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JOHN KING, USA

The Iranian Threat; Republican Ad Wars

Aired February 15, 2012 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. I'm Jessica Yellin, in for John King.

Tonight: Iran's president defiant as he declares progress in developing nuclear fuel rods.

Plus, it's an all-out war for votes, as Rombo storms Michigan's airwaves. Santorum hits hard in Romney's native state.

And new tonight, the world will be able to watch Whitney Houston's funeral -- details on what we will see as loved ones say goodbye to the super star.

Iran is one step closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims as breakthrough, claiming they have now made their own nuclear fuel rods. But he says they're for peaceful purposes.

This is much more than just a photo op, certain to escalate already heightened tensions with Israel. And it could mean even higher gas prices for you.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, it's a lot to make sense of. Put all of this in context for us.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Jessica.

When you look at those pictures coming out of Iran today, there's a lot of facts and a lot of messages behind those pictures. What is the message? Iran is saying that it has now made its first nuclear fuel rod. And the president of Iran showed up to watch it going into a system there to be able to be inserted.

But what does it really mean behind the scenes? Is this a fuel rod that works? Does it take them on a step closer to making nuclear weapons? The State Department says that it's hype, that this was expected and they're not too worried about it.

But experts will tell you that this is not an insignificant step on the road to nuclear weapons. This may be partly Iran trying to negotiate its way, pressure its way out of crippling sanctions. But the bottom line is, they are making progress -- Jessica. YELLIN: And is there any sense if Iran is closer to producing a nuclear weapon with this development or if this really is hype?

STARR: Well, that's the key thing that the intelligence community, the CIA, is watching right now and the Israelis. Here is what they say.

If Iran decides to make that run for weapons-grade nuclear fuel -- that's not what we're talking about today. That would be more involved. If they make that critical run, it could take them about six months to make enough fuel for a nuclear weapon. It could take them another year-and-a-half to make a warhead and put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

So we're still talking by some estimates several months away, but that's the red line. And both the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services, of course, want to catch Iran before they cross the red line.

YELLIN: Got it.

Thank you, Barbara. Thanks so much, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

And new poll numbers now will make it hard for President Obama to argue that he's the underdog in the race for the White House. He comes out on top in the new CNN poll pitting him against presidential Republican contenders.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here.

Gloria, I looked through these and mostly good news for President Obama. Let's start with his approval rating first.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

YELLIN: He's at 50 percent. And that's up 6 percentage points from November if you take a look at that polling. So what do you think is behind the rise?

BORGER: Well, first of all, very good news for President Obama. But I think there are a few things behind it.

First of all, we have had nothing but Republicans attacking each other. They were supposed to try and focus on Barack Obama. But there are these things called primaries and caucuses. And they have to actually try and win them. And it has been a much more hotly- contested race than a lot of people predicted.

YELLIN: And negative.

BORGER: Really negative race. So people don't like that.

Secondly, our poll also shows that more people believe the economy is getting better. Not a majority yet, but more people think it's getting better. So, Of course, that helps the president. And the third thing that our poll shows is that the president is really improving his ratings with swing voters, very, very important if you intend to win another election.

His ratings with independent voters are up five points in just the last month alone. So you put all those things together, good news for Barack Obama.

YELLIN: I think that last point's what makes Chicago the happiest right now. We will see if that holds.

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly.

YELLIN: Let's look at how he stacks up against his potential Republican rivals.

If you look at these numbers, he beats Romney now by 5 percentage points. He beats Santorum by seven, Ron Paul by seven. And he just cleans Gingrich's clock.

BORGER: Right.

YELLIN: So is this a typical advantage for an incumbent or a sign of a weak Republican field?

BORGER: Well, I think it's a sign of a weak Republican field, particularly when you look at Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney's calling card has been electability and quite frankly that's been his appeal with Republicans.

When you look at all of our exit polls and entrance polls throughout this entire process, Republicans over and over again say, you know what? We really want somebody who can beat Barack Obama. But if you look at the poll that you just showed, they can't beat Barack Obama, at least not yet. And that was Mitt Romney's strongest suit, so a real problem.

Let me just say, though, that independent voters are not happy voters. They're still gettable for Republicans. So when you look at this matchup and you see that the president is winning right now, that could change. But the Republicans have one thing they have to do first and that is decide on a candidate.

YELLIN: But once there's a one-on-one race, it's up for grabs maybe.

BORGER: You don't know. It really depends on how the economy is going. It really does.

YELLIN: That's the big unknown.

BORGER: Of course. Of course.

YELLIN: Gloria, thank you.

BORGER: Sure.

YELLIN: Gloria Borger.

Well, Rick Santorum says his tax returns should be out soon. We thought today would be the day, but that clock keeps on ticking.

Let's bring in senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, who has been covering Rick Santorum many a primary night.

Dana, you know the inside workings of that campaign just about as well as anyone. So what is the holdup? What's going on with those returns?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told that we should see them very soon.

There was a chance that maybe we would see them today. There still is a chance. Jessica, I promise if we do see them, I will come right back on your show and I will give them to you.

But we do know because Rick Santorum said himself on this show last week that he had been going back and forth with his accountant. Remember, he sort of now famously said he did his own taxes and that he had to go back to his computer at home and gather the information. That was three-and-a-half weeks ago. That's why we have been asking, where are they, where are they, where are they?

On the show he said again last week that he had to go back and forth with his accountant to make sure that he had everything right. So we're still waiting.

YELLIN: We know you will keep asking until we get them.

Let's move on and check out an ad his campaign just put out today in Michigan, the next state up with a primary. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: This time, Romney's firing his mud at Rick Santorum. Romney and his super PAC have spent a staggering $20 million brutally attacking fellow Republicans. Why? Because Romney's trying to hide from his big government Romney care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: OK. We get it. It's pretty funny and obviously turning fire on Mitt Romney. So how do you think the Michiganians, Michiganders, will react to portraying Romney as Rombo?

BASH: Well, they're hoping inside the Santorum campaign that they react obviously well. And it is definitely funny, but it's also controversial, not only because of the fact that they have got Mitt Romney with the machine gun, but also because of the fact that Santorum has been saying over and over and over again that he is running a positive campaign.

Now, they insist that this is not negative. But, you know, look, he's definitely trying to get back in the game. What's also interesting is remember we have been reporting that he has raised so much money, $1 million a day at the last part of last week. Now we know how he's going to spend it. We're told he's going to put up ads no only in Arizona, which is also coming up on February 28, but Super Tuesday states, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma.

They are hoping if nothing else that that keeps him in the game and keeps this momentum that he's got going continuing on.

YELLIN: Right. Well, that was the big question, would he have the money to keep going. It sounds like he does for now.

And we will be sure you will check back with us if you get those tax returns, Dana. Thanks.

BASH: I sure will, Jess.

YELLIN: CNN's Dana Bash, thanks for being with us.

Heading overseas to Syria now, a huge pipeline explosion in Homs turned the sky black with smoke. Activists blamed government warplanes. The government blames terrorists. It's just one part of today's pummeling which has left more than two dozen people dead.

Machine gunfire and the sound of shellings are the new normal and the residents there say leaving their houses is like a suicide run. Now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country will vote on a new draft constitution later this month.

Now, foreign journalists are not allowed inside Syria. But remarkably our Arwa Damon and her crew have managed to get inside Homs.

Arwa, your reporting has been just remarkable. I want to begin by asking, you have watched this from a distance for awhile now. But now that you have been really inside really the center of it, share with us your impression of the violence there now.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we have been in the city of Homs square for less than 24 hours at this stage.

And it's very difficult to summarize what we have seen even in this brief time period. We spent the best part of the morning, a few hours, at one of the main medical clinics in the neighborhood of Baba Amr. And as you will remember, that is where a lot of the shelling has been concentrated.

And the situation there, it is just utterly tragic. There are people lying in hospital beds on the verge of death quite simply because doctors do not have the medical equipment at hand to save them. There's one man who is a father of three young children. He tried to get his family out. He was unable to do so, saying that the military was not allowing them to leave.

He was then injured in the shelling. His arm is just attached to the rest of his body by a few muscles. Another man lying in hospital bed, the doctor says that his leg is going to have to be amputated if he can't get out within the next 24 hours.

And you could smell the stench of rot coming out of his wounds. And then a young man, just 19 years old, he was a volunteer at this clinic, because, Jessica, there are no medical staff. There are two doctors there.

One of them is actually an internal medicine specialist, the other a dentist. And they have trained up this staff of 20 volunteers who have gone through 15 days of training. One of these young volunteers, a 19-year-old, a young man, was lying in a hospital bed because he'd been wounded in one of these attacks.

And the situation was incredibly serious. Another of the volunteers, a young 27-year-old woman, was just crying out saying: "How can the world stay silent? These are human beings. These are not stones. How can people not want to help us?"

YELLIN: It's remarkable what you describe. I imagine it's having quite an impact on you.

One of the suggestions from the outside world has been arming the opposition. Some people think that that's a good idea. Some don't. I'm curious given what you're seeing, how organized is the opposition there? If you had to assess its strength, is the opposition in a position to take down the Syrian government if they had outside support?

DAMON: When it comes to the armed element of the opposition, and that is the Free Syrian Army, again on the microcosmic level when it comes to neighborhood to neighborhood, they are fairly well organized, they're able to communicate to one another, but they lack the weaponry.

And that is why we're hearing these increasing calls for some sort of effort to arm the opposition, because many people do believe that if they had the weapons at hand, not only could they take on the Assad regime, but then that more people would be encouraged to defect, knowing that they had the tools in hand to try to bring down this government.

YELLIN: Arwa Damon reporting again from inside Syria after she spent the day in Homs, thank you so much.

DAMON: Thank you.

YELLIN: Remarkable reporting.

Whitney Houston's death certificate released within this past hour, it lists her full name, age and next of kin, but not her cause of death. We're taking a closer look our Dr. Drew in just a few minutes.

Coming up, the FDA is warning that a counterfeit version of a widely-used cancer drug is on the market. We will have details.

But first, new video today from Iran claiming nuclear progress. Ahead, a former State Department insider discusses the potential threat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Iran is once again bragging about its nuclear progress, showing the world what it claims are homemade nuclear fuel rods and a new generation of centrifuges.

It could mean that Iran is that much closer to eventually having its own nuclear warhead. The State Department says today's announcements are just hype.

Former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley is here and he now teaches at George Washington University.

Thanks for being with us, first of all.

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Pleasure, Jessica.

YELLIN: First, how should we read Iran's actions today? Do you believe that they have made their own nuclear fuel rods or is this just politics?

CROWLEY: Well, it could be both.

This is another step in a dangerous direction. I don't think I have any question -- reason to question that they have produced a fuel rod, which is part of an effort to refuel a research reactor, so they can produce medical isotopes.

Two years ago, the international community, including the United States, offered to provide them what they needed to fuel this reactor. And obviously over two years, they have declined.

YELLIN: But it's also politics, you believe.

CROWLEY: Sure.

Ironically, today, they did two things. One, they had this show of their nuclear progress. And on the other hand, they agreed to come back to discussions with what is called the P5 plus one, the group that engages Iran on these issues.

So they have strengthened their negotiating position, even as they have at least appeared to be reasonable publicly.

YELLIN: Israel has been warning of a possible -- well, there's a belief that Israel could at some point attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Do you see this as a provocation of Israel, that Iran's provoking Israel?

CROWLEY: Well, again there's tension here. With every development, whether it's progress in the nuclear program, whether it's attacking Israeli diplomats around the world, you just have these sparks. At any point, that spark could produce a dangerous escalation. YELLIN: The U.S. reaction was essentially to play down what happened today. Do you think that's the right response?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that this is a step that they have been pursuing, accelerating their program, enriching up to 20 percent. It's a process that takes some know-how. It's not yet to weapons- grade capability.

But the more they're at this, the more the centrifuges spin, the closer they get to having a capability where from that point it's a short distance from a civilian program to a weapons program.

YELLIN: Is this in any way insurance for Ahmadinejad?

CROWLEY: That's where the politics comes in.

As much as this is building a capability, this nuclear program is as much about regime protection. Iran looks around the world or it looks around the region. Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program. He's gone. Gadhafi gave up a nuclear program. He's gone. They're determined to produce a certain level of capability that in their view means that the regime is that much harder to overthrow.

YELLIN: And then there's the whole question of what happens to oil around the world. But we will get to that another day.

Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

CROWLEY: OK, Jessica.

YELLIN: Switching gears, every football fan knows these guys, but you will have to get used to "Monday Night Football" games without them. We will let you know who's leaving the booth.

And which pooch took the best in show at this year's Westminster Dog Show? Dalmatian? A terrier? Here's a hint. Think smaller and furrier.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back.

(NEWS BREAK)

YELLIN: And coming up: more on our top story. Ahead, could Iran launch an attack against Jewish targets here in the United States? Local communities, they're already taking precautions. We will explain.

Also ahead: a new focus in the investigation into Whitney Houston's death. Who prescribed the medication found in her hotel room? Dr. Drew joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: In this half-hour: As Whitney Houston's family prepares to lay her to rest, questions are swirling about who gave her the prescription meds found in the hotel room where her life came to an end.

Plus, is that Mitt Romney wielding a machine gun? No, it's a look-alike in a campaign ad targeting Romney in a state he can't afford to lose.

And no one can touch Will Ferrell's George W. Bush impression, but tonight the funny man is hanging with a different commander in chief.

New concerns tonight that Iran or its agents could strike here in the U.S. There's no specific threat, but a bulletin from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security lists American synagogues, Jewish schools and community centers as possible targets.

Here's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Will Jewish facilities have a police presence at their curbs for the foreseeable future? Jewish leaders tell us they're boosting their security, and for good reason.

With talk of a possible Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, there's new concern about how Iran might retaliate, maybe by using its proxies, like the terrorist group Hezbollah.

(on camera): What's Iran's capability of doing damage inside the United States?

FRANK CILLUFFO, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: You know, that's actually very difficult to give you a clear, concrete answer to, but we do know that Hezbollah does have its footprints, and they have a role and have had a presence in the United States in the broader America.

TODD (voice-over): Frank Silupo (ph) former homeland security aide to president Bush, says there are also criminal enterprises in the U.S. which Iran could tap into to carry out an attack.

(on camera) Experts say synagogues, Jewish community centers and schools are soft targets. This joint homeland security and FBI bulletin sent last week to law enforcement agencies says that violent extremist groups have long advocated attacking places like this. But it also says, as of last week, there was no specific threat to Jewish organizations inside the United States stemming from those recent tensions with Iran.

(voice-over) The homeland security official says there's been no change in that assessment since then. But I asked one woman about the threat as kids were let out at this synagogue.

(on camera) Places like this are sometimes considered soft targets. Are you concerned about that? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course I am, because I work in the community and I worry, not only as an individual, but also as a Jewish woman.

(voice-over) Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her agency is monitoring the Hezbollah threat.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are reaching out to particularly Jewish -- the Jewish community across the country who have been the intended targets in the past.

TODD: Iran has proven it can launch deadly strikes on foreign soil, bombing Jewish targets in Argentina, assassinating a former Iranian prime minister in Paris.

U.S. officials say, with their backs against the wall, the Iranians may again make a bold stroke like their alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

But former CIA officer Reuel Gerecht, who tracked Iranian operations, says that episode shows the regime can also bungle these plots.

REUEL MARC GERECHT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Even when the Iranians have succeeded in the past with terrorist strikes -- and they have often succeeded -- I don't know of one where we haven't recognized them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Gerecht says the Iranians may have sleeper cells inside the U.S. But he says it may take them a while to get those cells operational to carry out an attack. He says for that reason, if Iran is attacked look for there to be some lag time between that and a possible retaliatory strike -- Jessica.

YELLIN: Brian, that homeland/FBI -- homeland security/FBI bulletin says that, while there are no specific threats inside the U.S., it did mention another Hezbollah operation recently elsewhere. Do you know anything about that?

TODD: Yes. That bulletin says that an alleged Hezbollah plot was disrupted in Thailand last month, involving Israeli or Jewish targets in Asia. The targets and the timing of those planned attacks were not clear, and that does make it clear why Jewish leaders in this country are on alert based on that.

YELLIN: Absolutely. Very concerning. Thanks for the report, Brian.

TODD: Thanks.

YELLIN: Whitney Houston's private funeral will now be televised on Saturday. We got word this evening that cameras would be allowed inside Newark's New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston sang gospel as a child. Meanwhile, investigators want to know more about what was in Whitney Houston's pill bottles on the night she died. We still don't know what killed her. But authorities are tracking down her doctors and her pharmacies, hoping to learn more about those prescriptions.

Don Lemon is live in L.A.

And Don, we understand that you have some new information. Tell us what you've got. Hi, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We do have. Hi, Jess. We do have some new information. And it's important, because as you heard the coroner and Beverly Hills police confirm that there were prescription medications found in Whitney Houston's hotel room. And if she had prescription medications with her, then the odds are she was taking them.

Now, I have spoken to someone. And things aren't always as seem. And it contradicts -- not sort of, it does contradict what many of her friends, a number of her friends are saying, that Whitney was not drinking and she wasn't erratic in the days before her death.

Here's what that source says. And it's important -- again, this is according to a source who was briefed on Whitney Houston's behavior and activities days before her death.

They're saying she was seen ordering and consuming considerable quantities of alcohol before 10 a.m.: 9:30, sometimes as early in the morning on Wednesday and Thursday at the Beverly Hilton at the hotel bar and in the pool area.

And the source also says that guests on both days overheard Houston loudly complaining that her drinks were being, quote, "watered down"; they were putting too much ice in them.

And the source says other guests began to express concern about her erratic behavior, says her appearance on those days suggested to the witnesses and to other people that she was intoxicated. Her clothing was disheveled, even mismatched. And she was perspiring heavily. The source says Houston was even jumping in an and out of the pool area and doing somersaults in the pool area. Jumping in and out of the pool and doing somersaults in the pool area.

And they also added that she was alone some of the time, wandering between the hotel bar and the pool area, but she was also seen drinking in the pool area and at the hotel bar with her entourage and also with a male companion.

Saturday morning she was also seen the day of her death, they said, drinking at the pool bar, but her behavior was not erratic.

So the reason I say is that now, Jess, we have the coroner now who has subpoenaed doctors and pharmacies on the East Coast and West Coast about the drugs, prescription drugs that were prescribed to her and who filled them. They want to find out exactly what she was taking. YELLIN: This is so surprising because it's so different from what a lot of her friends as you've been reporting, Don, have been saying. Don't want to take away from the sadness around her death or make any assumption.

LEMON: Jess?

YELLIN: And I want to...

LEMON: I'm so glad that you're saying that.

YELLIN: Go ahead.

LEMON: Yes. I'm so glad that you're saying that. Because people are saying don't focus on, you know, the negative or whatever. This is the information. This is what sources are telling us. And this is a concern, because if you have this coroner who's subpoenaing people about prescription drugs that they confirm were found, and if she was indeed drinking, that is a concern. And that could possibly have led to her death.

We don't know until the investigation plays out, but we have to report these things. That's a reality. Those are the facts.

YELLIN: Absolutely. Great reporting. Thanks, Don, for staying on this. And we'll continue to follow your updates as you bring them. Don Lemon in Los Angeles. Thanks.

Continuing on this story as investigators search for answers to what did cause Whitney Houston's death, one thing that's a mystery is what is it that celebrities often -- why is it that celebrities often get away with erratic behavior while those around them say nothing?

Joining me now Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of "The Dr. Drew Show" on HLN and Marvet Britto, publicist to the stars who helped Mariah Carey reinvent her career after she suffered from what Carey's camp described as a "physical and emotional breakdown."

Dr. Drew, I want to start with you and your reaction to what we just heard Don Lemon report from a source who said that Whitney Houston was drinking alcohol before 10 a.m. on some of the days right before her death, even accusing a bartender of watering down her drink.

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN ANCHOR: Right. Well, it's very sad. I basically have a couple of comments to make.

One is, everyone has repeatedly reported that the night before she died that she was toasting and drinking champagne. And for somebody -- that has been reported from many different avenues, different sources. And for someone with her chronic, long-standing drug history, having just been at a treatment program in May, that is -- that is an emergency. That is somebody that people should have pulled -- just seeing that, people should have pulled her aside and said, "Honey, we've got to get back in the program. You are in serious trouble." Now if you add to that what we're hearing, what Don just reported, at the level of consumption she was maintaining, it wouldn't take much of those benzodiazepine medications to suppress her respirations and cause her to stop breathing. One or two potentially could have been enough to kill her, given what was reported.

YELLIN: Benzodiazepine is Xanax.

PINSKY: And let's remember -- there is Xanax, Lorazepam, and Valium, all from the class. They should never be prescribed together. They should never be prescribed for an addict. And they were all in her bathroom. And if you add any of those to the alcohol, that can make you stop breathing.

But I want to say one thing. Don is absolutely right. This should not in any way diminish this woman's life and career and what she -- the gifts she has given us.

But I am sick and tired of sitting here, of reporting celebrities dying of pharmaceutical drug deaths, one after the other. When are we going to have enough of this? When are doctors going to be held accountable? When are we going to not prescribe these kind of medicines to people who have addiction?

YELLIN: Marvet, this is a theme we hear, we see over and over, not just celebrities necessarily dying but celebrities in these crises, the whole world sees it happen.

They're surrounded by entourages, many of these celebrities. And you wonder why isn't anyone intervening? You see these people up close. What happens inside these entourages when no one reaches out to them until it's too late?

MARVET BRITTO, PUBLICIST: Well, I think that people do reach out. And people have to remember that there's a difference between there's some people who lack integrity and care more about the check than they do the client.

And the entertainment industry, sadly, is a fertile breeding ground for individuals who have their own agendas and those who really look to exploit the weaknesses of the celebrities that they represent.

It's -- most people are looking for access. They're looking for relationships. So it's hard to find the level of truth that most of these celebrities need to weather through very difficult times in their lives.

So -- but at the same time, every celebrity should also be and has to be held accountable for their own actions. You can only want so much for a person. There has to be a point when they have to want to do for themselves.

And we've heard a lot of blame. We've heard everyone wanting to blame Bobby, everyone wanting to blame the people around Whitney. But Whitney clearly knew what she was doing. She was a grown woman. So I do agree that everyone takes a responsibility when you have a work relationship and a friendship. But at the same time, we don't know what took place. We're making assumptions. Until we really know, I think the culture of celebrity is intoxicating for both the celebrity and the individuals around the culture of entertainment.

YELLIN: Dr. Drew, let me bring you in on this for a second. I'm curious if you'll clear up one thing for me. Is it possible for somebody who's been an alcoholic or addict to start having a drink every so often and...?

PINSKY: No. It's not possible, and it's been tried throughout history. It is not possible. It doesn't work. Moderation, they have to -- again, once someone has progressed to the point that they have significant chronic addictive pathology, which she clearly did. She had multiple treatments. That is somebody who is in a potential death as we have found out, in fact, was the case. She has a terminal condition. And the only way to avoid that terminal outcome is complete and total abstinence from benzodiazepines, opiates, cannabis, alcohol, all the substances that cause addiction, must all be avoided or the entire process is reawakened.

YELLIN: And Doctor Drew, the other people that -- we don't know -- we're not reporting what was in the room. But a lot of my friends and people I know said when they have heard things, well, who over 40 doesn't travel with prescription drugs of some nature like me?

PINSKY: Jessica -- Jessica, this is why -- this is why I'm so upset. This is why I'm -- people are accusing me of being too aggressive here. Your viewers must hear this.

If somebody has a -- this is a -- this is somebody with a terminal disorder. It's called addiction. And if somebody has addiction, there are certain things they can take and certain things they cannot. And if they do it, their underlying condition reawakens, and they are in harm's way. That's the nature of the disorder. It's a brain disorder. And once somebody triggers and throws the switch on that disorder, they cannot safely take these kinds of medication.

And for everyone around her to say, well, she's toasting and partying. Oh, my God. That is somebody who is in serious, serious trouble. And how that could go unnoticed, it's hard for me to understand.

I will tell you, though, I've treated lots and lots of celebrities. And what we're hearing is, in fact, the case. Some people refuse to bring it up for fare of triggering righteous indignation and limiting their access. But people that employ them are just as guilty. They want them back at work. She's making a movie in the fall. She should have spent the six to 12 months after May focusing on her sobriety and nothing else.

YELLIN: Marvet, haven't you seen that -- haven't you seen where celebrities really should be in rehab but people know that they'll lose money and so they don't push them to do it? BRITTO: Absolutely. I mean, they only really make money when they work. And there are so many people with so many agendas around the culture of entertainment that they fuel. And the gravity of the pressure is tremendous.

And it's really -- and for Whitney, you know, there were a number of variables. And none of us will fully know what took place on that -- on that afternoon. But I do believe that it's definitely a very toxic environment when you don't have people who can step in and step up and tell people the truth.

And it's also -- no one can be around a celebrity 24/7. So it's really about education. And it's really about their own free will.

PINSKY: Right. And Marvet...

BRITTO: And them doing because they desire to be better.

PINSKY: Marvet has a good point, which is at some point it does fall upon the celebrity. If you remember back to the Michael Jackson story, which is another pharmaceutical death here, Deepak Chopra told me he went in and confronted him very directly about his drug use and was dismissed from the inner circle.

So the celebrities have power. They have money, and they can control their inner circle. And to some extent, they maneuver it to such a way they can carry on with their disease. They're independent contractors. They're not employees. So the employer has no power.

So ultimately, there is a point here where we do have to hold the celebrity accountable, as well.

YELLIN: And then we're all fascinated with the drama, so they get more attention when they act out.

All right. Well, thanks to both of you for your time. HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky and Marvet Britto, we appreciate it.

And up next, which presidential candidates will make the 1 percent even richer? We'll tell you what voters think in our new poll.

And later, shocking video of the deadly fire that killed almost 300 people in Honduras.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Less than two weeks away from the next GOP primary contest in Arizona and Michigan, and Mitt Romney has a comfortable lead in the Grand Canyon State.

An American Research Group poll out today shows the former Massachusetts governor with a 7-point advantage over Rick Santorum. That's in Arizona.

But he's trailing Santorum in Romney's own state of Michigan. Ouch.

And in a new poll from the all-important battleground state of Ohio, the former Pennsylvania senator is beating Romney by seven points. That's important.

Joining me to talk about this volatile GOP race, Republican strategists Doug Heye and Rich Galen; and Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor Donna Brazile.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: She gets her own camera.

YELLIN: We worked it out that way. Believe me.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What it's like to be special.

YELLIN: Doug, let's start with you. How concerned should the Romney camp be about Michigan and Ohio, where he is trailing Rick Santorum now?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The concern is we're seeing these numbers, actually, in real states as opposed to national polls, which would mean anything. They're concerned. They're putting a strategy together. They have been putting a strategy together to start to combat that. That's why we're staring...

YELLIN: Meaning crush Santorum?

HEYE: I wouldn't say that. They might privately. But it's to really start to, as we would say, draw distinctions. And because we haven't had debates, it's going to be fought on the airwaves until we have the debates next week and moving forward.

YELLIN: There's a new poll we have out, Donna, today, that shows people's perceptions, voters' perceptions at how the president or different candidates' policies will affect them. Will they favor the rich?

And the majority of voters think that Romney's policies are the best for the rich; then Gingrich, Santorum and that the president's policies favor the rich the least.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But it favors the poor the most as opposed to middle class. That was the important part of that. There were three columns. Favors the rich, middle class, favorers the poor. The president's line (ph) favored the poor the most.

BRAZILE: Let me just say something. We're already 90 days since the census released data that shows that 49 million Americans are living in poverty, another 51 million living on razor's edge. So you have an economy really worried about it.

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: But voting behavior, that might make a difference. Nobody's going to run against the president by saying he cares too much about the poor. That's not going to happen, but I think it is interesting to follow that through.

BRAZILE: Well, so many Americans are now worried about their own economic health. It's clear to me that the president's policies are resonating with people who are right there in the middle, worried about their economic future.

GALEN: And that's exactly what they ought to be saying. That, if I were Santorum or Romney, I would be saying, "My concern is that the middle class doesn't drift into poverty." That's where we kind of need to...

YELLIN: Let's look at what Santorum is saying. This is a brand- new ad out from the Santorum campaign hitting Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time, Romney's firing his mud at Rick Santorum. Romney and his super PAC have spent a staggering 20 million attacking fellow Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: OK. So we get the point of this. Doug, is this going to hurt Romney, you think?

HEYE: It's a good move for Santorum to do. So often we see candidates talk about "my opponent is slinging mud." We don't see them doing it in this fashion, calling them Romney-bo, which is an attack they're going to try to make stick. If they do, then it will be effective...

YELLIN: Rombo.

HEYE: Exactly -- which we used to say about Rahm Emanuel. So we just changed the name, changed the spelling.

YELLIN: You're right.

HEYE: Absolutely. Sometimes, we can be bipartisan with language. But if it works for Santorum, it will put a check on some of the rhetoric that we see coming out of the Romney campaign. But that's tough to do.

BRAZILE: Romney is struggling. He is struggling right now to maintain his status as a front-runner. We had a very weak victory over the weekend in Maine caucuses and I'm not going to talk about the CPAC poll.

So Rick Romney -- I mean, Rick Santorum knows that Mitt Romney's going to try to define him. He doesn't -- Rick Santorum, people don't really know him. And so the Romney campaign will try to define him as somebody who's a Washington insider, someone who, like President Obama, doesn't have the right executive experience.

I don't know if it will help Mitt Romney. Part of the problem is, is that voters have had the opportunity to see Mitt Romney and they simply don't know which Mitt Romney they are looking at.

GALEN: The difference, I think -- and I'll finish this quickly -- with Santorum and Gingrich is people thought they knew Gingrich and Romney said, "Gingrich is -- it's not the same guy." Little different, more sophisticated with Santorum.

YELLIN: We'll see what they do to Santorum. We'll see what happens with the next ads.

(CROSSTALK)

HEYE: ... three months ago.

YELLIN: We'll start hearing that a lot. Yes. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the ear -- top of the hour.

Erin, Iran's president Ahmadinejad, easy for me to say, claims that his country has made some big nuclear advances. You're talking about that on your show tonight.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. It comes out today in the white lab coat, showing off these hot rods. And, you know, I guess sounds like a car, but obviously, a crucial part of the nuclear power equation and a nuclear rod, a big development for Iran.

They now say they're going to get yellow cake and that, of course, leads them further down the path of getting that 90-percent enriched uranium. That means a nuclear weapon. That date could be accelerated today. We talk about the real decision that America has to face with Iran, and it could with coming very soon. We have the bottom-line numbers on all of that.

And some of the pictures that we actually have of the nuclear facilities, how they looked a few months ago, how they look now, how they've changed, how they're masking things, are pretty incredible. We've been looking into that all day. We have that at the top of the hour, Jessica.

Plus, Jeremy Lin, you know, Lin-mania, Lintastic, all of those things, well, I have a Taiwanese-American in my family who is going to come "OUTFRONT" tonight to talk about how much Jeremy Lin means to him.

Back to you.

YELLIN: That sounds fun. See you then. Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Yes.

YELLIN: And next, the TV show "Glee" airs a special tribute to Whitney Houston. We have the moment you missed.

Plus, a heavy metal star endorses a presidential candidate. We'll tell you who and which and why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Here's Kate Bolduan with the latest news you need to know right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there. We've got some late breaking news to bring in to you -- bring to you.

Just in, our Dana Bash is reporting that Rick Santorum could release his tax returns as soon as tonight. An adviser says we'll get four years of his tax information, the length of a presidential term. But Santorum's been promising to release his taxes for a month now, first saying he had to go home to get them.

Speaking of Rick Santorum, we might be playing heavy metal music at his next campaign event. That's because today, the Republican presidential candidate locked in the endorsement of Megadeth front- runner, front man -- I say that in politics -- front man Dave Mustaine, who tells MusicRadar.com he doesn't like the job President Obama has done and prefers Santorum because his ads haven't gone negative.

YELLIN: Insert heavy metal joke there.

BOLDUAN: But it is interesting that he's talking about ads not going too negative. A lot of people would feel the same way.

YELLIN: And we're getting now to "The Moment You Missed." The TV show "Glee" belted out a tribute for the late Whitney Houston, and get this. They planned it all before her death. And here's a new take on the song we'll all remember Whitney for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC: "I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Amazing. They call that the note. You heard that? When she gets that high.

BOLDUAN: It is amazing.

YELLIN: They call it the note.

BOLDUAN: I think every girl has tried to sing some of her songs when we're alone.

YELLIN: I just go silent.

BOLDUAN: Pretty amazing how -- yes.

YELLIN: And that's all from us tonight. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.