heavy storm warnings, heavy snow warnings and winter weather watch. 8 inches of snow or more is expected in the Boston area. And here's what we're expecting in New York City, 4 to 8 inches of snow by Monday morning. So, I want I to show you a live picture of Central Park. The sun is coming up. It's a beautiful morning and temperatures are in the mid 30s. Now, if we could only fast forward 24 hours in advance, that whole picture will be covered with white. We are looking at measurable accumulating snowfall right in Manhattan. And you could see here on the map that we're actually expecting more snow up into Connecticut into the Hartford area. And if we head north towards the Wisterhills in Massachusetts, we can even see a foot of snow.

Here's what's happening with the storm. Tonight it will get going here just off the mid-Atlantic coast. But what will happen is as we go through the overnight period, the storm will intensify as it approaches the southeast coast of Long Island. When the nor'easter intensifies the grand strength as we get more fierce winds and heavy bands of snow, and that's when we're going to see the biggest blast of this wintry weather. So expect the snow to accumulate heavy and hard but it should all be over by noon on Monday. Just the timing couldn't be worse, Betty and T.J., right in time for the Monday rush, the Monday morning commute. Look at all the snow heading up well into Maine. And this area here in dark purple. This little line, a foot or more. So, lots of snow headed your way if you're in New England.

HOLMES: Oh, Bonnie, I got a couple of guests in town flying back to New York tomorrow.

SCHNEIDER: Some big slowdowns I'm sure.

HOLMES: So, I'm stuck with these guests?

NGUYEN: That's right.


NGUYEN: I guess everybody better pack patience then. Thank you, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Sure, they'll be happy you said that on national television.

NGUYEN: All right. We're going to move on to this story. President Bush putting the focus on freedom and democracy for Arab states in the Gulf region. The president wrapped up a speech within the past hour in Abu Dhabi. I want to get some perspective, some insight on the president's speech in his mid East mission from Jon Alterman. He is the director of Middle East programs at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington. He joins us bright and early this morning. Thanks for being with us.

JOHN ALTERMAN: Thank you, Betty.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about the president wanting to broker a peace deal. And he thinks that it is it is possible before the end of his term. Looking at today's speech and looking at the situation in the region, how do you view that?

JON ALTERMAN, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC INT'L STUDIES: It's going to be hard to get a comprehensive peace deal because it seems to me that neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a clear idea of what they want a peace deal to look like. And unless you have some sort of strategic consensus or the beginning of a strategic consensus on both sides, it's hard to have a successful negotiation to make that peace.

NGUYEN: Not only is this enormously difficult buy you know, just look at the president's time spent on the Middle East peace, at least trying to broker a Middle East peace deal. In fact, a lot of viewers may be surprised to know that this is his first trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Correct?

ALTERMAN: That's absolutely right. And one of the things that the president has done is he's held back from personal involvement in Arab-Israeli peace making until the Palestinian side came around. And his view was that as long as Palestinians are trying to engage in terror, that is not a time to negotiate. They had to be taught a lesson. What he's looking now is the fact that time is running out in his presidency. He does feel that he has in Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, two leaders who really want to make a deal. But part of the problem is one of the reasons they want to make a deal is because they are politically weak and they think a deal can help advance their political chances. What you may in fact have is they can make a deal but can't make the deal. You can have some sort of agreement but you can't have an agreement that really puts the Arab-Israeli conflict behind us.

NGUYEN: Let's move over to Iran because the President spoke briefly about Iran calling it as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. He also encouraged the people of Iran to ask its government to uphold its wishes and he didn't speak very long on this issue. Very briefly in fact. Are you surprised that the language wasn't stronger and he didn't call for more?

ALTERMAN: I wasn't surprised because the Arab Gulf countries want the U.S. to deter Iran. But a lot of them have a lot of deep misgivings about what an American attack on Iran would look like, what a military strike would do to security in the region. So, it seemed to me that he played that about the way he had to given his host's sensibilities. The interesting thing about both Iran and more broadly in the speech is I didn't sense the urgency that the President has often expressed when he talks about the Middle East. There was an urgency on democracy. There was a sense in fact in contrast to the way the President talked about democracy, not really a sense of a historic moment and instead that the tide was moving with us and the U.S. would stand by democrats. That's a change for this president. NGUYEN: But you know, the President did really play up, you know, this freedom speech. This sense of democracy and wanting it to spread to the Middle East. But when you look at Iraq and as Ed Henry pointed out as a role model for that agenda, that freedom agenda, there are a lot of questions and a lot of people looking at that, thinking I'm not sure that's the way we want to go.

ALTERMAN: We certainly hear a lot of that. But, again, I think what was so striking is he's not talking about elections now. He was talking about a need to inculcate greater tolerance in these societies. Not really a sense of near end term things the U.S. would do, would call on people to do. That's what presidential speeches often do. They often have something you should do. Something that needs to be done now. This speech was really in some ways a valedictory address about the courses said and the U.S. will be a steadfast ally for people yearning for freedom. That's a different kind of speech than we've seen this president give, certainly on that topic of Middle East democracy.

NGUYEN: Jon Alterman joining us live with some perspective on the president's speech today which was originally billed as the most important speech while he was taking this trip during that region. So, we'll see how that is viewed and the light that it has occurred just within the hour. Thank you, Jon, we appreciate your time.

ALTERMAN: Thank you, Betty. Good to see you again.

HOLMES: We have new information on the man charged with killing a Georgia hiker. Gary Hilton's former boss says he ID'd the suspected killer for police after hearing the description on CNN.

NGUYEN: And this is the place for information, you don't want to miss the CNN "Ballot Bowl." Check out the candidates unfiltered right here, starting at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.


NGUYEN: A tragic discovery in North Carolina. Authorities think they have found the remains of missing marine Maria Lauterbach and her unborn baby. Police are digging through a shallow grave in a backyard near Camp Lejeune. And when they did they recovered the burnt body of a pregnant woman. Authorities are still trying to positively identify that body.

HOLMES: In the meantime, there is a nationwide manhunt for the suspect. That suspect is 21-year-old Cesar Laurean. The same man Lauterbach accused of rape. This morning, Laurean is charged with first degree murder and an arrest warrant is out for him on that charge.

NGUYEN: In fact, we're going to be speaking with the sheriff coming up. We got all those new details and developments in this case and we're going to be speaking with Sheriff Ed Brown live in the next hour. He's going to give us some insight into this investigation and where that's going. So, you want to keep it right here on CNN. HOLMES: And now we want to turn to another tragic story out of Georgia now. The case of that murdered hiker Meredith Emerson. This morning, the man charged with killing Emerson is being investigated as a possible murder suspect in two other states. We want to get a better picture of who Gary Hilton is from CNN's Catherine Callaway. She sat down with his former boss.


JOHN TABOR, HILTON'S FORMER EMPLOYER: I just can't ever imagine that someone I knew could do be the heartless, brutal murderer that he appears to be.

CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gary Michael Hilton worked on and off for John Tabor's siding company for almost ten years. Tabor said Hilton was always an outdoorsmen and a bit eccentric but last year he noticed a change. He says Hilton became belligerent, difficult to communicate with and took large doses of prescription drugs.

TABOR: He told me he that really needed these drugs. Because if he didn't take them the demons will start to come back, something to that effect. This isn't the type of language I had heard from him before. And he just quite frankly at the point where he wasn't doing his job.

CALLAWAY: Tabor says he fired Hilton but in September he started calling demanding money.

TABOR: Basically it got to point where he threatened to kill me if I didn't give him $10,000. He says he didn't care how I got it but he wanted it and he could take half now and get the rest later. But he made no bones about it that he wanted that money or else.

CALLAWAY: Tabor filed a report with the police and began carrying a firearm for protection. He says he thought Hilton was out of his life until January 3rd while watching CNN, he heard the description of a person of interest in the case of missing hiker, Meredith Emerson.

TABOR: I put all that together and I -- my heart just sunk to my stomach. I said, oh, my god, this must be Gary Hilton.

CALLAWAY: Tabor gave authorities Hilton's vehicle description and plate number. Just hours later his cell phone rang and it was Hilton.

TABOR: He sounded more sane and rational than he had for most of the past year. He sounded clear headed and he acted as though nothing was wrong.

CALLAWAY: Tabor says he pretended there was no problem between them and told Hilton he would leave him money at his office but instead called authorities. He thinks Hilton was on the way to his office when apprehended. Tabor is haunted by the fact that Emerson was still alive when Hilton called him. But says he did everything he could to see that Hilton was caught. TABOR: I felt physically ill from the very first moment that I identified him to authorities and it seems to just get worse every day as more facts come forward. And they are discovered and the overwhelming guilt and the vicious horrible nature of the crime just makes me sick, sick to my stomach.

CALLAWAY: Tabor says Hilton worked as a telemarketer for his company. He says he was never sent to work at anyone's home for his company. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would not comment about Tabor's involvement in this case. They say they don't talk about people who give them tips. Catherine Callaway, CNN, Atlanta.

HOLMES: And Hilton is still in jail as we speak, and has not yet entered a plea. We got an extra special baptism to tell you about. The Pope himself doing the honors.

NGUYEN: And you wouldn't want to miss "Larry King Live" tonight. It is the Golden Globes like you have never seen them before. Larry will have the results live as they happen along with surprise guests. You have to see to believe "Larry King Live" tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.


HOLMES: Well, we turn to the Vatican now where 13 babies baptized this morning by Pope Benedict XVI himself. We celebrate the mass with his back to the congregation which was how it was done decades ago before the church modernized some practices. All the babies have parents who work at the Vatican. The pope predicted the parents will help their children develop faith, hope and charity.

Also, an unusual place of prayer to show you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lamb of god. Oh, lord touch Minnesota, sweet Jesus.

HOLMES: Is it a highway to heaven? Find out why this road leads some people to the bible. That's next Sunday in our "Faces of Faith" right here at 7:00 a.m. Eastern.


NGUYEN: Well, we have already seen the polls and the pundits get it wrong.

HOLMES: Pundits, polls. Not the pundits.

NGUYEN: Well, this time around, yes, they have.

HOLMES: So, what are some of the issues and questions you the voter focus on in the presidential race now.

NGUYEN: Well, Josh Levs has been checking the web site. He's been checking around doing your research. You're Mr. Reality, so what have you found?

JOSH LEVS, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this is something we talked about in the past. If the early states had gone the same way, there might be less interest. But because they went different ways and because the pundits were proven wrong, people are feeling a lot more empowered which is pretty cool. A lot more people taking an interest now in this race itself and starting to look who they might vote for. Because now we've pretty much know for a fact hat February 5th is going to matter.

I mean, Super Tuesday is going to matter, which means people all over this country, more than 20 states, your votes will matter big time. So a lot of people visiting this site, to look at specific issues where candidates stand on issues. It is packed with resources there.

For example, I pulled up taxes, just as an example here. Every candidate is listed there, including some who has dropped out. We have a summary for you of where they stand on taxes along with lots of other issues. Also, on those pages we have links to dozens of stories, written stories and video stories, which mean we're not just giving you a little sound bite summary. We're also giving you an opportunity to hear them explain why they stand where they do. It is well designed and I encourage people to check it out. I'm looking at the traffic. It is doing really well, especially in the wake of New Hampshire, where a lot of people realize this is not a done deal. The pundits can't tell you who's going to win, only can you figure it out. So, a lot of people taking a look at that.

There is also an opportunity that we have for you now. CNN has a big debate that's coming up later this month on the democratic side and our own Wolf Blitzer is inviting you to send him questions to say what you want to have asked at that debate. Visit the pages, go to cnn and you'll see the link right there at the top and people have already sent in a lot of questions. We got hundreds of responses already. I pulled out a few that we can just show you.

Let's take a look at this one. From Cherian Thomas who says, "Let the candidates ask one question to each other, also ask Obama by his experience. We need an experienced person in the White House." Now, Sharon Ray, "for Hillary Clinton: What things have you accomplished on your own, not just worked toward that you think qualify you to be president?" And then this one from Stephan Jorgensen, "All of the democratic hopefuls pledge to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. What will they say in response to conservatives who will charge the new president is "cutting and running"". So, democrats are going to face their toughest challenge yet. And they'll do that debate before the congressional black caucus. You'll be able to see it right here live January 21st at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Don't miss it.

NGUYEN: It's going to be good. I'm marching for that. Thank you, Josh.

Well, a new river of fire. Yes, lava flow from a volcano in Hawaii. HOLMES: Threatening what's left of a subdivision it has been devouring.

SCHNEIDER: I'm CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider with a look at your cold and flu report for Sunday. Well, most of the country is reporting sporadic outbreaks of the flu all the way from Maine across to the west. But we do have one state that is reporting no activity so far and that is here in Vermont. So far everyone is healthy there. Elsewhere across the country, we are getting some reports of widespread activities in areas to the west. But for the most part we don't have too many reports of that and even just local activity report in the northern tier of the country. That's a look at your cold and flu report for Sunday. I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


HOLMES: A little more news to get your day started here. We got some "Quick Hits" for you.

NGUYEN: Yes, we do. First stop, a skier was killed in an avalanche in Vail, Colorado. It took rescuers about four hours to reach him. He was buried under about seven feet of snow and a second skier managed to dig himself out and call 9/11. It happened in the same area where a snowboarder was killed last week.

HOLMES: TV viewers in Little Rock, Arkansas will be having trouble seeing one of their local stations this morning. KATV's tower collapsed Friday. Their competitors KARK and KTHV are now being investigated.

NGUYEN: Stop it.

HOLMES: No, just kidding. They're not.

What happened here is workers were installing new extension wires when it all came down. This 2,000 foot tower was the second tallest structure in the world when it was built back in 1965. And KATV is the ABC affiliate.

NGUYEN: And boy, did they come crumbling down. Look at that.

Well, the ongoing writers' strike is putting a damper on tonight's Golden Globes. You think?

The unusual award lineup is being replaced by a live one hour news conference.

HOLMES: That sounds like a blast.

NGUYEN: That's how you want to receive your award, at a news conference.

But here's the deal, Hollywood's loss is actually your gain because we have a special edition of "Larry King Live" tonight. Joining Larry for a live winners announcement plus surprise guest. I'm not allowed to mention the names here but...

HOLMES: Give me a little something, Betty.

NGUYEN: No. It would ruin the surprise. Can't do it. Wait for the king. OK. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. That you don't want to miss it.

HOLMES: All right. That's coming up tonight. But for now, in this fast moving and developing and bizarre story. The search for missing pregnant marine ends now with a gruesome find.

NGUYEN: The hunt is on for a suspected killer. We're going to talk to the man leading that investigation, Onslow County, North Carolina Sheriff Ed Brown. He is live in the NEWSROOM next hour.


NGUYEN: Well, the long arm of the lava reaching closer to some homes in Hawaii. Check this out. A new flow sprouted from the river of lava coming from the Kilauea volcano.

HOLMES: It's now threatening to destroy the remaining homes in a nearby subdivision. That subdivision has been pretty much wiped out since the volcano started erupting just over 25 years ago.

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, it is January 13th. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: I'm T.J. Holmes. We're so glad you can start your day with us. But unfortunately, we'll have to start our day approximate with this. This hunt for this marine now charged with first degree murder. The remains of a woman and fetus found in his backyard. The sheriff leading the investigation will join us live this hour.

NGUYEN: And: Extreme weather on its away. The first major storm of 2008 expected to hit the northeast today. So, how's that going to impact the start of the workweek? Better watch out. It's ahead on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HOLMES: Well, again, first up: The case of the missing pregnant marine in North Carolina. Authorities have made a gruesome discovery near Camp Lejeune. The body of a pregnant woman burned and buried. CNN's Ed Lavandera on the story for us from Jacksonville, North Carolina. Good morning for you there, Ed.

LAVANDERA: Good morning, T.J. Well, after making that discovery, authorities here in Jacksonville have issued arrest warrants for murder against Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean and they continue that manhunt for him. It was a gruesome discovery they made yesterday afternoon. The sheriff here said that many of the investigators who made that discovery in the six-inch to about a foot deep shallow grave in this backyard were traumatized by what they had seen. The sheriff talked about that a little bit yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERIFF ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: The body was much charred. It appeared that the body of the adult was lying over on the side with the face down in the bottom of the pit. As I said, the fetus was in the abdominal area of that adult. And as I have said in the release, one of the things that will probably stick with me for a long time and forever is that little hand, the way those fingers were turned that had been burned off the arm. That is bizarre, that is tragic, and it's disgusting.


LAVANDERA: So, you can imagine what many of these crime scene investigators have been going through here yesterday, and, of course, the search continues for Cesar Laurean. We were able to speak with his parents briefly by phone this and they both told us that they have no idea where he is, that they have not spoke with him. Authorities here also continue that search. There had been a few more developments in the search for him. One of the things that authorities here in north Carolina say that they have discovered an ATM card belonging to Maria Lauterbach somewhere in North Carolina. Significant because they have video of a man using that same ATM card on December 24th, that's 10 days after she had gone missing. There are some people who believe the person on that tape is Cesar Laurean. But other officials here say, they do not think that Laurean is still in North Carolina. They think he is somewhere else. T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. Ed Lavandera for us there. Ed, (INAUDIBLE) thank you so much. And we are following all the developments in this case. In just a few minutes, we will get more details from the sheriff who you just heard from that Ed report. A live interview. Stay right here.

NGUYEN: And also new this morning: President Bush putting the focus on freedom and democracy for Arab states in the Gulf region. The president wrapped up a speech last hour in Abu Dhabi. He commended some Arab countries for their progress toward democracy and he called on allies to join the U.S. in confronting Iran, quote, "Before it is too late."


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world while its own people face oppression and economic hardship at home. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group, Hezbollah. It subverts the hope for peace in other parts of the region by funding other terrorism groups like Hamas, the Palestine Islamic jihad.


NGUYEN: The president is on an eight-day visit to the Middle East.

HOLMES: We turn to some presidential politics now. Michigan primary just a couple days away. An important battle ground for the Republican front-runners but maybe no one with more at stake than native son, Mitt Romney. CNN's Mary Snow joins us now live from Southfield, Michigan. Good morning, Mary.

SNOW: Good morning, T.J. And you're right, Mitt Romney is really focusing on Michigan. You know, after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire, that has been his strategy to win those early states, so that is why this is crucial for him. He's even cut back on some of his advertising in South Carolina. But this is shaping up to be a pretty heated battle between John McCain and Mitt Romney, and we've been talking about the fact that they're really focusing on the economy but other topics have been coming up as well. Senator John McCain was out on the campaign trail yesterday, canvassing several stops in this state. And at one stop, he was talking about illegal immigration for taking some heat for this because he sponsored the Illegal Immigration Reform Bill and that would have paved the way for some illegals to eventually gain citizenship and at one point, it grew a bit contentious the a town hall meeting. Let's take a listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would secure the borders first. Then, we will move to a temporary worker program which is truly temporary with biometric type of proof documents, truly temporary, and an employment -- not now, come on. Give it a rest.


SNOW: You hear some booing there. John McCain was talking about taking a more humane approach to the millions of illegals who are currently in the country, saying an estimated 2 million who are criminals would have to leave right away but the 10 million others, he said, there have to be a humane way in order to deal with them. That is one of the topics that Mitt Romney had really been hammering away at John McCain in this presidential race. Mitt Romney yesterday also stressing the economy but he also talked about Iraq. This is one of the areas where John McCain has been gaining a lot of strength. McCain had been the sole voice in support of increasing troops and President Bush's surge. Mitt Romney was trying to make the case yesterday that he too would be in favor of leaving troops in Iraq. Here's what he had to say.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We faced challenges, of course, around the world. And I know that there certainly have been mistakes made in the conduct of the war in Iraq. They're going to be mistakes in any conflict of that nature. But this president has kept us safe these last six years. And I -- and I am not going to walk out of Iraq. I am not going to walk out of Iraq and leave behind safe havens for al Qaeda from which they could launch attacks.


SNOW: And you know, T.J., unlike some of the other contests that we've seen, we're not seeing all of the candidates canvassing Michigan. They are spread out while this contest is largely between -- for the first place, Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, we have the other candidates, Mike Huckabee. Yesterday he was in South Carolina. He had spent some time in Michigan. Fred Thompson in South Carolina and also, Rudy Giuliani in florid. So, kind of a very different way that this contest is shaping up here. T.J.?

HOLMES: You know, some people might say that's a big thing or a bad thing, that the candidates are constantly in their faces there. In Michigan, Mary Snow, thank you so much. Good to see you this morning.

NGUYEN: So, that begs the question, where are the Democrats today? Well, John Edwards in South Carolina again. The native son has been spending most of his post-New Hampshire time there. Edwards won South Carolina back in 2004, if you remember. Hillary Clinton? Also in South Carolina today. She has three events in Columbia. But yesterday, she was looking for votes in Nevada and that is where Barack Obama picks up his campaigning today, with another event in Las Vegas.

HOLMES: That's Nevada, South Carolina, Michigan, the next three contests on the campaign calendar.

NGUYEN: Busy, busy. What's really at stake for the candidates as they count down to Super Tuesday? Well, here is a CNN Fact Check.


HOLMES (voice over): Michigan's primary is January 15th, with 30 GOP delegates up for grabs. But the major Democratic hopefuls are shunning the state since it broke party rules by moving up its primary. Michigan was stripped of half of its Republican delegates and all of its Democratic ones. Democrats can vote for Senator Hillary Clinton since her name is on the ballot, but not her key rivals. Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards withdraw their names. January 19th, Nevada and South Carolina claim their time in the political spotlight. Nevada is seen as the bellwether of the west. The northern part of the state polls Republican, while the south leans Democratic. South Carolina is expected to play a pivotal role in the fortunes of the presidential hopefuls. It is the first primary in the south and the last census shows that the Palmetto State has a diverse population -- 66 percent white, 29 percent black, more than 2 percent are Hispanic. Republicans vote on the 19th, Democrats a week later. The big wild card before Super Tuesday may be Florida. Stripped of its Democratic delegates by the DNC for barging ahead for its primaries, Democratic hopefuls are boycotting Florida. But 57 GOP delegates are at stake. Numbers from the 2004 election show that more women than men vote in Florida. Nearly 70 percent of voters are white, 30 percent are black or Hispanic. A win in Florida by any candidate could be the boost need to settle the nomination in the Super Tuesday voting blitz.


HOLMES: Remember, the CNN BALLOT BOWL is back again this weekend. In fact, we'll keep bringing it to you through super duper Tuesday. It's your chance to see the candidates unfiltered on the campaign trail. Tune in today, 1:00 pm eastern.

NGUYEN: There's been another deadly avalanche in Colorado to tell you about. This one near Vail. Two skiers were caught up in the 900-foot wide slide. One was able to dig himself out and call 911. But the other died after being buried under at least seven feet of snow. It happened in the same area where a snowboarder was trapped (ph) exactly one week earlier. Heavy snow in the mountains has raised the avalanche danger in as many areas, a lot of areas throughout Colorado.

HOLMES: Bonnie Schneider, keeping an eye on things for us in the weather department. What's going on in Colorado?

SCHNEIDER: Well, right now, we're only looking at light snow falling. It's so very early in the morning there. And we'll keep the chance for the light snow in the forecast for the mountains in western Colorado and including Vail. So, it's something to keep an eye on throughout the day today. But we're not expecting a major storm today to roll through this region. There's another part of the country that's about to face a major storm and that is all the way into the northeast. A huge one. This is the first winter storm of the season for New England and originally this didn't look like much of a threat. The low pressure system looks fairly weak and maybe it's going to pass further offshore. But now, the computer models are saying, watch out. Heavy snow is headed to New England. Eight inches or more in Massachusetts. What about New York City? Looking at the picture now, no problem. The sun is shining.

We have a live picture to show of Central Park. A little bit of cloud coverage there over Central Park. But not bad, it's a fine morning in New York, but everything is going to change by the time we get to tonight. Four to eight inches of snow expected on the ground even in New York especially north and west of the city and look at this, we have winter storm warnings for heavy snow into northern Nassau County, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and will into northern New Jersey. So, this is going to be a major snowmaker for the tri- state area. Here's some low pressure system by tonight. Off the shore line of the mid-Atlantic region but as we go through tonight into tomorrow morning, what will happen is the low will intensify. It will really deepen, and when that happens, the winds pick up and slam the shoreline out of the northeast. The bursts of heavy snow occur and if air is cold enough, timing is everything. We could really start to see measurable snow, maybe even up to a foot or more, right here through Central Connecticut into Vermont and Massachusetts. So, this is a big stomp storm for a lot of places in New England. Betty, T.J.?

NGUYEN: All right, Bonnie. Thank you.

And coming up next: Sheriff Ed Brown joins us live from Jacksonville, North Carolina.

HOLMES: And he's going to be talking with us about the search for a man who's suspected in the death of marine Maria Lauterbach.

NGUYEN: But first: Here is Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a preview of today's HOUSE CALL.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. You know, a runny nose and congestion may not just be the signs of a common cold. We'll tell you why ignoring the symptoms could be deadly.

Plus: If getting in shape is on your 2008 to do list, you're not alone. But you'll be shocked how few people actually make the commitment last.

And: Going from fat to fit. An amazing transformation you won't want to miss. All that's coming up on HOUSE CALL at 8:30.


NGUYEN: It is our top story this morning. The case of a missing pregnant marine and the gruesome discovery police have made. Let's get the latest on this investigation. Joining me now is Sheriff Ed Brown. And sheriff, we do appreciate your time. I know yesterday was a very difficult and emotional day. If you would, please describe what was found in the suspect's backyard.

SHERIFF ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: Yesterday in the backyard of the suspect was uncovered the remains of -- an adult body and the remains of an infant body. That was a gruesome sight as you see. A human leg there, what represents a human in structure. Burned, charred, and imagine someone doing that to another person.

NGUYEN: I know you have said something that will stick with you for a very long time is what you saw in regards to the baby. There's been a lot of concern on the condition of the child. And you got some clarification on that yesterday.

BROWN: I got some horrible clarification, Ms. Nguyen. As a matter of fact, you put it in perspective, if you can imagine the baseball glove in the size of a little hand that is what it looks like, without the arm and stuff going with it.

NGUYEN: Oh, goodness. I have to ask you this morning about the whereabouts of the prime suspect. I know there's been a hunt for him and now, there is an arrest warrant out and murder charges. Any idea, any leads at to where Corporal Laurean is at this hour?

BROWN: Ms. Nguyen, in just a few minutes after your show, we're going to do a short update on that. And before your show is over, with I would like you to allow me to do something, please.

NGUYEN: Please do it.

BROWN: I'm going to have to read this because I want to get it right.


BROWN: Not only do I want to get it right, but I want to get it clear. And I want you this to you and all of the media that's out and listening, and all my activities of this week and all of my conduct of this week, I hope I have represented honorably my God, my family, my community, and my country. And if I have offended anyone, I apologize. I have never felt the need to defend the professionalism of this investigation. However, protecting evidence and information of an investigation is always necessary. So this -- this is not been personal. I've tried to keep it professional and in step (ph) with who I am, and that is -- I tried to live a Christian life and put that first.

NGUYEN: Well, sheriff, obviously this is taking a toll on you. I do have to ask you. What specifically has prompted you reading that statement?

BROWN: Well, I hope there has not been any misunderstanding. Because sometimes in the dialect back and forth, people think that when you get -- I know the job of the media and that is to try to get as much information as possible. But I want to give as much as I can, but sometimes I have to defend giving too much, and doing that, I have to come out of character, because it's not my character to be forceful, but to be passive and -- in doing that, I've had to be a little impassive, and I definitely don't feel that -- I know there is no anger, I know there's no animosity here and I don't believe there is because of one of the persons that I feel like I was the most direct to, him and I believe are as good friends as I've got in this county. And that's the way I feel about it.

NGUYEN: Well, sheriff, the facts are the facts, and it's our job to try to get some information obviously from you so that we can provide it to our viewers. And the question this morning is do you know where Corporal Laurean may be? Where is the search at this hour?

BROWN: Ms. Nguyen, I can't tell where you he is. But I can tell you in just a few minutes I'll be making an announcement concerning Mr. Laurean and the guys and folks here from other viewing media wants the information, and I -- I am fair with everyone, and I wouldn't want to do here what I need to do collectively.

NGUYEN: Well, let me ask you this. As that search is underway, there are a couple of things that have come to light within the past couple of days. One, let's talk about Laurean's wife. Because a lot of information came from her and there is some question as to whether she was at home and if she knew or even was a witness to the crime.

BROWN: Ms. Nguyen, this investigation didn't stop yesterday or the day before yesterday with the discovery of the body of the missing marine. This investigation will go on and on until we in answer -- if every question to make the -- to make sure we've got all of the facts in this investigation.

NGUYEN: I understand that, so -- does she know information as to, one, where Laurean is, and, two, was she possibly a witness to the crime? Because I understand she was living with Laurean and could possibly know exactly what happened.

BROWN: Ms. Nguyen, there is still the necessity for me to protect information and evidence and try to help you accomplish your reporting, however, I must also defend saying anymore than I've already said concerning the evidence and the information of where we going that we need to make this picture complete.

NGUYEN: OK. Well, let me ask you about another thing that has developed as well. We are learning than an ATM card belonging to Lauterbach was discovered, that was being used around December 24th by a man. Is that correct? And what do you know about that?

BROWN: OK. Yes, I can talk about that. The ATM was used by a male person that a warrant has been issued for the use of that card and that warrant was issued for the suspect in this case, Mr. Laurean.

NGUYEN: And that's quite a lot of questioning here too. And I know you have taken a lot of heat over the couple of days, when folks have been asking you about why wasn't an arrest warrant for Laurean issued earlier? This was the man who was accused by Lauterbach of raping her. Then, she goes missing. Why is it that just yesterday an arrest warrant was issued for it? Can you help us understand that?

BROWN: Very easily and maybe I can walk you through this process. First, we have to understand America, and that is -- because somebody has been accused or because somebody is suspected, that doesn't lay ground to arrest somebody. In order to make an arrest and you need probable cause beyond reasonable doubt -- probable cause and that probable cause was not developed until the process evolved yesterday in Mr. Hudson I think will address that with someone this morning. America needs to understand, and I think most people in America do understand that we work off the pretext that you're innocent until proven guilty. But it also works on the pretense before you go arrest somebody on a suspicion or I believe you've got to have evidence to support probable cause.

NGUYEN: All right. Sheriff, I need to ask you this because we are getting information into CNN from our correspondent on the ground that there has been a confirmed sighting of Corporal Laurean. What can you tell us about that?

BROWN: Ms. Nguyen, I just mentioned a couple minutes ago, I've got other media standing around here and on the ground is probably one of them. But I want to address it so I can address it fairly with everyone.

NGUYEN: OK. So, apparently there is news as to the question that I just asked. Hopefully, we get it in just a few minutes. Sheriff Ed Brown with Onslow County, we do appreciate your time. There's much more coming here on CNN.

BROWN: Thank you for all of the staff you have here on ground.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you. Stay with CNN. We've got much more information coming your way right after this.


NGUYEN: All right. We're continuing to follow this story of the missing marine who we have learned just as of yesterday that her remains at least, what is believed to be her remains have been found in the backyard of the suspect, the suspect -- the prime suspect in the case. And we just spoke with Sheriff Ed Brown who has been leading this investigation and he mentioned that he is going to be making an announcement momentarily and so we are waiting for that. But there is a lot of speculation, especially here at CNN, as we learned from our reporter on the ground, that there has been a confirmed sighting of Corporal Cesar Laurean who is the prime suspect in this murder investigation.

HOLMES: And here, we're watching Sheriff Ed Brown getting ready to make that statement. He has you can say, no doubt about it, he has been through it during this investigation, been questioned about his department and why Laurean wasn't kept an eye on, why he wasn't picked up. Since he was also the person that Maria Lauterbach was accusing of rape. So, when she came up missing, why he wasn't immediately considered a suspect? Why he wasn't picked up? And the sheriff has gotten a lot of tough question. We just heard from him a short time ago. Here, you talking to him, Betty, he took a moment and actually went to read a statement, almost an apology for some of his behavior, if you will, but saying I'm trying to represent my community, my city, my department, the best way I know how and you sometimes, if some of these tough question and if I step out of line and out of character, please you all, don't take it personally. I know the media has a job to do; I have a job here to do as well. But the suspect, Laurean, nationwide manhunt going on for him and now the word is, from our people on the ground that there is a confirmed sighting. He would not confirm that with us just now. He said he wanted to wait and make an official announcement. So, that is what we expect from the sheriff.

NGUYEN: And there's been a lot of questions as to whether he remained in North Carolina or if he traveled on to Nevada where he is from. And also, questions surrounding his wife, too. Because we have learned that Laurean's wife was living with him at that home where the body was found in the backyard, and she was responsible for providing information which led this investigation, not only to the body but pointing to Corporal Laurean and the question today is whether she was a witness to this alleged crime at the hands of Laurean or if she has any more information as his whereabouts. So, we're watching very closely as the sheriff is about to speak momentarily to our correspondent on the ground. And as soon as he does, we are going to take that live. But in the meantime, it was just a gruesome discovery yesterday, a female, a pregnant female and a fetus in the backyard of the prime suspect.

HOLMES: And we're watching the video on the right. That's the video and we see the sheriff, let's go ahead and listen, he appears to be ready to speak here. We'll listen in. Well, maybe he's not quite ready yet. So, again, to remind you all, there hasn't been a positive ID because the body and of course the fetus that was found on the backyard of the suspect was charred. Here, we're going to listen now, see if he's ready.