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New Airstrikes Against ISIS Positions in Iraq; New GOP Poll Puts Dr. Carson Out Front. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 24, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:25] JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: We are staying on top of some breaking news for you this morning. Some dangerous flood conditions across Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas have claimed the life of a firefighter who was killed early this morning while trying to rescue people trapped by high water in Claremore, Oklahoma. Evacuations are under way this morning in several Oklahoma and Texas communities.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And Cleveland's mayor and police chief are going to be holding a news conference in about an hour and a half, 9:00 a.m. Eastern this morning. This, of course, as the city appears calmer following a night of protests and what police say were multiple arrests.

You see here how demonstrators were facing off against police in riot gear. This is last night, after a judge acquitted Officer Michael Brelo in the death of an unarmed couple.

JOHNS: New this morning, Iraqi forces are striking back at ISIS, launching new airstrikes at ISIS targets at Anbar province. This is as the terror group tries to march to Baghdad, which is about an hour away from where ISIS militants and Iraqi forces have been fighting all weekend.

Let's go over to senior international correspondent Arwa Damon in Baghdad.

Arwa, is ISIS any closer to the air base where the U.S. advisers have been located?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. The area where this fighting is happening is well to the south of the air base where the advisers have been in the past, that would be the al Assad air base. The fighting is extra around a military installation that is located between Ramadi and Fallujah, both under ISIS control.

And in the last 24 hours, the Iraqi army unit backed by the popular mobilization units, the Iranian supported Shia paramilitary force, have managed to push ISIS slightly back toward their stronghold of Ramadi. They are also now actively or more active than they have in the past, employing the support of the Sunni tribe in the area and having them hold ground to try to prevent ISIS from circling back. Many were quite taken back by the fact that ISIS, after it took over

Ramadi, did quickly push through some small towns in the area, but now, we are being told that those smaller towns are back in the control of the forces loyal to the Iraqi government. But they still need, as they do along many of these front lines, more support, more manpower and better weaponry.

And it's important to note that even though a lot of the focus is on these various front lines with ISIS, there is still violence that happens elsewhere in the country. Perhaps it is part of the ISIS campaign to try to create diversions or create more tensions between the Sunni and Shia populations. But either way, just a short while ago, we received numerous reports that at least two car bombs went off in the city of Baqubah, that's to the north of Baghdad, killing one person, wounding another seven others. Those are the initial reports.

But additionally, the Iraqi security forces there found two more car bombs in a series of IEDs they managed to diffuse. These were all in predominantly Shia neighborhoods, and, of course, the concern isn't all that those sectarian tensions are already pretty high in this country, could be aggravated once again.

JOHNS: Arwa Damon in Baghdad, thank you so much for that.

PAUL: So let's bring in Lieutenant General Mark Hertling here.

General, you just heard that report of the car bombs. How secure do you believe this base is, first of all, where we know that U.S. advisers and some weaponry are held, on its way on the path to Baghdad?

[07:30:08] LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think al Asad air base is secure, Christi, but what's concerning is the continued assaults in the areas around both Ramadi and Fallujah are going to threaten the lines of communication, the supply lines from Baghdad to that base.

I don't think we will see any challenges there, but as Arwa says, we are going to see continued assaults in various areas. While the focus has remained on Ramadi and Fallujah and the Anbar province, there is also continuing conflicts in Baiji, in western Diyala province, and what's called the Baghdad belt, and what's unreported, truthfully, is the number of car bombs that are happening in both Baghdad and as Arwa reporting Baqubah, which is just north of Baghdad.

PAUL: We keep hearing people say, they won't take Baghdad, they won't take Baghdad. But people were saying they wouldn't take other places that they have now taken.

So, when you look at Baghdad and you understand that city so much better than most of us do, help us understand how fortified is that city? And what is the risk of it falling, truly?

HERTLING: Well, I will never say never. I learned that a long time ago whenever you're talking about conflict, all sorts of things could happen. But Baghdad is a very secure city. They have -- the majority of the

population is Shia. They have the vast majority of the Iraqi security forces are stationed in and around Baghdad, and there are great defense around the city.

So I think a march by ISIS on the city, I don't see that occurring. But you never know. And I think you're going to see continued fighting, not only in an around the Baghdad belts as we used to call them, but also this fight in Anbar process is going to go on as we mentioned last weekend, it's going to go on for weeks, if not months.

PAUL: So what about the Iraqi forces? You mentioned this perimeter that Iraqi forces have around Baghdad, but they have not proven to be strong, certainly not in Ramadi mostly as of late because they are running essentially from ISIS.

HERTLING: Yes, I'll share a different narrative on that, Christie. I think, in fact, when you look at what has been happening in Ramadi, the Iraqi security forces have been fighting there. They have been in pitch battle for over a year now. They are exhausted.

A bunch of things led to the fall of Ramadi earlier this week, and it had to do with not only the exhaustion of the Iraqi security force but a continued lack of support from the government, and some weather conditions out there. So, you had literally a perfect storm that contributed to ISIS advancing and conducting attacks into that city.

But as Arwa reported, you're now going to see counterattacks by both the Iraqi security forces and the tribal elements in Anbar, and that's going to be a very powerful force if we can get those connected.

PAUL: All righty. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always appreciate your insight. Thank you for being here.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Sure.


JOHNS: Christi, coming up, we're going to have more on a disturbing story we have been looking at all weekend about one of the scariest places for a child, the dentist office. Now, a Florida dentist is closing his doors and giving up his license as he denies horrific claims of abuse for his patients.

But is closing up shop enough for these patients? We will talk to an important to some of them coming up next.


[07:42:03] PAUL: You know, he has been called a nightmare dentist. A Florida dentist accused of abusing his young patients. We are talking about pulling out healthy teeth, performing unwarranted and painful procedures on kids that did not need them. Those are the accusations.

CNN spoke with one mom whose daughter went in for what should have been a simple procedure.


BRANDI MOTLEY, DAUGHTER TREATED BY DR. SCHNEIDER: The nurse suggested that it's best that kids act better when the parents aren't in the room. They said we don't like parents back here for the procedures.

Finally, the nurse came and got me and said there had been an incident. She was hyperventilating. She had marks all over her and blood all over her. In the parking lot she takes her gauze out and I noticed all of her teeth were gone.


PAUL: Oh, my gosh!

Dr. Howard Schneider, the dentist of hurting young Brielle (ph) and so many others, had given up his medical license voluntarily. He closed up his Jacksonville office and now, he's facing multiple lawsuits.

Let's talk about this with attorney John Phillips, because John is representing some of the alleged victims in this case.

John, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

Let me talk to you about Brandi Motley and her daughter whom we just heard about there. We know that you are representing them.

Help us understand what these families are going through right now still.

JOHN PHILLIPS, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED VICTIM OF DR. SCHNEIDER: It's -- it's awful. You know? There -- we have had people come out in their 30s and 40s who still remember treating with Dr. Schneider and still have emotional trauma.

PAUL: What?

PHILLIPS: Yes. Absolutely. He has been doing this for 45 years.

There's, you know, on top of dealing with the emotional trauma, there are simple things like eating and speaking and, you know, poor Brielle had all of her front teeth, I think seven or eight, ripped out when they said only one with a problem and she didn't have any pain. So, it's outrageous!

PAUL: OK. So we understand he is under investigation by the state attorney general. He didn't just shut down his office. He gave the Florida Department of Health a voluntary relinquishment of his license.

So, I'm looking at this and thinking from the public view the fact he just relinquished everything seems incriminating to him. From a legal view, does that play in?

PHILLIPS: It probably wouldn't come in in court. I know it wouldn't come in in court. But certainly it is a step in the right direction. The protesters were out there the first couple of weeks, all of these moms. It was kind of a beautiful sight.

And they let other people know what was going on inside this clinic, which then shut down his practice and, you know, some would say he really had no choice at that point in time when you got the board of health and the attorney general and the local police breathing down your neck. You know, by turning in your license, when you're not getting clients anyway, that's one less investigation you have to go through.

PAUL: Is it safe to say a fear because he relinquished his license and it might be closed that that is the end of it, that he won't have to have any other repercussion?

[07:45:01] PHILLIPS: No. That's certainly -- I mean, it's always a fear. You know, any -- when you're dealing with this, this is kind of an unprecedented case. That this happens all over the world, particularly in America, particularly with Medicaid abuse being so rampant, this isn't just in Jacksonville, Florida where these dentists are getting paid by the tooth and are strapping these kids down and pulling more teeth than is necessary.

So, we need to create awareness to keep pressure because this isn't an isolated incident.

PAUL: So, in this specific case, though, since this is what you're working with, what are the potential punishments for the doctor?

PHILLIPS: Oh, goodness. They are looking at it from a Medicaid fraud prospective, from a child abuse prospective. There are some other affiliated criminal statutes in play, but it would be felonious. You know, the charges potentially would be a felony and somebody of Dr. Schneider's age would certainly be facing, you know, life in prison by the fact that he is 80 something years old.

PAUL: All right. Hey, John Phillips, thank you so much for bringing us the latest and our best to those families. Thank you for sticking with us because we will keep up with this one.

PHILLIPS: Yes, absolutely. See you, Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Thank you. John Philips, we appreciate it.


JOHNS: Christi, coming up, we are asking the question is it a shake- up in the GOP? Dr. Ben Carson is coming out strong in a new poll. Do Republicans have a new lead in the race for the White House?

We'll ask senior CNN political reporter coming up next.


[07:50:10] JOHNS: After something that happened over the weekend, you may be wondering if there is not a new leader among conservatives in the race for the White House. Dr. Ben Carson took the spot in the new Republican straw poll out this weekend. Carson took 25 percent of the vote at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, leading the pack of nearly 20 candidates.

Runner ups Governor Scott Walker came in with 20 percent of the vote, followed by Senator Ted Cruz with 16 percent.

So, does this mean there's a new Republican frontrunner?

Let's bring in CNN senior politics reporter Stephen Collinson.

So, Stephen, does this mean Dr. Carson is the one to beat, or does it say something about the ones that decided not to get in the race there?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right. In a way, you know, both of those statements could be true. Historically, the straw polls are not particularly good indicators of who goes on to win a nomination, you know, and who wins the presidency?

But it's a good result for Dr. Carson for a couple of reasons. The first is he is not a professional politician. This is his first shot at running for president, and it shows his campaign has the organizational muscle to go into one of these big conferences where conservatives gather and organize and get into the polls and win one of these straw polls.

And the other thing is that it confirms that he is a real contender for the social conservative and evangelical vote in this election. He's going to be competing for that, with guys like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker to some extent perhaps even Rick Santorum who was a candidate last time around who was getting into the race this week.

So, that is an important indicator of the fact that Ben Carson, he may not be a top tier contender right now, but somewhere like the Southern states, it will be important later in the race, and Iowa, where evangelicals are a key voting bloc, he is going to be a real competitor.

JOHNS: So, what does it mean when you have Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio falling off in the SRLC poll?

COLLINSON: Well, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio didn't really compete in this. There's not much in it for them at this stage, they are top tier candidates. You know, if they had organized and come out, you know, very low down in the poll, it would be a reverse for them.

So, they're going to start concentrating on these Southern states later in the nomination process, when we have gone through Iowa and New Hampshire.

So, there was not much in it for them here, and that does not mean they will not court evangelical and socially conservative voters, but I think we're much more likely to see them do that in places like Iowa at this stage of the race rather than elsewhere.

JOHNS: What is it that gives Ben Carson the ability to connect with some social conservatives?

COLLINSON: Right. You know, it's interesting. You speak to people at these events and he is very charismatic. You know, I mentioned, he is not a politician. He is a very talented retired neurosurgeon, and he had a nonpolitical sort of capital going for him, and people are attracted to him because he san outsider, and he says things that Washington politicians often don't say. You know, he's not an elected official. He doesn't have to worry about saying something that could come back to haunt him.

So, he is a real insurgent and he's a real talented speaker. You know, he almost has a preaching style. He's very charismatic, and people listen to him and connect with him.

JOHNS: Stephen Collinson, thanks so much for that.



PAUL: Well, they did not deserve to die. Those are the words coming from Michelle Russell, just hours after learning that a Cleveland cop had been acquitted in the killing of her brother. In our next hour, we're talking to Michelle live, we're going to see how her family is attempting to move forward following this verdict.


[07:57:49] PAUL: So, studying to become a doctor. Tough task, you think, right? Well, imagine doing so without the ability to hear the world around you.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is introducing us now to one of the United States' first deaf physicians.


DR. PHILIP ZAZOVE: Open your mouth.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Philip Zazove always knew he wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps by becoming a doctor.

ZAZOVE: Bend your knees, please?

GUPTA: Despite his hearing loss.

ZAZOVE: When I was about four, the expert told my parents that I would be lucky to be able to be a janitor.

GUPTA: Dr. Zazove's parents pushed back and they placed him in public school where few special accommodations were given to deaf students.

ZAZOVE: We are talking about 1955. The teacher would say, oh, no way can I have a deaf kid in my class," and my parents would have to insist. GUPTA: Bullying became another obstacle.

ZAZOVE: Some kinds who would speak with their mouth behind their hands.

GUPTA: But Dr. Zazove persevered and went on to medical school. He worked twice as hard to keep up with his hearing classmates.

ZAZOVE: I probably spent a lot more time reading and rereading the material. I never doubted myself.

GUPTA: Today, the husband and father of two is department chair of family medicine at the University of Michigan.

ZAZOVE: Many patients don't even know I have a hearing loss. They just think I'm born someplace else and have an accent.

GUPTA: He also inspires others like him to pursue careers in medicine.

DR. MICHAEL M. MCKEE, FAMILY MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Seeing people that are successful is always a help for all of us that may have a little bit of a struggle.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


PAUL: That's the kind of story I like to hear about.

JOHNS: Absolutely, just amazing.

PAUL: I know.

All righty. Hey, thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

JOHNS: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.