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Clinton and Obama Running Neck and Neck for Democratic Nomination; Another Feud Erupts Between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee

Aired February 4, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, where it all began? Barack Obama says that the best education he ever had was right here in this neighborhood.

ROBERTS: The crossroads of the Democrat's great rivalry. What made Obama, Obama? And digging up Hillary's heartland roots?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came from a very conservative home.

ROBERTS: Live from Chicago and New York on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good Monday morning to you. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts live at Manny's Deli in Chicago. A fixture here in the windy city since 1942 and a place, Kiran, where you like big food, you got to be.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. You're talking politics as well as corned beef this morning. So, you know, you got to have a hearty breakfast to go along with all the politics going on today. Boy, a day before Super Tuesday. And you know, for the candidates, hopefully, they're keeping themselves well fed as well, because they are certainly coming down to the wire here before Super Tuesday.

Just 24 hours to win over voters in more than 20 states. Barack Obama, by the way, campaigning in the northeast today. He's going to be in New Jersey, Connecticut, and then Massachusetts. And if you take a look at the newest National CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll that was just out this morning, Obama leads 49 percent with Hillary Clinton at 46 percent. A tie when you factor in the margin of error.

There's also an average of five of the latest national polls showing Clinton slightly ahead of Barack Obama, 45 percent to 43 percent, but once again, very, very tight.

Obama's star surrogates also rally voters in the crucial state of California on Sunday. The state's first lady, Maria Shriver has endorsed Obama along with her cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and then of course, Oprah Winfrey, a big supporter and his own wife, Michelle Obama. They were all at a rally in Los Angeles. Senator Obama told CBS's "Face the Nation" that he can win the Republican and independent voters that Hillary Clinton cannot.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's any doubt that the Republicans consider her a polarizing figure. The tone that I take, the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, the willingness to listen to Republicans about some of their ideas, even though I may not agree with all of them, I think that creates a different climate. And I think we can attract independents and Republicans in a way that Senator Clinton cannot.


CHETRY: Obama says he knows that he won't be immune from attacks by what he calls the Republican spin machine in the general election. As for Hillary Clinton, she's campaigning close to home today as well. New York and Connecticut.

She'll also be making a guest appearance tonight on the "Dave Letterman Late Show." While campaigning in Minnesota, Sunday, Senator Clinton celebrate the New York Giants' upset in the Super Bowl and says that she sees it as a promising sign for her chances on Super Tuesday.

With Clinton and Obama running neck and neck for the Democratic nomination, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says that for now he's just watching. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, he told me that he has not decided yet on any endorsement. I asked him what he wanted to see from the two candidates.


BILL RICHARDSON, (D) NEW MEXICO: I just want both candidates to get positive about the country. I want them to talk about their vision of how they're going to improve the economy, how they're going to end the war, how we're going to have energy independence and reduce global warming. I want the issues to come out more. There's been a little too much negativity back-biting.

Hopefully, now as we head into the 22 primaries on Tuesday and the stretch that the positive side of the issues come out. That's what I'm looking at. I want a positive vision for this country and I want both candidates to stay positive.


CHETRY: Richardson says he thinks that young Latino voters are responding to Obama while older ones connect better with Hillary Clinton.


ROBERTS: On the Republican side of the fence, Our CNN Opinion Research Corporation National Poll has John McCain now with 44 percent followed by Mitt Romney at 29 percent and Mike Huckabee with 18 percent. An average of the last five latest national polls has McCain at 45 percent, Romney at 24 percent and Huckabee at 17 percent. CNN's Dana Bash is in Trenton, New Jersey this morning, where Senator McCain is going to campaign today. And Dana, taking a look at these polls, these are national numbers. Do they reflect what's going on in the states as well?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the most part, maybe not that big in terms of Senator McCain's lead in many of these states. Certainly, the state of California, for example, is very important and much, much closer than the national poll suggests. But it does sort of mirrors what the McCain strategy is and has been over the weekend and will be certainly today, John.

And that is to sort of portray the sense of inevitability, this air of -- you know, the fact that he's going to be the nominee and he's really trying to focus, interestingly, not as much on Mitt Romney or even Mike Huckabee, for that matte, trying to focus a lot more on the Democrats. Making the case that he is somebody who can beat the Democrats.

So the case that he's trying to make is, subtly and not so subtly saying I'm going to be the nominee, and that's sort of the way it is. Meanwhile, you have Mitt Romney making the case that, you know what -- John McCain is not and should not be the nominee -- really trying to play into the fears of many conservatives, who simply do not like John McCain for a whole host of reasons. Romney is trying to say I am the alternative to John McCain for you conservatives who do not want him to be your nominee.


ROBERTS: Another feud has erupted between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee insists that Romney suggested -- maybe subtly, if not overtly, that Huckabee should drop out of the race because he's siphoning votes away from Mitt Romney. Here's has Mike Huckabee had to say about that this morning.


MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He suggests that I get out of the race and has the audacity to say that the reason is because the voters that I'm getting are voters that would go to him. I think it's incredibly presumptuous and even arrogant to suggest that the voters who are voting for me would automatically gravitate to him. I think quite frankly they would not.


ROBERTS: Pretty harsh words, Dana, this morning, there from Governor Huckabee. Particularly when Mitt Romney insists, hey, I never said that.

BASH: That's right. Mitt Romney does that. His campaign says he never explicitly said that Mike Huckabee should get out of the race. But what that does is speak to a very real dynamic that's going on here, John. And that is that Mike Huckabee is still in the race and he very much is a still contending. Particularly, in some of the key southern states that are voting tomorrow in the primaries.

And you know, we talked about the fact that Mitt Romney is trying to present himself as the conservative alternative to John McCain and privately Mitt Romney's campaign aides say that they are worried about the fact that Mike Huckabee, who really has proven he can appeal to conservatives, particularly social conservatives, that he will sort of siphon off some of the votes from Mitt Romney and that will ultimately help give John McCain his win.

In fact, one of Mitt Romney's supporters, the governor of Missouri, another very important state -- he actually is telling voters, a vote for Mike Huckabee is a vote for John McCain. So Mike Huckabee is saying -- in fact, he just sent an email we just got to supporters saying that he wants to be just like the New York Giants. He said that America is going to see two upsets this week. He is insisting he is not giving up. But you know, the fact of the matter is, it is going to be quite interesting to see how, at the end of day, he does sort of affect the dynamics between Mitt Romney and John McCain.


ROBERTS: If he wants to be the New York Giants, he's going to have to learn how to make some pretty spectacular catches in the next 24 hours. Dana Bash for us this morning in Trenton. Dana, thanks.


CHETRY: Well, our Alina Cho joins us now with some other stories developing this morning including breaking news out of the Middle East. Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran, good morning. That's right. Good morning, everybody. We have been following breaking news this morning in Gaza. An Israeli air strike has killed a top Palestinian militant. He apparently had close ties to Hamas. The attack came on a car traveling in the Northern Gaza Strip this morning. It happened just hours after a suicide bomber killed at least one person and injured 11 others at a shopping mall in Southern Israel.

The air and ground search for two missing skiers near Lake Tahoe, California will resume soon. They went missing on Saturday afternoon following a storm that dumped more than two feet of snow. The men are described as expert skiers. Rescuers say their chances of surviving are pretty good, if they were able to hunker down in a snow cave.

Prosecutors in Aruba say they're reopening their investigation against Joran Van der Sloot. A Dutch crime show apparently secretly aired recorded conversations between Van der Sloot and a "friend" who turned out to be an undercover reporter.

On the tape, Van der Sloot admits he was with Holloway on a beach when she got sick and passed out. He said he panicked. When she didn't appear to be alive, he called a friend and arranged to have her body dumped in the ocean. Van der Sloot admits he made the comments but says they were all quote, "lies." Holloway disappeared in 2005.

There's word this morning, troubled pop star Britney Spears will stay in the hospital. Spears was supposed to be released from UCLA Medical Center psychiatric ward today, that's according to a person close to spears. But doctors have apparently decided to keep her for another 14 days. Two weeks. She was admitted last week for what was supposed to be a 72-hour mental health evaluation.

In the next couple of hours, President Bush will unveil the nation's first ever $3 trillion budget. It includes more money for the military and cuts in more than 150 Federal programs including Medicaid and Medicare. The budget also projects a $400 billion deficit for this year and next.

And who says miracles can't happen? Ask the New York Giants and their fans. Fans are now getting ready for a victory parade tomorrow in New York City. They were celebrating in Times Square last night. The Giants beat the New England Patriots 17-14 to win the Super Bowl. Of course, most people know by now, the Giants were down by four with less than three minutes to go when Quarterback Eli Manning led an incredible charge and David Tyree made an incredible catch. You're about to see it. There it is. Wow.

Tyree reached up, grabbed the ball, as you can see there. He actually held it against his helmet as he was falling to the ground. And there's a second look at it in slow motion. That catch set up the game's final touchdown with just 35 seconds to go. Although the Patriots came into the Super Bowl with a perfect record, the Giants said they believed in themselves all along, even if no one else did.


MICHAEL STRAHAN, GIANT'S DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: You know what? We watch a lot of TV. We have a lot of free time. I remember hearing somebody say the Giants got a false sense of confidence from the first time we played them. No, we've got confidence. And you know what, my guys are the best in the world!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told them last night that other than family, the greatest feeling in the world is when all of a sudden you realize you're the world champion.


CHO: New York City will be throwing the Giants a big victory parade up Broadway tomorrow.

CHETRY: And our producer is a huge Patriots. Did you see what the banner on the bottom, Giants ruin perfect season.

CHO: Not big blue wins.

CHETRY: Exactly.

CHO: But anyway, that was a very exciting night to be in New York City last night, as we were talking about earlier. You could hear the screams in the streets late into the night.

CHETRY: Exactly.

CHO: A lot of blurry-eyed people this morning.

CHETRY: I think we showed someone blasting a trumpet out of the window. That was pretty much what was going on all night. So sleep was not happening.

CHO: That's right. Later, we can catch on that.

CHETRY: Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.


ROBERTS: Pretty amazing game last night. Just incredible.

We're also following extreme weather in Oregon this morning. 18 inches of snow fell over the weekend in Idana. That's about 60 miles southeast of Portland adding to the six feet that they already have on the ground there. The mayor says a number of buildings are in danger of collapse because there's so much snow on the roofs and nowhere to put it.

Our Reynolds Wolf live at the weather update desk in Atlanta. He's got more on this. Also bad weather moving in to the center of the country.

Good morning, Reynolds.


CHETRY: Well, we've never seen anything quite like Super Tuesday. This year, voters coming out in 24 states across the country and it could be the deciding factor in one or both of the races. Just ahead, we're going to find out more about what we need to know on these key contests across the country.

Also, it's the state with the worst obesity problem, but does it really make any sense to try to make it illegal to serve food to obese people? We're going to talk about what's going on in Mississippi. Are they serious or just looking for some food for thought? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: The big day tomorrow when millions of Americans are getting ready to vote in the 24-state Super Tuesday showdown. The presidential candidates launching their first -- their last, actually, full day of campaigning. They wish it was their first, because they got a lot of ground to cover before the biggest White House nominating contest in history. So what states are key to victory for both Republicans and Democrats? Well, Mark Halperin is senior political analyst at "Time" magazine joins us right now. He also writes the page for "". And in his spare time, he wrote the book, "The Undecided Voters Guide to the Next President."

Good to see you, Mark.


CHETRY: We drop the duper off of Super Duper Tuesday (INAUDIBLE).

HALPERIN: There's no language big enough to describe this. We could go through every thesaurus we have online and off to try to come off. It's huge because there's never been this many delegates at stake and it's coast to coast. You got a contest in Alaska. You got a contest in Georgia. The candidates can't even go to every state that's voting. Let alone spend the kind of quality time they'd like to.

CHETRY: So clearly, because they can't and we've seen what they're trying to do. We had Barack Obama sending a lot of high- profile surrogates to California while he's doing some campaigning here on the East Coast. But out of those states, because it's hard to keep track of all of them, which ones are you going to be watching closely and will the pundits be watching closely tomorrow?

HALPERIN: I think in the Democratic race, California is the big prize. I will not call it the big enchilada, because people always do, but it's a big prize because there are the most delegates. But what's important to remember was while watching the Democrats tomorrow is, they get out their delegates proportionately. So if you get 40 percent of the vote, 42 percent, you get half or almost half of the delegates. And so you're going to see both Obama and Clinton pick up a lot of delegates in California.

The press, however, is going to make a big deal about who wins the popular vote. Even though it doesn't really impact very much how many delegates you get.

CHETRY: And that's the interesting thing for people that are going to be watching this. It seems that, because the GOP is winner- take-all, in a lot of these states that it would be far more make or break tomorrow for the Mitt Romney's of the world and the John McCain's of the world. How is it different for the Republicans?

HALPERIN: Huge for the Republicans because of that winner-take- all. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, the three states in the tri- state area here, all winner-take-all. McCain is very strong there. Out in California, which is where Romney's really going to try to stop McCain's momentum, it's not winner-take-all statewide. You do well by Congressional District. That's where Romney is going to go and try to pick up enough delegates. Maybe win that symbolic popular vote, to say to the country and conservatives, let's not a rush to judgment on John McCain. Romney's goal is not to win the most delegates on Super Tuesday, but it's to get some moral victory, some symbolic victories and try to keep the contest going beyond Tuesday.

CHETRY: What's the minimum he needs to stay in it?

HALPERIN: Well, that's the hard things to say. I think winning California would be a big deal. I think keeping John McCain delegate totals low. Not letting him rack up wins all over the country. So you know it when you see it, but I think Romney needs to do well in California and to win his home state of Massachusetts, to win some states in the south. I think that would all be important for him to say again to people, let's not rush to anoint John McCain. Let's keep the contest going like the Democratic contest.

CHETRY: And judging from our polling, it looks like it is going to keep going. And number one, we have a new poll out today. Our CNN Opinion Research Poll showing that it's pretty much a dead heat with Obama slightly ahead -- I believe it's 49-46. And the poll of polls, shows them also at about 46 percent-43 percent.

So when you factor that in, plus many of these states do, as you say, give delegates to the second-place winners as well, what are you looking at?

HALPERIN: The Democrat contest will go on. It will be important to see how they do in California, how they do in Massachusetts, Missouri. I'd say those three states, more than the others. But this contest will go on. Whoever ends up after tomorrow with fewer delegates is going to say -- look, my opponent has more delegates but they don't have a majority and there are more contests coming up.

So we're going to see Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. A lot of states come into play. Super Tuesday is big but it's going to end up mostly, almost certainly a stalemate between these two titan candidates.

CHETRY: Before we say goodbye, our question to the viewers today. Our "Quick Vote" question was about this dream team, Barack and Hillary or Hillary and Barack. Is that something that you think is viable politically at all?

HALPERIN: I've gone from thinking it was zero percent chance to now thinking it's 3 percent chance. So up a little bit, but still very unlikely.

CHETRY: Mark Halperin, senior political analyst at "Time" magazine, author of the "Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President." Good to see you this morning. Thanks

HALPERIN: See you soon, thanks.


ROBERTS: There is concern, Kiran, for parents about a chemical threat in baby lotions and shampoo. We'll find out what parents can do just ahead in AMERICAN MORNING.

And we'll take you to one corner of the country that should get an awful lot of attention on Super Tuesday. Coming right up.


ROBERTS: It's coming up on 24 minutes after the hour. Some lawmakers in Mississippi are trying to make a point about weight and health. They want to make it illegal for restaurants to serve people defined as obese. They now pushing a bill that would force the Mississippi Health Department to provide restaurants with written criteria for spotting obese people.

The department would also be required to monitor restaurants to make sure that they are following the guidelines. The bill now sits in a public health subcommittee where lawmakers say it would die even without a vote. Mississippi has ranked number one in the nation for obesity for the past three years.

Well, it's time for this morning's "HotShots". It looks like a paint palette, but it's really hundreds of people holding umbrellas. They're all trying to get aboard trains out of Guangzhou, China this morning. The country is now on its fourth week of wet and snowy weather. People are trying to get home in time for the annual Lunar New Year holiday.

And if you've got a hot shot, send it to us. Head to our website and follow the "Hotshots" link. Be sure to include your name, where you're from, a little bit about the picture or video and, one more thing, please make sure that the image is yours and not someone else's.


CHETRY: John, thanks. 24 minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business." You can never complain about being crowded in an airport or at a train after you see what it's like in China lately.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's kind of nuts. I'm just going to appreciate all the space we have.

You know, we're talking about, the Senate is looking at the stimulus bill that the House passed last week. And here's the good and the bad news. There's some people think the stimulus bill is a really good idea. It's really going to help the economy. Others say it's going to do absolutely nothing.

The Senate is looking at not just the idea of giving people a rebate check. There are a couple of other things that are on the table as well, including extending unemployment benefits to people who are on unemployment lines for longer or in fact instituting tax cuts that are little more permanent. A lot of criticisms and advantages just to any of these ideas. The issue, of course, is if it gets stuck in the Senate and doesn't move quickly. One of the problems with unemployment insurance extensions versus a rebate. One economist says that if you extend people's unemployment benefits, there's more money that actually ends up going into the economy. For every dollar that is spent on extending unemployment benefits, $1.64 goes into the economy. Whereas for every dollar spent on giving people a rebate check, $1.24 goes into the economy.

So there is some sense that one may be better than the other. The problem, of course, is that as we slow down in this economy, something needs to be done soon and this could end up getting bogged down in the Senate. So we're following very closely what the Senate is going to do.

The issue here now, of course, is what these candidates say about what needs to be done, because this is what needs to be done now. What about later on? What happens if this slowdown ends up lasting a long time?

CHETRY: Exactly. And as we talked about before, it's something that has to happen quickly, the economists say and it doesn't look like it's heading down that road.

VELSHI: Right. You know, the danger, of course, is when people get money in their hands, what will they do with it? There are more people in debt now and our debt is greater than it was the last time we had these rebates. So will people spend it or will they put into their -- you know, will they pay down their savings or their debt?

CHETRY: Which defeats the purpose if they decide to do that.

VELSHI: Right.

CHETRY: All right. Maybe good for their own. Help for the economy. Ali, thanks.


ROBERTS: The idea popped up, Kiran, last week during the Democratic debate here in CNN in Los Angeles. Could Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama join forces on a single ticket? Both candidates say they're making history now, but didn't completely rule out the idea.

However, analysts say each one's political ambition is too large to settle for second fiddle to the other. There's also the idea just their very presence at the White House in the subordinate role of vice president might sort of undermine the other one. Sort of this idea.

Well, I wonder what it would have been like if Obama were president or Hillary were president. That would really undermine their ability to get anything done.

That brings us to this morning's "Quick vote" question. Regardless of who wins the nomination, should Clinton and Obama become running mates? While you certainly think it's a good idea. Right now, 61 percent of you say yes, 39 percent say no. Cast your vote at We will continue to update the votes for you throughout the morning.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." While a lot of the Super Tuesday attention will go to the big states, there is one little spot in the country where four key states meet. We'll take a look at politics in the four corners, that's coming up.

And they're found in scores of consumer products. Now a new study says babies may be exposed to chemical foliates through some commonly used products. That story in today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Live look this morning of one of our tower cameras overlooking the city of Manhattan. If you look closely, there are snowflakes. You can see them come by every couple of seconds here. Our crews saying that they're big and white but probably not going to stick at this point. It's 37 degrees, already pretty warm for any snow to stick on the ground. A high today of 42 in New York City. So we asked for snow. I mean, how much can you really ask for here in New York, John? The Giants win big. They win the Super Bowl and now we have a couple snowflakes. Anything can happen this winter, apparently.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: I got your snow for you, Kiran. Enough snow here in Chicago for both this city and New York and the snow flurries keep coming down today. Good morning. Welcome. We are at Manny's Delicatessen in the south loop area of Chicago a very popular place for locals to hang out, talk a lot of politics here as well. Speaking of politics, Super Tuesday is this huge contest, a total of 24 states between the republicans and the democrats. There's a couple of states that don't cross over which is why there were 24 despite of the fact there are 22 contests for the democrats, 21 for republicans opinion. Thousands of delegates up for grabs but yesterday the magic number was 18. That's the number of delegates that Mitt Romney picked up by winning the Maine caucuses. We came up with final totals here. Romney won 52%. McCain in second, 21%. Ron Paul fairly strong showing, 19%. Mike Huckabee came in with 6%. We should say 18 delegates in the state of Maine for Mitt Romney is only one fewer than John McCain picked up in South Carolina, where he got 19. Of course, here in Illinois, the big contest is between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both of them calling Illinois home, a one point or another.

Lynn Sweet with "Chicago Sun-Times" join uses this morning. The state of Illinois, Hillary Clinton was born and raised here. Barack Obama, it's his adopted home. But he is far ahead of her. What's going on?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, she left. He stayed. That's why he's still the favorite son, and he's got overwhelming sentimental and local support, and substantive support here. A lot of his urban money made this presidential bid possible came from the deep pockets of his Chicago donors. He's got a huge, huge local base here.

ROBERTS: This is going to be his headquarters tomorrow night. Hillary Clinton will be in New York watching the returns come in. In New York, she's suspected to kill him as badly as he's expected to beat her here in Illinois?

SWEET: Both hope to make inroads. Interesting because the democrats do proportional voting. It's not winner takes all. Each has popularity, it makes perfect sense to do campaigning here and there and also just to kind of let each other know they're around, which is why you've seen campaigning in both of the states.

ROBERTS: You got in from California late, late last night. While Illinois looks like it will go for Barack Obama and New York go heavily for Hillary Clinton, California, too close to call. Obama pulled out Oprah Winfrey again yesterday and Maria Shriver, the first lady of California, came out for him. How important is that?

SWEET: Important, because in California Obama's looking for crossover, republican and independent voters and he's trying to cut into Hillary Clinton's female base what she's working on hardest in California. No better way to do that than with that all-female lineup. The only man on the program came by accident, Stevie Wonder came by. So, of course, he was on the stage and he did a little a cappella singing.

ROBERTS: A lot of the buzz is for Obama in the golden state because of the fact he's beginning to come up in the polls. Hillary Clinton has a long and rich history in that state. Would that potentially favor her tomorrow?

SWEET: It does. And I would think if you're a Clinton supporter you just want the election to happen now. But she has to get her running start, Californians started voting January 7th. A lot of the ballots already in the mail. The rest of the deciders are the ones Obama is going after now.

ROBERTS: So if you look at the national polls, our latest CNN poll has Obama up by three. But a poll shows Hillary Clinton up by two. Do those national numbers translate to what's going to happen tomorrow? You can say it's almost like a national primary, but we count state by state here.

SWEET: Right. It's good. It's an answer to a different question. It gives you a good sense that Obama has come up -- those numbers mean basically they're neck and neck. Doesn't necessarily predict what will happen in these 22 different states. No. We look at national politics to get a sense of a bigger picture but you have to look state by state to figure how many delegates will happen. California, for example, you could have a popular vote winner and you could still have Obama and Clinton almost divide the vote because of how they count them.

ROBERTS: We talk about, of the time, about a race for delegates and a very complex formula on the democratic side of things. Could we get into a scenario where by the time all of these primaries finished they're basically neck and neck in the delegate count and it's unto the so-called super delegates to determine the final outcome? SWEET: Absolutely. And quickly, a super delegate is somebody who automatically goes to the nominating convention, for example, a governor a mayor, all the democratic members of congress. That's why they're the most sought-after people right now, because the ones who have them locked in, that gives you more numbers. It's all part of like in a restaurant, part of your menu, part ever the recipe. So many super delegates, so many delegates to get to the number you need for the nomination.

ROBERTS: Hearkening back to the old days here of American politics where these decisions were made in this filled room. Lynn Sweet of the "Chicago Sun-Times," thanks for being with us. Good to talk to you. Kiran?

CHETRY: Well, you were talking about delegates, John, and a lot of attention goes to the delegate-rich states like California and New York, but the race could actually come down to swing states in the west. On Super Tuesday, keep an eye on the states that make up what's called the four corners; Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. We sent AMERICAN MORNING's Ed Lavandera to find out what voters there are looking for in a president.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To understand the personality of voters in the four corners, just listen to what Bob Beckley did when he catered lunch for Bill Clinton and his white house staff eight years ago in New Mexico.

BOB BECKLEY, THREE RIVERS BREWERY OWNER: For some reason or another, the Clinton administration decided not to pay their bill. That was kind of a fun day to be able to send a collection letter to the white house and let things rumble.

LAVANDERA: There's an irreverent independent streak across this landscape where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah intersect. It's also a fast growing, diverse, where you'll find oil and gas good old boys, like Glen Shoemaker. He wants a president who will end the country's oil dependence.

GLEN SHOEMAKER, COLORADO RESIDENT: I ride my bike and there's tons of snow on the ground. If I wasn't going to right my bike, I would walk.

LAVANDERA: In this Durango, Colorado barber shop, we met Dwight Saunders, a conservative Christian pastor with an army ranger son. National security is his top issue. For him it's either McCain or Huckabee.

DWIGHT SAUNDERS, PASTOR: I'm looking for personal values, a person who will live their value, a person who will lead according to values that are strong.

LAVANDERA: From this very spot, a presidential candidate can reach out into four states and 29 electoral votes; ten in Arizona, five in New Mexico, nine in Colorado and five more in Utah and this spot is also the epicenter of the political battleground in the southwest, because with the exception of Utah, democrats and republicans have enjoyed success here in recent elections.

Pam Marshall is looking for the best health care plan. She depends on Colorado's children's health insurance to cover her two daughters for $35 a year but still has to pay $220 a month for private insurance to cover herself and her husband. That's tough on a waitress salary.

PAM MARSHALL, COLORADO RESIDENT: Most people we know really have to grapple whether to go to the doctor or not.

LAVANDERA: Across the region, we found many undecided voters, both republican and democrat. Out here political talk is cheap.

BECKLEY: I guess that's what I'm looking for is somebody who wants to be straight up.

LAVANDERA: By the way, the Clinton white house eventually paid that $111 lunch tab. To Bob Beckley, it's a reminder, politicians are slow to deliver.


CHETRY: In addition to those four states, 20 other states will be up for grabs tomorrow on Super Tuesday.

And remember, CNN is your home for the most political coverage on Super Tuesday. 40 nonstop hours and it all kicks off right here on AMERICAN MORNING tomorrow, 6:00 a.m. And Wednesday we'll be live, 5:00 a.m. eastern time.

Could some common baby products pose a toxic danger to your infant? Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has some answers for parents.

And it was only five months ago the football season started. Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills suffered a spinal cord injury on the field. It's been a long road for Everett but he's back on his feet and we talked to him about his moving, inspirational recovery ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: An alarming study for parents about baby lotions, powders and shampoos. It's a small study but it found that chemicals called phthalates in those products can maybe get absorbed through the baby's skin. CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us. We talked about phthalates before. These are the chemicals that make plastics either hard or soft in some of the baby bottles and things like that. Now we're worried about lotions and shampoos that we put on our kids?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Because when you buy these lotions, products for kids you don't think, goody, I'll getting phthalates. People don't know what they phthalates are. Chemicals and don't have to be identified on the label. You're not going to see it on the packaging which has a lot of people very unhappy. Let's first talk about what this study found. This study, they looked at 163 babies and they found that 80%, these are just randomly chosen babies, had seven or more phthalates in their urine. That's a lot. That's means that they were exposed, that the phthalates were absorb and then they be at least in part excreted out. That has a lot of people calling for better labeling, because how do you know if you're even buying products with these? It's not like you can go to adult products. Those often have phthalates.

CHETRY: Right and the reasons that we don't see them listed as an ingredient is because there's really no definitive word on exactly what the danger in phthalates is. But what are some of the anecdotal things people worry about?

COHEN: Right and the industry points out, the folks that make these point out, there is no definitive link between phthalates and any disease but there have been some animal studies that suggest that absorbing these products year after year could cause some reproductive problems later in life. So that's what a lot of people have in mind. Is there a direct, absolute link proven? No, there's not.

CHETRY: It is interesting, though, because there are companies that try to market themselves with the whole or organic in that situation. I've seen baby bottles that now advertise phthalate free. Could we see that trend with lotions and other baby products as well?

COHEN: Yes and there are some products out there. Some people have gotten smart and have made products without phthalates and advertise it as such. If you want to, that's one route to go. Another route to go is that you could use a product, just use a tiny amount of it. I mean little babies and we're mostly talking about younger than eight months where you saw this effect. They don't need a lot whole of shampoo. They don't need a whole lot of lotion. Most of the time they don't need any lotion. Don't use much and you don't have to bathe them every day. Now one pediatrician we talked about mentioned something that you had mentioned to me.

CHETRY: It was olive oil.

COHEN: He says he tells his patients put a little olive oil on the skin.

CHETRY: At least you know what you're getting.

COHEN: Right. Exactly. That's a relatively regulated substance as well.

CHETRY: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you. John?

ROBERTS: 44 minutes now after the hour. With contests from California to Massachusetts, North Dakota to Georgia, the weather could play a big part in the turnout on Super Tuesday. Reynolds Wolf is in for Rob Marciano. He's in the weather center in Atlanta. What are we looking at for tomorrow there, Reynolds? REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are looking at a mess, my friend. We've got this big storm system that today in the Rockies is going to create some heavy snowfall. Once it moves eastward, it's going to tap into a lot of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and that combination as we get to the early morning hours out to the west, we'll see severe weather pop up into the midday hours possibly the afternoon, too. A chance of some damaging winds and violent tornadoes, maybe even a bit of flash flooding.

Now to give you a step-by-step time frame as to when this might happen, I want you to take a look at the clock up here. These are the latest computer models, by the way, indicating where the precipitation will be heaviest. At 11:30 in the morning, these are times that are eastern, spots like Missouri, let's say around 9:00, or rather 10:00, 10:30 in the morning, you're going to have some showers forming in the west but as we make our way through the midday hours into the evening. Around 6:00 p.m., we're going to see most showers forming out to parts of western Missouri into parts of Arkansas too. In Tennessee, believe it or not, the way it looks now, Tennessee should be okay through much of the day tomorrow. Now conditions are looking better. However, as we get to the overnight hours into tomorrow, that's where we're going to see that line really begin to intensify into parts of Kentucky, Tennessee even into northern and central Alabama, could get mighty rough.

Other spots around the nation, look what happens. The frontal boundary moves through and something comes in behind it. A lot of cold air, daytime highs dropping in Billings, Minneapolis-St. Paul, 26. Chicago, 38 degrees. 24 in Kansas City. The other side of the dividing line a chance of severe weather but temperatures significantly warmer. Atlanta 73. Dallas 63. 76 in Houston. Miami 1. New York 55 back in Salt Lake City, 29. Good to see California finally getting a break. They've had rough weather to deal with over the past several weeks. John, you'll be okay through much of the day tomorrow. Back to you.

ROBERTS: Oh good. All right. We were expecting much of our day might be spent trying to get back to New York from Chattanooga. Any relief we get would be welcomed. Reyholds, thanks very much.

Back to New York and here's Kiran.

CHETRY: We have an inspirational interview coming up, after only a few months after NFL player Kevin Everett suffered at the time they called a catastrophic injury to his spine, he's back on his feet. How he made it back when everybody thought he might not walk again. Our one-on-one interview ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: 4 1/2 months ago Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett lay paralyzed on the field after this hit left him unable to move. Doctors even questioned whether Everett would ever walk again. Since then, he has certainly proved them wrong. Kevin Everett joins me now to talk about his new life and his new book appropriately called "Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story." Great to see you this morning, Kevin.


CHETRY: You write about some of the first things that came out of the doctors' mouths after you were injured, things like catastrophic, questions about whether or not it was going to be fatal. What was going through your mind after you were hit and could not move on the field?

EVERETT: Just, you know -- I was in shock. Worried a little bit, but you know, reality set in real quick, realizing that I was paralyzed, and I mean, I was really just, you know, thinking about my family also laying there.

CHETRY: You also describe what it must have been like for your mother who was watching it on a big screen television, and your fiance, who actually was not watching the game at the time. What was the first thing you said to them?

EVERETT: I told them I loved them and was doing okay, and I was really happy to see them. That's what I told them.

CHETRY: So since then you've made unbelievable strides. In fact, the first sign of optimism is that you were able to lift a finger in the early days after that. What do attribute your ability to come back from what many thought may have been permanent paralysis?

EVERETT: I just you know, give people hope and I gave myself hope during that time when I was able to move my limbs. I was very fortunate things worked out.

CHETRY: You were asking at first, why god? Why me? And then after that you found a lot of comfort through prayer. Has this entire experience made you more religious?

EVERETT: You know it made me move closer to god. You know. I was on that path anyway. And, I mean it just opened up my eyes to many different things.

CHETRY: How much of your recovery and the fact you were able to, within two weeks, stand on your own, how much of that was your own perseverance in the physical therapy and how much was just what they describe as maybe a medical marvel?

EVERETT: I think had a lot to do with just my physical condition. I was in top notch shape, the best condition of my life, and I think that played a major part in my recovery. Thank god for that.

CHETRY: We understand that in fall 2009 you're going to marry your fiance. You guys are having your wedding.


CHETRY: What are your other plans? EVERETT: I plan on, you know, just entering the business world as far as opening up some businesses and hopefully just expecting the best on that end right there.

CHETRY: Are your days on the field behind you, do you think?

EVERETT: As far as right now, they are. And I'm just focusing on my health and my family right now.

CHETRY: You said everybody likes an underdog and you described it, an underdog story unlikely and then suddenly you were able to come back from what many thought would have been a permanent paralysis?

EVERETT: Right. Everybody thought I wasn't going to be able to walk or move anything at all, and you know, thanks to god, you know, I'm doing good now, and I can't expect nothing else.

CHETRY: We know a lot of our viewers followed your story. A lot of people said a lot of prayers for you and it's great to see you sitting in front of me. You look fabulous. Kevin Everett and the book is called "Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story," thanks for being with us.

EVERETT: Thank you.

ROBERTS: So fortunate.

Coming up to 54 after the hour and a quick look now at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM." The first suicide attack in Israel in a year; the last full day on the campaign trail before Super Tuesday voting; President Bush submits a record $3 trillion budget; police track the shooter who killed five women in a Chicago area store robbery; and Giants' fans celebrate their team's stunning super bowl upset. "NEWSROOM," top of the hour on CNN.


ROBERTS: Here in Chicago the race for the nomination is the ultimate cross town rivalry. Hillary Clinton grew up in Park Ridge. It's a suburb northwest of downtown Chicago. Barack Obama has lived in or near Hyde Park on Chicago's south side since the mid-1980s. Hillary Clinton's political life took root in high school. We caught up with her youth pastor who told us more about that.


Even on a snowy day, much of Park Ridge looks the same as when a young Hillary Clinton once called it home; the elementary school where she was co-captain of the safety patrol; the Pickwick Restaurant where she ordered hamburgers topped with chopped green olives and the high school where she was a so called Goldwater girl, a reference to her support of then republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Most everyone was republican in Park Ridge in 1964. PAUL GREEN, ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY: It would have been a lot cozier for her to remain a Goldwater girl. Go into corporate law. Marry some rich suburban guy and lived in Lake Forest and have a big house, and have a very easy life. She chose the other way.

ROBERTS: That other way, of course, led her to the white house as first lady, and on to New York as a democratic senator. But the transformation from Goldwater girl to liberal lightning rod began here in Park Ridge when she was a teenager.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My youth minister from our church took a few of us down on a cold January night to hear someone that we had read about, we had watched on television, we had seen with our own eyes from a distance, this phenomenon known as Dr. King.

ROBERTS: Reverend Don Jones is the youth minister who introduced Hillary to Dr. King here at Orchestra Hall. He also took her on trips from Park Ridge to Chicago's south side.

What are you trying to expose a young Hillary Rodham to at that time and how did she respond to it?

REV. DON JONES, HILLARY CLINTON'S YOUTH MINISTER: Well, one of the things I tried to do is to open up eyes to a wider world that, other than what they were experiencing.

ROBERTS: Jones said Hillary's political shift to a left was a process that took years, detailed in the many letters she wrote him while a student at Wellesley.

JONES: My opinions are being liberalized.

ROBERTS: Jones isn't sure why he saved all the letters and photos. Perhaps he said a premonition that the one-time republican was destined for something big.

As much of an impression as you made in her young life, she also made one on you?

JONES: She did indeed and she still does. I learn from her, and she inspires me.

ROBERTS: Reverend Jones says the greatest quality that she has from her early days that would take her to the white house and serve her well is her compassion, and caring for others.

CHETRY: That was neat to get a slice of both the roots of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both there in Illinois. A final check of this morning's "Quick Vote" question, we asked, regardless who wins the nomination, should Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton become running mates? Would that be the dream team? 62% of you saying yes, 38% of you saying no. For all who voted, thanks so much.

Thanks for joining us this morning on AMERICAN MORNING. Tomorrow I guess is when it really gets fun huh John? ROBERTS: It does, definitely. Fun from a number of different angles. We're going to be in Chattanooga, Tennessee tomorrow and just getting home from there given the weather could be a challenge, but what a day it's going to be. I'll see you from Chattanooga tomorrow. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins begins right now.

COLLINS: Good morning.