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The Showdown for Superdelegates: When Will They Decide; Stocks Rally, Oil Prices Slide; Tornado Ravaged Town Rebuilds After A Year; Measles Scare: New Cases in the U.S.
Aired May 2, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: That's according to the newest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Forty-six percent of Democrats nationwide are for Obama, 45 percent for Clinton. Polls from mid- March had Obama up by seven points.
Meanwhile, in the race for superdelegates, Obama is the one closing -- is the one rather closing that gap.
Dan Lothian live from CNN Election Express in Indianapolis. Hey, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. You know, it's interesting because this whole gas tax holiday really has been the sort of central focus of the campaign here in Indiana so far this week. Obviously the reason, because gas prices have hit a historic high, although you have been talking about how we've seen a little dip today. That certainly is good news.
But Senator Clinton has really been trying to show that Senator Obama, because he opposes the gas tax holiday, is really out of touch with the working class voters, is an elitist. And Senator Obama, on the other hand, is trying to show that this is nothing more than political posturing. What's interesting though is that this debate is even taking place because they're talking about a period of three months over this summer, and neither of them would even be president.
But nonetheless, this gas tax holiday is one of the reasons that Andrew decided to make that switch. Just by a little background here, Andrew was the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was appointed by then President Clinton, served from 1999 until to 2001. Was, of course, a solid superdelegate for Senator Clinton. But he said he had been watching Senator Obama and how he handled the Reverend Wright controversy, how he had been dealing with the debate over the gas tax holiday, and he decided that now it was time to make the move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ANDREW, DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUPERDELEGATE: It's important to stand up, to address these unbelievably problematic issues that we've got across this country like the environmental issues, like climate change. We can't do that by simply trying to buy votes by 30 cents a day, 28 bucks, a half a tank of gas. I don't think Hoosiers are going to be fooled into changing their votes for Hillary Clinton for half a tank of gas. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Andrew says that he still has a lot of respect for Senator Clinton. But what's interesting, Kyra, is that he said that he hopes that other superdelegates will also follow his lead, and he also hope that he can be as being from this area here in Indiana, he hoped that other voters will look at what he has done and perhaps even follow his lead come Tuesday -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Dan Lothian, thanks so much. We also want to remind everyone Terry McAuliffe, Joe Andrew joining us in about 20 minutes to talk about exactly what we've been discussing this morning, including Dan's report.
You are actually going to talk to those two. Center or focus of that?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, why Joe Andrew has decided to switch from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. What it was and what kind of a difference it might make here in the Hoosier state because he's in Indiana. We'll talk to them. Terry McAuliffe should have a few interesting things to say about it as well.
Republican John McCain campaigns in Denver today. In Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday, the heart of farm country, Senator McCain repeated his stand against farm subsidies. He said if he were president he would veto the Farm Bill now in Congress. Farm Bill negotiators are fighting to keep $5.2 billion in payments to farmers. McCain promised farmers that he would work to "open every market in the world in which to sell their crops."
President Bush is asking Congress for an additional $770 million for food aid around the world. That's on top of the $200 million that the U.S. has already donated in emergency aid. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to act quickly. Riots over the rising cost of food have broken out this year in Egypt, Haiti, Yemen, Bangladesh, and other countries.
And President Bush is set to sign a bill offering more money for student loans. The bill sailed through the House and Senate. It lets college students borrow an additional $2,000 in low-cost government loans each year. The credit crunch has forced several major lenders out of the student loan market.
PHILLIPS: Extreme weather in almost every part of the country today. First, let's take a look at these incredible pictures coming in overnight right here from Tornado Alley. It's a funnel cloud caught on tape near Glencoe, Oklahoma, as powerful storms hit the plains. Witnesses say that there were several more across that region, too, along with golf-ball sized hailstones. So far, no injuries reported.
And 600 people have been forced out of their homes in Fort Kent, Maine. Melting snow and torrential rain is sending the St. John's River into the streets and basically into living rooms. Take a look at the conditions there. The U.S./Canada border crossing was actually closed because that bridge was under water.
And a May Day storm brings snow to the Rocky Mountains. Now, more than a foot fell in higher elevations. It's been a banner season for snow in the Rockies. Skiers praising the powder. Check this out.
John's son, Kyle, going head over heels there. Heading (ph) for the slopes and the snow. Now I see why he has decided to stick around maybe for an extra year or so in college, John.
ROBERTS: I'm glad to see all that tuition money going to good use there this morning.
PHILLIPS: Exactly. You never know, he could make the Olympics and have a newfound thing.
ROBERTS: I don't think so. He's having fun.
Updating the story that we told you about earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said conditions at Fort Bragg were "appalling" and said commanders have to ensure that their troops never have to live in what he called "such squaller." Gates watched the 10- minute YouTube video that was posted by a soldier's father.
We talked with him earlier this week on AMERICAN MORNING. The video showed backed-up sewage and other problems at Fort Bragg's barracks. The military has ordered inspections of U.S. barracks around the world.
The Air Force has stopped flying T-38 training jets after two fatal crashes in eight days. Two pilots died yesterday when the high altitude supersonic jet crashed at Shepherd Air Force Base in Texas. Last week, two pilots died in a crash at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. The Air Force grounded all of the T-38s until it can determine the cause of the crashes.
This morning the Olympic flame made its way through Hong Kong. It was a festive return to China after a troubled world tour, but this morning the celebrations come amid a new warning that the Chinese government is ordering American-owned hotels there to install Internet filters.
Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas says China wants to use the filters to spy on visitors during the Olympic Games. He says other lawmakers denounce China's record of human rights abuses and urged President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: I hope the Chinese people realize we are with them. They deserve democracy. They deserve fundamental freedom. They don't deserve the government that they have that represses them systematically. So I really believe, and I join my colleagues, President Bush and no one else in this government should be there for those opening ceremonies.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: A White House spokesman would not say whether the president will skip the opening ceremonies.
PHILLIPS: Just what you wanted to hear on a getaway Friday. Airlines slowing down flights to save fuel. Southwest says it started flying more slowly two months ago. Did you notice? And it says adding about one to three minutes to each flight, it will save about $42 million this year. United, Northwest and JetBlue also say they're slowing down.
It doesn't sound so bad, only a couple of minutes to save millions of dollars.
ROBERTS: You know, when you're number 25 for takeoff from LaGuardia, what's an extra three minutes, right?
ROBERTS: Set your watch today.
A rally on Wall Street as crude oil prices slide. Ali Velshi tells us where your money is going coming up next.
And an alarming rise in measles, double the number of cases this year than in all of last year. Our Dr. Gupta tells us what's going on. He's paying us a house call ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: It's coming up at nine minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi joining us this morning. And Ali, waking up this morning with a new sense of infamy. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be the seventh Fed rate cut in a row. You've got to pay attention to this. This is major.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH STEWART SHOW": Who is that hairless prophet of doom? And how can we appease his anger, please? If we give you our hair, will you give us back our money? Will you do it, sir? I beg of you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I don't know who he's talking about.
I'm not the hairless prophet of doom. I just got to tell you, I'm so getting called into somebody's office for doing that, but whatever. You know what I'm saying. Just got to have a little fun. PHILLIPS: They don't like hats, toupees.
VELSHI: No. I don't like anything on my head.
PHILLIPS: You should learn that by now.
ROBERTS: Here's the thing now is this morning the hairless prophet of doom has got just about all good news today.
VELSHI: The curse has been broken one way or the other because all I do have for you is good news. Let me tell you about what happened on the market, first of all. I know we don't talk about markets a lot, but this one is a good reason for you to check -- can we just put this down for a second? Check the Dow.
ROBERTS: It will walk away on its own.
VELSHI: Check your 401(k). Look at the Dow, 189 points higher, closing above 13,000 for the first time since January 3rd. All the markets were up yesterday. Take a look at how this chart of the Dow over the last year because again, look at your 401k and see if it's doing the same thing.
Back in October, around October 9th, the Dow peaked. It was this all-time high above 14,000. We're not there right now, but look at the trend in the last several weeks. It's been going up while we've been paying attention to things like the sinking U.S. dollar.
The dollar is even stronger. The dollar is at its strongest level, its highest level since February. Just a measly $1.55 to buy yourself a euro. Less than $2 to buy a pound, and less than $1 to go up north and buy a Canadian dollar. And as we have discussed, when the dollar strengthens, oil tends to weaken.
$112.52 is where oil settled yesterday. Went below that at one point, around $110 a barrel.
VELSHI: So we're seeing those things how they all come together. Gasoline, $3.62 a gallon. It's actually down one-tenth of a cent from yesterday. We only give you two decimal places because nobody wants three.
PHILLIPS: How much is one-tenth of a cent if we put that in percent?
VELSHI: It's three -- yes, it's like one -- you know, who knows. That's why we don't bother putting it on camera. But it's not a record for the first time in 18 days. We do not have a record in gas prices.
ROBERTS: I love it. Jon Stewart calls you the hairless prophet of doom...
VELSHI: That is not me. ROBERTS: ... and breaks the curse.
VELSHI: That is not me.
PHILLIPS: So are you going to start growing hair now that you broke the curse?
VELSHI: Maybe the curse is broken. Let's see. If I put on this thing and all of a sudden we got bad days today then we'll know.
ROBERTS: Well, there may be a bad day for your particular economic situation if you put that back on.
VELSHI: Given this -- I can guarantee you there'll be a discussion later on today about me wearing this hat.
PHILLIPS: It says a little bit more money on the hair.
ROBERTS: The rest of us made better than that one. Ali, thank you.
PHILLIPS: We've got some pretty amazing pictures coming in from Tornado Alley. Another funnel cloud. Take a look at this.
One of several reported as supercells pound the plains there. Rob Marciano tracking all the supercells, plus the extreme weather live from Kansas. Hey, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kyra. Yes, that big time severe weather outbreak yesterday and it's all sliding off to the east. We're going to have a complete weather report from Greensburg, Kansas, where they're rebuilding in a big-time green way. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.
ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes after the hour now. Take a look at these incredible pictures that came in overnight. A twister touching down in Oklahoma. The National Weather Service confirming that a funnel cloud hit that area.
There are reports that supercells produced several other funnel clouds across Tornado Alley. Two hundred fifty miles north of Oklahoma City is the town of Greensburg, Kansas. It was nearly wiped off the map by a tornado a year ago. The twister killed 11 people, cut the town's population in half, and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings.
But now, it's coming back to life. Our Rob Marciano is live for us this morning in Greensburg, Kansas, with more on what's going on there and also the severe weather, which continues today. Good morning, Rob.
MARCIANO: Good morning, John. Pretty impressive what they're doing here. They realize that they have a clean slate to work with. They take what was a tragedy a year ago and they really, really want to make it into a green environmental triumph and they're doing just that. And the generations to come are going to enjoy quite a cool town here.
Boy Scouts of America, 1935, that headquarters built here. That's one of the buildings that hasn't been rebuilt. There's one of many, but the buildings that they are rebuilding, they're doing it in a very, very impressive way.
All right. The severe weather did bypass us here to the east yesterday, and it continues to roll east today. Here is where the action is. It's across Missouri and parts of northern Arkansas where a pretty strong line of thunderstorms is rolling that way. Note the white and through western Nebraska and South Dakota. Blizzard warnings up for Rapid City, Deadwood, Spearfish and the Black Hills there. Five to 10 inches of snow and 50 mile an hour winds.
And tornado watches down to the south. Let's zoom in here. Kansas City and down towards Fort Smith, rough weather rolling through there and now poking into that yellow severe thunderstorm watch box that's in effect until 10:00 local time. And a lot of lightning with these storms.
Severe thunderstorm warnings in effect east of Fort Smith. Heavy downpours. We've had hail reports, over 100 hail reports yesterday, some of which had baseball to grapefruit-sized hail. So that's certainly will be a concern today, and this is all rolling towards the mighty Mississippi where moderate to severe risk of thunderstorms is in effect for today.
That's the latest from Greensburg, Kansas. Back to you guys in New York.
ROBERTS: All right, Rob. Thanks for staying on top of that for us. We'll see you again soon.
PHILLIPS: Measles, how did it get back into the U.S.? Sixty- four cases in nine states just during the first four months of this year alone. Dr. Sanjay Gupta paying us a house call. Hello.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You know, it's amazing because eight years ago the CDC said, look, we all but eradicated this particular disease, measles. And now, you're hearing about 64 cases in the first four months alone. What is going on here? Where are these cases coming from? Who is most at risk and what can you do to protect yourself?
We'll have it all for you. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us now on this measles outbreak. Just when we thought it was gone.
GUPTA: Right. I mean, people have been saying we are going to eradicate this. And now, we hear about nearly 70 cases in the first four months alone. So what is happening here?
It may not surprise a lot of people that, in fact, a lot of people who have not been vaccinated, families have chosen not to get their kids vaccinated were starting to see some of the ramifications of that. So what is happening is that people who travel overseas, they'll go to certain hot spots like Israel, like Switzerland, the U.K., bring the measles back to the United States, and then you start to get clusters of this measles in various communities.
What we know now is that there are approximately nine states that are affected by this, and we are starting to see clusters of cases. Take a look at the map there. Those are the nine states.
More specifically, and this is important to New York State, 23 cases in New York State alone, 22 of those cases in New York City. Again, you know, we've talked about this a lot, Kyra, people choosing not to get vaccinated because of medical reasons, because of personal belief reasons.
We know that all but one of those 64 cases were in people who were not vaccinated. The vaccines work and if you don't get them, you're obviously more at risk. This is a very contagious virus. In fact, they say, if you're in a room with somebody who has measles, and you have not been vaccinated, you have a 99 percent chance of getting it. So, you can get an idea of how the scope of this problem here.
PHILLIPS: What do you mean by personal belief reasons?
GUPTA: Well, so a lot of states basically say, look, people can choose whether or not to have their kids vaccinated. There can be medical reasons, obviously, if they have a weakened immune system, for example, but there's also personal belief exemptions. You just don't believe that the vaccine is right for your child. There are several states now around the country that will allow for that.
PHILLIPS: So what do you do as a parent? How would you know if your child had the measles?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I guess it's something that a lot of people have thought about for sometime since the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine became so popular, we haven't seen as many cases of measles. But it can start off, for example, as a runny nose. It can start off as something -- you know, look like a cold.
But take a look at the pictures here. It is a pretty characteristic rash. Now you may remember some rashes that looked like this. It sort of starts off on the face and eventually starts to spread down the trunk. It's awful, and it lasts a few days. If it goes untreated, it can be very problematic, actually causing more severe side effects and in rare cases death, but that is that telltale rash that at one time was so common in this country.
PHILLIPS: Is it painful?
GUPTA: Yes, it's itchy. It's painful to some extent, and makes the kid very miserable for a while. We use to see millions of these cases of measles in this country, and now we see it in the tens or the hundreds. But still, eight years ago, a decade ago...
GUPTA: ... we thought we had it completely beaten.
PHILLIPS: Interesting. Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Thanks, Sanjay.
The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out today shows Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama locked in a dead heat among Democratic voters. This as Obama is closing the gap in the all- important superdelegate race.
Just yesterday, former Democratic Party Leader Joe Andrew, a superdelegate, announced that he was switching sides and will now vote for Obama instead of Clinton.
And that brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. What should superdelegates base their votes on? Thirty-six percent of you say the candidate who has the most pledged delegates. Ten percent think local results should be the determining factor. Twenty-six percent say the overall popular vote, and 28 percent say the superdelegate should vote their conscience. Just whoever they think could be the best president.
You can cast your vote at CNN.com/am. We'd also like to hear from you via e-mail. Let us know what you think about the superdelegates and if you really want to get into like a lengthy essay, the Democratic system for nominating a presidential candidate. Does it work or should it all be changed? Go to CNN.com/am.
PHILLIPS: Influential Democrats say the nomination battle is killing their chance at winning the White House. Now, there's a move to get the superdelegates to make up their minds and end the fight. We're going to talk to an influential superdelegate who has switched sides straight ahead.
And after two deadly crashes, the Air Force pulls some of its jets from the sky. We'll have that story also and today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING continues.
ROBERTS: It's 24 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." With the final push on now in Indiana and North Carolina ahead of Tuesday's primaries there, another superdelegate has switched sides. Joe Andrew is calling on other Democrats to follow suit and support Barack Obama in his words to heal the rift in the party. But his switch comes, this new poll numbers show Hillary Clinton pulling even with Obama.
Superdelegate Joe Andrew, who is also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, joins us from Indianapolis, and Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe, also a former chairman of the DNC, joins us from Washington. I got a sense we're going to hear a spirited debate here.
Joe, let me start with you. Why did you make the switch?
JOE ANDREW, SUPERDELEGATE SUPPORTING OBAMA: Well, you know, John, as human beings we've got this great capacity to learn and to grow. Like millions of Americans, I didn't know much about Barack Obama a year ago, and during that time I have become inspired by him.
Here's a guy who has taken these principled positions that were not politically expedient, against the war in Iraq, against the repeal of the gas tax, against earmarks, this Congressional giveaways, and each time he did so when it probably wasn't politically smart to do it, but it was a principled position.
That was something that if somebody like me or Terry who, you know, sparred with everybody from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, I think we may have learned the wrong lesson from that, which is that we ought to just play the Republican game better. And here's Barack Obama showing up and saying, you know that, you don't have to play that game at all.
ROBERTS: Terry, how significant is Joe's defection, Terry?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, one or two superdelegates either way at this stage doesn't really matter. Yesterday when Joe went over the other side, five new superdelegates joined Hillary's campaign. Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina came out for us the day before. And today, we just released a list of eight former national party chairmen who came out today strongly endorsing Hillary Clinton. Said the contest needs to go on, we need to finish, and these are the reasons why we support Hillary Clinton.
So, listen, superdelegates, they're going to come and go. At the end of the day, you got to see who has the most. But we feel the momentum, as you saw yesterday, the "Associated Press" poll, now has Hillary winning by nine points over Senator McCain. We're up four points in the Gallup poll over Senator Obama.
We've got two big races coming up Tuesday. You can feel the momentum. Hillary won Pennsylvania by 10 points. The momentum is clearly on her side, and I think you're going to see a lot more superdelegates come over to Hillary's side.
ROBERTS: Joe, when you announced your switch yesterday, you sent out a letter accompanying it. Here's a little quote from that. You said, "A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain." What's the basis for that argument?
ANDREW: Well, look, the only thing that matters is the delegate count. And it's just mathematically impossible, as much as every single vote matters, for Hillary Clinton to pick up enough delegates to be ahead of Barack Obama at the end of this process as well. We need these elections to go on, but just like millions of people are going to come out and vote for John McCain, we still need to have a presumptive nominee and get about the business of trying to take on John McCain, and make sure we've got a Democrat who wins in the fall.
ROBERTS: What do you say about that? That unless she absolutely slams him in the nine remaining contests, there's very little chance mathematically that she'll end up with more pledged delegates than him at the end of this process. How do you make the case that she should be the nominee?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, she certainly could. This is politics. Anything can happen. We have nine contests to go.
Today the "Indianapolis Star Tribune," the largest newspaper in Indiana, came out and endorsed Hillary Clinton very aggressively. Said she's the best person to be president. I feel very good about it.
I was just in West Virginia yesterday. We're up 25 points. We're up 30 points in Kentucky. I mean, we are up in a lot of these upcoming contests. We will move ahead and be clearly ahead in the popular vote at the end of this process.
But you know what? There are millions of voters who have yet to vote. Could be as many as eight million more Democrats. We have hundreds and hundreds of delegates yet to be chosen. You don't stop the World Series in game seven. We got a long way to go.
It is fair that these voters who are out there, there's excitement. I was in Oregon. They haven't had a say in over 40 years, John, in who the nominee of the Democratic Party will be. The same thing in Indiana.
It's up to the voters. It's not up to superdelegates or anyone else at this stage. Let everybody vote and in the morning of June 4th, I do believe the superdelegates will begin to make their decision, and their decision is going to be who can best beat John McCain.
ROBERTS: Hey --
MCAULIFFE: Hillary Clinton beats John McCain in Ohio, in --
ANDREW: Look, John, you know --
MCAULIFFE: And if we win those, we'll win the election.
ROBERTS: In terms of new significance -- in terms of new significance, we were talking to a superdelegate from Guam this morning. But, John, I want to ask you this question. Yesterday Howard Wolfson was asked about your defection. He questioned whether you're from Indiana at all and whether you're eligible to vote.
ANDREW: You know, John, what I love about this, John, it's like Joe McCarthy, are they going to ask whether I'm an American or not? You know, what does it take to be a Hoosier? I'm born there, I grew up there, I went to school there, I work there, I'm a member of the Indiana bar. I own a house there. You know, look, like a lot of things, these are just absurd. This is the old political theater. This is what I think so many Americans are turned off by is that instead of talking about serious policy issues, everybody goes to personal attacks.
This is like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." All my good friends who I love in the Clinton campaign have been taken over by a virus. That's why they want another month as to try to infect the whole bunch of people of that virus.
ROBERTS: Terry, have you got any question that Joe's eligible to vote in the state of Indiana?
MCAULIFFE: No, I have no question. But listen, first of all, he should not characterize all the Clinton people. These people are working on this campaign now, John, for 16 months. I have known Hillary for 25 years. I adore the woman. That's why I'm out every single day.
I am proud of what she has done for this country. I'm proud for 35 years --
ANDREW: So am I.
MCAULIFFE: She has fought on education and health care.
ANDREW: So am I.
MCAULIFFE: Let's keep this debate above it, and it's up to the voters in these nine upcoming states. Keep the personal attacks out of it. Let's keep it to issues.
And when you keep it to issues, that's why Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania by 10 points after having been outspent three to one, and I feel very comfortable about where we are in these upcoming contests.
MCAULIFFE: The voters want action on gas prices, on health care. Hillary Clinton is often specifics. And the final thing I'd say, Senator Obama will not debate Hillary Clinton. He turned us down in North Carolina, in Indiana. Let's have a debate on the issues.
ROBERTS: Let me come to an issue here. An issue that's being batted back and forth is this issue of whether or not there should be a gas tax holiday. Let's listen to what the two candidates had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unfortunately, after John McCain made the proposal, I guess Senator Clinton thought it was going to poll well so she said me too.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Senator Obama says we shouldn't do it and it's a gimmick. Senator McCain says we should do it but we shouldn't pay for it. I sometimes feel like the Goldilocks of this campaign. Not too much, not too little, just right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Joe, yesterday you characterized what Senator Clinton is doing as pandering, but there are people out there who might like a little bit of a break at the pump and is it not a good idea to give them a little bit of a relief over the summer?
JOE ANDREW, SUPERDELEGATE SUPPORTING Obama: There's no question it's politically popular to try to give people a break. But the reality of it is for a half a tank of gas we're going to try to throw overboard some serious construction needs to be done, the highways across all of America, and any money that we get from taxing oil companies ought to go to try to provide the green tech jobs and try to handle the environmental concerns that both of these candidates stand for. The reality of here is like in most things, the Democratic party. We've got a choice not between right and wrong or good and bad, but between two goods and two rights. Both these candidates are great public servants. The question is which one of them is going to stand up and answer tough questions with complicated answers to make sure that we do the things that are not politically expedient but are right for the future.
ROBERTS: Terry, do you want to ring in on that?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Yes. I agree with Joe. First of all, Senator Obama ought to debate Senator Clinton. Why is he scared to debate him.
ROBERTS: Let's talk about the gas tax.
MCAULIFFE: Let me deal with the gas issue. What Hillary has said over the summer, let's give some of the money back to the people, we are about to see a record number of truckers go bankrupt. We can't afford to affect the infrastructure of these truckers who deliver the food stuff and other equipment and the necessary supplies to our folks. What she has said, very clearly, it does not come out of the highway trust fund. It would come out of the oil profits. They would pay for it. Exxon Mobil today in the newspaper $11 billion, quarterly profit. One of the largest of all times.
ROBERTS: And they still missed their projections.
MCAULIFFE: She had a plan to get 55 miles an hour for gas. She has been out there with a $50 billion project for green collar jobs. Hillary is the whole package. But let's give a little money back to people. They need it. They're hurting. We should do it. It's the right thing to do.
ROBERTS: Gentlemen, quick answer on both sides if I could. A little lightning around here with one question. Who's got the momentum going into Indiana and North Carolina? Joe?
ANDREW: No question, Barack Obama has got not only the momentum, but more importantly he's got the delegate count. And at the end of the day what matters is who's got the most delegates, and no matter what happens in this process over the next month, Barack Obama is going to be ahead in delegates.
ANDREW: That's going to tip the scales.
MCAULLIFE: We've just won Texas. We won Ohio. We just upon Pennsylvania. We feel very good about where we are. Clearly these upcoming -- Hillary has momentum on her side. 30 generals just came out endorsed her. The polls - just look at every poll the last four days. Hillary Clinton now beating John McCain, beating Senator Obama. It's exciting, the momentum is with Hillary. They're both great candidates. And Hillary has got the experience to lead this country and get things moving again.
ROBERTS: And you know, our new CNN poll shows just about a dead even race, Barack Obama has got 46 percent, Hillary Clinton has got 45 percent. Well within the margin of error. Gentlemen, a spirited discussion. Thanks both for being with us.
ANDREW: Thanks, John. Good to be here.
MCAULLIFE: Great to see you, Joe.
ANDREW: Take care, Terry.
ROBERTS: All right. Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Taking you live to Kansas City, Missouri. These are the first pictures we're actually getting in since that violent storm ripped through the area. Thanks to our affiliate KMBC. Those hurricane-force winds and the hail and the heavy rain. Rob Marciano has been talking about it all morning. It moved through Missouri. At least 200 homes and business we are told have been left damaged. You are seeing now the damaged that we have reported on as we get these pictures for the very first time.
We're told at least three injuries at this point. I haven't had any reports of any deaths at this time but we of course, are following the power outages as well as the search possibly for any more people that have been injured as residents right now surveying the damage. First live pictures, thanks to KMBC. Their chopper shot there in Kansas City, Missouri. Rough overnight for those folks living there.
Alina Cho, other stories making headlines. You've been talking about this as well.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I have been, and, you know, let's hope that damage was contained just to that area, but we're also watching some breaking news internationally, guys. Good morning, everybody. That breaking news is coming out of Yemen. Witnesses say an explosion there has killed at least 15 people. It happened about 150 miles north of Yemen's capital, Sana.
According to government officials, a bomb carried on a motorcycle detonated at a mosque just as people were leaving after prayers. There have been no immediate claims of responsibility.
Well, if you have a credit card and most of you do, listen up. Today the Federal Reserve and banking regulators say they're going to unveil a plan to help you. It bans credit card companies from charging late fees when customers aren't given a reasonable amount of time to make a payment. And bars companies from charging you interest on debt you've already repaid. The banking industry is denouncing the plan.
Police in Florida are investigating the apparent suicide of Debra Jean Palfrey, otherwise known as the "D.C. madam." Palfrey's body was found yesterday near her mother's home in Florida along with apparent suicide notes. Palfrey was convicted last month of running a prostitution ring that catered to Washington's political elite. She had been facing up to 55 years in prison. Police at this point do not suspect foul play.
The widow of famed adventurer Steve Fossett is now being asked to pay Nevada's nearly $700,000 bill. It was money that was used for the unsuccessful search to find her husband. Fossett disappeared in early September you may recall after he took off in a single-engine plane. His body was never found. Fossett gained worldwide fame when in 2002 he became the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon.
And trying to make one last push before the Indiana primary, Barack Obama delivered the top ten list last night for one of that state's favorite sons, David Letterman. Here's just a few of the surprising facts about Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I tell my kids to clean their room, I finish with, I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": The kids will pay attention.
OBAMA: Earlier today I bowled a 39.
LETTERMAN: Yes. Go get them. And number two.
OBAMA: This has nothing to do with the top ten. But what the heck is up with Paula Abdul?
LETTERMAN: Yes, exactly. That's what we're talking about. And the number one surprising fact about Barack Obama --
OBAMA: I have not slept since October.
LETTERMAN: I believe it. I absolutely believe it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Either have we.
PHILLIPS: That's a very good point.
ROBERTS: Like Wolf Blitzer says, I'll rest when I drop, I'll sleep when I'm dead.
PHILLIPS: Sleep deprivation, the six signs.
ROBERTS: Seven steps of sleep deprivation. She's at stage four.
ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: She still has a few -
CHO: Give her some time.
ROBERTS: 37 minutes after the hour. H pod here now with a look at business. What is going on?
VELSHI: What is that again?
ROBERTS: That's the hairless prophet of doom.
VELSHI: That's me. I am going to get back into doom mode for a minute. I'm going to tell you about - we keep telling you about these airline fare increases. I'm going to break down on an airline ticket what you pay not just in fuel surcharges, but also to the government and for the maintenance of those airports. Stay with us. We'll be back with more of that on AMERICAN MORNING.
VELSHI: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Ali Velshi. I'm having a big problem saying the name of the show today, AMERICAN MORNING. Let me tell you, we've been telling you about fuel prices and fuel surcharges that these airlines have been implementing. So our friends over at farecompare.com who track fuel prices and airline fares have given us some numbers that break down what it would cost you for a domestic $400 ticket. If you pay $400 to go somewhere round trip, here is how that fare breaks down. It's kind of interesting. The airfare is about $240. The fuel surcharges are now about $93, which is pretty incredible. Airport improvements, which you would know as the passenger facility charge, amount to $18. There's a federal flight segment tax of $14. There's a 9/11 security fee of $10 which employs people to make sure that you don't take more than 3 oz of shampoo on the flight with you. There's a federal sales tax on the airplane of $18 and a federal sales tax on the fuel of about $7. So, the interesting thing here is on a $400 round trip fare almost a quarter, 25 percent is going to fuel surcharges and almost 17 percent is going to airports and the federal government. On a $400 fare the airfare on that is $240. That's what the airline is getting.
ROBERTS: That's fascinating. I didn't know that. VELSHI: We didn't know this either, and we've been tracking this for a long time. And farecompare finally broke this down for us and offered it and said they hadn't really thought about it.
ROBERTS: Can you put that back up.
VELSHI: Let's look at that again. Look at the various charges that add up. So for the government you've got the airport improvement. That's an airport. You got the federal flight segment fax, you got the 9/11 security fee, the federal sales tax on airfare and the federal sales tax on fuel. So the airline gets 240 bucks. The fuel surcharge, which the airline also gets, $93, and the rest of it is taxes.
PHILLIPS: I think the security fee went down. Isn't it $5 now?
VELSHI: I will check on that.
PHILLIPS: Yes. Will you check on that, please.
VELSHI: I will just check on that information.
PHILLIPS: I believe when I booked my ticket --
VELSHI: This is round trip. This is a $400 round trip fare so $5 each way. So, that would make sense.
PHILLIPS: There you go. Thank you.
VELSHI: Still a lot of money. You're -
ROBERTS: We certainly hope --
PHILLIPS: Every penny counts, even one tenth of a cent.
ROBERTS: We certainly hope when you take your trip to Atlanta later today that you are planning to come back.
VELSHI: Hey, interesting. Why is she only paying a $5 surcharge?
PHILLIPS: I can't wait to come back.
ROBERTS: H pod, appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Well, tearing across the plains. We have been talking about those devastating systems overnight. Twisters actually caught on tape, too, spotted in two different states. More severe wind, rain, and hail in the forecast. Also, Rob Marciano is actually in Kansas tracking that extreme weather. Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kyra. It's well east of here, thank goodness. This is a town that's still reeling from an F-5 that blew through here a year ago, but they are rebuilding. We'll have more on that, plus the storms that rocked Kansas City last night. It's all moving east. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.
MARCIANO: You're looking at new pictures coming into CNN from KMBC, our affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri, from the damage that was done by storms that rolled through that city last night. Gusty winds, probably in excess of 90 or 100 miles an hour, heavy rain and the hail and lightning. And there is the damage done. Several structures damaged or destroyed. We're told over 100 in spots. Three injuries at least. Gladstone being the most severely damaged. All of that is moving off to the east.
Good morning, everybody. Again, I'm Rob Marciano live from Greensburg, Kansas, where a year ago this weekend an F-5 completely tore apart this town. Let's More on that in a second. Let's go over to the severe weather that's happening right now. It's now east of Kansas City, Missouri, and it will continue to make its way east and the folks who live in the midsouth and the Mississippi River Valley, you're going to be under the gun here today.
First off, we have some tornado warnings that have just popped into the CNN severe weather center. East of Springfield, there you see them. They've got big-time hail. Over 100 reports of hail last night. Some of which were the size of baseballs and grapefruit size. So, that will do some damage as those cells move east towards West Palm. Move farther to the south, east of Ft. Smith, heading towards Little Rock, also some rough weather pressing off to the east. The storms prediction center has put out a moderate risk of severe weather. That's a higher category than what we had going yesterday. So, expect things not to improve today, maybe so tomorrow.
Things certainly improving here in Greensburg, Kansas. They had a clean slate to work with as 95 percent of the structures here were completely demolished a year ago and they are taking advantage of it. Now, the sun is coming up. Check out some of the action behind me. This building built in 1935 has not yet been touched or rebuilt, but beyond that you can see a new structure as the sun comes up. That is a building that's going to be the Community and Arts Center built by KU architecture students and it is completely green. They hope it to be a leads platinum certified. It's going to be powered by three windmills. You see up there. We're seeing windmills popping up in this area. It is sprouting up like the winter weeds.
It's amazing to see how they are going towards alternative power sources here and they're hoping that Greensburg is going to be the greenest town in America, and from what I've seen so far, John and Kyra, I don't doubt that's going to happen.
PHILLIPS: All right. Follow up pieces.
ROBERTS: Certainly building from the ground up. No question about that. Rob, thanks.
A way to treat severe depression by probing deep into the brain. Our own in-house brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us how. Not everybody has got their own in-house brain surgeon. We're fortunate enough to have one.
PHILLIPS: That's right. Plus the lengths some people are going to get their daily bread. Flour is so expensive. Some bakers say it's time to plant your own wheat. A trip to the bakery, turned wheat field. A little divine intervention there, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: It's coming up on ten minutes to the top of the hour now. Deep brain stimulation is commonly used to treat Parkinson's and other tremor disease but a new research out there today suggests it could help those who are severely depressed as well. Our chief medical correspondent and resident brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. So, how does it work?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is pretty remarkable stuff. You mentioned the fact that Parkinson's tremors, deep brain stimulation has been treating that for about 20 years. But think of this more like sort of a pacemaker to the heart. Pacemakers sort of regulates the heartbeat. Could you do the same thing in the brain specifically when it comes to something that's typically considered a psychological thing, depression, OCD. We have an animation here. I want to show you this, John.
I think it really sort of tells the tale. You're zooming in on the cerebral cortex going to a specific area of the brain here called the thalamus. Probes go in there as you see, and it gives a little bit of a signal. What this signal does over time, and the study, it sort of modulates the activity coming from the frontal lobe where a lot of depression, a lot of obsessive compulsive disorders might also come from. Those electrodes subsequently planted into the chest wall over here, and that's why you get the continuous signal. So, you have this sort of continuously modulating and it kind of feelings coming from the --
ROBERTS: So, what does it do, stimulate the production of neurotransmitters? Serotonin, dopamine, things like that?
GUPTA: Well, what it seems to do basically is you have in certain cases of depression, you might have too much activity coming from the frontal lobe or too little depending on the specific type of problem you're having. This sort of regulates it. If it's too much, it brings it down, too much, too little, it brings it up a little bit. It sorts of modulates it a bit.
ROBERTS: Obviously this is a very involved process. Who is eligible for this?
GUPTA: Well, so this is a relatively small study thus far. Dr. (Ali Razaya), out of the Cleveland Clinic, basically looked at 17 patients and found that over about a 12-month period, 50 percent of them had decreased depression. But to your point, people who have minimal depression are not a candidate for this.
This is for major depressive episodes. And as you might guess because it does involve a rather sophisticated operation, it's not a first line of treatment. So, these are people who have already failed medications, often times failed electroconvulsive therapy but are still severely debilitated. Electroconvulsive therapy, a lot people have heard about that, it is still-
ROBERTS: Shock treatment.
GUPTA: Shock treatment. It's still a widely used treatment, but one way to think about that, it's sort of like defibrillating the heart. You give it one jolt whereas this --
ROBERTS: This is like a little trickle charge.
GUPTA: Yes. It's like a pacemaker of the heart. So, it's a more constant sort of thing. Could this work in the long term? It's in studies right now. But at least this initial study, 50 percent of the people had significant benefits.
ROBERTS: Fascinating stuff. Sanjay, thanks very much.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: You can catch Dr. Gupta on his own program "House Call," Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 Eastern right here on CNN. Kyra.
PHILLIPS: The latest CNN opinion research corporation poll shows that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a dead heat among Democratic voters. This is as Obama is closing the gap in the all-important superdelegate race. Now, just yesterday former Democratic party leader Joe Andrew announced that he was switching sides and will now vote for Obama instead of Clinton. That brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. What should super delegates base their votes on? 35 percent of you say well the candidate who has the most pledged delegates is the way to go. 10 percent think that local results should be the determining factor. 27 percent say they should follow the overall popular vote. 28 percent say the superdelegates should vote their conscience. You can cast your vote at cnn.com/am.
Once again we want to take a look at some of those devastating pictures coming out of areas close to Kansas City, Missouri. Most of this damage that happened overnight in the northern suburbs of the Kansas City area, power out to thousands of people right now. About 200 homes and businesses damaged, completely destroyed. We're going to have more live from this area up after the break.
ROBERTS: And some more pictures this morning of the devastation left over from that series of storms that came down. This is in the northern part of Kansas City. Some 200 homes and businesses damaged in the Kansas City area. A number of injuries. None that we know of at this point that are serious, and thankfully no fatalities, but a very strong storm system moved through that area yesterday and overnight and it's moving eastward again. Our Reynolds Wolf is in the weather center down there in Atlanta. He's tracking the extreme weather and all these storms and where they're going today. What are we looking at, Reynolds?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, one key thing we're noticing with the storm system is that it is a very quick mover. Very violent. We've had reports of storm damage as you have shown moments ago near Kansas City. Right now, you are seeing a couple of boxes popping up in a few locations, right along the line and it points a little bit behind. We have those tornado watches that are in effect by the storms prediction center out of Norman, Oklahoma. But then right ahead of it we got some yellow popping up and that would be your severe thunderstorm watch that is in effect.
Right now, some of these hail-producers especially just to the west of Mountain view and West Plains. In Mammoth Springs, not much for you at this point, but look a little bit further back on to the west, we got this intense line that's moving through. Now, I'll tell you, we got some pockets we may have very strong, very destructive winds moving through. Places like Mountain Grove and back to Houston, you got the worst of it. However in Hartville, you have seen the worst of it as the storm drives its way a little bit more to the east. Something we're going to be watching for a good part of the day. Now, we're going to make our way a little bit farther south into parts of Arkansas.
You got Ft. Smith, you got Greenwood, but Russellville, if you happen to be in Russellville this morning, you probably hear or at least feel that homes, your house shaking just a little bit from the violent storms you're seeing just out a bit to the west. In Clarksville, you got the heavy storm moving right through. A few pockets here and there. You will notice a little bit of a bow shape with these storms, which is a indication of really strong winds that are coming through. So I would expect this to really kick in in places like Russellville for the next 20 to 30 minutes. But then right behind if conditions will improve gradually as drier air moves through more stabilizing of an atmosphere for you. But ahead of this line, you're going to have the possibility of these tornadoes, the large hail, damaging winds, a big factor.
But one thing I know that we're going to see with this, John, is much in terms of flash flooding. And the reason why is because these storms are moving through at such a quick clip. The ground is not going to have an opportunity to really get saturated and we're not going to see much in terms of runoff. So, flooding, no, but definitely destructive winds and the possibility of tornadoes and large hail. Back to you, John.
ROBERTS: Well, that's enough for people. Let alone heading into flooding. Reynolds Wolf for us this morning. Keep an eye out for us, Reynolds. Thanks.
WOLF: You bet.
PHILLIPS: Sky high prices here at home and a worsening crisis overseas all over food. Protests in Afghanistan after the cost of flour shot up 75 percent in just three months. Here at home President Bush asking congress for an additional $770 million for emergency food aid around the world, and that's on top of the $200 million that the U.S. has already donated.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to act quickly on that request. We'll talk about acting quickly, take all of that into account, and look at Americans and how they're feeling the pinch as bakers boost prices because of the soaring cost of wheat. But now some bakers are taking action into their own hands.
In Massachusetts, two bakers are starting to grow wheat themselves, and they're calling on their customers to join in and help. Jonathan Stevens were the owners of "Hungry Ghost Bread," in North Hampton, Massachusetts. He joins me live from his bakery. Jonathan, I'd love to know how you came up with the name "Hungry Ghost Bread."
JONATHAN STEVENS, BAKER: Hungry Ghosts are the names of the spirits of insatiable desire, which refers both to the sourdough and to some of our customers.
PHILLIPS: Oh, I love it. I didn't think we'd get spiritual when talking about bread making. Tell me what you're working on right now.
STEVENS: We're making hala for this evening.
PHILLIPS: Hala for this evening. And tell me about your -- how much do you make a morning?
STEVENS: I can't even count that high. I'm too busy making the bread. But I literally don't count it. I just make it. It's the same loaf over and over and over again.
PHILLIPS: Let me ask you as you're making the loaf and of course we're talking about the sky high prices of wheat, tell me what was the breaking point for you when you thought that's it, I'm going to talk to local farmers, figure out how do it, get some advice and start growing my own wheat right outside my bakery.
STEVENS: Well, in some ways this idea has been percolating for a while, for a couple of years but since flour in the last year went up almost three fold for us, three times.