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Campaign Fireworks; American Hostages Freed
Aired July 16, 2012 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: False, dishonest. Mitt Romney stopping just short of calling President Barack Obama a liar. The Republican is spending his day fund-raising in the South. But he is fighting mad after the president refused to apologize for attacks on Romney's former company, Bain Capital.
Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manger suggested Romney committed a felony by listing himself as CEO of Bain after leaving the firm.
Romney told FOX News that he won't let that stand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think when people accuse you of a crime, you have every reason to go after them pretty hard. And I'm going to continue going after him. One after the other of their attacks has been shown by independent fact-checkers to be dishonest and false. So, a campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty does not have long legs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Well, I want to bring in our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, we have already seen it is getting pretty ugly out there. Does this really resonate with voters when they hear the back and forth?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know, Martin.
I have to tell you I have talked to a few voters out there on the campaign trail. And every one of them will tell you they hate this stuff. But then expert you talk to, Martin, will tell you this works. There's a reason why the campaigns are going back and forth with these attacks and there's a reason why the Obama campaign has been relentless attacking Mitt Romney and his business record and tax returns over the last several weeks.
They believe these attacks are working. And you heard the president over the weekend. He was asked by a local reporter in Virginia and the president defended these attacks, saying Mr. Romney has called himself Mr. Fix-it, looking to his business experience, so the president says Governor Romney's business experience is going to be front and center at least at this stage of the campaign. I will tell you talking to the Romney campaign, they feel like this is an opening for them to go negative on the president. I think that's the next stage of this campaign. You will hear more of that coming from the Romney campaign.
SAVIDGE: I presume they will go after the economy or the lackluster recovery.
ACOSTA: That's right. You saw Rob Portman, one of the top vice presidential potential running mates for Mitt Romney out on the campaign trail earlier this afternoon. He was delivering sort of a prebuttal to President Obama's event that is going on in Ohio.
And Senator Portman said the reason why Barack Obama is going after Mitt Romney's business record is because he wants to distract voters from the economy. The other thing going that is on is this back and forth. It almost feels like we're in the sandbox with two schoolkids going back and forth with pretty personal attacks.
But you saw over the weekend the president's campaign released an ad showing Mitt Romney singing "America the Beautiful" to some of his offshore investments. The Romney campaign not to be outdone put out its won Web video this morning featuring the president singing about a scandal that has come up recently with respect to the president. Here is a clip from that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): I'm so in love with you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So there you have it, pretty tough stuff from the Romney campaign directed back at the president going back to those accusations that Republicans have made about Solyndra. That's the high-tech firm that got energy loans from the Obama administration.
Romney and the Republicans say in exchange for campaign contributions. The Obama campaign says, no, that is flat-out false. But it gives a sense as to how personal this campaign is going to get. I think the only thing that could change the narrative between now and say next week when Mitt Romney goes overseas to watch the Olympics is if Mitt Romney names his vice presidential running mate.
That will change all this and we will stop talking about Bain and his tax returns and we will be talking about that running mate. Unclear if that's going to happen at this point. The Romney campaign says at this point a decision has not been made.
SAVIDGE: We already heard about Condoleezza Rice. That was thrown out last week. We had a fund-raiser today that Mitt Romney is part of. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is there. It's expected to haul in a huge amount of money, but I'm also interested about Jindal. ACOSTA: That's right.
The Romney campaign, Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser with Mitt Romney who is traveling with the former governor, told reporters the vice presidential selection process did not come up today. But let's also make it clear that whenever Mitt Romney is in the room with one of these vice presidential running mates, there are campaign photographers.
There are advisers who are watching the body language and who are looking at how these two look together. All of that gets fed into the process. Whether or not the subject comes up, all of these optics are being analyzed and studied by the Romney campaign. That goes into whatever variables they are looking at in terms of picking a running mate.
I will tell you in addition to Rob Portman being out today, John Thune, the Republican senator from South Dakota, told "The Hill" newspaper that he has been in contact with Mitt Romney's vetting team, that he talked to Beth Myers, who is leading up that effort. There does seem to be some momentum building toward some kind of development in that department, but at this point the campaign is just not sharing it.
SAVIDGE: There's no question the Romney campaign would like to change the tune away from Bain. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.
ACOSTA: You bet.
SAVIDGE: Romney by the way will be in Ohio Wednesday. But President Obama as you know is there right now. He just wrapped up a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, live images here.
And this is Mr. Obama's eighth trip to the battleground state just this year. In his opening remarks, the president stepped up his outsourcing attacks on Romney. He used a report by a group, Tax Notes, to claims Romney wants to ship jobs overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have not found any serious economic study that says Governor Romney's economic plan would actually create jobs until today.
I have got to be honest. Today, we found out there's a new study out by nonpartisan economists that says Governor Romney's economic plan would in fact create 800,000 jobs. There's only one problem. The jobs wouldn't be in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: We should point out that Romney does favor a territorial tax system, which would eliminate taxes on profits made by American companies in other countries.
But some of President Obama's advisers favor that idea as well, including members of his Export Council and his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Well, we have got a lot more ahead this hour. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we just pray, lord, that they are found and they are brought back to their families.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Few leads, but lots of questions today over the disappearance of two Iowa girls. They went for a bike ride and then simply vanished.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm really trying to stay positive and I'm praying and hope that God just returns them to us safely.
SAVIDGE: Now the search for clues, anything to help find them.
And those two Americans taken hostage in Egypt, they have been freed just hours ago. Find out how it went down.
And later, living proof that persistence really does pay off -- how this man recovered his stolen car 42 years later.
SAVIDGE: Fighting has rocked Damascus, Syria. Reports from the city say the battles waged today are the heaviest yet in the Syrian capital. We just received this video, actually. Let's watch and listen.
And, again, you're watching fighting that raged today in the Syrian capital, Damascus. That's a city of nearly two million people. And among those living there of course Syria's leaders, and they now can hear the fighting.
Meantime, the Syrian regime has been rocked by a series of defections. One of these defectors has granted an interview with CNN's Ivan Watson.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nawaf al Fare was Syria's man in Baghdad for nearly four years. That is, until a few days ago when the Syrian ambassador to Iraq suddenly announced his defection.
(on camera): What prompted you to say, I have had it, I don't want to work with this government anymore?
NAWAF AL FARES, FORMER SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ (through translator): I served the Syrian regime for 34 years and in many different positions but after what happened in the last year during the holy revolution, all of the killing, the massacres, the refugees, I don't see how anyone can remain silent. So I decided to end my relationship with regime.
WATSON (voice-over): Fares one of al Assad's trusted lieutenants, an insider who knows how the Syrian government works.
(on camera): Who is making the decisions in Damascus right now?
FARES: The regime in Syria is a totalitarian regime and dictatorship. There's only one person who gives orders, that person is the president.
WATSON (voice-over): In his first interview with the U.S. news organization since his defection, Fares rejected Syrian government claims that the Syrian rebels are al Qaeda terrorists. Instead, he accuses the Assad regime of cooperating with al Qaeda ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, by paving the way by al Qaeda militants to transit Syria to attack targets in neighboring Iraq.
FARES: Bashar al Assad and his security forces are directly responsible for the killings of thousands and thousands of Iraqis and coalition forces, because he gave al Qaeda everything it needed. He trained them and gave them shelter.
WATSON: Fares points to a controversial cross border U.S. military raid in 2008 against the Syrian town of Al Sukariya. Fares claims the American target was an al Qaeda camp run by Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of the Syrian president.
(on camera): You saw with your own eyes that Assef Shawkat was leading this al Qaeda in Iraqi operation?
FARES: One hour after the raid, Assef Shawkat was there at the location. A conversation took place between me and him, and he was angry by the attack made against Al Sukariya. He was kind of scared.
WATSON (voice-over): Fares is now in Doha, under the protection of the Qatari government.
Syrian opposition members applaud the ambassador's defection, but tell CNN they don't trust a man who waited 16 months before joining the uprising.
(on camera): What message would you like to send to Bashar al Assad and to your former colleagues in the Syrian government right now?
FARES: My former colleagues, I ask them to join the people and leave this corrupt regime. There is still time.
To Bashar al Assad, I say, you don't know history. Two wills cannot be defeated: the will of God and the will of the people. History will curse you for the crimes you committed in Syria.
WATSON (voice-over): A blunt warning from a man who was once of the Syrian regime's top enforcers.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SAVIDGE: His most prized possession, it was stolen more than four decades ago. But it's a good thing he never gave up on finding it -- up next, how this man tracked down his beloved Austin-Healey after 42 years.
SAVIDGE: If it's interesting and happening right now, you're about to see it. We call it "Rapid Fire." Let's go.
A U.S. Navy ship fired at a small boat in the Persian Gulf today after it moved too close. USNS Rappahannock, which is a fuel resupply ship, took aim at what officials describe as a pleasure boat 10 miles out of the Dubai port of Jebel Ali. Officials say the Rappahannock issued a verbal warning and then a warning shot before firing. One person on the smaller boat was apparently killed.
The court-martial of a former Air Force instructor, it's getting under way today at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Staff Sergeant Luis Walker faces 28 charges, including rape, adultery and aggravated sexual assault. The case is part of a wider investigation that identified at least 31 women at Lackland who said they were victims of sexual misconduct; 12 Air Force instructors are under investigation.
He helped millions of people get their lives and their careers right on track. Author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey died in Idaho at the age of 79. Covey wrote the self-help classic the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."
It's been raining so hard in southern Japan people are being swept away by overflowing rivers or buried in their homes by landslides. So far, 28 people are confirmed dead. Four are still missing and thousands have been evacuated. There's not much relief in sight, with more downpours predicted today.
A recall at Ford Motor Company. The automaker says carpet padding could interfere with the brake pedal on more than 8,000 Escape compact SUVs. The recall only applies to 2013 models.
And now to a lost-and-found story that was 42 years in the making.
Bob Russell of Texas is back with his beloved 1967 Austin-Healey. It was stolen in 1970. He kept the keys and the title and he kept an eye out. And lo and behold, just a few weeks ago, he found it for sale on eBay posted from a car dealership out of Beverly Hills.
So, after wrangling with the present owner, Russell finally got back the car he drove on his first date with a woman who is now his wife. Russell says the car runs just fine. The brakes need a little bit of work. But, by the way, the car is worth today about $23,000.
And admit it. This looks kind of fun, the world's longest human domino chain made "The Guinness Book of World Records" in Shanghai over the weekend -- 1,001 people on mattresses topple each other over.
Well, is your grass brown, your yard cracked? In dozens of counties throughout the United States, people are seeing the worst drought in years. Chad Myers will join us next.
Plus, a settlement with MasterCard and Visa, it sounds pretty good, but it actually means you, the customer, could be paying more.
And just a quick note. For those you heading out the door, you can continue watching CNN from your mobile phone or, if you're heading to work, you can also watch CNN live from your desktop.
All you have to do is just go CNN.com/TV.
SAVIDGE: Visa and MasterCard are going to have to pay billions of dollars to settle a huge antitrust lawsuit, but the deal could end up costing anyone who prefers credit over cash.
Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.
And, Alison, who is the big winner here?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly not consumers, Martin, come out as the winners, but retailers they come out on top because they no longer have to eat the costs of swipe fees on these credit card transactions.
Their lawsuit had alleged that Visa and MasterCard were conspiring to fix prices and prohibit retailers from passing on these transaction fees to consumers. Keep in mind a judge still has to approve this settlement, but if the judge does give the OK in this, that fee could be passed right onto us early next year. So it may be more expensive to use a credit card vs. cash. It's kind of like when you go to a gas station, you pay a lower price for cold hard cash compared to the old plastic -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Yes. How much extra could card users end up having to pay on these charges, if they are passed along?
KOSIK: Well, right now, if they are passed along, it would be anywhere between 2 percent and 3 percent. It depends on the type of transaction that you make and whether or not you use a Visa or a MasterCard.
Right now that's exactly what retailers pay Visa and MasterCard for the transactions. Plus, these retailers pay a fat fee of 10 cents per purchase. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it really adds up. It's a huge deal to retailers. It really adds up to billions of dollars for them and it winds up being among the biggest costs of running their business.
But keep in mind for consumers, we're still in the early stages of this. The government could step in and help consumers. We already saw that happen with debit cards. The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law cut swipe fees for debit cards in half. So help could still be on the way to maybe cut that 2 to 3 percent down a bit, so consumers don't have to eat too much of that cost -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: We will keep an eye out for that.
How are the markets, by the way?
KOSIK: Looks like modestly lower right now, the Dow down 30 points. We're seeing a little pressure on the markets.
Retail sells fell in June for the third month in a row. They fell 0.5. percent. It's not a good sign, especially since you're seeing gas prices come down. Usually you would see consumers go ahead and use that disposable income and spend more money.
But it turns out it looks like they are paying down debt and they're trying to save their money more, not something that really helps move the economy forward. so right now we're seeing the markets in the red -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: No, but it helps the people. All right.
SAVIDGE: Alison Kosik, thanks very much.
SAVIDGE: More than 900 people showed up this weekend to help track down two missing girls. Now authorities say they don't need volunteers.
We're "On the Case" next.
SAVIDGE: More alleged victims are coming forward against convicted pedophile, Jerry Sandusky, but these accusations stretch much further into the past. Sources say three men claim that Sandusky abused them in the 1970s and the '80s.
Sandusky was convicted last month of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. He is awaiting sentencing and he could get more than 400 years in prison.
Defense attorney Joey Jackson is "On the Case" for us. And, Joey, let me ask you this. These first accusations to surface from before 1994, that makes them very interesting, but there seems to also blow a hole in the defense argument that Sandusky would not have suddenly become a pedophile at the age of 50, right?
JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know what, Martin? They really do and that's problematic for the defense in that their client is being sentenced. And at that sentence, there's things called mitigating factors and they -- you know, look, the jury heard the arguments and the jury strenuously rejected those arguments.
Why? Because 45 and 48 counts getting convicted, it seems a clear indication of what the jury believed. Now, of course, we remember the argument made as to a person not becoming a pedophile in their 50s. If these allegations and accusations are correct, it certainly blows a hole in that.
The issue would then be how credible they are and, if the credibility is relied upon and if indeed they are credible accusations, it represents further problems.
But you know what, Martin? There's no reason at this point to think that the judge is going to do anything other than sentence Mr. Sandusky to life in any event.
SAVIDGE: Well, we know the grand jury is investigating that led to Sandusky's arrest and that is still going on, I believe. So, would you expect that maybe these men would at least testify and, if so, could it be possible of more charges against Sandusky?
JACKSON: You know, the problem is the statute of limitations issue. Pennsylvania has a very lenient statute of limitations and, in terms of criminals charges, you if you're a victim until your 50th birthday in order to move forward criminally. If you're looking for civil lawsuits, then it's age 30. So it's very liberal.
There are other states throughout the union, Martin, that are thinking about doing that because, you know, look, these children need to be protected and sometimes even when they reach the age of majority -- that is, 18 -- they still don't feel comfortable even by coming forward.
And we see that because of all the other victims that have been put forth. And, so, at a minimum, even if there's not criminal charges, we certainly would expect their cooperation and anticipate that they would have further things to say which only spells other trouble for Mr. Sandusky and the Penn State community, unfortunately.
SAVIDGE: You know, I think it's already well aware that we're probably going to see some huge payouts in the civil suits against Sandusky and Penn State and certainly anybody that is abused deserves the money they should get.
But I'm wondering as you who used to be a prosecutor, how do you verify the stories when they stretch so far back in time?
JACKSON: You know, it's very difficult, Martin, and I think one of the things that the university did to their credit, the board of trustees, was to hire Mr. Freeh, right, of the FBI or formerly so, so that he could investigate, so that he can have people go and send just a panel of people out, whether they be lawyers, investigators, and other people to give an indication of what was happening at the university.
Who were the victims? What are the extents of the victims? Who do they know? What happened? Are the accusations accurate? Are they credible? What systems were designed to protecting them, if any?
And we all know, having read that report, 267-page document, that it was pretty chilling, just in terms of the culture of the school, what was going on there. It certainly didn't indict the college or the community. They're harmless parties who just need to educate people.
But in terms of what was going on, it was very problematic and very tough.
So, the answer is it's difficult because there's a time-lapse that has gone on, but at the same time, there are people around who are willing to give information which is very helpful and very critical, not only for what happened in the past, Martin, but what we could protect going forward, in terms of children from being abused.
I want to move onto this other nightmarish case that's coming out of Iowa. Two young cousins out for a summer bike ride near a lake, disappeared on Friday, eight-year old Elizabeth Collins, who's on the left of your screen, and 10-year old Lyric Cook-Morrissey is on the right.
And earlier I spoke with the FBI special agent in charge of the case.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
THOMAS METZ, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE (via telephone): We have put Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook's faces on the billboards in three states in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.
We have also deployed our child abduction rapid response team and are in the process of calling out our human-scent evidence team, as well.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Joey, more than a thousand volunteers joined the search over the weekend, but now authorities are suspending that volunteer effort and here's my question for you. Does that seem to imply a significant change in the case?
JACKSON: It may not and here's why. I think that a lot of people, of course, have good intentions. They want to come forward and they want to assist in any way they can.
This is a gut wrenching story. You have an eight and a 10-year-old, you know, precious children. They're cousins. They go out in a small community of less than 5,000 people, 4,700, I believe, and there's no chase of them.
And, so, certainly, there's on outpouring of community support, in terms of being helpful, but sometimes too many cooks may spoil the broth. And as a result of that, you may want to limit the amount of people who are there. They may have other information perhaps about the case.
And, as a result of that, I think, you know, maybe they're just saying, look, we welcome and encourage people who are interested and want to get involved, but at this point, let us just go about our business of trying to locate them.
SAVIDGE: Yeah, well, regardless, we hope for the safe return of those two little girls.
Thank you, Joey Jackson, very much.
JACKSON: We sure do.
SAVIDGE: Meet a man who creates brand new worlds through a magical marriage of art and technology. Scott Snibbe has designed a way to put the cosmos in the palm of your hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT SNIBBE, SOFTWARE ARTIST: You know, before the iPad, I used to joke that I made useless programs, but they're as useless as a song, a movie, a story, something like that.
And all of the sudden with the iPad, I could just go directly to people and say, check this thing out. We don't even have to label what it is. It's just called "Gravilux." It's called "Bubble Harp." See if you like it and, you know, all of the sudden they did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: To find out more about Scott Snibbe and his interactive worlds of wonder tune into "The Next List" this Sunday, July 22nd at 2:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
Dizziness, confusion from a lack of oxygen in a combat fighter jet. We're examining the problem inside the cockpit of the F-22.
SAVIDGE: Pilots behind the stick of one of the military's fanciest fighters, not to mention costliest, have been hampered by a lack of oxygen flow. Needless to say, this brought a new level of stress to flying the F-22 Raptor.
Chris Lawrence is with us now from the Pentagon and, Chris, what's been happening?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Marty, just in the last few weeks, there have been two more emergency situations involving oxygen and pilots flying this F-22.
In one of them in late June, the pilot said, as he was coming in to his final approach, he said he's not getting enough oxygen through his face mask. Now, he was able to still land that plane safely, but as a safety precaution, they said when you get on the ground engage the emergency oxygen system. That pumps pure oxygen to the pilot to sort of make up for what may have been lost while he was in the air.
Then he reported tightness in his chest and it was later found out that he had a partially collapsed lung because of too much oxygen rushing in, so definitely a problem there that the Air Force is taking a look at.
And also, there was another incident just two weeks after that and which also involved the oxygen system, Marty.
SAVIDGE: And there's been previous ones as I recollect involving oxygen on an F-22 and I'm wondering are these related?
LAWRENCE: The Air Force says they are not, in that, these two latest incidents, they know what caused them. They think it was a safety valve that malfunctioned, a blocked tube. They think they know what happened in these two.
They are still trying to figure out why there were problems with the oxygen system in these other incidents. At one point the Air Force determined that the pilots of these F-22s were experiencing hypoxia at about ten times the other rate of the other pilots.
That's still a fraction of the man-hours that they're actually flying, but you can imagine flying at twice the speed of sound and all of a sudden you're dizzy, tightness of chest. You're feeling very confused. Very, very scary.
SAVIDGE: Yeah, it is indeed. I don't want to sound silly in light of that, but, I mean, is there any warranty or anything that covers these costs or is this something the government eats or who pays for it?
LAWRENCE: Taxpayers and the Air Force, they've got to look into it, got to do the maintenance. There have already been several restrictions placed on the F-22.
They've had it flying at a lower altitude. They've told the pilots not to wear this inflatable vest that's supposed to counteract the effects of G-force a little bit. They thought maybe that may be restricting their breathing.
And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta even ordered that the F-22 should only fly within a certain range. In other words, if the pilot did start to get confused while he was flying, he'd be close enough to get back to base.
SAVIDGE: Wow. Chris Lawrence, thanks very much, from the Pentagon.
Florida election officials get federal help in their attempt to clean up voter registration rolls, but critics say they are going too far. The debate over voter fraud, that's next.
SAVIDGE: Two Americans are released from captivity in Egypt and security officials there say they did not give into kidnappers to make it happen.
This is Pastor Michel Louis from Boston. On Friday, an Egyptian named Jirmy Abu-Mashu, allegedly kidnapped Louis, Lissa Alphonse, and their translator, demanding the release of his uncle from jail in exchange for the American's freedom. Authorities say that uncle had been arrested with a half ton of drugs in another city. The Americans were traveling in the Sinai Peninsula to Israel for a church mission when men attacked their tour bus.
The pastor's children explained how he intervened when the kidnappers tried to take Alphonse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND JEAN LOUIS, SON OF KIDNAPPED U.S. PASTOR: Being the leader -- not only being the leader of the missionary group, my mom said that he stood up and he just asked that they leave the lady and take him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Our reporter in Cairo, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, said that the kidnapper remains free and it's still really not clear how the release happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED FADEL FAHMY: We know the kidnapper is free and he's out there. I spoke to the hostages as soon as they were released and arrived at the police station.
The message from Mr. Michel Louis was, all I can see is thank God and our governors for securing our release. We are heading directly to Israel to join the members of our church as soon as we get our passports sent to us from Cairo.
I tell my family I'm in good health and I've not taken my medicine since Friday, so I'm a little tired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Alphonse says that she and the group were, quote, "treated well" during their time with the kidnappers.
Florida election officials have a new way to help verify who is not eligible and who is to vote in their state. They've been given access to a federal data base operated by the Department of Homeland Security.
The critics worry about Florida's efforts to prevent fraud and how it could also prevent eligible voters from casting ballots. Here's CNN's John Zarrella.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For months, the state of Florida has been wrangling with the federal government over access to a federal database. Now, this federal database has lists of people who are in the country legally, but not eligible to vote.
Well, over the weekend Florida and the Department of Homeland Security finally arrived at an agreement which will allow Florida access to that database so that it can go through and look for people in the state who probably shouldn't be on the voter rolls. Now, Governor Rick Scott said this morning on CNN that this was, in fact, an important step.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I don't know anybody, any supervisor of elections, anybody in our state who thinks non-U.S. citizens ought to be voting in our races, so it's going to be good for all our citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: State election officials will now have to be trained on exactly how to use that database, how to go through the database. Once that happens, they'll begin the process of sending names of questionable people to supervisors of elections in the various counties.
Now, Democrats are saying already that, look, it seems very suspicious that governors in Republican states all the sudden have gotten together and are trying to go through and purge voter records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH CEASAR, CHAIRMAN, BROWARD COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: What I find disingenuous is the fact that all these Republican governors from all over the country who live thousands of miles apart seem to have come up with a situation where they've come up with the same idea of a voter purge, at the same time, and with the very same methodology.
I'm skeptical. There's very few coincidences in life and there are none in politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Critics say they hope that using this federal database will make this a more fair process, but at the same time, they say this is not an apple-pie issue and they are concerned that it will still single-out minority groups.
SAVIDGE: Thank you, John.
Preventing the spread of HIV, the FDA approves a new drug that could lower your risk.
SAVIDGE: We are just a few minutes away from the top of the hour. Wolf Blitzer and "The Situation Room" up next and Wolf is here with a preview. Good to see you, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Lots of news, Martin -- thanks very much -- including a lot of political news, the race for the White House. Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, will be joining us live in the coming hour. She caused quite a stir by some comments she made about Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, when he left, when he didn't leave or whatever, so we're going to speak to her this coming hour, as well.
We're also getting some news on potentially a drug that could deal with HIV in a very, very significant way and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health will join us live in our 6:00 p.m. hour, our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour here in "The Situation Room," some important information that our viewers are going to want to know all about.
So, we've got a lot of news coming up right here in "The Situation Room."
One more thing. Elise Labott, our State Department reporter, is interviewing the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Jerusalem. I think that interview is taking place right now. We're going to have a major portion of that interview in the 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
So, once again, lots of news, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Wow. An extra hour. You can never have too much Wolf. Thank you, Wolf Blitzer.
Well, the Food and Drug Administration announced the first of its kind today. A new medication that can reduce the risk of contracting the virus that causes AIDS.
Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now live with the details1. And, Elizabeth, it's called Truvada -- am I saying it right -- and it's already on market.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Right. It's already on the market, Martin, but for people who already have HIV. That's who's supposed to get it now.
What is new here is the FDA says that it's OK to give it to people who are healthy right now, but who are at a particularly high risk of getting HIV, so, for example, gay men. It decreases the risk by 62 percent that those people would get HIV in the future.
SAVIDGE: Some groups now have lobbied against this drug? Why?
COHEN: Right. It sounds like a great drug. In many ways, it is a great drug. But here's an important "but." Here's the situation.
The drug itself can cause problems. It can cause bone-thinning and it can also cause kidney problems.
And some groups are saying, wait a minute, why are we giving a drug that can cause problems to people who are healthy when we can just tell those people, hey, use condoms and that way you won't get HIV?
SAVIDGE: And the other question that always comes up with new medications, how much is it going to cost?
COHEN: Right. It's about $1,200 a month, so that's pretty steep. And it's interesting to see, will insurance companies pay for that?
You know, it's not a guarantee that people won't get HIV, just like condoms are not a guarantee that people won't get HIV, so it will be interesting to see if insurance companies will pay for healthy people to take this preventive drug.
SAVIDGE: Still, it's very welcomed news. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.
SAVIDGE: A U.S. Navy ship fired at a small boat in the Persian Gulf after it moved too close. We're talking about the U.S. Rappahannock which is a fuel resupply ship. It took aim at what officials describe as a "pleasure boat" 10 miles outside of the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.
Officials say the Rappahannock issued a verbal warning and then a warning shot before firing. One person on the smaller boat was apparently killed.
He helped millions of people get their lives and their careers right on track. Author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey died in Idaho. He was 79. Covey wrote the self-help classic, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."
It has been raining so hard in Southern Japan that people are being swept away by overflowing rivers or buried in their homes by landslides. So far now, 28 people are confirmed dead. Four people are still missing and thousands have been evacuated. There is not, unfortunately, much relief seen in sight with more downpours predicted today.
And then there's this. A freak tornado in Poland caught on camera. This powerful tornado was captured as it ripped through a town in Northwestern Poland. Amazing imagery from that part of the world.
One person is dead and 10 others were injured after this freak wave of storms battered the country. A witness reported seeing this tornado suck up everything in its path. That would be birds, debris and even water from a lake.
We see them in the U.S., but we don't see them often overseas.
That does it for me. I'm Martin Savidge. Thanks for joining me.
Wolf Blitzer is in "THE SITUATION ROOM," next.