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AMERICAN MORNING

Romney Wins Michigan Primary; Global Losses: Markets Fear U.S. Recession; Cloned Animal Meat: How does it Differ?; Tiger Attack Details: 9-1-1 Tapes Released; Airline Merger Talks

Aired January 16, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Wide-open fight. Romney wins Michigan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm cautiously optimist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Three big states, three different winners. The Republican race, a free for all. Friendly fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama and I agree completely.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can work on this, Hillary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Democrats hold their fire in a Vegas showdown. But the bruising fight still ahead. The most politics in the morning -- live from New York and Las Vegas on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday, the 16th of January, a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts, live on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. Good morning, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Even though it's 4:00 a.m. out there, it still looks like a lot is going on this morning. And I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York. We have a lot going on as well.

But the top story of the day surely is that Mitt Romney pulled out the victory he so desperately need in his home state of Michigan. And now it is a three-horse race on the Republican side. No clear frontrunner as the candidates head to South Carolina. Romney won the Michigan primary by promising to bring jobs to the state with the nation's worst economy. Senator John McCain came in second followed by Mike Huckabee. For the Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton won Michigan but she was the only major candidate on the ballot. The others were protesting Michigan moving up their primary date. And while it could generate a little bit of momentum, Clinton did not actually get a delegate out of it. So a confusing situation for Michigan.

They also expected, I think beforehand, John, that more Democrats might go over and vote Republican. We didn't see that happen as much as they had expected that to happen and as much as we saw back in 2000.

ROBERTS: No. And people thought a lot of these Democrats, if they played, might have given John McCain the victory there. But it came out that Mitt Romney was on top. I spoke with Mitt Romney in the last hour here on AMERICAN MORNING. He told me that the American economy is in a fragile state. So I asked him what he would do as president to stimulate the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The key here is that you recognize that the stimulus of the federal government is a small part of the economic strength of the nation. The keys that I've described are the most elemental and most important which are, first of all, stopping the continued decline in the housing market through shoring up the subprime mortgage market and the mortgage market overall. That's a credit matter and that's something which the Fed has begun to do, but we've got a lot more work to do there.

Number two, showing our willingness to be confident. And then number three, helping people make investments in the future. Just giving people money only in separate dollars going off to the oil producing nations. Let's give people money in a way that they could save and help rebuild our capital base. That's why I proposed a middle income tax cut based upon savings. No tax and interests, dividends and capital gains. That's the right beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Romney says that he's not looking at a first place finish in the next big contest for the Republicans, South Carolina, but he has the most delegates and so far he's cautiously optimistic about winning the Republican nomination. Coming up, the candidate that finished fourth in Michigan but has high hopes for South Carolina. Fred Thompson is our guest coming up at 8:15 Eastern, just a little more than an hour from now here on AMERICAN MORNING -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. And Mitt Romney telling Michigan voters that Washington is broken and they responded to his message. So will the GOP faithful follow suit down south? CNN's Mary Snow leads off the best political team on television. She joins us live from Charleston, South Carolina.

Is that the same message that will resonate in that state, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, this is where it's going to be put to the test, because the GOP faithful here in South Carolina will also tell you that can't go to the White House without winning here. And it is already shaping up to be a heated fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): It was a win Mitt Romney needed.

ROMNEY: Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback. A comeback for America. You know, only -- only a week ago, a win looked like it was impossible.

SNOW: A week ago, Romney's campaign was on the ropes after losing New Hampshire to John McCain and having already come in second to Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Romney set his sights on the state where he was born, touting his Michigan roots and his father's year as a popular governor in the 1960s. McCain was sure to mention his rival's home state advantage and congratulated him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He and his campaign worked hard and effectively to make sure that Michigan voters welcomed their native son with their support. Michigan voters were good to the native son, and I understand that and support their decision.

SNOW: And McCain is relying on South Carolina to give him the victory he didn't get there in 2000. A South Carolina lost combined with a series of negative attacks on his campaign helped sink McCain's presidential bid. This time around, he's put forward a so-called truth squad to debunk any smear campaigns.

But both McCain and Romney will face stiff competition from rival Mike Huckabee, who's popular with evangelicals. Huckabee came in third in Michigan. His campaign has sputtered since winning the Iowa caucus nearly two weeks ago.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It looks that I won Iowa. John McCain won New Hampshire. Mitt Romney won Michigan. But, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to win South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And Mike Huckabee is vying for those social conservative voters along with stiff competition from Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee. As for John McCain, one of the themes you can expect to hear on the campaign trail here is national security. This is a state with a high military population. And already, John McCain last night was hammering home the theme of national security and his experience saying that he is ready to be commander in chief.

And as John mentioned just a few minutes ago, Mitt Romney is going to be not spending the entire week here. He's going to be devoting some of his time to Nevada -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Also, somebody who that state is key for, Fred Thompson. We're going to be speaking with him coming up in our 8:00 hour as well. Mary Snow, thank you.

SNOW: Sure.

ROBERTS: As for the Democratic candidates, they were in Nevada. They debated last night in Las Vegas ahead of the caucuses coming up here on Saturday. The tone was polite. But Obama, Clinton and Edwards did clash on the issue of removing combat troops from Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: We have to protect our embassy. We do need to make sure that, you know, our strategic interests are taken care of. But it's not only George Bush. The Republican candidates running for the presidency are saying things that are very much in line with President Bush. You know, Senator McCain said the other day that we might have troops there for 100 years, Barack. I mean, they have an entirely different view than we do.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is dishonest to suggest that she's not going have troops there to protect the embassy. That's just not the truth. You may be great political theater and political rhetoric, but it's not the truth. There is, however, a difference between us on this issue, and I don't think it's subtle. The difference is I will have all combat troops out in the first year that I'm president, and there will be no further combat missions and there will be no permanent military missions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: At one point Obama accused Clinton of using terrorism to score political points. Clinton has said that Al-Qaeda may test the next president early on, and that he or she had to be prepared for that eventuality.

So from here in Las Vegas, the most politics in the morning head next to South Carolina. We're going to be there on Friday morning. We're hitting all of the battleground states on the road to Super Tuesday, talking with voters, candidates, and focusing on the issues, giving you as much good information as possible so that you can make a wise decision in choosing who the next president is -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, John. Well, also new this morning. Wall Street worries spreading around the world. Steep losses in key Asian markets today. Tokyo's Nikkei losing more than three percent of its value. The Hong Kong's Hang Seng closing five percent lower. And the Dow also lost 227 points Tuesday after Citigroup announced $18 billion in losses.

Well, at least 26 people were killed in roadside bombings in Sri Lanka this morning. Police say they believe the rebel Tamil Tigers targeted a bus filled with factory workers as well as a military vehicle. It happened on the same day the Sri Lankan government formally withdrew from a 6-year-old ceasefire with the rebels.

The FDA says that meat and milk from cloned animals are just as safe as products made from maybe old-fashioned way. And they cleared these cloned products to be sold. And get this. You may never know whether or not you're buying meat from a cloned animal or from just a regular animal. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the medical update desk with this.

And this is interesting because it was our first question. We asked this as our "Quick Vote" question yesterday. Would you eat cloned meat? And 65 percent of people that we asked said no. So now, you're saying that there's a chance people might not even know whether they're eating it or not.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's really interesting. And there's definitely a huge "eek" factor if you will, Kiran, when it comes to cloned meat or cloned milk. The FDA was asked about this, the FDA along with the USDA. And they say specifically, look, our job is to decide scientifically whether something is safe. Our job is not to determine how people are going to label these things, and if something is determined safe, it doesn't need to be treated any differently. That's sort of the heart of all of this.

They reviewed dozens of studies from around the world and made their conclusions. In fact, there's no difference biologically or safety wise between cloned meat and meat that comes in traditional ways. Now, you are looking at a steak here, for example. This steak, if you were to order this at a restaurant, you wouldn't have any idea that it actually was cloned or not cloned.

The one thing that I will tell you this, by the way, is not cloned. One thing that I will tell you, though, is a lot of companies as they did with the organic movement will start to maybe put labels on their food that say, look, this is not cloned meat. So it's sort of a reverse labeling, if you will. It's expensive to do that, so companies may not want to do it all the time. But there is a way for consumers to know possibly if people label it in the other direction.

CHETRY: How long until we are going to see cloned food in the market?

GUPTA: Well, there's about 600 animals right now, cloned animals that are going to be used for breeding. The goal is really to create offspring and more offspring and eventually start using that meat to serve, for consumers to buy. There's no specific timetable there, so that could be years away. My guess is that it could possibly be -- you could possibly see milk before you see meat.

Another question sort of about the taste of it. You know, people are really curious. Is it going to taste any different? There's been a few taste tests out there. One was conducted by USC, University of Southern California, another for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Basically, what they said, was that they didn't notice a lot of differences in the taste. You know, for one they said if it's frozen, it's going to be a little bit tougher, just like traditional meat would. But not a lot of difference there, at least by some independent taste test as well, Kiran.

CHETRY: I bet you, though, because people certainly do seek out organic foods and hormone-free foods, antibiotic-free foods, it will be interesting to see if companies do take it upon themselves to label "This is not cloned meat."

GUPTA: Exactly.

CHETRY: And the feeling they will. Sanjay, we're going to be checking throughout the morning with some other interesting medical stories. Thanks for joining us.

GUPTA: Thanks.

CHETRY: And we have Rob Marciano here.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Speaking of organic food, I was offered some banana flax almond munch of green tea organic cereal.

CHETRY: And I'm not going to tell the viewers what our response was when I asked if you wanted some.

MARCIANO: No, that's a -- definitely not here tonight.

Hey, so weather. Listen, we got some stuff going on.

CHETRY: What? In the form of? Rain this time.

MARCIANO: A little bit of rain in spots. A little bit of snow in other spots. So let's get to it. We'll break it down for you.

Some rain heading up from the Gulf of Mexico that is going to mix with some cold in some areas. But this is for the most part is good news along the I-10 corridor, especially in, you know, the center part of Louisiana, Alexandria, east where they desperately need the rain. Try to move that up into the north Georgia and Tennessee, now it would be a good thing. But it looks like rain and thunderstorms -- most of the heavy rains remain to the south.

We got some cold air that's kind of sneaking in. It's way down the eastern side of the Appalachians. So as this storm moves over the next 12 to 24-hour period, we are looking at freezing rain and sleet developed by north Georgia east towards Asheville, Greenville, and really north and west of the I-85 corridor. And some of this will have some snow mix in it, maybe three to five inches of it in some of the mountainous areas, so a wintry mix for those folks.

And then after that pushes through, a real cold blast of air coming down. Really, that old compass will give three quarters of the U.S., I think. And it will be the coldest air this season with temperatures in single numbers, teens and 20s, with wind chills well below zero in some areas.

It looks like this will turn off the snow machine that has pounded the intermountain west for the last month and a half. The avalanche has been a huge concern there. There's been skiers trapped in avalanches in Montana.

And last week I went out to Colorado, as you may know, and went out with Ski Patrol on an avalanche-controlled mission after two feet of snow fell in Steamboat, Colorado. It was absolutely fascinating. The pictures are breathtaking, as you can see, but it's a dangerous countryside after the snow falls. And we'll talk and show you how we go about controlling an avalanche.

CHETRY: Is that you laughing, running away?

MARCIANO: Well, everyone got jazzed up. I wasn't the only one who was, you know, excited to -- you know, well, listen, it's the fourth of July with, you know, big bombs.

CHETRY: No. No, absolutely.

MARCIANO: One way to control avalanches is to try to blow it up and move snow before the skiers move it, or at least compact it. And we'll have a full report coming up in about 25 minutes.

CHETRY: It's fascinating how they figure out exactly where to set them off.

MARCIANO: Yes.

CHETRY: How to do it.

MARCIANO: It's very scientific. It's pretty amazing to watch.

CHETRY: All right. We'll look forward to it. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: You bet.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: And Rob, if you got a moment, love the forecast for Las Vegas. We're hearing rumors of winds up to 50 miles an hour here later on today. So any information you can give us on that will be appreciated since we're supposed to be out here live tonight at 8:00 p.m. for our Election Central show.

There's talk of a big airline merger today. Coming up, what the airlines need to do to stay out of the red and why that might not be so good for passengers.

And we're finally hearing from the brothers at the center of the San Francisco tiger attack. Dramatic 9-1-1 calls from one of the brother who was mauled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: I need you to understand that if the ambulance people --

DHALIWAL: What do you want me to understand? My brother is going to die out here. DISPATCHER: OK. Calm down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Those frantic tapes and the investigation takes a dramatic new turn, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: There's some new details this morning in the Christmas day tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. For the first time, we're hearing those dramatic 9-1-1 tapes, the call, made by one of the brothers just minutes after the attack. Police also have now a search warrant for the brothers' car and cell phones.

Our Alina Cho has the latest developments right now on this case. And the two big things are that we're actually hearing the tapes. We have some inkling of what they said and then also this ruling by a judge.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and we'll get to that in just a minute. But the tapes are just incredible, Kiran. Good morning, everybody. The 9-1-1 tapes are seven minutes long. They're incredibly disturbing. They're dramatic. And make no mistake. This could be key evidence as investigators try to piece together what happened in the moments before and after the attack. Take a listen as one of the brothers injured in that attack calls 9-1- 1 pleading for help, warning authorities a 300-pound Siberian tiger was on the loose.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DHALIWAL: It's a matter of life and death. How long is it before they get permission to go there?

DISPATCHER: OK. No. I understand that but at the same time we have to make sure the paramedics don't get chewed out because if the paramedics get hurt then nobody's going to help you.

DHALIWAL: I saw it here.

DISPATCHER: OK. I understand that. All right?

DHALIWAL: (INAUDIBLE)

DISPATCHER: OK. The ambulance is staging. I need you to understand that if the ambulance people...

DHALIWAL: What do you want me to understand? My brother is going to die out here!

DISPATCHER: OK. Calm down.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHO: Just incredible to listen to those tapes. The Christmas Day attack killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa and injured brothers, Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal. It is unclear at this point which one of the brothers made that 9-1-1 call. What we do know is that the tiger somehow climbed over or jumped over the wall surrounding its pen.

Now, also today, it is important to know that a court hear willing be held where a judge will decide whether the San Francisco City attorney will have access to the Dhaliwal brothers' cell phones and car. Officials say they could contain evidence the victims somehow taunted the tiger prior to the attack. They're also looking into whether the victims may have been drunk. A zoo spokesman says an empty vodka bottle may have been inside the car. But a lawyer for the brothers says the boys did not taunt the tiger, Kiran, and that city officials are on a public smear campaign against the brothers right now.

CHETRY: A lot of issues to discuss right now, legally speaking. And for that, we turn to AMERICAN MORNING's legal analyst Sunny Hostin. First of all, with the tapes, they do reveal what we have talked about before. And there was transcripts which is that...

SUNNY HOSTIN, AMERICAN MORNING LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

CHETRY: ... it appeared that the police or authorities in some way, shape or form, didn't quite believe the brothers.

HOSTIN: Exactly. And let's face it. In times like these, minutes mean everything. Seconds mean everything, and they really didn't respond appropriately. But, as we've discussed before, the fact that the paramedics were not allowed in. Paramedics don't have a duty to put themselves in danger in that sort of situation. So I don't think there's liability there.

But really shocking to me in this case is we all know that the enclosure was too low. It was too low, and these were wild animals. I think there's almost a strict liability case to be made against the zoo. And when Geragos says, the family's attorney says, this is a huge smear campaign, I have to believe that part of that is true. It's sort of a CYA or some sort of smear campaign by the zoo.

CHETRY: All right. So now, as we said, the judge is giving the OK that they can check again the brothers' cell phones and the car.

HOSTIN: Sure.

CHETRY: There is also a witness who had spoken with some of the local papers and could possibly speak in court saying she witnessed the taunting of the tigers as well. So, how will all of that together play in to whether or not there's any culpability on the part of the brothers?

HOSTIN: Well, we know there's a criminal investigation and a civil investigation sort of running in tandem. And I think that's going to be very, very important for the civil investigation because with civil liability, they do sort of a balancing test, whether or not what the brothers did and also what the zoo was supposed to do. And so, if the brothers were found to be contributorily negligent, then that means that they're going to be partially responsible and it's going to lessen the responsibility for the zoo. However, I still of the opinion that there's a strict liability case to be made here. The zoo should have done what they were supposed to do which was, make sure that fence was high, that enclosure was high enough. They didn't do it. We all know that they didn't do it. And have they done that, perhaps the cat wouldn't have jumped over and we wouldn't have one dead kid.

CHETRY: Sunny Hostin, great to see you as always. Thank you.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: Coming up at 21 minutes after the hour now. Kiran, there's talk of a big airline merger today. Coming up, what the airlines need to do to stay out of the red and why that might not be so good for the passengers.

And the Grammy Awards could be the next award show victimized by the writers strike. We'll tell you what the union is planning. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most politics in the morning here on CNN. Now, we have three different winners for the first three big states in the Republican side of the race for president. The race is wide open. And now the question, could Rudy Giuliani's strategy to bank on Florida and the other Super Tuesday states actually work? Or has he missed out while other winners have emerged?

The poll numbers in Florida and the Super Tuesday states have been changing in response to what's happening in the early primaries, and the trend for Giuliani seems to be down, while the trend for other candidates appears to be up.

So we want to know what you think? Do the winners in the early voting states make a difference in who you will vote for? Cast your vote at cnn.com/am. We will have the first tally of votes a little bit later on in this hour -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, John.

Well, meanwhile, it's 24 minutes past the hour. Stephanie Elam in for Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business," has some news for us about the airlines.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I figure we'll start with the positive news since I feel like all I do is tell you negative things about the economy and what's going on. Well, right now, 2007, the airlines are on track to have their second year of profitability.

Remember, after 9/11, the recession there really slammed the airline industry. But talk about getting hit while they're sort of getting back up on their knees. Now it looks like the fourth quarter, most of the airlines are set to report a loss, even though the full year will be in profitability.

Taking a look at this winter storms. High fuel costs, we've been hearing about that. Also, recession fears, all of that factoring in. The airlines have been responding by restructuring, cutting costs, and also controlling capacity. However, with these increased fares and keeping planes filled, it's very difficult to do so there's been talk about mergers.

This week we've been talking about whether or not Delta would merge with Northwest or United. There have been reports coming out now that perhaps the airlines are actually in talks. We've had some news coming out of U.S. Representative Jim Overstar of Minnesota. He's saying that the airlines are in formal talks, Delta and Northwest that would be. He's confirming that this is what's happening.

We're still waiting to hear for the airlines to say anything about it. But obviously, as things are tough for the airlines, people are looking for ways to merge. The airlines are looking for ways to keep their money coming in.

CHETRY: All right. Stephanie, thanks so much.

And still ahead, President Bush's push for peace in the Middle East just getting a very big endorsement in Egypt. We're going to have a live report from the president's trip coming up.

Also, it's an explosive approach to preventing disaster in the snow-covered mountains. Our Rob Marciano got a firsthand look at avalanche control. He's going to take us right there to the action on the mountains. That story and today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Beautiful shot this morning from the Vegas Strip courtesy of KVVU in Las Vegas this morning where right now it's 37 degrees, a high of 48 on this Wednesday, January 16th. And I know that -- John Roberts is out there this morning. He's going to be out there tonight at 8:00 p.m. as well. And he was concerned, Rob, about the high winds.

MARCIANO: He wasn't concerned. He was basically ordering me to deliver a forecast as well. And I'm more than happy to do it. No. It's blowing around down there pretty good. Temperatures in the 30s. Wind chills less than that. Winds could gust to 40 miles an hour or so today. But Santa Ana's going to crank across Southern California. So, you know, it's only about a four-hour drive. Folks in L.A. could see along the canyon, 60 to 80 per hour winds. It will be windy out West. Hold on to your hats.

CHETRY: All right. And welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York.

You got that, John, ready for tonight too?

ROBERTS: I did. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

I'm John Roberts live in Las Vegas, Nevada, as we're looking forward to the caucuses here on Saturday. Our thanks to the folks at Trader Vick's who have made their outdoor patio along the Las Vegas strip available to us. I'm just looking at some of the fare that they've provided for us. Today, a little Chilean sea bass, some Colorado rack of lamb and of course, the Mai Thai, invented by Trader Vick's founder back in 1934. The good news this morning, Kiran, is that the Mai Thai is cold. The food news is so is the rack of lamb and Chilean sea bass. So, there you go. Take what you can get.

Hey, the native son shines in Michigan. Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary with promises to bring jobs to the state with the nation's worst economy. Senator John McCain came in second behind Mike Huckabee. On the Democratic side of the fence, Senator Hillary Clinton won. She was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot because of the state's decision to hold the vote so early. Forty percent of voters came out to file uncommitted ballots. The ailing auto industry was the main focus of the Michigan primary.

John McCain told the voters some of the job lost would not be coming back. Mitt Romney strongly disagreed with that. I spoke with Romney earlier on AMERICAN MORNING and asked if he was just telling Michigan what it wanted to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The key is to be able to rebuild the economy. And I spent my life in the private sector. It's something I have done. I have traveled around the world doing a business. I understand why businesses and jobs come and go. And I will use all that I've learned to try to strengthen our economy, whether it's in the transportation sector or other sectors, you simply can't look at a major section of America and just write it off and say it's gone, particularly when it continues to employ hundreds of thousands of people directly and possibly millions of people. That's true for industries across America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: I asked him what kind of shape he thinks the overall American economy is in. Romney said it's in a fragile state and that it's important not to let it fall in recession.

Well, now it's on to the caucuses here in Nevada and for the Republicans as well, the South Carolina primary. They're both on the same day. Mark Halperin is a senior political analyst for "Time" magazine. He writes "The Page" for time.com and he's also author of the book "The Undecided Voter's Guide to the next president." Mark's up early this morning. He's here in Las Vegas after the debate last night and joins us.

Good morning. So, Mitt Romney, very important victory for him. It would seem that he places more importance on what happens in South Carolina and, again, indicates no clear choice for the Republicans.

MARK HALPERIN, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME" MAGAZINE: The Republican party has never faced a situation like this. I asked almost every smart Republican I could find last night. Who's the frontrunner now? The answer is nobody is the frontrunner. Romney says it's his candidacy by winning Michigan, winning it big. The exit polls show a lot of good hopeful signs for him. Now any of the four people could win in South Carolina. Then, it's on to Florida, then super Tuesday. This is unsettled. If you love politics, it's fun. If you're a republican, you got to worry when will the madness end.

ROBERTS: And who is the person who could unite the party? Mitt Romney last night invoking his inspiration of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Two people who did bring the party together. Is there anybody out there who at this point who can do that?

HALPERIN: Not right now. A lot of republicans are going to hold back and see who can win here. I got on "the page" this morning a list of all the things I think each of these candidates have going for them. They've all got stuff going for them but there's another list, they've all got problems. No one is uniting the party. It's going stay fractured for a long time. Some of these candidates are probably going to drop out eventually. But not right now because they all see weakness on top.

ROBERTS: The Democratic debate here last night in Las Vegas. It looked like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama put the knives away at least on the race issue. Let's take a listen to a little bit of how they addressed that last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I think that what's most important is that Senator Obama and I agree completely that neither race nor gender should be a part of this campaign.

OBAMA: One of the premises of my campaign, and I think of the Democratic party and I know that John and Hillary have always been committed to racial equality is that we can't solve these challenges unless we can come together as a people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So they're trying to put the issue of race behind them. But the results of last night's polling in Michigan gave us a very important signal about how African-American voters are feeling.

HALPERIN: As you said before, Hillary Clinton was the only name on the ballot of the candidates still in the race. She won, but uncommitted drew a lot of votes and a huge percentage according to the exit poll of African-American votes. That is a problem for her going forward in South Carolina in particular where at least half and maybe more of the vote will be African-American and also in some of these big states coming up on super Tuesday. The big African-American vote, she has to address that in South Carolina. It's kind of a dry run to see if she can win some of it back from Barack Obama. ROBERTS: Our exit polling showed last night that 68 percent of African-American voters cast their vote for uncommitted. So, that's a very big sign for her that there are some troubled waters ahead.

HALPERIN: Some of that was probably directed by the Obama campaign below the surface, but some of it was clearly organic. The Clinton family in politics have been able to rely on African-American votes. One of the real challenges she faces from Obama is obvious that they're African-American.

ROBERTS: Now, of course, another thing that the Clinton legacy has been able to rely on is this idea that people believe that they can handle the economy, at least Bill Clinton. With the economy emerging as the number one issue, does that give Hillary Clinton the natural advantage now.

HALPERIN: I think it gives here an opening. Just like on national security, she's going to argue, look, it's a risky time, it's a tough time. Go with somebody you trust. Obama is going to have to talk more about the economy. I think part of the reason both of them wanted to ratchet down this racial conflict that they were having is they wanted to be seen talking about the economy in their advertising, in the debates, out on the stump. It's a big issue in both races now and it's good for the country I think to see the candidates talking about it.

ROBERTS: All right. Mark Halperin, the author of "Time" Magazine's "The Page" and as well the new book "The Undecided Voter's Guide to the next president." We'll get you back in about an hour and 15 minutes. We'll talk more about everything that's happening here.

And remember our political coverage continues tonight in primetime. Join Lou Dobbs and me tonight for CNN's Election Center. It all starts at 8:00 Eastern time.

Right now, let's go back to New York. Here's Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks. Well, new this morning. Riot police fire bullets and tear gas to break up protesters in Kenya. There is no reports of anyone being hurt today but those mass rallies are planned across Kenya for the next three days to protest the presidential election. More than 600 people were killed in violent demonstration.

Also, the U.S. military announced that friendly fire may have recently killed three U.S. soldiers in Iraq. It's investigating a fire fight that happened last Tuesday, southwest of Samarra. Soldiers of the 101st airborne division were called in air support during a battle with more than a dozen insurgents. The military says it's possible those air strikes may have hit the U.S. troops on the ground.

And today, the House will hold hearings into the CIA's destruction of interrogation video tapes. A key player in the case, head CIA lawyer Jon Rizzo will testify in private. But Jose Rodriguez, the agent who ordered the tapes to be destroyed will not testify at all. The ACLU wants a judge to rule the CIA in contempt of court for destroying videotapes that depicted interrogation showing water boarding of two detainees.

The Grammys may join the Golden Globes, the writer's strike means the Grammy Awards Ceremony next month is in jeopardy. It could be handed out in a news conference the same way we saw the Golden Globes Award on Sunday. Musicians are asking for a waiver from the writer's guild which will allow them to cross the picket line.

And still ahead, we heard about athletes taking it. Now reports of singers, rappers doing it too. Is human growth hormone really a fountain of youth? We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta right after the break.

Coming up on AMERICA MORNING -- explosive prevention.

MARCIANO: Isn't it a danger that in one of your patrols, men and women are going to slide down the mountain with the snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

CHETRY: Rob Marciano shows us how blasting a mountain can head off avalanches disaster, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: We heard reports of baseball players using human growth hormone to get them to recover from injury quicker. Well now, there's word that entertainers, singers and other celebrities could be taking human growth hormone as well perhaps seeking the fountain of youth. The "Albany Times Union" is reporting that entertainers including singer Mary J. Blige are among thousands of names turning up in an investigation. A spokeswoman for Blige denies she's taking anything illegal.

But what is a human growth hormone and why would a non-athlete take it? Joining us to talk more about this is Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent in Atlanta this morning.

Is this some sort of fountain of youth, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what a lot of people claim. For sure, Kiran, we did a whole documentary about this. And I will say to start off with -- Beware about all of these advertising claims regarding human growth hormone.

First of all, what is it? It's a hormone that is naturally produced by the body. It's actually produced at the base of the brain by something known as the pituitary gland. That's the gland that produces growth hormone. As you get older, that hormone starts to go down in amounts. So by the time you're 60, for example, you're producing just a fraction of what you produced when you're in your 20s. And therein lies a lot of these claims. People say just replace some of that human growth hormone and you're going to erase some of the ravages of time.

Now to be clear, there are some legitimate uses for growth hormone -- kids with short stature, for example, AIDS patients that are malnourished and wasting. Those are some legitimate purposes. But the question for a long time has been what else can it do for you. And there was one paper written in the early 1990s said it had some legitimate effects. But beyond that, a lot of the evidence that you see nowadays is anecdotal and people are obviously very concerned about the side effects as well, Kiran.

CHETRY: Which are -- some of them?

GUPTA: Well, some of them, I mean, they are theoretical because there's not a lot of studies on giving people human growth hormone. But diabetes for example, certain cancers, arthritis of the joints, those are ones that they talk about. There's also cosmetic changes, by giving growth hormone, you might actually increase some of the tissue around the jaw, around the nose, actually change someone's physical appearance as well which is the exact opposite of what a lot of these people want.

So, again, there's not a lot of evidence in either direction to suggest that it's safe or to suggest that it's dangerous. But there's enough concern out there for doctors to really be cautious about this.

CHETRY: So, is it illegal to be prescribing this or to be obtaining this for people who want to take it for nonmedical reasons?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting in this particular case. People who probably are most in danger legally are private doctors here. Because there are some pretty strict rules on prescribing this for off-label uses, especially if you haven't seen the patient. If you go to the internet right now and just type in human growth hormone, you're going to get lots of sites that will say look we'll sell you human growth hormone, just fill out this questionnaire.

A doctor or any kind of health care professional will never have seen the patient. And that's considered illegal and pretty stiff fines. I mean, five years in prison, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, you can lose your medical license. Again, as I said did a documentary about this and profiled the doctor who had some of these things happen to her. But having said that it still happening, people are still selling it and people are still taking it.

CHETRY: Very, very interesting. All right. Sanjay, thank you. By the way, if you have a question for Dr. Gupta, e-mail us. Go to cnn.com/a.m. Sanjay will answer your questions tomorrow as he does every Thursday when he opens up his mail bag here on AMERICAN MORNING. John.

ROBERTS: Kiran, President Bush has a strong message for the middle east today. Coming up, a live report from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on what the President is saying about peace. And we'll give you an up close look at an avalanche prevention. It's like the fourth of July on the slopes there. Our Rob Marciano shows how using explosives to make mountain skis slopes safer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: President Bush this morning, wrapping up his eight-day visit to the middle east in the Arab world with a stop in Sharm el sheikh, Egypt. He visited with President Hosni Mubarak. The two of them held their news conference just a little while ago. CNN's Middle East correspondent, Aneesh Raman, joins us now from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

And Aneesh, the big topic there was as the President was abiding adieu was the idea of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Now he believes that it's possible by the time he leaves office by January 20, 2009.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. Good morning. It's a tall order. But President Bush did get the support today of his Egyptian counterpart. The two men met with reporters, didn't take any questions. But President Mubarak endorsed that hope from President Bush that within a year some sort of peace deal can emerge between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There are a great many skeptics of that within this region. But President Bush made it clear this morning that he is far from done pushing towards that deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I believe the leadership in Israel and the leadership of the Palestinians is committed to a two-state solution. And I know nations in the neighborhood are willing to help, particularly yourself. And I appreciate your strong constructive support for the process. And I told the president I'm going stay -- there's a wonder whether or not the American president whether he says something whether he actually means it. When I say I'm coming back to stay engaged, I mean it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMAN: Now, what we should mention too, many Egyptians, John, were hoping that President Bush would come out with strong criticisms of the Mubarak regime which over the past year has really rolled back rights. They have jailed journalists. They have jailed bloggers. They have jailed political opposition members. And just a few days ago, President Bush railed against Iran for some of those same instances. He did not though specifically criticize the Egyptian government. And it's probably a good thing they met here in beautiful Sharm El Sheikh rather than Cairo where there have been protests, John, for the past few days against President Bush.

ROBERTS: A lot of talk around the world on the issue about the apparent contradictions in the president's democracy agenda. But what about the price of oil? It's a huge concern for people here in this country. Did President Bush get any movement from Saudi Arabia on that.

RAMAN: We know from the White House press secretary last night when President Bush had his personal meetings with the Saudi king that he did raise the issue of OPEC perhaps increasing oil production. Now, this is a quote from Dana Perino, the press secretary. She said on the way to Egypt, there's a hope. This is the hope of President Bush that as a result of the conversation, OPEC would be encouraged to authorize an increase in oil production. That's far from a guarantee and it was, John, just yesterday that Saudi's oil minister said no way. They will just essentially let the market dictate when they increase any oil output. So, sort of a mixed message, perhaps not what President Bush wanted but at least from the king, some sign beyond what the Saudi oil minister said the previous day -- John.

ROBERTS: Aneesh. Aneesh Raman for us this morning at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Aneesh, thanks.

Now, let's go back up to New York and here's Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks. We saw over the weekend how disaster can strike. An avalanche buried and killed two skiers in Montana. They were skiing the back country at the time. Our Rob Marciano went out with the ski patrol in Colorado to see what they're doing to prevent this from happening in the future. Rob's here to tell us more about it. They try to make sure that the snow doesn't pile up too much.

MARCIANO: Well, certainly in a ski resort, its commercial operation. I want to make sure that their customers are safe. The back country, there's nothing more beautiful than going to the back country. But almost all of avalanches are triggered by the person that's caught in them. And that would include back country skiers.

We went out with ski patrol in Steam boat, Colorado because they have to protect their customers for sure because they know that gravity takes hold when you have feet and feet and tons of snow up high on the mountain. When that snow gets going, it gets going fast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO (voice-over): At speeds up to 100 miles an hour, avalanches can be deadly. Claiming about 25 Americans every year. But avalanches can be prevented, or at least controlled.

SCOTT HALLIDAY, SKI PATROLLER, STEAMBOAT SKI RESORT: Some two- pound air blasts, some four-pound air blasts.

MARCIANO: Scott Halliday and his fellow ski patrollers use explosives to control avalanches, forcing the snow to fall before the skiers hit the slopes.

Isn't there a danger that one of your patrolmen or women is going to slide down the mountain with the snow?

HALLIDAY: Absolutely.

MARCIANO: Lifts, snowmobiles, and skis get the team where it needs to be, high in the mountain and deep in the snow. Charges are either stake in the snow, or tossed like grenades in hard to reach spots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice toss. MARCIANO: We're about halfway through the charges they got to blow today. And they're pretty happy with the success they've had. They got a lot of snow to move. Compacting a lot of snow. This has been an epic 24 hours.

But there's more work to do. If the snow does not release, the explosions act to compact it, making it more stable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

MARCIANO: The reward -- safe, waist-deep, champagne powder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: They have seen 20 feet of snow so far this season at Steamboat.

CHETRY: They say that's highly unusual.

MARCIANO: It's unusual to get two feet of snow in one night. Not like the Pacific northwest or the Sierras where they get slammed. I mean, they get six to 12 inches in one night. But to get two feet like that. That was just amazing I got to tell you.

CHETRY: you were describing this to me. It looks incredible to be snowing in that

MARCIANO: We started out in the dark. We got on top of the mountain, the sun came out and you look out over the expanse of white covering this landscape, it's just phenomenal. And then to cut tracks through virgin powder like that, waist deep. I mean it's just really just an experience for sure.

CHETRY: Were you in the back country?

MARCIANO: No, that is inbounds. I mean, there are out of bounds areas where they discourage people to go because they don't control those. But inbounds, all ski resorts have programs like this with experts in the terrain setting off charges and getting the snow to fall before the skiers go out there so they can enjoy that.

CHETRY: So, if you're ever in a bad mood, just think, my job has allowed me to have a religious experience on the slopes.

MARCIANO: I know. And I thank God every day.

CHETRY: Good stuff, though. Very fascinating how they're doing that. Pretty neat. Thanks, Rob.

Well, Michigan was do or die for Mitt Romney. So, what does South Carolina mean for Fred Thompson. He's going to be joining us. He's campaigning hard in the Palmetto state. He's going be joining us in the next half hour.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING. Apple unveils its newest treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the new Mac book air. You can get a feel for how thin it is.

CHETRY: Inside the Mac book Air. Will it live up to all the hype? And what else does Steve Jobs have up his sleeves. We're going to find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: The big news coming out of the Mac World Expo in San Francisco with something actually very small, or should we say thin? Veronica de la Cruz has a look at the latest offering from Apple's Steve Jobs. Hey, there.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ: Hey, there. Good morning to you. It's nice to see you.

CHETRY: Good to see you.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, kind of small, thin or whatever you want to call it. Definitely not an iPhone.

Definitely, not an iPhone. Not the iPhone part two which is what everybody wanted to see. But there were definitely other interesting offerings at Mac World. So, take a look at this one -- this was definitely the show stopper. This the Mac Air notebook weighing in at three pounds, less than an inch thick.

Regardless of it being so light. It is apparently a heavyweight when it comes to features. The sub compact notebook boasts of a wide screen display and the video camera, two gigs of RAM, state of the art Wi-Fi and an 80-gig hard drive. The price tag, $1,800. But it definitely is a beauty.

Again, no iPhone part two. But it's a significant software upgrade to tell you about when it comes to the iPhone. The mass application has been re-designed to tell you exactly where you are when you're looking at a map. The upgrade is free to all current iPhone owners.

And then for iPod video owners, also Apple TV owners. I know you're an iPod video owner so you'll be excited to hear that Apple has partnered with a handful of movie studios to offer movie rentals through iTunes. It's going to give Netflix and all those operations a little bit of competition. Then finally an announcement on the new wireless hard drive called the time capsule. It's a neat little tool that uses Wi-Fi to help you back up your data.

So, over-all it wasn't really the keynote address that many Apple enthusiasts and bloggers were hoping for yesterday. The blogs were chaotic before Steve Jobs delivered his keynote. The Web site for the Apple store shut down for a bit. There's a Wikipedia page which claimed that they had his keynote speech.

Again, the blog saying oh, my gosh, the keynote has been leaked. Of course, the keynote was faked. So, you know, a lot of people kind of bummed today over the news there wasn't an iPhone part two. But still you know, Steve Jobs had this to say, he said, you know you're lucky if you come across one iPhone in your career. I had the iPhone. I had the iPod. I had the iTouch.

CHETRY: It's true. It's hard to live up to that success and match it every time. It's just funny just how much of a tech know geek you have to be to fake a keynote speech by Steve Jobs.

DE LA CRUZ: I'm telling you, Apple fans are nuts. They're crazy. They're crazy.

CHETRY: I can't get over how thin that laptop is.

DE LA CRUZ: Isn't it beautiful?

CHETRY: It is beautiful.

CHETRY: Thanks, Veronica. Of course, John.

ROBERTS: And here I was putting off buying a computer at Christmas because I thought jobs would come out with the MacWorld and say here's your brand new computer, Roberts, to make yours obsolete but he didn't. So, I should have bought it.

How much influence did this early results here in these early primary states have over the rest of the primaries and caucuses. We can already see Rudy Giuliani slipping in national polls while John McCain is surging. Giuliani is banking on Florida to get his campaign rolling before the mega prize day on super Tuesday. He's referred to it often as his firewall.

That brings us to this morning's quick vote question, do the winners of the early voting states make a difference in who you'll vote for? Right now, 19 percent of you say yes, 81 percent say no, which would seem to back the trends in the polls that we're seeing. Cast you vote at cnn.com/am. We'll continue to update the votes throughout the morning. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

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