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AMERICAN MORNING

John Edwards Endorses Obama, Praises Clinton for Her Character and Strength; Speculating on Oil: Trades at $125 Barrel; How Ready is the U.S. for a Big Earthquake?

Aired May 15, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: One of the biggest endorsements in the Democratic Party goes to Barack Obama possibly dealing a final blow to Hillary Clinton's campaign for president. Former presidential candidate John Edwards told a crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Obama should be the party's nominee. It changed the conversation from Obama's 41 point loss in West Virginia to Edwards' plea to unite the party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is one man who knows and understands that this is the time for bold leadership. There is one man that knows how to create the change, the lasting change that you have to build from the ground up. There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two. And that man is Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The question this morning, will the voters and the superdelegates follow? CNN's Dan Lothian is with the CNN Election Express live for us this morning in Frankfort, Kentucky. You know, Hillary Clinton expected to handily win Kentucky. Is this expected to make any kind of a difference in Barack Obama's showing there, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, some people will say that endorsements really don't matter but, you know, the only true test will come next Tuesday. Right now, Senator Clinton has a huge lead here over Barack Obama, so it is expected that she will do well here.

But certainly, this is the big endorsement for the Obama campaign. Both Obama and Clinton have been courting Edwards heavily since he dropped out of the race on January 30th. But in the end, it was Senator Obama who won. And, you know, this is something that Senator Obama really, really wanted. He, according to sources within the Obama campaign, he had been reaching out to Senator Edwards on almost a weekly basis having phone conversations with him.

In the end, Senator Edwards decided to make his decision after the West Virginia primary because he felt that this ongoing battle between the Democrats was only hurting the Democratic Party. And so, he did this in the interest of party unity. As for Senator Obama, he says that this endorsement will only boost his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no doubt that John Edwards can be extremely helpful to us campaigning in every demographic. But his passion and credibility when it comes to issues of poverty and the plight of working people in this country, I think is a message that is powerful and one that fits with the kind of vision I have for America.

So I was very pleased not only with his endorsement but more importantly the themes that he's been pushing throughout this campaign. The idea of us working together on those issues is something that I'm excited about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Of course, this endorsement came on a day when Senator Clinton was trying to build some momentum after her big win in West Virginia. Her campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe says that they respect Senator Edwards but that they're really focused on what the voters are saying. They're saying that Senator Clinton is a fighter, that she's not giving up. And they're really hoping that another big win here in Kentucky next Tuesday will only back up support their argument that the voters want her to stay in -- John.

ROBERTS: Dan Lothian for us this morning in Frankfort, Kentucky. Dan, thanks.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Edwards also had good things to say about Hillary Clinton praising her campaign in his speech to endorse Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is very, very hard to get up every day and do what she's done. It is hard to go out there and fight and speak up when the odds turn against you. And what she has shown -- what she has shown is strength and character, and what drives her is something that every single one of us can and should appreciate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Edwards also said that Clinton is a leader in her own right, and not just because of her husband. Clinton's campaign manager Terry McAuliffe had this to say about the endorsement. "We respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed, this thing is far form over."

And before the endorsement news came out late in the afternoon, Hillary Clinton sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and made her case for staying in the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe in quitting. You may not win in life, but you do the best you can. You go the distance. You don't walk off the court before the buzzer sounds. You never know you might get a three-point shot at the end.

And so, we're going to finish this process. It's been a privilege and an honor to have met so many Americans, been to so many of the beautiful places in this country. And I feel like I'm doing if for the right reasons, and I still believe I'd be the better president and the stronger candidate against Senator McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Senator Clinton also got emotional when Wolf asked her about her daughter Chelsea who's been campaigning for her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is an exceptional person, and she's worked so hard and she's done such a good job that I'm just filled with pride every time I look at her. You know, obviously, you know, we are very close. We are in communication all the time, but, you know, she is doing this because she believes I'd be a good president, but also because she cares so much about our country's future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: I'm going to have of more Wolf's interview with Senator Clinton all morning long.

ROBERTS: New this morning. President Bush will address Israel's parliament. He is expected to say that America is proud to be Israel's closest ally as Israel marks its 60th anniversary. Hours after the president arrived, a rocket attack wounded 14 people at a shopping mall about 45 miles from Jerusalem. The Israeli military responded with an air strike targeting Hamas militants in Gaza.

Dramatic stories of survival in China to tell you about today. Rescuers pulled a young girl out of her collapsed school some 72 hours after the earthquake hit. China is now appealing for more rescue equipment to help save more than 25,000 people who are still trapped. The number of people killed in the Sichuan province alone topped 19,000 this morning.

Meantime, the Chinese government says a dam with extremely dangerous cracks has now been fixed. There were concerns that it could have given way and flooded a badly damaged city.

Three U.S. ships are out the coast of Myanmar today waiting for orders to deliver thousands of gallons of fresh water and other aid. U.S. aid flights are still headed to the country despite reports that the military junta is diverting some of the supplies meant for victims and selling them in local markets.

PHILLIPS: Plan to lower oil prices, Congress is approving a plan to stop adding oil to the strategic petroleum reserve. The measure passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate. Even though President Bush opposes it, he expects it or is expected to sign that bill.

But some questioned the impact that move will have because it will only put back 70,000 barrels on the market while the U.S. consumes 21 million barrels a day.

And a reversal in an $8 million Vioxx verdict. A Texas Appeals Court ruled that there isn't enough evidence to prove that that pain killer made by Merck causes 71-year-old man's heart attack. He died after taking Vioxx for less than a month. And during the first trial, Merck lawyers' argued that his heart attack was the end result of 23 years of heart disease.

ROBERTS: You might have heard that speculation is driving up the price of oil. What does that even mean? Our Ali Velshi joins us. He's got the answer just ahead.

We showed you the dramatic images out of China a moment ago. Children and pregnant women pulled from collapsed buildings. We're going to look at how well prepared the United States is should a big quake hit here.

Plus, taking the plunge and then taking flight. The rocket man soaring over the Alps on homemade wings. We'll show them to you, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: So what's driving up oil prices to record levels, Ali Velshi?

ROBERTS: Soccer balls.

PHILLIPS: Yes, exactly. And it's not soccer balls. Yes, let's see.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This soccer ball -- wait, you'll see it has a flag of the United States and of Afghanistan on it, and it's made by women in Afghanistan. I was at a benefit and this is one of the things that they give the women to do in order to make some money. So --

PHILLIPS: How could we buy one?

VELSHI: I don't know. But they -- it actually had nothing to do with my report.

ROBERTS: What does that have to do with the price of oil?

VELSHI: Nothing. I just wanted to - it's a lot of fun. I brought the soccer ball and then everybody is playing with it. There's lots of fun.

ROBERTS: It's a nice soccer ball.

VELSHI: But to the topic at hand. What's it got to do with the price of oil?

PHILLIPS: I wouldn't mind talking about women in Afghanistan.

VELSHI: Well, then it's a very big story. It's a very good business story.

PHILLIPS: We'll continue that.

VELSHI: So here's the thing. We've heard -- we heard Hillary Clinton say -- we've heard everybody talk about the speculation that plays a role in the cost of a barrel of oil, about 120 bucks.

By the way, we have a new gas price today. I don't know if this little magic will work again, $3.70 -- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I usually have to tell somebody I'm going to do that.

All right. So the bottom line, oil is really expensive, and what is the role of speculation in the price of oil?

So let's just talk about the speculation are people who invest in anything but maybe in oil. A speculator is selecting an investment with higher risk in order to profit from anticipated price changes, not necessarily up or down, but it could be -- they're buying it just to make money on the commodity.

Now, a speculator doesn't produce the commodity or use it. They don't produce or use oil. They risk their own money to trade the futures, and they profit from the price changes. In other words, these are people buying and selling oil not for the use of oil in the end.

Now, why is that affecting the price of oil today? Well, the bottom line is there's always some degree of speculation in any market, housing, the stock market. Think about things that you buy. Antiques that you might buy for your own self. You know, musical instruments. Things that you buy -- antique cars, things that appreciate in value.

There is always some speculation in the oil market, but one person we spoke to at the Center for Research on Globalization, says that right now as much as 60 percent of the current price of oil is pure speculation. That is a pretty extreme estimate.

If you took 60 percent of the price of oil, let's call it $120 right now, that would mean $72 of a price of a barrel of oil is speculation. And if you subtract that from the $120, oil should be $48. That's very low in terms of estimates.

Hillary Clinton said $55 about a week ago. We've had estimates from 60 to as high as $90. But most people sort of stop there and say as a supply and demand commodity, oil probably shouldn't be higher than $90 which gives you about 35 percent of the price of oil is speculation.

Can you do anything about that? No. But it just helps you understand that it's more than just supply and demand. People are making money off of it because they're trading it.

PHILLIPS: Pricing speculation. He gets so creative when he has the same news every day about gas prices.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: You make me --

VELSHI: Really all I was trying to say is gas prices are up again. Give me back my soccer ball.

ROBERTS: You make me feel so much -- take your glasses off. Catch.

(LAUGHTER)

Well done.

PHILLIPS: By the way, I heard her EP (ph) took you down in the hallway.

VELSHI: Oh, she is good.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: Jeanelle (ph) Rodriguez.

VELSHI: Jeanelle (ph) Rodriguez. She complains that -- I thought he was going to come in, cool guy with the soccer ball playing around and she with heels.

ROBERTS: Smoked you, huh?

VELSHI: Her words to me is Velshi, you got no game.

ROBERTS: Well, like a super hero soaring through the sky with jet pack wings that he made at home. See the amazing rocket man coming up.

Plus, Rob Marciano is watching the extreme weather for us this morning. Hey, Rob, what you got?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, John, I would think Ali would do well with the set of wings as well. Very aerodynamic. That might work.

We're going to talk about tornado warnings across the south. Right now, southern Louisiana is getting hit hard. Weather is coming up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: Lighter winds yesterday and last night helping firefighters in Palm Bay, Florida, but the fires continue to burn in Brevard County where 15 square miles has been charred. That's about at least in Palm Bay about 15 percent of their square acreage. Suspect that is linked, possibly linked to one of the fires that was set in Florida was picked up yesterday after a dramatic chase.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. We have a lot of wet weather in Louisiana. We like to get over to Florida but that's not going to happen for a couple weeks. Let's take you to the radar scope where tornado warnings and watches are in effect right now for a good chunk of the Bayou State in through parts of Mississippi as well, also associated with this low which has been very, very stubborn in moving. And so, you not only see severe weather across Louisiana but the past couple days extreme amounts of flooding especially across the northern half of the state.

This morning though we go to the southern half of the state. That tornado watch, by the way, in effect until 10:00 local time. And this pink little polygon here, that is a tornado warning that is in effect for the next 15 minutes for Cameron Parish and Vermilion Parish there.

Right along the coastline, a lot of wet ones in through here. But nonetheless, there are some towns that will be affected. This is the heart of Cajun Country right, by the way, right between shooting the gap between Crowley and Abbeville just to over towards Lafayette. So this thing is moving about 29 miles an hour. A radar indicated tornado there in Cameron and Vermilion Parishes in southern Louisiana.

The other big weather story today is the heat building across much of the west. Excessive heat warnings out for an area you typically think to be comfortably cool, the bay area. The temps there could get well into the 90s and stay there in some spots for the next several days. It's summer right around the corner. John and Kyra, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks very much. Hey, hang out for this "Hot Shot." You got to check this out.

MARCIANO: All right.

ROBERTS: You know, people have been trying to do this for centuries, for like a millennium. Look at this guy.

The rocket man, 48-year-old pilot from Switzerland. He's got five years behind him building this eight-foot wings with jet engines that let him take flight. There he is. He's soaring 8,000 feet over the Alps at 180 miles an hour.

He flew for five minutes. Says the next one is to serve (ph) the English Channel one day, maybe through the Grand Canyon as well.

PHILLIPS: Then we'll market it. Make a lot of money. I want to know how much fuel that takes, and where he's getting the fuel and he's making the fuel from coal. I'm going to bring Ali Velshi in on this.

ROBERTS: That is the unbelievable freedom, is it not? I mean, going all the way back to mythology in Icarus and flying close to the sun.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: And I was trying to do --

ROBERTS: And there was the annual competitions where they run off the dock in Australia and try to fly. This guy's got it there.

PHILLIPS: He finally finds the heavens.

ROBERTS: Wow. There he is. He pops the parachute.

PHILLIPS: Do you think he can pull "g's"?

ROBERTS: Comes back -- comes back down to earth.

You know, flying above the Alps is one thing. Flying through the Grand Canyon, though, you have a much greater chance of becoming an ink spot on the wall of one of those canyons. He's got to be careful.

Wow. Incredible "Hot Shot" this morning.

If you've got one, send it to us. Head to our Web site at CNN.com/am and follow the "Hot Shot" link.

PHILLIPS: Concerns this morning about how ready our cities are for an earthquake. After new images of destruction in China, experts warn that there's a chance that same thing could happen in San Francisco if the big one hits.

And Barack Obama's gain is Hillary Clinton's loss, but can John Edwards convince his 19 pledged delegates to vote for Obama? We're going to talk with two of them straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: China is now appealing for more rescue equipment to help save more than 25,000 people still trapped in buildings that crumbled in the huge earthquake from Monday. Despite stories of survival and rescue, the number of people killed in the Sichuan province alone topped 19,000 this morning. It's also raising questions here at home, how prepared are U.S. cities for the big one? CNN's Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everything we take for granted -- water, power, communication, it will all likely disappear if the big one hits San Francisco.

LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST: We are going to be seeing hundreds of thousands of homeless. There will be no power for traffic lights. Water is going to be not in the taps for days and maybe weeks and months.

SIMON: The U.S. Geological Survey says there is a 99 percent chance a significant earthquake will strike California within the next 30 years. The odds of a massive earthquake like in China, nearly 50 percent. City managers are blunt.

VICKI HENNESSY, S.F. EMERGENCY SERVICES: I'm concerned that, yes, it's going to happen, and have we done everything we can do? No.

SIMON: The last strong one here was in 1989. Fires razed through the upscale Marina district and a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed. Four thousand people injured, 63 dead. More than $6 billion in property damage.

But to put things in perspective, the China quake was 30 times stronger in magnitude. So how prepared is the Bay Area today? County inspectors say chemical plants now meet requirements to withstand massive quakes. The state has spent billions of dollars to bolster freeway overpasses. All but two of the areas eight major bridges, including the Golden Gate, have been upgraded since '89. And the newer improved Bay Bridge is currently under construction.

BART NEY, CALIF. DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION: This particular bridge, the new Bay Bridge, is designed to withstand the largest potential earthquake that would happen in a 1500-year return period.

SIMON: But the water system is still years from being safe. The whole Bay Area could be without it for several days. Hundreds of hospital buildings are at risk, and tens of thousands of homes built on shaky soil could crumble. A reality that can only be fixed at the homeowners' expense. As for the infrastructure, the city says only money and motivation will improve things further.

HENNESSY: Is there a lack of funding and desire? I don't think that's the case. I think we're moving as quickly as we can on a number of fronts.

SIMON (on camera): The bottom line is to be prepared for the absolute worst. As former Governor Pete Wilson put it, California is America's disaster theme park. Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And on Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom asked for donations to help victims in China. He also says that he's sending representatives to that area to see what lessons can be learned for his own city.

ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour, and more on the big conversation of the morning.

Former presidential candidate John Edwards endorses Barack Obama. He had praise for both Obama and Hillary Clinton in his speech last night, and now there's already talk that, well, maybe Edwards just might make a good running mate again. Obama has said it's premature to talk about potential vice presidents. Earlier in the season, Edwards said he didn't want the job.

But we want to hear from you. If Barack Obama, let's just suppose, wins the Democratic nomination, who should he choose for a running mate? And here's the choices we've got for you. A finite number of them here. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, or Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.

Cast your vote for us at CNN.com/am. You can also send us an e- mail. Let us know who you picked and why you picked them. Or if you got a suggestion that we didn't put on the list there, like maybe you'd like Kyra to be the vice president here, write us in and tell us.

As I say we only had a finite amount of space there so those were your five choices. But if you got somebody else you'd like to see, tell us about it. Head to CNN.com/am and click on "email us."

PHILLIPS: So not politically correct. I don't think that would be a good move. But John Edwards is throwing his support to Barack Obama. We've been talking about that. Don't look at me that way. But will his convention delegates do the same? We're going to talk with two from South Carolina.

And a disturbing 911 call during a violent domestic situation. You're not going to believe the response from this dispatcher who was supposed to be helping. We're actually going to play it for you straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: President Bush addresses the Israeli parliament in about 90 minutes. He's helping Israel to celebrate its 60th anniversary. He's going to deliver some warm words about the U.S. friendship with Israel and harsh words for Israel's enemies. CNN's Ed Henry is live in Jerusalem. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra. Some harsh words as well for the Democratic front-runner Senator Barack Obama. You can see the president arriving already here in the early afternoon at the Knesset to give this speech shortly.

All the way here in Jerusalem though, a blast at Barack Obama back in America. President Bush, according to advance copy of the speech released by the White House, never utters the words Barack Obama, but the message is clear. He will say that some want to negotiate with terrorists and radicals, a clear reference to Obama previously saying that he would sit down with the heads of Iran, Syria, et cetera.

Mr. Bush calls that a foolish delusion and adds "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Now, that's a not so subtle attempt by the president to raise doubts among Jewish Americans in particular about Senator Obama. Those coming on the heels, of course, those doubts already stoked by Republican Senator John McCain, basically charging in recent days that Barack Obama is the favored candidate of the terror group Hamas. You heard Barack Obama on CNN last week denouncing that as a smear. I've talked this morning briefly to the Barack Obama campaign. They're first learning of this. They don't have an official statement yet, but obviously clearly the same kind of tone, feeling that this is a smear from the president even though he doesn't name Obama by name. But the message is very, very clear, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ed, any buzz about the U.S. presidential election since you've been there?

HENRY: Well, certainly people here I can tell you in Israel are talking about the U.S. election just as every other stop when we were in Africa with the president, for example, in February. Mr. Bush himself noted that just about every meeting he went to, either with heads of states, local officials, the election kept coming up.

Same thing here in Israel. A lot of interest in this U.S. election. The president though here to talk about the 60th anniversary of Israel. Also trying to promote these peace talks that right now don't seem to really be going anywhere. But obviously based on these remarks we're going to hear from the president shortly, the U.S. presidential election is not far from any one's minds, including Mr. Bush.

Kyra?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Ed Henry, live from Jerusalem. Thanks, Ed.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: To the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. John Edwards' endorsement of Barack Obama is not the only welcome news for Obama this morning. The Senator was also ahead in a new national poll of polls. 49 percent of Democratic voters say they support Obama to be the nominee. That is a 7-point lead over Hillary Clinton. The poll is an average of three surveys taken by Gallup, Quinnipiac University and ABC News together with the "Washington Post."

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is making it clear that she is staying in the race to the very end. In a one-on-one interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, she said, quote, "We're going to finish this process." The wide-ranging interview ended with a question about Clinton's daughter Chelsea, and that evoked an emotional response from the Senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we have one final question because we're out of time and it involves your daughter, Chelsea. I have been watching her since she was a little girl. She came to Washington back in '93, in the '92 campaign. And now she's a grown woman and she's out there campaigning for you every single day. I think she's in Puerto Rico right now. And I know you talk to her every single day.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right. BLITZER: And, you know, what goes through your mind when you -- when you have your own daughter out there working as hard for you as she is?

CLINTON: Well, it's one of the most incredibly gratifying experiences of my life as a person and as a mother. Permit me, I'm very emotional. She is an exceptional person and she's worked so hard, and she's done such a good job that I'm just filled with pride every time I look at her.

You know, obviously, you know, we are very close. We are in communication all the time, but, you know, she is doing this because she believes I'd be a good president but also because she cares so much about our country's future. She did grow up in the White House. She knows what a difference a president makes. So, she's doing it because she's my daughter, but she's doing it because, as she says, she's a young American who cares about our future.

BLITZER: But she's doing it because she loves you.

CLINTON: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Clinton is back on the trail today with two stops in South Dakota. 32 minutes after the hour now. And Alina Cho joins us with other stories making headlines.

Good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys and good morning, everybody. New this morning, California's highest court will rule today on whether same-sex marriage should be legal in that state. California would become the second state after Massachusetts to allow same-sex marriages. One issue before the court today is whether San Francisco's laws legalizing same-sex marriage carry any weight if the state bans it. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely no matter what the court decides.

A 911 operator has been fired after making a startling comment during a domestic violence situation. It happened in Nashville. The woman apparently called for help after her ex-boyfriend barged into her home with a knife. She said he eventually left, but kept calling and threatening her. So, she called 911 repeatedly for almost three hours. The 911 operator promised help was on the way, but it was what he said after the call while he was still being recorded that sparked outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLER: I'm scared to even leave out my (bleep) house.

911: OK, ma'am. I updated the call. We'll get somebody there as soon as possible.

CALLER: (Hangs up) 911: I really don't give a (bleep) what happens to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: The incident happened back in February. The 911 operator was fired the very next month. And it's only coming to light now because a local TV station in Nashville got a hold of the 911 recording.

For the first time, the Endangered Species Act is being used to protect an animal whose nemesis is global warming. The Interior Department has put the polar bear on the threatened species list. Biologists say the bear is on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of Arctic Sea ice. Critics say the new restrictions won't give polar bears any more protection than they already have under current federal guidelines on oil drilling in the Arctic.

And 15-year-old Jennifer Sharp of Dearborn, Michigan, says for five weeks all she did was eat, breathe and sleep cookies, and it paid off. She sold an incredible 17,328 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, including those popular thin mints, which all of us like, and dosidos, too, peanut butter cookies, too. It's believed to be -- yes, yes. Oh, Samoas, those are great, too, coconut in there.

It's believed to be a national record, by the way, though the Girl Scouts say they don't actually track individual sales. Boosted by Jennifer, by the way, her Girl Scout troop raised about $21,000, which will pay for a ten-day trip to Europe for all of the girls.

That is her mom and her mom helped her sell the cookies along the sidewalks and they said they did it day and night, never stopped.

You know, I was a blue bird growing up, which is a Girl Scout in training. I never made it to the Girl Scout level and I think it was because I never sold any cookies.

ROBERTS: Cookie sales.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: Chinese cookie sales.

PHILLIPS: I remember when they were 75 cents a box.

ROBERTS: Well, he certainly didn't eat them either, so.

PHILLIPS: Remember? They were 75 cents a box.

CHO: Yes. Now they're $3.50. $3.50 a box. Inflation.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I don't know about understanding leadership. I didn't really get it was all that competitive. I mean, are you supposed to sell that many?

CHO: Well, I don't know. It paid off. They're all going to Europe for 10 days in the winter, so --

PHILLIPS: You just get mom or dad to take it to work.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: (INAUDIBLE) using the Internet or distribution companies or something? That's crazy. Good for her.

Let me just tell you about competitiveness. The danger with me is, you know, I like my props. This is a soccer ball made -- it's got an Afghanistan flag and an American flag. It's made by Afghan women as part of a project. I was at a benefit last night where they were supporting Afghan women, Rwandan women, you know, people who are doing things after some kind of a conflict.

But it's dangerous when I bring in a prop that's athletic because with a coal or with a barrel of oil, it's all one thing. But what happens when I start knocking this thing around is that people start to point out that I don't have any game.

But I will tell you, America has got game. And that comes out of a study that's done every year from a school in Switzerland, a business school. It's a very respected study. It's the World Competitiveness Yearbook. America comes out number one again. And given that -- some of you tell me that I'm just always full of bad news, I'm going to give you some good news here.

United States tops the rankings of competitiveness followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The competitiveness competition is based on the following - there, really, there are 331 criteria but the big ones are economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure.

55 developed countries are analyzed. The United States -- it takes the top role because it's got the greatest amount of investment, exports of services, not just goods, but professional and business services. It's the easiest place to get venture capital in order to start a business. And it dominates in the use of technology, particularly the use of computers in business.

So there you go. Stop telling me that I'm all full of bad news. Here's a piece of good news, and we remain -- John, on the other hands remains very competitive.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: But that was very competitive now, Ali.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: We're going to put on our Web site, by the way, the organization that allows you to support women in post-conflict countries. So, you can go there if you'd like to buy one. What a nice little soccer ball.

ROBERTS: It's a well-made soccer ball. VELSHI: It is a well-made soccer ball. Leather.

PHILLIPS: That goes a long way, too, with the kids in Afghanistan and Iraq. All they need is a soccer ball. Let me tell you --

VELSHI: So, it good colors because the women get to make it, make some money and it's good because people use it.

PHILLIPS: It's a morale booster. A lot of troops bring in the soccer balls in (INAUDIBLE). You know that. When we were there, we saw. It's amazing.

VELSHI: Yes. So, it's a nice thing to take along. I'll be dribbling all the way back to the desk. I'm often dribbling all the way back to the desk but it's not usually with a soccer ball.

PHILLIPS: This is (INAUDIBLE) Ali Velshi's head. Have you noticed that?

ROBERTS: A series of recent losses have got some Republicans concerned. Will the slump continue in November? Might it even accelerate? The man who's taking some of the heat for the problems, Congressman Tom Cole joins us, coming up.

And actor Dennis Quaid telling Congress that his fight to protect your rights to sue drug makers is not over, ahead. Why he says current legislation is turning consumers into "uninformed and uncompensated lab rats."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 20 minutes now to the top of the hour. Now that John Edwards has endorsed Barack Obama, will Edwards' pledge delegates follow his lead? We're talking with two of them this morning. John Moylan is a former senior adviser to the Edwards campaign. He's also an alternate pledged delegate for John Edwards. Lauren Bilton is an 18-year-old pledged delegate for Edwards. They both join us from Columbia, South Carolina this morning.

Good morning to both of you. John, let me ask you first. What's your reaction to the fact that your candidate went ahead and endorsed Barack Obama yesterday?

JOHN MOYLAN, ALTERNATE EDWARDS PLEDGED DELEGATE: Well, I think it's a very big day for the Democratic Party. I think it's a great day for America, too. John Edwards has decided that it's time to unite the party and it's time to unite America as we move forward to address the issues of poverty, raising people out of the middle -- up into the middle class, getting us out of Iraq. I think it's a very, very big day.

ROBERTS: And Lauren, what did you think of the endorsement? Why did you back John Edwards and do you feel the same about Barack Obama?

LAUREN BILTON, EDWARDS PLEDGED DELEGATE: I originally backed John Edwards because my parents four years ago they wanted John Edwards and they encouraged me to follow him. I think he's a great senator and I think his choice to back Senator Obama is a great choice.

ROBERTS: Right. And what about Senator Obama? Do you feel the same way about him that you did about Senator Edwards?

BILTON: Yes, I do. I think he's a great candidate.

ROBERTS: I guess, John, that the big question now is what will the 19 delegates, pledged delegates, that John Edwards had due -- let me start with first of all both of you, will you throw your support behind Barack Obama?

MOYLAN: Yes, without question, John. I am definitely -- I've stood with John and Elizabeth Edwards. They've been great people, great leaders. We're very proud to stand with them and we're going to be very proud to stand with Senator Obama as well.

ROBERTS: So his choice is your choice. Lauren, what about you?

BILTON: His choice is my choice, too. I support Senator Edwards with everything.

ROBERTS: All right. So that's two out of 19. What about the other 17, John? You've had lots of discussions with the South Carolina delegation and Senator Edwards as well. What do you think the South Carolina delegation is going to do?

MOYLAN: John, I can tell you that the Edwards' delegates are very, very committed to John Edwards. I started calling through the list last night. There are 8 Edwards delegates here in South Carolina. I didn't reach all 8 of them, but I can tell you that at least 6 of the 8 are prepared to endorse Senator Obama, and I hope to speak to the other two this morning.

We've made similar calls now beginning into Iowa and New Hampshire, and I think you will see overwhelming support of John Edwards delegates standing with John Edwards and now standing for Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: I'm sure that you saw the speech last night and there was a particular part of the speech that struck me as being very interesting. And that's where Senator Edwards heaped all of that praise on Hillary Clinton. Let's listen to just a little bit of that, and I want to ask you your thoughts about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is a woman who, in my judgment, is made of steel and she's a leader in this country, not, not because of her husband, but because of what she has done, because of speaking out, because of standing up. We are a stronger party because Hillary Clinton is a Democrat. We are a stronger country because of her years of public service. And we're going to have a stronger presidential nominee in the fall because of her work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So, John, what did you think of that part of the speech? Was he effectively saying to Hillary Clinton it's over? Was he potentially setting her up as a running mate? What did you think?

MOYLAN: John Edwards thinks very, very highly of Senator Clinton. There is no question about that. And I think what you've seen in Senator Clinton is incredible strength, incredible determination to do what's right for this country. (INAUDIBLE) after the party.

ROBERTS: Lauren, would you like to see a dream team?

BILTON: Sure.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, Lauren Bilton and John Moylan, thanks very much for joining us this morning. Columbia, South Carolina. So, there's the news of the day, that at least the South Carolina delegation looks like it's going to be going with Senator Obama and we'll see what the rest of the delegates do as well.

Thanks for folks for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.

MOYLAN: Thank you, John.

BILTON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Breaking news coming into us actually out of London. As you know, a terrorist's dream is to carry out an attack that can take as many lives as possible. And since 9/11 we've talked about the fact that sporting events and shopping malls and areas where lots of people gather are targets for terrorists. And we've been breaking stories on this since 9/11 about attacks that have been thwarted.

And now we're just getting word possibly that the Euro 2008 soccer match might have been a target for terrorists. Our Paula Newton has been talking to her sources and brings us this report now out of London.

What did you find out about al Qaeda and the soccer match and what are your sources telling you?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, for a few weeks now authorities have been saying that they've been hearing a lot more chatter about wanting to target those big sporting events. Euro 2008, it's a huge tournament in two countries -- Switzerland and Austria. Think about it as a big NBA, NFL Final. There are several of these very large games, up to 50,000 people in open air stadiums. It is already a security nightmare.

But what we have been hearing is that they were aware that more or less al Qaeda was looking for that spectacular attack. And they felt that these kinds of stadiums were vulnerable, perhaps even to having a plane crash into one of these stadiums. Obviously, some of this chatter has been going on Islamic Web site as well.

Swiss authorities this morning decided that they were going to talk about the threat to the event. But keep in mind, Kyra, now that it has been out on Islamic sites, now that the chatter is out there, authorities will be trying to secure a lot of these different stadiums throughout this event over the next couple of months.

The key thing to remember here, Kyra, is that al Qaeda is always looking for that spectacular event. What sets these events apart, how difficult they are to secure and also they're being broadcast usually live on television.

Kyra?

PHILLIPS: And I remember the Super Bowl, they beefed up security for this exact reason. Paula Newton bringing that story to us this morning out of London.

Paula, thanks.

ROBERTS: Actor Dennis Quaid telling Congress that his fight to protect your right to sue drug makers is not over. Ahead, why he says current legislation is turning consumers into "uninformed and uncompensated lab rats."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Actor Dennis Quaid tells Congress that if people can't sue drug companies, consumers would be nothing more than quote "uninformed and uncompensated lab rats." He described the near fatal mix-up in with his newborn twins received a thousand times the correct dose of the blood thinner heparin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS QUAID, ACTOR: Our feelings are, they recall automobiles, they recall toasters, they even recall dog food. But Baxter failed to recall a medication that due to its labeling had already killed three infants and severely injured three others just a year earlier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Joining me now with more on this is AMERICAN MORNING legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

Sunny Hostin, so the drug company filed a motion to dismiss the suit. Why did they do that?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the drug company is basically saying that Dennis Quaid and his wife cannot sue them in state court; that this is a federal issue and that under federal law, the FDA already approved the label. And in effect what this would do is, as Dennis Quaid mentioned, it would not allow anyone to sue these types of companies in state court. And that should be very, very alarming to most people.

ROBERTS: So, the principle here, and I think this was reiterated by the FDA a couple of years ago, is if the FDA approves a drug, that shields the drug company?

HOSTIN: Basically. And that's the argument, and I think Waxman's really, when this hearing happened yesterday, made it very clear that the FDA has been under funded and that it is really not in the position to make those calls. That we should allow our judges to do that, and that's going to be the subject of the motion to dismiss. It's really very riveting and something that needs to be followed. Could be very important.

ROBERTS: And here's a lot of opposition to that as well. David Kessler, the former head of the FDA, is one of the people leading the charge.

HOSTIN: Yes, yes, that's right.

ROBERTS: Right. So, why did Dennis Quaid sue the drug manufacturer as opposed to the hospital, which was actually responsible for grabbing the wrong vial?

HOSTIN: Right. Well, you know, the Quaids made it very clear. This is not about money for them. They only sued for $50,000. This is about effecting change. This is about making sure that this does not happen again. We already know that three babies died. Other children have been hurt. Their children almost died. It's really about making the point that this drug should be recalled, relabeled, all that sort of thing. And suing the hospital and suing doctors and nurses would not make that happen.

ROBERTS: And the Supreme Court is going to be looking at this, too. right?

HOSTIN: That's right, that's right. So again this is an issue that's really all over, affecting many, many people, and the Supreme Court will likely weigh in on this in the future.

ROBERTS: All right, looking forward to it. Sunny Hostin, thanks.

Kyra?

PHILLIPS: A series of recent losses have some Republicans concerned. With the slump continue in November? The man taking some of the heat for the problems, Congressman Tom Cole, he joins us coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: And our "Quick Vote" this morning, if Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination, who should he choose for a running mate. We gave you some suggestions and right now 28 percent of you say Hillary Clinton, 43 percent say John Edwards, 15 percent say Bill Richardson, four percent of you suggesting Joe Biden, and 10 percent of you voting for Chuck Hagel.

Just head to cnn.com/am to vote. You can also send us an e-mail if you'd like. Let us know your thoughts behind your pick or if you don't like our suggestions, let us know who you think would make a good running mate. Head to cnn.com/am and click on email us. We'll be reading some of your e-mails later in the show.

Losing streak, the GOP drops a seat in a red state. A preview of their playbook for the fall.

Plus, inside Homeland Security. How they train for the worst when America makes a change at the top.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." The GOP is waking up to some troubling headlines this morning. Election losses still fall fears and Republicans face crisis. A Democrat won a White House seat on Tuesday and that's been held by a Republican for 14 years. It's the third time this year that a Democrat has taken a seat away from a Republican in a special election and both sides are noticing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: Three for three, batting 1000.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: That's another wake-up call that we have to show Americans that we can fix the problems here in Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, let's turn now to the man in charge. Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. I'm guessing, Congressman, when you woke up this morning, that's not really the headline you wanted to read.

REP. TOM COLE, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, it's always better to win than lose in politics, but, you know, sometimes -- my dad used to say your friends are the people who tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear. And I think the American people told us some very important things and we ought to take them to heart.

PHILLIPS: Well, we definitely heard it straight from your predecessor former RNCC Chairman Tom Davis. This 27-page memo that he wrote saying that the party needs to revamp its image. He said the political atmosphere for Republicans now is the worst since Watergate. Talking about the specific three losses as well. There's a Canaries in the Coal Mines. How do you respond to that and do you agree?

COLE: Well, I agree to a great extent. Tom Davis is one of our smartest political guys and (INAUDIBLE). On the other hand, I think you have to look at what the fundamental problem is. And the problem is twofold to me. First, it's not so much that the voters disagree with us. In fact, the last two Democratic (INAUDIBLE) --

PHILLIPS: Congressman, congressman, forgive me, but we're losing your mike. So we're going to switch out the batteries, we're going to just move on for a minutes but we're going to bring you right back. OK? I apologize. OK.

COLES: (INAUDIBLE) no problem.

PHILLIPS: OK, appreciate it. We'll be right back.

John?

ROBERTS: We'll be right back with him in just a second here and just changing out a battery takes about 30 seconds.

It's the biggest endorsement so far in the Democratic presidential campaign. Former candidate John Edwards jumping into the fray last night by endorsing Senator Barack Obama. It happened in Michigan where Obama could certainly use the help with blue-collar workers.

John Edwards is popular among working class voters, a group which is rallied toward Clinton in recent contests. And the endorsement kicking off immediate speculation that Edwards, not Clinton, may be offered the vice presidential slot this fall. Senator Obama talking to CNN about that shortly after the rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Edwards is obviously somebody who would be on anybody's short list, but it is premature. I haven't won this nomination yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: But this morning he is certainly closer to donning the party's crown. Insiders say that the timing was aimed at stopping Clinton's momentum following her 41-point win in West Virginia and an attempt to unify the party. Let's get the latest on the Edwards endorsement. Our Suzanne Malveaux reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the nod Barack Obama had been working for the past four months.

EDWARDS: There is one man who knows and understands that this is the time for bold leadership, and that man is Barack Obama.

MALVEAUX: Since John Edwards dropped out in January, the two men have talked at least once a week.

CLINTON: Thank you all so much.

MALVEAUX: But it was Hillary Clinton's victory in West Virginia that tipped the scales for Edwards.

EDWARDS: Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats.

MALVEAUX: Aides say Edwards was concerned that the Clinton story line, that Obama could not win white working class voters, was becoming too damaging to Obama and the party. So Tuesday night Edwards called Obama in Michigan to tell him he had his back. A campaign insider said Obama was absolutely delighted and so was Edwards on this night to see Obama highlight his poverty-fighting campaign theme.

OBAMA: It will be a fight I carry into the White House for the next four years.

MALVEAUX: At times early in the campaign Obama and Edwards appeared to gang up on Hillary Clinton.

EDWARDS: Both Senator Obama and I --

MALVEAUX: At other times Edwards played the critic.

EDWARDS: I don't think you can nice them to death. I think you have to actually be willing to fight them.

MALVEAUX: He also questioned Obama's political courage.

EDWARDS: Why would you over 100 times vote present.