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THE SITUATION ROOM
Romney's Olympic Gaffe; Opening Ceremony Begins at Olympics; Team Obama Running Scared?; ; Unprecedented Security For Olympics; Olympic Worst Case Scenario; Preventing Another Theater Shooting; Storms Kill Three, Thousands Lose Power; Touch The Screen, Get A Ride
Aired July 27, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney walking on eggshells in London, slammed by British newspapers. And now President Obama is trying to dim Romney's spotlight.
Also, echoes of the Colorado theater shooting in an alleged plot close to Washington. Police arrest a man they say called himself Joker.
Plus, the Olympic opening ceremony just started. We will bring you the first images this hour and reveal who the torchbearer is. You don't have to wait until tonight to find out.
Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Candy Crowley and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's a trip designed to make him look presidential, but the headlines Mitt Romney is generating in London would make any White House cringe. His campaign is doing damage control after British news media seized on a remark Romney made questioning London's readiness for the Olympics.
CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is in London for us.
Jim, what's happening now with Mitt Romney?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, Mitt Romney woke up to headlines he did not anticipate when he embarked on this overseas trip. But his campaign is confident he can clear the next hurdles ahead.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney hit the reset button on his overseas charm offensive. During his lone public meeting of the day in London, he was asked by the leader of Ireland about how he had to walk to the Irish Embassy due to the city's intense pre-Olympics traffic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you had the walk from the hotel.
ACOSTA: Romney's response?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not bad at all. I enjoyed the walk. ACOSTA: Romney is walking on eggshells and eager to please after he was blasted by British leaders for appearing to question London's readiness to host the Olympic Games. Dubbed the party pooper in "The Daily Mail," "Nowhere Man" in "The Times of London," and "Mitt the Twit" in "The Sun," Romney sidestepped the controversy in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": You've been slightly criticized for knocking the British enthusiasm, as if you haven't picked up much enthusiasm. You feeling it now?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm delighted to see the kind of support that has been around the torch, for instance.
ACOSTA: The uproar in London reached its crescendo when the city's mayor taunted Romney in front of 60,000 people at a pregame celebration.
BORIS JOHNSON, LONDON MAYOR: There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. He wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: Romney is also taking heat for disclosing that he visited with the head of Britain's intelligence service, the MI6, a meeting normally kept secret.
ROMNEY: I appreciated the insight and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here, as well as the head of MI6, as we discussed Syria.
ACOSTA: But Romney's top surrogates are brushing off the controversies, seeing openings in the next two legs of his foreign trip, Israel in Poland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government will be in Poland. Poland had the rug pulled out from them on the missile defense.
ACOSTA: President Obama had his own awkward moments in Britain last year when he tried to toast Queen Elizabeth as an orchestra played "God Save the Queen."
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the words of Shakespeare, to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. To the queen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sells papers.
ACOSTA (on camera): It is selling papers here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As for that morning headline hangover, we found Londoners who were willing to cut Romney some royal slack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything in "The Sun" should be taken with a bucket load of salt.
ACOSTA: After he attends the opening ceremonies with his wife, Ann, Mitt Romney's next stop is Israel, where he has a full slate of meetings scheduled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as other Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He also has a foreign policy address, a major one in Jerusalem.
And, Candy, the Romney campaign and the candidate himself have made it very clear he does not plan on criticizing the president on foreign soil, but his trip to Israel has an implicit message the president's policy in the Middle East is not working -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Jim, let me ask you quickly. We saw Londoners, some of them anyway, seem forgiving of the Romney mark. Is there any concern within the Romney campaign that it might hurt him back home? Or is this they're just waiting for the next day to pass?
ACOSTA: You know, so far, Candy, the Romney campaign has not really said much about how he's been received here.
He not only sidestepped that question with Piers Morgan. He also did so on "The Today Show" on NBC. And the campaign was asked about this in private and they kept directing reporters back to what Mitt Romney said at an earlier meeting before he met with David Cameron when he basically said he was confident that the Games would go on without a hitch.
So at this point, Candy, they're sort of pretending it never really happened.
CROWLEY: Probably a good idea. Thanks so much, Jim Acosta in London for us.
Quick footnote here. Wolf is traveling to Israel right now where he will interview Mitt Romney. We will have that for you Monday right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama is doing his best to dim the spotlight on Romney's overseas tour using some of the tools only a president has.
CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin has that part of the story.
Jessica, it's good to be president in an election year.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure, it can be, Candy.
Look, the president, he is far from London. But he is putting in a strong performance when it comes to trying to overshadow Mitt Romney's overseas trip. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
YELLIN (voice-over): The Obama campaign is getting in on the Olympics competition, sending the most popular member of their team to London and spending a whopping $6.5 million during the Summer Games with ads like this.
OBAMA: I believe that the way you grow the economy is from the middle out.
YELLIN: Just one way they're countering Mitt Romney's big European adventure. Romney is taking heat for suggesting London may not be ready for the Games. But the president, he's said to have:
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The utmost confidence in our close friend and ally, the United Kingdom, as they finalize preparations to host the London Olympics.
YELLIN: Hmm. Take that. Romney's next stop? Israel. And guess what? The White House has countered there to, announcing $70 million to support missile defense technology in Israel called the Iron Dome.
OBAMA: We're going to be able to lock in that funding to assure that that program continues and that we are standing by our friends in Israel when it comes to these kinds of attacks.
YELLIN: An election-year offering at a time when pro-Israel voters are worried about the threat of possible attacks from Iran.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: We are both so pleased and so grateful to this president.
REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: This bill is the -- in effect is the manifestation of the president's word.
YELLIN: Then Romney's off to Poland. He's trying to capitalize on tense relations between the two nations after the Obama administration withdrew support for a George W. Bush-era plan for a missile defense system partly based there and did it on an important anniversary in Poland.
OBAMA: I just want to thank you and the people of Poland for the extraordinary welcome that I have received since I arrived.
YELLIN: But the administration has a play there, too. Secretary of Defense Panetta just met with the Polish defense minister, announcing U.S. troops will be stationed in Poland.
YELLIN: Candy, all these moves by the administration also help drown out some bad news on the economy. Today, the Commerce Department announced that the gross domestic product, an overall measure of the larger economy, slowed in the spring down to 1.5 percent.
It needs to be about double of that to really spur hiring. Now, despite that, the White House is predicting that that economic number will jump upwards by the end of the year to 2.6 percent. No doubt all of this will be fodder for the campaign trail, when Mitt Romney gets back from his European trip. But for now, I guess it's mano a mano with the White House countering wherever Mitt Romney goes -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Jessica, how much of this can we say, hey, it is coincidence and how much of this is not at all coincidence?
YELLIN: Some of this had to be planned well in advance. And so the timing happens to be very fortuitous.
But as for something like the ad going up during the Olympics, well, that's definitely calculated by the campaign to be a big splash on a time when many Americans are watching, so that one definitely not coincidence, Candy.
CROWLEY: Jessica Yellin at the White House, thank you.
A court filing by the attorney for Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes reveals that Holmes was a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the massacre. It also states that a suspicious package found in a school mailroom was addressed to that doctor.
Meanwhile, police in Prince George's County, Maryland just outside Washington displayed an impressive arsenal belonging to a man they say threatened to shoot people at his former workplace. He allegedly referred to himself as a Joker, the same nickname Holmes allegedly used.
Our CNN crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, is with us working the story.
What are you finding out, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Candy, file this under the heading threats police are taking very seriously right now.
They think they averted a workplace injury. The person of interest is a 28-year-old man from Crofton, Maryland, who apparently was in the process of getting fired from his job. He worked for a subcontractor who had business with Pitney Bowes. On Monday he made a series of calls that got people thinking about James Holmes, the alleged movie theater shooter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MAGAW, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND, POLICE CHIEF: He made significant threats to coming back and harming people at the business. In fact, he said, "I'm a Joker, and I'm going to load my guns and blow everyone up."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Those calls were reported to police and led to an investigation. When police questioned the suspect, they reported he was wearing a shirt that said: "Guns don't kill people. I do." According to the authorities, those facts together with a number of guns that were registered to the suspect, was enough for police to bring him in -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Did he own all those guns that we saw in that display?
JOHNS: Yes, it was quite a few, wasn't it? It was pretty incredible. The police were a little bit surprised by that. Authorities say they confiscated actually 25 different firearms from this man's apartment, 40 steel boxes of ammunition, an arsenal much larger than the authorities confiscated in the Colorado movie shooting.
Federal authorities say the suspect appears to have purchased these guns legally. He apparently had a state gun collector's license, which meant he could get around a Maryland law that says you can't buy more than one gun a month for certain types of firearms.
We're not releasing this man's name because he hasn't been formally charged. He's 28 years old. There's a court order for him to have a mental evaluation.
CROWLEY: Sounds like at least that's in order. Thank you so much, Joe Johns. Appreciate it.
The London Olympic Games officially started moments ago. You won't see it until later tonight. But we have the first images inside the stadium next.
And one of the most difficult tasks in London, keeping everyone safe. We're talking live with a man who knows that all too well, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
And the cab craze that's sweeping parts of the country, but it's making some people mad in the nation's capital.
CROWLEY: The opening ceremonies are just getting under way for the Summer Olympics.
And if you stay with us, you will know all the highlights before any of your friends, who are waiting for tonight's prime-time replay.
CNN's Alex Thomas is in London's Olympic Park.
Alex, we saw new images of the stadium. What I'm looking at right now looks pretty much like an English country home. Tell us thematically at least, I see sheep. What's going on?
ALEX THOMPSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, if you'd come to me two minutes ago, you'd been absolutely right. But movie director Danny Boyle's $40 million vision for this opening ceremony is a fast paced one. So already the scene behind Olympic stadium has changed from the green and pleasant land, the opening scenes of this opening ceremony to what they're now calling pandemonium. That's the official name in the media notes for this chapter of the opening ceremony. And we have seen vast towers with smoke billowing out of them rising from the floor of the stadium where only going to see the likes of famous track and field athletes take part in their events.
The green and present land has been transformed. And this is representing the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and the rapidly changing globe. It could al go very quiet behind me in a moment as they signal remembrance. And that was the First World War, often referred to as the Great War that had so many casualties.
Yes, the opening ceremonies underway. Very exciting. London welcoming the world after seven years of preparation at a total cost of more than $14 billion, Candy.
CROWLEY: Let me see if I have this correct. The tranquil little farm scene that we saw has now changed over to some sort of march through a little bit of British history which will then be followed by athletes, is that correct?
THOMPSON: Exactly. They're going to bring us right up through the 19th century, 20th century, all of the U.K.'s past to the present. It's gone very quiet, as I warned you now. All the actors, the 10,000 volunteers, a lot from the local area here, this part of east London, traditionally deprived all part of the regeneration process we're seeing poppy fields, the traditional symbol of remembrance in this country.
So, a somber moment. But probably only a brief one. The rest of the opening ceremony as we've got hints from earlier in the week when we heard the rehearsals going to be very upbeat. Lots of U.K. rock music. All sorts of question marks as to who's going to be here. But the U.K.'s famous bands like Rolling Stones, Beatles, the royal family, of course, David Beckham, James Bond, who knows. Some, many, if not al of those celebrities could well appear here this evening, Candy.
CROWLEY: So another big thing always is who's going to take that final torch walk and then put it into the flame that goes on for all of the Olympics? Any hints on that?
THOMPSON: I'll tell you what I heard earlier today that bookmakers were slashing the odds on her majesty the queen herself lighting the Olympic flame. Whether they have a clue or just a flurry of bets from some optimistic punters, I don't know. I think although secrets have leaked out ahead of the opening ceremony, who's going to light that flame has been a very closely guarded secret.
They've been having a social networking campaign with a #savethesurprise. It's been very, very effective so far. The world's media is here, 21,000 of us. That's more than double the number of athletes and yet we've all kept it secret. We've got the notes. We know what's going to happen. But I can't tell you.
CROWLEY: Well, that is just so not fun of you, Alex. Thanks very much. We'll come back to you when you can tell us. I appreciate it. So how do you protect all those volunteers, athletes and fans? It is not easy. We'll dissect the security plan with one of the nation's top cops, New York police commissioner Ray Kelly.
Plus, Katherine Jackson back with her grandchildren. But the drama isn't over.
CROWLEY: Mary Snow is in New York monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
Mary, Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is facing some serious trouble on Wall Street.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Candy. Hello there.
The Dow ended above 13,000 points for the first time since May. Major indices saw more than 1 percent increases overall. Yet, investors aren't liking what they see from Facebook. Shares tumbled on Friday despite Facebook's initial earnings report slightly better than analysts predicts. Shares finished at $23.71 down 12 percent for the day. Worries loom over futures quarter and specifically how the company will make money from its mobile platform.
A deadly showdown could be on the horizon in Syria's largest city after rebel forces say the Assad regime unleashed tanks and helicopters in Aleppo causing what they're calling a horrific massacre. The U.N. secretary general is pleading for the fighting to stop. At least 100 people were killed across Syria today. The opposition also says a Syrian parliamentarian from Aleppo has defected to Turkey, the latest of high Syrian diplomats to flee the country.
Here in the U.S., Katherine Jackson now shares guardianship of Michael Jackson's children. Attorneys say Prince Jackson has agreed to when (ph) his grandmother raised him, his sister Paris and little brother Blanket. T.J. Jackson, Tito's 34-year-old son, will be in charge of day-to-day tasks like managing the house and security. The move comes after Katherine's somewhat mysterious trip to Arizona prompting a missing persons report.
The finally, sisters in Sacramento share a rare intestinal disorder that's made eating impossible for decades. But now Michelle Sayers is on track to eat solid food for the first time since she was 6 years old. UCLA surgeons replaced her intestinal tract that included her stomach, spleen and pancreas. Her sister Melinda is hoping to undergo the same surgery very soon.
Really amazing, Candy.
CROWLEY: Wow. That is amazing. Thanks so much, Mary Snow. Appreciate it.
CROWLEY: Prominent Republicans are weighing in on the Republican veepstakesM including Rudy Giuliani. We'll talk about his pick for Mitt Romney's running mate in strategy session with Donna Brazile and Erick Erickson.
Plus, killer storms tear across the Northeast. We're now learning they spawned at least three tornadoes.
CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley. Here are some stories we're working on for our next hour.
Why Mitt Romney's trip to Israel is more about attracting Christian evangelicals than Jewish voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich will go head-to-head on which party has the quickest fix for the economy.
Plus, the story of a family that's literally living on the brink.
Standby. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
CROWLEY: Joining me for today's strategy session, our CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile, and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, editor and chief of RedState.com.
Erick, first to you, let me just take off a couple things that Jessica Yellin reported to us at the top of the hour. Team Obama is running major ads during the Olympics. Michelle Obama is over in London. The president signed a U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. And Defense Secretary Panetta visited Poland to discuss missile defense. All of these happen to be places that Mitt Romney is going on his trip, London, Israel -- England, Israel, Poland.
This cannot be a coincidence. How do you interpret that? Is this campaign as usual? Do you think the Romney campaign looks like it's running a little scared? Interpret this for me.
ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: Well, you know, actually I think it's smart politics by the president. It is politics. He does want to highlight while Romney's going to those areas where the Romney campaign wanted to argue the president has not treated these particular allies as well as he should have.
I would agree with Romney. But it's good politics. And it's an advantage of having the White House in play this time for Barack Obama. Remember, he too went on a foreign trip in 2008. And while the Republicans may have had the White House, neither the president nor the vice president were running for anything. And the Bush White House didn't game this the way the Obama campaign is.
And, you know, for my Republican friends out there, I support Mitt Romney going on the trip, but it's pretty savvy politics for the president to do it.
CROWLEY: So, Donna, I think though if I were a consultant and we've talked endlessly for a year about how this is all about the economy, I might take this advantage when my opponent is overseas at the Olympics and talking to Israeli officials to say, by the way, I'm home here talking about your job and your economy instead of this.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, President Obama is talking about jobs and the economy. He talks about it each and every day. And as you know he was just here recently speaking to the National Urban League and he highlighted the economy and the things he's doing to try to continue to turn this economy around.
But look, I want to say this is also good public policy. As you know, Secretary Hillary Clinton was in Israel two weeks ago, under secretary, national security advisor and Mr. Panetta will be in Israel on Monday.
This is a very important time with Israel with so much tension unfolding in the Middle East when Syria and Iran and Turkey, I think it's important that the administration is there on the ground regardless if Mitt Romney has decided to, you know, go and take a little summer hiatus to those wonderful countries.
CROWLEY: This is my first turn to be able -- go ahead, Erick, finish up.
ERICKSON: Well, you know, you would think the Romney campaign -- I realize why they wanted to go, but they might have been smart to wait and go tomorrow after the opening ceremonies because of the GDP numbers coming out today.
To Donna's point and your point on the economy, more people went on disability and Social Security last month than went into private sector jobs. It would do the Republican nominee to be stateside for those numbers before going overseas. They might have thought about the timing before they went.
CROWLEY: Timing is all in life and politics -- Donna, let me move you to another subject. I haven't had a chance to talk to you all about the veepstakes with Mitt Romney.
We're getting down -- sooner or later he's going to have to announce who it is. We've heard from prominent Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner said he would like to see Rob Portman who, of course, is from Ohio as is Boehner. And today former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani chimed in with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: I think Marco Rubio would be the best choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
GIULIANI: I think he's the most exciting. I think the concentration on what he can do with the Hispanic vote is a little narrow. I think, yes, he'll help with the Hispanic vote. But he'll help with young people too. He's of a different generation. He makes outreach much more possible to younger people, people in their 30s where Republican Party has a little bit of a deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, Donna, come on in and join in with this. Marco Rubio, Portman, who do you think would be the best choice for Mitt Romney?
BRAZILE: You know, Tim Pawlenty, John Thune --
CROWLEY: Pick one.
BRAZILE: I don't have a favorite in this ball game.
CROWLEY: Who would he be smart to pick?
BRAZILE: I think there's a problem with number one. Look, I think Tim Pawlenty would be a great target for Mitt Romney because he's out there. He's been vetted a little bit in the public.
The last thing Mitt Romney needs right now is another candidate out there who has not been properly vetted and we might request to see things that Mitt Romney himself will not give up.
CROWLEY: Erick, and Pawlenty always brings with him a blue collar background. He does very well in middle class and places where sometimes Romney does not always do well. But if you had to pick between those names that are out there, pick a favorite for me?
ERICKSON: I would say I've thought for a long time he would wind up picking Bob McDonald whether he's my favorite or not. I think that makes sense for him in Virginia.
I would also keep an eye on Bobby Jindal just given his background. He's actually younger than Marco Rubio and has the executive experience. We know Romney has said he wanted someone with executive experience.
I like Pawlenty, but what does he get you? You're probably not going to win Minnesota anyway. You can get someone else blue collar and didn't have the staying power in the presidential campaign.
CROWLEY: Erick Erickson, Donna Brazile, I have to end it there. But come back and we'll talk about it when someone else brings up a name we haven't heard of yet. I appreciate it you all.
BRAZILE: Candy Crowley for vice president, yes.
CROWLEY: No thanks. I've seen it.
ERICKSON: There you go.
CROWLEY: Thanks you guys.
Extraordinary security measures at the London Olympics. We're going to talk about them with New York City's police commissioner. He's at the Security Conference right now in Aspen, Colorado.
Coming up in our next hour, we're live on the ground in Syria where the latest reports of what's being called a horrific massacre in the country's commercial capital.
CROWLEY: Hundreds of thousands of Olympic fans, thousands of troops on the ground in London along with hundreds of surveillance cameras. Is it enough to keep London safe? Ray Kelly joins me live next.
CROWLEY: The biggest challenge during the Olympics will be keeping terrorists out and everyone else safe. CNN's Dan Rivers is walking the streets of London for us checking out Olympic security.
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Candy, there is a very high security presence throughout Central London. It's really unprecedented. They've got 950,000 extra cops on the beat her on top of the 30,000 police London ordinarily in addition to that some 5,000 or 6,000 some private security guards.
And more than 18,000 soldiers have also been mobilized. Some of them guarding the Olympic venues themselves, the Olympic village and stadiums and so on. Some of them though filling in the gaps where the private security guards were unable to provide.
Put it all together combined with the extensive network of closed circuit televisions cops have in London anyway and they've added another 8,000 cameras on top of the 12,000 they had.
Put all that together and basically the government is saying that is an incredibly robust security package, which they feel gives the games the greatest chance of being safe and secure.
Of course they can't prevent everything happening. There is a risk, of course, of a terrorist attack. But they feel that they have put enough pieces of the jigsaw in place to counter most threats -- Candy.
CROWLEY: I want to get more on Olympic security now with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. He joins us from Colorado where he's taking part in the Aspen Security Forum.
Commissioner, you're in charge of another one of the world's largest cities. You have had lots of large events in New York. As you look at security in London, if you're in charge, what's your worst fear here?
RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, first, let me say, Candy, I visited London about a month ago to delegation from the NYPD. We met with Commissioner Hall with Chris Allison and a whole host of other officials and gave us a very comprehensive brief.
And I think they've done an excellent job. I believe things will go well. But as was said in your setup piece, you can't predict everything. So, you know, I think you have to prepare for the worst.
Perhaps multiple events are something that would really test the system. But I think they've done everything they've reasonably can do to protect the games and protect the city of London.
CROWLEY: Is a part of this a show of force? As opposed to necessarily having everything covered? Just so that someone looks at it and all they see are police and planes flying overhead. So is part of it just to show that you're there?
KELLY: Sure. You know, it's all about deterrence. It's all about prevention. And presence is what's going to do a large part of that. Also, there are things of course that the public won't see.
We met with MI-5. They have a very comprehensive and thorough program as well. So, yes, it's a little bit of a show, but it really is, I think, tremendous substance here as well.
CROWLEY: Let me turn your attention to Aurora, Colorado, and the things that are happening in the wake of it. Just today in Prince George's County, Maryland, I don't know if you're familiar with it, it's right outside D.C., police arrested a man who had quite a big arsenal with him.
He said I'm a Joker and I'm going to load my guns and blow everyone up. In the wake of something that got as much publicity as Aurora did, did as much damage as Aurora did, how big a concern are these copycats?
KELLY: Well, they are a concern. And one of the things we did in New York was to post uniform officers at all 40 theatres showing the movie. But copycats are something that we'll see -- at least people will claim the possibility of it after high profile events.
It is unfortunately sort of standard fair and this individual was apparently going to lose his job or threaten to lose his job. And you'll see these sorts of threats surface in those types of situations. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life in law enforcement.
CROWLEY: When is the call made to -- and you're right, New York went out to all the theatres around, show of force again in protecting those in the wake of Aurora, but at some point that's not where you should be putting your officers, is it? When do you make that call?
KELLY: Well, we look at it on a day-to-day basis. We have to make these assessments everyday as to where we put our resources. We look at a variety of things. If there's any intelligence information, we know that the movie is extremely popular.
We know it sold out now at least up until today. So we're going to keep our resources in place for this weekend. We'll make judgments as we enter next week.
CROWLEY: In some ways is there anything to be post-Aurora other than reactive? Because certainly there are lots of soft targets that these lone gunmen can go to other than theatres.
So understand the need to go to those theatres because obviously they're copycats. That would be in their head. But aren't there so many other soft targets that it's nearly impossible through mere police presence to stop this kind of thing?
KELLY: Well, that's true. I do want to say that the Aurora police responded very well. They were there quickly. That's one of the basic tenants now we follow when we have active shooter situation.
But an event like this, it's just extremely difficult to prevent when you have over a minimum of the 200 million guns in the United States, you have a population of over 300 million people, a percentage of which are going to be unbalanced and certainly mentally challenged.
These events unfortunately are inevitable. You do what you can to identify individuals, which was done in Maryland. But obviously this person, James Holmes, was just not on anybody's radar screen. He got his guns through the normal process.
Now, you might say hindsight is 20/20 when I look at somebody amass 6,000 rounds of ammunition. Maybe going forward that would arouse suspicions with the ammunition suppliers and they would call a law enforcement entity.
We have an operation in New York where we go out and meet with a variety of businesses to just put them on alert. Ask them if they see anything of a suspicious nature to call us.
But we actually physically visit these types of businesses. So perhaps that's the type of program that may be effective in other areas. Hopefully, it's effective in New York right now.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you about a particular law in New York City right now stop and frisk. You know detractors of it have said that police unfairly target minorities, blacks and Latinos.
Police say, look, it helps us keep the city safe. The ACLU says you're eroding trust when you do these sorts of stop and frisks with folks who may just go out and buy a gun because they no longer trust the police.
Do you worry about that? And do you see a way that the practice could be changed that might address some of these concerns?
KELLY: Sure we worry about it, but I want to tell you that it is a tool. It is a life-saving tool. New York City has the lowest murder rate of any major city in America. We're very proud of that.
I think it's a product of pro-active policing. And stop and question and sometimes frisk is one of the tools we use. Every police jurisdiction in America it goes way back to common law. We can understand that people don't like to be stopped.
Don't like to at the very least lose their time, but we think it is effective. And we see, you know, in every city in America certainly every major city we still see so many young people with access to guns.
And that's who's getting killed on the streets of our cities, young people, usually young people of color, quite frankly. We think our tactics and strategies are working. Stop, question and frisk is not to be end all by any means.
KELLY: We do many other things, right? We're working to make certain to treat them with courtesy, dignity and respect.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, thanks for your time today.
KELLY: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Killer storms sweep through the northeast. We're learning new details about multiple tornadoes.
Plus, a house on the edge of disaster moving closer to the brink with every passing hour.
CROWLEY: The country's latest outbreak of severe storms left at least three people dead and tens of thousands without power in Pennsylvania and New York State.
Meteorologist Alexandra Steel is in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Alexandra, it seems to a lot of people that this is a crazy and deadly sort of series of storms we've had. What happened here?
ALEXADRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Candy, you know, the vernacular derecho now once again we've seen one. What we saw yesterday beginning about 2:00 a serial derecho, a widespread damaging wind storm.
So I want to show you this is radar yesterday at 2:00. Now, watch this line. Here it is from Detroit. It really went from Ohio all the way to New York City, kind of held together for 400 miles.
So an incredibly potent one and you can see this is where it was. Now, the northern tip of this kind of the northern line really had the most ferocious winds and impact. We now have three reports of tornadoes.
National Weather Service went out and assessed the damage today. Two in Pennsylvania, one in New York and it was right here along the New York State/Pennsylvania border. Now one of them an EF-1, maximum sustained winds 110 miles per hour near Elmira, New York.
And believe it or not, it was the first tornado reported in 2012 this year in New York State. It was on the ground for ten miles, the second an EF-1 near Montross, Pennsylvania and the third is in (inaudible) Pennsylvania as well. So you can see incredible amount of damage reports. It went 400 miles and we had at least 300 severe weather reports with it. This is the current radar picture. Today, certainly not the severity of what we saw yesterday, the ingredients kind of still in place. This is a new cold front coming in.
Moisture is still in the atmosphere. Now we have two severe thunderstorm watch boxes. One for Ohio so it's really Ohio, Tennessee Valley and in Virginia posted through 11:00 and 10:00 tonight.
So the biggest threats today, isolated tornado perhaps, but from Cincinnati including Washington, Norfolk, Raleigh, damaging winds and hail. Those are really the biggest pictures with this -- Candy.
CROWLEY: So while we see all the storms in the northeast, basically the rest of the nation's just in severe drought at the very least.
STEELE: That's right, absolutely, the worst drought kind of historic no question about it. I mean, we have seen some rain. We saw an inch or two inches with some of the locally heavy downpours.
But certainly they are few and far between. This is the current drought map and they're really the colors to be mindful of, these orange and especially these dark exceptional orange. We've talked so much about Indiana, of course, the corn and the soybeans.
You can see in Indiana look where we are in terms of where we were last year and how bad it's been. And take a look. This darkest red now really with the latest drought picture has gotten more severe.
And almost 20 percent of the state in this exceptional drought, and you know, looking, candy, at the forecast, hot, dry weather conditions continuing and little rain as well so not a lot of pattern change.
CROWLEY: Like I said, crazy weather. Thanks so much, Alexandra Steele. Appreciate it.
STEELE: You're welcome.
CROWLEY: Ahead in the 5:00 p.m. Eastern Hour, a report from an important Syrian city that's become a ghost town amid reports of a new massacre.
CROWLEY: It's the latest smartphone craze getting people around town, but not everyone's happy about it. Here's Dan Simon in San Francisco.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, a San Francisco technology company called "Uber" is altering the transportation industry with its innovative way to get a ride.
We spoke with the company's CEO about the growing phenomenon and the controversy it's generated in the nation's capital.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SIMON (voice-over): With one touch of the screen you can get a car to pick you up. It's called "Uber," a smartphone app that is fundamentally changing how people get around.
The price 50 percent to 70 percent more than a regular taxi, a price many are happily willing to pay. No cash needed. No tip and you are billed automatically.
TRAVIS KALANICK, CEO, UBER: It's a really elegant experience, right? You push a button on your iPhone or your android device or even SMS and in 5 minutes a town car arrives. Doors open for you and you get in the car.
SIMON: Travis Kalanick is the tech wizard who dreamed up the concept. "Uber" doesn't own the cars. It works with existing limo companies and gets a cut of the proceeds.
(on camera): As an entrepreneur, did you ever think you would be running a car service?
KALANICK: Absolutely not. It was for me, my co-founder and our hundred friends to be able to push a button and an s-class Mercedes rolls up. That was it, right, but everybody wanted it.
SIMON (voice-over): CNN covered "Uber" shortly after it launched two years ago. Back then it was only in San Francisco and quickly gained a following. Now it's in 13 cities including the nation's capital where "Uber" was an instant hit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Uber" is fantastic, efficient, and affordable.
KALANICK: Nancy Pelosi referred to "Uber" as a magic carpet ride.
SIMON: But technology and D.C. politics have met a serious clash. Washington is a taxi town and the drivers feel threatened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy that owns "Uber" lives in San Francisco, California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to cost me money, number one. Number two, I feel like I'm going to lose my job.
SIMON: The powerful taxi cab lobby got the city council two weeks ago to consider a measure that would have forced "Uber" to set the minimum fare for a ride five times higher than that of taxis. Consumers went ballistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've received over 5,000 e-mails from people who use this service.
SIMON: The council backed down and will let "Uber" stay the way it is at least until December, but the controversy exposed an age-old problem. Technology advances don't benefit everyone. Should consumers be forced to pay a price so the earnings of some workers won't be adversely affected? In D.C., the answer for now is a resounding, No. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SIMON (on-camera): As this technology becomes more pervasive, it's likely to impact other industries. Case and point, another San Francisco company called Cherry, it offers on-demand car washes, the car wash comes to you. Probably not great for the traditional car wash business but an added convenience for consumers -- Candy.