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John McCain Holds Town Hall Meeting; Flooding Still Ravaging Midwest; Space Shuttle Investigates Possible Problem
Aired June 13, 2008 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, again, everyone. You are informed with CNN. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Developments keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on this Friday, June 13.
Here's what's on the rundown.
Deluge in the Midwest. Homes evacuated, roads shut down. Many rivers keep rising. Some towns may not see a crest for days.
HARRIS: And a hitch before homecoming? NASA looking into possible problems on the shuttle Discovery in the NEWSROOM.
An Iowa town under water this morning. Imagine that for a second. The Midwest battered by more record floods and reeling from deadly tornadoes. A huge section of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa is submerged. We will take threw live.
Also, mourning four boy scouts killed when a tornado flattened their Iowa camp and picking up the pieces from tornadoes that killed at least two people in Kansas.
COLLINS: And thousands of people forced from their homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa because of flooding.
Our Betty Nguyen has been watching the water rise all morning long. She's joining us now live.
And Betty, from the shots behind you and what we have been watching as you walk around there in that water, looks like you need taller waders.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. I need some waders to come up here. I can't even get nearly down to the homes that you see behind me that are just filled with water. At this hour, we're looking at -- get this -- the governor has declared 83 counties disaster zones.
There's only 99 counties in the state. And to give you a little more perspective, there are 100 city blocks under water. This particular neighborhood, as you can see, homes are just flooded. A lot of these homes have basements and that bottom floor is just filled with water. This is a 500-year flood zone. This is not supposed to happen into this neighborhood. And in fact, a lot of neighbors have started to come out. They've seen our coverage and they want to see what's the latest with their home.
I want to introduce you to Ron and his daughter. Ron lives just down the street. And in fact, you saw your house on our air.
Could you believe the water?
RON BILSLAND, CEDAR RAPIDS RESIDENT: I couldn't believe the water came up this far. I have never seen it or heard from my relatives they coming up this far in their lifetime.
NGUYEN: And yesterday, in fact, someone had to come knocking on your door and said it's time to go.
R. BILSLAND: Correct. A gas company came by and knocked on the door and told me they were going to disconnect the gas and to try to be out by 6:00.
NGUYEN: You were able to get your family out. But your daughter is with us. And you're a little worried because you still have a cat back in the house, don't you?
KAITLYN BILSLAND, DAUGHTER: Yes.
NGUYEN: What do you think has happened to the cat?
K. BILSLAND: Well, maybe she's probably just like laying down and maybe enjoying it.
NGUYEN: Enjoying it. Really? She's probably one of the very few that are enjoying this. Although you told me a little bit earlier she may be upstairs so might not be in harm's way?
K. BILSLAND: Yes.
NGUYEN: Well, that's good to hear. What do you do now? Do you have flood insurance? Because, after all, this is a 500-year flood zone. A lot of people don't have insurance here.
R. BILSLAND: No, we don't. We purchased the house last spring and when we went to get the loan we were told that we didn't need flood insurance. So we didn't purchase any. Now it's -- we're going to have just work more overtime and trying to get a loan or hopefully the government will step in and give us a hand to replace the hot water, heater, conditioning system.
I can really say it's a mess. But so far it looks like the water hasn't reached the first floor, just the basement. And there's a few things down there, Christmas items and stuff, that we need to get to. We've lost those. Those can be replaced in time.
NGUYEN: Yes, at least you and your family are alive. That's the main thing. And really, what is so amazing about all of this, Heidi, is the fact that despite all the water that you see, 7,000 homes and businesses had to be evacuated, that's 19,000 people including a hospital, Mercy Hospital, had to have 176 people evacuated from that.
But of all of this, there have been no fatalities. So that is the good news. But the bad news is that this is an epic flood. When we talk about numbers here, this river, the Cedar River is expected to crest today and it is at this hour at 32 feet. The last record was back in 1929 at 20 feet. So that gives you an idea...
COLLINS: Holy cow.
NGUYEN: ... of how much water has moved on into these neighborhoods. And as far as we've been here this morning, we've been here for a few hours. It has advanced through the streets here at least 10 feet. That's been in the past five hours.
So hopefully things will start to dry out and recede because the families who live here really need to get in their homes and try to take as much as they can of that water out and restore what's possible.
COLLINS: Yes, and then you mentioned some of the pets, too, hoping that most of those pets are out of there.
COLLINS: We know that people are safe. So that's good news. But I'm sure a lot of kids...
COLLINS: ... are worried about their dogs and cats. So we appreciate that.
Betty Nguyen live from Cedar Rapids this morning.
HARRIS: Want to get to Tim Fitzgerald. He is on the line with us. He is the president of Liberty Bank in Cedar Rapids.
Tim, thanks for your time this morning.
TIM FITZGERALD, PRES., LIBERTY BANK, CEDAR RAPIDS: You bet, Tony.
HARRIS: Hey, Tim, if you would describe -- boy, describe the scene downtown. We're seeing pictures, but you know, the pictures are one thing. And then to actually see it for yourself is something different.
Describe your downtown.
FITZGERALD: We went -- we're located on 3rd Street Southeast. We're three to four blocks away from the river. We went into an evacuation mode on Wednesday afternoon. Sandbagged the building and moved all critical records. And we were told that we probably would not experience any floodwater.
At 7:00 yesterday morning, 3rd Street in front of our office was -- did not have water. And at 12:30 yesterday afternoon, we were surrounded by three to four feet of water.
You know so much of the focus on Wednesday was Cedar Falls and the sandbagging effort that was going on there to save the downtown.
Did you have a sense that maybe you would not be as impacted as it turned out?
FITZGERALD: Yes. And I think the general feeling was that there wouldn't be -- if we did have water, it would be minimal and probably only in the basement. I don't think anybody expected because the prediction on Wednesday was that our flood stage would reach 24.7. And as you just said in the previous report, it's almost 32 feet right now.
HARRIS: Boy. So what do you do now? I guess you just have to wait. And is the water rising? Is it starting to recede now? Where do things stand for you right now?
FITZGERALD: It's still rising right now, Tony. The last I heard is that it's supposed to crest sometime this afternoon. They think they're close to being at the crest point and we're expecting probably late next week before where we couldn't be able to get back into our building and assess damage...
HARRIS: Are you kidding me? You're talking about late next week before you can get back to the building and assess what you have?
FITZGERALD: Yes, yes. We've moved all of our staff to another location. We're working out of that location. But I -- based on how much water is there, I'm thinking it's going to be Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest before we'll be able to get into the building.
HARRIS: What are you hearing in terms of the historic nature of this? I don't know how long you can live there in town but...
FITZGERALD: I have been in Cedar Rapids for 21 years. I was here when the floods of '93 hit. No comparison between the two. This is just catastrophic.
HARRIS: Whoa. And the good people of Cedar Rapids, talk to us about their nature. And once you're able to get back on the ground, I would imagine the spirit to pull together and clean this up will be really strong. We've seen the efforts in Cedar Falls and I suspect it will be there in Cedar Rapids.
FITZGERALD: You know there's a tremendous work ethic here. And everybody will pitch in and it's just -- it's going to be a long, dirty summer, I'm afraid.
FITZGERALD: The fortunate thing that we're happy with is none of our staff lost their homes and everybody's safe.
HARRIS: And you're able to keep them working?
FITZGERALD: Able to keep them work.
HARRIS: Well, that's great.
Tim Fitzgerald, sounds like you're really making the best of a horrible situation. Thanks for your time and thanks for giving us that vivid description of what it is like right now in your downtown.
Tim, appreciate it. Thanks.
COLLINS: Want to check in now with Reynolds Wolf in the Severe Weather Center with more of a picture of what's happening in Iowa, because, you know, Reynolds, there are, I'm sure, people out there who don't know the geography very well and I think you have some other pictures coming in from flooded Des Moines as well.
COLLINS: Yes. Hey, Reynolds.
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Sure.
COLLINS: That live shot you pulled up in Des Moines of the bridges? We were looking at that yesterday. And you could see just the top of the underpass where people would, you know, normally be driving underneath. And now, obviously, today that is completely gone.
We were trying to pull up a picture to show a comparison there. But if anybody who's watching yesterday, this is a very different picture. And amazing how quickly it changes.
WOLF: And think of all the undue stress that is being put on those bridges.
HARRIS: That's a great point.
WOLF: I mean the bridges are constructed to deal with current at the bottom near the base of the bridge, not so high up.
WOLF: And then -- you know, the force of that water, pushing, pushing, pushing, and the debris that it's picked up and carried by that water and bashing up against those bridges...
HARRIS: That's a great point.
WOLF: ... you really have to worry about the -- really the strength of those structures.
WOLF: So how long are they going to hold up?
COLLINS: Afterwards, too. Yes, absolutely. All right, we're going to keep looking for that picture because we want to show that comparison. We'll look for that and check back with you later on.
Thank you, Reynolds.
WOLF: All right, guys.
COLLINS: The devastating toll of a deadly twister in Iowa painfully evident on these faces. About 100 people gathered last night at a memorial vigil to honor four boy scouts. They were killed after a tornado tore through their camp in western Iowa on Wednesday.
The twister's 145-mile-per-hour winds destroyed a building where the scouts had taken shelter. Among those grieving at the vigil, parents whose children survived the ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: Just as easily could have been my kids. And, you know, of course, you do think of scouts as your family and that they are all our kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: At least 12 people injured at the boy scout camp are still in the hospital.
HARRIS: We're talking about terrifying memories for the boy scouts who lived through that monster tornado in Iowa. They are talking about their ordeal and giving heart wrenching descriptions of the scene moments after the twister hit.
CNN's Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The tornado that tore apart this boy scout camp came so fast it didn't seem real.
JOHN PORTER, BOY SCOUT: I just kept waiting for myself to wake up from a dream. I still couldn't believe that I was -- that I had actually been there and gone through that.
SIMON: But John Porter, Jack Pape, and Phillip Brunetti did. They're among the survivors. But they were also rescuers helping the injured and holding each other together.
PHILLIP BRUNETTI, BOY SCOUT: Some of our leadership skills were used in that tornado because I think that's what saved a lot of people. SIMON: They took cover -- shelters one moment, rubble the next.
(On camera): Describe what the scene looks like.
JACK PAPE, BOY SCOUT: There's just chaos. I mean there's rubble, there's guys laying around, a lot of guys, a lot of blood lost. You could tell. And the whole pavement -- the whole foundation was covered in like a light red because the blood was mixed in with rainwater.
It was just chaos. It was gruesome. And we -- and tried to find who was hurt the worst and help them.
SIMON (voice-over): But some scouts were beyond help and were killed in the storm. Ben Petrzilka and Aaron (INAUDIBLE), each 14 years old, Josh Fennen and Sam Thomsen -- they were just 13.
Others were badly injured. One had a fractured skull.
PAPE: The kid -- he kept trying to get back up, I mean -- and he said, I'm not hurt. I'm fine. And I said, yes, you are. You need to stay down. I said Don't move, because I was afraid there might be nerve damage or something.
PORTER: I was talking to people that were hurt. There was one who had a broken leg and he was in extreme pain. And we just had to keep asking him questions like, what was his name, what's his favorite color, what's he like to do. And it was really -- it was just really sad.
SIMON: But true to the motto, they were prepared. Emergency training just a day before the tornado struck.
LLOYD ROITSTEIN, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA: They rap it and we teach the scouts when they were in the wilderness what to do, where to go in case there's a storm. But there was no -- there's no building that could stand the force of that tornado that hit.
PORTER: I'm just going to remember that since I was one of the people that wasn't hurt, there's a reason for that. God put me here for a reason. I'm going to try to do whatever I can to remember that.
COLLINS: Very young boy there.
We want to switch gears completely for a moment and go back to the story we were telling you about on the space shuttle and some strange debris that was sort of floating in space.
As you know, the shuttle Discovery is planning to land tomorrow getting to do their preparation for that.
Miles O'Brien has been watching the story and spoken with some people at NASA. He's going to give us the very latest.
Miles, what's the deal?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes...
COLLINS: We know what it is yet?
O'BRIEN: We've been working that -- working the phone pretty hard on this one and the e-mail is hard, Heidi, and by the way, I -- it's 11:15 a.m. Eastern Time is the planned landing.
O'BRIEN: Just to back people up just a little bit before we get to what we think this might be. They were in the process of getting ready for landing, testing out their surfaces, making sure all the flaps move when they should, the rudder moves when it should. The front rockets fire -- all the things that are part of the routine before a landing, as they say, which is scheduled tomorrow.
Now look what happened in the course of doing that. Take a look at this tape and you'll see this piece of debris that we are talking about. It's right there and it kind of glimpse in the sunlight and some people said ice. I look at it. Didn't seem like ice to me.
Sure enough, Mission Control now strongly believes it is a clip which holds insulation to the rudder on the space shuttle Discovery.
Come back to me now live and I'll show you what I'm talking about. Back in this area here, this is the rudder, this is tail section. The rudder controls the way the vehicle goes this way. But it also -- interesting on the shuttle, it's unusual, it splits in both directions and operates as a speed brake as well once it hits the runway.
In the course of testing all that out, that clip broke free. And when it broke free, apparently a piece of the insulation which it was supposed to clip and hold to the structure there broke free.
Now let me just show what you I'm talking about right down to there. And if you look, you see that little protrusion there? It's kind of hard to see but it's right there in that section there. And it's a piece of insulation.
Now is that a huge concern? The shuttle, of course, endures 2,000 to 3,000 debris in some places as it returns to earth. We're told by NASA that this is an area that is not a huge concern because it is not necessarily a hotspot.
Now they're still working on this, though. There are some options that may -- could include potentially going to go and do it -- have a space walk at the end of one of that long boon they have and take a looksy very early before they're going to be making any decisions along this line.
Couple things to remember here, Heidi, that are very important. First of all, they have several days of margin to stay in orbit on their own. And they also have enough gas propellant in here to go back and dock at the International Space Station if they had serious concerns about the shuttle.
Having said all of that, no reason to believe that there are any serious or grave concerns about the orbiter right now. In about 32 minutes or so, 11:52 a.m. Eastern Time, previously scheduled news conference with the crew. CBS News will be conducting the interviews. And we're going to dip into that. We'll listen to what the crew has to say about what they say and what their concerns are right now -- Heidi.
COLLINS: OK. Important to point out, though, that was previously scheduled. Don't want to cause any extra alarm there.
All right. CNN's Miles O'Brien for us.
HARRIS: And happening right now in Pemberton, New Jersey, a John McCain town hall meeting due to get under way.
John McCain is expected to have something to say and he's speaking now. Let me pipe down and here is John McCain.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Rule of law, the fundamental element of democracy and he serves and does it without publicity and without any of the attendant things that go with being in the United States senator. He does it as a member of the uniformed military.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, thank you. Former secretary of the Navy John Lehman is here.
John, thank you for being here and thank you for all you've done.
I'd like to recognize a friend, a great friend of the state of New Jersey and a great friend of all of us who has completed 24 years of service in the Congress,. Congressman Jim Saxton.
Jim, thank you for your service and thank you for your membership in Congress.
I congratulate my friend, former congressman, Dick Zimmer, who will be the next senator from the great state of New Jersey.
Dick, thank you for -- good luck to you.
Chris Meyers, mayor of Medford, who is running for Jim Saxton's seat.
Chris, congratulations to you.
And I'd like to just recognize -- I have an old comrade and friend here. Long ago and far away I was onboard -- that a boy. That a guy, yes. I was -- onboard a aircraft carrier called the USS Forrestal. We had a terrible fire. 234 brave young members of that crew gave their lives fighting that fire on that day.
And one of my shipmates is here, Richard White, who also received the Bronze Star.
Richard, you're here. I thank you, my friend, for being here and thank you for your service.
MCCAIN: Could I ask...
MCCAIN: And could I ask your indulgence for one more moment before I begin rather brief remarks and then get to what you came here for and that is the town hall meeting. But before I do, I see these funny hats. And I see these wonderful, wonderful people who served our country in time of conflict and our most cherished and greatest Americans, our veterans.
Would you all stand so we can thank all of our veterans who are here today and who served in all wars?
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, sir. God bless. Thank you all. Thank you very much.
And I'd like to say again to our veterans, thank you for your support. Thank you for your friendship. But most of all, thank you for your service to our country. And I want to promise you, I want to give you my solemn commitment. We will take care of the health care needs of our veterans. That is our highest priority. And we will care for them.
MCCAIN: George Washington in -- in 1789, George Washington said that the ability for young Americans to serve their country in time of war is directly related to how the nation treated those who were -- who served in previous conflicts. George Washington was as accurate in 1789 -- he is today as accurate as he was then.
My friends, I want to just make a few comments to you and then I'd like to respond to your comments and your questions.
And I'd like to begin by saying these town hall meetings are the most important part, of my view, of the process. Because it not only gives you a chance to hear from me, and I'll try not to make you hear from me for very long, but it gives me an opportunity to hear from you.
It gives us a glimpse, an idea, of your hopes and your dreams and your aspirations and your frustrations today and the challenges that you face, and better sets our priorities. And it helps me enormously. I just give you -- I'd like to give you one small example. When I ran in 2000, young people came to town hall meetings all over New Hampshire. And Americans said what are you going to do about climate change? I didn't know anything about climate change.
I went back to this -- after I lost -- I went back to the United States Senate and I began to look into this issue. And it became a very high priority for me. Thanks to the interface that I had with young men and women.
But town hall meeting are important. I think that the good thing about the town hall meetings, you don't have the SPAN, you don't have the sound bites, you don't have the (INAUDIBLE) questions. You just get to hear from ordinary people, citizens of this country, the greatest nation in the world.
And that's why I have asked Senator Obama -- I've asked him -- to engage in town hall meetings with me. Won't you come with me around this country the way that Barry Goldwater and President Kennedy had committed to do before the tragedy of Dallas intervened?
They were going to fly around the country. And they were going to go to cities around the country and debate the issues. So the American people unfiltered, you know, not grabbing a sound bite or a phrase and then making a big deal about it and sending it around to the various pundits who have to fill up air time. But a direct contact with the American people.
Unfortunately, Senator Obama has not agreed. I have set aside one day a week for 10 weeks so that we could go to a different city for 10 weeks and talk to the American people and have them talk to us.
I hope that we will, that we -- he will accept.
And by the way, I've already accepted a couple of invitations, one from the LBJ library and another one from the Reagan Library to do town hall meetings. I hope that he will agree also to do that.
We need to stop fighting for ourselves and start fighting for you, and start putting our country first and our party second. That's what this is all about. And that's why I hope we go through -- and that's how I think that we need to change the tenor of politics in America for you. Not for me. I could give speeches all day long, as you know, and in different places.
But this is for you. This is for America. That's why I want to do these meetings. Not because it's going to be easy. It's tough, my friends, when people have very tough questions. But it makes you think. It makes you think.
And so I think this campaign should be for you. And you're tired of the SPAN, you're tired of sound bites, you're tired of attack ads, you're tired of impugning people's character and integrity.
You want a civilized debate and discussion of the issues that -- and challenges that confront America. And I want to begin our conversation by telling you I respect and admire Senator Obama. But we will have -- and he has run a great campaign in securing the nomination of his party. But I want to tell you we have got to start differences. We have got dramatic differences.
Americans will probably have a greater choice in this election than they have had in a long, long time. Because he believes, obviously, in big government, in big spending, in higher taxes, and health care decided by the government.
I believe exactly the opposite. And, obviously, we are in two wars. We are in two wars. And we face the transcendental challenge of radical Islamic extremists.
I've got to mention one more issue with you very quickly in case you missed it.
The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.
MCCAIN: Senator Graham and Senator Lieberman and I had worked very hard to make sure that we didn't torture any prisoners, that we didn't mistreat them, that we abided by the Geneva Conventions which is -- applies to all prisoners.
But we also made it perfectly clear -- and I won't go through all the legislation we passed and the prohibition against torture -- but we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants. These are people who are not citizens. They do not and never have been given the rights that citizens of this country have.
And my friends, there are some bad people down there. There's some bad people.
MCCAIN: So now what are we going to do? We're now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, "habeas corpus" suits against the government whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases.
And by the way, 30 of the people who've already been released from Guantanamo Bay have already tried to attack America again. One of them just a couple of weeks ago, a suicide bomber in Iraq.
So our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that.
MCCAIN: And I'll -- and you know, Chief Justice Roberts -- I would like to give you one quote from him. Chief Justice Roberts is probably one of most respected jurists in the history of this nation.
And by the way, Senator Obama opposed and voted against his confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.
But let -- let me just say -- let me just quote to you from what Chief Justice Roberts wrote. Usually a fairly mild individual in his opinions. Very briefly.
"So who has won? Not the detainees. The court's analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new Habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the D.C. Court.
And then he ends up not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for an alien enemy combatants and certainly not the American people who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this nation's foreign policy to unelected politically unaccountable judges.
Now, that's the opinion of Chief Justice Roberts, of the United States Supreme Court. So, my friends and as I mentioned, Senator Obama, strongly supported this decision. That's another part of the process the American people are going to go through when they decide who should be Commander in Chief and best make this nation safe.
Now, let me just make a couple of more comments, if I could, to you very quickly. My friends, there are three -- there three major challenges of this campaign. And I can epitomize them very briefly. Reform, prosperity, peace. And I's like to say a couple of words about each of those major challenges we have. And first, let's remember that unless we reform the way we do business in Washington and work together, putting the country first, which I have done throughout my entire political career, we will continue to see the gridlock in Washington which is unacceptable, given the challenges that America faces today.
I promise you, I will reach across the aisle, I know how to work with the Democrats. Preserving my conservative principles but we must fix the broken system in Washington and the biggest part of that and the most visible part of that is the out-of-control wasteful pork- barrel, earmark spending which has corrupted the process in Washington.
And I will fix it. And I will fix it. I am proud to have never asked for nor received an earmark pork-barrel project for my state of Arizona. Senator Obama, in the short time he's been in the Senate obtained tens of millions of dollars in earmark pork barrel projects. My friends, we've got to reform it. And we've got to reform the way we do business and we've got to stop the out-of-control spending. It's not revenue that's the problem in Washington, it's the spending.
We have increased Republican and Democrat alike, spending by some 40 percent. Discretionary, that's a great word, discretionary. But, by some 40 percent. And could I just quote my old beloved Ronald Reagan used to say, "Congress spends money like a drunken sailor. Only I never knew a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of Congress." That's a pretty good line. And I guess I'll have -- I use it so much -- I use it with all due respect sir, in all -- I say it so often that I received an e-mail from a guy that said, "As a former drunken sailor I resent being compared to members of Congress." So, anyway.
Then we have to -- then, obviously, we have to fix Social Security. And we have to fix Medicare. And I want to just mention on the issue of Social Security, McCain wants to quote, "privatize Social Security." My friends, I do I not and will not privatize Social Security. It is a government program and it's necessary. But it's broken. And we got to tell the American people that we got to fix it.
And we got to sit down together. The way that Ronald Reagan and Chip O'Neill did, back in 1983 and fixed Social Security. And but my friends, I will not privatize Social Security. And it's not true when I'm accused of that. But I would like for younger workers, younger workers only, to have an opportunity to take a few of their tax dollars, a few of theirs, and maybe put it into an account with their name on it. That's their money. That's their money.
So, when I say that, please don't -- please don't let them twist that as they have others. It's their money, it's their money. It's your money. And we will make sure that present day retirees -- I will commit -- have the benefits that they have earned. And nothing -- any proposal would change that.
My friends, just -- now let me move just quickly to prosperity. Americans are hurting right now. I don't have to tell anybody in this room. I don't have to tell anybody in this room that people tonight in the great state of New Jersey, are sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out how they can stay in their homes. There are people who have suddenly and recently lost their jobs. These are tough times. These are the toughest kind of times. And we know that. And that's the reason why we have to reform. But we have to fix the problem short term and long term.
And, my friends, I am convinced that if we do what Senator Obama wants to do, which is raise your taxes, that will be the worst and most harmful thing we could do to the United States of America and our economy. I want your taxes to stay low. I want every American family to double their tax break from $3,500 to $7,000 for every child in America. So that --
HARRIS: There you have John McCain, in Pemberton, New Jersey, at a town hall meeting. You heard a lot there. John McCain had a lot to say about yesterday's Supreme Court decision on the rights of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay. The court had a 5-4 decision, decided to provide detainees legal footing to contest the grounds of their detention in federal court. Again, that was a 5-4 ruling. John McCain just moments ago, calling that one of the worst decisions in the history of the country.
I'm sure that Barack Obama will have plenty to say about this as he was also attacked by the senator this morning on health care, taxes and spending. Barack Obama with an event next hour in Columbus, Ohio.
COLLINS: The power of floods, utility poles swept away. Huge dumpsters floating down river. Coping with catastrophe in Cedar Rapids. Coming up in the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Boy, a town submerged. Thousands of people evacuated this morning in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The pictures have just been amazing. The city swamped by record floods, battering the Midwest. Rescuers have used boats as you can see here, to get some residents to safety. Nine Iowa rivers are at or above historic flood levels. The flooding even forced the evacuation of a hospital in Cedar Rapids. More than 170 patient has to be taken to other hospitals.
Elsewhere in the region, authorities report two flood related deaths. One in Minnesota and one in Michigan.
COLLINS: The head of The Federal Emergency Management Administration heads to flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, Iowa. today.
Our Gary Tuchman is there and shows us how residents are coping with this catastrophe.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a catastrophic flood in progress. Dazed people watching their neighborhood fill with water. Not knowing what to do next.
(on camera): It's pretty startling isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I can't even think right now.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): When we first arrived in the southwestern part of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, water from the nearby Cedar River was just starting to rise.
(on camera): Here we go.
(voice-over): But it was only the beginning. Suddenly we saw telephone poles floating down the streets. The powerful currents of the rapidly escalating waters, started pushing huge dumpsters. The water started lapping up the homes.
(on camera): We've been on the street for just 15 minutes and the rain is now coming down heavily. Before when I was walking here the water was up to my knees, now it's getting closer to my waist. Within a couple of hours, who knows how high it will go. (voice-over): And that's a very frightening feeling for the people who are helplessly watching the river come perilously close to their living rooms.
(on camera): How worried are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm past worried. I'm just sad. This is where I grew up.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): We are with Rochelle Charnowski, as the water starts coming into her home. It's the first house she ever bought.
ROCHELLE CHARNOWSKI, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA: I got off work at 12:00 and this has come up four feet in the last what, hour and a half. I don't know what time it is right now.
TUCHMAN (on camera): I mean look outside the window right now. You see you know, wood floating around and refrigerators. I mean, it looks like you're living on a canal in Venice.
Is there anything you can do?
CHARNOWSKI: Just hope and pray that we might be able to salvage something out of it all.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This man rescued his dogs out of his home that's already out of water.
(on camera): It is such a helpless feeling, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you can't do nothing. I was going to ride it out. But, I can't.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Good samaritans in monster trucks prowled the streets looking for people who might need rescue. It looks like New Orleans after Katrina. The roadways are waterways. Homes are ruined, lives are now changed. And it all happened in a matter of a few hours.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
COLLINS: Iowa residents waiting for the water to start receding so they can return to their homes. And one of those residents is Rochelle Charnowski of Cedar Rapids. You saw her in the piece there by Gary Tuchman, when she talked to him as water rose around her house.
She is on the phone with us from Marion, Iowa. Rochelle, thanks for being with us. I know this is a really, really tough time for you. Can you update us specifically on your situation?
CHARNOWSKI: Well, currently I'm at some friend's in Merion. And basically, there's not a whole lot I can do or anywhere I can go. I know that I spoke with people who did visit my neighborhood earlier this morning. And by that time it was up to the stop sign. So I know for a fact, it's got to be well over my first floor of my house. So...
COLLINS: Wow, when you say up over the stop sign, so that really gives us a good idea of what we are talking about here. Even as we see these pictures and all of that water.
When you heard that, what did you think?
CHARNOWSKI: I'm in disbelief. It's just hard to even fathom what's really going on here. It just happened all so fast. (INAUDIBLE) not to get anything out but I just kind of kick myself in the butt now, wishing that I would have done more, could have more or whatever. But now it's just waiting and hopefully we can get in there soon to start rebuilding and move in.
COLLINS: Well, what would you have done, Rochelle? What is there that you could do?
CHARNOWSKI: Well, I guess you know, there's physically nothing we can do. We can't even get in to the house, you know and everything. I don't know, I guess it's a learning experience.
COLLINS: Well, the good news is -- and I know this is very hard to be watching all these pictures. That you have your life. And it seems so ridiculous to say now. I mean, we're watching a car just be completely swept away by all of that water.
What happens next? How long do you think you'll be in Marion? And how do you stay in contact with whatever authorities are there telling you when you might be able to go back?
CHARNOWSKI: Well, I think that contact is limited as far as we could get that OK to get in. I think it's pretty obvious that we can't. You know, there's no way possible to do it. And you know, I'm thinking it's probably going to be days until we can even get into the neighborhood.
COLLINS: Well, I'm so sorry that this has happened to you and your family. And I know your concern is great for your home that stands back there in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
We certainly appreciate your sharing your story with us and with Gary too, the other day. Rochelle Charnowski, of Cedar Rapids, on the phone with us from Marion, Iowa.
Thank you, Rochelle.
HARRIS: Not talking. Men keeping mum about health. But, we should open up and we'll tell you why.
But first, when man or woman is sent to jail, innocent victims are left behind -- their children. With Father's Day coming up this weekend, meet CNN Hero Carolyn LeCroy. She helps repair the bond between parent and child that prison threatens takes away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello Cameron, this is your father.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi JJ, it's Mommy. I love you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claire, Mommy misses you.
CAROLYN LECROY, CNN HERO: The children of an incarcerated parent are the silent victim of the parent's crime. These children get forgotten sometimes. My name is Carolyn LeCroy. And I started the Messages Project so that incarcerated parents can keep in touch with their kids.
In 1994, I was arrested and charged for possession of marijuana. I was very fortunate. My children came to see me all the time. And there would be women who never got visits. And I would look at them. If they were this unhappy, what about the children?
I know how important it was for my children to see me. When I got out, I took a bad situation and I made something good of it. Just talk from your heart, that's what this is about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey Calleb, this is Daddy, buddy. I love you and I hope you enjoy this.
LECROY: They know they've made mistakes. But they're still human beings and they have children and they all love them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is for your Daddy, OK?
Who is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have two books here. I hope you enjoy it.
LECROY: We have found that with the videos, for many, it's re- establishing a bond that got broken. It's hard when a parent is in prison. So I think that makes all those children heroes.
HARRIS: What do men want?
Well, what we don't want is to talk about our health. It's just -- that's the truth. It's sad but it's true. Just ask our doctors. CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here to tell us why we should start talking about hour health with our doctors.
Good morning, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
HARRIS: It's the truth. And it's sad, but we don't.
COHEN: It is the truth.
I asked some doctors -- what symptoms do men ignore that they shouldn't?
And one of them said, Elizabeth, you don't have enough time for me to list all of those things. I said OK. Well just give me the top ones. So they gave me the top ones. It's in my column this week at CNN.com/empoweredpatient.
COHEN: I've got a couple of them. Well one of them -- no, one of them definitely isn't you. I know for sure. Because that's a big belly. That's if first one.
You don't have a big belly.
HARRIS: I'm still -- I'm happy to say I have a flat belly. Thank you very much. Thank you.
COHEN: Belly fat is the worst. It is the worst for your health. It's worse than when it is in other places. It can be a sign that a man on his way to heart disease or diabetes.
Now another symptom that men sometimes ignore is impotence. They don't realize that impotence can be a sign that a man has other problems. One doctor at Columbia I talked to said the penis is the dipstick of the man's body.
Sort of an interesting way of phrasing it. All these --
HARRIS: I knew we were going to end up here. I knew we --
COHEN: I thought that was a very -- you get it when he says it, right?
HARRIS: I knew we were going to end up in the zone, in the area.
COHEN: Let's get above the zone and talk about the chest.
HARRIS: Thank you.
COHEN: Chest pain. I was shocked to hear, every doctor I talked to said men ignore chest pain, or shortness of breath, or chest tightness, even though those are clear signs of a heart attack and really everybody knows that. And I said, how can they ignore it?
And he said, they just do.
HARRIS: Why, why, why, why?
COHEN: Because -- men are stoic. Because men are taught when they are playing --
HARRIS: We want to be -- we don't want to be poked and prodded.
COHEN: Well that's true (ph).
HARRIS: We think we are kind of invincible. And we are not. And we should get help.
Am I on a soap box?
COHEN: No, that's exactly what all of these men's health specialists said to me. They said men are taught when they are boys playing sports, if they get hurt, sort of, buck up. And that's not a good message to give.
HARRIS: All right. So, back to the old dipstick here. Way too many of us sort of treat our doctors like Viagara dispensers.
COHEN: Yes. If a man is having problems with impotence, and certainly you want to go to your doctor and talk about drugs, but say to your doctor, what could this be a sign of.
Now, maybe it is just psychological. But maybe it is a sign that you need to be worked up for heart disease, for diabetes. So don't just take the drugs and run.
HARRIS: Well -- and the other thing, the other message here is, if you don't wouldn't do it for yourself, I know it's a cliche, but you need to really do it for your family. There are a lot of folks out there that love us. And this Father's Day, what a gift that would be.
COHEN: Absolutely. And you can send your male loved ones to CNN.com/empoweredpatient. It is the most e-mailed story on CNN.com right now -- five symptoms men should not ignore, as you said, for men and for the people who love them.
HARRIS: I hope -- I hope men are clicking on. It's not just the women and the kids that love them.
Elizabeth, thank you. Great information.
COHEN: Thank you.
COLLINS: Need to get this information out to you as we are getting it in here to the CNN NEWSROOM. Coming out of Concord, North Carolina, this is according to "The Associated Press" right now, authorities there are saying two people have been shot at a soda bottling plant. Specifically the name of it, Sun Drop Bottling Company (ph) makes soft drinks and spring water.
Apparently, these two people have been shot. There's no information on how they are doing at this point. This is according to a police sergeant on the scene, or at least in the area. The problem with all of this is that the suspected shooter is still on the loose, actually ran away from the area. So they are now using dogs and helicopters to try to track down the person. It is all happening north of Charlotte. Once again, two people had been shot at a soda bottling plant -- Concord, North Carolina. We will keep our eye it for you.
HARRIS: Let's get back to our space correspondent, Miles O'Brien in New York.
Miles, what's the latest? I know you are -- fast and furious with the e-mails and the conversation with the space shuttle. What's going on?
O'BRIEN: Yes, well here is what we know.
Top line here, the lead story is the crew is not in any danger. And as a matter of fact, they haven't given it the final blessing, if you will. That's going to come at a meeting happening in just a little while.
But we are told that the problem -- the clip which fell off is not a critical issue for re-entry. It's designed to cause -- insulation to stay attached to the rudder and the concern is about thermal issues during the launch. It happened as they were testing out those aero surfaces, getting ready for the landing, which is coming up at 11:15 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.
Let's go live now to the shuttle, to the aft -- mid-deck -- flight deck. And take a look.
Listen to CBS Bill Harwood as he interviews the crew. Lots of news obviously. Let's listen in.
VOICE OF BILL HARWOOD, CBS SPACE ANALYST: ... We're pretty interested in the object that you saw floating away. And we just heard that that's no concern. But that must have really caught your attention.
MARK KELLY, DISCOVERY COMMANDER: Well, Mike happened to be looking out the window when we were doing FCS (ph) check out. To try to get images of the aero surfaces moving and saw what turned out to be a clip float away. And fortunately got a really good picture of it.
HARWOOD: Yes, I saw a picture there and it looked pretty interesting. And then of course, you reported that protrusion on the rudders pre-break. But I guess they are saying that was absolutely nominal.
KELLY: Yes, when you see -- on the power point they showed us, it showed us what it does look like on the ground. You can tell that it is pretty normal. It is -- that's what we should see. With the lighting that we had up here it did look like a little bit of a concern. But we are no longer concerned about, after seeing the ground images.
HARWOOD: And I guess from your flight control system check out, everything else today, the shuttle is ship-shape and ready to come home tomorrow? KELLY: Yes, today everything was perfectly -- went through the NCS (ph) checkout procedure and the RCS (ph) hot fire procedure, and -- all worked as planned.
HARWOOD: I guess --
O'BRIEN: You're listening to Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly interviewed by CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood.
That was a previously scheduled news conference, public affairs event as NASA calls it. He'll continue on with his discussion. But we got the basic news -- the sense that that clip, which is up in here and designed to hold some insulating material -- this is some of the insulating material used on the shuttle, kind of blanket-like material -- came off, but it's not a concern because that clip is designed to hold the insulation that is there to protect this rudder section from heat which occurs during launch.
Imagine how close that is to the rocket nozzles and the concern they would have about heat there at the time of launch. This is not a concern according to the managers for re-entry, which is what we are worried about, of course, for tomorrow morning. Having said all that, the official clearance for land will come later this afternoon. And we will keep watching it for you.
HARRIS: That's great.
All right, Miles, appreciate it. Thank you.
Take break and you are back in the NEWSROOM in just a moment.
COLLINS: Before we wind things up here on the CNN NEWSROOM, we want to get back to the story that we have been following out of Concord, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte.
Two people, apparently, according to "The Associated Press," have been shot at a soda bottling plant; it's called the Sun Drop Bottling Company. No word on the condition of those people as of yet. But the important thing here, the suspected shooter is still on the loose. They are using dogs and helicopters to try to find him. Guess he ran away from the area after it all happened. Police obviously on the lookout for that suspect in Concord, North Carolina.
CNN NEWSROOM continues just one hour from now. CNN will also bring you Senator Obama's remarks coming from Columbus, Ohio, right?
HARRIS: Yes. That's right.
But first, "ISSUE #1" starts now.