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New Questions Today About A U.S. Diplomat Killed In Sudan; African Nation Gripped By Spreading Post Election Violence; A Major Fire Strikes Out At A London Hospital; Last Ditch Attempt to Sway Iowans

Aired January 02, 2008 - 09:00   ET


FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, ANCHOR: All right, Karen. John, have a great day. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning, everyone. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Tony and Heidi are off today. Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live this Wednesday, January 2nd. Here is what is on the rundown right now.
Cold candidates hoping to warm up to voters. The final day on the campaign trail in frigid Iowa.

Heavy snow from the Midwest to Appalachian to New England. January belts out a blast of winter.

And the murder rate surging again in New Orleans in 2007, behind the statistics in the NEWSROOM.

Just hours now left in the caucus countdown. The last full day of campaigning before the first votes of the presidential race. We begin with the Republicans and Dana Bash, part of the best political team on television.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the frenzied steps of a campaign in search of every last vote.

MATT, CAMPAIGNER FOR MITT ROMNEY: Hi, I'm Matt with the Mitt Romney campaign. How are you doing?


MATT: I'm just here to remind you about the caucus.

BASH: Door-to-door by snow and headquarters by phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also want to remind you of your caucus location.

UNIDENTIFIDE MALE: Do you know of anyone you could bring with you, friends or family?

BASH: Only about 100,000 Iowa Republicans actually caucus so every vote really does count.

GENTRY COLLINS, CAMPAIGNER FOR MITT ROMNEY: What we're doing now is we're trying to make sure that all of those supporters know how to caucus and when to caucus and where to caucus.

BASH: Mitt Romney's well-funded organization is now going back to every probable voter.

BASH (on camera): How many voters are in your database?

COLLINS: Hopefully enough.

BASH: What is enough?

COLLINS: You know, one more than the next guy.

BASH (voice-over): That other guy, Mike Huckabee is still feverishly signing up supporters at events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They signed making a commitment. We are going to call them and remind them to come and show up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason for my call is to see if Governor Huckabee can count on your support and vote at our caucus on January 3rd.

BASH: Huckabee's campaign is working the phones, too, but relying heavily on home-schoolers and Evangelicals to rally friends, even first-time caucus-goers.

TROY KNIGHT, MIKE HUCKABEE CAMPAIGNER: I've been involved at lot more politically in the last year than I have in the past.

BASH: But for all the hard work, the x-factor is this.

BRENDA SAMBURG, UNDECIDED VOTER: I just don't feel really passionate about any one candidate. BASH: Nearly half of GOP voters are undecided.

BASH (on camera): Do you think you might just walk in to your caucus location on Thursday night and just decide then?

SAMBURG: It's possible. It's possible. It's also possible that I just won't go to the caucus.

BASH (voice-over): Still, each call could help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will vote for Huckabee? All right. Thank you for your time, sir. All right, I got a yes!


BASH (on camera): Now, I'm here in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Right behind me, you see The Podium. Mike Huckabee is going to be here momentarily to give one of his last closing arguments to the voters here and essentially what he is trying to do and it really could be a phenomenon. We're going to have to wait and see, Fredericka, but I was just talking to a senior advisor to Mike Huckabee. And, they realize even now they are relying on an unknown. You saw there in the piece, they are relying on passion from the Evangelical community, from home-schoolers, from many people who simply have not caucused before and it's very hard for them to measure exactly how many of them will actually get out and caucus.

That is a really different strategy from what we're seeing on Mitt Romney's side. They are -- they do have a sort of scientific way of gauging how many people at least have said originally they are going to support Mitt Romney so that is why they are really trying to go back and get those voters. So, what we're going to hear from both of these candidates throughout the day today and even tomorrow morning is that one final push, that one final pitch to try to seal the deal, not just with those who are really passionate to get them to go out and get their friends, but with those undecided voters. It is really unclear how this is going to go because that percentage is so incredibly high. Fifty percent of Republicans still say they have no idea how they're going to vote.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that is remarkable. Dana, in the final push you're talking about, for Mike Huckabee, he is not going to be spending the evening in Iowa. Instead he is on going to be on "The Tonight Show". Why does he feel that is much more advantageous than spending the last night in Iowa?

BASH: You know, it's interesting. We asked him about that yesterday. You know, he said basically because he can. You know, he felt he had an opportunity to be on national television to really get his message out to show his personality, that is something he believes has served him well. You know, it will be interesting to watch if that helps him down the road and whether or not it will help him really will depend on how he does tomorrow night. Here is why, Fredericka.

His history shows that long shots, people who aren't supposed to do well, if they don't actually get a first place win, then second place really isn't good enough. They kind of lose their momentum. He is hoping he gets the momentum and exposure like "The Tonight Show" will help propel him if he does here well in the other states following -- New Hampshire, South Carolina, and beyond. It certainly is a risk to leave Iowa but he thinks it's a risk worth taking clearly.

WHITFIELD: All right, Dana Bash, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, part of the best political team on television. Thank you so much.

Well, the duel among Democrats going down to the wire in Iowa as well. Hillary Clinton is battling it out with Barack Obama and John Edwards. He is running a strong third now, we hear. The latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll gives Clinton the edge but the "Des Moines Register" newspaper poll, puts Obama in the lead.

Earlier, on CNN's "American Morning", our Jessica Yellin talked about the role of independents in the poll. We'll have much more on the Democrats and from Jessica Yellin, as well, and the entire race throughout the morning. The Iowa caucuses -- just a day away. The New Hampshire Primary, five days after that. And we have some new poll numbers from New Hampshire area this morning, as well. They show Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney tied at 29 percent. Rudy Giuliani is at 12 percent with Mike Huckabee at 10. The CNN-WMUR poll was conducted by the University of New Hampshire. On the Democratic side, it's Hillary Clinton at 34 percent, Barack Obama at 30 percent, and John Edwards at 17, and keep in mind, about a quarter of voters in both parties say they have not made up their minds.

Want the most up-to-the-minute political news anywhere available? is your one-stop shop. It's the internet's premier destination for political news: That's a reminder there.

Well, out of the campaign spotlight.


UNIDENTIFIED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Some say I thought more about how to be president than how to get elected president. I'm trying to rectify that.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Democratic underdogs -- do they have a chance against the big dogs? (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD (on camera): On to weather, our other big story today. January is behaving, well, very 'Januaryish'. A snowstorm has dumped heavy snow from Michigan to Maine. In Indiana, it was deadly. Two women were killed when their van lost control north of Fort Wayne. They were among a group of international students from Bowling Green State University. And more than a foot of snow has covered parts of Maine. Several cities have closed schools for the day.

In Northeastern Ohio, New Year's Day didn't offer much reason to celebrate at all. The storm blew across Lake Eerie, knocking down trees and power lines and at one point, 10,000 homes and businesses were without power. At the opposite corner of the state, commuters faced big challenges on this first work day of the new year. Several inches of snow fell along with the temperatures, of course. And, road salt -- well, it doesn't work too well in single-digit temperatures.

Even the south hasn't been spared. Some parts of North Carolina, the mountains there could see 10 inches of snow. Gusty winds will push the wind chill below 0. It is quite frigid out there -- it seems like no matter where you look. Jacqui Jeras is in the severe weather center. Happy new year to you.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Happy New Year. Nothing like, you know, going in with a big blast, right?

WHITFIELD: That's right.

JERAS: Yes and it is going to stick around a little bit, too, unfortunately. We kind of got the first push in some areas and now that second push is coming in and that is making things bitterly cold and really gusty winds on top of that is driving the wind chill factor down. Our storm system -- you know, that this cold air is in the wake of -- has pulled out of the northeast but if you look closely you see some spots where some of the snow showers are beginning to pop up.

Some of them are going to continue to be heavy, especially off the lake so you can see the warnings still in place but many of these, including what you're seeing down here into Kentucky and Ohio should be expiring at 10:00 Local time.

Now, here is some snow showers that continue to come off the lake. It's kind of periodic in the Cleveland area. Woke up with about ten inches of snowfall on the ground. A live picture now will show you, though, you got a little bit of a temporary respite. Yes, that doesn't look too terrible, does it? But it feels pretty nasty. How about 11 degrees for your wind chill at this hour in Cleveland and winds gusting to 30 miles per hour? We could pick up an additional couple of inches of snow as we think the lake effect could be kicking in again for this afternoon.

Now, how about the south? That cold air has pushed in but the real bitter cold stuff will arrive tomorrow morning. You're saying, what? Isn't it bitter cold right now? Feels like eight degrees in Atlanta and nine in Birmingham and Nashville, six. What is wrong with this? 22 in New Orleans and we're looking at wind chills of below the freezing point into Florida. There are hard freeze warnings in effect for tonight and tomorrow morning across much of Florida and the gulf coast here where temperatures are going to be down there into the teens and 20s so, when you get down that low for a number of hours, that is the end of the growing season.

You can see the wind advisories on top of it. The wind bringing the wind chill factors down well below zero across the Midwest, too, and, of course, the Iowa caucuses tomorrow, Fredericka. These are the temperatures that those folks are going to wake up to. It makes it a little bit -- haaah -- harder maybe to get to the polls when it's so cold.

WHITFIELD: I don't know. Those are die-hard folks.

JERAS: They are cold, by Iowa's standards.

WHITFIELD: Yes, that is cold, by anyone's standards, as a matter of fact. All right, thanks so much, Jacqui. We will check back with you.

And now, international news. Confirmation just about two hours ago that Pakistan sets a new date for elections. A is six-week delay blamed on violence following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto last week. Live now to CNN's Matthew Chance in Islamabad. Do people, in general, feel pretty confident about these new dates?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there will be a great deal of anger on the streets of Pakistan tonight as news of this delay actually sinks in to ordinary people. There is a great deal of frustration amongst ordinary Pakistanis with the political situation in the country. People feel the government of Pervez Musharraf has been responsible for their poor economic conditions. And also a great deal of trust that has been lost in terms of democracy, human rights in this country between the people and the government. So people could be very angry, indeed, for this postponement has taken place.

What we're waiting to see is what the reaction of the main political opposition parties will be in Pakistan. Particularly, the party of the late prime minister, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in this country last week. They've said very clearly that they did not want a delay in the elections, they wanted to go ahead, perhaps, in the hope of benefiting from some kind of sympathy vote following her assassination last Thursday. So they're having an emergency meeting now to decide what their next course of action will be. But, clearly, the situation in Pakistan already very volatile. Tonight faces new uncertainty. Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: And so, Matthew, while you say many people might still feel rather angry about the new date, meantime, President Musharraf is to address the nation in about an hour. Is the expectation is he is trying to kind of quell that emotional outburst?

CHANCE: Well, it's a pre-recorded address to the nation. But we haven't been given an advanced copy of what he is likely to say or what he is going to say. But yes, I mean, I expect it's going to be an announcement, an address to the nation that will be an attempt to explain why the elections had to be postponed from January 8th to the new date of February 18th. Why such a long delay was necessary. The election commission has already said that is because of the terrible law and order situation in Pakistan at the moment and because there is voting senses were destroyed. I think Pervez Musharraf, President Musharraf, tonight will be trying to quell people's concerns that this is not an attempt by his government to hang on to power.

WHITFIELD: Matthew Chance in Islamabad, thank you very much.

To East Africa now. New fears this morning that post-election violence there in Kenya could spiral into tribal warfare. Armed mobs are rampaging there and human rights groups report that more than 300 people are dead just in the past five days. Some seeking sanctuary in a church were burned alive. The violence was sparked by charges that President Mwai Kibaki rigged his re-election. The U. S. and Britain have issued a joint statement calling for calm. Until last week, Kenya was considered one of the most stable democracies in Africa.

And that fatal tiger attack in this country. The survivors now on attack against the San Francisco Zoo. An update straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. The perfect patriot score. One couple, a free engagement ring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED LADY: He actually wanted to take it to get engraved 16-0 on the inside. He told us it's more of a symbol of our wedding as the patriots make history.


WHITFIELD: All right. Well, a football window in the making? In the newsroom.


WHITFIELD: A scare for a medical helicopter pilot and his crew in Cincinnati. It happened shortly after they dropped off a patient. As you can see, they were stuck dangling high in the air right there on the edge of the hospital's helipad. They were taking off when mechanical trouble forced a rough landing. Firefighters were able to secure the helicopter, but, now, it can't fly. So, they have to find another way to get it off the roof.

The mystery surrounding a deadly tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo is deepening now. The Associated Press is reporting an attorney for the two survivors claims that zoo security didn't respond quickly enough and a New York newspaper suggests the teens may have taunted the tiger with sling shots. CNN's David Mattingly reports.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why did the 350-pound Siberian tiger named Tatiana maul three people, killing one? The answer may lie behind these doors. It's the home of the two survivors. Brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal who were released from hospital on Saturday but have yet to talk publicly about what exactly happened at the San Francisco Zoo. But new allegations suggest they have reason to keep quiet. A report in the "New York Post" citing unnamed sources, says slingshots were found on both brothers after the attack, leading to speculation they provoked the tiger.

The report also says an empty bottle of vodka was found in their car. Police have said they have no information to indicate the tiger was provoked. While questions stir about their involvement, the brothers have hired legal heavy-weight Mark Geragos with possible plans to sue the zoo for the attack. Meanwhile, the father of the victim, Carlos Sousa, Jr., wants to hear from the survivors.

CARLOS SOUSA, FATHER OF TIGER ATTACK VICTIM: Did you do this? Did you do that? What happened?

MATTINGLY: Meanwhile, the San Francisco Zoo prepares to reopen its doors to the public on Thursday, nine days after the vicious attack. The outdoor tiger exhibit, however, will not be open until the zoo completes construction on new enhanced security barriers around the big cat grottos.

WHITFIELD: And, zoo officials will talk to the media later on today, ahead of tomorrow's zoo reopening. CNN's David Mattingly will be there and will update you with the very latest. In the meantime, a beauty queen packing heat! And now, facing criminal charges. Find out what police say she did to her ex.


WHITFIELD: Wall Street's first trading day of 2008 and it looks like stocks are headed for a positive open. That's good and encouraging. Jill Bennett of "Businessweek-TV" is "Minding Your Business". Good to see you this morning. Traditionally, election year, start of the year, how do the stocks tend to do?

JILL BENNETT, HOST, MINDING YOUR BUSINESS: Well, it's interesting because we do have, I mean, the first trading day of 2008 and we do have futures indicating a slightly positive open and it's important. Why? It's because there is an old saying on wall street that says the first five trading days of the year, if we have gains or if we have losses, usually, the year will finish off the same way. There is actually data to back this up. This is from the stock traders' almanac. So, we do have some proof of it. When you see the S & P gaining in the first five trading days, 86 percent of the time, the year will end higher as well. There have only been two election years where we saw this did not work out in -- it was 1956 as well as 1988.

We also find that election years are just very strong for stocks. It is the best January -- it is the best month in election years for the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500. It is the second best month for the Nasdaq. So, there's a lot of optimism going into the year. A lot of money flowing in so that helps to buoy the stock market a little bit.

Let's take a look at where some of the analysts are looking for the sector picks for 2008: health care which has been strong ongoing. Technology very strong in 2007 -- one of the winning sectors. Restaurants is a big focus on those as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, all very encouraging. We like that. What a way to start the new year and happy new year to you, Jill.

BENNETT: And to you, as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll check in with you again, a bit later.

All right, thousands of dollars in free jewelry. Who wouldn't like that? Well, one Boston area store now on the hook, thanks to the New England Patriots. We'll get more from Amalia Barreda of WCBV. All right, we've got that story coming up.

In the meantime, it is one title that you don't want: the deadliest city in the nation. A look at the numbers when we come right back.


WHITFIELD: An 8-year-old makes a great save. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, GRANDMOTHER OF 8-YEAR-OLD BOY: He told me everything that he had done and I said thanks to him, that I'm alive today.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): So, now, meet a grateful great grandmother. Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD (on camera): You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hello, everyone, I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Tony and Heidi are off today. This breaking story we're following for you outside the Washington, D. C., area in Prince Georges County, Maryland, where at a hospital, the Laurel Regional Hospital, we understand that at about 8:15 a.m., Eastern time, a shooting took place in the E. R. there.

We understand that there were two prisoners from a Maryland correctional facility that may have been involved and now we understand one of those prisoners may have escaped and so the search is on now for one prisoner who may have escaped the custody of the Maryland correctional facility while a shooting took place there at the Laurel Regional Hospital.

We don't have any more details about injuries that may have been sustained. One of our affiliates there in the Washington, D. C., area is reporting that the Laurel Regional Hospital is on lockdown. This taking place in Laurel, Maryland, in Prince Georges County right outside of Washington, D. C. of course, when we get any more information about the shooting that reportedly took place there right in the E. R. of this hospital involving two correctional facility prisoners we will be able to bring that to you. Search is under way for one of the prisoners believed to have escaped.

Meantime, let's talk about New Orleans now. Where New Orleans could snag the title, once again, the deadliest city in the nation. Officials and the FBI are saying that numbers won't be out for several months, but New Orleans is definitely on track. 209 murders in the year 2007. That is a 30 percent increase from the previous year, the year New Orleans held the deadliest city title. The population is down but the murder rate is up. What is behind the numbers? We will go in-depth straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

Meantime, in the Chicago suburbs now, investigators say a father killed two generations of his own family. 57-year-old Subash(ph) Chandler is charged with setting an apartment fire. It killed his daughter, her husband, and their 3-year-old son. The motive, they say, he didn't approve of the marriage.


ROBERT MILAN, FIRST ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY, COOK COUNTY: He did not like his son-in-law. That his son-in-law married his daughter without his permission and on top of that, in his country, his son-in- law, grew up in a caste lower than he and his daughter.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Meantime, Chander is charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child. His daughter was five months pregnant.

And let's talk about our other top story. Weather, it is brutal out there, but you know, it is January. It's the New Year. And you know what? It gives us an all excuse, Jacqui, to wear those new mufflers, and hats, and mittens we got for Christmas, right?


WHITFIELD: In the meantime, a reminder, if news is happening where you are, we want to see your video or your photos? Go to and click on i-Report or type into your cell phone. But remember, stay safe along the way.

Well, terrorism or a road rage. New questions today about a U.S. diplomat killed in Sudan. The African country had once been a haven for Osama Bin Laden. Well, Sudan's government says, a gunman killed, John Granville and his driver, because of a quote, "street argument." The U.S. says it's too early to determine exactly that, and there has been no arrests as of yet.

And in East Africa, a plea for calm in Kenya from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The African nation gripped by spreading post election violence. CNN's David McKenzie has more.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The picturesque Rift Valley in Kenya ablaze from the air. The scale of the horror revealed. The government saying tens of thousands seeking shelter from the Mayhem. Gangs of armed people roaming the streets seeking revenge. The pathetic remains of the church where the Red Cross tells, the associated press, at least 50 were burned alive. The victims, mostly Kikuyu, seen as supporters of the newly reelected president Mwai Kibaki. Bringing in the New Year, he urged calm to the nation.

MWAI KIBAKI, KENYA, PRESIDENT: It is now time for healing and reconciliation amongst all Kenyans.

MCKENZIE: But supporters of Raila Odinga, who is of the Luos Tribe aren't listening. Since before election results were even announced, they clashed in the slums of the capital, battling soldiers with whatever they could sling. The AP says, at least 200 people have died since Saturday. Ethnic tension has long simmered in Kenya. Now, it's at boiling point in parts of the country.

RAPHAEL TUJU, KENYAN FOREIGN MINISTER: If the tear gas is not working, then unfortunately, a few times they have to use live bullets to protect their own lives. The president has been sworn in. The elections are over. The Kenyans have to accept the results. The oppositions have to accept the results.

MCKENZIE: But not before an audit says the European Union observer mission. ALEXANDER LAMBSDORFF, CHIEF E.U. OBSERVER: We find that the 2007 elections in Kenya did not live up to international standards. Standards, by the way, to which Kenya is firmly committed and we regret that very much.

MCKENZIE: In a growing chorus of condemnation, they say the observers weren't always allowed to do their job and that Kibaki's numbers were inflated in several areas. Raila Odinga says the conditions for negotiation would be for Kibaki to step down. As the empires continues, tourists here, for the famed Kenya safari circuit are now heading home. As many countries are warning against travel here. The capital shut down. Shops, shutted. Paramilitary police roaming the streets of one of the continent's most stable nations. The jewel of East Africa, blemished.

David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


WHITFIELD: And here in this country, out of the campaign spotlight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some say I've thought more about how to be president, than how to get elected president. I'm trying to rectify that.


WHITFIELD: All right. Democratic underdogs. Do they have a chance against the big dogs?

And take a look at the numbers right now, on this new year, with the market opening right here. You are hearing the opening bell. (INAUDIBLE) New Year and the election year perhaps. At least, so far, the numbers all going into the right direction, we understand. The Dow is -- oh, well it was a minute ago going up. Unfortunately, the air going down. The Dow down six points. And the NASDAQ is up six points. So, how is that? We'll be checking in with the numbers throughout the morning.


WHITFIELD: All right. It is neck and neck. Dead heat for the Democrats, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Polls show all have a chance to win Iowa. The caucus reminder, tomorrow. But what about the other candidates? Here is CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, part of the best political team on television.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They don't have the glitz of Obama, the marquee name of Clinton, the fiery rhetoric of Edwards or the money of any of them. They are the also in the runnings. Toiling off Broadway. CHRIS DODD, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an "American Idol" show or is it seeking the presidency of the United States?


CROWLEY: Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, more than three decades in office, Chair of the Committee on Banking and Housing and Urban Affairs.

DODD: Most people woke up this morning wondering whether or not 2008, was going to be a better year than 2007. Whether or not, they might end up with a foreclosed home. Whether or not their job like the Maytag employees might lead and they'll have no ability to take care of their families. And they want to know if there's anyone out there, that can do anything about this. It's what I've done for a quarter of a century.

BILL RICHARDSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Put forth this emergency pause.

CROWLEY: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former congressman, energy secretary, U.N. Ambassador, international troubleshooter.

RICHARDSON: The central message of my campaign is that we need somebody that can bring the country together. And all my life and my career, I've brought countries together. I've brought people together.

CROWLEY: Delaware Senator Joe Biden, three decades in the senate, Former Chair of the Judiciary Committee, longtime Chair of Foreign Relations.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The central message of my campaign is I want people close their eyes and imagine the person that they are supporting for president. Being president is very instant. Do they have confidence? That person can handle the meltdown in Pakistan, end the war in Iraq, know exactly what to do now, at the moment of great peril?

CROWLEY: Together, they have almost a century of public service. More than 200 days campaigning in Iowa. And total for the three of them? 12 percent in Iowa polls. They fly coat, have smaller staffs, and fewer posters. They get less time at debates, play in smaller venues, and cannot complain.

RICHARDSON: I hope you made this a wide open race and give those of us that just happen to be qualified and those of us that can change this country a chance. That's all I ask.

CROWLEY: The pundits write them off. Media coverage is minimalist. Polls are a daily discouragement. The first contest of the election season could also be their last. But you know what? Some of the off-Broadway players are getting nice crowds lately.

BIDEN: My goal is to get a big chunk of an undecided vote and come out of here, third or fourth, maybe even exceed that expectation and if I do, I'm going to be the next president, I believe.

CROWLEY: It's enough to keep a fellow going.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Des Moines.


WHITFIELD: And of course, you want the most up-to-the minute political news anywhere available that's us. is your one-stop shop. It's the Internet's premier destination for political news. Again, that's

And just want to update you on what's taking place right outside of the Washington, D.C. area in Prince Georges County, Maryland at the Laurel Regional Hospital. An investigation is under way, as well as a manhunt, because of a shooting that took place in the E.R. And we understand that two prisoners from a correctional facility were being treated there. At least, rolled in there at the hospital.

A shooting took place. One of the prisoners has escaped, so a manhunt is under way. We don't have any more information about what kind of injuries that may have taken place. But one of our affiliates there in the Washington, D.C. area is reporting that the hospital is on lockdown. When we get more information, we will bring that to you.

In the meantime, straight ahead, 9/11. How that tragic day helped shape Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Drove right by the Pentagon and I can even smell the smoke was blowing across the highway. You could smell burning concrete, steel. It's a smell of war I never expected to experience in my own land.


WHITFIELD: Romney also reveals how he got his name. And hear from some of the other candidates for the presidency in their own words.


WHITFIELD: Trouble at a hospital overseas. We told you about the trouble with the shooting taking place in Maryland, a hospital. This one in London in West London. This is a premiere internationally known cancer hospital that is now on fire. Looking at live images right now. We understand that a host of firefighters and firefighting teams are on the scene.

They are also evacuating all of the patients at the Royal Marsden Hospital there in West London. It's unclear, exactly, how this fire started. Right now, it looks like it's just kind of the upper levels there. But you see them battling the blaze from atop there and you are also seeing some crumbling there on the side. It's a significant hospital. This is the first hospital in the world that's been dedicated to the study and the treatment of cancer. We understand that eight fire engines and 40 firefighters have been dispatched to deal with this very significant fire taking place there in West London. We don't know exactly how many patients are being evacuated, but it is quite sophisticated operation under way, because it is a sizeable hospital there.

Again, the first world's hospital dedicated to the study and science of cancer. This is the Royal Marsden Hospital that you're seeing right now, on fire there in West London. We're going to continue to watch the developments there and get as many facts and figures we can get to you, and then pass them along, of course.

In the meantime, here in this country, billions of gallons head downstream in East Texas. A dam has broken there. Residents say the lake is literally disappearing and so far, no homes have been damaged and there are no evacuations ordered as of yet, but several roads are now closed. Officials described the slow flow from the lake as a best case scenario, as far as dam breaks seem to go.

Well, as the only Mormon in the race, Mitt Romney has answered plenty of questions about his faith. He talks about that and why he is called, Mitt, with a breakfast gathering in Manchester, New Hampshire.


CROWD: Let's go Mitt! Let's go Mitt!

ROMNEY: Good morning. How are you? How was breakfast?


ROMNEY: Oh, that's good. Good morning.


ROMNEY: Down there. OK. What's the best? I'm looking to see what is best here for breakfast. Oh, the oatmeal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oatmeal is very good.

ROMNEY: Is the oatmeal good?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have fresh muffins that just came out of the oven that everybody is raving about.

ROMNEY: Well, I'm partial to chocolate chip muffins. Yes, you know that, if I have to have something bad for me, it's going to be really bad for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Mitt stand for?

ROMNEY: Mitt is an unusual name, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard, it is not your first name.

ROMNEY: No. It's not my legal first name. It's my middle name. My first name is Willard. And I was called Billy in kindergarten. And as a conjunction of Willard and so I was called Billy and -- but they had a song in kindergarten. Maybe those of you, who are a little older, might remember the song, where have you been, Billy boy, Billy boy.

And the girls would sing this song to me and I did not like that at all. So, I came home one day and said, mom, I don't want to be called Billy anymore. So in kindergarten or first grade, I switched to Mitt and have been Mitt ever since. And Mitt Romney in the 1920s was the quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Can you imagine? So, I think they imagine that by giving me that name, I would have great athletic talent. Unfortunately, it did not go with the name. It goes with the genes and I didn't get the same genes he had.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, you're running now. Are you a runner?

ROMNEY: I do run. I do run. I run about...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With those chocolate muffins?

ROMNEY: Yes, exactly. Otherwise, I would be carrying a bigger tire than I got, but I try to run three miles every other day. I ran in cross-country in high school. I was not good. But I gave my heart. It's sort of a family tradition. We may not have a lot of talent, but we make up for lack of talent with the determination and effort and the values that my church has, are the same values that you would find in your churches.

I don't think you'd see a difference in that regard. Love of family. Recognition that we're all the family of human kind. We're all children of God. That there is a responsibility to serve others. The teachings of Jesus Christ are very much at the foundation of my church, just like they are yours. And I don't think, people choose their candidate based on which church they go to, but they do care very deeply about what their values are and I think that's the way it ought to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, this is obviously easier for you to do, than it is for me. What do you do to let your hair down?

ROMNEY: You let it down. You just didn't pick it back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's on the ground.

ROMNEY: You know, for me, the greatest joy imaginable is being with my kids, my daughters-in-law and my grandkids. I love movies. I don't get to go to movie theaters very much, but I do get DVDs and look at some old movies on occasion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a favorite movie? ROMNEY: I do have a favorite movie, but you'll never have heard of it. It's called "O Brother Where Art Thou."


ROMNEY: Oh, you know that? You all see that? You know, George Clooney? You've seen that?

My boys and I, always watch it every summer. We watch it. The guys know the lines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you sing any of the songs?

ROMNEY: I can but there is no way I'm going to do that with a microphone on.


ROMNEY: You are my sunshine. You all can sing that song.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell us about a problem with your wife.

ROMNEY: Oh, there have been a lot of problem moments with her. What's interesting is that, we met in high school. She was 15, almost 16 when we met. And, you know, I saw her across the room. I asked her if I could give her a ride home, that sort of thing. We've been going steady ever since. There is pretty nothing more enduring and more fulfilling, I think, in life than having children well-raised and she raised five extraordinary boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But clearly, when you get that job, the tradeoffs are gigantic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And family takes a second place. It has to. I can't imagine otherwise. What is motivating you?

ROMNEY: You come to a point where your kids are raised and they are married. They're on their own and they are having their kids and you'd love those grandkids enormously. And you begin saying, how can I make sure than what I've enjoyed, they will be able to enjoy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where were you on September 11th and how did you separate your professional responsibilities with your personal reaction to what had happened.

ROMNEY: Yes. I was actually in Washington, D.C. getting ready for a meeting on Capitol Hill to try and get money for the security system at our Olympics. I drove right by the Pentagon. And I could smell that the smoke was blowing across the highway. You could smell burning concrete and steel. It's a smell of war, I never expected to experience in my own land. And it was very sobering. And frankly, I couldn't think about, you know, any implications from what this meant for the Olympics. It was just the world has changed. And then, I began getting calls saying were we going to cancel the Olympics? Because it was only four or five months away. And there were some Olympic committees in various countries that were saying, maybe they wouldn't come, they wouldn't feel safe in America. They were not sure they could fly here. And so I decided that I had to make a statement about holding the Olympics and I did so, by the end of the day, saying, yes, we're going to hold the Olympics. We will have safe games. We'll do whatsoever is necessary to do that. Now more than ever, we need to bring the nations of the world together.

Derek Parra. Derek is a Hispanic-American. He was a rollerblader living in Los Angeles. One of his friends said you ought to try ice skating. He hadn't tried it before. He strapped on ice skates. He is good. He is fast. He is so fast on ice skates that he beats all these big Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana guys and becomes a member of the Olympic team in speed skating. He wins a gold medal for the U.S. in speed skating, as well as a silver medal. And I said to him, what was the most memorable experience in your Olympics? And it was not the silver and it was not the gold. He said, it was being able to carry in the flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

He is saying, (INAUDIBLE) for the land of the free and the home of the brave. He said that second time, a gust of wind blew into the flag and lifted it in their hands. And he said, Mitt, for me, it was if the spirits for all of those that had died for American liberty had just blown into that flag. It's that love for this country and a recognition of the sacrifice of those who provided for our liberty that gives me so much confidence that our future is in good hands. This is one of the highlights. This is fun today. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have my picture with you?

ROMNEY: Absolutely, absolutely. It's only five bucks.


WHITFIELD: All right. Mitt Romney among the presidential candidates that we're featuring, raw, in their own words today. Hear them throughout the day, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

In the meantime, a couple of developments we continue to follow. This abroad in London. You're looking at the very famous Royal Marsden Hospital. Hospital known as a premiere facility for treating cancer patients. It is on fire today and a host of firefighting teams are on the scene trying to put it out. We don't know the source of the blaze, but we also understand, a number of the patients are being evacuated. We are going to continue to follow the developments there from London.


WHITFIELD: Good morning again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rob Marciano. Tony and Heidi are off today. How you're feeling? You're voice sound a little bit weak.

WHITFIELD: I know, but I'm feeling OK. It's just like they are terrible. Happy New Year to you.

MARCIANO: My mic is broke. We're going to fix this.

WHITFIELD: We'll work it out.

MARCIANO: In the meantime, we'll keep everybody inform. Thanks for joining. You're in NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Here is what's on the run down.

MARCIANO: Breaking news. A major fire strikes out at a London hospital. It's a world acclaimed cancer center.

WHITFIELD: And a scramble for last minute votes in the cold and snow. It's the final day of campaigning in Iowa.

MARCIANO: It's January and here come the holiday bills. Need a better credit card? Gerri Willis has plastic deals for Wednesday, January 2nd. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.