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American Morning

First U.S. Death From Swine Flu Confirmed in Texas; Air Force One Photo-Op Disaster: How Much Did it Cost and Who's Going to Pay?; Former NYC Mayor Giuliani Rates Obama's First 100 Days; Donald Trump Evaluates Obama's Job in Office; Presidential Adviser Valerie Jarrett on President's Policies, Politics

Aired April 29, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And we're coming up on the top of the hour right now. It is Wednesday, April 29th, 7:00 a.m. here in New York. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Here's a look at the top stories on our agenda this morning that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

And breaking news to tell you about this morning. CNN confirming the first U.S. death from swine flu. A 23-month-old toddler in Texas is the victim. The acting director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser, broke the news just moments ago here on AMERICAN MORNING. You'll hear what he had to say just ahead.

The swine flu outbreak is getting worse in Canada as well. Canadian officials upping the number of cases now to 13. All of those cases, by the way, said to be mild. Here in the U.S., the CDC confirming 64 cases.

Day 100 for President Obama, and here are the big stories related to that particular issue.

Pakistan's army says commanders have taken back a key town from Taliban militants. The soldiers dropped from helicopters as warplanes pounded militants stopping any advance on the capital of Islamabad. Pakistan under huge pressure from the U.S. to keep the Taliban's influence from growing.

Police in central California trying to determine the cause of a fatal bus crash that killed at least five people early this morning. California's highway patrol said some of those killed were ejected from the bus when it overturned on a highway overpass. Thirty-six were onboard the charter bus including 34 French tourists.

And returning to our breaking news this morning as we just mentioned, the first death from swine flu in the U.S. now confirmed in Texas where a 23-month-old baby has died from the virus. That tragic news confirmed just moments ago by the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Richard Besser, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. RICHARD BESSER, ACTING DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: I can confirm very sad news coming out of Texas that a child has died from the H1N1 virus. As a parent and a pediatrician, my heart goes out to the family.

As I've been saying for the past few days, flu is a very serious infection and each virus is unique. And so it's hard to know what we're going to be seeing. But given what we've seen in Mexico, we had expected that we would see more severe infections and we would see deaths. And we've confirmed the first death in this country in a 23- month-old child in Texas.


ROBERTS: CNN's chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live in Mexico this morning. He's in Vera Cruz, which is actually quite close to La Gloria where the patient zero was believed to live. Sanjay will talk about that in just a second.

But first of all, Sanjay, let's talk about this first American victim of the flu. A tragic situation, this 23-month-old toddler. Much more, though, in line with the typical profile of a flu victim than we've seen so far.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very sad, John, no question. I just read that as well and couldn't help but think of my own children, a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 5- week-old. It is very much in line with the seasonal flu sort of profile that we hear about, which often affects and has the worst ramifications in the elderly and in the young.

Here in Mexico, as we've been talking about, it's been different. The people who have really died as a result of this have been more in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. And that was a red flag for public health officials here because it seemed like this virus was behaving very differently than seasonal flu.

This is just new information coming in and we don't know if the virus is somehow different. There's a little variant of it in the United States versus Mexico and that's why the death rates have been different, where now maybe the demographics of who's most susceptible to this may be different as well. That they're going to be evaluating this all along, John, but very, very sad news.

ROBERTS: So you have one death in the United States. Should we logically expect more, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there are lessons being learned here in Mexico. We have an idea of how this is behaving to some extent. Based on everything that I'm seeing here, based on talking to the health minister, the doctors here who are treating patients, I would have to say yes.

I mean, the swine flu does appear to be pretty virulent at least in certain segments of the population. Again, there seems to be some inconsistencies between Mexico and the United States. But my guess is probably yes, John.

ROBERTS: And now, you've also managed to track down the person who's believed to be patient zero, the very first person who was infected with this new variant of swine flu, a 5-year-old boy. What have you learned about him? And what might investigators learn about the spread of this flu by talking to him?

GUPTA: Exactly. Well, we know that he got sick in March. He got sick very early. And when he was first tested, they didn't even know that swine flu existed. So there was no swine flu to confirm as positive.

A few weeks later when people started talking about swine flu and it was diagnosed, they went back and looked at his blood and found in fact he had it. So that's why they think he is patient zero.

What we can learn from him is how he got it. Where it did come from and trying to trace the origins of the beginning of the outbreak. If you can find that, you might get some clues on how best to tackle it. You also want to figure out is there human-to-human contact that is sustained in this particular community.

As far as we can tell, he's the only one who's confirmed. But as you know, John, there's a lot of people who suspected cases of swine flu who subsequently are confirmed. That may happen.

There's about 60 percent of the residents in this particular small town did get sick in that time frame. So, you know, that's something going on here.

ROBERTS: All right. Sanjay Gupta live for us this morning, Vera Cruz, Mexico. Sanjay thanks. We'll check back with you in just a little while.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: There are also some new developments this morning in the case of the flying photo-op that terrified New Yorkers. President Obama said to be furious about Monday's flight.

And here's a look at the video of the flyover. It was captured on a cell phone. You can hear panicked New Yorkers running. Some of them screaming and pointing.

It turns out that this photo-op also ended up being pretty expensive. The cost of the mission, a hefty $328,000, all of that to take a picture of a plane.

We're hearing that the dramatic 911 tapes as well are coming out for the first time. This morning, we're learning the FAA knew that this flyover might cause panic.

Our Alina Cho joins us live now. So, just yesterday we're calling this the perfect storm of stupidity. If they knew that people might freak out, why didn't they alert the public?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, that's a $64,000 question.

You know, CNN has obtained an FAA memo that says the federal government knew the flyover might set off fears of a terrorist attack but went ahead with it anyway, and demanded total secrecy from the New York Police Department, the Secret Service, and the FBI. The White House has since ordered an inquiry.

Also, you just mentioned, we are getting in 911 tapes of the incident showing just how frantic and terrifying this was for New Yorkers. One caller even compared the now infamous photo-op to 9/11.


CALLER: Oh, my God.

DISPATCHER: What is the problem? You've got to tell me. What is going on, sir?

CALLER: There's a (INAUDIBLE) falling an aircraft, a big aircraft kind of like the 9/11.

DISPATCHER: The building is falling down? On Montgomery and where?

CALLER: Between Montgomery and Grand Street, 101 Hudson.

DISPATCHER: 101 Hudson?

CALLER: Everybody is running. People are crying and panicking.


CHO: President Obama said to be furious about this. He commented for the first time on camera saying the flyover was a huge mistake.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a mistake as was stated. It was something we found out about along with all of you and it will not happen again.


CHO: Now White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not rule out firing the man ultimately responsible for signing off on this. That would be White House Military Director Louis Caldera. Gibbs added, however, that the president will wait until that review is conducted to make a final decision on that.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain outraged by the incident saying he was "profoundly disturbed." He even sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and said the recent apology of White House Military Office Director Caldera and his assumption of responsibility rings hollow. The supposed admission represents a fundamentally unsound exercise in military judgment and may have constituted an inappropriate use of Department of Defense resources.

A reminder, the flight cost nearly $329,000 in taxpayer money. And imagine this -- an Air Force source told CNN on Tuesday, there was actually another planned photo-op over various Washington monuments, planned for next week, Kiran. That shoot, not surprisingly, has been cancelled.

CHETRY: Actually at this point, maybe it wouldn't surprise us if they didn't cancel it, but -- all right, unbelievable. And that 911 tape also very telling.

All right. Alina, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: The key with the 911 tape was he said following, not falling.

CHETRY: Right. I know, but you know, then with the building collapses, the crane collapses, I mean, a 911 dispatcher in Manhattan really has to expect anything, unfortunately.

ROBERTS: Exactly. Yes, unfortunately.

We turn now to day 100 for our commander in chief when President Obama took office. Back in January, he and his staff hit the ground running and that pathway, definitely, not a smooth one. There have been plenty of problems inside and outside the West Wing so far. So how is he handling the stress?

Our Suzanne Malveaux here now in New York with a look at all of that.

Boy, when he came to the office, it's like how much can you put on one plate?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I can't believe it's just been 100 days, really. But covering President Obama for a year on the campaign, I learned how he evolved as a candidate. He was honing his message for change, motivating new people to get involved.

Now covering him for the first 100 days, we're learning what kind of leader he's becoming by seeing how he handles crisis.


OBAMA: This is a mistake. I think I screwed up. And, you know, I take responsibility for it and we're going to make sure we fix so it doesn't happen again.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Certainly not what you'd expect from your commander in chief. But for President Obama, holding himself and his administration accountable has been a hallmark of his first 100 days.

Since taking office in January, it has been on the job crisis management training for him and his staff. Six of his top picks ran into trouble, four for not paying taxes. Historians say it was Obama's mea culpa that saved him.

ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: He's made some pretty serious mistakes particularly in cabinet appointments, but he was able very quickly to admit his mistakes.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Obama's approach in times of crisis reveals how he leads. He tapped a balance delivering bad news while calling for calm in confronting the economic meltdown and now the swine flu outbreak.

OBAMA: This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it's not a cause for alarm.

MALVEAUX: President Obama got high marks for using that calm in his first international crisis. Of all things, pirates, who took an American captain hostage.

OBAMA: I am very proud.

MALVEAUX: He laid low until after the rescue. Some see the president's cautious approach as disconcerting.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Some in Washington are asking, is he weak? And others are asking is he too meek?

MALVEAUX: Others question whether he's playing politics by not immediately being forthcoming.

OBAMA: It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.

MALVEAUX: How he speaks is a big part of his success, says body language expert TJ Walker.

TJ WALKER, AUTHOR, "SECRET TO FOOLPROOF PRESENTATIONS": He strides up there, completely calm, and not rushed, a million dollar smile on his face. And that just makes people feel more comfortable especially in these trying times.

MALVEAUX: Walker says the president's body language is appropriate unlike that of his predecessor.

WALKER: That was a strikingly horrific picture on Chancellor Merkel's face when President Bush came up to her, put his hands on her back and she looked like that.

MALVEAUX: President Obama also uses subtle gestures to express his displeasure.

WALKER: He doesn't have to stand up and say, Vice President Biden, don't say that. Simply by shaking his head, he is showing mild disapproval. Everything is in sync, so he knows when to touch his vice president. He knows when to shake hands with a foreign leader and when not to rub their back. He's consistently appropriate.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: President Obama has a lot ahead in the next 100 days. Most immediately, bailing out the auto industry, tomorrow's crisis deadline to prove it's making the kinds of changes needed to become eligible for billions, more dollars in government money. GM's deadline is a month later.

Also next week, we're going to find out the health of the banks. So certainly a lot on his plate, the next 100 days.

ROBERTS: Yes, certainly. The banks going through the stress test this week, right?


ROBERTS: Lots of information being compiled by treasury. Suzanne, good to see you this morning. Thanks.

MALVEAUX: Good to see you.

ROBERTS: And stay right where you are because we got some heavy hitters coming up on tap this hour to weigh in on President Obama's first 100 days. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, will be here. We'll also ask him what he thought of the flyover of the 747. As well, Donald Trump and senior adviser to the president, Valerie Jarrett.

All coming up in the next 40 minutes here on the Most News in the Morning.

CHETRY: And 13 minutes past the hour. Time to check the top stories this morning.

Citigroup wants permission from the Treasury Department to dole out bonuses for some employees who are now threatening to leave the company. This is according to "The Wall Street Journal". These payoffs would reportedly come in the banks' renowned energy trading unit which continually pulls in hundreds of millions in profit. A third of Citigroup will soon be owned by the U.S. government.

And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is giving a compliment to President Obama. Several reports this morning say the Iranian leader is using the president's campaign motto "yes we can" in Farsi as part of a video for upcoming elections in June.

And President Obama may have made it through his first 100 days, but he still got 1,361 to go. We're looking at the challenges ahead for the president next.


ROBERTS: Seventeen minutes now after the hour. And since inauguration day, it's been all about the president's first 100 days. But now that we're there, that just means that there's still over three years and eight months left to go. Our Jim Acosta live in Washington for us this morning. Jim, the White House initially rejected this idea of 100 days, and then it seemed to embrace it scheduling this primetime press conference. But now it seems as though other events are beginning to overtake this 100 days.


ROBERTS: So how is the White House handling it today?

ACOSTA: Well, with this press conference tonight, they're trying to stay ahead of it, trying to control the message about these first 100 days. And consider what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has called this milestone, he's called it a hallmark holiday.

John, did you get your card? I didn't get mine. And Democrats are practically asking the question, are you better off now than you were a 100 days ago? But historians say, hold on, you've got 1,361 days to go.


OBAMA: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One hundred days later, Barack Obama's America is still dusting itself off, far from remade.

OBAMA: There you go.

ACOSTA: Despite trillions of dollars in government money aimed at solving the financial crisis, the nation's unemployment rate is approaching double digits.

OBAMA: By August 31st, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

ACOSTA: Despite setting an end date for the war in Iraq and doubling down on the war in Afghanistan, there is still more violence.

LARRY SABATO, AUTHOR, "THE YEAR OF OBAMA": Barack Obama has not dispelled the very dark clouds that are hanging over the United States and the world. Really what he's provided is a rainbow. And we're all focused on the rainbow and it's a beautiful rainbow, but the dark clouds are all still there.

ACOSTA: Which is why on the big presidential tests of peace and prosperity, some historians say Mr. Obama earns an incomplete in his first 100 days.

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORY PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIV.: An incomplete is what we would expect. And I think it's a more useful way to think of the first 100 days. You can't finish at that point. You can't receive an A or an F.

ACOSTA: Presidential scholars point to Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. Big approval numbers in their 100 days, but not anymore. Then there is JFK and Clinton who stumbled early on but now get high marks from historians.

SABATO: Judging a president after just 100 days is really the equivalent of a classroom teacher giving a student a grade after three days.

ACOSTA: World leaders cheered Mr. Obama for improving America's tarnished image. But at home, presidents are often defined by how they handle the unexpected like hurricanes or a potential pandemic. That test may have come on day one. President Obama confronted an economic meltdown he's compared to the Great Depression.

ZELIZER: You know I think in many ways the president on the economy has taken a big gamble. He's betting that, you know, 100 days from now, 200 days from now, the economy is doing better. If it's not doing better, this becomes President Obama's economy.

ACOSTA: It's a good thing he's got a dog.


ACOSTA: He does have Bo.

Now while the White House -- at least some in the White House are downplaying the significance of the first 100 days, President Obama's old campaign manager is taking a different approach. He sent out an e-mail to Mr. Obama's supporters that says change is happening offering links to the personal stories of Americans who say the administration's policies are making their lives better, John. And you can go and click on all of those different faces and see exactly where people say these policies are making a difference at this point.

ROBERTS: Right. You know, people say of the first 100 days, it's like the overture to the first act of a four-act play. So still a long way to go here.

Jim Acosta this morning.

ACOSTA: Long way.

ROBERTS: Thanks very much, Jim. Good to see you this morning.

ACOSTA: You bet.


CHETRY: Well, former presidential candidate and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has strong opinions about this morning's big stories, Arlen Specter's shocking split with the party and how about that low- flying plane that panicked New Yorkers who thought it was possibly another 9/11? President Obama's performance as well during his first 100 days. Giuliani grades the president next.

Also, Donald Trump picks up where Rudy Giuliani leaves off. It's Trump's turn. We're going to see what grade he gives the president. Twenty-one minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You know, today marks the 100th day in office for President Obama and he's marking the milestone with a primetime press conference taking place tonight. And this morning, some top Republicans are also speaking out about his performance as commander in chief.

Former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani joins me now.

Good to see you this morning, Mr. Mayor.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY, NY: Good to see you. Very nice to see you.

CHETRY: Overall from a policy perspective, what is the grade you would give President Obama?

GIULIANI: Well, you know, it depends on what I was grading him for. If I was grading him for effort and for achieving his agenda, I'd have to give him a "B" or "B-plus."

If I'm grading him on policies, from my point of view that I agree with or not, I have to give him an "F" or a "D."

If I think -- I think he has very effectively achieving his agenda. That's a grade. Then I will look at the agenda. I believe he's taking the country very, very much in the wrong direction in both respects, economy and in dealing with terrorists.

CHETRY: Dealing with terrorism now, for the most part, he's gotten pretty good marks on deciding the double down, I guess you could say, on Afghanistan and trying to really get a handle on that situation. How do you feel about that?

GIULIANI: I give him an "A" for that. Doing exactly the right thing.

I give him an "A-plus" for shooting the pirates, but that was exactly the right decision. It's a presidential decision. It has to be made.

Where do I give him the "F"? I give him in the "F" in his approaches to Iran, to Venezuela, to Cuba, to -- and too many of these. There's only so much ingratiating itself to dictators and tyrants you can do and not begin to look like you're somebody that you're going to be taken advantage of.

The lesson of the 20th century is you do not gain much negotiating with the Hitlers and the Stalins and even the Khrushchevs. They're all different levels of wrongdoing. CHETRY: Right.

GIULIANI: But the reality is...

CHETRY: There were many who said that our former president didn't gain much by taking a tough stance with let's say Ahmadinejad or Chavez.

GIULIANI: Well, makes my point. He didn't take a tough stance...

CHETRY: By taking a tough stance, saying we're not going to talk to you. We're not going to engage you.

GIULIANI: Well, here's what we -- here's what we -- I'm not thinking about them in particular. I'm thinking of the reaction of Islamic terrorists, which you're not allowed to say anymore, by the way. The memo says we have to look at veterans, the pro-life people, that assemble for possibilities of terrorism. Not the Islamic terrorists. We banned the word Islamic terrorists. So I know in the White House I wouldn't be able to say this but I'm on television now.

Islamic terrorists are not the people that are really going to be influenced all that much by negotiating. Actually the one influence you have by offering or negotiate with them, they would then tend to do more to take advantage of you, to try to drag you into those negotiations because that's how they make their point.

CHETRY: And I got to get to the plane part before we miss this one. I mean, you know how terrified people were when this happened?

GIULIANI: Oh, gosh. I shouldn't even be laughing.

CHETRY: It was a photo op. It was a photo op for the Department of Defense.

GIULIANI: It's so pathetic.

CHETRY: If you were mayor, would you have known about this?

GIULIANI: I should have known about it. This is not Mayor Bloomberg's fault.

CHETRY: But someone in his office knew.

GIULIANI: If someone in his office knew, I would not want to be that someone in his office. I know Mike. That person is going to be held accountable. But I do not understand why Air Force One is flying around with the president's plane flying on a lark. The first explanation was this was some kind of security thing. The first instinct was to lie and to cover up. Then they said it was out doing publicity shots.

CHETRY: Right.

GIULIANI: Imagine if Jeff Immelt or -- I hate to pick on poor Jeff, but any of the top CEOs had one of their corporate jets strafing buildings in New York and said I didn't know about it. What would you say about that?

CHETRY: Well, now you get the director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera. Some are saying he should be fired. What do you think?

GIULIANI: It's up to the president. You should take very stern action. He should have been notified. He should have been notified when his plane -- let's call it now, we have this whole thing going on with private planes -- his most expensive private plane in the United States, is being taken on a mission to take photographs of which there are thousands and thousands in the archives. I bet they can even get some from CNN if they wanted those photographs.

CHETRY: And the fear for the poor people down in Lower Manhattan?

GIULIANI: The fear -- the lack of concern and a lack of understanding for September 11, I don't want to take any deeper than that because it was a mistake and a big one. I think it goes more to management than anything else. But I also wonder if they really understand (INAUDIBLE) if they -- I don't think you would say things like let's not use the word terrorism. I don't think you would embrace these people the way you do if you had a real understanding of September 11?

CHETRY: Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and former presidential candidate, thanks for your time this morning.

GIULIANI: Thank you.

CHETRY: Nice talking to you.

ROBERTS: On report card day, who is better to rate the president's job performance than Donald Trump? See what grade Trump is handing out. That's coming up next.

And how the deadly virus is affecting tourism and the travel industry. It's not just Mexico that the swine flu is affecting. We'll tell you who else is in the cross hairs here.

It's 29 minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Thirty minutes past the hour. A look at the top stories that we're breaking down for you this morning.

Arlen Specter in a break from the Republican Party after conceding that his chances of winning Pennsylvania's GOP primary next year were bleak. The Senate republican decided to become a democrat. He said he based the decision on principles, though, not politics.

Well, calling it a big win for America's families, the FCC now has new authority to clamp down on profanity on broadcast TV. The Supreme Court ruled against the TV network saying that even a single profane word, like what singer Bono said at the 2003 Golden Globes when he uttered the phrase, "really, really, really f-ing brilliant," is indecent and can be sanctioned.

Oil profits down? Shell oil companies says that the companies net profits are down 62 percent in the first quarter. Shell is following an oil industry trend reporting sharply lower first quarter profit due to lower crude prices while outperforming analysts' forecasts.

ROBERTS: President Obama woke up this morning with 100 days of experience as commander in chief under his belt, and we're getting some of the nation's top minds to rate his performance so far.

Donald Trump, a man with executive experience of his own joins us now. He's also got a new book out called "Think Like a Champion."

Donald, it's good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being with us.


ROBERTS: So you talked about President Obama right after the election in your new book. You said, "Barack will need to be a great president because we're in serious trouble as a country. It hasn't been this way since 1929. So he doesn't have much of a choice. He will simply have to be great."

Is he living up to the challenge so far?

TRUMP: Well I think he is. He's working very, very hard on many, many fronts. It would be nice if he could focus on one, but he wasn't really given that option.

And the option that he's been given is we have problems with the world. The world no longer respects us like they did even 10 or 15 years ago. And I think he's building those bridges. He's building them back.

And certainly the economy is probably the number one problem. Then you have terrorism. You have a lot of different fronts. And, you know, to a large extent, he inherited a real mess.

ROBERTS: Yes, there's another quote in your book that I wanted to pull here that could be applied to that situation of, you know, people saying, did he bite off more than he could chew? You write, "You need to focus on your goals, not your problems. If people waited for everything to be perfect before attempting anything, the world would be in a sorry state."

So when you look at that idea, does he have too many balls in the air as some people have suggested?

TRUMP: Well, you know, sadly, it's become a world of specialization. Because the world is very complex in individual subjects whether it's an electric car, whether it's - or whatever it may be. It's all very, very specific and detailed stuff as opposed to the way it used to be. And he really doesn't have a choice.

I mean, he's got so many different fronts. He's the president. He has to watch health care. He has to watch - I mean, when you look at what's going on with the pirates. I mean this - the level of problems that the world has today are - they seem unprecedented but I'm sure they're not. I mean, over the hundreds of years and thousands of years, there have been plenty of problems. But certainly we're not at a great stage right now.

ROBERTS: So, we're asking all of the folks we have on this morning including you, Donald, to grade the president.

If you were to hand out an overall report card, what grade would you give him?

TRUMP: Well, it's very, very early, but I'd give him at least a "B-plus."

ROBERTS: At least a "B-plus." All right.

And one other question before you go. The last time we had you on, we were talking about the Trump Resort Baja that you lent your name to. Construction stopped, a lot of people lost a whole lot of money. You told us at that time you weren't happy about it. You were going to look into it.

I've since learned - I believe you were suing the developers for some $70 million?

TRUMP: Yes, right. I just sued the developers. Because, as you know, I was not the developer. They licensed the name Trump, and they obviously failed. And I sued the developers and I'm looking to get a lot of money and I'm looking to help a lot of people.

ROBERTS: All right. So if you'll get some of that money, you'll help the folks who lost money?

TRUMP: I will indeed.

ROBERTS: Great. Donald Trump, it's good to talk to you as always. Thanks for joining us this morning.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: All right. Talk to you again soon.

CHETRY: Time now to take a look at stories new this morning.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, the acting director of the CDC confirming the first U.S. death due to swine flu; a 23-month-old child in Texas.

The swine flu outbreak is also spreading overseas. Health officials in Germany confirming the first three cases of that virus in that country.

Raging flood waters forcing high-water rescues across the Houston area this morning. Homes are still underwater, entire roads washed out. Many motorists became stranded after trying to drive through several feet of water.

Also, the latest CNN poll showing the president is more popular than his policies. So what will that mean pushing ahead? We're talking to Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama and asking her to grade the president on his 100 days.

It's 35 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Thirty- eight minutes past the hour. It's time to fast forward through the stories that will be making news here on CNN and later today.

At the top of the hour, expecting a statement from the White House. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by the newest democrat on Capitol Hill. That's former Republican Senator Arlen Specter. Specter, of course, announced he's switching parties just yesterday.

At 8:30 Eastern this morning, we're expecting the first quarter GDP to be released. CNN Money Team standing by to break the numbers down for us. Investors hoping to see the economy shrinking at a slower pace. That has Dow futures up this morning -- John.

ROBERTS: From pirates to the swine flu to the economy to the Middle East, the president has had a lot thrown at him during his first 100 days in office. So how do you stick to campaign promises while getting slammed with crisis after unexpected crisis?

Joining us now from the White House is Valerie Jarrett. She is the senior advisor to the president.

And Miss Jarrett, it's good to talk to you this morning. You know, we've got new polling out this morning that shows an interesting trend here. The president appears to be more personally popular than his policies.

The latest poll shows that 75 percent of respondents think that the president has got the right personal qualities. That's up from 66 percent in October. But "agrees with me on the issues," 57 percent, down from 60 percent.

So he - more personally popular than his policies. Is that a recipe for long-term success?

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you know what - first of all, good morning, John.

And secondly, I would say we really don't pay a lot of attention to the polls whether he's up or he's down. What the president does is he stays in touch with the American people. He's engaged with them. He's listening to their issues and their challenges. And he works each and every day to deliver what they care about.

They're very clear about what they care about. They care about the economy. They care about public education. They care about our health care crisis. They care about reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

And if you look at his budget, that's what's reflected in his budget, the priorities of the American people. So polls up and down, that's not really what we're focusing on. We try to stay in touch with them.

ROBERTS: But if you want to be popular, and you talk about staying in touch with people, is it not better to be popular because of your policies as opposed to being popular because of your personality?

JARRETT: Look, what we have to do is deliver results. You're talking about 100 days. What I promise you is day 101, day 102, the president is going to roll up his sleeves to tackle the problems that we face. These are complicated issues. They're very challenging.

And when we start to see results, I think what we're going to see is that the American people have complete confidence in the direction that we're going. That's what happen when they voted him in.

He's been consistent since he took office in fulfilling on the promises that he committed to the American people in the course of the campaign. And that gives him, I think a strong vote of confidence.

ROBERTS: Although we did have Bill Adair from on just a little while ago and apparently he does have a few broken promises in there. So maybe not making good on absolutely everything.

Don't know if you heard, but we were talking with Donald Trump just a couple of minutes ago about how much the president has got going on.

At the same time, Susan Page and Mimi Hall write in today's "USA Today" said, "Obama has thrown a remarkable number of balls in the air, now those balls are coming down."

He's been tackling so much, you know? Inevitably, as we go forward, will some of those balls hit the ground?

JARRETT: Listen, we have - the job is to have a lot of balls up in the air and to keep them up in the air. Are we going to stumble from time to time, sure? We're not perfect.

But I think what the American people can take confidence in is that we're going to work hard each and every day to keep those balls up in the air and to move the agenda forward, that delivers for them.

When the president came in to office, he was faced with two wars, the worst economic crisis in my lifetime, certainly in many Americans' lifetime. Lots of challenges both here in the United States as well as our relationship abroad. He has a lot going on. But that's the job of the presidency. And I think he has been performing very well.

I give him an "A-plus" for effort. It's a work in progress. We're going to slug ahead each and every single day.

ROBERTS: You know, one of the other issues that we've been talking about for the last couple of days was this photo-op with one of the 747s that the president flies in. We heard through back channels that the president was outraged about this.

You know, the question we have today, Louis Caldera, the head of the White House military office, is he going to keep his job?

JARRETT: Well, you're right, the president was outraged. I was actually in the room with him when he heard about it. And you wouldn't have wanted to be there. It was an exercise in very poor judgment. The president has asked his deputy chief of staff to do a complete investigation, find out what happened and then he'll take the appropriate actions as soon as that investigation is complete.

ROBERTS: Right, if you got somebody heading up your military office who demonstrates, as you have just said, poor judgment, is that somebody who could stay in that very, very important job?

JARRETT: You know, I don't want to pre-judge the analysis that's going on right now. Let's wait and see and then we'll figure out what to do when it's over. Let's get our facts, which is what the president always does. He likes to get all of his facts first and then he'll make a decision.

ROBERTS: Valerie Jarrett, it's great to talk to you this morning. And thanks for being with us.

JARRETT: You're welcome. Good morning.

ROBERTS: All right. See you.

CHETRY: Well, the swine flu having a huge impact on the travel and tourism industry, not just in Mexico though. Christine Romans is "Minding your Business."

Also on this benchmark day for the president, we're headed live to London to check his image abroad. Is the president's honeymoon across the pond continuing?

It's 43 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: All right, we're at 46 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The number of deaths rising because of the swine flu. Now we're hearing this morning the sad news that an American baby is the first U.S. fatality. The flu scare truly has gone global and it is affecting the travel industry in a big way.

Christine Romans joins us now with the business side of the swine flu story.

A lot of people asking this morning, if you had plans to go to Mexico, would you still do it?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Twenty-two million visitors go to Mexico every year, 70 percent of them are from the United States. And this morning, many are waking up and wondering, maybe I should put that trip off?


ROMANS (voice-over): Tropical weather, beautiful beaches and affordable rates -- all great reasons to make a run for the border. Now with the outbreak of swine flu, many are rethinking a trip to Mexico.

MONTY AGARD, TRAVEL AGENT: If it's not an essential travel to Mexico, people are not going.

ROMANS: Monty Agard is a travel agent for Cook American Express Travel. His company's clients are expressing concerns about traveling not only to Mexico but basically anywhere.

AGARD: It's making everyone whose travel is necessary worried about, will London be next? Will Chicago be next? Will Paris be next? Will Russia be a problem? So it's affecting the entire travel industry, not just one location.

ROMANS: Many of Agard's clients with trips to Mexico are now switching their plans. Agard has seen a 60 percent drop in consumer travel to Mexico since the outbreak. Most major airlines are offering customers a chance to change their itineraries free of charge. And many major hotel chains are waving cancellation fees in Mexico.

ROGER DOW, U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION: I think everyone is watching Mexico.

ROMANS: Roger Dow is the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. He says even if the swine flu outbreak doesn't get worse, the damage may already be done.

DOW: It is about perception, and one of the biggest challenges you have is to end up with a pandemic versus an epidemic.

ROMANS: Late Tuesday, Air Canada canceled flights to popular tourist destinations Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. Carnival Cruise Lines issued the following statement: "We have decided to cancel all calls at Mexican ports for all current sailings and all voyages departing on Thursday, April 30th through Monday, May 4th."

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert that advises Americans to avoid any nonessential travel to Mexico. Even so, Monty Agard hopes the public will continue to put their passports to use. AGARD: You can't take the entire traveling public and say don't travel.


ROMANS: A travel agent in Houston who specialized in trips to Mexico told us, frankly, she had already bookings down some 30 percent before the flu outbreak because people were concerned about the economy. They are also concerned about security there. So it comes at a tough times for the travel industry indeed.

CHETRY: And a lot of hits for sure. Christine, thanks.

ROBERTS: Here's what we're working on for you this morning.

President Obama trying to forge a new relationship with Cuba during his first 100 days in office. The challenge that he's facing over the next 100 days.

Plus, the fury over the New York City flyover. You heard what presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said about it, the president was outraged. She was in the room to see it.

Wait until you hear what the photo-op cost you. That will make you even more angry.

It's 49 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

In the first 100 days of his presidency, Barack Obama made it clear he wants a new relationship with Cuba. And some trade and travel restrictions have already been eased. Shasta Darlington joins us now live from Havana.

And Shasta, we've seen some strides in the administration when it comes to Cuba in its first 100 days. What are some of the challenges that still lie ahead and how is Cuba responding to all of this?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, John, Barack Obama had really broken the foreign policy mold in Cuba. He started by lifting the restrictions on Cuban-Americans traveling back and forth to the island and on sending money home. And that's made him really popular among Cubans.

In fact, we went out on the street the other day and sort of did an informal poll and asked people what they thought about Obama on a scale of one to ten. And he pretty much got 10 across the board.

And even, you know, the Cuban President Raul Castro has responded with surprising candor to these overtures. He said he'd be willing to talk about everything from human rights to political prisoners as long as was in an atmosphere of mutual respect. That, of course, before his older brother Fidel Castro weighed in, saying that Obama was misinterpreting Raul's remarks. We've seen a change in attitude.

Some important changes in policy in the United States, but there's still huge obstacles ahead and Cuba would say the main one is of course the U.S. - embargo, which has been around all these years.

And Cuba routinely blamed it for most of its economic woes. On the other hand, Washington says the ball is now in Cuba's court and it's got to give some kind of a gesture and show of good faith and that releasing political prisoners would be a good way do that.

At any rate the diplomatic contacts continue in Washington so we'll have to see where that goes, John.

ROBERTS: Shasta Darlington for us this morning with an update from Havana. Shasta, thanks so much.

CHETRY: All right, we're about six minutes away from the top of hour and at the top of the hour, we're expecting a statement from the White House.

There's a live look right now where we're expect into see President Obama as well as Vice President Joe Biden. They'll be joined by the newest democrat on Capitol Hill, that's Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Specter made that stunning announcement yesterday that he's switching parties. We will carry that for you live.

Right now it's 54 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Live picture this morning of the Diplomatic Room at the White House where we're expecting in the next few minutes President Obama and Vice President Biden and newly-minted, democratic Senator Arlen Specter to appear to talk about the fact that Senator Specter is coming over to the Democratic Party after 43 years as a republican and 29 years as a republican senator. He was originally democrat. So going back to his roots again. And they'll be talking about the fact that he now makes 59 for the democrats in the Senate. Potential of 60 if Al Franken wins his contest out there in Minnesota.

Watching for that this morning.

CHETRY: Yes. All right.

Well, also new developments this morning in the case of the flying photo-op that terrified New Yorkers. President Obama said to be furious as we just heard from a senior adviser Valerie Jarrett when learning of this. This is video that was shot from a cell phone that captured the flyover.

You can hear the screams of people wondering what was going on. Some fearing it was perhaps another 9/11-like attack. It turns out the photo-op also was pretty expensive. The cost of the mission $328,000 and change. All of that to take a picture of a plane.

Our Alina Cho joins us now live.

Some call this the perfect storm of stupidity. Apparently, we're learning that more people knew about this than originally thought and still decided not tell the public.

CHO: That's right.

And John spoke with Valerie Jarrett, as you know a couple of minutes ago. And Valerie was in the room with the president when he found out about it. We'll get to that in just a second, guys.

But first, we should tell you that CNN has obtain said an FAA memo that says that the federal government knew the flyover might set off fears of a terrorist attack, but they went ahead with it anyway and demanded total secrecy from everyone from the New York Police Department to the Secret Service, even the FBI.

Now the White House has since ordered an inquiry.

Also, we're just getting in 911 tapes of the incident showing just how frantic and terrifying this was for New Yorkers. One caller even compared the now infamous photo-op to 9/11.


CALLER: Oh, my God.

DISPATCHER: What is the problem? You've got to tell me. What is going on, sir?

CALLER: There's a (INAUDIBLE) falling an aircraft, a big aircraft kind of like the 9/11.

DISPATCHER: The building is falling down? On Montgomery and where?

CALLER: Between Montgomery and Grand Street, 101 Hudson.

DISPATCHER: 101 Hudson?

CALLER: Everybody is running. People are crying and panicking.


CHO: President Obama as said to be furious about this. He found out about the flyover just as we did.

And just a couple of minutes ago, John talked to senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. Here's what she had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Well, you're right, the president was outraged. I was actually in the room with him when he heard about it. And you wouldn't have wanted to be there. It was an exercise in very poor judgment. The president has asked his deputy chief of staff to do a complete investigation, find out what happened and then he'll take the appropriate actions as soon as that investigation is complete.

ROBERTS: Right, if you got somebody heading up your military office who demonstrates, as you have just said, poor judgment, is that somebody who could stay in that very, very important job?

JARRETT: You know, I don't want to pre-judge the analysis that's going on right now. Let's wait and see and then we'll figure out what to do when it's over. Let's get our facts, which is what the president always does. He likes to get all of his facts first and then he'll make a decision.


CHO: So how exactly should the president handle this? Well, earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Kiran talked to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of course at the helm of this city during 9/11. And here's what he had to say.


GIULIANI: He should take very stern action. He should have been notified. He should have been notified. When his plane -- let's call it now -- we had this whole thing going on with private planes, his most expensive private plane in the United States. It's being taken on a mission to take photographs of which there are thousands and thousands in the archives. I bet they can even get some from CNN if they wanted those photographs.


CHO: Now White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not rule out firing the man ultimately responsible for signing off on this. That would be White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera, but they're going to wait until the end of this inquiry.

Now reminder the flight costs nearly $329,000 in taxpayer money; $35,000 in fuel alone. And imagine this, an Air Force source told CNN on Tuesday there was actually another planned photo-op over various Washington monuments. That was planned for next week. But, guys, that shoot, not surprisingly, has been canceled.

Imagine being a fly in the room, though, with Valerie Jarrett and the president when he found out about this.

You know, I love this quote. One Washington think-tank said, "Not immediately clear why this airplane needs public relations photos. It's not like they are selling rides on Air Force One."

ROBERTS: And it's only the most famous plane in the world, too.

CHO: It is.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks very much for that.