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G.M.'s Giant Loss; Potomac Primaries Are Today; Drugs in Baseball; Earthquake in Mexico; Bill Gates Leaves Facebook

Aired February 12, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We're watching breaking news this morning for workers and homeowners. First out of Detroit, General Motors reporting a loss of close to $39 billion last year.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: At the same time, the company is also offering a buyout plan to some 74,000 hourly workers. Senior business correspondent Ali Velshi is watching this and, did I say that wrong? It is $74,000?


CHETRY: Not sure exactly how many will take it but they're trying to level the playing field, if you will, with some of their other competitors.

VELSHI: This is one thing automakers have gotten right, buying out their workers. Now they are very uneasy about their jobs. So General Motors coming in with the biggest annual loss of any U.S. automotive company ever in history, $38.5 billion with a "b."

Now, a lot of that has to do with the tax write down. General Motors said that 60 percent of all the cars it sold in 2007 were sold not in the United States. Now in an effort to further reduce its unionized workforce, it's offering this buyout between 45,000 and $65,000 to all 74,000 hourly workers in the United States. They will get full pension and health benefits if they take the deal. The down side, if you don't take the deal, you stand being laid off, again if there's another round of cuts.

What will happen is 16,000 workers can be replaced as non assembly line workers at half the wage they pay non assembly line workers. So the hope is that many of these workers will take this buyout deal. General Motors, Ford, Chrysler have all tried this in the past and met with great success. Upwards of 30 percent to 40 percent of workers are taking the deal.

The second big story we're working on is sometime around 11:00 or 11:30 this morning we'll hear from the treasury secretary about an enhanced plan to help people who are in trouble with their mortgages. It's called Project Lifeline. It is going to involve giving people who are 90 days or more late with their payments a 30-day break. They are going to get 30 days before the bank -- usually after 90 days, the bank institutes foreclosure measures. People are going to get a 30- day break to work out better terms with their bank. It's going to basically force the discussion with the bank. What happens is banks call, tell people they have to make their payment. People are intimidated. They say they're going to make their payment and the big discussion is not had. Here are the banks involved. Others may get involved. This deal was made with Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide Financial, J.P. Morgan, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo.

We will, of course, keep you up to date on both of these developments and any other business news that comes our way this morning. Lots of it already.

CHETRY: All right, Ali. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: CNN equals politics. We turn to the race for the presidency. Primaries today that will have a significant impact on both parties. Voters are heading to the polls right now in Maryland, Washington, D.C., in Virginia in the Potomac Primary. The Democrats will be splitting 168 total delegates in those three contests. The Republicans will divvy up 113 total delegates.

Senator Hillary Clinton is not anywhere near the beltway. She's moving on to campaign in Texas. That's where CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is. She joins us live from El Paso. So the Clinton camp looking way ahead to the Texas primary which isn't until March the 4th.

Is that a sign they are conceding victory in the Potomac Primary to Barack Obama?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they aren't conceding victory yet but they have acknowledged they believe that Barack Obama does have quite a bit of support in all three of those primaries. It's likely he may come out ahead in all of them. They are still trying to emphasize they believe Virginia is competitive. They are looking at some of the excerpts of Washington, D.C., where there are federal employees, military families and soccer moms. They think they can make inroads there.

She has been talking about the economy. She's been talking about health care. So the hope is that she will at least come out with some delegates, a good number of delegates to make her competitive moving forward.

John, you bring up a good point here. They are almost putting that in a rear-view mirror saying we're moving forward here because Texas is the big prize and Senator Clinton feels she is very strong here. Nearly half of the Democratic voters in Texas are Latino, from the Latino community. Already she's performed very well in California, New York.

So they are counting on that group to really bring home a win in the next couple of weeks, John.

ROBERTS: There's a growing feeling, Suzanne, when it comes to Texas and Ohio, which are both on the same day, she's got to win and win big if she wants to keep going. MALVEAUX: Absolutely. And one reason why she has to do that is because this is not only a race over delegates but clearly the idea of perception really matters as well. You've got two weeks before this big contest with Ohio and Texas.

If she loses basically the states, the three primaries today, then what she needs to do is overcome that sense that the perception that her campaign is a failing campaign, that she can't win in these primaries in these states. And so that is going to be important for the nearly 800 super delegates. We're all looking at this saying is she electable and is she competitive and the possible people who may endorse her in the weeks ahead.

ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning from El Paso, Texas. Suzanne, thanks.

The next debate is all set, Texas showdown for Obama and Clinton hosted by CNN, Univision and the Texas Democratic party. It's being held at the University of Texas in Austin. Watch it live on CNN at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

CHETRY: Well, Senator John McCain is trying to lock up today's three primaries in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. by proving he can rally support from conservatives. Voting take place right now. And his campaign announcing endorsements from Jeb Bush, as well as evangelical leader Gary Bauer. Bauer praised McCain for his anti-abortion stance.

McCain also turned down nearly $6 million of federal matching funds to fund his campaign. The federal election commission says McCain requested it last summer when his campaign was nearly broke but now as the front-runner, McCain has decided against it. That allows him to take in and spend more money in the general election.

Mike Huckabee says he's staying in the Republican race, ignoring calls to drop out saying he will not leave until someone has the majority of delegates.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An interesting thing has been happening since the last week, the national media tried to say, well, the election is over. And the nomination is all secured. Someone forgot to tell me that because I decided that until somebody gets 1,191 delegates, by the rules that have been design bid the very party bosses who now want to shut it down, they said that's what it took to win. Until somebody gets that, we are in this race for you and for every other conservative American who wants a choice.


CHETRY: Huckabee says he'll bow out if McCain gets the needed majority of delegates. That may not happen until the Pennsylvania primary April 22nd.

We'll have results of the three primaries taking place. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. It's all in the CNN Election Center at 8:00 Eastern tonight.

Meanwhile, our Alina Cho is here with other stories new this morning. If you were one of the millions yesterday, you noticed this thing isn't quite working.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was either good news or bad news depending on how close a friend your blackberry is.

CHETRY: Also interesting to get the messages saying attention, service is out. Three hours later.

CHO: The actual computer worked. It was just the BlackBerry didn't work for a couple of hours. It was scary for a lot of people. If you are one of the millions of Americans addicted to your Blackberry, you can breathe a lot easier this morning.

Service has been restored after a massive outage that lasted about three hours yesterday. It's the second time in the past year that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has experienced a major outage. Still no word on what caused this most recent crash. BlackBerry phone service was not affected.

The Justice Department is announcing major arrests in two separate spy cases, both involving the sale of U.S. military secrets. The Feds say the arrests happened in Virginia, Louisiana and Southern California and were not related. Four men have been charged with spying on the United States for the Chinese government.


KENNETH WAINSTEIN, ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The threat is very simple. It's a threat to our national security and to our economic position in the world. A threat that is posed by the relentless efforts of foreign intelligence services to penetrate our security systems and steal our most sensitive military information.


CHO: One of the suspects is a Chinese native who spied out of a love for the mother land, not to make money.

The writers' strike could officially end today and the writers could be back to work as early as tomorrow. Members of the Writers' Guild of America are expected to vote in favor of ending the three- month-old strike. With the writers back at work, that means your favorite shows could be back on the air in as little as four to six weeks. That is good news.

The cost of a stamp is going up again. The U.S. postal service says starting in May, it will cost you a penny more, 42 cents, instead of 41. It always seems to go up. The forever stamp will always work, of course. And if you are mailing priority or express mail, those prices will go up, too. Details on those price increases will be announced later.

For the first time in nearly 70 years, the beagle is King. This is Uno, winner of the hound group at the annual Westminster Dog Show. He's just 15 pounds and about three-years-old. It's the first time a beagle has been crowned the hound champ since 1939. Look at him being checked out there. Uno heads to the final seven and a chance at best in show tonight. No beagle, by the way, has ever won that honor.

Mark your calendars. In just two weeks, 7,100 Starbuck stores across the nation, Kiran, will close their doors. They are closing for about three hours on February 26th from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. local time. Starbucks will shut down temporarily. Why: to retrain some 135,000 employees. And that retraining, by the way, will include a refresher course on making the perfect shot.

Kiran and I just missed each other at Starbucks every morning.

CHETRY: There's been a couple of days they've been shut down for various reasons and we've been banging on the window.

CHO: They are our friends so they open up for us.

CHETRY: Exactly. We love them for it.

ROBERTS: Deep freeze across the northeast. Two feet of snow came down in upstate New York. Sadly for Kiran, none in Manhattan. Police say outside Rochester there was a car stuck on the side of the road every 30 feet. Be thankful we didn't get that snow. Other cars and trucks were buried before you could put them in drive. Wind- chills below zero across the region yesterday.

Rob Marciano at our weather update desk tracking the extreme weather. How is it going to be today?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Similar, but in different spots, John. Good morning, everybody.

A serious winter storm rolling up the Ohio Valley. There are warnings posted for a good chunk of it. In the red, here you go, not only snow but more importantly, freezing rain falling on top of that snow. We had reports of four inches of snow falling in Louisville and now we're getting significant icing on top of that.

So, from Paducah all the way up to Cleveland, winter storm warnings posted for just a nasty mix of snow changing to freezing rain and then maybe a little bit of rain. But some spots that got freezing rain yesterday are still iced over. Look at all this heavy rain from Bowling Green to Clarksville heading into the subfreezing air. That's why we're getting significant ice storms that are below freezing.

Little Rock, significant line of thunderstorms rolled through your area earlier, as is Dallas. This has produced -- this line has produced heavy winds moving eastward at 50 miles an hour and some hail also. All right. A lot of this moisture is heading into some bitterly cold air. It's 6 in Buffalo. It's 9 in Albany. It's 17 in New York City.

So what's going to happen when this hits the I-95 corridor? It should start as snow and change to freezing rain. By this time tomorrow, folks who live along this area will see it change over. But north and west of the city, that will be a little bit more of a headache to say the least. Welcome to winter.

John, back up to you.

ROBERTS: If Kiran wants her snow, she has to get that sled out quickly.

MARCIANO: Get it out this afternoon and enjoy it through this evening and then get to bed.

CHETRY: Two hours of fun on the flexible flyer and that's all.

MARCIANO: That's all you need. You're going to get cold and wet anyways. A couple of hours is all you need.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Rob.

CHETRY: Still ahead, we know heart disease can be a killer. What about what it can do to your brain? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at our medical update desk this morning with an interesting answer.

Hey, Sanjay.


It is pretty interesting. The American Heart Association and the Alzheimer's Association actually got together to survey people to figure out how many people actually knew about the connections between the heart and the brain. And the answer is sort of interesting. Only about 1 in 10 people actually recognized there's a direct connection here.

What is good for the heart is often good for the brain. A lot of people don't realize that, but heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, there's been a lot of evidence, obviously, that those things can lead to heart disease early on. But they can also lead to the same problems in the brain.

Think of it like this, Kiran. When your heart is not working well, it typically pumps about one-fifth of its blood supply to the brain. It's not working well, you're getting less blood to the brain. But even more than that, the things that affect the heart, the plaque- building diseases affect the arteries that leaded to the brain, the carotid arteries up here. The message is the same in what to do about it in keeping your numbers in good shape.

Looking at your blood pressure for example, keeping it under 120 over 80. Blood sugar levels, get that checked as well, below 100. Cholesterol below 200. Even lower if you have a family history or some other risk factor. Obviously, keep your recommended weight in check as well. Kiran, there are some definite connections there. But the good news is modifying those risk factors help both.

CHETRY: It's also interesting because you can get heart bypass surgery when you have a lot of clogging, angioplasty to clear some of those arteries. Can you do anything if it's affecting the blood supply to your brain?

GUPTA: Absolutely. In fact, there's been a lot of studies specifically looking at operating on the carotid artery. People as they get older if they have specific risk factors, can get an ultrasound of the carotid artery and if there's a certain percentage of narrowing, typically around 70 percent.

Doctors say, even if you've never had a problem with a stroke or a TIA or anything like that, but it's worth it removing some of that plaque. You can do similar operations. It's plumbing. It's plumbing in so many ways. It's plumbing in the heart in the neck for the arteries that go to the brain. It works in terms of staving off heart attacks and strokes.

CHETRY: Thanks. Good advice, Sanjay.

ROBERTS: Notice he's looking a little darker today. He just got back from a week in the sun.

CHETRY: He looks well rested.

ROBERTS: A look up in the sky. It's a big colorful glob of gas and it could tell us a lot about the birth of our solar system. Scientists explain coming up.

And former baseball pitcher John Rocker's shocking charge. The league told him how to use steroids.


JOHN ROCKER, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER: If you take one kind of steroid, you don't triple stack them and take them ten months out of the year. If you do it responsibly, it's not going to hurt you.


ROBERTS: Is it just outrageous talk from a controversial player or ammunition for a government committee? Our Sunny Hostin takes a look coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: A shot from a Cupid's arrow. "Quick Hits" now, this little piggy named Valentine. If you look, he has a heart shaped patch on his side. So it led farmers in England to give him the name Valentine. There it is.

Sunshine Street not living up to its billing. This is a street sign from Springfield, Missouri. You see all the icicles covering it. It was during one of the state's worst ice storms in years.

And it's the birth of a new solar system. This shot from NASA's Spitzer space telescope. It really is an amazing shot to see all the beautiful colors there. This shows a star-forming region more than 400 light years away. Astronomers say that it shows new stars forming with dusty disks of gas surrounding them. New planetary systems may also form from those clouds some day.

But such an amazing shot. Unbelievable we can capture it.

ROBERTS: Pretty incredible stuff. I remember as a kid, I used to sit up and look at the sky and wonder about things. It is enough to fry your brain.

New accusations about steroids in baseball. Just as pitcher Roger Clemens and his former trainer get ready to testify before congress, former pitcher John rocker is talking about the drug tests he failed back in 2000. Rocker says Commissioner Bud Selig knew about it and did nothing. His comments come a day before Roger Clemens is expected to testify before Congress. Clemens' former teammate and friend Andy Pettitte will not testify even though he has admitted to using human growth hormone.

Sunny Hostin is with us now. Let's talk about Rocker. But first of all, let's listen to what he told an Atlanta sports talk radio station yesterday.


ROCKER: In the year 2000, John Rocker was taking the juice, doesn't do anything about it. So right now, the Mitchell report and what Roger Clemens did, all this stuff, in Bud Selig's interpretation is to re-establish the integrity of the game. I'm concerned about the health of my players. No you're not. You are concerned about getting people off (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Excuse me if I can't use that language.


ROBERTS: So if Rocker's claims are true, does Bud Selig have any liability here or is this a case of he said/he said?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I think he could have liability. What's interesting is this Mitchell report was supposed to be the perceived closure to the steroids era. As Rocker says, it was to clean up baseball and put all of this behind everyone. People are looking at criminal liability I think at the very least. What we're seeing is federal investigators talking to people saying we still have this investigation ongoing.

Now, we have Roger Clemens going before congress. He has to testify as to whether or not he really did use steroids. And at this point, it's been reported at least that Pettitte is saying he did use steroids. It's been reported, of course, that his trainer is saying he used steroids. If he gets up there and he says, I never used steroids, he's looking at perhaps a Marion Jones situation where she lied about using steroids and now she'll be serving a six-month prison sentence.

ROBERTS: That is assuming that he did lie about it. I mean, he proclaims his innocence. But this investigation really is zeroing in on him. Pettitte was excused, I would imagine, because he told everything in closed-door testimony. HOSTIN: He did and that's a great place for Pettitte to be. He must have had a great attorney. You know the best place to be is at a deposition, closed deposition. You fall on your sword you say, I did this. He also spoke to Mitchell. What's interesting is that Clemens chose not to speak to him.

Typically, being a former prosecutor, when a target or even just a witness doesn't come in and speak to you, you think if you are the clean guy, why not come in and talk and get your name out of this. So it's very interesting that he didn't speak and that Pettitte did and now he doesn't have to go in front of congress, which is a good situation.

ROBERTS: We've heard many times the penalties for lying under oath in a court of law or lying under oath in a deposition. What are the penalties for lying under oath to congress?

HOSTIN: Well, they are fairly stiff. For perjury, it's typically at least six months. And no time in prison is good time. I've been to prisons and visited prisons. Anyone who has been there knows you don't want to be there for one day. I think we really have to listen to what he has to say. He's got three options. Either he admits to using steroids, which is probably the best thing to do if he did do it. Or plead the fifth and say I'm not going to say anything or continue along the course of what he said. So I'm going to be watching.

ROBERTS: I know. We'll get you back and get you to talk about this more.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Sunny Hostin, thanks -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Well, living to 100. We're going to be talking about that this morning. It's easier than you think, they say. Researchers telling us that even with disease, you can reach the century mark. We're asking the question this morning to our viewers. Would you want to? It's all coming up.

Also, a daring rescue: rough surf and a tough coastline as well in a boat in danger. People on board waiting to be rescued the choppers on the way. The amazing air lift video coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back.

Right now, we have some breaking news just coming in to AMERICAN MORNING right now. This is out of Mexico City. According to the Associated Press, they've been hit with a pretty strong earthquake taking place in southern Mexico this morning. The first report saying it struck at about 6:50 a.m. It's 7:50 a.m. eastern time. And that it was about 6.4 magnitude. We're going to check more, find out more details about whether there's any reports of damage or injuries because of this. Usually, oftentimes how deep it is into the ground when it hits also is a factor in how much damage happened. We'll keep an eye on it for you. But again a strong earthquake, 6.4 magnitude hitting southern Mexico this morning -- John?

ROBERTS: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour. Hot Shot time for you. A water rescue off the coast of northeastern Australia. A yacht ended up wedged on rocks overnight after a ride on rough waters. Rescue crews came down from a helicopter and pulled 32 passengers and crew members to safety. Emergency workers say no one was injured.

If you have a Hot Shot, send it to us on our Web site, Remember yesterday's Hot Shot? How could you forget it? The fireball that came flying down the racetrack in Pomona, California. Tony Pedregone was inside it and suffered second-degree burns to his hands when the car literally exploded. Turns out that his pregnant wife was watching as it happened.

We're going to be talking to both of them and show off Tony's singed racing suit at the bottom of the hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: New research from Boston University saying that living to 100 is actually much easier now than it ever has been. Even for people with chronic diseases. They are crediting people with aggressively treating conditions like high pressure, diabetes and heart disease rather than assuming it's too late when you get older.

We're talking with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about it at the top of the hour. It brings us to the Quick Vote question. Would you want to live past 100? It generated an interesting discussion in the NEWSROOM before the show. Split about 50/50 there and among our viewers, 52 percent saying yes, 50 percent saying no way. Cast your vote. and we'll tally your votes throughout the morning.

You're watching the most news in the morning.

Still ahead, Clinton versus Obama. In the final appeal to voters in and around our nation's capital, what they had to say with everything on the line.

Also, not just a presidential campaign. It's a cross-country endurance race. How do the candidates stay focused on their health? Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us with a closer look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on this Tuesday. I'm Kiran Chetry. Some breaking news.

ROBERTS: Yes. I'm John Roberts. Rob Marciano has the latest on a quake, a fairly strong one, east-southeast of Mexico City. What do we know about this, Rob? MARCIANO: Well, we do know it's a strong one at 6.4 magnitude. The depth of which though is pretty deep. It's at about 72 miles deep. So that would determine how much shaking went on, how much people felt it and how much damage went on as well. What we kind of highlighted.

By the way, it's about 390 miles south of Mexico City, about 270 miles northwest of Guatemala City, in the state of Chappas. It is -- this is what you are looking at here, these yellows and green kind of highlight how much shaking went on and what the U.S.G.S. kind of analyzes as it relates to it maybe a light damage in spots because this is considered to be moderate to moderate shaking going on.

Obviously, a lot depends on building codes and down in Mexico, it certainly not as strict as they would be in the United States. So, we'll have to see as we monitor pictures from television stations down there to see what kind of damage may have come from this. But the depth of it at 72 miles deep, that would indicate, well, maybe we didn't get as much shaking. Maybe not as much damage because of the depth. We certainly hope for that.

All right. Here we go across the U.S. We got our own problems as far as heavy wintry precipitation heading into very, very cold air. So, a winter storm watches or warnings are posted. Right along the Ohio River Valley, we have a slight risk of severe weather to the south and heavy snow potential across parts of the Great Lakes.

We're going to see an impact on travel for sure in the New York Metropolitan Airport. We'll see light snow developing later on the south at noon. So, get to the airport before that. Take an earlier flight if you can. 30 to 60-minute delays there. Cleveland, Cincinnati, you're in the ice deal. So could see an hour-plus.

Here's Cinci, Louisville. Louisville had four inches of snow. Now they are getting freezing rain. All this heavy rain heading into the subfreezing air. So significant icing has been taking place. Beginning yesterday morning around this time. Springfield, Missouri just got hammered with ice. They are still in the deep freeze.

And south of there, Little Rock, just south and east of Dallas, Texas, we're seeing a line of decent thunderstorms. Some of which have been severe this morning heading south and east at about 50 miles an hour.

John, back up to you.

ROBERTS: All right. Rob, thanks very much. Keep us updated on that earthquake. Let us know if there are any reports of damage.

MARCIANO: All right. Will do.

CHETRY: Well, we're following the latest this morning as well on a new plan to help people struggling with home loans. And this doesn't apply to people who just have the sub prime mortgages. The Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are announcing "Project Lifeline" that would allow homeowners whose payments are overdue to suspend foreclosures for 30 days while lenders try to create more affordable terms.

It applies to homeowners who are late with their payments by 90 days or more. And it involves the country's largest lenders, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Countrywide and others. Those lenders are already involved in a plan aimed solely at sub prime mortgages. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had been pushing to expand this plan to all home loans.

Firefighters in Georgia are still on the scene this morning of a deadly sugar refinery explosion. This happened near Savannah. Thermal imaging cameras found the fire is as much as 10 to 12 feet deep in some spots making it hard to reach for two workers still missing. Six workers died in that explosion and fire.

Russia's defense ministry saying that there is no flight violation when its bomber jet buzzed a U.S. aircraft this weekend. The jet flew twice over the "USS Nimitz" in the western Pacific at a low altitude, about 2,000 feet off of the deck. Russia's defense ministry says the flights are standard for air force training.

Well, just about 15 minutes, astronauts aboard the International Space Station will enter its newest compartment for the very first time. The crew spent eight hours installing the new Columbus laboratory yesterday. The $2 billion lab is the biggest contribution to the space station by the European Space Agency. It adds about 2,600 cubic feet to the outpost and it doubles its research capability.

Also, free wireless Internet service coming to Starbucks on a limited basis. Anyone who uses the Starbucks card can get free Wi-Fi for two hours per day as part of a deal between Starbucks and AT&T. Starbucks ending its deal with T-Mobile which has been the chain's Wi- Fi provider since it introduced the program six years ago.

ROBERTS: Well, this is one of the longest run-ups to an election in anyone's memory. More than a year now since some candidates announced, and they are still going today. How do they do it? What can you learn from them about staying energized and for the most part staying healthy.

We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay has a special this weekend on presidential health. Stress, I would imagine, has got to be the number one energy drainer on these candidates, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Yes, well, you know it's interesting, John. We've been looking specifically into that very issue and what we found is that certain personalities, especially those who run for president oftentimes actually thrive on stress. So, stress, as much as we thought it would be the biggest problem, really wasn't.

The bigger problem really was sleep deprivation, simply not getting enough sleep. We've spoken to many candidates about this. Senator Clinton says she sleeps wherever she can on cars, on buses, on planes. I think that's true probably for all the candidates, in terms of how they actually regulate their sleep. We know lack of sleep can have profound impact on your memory. It can make you more irritable. It can make you lose words for example when you're trying to speak. It can also, in worst cases, lead to some depression and anxiety. So, this is obviously a big concern.

Senator Clinton's husband obviously was famous for not sleeping very much as president. He told me that he only slept about 5 to 5.5 hours a night.

So you can get by, but it can be difficult. They all sort of have strategies to thwart the ill effects of sleep deprivation. One of the biggest one we heard about was exercise.

Senator Obama says he will play basketball. Governor Huckabee says he'll run a lot. And all the candidates told us they try and exercise as much as possible to try to get rid of some of these effects of the sleep deprivation. That was really the biggest problem more than anything else we saw, John.

ROBERTS: I mean the effects of sleep deprivation, Sanjay, because all of us who have been on the campaign trail have experienced and frightening at some time. There's some unorthodox ways that these candidates try to maintain their health. Hillary Clinton says she likes to eat a lot of hot peppers, jalapenos, yellow peppers. I don't know if she's into the habaneras. Could that possibly work?

GUPTA: She swears by it, John. She says really since '92 when she became First Lady of the country, she -- the spicy food has really helped her a lot. It's interesting.

Again, we looked into this specifically and peppers do have some, I guess, surprising health effects. Cayenne pepper, for example, can be good for pain. It can actually help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Curry powder can actually help with pain as well and reduce your risk of developing cancer later in life. So, as far as sleep deprivation, it helps modulate some of your sleep patterns. So, it can be helpful.

John, I know you, I mean, you hardly get any sleep at all. So, this may be something that you may want to try. It seems to work for her.

ROBERTS: You know, I heard her talking about it at the WJLA- Politico interview last night. And thinking to myself, I'm going to stop off downstairs in the whole foods and grab some jalapenos.

GUPTA: There you go.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks. Appreciate it. And Sanjay's special on presidential health is called "The First Patient. Health and the Presidency." This Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

CHETRY: I don't know if the hot peppers are going to help.

ROBERTS: I don't know if anything can help.

CHETRY: At some point you just need some shut eye.

ROBERTS: Maybe a week of sleep might help.

CHETRY: Well, voters in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are going to the polls right now, in fact. And last night many of them got to hear from democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They sat down with exclusive interviews with Washington affiliate WJLA and the "Politico."

Here's a little bit of what they said.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The most important question for people to answer is who they think would be the best president. And I'm really confident that is the question, what the answer is.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we're saying, you've got to be involved in this process if we're going to make a difference, if we're going to change how business is done in Washington.


CHETRY: WJLA anchor Leon Harris, formerly an anchor here at CNN, conducted the interview with John Harris of the "Politico." And Leon joins me from Arlington, Virginia this morning.

Good to see you this morning.

LEON HARRIS, WJLA ANCHOR: Good to see you, too.

Hey, listen. Tell John to hold off on getting the peppers because she didn't tell us what happens afterwards. She just told us about them giving her a good boost. That's all she said.

CHETRY: But you didn't get that far about the side effects.

When you did get the chance to talk to Hillary Clinton, you know, because there's been a lot of buzz about Barack Obama having a lot of momentum going into the voting today, did she acknowledge possibly some faltering or some pessimism in her campaign?

HARRIS: No, as a matter of fact, you guys have followed these kind of races and this kind of thing for a long time. I mean, you kind of go into it thinking there may be a sense of -- you may be able to detect a sense of where the candidate thinks they really are.

Never got that with her. She was confident from the moment she got her and sat down and talked with us all the way through and told us that she really believes this thing is going to be settled. There's not going to be any one of these, some any kind of a big dust up over superdelegates or anything like that. She was quite confident from the beginning of the interview all the through to the end.

CHETRY: What about Barack Obama? Is he acknowledging some of the momentum he seems to be building?

HARRIS: It was funny you should say that because what we tried to do with both of them, and we tried to be even handed with them. We gave them pretty much both the same question going in. The reason we wanted them together, we wanted them to do the interviews was to have them together on a debate.

But Barack Obama was resisting that idea. Senator Clinton wanted to. We said, well, if usually in these kind of cases, the candidate who doesn't want to debate either thinks they have the race firmly in hand or thinks that the other one is better at that format. I asked him which one do you think it is? He said, oh, I think the country has seen enough of us. 18 debates. Isn't that enough? He basically just totally dusted aside that entire issue. And she did the same exact thing.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting that you talk about the debates. Also, it seems Clinton did take a couple of jabs at Barack Obama in terms of who would fight the important fight. She said that you know, getting along isn't - well, she seemed to allude to it's not always an option that sometimes you got to stand up and fight for it.

HARRIS: Yes, and that was a point that I thought was fairly interesting. You know, throughout our interview with Barack Obama, we tried to give him some openings to really come out and set some stark differences between himself and her. And we thought that, you know, if not giving her some locker room material he would at least come out and try to at least make some points if you will. She jumped on that opportunity. He did not.

Every time we gave him that opening, he would say something like, well that's the politics of it. That's the old politics, Leon. We're trying to change all of that. She, however, did not hesitate to jump in there and say, hey, listen. I'm the kind of person who stood up over the years in every single role I've filled staking out principled positions. He has not done that. So she basically took chances like that and clearly established that she was willing to go ahead and attack him when he was not willing to attack her.

CHETRY: Very interesting. And also let's listen quickly to how she answered your question you asked her about the plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.


CLINTON: It's complicated, Leon. You know, we got to take care of our civilians. We have more than 100,000 Americans out there in all kinds of capacities. I think it would be appropriate that we take care of the Iraqis who translated and drove for and protected our troops. So this is not going to be easy to do, but I think you can take out one to two brigades a month.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Does that seemed to be a stronger stance than what we were hearing earlier in the campaign about, you know, a withdrawal happening fairly quickly after she took office?

HARRIS: Yes, she, as a matter of fact, did make a little bit of news as far as we were concerned with that. We thought she might just come out with the one statement she's been saying up till now that she would begin that process within 60 days.

She was quite clear that she was disappointed about the talk coming from the Pentagon now about holding up that process, and she said that clearly she would love to begin taking troops out and beginning getting most of the troops out of Iraq in her first year in office. She was quite clear about that saying one to two brigades at the minimum is what she'd like to get out of there.

CHETRY: Leon Harris, very interesting. You got a chance to sit down with both of them and sort of pick their brains as we were heading toward the big outcome today from the three -- Maryland, Virginia and D.C. voters, all heading to the polls today. We'll see how it all turns out. Great to talk to you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

HARRIS: Nice talking to you. By the way, you know, I left CNN so I could sleep past 7:00 a.m. That's the reason why I came to D.C. So, good to see you guys this morning.

CHETRY: I hear you well. We'll only bug you about once a year.

HARRIS: All right. You got it.

ROBERTS: Better start eating those peppers, Leon.

HARRIS: Don't hold your breath, pal.

ROBERTS: Good to see you, my friend. Thanks.

HARRIS: All right. Be good.

ROBERTS: Ahead, the stories behind these amazing pictures. We are talking to the man behind the wheel of this race car turned fireball. He walked away from it and he's in our studio to tell us all about it.

And they say breaking up is hard to do. Apparently, that's true, even with some social networking sites. Our Veronica de la Cruz looks at why deleting your profile is easier said than done. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



Microsoft founder Bill Gates says that he's a little bit too popular on Facebook and said that he's going to actually try to get off the social networking site for a while. Our Veronica de la Cruz is here to explain why that might be easier said than done. A lot of other people say, hey, it's like "Hotel California." You can check out but you can never leave.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You can never leave. That's right. And there was an interesting article today on the "Wall Street Journal," Kiran.

You know, Bill Gates, apparently he has decided to say no to Facebook. And that's because after, you know, pouring all this money into Facebook, Microsoft doing that. He admitted to using the social networking site 30 minutes a day and now received some 8,000 friend requests on a daily basis. So, he has no. He's abandoned his profile.

And now Gates might find out what other people have been realizing that when it comes to Facebook, breaking up can be really hard to do. You can deactivate your account but your personal data is not deleted. And according to the sites privacy page, removed information may persist in backup copies for a reasonable amount of time but will not be generally available to members of Facebook. That's on their privacy page.

I have to say this, we've seen many people claim that this is not true and they've contacted -- they've been contacted through their profile page even after deactivating their account.

So, a lot of people out there upset about this. There are lots of blogs out there. It's all over the Internet. There's even a Facebook group out there that's called "how to permanently delete your Facebook account." And right now, that group has about 6,125 members.

So people out there are saying, you know what, you can send e- mails, you can contact customer service, but overall, like you said, you can check out, but you can never leave.

CHETRY: Is there any recourse? Are they trying to address this to help people out?

DE LA CRUZ: I'm sure Facebook is now looking into it.

CHETRY: Thanks, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.

ROBERTS: Imagine living through something like this. A fiery race car explosion and the driver who walked away from it. He's here in the studio. We're talking to him live. You should be seeing pictures there of the car. There he is, Tony Pedregon and his wife who watched it all from home coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Oh, it's 51, almost 52 minutes after the hour. Incredible pictures of a race car fireball that happened in Pomona, California, at the Carquest Auto Parts Winter Nationals Drag Racing Competition. Tony Pedregon whose horsepower nitro funny car you'll see on the right gets about a quarter of the way down the track when his car erupts into a giant fireball. It exploded with parts spewing all over the track. Amazingly, he walks out of his disintegrated car.

And joining us now is two-time defending funny car champion Tony Pedregon, his wife Andrea is standing by in Michigan with the suit that likely saved his life. Great to see you here.

TONY PEDREGON, DRAG RACER WHO CHEATER DEATH: Well, I feel very fortunate to be here. You know, I think I got a good break and it's a testament to all the safety equipment that is involved in these race cars over the years.

CHETRY: A good break because if we can get a wider shot of you. You take a look at the car that literally looks like it exploded. I mean, it did explode. Here you are no worse for the wear except, what, you got some second-degree burns on one hand.

T. PEDREGON: Yes. I think that's amazing. Looking at the photos, I mean, I knew that it was, at the time, the worst experience that I had had in a race car. The fire was so intense. And I knew at the moment that it exploded that the first thing I had to do was try to slow the car down. You know, again, I knew I was at a high rate of speed.

I was aware of my competitor in the other lane. I kept trying to grab the brake. You know, again, you can see the fire was right there in my face, and it was -- as I was reaching for the brake it continued to just penetrate the equipment. But I've got to shake the hand of the guy that makes the fire equipment because it did its job.

ROBERTS: Even so with your left hand. What happened to the car? Why did it blow?

T. PEDREGON: Well, it was a mechanical issue. I mean, it broke a cam gear. You know, sometimes when these cars, there's a little bit of a failure, you can actually feel it that you can react to it. You know, in this case, it caught me totally by surprise.

ROBERTS: So you break a cam gear. The valves stop working. What happens inside the engine?

T. PEDREGON: Well, you know, these cars are supercharged and they run on nitro methane. Literally it becomes a bomb. You know, what's happening is it's blowing the motor and all the oil is coming out. At that point, the oil is diluted with nitro methane and the cylinder temperatures are reaching temperatures about 2,000 degrees at that point. So you put those components together and you feed it that kind of oxygen and it's literally a flame thrower.

CHETRY: Andrea, I can't imagine what was going through your mind. You know, you are expecting another baby, your third. And right next to you, if we can show, Andrea is the suit that Tony was actually wearing at the time. This burned through six of the seven layers of that suit. What was going through your mind when you finally saw the video.

ANDREA PEDREGON, DRAG RACER'S WIFE: I was quite devastated. I was so thankful that he walked away from it and he was safe. Obviously, you can see the suit here did save him from getting more burns than he did. But just very grateful. Definitely time stood still for several -- probably several minutes until I knew he was out OK and I could hear his voice in the ambulance. But it was scary.

CHETRY: Is he allowed to keep racing, Andrea?

A. PEDREGON: Please say in a week and a half. Show them the leg if you could.

ROBERTS: They had to cut the suit off of you?


T. PEDREGON: They did. You know, the first thing I was asking them to do. Fortunately, we've got a very good safety team that were on site. You know, I didn't know if I had damage. I think I was in a little bit of shock. But I was asking them to remove my gloves because I knew I had some burns on my hands. But you know, again, you can see it penetrated a lot of it. The sport come a long way and you know, first and foremost, we want to protect the drivers and the fans. We got a big following.

ROBERTS: You are so fortunate. Not only did the car blow up right in front of you and turn into a blow torch with all that oxygen feeding that nitro methane but then you hit the wall as well.

T. PEDREGON: Yes. You know my biggest concern was to try to get the car stopped. And I was almost expecting to hit it. I do remember tightening up. But you know, I got to say I had my hands full and I was really heavily relying and I thought, I hope this equipment holds up as long as I could. And it did. It did the job that the sanctioning body, you know, over the years, these cars, as fast as they go to be able to walk away is amazing.

ROBERTS: I guess it just happened like that. There was no indication or anything.

T. PEDREGON: It really did. But you know, you could really see it was probably on fire for a few seconds. But when you were in the seat it felt like about three minutes. So, I'm very fortunate to be out here.

CHETRY: Are you going to have any reservations about it? I know you just said, hopefully say in a week because you got another race. Are you nervous to get behind the wheel again?

T. PEDREGON: No, at this point I'm not. Again, I think my damage is minimal and you know, I did ponder the thought for maybe an hour or two and I was -- it was important for me to get back to the track. My brother did make it to the final that day. That kind of re-energized me and, you know, I really made the decision that after I looked at the car and we got backup equipment, you know, that's what all the sponsors pay for. And I think physically I'm going to be able to get back into the seat. I'm almost going to have to in Phoenix.

ROBERTS: Andrea, what do you have to say about all of this?

A. PEDREGON: Well, it's probably safer than the last race, so I'll let him keep chasing his dream. I'll support him.

T. PEDREGON: I tell her, she's got to trust me.

CHETRY: Well, we're glad you're doing OK this morning. And Andrea, I know you two haven't seen each other yet but reunited briefly on television. And I'm so glad that you're doing OK. Thanks for coming in to talk to us. And Andrea, good luck with everything. Thank you as well.

A. PEDREGON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Final results of "Quick Vote" coming up right after this. Stay with us. You're on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Final check at this morning's "Quick Vote" question, would you want to live past 100? 53 percent said yes. 47 percent said no. To all of you who voted, thanks very much. And thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you again tomorrow.

CHETRY: That's right. We'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins starts right now.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins. Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Tuesday, February 12th.