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Tropical Storm Fay Strikes Florida; Barack Obama Close to Naming VP; Credit Crisis Continues; American Gymnast Denied Gold Despite Tied Score; McCain Attacks Obama on War in Iraq and Vet Issues; Interview With Bob Barr; Controversy For the U.S. Gymnastics Team

Aired August 19, 2008 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Fay locked in on Florida. Residents getting ready for the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't underestimate the danger.


CHETRY: And disappearing act.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To cloak something you have to bend light around it.


CHETRY: The scientist who says he may be able to make you invisible on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And welcome. It's Tuesday, August 19th. Welcome back from a nice three-day weekend.

It was very nice. Who wouldn't want to be invisible for a nice three-day weekend.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. It was really nice. Who wouldn't want to be invisible for just a little while.

CHETRY: Yes. Depending on the situation that could come in very handy.

ROBERTS: Sneaking in some of those meetings. Find out what's going on.

Welcome. And we begin with breaking news this morning Tropical Storm Fay just shy of hurricane strength now, closing in on Florida's heavily populated west coast. The storm already ripped through the Keys. It's blamed for more than a dozen deaths across the Caribbean. The storm's bands have been battering south Florida all night. Flooding and tornado watches a major concern right now.

We're going to be live with breaking details with our Rob Marciano in just a moment.

It looks like Barack Obama could announce his running mate as early as tomorrow. "The New York Times" reporting that Obama has narrowed his list to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh and Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Meantime, sources close to John McCain say he will name his VP choice a week from Friday on his birthday, 72nd birthday at a big rally in Ohio.

NATO ministers are meeting in Brussels at the moment in an emergency session called by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Secretary Rice is pushing the allies to curtail high level meetings and military cooperation with Russia if it does not withdraw its troops from Georgia. Moscow continues to drag its feet after signing a truce last week to end the war and pull its troops back.

CHETRY: And back to our breaking news right now. Florida's west coast taking a direct hit. Tropical Storm Fay, just shy of hurricane strength, is making landfall near Naples, Florida. The state's governor has declared a state of emergency as winds and rain punish the coast. Tornado watches are in effect.

Our Rob Marciano is live in Fort Myers, Florida. Reynolds Wolf is in the CNN hurricane headquarters. First, though, we head to Rob in Fort Myers. What's it like out there now, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Squally, Kiran, to say the least. The storm making landfall about 50 miles to the south of us just minutes ago really. So as it continues to head off to the north/northeast, it will get parallel to this spot. In the next hour or two, we expect conditions to get worse.

But because it made landfall south of here, storm surge is not much of an issue as it could have been. Residents here certainly fearing the worst with memories of Charlie in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma. Both major hurricanes in 2005 doing serious damage here. So they're certainly breathing a sigh of relief. But before Fay even got here, she certainly made her mark elsewhere.


MARCIANO (voice-over): Tropical Storm Fay roared through the Caribbean, killing at least 14 people. Then it hit the Florida Keys, causing some flash flooding and power outages, but no deaths. Now Florida Governor Charlie Crist had declared a state of emergency as the state deals with a second punch from Fay.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: It's a pretty wide cone. Everybody should be ready and everybody should be prepared.

MARCIANO: While some took the warning as a cue to leave town, others prepped their homes and businesses to battle the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going anywhere. MARCIANO: Fay is expected to drop eight to 10 inches of rain in parts of Florida and in the coming days could dump more than 25 inches in some places.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flood threat particularly for our urban areas looks to continue for much of the week.

MARCIANO: But water is only one problem. Wind another. One kite boarder in Fort Lauderdale learned the hard way. Wind this strong is nothing to play around with. He finally landed in the hospital in critical condition. While there are still no reports of deaths in Florida, the storm is by no means over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just want people to play it smart. Take their time. Be cautious. Don't underestimate the danger.


MARCIANO: And that's the main message. I was talking with emergency officials this morning. They're just urging people to stay indoors, just to stay off the roads if they can.

Bridges and roadways have yet to be closed. It's a 40 mile an hour sustained wind that they usually start to shut down those bridges. They haven't reached that. So far, winds have been sustained about 25 to 30 with higher gusts. Schools closed and the Fort Myers Airport not scheduled to open at 7:00 a.m. and even at that point it will be dodgy.

Storms surge is mostly south and you're near the Everglades. This made landfall very close to where Hurricane Wilma. Although it was a stronger storm, it made landfall back in 2005. And we're getting that surge into the Everglades as opposed to the more populated areas here in Collier, and Lee Counties is certainly a much better deal.

But as winds turn around and daylight shows up, the water there which is just off to my left will begin to creep up. We could see storm surges anywhere from two to four feet if they coincide with high tide later on this afternoon.

That's the latest from Fort Myers Beach. Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: And, Rob, while that kite boarding pictures, those really just illustrate perfectly just how dangerous and unpredictable this weather can be. That guy's in critical condition as we understand it?

MARCIANO: Yes. You know, it's so tempting for these surfers to get out and want to play in the waves. And kite boarding certainly the latest craze as far as extreme water sports go. And when you get a gust of wind and a kite like that it can certainly send you for a loop and that gentleman certainly paying the price for it.

So, obviously, folks are encouraged to let the storm pass. Even though it's a tropical storm relative to what Florida has had to deal with in the past few years, certainly a dangerous situation -- Kiran.

CHETRY: No doubt. All right, Rob. We'll check in with you throughout the morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Difficult to let go, too, because you're harnessed on to that kite as well. You've got to release but you got to be able to get to it. Wow, terrible.

This has been a very unpredictable tropical system already making landfall twice. And new pictures this morning from Marco Island where they're getting some of the most intense precipitation.

Wind gusts now topping 50 miles an hour and you can see the storm's strength as it moved over Marathon, Florida and Islamorada in the Keys yesterday afternoon.

CNN's Reynolds Wolf is standing by in the hurricane center for us this morning. Some good news though as far as hurricane warnings go this morning, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. We don't have any hurricane warnings or watches that are in effect right now. The storm is still, as Rob mentioned, coming on shore. About 50 miles south of his location, winds at 60 miles an hour gusting to 70. It's about 48 miles south from Fort Myers, Florida moving north northeastern at nine miles per hour.

And, John, you know, you mentioned moments ago about how unpredictable the storm has been. Check out the latest path we have for you from the National Hurricane Center. This would just boggle your mind.

We expect the storm to make its way right along parts of the I-4 corridor later on today and I'd say later on this afternoon into the evening. By 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, the storm expected to pop out not to far from Cape Canaveral and then veer its way back near Mayport and Jacksonville, just past Ponte Vedra, Florida, as we get all the way into Thursday and Friday, just as a tropical storm, once again, as we get into Thursday regenerating with winds going back up to 45 miles per hour.

Keep in mind that would make the storm have its third landfall. If you include what happened down in Cuba and this part of Florida this morning and then back up here near Mayport, this is going to be the third landfall for the storm.

And then, John, you'll notice it's going to move right on parts of the I-10 corridor, right near the station in front. We could see some heavy rain and extreme flooding anywhere from, say, 10 to possibly 25 inches of rainfall as we get into the weekend. So we could go from a tropical system to a major flooding story over the next couple days. And we will certainly keep you advised on the very latest. Back to you, John.

ROBERTS: Reynolds, looking at the track of that storm that's taking it right over Lake Okeechobee, it looks like it might actually be helpful for Florida.

WOLF: Absolutely. You know, you have to look at the big picture too in parts of Georgia where much of the southeast is mired in a drought. So if you're looking for a positive aspect with the storm system, it would be that it would bring some beneficial rain. The problem is too much of anything is seldom good, and that may be the story with Fay.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll keep watching it. Reynolds for us this morning. Reynolds, thanks very much.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, presidents from about 100 of the country's top colleges want lawmakers to consider lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18. They say the current law actually encourages dangerous binge drinking on campus. The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving disagrees saying statistics show the higher drinking age has actually reduced the number of fatal car crashes.

Doctors in California cannot deny care to gays and lesbians even if the procedure goes against the physicians' religious beliefs. And that was the ruling from the state's highest court. The case stems from a lesbian couple that claimed two Christian fertility doctors refused to artificially inseminate one of the women because she was gay. Lawyers for the clinic say they're considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And actress Christina Applegate tells ABC News she's "100 percent clear and clean" after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Now Applegate was diagnosed with the disease earlier this month after getting a doctor-ordered MRI. She says she started getting mammograms at the age of 30. Applegate's mom also battled and survived the disease.

ROBERTS: It's eight minutes after the hour now. Stocks take a tumble over the credit crisis as many people warn of big trouble for two home lending giants. Find out what it means for your money. Gerri Willis is with us.

And a gold medal controversy in Beijing. A U.S. gymnast finishes with exactly the same score as her Chinese competitor in the uneven bars final. So how did she end up with a silver medal?

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Coming up on 11 minutes after the hour and continuing our breaking news this morning. Tropical Storm Fay's trajectory now locked in on southwest Florida. The storm's eye sitting just off the coast of Naples right now packing winds near 60 miles an hour. And the rain bands drenching Florida. Totals could be as high as 10 inches by the time the storm passes.

CHETRY: Well, Gerri Willis is "Minding Your Business" this morning in for Ali Velshi.

Hopefully today will be a better day on Wall Street. The Dow is down significantly.

GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Yes. Ugly day yesterday. If you're a stock investor, maybe you've got a 401(k) I feel your pain.

The Dow was down 180 points or 1.5 percent yesterday. Take a look at these number. The Nasdaq and the S&P down as well. And you know what, this is all about. More credit concerns.

We can't get past this about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two were at the center of the housing bailout bill passed by Congress last month. Remember this? The two home lending giants were offered an unlimited check from Uncle Sam to fix their financial problems.

Yesterday's worries that the two companies can't raise enough money to cover future losses from defaults and foreclosures that the government will have to take over these two companies. The result? Well, here's what Wall Street said.

Shares of Fannie Mae fell 22 percent. Freddie Mac down 25 percent. From the beginning of the year, these two companies are down more than 80 percent, their share prices. You may be wondering, why should I care?

Well, these two companies stand at the center of the mortgage industry. They own or guarantee $5 trillion and mortgage which is half of the mortgage debt outstanding. So big concerns there. Worries credit concerns.

CHETRY: All right. Gerri, thanks so much. We'll see you in a couple minutes.

WILLIS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: It's an Olympic event that a woman has not won in almost eight decades until now. Some gold medal surprises for the American team. We're live in Beijing with an Olympic update for you.

CHETRY: And following breaking news this morning, Tropical Storm Fay coming ashore, hitting Florida right now. We're tracking the storm on the ground.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: It's a bonus swimsuit issue. American Michael Phelps appears on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" draped in Beijing gold. Phelps set new records with eight gold medals in a single game and 14 for his Olympic career.

Meantime, the United States still has a slight lead in the overall medal standings with 74 to China's 68. Russia third with 37. China continues to dominate in the gold medals though with 39 compared to 24 for the United States. And controversy at the games this morning after two gymnasts, one American and one Chinese received the same score but different medals. CNN's Larry Smith is live in Beijing for us this morning. And, Larry, a lot of people confused by this new scoring system, this new tiebreak system.

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's very confusing, John. We're going to go that in just a moment. But first, there is some gold medals you can add to the U.S. total here just in the past 30 minutes by way of weightlifting.

Henry Cejudo taking gold in the 55 kilogram class. And so, USA trying to again catch China in the gold medal. By the way, that was in the wrestling category, say, not weight lifting but wrestling.

Meanwhile, here's that story and the rest of the most recent Olympic news.


SMITH (voice-over): Controversy for the U.S. gymnastics team. Nastia Liukin tied for first in the women's uneven bars competition but wound up with a silver medal despite having the exact same score as gold medalist He Kexin of China. The reason? An Olympic rule which has never come into play before. That bars ties from the games. He was found to have a lower average of deductions than Liukin and therefore took gold.

A bit of a comeback for the U.S. Olympic team in track and field. First, California Stephanie Brown Trafton scored big winning the first U.S. women's gold medal in discus in 76 years.

Then Angelo Taylor led the first U.S. sweep in men's 400 meter hurdles since the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Taylor became the first 400 meter hurdler since Edwin Moses to win gold medals eight years apart.

And American pole vaulter Jen Stuzynski snared a silver. In beach volleyball, defending U.S. Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor advanced to the gold medal championship game after a straight set victory over Brazil. The U.S. will play China in the gold medal match.

And the U.S. women's soccer team has set up a gold medal rematch with Brazil. The Americans came from behind with a 4-2 win over Japan. The U.S. won gold in Athens with the (INAUDIBLE) over Brazil in 2004.


SMITH: Very busy evening at the Bird's Nest as well, John. Shawn Crawford won gold in the 200 in Athens four years ago and he will go into 200 semifinals, and a bit later. In the 400 meter semifinals, Jeremy Wariner also trying to repeat his gold medal. He will be one of the favorites in those semifinals as well. Let's go back to you. ROBERTS: So, Larry, what's the talk there in Beijing about this tie-break formula? It was instituted by the IOC. It was programmed into the computer so anybody that watched the uneven bars last night saw that the Chinese gymnast automatically won.

But is there a sense there that, you know, two such great competitors so close, and exactly the same score, should have both medalled in the gold?

SMITH: Well, there has been some buzz and it goes back to, it seems, almost every Olympics we have a controversy when it comes to judges' scoring. You recall Salt Lake City with the figure skating. We've had this in gymnastics as well.

That was put in play to try to out some kind of exact number system when you have this kind of tie-break. Is it perfect? It's up to speculation. But in this case it doesn't fall in the way of Nastia Liukin. She takes silver instead.

ROBERTS: She sure was generous about it, anyways.

Larry Smith for us. Thanks very much, Larry. We'll see you again soon.

CHETRY: Still ahead, John McCain attacking Barack Obama for shifting positions on the Iraq war and defending his position on the new G.I. bill despite the cost. Hear what he has to say in his own words.

And also, it's the stuff of science fiction. Scientists claim they've come a step closer to developing materials that could make people or objects invisible. Is there something to it? We'll unveil the latest developments.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 21 minutes after the hour. We're following breaking news for you this morning. A long and uncertain night in south Florida.

Tropical Storm Fay has closed in on the mainland. The rain is coming down. Wind gusts near 60 miles an hour. Some good news though for folks in south Florida. The hurricane warnings and watches have been dropped. All we have now are tropical storm warnings and watches and tornado warnings and watches as well. But, you know, the forecasters are reminding folks that Fay's got a deadly track record blamed for more than a dozen deaths in the Caribbean, so it's still a serious storm.

CNN's on the ground there. We'll take you there live in just a few minutes' time -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, John McCain wants more offshore drilling and today he gets a picture perfect opportunity to deliver that message when he tours an oil platform in New Orleans. Speaking to a veterans group Monday, McCain blasted Barack Obama on the war and also defended his position on the G.I. bill. Here's John McCain in his own words.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I suppose from my opponent's vantage point veterans concerns are just one more issue to be spun or worked to advantage. This would explain why he also has taken liberties with my position on the G.I. bill.

In its initial version, the bill failed to address the number one education request that I've heard from career service members and their families, the freedom to transfer their benefits to a spouse or a child. The bill also did nothing to retain the young officer and enlisted leaders who form the backbone of our all-volunteer force.

As a political proposition, it would have been much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona and all of America expect more from their representatives than that. And instead, I sought a better bill. And I'm proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interest of our country.

With less than three months to go before the election, a lot of people are just still trying to square Senator Obama's varying positions on the surge in Iraq. First he opposed the surge and confidently predicted that it would fail. Then he tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge. Not content to merely predict failure in Iraq, my opponent tried to legislate failure. This was backed when supporting America's efforts in Iraq entailed serious political risk.

It was a clarifying moment. It was a moment when political self- interest and the national interest parted ways. For my part, with so much in the balance, my friends, it was an easy call. As I said at the time, I would rather lose an election than lose a war.


CHETRY: Well, later this hour, we're going to hear from Barack Obama on the economy. And, of course, CNN will have live gavel to gavel coverage of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, St. Paul. It kicks off September 1st.

ROBERTS: Third party candidate Bob Barr who was not invited to the faith forum at the Saddleback Church over the weekend, so we're going to give him a chance to answer some of the same questions that John McCain and Barack Obama were asked over the weekend.

CHETRY: Also breaking this morning, Tropical Storm Fay slamming southwest Georgia. Right now -- southwest Florida, rather. Right now the rain is steady. The winds unrelenting. We're live on the ground tracking Fay's every move.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." Bob Barr served eight years as a Republican congressman from Georgia. And now he's make a third-party run for the White House as the libertarian candidate.

He says that he should have been invited to speak with Barack Obama and John McCain at the presidential faith forum at the Saddleback Church this weekend. And Bob Barr joins me now.

Thanks for being with us this morning. Good to have you with us.


CHETRY: You did try, in fact, to get a court order to require the church to include you in that forum. That didn't work out. Why do you think you were not included and they didn't want you to be a part of it?

BARR: I think the primary reason is the lock that the two major parties have had on American politics for so many decades, and they simply don't want the competition from an outsider, so to speak, somebody that might make them feel uncomfortable by raising some issues, some new perspectives, some new choices for the American people. They like playing the game within the confines of their very closed system that they can control.

CHETRY: Yet you're pulling at about three percent nationally. Do you think that if you were up maybe at 15, they would be forced to include you in more of these debates?

BARR: Well, according to some Zogby polls we're polling at six percent nationally. There are two different kinds of debates. Of course, there are those such as the one that Rick Warren put together with his church last week. There are then the official so-called official debates sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. And those are at least somewhat more objective in that if a candidate polls at 15 percent or more, they're considered a "viable candidate." So that's our goal for the remainder of the campaign.

CHETRY: You're on about 34 state ballots so far, right? Hoping to get up to 48, 50?

BARR: We're on 38 right now. We're on track to get on at least 48, probably 49.

CHETRY: Let me ask you some of the questions, though. It will be interesting to get your answers to some of the questions that Rick Warren asked one of the candidates.

One of the things he asked was, what's the most significant position you held 10 years ago that you no longer hold today that you flipped on because you see it differently?

BARR: Well, it isn't so much flipping on, but a position that I hold today that I was not -- that I didn't hold 10 years ago was a great deal more faith in the government. Since 9/11, for example, the government has taken tremendous liberties with our liberty. Taking away our liberty in the name of fighting terrorism, using fear to take away people's rights and their privacy in this country. And that's caused me and a lot of Americans to lose a great deal of faith in the government which ought to be protecting our liberties, not taking them away.

CHETRY: You're specifically also talking about the Patriot Act which you did vote for, but now you say you would not.

BARR: Not so much the Patriot Act although that's the part of it. But for an even starker example, the government now claims the right to spy on American citizens in our own country through electronic surveillance simply because the president says it's important for the national security. That's something that is very troubling to me and a lot of Americans.

CHETRY: Also on taxes, everybody talks about taxing the rich but not the poor or the middle class. How would you define rich? We got very different answers from John McCain and Barack Obama.

BARR: I don't think there's any specific definition of rich in terms of a dollar amount. I know Senator McCain joked about it, and Senator Obama addressed it somewhat differently. The point is, and I think that Senator McCain was on to the right track here, it doesn't matter whether one is rich or poor. The government is taking too much of our money.

Government is too big. And that's really the more important point than whether a person himself or herself is rich or not so rich or poor. Regardless of that, the government is simply controlling too much of our lives and taking too much of our money to use for its purposes.

CHETRY: But there were two very different philosophies. Barack Obama was saying that there are people who have a lot and so they can afford to give to people who maybe don't have anything and need help. And John McCain seemed to fall more along the lines of what you're saying, which is that why should people have to give up more and more of their own income to the government.

BARR: It's very easy, of course, as Senator Obama did to take the sort of Robin Hood approach. But Robin Hood at the point of a legal gun, which is how the government operates, is not really exactly the fairy tale that we know of from Sherwood Forest and so forth.

The IRS is very, very different. In the real world the government has simply gotten too big. $3.1 trillion budget just this year alone. I mean, it's unimaginable just how big government has gotten and it's at our expense.

CHETRY: Bob Barr, great to have you with us. Libertarian presidential candidate. Good luck with everything. And thanks for being with us.

BARR: Thank you.


ROBERTS: 30 minutes past the hour now. Breaking news this morning. Tropical Storm Fay just shy of hurricane strength that's made landfall near Naples, Florida. Right now more than 1 million people are in the storm's line of fire. The rain is piling up and wind gusts near 60 miles an hour have been reported.

Hurricane warnings and watches have been dropped but tropical storm watches and warnings remain in effect. There's always the chance that the storm could spawn off dangerous tornadoes as well. We're going to take you live to the Florida Coast with more on that in just a minute.

Dramatic video of an 85-year-old woman being mugged in a Brooklyn elevator. The footage released yesterday shows the man choking her as she desperately flails her arms. Police say the suspect got away with $900. He even took the woman's cane. The woman is recovering in the hospital. Investigators believe the suspect is responsible for attacking at least 11 other elderly victims.

Detroit's embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick winning a small but much needed victory. A judge has ruled that the city council does not have the authority to oust the mayor who has so far refused to resign. Kilpatrick has been charged with ten felonies including perjury and assaulting a police officer in cases related to a sex scandal.

Back to our breaking news now. Tropical Storm Fay now battling southwest Florida. The eye of the storm came ashore a little more than an hour ago bringing with it sheets of rain and fuelling tornado warnings across South Florida. The National Guard has been activated. Our Sean Callebs is live in Punta Gorda, Florida for us this morning. But first, let's go to Reynolds Wolf in the CNN hurricane headquarters. He's got the latest on the track and the forecast as well.

What it's looking like, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, John, right now, we've got some heavy rainfall that's forming near places like Naples Park and back to east Naples. You can see the eye moving on shore. You've got those concentric bands, defeater (ph) bands spinning around the center.

Right now, what we're seeing not only some heavy rainfall, the potential for flooding but we have a tornado watch that is in effect for much of central and south Florida through 8:00 Local Time. Not uncommon when you have these kind of tropical systems when they come on shore to spawn tornadoes. But you've got to remember these tornadoes usually very weak. They don't last that long. But they do happen to be rain wraps. They're very hard to see. So they can pop up quickly, cause some damage and then dissipate. But still, you certainly need to be on guard.

Now, let's start with the intensity and the track. With winds currently at 60, gusting to 70. It's about 48 miles from Fort Myers, Florida. Now, as the storm is away from its main primary power source, which is that warm water, and it is going to begin to lose a lot of its intensity, and knows the track bringing it right towards places like Coco Beach and now, let's see, that Port Canaveral as we get to 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Winds dropping to 40 miles an hour. Still as a tropical storm, but a weak one of that. Then back out near Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine. By the time we get to early Thursday, winds at 45 miles an hour and then on shore back near Jacksonville and May Port right along parts of the I-10 corridor. Into Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the intensity dies out but the rain may really begin to snap off. In fact, we could see anywhere from say a foot to maybe two feet of rainfall into the weekend.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Reynolds, thanks very much. We'll check back with you in just a little while.

WOLF: You bet.

CHETRY: And just a little more than 60 miles north of where the storm came ashore is Punta Gorda, where a local state of emergency has been declared. And that's where CNN's Sean Callebs joins us this morning.

What's the scene like there, Sean?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think every year when a storm threatens an area there's that one region in the cone that may skirt the worse of the storm. And Punta Gorda could be that area this year. But four years ago, they learned just how punishing a hurricane can be and many of those affected the most are those without the ability or the means to flee the storm.


CALLEBS (voice-over): This is the attraction. For more than 35 years, Irene Faust (ph) has lived in mobile homes along Florida's coast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody likes water. I don't know of anyone that don't. And I love it here. It's really great.

CALLEBS: But with the water comes the wind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes. But, you know, how many years was it we didn't have a storm?

CALLEBS: For Irene Faust and Punta Gorda, exactly four. This is what Hurricane Charlie did to her old neighborhood. Now as Fay closes in, Irene is waiting for her daughter to fly in so the two can drive to South Carolina and safety. If her daughter doesn't make it, Irene says she'll hunker down in the park clubhouse.

Four years ago, Bill Barbmania (ph) fled ahead of Charlie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie took the whole carport down.

CALLEBS: But since then he's picked up two German Shepherds including Karma (ph) here. And despite pleas from relatives, he has no plans to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say, don't play around. If you got to go, go. I said, of course, where am I going? I said I can go to my mother's house, but then I got to leave the dogs here. And I really do not want to leave the dogs here.

CALLEBS: Slabs are a silent testimony to Charlie's fury where people simply haven't rebuilt. Fay's winds may not rival that storm. But Irene Faust has these words of warning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd say get out of a mobile home, because it's just like a cracker box.


CALLEBS: Well, windy, rainy here. And you may have heard it this morning, Kiran, but we'll say it again. Even though the worst of the storm missed this area, they're not out of the woods. Tornado warnings are still up in this area.

Back to you.

CHETRY: Sean Callebs for us. Thank you.

You know, Fay's path is similar to Hurricane Charlie's. Here's a closer look in an "A.M. Extra" now. Charlie hit South Florida back in 2004 after crossing over Cuba, and blew up into a category four before making landfall and made a direct hit on Punta Gorda as well as Port Charlotte. The storm cost an estimated $15 billion in damage and killed ten people in the United States.

36 minutes after the hour. Harry potter had one. So did the Romulans. The invisible cloak. A look at a scientific breakthrough that could make real objects disappear.

CHETRY: High in the sky.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These planes land right over the field.


CHETRY: Jeanne Moos looks at what's cropping up around the political convention. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: The ability to disappear. It's long been the stuff of magic and Hollywood special effects. But scientists say they are now one step closer to making science fiction science fact. Here's CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hollywood is quite good at making stuff disappear.


SIMON: From Harry Potter to James Bond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call it The Vanish.

SIMON: The effects keep getting more advanced.


JASON VALENTINE, GRADUATE RESEARCHER: You should really think anything is possible.

SIMON: But Jason Valentine isn't talking about the movies. He's a 26-year-old scientist at Berkeley working to make invisibility cloaks possible.

VALENTINE: I mean, it's cool. It makes it fun to come to work.

SIMON: He and his colleagues have engineered a microscopic material that can bend light. The stuff called "metamaterial" is no bigger than a speck of dust. This is what it looks like magnified about 50,000 times.

VALENTINE: So, to cloak something you have to bend light around it. It's like a stone sitting in a stream of water. And so to bend light around the object, you have to make it bend in a way that it doesn't exist in normal materials.

SIMON: The material, of course, would have to be a lot bigger and configured in a way where it could be a cloaking device, say a blanket like in "Harry Potter."

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: What is that? Some kind of cloak.

VALENTINE: You see the stuff in the movies and a lot of it you think, well, it's never really going to be possible.

SIMON: If you're not an engineer, what they say probably will make very little sense. But their breakthrough has the scientific community quite excited.

(on camera): Part of their funding comes from the U.S. military. Making people or things disappear could be quite useful in combat. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. You're not going to find invisibility cloaks at your local mall any time soon.

VALENTINE: We won't see anything certainly within 10 years. However, maybe in our lifetime something will be made that resembles maybe something in science fiction movies. SIMON (voice-over): If you're a nonbeliever, consider this. Fifty years ago, do you think anyone really conceived of things like iPhones or robots on Mars? "Harry Potter" special effects?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That's an invisibility cloak.

SIMON: Well, maybe one day they won't be so special.

Dan Simon, CNN, Berkeley, California.


ROBERTS: Stacking the deck.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a missing part of my life. And I need to find my daughter.


ROBERTS: Kelli Arena shows us how playing games in prison is helping to crack cold cases.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get some fresh ideas and fresh information.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. Barack Obama campaigns in Florida and North Carolina today. He addressed a town hall meeting in Albuquerque yesterday and that's where he attacked John McCain's plan to fix the economy. Here's Obama in his own words.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a fundamental difference in this election. What I've said is we're going to give 95 percent of working families a tax break. But it's going to be ordinary folks getting $1,000 per family to offset their payroll tax, getting several hundred dollars in additional homeowner interest relief.

So that, you know, we can start preventing some of these foreclosures, making sure that we're expanding the child tax credit. You know, dealing with the bread-and-butter issues that people are facing day-to-day, that's short term. Long term, we've got to create jobs.

John McCain, you know, he's been talking about how he puts country first. But I have to say that it's not an example of putting country first when you say that George Bush's economic policies have shown great progress. He said that just a few months ago. He said, you know, we made great economic progress under George Bush.

Then he started running ads, saying, oh, Obama's just going to raise your taxes and he'll lead to an economic disaster. Mr. McCain, let me explain to you, the economic disaster is happening right now. Maybe you haven't noticed. He's got his major economic advisers calling you whiners.

He said, oh, the American people are whining. This is what one of McCain's top advisers said. "A nation of whiners," he said. "They have a mental depression. They're just imaging that things are bad."

This guy obviously does not pump his own gas. He obviously doesn't do his own shopping. He's obviously not paying his own bills.

The economic disaster is here right now. And the question we have, the choice we have in this election, is are we going to keep on doing the same things as John McCain is promoting, or are we going to bring about a fundamental change in this country?


CHETRY: And we're going to hear more from both candidates in their own words throughout the morning. Also a programming reminder for you, live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver begins next Monday right here on the "Most News in the Morning."

ROBERTS: It's 13 minutes to the top of the hour. We could know Barack Obama's running mate by tomorrow. Should Hillary Clinton still be in the running? We'll ask Lesley Stall and Liz Smith.

CHETRY: Crop art. Jeanne Moos looks at what advertisers are cooking up ahead of the political convention.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 22-foot wide pepperonis.


CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: The Democrats arriving in Denver for their party's convention may get a sudden craving for a pizza before touching down on the "mile-high city."

CHETRY: That's right, because crops circle on the shape of a pepperoni pizza has appeared in a nearby wheat field. And as Jeanne Moos tells us, there's nothing alien about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know how everyone is always trying to decipher those allegedly real crop circles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is the inexplicable.

MOOS: And here's the inedible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 22-foot wide pepperonis.

MOOS: A pizza the size of six football fields designed to make the mouths of Democratic delegates water as they touch down at Denver's airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These planes land right over the field.

MOOS: That's Kansas crop artist Stan Heard. You may have heard of his Indian portrait or his sunflower or his absolute vodka bottle. And now he's done this Papa John's pizza crop ad.

(on camera): By the way, Papa John's pizza, no relation to that other john, the one who's not the guest of honor at the Democratic convention.

(voice-over): You can't just toss some dough to make this pizza. It took a team of a dozen or so a month and a half to create this out of a wheat field. The pepperonis consist of red mulch, lots of fiber for health conscious Democrats. The one blogger complaining about advertising sprawl call this the mutant cousin of billboards.

We've seen crop art featuring Larry King.

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: I always wanted to be a crop circle.

MOOS: We've seen Elvis. We've seen Einstein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try to find Einstein's hair.

MOOS: We've seen Homer Simpson. Sorry, but you can't see the really giant part of a figure sometimes called the Rude Giant made out of trenches dug at least 400 years ago in England. And now we see a giant pizza. And just like when you order a regular pizza, you never seem to get all the toppings you ask for.

VOICE OF STAN HERU, PIZZA CROP CIRCLE ARTIST: They wanted anchovies on there. And I just couldn't figure out the anchovy angles. I thought (INAUDIBLE).

MOOS: Maybe it would have been more fitting to have this piece greeting the Democratic delegates. Stan is a big Obama supporter and used rocky materials to make this in Dallas back at the time of the Texas primary. Did you include the mole?

HERU: Include the what?

MOOS: The mole. He's got a mole.

HERU: No, you know, I --

MOOS: There it is, next to his nose. But on the rock art, you see a couple of white Labradors, but no mole. As for the missing slice of pizza, that's crushed limestone. Who ate that slice?

HERU: The jolly green giant.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: Breaking news. Fay's worst wind and rain hitting Florida right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't underestimate the danger.


CHETRY: The warnings from residents who've been there before.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say get out of mobile homes, because it's just like a cracker box.


CHETRY: And a kite border who didn't heed the warning suffers a terrible crash. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Senator John McCain used the Georgia crisis to repeat his point that oil is a national security issue. He also questioned Senator Barack Obama's experience when it comes to a conflict that carries echoes of the cold war. Here's what Senator McCain said in his own words.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president. What's less apparent is the judgment to be commander in chief. And in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president -- as we were all reminded ten days ago by events in the nation of Georgia.

It's been a while since most Americans including most of our leaders and diplomats have viewed Russia as a threat to the peace. But the Russian government's assault on a small democratic neighbor shows why this needs revising. As I have long warned, Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin is becoming more aggressive toward the now democratic nations that broke free of the old Soviet empire.

Russia, as we know, also holds vast energy wealth. And this heavy influence in the oil and gas market has become a political weapon that Russia is clearly prepared to use. Georgia stands at a strategic crossroads in the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. And if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, global energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence with serious consequences on the world energy market.


CHETRY: Well, AMERICAN MORNING is your convention headquarters. First it's the Democrats starting next week in Denver. The Best Political Team on TV brings you everything as Barack Obama makes history at the Democratic National Convention.

ROBERTS: And turning now to the Olympics, some controversy this morning about how the scoring turned out in the women's uneven bars. CNN's Larry Smith is live. He's covering the games for us in Beijing this morning.

And Larry, we learned very quickly about a rather obscure tie breaker rule that the IOC implemented some years ago. To the best of my knowledge, hadn't been implemented until now?

SMITH: Yes. This is something that hadn't come into play just yet. But you know, really today, as we look throughout the entire games, it's been a fairly quiet Tuesday. One gold though just recently in the past hour for the U.S. Henry Cejudo getting gold in wrestling. And so, the U.S. trying to catch up with China in that gold medal count. As to that controversy, here are some other things that's been going on here at the Olympics in Beijing.


SMITH: Controversy for the U.S. gymnastics team. Nastia Liukin tied for first in the women's uneven bars competition but wound up with a silver medal despite having the exact same score as gold medalist He Kexin of China. The reason, an Olympic rule which has never come in to play before. That bars ties from the games. He was found to have a lower average of deductions than Liukin. And therefore, took gold.

A bit of a comeback for the U.S. Olympic team in track and field. First, Californian Stephanie Brown Trafton scored big winning first U.S. women's gold medal in Discus in 76 years. Then Angelo Taylor led the first U.S. swift in men's 400-meter hurdles since the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Taylor became the first 400-meter hurdler since Edwin Moses to win gold medals eight years apart. And American pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski snared a silver.

In beach volleyball, defending U.S. Olympics champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor advance to the gold medal championship game after a straight sets victory over Brazil. The U.S. will play China in the gold medal match.

And the U.S. women's soccer team has set up a gold medal rematch with Brazil. The Americans came from behind with a 4-2 win over Japan. The U.S. won gold and Athens with a win over Brazil in 2004.


SMITH: Well, the action is about to get under way again in gymnastics and in track and field. And in fact, that is where Sanya Richards will try to go for gold in the women's 400-meter final.

Let's go back to you, John.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to that. Larry Smith in Beijing for us this morning. Larry, thanks so much.

By the way, Olympic superstar Michael Phelps joins us live on later on this morning. You can be part of the interview, go to, submit your own question on video for him and he's going to answer some of them at 8:30 Eastern, only on Michael Phelps on

CHETRY: We look forward to it.