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Attorney General Faces Contempt Vote; Discussion of Botched Fast and Furious Raid; The Fed Announces New Decision to Keep Interest Rates Low; Hot temperatures In Northeast; Egyptians Await Answers; Nuns Angry with Republican Budget Cuts Go on Tour; Jerry Sandusky Does Not Take Stand in Trial; Mitt Romney Lists Senator Marco Rubio as Potential VP Candidate. Group Pushes for Anti-Biotic Free Meat in Supermarkets.
Aired June 20, 2012 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. This hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, we're focusing on politics, the economy here at home. I want to get right to it. A fallout over a botch gun running sting escalates at a whole new level. We are talking about right in the middle of it, attorney general Eric Holder. The House committee is holding a hearing right now to consider a contempt citation against Holder. Committee chairman, Congressman Darrell Issa demanding more documents related to the failed gun sting known as Operation Fast and Furious. The situation escalated when President Obama invoked executive privilege over these documents that Issa is asking for.
Triple digit temperatures expected this week in the Northeast, hottest we have seen all year. Remember, you've got to drink plenty of water, limit your sun exposure, wear some light clothing. Things should cool down by the weekend.
More now of the legal and political showdown of the botched gun running sting operation. President Obama and the White House, they are now involved. The House oversight committee is considering a contempt measure against attorney general Eric Holder. Chairman Darrell Issa, he is demanding more documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. It was an attempt to track weapons purchased by Mexican drug cartels, but the Bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms lost track of more than 1,000 weapons that were carried across the border. Two of the guns turned up at the scene where a U.S. border patrol agent was killed. Kate Bolduan is following all developments on Capitol Hill. Kate, first of all, explain to us, why did the White House feel that it needed to get involved?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House has gotten involved because they believe that some of these documents -- these documents that are in question, they are sensitive in a deliberative nature, that they fall under kind of the per view of executive privilege. They are important enough to kind of be interworkings of the executive branch and its communication -- the president's communications with his advisors that they do not think it should be part of this investigation.
In this letter, Suzanne, that the deputy attorney general sent to Darrell Issa, the chairman of the committee, just today before the hearing, he lays it out pretty clearly. He says, we regret that we have arrived at this point after the many steps we have taken to address the committee's concerns, and to accommodate the committee's legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious. But he goes on to say, although we are deeply disappointed that the committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the department remains willing to work with the committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues. They're trying to say there that they may be leaving room -- leaving some room there to work out some kind of a resolution there, but make no mistake, they are moving forward with this contempt vote, and the chairman of the committee feels differently about what this contempt -- what this executive privilege assertion is than the White House does.
MALVEAUX: OK. So, where are we in this hearing process are we? Are they ready to vote?
BOLDUAN: This hearing has gone on very long. It started just after 10:00, about 10:20 this morning, and they've gone with whomever -- every member of the committee, if they want to, can have their time to talk and they have been taking it. They are going back and forth. Not surprising what you are hearing, very much along the political lines, , Democrats saying that they believe this is a witch hunt against the administration and the attorney general Republican saying this is -- that the administration and the attorney general has been stonewalling them as they have a legitimate role of oversight and are trying to investigate what happened with this botched operation. They are continuing with going back and forth and taking their time to speak. We are told that they will recess, they'll kind of take a break after everyone wraps up, and then the assumption is they will vote. But in terms of timing, it is anyone's guess.
MALVEAUX: OK. And also, you know, there is lot of discussion here, and people are talking about the constitutional crisis, it could go to the Supreme Court. Do you get the sense that people there want to resolve this thing and not have it get to escalate to that point? They might take a step back?
BOLDUAN: And it really -- yes. Honestly, it depends who you speak with. I will say that both sides, when I speak with them, they say they want to avoid this -- it was the chairman of the committee said he wants to avoid this contempt citation. He just wants the documents. If you speak, though, to the top Democrat on his committee, he came out saying that it appears that the chairman, in his view, is going towards this contempt citation no matter what came out of that meeting that they had last night to try to resolve their differences. So, it seems, as is always, up here on Capitol Hill, it depends on who you speak with. But make no mistake, this has gone from a political showdown to a full scale battle between the administration and Congress. And it's -- this has become a big deal, to say the least though.
MALVEAUX: Big deal indeed. All right. Thank you, Kate, appreciate it. Much awaited fed announcement in -- that's a big deal, too. After two days of meetings, the fed decision to put $267 billion into a program to swap short-term bonds for longer ones. The idea is, basically, to keep interest rates low. Alison Kosik, she's at the New Stock Exchange to kind of explain what did the fed announce and how folks are reacting?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what's interesting. If you look at the board, you wouldn't really think that a big announcement even happened. Stocks are higher right now. You know, when the fed came out with this announcement that it's extending what it called Operation Twist. You did see the markets plunge, the Dow actually fell within minutes to 92 points lower.
And now, it's -- obviously, it's come back, the Dow is up 17 points. And what it did was once again, it extended this Operation Twist. What essentially that is is when the fed -- the federal reserve sells the short-term treasures and use the proceeds -- used the proceeds from that to buy longer term ones. The whole bowl (ph) in this is the pushdown long -- these long-term interest rates and what that does is it makes it cheaper for businesses to get loans and consumers to get mortgages and other credit. But this has been going on since September, October of last year.
And one analyst that I just talked with said, you know what part of the problem is with getting the economy going is you can't force borrowers to borrow money, and you can't force the banks to lend. And this is the whole point of Operation Twist by getting these interest rates lower. You know, why borrow? At least businesses feel , why borrow when the economy is slowing? And then there comes the question, Suzanne, how effective has it been so far since it's been in effect since September? But clearly, the market is not too upset about it, really exactly what was expected to come out of the fed today -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And market analysts, what are they making of what's happening?
KOSIK: Yes. You know, some say -- you know, some are questioning whether or not the feds should have done more, but then you sort of turn the whole picture around that if the fed did something more dramatic and it makes everybody step back and say, well, wait. You know, is the economy worse off than we thought? You know, is this why the fed is taking such dramatic action? So, by the fed kind of keeping the status quo, because it's going to basically keep things going the way it's been going until the end of the year, it is what is more of a wait and see sort of attitude that you are seeing.
And then others say, you know, this could be enough to keep things afloat while the economy tries to recover on its own, while we wait for things in Greece and Spain to kind of level off there as well. You know, because a lot of the people question, Suzanne, whether it is the fed's role to prop up the economy when things are really bad -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: All right, Alison Kosik. Thank you, Alison. Here is what we are working on this hour
(voice-over): Uncertainty and fear in Egypt with reports of Hosni Mubarak's near death. And Egypt's first re-election still up in the air.
And would you like your meat without (INAUDIBLE.) One group's push to require all grocery stores to carry antibiotic-free meat.
MALVEAUX: Rumors are swirling about whether Egypt's ousted dictator, Hosni Mubarak, is dead or alive. He's been declared clinically dead, on life support, off life support, in and out of a coma. It is all adding to the country's political and constitutional turmoil of who won the presidency and how much power the winner is actually going to have. Ivan Watson is joining us live from Cairo. Ivan, you got a lot going on there. First of all, let's talk a little bit about Mubarak. We know apparently he suffered a stroke in prison, perhaps a heart attack as well, he is 84 years old. What are Egypt's military rulers telling you about his condition today? Do we know anything more?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest word comes from his lawyer who says that his condition is improving. He is off of life support after he was transferred from the prison where he is supposed to be serving a life sentence to the Maadi military hospital. Also saying that his wife, Suzanne, has been able to travel to his bedside. The interesting thing, Suzanne, is that when you ask Egyptians about their former president, many of them don't seem to care very much or they are downright suspicious and skeptical about these reports about a health emergency. We have to remember that for much of the last year and a half, they've been getting false alarms and warnings that the former president is in critical condition, that he is suffering from health problems and that he's in no position to serve trial for instance.
So, a lot of the Egyptians that we have talked to have actually accused the Egyptian authorities of using this as a smoke screen to distract the population from the very real political problems that are currently taking place in the government with no idea about where this country --
WATSON: -- is headed in the future.
MALVEAUX: Ivan, let's talk about one of those political problems which is the presidential election, whether or not they really know who won this election that took place last weekend. You've two of them, of the contenders, who are saying they both won. You know, the Islam's Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim brotherhood. Then you've got Ahmed Shafik, he was Mubarak's last prime minister. Is there a sense that there is going to be something that is cleared up and clarified by tomorrow?
WATSON: Well, we're waiting for the official results, which we've been told should come out on Thursday. They're just -- within the last hour, a spokesman for the ruling military council has suggest it could be postponed, because both sides are alleging fraud in the election. What's interesting is that state media, as well as today, an association of judges that observed the election, they have all projected the Muslim brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, as the winner in the election with the same numbers that his campaign has projected, a 52 percent of the vote. Of course, that's disputed by the mother candidate Ahmed Shafik.
And it's also interesting to note that a spokesman for the brotherhood, Mahmoud Galgalan, has issued a warning. If Ahmed Shafik is declared the winner, he has told us, it will be shear forgery and we will take to the streets to defend ourselves. That's the Muslim brotherhood spokesman. Hard to tell if that's bluffing or a real serious threat.
MALVEAUX: Yes. It sounds like things could get pretty ugly again. Final question here, does it really matter who actually wins this election, considering that the military now has most of the power?
WATSON: I think those people who were opposed to Morsi, the Muslim brotherhood candidate, those Egyptians who tell me, we're afraid he's going to turn this country into a theocracy like Iran, those people have been very depressed this week, hearing reports that he has done quite well in the election. So, they will probably continue being unhappy about that. And some of them have voiced support for the rather un-Democratic moves, that be supreme council of the armed forces has made in the past couple of days to consolidate power, both from the recently dissolved parliament --
WATSON: -- but also from the post of president. And that has triggered supporters of the Muslim brotherhood out into the streets yesterday on mass to chant no to military rule --
MALVEAUX: All right.
WATSON: -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Ivan Watson keeping an eye on all things there, and obviously fast-developing story there. Thank you, Ivan. The Carter Center has maintained a steady presence in Egypt, monitoring all of the elections. President Carter himself was there for last month's presidential vote. I just spoke with him last hour about the elections. We're going to bring you his comments in just a couple of minutes.
And a group of nuns, angry about government cutbacks for the poor, they're renting a bus and they're going on tour.
MALVEAUX: Fallout over a botched gun running sting escalates into an all-out political battle. Right in the middle of it is Attorney General Eric Holder. A House committee, they are holding a hearing right now to consider a contempt citation against Holder. Committee Chairman Congressman Darrell Issa, he is demanding more documents related to the failed gun sting known as operation fast and furious. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), OVERSIGHT & GOVT. REFORM CHMN.: Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt. Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work that it is not only entitled to, but obligated to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: The situation escalated today when President Obama asserted executive privilege over these documents that Issa and the panel are actually seeking.
All week we've been going in depth on calls for change within the American catholic church. For our focus today, a group of nuns who recently got a stern reprimand from the Vatican for prioritizing economic issues over social ones, like abortion. They're not letting it slow down their work at all. Right now they are on a multi-state bus tour to protest a Republican budget plan. Ted Rowlands, he goes along for the ride.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rolling down the highways of middle America, the nuns on the bus are hard to miss. Their driver, Bill, says he normally carts around famous musicians. Well, these nuns, including 81-year-old Sister Diane Donoghue from Los Angeles, say they feel like they're getting rock star treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, there!
SISTER DIANE DONOGHUE, "NUNS ON THE BUS": That's the most amazing thing. When you walk out of the bus and you see the excitement and the anticipation.
ROWLANDS: The nuns are attracting crowds of supporters at every stop. They plan to drive more than 2,000 miles through nine states ending up in Washington, D.C. on July 2nd. The main purpose of the bus tour, according to the nuns, is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's House passed budget plan, which Ryan says is in tune with his catholic faith, even though it cuts services to the poor.
SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, "NUNS ON THE BUS": Congressman Ryan claiming the Catholicism mantle really set our teeth on edge. And, probably, we probably we wouldn't be on the road if he hadn't have done that.
ROWLANDS: The nuns stopped at Ryan's Wisconsin office Tuesday, delivering to one of his staffers what they call a faithful budget proposal that protects the poor. The idea for the bus tour came after the Vatican's recent public criticism of socially active nuns in the U.S., which the nuns say created an outpouring of sympathy and a lot of attention.
CAMPBELL: And so we said, how can we use this opportunity of -- with focus on us to show people what really is -- we are about and who we care for. CROWD (singing): The nuns on the bus are in the know.
ROWLANDS: So far the nuns, who now have their own song thanks to fans in Iowa, say they are overwhelmed by the receptions they're getting. They're using their time on the bus to check e-mail and Twitter accounts as driver Bill gets them to their next stop.
CROWD (singing): We thank you as you go.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, with the nuns on the bus.
MALVEAUX: Former President Jimmy Carter is back home from monitoring the election in Egypt. I talked to him about the instability of the government now.
Don't forget, you can watch CNN live on your computer while you're at work. Go to cnn.com/tv.
MALVEAUX: Southern Baptist Convention has an historic first. On Tuesday, the Reverend Fred Luter became the first African-American to lead the group. The Southern Baptists, they were founded 167 years ago to support slavery and later segregation. Reverend Luter says his leadership in the nation's largest protestant denomination shows how drastically times have changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. FRED LUTER, JR., PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: This is a brand new convention. Yes, we started out as a result of slavery, but that's behind us now and we have proven the fact through the years that we want to move on from there. And I think by electing me as president of this convention is exhibit a to the world that this convention is now ready to open its doors to different groups no matter your background, no matter your race, no matter your color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Julian Assange has made a bold move to stop his extradition to Sweden. Assange is the founder of the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. Well, he is at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. That is where he's asking for asylum. Assange, he is wanted in Sweden, as you may recall, for questioning in a sexual assault cast. Last week, Britain's top court dismissed his appeal to stay in England, and his trip to the embassy violates now the conditions of his release on bail.
The defense decides not to put Jerry Sandusky on the stand. What does it mean for the child sex abuse case? We're going to have that next.
MALVEAUX: Egyptians are on edge right now. The fate of their ousted dictator and the fate of the struggling democracy both in question right at this moment. The country's military rulers say presidential election results could be announced tomorrow, but the generals have taken all the power from the presidency. The Carter Center has maintained a steady presence in Egypt, monitoring all the elections. President Carter himself was there for last month's presidential vote. I had a chance to speak with him last hour about how he thinks it's going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (voice-over): Actually, the elections have been OK. I've -- we've been there ever since November. And we've monitored the parliamentary election and also the presidential election. Both the original and then the two-person runoff recently. And we'll be there throughout the process of inaugurating new officers and writing a new constitution.
The Carter Center will also be there when a referendum is held among the Egyptian people to approve or disapprove the Constitution once it's written. So we are there permanently. And noted leaders -- I've met with General Shafik, I've met with Dr. Morsi several times to discuss the future of Egypt with them, discuss the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and those very important issues.
MALVEAUX: You mentioned the fact that this -- that the parliament, the supreme court dissolved the elected parliament. The military issued a decree saying they have legislative power, and the military rulers have now given themselves more power than they ever had under President Mubarak's regime. Do you think that the president, whoever the president is, is going to have real presidential powers here?
CARTER: Well, if the international community will rally to support democracy and freedom in Egypt, then, yes, the military has to back down, but there has to be a strong statement made from the United States once the identity of the president is known, regardless of who it is, that the military cede power, give up power to the elected officials. Otherwise, the entire process is going to be disapproved by not only the international community, but also the people of Egypt, and might even go back to demonstrations, including violence. I hope that does not happen. It need not happen.
MALVEAUX: I want to move on the Syria, if we could. With the U.N. now estimating more than 10,000 people have died in the 15 months since the Syrian people's uprising. We know that Syria's leader, Bashar al Assad, insisted he is not going anywhere. What do you think the Obama administration should do? They say Bashar Assad to go. What do you think the Obama administration needs to do?
CARTER: Well, I don't think we're going to get directly involved in militarily with Syria. That would be a tragic mistake. But the United States could work intimately and give -- with Kofi Annan, and give him full support. He is working with the Iranians and he is working with the Russians and working with the Assad regime and working with the revolutionaries in Syria. He's working with the United Nations. But the support that has been given to him from Washington has been very uncertain. He's the only ball game in town. So I know Kofi Annan well. I stayed in touch with him permanently. And we need to work exclusively and with full support for Kofi, whatever he is trying to do.
MALVEAUX: Should the United States provide weapons to the opposition or funding?
CARTER: I don't think so. You know, I think that some entities in the world who are allies that are giving weapons to the revolutionaries. Saudi Arabia may be one, I'm not sure. But the more weapons we inject into Syria, the more tragic that the civil war is doing to be.
MALVEAUX: House committee just held a hearing to consider a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder. They are currently in recess right now. Meanwhile, the fallout of the botched gun running scheme escalates into an all-out political battle. Right now in the middle is Attorney General Eric Holder. Committee chairman, Congressman Darrell Issa is demanding for documents related to the failed gun sting known as Operation Fast and Furious. The situation escalated today when President Obama exerted executive privilege over the documents that Issa and the panel are asking for. It drew a strong response from one of the committee members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TRAY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here, Mr. Chairman, is the proof that the Department of Justice in Washington, not Arizona, in Washington, knew about the tactic of gun walking well before Brian Terry was murdered. So we have a fundamentally flawed federal investigation. We have a dead Border Patrol agent. We have hundreds of dead Mexican citizens, thousands of weapons with America's fingerprints on both sides of the border unaccounted for, and a demonstratively false letter being written to a committee of Congress. and yet, we are asked for more time. Please wait. Give it more time. It has been over a year, Mr. Chairman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Two guns from the sting were found at the site where a border agent was killed.
Now to dramatic development in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation trial. The defense rested the case today without calling the former Penn State coach to the stand. Sandusky is accused of sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Closing arguments begin tomorrow.
I want to bring in Susan Candiotti who's been in courtroom all morning to talk about this.
First, a lot of folks thought that Sandusky would actually take the stand today. Why do you think that didn't happen?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a good question. What we know is this. As of last night, he was fully prepped by the attorneys and ready to go. The question is, in the end, these are always decisions that are made at the last moment. Oftentimes, if they think it won't help him and it could hurt him, they don't do it. Remember the burden of proof is on the prosecutors to prove their case. A defendant never has to take the stand, but certainly in such a high-profile case like this, with a kind of testimony that was heard, you have to imagine that not only we wanted to hear from Jerry Sandusky, but certainly the jurors, Suzanne, would have wanted to hear from him. When he left court this day, he had his usual half smile face on as he got into the car and left.
MALVEAUX: I was going to ask you about that. He didn't show much emotion in the trial. Did he seem relieved in any way that he didn't have to take the stand?
CANDIOTTI: You know, because his back is towards us in the courtroom, it is hard to say. The only measurement we have is when he left the courthouse and he walked out. He had sort of no expression on the face until someone slapped him on the back as he got into the car, one of the people helping him with the case, and then he drove off. We have to wonder what is going on in his mind.
MALVEAUX: Absolutely. One of the jurors was replaced today. Why?
CANDIOTTI: Yes, that was the first thing we heard this morning, Suzanne. When we came in, the judge announced that juror six, a woman, who works at Wal-Mart, said she was too sick to go on and the judge immediately replaced her with a first alternate, who is a woman who also has ties, like other jurors do, to Penn State. She is a Penn State alum. And also Jerry Sandusky spoke at her graduation. So we now know that there are seven jurors who have some ties to Penn State University along with another one who has a tie to one of the witnesses in the case.
MALVEAUX: Well, it is a very close community. We know that the jurors yesterday heard from Sandusky's wife, Dottie, and she testified that the children slept over at the couple's house often, but she never witnessed any abuse. Where there any unanswered questions the jurors will have to wrestle with on that one?
CANDIOTTI: Well, certainly, they are not hearing from Jerry Sandusky, so Dottie Sandusky may be the next best thing for them. And not surprisingly, Suzanne. This is a couple married for more than 45 years. She defended her husband and remained composed while doing it on the stand. Said she never heard anything inappropriate, never heard any yelling coming from the basement where some of these alleged attacks occurred, and she supported her husband in each and every way. But in the end, when the prosecutor asked, can you think of any reason why all of these people would lie about him, her answer was, I don't know.
MALVEAUX: Susan Candiotti. Excellent reporting as always. Thank you, Susan.
Mitt Romney is confirming rising Republican star Marco Rubio is being vetted for the V.P. position. What will this mean for the campaign?
MALVEAUX: The Fed today announced another $267 billion boost to the U.S. economy. It is a continuation of a plan to keep the interest rates low and money easier to borrow. We want to look at the markets reacting to much awaited news. Down by 12 points at that point.
All right. So you have to rethink the investments. It's an up- and-down economy. A man known for his excellent investing skills, Jim Rogers, he has seen it all. Where does he keep his money?
Here is Christine Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jim Rogers has been playing the markets since the early 1970s and, today, this legendary investor doesn't like what he sees.
JIM ROGERS, ROGERS HOLDINGS: Next year, it's going to be bad in the American economy.
ROMANS (on camera): Why?
ROGERS: Be very careful? Why is it going to be bad?
ROMANS: Fiscal cliffs?
ROGERS: Lots of fiscal cliffs, raising taxes. Do you think that's going to help? Europe is a mess. There's lots of problems going on in the world. Christine, we have had recessions in America every four to six years since the beginning of the republic. you can add. Next year, we are going to have an economic slowdown for whatever reason, and it is going to be bad.
ROMANS: So if you are so worried, what do you buy and where do you put your money?
ROGERS: My money is -- I'm short stocks. Shorting is when you think that somebody is going to go down. And I own currencies and commodities.
ROMANS: They say that everyone should have a little gold in their portfolio.
ROGERS: Everybody --
ROMANS: How much?
ROGERS: I have a little gold in the pocket. I hope I do.
ROMANS: No. Let me see. He sure does. I won't keep it, but --
ROGERS: I know you won't keep it. I've got witnesses.
ROMANS: Commodities have had a pullback lately. Do you believe that is the place to buy commodities?
ROGERS: Yes. Two things will happen. One, either the economy will get better and since there are shortages in commodities, I will make money in commodities, or the economy won't get better and the governments will print money. It is the wrong thing the do, Christine, but that is all they know to do. And whenever they print money, you have to own real assets, if you want to make money. Whether it is silver or rice, you have to own real things.
ROMANS: What is the best piece of advice that anybody gave you?
ROGERS: Buy low and sell high.
ROMANS: Of course.
ROGERS: What else do you need to know in life?
ROMANS: And, of course, you always know when it is low and when it's going to go up.
ROGERS: Ah, that's the hard part.
ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
MALVEAUX: Mitt Romney making it clear that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is on the list of possible V.P. candidates. Romney says that Rubio is being thoroughly vetted. Rubio would help Romney and the Republicans with Latino voters, the group that both Romney and President Obama will be addressing this week.
Political director, Mark Preston, joining us to talk about that.
Mark, we saw that Romney made a point to respond to the point that Rubio was not on the list. He is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not, and that is Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn't talk to anybody. The story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: All right. Mark, it is a pretty good move on his part politically. Why do you think he did it? What do we know?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, in some ways, it was kind of awkward. The fact that you had the likely Republican presidential having to go out and say that somebody is being vetted is not what we have seen traditionally. The process is supposed to be very closed.
PRESTON: We are supposed to speculate in the media. There's supposed to be a list, but we never get to see the list. And yet, he has to come out several hours, many hours after this report on "ABC News" that he was not being vetted to say, in fact, he is being vetted.
Look, the reason he did it is because the pressure on him not to do it was probably too great. The fact is that Marco Rubio is a rising star in the Republican Party. He will eventually become a national leader, this national Hispanic leader. He's not quite there yet, and he eventually will be. But if he was not vetted, why would they say he is not being vetted. That is why we saw that yesterday -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: We know that Romney and President Obama will be addressing a major Latino conference in Orlando. We will be there as well. How important is the message that they address this group? What do they need to say at that point? We are running out of time.
PRESTON: Sire Well, you know what they are going the say? Bottom line, talk about the economy. That is what we will hear from Mitt Romney. And that is what he is going to hit the nail on the head. That is his focus will be when he speaks to this group tomorrow.
President Obama, a little bit broader. He will talk about the economy, but he's also going to talk about the whole path to citizenship, though they are not calling it that, but his decision to not send all of the young undocumented immigrants back to their country of origin.
MALVEAUX: Tell me what is taking place in Florida because this effort to purge voter rolls is coming under fire, but there's a new poll shows that shows that most Floridians support this.
PRESTON: Yes, hey absolutely support this. It is controversial. Talk about a time when Florida is in the spotlight right now and, of course, the conference where you will be at tomorrow is going to be there.
But look at what is happening right now. The governor of Florida is trying to purge the rolls of people who are not necessarily citizens. This poll that came out this morning on our screen shows that overwhelmingly Floridians support this idea.
I have to tell you, there are lawsuits. There are current lawsuits going on right now. The Department of Justice has sued the state of Florida by saying that they have broke n the law by trying to purge the rolls 90 days before an election. The state of Florida has filed suit back against the Department of Homeland Security, saying they have not helped them try to clean the voter rolls. This is consequential, because it has become a fight between Republicans and Democrats -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: A huge impact.
Thank you, Mark. Good to see you.
PRESTON: Thank you.
MALVEAUX; Question, do you check your meat for drugs? There is a group that is pushing supermarkets to sell only antibiotic-free meat. Why that matters to your health.
MALVEAUX: When you are buying meat at the store, are you actually checking the labels? A new survey shows that people want their meat without drugs, and namely antibiotics. And there is a whopping 66 percent of people who say they want more meat raised without antibiotics, which is a study by Consumer Union.
Elizabeth Cohen is joining us to tell us what the concern is about antibiotics?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the concern is that the bacteria are getting smarter and the antibiotics that we use and animals use, they will whip the antibiotics and the more they see, the smarter they are, and so then when we antibiotics, they don't work as well because the bacteria have gotten so smart. The concern is, when animals use a lot of antibiotics, it makes the antibiotics we use when we get sick less effective.
MALVEAUX: We want to use drug free meat, it is harder to find?
COHEN: You want to look for something that's labeled organic. It will have a USDA seal. That means no antibiotics were used. We did a completely unscientific survey. There is a price difference. Look at chicken breasts that are just regular at Trader Joe's in California. $5, $7 if you want the antibiotic-free version. That's a $2 difference. Food Lion, $4 versus $6. About the same difference at Shaw's in Boston. You are shelling out more if you don't want the antibiotics.
MALVEAUX: Are they cooperating?
COHEN: The Consumer Union is challenging them to do this. We called and could not get a response. The American meat institute say we use antibiotic, but don't worry. That doesn't contribute much of anything to antibiotic resistance. They don't see a link.
MALVEAUX: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.
An Iraq war veteran now helping bandage and heal Syrians. Why he believes Americans should intervene.
MALVEAUX: A former U.S. Soldier is witnessing a side of the Syrian conflict that most of us don't get to see. He's working at a hospital in northern Lebanon that treats wounded Syrians. He spoke to CNN's Arwa Damon about this new mission, something that he calls a game changer.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 24-year-old Peter Kassig is who you would expect to find within these walls, a former Army Ranger also certified as an emergency medical technician, treating wounded Syrians as a volunteer at a hospital across the border in Tripoli, Lebanon.
PETER KASSIG, FORMER ARMY RANGER HELPING WOUNDED SYRIANS: There's this belief there's no hope. That's when it's more important than ever to try to do something.
DAMON: It was soul searching that led him here. Peter joined the military in 2006, briefly deployed to Iraq with the Rangers in '07. Was honorably discharged for medical reasons. He went to college.
KASSIG: We just get one life and that's it. You get one shot at this. We don't get any do-overs. It was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn't have a choice. This is what I was put here to do. I guess I'm just a hopeless romantic and an idealist.
DAMON: This past spring break he packed his medical kit and headed for Lebanon.
KASSIG: I'm not a doctor. I'm not a surgeon. I'm not a nurse. I can help clean up bandages and clean up patients, swap out bandages, help run I.V.'s. Make people's quality of life a little better.
DAMON: Despite the initial culture shock and language barrier, he's bonded with those he works with, doctors and nurses who were forced to flee their homeland and are now treating their countrymen in Lebanon. Peter says that in Iraq he was spared the worst only to find it here. Some of those they treat are rebel fighters. Others the innocent victims of a spiraling conflict.
Lolila (ph) says she and her three children were run over by a military jeep as they were escaping from their besieged village. She ended up with a crushed final cord and is only just now started to regain feeling.
(on camera): It's been quite difficult for her to talk about this. She was saying all she wants is to be able to hold her children in her arms and be able to walk and hold them.
DAMON (voice-over): In another room, Yasmin smiles as she says she's seven. She's actually five. She and her family where fleeing the fighting when their vehicle was fired on. Her older siblings say she got hit. She suffered bullet wounds in both of her little legs.
It just itches, she says, still grinning.
This type of exposure to what was an alien conflict has changed Peter.
KASSIG: We have to think about the reasons why as a country we choose to help certain people and not others. We have to think about why we just chalk the Middle East up to like this complex enigma that we'll never understand because they are so different from us. At the end of the day, they're really not.
DAMON: Nurse Marwan, from Homs, hopes that somewhat Americans will finally understand.
"We're not what they say we are, terrorists and al Qaeda," Marwan explains. "Peter knows we are good people who love joking and laughter. We just want to live."
Taking a break in the room where they all sleep, Peter says America needs to rediscover its humanity.
KASSIG: Decide for yourselves. You're seeing it. This is real. It's scary stuff. It's sad what's happening with people here. Sometimes you've got to take a stand. You've got to draw a line somewhere.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Tripoli, Lebanon.
MALVEAUX: Several stories caught out attention today, as well as some photos. I want you to take a look at these. Syrian kids in a refugee camp in Turkey shake hands with a European commissioner. The commissioner will donate $16 million to refugees fleeing the escalating violence in Syria.
Some 200,000 taxi drivers are on strike for the first time in South Korea. They want to raise taxi fares and use alternative fuels instead of mandated propane due to high gas prices.
An American teen with a degenerative muscle disease meets her idols, Korean boy band, SHINee, in Soule, South Korea. She says she gets hope from listening to Korean pop music.
CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.