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Politicians On Parade; 2012 GOP Veepstakes; "Betting On America"; Heat Wave Loosens, But Doesn't Break; Western Wildfires Still Raging; Military Veterans Help Firefighters; Fourth Of July Face Off; Pilot Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity; Manchester United Plans $100M IPO; Tall Ship Sail At Boston's Harborfest; PLO's Arafat May Have Been Poisoned; Lower Gas Prices Boost Travel; Almost One Million Still without Power; Mistaken Vote Turns Bill into a Law; Inside "Little Detroit"; Officials Launch Probe of Mexico Election

Aired July 04, 2012 - 09:59   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, Mitt Romney on parade. The White House candidate celebrated the 4th of July in the New Hampshire town where he has his summer home. We'll take you there live.

Was Yasser Arafat poisoned? Tests run on the late PLO leaders' personal effects have found high levels of radiation. Findings are not definitive. The next step would be to test Arafat's body.

Plus --


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Just thing how many we got into one sentence. That was really impressive.

Who wrote this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?

COSTELLO: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unplugged at the Nathan's hot dog weigh-ins. It seems like he couldn't stomach the puns like let me be frank and it's going to be a dog fight and I'll relish it. It's Bloomberg like we've never seen him.

And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Happy, happy Fourth of July. I hope you have the day off and you are enjoying it.

We begin this hour with something synonymous with the Fourth of July, presidential politics. It may have just four electoral votes, but the state of New Hampshire is ground zero for Mitt Romney this week.

And today, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will celebrate the nation's birth in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. That's where we find our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Good morning, Dana. DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, you said that it is sort of mandatory for candidates to be out on the Fourth of July. This is the other thing that's mandatory.

I just want you to look at the scene here where Mitt Romney is going to walk. I mean, how Americana is this? It gives you the chills a little bit. The corner store back there, you have people lined up with their American flag, hats and so on along the parade route.

The country store, of course, you can't forget the lemonade stand. This is the kind of scene that Mitt Romney is going to bending on when we walks on this parade route here in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

You mentioned the fact that this is not just any town to him. It is the place where he has one of his homes and he's been spending all week here. This is the first time we're going see him out in public, Carol.

And it is going to be a time that we're actually going to hear from him. He's going to make remarks and so we'll get some policy hopefully as well as some pictures.

COSTELLO: And we may find out -- I understand some of the people mention his potential VP picks for Romney are also in New Hampshire. So might we find out who Romney's running mate will be?

BASH: I doubt we're going to find out today, but, you're right. There are some interesting visitors who are here. One is not a visitor per se. It's actually her home state and that is Kelly Ayotte.

She is actually going to walk down this parade route with Governor Romney. She is a freshman senator, a Republican obviously from New Hampshire.

And you know, when you talk about -- people talk about the question of whether or not there are any women on Mitt Romney's list. They question whether or not she's on the list, she's a freshman.

For lots of reasons, we are told that Mitt Romney is looking for somebody with more experience than that. Another person though who does have a lot of experience and who's going to be here in New Hampshire is Rob Portman, another senator.

He's from the -- another important state of Ohio. He is going to be doing a fundraiser for New Hampshire Republicans and having some other events here this coming weekend.

Right now, there is no on-the-record indication that he's going have a private meeting with Mitt Romney, but you know how these things go. We've covered it for years. When we cover these meetings, they try to be tight-lipped about it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I know you have your ways. Dana Bash, thank you. BASH: We try.

COSTELLO: Yes, thank you so much. Over the next two days, President Obama will take his bid for re-election directly to the voters during a bus tour called "Betting on America."

The tour runs through the critical swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The president beat Republican John McCain by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania and by 5 percentage points in Ohio in 2008.

But this year both states are viewed as competitive and the president will not be alone as the former Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty and Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana will make their case for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney in those very same states.

In the meantime a group described as a, quote, "Conservative Political Action Committee," is sponsoring something it calls the "Defeat Barack Obama Telethon."

Participants include Herman Cain, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and actress Janine Turner of Northern Exposure fame. The event is reportedly taking place this afternoon in Las Vegas and supposedly you can watch it online.

The presidential race may be heating up, but the real scorcher may be as close as your doorstep. Today's continuing heat will have many wondering if they really want to leave the air conditioning for that picnic outside. Mid and upper 90s and even temperatures at 100 still feel the map.

Alexandra Steel is back with us now for a look at what's ahead. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, it's 95 degrees. Are you going out to the barbecue and fireworks? Me too. All right, so, Carol, heat, of course, is continuing be story, but also scattered showers and thunderstorms.

Just remember this. When thunder roars, go indoors. You can get struck by lightning, believe it or not, even when you're just hearing the thunder. So it can get you even though you're not seeing anything.

So be mindful of that. Maybe if you are outdoors, have a metal top vehicle, you know where it is. You kind of have a plan just in case.

But here's really the extreme heat, believe it or not. Minneapolis, it may feel today between 110 and 112. Temperatures alone, 100 degrees and the dew point, that's the measure of the moisture in the air.

So the uncomfortable factor, that's really worse than it has been in seven days. So here's a look what we're going to see. Heat indices, you can see between 100 and 115. Forecast for today, 95 in Washington.

But it's Minneapolis to New York and Washington where scattered showers and storms will be prevalent so no washout by any means really anywhere in the country. But because there's so much juice, so much moisture in air, we will see scattered storms.

Although most of them will probably be in the afternoon, until late afternoon so by sunset, around 10:00, 9:00 p.m. tonight, wherever you are, we're going to watch most of those abate.

So a lot of the fireworks if they're going off places like Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, a lot of them not even doing the fireworks because of the fears of wildfires because of the drought conditions.

All right, so there we are for the forecast today. All right, so this is all that moisture in the air that will fire off those storms. The 9:00 temperatures, New York 86, Boston 78.

Washington, I think the computer model is a little erroneous there. I think it's going to feel a lot warmer than that, 92 at 9:00. New Orleans 87, Atlanta still in the 90s. Minneapolis, can you believe, Carol?

Minneapolis, warmer today than even as far as south as you could in the lower 48. So really an uncomfortable night, uncomfortable day there, but we got a couple more days of it too with temperatures around 100.

COSTELLO: Well, at least it's a holiday and we complain to the closest people to us.

STEELE: The ones we love.

COSTELLO: The ones we love.

STEELE: That can't leave us.

COSTELLO: Seriously. Thanks, Alexandra.

Hot, dry conditions have played a huge role in the wildfires burning out west. These are exclusive pictures taken by Colorado firefighters as they fought the flames.

Right now, though, 14 states are dealing with active fires. In Montana, a fire has burned more than 186,000 acres in Custer National Forest.

And in Colorado, firefighters keep making headway against the Waldo Canyon blaze, hoping to gain more ground on their 70 percent containment.

The wildfires out west are providing an opportunity of sorts for one group of job seekers dealing with soaring unemployment rates. They're military veterans and they're being trained for the front lines of another kind of battle.

Here's CNN's Martin Savage.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Josiah Newell fought through two tours in Iraq, but it didn't prepare him for the battle of finding a job after the military.

JOSIAH NEWELL, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Yes, I must have applied 60, 70 different jobs and never got a call back.

SAVIDGE: Now he's traded his M4 rifle for a 25 inch chain saw and he's learning to use it to fight a new enemy. On a remote mountainside in Western Colorado, he clears brush that would be fuel for a possible wild fire. With him is fellow vet, Sean Frey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just sounded wonderful. It sounded like everything I wanted.

SAVIDGE: Frey says life in the Navy was not so different from the training he's doing now.

SEAN FREY, NAVY VETERAN: The structure is very much the same. The guys who were in charge are just like the NCO's in the military.

SAVIDGE: Tim Foulkes is not from the military, but he is a veteran of the woods. His job is to train the vets and considers it an honor.

TIM FOULKES, SUPERVISOR, VETERANS FIRE CORPS: Teamwork, the respect. It's unlike anything I've experienced in all my years of doing this work.

SAVIDGE: The veteran's fire corps dates back to 2009. Mostly funded by the U.S. Forest Service, it has trained more than 240 veterans in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico to use chain saws and fight fires.

The vets earn a small salary during the 24-week program. For graduates, well, you could say the job market is on fire.

KEVIN HEINER, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SW CONSERVATION CORPS: We were seeing large accurate fires all over the west. There's a great need for fire suppression at the moment.

SAVIDGE: Newell used to be in the Army.

(on camera): Lessons learned in say like Iraq, how do they apply in a mountain setting like this?

NEWELL: You've still got your people underneath and you got to keep them out from harm's way.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Newell says he loves the view from his office and who could blame him.

(on camera): Where do you see yourself going next? NEWELL: I want to get on fire.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Former Marine Ross Schumaker, former medics Eric Castaneda and former Army Captain Lou Savacool are already on fire battling wildfires is part of an elite team known as "Hot Shots."

ROSS SCHUMAKER: If I didn't find a program, I could be living back home with mom and dad. I have no idea what I'd be doing now.

SAVIDGE: For Frey training to fight fires fits in with why he joined the military in the first place.

FREY: I need to know I'm doing something important.

NEWELL: No, it's definitely not for everyone. It's work. It is work.

SAVIDGE: But it's also rewarding and needed and helping unemployed vets of Iraq and Afghanistan to go from the line of fire to the fire in line. Martin Savidge, CNN, Cortez, Colorado.


COSTELLO: We've had a lot of people ask how they can help those who have lost their homes and belongings to these wildfires. If you want to help victims, you go to and that will have information on there to tell you exactly how you can help these folks.

Switching gears now to a Fourth of July tradition that's definitely not for anyone with a weak stomach, in 90 minutes or so the Annual Nathan's Hot dog-eating Contest will kick off at New York City's Coney Island.

Contestants including a man going for his six straight win are weighing and so is the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg who wasn't too thrilled about the speech he gave in honor of the event.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: If one of the dogged pursuers will kindly ketchup, cut the mustard and be pronounced weiner. No question on how many will get in the dog fight. Just think how many we got into one sentence. That was really impressive. Who wrote this --


COSTELLO: Wow, let's bring in Alison Kosik. She is in Brooklyn and all kidding aside, this event brings in a lot of money, right?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does bring in a lot of money. Think of the price money that's going to come up this. The two people who will win are each going to get $20,000 for wolfing down as many hot dogs as they can in 10 minutes. When you look at it, sort, if you step back from this disgusting quality of what's going to be happening here on that stage in a couple of hours.

I mean, this really is a competitive sport and it draws a lot of interest. Check this out. We got 2-1/2 hours to go before the women take the stage and these crowds are already gathering.

They're sitting out here in the sun to witness this feat of just downing these hot dogs one after another. As I said, the countdown is under way.

Two and a half hours before the women take the stage. You hear the rehearsals right behind me. They're gearing up for the big heroes. Now these big two contenders are trying to hold their titles.

Joey Chestnut, he wolfed down 68 hot dogs. He's trying to beat that title. Sonya Thomas is the female contender. She's going to try and top her record of 51 hot dogs down in 10 minutes.

I want to give you a little demonstration of maybe how they go ahead and do it. They're not putting ketchup or mustard not even relish on this thing.

What they usually do to make the hot dog, kind of go down easier. They take the hot dog out, split it in half and eat it double white. They have to do it with water and it goes down easier. Sounds good. Want to try it, Carol?

COSTELLO: No, thank you. I just don't understand why people are so amazed by this event. But it is fun and I know you can barely hear me, we can barely hear you because of the rehearsals going on, but we've got the gist.

Thank you very much, Alison Kosik reporting live from Coney Island. We'll be right back.


CAPTAIN NICOLE SMITH, U.S. ARMY: Hi. This is Captain Nicole Smith serving in Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. I'd like to say happy Fourth of July to all my family and friends in Pennsylvania, to all the aviation group in Boise, Idaho and the soldiers serving around the world. Happy Fourth of July.



COSTELLO: It's 15 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories.

JetBlue pilot, Clayton Osbon who suffered an apparent meltdown during a flight in March, interfered with a flight crew has been found not guilty by reason of insanity. That decision came from a judge overseeing the case. Osbon is now being held at a low security federal prison.

In money news, you can own a piece of the world's most popular soccer team. Manchester United plans $100 million public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The move aimed at reducing some of the team's massive debt estimated at $363 million.

Boston's Harborfest caps off a week-long celebration today. Dozens of Navy vessels and tall ships are in the harbor now. This year's event marks the bicentennial of the war of 1812 and a chance to honor the heroes of old iron side's, the "USS Constitution."

This morning there's new intrigue over the death of one of the most decisive leaders of our time. A new conspiracy theory suggests Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat was poisoned.

His widow reportedly wants his body exhumed for testing. The reason, his personal belongings were contaminated with a highly radioactive element adding to the (inaudible) mystery.

Polonium is the same substance used to kill a former Russian spy who had begun working for British intelligence.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in London to tell us more. Good morning, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning. It is a fascinating twist in this already very interesting saga that surrounded the death of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

It's this independent lab in Switzerland that's tested some of the belongings given to it by his widow when he was evacuated to receive medical treatment in Paris back in 2004.

On it they didn't find any regular toxins. They're investigating what could have been the possible cause of his death, but they did find this very radioactive substance in some quite high levels, polonium as you mentioned.

Polonium is the substance that was used to poison Alexander Litenyanco back in 2006, two years after Yasser Arafat died. It's an extremely interesting substance because it's very hard to produce, first of all.

It's mainly produced inside Russia and inside nuclear reactors there, 97 percent of it in fact. It's then shipped almost entirely to the United States where it's used in various applications by U.S. companies.

So it's very difficult for individuals to get hold of it. The analysis when Litenyanco was poisoned. The only people that could really get hold of this substance in such high levels to kill someone that would be state actor, state intelligence organizations.

Things like that. It's very difficult to detect. Once you do detect it, you can trace which reactor it was manufactured in. So it's a very traceable highly poisonous material. Obviously, adds new questions potentially if it's confirmed about the death of Yasser Arafat -- Carol.

COSTELLO: You have to wonder though how likely is it that if Arafat's body is exhumed, they'll find traces of this substance in his tissue.

CHANCE: It's a very difficult issue because one of the interesting things about polonium 210 and one of the reasons it's been favored as something to poison people with, to assassinate people with is it has a half life of 138 days.

That means every 138 days, the quantity of it -- obviously there have been many years that have passed since 2004. So if there are any traces remaining of polonium 210 inside Arafat's body, it will be very, very tiny indeed.

COSTELLO: I'm sure you'll keep following the story. Matthew Chance reporting live for us from London.

If you're on the road, are you listening to us via satellite radio? Well, you know you have plenty of company. We'll tell you what has drivers all pumped up this Fourth of July. Although I'm sure you can guess the answer.


COSTELLO: Now's your chance to talk back on one of the stories of today. The question for you this morning, what's your definition of a hero?

July 4th, the day of national pride, we're thinking about American heroes like our founding fathers and those who fought and died for America's independence.

Back in the day, it was a cinch to figure out who our heroes were. Today, it's not so clear. Illinois Representative Joe Walsh seems to think a true hero must show humility.

You see, Congressman Walsh, is running for re-election against war veteran Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs in Iraq. Here he is campaigning in a video posted by the liberal web site,


REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: I'm running against a woman who, by God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, men and women who serve us that's the last thing they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and so in awe of what they have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Walsh says he didn't mean to imply Duckworth wasn't a here, but Duckworth doesn't believe that. That aside, seriously, politics is a nasty game, but it's clear the game is muddying our definition of hero.

Democrats are guilty too. Rudy Giuliani was considered America's mayor after 9/11. He was "Times" person of the year and was knighted by the queen.

But when he ran for president, I guess, he didn't show much humility either. Back then Joe Biden said there were only two things that Giuliani mentioned in a sentence, a noun, a verb, and 9/11.

So we wondered. Politics aside, what's your definition of a hero? Your comments later this hour.

Many of you are taking advantage of lowered gas prices this holiday week. Prices are down 23 cents from a year ago, but they're creeping back up ever slowly.

The national average is up already a penny from yesterday. CNN's David Mattingly joins us now. He's downtown in Atlanta. Lots of people on the road this July 4th holiday.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this really has been a remarkable summer when you talk about gas prices because for 78 straight days we saw gas prices at the pump right here coming down.

Well, that trend was over, but it was still enough for people to look at the holiday period this week and think road trip.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): More Americans in more cars are traveling more miles this Fourth of July holiday. Lower gas price is one of the big reasons why. AAA estimates more than 42 million Americans are on the move during their time off, the most since 2007. Eight out of ten are hitting the highway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year we've seen the highest volume of vehicle travel for the Fourth of July holiday period in over a decade.

MATTINGLY: Nationally, prices for regular fell earlier this week to $3 a gallon in Alabama and $3.74 in California. There's a feeling of get it while you can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am taking advantage of the gas prices. Yes. I'd better fill up now. Fill up now and take advantage of this.

MATTINGLY: Prices average about 24 cents a gallon less than last year, but 60 cents more than in 2010. And already there are signs this consumer roller coaster is already on the climb again maybe up 10 to 15 cents more on average.

BETH HEINSON, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICE: Sort of a range of $3.25 to $3.50 through the summer until about September.

MATTINGLY: And just yesterday the price of oil jump more than 4 percent, the highest since May.


MATTINGLY: And part of the reason for that, of course, is uncertainly, uncertainty in the Middle East -- with a possibility of a hurricane disrupting the oil.

That's why it's bumping up right now. But for today here in Atlanta at the station where we're at, $3.25, that's about 5 to 8 cents less than what you'd see what the national average sales. It's still plenty to celebrate here at least in Atlanta for the Fourth of July -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, it's funny that we're celebrating gas prices, which are still over $3 a gallon in most states of the country, but you take what you can get. David Mattingly.

MATTINGLY: That's right. It's all relative, but still better than last year.

COSTELLO: True. David Mattingly looking at the glass half full. We like that. Still ahead, the sun beams down, the mercury inches up. The sun does not take a holiday.


COSTELLO: Thirty minutes past the hour. Good morning to you. Happy 4th. I'm Carol Costello stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM.

It's hard to look at this video and then find any good news in it. But there is a bit of good news. Today the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs is more than 70 percent contained. As you know the fire killed two people, incinerated about 18,000 acres and destroyed nearly 350 homes. It is the most destructive fire in Colorado's history.

That JetBlue pilot who went a little bit crazy in March and forced an emergency landing was insane at the time. That's the judge's ruling. As a result the judge says Clayton Osbon is not guilty of interfering with the flight crew. He could have gotten up to 20 years in prison. Flight attendants wrestled Osbon to the floor, the flight landed safely in Texas.

Former Commerce Secretary John Bryson will not be charged for two auto crashes last month in Los Angeles. Tests found no sign of alcohol in Bryson's system but they did find traces of the sleep aid Ambien, but not enough to impair Bryson. The Commerce Secretary resigned last month. He took medical leave after the accidents which he blamed on seizures.

Across much of the nation, the heat wave just keeps grinding away. We'll show you what you can expect today but first a look what -- a look at the people most at its mercy, the people still without electricity and without any way of keeping cool.

Brian Todd is live in Charleston, West Virginia. Why is it taking so long to restore power there, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Carol, this scene can pretty much give you that answer. Power crews in West Virginia throughout the state both in areas like this where there are roads and then a lot of rural areas where there are no roads are coming across scenes like this, fallen trees. It's a huge problem. They are taking out power lines left and right. They've taken out power lines left and right and when they come upon a scene like this, they've got to clear the small brush first, they've got to chop up the other parts of the tree.

Our photo journalist John Bend (ph) and I are going kind of take you over to this area here. This is another problem that they encounter when they come upon a tree on a power line.

See this line right here, this could still be energized. The power company official told me a short time ago when it takes out a power line if it's still sitting on it and the line has not touched the ground yet, it could still be energized so a real hazard for the power crews when they come upon these scenes.

These are things that they have to clear out, they have to make sure they navigate through them carefully and then try to clear the trees, try to get the lines back up. Try to fix the transformers and the polls.

So if you imagine that scene repeated over and over and over again in this state, you can kind of see why so many people are still without power. Roughly a quarter to a third of the customers in this state still without power. Some of them may not get it back until this weekend Carol and you know you see things like this. You can kind of see what the power teams are up against.

COSTELLO: You sure can. Brian Todd reporting live from Charleston, West Virginia.

For those who do have power, today's continuing heat wave will have many wondering if they really want to leave the air conditioning and go outside for that big family picnic. Upper 80s and 90s still fill the map; mercifully we're seeing fewer 100 degree temperatures today.

Alexandra Steele is here with a look at what's ahead. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. And good morning everyone. Maybe you're at home watching from your kitchen or your living room or you bedroom and you are getting to take a break. The heat, it is not.

So really, Kansas City once again today, 102 degrees. Most definitely Kansas from Wichita to Kansas City they're going to go down in the record books with the stretch of heat. Minneapolis 100 will feel like between 110 and 112. The heat index today will be higher than even it's been. Although these temperatures 95 in Washington, 94 in Atlanta, the humidity is so much higher and the dew point is so much higher than it's been. The heat index values are what it will like today, a little be oppressive. Dot, dot, dot.

Here is the good news, look at this hey, Denver from 100 down to 78 by Sunday. So a relief in sight for you; St. Louis, not much, I told you Wichita and Kansas not much. But Chicago 101 tomorrow, 81 by Sunday.

And look at Washington, D.C. 100 today, 100 through Friday. 92 by Sunday Carol. So a little bit of relief. It's 92 who thought that would feel so good with their humidity.

COSTELLO: Oh no, wow, 92. We love that.


COSTELLO: Thanks, Alexandra.


COSTELLO: We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: A mistaken vote played to one political party's advantage on a very controversial issue. A North Carolina lawmaker accidentally voted in favor of legalizing a controversial practice known as fracking instead of voting against it.

Now she wants to change her vote to what she meant it to be but the leadership is saying, "No way".

Here's Laura Leslie of CNN affiliate WRAL.


LAURA LESLIE, REPORTER, WRAL News (voice-over): Green and red, aye and no. It might seem hard to confuse them but Representative Becky Carney says that's exactly what happened late Monday night when she accidentally voted to legalize fracking.

BECKY CARNEY (D), NORTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: I made a mistake and I tried to get recognized to change it as people have been doing all night on other bills and it was too late because it changed the outcome of the vote.

LESLIE: House rules allow members to change their votes as long as it does not affect the outcome of the bill, they do that a lot. They push the wrong button and then change their votes later. But this vote did affect the veto override, so the rules don't allow Carney to change it, says Representative Paul Stamm, no matter what her intentions were.

PAUL STAMM (R), NORTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: That's doesn't count in legislation. It's what you actually -- how you vote, not how you wish to vote.

LESLIE: Carney could have asked for that rule to be suspended but she never got the chance. Stamm used a parliamentary move called a "clincher" to make sure she couldn't change it. Speaker Thom Tillis defended that maneuver.

So is it the best way to make public policy based on a mistake?

THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: The -- I think that the -- the member was well aware of how to vote, green or red. For whatever reason, maybe it was a mistake, maybe she decided to change her vote, but we can't do that.

LESLIE: Carney says it was a mistake and she takes responsibility for it. But she says midnight end of session votes don't exactly help.

CARNEY: I feel rotten and I feel tired. And I feel mistakes are made constantly when people are tired and under the stress of pushing to get out of here.

LESLIE: Laura Leslie, WRAL News, Raleigh.


COSTELLO: The Rust Belt is made up of several states. They sent one for President Obama in 2008 and where the President is now locked in a tough battle for re-election. Taking on a road trip to region to hear what voters have to say about the race for the White House.


COSTELLO: This week the CNN NEWSROOM is hitting the road for a special series. Poppy Harlow towards the Rust Belt, driving from Wisconsin to Indiana to Michigan and Ohio to take the pulse of voters in key auto towns. All four states elected Obama in 2008 but one of those states, Indiana, is now leaning toward Mitt Romney.

Poppy visited Kokomo, one Indiana town that relies heavily on the auto industry for good jobs. While the auto bailout may have kept residents employed, it does not guarantee votes for President Obama.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we rolled into Kokomo, Indiana, it was 93 degrees. Few clouds in the sky, reflecting the revival of this Rust Belt town.

MAYOR GREG GOODNIGHT (D), KOKOMO, INDIANA: Our three largest employers are all automotive companies, Chrysler, General Motor, and Delphi.

HARLOW: We came to meet Cliff Pitcher and Dewayne Bates at their neighborhood bar, two friends whose blue-collar auto careers have follow a similar path but whose politics have not.

(on camera): Do you agree on who the next president should be?


DEWAYNE BATES, AUTO WORKER: And I'm leaning toward Mitt Romney.

HARLOW: Why Obama?

PITCHER: Because I have a job today.

HARLOW (voice-over): He credits the auto bailout which Romney opposed. You see, folks here call Kokomo "Little Detroit".

BATES: If it wasn't for Obama, I would not have a pension. I would not have insurance.

HARLOW: Despite that Dewayne doesn't think President Obama deserves another four years.

BATES: We're not any much better off than what we were two and a half years ago.

PITCHER: You cash some check last time.

BATES: Yes, I'm thankful for that.

PITCHER: I'm better off.

HARLOW: Kokomo's unemployment topped 20 percent in 2009 when GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. It's down to 9.7 percent when we visit.

(on camera): Why do you think Romney would be better for the U.S. economy right now.

BATES: I think he can get -- go after the jobs and maybe he can get some new jobs back in America.

PITCHER: Romney might be able to create jobs but they're going to pay $7 or $8 an hour. You know, honestly and truly I can't support my family on $7 or $8 with no benefits.

HARLOW (voice-over): We asked the two to make their best argument to each other.

PITCHER: Dewayne, I have a job. You have a pension. We both have insurance. We can still raise our families. And no one in this town is gone.

BATES: We've still got a rough road ahead of us. But I feel Romney, his background and experience in business can help turn this economy around.

HARLOW: The debate is going on all over Indiana.

(on camera): This is a really fascinating state politically. It voted for Obama in 2008, electing a Democrat as president for the first time since LBJ, but right now the state is leaning towards Romney.

(voice-over): In Kokomo, you can really see the politics play out in the stories of auto body shops on opposite sides of town. Alan Wilson is on the south side. He credits Obama.

ALAN WILSON, AUTO WORKER: I've got three more employees than we used to have, so our business has doubled.

HARLOW: How's business?


HARLOW (voice-over): Rick McClain is on the north side.

MCCLAIN: I'm the guy in the middle that pays the taxes. It's actually crippled me.

HARLOW (on camera): You're ready for a change it sounds like.

MCCLAIN: It's going to happen.

HARLOW: You're so confident.

MCCLAIN: Oh, yes. There's so many people around here. I understand that East Coast and West Coast probably are pro Obama. That's fine. But the people in the Midwest have had enough. I mean we've been stepped on. We've paid enough bills.

HARLOW (voice-over): As for Cliff and Dewayne, they'll be voting.

BATES: I never missed.

PITCHER: You can check my record.

HARLOW: Again, this year, one of them is going to lose.


COSTELLO: Poppy Harlow now joins me from New York. You know, have people really made up their minds as of yet? Still a couple of months till the presidential election. Are they like, not going to change their minds at all, do you find?

HARLOW: It's a great question. I think that they have not totally made up their mind. You know, there are some, who you heard from in the piece like Cliff Pitcher, the Chrysler worker. Carol he is surely going to back Obama. And you heard from Rick McClain at the end who owns that auto body show; he is surely going to back Obama. But then there are people like Dewayne Bates, who right now he's acting Romney but he's sort of a little bit more in the middle, you know.

What I think is interesting about Kokomo is that clearly, it went from over 20 percent unemployment to less than half that now largely because of the auto bailout. But you know, what people like Rick McClain tell me and I just talked to him on the phone again this morning is he said, it kind of feels like the government picked and chose winners and losers in all of that.

And he said the big news in town today is that Chrysler and auto sales are up which they are an escort from people that work in Nasdaq. They're for people like him, they're not feeling it. I've heard that across town. Is it some sectors are doing really well, and others aren't.

I thing I think is really interesting about Indiana. This is clearly the biggest challenge of the four seats that we visited for President Obama. He's going to have his biggest uphill battle there.

And, Richard Murdock he's a Republican running for Senate and in Indiana carol. He is the one who challenged the auto bailout calling it unconstitutional. Try to take it all the way up to the Supreme Court. Even in a state where clearly the auto industry is very important. So it's very divided.

and the other state that's divided is Michigan. We're going to take you tomorrow to -- right outside of Detroit Michigan to talk about the auto bailout in the auto bailout and what is Romney's home state.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Poppy Harlow, thanks so much.


Checking our top stories now at 47 minutes past the hour. Heat warnings up for parts of ten states today, making it even more miserable. Nearly 1 million homes without power after last weekend's storms. Utility crews working this holiday to restore power. Some areas might not get electricity back on until next week.

A former marine has been convicted of possessing this fully automatic AK-47. Trial evidence showed Joel Miller smuggled the chrome-plated machine gun into the United States, following his tour of duty in Iraq. The weapon may have belonged to a member of Saddam Hussein's royal guard.

In money news, the victory -- Automakers take big jump in sales for June. Tell us or Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors up 14 percent from the same time last year. Experts say consumers are heading back to dealerships due to low.

In sports Novak, Djokovic and Roger Federer advanced to a Wimbledon semi-finalist show down today. Djokovic big Germany Florida mayor in straight sets. Federer was also as a straight set winner to reach a record 33rd grand slam semi-final.

And in just about an hour from now Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas will defend their titles today as Male and Female chants at the Nathan's hot dog eating contest? The two faced off at the weigh yesterday. The contest goes back nearly 100 years beginning as a side show on the Coney Island board walk. So best of luck to everyone and happy fourth. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: The President is back from Camp David. He was there on holiday with his family. But he's now probably somewhere in the East room of the White House, which is the room you're looking at right now. You're taking a look at a naturalization ceremony. 25 members of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force will be sworn in as citizens today on this Independence Day.

I believe the Immigration Services director is talking right now. But you can see the President beside him. Tonight the President and the first lady will celebrate the 4th of July by welcoming military heroes and their families to the White House. They'll have a barbecue, they'll enjoy a concert. And of course, all of them will have a great view of the fireworks from the south lawn of the White House. Just thought we'd pop in and let you see what's going on in the White House today.

To Mexico now where officials there have launched an investigation to last week's presidential elections after reports of gift cards being distributed to some voters. The man who lost the election says he wants a recount; claiming the vote was quote, "plagued by irregularities".

Nick Parker is live in Mexico City. Tell us more.

NICK PARKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. Mexican election regulators are investigating these allegations of verifying relating to the distribution of gift cards for to a supermarket chain here called is Saudiana (ph) which is similar to Wal-Mart in many ways.

(inaudible) say they first received the complaints prior to Sunday's election. And have been reviewing the evidence with nothing announced so far. Last Friday, as you said, the second place presidential candidate Amlo as he's known here held a press conference in which he distributed photographs of these gift cards and alleged that a pre-supporting union had been distributing them around certainly areas of northern Mexico City.

The real issue here is that giving gift cards and giving gifts to voters by political parties is not illegal here. The illegal part is obviously where these gifts are construed to be buying votes and in any way kind of coercing voters to go out to the polls on one particular party.

So (inaudible) has been very careful in saying that they need concrete evidence of specific attempts to try and buy votes, which should be different to, obviously, the distribution of these so called cards. We've put in calls to the pre-party which so far is the projected winner of these elections and these cards have yet to be returned.

So far the real issue, I think, is the fact that Amlo, the second placed presidential candidate is saying this is part of a wider picture of irregularities across the country in some 143,000 polling stations. And he's basically calling for an entire recount of every single vote that was cast.

And a lot of people here are looking back to 2006 when Amlo was also in a similar position that brought his supporters out on to streets of Mexico which crippled Mexico City for weeks.

COSTELLO: Nick Parker, reporting live for us from Mexico City, thank you.

Don't forget to talk back on our question of the day. What's your definition of a hero? Your responses next.


2ND LT. JUSTIN MARTIROSIAN, U.S. ARMY: Hi. My name is 2nd Lt. Justin Martirosian. I'm stationed here in Bagram, Afghanistan. And I want to wish a Happy Independence Day to my parents, (inaudible) and Melinda Martirosian in Seattle, Washington.


SGT. LATRINDA VINSON, U.S. ARMY: Hi. My name is Sergeant Latrinda Vinson stationed in Afghanistan. I'd like to wish my family all in Savannah, Georgia a happy and safe 4th of July. Love you guys.


COSTELLO: First ever in-home HIV test is expected to go on sale this fall. The ora-quick (ph) kit has just been approved by the FDA. Users swab their gums with a test pad device and put it in a vial of solution. One line shows up if the test is negative, two lines if it's positive. Results take about 20 minutes.

A positive does not always mean the virus is present but anyone with that result is encouraged to see a health care professional for additional tests. Look for the kit to be in stores and online by October.

We asked you to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning, what's your definition of a hero.

This from Carol, "A hero is one who puts the needs of others over himself, is honest and has given all without receiving person gain, one you respect and admire and one you would wish to be like."

This from Charlie, "A man or woman of distinguished coverage or ability admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities."

This from Dean. "A hero is someone who displays selflessness and disregard for personal safety and comfort so that someone else may be safe.

And this from Daniel, "Anyone who does anything for anyone selflessly and by choice without wanting any recognition whatsoever. True heroes are the unknown people."

Keep the conversation going, and thanks as always for your comments.

And thank you for joining me today on this 4th of July. I hope you're having a wonderful day even at 11:00 Eastern time.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Kyra Phillips.