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Netanyahu and Obama Meeting; Tornado Aftermath in the Midwest; Why Now Could Be the Best Time To Buy a Home; Advertising Fallout From Rush Limbaugh Comments; Barbara Bush Lends Voice To Romney; Romney's Super Tuesday Momentum; Iran Tensions Drive Up Gas Prices

Aired March 5, 2012 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta where it is 12 noon , 9:00 A.M. on the west coast. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. I want to get you up to speed for this Monday, March 5th.

The nuclear threat from Iran affects everything, from the possibility of U.S. military action on the ground, another Middle East war, even the price you pay for gas. That's why we're all over the story, this critical meeting between President Obama and Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. We are looking at this from all angles. At the start of the meeting, the president that the U.S. commitment to Israel's security is rock solid.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security. This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people context that we have between our two countries.


We're going to have more of their comments up ahead. But, first, brutal, deadly tornadoes tear across the north and the south. Now, the rebuilding of property and lives begins. The relentless storm system impacted millions and millions of people. 39 people died. The national weather service said 42 tornadoes slammed ten states on Friday alone. We're going to go live to the tornado recovery zone in just a few minutes.

One baby became a symbol of strength and hope after she had first survived the tornado that hit Indiana. But little Angel Babcock has now died. Her grandfather had to make the heartbreaking decision to take that 14-month-old off life support. Angel's parents were killed in the tornado.


JACK BROUGH, ANGEL BABCOCK'S GRANDFATHER: My pastor is going to go in with me and we're going to pray. We're going to pray there, and I'm going to tell that little girl, I'm going to tell her that it's time for her to meet her mommy and daddy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Things are only getting uglier in Syria. Eight people died today at the hands of their own government -- that is according to opposition activists. Now one of the dead was just 14 years old, a victim of sniper fire near a factory.

Iran's supreme court has overturned the death sentence for former American marine Amir Hekmati. Now that is according to media reports out of the country. Hekmati was accused of being a spy. Both his family and U.S. government denied it. What happens to him is still not clear.

Mitt Romney, on a roll on the eve of the big super Tuesday race. After a win in Washington state over the weekend, Romney now campaigning in Youngston, Ohio, this hour. It is one of ten states holding primaries or caucuses tommorrow.

Now, a new poll out today shows that Romney is ahead in Ohio. The university poll says that Rick Santorum leading 34 percent to 31 percent a week ago, Santorum had a seven-point lead.

A seventh advertiser has now pulled ads from rush Limbaugh's conservative radio show. ProFlowers is the latest. The company says that Limbaugh went way too far when he attacked a law student who testified in support of contraceptive health care coverage. In case you didn't catch it the first time, here's what he said.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: What does this say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.


MALVEAUX: Limbaugh has since apologized for the comment.

More now from the White House, where we're going and following developments that could impact everybody. We're talking about the nuclear threat from Iran -- our national security, even gas prices.

President Obama is meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at this hour. They agree on one thing. That is stopping, preventing a nuclear Iran. The question now, is how? I want to bring in our White House correspondent Dan Lothian. Dan, first of all, we saw the president, we saw the prime minister coming out of this meeting. What is the one thing that they hope this meeting will accomplish?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think president Obama certainly wants to, again, reiterate the fact that the U.S. is a strong, and will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel. But also make the case that all options remain on the table when it comes to Iran, and that includes military action as well.

But the key message from president Obama will be a call for patience. The president and this administration believing that there is still time for diplomacy to work, to let the sanctions take hold in Iran before you start talking about taking any kind of military action.

From Benjamin Netanyahu, the message will be that the administration needs to take a more forceful public action in terms of condemning Iran and threatening military action ,but also make the case that Israel is in charge of its own security.

And you heard that towards the end of his comments that he made early in the oval office when he said, quote, "my supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate." So again, certainly listening to what the U.S. has to say, but ultimately making the point that Israel is in charge here. They are the ones who will have to make that decision to go after Iran.

MALVEAUX: Dan, let's talk about the two leaders that we see there on the screen, here. They've had a rocky relationship in the past. Remember when Netanyahu was at the White House before. When he visited, President Obama was outraged that Israeli settlements were still being promoted and built during the vice president's trip to Israel. It was an embarrassment to the administration. What is the relationship now between Obama and Netanyahu?

LOTHIAN: You know, looking at today, you can see some of the body language there. It certainly doesn't appear to be an ideal relationship. They are trying to put the most positive face on their relationship.

You know, going back to last week, there was an interview that the president did. He was asked whether or not this relationship was a dysfunctional relationship. And the president responding to that and answering that question said it was, quote, "very functional." That's not quite a warm embrace.

And the president went on to point out that yes, the two leaders, like he does with other leaders around the world, do have their differences, but that they share the same objective.

The problem, though is that clearly, both the U.S. and Israel have different ideas about how, in terms of the timing, going after Iran. And some of that, I think, is amplified, through what some have described as a frosty relationship.

MALVEAUX: Not warm and fuzzy. Alright Dan, thank you very much. We'll be following this story throughout the day. Thanks, Dan.

Alright, so here's your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. This story, I mean really, it kind of breaks my heart because it involves my team, the New Orleans saints.

So The NFL says the team defensive coordinator was paying bonuses to players for injuring their opponents. The NFL says the investigation shows that this program -- it was active 2009, 2010, 2011 and run by the saints' defensive coordinator during those seasons. His name: Gregg Williams.

The NFL says that the team's head coach also knew about it but didn't do anything to stop it. Now, according to the NFL, the Saints players paid into a pool and then would get cash rewards from it.

Williams would pay the players $1500 dollars for injuring an opponent so badly that he was taken out of the game. They also got $1,000 for a cart off - that is where an opposing player had to be carried off the field.

So, the Saints owner says the results of this probe, they are troubling. The NFL commissioner says the bounty program run by Williams violates league rules. The league is going to decide on discipline. It could include some fines, suspensions, forfeiture of draft choices, any number of these things.

The Saints, they're not the only team to be tarnished by bounties. Several Redskins players tell "The Washington Post," defensive coordinator Williams had a similar program when he ran the defense there.

Brings us to the talk back question. Should NFL teams be punished for bounty programs? Or hard hits, playing tough, just part of the game? We want to hear from you. Leave your comments at Going to have some of those comments later in the hour.

Here's a rundown of some of the stories we are covering.

First, President Obama tells Israel, we've got your back when it comes to Iran. We're going to talk to a retired general about the increasing tension around stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions.

This: It's like a bomb went off. That is what Ohio's governor says about the damage in his state and what it looks like after last week's deadly tornado outbreak. We're going to show you how survivors are coping today. And then if you're looking to buy a house, it's a good time. Experts are telling us, 'yes, go for it.' We're going to tell you why.


MALVEAUX: 42 Tornadoes slam across ten states. A lot of people lost their loved ones. The death toll stands now at 39. There were some towns that were pretty much wiped out.

In hard-hit Indiana, the cleanup is complicated by snow. Lots of people spent the night in shelters. We're going to go live to tornado zone in just a minute.

But, first, a little baby who had first survived the tornado but killed the rest of her family has now passed away. 20-month-old Angel Babcock became a symbol of hope in the middle of all of the tragedy. She survived for two days after rescuers found her lying in a field. Angel died last night after she was taken off of life support, and her grandfather, he was the one who had to make that very painful decision.

He talked about it to our affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky.


Reporter: Camouflaged by twisted metal and broken wood, a baby monitor rests near the wreckage of homes that housed the young family taken by the march 2nd tornado.

BROUGH: I've never been through nothing like this. It's horrible.

SCOTT ADKINS, WAZE REPORTER (voice-over): Jack Brough knew there was a storm that fateful Friday. When it passed, he made a quick trip to Pekin to run some errands.

BROUGH: We was going to pay the water bill and they told us that there have been some people hurt at Worley (ph) lumber company. So that made me think of my daughter and her kids.

ADKINS: As Brough approached the mobile home park, it hit him.

BROUGH: As we got closer, I thought, oh, my god. Oh, my god.

ADKINS: His 20-year-old daughter, Mariah, wasn't there.

BROUGH: We got out and we just started calling her name. We was walking through mud and water. It was really horrible.

ADKINS: Mariah, her long-time boyfriend, 21-year-old Joe Babcock, and their children, did not make it.

BROUGH: The little boy was laying on the ground. They were trying to bring him back to life.

ADKINS: 2-year-old Jaden and 2-month-old Kendall were also dead.

BROUGH: We walked up towards the road. And then they was bringing the other little baby up from way up the road.


MALVEAUX: Angel's grandfather spoke to Scott Adkins of WAZE before taking her off the life support. One of the toughest decisions that he has ever had to make.


BROUGH: My pastor is going to go in with me and we are going to pray there and I am going to tell that little girl that -- I'm going to tell her that it's time for her to meet her mommy and daddy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: Our thoughts and prayers go out to that family. All of the other tornado victims. So many people suffered during those storms, but we're also hearing survival stories as well. There was one couple, they barely made it out of the tornado's path. That was in Indiana. They made it to safety with the help, actually, of some friends. And they told their story today on "EARLY START."


JULIE MONEY, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We looked at the radar and it looked like it was heading for our home in Scottsburg. Our friends own the restaurant and called us and asked us to come down to their basement.

So we stopped and picked up our best friends, John and Mica Jenkins, and we barely made it here. When we got here, there people were waiting to pick up their children, standing in front of the school. They couldn't see the tornado coming over the back of the school. So, we screamed, my husband screamed and screamed until they responded. And they went inside. Thank God. I know that's why God put us here.


MALVEAUX: Want to go to Athena Jones. She's in Henryville, Indiana, to talk a bit about what the residents have been going through there. Athena, how are people coping?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, as you can see here, the destruction in Henryville has been quite extensive. I'm standing here among downed power lines. Of course, I should mention that the power is out, so we are not in danger right now.

You can also see and hear possibly a generator being used by some people here who are trying to work on rescue efforts. Right here, we have what used to be an autobody repair shop. We're told the auto mechanic who had this shop, a dream for years of opening up his own repair shop. But now you find that under rubble. You can still see some of the trucks that were in the shop at the time under these two- by-fours. Luckily, as you can see, snow fell overnight. The snow has stopped falling, which is of help to the workers here. The sun is coming out intermittently, and we expect the high to be about 40 degrees so that could give it a chance to melt a little bit.

Over here, I want to show you another building that has become really one of the iconic images of this tornado that came through on Friday night. We spoke with a National Weather Service official who said that this tornado, one of the two tornadoes that came through Henryville, was the strongest that hit among all of these tornadoes during this outbreak. They believe that it had a 50-mile path, and that the winds reached between 166 and 200 miles per hour.

And so you can see here there is quite a bit of destruction, quite a lot of cleanup that has to get underway. We're told by the state police that about half of the town of Henryville has the power and electricity back. But there's still a lot more work to do, and you have churches here offering as much help as they can to the victims in terms of food, water, and other things like bedding and clothing.


MALVEAUX: Thank you, Athena Jones. Want to go to Rob Marciano in West Liberty, Kentucky to talk a little bit about what folks are facing there. Hey, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi there, Suzanne. We are looking at residents -- well, they can't come back in today. Some business owners, some workers can come back in. There's been more frantic cleanup today. Even as the snow continues to fall behind me -- actually folks who work at the courthouse have been told that they can come back in. These are probably some of those folks right now.

Important papers, as you would imagine. Court documents, same deal with the larger bank that was demolished. They want folks who work at the bank to come in and protect some of that important paperwork. These are things that you don't typically think about when it's just a -- you know, slew of homes that have been flattened as opposed to a town that is the heart, blood of this community.

By the way, that's the new courthouse. You see the newer construction brick. That's supposed to be done any time now. But that's been put on hold. This one built in 1936.

All right, here's Main Street. A little more traffic today, for sure. Power companies been in here. They want to get the power strung before they do anything else. They want to get all this debris moved to a safe spot before they do anything else. They've done a pretty good job of that on the streets itself, but there's still a ton of it on the sides of the streets. And obviously, with this snow, it's so much more dangerous today, Suzanne because you've got nails and sharp objects that are now kind of covered in snow. Hidden in snow, and then it makes it slick as well.

So, one more obstacles these poor people have to overcome here in Eastern Kentucky.

MALVEUAX: Yes, it looks like the know is just complicating things making it even worse. Rob, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

If you want help, there are things that you can do. Those who are impacted by the tornadoes, they are reaching out to folks. If you go to, you are going to find all these groups and ways that you can actually help those in need. That is

And if you're on the fence about whether or not you should rent or buy a home, the answer for most folks is buy. We're going to explain why it's actually a good time.


MALVEUAX: If you're in the market to buy a new home, experts say now is a great time to actually buy. Christine Romans has today's "Smart is the New Rich."


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Are we finally seeing the bottom in the housing market? Let's get right to the bottom of it. Mike Aubrey is a realtor and host of HGTV's "Real Estate Intervention." Mike, would you say it's time to buy, sell, or rent in this housing market?

MIKE AUBREY, HOST, HGTV'S "REAL ESTATE INTERVENTION": Unequivocally, you must buy right now. We're never going to see prices as cheap as they are, and never going to see mortgage money as cheap as you can get it.

ROMANS: I know, but we've been thinking this for a few months now, years now, that home prices couldn't go lower. And they keep going lower. That's the big fear: if you buy a house right now, it could be a less expensive house in one or two years.

AUBREY: Well, you know what? I think it depends on who the buyer is, Christine. I mean, if you're an investor and you're someone who is savvy and you're out in the marketplace, I think that you may have a different view point than say, someone who is looking to buy a house that they intend to live in. If you intend to live in a house right now, you're going to get a mortgage-interest rate deduction on that house that you're going to live in. I think that what you're going to do is cut your nose off despite your face.

Say that the market continues to drop, even through the end of 2012, which it may very well. I Know that mortgage rates aren't going to go any cheaper than they are right now. And when you talk about the gift that keeps on taking, even a quarter-point mortgage interest over 30 years, which, by the way, is about 3.88 percent on a 30-year fixed loan, you're going to end up paying more even if you pay $20,000 or $30,000 less for the house that you buy.

ROMANS: Yes, to get that mortgage rate, you need money in the bank, money to put down, pretty good credit score and of course, you have to have a house that you can sell. Already -- you can't have a house that you can't get rid of.

But you're right, mortgage rates have never been so low. And home prices - home sales, actually, are starting to pick up a little bit.

Mike Aubrey, thank you so much! I'm Christine Romans with this week's "Smart Is the New Rich."


MALVEUAX: Critical day at the White House. The president is meeting with the Israel's prime minister and says he's not taking any options off the table to keep Iran from going nuclear. "Spider" Marks, he's head of the intelligence for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He's going to join us next to tlak about it.


MALVEAUX: Here's a rundown of some of the stories that we're working on. First, Israel not backing down from talks of war with Iran. We're going to look at what that means for the United States.

And then he may have said sorry for his attack on a college student, but advertisers like AOL are now parting ways with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

And just in time for the votes on Super Tuesday, we're going to fact- check the Republican candidates for you in just about 20 minutes.

First, the Israeli government says it will use force to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And if push comes to shove, President Obama says Israel is not going to stand alone.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I've said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable. My personal commitment, a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office, our commitment to the security of Israel, is rock solid.

And as I've said to the prime minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security.


MALVEAUX: Retired Army general James "Spider" Marks. He's joining us now to talk about the stakes in all of this. Clearly very high, when President Obama says, we've got your back, General, what does that mean, and what does it look like militarily?

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, when the president says, we've got your back, there are multiple ways that he can achieve that. Clearly, there's diplomatic, economic, political, as well as military.

What the president did not say is - he did not say we've got your back militarily and in all of those efforts. But -- to answer the question very specifically, if Israel were to choose to strike Iran, clearly the United States would know about it. Israel wouldn't do that without letting us know. And it may be simply a notification just upon launch so that we can't try to talk him out of it. But we would have to be there.

That would then connect us, we, the United States, to some type of a military action were that to occur. Clearly, that might include early on some intelligence to get further refined targeting on some of the targets. But it also might include some strikes of our own.

MALVEAUX: Would it mean that we would be put on a much higher state of alert in our own country and expect that there would be retaliation from Iran, whether or not it's here in our country or in other bases?

MARKS: Absolutely. It has more to do with our posture across the world and in very asymmetrical ways. Not only would be Iran, but clearly the surrogates and the supporters of Iran, different terrorists organizations will strike when we are most vulnerable, and where we are soft.

Clearly, the hardest target would be some place in the United States except for some elements that are sleeper elements who already have plans and they would accelerate those plans.

But it would clearly be U.S. interests globally. So almost anywhere around the world, there would be a notification to harden your posture and to be that much more alert, absolutely.

MALVEAUX: And General, you have a lot of practice and a lot of experience, and actually listening to world leaders. Depending on -- what they are seeing and what they are hearing from these two leaders now is an attack on Iran imminent?

MARKS: I would say that it's imminent, yes. The concern that we have is that Iran's nuclear development clearly puts them to a nuclear capable nation, probably if you read the intelligence estimates, by 2013, maybe 2014.

So the decision is can we as an international body abide that or must there be some degree of total transparency, complete openness in terms of this development.

So that international inspectors can get in there and can determine whether these are exclusive peaceful uses of nuclear power or if they are military uses or if there's a dual track.

And clearly, there's a capability to go down a dual track. And there are differences to go down between those two, but it has to be total transparency. If we are looking at what is taking place this year, 2012 is a year of decision relative to Iran and its capabilities albeit those might be capabilities realized in an out years unless something is done now.

MALVEAUX: And General, do you think that President Obama has the kind of influence, the kind of credibility, if you will, to persuade Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off, not to act if we feel that there's more time that is need to establish what is actually taking place inside of Iran?

MARKS: Well, I have to say that the president of the United States is in an immensely powerful, influential, I mean, we understand that. I mean, the magnitude of the decision, the responsibilities, the requirements to act with clarity and focus and absolute decision making is imminent and resident in the president.

Israel, however, is not the United States and they view Iran through an entirely different prism. The challenge that we have, Israel is an ally of ours and if Iran is going to threaten one of our allies, how does that threaten us? And that is where we reside right now.

MALVEAUX: All right, General Spider Marks, thank you very much. Obviously, what you said is really quite alarming when you think about it believing that strike could be imminent.

Certainly, both the leaders at the White House are trying to figure out a way to prevent all out attacks and conflict in the Middle East. But it sounds like from what you're saying that it is heading in that direction. General Marks, thank you very much for your time.

MARKS: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We may have more answers on the situation in Iran coming up in the next hour. We're going to talk to the head of the Iranian American Council about what the threat of war could mean for all those involved.


MALVEAUX: Developing news out of a story that has created quite a controversy out of Washington and beyond Washington. The conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, is really going after and insulting a young woman over the debate, her testimony in the debate over contraceptives calling her a slut and a prostitute following up with that apologizing.

Well, since then he has lost a number of advertisers for his show. The latest one now we are learning is AOL. A statement from AOL saying that at AOL, one of our core values is that we act with integrity.

We have monitored the unfolding events that have determined that Mr. Limbaugh's comments are not in line with our values as a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on the Rush Limbaugh radio show.

I want to bring in our own John Zarrella out of Miami to talk a little bit more about this. Clearly, John, it seems to me this is the eighth, I believe it's the eight advertiser to now cut ties with his program. The apology is not enough at this point?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, and clearly Rush Limbaugh now is in a damage control mode evidenced today when he went on the air about 35 minutes ago, Suzanne. And right out of the box he asked his listeners, he said, listen, give me 30 minutes. I want to explain to all of you what I said, why I said it, and why I was wrong.


LIMBAUGH: In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them. And against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them and I feel very badly about that.


ZARRELLA: Now, the "them" he's talking about is those on the left, the people he's referring to there. But he went on to say, I do not think she is either of those two words. My apology was sincere and heartfelt. I had no other ulterior motives.

Now, this morning on "The View," Sandra Fluke appeared. Now this, of course, was before Limbaugh's latest reiteration of his apology and she said in reference to his apology over the weekend that it doesn't change anything, that his apology came while he was under intense pressure -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: John, do we know if he says on his own show that he plans to reach out to her directly and apologize to her directly, pick up the phone or something like that?

ZARRELLA: Not in any of what I've listened to so far. He did not say that, certainly not in the first 15 to 20 minutes of his remarks he did go on after initially apologizing to talk about his differences of opinion over the issue of contraception and that's where his show went from there on.

MALVEAUX: All right. John Zarrella, thank you very much. Following the developing news there out of the Rush Limbaugh controversy despite the apology, more advertisers breaking links to his show. We're going to have more after the break.


MALVEAUX: The biggest day so far in the Republican race for president, we're talking about Super Tuesday, 10 states, more than 400 delegates up for grabs.

Mitt Romney has momentum. He picked up another win in Washington State that was over the weekend. This hour, Romney is campaigning in Ohio. It's one of the major states holding primaries and caucuses tomorrow.

A new poll out today shows Romney ahead in Ohio. He leads Rick Santorum 34 percent to 31 percent. A week ago, Santorum had a seven- point lead. And the former first lady, she is lending her voice to the Mitt Romney campaign. Listen up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, this is Barbara Bush calling for Romney for president on behalf of our friend, Mitt Romney. We have known the Romneys for years and believe Mitt is the best man to lead the country for the next four years and Ann will make a great first lady.


MALVEAUX: Imagine getting a call from a former first lady. The automotive robocall is dialling up voters in Ohio and Vermont. And by the way, former President George H.W. Bush, he announced his support for Romney back in December.

A man who made America laugh with his spot on imitations of President George W. Bush has died. Actor, Steve Bridges was found dead by his maid Saturday morning inside his Los Angeles home. That is according to his manager.

He was just 48 years old. The cause of his death isn't known, but Bridges gained international fame when he appeared on stage with President Bush at the White House Correspondence Dinner back in 2006.

I was at the dinner, had a chance to see for myself what an amazing talent this guy was. He had all of us doing double takes on who the real Bush was.


STEVE BRIDGES, COMEDIAN: As you know, I always look forward to these dinners. It's just a bunch of media, Hollywood liberals, Democrats like Joe Biden. How come I can't have dinner with a 36 percent of the people who like me? The only thing missing is Hillary Clinton sitting on the front row rolling her eyes.


MALVEAUX: Wow. A lot of folks loved to imitate Bush, but Bridges -- in front of all of us and, you know, the White House press core, a pretty tough crowd, but he was a huge hit. He did also impersonations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

He is known for his conservative values and his tough stand against abortion, but did Rick Santorum fund Planned Parenthood? Find out when we put the claim to the political fact test.

Plus, you've been sounding off on the "Talk Back" question. New Orleans Saints under fire for a so-called bounty program. Should the NFL teams be punished for bounty programs or hard hits, playing tough just part of the game? We're going to have your responses up ahead.


MALVEAUX: Punch line time. So, if it's true getting spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" is an honor, Mitt Romney should be very happy. We don't know if he is. But, "SNL's" take on the frontrunner's recent winning streak. Here it goes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel about the Michigan win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we feel great. Michigan was just another case of voters taking a look at Mitt Romney and saying, ah, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite your success, you keep making gaffs that paint you as a wealthy businessman who's out of touch with the middle class voter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not focusing on that, Shepard. I'm focusing on the victories. And as we say in the Romney house, I'm happier than a poor man eating a can of beans from a dumpster. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: Between the political ads, the attacks flying back and forth, it's pretty tough sometimes to separate the fact from fiction. So we're putting some of the political claims to the test. Bill Adair, he is the Washington bureau chief of "The Tampa Bay Times," editor of the Pulitzer prize winning

Hey, Bill, good to see you. Let's start off with this one. The claim from an ad about Red, White and Blue Fund. That's a PAC that's supporting Santorum. It accuses Mitt Romney of leaving Massachusetts $1 billion in debt. True or false. What do we know?

BILL ADAIR, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TAMPA BAY TIMES": This one gets a false on our Truth-O-Meter. That's just not what happened. What happened in -- the way they came up with that number, there was a projected shortfall right as Duvall Patrick was about to take over as governor of up to $1 billion, but ultimately it didn't materialize. And it wasn't a debt, which would be illegal. In Massachusetts they have to have a balanced budget. So, false on the Truth-O-Meter for that one.

MALVEAUX: All right, false on that one. What about this one? Ron Paul ad claims that Rick Santorum funded Planned Parenthood. Is that possible? Yes?

ADAIR: We gave that one a half true. And this is sort of a classic half truth that we see in a lot of campaign ads and in a lot of speeches. The true part of it is that Santorum did vote for some big appropriations bills. And included in those bills was something called Title 10. And part of Title 10 was family planning money that went to Planned Parenthood.

Now, did Santorum specifically vote for Planned Parenthood? No. And, in fact, he's been on both sides. He has said he is opposed to Title 10 funding and said he's for it. So half true on this one.

MALVEAUX: Half true. A little true, little false there. OK. For fun here, this -- the ACLU of Florida says there's a larger number of shark attacks in Florida than there are cases of voter fraud. What do we know?

ADAIR: Well, we gave that one a mostly true.


ADAIR: This is a -- this was one we heard on "The Colbert Report" in a segment about a teacher who was actually charged with voter fraud. And the claim by the ACLU was, shark attacks occur more often. Well, they're right if you look at them over the past four years. Shark attacks total 72 and there are 49 cases of voter fraud. We took it down a notch because there are some record keeping issues that make those numbers not actually precise. So, overall, mostly true that there are more shark attacks in Florida.

MALVEAUX: And you can see so many different ways of looking at that. The politicians being sharks themselves, you know. I mean you could debate that. Bill, great to see you. Thanks again.

ADAIR: Thanks, Suzanne.


As part of our Super Tuesday coverage, you can take part in the CNN election roundtable. So, what is it? It is a live insider (ph) chat. It's tomorrow at noon Eastern on So, Wolf Blitzer and our political team, they're going to take you behind the scenes. Our reporters and analysts are going to answer your question. interactive chat. It begins tomorrow at noon Eastern. So you'll want to check it out.

All right, CNN is sounding off on the "Talk Back" question of the day, should NFL teams with bounty programs be punished or is tough play, hard hits just part of the game? The NFL conducted this investigation of New Orleans Saints, my team, found that the defensive coordinate for three seasons was offering bonuses for hurting opposing players. They got $1,500 for knocking a player out of the game.

Jamal writes, "hard hits are one thing, bounties are something else entirely. Absolutely egregious."

Joe says, "the players are just doing what they're trained to do. Sometimes the players get injured and it's not a matter of malicious intent. The players practice this everyday and the roughness is part of the game. The NFL teams should not be punished."

Molly Jo writes, "I don't like it in principle, but any fan had to know this was occurring in some form. If I have any problem with specifics in the bounty program, it's with the payments for opposing players being carted off."

Wow, keep the conversation going, We're going to have more of your responses in the next hour.

And tired (ph) of dropping (ph) we're talking $4, $5 a gallon at a time at the pump. We're going to tell you about how a new car can actually save you big money.


MALVEAUX: Checking stories our affiliates are covering cross country.

"Occupy" protesters were arrested this morning in West Palm Beach, Florida. They've been camped out in an old city hall building since late last year, ignoring police requests to get out. The protesters taped themselves to the building's pipes but police were able to get them loose.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dude, now he's going down.


MALVEAUX: A man jumps into Oregon's Willamette River to save a guy from drowning. It's all caught on video. And you can see it there. The good Samaritan pulling him to shore. Other witnesses giving him CPR. He's doing fine now, we understand, but paramedics say he could have gotten hypothermia had folks not acted quickly.

These dogs are trying to pass the test to become part of Oklahoma City's elite rescue task force. Pretty cool. The group goes all over the world after disasters strike. They sift through rubble looking for survivors. And these dogs have been able to get around piles of debris and climb up ladders. A pretty talented bunch.

Tensions now growing between Iran and Israel. President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But this is not just about war thousands of miles away. We are talking about things that effect ever American right now. Alison Kosik, she's joining us from the New York Stock Exchange.

These meetings are critical because folks are looking at it and looking at, particular, gas prices.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And oil prices effect gas prices. So, yes, this is about oil and the price of oil, which is, Suzanne, heavily influenced by events that happen around the world. Of course the latest fear are those tensions with Iran, that Iran could go to war, and that would disrupt the global supply of oil.

You know this. Iran had threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, where about 20 percent of the world's oil passes through. Now, analysts say at this point supply and demand is fine right now. But the thing is, investors trade on rumor and far. So this is enough to make those oil prices go up right now. They're sitting at $106 a barrel. And, of course, gas prices at about $3.70 a gallon.


MALVEAUX: Do we know how car makers are actually responding to the potential, these gas prices keep going up and up?

KOSIK: They are responding and they're making vehicles, Suzanne, that run on something else. They're running on natural gas. GM says it's going to make the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra truck that run on natural gas. Reports are that Chrysler is going to jump in and unveil a natural gas vehicle tomorrow.

But they're not the first to do this. Honda actually sells natural gas Civics in some states because, guess what, natural gas is cheaper. Check out how much cheaper. A third cheaper than regular gas. We did the math for you. So if you wind up spending $350 a month on regular gas, look at what natural gas will save you. About $115 a month in savings. So that's a big savings. So this is why that natural gas vehicle phenomena could catch on.

Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Yes, that's pretty cool. I mean that's a lot of money there. Do you think that -- is there any evidence that folks will actually take to these?

KOSIK: Well, here's the big issue, because there aren't a lot of places where you can gas up on natural gas. There are only about 500 public natural gas stations in the U.S. compared to more than 100,000 of those regular gas stations. So it becomes that sort of chicken and the egg question, you know, which comes first, the car or the fill-up station? You know, if you build it, will they come?

There's also one more issue in this, holding back this idea. Consumers have short memories. You know, gas prices are rising now. They want these alternative vehicles. And history shows that drivers often revert back to old habits once gas prices back down. But we'll see if this idea necessarily catches on.


MALVEAUX: Chicken and the egg analogy. Works for so many things. Thank you, Alison. Good to see you.