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CNN NEWSROOM

GM Announces it is Closing Some Big Truck Plants; Bill Clinton on the Defensive; Voters Going to the Polls in Montana and South Dakota; The First Space Walk of Discovery's 14-day Mission; Stardom Becoming Deadly for Mexican Musicians

Aired June 3, 2008 - 10:00   ET

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


ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Tony, Heidi, the cell that we have been watching track eastward and kind of drifting to the south as well, this has produced funnel cloud about 15 minutes ago and through Xenia, that is the southeastern parts of Illinois, not Ohio. This thing, which is back through here, now its moved off the east and south just a little bit. So, these areas, Clayton county, to the east, are under a tornado warning now. And still for the next 15 minutes. And may very well be extending east and the south towards the west Salem area, Mt. Erie, Parkersburg. These are all in the path of this storm which has produced rotation and it has been seen in the form of a funnel cloud.
We don't know if that has touched the ground yet. But certainly atmospheric conditions are favorable for that. So, tornado warning in effect for this cell as it moves off to the east rapidly at about 34 miles an hour. Also of note right now is some severe weather heading across Davenport, eastern parts of Iowa. These have produced wind gusts over 60 miles an hour. And some flash flooding. And a little bit of hail as well. So, Burlington, back to Peoria, you're going to start to see some action as well as far as strong straight lined winds and heavy, heavy rainfall. St. Louis, you are in the tornado watch officially until noon Eastern time.

KMOV, that's our affiliate out there giving us a live picture of St. Louis. Right now, all is quiet with the current temperature of 72 degrees but the larger picture shows that pretty wide swath off areas that are under the gun. Actually, east of this tornado watch towards Louisville and through Owensboro, we may very well see some action there. Some of the fuel from this is coming from the south. This is another area of extreme weather. That's south in Texas. Amarillo, 106 yesterday, Austin, Texas, 101. And Houston getting it as far as a record high of 97 degrees. So heat certainly building, we're into June now. So, the sun getting real, real strong. And some of this heat as we go through the next several days will interact with some cold coming - excuse me, cold air coming in. You could see some decent severe weather outbreak Thursday into Friday. We got plenty of time to look at that.

Right now, we are looking at Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Those are the three states that have been feeling the pressures as far as rough weather right now. Clay County East is where that tornado warning is in effect. Again, we saw funnel clouds, storm spotters in Xenia saw a funnel cloud just about 15 minutes ago.

COLLINS: OK, Rob. Again, let us know if we need to come back to you to warn everybody.

MARCIANO: OK. You got it.

COLLINS: OK.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in one - you remember -- Rob, you still there?

MARCIANO: Yes.

HARRIS: Parkersburg, Iowa...

MARCIANO: Oh, yes.

HARRIS: An EF-5, correct?

MARCIANO: This video -

HARRIS: Yes. Yes. That was an EF-5, right.

MARCIANO: Yes. That's the strongest one you can have with winds of up to 205 miles an hour. And this video is just --

HARRIS: Get this. This is what it looks like. Dramatic pictures, to say the least. Surveillance camera video. And you can actually - well, it just sort of blacks out here. This is the force of a tornado ripping through the First State Bank in Parkersburg. You may recall seven people died in that tornado last month. More than 250 buildings were destroyed. Probably count this among those buildings destroyed.

MARCIANO: That's extraordinary. You know, that's pretty much the same size and strength almost it as the Greensburg tornado in Kansas last year. So, this one for the folks in Parkersburg, your heart goes out to them. But it may not have gotten the coverage it deserves.

COLLINS: It looks like a wave. You covered so many hurricanes. Water involved in the tornadoes. That it came in with that same type of force. Look at that.

MARCIANO: Yes. And it just blew everything out and tossed the camera around like it was nothing. I can't - it's shocked that it was able to record it that long.

COLLINS: At all. Yes, exactly. All right.

MARCIANO: Wouldn't want to be in there.

COLLINS: That's for sure. All right. Rob, thank you. Again, we will check back a little bit later on.

MARCIANO: That's good.

COLLINS: News in this morning now from the world's biggest automaker. GM announces it is closing some big truck plants. Americans hit by sky high gas. Changing the way they drive and of course, the cars they are driving. Ali Velshi is "Minding your Business" now and talk a little bit more about this. Any time you see these types of layoffs, Ali, obviously it is upsetting. But combine that with the gas prices and people at home are really, really paying attention.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we saw a gradual, we've seen over the last few years a gradual, you know, drop- off in the sales of trucks and SUVs. But what GM is saying is what Ford said less than two weeks ago, that as gas prices have really, really skyrocketed in the last year when they hit $3.50 as a national average and now they approach $4, they are just seeing their truck and SUV sales dropping off a cliff. So, Ford is announcing the closure of four North American plants. Two in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Mexico. The Canadian plant in Oshawa, Ontario builds the Silverado. And the Sierra in Moraine, Ohio. They build the TrailBlazer and the Envoy in Jonesville, Wisconsin. They build the Suburban in the Yukon and in Toluca, Mexico, the Kodiak medium-duty pickup truck, which is like a commercial truck.

They are getting rid of those plants. They are ramping up production at two particular plants where they make smaller, more fuel-efficient cars in Lake Orion, Michigan. Again, where they make the Malibu and the Pontiac G-6. And in Lordstown, Ohio, where they make the compact Cobalt and the Pontiac G-5. These are all sister cars. They are adding a third shift starting September to those two plants. So, I don't think that the new shifts make up for the jobs that are going to be lost at the four plants that they are closing. But GM just says the people are not buying those trucks. They are going to have to shift their production, maybe better late than never to more fuel-efficient vehicles that Americans will buy. Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, that's exactly the question, I guess. I mean, the sales, as we all know, have really been in a slump.

VELSHI: Yes.

COLLINS: Could at least some of these new measures actually help the bottom line?

VELSHI: Yes.

COLLINS: Or is it just not enough?

VELSHI: Well, yes, the Malibu for instance has been getting rave reviews. It's a newly designed car. I've test driven it. It's a really nice car. But people have to be convinced to buy the GM. The other problem, of course, Heidi, is that you don't have that much profit on a smaller car, as do you on a truck. The trucks and SUVs were the gravy for these companies. What little gravy there was in the last few years were made on trucks and SUVs. They don't make those on the smaller cars. So, will they sell more? Yes. Will they make more money? Unclear. General Motors hasn't had a full year profit since 1994. Heidi.

COLLINS: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. That's a darned long time. VELSHI: Yes.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Ali Velshi, "Minding your Business" this morning. Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: OK.

HARRIS: And Ali, maybe you can e-mail us some of your thoughts on the comments from Ben Bernanke, this morning. Americans still facing "significant head winds when it comes to the economy." That according to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Just a short time ago, Bernanke spoke by satellite to an International Monetary Fund meeting in Spain. He painted a gloomy picture. Lower housing prices, tighter credit, softer jobs market. And of course, higher energy costs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNAKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: The rapid growth of the emerging markets and the associated sharp rise in their demand for raw materials have been, together with the variety of constrains on supply, a major cause of the escalation in the relative prices of oil and other commodities. Which has placed intense economic pressure on many U.S. households and businesses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Bernanke suggested there could be some pickup later this year. One thing not to count on. Interest rates going down again. Bernanke hinted at more cuts were unlikely.

COLLINS: Bill Clinton on the defensive. Reacting to an article in "Vanity Fair" magazine. It said former Clinton aides have raised questions about his personal behavior. Including one aide who believes that Clinton had been "seeing a lot of women on the road." The former President used strong language when he was asked about it by the "Huffington Post."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what do you think about that hatchet job somebody did to you on the "Vanity Fair"? At the end of the race?

VOICE OF BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Sleazy. He's a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him and ... but I haven't read it. He told me there are five or six blatant lies in there. But he's a really slimy guy.

COLLINS: Clinton also slammed the author for not naming sources. The author, Todd Purdum, talked about that in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD PURDUM, "VANITY FAIR": First of all, I reject the notion that I am making an insinuation but I'm very comfortable quoting the people I quote because I know who they are and I know that they are very senior people who have known President Clinton for a very long time and worked for him at very high levels. Yes, I feel very confident about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Hillary Clinton's campaign apologize for the former president's "inappropriate language" but disputed much of the article, including a passage about President Clinton's supposed failing health. We should also tell you author Todd Purdum, is married to former Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers. But she says she was not a source for the article.

HARRIS: It is the last primary day. Voters are going to the polls right now in Montana and South Dakota. Closing out six months of contests, more than a year of campaigning. Hillary Clinton made a final round of campaign stops in South Dakota. She moved on to her home state of New York where she will hold her post-primary rally. Barack Obama have already moved on a key November state, Michigan. But he will be in Minneapolis tonight. Today's primaries won't push either candidate over the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. But it sets up the next move by the super delegates. One of those is House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. He announced this morning that he is backing Obama.

COLLINS: Here's a closer look now at what's on the line in the final primaries. Montana has 16 pledged delegates up for grabs. It's an open primary which means of course, any registered voter can cast a ballot. South Dakota also an open primary. That state offers 15 pledged delegates.

CNN, of course, your home for complete coverage of the Montana and South Dakota primaries. Join the best political team on television for results and analysis live from the CNN "Election Center" tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

HARRIS: In Texas, more than 400 children are being reunited with their polygamist parents. Our Susan Roesgen following developments in San Angelo, Texas. Susan, great to see you. The kids are they going home? And I guess the follow up to that is, is this case over?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, some of the kids are going home. If you mean back to the ranch and some aren't. And this case is not over. In fact, we are here at the San Angelo courthouse this morning to keep an eye on any possible developments in the custody case. But in the meantime, the criminal case is in the hands of the Texas state attorney general's office. And there have been no arrests, no charges. But this investigation is ongoing.

They have, Tony, boxes and boxes of records taken from the ranch in that raid back on April 3rd. Records that might prove their suspicions that underaged girls were married to older men and had children by older men there. That's the crux of the case, possible child sexual abuse charges. So far nothing in the criminal case but that might be coming soon.

In the meantime, as you mentioned, yes, the children have been released. All 450-some children who were taken in that raid, almost two months ago, have been released by the court. The Texas Supreme Court says it was wrong for all of the children to be taken into state custody and so they have been released. And parents have been going mostly the mothers to the different shelters around the state to pick up their kids. The church leaders are still very angry about that raid back in April. But the parents are just glad to have their kids back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's it like to have your kids back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very nice.

WILLIE JESSOP, SECT SPOKESMAN: I would like all of you to think standing here today and then flies over a couple of helicopters and a couple of tank pull up to you right now and throw you on the ground, and haul you over to one of these trailers, and order you to give DNA just for the sheer fact that you are standing here right now would give you a little perspective of how I feel about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Well, that's Willie Jessop, he's one of the leaders in the fundamentalist church of Latter Day Saints there at the Yearning for Zion Ranch. He gave this rather lengthy news conference yesterday, Tony, talking about what had happened. As you can tell, they are still very angry. And he wanted to clarify. He said he wanted to read a church statement clarifying their policy on underaged marriage. I want to read you just one line of that. Listen to how carefully it's worded. He says, "the church commits that it would no longer preside over any marriage of any woman under the age of legal consent in the jurisdiction in which the marriage takes place." Now, when reporters pressed him on that, Tony, he said well, in Utah, the legal age is 14. 14, Tony. We checked that is true. That is the legal age of marriage in Utah. Which, as of course you know, that's where some other Warren Jeffs' followers, the leader of this breakaway sect of the Mormon sect, this polygamous sect lived. Here in Texas, it's 17. And so, if there were underaged girls getting married to older men, and having children by older men, they could be, in fact, victims of statutory rape. Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, Susie. Take a moment and tell us the story of this one particular girl who may not be leaving any time soon, may not be going home any time soon.

ROESGEN: Well, that's true. At least one 16-year-old girl, her lawyer said that she is afraid that this girl has been a victim of sexual abuse there at the ranch. And that she might be abused again and so she doesn't want the girl to be returned to the ranch. In fact, Tony, not all the children will go back to the ranch. Many of the mothers have, since this all started two months ago, found new homes closer to the shelters where their kids are living. They may not go back to the ranch at all. So, we don't know how many kids will actually go back to the ranch. The thing that we do know is the state of Texas isn't just abandoning these kids to the ranch. They will be allowed to go and check in on these kids in unannounced visits. So, this thing is really far from over. HARRIS: Yes, sounds like it. Susan Roesgen for us in San Angelo, Texas. Susie, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: Voting trumps the violence. Former Iraqi insurgents put their faith in the Democratic process.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Welcome back everyone to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris. Run out of gas on purpose, help is on the way with free fuel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have guys doing it like going to work. Yes.

HARRIS: A gallon of greed in the NEWSROOM.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: The senate turning its attention to oil prices today, namely why they went up so high so fast. The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, live hearing right now. It is one of a series on whether the oil market was manipulated. Billionaire George Soros, among those scheduled to testify. According to reports in the "Financial Times," Soros would warn speculation has quickly turning oil into the latest economic bubble. More from our Poppy Harlow, who is covering the hearing. She joins us in just a couple minutes with the energy fix today.

They battled us, battled U.S. troops in Iraq. Now they want to take their fight to polling stations. CNN's Morgan Neill looks at a strategy shift for former insurgents.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After years operating outside the law, these men now want in. In recent days more than 370 former Sunni insurgents have filed into this building, near the city of Balad. This is where they say their fight ends. Inside they are fingerprinted, given a retinal scan, and signed a pledge to stop all attacks on U.S. military and Iraqi security forces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a cease-fire agreement.

NEILL: Leading this group is man known as Mullah Nadhim. For years, he preached open war on the U.S. and its allies, and scorned elections. But, he says, that gave political power to the Shia and left the Sunnis without a voice. With provincial election set for the fall, Nadhim says they won't again neglect the vote, which he calls the battle of the fingers.

MULLAH NADHIM, FORMER INSURGENT LEADER (through translator): At least 80 percent of the Sunnis believe that the battle of the fingers is more important. More powerful than the battle of the weapons and RPGs.

NEILL: The U.S. military says certain men on their most wanted list will be detained if they show up here. But the vast majority are released. When we travel with U.S. troops to this former insurgent stronghold soldiers tell us it has changed dramatically.

NEILL (on-camera): Just months ago men here say that when U.S. soldiers came, they would hide in the orchards, or leave the village entirely. These days that changed. And today when we came here with U.S. soldiers many of the men came out of their homes. Seemingly eager to talk.

NEILL: One of them, a former member of the Ansar Al-Sunnah militant group, asked us to obscure his image for fear he could be targeted. He says that spurning the last elections in favor of violence left Sunnis here powerless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, everything is being run by Shiites, he says. God willing, this time, it will be better than before.

NEILL: The U.S commander here says he thinks some of the men realize the balance of the fight had turned against them.

LT. COL. BOB MCCARTHY, U.S. ARMY: I think a year ago, I think their prospects for success were in their minds probably higher than they are today.

NEILL: No one involved is suggesting this process will end the fighting in Balad. But as one man here put it, after years of bloodshed with nothing to show for it, to keep doing the same is simply no longer an option. Morgan Neill, CNN, Balad, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: A horrendous deadly crash being investigated this morning. The pictures are very intense. Police say a car plowed into a bike race near the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday. Sending bicycles, people, and equipment flying into the air. One person was killed. Ten others injured. Police say the 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep. The driver says he is an American citizen living in Brownsville, Texas. The U.S. Consulate could not immediately confirm that.

HARRIS: End of the spring campaign season. Will Obama and Clinton team up in the fall? We will talk to a pair of political strategists.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Go ahead and check the big boards now on this Tuesday. We see to the positive about 15 points or so. Resting right now at 12,518. Yesterday, the Dow ended the day down, pretty considerably about 135 points or so. We will, of course, continue to watch these numbers throughout the day. The Nasdaq as well to the positive about 12 points right now. As the national average for a gallon of gas closes in $4 a gallon, many people still wondering how much of this cost comes from speculation or even manipulation in the oil market. CNN's money.com Poppy Harlow joining us now from our Energy desk. Ah, Poppy, everybody wants lower gas prices. I mean,, that goes without saying.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN : Yes, that's definitely true. And Senators are calling for it, too. Not only for themselves but for their angry constituents, Heidi. Here is a look at what is going on. They are hearing plenty of folks that are calling for some relief at the pump with record high gas prices. Last week we found out the government regulators had been investigating the oil market for six months. So since December, they are looking into the possibility that the price of oil is being illegally manipulated.

Now, today the Senate Commerce Committee is drilling for some more answers. A hearing on energy market manipulation is just getting under way this morning. Among those scheduled to appear, billionaire George Soros. Now, Soros is a hedge fund manager and also a liberal activist and many believe the hedge funds are among those that have manipulated the oil markets to their benefit. Soros is expected to say there is an oil bubble in the making. But unlike the housing or internet bubbles that have brought so much havoc, an oil bubble could be a good thing if and when it bursts. Heidi.

COLLINS: A lot of people say that this is capitalism. And this oil is a business. I mean, how do they really go about manipulating the market?

HARLOW: Yes, that's a great question because speculation is allowed. It's a liquid market. And there are a lot of speculators out there. The difference is speculation is legal. Manipulation or hoarding oil is illegal. Now, this most likely isn't really done by investors but rather by a commercial user of oil, like a production company, a shipping company, or a storage company. But speculation is also seen as a factor in driving prices higher. Now, as investors pour money in, betting the price of oil will just continue to surge. That drives prices up, too. Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes and obviously that's what the senators want to know.

HARLOW: That's exactly what they want to know. But they also want to know if they should pass more regulation that some state would drive speculators out of the market. So others that are opposed to increased regulation feels it could make the market more vulnerable to speculators. The one thing though is certainly, some senators want action. Committee member Byron Dorgan of North Dakota recently said "there is an orgy of speculation in the oil futures market. Speculators are using money they don't have to control oil they'll never use. He goes on to say that it hurts American drivers and our economy because it keeps oil prices artificially high."

You know there is plenty more debate to come. No simple answer. No simple solution. But we are keeping an eye on it for you right here at the cnnmoney.com "Energy Fix" desk. We are covering it from all angle. Heidi.

COLLINS: All right.

HARLOW: Hopefully some resolutions, some relief for people at the pumps soon.

COLLINS: Yes. I hope you're right about that one. Poppy Harlow, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Sure.

COLLINS: Also, some really cool stuff coming up this morning. Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts fired up for their first space walk. It's a mission involving a billion dollar project.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Welcome back once again, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: The primary season is wrapping up today. Polls are open in Montana and South Dakota. Right now Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama already looking ahead to tomorrow.

In our Washington bureau, Republican strategist, Cheri Jacobus. Hello, Cheri.

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hi. Good morning.

COLLINS: And Democratic strategist, Michael Meehan. Thanks so much for being here to the both of you.

MICHAEL MEEHAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning.

COLLINS: All right, so what's the deal? Will Senator Clinton concede the election? And when exactly is it going to happen, Michael?

MEEHAN: Well, I think Barack Obama's 38 1/2 delegates away from winning. So I imagine that it's in a matter of hours and minutes versus weeks and days.

COLLINS: Really? Hours and minutes, not weeks and days. Cheri, what about your side of the fence? What are Republicans saying about this possibility?

JACOBUS: Well, obviously, we're watching it closely, and obviously it's going to happen very soon. But just the fact you have to talk in terms of half-delegate votes means that the Democrats have a problem with a lot of their own voters. So I think this is an opportunity for John McCain to get a lot of those voters who might feel that they really aren't valued by the Democratic Party. As we know from 2000, John McCain is very attractive to Democrats and independents. So I think it's going to be an interesting race, and I think this thing, obviously as it usually is, will be won or lost in the middle. But I think that John McCain has a real shot at getting a lot of those voters and making his case, and I'm sure he's looking forward to doing so.

COLLINS: Yes, and moving forward even further, because that's what we do here, there are a lot of strategists who say, you know, a ticket is not going to be won or lost on a VP. But the fact of the matter is this particular race has become very interesting along the lines. And after some of the comments that were made by Senator Obama about Clinton and Obama working together in November, a lot of people immediately said well, that must mean yes, indeed, they are going to be on the same ticket together. Michael?

MEEHAN: Well, I mean, they both secured over 17 million votes each out of 35 million cast. So clearly, they would make an attractive ticket since both of their supporters would make a stronger...

COLLINS: But are they attracted to one another? And I obviously don't mean in a romantic sense. I mean, you know, politically.

MEEHAN: Yes. No, they are very attractive because they have drawn deep support from different parts of the party, and they would be a very strong ticket if they were to come together.

COLLINS: Cheri, what do you think about that?

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBUS: You know, I think that conventional wisdom is out the window in this election. So we've always said that a vice presidential nominee really can't do it. A lot of people don't vote on that. You know, this is an interesting sort of dynamic, because all of those women supporters of Hillary Clinton's might feel that if she takes a spot on the ticket, that in fact she has sold out. And so the question she has to ask herself is does she want to retain the loyalty of those voters for a future run.

So I think it is a real dicey situation. I don't have the answer. But these are the types of questions I'm sure her real close inner circle, which probably consists of herself and her husband, are asking themselves, because this is a large chunk of voters who are, as we have seen from the video, they're very emotional from what happened on Saturday with the DNC rules. They care very much about this. And their loyalty is a very, very big deal. So I think this is the type of conversation that's going on in the inner circle.

COLLINS: Yes, and historically speaking, I mean, it is still true, we have not had a female vice president. And many vice presidents later turned to the presidency. So I'm not sure where they say selling out would really be the case. But again, I'm not...

JACOBUS: Well, if they want her to hold out and -- here is what she can do. She can negotiate a spot on the ticket. But also, the caveat that if the ticket loses, she gets Harry Reid's job, and then she can run from a position of strength and leadership against John McCain in 2012 and preserve the base of voters that she has now. So she has a number of different options, and possibly going on the ticket as a vice presidential nominee and being second fiddle for four or eight years and then running is not quite what she wants, because she'd have her baggage, Barack Obama's baggage, her husband's baggage. And at that point, she would be a little younger than what John McCain is now. And if she ran for her second term, older than he is now. And then you run into that age question that the Democrats are so fond of making about John McCain right now.

COLLINS: Yes, and that's a lot of baggage.

Speaking of baggage, let's talk about "Vanity Fair," this article that has come up all morning long in the news, Bill Clinton's response. How big of a liability, Michael, is Bill Clinton at this point in Hillary's campaign?

MEEHAN: Well, I mean, like I just said, Barack Obama is about to capture the nomination in the next few minutes. So the president and a magazine tabloid's accusations would seem to have little impact upon that. The math is the math.

COLLINS: The math is the math. Cheri, yes?

JACOBUS: In a way I'm actually going to have to agree. I think if this was the first time we've heard these types of allegations against Bill Clinton it would be extraordinarily shocking. And it could be something that the Obama campaign my be using if they want an excuse not to put Hillary on the ticket. But this is old news about Bill Clinton. I believe the allegations. I don't care, because it's been out there. Hillary apparently is willing to put up with it. This is who the guy is. So because it is not new news and the sources are anonymous, I actually think it's not that big of a deal right now.

COLLINS: All right, let's talk quickly before we let both of you go about super delegates. Are we going to see a rush of super delegate endorsements tomorrow, Michael?

MEEHAN: Oh, absolutely. I think there's been a bunch of the and congressmen who are from purple states, Herb Kohl in Wisconsin, Tom Harkin in Iowa, Ken Salazar, in Colorado, who've all wanted to wait until the voting was done. And I think you're going to see many elected officials move very quickly once the vote's cast.

I know in Montana we have two Democratic senators, a Democratic governor who've all waited. They wanted to wait for their primary to be over before they endorsed. And that's why getting next 38 delegates will be very quick.

Because the thing about bringing this party together is 95 percent of Senator Clinton and Senator Obama's records are identical. George Bush and John McCain have a 95 percent identical record. This race completely changes its dimension once there's a nominee. And there are big differences on the failed economic plan, on the failed plan on Iraq. And this completely changes after today.

COLLINS: All right, Cheri, I've got to give you the last word.

MEEHAN: I think there will be a rush of endorsements, and then there's going to be buyer's remorse on the part of the Democrats very, very quickly, as you have the most far left liberal senator as their nominee who has very little experience. Keeps making gaffes. Very weak on foreign policy. And it seems to lack a spine when it comes to clashing with people that he should not be associated with. He seems to want to just take it lying down. So there will be quick buyer's remorse on the part of the Democrats.

COLLINS: All right, to the two of you, we will be watching as things continue, of course. Michael Meehan, Cheri Jacobus, thanks so much.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

MEEHAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: CNN, of course your home for complete coverage of the Montana and South Dakota primaries. Join the best political team on television for results and analysis, live from the CNN Election Center, tonight, 08:00 Eastern.

HARRIS: So let's go now where most of us have never gone, never will -- outer space. Astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery are geared up for their first space walk of the mission. It is supposed to get started in about an hour. More now from CNN space correspondent, and based on his reporting last hour on "hypermiling" Mr. Rolling Traffic Jam, Mr. Roadblock, miles O'Brien. Good morning, Miles. Tell us about what's going to happen this morning.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Back to my space roots here. And we're talking about a space walk that's set to begin next hour.

HARRIS: Hey, Miles, put your microphone on.

O'BRIEN: I'm so sorry about that. Mike Fossum and his space walking partner, Ron Garan, are about to step out into the void, and they have some important tasks on hand. And this is a big day for the Japanese space program. If all goes well, by the end of the day, an important piece, their laboratory, will be latched on. There you see Mike Fossum.

O'BRIEN: See how he's got that mask on there, Tony?

HARRIS: I do.

O'BRIEN: They have a pre-breathe kind of situation there, to give -- purge their system of nitrogen, it's kind of like a diver with the bends. And so you want to get all the nitrogen out of the system. And so they wear that mask in advance of a space walk.

HARRIS: Nice. O'BRIEN: And there you see the fancy thermal underwear. It's all got cooling stuff, lacing all through it. So they can stay you know, relatively comfortable as they're doing all of this.

Now they're going to reposition an important boom, which will allow them to inspect the bottom shut. And then, check this out, Tony. Do you notice how this is an animation. Notice how it's supposed to do kind of a paddle wheel-type routine there. Well, one of the solar rays is not paddle wheeling because the joint has -- where the two pieces of metal meet, has been creating metal shavings. And NASA doesn't dare do it anymore for fear there will be more damage to it.

So, space walkers will go up and take a look at that. They're going to try a technique for essentially cleaning it to see if that will solve the problem. And that will mean the next crew will have to do the big cleanup. This whole thing has got like a 10-foot diameter. So it's kind of a big job. But they'll see if the concept works. There's KIBO, back on the ground. It's up there in space now, it's huge.

HARRIS: Yes, it is huge.

O'BRIEN: It fills up the hole trunk of the shuttle. And will greatly increase the scientific potential for the International Space Station.

Now, a couple things, little footnotes I wanted to tell you about. As it left space, look what the shuttle did. This is the base, the apron of the launch pad. Those are some big pieces of concrete that got blown out there. They're not sure why that happened. And if you look down, there's actually a flame trench down there, where all the -- this is where the thrust stuff goes in there, swirls around and all that stuff.

HARRIS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Look what it did there. It knocked all that out. They don't know why that happened. One of the big concerns in that situation though is, if you come back to me live for a sec, is that that could somehow come back and bounce back on to the shuttle and cause damage to the heat shield. No evidence that that has happened, however. And finally, we got to go to Mars, don't you think?

HARRIS: Let's do it.

O'BRIEN: Let's step in.

HARRIS: Yes, let's do it.

O'BRIEN: Quick color picture. Remember that -- I showed you a picture yesterday of what seemed to be the footprint on Mars. It was in black and white. Well, this is a color version of it -- the same footprint. It doesn't look like so much.

HARRIS: No, no it doesn't. O'BRIEN: Anyway, that was caused by the shovel of the Mars Phoenix lander, you know, pushing itself down on the surface.

And then, check this out in the bottom. This has got scientists very excited. The rockets came down this way, OK?

HARRIS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And they cleared off all this -- what is that?

HARRIS: What it is? Yes, that's a good question, what is it?

O'BRIEN: Could be ice. And if it's ice, that's a big deal. Just to show you where we're talking about here, this is the spacecraft. It's right underneath, under 12 rockets it would have hit. It might have cleared off what appears to be ice. The goal here, is to take this little shovel arm and scoop down and get a big hung of ice and put it in this oven.

HARRIS: In the easy bake, yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: You've been paying attention.

HARRIS: I've been listening. Yes, that's right.

O'BRIEN: You have been paying attention. I'm very proud of you.

And who knows. That may find some organic material which could lead them to some clues on life on Mars.

HARRIS: Boy, terrific stuff, Miles.

All right, next hour, you back with us?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Any time for you.

HARRIS: Thank you, sir.

COLLINS: Stardom becoming deadly for Mexican musicians. Why are they being targeted? And, is the violence spilling over the border?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Popular Mexican singers silenced forever. Who's killing the stars and why? U.S. officials worry the violence could spill over to this side of the border.

Our Jason Carroll, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: : Welcome to the 50th annual Grammy Awards.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Grammy nominations. A celebration of music's finest. But this year when two popular Mexican bands were honored, it was a reminder of violence and fear.

JUAN GOMEZ, SINGER, K-PAZ DE LA SIERRA: Everybody is afraid. And concerned too because of over there, it's kind of easy to lose your life.

CARROLL: Juan Gomez, is now lead singer of K-Paz de La Sierra. He took over after his brother, Sergio, the band's former lead singer, was brutally murdered last December.

GOMEZ: I'm still thinking like I am dreaming and I think maybe one day he is coming back or something. Because it was like so quick that I feel like I'm still dreaming about it.

CARROLL: Sergio Gomez was honored posthumously. So was Valentine Elizade. Mexican officials won't comment, but some who followed the investigation believe that the two were killed by Mexican drug cartels. Over the past year, at least a dozen musicians have been murdered.

ELIZABETH KEMPSHALL, U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN.: That gives them more clout because they killed somebody that is in the public eye. Because that's what gives these cartel leaders their power.

CARROLL: Veteran drug enforcement agents like Elizabeth Kempshall, say, cartels use any motive for murder. Some of the musicians may have been killed because they sang about the drug problem. Many believe they hit on Sergio Gomez, may have been ordered simply because he was becoming popular.

Mexico's president has made cracking down on cartels a top priority.

FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): My government will return to the rule of law.

CARROLL: The added pressure on the cartels could be one reason why officials believe they may have turned their attention to high- profile musicians. U.S. drug officials say, one of their challenges is to prevent that type of violence from crossing the border.

KEMPSHELL: These individuals bring their culture with them. And if they need to exert their power, they kill as well. Even if it's in the United States.

CARROLL: Sergio Gomez's murder remains unsolved. His brother Juan, doesn't think the killers will ever be found. So he pours his heart into the music, just as his brother did.

GOMEZ: The music was all his life. And he was living for the music.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: CNN's Jason Carroll, joining us now live from New York, this morning.

Jason, how concerned is the United States, that this violence will actually spill over the border?

CARROLL: Well, they are extremely concerned when you consider this, Heidi.

One of the DE agents we spoke to told us, 92 percent of the illegal drugs that come into this country, come in through Mexico. It's big business, big volume. These Mexican drug cartels, they tell me, will do anything to make sure that business stays afloat, including exporting some of that violence here.

COLLINS: How successful though, have they been working with the Mexican government? I mean, that seems to be the key here in order to put the cartel leaders behind bars.

CARROLL: Well, you're right and it is.

And right now, according to what we've been told, they have a good relationship with the Mexican government. What we're told last year, the Mexican government actually extradited some 15 significant traffickers. That was in the month of January alone. One of their biggest fears, Heidi, is being prosecuted and put behind bars right here in the United States.

But you know, here's the thing. Once you take one person out of commission, put them behind bars, unfortunately, there's someone standing there to step right in their shoes.

COLLINS: Yes, there's always someone else, it seems.

All right. CNN's Jason Carroll.

Nice to see you, Jason, great work. Thanks so much.

HARRIS: Can we get NASA TV on the air? Take a look at this. NASA TV does a tremendous job of providing pictures.

We are oh, minutes away from the space walk. The first space walk of this 14-day mission to deploy KIVO. As Miles was just saying -- oh that's a big lavatory, the largest of its kind. Miles O'Brien, was saying just moments ago, that there is repair work that needs to go on here, once the walk begins. Highly technical. But this is a beautiful view from NASA TV.

We're going to visit with Miles again next hour, for an update right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Just got this in here to the CNN NEWSROOM, want to get it out to you as quickly as we can. According to the "Associated Press," officials are saying -- not sure who the officials are -- that Hillary Clinton will acknowledge Tuesday night, tonight, that Senator Barack Obama has the delegates need for the nomination.

Once again, according to the "Associated Press," officials say Clinton will acknowledge Tuesday night, tonight, Senator Barack Obama has the delegates needed for the nomination. So there's nothing here about conceding. And again, just want to make sure we give the proper attribution here to the "Associated Press."

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

COLLINS: In hot pursuit. Police with golf carts sneak up on a suspect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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