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American Morning

Scott McClellan Speaks Out About his Tell-All Book; Massive Evacuation in China; Is Hillary Clinton a Presidential Short-Timer?

Aired May 29, 2008 - 08:00   ET


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's holding a fundraiser with George Bush behind close doors in Arizona. No cameras, no reporters and we all know why. Senator McCain doesn't want to be seen hand-in-hand with the president whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Why don't we see President Bush and John McCain arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand like in past years coming out together, speaking engagements? Why not?

RUDY GIULIANI, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: Well, first of all, fundraisers are often done in private. Barack Obama has had dozens, if not hundreds of fundraisers in private. Sometimes, the people that are raising the money want to have a certain degree of privacy. Sometimes, they don't want their home invaded.

The thing about John McCain that's very, very clear, you know when he agrees with President Bush and you know when he disagrees. He's been the strongest supporter of the war in Iraq. He's been the strongest critic in the way in which it was conducted until the surge. This is a man who nobody is going to be able to legitimately criticize as not being independent.

PHILLIPS: But why have we not seen them together more?

GIULIANI: We have seen them together. And you're not going to see them together all the time. Here's the thing. When a person is running, either as a vice president or party in power, you've got to show yourself as your own person.

The American people expect to see it. George Bush had to do this when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. This is what happened. Al Gore had to do this when Bill Clinton was in the White House. In fact, they thought Al Gore did it too much and he distanced himself too much from Bill Clinton because of Bill Clinton's problems at the time. This is incumbent in -- or part of what happens when you run with a president in the White House of your party.

PHILLIPS: We'll be talking again. Good to see you, mayor. All right.

John? JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: One minute after the hour now. Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is losing faith in Hillary Clinton saying that he doesn't expect her to win the nomination. The staunch Clinton supporter says he believes that Clinton is a far better choice, but it's, quote, "very likely that she'll be -- very unlikely, rather, that she'll be the Democratic nominee this fall."

So, is Senator Clinton done or is there one more chance for her to salvage her campaign. Coming up in about half an hour, another long-time Clinton supporter, James Carville, weighs in when he joins us live.

As of today, just five days left now until final two contests in South Dakota and Montana, we have got the countdown clock rolling.

Coming up next, Puerto Rico on June the 1st. And then on June the 3rd -- those last two primaries -- Montana and South Dakota. 31 delegates there. We've got 55 delegates at stake in Puerto Rico.

Breaking news this morning. For first time, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is speaking out about his tell-all book that blasts the Bush White House. In the book, McClellan said the administration sold the Iraq war with propaganda and explained why on NBC's "Today" show.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Much of that information was based in what could be substantiated. But at the same time, as we accelerated the build-up to the war, the information that we were talking about became a little more certain than it was.

The caveats were dropped. Contradictory intelligence was ignored. Intelligence that had a high level of confidence was combined and packaged with intelligence that had a low level of confidence. And together, that made it sound like the threat was more urgent and more grave and gathering that it really turned out to be.


ROBERTS: McClellan also said President Bush's idealistic vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East pushed him forward on Iraq.

It's total crap. That's what a fellow former White House insider calls some of the allegations in McClellan's book. Former White House Counselor Dan Bartlett also asked, why now?


DAN BARTLETT, FORMER COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: In the most private of moments within the west wing of the White House, with his closest colleagues, he never raised these concerns that he's now airing in this book. And that, I think, is why it's so troubling to see this type of tell-all book that we're now reading about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Bartlett was a fellow Texas original in the Bush White House. The current White House press secretary Dana Perino called the disclosures in the book, quote, "sad and puzzling."

Well, just hours ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waded on the controversy. During an international conference on Iraq, she said the administration never misled the public.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on a book that I haven't read. But I will say that the concerns about weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were the fundamental reason for tense effort for dozens of resolutions within the Security Council from the time that Saddam Hussein was expelled from Kuwait in 1991 up until 2003.


ROBERTS: Rice also said she remains convinced toppling Saddam Hussein was right and necessary.

PHILLIPS: Breaking news this morning. A suspected terrorist attack in the southern Philippines. Three people killed, at least 18 injured, when a bomb went off just outside an Air Force base. This video came into CNN just minutes ago. Officials said the bomb was hidden in a bag and detonated by remote control using a cell phone.

ROBERTS: Breaking news out of China today. Officials preparing for a massive evacuation. They say a dam formed by the quake -- if a dam formed by the quake gives way, they'll have only four hours to move more than 1 million people. The death toll already topping 65,000 people there.

We're also following breaking weather news. A tropical depression brewing in the eastern Pacific off of the western coast of Costa Rica right now. Rob Marciano is following the developments for us this morning.

And the hurricane season doesn't start for another few days, right?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not the in the Atlantic, John. You're right about that. But in the Pacific, eastern Pacific, it starts May 15th. So, we're off to a quick one here.

Tropical depression number 1-E meaning eastern Pacific. It's about 75 miles south, southwest of Managua, Nicaragua. You can kind of see the satellite picture getting a little bit better organized. It is forecast to strengthen to a tropical storm status. If it does so in the next 24 hours, it would become tropical storm Alma.

And the forecast track is for it to head up towards El Salvador and the Honduras with drenching rains, probably going to be the biggest issue with the storm. Could see 10 to 15 inches of rain over the next 36 to 48 hours. So our hurricane season in the Atlantic starts 2008 and June 1. These are the names that have been picked -- Arthur, Bertha, Christobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, and Gustav. Hopefully, none of those will be too terrible.

John, Kyra, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: Well, the Atlantic hurricane season starts on Sunday. But a new survey says that people along the East Coast are not prepared.

CNN's John Zarrella takes a look at why, in our next half hour.

One city's new plan to clean up its streets and feed the homeless at the same time. We'll have that coming up.

ROBERTS: Is Hillary Clinton a presidential short-timer? We'll ask Clinton supporter James Carville. What it will take for her to keep the Democratic race going.

PHILLIPS: Rachael Ray's specialty is food, not fashion. But is this scarf really a fashion faux pas or much ado about nothing? We'll tell you what's it all about, coming up.


ROBERTS: Pretzels and peanuts are the latest victims of high oil prices. U.S. Airways says it will no longer serve free snacks in coach, not even that little bag of peanuts that they toss at you starting on Sunday. The airline says it's trying to save money in light of record-high jet fuel prices.

And Friday classes are a victim of high gas prices as well. Many community colleges are dropping a day of classes each week to cut students' commutes and, therefore, save gas.

PHILLIPS: Well, gas prices now just a nickel away from a -- 4 bucks a gallon. There it goes. We we're thinking $5.50 by the end of summer?


$3.94 a gallon is where we're at right now. Ouchy. And, really, there's no indication that it's going down. Right now, with oil the price that it is, we have some people speculating gas should be around $4.50 a gallon. We're still headed upward.

There are 11 states and the District of Columbia now where the state average is more than $4 a gallon. And that's about a third of the population of the United States. Rhode Island is the newest member of that club -- just joined.

Indiana backed out of the club, actually. Just a little under $4 a gallon. Now, it's part of -- it's a member of another club. The five states that are within a nickel of $4 a gallon. Those are Florida, Indiana, Maine, Ohio and Oregon.

You know, and we talk about the effect that this has on people. At $3.50 a gallon. Even though you don't -- you pay what you pay. There are people paying $4.25 in the United States and some paying $3.75. You know what you pay.

But when the national average hit $3.50, the car companies have said that they notice a massive change -- psychologically. People said, you know what? We're not driving the trucks anymore. We're pulling over to something into -- something a little smaller. We're seeing a lot of lifestyle changes, including in the cost of food because diesel goes into the cost of food. Manufacturing and transportation.

So, we're doing a call-in show today, a radio call-in show on CNN Radio and its affiliates. And you can watch it on at 10:00. It's called "It's Not Just the Petrol." Because I think it's not just the gas. Sounds a little strange especially next to a picture of me.

But 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, it's not just the Petrol. You can call in at 1877-266-4189. That number will be on the AMERICAN MORNING Web site as well. Call us and tell us how you are changing your lifestyle. What you don't understand. What you want us to report more on. What you want us to explain. Because if Kyra is right and we're going to that number that she said in gas, I'm going to be talking about this for a long time. So --

PHILLIPS: I never stuck to a date like you did, though.

VELSHI: Yes. I said June 8th that we're going to stop seeing those increases. There's some science to that. I'll tell you about it on June 8th or 9th.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

VELSHI: It's not just the petrol.

Well, living in the city might actually make you more green. A new study shows that city dwellers are greener than those who live in the country. One reason, people who live in cities use public transportation more and the sheer numbers just bring down the per person averages.

But if you don't believe in global warming, join in wasting as much energy as possible. The Web site is encouraging people to go for a drive, leave the lights on and smoke cigars on June 12th, not June 8th, as part of its carbon belch day.

ROBERTS: It's going to be a popular organization, isn't it?

PHILLIPS: You know, we're talking about Ali Velshi and gas. And now we're talking about belch. And then we got Miles O'Brien talking about the toilet in space.

VELSHI: Is this a guy channel?

PHILLIPS: We've got to pot.

ROBERTS: Hillary Clinton says that she's still in it to win it. We're going to ask a prominent Clinton supporter about the campaign's desperate fight to get all of Florida and Michigan's delegates reinstated.

PHILLIPS: Sharon Stone says I'm sorry to the nation of China. Up next, the comment that touched off an international incident.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, street sense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving the panhandlers on the street is not helping.


PHILLIPS: A plan to get people to change their habits sparks a fierce debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest problem is to insult the dignity of poor people.


PHILLIPS: Turning parking meters into homeless meters, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: Actress Sharon Stone apologizing to all of China. She's taking heat for a comment at the Cannes Film Festival implying that China's deadly earthquake was its own fault.


SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: They are not being nice to the Dalai Lama who is a good friend of mine. And then all this earthquake and all this stuff having --and I thought, is that karma when you are not nice, that the bad things happen to you?


PHILLIPS: Well, today Stone says that she's deeply sorry. Chinese theaters are actually planning to boycott her movies and Christian Dior is dropping the actress from its new Chinese ad campaign.

ROBERTS: Give to the homeless, just not directly. The city of San Francisco was on a mission to get rid of panhandlers coming up with what it calls a noble way to do it. CNN's Dan Simon tells us what they are up to.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: San Franciscans list panhandling as their top complaint, more so than violent crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are very disturbing. And sometimes I try to ignore them.

SIMON: Its new solution, parking meters. Instead of giving your change to a beggar, the city wants you to put it in a so-called homeless meter. Ten of them will soon be spread out.

DARIUSH KAYHAN, BF HOMELESS POLICY DIRECTOR: We're convinced that giving the panhandlers on the street while seemingly helpful and it feels good is not helping.

SIMON: Not helping because the city claims most of the money goes towards booze and drugs.

(on camera): The change collected from the meters would go to charities to help the homeless. The project is expected to bring in just a few thousand dollars a year. The city says it's not about money, but to educate the public about the problems of giving money directly to the homeless.

The goal, of course, is to reduce the number of panhandlers and the theory goes, the less money people give, the fewer panhandlers will be on the streets.

KAYHAN: We'll put these out there and we'll take a look to see if panhandling is decreasing. If it is, we'll keep them up and possibly expand the program. If it's not working, we have no problem pulling them down.

SIMON (voice-over): Baltimore and Portland are some of the cities that have homeless meters. Denver says panhandling there has plummeted by more than 90 percent. But many in San Francisco remain skeptical including this homeless man.

DENNIS, HOMELESS: You think some panhandler is going to be dissuaded by an orange parking meter? I don't think so.

SIMON: And some homeless advocates even find the program offensive.

SISTER BERNIE GALVIN, RELIGIOUS WITNESS WITH HOMELESS PEOPLE: The biggest problem is to insult the dignity of poor people by saying all of you out there will misuse this money.

SIMON: The meters will be in place this summer. The cities come up with a slogan. Be part of change, don't give change. Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTS: A Democratic Party decision coming on delegates from Florida and Michigan. And the fate of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign may well depend on it. We're going to hear from Clinton supporter James Carville just ahead.

PHILLIPS: A hall of fame line up. Jean Meserve shows us both sides of the new crime and punishment museum, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: Whether you rooted for the cops or the robbers, a brand new museum in D.C. has something for everyone.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has a sneak peak at the national museum of crime and punishment. Sounds like our job. Different kind of crime and punishment.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. So, Kyra, what do you find at a crime scene? You find fingerprints. Here with the museum, you can try and do a match. Let's see if this works. It's picking up the points there. Hey. All right. I found a new job. I can be an investigator. It's one of many interactive exhibits here at the national museum of crime and punishment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. This is about our game.

MESERVE (voice-over): America reveres and reviles its robbers. The movie "Bonnie and Clyde" burnished the legend of that criminal couple. Now a museum does, too.

JANINE VACCARELLO, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CRIME & PUNISHMENT: This is the "Bonnie and Clyde" car from the Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway movie.

MESERVE: But this museum is also about cops and the consequences of crime.

VACCARELLO: The first thing that we want people to come away with is to know that crime doesn't pay.

MESERVE: But this is definitely not Sunday school. Shoulder a rifle and engage in a Wild West shootout. Take a police car on a high speed chase in a simulator just like those used for police training.

There are also efforts to prevent real crime. Admission includes getting your children fingerprinted. Many of the splashy exhibits let visitors see how crimes are solved.

VACCARELLO: I'll just touch back here and you can see how the infrared technology works on the wall when I remove my hand. You can still see.

MESERVE: Oh wow. Leaves that heat mark. And visit a mock-up of a forensic crime lab, corpse and all, to learn the finer point of doing an autopsy. As for punishment, there is an electric chair in which 125 people died. Even a lethal injection machine, though the museum points out that it doesn't have a position on capital punishment.

And for those who escape the death penalty, there is a cell offering a different kind of escape.



MESERVE: So here we are in the morgue. I want to know a little bit more about this wound right here on this guy's shoulder. And I press a button and up here I get a little film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) examination shows a pattern that is a contact wound. It's close range due to the (INAUDIBLE) and stirring on the edge of the wound from the product.

MESERVE: So there you get a sense of it, Kyra. This guy's name is Ken. Here's the quiz. Why is he named Ken?

PHILLIPS: Oh, boy. Well, I am assuming the Ken doll.

MESERVE: You got it. Looks just like him.

PHILLIPS: Still looking good, too, wounds and all. I love it. CSI Jeanne Meserve. Thanks, Jeanne.


ROBERTS: You are watching the "Most News in the Morning." Dunkin Donuts pulls an ad because of complaints about Rachael Ray's scarf. We'll tell you why some people didn't like it.

Barack Obama says he expects to be the nominee. But Hillary Clinton still insists she is the Democrats' best bet for November. We'll talk with Clinton supporter James Carville, coming up next.

PHILLIPS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, danger zone. It's the most vulnerable part of your home and ignoring it could be devastating.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lose the roof, you lose the contents of the house. Everything is gone.


PHILLIPS: The simple fix that could help you survive a storm, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Well, Barack Obama says he'll consider a trip to Iraq, but not with John McCain. McCain offered to go with Obama who hasn't been in Iraq in more than two years. Earlier, I spoke to the former Republican presidential candidate and McCain supporter Rudy Giuliani about whether the two candidates should go together.


RUDY GIULIANI, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: It would be an interesting thing to do if they went together. It would show possibly trying to figure out a position here that's in the best interest of the United States, the best interest of the troops. Most important thing is, you know, your position on it and, also, are you going with an open mind?


PHILLIPS: Obama says that if he goes, it will be the talk to commanders not to score political points.

ROBERTS: 25 minutes after the hour. This weekend's national party meeting on the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegations could be Hillary Clinton's last best hope to win the Democratic nomination.

Her message to superdelegates remains the same that she would do better than Barack Obama against John McCain in November. Joining us from Washington, one of Hillary Clinton's staunchest supporters, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville.

James, good to see you this morning.

You've been talking to this --

JAMES CARVILLE, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Good morning, John. I feel like I've been sitting in that electric chair.

ROBERTS: Well, we don't have that one wired the last time I checked. That's not old sparky, that's just a typical chair.

Hey, listen, I am sure that you have been talking to members of the DNC rules committee. What do you expect them to do this weekend in terms of Florida and Michigan?

CARVILLE: Well, what they should do is award the delegates to Senator Clinton because after all, we offered to pay for a primary, where people could vote. And if you look at the polls, we're paying a price for not having that primary. By every poll that I've seen Senator Clinton is ahead of Senator McCain.

ROBERTS: So that's what you think they should do. What do you think they will do?

CARVILLE: Democratic committees, they'll probably split the difference somewhere. Just would be my guess. But I think, I think we're running the risk of taking Florida out of play here. ROBERTS: The Clinton campaign and yourself and Terry McAuliffe, people like that have been insistent that these Democrats need to be seated, that voters were disenfranchised because of the penalties levied by the Democratic National Committee. But the blogs are all abuzz in the last 24 hours about an excerpt from Terry McAuliffe's book that was out last year called "What a Party," in which he recounts an episode in 2004 -- when he was a DNC chairman.

Carl Levin of Michigan wanted to move Michigan's primary out of the regular schedule. And McAuliffe said you do that, I'm going to take away your delegates. Carl Levin according to Terry McAuliffe in this book insisted that he wouldn't take away the delegates. And this is what Terry said in response.

"Carl, take it to the bank. They will not get a credential. The closest they'll get to Boston will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules. If you want to call my bluff, Carl, you go ahead and do it."

So four years ago, James, he's saying you go out of the process, you are not going to go to Boston, which is where the Democratic convention was. Now he's saying, oh, we've got to get those delegates seated.

CARVILLE: Let me give you something to blog. I offered on Wolf Blitzer's, David (INAUDIBLE) to split the cost of the Michigan primary, to have a primary, not counting the one that they had before. They refused that. Then myself, Governor Rendell and Governor Corzine raised $30 million to pay for a primary. Then Obama people said, no, we don't want to have one.

The difference here is the moral high ground is being occupied by the Clinton campaign because we offered to have a rerun and offered to pay for said rerun. So you come up and you say, well, we're not going to count these. That's fine. That's against the rules. Let's have another one. No, we don't want to have another one. We want to exclude Michigan and Florida from this process. That's not very smart politically. That's not the right thing.

There was a way to do this within the rules. And we even offered to pay for it. That's the difference. And that's the thing that's missing from here.

ROBERTS: Senator Clinton issued a letter to the superdelegates in the last day in which she says, quote, "When the primaries are finished, I expect to lead in the popular vote and in delegates earned through the primaries." That's her argument to say side with me. She says, "Lead in delegates earned through the primaries, which would leave out delegates that were earned in the caucuses because she still remains about 200 behind Barack Obama. So how valid is that argument?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, she will probably win, as I understand it, if you even give caucus estimates. If you use caucus estimates, she's probably going to win the popular vote. Now, you ask yourself, what has -- based on elected delegates, no one is going to get the number. What is greater moral authority within the Democratic Party, voters or delegates? I don't know.

But come November, I'd rather have voters than delegates. Maybe, I'm old-fashioned but I think they ought to be more determine here. But yes, she will probably. We have to wait to see it because -- but she'll probably win the popular vote, including caucus estimates.

ROBERTS: All right. James Carville for us this morning. James, great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it. You bet.

ROBERTS: All right. And CNN's coverage of decision day begins Saturday morning 9:00 Eastern. We're going to have full coverage of that crucial meeting that will decide the fate of the primary voters in Florida and Michigan. That will be on CNN and

PHILLIPS: Just about 30 minutes after the hour. Right now, here are some of the top stories that we're following. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell losing faith in the Hillary Clinton campaign. He now says it's very unlikely she will win the Democratic nomination.

And in China, officials there rehearsing a massive evacuation plan. More than one million people could be forced to move if a dam formed by this month's earthquake breaks. The official death toll from the quake has now risen to 68,500.

Actress Sharon Stone apologizing to China today. She implied that China's earthquake was a result of bad karma over its treatment of Tibet. Chinese moviegoers are planning to boycott her films now.

And breaking just a few minutes ago, the man who wrote the tell- all shocker that blasted the Bush administration is speaking out for the first time and fighting off a barrage from his former colleagues. In the book "What Happened," former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says that the administration relied on propaganda to sell the war in Iraq. And was at a state of denial when Katrina hit. He told NBC's "Today" show that he hopes Washington can move on from this in a positive way.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, because I believe it's important to look back and reflect on my experience and talk to people about what I learned and what we can learn from it. To hopefully change Washington for the better. The larger message has kind of been lost in the mix of some of the initial reaction to the book. And I think it's important to go to that larger message. My hope is that by writing this book and sharing openly and honestly my -- what I lived and what I learned during my time at the White House, that in some small way it might help move us beyond the destructive partisan warfare of the past 15 years.


PHILLIPS: And that book comes out on Monday. But it's already number one on Amazon. ROBERTS: News just in on the state of the economy. Our Ali Velshi at the business update desk with that. Good morning, Ali. What's up?

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, John. We just have the first revision of the gross domestic product. The GDP. That's the broadest measure of the economy. The economy grew by 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2008. That's the first three months of 2008. That is higher than the initial estimate, which was 0.6 percent, which means that things are, at least by the government's measure, better than they were. Better than we thought they were and better than they were at the end of 2007.

Remember, we sometimes apply the measure of negative growth when we're thinking about whether we're in a recession. This is the other direction. It's not much but 0.9 percent. And that's an improvement over the first number we got a month ago which measured the economy in the first quarter. So there's been an improvement. It's typical to see a revision one month after first number and we get the final number in another month. It is common for these to be revised. It's interesting that it is revised upwards. So, for those people following the broadest measure of the economy, this is positive news. It looks a little stronger than we thought it was a month ago.

ROBERTS: So, what does it say Ali, about this idea that we're in a recession.

VELSHI: Well, if you were using textbook definitions of recession, it's not just economic growth. It's not just GDP but this is definitely one of the broad measures of the economy. It's the measure of everything that was built, produced and sold by Americans. This is a positive sign. No question that this works against the recession argument.

ROBERTS: All right. Ali Velshi for us this morning. Ali, thanks. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Breaking weather news. This morning a tropical depression brewing right now in the eastern Pacific just off the coast of Costa Rica. It's expected to strengthen into a tropical storm and actually make landfall along the coast of Nicaragua late this afternoon. The Atlantic hurricane season actually begins on Sunday. The last two seasons have been relatively quiet in the U.S. and a new survey actually says that people are becoming complacent now about hurricane readiness. John Zarrella is live in Miami with more on this this morning. And John knows because he lives in Florida. You must always be prepared for the worst, correct?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kyra. And you know it is right on cue. You're mentioning that tropical system. And we're actually down at the National Hurricane Center and there on the monitor you can see in the Pacific there what might become tropical storm "Alma" later this morning here. But there's a new survey out. And it absolutely shows that for whatever reason, people are again becoming complacent, even though it's been less than three years since the devastating season that produced Katrina and Rita and Wilma and this new survey that is out has some very disturbing findings.


ZARRELLA: (voice-over): Neil Rubin is getting a new garage door installed at his home.

NEIL RUBIN, HOMEOWNER: This one is supposed to withstand, I think, 150 miles an hour in that area which is a little bit ahead. And since I have the accordion shutters why have a weak spot on your house?

ZARRELLA: And the garage door is considered the weakest spot in a home.

JACK TROUT, ELECTRONIC DOOR LIFT: You lose the garage, you lose the roof, you lose the contents of the house. Everything is gone.

ZARRELLA: But a new Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the National Hurricane Survival Initiative found a staggering 95 percent of the 1100 adults questioned didn't know this. And 30 percent said they would not start preparing their homes until a hurricane warning is issued.

CHUCK LANZA, BROWARD CO. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: All the water is gone from the stores in 24 hours. The plywood is gone from all the larger stores. People need to make those plans early in the season.

ZARRELLA: The survey found bad habits resurfacing that existed before the devastating wake-up call season of 2005. Katrina, Rita and Wilma. An astounding 50 percent said they had no disaster plans or survival kits. Why the complacency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we've been through it so many times that, you know, most of the time it doesn't hit us.

ZARRELLA: Emergency managers say why many may not be prepared for the long aftermath, they do in most cases, enough to survive a storm.

LANZA: People still, at the last minute, usually will make the right decisions. The problem is they don't have a plan in place and they haven't bought the supplies that they needed.

ZARRELLA: In this may not surprise you. The high price of gas is compounding the under preparedness problem. That's because people aren't buying the supplies they need because they are spending so much money to fill up their gas tanks.


ZARRELLA (on-camera): A couple other frightening statistics. 85 percent of those surveyed said they had taken no steps to do anything to strengthen their homes. And 13 percent said they might or might not evacuate even if they were ordered. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: It's amazing. You know, you learn your lessons, you would think, and stay ahead of the game. John Zarrella, appreciate it.

ROBERTS: Dunkin Donuts pulls an ad featuring cooking guru Rachel Ray all because of the scarf that she was wearing. What is the problem with it? We'll explain, coming up.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING taking off. Rob heads for the heavens.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're at 2,000 feet. Not even halfway there.

PHILLIPS: He's not breaking the sound barrier or any record. But he's definitely going for the ride of his life. A first-hand look at what it's like to free-fall ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Dunkin Donuts stopped running this ad because with celebrity chef Rachel Ray. This ad. This ad. There we go. Because of the scarf that she was wearing. Some said it looks like a traditional Palestinian scarf called a kaffiyeh. Lola Ogunnaike joins us. What's the controversy all about. Those are being sold everywhere in New York these days.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're all over the streets. They've become a really popular fashion statement. They were actually really huge last year in 2007. They are actually kind of out of style right now, but apparently some conservative bloggers and columnists are taking Rachael Ray to task for wearing this scarf they believe it is representative of her being a Muslim sympathizer or terrorism sympathizer. And they have a problem with it.

ROBERTS: Right. So Dunkin Donuts yanked her from these ads?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, Dunkin Donuts essentially said, well look, if this scarf is going to cause this much controversy, we don't want to be associated with it. It's actually not a kaffiyeh, it's a paisley printed scarf but even the suggestion has gotten people very upset.

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, it looks very similar from a distance. I know because I bought one as a souvenir once when in Jordan. But what has been the response from Dunkin Donuts and Rachael Ray on all of this?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, Dunkin Donuts and Rachel Ray had this to say - "in a recent on-line ad Rachel Ray is wearing a black and white scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely, no symbolism was intended, however, as of this past weekend, we are no longer using the online ad because of the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."

So they're like please pay attention to our cooladas and not the scarf. ROBERTS: So do they expect to reinstate her if they take another photograph or --

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, absolutely.

Well, I spoke with the spokesperson yesterday and he said they have no intentions of, you know, ending the relationship with Rachael Ray over a scarf. They think it's pretty -- it's a scarf and they understand why some people are upset about it and that's why they chose to just remove it off of their site.

ROBERTS: All right. Lola Ogunnaike for us this morning. Lola, thanks very much. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, John. Well, pushing the envelope on same-sex marriage. See how Ellen Degeneres and others are talking up a pretty controversial political issue.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, the ride of his life. Suited up and strapped in. Rob takes the plunge. Life in free-fall ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



PHILLIPS: Ripped right from the headlines. Rob Marciano wanted to see what it was like to free-fall at more than 100 miles an hour. So, he did. He didn't quite make it to the edge of space though. That was a little higher up. But he's here to tell us all about the experience. Of course, what triggered this, Michel Fournier -


PHILLIPS: Who unfortunately lost his ride.

MARCIANO: His balloon. Yes, but you know, he's going to be back at it hopefully in August but just as a meteorologist, it's just fascinating to me to think about flying through the stratosphere, let alone the troposphere, which is where I was. Much, much lower, about a tenth of the height of which the French skydiver was supposed to go. Either way whether you're jumping out of a balloon or a plane, it's quite a ride down.


MARCIANO (voice-over): With all this excitement about that French skydiver that wants to jump from 130,000 feet, kind of got me fired up to jump myself. Much lower, about 14,000. We're here at Free Falls Adventures in New Jersey. I'm going to give it a go. I get geared up with safety instructor ().

MARCIANO: I'm a little nervous. All right. Is there at all a chance for this to come loose from you? INSTRUCTOR: No.

MARCIANO: Never happened?

INSTRUCTOR: Never happened.

MARCIANO: Not once?

Range and I will be hooked together for the jump, in tandem. A way for beginners to skydive.

MARCIANO: Tight fit. All in the name of safety.

There's a lot to remember when you're falling at 120 miles an hour. Like when to pull the rip cord.

INSTRUCTOR: The altitude that you pull is 5,000 feet.

MARCIANO: Pulling the cord later could make a skydiver land too fast and lose control of his chute.

If you jump from 130,000 feet you need a pressurized space suit, helmet, oxygen, the whole nine yards. From 14,000 feet, an altimeter, some goggles, not even a helmet. For me, not even a parachute. And I don't know what I'm doing. That' what Range is for?

You know what you are doing?


MARCIANO: You got the chute?

INSTRUCTOR: I got the chute.

MARCIANO: Let's do this. Our group climbed to nearly 15,000 feet. I was getting lightheaded and antsy. Others -- not so nervous.

These things in my stomach, are they supposed to be there?

My turn to jump.

All right. Let's give this gravity thing a try.

Let's do it. Gravity pulls me quickly downward while the plane's motion forced me sideways. Soon our velocity is locked in. All I hear and feel is the wind.

Oh, man, that was crazy. That was fantastic.

It was like being on a roller coaster ride. Your heart pounding. You're losing your breath. A little chilly. It's just unbelievable.


MARCIANO: So, the observation -- the weather observation at that level is about 600 millibars. We're usually down to about 1000. 40 degrees was about the temperature, maybe a little bit chillier.

PHILLIPS: The meteorological side to the jump.

MARCIANO: All those senses go out the window when your adrenaline takes over. Range Ludd, on my back. The guy shooting --

PHILLIPS: Right. He went out backwards just before you. How do you like that ride?

MARCIANO: His name - well, he's a pro for sure. His name, no joke is Dave Pancake. But he's never had a problem.

PHILLIPS: Thank goodness that didn't jinx you. We're glad you're back. It looks like fun.

MARCIANO: It was fun. Best of luck to Mr. Fournier in August. Hopefully, he gets up.

PHILLIPS: A little higher up.


PHILLIPS: He'll have the space suit. You just had the nice t- shirt.

MARCIANO: Definitely more of a manly man than I am.

PHILLIPS: All right. John.

ROBERTS: I'm sure Dave Pancake has not lived up to his name. It was not yesterday anyways.

46 minutes after the hour. CNN NEWSROOM just 14 minutes away now. Heidi Collins at the CNN Center with a look at what lies ahead this morning. Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The stories they let that Marciano do. Boy, there's jut no end, huh?

ROBERTS: He has more fun than people should legally be allowed to.

COLLINS: I know. It's interesting. What's he saying?

PHILLIPS: Hard news is overrated.

ROBERTS: He says hard news is overrated.

COLLINS: That's great. All right. Hey there to you, John as well. Coming up at 9:00 in the NEWSROOM, delegate fight. Democratic Party lawyers and Hillary Clinton a setback. They are recommending just half of Florida and Michigan's delegates to get seats at the convention. We'll talk about that. Then issue number one. New numbers on the health of the economy just out. We'll look at first quarter growth. And gas hits a new record high. So why are we showing you these prices? Well, we'll remember the not so long ago days of cheap gas. Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, the bull's-eye for severe weather today. We'll track it all in the NEWSROOM coming up in just a little while. John.

ROBERTS: Heidi, looking forward to it. Thanks very much,.

We've got this just in to AMERICAN MORNING. CNN has learned that the U.S. Army will report today that the suicide rate for troops in 2007 was the highest in two decades. Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon right now with more on this. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Very sad news to report. Later today the army will tell the press corps here that in 2007, 115 troops committed suicide in the U.S. Army. That is a record level for the last two decades. They've been tracking these numbers very closely. They did expect 2007, frankly, to be the worst year ever for troops committing suicide in the army. About one quarter of them are tragically committing suicide while they're on deployment, but most of them also tragically, are committing suicide once they return to their home bases. The army has put a lot of suicide prevention programs in place, but so far, 2007 wrapping up to be a very terrible year for the U.S. Army, John.

ROBERTS: When we look at these suicide prevention programs that you mentioned that they have in place, what is the intervention that they are trying to do here? What are the triggers for these suicides, does the Pentagon think?

STARR: Well, you know, they've looked a lot at that. I mean, let's be very clear. As tragic as all of this is, one of the issues in the Army is the access to weapons, to firearms, that these young people have. Most of them are in fact, young men with access to firearms and that's why they believe some of these numbers are looking very bad.

ROBERTS: All right. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thank you.

PHILLIPS: Just one case of sunburn when you're a child doubles your risk of skin cancer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your medical questions straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: It is Thursday, which means that it's time to dive into Dr. Sanjay Gupta's mail bag to answer your medical questions.

PHILLIPS: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with us now.

ROBERTS: And Sanjay, the first question comes to us via this new facility that we've got on sent into us a video question. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does sunburn increase your risk of getting skin cancer?

ROBERTS: What do you say, doc?

GUPTA: Well, great, great question, I was just looking at the woman who was asking that question, probably in her early 20s. The reason I pointed that out is because sunburns are always going to be a problem at any age, particularly problematic in children. In fact, there's a lot of data out there that shows getting just one sunburn, a blistering sunburn as a child actually doubles your risk of melanoma. That's something to really keep in mind there. There are certain things to watch out for that as you might have imagine that, you know, you can look for in your skin.

For example, a recurring growth or a sore, for example, that just doesn't seem to be healing on time. We talk about mole changes a lot. There are certain characteristics of moles. If they are changing, that's something that should warrant a trip to the doctor. And just darkening spots on skin as well. If you are someone who spends a lot of time in the sun and you worry about this, and you notice any of these changes, certainly get it checked out. But just one sunburn again as a child before the age of 18 can really, really increase your chances.

PHILLIPS: This question coming now from Bob and Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Here's the question. If - if or is the protein in a protein shake the same quality as protein present in meat or fish?

GUPTA: Well, Bob, you know, this may surprise a lot of people, but not all protein is created equal. In fact, protein from animal sources is considered the highest quality. So, you know, milk, egg whites, whey protein. Those are all going to be considered higher protein sort of -- higher quality protein sources. Now a couple of things to sort of keep in mind. If you are, you kno,w having a protein supplement or a shake or something, turn it over and look at the ingredients. If protein is not listed as the first ingredient, that means you are getting a lot of other stuff in there that may not be exactly what you want.

Also, here's a quick little math you can do. Protein typically has about four calories per gram. So, if they say this is 20 grams of protein it should be 80 calories. If it is more than 80 calories, again, that means you are getting a lot of other stuff. As always, Bob, try to eat a balanced diet. But if you are trying to get the highest quality protein, those are some tips.

ROBERTS: Final question of the morning, Sanjay, comes to us from Carly in Raleigh, North Carolina. She writes "I'm a woman in my mid 30s. Are there certain foods that I should be consuming as I age?" Personally, I recommend bacon. Lots of bacon, but that may fly in the face of what you say.

PHILLIPS: And then he's got a stomach ache an hour in.

GUPTA: That's the staple of the AMERICAN MORNING anchors as far as I can tell.

You know, it's interesting. We were just talking about protein. Protein is very important in your 30s. But I think the question you are asking is an important one because your bodies do change as you might imagine. In your 40s if you have been reasonably good about getting greens into your diet every week, get better about it. You really need three to four servings a week. Of a healthy serving of greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, something like that.

And as you get into your 50s or 60s, think about licopenes. These are things that are found in tomatoes. They're really going to help with your cardiovascular health, your heart health. You know, remember heart disease is the biggest killer of men in this country but also the biggest killer of women. So, a lot of the same, basic rules apply here, Carly.

ROBERTS: I was only kidding about the bacon, by the way. Sanjay, thanks.

PHILLIPS: No, you weren't.

GUPTA: You got it.

PHILLIPS: You can send your questions to Dr. Sanjay Gupta at or just send us your video questions to our i-report Web site.

ROBERTS: That's and click on the link to ask Dr. Gupta.

PHILLIPS: In California, same-sex couples like Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi begin exchanging vows next month. And Jeanne Moos has some I dos and don'ts coming up next.


ROBERTS: Ellen Degeneres joked with John McCain about having him walk her down the aisle for her same-sex marriage.

PHILLIPS: Same-sex marriage is a controversial political issue. And not everyone's comfort zone. CNN's Jeanne Moos tells us more.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In case you couldn't tell from all the hand holding and cozy body language --


MOOS: But the body language is slightly more awkward when Ellen Degeneres has not so gay marriage friendly guests on her show. And ever since this announcement -

DEGENERES: I am announcing I am getting married.

MOOS: With her spouse-to-be, Portia De Rossi clapping in the audience. Ever since Ellen has been tweaking certain guests about her upcoming wedding. Most recently, Laura Bush and her just married daughter Jenna, married at the Bush ranch.

DEGENERES: So the ranch was a great place to get married. It looked like nobody could fly over and get pictures or bother you, really.

JENNA BUSH, PRES. BUSH'S DAUGHTER: No. It was really nice.

DEGENERES: So, can we borrow it for our wedding?


DEGENERES: OK. Great. Appreciate it.

MOOS: Note Laura Bush nodding silently. Just the week before, John McCain's turn.

DEGENERES: When we come back, I'll be discussing with you California overturning the ban on gay marriage. And --



MOOS: When they did return --

DEGENERES: We are all the same people. All of us. You are no different than I am. Our love is the same.

MOOS: But same-sex marriage was too much for Senator McCain. Though he did say --

MCCAIN: I, along with many, many others, wish you every happiness.

DEGENERES: Thank you. So you'll walk me down the aisle? Is that what you said?

MOOS: And speaking of saying don't to gays saying I do, check out this Republican congressional candidate's attack ad that's causing laughing attacks.

In San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi is throwing a party for Kay Barnes, a ritzy California fundraiser celebrating Barnes' San Francisco style values. Yes to same-sex marriage. Yes to abortion. Yes to -

MOOS: All that gay dancing earned this Missouri congressional ad the title worst campaign ad of the year from the liberal new republic. Many couldn't believe it was a real ad saying it seemed more like a "Saturday Night Live" spoof.


MOOS: Like the village people on a bad hair day. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, to same-sex marriage, Yes, too abortion.

MOOS: Yes, to mullets from the '70s. The attack ad provoked a counterattack ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sam Graves negative campaign. It's sad.

MOOS: Or at least cheesy.

Nothing cheesy about the Ellen-Portia wedding. We've taken the liberty of preparing the invitations. Ellen will be given away by the Republican candidate for President at a ceremony held on the Bush ranch unless we hear any objection.

BUSH: Sure.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've taken the liberty of preparing the invitations. Ellen will be given away by the Republican candidate for president at a ceremony held on the Bush ranch, unless we hear any objection.



MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Jeanne is always causing a little trouble, isn't she?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Try to stir it up.

PHILLIPS: Final check of this morning's "Quick Vote" question. Who has more credibility -- Scott McClellan or the White House? 91 percent of you said McClellan, 9 percent believe the White House.

Thanks for voting.

ROBERTS: "CNN NEWSROOM" with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins right now.