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President Obama in Ohio; U.S. Drought Spreads; San Antonio Airport Evacuated; Tea Party Favorite Wins in Texas; Fed: U.S. Economy "Decelerated"; Dems: Romney "Basically Paid No Taxes"; Ebola Death Toll Grows In Uganda; Drought Could Cause Higher Food Costs; Microsoft Design Puts Robots To Work; Playing Politics By Ordering Chicken; Latest Olympic Results

Aired August 1, 2012 - 16:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: We, of course, will keep you up to date on what is happening in San Antonio. We do know at this point that a bomb threat has been called in, the airport being evacuated, incoming planes sent to the areas that are far away from the airport. CNN, of course, staying on top of that news.

Also, President Obama comes back to Ohio hammering away at Mitt Romney's tax plan. But the Romney campaign is there as well and fighting back.

Also, the spreading U.S. drought. Half the counties have now been declared disaster zones. And we're learning the price all of us may pay.

Plus, investigators believe they -- this may be the face of a suicide bomber -- new developments in the probe into a deadly terror attack.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Candy Crowley. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The battle for the White House now centered in the state of Ohio. President Obama paid yet another visit to what both campaigns see as a must-win state. And, today, the president came armed with a new report on tax policy that he used to hammer away at Mitt Romney.

Our CNN White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is traveling with the president.

Dan, the president pretty much could take up citizenship in Ohio at this point.


He was right here in Akron almost a month ago. It was a part of his bus tour. And since he announced his reelection bid last spring, the president has been to this state about a dozen or so times. So, this is really a crucial state not only for the president, but also for Mitt Romney. And today the president was going after his opponent on his tax plans, saying that they would be bad for the middle class. But the president also came under fire on two fronts, for proposed budget -- defense budget cuts and also for the auto bailout.




OBAMA: Hey, Leah.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): It's standard operating procedure on the campaign trail. Drop in for burgers or sweets at popular local spots.

OBAMA: I think this would be perfect for Michelle.

LOTHIAN: A photo-op meant to reinforce the president's reelection message, that he's looking out for hardworking Americans and small business owners and his opponent, Mitt Romney's policies will only benefit the very rich.

OBAMA: Folks making $3 million a year or more would get a quarter-of-a-million-dollar tax cut.

LOTHIAN: To drive that point home, the president touted a new report by the Tax Policy Center. It didn't specifically analyze Romney's plan, but found that similar proposals benefit high-income families and increase the tax burden on the middle class.

OBAMA: Does that sound like a good plan for economic growth? Does that sound like a plan you can afford?

CROWD: No! No!

LOTHIAN: The Romney campaign that sent its bus to circle the president's event in Akron dismissed the report as another liberal study and blamed the president's failed policies for the ailing economy. And they took another shot at the president's auto bailout, releasing a new ad in a state where one out of every eight jobs is tied to the auto industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dream that we worked for and that we worked so hard for was gone.

OBAMA: And if you still believe in me like I believe in you...

LOTHIAN: But in campaign ads and on the trail, the president routinely takes credit for rescuing the auto industry and saving hundreds of thousands of jobs.

It wasn't just autos in the crosshairs on this visit, but airplanes. Air Force One touched down at the National Guard base in Mansfield, home to the 179th Airlift Wing and the C-27 cargo plane. Defense budget cuts threaten the plane's future and this base's mission.

In a statement, Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman said -- quote -- "These Ohioans have answered the call to serve. They must be pretty frustrated to see the president drop into town and fail to give them a straight answer about his plans to end their important mission."


LOTHIAN: If this moves forward, it would impact some 800 million personnel.

What is interesting, Candy, yesterday when White House spokesman Jay Carney at the briefing was asked about this, he seemed to be unaware of the issue. Today though in the gaggle aboard Air Force One on the way here to Ohio, Jay Carney said that the reason for this was because of redundancy with the aircraft. But he said the president was committed to finding another mission for the unit there -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Dan Lothian, people watching how every dime is spent of government money at this point. Thanks so much.

The president's visit comes as polling shows him ahead of Mitt Romney in Ohio and Florida. It's hard to get more critical than that. The Quinnipiac/CBS/"New York Times" survey gives Mr. Obama a six-point lead in both states when voters are asked who they'd vote for if the election was held today.

We want to get more with CNN political analyst Gloria Borger.

Six points certainly is a pretty big lead given what these polls have been for so long.


BLITZER: What's changed here?

BORGER: It's also significant, Candy, because it's among likely voters, not just registered voters.

So you're narrowing the pool to a certain degree. So it's very important. There are some real signals for Mitt Romney that he has to pay attention to. First of all, he's trailing with women. Women are so important. In the state of Ohio, President Obama is ahead with women by 21 points.

Generally, Mitt Romney can compensate for that by doing well with men. And he's not doing as well with men as he should be if he's going to make up for that large gender gap. Also, the president's plan to let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire is very, very popular with people in these battleground states.

And then there's another issue that looms very large for Mitt Romney. And let's take a look at it. That's whether he cares about the average person. And if you take a look at this and you see, does Mitt Romney care, 42 percent say he does in Florida, 38 percent in Ohio.

But 49 percent say Mitt Romney does not care about the average person and 55 percent in Ohio. That notion that he doesn't care about you or your problems is something that's been dogging him throughout this campaign. He clearly hasn't been able to shake that.

CROWLEY: Right. It's the relatability issue.

BORGER: Right.

CROWLEY: Does he understand you and your problems, which is what elections are about.


CROWLEY: So then explain the head-scratcher to me when candidates -- which candidate seen at best at helping people.

BORGER: Yes. Take a look at this number, because I think it shows you that people don't really -- they're not really thrilled with either of these fellows.

If elected, do you think Romney or Obama would help or hurt your own personal financial situation? And if you look at it, they're pretty much tied there. People believe that Obama would hurt, 38 percent, Romney 37 percent, help, both 26 percent, no difference at all for both of them, 34 percent.

That was kind of stunning to me, actually, because what it says to me is that maybe the negative ads are canceling each other out and it's a pox on all your houses. And people are saying, you know what, I may not like President Obama, but I'm not sure Mitt Romney's going to be that much better.

And don't forget Mitt Romney's whole big spiel is the economy. And these people are saying, you know, six of one, half-a-dozen of the other on that.

CROWLEY: Or maybe people are thinking the government can't help me.

BORGER: Right. That's right.

CROWLEY: They have seen the government stumble, so neither one of these guys could actually do it.

BORGER: And maybe they're turned off and maybe they won't turn out to vote. That's another possibility.

CROWLEY: That would be a problem for both of them actually.


CROWLEY: So tell me about whether there's anything in there that shows that they're liking either one of these candidates. BORGER: Well, when you look at the likability, and the question is, do you view the candidates favorably, and take a look at this. President Obama has reached the 50 percent mark in Florida, 51 percent in Ohio, Romney significantly below him.

And it's not as if people are overwhelmingly approving of the president, but 50 percent is really important. And also, when people like you, Candy, I think they're more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as a leader. So that has always been the president's edge over Mitt Romney.

He has to get those likability numbers up. He will try and do it at the convention when he tries to tell people who he is, what motivates him and why he cares so much about the country. That's what happens at conventions. But at this point, they're still waiting for an answer.

CROWLEY: And sure. And if your likability figure if you're looking at electorate that goes I don't think either of these guys help me, it kind of matters which one you like better. You go, but I sort of like him.

BORGER: That's right. Right.

They still give Romney some better scores on the economy generally, but on my personal financial situation, if you don't really think there's a dime's worth of difference between either of these folks, then you're going to say, OK, who do I feel more comfortable with as a leader? And so that could become even more important.

CROWLEY: Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, thank you.


CROWLEY: We are following developments on Capitol Hill, where the House will be voting any time now on dueling proposals set to extend the Bush tax cut, set to expire at the end of the year.

CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill for us.

Dana, we know Republicans have the votes to pass a one-year extension across the board all of the Bush tax cuts. Democrats don't have the votes for their plan to extend it just to the middle class. So I'm going to take a wild guess. This is just politics?


I know that you're having trouble standing still because you're so surprised by that. Yes, it is just politics, to be fair, just like it was just politics when the Senate Democrats did the same thing last week, passed their proposal, which, of course, is to just extend the Bush era tax cuts for the middle class.

And the reason it's just politics is because neither side has the votes to make this become law right now. But as far as Republicans go, who, of course, run the House of Representatives, they're doing this now just before they leave for a month-long recess to campaign for reelection, all of them, because they want to really hit this hard against Democrats.

Speaker John Boehner was just on the House floor. He put it this way, and he summed it up saying raising taxes at this point in the economy is a big mistake. And, Candy, they already have 89 Democrats targeted. Those 89 Democrats voted two years ago to extend all of the Bush era tax cuts for two years, many of them said, because the economy was bad. And Republicans point out over and over that the economy seems to be worse now.

CROWLEY: Well, we know that House Republicans are holding this because obviously they think it's to their political advantage to be on the record as extending all the House -- all the Bush tax cuts. What do Democrats think, if anything, they will gain out of this vote?

BASH: It's interesting. They're not running from this. In fact, they're running towards this politically because they argue on the Democratic side that they think that they are right when it comes to the policy goal here.

They say that that is reflected in the public opinion polls, which according to many that we have seen they actually are correct. And the public opinion polls show that most people, especially independent voters, want to extend just those for the middle class.


BASH: And they also feel that they are able to really hit Republicans for wanting to protect the rich.

And in fact I was just e-mailing with somebody at the Democratic Campaign Committee, the folks who are in charge of getting Democrats elected, and they say they already have some online ads ready to go in 23 districts against Republicans for, as I said, trying to protect the rich for voting against just an extension on the middle-class tax cuts.

CROWLEY: Our Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, not much policy going on there, but lots of politics. Thanks, Dana.

When we come back, we will have a new report. We will be talking to someone at the San Antonio Airport. As we told you before, a bomb threat was called into that airport some time ago. It's been evacuated. Incoming planes have been told to move to places far away from the airport. There are people on the tarmac, of course, not being allowed to go into the facilities. So we will get an update on that.

Plus, a top Democrat says Mitt Romney basically paid no taxes for over a decade, a serious allegation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Does he have any proof?

Also, Dick Cheney called her nomination for vice president a mistake, and now Sarah Palin has a few choice words for Dick Cheney. And it's one of the deadliest viruses in the world. Now new deaths are being reported in the latest Ebola outbreak.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CROWLEY: We are following a story out of San Antonio. You are now looking at some tape we brought in just a little bit earlier. These are people standing on the tarmac at San Antonio International Airport.

What we learned and what has happened is they had to evacuate the airport after a bomb threat was called in. All the planes we are told that were incoming were moved to -- were told to go to areas far away from the airport. But obviously passengers out there on the tarmac as a result of this bomb threat being called in.

I want to bring Rich Johnson. He is public information officer at San Antonio International.


RICH JOHNSON, SAN ANTONIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (via telephone): Yes. This time we do have our terminal facilities evacuated due to a specific threat that was called in to our airport earlier this afternoon around 2:00. About 2:35 local time, we did evacuate our terminal facilities. We have done a sweep of one of our terminals, which is terminal B. And we are actually bringing people back into that facility.

CROWLEY: So these people that we're seeing and I imagine --

JOHNSON: This is just happening right now.

CROWLEY: OK. So the people we saw earlier on the tarmac and obviously it's brutally hot in San Antonio this time of the year, are being allowed to come back into a terminal that's been swept, correct?

JOHNSON: Yes, correct. We did have some medical help out there. There was nothing that was reported at this time. But it is warm out here right now. So we're trying to get some water to some of these people and get them on buses and into a safe sheltered area. We're trying to get some public transit out here to help us out.

CROWLEY: And tell me about incoming air traffic. What's happening with those inbound planes?

JOHNSON: Yes. Inbound planes are being allowed to land. They're just being held out on our tarmac area, away from the terminal facilities at this time. And then aircraft that we did have at the terminal facilities were backed out. And either were cleared to takeoff or they were also held.

CROWLEY: OK. When you say a specific threat, can you just try to define that for me? Is that something where someone says I have placed a bomb in this or that terminal? Or is it because they mentioned the San Antonio airport?

JOHNSON: Correct.

CROWLEY: Which one?

JOHNSON: It was a little bit of both. It was called in specifically to our airport. There were specific locations as well as specific numbers that were given to the people who answered the phones.

CROWLEY: And we are told that perhaps that specific threat was for the parking garage. Can you confirm that for me?

JOHNSON: I can't at this time.

CROWLEY: OK. And how long will it take you to sweep the rest of the airport?

JOHNSON: Again, we're working on that. We do have one whole terminal already swept and cleared for people to enter. It's just working up now on our bigger terminal, which is terminal A. And like you said, there may be some external facilities as well that need to be swept.

CROWLEY: And can you tell me, Mr. Johnson, when -- as far as incoming -- I have no idea how planes fly into San Antonio in a given hour. Are all of them that are scheduled to come in, there's still room for them one assumes? I mean, you can still have them land very far away and have them sit there, right?

JOHNSON: Yes. At this time we have plenty of room for additional aircraft. We have about 260 total flights in and out flights and about 14,000 to 15,000 passengers a day. So we're looking at now probably 10 to 13 flights. And right around 1,000 people that are affected.

CROWLEY: And so far we have to emphasize nothing has gone off. You've found nothing suspicious, is that correct?

JOHNSON: At this time I can't confirm that.

CROWLEY: OK. Is that just because you don't know the results of the search? Or you're not allowed to?

JOHNSON: Correct. It's ongoing at this time.

CROWLEY: All right. Great. Thank you so much. Rich Johnson, he's public information officer at San Antonio International. Thank you so much for your time.

We, of course, at CNN will continue to check-in, hopefully with Mr. Johnson and others to see what's going on there. But, right now, of course everyone's safe. And in fact they're trying to get water to some of those folks you saw stranded out there on the tarmac.

Another thing we are watching very closely this election year is the balance of power in congress. Right now, the Democrats tenuously control the U.S. Senate. They have 51 votes plus the body's two independents.

As of today, the race for the open Republican seat from Texas is a lot more interesting. Democrat Paul Sadler is the underdog against a suddenly rising Republican star Ted Cruz, just beat a Republican establishment candidate for the Republican nomination.

Our CNN political reporter Shannon Travis is here.

Shannon, this is sounding so familiar. Tea Party candidate (AUDIO GAP) establishment. He kind of came out of nowhere.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: He did come out of nowhere, although a lot of Tea Parties have been backing this guy for a while now.

Let's do a little bit of background. It was basically a hard scrap between these two men, man-to-man. They emerged from a crowded field of Republicans back in a May primary. The two of them emerged and they basically went man-to-man again, political combat in this race.

Cruz, who was the Tea Party-backed candidate, was outspent by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who is the more Republican establishment type by three-to-one and yet he still won this. But the other interesting about this, Candy, is it also split the Republican Party down certain lines as well. You had Governor Perry backing his lieutenant governor, Dewhurst, and the likes of Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum backing Ted Cruz. Again, obviously Palin and Santorum are huge Tea Party figures.

So you're seeing a bit of a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, if you will. At least that's what a lot of political observers and my sources are telling me, that this is essentially a battle for the Republican Party. Which way will it swing? More towards the more hard right Tea Party types or more towards the moderate establishment types.

CROWLEY: Have you been able to sort of assess yet is this a big enough rift or deep enough rift to maybe cause some of those more moderate, more established Republicans to take a good look at the Democratic candidate?

TRAVIS: Yes, they are. A lot of Democrats are saying, you know what, every time a Tea Party-backed candidate wins one of these Republican primaries, this gives the Democrat more of an opening. As you mentioned, this is probably less likely in a red state like Texas, but Republicans on both sides are basically assessing the situation and saying, hey, you know what, do we need to move a little bit more towards the Tea Party? Because they seem to be the ones with all the momentum and energy. Or do we kind of say, you know what, we accept you, we'll let you kind of have some of your issues up at play, but we'll kind of contain you and keep you in a box?

Tea Parties of course are saying that these are steps in a, quote, "hostile takeover of Washington". That's their ultimate goal, Candy.

Lots of echoes from 2010.

TRAVIS: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: Shannon Travis, thanks very much.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

CROWLEY: There's a new development in the international fight against terrorism. Bulgarian police say this man is the suicide bomber who attacked a bus loaded with Israeli tourists. They're hoping somebody knows who he was and who he worked for. More on that in a minute.

Also, new proof of atrocities on both sides of Syria's civil war.


CROWLEY: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Mary, there's been a sharp spike in Syria's death toll after intense fighting in two major cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Candy. An opposition group says 117 people were killed across the country today. Syrian President Bashar al Assad made a public plea to his military in which he said opposition forces are using, quote, "inside agents" to destabilize the country.

Meantime, France promises new efforts to stop Syria's civil war after it took over leadership of the U.N. Security Council.

A look at a new computer-generated image of the suicide bomber accused of killing five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver. The group arrived from Tel Aviv to vacation at the Black Sea coast resort. They have not ruled out a coordinated attack, tensions were heightened when Israel implicated Iran or an Islamist militant group.

Here in the U.S., an unexpected pick-me-up on the jobs front as companies add more workers than expected in the month of July. Payroll processing company ADP reports an increase of 163,000 jobs. That's still less than the 172,000 added in June. However, analysts say if the Labor Department's report on Friday is similar, it could send an encouraging economic message -- Candy.

CROWLEY: And heaven knows what the economy could use is an encouraging note or at least consumers could. Thanks so much, Mary Snow. Appreciate it.

SNOW: Sure.

CROWLEY: It is an allegation that could damage Mitt Romney's campaign if it's true. A top Democrat says the candidate paid basically no taxes for a dozen years. But is there any proof?

Plus, the Federal Reserve takes note of a slowing economy. So what does it plan to do about it? Details of possible action, straight ahead.


CROWLEY: It is not the assessment anyone wanted to hear and it fell to the Federal Reserve to deliver it today. The nation's central bank says the U.S. economy has slowed down or in fed speak decelerated.

The question is what does the Fed plan to do about it? CNN's Alison Kosik joins us live with details. Alison, did the Fed do anything about it?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Today, the Fed did not do anything about it. Pretty much kept everything status quo. You can see the reaction in the market today. The market really didn't move much because they didn't hear anything surprising.

The Fed wound keeping rates -- keeping interest rates right where they are near zero until at least late 2014. The little bit of difference we did see what the Fed said in its language, what the committee did is it took a more down beat view of the economy saying the recovery decelerated in the first half of the year.

But what really popped out is its language as this, it said it will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger recovery. This is more aggressive language than it's used in the past instead of just saying prepared.

So what the Fed really seems to be doing is getting closer to pulling the trigger on taking stimulus action, which could happen at its next meeting in September -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Well, Alison, what could it do? There's a lot of commentary out there that the Fed is really out of ammo at this point.

KOSIK: And that's what many critics say. I mean, you think about what the Fed has done already. It's keeping interest rates at exceptionally low levels until 2014. And then sure that's helping us all finance our mortgages, finance our cars and that's helping.

But let's say the Fed goes ahead and puts this stimulus into the economy, which essentially means that what the Fed would do is buy up lots of treasury bonds, lots of treasury bonds. And put that money into banks.

The problem is, is that it's already done this twice before. So this would be the third time around and it helps temporarily as we saw in the past, but many critics are wondering what it could do now because this is really a question about demand.

Just because the banks have that money, it doesn't mean they're going to want to go ahead and loan it out. They really don't have incentive to do that because interest rates are so low. So they sit on that money.

And it doesn't really address the bigger problem in this country and that is jobs. How is the Fed able to get the jobs market really moving? And that is really the conundrum that the Fed is in -- Candy.

CROWLEY: CNN's Alison Kosik, thank you.

Democrats trying to gin up some outrage over Mitt Romney's taxes. Joining me for today's "Strategy Session," our Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, Donna Brazile along with Republican strategist, Ana Navarro. She is also a CNN contributor.

OK, yesterday, ladies, in "The Huffington Post," Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader said he had information that Mitt Romney, quote, "basically paid no taxes in the last 12 years."

Now we know that's not true for the last year anyway because he did pay taxes although at a lower rate than some people. Today at an Obama event, we have the former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, saying this.


TED STRICKLAND, FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Think of this, my friends. Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than millions of middle class workers. And he may, he may have paid no taxes at all in some years, but we don't have any way to know for sure. Because Mitt Romney unlike his father refuses to release his income tax returns.


CROWLEY: So, Donna, it sounds to me when you add that up with Senator Reid's statement yesterday, the Democrats are trying to smoke out Mitt Romney on his tax returns.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I don't think the Democrats are alone. If you read some of the leading editorials across the country, including "The Washington Post" and other significant newspapers, they're also saying, Mr. Romney, please show us your returns.

This is not unheard of. As you know, this is something that most presidential candidates, nominees, have done since the early 1960s. I think Mitt Romney should follow his father's example and end this speculation and release his tax returns.

He told ABC News over the weekend that he would release more of his previous returns. I think the one that he released already, 2010, and still some three days later they're stonewalling. This is not just the Democrats. This is media organizations and others basically asking the question, what are you hiding?

CROWLEY: Ana, you know, at some point in every campaign's life there comes a time when an issue hits critical mass. And pushing back against it just is not worth the time and effort anymore.

Do you think that time is nearing for Mitt Romney or do you think he's given a plausible answer for why he won't release his back taxes -- tax returns?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the next 15 days may be very interesting because one of the things he said is that he's going to release two tax returns. We're waiting for the 2011 ones.

And as you know, the automatic extension period runs out for all Americans August 15th. So I'm hoping to see another tax return. I wouldn't be surprised if we see another tax return in the next 15 days.

That being said, I think it is highly irresponsible for somebody like Harry Reid, who is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, to throw out a rumor that is completely unsubstantiated and has no facts.

We can all see through what's happening here. Democrats want to use this. They want to turn unsubstantiated rumors and insinuate that Mitt Romney has done something wrong. When the truth is there's absolutely no evidence that he has done anything wrong.

BRAZILE: Ana, how do we know what the truth is? Because he refuses -- he's stubborn about this. The campaign has basically stonewalled in the media. The media's requested these returns.

These stories were generated by the media. Of course, the Democrats and others will pick up on it. The speculation is out there. The only way to end the speculation is for Governor Romney to allow a little sunshine and just release the returns.

He's running for the presidency of the United States. Release the returns. Put it behind him so that he can go out there and create some more gaffes.

CROWLEY: And, Ana --

NAVARRO: Donna, as you know, I have said that I think he should release more tax returns. But I am so ready to move on from this issue. I mean, we have beat this rug to death at this point. It's ready to go to the important issues.

And how do we know he hasn't done anything wrong is there's no indication ever in Mitt Romney's life that he's done anything wrong or illegal. And in the one tax return we did see and we picked over like vultures over a carcass that he had used every mechanism to pay the lowest tax rate he could.

And I don't think there's anything wrong. I think every American would want to do the same and that's not a trait that I think is a bad trait on a person.

BRAZILE: Most don't have highly paid accountants they can use in every trick in the book. CROWLEY: But she does have a point that at this point there's no evidence that Mitt Romney did anything other than use the loopholes that by the way Washington wrote into the tax code.

BRAZILE: I'm not accusing him of doing anything wrong.


BRAZILE: I'm just saying release the returns. I work for a congressional candidate and it was alleged that she didn't file her local taxes. We got to the bottom of it.

But we didn't just release one year of returns. We had to release clearly 10 years of returns. I just think that when you're running for public office, you have to expect that people want to know some things that you might feel a little uncomfortable sharing.

CROWLEY: Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro, thank you so much both of you.

More than half of all U.S. counties have now been designated disaster zones. It's because of the drought. Coming up, the latest on what that might do to your grocery bill.

And today, especially where you eat could make a big statement about your politics.


CROWLEY: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, I know you have a story about more people dying from sickness in Uganda.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Candy, health workers are desperate to stop a killer and they are tracking anyone who may have come into contact with those infected with the Ebola in Uganda.

Sixteen people are now dead including a teenage boy in a western district who also lost nine relatives to the virus. Uganda's president warned people not to gather in large groups while dozens of suspected cases are investigated.

Higher grocery bills may be inevitable. This summer drought was devastating to U.S. Agriculture and now more than half of all U.S. counties have been declared disaster zones.

The damaging conditions that stretched out across the nation's corn belt also impacted crops like soybeans, hay and land used to raise cattle. USDA reports food prices could spike nearly 5 percent in 2013.

And is your boss like a robot? Microsoft is working on a mobile robot outfitted with cameras and a high-def display that would allow someone to be in two places at once.

The user would sit in front of a web cam and can move around the robot even having a one on one conversation with someone standing in front of it. Robots with similar features run around $10,000 a pop and it can also mean no more vacations either.

CROWLEY: Exactly, exactly. I'm not sure what to make of that story. Boss is a robot. We'll revisit it later. Thanks, Mary.

SNOW: Sure.

CROWLEY: Whooping cough is making a deadly comeback in the U.S. and there's concern part of the reason may be the vaccine itself.

Plus, the latest results from the London Olympic games. You can see them now instead of later tonight, but consider that your spoiler alert.


CROWLEY: Across the country today, opponents of same sex marriage are voting with their breakfast, lunch and dinner orders. One-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared August 1st to be Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day in support of the restaurant chain's president who is a vocal opponent of same sex marriage.

CNN's George Howell is keeping track of events in suburban Atlanta -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, things are much quieter here at this Chick-Fil-A in suburban Atlanta, but around the noon time hour, around lunch time. As you imagine at these Chick-Fil-A franchises it gets busy.

But today the owner of a restaurant just the next door to this Chick-Fil-A said this is the busiest he's seen this Chick-Fil-A since he's been in business. So a lot of people showed up here today.

In fact, we even saw a group of people from a nearby church who showed up here to take a picture in front of Chick-Fil-A for Chick- Fil-A Appreciation Day.

Also want to talk about what we saw in Houston, Texas. We saw lines outside the doors of the Chick-Fil-A franchise there. A lot of people came out to support this. And today we spoke to some people who said they want to take a stand. Take a listen.


MCDONALD, CHICK-FIL-A SUPPORTER: When I heard what was happening on the news last night, I say that I will not let that stop me from going in there. After all, as far as I'm concerned, chicken isn't done nothing to nobody.

JOEL GREGORY, CHICK-FIL-A SUPPORTER: That's probably 100 to 150 people out here today, staff and members of our church that could get by here today and I just think it's a good feeling. We're all believers. We're all Christians. It's good for us to support each other and support people that support Christian values.


HOWELL: So, Candy, keeping it in context, we are talking about suburban Atlanta. We're in the Bible belt, also where this company was founded where many people understand the values of this particular company.

So you find a lot of support maybe more opposition in places where the company expanded, for instance, NYU in New York. Take a listen to what some students had to say about it.


MO BOWERS, STUDENT: It's just bad business and bad policy, I think. That's my personal opinion. I wouldn't eat there. And I actually am surprised they're still here because I don't think that most of my friends, the people I associate, would eat there.

JESSE BACHIR, STUDENT: I don't eat that because I don't like their policies.


HOWELL: So a lot of people taking a stand on this. But you also find, Candy, some people who just decided to come here regardless.

CROWLEY: Well, that's what I was going to ask you. Did you see some people were surprised to show up at Chick-Fil-A today in suburban Atlanta to find it's the site for people to come and talk what sounds like religion and politics?

HOWELL: You know, you do find that. You find some people who said, you know, this is where I typically eat lunch or dinner, for instance, and I'm going to continue doing that.

I did speak with one person, Candy, who said I do not agree on the company stance on same sex marriage. But this is the restaurant I like. I like the quality of the food.

So this person said I'm going to continue going. But you also find, Candy, those people who have taken this as a political statement to eat at Chick-Fil-A or to stop eating here.

CROWLEY: Yes. George Howell in suburban Atlanta for us. Thanks, George.

"Hot Shots" is next. And then what's behind a deadly rise in cases of whooping cough?


CROWLEY: President Obama today phoned the members of the gold medal winning U.S. women's gymnastic team. Will he have more congratulatory calls to make after today's competitions? Keep watching and you won't have to wait for tonight's reruns to find out because we have our resident spoiler with us here. Our Tom Foreman with today's results.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is our spoiler alert just as it's been the past couple days. Look, if you don't want to know who won, turn away from the TV, turn the sound down for about three minutes then come back.

I'm telling you now. Don't be mad if you don't pay attention. Let's get to it here. Jump in and look at results. Start our timer here. Best story of the day. Kristen Armstrong, she's from Boise, Idaho, almost 39 years old. She is in no way related to Lance Armstrong.

And yet she went out in the women's time trial today. She covered 18 miles in 37:35. She's bordering pushing up to almost 30 miles an hour, magnificent performance. She didn't even know she'd be back.

Ten, 11 years ago, she had osteoarthritis so bad she didn't know if she could be an Olympian. She won the gold. She wanted to have a son. She dropped out for a while, came back today right to the finish line. Look at that, the gold medal, a magnificent finish.

That's her son, Lucas, with her right there. She said I wanted to get him something to play with. That's something to play with. Great, great, great story about a great bicycle rider. We should be very proud of her in this country.

Swimming, another big finish here. Nathan Adrian, this guy was not supposed to win. He's up against this guy called the Australian torpedo. James Magneson, the world champion, wasn't supposed to win, got to the wall and reached out and in 0.001, the smallest possible margin, he grabbed the gold as well.

So did the women in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay so big wins there in the swimming arena and the biggest story of the day, beyond that we had some other wins that were important. We had a bronze in men's gymnastics, in the overall men's gymnastics, that's a big accomplishment.

And also the British picked up their first gold today in rowing. We picked up a bronze in that as well. More details on that later. The biggest story of the day, believe it or not, is this, these teams.

Two from South Korea, one from Indonesia and one from China in badminton who were disqualified because they allegedly weren't trying to play hard enough. They were basically trying to throw the matches.

That's what the officials said. And they think they were trying to do it so they would have a better seed in the finals against weaker opponents. They were warned.

And then they were all booted from the competition. These are some of the top teams which have left teams like Canada suddenly in contention for medals who didn't think they'd have a chance at all, amazing, amazing story.

And, Candy, sometimes there is some bad in badminton. That's the lesson of the day.

CROWLEY: Thanks for that, Tom. Actually, I'm really happy the Brits won something. I think that's great.


CROWLEY: I think that's wonderful for them. Get me up-to-date on the medal count.

FOREMAN: Well, the medal count for the Brits, that's the goal they were looking for. They were really happy to get that. The host team wants to win something. The women went out and road their hearts out and made something good happen.

Here's the count as of this hour, China with 30 total. We're right behind them, one behind. They have 17 gold. We have 12 gold. We've a pretty good catch up on this side over here.

Japan, France, Germany up there next to us. These are the big ones up there. We'll see what happens as this goes on and how this adds up as the competition continues, Candy, so really quite an amazing, amazing day. Some good strides for the U.S. team. We'll have to see if they can keep that going. It's been a great, great Olympics so far. I'm having a blast.

CROWLEY: I am too, actually. I almost put my hands over my ears when you were talking, but I can't do that. Tom Foreman, thanks for ruining it for us today. Appreciate it.

Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." In the Philippines boys collect recyclable materials after a storm clutters the shore. In Lebanon, female police officers march in a graduation parade.

In Panama, I-Reporter, Edmundo Ford snaps a picture of a whale. And in China, a couple sits on a toilet-shaped seat as they enjoy their dinner. "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.