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Oil Scaring Away Tourists; White House Fourth of July Celebration; Steele Criticized by Own Party; Rep. Ron Paul Discusses Overwhelming Call for Steele Resignation

Aired July 4, 2010 - 19:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon in New York. We want to wish and you your family a happy Fourth of July.

And as you see, you see the live picture of the White House there. We're standing by to hear from President Barack Obama live at the White House at any moment. And we'll get to that soon.

But first, it could be a lot happier on the Gulf Coast, which is usually packed right now. This year the oil disaster is really keeping many visitors and their money away from the Gulf.

So right away, let's go down to our John Zarrella, he is down in Gulf Shores, Alabama right now.

Hey, John, it looks like there is no trouble getting a prime spot on the beach, on the sand this year. But that's not good news.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that really isn't good news. You can see all around me here, this beach is totally empty. And you know Don, we talked to life guards earlier today who say that usually on the Fourth of July they have these little golf carts they drive around, that they can't even move those golf carts on the beach. Well, clearly today you could have had golf cart races here on the beach; there are so few people.

And you know, here in Gulf Shores they had closed the water. They didn't want people to go swimming. But all throughout the day we shot pictures down at the beach, down at the water; people in there, people swimming. And the life guards told us that what they were doing was allowing them --

(CROSS TALKING)

LEMON: John, sorry. I wouldn't interrupt you unless it was important, we'll try to get back to you. We've to get to the president. Ok, John stand by, sir. As he said, go ahead.

There is the president and the First Lady you see there in Washington, D.C. Let's listen in.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On behalf of Michelle and myself and the girls and Bo, welcome to the White House and happy Fourth of July.

You know, all across our great country today folks are coming together, decked out in the red and white and blue, firing up the grill and having a good time with family, just like here today.

Now, of course, I'll admit that the backyard is a little bigger here, but it's the same spirit. And Michelle and I couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate America's birthday than with America's extraordinary men and women in uniform and your families.

Now, we decided to let you leave your uniforms at home for today. Although I have to say I met a young corporal here who was wearing a black suit. And I said, "Man, its hot here." And he said, "I'm sorry, sir, I know you're my commander-in-chief, but my grandma told me I have to wear a suit." I can't -- he can't argue with grandma.

But we do want all of you to relax and have some fun today. And that also goes for the leaders who are joining us today, including Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bill Lynn; and the vice chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General James Cartwright, Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus; Air Force Secretary, Mike Donley; Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, and the many outstanding senior enlisted officers who are here today.

I want to acknowledge that my Vice President, Joe Biden and his wonderful wife Dr. Jill Biden, aren't with us because they are spending the Fourth of July with our troops in Iraq. And I would add that because of the honor and heroism of our troops, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer, on schedule. That's thanks to so many of you.

Now, this is the day when we celebrate the very essence of America and the spirit -- they're coming -- this is the day when we celebrate the very essence of America. And the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries.

Though, even now all these years later we still look in awe of the small band of patriots who stood up and risked everything and defied an empire to declare that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states.

We're amazed at the debt to a founding generation that gave their blood, to give meaning to those words, pledging to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. And we celebrate the principles that are timeless, tenets first declared by men of property and wealth but which gave rise to what Lincoln called a new birth of freedom in America, civil rights and voting rights, workers' rights and women's rights and the rights of every American.

And on this day that is uniquely American, we're reminded that our declaration, our example made us a beacon to the world, not only inspiring people to demand their own freedom from Latin America to Africa, from Europe to Asia, but even now in this time these ideals still light the world. Two hundred thirty-four years later, the words are just as bold, just as revolutionary as they were when they were first pronounced. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These are not simply words on aging parchment. They are the principles that define us as a nation. The values that we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society, even as we know that we constantly have to work in order to perfect our union and that work is never truly done.

The founders understood this. They are in that hall in Philadelphia as they debated the declaration. John Adams wrote to his beloved Abigail, he predicted that independence would be celebrated from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever. But he added, "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this declaration and support and defend these states."

So, today we also celebrate all of you, the men and women of our Armed Forces who defend this country we love.

We salute the United States Army. Including a soldier who served on more than 150 combat missions in Afghanistan and after losing most of his arm in an IED attack recently completed a grueling 26-mile run, inspiring all who know him and all of us, that's Staff Sergeant Gabriel Garcia (ph) -- Gabriel.

We salute the United States Navy. And a sailor who excels in a job few can imagine but for which all are grateful, a commander of an explosive ordinance disposal team in Iraq, his nerve and steady hand has diffused countless bombs and saved countless lives. That's Lieutenant Eric Frandork (ph). Where is Eric?

We salute the United States Air Force. And an airman who during an attack on her vehicle in Iraq that left her seriously wounded, directed medics to help another wounded American first and offered her own bandages to help save his life. That's Captain Wendy Kosic (ph).

We salute the United States Marine Corps. And a marine who for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, exposing himself to enemy machine gunfire to help rescue his fellow Marines was recognized with the Bronze Star for Valor, Staff Sergeant Jonathan Peal (ph).

And we salute the United States Coast Guard including a Coast Guardsman who commanded the first U.S. vessel to arrive in Haiti after the earthquake, helping to pave the way for one of the most complex humanitarian efforts ever attempted, Commander Diane Durham (ph).

This is the spirit of which Adams spoke so long ago. You are the men and women who toil to defend these states. You are patriots. And you have earned your place among the greatest of generations.

Yet on this day we know that America's journey is not sustained by those in uniform alone. It must be the calling and cause of every American. So let us ensure that our troops always have the support that they need to succeed in the missions we ask of them. And that includes public support here at home. Let us forge a national commitment to support our extraordinary military families, not just now, during war, but at every stage of your lives and thank -- thanks to Michelle and Joe Biden for challenging us to do that.

Let us resolve as citizens to carry on the improbable experiment that began more than 200 years ago. Not simply declaring our principles but living them here at home. Not simply celebrating our union, but always working to perfect it.

And here in a still young century let us renew our commitment to stand with those around the world who, like us, still believe in that simple yet revolutionary notion, that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.

So happy Fourth of July, everybody and God bless all of you and all our men and women in uniforms and your families. And God bless the United States of America.

And with that, let me turn it on -- let me turn it over to our outstanding United States Marine Band.

LEMON: "Over There", I love that song. Anyway, is my mike open? Yes, it is open. I'm sorry, I can't tell, because there's no light here.

But anyway, you saw the President and the First Lady and of course he said, you know God bless and men and women in uniform who are fighting overseas. And I will second that, especially on a day like today, fighting to our freedom and have fought for many years. That's how the country was founded, wanting freedom.

And so the President and the First Lady and including military families there in Washington, D.C., to celebrate our independence.

Let me tell you just real quickly what's -- what's going on there. About 1,200 people in total are going to watch from the White House, the military troops from all five branches and their families, that includes families of the fallen and families of the deployed as well.

Entertainer, I can't really make out who's on the balcony there but I'll tell you some of the muckety mucks (ph) besides our men and women in uniform, those are the highest ranking muckety mucks.

But Cedric, the entertainer; "The Killers"; Brandi Carlisle and the U.S. Marine Band of course. What's on the menu? Hotdogs, of course, hamburgers, grilled chicken, frozen watermelon, popsicles, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad, salad, ice cream sandwiches, all very appropriate for a day like today; lots of people are doing that.

As a matter of fact, I had my hamburger today. And I did not -- I didn't have -- I didn't have to go to a picnic because I'm working. I just went to a restaurant and had a burger on behalf of my independence and freedom and that's how we do it here.

Hey, listen. I have some breaking news to tell you about. We're going to keep an eye on that. And I'm being told that this breaking news is coming from JFK Airport. I'm being told that a terminal there -- am I correct -- being evacuated. Terminal one -- due to a bomb scare. We are going to keep an eye on that.

Again, what is it? Say it one more time. Ok. This is what UABC is reporting that terminal one at JFK Airport has been evacuated because of a bomb scare.

Listen we have crews on the way to the scene. We're going to be checking with producers and reporters to see exactly what's going on at JFK airport. We want to give you that bit of breaking news again, on this Fourth of July we're celebrating.

We're keeping an eye on every major city here across the country with those fireworks that will be going off and also the breaking news at JFK airport.

Lots of news including Ron Paul who's going to join me in just a little bit. Don't go away. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news here to report on CNN. I'm don Lemon here in New York City.

Perhaps it's good that I'm here because this is what our affiliate WABC has been reporting. That terminal one at JFK airport evacuated just a short time ago due to a bomb scare -- due to a bomb scare. Passengers and workers at the airport confirm the terminal was evacuated. Hazmat trucks are also on the scene.

We have a crew and reporters on the way to the scene. As soon as we get more information on this breaking news story we're going to bring it to you. So make sure you keep it right here on CNN. We will have the very latest for you.

In the meantime, Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele is trying to climb out of the hole he has dug for himself this weekend. He is catching heat from his own party for some comments he made about the war in Afghanistan during a fund-raiser on Thursday. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Keep in mind, for our federal candidates, this is a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, today some influential Republicans joined the criticism over those comments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think those statements are wildly inaccurate. And there's no excuse for them. Chairman Steele sent me an e-mail saying that he was -- his remarks were misconstrued.

I'm a Ronald Reagan Republican. I believe we have to win here. I believe in freedom. The fact is that I think that Mr. Steele is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Chairman Steele needs to apologize to our military, all the men and women who have been fighting in Afghanistan.

This is America's war. It's not Obama's war. He needs to refocus on electing candidates who can stop this rampage of spending in debt in Washington. Whether or not he resigns is up to other people than me. But I need to see him focused on this November election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, other conservatives have called on Steele to step down, like Liz Cheney and "Weekly Standard" editor bill Kristol, but you won't hear Texas Congressman Ron Paul joining that drum beat. He's coming out in support of Steele's comment and he is joining us live via Skype.

Happy Fourth of July to you, Congressman. And before we misconstrue everything, you are coming out in support of the comment, right?

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Not in the entirety. I come out in support of Chairman Steele because I think it was overkill. He made a casual comment. He wasn't setting policy and all of a sudden people jump on him like we're not allowed to have a discussion?

As a matter of fact I did like what he said so I enjoyed the fact that we're willing to have a discussion about the popularity of this war. And truly it is Obama's war, even though it was started during the last administration. Obama said this is the good war. He's expanding the war. The American people aren't with him.

The majority of the American people are tired of the ward and they'd like to see it ended; they'd like to see our troops come home.

I mean this idea that as soon as somebody has a discussion, even if it's not in the discussion, people are clamoring for him to resign? I don't think that's quite fair. LEMON: Congressman, you have to let me get in on this because it seems like, you know -- I understand what you're saying -- you want people to talk about the war. But it seems like he wasn't factually correct. Very little of what he said, if anything, was correct factually in those comment. And he came back himself --

PAUL: What I'm saying --

LEMON: Hang on one second. He came back himself and clarified them. Why are you supporting him for a comment that he had to clarify?

(CROSS TALKING)

PAUL: Well, he -- I didn't hear his clarification. But if he clarified his statement because -- he wasn't making a policy statement. If he came back and said, I'm not stating policy, that is not exactly my position --

STEELE: But he wasn't telling the truth.

PAUL: Pardon me?

STEELE: He wasn't telling the truth.

PAUL: Well, I think you're not telling the truth right now yourself.

LEMON: He said that this war -- he said that this war was started by -- or basically saying the war was started by the Obama administration. No one even wanted --

PAUL: No, he did not say that.

LEMON: That no one wanted to go -- let me finish -- no one wanted to go into this war. In fact, when we went into the war, most of the country supported it and it was started, again, under President Bush. So most of what he said if not all of it was not factually correct.

PAUL: That's right. But he's saying politically this is Obama's war. Even in the last campaign -- as a matter of fact, I thought Obama was more hawkish on this war than McCain was because he was calling for increasing troops in Afghanistan before the Republicans were.

So I think in many ways, at least politically, this is Obama's war. And it is a political issue. The Republicans really suffered from the fact that the Iraq war continued for so long and hurt us at the polls.

So, I think that Republicans ought to have a right to at least say that maybe this war isn't going well and not blindly support every single thing that is being done. And then all of a sudden, if an individual does -- you know, people accuse you, oh, you're un- American, you're unpatriotic. You know, they pile on and then they pressure somebody like Steele -- like Chairman Steele that he has to back off.

He didn't have a policy statement. He was merely making a casual statement. And when he said, for over 1,000 years and even longer, nobody's been successful in invading Afghanistan, he is telling the truth.

LEMON: Well, hang on.

PAUL: That is not a lie.

LEMON: You have to let me get in there because I want to go through more subjects. Let me jump in every so often, ok Congressman.

You have questioned Republicans who want Steele to resign over this. In fact, this is what you said, and I have to ask -- you said, "I have to ask myself, what is the agenda of the harsh critics demanding this resignation? Why did they support Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's war?"

What did you mean by that statement?

PAUL: Well, it is. They're the ones who's running foreign policy. Republicans don't have anything to do with foreign policy. They're the ones who demanded to increase in troops. They are the ones who are pursuing this.

It's not going very well. As a matter of fact, it's going very poorly. We've been there nine years. The evidence is not very good that we're going to have a military victory. As a matter of fact, the military and the politicians don't even seek a goal of military victory. They're hoping they can get a political victory.

So that is the goal. So what are we doing? I mean, why are we there? The al Qaeda's not there. There's a -- there's probably 100 or so, according to our CIA, just reported last week, that they're probably in Pakistan. If we chase them into Pakistan, they're going to go to Yemen.

(CROSS TALKING)

PAUL: It's a fruitless venture and deserves a discussion. And if the chairman of the party actually relates that he has a little bit doubt about this, I think it's very healthy and he shouldn't be called to resign. I mean, that is --

LEMON: The chairman of the party and you seem at odds with what most people in the party, especially high-ranking Republicans feel about this war and about these comments. Do you -- what do you make of that? Are you feeling the pressure from that?

PAUL: No. I think they may be feeling the pressure of the American people who agreed with me. Of course, I'm a stickler for the Constitution and limited government and the way we go to war. And that I think the American people, by large numbers, are now with me on this.

So, I just don't think that people should be closed out in the debate --

LEMON: Hey listen. I want to ask you this.

(CROSS TALKING)

PAUL: It certainly wasn't necessary for Michael Steele to resign over this. He's clarified his statement. That's fine and dandy.

LEMON: We have to go to a break in a little bit, Congressman. I want to ask you, if you were not feeling -- if conservatives weren't feeling so positive about what might happen in November, do you think would even you be calling for Michael Steele to resign? Do you think the drum beat would be even louder?

PAUL: I have no idea. I can't interpret it for them. All I know is for them calling for him to resign means that they don't think about November. That was one of my points in my statement.

Why do this now? Why call for resignation when the Republicans are doing well? And it looks like they're going to have victory. Why do they want to divide us now and say, let's have a big fight over Michael Steele?

That's not good for the party. We're doing well. We're winning elections. The momentum is our side and there's nothing wrong with a debate on this issue because the American people will welcome it.

People generally vote for the peace candidate. They voted for Obama because he came across more for peace in the last election. And George Bush in the year 2000, he was the peace candidate. He says no nation-building, no policing the world. He won the election.

I would say it's a very popular position; it's a traditional Republican position. And to say that a person, just because he hints that he might be sympathetic to this that he has to resign that is not right.

LEMON: And this will continue no doubt until up in November. The Republicans will use one way to say it's ok. The Democrats will use it against him. We shall see.

But most of all, I want to thank you for coming on today and taking time out on a Fourth of July.

PAUL: You're welcome.

LEMON: It's an important day -- holiday for our country. Thank you.

I want to tell you that our Mark Preston is standing by weigh in on the Steele situation, what Ron Paul just said and we'll go to him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Listen, we're following breaking news at JFK. We'll have a report from Susan Candiotti in just a moment. But we want to continue on the conversation we're having about Michael Steele. We spoke to Ron Paul just a moment ago. Our senior political editor, Mr. Mark Preston.

So you heard Ron Paul, what do you make of what the congressman had to say?

MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, this is something we've heard, Don, from Ron Paul for many years now. He really has this idea and this theory that the U.S. should not be policing beyond our borders, that we should not be overseas. We have seen him say that certainly in the last couple of years, Don, when he was running for president. So, I'm not too surprised that Ron Paul came out in support of Michael Steele's original comments regarding Afghanistan.

LEMON: So who is he speaking for here, though?

PRESTON: You know, Ron Paul has an eclectic group of followers, you know, a pretty a fervent group of followers. One that really helped fuel his candidacy back in 2008, young people, Don, young people who don't want to go to war. He has a very strong following.

In fact, when you talk to Ron Paul about his followers and about the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, he'll say the young people don't want to be there. By and large, he's probably right about that.

LEMON: Yes, the interesting thing, though, is that, you know, when he says it's Obama's war and Michael Steele even came back and corrected himself - or clarified, I should say, clarified, saying it was Obama's strategy, but most Republicans, you know, feel that Afghanistan is an important war, to support the troops and what have you. So our most conservatives, I should say, not Republicans, most conservatives.

So it's very interesting to hear what he had to say and how Ron Paul characterized this for himself. Let's talk about Michael Steele now, the subject of this matter.

How much trouble is he in? Because as you heard Ron Paul say, you know, the Republicans need him right now, especially considering what's going on in November, the party needs him, how much trouble is he in?

PRESTON: look, he's in trouble because it's embarrassing. He has caused a level of frustration within the Republican Party, among conservatives, by some of the things he said over the past 18 months or so of his tenure. Certainly this Afghanistan quip doesn't help at all. But the fact of the matter is, Don, it would be very hard for Republicans to remove him from his position, certainly four months before -

LEMON: Very hard but is it impossible though, Mark? Is it impossible? Or is it likely? That's probably a better way of putting it. PRESTON: Let me say this, nothing is impossible. I didn't think that Trent Lott would be removed from his top job as a Republican several years ago for the comments he made about Strom Thurman. But look, right now, Don, it would be very, very hard for him to get knocked out. The question is, will this neutralize and will we not hear very much from Michael Steele, Don, in the coming months? Will he just keep his head low? A lot of Republicans hope that he does.

LEMON: Mark Preston, appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

PRESTON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: All right. I want to get back on our breaking news now. Because we're getting more information at the CNN NEWSROOM about the evacuations at JFK. We're going to have a little bit more for you right after the break. Susan Candiotti is here with the details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have been telling you about breaking news at JFK Airport. One of the terminals shut down. Joining us now, Susan Candiotti. She has been investigating this. What is going on at JFK, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, it appears it will soon be all over with an all-clear sign. That's the good news. But here's how it all went down. This is according to Port Authority spokesman there at JFK. He said at about 5:40 or so tonight that an anonymous woman called in a bomb threat to the terminal.

Just before that, one of the Port Authority officers noticed an unattended piece of baggage sitting there in the very same terminal, terminal one. They said in an abundance of caution, they thought they would evacuate the terminal. The phone call, they don't think is anything. The bag was cleared. And so they figured that they probably have the whole thing over with probably in another 50 minutes or so.

LEMON: And we're getting tweets and people saying, we're OK, we're on the tarmac but it's been shut down. Look, this is an iReport, Susan, I want you to look at. This is from outside of JFK Airport terminal one, as Susan said, shut down about 5:40, you said -

CANDIOTTI: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: - for a bomb scare. And probably because, you know, the two things together -

CANDIOTTI: You just can't take any chances. And they thought, OK, the caller, frankly, it's not the first time they got a call like this. They happen. But that combined with a bag was enough to say, let's not take any chances here. Let's get everyone out of here while we check things out. They immediately checked out the bag, that was easy enough to do. It was cleared.

You know, frankly, I even talked to the New York bomb squad but unless they have something to actually look at there's no need for them to go out there and the people who were on sight were able to check out the piece of bag.

LEMON: That's good on this fourth of July.

CANDIOTTI: It is.

LEMON: We don't need that on any day, especially this day because we're supposed to be celebrating independence and freedom and that certainly curtails that when we have things like that happening.

CANDIOTTI: Well, it just goes to show you that there are always people on the job who are trying to make sure that we're safe.

LEMON: Thank you. National correspondent Susan Candiotti. Appreciate it.

All right. So do you remember this guy? Take a look at him. He is the convicted Lockerbie bomber released from prison last year because doctors said he was dying of cancer and only has months to live. Well, guess what, he's still alive and now has a new prognosis.

And today is one of the biggest days for nationalization. Next, we'll talk to three people about the process of earning their citizenship.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We want to check our top stories right now.

The cancer specialist whose expert opinion led to the release of the Lockerbie bomber is now changing his tune. The doctor tells "London Sunday Times," Bolivian killer could live another 10 years. The release last August caused international outrage. Britain said it was based on humanitarian grounds that the bomber only had three months to live. But he's still alive and living in Libya. The 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 killed all 203 people on-board.

The DEA calls it a serious development in the drug smuggling war. Agents found this camouflage submarine in the jungle along the border of Ecuador and Columbia before its maiden voyage. Take a look at that. It is 100 feet long, it's diesel powered and it's even air conditioned. The DEA says it could smuggle tons of cocaine. A sophisticated sub like this could have evaded Ecuadorian and U.S. patrol boats eventually delivering its cargo to the U.S..

Folks who live along the gulf coast are going without a lot this summer. And now add fourth of July fireworks to that list. Dauphin Island, Alabama and Grand Isle, Louisiana, canceled their shows due to a lack of money and the oil disaster, of course. The owner of one gulf marina said he canceled his show because of concerns that sparks from fireworks set off over the water could ignite the oil. Other coastal towns moved their shows inland because of that same concern. Thousands of very small critters are overtaking the Big Apple and even some other places. You want to watch this, especially if you stay in hotel rooms or even at home. Because that may be the biggest problem. Two New York clothing stores in popular trendy areas had to shut down this week because of bed bug infestation.

Hollister, which is owned by Abercrombie & Fitch in the Soho neighborhood closed its doors on Friday and then the bed bugs got to the Abercrombie & Fitch store at the South Street Seaport. And while these are businesses, experts say the real problem are in people's homes.

Stoy Hedges is a pest control expert. He works for Terminex. You shouldn't be smiling. This is a serious problem, Mr. Hedges. Thanks for joining us.

STOY HEDGES, PEST CONTROL EXPERT: Certainly is.

LEMON: I know. I know. But it is a big problem. But just how big of a problem are bed bugs right now?

HEDGES: 15 years ago it was really no problem in the United States. Now it's been increasing ever since then. You know, we literally get dozens of calls in our branches every week or month where we used to get none. Across the country, it totals up to, you know, several thousand a year now. It's a serious issue.

LEMON: Yes, we know it's very serious and we've been talking about New York City. But for a couple of years now they've been on the rise across the country, especially hotel rooms. I know hotels that were shut down and have gotten notices saying that if you stay here, you may want to get yourself - and these are nice hotels across the country. So, it's not just here in New York City, this is across the United States.

HEDGES: Bed bugs aren't discriminatory, I guess. You know, they'll feed on anybody. So, any hotel or, you know, is subject to somebody bringing or carrying bed bugs into it.

LEMON: They can't kill you, can they? They're just a nuisance.

HEDGES: They cause a lot of itching, a lot of welts. Unfortunately to date we know of no disease that bed bugs are associated with.

LEMON: OK. What about some tips - you have some tips for people who are at home if they want to try to get rid of bed bugs or at least suppress them.

HEDGES: Well, if you have bed bugs in your home or your apartment, you probably need a professional company like Terminex that's experienced in spraying for bed bugs. But if you travel or you are traveling, even for just a short trip once a year, and you stay at a hotel, you do want to check your room.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: You want to go through this real quickly. Check your headboards and mattresses, hang your clothes, leaving nothing on bed or furniture. Don't use the hotel furniture drawers (INAUDIBLE) which I always do because I'm always in this extended stay so I need to stop that. Don't use the hotel furniture drawers and the same thing for the home, never pick up used furniture or mattresses left on curbs and inspect vintage furniture or antiques, wash in hot water secondhand clothing. So those are tips and that's big problem as you said going on around the country.

We think it happens in hotel rooms or what have you but really a problem at home. I've had two friends who had bed bugs and both are physicians, and very clean people. It just happens. So, you have to be careful. Thank you, sir.

HEDGES: You're very welcome. Thank you.

LEMON: If you want to become a U.S. citizen, you must first pass a citizenship test. What would happen if Americans tried to answer some of those same questions? Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 300 something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 50.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, four?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man. I don't know. 55?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Next we will be talking to three people who recently earned their citizenship that had to answer those questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, on this day when we all recognize how much we love our country, we're going to spotlight those who earn the right to be here, our naturalized citizens.

Today at George Washington's Mt. Vernon estate, 101 new Americans were born, so to speak. That is immigrants from 45 countries were sworn in after competing - completing the naturalization process.

Two of them join us right now. A new citizen who had his ceremony just this week at the Carter Center in Atlanta, also with us. That is Ross Tulloch who is British. He's American now. Now he's a British-American. And from the Mt. Vernon ceremony, we have Emmanuelle Marie Abboud and a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marines, who he doesn't want us to use his name because of safety concerns about his family. So we want each of their unique stories. We want to hear them. So Lance corporal, first of all, congratulations to all of you. Very nice. And I want to start with the Lance Corporal. Tell us where you're from and why did you come to the United States? Lance corporal, can you hear me?

LANCE CORPORAL, NEW AMERICAN CITIZEN: I can now hear you.

LEMON: You can hear me now. Where are you from and why did you come to the United States?

LANCE CORPORAL: I'm originally from (INAUDIBLE), Columbia. And the reason why I came to the United States was looking for a better place to live and freedom.

LEMON: OK. How are you feeling at this moment? You know, just this morning you were not a U.S. citizen. And now look at you.

LANCE CORPORAL: I feel really proud. I feel like I belong more to this great nation, the United States. And I wear the uniform with pride more. And I'm glad to serve this country as a marine.

LEMON: Very nice to hear that on the fourth of July. Emanuel, you're from - we already said, you're British, right? What did you have to do to become a citizen here? Tell us about the naturalization process. I'm sorry. That was Ross who's British. Where are you from? And tell us about this process.

EMMANUELLE MARIE ABBOUD, NEW AMERICAN CITIZEN: Actually, I'm originally from France. And I've always wanted to come here ever since I was six years old, I wanted to come here. And I came in first time in '94. Then I became - I got the green card in 2003. Today, July 4th, 2010, I became a U.S. citizen. And I'm very happy and very proud.

LEMON: You look like you're overwhelmed by it. I mean, when they swore you in, tell us the reaction.

ABBOUD: Well, a lot of emotion. I was wearing my sunglasses, so you couldn't see the tears going down. But I was very emotional. Especially listening to the national anthem and being sworn in. It was really emotional. It was just - it was just an amazing day today.

LEMON: Yes. As someone who was born here as a citizen, doesn't really have to go through that, you don't feel that feeling of becoming a, you know, a citizen and going through that ceremony.

So Ross, you know, now, you're a bit different. Because you're still - you're still a British citizen. Or citizen of the UK. So what was this process like for you? Did you find it easy? Did you find it hard? Were you emotional? What?

ROSS TULLOCH, NEW AMERICAN CITIZEN: I don't think it was neither easy or difficult. I think it was time consuming as well as fairly expensive. I've been in this country, originally came over on a work visa. Then I got a green card and then finally citizenship. So it took about nine or 10 years or so. But it was more complex, the whole process of going through it than easy or hard.

LEMON: I got this especially for you, Ross, from one of our producers here. I'm going to call her up. Valerie said, I think this would be a great question for you, Don, to ask Ross. She said if the U.S. and England play in another World Cup match, who are you going to cheer for?

TULLOCH: Well, if the England team continue performing the way they did in this World Cup, then I'd vote for any other team. But hopefully the next time the England team is a bit stronger. Well, I'll pass on the answer to that.

LEMON: Oh, wait a minute now. You just became a U.S. citizen and you're still going to vote for the Brits? Come on.

TULLOCH: I'll vote in the next federal election.

LEMON: I mean, not vote for the Brits. You're still going to root for the Brits? Come on, man. OK. listen, I got to ask you this, Lance Corporal. Do you think that in many ways, because I kind of referenced this a little bit earlier, do you think that most U.S. citizens, people who are born here, do you think we take our citizenship for granted a bit?

LANCE CORPORAL: It depends on the person. Because sometimes they do care about the country and they want to learn more about it. But a lot of the people, the U.S. citizens, they don't realize the process that we have to go through just to get our citizenship. And, like, once they, for example, take the practice test, they're going to see that it's kind of hard. We study a lot. We take a lot of effort to put into it.

LEMON: Yes. Emmanuelle, do you think this will change your life at all here? If so, how?

ABBOUD: Oh, yes. Most definitely. I mean, first of all, I'm going to be able to vote. Which I think it's a privilege. And I'm going to be able to be more involved in my community. You know, being a citizen opens a lot of doors. And I'm just very proud and happy to become a citizen today. Thank you, America.

LEMON: Yes. What do you think about our system, though? I hate to ask people, you know, are you going to be a Democrat, Republican, independent. It's like asking someone who they're going to vote for. It's kind of a personal thing. Have you thought about that at all? And I'll start with you, Emmanuelle, how are you going to register, if at all?

ABBOUD: Yes, actually in the package, we got registration to vote. So I'm going to register. And you know, may the best win.

LEMON: You don't want to say. All right. Lance Corporal, real quickly, you thought about it? Made a decision?

LANCE CORPORAL: I'm going to register definitely to vote. I'm going to get involved more with the country. I'm just going to be, like, pay more attention to the politics. Like, try to pick my own party because I still haven't picked one yet. And, like, learn more about the political parties, the Democrats or the Republicans. I'll make my decision afterwards.

LEMON: And Ross, finally to you. We have to run. But have you decided?

TULLOCH: I'll certainly be involved in the election process. Hopefully I won't be canceling out my wife's vote. I'll certainly listen to what the parties are standing for and make an informed decision at that point in time.

LEMON: Ross, there's your certificate right there. So Ross, Emmanuelle, Lance Corporal, congratulations to all of you.

LANCE CORPORAL: Thank you.

ABBOUD: Thank you.

TULLOCH: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. Michael Steele has done it again. The resigned chorus for RNC chair Michael Steele gets louder from members of his own party. Could his latest slip of the tongue be the one to cost him his job? Our Candy Crowley is all over it on "State of the Union," right at the top of the hour.

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LEMON: Thanks for joining us. I'm Don Lemon at the Time Warner Center in New York. Happy fourth of July to all of you. I'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Meantime, "STATE OF THE UNION" starts right now.