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Indiana & North Carolina Voters Hear Hard Sell; Pumped up Gas Prices Increasing Concern for Voters; Nationwide Meat and Poultry Recall

Aired May 5, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Democrats dashing for votes ahead of tomorrow's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. The candidates are live on the stop and we have the latest poll numbers.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Pump prices. Issue No. 1 helping drive the Democratic duel. How Clinton and Obama differ on the gas tax holiday.

NGUYEN: Plus breaking news. Thousands reported dead in Southeast Asia. The rush to help survivors in Myanmar in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: A very busy morning shaping up for you in the NEWSROOM. We are 24 hours away from two key primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. Throughout the day, the best political team on television will bring you unmatched coverage of the candidates, the issues and the latest polls.

In fact, we're standing by this hour to hear from Senator Hillary Clinton. She is expected to address a crowd of supporters in Greenville, North Carolina in just a couple of minutes. When that event begins, we will bring it to you here live in the NEWSROOM.

We want to begin with breaking news from Southeast Asia. The numbers absolutely staggering. Almost 4,000 people kill, 3,000 missing. This morning state radio dramatically upped the numbers from a monster cyclone that hit Myanmar.

Just a few minutes ago our correspondent in Myanmar gave us the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult for us on the ground here to confirm the numbers. The situations are exceptionally difficult here. The phone lines are down. There's no electricity for most of the city. There's very scarce fuel and very scarce water. So it's incredibly difficult for any official word. Most of the ministries are about a 12-hour drive north of where we are in a new city called (INAUDIBLE).

Yangon is no longer the capital city of Myanmar, formerly Burma. But Yangon is the city that bore the brunt of this cyclone. And just driving around the city, I mean, it's really shredded by the winds. I mean there is barely a tree standing in some parts. And extensive damage, the building (INAUDIBLE) we see people looking for fuel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Man, just looking at that destruction.

Rob Marciano joins us now. You know they call it a cyclone. We call it a hurricane.

And when we talk about the strength, any idea how strong it was?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're thinking probably about 130 miles an hour. So that's right up the cusp of category three to category four. Tough to really say how strong it was. Looking at those picks of -- you know it looks like it was probably a category four storm. But you know, a lot of the observations, the little ones, the few that are out there, are controlled by a very restrictive military. So we really don't know how strong the winds were.

Here's the Bay of Bengal, here's Myanmar, the Andaman Sea. We think it came in right into through here. And this is Mississippi Delta-like, a lot of lowlands, a lot of swampy areas. And also, the pecimetry (ph) of the way of the -- ocean north of sea is shaped at the bottom here, likely much like the Gulf of Mexico. So with winds coming in this way, we probably had a storm surge that was significant on top of those winds that were, you know, 130, maybe more miles an hour.

They do get these storms. They don't get as many as we get hurricanes in the Atlantic. But the stronger ones tend to come in spring and in fall. They have kind of a lull in the summertime. So, this is the time of year. But they -- you know, they don't come that often. So this is something that certainly is unusual and seemingly is getting worse by the day as far as the death toll is concerned.

HARRIS: And Rob, we have a correspondent on the ground there in Yangon. And we will continue, obviously, to follow developments on this story throughout the morning for you right here in the NEWSROOM.

Rob, appreciate it, thank you.

MARCIANO: Thanks.

NGUYEN: Well, the stage is set. Less than 24 hours away from two key primaries. Hillary Clinton calls it the final push. Barack Obama issues a humble plea. But together, they look ahead to key votes tomorrow.

Indiana and North Carolina holding primaries and the stakes, they are huge -- 187 pledged delegates up for grabs. In such a tight battle for the Democratic nomination, both candidates see the outcome as crucial. CNN's Dan Lothian is with the Election Express in Indianapolis.

And as we look at the numbers out of Guam, the difference was only seven votes. So as we look to Tuesday, how tight is this race in both states?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very tight, you know, Senator Barack Obama had a huge lead in North Carolina. Now that lead is only down to about eight points or so, pretty much staying steady, though, since the latter part of last week.

And then here in Indiana, it's virtually neck and neck. I think the latest poll of polls shows Senator Clinton ahead by four points or so. But still a very, very tight race. And in part, that's why you see the continued debate over the gas tax holiday. This is something that Senator Clinton has been hitting hard now for more than a week.

And she continues standing firm on that because she -- although she admits that this is not something that would save people a whole lot of money, she said it would provide -- especially those working class voters a little bit of relief at a time when they need it most.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Senator Obama doesn't want to give consumers a break. I do. I want the oil companies to pay the gas tax this summer out of their record profits. Senator McCain wants to lift the gas tax but doesn't want to pay for it. So I think I have the responsible position to give people immediate relief right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Senator Barack Obama, obviously, has been saying that he does not believe that this amounts to very much in terms of savings for voters out there. In fact, he said that in the tend it could end up costing consumers a lot more money because the oil companies will essentially just hike the prices in order to make up for this tax.

And he says really that he believes that this whole thing that Senator Clinton is pushing, this gas tax holiday, is nothing more than a campaign tactic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is that for 20, 30 years, we haven't done what's needed to make sure that people are making ends meet. I mean what's absolutely true is during the Bush administration, there hasn't been much regard for what ordinary people are going through.

But if we are going to do deal seriously with gas prices, we're not going to pretend to do something by offering a tax holiday that would at best provide 30 cents a day for three months for a grand total of $28.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Senator Obama says what he believes is needed most is some sort of tax break for middle class Americans saving them about $1,000 for families. And also a lot more work in terms of coming up with alternative energy sources, he believes, that if you have sort of some of these long-term goals, that those are the things that really can impact families most -- Betty.

NGUYEN: And so, Dan, when it comes to voters, are you expecting to see large numbers at the polls tomorrow?

LOTHIAN: Really the sense is here that we will have record turnout. In fact, some of the early voting that had taken place were pretty high numbers. And again, this is the same kind of thing that we saw in Pennsylvania, we've seen in other states leading up to the primaries because this is such a competitive race.

A lot of these folks, what they'll tell you is we've never really been on the map when it comes to the primary contest. By the time it gets to our state, it's pretty much all said and done. So there's a certain energy there, certainly among the Democrat that they're getting a chance to play in this race for the first time. And so they'll be heading out to the polls.

NGUYEN: You want to make your voice count.

All right. Thank you, Dan Lothian, joining us live.

HARRIS: Why don't we take you to Greenville, North Carolina right now. There you see New York senator Clinton being introduced to the crowd by North Carolina governor Mike Easley.

Where are we here? We're at the gymnasium at Pitt Community College. When Senator Clinton begins her remarks, we will bring those to you live right here in the NEWSROOM.

Tomorrow's primaries, big day, big stakes for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Let's crunch the numbers here. Indiana 72 delegates up for grabs. It is the second largest delegate prize left in the presidential race. And the biggest, yes, North Carolina, Clinton and Obama competing for 115 delegates there.

Our latest CNN poll of polls, an average of three recent surveys shows Obama ahead of Clinton in North Carolina by eight points. Obama favored by 50 percent of likely Democratic voters. Clinton by 42 percent in Indiana. Clinton has pulled ahead, she's at 48 percent. Obama at 44 percent.

And our national poll of polls this morning, Obama now leading Clinton by four points, 47 to 43, that's up two points from last week.

NGUYEN: Well, let's not forget Guam. Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton by seven votes in weekend caucuses there. That's out of more than 4500 votes cast. They will split four pledged delegates from the tiny U.S. Pacific territory. Americans there are represented at the party conventions, but they do not get to vote in the November election.

HARRIS: All right. We want to remind you again CNN is your home for politics and the place for extensive coverage of today's and tomorrow's contests rather. Throughout the day we will shadow the candidates and let them talk to you live and unfiltered. If you miss their events, we will replay large portions of their comments.

CNN is the place for the best political coverage on television.

NGUYEN: All right. So what's driving Indiana and North Carolina voters? We heard a little bit of it from Dan Lothian and one of it, one of those items, gas prices, of course. Clinton painting her rival as an out-of-touch elitist. Obama charging Clinton with a Washington gimmick.

And speaking of the candidates, let's take you straight to the campaign trail, Greenville, North Carolina and Hillary Clinton.

Let's take a listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CLINTON: ...to be here. I thank all of you for coming out this morning.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, my husband, my daughter and I are having such a good time campaigning across North Carolina. We have just worked our way from one end of the state and back. We have eaten enough barbecue to probably fill this gym. We have had the best times talking and having a conversation with people about what's on your minds. And I sure have enjoyed being with Governor Easley and First Lady Mary Easley.

Now I'm so happy that Michael is here. He just finished his law school exam. So he can come out and enjoy this great spring day and the campaigning that goes with it. And I am so grateful to each and every one of you because you, obviously, care enough about the decision you are going to make tomorrow to be here. Those of you who are supporting me, I thank you, those of you still trying to make up your mind, I hope I'll be able to persuade you and earn your vote.

Because by the time the polls close tomorrow, North Carolina voters will have helped to pick the next president of the United States of America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And in these closing hours of the campaign, I want to make three points. Number one, I appreciate what Governor Easley said. I believe that I have the preparation, and the understanding of what it's going to take to turn our country around. It is not going to be easy. You know, the world is going to breathe a sigh of relief when that moving van pulls out from behind the White House heading back to Texas.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: but then, I want you to think about what the next president will be confronting. Two wars, a war to end in Iraq and bring our troops home, and a war to win in Afghanistan and go after those who attacked our country. An economy in crisis with gas prices exploding. I had a woman tell me in Indiana the other day, she gets sick to her stomach when she pulls into the gas station because it's taking more and more of her disposable income to fill up her car.

You've got home foreclosure crisis. You've got people worrying about their jobs being shipped overseas, something that North Carolinians know a lot about and have had to put up with now for a number of years. So, the problems that the next president is going to have to solve are some of the most serious that any president has had to deal with for decades.

I had an historian tell me that probably not since Harry Truman has there been so many consequential serious problems awaiting the next president. That is why this is not any ordinary election. You know, in elections we can vote for whomever we want based on anything we choose. That's our right as Americans, and everybody's vote counts the same, thank goodness, as long as we get them counted, which we're going to do in the '08 election.

But what we have to recognize is that this is more like a hiring decision. Who are you going to hire to tackle all these tough problems for you? Somebody who understands what you're going through, cares about it, gets it, and will stand up there every day and fight for you. The wealthy and the well connected have had their president. It's time that the rest of America, the hard-working, middle-class families had a president on their side again.

I believe that I have what it takes to be on your side because that's what I think the next president should do. I know what it takes to go and try to solve these problems from the economy to health care to education. And I will do what it takes because at the end of the day, you don't hire a president to make speeches, you hire a president to solve problems and take care of you and your family.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And number two, I have laid out very specific solution. I have gone all over North Carolina, talking about what I would do on every one of these important matters to you. And you can go to my Web site. I invite you to do so, HillaryClinton.com. It's all laid out there. But I want to hit some of the highlights because I know from what people tell me what you're worried about.

We got to turn this economy around. That means getting out of our tax code any remaining benefit that gives one penny of your tax dollars to any business that moves a job out of Pitt County to a foreign country. We are going to stop that once and for all.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Number two, we're going to make sure the tax code starts working for hard-working Americans. That means we're going to get rid of all of the benefits that go to the wealthiest of our fellow citizens. You know, listen, they've been successful. My husband has been more successful than any of us could have dreamed. But we like to pay our fair share to support the federal government. You have Wall Street money managers making $50 million a year who pay less as a percentage of their income in taxes than a truck driver, a nurse, a teacher or somebody right here in Pitt County, making less than $50,000 a year pays.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We're going to have a new trade agreement, starting with renegotiating NAFTA which I am committed to doing. And we're going to get tough on China. They manipulate their currency, they violate the rules. It's time we had a president who said, look, we don't mind trading with you, but you've got to play by the same rules everybody else plays with. And we're tired of having you import to us lead-laced toys, contaminated pet food, and polluted pharmaceuticals.

We're going to stand up and say no more.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And we're going to start creating new jobs, millions of new jobs. Now I thought we're on the right track in the 1990s. I'm very proud of my husband's economic record. Nearly 23 million new jobs. And you know, it wasn't just that the people who already were doing well were doing better, everybody did better. More people lifted out of poverty than any time in our nation's recent history.

I was proud of that because that's when America works best when we're all in this together and we're all making progress together. There isn't an American I know that begrudges anybody who becomes a millionaire or a billionaire. That is the American dream. But that should not be at the expense of everybody else, trying to have a good, solid, middle-class lifestyle and income that gives them a good future for themselves and their children.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I have a plan to create at least five million new jobs from clean renewable energy. We can do that, we can begin to invest in wind and solar and clean coal and geothermal and biofuels. North Carolina can be a leader in taking what you grow and turning it into what we need to fuel our vehicles and trucks. We are going to have higher gas mileage cars. I have in my plan a $10,000 credit for people who buy those hybrids because I want you to buy them but it's too expensive, so we've got to create a market for them to get the auto companies to be producing more of them.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now I know all of my plan, which is laid out on my Web site, it's not going to happen until we get the oil men out of the White House. But as soon as they go, we are going to be ready for a clean, renewable energy future. Then we're also going to invest in bridges and roads and tunnels and everything that makes our economy work well, something that North Carolina particularly needs because you are growing so fast.

A lot of people want to live here. That's the good news. But you got to keep up with that. And that's going to need a good partner in the White House. So we can create millions of new jobs if we get back to the economic policies that we know work. And we can also do it by being fiscally responsible again. You know it is tragic that we are now dependent both on foreign oil and foreign money.

But every single day, thanks to George Bush, who inherited a balanced budget and a surplus and literally threw it away, we have to hope that people in Beijing and Seoul and Tokyo and Riyadh and everywhere in the world get up and say, well, we'll just keep buying their debt, you know?

We were on the way to being out of debt when Bill left office. We were on the way to having the resources to make sure Social Security remains solvent and to fix Medicare and do all that we need to do to make sure this generation of Americans have the same opportunities as previous generation. So we're going to get back to an old-fashioned idea: you do not spend money you don't have. We're going to be paying as you go in the federal government again.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We're also going to move toward quality, affordable health care for everyone. And this is a great place to discuss that. The governor told me that Pitt Community College has the largest nursing program in the state of North Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I am so proud that the American Nurses Association endorsed me because nurses get it. They know we've got to have quality affordable health care for every single American. I have a plan to do that. It's not government run. It doesn't create any new bureaucracy. It's pretty simple. We're going to take an already existing program, the one that members of Congress use to get their health care, and nine million federal employees. And we're going to open it up to every American. I figure if it's good enough for Congress, it's good enough for North Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And we're going to make sure that education remains the passport to opportunity. That means preschool, building on what the governor has done. I commend him for understanding that if we get our kids off to a good start with pre-kindergarten and preschool programs, they will do better in school. We will close the achievement gap by at least 50 percent.

NGUYEN: And you've been listening to Senator Hillary Clinton in Greenville, North Carolina there, speaking at a rally. We are going to take a quick break. We'll be back with much more of this live coverage.

We'll also bring you coverage of Barack Obama on the campaign trail. You are in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: Back now on the campaign trail and Senator Hillary Clinton speaking in Greensville, North Carolina.

Let's take a listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CLINTON: Now Iraq has been a big issue in this campaign because it's a big issue for America. But I am convinced that we've got to bring our troops home and I have committed to beginning to do that within 60 days. And I am very proud that your native North Carolinian, retired general Hue Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed me last week, traveled with me from Fayetteville to Asheville to Jacksonville, telling the crowds we have that he endorsed me because he trusted me to be the commander in chief to end the war in Iraq with honor. And that is exactly what I will do.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And when we bring our troops home, we're going to take care of them. We are going to make sure they've got the health care and the services they deserve. I spent a lot of my time as a senator cutting through the red tape, fighting with the bureaucracy for veterans that can't get into the VA, for veterans who can't get their disability compensation.

That is wrong, and we need a commander in chief who will take care of those who have taken care of us. And that is exactly what I will do.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now there are some big differences in this campaign. Now I have said all across this state that, of course, once we have a nominee, we're going to close ranks and have a unified party because the differences between us as Democrats pale in comparison to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans. We do not need four more years of those kinds of policies.

But, obviously, I get up every day and work as hard as I do because I think I am the person best prepared to meet the challenges that the next president will confront, to be the president that America needs right now and that I am the stronger candidate against Senator McCain.

And so, we have some differences, my opponent Senator Obama and I. And those are perfectly legitimate. You know, no two people are alike, you can't expect two people running for president to have exactly the same positions. You know, I'll tell you, right now, I know what these gas prices are doing to people. I know what they are doing to farmers and truckers and people who commute long distances, people who live in the country and have to drive just to get nearly anywhere.

And what I want to do is provide some immediate relief. I want the oil companies to pay the gas tax this summer out of their record profits because they need to be part of the solution instead of the problem. And that's a difference that I have with both Senator Obama and Senator McCain.

Senator Obama doesn't want to do anything, Senator McCain says, OK, fine. Take off the tax but don't pay for it.

No, we can't do that, because that money can't go back into the deficit, making it bigger, or into depriving the highway trust fund of money so you can't repair your roads here in North Carolina. So I think I've got the right approach. Let's listen to what people are telling us. I don't think folks in Washington listen enough. Because if we listened, we would hear this incredible cry, please, just pay attention to what's going on in our lives.

You know what, I don't think they do, but I don't think they know half the time. So here's what I believe, is let's give you a break this summer. For the average person it would be about $70. But for people who drive longer, which is a lot of folks in this economy, it could be hundreds and we know that for truckers, you would save $2 billion in fuel costs.

That in turn would be a way to keep the grocery bills from getting so high because part of the reason they're going up is because everything gets trucked in and you've got to pay for the extra fuel cost. And I've also said I don't think this is on the up and up. If I were the president, I would launch an investigation right now into the way energy traders are manipulating the oil markets, which I believe is increasing the price.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We would close what is unfortunately named the Enron loophole. Some of you remember Enron? Well, you remember what those energy traders did? They manipulated the price of electricity on the West Coast. They ripped off people living in California, Oregon and Washington. Energy traders are manipulating the price of oil right now, ripping off the entire country.

I would close that Enron loophole, I would regulate them, because I even have credible evidence based on testimony from oil executives that if it were just up to the markets, supply and demand, the price of oil would be a lot less, maybe $20 less, maybe as much as only $50 to $55 a barrel. This is a big deal. And you need a president tough enough to take on these energy traders and these oil companies and these oil countries.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So, I'm asking for your help tomorrow. I'm asking that you think about what you want in the next president. Somebody who is prepared to do the job, ready on day one to be your commander in chief and to be the president who turns the country around. Somebody who has the plans and the understanding of what it's going to take, both to deal in the here and now to help people who are really being squeezed, and to put us on a much firmer foundation going forward. I can't do this without your help. But with your help, we will turn this country around, put it back on the right path, and we together will make history. So let's go out and do what we need to do, North Carolina.

Thank you and God bless you, and God bless America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

NGUYEN: And you've been listening to Senator Hillary Clinton in Greenville, North Carolina. She speaks to a rally there.

North Carolina, a very important state, especially come tomorrow as 115 delegates are up for grabs. Indiana also going to the polls tomorrow with 72 delegates up for grabs.

So a lot of speeches will be made today as the candidates get out and try to rally people around them so that they will go and vote tomorrow in those primaries.

HARRIS: And speaking of speeches, let's get you to one. Evansville Indiana, is the location. And Illinois senator Barack Obama was there earlier at a rally, a stop there in Evansville.

Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Fighting for the American dream not just for a few people but for everybody. And that's what this election is about. And that's what union movement is about. That's what all of you have been about.

So I just want all of you to know I'm going to be a partner with you. We are going to fight together to make sure that everybody gets a fair shake. That's been my track record in Illinois. That's been my track record in the United States Senate. So you can trust when I say that I'm going to be there with you. And those aren't just words. That I'm going to be following through.

But I need your help to get me there. This is going to be a tight election here in Indiana. Every poll shows it is a dead heat. We need every single vote. So, you guys are pretty persuasive. I need you to tell your membership, this is something worth fighting for. And that they need to come out and vote. Vote for me.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Illinois Senator Barack Obama at -- let's call it a town hall this morning in Evansville, Indiana. For a moment here let's go beyond the sound bite. The candidates unfiltered in their own words on the issues that matter to you.

Senator Barack Obama talked to our John Roberts earlier on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": Senator, it's good to see you this morning.

OBAMA: Great to talk to you, John.

ROBERTS: I want to just stipulate at the beginning of this interview, we are declaring a Reverend Wright free zone today. So no questions about Reverend Wright. Our viewers want us to move on so this morning we're going to move on. Is that OK with you?

OBAMA: Fair enough. That sounds just fine.

ROBERTS: Let's get right to the issues then. You have criticized Hillary Clinton about this idea of a gas tax holiday, calling it a typical political gimmick. Here's her response to your criticisms to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I think we have been for the last seven years seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven't worked well for the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So that could be read as a not so subtle dig at you, that you're an elitist who doesn't understand the problem that regular folks are going through with these gasoline prices. What do you say?

OBAMA: Well, I think that's nonsense, if that's what she intended because the fact is that for 20, 30 years, we haven't done what's needed to make sure that people are making ends meet.

I mean, what's absolutely true is that during the Bush administration, there hasn't been much regard for what ordinary people are going through. But if we're going to deal seriously with gas prices, we're not going to pretend to do something by offering a tax holiday that would at best provide 30 cents a day for three months for a grand total of $28.

ROBERTS: So what would you do instead?

OBAMA: It is more likely, John, just to let me finish, it's more likely to reward oil companies further because they'll just jack up their prices to fill up whatever the gap was that's left by a suspension of the gas tax.

So what I have said is, I want to provide a middle class tax cut of up to $1,000 per family per year, a much bigger amount of relief that can cover not only rising gas prices, but also rising food prices and at the same time I want to invest in alternative energy and raising fuel efficiency standards on cars, something that I've been calling for for years and that Senator Clinton has opposed in the past.

We can't keep on putting off the day of reckoning, five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. There's nobody who thinks that a gas tax holiday is going to lower gas prices over the long-term.

ROBERTS: But all of that that you mentioned would take a long time to get through Congress. Is there anything that could be done immediately, if you were president today to try to bring some relief to people at the pump?

OBAMA: Well, what I've said is let's go ahead and pass the second part of my tax stimulus proposal that would put some money immediately in the pockets of people.

Listen, I'm meeting people every day who can't get to a job because they can't fill up the gas tank or they are trying to figure out how to make ends meet now that they have had an extra $100 taken out of their bottom line at the end of the month. So I understand how badly people are hurting.

If we're serious about helping them, let's provide them some relief, but let's not pretend that we're doing something by suggesting a gas tax holiday that will not be paid for and frankly it is very unlikely that you would see President George Bush sign the kind of windfall profits tax that Hillary Clinton says she would use to pay for it.

ROBERTS: Senator, you have also been very critical of Hillary Clinton's statement about Iran and this idea that if it attacks Israel, we would be able to, "obliterate" them. Your answer to that same question was far more ambiguous than hers. Is there any room for ambiguity when it comes to the issue of Israel's survival?

OBAMA: No, that's not what I said, John. I wasn't ambiguous at all. I said that if Israel was attacked, we would respond forcefully and an attack on Israel, one of our most important allies in the world, would be considered as an attack on the United States.

Using the word obliterate, however, is the kind of language that we have seen George Bush use over the last seven years. And it's precisely -- that kind of provocative language that Senator Clinton criticized others for in the past, suggesting that if you're running for president, you shouldn't be stirring up international incidents.

We now have Iran bringing complaints to the United Nations. Particularly when you're doing it right before an election is probably not the best way to approach foreign policy.

ROBERTS: If Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon, would you use the United States nuclear arsenal against Iran?

OBAMA: John, I'm not going to speculate. As I said before, Senator Clinton was the first one to suggest we should never talk about the use of nuclear weapons and gave a lot of us a lengthy disposition on that. Look, here's the bottom line. Israel is our ally and we will protect Israel. More importantly, though, we should be keeping our nuclear arsenal out of the hands of Iran, which is why I have called consistently for a mix of sanctions, but also carrots and direct talks to get Iran to stand down. That's the kind of leadership that we need out of the White House and that's the kind that I intend to provide as president of the United States.

ROBERTS: Senator, you have really been pounded by the Clinton campaign during this primary process, but a lot of people believe that that's nothing compared to what you would face should you become the nominee and have to go up against John McCain in the general election.

Some analysts have noted that you have a little bit of a glass chin when it comes to these attacks. The last month that you've had this primary campaign, many people say has not been your best. What are you going to do if you become the nominee to fend off attacks that will come at you from the Republican side?

OBAMA: John, I think as you have said, we have probably taken as many hits as anybody has in this presidential campaign. Senator Clinton has not. John McCain certainly has not and yet I'm still here. And, you know, competitive in both North Carolina and Indiana.

So we feel very confident about the fact that the American people are interested in who's going to be fighting for them. Who's going to make sure that they're living out their American dream? Who's going to make sure that college is affordable for their kids, that jobs are here and that's, you know, ultimately what this is about.

This is not about me and you know, certainly, you know, one of the things I'm confident about is that during the course of this campaign, as long as I stay focused on what people are caring about every single day, then our campaign is going to be just fine. More importantly, I think we can mobilize the American people to start meeting some of the challenges that lie ahead.

ROBERTS: One more quick note if I could, senator, because we're running out of time here. If after this entire primary process and you leading in the popular vote, the number of contests won and pledged delegates, if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, how will you feel personally about that?

OBAMA: John, I'm not going to speculate on that because I intend to win. That's why I'm here.

ROBERTS: Should it happen, how would you feel?

OBAMA: John, the day before two important elections the last thing I'm thinking about are superdelegates. What I'm thinking about are the folks that I'm out there fighting for.

ROBERTS: OK. We apparently have time for one more question, if I could just beg your indulgence here. Florida and Michigan, twice on this program, Hillary Clinton said there's no way to determine who the nominee will be until their situation has been resolved and their delegates counted.

Do you agree with that? And can you see a scenario under which you could declare a nominee without Florida and Michigan being involved?

OBAMA: Well, I think there's no doubt that we've got to get Michigan and the Florida delegation seated. That's something that I've talked about consistently.

ROBERTS: But are they critical to the determination of a nominee? Could a nominee be decided without Florida and Michigan being counted?

OBAMA: Well, I think as I said before, that it's important for us to make sure that they are seated and it's important that they're taken into account. Look, I've always said that the people of Michigan and the people of Florida deserve better.

Unfortunately, we set up the system and a set of rules and you know, none of us ended up campaigning in Michigan or Florida. My name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. So the question at this point is how do we make sure that those states are recognized that they're participating but it's following rules and everything is fair. And I think that's what our campaign is looking to achieve.

ROBERTS: Senator Barack Obama for us this morning from Evansville, Indiana. Good luck to you tomorrow. Thanks for being with us. Hopefully we'll be able to talk with you again on Wednesday following the primaries.

OBAMA: Thank you so much, John.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll see you again soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And we want to remind you, CNN is your home for politics. And the place for extensive coverage of tomorrow's contest throughout the day. We will shadow the candidates and let them talk directly to you, live and unfiltered.

If you miss any of their events, we will replay large portions of their comments. CNN is the place for the best political coverage on television. Later this morning, we will hear from presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain at a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona. That's in the 11:00 a.m. Eastern hour.

NGUYEN: All right, so politics aside, what are you having for lunch today? Well, before you break out that brown bag, you want to hear about a recall. That is still ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: So tomorrow's primary, big day, big states where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so let's crunch the numbers here. Indiana, 72 delegates up for grabs. It is the second largest delegate price left in the presidential race. The biggest, yes, North Carolina. Clinton and Obama competing for 115 delegates there.

We are watching the candidates all day for you right here in the NEWSROOM. And you will hear their comments, live and unfiltered.

NGUYEN: Well, Tony, we've heard better watch what you eat, right? Well, today, we really mean it. A New York-based company is recalling almost 300,000 pounds of meat and poultry because it may be contaminated.

CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here with much more on this.

The big question right now is when you hear something like this, how widespread is it? Did I get that meat?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You may have. It's possible, because it went all over the country.

NGUYEN: All over?

COHEN: We were talking about a lot of meat sold under three different brands. So let's take a look specifically at what happened here because this is a pretty big recall. These products were sold under the brand names Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer.

The food as I said was distributed nationwide. And the problem is that it may have contained Listeria. Now, Listeria is a nasty bug that can give you fever, headaches, chills, nausea. And if someone has a compromised immune system, in other words, they are not completely healthy, it can kill. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths if a pregnant woman ingests Listeria.

So this is not something to be messed with. And Gourmet Boutique the company we're talking about here, on their hotline they say they are making changes so this doesn't happen again, because this is their second recall in two months.

NGUYEN: Goodness. OK.

So they've got a hot line. I'm sure the Web site has information on the exact details of the meats and the dates and all of that. But when it comes to this kind of meat, people say, you know, you've got to throw it away without a doubt. But aside from that, is there any way to avoid Listeria?

COHEN: Right. In general there are. And folks who have compromised immune systems and often pregnant women will take steps to make sure that they can avoid Listeria. So there are a couple of things that you definitely want to avoid if that's what you're trying to do.

Don't eat soft cheeses unless it says pasteurized. Soft cheeses often are not pasteurized. Salads made at stores. Like you're going to a Deli, you get a chicken salad and egg salad, bad idea if you are trying to avoid Listeria. That's according to the --

NGUYEN: Not like a garden salad or anything like that.

COHEN: No. Stuff that would have meat or eggs in it would be -- what the issue would be. And raw or unpasteurized milk also something to avoid if you are trying to avoid Listeria.

NGUYEN: OK. Widespread, this recall. And so folks really need to make sure to check their freezer, that they don't have this in there and make sure that they consume it.

COHEN: It's a long list of products. On CNN.com we have the whole list.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. And that's where folks need to go today. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

NGUYEN: So for a complete list as we've been talking of those recalled product, here's what you do. You can go to our Web site at CNN.com/health.

HARRIS: OK. North Carolina, Indiana, time to decide. Before you vote tomorrow, hear from both the Democrats live throughout the day right here in the CNN NEWSROOM

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: So far this hour you've heard from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Another reminder here, we are expecting to hear from John McCain in the 11:00 a.m. Eastern hour live from Phoenix. We will bring you those comments live.

But as we bring you the comments from the candidates on the issues on your mind, here's John McCain speaking about the economy in Denver, Colorado, this on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans are hurting today. The latest jobs report, although not maybe as bad as some had predicted, is still bad. Unemployment continues up. Americans are suddenly and recently losing their jobs. Many of them are worrying about how they're going to keep their home, how they're going to afford health care, how they're going to keep their insurance.

And Americans are going through tough times now, my friends. And I don't think we can sugarcoat it. I think that these are enormous challenges and they affect every level of American society, and especially those working men and women, many of whom are holding two jobs and trying to educate their children and keep their home.

This morning and this evening, families will be sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out how they can afford their new home loan mortgage payments and they are also trying to figure out how to keep their health care, how to keep their insurance and keep their job. So these are tough times in America.

And I have a plan of action to fix our economy, to make sure that Americans remain in their home and also to realize the American dream to be able to educate their children and hand off to the next generation of Americans a better America than the one that we inherited. That's been the legacy of every generation of Americans.

And so today, we want to talk about health care. But I would be glad to talk about all the other issues. Before I do, I just want to talk to you about a modest proposal that I had a couple of weeks ago, which seems to have created a firestorm, particularly among the special interests that ride around in chauffeured limousines inside the beltway in Washington.

And that is, and that is a suspension, a holiday between Memorial Day and Labor Day where Americans do not have to pay the 18-and-a-half cents a gallon gas tax the next time they go to the gasoline station to get their tank filled up, and in the case of diesel, 24 cents per gallon.

My friends, the price of a gallon of gas continues up. Why don't we give American working men and women a little break for the summer? Just a little break for the summer? I mean, it's not the end of Western civilization as we know it.

We may not be able to fund the $233 million bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it. We may not be able to send $10 million to a county in Florida that said they didn't even want it. And we may not fund a whole bunch of the pork barrel unnecessary wasteful projects, absolutely wasteful projects that are put in, in the middle of the night in these spending bills that have nothing to do with need or priority but everything to do with the corrupting process that makes it dependent on the influence and power of an individual member of Congress or Senator.

And I say corrupting process because members of -- former members of Congress are now residing in federal prison. I'm going to stop that practice. I'm going to stop that pork barrel, earmarking, wasteful spending practice. And I will veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have gotten hundreds of millions of dollars in pork barrel earmark projects. One of them being the Woodstock Cultural Museum, in case you missed that one. $1 million of your tax dollars. Senator Obama got a whole bunch of money for the seed museum.

You know, with Americans and the problems they're in today, do we need to spend millions of dollars on a seed museum? I don't think so. So they want business as usual in Washington. They want the pork barrel. Senator Obama wants the pork barrel earmark projects to go on. And I want to give the American consumer a little bit of relief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain talking about his plan of action to turn around the slumping economy, gas tax holiday and his plan for keeping more families in their homes. Those comments on Friday from Denver, Colorado. We will hear from John McCain live in the 11:00 a.m. Eastern hour.

NGUYEN: Well, also making news this morning, breaking news from Southeast Asia. Thousands said to be dead or missing. A drive through Myanmar's biggest city reveals the power of a monster cyclone. The very latest ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: An unexpected inheritance. Would you know how to handle the windfall? Christine Romans has some tips now that are "Right on your Money."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANITA OUTLAW, INHERITED MONEY: OK, thank you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anita Outlaw's mother recently passed away leaving her daughter a hefty inheritance from a lifetime of savings.

OUTLAW: There is a guilt associated with spending it. And I don't know how long it will last, but I am very aware, I am very aware of why I have the money that I have.

ROMANS: A few weeks after her mother's death, Anita quit her job.

OUTLAW: Now I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. So that's a good feeling.

ROMANS: According to "Wall Street Journal" personal finance columnist Jonathan Clements, Anita should take it one step at a time.

JONATHAN CLEMENTS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": If you get an inheritance, there are a couple of things you really want to do, one is to slow down for a minute.

ROMANS: And it is best to make a plan and review your finances.

CLEMENTS: Find out what sort of debts that you have. Think about how much savings you have. Think about, you know, whether this is a time to be buying a home or paying off the mortgage.

ROMANS: Clements says one of the smarter things to do is to pay off your debts and invest carefully.

CLEMENTS: You don't want to be having all your money riding in a single piece of profit around three stocks. You really want to own a diversified portfolio of mutual funds.

ROMANS: Anita is still grieving and there are still many more difficult decisions ahead.

OUTLAW: My biggest thing is to make my mom proud of me in what I do with the money.

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

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