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CNN NEWSROOM

Chris Christie Ends Speculation About Presidential Run; Amanda Knox Heads Home, Victim's Family Disappointed; Hispanic Children Flee Alabama Schools; Chris Christie Says No; Boy Confined in Coffin in Basement; Apple Unveils New iPhone

Aired October 4, 2011 - 14:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And hello there. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Let's get you caught up on everything making news this hour, "Rapid Fire."

Let's go, beginning with Chris Christie says not going to do it. The governor of New Jersey shutting down the speculators today, those who were wondering whether or not he would be joining the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Governor Christie made the announcement less than two hours ago, and we are going to drill down on this in just a second with "The Best Political Team on Television."

Moving on for now, though, we are watching for Amanda Knox to arrive home in Seattle in mere hours from now. Knox, her family flew out of Rome just this morning, less than 24 hours after an Italian court threw out her murder conviction.

Her supporters in Seattle plan a huge welcome home for Knox, but let's not forget the victim here, Meredith Kercher. She was raped, she was stabbed and slashed to death at the age of 21. Her family, not happy at all with the court's decision to free Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYLE KERCHER, VICTIM'S BROTHER: This is very disappointing. You know, as with anyone who loses somebody close to them, it's hard enough. The fact that it's somebody so young, such brutal circumstances, and with such obvious worldwide media attention, makes it incredibly difficult.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We will also have more of the Kercher family reaction to the release of Amanda Knox in a couple of minutes.

"In-Depth" today, we are watching, as I know many of you are, Apple's "Let's talk iPhone" event. In fact, we just got word of Apple's next iPhone.

It is the iPhone 4S. It has the same chip as the iPad 2. A couple other tidbits that are being eked out from this event, iCloud and the newest operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iTouch will be available October 12th.

Also, Apple is getting into snail mail. With a new app, you design cards with your iPhone and apple will make and mail them for you. More details ahead in this show. Stick around for that.

And it is all clear on Times Square, at least for now, after this tense couple of minutes there this morning. Police emptied out parts of Times Square when someone reported this unattended package on a New York City bus.

It turns out the item was a backpack. The bomb squad checked it out. It was harmless.

And about 100 homes are flooded in the Peabody area of Massachusetts. This area is just northeast of Boston. Several inches of rain falling in this area overnight. Schools were even delayed because of the high water there.

And do you think you have the right stuff to work in space? NASA might be interested in you.

The agency is about to start accepting application for astronaut duty from -- wait for it -- the general public instead of strictly from the military and scientific communities. If you are interested, be prepared, though. We're told some pretty tough standards even to qualify.

Go to NASA's Web site to find out more.

And Mercedes-Benz putting its stamp on football by adding its name to a New Orleans sports landmark. The Superdome will now be called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with the automaker signing a 10- year rights deal. The Superdome has been home to the NFL Saints' six Super Bowls and even refugees during Hurricane Katrina.

And that is not all. Over the course of the next two hours, we have this for you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Hours from now, Amanda Knox arrives home in Seattle. A joyous time for her and her family. But for the family of her murdered roommate, there is still nothing but unanswered questions and grief.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

(voice-over): Chris Christie says he's out of the running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Now is not my time.

BALDWIN: So what happens now to all that buzz that was building around New Jersey's governor?

Then, thousands of kids disappear from their classrooms. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said to go, but we have no other choice.

BALDWIN: What is scaring them out of school?

And a cancer survivor feels violated after an airport security experience. Did agents cross the line, patting her down even though she had a doctor's note and special implants where her breasts used to be?

Plus, how would you like to ride these waves?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, since climbing on to the national stage this last year, he has said one word about a run for the White House, and that one word is no. If he was even possibly considering it, he never said it in public. It was always no, no, and no.

His die-hard supporters were still hoping though for a different answer when Governor Christie finally made his official announcement today, and they did not get it.

I want to bring in CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

And Gloria, I was scribbling down notes as I was listening to them, as I'm sure you were. And the big phrase that popped out, "Now is not my time." I guess there's a lot we could sort of extrapolate from that. But, first, are we really surprised?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, we're not. I mean, this is somebody who, for the past six months, has been telling us that he wasn't ready to be president. And it would have been very difficult for him to turn around and say, oh, by the way, people are telling me I am ready to be president, so maybe I am ready to be president.

He didn't address that today directly. What he did say -- and this was expected as well -- that he has a commitment to the state of New Jersey.

I mean, don't forget, he's up for re-election in 2013, should he decide to run. And he wouldn't say today whether he will or he won't, but it sure sounds to me like he will. And that he wanted to stay in New Jersey because he had a bit of unfinished business, and that he couldn't leave the state in the middle of his term. Sort of unlike Sarah Palin, whom you'll recall did leave the state of Alaska in the middle of her term.

BALDWIN: OK. So he said that multiple times, didn't feel right in his gut, he had a job he needed to continue. But was it also though just too late? Was it too late to jump in the game?

BORGER: It was. Look, he is popular, but he wasn't a shoo-in for the nomination. He would have had a lot of organizing to do.

Those early states that are coming up -- Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa -- require a lot of organization. He didn't have any organization on the ground. And so that would have been quite difficult.

Also, don't forget, the base of the Republican Party would be raising questions about Chris Christie, whether it would be his position on immigration -- he wants to find a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- his position on gun control. So, you know, there were a lot of obstacles out there, but there were a lot of people who really wanted him to run, including people who could support him financially, including people in the establishment of the Republican Party.

So, he said he owed it to them and to himself to give it another shot and to ask himself the question again. He did, and he came up with the same answer, which was, no.

BALDWIN: No. No.

To be a fly on the wall, though, of the room in which Mitt Romney would have been standing I guess right around 1:00 Eastern Time, who, by the way, we do know is holding a town hall meeting with some folks in the Villages in Florida in the back half of this hour. So we will certainly dip into that. That will be the first time we'll be hearing from him since this, but certainly good news for Mr. Romney.

BORGER: Very good news. Very good news for Mitt Romney.

You know, I kind of compare Mitt Romney to the guy your parents always wanted to fix you up with. And you said, no, I don't think he so, I want to date all these other guys. And then you sort of turn around and say, gee, Mitt Romney doesn't look too bad.

I think that's kind of where the Republican Party is right now. I'm not saying that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, but I do think that all those people who have been looking elsewhere may decide to give Mitt Romney another look.

And just as importantly, a lot of those big money types who have been holding back may decide to put their money on Mitt Romney. So this is very good news for Mitt Romney. It doesn't mean he gets the nomination, but it does mean that the slow and steady guy, people may be giving him another look.

BALDWIN: Gloria, do be a favor. Stand by.

We have re-racked some of the sound from Chris Christie earlier last hour. Let's just play some of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I'm proud of this state and its people. And I know there is still much more we need to do to together to ensure the future we want for all of our children. So this is not the time to leave unfinished business for me. The stakes are too high and the consequences are too real.

So, New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, people in New Jersey are struck with their governor.

Is he though, Gloria -- is he a king maker? Might he endorse someone down the road?

BORGER: Well, today -- it was interesting that you raised that, Brooke, because today he refused to endorse. But I think his endorsement is going to count. I think he was very smart not to give an endorsement right now, probably because he doesn't have one ready, but also because I think his endorsement is more valuable the longer he waits.

And so I think it will be important. It will be important in particular to Independent voters. I mean, he's a Republican governor of a very blue state. He appeals to Independent voters. And those are voters that are going to be important for Republicans to get in the general election. And also, if a moderate candidate like -- or a more moderate candidate like Mitt Romney is going to win in the primaries, he has to get those more establishment Republicans out to vote as well.

So, I think he's going to wait and strategically time his endorsement. I'm not sure who it's going to be for, but you can be sure he will end up endorsing someone and will be very important.

BALDWIN: We shall see, Gloria Borger. Loved that analogy with Mitt Romney. That was kind of fun, too, by the way. Nice work there. Thank you very much.

BORGER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: So, now you have it, Chris Christie out. That leaves a Republican field that looks very much so in flux right now, at least according to the latest poll numbers.

Paul Steinhauser, our deputy political director, here with us at CNN.

And Paul, talk to me now about the big three, we'll call them, left on the GOP side.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure. Let's talk about the current big three, because it keeps changing, Brooke.

BALDWIN: It does.

STEINHAUSER: It does. And it may change again, no doubt about it. That's what makes this interesting.

Two brand-new polls out today, and let's take a look at them on the GOP field.

Let's start with ABC News/"Washington Post." And there's Mitt Romney again back on top. Remember, he was the front-runner until Rick Perry jumped into the race. But it seems like, at least according to the national polls, Perry losing some steam. And there's Romney on top, 25 percent. Herman Cain, who has been riding a wave, it seems, in the past two weeks, at 16 percent, with Perry, the Texas governor.

Quinnipiac University also came out just a few hours ago as well, and similar findings. There is Romney at the top on that poll, at 22 percent. Cain at 17 and Perry at 14 percent.

Let's talk about Sarah Palin for one second, because Chris Christie said no today, but what about Palin? She's still thinking about it. But that ABC News/"Washington Post" poll asked just that among Republican voters, do you think Palin should run? And guess what? Sixty-six percent, two out of three, Republican voters said no, we don't think she should run for the nomination -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. On the flip side, you also have another poll that says the majority of Americans are pretty much of the believe that President Obama is a one-termer. Even the president himself in that ABC News/Yahoo! interview yesterday called himself an underdog.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. And this poll, ABC News /"Washington Post," it came out yesterday evening and it asked just that, whether you think the president will be re-elected in 2012.

A majority, a solid majority, said no, we don't think so, that the GOP will win back the White House. And the president was asked about that, as you mentioned, in that interview yesterday with ABC, and yes, he said he considers himself absolutely the underdog when he was presented with that poll.

But 13 months from now is the election. It's a long way away. Things change, people change their minds. Stay tuned -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: That's what makes it fun. Paul Steinhauser, thank you so much.

Want to play you that underdog sound here in just a minute. But just to recap, those poll numbers indicating that the majority of Americans envision a Republican winning the next election came out after President Obama described himself as a political underdog in that ABC/Yahoo! interview with George Stephanopoulos.

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Are you the underdog?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely, because given the economy, there's no doubt that whatever happens on your watch -- STEPHANOPOULOS: You embraced that pretty quickly.

OBAMA: You know, I don't mind. I'm used to being an underdog. And I think at the end of the day, though, what people are going to say is, whose got a vision for the future that can actually help ordinary families recapture that American dream?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: President Obama in that interview yesterday.

By the way, this just in. Staying in Washington, the House has just passed a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government going for another six weeks at least. And despite all these threats of a government shutdown, the vote count was a big 352-66. So it passed clearly with a wide margin there.

Now it goes up to the president to sign. And by my calendar, that will keep the government running until mid-November.

Amanda Knox free this afternoon. She is he expected to be back on American soil in a matter of hours, but is it for good? There is talk that she could be sent back to Italy for an appeal of the appeal. Are you with me?

Also, remember the movie "Backdraft"? A real-life backdraft is caught on camera in Ohio. We're going to show you this amazing video coming up here.

Plus, thousands of kids are out of school today in Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People right now, they're not going to school. The kids are not going to school. Why? Because they are scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Their parents are scared that they and their children could be deported because of the state's tough new immigration law. Part of it requires public schools to know the legal residency of the students and their parents.

We'll be back in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Amanda Knox -- what a two hours that was yesterday. Right?

Well, she is now just a couple of hours away from being home in Seattle, really a world away from the Italian prison where she has spent the last four years of her life. Knox, we know, boarded a plane in Rome this morning, is expecting to be arriving at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport by 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. But her flight to freedom really started right around this time yesterday in that courtroom in Perugia, Italy.

You had that panel of two judges, six laypeople, six judges. They tossed out Knox's murder conviction. The decision obviously elates her family, but it leaves another searching for answers.

I want you to listen here to the family of Meredith Kercher, who was raped and brutally murdered in the home she shared with Amanda Knox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYLE KERCHER, VICTIM'S BROTHER: If the two who were released yesterday were not the guilty party, then we are now obviously wondering, who is the other person or people? And really, for us, it feels very much almost like back to square one, and the search goes on really to find out what truly happened.

STEPHANIE KERCHER, VICTIM'S SISTER: I think it's still very difficult to speak in terms of forgiveness until we do have the truth. As Lyle said, that was the decision yesterday, and that's the one that we need to accept and respect for now. Until the truth comes out, we can't forgive anyone because no one even admitted to it.

ARLINE KERCHER, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Well, I don't think anybody is going to get off scot-free. You know, their lives have been disrupted, our lives have been disrupted. And what happened to my daughter Meredith, it's every parent's nightmare, something so terrible happening, when, basically, she was in the safest place, her bedroom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And from Italy to Washington State, we go. Drew Griffin, live in Seattle, where, as we mentioned, Amanda Knox will be landing in a couple of hours.

And Drew, I know you've been covering the Amanda Knox case extensively from our Special Investigations Unit. I want to talk though about the one man who is still in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher. He is Rudy Guede.

Can you just remind all of us, who is he?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This guy has been described as kind of a drifter who hung out in the town of Perugia. He had known and hung out with the boys who lived downstairs in this two-level house.

And soon after the murder, Rudy Guede -- I've heard his name pronounced many different ways -- fled to Germany. And that is where they caught up with him.

And the authorities caught up with him, Brooke, because when the forensic evidence came back, when it was analyzed, Rudy's Guede's DNA was on the victim, was on the victim's purse, was inside the victim's room, was in the bathroom of that house, where it turns out he may have even gone to the bathroom. So it was his DNA that was positively ID'd and found all over this crime scene. That's what made him a suspect.

He came back, pled guilty, and is now serving a 16-year reduced sentence. He was originally sentenced to 30 years, but once he agreed to actually place Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in that room, in that house with him, through his testimony, his sentenced was reduced to 16 years.

BALDWIN: And how did he even wind up in that mix, in that home, in November back in 2007? How did he know Meredith and Amanda and Raffaele?

GRIFFIN: Well, like I said, there is a basketball court within a couple of blocks of the home where they all lived. And he hung out at the basketball courts and he played basketball with a group of college boys who lived downstairs.

So there was some visual acquaintance there. They weren't really friends with Rudy. I think Amanda Knox said she had just met him in passing once.

BALDWIN: I see.

GRIFFIN: Rudy Guede had said he never met Raffaele Sollecito. So he knew the girls lived upstairs, and it's believed that he knew that if you are of a criminal mind like his, you can break in and potentially assault one of those students.

BALDWIN: I see. And he is, as we mentioned, the only person still in prison convicted of Meredith Kercher's murder.

Drew Griffin, thank you very much.

GRIFFIN: That's right.

BALDWIN: And Matthew Chance, also been covering the Amanda Knox case for us in Perugia. In fact, he was inside that courtroom when the decision was read yesterday.

And Matthew, prosecutors say, look, this case isn't even over yet. What is their next step?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say they are going to take this to Italy's highest court, the supreme court in Rome, where a panel of judges will consider the legal arguments that were made in this appeal in Perugia and decide whether to uphold this appeal or to overturn this appeal.

So it faces the potential that Amanda Knox could again revert to the position of being convicted of the killing of Meredith Kercher, and perhaps that would lead to some kind of extradition proceedings in theory. In practice, I think the likelihood is this will stay as it is and Amanda Knox will probably be left alone in the United States.

BALDWIN: Matthew, you also spoke with Lyle Kercher, the brother of the murder victim, Meredith Kercher. We have a little clip of that. I want to play that, and then I have a question for you on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. KERCHER: As we said, we respected and accepted the decision of the original trial, and we accept what was decided yesterday. We have the utmost respect obviously for the decision and the integrity of the court and what they've decided, and we will abide by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, Matthew, is the Kercher family -- are they still, A, in Italy? And, B, have they expressed any interest, any desire in ever reaching out to the Knoxes?

CHANCE: Well, firstly, no, they're not in Italy. They have gone back on an airplane to London earlier this afternoon.

In terms of whether they want to connect with the Knoxes in any way, they said that they are not prepared to do that at this stage. Remember, there is this other supreme court hearing which will ultimately decide whether this appeal here is legitimate or not, or whether it's going to be overturned or upheld.

What the Kerchers were saying is that, until that whole legal process in this country is over, they are not going to have any contact with the Knoxes. They are going to keep their distance, because they are very disappointed. Remember, there's been -- for several years now, they have been of the opinion, as the police and prosecutors have been, that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have been involved in this killing. And you get the sense they haven't truly accepted yet that that's not the case.

BALDWIN: Matthew Chance, in Perugia.

Matthew, thank you very much.

And you know those TSA agents armed with their trusty highlighters checking your boarding pass and I.D. at the airport security lines each and every time you go? Well, they could soon be getting some mechanical help. We're going to show you how that will work coming up.

Plus, we're going to show you that incredible video of the backdraft we've been talking about from this restaurant fire in Ohio. And you've got to keep your eyes close on this, because there were three firefighters in the building when the business exploded.

Also, surf's up. Water off the coast of California, glowing blue. This might be my favorite story of the day. Find out why after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: I want to show you this piece of video, this frightening backdraft explosion captured on camera in Ohio. And watch for the firefighters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go! Go!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go! Go! Go! Go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Keep watching. You're going to see some of these guys coming out, crawling out. There he is. The backdraft caused all of the windows in the building to explode outward. It happened as three firefighters entered the building. Obviously, you see there, thank goodness, they managed to get out unharmed. By the way, a backdraft is caused when air is rapidly reintroduced to a fire, reignites it, causing an explosion. Here it is again.

One witness said, That was too close for comfort. The fire absolutely destroyed that restaurant and damaged two other buildings. Still, though, no word as to what caused that fire.

And biologists and surfers alike are pretty impressed by the blooming algae off the California coast. Take a look. This is what they call "red tide." And look at what happens beneath the surfer on -- this is San Diego beach -- riding the wave. It's glowing blue, bioluminescent algae causing the aquatic light show. It emits this blue neon color at night when it's disturbed, like when a surfer is chopping up the waves. So the algae can be actually poisonous to fish, can starve them of oxygen. Biologists also say the algae can give off a bit of a stench. But despite that, pretty awesome to swim and surf in.

And changes could be coming again to the way you move through the airport. Here's what we have from the TSA. They say in just a couple of weeks, they're going to start testing some new machines designed to quickly and accurately match your boarding pass with your government- issued ID. Right, you know, the job not automated. Those document checkers standing there, they look at your ID and tickets with special flashlights and the magnifying glasses. So the goal here is to speed up airport lines and improve airport security. TSA officials won't say where they will test those machines.

And right now in Alabama, public schools are required to ask the legal status of kids and their parents, and it has some parents running scared. Kids are worried about leaving town.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad said that we are going to Mexico. And I feel bad, too because I'm going to miss my friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Children. But are they really enforcing the law in these schools? The controversial story coming up after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Hundreds of Alabama's Hispanic school children just aren't going to school. They are fleeing public schools out of fear of the state's tough new immigration law. In fact, just last week, we told you a federal judge upheld most of -- it's called HB-56, including the requirement that public schools ask about the legal status of children born in foreign countries and also ask the status of their parents.

CNN's Rafael Romo has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): The new Alabama law allows police to stop anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. It also requires public schools to know the legal residency of students enrolling for the first time. It is this part of the law that is keeping many Hispanic students out of school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kids are not going to school. Why? Because they're scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad said that we are going to Mexico. And I feel bad, too, because I'm going to miss my friends.

ROMO: Elizabeth Evans (ph) is an American citizen, but her husband doesn't have documentation. She and her family are moving out of the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was my niece. We just withdrawed her from school because we're leaving. And she's sad to go, but we have no other choice.

ROMO: The head of one school district, Casey Wardinsky (ph), made a plea on a Spanish language TV station, telling parents they do not have anything to fear.

The legal status is said to be strictly for statistical information. The state says it will be collected to see how much Alabama is spending to educate illegal immigrants. Some police officers are also trying to calm fears.

SHERIFF HUEY MACK, BALDWIN COUNTY, ALABAMA: There is a lot of misinformation out there. I've told people before, this is not a corral-up piece of legislation.

(on camera): Despite efforts to get the word out to the Hispanic community, the number of absences keeps climbing. The Alabama Department of Education says of its 34,000 students of Hispanic origin, more than 2,000 have been absent each day since the law went into effect last Thursday. That's twice as many absent from just the day before.

(voice-over): The Obama administration is challenging the new Alabama law, seeking to get it overturned.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't have a patchwork of 50 states with 50 different immigration laws. We can't have a situation in which individual counties are trying to enforce their own immigration laws, rather than having a national approach.

ROMO: Meanwhile, the debate over how to stop the flow of illegal immigrants has become an issue in the Republican presidential contest. And as an election year approaches, it's unlikely the immigration debate will die down any time soon. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Want to bring in Challen Stephens with "The Huntsville Times." I know your paper's been doing extensive reporting on this law. Challen, just in terms of the absenteeism, based upon our own reporting, we have a specific number I have, 1,988 kids. That's the number of kids that didn't go to school Friday alone. That was the day after the ruling.

Where are they going? And what are these families telling your reporters?

CHALLEN STEPHENS, "HUNTSVILLE TIMES": Well, what we're hearing is sort of -- it's more global than just the schools. We're hearing sort of this global state of fear. We're seeing labor shortages in all areas -- restaurants, farms. And people are taking their children out of schools. Whether they're taking them out because of the aspects of the law that apply to the public schools or because of the global nature of the law, we can't really determine.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's stick with schools here for a minute.

STEPHENS: OK.

BALDWIN: I read that the interim superintendent of the Alabama Department of Ed, a man by the name of Larry Craven (ph) -- he said, this -- and I'm quoting -- says, "Schools will comply with the law checking the status of new students, but that nobody will be denied an education." Is that -- is that an oxymoron?

STEPHENS: Well, that is how the law reads. The law reads that they have -- they have to check the immigration status of all newly enrolled students, and they have 30 days to -- the students have 30 days to present a birth certificate, or the parent can come in and attest that the child was born in the United States.

If they were not, it's just -- it's a statistical count. The child is not denied anything, although it's pretty easy to see why someone would misinterpret this. We do have police in a lot of the schools. The police have been given new latitude under this law.

BALDWIN: So it's the police...

STEPHENS: And your reporter had Dr. Casey Wardinsky here in Huntsville mention in Spanish -- he mentioned in Spanish about there was nothing to fear from police in the schools.

BALDWIN: All right, I heard that.

STEPHENS: So there's some misconceptions out there.

BALDWIN: So I guess just help me understand how exactly this is enforced. You mentioned there's police in the schools. So is it not that the teachers and the principals who are enforcing it, it's police. And also, it's new students, not kids who were already in the schools? Am I hearing that correctly?

STEPHENS: Yes. Correct. It's strictly new students.

BALDWIN: OK, so...

STEPHENS: As for the police in the schools, they have no role in this. But if you don't understand the law and you see the police and you know the schools have been asked to ask certain questions, you could see where someone might make a leap.

BALDWIN: I see. So if you are in Alabama illegally, you send your kid to school -- this is the kid's first year, so they're considered new -- it is the duty of these police officers to then ask -- who do they ask, the child or they go to the parent and say...

STEPHENS: No, not the police officers. The school systems themselves have to designate a school official. So we can presume some teacher somewhere is going to be in charge of checking birth certificates. The schools were a little bit surprised that this part of the ruling -- this part of the law was upheld by the judge's ruling last Wednesday. So I'm not sure that all these officials are in place yet. We don't know who's going to check birth certificates.

BALDWIN: Is there some hesitancy on the...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHENS: ... and they report back to the state.

BALDWIN: Is there any hesitancy, from what you all have heard, on behalf of any of these I guess appointed school officials to check these birth certificates? Will they follow through? I guess they have to (INAUDIBLE)

STEPHENS: Well, not hesitancy. Yes, it's the law, and that's what we hear. It's the law. We will comply. And they keep asking the students not to be afraid.

BALDWIN: Asking them not to be afraid. OK. Challen Stephens with "The Huntsville Times," thank you so much. Big changes there in Alabama. Thank you.

Meantime, New Jersey governor Chris Christie says he will not run for president in 2012. So what about the other guys here? We're going to show you how some of the actual Republican candidates are reacting to today's news. Plus, a heart-breaking story about a small child found trapped in the basement of a home. He'd been locked down there as punishment. We can do better, folks. Stay with me for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Time now to go to Washington to talk politics here. Let's go to Peter Hamby with the latest news here off the "Political Ticker." And Peter, before you start, I know we're going to talk about how other, you know, candidates in the GOP field are reacting to today's big announcement from New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Let's pop up the live shot, guys, and just show people -- we are awaiting a town hall -- obviously packed town hall, awaiting the leading contender, really, as of now, front-runner in this race, Mitt Romney. He'll be speaking. We'll dip into it momentarily -- significant, obviously, because this is the first time we're hearing from Mitt Romney since the big "Now is not my time" announcement from Chris Christie.

Now Peter Hamby, I defer to you, sir.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, there are some big sighs of relief up Boston today at Romney headquarters, you can be sure, Brooke. You know, Chris Christie, if he entered the race, would have been competing in that same space as Romney, kind of that establishment-friendly, you know, problem-solving Republican space in the field. So yes, it'll be interesting to see what he has to say.

We also heard from Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann earlier today after Christie made his announcement. This is what Jon Huntsman said. He said, "Governor Christie is a tremendous public servant and will be force in Republican politics for years to come. Though he will not be entering the presidential race, his message of reforming government and restoring American exceptionalism will not be lost.

So Huntsman is another candidate who would have been deathly afraid of Christie entering the race, again because they're competing the same types of donors and sort of moderate Republicans in the field. So that's what Jon Huntsman had to say.

Obviously, some of these candidates will be hoping for Chris Christie's endorsement down the road. Christie and his team of political advisers have met with several candidates up in Jersey, kind of entertained them as they've come through to kind of kiss the Christie ring. So you know, we'll see if Christie does choose to endorse. Earlier this summer, that was the game plan, kind of wait until the fall, his advisers told me, and then endorse a candidate.

So right now, you know, it's shaping up to be a two-person race, Brooke, between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. But so many things can change, as we've seen...

BALDWIN: Including...

HAMBY: ... in the race so far... BALDWIN: Including -- I feel like this is an obligatory question I have to ask -- Sarah Palin? Any word?

HAMBY: Well, the first filing deadline for any primary state is October 28th. Governor Palin has told me personally that she thinks she can wait that long to jump in the race. That's several weeks away. They probably have to get things in motion a couple weeks before that. So it could be pretty soon for her.

I've talked to a few people around Palin-world today. The line remains the same. The field is wide open. Things can change. So they're still keeping that door open, and Governor Palin would obviously mix things up. Again, though, that could help Mitt Romney because Sarah Palin's really playing in the conservative lane of the Republican primary, kind of -- she would kind of split up the vote with Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, that side of the Republican Party. So you can bet that after Christie bowing out, now Romney's kind of rooting for Sarah Palin to jump in, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Sounds like you can repeat that camp Palin line in your sleep by now, I guess, Peter Hamby, huh. Peter, thank you so much.

Still to come here, a 7-year-old boy found locked in a coffin in a basement. When he was found, he simply asked, Are you here to help me? The dramatic story of how he was found and by whom coming up in two minutes.

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BALDWIN: If you already have been watching me regularly at 3:00 o'clock Eastern time, you know that I get -- I get angry every time I have to tell you about this next kind of incident. And I say -- I say "have to tell you" -- I don't have to tell you about it, I want to tell you about it because as a society, when it comes to our children, we can do better.

Police went to this house -- this is Scranton, Pennsylvania -- last week. They found a 7-year-old boy in a diaper. Neighbors had heard him crying in the basement. They called police. That's where officers found him, wearing only a T-shirt and a diaper. He said, Are you here to help me? And gave one officer a big hug.

Now, a neighbor did give him some pants, and he proceeded to describe how he had been locked down in this basement with no bathroom as punishment after school. And not just that, he was also locked inside this coffin. He told police his mom and stepdad shut him inside often, and they even used to duct tape it sometimes to close it. He said the grown-ups would tell him there were ghosts in the house dropping big chains on the floor just to frighten him.

I want you to listen here to one investigation describe the conditions inside this home.

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MARK SEITZINGER, SCRANTON CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: We walked into the basement area. Boards (ph) were burned out. Floor joists were burned out, electrical problems, heating problems, you know, pretty much you name it, plumbing issues. Walked into a lot of flies, a lot of bugs flying around in the basement. There was a bathroom in the basement. When we opened up that door in the basement, there were a lot of small flies.

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BALDWIN: Well, we called police today, and they told us the boy's mom and stepdad haven't been arrested yet. There was a warrant out for them on child abuse and neglect charges. Inevitably, when I stand here and I share these types of cases with you, there's a comment from a neighbor who says, Oh, we thought something was stranger. Yes, we noticed that kid never went to school, never went outside to play, signs that should not have been ignored.

And that truly was genesis of our whole mission here -- we can do better. But on this day, as police are still searching for that little boy's mom and stepfather, I think it's OK for us to just pause for a moment and say thank you to that neighbor who didn't ignore the sounds of this crying child, who made that call, who gave him clothes so he could be handled in a way much more humanely than his parents evidently ever did.

We can do better for children, and that neighborhood did. Be right back.

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BALDWIN: It's the tune that's been played for years at the start of "Monday Night Football." Yes, well, last night, fans didn't hear the familiar theme by Hank Williams, Jr. It's what's trending. We want to hear from you about this.

First, though, let me get into the back story. So ESPN -- they pulled the song after Williams appeared on Fox News yesterday. Williams called a golf outing between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama a political mistake. And when he was asked to explain what he meant by that, here's what he said.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean when John Boehner played golf with President Obama?

HANK WILLIAMS, JR., SINGER: Oh, yes! Yes. And Biden and Casey. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you not like about it? It seems to be a really pivotal moment for you.

WILLIAMS: Come on! Come on! It'd be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu!

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Williams also called the president and vice president he Three Stooges. Williams later issued the following statement on his Web site, which wasn't an apology, it was an explanation. Let me read part of it for you here. He says, "My analogy was extreme, but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me, how ludicrous that pairing was. They're polar opposites, and it made no sense. They don't see eye to eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president."

Well, ESPN released a statement, as well, saying, quote, "We are extremely disappointed with his comments," end quote. ESPN's decision to yank the theme song before last night's game got a lot of us talking in our editorial meeting this morning, and I want to hear from you on this. What do you think of ESPN's call, dropping the song? Should they have done it, a reaction, or appropriate? I'm on Twitter @brookebcnn.

"In Depth" today, Apple making its much anticipated iPhone announcement just about an hour ago. Dan Simon is our Silicon Valley correspondent. You were inside that much anticipated unveiling, Dan Simon. But I guess kind of anticlimactic, in a sense. No iPhone 5, right?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what? You can't knock it out of the ballpark every time. I think that's what the public will think. I mean, if you were, you know, thinking that there was going to be a significant upgrade with this latest version of the iPhone, I think you're going to walk away disappointed.

It's not called the iPhone 5, it's called the iPhone 4S. And there are some nice things about this phone. It's faster. It's got a better camera. It's got this thing called Serie (ph), which is a personal assistant. You can speak commands. It'll text for you when you speak a command. It'll set a calendar appointment, things of that nature.

But the bottom line here is we didn't see this major upgrade that we thought we might see. And I want you to listen now to Phil Schiller. He's the chief marketing officer who introduced the iPhone 4S.

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PHIL SCHILLER, APPLE SR. VP, WORLDWIDE PRODUCT MARKETING: As you've heard, it's the number one smartphone in the world and number one in customer satisfaction. So people have been wondering, how do you follow up a hit product like the iPhone 4? Well, I'm really pleased to tell you today all about the brand-new iPhone 4S.

(APPLAUSE)

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SCHILLER: It's glass in the front and back and has an incredible stainless steel band around it, making it the thinnest smartphone. But don't be deceived because inside, it is all new. So how is it different? First, it has a new chip inside. The A5 chip that we launched just this year in the iPad 2 is now making its way into the iPhone.

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SIMON: Well, investors apparently not impressed with this new phone, either. Last time I checked a couple of minutes ago, Apple's stock down about 10 points. What you just saw there, that was Phil Schiller. But Tim Cook -- he presided over this. He's the new CEO. He let the other guys sort of do the product introductions, and he sort of did the big picture.

But it was the first time we ever saw Tim Cook really in this setting. And you know, he seemed very comfortable, but you know, it was noticeably -- you know, noticeably absent, of course, Steve Jobs. There was some buzz that he might make an appearance today, but we did not see him, Brooke.

BALDWIN: One additional question. So in addition to this phone I guess talking, what about this -- the iCloud? When can we start keeping all of our music in the cloud?

SIMON: That's going to start right away as soon as the phone goes on sale October 14th. ICloud is a nice feature. The way Apple, you know, puts it, it just works. So if you take a picture on your iPhone, it will automatically appear on your iPad. It'll automatically appear on your Macintosh. If you've downloaded a song in the past and it's no longer on your phone, iCloud can sense that, and then the music can automatically come to your phone. That is a free feature. That'll be available right away, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Dan Simon, thank you very much for the big unveiling of the iPhone 4S. Thank you.

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