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Republican National Convention Focuses on McCain Biography; LAX Plane Emergency; Tornado on the Ground in Louisiana

Aired September 02, 2008 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of the Republican National Convention.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. Welcome back, everybody, from the CNN Election Center in New York.

Soledad O'Brien here.

As you take a look inside the Xcel Center, you can see they are setting up, making preparing for the speakers tonight. We continue our coverage of the 2008 Republican Convention. Day two in St. Paul is sort of like day one version 2.0.

Hurricane Gustav threw the schedule into the air yesterday -- some new polls to tell you about as well. Senator McCain has got a little bit of work ahead of him. He goes into tonight down five points in our latest CNN poll of polls. Barack Obama enjoying, apparently, a slight bump from the Democratic Convention last week.

As for the up-in-the-air agenda, it's sort of landed like this. Tonight's theme is, who is John McCain? The big-name speakers will be the former rival Fred Thompson. Also, President Bush will be joining the group via satellite. And John McCain's campaign buddy, renegade Democrat Joe Lieberman, will also be talking tonight.

As you can imagine, lots of juggling going on. And in addition to the normal juggling that is always part of any major event, there's lots more to do today.

With me, one of the chief jugglers of the convention, convention president and CEO Maria Cino.

Nice to see you. Chief juggler, I guess, that's kind of a new title for you, but it's got to be true. What exactly do you do as convention CEO?

MARIA CINO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: Well, I think this week we do a little bit of everything.

But, actually, Soledad, for the last 18 months, we have been planning the convention here in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We have a plan, an organization that's been putting this whole thing together. And the plan has basically got us into the Xcel Center six-and-a-half weeks ago and transformed a hockey rink into the stage you see behind us. O'BRIEN: But all the best planning can't predict a hurricane sweeping through and really knocking the focus and a lot of the speeches, et cetera, et cetera, off of what you were doing and on to the Gulf Coast. How have you found that switch?

CINO: Well, you know, what we have been saying is really true. For the last 18 months, we have put, I think, what is an excellent plan in place.

And, like all plans, you have to be prepared for anything. And I think that the team was prepared for the unknown. And we were able to change things pretty much on a dime.

S. O'BRIEN: Are you -- what's going to happen with Dick Cheney? We know President Bush is scheduled to speak by satellite to the folks who are at the convention, introduced by his wife. But I know Dick Cheney's speech was also canceled from yesterday. Has he been rescheduled?

CINO: At this point, we are looking day to day.

And we can tell you what today's schedule is. And then usually at our 5:00 a.m. conference call, we put together the next day. And, at that time, I think, we will have a better idea who the speakers will be for Wednesday and the same will hold through for Thursday. So, we are trying to put Monday night's schedule, as you just said, into Tuesday. And then we will look at Wednesday and Thursday and try to consolidate. So, there are still modifications going on and still decisions being made.

S. O'BRIEN: Kind of taking it a day at a time.

CINO: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Governor Palin, a lot has been made of her experience. A lot has been made of her daughter and her unplanned pregnancy. How much of a distraction are these conversations that are happening while you are trying to kick off your convention, really what will be kind of a full day today?

CINO: Well, quite honestly, as the president and CEO, my job is to make sure that stage is ready, to make sure those chairs are in place, to make sure that we transport the 5,000 delegates and alternates and another 5,000 guests and family members, make sure that they are here, and to make sure this show goes on. So, honestly, I am not even paying much attention. I haven't seen a newspaper in three days.


S. O'BRIEN: The logistics are what you focus on.

CINO: Very much.

S. O'BRIEN: But, to a large degree, what you are doing is helping monitor a tone. I mean, the tone has to be right. And all that -- those logistical challenges really reflect a certain tone that you want to put out. What are the strategy and what is the plan there?


CINO: Well, certainly, we changed things quickly. I think everyone knew what our original four days were going to look like.

And then, obviously, we were affected by the Gulf Coast, and we wanted to be respectful and appropriate. And I think that, yesterday, I think, was almost perfect. We cut back our program almost in half, if not even less. We took care of party business. And then of course, we had a wonderful, wonderful surprise with both the first lady and with Mrs. McCain.

And I think their tone was right into yesterday's theme, service, and, really, service to one's country first and foremost. We announced a hurricane relief program. We had each state governor pick out a relief effort that we can contribute to. We set up phone banks.

And I believe in the first hour of calls, we have raised over $1 million. And tomorrow we have shifts of delegates that will be stuffing comfort packages. And we hope to get out 80,000 comfort packages tomorrow with necessities, things that people are going to need, just the basics.

And we hope that -- we are working very closely with Target and with Federal Express. And we hope to get those shipped out appropriately.

S. O'BRIEN: Good to put all those delegates to work while they are working at the convention anyway.

CINO: Absolutely.

S. O'BRIEN: Maria Cino is the GOP Convention president and CEO.

Thanks for talking with us. I know you're really busy. And we certainly appreciate it.

CINO: No problem. Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up next: how the Palin pick and the Palin family headlines are playing to the religious base. We will talk to author Sally Quinn right after these brief messages.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, chances are John McCain was hoping for headlines when he chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate, just not necessarily these particular headlines.

Sally Quinn has written about it in today's "Washington Post." And she joins us now.

Nice to see you, Sally. Thanks for talk with us. SALLY QUINN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to be here.

S. O'BRIEN: As I'm sure you know, Barack Obama has said he thinks that family is off-limits and has said that he will fire anybody in his campaign who he feels was sort of working behind the scenes to make this information about Palin's daughter, et cetera, public.

Do you think that these things should be off-limits?

QUINN: No, I do not.

I think Barack Obama said and did exactly the right thing, which is what he had to do. He doesn't need to get involved in this. But I think that when you are running for the highest office in the land -- and she is, by the way, because of McCain's age and his health -- she is more than likely to be president of the United States.

I think that it's naive to think that anything about your life or your family is going to be off-limits or off the record. So, you have to understand that you are never going to get the kind of scrutiny and the kind of criticism that you get when you are in this kind of a position. So, no, I don't think it's off-limits.

S. O'BRIEN: Folks can find your article in "The Washington Post." But I want to read a short excerpt of it, maybe a couple of them.

You write this: "This may be a hard one for the Republican conservative family values crowd to swallow. Of course, this can happen in any family, but it must certainly raise questions among the evangelical base about whether Sarah Palin has been enough of a hands- on mother."

Wow. I kind of -- is that a swipe at working mothers, if you extend that outside of Sarah Palin and the V.P. pick, and say, anybody who is not around 24 hours a day watching their kids is not enough of a hands-on mother?

QUINN: Well, I have been a working mother for 26 years. And practically every friend I have is a working mother and works full- time.

So, I think we are so far beyond that issue of whether women should work or not, certainly, in your world and my world. But, in the world of evangelicals, that's not the case. Women are supposed to be subservient to their husbands and they are meant to be stay-at-home moms. And women in fact are not allowed to be pastors in the Southern Baptist Church.

And I do think, too, that you have to weigh the situation. It's one thing to have one or two or three children, especially if they are healthy children. And everyone knows that women and men are different and that moms and dads are different and that women -- the burden of child care almost always falls on the woman. But I think, when you have five children, one a 4-month-old Down syndrome baby, and a daughter who is 17, who is also a child and who is going to need her mother very much in the next few months and years with her own baby coming, that I don't see how you cannot make your family your first priority.

And I think if you are going to be president of the United States, which she may well be, I think that's going to be a real stretch for her.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, some people might say juggling one child might be challenging for somebody, but juggling five might be something that somebody else could easily do or handily do.

You also wrote this.


S. O'BRIEN: Let me just read a chunk of this.


S. O'BRIEN: "Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is a mother of five children, one of them a 4-month-old with Down syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning and one of her children is really sick, what choice will she make?"

Why wouldn't she make the choice that many working mothers with more than one or two or even three kids make, and hand that sick child off to their dad and go answer the phone? Why would that not be sort of in the realm of possibility?

QUINN: Certainly, fathers are always there, but it has been -- I think we are so far beyond this issue of men and women being different.

I think everyone knows -- every single mother in her heart knows that a mother's role is different from a father's role. And that's not a politically correct thing to say. We are supposed to say, at least in the old feminist world, that women and men are the same, and they should be equal, and that we have double standards.

But the fact is that mothers are there for their children more than fathers are. And I have a child who is very seriously learning disabled, and I only have one child. And I have to tell you that that was an extremely time-consuming -- in fact, I took a leave of absence from my job at "The Washington Post" because he was sick.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, with all due respect, people could say that's you, and other people who have similar, more children or children who are similarly struggling may be able to handle it. QUINN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: I mean, the woman has been governor. She certainly had that 4-month-old as governor, and the other children as well.

QUINN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: You look at something like Michelle Bachelet, who has got three kids and a 12-year-old, which I'm told -- my kids are little, but I'm told teenagers and people on the cusp on the being teenagers are even more difficult than little babies. She's governing just fine.


QUINN: They are much more difficult, as she has learned from having this situation with her teenage daughter.

Teenagers are much more difficult than small children are. But I think that, you know, you could say well, is there a difference between three children or nine children? Is there a difference between having all healthy children or having one child who has special needs?

It's extremely time-consuming. And my feeling is that it would be a distraction, as it already has become. What are we talking about today? We are talking -- we are not talking about what Barack Obama did, which is to choose this one person he felt was most ready to be president in case something happened to him.

We are talking about John McCain, who has chosen a woman with five children, one with special needs, and a daughter, 17-year-old child, who is pregnant. That is a distraction. And when you are in a position like that -- suppose she became president in the next several months. She would have an enormous number of distractions on her hands.

And I can't believe that she would be the dad, and her husband would be the mom.


QUINN: So, I feel very strongly that this is a situation that is going to, particularly with evangelicals, where, as I said, women are not even allowed to be preachers.


S. O'BRIEN: We should mention the full article can be read in "The Washington Post."

QUINN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Sally Quinn for us this afternoon, thanks for talking to us.

QUINN: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to have much more convention coverage coming in about 15 minutes throughout the day as well.

In New York, Soledad O'Brien, CNN Election Center -- back to Atlanta and CNN NEWSROOM in just a short minute.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so here we go again and again and again. Tropical storms line up across the Atlantic. Our Jacqui Jeras is tracking all of them for you.

And we can't forget Gustav. It may not have been a hurricane now -- or may not be a hurricane now, I should say, or tropical storm, but it is still bringing misery to much of Louisiana.

And it may be days before the power is back and evacuees are back in their homes.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live in St. Bernard Parish just outside of New Orleans.

You are live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, people have been out of their home for days. And don't come home yet. That is the message to Gulf Coast evacuees in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, now a tropical depression, but still dumping heavy rain and carrying the threat of tornadoes.

Gustav was powerful, but, you know, it was some Katrina. This time, people fled in droves, and most of the levee, well, they appear to have held. We are getting a report of a levee breach today in Plaquemines Parish. That is just south of New Orleans. If it is bad enough, it could wash out a main road leading to many oil and gas companies. We will keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, at least seven Gulf Coast deaths are linked to Gustav, which knocked out power to 1.4 million households here in Louisiana, more than 92,000 in Mississippi. And damage to Gulf Coast oil rigs, well, it still needs to be assessed.

But oil prices are falling today on the belief those rigs and refineries were spared.

Well, we have correspondents, CNN correspondents, all over the region. Our Chris Lawrence is just outside of New Orleans. He is keeping watch on the levee situation. And Ed Lavandera, he is in Lafayette, Louisiana. And, of course, we will check in with our severe weather expert, Jacqui Jeras. She's getting the minute-by- minute forecast in the Severe Weather Center.

Let's start now with CNN's Chris Lawrence. He's just outside of New Orleans keeping an eye on those levees for us.

Chris, we had a scare of a possible breach in St. Bernard Parish. You are following the very latest for us. What do you have?


The sign, someone wrote on here, it says, "Times are hard in St. Bernard." And that could really apply to a lot of areas here. But minute by minute and hour by hour, officials are watching the water on the other side of this wall recede and get lower and lower. And that is a very good thing, because yesterday the water was massively overtopping.

And there was some concern that it could breach the levee and flood the neighborhood here. But there was a massive sandbagging effort, thousands and thousands of sandbags that people were using here. Even as the back edge of the storm was coming through, they were doing it at the last minute and they were doing it to save homes like these, hundreds and hundreds of homes in this area. These homes took on 10 feet of water during Katrina.

But, fortunately, because of some quick thinking and the fact that the levee held, they are all safe this time around -- Don.

LEMON: Ah, so no breach there, just some water leaking through that they saved with those sandbags. Good work for all the folks here.

Chris Lawrence has been monitoring the situation here and has been on the ground since this weekend doing one heck of a job. Thank you, Chris.

All right, now we want to head west to Lafayette and CNN's Ed Lavandera. Ed is unfortunately covering a part of the story that we don't like to cover. There was a death right where he was. Ed, tell us the very latest.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I think the story here really underscores the randomness of what happens during some of these storms.

Twenty-seven-year-old Keith Duhon was sleeping inside of his home here when this massive tree fell on top of him, crushing the house and killing him inside. Firefighters had to saw away at the limbs of this tree to be able to get inside of the home here to remove his body.

But as you drive around parts of Lafayette, where we are, and in other towns, this is the worst of the destruction that we have been able to see. In fact, the order of the day and the story of the day here is really just coordinating the process of cleaning up the debris, many downed trees and splintered trees and power lines.

But, all in all, as we have talked to community officials and emergency officials across the southwest -- in communities southwest of New Orleans, they really do report that they feel that they have weathered this storm and have come out of Hurricane Gustav doing pretty well -- Don.

LEMON: All right, CNN's Ed Lavandera -- Ed, we appreciate your reporting on this story as well.

Meantime, we want to get to the CNN Severe Weather Center back in Atlanta, where our Jacqui Jeras has been manning the situation there and of course doing one heck of a job. She is not only following the latest on Gustav, but other tropical depressions that are swirling out there. Fill us in, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Don, we have got them all lined up. It is going to be a mighty busy September, my friends. So, get ready for it.

Gustav's problems are not over with by any means. And we are talking specifically just on the weather impact. We are still seeing some pretty good winds as the center of circulation up here towards Shreveport. But the wind problems are actually worse in some of these thunderstorm bands that have been moving on through. And we have the threat of tornadoes to go along with it.

It's a tropical depression now. And maximum sustained winds 25 miles per hour, but we could see some gusts beyond that. And it could be enough to maybe break down a large enough tree limb to still cause additional power outages.

And, by the way, all those folks without power, we talk about problems at the hospital and at the gas pumps and just being at home even without any electricity, when temperatures in the middle 80s today. They are going to be in the upper 80s throughout the rest of the week, we think, across much of Louisiana. There, you see that threat of flooding. We could see an additional three to six inches on top of what you already have.

All right, let's go ahead and talk about that conga line of storms that we have out there. In addition to Gustav, we have got Hanna here. We have got Ike out in the middle of the Atlantic. And then, the Cape Verde Islands, there, we have Tropical Storm Josephine. So, things are going to get very active.

The one we are most concerned about right now is Hanna. It's going to be moving up towards the north and to the east heading through the Bahamas. And by the end of this week, Friday, maybe Saturday, we could see a U.S. landfall somewhere along Florida, Georgia or the South Carolina coastline. It will be a storm to watch as we are looking at likely another hurricane here -- Don.

LEMON: Oh, boy, Jacqui. And we are getting rained on off and on here. I don't know if that is part of this system.

JERAS: Absolutely.

LEMON: But, every now and then, it rains and then it goes back. And, man, it is certainly humid and hot here.


JERAS: ... under a tornado watch, by the way, Don. I will holler at you if we get a warning. LEMON: We are?

JERAS: Because you don't have any power, so those sirens may not go off. So, we will be in touch if we have any problems with that.

LEMON: Yes, please let us know, because we will find some shelter here. We don't want anything to happen, especially to our crew, because we have got a lot of people stationed here.

Jacqui Jeras, we appreciate the warning, not only us to, but probably to our viewers in the area as well. Thank you very much for that.

All right, let's talk now about cautious optimism and fingers crossed, of course. Oil prices are down, amid hopes that Gustav was more bark than bite, but will they stay that way?

That's the question.



T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. T.J. Holmes here at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Just want to jump in here and let you know something we are watching out on the West Coast, at LAX specifically. We have got a couple live pictures here. We understand that a plane is circling that airport right now preparing to make an emergency landing at this airport. This is American Airlines Flight 1586 that experienced some trouble, a blown tire, a blown tire, we understand, when it took off.

Again, this is part of the landing gear. But it took off OK from LAX headed to Toronto, but it turned around, head back to LAX because of this blown tire. It has been circling the airport. We see this oftentimes when planes circle for a while, try to burn off some fuel, try to reduce the risk of any type of fire, explosions upon landing.

We understand at least 130-plus people are on board, 130 passengers, five or six crew members. We don't have a shot of the plane itself in this picture you see, but you are seeing LAX. We know firefighters and earlier emergency crews have gathered out on the runway right now, as is often the case when we see these situations, there just for the emergency landing.

We will continue to monitor this situation. We are not sure when it might be landing, but we know it has been circling for some time, at least now, again, trying to burn off some fuel. But this was American Airlines Flight 1586. This is a 737 plane headed from LAX to Toronto, took off, took off just fine, took off safely, but the pilot reported that they had blown a tire in the main landing gear.

So, they made a decision to circle around, to head back to LAX. And they're going to try to land this sucker there at the airport after burning off some fuel. Just want to let you know, we are keeping an eye on this story, this situation. We will continue to monitor it and bring you the updates as they happen.

Meantime, a lot of worries about Gustav. We have been talking about that a lot. And the Republicans now are resuming their full convention schedule this evening -- more live coverage of that big event in St. Paul, Minnesota. Plus, again, we are monitoring that situation at LAX. Stay here.


HOLMES: Again, we're giving you a live picture here. LAX -- Los Angeles International Airport, where we are monitoring a plane, which is getting set for an emergency landing. This plane was American Airlines Flight 1586, which took off from L.A., from that airport at 9:50 a.m. local time, according to the American Airlines Web site. That was some while ago. That would have been at least almost three hours ago now.

Well, since that time, the plane has been circling, trying to burn off fuel. They took off and made the decision to come back as LAX because the pilot reported that they blew a tire -- blew a tire in the main landing gear, specifically in the left inboard main gear tire. And they made the decision to come back and try this emergency landing.

We understand that 130 passengers are on board, at least five or six crew members. But, again, this plane was headed to Toronto and is now burning off fuel.

We do have on the line the guy that always helps us out in these situations, our Miles O'Brien, a pilot himself -- Miles, I think you're on the line with us here. They've been in the air for quite some time now, maybe at least three hours. How low do they try to get this fuel before they attempt a landing like this? Surely, this thing was fully fueled heading Toronto. But how long or how much fuel do they try to burn off before they attempt one of these landings?

MILES O'BRIEN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, lighter is better, there's no question, T.J. . And you know you know a lot of people say well, why don't they dump fuel?

Most airplanes these days do not have that capability. And so what they do -- I mean this is an airplane that was flying a long way -- all the way to Toronto. And so it would have had a lot of fuel onboard. So it's going to take them a while to burn it all off and get ready for a landing. It's just -- it's a matter of weight. It really comes down to the issue of planes can land heavier, but it is safer for them to be lighter because if, for whatever reason, they have to go around and take-off once again, they don't have as much margin with that extra weight onboard.

So it could be a while before they get to the point where the flight crew is comfortable with this landing. You know, landing in -- there's a lot of extra wheels on an airplane. That's why there's more than one on the main and nose gear.

And you're listening, by the way, to air traffic control there of Los Angeles tower as they talk to the planes in that area.

But in any case, it's a relatively routine landing. It might require the pilot to -- and the flight crew to compensate one direction or another, depending on which the wheel is out. It's not unlike what happens when you have a flat on the highway. You have to steer in the other direction -- the opposite direction -- to compensate for it.

Obviously, they're going to brief the passengers and tell them to expect a rather rough landing. But there should be plenty of margin for error in all of this to land with one blown tire.

HOLMES: Miles, do we see this often?

How often does this happen, that a tire would blow on take-off?

Is this something that would have happened as it was going down the runway?

It is possible it could have blown as it was retracting after they took off?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, it's most likely probably -- it probably blew on the concrete. There might have been some object there that it struck. Foreign object detection is a big deal at airports and something might have caused it to blow. There's any number of reasons why a tire might blow.

But it doesn't happen that often. You hear about it more often. And, obviously, whenever a plane like this declares an emergency with 130 people onboard, we do hear about it. So it's not that common a thing to have happen.

The good news is the airplane is designed to have plenty of margin with those extra tires and having one tire out is not anything that it would cause too much concern.

Nevertheless, they're doing the right thing -- burning off the fuel and coming back to an airport with a nice long runway, with good weather and with a nice maintenance facility so they can get things squared away.

HOLMES: All right. Once again, we're setting things for our viewers here.

T.J. Holmes here in the CNN headquarters in Atlanta on with our Miles O'Brien, our aviation expert.

We're watching LAX right now. Again, Flight Director, as you were meaning. You're seeing on the right a live shot of LAX. On the left, where a plane has blown a tire upon take-off from LAX. It has been circling for some time, going to attempt an emergency landing. Right now, they are burning off fuel -- Miles, one more thing here. Why go back? If the tire blew, I guess you could retract it still. Why not go ahead and make the trip to Toronto and then you're going to try an emergency landing there? Why would they make the decision to go back to LAX?

M. O'BRIEN: You know, a lot of factors to consider here. First of all, one of the things you -- which, you know, it's a remote thing, but it could -- it could be possible that whatever caused it to blow might cause the landing gear to get caught or snag. And you might not want to retract that landing gear. That's number one. So you wouldn't want to fly across the country with the gear hanging out.

Number two, I don't know what American's facilities are like in Toronto. They may not have the maintenance facilities to make them comfortable. I'm not even sure what -- you know, maybe there's a weather factor involved.

But what a flight crew would do in a situation like that is they would call their operations center, tell them what they had. And the airline would say, you know, really, the best place to -- the best thing to do and the best place to go is to stay in Los Angeles, where we have a lot of capability to, number one, fix the problem, and, really, actually, from the perspective of the airline, to get people on another airplane and get them to their destination.

HOLMES: All right. And I was asking that question that was handed to me here. One of our affiliates reporting that the spokesperson for the FAA said that the pilot actually reported the problem immediately upon take-off and asked to return to the airport, that the pilot knew he had blown a tire immediately and had gotten too far from the airport there and just asked to turn around and come back. So that's the word there.

Miles, as much fuel is on this -- a 737 here is what we're looking at -- as much fuel as they had, as long of a trip as they were going to take, I mean how much burning off of fuel?

This could take quite some time. Again, they've been -- it's been almost three hours they've been in the air now circling.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Well, I would think at least four hours flight time. And so when you add the margins for, you know, the kind of fuel that you would need to have margins for bad weather and holding and so forth, they'd have, you know, maybe upwards of five hours of duration.

And so, you know, with three hours of flying around, they're probably getting close to the point where they feel comfortable coming in. So I don't suspect it to be too long before you'll see them.

We saw the -- just a little while ago, with Flight Explorer -- and that's on about a five or 10 minute lag. But Flight Explorer gives us the capability to see the track of the aircraft. And it appears to be in a holding pattern over Catalina Island there, which is just off of Los Angeles.

So as they circle around and burn off fuel, hopefully the passengers aren't getting too concerned about it, because I think what you'll probably see is a -- what seems like a very routine landing, which, of course, isn't routine because an emergency has been declared.

HOLMES: And, again, they account for these things and have those spare tires -- well, they're not spare tires, but those backup tires -- other tires -- account for things like this. But does this mean something to you -- we're told it is a left inboard main gear tire?

What does that mean and what does that mean for this landing plane?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, you have main gear, which is the landing gear, which are beneath the wings. And then you have the nose gear up in front inboard, meaning it's on the -- not the outside tire. You know, I think if the pilot had to choose, they'd prefer to have the nose gear not have a flat because the -- you obviously do your steering with that.

So having said that, you know, you could land with a flat on the nose gear and probably steer it just fine, compensating for it. They might come down and they might change the thrust of the engines to compensate for the pull that they're going to have from that tire. It's obviously going to want to go to the left because it's the left side. And that's going to slow down in a different way. And so they might adjust the power accordingly. They might steer accordingly.

But I suspect they should be able to keep it on the center line as they bring it on in.

HOLMES: All right. And, Miles, apparently the pilot detected -- he knew he had a blown tire. But what would that feel like on a plane this size, a 737? We've all pretty much had blown tires here and there driving down the highway. But would folks -- would there have been a pretty good jolt to the passengers? Would they have noticed?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I suspect there would have been a -- you know, if it was a blowout, you know, we all know what a blowout sounds like. And that's a big tire. And that's something that I'm sure that would have left a loud report, which I'm sure the passengers and the crew heard. They probably felt it.

I'm told that the -- you know, the brake point, if you will, is about 80 knots or pretty close to 90, 95 miles per hour -- is the point, kind of the point where you make a decision one way or another on these things.

If it's -- if you're less than 80 knots, you stop the airplane and you just hit the brakes and abort the take-off. If you're beyond that, it's wiser to keep pushing onward, go for take-off, get in the air and then just bring it back.

So, presumably, this occurred when they were going fast enough to make a decision to go fly, as opposed to aborting the take-off.

HOLMES: OK. And, once again, we're setting the scene here for our viewers.

We're watching LAX there on your left, a live picture of that airport in Los Angeles. On the right, the Flight Tracker. And the flight we are tracking is American Airlines Flight 1586. It was heading from Los Angeles to Toronto. It took off at 9:50 a.m. local time there in California -- Southern California, heading to Toronto.

The pilot immediately radioed in that he had a blown tire and wanted to come back and land. Over the past several hours, almost three hours now, they have been circling that airport, trying to burn off fuel in order to make this emergency landing.

We've been getting through this with our Miles O'Brien, our aviation expert, who's been helping us with this. Now, Miles, if they've been up there, you say -- I believe you said they likely would not have retracted that gear if he knew he had a blown tire. So he's been circling with that gear out, is that correct?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, that's a little bit of supposition on my part.

HOLMES: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: But that would stand to reason. If he knew immediately that you had that gear problem and you've got them down and locked and -- you know, as they say, three greens -- you have green lights indicating that they're good -- you might not want to mess with that. You might just want to leave the gear down.

And if you're making the decision to return anyway and burn off fuel, you're burning more fuel with that landing gear sticking out anyway. So it might make good sense just to leave it where it is, fly around a little bit and get your weight and your fuel down to where you want it to be and come back home.

HOLMES: All right. And, he said, as little fuel on there as possible. But, again, they've been going for about three hours now. Again, to our viewers...

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, take a look at that route, T.J. .


M. O'BRIEN: Look at that route that they're doing there, as they go around and around and make that holding pattern over Catalina then back over the south land and eventually making their way back to LAX.

HOLMES: My goodness. That is something. That is a heck of a flight. These passengers, who were hoping for a straight line to Toronto. But this is not going to get them to Toronto.

Folks, you are looking at this flight track of this flight, American Airlines 1586. It took off from LAX and was heading to Toronto. A blown tire. The pilot radioed in immediately that he had a blown tire and wanted to head back to the airport. So, as Miles just pointed out, they have been circling -- like they've been circling for the past three hours. That was the flight path they have been on now for the past several hours, trying to burn off some fuel before they make this landing. Miles, I hope you stand by here with us. We're still getting some new wires -- getting other folks on the phone for us here. We know that emergency officials are in place down there, as we always see -- the ambulance, fire department there just in case, in place.

Again, about 140 people on this flight right now. It has been circling for quite some time. At least 130 passengers, five or six crew members.

I see a live picture here on my left. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this is focused in on the plane we're talking about.

And Miles, if you're still with me...

M. O'BRIEN: That could be it, T.J. .

HOLMES: ...what do you see?


Miles, are you still with me?

We're talking about the left side on the left-wing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I'm not sure this is the right airplane.


M. O'BRIEN: I'm trying to see right now. That may not be it. We're looking for a 737.

And I'm looking at the left side.

HOLMES: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: That appears to be an airplane that is looking just fine right now. So I would put that one aside for just a moment.

But let's watch it anyway, just to make sure.


M. O'BRIEN: I see -- you know, you see -- each side has a truck of four landing gear -- four tires. That's definitely not a 737.

HOLMES: It is not?

M. O'BRIEN: No. We'll watch him land, though. Little does he know that he's getting a lot of attention on his landing gear. He'd better make this one a good one (INAUDIBLE), right?

HOLMES: Well, this picture coming to us via our affiliate. I'm not sure why they wanted to zero in on this one. Maybe they're just zeroing in on every American Airlines Flight that's coming in. But like our Miles said, he does not believe this is the one. Again, we were looking for an American Airlines 737 that's supposed to be coming in to make an emergency landing after blowing a tire on that left side, that left inboard main gear tire.

But like I said, Miles, we'll watch this one and let this pilot know he's...

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. And it's -- I should point out that the 737 actually only has two wheels on either side of the main. So the four wheel truck there should have been a dead giveaway. But, you know, you've got me on the spot here, T.J. . I wanted to make sure we had the right plane.

That was an -- that was an excellent routine landing at LAX, which just made global attention.


M. O'BRIEN: I don't know if that pilot realizes that he was -- had that much pressure on that landing, actually.

HOLMES: We will make sure we get that pilot's name and let him know his skills were on display for the world without him even knowing it.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

HOLMES: But to set this again seriously here, we're going to have you stand by with us here for a second, Miles, while we continue to monitor what's happening there.

We need to go back to some other news. There's been a lot of weather news. And we need to head back to Jacqui Jeras, where we're having an issue -- a tornado warning.

Do I have that right?

JERAS: That's right. Yes. This is Gustav-related. This is in Louisiana, in St. Tammany Parish.

We do have a tornado now that has been confirmed. A National Weather Service employee is reporting a tornado just north of the interstate near Abita Springs. This tornado is moving up to the north at 23 miles per hour.

There you see it over my shoulder, again, moving in a northerly direction. So you need to seek shelter now. This is just to the east of Covington. You need to be seeking shelter if you live in Covington with this storm, as well.

So we actually have a report of a tornado. No word on any damage or any injuries.

If we get anymore on that, we'll bring it to you.

We also just got a tornado warning in Eastern Lincoln County. This is in Mississippi -- a Doppler radar indicated a tornado on that one.

But this threat of tornados continues in this area. There's been a watch in effect throughout the afternoon.

So Gustav still causing some trouble down there near the Gulf Coast.

HOLMES: All right. Gustav continues. Jacqui Jeras, thank you so much for monitoring that.

And ladies and gentlemen, we are monitoring that weather situation and also this situation. LAX -- an airplane took off several hours ago, blew a tire upon take-off. It is now circling around LAX, planning on making an emergency landing. They're trying to burn off some fuel right now.

We are monitoring both of those stories, that weather story related to Gustav -- that tornado warning -- and also the situation out of LAX.

Stay here. We're all over it.


HOLMES: Welcome back with us here.

We've been watching for an emergency landing of a plane -- an American Airlines plane that blew a tire. It's been circling, trying to burn off some fuel.

Miles O'Brien is still with us, our aviation expert. Is this possibly the plane we're looking for -- Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, T.J. .


M. O'BRIEN: We're certainly seeing a 737 here. It's American. I'm trying to pick out if it's the right one. Let's take a look at this landing gear. This could very well be it. After a couple of hours of burning off fuel, once you get the speeds right and the weight right. This 737 now appears to be headed back to LAX, Los Angeles, instead of Toronto (INAUDIBLE) had hoped to go.

Let's watch him land and see if they have a problem.


HOLMES: Well, Miles, he looks to be in pretty good shape there.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. If he had a shredded tire that didn't cause him any difficulty at all, did it? I mean that appears to be a textbook landing.

HOLMES: So does it appear -- again, we haven't gotten exactly confirmation that this was our flight. Or have you been able to pick up, is this the flight we're looking for? Again, American Airlines 1586, that had a blown tire at take-off.

M. O'BRIEN: I think I just saw a piece come off, so I think that may be it.


M. O'BRIEN: It may be the tire that could have been (INAUDIBLE) further shredding or perhaps even another tire that blew because of the extra weight on it. It will be -- you know, you know, I think it will be quite evident in just a moment here to see if they're going to taxi. It appears from the way they're slowing down (INAUDIBLE) backdrop following him, as well. That's the one. And we can just tell them anybody that's expecting loved ones in Toronto, that are safe and sound, in the wrong city at the moment.


M. O'BRIEN: And that was a textbook landing on the part of that flight crew that brought that 737 back to Los Angeles with that shredded tire.

HOLMES: Well, you're absolutely right. Their loved ones took off OK and they landed OK, but they just didn't land in the right place.

Again, ladies and gentlemen, if you've been with us for the past several minutes, we've been keeping our eye out for this plane in particular, that has been circling for the past couple of hours at LAX after blowing a tire after taking off. They made the decision to go back and try an emergency landing.

They blew a tire on the left inboard main gear tire, the left side, under the wing of the plane there. And that's what Miles O'Brien has been keeping an eye on.

So this appears now, with the emergency crews and trucks showing up there, that this was, in fact, the particular plane we had been looking for. But it is on the ground.

So a successful textbook, as our Miles O'Brien said. But it didn't look like it was affected too much by that landing gear and by that tire that they did blow.

So good news. It landed safely. A good resolution to this issue.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this. And, Miles, we certainly appreciate you and we appreciate that other pilot for letting us get a look at him. We were looking at the wrong plane there for a while.

M. O'BRIEN: Absolutely. We saw two good American landings -- one under little more duress, but right there on the center line you see the crew just making sure everything is OK Obviously, a situation like this, you could spark a fire. There's no indication of that whatsoever.

And on board right now, it's important for the flight crew to keep everybody calm, make sure they just have an orderly deplaning. I would -- I'm not going to say evacuation because that may not be called for at this stage -- an orderly deplaning of that 737. HOLMES: All right. Again, our Miles O'Brien.

We certainly appreciate you. I certainly appreciate you being here and walking us through this.

But we're certainly happy to see this plane on the ground and able to resolve this one quite safely.

Miles, thank you so much.

Talk to you again soon here, buddy.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

HOLMES: Well, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to head back to some other weather-related news.

Of course, our Don Lemon is in New Orleans keeping an eye on Gustav. And we just heard about a tornado warning related to that hurricane, as well. We'll get a final check on the goings on in the weather department and in New Orleans, when we come back.

Don will be with us.


LEMON: All right. We want to take a look -- this happened just moments ago. This is Flight 1586, American Airlines, from Toronto -- going to Toronto from LAX -- a 737, Boeing 737. It blew a left inboard main gear tire. They traveled around burning some fuel. But according to our Miles O'Brien, who watched this land, it was a textbook landing. The pilot called in an emergency landing just after take-off.

All is well. They circled to burn off that fuel and then landed very safely. You saw the officials there checking it out.

So all is well at LAX with that American Airlines' flight.

In the meantime, we want to tell you some developing news as it concerns Hurricane Gustav here on the Louisiana coast and all along the coast. The president, we have just confirmed -- CNN has just confirmed -- will be traveling here on Wednesday to assess the damage and also to talk to officials here about the recovery efforts and exactly what's going on.

Of course, we will follow all the coverage right here on CNN when the president gets to town to check out what's going on when it comes to hurricane damage here -- and probably talk to some of those people who may be returning home, as well.

In the meantime, Gustav still not over.

Our Jacqui Jeras is back in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

And she is she's tracking a tornado warning in the area.

What do you have -- Jacqui?

JERAS: Yes, that tornado warning for St. Tammany Parish has been extended now a little bit later, until about 3:30 Central time. And it also now includes Central Washington Parish.

Our radar showing you -- that purple box behind me. There you can see the cell of concern. This is moving in a northerly direction. So it's pushing on up to the north.

If you live, say -- this is about 14 miles south of Enon. So this is going to be moving into your town probably very shortly here, because it's moving at a good rate, at 25 miles per hour.

The threat of tornadoes continues in this area across -- it includes you in New Orleans, up to Baton Rouge, Hattiesburg, Jackson and even on up toward Greenville. So those outer bands still having some rotation in them.

Our other big concern yet with Gustav is the threat of flooding. Flash flood watches and warnings have been put in effect from the coast all the way on up into Missouri now. In fact, northern parts of Louisiana could see as much as three to six inches on top of what you already have.

And, of course, we're watching the tropics, as well. Not just Gustav, but we've got Hanna. We've got Ike. We've got Josephine. And believe it or not, it looks like a little tropical wave might be coming off the African coast, as well. And we're going to cover that completely for you coming up in a little bit in "THE SIT ROOM" -- Don?

LEMON: All right, so you're telling us that we are going to be covering all that and we won't get any sleep.

You know what, Jacqui, that's what we do.

JERAS: It's going to be a long night.

LEMON: And, you know, I've been noticing, too, that clouds have been rolling in -- the storm clouds here, as well, where I am in St. Bernard Parish. So we're still seeing the effects of Gustav -- still seeing the effects of that system.

JERAS: Absolutely.

LEMON: So our Jacqui Jeras joining us now.

JERAS: It's going to be a couple of days.

LEMON: All right, Jacqui.

Thank you very much for that.

Meantime, the closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

Our Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at this very busy day for us. And I'm sure it was very busy trading day after yesterday -- the markets were closed, Susan.


And, you know, we've been monitoring what's been happening where you are, Don. You know, Katrina a huge story on Wall Street. And a big sigh of relief that it was nothing like it -- at this point, like Katrina. You know, this is a region rich with oil rigs, refineries, all sorts of energy facilities.


LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that, Susan.

Susan, now we turn it over to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer, who is live in St. Paul.

Take it away -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much.