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American Morning

Times Square Bomb Scare Investigation Continues; Oil Slick Blame Game; World's Largest Airline; New Arizona Immigration Law Facing Legal Challenges; Time's "100 Most Influential" People; Comedian-in-Chief

Aired May 03, 2010 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. It is Monday, May 3rd. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks so much for joining us.

Here are the big stories we'll be telling you about coming up in the next 15 minute.

One new information this morning on the bomb scare in Times Square over the weekend. Authorities are now looking at a surveillance video that shows a man changing his shirt and nervously looking over his shoulder. We just spoke to New York's police commissioner and we'll update you on the search for a suspect this morning.

CHETRY: Water everywhere. Parts of Tennessee are soaked by more than 13 inches of rain in just two days. Our Rob Marciano told us that in some places, unofficial totals, as high as 20 inches.

State officials say it is the worst flooding they've seen since the 1970s. Fifteen people are killed after the weekend's storms blew through Tennessee as well as Mississippi. In Nashville, the Cumberland River is threatening to crest at 10 feet above flood level today.

ROBERTS: A $3 billion done deal, United and Continental are merging to create the largest airline in the world. The agreement keeps the United name but Continental CEO is going to run the company. Its new slogan is: "Let's fly together." Antitrust regulators must now approve the deal.

And, of course, the amFIX blog is up and running this morning. Join the live conversation going on right now. We want to hear from you about what's in the news this morning. Just go to and we'll be reading some of your comments throughout this hour.

CHETRY: But, first, new information on the investigation into the Times Square car bombing scare. New York City police say that they are looking for this man described as a white male in his 40s. There you see him in the highlighted circle, changing his shirt or at least taking off one layer of clothing.

I just spoke with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who said that he is not a suspect and not a person of interest, but they do want to talk to him to be able to rule him out perhaps. This happened about a block away from where that Nissan Pathfinder was packed with explosives but did not blow up.

Again, you see that man there looking back. And, anyway, again, the police said they do want to talk to him. They updated us as well on the search for the suspects right now.


CHETRY: Is this person a suspect, a person of interest?

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: No, not in any way. He would be totally innocent. This is one of the first videos that we obtained. We thought it warranted an interview. He is taking his shirt off. That was a very warm day.

But this happens just around the time that the pops start to go off inside the car. So, that's why. We just simply want to talk to him.

We have another video we will be putting out later. Today, an individual who was seen, we believe, running north on Broadway --


CHETRY: Susan Candiotti is live for us in Times Square this morning.

And a lot of people are asking, who was behind this bombing attempt? And Ray Kelly was updating us but not showing us his cards, of course, as this investigation continues. And there are still a lot of questions, of course, about whether they are getting any forensics off of the SUV itself.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But we also learned some interesting information from him. We know now that we can expect to see today that video that was taken by the Pennsylvania tourist of someone else that he says was running away north on Broadway away from where this happened. And, of course, they don't know whether that person was involved in any way. But it could be another person of interest. They want to get the video out there so the public can take a look at this person and perhaps help identify him.

The other thing that the police commissioner told you or tells us, rather, is that they have, indeed, spoken with the registered owner of the Pathfinder. And he says that he is not considered a suspect at this time.

So, they have a lot of things to look at. That's pretty clear.

CHETRY: There we see the SUV being taken away on a tarp.

Another question was whether or not they could rule out the original owner of that SUV, whether the registered owner of that Pathfinder, he again telling me that that person was not a suspect at this point as well. Do we know more though about the car bomb itself and why it malfunctioned?

CANDIOTTI: Well, of course, forensic experts will continue to work on that. But part of the reason, according to preliminary test, is that the kind of fertilizer that they had inside that vehicle simply wasn't good enough to put together a good explosion.

Plus, there apparently wasn't any kind of explosive detonator cap or something that could have acted as an accelerant when it is well-known that in trying to put together that kind of a bomb that you mix it with fuel oil, for example, and have some other factors in play in order to make that work. And apparently, those fireworks in the proximity of the fertilizer to the gas cans and propane simply wasn't enough to set it off and cause a tremendous blast.

It certainly would have created a fireball, could have blown out some windows and certainly could have caused casualties for anyone who was close by. But authorities have said that it didn't seem to have the kind of impact that would have taken down a building, for example.

CHETRY: That's certainly the good news as the investigation continues this morning. Susan Candiotti for us live in Times Square -- thank you.

ROBERTS: Also, developing this morning, a new video surfacing on the Internet apparently showing Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud alive and well, and vowing new attacks on American cities. It's dated about April 4th, that's some three months after the U.S. and Pakistan announced that Mehsud was killed in a drone attack. It was released shortly after another clip appeared on YouTube on which the group claimed responsibility for the failed bombing attempts in Times Square.

The last gunman accused of attacking Mumbai in the 2008 siege that killed 160 people was found guilty in an Indian court today. Ten men stormed the city in late November. Nine were killed. And one Pakistani suspect was captured.

He has now been found guilty of murder, attempted murder and waging war against India. The judge is expected to sentence him tomorrow to either life in prison or death.

CHETRY: Now, to the thousands of people who are trying to get to higher ground in Tennessee. Widespread flooding in that state as well as neighboring Mississippi has killed 15 people. Nashville's Cumberland River is still rising and could crest 10 feet above flood level today. Parts of the downtown and NFL Titans LP Field are directly in the flood path. Flooding caught many drivers on several roads off guard.

There you see big rigs. Plus, covered halfway up with water.

State officials call it the worst flooding that they've seen since the 1970s.

ROBERTS: Now, all of this moving eastward. But it really goes from the Gulf Coast all the way up into New England.

Rob Marciano is tracking the storm system. He's live for us this morning in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Rob, good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Good morning, Kiran.

Yes, the system is really stretching its legs, so to speak, reaching all the way up towards the northeast slicing back towards there on the Tennessee Valley. And you saw the devastating flooding there on the video. Unbelievable stuff.

And in some cases, the river gauges six, eight feet above the last historic flood that they had. So, in many areas, they have never seen anything like this.

And then down here across the Mississippi coastline, rain and thunderstorms here the past 16-36 hours. That has hampered efforts to get out there and skim the waters and beat back the oil that continues to slowly encroach here in many cases unprotected Mississippi coastline.

All right. It already hit parts of the mouth of the Mississippi River, some barrier islands across southeastern Louisiana. The oil slick now about 20-30 miles from the shoreline of the Mississippi coastline. It is large as far as the sheen or the slick goes, but it seems as though the heaviest amount of oil may very well have shrunk -- at least from the satellite pictures that we've seen over the past couple of days.

There you see that thick oil, the sheen less discernible, but certainly greater in expanse and moving its way a little closer to the shoreline.

Winds are going to be light but they will still be out of the south, John and Kiran, which means that we are still unprotected. And that means that this area could see oil come ashore -- that sheen come ashore here over the next couple of days. But it's still 20 to 30 miles offshore.

What they are worried about is they know how to protect themselves against hurricanes. Obviously, they are no stranger to that. But they really don't know how to protect themselves against the onslaught of an oil slick. So, in many cases, nervous people here, including officials because of just that -- John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: And nobody knows how bad it's going to be either, Rob, with thousands of barrels coming up from the seafloor every day.

Rob Marciano in Gulfport for us this morning -- thanks, Rob.

That oil spill is a major political mess for the Obama administration. Has the response been enough? Some people are asking the question, is this President Obama's Katrina? We'll have that story coming up next.

Eight-and-a-half minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Eleven minutes after hour.

It's bad and getting worse. President Obama is calling the Gulf oil spill an environmental unprecedented environmental catastrophe. And the administration is pushing back hard against accusations it was slow to respond to the crisis.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told us they are tackling the crisis on three fronts.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: One is to cap the well. Efforts to do that have not succeeded to date. However, they have begun doing undersea injection of dispersant. That looks to be very promising.

The second is fighting the spill on the surface of the sea before it reaches landfall.

And the third is preventing it from reaching landfall and having the immediate ability to clean it up.


ROBERTS: From the mess in the Gulf to the one that it is creating in Washington, critics say the Obama administration didn't spring into action fast enough after the B.P. spill. Some are even calling this Obama's Hurricane Katrina. Jim Acosta joins us now live from Washington.

And some very pretty harsh words are being thrown around this morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And the White House is pushing back. Administration officials are warning the oil spill in the Gulf as a slow motion disaster that could actually end up being worse and more expensive than the Exxon Valdez. Just how the White House manages this potential catastrophe could be under the microscope for months.


ACOSTA (voice-over): On the ground on the Gulf Coast, a rain- soaked President Obama defended his handling of an oil spill that's spreading.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From day one, we have prepared and planned for the worst even as we hope for the best.

ACOSTA: It was a response to the high octane blame game revving up in Washington.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: This incident occurred on April the 20th. It really wasn't until April the 28th until the administration fully deployed federal resources.

ACOSTA: Republicans have zeroed in on the spill time line. The B.P. oil rig exploded on April 20th. Three days later, the Coast Guard said no oil was leaking from the well. But the next day, the Coast Guard revealed oil actually was seeping out. On the 29th, the Department of Homeland Security designated the spill of national significance.

That same day, a Coast Guard official referred to B.P. as a partner in the crisis, then corrected herself.

REAR ADM. SALLY BRICE-O'HARA, U.S. COAST GUARD: Given the professionalism of our partner, B.P., and -- maybe partner was -- let me back up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not our partner.

BRICE-O'HARA: In terms of -- bad choice of words.

ACOSTA: Around of Sunday talk show interviews, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was pressed on whether the Coast Guard had relied too heavily on B.P.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Who is in charge of this?

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I think the commandant stated it very accurately, B.P. is the responsible party.

ACOSTA: And whether the administration's response was too slow.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Is this a situation of playing catch- up?

NAPOLITANO: No, not at all. We had DOD resources there from day one. This was a situation that was treated as a possible catastrophic failure from day one.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.

ACOSTA: Now, some conservatives are making comparisons to President Bush's handling of another Gulf Coast disaster.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That damn oil slick, Obama's Katrina.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: You know some critics are saying, this could be Obama's Katrina.

NAPOLITANO: I think that is a total mischaracterization.

ACOSTA: One comparison that is being considered by the White House is the Exxon Valdez disaster. Administration officials warn the Gulf Coast spill could be much bigger than Valdez because it could take 90 days to stop. Exxon waged a legal battle that lasted years after its spill, ultimately succeeding in reducing their payout for damages.

The president indicated this won't happen this time.

OBAMA: B.P. is responsible for this leak. B.P. will be paying the bill.


ACOSTA: Now, keep in mind, after the Exxon Valdez disaster, the oil industry started paying into a special fund set up by the government to cover the cost of big spills. Good news is, there is more than $1 billion in that fund. The bad news is, John, that may not be enough money. The estimates for this bill could top $14 billion.

ROBERTS: Yes, and they really don't even have a handle on it, Jim, because it is all estimates and who knows how much oil is going to come out of the wellhead.

Jim Acosta this morning. Jim, thanks.

CHETRY: So ahead the big merger now. United and Continental announced the deal. What does it mean for flyers and will it pass the antitrust test? We will talk to Christine Romans in a couple of minutes, 16 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Right now, 18 minutes past the hour. Time for "Minding Your Business." United and Continental are merging. The deal is worth more than $3 billion and it would create the biggest airline in the world. It still has to be approved though by Federal Antitrust regulators.

ROBERTS: How will flyers be affected by the deal? Our Christine Romans, on "Minding Your Business" this morning and she joins us now. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I just got off the satellite with the two CEOs of these companies, United and Continental. When I asked them specifically how am I as a business traveler and as leisure traveler going to see things differently with the Continental and United merger? Are my fares going up? This is what they said.


GLENN TILTON, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: You know, Christine, you couldn't put a network together any better than this network fits together. There is virtually no overlap. The work that we have done independent of one another is exactly the result you are going to see when we come together as one company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right and the synergies that we're projecting in this deal, none of those synergies have any air fare increases built into them.


ROMANS: No air fare increase built into those synergies. Some of those synergies also means there could be some job cuts in I.T. at the headquarters level they said, but they don't expect any kind of major job cuts on the front line, meaning what you see when you go to the airport and the like.

Now you can't have two CEOs of airlines in front of the camera and not ask them about kind of bad rep that their industry has for customer service and will this big gargantuan world's largest airline be better at delivering customer service and what do they think about all the bad press they have been getting about tarmac delays and the like? And this is what they've said.


TILTON: I focus on all the Blackberry messages I get from our customers who tell me they are having a good experience, Christine.

JEFF SMISEK, CEO, CONTINENTAL AIRLINES: Look, look, we are very focused on good customer service. We understand issues with tarmac delays, because we have an antiquated air traffic control system. Many of the things are beyond our control, but we do our very best. We are very responsive to customers. We deliver very high quality service. This combined airline will be unparalleled not only in the scope and skill of the network, but the customer service that we will deliver and we will deliver consistently.


ROMANS: Anyone who has been trapped in a gated O'hare waiting for the United flight to leave can be a little irritated.

ROBERTS: Let's not dwell on that. Let's talk about how great we are.

CHETRY: Which one of them would be the boss of the other one?

ROMANS: The boss is going to be the Continental CEO. The company will be called United. It will have the Continental logo, and then the non-executive chairman will be the United CEO, Glenn Tilton who for some time has been looking for a combination for these two. One thing that's interesting, I guess, also for us about this merger is that these CEOs say that things are a lot better now than they were two years ago. No surprise there, but that business travel is coming back. Oil prices they say have moderated and they think the economy is improving and that's allowed them to have the sort of backdrop to do a merger, which you know is good if you are looking for business to do well and the economy not to be on the ropes.

ROBERTS: The thing that drives me most nuts because I fly a lot is the airfare game they play. When you're searching for an airfare online, it's like you've checked out one hour, it will be this price and then an hour later, this price and then an hour after that, it will be back to the original price.

It's like -- can you imagine what we would say if they did it with gasoline prices? Like 9:00 in the morning gas is $3 a gallon. But just before rush hour when everybody needs gas, they bump into $4.50.

ROMANS: And this why I was asked them. They both are very competitive on this East Coast to California route and on the Chicago to New York routes. Two routes that I personally like to use and so I was asking them, if you're competitive there now, but now you are going to be the same company, does that mean my fares are going up or it's going to be -- I am going to see more or fewer choices in terms of air fare? And they say, no, no, we'll watch. I will let you know if that New York to Chicago fare goes up.

CHETRY: And as you pointed out, they are still losing $16 million a day the airlines, right, the top five?

ROMANS: You're seeing the top five airlines are losing a lot of money pretty consistently, yes. So this is - I mean, a lot of these companies have get together because this is a loss plagued industry that really needs to get its act together.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans, "Minding Your Business" this morning. Christine, thanks.

"Time" magazine names its 100 Most Influencial People. Tea Party leader, Jenny Beth Martin makes the list, but we're talking to her.

CHETRY: Also, Arizona's officer files lawsuits against the new immigration law. He says, he can no longer uphold the law. We are going to get his unique perspective, still ahead.


ROBERTS: Coming up at 26 minutes after the hour, your top stories just about four minutes away now. But first, an A.M. Original, something that you will see only on American Morning.

The days before a soldier leaves home for the very first time can be just as agonizing as serving in war itself. CHETRY: We are following a story of new army recruit Latricia Rose who had to leave both her husband and her young daughter behind to head to basic training. Our Jason Carroll joins us this morning with our special series "A Soldier's Story" and we all know that this happens every day. Getting a chance to be up close and see how one family is affected let's you in on a whole new world.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really does. It was an incredible moment to watch. We were incredibly grateful to La Trisha and her family for allowing us in. You know, when you look at the larger picture, the women make up about 14 percent of the Army's active duty. Many of those women are mothers.

Today, we take a look at one young mother, Latricia Rose and how she dealt with a very personal struggle even before the hard work of basic training got under way.


CARROLL (voice-over): It's Latricia Rose's last day at home before leaving to join the Army. Just about everything is done. Paperwork, check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take a look at what you have here.

CARROLL: Final meeting with recruiter, check.


CARROLL: Telling her 2-year-old daughter, Iana she is leaving, not quite.

ROSE: I think she kind of knows I am leaving. I said I was going to tell her today that I am leaving, but she kind of -- I think she kind of knows.

CARROLL: Latricia and her husband, Brandon, have been struggling to tell their daughter for weeks in a way a 2-year-old can understand. They think Iana may be catching on.

ROSE: She just cries if I walk out the room or anything. I think she just can probably sense something. Hi, Iana.

CARROLL: For now, Latricia and her husband make the most of their last day with their daughter taking her to her favorite spot Chuckie Cheese though it's clear it's the game she likes not the mascot. By midday, still no talk.

ROSE: I did say to her two days ago, mommy is going to be leaving, but she ignored me. We went on with our day like nothing was wrong.

CARROLL: Meanwhile, Brandon senses how challenging it is going to be to be both father and mother.

BRANDON ROSE, HUSBAND: I'm going to try to do the best I can. She is going to be asking for her mother. I have to tell her that mommy gone and it just daddy for now. Ready, one, two, three, say cheese.

CARROLL: Today, the entire family can be together. So they mark the occasion with a portrait. And one last dinner with a come home soon cake compliments of the restaurant staff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the least we can do. The least. We're really proud of you.

ROSE: Oh, baby.

CARROLL: Finally, time for bed and the talk. It is hard to find the words.

ROSE: Help me, because I don't know what to say. Iana, mommy is leaving tomorrow, OK?


ROSE: But I'll be back in a little while, OK? You're the best.

CARROLL: By 4:00 the next morning, she is on her way.

BRANDON ROSE: You ready to roll? Ready as you are going to be, huh?

CARROLL: But first, one last hug.

ROSE: Bye, baby.

CARROLL: And one final good-bye. Latricia is on the road to becoming a soldier.


CARROLL: Again, Latricia and Brandon told me that they tried to tell their daughter for weeks what was about to come. Both of you are parents. How do you then explain to a 2-year-old, I'm leaving?

ROBERTS: There is no concept of time for a 2-year-old.

CHETRY: Actually, in some ways, I mean, as heart breaking as it is. It is almost easier than trying to tell a 5 or an 8-year-old that you are leaving because they know and every second you have seen this heartbreaking stories when the dad surprises the kid comes back to their - after being deployed and you see what these kids go through.

CARROLL: The other thing to remember here is that this is what a lot of mothers, young mothers are going through who are serving the military dealing with second and third tours of duty, but you never get a chance to see what's happening behind the scenes.

ROBERTS: The whole thing with the family plan too can be very burdensome.

CARROLL: Very, which you are about to see in our next installment of this.

ROBERTS: All right, looking forward to it. Good story this morning. Jason Carroll is back again tomorrow with Latrisha's first days in basic training where she faces some unexpected challenges. Jason was alluding to those. You will find out about that tomorrow right here on the Most News in the Morning.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, we're crossing the half hour. Time for a look at your top stories this morning.

A deadly weekend in the south as storms kill 15 people across Tennessee and Mississippi. More than 13 inches of rain fell in two days causing the worst flooding there since the 1970s. And it is not over. In Nashville this morning thousands are watching and waiting as the Cumberland River threatens to crest at ten feet above flood stage and flood the entire downtown area.

ROBERTS: Update in our breaking news this morning. A Detroit police officer killed in a shootout overnight. Four other officers were hit and hospitalized but are expected to survive.

Police say the officers were responding to a call of a break-in and were met with a barrage of bullets the second they got to the door. One suspect is in the hospital. The mayor says the murdered officer had a ten-year-old son.

CHETRY: New York Police Department is looking for a man was spotted on video just steps away from the car bomb that was planted in Times Square over the weekend. They say right now that he is not a suspect or a person of interest. Police say the SUV was packed with propane tanks, gas cans, alarm clocks.

Earlier on "AMERICAN MORNING," we spoke with NYPD commission Ray Kelly. He talked about what they were luckily able to stop.


CHETRY: What do you think the casualties would have been?

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: It's very hard to say. We think we would have seen a significant fireball. You would have seen the tanks explode. Inside the vehicle was this gun case, about 75 pounds, a heave metal gun case. Inside it there was a substance. We believe it to be fertilizer, but fertilizer that doesn't have an explosive nature to it.

But clearly, it was the intent to use that -- in my judgment, I say clearly, as shrapnel.


CHETRY: And Kelly also says the NYPD is looking at 82 police cameras in the area at the time. They are also due to release video taken by a Pennsylvania man taken in Times Square that may show someone running from the scene. ROBERTS: The battle lines are drawn over Arizona's new immigration law. One critic is a man on the front line of enforcing it.

CHETRY: He is an officer who believes the measure is unconstitutional. He filed a lawsuit challenging it. Here is Thelma Gutierrez.


MARTIN ESCOBAR, TUCSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have to do my job. I have to serve and protect.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is not often a police officer speaks out publicly against the laws he is sworn to uphold. But Officer Martin Escobar, a naturalized citizen and a 15-year- veteran of the Tucson police department says he can no longer remain silent.

We met to talk about the new Arizona law that Escobar calls unconstitutional. He calls the new anti illegal immigration law divisive and unconstitutional. And as a police officer, he says he doesn't want to have to enforce it. As a private citizen, he is challenging it in federal court.

ESCOBAR: I am saying it has to be done. It is the right thing for me to do. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.

GUTIERREZ: Officer Escobar took us to the area he patrols on Tucson's south side. It is where he grew up.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): What this neighborhood like?

ESCOBAR: This is a predominantly Hispanic community, predominantly Mexican community here.

GUTIERREZ: Lots of new immigrants?

ESCOBAR: Lots of new immigrants, a lot of people that don't know how to speak English.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): He says he and other officers work hard to gain trust in their communities. It is how it gets solved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to stay here by myself because I have no family here.

GUTIERREZ: But now even the children are running scared he will deport them.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): They are afraid of you?

ESCOBAR: Of course, of course. I don't want them to be afraid of me. Officers, police are supposed to be the good guys, not the bad guys. GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Under the law, Escobar would have to investigate the immigration status of anyone he stopped, detained, or arrested if he suspected they were in the country illegally.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Under this law, you can be sued if you don't investigate. Does that worry you?

ESCOBAR: That's correct. Of course it does.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Within a week of passing the new law, Arizona lawmakers amended it, tightening provisions that critics claim would lead to racial profiling. The state's governor says racial profiling will not be tolerated in Arizona.

But Escobar knows how things work on the streets.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Are you saying in Arizona if you come upon a person with an Irish accent and a person with a Spanish accent, you will investigate the person in the Spanish accent?

ESCOBAR: It is most likely the person with the Spanish accent is going to get investigated.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): It's that assumption that bothers him most.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): It sounds like you can relate to what some of the people are feeling right now.

ESCOBAR: That's exactly what I'm saying. And that's why some people are not going to understand what the feeling is unless they have been through it. I've been through it.

That's a school picture of me in elementary school. I didn't know one word of English. I remember then at that time being called a wetback. That used to sting so bad.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Officer Escobar remembers being questioned by border patrol agents as a child, and he says he knows exactly what some of these children are feeling.

He argues in his lawsuit that determining who is in Arizona illegally should not be his responsibility. He says under federal law that job is reserved for trained federal immigration agents.


GUTIERREZ: Officer Escobar says he has been asked if he is afraid of jeopardizing his job as a result of filing this lawsuit, but he says he is covered under the First Amendment, which gives him the right to speak out.

John, Kiran?

CHETRY: Thelma Gutierrez for us, thanks. Still ahead, "Time" magazine names it's 100 most influence people. One of them is tea party leader Jenny Beth Martin. She made the list and she joins us to talk more about why she is the national coordinator for the tea party patriots and what the movement is all about.

It's 36 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Good morning, Atlanta, Georgia, where right now you have rain and 70 degrees, a whole night of heavy thunderstorms. It's pretty cloudy today, even a little bit of rain here and there and more thunderstorms tonight. A high of 76 today.


ROBERTS: "Time" magazine names their 100 most influence people. Jenny Beth Martin, tea party leader, makes the list, and she joins us coming up next to talk about the tea party movement and how it has become so popular so quickly. Stay with us. It's 43 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to The Most News in the Morning. Forty- five minutes past the hour right now.

President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, even Sarah Palin, these are all names you might expect to see on "Time" magazine's list of the most 100 -- the "100 Most Influential People in the World".

ROBERTS: Jenny Beth Martin, perhaps not so much. But she made this year's list, the unlikely star of the TEA Party Movement according to "Time" magazine. Jenny is the national coordinator for the TEA Party Patriots. And she joins us this morning live from Atlanta.

Jenny Beth great to see you this morning. You're one of the founding members of this movement. And people are still trying to wrap their heads around the idea of what is the TEA Party Movement? Is it a political movement? Is it a protest movement? Is it a little bit of both? What do you think?

JENNY BETH MARTIN, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Well, it's a little bit of both. We have three core values, fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally-limited government and free markets. And people are out there wanting the government to listen to them and understand we promote those three core values.

CHETRY: The interesting thing you talk about those three core values. But a lot of people that gravitate toward the TEA Party Movement and say that they are supportive of it and it's a growing number. I think the latest polling showed that one in five Americans felt that way. Some of them also has -- have radical views, I guess you could say, sometimes when it comes to race and other things. How did that sort of start to seep into what you say is the core of the movement?

MARTIN: Well, in TEA Party Patriots, we have no place for that. If we see somebody who is doing something racist, we tell them to leave our events. We are there for core values. We want to reclaim our founding principles in this country.

ROBERTS: You claim 1,800 affiliates, 15 million members. This whole thing got going in February of last year. What is it, do you think, Jenny Beth that has led so many people to come to the TEA Party Movement in such a short period of time? And I guess we should point out too that most of them according to polling are disaffected Republicans.

MARTIN: They -- they are at home and they understand what's happening with this economy and we are in a very tough economy right now and we're having to clip coupons, cut back, find creative ways to save. And we realize that you can't spend money that you don't have. And that applies to our personal lives and to business and to the government.

ROBERTS: Did they think that people on Capitol Hill just aren't listening and is it limited to one side of the aisle or is it sort of a (INAUDIBLE) on both your houses?

MARTIN: No, it's definitely on both sides of the aisle. And it's -- when Republicans were in control of the Capitol and of the White House in 2001 and 2002, 2003, they were continuing this out-of- control spending just like we're seeing right now, maybe not quite as much but they still were doing it.

CHETRY: And a lot of the rallies and according to a lot of the polling, nearly 80 percent of people that say they support the TEA Party or go to the rallies or actively involved are Caucasian.

What would you say to minorities who say, is there really a place for me as part of the TEA Party Movement?

MARTIN: Absolutely, there is a place for you. This is about ordinary citizens in America. And we're reclaiming our founding principles. And those principles are liberty. It affects everyone in this country regardless of race or age.

ROBERTS: Of course you know, Jenny Beth, probably -- when it comes to political clout or political leverage, we saw the Election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts as being a victory for the TEA Party because the TEA Party got behind him.

There are a number of candidates that the TEA Party is going to get behind this November, Marco Rubio, from Florida being one of them. How much political clout do you think the TEA Party is really going to have in the mid-term?

MARTIN: I think that the Brown election was a referendum on the core values we've been talking about for the past year. I think that people are beginning to listen and pay attention to these and understand that our Constitution, it really is important. And because of that, it will affect elections. People are paying attention to what's in the Constitution like they never have before. And they are applying that to both legislation and elections.

CHETRY: Well, how is the TEA Partiers, I know it's a long way off, but looking at the 2012 presidential race. I mean, is the TEA Party going to try to run its own candidate or throw its support behind some players already out there in the field that are associated with one of the two large parties?

MARTIN: We don't have any intention of starting a new party. We encourage people to get involved in the parties that they are already involved in.

And as far as the 2012 election goes, this movement has been like a fire hydrant. And we're just trying to keep up with it the best that we can. And I haven't been thinking very much about 2012 yet.

ROBERTS: All right, Jenny Beth Martin, from the TEA Party Patriots one of "Time" magazine's "100 Most Intriguing People of the Year". Thanks for joining us.

MARTIN: Thank you.

CHETRY: Most influential -- so congratulations for that one, Jenny. Thanks.

Right now we're going to take a quick break. When we come back President Obama takes digs at birthers and Jay Leno at the star- studded White House Correspondents' Dinner. His comedic timing was pretty great. We're going to hear some of his jokes in a moment.

It's 50 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Fifty- four minutes past the hour right now, time for your "AM House Call". The FDA coming out with an advisory for consumers this morning to stop using dozens of over the counter infant and children's liquid medications that are being recalled. They include Children's Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl. Some of the products may contain a higher concentration of the active ingredient than listed on the bottle. Officials say others fail to meet quality standards.

ROBERTS: Crews in Boston are making better than expected progress with the city's broken water main. It cut the city's clean water supply to about 2 million people. Police were called to some stores this weekend because people were fighting over bottled water. Officials say that everyone should still boil their tap water before using it and they're trying to trace the source so they can find out what caused it.

CHETRY: Bret Michaels is expected to be ok after quite a health scare. His doctors say that he should make a full recovery from the brain hemorrhage. The former Poison front man is expected to undergo more tests at a Phoenix neurological center where he's being treated. His physician says Michaels' his sheer will to live helped him survive the dangerous brain injury.

ROBERTS: He is a very, very lucky fellow.

Well, it turns out President Obama makes a pretty good standup comic. He took to the stage on Saturday night at the Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

CHETRY: Yes, a lot of Hollywood greats were there to see the president. It was followed by "Tonight Show" host, Jay Leno.

The President didn't spare anyone, including himself or Jay.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been quite a year since I've spoken here last; lots of ups, lots of downs, except for my approval ratings, which have just gone down. But that's politics. It doesn't bother me.

Besides, I happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.

Though I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight; great to see you, Jay.

I'm also glad that I'm speaking first, because we have all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno's.


ROBERTS: It's good.

CHETRY: At that point, Jay pretended to get up and leave but --

ROBERTS: You were there. How was it?

CHETRY: Yes. It was great. He was funny. The President was pretty funny. He was -- he had a lot of pretty good jokes. He made fun of Goldman Sachs. He said whether they are funny or not, they are still making money. That got a pretty big laugh.

And then, of course, when he threatened the Jonas Brothers if they were ever to get any ideas about Sasha and Malia, he said, "I have two words for you guys: predator drones." That got a pretty good laugh.

ROBERTS: You know presidents always seem to do well on this. I remember when Laura Bush did it for George Bush -- President Bush -- one year and she was fantastic.

CHETRY: Yes. She was pretty funny.

ROBERTS: She really surprised everybody and rocked the house as well.

CHETRY: Well, the year we were there and Karl Rove did his impromptu MC Rove -- I think that shocked the heck at everybody.

ROBERTS: I think people are still traumatized by that.

Fifty-seven minutes after the hour. We'll be right back.


ROBERTS: Continue the conversation on today's stories; go to our blog at That's going to wrap it up for us. Thanks for joining us this morning. We'll see you back here again tomorrow.

CHETRY: All right. And meanwhile the news continues, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips. Hey, Kyra.