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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Tropical Storm Isaac Threatens Gulf Coast; Protecting the Republican National Convention; RNC, DNC Speakers Crossing Party Lines; 157 Killed Across Syria; School Shooting Critically Wounds Teen; Neil Armstrong To Be Buried Friday; Advice For GOP; New Surveillance Technology At RNC
Aired August 27, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Isaac eyes the Gulf Coast, the tropical storm now eerily following in Katrina's footsteps almost seven years to the day that the vicious hurricane devastated the region. The latest storm update only minutes away, we're going to bring it to you live as soon as we get it.
Plus, New Orleans is put to the test. We're live on the ground, where the city is working to prevent a repeat of the heart-wrenching scenes from seven years ago.
And an extraordinary inside look at the controversial technology being used to protect the more than 50,000 people who have already gathered here in Tampa for the Republican National Convention. You're going to find out how it can alert authorities to a crime sometimes before it even happens.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tampa. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with chilling memories of Hurricane Katrina's deadly wrath almost seven years to the day that it permanently changed the face of the Gulf Coast as we know it.
Now Tropical Storm Isaac is zeroing in on the region, traveling on a very similar path.
BLITZER: Let's go straight to our meteorologist, Chad Myers. He's standing by at the CNN Severe Weather Center for the latest on Isaac's track.
Where is it heading? What's going on now, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the latest in the past couple of hours that really no one's really even seen yet. This is all brand-new, is that Isaac is almost outside of its cone.
I'm going to zoom in here. Storm is still 65 miles per hour. But the storm has shifted to the left. The cone is here. The center of the storm is actually to the left of the cone. If this wobble or if this left turn continues, that could take it farther off toward the north and toward the west, certainly to the west of New Orleans, giving a sigh of relief to the people there. Even if it gets big, it won't be a direct hit if it stays off the coast. But there are obviously other people on the other side. Remember the cone goes all the way from Beaumont, Port Arthur all the way over to Mobile. They do and sometimes wobble all the time.
Something else we saw today, significant flooding across the East Coast of Florida. At times we had feet of water in people's homes. In Broward County, water -- still raining here and water still going up. It's going to be a mess of a night here.
You may even where you are, Wolf, maybe even hear the tornado siren once in a while tonight because these storms are slowly rotating. They could put down small waterspout -sized tornadoes. Don't be surprised if you see that anywhere across the Florida Peninsula tonight.
BLITZER: I can tell you, Chad, as I was driving here to the convention center from my hotel, I did hear those tornado warning sirens go off.
It's a little startling when you hear it and you see some of the reaction from other folks out on the street or cars. It was raining already. But I did hear those tornado warning sirens go off.
Here's the question, though. It would be worse for New Orleans if this -- if it eventually becomes a hurricane -- if it hits a little bit to the west of New Orleans than if it hits a little bit to the east of New Orleans.
MYERS: That's correct. That is absolutely correct.
In fact, Katrina was east of New Orleans. Katrina wasn't a direct hit on New Orleans. Katrina was a direct hit on Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. Wall of water 25 feet tall went into Bay Saint Louis. Yes, if the storm continues to track off to the left, right here on New Orleans, like it is, that would be bad because all of that water would pile into Lake Pontchartrain and it would probably fill up and go up the Mississippi River.
If it's farther off to the left, and, in fact, this wobble continues, it would be over here toward New Iberia or Lake Charles, that would take a lot of the bad part away from New Orleans, maybe 60 or 50 miles to the west of New Orleans. That would be enough. But right now the forecast is for a 90- to 95-mile-per-hour hurricane right through the center of the city of the sea -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I know we are standing by for a new forecast and that's coming up later this hour. We will have you back as soon as we get that. Chad, thanks very much.
More than 5,600 National Guard members are being called up for active duty in preparation for Isaac. And states of emergency are in effect for Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
Perhaps nowhere are they monitoring storm developments as closely as they are in New Orleans, given the history of what happened there seven years ago.
Brian Todd is joining us now with a closer look at what the city is doing to prepare.
What are you seeing, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, take a look at this structure behind me. This is a massive pumping station here, and this is the 17th Street Canal levee and pumping station.
This was not here seven years ago when Katrina hit. But this is part of the $11 billion being spent to upgrade the facilities in this area, these levees and pumping stations to keep the water out of New Orleans. Just look at how big these pumps are.
When a hurricane hits, there's a certain level of water that will trigger this. Lake Pontchartrain is about one foot above sea level normally. When it gets to about five feet these massive pumps are going to pump water from that canal out toward Lake Pontchartrain.
This storm is expected to bring water levels between maybe five and eight feet above sea level. So these things may be operational in the coming days. So that's one of the components here.
But they have reinforced levees, other pumping stations, barriers around this city. And the Army Corps of Engineers and local officials are confident they can handle anything this storm gives them, Wolf.
BLITZER: From what you're seeing, they are really taking this very, very seriously. But as far as evacuations are concerned, Brian, where does that stand?
TODD: Well, no mandatory evacuation for the city of New Orleans right now.
But Mayor Landrieu is obviously keeping that option open if he needs to do that. What they're doing is ordering residents of certain parishes that are near the coast, St. Charles, parts of Plaquemines Parish, parts of Jefferson Parish, low-lying areas near at coast, ordering those residents to evacuate, some of those residents to evacuate, so not a full-scale mandatory evacuation. Calling for voluntary evacuations for most of this area.
No mandatory evacuation for the city of New Orleans yet, but officials are keeping track of what happens here. Of course, that may have to come into play, Wolf.
BLITZER: It may, indeed. Brian, we will check back with you. Thank you.
Meanwhile here in Tampa, Isaac is also on the minds of many of the convention delegates who live along the Gulf Coast. Some of them are now even considering leaving early to go home and be with their families.
CNN's Dana Bash is here. She's watching what's going on. I know you have been speaking with a lot of these delegates from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. What are they saying?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We went over to where the Louisiana delegation is hunkered down in their hotel and they were meeting this morning. We talked to a lot of delegates. Some were on their way out. Some decided they were just going to leave. Others said they were going to stick with it.
But, regardless, to a person, they are spooked.
BASH (voice-over): For Louisiana delegate Lynn Skidmore (ph), the pain from Katrina is still raw.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrifying, I think, the fact especially coming on the same date as Katrina, the anniversary.
BASH: So emotional, she asked to stop the interview for a minute.
(on camera): Obviously, this is very emotional for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is.
BASH: It's understandable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just that it brings back such bad memories. And we don't need that. We don't need that. New Orleans doesn't need it.
BASH (voice-over): Most Louisiana delegates say they don't have much of a choice but to stay in Tampa.
Adonika Duken (ph) has four small children back home in Isaac's path.
(on camera): Any thought of going back home?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting back home would probably be an issue right now. So, I think that we're here to do something that's important as part of our political process. But we definitely have our eyes on what's going on there.
I think that for Louisiana people we know the political part of it's important, that -- what we're here for. But it is hard to celebrate in some ways when you have your heart in a different place.
BASH: Your stomach must be in knots right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
BASH (voice-over): Five-time convention-goer Chris Gudry (ph) is thinking about leaving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking into renting a car, or having to drive back to Louisiana, looking into flights, so, yes, and plus talking to my family members at home to see how they're doing and trying to assess what the storm is going to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had 11 feet of water hit when I was -- during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
BASH: Mike Bayhem (ph) is a GOP delegate from Bernard Parish in New Orleans. He says the timing and location of this convention is a mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to go back in July. Having the convention in Tampa was probably not a good idea in the peak of hurricane season. But there's no need for the conventions to be this late.
BASH (on camera): What are you going to be doing as you're watching from here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keeping an eye on the hurricane track, getting in touch with all my family and friends that are evacuating, praying, a lot of prayer.
BASH: Now, that particular delegate, Michael Bayhem (ph), he was at the convention in Minneapolis four years ago. Of course, that convention was delayed one day because of another hurricane. That was Hurricane Gustav heading towards the Gulf region in general.
And so all of these delegates we talked to, they say, kind of here we go again. It is very, very tough, as you just heard. Pretty raw. One interesting note, some of them decided they were just going to go to try to take their minds off things, since obviously nothing is going on here at the convention. And there was an organization to go see the new anti-Obama movie "Obama 2016."
BLITZER: The politics not too far away, even though there can be some real heart-wrenching scenes going on. The political fallout from this happening exactly at the time of this Republican Convention is what?
BASH: You know, I talked to several of the delegates. Obviously these are all Republicans, staunch Republicans, about any concern about the fact that this is going to conjure up those images from seven years ago and conjure up the kind of anti-Bush, George W. Bush sentiment that really was pretty strong at the time.
Several I talked to said that they were thinking about that. It's possible. But they also feel that they're confident that Mitt Romney is a different kind of person and that the perception of him is different.
They also think that history has been kinder to Bush and that it seems that a lot of the problems were on a local level, not necessarily on a federal level.
BLITZER: Hard to believe seven years ago.
BASH: It really is.
BLITZER: Dana, thanks very, very much.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney is hoping to reintroduce himself to voters here on the national stage in Tampa.
And when it comes to women, he seems to have some work to do. Just ahead, my interview with a woman critical to helping him doing exactly that, the Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi. She's here. She will join us live.
BLITZER: We have a special guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi, clearly a major rising star in the Republican Party.
Attorney General, thanks very much for coming in.
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Oh, thanks for having me. Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about women voters.
You have been very important to Mitt Romney in Florida, trying to get women to support the Republican candidate.
In our latest CNN/ORC poll, we asked women across the country, who would you be more likely to vote for, for president of the United States? Obama, 54 percent, Romney, 42 percent, a 10-point gap.
Why does Romney have such a problem across the country getting as much support among women as he has -- as the president has?
BONDI: Now, the poll that I saw showed that that was unmarried women.
BLITZER: No, this was all women. This is all women.
BONDI: If you factor in married women...
BLITZER: This is all women. Unmarried is even bigger.
BONDI: Yes, I thought it was only a percentage point apart if you factored in all women.
BLITZER: No, this is likely women voters.
BONDI: Likely women voters.
BLITZER: All women voters.
And, you know, a lot of folks believe it's because of the abortion rights issue for women. The Republican Party platform, I'll put it up on the screen.
We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make sure the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.
Is that the problem that he has, that Romney and Republicans for that matter have with women?
BONDI: You know, I can tell you, Wolf, I've been traveling all over the state of Florida with Governor Romney. I have been traveling to New Hampshire for him. I've been in Virginia for him. And what I have seen, I've really -- that issue really has not come up. What women care about are jobs, the economy, the unemployment rate. You know, 401,000 women have lost jobs under President Obama's reign.
BLITZER: So why does he have a problem with women?
BONDI: I think he's coming around. I think within the last two months he started the Women for Mitt coalition. I'm chair of Florida. I'm one of the co-chairs nationally. Nikki Haley, Kelly Ayotte and I have been traveling all over the country for Governor Romney.
BLITZER: I know you're going to be speaking here.
BONDI: I'm speaking Wednesday evening, yes.
BLITZER: Should the platform have put in the exceptions -- because Romney does support exceptions for women who have been raped, life of the mother --
BONDI: I do, too.
BLITZER: You do, too.
BONDI: I absolutely do.
BLITZER: You would have preferred those exceptions be included in the platform?
BONDI: I can tell you I have an 8-year-old Down's syndrome niece and I am extremely pro-life. But I was also a prosecutor for 20 years. Personally I believe in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, that that should be an exception.
BLITZER: So, what advice -- when you speak privately with Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan for that matter, what do you tell them they need to do here in Florida to get women onboard?
BONDI: You know, I think women need to get to know the real Mitt Romney. He has always supported women. His lieutenant governor, who I was just talking to today, was a woman. His chief of staff was a woman. He's always put women in high positions.
And, you know, I've spent so much time with him. And he totally, absolutely respects women. And I think -- again, Wolf, when I'm around the country, women care about the same issues as men. That's getting jobs. You know, keeping jobs. We have 5.9 million people unemployed right now.
BLITZER: Did you see our new CNN poll for Florida? Just came out this afternoon. Likely voters choice for president in Florida, Obama 50 percent, Romney 46 percent. That's likely voters in Florida. So he's got a problem. He needs to really carry Florida if he's going to be elected president of the United States.
BONDI: He does and actually those aren't bad numbers, because Barack Obama's been in office almost four years now. And really his numbers as an incumbent should be much higher. And I think after the convention and I think they're going to hear a lot of great speeches this week, and I think people are going to support Mitt Romney. And I certainly want Florida to endorse and support Mitt Romney. And I want him to be our candidate and take Florida.
BLITZER: What do you think of your former governor, Charlie Crist? Used to be a Republican, now having endorsed President Obama? Will speak, in fact, at the Democratic convention.
BONDI: You know, I've known Charlie a long time.
BLITZER: You worked with him, right?
BONDI: No. I was a prosecutor. I knew him when I was a prosecutor. He's from St. Pete. I'm from Tampa. I've known him for a very long time.
I know he calls himself a Reagan Republican. I know he says he's pro-life. I know he says he's pro-guns.
He says he's pro-family. He was one of the strongest advocates against Obamacare. And he says he's pro-business.
So this makes no sense to me. Frankly, I think it's a distraction. I don't think we should waste time talking about him at the Republican National Convention. And in the fact of the severe storm about to hit Louisiana.
BLITZER: He's not going to be happy with what you're saying about him.
BONDI: No. I've known Charlie a long time. That's his platform that I've always heard him say.
BLITZER: But he is supporting the president of the United States for re-election right now.
BONDI: Then they have nothing in common according to everything he's said in the past.
BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation. You've got a big speech planned. When are you speaking?
BONDI: I'm speaking Wednesday evening sometime after 8:30 or 9:00.
BLITZER: Have you finished your remarks?
BONDI: Oh, they'd been finished. I wouldn't be sitting here. I'd be nervous if they weren't finis finished.
BLITZER: How long is that speech?
BONDI: Eight minutes.
BLITZER: You've rehearsing?
BONDI: We're rehearsing, it's written.
BLITZER: You've got the teleprompter, the whole nine yards.
BONDI: That's what I'm working with now. It's going to be interesting. I'm looking forward to it.
BLITZER: Attorney General, thanks very much for coming in.
BONDI: Thank you. Thank you so much.
BLITZER: Thank you.
So, do you want to know what it's like to experience the Republican National Convention from the inside? Listen to this. Tomorrow you can join the CNN election roundtable with me and the CNN political team. Submit your questions, get answers in real time in this live virtual chat.
Don't miss the CNN election round table tomorrow noon Eastern. You can log in to CNN.com/roundtable to get all the information you need to know. I'll look forward to speaking with you tomorrow.
After winning a high stakes patent case last week, Apple is calling for a ban on the sale of some Samsung products. We're about to give you details.
And Charlie Crist as we just reported switches sides. The former Republican governor of Florida will, in fact, speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week. We're going to talk about that and more.
A special panel over at the CNN grill will offer some unsolicited advice.
BLITZER: A controversial Russian punk band says two of its members have fled the country over fears for their safety. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What's going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, three members of a Russian punk band were sentenced to two years in prison this month for performing a protest song about President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church. Now, the band says, two of its members have fled the country. Russian police have been searching for the two other band members who took part in that church protest. But the group would not say if those were the two who left the country.
Authorities say a swarm of several hundred earthquakes in southern California on Sunday caused only minor damage. But they brought some tense moments like these caught on tape by one family near San Diego. Experts say the strongest was a 5.5 magnitude. But no injuries, fortunately, were reported. Thousands of these quakes may hit over the coming days.
An American Taliban fighter John Walker Lynn testified today the U.S. government is forcing him to sin by preventing him from praying with other Muslims. Walker Lynn is serving 20 years in federal prison for aiding the Taliban. The warden of the prison says group prayer is restricted because of security concerns. But Lynn is suing to get that rule overturned.
And Apple is seeking a ban on U.S. sales of eight different Samsung products after winning a high stakes patent case on Friday. A California jury ruled that Samsung should pay Apple more than a billion dollars for infringing on patents like double tap zooming and scrolling.
And this drama continues to play out in the stock market today. Apple jumped nearly 2 percent to a record high while Samsung fell more than 7 percent in Korean trading. Look at that number, $675.68.
Apple stock, certainly a good investment for some out there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Don't you wish you would have bought that stock a long time ago, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: I certainly do. I'm just thinking of all those people who said, this company called Apple, I think I want to invest in it, $675. Unbelievable, Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot of rich people as a result of that stock. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.
Florida's former Republican governor, Charlie Crist, has become a rather high profile defector from his party and is now slated to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week. We're going to talk about that. A special panel over at the CNN grill here in Tampa offers some unsolicited advice. Stand by.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get straight to CNN contributor, Sirius XM radio host Pete Dominick. He's over at the CNN grill right here in Tampa over at the convention. He's getting some unsolicited advice from our panel.
Pete, take it away.
PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you very much, Wolf Blitzer. I'm very excited to be here with this brilliant panel of people to discuss some very important issues. Let me quickly introduce everybody.
This, of course, is Van Jones, former Obama adviser, now he is heading the "Rebuild The Dream" organization. Everybody knows the CEO and the former Senate candidate from California, Carly Fiorina.
You may not recognize his face but you know his brilliant words. He is the New York columnist Ross Douthat and of course, the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only one not brilliant in this group.
DOMINICK: Right, exactly. You're also running the DNC. You're in charge next week at the DNC, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in charge.
DOMINICK: All right, let's get right to it. So we found out that Charlie Crist today, the former governor of the state we're in, Florida, has defected if you will. He is now endorsing President Obama.
Of course, he was a Republican and he's going to speak next week. And the former Democratic Congressman Arthur Davis has now also defected, if you will, to become a Republican.
Now let's quickly show a snapshot of the history of this -- what will you call it, behavior, switching parties. Then we'll come back and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim, we must have made a wrong turn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you this is the Democrat convention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George W. Bush wants you to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip. For John Kerry they get a yes, no, maybe bull of mush. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In troubled times it was understood country comes before party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who I think can do great things for our country in the years ahead, but my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record. Not in these tough times for Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINICK: Great to have that reminder. Now, is it political -- is it defection? Is it courage or is it opportunism? I go to you, Carley.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it depends on the person. First of all, since when in America could you not switch parties? So give these folks credit for standing up and saying what they believe.
However, in some cases, I think it's pure opportunism. I must say I think that is the case with Governor Crist. I think it's pure opportunism. I think he cut a deal.
I think he wants to run for governor again. I think he wants to run for governor as a Democrat. He thinks this is his ticket to a big endorsement from the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, these things would be more impressive if it didn't tend to happen after you lose an election within your own party. I mean, in both of these cases --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lieberman didn't lose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieberman lost a primary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but he won. But he won.
ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: He won. But he won and developed a lot of -- look, frankly understandable bitterness towards his own party. That's often the pattern with these things. I think both Crist and Arthur Davis who lost a race for governor in the primary --
VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISER: But, you know, Crist is upgrading. I appreciate that. He upgraded. The other guy is getting demoted. I understand that.
But I will say this. For Archer Davis, I mean, I don't want to call the guy a traitor because that would be terrible. I don't want to call him a Benedict Arnold. That would be awful.
DOMINICK: You're just throwing those words out there.
JONES: I do hear the O.J. song the back stabbers. That's the song keeps playing in the back of my mind.
CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: One guy who had the courage to tell the truth about Joe Biden's remarks which were shameful.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Let me say this. Mr. Crist agrees with Bob Dole and Jeb Bush that the Republican Party has gone too far to the right.
In the last week you've heard both Mr. Bush and Mr. Dole talk about how this party's gone too far to the right on immigration, on women's issues.
And I think he is trying to -- he's going to speak at this convention because he understands that our party is a party of a big tent, a party that's focused on the middle class.
DOMINICK: There's a truth -- I think there's a nugget of truth with everything everybody's saying. I'm back with Carly. I think this is opportunism. This is trying to recreate and rebrand yourself as a new -- this is my brand. I am the former this. Now I'm this. Everybody pay attention to me for a couple of days.
DOUTHAT: There's no one in America who thinks that Charlie Crist would be slipping in to your big tent if he hadn't lost a primary campaign to Marco Rubio. You think he's just out of -- you know, he's had coming to Jesus moment.
VILLARAIGOSA: I can tell you what he said. He said that the Republican Party has gone too far to the right. Bob Dole has said that. Jeb Bush has said that the party has to move to the center and speak to a broader cross-section of Americans.
I think he's speaking to the fact that Florida is evenly divided. It's going to be a very close election. And there's an independent vote out there that it isn't real Democrat or Republican.
FIORINA: Mayor, first of all --
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we're getting some technical problems over there at the CNN Grill. We're going to fix all of those problems, get some more unsolicited advice. We'll take a quick break. Much more with our panel right after this.
BLITZER: A bloody weekend in Syria continued into Monday with more than 100 people killed across the country yet again. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lisa, this is happening almost every single day.
SYLVESTER: Yes, we certainly continue to get these reports. Opposition activists say 157 people were killed across Syria today including 88 in the capital Damascus.
Activists also say they shot down a Syrian attack helicopter in a Damascus suburb supposedly seen in this video, but CNN cannot independently confirm its authenticity.
The violence comes after a particularly brutal weekend where hundreds people were killed in the city of Daraya, which rebels say was one of the first cities to revolt against the Assad regime.
Police say one teenager is in critical condition and another in custody after a shooting at a high school near Baltimore today. According to CNN affiliate, WJZ, the shooting took place on the first day of classes at Carrie Hall High School. The 15-year-old male student was quickly arrested.
President Obama has ordered all American flags in the U.S. and abroad to be flown at half staff on Friday in honor of Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong died Saturday at the age of 82 and on Friday, he will be buried in Cincinnati -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Heard some people comparing him to Christopher Columbus when all the history books eventually will be read, fascinating. Neil Armstrong did amazing, amazing work.
SYLVESTER: Yes, certainly a sad loss for this country. A lot of people were very sad on Saturday to hear that news, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. I was very sad. I was surprised. I didn't know how ill he was, heart surgery complications. A very, very sad time for all of us, especially those of us who remember living through that summer of 1969 when he was the first person to walk on the surface of the moon.
It was an amazing moment. Something we'll never forget. Lisa, thanks very, very much.
A new technology that uses artificial intelligence to predict threats is now being used by security officials in Tampa during this Republican convention. We're about to give you details.
BLITZER: Fortunately, we've re-established contact with Pete Dominick and the CNN Grill over there. He's getting some unsolicited advice from a panel. Panel, Pete, can you hear me OK?
Unfortunately, I spoke too quickly. We lost that shot once again. Pete Dominick is over at the CNN Grill. The CNN Grill is here at the Republican National Convention. We've invite a lot of folks to come over, have some fun. Talk to folks.
We're going to try to re-establish with Pete shortly. But, you know what? In the meantime, let's check in with Lisa Sylvester. She is watching some of the other important stories that we're monitoring right now. What else is going on, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, we have, of course, bearing down on the gulf coast, and we will be telling you more about what is coming up with Tropical Storm Isaac.
All eyes are keeping an eye right now as that tropical storm continues to barrel towards New Orleans. Of course, it is expected to hit on what could be the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh anniversary -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lisa, I know we're going to be staying on top of this. We're just getting more information. We're getting a statement from the White House also on the preparations that the president and the Obama administration are taking right now to deal with this Tropical Storm Isaac.
The president's been on the phone with the governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. We're going to have much more on this part of the story right after this quick commercial break.
BLITZER: Let's see if we can get over to the CNN Grill and check in with Pete Dominick. He's getting some unsolicited advice. We've had some technical problems. Pete, but hopefully we've fixed it. Let's see if we have, go ahead.
DOMINICK: I got you, Wolf. This hurricane is not going to stop us from giving you our unsolicited advice. We demand to tell you what we think here at the CNN Grill.
I'm here with the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, "New York Times" columnist, Ross Douthat, of course, Carly Fiorina, the CEO and Van Jones. Van, let's start with you. Give us -- what's your target and what's the advice you're giving?
JONES: My target is Republican Party as a whole. I want to applaud them before I gave any advice. They heard there was going to be some severe weather. They got a prediction, a severe weather warning.
They responded. They said, my God, people could be hurt. They took appropriate, prudent measures. Please do that. My advice, do that for the whole country. Not just your convention when it comes to climate change.
Four years ago, you had a leader on climate change, John McCain. He wasn't afraid to say the word and talk about the solutions. Right now, the red states are being destroyed by this drought. You've got wacky weather across the country, 40,000 record days of heat across the country and not a word from the Republican Party. My advice, be as concerned about weather for the country as you are weather for the convention. That's my advice.
DOMINICK: That's great. I love that.
DOUTHAT: I think the difference, Van, is that you don't have to negotiate a probably unenforceable treaty with the Chinese government in order to cancel the first day of the Republican convention.
JONES: But you can talk about it.
FIORINA: Let's look at all the science. The drought we're experiencing, which is terrible is the worst since the 1950s. It's happened before.
Let's also look at the science that says what it takes to solve this, which is a global treaty enforced over 30 years, tremendous expense.
JONES: It's got to start here.
DOMINICK: Let's start with what van is saying and acknowledge it is happening. We can disagree on the solutions.
JONES: A political party afraid to talk about one of the most important issues. Red states deserve better.
DOMINICK: Go ahead, Carly.
FIORINA: Completely of the convention my solicited advice is to Lance Armstrong. Hold your head up high. An American hero, a champion, who are these people at the USADA who think that after you pass 500 drug tests, you've been cleared of wrong doing, who is USADA?
Lance Armstrong, you hold your head up high. But in addition, I bring it up because I think these nameless, faceless bureaucrats at the USADA are everyone's terror of a bureaucracy run amok.
We don't know who these people are. But somehow they've decided they have the right to hound a hero and a champion and to strip him unilaterally of his achievements.
DOMINICK: You, of course, are a cancer survivor. Is that what you hear from other cancer survivors? Is everybody behind Lance Armstrong on this?
FIORINA: I certainly hope so. It's what I hear from everyone I talk to. You're absolutely right. It's not just that he's a champion on the bicycle. He's a champion for cancer survivors like me and millions and others around the world. I'd like to have these USADA people stand up and be counted. I'd like to know who they are.
DOMINICK: Where's their bike? I want to know how you feel about Melky Cabrera.
VILLARAIGOSA: We all agree.
DOMINICK: Here's mine. I'm going to talk right to the mayor. I can give this advice. My advice is to the Obama campaign, specifically the DNC. If it's really bad weather in the gulf coast and there's devastation, loss of life and property, I think that kills the RNC.
Let's be honest. That hurts their momentum. I think you guys, the DNC, should give them one of your days to make up for it. But if you're not going to do that, here's some even more serious advice.
If there is loss of life and massive damage on the gulf coast as seen seven years ago, how about Mitt Romney and President Obama get together and head down there, arm in arm.
If they don't want to do that, I'll let you do it on a disease. Get together on something you don't disagree and show Americans don't have to disagree about everything you're making us disagree on TV and politics.
VILLARAIGOSA: We're already going to be three days, not four. Let me just say this. Earlier today I said, I can tell you I know this. That both Republicans and Democrats agree right now that it's country before party. And that the people of the gulf coast --
DOMINICK: Doesn't look like that. I hope they make it look like that.
VILLARAIGOSA: There's no question about that. I also agree that it would be great to see the two of them there in support of the people. I know that Bobby Jindal, Mayor Landrieu and the president and FEMA are all working together on a bipartisan basis to put the people first.
DOMINICK: It would be nice for Romney and Obama to get together on something before the election. Go ahead, Ross.
DOUTHAT: Well, sort of heavy. I'll take it back to ordinary convention politics. My unsolicited advice is for Ann Romney who is speaking tomorrow night, I believe. She's probably already written her speech.
But I think that she should consider talking a bit about her husband's Mormonism, more specifically, her experience with Mormonism. There's been a lot of argument about how should the Romney campaign deal with the faith issue.
A lot of people think Mormonism is exotic and unfamiliar and so on. Ann Romney actually has the interesting experience of being a convert who converted to the LDS church when she married Mitt Romney.
I think if there's any kind of opening, any sort of in where the Romney campaign can sort of explain Mormonism a little bit to the American people and make Mitt Romney more relatable. It's Ann who might be the right person to do it.
DOMINICK: We should talk about this a lot more.
VILLARAIGOSA: My unsolicited advice is to Democrats and Republicans. It's bipartisan. That is start listening to the mayors. The cities are 89 percent of the GDP of the nation.
The mayors are much less married to orthodoxy, much more focused on getting results. Getting things done. What's broken in politics right now is broken in Washington much more than it's broken in our cities. That's true.
You know, at our U.S. conference of mayors this year, we unanimously supported comprehensive immigration reform, unanimously got behind Simpson/Bowles as a template to deal with the deficit and debt.
Last year, not unanimously, but overwhelming majority got behind nation building here. We said we can't build bridges and hospitals in Baghdad and Kandahar and not in Baltimore and Kansas City.
DOUTHAT: You don't remember that the Republican Party tried nominating a former major for vice president last year.
DOMINICK: Listen to the mayors because they actually get along and have something in common.
DOUTHAT: Better than they do in the beltway.
FIORINA: The other thing I would say about mayors is, to your point, you're about results. You actually have been about results. You've taken on special interests in the Democratic Party like the teachers union. You've stood with parents to reform education in Los Angeles. He's done tremendous things.
DOMINICK: We've got to go, throw it back to Wolf. Thanks, guys. Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pete, thanks very much. Thanks for all of that unsolicited advice. We'll do it again tomorrow.
Meanwhile, authorities in Tampa are taking a high-tech approach to security over at the Republican National Convention this week. They're using new software that claims to be able to recognize a potential threat before any crime is committed.
CNN's Joe Johns has been looking into this story for us. Joe, tell us what you're discovering about this new technology.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Tampa installed new security cameras all over the city in anticipation of the convention.
Then they hooked dozens of those cameras up to this cutting edge and some would say controversial technology. It was developed in Texas, which is where we went to figure out how it works.
JOHNS (voice-over): Here at the headquarters of a brainy technology company in Houston, a brave new world of video surveillance is playing out on big screen TVs.
(on camera): There's a car behind the train?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
JOHNS: What's he doing out there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good question for the security team to find out. JOHNS (voice-over): A group of scientists, computer geeks and law enforcement guys at BRS Labs have invented new software for security cameras designed to alert authorities to crimes sometimes before it even happens.
That's right. Computers determine what behavior is suspicious. Take, for example, this unlucky character who was skulking around a car.
JOHN FRAZZINI, PRESIDENT, BRS LABS: Our software was able to analyze the video surveillance information coming from this particular camera. It was able to learn what was taking place over the course of time and was able to identify this specific activity as abnormal.
JOHNS: That's company president, John Frazzini, a former Secret Service agent. What's most important, he says, is that the program uses artificial intelligence. It functions like a human brain.
Creating memories of what's normal by watching a camera for several days then sending out alerts instantly when it sees something out of the ordinary.
FRAZZINI: Our customer reported to us that they were absolutely -- they were able to dispatch their security team to intercept this particular criminal activity, in this case of a human breaking into a car.
JOHNS (on camera): So they caught this guy in realtime?
FRAZZINI: They did.
JOHNS (voice-over): That rapid response time is one reason Tampa chose the company to analyze the cameras surrounding the Republican National Convention.
Right now, thousands upon thousands of video cameras around the country are almost always used to document a person's activities after something bad happens.
But this moves up the time line, getting one step closer to what's been called pre-crime. The idea that video can paint a clear enough picture for the authorities to intervene before someone breaks the law.
FRAZZINI: Our software is designed to identify activity that lends itself to potential criminal or terroristic activity. We're taking that first step forward.
JOHNS: Pre-crime might make you think of science fiction. Like "minority report" with Tom Cruise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he's doing now we call scrubbing the image. Looking for clues as to where the murder is going to happen.
JOHNS: Of course, this technology can't see into the future or read minds. Still it's already going too far for privacy advocates like Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union.
JAY STANLEY, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, ACLU: The problem is, is that, you know, having a computer watching a video feed of a complicated scene like a subway platform, you know, is the computer really going to be able to detect something that's out of the ordinary and that is a true threat?
Or is it just going to kick up a lot of false positives, get a lot of people hassled by the cops who are perfectly innocent and not really doing anything to make us safer.
JOHNS: The company's chief science officer who claims to be a proud member of the ACLU says there's no privacy issue here. That they focus on behavior, not identity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very serious about privacy protection. That's why we don't do facial recognition. That's why we don't look at people's license plates. That's why we don't try to recognize that, my gosh, there's Joe Johns walking out of the CNN building. We don't do that.
JOHNS: Now, this technology is certainly not hooked up to every single camera in Tampa. And we're told it is not hooked up to cameras where protesters are demonstrating. Presumably, Wolf, those people are being watched very closely by human beings.
BLITZER: So far, Joe, the fears of anarchists or violent demonstrations emerging, taking place here in Tampa, I -- I haven't seen any evidence of any of that.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not, Wolf. I was out with one big demonstration that was supposed to have 5,000 people or so. At least that's the way it was billed. A few hundred protesters. It was very peaceful. I was able even to talk to some of the self- proclaimed anarchists. And they say the scariness that surrounds them, that's been built up by the police, has been over billed.
BLITZER: Joe Johns on the scene for us here in Tampa.