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CNN Larry King Live

Swine Flu: NYC Epicenter?/Specter Switches Political Parties

Aired April 28, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, does swine flu have New York City in its grip?

Hundreds of students now sick. Thousands more at risk. The number of cases on the rise, as Mexico City verges on a shutdown. Experts warn that a second wave may be on the way.

Is anybody safe from this ticking time bomb?

Plus, Republicans shell-shocked, Democrats stunned, the political world dazed -- and some in it outraged -- by Senator Arlen Specter's defection.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: This is a painful decision.


KING: After 42 years as a Republican, how could he -- why did he become a Democrat?

And NASCAR's Carl Edwards -- he walked away from this. He's here to tell us about a miracle at Talladega.


Good evening.

Here's what we know about the swine flu tonight. Hundreds of New York City schoolchildren are ill. Swine flu is suspected, but has not been confirmed as the cause in all the cases.

There are 45 confirmed cases of swine flu in New York City and 80 -- or 68 cases in the United States as a whole.

A state of emergency has been declared in California. And as you heard on this program last night, this country should be prepared for deaths.

We'll check in first with Deborah Feyerick, our CNN correspondent in New York.

And then we'll check with Dr. Mehmet Oz, the health expert for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "New York Times" best-selling author. He is also in New York -- Deborah, what's the latest there? DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, what we can tell you is that even though there are 45 confirmed cases, health officials believe it could be hundreds of students, staff and family members that have been infected.

Health officials say that all of them presented with mild flu- like symptoms and the odds are pretty good that, in fact, it is swine flu.

Now, two New York cities are now closed -- the first one where that original cluster came from, those students having gone to Mexico on spring break. The second school is attended by a sibling. And at that school, 82 out of 400 students actually called in sick. That's why health officials decided to close it, at least temporarily.

Now, officials are not testing everyone because they say, first of all, it would simply overwhelm the labs. Also, they say because the symptoms are mild, the treatment wouldn't differ. They're going to be treated exactly the way they normally would be. So right now they're focusing on cluster areas and also people who are very sick. And the reason they're shutting down schools is because they just don't know how this virus will react and how it will act. And that's why they just want to do it, just to take precautions -- Larry.

KING: Deborah, is it true that this is hitting mostly teenagers, not so much young kids or older people?

FEYERICK: Well, it appears, because the clusters are in the schools, that's where it's spreading. And it's spreading really quickly. To have 82 out of 400 kids call in sick on one day, that's a pretty substantial amount. And so it's spreading -- it's spreading quickly.

There is one case of a 2-year-old who had to be hospitalized. And there was another case of an adult who also had to be hospitalized.

But, really, the good news is, is that this swine flu seems to be at least going away on its own -- people taking medicines, not necessarily Tamiflu, but ordinary doses.

KING: Thanks so much, Deborah.

Always on the scene. A great reporter.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN correspondent in New York.

All right. Dr. Mehmet Oz, first, when you -- if you die from this flu, what kills you?

DR. MEHMET OZ, HEALTH EXPERT, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Well, what probably will kill you is your lungs. And just to follow up on that question you asked earlier of Deborah, part of reason that young, healthy adults seem to have a bigger problem with this virus, it is not the virus that kills a lot of times. It's our immune responses overreacting to an illness -- a virus that's invaded us. And as we overreact, we secrete chemical toxins that destroy our tissues. So it's the collateral damage of our body defending itself which often causes the death, especially in young people.

KING: I spoke to a pharmacist today who told me that he's backordered Tamiflu and that other pharmacies are doing the same. They're trying to keep up with the demand. The demand is tremendous.

Does that surprise you?

OZ: It doesn't surprise me. Tamiflu works to prevent this virus most of the time. And we think that it will help in treatment of people who have contracted the illness, although we don't have a lot of data on that yet.

But just one cautionary insight. It is possible -- we don't know for sure, but it is possible that use of medications like Tamiflu might actually cause some resistance in the virus. And I bring that up because it was very uncommon to have resistant strains of influenza against medications like Tamiflu just a few years ago. But probably 10 percent of viruses now are resistant.

So we don't want to overuse this medication. We want to try to save it for people who desperately need it -- the very young, the very old, health care workers who have to continually expose themselves to folks who may be ill. We need to keep those populations protected from the virus.

KING: Do you take it at the first sign?

OZ: You should take it at the first sign, if you're going to take it all. But, again, many of the people who are getting the swine flu illness are not really all that ill. They don't need to do very much at all. They'll be better within a day or two. In fact, we probably are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of people who've been exposed to the virus.

If, over the past few weeks, you've gotten sick -- maybe a little sicker than usual and gotten better, you may have had the swine flu. And I think that's important for folks to recognize, because we've got about 50 million vials of this. Most Americans -- even if everyone got the illness, would not have to take any treatment.

And just let me do a tiny bit of math with you, if I could, Larry. There are about 300 million Americans. Any given year, 10 percent of us will get the flu.

We have about 36,000 deaths, right?

So if 10 percent of us get the flu, that's 30 million people. If 30,000 people die, roughly, then one in a thousand people who get the flu will die from the flu.

We don't know if this virus is any more virulent than the average influenza virus that hits us.

KING: Yes... OZ: It might be just the same as all the others, because we don't actually know what the denominator is.

KING: We have a CNN video correspondent, Karl Penhaul.

He's in Mexico City -- Karl, what's the latest there?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is that the Mexico City authorities continue to take stringent measures to try and stop the spread of this contagion, Larry. Restaurants are now shut. You can't go and sit in a restaurant and have lunch or dinner. You can go in and get a takeaway -- a carryout, whether it's coffee or a full blown meal. They will only serve that so you can take it out.

Now that's added to the issues over the weekend, where they closed soccer stadiums to the public. They've closed museums.

What the city authorities are gradually doing is gradually shutting down some of the parts of the activity of this city so people don't come together in large crowds where there is a risk on contagion.

On top of that, we're expecting, within the next few minutes, a news conference from the health ministry, for them to give us the latest statistics, but, also, hopefully, to give us a little more information on where this all started -- Larry.

KING: And what's the mood, Karl, among the people?

PENHAUL: It depends who you talk to. I would say that it's still short of panic. On the subway system, for example, people are still riding the subway system trying to get to work. They say it's either get to work and take the risk of contagion on a very enclosed subway system or get fired by their bosses.

That said, the Mexico City mayor has said that he may take measures in that respect, too. And it could be that if the authorities don't feel that they have this contagion sufficiently under control, that the mayor could go ahead with his threat and shut down Mexico City altogether to try and stop this outbreak -- Larry.

KING: Dr. Mehmet Oz, one more thing. Dr. Richard Besser, the acting director of the CDC, who you told me that yesterday, I think, you went to school with, he said he...

OZ: He was my classmate.

KING: Yes. He said he fully expects to see deaths in the United States.

Do you?

OZ: I do, as well. It's pretty difficult to envision you could have 150 people die just across the border and have no Americans die. It's the same virus, we think. Even if it's mutated a little bit, humans are humans and will fall, periodically, to an illness like the virus.

But just to put a tiny bit of calmness and serenity into this discussion, because there's been so much consternation about this. What's really happened is Dr. Besser and other members of our -- of our leadership have given us an early warning.

What they've said is hey, guys, you have a lot you can do to help us contain this. That doesn't just include hand washing and some of the things we talked about last night. It also means you've got to take some proactive steps in your own health -- lifestyle changes.

We know, for example, exercise is the most important way you can prevent a virus, management of your sleep and the stress in your life, even eating the kind of leafy green vegetables and foods your mother told you were good for you, together with the chicken soup we know works -- these are smart, intelligent steps, even if you're exposed to the virus, to prevent yourself from getting it.

KING: Dr. Oz, as always, thank you.

Dr. Mehmet Oz.

We thank our other guests and correspondents, as well.

There were three words that shook up the Republican Party today -- Arlen Specter, Democrat.

What's his defection mean for both parties and the president next?


KING: After nearly three decades as a Senate Republican, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter has switched to the Democratic Party.

Here's part of his explanation.


SPECTER: As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party.


KING: We have an outstanding panel to discuss this.

In Philadelphia, Michael Smerconish, syndicated talk radio show host, best-selling author. His new book is "Morning Drive: Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Talking." Good title, good cover -- a funny cover.

Paul Begala is in Washington, the Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor.

In San Francisco, our old friend, Dana Perino. She served as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush.

And in Boston, David Gergen, CNN's senior political analyst, editor-at-large of "U.S. News."

Let's spend a couple of moments first with Michael, first because of his book, but most important, as well, because of the Arlen Specter.

You're a friend of Arlen Specter, a supporter.

Are you surprised?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, TALK RADIO HOST: All of the above and for three decades.

No, I'm not surprised. Arlen Specter -- it's a huge blow to the Republican Party, Larry. The Republican Party, as he stated, has drifted further and further to the right. He's been a man without a country. He's often lamented to me that folks remember fondly the early '80s as the era of this rebirth of conservatism. But Arlen Specter -- Senator Specter would tell you, that was also a time when there were a lot of moderates in the United States Senate. Now, you could fit them all in a phone booth.

KING: He runs for re-election as a Democrat.

Are the odds in his favor?

SMERCONISH: The odds are in his favor. He's going to be the presumptive Democratic nominee. I would expect the field to clear out.

I'll tell you something interesting to keep your eye on, there's a lot of chatter today about how Pat Toomey is the guy who drove him out of the party. I don't think Toomey will be the nominee for the Republicans.

Keep your eye on Tom Ridge, because Tom Ridge could be drafted. And then, what a battle that would be.

KING: And Ridge is considered more a moderate too, isn't he?

SMERCONISH: Well, that's the irony. I mean, Ridge is a guy who, in my opinion, should have been the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. But again, one of those litmus tests got in the way. In his case, it was abortion. And so he was deemed unacceptable at that level and it went to Sarah Palin instead.

The Republican Party has got problems. And that's what the book is all about. It's time for the party to moderate and grow that tent.

KING: Your new book points that out in saying that one of the things that has led to this dismay, if you'd call it that, has been cable TV pundits and talk radio show hosts, yourself included, correct? SMERCONISH: Yes, the world in which I travel, which creates all this cross talk -- you've got to have a liberal, you've got to have a conservative, everybody barking at each other. And then I think the elected officials emulate what they see on TV.

But what I argue, Larry, is that the only people that I meet who see the world entirely through conservative eyes or through liberal eyes are those who are on talk radio or in cable television, because in my day to day existence, it's a mixed bag.

KING: Paul Begala, has he got a point?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Michael has a terrific point. And I think what's happened is, just like the Democratic Party in the '70s and the '80s drifted way too far out of the mainstream, and, frankly, it took Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Dick Gephardt and others to bring us back to the center -- now you're having the same problem with the Republican Party.

The most important thing I think Senator Specter said today that struck me was that he quoted Ronald Reagan right back to them. President Reagan, of course, started out as an FDR liberal. He was a union president and, of course, wound up being a Goldwater conservative.

But he said: "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."

Well, today, Arlen Specter said that reverse to the Republicans. I think that's an enormous problem for Republicans all across the country. When they lose moderates, they lose Arlen Specter, they cannot be a majority party.

KING: Dana, I want you to look at something.

How angry are Republicans over the Specter defection?

Listen to what RNC Chairman Michael Steele told CNN earlier today and then we'll have you comment.



MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: For the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership, the team that had stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide, to me, is not only disrespectful, it's just downright rude.

I'm sure his mama didn't raise him that way.


KING: Dana.

PERINO: Well, that certainly is a colorful way to describe it and not the way that I necessarily would have.

Look, I've been a Republican for all my life. And I have always felt very comfortable in the party. And I love it because there are so many different types of people that are a part of the Republican Party.

And so, look, I think we need to be very clear about something here. This wasn't about Arlen Specter because he really cares about the Democratic Party. This was -- he was very candid that he knew from his pollsters that he was going to lose the race if he stayed in it as a Republican. And so he's made a personal political calculation. And, you know, that's his right. I had the pleasure to get to know him for a while.

But I think the Democrats ought to be careful what they wish for here. They might have 60 seats, but they don't have 60 votes. He's very wily. And I don't know if they're going to get everything that they wish for when it comes to this new seat.

KING: We'll get David Gergen's thoughts right after this.


KING: We're back.

David Gergen, according to Rush Limbaugh, a lot of Republicans wished Senator Specter would take John McCain and his daughter Meghan with him as he exits the GOP.

Do you think that more defections are coming?

Do you think Olympia Snowe might go or Susan Collins?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I don't think there's any evidence there will be more defections, Larry. But I do think that that kind of Rush Limbaugh response to this, and Mr. Steele's response, indicates sort of the bitterness among some conservatives. And yet one has to remember that when Ronald Reagan tried to build a majority party -- and he came very close to doing that -- he erected a big tent. He welcomed into the Republican Party people who did not agree with him on all of his conservative positions.

And the Democrats did go into eclipse, as Paul Begala said. But what they did -- the Democrats did, was they started going out -- Rahm Emanuel was at the leadership of this -- trying to recruit moderates, in the South and elsewhere, to run his Democrats. And it helped to build up this majority.

The conservatives, by contrast -- the Club of Growth and others -- have said if you're not pure enough, if you're too moderate, we're going to run somebody against you in a Republican primary and we're going to take you down.

And that's what almost happened to Arlen Specter when he ran for re-election five years ago. He only won the Republican primary by 1 point. The polls this time around showed him losing the Republican primary by 20 points against somebody who was running against him, Mr. Toomey, from the right.

Now, the Republicans are going to have to make a choice. If they want to be a big, majority party, then they're going to have to welcome moderates. If they want to be a small, conservative party and go into the wilderness, then they can continue doing -- trying to take the Arlen Specters out.

KING: We're back with the full panel right after this.

Don't go away.


KING: Michael Smerconish, author of "Morning Drive," how should President Obama feel about this?

SMERCONISH: Elated. I mean it's a feather in his cap on day 100. I mean it's another sign of the momentum that he's built, the 69 percent approval numbers now borne out by the fact that a prominent Republican wants to join his team as opposed to staying in a party that currently is a party of too small of a tent.

You know, Larry, 21 percent -- that's the number. Twenty-one percent of the American people surveyed by "The Washington Post" now identify themselves as a Republican. And that's -- that's an appalling number. It's a 25-year low.

KING: All right. Paul Begala, does -- do they run things now?

Is it all in Obama's court...

BEGALA: Well...

KING: ...60 in the Senate, is it -- is it insurmountable?

BEGALA: Oh, no. I think Dana Perino makes a very good point. Arlen Specter was an independent Republican. He will be an independent Democrat. I don't think 60 is as magic as maybe some pundits do, because these lines are more fluid.

But the longer term problem they have is the one that Michael points out. My dear friend, Mark Shields -- he's also David Gergen's old running buddy -- has a wonderful phrase. He says there's two kinds of political parties, just like two kinds of churches -- those who hunt down heretics and those who seek out converts.

Well, Barack Obama's out there seeking out converts every day, right?

And the Republicans are hunting down heretics. You only have a 97 percent conservative rating, we're going to run a primary against you. That is a recipe for a smaller and smaller and purer and purer party, but it's a stone loser.

KING: Dana, can the radical right hurt your party?

PERINO: Well, I think, just as Paul and David were saying, is that parties, every once in a while, they go through periods where they have to figure out where they're going to go. We're in a period like that right now. It wasn't going to be solved in 100 days. And it will take a little bit longer.

Look, I -- I don't think that it's a bad thing to have conservative philosophies as part of this big tent. And what I hear people saying is that the party has to be just moderate.

I don't think that that's true. I think that we need to have the big tent, like we've had and which is the reason I've been a part of the party for so long. And I think that they will come back. It's just going to take a little bit of time. I don't feel pulled in any one direction or another. I just feel like I can be myself. And that's been the greatest thing about being a Republican.

KING: Frankly, David, you're a political expert, an extraordinary pundit, if I may say so.

Were you surprised by the Specter announcement?

GERGEN: I was very surprised. I wasn't as close to -- anywhere as close to it as -- as Michael was. But, yes, I was very surprised about it.

Let me just say a couple of things.

Dana, you know, the idea of the big tent is not that it should become a moderate party. It right -- it is -- it's going to remain a center right party. It is, rather, that moderates who are Republicans feel welcome in the party. And the people in the Northeast, which were getting cleaned out, feel welcome.

But the second point is I think Barack Obama deserves a lot of credit for what happened today. It was his campaign, in 2008, that helped to bring over 200,000 Republicans out of the Republican registration over to the Democratic side. That's what set this up, Larry. He drained a lot of those Republicans out of the party and it made it much more difficult for Specter to win in his own party in the primary.

So, in many ways, this is a reflection of what Obama tried throughout his campaign. And that was to expand the electorate on the Democratic side. And today, you know, on the eve of the 100th day, he got this gift, which I think he -- you know, I think he planted the seeds for this. Today came the harvest.

KING: Michael, is Pennsylvania now a Democratic state?

SMERCONISH: I think, finally, we should admit that it is. Since 1988, it's been carried by Republican -- pardon me -- Democratic candidates for president. Everybody thinks that it's in play. I never understood why the McCain campaign focused all of its energy here. Here I was living here, hosting two radio shows here and wondering, you know, what could they know as outsiders that I don't see?

And, in the end, it wasn't in the cards. You'd have to say that it's a Democratic state at this point.

KING: Paul Begala, what's going to happen in Minnesota with the Franken thing?

BEGALA: Well, actually, I was up there not long ago and saw Al and -- and I also talked to his -- his lawyers recently.

The appeal will go now to the Minnesota Supreme Court in June. That will take a couple of weeks. The lawyers -- of course, I talked to Franken's lawyers -- they're very confident they will win. And he's won at every level so far.

And then, the interesting question will be will the governor fulfill his duty, after the Supreme Court rules, if they rule for Franken, and certify the election?

Governor Tim Pawlenty is a Republican. He will be under enormous pressure not to. But the law requires him to certify it. And the Franken people are ready to go back to court and sue the governor if he won't certify the election after the supreme court.


KING: Dana, have you heard from your...

BEGALA: ...Franken won't be seated until late June.

KING: Dana, have you heard from your old boss?

PERINO: Yes. We get a chance to talk every once in a while. And I'm going to get to see him this week, as well.

KING: How's he doing?

PERINO: I think he's doing well. But I'm anxious to see him and see it from my own eyes.

KING: He's going to speak with President Clinton, right, the same event?

PERINO: Yes. I don't know how often they speak. They -- you know, they had a good relationship over the last eight years, where they struck up, you know, good phone conversations. I know President Bush would pick up the phone and call him on, sometimes, those days when you wouldn't necessarily get a phone call, like when your -- like when Hillary Clinton -- when the primary was finally decided for Barack Obama. I remember President Bush noting that he gave a call to Bill Clinton that day, just to see how his friend was doing.

And so I think that this, again, shows that -- I think this Arlen Specter decision was much more of a personal political decision than it was about the party in general.

I'm not saying that doesn't mean that we don't have some work to do in our party. And we'll work through those issues.

But I don't think that the Democrats should kid themselves that this was such a big gift to them. I think that it will prove to be not so much a benefit as just another challenge.

But I hand it to them that they were able to get this -- get this one. I just don't think that there's going to be additional ones.

KING: All right...

PERINO: But if there are, that's fine, too. And our party will come back stronger.

KING: Onward.

PERINO: People have written the obituary before and it's not proven out.

KING: Thank you.

Thanks to all of you, very much.

The latest in the Craigslist killer case, with a hot -- with a person hot on the trail. That's ahead.

Stick around.


KING: Now, the Craigslist list case gets weirder and weirder every day.

Jack Levin is with us. He's professor of sociology and criminology in Northeastern University and the author of "The Will to Kill

Making Sense of Senseless Murder."

Here in Los Angeles, Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of VH-1's "Celebrity Rehab," author of "The Mirror Effect," and the host of this program last Friday. And in Boston, Jack Dwinell, senior executive city editor, "Boston Herald," rather, Joe. Your paper is following a list of leads in connection with the accused killer, Philip Markoff. And one is an e-mail address. What's that all about?

JOE DWINELL, "BOSTON HERALD": Well, authorities are looking at the e-mail address to see if it leads them other places. It begins with sex addict, and they're seeing if that was the Yahoo! address that he may have reached out to other people,, possibly a man, trying to set up more liaisons over

KING: This does not then reduce the question of his viability? DWINELL: No. This case is all about are there other victims. He's accused of murdering a masseuse that he allegedly met over He's also accused of robbing a Las Vegas hooker that stopped in Boston, robbing her and met her over He's also facing possible charges in Rhode Island in a similar crime.

So the legal walls are now closing in on Philip Markoff.

KING: Dr. Drew, with all of his background, who would have thought this? Again, this is alleged.

DR. DREW PINSKY, VH-1'S "CELEBRITY REHAB": Right. This is all alleged, of course. But that's exactly the point. It's like, who is the killer next door that we all might be looking down the barrel at? That's what scares us so much about this case. That's how these guys get away with things. They can be very charming, very manipulative, very intelligent, very accomplished. But in fact, have an alter where they act these things out.

KING: What's their goal?

PINSKY: It depends. In this case, I have to sort of draw conclusions based on what's in the press. I wonder, on one hand, is this a gambling addiction gone bad? Were these really just robberies that went out of hand? Or is this guy truly a sex addict, and a gambling addict, and is this part of the escalation of sexual addiction? In either case, it's very, very sad.

KING: Jack Levin -- is it Levin or Levin?

JACK LEVIN, "THE WILL TO KILL; MAKING SENSE OF SENSELESS MURDER": Levin will do, except in Philadelphia, where it's Levin?

KING: OK, Jack Levin, in your book "The will to kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder," what do we know about senseless murderers?

LEVIN: They make a lot more sense that we would like to think. This particular suspect, after murdering a young woman at the Copley Marriott, waited only 48 hours before he was robbing somebody in Rhode Island. In other words, he wasn't the least bit remorseful. He didn't take a holiday. He didn't stop.

He continued to seek out victims, this time in a different community, indicating to me that he's a sociopath, that he simply doesn't have a conscious, that he can kill with moral impunity.

PINSKY: And I would agree with that, except there's one sort of potential extenuating circumstance, which is if this is a gambling addiction gone bad, and his life is actually in danger, and he's desperately trying to make some debt, that could explain the behavior.

KING: What's your reading, Joe, on the fiancee?

DWINELL: Well, she's standing by her man. She continues to say that she's going to wait it out. She's going to stick by him. One other thing you have to add into this equation is, sources tell us that Markoff was also collecting women's underwear as kind of trophies from these alleged crimes.

KING: So where does all this -- Jack, obviously, they're building a case here against someone who we haven't even had charges yet, have we?

LEVIN: Yes. Well, I think there's a tremendous amount of evidence that the DA has right now to convict Markoff. But I want to say, I think it's a real mistake to focus so much on his fiancee and criticize her, as though she was in complete denial.

This says more about the suspect than it does about her. This lets us know that he was a guy who was manipulative and crafty. He was an expert in impression management and deception. And that's what we should be looking at. He didn't fool just his fiancee, he fooled the admissions committee at the medical school. He fooled all his family and friends. He was an all-American sociopath.

KING: Yes. And obviously it will not go away. We'll stay on top of this. Dr. Pinsky, we'll be bringing you back, as well as the rest of the panel. These are the kind of cases that boggle your mind.

PINSKY: I wish they would. I've got to tell you, I've learned through working with patients over the years that I learned to expect anything. And I expect both the denial and the disbelief on the part of the people that are involved with these folks. And I've come to expect anything from people sometimes.

KING: And as this goes along, we'll have all three gentleman back. When we come back, Dr. Sanjay Gupta from Mexico, where he may have located one of the first people to have contracted Swine Flu. Did it all begin with them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, believes he may have found one of the first people to have contracted Swine Flu in Mexico. He joins us from La Gloria, Mexico. What's the situation, Sanjay? Who have you found?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, for a long time, trying to find the source of this flu has been one of the names of the game for so many people around here. And specifically not only the area, but the specific person.

So we're talking about patient zero here. That's what a lot of people refer to, the first patient in an outbreak. We thought it might be someone close to a pig farm, because this is the Swine Flu, and we thought maybe someone contracted it by being close to a pig farm. And all the indicators seem to indicate that as well.

We came to this very small town of La Gloria. It's about two and a half hours northeast of Mexico City. And we met the boy who we think now was probably diagnosed first as part of this entire outbreak. His name is Edgar Hernandez. He's a cute little boy. He's five years old. He became quite sick in the beginning of March, and he didn't know what was going on. The doctors didn't know what was going on. They actually sent his blood off at that time, Larry. And then, after all this news about Swine Flu came out, they went back and checked his blood again. And, in fact, it did come back positive for Swine Flu. So very may well be this first patient, patient zero as doctors call him.

KING: How is he doing?

GUPTA: He's actually fully recovered, according to his doctors, according to his family as well. We sat down and talked to his mother about this. He was fine. He was very playful with me. You may notice, I don't know if you're seeing some of the video there, but I wasn't wearing a mask, because he was fully recovered at that time. He's living in this small little town and appears to be doing well.

Let me say this, Larry. In this particular area, they think about 40 percent of the people became quite ill. And they don't know how many of these people contracted Swine Flu, but as we were going around, we have Tamiflu, which is an anti-viral medication that we're carrying with us, and we were handing it out to people, telling them to talk to our doctors. They're telling us they simply can't get enough medication. So we were giving them at least what we have.

KING: Isn't that young man younger than most getting this flu? Aren't they beyond the age of kids?

GUPTA: Typically, this is something that typically occurs in people in their prime, you're right, 20s, 30s, and 40s. But it has happened in kids as well. In the United States, the average age is around 16. There's a large age variation here.

But unlike with the seasonal flu, which tends to have the worst ramifications in the very elderly and the very young, this Swine Flu appears to have caused death, for example, in people sort of in the prime of their life.

KING: How long are you staying there? How are you covering this?

GUPTA: You know, I don't know. We, in fact -- it's funny, the way these things go sometimes, we don't know where we're staying tonight or anything. We're in this small little town and we wanted to find this boy. We're going to try to cover the story until we're sure that we have sort of got as many clues, if you will, as we can.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, Larry, about Swine Flu. How they handle it here in Mexico is going to provide some lessons for the rest of the world as well.

KING: Are you worried about yourself?

GUPTA: Well, you know, we are being very careful. We're being very cautious. I wear the mask anytime I'm in contact with people, closer than six feet, if they may potentially be infected. One of the things that's so important, and we talk about this with regards to colds in the United States all the time, but simply washing your hands. We carry around a hand gel.

This virus is something that can live anywhere. It can live on keyboards. It can live on surfaces. It can live on money. It can live on your hands. So washing your hands frequently seems to help. And if we do get sick, we do have medication that can help us as well.

KING: Where do you go from there?

GUPTA: I think we're going to stay here tonight. We may sort of -- we're trying to figure out this relationship between pig farms and people. A lot of viruses, a lot of pathogens start in the animal population, and at some point make a jump into the human population. How does that occur? Why does that occur? Is this a place that that did occur? We're not sure. But we want to investigate that a little bit.

I've traveled around the world looking at these sorts of outbreaks. I was in Africa looking at similar outbreaks. I was in southeast Asia around the time of Avian Flu a couple of years ago. It's such a fascinating thing to imagine how these pathogens jump from animals to humans. And I want to investigate that.

KING: Wherever you are, we'll be there. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, you won't find better.

Do you think Superman was a fictional character in the movies? He's real. He's Nascar's Carl Edwards, walking and talking after that miracle at Talladega. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: A horrific crash left a mess on the track at Talladega last weekend. It could have killed driver Carl Edwards and people in the stands. Now take a look at how he went airborne and came down alive in a smoldering mass of fiberglass and metal. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over turns him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That destroys the front end of Newman's car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Edwards will not make it to the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brad Keselowski (ph) won this race.



KING: Carl Edwards crossed the finish line. He'll tell us how he made it there and find out about the woman in the crowd who was injured.



KING: Carl Edwards, the Nascar driver who walked away from a spectacular last lap crash at the Talladega Super Speedway on Sunday. He was leading the race at the time. Let's, for the 750th time, show you what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waits until the last second --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that destroys the front end of Newman's car. Edwards will not make it to the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brad Keselowski won this race.



KING: All right. What's it like to look at it?

CARL EDWARDS, NASCAR DRIVER: That's a little bit -- a little bit wild. I didn't see it until I got out of the infield care center. I really wasn't sure what happened. You know, I'd been in a lot of wrecks, but not one where I saw the pavement out of the front windshield. That was wild. And then the fence posts and all that. The big thing is that nobody was hurt. That was really fortunate.

KING: How about you were going to win?

EDWARDS: Yes. We were going to win. That's why we were racing so hard. I've got to correct myself. I say nobody was hurt. I talked to the young lady who was hurt not -- she's doing well, that's the good thing. But we were going for the win. That's the thing about Nascar. It's hard to talk about this accident and, you know, be negative about it, because I love the sport so much. And it's so entertaining. It's so great.

But I think Nascar and myself both agree that we've got to make sure we're safe, you know. But a wild accident.

KING: What happened?

EDWARDS: Well, what happened was Brad Keselowski, a good friend of mine, we were doing great. We were going to the front. It's a restricted plate track, so you have to team up with someone. They have to be right behind you. I think the cars were going about four or five miles an hour faster because of that. We were looking at the finish line. We went high.

KING: You were going to win, he was going to finish second?

EDWARDS: Yes, but he wanted it to be the other way around. So he did his job, got under me. I went back to block, turned backwards, and the car lifted off the ground.

KING: Did he force this?

EDWARDS: Brad -- Brad and I -- if the roles were reversed, I probably would have done the same thing he did. I would have kept my foot on the gas and hoped that he somehow saved it.

KING: Why did you go airborne, do you think?

EDWARDS: Old Bernoulli's Principle there. The air goes over the top of that round car and it speeds up and causes low pressure and lifts the car up. The reason it didn't go higher is because of Nascar's innovations over the last few years to the roof flaps that you see come up. They spoil that lift.

KING: You run across, like in a movie. Why weren't you hurt?

EDWARDS: The reason I wasn't hurt is because of all the people that were hurt before me, all the guys who have wrecked like that and been hurt. We've got great safety advances.

KING: Or gotten killed.

EDWARDS: Yes. And Nascar's really done a good job of making these cars as safe as they can. At most race tracks, we aren't in the situation where we can go airborne like that. Almost any wreck we have is safe. This place is -- you just have more wrecks, and you use all that safety equipment.

KING: Talladega is known as a fast track, though, isn't it?

EDWARDS: Yes, that's the thing about Talladega. If they didn't have restrictor plates, cars would go 230 miles an hour around the place.

KING: So they prevent you from doing it?

EDWARDS: Yes, they slow us down, puts us in this big groups, makes us have to do things like Brad and I were doing, where we're pushing one another.

KING: You're going to race again this weekend?

EDWARDS: Yes, Richmond, Virginia.

KING: How far a race is it?

EDWARDS: That race, I think, is 400 miles.

KING: Are you a little nervous?

EDWARDS: No, Richmond's -- Richmond's a good place to go after something like that.

KING: Why?

EDWARDS: It's three-quarters of a mile long. We'll be going 140 miles an hour at the most. And it's good short-track racing, so that will give me a week to get that out of my system.

KING: When we come back, Carl, I want to ask you why you do this, why you do what you do. And is Nascar selling crashes? Is that what fans really want to see? We'll have him answer next.


KING: We're back with Carl Edwards. You were quoted at criticizing Nascar, saying people are going to die. Are they promoting that, in a sense? Do they want to see -- not necessarily see people die, but see accidents?

EDWARDS: No. Nascar doesn't. I don't believe that they want to see accidents. None of the drivers want to see accidents. There are fans that say, hey, we want to see some wrecks. But the majority of our fans like the competition.

And Nascar does the best they can to race at these race tracks, even these old, historic places like Talladega, to minimize the risk. They do the best job they can. They're not selling it. They're doing the best they can. We have a meeting this week about this topic, because it was brought up the injuries that were sustained by folks.

KING: Why did you run across the finish line?

EDWARDS: I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of --

KING: "Talladega Nights."

EDWARDS: -- "Talladega Nights." That was awfully close to give up. I had to go and finish the race.

KING: You weren't mad at the other guy, though?

EDWARDS: No, I'm not mad at Brad. That's the box we're put in. He can't go below that yellow line and he can't lift off the throttle when he can see the finish line.

KING: Do you remember being in the air, though?

EDWARDS: Oh, yes. I've never had that feeling before.

KING: Pretty exhilarating.

EDWARDS: It's great for a second.

KING: Well, were you scared?

EDWARDS: I wasn't scared, because I thought I was still going down the race track. I didn't realize I was going into the fence like that. So when I hit the fence --

KING: You thought you were still going?

EDWARDS: Yes, because I turned backwards, and I thought maybe I'd still continue down the racetrack.

KING: Why do you do this?

EDWARDS: I grew up -- my dad raced cars out of a little local Volkswagen shop. And to me, my heroes were the guys out there driving race cars. And I just dreamed of being able to make a living at this. And I'm so fortunate to be able to do it.

You know, stuff like this is -- is not good. I'd rather be on your show about winning the championship or something, but I love it.

KING: Why do you like the Nascar better than, say, the Indianapolis kind?

EDWARDS: Nascar -- the reason we have the spectators we have and the support that we have and people love it is because it's the most competitive form of motor sports on the planet. There is 20 different guys that could win every week. And it comes down the driver's skill and the crew chief's talent and the pit guys' talent. It's the best motor sports competition in the world.

KING: Can you make a great deal of money?

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes. I've been real broke. And now I make a really good living doing this. And it's like you. You know, you get to do something that you love. That's a dream come true.

KING: What does your wife think of it?

EDWARDS: My wife wasn't too pleased with it on Sunday. But in general, she loves it. It's kind of like any -- you know, when I started, she -- everything I did was good. As long as I was all right, it was good. But now that she's getting used to it, she's -- you know, she wants to win just as badly as I do. She enjoys it.

KING: Was she there?

EDWARDS: No, she wasn't there. That was bad. She had to watch it on TV.

KING: Did she know about it before you were able to call her?

EDWARDS: She knew the wreck happened. She was watching. And someone called her and told her I was all right. That was really nice of my folks to call her.

KING: Do you have kids?

EDWARDS: No, none yet.

KING: Do you want to be a father? EDWARDS: Yes, for sure. I can't wait.

KING: How long do people in this field keep on keeping on?

EDWARDS: Mark Martin, I believe -- I don't want to age the guy any older than he is, but he's at least 50 years old. He just won the race two weeks ago. You know, I'm looking up to him.

KING: How old are you?

EDWARDS: I'm 29.

KING: You had to think.

EDWARDS: Yes. Something like that.

KING: What makes a great driver?

EDWARDS: You know, there are a couple of things that make a good race car driver. I think, most importantly, you have to be able to figure out what the inputs that you put in, what result you get from those inputs. If you can have that cataloged in your head, and you can build that throughout a race and throughout a career, and understand what each one of your movements does on the pedals or the steering wheel, and use those in a split second, that's what makes a good race car driver.

KING: Is it athletic reflexes?

EDWARDS: There's -- there's athleticism to it. But there's just -- you can't take -- there's no body type for it. It's just people can either do it or they can't.

KING: So I couldn't necessarily take a great athlete from another sport and put them in a car?

EDWARDS: Right. No, it's not like that.

KING: It's great reflexes.

EDWARDS: Right here, Larry King, you might be the greatest race car driver to ever live, you've just never tried it.

KING: Oh, yes. I'll go out with you one day. Will you take me for a ride?

EDWARDS: Come out to the races.

KING: You need a two-passenger thing.

EDWARDS: I'll give you a ride. If you want, maybe we can get you in the driver's seat. That would be fun.

KING: Giant left turn. Is that what they kid about it?

EDWARDS: Yes, it's just driving in circles. That's all it is. It's easy.

KING: Do you drive without fear?

EDWARDS: I used to. The thing that got me hooked on it was the first time I drove a race car. It scared me bad. And that's what made me want to do it more and more. And that's slowly gone away. Now the biggest fear is not losing the race -- or not winning the race.

KING: Not winning the race.

EDWARDS: Yes, the fear of losing.

KING: Great pleasure, man. A lot of credit. Great meeting you.

EDWARDS: Good to be on.

KING: I'm going to come see you race in L.A. in October.

EDWARDS: We'll have a good time.

KING: Carl Edwards, We'll see you tomorrow -- a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night. We're on at 9:00 Pacific, midnight Eastern, with a bevy, a parade of pundits. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?