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Tornadoes Hit Seven States; Preventing Another Meltdown; Feud Over Okinawa; Camping Out for a Job; Murders in Chicago

Aired April 26, 2010 - 09:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much. Let me give you all a peek of what we are working on here in the NEWSROOM over the next couple of hours.


RON SULLIVAN, SURVIVOR: Hear the train. There was no train. There was a bomb.


HOLMES: A bomb is what's being described as. And it was dropped by a severe weather system. It left deep wounds across the southeast, mainly in Mississippi where lives were lost, property damaged and help now is on the way.

Also they are camping out in Queens. They are not waiting on tickets to a Mets game. Hundreds of people, they are roughing it on the streets to get their hands on job applications. That door opens in about 30 minutes. We'll be checking in there live.

Also, he is probably the only Everest climber who has to stop and do some homework. We are checking in on 13-year-old kid here. We talked to him about a week ago. He is trying to make it to the top of the world. We'll see where he is now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I watched movies before where they do the special effects and somebody is sucked back into a vacuum. And then they -- I was in that vacuum. It's real.


HOLMES: It's real, folks. All too real for people in the southeast especially in Mississippi. Tornadoes ripped through seven states over the weekend. We're telling you about Mississippi being hard hit. In particular, 10 people were killed there, among them two children and a three-month-old baby.

Another two deaths to report over in Alabama. Now we have reports of dozens of people injured as well. We are still counting the number of homes that are damaged or destroyed but certainly in the hundreds right now. We have seen so many different stories to come out of this weather story. We have heard witnesses describe seeing a woman dying in a ditch beside the body of her dead husband. Why? Because ambulances could not get to her in time because of downed trees.

Another story of a man who was actually in a church and he was saved after climbing under a communion table. It turns out that communion table was the only thing left standing at that church.

So many stories we're still hearing about coming out of really what was a horrific weekend for people in the southeast.

Our Ed Lavandera is -- may be at the hardest hit area. Yazoo City.

Ed, hello. I guess, daylight, we've been seeing these pictures. But they -- really, the daytime, you start to really understand just how much this area went through.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's powerful, T.J. One of the things that's really been hard to kind of grasp on this tornado coverage is just how wide of an area that has been affected.

We are here in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Imagine this is one of the bookends of this storm. And you go -- we drove about 100 miles to the northeast of here to Choctaw County, that's the other bookend. That tornado cut a 1.75 mile wide path in some places between those two counties.

Four people died here. Five people died up there. And that -- specifically we went looking for the street where those three young girls were killed.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): We found Matthew McCray and his wife Jo on a back road in Choctaw County, Mississippi. Their house blown 40 feet off the foundation. His guitars muddied but it's days like this that inspired the Mississippi blues.

(On camera): What was it like being in there when this happened?

JO MCCRAY, SURVIVORS: Just that quick -- it sent woof and woof again and the roof was off.

LAVANDERA: Was it incredibly scary?

J. MCCRAY: I just started praying, asking the Lord to save me. Save me. I told my husband, look in my eyes, honey, I don't believe (INAUDIBLE).

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Along this dirt road, the tornado killed its three youngest victims, two sisters and a three-month-old baby girl.

(On camera): This is where 13-year-old Britney Job (ph) and her 9- year-old sister Tayan (ph) were killed here. They were here with their parents when the storm hit. The force of the storm so powerful it essentially disintegrated their mobile home. It was thrown beyond tree line right over there.

The girls' grandfather tells us that their bodies were found back in the woods over here.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ron Sullivan and five others were able to walk out of this grocery store.

RON SULLIVAN, SURVIVOR: There is a Coke machine that's turned over that kept that roof from falling on me so --

LAVANDERA (on camera): Can we go see it?

SULLIVAN: Certainly. And I never touched the ground. That's it.

LAVANDERA: Was it always back over there?

SULLIVAN: No. When it hit, it blew me back. The next thing I felt was that wall and myself falling backwards. They always talk about you hear the train. There was no train. There was a bomb.

LAVANDERA: What goes through your mind when something like this is happening?

SULLIVAN: The only thing that went through my mind, two things. Please don't let anything else fall on me and I hope my wife is OK.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): His wife Peggy was just a few feet away.

(On camera): When the tornado struck here it launched that 5,000 pound gasoline tank into the back of the grocery story. It rolled this way. Peggy Sullivan was standing right behind this white freezer. The tank lodged up against it and saved her life, keeping her from getting crushed.


LAVANDERA: Hey, T.J., in the preliminary information from the National Weather Services that this tornado had winds of -- at sometimes up to 175 miles per hour. That is well into a category 5 hurricane strength winds and this is a -- was a Baptist church.

And you heard that man talk about how it was like a bomb going off. And this is essentially the same thing that happened here. That the people described that pressure being so intense that like something was falling down upon you here and the walls just erupting and shattering.

And that's exactly what you see behind me here -- T.J.

HOLMES: Unbelievable. Ed Lavandera, we appreciate you. I know you're hearing a lot more stories. We'll continue to check in with you throughout the day here on CNN.

Let's go and turn over to Rob Marciano now. Rob, I guess we're dealing with the aftermath there of this storm. But still other people with -- it is the same storm system now that got other people under the gun.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. And it was so -- it's so slow moving. This long track tornado really an amazing thing.

Want to show you how long of a track it was, 97 miles. And then it may even go longer than that as far as the individual cell goes.

As Ed mentioned, they upgraded it to an EF 4 tornado which means winds of at least 165 miles an hour, they're thinking over 170, EF 4. Rated it devastating and certainly weve seen the effects of that. At one point, some of the width of this thing, a 1.75 of a mile long.

That's what it looked like on Saturday. Here's what it looks like today. The center of the low heading up towards the northeast. We don't expect severe weather there but the tail end of the front has produced some severe weather across parts of south Florida.

You see that line of thunderstorms rolling across alligator alley. There were a couple of tornado warnings out earlier today but they have since been allowed to expire.

We do expect more thunderstorms today, some wind and rain across parts of the northeast. But nothing like what we saw over the weekend. And that's good news. But later in the week, T.J., another severe weather setup looks like is going to take place. We'll continue to monitor that situation.

HOLMES: Well, it is that season, unfortunately.

All right, Rob, we appreciate as always. Thanks so much.

Well, you remember that controversial law that was just passed out in Arizona the governor signed about immigration. Well, someone is saying ignore the law now. It's an Arizona congressman who is saying that.

You see these pictures here. These are from protesters over the weekend. Protesters who were out in force again on Saturday. They are upset over that law which requires police officers to check citizenship. It also calls on police to turn over anyone without papers to federal agents.

But the congressman, Raul Grijalva wants President Obama to tell those federal agents to ignore the law. He also wants the Justice Department to check if the law is even legal.

We'll have more on this story -- much more coming up next hour.

Well, crews are still trying to stop a pretty big oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico right now. It is coming from the pipeline beneath the oil rig that exploded and sank last week.

You're some of those pictures from last week. About 42,000 gallons are leaking out every single day. And the leak is about a mile down. Now they're using unmanned submarines right now to try to shut off those valves. They should know if they have succeeded by this time tomorrow.

Right now, there's an oil slick around the size of Houston, Texas on top of that water. Also, the oil is still about a good 40 miles from the coast of Louisiana. So they believe they have enough time maybe to try to clean it up before there is an even bigger disaster.

President Obama said they lived and died in pursuit of the American dream. He gave the eulogy at yesterday's memorial for 29 workers killed in that April 5th West Virginia coalmine explosion.

Before the ceremony, the president and the vice president met privately with the workers families.

Massey Energy of Virginia owns the Upper Big Branch mine. Its CEO holds a news conference about 25 minutes from now.

We will monitor that for you.

Well, the investigation of Goldman Sachs is now under investigation.

Stay with me here.

The inspector general for the Securities and Exchange Commission says he will investigate the SEC's decision to investigate the fraud charges against the Wall Street banker.

The inspector general says he's undertaking this probe because of allegations raised by several Republican congressmen.

Goldman Sachs executive testifies before a Senate committee tomorrow. And the committee is looking into the role of investment banks in the financial crisis.

Well, preventing another meltdown on Wall Street, both Democrats and Republicans say that's a top priority on Capitol Hill. And both parties say a compromise deal is close. But today, that bipartisan spirit being tested just a bit before the debate gets under way.

Our CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us now.

Suzanne, we always here this, both sides say, yes, we are for this. We are for that reform but we disagree on how to go about doing it. So is that going to be the problem here again?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., obviously this is going to play out. There will be several different turns before you get to the final passage here. But I had a chance to talk to the president's top economic advisers Larry Summers as well as Austan Goolsbee late last week. They both seem pretty optimistic that this is going to get through before Memorial Day.

But of course what we're going to see this afternoon is the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is going to at least try this test vote to see if they can get to debating this. And it's not certain at all, T.J., whether or not they have Republican support to move this thing forward.

And what White House aides are telling me is that President Obama has learned a couple of lessons from this health care debate. And that is, don't let the opposition, don't let the Republicans, shape the debate or the message. Get on it and get ahead of it.

And that's why we've heard from the president on Saturday -- his radio and Internet address -- where he said, look, you saw the auto industry. It had tanked. It's come rolling back. Here's what needs to happen with those big banks. They are going to reemerge, they'll be stronger. But they also have to be held accountable.

Here is how he put it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These reforms will put an end once and for all to taxpayer bailouts. It would bring greater transparency to complex financial dealings and they will empower ordinary consumers and shareholders in our financial system.


MALVEAUX: So, T.J., what's next? Whether or not this goes forward or not today, the president is going to be taking his message on the road. We're going to be traveling with him tomorrow.

He's going to go to Iowa, will make three different stops, he'll be talking to farmers, small business owners. He'll have a town hall meeting and he heads to Missouri as well as Illinois.

Obviously he is trying to build some momentum here and make the case that this can be done, it can be done quickly, and that it will ultimately be good for the American people.

HOLMES: Yes, and a lot of people will certainly say, you want to make a case against Wall Street, take it to main street where Wall Street isn't too popular.

But the president, of course -- we had a long year of health care reform and that debate last year. Financial reform is on the table now. But is there kind of a debate within the White House about exactly what should be next on the agenda?

MALVEAUX: Well, there certainly is. Because you had mentioned before, we saw that whole piece about Arizona's new tough immigration law for illegal immigrants. And clearly, there have been people who've been trying desperately to get this White House -- this president -- more involved in immigration reform.

He has been somewhat involved behind the scenes but now they look at the Arizona law and they figure this is the time, because a lot of people are angry, upset, it is very divisive, to get involved in immigration reform.

A lot of Hispanics are going to be looking to see what this administration does, the Democrats as well for those midterm elections. And so they are putting immigration reform, bumping it up a notch or two. That has upset some people who want to see climate change first. The White House says they think they can do both -- T.J..

HOLMES: All right. Suzanne, for us at the White House. Suzanne, we appreciate you as always.

Well, a lot of people out there will be familiar. I think Trojan makes a brand but Pope Benedict brand condoms? Someone in Britain's foreign office thought that was a good idea. Where do you think that employee has ended up now?

Yes, there's an apology from his bosses, though. An updated travel plans from the Vatican. Stay with us.


HOLMES: A symbolic first flight landed in London late last night. And it came from Iraq. The Baghdad to London route was abandoned 20 years ago in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. That was the first Gulf War.

The sanctions remained in place until last night when the Iraqi Airways flight was actually supposed to make the trip nine days ago but the volcanic ash cloudy delayed departure. They'll fly two flights a week.

Well, Britain also apologizing to the Pope for a really, really bad joke. The joke was in a memo that was from the British Foreign Office with suggestions for what Pope Benedict should do during a trip to Britain this September.

Among those suggestions was launching a line of Pope Benedict condoms, also starting a child abuse hotline and opening an abortion clinic. The Foreign Office called the memo foolish and says the person who wrote it is being reassigned.


JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Obviously, this was someone's idea of a joke and I think it would probably be a mistake to sort of over interpret it. But I do think it probably reflects a couple of points. You know, one is, obviously, Great Britain is a very secular society in which there is a lot of people who do not accept many of the positions of the Catholic Church and may be inclined to poke fun at them.

The other, I think, is particularly in the wake of the recent global sexual abuse crisis that has been swirling around the pontificant of Benedict the XVI. He probably has lost some of the traditional deference that a Pope would enjoy which, quite honestly, makes it easier for some to sort of take shots at him.


HOLMES: The Vatican says as far as they're concerned, the case is closed and the Pope's trip to England and Scotland will go on as planned.

We have been talking about an awful lot of what happened in Mississippi.

But Rob, as we know, Alabama got hit pretty hard as well over the weekend.


HOLMES: All right. We appreciate you. As always, Rob, we'll check in with you again here shortly. And we will also check our top stories in about 90 seconds. Stay here.


HOLMES: Well, taking a look at stories making headline this hour.

The cleanup is going on in seven states right now. FEMA teams on the ground in Mississippi which was hardest hit over a weekend by a tornado. At least 10 people killed there. There's a 50-mile-long path of destruction for a storm they say was about a mile wide wind speeds were up to 175 miles an hour.

Also today on Capitol Hill, a key vote on reforming the rules of Wall Street. Republicans and Democrats say it's essential to pass safeguards that would prevent another financial meltdown. But this 50 point might be timing. Two sides close to a compromise. And the Democrats want to begin debate today. The Republicans say they're not ready just yet and are vowing to block that debate from getting under way.

Also the investigation of Goldman Sachs is now under investigation. Stay with me. The inspector general for the Securities and Exchange Commission says he will investigate the SEC's decision to pursue fraud charges against the Wall Street banker. Goldman Sachs execs testify before a Senate committee tomorrow.

We'll be right back. Stay there.


HOLMES: Well, all they want the Americans to go home. This cry is coming from America's closest allies -- one of America's ally in Asia. Thousands of Japanese calling on the U.S. military to give up its base on Okinawa. It's looking more and more like the issue could cost the Japanese prime minister his job.

Our Kyung Lah with the story.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A fight over the future of a U.S. military base in Okinawa has hit the tipping point for residents and now threatens the political future of Japan's prime minister.


LAH (voice-over): Nearly 100,000 people rallied in Okinawa demanding the Futenma air force base move off the island. In 2006 the U.S. and Japan agreed to move the base from a city center to a more rural part of Okinawa.

But the prime minister in a campaign promise said he wanted to move it outside of Okinawa altogether. The future of the base has been hanging in limbo ever since and Okinawans who voted overwhelmingly for the prime minister say he must keep his promise and get the U.S. base out.

"I'm hear because I believe together we can change this," says this protester. 23,000 U.S. troops are based in Okinawa. Residents have long complained the overwhelming military presence leads to crimes from rape to drunk driving.

But the U.S. says Japan's government should live up to the 2006 agreement. For months now Prime Minister Hatoyama hasn't been able to satisfy the U.S., praying the U.S.-Japan relationship and now all the foot dragging has dragged down his approval ratings at home.

In a new poll out today, two out of three Japanese say they disapprove of the prime minister. And 59 percent say he should resign if there is no deal with the U.S. by the end of next month.

KEITH HENRY, ASIA STRATEGY: Mr. Hatoyama has failed completely as a Japanese politician as the leader of this country to take control of that issue. What ha -- should have been a regional issue within Okinawa has now become a national referendum on Hatoyama himself and very, very unfortunately a referendum on state of U.S./Japan relations.


LAH: Turning up the heat even more, Okinawans are taking their protest to the U.S. this full page ad will run in "The Washington Post" this week. The ad says, tell the Obama administration, we don't need this base in Okinawa.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.

HOLMES: Well, they have been camping out under the stars in New York. Look at this. Why hundreds of people have pitched tents on a city sidewalk. A live picture of it now. The tents are gone. That's who has been camping out. That long line. We'll explain what they are trying to get their hands on in just a moment.


HOLMES: Well, it's been quite a ride on Wall Street. The Dow posted eighth straight weekly gain. Haven't seen a streak that long in six years.

Stephanie Elam is your conductor on this wild train ride. She is there in New York.

Good to see you. Good morning. The bell goes off. The timing works perfectly.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was really good stuff there, T.J. I thought maybe they're just cheering because they're happy to see you on this Monday morning.

HOLMES: That ain't is.

ELAM: Yes.


ELAM: Yes, but you know what? We do have some good things that are happening here as far as Wall Street is concerned. Strong economic and earnings reports make it all the difference. So far, earnings more than 80 percent. If you take a look at the earnings, more than 80 percent of S&P 500 companies have come in better than expectations. Today, adding to that list, Caterpillar, the heavy equipment maker swung to a $200 million profit last quarter, and boosted its outlook. CAT's CEO says economic conditions are improving, and in some parts of the world, orders are at record levels.

Now, CAT machines are used in so many industries that it's results actually give us a clue as to how the broader economy is doing. Caterpillar shares were up in a free market, off slightly right now, but still, we will be keeping our eyes on them today. Now, in another positive signs, the government will start selling part of its stake in City Group, and it's going make a profit along the way. The treasury will start by selling 1.5 billion shares which it bought in 2008 as part of those bank bailouts.

Now, since Citi shares have rhythm (ph), the government stands to make a profit of nearly $2.5 billion at today's price. Taking a look now at the early numbers, hey, you know, I just realized, I looked at Citi stock. Citi stock is down 1 percent, but Caterpillar stock is up about 3.5 percent. So, they are doing having a good day here. All right. Taking a look at the early numbers, the Dow up five points, 11,210, Nasdaq, off just barely 2,528. Also today, we got a little merger Monday action for you, T.J. Hertz is buying Dollar Thrifty for more than $1 billion. That's also helping to boost sentiment today, even though, they're doing a little bit of that flat line dance as you said you don't know nothing about.

HOLMES: No, nothing about. Hertz is merging with who again?

ELAM: Dollar thrifty. They are buying them.

HOLMES: OK. That doesn't mean the car I want is going to be available any time soon.

ELAM: They're going to keep the Dollar Thrifty brand, they're saying. So, that's still be there. So, if you are a big Dollar guy, you'll be good.

HOLMES: You know me.

ELAM: Yes.

HOLMES: All right. Stephanie, good to see you as always. Thank you so much.

ELAM: Thanks.

HOLMES: Also in New York, she just told us about some of the profits being up and a positive economic outlook. A different sign across the way in New York. This is a stark reminder just how desperate some people are for work and how they don't see the economy getting any better. Over the weekend, hundreds of people camped out on city sidewalks for a shot at a job application, not the actual job, just the application that would put them in the running. CNN's Ines Ferre is in Queens for us. Ines, set this scene for us and explain to people one more time exactly what everybody us out there lined up for.

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, T.J. These people are here lined up for an application. 750 applications that are going to be given out for elevator mechanic jobs, and they're going to be giving out 100 elevator mechanic jobs. And these folks here have been here through the weekend, since Friday, that a lot of these folks have been here. Chris, you've been here since Friday. Tell us about your situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My situation is, I'm only 22 years old so I'm trying to start my life, start it early, I guess. Basically, I came out with a couple of friends. I wasn't doing it on my own but you get a couple of people to hang out with you and you make it into an interesting night, interesting weekend, actually.

FERRE: Yes, you guys had tents out here earlier. You had chairs and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, everything, and especially because when you came early, you sitting there alone, you start making friends on the line. Next thing you know, it becomes like a small little family going thing.

FERRE: OK, and you've never done any kind of elevator mechanic work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I actually went to a vocational high school for electrical installation. So, I got a little electrical in the background, but that was three years ago.

FERRE: Good luck, today.

And T.J., this is an apprentice program. So these folks would get this application, they take a test and then they'd be interviewed for this job and they'll select these 100 people. Four years where they're going to have school, they'll have a job, they'll be working during the day, 16.50 an hour starting salary. So, a lot of these folks here told me, you know, this is my shot at getting a job right now in this kind of economy, and the line just opened up. They just opened the doors to get those applications -- T.J. HOLMES: And if you can Ines, quickly, we kind of get a sense of it there, but all these guys essentially standing in line with hundreds of other guys who are their competition, but everybody seems to have a sense that they're in the same boat. Everybody is pretty orderly and sounds like they're making friends even?

FERRE: Yes, that's exactly the way it is. And in fact, the folks at the beginning of the line also, they had this whole cluster going. And they're like, we know exactly our place in line. We know who's first, second, third, fourth. They have security in this area as well. The union has security right here. As you can see, there are also cops in the area. They just want to make sure that everything is very orderly and so far, it has been -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Ines Ferre, we appreciate you showing that to us and also appreciate you bringing us Chris there who has summed it up. He is looking to start his life, a young man. A lot of people trying to do that, start their lives in a really tough economy. So, thank you so much for bringing him to us as well.

We want to turn out to Chicago where some are suggesting that the National Guard troops should be on the way. Two state lawmakers want them there in response to the high rate of violent crime. The police say that's not necessary. There have been more than 100 murders in Chicago so far this year. Lawmakers say police are stretched thin, can't afford to hire new officers, so National Guard troops could fill those gaps.


LAWSHAWN FORD, (D) ILLINOIS STATE HOUSE: The U.S. troops have been winning the hearts and minds in Iraq. They stabilized those communities. They made those communities much better from the time that they went in and now those communities are safe and we're saying, that's what we want right here in Illinois.

SUPT. JODY WEIS, CHICAGO POLICE DEPT.: Let's go back to 1970, you know, at Kent state. National Guard comes in, four students shot, killed. I don't think we want that here in Chicago.


HOLMES: Chicago's police superintendent says he's already putting together a new quick strike force of about 100 officers to combat that violence.

The president, he speaks a lot to the American people, but he narrowed his audience not too long ago talking to his supporters in particular. Are they going to listen?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you help us do that, if you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November, and together, we will deliver on the promise of change and hope and prosperity for generations to come. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: So exactly why does the president feel the need right now to rally the troops months before an election? You can probably guess why. We're going to take a look at this morning's message to the party faithful. Stay here.


HOLMES: Some of the stories making headlines this hour. Cleanup under way after tornadoes ripped through the south over the weekend. You're taking a look at some of the videos, some of the damage there. At least ten people dead in Mississippi, among them, three children, including a three-month-old baby. Dozens more have been injured. We're still counting the number of homes and businesses destroyed, but that number is in the hundreds.

Also, we'll turn to West Virginia now where President Obama said they lived and died in pursuit of the American dream. He gave the eulogy at yesterday's memorial for 29 workers killed on that April 5th West Virginia coal miner explosion. He also met privately with the worker's families. The CEO of the mining company is holding a news conference right now. We are monitoring that for you.

And on Capitol Hill, timing, pretty much everything. Senate Republicans and Democrats have been inching closer to a deal on Wall Street reform but that superior (ph) compromise is taking a hit today. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has scheduled a late afternoon vote to move the bill ahead, but Republicans say they're not ready just yet. So, they're threatening to block today's debate so negotiations can continue.

Florida governor, Charlie Crist, conservatives have turned against him. His own party has turned away from him. And now, he may have to make a decision that could have a huge impact in his swing state and beyond. Stay here.


HOLMES: President Obama is calling on his supporters to get ready for the midterm elections later this year. And the video released earlier this morning, he worn that losing Congress of (ph) Republicans will be a major blow to the goals of his presidency and those who elected him.


OBAMA: It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again. If you help us do that, if you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November, then together, we will deliver on the promise of change and hope and prosperity for generations to come.


HOLMES: President Obama says one key to the Democrat's success will be energizing the first-time voters that helped him win in 2008. He says health insurance companies and Wall Street firms are already mobilizing to get Republicans elected.

HOLMES: One Republican that is not getting a whole lot of support from Republicans is Charlie Crist. He was a rising star in the Republican party, but he's now a target of angry conservatives and tea party activist. So this week, the Florida governor will consider becoming an independent to reshape his Senate campaign in the states and in all important states. Our John Zarrella explains.


JOHN ZARELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 2008, Charlie Crist is on top of the world. The Republican governor of Florida, Crist's approval rating, near 70 percent. He was thought to be on John McCain's vice presidential short list.

If you were asked, what would you say?

CHARLIE CRIST, GOVERNOR: Well, I've got to continue to work hard as the governor of Florida, and I haven't been asked. So, it's really kind of moot at this point.

ZARELLA: Incredibly, Crist's political future may soon be a moot point.

ZARELLA (on-camera): So what happened, how did it all blow up? Crist decided to run for Florida's vacant Senate seat. He was a shoe-in. But now, whole show, he wouldn't make it out of his own party's primary. Down more than 20 percent to conservative, Marco Rubio, former State House Speaker.

CHARLES ZELDEN, HISTORY PROFESSOR: Ultimately, he made the decision that he wanted as many federal dollars he can get for the state even if it meant embracing Obama which really invigoratively (ph) and that really hurt him with his base.

ZARELLA (voice-over): The hug and supporting the stimulus infuriated conservatives and started Crist's free-fall. The final straw, when he vetoed a Republican backed education bill. Party leaders urged him to get out of the race. The people's governor as he likes to be called said appropriately --

CRIST: I think I'll take the advice of people in Florida instead of the advice of people in Washington.

ZARRELLA: That advice has Crist at least thinking about running as an independent.

CRIST: I want to make sure that as best I can, I get it right.

ZARRELLA: There is one problem, money. Where will it come from with Republicans abandoning him like he's got the plague?

Bob Wachter (ph) is a former County Party Chairman and long-time Crist friend. BOB WACHTER, FORMER COUNTY PARTY CHAIRMAN: I know personally of folks that are talking about raising very large sums of money for Charlie. They are poised to move.

ZARRELLA: Millions, Wachter says but it's all contingent on one thing.

WACHTER: If he were to leave the Republican Party, I would have to think long and hard.

ZARRELLA: Political observers think he might win over enough Democrats and moderate Republicans to make a three-way general election interesting.

ZELDEN: He can say, "Look, I even went against my party's wishes for the good of the state. I brought in money we needed here in Florida. That's a heck of a sales pitch.

ZARRELLA: The people's governor just might become the people's senator.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in our John Zarrella now. And John, we see this all the time, right? In the primary season, you've got to be far to the right or you've got to the left. You can't be centrist or you get left outside.

So what is he going to have to do now? Is he going to keep looking at these poll numbers and just have to make the call? There is no way I am going to make it out of a Republican primary, so independent I am.

ZARRELLA: Well, that's it. He is not going to make it out of the Republican primary. That's pretty clear. And the party has basically said, look, we don't want you in the senate race. Marco Rubio is our guy. That's the bottom line.

The governor has to weigh two important things. Would he have a chance to win in a general primary? He has to make that decision if he thinks he can. And can he raise enough money to compete in a state where you have to have a tremendous amount of dollars for TV ads in markets like Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, very expensive state?

Those are the key things that he's weighing this week and based on what he finally decides once he has weighed those factors will determine more than likely whether he runs as an independent or just drops out entirely.

HOLMES: Yes and quickly here, one of those factors, that factor about whether or not he can win, the polls show he would at least be competitive, right? In a three-way race if he was an independent.

ZARRELLA: Oh absolutely. And the key for Charlie Crist is moderate Republicans, get some Democrats. Pull the Democrats that like you and always liked you and the moderate Republicans, you get that center and he's got a good chance.

HOLMES: Well, we appreciate you as always, kind sir. We'll talk to you again soon.

All right, let's bring in Rob Marciano now, keeping an eye on severe weather. And a rough weekend it was especially over the southeast but in particular Yazoo City.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, let's take a look at some of the iReports that are beginning to filter in now; some videos and pictures outside of the news media.

Thanks Timothy again, who sent these shots in, I mean, its trees just snapped like match sticks. You know this is an area that has a lot of pine forests and they were either debarked or completely snapped in half. Billboards down. And not to mention the hundreds of homes that were damaged or destroyed and the lives lost with this very, very slow-moving system.

And now at least the northern end of it is into the northeast. The southern end, down across parts of Florida which continues to see some rough weather, especially south Florida, across I-75, Alligator Alley.

This thunderstorm which earlier in the morning was just off Marco Island is now dubbed severe by the National Weather Service in this area. So, heavy rain, and some definite lightning and gusty winds could be 50-60 miles an hour as this thing heads across to Alligator Alley into Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Further to the north, just looking for light to moderate rain right now. Later on in the day as the storm intensifies, we'll probably see some thunderstorms and some heavier amounts of rain as the rain shield now beginning to stretch across Scranton and into the tri-state area.

So decent storm; as we know, it still has a decent amount of energy and about to go off shore and tap moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. So that will spawn not only some scattered thunderstorms but more so some heavy rain and ongoing wind will probably cause some coastal flooding if you live near the water. So be aware of that.

55 degrees expected in New York City; 67 degrees in Atlanta.

Finally tomorrow, we'll get it offshore. The next store that's now rolling across the Central Plains; this one not nearly as strong. Just a little bit of rain rolling across the Tennessee Valley tomorrow.

But the storm behind that one that's scheduled to get into the Pacific northwest in northern California tomorrow, that's got some punch to it. It will have some wind and higher elevation snows, much like the storm that lumbered across the Inner Mountain West around this time last week that spawned the severe weather over the weekend. This will probably set the stage for some severe weather and the potential for seeing tornados as we get to Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.

And as you mentioned, T.J., this is the time of year even though we have had a pretty slow start.


MARCIANO: We had over a hundred reports of tornados in the past four days that pretty much doubles our 2010 count. But were still well below average as far as where we would typically be up until now.

So we've got some catching up to do. Unfortunately we did so over the weekend. With this next storm coming in we'll probably see some more on Friday and Saturday.

HOLMES: Well, that's an interesting stat to keep things in perspective there at least. Rob, we appreciate you as always.


HOLMES: Oh he was considered a hero of the so-called hair bands but today Bret Michaels is fighting for his life and doctors are racing to save him.

Well, a presidential assassin hunted down on this day in history. April 26th, 1865 federal troops shot and killed John Wilkes Booth. He shot President Lincoln at Ford's Theater, 12 days earlier.

Also, 24 years ago we first heard about the world's worst nuclear accident; Chernobyl, an explosion in one of reactors released a radioactive cloud. More than a hundred thousand people had to be evacuated. It's hard to know exactly how many people were affected.

You know that music, you know the name, you know the face and you know the funny. On this date in 1989 we lost comedy legend Lucille Ball. She died at the age of 77.


HOLMES: Well, doctors could be racing against time right now to save the life of Bret Michaels. The rock singer and reality TV star is in critical condition after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on Friday. Update on his Web site says doctors are still trying to find the source of the bleeding in his brain. Michaels, who's 47 years old, was the front man for the 1980s band Poison and currently appears on the reality TV show, "Celebrity Apprentice".

As always, a whole lot going on in the CNN NEWSROOM; our crews have it covered for you. Let's check in with some of our correspondents beginning with Ines Ferre in New York. Hello, Ines.

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I'm here in Queens, New York, hundreds and hundreds of people line up for a shot at a job. I'll have that story coming up.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christine Romans in New York where the drama unfolds day by day into the investigation of Goldman Sachs. Now an investigation of the investigation and, in fact, new e- mails that show exactly what Goldman executives were thinking as the housing market tanked and some of their investments profited handsomely. I'll have that at the top of the hour.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Devastating tornados, the storm rolls to the east. We're going to have an update on how strong that one tornado was that ripped apart central Mississippi. That's at the top of the hour.

HOLMES: All right, Christine, Ines, Rob, we appreciate you all. We'll talk to you all here shortly.

Also ahead, a river tainted and toxic -- is it though from the factories that make up the Blue Jean capital of the world? We're checking that out next hour. Stay with us.