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American Morning

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Ready for Texas and Ohio Primaries; Russia Elects New President: Dmitry Medvedev; Cleveland Hit Hard by Mortgage Crisis

Aired March 03, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, soldier of fortune.

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


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

And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

If you had a million dollars, would you just sit on it?

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: 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. And he's going to be talking to us today about why that's so important to him.

ROBERTS: Yes. A real inspiration to a lot of people there.

CHETRY: It is.

ROBERTS: Where you put your priorities here.

CHETRY: That's right. We're going to talk to him in just about a half an hour.

But meanwhile, we're less than 24 hours away from four states heading to the polls in the big make or break contest. At stake, 370 delegates for Democrats, 256 for Republicans. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton already up and on the attack.

She is actually counting on wins in Texas and Ohio for a comeback. Right now, Senator Clinton in Ohio is wrapping up her so- called 88 counties in 80 hours. Party officials predicting record turnout in that state. And this afternoon she heads to Texas. There are rallies there in Beaumont and Austin.

And Barack Obama also won a marathon dash across Texas where he picked up the endorsement of the "The Dallas Morning News" as well as the "Cincinnati Inquirer." And the heat of this critical contest is getting 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 a commander-in-chief ready to answer that phone. Ready to begin to respond.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She didn't give diplomacy a chance. To this day, she 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, Senator John McCain has three rallies scheduled today in Texas. Mike Huckabee has at least ten stops today from Dallas to Houston. And Texas is the big prize tomorrow. In a poll of polls, John McCain leads in that state with 58 percent, Mike Huckabee at 30 percent, Ron Paul at six percent and six percent unsure.

On the Democrats side, Barack Obama was 47 percent and Hillary Clinton at 45 percent. Really, almost a dead heat there. Eight percent of the Democrats remain undecided.

We're live from all the battle-front states. Suzanne Malveaux is in Dallas, Texas for us today. We have Rob Marciano in Atlanta with the primary day's forecast. Could get rough in some of these states. Ali Velshi looking at the economy from Junction, Texas, and Gerri Willis is in Cleveland with the mortgage crisis weighing on the minds of voters.

ROBERTS: Let's begin with Suzanne. She is live in Dallas where the rhetoric is toughening and Senator Obama holds a small lead.

Suzanne, he's got the lead there in Texas now and Hillary Clinton was leading for so long. Is there anything she can do to close that gap in the next 24 hours?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, John, she certainly hopes that the voters are going to decide on experience. That's at least what she has been arguing here. They're expecting some pretty bad weather. Tornado warning and some storms brewing through various parts of Texas, but it is not expected to stop either one of these candidates from crisscrossing the states today.

We should see Senator Clinton. She is heading to Beaumont as well, as Austin for a town hall meeting before she overnights in Houston. Senator Obama heading to various places including Carrollton, Houston, and San Antonio. Now, the big argument that Senator Clinton has been making is that on national security. That she has the experience, life experience, work experience to be the stronger commander-in-chief.

We have heard Senator Obama counter that argument saying it is all about judgments. Let's take a listen at how the candidates have been shaping this debate.


CLINTON: I'm 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.

OBAMA: I don't know what all that experience got her, because I have enough experience to know that if you have a national intelligence estimate and the 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.


MALVEAUX: And, John, as you know, the reason why it is so important, the national security argument is that there are a lot of military family, a lot of veterans, people paying very close attention to that argument, particularly in Texas. In Ohio, they are both talking about the economy, gas prices as well as their economic plans and health care as well as free trade. That really resonating with Ohio voters.

But as you know, Senator Clinton's campaign, her own husband, Bill Clinton, saying that tomorrow is a do or die day. D-day for her campaign that she needs to win Ohio and Texas to move forward. Both of them will be paying a lot of attention to the voters today. Crisscrossing the state. Making sure that not only their messages are getting on specifically with the voters, but also on television.

We have seen this back and forth, particularly heated debate over who would be ready in a time of crisis overnight. If the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning and they had to deal with it as commander-in- chief, both of them making the case that they believe they'd be the stronger candidate -- John.

ROBERTS: And some people, not Obama supporters have joked that the only experience Hillary Clinton has in answering the phone at 3:00 a.m. is to say, Bill, it's for you. How does she combat that?

MALVEAUX: You know, it's interesting, because the Obama campaign bring up a couple of points. They say -- they ask her, you know, what is your experience when it comes to a national crisis at 3:00 in the morning? She has been on various committees, but there's not a crisis situation that she has dealt with in that situation.

What they do talk about is she says she's been to 80 countries as kind of an ambassador to the United States. That she has -- she made a speech in Beijing, China on women's rights. The Obama people counter, well, that was just a speech, per se, and that she has done some work in Northern Ireland with the peace talks. But they believe that it's exaggerated. They believe that she's overstating her experience. She says that all of these things count, when it comes to a crisis situation. You look at both of these candidates and they are not yet tested -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, we will find that very soon, who made the stronger case.

Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning in Dallas. Suzanne, thanks.

The Republican race is not as tight as the Democratic race, but Mike Huckabee says he plans to keep fighting. Huckabee has been getting a lot of support from conservatives who say, John McCain is damaging the party. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Huckabee told me he's staying in the race to help keep the party true to its core values.


MIKE HUCKABEE, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 that encompasses things like education, health care, confronting disease and poverty, then we're going to be an extinct party in the another few years and that's why we've got to continue keeping this message going.


ROBERTS: Huckabee's campaign manager says depending on tomorrow's results, they may suspend or scale back their campaign. And stay with CNN today and of course tomorrow for coverage of the crucial primaries. We will have up-to-the-minute results from Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont starting tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

And join us the morning after for a special early edition of AMERICAN MORNING, Wednesday, beginning at 5:00 a.m. Eastern -- Kiran.

CHETRY: There's a big winter storm system moving through the Midwest and extreme weather spawned two tornadoes in Northwest Oklahoma. Both of them touched down in rural Blaine County and both caught on tape it appears.

Here's a look at one. Strong winds and the funnel cloud knocking down power lines, damaging a barn, shutting down roads. Emergency crews, though, say that no injuries were reported.

Severe weather is also expected in the south today. A storm system that could affect turnout in Ohio's primary tomorrow. Our Rob Marciano is at the weather update desk. You know, you could look at that picture forever though. It's just fascinating to see the fury of Mother Nature with those funnel clouds.


ROBERTS: And our Alina Cho joins us now with other stories new this morning.

Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John, Kiran good morning. Good morning, everybody.

We are just getting word that U.S. precision missiles struck a known terrorist camp in Somalia overnight. Pentagon says they used those missiles to hit al Qaeda targets in the village near the Kenyan border. They cannot confirm casualties, but local news reports say civilians were killed. In a similar raid last year, the U.S. went after suspects in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is wrapping up his two-day visit to Iraq. It's the first visit to Iraq by an Iranian president. In a speech just a short time ago in Baghdad, Ahmadinejad berated the United States for being in Iraq, saying it's only led to destruction.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAQ (through translator): Your only achievement is that the regional nations would further dislike them and that it would add to the regional nations' hatred. No one likes them.


CHO: Earlier this morning, 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 countries.

New overnight, Russia has chosen a new president and the White House says it looks forward to working with him. With nearly all precincts reporting, Dmitry Medvedev cruised to victory with more than 70 percent of the vote. But it wasn't much of an election. He was hand-picked by the current president, Vladimir Putin. And Putin will likely stay on as prime minister. Still, opposition leaders are protesting the results.

Well, you probably heard it a million times. Eat your breakfast. Now there's actually evidence it may be the key to keeping teens thin. A new study says teens, who regularly eat that first meal of the day tend to weigh less.

They also tend to exercise more and have a more healthy diet. All makes sense, doesn't it? The study followed more than 20 to 100 teens in the Minneapolis area for five years. The study also says one out of every four U.S. children skip breakfast.

And finally, the doors of the Manhattan landmark are back open following a three-year, $400 million renovation. That was the ribbon- cutting you just saw. The legendary Plaza Hotel in New York reopened just this past Saturday.

The Plaza first opened in 1907. And over the years, everyone from the Beatles to Marilyn Monroe has stayed there. The original plan was to turn all 805 guest rooms into condos, but 282 hotel rooms will stay. There's only one residential unit left.

One went for $50 million. And if that's out of your price range, you want to check in as a hotel guest, the going rate is $1,000 a night. There's also a champagne bar, where you can get a glass for $25 to $30, or a bottle for $3,300.


CHO: But if you're paying $50 million for an apparent or a $1,000 for a hotel room, I don't think you're really thinking about a thousand bucks.

ROBERTS: I can't believe they finally finished that renovation.

CHO: Oh, I know. Well, it's just down the street from us. I think it took a lot longer than they first expected.

CHETRY: Yes. It's also really popular. I think, for people that come to the city. I think you can also get tea, you know, (INAUDIBLE) tea for about $60. So you know, if you're coming to New York, you just drink some of that.


CHO: The same Palm Court for breakfast.

CHETRY: That's right. There you go. Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Way beyond my tastes.

More questions about a ricin scare. The FBI's investigation moves from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. The man who may have the answers about the deadly toxin remains in a coma.

The city of Cleveland hit hard by the mortgage crisis. But community groups are hard at work, trying to ease the financial hardship. Gerri Willis is in Cleveland with our "Financial Security Watch."

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: The ricin investigation moves to another state and the man who may have the answer is unfortunately in a coma. FBI agents in protective suits searching four locations around Salt Lake City over the weekend, all linked to 57-year-old Roger Von Bergendorff. Police say he lived in Utah for more than a year before moving to Las Vegas, where they found vials of ricin, several guns, and an anarchist-type textbook in his hotel room. The book was marked in the spot containing information about ricin. And Bergendorff is in critical condition, in a coma, from possible exposure to the toxin -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, the economy will be on the minds of voters headed to the polls in four states tomorrow. There's a new survey out this morning saying that some of the smartest minds in America think it's the mortgage crisis that's emerging as the biggest threat to our economy.

Our Gerri Willis joins us now with your "Financial Security Watch" live from Cleveland. Foreclosures there hit especially hard and I'm sure people don't need to consider themselves the smartest minds to say, look, I'm in trouble.


You know, I'm standing in a house that will show us rather than tell us what these numbers mean. Take a look at this. This house isn't in foreclosure yet, but it's likely to go into foreclosure. I want to show you, over here, vandals have come in and stripped out the sheet rock so they could get to this copper wiring, steal the copper wiring and sell it.

Take a look down here. The teddy bear, the doll. As you can see, the face of this mortgage meltdown is truly a sad story. And now putting numbers to that very sad face, this study from the National Association for Business Economics says basically that they believe a third of financial markets turmoil will -- a third of them say the financial market turmoil will send the economy into recession.

It's the number one problem for the economy. Very bad numbers there. As we know, of course, when there's one foreclosure in the neighborhood, the likelihood the values there go down is very, very high -- Kiran.

CHETRY: These defaults then affect the economy as well after that happens?

WILLIS: That's right. Defaults affect the economy, the broader economy, because lenders become reluctant to lend to consumers or businesses. They pull on their purse strings. And without money, without loans, it's difficult for the economy to grow. And as you can see, when you get to the street-by-street level, you get inside some of these houses, the story is very, very sad indeed -- Kiran.

CHETRY: What is it about this Cleveland area and some of the communities that you're in that has made them especially vulnerable to this situation?

WILLIS: Well, we've been in Slavic Village all morning here and what happened here was really fraud. Mortgage fraud. People coming in and taking advantage of older residents.

But the broader problem for Cleveland is really far-reaching. It really has to do with how the economy here has changed. The industrial base essentially eroded. A loss of jobs in the industrial sector from steel to a variety of other areas.

As a result, this whole area is really suffering. And no more so than in the last few months when economists say that the economy has generally slowed down -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Gerri Willis for us out there on the streets in Cleveland showing us exactly how tough it's gotten for many. Thanks a lot.

ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes now after the hour. A pilot saves the day in Germany. You've got to see this. We've got the amazing pictures coming up, shows you how he saved the plane loaded of passengers from disaster.

Stay with us here on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Time now for a look at your "HotShots" this morning. It's an amazing move that could have been a lifesaver by a German airline pilot. He avoided a crash by mere seconds. Check out this video. You see him coming in for a landing. This is a Lufthansa jet. Then some wind flew up underneath the wing, almost making the plane keel over to the left there.

In fact, the left wing did briefly touch the ground before he pulled an evasive maneuver and managed to lift the plane back up again. Happened Saturday in Hamburg. And again, it was just a gust of wind, they say, that pushed that left wing towards the ground, pulling up at the last second.

Some quick thinking on the part of the pilot. A 17-year vet. He's says it's a move that they actually practice quite regularly. So practice certainly made perfect in this instance. The plane did up landing safely.

ROBERTS: You can see a very powerful crosswind as he's coming in. As he tries to straighten it out, boom, the wing dips down. And we got lift under the right wing there and just almost put him into the ground. Thank goodness he managed to recover.

CHETRY: That's the pilot you want flying your plane.

ROBERTS: I want a pilot that wouldn't have done that in the first place, but.

CHETRY: Well, if you have a hot shot, send it to us. Head to our Web site, Follow the "HotShots" link. Include your name, where you're from, a little bit about the video and please make sure the image is yours and not someone else's. ROBERTS: Well, a bombshell story has emerged this morning that could have a dramatic affect on the Obama campaign in Ohio. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is covering the race from Ohio. She joins us from Cleveland. She's outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

So Candy, just lay the groundwork for us about what this argument has been about regarding NAFTA and what Barack Obama would actually do on NAFTA?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, we should tell you that here in Ohio, NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement is a dirty word. People believe in Ohio that that trade agreement has sucked jobs from the state. So with that as a basis, both candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have said, yes I would renegotiate NAFTA if need be, because it really has hurt the economy.

OK. A week ago, about a week ago, a Canadian television station ran a story saying that a top official on the Obama campaign had told Canadian officials that they should kind of look at his position on NAFTA more as political positioning, given all the anxiety in the Midwest about NAFTA, and less about policy. It was denied by the Obama campaign. It was denied by the Canadian embassy. So the story kind of laid there.

Now the "Associated Press" has obtained a memo from the Canadian Consulate in Chicago showing that a meeting did take place between a high-level adviser to Barack Obama, and some Canadian officials in the consulate in Chicago. Now, the summation of that meeting written by somebody in the Canadian Consulate says that this Barack Obama official told them that they really should look at NAFTA in light of the sort of protectionism that has emerged particularly from the Midwest and not so much as policy.

ROBERTS: In fact, in fact --

CROWLEY: Now, the Obama official --

ROBERTS: In fact, Candy, I've got the memo here and we've produced it up so that everybody can have a look at it. Basically, the argument is that Barack Obama was going to talk a tough game on NAFTA, but he wasn't going to do anything about it. The mediate was between Austan Goolsbee who was his chief economic adviser, he's a professor at the University of Chicago, which would make sense that this meeting would have taken place at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago.

Joseph Demora who was at that meeting wrote, "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged a protectionist sentiment that has emerged particularly in the Midwest during the primary campaign." He cautioned -- he, being Goolsbee, cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans. Now, Goolsbee claims, "I certainly did not use that phrase in any way" according to this "AP" story. But certainly, if not a smoking gun, this seems to be some evidence that the Obama campaign is going to have a difficult time refuting?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, there's a couple of problems. There's the policy question. Here in Ohio, with NAFTA being so unpopular, the question then is well, what does he feel about NAFTA?

You mean, he supports it? Now, the Obama campaign says, listen, we need to enforce those labor provisions, those environmental provisions in NAFTA. There was nothing in this meeting that said anything other than that.

But at a whole other level, this is Obama, the Obama campaign. Barack Obama has gone around the country saying we need to do different kind of business in Washington. We need to tell people what we think. We need to really get down to what's important. So at another level, it also hurts the Obama campaign. That sort of straight shooting message that he's been putting out there.

So it will be interesting to see how they talk about it. They never denied the meeting took place. They just denied that in fact the conversation was about how this was all political talk and shouldn't be taken seriously.

ROBERTS: Well, I suspect that his advisers are going to be scrambling this morning, trying to figure out how to respond to this. Candy Crowley for us this morning in Cleveland, outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it's about to get rock and roll there in Ohio as well. Candy, thanks very much.

Stick with CNN all day for the latest on the crucial primaries. Hear the candidates, in their own words, raw and unfiltered on "CNN's BALLOT BOWL." That's today at noon Eastern and then join, Campbell Brown, tonight at 8:00 Eastern, live from the CNN Election Center with the Best Political Team on Television -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, it's hard to believe that we spring forward this weekend. Daylight saving time arrives on Sunday, actually. There's a new study out today showing that we're sleepy enough without even losing that hour. The National Sleep Foundation says the average American workers gets only six hours and 40 minutes of sleep a night. That's about 40 minutes less than we should actually get.

And it brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. How much sleep do you typically get a night? Right now, just 13 percent of you say you get eight hours or more. Sixty percent get five to seven hours and 27 percent, fewer than five hours of sleep a night.

We are seem well rested, actually, 60 percent. How about that? Cast your vote at We'll bring you a final tally coming up in just 30 minutes.

ROBERTS: Of course. I guess the optimum is seven hours and 20 minutes. CHETRY: Oh, it is.

ROBERTS: Yes. Optimal is seven hours and 20 minutes according to scientists. So most of the nation is sleep deprived in some way.

CHETRY: That's right and it's not only how much you get, but are you waking up all the time with snoring or other problems. As Elizabeth Cohen showed us, if you're waking up because you're snoring, that's actually very problematic. It can put you at risk for other health problems.

ROBERTS: Yes. Stroke in particular.

CHETRY: Right.

Well, an amazing bit of luck for a sergeant in Washington State, in the national guard in fact, Wayne Leyde. He scratched off a lotto ticket and became an instant millionaire.


WAYNE LEYDE, LOTTERY WINNER: When I started scratching off the prize. And then I was like, no way, as I scratched it. I've looked at it for a minute. There was like a three-second just moment of silence. And then I just exploded out of bed and woke everybody up in the house.


CHETRY: And who can blame him? But Wayne is not thinking about the money right now. He's actually planning on returning to duty. Why? Well, we're going to talk to him live in just a few minutes here on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back. Right now, we're looking at a, looks like traffic cam shot from our KOCO, our affiliate in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma this morning. Things are moving along. Light snow at times. A little bit windy today, 35 degrees.

Only getting about three degrees warmer. A big improvement over the other video we saw earlier with those funnel clouds touching down in the area as well Blaine County, two different sightings.

ROBERTS: A lot of bad weather there and extending into Texas as well. Suzanne Malveaux has been getting blown around this morning as well as she has been reporting live on the upcoming primary tomorrow.

CHETRY: That's right. And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING as we've said, tomorrow is a big day. Texas voters go to the polls, Ohio and we can't forget, of course, Rhode Island and Vermont.

ROBERTS: You don't want to forget about Rhode Island and Vermont. Because between the two of them, they've got 34 delegates at least on the Republican side. So, that could push John McCain over the top. We'll see what happens.

New this morning, at least 18 people are dead this morning after two car bombs exploded in Baghdad. They targeted Iraqi security forces in the deadliest that happened near an Iraqi army patrol. Fifteen were killed, 40 others wounded.

The other bomb hit a police checkpoint in the eastern part of Baghdad killing three, and wounding nine. Amid that violence, a call from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the United States to leave Iraq. He is wrapping a two-day trip to Iraq and told reporters in Baghdad that the U.S. presence has only divided Iraq.

This is the first visit to Iraq by an Iranian president, not a signal of a new alliance, however. CNN' Michael Ware said instead it's a renewing of long-standing ties between once sworn enemies.

CHETRY: Well, starting today, a change in laws could mean that people convicted of crack offenses could walk out of prison. It was a decision made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission actually to reduce the disparity between powder and crack cocaine sentence's in all, the judges could reduce the sentences for nearly 20,000 convicted drug offenders based on this ruling.

Well, if you're thinking of text messaging while driving in New Jersey, you should forget about it. Police are now hitting drivers with $100 fine if they see you doing it in your car. The new rule took effect on Saturday.

Texting behind the wheel is now considered a primary offense, which means police need no other reason to yank you off the road and give you summons. Washington state has a similar texting law on the books.

ROBERTS: It's down to the wire in four states. Its voters go to the polls tomorrow in primaries that could determine the Democratic nominee. It's not much of a race on the Republican side, but Mike Huckabee says that doesn't mean that he's going to give up. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Huckabee told me he does not understand why people want him to drop out.


HUCKABEE: Everybody acts like we've 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 a hard time understanding, why would we call it a day?

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 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 that think we ought to end the game before it's even been finished? I don't get that.


ROBERTS: Huckabee got the endorsement of the "Dallas Morning News" over the weekend. The paper said it knows Huckabee can't win the nomination but added that they think Huckabee is the future of the party. John McCain only needs by our count 224 more delegates to wrap it up. Two hundred and fifty-six available on the Republican side tomorrow.

For the Democrats, it's a Texas-style showdown between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in the delegate-rich state. In a CNN poll of polls, Obama is at 47 percent. Clinton is at 45 percent. Eight percent remain undecided in Texas. In a CNN poll of polls in Ohio, Clinton leads among likely Democratic voters with 48 percent. Barack Obama has 43 percent, nine percent remain undecided.

But as we were talking about with Candy Crowell just a few moments ago, a new story has emerged there in Ohio regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement that could have an impact on Barack Obama. We'll keep watching that story.

And stay with CNN today and of course tomorrow for coverage of these crucial primaries. Up to the minute results from Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont, starting tomorrow night, 7:00 a.m. Eastern -- 7:00 p.m. Eastern, sorry. Right here on CNN.

I'm in an a.m. state of mind here. And join us for the morning after special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, Wednesday, beginning at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.

CHETRY: That's right. You didn't read that wrong. We're going on an hour early Wednesday morning.

ROBERTS: Just, as I say, everything's a.m. to me.

CHETRY: Well, candidates are not the only ones barnstorming Texas. Ali Velshi joins us this morning from Junction where he's touring Texas with CNN's "Election Express" bus talking to voters about their view on the economy.

Hey, Ali.


It's always an hour earlier here in Texas. So I don't even want to think what time we're getting up Wednesday, except for the fact that in Texas we've been moving from town to town and there's one thing that Texans have in common. They are amongst the most hospitable people we've ever seen.

Look at this room, where in here, at the Letter buck Cafe Coffeehouse here in Junction, Texas, population 2,500. We've been traveling around the state for more than a week and I want to give you a little sense of the flavor of what we've encountered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VELSHI (voice-over): We're actually out here talking about politics and the economy. It's a big concern for people. Are you worried about the economy?


VELSHI: This is my ride. Not a lot of cars. Did somebody say I'm all hat and no cattle? Let's go. The oil hit another record today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On average, it takes everybody out here $0.70 cents a mile using diesel fuel with freight only paying $1.30, $1.40 a pound, we can't make a living with that.

VELSHI: Average Americans know they pay for it at the pump. Well, I guess what people don't necessarily always register is the different ways in which fuel impacts inflation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're fixing to go up on prices because of the cost of gas that's causing our delivery costs to go up. None of us are making as much money as we were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, we're good genuine, homo sapiens human beings. But it think it's branded. You are CNN. I think it's wonderful you would come and visit us.

VELSHI: Exactly our point. We want to get out there and actually talk to people. If you can figure out Texas, it will probably help you figure out the country.


VELSHI: And that's what I've been sort of thinking since I got here. Texas is like a country in one state. The issues are different across the state. They are the economy, the issue of the economy still is the number one issue, but how it manifests in different towns is entirely different.

Now, what we're going to do, we'll do, every day in a few hours pack up here and go to one more spot where we're going to watch those primary results come in and talk to Texans, but it has been very enlightening to find out what people are concerned about, because the concerns in Texas are very much like the concerns across the country -- Kiran.

CHETRY: You know, you need a little theme music in the background. I heard some banjo playing. But I think you need Johnny Cash's, "I've been everywhere," man, because you really are, at least in Texas.

VELSHI: We got a couple more days.

CHETRY: Good stuff. All right, Ali. Take care.

ROBERTS: Not everywhere, not just yet. Let's say, primary voters in Ohio, tomorrow, we'll be dealing with some severe weather. Out Rob Marciano has got more on that, the storms today across the southeast, at the CNN weather center in Atlanta tracking what has been extreme weather this morning.

Good morning, Rob.


Yes. This morning, yesterday and the day before that, the storm really wanting itself up and stretching out as well. Well, it stretches from the Great Lakes, Chicago, down across the Mississippi River and down across the south where it's turning up more severe.

We have a severe thunderstorm watch that's in effect for this part of Texas, and through Louisiana until 1:00 local time. Tornado watch is about to expire just to the east of Dallas. You see that watchbox getting more slim. But as the storm in this line of storms pushes to the east, across at the Sabinne River, probably we'll get a little bit more volatile.

Damaging winds, tornadoes possible and large hail. This whole swath of real estate, as this storm pushes to the east and the low itself kind of waves along that front all towards the north and east. And with that, we'll see some rainfall as well. Texas, you'll be out of it tomorrow. So, no excuse to get to the polls.

But it looks like Ohio especially the northern part will see a wintry mix in the southern part of Ohio, we'll see some heavy rainfall. Potentially some flooding rainfall in some spots. Here's your messy mix tomorrow. The rain and snow doesn't quite get to New England until probably late in the day tomorrow, and tomorrow night, but that either way you slice it, is one ugly map there, John.

I feel bad for the folks in Ohio. They're just going to have to, you know, dress for the occasion. Give yourself some extra time and do your Democratic duty -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Got to bundle up tomorrow in Ohio. Rob, thanks very much.


ROBERTS: Forty-one minutes after the hour now.


CHETRY (voice-over): Call him a soldier of fortune. An Iraq war veteran suddenly a millionaire.

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


CHETRY: Wait until you hear where this lotto winner is going next. He joins us live ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Forty-five minutes after the hour. Call it karma or just great luck. After completing two tours of duty in Iraq, Sergeant Wayne Leyde won a cool million bucks from a scratch off lottery ticket last week.

CHETRY: That's right. And despite the wind, the 26-year-old member of the Washington National Guard says he is going back to Iraq for a third tour as planned. Sergeant Wayne Leyde joins us now from Spokane, Washington.

Good morning to you, Sergeant and congratulations, first of all.

LEYDE: Good morning to you and thank you.

CHETRY: So I'm sure it crossed your mind, for just a couple of minutes, should I take the money and run? You know, you always hear about people winning a lotto and calling in to work, saying sorry, I'm not going to be there Monday.

LEYDE: Well, you know, it was an easy decision for me. I made the commitment before I won the money and I'm going to stick by the commitment. And I'm headed back there for the guy on my left and right.

ROBERTS: So this is one of those things. And we saw this with the folks that won about $260 million the other night. But this was just kind of a spur of the moment thing. Why don't you walk us through how you managed to get that winning ticket in your hand?

LEYDE: Yes. Well, I was on my way home from the gym and I decided to stop at the local gas station and pick up a Coke and some beef jerky. And I walked up to the counter and was like, I'll get some tickets too.

So, I ended up buying four and as I was walking out of the lady goes, well, do you have a lucky scratch there? I said, no, I don't. She goes, well, here. Here you go. Here's a lucky scratcher. Have a good evening. I said thank you.

On my way home, I scratched the first two, of course, didn't win. So much for the lucky scratcher. Then I got home and just as I got ready for bed I scratched that winner. And like I said, I exploded out of bed.

CHETRY: I know people have been asking you since Thursday what you were planning on doing with the money. You said back then, you're just going to wait. Have you had time any time to sleep on it over the weekend or have you made any other plans with it?

LEYDE: You know, reality is kind of sinking back into perspectives slowly and I'm just going to sit on it a while and I'd really like to turn around and bless those who truly deserve this. So we'll look into some charities and things like that. ROBERTS: We said you've already done two tours of duty in Iraq. When are you supposed to go back?

LEYDE: Sometime later this year.

ROBERTS: Right. Not clear yet when the deployment will be?

LEYDE: No, sir.

CHETRY: Now, do you worry that the guys you served with before may look at you differently, treat you differently, now you're a millionaire in the ranks?

ROBERTS: Not many millionaire national sergeants out there in the National Guard for sure.

LEYDE: Well, that's true. You know, I hope not. I hope they just treat me the same way they would as if I hadn't won. So --

ROBERTS: And do you think that they'll do that? They won't come up to and say, hey, Wayne, need a little cash. Can you help me out here? I mean, you may have some unusual requests coming up here.

LEYDE: That's true. You know -- there's already been a couple of calls and some new uncles and family members that I have, so -- we'll see how it goes.

CHETRY: Now, as we understand it, the army does have a clause where you could buy out your contract if you wanted to. You said you did not consider doing that that it was very important to you to talk not only about this but also why you think it's so important to honor the troops and for you to go back there?

LEYDE: Yes, ma'am. I mean, it's the commitment. And when you're over there with the guys and the servicemen and women you know it's the right thing to do.

ROBERTS: Hey, sergeant, you mentioned this lucky scratcher a couple minutes ago. What was the lucky scratcher?

LEYDE: It was actually a commemorative coin, Washington state lottery, it was their 25th year promotional coin that they have.

ROBERTS: Well it turned to be lucky. Well, Sergeant Wayne Leyde, thanks very much for being with us. Thank you especially for your service and be safe when you go back over there.

LEYDE: Well, thank you.

ROBERTS: Good guy to talk to.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Good luck to him.

ROBERTS: "CNN NEWSROOM" coming up in just a few minutes time. Heidi Collins with at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, John.

That's right. Election eve in the NEWSROOM. She's hoping for a comeback. He's hoping for a knockout. Last-minute strategies for Clinton and Obama heading into the key primaries tomorrow.

A Las Vegas ricin investigation. Police carry out searches in Utah. What did they find? The poison has one man in ICU. Also, do you snore? A new study suggests sawing logs may be linked to heart disease. And the louder you snore the greater the risk.

Also, the U.S. bombs an alleged terror camp in Somalia. We dig into that story coming up right here on CNN in the NEWSROOM. John.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. Heidi, we'll see you soon, in just about 11 minutes from now.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead, tough economic times translating into a tough job market. A lot of folks looking for employment and if you're one of them, well there are some things you should know before walking into that interview. Polly Labarre breaks down the extreme questions that could be asked by some perspective employers.


CHETRY: Getting some new pictures now of a bus crash that took place in Cherokee county, Georgia. This is just northwest of Atlanta. We're hearing that two children were critically injured after the school bus they were riding in flipped over.

This is near Canton, Georgia -- 28 other children on the bus suffered minor injuries. They did not have to be hospitalized. We have been following this story and we're going to bring you more information as soon as we get it. We do also know that parents have been told to gather at Sequoia High School to get more information.

It's not immediately clear how old the students were or which school the bus was traveling to when it overturned. Even though they are being asked to gather at Sequoia High School for information, so again, this happening when the bus lost control on highway 140 near Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta. We'll continue to follow it and bring you an update as soon as we know more -- John.

ROBERTS: Coming up on six minutes now to the top of the hour. The job market is tight now. And prospective employers are being extra selective when it comes to hiring. For job hunters, it means be ready for some very unusual questions during the interview.

CNN contributor Polly Labarre joins us now with what you can expect. So, you land this dream interview, you're all set, you got your C.V. right in front of you, all your credentials and the interviewer says, you got a messy desk.

What are they try to find out here? POLLY LABARRE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They were trying to find out who you are as a person versus what you've done, what you're credentials. You know that cost of a bad hire keeps getting higher and higher, and the point is, the best I think, employers are waking up in fact, that character is as important as credentials.

You know, who you are as a person what your attitudes are and more importantly, how you'll fit with their culture, their values, their goals. So the way you find out is not on resume. Not your work experience, not your grade point average but a different approach to interviewing.

So, you get questions like that. Now, Google is a real prime example of this. The company that applies the same ingenuity recruiting process as it does to everything else, and Google's hiring people at an incredible rate.

They've got 10,000 people, they'll double this year. Here's some interview questions from a new survey that Google created. They applied their famous algorithm to what makes a successful Google employee.

And there are questions like: Do you have a messy desk? Do you have a pet? Have you ever run a successful non-tech business? Again, getting at the whole person, not just, are you a brainiac with a 4.0 grade average.

ROBERTS: Right. You know, people come into these job interviews, obviously they're on their best behavior. I take it that these questions are designed to sort of get beneath the surface a little bit, to break through that, to get a real measure of who the person is.

What other questions might people be asked? I mean, it almost reminds me of the film "Blade Runner" or the guy trying to root out the robot.

LABARRE: Actually, technology is a piece of the puzzle. Because some of these interviews now happen online, ahead of the game. It's all about doing screening and the assessment before you get to that human, human contact which is not necessarily the best predictor of future performance, because we're all human, as it were.

So some of these questions now are getting really interesting. What was your biggest faux pas? If you were a flower, what flower would you be? It's the Barbara Walters' question.

You know, if you were you a tree what kind of a tree would you be? And then the kind of, are you smarty pants questions? Why are manhole covers round. Do you know why? And if you meet with resounding silence, I guess you don't get the job.

ROBERTS: I failed.

LABARRE: No, I think it's because they don't want to you fall through and hit anyone. So, these are the kinds of questions that they throw at you. And the whole point is, be your whole self. Show up with not just what you've done in your credentials but you could be beyond just, you know, the day-to-day working requirements, and it ends up helping people understand a person a lot better.

ROBERTS: What kind of flower would you be?

LABARRE: A peony.

ROBERTS: A venus flytrap out there. Polly, thanks very much -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. So, they didn't ask you the manhole cover question when you got hired here? That was question number three on the list.

ROBERTS: Sorry. They didn't.

CHETRY: Thanks, guys.

Well, here's a quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour.

COLLINS: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM -- election eve. Hillary Clinton starts her day in Ohio. Barack Obama in Texas.

A good chance of tornadoes across the midsouth today.

The Las Vegas ricin investigation. Police searching Utah homes and storage unit.

Starting today, hundreds of crack felons can apply for early release.

And new findings about sleep. Loud snoring may be linked to heart disease.

NEWSROOM, top of the hour on CNN.


CHETRY: Hey, before we leave you, we wanted to get a final check of this morning's "Quick Vote" question. In fact, sleep, in a study, how important sleep is and how not getting enough of it or not getting quality sleep can really affect your health. So, we asked, how much do you sleep a night? Well, 14 percent, that's it, get eight or more hours. Sixty percent get five to seven hours, 25 percent fewer than five hours of sleep a night.

To all of you who voted, thank you. And thanks so much for being with us. We will see you tomorrow.