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More Coverage of the Presidential Campaigns; More Tornadoes in the Southeast
Aired March 15, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to a new edition of BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Jim Acosta in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the site of this city's St. Patrick's Day parade today. A St. Patrick's Day parade that Hillary Clinton is marching in right now. We'll get to that in just a moment. I should also note my co-anchor Suzanne Malveaux is standing by live, she is in Plainfield, Indiana, watching the Obama campaign. And our special political coverage here on CNN begins in just a few moments.
First, we want to get you the latest on the breaking weather situation that is happening right now in Atlanta. And with that, I'll turn to my colleague, Fredricka Whitfield who is standing by at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Fredricka?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, more on this breaking story. More than just damaging now but deadly weather in Georgia. We told you about the tornado that hit right here in Atlanta last night. At this hour we are getting fresh reports of new storm damage north of Atlanta and moments ago, we received confirmation of a storm death in the town of Live Oak in Polk county. Here with the latest now on the weather storm system, meteorologist Jacqui Jeras.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey Fredricka. We just got a brand new warning here for northern parts of Georgia. This is north of the Atlanta area. A cell we've been watching very closely that has a history of producing a tornado and damage. So now in on the warning is central Hall county, southern Banks county and Jackson county, all in northeast Georgia. And there you can see until 2:45 eastern time. We've got our velocity mode, the wind mode on our radar so we can see where the in and out band or the rotation of the winds can be. It's this area right down here along 985 where we have that rotation. This is moving toward the east. Flowery Branch, Gainesville. You are all in the line of this storm right now which could be producing a tornado on the ground with damage. Let's go ahead and switch back over to radar mode so you can see the storm structure itself. There you can see it. Here's the town of Cumming. We have unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down there with the cell. You can see the rotation has pulled off to the east of there. There are more storms which have backed up. We call this back building. New storms are developing. There you can see Cartersville which also had a tornado touch down earlier with this cell. A new one is moving through your neighborhood right now. This is a severe thunderstorm warning. We're concerned about damaging winds and hail with this storm, but I wouldn't be surprised if this storm continues to strengthen and take on that super cell-type of development and produce a tornado. We'll have to watch this one very closely. Now conditions are very ripe all across northern and central parts of Georgia, for tornados to develop. The red box you can see outlined there is what we call a tornado watch. A watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. A warning means a tornado is happening now. Either someone spotted it by trained storm spotters or Doppler radar has been indicating very strong rotation. And so that's what we're seeing north of the Atlanta metro area right now. Here you can see Sandy Springs. You can see East Point, downtown Atlanta is right smack dab in the middle of here. Right now we're not seeing any of this severe weather moving through the downtown Atlanta area. But there some are light rain showers. Look at these individual cells developing off to the west. All of these could be moving through Atlanta. This is a huge concern, Fredricka, because there's still a lot of people out there. There's a lot of damage. We have a lot of windows broken out and things are very unstable. If we get some strong winds kicking back in, we'll have a lot more damage, a lot easier and a lot more people again then impacted by these storms. So we have a very volatile air mass in place right now. The next couple of hours are going to be really critical for that threat of severe weather. The watch is in place until 7:00 tonight. So again, some new warnings. Dawson, Forsyth, Hall counties all need to be taking cover right now.
WHITFIELD: Jackie, I wonder if this air mass is any easier to track given that we're talking about daylight, whereas last night it was a nighttime hit.
JERAS: Right. When it's at nighttime, obviously, you don't see the tornado coming. We heard all the reports of the people who heard the train kind of sound. That was their only indication that it was coming. Another thing to keep in mind. It may be daylight out there but sometimes tornadoes can get hidden through rain, we call them rain wrap tornadoes, so you might not see it. Or the other possibility is that this is a very populated area. We have hills around here, we have lots of tall buildings so you may not see it. So heed those warnings. When the sirens go off, you need to get to the lowest level of your home away from doors and windows. A very serious situation. You don't just want to go, oh, say to your friend, hey those sirens are going off. What do you think? Should we get to the basement? Don't think about it. Get to the basement or a closet or under the stairwell in your home. The worst place, you don't want to be outside if you don't have to be and you certainly don't want to be in a mobile home. So think now if you haven't already. Hopefully you already have. Think now of where you are going to go and what you are going to do when those sirens do go off.
WHITFIELD: That's right, have a plan and then actually put it into place. Jacqui Jeras, thank you so much. Of course, we're going to continue to track the storms here on CNN. Even though we're going to take you right back to the BALLOT BOWL, we will be cutting in from time to time to keep you up to date. Meantime, let's go to Suzanne Malveaux in Plainfield, Indiana. A very noisy Plainfield.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Fred, we expect Barack Obama to be speaking very shortly. Already you can see there's one of the speakers up there who is going to be introducing him very soon. And what Barack Obama likes to do is essentially to emphasize here, not just Pennsylvania, but also the fact that that is just one of at least 10 contests looking ahead that each one of these states is important, including Indiana, so that is why Barack Obama is going to be addressing the folks here. The voters here talking about those issues that make a difference to them. The economy, the Iraq war. Obviously, putting all of that out on the table. We know that Senator Hillary Clinton also focusing on Pennsylvania. A do or die state for her. That is what her own campaign is saying. That is where our own Jim Acosta is. Jim you are in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We were there last week where she kicked off her campaign in Pennsylvania. Obviously, emphasizing that she is the hometown girl and she believes that she has the hometown advantage. Jim?
ACOSTA: That's right, Suzanne. She is in Scranton looking for that Dunder-Mifflin vote if you will. We are at the St. Patrick's Day parade in this city. We're already seeing some of that Irish pride for Hillary Clinton. Not just Irish pride for Hillary Clinton by the way, but since you are covering Barack Obama, I should mention there are some Obama signs here. When we say Obama, we mean O apostrophe Bama. So those are the types of signs we're seeing out here today during the St. Patrick's Day parade. Hillary Clinton was already here earlier this week. Now she's back again. Obviously, she is campaigning very heavily in this state, fully realizing this is one of the states that she definitely needs to win to keep her campaign going. And she is confident, her campaign is confident, that this state is looking very good for Hillary Clinton. We want to toss to some sound now from earlier today where she talked about the importance of winning in Pennsylvania. She is making the case that to win the general election in the fall, the Democrats need a nominee who can win and win big in Pennsylvania. And she feels if she wins this primary coming up on April 22nd, then she is in good position not only to win the nomination, but to win this general election in the fall.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to start by, you know, reiterating the concern that I have expressed about the economy. We saw yesterday with the Fed moving to try to rescue Bear Stearns how serious the challenges are. And I think it's important to put that into perspective because, clearly, we need not only a president who can answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. to be the commander in chief with respect to strategic and military challenges, but also the call might come from the treasury secretary or the chairman of the federal reserve and we need a president ready to be the steward of the economy. And it's ironic that President Bush is in New York talking about how he recognizes there are economic problems in the country at the same time that the fed is moving to try to stem the continuing erosion in the credit markets around the world because of a lot of the failed policies and lax oversight and neglect of the Bush administration. Other than that it was a great parade here in Pittsburgh. We had a lot of fun. Would love to take your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) about your discussion with Senator Obama yesterday on the floor of the senate. What did he say?
CLINTON: Well, that was Thursday, right? Yeah. I lose track of time. In our little bubble that we're traveling around in. Well, we talked about the importance of keeping our campaigns on the issues. There's a lot of room to explore the differences between us for voters to get information about our records and experience and qualifications and the differences that we would bring to the job and the significant questions that would be raised about health care, the economy and so much else. And, you know, we both have had instances during the course of the year with staff members, supporters, saying things that we've had to reject and repudiate. And we want to make sure that we try to keep this campaign focused on what voters are interested in and what they should have to -- with information they should have to make their decisions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your campaign has made a big argument that you have won in the big swing states and this makes you a more viable candidate in the general election. Can you just explain that logic because if Obama lost in Ohio, that doesn't necessarily mean he would lose in a general election as well as Al Gore and John Kerry both won Pennsylvania in the general election. So can you just explain that argument.
CLINTON: Well, there are three critical components here. One is, you have to look at what the electoral map is likely to be in the fall. And I don't think anybody doubts that a Democrat has to have a number of the big states anchored in order to put together the electoral votes needed to win. There's a generally accepted position that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are the critical swing states for Democrats and that you have to try to win at least two out of three. I would like to win three out of three. And I think it is significant that I have won Ohio and I won Florida and I've won the four big states that would serve as those anchors for the electoral map. And I also think it's significant because those states represent a much broader cross section of the voters that we're going to need to win in the fall. So that's certainly my assessment of how to look at where we need to be headed in terms of the states we have to win against John McCain.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
ACOSTA: And so now you are looking live at Washington Avenue in downtown Scranton. Hillary Clinton and her supporters are making their way through this crowd and through this town on this St. Patrick's Day parade day here in Scranton. She's joined by the governor of this state, Ed Rendell. Her powerful surrogate in this state, a man she hopes will help her win this very important primary coming up on April 22nd. We're going to go to a quick break and on the other side of the break, you're going to be hearing from Barack Obama. We'll go back to Suzanne Malveaux in Plainfield, Indiana. And we'll also hear more on the weather situation that is unfolding in Atlanta. So stick with us, this is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.
JERAS: Good afternoon everyone, I'm CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras in the severe weather center tracking a possible tornado moving north of the Atlanta metro area. This is a very dangerous storm that has a history of producing a tornado and damage. The warning is in place for Hall, Banks and Jackson county. If you live in Maysville, Homer, Commerce, near the Pendergrass area, this is the area that we're concerned about right now. Here's the town of Gainesville. We have the storm to your east now, but be aware, still heavy downpours and maybe some damaging winds. So now is not the time to come out and see what kind of damage, if any, that you have. The storm is tracking to the east right now. It's just off to the east of interstate 985 and just to the west of interstate 85. So this likely will be crossing I-85 as it continues to track eastward. A tornado watch remains in effect across northern and central parts of Georgia. The storms have been developing back here near the state line and over into Alabama and tracking eastward. More development is expected over some of these same areas throughout the afternoon. Tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop and this will be in effect until 7:00 local time tonight. Warning means it's on the ground or Doppler radar indicating very strong rotation. That's what's happening now in Hall, Banks and Jackson county just north of the Atlanta metro area. We'll continue to monitor the situation. If we get any more breaking developments on those stories, we'll break in and bring it to you. For now, we'll go back to Suzanne Malveaux.
MALVEAUX: Thanks Jacqui. We're in Plainfield, Indiana. We're waiting for Barack Obama to speak before a crowd. A lot of enthusiasm here. Both of these candidates are really trying to make an impact with the voters. Obviously, Senator Clinton looking to Pennsylvania as a key state for her where she believes she will do very well. The demographics work for her. If you take a look at some of the groups, the voters tend to be older. They are white women, Roman Catholic, blue collar voters focusing her attention to Pennsylvania. Barack Obama saying, yes, Pennsylvania is important, but also there are nine, 10 other contests ahead looking ahead. Indiana being another very important state. So he wants to make some early inroads here. And both of these candidates are looking to what the voters are talking about. And they are talking about the fact that the prices of gas is so high that it's hard to get their kids to college. That they are losing their homes. They are losing their jobs. It really is issue number one, the economy.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): For the guy who has the top job and those who cannot wait to replace him, there's one thing they can agree on. Issue number one is the economy.
BUSH: We got an active plan to help us get through this rough period. We're always open for new ideas.
MALVEAUX: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have got some of their own. And they are desperately trying to convince voters theirs is the fix.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, too little, too late is not an economic strategy. But that seems to be the best that President Bush can offer.
MALVEUX: The cliche photo op, Clinton in front of a gas pump talking about the skyrocketing price of oil.
CLINTON: Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain have sided with Dick Cheney and with big oil.
MALVEAUX: Addressing those hit especially hard in Pittsburgh. Obama is propping up his economic recovery plan, too. Touting its affordability.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "The Wall Street Journal" did an article several weeks ago evaluating our claims and saying that if I was able to move my agenda forward, I could, in fact, pay for all the proposals that I've made.
MALVEAUX: So what are their proposals? Obama is offering a $1,000 tax cut for working class families. Amending the North American Free Trade Agreement to protect U.S. jobs. And create new ones by investing in renewable energy. Clinton promises to also lower taxes for the middle class, confront the housing market crisis and create new jobs like Obama by investing in alternative energy.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
MALVEAUX: So you'll be hearing some of those buzz words, those key words really meant to identify, resonate with voters when they talk about the economy. They are talking about alternative sources of energy. They're talking about gas prices. Different things that they can address specifically to help voters convince them that they've got an economic plan that they believe will be good for the country. As commander in chief, they are also stewards of the economy. That is one of the strong messages both of these candidates are bringing to the voters. We are still waiting and we anticipate it will be very shortly before Barack Obama will speak here in Plainfield, Indiana. We also will take a listen and look at Senator Hillary Clinton, she is in Scranton, Pennsylvania, home of her grandparents. A place were she believes she's got that hometown advantage. All of that coming up after this break.
ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Jim Acosta in Scranton, Pennsylvania, at the site of this city's St. Patrick's Day parade today. As reporters covering these political campaigns, we're used to covering these campaigns sort of in a static fashion. We're standing in front of the cameras and the candidates are behind us on a stage giving their speeches to a crowd that's either sitting down or standing up. This is a campaign event in motion. Hillary Clinton along with the governor of this state, Ed Rendell. They just walked up Washington Avenue here in Scranton, Pennsylvania, pressing the flesh, sometimes the flesh pressing them as these crowds are getting very large. Swelling on to the streets here of Scranton, Pennsylvania, as Hillary Clinton makes her way through this town. And she is definitely looking to Pennsylvania as a way to keep her campaign going. She is looking at Pennsylvania as one of those states that can be almost sort of a knockout punch to Barack Obama if she can capture this state here and perhaps tie together some other wins. Perhaps she is making the case that she can get the momentum in this campaign and perhaps gain some of those delegates that are necessary to catch up with Barack Obama. In just a few moments ago, a reporter from one of our local stations here in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the station WYOU, that local reporter just caught up with Hillary Clinton as she was making her way through this St. Patrick's Day parade a few moments ago. Let's go to that now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are right here with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton, nice to meet you.
CLINTON: Nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to Scranton. We are live on the local NBC and CBS affiliate broadcasting this Scranton St. Patrick's Day parade. What does it mean to be here in this city today?
CLINTON: It is such a great feeling. I've been coming to Scranton literally since I was born. And it's wonderful seeing how the city looks. The enthusiasm of the crowd is overwhelming. Everybody said this was the third biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country. I think it is. The crowd is huge. There's such a good feeling here. It's wonderful being back in Scranton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How important is Scranton and northeastern Pennsylvania for you to get elected president?
CLINTON: Well I mean it's important to me personally. I have such a great sense of, you know, really coming home when I come to Scranton. So, obviously, on a personal level, it's very important. And I think it holds the key to the keystone state for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a less important question, how was Rivella's pizza the other day?
CLINTON: It was good. I had white.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Senator Clinton, congratulations. Thanks for being in town today and best of luck to you.
CLINTON: It's a pleasure. Thanks a lot.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
ACOSTA: So there is Hillary Clinton talking to a reporter with one of our affiliates, WYOU here in Scranton, Pennsylvania. You heard Hillary Clinton there talking about some personal ties to the area. That is because the Rodham side of the family has owned some property here in northeastern Pennsylvania for some time. And to any of those viewers out there who saw the article in "The New York Times" and other newspapers earlier this week, there were even some pictures from when Hillary Clinton was just a little girl spending time here in this part of Pennsylvania during her childhood with the Rodham family. And there will be more from Pennsylvania on this race for the White House and the race for the keystone state coming up. First, we want to go back to Atlanta and hear more on the breaking weather situation there. Let me send it back to Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: Hello to you Jim. Very serious situation here in the Atlanta area. Not only was it a damaging storm but it turns out it was a deadly one. A tornado struck downtown Atlanta last night and also into Polk county where one reported death has been reported. There have been extensive reports of damage right in the downtown area. Our Cal Perry is in downtown Atlanta, at least one of the communities in the downtown area. Cal, what do you see?
CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fredricka, as you can see, this is really where the most damage is in the residential area of Atlanta. I'm going to get out of the way so we can show our viewers what we're talking about. In this particular neighborhood, the biggest problem has been these trees. These are absolutely huge trees as you can see and they have been here as long as the houses have. And they have just come crashing down on these rows of houses. I would estimate between 30 and 40 houses were damaged by this storm last night. It's also important to note, I think, that this is such an unusual event, and people who don't know Atlanta, tornadoes are not a common occurrence in Atlanta. And this alleged tornado came, of course, without warning. And it's really got people spooked because when we were here just about two hours ago, there was literally, by word of mouth, people talking about sort of the next front coming in. And it was by word of mouth that people got spooked and really kind of ran for cover all of a sudden. Of course, this power is out here so they can't see these broadcasts. It's such an unusual event here in Atlanta. And that's why it's really got people spooked. As you can see, the cleanup has really begun but it's going to be an incredible job to get these trees off these houses and then, of course, repair the houses. It's going to take weeks if not months. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Yeah, it really is. We're talking about 75 to 100- foot trees in a lot of those areas. Big, thick oak trees at that. All right Cal Perry, thank you so much. Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center keeping a close eye on the other air mass that is developing out there, at least in the south. What do you have?
JERAS: Some tornado warnings and one storm that we're concerned about in particular, did they upgrade it to a warning? All right. Yep. This is Cherokee county. This is a storm we've been watching right here over Canton right now. It's showing strong signs of rotation on our Doppler radar. There you can see where the red and the green are coming together, indicating rotation. And a tornado could be on the ground at this time.
We've got capable of producing a tornado near Holly Springs moving east at 60 miles per hour. This is a fast-moving storm. You can't outrun it. You need to be taking cover immediately. So Cherokee county, right along 575 there, tornado warning. There's another cell to the east of here. Let's go ahead and move over and show you that storm that has a history of producing tornadoes. This one caused damage over towards Cartersville and also in Taylorsville with reports of damage near the Taylorsville Elementary School.
There you can see Commerce, Homer, Royson, Canon and Bowman all in the line of this storm that also is moving off to the east. Now Gainesville, you've got a storm on top of you. Right now this one is not severe. But you're in between these two cells. You need to be on high alert. Right now you are under a lot of lightning, a lot of heavy rain. There's another storm off to your west. You may be seeing that warning taking place. It's very fortunate.
One good thing about these storms is all of them have been on the north side of the Atlanta metro area. And that Atlanta, downtown where all of the damage occurred yesterday, and last night, has been spared so far. Conditions are still favorable for tornadoes to develop in Atlanta. We'll be watching what's happening out here very closely in case this moves into that area because it won't take much to cause additional damage in the downtown area because of all those glass shards, the broken windows that are out there.
All those structures that have already been compromised a little bit from those storms as they moved through last night. So several tornadoes, north side of town. This is heading towards South Carolina. Here you can see the state line.
You are under a watch here, too. Be aware if you live in Anderson, for example, for Greenville, these storms will be moving into your neighborhood maybe 30-plus minutes from now. It's still going to be a rough afternoon. This is going to be ongoing, Fredricka, we think, into the evening hours. Of course, as we get any more damage reports or confirmed touchdowns, we'll bring those along to you.
WHITFIELD: We appreciate that you are watching. Jacqui, thank you. All right now back to more of the BALLOT BOWL right after this.
MALVEAUX: Welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL, Barack Obama speaking here in Indiana looking forward to the May 6th contest. This is going to be a very big prize for him. He is joking a little bit with the audience. Having a lot of fun here. Let's take a listen to Barack Obama's message.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- where is Cordelia? Where did she go? She's around here somewhere. There she is. And I want to thank former Indiana Democratic party chair Kip Too. Where did Kip go? I saw him earlier. There he is in the back. Well, listen. I have been running for president for a little over a year now.
And when I first decided to run -- when I first decided to run, standing on the steps of the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, the building where Abraham Lincoln served for so many years and the city where I served in the state government for many years before I joined the United States Senate.
As I was standing there, some people asked me, why are you running this time? You are a relatively young man. Why are you running so soon? You can afford to wait. And what I said to people then is the same thing that I say now. I remind them what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now. The fierce urgency of now. Because I believe there is such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost upon us.
We're in a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of this war. Five years next week. Longer than World War II. Longer than almost all the wars we've been engaged in. We're now spending $12 billion per month. Spending in Iraq is actually going up, not going down. Our nation is at war, our planet is in peril.
And the dream that so many generations fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away. And you see it in your own lives. You're experiencing it all across Indiana and all across the country. People are working harder for less. When the economy was doing well, people's wages and incomes were still flat lining. You've never paid more for health care. Never paid more for college for your kids. Never paid more for gas at the pump. It's harder to save. It's harder to retire.
And that's before the subprime lending crisis and housing prices going down. Home foreclosures going up. People finding themselves in debt that they can't get out of. Our education system, despite the slogans, leave millions of people -- millions of children behind, unable to compete in this new global economy.
Our health care system, despite the fact that we spend more per person on health care than any nation on earth, we've got 47 million people without health care. If you've got health care, what's happening? Your co-payments, deductibles, premiums, are all going up. So that there are families that have just decided, we can't afford health care. And they just take the risk. They just hope nothing happens to them.
In such circumstances, we can't afford to wait, Indiana. We can't wait to fix our schools. We can't wait to fix our schools. We can't wait to fix our health care system. We can't wait to bring this war in Iraq to an end. We cannot wait to create good jobs at good wages and strengthen our economy for working people in the United States of America. We can't wait. And so when I decide to run it was because I thought that the size and scope of our challenges had outstripped a broken politics to salt.
And I believe that the American people were looking for something new. That they were hungry for something different. That they were tired of a politics that was about tearing each other down. They wanted a politics that would lift the country up. I believe that people were looking not just for spin and PR from their politicians they wanted straight talk and honesty and truthfulness about how we're going to solve our problems.
Most of all, I was betting on you, the American people, because some of you know I am not originally from Chicago. I moved to Chicago after college to work as a community organizer with churches who were trying to deal with the devastation of steel plants that were closing. Thousands of people had been laid off. The communities had fallen on hard times. We set about setting up job training programs for the unemployed and trying to bring economic development to the community.
It was the best work I ever had, because it taught me ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they are given a chance. And it taught me that change doesn't happen from the top down, it happens from the bottom up. It happens because the American people make it happen. See, we are a decent people and a hard working people. And a generous people, willing to sacrifice for future generations.
And I believe that if we can come together, then there is no challenge we can't face down. There is no destiny we cannot fulfill. That's the bit I was making. And I'm here to tell you, Indiana, that having run now for 13 months. After criss-crossing the country, talking to hundreds of thousands of people, after shaking tens of thousands of hands, kissing hundreds of babies, getting spit up on my suits, eating hundreds of chicken dinners, I am here to report that the American people are ready for change. They want something different. They want something new. They are going to turn this country around in this election.
MALVEAUX: We'll bring you more of Barack Obama. We want to go first to Jacqui Jeras who has some breaking news. Some updates on the weather out of Atlanta. Jacqui, what can you tell us?
JERAS: Suzanne, we have a tornado on the ground right now just north of the Atlanta area in the town of Commerce. And it's crossing interstate 85 right now. There you can see the storm right here. The National Weather Service just issued a statement literally two minutes ago. Stating that a tornado, a storm spotter sees it. It's on the ground. It's been crossing I-85 and it's pushing off to the east right now.
This is the storm that we're talking about. Here's I-85 and there you can see all the lightning with it. And we also have several storms backed up behind it. So once this one moves on through, we may see more. So damage is likely occurring. Very volatile situation. There you can see the watch which remains in effect. We also have new confirmation of a fatality that occurred from that exact same storm as it moved through Polk county in the town of Aragon. One home was destroyed there, one person was killed and another person was seriously injured.
Take these warnings seriously. You need to get to the lowest level of your home away from doors and windows and seek shelter when those sirens go off. A NOAA weather radio is your best friend today. Keep that on. The watch is in effect until 7:00 local time. So just to repeat, we have a tornado on the ground in the town of Commerce. There you can see it right here on our Doppler radar. It's crossing Interstate 85 and moving off to the east.
We also have warnings that will be moving towards Bowman and Hartwell. And there you can see the state line. This is South Carolina. These storms are moving towards Anderson. You are not under a warning right now, but these storms may be impacting you in the next half an hour or so. As we get more information on this tornado, we'll bring it along to you. We'll have more weather, coming back with BALLOT BOWL.
MALVEAUX: Barack Obama talking about specifics, his education plan, energy plan, Iraq and now talking about how to treat veterans when they come back from the Iraq war. Let's take another listen to Barack Obama.
OBAMA: And so let me just close and then we're just going to start opening it up for questions. No, no, no. That's -- before we start the question side, let me just close my initial remarks by talking about bringing this country together. You know, Bobby Kennedy gave one of his most famous speeches on a dark night in Indianapolis, right after Dr. King was shot. Some of you remember reading about this speech. Some of you were alive when this speech was given. He stood on top of a car. He was in a crowd mostly of African-Americans.
And he delivered the news that Dr. King had been shot and killed. And he said, at that moment of anguish, he said, we've got a choice. He said, we've got a choice in taking the rage and bitterness and disappointment and letting it fester and dividing us further so that we no longer see each other as Americans but we see each other as separate and apart and at odds with each other. Or we can take a different path that says we have different stories, but we have common dreams and common hopes. And we can decide to walk down this road together and remake America once again.
And, you know, I think about those words often. Especially in the last several weeks because this campaign started on the basis that we are one America. That -- now as I said in my speech at the convention in 2004. There is no black America or white America or Asian America or Latino America. There is the United States of America. But I noticed over the last several weeks that the forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again. And I'm not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody, you know, senses that there's been this shift. You know, that you've been seeing in the reporting. You've been seeing some of the commentaries of supporters on all sides.
Most recently, you heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships, but clearly had -- but if all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked. And it just reminds me that we've got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We've got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding. But what I continue to believe in is that this country wants to move beyond these kinds of divisions. That this country wants something different. And so --
(CROWD SHOUTING) Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
OBAMA: So -- I just want to say to everybody here that as somebody who was born into a diverse family, as somebody who has little pieces of America all in me, I will not allow us to lose this moment where we cannot forget about our past and not ignore the very real forces of racial inequality and gender inequality and the other things that divide us. I don't want us to forget them. We have to acknowledge them and lift them up and when people say things like my former pastor said, you know, you have to speak out forcefully against them. But what you have to also do is remember what Bobby Kennedy said. That it is within our power to join together to truly make a United States of America. And that we have to do not just so that our children live in a more peaceful country and a more peaceful world, but that is also the only way that we're going to deliver on the big issues that we're facing in this country. We can't solve health care divided. We cannot create an economy that works for everybody divided. We can't fight terrorism divided. We can't care for our veterans divided. We have to come together. That's what this campaign is about. That's why you are here. That's why we're going to win this election. That's how we're going to change the country.
MALVEAUX: Barack Obama addressing the controversy over some criticism from his pastor, disassociating himself from those remarks at the same time calling for people to be united. Mentioning his multi-racial background saying many pieces of America are inside of him. He's going to be taking some questions from the audience after he wraps up his speech. We'll also going to be hearing more from Republican John McCain.
ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Jim Acosta in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the St. Patrick's Day parade in this city marches on. Even though Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are campaigning heavily in this state, there is another candidate also stumping for votes in the keystone state and that is John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, even though he's wrapped up the nomination. He and the Republican party feel this state will be in play for the general election in the fall.
So John McCain was here in Pennsylvania. He was in Springfield, Pennsylvania if you'll pardon the diesel horn. He was talking about with supporters there about a one-year moratorium vote in congress that took place last week on earmarks. The vote in congress was on whether or not to have a one-year moratorium on earmarks. Those are those special provisions that essentially fund pet projects for congressmen in their districts. And that vote did not go well for John McCain. The vote was defeated despite having the support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So without further adieu, here is John McCain on that earmark vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night my friends we had a vote on a proposal to have a moratorium, a clause on pork barrel projects which, by the way in the last two years there was $36 billion in earmark and pork barrel projects on these massive spending bills. Now we could have had a $1,000 tax credit for every child in America with that $36 billion, or a bridge to nowhere in Alaska for $233 million to an island with 50 people on it. And pork barrel projects, my friends.
So last night we had a vote on an amendment. You know how many votes it got in just a pause, a moratorium on these earmark projects? It was 100 members of the United States Senate, it got 29 votes. It got 29 votes, my friends. Six Democrats. And so the moral of the story is there's only one place left in America that they don't get it. They don't get it that pork barrel spending is out of control and Americans want it stopped and that's in our nation's capital.
And I want to tell you as president, we will veto those bills. We will stop it. I will make them famous. And I will stop it. I have never asked for nor received a pork barrel project for my state and I'm proud of that. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have asked for hundreds of millions of dollars. Senator Obama just revealed today or yesterday the hundreds of millions of dollars request that he made. Senator Clinton has not revealed the request that she has made. But it's hundreds of millions of dollars of pork barrel projects.
And so they say, they voted. Both of them voted last night for this moratorium. Well, the first thing they can do if they are against the earmarks is ask that the money they've gotten, hundreds of millions they've gotten from pork barrel projects not be spent. A lot of that money is not spent. So just ask for it. If you are against it, say it shouldn't be spent. And I'm sure we could get it through that they wouldn't have to -- that that money wouldn't have to be spent.
So I just want to tell you again. We should not be surprised in Washington at the low approval ratings. We should not be surprised. We are spending $3 million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that's a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but it needs to stop.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: There is John McCain once again on those bears in Montana and on those earmarks. That's all for this hour of BALLOT BOWL on CNN. We need ear plugs in Scranton, not earmarks. There will be more on the candidates and more on that severe weather after a break. This is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.
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