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American Morning

Last Stand: Texas Must Win for Clinton; Fight for Texas, U.S Bombs Somalia: Plane Hit Terror Camp; Top Threat: Mortgage Crisis and the Economy

Aired March 03, 2008 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: The high powered pitching and last minute barn storming. Live from the make or break battle grounds with the most politics in the morning.
Plus, hazardous to your health. A dramatic wake-up call about your night sleep, your health and your job on this AMERICAN MORNING.

As you're waking up this morning after the weekend, you're probably thinking, oh, gosh, I wish I could have gotten more sleep last night. How much of America is sleep deprived? You'll be surprised to find out.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I would say most people I know are, except for those little babies, they get to sleep wherever they want.

ROBERTS: For now.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

Well, welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. And we're closing in on just 24 hours until the big make or break contest. Four states at stake; 370 delegates for the Democrats; 256 for the Republicans. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton up early and sharpening their attacks. The urgency growing. She is counting on wins in Texas and Ohio for a comeback.

And right now in Ohio, she's wrapping up her so-called 88 counties in 88 hours, canvassing the state and calling tens of thousands of voters, who party officials say they believe will turn out in record numbers. This afternoon she heads to Texas for rallies in Beaumont and Austin.

And as for Barack Obama, well, he's taking on his political rivals who suggest that he -- who he suggests are attacking his political and religious beliefs. The Illinois senator telling supporters he is a devout Christian who praised Jesus every night, and says the continued Internet rumors about whether or not he is really a Muslim continue. His tough words come as he set to begin a marathon dash across Texas, stopping in San Antonio and Houston. And in the heat of this critical contest, things are getting a little personal.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It matters who's in the White House when those calls come at 3:00 a.m. You never know what crisis is going to happen, and we need a president and commander in chief ready to answer that phone, ready to begin to respond.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You didn't give diplomacy a chance, and this nation won't even admit that her vote was a mistake or that it was even a vote for war. So besides the decision to invade Iraq --


CHETRY: On the Republican side, it doesn't look like Senator John McCain has many worries. He scheduled just three rallies today. Mike Huckabee, though, still campaigning hard in Texas with at least 10 stops today from Dallas to Houston.

And the results in the critical state of Ohio could be delayed. Election officials are predicting record turnout, as well as voters who may opt to use paper ballots rather than the touch screens, and counting would then take longer. As for Texas, the biggest prize of the day, 126 delegates. In a poll of polls, John McCain leads among likely voters with 58 percent of the vote to Mike Huckabee's 30 percent. Ron Paul just six percent.

And on the Democratic side, Barack Obama is ahead with just a slight lead; 47 percent to Hillary Clinton's 45 percent. Eight percent still remaining undecided.

We're live from all of the battlefronts. Suzanne Malveaux is in Dallas for us. Our Rob Marciano in Atlanta tracking the primary day forecast, and Ali Velshi looking at the economy from Junction, Texas. We also have Gerri Willis in Cleveland. It's one city where the mortgage crisis is weighing heavy on the minds of voters.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning in Texas where Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will hold a number of 11th hour rallies today. Each one fighting to close the deal with the dwindling number of undecided voters. We're joined now by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's in the heart of the battlefield in Dallas, Texas, where the weather is not so good even this morning. Good morning to you, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, John. It is some severe weather. Some tornado warnings and storms. That type of thing. But we do not believe it's going to affect the candidates' travel today. We still believe that they're going to be crisscrossing this critical state. As you know, tomorrow has been called D-Day for Democrats. Really, it could be make or break for Senator Hillary Clinton.

Both of them are going to be crisscrossing the state hitting some major towns and cities here. Clinton going from Toledo, Ohio, and then heading to Beaumont, Texas. She's also going to be holding a town hall meeting. She's going to be in Houston and Austin.

Senator Barack Obama as well traveling throughout the state -- Carrollton, Houston and San Antonio. Both of the candidates are trying to shape this debate, to sharpen the rhetoric a bit, if you will. It has been mostly been over national security. Who is ready in time of crisis to pick up the phone if this scenario, 3:00 a.m. scenario, if there is a national crisis situation? Senator Clinton really bringing home the point very aggressively, saying that she believes she has the national experience to do such a thing.

It is Senator Barack Obama who says it's all about judgment. Let's take a listen to how they've been shaping this debate.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what all that experience has got her because I have enough experience to know that if you have a national intelligence estimate, and the chairman of the national -- chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says you should read this, this is why I'm voting against the war, that you should probably read it. I don't know how much experience you need for that.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here today because I want you to know that I'm a fighter, a doer and a champion, and I will go to work for you. I know the problems we face are challenging. You know, the next president of the United States is going to walk into that Oval Office, January 20th, 2009, and what's going to be waiting? Two wars. Two wars. Yes, somebody said a mess. That's for sure.


MALVEAUX: John, obviously, one of the reasons why they are emphasizing national security is to take a look at the state of Texas. A lot of veterans. A lot of military families. This is one of the number one issues that voters are focusing on, so both of them trying to make the case that they are best suited to protect the country. We have also seen Senator John McCain putting it at the forefront of the debate as well. So both of them trying very desperately to get voters' attention particularly when you look at the TV ads in Texas flooding the air waves over that very issue -- John.

ROBERTS: And a sharp back and forth late last night as well, Suzanne, after Barack Obama said that the chairman of the Intelligence Committee read that NIE which was why he was voting against the war. The Clinton campaign interpreted that to mean that he was referring to Jay Rockefeller who has come out for Barack Obama. And instead of a note saying, Obama doesn't even know what he's talking about because Rockefeller voted for the war. And then Obama said, no, I was talking about Bob Graham, who is the Intelligence Committee chairman back then, who voted against the war. So, you know, this rhetoric being so hot now in this 11th hour, how are voters responding?

MALVEAUX: Well, you know, it's really interesting, John, because it's a very good point. Not one charge is left unanswered if you will. There's also a counter charge. And one of the things that money does here, money buys you, is the ability to respond very quickly. When you saw on Friday that ad that came out with the telephone ringing -- what would you do at 3:00 in the morning, who's the best commander in chief -- you saw Senator Barack Obama immediately follow-up with a counter ad. That is because that's what millions of dollars can do for you.

You can have that debate over the air waves. You can have that debate on stage. Voters are paying very close attention. So if they don't hear them in these different venues and states, they certainly are seeing them carry out these arguments on television. So they've got a lot to think over. They've got a lot to mill over in the next 24 hours. It is going to be fascinating to see what happens tomorrow -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes. A lot of the rhetoric going to. One side doesn't know what the other one is talking about. Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning. Suzanne, thanks very much.

Mike Huckabee says he's in no hurry to shelf his long shot bid for the White House, and he is stumping hard in Texas. He won a second endorsement from the generally conservative editorial board of "The Dallas Morning News" yesterday, even though the paper says he has no chance of winning the party's nomination. And Huckabee had some kind words for the newspaper.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think "The Dallas Morning News" is probably the greatest newspaper in America, and everybody ought to get a lifetime subscription. Obviously, I'm very pleased, extremely grateful not only for the impact of the endorsement and the timing of it, but I was especially grateful for what they represented in that editorial and that is that I represent the future of the party.


ROBERTS: Mike Huckabee is going to be our guest, by the way, coming up in just about 20 minutes time here on AMERICAN MORNING. And stay with CNN today and, of course, tomorrow for coverage of the crucial primaries. We'll have up to the minute results from Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont, starting tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And join us the morning after for a special early edition of AMERICAN MORNING. That's Wednesday beginning at 5:00 a.m. Eastern -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, there's a late winter storm that passed through Oklahoma causing some major extreme weather. Two tornadoes touching down yesterday. Here's the video. You can see some of the debris just flying in the air. That's coming to us from KOCO. Strong winds and hail also knocked down power lines, damaged a barn, shut down roads. This was in Blaine Country. Emergency crews saying no one was hurt.

And more severe weather is expected across the south today. The weather could affect voter turnout in Ohio's primary. And, Rob, you're checking out this video as well. When you see that video, it's always amazing that there wasn't more injuries or even deaths when you take a look at how strong that tornado, that funnel cloud looked.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And, you know, we only had two reports of tornadoes in Oklahoma officially, and I think we've got pretty much both of them on tape there. The good part about tornado alley, you know, they see the most damaging, the most destructive tornadoes is that population is a little bit more sparse. As this storm heads eastward, as we've seen already this winter into the southeast, the more densely populated areas, then the threat gets a little bit more severe. So hopefully we won't see too much more of these pictures that you're seeing not. But I think things will get a little bit jumpy later on today.

Here's where the action is this morning. Tornado watch in effect for eastern parts of Texas, and there you see the line now driving east of Dallas. So you're out of it now but certainly eastward, the threat still exists.

Heavy rain falling with this. We have flash flood warnings that are posted for western parts of Arkansas and eastern parts of Oklahoma. So that's the other part of this system. It has a tremendous amount of moisture. Look at the rainfall forecast for the next 48 hours. These red areas anywhere from four to six inches of rainfall.

Now, here's the thing. From about this line from about this line northward is where we'll see kind of a mix. So St. Louis will see some snow, and this will also affect the state of Ohio. Extreme northern parts of Ohio, say Toledo and Cleveland, you're going to see a wintry mix of precipitation. Not a whole lot of accumulation but it will be slick. South of there is where it's just going to be rainy and nasty and cold. I mean, this is the whole day tomorrow. This is going to be miserable. I don't want to scare folks away from the polls, but just dress appropriately and give yourself a little bit of extra time.

Texas, no worries there. Temperatures will be in the 60s and lower 70s, with more tranquil weather compared to today. And then Vermont and Delaware, is that the other one that's having their primary tomorrow? They look nice. You guys are experiencing some warm -- unusually warm weather up there in New York. That's in part due to the storm that's gaining strength and pumping up some warm air towards the northeast. Back to you in New York.

CHETRY: I think it's Rhode Island. You know, it's a small state.

MARCIANO: Oh, well. Thank you. I knew it was a small state somewhere over there.

CHETRY: Everyone in Delaware is writing to you now, saying we're not Rhode Island. Thanks, Rob.

ROBERTS: But they're recently had both carpeted. So --

CHETRY: Yes. Exactly. It's one of his favorite movie lines, Alina. ROBERTS: A line in Arthur where he says, I heard that they recently had the full day coverage (ph).


CHETRY: We did miss you.

CHO: Thank you. Good morning, guys. Good to see you again after being gone for two weeks. Good morning, everybody.

Topping our news this hour, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Iraq this morning wrapping up a two-day visit. He was greeted warmly Sunday by Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani and his prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Ahmadinejad said he was happy to visit Iraq without Saddam Hussein. This morning he again took aim at the U.S. denying charges that Iran is arming Shiite militias in Iraq.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course, American officials make so much remarks and make so much statements, so many statements in this regard, and we do not care about their statements and remarks. Because they make statements on the basis of erroneous information.


CHO: Last hour, CNN's Michael Ware told us the visit does not signal a new alliance. Rather it's a renewing of long-standing ties between the two countries.

The U.N. Security Council today is expected to adopt a third round of sanctions against Iran. Iran, however, denies that it's using nuclear weapon. And this could be the first time sanctions are not approved unanimously. Now, all five permanent members are behind the resolution. But South Africa, Libya, Indonesia and Vietnam say further action may not be necessary because the U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran is now cooperating with U.N. inspectors.

Right now, tanks and thousands of Venezuelan troops are lined up along the border with Colombia. They are awaiting orders from President Hugo Chavez. Chavez says Colombia is pushing him to the brink of war after the killing of a top rebel leader in Ecuador. The U.S. National Security Council called the response "odd," saying the man killed was the leader of a terrorist group. Colombia says it found documents linking that organization to Ecuador's president and says it wants answers.

And in the Antarctic, take a look at these pictures. Anti- whaling protesters are actually attacking Japanese ships. They're throwing bottles of rancid butter and slippery powder onto the ship decks to disrupt whale hunting. Japan says it is conducting "research whaling," trying to prove that an international moratorium on commercial whaling isn't needed anymore.

Certainly there are some who don't feel that way. CHETRY: Absolutely.

CHO: That's a look at the news this hour. Back to you, guys.

CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Thank you, Alina.

U.S. war planes attack a terrorist target in Africa. We are live from the Pentagon. That's coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Just in to CNN this morning. U.S. war planes have bombed a terror camp in southern Somalia. That's near the Kenyan border overnight. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is monitoring the developing story for us from the Pentagon. What do we know about the raid so far, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, very few details, but a U.S. official is confirming to CNN at this hour. It was a precision missile strike against a target in southern Somalia where the U.S. says there were known al-Qaeda terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda's east Africa operations. This entire matter already very sensitive because news reports from the region are saying that civilians were killed. The U.S. military is not saying anything officially, but administration officials are saying that they used all precautions to avoid any civilian casualties in all of this.

The tantalizing question now, John, will be, who did they get and how will they know? Of course, the U.S. has conducted operations in southern Somalia in the past to try and attack those they believe responsible for those east Africa Embassy bombings in 1999. They're not saying if that was -- those people were the target this time. But it does raise the tantalizing question whether U.S. special forces will have to go on the ground in Somalia to look at the aftermath of this missile strike, to try to determine exactly who they got -- John.

ROBERTS: You know, I mean, that is the big question is how will they know? And we know that last year U.S. Special Forces were operating inside the country. Do we know if there are any on the ground at present?

STARR: At this time we do not know. U.S. officials very tight lipped about all of this. They're not even willing to say at this point exactly who they were going after, but they are saying that it was a precision missile strike by all accounts. That is what everyone is being led to believe at this point, and we hope to have more information in the coming hours -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks very much. We'll see you soon as soon as you get more information -- Kiran. CHETRY: Setbacks in Middle East peace right now on the eve of a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Israeli forces pulled out of Gaza before dawn this morning. Air strikes there are continuing. More than 100 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers have been killed in heavy fighting since Wednesday. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has suspended peace talks.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is watching the situation for us in Gaza today.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Israeli troops have pulled out of most of Gaza. They left this area this morning. It was free (ph) from here. The tanks and troops were firing into the Jabalia (ph) refugee camp which is right behind me. And, of course, militants were firing back. Now since they've left, inhabitants, many of whom ran away, have come back. Municipal services are already here repairing electricity lines and sewer lines.

In Gaza City, Hamas is celebrating the Israeli pullout as a victory. They say that despite the might of the Israeli army, they have been able to continue firing rockets into Israel. And, in fact, already Monday, we had almost 20 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel but the expectation is at least for the short-term. There may be a lull.

On Tuesday, U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arriving in the region. She will try to revive the peace process. On Sunday, the Palestinian leader said they were suspending their negotiations with Israel. But the expectation is that regardless of what Secretary of State Rice accomplishes, that this problem will continue. Many people here in this town are saying what has ended is simply phase one of this Israeli operation. All people here expect that the phase two is just a few days away.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Gaza.


CHETRY: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tomorrow in Jerusalem.

ROBERTS: Ground zero of the mortgage meltdown, and a plan to turn things around. Our Gerri Willis is live from one of the troubled cities where voters go to the polls tomorrow.

And he may be out of it but some people are calling Mike Huckabee the future of the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee will join us, and we'll ask if he's already looking forward to 2012. Coming at the bottom of the hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, the economy will be on the minds of voters going to the polls in four states tomorrow. There's a survey out this morning from the National Association of Business Economics saying that the subprime mortgage crisis is the number one threat to the economy.

CNN's Personal finance editor Gerri Willis is in the hard hit city of Cleveland, Ohio, this morning. Ohio, one the states where voters are going to be heading to the polls tomorrow. Give us a sense of how bad it is there, Gerri.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, hi there, Kiran. It is bad. Let me tell you. Cleveland ranks number six in foreclosures across the nation and in fact, in this neighborhood that I'm standing in right now, you see a lot of the houses are boarded up. There are two foreclosures every single day. An amazing statistic. And one councilman told us, he said, look, I can't believe these Democratic candidates didn't talk about this at length in the debate last week. Nowhere are things worse than right here in Slavic Village.


WILLIS (voice-over): Marie Kittredge says the middle class community in Cleveland has been decimated by the foreclosure crisis.

MARIE KITTREDGE, SLAVIC VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT: Really, we've been robbed because we had -- these houses were all occupied five years ago. They were cheap, affordable housing.

WILLIS: About 1,000 homes in her Slavic Village neighborhood are empty, made worse by looters ripping apart their interiors, stealing valuable metal pipes and wires. Cleveland was already suffering economically. Community leaders blame the housing crisis on Wall Street and mortgage fraudsters.

TONY BRANCATELLI, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCILMAN: We weren't the victim of a natural disaster. We're the victim of man-made disaster.

WILLIS: Now, local leaders want to turn disaster into opportunity, demolishing homes that are too far gone, and rehabbing the ones that can be saved. The money is coming out of an already overburdened city budget.

MAYOR FRANK JACKSON, CLEVELAND: Last year, we had $6 million and we tore down close to 1,000 structures as a result of that.

WILLIS: But Cleveland is losing valuable tax dollars because of lower home values and vacant properties, and is looking to the federal government for help.

BRANCATELLI: We need the same kind of disaster relief that other cities have had, to come in and help clear out the abandoned properties and help come reinvest and save our neighborhoods.

WILLIS: The federal government has promised $130 million for counseling those facing foreclosure, part of which will go to Cleveland. The Bush administration and six major lenders have also agreed to give homeowners space in foreclosure and extra 30 days to try and rework their mortgage. Marie Kittredge hopes for more government help, but knows the real work will come at the community level.

KITTREDGE: I'm kind of over the anger and the grief, and we are completely about figuring out a way to solve the problem. This is home to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything.


WILLIS: Now, Cleveland is suing 21 banks to get some money to help clean up this mess, but they have a very long way to go.

CHETRY: All right. Gerri, hopefully there is something that they can help that community rebound. Thank you for that look inside just how tough it is for many cities across that state as they head to the polls tomorrow. Thanks, Gerri.

ROBERTS: Twenty-six minutes now after the hour.

We spring forward this weekend. Daylight Savings Time arrives on Sunday, early, 2:00 a.m. A new study out today shows that we're sleepy enough without losing that hour. The National Sleep Foundation says the average American worker gets only six hours and 40 minutes of sleep a night. That's about 40 minutes less than we should. The lack of sleep is costing companies billions of dollars in lost productivity, and there are health consequences, too.

Our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has got a look at that aspect of the story coming up in just a little bit. But that brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. How much sleep do you typically get a night? Eight hours or more? Five to eight hours? Or less than five hours?

Let's take a look. Right now, only eight percent of you say you get more than eight hours of sleep. Sixty-one percent get somewhere between five and eight hours, and 30 percent of you get less than five. Cast your vote at We will continue to tally your votes throughout the morning.

CHETRY: How about it? All right.

Well, although his chances of getting the nomination are very, very slim, Mike Huckabee is still campaigning ahead of tomorrow's primaries. We're going to ask him how much longer he plans to keep at it when he joins us live next on AMERICAN MORNING.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We're just a day away from the big vote. So the crucial Tuesday. Texas and Ohio voters.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: Oh, yes. It's possible that this could decide it all. Because John McCain only needs 224 more votes to get to the top.

CHETRY: More delegates. ROBERTS: And on the Democratic side there may be a clear front- runner as well. We'll see. We're waiting for it. Only one day away from that crucial Tuesday contest that could solidify Democratic or Republican nominees. On the Republican side, John McCain has a near 800 delegate lead over Mike Huckabee. And despite Mike Huckabee trailing in the polls though, some people are saying some awfully nice things about him. "The Dallas Morning News" for example decided that he was the guy that they would endorse and they came out with a rather nice endorsement yesterday. Joining me now is former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. He's live in Dallas for us this morning. Governor Huckabee, good to see you.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, John. You know, I told some people yesterday I think the "Dallas Morning News" may be the greatest newspaper in the world. We were very pleased with the endorsement.

ROBERTS: Here's what they had to say about you. They said "a Huckabee vote today won't do much to determine the 2008 GOP presidential candidate but it is a good investment in the Republican Party's future." They're saying that this is not your year but you do have a bright future in front of you.

HUCKABEE: Well, it's good to have somebody even talk about the future. I do think that many people need to be looking at the future of our party. If we're not reaching out to younger voters, if we're not capturing the issues that people care about whether it's the environment, a tax structure that doesn't punish us for working, making sure that we're still a party that subscribes to the principles of life and marriage and traditional values that have brought many people to the Republican party but also it encompasses things like education, health care, confronting disease and poverty. We're going to be an extinct party in another few years. That's why we got to continue keeping this message going.

ROBERTS: You're saying that you're going to be an extinct party in a few years. There are some people who believe that if John McCain becomes the president that it's going to even hasten that process. Bill Cunningham, conservative talk show host from Cincinnati, Ohio, had a real dust up with Senator McCain. Here's what he said about the prospect of a McCain presidency.


BILL CUNNINGHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If McCain wins, we're going to have a ruined Republican conservative party for the next 20 years. So, I'd rather have short-term pain for long-term gain.


ROBERTS: What Cunningham and other conservative talk show hosts are saying is they would rather see McCain lose and a Democrat get into the White House so they can rebuild the party for 2012. What do you say on that front? HUCKABEE: Well, I don't agree with that. I would rather see John McCain win but I would rather see me win and that's why, you know, we're fighting through this process. You know, one thing I don't understand, John, everybody acts like we got to make this decision today and you know everybody needs to clear the field.

I guess my question is, what's the hurry? We're six months away from the convention. We're eight months away from the election. And I guess I'm just having hard time understanding why would we call again -- let me ask you this. If we were in November and the early states were being voted over on the east coast, if there was a trend looking like it was being established, would we go ahead and just call the election and tell the people in California and out in the mountain time zone don't even bother going to vote because we've already called it? What is wrong with the people in this party who think that we ought to just end the game before it's even been finished. I don't get that.

ROBERTS: Well, Governor, you know the history of calling elections and you know that happens almost every four years.

HUCKABEE: Well it does happen every four years. And the interesting thing is I've been pointing out that none of the networks including yours have exactly the same numbers for the delegate count as the other networks. When people talk about how precise the math is, it's not so precise that even you guys have the same numbers as each other.

ROBERTS: Well, we do know that there are 256 delegates at stake tomorrow. 256 pledge delegates.


ROBERTS: And by our delegate count, John McCain needs 224 to clinch it. Your campaign manager, Ed Rollins said depending on the outcome tomorrow, come Wednesday you may either scale back or even suspend your campaign. Can you explain that? What would that entail?

HUCKABEE: well, what we're talking about is that we're going to continue until we have 1,191 delegates. You know, following that we'll see where things stand. But, you know, we have thousands of people coming to our rallies. Last week in Texas, we were in Texas A&M, had 1,500 people that couldn't get in the building.


HUCKABEE: So, you know, when people quit coming and people quite giving and they just decide that it's over, then it's over.

ROBERTS: You also had a rather interesting campaign event on Friday in Fort Worth that we just happen to have some video of.

HUCKABEE: I was afraid you would.

ROBERTS: Here we are. You know, down there in Texas you got to learn how to use a lariat there. And there you go, it kind of got tangled up a little bit there. I know, you probably can't see this video. You're trying to rope a fake calf here which is made out of a lovely pink calf's head and a bail of hay. You had a little trouble there, governor.

HUCKABEE: Yes, I'm afraid, you know, my roping skills weren't exactly all that terrific. So, if that's the basis on which people vote, I'm in real trouble. Fortunately, people aren't expecting me to be a roper. They're expecting me to be able to make good decisions. That's what I do have a history of and frankly one that no one else running for president does. So, you know, I think it's a good thing that that's not a required skill for a presidential candidate.

ROBERTS: Talking about a good decision, your decision making process might have been a little suspect in agreeing to do that in the first place.

HUCKABEE: Yes. I think there will be one fewer staff member on the plane today for having suggested that we try this roping thing in front of television cameras and 1,000 people. That wasn't the smartest idea somebody ever came up with.

ROBERTS: Well, it's all in good fun. You look terrific. Governor Huckabee, as always, thanks for being with us today. Good luck tomorrow.

HUCKABEE: Thanks a lot, John.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll see you soon.

CHETRY: Was if he's still listening as you rightly pointed out, it shows he's, you know, he's going to keep on trying and he's not going to give up. He's not a quitter.

ROBERTS: Exactly. He doesn't give up. There you go. That's the best part of the whole thing.

CHETRY: And it's probably not as easy as it looks. It doesn't even look easy.

ROBERTS: I tried it once from a horse and nailed it my first time but that was luck. Total luck.

CHETRY: Of course, of course, he did. Run for president.

Well, Texas is the biggest prize of the day. Here's how Democrats stand in the state in the latest CNN poll of polls. Barack Obama at 47 percent. Hillary Clinton at 45 percent. Pretty much a statistical dead heat. 8 percent still undecided there. And in Ohio, Hillary Clinton leads among likely Democratic voters with 48 percent and Obama with 43 percent. Again, these are poll of polls. A collection of various polls. The most recent ones that have been taken. Again, very close there as well.

And while the candidates are busy rallying voters, their supporters are hitting the talk shows. On CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Senator John Kerry who is throwing his support behind Barack Obama took on Clinton's TV ad which asks voters who they would want answering an emergency phone call coming into the White House at 3:00 a.m.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It strikes me that the ad is really deception and disingenuous. Hillary Clinton has never received a 3:00 a.m. in the morning telephone call as a senator or as a first lady. And secondly, when asked, when her campaign was asked what crisis has she ever faced in which she's made a difference in foreign policy, they really couldn't answer.


CHETRY: Kerry also called on Clinton to withdraw if she does poorly in the polls tomorrow. Well, stay with CNN and today and of course through tomorrow. Crucial coverage of the primaries, we're going to have up to the minute results from Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont. It all gets underway tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And of course, join us the morning after, we're going on an hour early with a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING on Wednesday morning at 5:00 a.m. Eastern. The latest results as we know with the last voting in the last primary states we were still calling things, called one of the states, I believe it was Hawaii, on our programs though.

ROBERTS: Yes. And that was 5:30 in the morning I think.

CHETRY: That's right. They are counting some of the ballots by hand in Ohio so it could go into the night. We'll be here in the morning to break it all down for you.

And a storm system could affect voter turnout. Our Rob Marciano is at the CNN Weather Center, tracking extreme weather on the move right now. Hey, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kiran. If Texas was doing their thing today, it would be a big mess for those folks. We got a tornado watch that's still in effect for the eastern part of Texas, for the next couple of hours until 9:00 local time. And not only that, but it's stretching some heavy rain across parts of eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas. We got flash flood warnings in effect right now and it stretches all the way up to Milwaukee and Chicago. The backside of this will bring some wintry precipitation, a pretty narrow sliver and unless but where it does fall, it will be pretty heavy. Four to eight inches expected tomorrow during the day in St. Louis and some of this does stretch all the way to northern Ohio.

So, there will be a mix from Toledo to Cleveland. And some nasty cold rain south of there. So, Ohio looking to be under the gun tomorrow. It will be a tough go to the polls for sure. And some of this rain will get to say Vermont and Rhode Island very, very late in the day but I think Ohio is going to be your problem area. Problem areas today later on tonight, damaging winds, tornadoes, as this storm wraps itself up and heads across the gulf states from Tennessee all the way down to New Orleans. We'll look for the potential of this doing some damage and then tomorrow it stretches eastward, the mid- Atlantic and there's your mix in through Ohio and in through parts of upstate New York. An intensifying storm, pretty unusual actually to see this thing wrap up like it is doing and we'll be very active in the next 36 hours. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: Rob, thanks.

ROBERTS: Courts across the country could begin deciding today if thousands of convicted felons should walk. Why the early releases and is it putting public safety at risk? We'll have that story coming up for you.

Plus, oil prices and gasoline prices from deep in the heart of Texas. Our Ali Velshi is touring Texas on the CNN Election Express. He's with us now. Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. I'm in the beautiful town of Junction, Texas, which is just on the eastern edge of west Texas. Oil and gas, big issues here and believe it or not, we had some rain this morning and that's welcome. Even the weather is an economic issue around here. I'm going to be back with that story. Stay with us as AMERICAN MORNING is coming right back.


CHETRY: Rising prices, a major campaign issue in the presidential primary. Ali Velshi, "Minding your Business" this morning from Junction, Texas, where he's touring the state talking to voters about the economy. Hey, Ali.

VELSHI: Good morning, Kiran. It's about 2,500 people here in this beautiful town of Junction, Texas, where a lot of the issues that I hear from people are the same as they are in the rest of the state but some of them are different. Firs of all, oil and gas prices hit everybody across the state. Some positively but most negatively. Take a look at the settled price of oil on Friday, $101.84. It's down a little bit from there right now. We're running gas prices I've seen around Texas, around $3.10. Although we stopped at a gas station yesterday where it was running $3.30. That was unusually high. Diesel prices way above $3.60 a gallon, from what we see even just a week ago. Now, we are at the Letterbuck coffee house here in Junction. The owner, Natalie Koftman spoke to us about the impact of gas prices on the economy around here. Listen to what she told me.


NATALIE KOFTMAN, TEXAS VOTER: Gas prices is going to affect Junction for our biggest season, hunting season, and then our summer season people come here and to the river. And if gas prices are too high, people won't be able to afford to go on vacation.


VELSHI: Now, I also spoke to another gentleman around here who is involved in ranching. So, there's a lot of hunting and a lot of ranching around here. He introduced me to something I hadn't thought of as an economic issue. We've known about the drought that has hit this part of the country and other parts of the country over the last few years. You know, we got some rain this morning. That was welcome but there hasn't been enough rain around here. And he thought that might help him make a decision about who he's voting for.


VELSHI: Tell me for people watching this across the country and have no clue as to what the agriculture situation is. Tell me about the problems you face.

JAMES KEETON, TEXAS VOTER: Mainly, drought. There's a lot of it and a lot of part of the nation has realized that. You know, they had drought in the southeast, I believe, this year and wildfires and things. Prices of gas go up. Prices of feed go up. Corn is going up. A good candidate would be a candidate who could fit everybody's needs and that's impossible. I don't know exactly what a good candidate that could do a rain dance and provide plenty of rain for everybody. You know, something like that.


VELSHI: We've had a lot of people give a lot of suggestions to the candidate. Doing a rain dance is on, I think, we're probably not going to get but you know, good to know what the concerns are out here. We're going to be sticking around in Texas, continuing to hear from people about what their concerns are about the economy and politics. Kiran.

CHETRY: Sounds good. Ali, thanks.

ROBERTS: Beginning today, the sentences for thousands of convicted felons could be significantly reduced. It comes from the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The commission says it will help reduce the wide disparity that is tougher for crack offenders than for users of powder cocaine. A gap that critics say is racially based. CNN justice correspondent Kelly Arena is live in Washington. Kelly, what's the controversy all about here?

KELLY ARENA, CNN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this move, as you know, was taken in the interest of fairness but Justice Department officials are still warning that this is only going to create chaos in already vulnerable communities.


ARENA (voice-over): This is the day the Justice Department has been warning about. When the jails start opening their doors releasing up to 20,000 hardened drug criminals into society. A nightmare scenario.

DEBORAH RHODES, U.S. JUSTICE DEPT.: The concern that so many people would be released all at once. People who have shown that they are repeat offenders and without the possibility in many cases of any kind of transition or re-entry program to bring them from prison back to the streets.

ARENA: OK, that's the nightmare but the reality is far less terrifying. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, of those 20,000, only 1,600 are immediately eligible to apply for early release. And most of them are not career criminals. Take Burton Hagwood for example. He's already served more than seven years. A 60-year-old amputee. His wife says he hardly poses a threat to society. She asks us not to show her face for fear of community backlash.

MRS. V. HAGWOOD, PRISONER'S WIFE: He wants to come back to the community. And he also wants to help the community. He plans on doing some paralegal work when he gets out. So, he would be an asset.

ARENA: Public defender Michael Nachmanoff has filed motions for more than a dozen inmates who qualify for possible early release. He says judges have a great deal of discretion to decide what the term release really means.

MICHAEL NACHMANOFF, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER: They can also impose intermediate protections as well or refer someone to a halfway house or to home confinement for some period of time.


ARENA: What's more, the Bureau of Prisons has asked judges to give it at least 10 days before ordering a release so we can notify victim, witnesses, law enforcement within the community. That is sometimes actually required by law but in many cases it just makes a lot of sense. John.

ROBERTS: Hey, just to back up for a second. The fellow that you profiled there. Hagwood, I believe his name was. What was the offense that he was jailed on? Was it crack possession, dealing?

ARENA: Well, he -- it was both actually. He had according to him delivered some crack for a friend and it was an undercover officer that he sold it to and collected the money from. But no violence on his part.

ROBERTS: All right. Kelly Arena for us this morning from Washington. Kelly, thanks very much.

ARENA: You're welcome.


CHETRY: Still ahead, who would want to kill Mick Jagger? Well, there's news this morning about an assassination plot nearly 40 years old that's just coming to light. Also, a new study looking at how much or how little sleep we get and how it affects your job and your health. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is on this one for us. Don't even ask, Elizabeth. We don't get enough. How about everyone else?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN, MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I can only imagine. And the pregnancy, this schedule. It must be a difficult situation. And Kiran, we all know that lack of sleep can make you grumpy but did you also know that it's bad for your heart? We'll have tips on getting a good night sleep next on AMERICAN MORNING


ROBERTS: A new documentary says that Hell's Angels tried to kill Mick Jagger way back in 1969. According to the BBC radio documentary, the motorcycle gang got angry when Jagger stopped using them as bouncers at concerts after a fan was killed in Altamont. A group of bikers reportedly planned to take a boat to Jagger's house on Long Island to kill him but a storm ruined their plans and the documentary says Hell's Angels never tried again.

CHETRY: Wow. Mick Jagger takes a licking and keeps on ticking. How about that. All those years.

Well, 40 million Americans suffer from sleep problems according to the National Institute of Health and how you sleep and how much you sleep and it actually says a lot about your overall health. CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us live from Atlanta with that. Elizabeth, good to see you this morning. So, what does this it say, what does this study in particular say how sleep affects your overall health?

COHEN: You know what Kiran, what this study did was it quantified what many of us feel instinctively which is that when you don't get enough sleep, it actually affects your body more than just being tired, it affects your health. So, let's take a look at the findings of this study. What they found is that when people don't get enough sleep, it increases their risk of getting all sorts of diseases. The risk of high blood pressure goes up 40 percent. The risk of having a heart attack goes up 34 percent and the risk of having a stroke up 67 percent. And also, not getting loud snoring rather is associated with - I'm sorry, lack of sleep again is associated with other problems like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.

So, really, when you look at this it's a combination of a lack of sleep and also people who snore loudly. People who snore loudly often aren't getting enough sleep. They're not getting enough oxygen because they're snoring so loudly they often have sleep apnea and it can lead to some of these diseases.

CHETRY: What is enough sleep?

COHEN: Enough sleep for adults is between seven and nine hours. Everyone is a little different but you should aim for something in that range. So, of course, the next question becomes, well, gee, how do you get that kind of sleep? So, we have tips about how you can do that. First of all, you should not go to bed too hungry or too full. You should be somewhere in the middle. You should have a dark, quiet, cool room and keep the schedule regular. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night.

Now, in order to stop snoring because snoring as is said is often the culprit in not getting enough sleep, you should lose weight, you should sleep on your side and not your back. When you sleep on your back you can close up that airway and also if you need to, there are devices that you can wear to keep that airway open.

CHETRY: And just to make sure we're clear. So, your risk of stroke, the numbers that you showed increased risk have to do with people who snore versus people who don't snore.

COHEN: Right.

CHETRY: So, if you're snoring there may be some other problem there leading to upping your risk for many of these heart-related illnesses.

COHEN: Right. Sleep apnea is the real issue with snoring. That's what doctors really worry about.

CHETRY: All right. So, you know, if your partner has had to hint at you a few times and say, honey, roll over, maybe it's time to get that checked out.

COHEN: Right. Exactly.

CHETRY: Elizabeth Cohen, great to see you. Thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: That brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. Just how much sleep do you typically get in a night? Right now, 10 percent of you say you get more than eight hours a night. 61 percent get somewhere between five and eight hours. That actually should be five and seven hours.

CHETRY: But we were sleep deprived when we put that together.

ROBERTS: Exactly. So we goofed. 29 percent of you get fewer than five hours a night. Cast your vote at We're going to tally your votes throughout the morning.

Seconds from tragedy. Watch as a German airliner scrapes the runway and the pilot narrowly avoids a crash. What caused the jet to plunge toward the ground?

And a ricin scare triggering a criminal investigation in two states and the FBI wants to know why a man exposed to the toxin had the deadly substance and what he intended to do with. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



Roberts (voice-over): Campaign frenzy. Two candidates, four states, just 24 hours.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not afraid to get into a fight.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton got it wrong.

ROBERTS: The final push and the last minute messages. The most politics in the morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing.

ROBERTS: Tornadoes in the south. Extreme weather on the move.

Plus -- soldier of fortune.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a three-second moment of silence and then I just exploded out of bed and woke everybody up in the house.

ROBERTS: Iraq war vet and a lotto millionaire. His plans for the windfall and a return to the front on this AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. If you had a million dollars would you just sit on it?

CHETRY: Or would you decide to go back to Iraq? A very dangerous place? Well, we're going to meet one man who is doing both. He's putting his dreams on hold to serve his country.