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Gunshot Reported Fired at Georgia School; Biden's Son Hospitalized; Idaho's Mountain Areas Engulfed in Flames; "Benghazi 4" Returning to Work; Accused Boston Bomber's Injuries Revealed; Sen. Cruz: I'm An American By Birth"; What's Killing Dolphins on the East Coast?; Dick Van Dyke in Car Fire

Aired August 20, 2013 - 17:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST HOST: Happening now, a major scare at an elementary school just outside of Atlanta, after at least one gunshot is reported fired. We'll go there live just ahead for the latest on what happened.

Plus, more than 100,000 acres torched, as dueling wildfires rage across Idaho.

Is there any relief in sight?

We are tracking the fires' paths.

And Dick Van Dyke's car engulfed in flames -- you are going to meet one of the people who helped rescue the legendary actor.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Brianna Keilar.

And you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with some terrifying moments at a charter school just outside of Atlanta, where at least one gunshot was reported fired today. Children could be seen leaving the building and being guided to the corner of a field as this happened. There are no reports of injuries and one person is in custody.

CNN's David Mattingly is in Decatur, Georgia and he's joining us now with the latest -- David, what can you tell us?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just heard from the police chief of DeKalb County, Georgia. And it gives us some incredible details here. There was a single gunman described as 19 years old. And the way this happened, he gained entry through the locked doors of the school by following someone else in. He immediately went to the school office, carrying an AK-47 and some other weapons, we're told, but definitely an AK-47.

From that position, and as authorities arrived after some initial calls, he exchanged gunfire. About a half -- he fired about a half dozen shots at authorities outside the school. And then authorities then returned fire. After that, he gave up without incident. But it was a terribly scary time there at the school. Many of the kids were taken outside. Some were sheltering in place in their rooms. They are now being released back to their parents. That was a long process in itself.

And what we're looking at right now is a lot of anxious parents very relieved, but also very upset to find out how close this came to being a very deadly situation.

No motive here, possibly, that the chief is willing to talk about. But he did tell us that police dogs were able to get a scent of some kind of explosive on the suspect's car out in front of the school. And so that was a very dangerous situation, they believed. And they reacted to it.

They are checking out the car right now. They haven't found explosives yet. But they had to assume there was, so they had to escort these kids off property by leaving out the back of the school. They cut a hole in one of the fences, led them through the property behind a house to an adjoining street, where they could get on the buses. So that in itself was a very tense proposition, to get all of these kids moved. There's several hundred kids at this school ranging from pre-K to grade five.

And talking to some of those kids with their parents as they were getting off the buses and getting reunited, some of the kids were saying that they were very -- there were some kids who were very afraid, some teachers were afraid. But by and large, the kids stayed calm. A lot of them just thought it was a fire drill.

We also have some sound out here from the DeKalb County police chief.

Let's hear what he has to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we received the call and we engaged, he's starting to fire from inside of the school at our officers. What we knew right away is that he had one or two of the staff members inside the main office. He was holding them captive.

Units continued to respond. He would continue to fire upon officers. Officers were able to return fire when they saw him in -- alone by himself. Subsequent to all that, no one was injured. He surrendered.


MATTINGLY: And that was the incredible aspect of all this. No one injured in this incident. That gunman with an AK-47, we're told, inside that school, exchanging gunfire with officers. And, again, no one was hurt, but this investigation continues.

KEILAR: And, David, it's almost unbelievable that no one was hurt. We are so thankful for that, obviously. And certainly, they will be investigating what could have been a very different scene.

David Mattingly for us in Decatur, Georgia. Let's go to Houston now, where the son of the Vice President Joe Biden is said to be undergoing testing at a world renowned cancer treatment with his family by his side.

According to the vice president's office, Delaware attorney general, Beau Biden, experienced an episode of disorientation and weakness while on vacation last week. This, just a few years since he suffered a mild stroke. Beau Biden Tweeted this today. He said, "Touched by all your well wishes. Thank you. Nice evening in Houston with Hallie. Will share update when we have it."

Now, we're also learning that President Obama spoke with the vice president over the weekend to extend his best wishes.

Joining us now to explain this more is our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen -- so, Elizabeth, first off, what do we know about Beau Biden's status?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brianna, we really don't know much. We know that he had this recent episode of disorientation and weakness. We know he's being evaluated at M.D. Anderson, which is a renowned cancer center. That's all they do. So I think it is important, it is significant where he is. He is being evaluated at a cancer center.

We don't know what that means, but we do know that that's important.

KEILAR: Now, one of the other things we do know is that he had a mild stroke in 2010. A lot of times, if someone is ill, you look back to past afflictions they've had. So we know that about him. Obviously, he was very young when that happened.

Could this be something that is related or does it seem unlikely?

COHEN: Right. I mean he's only 44 now, so he was even younger when he had that stroke. It is possible that it's related. I know we don't usually think of cancer and strokes as being related, but several types of cancer, including some blood cancers, can cause strokes. And so it is possible that that episode is a part of a cancer. We don't know. We don't know -- all we know is that he's being evaluated at a cancer center.

It's also possible that the stroke is completely separate from what he's experiencing now.

KEILAR: He's very young. Certainly, we're hoping that he is well and getting the treatment that he needs for this.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Parts of Idaho's pristine mountain areas are engulfed in flames this hour, where two raging wildfires have already devoured more than 100,000 acres. The larger of these two fires now only about 9 percent contained. Evacuation status has been lowered in some areas but orders remain in effect in others.

And CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Hailey, Idaho with the latest -- so, Ted, the question here, you have so many firefighters, local, national. They're on the scene.

Are they able to put a dent this now?

Are they any closer to getting it under control?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Brianna. It was a good day yesterday. And today seems to be a good day, as well. They are attacking this fire with not only the 1,000 firefighters, but they have air assets, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. You see a helicopter over here picking up some water. And it has really helped a lot.

The problem here is that this is not the only fire. There are fires scattered around the West. And looking forward, there are predictions of lightning storms, not only in Idaho, but in California and other Western states. That's what they're most concerned about.

Also, this fire itself has two points where they are really concentrating a lot of their of the efforts, on the northern and southern points of it.

Meanwhile, 5,000 homes are in potential danger still. Two thousand residents have been evacuated. Some of them have been out of their homes for days and can't wait to get back.


We're totally helpless. We're not sure how to thank all the firefighters that are out there. It's kind of like that movie "Ground Hog Day," every day is the same. You get up, you wait for news, watch the wind, watch the smoke and just keep going and going and waiting for the lift of the evac order.


ROWLANDS: And those evac orders have come for some, but not for a lot of folks, Brianna. Still under 10 percent containment, at least right now. We're expecting new numbers in the next few hours.

KEILAR: Yes, that is so very little. And it's such an endeavor that they're trying to do here.

What is the biggest obstacle that these fire crews are facing?

ROWLANDS: Basically, any change in the weather, with any fire. You have a fire this large, basically the size of Denver, if the winds change dramatically, or if more lightning strikes come in and start a new fire, that changes the entire game. Right now they're -- they really are crossing their fingers to have continued help from Mother Nature, so they can get a hold of this thing.

And, as I said, they are cautiously optimistic. It's a much different story than it was over the weekend, when this was out of control.

KEILAR: Certainly. And they want that humidity to go up, as well.

Ted Rowlands for us there.

We really appreciate your report.

And when we come back, in a controversial move in the wake of the deadly Benghazi attack, find out why the State Department is now allowing four employees put on leave to return to work.

Plus, gruesome new details revealed about the injuries the accused Boston bomber sustained before he was captured by police. We'll have that ahead.


KEILAR: In a controversial move, the State Department is allowing four employees to return to work after being put on leave in the wake of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is at the State Department with details -- so, Jill, what are officials giving as the explanation for why these four are coming back?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, remember, after Benghazi and Secretary Kerry came in as secretary of State, he ordered a comprehensive review of those four people, three of whom had been on administrative leave, and the other had actually resigned his post.

That includes Eric Boswell. He's the -- was the assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, who is his -- or was his assistant secretary, responsible for embassy security.

And so as they looked into the behavior and work during Benghazi, they found -- Secretary Kerry agreed with what had been found by the independent accountability review board. And that is that there was a lack of leadership. There was a lack of management ability. But, they say, no breach of duty. so Secretary Kerry has said they're not going to be fired, but they will be assigned -- reassigned to new jobs.

That drew a very angry response from Daryl Issa. He is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He said, "Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that includes -- included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll."

At the briefing here at the State Department with Marie Harf, she gave a very strong response.

And here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: We have to let the facts lead where they may. And these are people with real lives and real careers. And we can't just take action that's not warranted against them just to make ourselves feel better. That's not the way the process works. And quite frankly, we owe it more to our diplomats serving all around the world to have thorough processes and to look at all of this from an independent lens, which is exactly what the ARB did.


DOUGHERTY: So we're not being told precisely what those new jobs will be. That is apparently because of personnel regulations here. But the ARB and those recommendations do continue, as the State Department tries to carry out those 29 recommendations from the ARB -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Jill Dougherty.

And this will continue to be a story and a political back and forth at that.

Thank you for your report.

Now, we're also learning some chilling new details about the extent of the injuries sustained by accused Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in the time before he was captured by police. Just released court documents revealed Tsarnaev suffered a number of severe gunshot wounds, the most gruesome of them, being one to his face.

CNNs Poppy Harlow has been working the story all day, and she's joining us now with the latest. There are some, as we said, gruesome details, Poppy, but also very interesting details that we didn't know before.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, Brianna, this is the first time that these court documents from an April 22nd bedside hearing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been released to the public. They were unsealed by the U.S. attorney's office. And I want to go through some of the most pertinent facts. They're talking about the pictures that you're seeing of a wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when he was captured by police there in Watertown, Massachusetts.

But let's go through the details. The most severe gunshot wound, he had several severe. The most severe was a gunshot wound inside his mouth that actually exited the left side of his face. It was deemed highly powered, the injury, and it fractured his skull base. It injured his middle ear. It affected his C-1 vertebrae, his pharynx, and his mouth. So, a very severe gunshot wound inside the mouth. This on top of the document show multiple gunshot wounds to other extremities of his body.

We knew he was shot, but we didn't know what the injuries were, other than that they were very serious. And this helps explain why he wasn't talking very much at all because of that injury. And this is testimony given by the surgeon, the Boston surgeon that operated on Tsarnaev in the moments after he was captured. And it's believed that these injuries were sustained from the shoot- out that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had with police in that chase in Watertown. But they also could have come from gunfire that was shot around that boat when police had him surrounded. It's not known whether any of those shots hit him. But, it's believed that this was from the days prior, Brianna.

KEILAR: Poppy, does the court document say anything about Tsarnaev's state of mind whil he was being questioned in the hospital?

HARLOW: It does, and I found that fascinating because the trauma surgeon was asked what pain medication did you give to your patient? Is he in a lucid state of mind to answer our questions, because this was the same hearing on April 22nd when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his Miranda Rights. I want to show you some of the things that the trauma surgeon said in response to questions from the federal magistrate.

He said things like he being Tsarnaev definitely knows where he is. He went on to say he knows that he has had multiple procedures. He knows that he has an injury to the neck and the hand, and then, he answered, the trauma surgeon, he is able to respond vocally. Most of what we see in this document went Tsarnaev as being read his Miranda rights is that nodding and affirmation that he hears what's going on, but there were a few moments when he did utter the word "no."

But really, these documents show and they're right here that we went through. Really, the only word to come out of his mouth in this was "no." But again, this is the first detailed description that we're getting of the injuries sustained by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his brother died in that shoot-out with police. This is the one person that is so critical to answer the authorities' questions, Brianna, and that sheds more light on exactly what he endured.

KEILAR: All right. Poppy Harlow, thank you for that.

Now, coming up, new evidence that could be a new link between former NFL player, Aaron Hernandez and a double slaying.

Plus, actor, Dick Van Dyke's narrow escape from a burning car. Very scary stuff. We'll be talking to the man who helped rescue him.


KEILAR: Let's take a quick look at some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM. In Egypt, about 100 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested today, including the group's spiritual leader. The interior ministry says Mohamed Badei was taken in a dawn raid on a Cairo apartment and that he'll be head for 15 days on accusations of inciting violence and killing protesters. The detention could be extended.

And the judge in the court martial of Private Bradley Manning says she'll announce his sentence tomorrow morning at 10:00 eastern. The former army intelligence analyst faces up to 90 years for passing classified material to WikiLeaks in one of the largest military leaks ever. And Massachusetts State police say a gun found in a woman's car has been linked to a 2012 double slaying, the same one they've linked former NFL player, Aaron Hernandez to. The source says the woman told police her boyfriend was the last one to use the car and that he had gone to visit a football player. Investigators have linked Hernandez to the killings through a rented SUV spotted at the crime scene.

And next, a Republican senator and possible presidential contender wants you to know that he's an American through and through. We have details of this unusual and dramatic move by Ted Cruz.

Plus, the mysterious surge in dolphin deaths. Why are so many of them dying along the U.S. east coast?


KEILAR: Happening now --


KEILAR (voice-over): U.S. senator and possible White House contender, Ted Cruz, renounces his citizenship but not from the U.S.

Also, a spike in dolphin deaths on the U.S. east coast baffling and worrying marine scientists. What's killing the animals by the dozens?

Also, we will talk to a man who helped pull 87-year-old Dick Van Dyke from this burning car.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Briana Keilar and you are in the SITUATION ROOM.


KEILAR (on-camera): He's one of the biggest rising stars in the GOP and a potential contender for 2016. Now, amid all of the buzz, freshman Texas senator, Ted Cruz, is taking another bold step to put any questions about his American heritage to rest by renouncing his alleged Canadian citizenship.

The move comes after a report in the "Dallas Morning News" speculating that the Tea Party favorite who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father might actually be a dual citizen of both of the U.S. and Canada. Cruz released his birth certificate over the weekend and CNN chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is in Dallas where she's about to sit down with Cruz for an interview. Candy, what do you think we're going to hear?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we're going to hear that he just thought that this was a good thing to do to renounce his Canadian citizenship to clear up any lingering questions there might be. I think you will hear the skeptics say he really wanted to get this off the table. So, if he should run for president, so many people think he wants to, that it's not an issue.

You sort of clear it up two years ahead of time. I think I would also mention to you that right now the senator is concentrated on efforts to defund Obamacare, which, in fact, is what he's doing in Dallas tonight along with former senator, Jim DeMint. So, maybe he wanted a conversation off the table so he could have the conversation he wanted. Nonetheless, he said I've got nothing against Canada, but, you know, I'm an American citizen.

KEILAR: And also, Candy, it's creating you could say a somewhat humorous situation as well. You've seen a lot of jokes about this, obviously, in the past, the issue over President Obama's birth certificate as well, you know, has led to a lot of jokes and also some sort of serious moments. I'm wondering if that's lost on the senator or are you going to ask him about that?

CROWLEY: Well, sure I will, because obviously, in a more serious mode, I think the president's citizenship is to this day still being challenged by some who don't believe the lengthy birth form that he did release eventually.

I don't think it's quite the same here. This is something that came up pretty early, and Cruz was well aware of it. But, again, it's not something you want to have dominate the discussion, whether it's the humor or whether it's any serious way. You want to kind of get it off the table. So, this is obviously something that I guess if you're a critic of Ted Cruz, you might want to pound home. But it doesn't at this point -- he would just really like I think the conversation to stop, and I think that's why he's put out his birth certificate.

KEILAR: Certainly. I imagine as you interview him, he'll be trying to talk a lot more and steer the conversation towards Obamacare and his dislike over it. We certainly await that interview. Candy Crowley there in Dallas, thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: And now to San Diego where there were rumors that embattled San Diego mayor Bob Filner may actually return to work today. You may recall it's 16 women now who have come forward accusing Filner of inappropriate behavior, some of it graphic. And the calls for his resignation have reached a fever pitch.

CNN's Casey Wian is in San Diego, where talks with Filner are said to be underway. Casey, have you seen the mayor today and do we know if he's back at work?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do know, Brianna, is that a lot of people as you mentioned expected he might return to work this morning. We waited outside city hall all morning for him, and he did not show up. Sources inside said they did not see him inside city hall.

The closest we've seen to seeing the mayor is seeing his SUV parked in the spot where he's normally dropped off in the morning outside city hall. Two members of his security detail emerged from it, went inside city hall for about a half hour, and then came back out without saying a word to reporters. We do know, though that he's inside or has been at least for part of this day inside the building behind me where negotiations are going on. A retired federal judge is leading mediations involving Irene McCormick Jackson and her attorney. They were here yesterday, Gloria Allred. Also, two members of the San Diego city council, the San Diego city attorney, many others trying to negotiate what happens in Bob Filner's future. So far no resolution to that.

They negotiated for about ten hours yesterday. They've been going at it for my or six today. We're not expecting any word from anybody on how those negotiations are progressing because that retired federal judge, the mediator, has placed a gag order, if you will, on those proceedings, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Casey Wian for us there in San Diego.

And this first on CNN. We're learning that this week for the first time, the Democratic National Committee will formally vote on a resolution calling on Mayor Filner to resign. The five-page resolution stresses the Democratic Party condemns anybody who create a hostile work environment or engages in sexually harassing behavior toward women or men. And if Filner doesn't step down, then the DNC will ask San Diego residents to recall him.

Our own CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is one of the resolution's authors. We'll be talking to her just ahead.


KEILAR: Let's talk more now about the report first on CNN that the Democratic National Committee will vote this week to call on San Diego mayor Bob Filner to resign. Joining to us talk about this, CNN chief national correspondent John King, also CNN commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. She's one of the authors of that resolution, as well as contributing editor for "The National Review," Jim Geraghty. And I got your name right this time.


KEILAR: All right. OK, so first to you, Donna. Because we just obviously heard about this resolution the DNC will vote on. You authored it. This is becoming a huge thorn in the side of national Democrats.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a thorn in the side of any woman who is harassed by any man, any person, any time. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination outlawed by Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Bob Filner has been called upon by San Diego Democrats, by Leader Pelosi, by our chair of the party, Debbie Wassermann-Schultz. And Christine Pelosi, a member of the DNC and I decided that it was time for the national party - we're meeting in Phoenix this week -- to call upon him to resign.

And also, we want to go one step farther. We want to tell people in San Diego sign a petition, recall him. It's time for him to go. KEILAR: But, Jim, you look, and a lot of the members of your party look at what's going on and they sort of say, well, Democrats, you have some problems. And you're probably happy they're not yours.

GERAGHTY: He is a decorated colonel in the war on women. I salute Donna for bringing her party to the position they probably should have had from - look, we're up to 16 women now? I mean, you can understand the benefit of the doubt for the first couple. But after a while, it becomes a clear pattern of behavior. It becomes not a matter of innocent misunderstandings. His first explanation that he was just a big hugger was not plausible in the slightest.

And I'm glad they're overcoming the rally of the four women in San Diego who he had not harassed who were out there yesterday.

BRAZILE: This is a bipartisan campaign, so before somebody believes this is a Democratic problem, there are Republican problems, too, in terms of women. Sexual harassment, again, it's a form of sex discrimination. It should be -- it's illegal, it's bad, it's reprehensible. These allegations by 16 women. I tell you, Bob Filner, who I used to know, needs to go.

KEILAR: And it's baffling to so many people that he's still hanging on. But John, to you, I want to ask you about Ted Cruz. We just heard what Candy said. He's renouncing his possible Canadian citizenship. It's even kind of unclear - I looked it up online, or one of our producers did, and I saw it. He may be Canadian because he was born there. It's still a little unclear. Can he be president, and is he handling this the right way?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, any constitutional expert just as they did when for President Obama when this came up has looked at the Ted Cruz situation. John McCain was born in Panama. The constitutional scholars have looked at this, said their interpretation is no question, he is qualified to run for president. His mother was born in the United States. He happened to be born outside the country but to a natural-born American citizen. Most of the scholars, 99 percent, say that's it. Done deal.

Now, we know from this last time, we had the silly season about the birther movement. Early on, maybe there were some legitimate questions because of the president's unusual background, the current president. Once they were answered, anything after that I personally viewed as closeted racism; people were just going after the president.

What does Ted Cruz think? That on the left, some people will just for sport decide we're going to go after him because they went after us. So, he's trying to clear this up as best he can.

I actually asked a prominent Republican today would this matter in Republican politics? Would there be a downside to him if he had dual citizenship? Canadian law is if you're born there, you're a citizen. He's also a United States citizen. A lot of people have dual citizenship. And a top conservative strategist said it's best for him to just clean this up. Just to clean this up, get it over with, that he's a different kind of candidate anyway because of his background, just like President Obama was a different kind of candidate for the Democrats. It's better for him to clear this up. Seems silly but --

BRAZILE: Brianna, it's Ann Coulter, it's Donald Trump, it's Republicans in this neo-birther moment that's silly that's calling up Ted Cruz to renounce his Canadian citizenship. I believe it's $100 on average; 192 people renounce their citizenship every year in Canada. I'm sure the Canadians will not miss him.


GERAGHTY: Syrup-gate is the perfect August story for Washington --

KEILAR: Syrup-gate! I love it.

GERAGHTY: It's a six-step process. The seventh step, he has to put down - he has to pledge he's never going put gravy and cheese curds on his French fries. He has to turn down emulsion and pick (INAUDIBLE)

KEILAR: He can't say eh? He cannot say eh.


KEILAR: That is also American, I feel, to go to a hockey game. But OK, let's move on to the story I feel to be one of the most entertaining of the day, a lot of people may not know.

BRAZILE: And I love Canada, I want the record to reflect I love Canada.

KEILAR: It's a great ally of the U.S.

So, Maine governor Paul Lepage, and he is always kind of putting his foot in his mouth. If you're not familiar with him, he reportedly said that President Obama hates white people, according to two Maine newspapers. They're citing unnamed sources. I believe Republicans who were at a Maine Republican party event.

So, let's play a clip, though, of what he told reporters about this.


GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: I'm sorry, I'm late for a meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what you said?

LEPAGE: No, I never said that, and you guys are all about gossip.



KEILAR: So -- but true or not, it's almost like you can believe, Jim, that he might have said -- he has said some things in the past, he has said when asked about the NAACP in 2011 on a certain issue, if they questioned his decision, he said tell them to kiss my butt. I mean, he just -- he compared the IRS to the Gestapo once. He just does all of these kind of, like, very colorful things that he frequently is apologizing for.

GERAGHTY: There's an excellent possibility by November 2014 when he is next up for reelection -

KEILAR: Because he wants to run.

GERAGHTY: -- this may not even be in the top ten most controversial things Paul Lepage has ever said. He's the only guy in Washington who can make Joe Biden look disciplined and on message. At some point, Maine voters, he won by kind of a unique Tea Party environment of 2010. Maine has always been a quirky state, it's got an independent governor - I mean an independent senator. This may not play very well. But the good news is he's got a couple months, about a year- and-a-half to kind make his campaign about something besides his mouth.

KEILAR: But isn't it different, though, when he's talking about an issue of race?

BRAZILE: Look, we're days away from the 50th commemoration of the historic 1963 march on Washington where Dr. King delivered that important speech "I have a dream" where he talked about the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But you know, I can't think of anything - I mean, just if you look at the words -- true or not true that President Obama hates white people. Where is that coming from? That is crazy! That is silly, that is stupid.

But ever since 2008, we've had these moments where we have to have a racial debate. I'm not going to take the bait. President Obama loves all Americans. And I know that based on my working with him.

KING: These are tough stories because you have two very good newspapers doing this story based on anonymous sources. We'll see if a recording comes forward. Rare is the event in American politics today - just ask Mitt Romney and 47 percent - where somebody doesn't have some kind of a recording. The governor says he didn't do it. But the reason we're talking about it is because the reason it would have some credence is because of all these things he has said in the past.

Here's what I think it does cumulatively (ph) when you have people like this, whether it's Bob Filner in San Diego, the governor of Maine. It further undermines people's faith and trust in politics and in their leaders. And that's why across the country, you have this disgust, which is a bipartisan pox at the moment.


BRAZILE: It's not just politics, it's everywhere.

KING: Any institution, any institution, you're right.

BRAZILE: Including the media.

KEILAR: John, Donna, Jim, thank you so much.

And a perfect season capped by a Super Bowl victory. So what if it was, what, 40 years ago? Well, much of the 1972 Miami Dolphins team, they showed up at the White House to be honored by President Obama today. It was the culmination of a 15-year letter-writing campaign by former tight end Marv Fleming. Their unprecedented record came before the championship teams traditionally began receiving presidential accolades. And you know, John, your Patriots almost got it, right? When they went to the Super Bowl.

GERAGHTY: Ooh, ow.


KEILAR: Winning season, didn't make it to the Super Bowl.


KING: I say congratulations to the Dolphins, this is not a partisan statement. Congratulations to the president of the United States for taking the step to bring them in. I wish my Patriots had an undefeated season. They lost it at the last moment, which is proof of how hard it is to do.


KING: This team has an amazing legacy. They never should have had to wait this long. And good for the president and a great celebration for them.

KEILAR: But it was really -- it was a special moment to see today. And I think a lot of people who are watching it really enjoyed it.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And I look forward to the New Orleans Saints being with the president next year.


KEILAR: I'm sure do you, Donna.

All right, guys. Thank you so much.

And coming up, Good Samaritans pull an elderly man from a burning car. And then you know what, it turned out to be Dick Van Dyke. We'll be talking to one of the rescuers.

Plus, a heartbreaking sight in the search for clues. Dolphins dying by the dozen along the U.S. East Coast.


KEILAR: Government scientists are raising a red flag about a sudden surge of dying dolphins along the U.S. East Coast. The death rate this summer is seven times higher than normal and no one can say for certain why.

CNN's Brian Todd is investigating the story for us. He's along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, experts say dolphins are the sentinels of health in the ocean. They're one of the top predators and if they're getting sick and dying in droves, there could well be a larger problem. That's just what's been happening recently in this region by the Chesapeake Bay and other areas along the East Coast.


TODD (voice-over): They're among the most resilient and beloved creatures to roam the seas.


TODD: But something in the water is killing bottle nosed dolphins along the east coast of the U.S. And at the moment it's a mystery.

SUSAN BARCO, VA. AQUARIUM AND MARINE SCIENCE CENTER: We're seeing lesions in their respiratory system. We're seeing animals that are having joint problems. We have -- not seeing animals that are feeding normally. A lot of them are thin.

TODD: And dead by the time marine authorities find them. More than 200 dead bottle nosed dolphins have washed ashore from New York to Virginia this summer. In Virginia the count is around 80 just for this month alone. Mostly along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. The average number in Virginia in August? Seven.

Pollution or bacteria could be possible causes of this die-off. But at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, I asked top veterinarian Brett Whittaker about another possibility.

DR. BRENT WHITAKER, V.P. OF BIOLOGICAL PROGRAMS, NATIONAL AQUARIUM: We don't know exactly what's causing it, but we suspect it might be a virus called Morbillivirus.

TODD: Dolphin Morbillivirus, a pathogen that's been deadly before. It killed more than 700 dolphins between New York and Florida in 1987 and '88. In humans, the strain of the Morbillivirus causes measles, but experts say it doesn't spread between humans and dolphins.

How do these maladies spread so quickly among dolphins?

(On camera): Experts say part of the problem is that dolphins are very social creatures. They're always swimming with each other, touching each other, breathing on each other. That's a way, they say, that they can transmit illness.

(Voice-over): They also feed on the same food at the same time, Whitaker. At the Aquarium, Whitaker and I do a quick exam on Bo, a young male.

WHITAKER: Go ahead and feel those -- teeth there, Brian. Nice, nice sharp teeth. We look under the tongue, make sure there's nothing -- some of the viruses actually cause lesions under the tongue.

TODD: We check where the stomach area where the liver and other organs are.

WHITAKER: All right. Now look at that. So we've got mucus. And basically stood on the side, we take it to our laboratory, we do special stains, and we look at the cells which tells us an awful lot about what's going on inside.

TODD: That and a nice clear eye tell us Bo is healthy. As for those out in the open water who are infected --

(On camera): Can anything be done to end this or stem it at all?

WHITAKER: The reality is wild populations with an extensive disease like this could be very, very difficult for us to really help them at all.


TODD: Whitaker says that's because dolphins migrate so fast over such great distances that by the time experts figure out what's wrong, try to catch them en masse and treat them, this so-called unusual mortality event might be over. Still experts are worried that this will spread further south very quickly. Because this is the time of year that Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins are migrating south -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Thank you, Brian.

And when we come back, we will hear from one of the Good Samaritans who pulled actor Dick Van Dyke from a burning car on a California freeway.


KEILAR: Take a look at the charred remains of this Jaguar. It's a car that actually belongs or belonged -- what's left of it, anyways -- to Dick Van Dyke. The 87-year-old actor and his wife were inside on a Southern California freeway when the Jaguar caught fire. He pulled over, the car burst into flames. But passersby came to the couple's rescue and pulled them out.

His publicist says Van Dyke is slightly embarrassed, but he's fine and certainly very appreciative of the people who helped.

And Jason Pennington is one of those people. He came to his rescue. He's joining me now from Los Angeles.

We see the car, Jason. I mean, it's in -- it was a catastrophic, obviously, situation. Take us through this where you first see this car and obviously you don't know it's Dick Van Dyke but I think you said it was your wife who actually spotted something was the matter.

JASON PENNINGTON, PULLED DICK VAN DYKE FROM CAR: Yes, absolutely. We were -- we were just going furniture shopping driving down the freeway, and it's not uncommon when it's hot out in Southern California to see a car on fire on the side of the road. But what was odd was nobody was standing around it. And there were flames coming out of the hood and a lot of smoke. And as we drove by, it was my wife who said somebody is inside that car and they're hunched over.

And I said, you've got to be kidding. And I looked in my rearview mirror and there was still nobody coming. So there was an onramp next to me, so I turned and went up the onramp, that one that you're showing right now, went up to the onramp to get as close as I could to the car. Ran across the grass and sure enough, there was somebody in there. And I opened the door and it was smoky, very smoky in the car.

The flames were large but not that big. And the gentleman inside just kept saying, I'm OK, I'm OK. I said yes, sir, but you've got to get out of the car. You've got to get out of the car. He's like, no, I'm OK. I'm OK. And he was trying to put his stuff together. I think he spilled a bag or something. And once I felt the flames, they got really big and the whole front of the car was on fire.

That's when I just yanked him out by his arm because you don't want to lay hands on anybody or be forceful with them or afraid how they'll react, but when I could feel the heat, I just pulled him out. And he kind of stumbled to his feet and he smiled. And I said, we need to walk away from the car. And he smiled again.

And I said, you're Dick Van Dyke, and he goes, well, yes, I am. And what's your name? And I said, Jason. I said, can we just keep walking away from the car? He seemed just a little disoriented.


PENNINGTON: Very nice. Like no problem. So we walked away. And then another gentleman -- I never got his name. He was an off-duty EMT. He was barefoot and he ran over at that point. And we sat him down and he looked over at the car and he said, is that my car on fire? It was completely engulfed in flames.

And I said, yes, it is. And he goes, I just got that out of the shop. He kind of chuckled and he was just the nicest, calmest guy.

KEILAR: That is --

PENNINGTON: I don't think he realized anything.

KEILAR: Jason, that's unbelievable. Especially it's sort of funny that even in that state where if you hadn't been there, this could have been a very different story. He sort of had a comedic moment there.

I mean, I do want to point this out. One, not only are you a good, good man to come to the aid of a fellow human being. Sometimes people just don't always step up to help someone. But I know an element of this was that you were paying it forward. Someone helped your wife out a few weeks ago. Tell me about that.

PENNINGTON: Absolutely. And my wife was in a really bad motorcycle accident. We ride motorcycles. And she was hit on very close to the same freeway by a hit-and-run driver, thrown off her bike, punctured lung, broken ribs, concussion --

KEILAR: And Jason, I will --


KEILAR: I have 15 seconds left. So just please tell us about --


KEILAR: -- the Good Samaritan that helped your wife because I really want to point that out.

PENNINGTON: Yes. It was a doctor. He blocked lanes. He went to her aid. And another Samaritan chased down the man who fled the scene and caught him. So when the pay it forward -- I wasn't thinking that when I was getting Dick out of the car. It was my daughter who actually said wow, dad, you actually paid it forward.

KEILAR: Wow. Jason, thank you so much for doing that. Such a great story. Thanks for being on with us today. We really appreciate it.

PENNINGTON: Thank you.

KEILAR: And that's it for me now. The next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with my colleague Jake Tapper.