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President Bush Continues Mideast Swing; Voting Under Way in Michigan Primary; MySpace Announcing Some Big Changes in Attempt to Protect Children From Predators

Aired January 15, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Tuesday morning. Here's what's on the rundown for January 15th.
Fixing a broken economy -- job one for Michigan voters. They are making choices right now in the state's Republican presidential primary. President Bush tells the Saudis they've got the U. S. economy over a barrel. Like you, he's grumbling about surging oil prices. And blockbuster cholesterol. Cutters called into question today. Vytorin and Zetia flunk a key drug test -- in the NEWSROOM.

The presidential campaigns heat up even as the snow comes down. Voters today trudge through a blanket of snow for the Michigan primary. The Republican race too close to call between John McCain and native son Mitt Romney. Democrats have no delegates at stake in Michigan. So, they are focusing instead on Saturday's caucuses in Nevada. They'll have a televised debate this evening from Las Vegas. Michigan primary-goers are expected to vote with their wallets. The economy -- the driving issue today. Some of the top Republicans are looking to cash in. CNN's Dana Bash explains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Detroit auto show is a must-do pit stop on the road to the White House.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT: Oh, that's got to be a new model.

BASH: On the eve of the Michigan primary, the backdrop is bright, shiny new cars of the future. But the real challenge is how much GOP candidates can reassure voters here that the slumping car industry has any real future at all.

ROMNEY: I will not rest until Michigan has come back.

BASH: Mitt Romney is promoting himself as a hometown favorite. He was raised here and his father was governor. But that was 40 years ago and Romney himself was governor of Massachusetts. Listen to how he sells himself.

ROMNEY: I've got Michigan in my DNA. I've got it in my heart and I've got cars in my blood stream. BASH: Romney blames Washington regulation for auto industry troubles. Says his resume as a problem-solving CEO will help the economy here.

ROMNEY: By the way, that's what I've done all my life. I've taken on complex situations, led tough negotiations, found solutions, and then gotten things back on track.

BASH: Winning here is also crucial for John McCain. But his primary victory in New Hampshire, he could take command of the GOP race with a Michigan victory.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-ARIZONA), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT: As president of the United States, I will herald a new day for Michigan...

BASH: McCain actually won Michigan's primary when he ran for president eight years ago. But today, he may have to convince voters living with the nation's highest unemployment rate that he can get them out of this jobs mess. McCain says automotive jobs are gone. The answer is retraining workers here and pay for it by cutting pork.

MCCAIN: This bill that the president just signed that had nearly 10,000 earmarked pork barrel projects on it and take that money and give it TV's(ph) education and training programs.

BASH: On board his bus, McCain says his years of Senate committee work includes the auto industry and he scoffs at Romney's personal pitch.

MCCAIN: Governor Romney doesn't have that relationship with them. He's been gone since he was a kid.

BASH: Polls suggest the McCain-Romney battle for first. But, Mike Huckabee is also competing here -- a wild card courting evangelicals preaching populism.

MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT: One reason we've lost so many jobs, starting here, is because we have a system of taxation that penalizes productivity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH (on camera): Only Michigan votes on Tuesday, but it is still a critical test and not just for the candidates. It's a test for the economy as a campaign issue. It now tops voters' concerns nationally. So how Michigan votes in its Republican primary could determine the GOP economic message going forward. Dana Bash, CNN, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

COLLINS: Democrats look to Nevada for their next votes. The two front-runners look for a truce. CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley covering the Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama says he wants it to end.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-ILLINOIS), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT: We're all Democrats. We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights.

CROWLEY: The Clinton campaign issued a recent statement with similar sentiments. "There has been a lot of discussion and back and forth," she wrote, "much of which I know does not reflect what is in our hearts." It began a week ago when Bill Clinton seemed to belittle Barack Obama's experience and Hillary Clinton made a remark criticized by some as downplaying the role of Martin Luther King in passing civil rights legislation. By yesterday, she was accusing him of playing the race card.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NEW YORK), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT: This is an unfortunate line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully.

CROWLEY: And he returned in kind.

OBAMA: For them, somehow, to suggest that we're interjecting race as a consequence of a statement she made that we haven't commented on is pretty hard to figure out. CROWLEY: Surrogates stirred the pot. Introducing Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, the head of black entertainment television attacked Obama for allegedly questioning the civil rights credentials of the Clintons.

BOB JOHNSON, FOUNDER, BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION: Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book.

CROWLEY: Johnson said he was not talking about Obama's admitted drug use as a teen, but it is not the only thing he had to say.

JOHNSON: I mean, that kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me for a guy who says I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sydney Portier, guest who is coming to dinner.

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton said nothing. Bill Clinton, doing damage control on black talk radio for his own remarks, washed his hands of it during an interview with Roland Martin.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U. S. PRESIDENT: Bob Johnson said what he said yesterday. Nobody knew what he was going to say.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CROWLEYS: Clintonites suggested the Obama campaign was stirring the pot to undermine her considerable support among blacks. Obama supporters suggest that the Clintons were trying to draw him into a high-profile battle over race to drive down his support among white voters. Everyone thought the tit-for-tat was incredibly divisive. Message received.

SEN. CLINTON: We may differ on minor matters but when it comes to what is really important, we are family.

OBAMA: I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues. I think that they care about the African-American community.

CROWLEY: Everyone says they want to get back to issues. Candy Crowley, CNN, Las Vegas.

COLLINS: For more on the presidential candidates and their next stops go to cnnpolitics.com. It is your one-stop shop for all things political.

The face of a fugitive marine plastered on billboards across the country today. Police plan a live update soon on their search for the accused killer. CNN's Ed Lavandera has been following the story, joins us from Jacksonville, North Carolina. Ed, any good leads that you are aware of that the investigators are looking into?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last we heard, there hasn't really been that much change. It's hard to believe that, for the last five days, they have been on this nationwide manhunt for Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean. He left here, the authorities believe, around 4:00 a.m. last Friday morning and still, nothing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WBNS CORRESPONDENT: The FBI is plastering Cesar Laurean's marine portrait on highways across the country. But still, no sign of the accused killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You have any concerns or worries that perhaps he's getting help out there somewhere?

ED BROWN, SHERIFF, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: I would imagine he's getting help. I can imagine a lot of things, Ed. And I would suspect a lot of things. He's got friends out there, even though he's committed this horrible crime. He's still got friends.

WBNS CORRESPONDENT: As crime scene investigators continue looking for evidence inside Laurean's house, an ATM card belonging to Maria Lauterbach was discovered in Durham, North Carolina, about a three-hour drive from Camp Lejeune. Authorities also are looking into tips from people who say they saw Laurean's truck in the same area several days ago. Meantime, questions have emerged about the suspect's wife who shares the home where police say Laurean killed Maria Lauterbach on December 15th and then buried her in the backyard. When did Christina Laurean learn of Lauterbach's death? Sheriff Ed Brown quickly cuts off questions about this key witness.

BROWN: We are still considering Mrs. Marie, I mean, Mrs. Christina Laurean as a cooperating witness in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you thinking of charging her? BROWN: Don't ask me no more questions about it. I just answered it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: So, those questions continue. There are so many more questions still left unanswered by this. Every time we talk to the sheriff off camera over the last few days, you can really get the sense from some of these investigators that they are resigned to even more surprises in this case. Whether it be how they find Laurean. But they are still convinced they don't know all of the answers of how all of this transpired in the last few weeks. Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes, Ed, and I think your instinct is going to be right on that. Ed Lavandera for us there in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Ed, thank you, and just an update on the investigation: be reminded that we are expecting that to happen next hour. Ed Brown is talking about the very latest details in this case. We, of course, will bring that to you live just as soon as it happens.

It's dig-out day for areas of New England socked by a winter storm. Look at that. The fast-moving storm blew in yesterday morning and was gone by the afternoon. It left more than a foot of snow in some places. It meant a day off for thousands of school kids but power off for thousands of customers as well.

Travel was tricky. An interstate was shut down for a while in Portland, Maine, when two trucks collided. At a separate accident site in Maine, a woman was killed and her child injured. Jacqui Jeras is over at the severe weather center now with more on this storm. Boy, an awful lot of snow.

JACQUI JERAS, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it came down really heavy, too, -- one to two inches per hour at times. In that video we saw there out of Portland, Maine, we had a record snowfall for 24 hours yesterday of 10 1/2 inches of snow. Might sound like a lot to you, but check out what they had farther to the north in northern Maine: 16 inches in Lambert Lake. About 13, 14 inches almost in Ellsworth. Bangor, a foot of snow there and Whiting had about 12 inches of snow as well. How about Massachusetts? You had pretty incredible snowfall totals here as well. Royalston, New Hampshire, had 14 1/2 there. They can see Leverett, Massachusetts, had over a foot and Newberry Port had about 10 inches of snowfall.

All right, what's next? Well, that storm system had pulled out of there now. You can see the snow showers have come to an end but, still some action here going on across the Great Lakes. That cold air has come in behind that front and that blows over the warmer lake waters. So, we're seeing some lake effect snow showers today. You'll see it in Buffalo, toward Syracuse. The Snowfall accumulation should stay relatively light. A little bit of snow here pushing through Detroit. Snow advisory expires at the top of this next hour and we're only expecting to pick up a little light dusting on top of what you have.

But, look at the cold air which is in place. Temperatures feeling like the teens and 20s for many of you but, a big Arctic blast moving through the eastern two-thirds of the country this week. So, watch for temperatures to be much colder than they have been. Windy conditions with this storm, too. So blizzard watch has been put into effect for northwestern parts of Kansas where winds will be gusting up to 45 miles per hour, blowing that snow around. We might also have a little bit of wintry weather later this week, Wednesday night into Thursday morning across parts of the deep south. Heidi, I know you are looking forward to that.

COLLINS: Yes, I think I might actually get out one of those full-face masks that you cover up in.

JERAS: Yes, you need that once every ten years.

COLLINS: This could be the time. All right, Jacqui, we'll check back with you later on. Thank you.

Looking for a Minnesota bridge collapse clues -- an official update just a few hours away today. Already, though, reports a design flaw led to last summer's I-35 bridge accident. Investigators have been looking at the steel plates that tie the bridge beams together. Sources tell the posts of some of those plates snapped. Investigators speculate extra weight from a construction project may have weakened the plates. 13 people were killed in the collapse.

A popular prescription drug misses the mark. What does it mean for you? Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is coming up soon with answers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Rescue 911 subject has fallen into an icy lake -- a really big subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON GALLAGHER, FIREFIGHTER: We got a phone call from our dispatch saying that there was a moose trapped in the lake.

COLLINS: How the rescuers got the moose loose?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: A new study casts a shadow on a popular cholesterol drug. Millions of you take it everyday. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Warren, Michigan, this morning. Sanjay, what drug are we talking about here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about Vytorin and a lot of you are taking it or have seen the ads for it. Vytorin is a cholesterol-lowering drug that actually works in two ways -- it's a combination of Zocor and Zetia. The reason that it was so important was that Zocor, actually, is a statin drug that sort of keeps the liver from producing a lot of cholesterol and Zetia actually reduces some of the absorption of cholesterol from your gut, from the food you eat. What the studies showed was interestingly, while it reduced bad cholesterol levels by a significant amount, it did not seem to stop plaques from growing -- those artery-clogging plaques. They tested that as well. What the study found was those plaques kept growing still on this medication. Even more so than just with a statin medication alone. That's what we're talking about here.

Heidi, let me just point out a couple of things: this is a two- year study. There were 720 patients. All these patients had what is known as familial or hereditary high cholesterol -- some very high levels of cholesterol. They had all already been treated with a statin medication as well. And there was really no significant difference between Vytorin and the Staten medication. So a lot of people paying attention to this. They expected Vytorin to have a significant effect on plaque but it just doesn't seem to be there, at least, in this first study.

COLLINS: Does that mean a patient should stop taking Vytorin?

GUPTA: No, you know, I think that's not the answer. I mean, again, this is an early study. And the Vytorin did seem to reduce cholesterol levels by a significant amount. This is something you should talk to your doctor about. Possibly switching to another medication if Vytorin isn't quite doing it for you. But, you know, Heidi, taking a step back from this. What people really want to know is when I take these cholesterol-lowering medications, am I reducing my chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the future? And the answer to that question is, we don't know yet. This is a small study. It was an early study. There are many larger studies necessary to answer those questions, mostly coming down the line.

COLLINS: All right, Sanjay, very good. We will keep our eyes out for that because it is such a popular medication. CNN's senior medical analyst, contributor, and reporter and all of those things in Michigan for us today. Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

GUPTA: All right, thank you.

COLLINS: As you can see, Sanjay is in Michigan for today's primary. And the candidates take on health care, obviously, an important issue. You can see more of Sanjay's reporting on the nation's health care crisis in his one-hour special, "Broken Government -- Critical Condition." . That comes your way, Thursday, January 31st, 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Hamas vowing appropriate response after an Israeli raid left more than a dozen people dead in Gaza. CNN's Ben Wedeman is live now from our Jerusalem Bureau. Ben, how is this likely to impact efforts to move toward a peace agreement?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This raid, which began this morning and left at least 17 people dead, is going to impact fairly negatively on the negotiations. We heard the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who is from the Fatah faction which is conducting these negotiations with Israel, describing the operation in Gaza as a slaughter, as a massacre, and saying this is not going to help the process at all. And it really does become very difficult for Palestinian leaders, for negotiators to be sitting down with Israeli officials at the same time as there are these operations in Gaza.

Now, Israel says the operation was launched to put an end to the firing of rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. And they point out to another incident that happened today in which a Hamas sniper killed an Ecuadorian volunteer farm worker in a kibutz right next to Gaza. So, this situation which is always volatile is increasingly volatile as the violence in Gaza continues and the pressure mounts on Israeli leaders to launch some sort of operation to put an end to these missile attacks into Israel. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Ben Wedeman. We will be watching that situation very closely as well. Thanks so much, Ben.

Steroids in baseball: a House committee ready to hear testimony this hour. Who will be testifying? Ahead.

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COLLINS: Paying more at the pump. A surge in gas prices could be around the corner. But don't blame OPEC. The Associated Press reports a special commission will recommend a federal gasoline tax hike -- as much as 40 cents a gallon over five years. The idea? Ease congestion on the highways and repair crumbling bridges and roadways. The commission is the first to recommend broad changes after the devastating bridge collapse in Minnesota last summer.

Wildlife rescue on ice. Reporter Melissa Luck from affiliate KXLY in Washington state on how rescuers got a moose loose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED LADY: He's turning right now.

MELISSA LUCK, KXLY CORRESPONDENT: For about two hours this morning, off the north shore of Moon Lake, you could only see his huge head and paddle. But those paddles did him no good this morning.

JASON GALLAGHER, FIREFIGHTER: We got a phone call from our dispatch saying that there was a moose trapped in the lake.

LUCK: Because of that freezing water, fish and wildlife and fire district nine came to the rescue of this 3-year-old bull.

UNIDENTIFIED LADY: Dan, make a lot of noise with the canoe.

LUCK: For hours, they tried everything from nudging him with an oar to chainsaws and even sledgehammers. All the while, this moose waited calmly, at least on the surface. A few times, they got close. And in a minute, you'll see why it was so hard for this moose to pull his body out of the water. While their main goal was to free this large animal, rescuers had to be careful to make sure they didn't weaken the ice too much.

GALLAGHER: So, we wanted to make sure that it was done safely and that we didn't end up with a cold water rescue out here. LUCK: And with some coaxing, finally this moose had enough.

UNIDENTIFIED RESCUERS: Come on. Get out of the lake. Back off. Back off. Out of the way. Don't let him go back out that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It's a great story, isn't it? The rescuers, like the moose -- just to let you know -- also made it off the ice safely.

Time to look now at some of the most clicked on videos on cnn.com. If that wasn't one of them, I will be surprised. But, she calls him Mr. Wonderful -- a Pakistani heart surgeon who dated Princess Diana just months before her death talking for the first time about his relationship with the Princess of Wales. Hear what he has to say about her at CNN.com/video.

And, lost at sea, a freighter sinking off the coast of England today. The "Ice Prince" carrying 6,000 tons of timber. The crew rescued before the ship went down.

And, from Australia, cops demanding a teenager pay up after they busted his wild party. They want 18,000 bucks. More than 500 were at the party. Some of them went wild when police responded to neighbors' complaints about the noise. Police cars damaged when glass bottles were tossed at them. You can see more of the damage at cnn.com/video.

And, of course, don't forget you can take us with you anywhere you go. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast is available 24/7 at cnn.com.

Too close to call in Michigan as voters head to the polling stations. We'll check in with the McCain and Romney campaigns. Coming up right here in the NEWSROOM.

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COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

In the headlines, this hour: baseball and steroids. A House committee hearing testimony this morning -- a live picture there for you. Starting with one of the men who just named names. CNN's Brianna Keilar is in our D. C. bureau now with more on this, this morning. Brianna, who are members of Congress going to be hearing from?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They'll be hearing from George Mitchell himself who authored this report -- former Senate majority leader -- who was hired by major league baseball to carry out this review, which was very controversial and named names when it was released last month. They'll also be hearing from Bud Selig, the commissioner for major league baseball, who certainly does not escape blame in this report. And they'll also be hearing from Donald Fehr, who is the head of the players union, obviously representing the players' interests, who has said in the past this report could have damaged the reputations of players who don't deserve to have their reputations damaged. Now, a committee source tells us this is going to be a forward-looking hearing, really looking forward at the future of Major League Baseball.

And also how to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report. But also expect Fehr and Selig to really be on the hot seat because we are expecting these members to be asking some tough questions about their actions in dealing with the steroids and baseball problem or some critics would argue their inaction.

Heidi?

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes and you know, obviously, Brianna, I think everybody kind of wants to hear from Roger Clemens. When, if ever, will we be hearing from him?

KEILAR: Well, it was supposed to be tomorrow, but it's been postponed until February 13th. That's when that hearing is going to be work. We're going to hear from Clemens. His lawyer says he's going to be there without immunity, without taking the fifth amendment. Also called Andy Pettitte as well as former player Chuck Knoblauch.

And we'll also going to hear, very interesting, from two men who played a significant role in this report. Two men who claim to have either injected players with or to have been a significant source of performance-enhancing drugs. And of course, baseball fans, they're really going to pay attention to that February 13th hearing. But arguably, this hearing today, which as you can see is about to get started, is more important because this is really focusing on the future of baseball.

Members of this committee are going to be asking the question, can Major League Baseball solve the steroids problem themselves or is Congress going to have to intervene.

Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes, it's a toughie. Certainly, we're going to be following this along with many people who just plain love sports. Brianna Keilar live from Washington, D.C. Thank you, Brianna.

President Bush continues his Mid-East swing. He's talking about a subject near and dear to many Americans' hearts in the country with the world's biggest oil supplies. CNN's Hala Gorani is live from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia now.

And Hala, what is the president saying to this audience?

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a lot of pomp and circumstance, first of all, Heidi, with the president being welcomed by high-level Saudi officials. First, with a sword ceremony, then touring a museum in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he took in some of the local culture.

And as you mentioned, he spoke about oil over the last few days. We've been trying to get clarification on whether or not the president would address the issue of oil with the Saudi king at a meeting with business leaders in Riyadh just a few hours ago. This is what he had to say. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I talked to the ambassador and will again talk to his majesty tonight about the fact that oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy, and that I would hope, as OPEC considers different production levels, that they understand that if their one of the biggest consumers, its economy suffers, it will mean less purchases, less oil and gas sold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: All right. Well, this was the president saying that OPEC, the oil-producing countries, could tinker with their output levels in order to help alleviate the price of oil and help the largest economy, the United States.

But fundamentally, let's put this in historical context. When George Bush met the Saudi king the last time, oil was at $54 a barrel, Heidi. Today, it's close to $100 a barrel and very important, it is much less within Saudi Arabia's ability to influence the price of oil today than it was, say, a decade ago, because a lot of what's driving the price of oil up is political instability, including, for instance, the incident between U.S. and Iranian navy boats in the Strait of Hormuz a few days ago.

COLLINS: And in fact, the president had a comment about that on this trip, did he not?

GORANI: He did, indeed. He repeated and reiterated what he said a few days ago and he seemed emphatic about it. And I have the quote here, "If they hit one of our ships, there's going to be serious consequences and I meant it," referring to the first time he said it. Saying he's serious about making this statement. And again, we're talking oil. We're talking political instability. Those few things very much linked, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Hala Gorani, coming to us from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hala, thank you for that.

Words of praise now for Iraq coming from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she is on a quick unannounced visit to Baghdad. Rice met with the prime minister and other Iraqi leaders. She said efforts to reconcile the country's Sunnis, Shias and Kurds are moving forward quite remarkably.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF THE STATE: This is a new Iraq, a sovereign Iraq, an Iraq that will leave, we hope, after this year behind. Its past with the international community, with the bad times, then when the United Nations had to sanction Iraq for the bad behavior of the last regime. And that we can move forward to now one based on equality, respect and the sovereignty of Iraq. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Rice split off from President Bush's Mid-East tour for the Iraq visit.

Voting is under way in the Michigan primary. Now pollsters say it's essentially a two-person race. John McCain against Mitt Romney. We'll talk to the Romney campaign next hour. But first, we want to check in with McCain's campaign adviser, Frank Donatelli from Washington this morning. Thanks for being with us, Frank. If you could, define victory for the McCain campaign tonight.

FRANK DONATELLI, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think victory would mean doing as well as we could possibly do, turning out every potential voter, whether they be Republican or independent on behalf of Senator McCain. I don't know that I could make any prediction more than that, Heidi. It will be a very, very tough race tonight.

COLLINS: Yes, it will be a tough race. In fact, there have been many tough moments for many of the contenders, if you will. McCain was booed and sort of heckled this weekend when he talked about the issues of immigration reform and the temporary worker programs. In a place like Michigan, where the job cuts have been serious and prevalent, how do you think he will be received?

DONATELLI: Well, generally speaking, he's been received very, very well on the road despite the incident that you talk about. And that's because Senator McCain has always been very upbeat and he's talked about a growing economy which is the only way that Michigan and the auto industry can take its rightful place and become strong again. Low taxes, keeping spending under control, opening markets for our products in the world at large. That's the key to Michigan economic recovery, not higher taxes.

COLLINS: Yes, but I think people there are just wanting to hear, we're going to have more jobs created. We want more jobs. Is that going to do it?

DONATELLI: A growing economy creates jobs. That's correct. Now Senator McCain has gone on to propose a very innovative solution which combines unemployment insurance and retraining funds through our community colleges in Michigan and around the country, to give the skills to people that have been temporarily displaced by the auto industry slump. But again, straight talk is the important thing. Some jobs are not coming back, as he said, but there's no reason why we can't create other jobs.

COLLINS: Well, that's what I wonder, if that's really what voters want to hear particularly in Michigan, when you're talking about retraining and not bringing back those old jobs.

DONATELLI: Voters want -- our analysis is that voters want straight talk. And they don't want to be patronized. They don't want candidates to say things that they just feel like that they want to hear. And Senator McCain has always been a straight talk person. He says there are some jobs that are not coming back. But there are other jobs that can be created, that can be very good paying jobs, if we'll rework our unemployment insurance and retraining programs.

COLLINS: I notice he's using this catch phrase, straight talk, and awful lot at least here today. We have heard other words like change versus experience, and I think our people out there who wonder, is Senator McCain the candidate of change or is it experience? You know, they talk a lot about how much time he's already spent in Washington.

DONATELLI: Heidi, it's paradoxical. Senator McCain is the only candidate, I think, that has -- that can claim both. He's an agent of change because he's fought the establishment for many, many years. He's fought on behalf of political reform. He fought for a new policy in Iraq. A whole variety of things.

But he's also the candidate of experience in that he has been part of every single national security debate for the last 20 years. And when voters go to the polls, the preeminent question is, who can best protect America against Islamic terrorism. That by a mile is John McCain.

COLLINS: Well, we know what happened when they went to the polls in 2000. John McCain won in Michigan. Talk to me quickly before we let you go, Frank, about the competition. Huckabee, Giuliani.

DONATELLI: Well, they are both fine candidates. They are both very strong candidates. They are not playing in Michigan. McCain is the only candidate that's playing everywhere. And again, with respect to those two candidates, Senator McCain has the advantage in foreign policy experience by far. And that's why he's going to win.

COLLINS: We appreciate your time here today. Thanks so much, Frank Donatelli, McCain's campaign adviser. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

DONATELLI: Thank you.

COLLINS: And again, we are going to be talking to the Romney camp as well. Is today a must-win? We'll ask one of his supporters coming up next hour right here in the NEWSROOM.

We want to go ahead and check the weather situation as well. Jacqui Jeras is standing by now from -- should we call it the severe weather center today, Jacqui? It depends on where you live.

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COLLINS: MySpace announcing some big changes in an attempt to protect your children from online predators. A look at what's being done and whether it will actually make a difference. Coming up in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, let's get to the opening bell now. Actually, just a couple of minutes ago. The New York Stock Exchange yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial average closed up 171 points or so. Right now, right off the top, we are down 102 points. Resting at 12,675. Big, big story out of Citigroup. $10 billion loss they are riding. So we're going to talk with Susan Lisovicz a little bit later on at how that maybe affecting the market.

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COLLINS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern. But did you know you can take us with you anywhere you go on your iPod. Was that sound like fun. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast is available 24/7 right on your iPod.

The most popular social networking site on the web is taking a major step to protect children. Attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia are partnering with MySpace to fight predators online. Our Veronica De La Cruz has been following the story and has details on it, this morning. Sounds like a great idea, Veronica.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let me tell you more about this agreement. You know, you're right, Heidi. MySpace is a huge website. It claims to be the biggest social networking site in the world. There's about 70 million users monthly in the U.S. alone. So this is a big agreement from parties. But Heidi, there is a problem. Though the sites has some of these changes have been made, others are going to take some time to develop. The most important one being age and I.D. verification. So that is definitely a big issue.

But here are some of the changes that you might see so far. If you are under the age of 16, your profile will automatically be set to private. You can only change the age in your profile above or below the 18-year mark once. You won't be able to browse anyone under the age of 18 if you are an adult. And in terms of pictures and video, the site says anything uploaded will be reviewed. A registered sex offender database will be reviewed. So any profile that matched will be taken down and any complaints will be acknowledged within a 24-hour period.

Now, MySpace says they might also invite parents to register their child's e-mail addresses, if the information matches that database and the child won't be able to create an account.

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DICK BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Parents are the first and last line of defense. And in no way will any of these safety measures ever supplant or replace the role of a responsible parent.

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DE LA CRUZ: So again, the onus lies directly on the parent there. And the attorneys general have urged all the social networking sites to follow suit warning, that litigation is still an option.

Heidi?

COLLINS: You have 49 states attorneys' general though are involved in this. Who is the holdout and why? DE LA CRUZ: Well, Texas. Texas is the hold out. The attorney general there thinks that the agreement is simply too vague. And like I mentioned before, there's no way right now, Heidi, to verify the age and identity of the user. The technology doesn't exist right now. So, you know, anyone out there can create a profile and that really is the big problem.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Veronica De La Cruz. Thanks so much for that, Veronica. We'll be watching this one, as every parent probably will be.

And a reminder, you can also see Veronica, every morning on AMERICAN MORNING 6:00 until 9:00 Eastern.

Millions of Californians get a jump on Super Tuesday. Our results from Iowa and New Hampshire influencing their votes?

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COLLINS: Super Tuesday. It is three weeks from today. That voters in one key state aren't waiting. CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider, part of "The Best Political Team on Television."

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BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The calendar says the California primary will be on February 5th, but millions of Californians are voting now, weeks before the campaign even gets to California. California has more than 15 million registered voters. More than 40 percent of them, that's over 6 million voters, have requested absentee ballots. Those ballots started arriving in early January around the time of the Iowa caucuses. But if there's no campaign, what determines how people vote? Name recognition and momentum.

Look at the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton is in the lead. She's got name recognition and momentum coming out of New Hampshire. Barack Obama got momentum coming out of Iowa. He's second. The Republican race is up in the air. John McCain may be slightly ahead. But what you really have is four Republicans all bunched together. McCain got momentum out of New Hampshire. Mike Huckabee got momentum out of Iowa. Rudy Giuliani has high name recognition. And Mitt Romney? Second in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, he's second in California, too. The California vote is a reflection of what's happening elsewhere.

STU ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Republican voters still are looking for somebody and they haven't decided who that is. Democrats are probably pretty comfortable with the top two candidates.

SCHNEIDER: Sure enough, most California Republicans say they have not found a candidate yet. Most Democrats have. California is likely to be this year's decisive race. But it costs a lot of money to campaign there so the candidates have to rely on momentum from other states. But in this campaign, the momentum shifts every few days it seems. What about all those California voters who have already mailed in their ballots.

ROTHENBERG: A few days from now, they may actually have a -- have a different view of the candidates but they have already cast their ballots.

SCHNEIDER (on-camera): They've already voted. Tough noogies. Why didn't McCain get more bounce in California out of his New Hampshire victory? In California, Republicans have barred registered independents from voting in their primary. Bad news for McCain. But independents can vote in the Democratic primary. Good news for Obama. Bill Schneider, CNN, New York.

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COLLINS: Threat or fake? A report suggests a high seas confrontation between the U.S. and Iran was triggered by a heckler. CNN's Barbara Starr explains.

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BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A navy captain involved in last week's incident with Iranian speed boats in the Strait of Hormuz says he's convinced a threatening radio transmission was real and not a heckler. It came over an open channel monitored by all mariners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am coming to you.

CAPT. DAVID ADLER, COMMANDER OF USS PORT ROYAL: I just don't believe it was a heckler. I don't buy that. I heard it. And I just -- I don't know who is pushing that around, but I tell you, it's unrealistic.

STARR: The privately published "Navy Times" newspaper first raised the possibility it was a heckler noting that in recent years, "American ships operating in the Middle East have had to contend with a mysterious but profane voice making harassing radio calls." Adler made clear the navy was ready to fire if it came to that.

ADLER: We don't intend for someone to get to shoot us first.

STARR: When it comes to the rules of engagement, the navy warns there's no magic line in the water. Sail too close and get shot.

ADLER: Do we believe that was the guy on the radio, what's his speed, what's his closure. How many are in the boats. How many boats are there? Did I see a weapon in the boat? Can I tell if he's on the weapon? And these are all things that we're getting from multiple sources in seconds at a time. And so there is no magic anything.

STARR (on-camera): The U.S. Intelligence community is reviewing this entire incident as well as three other encounters between the U.S. Navy and the Iranians in the Persian Gulf in the last six months. Trying to determine to what extent Iran is ratcheting up the tension. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

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COLLINS: He said he wanted fries with that and he meant it.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he got angry because his order was incorrect and he rammed his car into the kiddie play area.

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COLLINS: Isn't that nice? A McDonald's customer takes drive through to the extreme.

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COLLINS: We want to get to this, some breaking news now. A story that we have been covering here. All the way back in May when there was a young woman who was reported missing while on vacation in Miami. CNN's Susan Candiotti has been following this story and has some new information today.

Susan, it sounds like there has been a murder charge.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A murder charge in the case of missing Stepha Henry who was only 32 years old -- 23 years old, excuse me, visiting South Florida from New York. Evidently, someone that drove her to a nightclub while she was on vacation has now been charged with her murder. Now her body has never been recovered, but they now have a Mr. Kendrick Williams, 32 years old, who has been arrested in Brooklyn, New York.

He, however, was living in South Florida at the time, evidently, when he picked up young Stepha Henry to take her to a nightclub. He had told police at the time that he left her behind at the nightclub. He decided to leave the club early. She stayed on without him. And he didn't know what happened to her after that.

A search was launched. At some point after that in September, several months later, a car in which Kendrick Williams told police he had driven her to the nightclub was recovered and impounded and, according to the police, they found what they are calling quote "substantial evidence" linking Stepha Henry to that vehicle. And now Kendrick Williams has been picked up in New York and charged with a second degree murder of Stepha Henry. What has happen to her, we don't yet know.

COLLINS: Susan, I'm just wondering, you mention that it was September that they found the car. So it went missing in May. They found the car in September and just now we are hearing this murder charge. It's January. Why the delay? Was this individual on the run or do they have trouble finding him?

CANDIOTTI: You know, that's what we have to find out now. Obviously, a flurry of phone calls will take place at that time to find out more about why there was such amount of -- stretch of time where nothing happened. I actually don't recall impounding the car at that time back in September, but we'll find out. I remember that, he said at the time, that this wasn't his car. That he had borrowed a car.

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