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Laura Bush Addresses Tragedy in Myanmar; Hunt for Alleged Philly Cop-Killer Expands to New Jersey; Results of Indiana and North Carolina Primaries Highly Anticipated; Soaring Gas Prices Become Issue No. 1

Aired May 5, 2008 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the numbers are hard to imagine, 150-mile-an-hour winds, 20 inches of rain, 10 hours of torment, more than 10,000 dead in a tropical cyclone in Myanmar.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: As the world tries to comprehend the scope of this suffering and figure out how best to help, Laura Bush is preparing to speak for the U.S. You'll be hearing the first lady live moments from now.

Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar live at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right. As we wait for the First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, to get ready for a press conference, she is going to take obviously a rare foray into policy and talk about the situation in Myanmar and just how exactly the U.S. plans to respond, what kind of aid this country will send. That's some microphones at the White House, waiting for that you won't miss a second of that. If we're in the middle of a story, we'll break out of it so we can bring you the first lady's take on how we need to respond to Myanmar.

An inside look at Myanmar where the government says more than 10,000 people are dead in the wake of that weekend cyclone.

CNN correspondent Dan Rivers is on the ground.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road into Yangon is a tangle of splintered wood and fallen trees. What used to be a shady avenue is being shredded into shards of timber. Trunks the size of yacht masts snapped like match sticks. People are doing their best to clear a path through this mayhem, but progress is slow.

The lucky ones have power tools. But the electricity supply has off for two days, and fuel is in short supply. This is the line for gas. It stretches around the block. Already, the price has quadrupled to $10 a gallon. Those who can afford it are buying fuel on the black market at the side of the road. But how long before these supplies dry up? Water is also becoming a precious and expensive commodity, and the main water supply has been cut in many areas. Those who live here are shocked by the devastation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The day before it was the city you know and the day after it's another -- it's like another planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no water. So we have to -- to find everything.

RIVERS: In a few places, the army has been deployed, but in many parts of the city, troops are noticeable by their absence. A far cry from the thousands of troops sent to crush last year's pro democracy uprising. Not even the golden spires of the Shwedagon Pagoda were spared by Cyclone Nardis. This Buddhist temple was a rallying point for the protests. Now it's closed.

These people fear they'll be left to cope alone. Myanmar's ruling military junta has issued a rare appeal for international emergency assistance. Aid groups say they're working to help those in need.

BAN KI-MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: The United Nations will do all to provide assistance. Because of the lack of communication and the information, we're not quite sure what would be the total extent of damages and the casualties, and -- but I'm very much alarmed by the incoming news that the casualties have risen more than 10,000 people already.

RIVERS: Despite the devastation, at last report, the government planned to proceed with a referendum on the country's constitution on May the 10th. The opposition fears the result will be fixed by the army to ensure it retains power. The Cyclone Nargis has pushed this country further towards the brink, just days before the most crucial political event in years.


KEILAR: And as we await comments from First Lady Laura Bush at the White House, let's head over to the weather center here at CNN world headquarters, talk to Jacqui Jeras about what a monster of a storm this was.

If the first lady comes out, I'll interrupt you and we'll listen in.


Very big storm, very powerful storm. This satellite picture gives you perspective. This is the Bay of Bengal, and it's about 750 miles here of storm covering across. So it's very large. It also was very intense. The estimates, we really only have satellite to go on. We don't have a lot of information. But we think the winds were somewhere around 130-plus miles per hour, so it will be a strong Category 3, maybe a weak Category 4 hurricane. Now, the system really packed a punch and brought a lot of heavy rainfall to go along with it.

Here you can see Myanmar, and there's the track that the tropical cyclone took. And when it made landfall it moved through a marshy area. Think of this is like a delta, think of this as like the State of Louisiana. So as it made landfall it didn't weaken as quickly as many tropical systems do, because it was still marshy and warm. Then it took its trek to the capital city.

There you can see Yangon. And about six million people live here and a very populated area. Also a lot of fresh water flooding was very likely here. About 20 inches, is what we're estimating. The winds were still very strong. We're estimating at the airport, you can see that little strip right there on Google Earth. That's the location of the airport. For about five hours ...

KEILAR: We're so sorry to interrupt you. Jacqui, sorry to interrupt you, but let's listen in at the White House to Laura Bush.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Thank you, everybody for coming out.

I just wanted to make a few comments about Burma. On Saturday, Cyclone Nargis swept through Burma. The storm affected more than two million people. According to the Burmese media, killed thousands. The aftermath has left cities paralyzed, families separated and houses and businesses destroyed. Americans are a compassionate people, and we're already acting to provide help.

The U.S. has offered financial assistance through or embassy. We'll work with the U.N. and other international nongovernmental organizations to provide water, sanitation, food and shelter. More assistance will be forthcoming. The United States stands prepared to provide an assistance team and much-needed supplies to Burma, as soon as the Burmese government accepts our offer.

The government of Burma should accept this team quickly, as well as other offers of international assistance. As they cope with this tragedy, the men and women of Burma remain in the thoughts and prayers of many Americans. It's troubling that many of the Burmese people learned of this impending disaster only when foreign outlet's, such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America sounded the alarm. Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path.

The response to the cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failure to meet its people's basic needs. The regime has dismantled systems of agriculture, education and health care. This once wealthy nation now has the lowest per capita GDP in Southeast Asia. Despite the havoc created by this weekend's cyclone, as far as we can tell, Burma's military leaders plan to move forward with the constitutional referendum many scheduled for this Saturday, May 10. They've orchestrated this vote to give false legitimacy to their continued rule.

The proposed constitution was drafted in a flawed process that it excluded opposition and some key ethnic groups. It would effectively give the military a veto over any constitutional changes. The constitution would prohibit democracy activists who are current or former political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi from taking office. To ensure their constitution becomes law, the regime has been intimidating voters and using force against dissidents. Public gatherings have been banned and printed materials may not be distributed without governmental approval.

As the date of the referendum draws near, there's been an increase in arrest of opposition party members and activists. This continues to take place, despite a call from the international community and most recently from the United Nations Security Council for Burma's government to make sure it's free, fair and inclusive.

In response to the regime's continued repression President Bush has instructed the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze assets of Burmese state-owned companies that are held in U.S. banks.

This adds to actions last year to expand U.S. sanctions against Burma's regime and to tighten sanctions against its top leader. We thank the European Union, Canada and Australia in joining the United States in imposing similarly restrictions and we appeal to fellow members to use their influence to encourage a democratic transition. Burma's ruling generals have had their chance to implement the good government they promised to their people.

If it proceeds under current conditions, the constitutional referendum they have planned should not be seen as a step toward freedom, but rather as a confirmation of the unacceptable status quo. Thank you all very much for giving me a chance to speak. I'm going to leave tomorrow for Crawford, for Jenna's wedding, and I wanted to be able to make a statement about Burma before I left. So I'm happy to take questions.

QUESTION: Mrs. Bush, could you offer us any specifics yet about the scope of the U.S. disaster relief package?

L. BUSH: Right now, the earliest part of the relief is the money that the embassy already has, that's already there that we can distribute to other NGOs, the World Food Programme and other groups that are on the ground. If they will let our team in, then we'll be able to assess what else we can do and we do have other supplies and commodities in the area, not in Burma, but close in the area that would be available soon for help if our DART team can get in and see what they can do.

QUESTION: And given your concerns about the ruling government there, are you also worried that any U.S. aid might not get to the people affected?

L. BUSH: Well, I'm worried that they won't even accept U.S. aid, and I urge the government to accept aid from the United States and from the entire international community right now while the needs of their people are so critical.

QUESTION: Mrs. Bush, is there any evidence that the sanctions the U.S. and other nations have imposed on the leaders in Myanmar or Burma have had an effect? L. BUSH: Only anecdotal. We have heard, and not probably can't really confirm about some of the leaders who are targeted, actions they've taken that make us think they don't like those targeted sanctions on the leaders themselves.

QUESTION: Do you have any strong message for the military dictatorship in Burma as far as this democracy and this cyclone is concerned and do you think they'll have a change of heart and minds because of this tragedy?

L. BUSH: I hope so. I hope that there will be one good thing that comes out of such huge destruction, and that would be the government's realization that the people of Burma need help and need more help than they can give them or that they've been able to give them.

And the country is just been totally decimated with both education, agriculture, all of the things that makes -- made Burma one of the richest countries in Asia have now been dismantled and it's very important that the regime start to accept both technical help from out of the country and obviously in this disaster, very -- be able to accept the really basic help that anybody would need, any country would need and any people would need after this kind of disaster.

QUESTION: What about India? What can India do?

L. BUSH: I think India can help. India is close on the border there, and there are a lot of ways they can help and get help there quickly, and maybe the Burmese government would accept it more readily from the Indian government than they would form the U.S. government.

QUESTION: Mrs. Bush. Why such an historic interest? This is a first for a first lady to come to this podium and talk about a cyclone. Why such an historic interest?

L. BUSH: You know I've been interested in Burma for a long time, it started really in an interest in Aung San Suu Kyi and reading her works and just the story of a Nobel Prize winner who's been under house arrest for so long, whose party was overwhelmingly elected in an election and then never able to take office. And so it started with an interest in her, and then just the more I've seen, the more critical I see the need is for the people in Burma to be -- for the world to pay attention to the people of Burma and for the world to put pressure on the military regime.

QUESTION: And a follow-up. What about the issue of sanitation. You talked about that and dysentery. Could you talk a little bit more about ...

L. BUSH: I mean, those are the sort of thing that's international help would be critical for. We don't know, for instance, in the -- for people are all talking about the high price of rice. We don't know -- they would have been just in the planting season. What would have happened if this big 12 foot surge of ocean water, salt water comes over, what would have been rice planting ground, you know, we just don't know.

But it seems very, very dire. They were all -- already needed the help of the World Food Programme, the WFP, now they'll need it even more. And so it's really important for the regime to accept this kind of help, to open their doors to all the help, to all of the help the U.N. can give, from U.N. Aid to UNICEF. Each one of the international programs that can help as well, as help from every government that is willing to help, and I know there are a lot of government that's are.

QUESTION: Why do you think that the government didn't allow the state-run media to publish those warnings?

L. BUSH: I don't know. I have no idea.

QUESTION: Do you think they have blood on their hands for that lack of warning?

L. BUSH: I just think it's very, very important that we know already that they are very inept, that they have not been able to govern in a way that let's their country for one thing build an economy. This is a country that's rich in natural resources. Their natural resources are being depleted as they sell them off. As far as we can tell from the outside, for the financial benefit of the regime itself and not the good of the people. We know that.

We know these huge forest, teak and mahogany forests may be being depleted. Last year, many American gem countries and European gem countries refused to go to the big gem auctions, because they didn't want to prop up the government. But we do know that a lot of, China for instance, a lot of Chinese gem buyers did go.

QUESTION: Mrs. Bush, the European Union has pledged $3 million, the national offer from the United States is only $250,000.

L. BUSH: That's right.

QUESTION: If they accept assistance, how large will the U.S. ...

L. BUSH: I don't know. I can't speak to how large that can be. But I feel sure that it would be substantial, if we can give it. The money, the first fund, the first $250,000 from the U.S. government is money that the embassy already has in a fund for something like this. And they can give it immediately to the World Food Programme or other NGOs that are meeting the very immediate needs. If we can get some sort of team in there to assess what the other needs are, then I feel very assured that the United States government will follow with a bigger ...


L. BUSH: I don't know. They haven't said anything, as far as I know.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the president signing legislation in the near future to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Medal of Honor?

L. BUSH: The president will sign the legislation tomorrow. The congressional legislation that awards Aung Sung Suu Kyi the Congressional Medal of Honor, and I was hoping to be here with him when he did that. I don't think I'll be here, because I think I'll be going on tomorrow. But he will, and I think that's important. I think it's just another way, like the Senate and the House caucuses on Burma that let the people of Burma know that the United States is standing with them.

We know they listen to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. So it's important for us to get out message out on those radio stations so people in Burma know we are aware of what's happened and we are very aware of the needs of the people after the cyclone.

QUESTION: Do you think that might, though, affect the military junta's willingness to receive aid from the international community, particularly the U.S.?

L. BUSH: I hope -- I hope not. I hope the military will realize they have to accept aid from everybody they can possibly accept it from. And maybe that will be the -- something good that can come out of this terrible destruction.

QUESTION: Would they let her come to the U.S. to accept the medal?

L. BUSH: They might let her come accept, but not ever go back. I don't think she would ever do that because she couldn't be assured she could go home. That's why she didn't go see her husband when he was dying in England. Anything else?

QUESTION: Yes. The U.S. only provides a few million dollars in annual humanitarian aid to Myanmar now. Some Burmese officials have raised concern that the existing U.S. sanctions and the sheer lack of trust between the country will impede the flow of any significant U.S. aid following the cyclone.

The question is -- how is the U.S. government going to balance those two objectives, the ones of maintaining the financial pressure on the junta, at the same time making sure the victims aren't victimized once again.

L. BUSH: That's the very -- that's always the question when sanctions are part of any sort of pressure that we can put on a government. And in fact, that seems to be the only kind of pressure the United States can put on Burma. Certainly we hope that India, for instance, and other countries in the neighborhood can step up if they won't accept aid from the United States.

But I think in front of their own people and in front of the world, if they don't accept aid from the United States and from all the rest of the international community that wants to -- wants to help the people of Burma, that it's just another way that the military regime looks so cut off and so unaware of what the real needs of their people are. OK. One last one.

QUESTION: Is there any way for the Burmese leaders to salvage the referendum process or should they start from scratch?

L. BUSH: I'm not going to give them any advice. But it would be very, very odd, I think if they were to hold the referendum this Saturday.

QUESTION: All the best of luck.

L. BUSH: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Any chance you'll let us cover it?

QUESTION: No invitation ...

QUESTION: Is it true there is a limestone altar?

L. BUSH: That's right, the president told that this morning on "Good Morning America." this was his idea to build this beautiful limestone altar, it's Texas limestone, the same that our house is made of from a local quarry and they're the one that's made it.

QUESTION: Is it permanent?

L. BUSH: It's permanent.

QUESTION: Are you nervous.

L. BUSH: Neither one of us are nervous. I'm very, very exciting. It's a very interesting passage of life when your first child is getting married and we're getting for us, our first son. So it's a thrill. And we're very happy about it.

QUESTION: When the grandchildren come will they be named Georgia?

L. BUSH: George, Georgia, Georgina, Georgette.

QUESTION: Are you more excited.

L. BUSH: We're both excited and thrilled and Jenna is happy and Henry is happy and that makes their mother and dad really happy.

QUESTION: Why didn't the wedding take place here in the White House?

L. BUSH: She wanted to get married at home. She just feels a lot more comfortable there and it will be really beautiful. This is a time when wild flowers are all blooming and I think it will be a very lovely wedding and it will be very like Jenna and Henry and of course that's what we want. We want what she wants.

QUESTION: How early Sunday morning is the bike ride for the president? L. BUSH: Since he probably won't be staying up to dance the last dance, it will probably be early. Bye, you all and thank you so much for covering Burma and I hope you'll keep watching.

Thanks a lot.

KEILAR: You see this, this is First Lady Laura Bush departing the Brady briefing room in the White House. This is something that's very unusual. Before she was talking wedding details she was talking about the situation in Myanmar which suffered a cyclone over the weekend. It is very rare for a first lady, and especially First Lady Laura Bush to talk about something like this.

She commented on tragedy, she urged Myanmar, also known as Burma, to accept U.S. aid from -- to accept U.S. aid. But of course there's a question of whether or not U.S. aid will be accepted there.

If you want to help the people of Myanmar, you can check this link out, Go ahead and help us impact your world and help the people in Myanmar.

LEMON: And also we're going to continue on this, even though countries and agencies are pushing relief or rushing relief to the survivors of cyclone-battered Myanmar, Brianna, well, getting into the country, that may be the hardest part. We'll have an overview from the State Department, that's coming up next.



L. BUSH: It's troubling that many of the Burmese people learned of this impending disaster only when foreign outlets such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America sounded the alarm. Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path. The response to the cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failure to meet its people's basic needs.


LEMON: That was First Lady Laura Bush just moments ago at the White House briefing room, talking about what the U.S. plans to do, as far as aid, if the government there will accept it. A lot of countries are scrambling to send help to Myanmar, also called Burma. The trouble is getting anything or anybody into that tightly- controlled country.

Let's go now to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee. She's here to give us some background on that.

Zain, let's talk first about the cyclone relief.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: The State Department is telling us that the U.S. offering, and Laura Bush re- enforced this, $250,000 to help with the government there, with the cyclone relief. The U.S. also has a disaster team that's standing by that is ready to go into Myanmar, get on the ground and assess what more the U.S. can do to help.

What's holding that whole thing up is that the U.S. hasn't got any permission from the government in Myanmar to enter the country. That's something that Mrs. Bush urged the government to go ahead and do for the good of its own people.

The U.S. has been done a very big critic of the repressive rulers in Myanmar and has been slapping sanctions against them. So what's interesting is the U.S. may have to go around its own sanctions to help out. Here's what a State Department spokesman said earlier at the briefing.


TOM CASEY, DEPUTY STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: I believe that there would be some legal restrictions that I'd have to check with a multiple lawyers on in terms of what kinds of assistance we might be able to provide directly to the government or government entities in Burma. But again, that's generally not how we provide these kinds of measures. And of course we're going to make sure that whatever we can do to help relieve the immediate suffering of people there is done.


VERJEE: And Don, it's very rare for a first lady to come out and make this sort of statement, but Laura Bush has really made championing the cause of freedom, democracy and rights in Myanmar one of her personal priorities -- Don.

LEMON: She said she watched the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi there and made reference to her a number of times. So everybody is ready to go, and everybody is ready to help. But tell us more about Myanmar. Obviously a contentious relationship with many countries, including the U.S.

VERJEE: Right. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is not a democratic place. There are no basic freedoms for people there. The army's in total control of everything. Having the army mete out some very brutal and repressive measures to its own population much it's been accused of massive human rights violations. It's crushed many uprising as well as put the pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest since 1990 after her party won elections.

And Laura Bush has been calling for her release over many years. It really is a brutal regime. They beat up the monks who stood against them last year.


State Department correspondent Zain Verjee.

Zain, we appreciate that. Thank you.

And if you want to help the people of Myanmar, just go to to impact your world.

KEILAR: Well, this is how it began. And by now, you probably how it sadly ends.

What could make a race horse break down, to the point where quick death was the only solution?


KEILAR: Would you know how to handle the windfall of an unexpected inheritance?

Well, Christine Romans has some tips that are Right On Your Money.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anita Outlaw's mother recently passed away, leaving her daughter a hefty inheritance from a lifetime of saving.

OUTLAW: There's a guilt associated with spending it. And I don't know how long it will last, but I'm very aware -- I'm very aware of why I have the money that I have.

ROMANS: A few weeks after her mother's, death Anita quit her job.

OUTLAW: And I'm trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. So that's a good feeling.

ROMANS: According to "Wall Street Journal" personal finance columnist Jonathan Clements, Anita should take it one step at a time.

JONATHAN CLEMENTS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": If you get an inheritance, there are a couple of things you really want to do. One is slow down for a minute.

ROMANS: And it's best to make a plan and review your finances.

CLEMENTS: You know, find out what sort of debts you have. Think about how much savings you have. Think about, you know, whether this is a time to be buying a home or paying off the mortgage.

ROMANS: Clements says one of the smartest things to do is pay off your debts and invest carefully.

CLEMENTS: You don't want to be having all your money riding on a single piece of property or on three stocks. You really want to own a diversified portfolio of mutual funds.

ROMANS: Anita is still grieving and there are still many difficult decisions ahead.

OUTLAW: My biggest thing is just making my mom proud of me and what I do with the money.

Slow down.

ROMANS: Christine Romans.



LEMON: All right. OK. We've been telling you about the high prices for gas, right, just going through the roof. Check out one of our I-Reports. It's from Frans Van Gosliga. He's talking about Yosemite National Park. He took a picture of the sign there -- $4.75. That's for regular. He's from California. He said near San Francisco. And he stayed at the park for four days.

When he drove by the sign on Friday, he said he had to take a photo. He says near San Francisco, where he is, it's about $3.99 for a gallon of gas. But Brianna says that's because it's a monopoly...

KEILAR: Well, yes...

LEMON: ...because when you go up there to Yosemite, right, that's the last stop.

KEILAR: Sure. I mean if this is one of your last stops, it's like sort of, right, the last gas station before you go up the mountain to the ski slope. They can make you pay that because you don't have a choice. You need gas.

LEMON: FYI -- she likes to camp and she goes...

KEILAR: I've been to Yosemite a couple times.

LEMON: And she also likes NASCAR.

KEILAR: I have experienced this.

LEMON: So she knows all about it, yes.

KEILAR: Now you're telling all my secrets.


KEILAR: But, yes, it does get expensive there.

LEMON: I'll keep it quiet.

Thank you, Frans Van Gosliga.

And if you want to send an I-Report, just go to or go onto the CNN Web site and you can send your I-Report, as well. And you may be able to get on the air like Frans.

LEMON: Let's turn to business now and oil prices. They are soaring to a new record high and that brings down stocks along the way.

Stephanie Elam at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at the reasons why and the bad news about what it means for all of us, including Frans, who's paying that much money for gas already.

Stef, tell us about it.


I can relate to Frans since I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area. I feel that same way about the Pacific Coast Highway. There's a gas station that you just feel like you've got to pay, because you don't want to be stuck out there. Pretty as it is, you don't want to be stuck.

So let's take a look at what oil did today. It settled at $119.97 a barrel. Yes, that's right. That's a new record high. And it even topped $120 for the first time earlier today.

Once again, a weakening dollar is to blame, as well as a supply outage in Nigeria. Many analysts say oil's advance is going to translate into even higher gas prices and most Americans, well, they believe the same.

Take a listen to this. A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows nearly all of those asked say gas will hit $4 a gallon this year. And -- this is kind of depressing -- more than three quarters say $5 for gas a gallon, yes, that's also likely.

Of course, many drivers in California and Hawaii are already paying $4, like Frans said. $3.99 -- it might as well be four bucks. But AAA says the national average for regular gas is $3.51 a gallon.


LEMON: Yes, Stef, I love how you go and it's $3.99.09 and you're like...

ELAM: Yes, right. Exactly.

LEMON: Well, hello. That's $4.

ELAM: Once I break a $5 bill, it's all gone. So, you know, the way I see it, it's just about five bucks, right?

LEMON: All right, Stef Elam.

Thank you very much for that.

ELAM: Sure.

KEILAR: It is 38 after the hour here in THE NEWSROOM.

Three of the stories that we are working on.

First up, just minutes ago, Laura Bush lashed out at Myanmar's government. Myanmar also known as Burma. Lashing out at them in the aftermath of a cyclone that reportedly killed more than 10,000 people. The first lady says the victims had no warning -- the latest sign that Myanmar's military rulers aren't looking out for their people.

And a deadly attack today on Iraqi soldiers in a volatile province near Baghdad. The U.S. military says al Qaeda-linked insurgents killed 10 of them and wounded 13 at a checkpoint.

The hunt, meanwhile, for a suspected Philadelphia cop killer is now expanding to New Jersey. Police are searching south of Newark for Eric Floyd, one of the suspects who allegedly gunned down Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski with an assault rifle on Saturday. Another suspect is behind bars. Police shot a third suspect dead.

LEMON: All right. We have seen this, but it's terrible. The thrill of victory eclipsed by the agony at the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown's big win on Saturday overshadowed by the death of Eight Belles. The filly came in second and was euthanized right there on the track after she broke both ankles. Among the questions being asked today, should a female have been in the race at all?

Was something wrong with the track? Of course, another big question -- are the breeders to blame for this? Are horses being bred for speed without regard for their health?

The racing community has looked into that one and here's what a horse doctor told CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING".


DR. RICK ARTHUR, EQUINE MEDICAL DOCTOR: The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has held two welfare and safety summits in the two last two-and-a-half years, or a year-and-a-half, looking at this specific issue. And one of them is, has the breed changed?

Geneticists tell us that the breed can't change that quickly. Many of us don't believe that's the case. These horses are like Indy race cars -- they are designed for speed, not durability. And there has been a change in the emphasis in breeding having to do with the commercial market for yearlings and 2-year-olds. Brilliance is selected over durability.


LEMON: Well, for every famous horse that runs itself to death, like Eight Belles and Barbaro, there are many more you don't hear about. "The Washington Post" cites studies suggesting almost two career ending breakdowns occur for every thousand starts on U.S. race tracks. That's about two breakdowns in a day.

KEILAR: Well, they see it all and they see it up close and personal. We are talking about CNN producers -- very much in the trenches in this 2008 presidential season. We'll get some insights you can hear only here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: All right, topping our Political Ticker today, yet another Super Tuesday -- super in the sense North Carolina and Indiana might be the turning points that so many other states could have been but weren't.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are stumping in both states ahead of tomorrow's primaries. One hundred eighty-seven delegates are at stake and every single one of them counts.

CNN is bringing you special Ballot Bowl coverage all day today.

If Hillary Clinton wins the support of a certain North Carolina superdelegate, she can thank her husband. Bill Clinton shared a pew yesterday with Congressman Heath Shuler. The freshman Democrat represents a big chunk of mountainous Western North Carolina. Despite the Clinton wooing, the former University of Tennessee quarterback is expected to comment -- to commit, I should say, to whoever carries his district.

He's not used to be on the sidelines, but that's where John McCain was last night. Cheering on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix. The presumptive GOP nominee was shown on the big screen at one point. There he is right there giving the thumbs up. He got a few cheers and a smattering of boos, as well. Oh, well.

All the latest campaign news is at your fingertips. Just go to We also have analysis from the best political team on television. It's all there at

KEILAR: Whether it's war or politics, CNN producers are embedded in the trenches and up in the air. Right now, Alexander Marquardt is on a plane with the Clinton campaign, heading to Merrillville, Indiana.

Actually, I just found out that he just landed.

And he's joining us now -- which makes sense.

How would he talk to us on the plane?

LEMON: I guess.

KEILAR: All right, he's joining us now on the phon.

So, Alex can you hear me?


KEILAR: So, you know, this campaign has just been going on for such a long time. But we couldn't help but notice today Hillary Clinton seemed particularly energized.

What is the mood there?

MARQUARDT: It's pretty good. It's cautiously optimistic. The campaign likes where they are. They the movement in the polls. They keep casting themselves as the underdog. They've seen poll numbers closing in on Barack Obama in North Carolina, as well as Indiana.

So I'd say that they are -- they are pretty happy with where they are right now. And you could actually sense that in Hillary Clinton's news. She did the morning shows this morning and she's doing five events today. She's -- she's going for it.

KEILAR: So, Alex, if you look at CNN's latest poll of polls, there is an 8 point difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in terms of North Carolina, in his favor.

And I'm just wondering if Clinton staffers are thinking that she might be able to keep this race close there in North Carolina.

MARQUARDT: I think you'll find that their attitude -- and I was talking to some of her advisers this morning and they were telling me that their attitude toward North Carolina is kind of the same as Barack Obama's was toward Pennsylvania, in that they don't expect to win, but they just want to close the gap. If they get within striking distance, if they narrow it down to single digits, down to around the 5 percent range, that's good for them. I mean he had a major lead just a couple weeks ago, as high as 20 points. And now she's within about eight to 10.

So the narrative of this story could become well, we cut the lead down in a state where he was heavily favored, where we were heavily outspent and we did well. We didn't win, but we cut into it, we're slowing down his momentum and picking up our own.

KEILAR: So something we've seen on both sides there, minimizing an expected win, this time expected for Barack Obama in North Carolina.

Let's talk now about Indiana. We have another CNN Poll of Polls that shows Clinton leading Obama with a four point lead.

What are they expecting here? What are -- what is Clinton's campaign expecting?

MARQUARDT: Well, I think that Indiana is really the real question. No one really knows what to expect. People have -- both candidates have jumped all around in the polls.

Earlier on, Clinton was -- early on -- I mean they've really just -- they really jumped around quite a bit. Obama most recently held the lead. Now we're seeing Clinton numbers surpassing his. So it's really tough to tell. But that really is the state to be watching, because no one expects her to win North Carolina. They really -- you know, they -- Obama is certainly going to win that state.

So the question is, how does she do in Indiana?

She has to do well in Indiana. Some would say she has to take Indiana in order to stay in the race.

KEILAR: All right. And we know you will be watching. Producer Alexander Marquardt, normally behind-the-scenes. Thank you for stepping into the spotlight for us today.

And, of course, Alex and the other political journalists at CNN cannot head home yet, I should say. Once North Carolina and Indiana are in the rearview mirror, the candidates then turn to West Virginia, where the Democrats vote May 13. Oregon and Kentucky are holding primaries May 20. The final primaries are June 3 in Montana and South Dakota.

You can be the first to know the results in tomorrow's primaries. Sign up for CNN breaking news e-mail alerts and you'll know when we know. Again, just sign up at

LEMON: Well, police have released two suicide notes by convicted D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. She was facing up to eight years in prison when she wrote separate notes to her sister and her mother that included an order not to revive her. Palfrey likened her case to a modern day lynching and predicted she'd be broken, penniless and alone when she got out of prison. Palfrey hanged herself Thursday in a shed of her mother's home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

The manhunt for a third Philadelphia cop killer suspect has gone north. Police are searching railroad tracks around Newark, New Jersey. They've spotted nearly a dozen transit trains looking for Eric Floyd. Now, he's wanted in the death of Officer Stephen Liczbinski, who was shot and killed responding to a bank robbery. Police killed one suspect and have another one in custody.

KEILAR: Take a look. That is not Santa Claus coming down through that vent, I'll let you know. It is a burglar who, thankfully, got busted before he got deep fried.


KEILAR: Caught on camera and caught between a rock and a hot place in Florida -- check out what happened when a burglar got stuck in a restaurant vent in Jacksonville. His foot just inches away from the fryer and all of that hot grease. And it took rescuers, Don, more than two hours to get him loose. Now that he's out, you could say, yes, the law is holding his feet to the fire.

LEMON: Oh, boy.

KEILAR: Yuck, yuck, yuck.

LEMON: Ha-ha-ha.

And what's behind that one right there, that truck gate?

Well, let's have a look.

How about 1,200 pounds -- 1,200 pounds of neatly packed marijuana. Police in Baytown, Texas found this load of pot abandoned on the side of Interstate 10. Right now, they have no idea who left it.

KEILAR: And the closing bell -- I don't know even know what to say after that.

LEMON: They can't remember.

KEILAR: I know.

The closing bell and play ball next. More of your singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" this year.


LEMON: OK. We have some breaking news into the CNN NEWSROOM. This coming to us from Hialeah, Florida, courtesy our affiliate, WSVN. Our other affiliate, WFOR, is reporting shots fired there during an armor -- apparently part of an armored truck robbery in front of the Westland Mall. That's what it's called there, Westland Mall in Hialeah, Florida.

Police say the robbery occurred in front of the JCPenney location, which is on the 49th Street side, if you are in that area.

After the robbery, again, according to WFOR, the shooter escaped through the mall's parking lot to a waiting car that took off along State Road 826, the Palmetto Expressway, they say. Police said that no one was injured and they say don't believe -- they're not exactly sure how much money there. The schools are not on lockdown, but, again, a frightening scene for folks who were at that mall. Just seconds ago, we saw them searching people's trunks and people leaving the mall there.

But, again, during -- you see the armored car there. Apparently some sort of robbery. Police are chasing. The person is still on the loose. If this develops into anything, we'll bring it to you on CNN tonight on "THE SITUATION ROOM" and in prime if it develops.

Right now, we want to go to the closing bell on Wall Street, right?

KEILAR: Yes, that's right.

Stephanie Elam is standing by with a final look at the trading day -- Stef.


ELAM: You fine people have a fine evening.

LEMON: You too, thanks, Stef.

ELAM: Thanks.

KEILAR: Thank you, Stephanie.

And let's head now to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer.