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Vi Ripken Found In Her Car; Shooting Protest Turns Violent; Obama Tries To Rally Black Voters; Teen Shooting Survivor; Mixed Day For Stock Markets; Teen Talks About Theater Massacre; Obama Tries To Rally Black Voters

Aired July 25, 2012 - 13:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Suzanne Malveaux. At this hour, we're in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're focusing on protests in California, politics and the economy right here at home. Let's get straight to it.

The mother of baseball hall of famer, Cal Ripken, has been found unharmed. Ripken seen here with ex-administration -- Bush administration officials Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes gained fame as a sport -- as a shortstop rather, with the Baltimore Orioles. Well, the Aberdeen police department says that his mother was abducted yesterday after a man with a gun forced her into a car. Early this morning, Mrs. Ripken was located in her car close to her home. She was examined by paramedics but was not injured. She is now resting with family members. Let's get more on this from our Crime and Justice Correspondent Joe Johns in D.C. Very bizarre. How did this happen?

JOE JOHNS, CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Fred. A strange story developing here. Vi Ripken, is 74 years old, the mother of one of the most famous baseball players ever. Police confirming that she was apparently abducted from her home at gunpoint early yesterday morning. The police reports indicate she must have been missing for up to 24 hours. Local news reports from our affiliate WBAL indicating that she was driven to Baltimore County, Maryland and found tied up and blindfolded in the back seat of the car, a 1998 Lincoln town car, found at 6:15 this morning.

Authorities say she wasn't injured. So, if this was an attempted kidnapping for money, which is what you might immediately speculate about. The Aberdeen police department in Maryland told me on the phone that, to their knowledge, no ransom was requested or paid, which, if true, certainly would raise questions about why someone would do something like this. However, there are reports that Vi Ripken's credit cards were used while she was abducted, though we haven't been able to confirm that independently. So far, law enforcement sources calling this a local matter, say they have no indication the victim was driven across state lines which would make it a federal case.

The police are looking for a man in his late 30s to early 40s last seen a light -- wearing a light colored shirt, camouflage pants and eye glasses. The Ripken family has actually released a statement confirming, quote, "Our mother was abducted at gunpoint from her home yesterday morning. This has been a very trying time for our family, grateful and relieved that mom is back with us safe and healthy." The statement goes on to thank law enforcement authorities for their quick work. So, unusual story, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Very.

JOHNS: There could be a news conference around 1:00 Eastern time. We'll check back in if we get more information.

WHITFIELD: OK. And we are glad Vi Ripkin is OK. And again, just one potential suspect that they are looking for? Or description of just one person?

JOHNS: That's what it sounds like. Right, that's what it sounds like. And -- but you have to wonder if somebody took the time to pick out a high-profile target like this, if there might have been more afoot, who knows? Maybe the authorities can answer the question.

WHITFIELD: All right, keep us posted, especially if that press conference does get under way. Thanks so much. Joe Johns in Washington.

All right, the mayor in city council of Anaheim are calling for a federal investigation into the deadly shootings of two people at the hands of police officers. Since those killings, violence has erupted in the streets of Anaheim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Overnight, protesters clashed with police outside of city hall. It was the fourth straight day of violence. Our Casey Wian is live in Los Angeles. Casey, tell us about these shootings, and what is happening as a result there in Anaheim?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, the shootings, of course -- the account of the shootings depends who you talk to. We have an official account from the Anaheim police department and the police officers union that says on Saturday evening police officers saw a man who they believed was a documented gang member speaking with occupants of a parked car in an area that is known for drug sales, gang activity and high crime. They went to contact this man, Manual Diaz, 25 years old, and he apparently fled. According to the police account, they saw something in his waistband. They don't know what it was, but they saw something in his waistband, they say that officers saw him reach into his waistband to grab that object and turn toward them. Officers then, fearing it was a gun, opened fire killing him.

Now, Mr. Diaz' mother has come out and said that she, through her attorney, is going to be suing the Anaheim police department. She has a much different account of what happened. She said this young man was simply speaking with friends when he was shot in the back by the police, and then as he was falling down, shot again in the head. Now, there is another shooting of a -- of a suspected gang member who turned out to be armed one day later.

So, obviously, some members of the community in Anaheim, and some people outside the community very angry about what they believe is excessive police force so they have been protesting. City council meeting last night, crowded. Police tried to limit the number of people to keep the fire exits open. The crowd outside that couldn't get in grew to more than 1,000 people, and then the police had to have a confrontation with them to keep them out. Violence erupted, fires in trash cans, fires, Molotov cocktails were being prepared, rocks were thrown at police and at motorists. It was an ugly situation. Twenty-four arrests overnight. A handful of non-serious injuries, police say that they are, though, preparing for more violence and ready for more violence if in fact, it does happen -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Tense moments. Casey Wian from Anaheim, appreciate that.

All right. President Obama trying to build up the base of support among African-American voters with the latest poll showing him only slightly ahead of Romney overall -- Mitt Romney overall. Take a look at the new CNN poll of polls. It's an average of three national surveys conducted over the last week and a half. It shows President Obama at 47 percent, with Romney at 43 percent. The president is on his way right now to New Orleans. He gives a speech tonight at the National Urban League convention. The group is out with a study on how crucial African-American voter turnout will be in some key states. Political Director Mark Preston joining us right now. So Mark, how important is it for the president to not naturally assume that he has the African-American support, but to still work for that support?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Fredricka, no question that President Obama will get the bulk, if not all, the support of the African-Americans come November. The question is how many African-Americans will actually come out and vote and in what state? So, when we talk about this, we are looking specifically at four different states right now. We're looking at North Carolina. We are looking at Virginia. We are looking at Florida. And we're also looking at Ohio. These are all states that are going to play a very, very important role in choosing the next president.

And for President Obama, the African-American vote is an extremely important subset of his support. Now, back in 2008, he got 95 percent of the vote. We expect him fully to get at least that same percentage. But he needs to make sure that he can get African- Americans out in the same numbers or close to the same numbers at least that he did in 2008 in order to win re-election in November.

WHITFIELD: So, we mentioned the latest CNN poll of polls, you know, there are also numbers out on the candidates' favorability ratings, Mark. Are those negative ads in any way making an impact?

PRESTON: Well, they certainly are, Fredricka. And we should note that we expect several billion dollars to be spent just on television advertising in the 2012 elections. But if you just look at these numbers from the NBC "Wall Street journal" poll, it shows you that these ads primarily being run now by the super pac outside groups are having a big effect on the race. Look at that right there. Back in April, 26 percent of voters had a very negative view of President Obama. That's now increased to 32 percent, as well as for Mitt Romney, he had an 18 percent negative view of Mitt Romney back in April. But now, it's up to 24 percent.

So, there's no question that these negative ads, which everybody detests and says bad things about, but the fact of the matter is that it shows that negative ads do work. But we also have some numbers to talk about, the favorable rating so to speak. Let's look at these numbers from the same "Wall Street Journal" NBC poll right there. Look at the positive view of the candidate right now. President Obama at 49 percent, just under 50 percent, and Mitt Romney at 35 percent. This number is extremely important, Fredricka ,to President Obama, because right now on the number one issue for this election, the economy, Mitt Romney has an edge. But what President Obama hopes and certainly his campaign officials out in Chicago hope is that the people's goodwill towards the president might be enough to help erase a little bit of that lead right now that Mitt Romney has when it comes to the economy -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. Mark Preston, thanks so much.

PRESTON: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: And as we mentioned, President Obama will be addressing the National Urban League convention tonight in New Orleans. The organization's president, Marc Morial, will be joining us live this hour, in just about 30 minutes or so from now.

All right, here is what we are working on for this hour.

(voice-over): A very brave 13-year-old girl is trying hard to cope after surviving the Aurora movie massacre. She risked her life to try to save the six-year-old she babysits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like it was partly my job to protect her, and even if I wasn't her babysitter, I would still feel the same, because she was a child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Plus, it's been a rough week for the stock market. In fact, here are two words you don't hear in the same sentence very often on Wall Street, Apple and disappointment, and what it means for the 401K.

And searching for the long-life gene. Teens are racing to find out what makes those people live longer and they'll only have 30 days to do it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD (on camera): We are watching your money and the Dow was up today after three days of negative territory, but it's a mixed day for stocks so far as investors sort through the latest batch of earnings reports. So, what does all this mean for you and your 401Ks? Alison Kosik, joining us now from the New York Stock Exchange. So, Apple missed its earnings target, but some solid earnings reports are pushing the Dow higher today. Let's begin with Apple.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. So, with Apple, Fredricka, it's all about the expectations, and usually Apple just blows it out of the water, I'm talking about their earnings. But this time around, the company's earnings came in worse than expect e expected. Now, one of the problems for Apple is it only -- and I say this lightly, only sold 26 million iPhones. And that sounds likes a lot, but the problem is it's a big drop from the previous quarter. And what analysts think is happening here is that the consumers, they're waiting for the next model of the iPhone to come out before they buy the new one. So, what happened was -- according to the analysts, is that people held off buying the old iPhone, and that hurt the company. Apple shares, they're hurting a little, too, right now. They're down four percent -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. And so, ,we're also hearing about problems in Europe affecting companies right here in the U.S. What evidence are we seeing that it is in earnings?

KOSIK: Yes, Ford is definitely one of these companies that is feeling the effects of the slowdown in Europe. The auto maker reported a profit of $1 billion. And while that sounds good, the problem here is that it's down 57 percent from a year ago. And worse yet, the company expects to lose more than $1 billion in Europe just this year. Also, European auto sales fell to a 20-year low in the first half of this year. So Ford obviously having a rough time of it there.

Now, as far as Wall Street goes with the European influence here, Wall Street expected this weakness. And given all the problems in Europe, Wall Street expects other companies to take a hit too. But, guess what, a surprise today from Caterpillar and Boeing. Both of these companies reported second quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. Both also raised their full year outlooks and outlooks (INAUDIBLE) earnings because they're more forward looking. It's a sign of how the company thinks the economy's going to do in the future. And the good news here is, you look at Boeing, for example, Boeing is ramping up production to meet demand for both commercial and military planes. And Wall Street seems to liked this. Boeing shares are up more than 2 percent right now, helping the Dow stay in positive territory.

Fredricka.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my. OK. And so with the recent swings in the markets, some, you know, folks are afraid to even look at their 401(k) statements, besides the earnings reports. You know, what are the other factors that influence the markets and what can we expect perhaps moving forward?

KOSIK: You know what, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to look at your 401(k). You know, look at this broadly in sort of the big scheme of things. The major averages. You know what, they're still up for this year and they're pretty much where they were a year ago. You know what, there's no need to make any rash change.

Still, there's a lot of uncertainty out there, but some relief could be on the way next week. We're going to be getting the first look at GDP -- that's economic growth here in the U.S. -- for April. For the April through June quarter. We're going to get that report on Friday. Now if this number comes out bad, there could actually be a good side to this. We could see the Fed step in and try to pump more stimulus into the economy after it meets next week.

You know, fed officials, they've been dropping a lot of hints lately that that could happen. And that would wind up being welcome news for the stock market. You would see a nice little pop in stock because that stimulus would push investors toward the stock market. But clearly it wouldn't be the end of the uncertainty for Wall Street. There are still a lot of worries out there. But it's not time to panic. Not even close.

Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: OK. Very good. That's encouraging. Alison Kosik, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

All right, at just 13 years old, she's already been through more than most of us will ever go through in our lifetimes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To draw. And she liked to look at the -- I had a bunny -- well, I have a bunny in my room, and she always liked to look at the bunny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: How this teen attempted to save lives inside theater nine the night of that Colorado massacre.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Funeral arrangements are being made for victims of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. A memorial service for 51- year-old Gordon Cowden is underway this hour in Denver. He had taken his two teenage children to see the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie. His children survived.

Nine miles away, visitation will take place for Micayla Medek, a 23-year-old woman who was working toward her college degree.

Most of the victims were in their 20s. Jonathan Blunk will be buried with military honors. He served three tours in the Middle East and had hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL.

Matt McQuinn was 27. He died shielding his girlfriend.

Rebecca Wingo was a 32-year-old mother of two daughters.

Twenty-four-year-old Jessica Ghawi was an aspiring sports journalist. A.J. Boik was only 18. He had recently graduated from high school and was remembered as someone who wanted everyone to be happy.

Alex Sullivan was 27 years old. He was celebrating his birthday with friends last Friday when he was killed.

Alex Teves is also one of the heroes of the shooting. He died saving his girlfriend's life.

Twenty-seven-year-old John Thomas Larimer was a Navy intelligence officer. He's another one of the young men killed shielding his girlfriend from bullets.

And Jesse Childress is an Air Force sergeant who died trying to protect a friend.

The youngest victim was just six years old. Her name was Veronica Moser-Sullivan.

The little girl had gone to the movie with her mother and a 13- year-old who had often babysat her. Well, the teenager spoke to our Poppy Harlow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we just put Kaylan into your hands, Lord. Your loving, merciful, healing hands.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): Prayers for 13-year-old Kaylan, a survivor.

KAYLAN, COLORADO SHOOTING SURVIVOR: He just kept firing and then he would stop. Like he was reloading. And he keep firing at anyone he saw. I thought I was going to die.

HARLOW (on camera): You thought you were going to die?

KAYLAN: I've never had that feeling before in my life. And it's the scariest feeling to think that you're going to die.

HARLOW (voice-over): Kaylan watched as three people with her at the Batman screening were shot, including the six-year-old girl she regularly babysat, Veronica Moser-Sullivan.

KAYLAN: I felt like it was partly my job to protect her. And even if I wasn't her babysitter, I would still feel the same because she was just a -- she was just a child.

HARLOW: Lying on the theater floor, she called 911.

KAYLAN: I put my hand on Veronica's like rib cage to see if she was breathing, but she wasn't breathing. So I started freaking out. And then they told me to do CPR. And I told them I couldn't because her mother was on top of her and couldn't move.

HARLOW: Veronica's mother Ashley (ph) was shot in the neck and abdomen. She lived. Veronica did not.

KAYLAN: And she liked to draw. And she liked to look at the -- I had a bunny -- well, I have a bunny in my room and she always liked to look at the bunny.

HARLOW (on camera): You OK? Take your time.

HARLOW (voice-over): Her pastor calls her a girl with a servant's heart.

PASTOR MICHAEL WALKER, CHURCH IN THE CITY: She's the type of kid that would comes in a room and say, what can I do to help? You know, how can I give of myself. I mean, a young kid, that really can't be taught.

HEATHER, KAYLAN'S MOTHER: She actually was consoling me.

HARLOW (on camera): You were?

HEATHER: And she was telling me that it was going to be OK.

HARLOW: How has this changed your life?

KAYLAN: There are certain things that I can't like hear or certain things I can't look at or certain things that I can't do or even wear.

HARLOW: Like what?

KAYLAN: Like the clothes that I wore that night. I don't want to put those on again. Popping sounds. Or like banging. If it sounds a certain way. And I can't really look at popcorn.

HARLOW: I know you want to say something to Ashley, the mother of Veronica, the little girl you tried to help.

KAYLAN: All I want right now is to go visit Ashley.

HARLOW (voice-over): Kaylan may not have been physically wounded, but she still bears the scars.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, Aurora, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. This is the scene in Aleppo, Syria, today. There was intense fighting between rebel forces and government troops. The military is sending 2,000 more troops in an effort to retake the city.

Meanwhile, Turkey announced it is closing its border with Syria. Thousands have fled across the border to escape the violence.

A Sea World trainer's brush with death. I want you to take a look at this chilling video. It's the moment a 6,000-pound killer whale turns on his trainer at Sea World San Diego. You can see the whale grabbing the trainer by his leg and then dragging him under water right there. At one point violently kind of shaking him. The trainer eventually got away with a broken foot. This video is being used as evidence in a federal court case claiming Sea World was putting trainers at risk.

President Barack Obama on his way to New Orleans as he tries to rally African-American voters. Well, as we mentioned, the president will give a speech at the National Urban League convention. The group is out with a report called "The Hidden Swing Voters: The Impact of African-Americans in 2012." Marc Morial is the president of the National Urban League. He's joining us right now from his home city of New Orleans.

Good to see you, Marc.

All right, so let's begin -

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Hey, great to be with you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Let's begin with this report. What do you mean by the hidden swing voters?

MORIAL: Well, African-American voter turnout in states like Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida in many ways was crucial in the outcome of the election in those states in 2008. So, to a great extent, African-American voter turnout is part of, I think, that category of voters that we consider to be swing voters. Voters whose participation in the election is really going to have a big impact on the outcome. And we point this out because in 2008, we achieve something historic in this nation, and that is both white and African- American voter turnout was about equal. That was an important milestone for the nation, compared to 2004, and 200 and previous years, so we wanted to highlight this with the this report, indeed, as we gather here in New Orleans to prepare to listen to the president, and the value and importance of voting and to push back against all of the voter suppression initiatives cropping up around the country.

WHITFIELD: And you are talking about particularly in the voter registration, and some changes in certain states about the voter registration, right?

MORIAL: Yes, we are talking about this sort of new wave of voter I.D. laws, cutbacks on the early voting, and restrictions on groups like League of Women Voters or the Urban League in conducting voter registration drives in some states. It is a good sign that in many cases the courts have enjoined, blocked or stopped some of the law, and in other cases the Justice Department has intervened using the powers under the Voting Rights Act, but in a number of states the laws are still in effect, and we don't know what the state of play is. I say and the Urban League says, I think, that the efforts are making it more difficult for people to vote. There is no evidence that they are responding to a real problem, and it is really anti-Democratic and un- American. WHITFIELD: When you talk about the widespread -- and there was quite the boon in the voter participation in 2008. Is it your concern, if there is apathy in the go-around, that it is particularly in the African-American community or it's widespread as well?

MORIAL: Well, I think that Americans of all backgrounds, and we have been through a tough period of time with the recession and the economy, and people want things to get better. I always believe that once people focus in on the choice that they have in an election contest, a lot of times that occurs after September and Labor Day, if you will, that there is a surge of interest in the election. Every election is important. And this election is crucially important. And we think that people have to vote as a matter of responsibility. Not simply as a matter of, well, am I jazzed up or am I enthusiastic? We think it is a responsibility for people to vote. That is what we are going to be talk talking to people about while we are here in New Orleans. I think that the enthusiasm will, in fact, indeed, be there, but it also depends in large measure how the candidates campaign and how they conduct themselves. So we are proud that President Obama will be here. We invited Governor Romney and we wish he would have accepted our invitation, because we think that all candidates should talk to the people in America's urban communities. And we think that all candidates should talk to the African-American community and should talk to the voters directly in person. And the national Urban League conference, we provide that opportunity, and in 2008, John McCain and Barack Obama came, and in 2004 John Kerry and George Bush came.

WHITFIELD: And will Mitt Romney argue that he was at the NAACP convention and he did address a large segment of the African-American nation in that address?

MORIAL: And he did. But one does not appeal to a community so important and significant as the Urban League community and the African-American community with one drive-by appearance. You have to make it sustain and consistent, and that is what we are looking for. So, I think that it is beyond that. We wish he were here. And the NAACP is an important organization. And we speak to a more distinctly urban constituency in the civil rights movement. We think that we have a very important constituency. So my most important challenge to both of the candidates the president and Mitt Romney is to address the challenges that urban communities face, to make sure that the joblessness and the unemployment that we face is part of your agenda. And we look forward to seeing the president this evening here in New Orleans.

All right. Marc Morial president of the National Urban League.

Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thanks for joining us from New Orleans. Thank you.

And the question, to find the long-life gene, and everybody wants that. It is a race with teams from around the world, and a U.S. Team is actually the first one to sign up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Scientists pitted against each other in a 30-day race to find the long-life gene. The prize race is something like you would find in a reality show. And the teams compete for a prize of $10 million. The goal, well, that's where it can get a little bit more complex. They are in a race to map the gene's common in people who live beyond 100.

I'm joined by Jonathan Rothberg, an entrepreneur in gene science.

Good to see you, Jonathan.

So this contest was first announced in 2006, but you and your team, the first to register. Why did your team decide to do this?

JONATHAN ROTHBERG, ENTREPRENEUR IN GENE SCIENCE: We registered now, because we are launching a new technology that will allow us to sequence people's genomes. and when you go to the doctor now, you have an MRI, and now you can go to the doctor and have your genes read, which will help the doctor give you the right medicine and help scientists to come up with cardiovascular disease and cancer and aging.

WHITFIELD: Sure. So then, in the 30 days, once the race begins, what will you be doing? How will you go about trying to find that common gene or that common component?

ROTHBERG: The important thing to know is that we now have a new system that sequences your genome, and reads the code of life. In this contest, we will be reading the genes from people who lived to 100 and we will uncover those genes that protect them from disease, because most of the people live long, healthy, happy lives, and we want to make it possible for more people.

WHITFIELD: And so, these people who are --

(CROSSTALK)

ROTHBERG: And we will take you to their --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: OK. Go ahead.

ROTHBERG: So we will either take their blood or their saliva, and we will put that on a disposable chip. And this chip from the life technologies sees DNA and sees chemistry just like the chip in your cell phone can take a picture. We can read your genome.

WHITFIELD: And you got these centenarians because they volunteered, right?

ROTHBERG: Yes. They volunteered, and now by sequencing them, we can understand something that can help everybody, how to live a long healthy life. WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. Now is there any real common denominator with those who have stepped forward, and those who have, you know, volunteered the DNA? Are they mostly living in a particular region of the world?

ROTHBERG: That's the beautiful thing about it. Amazingly, many people who lived to 100 smoke, drink, eat fatty foods, and they are fine. So we want to know what genes do they have that protect them. And by understanding these people, we'll better be able to help everybody.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

ROTHBERG: I want to make clear, this is a machine in over 1,000 labs now that is being used in medicine, making sure that people get the right drug. It is a demonstration of the utility in a fast setting. So, we can sequence the genome and give information to a doctor, and then by sequencing 100-year-olds, we will find, if you will, the fountain of youth.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Fantastic. We look forward to those results. You'll have to keep us posted.

Jonathan Rothberg, thanks so much. Appreciate it. And happy hunting.

(LAUGHTER)

ROTHBERG: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Maybe these world leaders will live to be 100, given what Jonathan just said about poor diets in some cases. Bill Clinton liked his burgers. President Obama likes waffles. Chowing down with the candidates on the campaign trail. You have to eat, right? But it does not always go over so well. What happens when things go horribly wrong?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: It's a familiar scene in presidential politics, candidates showing up at local restaurants and chow down and shake a few hands and hopefully win a few votes. Well, President Obama stopped by the Varsity Burger Shop in Atlanta. And you see Mitt Romney sitting down for a meal in New Hampshire last year.

Well, Eatocracy editor, Kat Kinsman, is tracking those meals on the campaign trail and the history of presidential politics and food. She joins me now from New York.

Kat, very interesting assignment. Not usually are these like healthy options that the candidates are choosing on the trail, right? They are in a hurry.

KAT KINSMAN, EATOCRACY EDITOR: It is not pretty out there. I am sure that -- you know, I'm sure it is not healthy, physically, emotionally, spiritually. There was a great shot in -- Alexander Pelosi did a documentary called "Journeys with George," where she traveled with George Bush on the campaign trail, and she was eating what he was eating and her hair started to fall out.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KINSMAN: As she showed on camera.

(CROSSTALK)

KINSMAN: Some people try to stay healthy. Dennis Kucinich had a vegan underground network who would bring him vegan food. But for the most part, they are chowing down on meat on sticks at popular greasy spoon places. It is not pretty.

WHITFIELD: And you take us back to 1860, the Lincoln-Douglas campaign. There is documentation of food that was eaten on that campaign trail?

KINSMAN: Yes, there is. You know, as long as there has been American politics, there has been barbeques. And there have been some great food writers and fantastic food writers, like Robert Moss and Pat Willard, who have documented these for all these years. At that particular rally, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, they had engaged a pit master who may not have necessarily cooked barbeque before, and they shipped in animals from Kentucky. And the reason politicians love barbeques is because it is a community event and everybody shows up with meat and it takes a long time, so you have everybody's attention. It takes a long time and everybody gets really hungry, so there was a riot, because everybody is snatching at the food --

(LAUGHTER)

--once it came out of the pit. It was described by the local papers as a most disgraceful event.

WHITFIELD: Hey, when you are hungry, the ugly comes out.

(LAUGHTER)

KINSMAN: It does.

WHITFIELD: And there was a fun poll about how you feel about the candidates chowing down on the campaign trail. What are they measuring? Etiquette, how they are eating, what is it that they are eating? What are people expressing?

KINSMAN: Well, we share with people a whole bunch of pictures of candidates eating meat on sticks and in disgusting situations. And we asked, you know, do you feel really like at one with the candidate when you see him eating the local food, or do you feel really grossed out? 9 percent said, you know, it is that they did not care so much, but something like 29 percent of the people said it actually makes me like the candidate better. This is to me --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Really?

KINSMAN: Yes, this is to me like --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: It humanizes them, huh?

KINSMAN: Yes, it is like doing something like stars. They are just like us.

WHITFIELD: They eat, too.

KINSMAN: They do. And often it is on a stick.

WHITFIELD: Well, bon appetit on the campaign trail.

Kat Kinsman, thank you so much.

KINSMAN: Thanks to for having me.

WHITFIELD: Today, we remember the life of actor Sherman Hemsley. Hemsley was found dead in his home in El Paso, Texas, Tuesday. He was 74 years old.

(SINGING)

WHITFIELD: Iconic show, and song and actor. You will remember Hemsley, well, if you know this tune, because he played the iconic George Jefferson on the 1970s sit-com "The Jeffersons."

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(LAUGHTER)

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WHITFIELD: So funny. Boy, did he make us laugh with the vivacious attitude and unforgettable strut there. "The Jeffersons" ran for 11 years. It was a spinoff of the show "All in the Family."

All right. Thousands of Americans now have to be tested for a potentially deadly infection, and it is all, from what prosecutors say, one trusted hospital employee did on purpose.

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WHITFIELD: A man police call a serial infector is locked up today accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C. The states he worked, New Hampshire, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Arizona, Georgia and Kansas, are now investigating and having thousands of patients tested. Federal prosecutors say the 32-year-old man infected 30 people when he worked as a medical tech at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. It's believed he injected himself with patient's medicine and then reused the dirty needle on patients.

You've heard of gymnastic, swimming and soccer. They are among the more popular sports. Then there are some others that are strange Olympic events that you may not know that much about. We'll tell you all the other Olympic sports of past or present that you might find a little odd.

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WHITFIELD: The Olympic Games are under way and we're still two days away before opening ceremonies. But Team USA women's soccer is playing France right now. The men's and women's soccer tournaments have so many teams and play so many matches that they had to start a day or two early. Soccer matches for the men kickoff tomorrow.

This word from the Olympic officials. An athlete from Greece has been booted from the games. She's a triple jumper, and she is banned from competing after she posted a comment on Twitter that is being called offensive and racist. She has apologized. But, too late, she is out.

There are a few sports that you won't be seeing this summer in London, events that used to be popular.

Let's get to Alex Thomas in London.

Alex, over the decades some sports fell out of favor with the Olympics, like live pigeon shooting. What are some of the others?

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ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Live pigeon shooting is interesting in itself, isn't it?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

THOMAS: Skeet shooting uses clay pigeons. Can you imagine back in 1900, in Paris, they killed 300 birds during the games that year?

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: The games have changed so much. You can probably see the crowds behind me going in for a rehearsal of the closing ceremony, a $40 million production. That's changed down the years. Something like race walking is interesting. With so many events in the Olympics, we think of track and field as being the essence of the games, the modern games.

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WHITFIELD: They are still strut thing their stuff --

THOMAS: -- jumping, throwing.

WHITFIELD: -- in that race walking. THOMAS: They are. Race walking is still going. That still happens. You kind of look athletic but you're not allowed to take both feet off the ground at the same time. You've had so many ridiculous disqualifications down the years. The athletes do look a little funny when they do that little hip wiggle.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But they have --

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WHITFIELD: They have the smallest waist among all athletes out there, so there.

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THOMAS: They're pretty lean, aren't they?

WHITFIELD: Yes, they are.

(LAUGHTER)

What about that solo synchronized swimming? It doesn't seem right.

THOMAS: That's right. The whole point is a team of swimmers synchronizing. Organizers say the synchronized in solo synchronized swimming is synchronizing yourself with the music. They still do it in the sports, but not in the Olympic Games. It debuted in Los Angeles in 1984, and out of favor by 1992.

WHITFIELD: You cannot tell me the tug of war was an Olympic sport.

(LAUGHTER)

Is that true?

THOMAS: That's just crazy. I had to double check that when I knew I was going to speak to you about it. Tug of war, you get that church or village fairs. But, no, sure enough, it was in the Olympic Games until 1920. We might be a fading world power, but, boy, can we pull a rope.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: Team USA had a clean sweep of the medals on home soil in St. Louis back in 1904.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right, Alex. You know you will be watching and the world will be watching track and field. That's one of the most watched-after, the most popular Olympic sports there is. I want to tell you about an Olympian who won his first gold in the 1948 Olympic Games, who happens to be my father. Matt Whitfield is 87 now. He's a bit fragile these days, in a wheelchair, but nothing will stop him from heading to London this weekend, 64 years after winning the 100 meters, 4 by 400 relay and then winning bronze in the 400 meters. My brother and I will be escorting my dad who is so anxious to reunite with a host of other 48ers, as we call them, making the journey across the pond to London.

Dad, along with fellow Olympians from that historic game, are featured this week in "The New York Times" in a beautiful photo gallery. Yu can hear them in their own words as well at NYT.com site. Hear their stories of inspiration and how they, now in their 80s and 90s, continue to keep that Olympic flame burning bright. We'll keep you posted on our journey, which begins this weekend. Can't wait.

Much more of the NEWSROOM continuing right now with my colleague Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Fred, thank you so much. Safe travels to you, by the way.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And I love your father's story.