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THE SITUATION ROOM
Pres. Overruled on Stem Cell Research; Egg Recall
Aired August 23, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.
So, food safety regulators are now saying they don't expect more recalls beyond the half billion eggs that are already withdrawn from the market, but inspections are continuing and that a massive salmonella outbreak that is traced to two Iowa farms, and congressional committees are already asking those egg producers for documents and details about their operations. Our CNN's Casey Wian is in Iowa for us. Casey, tell us what you're learning?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, behind me is the chicken feed mixing facility for Wright County Eggs here in Iowa. It's one of the places where is 20 FDA investigators are scouring to try to find the source of the largest salmonella outbreak in recent memory.
WIAN (voice-over): Trucks full of chicken feed ingredients arrived at Wright County Egg as federal authorities continue to investigate whether feed or something else is to blame for the recall of more than a half of billion eggs, possibly tainted by salmonella. Most came from Wright County Egg. Officials decline to speak with us about the company, its related businesses and their long history of fines for health and safety violations.
They include animal cruelty, sexual harassment of workers, even rape and the hiring of illegal immigrants. The FDA tells CNN's "American Morning" some of the companies involved in the recall were, quote, "not operating with the standards of practice we consider responsible."
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If these farms have so many infractions in their past, why were they allowed to continue operating?
DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, I think it speaks to an important issue that you want to work with companies to try to hold them accountable to a certain set of standards and practices, and when they step over the line, you do need to take action. And of course, as I said, our purview is food safety, and we are acting very aggressively now to make sure that we fully investigate the source of the contamination. WIAN: Wright County Egg responded in a statement, because we have not received any written reports from FDA to date, it would be inappropriate to respond to her remarks. It is important to note that any concerns raised verbally during FDA's on-farm visit were immediately addressed or are in the process of being address.
Hillandale Farms is also recalling eggs. It says it uses many of the same suppliers as Wright County for items like birds, medication, and feed. In a statement, Hillandale said, we are devastated that our eggs have been implicated in making people sick. We met several local residents unhappy with the growth of large egg producers in an area once dominated by small farms.
DAN BRIDGE, WRIGHT COUNTY RESIDENT: The little farms were the ones that really produced food. And you had quality control, because everybody ate it. Their families ate it, we ate it. We all eat each other's food. This situation here where you don't know what you're buying.
WIAN: In a statement, Wright County Egg said when issues have been raised about our farms, our management team has addressed them swiftly and effectively.
MALVEAUX: So, what do you knee to know about egg safety? Our CNN's Brian Todd, he has been digging into that. Brian, what have we learned about how to protect ourselves and our families?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite a bit today, Suzanne, one of the questions we first asked to our experts is how does salmonella get into eggs? The simple pathology they gave us is chickens have it in their bodies from being exposed to bacteria from unsanitary conditions, then it's passed on to their eggs. Egg producers say this is an extremely rare occurrence, but a consumer advocate showed us some ways you can reduce your odds even more.
TODD (voice-over): More than half of billion eggs recalled. More than a thousand people stricken with salmonella. How can you avoid that casualty list? We went to a supermarket in the D.C. area not affected by the recall and spoke to Patty Lovera of the consumer advocacy group, Food and Water Watch. None of the eggs on these shelves are part of the recall, and we're not showing any brands. But Lovero says consumers should be skeptical of some labels.
None of these eggs here are covered by the recall. They're not affected, but some labels do say cage free. What do people have to know about labels like that?
PATTY LOVERA, FOOD & WATER WATCH: So, cage-free is a label that the company puts on there. Nobody from the government is really verifying it or looking at it, and it means literally what it says. Those chickens weren't in cages. So, that's about what it tells you. It doesn't tell you much else about the farm or anything else that they do. It's very specific.
TODD: If the labels aren't really telling you about the farm, how can you, as a consumer, find out about how these chickens are raised and just the quality of the eggs?
LOVERA: That's a good question, and it's a tough situation often that we're dealing with because we have a lot of brands and a lot of labels and that doesn't always reflect actual diversity in the marketplace so that there are a lot of producers. I mean, like this big recall, these selling eggs, these companies were selling eggs under almost 30 brands.
So, unfortunately, it puts a burden on the consumers that you have to kind of get on the internet and look at the company, see what you can find. And also, see if you can find some eggs locally, in the summer, especially. See if you can find some from a local farmer or farmer's market. You get a lot more information that way.
TODD: But Lovera also says consumers are sometimes themselves to blame for salmonella poisoning. She points out common sense practices people sometimes forget.
LOVERA: There are things consumers can do to protect themselves, and the basic one is heat. You should cook your eggs thoroughly. So, you cook them thoroughly, not eating raw eggs or undercooked eggs, and then keeping things separated. So, stuff that touched the raw egg doesn't touch your other food doesn't touch your cooked egg.
TODD (on-camera): Lovera says consumers are already getting more help from the government. A new egg rule is in place requiring the egg companies to more strictly test their chickens for salmonella, to test the chicken's offspring, their barns, their feed. That rule didn't go into effect until last month after this outbreak technically started, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And Brian, just to be clear, what do you do if you suspect -- or how do you find out if the egg has been recalled?
TODD: I can tell you what we did today. We called around to some stores to see if we could come. We asked the store managers, essentially, is your store affected by it, and they would be able to tell us yes or no. Just about everything in the D.C. area is not affected, and we were told that. The best thing to do is probably just ask the manager of the store where you're going.
MALVEAUX: And the oversight of that safety has been confusing at times as well.
TODD: It certainly has, and Lovera pointed this out to us, but we verified it with the agencies. It's the USDA that oversees the size of the eggs. They have a voluntary program where the companies can basically report the size of their eggs, and they make sure that the eggs are big enough to put onto the market. That's where you get the jumbo and the great A, those designations, but it's the FDA that oversees the actual safety of the eggs on the shelves. It's confusing. They think that this new egg rule may streamline some of that, but it's been that way for year, and it does add to the confusion.
MALVEAUX: OK. Brian, thank you so much for clearing that up. Really appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: How worried should we be about the foods that we eat? I'm going to be speak with Eric Schlosser. He is author of the best seller "Fast Food Nation."
And a major ruling on embryonic stem cell research and a blow to the Obama administration. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order freeing federal funding for research on stem cells obtained from human embryos, which come from in-vitro fertilization clinics. Today, a federal judge issued a ruling stopping that federal funding.
The judge says it violates a law passed by Congress that bans federal funding for any research in which a human embryo is created or a human embryo is destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death. The justice department says it is viewing the ruling.
Joining us on the phone to talk about is Dr. David Stevens. He is CEO of the Christian Medical Association. He is also one of the plaintiffs on this case. Doctor, thank you for joining us. Did this come as a surprise to you? What is your reaction to this ruling?
VOICE OF DR. DAVID STEVENS, CEO, CHRISTIAN MEDICAL & DENTAL ASSOCIATION: The big battle at the beginning was who had standing in this case, and when that was decided, I thought the case was likely to go our direction because this court said this is an unambiguous law. Very clearly, the government cannot fund research where embryos are destroyed, and they were doing that.
They tried to say no, we're only funding the part after the embryo is destroyed. The court said research is research from the beginning of the project to the end. If you kill embryos, you have to do that to do the embryonic stem cell research, and so it's illegal.
MALVEAUX: If some of these embryos might be destroyed anyway, why do you have a problem with using them for medical research that could save lives?
STEVENS: There are other options to destroying embryos, and embryo adoption is an excellent option. These embryos don't have to die. The decision is made to destroy them. This isn't like harvesting organs from someone who's already dead. This is intentionally killing a human being to harvest their valuable biological parts. MALVEAUX: There are obviously others who would disagree with that. But what do you say to those people who are suffering from diseases like Parkinson's or cancer or spinal cord injuries that think that this is really their only chance.
STEVENS: That's not true. We're finding the most progress using adult stem cells or induced plural potent stem cell where they can actually take a cell, Suzanne, from your skin and turn it into an embryonic-type of stem cell without destroying an embryo. We don't have to kill embryos to get the cures all of us want.
MALVEAUX: I covered President Bush, and he made the case that those existing stem cells, funding those existing lines would be good enough that it was a compromise here, that they would not have to use federal funds to create additional embryonic stem cells, but researchers say those lines aren't any good. That really isn't adequate for research. How do you respond?
STEVENS: Well, there are pretty good lines to be used. They're not perfect and even the ones being created today aren't perfect, but the bottom line people need to understand is we've had promises about embryonic stem cell research for 12 years now and where's the beef? Where are the cures that everyone is promising? There's all sorts of problems with using embryonic stem cells, and even today, we just now have the first trial being funded.
And it's very questionable whether that's going to work or not. We should put our money where we're going to get real cares for real people real fast, and that's not with embryonic stem cell researchers or your or my tax dollars using to be destroying human beings.
MALVEAUX: Dr. Stevens, thank you so much for joining us. Obviously, Department of Justice is going to be looking into this. They have told us and reviewing this decision whether or not they will move forward on obviously appealing this latest ruling. This is initially that clearly is not going to go anytime soon. Thank you so much for joining us.
STEVENS: Thank you, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Sure. Jack Cafferty is next with the "Cafferty File."
Also, the man whose website leaked thousands of documents about the Afghan war is briefly accused of rape only to have the charges dropped. Now, he is talking about a smear campaign and the Pentagon.
Also John McCain is locked in an increasingly nasty primary battle in Arizona with new allegations now flying back and forth. We're going to bring you the very latest.
Plus, new fallout from the death of a trainer killed by an orca. Details of what SeaWorld is facing and what it plans to do about it.
MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File." Hey, Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is doing this as much fun as you remembered it was?
MALVEAUX: This is better. This time is better, Jack. It is only getting better.
CAFFERTY: Better than it's ever been.
MALVEAUX: I think so. I think we're starting off on a good foot here on Monday. For a Monday, you got to admit it, come on.
CAFFERTY: Yes. You're doing just fine. One day, Suzanne, we may all look back on the state of Arizona as the state that led the way when it comes to doing something about the illegal immigration crisis. Twenty-two states are now considering immigration laws like the one passed in Arizona. According to a group called Americans for Illegal Immigration, these include another border state Texas, along with northern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Some states like Rhode Island and Colorado are sending their lawmakers to Arizona to meet with Governor Brewer and the Arizona legislative officials to figure out how to best craft their own immigration laws. All this is happening despite the fact that a federal judge threw out key parts of Arizona's law, including the part requiring police to check the immigration status of anybody stopped for another reason.
That ruling is now under appeal. Polls across the board show that a majority of Americans support Arizona's law. They want something done about this. Meanwhile, there are signs that the violence from Mexico's drug wars is increasingly spilling over into the U.S. A shootout between drug traffickers and Mexican authorities in Juarez injured three police officers and left one gunman dead.
Juarez is 30 yards from the border at El Paso, Texas and has become one of the deadliest cities in the world. More than 1,800 people have been murdered there this year. It's a town the size of San Diego, California where there have been 14 murders this year. Authorities say a bullet from the shootout in Juarez may have struck a building at the University of Texas.
This comes less than two months after several bullets from a deadly shootout in Juarez hit the El Paso city hall. It's no wonder the Texas governor, Rick Perry, keeps asking for more National Guard troops.
Here is the question, what does it mean if 22 states are considering immigration legislation like Arizona's? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post comment on my blog -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Jack.
After publishing thousands of secret Afghan war documents, the founder of WikiLeaks was briefly accused of rape. Is he now accusing the Pentagon of dirty tricks? Our CNN's Phil Black is following the story in London.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, it's an intriguing twist in the WikiLeaks saga. The website's founder, Julian Assange, has been accused of serious sexual crimes. He denies them, but he says he knew something like this was coming.
BLACK (voice-over): In just under 24 hours, Julian Assange was officially an accused rapist.
KARIN ROSANDER, SWEDISH PROSECUTION AUTHORITY: I can confirm that Julian Assange yesterday evening was arrested in his absence, and the allegations are molestation and rape.
BLACK: Assange found out through Swedish media. He responded on Twitter saying the charges are without basis. Then, the same day, the case was handed to another prosecutor, and the arrest warrant was suddenly cancelled.
ROSANDER: Mr. Assange is no longer under arrest, so he's not no longer wanted. And the reason for this is that he's no longer accused of rape.
BLACK: The new prosecutor insists no one made a mistake.
EVA FINNE, CHIEF PROSECUTOR: I had more information available to me than the on-call prosecutor had, and my decision doesn't mean that there was anything wrong with her decision.
BLACK: Swedish media has reported two different women made separate complaints about Assange. The prosecutor says the information they have will be investigated to decide if charges, other than rape, are appropriate. But Julian Assange believes he is the victim of a smear campaign. The founder of WikiLeaks.org says he'd been warned about what he calls dirty tricks, after the website published 76,000 secret U.S. government documents about the war in Afghanistan.
He told Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, I don't know who is behind this, but we have been warned that, for example, the Pentagon is planning on using dirty tricks to destroy our work. I have also been warned about sex traps. He was asked, have you just fallen for one of those? He replied maybe, maybe not.
The Pentagon says Assange's claims are ridiculous. The Swedish prosecutor says if it was a conspiracy, it wasn't a very good one.
BLACK (on-camera): So, Julian Assange will not be prosecuted for rape, but Swedish officials say they will decide within the week if he will face other charges. Either way, Assange says his reputation and that of his website have been permanently damaged -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you. SeaWorld get slammed, and investigation into the death of a trainer killed by an orca. We are learning new details of the charges and the fine.
And the second Atlantic hurricane of the season born just hours ago. We are tracking the storm for you.
MALVEAUX: The federal government is coming down today on SeaWorld after wrapping up a six-month investigation into the death of a trainer by a 12,000-pound killer whale. In addition to a $75,000 fine, SeaWorld is being accused of serious safety violations. Our Brian Todd has been following the story since the whale attack back in February. What do we know about the story today?
TODD: Suzanne, SeaWorld says it's going to appeal today's ruling, but this whole thing has already opened up an entirely new debate on this subject and that is, have trainers been allowed to get too close to the animals they care for?
TODD (voice-over): According to a government report, killer whale trainers like Dawn Brancheau did not have a safe work environment at SeaWorld. Brancheau was killed by blunt trauma and drowning after she was grabbed by the killer whale named Tilikum in February. This videotape by an eyewitness shows how she was working with the whale just before she was killed.
VOICE OF VICTORIA BINIAK, SEAWORLD VISITOR: He took off, and then he came back. He jumped off and grabbed her and started thrashing around and then her shoe fell off. And he was thrashing her around pretty good.
TODD: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, Tilikum had known aggressive tendencies, and SeaWorld should be fined $75,000 for a willful safety violation, not recognizing hazards that could cause death. SeaWorld disagrees saying OSHA's investigation shows a fundamental lack of understanding of whale safety.
SeaWorld added in a statement, the demands of humane care require our zoological team to work in close physical proximity to these animals. In this 2000 interview, Brancheau described what it's like to work the animals, appearing with a different whale.
DAWN BRANCHEAU, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: She gets to know me and what I look like and the way that I interact with her all throughout the day in shows and then just spending time rubbing her down which is something I really like to do as well.
TODD: But the government says SeaWorld trainer should be barred from performing with the animals even if they stay dry unless new safety provisions are made like physical barriers, new decking systems, or oxygen supply systems for the trainers, but at least one former SeaWorld orca trainer, Carol Ray, believes the only way to keep a trainer safe is if they keep their distance and no longer go in the water. CAROL RAY, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I don't think there's a solution that would have saved someone like Dawn if it involves water work with the animals. She was thrashed around, you know, dismembered, scalped, rammed. No spare air, no oxygen would have helped her in that situation. And I think that trainers getting in the water with those whales is just a recipe for disaster.
TOOD (on-camera): Now, as we mentioned, SeaWorld said today it's going to appeal this finding. Meanwhile, it says its trainers are staying out of the water while it takes steps to implement recommendations from a safety review, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: So, the former safety director of the park, is she alleging that safety violations, the safety wasn't a factor? Or how is she assessing it?
TOOD: She is saying there were safety problems there in the weeks and days, I guess, leading up to the accident. This is a woman named Linda Simons (ph). She says that she was on the job just a week before this accident, but she does say that she witnessed a poor safety procedures.
She told "Good Morning America" this morning that there was talk among the trainers that anyone going into the pool with this whale would come out as a corpse. SeaWorld says that her allegations are false. That she was fired for poor performance during the investigation into the Tilikum incident. SeaWorld also says her representatives use a threat of bad publicity to get her a better severance package. So, it's a little bit of he said-she said at this point regarding SeaWorld and this particular safety official.
MALVEAUX: Brian, thank you very much. And obviously (ph), we're going to hear more about what she said on "Larry King Tonight" who will be a guest, and she will explain her position.
A shocker from Saudi Arabia, human rights groups appeal to authorities they are not to (INAUDIBLE) of a man who paralyzed another man in a fight.
And a half of billion eggs recalled. More than a thousand people sickened. How worried should we be? I'm going to ask the author of "Fast Food Nation."
MALVEAUX: More than half of billion eggs recalled, more than a thousand people sickened from salmonella. How worried should we be about the foods that we eat? Joining me now is Eric Schlosser, author of the best seller "Fast Food Nation." Thank you so much, Eric, for joining us here. Can you tell us, what does this big egg recall mean when it comes to the safety of our food supply?
ERIC SCHLOSSER, AUTHOR, "FAST FOOD NATION": This is a bad outbreak, and tens of thousands of people are going to be sickened by tainted eggs. But to me, this is just one more sign of a food safety system that's really broken down.
I mean, last year, we had a major outbreak of salmonella linked to peanut butter. And these industry groups would like to blame consumers responsible, but there really shouldn't be salmonella in peanut butter, and there shouldn't be salmonella in eggs either.
MALVEAUX: What's the biggest problem? What is the main problem here? Where's the breakdown?
SCHLOSSER: The problem is -- the problem is in the last 25 to 30 years as we've had a major consolidation and centralization of our food production. And that means if you have a problem at one of these processing facilities, you have a nationwide or even an international problem. Now, there was not a salmonella in eggs until the early the 1980s when the egg producers got very, very big.
And when you cram all of these hens together and one of them is sick with salmonella, they give the other hens salmonella and that bug winds up in the eggs. What we need is tough food safety enforcement, and there's a bill right now that's been stuck in Congress for almost a year, the FDA Modernization Act, that will really help with some of these problems.
MALVEAUX: Tell us a bit about the conditions on egg farms. Most people don't understand and they don't know what you're talking about when they talk about the kinds of conditions that go from the production of an egg to what we see on our plates. What happens there on those egg farms?
SCHLOSSER: Well, n the 1950s and 1960s, you had hundreds and hundreds of small producers, and there really wasn't salmonella in eggs. Now you have a handful of enormous egg producers, with thousands of birds crammed very closely together. And those sorts of living conditions are ideal vectors for spreading disease.
So salmonella in eggs is a sign of poor sanitary conditions, in the same way that the salmonella in peanut butter last year was the result of very poor sanitary conditions at that plant.
MALVEAUX: Is this industry-wide?
SCHLOSSER: Our food system has changed fundamentally...
MALVEAUX: Go ahead.
SCHLOSSER: You know, among the big egg producers, absolutely. And that's why you need food safety laws and oversight that can handle these changes in our food safety system. I mean, the FDA was created in 1906, but this is the 21st century, and it needs tools to really handle outbreaks like this.
MALVEAUX: Eric, I want to...
SCHLOSSER: The bill right that's right now -- I'm sorry.
MALVEAUX: OK. The bill I understand, obviously, has got to make its way through Congress. Perhaps it stands a better chance now that we've seen this egg recall. But I do want to give the FDA commissioner a chance to respond, because this morning she did talk about the fact that, you know, you've got these 500 million eggs that have been recalled, but this is really less than 1 percent of the eggs that are produced each year.
Here's how she responded to how they are dealing with this outbreak of salmonella. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, FDA COMMISSIONER: Our purview is food safety, and we are acting very aggressively now to make sure that we fully investigate the source of the contamination and how it happened to put in place preventive measures so it won't happen in the future, and to protect consumers by doing a complete and thorough recall of products that may be contaminated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Do you trust that the FDA can keep the food safe, that they will do their jobs?
SCHLOSSER: This isn't the fault of the FDA. This is the fault of a company that produced half a billion, perhaps contaminated eggs. And if this company had had good sanitary conditions, and was thoroughly testing for salmonella, we wouldn't have had this outbreak.
Back to the FDA, the FDA needs the ability to test for contaminated food, trace it back to its source, and order the recall of contaminated food, and it does not have those powers right now. And the industry has fought against the FDA having these powers for almost 20 years.
MALVEAUX: And obviously...
SCHLOSSER: So I'm very critical of government agencies, but this -- this outbreak should be blamed on the company that produced half a billion potentially contaminated eggs.
MALVEAUX: And you mentioned that legislation. Obviously, that would give the FDA more teeth to actually handle these kinds of cases and these problems as you mentioned.
But the food industry in general has been able to basically keep it pretty quiet and behind the scenes: wow they produce our food, whether it's eggs or peanut butter or any -- any type of process here. Why is that? Who is complicit in keeping everything so under wraps so that we don't really have a clue as to how we get our food and what is taking place behind the scenes?
SCHLOSSER: Well, particularly when it comes to livestock, like hogs and cattle and chicken or the production of eggs, these companies don't want you to see how it's actually being produced, because if you saw it, you wouldn't want to eat it. We've been eating eggs for thousands of years, but we've only been eating eggs produced at these mega, mega facilities for the last 20 years, and we're now seeing the results of this.
So I think people need to educate themselves. They need to be more informed. I think they should right now be cooking their eggs thoroughly. But ultimately, this is the responsibility of the companies that are selling contaminated foods and not on consumers.
MALVEAUX: OK. Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation." Thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He stabbed a man in a fight and left him paralyzed. Will the perpetrator now be surgically paralyzed as punishment? Details of a controversial case in Saudi Arabia.
MALVEAUX: Hours from now, voters will cast ballots in key midterm primaries, and a bitter Republican race will be settled in Arizona. Now, that is where Senator John McCain is trying for a fifth term, and now seems to have finally be fending off a challenge from the right by former congressman J.D. Hayworth.
I'm going to go to live to CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin.
Jessica, we know that he's had nasty races in the past. It looks like the trend continues, but this is another -- this is another tough one for him.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really has been, Suzanne. A very bitter race. As you know, immigration and those politics played heavily into it. But also lots of personal attacks, with John McCain accusing J.D. Hayworth of being a huckster at one point, J.D. Hayworth calling John McCain a, quote, "shape shifter."
We spoke with J.D. Hayworth just last night. He is now down in the polls after looking for a while like he could always take McCain in this primary. And he's sounding a quite sour note. Listen to his prediction for what John McCain will do if he's re-elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.D. HAYWORTH (R), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Twice denied the presidency, Mr. McCain believes his place in history is to now become the lion of the Senate. Well, you only become the L-I-O-N of the Senate by L-Y-I-N to your constituents in Arizona. He will rush back to D.C. and lurch so far to the left to win the acceptance of the elites in Washington, D.C., that if he is granted a last term in office, not only will we have been treated to the unfortunate denigration of Mr. McCain from a senior statesman to a political shape shifter; we will have him there as a shameless panderer to the left.
(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: Those are strong words in a Republican primary, Suzanne. And the McCain campaign is sort of brushing them off. A spokesman for the campaign tells us in response, quote, "Congressman Hayworth is going to lose this race. It's just sad that he's going down with such little dignity." That's from Brian Rogers, McCain campaign spokesman. Again, a sign of just how bitter this contest has become.
MALVEAUX: All right. Jessica Yellin, thank you, enduring the heat out there. We appreciate it very much.
John King joins us now. He's hosting "JOHN KING USA" at the top of the hour.
John, those were some pretty harsh words there. Shape shifter and all kinds of other things.
KING: Shape shifter, liar, this, that, the other thing. It's been a very tough race. The complication for J.D. Hayworth, there were people who thought Senator McCain might be vulnerable. He was the presidential nominee. Then he goes home. The Republican Party has shifted right.
But J.D. Hayworth, unlike many other challengers, can't run as an outsider because he served in Congress for so long. So it's been hard for him to find his angle, if you will, his wedge to get -- to get Senator McCain out of this race. It looks -- we'll see what turnout. You always worry about turnout in these off years elections, but it looks like Senator McCain is going to win tomorrow.
MALVEAUX: So he claims that, really, McCain is a wolf in sheep's clothing, if you will; he's going to shift to the left if he gets elected. Is there any evidence that that would take place?
KING: If the immigration issue comes up again, how will John McCain vote? Remember, it was the Kennedy-Bush-McCain approach that would allow those here illegally to get some sort of legal status. Well, the initial proposal was citizenship, now people talk about legal status. If that comes up again, and John McCain wins this election, would he be for that? That would be a key test down the road.
What Senator McCain has said is that his position has not changed, just the sequencing, in his view. He says border security first. Then we'll talk about all those other things.
It's easy to say he is right now, Senator McCain on immigration, that one issue, is inconsistent with where he was in the past. He would say circumstances have changed and his bigger position hasn't. It would be very interesting to watch. If John McCain wins this election, what happens if there's a lame duck session of Congress this year, and then who is John McCain if he gets another six years in the Senate? He's always interested (ph).
What you hear now, Suzanne, and you hear this in town, many conservatives say he's lost their credibility. Many people in the middle who have worked with John McCain over the years say he's been shameless to try to win this reelection. When he wins the election, if he wins the election, we'll see who he is when he comes back. If you have a narrow Democratic majority, or a slight -- if the Republicans can somehow take back the Senate, he could be a huge player. The people who are willing to do business are going to be the people who have power in Washington.
MALVEAUX: We just saw pictures of Senator McCain, obviously, with his former running mate, Sarah Palin. He also brought her out on the campaign trail. To what extent do you think he has satisfied the conservatives and particularly the Tea Party folks who are looking for some reassurances from him?
KING: I think having Sarah Palin on his side, her loyalty to him, does help with that part of the base that says, "Boy, he's disappointed me in the past, but we like her. If she's still with him, maybe I can deal with him."
But the greater success Senator McCain has had is about $20 million of spending. Essentially, they're saying, "You may be mad at me, but you don't want this guy, J.D. Hayworth. You don't want him." That is a statistic, that he very early on used his resources, spent a ton of money to essentially almost disqualify him. We'll see what the voters do, but to just push J.D. Hayworth to the fringe of the race. And he still -- he may be the last one standing. This is not a pretty race.
MALVEAUX: OK. Looking forward to more of the ugliness, I guess, 20 minutes, in your show.
KING: We'll be there.
MALVEAUX: OK. Well, Saudi Arabia backed down. Human rights groups appealed to authorities there not to deliberately sever -- that's right -- sever the spine of a man accused of paralyzing another man in a fight.
MALVEAUX: Human rights groups have appealed to Saudi authorities not to deliberately sever the spinal cord of a man who allegedly paralyzed someone else in a fight. Amnesty International has said that would violate United Nations convention on torture as well as principles of medical ethics.
Could the Saudis be backing down? I want to go live to CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom in Abu Dhabi.
Mohammed, tell us what is the latest here. Obviously, this has surprised and shocked a lot of people who heard about this case recently.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, a high-ranking Saudi government official told me just a short while ago that the president of the courts in Tabuk -- that's the province in Saudi Arabia where this case is happening -- has denied, has officially denied that paralysis as a punishment was ever actually considered by the court there.
But here's where it gets complicated, as do most cases in Saudi Arabia get complicated. In fact, the president of the court also gave an interview to a Saudi newspaper just a few hours ago. And he's quoted as saying that they actually did reach out to hospitals in Saudi Arabia, trying to ascertain if this kind of a surgery to sever a man's spine could be done, but he adds this was only down in an effort to convince the plaintiff that this kind of surgery was an impossibility, that it could not actually be performed in Saudi Arabia.
Ultimately now, the president of the court is saying that the kind of judgment that will be rendered in this will only include the payment of blood money by the plaintiff to the victim and the victim's family -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: So we have seen a number of these controversial cases in Saudi Arabia recently that have been quite shocking, actually. What -- why does this keep happening?
JAMJOOM: Suzanne, Saudi Arabia practices a very puritanical version of Islam called the Wahhabism. And in that version of Islam, you still see eye-for-an-eye type judgments being doled out. Judges there have wide discretion and latitude to try to impose the law and enforce Islam the way they see fit dole out the kind of punishments they think are appropriate.
But what you're seeing recently are more and more of these controversial cases emerging. In the past few years, we've seen the case of a child bride who was refused her request to get a divorce from a man much older than her.
We've seen the case of a 19-year-old girl who was raped, and then she was sentenced to -- she was sentenced to a punishment harsher than the punishment that some of her attackers got.
Lately, we saw a sentence of a man who was accused of sorcery in Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to die. That case is still pending.
And because these cases are emerging, it's really showing the societal struggle that's going on in Saudi Arabia between the hard- liners and between the moderates and the progressives. The moderates and the progressives there know that these kinds of cases, they will give Saudi Arabia a black eye in the international community.
And they want to see a streamlining of the justice system there. They want to see the justice system in the courts modernized. They want to get rid of what they consider to be this draconian type of justice -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Mohammed, thank you very much.
Joining me now, CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend. We should also note that Fran is an external board advisory to both the CIA and Homeland Security Department. Fran, thanks for joining us. Obviously, you worked very closely with the Saudi government. What do you make of the relationship and the tensions that this kind of case creates when you hear this -- what a lot of people see as very extreme and dramatic source of punishment?
TOWNSEND: Well, right. There's no -- there's no justifying or excusing that's even the possibility of that sort of a punishment.
I can remember in late 2007, Mohammed referred to the case of the woman, the rape victim who was going to get a harsher punishment. In the end, you'll remember, Suzanne, the King pardoned the woman, and that never happened. And it was -- the pardon was related to the Eid at the end of, at that point, the Hajj.
The Eid's coming up at the end of Ramadan here this year. And in this case, I expect what we're going to find is, just as with the prior case, the King will use his extraordinary power to pardon the victim so that this sort of a punishment is not imposed, and -- but that's not understandable to most Americans.
I will tell you that these sort of cases do cause attention, but the American government, the U.S. government is very careful not to interfere in the justice system. We're uncomfortable with it, but we don't want -- we can't afford for these sorts of cases, individual cases to interfere in our counterterrorism relationship, which is second only, if at all, to our counterterrorism relationship with the U.K.
MALVEAUX: So what is the U.S. government position? Do we simply ignore these things? Or do we bring them to light through the media and hope that public pressure will change the minds and have these pardons come up?
TOWNSEND: Well, human rights groups like Amnesty International have done a very good job in bringing attention to these sorts of things.
The U.S. government doesn't itself try to bring attention to them. We speak quietly in a bilateral way to the government about our concerns on these issues, but publicly, sort of humiliating them isn't an effective technique.
And frankly, we've seen these cases actually get handled by the government itself in the form of these pardons by the King.
MALVEAUX: OK, Fran. Got to leave it there. Thank you so much.
Ten-hour hostage drama ends in a deadly hail of gunfire. Details of the former police officer who commandeered a bus full of tourists.
And a former commander in chief catches service members and their families off guard. We'll show you the surprise appearance by George W. Bush. Let's find out why.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: Kate Bolduan is monitoring some of the other top stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What are you working on?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Suzanne.
Well, Danielle is now a hurricane, upgraded just hours ago from a tropical storm. Its maximum sustained winds are 75 miles an hour, making it just barely a Category 1 storm right now.
But the National Hurricane Center says Danielle is getting stronger and could reach Category 3 by Wednesday. Right now, the storm is still too far out in the Atlantic to reliably forecast any possible landfall.
And a deadly end to a hostage standoff in the Philippines. A former police officer armed with a machine gun commandeered a bus in Manila carrying tourists from Hong Kong. He was despondent over losing his job. And as the drama unfolded, he spoke with family members and negotiators, but after ten hours, police stormed the bus. The gunman fired on his captives, killing seven of them before he was shot dead by police.
And in much better news, look who surprised participants at a run in Ogunquit, Maine, honoring fallen soldiers. You see right there, former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. They showed up unannounced yesterday at a lobster bake that followed the 40-mile run and mingled with service members and their families.
The event honors the 65 troops from Maine who died overseas since 2001. We hear it's an annual event, that they posed for pictures, Suzanne. No word, though, if the president or the former first lady decided to take part in the run at all.
MALVEAUX: Well, used to be a runner. President Bush used to be a runner. And a biker.
BOLDUAN: A cyclist.
MALVEAUX: What a nice surprise, though, for those who were there. Thank you, Kate.
More than half a billion eggs have been recalled amid more than 1,000 cases of salmonella. John King talks about it with the producer and director of "Food Inc." "JOHN KING USA" starts at the top of the hour.
And what does it say if 22 states are considering immigration legislation like Arizona's? Jack Cafferty is next with your e-mail.
MALVEAUX: Time to check back in with Jack Cafferty.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is what does it say if 22 states are considering immigration legislation like Arizona's?
Kathy writes, "When Obama denounced the Arizona law, it sent a clear message to all current or future illegals: our borders are open. Come on in. The only ones that have to obey the law are the legal citizens. I hope every state adopts Arizona's law!"
Mark in Oklahoma City writes, "It means 28 other states ought to be ready to welcome with open arms the millions of illegals and all of the problems that come with them. Hope those states have big budget surpluses. They're going to need them."
Jane in Michigan writes, "If 22 other states are considering Arizona's law, it's because they realize that their state budgets can no longer support all the poor of this world. Our economy speaks that truth. Violence or not, illegal immigrants contribute to the greater issue of states going bankrupt."
George in Texas writes, "I'm from El Paso, and I can tell you most people at the University of Texas campus can care less. However, a lot of people from El Paso are getting fed up with our governor making El Paso look like Iraq for a political agenda. With all the violence in Mexico, El Paso's OK and is one of the safest cities in the U.S."
Matt writes from Florida, "It means the 22 states are repeating history, particularly the nativist, know-nothing groups that hated the Irish, the Asians, the Catholics and so on. It's just so much easier to do that than to go after the people who hire illegal immigrants. After all, they own the politicians."
Marilyn writes in Arizona, "I think it means it's time for the president to face this and give us the immigration reform we need, or they'll be suing every state and wasting more money that we don't have."
And finally, P. says, "It says Arizona has the right idea. Simply pass a new law, and the illegals flee. If the 22 states were 49, we'd be well on our way to solving the illegal immigration problem with or without Washington's help."
You want to read more on this, go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
And looky here how the time has gotten away, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: I'll see you tomorrow, Jack.
MALVEAUX: "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.